New journal a nexus between research and practice

Article published in Research Australia’s grassROOTS e-magazine.

Building a nexus between health research and practice is at the heart of a new high-quality, peer reviewed public health journal launched by The Sax Institute.

Public Health Research & Practice, an online-only open access journal, is focussed on research that is meaningful to those working in public health, says Editor Ms Anne Messenger. Guided by an expert editorial board chaired by Editor-in-Chief and Sax Institute CEO Professor Sally Redman, it is targeted at public health decision makers and practitioners, as well as those whose work encompasses aspects of public health.

“Our point of difference is our strong commitment to connecting public health decision makers and practitioners with research that has direct relevance to their work,” said Ms Messenger. “Our journal aims to make a real-world impact on public health policy and practice.”

The journal aims to publish high-quality papers with a special focus on innovations, data and perspectives from policy and practice. It represents a new direction for the NSW Public Health Bulletin, published for nearly a quarter of a century by the NSW Ministry of Health.

Since its launch late last year, the journal has already attracted almost 1500 subscribers, Ms Messenger said.

The first issue focussed on systems thinking in chronic disease prevention while he recently published Issue #3 explores developments in tobacco control and opportunities for policy makers and practitioners to work to reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease.

Guest editor, Dr Jo Mitchell, Director of the Centre for Population Health at NSW Health, writes: “There is general consensus that Australia’s comprehensive approach to tobacco control – strong regulation at federal and state levels, sustained community education, high-quality quit support, and targeted and tailored approaches for groups with high smoking prevalence – has contributed to this country’s continued decline in smoking”.

The journal showcases new research looking at how to reduce smoking rates further, including papers on tobacco regulation, ways to help reduce smoking in Indigenous communities, making healthcare facilities smoke-free, and on how our history of tobacco consumption is still affecting mortality rates from cancer.

A paper on smoking-attributable cancer deaths in NSW by researchers from the Cancer Institute NSW and the World Lung Foundation, Victoria, shows that smoking is responsible for an increasing proportion of cancer deaths in NSW women and that lung cancer has now overtaken breast cancer as the largest cause of female cancer death.

And tobacco treatment specialist Dr Colin Mendelsohn explores how the new NSW Health Smoke-free Health Care Policy creates a unique opportunity to assist smokers who are hospitalised to quit permanently in a supportive environment when motivation to quit is high.

Ms Messenger said the most recent issue also includes a paper on a growing phenomenon in public health – the use of social media. Professor Simon Chapman and Dr Becky Freeman’s fascinating article reveals the most-followed Australian Twitter accounts in health and medicine, with personal trainer and TV personality Michelle Bridges (@MishBridges) coming out as number one.

The Sax Institute was established to look at the question of how to make research evidence matter in health policy, services and practice, and it is this nexus between research and practice that is at the heart of Public Health Research & Practice, she said.

The Institute hopes the journal’s focus on innovations, data and perspectives from policy and practice will help drive the use of research to support policy makers, program agencies and practitioners in making decisions that are informed by evidence.

Researchers are welcome to submit manuscripts and can subscribe to receive quarterly e-alerts when the journal is published, make suggestions about themes or topics for future issues, and follow the journal on Twitter @phrpjournal

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