Preventing lifestyle-related chronic health problems
Australia, like most of the rest of the world, is facing a new type of disease epidemic – chronic disease. Factors such as smoking, harmful alcohol use, poor nutrition and physical inactivity are causing an epidemic in chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer and diabetes. These chronic diseases are not only the leading cause of death in this country, they restrict how millions of Australians live every day.
Australia has a strong tradition of developing and investing in prevention to deliver major health gains. These gains include high rates of immunisation and seatbelt use, restrictions on driving under the influence of alcohol, and changes to sleeping positions to prevent sudden infant death. Australia has also made progress in chronic disease, for example in tobacco and blood pressure controls, which have substantially contributed to the halving of deaths from heart disease and stroke. But we have a long way to go to help everyone, particularly high-risk and vulnerable groups, reduce their risk of chronic disease.
Read a factsheet to find out more about our work (PDF 212KB).
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A lot of work in prevention has targeted individual behaviour, but many things, including where we work, eat, play and live, and our access to work and education, all affect our health. It is not enough to simply urge Australians to eat better and exercise more. We need to look at the wider systems that can help or hinder behaviours that cause chronic health problems. We need to look in depth at our communities, our food systems, our environments and work places and how each of these interacts to create communities in which healthy behaviours are the easier, more sustainable choices.
The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre is finding out how we can build an effective, efficient and equitable system for the prevention of lifestyle-related chronic disease.
We are a national initiative that is identifying new ways of understanding what works and what doesn’t to prevent lifestyle-related chronic disease. Our work is co-produced by academic researchers, health system practitioners and policy makers from across Australia.
Taking a systems approach, our program of work will:
- Strengthen the evidence base for the prevention of lifestyle-related chronic disease
- Create and make readily available knowledge, either new or through syntheses of what is already known
- Build capacity to make more informed choices about prevention at policy, strategy, program and implementation levels.
The Centre aims to provide health decision makers with the best evidence to inform their policies and programs. We want to provide the evidence and tools for a comprehensive systems approach to preventing chronic health problems that includes working in the health system as well as in sectors outside of it, such as in schools, food production and retailing, and urban planning.
We want to achieve the following:
- New ways for researchers, policy and program practitioners to work together and form strong national networks
- Internationally significant research about innovative methods in prevention, systems science and communication of prevention
- Methods and approaches for communicating to governments and the community the value of prevention and the best investments in prevention efforts
- The development and use of frameworks, tools and strategies to activate an effective, efficient and equitable prevention system
- Increased capacity of researchers, policy makers and practitioners to use evidence and systems approaches in the design, implementation, evaluation and communication of prevention.