NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Recovery Following Road Traffic Injuries

Professor Michele Sterling is associate director of RECOVER Injury Research Centre and the director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Recovery Following Road Traffic Injuries.

The Centre of Research Excellence in Recovery Following Road Traffic Injuries addresses the urgent need to improve health outcomes for individuals with non-hospitalised road traffic crash injury through translational research, capacity building and end-user engagement focused on primary care and community-based interventions.

The health burden created by major injuries, such as spinal cord and brain injury, is clearly recognised. What is not so well recognised is the costly impact associated with the large number of non-hospitalised injuries that occur each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Despite the fact that non-hospitalised minor injuries comprise about 75 per cent of all survivable road traffic crash injuries, the poor physical and mental health outcomes in this group receive little research attention.

Our research and that of others has shown that up to 50 per cent of these individuals will develop chronic pain and long-term disability and a significant proportion (up to 30 per cent) will have mental health problems such as post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Individuals with mental health problems report higher levels of disability, pain and reduced physical function and are associated with double the healthcare utilisation and greater time off work compared to those with physical injury alone.

Centre of Research Excellence in Telehealth

Professor Deborah Theodoros is director of RECOVER Injury Research Centre and a chief investigator for the Centre of Research Excellence in Telehealth.

The Centre of Research Excellence in Telehealth (CRE) supports researchers to collaborate and develop capacity in telehealth and was officially launched in September 2014. Thanks to funding by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the CRE has the potential to improve healthcare for all Australians.

Government and non-government groups are aiming to remove barriers to access medical services for all Australians. The CRE is particularly focussed on researching ways in which equal access to specialist care can be achieved through telehealth. The long-term goal for the CRE is that patients using telehealth facilities in general practices, eligible residential aged care facilities, at home and rural small hospitals will be able to ‘see’ specialists without the time and expense involved in travelling to major cities.

While the potential benefits of telehealth are often acknowledged, particularly in Australia where the distances are great and the population widely dispersed, the integration of telehealth within mainstream clinical practice is limited. The CRE aims to address a range of questions such as:

  • What health needs are currently being unmet that could be met using telehealth?
  • What are the barriers to telehealth implementation? Why is there still a poor uptake of telehealth?
  • What expertise and training are required to implement telehealth?
  • How does the cost of providing telehealth compare to the outcome?