Flying Blind newsletter

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Human Research Ethics Committees (HRECS)

In our previous blog, The Ethics Quagmire: Case Studies you might have read the case study by Kathy Tannous concerning the difficulties she has faced getting ethics approval from three ethics committees. But are there problems closer to home for researchers, in their own institutions, even when only one HREC is involved? We think so. But the solution may also lie with these institutions, in the better application of existing guidelines. We explain how below.

The Ethics Quagmire: Case Studies

In Flying Blind 2, we have been highlighting the tortuous route of the researcher’s journey, as they negotiate the ethics processes and the myriad data sources required for their research. In the next few blogs, Australian health and medical researchers who have been through the journey, present real-life case studies and  back-of-the-envelope calculations of what it takes to identify existing data sets and negotiating the ethics processes, to link the data sets to support their research.

Outcomes of the Structural Review of NHMRC Grant Programs

In January 2016, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) CEO Professor Anne Kelso announced a review of the structure of NHMRC’s grant program. The review aimed to determine if restructuring existing programs could optimise the significant public investment (approx. $800 million per annum) disbursed through NHMRC grant programs.

Primary and Secondary Uses of Health Data

Data is the primary resource - the life blood -  that drives evidence-based health and medical (H&M) research.  Traditionally, data collected explicitly for a clinical trial, designed to answer specific questions on behavioural or bio-medical questions, served as the primary research data for H&M researchers.  This practice started when administrative health data was not readily available in computable electronic format.

Trusting Data Custodians will Transform our Healthcare

Could you tell the triage nurse in the emergency department all the medications your elderly parent is taking? Before you go to Bali this winter, do you know whether you’ve ever been vaccinated against hepatitis A? And what was the name of that antibiotic you were allergic to years back?

All this information exists, most likely in the files of a GP or specialist, or a hospital you went to for treatment a couple of years ago. It is probably even stored electronically, but can you get it when you need it? 

Linked Data After Research

We’ve already had a look at the vast array of different problems associated with attempting to track Australian health and medical research (HMR) spending. We’ve also explored the hoops that researchers have to jump through when they apply for grants or seek to gain approval from ethics committees, not to mention when they make requests for access or linkage from custodians and data gatekeepers.

Reviewing the reviews: the changing landscape of health and medical research

Health matters to Australians. Health and medical research (HMR) does too. In 2016, Research Australia polled public opinion on national priorities. Eighty eight percent of respondents highlighted improving hospitals and the health system. Seventy nine percent of respondents favoured increased HMR funding.

Making Sense of the Dollars: Health and Medical Research Expenditure in Australia

Released in February 2013, the McKeon Review marked the most comprehensive analysis of the health and medical research (HMR) sector since the Wills Review in 1998. McKeon’s words highlight one of the panel’s most alarming takeaways. At the end of the review period, despite the “combined insights of thousands of individuals who contributed their ideas and time”, meeting with “over 300 individuals from universities, MRIs, governments, hospitals, businesses and not-for-profit organisations” and receiving 400 written submissions, the panel were not able to make a confident assessment of total HMR spending.