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Health & Wellbeing: Translation, Integration & Innovation
Research within our Health and Wellbeing theme explores how health initiatives can prevent disease and illness, promote good health and wellbeing, encourage healthy lifestyles in individuals and communities, and reduce the cost and impact of illness. The environments in which we live, the social, economic and cultural background from which we come, and the work we do all affect our physical and mental wellbeing. We take an integrated approach to health research, working collaboratively across sectors and involving all levels of care from community through to tertiary.
Despite continuous improvements in medicine and medical care, the need for this care, alongside preventative strategies, is growing. One in four children are overweight or obese. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey, the prevalence of daily smoking for Australians aged 18 and over in 2020–21 was 10.7%, and 10.3% among people aged 15 years and over. Almost one in five people consume alcohol in such a way that it puts them at risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury. There is great disparity in health service access and health out comes across Australia's diverse population. Western’s effective, research-led interventions focus on the complex factors contributing to health and well being outcomes.
- Joyce Siette
Research Excellence in Health and Wellbeing
Western has research expertise across a range of health and medical research specialisations, from e-health service delivery and reaction chromatography diagnostics to translational cancer research and sports science. The NICM Health Research Institute conducts world-leading research into complementary therapies, bridging the gap between these widely-used therapies and evidence of their effectiveness. The Translational Health Research Institute (THRI) conducts research into chronic disease, mental health, Indigenous health, human geography and health services bringing together leading researchers who are oriented to the translation of research into community health services and policy, and concerned with the needs of the individual within a complex health system.
Tackling Diabetes in Western Sydney
Western Sydney faces an epidemic of diabetes. Western Sydney’s diabetes hospitalisations are almost twice that of the rest of Sydney. In the health districts of western Sydney over half the population is overweight or obese.
Diabetes costs the Australian health system around six billion dollars every year. Interventions that lower rates of illness and reduce costs here in western Sydney, the diabetes frontline, will work Australia-wide.
Professor David Simmons and a team of researchers from the University are working with local communities, clinicians from hospitals and general practices across western Sydney to end the epidemic. Their goal: lower rates of diabetes in western Sydney through initiatives to prevent obesity, diabetes and associated complications.
David and the team are taking a threefold approach. Prevent diabetes in relation to other illnesses and conditions, including pregnancy, retinopathy, nephropathy and cardiovascular disease; educate health professionals in diabetes management; and support those with the illness to self-manage.
One project—The Pasifika Preventing Diabetes Program—is supported through an NHMRC partnership grant. David is working with the Pasifika community church networks and 13 partner organisations. including Local Health Districts and Primary Health Networks across Greater Western and South Eastern Sydney, to reduce the diabetes epidemic in these community.
Health and wellbeing are complex phenomena shaped by a wide range of factors including institutions, health systems, socio-economic resources, cultural attitudes, gender, and age. There is an urgent need for interdisciplinary research across behavioural, health, biomedical, social sciences and the humanities that can engage community, policy makers, clinicians, not-for-profit organisations and private enterprise in generating solutions that can support health and wellbeing across the lifecycle.
The Health and Wellbeing White Papers bring together interdisciplinary and collaborative teams to showcase the distinctive expertise and capacities of health and wellbeing research at Western Sydney University. The teams undertake agile, interdisciplinary, collaborative research with a broad range of partners across the health and wellbeing sector and aim to build a robust community of practice committed to person-centred care, evidence-based practice, and systemic change, locally, nationally and internationally. These teams are well-positioned to intervene in contemporary health challenges, in Western Sydney and beyond.
The Health & Wellbeing Theme is proud to present a summary of activities throughout 2020-2021. Despite the intense difficulties over this period imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Theme continues to grow, expanding its reach and impact. The research-led discoveries, interventions and innovations covered in this report take as their focus the complex and intersecting factors which contribute to health and wellbeing outcomes. Collaboration is at the core of Theme activity, should you have any questions or inquiry please do get in touch.
Click here to download the 2020-2021 Health and Wellbeing Research Theme report.
Research Capacity Map - This map highlights key areas of research strength at our metropolitan precincts related to the Research Theme. If you would like to know more about a specific precinct or key capacity, please contact the Champions of this Research Theme