Current Projects

Evaluation of Structured Interdisciplinary Bedside Rounds (SIBR) at the Orange Health Service

A/Prof Gabriel Shannon, A/Prof Catherine Hawke, Dr Georgina Luscombe, Dr Hazel Dalton, A/Prof Julie Johnson (Centre for Clinical Governance Research, UNSW)

The SIBR ward (Acute Medical Unit) at the Orange Health Service has been the pilot for the In Safe Hands initiative of the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) in NSW. The aim of the In Safe Hands initiative is to increase interdisciplinary communication and collaboration and thereby improve team functioning, patient care and staff satisfaction. The ward is structured such that an interdisciplinary team (including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals) is based on the ward as part of a patient-centred model of care. At the heart of the ward function, staff employ a highly Structured Interdisciplinary Bedside ward Round (SIBR) at approximately the same time daily. They take input from the patient and family, nursing, allied health and medical staff and set a daily plan and goals for the patient. The aim of the AMU ward is to increase communication and team behaviour and thereby improve patient care and staff satisfaction. In collaboration with the CEC and the Centre for Clinical Governance Research, the pilot is being evaluated on the basis of clinical outcomes as well as team function, staff and patient satisfaction. At the 2013 NSW Health Awards, the SIBR ward was a finalist for the Patients as Partners award with Dr Gabriel Shannon awarded the Collaborative Leader of the Year award.

Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre (YAW CRC): Exploring the role of technologies in improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

First national survey: rural versus metropolitan comparisons

Dr Jane Burns (YAW CRC), Prof Ian Hickie (BMRI, University of Sydney), Prof Helen Christensen (Black Dog Institute), Tracey Davenport (Academic Research and Statistical Consulting), Dr Georgina Luscombe

The Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre is a national body, funded by the Australian Government, with 70 partner organisations. The organisation is primarily concerned with exploring the role of technologies in improving young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

The recently conducted YAW CRC first national survey includes information on the following:

  • Demographics including information about occupation, highest level of education of respondent and household, living status and receipt of government benefits.
  • General health and wellbeing.
  • Health, happiness and resilience.
  • Health perceptions of Australian youth.
  • Eating behaviours and body image.
  • Internet use by young people.


The School of Rural Health has been granted access to the computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) survey which comprises 1,400 youth aged 16-25 years (420 of whom are rural), and will examine differences between rural and metropolitan-based youth in terms of mental health and wellbeing, and use of information and communication technologies.

Occupational Health and Safety – Human exposure to Zinc Phosphide during the on-farm preparation of mouse baits

A/Prof Tony Brown, A/Prof Anthony Lower (Australian Centre for Agricultural Health & Safety, University of Sydney), A/Prof Dino Pisaniello (Occupational and Environmental Hygiene Laboratory, University of Adelaide)

In times of mouse plagues, grain growers require rapid access to effective baits to control vermin. Commercial supplies of Zinc Phosphide bait may be limited, but it is possible for farmers to produce their own. In collaboration with the Australian Centre for Agricultural Health and Safety and the Occupational and Environmental Health Laboratory, we are investigating the safe on-farm production of Zinc phosphide mouse bait, to allow formal regulatory approval for this process.

School of Rural Health Students Outcomes

A/Prof Tony Brown, Dr Hazel Dalton, Dr Georgina Luscombe

The School of Rural Health is funded by the Australian Commonwealth Government under what is now the Rural Clinical Training and Support (RCTS) Program. The rationale for the program has been to increase the number of doctors practising rurally. The hypothesis has been that long-term rural placements will increase the likelihood that medical students will ultimately choose a rural career. The scheme is underpinned by sound evidence for the association between rural exposure and rural medical career uptake. We are keenly tracking our alumni in their medical careers, particularly their choice of location to practice. In addition to our own records, the School of Rural Health encourages its students to participate in the Medical Students Outcomes Database (MSOD) surveys, as well as the Federation of Rural and Medical Educators (FRAME) surveys. These combined databases are yielding insights into where our students go and what is motivating their career choices.

Working with the Office of Medical Education in the Sydney Medical School, we have tracked former University of Sydney medical students, using the Medical Students Outcomes Database (MSOD). For the graduating years of 2008-2010, we have found a significant association between taking an extended rural placement at the School of Rural Health and both the intention to and actual uptake of a rural internship; a much stronger association than rural background in this group (PMID: 24329657).

Vibrio infections: antibiotic treatment and patient health outcomes (COVIS CDC data)

Dr Kam Cheong Wong, Dr Kumara Mendis, A/Prof Tony Brown, Dr Hazel Dalton, Shin Jie Wong, Dr Georgina Luscombe

Vibrio infections caused by V. cholera and other Vibrio such as V. parahaemolyticus are critical causes of morbidity and mortality in the world. Access to the USA Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cholera and other Vibrio Illness Surveillance (COVIS) data for the period 1990-2010 has been granted.

This project aims to describe the cumulative Vibrio isolates and associated morbidities and mortality rates over different epochs of time, to analyse the proportion of patients who took antibiotics as treatment of the illness and explore patient outcomes e.g. hospitalisation, morbidity. In addition it will be possible to analyse the effect of different types of antibiotics on patient outcomes.

Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) - evaluating health outcomes

Dr Gerald Chitsunge (RFDS), Dr Peter Brendt (RFDS) and Dr Marc Schnekenburger (RFDS), Mrs Karen Paxton, A/Prof Tony Brown, Dr Kumara Mendis

In collaboration with the RFDS South Eastern Section, the School of Rural Health are evaluating health outcomes as result of fixed-wing air medical retrieval. This work has included endotracheal tube cuff pressure before, during, and after fixed-wing air medical retrieval (PMID: 23252881). The group is now focussed on cardiac retrievals.

The development of a population health program in a regional Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service

Dr Matthew Day, A/Prof Catherine Hawke, A/Prof Wendy Stevens (UWS), Ms Tegan Edwards (UWS), Mr Jamie Newman and all staff at the Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS), Dr Georgina Luscombe

The aims of the current research project are:

  1. To document and assess the development of a Population Health Program at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS).
  2. To evaluate specific initiatives developed as a result of the Population Health Program.


The group has been awarded an Evidence to Practice grant from the Cancer Institute NSW for "Tobacco control in Central Western NSW Aboriginal communities: developing a consistent patient journey through promoting health services integration". The long term vision of this project is for Aboriginal people to have a consistent patient journey and seamless access to tobacco control services, follow up and support, regardless of the health provider through which they access the system. The School of Rural Health is assisting OAMS with the development and evaluation of the project.