Associate Professor Kate Curtis receives NHMRC funding to continue paediatric trauma study

Associate Professor Kate Curtis outside the Emergency Department at St George Hospital

Associate Professor Kate Curtis outside the Emergency Department at St George Hospital

In October this year, Associate Professor Kate Curtis of Sydney Nursing School and her team were successful in their application for funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), securing $501,000 to continue studies in the improvement of health outcomes in children suffering major trauma.

“Over the next 12 months we will have some amazingly powerful information to analyse and develop into strategy which can be used to inform and change health and injury prevention policy. This will include 10 years of paediatric injury information from every hospital in Australia - the types of injury, the mechanisms, the severity and the locations,” Associate Professor Curtis said.

This research will, for the first time, define and describe the incidence and causes of severe paediatric injury in Australia. Associate Professor Curtis and her team will begin with an evaluation of the paediatric trauma system in NSW and work with parents and partners to identify the most effective treatment pathways to ensure the best possible health outcomes for Australian children.

“We have begun to close a number of major gaps in paediatric trauma knowledge, allowing us to target injury-prevention campaigns and policy at specific causes, so that fewer children will suffer severe injury in the first place.”

“This study will ultimately enable policy makers and service providers to ensure that the nearly 60,000 children seriously injured annually in Australia have the best opportunity for survival, improved functional outcome and long-term quality of life, regardless of where their injury occurs,” Associate Professor Curtis said.

A total of $1.6 million has been secured to fund the Paediatric Critical Injury Research Program to date. This has been achieved in partnership with the Day of Difference Foundation which generously donated $574,000 in 2013, and recently committed an additional $70,000 towards this research. The Day of Difference Foundation was formed by Ron and Carolyn Delezio after they experienced first-hand what parents go through as a result of having their daughter, Sophie, critically injured in 2005.

“The partnership between the University of Sydney and the Day of Difference Foundation is well placed to achieve the goals of the study. The beauty and uniqueness of our relationship with the Day of Difference Foundation is that when we have our results, there is a team of motivated, clever and well connected people to turn all this research into health policy and clinical practice,” said lead investigator Associate Professor Kate Curtis.

A number of partner organisations have been involved across all phases of the project – from the initial pilot and preparatory studies, through to project design, guidance and advice throughout the study. Partners include: the Ambulance Service of NSW, the NSW Institute of Trauma & Injury Management (ITIM), the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI), NSW Kids & Families, the Australian Trauma Quality Improvement Program (AusTQIP), and The Day of Difference Foundation.

The study is a collaboration of University of Sydney researchers Professor Andrew Holland, Professor Deborah Black, Professor Johan Duflou, and Amy McCarthy; Dr Rebecca Mitchell from the University of NSW; Professor Russell Gruen from Monash University; Professor Stephen Jan from the George Institute; Professor Kim Foster from the University of Canberra; Dr Oran Rigby from the NSW Institute of Trauma and Injury Management; and Associate Professor Brian Burns from the Greater Sydney Area Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.