Rural Clinical School - Research Publications

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    Uptake of bone-modifying agents in patients with HER2+ metastatic breast cancer with bone metastases - prospective data from a multi-site Australian registry.
    Wong, V ; de Boer, R ; Dunn, C ; Anton, A ; Malik, L ; Greenberg, S ; Yeo, B ; Nott, L ; Collins, IM ; Torres, J ; Barnett, F ; Nottage, M ; Gibbs, P ; Lok, SW (Wiley, 2021-05-18)
    BACKGROUND: International practice guidelines recommend administration of bone-modifying agents (BMA) in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients with bone metastases to reduce skeletal-related events (SRE). Optimal delivery of BMA in routine clinical practice, including agent selection and prescribing intervals, remains unclear. AIM: To describe real-world practice of Australian breast oncologists. METHODS: Prospective data from February 2015 to July 2020 on BMA delivery to MBC patients with bone metastases was analysed from Treatment of Advanced Breast Cancer in the Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (HER2)-Positive Australian Patient (TABITHA), a multi-site Australian HER2+ MBC registry. RESULTS: Of 333 HER2+ MBC patients, 171 (51%) had bone metastases at diagnosis, with a mean age of 58.1 years (range, 32-87). One hundred and thirty (76%) patients received a BMA, with 90 (69%) receiving denosumab and 40 (31%) receiving a bisphosphonate. Patients who received a BMA were more likely to have received concurrent first-line systemic anti-HER2 therapy (95% vs 83%; P = 0.04), to present with bone-only metastases at diagnosis (24% vs 7%; P = 0.02) and less likely to have visceral metastases (51% vs 71%; P = 0.03). Ten of 40 (25%) bisphosphonate patients and 45 of 90 (50%) denosumab patients received their BMA at the recommended 4-weekly interval. Prescribing intervals varied over time. Adverse events reported were consistent with clinical trial data. CONCLUSION: Three-quarters of Australian HER2+ MBC patients with bone metastases receive a BMA, often at different schedules than guidelines recommend. Further studies, including all MBC subtypes, are warranted to better understand clinicians' prescribing rationale and potential consequences of current prescribing practice on SRE incidence.
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    Complication profile of augmentation cystoplasty in contemporary paediatric urology: a 20-year review
    Taghavi, K ; O'Hagan, LA ; Bortagaray, J ; Bouty, A ; Hutson, J ; O'Brien, M (WILEY, 2021-04-12)
    BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to describe the complication profile of augmentation cystoplasty in contemporary paediatric urology as well as its effect on bladder metrics. METHODS: Consecutive operative cases were retrospectively reviewed at a single institution over 20 years (1999-2019). Short- and long-term outcomes and complications following augmentation cystoplasty were defined. RESULTS: Of the 71 operative cases; the most common underlying diagnoses were neurogenic bladder (34%), exstrophy-epispadias complex (30%) and posterior urethral valves (23%). The most common tissue-type utilized was ileal (58%) and ureteric (30%). Peri-operative urine leak affected nine (13%) children but reservoir perforations were less common (4%). Mean end-of-study detrusor pressure improved significantly following bladder augmentation (38-17 cmH2 O, P < 0.001). Bladder capacity improved significantly (67-89%, P = 0.041). The median follow-up was 4.5 years (interquartile range: 1.9-10 years). Bladder urolithiasis affected 13 (18%) patients, and symptomatic urinary tract infections 36 (51%) patients. Formation of a continent catheterisable channel contributed a number of complications relating predominantly to stenosis (50%). Repeat augmentation cystoplasty was necessary in three (4%) cases. CONCLUSION: Augmentation cystoplasty is a surgical intervention that improves bladder metrics. Given the potential complications, careful patient selection and appropriate pre-operative counselling are essential. Furthermore, pro-active post-operative management and transitional care are vital in the surgical care of children following augmentation cystoplasty.
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    Using participatory action research to co-design perinatal support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex trauma.
    Reid, C ; Gee, G ; Bennetts, SK ; Clark, Y ; Atkinson, C ; Dyall, D ; Nicholson, JM ; Chamberlain, C (Elsevier BV, 2021-12-24)
    PROBLEM & BACKGROUND: Support is important for all parents but critical for those experiencing complex trauma. The The Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future project uses participatory action research to co-design effective perinatal support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents. AIM: This research aims to identify and refine culturally appropriate support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex trauma. DESIGN: We presented our synthesised eight parent support goals and 60 strategies, collated from Elder and parent focus groups, previous participatory workshops, and evidence reviews, for discussion at a stakeholder workshop. Stakeholder perspectives were captured using a three-point agreement activity and, self- and scribe-recorded comments. Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers analysised the qualitative data, to identify core factors which might facilitate or help enact the parenting related goals. FINDINGS: Overall, stakeholders (n = 37) strongly endorsed all eight goals. Workshop attendees (57% Aboriginal) represented multiple stakeholder roles including Elder, parent and service provider. Four core factors were identified as crucial for supporting parents to heal from complex trauma: Culture (cultural traditions, practices and strengths), Relationality (family, individual, community and services), Safety (frameworks, choice and control) and Timing (the right time socio-emotionally and stage of parenting). DISCUSSION: Context-specific support tailored to the Culture, Relationality, Safety, and Timing needs of parents is essential. These four factors are important elements to help enact or facilitate parenting support strategies. CONCLUSION: Further work is now required to develop practical resources for parents, and to implement and evaluate these strategies in perinatal care to address cumulative and compounding cycles of intergenerational trauma.
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    Exploring Women's Experiences of Gender-Based Violence and Other Threats to Safety on Public Transport in Bangladesh
    King, J ; King, M ; Edwards, N ; Carroll, J-A ; Watling, H ; Anam, M ; Bull, M ; Oviedo-Trespalacios, O (QUEENSLAND UNIV TECHNOLOGY, 2021-01-01)
    Equal access to safe transport is increasingly conceptualised as a fundamental right for women, with demonstrated impact on health outcomes, social and economic mobility, and societal participation. This study analysed qualitative and quantitative data to examine travel patterns and experiences among 200 women (aged between 18-64 years) using paid transport for work or educational purposes in Bangladesh. Results showed that the women faced multiple threats to their safety, including gender-based violence, harassment and crime, and traffic and non-traffic injury and that the use of paid transport was associated with high levels of anxiety and fear. Despite these circumstances, the women were captive travellers, forced to make transport choices based on price, availability, and ease of travel rather than safety. Unable to choose safe transports, the women attempted to mitigate risks by changing their travel pattern and behaviour, and by restricted their travel frequency. These findings are discussed within the context of women’s rights and mobility justice.  
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    Community Health Programs Delivered Through Information and Communications Technology in High-Income Countries: Scoping Review
    Beks, H ; King, O ; Clapham, R ; Alston, L ; Glenister, K ; McKinstry, C ; Quilliam, C ; Wellwood, I ; Williams, C ; Shee, AW (JMIR PUBLICATIONS, INC, 2022-03-01)
    BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has required widespread and rapid adoption of information and communications technology (ICT) platforms by health professionals. Transitioning health programs from face-to-face to remote delivery using ICT platforms has introduced new challenges. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this review is to scope for ICT-delivered health programs implemented within the community health setting in high-income countries and rapidly disseminate findings to health professionals. METHODS: The Joanna Briggs Institute's scoping review methodology guided the review of the literature. RESULTS: The search retrieved 7110 unique citations. Each title and abstract was screened by at least two reviewers, resulting in 399 citations for full-text review. Of these 399 citations, 72 (18%) were included. An additional 27 citations were identified through reviewing the reference lists of the included studies, resulting in 99 citations. Citations examined 83 ICT-delivered programs from 19 high-income countries. Variations in program design, ICT platforms, research design, and outcomes were evident. CONCLUSIONS: Included programs and research were heterogeneous, addressing prevalent chronic diseases. Evidence was retrieved for the effectiveness of nurse and allied health ICT-delivered programs. Findings indicated that outcomes for participants receiving ICT-delivered programs, when compared with participants receiving in-person programs, were either equivalent or better. Gaps included a paucity of co-designed programs, qualitative research around group programs, programs for patients and carers, and evaluation of cost-effectiveness. During COVID-19 and beyond, health professionals in the community health setting are encouraged to build on existing knowledge and address evidence gaps by developing and evaluating innovative ICT-delivered programs in collaboration with consumers and carers.
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    Primary healthcare clinicians' positive perceptions of the implementation of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic using normalisation process theory
    Ervin, K ; Weller-Newton, J ; Phillips, J (CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2021-03-03)
    The objective of the study was to measure implementation of telehealth for client consultations from Allied Health and Community Health clinicians' perspectives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Purposeful sampling was used to invite allied and community health clinicians to complete the survey. An online survey design, underpinned by normalisation process theory, utilising the NoMAD tool, which consists of 19 implementation assessment items. Descriptive statistics are reported. A 66% (n=24) response rate was obtained. Fifty-two percent indicated they were using telehealth for the first time. Despite the rapid implementation of telehealth for client consultations due to the pandemic crisis, participants reported positive perceptions of the use of telehealth when measured using the NoMAD. Fifty-eight percent (n=14) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that telehealth will become a normal part of their work. Despite unplanned and under-resourced implementation of telehealth, Allied Health and Community Health clinicians reported very positive perceptions. However, further education and training to ensure 'normalisation' of this model may be required.
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    'I can't go, I can't afford it': Financial concern amongst health students undertaking rural and remote placements during COVID-19
    Jessup, B ; Hoang, H ; Podubinski, T ; Obamiro, K ; Bourke, L ; Hellwege, B ; Jatrana, S ; Heaney, S ; Farthing, A ; Sheepway, L ; Rasiah, R (WILEY, 2022-03-01)
    INTRODUCTION: As the coronavirus pandemic unfolded during 2020, widespread financial uncertainty emerged amongst university students across the globe. What is not yet clear is how Australian health students were financially impacted during the initial stages of the pandemic and whether this influenced their ability to undertake planned rural or remote placements. OBJECTIVE: To examine (a) financial concern amongst health students during COVID-19, (b) the financial implications of changes to planned rural or remote placements and (c) the impact of these factors on students' ability to undertake placements during the pandemic. DESIGN: Mixed-methods design involving an online survey (n = 1210) and semi-structured interviews (n = 29). Nursing, medical and allied health students with a planned University Department of Rural Health-facilitated rural or remote placement between February and October 2020 were invited to participate. FINDINGS: 54.6% of surveyed students reported financial concern during COVID-19. Financial concern correlated with both changes in financial position and employment, with 36.6% of students reporting a reduction in income and 43.1% of students reporting a reduction in, or cessation of regular employment. Placement changes yielded a range of financial implications. Cancelled placements saved some students travel and accommodation costs, but left others out of pocket if these expenses were prepaid. Placements that went ahead often incurred increased accommodation costs due to limited availability. Financial concern and/or financial implications of placement changes ultimately prevented some students from undertaking their rural or remote placement as planned. DISCUSSION: Many nursing, allied health and medical students expressed financial concern during COVID-19, associated with a loss of regular employment and income. Placement changes also presented unforeseen financial burden for students. These factors ultimately prevented some students from undertaking their planned rural or remote placement. CONCLUSION: Universities need to consider how best to align financially burdensome placements with the personal circumstances of students during periods of economic uncertainty.
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    Police, permits and politics: Navigating life on Australia's state borders during the COVID-19 pandemic
    McCann, L ; Thompson, SC ; Rolf, F ; Podubinski, T (WILEY, 2022-03-01)
    OBJECTIVE: To explore the ways in which the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected Australians who live and travel in cross-border regions in the course of their daily lives. DESIGN: Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with participants by telephone. The analysis utilised qualitative exploratory methods and provided rich data through immersive and reflexive analysis. SETTING: Interviews of people across Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Of 90 people interviewed in relation to their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, 13 described challenges related to border crossing that impacted their usual work and personal life. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Description of challenges faced by Australians living close to state borders due to internal border closures in the early period of COVID-19 (2020). RESULTS: Policy changes surrounding border closures negatively impacted people's wellbeing in Australia with three key interconnected themes identified for Australians living in cross-border regions. First, border closures presented participants of these communities with physical barriers which reduced access to healthcare and employment. Second, participants reported how restrictions on travel to neighboring states and territories impacted their mental wellbeing. Finally, many Australians in cross-border regions faced financial struggles exacerbated by border closures. CONCLUSION: Normally, interstate borders are largely invisible with formalities relevant to few circumstances. Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians who used to regularly cross these borders in the course of their daily activities were no longer able or willing to do so due to the uncertain circumstances surrounding border policy. This study elaborates on the impact of these closures on people's physical, financial, and emotional state.
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    Self-reported skin cancer-related behaviours in rural Victoria: results from repeat cross-sectional studies in 2001-2003 and 2016-2018.
    Glenister, K ; Bougoulias, M ; Zgibor, J ; Bourke, L ; Simmons, D (Wiley, 2022-06)
    OBJECTIVE: To assess whether self-reported use of sun-protective measures and skin examination have changed between 2001 and 2018 in a rural setting. METHODS: Repeat cross-sectional survey of randomly selected households in four rural Victorian towns. People aged 16 years and older were eligible to participate. Logistic regression was used to identify demographic factors associated with sun-protective measures and skin examination. RESULTS: Overall, 5,328 participated in 2001-2003 and 2,680 in 2016-2018. Among participants who go out in the sun, the mean number of reported sun-protective measures (2.6±1.3 vs. 2.6±1.6, p=0.867) and the proportion of participants reporting usually/always using sun protection (65.1% vs. 63.9%, p=0.307) were unchanged between the two surveys. However, an increased proportion of participants reported avoiding the sun when outdoors in the more recent survey (from 18.8% to 34.3%, p<0.001). Avoiding the sun was associated with being older, female, of European origin and having post-secondary school education. Skin examination rates increased between the two surveys (32.7% to 40.8%, p<0.001). Skin examinations were associated with older age groups, European origin and post-secondary school education and being male. CONCLUSIONS: Given the small changes in sun protection over time, updated skin cancer campaigns are needed to encourage increased sun-protective behaviours and skin examinations among rural residents. IMPLICATIONS FOR PUBLIC HEALTH: Results suggest that updated health promotion campaigns targeted to rural areas are warranted.
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    Telehealth cancer care consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative study of the experiences of Australians affected by cancer
    White, V ; Bastable, A ; Solo, I ; Sherwell, S ; Thomas, S ; Blum, R ; Torres, J ; Maxwell-Davis, N ; Alexander, K ; Piper, A (SPRINGER, 2022-05-03)
    BACKGROUND: In response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth was rapidly rolled out in health services across Australia including those delivering cancer care. This study aimed to understand people with cancer and carers' experiences with telehealth for cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews conducted with people with cancer and carers via telephone or online video link between December 2020 and May 2021. Participants were recruited through cancer networks and social media. Interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis undertaken. RESULTS: Twenty-three patients and 5 carers were interviewed. Telephone-based appointments were most common. Responses to telehealth were influenced by existing relationships with doctors, treatment/cancer stage and type of appointment. Four themes were derived: (i) benefits, (ii) quality of care concerns, (iii) involving carers, and (iv) optimising use of telehealth. Benefits included efficiency and reduced travel. Quality of care concerns identified subthemes: transactional feel to appointments; difficulties for rapport; suitability for appointment type and adequacy for monitoring. Both patients and carers noted a lack of opportunity for carers to participate in telephone-based appointments. Aligning appointment mode (i.e. telehealth or in person) with appointment purpose and ensuring telehealth was the patient's choice were seen as essential for its ongoing use. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: While telehealth has benefits, its potential to reduce the quality of interactions with clinicians made it less attractive for cancer patients. Patient-centred guidelines that ensure patient choice, quality communication, and alignment with appointment purpose may help to increase telehealth's utility for people affected by cancer.