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1.  Exploring productivity and collaboration in Australian Indigenous health research, 1995–2008 
Background
Building research capacity in Indigenous health has been recognised as integral in efforts to reduce the significant health disparities between Indigenous and other Australian populations. The past few decades have seen substantial changes in funding policy for Australian Indigenous health research, including increases in overall expenditure and a greater focus on collaborative and priority-driven research. However, whether these policy shifts have resulted in any change to the structure of the research workforce in this field is unclear. We examine research publications in Australian Indigenous health from 1995–2008 to explore trends in publication output, key themes investigated, and research collaborations.
Methods
A comprehensive literature search was undertaken to identify research publications about Australian Indigenous health from 1995–2008. Abstracts of all publications identified were reviewed by two investigators for relevance. Eligible publications were classified according to key themes. Social network analyses of co-authorship patterns were used to examine collaboration in the periods 1995–1999, 2000–2004 and 2005–2008.
Results
Nine hundred and fifty three publications were identified. Over time, the number of publications per year increased, particularly after 2005, and there was a substantial increase in assessment of health service-related issues. Network analyses revealed a highly collaborative core group of authors responsible for the majority of outputs, in addition to a series of smaller separate groups. In the first two periods there was a small increase in the overall network size (from n = 583 to n = 642 authors) due to growth in collaborations around the core. In the last period, the network size increased considerably (n = 1,083), largely due to an increase in the number and size of separate groups. The general size of collaborations also increased in this period.
Conclusions
In the past few decades there has been substantial development of the research workforce in Indigenous health, characterised by an increase in authors and outputs, a greater focus on some identified priority areas and sustained growth in collaborations. This has occurred in conjunction with significant changes to funding policy for Indigenous health research, suggesting that both productivity and collaboration may be sensitive to reform, including the provision of dedicated funding.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-11-42
PMCID: PMC3827998  PMID: 24209979
Aborigines; Australian; Cooperative behaviour; Research personnel
2.  STI in remote communities: improved and enhanced primary health care (STRIVE) study protocol: a cluster randomised controlled trial comparing ‘usual practice’ STI care to enhanced care in remote primary health care services in Australia 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:425.
Background
Despite two decades of interventions, rates of sexually transmissible infections (STI) in remote Australian Aboriginal communities remain unacceptably high. Routine notifications data from 2011 indicate rates of chlamydia and gonorrhoea among Aboriginal people in remote settings were 8 and 61 times higher respectively than in the non-Indigenous population.
Methods/design
STRIVE is a stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial designed to compare a sexual health quality improvement program (SHQIP) to usual STI clinical care delivered in remote primary health care services. The SHQIP is a multifaceted intervention comprising annual assessments of sexual health service delivery, implementation of a sexual health action plan, six-monthly clinical service activity data reports, regular feedback meetings with a regional coordinator, training and financial incentive payments. The trial clusters comprise either a single community or several communities grouped together based on geographic proximity and cultural ties. The primary outcomes are: prevalence of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomonas in Aboriginal residents aged 16–34 years, and performance in clinical management of STIs based on best practice indicators. STRIVE will be conducted over five years comprising one and a half years of trial initiation and community consultation, three years of trial conditions, and a half year of data analysis. The trial was initiated in 68 remote Aboriginal health services in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.
Discussion
STRIVE is the first cluster randomised trial in STI care in remote Aboriginal health services. The trial will provide evidence to inform future culturally appropriate STI clinical care and control strategies in communities with high STI rates.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000358044
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-425
PMCID: PMC3847940  PMID: 24016143
Aboriginal; Indigenous; Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia; Gonorrhoea; Trichomonas; Continuous quality improvement; Protocol; Prevalence; Remote
3.  Investigating a cluster of vulvar cancer in young women: a cross-sectional study of genital human papillomavirus prevalence 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:243.
Background
Vulvar cancer is a relatively rare malignancy, which occurs most often in postmenopausal women. We have previously identified a geographic cluster of vulvar cancer in young Indigenous women living in remote communities in the Arnhem Land region of Australia. In this population, we investigated the prevalence of oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in anogenital samples (vulvar/vaginal/perianal area and cervix) and compared the overall, type-specific and multiple infection prevalence between sites.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey of 551 Indigenous women aged 18–60 years was undertaken in 9 Arnhem Land communities. Women were consented for HPV detection and genotyping collected by a combined vulvar/vaginal/perianal (VVP) sweep swab and a separate PreservCyt endocervical sample collected during Pap cytology screening. HPV DNA testing was undertaken using PCR with broad spectrum L1 consensus PGMY09/11 primers with genotyping of positive samples by Roche Linear Array. The primary outcomes were the prevalence of cervical and VVP high-risk (HR) HPV.
Results
The prevalence of VVP HR-HPV was 39%, which was significantly higher than the cervical HR-HPV prevalence (26%, p<0.0001). HPV-16 was the most common genotype detected in both sites (VVP 11%, cervical 6%). HPV-16 infection peaked in women aged <20 years; however, there was a marked decline in cervical HPV-16 prevalence with age (p=0.007), whereas following an initial decline, the prevalence of VVP HPV-16 remained constant in subsequent age-groups (p=0.835).
Conclusions
In this population experiencing a cluster of vulvar cancer, the prevalence of cervical oncogenic HPV infection was similar to that reported by studies of other Australian women; however there was a significantly higher prevalence of vulvar/vaginal/perianal infection to cervical. The large discrepancy in HPV prevalence between anogenital sites in this population may represent more persistent infection at the vulva. This needs further investigation, including the presence of possible environmental and/or genetic factors that may impair host immunity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-243
PMCID: PMC3507832  PMID: 23040203
Human papillomavirus; Population prevalence; Vulvar neoplasms; Young women; Indigenous women
4.  The effects of house moves during early childhood on child mental health at age 9 years 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:583.
Background
Residential mobility is common in families with young children; however, its impact on the social development of children is unclear. We examined associations between the number, timing and type of house moves in childhood and child behaviour problems using data from an ongoing longitudinal study.
Methods
Complete data on residential mobility and child behaviour was available for 403 families. Three aspects of mobility were considered: (a) number of house moves from birth to <2 years, 2 to <5 years and 5 to 9 years; (b) lifetime number of house moves; and (c) moves associated with different housing trajectories characterized by changes in housing tenure. The primary outcomes were internalizing and externalizing behaviour problems at 9 years derived from Achenbach’s Child Behaviour Checklist. Linear regression analyses were used to investigate the effect of the housing variables on internalizing and externalizing behaviour problem scores with adjustment for a range of sociodemographic and household covariates.
Results
Moving house ≥2 times before 2 years of age was associated with an increased internalizing behaviour score at age 9 years. This association remained after adjustment for sociodemographic and household factors. There was no association between increased residential mobility in other time periods and internalizing behaviour, or mobility in any period and externalizing behaviour. There was no effect of lifetime number of moves, or of an upwardly or downwardly mobile housing trajectory. However, a housing trajectory characterized by continuous rental occupancy was associated with an increased externalizing behaviour score.
Conclusions
These findings may suggest that there is a sensitive period, in the first few years of life, in which exposure to increased residential mobility has a detrimental effect on mental health in later childhood.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-583
PMCID: PMC3490785  PMID: 22853693
Residential mobility; Child behaviour; Child development; Housing; Longitudinal studies
5.  Comparison of the INNO-LiPA and PapType Assays for Detection of Human Papillomavirus in Archival Vulva Dysplasia and/or Neoplasia Tissue Biopsy Specimens ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(11):3980-3982.
INNO-LiPA and PapType human papillomavirus (HPV) genotyping assays were compared for detection of HPV genotypes on archival vulvar tissue. The INNO-LiPA assay detected 49 HPV-16 infections, compared with 47 detected by the PapType assay. The INNO-LiPA assay detected amplifiable DNA in 59 (91%) biopsy specimens, compared with 57 (88%) specimens for which amplifiable DNA was detected by the PapType assay. The two genotyping assays were highly comparable.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00516-11
PMCID: PMC3209107  PMID: 21940480
6.  Delivery of maternal health care in Indigenous primary care services: baseline data for an ongoing quality improvement initiative 
Background
Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) populations have disproportionately high rates of adverse perinatal outcomes relative to other Australians. Poorer access to good quality maternal health care is a key driver of this disparity. The aim of this study was to describe patterns of delivery of maternity care and service gaps in primary care services in Australian Indigenous communities.
Methods
We undertook a cross-sectional baseline audit for a quality improvement intervention. Medical records of 535 women from 34 Indigenous community health centres in five regions (Top End of Northern Territory 13, Central Australia 2, Far West New South Wales 6, Western Australia 9, and North Queensland 4) were audited. The main outcome measures included: adherence to recommended protocols and procedures in the antenatal and postnatal periods including: clinical, laboratory and ultrasound investigations; screening for gestational diabetes and Group B Streptococcus; brief intervention/advice on health-related behaviours and risks; and follow up of identified health problems.
Results
The proportion of women presenting for their first antenatal visit in the first trimester ranged from 34% to 49% between regions; consequently, documentation of care early in pregnancy was poor. Overall, documentation of routine antenatal investigations and brief interventions/advice regarding health behaviours varied, and generally indicated that these services were underutilised. For example, 46% of known smokers received smoking cessation advice/counselling; 52% of all women received antenatal education and 51% had investigation for gestational diabetes. Overall, there was relatively good documentation of follow up of identified problems related to hypertension or diabetes, with over 70% of identified women being referred to a GP/Obstetrician.
Conclusion
Participating services had both strengths and weaknesses in the delivery of maternal health care. Increasing access to evidence-based screening and health information (most notably around smoking cessation) were consistently identified as opportunities for improvement across services.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-16
PMCID: PMC3066246  PMID: 21385387
7.  Human Papillomavirus Genotyping Using Archival Vulval Dysplastic or Neoplastic Biopsy Tissues: Comparison between the INNO-LiPA and Linear Array Assays▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(4):1458-1460.
The Roche Linear Array (LA) and Innogenetics INNO-LiPA human papillomavirus (HPV) genotyping assays were compared for paraffin-embedded vulval tissues. The LA detected amplifiable DNA in 28 (57%) out of 49 biopsy specimens, 20 (40%) being HPV genotyped, compared to 49 (100%) and 41 (83%), respectively, detected by the INNO-LiPA. The INNO-LiPA provides greater sensitivity for HPV genotyping in archival tissue.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02311-09
PMCID: PMC2849540  PMID: 20181920
8.  The risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women who are overweight or obese 
Background
The prevalence of obesity amongst women bearing children in Australia is rising and has important implications for obstetric care. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and impact of mothers being overweight and obese in early to mid-pregnancy on maternal, peripartum and neonatal outcomes.
Methods
A secondary analysis was performed on data collected from nulliparous women with a singleton pregnancy enrolled in the Australian Collaborative Trial of Supplements with antioxidants Vitamin C and Vitamin E to pregnant women for the prevention of pre-eclampsia (ACTS). Women were categorized into three groups according to their body mass index (BMI): normal (BMI 18.5-24.9 kg/m2); overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m2) and; obese (BMI 30-34.9 kg/m2). Obstetric and perinatal outcomes were compared by univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results
Of the 1661 women included, 43% were overweight or obese. Obese women were at increased risk of pre-eclampsia (relative risk (RR) 2.99 [95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.88, 4.73], p < 0.0001) and gestational diabetes (RR 2.10 [95%CI 1.17, 3.79], p = 0.01) compared with women with a normal BMI. Obese and overweight women were more likely to be induced and require a caesarean section compared with women of normal BMI (induction - RR 1.33 [95%CI 1.13, 1.57], p = 0.001 and 1.78 [95%CI 1.51, 2.09], p < 0.0001, caesarean section - RR 1.42 [95%CI 1.18, 1.70], p = 0.0002 and 1.63 [95%CI 1.34, 1.99], p < 0.0001). Babies of women who were obese were more likely to be large for gestational age (LFGA) (RR 2.08 [95%CI 1.47, 2.93], p < 0.0001) and macrosomic (RR 4.54 [95%CI 2.01, 10.24], p = 0.0003) compared with those of women with a normal BMI.
Conclusion
The rate of overweight and obesity is increasing amongst the Australian obstetric population. Women who are overweight and obese have an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. In particular, obese women are at increased risk of gestational diabetes, pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Effective preventative strategies are urgently needed.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN00416244
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-10-56
PMCID: PMC2949787  PMID: 20849609
9.  The epidemiology workforce: are we planning for the future? 
Epidemiology has a central role in public health practice, education and research, and is arguably the only discipline unique to public health. A strong perception exists among epidemiologists in Australia that there is a substantial shortage in epidemiological capacity within the health workforce and health research, and that there are few graduates with sufficient high-level epidemiological training to fill the educational and leadership roles that will be essential to building this capacity. It was this concern that led the Australasian Epidemiological Association (AEA)--the peak professional body for epidemiologists in Australia and New Zealand--to convene a working group in 2007 to assess and address these concerns. This article summarises the key training challenges and opportunities discussed within this group, and the larger organisation, with the intention of stimulating greater public debate of these issues.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-6-26
PMCID: PMC2794857  PMID: 19943961
10.  Borderline gestational diabetes mellitus and pregnancy outcomes 
Background
The impact of borderline gestational diabetes mellitus (BGDM), defined as a positive oral glucose challenge test (OGCT) and normal oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), on maternal and infant health is unclear. We assessed maternal and infant health outcomes in women with BGDM and compared these to women who had a normal OGCT screen for gestational diabetes.
Methods
We compared demographic, obstetric and neonatal outcomes between women participating in the Australian Collaborative Trial of Supplements with antioxidants Vitamin C and Vitamin E to pregnant women for the prevention of pre-eclampsia (ACTS) who had BGDM and who screened negative on OGCT.
Results
Women who had BGDM were older (mean difference 1.3 years, [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.3, 2.2], p = 0.01) and more likely to be obese (27.1% vs 14.1%, relative risk (RR) 1.92, [95% CI 1.41, 2.62], p < 0.0001) than women who screened negative on OGCT. The risk of adverse maternal outcome overall was higher (12.9% vs 8.1%, RR 1.59, [95% CI 1.00, 2.52], p = 0.05) in women with BGDM compared with women with a normal OGCT. Women with BGDM were more likely to develop pregnancy induced hypertension (17.9% vs 11.8%, RR 1.51, [95% CI 1.03, 2.20], p = 0.03), have a caesarean for fetal distress (17.1% vs 10.5%, RR 1.63, [95% CI 1.10, 2.41], p = 0.01), and require a longer postnatal hospital stay (mean difference 0.4 day, [95% CI 0.1, 0.7], p = 0.01) than those with a normal glucose tolerance.
Infants born to BGDM mothers were more likely to be born preterm (10.7% vs 6.4%, RR 1.68, [95% CI 1.00, 2.80], p = 0.05), have macrosomia (birthweight ≥4.5 kg) (4.3% vs 1.7%, RR 2.53, [95% CI 1.06, 6.03], p = 0.04), be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) (6.5% vs 3.0%, RR 2.18, [95% CI 1.09, 4.36], p = 0.03) or the neonatal nursery (40.3% vs 28.4%, RR 1.42, [95% CI 1.14, 1.76], p = 0.002), and have a longer hospital stay (p = 0.001). More infants in the BGDM group had Sarnat stage 2 or 3 neonatal encephalopathy (12.9% vs 7.8%, RR 1.65, [95% CI 1.04, 2.63], p = 0.03).
Conclusion
Women with BGDM and their infants had an increased risk of adverse health outcomes compared with women with a negative OGCT. Intervention strategies to reduce the risks for these women and their infants need evaluation.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN00416244
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-31
PMCID: PMC2533645  PMID: 18664297

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