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1.  Unwanted pregnancy, mental health and abortion: untangling the evidence 
Abortion policy is still contentious in many parts of the world, and periodically it emerges to dominate health policy debates. This paper examines one such debate in Australia centering on research findings by a New Zealand research group, Fergusson, Horwood & Ridder, published in early 2006. The debate highlighted the difficulty for researchers when their work is released in a heightened political context. We argue that the authors made a logical error in constructing their analysis and interpreting their data, and are therefore not justified in making policy claims for their work. The paper received significant public attention, and may have influenced the public policy position of a major professional body. Deeply held views on all sides of the abortion debate are unlikely to be reconciled, but if policy is to be informed by research, findings must be based on sound science.
PMCID: PMC2390567  PMID: 18442413
2.  Australian health system restructuring – what problem is being solved? 
In recent years, Australian state and territory governments have reviewed and restructured the health systems they lead and regulate. This paper examines the outcomes of the most recent official published reviews of systems and structures; identifies the common themes; and addresses two questions: what problems are being addressed? And how would we know if the changes were successful?
In all the broad, systemic reviews, the main health system problems identified were money, hospital utilisation and a weak primary health care system. The solutions are various, but there is a common trend towards centralisation of governance, often at state health authority level, and stronger accountability measures. Other common themes are hospital substitution (services to avoid the need for admission); calls for cooperation across the Commonwealth:state divide, or for its abolition; and the expected range of current efficiency and effectiveness measures (eg amalgamate pathology and support services) and ideas in good currency (eg call centres). The top-down nature of the public review process is noted, along with the political nature of the immediate catalysts for calling on a review.
The long-standing tension between the pull to centralisation of authority and the need for innovation in care models is heightened by recent changes, which may be counterproductive in an era dominated by the burden of chronic disease. I argue that the current reforms will not succeed in achieving the stated goals unless they make a difference for people with chronic illness. And if this is correct, the most useful focus for evaluation of the success of the reforms may be their impact on the system's ability to develop and deliver better models of care for this growing group of patients.
PMCID: PMC544964  PMID: 15679935

Results 1-2 (2)