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1.  Do adults in contact with Australia's public sector mental health services get better? 
This paper describes the outcomes of episodes of care for adults in public sector mental health services across Australia, with a view to informing the debate on service quality. Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS) change scores and effect sizes were calculated for 14,659 acute inpatient episodes and 23,692 community episodes. The results showed that people in contact with public sector mental health services generally do get better, although the magnitude of improvement depends on the setting and episode type. This confirmatory finding is particularly positive, given current community concerns about the quality and effectiveness of mental health services.
PMCID: PMC1570132  PMID: 16942623
2.  Routine measurement of outcomes in Australia's public sector mental health services 
This paper describes the Australian experience to date with a national 'roll out' of routine outcome measurement in public sector mental health services.
Consultations were held with 123 stakeholders representing a range of roles.
Australia has made an impressive start to nationally implementing routine outcome measurement in mental health services, although it still has a long way to go. All States/Territories have established data collection systems, although some are more streamlined than others. Significant numbers of clinicians and managers have been trained in the use of routine outcome measures, and thought is now being given to ongoing training strategies. Outcome measurement is now occurring 'on the ground'; all States/Territories will be reporting data for 2003–04, and a number have been doing so for several years. Having said this, there is considerable variability regarding data coverage, completeness and compliance. Some States/Territories have gone to considerable lengths to 'embed' outcome measurement in day-to-day practice. To date, reporting of outcome data has largely been limited to reports profiling individual consumers and/or aggregate reports that focus on compliance and data quality issues, although a few States/Territories have begun to turn their attention to producing aggregate reports of consumers by clinician, team or service.
Routine outcome measurement is possible if it is supported by a co-ordinated, strategic approach and strong leadership, and there is commitment from clinicians and managers. The Australian experience can provide lessons for other countries.
PMCID: PMC1097711  PMID: 15840170
Mental health; outcomes; routine outcome measurement; Australia
3.  Assessing the capacity of the health services research community in Australia and New Zealand 
In order to profile the health services research community in Australia and New Zealand and describe its capacity, a web-based survey was administered to members of the Health Services Research Association of Australia and New Zealand (HSRAANZ) and delegates of the HSRAANZ's Third Health Services Research and Policy Conference.
Responses were received from 191 individuals (68%). The responses of the 165 (86%) who conducted or managed health services research indicated that the health services research community in Australia and New Zealand is characterised by highly qualified professionals who have come to health services research via a range of academic and professional routes (including clinical backgrounds), the majority of whom are women aged between 35 and 54 who have mid- to senior- level appointments. They are primarily employed in universities and, to a lesser extent, government departments and health services. Although most are employed in full time positions, many are only able to devote part of their time to health services research, often juggling this with other professional roles. They rely heavily on external funding, as only half have core funding from their employing institution and around one third have employment contracts of one year or less. Many view issues around building the capacity of the health services research community and addressing funding deficits as crucial if health services research is to be translated into policy and practice. Despite the difficulties they face, most are positive about the support and advice available from peers in their work settings, and many are actively contributing to knowledge through academic and other written outputs.
If health services research is to achieve its potential in Australia and New Zealand, policy-makers and funders must take the concerns of the health services research community seriously, foster its development, and contribute to maximising its capacity through a sustainable approach to funding. There is a clear need for a strategic approach, where the health services research community collaborates with competitive granting bodies and government departments to define and fund a research agenda that balances priority-driven and investigator-driven research and which provides support for training and career development.
PMCID: PMC1079789  PMID: 15755322
Health services research; capacity; resources; funding; outputs; Australia; New Zealand

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