Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and globally and a leading contributor to disability and health inequity.
Researchers at ANU have conducted a strategic decade-long program of work to address the shortfalls in cardiovascular disease prevention. This exceptional effort has been duly acknowledged and honored with the prestigious Research Australia Health and Medical Research Award 2023.
The multidisciplinary Epidemiology for Policy and Practice (EPP) team, led by Professor Emily Banks, includes researchers and professional staff dedicated to generating high-quality evidence and using it to drive policy and practice improvement.
“Health services research is critically important to improving outcomes for people in Australia, and particularly for improving equity. But it's often under-recognised,” Professor Banks says.
“The EPP team is involved in research in multiple areas, which involves cardiovascular disease outcomes as well as risk factors, quantifying the burden of disease in populations, looking at causes of mortality, looking at different cardiovascular disease outcomes,” Associate Professor Grace Joshy explains.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and globally and a leading contributor to disability and health inequity. Around 80% of events are preventable with timely implementation of known interventions, targeted to those at risk.
Applying an output-oriented model, the team identified key barriers to implementation of best-practice cardiovascular disease prevention nationally.
“What we're looking at is a massive shortfall in implementation and health services has a key role to play there,” Professor Banks notes.
“We set about generating the evidence, working in partnership to improve cardiovascular prevention and that included doing profiles of our national population in terms of risk and also our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.
“That really led us to clear evidence of that it was actually starting too late to screen people for cardiovascular disease for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“We used the strategic information that we had gathered from the data to work in partnership to identify gaps in implementation and what could be done.
“In doing so, we spearheaded starting cardiovascular disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at age 18 rather than age 35.
“We provided a lot of the evidence underpinning the new risk equation for the Australian guidelines.
“We've also had our evidence used to really push for better cardiovascular implementation,” Prof Banks adds.
The EPP team spans career stages and expertise, including acclaimed researchers in epidemiology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, biostatistics, health services research, policy engagement, general practice, implementation research and public health.
Members include Professors Emily Banks AM, Rosemary Korda and Ray Lovett, A/Professor Grace Joshy, Drs Ellie Paige, Jason Agostino, Jennifer Welsh, Yuehan Zhang and Deborah Wong, Mr Sinan Brown and Mrs Mai Nguyen.
“As a team, the Epidemiology for Policy and Practice group is deeply grateful to Professor Sandra Ades for nominating us for this award,” Prof Banks says.
“It's such an honour to be recognised by someone who's so accomplished, but also who really gets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cardiovascular disease, and that I almost feel like the nomination itself is the greatest honour here.”