Towards better health

May 31, 2017

Research: Crossroads Project's Professor David Simmons and Sian Wright test a sample in the centrifuge.

Researchers are calling on Cobram residents to be part of a large-scale health research project aiming to help improve health outcomes and services in the area.

It forms part of a wider study by the University of Melbourne Department of Rural Health’s Crossroads Project, with researchers out in the community interviewing people as part of a random survey and inviting them to be part of a clinic.

Researchers are urgently calling on community members to get involved, with the first clinic held last Friday.

‘‘We’ll be looking to compare the data to what happened when we did a similar survey 15 years ago,’’ project leader and University of Western Sydney Professor David Simmons said.

‘‘This is an important chance for us to look at important data and the reasons behind it.

‘‘We know the death rate is still higher in the area than what it would be expected to be.

‘‘This is a chance to see if there are any underlying conditions, to look at why the mortality rates are still high.’’

Prof Simmons said the study would also give an insight into people’s understanding of the local health system and what services were available.

He said the study would also compare people’s perceptions of care in the area and the services that are now available in the region compared to during the previous study.

‘‘We want to try to understand the extent of the access to care issue — what services people know are in the region or why they might choose to go to Shepparton, Melbourne or Albury for their care,’’ he said.

Prof Simmons said it was also a chance to shape future health services for the district.

He said if there were any community health needs identified in the survey, the data would enable local health services to lobby for funding or additional services.

Prof Simmons said they were hoping to complete their research by July and finalise their study by the end of the year.

‘‘We need to have a cross section that represents the whole community, if only 40 per cent of the people who are invited turn up, what about the other 60 per cent and what they represent?

‘‘That 60 per cent could be the people who might need these future health services.’’

Prof Simmons said the survey would give people health readings, with measurements including an ECG, liver check and more, all of which could help pick up previously undiagnosed conditions.

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