The department has 9 translational research priorities for 2022-24 that aim to address health and health system problems or challenges.
Population and public health priorities
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System Final Report (2021)1 identified a need to reform Victoria’s mental health and wellbeing system. As part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to implement all of the Royal Commission’s recommendations, we are seeking to empower communities, workplaces, and education settings to actively improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes. Priority research will focus on how Victoria can implement evidence-based approaches that promote good mental health and wellbeing, and enable treatment, care, and support, in these settings. The research will align with the work of the Victorian Collaborative Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, which is currently under development.
1 State of Victoria. Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, Final Report, Summary and recommendations. Parl Paper No. 202, Session 2018–21.
COVID-19 and other diseases disproportionately affect Victorians who experience disadvantage. These health inequities are exacerbated by a lack of trust and engagement with the health system, which remain low following the COVID-19 response. We are seeking to understand the factors that contribute to this issue to improve prevention and control of COVID-19 and other diseases. Research will engage priority populations to inform tailored public health communication strategies and models of care that build trust and sustain engagement with the Victorian community.
The World Health Organisation identifies climate change as the greatest threat to global health in the 21st century.2 Tackling climate change could also be the single greatest global health opportunity we have today, with health benefits provided through lower carbon ways of living, such as active transport or more healthy and environmentally sustainable diets.3 The direct and indirect health impacts are felt disproportionately by people who experience disadvantage; we are seeking to reduce the impacts of climate change on the health of Victorians and mitigate this inequity in health outcomes. Priority research will draw on multidisciplinary approaches to improve the evidence base for the impacts of climate change on the health of Victorians and on health system demand, and how these impacts may be mitigated. The aim is to inform more targeted interventions at a local level, as soon as possible and into the future.
Health service delivery and system capability priorities
The COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened the case for an integrated approach to healthcare that improves coordination across the health system. Such an approach would enable collaboration to better address the social and economic factors that impact health, and reduce health inequities. We are seeking to implement integrated care models for priority populations as part of a holistic approach to healthcare, which would include home-based and virtual models of care. Priority research will draw on international research and recent learnings from the COVID Positive Pathways program to explore the development and implementation of a similar system for priority populations in Victoria.
Despite significant investment and policy commitments in recent years, there is more work needed to ensure we are making progress in achieving Aboriginal health equity. We are seeking to understand the factors that impact Aboriginal Victorian health outcomes and Aboriginal place-based needs at the service level. However, we need better data collection methods to appropriately monitor services and programs for Aboriginal people using measures that align with the priorities of Aboriginal organisations and communities. Aboriginal-led priority research will aim to identify and define methods to collect Aboriginal-defined health service performance measures to inform future research.
This is an Aboriginal-led research priority that will be further developed in alignment with the Victorian Aboriginal Research Accord Project.
Better care and health outcomes are achieved when health professionals and services work in partnership with consumers, patients, carers, and communities. Shared decision aids can enable this partnership, improve satisfaction with care, and foster better quality decision-making. The implementation of models of care that use decision aids, such as shared decision-making, was identified as a key domain for healthcare improvement in Safer Care Victoria’s Partnering in Healthcare framework4 . We are seeking to build on early work in this area to embed models for partnering in health. This work will enable greater consumer engagement, with priority research to address the current gap that exists between decision aids, research, and practical implementation.
4 Safer Care Victoria. (2019). Partnering in healthcare: a framework for better care and outcomes.
Low-value care is care that provides little-to-no benefit, may cause patient harm, or yields limited benefits at a disproportionately high cost. We aim to reduce low-value care to ensure Victorians receive high quality and safe treatment, and that the health system is operating on the basis of best value and cost-effectiveness. The Victorian Agency of Health Information (VAHI) provides a range of adjusted low-value care data to Victorian health services. Priority research will build on this work to develop a system that engages clinicians and services in identifying and reducing low-value care, with a focus on identifying how interventions can be evaluated to enable best practice to be continuously embedded into the health system.
Learning Health Systems respond to evolving issues and emerging challenges by rapidly embedding evidence-based best practice. This allows for continuous health system improvement and innovation, supporting health services to achieve value and equity in health. We are seeking to implement a Learning Health System to address health inequities, support a person-centred health system by enabling diverse consumer engagement in the design and delivery of services, and improve quality and value in healthcare. Priority research will initially focus on how to trial maternity, mental health, and cardiovascular Learning Health Systems, and how to embed evidence of sex and gender differences, in the Victorian context.
Sex and gender can be determinants of health that impact susceptibility to, and experience of many common diseases, including health seeking behaviours, symptoms, and responses to health, medical, and behavioural interventions.
A health system blind to sex and gender differences contributes to inequities and variations in care, which negatively impacts health experience, costs, and outcomes. Developing drugs, devices, or therapies without considering sex and gender differences has significant human and economic costs.
We are seeking to explore how we can implement evidence from research into clinical practice to address sex and gender differences, and improve safety and quality, outcomes, and value in healthcare. This involves fostering and building capacity for sex- and gender-inclusive primary and translational research, including a sex- and gender-inclusive research workforce.
Priority research will focus on improving equity of outcomes in heart disease, stroke, orthopaedics, cancer, and mental health.
Reviewed 31 October 2022