The Rural Clinical School of WA’s research focuses on health issues that are relevant to rural and remote locations, especially on questions that cannot be readily explored in a city context.
We aim for real possibilities of better health outcomes within our communities that are spread across vast distances and yet connected through the School’s infrastructure and staff. We value our strengths in research across diverse cultures, life stages and diseases.
Our particular skills are in engaging diverse rural and Aboriginal communities with the health issues that they feel are most important, translating findings back into best care, and in building a rurally-based, broadly skilled health researcher workforce.
We foster collaborations with other groups with relevant expertise with the expectation that our skills and community relationships will support feasible and meaningful research. The School encourages collaborations between sites and with other rural clinical schools.
We promote a culture of collegiality and mentorship within our School. We foster up-skilling in research of all interested medical coordinators, and collaborations between early researchers or students and those with more established careers.
The RCSWA supports the annual presentation of our research within the School, and at conferences and in the peer-reviewed literature.
The Research Steering Committee (RSC) was formed in 2009 and is chaired by Associate Professor Kirsten Auret. It has nine members and meets by teleconference every two months. The committee focuses on mentorship, up-skilling, biostatistical and peer support, allocation of funding, and collegiality.
The aims of the steering committee are:
The committee assesses requests for collaboration from external organisations in terms of how best to engage the local sites and research governance. This committee also reviews the MD projects proposed by RCSWA students.
The RCSWA has five research hubs (Broome, Geraldton, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie and Albany), which are the main sites of productivity or engagement with research, but the hubs also support smaller sites in their region. Each hub receives a nominal amount of funding from the RCSWA, which allows autonomy in promoting their goals. Funds have been utilised for training, software, equipment and research assistant salaries.
Research Network meetings link all these researchers by videoconference every two months. For further information contact Dr Craig Sinclair.
Research A/Prof Sharon Evans is the RCSWA’s part-time biostatistician. She provides teaching and mentorship in research, and provision of biostatistical services.
Mr Simon Lewis is the RCSWA’s senior librarian and is an excellent resource and support to the School’s researchers.
The Western Desert Kidney Health Project is a multidisciplinary team of Aboriginal health, medical and community development workers and artists with the aim of reducing kidney disease and diabetes by 20% in 10 Indigenous communities representing six language groups. The project covers an area about the size of Victoria and populated by almost 4,000 people whose expected life-span is 17 years less than that of non-Aboriginal people. Contributing factors in this reduced life expectancy are kidney disease and diabetes.
Visit their website to explore this exciting research project further.
The School’s research is intimately connected with the work done by the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service, whose mission is “To improve and promote the health and well-being of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley through the application of practical community and health service based primary health care research”.
Visit their website to see examples of their projects.
The RCSWA in the Kimberley is also closely linked with the School of Paediatrics in running a Centre of Research Excellence in Aboriginal Child Health.
The main focus of our research program is in improving the quality of end of life care in the Great Southern region. A regionally-based research team consisting of a palliative care physician (Assoc Prof. Kirsten Auret), the rural health research fellow (Dr Craig Sinclair), academic GP registrars and research nurses work in collaboration with external researchers, and coordinate projects relevant to the local region. The research focus is translational, meaning that in addition to generating new knowledge, the research team is focused on finding practical ways to embed research findings into local policy and practice, to improve the quality of end of life care.
We are closely linked in with the Great Southern Science Council, and part of a lot of excellent science happening in the Great Southern.
The School has created a large number of great research opportunities if you are selected to do a year with us, and decide that your scholarly activity will be in the area of research.
For further information contact Assoc Prof Denese Playford.