3 Jun, 2019
InsideOut Institute has been awarded $3.67 million from the Million Minds Research Mission to develop a health system research centre, to monitor early detection and treatment of eating disorders across the national health system, and design new methods to ensure early treatment in mainstream health settings.
InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders will lead the project to deliver a newly-established Centre for Health System Research and Translation in Eating Disorders based at the University of Sydney.
The project brings together a coalition of University of Sydney researchers, including Professor Stephen Touyz from the School of Psychology, national health system leaders and researchers including Professor Natasha Nassar and her epidemiological team from the Charles Perkins Centre, Professor Ian Hickie and his team from the Brain and Mind Centre, Professor Warren Ward and his team from Queensland Health, Ms Claire Diffey and her team from Victorian Centre of Excellence in Eating Disorders (CEED), headspace National and Primary Health Networks.
Our partner organisations also include, Assoc. Professor Sloane Madden and Westmead Children's Hospital, Professor Janice Russell and Sydney LHD Eating Disorder Service, Dr Michelle Cunich at the Boden Institute USYD, Eating Disorders Queensland, Eating Disorders Victoria, The Butterfly Foundation, Eating Disorders Families Australia, Central and Eastern Sydney PHN, Western Victoria PHN, and Innowell.
Peer researchers with a lived experience, Bronny Carroll, Belinda Caldwell, and Genevieve Dammery, form a central part of the investigator team.
The Centre will have four key strategies, including nationwide ongoing data collection, a national lived experience survey, and the development of new, scalable models of care for health settings, where young people present, that focus on early detection and treatment.
“This is essential and important work that we have been funded to do. At the moment there is no way of tracking early identification, or any stage of identification actually, in the system. Eating disorders have an unacceptably high death rate but can be cured. There is an imperative to identify early and get treatment that works to people early,” InsideOut Director Dr Sarah Maguire says.
“At the moment, none of the different health system data systems talk to each other, hospital data does not talk to community which does not talk to GPs or headspace – what this means is we cannot track what happens to a person when they present to the health system, let alone whether it works.
“This centre will form the foundation of quality care. If we know when people are and are not being detected and treated we can design new systems and interventions to ensure quality,” Dr Maguire says.
Over the next decade there will be unprecedented investment into clinical care for eating disorders, through both the introduction of a specific Medicare item (providing up to 60 additional community therapy sessions), and the reform of state health systems.
“We’ve been heartened to see multi-million-dollar funding injections into eating disorders in recent months, at both the Federal and state levels,” Dr Maguire says.
“There has historically been an under-investment in clinical care and research. Eating disorders have had the lowest research dollar spend of all the major metal illnesses, so this investment is absolutely necessary.”
“But without rigorous evaluation there is a risk these investments will not lead to the improvements in health outcomes they are intended to deliver. This research centre will monitor how well these investments work when they hit the system.”
“All available evidence suggests that the single most important thing we can do to reduce the personal and social burden of eating disorders is intervene early,” Dr Maguire says.
We look forward to beginning this essential, collaborative, national project.