Researchers at the University of Wollongong are involved in a new collaborative research project to reduce the cost and burden of alcohol and other drug problems in Australia by improving knowledge to deliver better health outcomes.
Funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council will see the Centre for Health Psychology Research and Practice, School of Psychology and Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute at UOW involved in research for more effective care.
Alcohol and other drug use is the number one risk factor for death and disability in all age groups and costs the community over $23.5 billion annually.
Centres of Research Excellence co-director associate professor Peter Kelly and Dr Briony Larance are working with UOW researchers and government and non-government services to find ways to improve drug and alcohol treatment. The research involves people with lived experience, clinicians, and leading national and international researchers from the University of Queensland, University of NSW, King's College London and the University of Newcastle.
Dr Larance said the objective is to understand what treatments and services work best, increase capacity and deliver them in a cost-effective way.
"We know in Australia that even though we have seen some increases in the number of treatment episodes we are delivering, there is a much larger demand. There are not enough places for all the people who need treatment," she said.
"When we think about delivering treatment in a setting where there is only finite resources, every treatment contact counts. Studies have shown that treatment is effective in drug and alcohol services but we need to understand in more detail exactly what works for each individual."
Dr Larance said the Centre for Health Psychology Practice and Research and IMHRI will conduct collaborative trials with service providers.
"The projects we are most likely to be leading are going to be studies that examine the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of incorporating routine outcome monitoring and feedback in the day-to-day practice of clinicians. The other area we are likely to lead is using the large amount of data that already collected by services and using data linkage to look at the long term outcomes and effectiveness of different alcohol and drug services."
Dr Larance said the funding will also help develop the capacity of the next generation of researchers.
"The program we are developing will include at least nine PhD scholarships and another five post doctoral fellowships."