Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2012 November Closing the health research gap

15/11/2012
Closing the health research gap
One of Australia’s first Indigenous nurses to be awarded a PhD has joined JCU’s nursing school, and it is hoped her work will help to ‘close the gap’ in North Queensland through nursing and midwifery research.

First published 15 November 2012

One of Australia’s first Indigenous nurses to be awarded a PhD has joined James Cook University’s nursing school, and it is hoped her work will help to ‘close the gap’ in North Queensland through nursing and midwifery research.

Associate Professor Roianne West, the Townsville Hospital’s director of Indigenous health, will lend her considerable experience and expertise to JCU’s Tropical Health Research Unit (THRU) for Nursing and Midwifery Practice to help advance maternal and child health outcomes for Indigenous women and babies in the north.

THRU - a joint venture between JCU and the Townsville Hospital and Health Service - is a unique research body examining nursing care for people living in the tropics.

JCU’s Head of Nursing, Associate Professor Lee Stewart said THRU had been very successful so far in conducting and publishing research which has made a difference for people living in the tropics.

“In 2010 and 2011, THRU published more than 30 papers of research which has translated into clinical practice, thereby making an impact on how people are cared for when they require health services,” she said.

“For example, a study of intravenous needles for kidney dialysis patients has shown the most effective method to access veins for people with renal disease, while studies of wound dressings has provided evidence about the best way to treat wounds in tropical areas.

“These are but two examples of important research that is making a difference in the North.”

Associate Professor Roainne West, one of Australia’s first Indigenous nurses to be awarded a PhD, has joined the team and will lead research for and about Indigenous people.

Associate Professor West will be based at the Townsville Hospital and although some of the research could potentially take in broader sites, the priority will be the Townsville Hospital Health Services area.

“My work will help to ‘close the gap’ in North Queensland through nursing and midwifery research,” she said.

“Our aim is for THRU to be a national leader in Indigenous Nurse and Midwifery-led Indigenous health research to provide an evidence base towards closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous health outcomes.”

Associate Professor Stewart said Professor Linda Shields would take over as Director of THRU.

“The work of THRU will grow and expand, and Professor Shields’ plans include a program of research about rural and remote nursing.”

In 2013, THRU will undertake a survey of the North Queensland community to ask people what research they would like to see done.

“In addition, people who use the services – health consumers – will be invited to become members of an advisory board for THRU.”

For further information, please contact Professor Linda Shields on 07 4433 2552 or email: linda.shields@jcu.edu.au

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175