The University of Newcastle, Australia

Our research examines potential personal, social, occupational and health factors related to the onset and persistence of musculoskeletal pain and injuries.

We assess the effectiveness of multimodal strategies to prevent the onset of persistent pain in people at risk of pain and injuries, and to reduce the impact of musculoskeletal pain on a person’s health, work and social participation. We also design and evaluate strategies to improve the uptake, use and sustainability of existing evidence-based programs.

Competitive advantage

  • developed novel and efficient methods for robust evaluation in multiple settings
  • multidisciplinary workforce team including physiotherapy, exercise science, medicine, dietetics and nutrition, psychology and behavioural science
  • advanced training and technical skills in behaviour change, statistics, research and evaluation design, project management, evidence synthesis, implementation science and health technology assessment
  • the only research and practice unit embedded within a government population health service, allowing for vast and immediate translation, reach and impact
  • unparalleled experience working with industry providers under confidential circumstances, and robust systems to facilitate these partnerships

Successful applications of research

  • our highly collaborative research is co-developed with our partners, ensuring results are meaningful and can be translated into real-world solutions

Partners

  • NSW Health
  • Hunter New England local health district

Impact

  • established and assessed the world's first healthy lifestyle program for spinal pain that is both cost-effective and works to reduce inappropriate treatment (including surgery) and time off work
  • led pioneering work showing the most commonly prescribed analgesics for back pain were not effective, prompting a review of major practice guidelines
  • undertook research highlighting that recommended diagnostic tests for back pain from serious causes were suboptimal, leading to a change in worldwide recommended approaches and practices
  • conducted australia's first surveillance of data from more than 1,000 practitioners and 3,500 patients with back pain injuries to assess the appropriateness of typical diagnostic and management practices

Capabilities and facilities

  • strong research methodological and design capabilities
  • implementation science laboratory
  • highly developed research optimisation skills and procedures

Further reading on: Enhanced Human Performance and Protection