By Liz Lynch

Research from Australia and overseas has shown that patients receive just over half the recommended care for their health conditions. This gap between what we know from research about effectively treating health conditions versus what is provided to patients might be due to health professionals being unaware of, or having difficulty making sense of the latest research. It might also be due to other factors, such as having trouble changing usual work habits and practices.

Liz Lynch and a number of other CRE researchers have been involved in a large working group coordinated by the Stroke Foundation to update the Australian clinical guidelines for stroke rehabilitation.  Together, we have reviewed hundreds of systematic reviews and other evidence (which pool together results from thousands of research trials) to come up with recommendations regarding which therapies should be provided (and which should not) for people participating in stroke rehabilitation. The new guidelines will be launched in July 2017. This has been a huge undertaking, but is only worthwhile if the guidelines actually get used by health professionals.  Alarmingly, 44% of the stroke rehabilitation services in Australia which participated in the rehabilitation audit last year report that they do NOT routinely use the currently available evidence-based guidelines to direct the care given to patients.

Implementation science is a form of research looking at how to promote the use of evidence in healthcare provision and policy. So our challenge in the Implementation Science research stream is to find ways to embed evidence-based practice into usual rehabilitation care. One thing that interests me is looking at how to package effective rehabilitation therapies so clinicians are motivated to use them, managers are motivated to support/direct clinicians’ use of evidence-based practice, and patients are better informed about what therapies to demand.

The Implementation Science stream is led by A/Prof Dominique Cadilhac and Prof Sandy Middleton. Liz Lynch started in a part-time post-doctoral fellow position in May 2016.

Di Marsden, Nadine Andrew, Liz Lynch and Julie Luker are pictured at the CRE Rehabilitation September 2016 workshop. Liz and Julie presented a session on Translating Research Evidence into Stroke Rehabilitation Practice.