Committed to Research

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WARC was established by the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Western Sydney Local Health District, to specifically address the causes of chronic disease, with a focus on translational research that addresses the specific needs and circumstances of patients in western Sydney.

The centre delivers world-class research using digital health interventions and therapeutics. WARC brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts who aim to prevent chronic diseases and their progression through helping patients self-manage their conditions and by providing education and support through digital health interventions.

 

Our Research

Combining expertise in research and telecommunications technologies has resulted in what is now known as digital health interventions. By using these health interventions, the centre will cultivate research collaborations in order to develop new approaches to disease prevention and treatment.

To date, our research has demonstrated positive outcomes affecting behavioural and lifestyle changes by utilising digital therapeutics.

Director Professor Clara Chow believes the centre’s unique offering is its location within the Westmead Hospital precinct and its commitment to foster innovative research and ideas.

Our focus is on clinical translational research in the delivery of simple and effective health services to address the causes of chronic diseases affecting the population of western Sydney. Some research projects will be applied to a broader population and has the potential for global application.

WARC is committed to supporting innovative projects, excellence in research, leadership in digital health intervention and evaluation.

Quartet

Quadruple ultra-low-dose treatment for hypertension

High blood pressure is common and a major cause of heart disease and stroke. While many people with hypertension are on some treatment, in more than half blood pressure targets are not reached and their high blood pressure is uncontrolled.

In this research we investigate whether an approach that combines four types of blood pressure lowering medications at quarter doses into one pill, may be a more effective way of controlling blood pressure.

Investigators: Professor Clara Chow, Professor Anthony Rodgers, Professor Graham Hillis, Professor Markus Schlaich, Professor Tim Usherwood, Dr Ruth Webster Associate Professor Laurent Billot, Emeritus Professor John Chalmers, Dr Jay Thakkar, Henry Krum, Professor Anushka Patel, Professor Bruce Neal, Professor Mark Nelson, Professor Christopher Reid, Amie Cho and Dr Emily Atkins. Funded by the NHMRC.

SUPPORTME

Text messaging support for patients with chronic disease Many Australians have chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The introduction of the SupportMe program will transform the delivery of care across hospital and primary care services. The program aims to improve health outcomes for patients and reduce costs from inappropriate and fragmented care.

SupportMe is a pragmatic, randomised controlled trial to determine the effect of mobile phone text messaging interventions on blood pressure and blood glucose for patients with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Investigators: Professor Clara Chow, Professor Wah Cheung, Dr Tien-Ming Hng, Professor Julie Redfern, Emeritus Professor Stephen Leeder, Dr Jin Gun Cho, Simon Raadsma, Cate Ferry, Michael Crampton, Dr Alison Hayes, Bridie Carr, Professor Chris Rissel, Sandra Bahamad, Shelley She, Dr Rabbia Haider, Daniel McIntyre and Sonia Faruquie. Funded by NSW Health.

ITM STUDY

Technological support for patients with cardiovascular disease via integrated text messaging (ITM)

Many Australians are living with chronic conditions that cause more than half of all preventable hospital admissions. Availability and use of technology can provide simple strategies to improve out-of-hospital management and support for these patients.

The ITM study is evaluating a six-month post-discharge text message support program to help patients with chronic respiratory and/or cardiovascular disease. The program aims to improve their health through healthy living, symptom management and mediation adherence, compared to usual care.

Investigators: Professor Julie Redfern, Professor Clara Chow, Dr John Cullen, Professor Ian Caterson, Dr Lissa Spencer, Dr Jessica Swinbourne, Dr Alison Hayes, Dr Karice Hyun, Simon Raadsma, Cate Ferry, Bridie Carr, Karla Santo, Nashid Hafiz, Polly Huang and Anna Singleton. Funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

TEXTMEDS

Text messages to improve medication adherence and secondary prevention

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disease burden globally. TextMeds is a randomised controlled study that investigates the effectiveness of sending automated mobile text messages to people with cardiovascular disease. The intervention aims to improve adherence to medication, lifestyle and behaviour change.

Investigators: Professor Clara Chow, Professor David Brieger, Professor Graham Hillis, Professor Julie Redfern, Associate Professor Fiona Turnbull, Dr Aravinda Thiagalingam, Associate Professor Federica Barzi, Associate Professor Rohina Joshi, Professor Derek Chew, Professor Stephen Jan, Bernadette Aliprandi-Costa, Professor Anthony Rodgers, Sandra Bahamad, Anu Indrawansa, Gillian Rosic and Daniel McIntyre. Funded by the NHMRC.

QUEL

Quality improvement in primary care to prevent hospitalisations and improve effectiveness and efficiency of care for people living with heart disease

Coronary heart disease accounts for the greatest disease morbidity and nearly one fifth of deaths in Australia. Around half of these deaths occur in people with prior coronary heart disease.

Cost-effective and scalable strategies are needed to prevent associated deaths and hospitalisations. Our aim is to improve secondary prevention in primary care by implementing a scalable strategy and practice-level quality improvement to inform government decision-making.

Quel provides robust data about whether quality improvement reduces hospitalisations and costs and about how it can be implemented in an efficient and sustainable way.

Investigators: Professor Julie Redfern, Professor Clara Chow, Professor Christopher Reid, Professor Nicholas Zwar, Professor Timothy Usherwood, Professor Mark Woodward, Professor Stephen Jan, Professor David Hare, Associate Professor Thomas Briffa, Professor Robyn Gallagher, Rohan Greenland, Julie Anne Mitchell, Colin Frick, Dr Andrew Knight, Associate Professor Laurent Billot, Dr Emily Atkins, Professor Elizabeth Halcomb, Dr Tony Lembke, Dr Robert Herkes, Dr Tracey-Lea Laba and Nashid Hafiz. Funded by the NHMRC and in-kind contributions from partner organisations

EMPOWER-SMS

A tExt Message intervention to suPpOrt Women’s physical and mental health aftER breaSt cancer treatMentS

The number of Australian women who survive breast cancer has dramatically increased over the past 10 years, prompting an urgent need for effective support strategies during their recovery and beyond. Previously, our research team’s text-messaging programs have been used to provide support to people with heart and lung diseases. After a six-month program, people showed improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, physical activity and healthy eating. Now, we want to know if this same strategy can also help women’s health and wellness after breast cancer treatments.

The Text4BreastCare study is a single-site randomised controlled trial examining if receiving supportive text messages helps improve women’s mental, emotional and physical health after breast cancer treatments compared to not receiving any messages. If effective, this support strategy can be easily scaled-up and tested across Australia.

Investigators: Professor Julie Redfern, Associate Professor Elisabeth Elder and Anna Singleton.

TEXTBITES

Text message-based behavioural intervention for teens on eating, physical activity and social wellbeing

Overweight and obesity affects nearly one in three adolescents, aged 13 to 18 years, living in Australia. Weight gain in youth is related to cancer, heart disease and diabetes in later life.

To address this we have developed a simple, scalable and engaging text message-based program. We are testing TextBites in adolescents to improve weight and key weight-related lifestyle behaviours, physical activity, healthy eating and social wellbeing.

Investigators: Dr Stephanie Partridge, Professor Julie Redfern, Professor Clara Chow and Professor Adrian Bauman.

WHILE YOU’RE WAITING

Using the time patients spend in waiting rooms to educate them on cardiovascular disease

Knowledge of cardiovascular disease is associated with better adherence to lifestyle changes that improve health. However, there is not enough time in a 15-minute clinic appointment for doctors to both provide care and educate patients on cardiovascular disease. In fact, patients often spend more time waiting to see the doctor than in their consultation.

'While you’re waiting' aims to use time spent in waiting rooms as an opportunity to deliver informative and engaging educational videos on cardiovascular disease that have been selected by health care professionals.

We are interested to see if this will improve overall satisfaction with clinic care and motivate patients to make lifestyle changes that reduce their cardiovascular disease risk.

Investigators: Dr Aravinda Thiagalingam, Daniel McIntyre, Dr Jay Thakkar and Professor Clara Chow.

Investigators: Dr Harry Klimis, Dr Aravinda Thiagalingam and Professor Clara Chow.

TEXTME-2

Tobacco, exercise, and diet messages for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease

Our team has developed and evaluated cardiovascular disease support programs delivered via text messaging and found benefits with people who have established cardiovascular disease (secondary prevention). However, it is unknown if this would work in a primary prevention cohort (those without coronary heart disease). TextMe-2 is a trial which aims to answer this question.

The primary objective of the TextMe-2 study is to determine the impact of a program of lifestyle-focused text messages on multiple modifiable cardiovascular risk factors. The study will focus on high-risk individuals who have been referred to outpatient cardiology services for chest pain but without documented coronary artery disease. In addition, this study will look at the effect of such a program on quality of life, health literacy, medication adherence and depression/anxiety scores.

Investigators: Dr Harry Klimis, Dr Aravinda Thiagalingam and Professor Clara Chow.

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