Professor Chris Maher

Professors Chris Maher, David Hunter, and Joshua Burns lead the Musculoskeletal Clinical Stream for Sydney Health Partners. Below they outline what they are trying to achieve for people living with musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis as well as disabling ankle, knee and low back pain.

What are you working on?

We are working to advance musculoskeletal health through improving the quality of care provided to people living with musculoskeletal conditions, as well as improving access to this care.

Why are you undertaking this research?

Professor David Hunter
Musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and low back pain – as well as devastating disorders like osteogenesis imperfecta and osteoporosis - are a major cause of disability. In Australia these conditions affect 7 million people, and are a National Health Priority. In fact, low back and neck pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

In general, current medical practice does not align with what is recommended in guidelines, leading to inappropriate care, poor outcomes and waste of healthcare resources.

Professor Joshua Burns

We want to turn this around by improving the appropriateness of, and access to, evidence-based musculoskeletal care.

Who are you trying to help?

Together we are working on implementing the ACI model of care for people with acute low back pain in Emergency Departments (Prof Chris Maher), whole of life care for patients with devastating musculoskeletal disorders and associated secondary fracture prevention programs (Prof Joshua Burns)  and improving the appropriateness of, and access to, evidence-based osteoarthritis care (Prof David Hunter) for people with osteoarthritis.

How does being part of a collaborative partnership like Sydney Health Partners help you to achieve more than you would be able to individually?

Being part of Sydney Health Partners gives us the scope to collaborate with all of the organisations that make up the Partnership. This means we can conduct translational research across the University of Sydney Faculties (e.g. Medicine and Health, Engineering & IT, Science), medical research institutes (e.g. ANZAC Research Institute), as well as across all four local health districts (Sydney, Northern Sydney and Western Sydney Local Health Districts and the Children’s Hospital Network).

What potential do you see for scaling up the results of your research? How can it reach more people in the health system?

Our work has enormous opportunities to be scaled up. Once we can demonstrate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of our interventions they will be translated into guidelines, policy and practice. It will then be essential to collaborate with other universities, medical research institutes, local health districts and primary health networks - locally, nationally and beyond – to ensure our work helps as many people living with musculoskeletal conditions as possible.

The Musculoskeletal Stream was awarded $90,000 in funding from Sydney Health Partners in 2016 to accelerate the Sydney Health Partners Emergency Department trial. We speak to Dr Gustavo Machado here to find out more about how the trial is progressing and how it will help people with low back pain.

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Page Last Updated: 08 October, 2018