Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet
http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au

 

What we do

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The HealthInfoNet's translational research aims at providing the knowledge and other information needed for practitioners and policy-makers to make informed decisions in their work. (For more information about translational research)

Our knowledge synthesis, a central aspect of all translational research (TR), transforms a wide range of health research and other relevant information into forms that are meaningful to people working at improving the health of Indigenous people.

These syntheses, of the 'knowledge-support' type of narrative reviews/syntheses, are made accessible to users on the sections of our site devoted to specific health and related topics. The syntheses draw on all the relevant evidence, including the relevant scientific literature and essential contextual evidence. We currently undertake our syntheses at three levels. The highest level involves our team working with relevant experts in the field with the synthesis subjected to formal peer-review. At the second level, the synthesis prepared by HealthInfoNet team is subjected to peer-review. The third level is similar to the second, but without peer-review.

Ideally, preparation of these syntheses would be undertaken with a suitable combination of Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts in the area, including practitioners, policy-makers and researchers. Attention to the evidence would be widened to include close scrutiny of the international literature related to the specific health topic. The preparation would probably also involve a face-to-face meeting of the people involved to reach some consensus on contentious issues. (This approach, estimated to require resources in the order of $200,000-250,000 (cash and –in-kind) is beyond our capacity.)

The reviews are aimed primarily at health practitioners with appropriate tertiary training (at either university or VET level), so the HealthInfoNet team at adapting/tailoring knowledge for specific groups of health workers. Special attention is directed to Indigenous health workers, some of whom may not have benefited from education to upper high school and/or tertiary levels. Each of our health and health-related reviews is made available in 'plain language' forms.1 We also provide for workers without tertiary training special sub-sections in two areas: environmental heath; and social and emotional wellbeing. (Planning is underway for a similar sub-section for people working in the area of alcohol and other drugs.)

In recognition of the fact that effective professional practice also needs knowledge arising from professional experience and personal knowledge, as well as range of contextual knowledge, the HealthInfoNet sections devoted to health and related topics provide a range of other information (such as policies and strategies, health promotion and practice resources, programs and projects, organisations, and publications) specific to each topic.

We also synthesise the current evidence of Indigenous health in our Overview of Indigenous health status - a comprehensive overview of the major issues - and a plain language version, our Summary of Australian Indigenous health.

The HealthInfoNet also facilitates the sharing of knowledge between people working in Indigenous health through specially-developed 'yarning places' (formerly known as communities of practice). Yarning places are digital spaces where people with an interest in Indigenous health can share information, knowledge, and experiences. This medium allows workers to speak to each other directly, ask questions, and share experiences in an electronically-mediated environment, allowing for sharing across geographical regions and health sectors. The HealthInfoNet supports yarning place dedicated to a number of topic areas, nearly all which are supported with funds beyond those provided by the Australian Department of Health and Ageing for our 'core' work.

Bibliographic information is also available from the library-level, online search facility of the Australian Indigenous HealthBibliography, the most comprehensive bibliography of literature relating specifically to Australian Indigenous health. Recent literature and other relevant developments are summarised in the Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin, our online peer-reviewed journal.

  1. HealthInfoNet researchers receive some training in plain-language writing. Workshops, where researchers are trained by a plain-language expert, are held periodically; these workshops are followed up with apprentice-like supervision by the expert. At other times, new researchers are mentored by an experienced researcher.
 
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