Consumers and carers as physical health care navigators in rural Australia: A randomised trial.

Prize: GrantSuccessful


Comprising 28% of the population, rural Australians have worse health outcomes and suffer health workforce shortages that are much worse in the country than the city. Further, rural people with mental illness have a 23% higher incidence of premature death than those in major cities. This project addresses this problem by developing and testing a Physical Health Care Navigator (PHCN) model of care for people with mental illness using a four-stage co-design research approach.
Using surveys, in-depth interviews and focus groups, stage one will investigate the experiences of physical health care of rural consumers, carers and clinicians. Stage two will use the findings from stage one to inform a series of co-design workshops and consultations to develop a PHCN model of care and linked training and supervision support programs. Stage three is a randomised efficacy trial of the PHCN model of care in rural Qld and NSW. This trial will assess the acceptability, feasibility and efficacy of the PHCN model of care delivered by three categories of PHCNs: consumers, carers and clinicians.
Stage four, knowledge translation will employ Equally Well’s established knowledge sharing processes such as communities of practice, webinars, social media, website and annual research symposia. Additionally, findings will be disseminated via conference presentations, peer-reviewed publications and through the Equally Well international learning network (established and chaired by CIA in 2019).
In the context of chronic rural mental health workforce shortages, this research will evaluate the impact of consumer (peer) and carer PHCNs on the physical health and wellbeing of people living with severe mental illness. This innovative approach has the potential to make a significant contribution to the rural mental health workforce, provide valuable support to the existing rural workforce and most importantly, enhance the health and life-expectancy of rural Australians living with mental illness.
Degree of recognitionNational
Granting OrganisationsNational Health and Medical Research Council