Our research in the

Preventing Overdiagnosis theme

The Preventing Overdiagnosis theme includes research staff, research students and professional staff from a variety of backgrounds including physiotherapy and chiropractic.

There is a growing awareness of the problem of overdiagnosis or ‘too much medicine’. Overuse of medical tests and treatments not only causes harm but also diverts scarce healthcare resources required to deliver the necessary care. Our work to address ‘too much medicine’ aims to be both safe and fair for healthcare consumers and their families, and at the same time optimise the Australian health system’s safety, efficiency and equity of access.

IMH-led projects

We hope the results of this study lead to a reduction in unnecessary imaging of low back pain in Emergency Departments to improve patient care.

The aim of this study is to determine whether it is feasible to a run a campaign to raise awareness of unnecessary imaging for low back pain among patients and physicians. The awareness campaign involves digital posters and patient education leaflets that address misconceptions about imaging for low back pain, and encourage the public to consider their options and ask questions of their doctor.

A pilot trial of the intervention began at Liverpool Hospital on 6 July 2020.

Principal Investigator: Dr Adrian Traeger

Associate Investigators: Ms Elise Tcharkhedian, Dr Ian Ferguson, Dr Andrew Coggins, Associate Professor Paul Middleton, Ms Janet Harrison, Ms Swee Sharm (IMH), Professor Chris Maher (IMH).

This study has received funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council and ethics approval from South Western Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee.

For more information about this study please contact Dr Adrian Traeger.


Collaborative projects

Wiser Healthcare aims to improve the quality of healthcare through informing clinicians and patients about tests and treatments that provide no benefit or cause harm. A large group of colleges, societies and associations have joined together to analyse tests and treatments that warrant scrutiny, examine the evidence and provide recommendations. These recommendations are then provided to the healthcare community so patients have greater understanding of what questions to ask when they next see their clinician.

Chief Investigators: Prof Alex Barratt (University of Sydney), Prof Rachelle Buchbinder (Monash University), Prof Stacy Carter (University of Wollongong), Prof Jenny Doust (Bond University), Prof Adam Elshaug (University of Sydney), Prof Paul Glasziou (Bond University), Prof Kirsten Howard (University of Sydney), Prof Ian Kerridge (University of Sydney), Prof Kirsten McCaffrey (University of Sydney), Prof Roy Moynihan (Bond University), Prof Chris Semsarian (University of Sydney).

Institute for Musculoskeletal Health Investigators: Prof Chris Maher and Prof Ian Harris.

Wiser Healthcare has been established by research leaders with funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for five years (2017-2021) and is a collaboration between Bond University, the University of Sydney and Monash University. For more information, please visit Wiser Healthcare.

We hope the results of this study lead to a reduction in musculoskeletal diagnostic imaging requests by high requesting general practitioners (GP).

The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of feedback for reducing musculoskeletal diagnostic imaging requests in general practice compared with control. It is part of collaboration between IMH, the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health, Monash University, and Wiser Healthcare. The trial involves randomly allocating GPs who request high numbers of targeted musculoskeletal diagnostic imaging services to an intervention or control group. The intervention group receive information about their diagnostic imaging rates compared to the rates of their GP peers. The control group receive no feedback information.

This trial is ongoing and results are expected in 2021.

Principal Investigator: Dr Denise O’Connor (Monash University)

IMH Investigators: Dr Adrian Traeger and Professor Chris Maher

This study has received funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and ethics approval from Bond University Human Research Ethics Committee.

For more information about this study please contact Dr Denise O’Connor.


Theme leader: Professor Chris Maher

BAppSc(Phty), GradDipAppSc(ExSpSc), GradDipAppSc(ManipPhty), PhD, DMedSc, FACP, FAAHMS

Professor Chris Maher is an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. His clinical training is in physiotherapy and he is a fellow of the Australian College of Physiotherapy. Chris is best known for his clinical research evaluating the management of low back pain which has been published in leading journals including New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Annals of Internal Medicine and British Medical Journal.