Preventing Overdiagnosis

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.

Lead projects

This study examined the effect of a communication strategy, translated into 5 languages, on unnecessary imaging of low back pain in a NSW Emergency Department.

The aim of this study was 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. We found that digital posters and patient education leaflets positioned in the ED waiting room could encourage the public to consider their options regarding imaging and ask questions of their doctor.

Our pilot trial at the Liverpool Hospital was completed in 2020 and the findings were published in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care. To read more about the trial please click here.

Principal Investigators: Dr Adrian Traeger, Dr Swee Sharma

Associate Investigators: Elise Tcharkhedian, Dr Ian Ferguson, Dr Andrew Coggins, Associate Professor Paul Middleton, Janet Harrison, Sweekriti Sharma (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.

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.