– Asthma Australia aims for meaningful change in everyday lives
– Proudly launches Australia’s new and only National Asthma Research Agenda
There is limited funding available for asthma research. To provide overarching, strategic direction, the peak body for asthma in Australia, has released a new National Asthma Research Agenda (NARA) to coordinate the research community based on the priorities of end-users.
The agenda addresses a recommendation made in the 2018 National Asthma Strategy, which called for the development of a national asthma research agenda to help “focus, coordinate and translate quality health research into policy and practice.”
NARA highlights the top 10 priorities which reflect the challenges keeping over 1 1 million people living with the chronic respiratory condition short of breath. Publishing these priority topics gives all researchers and funding bodies a clear insight into priority issues, as identified by the end users of asthma research themselves.
CEO of Asthma Australia Michele Goldman said Australia has one of the highest rates of asthma and worst measures of burden among comparable countries and new approaches were urgently needed.
“By focusing funders, researchers and institutions, we hope there can be greater collaboration and ultimately better outcomes for people with asthma,” Goldman said. “We are rebuilding our research program strategy around this agenda, to prioritise investment and research into the identified priorities. We are meeting funding bodies to discuss adopting the priorities into their research programs. And we are also presenting the outcomes to researchers and institutions.”
As recently published in the Journal of Respirology, the research priorities reflect people’s lived experiences to ensure research will be translated into meaningful change in everyday settings.
The top asthma research priority is asthma in children, a cohort that experiences the most health burden than any other disease, and accounts for more than half of all asthma hospitalisations in Australia. In addition, there is significant impact on early life, education and caring responsibilities.
The top 10 asthma research priorities are:
- Asthma in Children
- COVID-19 and asthma
- Asthma care and self-management
- Diagnosis and medication
- Managing asthma attacks
- Causes, prevention and features of asthma
- Mental health
- Asthma and ageing
- Severe asthma
- Asthma and other health conditions
Each theme covers specific issues and questions captured in the research agenda project (refer to publication link above). Under the top priority theme of asthma in children, people raised questions about the prevention, treatment and impacts and causes, and underlined unmet support needs for carers of children with asthma.
“We don’t have all the answers, but Asthma Australia believes that if we focus on the issues that are most important to those living with asthma, and health professionals who care for them, we will have a greater chance of shifting the dial which has been fixed for so long in Australia,” Goldman continued.
“This research project is an extension of our consumer-driven approach. We have moved away from decades of funding what we think is important and asked the community and their treating healthcare professionals to tell us what questions they would like to see answered.”
Professor Peter Gibson, the project lead and co-director at the Centre for Research Excellence in Treatable Traits for Asthma says, “Whilst the overarching themes may appear broad, this is a powerful and rich list with the potential to influence research investment and get more out of our collective efforts in asthma. Identifying consumer driven priorities is vitally important.
“We hope the National Asthma Research Agenda will influence research funding in Australia, support increased investment, and facilitate conversations about the necessary research investment to address these priorities,” said Ms Goldman.
Development of NARA
The National Asthma Research Agenda has been developed through a rigorous process, adapted from the James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership process, which focuses on bringing patients, carers and clinicians together to identify and prioritise the unanswered questions that are most important for research to address.
“Before now, there has been a lack of overarching strategic direction for asthma research in Australia. This can result in a fragmented approach and research waste” Anthony Flynn, Senior Manager Research, Information, Programs and Policy, Asthma Australia said. “The 2018 National Asthma Strategy identified there are polarising views among Australian asthma researchers about research priorities. As a result, the need for a national asthma research agenda was raised.”
New research led by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute highlighted gaps and opportunities across the care network in childhood asthma care, underlining the importance of this focus on asthma in children.
The National Asthma Research Program grant rounds are managed by Asthma Australia supported by a Research Advisory Committee who are some of country’s most well regarded in the respiratory research community including: