Translating RHD research into clinical and public health practice

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Presenter:  Assoc Professor Suzanne Belton / Claire Boardman

Date: Sep 27, 2017

Time: 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Contact person:  Menzies School of Health Research
T: 8946 8651

Location:  Royal Darwin Hospital Campus, Seminar Room 013 (off the foyer of the Menzies Building)


Funded under the Commonwealth’s Rheumatic Fever Strategy ‘Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia’ aims to prevent and reduce rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia through education, awareness raising, and national collaboration. Building on research undertaken by Australasian Maternity Outcomes Surveillance System into RHD, this seminar showcases outputs that impact on clinical and public health at a national level. Discussion with leading schools of midwifery demonstrated that RHD was often not included in tertiary curricula or contemporary text books. There was an education gap. RHD Australia is working with midwives in research knowledge translation to increase awareness about RHD in pregnancy and the role of the midwife. Further, NHMRC funded research demonstrated low health literacy among patients with RHD and a lack of culturally and gender appropriate health promotion material.  A short health promotion film will be shown during this seminar. Additionally, the audience will be shown ‘Treatment Tracker’ a smartphone app developed as a support tool for young people on secondary prophylaxis. It is designed to help patients on 28-day secondary prophylaxis regimens to self-manage their treatment and reduce days at risk of a recurrence of acute rheumatic fever and will be launched on the iTunes and Google Play stores on October 3.

Conclusions and implications for practice:

Research knowledge translation into education and health promotion for health professionals and patients may improve RHD outcomes.


Assoc. Professor Suzanne Belton is a medical anthropologist and midwife with clinical experience in community health, women's health, family planning and refugee health. She has worked in remote Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, East Timor and China and is current Regional Partnership Manager at NTPHN.

Suzanne’s research interests include the anthropology of health, the social and cultural context of sexual and reproductive health, gender and violence against women, cross-cultural studies, traditional birth attendants, community ethnography, models of maternal health care, and human rights. She uses mixed methods and teaches qualitative research methods, global health, sexual and reproductive health and community and public health.

Suzanne is the Chairperson of Family Planning Association NT and a past representative for Australia in International Planned Parenthood Federation.

Claire Boardman is Deputy Director of RHDAustralia and works in conjunction with jurisdictional programs to support National efforts in ARF/RHD.  Prior to this appointment she was privileged to be working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait island communities in public health/infection control across 22 health service sites in the Torres Strait.  In her public health capacity, she has worked in complex disaster and developing nation settings. She has held a number of State and National appointments including past President of the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control (ACIPC) and more recently has been appointed to the  board of CRANA as a Director.

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