This week the column puts a big focus on research, profiling a stack of new publications, including several on COVID, and a new series of systematic reviews from the Campbell Collaboration.
It links to articles about what Elon Musk’s Twitter means for science and science communications, as well as the community’s access to news. We also bring some tips from the experts about how to bridge the gaps between science and policy. Surely we need to be doing much better at that!
Meanwhile, some hundreds of children’s lives have been lost, from war in Ukraine and starvation in Sudan.
Scroll to the end for news of events, awards and opportunities.
Independent Sophie Scamps, a former GP, said: “’If Sydney University wants to retain its reputation as a serious scientific research institution it must not allow itself to be bought off by the gambling industry’.”
Research in focus
This case study describes the development and implementation of a governance structure that prioritised First Nations peoples in a local public health Incident Command System activated for the COVID-19 pandemic response in NSW. Using lessons learnt from past pandemics and planning exercises, public health leaders embedded an approach whereby First Nations peoples determined and led community and culturally informed pandemic control strategies and actions.
Embedding Aboriginal governance in a public health emergency management system, which embodies principles of empowerment, self-determination and shared decision-making, can lead to a more culturally informed and appropriate pandemic response, governed within a system where Aboriginal peoples are respected, trusted, engaged and listened to, the authors reported.
This model strengthened and increased Aboriginal workforce, advanced Aboriginal leadership, and enabled strong, collaborative and meaningful partnerships with the ICS teams, Aboriginal health units, Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations, and other government and non-government agencies.
However, despite its strong collective voice, the governance was not always operationalised to its full potential, said the authors, citing institutional racism and white fragility challenges.
Read the Nature article, Why a highly mutated coronavirus variant has scientists on alert: “Researchers are racing to determine whether a highly mutated coronavirus variant that has popped up in three continents will be a global concern — or much ado about nothing.”Read the Nature Medicine article, Postacute sequelae of COVID-19 at 2 years. The authors conclude: “In sum, our study provides a systematic and comprehensive assessment of the risks of 80 prespecified postacute sequelae. Among nonhospitalized individuals, although the risks of most sequelae became nonstatistically significant at 2 years, substantial risk remains, impacting several major organ systems. The risk horizon for those hospitalized during the acute phase is even longer with persistently increased risk of most sequelae at 2 years. The results may help inform post-COVID care strategies and health system capacity planning to address the postacute and long-term care needs of people with COVID-19.”Read the study: Monitoring the burden of COVID-19 and impact of hospital transfer policies on Australian aged-care residents in residential aged-care facilities in 2020 Read this article in Nature: Want to speed up scientific progress? First understand how science policy works
The authors draw on their experience working with US federal science agencies to suggest three ways to bridge the divide between research and policy:
- Spend time working in government to understand how policy works
- Look for ways to collaborate with think tanks
- Work to change academic norms to value use-inspired research.
See this thread on new Campbell Collaboration reviews, also covering:
- The effects of flipped classrooms to improve learning outcomes in undergraduate health professional education
- Effects of small class sizes on students’ academic achievement, socioemotional development and well-being in special education – “There are surprisingly few studies exploring the effects of small class sizes in special education on any outcomes.”
- Montessori education’s impact on academic and nonacademic outcomes – “Relative to traditional education, Montessori education has modest but meaningful positive effects on children’s academic and non-academic (executive function, creativity and social-emotional) outcomes.”
- Functional Family Therapy for families of youth (age 11-18) with behaviour problems – Functional Family Therapy, a family-based intervention for youth with behaviour problems, is often described as an evidence-based program with consistent, positive effects. This systematic review finds that FFT does not produce consistent benefits or harms…The positive or negative direction of results is inconsistent within and across studies.”
Read statement: The Albanese Government has agreed, or agreed in principle, to all 10 recommendations of the Review of the Australian Research Council Act 2001 (ARC Review)
The Northern Territory Primary Health Care Workforce Summit was held in Alice Springs on 23 August.
Read the Nature article, Thousands of scientists are cutting back on Twitter, seeding angst and uncertainty.
The article is worth reading and includes a range of views. It quotes Inger Mewburn, an education and technology researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra, saying that the proliferation of platforms has created a fragmented landscape for science communication and community. One of the advantages of Twitter was that it was the main platform where researchers could go to find specific information. “People would just go to that hashtag and they’d see everyone who was talking about a very particular interest,” she says. Now, researchers need to hop from application to application following specific communities and individuals. “It’s just hard to know where people are hanging out,” Mewburn says.
Awards and appointments
See previous editions of ICYMI