The Health News – 23 March 2016

Overview:
• The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) said despite government intervention in addressing staffing shortages in country towns, people living in the regional areas still had worse health outcomes than their city counterparts.

• A team of international researchers from Curtin University’s found that a number of studies linking one or two drinks per day with a range of health benefits were based on flawed science.

• Australia’s leading medical funding body, the National Heath and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has awarded $3.3 million to two researchers to look into whether proximity to wind turbines causes illness.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 23rd of March 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-22/calls-for-training-for-rural-generalist-nurses/7266758

Rural doctors are calling for nurses and allied health professionals to be trained as generalists to tackle the inequality in health outcomes for rural and remote people.

The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) said despite government intervention in addressing staffing shortages in country towns, people living in the regional areas still had worse health outcomes than their city counterparts.

Dr McPhee has worked as a GP in Emerald in Central Queensland for more than 25 years.

He said a shift towards training generalist doctors – teaching country students to become jack-of-all-trades country doctors – had helped attract and retain staff.

Dr McPhee said there was an opportunity to take lessons from the generalist program for doctors and apply them to the shortage of nurses and other medical professionals in rural areas.

Dr McPhee acknowledged generalists were not a silver bullet, with many of the doctors in rural towns facing incredible workloads, and private rural clinics struggling for long term sustainability.

But he said nothing would change without a shift in thinking at a policy level.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-22/studies-linking-alcohol-to-health-benefits-flawed-researchers/7264040

The notion that moderate drinking can help you live a longer and healthier life is being challenged by new research ….

A team of international researchers found that a number of studies linking one or two drinks per day with a range of health benefits were based on flawed science.

Curtin University’s Tanya Chikritzhs, the principal investigator for the project, said her team analysed 87 studies and found most of them used questionable methodology.

Professor Chikritzhs said the main problem was how the studies compared drinkers with non-drinkers to gauge which group was healthier.

Moderate drinkers were more often than not being compared to abstainers, she said.

Professor Chikritzhs said the problem with that approach was that the group of abstainers included former drinkers, who had given up alcohol because of poor health.

Professor Chikritzhs said there were other ways to look more accurately at the health impacts of drinking.

“What we found in our study is the best comparison group is not non-drinkers at all, but occasional drinkers, so these are people who drink in such small amounts that biologically alcohol could have no effect on their body in terms of protection,” she said.

“What we actually found in terms of these occasional drinkers in terms of the longevity stakes — who lives longer — it’s the occasional drinker who live the longest, so they outdo the people who are drinking at moderate levels.”

The findings are published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The team of researchers were from the University of Victoria in Canada, the Institute for Scientific Analysis in California, the Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health in Massachusetts, and the National Drug Research Institute at Perth’s Curtin University.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-22/3.3m-pledged-for-research-into-wind-turbine-sickness/7267946

Australia’s leading medical funding body, the National Heath and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has awarded $3.3 million to two researchers to look into whether proximity to wind turbines causes illness.

More research was recommended by a year-long study into wind turbine sickness by the NHMRC that found “no direct evidence that exposure to wind farm noise affects physical or mental health”.

It recommended $500,000 to fund researchers to undertake further study.

Later, the NHMRC’s Research Committee upped the recommendation to $2.5 million because it was a case where there was “limited reliable evidence”.

Some residents who live close to wind power farms complain of a broad range of symptoms including headaches and nausea. Others report no such problems.

[This week]… epidemiologist Professor Guy Marks from the University of New South Wales was awarded $1.94 million to investigate wind turbine noise and sleep, balance, mood and cardiovascular health.

Sleep researcher Associate Professor Peter Catcheside from Flinders University was awarded $1.36 million over five years to look into the impacts of wind turbine noise on sleep.

He said sleepers will be monitored near wind farms and near areas of heavy traffic for comparison. In the lab, wind turbine noises will be played back to sleeping volunteers and their reactions recorded.

The average grant awarded by the NHMRC over the last 16 years is $546,516. For Professor Catcheside, the $1.36 million is his largest ever grant.

He believes the funding is justified.

Clean Energy Council policy manager Alicia Webb said multiple studies, both in Australia and overseas, had already concluded there is no evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans.

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