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Health - who misses out, and what can be done?

16 April, 2018

‘Research published in the latest issue of Australian Health Review looks at how different population groups interact with Australia’s health system’, according to the AHR’s chief editor, Professor Gary Day.

‘Research from Monash University considered why older people are presenting to hospital emergency departments and whether a general practice setting would have given more appropriate care. Analysing emergency department use in metropolitan Melbourne between 2008 and 2012, researchers found older people made a significant number of potentially avoidable general practitioner-type presentations.

‘Strategies to address this are needed at both the primary and acute care levels, including improvements to after-hours access to GPs, triaging and appointment management in general practice, and communication between acute and primary care services.

‘Research from Western Australia compared a one-day snapshot of the body mass index (BMI) of patients at a tertiary hospital in February 2015 with national and state population norms. Although much is known about the average weight of Australians there isn’t much information on the weight of Australians in hospital.

‘The study found that there were fewer hospitalised patients who were overweight or obese, and more patients who were underweight or severely obese, compared with the non-hospitalised general Australian population.

‘The study concluded that being overweight or obese may offer some protection against hospitalisation, but the damaging effect of obesity results in more extremely obese individuals being hospitalised than the proportion represented in the general population.

‘Another study looked at the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people aged 50 years and over in New South Wales to understand the health issues that concern them, the services they use and challenges encountered accessing these services.

‘The study concluded that although many older LGBTI people are well, both physically and mentally, they face increased risk of physical and mental health issues, such as loneliness and psychological distress compared with the general population.

‘Providing opportunities for older LGBTI clients to identify their gender or sexual diversity may assist in monitoring risk factors and enable referrals aimed at promoting healthy aging.

‘A perspective article from Queensland considered the inclusion of homeless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a neurocognitive disability in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

‘The authors warned that without accurate prevalence rates of neurocognitive disability, homeless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are in danger of not receiving appropriate supports.’

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