Veterans' MATES

The Veterans’ MATES program is no longer active.

The Quality Use of Medicine and Pharmacy Research Centre conducted this program since 2004, funded by the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). The program was a data-driven, behavioural change intervention that provided educational materials to health professionals and veterans, and individualised medicine advice to general practitioners. Interventions were provided for a range of health topics including pain, depression, osteoporosis, heart burn and diabetes, and addressed medication-specific topics.

A determination was made by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner in 2023 relating to an individual case where the individual opted out of participation in the program in 2017 and DVA did not fully implement this request. Questions were raised with DVA about consent for the data it provided to the University. When UniSA became aware of this, it requested the suspension of the transmission of that data. Ethics approval for the Veterans’ MATES program was subsequently withdrawn. On 9 February 2024 the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs asked DVA to close the program and examine options for possible future programs that provide health benefits to the Veteran community, while meeting community expectations around ethical data use.

Enquiries about the Veterans’ MATES program

Quality Use of Medicines in People Living with Dementia: Determining research priorities

We are pleased to advise that this project was successfully completed in March 2022 and identified the top 10 unanswered quality use of medicines questions for people with dementia. These questions were generated and prioritised by Australians living with dementia, carers, and healthcare professionals (clinicians).

You can find a link to a summary of the Top 10 questions here.

While we have reached the end of our research project, this marks the beginning of the next important phase: promoting our findings with the Australian and international community and encouraging research in these priority areas.

Further details about the process and the next steps can found in the brochure here.

Alternatively, you can watch a short video.

We launched the Top 10 priorities at a webinar featuring Maree McCabe (Dementia Australia CEO), Emily Reeve (Project Lead) and Ron Sinclair (consumer advocate) on the 23rd of March 2022. A recording of the webinar will be available shortly.

Quality use of medicines means using medicines safely and effectively to get the best possible health outcomes. It also means only using medicines when they are needed. People living with dementia represent a diverse adult health population, encompassing a range co-morbidities and socio-cultural backgrounds. There are many potential areas of research that could improve quality use of medicines for people with dementia.

Historically, health research questions have been led by either drug companies or researchers, with little involvement from clinicians or consumers. This project determined which questions are important to people living with dementia and their care team, to prioritise research in these areas and ensure that outcomes of research are directly relevant to the care of people living with dementia. This will lead to improving how medicines are used which in turn will improve health outcomes in people living with dementia.

This Priority Setting Partnership was funded by an Australian Association of Gerontology Research Trust/Dementia Australia Research Foundation - 2019 Strategic Research grant. This study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Sydney, Monash University, National Ageing Research Institute and the University of New South Wales and in partnership with the James Lind Alliance, Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy, Australian Association of Gerontology, Australian College of Nurse Practitioners, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Leading Age Services Australia, National Association of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, Speech Pathology Australia and The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia. This project was supported by a Steering Group which was made up of health care professionals and consumers. Information about the Steering Group members for this project can be found here.

Development of Evidence-Based Dose Individualisation Strategies

Precision dosing of medicines is one of the ways we can make medicine use safer. The concept of precision dosing or dose individualisation is where doses are tailored to each individual patient‘s needs, taking into account their liver and kidney function, interacting medicines and interacting conditions. Utilising pharmacokinetic modelling and simulation, this research program focuses on providing an evidence-based approach to the appropriate prescription and management of medications in clinical practice.

Deprescribing

As people age, medications that were once appropriate (where the benefits outweighed the harms) can become inappropriate (for example, no longer necessary or high risk). Deprescribing is the process of withdrawal of inappropriate medications, supervised by a healthcare professional with the goal of managing multiple medicine use and improving health outcomes. This program of research looks into how older adults and carers feel about ceasing medicines and improving shared decision making as well as the development and implementation of deprescribing guidelines for practitioners.

Psychotropic medicine use in Australian Children

There is global evidence that prescribing psychotropic medicines (medicines that affect the mind) to children is increasing, despite limited evidence to support the efficacy and safety of these medicines in children. This project investigates patterns of use of antidepressant, anxiolytic and antipsychotic (psychotropic) medicines in children in Australia. Of particular interest is psychotropic medicine use in children with autism spectrum disorder due to the increasing prevalence of the disorder, and associated prescribing.