Newsletter: March 2015


New Editor

We are very pleased to announce that Annie has recently agreed to become a Consumers and Communication Review Group Editor. Anneliese Synnot has been a valued member of staff at the Centre for Health Communication and Participation, the home of the Group, for the last five years, most recently filling in for Rebecca Ryan while she was on maternity leave.

Molly O’Sullivan

We also welcome Molly O’Sullivan to our team. Molly is a part-time Master of Public Health student working with Sophie and Annie on our priority-setting project (see below). Molly will be identifying the criteria in the area of communication and participation that can be used to rank the priorities for Australian systematic reviews. She will also be helping Annie & Sophie with the online survey and the face-to-face workshop.

Molly also works as a clinical trials coordinator with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in the Allergy & Immune Disorders and Developmental Disability & Rehabilitation research groups and as a project coordinator in the Population Health Studies of Adolescents research group.

New babies

Two of our editors have recently welcomed new babies into their families. Gian Luca di Tanna, one of our statistics editors, has a new daughter, Luna Maria, and Ruth Stewart recently gave birth to Isabella Grace.  We congratulate Gian Luca and Ruth and wish them and their families all the best.

baby Luna Maria

Prize-winning article

Congratulations are due to Dianne Lowe, one of our PhD candidates. Dianne was lead author on a paper that was awarded the 2nd prize in the Review Group of "International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Best Paper Award 2015".

Citation: Dianne Lowe, Kristie L. Ebi and Bertil Forsberg. Heatwave Early Warning Systems and Adaptation Advice to Reduce Human Health Consequences of Heatwaves. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2011, 8(12), 4623–4648; doi:10.3390/ijerph8124623. Available online:

Our CC&CRG review priority-setting project update

As announced in our last newsletter, in 2015 we are undertaking a major review priority-setting project. We aim to prioritise up to five new topics for Cochrane reviews on consumer and communication topics. We anticipate the results will feed into future iterations of the top 300 priority Cochrane reviews recently identified by Cochrane for the organisation as a whole.

We are pleased to advise you that our project has officially started! We have had a number of meetings with Australian and international colleagues to refine the project methods and are in the process of convening the steering group. We have invited consumer representatives, policy makers, health professionals and researchers to join the steering group and will hold the first meeting in March.

We have also set up a web page that provides more detail about what we have planned (see We will post regular updates on this page and share project results.

If you would like to get in touch about this project, please contact Annie Synnot at or +61 3 9479 1086.

New Website

The Centre for Health Participation and Communication has a new and updated website, with a new URL:

The Consumers and Communication Review Group website will also be updated shortly, but will remain at /.

New Reviews and Protocols

New Review

Personalised care planning for adults with chronic or long-term health conditions

Citation: Coulter A, Entwistle VA, Eccles A, Ryan S, Shepperd S, Perera R. Personalised care planning for adults with chronic or long-term health conditions. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD010523. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010523.pub2.


People with long-term health conditions play an important part in managing their own health. But some of the tasks involved can be complicated, and require confidence and skill. Such tasks include taking medicines properly, monitoring symptoms, adopting or maintaining healthy lifestyles, managing their emotions, solving practical problems, knowing when and how to seek medical advice or community support, and coping with the impact of the condition(s) on their daily lives. Personalised care planning aims to provide support from health professionals that is tailored to the needs of individual patients. Such support recognises patients’ concerns, and helps them become more able to manage their own health. Personalised care planning is a conversation, or series of conversations, between a patient and a clinician when they jointly agree on goals and actions for managing the patient's health problems.

Review question

We carried out this systematic review to find out whether a personalised approach, in which patients are encouraged to participate in setting goals and action plans and determining their support needs, leads to better outcomes than when these decisions are taken by health professionals alone.


We found 19 randomised trials published before July 2013 that addressed this issue, involving 10,856 participants with conditions such as diabetes, mental health problems, heart failure, kidney disease, and asthma. The studies looked at a range of different interventions designed to involve patients and support self management. We combined and summarised results from studies that measured similar outcomes and found that involvement in personalised care planning probably led to small improvements in some indicators of physical health (better blood glucose levels, lower blood pressure measurements among people with diabetes, and control of asthma). It also probably reduced symptoms of depression, and improved people's confidence and skills to manage their health. We observed no effect on cholesterol, body mass index or quality of life. We found no evidence of any harms arising from personalised care planning. We found that the process worked best when it included preparation, record-sharing, care co-ordination and review, involved more intensive support from health professionals, and was integrated into routine care. However, the quality of evidence was only moderate, meaning that further research might change these findings.


We concluded that personalised care planning is a promising approach that offers the potential to provide effective help to patients, leading to better health outcomes. More research is needed to work out which aspects are most effective for specific patient groups.

For more information, see the full review on the Cochrane Library (

Updated reviews

Email for clinical communication between healthcare professionals

Citation: Goyder C, Atherton H, Car M, Heneghan CJ, Car J. Email for clinical communication between healthcare professionals. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD007979. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007979.pub3.


Email is now a popular method of communication but it is not so commonly used in health care. We wanted to discover how the use of email by healthcare professionals to communicate with each other might affect patients, healthcare professionals and health services. We were also interested in how it might fit into health systems.

In this review, we found only one study that focused on the effects of healthcare professionals using email to communicate with each other. This study included 327 patients and 159 healthcare providers, and compared an email reminder for physicians with usual care. It found that healthcare professionals who received an email reminder were more likely to provide guideline-recommended osteoporosis treatment than those who did not, and this may or may not have improved patient care. We were unable to properly assess its impact on patient behaviours or actions as the results were mixed. The study did not measure how email affects health services, or whether email can cause harms. This evidence is current to August 2013.

As there is a lack of evidence for the effects of healthcare professionals using email to communicate with each other, high-quality research is needed to evaluate the use of email for this purpose. Future research should look at the costs of using email and take into account ongoing changes in technology.

For more information, see the full review on the Cochrane Library (

Provision of a surgeon's performance data for people considering elective surgery

Citation: Henderson A, Henderson S. Provision of a surgeon's performance data for people considering elective surgery. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD006327. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006327.pub3.


Review question: We reviewed the evidence about the effect of providing information about a surgeon's performance to people who are thinking of having elective surgery. Elective surgery is defined as "surgery of a non emergency nature; although recommended, it can be scheduled in advance without affecting the health of the patient or the expected result of the procedure" (Dox 2004, p. 452).


Measuring the performance of surgeons is generally thought to be a good practice that will result in better surgical results. Providing information about the performance of individual surgeons is more controversial and it is not clear what effect giving consumers this information might have. We wanted to discover whether there was any evidence about the effect of making data about a surgeon's performance available to people who are thinking about having elective surgery, compared with people making similar decisions without this information.

Key results

There have been studies on ways of collecting and reporting information about the performance of surgeons, but we did not find any studies published before March 2014 that looked at the effect of this information on consumers.

This lack of evidence may reflect the practical difficulties and ethical issues involved in researching this topic. For example, surgeons might not be willing to take part in such studies. There might also be legal or ethical problems with providing only some patients with information about a surgeon's performance. However, it would be helpful to have more information to inform debate on this topic. Qualitative studies are needed that explore the attitudes of consumers and professionals towards providing this type of information, and their beliefs about potential effects.

For more information, please access the full review at, or contact the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Review Group.

New protocol:

Consumer-delivered training in intimate examination skills for healthcare students and professionals

Duffy JMN, Mylan S, Braddy A, Eyo MM, Rolph R, Showell MG, Cushing AM, Khan K. Consumer-delivered training in intimate examination skills for healthcare students and professionals (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD011524. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011524.