Primary care is the first level of healthcare provided by GPs, nurses, allied health, midwives, pharmacists, dentists and Aboriginal health workers. It provides the gateway by which patients access the innovative treatments and medications made possible by medical research. More than 85% of Australians access primary healthcare at least once a year. 

Our research into the primary care sector informs us about the effective use of the $55 billion of annual health expenditure on primary healthcare in Australia. We also examine the efficiency and equity of the health system as whole.

Nurse with patient

Centre for Primary Health Care & Equity

The Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity in the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine aims to promote better, fairer health care in the community through research and translation into health service delivery.

Through the Centre we research prevention and management of chronic conditions and primary healthcare integration and development. Health equity, health in the environment and primary care informatics are major areas of focus.

We draw heavily on public health and health services research methods. Our descriptive research uses large linked administrative health data sets to conduct complex community-based trials. We use mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods to evaluate the translation and implementation of research evidence into practice.

Stethoscope and paperwork

Working Towards Elimination of Hepatitis C in the Community

Primary health has a key role in the prevention of infectious disease through immunisation, early management and helping the community to take preventive action. UNSW’s research is leading to a greater role for GPs.

The Kirby Institute has pioneered the management of hepatitis C in the community. This has enabled GPs to initiate and treat patients with hepatitis C antiviral therapy. GPs in Australia are now able to prescribe highly effective new treatments. This means Australia may be one of the first countries in the world to be able to eliminate this disease.

Our research into infectious disease management in primary care is conducted mainly through the School of Public Health and Community Medicine and in the Kirby Institute. We partner with primary healthcare services in the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services and Corrections Health.

Case Study: Stemming the Tide of Suicide in Australia

Suicide is the most common cause of death for young people in Australia. The Centre of Research Excellence in Suicide Prevention (CRESP) brings together leading experts to research more effective ways of intervening early to save lives.

Working together with the Black Dog Institute, CRESP is taking a systems approach to suicide prevention, drawing on the positive results of similar suicide prevention programs overseas.

We believe an integrated process that brings together a range of approaches could reduce the suicide rate by 20% in Australia. These approaches could include;

  • appropriate and continuing care after hospitalisation
  • better training for primary carers
  • better access to psychological services
  • better awareness.

Our research into suicide prevention includes trials into online self-help programs, the development of an app for people with suicidal thoughts and the testing of new and better delivery options for interventions.