Funding to pump new research into the Hunter


More than 900 people across the Hunter experience their first heart attack each year. 

This alarming statistic places the Hunter New England region within the state’s highest cardiovascular disease mortality band.

In a bid to reduce this, researchers from the University of Newcastle (UoN), Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and Hunter New England Health have been awarded a grant worth more than $1 million from the Medical Research Future Fund.

The three-year project, led by UoN researcher, Professor Clare Collins, will explore the cost-effectiveness of Medical Nutrition Therapy delivery in rural and regional primary healthcare.

Professor Collins said the project would improve the way people accessed dietitians.

“If you live in the regional and rural areas of Hunter New England, then you are 20% to 30% more likely to have heart disease,” she said.

“We know that if we could support people at higher risk of heart disease then their risk would drop. 

heart attack
University of Newcastle researcher Clare Collins.

“But, if you live in these areas, the dietitian workforce is 25% smaller per head of population compared to cities.”

Medical Nutrition Therapy is provided by accredited practising dietitians and is used to treat specific chronic conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, through individually-tailored nutrition support and counselling.

The results of the study will contribute to lowering diet-related heart disease risk in the community and help GPs to support their patients to improve nutrition-related health and help identify people who need additional measures such as medication.

Results will also inform policy and practice related to nutrition and heart disease across Australia.

The project will be done in partnership with the primary health network and UoN’s Department of Rural Health.

HMRI Institute Director Professor Tom Walley highlighted the importance of this preventative health research. 

“Improving health outcomes for complex and chronic diseases, particularly for people in rural and regional areas, is an urgent priority,” he said.

“With this funding, the team will now be able to work to deliver support directly to those who need it, through telehealth and novel technologies.”

For more stories like this: