The recent Australian bushfires of 2019/2020, closely followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, have brought crisis care capabilities for people living with MS to the forefront. Currently there is scarce research exploring the impact of natural disasters and pandemics in the MS population. More generally, research has shown that individuals living with disability may be up to four times more likely to sustain injuries or death in disaster circumstances compared to the general population. This is mainly due to impairments in areas such as mobility, cognition and communication. At present there are no formal recommendations in place to guide management of people living with MS in times of crisis.
Dr Learmonth and her team will explore both the prevalence and the impact of the recent bushfires and pandemic on the healthcare of people living with MS in Australia, by performing interviews and surveys to more deeply understand the experiences and responses of people affected. Analysis of this information will provide the foundations for developing a toolkit to be used for healthcare-based disaster management for people with MS in the future. As well as assisting people with MS, it is anticipated that this toolkit will also be useful for people living with disability from other conditions, and can be refined to their specific needs, thus broadening the impact of this research across the wider community.
To date, the study researchers have attained ethics committee approvals, study staff have been appointed, a literature review has been completed, stakeholder meetings have taken place and the qualitative component of the study has commenced. Currently a total of 35 interviews have taken place with people with MS, carers, healthcare providers and advocates. The findings from this component of the study will form the basis of a second stakeholder meeting to inform the longitudinal survey design, which is the next goal of the study. It is anticipated that development of the theoretical template will be the next outcome of the work towards developing the toolkit for healthcare during disaster management. It is also expected that late 2022/early 2023 will see two articles submitted for publication, outlining the literature review and the qualitative component of the study.
Updated: 31 March 2022
Updated: 19 January, 2021
Laboratory research that investigates scientific theories behind the possible causes, disease progression, ways to diagnose and better treat MS.
Research that builds on fundamental scientific research to develop new therapies, medical procedures or diagnostics and advances it closer to the clinic.
Clinical research is the culmination of fundamental and translational research turning those research discoveries into treatments and interventions for people with MS.