Professor Tammy Hoffmann awarded prestigious Fellowship

August 28, 2018

Bond University clinical epidemiologist Professor Tammy Hoffmann has been awarded a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellowship.

The Fellowships are awarded to Australia's leading health and medical researchers and will support Professor Hoffmann in her continued work at the Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice (CREBP).

Professor Hoffmann leads the Evidence-Informed Health Decisions research theme within CREBP and is researching the use of shared decision making to improve the appropriateness of healthcare for patients and the health system.

She is one of the youngest researchers to have received the Fellowship and the first from Bond University, Australia’s first private, not-for-profit university located on the Gold Coast.

“Billions of dollars are spent on health research every year in Australia and around the world,” said Professor Hoffmann.

“While most of it goes towards understanding diseases and developing test and treatments, very little attention is paid to ensuring that the most effective and appropriate treatments actually make their way into patient care.

“If we don’t do this, then we’re not maximising the value of health research.

“My research is about helping health professionals keep up-to-date with the evidence for the care they provide and being able to discuss the options, and the benefits and harms of each option, with their patients.

“This empowers patients to make informed health decisions in a process known as ‘shared decision making’.”

Professor Hoffmann said there were several threats to making informed health decisions.

“These include things like inaccurate information on the internet, to marketing by health organisations and professionals who have vested interests in pushing certain treatments, to lack of awareness of the benefits and harms of treatments," she said.   

“Australia doesn’t have a coordinated approach to encouraging shared decision making like some countries have recently adopted. This is really hampering its uptake here.

“Shared decision making is a core component of a patient-centred sustainable healthcare system. It encourages better communication between clinicians and patients, and consideration of what matters to patients when decisions are being made. It’s also one of the important strategies for reducing the use of unnecessary treatments that do more harm than good, and increasing the uptake of treatments that are effective.

"The more that this becomes ‘the way that health decisions are made’, the better it will be for patients, clinicians, and the health system."

Bond University Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) Professor Keitha Dunstan said the Research Fellowship was just the latest achievement of many for Professor Hoffmann.

"Professor Hoffmann has already established an international reputation as a leading researcher in evidence translation and shared decision making, and the Research Fellowship is a fantastic opportunity for her to continue building on her strong body of work," she said.

Bond University's CREBP was also recently awarded $2.49 million from the NHMRC for an Australia-first project aimed at curbing the global epidemic of antibiotic resistance by focussing on antibiotic use in primary care. This five-year grant was one of just 16 allocated nationwide this year. Click here to read more.