Improving emergency care for children through research and national and international collaboration.

Children visit Emergency Departments for acute medical care on average once every year per child for the duration of their childhood. This represents a large interaction with our health system.

Emergency Department presentations are often critical, with the risk of death or substantial disability if children are not appropriately managed. Providing evidence-based care for emergency management is therefore essential. Our research focuses on areas where there is a lack of evidence, incomplete translation of existing evidence to practice, and limited policy development and dissemination:

  • high-volume conditions that are of daily importance, including head and cervical spine injuries and medical conditions like bronchiolitis
  • infrequent but life-threatening conditions in which optimum care is yet to be established, such as convulsive status epilepticus and severe asthma
  • defining the most suitable methodology for disseminating and implementing practice change in both tertiary and non-tertiary EDs in Australia and New Zealand

We conducted single-site projects at The Royal Children's Hospital Emergency Department, which provides urgent medical care to children and adolescents.

The department treats 90,000 children annually and is a paediatric tertiary referral and trauma centre. Most of our multicentre projects are conducted through the Paediatric Research in Emergency Departments International Collaborative (PREDICT) emergency research network.

The research group is also part of Pediatric Emergency Research Networks (PERN), which combines the efforts of research networks on several continents to investigate global acute care questions.

Information for clinicians and researchers wanting to conduct research within our group

We've had research fellows and visiting researchers from many countries, either as trainee clinicians in paediatric emergency medicine who completed research projects alongside their clinical training at the emergency department of the Royal Children’s Hospital or by spending time on campus specifically to conduct emergency-related research projects.

Visiting researchers or research fellows have come from many countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Thailand, Switzerland, the United States, Costa Rica, Germany, and Singapore.

Short research education courses (ethics, biostatistics, epidemiology, health economics) are available through the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit (CEBU), the Clinical Research Development Office (CRDO), and other departments of Murdoch Children's Research Institute and the University of Melbourne. Some participants have completed research higher degrees while enrolled at the University of Melbourne or their home universities.

The main pathways to research exposure on campus

Clinical appointment as a junior trainee at the Emergency Department (ED) of the Royal Children’s Hospital

In this scenario, the major experience is clinical and research is a small part of the training experience. The clinical work as a full-time trainee is reasonably intense and can be difficult to conduct meaningful research. Trainees are exposed to and encouraged to take part in research projects conducted in the emergency department. Clinical appointments can also be part-time when it is possible to have increased exposure to research and research education.

Overseas fellows come self-funded (or funded by their home institution) or they apply for a paid hospital appointment via the emergency department of the The Royal Children’s Hospital

Research appointment at Murdoch Children's Research Institute

This requires an appointment for at least six months and a well-developed plan for a project to complete. For shorter research appointments the visits need to be planned well ahead of time to ensure protocols and ethics applications are prepared and submitted before arrival.

Higher degree appointment with the University of Melbourne

The focus is on the completion of a PhD or MD degree (called DMedSc - Doctor of Medical Science at the University of Melbourne) or a Masters degree (MPhil). This takes three, two, and one-year full-time equivalent respectively (or double part-time). On average we have about five PhD/MD students in the department. For non-resident students, higher degrees in Australia can be expensive.

PREDICT Algorithm: Imaging & observation decision-making for children with head injuries

PREDICT incorporates the core imaging and observation guideline recommendations for use by clinicians assessing a child with head injury in an acute care setting. This video provides an introduction to the algorithm and how it can be used during clinician decision-making.

 More information

Contact us

For further information, prospective overseas clinicians and researchers wanting to conduct research within our group please contact: 

Marian Chandler, Administrative Assistant