Mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affect many Australians, often impacting on their health, quality of life and return to work. To maximise the support received by claimants with mental health conditions, compensation bodies rely on up-to-date research into mental health treatment approaches and strategies.
ISCRR provides the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and WorkSafe with concise summaries of research in this area through its Evidence Review program. ISCRR works closely with these compensation bodies to identify research that will be relevant and useful to them.
For example, after the Health and Disability Services Group (HDSG, a former joint initiative of WorkSafe and the TAC) noted an increase in the use of hypnosedatives for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and muscle spasm among their claimants, ISCRR reviewed information on the known benefits and harms of this drug group.
An additional review was subsequently commissioned, also investigating the treatment of anxiety, but this time focused more specifically on the recorded therapeutic effectiveness of benzodiazepine.
The HDSG also requested a review of evidence concerning the effectiveness of art therapy (a treatment recommended to individuals with PTSD, to help them work through the images and feelings they hold in connection to their trauma).
In 2013, WorkSafe and the TAC identified the need for a review of evidence related to Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (RTMS), a treatment for depression that involves placing an electromagnetic coil against the forehead near an area of the brain involved in mood regulation, and delivering small electric currents repeatedly.
In addition to therapeutic treatment, ISCRR, WorkSafe and the TAC also recognise the important role played by mental health practitioners and service providers. This priority inspired a review of evidence that compares the effectiveness of counsellors based on their qualifications, to identify whether these differences have any significant impact on patient outcomes following trauma.
Where to now?
These reviews are part of an ongoing process, by which ISCRR researchers keep WorkSafe and the TAC up to the date with the ever-evolving health and safety research landscape.
By keeping abreast with the research, the compensation bodies are able to implement evidence-based strategies and provide informed guidance and resources to healthcare providers. This ensures that Victorians receive the highest possible quality of care.
The following papers have been published:
- An evidence map of existing high-level studies on the benefits and harms of hypnosedatives for anxiety, insomnia and muscle spasm, identifying 32 systematic reviews and 7 evidence-based guidelines
- A review of 118 studies of benzodiazepines use for anxiety, which concludes that benzodiazepines deliver varied effectiveness, but there are possible harms associated with them
- A review of existing evidence on the effectiveness of the art therapy for PTSD that is unable to draw solid conclusions due to the lack of high-quality research in this area
- A review of 21 new studies into the effectiveness of rTMS for treating depression, which again finds insufficient evidence to determine whether rTMS was a better or worse treatment option than ECT
- A review of evidence comparing the effectiveness of counselling providers with different qualifications, that identifies one high-quality systematic review of five controlled trails, but concludes that this is not enough evidence to determine whether training affects patient care
Watch this space for updates, or visit the Evidence Review Hub for more information.