Being Specific June 2019

Chair report

From where I sit – Dr Lara Roeske, Chair RACGP Specific Interests

At last month’s RACGP Specific Interests Council meeting, a few of my fellow Councillors recorded a short video about their specific interests to use to raise our profile among current and future RACGP members. I am very happy to offer you a short, sneak preview.

The Council members discussed membership communication and engagement. Being a national faculty, with the breadth of expertise and experience our members bring from Darwin to Hobart, communication can be often be difficult. One of the ways we can securely communicate is through shareGP.

I know many of you were early adopters of shareGP and are active on the platform, but I encourage more of you to get involved. A number of our subject matter areas have their own groups and spaces to which you can contribute or you can simply follow RACGP Specific Interests and keep updated on our activities. There are other ways we stay connected, through our newsletters and meetings, but shareGP is an excellent and much under-utilised tool and it is well worth a visit (or revisit).

This July and August, RACGP Sports and Exercise Medicine will be holding a series of information events in every state capital with parkrun Australia. There is more information about parkrun and social prescribing in this newsletter, in which we focus on sport and exercise medicine, we meet the Chair, Dr Gill Cowen, and look at some recent research and news on exercise and cancer.

Earlier this month, we held our joint conference with the Australian Society for Psychological Medicine (ASPM) and I would like to thank all our members who assisted in the organisation and presentation of this conference. Eighty delegates enjoyed two days of presentations and workshops on trauma-informed care in general practice.

Finally, I must remind you that June is RACGP membership renewal month. I encourage you to renew before the end of month to receive a discount on your membership.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the newsletter.

RACGP Specific Interests news

Sport and exercise medicine in focus

Meet the Chair, Dr Gill Cowen

Dr Gill Cowen trained in the United Kingdom (UK), first at Merton College, Oxford University, then Royal Free and University College Medical School, University College, London.

She first fell in love with Australia when she was undertaking her elective at Westmead Children’s Hospital, Sydney, and then at the Fremantle Hospital emergency department and moved to Australia in 2004.

Following completion of her Australian Medical Council examinations, she moved into private general practice and started working as a club doctor in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL).

After gaining her RACGP Fellowship, she split her time between a general practice and a sports medicine practice in the South West region of Western Australia, where she was also the team doctor for WAFL side, Peel Thunder.

Dr Cowen returned to Perth in 2017 and is now a senior lecturer at Curtin Medical School and a sports doctor at SportsMed Murdoch. She is also the Western Australian Football Commission State team doctor for the under 18s and under 16s, and also surgical assistant.

Her considerable career in sports medicine has included being the course doctor for the Etchells’ World Sailing Championships, a match day doctor for Cricket Australia and sports doctor at the Commonwealth Games 2018.

She chairs a multidisciplinary concussion special interest group, teaches early management of severe trauma (EMST) for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and regularly gives presentations on behalf of the RACGP.

A truly footy family, her two sons play Auskick and her husband plays AFL Masters. Dr Cowen plays hockey and is a regular gym attendee.


parkrun and social prescribing

Wondai-Kentico.jpgparkrun Australia supports more than 350 communities around the country to deliver free community events in areas of open space every Saturday morning. 

Each parkrun is a volunteer-led, five-kilometre event that aims to empower everyone in a community to get involved, whether you walk, run, help out or simply be a spectator and socialise in the fresh air. More than 530,000 people in Australia participate.

The events finish at a cafe or meeting place. Everyone is encouraged to stay for a drink and a chat. These non-competitive events reward regular participation, not performance, and are ideal for fostering social connections.

The wide-reaching benefits of parkrun led to the development of a social prescribing initiative with the Royal College of General Practitioners in the UK. This provides general practices with the ability to link with their local parkrun to facilitate patient referrals to parkrun and foster strong links between GPs and the community. In the first year of the program, more than 1,000 ‘parkrun practices’ have been created.

parkrun Australia is exploring the development of a similar program here and is asking Australian GPs to complete its online survey to better understand what Australian-based primary healthcare professionals are doing to refer or signpost people to parkrun.


parkrun Australia-wide networking events


RACGP Specific Interests Sport and Exercise Medicine, in conjunction with parkrun, is holding a series of information and networking events across Australia.

Each event will include a presentation from a parkrun representative and a GP (or GPs) who advocate its use.

All events will be held at 6.30–8.30 pm in the following RACGP offices:

Location  Date  
Brisbane Wednesday 31 July 2019  Register now
Sydney Monday 5 August 2019  Register now
Adelaide Wednesday 7 August 2019  Register now
Melbourne Wednesday 7 August 2019  Register now
Perth Monday 12 August 2019  Register now
Hobart Thursday 15 August 2019  Register now


*Back pain – The case for whole of community education


Prof G Lorimer Moseley, Chair in Physiotherapy and Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of South Australia, recently published an editorial opinion in the British Journal of Sports Medicine about the importance of education of patients, health professionals and the public on back pain.

Whole of community pain education for back pain. Why does first-line care get almost no attention and what exactly are we waiting for?’ is reproduced in part here:

We have known for decades not to ‘take back pain lying down,’ that the vast majority of back pain episodes do not require surgery or long-term powerful analgesics, and that most will resolve over time if we do not mess them up. So how is it that we are still in this mire of spiralling costs and widespread disability? When are we going to stop taking the very solid science and sensible calls to action just to see it mashed into an accusatory swing at doctors to clean up their act or sufferers to ‘get over it, change their mindset and exercise’?

Back pain is not a simple problem. Many forces at play propagate its widespread mismanagement. The massive elephant in the room – that entire professions appear to depend on the problem remaining unsolved – will be hard to tackle. In the meantime, the glaringly obvious cornerstone of best practice care that somehow keeps flying under the radar is education.

Education is universally recommended as first-line treatment for acute and persistent back pain, but it attracts little attention. Is this because health professionals intuitively know what education is and how to do it? Our research suggests not – most doctors (although there are precious exceptions) do not know what it is, do not know how to do it, do not have the content knowledge and, even if they did, do not have the time. Yet, without education, the rest of best practice care – advice to remain active, to exercise or to seek psychological therapy – makes absolutely no sense. To the person with back pain, best practice care without education looks very much like, ‘we don’t believe you; there is nothing we can do; snap out of it, get back to work and see a shrink.’ It is insulting, illegitimatising and infuriating.

Here is the case for pain education. Contemporary pain education is potentially more powerful for persistent pain than drugs, and as powerful as anything else we can offer. Education is a missing link that would actually make advice to be active, to exercise and to consider psychological therapy a sensible strategy for back pain. Research shows that when someone with persisting pain begins to understand their pain, they actually engage in active, psychologically informed strategies and can have drastic reductions in pain and disability over the next 12 months; for these people, recovery is back on the table.

Moseley GL. Whole of community pain education for back pain. Why does first-line care get almost no attention and what exactly are we waiting for? Br J Sports Med. 2019;53(10):588–589. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-099567. (Reproduced under license)


*Sport and exercise medicine in the news


Exercise and cancer

Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) updated its position statement, Exercise medicine in cancer management. The new recommendations replace the decade-old treatment recommendation for people with cancer to take a ‘slowly, slowly’ approach to exercise with a new guideline recommending personalised exercise programs to achieve the best treatment outcome.
(Queensland University of Technology. New exercise guidelines for people with cancer. 23 May 2019)

A study by researchers from John Hopkins School of Medicine, Cardiorespiratory fitness and incident lung and colorectal cancer in men and women: Results from the Henry Ford Exercise Testing (FIT) cohort, concludes that the fittest adults had the lowest risk of lung and colorectal cancer. Their analysis also linked higher fitness before diagnosis to better survival among people who did develop lung or colorectal cancer.
(Paddock C. Physical fitness might protect against lung and bowel cancers. Medical News Today, 8 May 2019)

The CSIRO recently published findings based on Bettering the Care and Evaluation of Health (BEACH) data describing the frequency of physical activity management (counselling or referrals) by GPs for prostate cancer survivors. It concludes that Australian GPs rarely incorporate physical activity management as part of their management of prostate cancer. Strategies are needed to increase the frequency with which GPs recommend physical activity for prostate cancer survivors.
(Barnes K, Ball L, Galvão DA, Newton RU, Chambers SK, Harrison C. Physical activity counselling and referrals by general practitioners for prostate cancer survivors in Australia. Aust J Prim Health 2019;25(2):152–156. doi:10.1071/PY18131)


IOC World Conference on Prevention and Injury & Illness in Sport – Call for abstracts and workshops


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) World Conference on Prevention and Injury & Illness in Sport will be held in Monaco from Thursday to Saturday 12–14 March 2020.

The scientific committee of this multidisciplinary conference is seeking abstracts for poster sessions and free communications on all fields of prevention research. This includes studies on:

• epidemiology ​
 • risk factors ​
 • injury mechanisms ​
 • pathophysiology ​
 • intervention studies​
 • relevant biomechanical studies ​
 • studies on sports behaviour and attitudes
​ • related research from other fields.

Abstracts must be submitted by Sunday 15 September 2019 through the abstract submission portal.

Proposals for interactive discussions or demonstrations can also be submitted. These should be on a topic or issue in sports injury/illness prevention and can be related to practical injury prevention programs, skills or relevant methodological issues.

Proposals must be submitted by Sunday 15 September 2019 through the workshop submission portal.

Trauma-informed care in general practice

Event in review

Almost 80 delegates attended the RACGP and Australian Society for Psychological Medicine (ASPM) Joint Conference: Trauma Informed Care in General Practice on 1–2 June in Melbourne. 

The program included a range of plenary sessions and interactive workshops on a variety of topics, including family and couple therapy in the context of trauma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of trauma recovery and trauma and substance use.  

The event provided delegates an opportunity to network and connect with like-minded colleagues and peers. There was an on-site bookseller for the duration of the conference offering discounts to conference delegates, as well as a visual arts experience in which attendees could participate.

On Saturday evening, Indigenous Hip Hop Projects group presented their work and finished the day energetically with their interactive dance session.

Business of General Practice Victorian networking event

6.30–8.30 pm AEST, Tuesday 9 July 2019

RACGP Specific Interests Business of General Practice will be holding its second Victorian networking event at RACGP House in East Melbourne.

It is an ideal opportunity for GPs who are practice owners, those who are considering future practice ownership or those with an interest in the business side of general practice to meet, mingle and learn.

As well as a networking opportunity, the event will include presentations on growing a practice and the revised 'General practice management toolkit'.

Register now.

RACGP Specific Interests on shareGP

shareGP is the RACGP’s secure collaborative space where members can share interests, content, research and opinions.

There are a number of ways you can stay updated with RACGP Specific Interests through shareGP.

You can ‘follow’ RACGP Specific Interests.

The following RACGP Specific Interests groups have closed shareGP groups:

These links will take you to a ‘request to join’ page, and your request will be approved by an administrator within 48 hours.

The following RACGP Specific Interests group run open groups and spaces, where you can contribute at any time without ‘requesting to join’, although you are encouraged to ‘follow’ these groups and spaces:

National news

Membership renewals

Save when you renew by 30 June

Receive a pay-on-time membership discount when you renew your RACGP membership by Sunday 30 June 2019.

As an RACGP member, you belong to Australia’s largest general practice community of more than 40,000 members. Renew now to enjoy the member benefits, have access to a number of collaborative spaces and participate in educational activities.
Discover your member benefits or renew now.

GP19 helps you prepare for the patient of the future

Futurist and social researcher, Mark McCrindle, will share with GP19 delegates a detailed overview of the patient of future.

In this session, Mark will paint a picture that will include (along with many other details): who they are, why they’ll visit their GP, how they’ll find you and how they’ll want to interact with you. This session will help prepare you for the patient of the future.

Find out more about Mark McCrindle.
View the GP19 program.
Register now.

External news

*AAAH Youth Health Conference – Call for abstracts

Wednesday to Friday 27–29 November 2019

The Australian Association for Adolescent Health (AAAH) annual Youth Health Conference will be held this year in Melbourne.

The organising committee is seeking abstracts for poster, short oral (15-minute) and mini-workshop (90-minute) presentations on the conference theme of ‘Owning future change’

Topics covered can be related to, but are not limited by, one or more conference themes:

  • mental health and resilience
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • transition in health care
  • chronic illness
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth health
  • leadership and youth participation.

Submit your abstract by Sunday 28 July 2019.

*Do you see patients for problematic alcohol use and comorbid depression?

Researchers at the University of Sydney are surveying clinicians who manage and/or treat people with problematic alcohol use and comorbid depression to gain clinical insights into their patients’ treatment decision-making needs and to inform innovative decision-support tools.

This is the first study to survey Australian health professionals on their views of the treatment information and decision-support needs of patients/clients with problematic alcohol use and co-occurring depression. These are highly common and disabling conditions and GPs often represent the first ‘port-of-call’ in this context.

It is hoped that findings from this assessment survey will help guide the development of world-first, evidence-based, decision-support tools, to assist these patients/clients and their GPs, to partner together and make informed treatment choices.

More information and take the survey.

*The prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicinal cannabis

Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are conducting a survey of health professionals in Australia exploring the behavioural variables that influence the prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicinal cannabis.

The results of this study will further the understanding of the difficulties faced by GPs and other health professionals in the provision of medicinal cannabis. This will support them in the future when prescribing, dispensing or administering medicinal cannabis products.

For more information, email the lead researcher, Kyle Gardiner.

Take the survey.

Disclaimer: *Inclusion does not imply RACGP endorsement.

The RACGP does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may result from reliance on, or the use of, any information contained in this newsletter.