Newsletter #3: October 2020

✿ Spring Edition ✿
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 Newsletter Overview 
  • General Updates
  • Project Updates
    • Nurse Consultants 
    • PhD Students
    • Personify Care & REDCap 
  • Site Governance
    • Updated Governance Approvals
  • Staff Updates
    • Farewell to Carla
    • Welcoming TJ and Bianka
    Committee Meeting Dates
  • Project Contact Details
  • The PersonifyCare and REDCAP platforms are under development
  • We are aiming to onboard our first pilot site (Monash Health) in October. The remaining sites are anticipated to start recruitment in January.
  • The Clinical Pathways have now been finalised.
  • The primary outcomes have been finalised. We are still in the process of finalising our secondary outcomes and statistical analysis plan.
  • Our website is currently in progress - we look forward to sharing this with you once it has been finalised! 
Click for Monash Health COVID-19 Clinical Trial Guidelines

Nurse Consultants Update: Lisa and Tina

Clinical Working Group Update

In consultation with a ‘clinical champion’, the PROpatient Nurse Consultants drafted 21 evidence-based Clinical Management Pathways (CMP) using a standardised model. These pathways will be used to guide nursing assessments and triaging of participants reporting severe or worsening disease-specific symptoms in the intervention arm of the trial.

Following this, we convened a Clinical Working Group (CWG) and included representatives of relevant specialities with established expertise and clinical experience from across the ten participating health services in Victoria. Nine meetings were held over a five week period with excellent engagement from many clinicians who gave up their time to review and provide useful discussion relating to the content and process for each pathway. 

Each clinical pathway now includes an informed tailored clinical assessment of the symptom based on the NOPQRSTUV Symptom Assessment Acronym, triage of the symptom using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (Version 5.0) and interventions for appropriate follow-up care.

Suggested recommendation for changes and consensus was reached resulting in 19 CMP’s addressing 64 disease-specific symptoms. Our next steps will include revisiting each individual health service to ensure inclusion of site-specific referral pathways and follow-up care for their patients participating in the trial.


In addition to the development of the CMP’s, a clinician’s report template was drafted using the ISBAR system of reporting, with Input and feedback sought out from clinical key stakeholders. This report will now be used in real-time to provide clinical communication about the nursing assessment and recommendations for follow up care, to designated members of the patient’s treating team including: surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, palliative care specialists, GP’s, nurses and allied health professionals.

Please note: Reports generated by the PROpatient nurses are for the clinicians' records only. Clinicians are not required to act upon this information.

Finally, given the enormous clinical and practice challenges that the current health crisis has placed upon many of you, the PROpatient team is extremely grateful for the time and expertise provided by the Clinical Champions and the broader members of the CWG and would like to express our heartfelt thanks for your collaboration and contribution to this project.

Clinical Champions

  • Alfred Health: A/Prof Andrew Hayden
  • Austin Health: Dr Geoff Chong 
  • Ballarat Health Service: Dr Stephen Brown & Dr Simone Reeves
  • Eastern Health: A/Prof Rachel Wong 
  • Monash Health: Dr Kate Webber, Ms Alanna Bowen, Ms Kate Furness & Ms Vicki McLeod 
  • Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre: Dr Maria Ftanou
  • St Vincent's Hospital: Prof Jennifer Phillip & Dr Tamsin Bryan

Accepted conference presentation:
2020 COSA Annual Scientific Meeting: Development of evidence-based clinical pathways for symptom management in patients with upper gastrointenstinal cancer: A multidisciplinary approach, Oral Presentation.

PhD Student Updates: Nadia and Tennille

Nadia Khan
The Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Data Linkage Project aims to map the patterns of supportive care utilisation in pancreatic and oesophagogastric cancers across Victoria. A range of administrative and registry-based datasets will be linked by the Centre for Victorian Data Linkage. Ethics approval has been obtained and phase 1 of the linked data is anticipated to be available for analysis in October 2020. This work will be supplemented with patient and caregiver interviews (currently ongoing). 

Accepted conference presentation:
International Population Data Linkage Network, 2020: Challenges in Data Linkage - Experiences from an Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Data Linkage Study, Oral Presentation.

Tennille Lewin
Tennille's thesis aims to to show that a centralised model of care coordination is acceptable to patients and health professionals, and is both sustainable and effective in improving outcomes for people diagnosed with UGI cancers. 

The development of the short-item symptom monitoring tool is nearing completion. A survey was sent out to members of the Upper-Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry (UGICR) to gauge consumer perspectives on how we might provide a short-item tool as an alternative to the long-item tool. The responses provided will be analysed to create our final tool for the PROpatient interventional arm. Whilst previously there was only the option for participants to complete a long-item symptom monitoring tool, we will now have a short-item tool available - hopefully a much-appreciated choice for participants who may not have been able to complete the former.

Personify Care and REDCap Updates

Personify Care

Personify Care is a telehealth platform that aims to provide an effective way for patients to access clinical best practice. The PROpatient team intends to use the Personify Care platform to coordinate communication with trial patients, as well as provide a contact point for patients to interface with the trial. 

The Personify Care platform is currently ready for use once the trial formally commences.

REDCap is an electronic data system that is used to build and manage online surveys and databases. The PROpatient REDCap database will form the basis of data collection and record-keeping for interactions between our nurse consultants and our participants.

The PROpatient REDCap database is in development, and in the process of being reviewed prior to trial commencement.

Governance Approvals 

The PROpatient team has been working on obtaining governance approval with your health service's specific research office in order to run the PROpatient Trial at your health service. 

Please see below an update of governance approvals at all PROpatient sites:

Monash Health - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
Jessie McPherson - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
Alfred Health - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
Cabrini Health - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
Eastern Health - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
The Royal Melbourne Hospital - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
St Vincent's Hospital - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
Ballarat Health - Governance approved, ready to commence. 
Austin HealthSubmitted & currently under review.
Peninsula Health - Not yet submitted & to be submitted in coming months. 
Western Health - Not yet submitted & to be submitted in coming months. 

Many thanks to the site PI's and AI's for assisting with providing documentation, signatures and for responding promptly to emails to facilitate our governance process. 
Click for the List of Site PI's & AI's

Farewell to our Research Assistant: Carla

Our research assistant, Carla Edgley, has left our team (and Australia!) to study medicine overseas. Though we will miss Carla and the enthusiasm she brought to her role, we are excited to see where this opportunity takes her and wish her all the best with her future endeavours.

Welcome to our new PROpatient Staff: TJ & Bianka

We warmly welcome TJ Muhlen-Schulte and Bianka D’souza to our PROpatient team.
Get to know a bit more about them and their roles below!


What is your current role within the PROpatient team?

TMS: I have joined the PROpatient team as project manager, and will be working to bring all the moving parts of PROpatient together.

BD: I am the new research assistant (RA) for the team! My role will involve governance application submissions, communication between the team and researchers, as well as our social media presence (newsletter, twitter, etc.).


What interested you in this work opportunity?

TMS: I have worked in the registry space for several years. I saw this role as an opportunity to contribute my experience, and further build upon my skills in the emerging field of registry-based trials.

BD: I have always had a passion for quality of life. I have experience as a HREC Community Advisor and also in healthcare administration, and hope to bring what I have learned in these roles to my RA position!


Tell us an interesting fact about you!

TMS: Before stumbling into the research and academic world, I worked as a Paramedic!

BD: I did taekwondo for 3 years before transitioning into strength sports (powerlifting and weightlifting).

Project Team:  
Coordinating PI - Prof John Zalcberg 
Co-Coordinating PI - Dr Liane Ioannou
Project Manager - TJ Muhlen-Schulte
Nurse Consultant - Lisa Brady
Nurse Consultant - Tina Griffiths
Research Assistant - Bianka D'souza
PhD Candidate - Tennille Lewin
PhD Candidate - Nadia Khan
How to reach us: 
P: 1800 975 255

PROpatient Research Output
Click for PROpatient Steering Committee
Click for PROpatient Advisory Working Group
Help share the news about PROpatient!

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You can find previous PROpatient newsletters here (scroll to bottom of webpage). 
You can find previous Upper GI Cancer Registry newsletters here (scroll to bottom of webpage). 
The PROpatient Trial would like to thank the Victorian Cancer Agency, the Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry, the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine units including the Registry Sciences Unit, the Victorian Cancer Registry and participating health services, who have provided support to the trial.
Copyright © 2019 PROpatient - a registry based randomised control trial associated with the Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry, All rights reserved.
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Our mailing address is:
PROpatient Trial - Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry 
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine 
Monash University
Level 2, 553 St Kilda Road
Melbourne, Victoria 3004

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