2010 grant recipient
Andrew Briggs is a WA-trained physiotherapist whose career has included senior roles in clinical practice, research and health policy. He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in the area of osteoporosis. Since 2007, Andrew has held a part time position at Curtin University, Western Australia, currently appointed as Associate Professor. His team’s research is focussed on evaluation and implementation of health policy for musculoskeletal health, and examining and closing evidence-practice gaps in musculoskeletal healthcare with a focus on persistent pain, inflammatory arthritis, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Andrew holds an honorary appointment in the Department of Medicine, University of Melbourne, where he contributes to a range of research projects in osteoporosis and persistent pain. He is a member of the Victorian WorkSafe Clinical Panel and the Minister-appointed Victorian Musculoskeletal Clinical Leadership Group. To add to his achievements, Andrew also works as a clinician in the area of arthritis and osteoporosis and is Senior Advisor to Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria.
Research areas and findings
Andrew’s PRF funded project was one of a suite of policy-into-practice initiatives undertaken by his multidisciplinary group. The project aimed to examine workforce barriers and enablers to implementation of the WA Model of Care for Inflammatory Arthritis. The team identified that the knowledge and clinical skills base of community physiotherapists was likely to be a barrier to the successful and sustainable implementation of the Model. The research project included a critical appraisal of clinical guidelines for the best practice physiotherapy management of rheumatoid arthritis, an international Delphi study to translate evidence into practice-relevant knowledge and skills, and an audit of the physiotherapy workforce capabilities in the area.
Achievements with grant money
Andrew and his team’s findings pointed to a high need for professional development in the area of rheumatoid arthritis. They subsequently developed an online, interactive learning tool, Rheumatoid Arthritis for Physiotherapists – eLearning (RAP-eL) and tested its effectiveness in a randomised controlled trial. That trial demonstrated the resource to be well accepted by clinicians and an effective tool in building confidence in disease-specific knowledge and evidence-based practice. In 2014, RAP-eL had users in 102 nations and was publicly endorsed by the APA, Australian Rheumatology Association and Rheumatology Health Professionals Association. All the components of this program of work have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Andrew and his team are now examining the effectiveness of embedding RAP-eL into the undergraduate physiotherapy curriculum.
Research impact on physiotherapy
In 2015 Andrew’s team was fortunate to receive grant funding again from the PRF in partnership with the Western Australian and New South Wales State Governments to extend their work in models of care for musculoskeletal health and develop a nationally-applicable evaluation framework to assess ‘readiness’ and ‘success’ of these models. Like RAP-eL, this project will also have direct relevance to, and impact on, physiotherapy practice.
Important areas for development in physiotherapy
Andrew believes it is important that physiotherapy research continues to examine implementation of policy and evidence into practice, particularly as it relates to models of interdisciplinary care relevant to physiotherapy practice.
- Briggs AM, Fary RE, Slater H, et al. Disease-specific knowledge and clinical skills required by community-based physiotherapists to co-manage patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care Res 2012;64:1514-26
- Briggs AM, Fary RE, Slater H, Ranelli S, Chan M. Physiotherapy co-management of rheumatoid arthritis: identification of red flags, significance to clinical practice and management pathways. Man Ther 2013;18:583-7.
- Fary RE, Slater H, Chua J, Briggs AM. Translating policy into practice for community-based management of rheumatoid arthritis: Targeting professional development needs among physiotherapists. Int J Rheum 2012;240689:doi:10.1155/2012/240689.
- Fary RE, Slater H, Chua J, Ranelli S, Chan M, Briggs AM. Policy-into-practice for rheumatoid arthritis: Randomized controlled trial and cohort study of e-learning targeting improved physiotherapy management. Arthritis Care Res 2015.
- Slater H, Briggs AM, Fary RE, Chan M. Upper cervical instability associated with rheumatoid arthritis: what to 'know' and what to 'do'. Man Ther 2013;18:615-9.