It is often assumed that the vast majority of clinical decision-making is supported by high quality evidence derived from clinical trials. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Many clinical decisions in medicine are still based on either low-quality evidence or no relevant evidence at all.
Some of the best publicly funded clinical research conducted in Australia has found that when comparing therapies that were in widespread use, the treatments being tested were either ineffective, as effective but more expensive, or sometimes even harmful.
Investigator -initiated or “public-good” clinical trials are of critical importance to patients who receive care within the health system, and to the functioning of the health system itself, because they address these important gaps in our knowledge.
Clinical trials networks, led by senior clinicians working within the Australian health system, are particularly effective at conducting high-impact, public-good clinical trials.
These networks bring together hundreds of doctors, nurses, allied health and research professionals working in acute or primary care settings to design and conduct trials that provide definitive evidence about which treatments work, which don’t and which are most cost-effective in the real-world context of clinical practice.
The long-term collaborations that networks establish help to build world-class expertise in the design and conduct of trials, create research efficiencies and ensure that the benefits of clinical research are distributed widely across the health system.
Australia has a number of established collaborative clinical trials networks that have made major advances in improving health outcomes and reducing costs for the health system. Despite their success, most networks struggle to sustain central infrastructure and this limits their capacity to investigate vitally important questions about clinical care.
Until now, there has been no single, coordinated mechanism to connect clinical researchers with Governments, health care policymakers and consumers on issues that impact the conduct of public-good clinical trials across the Australian health system. ACTA will do this.