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Westmead Applied Research Centre

Clinical and digital health approaches to cardiometabolic and chronic conditions
The Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) celebrates a research approach that thinks and acts flexibly, aims to do more with less, embraces disruptive technology in health care, sees co-design and partnership as necessities for translation and impact, and consistently views its activities through the lens of value and equity.

Almost half of Australians have chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes and mental health conditions. One in four has at least two of these illnesses, and these conditions frequently share common causes.

In western Sydney these chronic illnesses are more prevalent and the region's diverse community presents a range of complex health needs and social circumstances.

WARC Year in Review publication

Download the WARC Year in Review: 2018-2020 (pdf, 3.2MB)

WARC was established by the University of Sydney in collaboration with the Western Sydney Local Health District, to specifically address the causes of chronic disease, with a focus on translational research that addresses the specific needs and circumstances of patients in western Sydney.

WARC is made up of multidisciplinary experts who aim to prevent chronic diseases and their progression by focusing on applied clinical research that will:

  • help patients self-manage their condition/s
  • provide education and support through digital health interventions.
WARC will improve patient and population health by supporting and empowering clinicians to cultivate complex research into practical and sustainable healthcare delivery.
Professor Clara Chow, Director

Latest news


Text Care logo

Digital Health

TextCare is a text message service and platform developed by the Westmead Applied Research Centre, University of Sydney. Our vision is to improve health outcomes by delivering customised support to participants with chronic disease. Our text messaging support programs designed by clinicians are personalised messages to deliver general health education, motivation and support to people living with chronic disease. 

Our text messaging support program is based on behaviour change theory. It uses computerised algorithms to create personal messages. These messages deliver the education, motivation and support to people living with chronic disease, unlike current models that are generally dependent on periodic face-to-face consultations. You can learn more about the service on our website https://textcare.com.au/my or contact us by email warc.textcare@sydney.edu.au.

Our research

Combining expertise in research and telecommunications technologies has resulted in what is now known as digital health interventions. By using these health interventions, the centre will cultivate research collaborations in order to develop new approaches to disease prevention and treatment.

To date, our research has demonstrated positive outcomes affecting behavioural and lifestyle changes by utilising digital therapeutics.

Director Professor Clara Chow believes the centre’s unique offering is its location within the Westmead Hospital precinct and its commitment to foster innovative research and ideas.

Our focus is on clinical translational research in the delivery of simple and effective health services to address the causes of chronic diseases affecting the population of western Sydney. Some research projects will be applied to a broader population and has the potential for global application.

WARC is committed to supporting innovative projects, excellence in research, leadership in digital health intervention and evaluation.

Explore the projects that are tackling some of the biggest issues affecting western Sydney:

Quadruple ultra-low-dose treatment for hypertension

High blood pressure is common and a major cause of heart disease and stroke. While many people with hypertension are on some treatment, in more than half blood pressure targets are not reached and their high blood pressure is uncontrolled.

In this research we investigate whether an approach that combines four types of blood pressure lowering medications at quarter doses into one pill, may be a more effective way of controlling blood pressure.

Investigators: Professor Clara Chow, Professor Anthony Rodgers, Professor Graham Hillis, Professor Markus Schlaich, Professor Tim Usherwood, Dr Ruth Webster Associate Professor Laurent Billot, Emeritus Professor John Chalmers, Dr Jay Thakkar, Henry Krum, Professor Anushka Patel, Professor Bruce Neal, Professor Mark Nelson, Professor Christopher Reid, Amie Cho and Dr Emily Atkins. Funded by the NHMRC.

Using the time patients spend in waiting rooms to educate them on cardiovascular disease

Knowledge of cardiovascular disease is associated with better adherence to lifestyle changes that improve health. However, there is not enough time in a 15-minute clinic appointment for doctors to both provide care and educate patients on cardiovascular disease. In fact, patients often spend more time waiting to see the doctor than in their consultation.

'While you’re waiting' aims to use time spent in waiting rooms as an opportunity to deliver informative and engaging educational videos on cardiovascular disease that have been selected by health care professionals.

We are interested to see if this will improve overall satisfaction with clinic care and motivate patients to make lifestyle changes that reduce their cardiovascular disease risk.

Investigators: Dr Aravinda Thiagalingam, Daniel McIntyre, Dr Jay Thakkar and Professor Clara Chow.

Improving health outcomes for people suffering out of hospital arrest.

This cluster RCT aims to evaluate a novel approach to target CPR health education to communities organisation in vulnerable regions, involve diverse populations and are not traditional users of CPR training. 

Collaboration/ Partnerships: Surf Lifesaving NSW, Michael Hughes Foundation, Western Sydney Local Health District, Heart Foundation, Ambulance Service of New South Wales, NSW Ministry of Health, NSW Data Analytics Centre, Take Heart Australia, City of Parramatta, Heart Support Australia

Evaluation of the Rapid Access Cardiology Clinic model of care to understand patient characteristics, health utlisation and cost benefit and to demonstrate user satisfaction

Text Messaging Intervention with customisation using linked data from wireless wearable activity monitors to improve risk factors following gestational diabetes

Coordinating Healthcare with Artificial Intelligence-driven Technology in Atrial Fibrillation.

The project pilots a system aimed at supporting patients to self-manage their atrial fibrillation and promoting care coordination with their GP and cardiologist.

The system consists of automated phone calls (using Artificial Intelligence technology) that will do monthly risk assessments of patients’ overall health, symptoms, and risk factors, in combination with text messages, emails, and access to an online tailored education platform, which hopes to improve patient-reported outcomes and experience measures, as well as reduce avoidable hospitalisations and improve health outcomes.

Our people

WARC is comprised of pre-eminent researchers, scholars and clinicians who are committed to the centre’s mission of providing leadership and advice on digital health interventions.

The centre will also develop the capacity of clinicians in applied clinical research and provide advice on study design and operational services at Westmead.

Centre leadership

  • Professor Clara Chow, Director
  • Caroline Wu, Research Administration Manager
  • Dr Marina Ali, Clinical Trials Services Manager
  • Simone Marschner, Senior Biostatistician

Research opportunities

WARC is open to visiting fellows, PhD opportunities for talented students who are keen to further their education in research.

Register your interest

Research fellows

Analysis_

Sydney women talk gender equity

Female staff, students and alumni recently gathered to participate in an open discussion on the state of play for women in the workplace. Together they uncovered some hard truths but remained optimistic about the future.
Partnership_

WARC and partners celebrate World Heart Day

We recognised this year’s World Heart Day by asking the community of western Sydney to make a heart promise to care for their heart by eating healthily, doing more exercise and stopping smoking and to look after their loved one’s hearts.

General enquiries

Address
  • Level 6, Block K Entrance 10, Westmead Hospital Hawkesbury Road Westmead, NSW, 2145; AND REN Building Westmead Hospital Darcy Road, Westmead NSW