Open Access Study protocol

The health outcomes and costs of people attending an interdisciplinary chronic disease service in regional Australia: protocol for a longitudinal cohort investigation

Zephanie Tyack12, Kerrie-Anne Frakes1, Petrea Cornwell34, Suzanne S Kuys35, Adrian G Barnett6 and Steven M McPhail67*

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Support Services, Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Rockhampton Hospital, Canning St, Rockhampton, QLD 4700, Australia

2 School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4067, Australia

3 Allied Health Research Collaborative, Metro North Hospital and Health Service, Rode Rd, Chermside, Qld 4032, Australia

4 Griffith Health Institute Behavioural Basis of Health Program, Griffith University, Messines Ridge Rd, Mt Gravatt, QLD 4172, Australia

5 Centre for Musculoskeletal Research, Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Parklands Drive, Southport, QLD 4222, Australia

6 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and School of Public Health & Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, QLD 4059, Australia

7 Centre for Functioning and Health Research, Metro South Hospital and Health Service, Corner of Ipswich Road and Cornwall Street, Buranda, QLD 4102, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:410  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-410

Published: 11 October 2013



Rates of chronic disease are escalating around the world. To date health service evaluations have focused on interventions for single chronic diseases. However, evaluations of the effectiveness of new intervention strategies that target single chronic diseases as well as multimorbidity are required, particularly in areas outside major metropolitan centres where access to services, such as specialist care, is difficult and where the retention and recruitment of health professionals affects service provision.


This study is a longitudinal investigation with a baseline and three follow-up assessments comparing the health and health costs of people with chronic disease before and after intervention at a chronic disease clinic, in regional Australia. The clinic is led by students under the supervision of health professionals. The study will provide preliminary evidence regarding the effectiveness of the intervention, and evaluate the influence of a range of factors on the health outcomes and costs of the patients attending the clinic. Patients will be evaluated at baseline (intake to the service), and at 3-, 6-, and 12-months after intake to the service. Health will be measured using the SF-36 and health costs will be measured using government and medical record sources. The intervention involves students and health professionals from multiple professions working together to treat patients with programs that include education and exercise therapy programs for back pain, and Healthy Lifestyle programs; as well as individual consultations involving single professions.


Understanding the effect of a range of factors on the health state and health costs of people attending an interdisciplinary clinic will inform health service provision for this clinical group and will determine which factors need to be controlled for in future observational studies. Preliminary evidence regarding changes in health and health costs associated with the intervention will be a platform for future clinical trials of intervention effectiveness. The results will be of interest to teams investigating new chronic disease programs particularly for people with multimorbidity, and in areas outside major metropolitan centres.

Trial registration

Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12611000724976

Chronic disease; Multimorbidity; Interprofessional care; Rural health; Allied health services; Health costs; Health outcomes