November 20, 2023  Print

A paper, to which WIMR significantly contributed, on the true cost of waiting times for cataract surgery in Australia has been honoured in this year’s PHRP Excellence Awards.

The awards celebrate outstanding papers that have been published in the past year in Public Health Research & Practice, a peer-reviewed journal of the Sax Institute that has been independently ranked Australia’s leading health policy journal.

This year’s Best Paper Award went to a paper on waiting times for cataract surgery in the public health system. The researchers, including WIMR's Associate Professor Andrew White, found that in the best-case scenario, patients wait around four months for surgery after diagnosis of a cataract, but in the worst-case scenario, that wait can be as long as two-and-a-half years in some parts of the country.

Nearly one-quarter of a million people live in Australia with visually significant cataracts. The authors estimated that extended waits for treatment place people at heightened risk of falls, car crashes and other ill effects, including social isolation. Their analysis showed that cutting wait times from 12 to three months would result in 50,679 fewer falls for older people, saving the health system $6.6 million nationwide once the cost of bringing the surgery forward was taken into account.

The award for Best Paper celebrates excellence in public health research, practice and policy and recognise the inspirational work taking place in Australia. The judging panel, comprising members of the Journal’s Editorial Board, judges papers for factors including their potential impact on public health policy and practice, usefulness to policy makers, researchers and public health practitioners, rigour of methodology and quality of analysis and presentation.