Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer Dr Adith Mohan at UNSW Sydney’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) has been awarded a Maridulu Budyari Gumal, the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE) grant to improve clinical outcomes for patients with Functional Neurological Disorders.

The award will bring together a team of international experts in the field to address the gaps in the delivery of responsive, evidence-based services for Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) across Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Mohan says that the creation of collaborative consortia of specialist clinics positively influence health outcomes in highly prevalent disorders, with cancer being a good example.

These consortia promote partnerships between tertiary clinical services and primary and secondary healthcare facilities and help improve quality of care for patients.

“Clinical consortia serve to coordinate the clinical and research agendas of participating members and increase access to services while allowing for optimal use of finite resources."

"This consortium for FND – known as CARE FND - will facilitate efforts to systematically collect epidemiological and clinical data that can be translated into gold-standard practice and shape policy development."

Dr Adith Mohan

Dr Mohan, who leads the newly established Mindgardens FND Clinic at the Neuropsychiatric Institute, The Prince of Wales Hospital, says there is an urgent need for interdisciplinary collaboration.

“Changing the culture of care in FND requires a concerted effort by clinicians, academics, healthcare policy and decision makers, hospital administrators and state-wide and national funding bodies in partnership with patients, their families, and their carers."

“This funding will allow existing services to come together to evaluate the current landscape of FND care provision and develop robust guidelines that can shape the development of pathways of care that engage primary health networks, private sector providers and NGOs alike in the assessment and management of FND.”

Professor Jackie Curtis, Executive Director of Mindgardens Neuroscience Network and co-investigator on the grant, says this funding offers a unique opportunity to coordinate clinical and research agendas in the field.

"This is an unprecedented collaboration of experts in FND in Australasia, with the Mindgardens FND Clinic serving as the central hub of CARE FND."

Professor Jackie Curtis

“We know that we can improve our support for people with FND by coordinating care across the health system and integrating research that directly addresses patients’ experiences,” says Professor Curtis.

FND is a common and treatable neuropsychiatric condition diagnosed in 15-20% of patients attending neurology clinics. Each year, approximately 200-300 new patients are diagnosed with FND in New South Wales alone.

Patients are typically young to middle-aged adults who demonstrate high rates of crisis-oriented healthcare utilisation. More than a third of these young adults end up remaining out of the workforce, and a quarter requiring disability support indicative of a significant burden of health and societal cost.

“Despite this reality, services for FND in Australia and New Zealand remain fragmented with poorly defined care pathways,” says Dr Mohan.

CHeBA Co-Director and Chief Investigator Professor Perminder Sachdev, who leads a transnational consortium of 57 studies in cognitive ageing, will provide expert guidance in the set up and governance of CARE FND.

Professor Sachdev says that clinical consortia serve to promote health equity, set standards for care, enable sharing of knowledge and expertise, and foster the development of a cohesive translational research agenda.

"This consortium is the first of its kind in bringing together a unique team of investigators all of whom lead FND clinical services across the two countries and comprehensively represent the breadth of expertise in the field of FND in Australasia."

Professor Perminder Sachdev

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