APRN Newsletter Issue 10, May 2014

It has been 8 months since our last newsletter, much has happened, and we would like to update you!

Children Attending Paediatrician Study (CAPS) 2013

The CAPS study ran over a two-week period from November to December in 2013, with booklets being sent to 461 paediatricians.  We have received 185 (40%) booklets with information on 7591 consultations! The APRN team is currently cleaning and analysing the data. We hope to have the data analysed by June, and we will send individual feedback to all participants at this time.

We would like to thank all APRN members who participated. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Multi-Topic Survey (MTS) 2013 - Results

The MTS 2013 consisted of three topic areas; Autism Spectrum Disorders, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Oral Health. The response rate was 45% and responders did not differ from non-responders in terms of their gender, age and full-time vs. part time work status. Here are some selected results from these areas.

Autism Spectrum Disorders

The study findings suggest:

  • Most paediatricians take 2 -3 sessions (51% and 28% respectively) to make an ASD diagnosis with the average length of time per session being 75 minutes.
  • Most responders reported that for nearly all children (75-100% of the time) diagnosis was based on informal observations of the child (82.4%) and parent report (73.3%) rather than use of a formal diagnostic tool.
  • Most paediatricians (86.3%) used DSM-IV criteria to make a diagnosis of ASD
  • Only a minority (29 to 33%) reported using other sources of information most of the time (i.e. 75-100% of the time) when making a diagnosis of ASD. Other sources reported were results from
    • cognitive assessments (31%)
    • psychological assessments (29%)
    • speech pathology assessments (33%)
  • Less than a quarter reported they would know if children with ASD were using complementary and alternative treatments (18.8%)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

The study findings suggest:

  • Diagnosing and management of CFS form part of clinical practice for a sizeable minority of paediatricians (41%). 
  • Paediatricians take a variety of approaches in diagnosis and management of CFS
  • Most keep to best practice guidelines using a multidisciplinary approach but few are aware of existing Clinical Practice Guidelines.
  • Common practice of managing  paediatric CFS by most Australian paediatricians includes:
    • Consulting a Psychologist (81%)
    • Consulting a Physiotherapist (73%)
    • Liaising with the child’s school (76%)

Oral Health

The study findings suggest:

  • Most paediatricians (85%) have had some training in oral health, which generally occurred pre-specialisation (67%)
  • Most paediatricians (85%) said they would like to increase their knowledge of oral health preferably through a feature presentation on Paediatric Updates (55%).
  • Nearly all paediatricians (93%) had seen children with oral health problems in their practice in past 3 years
  • Paediatricians identified the following as moderate to significant barriers that interfere with their participation in oral health-related activities:
    • other more pressing issues need to be addressed (93%)
    • lack of professional training (90%)
    • inadequate time during health supervision (82%)

There was also a short section on E-Health. To see findings on this topic, please click here to view our September newsletter.

National Delphi Study 2014

The APRN team is excited to announce the National Delphi Study 2014, which will begin in May. The National Delphi study was first conducted by the APRN in 2007-2008, to explore paediatric interest in research. The study generated 128 unanswered research questions, identifying Australian paediatricians top 20 research topics. The top three questions ranked by paediatricians were related to obesity management (two questions) and long-term ADHD educational outcomes.

What research questions matter most to our members in 2014?  

Stay tuned for your invite to take part in the two-stage Delphi Study.

Multi-Topic Survey (MTS) 2014 – Get your Advanced Trainees to propose a topic for their research!

We are now collecting topics for the MTS 2014 planned for later this year. The MTS is an amalgamation of several short surveys on important member-nominated topics into a single omnibus Survey. This year, we are particularly interested in acute medical conditions.

If you are planning a research or advanced trainee project about a certain condition, the MTS can help you gather data about which paediatricians see that condition and how they manage it.  We use these data to inform further APRN research.

If you would like to submit a topic, please click here


Member Profile

A/Prof Honey Heussler

A/Prof Heussler is a developmental, behavioural and sleep paediatrician who initially trained at University of Queensland and the Mater Children’s Hospital before spending time in Melbourne at the RWH and the RCH (specifically MCRI). She also spent several years at the University of Nottingham where she completed an MD in the Behavioural changes seen after Adenotonsillectomy before returning to Queensland. She has a significant role in teaching and assessment in the Paediatrics and Child Health rotation and has a strong interest in medical education. Her clinical work involves children with a variety of Developmental and Behavioural problems as well as a number of clinics that specialise in Sleep disorders for this population. A/Prof Heussler is a co-investigator on a NHMRC funded sleep trial in children with ADHD. This trial will recruit APRN paediatricians from Victoria and Queensland to implement the sleep intervention. Please see below in the Grants section for more details on the study.


Advisory Group Teleconference

On Tuesday 3rd of December the APRN Advisory Group had its’ second meeting of the year. The meeting focussed on the development of a Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) application with strong collaboration from all involved. The APRN plan on submitting a CRE application in 2015 with a focus on health services research, highlighting the strengths, and dealing with the inefficiencies of all three sectors (Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary) of the current system.



The APRN has been awarded its first NHMRC grant to fund a Queensland and Victorian trial of a promising sleep intervention in children with ADHD. In the trial, we will train APRN paediatricians and child psychologists to manage sleep problems in children with ADHD, in order to improve not only their sleep but also their ADHD symptoms, behaviour, quality of life, working memory and parent mental health. Impact of a sleep intervention in ADHD: translational randomised trial. NHMRC Project Grant (APP1058827). CIs: Harriet Hiscock, Emma Sciberras, Helen Heussler, Frank Oberklaid, Nicole Rinehart, AI John Carlin. Amount: $980,672 (2014 $249,300, 2015 $265,098, 2016 $255,098, 2017 $211,176)



We have published a paper since our last newsletter and another has been accepted for publication. Please visit our publication page for all our publications.

  • Rimer, R. and Hiscock, H. (2013), National survey of Australian paediatricians' approach to infant crying. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, doi: 10.1111/jpc.12452. JPCH link (new browser).
  • Price A, Coates C, Symeonides C, Hiscock H, Smith L, York E, Hennel S. Chocolate frogs do not increase participation in a parent survey: randomised study. Submitted to Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health in October 2013. Provisionally accepted 11th January 2014



Drs. Sabine Hennel and Cathy Coates presented results from the APRN project Family Needs around the Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Diagnosis at the International Congress of Pediatrics (ICP; Melbourne, 24th-29th August 2013).


Thanks to all APRN members who have contributed to the research and activities to date.

For more information on the APRN, please visit us at www.aprn.org.au