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Australian clinical trial activity and burden of disease: an analysis of registered trials in National Health Priority Areas

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To improve Australia’s health, clinical research programs should devote substantial activity to advancing practice in areas of high clinical need. Clinical trials are designed to provide high-quality evidence of the effectiveness of new interventions to establish best clinical practice. However, few studies have examined the extent to which Australian clinical trials address priority areas of clinical need.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Health Priority Areas (NHPAs) were introduced to encourage appropriate targeting of health services and clinical research to improve health. Currently, there are nine NHPAs: cancer control, cardiovascular health, mental health, injury prevention and control, diabetes mellitus, obesity, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions, dementia and asthma. These NHPAs account for approximately three-quarters of the total estimated burden of disease in Australia (1 915 600 of 2 632 800 disability-adjusted life-years [DALYs]).1

Previous studies have reported a disparity between the level of National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grant funding for studies investigating NHPA conditions relative to their disease burden.2,3 The founding of clinical trial registries, including the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry…