In late 2007, we established the Australian Paediatric Research Network (APRN) – a 350 member strong research network – which aims to facilitate high quality research into common, child health conditions seen in secondary care settings. Through this network we hope to engage paediatricians working at ‘the coal face’ to generate research ideas, take part in projects and ultimately contribute to better health care and policy for Australian children. As for adults, tertiary institutions remain the predominant site of paediatric research. Tertiary research however, is biased towards severe illness, isolated conditions, highly selected patients and single interventions. This is not always relevant to the real world that paediatricians confront every day.
The APRN is off to a strong start. We have worked with members to establish their research priorities and conducted a prospective audit of their caseload to inform the relevance, feasibility and design of future APRN studies. We have developed a website (http://www.aprn.org.au) which will house useful tools for conducting research including child health measures and project design needs. We plan to call for member-initiated research proposals on an annual basis and to conduct a ‘multi-topic’ survey addressing up to six research topics at any one time. Although conducting research in secondary care settings poses time, cost and process challenges, all of these are firmly within the APRN's sights.