Checkup Medical Column for Oct 13

Research shows basic mental health training for managers can improve the mental health of workers, and a warning about the 'tiny' sunglasses trend.

A weekly round-up of news affecting your health.


The number of adverse events during surgery has continued to decline in Australia.

The 8th National Report of the Australian and New Zealand Audits of Surgical Mortality (ANZASM) was released by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) this week.

In 2016, the proportion of cases with adverse events was 2.9 per cent compared to 4.4 per cent in 2013, the report says.

The most common issues experienced were delays related to the transfer of patients (11.3 per cent), inappropriateness of transfer (4.1 per cent) and insufficient clinical documentation (4.7 per cent).

The report also shows adverse events involving obese patients have overtaken those with liver (hepatic) issues.

ANZASM Chairman, Professor Guy Maddern says a proportion of more recent cases are still undergoing assessment, so the figures for 2016 may change slightly.

"But even so, what we have seen across the last five years is that the proportion of adverse events has been decreasing over the reporting periods," Prof Maddern said.

"In 2009 the proportion of adverse events was approximately six per cent, so the drop has clearly been significant."

Since the auditing began across Australia and New Zealand in 2009, the number of surgeons participating in the process has increased from 60.4 per cent to 98.3 per cent.

Professor Maddern says this will only lead to better outcomes for all surgical patients.

"As an example, seminars have been facilitated based on in-depth investigations of the issues identified in the audit," he said.


Basic mental health training for managers can significantly improve the mental health of workers, a study has found.

A randomised controlled trial, led by researchers at the Black Dog Institute and UNSW and published in journal Lancet Psychiatry, studied the effects of a four-hour mental health training program delivered to managers from Fire & Rescue NSW.

In addition to large reductions in work-related sickness absence, the training was also associated with a return on investment of $9.98 for each dollar spent on training.

"Workplaces and managers should be part of the solution to poor mental health," said lead author Associate Professor Samuel Harvey, who heads the Workplace Mental Health Research Program at the Black Dog Institute.

"One of the key problems of mental illness is the impact it can have on people's careers, but this doesn't have to be the case," Ass Prof Harvey said.

The trial randomly assigned 88 managers responsible for close to 4000 staff into either an intervention group - who received the RESPECT mental health training program - or a control group. Managers were then reassessed six months later along with their employees, with researchers measuring for changes in work-related sickness absence.

At follow-up, work-related sick leave decreased by 18 per cent amongst those whose manager received the RESPECT training, equating to a reduction of 6.45 hours per employee over six-months.

During the same period, the control group who did not receive basic manager mental health training saw an increase in work-related sickness absence of 10 per cent.


Optometrists have issued a warning about the latest tiny sunglasses trend.

The '90s inspired 'microshades' trend made an impact at London and Paris Fashion Weeks recently, but Australia's peak professional body of optometrists says they aren't the ideal style to protect the eyes from harmful UV rays.

Unlike the aviators' resurgence of 2016, this season's 'microshade' or 'Matrix' sunglasses trend are often worn down the bridge of the nose, allowing UV rays to penetrate the eyes.

"While we welcome any celebrity attention given to sunglasses, microshades appear to be worn as pure fashion accessories and not serious UV protectors," Optometry Australia's resident optometrist, Luke Arundel said.

"Our eyes are 10 times more sensitive to UV than our skin and too much exposure to UV light increases the risk of various eye diseases and cancer, with some 300 Australians diagnosed with eye cancer annually," he said.

Wearing close-fitting sunglasses with a wide arm or a wrap-around style, along with a broad-brimmed hat is the best way to protect your eyes, Mr Arundel says.


The belief that lifting heavy weights is necessary to build muscles is being challenged by a group of Australian researchers.

Researcher Charlie Davids from the University of Queensland's School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences says resistance training at low loads with blood flow restriction (BFR) has been shown to increase muscle size and strength.

"BFR, also known as Kaatsu training, involves performing exercise with a restrictive cuff placed around the exercising limbs," said Mr Davids.

"This reduces the amount of blood and oxygen delivered to the exercising muscles, leading to an accumulation of metabolic by-products, such as lactate, causing some parts of the muscle to fatigue quickly while others compensate."

Mr Davids believes this training method could have positive implications for the injured and elderly.

To test the hypothesis, researchers at UQ will investigate the responses of healthy individuals to BFR training and are looking for people aged 18-35 to participate in the study.

Each of the 24 sessions will take 30 minutes, and will consist of two lower body exercises.

Participants will be provided with nutritional support (whey protein) following each training session.

Source AAP

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