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Summer projects provide practical medical result

Thursday 24 January, 2013

University of Otago, Christchurch, Summer Studentship projects provide practical medical results.

University of Otago, Christchurch summer students helped cut waiting times at a 24 hour clinic, demonstrate that Christchurch Hospital’s bone marrow transplant procedures are world-class and provide insight into Cantabrians thriving despite suffering serious loss or hardship due to earthquakes.

More than 50 students took part in the University’s annual research programme.

They will present their findings on Friday, 25 January.

The programme gives postgraduate students a chance to be working researchers under the supervision of some of Christchurch’s best health researchers. The projects also provide practical results for clinicians and other researchers.

Some of the projects include:

Reducing waiting times for patients with urinary tract infections, and others, at the 24 Hour Surgery.

Long waiting times at the 24 Hour Surgery concern patients and staff. This study assessed a trial of nurses examining and treating patients presenting with urinary tract infections (UTIs). Waiting times for patients with a UTI were cut by 15 minutes and other patients also received faster treatment. Other areas where nurses’ involvement could cut waiting times were identified. This research is applicable to emergency surgeries nationwide.

Twelve years of bone marrow transplants in Canterbury – how are we doing?

This study looked at the outcomes for those who had life-saving bone marrow transplants at Christchurch Hospital since the procedure was introduced 12 years ago.

It compared Christchurch Hospital’s procedures and standard of care internationally – and found the service is world-class. Results also suggests a procedure where patients are given lower levels of toxic drugs before transplant could be used more widely than it is – giving more patients a wider range of treatment options.

Initial results from research into people coping well after earthquakes, as well as those who sought help.

Two summer students looked at a group of people who experienced moderate to severe loss or hardship due to earthquakes but feel they are coping well. One student found in general members of this group were not drinking or using other substances more than they were prior to the earthquakes but a large proportion of this group currently attributed their drinking to coping with their experiences.

The second student found that almost all of those people who felt they were coping well had experienced posttraumatic growth, significantly personal strengths and a better appreciation of life.

This study is ongoing and researchers are interested in interviewing people who have experienced loss or hardship as a result of the earthquakes, but are coping reasonably well.

A third student studied people who sought help from a GP counselling service set up after the September 2010 quake. There are a number of factors which typically put people at higher risk of stress or anxiety after a natural disaster. The study is still in progress but initial results show that many people who used the service did not have any of the typical risk factors.

Antipsychotic use in elderly Cantabrians

There is increasing concern about the frequency of antipsychotic prescribing in the older population as side effects may be associated with illness and death particularly in those with dementia. Not enough is known about the reasons people are prescribed these drugs.

Although a lot of focus has been on people with dementia living in rest home care who are sometimes given antipsychotics to help manage challenging behaviours, this group only made up 19% of the total. This study will help the design of more effective ways of improving prescribing for the benefit of all older people in Canterbury, not just a subset.


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