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Clinicians and researchers combine to tackle challenges

Clinicians and researchers partner to tackle major health challenges

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) has awarded more than $750,000 in funding for four research partnership projects that will help improve New Zealand’s health care services in the short term.

The projects are funded through the HRC’s Research Partnerships for New Zealand Health Delivery (RPNZHD) initiative, which requires health researchers to work in collaboration with health delivery organisations.

“We’re pleased to be able to support research opportunities for more frontline clinicians. These high quality research partnerships will provide innovative and workable solutions to some of the major health challenges facing New Zealand – and in quick time,” says HRC Chief Executive Dr Robin Olds.

Professor Barry Taylor from the University of Otago, Dunedin will lead a project to investigate whether placing infants in a pēpi-pod (a plastic container with a fitted mattress) for overnight sleep in their homes is a safe way of decreasing New Zealand’s high rate of Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI). The research will use infra-red video and measure the infants’ heart rate, blood oxygen levels and body temperature.

“The results will provide urgently needed evidence to support (or otherwise) the current plans that are being implemented in many district health boards,” says Professor Taylor.

Professor Doug Sellman from the University of Otago, Christchurch will examine a ‘food addiction’ approach to obesity involving an obesity recovery network called Kia Akina. The project will test the feasibility, short-term effectiveness and participant satisfaction of Kia Akina within the primary health care setting.

“There is a serious need to develop new non-surgical ways of treating obesity because obesity-related diseases are expensive for New Zealand, traditional non-surgical methods are not working, and surgery is very costly,” says Professor Sellman.

If shown to be effective, Kia Akina will be developed as a non-commercial, low cost network for obesity recovery throughout New Zealand.

Dr William Abbott from the Auckland District Health Board will design a diagnostic test to detect chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) patients with early-stage liver inflammation. Detection and treatment of early-stage liver inflammation substantially lowers the risk of liver cancer. This test will potentially enable physicians to start early treatment for chronic hepatitis B, helping to improve patient outcomes and reduce the costs associated with screening for and treating liver cancer.

More than a million litres of 0.9 per cent saline are administered to acutely ill patients around the world daily. However, recent data suggests that the use of 0.9 per cent saline for intravenous fluid therapy may increase the risk of developing acute kidney injury. Dr Paul Young from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand will compare the routine use of 0.9 per cent saline for fluid therapy in Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients with intravenous fluids that have lower chloride concentrations such as Plasma Lyte® 148. This research partnership will engage frontline clinicians with world-leading ICU clinical researchers.

For more information about the research projects, please contact the researchers direct. The following list of successful applicants includes the named principal investigator only.

Dr William Abbott

Auckland District Health Board
Prediction of serious liver inflammation in chronic hepatitis B virus infection

18 months, $174,386

Professor Douglas Sellman

University of Otago, in partnership with Christchurch PHO, Papanui Medical Centre, Christchurch South Medical Centre

Recovery from obesity – Kia Akina: A community-based food addiction programme

18 months, $176,310

Professor Barry Taylor

University of Otago, in partnership with Hawke’s Bay DHB

Pēpi-pods for a safe infant sleep? A video, physiological and thermal evaluation

18 months, $200,000

Dr Paul Young
Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, in partnership with Capital and Coast DHB, Canterbury DHB, Auckland DHB, Baxter Pty and Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Research Centre
0.9 per cent saline vs. Plasma-Lyte® for fluid therapy in the ICU
18 months, $200,000


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