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Our latest and archived media releases and news articles.
24 May 2011
Four research projects have been offered HRC funding for research partnerships, which will utilise the experience and expertise of frontline clinicians to provide innovative and workable solutions to improve health delivery services.
This initiative, which was run for the first time in 2010, requires the collaboration of the health research community and the health delivery organisations.
Smoking has been shown to be a powerful environmental risk factor for the onset of rheumatoid arthritis and smoking also results in worse disease outcomes and reduces the efficacy of medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Associate Professor Lisa Stamp’s project will explore the knowledge and beliefs of patients with rheumatoid arthritis in relation to smoking as it affects their condition. Specific arthritis related factors that contribute to difficulties with smoking cessation will be explored. A rheumatoid arthritis-specific smoking cessation programme will then be developed based on the findings and piloted in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Supported Discharge Teams have been established in the community to help the transition from hospital to home, whilst reducing hospital length of stay. Waikato DHB recently commenced a pilot Supported Discharge Team, with a view to establish the service across the Waikato should it prove effective. Associate Professor Parsons will use a randomised controlled trial to test the impact of the new service on hospital length of stay, subsequent hospitalisations, institutionalisation and cost. This nationally pertinent research will allow Waikato DHB to make an informed decision around the roll out of the service.
A project by Professor Sunny Collings will investigate the adoption and implementation of a new New Zealand based Toolkit for primary mental health care development. An explanatory case study design will be used to determine the structural and non-structural characteristics of the organisations that influence adoption and implementation, and whether or not adoption of the Toolkit leads to any measurable changes in service provision or use. The sustainability of the Toolkit use and the transferability of the findings to other health contexts will also be assessed.
Robyn Bailey’s project will develop a youth outcomes model and measures for assessing the changes experienced by young people using Kapiti Youth Supporti (KYS) services. The project will provide understanding of how the integrated service approach used by KYS contributes to these changes, and enables judgments about 'how good' (or otherwise) these services are for young people, their families and the wider community. The changes for young people using KYS services will be tracked over time using the youth outcomes model.
The following list of successful applicants includes the named Principal Investigator only.
Ms Robyn Bailey
Evaluation Works Ltd, in partnership with Kapiti Youth Support – How do we know what we're doing works? Evaluating Kapiti Youth Support
Professor Sunny Collings
University of Otago, Wellington, in partnership with Valley Primary Health Organisation and Hutt Valley DHB – Found in translation: implementing a tool for primary mental health development
Associate Professor Matthew Parsons
The University of Auckland, in partnership with Waikato DHB – Evaluating a Supported Discharge Team; a randomised controlled trial
Associate Professor Lisa Stamp
The University of Otago, Christchurch, in partnership with Arthritis New Zealand – Identifying & overcoming barriers to smoking cessation in rheumatoid arthritis
4 May 2011
New Zealand’s top emerging health researchers have been awarded funding grants worth a total of $1.51 million from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), to support them in establishing independent careers in health research.
The HRC is the principal Government agency responsible for funding health research in New Zealand.
From this recent round of health research funding, eleven up and coming health researchers have received an HRC Emerging Researcher First Grant.
“I am very pleased that we are once again able to support this country’s greatest young research talent in this way,” says HRC’s Chief Executive, Dr Robin Olds. These young people are outstanding in their respective research fields and with these grants they will be able to conduct research which will be of benefit to the health of all New Zealanders,” he says.
Two of the funded projects, by researchers from The University of Auckland, will investigate different aspects of bone disease. Dr Vickie Shim will characterise the influence of daily activities on cellular and genetic function of cartilage cells in order to identify the genes that are related to the onset of osteoarthritis. Since knee injuries are known to lead to early osteoarthritis, which is currently incurable and lacking effective treatment, the identification of cellular and genetic links will be invaluable in devising a new therapy and better patient management.
Dr Justin Fernandez will quantify the impact of low dose fluoride treatment on the fracture susceptibility of the femur and spine of menopausal women with osteopenia, which is a condition where bone mineral density is lower than normal, and considered by many doctors to be a precursor to osteoporosis.
Three projects will investigate cancer including: a potential treatment for castration-resistant prostate cancer; another study will provide data to advance efficient treatment of oestrogen receptor negative breast cancer and the appearance of metastases; and a further project will look at the development of potential anti-cancer drugs, related to molecules found in marine sponges.
Dr Richard Hall from the Institute of Environmental Science Research Limited aims to discover currently unknown viruses that cause human gastrointestinal disease. The results from this study will be used by public health agencies to prevent or contain outbreaks through a better knowledge of these ‘mystery’ viruses causing such a common disease.
Evidence suggests that there is a relationship between vitamin D status and a history of respiratory illness and allergy. Dr Pamela von Hurst from Massey University, Albany, aims to measure the vitamin D levels of pre-schoolers from around New Zealand and to gather information on the predictors of deficiency, with the objective of creating an easily used risk assessment tool for health professionals in the community. It will also enable the investigation of the potential link with respiratory illness and allergy.
2011 HRC Emerging Researcher First Grants
The following list of successful applicants includes the named Principal Investigator only.
Dr Augusto Barbosa, The University of Auckland
The Outcomes of Lactobacillus and Trichomonas vaginalis Interaction
36 months, $145,200.00
Dr Justin Fernandez, The University of Auckland
Can Low Dose Fluoride Therapy Increase Bone Strength in Osteoporosis?
36 months, $139,100.00
Dr Richard Hall, Institute of Environmental Science Research Ltd
Hunting the Silent Majority: Unknown Viruses in Human Gastrointestinal Disease
36 months, $149,999.50
Dr Joanne Harvey, Victoria University of Wellington
Analogues of Zampanolide: Design, Synthesis and Anti-Cancer Activity
36 months, $126,600.00
Dr Stephen Jamieson, The University of Auckland
Small Molecule Inhibitors of AKR1C3 in Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer
24 months, $148,231.56
Dr William Levack, University of Otago, Wellington
Pulmonary Wii-habilitation: a Pilot Study
18 months, $81,686.02
Dr Greg Martin, Victoria University of Wellington
Impact of Substance Use and Mental Health Presentations in the Emergency Department
24 months, $147,000.00
Dr Katya Ruggiero, The University of Auckland
Probing Illness with a Novel Multi-omic Time-course Statistical Platform
24 months, $135,000.00
Dr Vickie Shim, The University of Auckland
Finding Links between Knee Injuries and Cartilage Degeneration
36 months, $143,000.00
Dr Sebastien Taurin, University of Otago, Dunedin
Effect of Raloxifene on Oestrogen Receptor Negative Breast Cancer Tumour Growth
36 months, $145,000.00
Dr Pamela von Hurst, Massey University, Albany
Vitamin D Deficiency Risk and Respiratory/Allergy Diseases in NZ 1-4 Year-olds
36 months, $149,883.00
- Ends -
24 March 2011
Much more needs to be done to improve the oral health of Māori according to a publication launched at the Copthorne Hotel, Waitangi on Friday 25 March 2011 at the annual conference of Te Ao Marama, the New Zealand Māori Dental Association.
The new book, entitled Oranga Waha – Oral Health Research Priorities for Māori demonstrates priorities for improvement of the current poor oral health of many Māori. Funded by the Ministry of Health and the Health Research Council of New Zealand it sets out a research agenda to determine the best pathways for developing improved oral and dental health for Māori over the next few years.
“This book is one important step in doing something to address the serious state of the dental health of Māori,” says co-author Bridget Robson from Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago, Wellington.
“We didn’t realize how bad it was for some of our whānau. Some people hadn’t accessed dental care since school for cost and other reasons” says Vilma Hape from Ngāti Pāhauwera Hauora, one of the research partners. “People talked about resorting to drastic measures to deal with the pain from rotten teeth.”
Poor oral health is linked with general health problems. For example, gum disease is associated with diabetes, lung diseases, and heart disease. Some drugs can also dry out the mouth, increasing the risk of tooth and gum disease. “This means oral health is everyone’s business, not just that of dentists and dental therapists,” says Robson.
Other research shows that although New Zealanders spend about $1 billion a year on oral and dental health, only $178 million of that is publicly funded and only $9 million goes to low income adults. Robson says this is not nearly enough to address this pressing health issue which is affecting the lives of thousands of low income Māori of all ages.
This publication is a wide ranging partnership between the University of Otago, Wellington, several Māori health providers, NGOs and Te Ao Marama. For the first time it identifies research areas to improve the oral health of Māori, especially those individuals with special needs, disabilities and chronic conditions.
“Our research in the community, in hospitals and with Māori health services shows that Māori are not going to be content with minor changes around the margin of the system in relation to poor oral health,” says Robson. Some of the key recommendations of this report focus on:
- Increasing Maori providers for oral health services in primary care organisations, including the development of a Maori oral health workforce.
- Increasing oral health skills amongst non-dental providers to those Maori with disabilities or chronic conditions.
- The development of new models of oral health delivery to meet the needs of low income Maori and to make dental care much more accessible.
- Investigating the poor distribution of dentists nationally, and how to encourage dental professionals to work in low income or rural areas.
- Further investigating how environmental factors such as the marketing of food, tobacco and alcohol, and government regulations, affect Maori oral health and continuing health inequities.
The new publication also stresses the vital importance of monitoring, research and evaluation of progress in improving Maori dental health in coming years.
It says there is a risk that poor Maori oral health may remain hidden in statistics relating to the general population if this is not done, which makes it doubly difficult to make the necessary improvements. This is particularly so for those Maori with special needs and disabilities.
For further information contact:
Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare
University of Otago Wellington
Mob: 027 2409258
Dr Pauline Koopu
Te Ao Marama (NZ Māori Dental Association)
Mob: 027 4543406
HRC News - March 2011
The HRC and Ministry of Health Immunisation Research Strategy partnership funded research was carried out by a Massey University and Whanganui Community team, led by Associate Professor Margie Comrie, and managed by Dr Niki Murray from Massey University’s School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, who share a long-standing interest in literacy issues.
Dr Murray says an earlier literacy project exposed links between low levels of health and low levels of literacy.
The Whanganui PHO were interested in developing better communication of immunisation information so the team worked to develop a communication tool using extensive input from community end-users and health professionals.
Associate Professor Comrie says that as communicators they thought visual communication and simplicity was really important, but the first step was to work with the community and find out more about people’s decisionmaking around whether or not they chose to immunise their children.
Dr Murray says they set up focus groups involving participants from a range of social support organisations, including Māori, Pacific People and mainstream providers. “We talked to decision-makers and asked them what sort of information they received about immunisation and what they thought about that information. Then we asked them what would be a preferred means of getting information about immunisation and what sorts of things they would like to know,” she says.
“We also showed them some pictures and asked them whether that form of showing them illustrations would help them to remember messages. They were quite adamant that they needed real-life photos and real-life people they could relate to.”
Associate Professor Comrie says they also wanted bright colours, simple words, and bullet points. Almost everyone they spoke to wanted to receive information as part of a discussion. “They also told us that they didn’t want a lot of information all at once but they wanted to know how to get more information if they wanted to.”
From these focus groups they developed a simple illustrated flip chart as a communication tool for the lead maternity carer to use when having a discussion with the mother or family.
It takes them through what immunisation is for, how vaccines work, what are the diseases it can protect against and shows a simplified version of the immunisation chart. It also talks about the immunisation register, where immunisation information is recorded and goes through what happens when they go to the doctor and what happens afterwards.
They also developed an A5 sized fridge magnet which has the key immunisation messages, as well as information on when the injections are due and important contact information.
Associate Professor Comrie says they also tested how much of a difference the pictures made using two groups of 31 mothers who were about 28 weeks pregnant. An intervention group received the information with illustrations while a control group received the same information but without illustrations.
A follow-up phone interview six weeks later found the ones who received information with the accompanying illustrations recalled more information, were more confident in their recall and also felt more confident about making immunisation decisions.
Associate Professor Comrie says they have been talking to midwifery groups and various health boards about further testing and development with a view to finding out how the resources could be most effectively used.
Information: Associate Professor Margie Comrie, Massey University, Palmerston North