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An indication for every medicine

A 2020/2021 Summer Studentship research project

Student: Lorna Pairman
Supervisors: Associate Professor Matt Doogue, Dr Paul Chin
Sponsor: Canterbury Medical Research Foundation


"In most circumstances there should be timely and full information flow between all doctors responsible for the care of the patient and other relevant health practitioners about the indications and need for particular therapies.” Medical Council of New Zealand. Information about medicines, including reasons for their use is poorly done and associated with non-adherence, treatment failure, and use of health resources. In the National Patient Experience Survey (Health Quality and Safety Commission) patients repeatedly rate provision of information about their medicines as the poorest aspect of their care. The reasons for this are not known. CDHB electronic prescribing data have recently become available for analysis.

This project will investigate the frequency and validity of indications and the factors associated with this been done well and poorly.


Treatment failure and adverse drug effects are a leading cause of hospitalization and health costs. Improvement in engagement with care and adherence to treatment is associated with improved health outcomes. Reducing unused medicines and reduced hospitalizations is associated with cost savings.


Analysis of frequency and validity of medication indications in hospital medication charts and discharges. Multivariable analysis to determine the covariates associated with recording of medication indications. The project will use anonymised data.

Student researcher’s component of the study

The data are available. The student will clean and analyse the data using Tableau and SPSS. The student will be encouraged to write up the results and present the results to a scientific meeting.

Student prerequisites

Medical student with an interest in medicines and/or data analysis.