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Access to information: is it a problem for parents who have children with disabilities


Fifteen families from the Otago Family Network and nine doctors from the Otago Area Health Board were interviewed.  The interviews collected two types of qualitative data: parents’ experiences in obtaining information about the disability of their child, and information systems used by some doctors.  The type of disability that both parties were concerned with varied, but similarities in communication were identified.  Recommendations were made.

Authors of Report

J Vaughn, V Sotutu, D Stubbs, L Voight, S Meyer.

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A follow-up study of lumbar spinal surgery


We set out to examine the outcome of patients of Mr Grant Gillett (Neurosurgeon D.P.H.) who were operated on for problems arising from prolapsed intervertebral disc and/or lumbar spinal stenosis.

Parameters including freedom from symptoms, change in vocational and recreational activity and subjective satisfaction with outcome were measured by standardised phone questionnaire in a sample of 50 patients.

86% of subjects rated their operative outcome as either good or excellent; a proportion of these subjects had objective measures more commensurate with an average or poor outcome.

Good functional recovery with regard to return to work occurred in greater than 20% if those who were working outside the home pre-operatively.

We conclude that both subjective and objective outcome may be ameliorated further by operating on clients before an 18 month symptomatic history has elapsed.

Finally any final post-operative judgment regarding success of failure should be foregone until at least 6 months post-operatively.

Authors of Report

Kim Maiai, Sue Rive, Prue Poole, Paul Templeer, Kathryn Stewart, Ellis Situe.

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Assessment of the adequacy of information and support given to parents who have experience a cot death


Of 22 families who had suffered a cot death in the Otago Area Health Board area during 1988-1989 we administered a questionnaire to 11 of the family with the aim of obtaining their views on the health and ancillary services they were exposed to as a result of their infants cot death.

Although there were deficiencies (mainly due to time and resources restriction) in our study we feel that it was shown that although the current services/support available is generally very well perceived there is a serious lack in the coordination of services and liaison with parents at this time that has lead to some parents being deprived of support and information that is very worthwhile.  We recommend that a position of Cot Death Coordinator be created by the Otago Area Health Board in order to correct this deficiency.

Authors of Report

Eric Bradfield, Raewyn Broady, Glenn Coltman, Pete Jones, Andrew Kerr, Steve Mackey, Paul McGeown.

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Back pain in nurses:  Results of a questionnaire conducted at Wakari Hospital


A retrospective survey of back pain amongst nursing staff at Wakari Hospital was preformed.  162 nurses responded to the questionnaire (70% response rate).  74% had suffered from back pain, 61% attributing this to nursing practice.

Lifting was identified as the major cause of back pain, with unavailability of staff, time presser and uncooperative patients as being the major attributable factors to this.  Such reasons were stated for the non-use of lifting aids.

119 nurses had back pain in the last 12 months, 75% of whom had no time off work.

Nearly every nurse received some form of training in lifting techniques, and 54% had received such training in the last 12 months.  No protective effects against back pain was noted by such teaching.

Those nurses who perceived themselves as always using the “correct” techniques had a lower incidence of back pain than those who didn’t.

Authors of Report

Angus Byers, Christine Elder, Andrew Glenny, Warrick Jones, James Knight, Cameron McKay, Christine March.

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Melanoma awareness in the Dunedin Public

Three separate descriptive studies were carried out on populations targeted in the 1989 Cancer Society Melanoma Awareness Campaign.  Two hundred and sixty-seven adults, 34 teachers of middle school pupils and 125 children were surveyed.  The studies were designed to assess knowledge relating to early detection of melanoma and attitudes to sun protection.

Two-thirds of the population identified melanoma as a form of skin cancer and the majority of those believed that all or most melanomas were curable with early intervention.  The majority of people associated melanoma with moles although our information indicated that many people had little concept of what a mole was.

Most commonly cited as indicating malignant change in moles were changes in colour, size and sensation.  However, for many respondents, there remained confusion over whether this could be normal for many respondents.

The majority realized the importance of sunburn in the aetiology of melanoma.  These with a greater knowledge of issues relating to melanoma were the young, those of higher soci-economic status and those with young children.  There was a worrying number of respondents who considered melanoma as a disease of childhood.

Seventy-five percent reported that they had examined their skin in the last year.  The majority of those who had not checked their skin acknowledged the importance of doing so.

Sun protection measures were reported by approximately half the sample, with sunscreen being the most popular means of protection used.  Sun protection was better amongst women, those of high SES, those with higher risk or a better knowledge of melanoma and those who examined their skins.  Being male and aged between 50-59 years correlated with lower knowledge and later presentation of melanoma.

A large proportion of the population had seen publicity relating to melanoma, but a considerably smaller number could recall messages specific to the campaign.

Cancer Society resource material was well received in schools and had a dramatic impact on children’s knowledge.  The attitudes of teachers and school administrators towards provision of sun protection for children at school may prove more resistant to change.

Authors of Report

Elizabeth Dennett, David Linscott, Vivienne Linscott, Frances McKellar, Wendy McRae, Elsa Taylor, Michael Watson, Heather Young.

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The role of the pharmacy in primary health care



This study was undertaken by five trainee interns in the second half of the first quarter of the 1990 academic year (January – February), working half time in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Otago University Medical School, Dunedin, under the supervision of Associate Professor Bill Glass.  The study was designed as a descriptive study, hence the role of the community pharmacy in Primary Health Care was described with respect to certain defined characteristics.  These were the characteristics of the people who used the pharmacy, the transactions that occurred, the content of these transactions, and the pharmacy itself.

Dr Nerida Smith of the Department of Pharmacy, Otago University Medical School, acted as the client for this study, and Mr Lex Graham, MPS, was consulted about the study, so that the Pharmaceutical Society approval would be obtained.

Authors of Report

Jeannie Knapp, Katherine Bristow, Jane Christiansen, Martyn Lemberg, Iain Bell.

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Utilisation patterns of the Dunedin after hours surgery


We were approached on behalf of the Dunedin After Hours Surgery (DAHS) and asked to investigate the patient utilisation patterns of the DAHS, and to measure the levels of patient satisfaction and perception of health care provided.

Authors of Report

John Canton, Andrew Clement, Simon Jensen, Anne Judkins, Keri Ratime, Glen Reeve.

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