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Otago health research partnership projects to tackle cot-death, obesity

Blossom outside Clocktower

Thursday 3 October 2013 11:54am

HospitalTwo new University of Otago projects aimed respectively at reducing sudden unexpected death in infants and aiding obesity recovery have been funded by the Health Research Council.

The Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) today announced funding for a total of four research partnership projects that will help improve New Zealand’s health care services in the short term.

The Otago projects, led by Professor Barry Taylor (Women’s and Children’s Health) and Professor Doug Sellman (Psychological Medicine, Christchurch) 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.

HRC Chief Executive Dr Robin Olds said the Council was 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.”

In partnership with the Hawke’s Bay DHB, Professor Taylor will lead a $200,000 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 Sellman’s $176,310 project 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. The research will be carried out in partnership with Christchurch PHO, Papanui Medical Centre, and Christchurch South Medical Centre.

“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.

Both projects will be funded over 18 months.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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