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Health Research Council supports Otago researchers


Thursday 30 March 2017 8:18am

Several University of Otago researchers have gained feasibility grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) in its latest funding round.

The HRC yesterday announced a combined total of $2 million worth of these grants, up from $1.05 million in 2016.

Otago’s 2017 Feasibility Study Grants:

Dr Stephen Inns (Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington)
Effects of Helicobacter pylori in pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes
24 months, $246,768

New Zealanders have high rates of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The highest rates are seen in Pacific and Māori people. Additionally, Pacific peoples and Māori have much higher rates of infection with a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori, which might make type 2 diabetes more difficult to treat.

A clinical trial comparing treatment of Helicobacter pylori to normal care is needed. However, the feasibility of such a study is not clear and a feasibility study is required to ensure its success.

The aims of this feasibility study are to: 1) estimate how easily patients with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes can be identified from the primary health care electronic record, 2) estimate the proportion of potential participants who will consent to and submit stool tests, 3) estimate the proportion of patients who have Helicobacter pylori and 4) estimate the proportion of patients who would likely enrol in a clinical trial.

Associate Professor Jeremy Krebs (Department of Medicine, University of Otago, Wellington)
Preventing progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes in New Zealanders
12 months, $248,242

Why do Pacific, NZ Māori and South Asian peoples have similarly high rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2DM) – significantly higher than European New Zealanders – despite having very different body composition? Weight loss through diet and increasing lean mass through resistance training both improve glucose metabolism, but it is unknown whether people with different lean:fat (L:F) mass ratios respond in the same way to these interventions.

This research aims to explore whether there are fundamental physiological differences between people with different L:F mass ratios at high risk of T2DM and whether they respond differently to interventions proven to reduce T2DM which specifically target either weight loss or increasing lean mass. We propose a feasibility study to identify recruitment strategies and barriers to recruitment for the main study; assess the tolerability of baseline investigations, and assess the tolerability and barriers to completion of the proposed dietary and exercise.

Dr William Levack (Rehabilitation Teaching and Research Unit, University of Otago, Wellington)
Taking charge of COPD: A low-cost self-management intervention
24 months, $249,318

Every year in NZ there are over 12,000 hospital admissions for acute exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD), costing $60 million annually. Many of these admissions are due to repeat episodes of AECOPD. We propose to conduct a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of a behavioural intervention to help people take charge of their health condition after discharge from hospital for AECOPD and to facilitate greater uptake of pulmonary rehabilitation – an existing programme of exercise and education that is known to reduce hospitalisation rates for AECOPD, but for which there is currently low uptake.

Our feasibility study includes evaluation of current AECOPD rates for the sample size calculation in the full study, plus evaluation of recruitment and retention rates; the acceptability, cultural appropriateness, and cost of the behaviour intervention; the suitability of training and support for personnel delivering the intervention; and a test of intervention fidelity.

Dr Daniel Ribeiro (School of Physiotherapy)
The effectiveness of tailored rehabilitation versus standard exercise programme
24 months, $213,067

Shoulder pain, the third most common musculoskeletal problem, is a burden on patients and family and on the national health system. Shoulder pain is a challenging symptom, with only 50 per cent of new episodes presenting full-recovery within six months. Based on our laboratory-based research, we propose a tailored rehabilitation might be more effective than standard exercise for patients with shoulder pain. We propose a feasibility trial to: (1) assess participant recruitment rate; the proportion of participants enrolled from the total number screened; adherence to the rehabilitation programme, and drop-out rates; (2) obtain estimates of adverse reactions to treatment; (3) test adapted protocols and outcome measure instruments; and (4) obtain estimates of intervention effects in order to inform the sample size of the full trial. This study will determine whether it is feasible to conduct the full trial to assess the clinical- and cost-efficacy of tailored rehabilitation for patients with shoulder pain.