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Archive for October, 2011

Circumaural headphones have large pads that su...

Podcasting...and an extra way to keep the ears warm this winter. (Image via Wikipedia)

To finish the week neatly I quickly looked up “Thing 5” of the “Digital Professional” course, and found it to be about Podcasting; something which I admit to knowing far less about than I perhaps should.

However, in less than 15 minutes (about 10 of which were spent convincing my Laptop it did want to update iTunes, even though it was indeed late on a Friday afternoon…) I have managed to locate, download and subscribe to some excellent and free podcasts – including some from publications such as The Lancet Infectious Diseases, resources I have been using for traditional written source material without realising how easy it was to access relevant alternative material.

I see this being a regular port of call now…headphones are being dusted off….

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Sometimes cake is the only answer (Image via Wikipedia)

One of the most challenging parts about research is keeping up-to-date with the ever-changing knowledge landscape; even in the time elapsed since I graduated the first and second time (ok, it has been a while…) the world has moved on at an incredible pace, and even knowing you have read the latest publication from the most relevant journal in no way means you are “up-to-date”.

It was always known that because of the (substantial!) time taken for work to be written, re-written, peer-reviewed, re-written again, submitted and eventually published even data appearing in journals was already usually at least a year old; however this ‘grace period’ was generally seen as standard, and thus discussing results from the past 5 years or so seemed quite acceptable.  Not so now!  Because of the advent of the internet, tools such as blogging, Skype, and e-publications allow vast quantities of data to be shared in virtually no time at all – and this includes research data.  Naturally, issues of rigour and peer review need to be acknowledged, thus due attention to the source, reliability and validity of the data needs to be noted; but given that we’re in the field of research, such skills should now be coming naturally….

The Digital Professional course has set 2 more “Things” to get on top of this week – both aimed at precisely this topic; the first (Thing 3) is getting to grips with RSS Feeds, and the second (Thing 4) is setting up Journal search/citation alerts.

Thing 3 – familiarising myself with RSS Feeds caused me some frustrations I have to admit; although the upside is that I now know what they are, and I also know about the Start.Warwick homepage, which allows me to keep up-to-date with a whole range of different ‘headline’ activities across the entire Campus.  As it is entirely flexible I can now see headlines from my own Department (WMG) as well as wider University based matters, and keep an eye on the release of the next ‘Thing’ from the Digital Professional course – this saves me flicking through numerous webpages – and hopefully will stop me passing by so many distractions en route to my intended work destination…..

My frustration, just to publicly announce it, was purely due to mistakenly using the URL ” http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/rex23phd11” in the “Add new gadget” section, rather than the slightly different URL from the Feeds page “http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/rex23phd11?rss=rss_2_0“.    Still, a small walk away from the computer, a slice of cake and a deep breath has made me see it as a learning exercise….and all is well now!

Thing 4 – setting up Journal search/citation alerts was much easier, as it is something that I am already a little familiar with – having set up a weekly alert service with Emerald (http://www.emeraldinsight.com) to help me keep a track of developments within the Patient Empowerment arena – and also via Google alerts to help me keep an overview of general news releases on the topics of “hospital superbugs”, “hospital acquired infection”, Clostridium difficile” and “hand hygiene”.

I am now going to look at setting up a few more citation alerts based on new themes arising in my research – but as with all data mining, finding the literature is one thing, having time to read it and take the necessary next steps is quite another…..

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One of the early themes that I started to explore as part of my research was that of Patient Empowerment with regard to attempts to increase compliance to required Hand Hygiene standards.  This is something which has been recommended by empirical work (e.g. McGuckin et al, 1999) and the World Health Organisation (WHO),  and incorporated into strategies within the UK – for example the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) “Cleanyourhands” Campaign (2004).

However, as acknowledged by the WHO (2009) document – further work needs to be done on establishing effective ways to involve patients in the Hand Hygiene process. For example, data collected by the National Audit Office in 2009 found that only 36% of acute trusts involved in the “Cleanyourhands” Campaign believed Patient Empowerment had been achieved by the methods employed (i.e. ‘It’s Ok to Ask’ message).

To investigate this issue personally I designed a Poster entitled “Encouraging Debate: Patient Empowerment” for the Warwick Postgraduate Poster fair in 2010 – this gave me a great opportunity to talk to both other research students and staff, plus a wider audience, about the issues surrounding the involvement of patients in Hand Hygiene.  These included viewpoints about the ethical concerns regarding their role in ensuring medical staff performed their tasks to a ‘correct’ standard, how patients are supposed to understand what this ‘correct’ standard is, what pressure this ‘role’ may cause or alleviate in the patient – and also whether the Public should be involved in Hand Hygiene research, when they may not be aware of problems obtaining compliance in the first place.

A copy of this poster will be uploaded shortly – and whilst the main focus of the research has now moved away from this area I feel it is still a vital field that should be discussed, as each individual has the potential to one day be a patient – the question being, would you challenge a Healthcare Worker over their Hand Hygiene behaviour?

Cited References:

  • McGuckin M et al. (1999). Patient education model for increasing handwashing compliance. American Journal of Infection Control. V, 27, pp. 309-314.
  • National Audit Office (2009). Reducing Healthcare Associated Infections in Hospitals in England report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. HC 560 Session 2008-2009.
  • National Patient Safety Agency (2004). “Cleanyourhands Campaign” data available online at: http://www.npsa.nhs.uk/cleanyourhands/
  • World Health Organisation. (2009). WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Health Care: First Global Patient Safety Challenge Clean Care is Safer Care. Geneva: WHO Press.

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This shows three buildings on the University o...

IMC Building, WMG (far left) - the location of my Campus Office

A key driver behind setting up this blog has been an excellent scheme run by The University of Warwick specifically for Research Staff and Students, like me. 

The 10 week online course – entitled ’23 Things for the Digital Professional’ – promises to introduce a whole range of tools and techniques that are highly likely to be of both immediate and future benefit.  For me such a course is perfect, as whilst I have worked in both academic and industrial settings, neither have really involved much interaction with specific online tools – and as I do not work solely in one place the online aspect especially suits my circumstances.

Apart from setting up a blog (Thing 1!) the next few weeks should see many new aspects being explored – and brief evaluations of each experience will be added here; along with other posts and material directly related to my research topic.  Setting up this blog was much easier than I expected, with clear pro’s and con’s given to aid selection of a suitable platform, and I am therefore hopeful that ‘Thing 2’ – using SlideShare – will follow the same simple theme.  I am hopeful that by using the tools and knowledge gained through this course I will be able to both reach, and interact with a far greater community than that allowed through more traditional academic knowledge-share routes such as journals and conferences.

Perhaps even more importantly I trust that by Christmas I will finally be able to follow the conversations of my more technology-savvy friends and peers..!

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With a clue in the title, this blog is set to follow a multitude of themes in and around the umbrella topic of “Hand Hygiene”.

Whilst the main Doctoral Research being carried out has a specific focus on the Monitoring and Measurement of Hand Hygiene Compliance within NHS Acute Settings, this blog is to be a space dedicated to exploring the topic on a much wider scale – looking at Hand Hygiene in general terms, interventions and research outside of the NHS/UK field, and generally discussing an issue that has relevance to every individual in every walk of like. 

Comments, direct contact and all feedback welcome – the aim is to get people talking about Hand Hygiene….and practicing it….!

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