Posts Tagged ‘Meaningful Data’

SO, here I am back blogging at exploringhandhygiene – it’s wonderful to have the time and opportunity to share my recent activities within the research sphere of infection prevention. Therefore, without further ado, let’s crack on!
  • What’s happened to my PhD research?

ThesisFirst, the big news – since my last post I am happy to announce that I successfully defended my thesis in my viva examination!  I had a very enjoyable examination, aided by superb examiners and a moderator who kept the atmosphere friendly, helpful and conducive to meaningful discussion, rather than making it in anyway seem like an interrogation.  My overwhelming thanks must therefore go to Professor Judith Tanner (external examiner), Dr Tina Barnes (internal examiner) and Professor Paul Jennings (viva moderator).

I am now working on my minor modifications, and also working on the feedback from a number of peer reviewed papers stemming from this research.  I’ll update on the progress of these outputs here in due course.

  • How I marked May 5thmay 5th

Whilst I was not able to be online for May 5th – the WHO SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands campaign – I did write a guest blog for Deb Group, which you can read here. This explores the origins of the WHO 5 Moments, the role of hand hygiene in helping stop the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and the importance of producing meaningful data when measuring hand hygiene compliance if we want to change behaviour.

  • My latest research plans

Now that I have (almost!) completed my PhD I am working on plans to further key strands of the research in order to improve practice within Patient safety.  The core aspect of my work is Meaningful Data for Behaviour Change, and this involves psychology, human factors and technology.  As I have a strong belief that research should have a practical application I will be looking to maintain close links with day-to-day infection prevention activity, and increase the level of involvement of front-line healthcare professionals in research: exploring issues that they identify as important for Patient safety.

  • What I’ve been doing outside the hand hygiene bubble

Finally, because it has been an unusual time, I have been offline quite a bit recently – hence the blog/twitter silence.  This is in part due to a technical hitch (I’m awaiting a new shiny machine, as currently my old faithful laptop is on the way out to pasture), but mainly due to taking some time out on holiday, AND training for the walkthewalk.org London Moonwalk 2014.  You can read all my team, and our motivations here – plus see some rather spectacular training photos…!wtw


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At the end of last month (January 31st) I had a wonderful time at my first IPS Audit and Surveillance SIG meeting, held in Birmingham.  I had the honour of being a guest speaker at their annual conference last year, held in collaboration with the IPS Ambulance Forum. This was my first “real” meeting though, and I have to admit my recent identity crisis had left me feeling a bit daunted…Would I really be welcome at a meeting of Infection Prevention professionals?

Great start to meeting!

Great start to meeting!

Fortunately, the IPS community spirit was as much in evidence at the meeting in Birmingham as I have found it to be at their national conferences.  Within seconds of entering the room I was made to feel welcome (the bacon roll definitely helped!!), and throughout the meeting and discussions over lunch I felt completely at ease.   I very much enjoyed hearing the group discuss the QIT tools, something I’d like to look at going forwards. Similarly there was great discussion about the potential for a network/directory/porthole/vault (I don’t think we ever hit on the correct word!) function on the Audit and Surveillance webpage. Such a tool would have really helped when I was carrying out my PhD research, and would certainly benefit anyone carrying out research within the measurement of infection prevention going forwards.  Three wonderful speakers contributed to the day, I’m sure copies of their presentations/details of their work are available from the groupFor me, it was a great opportunity to hear about other research going on outside of my specific focus, and also to consider further development of my research theme “meaningful data”.   

Here is just a summary of my thoughts and ideas generated during the speaker presentations:

During Lilian Chiewera’s engaging presentation “Does Post Discharge Telephone Surveys improve the accuracy of existing Caesarean Section SSI surveillance at local level” I was really interested to hear the familiar theme of “feedback” raised, in relation to research data collection.  During her research Lilian found that a key way of getting/increasing/maintaining support and collaboration from staff, required to contribute key surveillance data, was to ensure that everyone involved was informed about what the data was for, how it was to be used, and what the results of the surveillance were. In other words, she worked towards ensuring that the surveillance data would have meaning to those involved in the process.  By sharing information about the reasons for data collection with healthcare professionals, Lilian found that engagement with future data collection sessions was improved.   I was also delighted to hear her talk about the concept of “data” being only a number, and that too much focus on figures can lead to a loss of sight of the greater context.  As Lilian noted, even one infection, if it could have been prevented, is one too many.

Carole Hallam gave an enthusiastic presentation from which I also extracted themes of stakeholder engagement: here she stressed the need to communicate the need for standardised documentation, and how sometimes, perseverance was the key to “cracking” the hard job of engaging some clinical units in surveillance research.    Interestingly, she also hit on the concept of “using your instincts” whilst working within the rigorous area of surveillance data.   If something looks wrong, for example if infection rates seem too low, follow your gut!  There could be a simple calculation mistake, but similarly there could be a mistake in the whole data collection processes.  Don’t just report a figure if you don’t believe it.  

The way I see it is if you collect the data, and you understand the data, the data is meaningful to you. So use that meaning!     Now obviously I understand that this may sound idealistic, and additional investigation may be resource intensive…but ensuring that collected data is accurate is fundamental to the purpose of surveillance. Process redesign, or necessary recalculations are unlikely to be as disruptive as ploughing along regardless, and never actually understanding the true picture.

The final speaker of the day, Jane McNeish highlighted how meaningful data could be critical in future interventions extending out of the acute setting, and into care homes.  In her presentation, discussing Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) she highlighted that if time and thought is going to be put into designing surveillance tools, and indeed pathways and protocols,  then wider issues than simply being evidence-based may be crucial. For example, focus must surely be placed on how the information contained in the intervention is received by those who can deliver it?  Do carers understand carefully constructed tools? Does the data the tool produces mean anything to the staff, family or Patient it has been designed to help? What additional information, training or support is needed to ensure that tools are used, correctly, to improve Patient safety?

I look forward to seeing where the Audit and Surveillance group heads, and what comes of many of the discussions held on that very rainy day in Birmingham.  It has definitely helped me put context around how I could develop my work going forwards, and certainly encouraged me to attend future IPS meetings.

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Image credit:  Jameson Gagnepain via Flickr

Image credit: Jameson Gagnepain via Flickr

Due to my current “limbo” status previously discussed, I find myself increasingly “plate spinning” at the moment, enjoying the luxury (challenge!) of being able to dive into a number of activities, rather than having to focus solely on one goal, as had been the requirement over autumn/winter last year.   Therefore I am currently spending time reflecting on my own research, through writing up my findings and methods for various journal articles, and also working with existing and new partners to plan potential avenues for future research.

These future avenues include:

  • exploring hand hygiene technologies
  • behavioural aspects of infection prevention
  • education and engagement of medical professionals with both hand hygiene and wider infection prevention goals
  • generating meaningful data for use in enabling change within infection prevention practices

Whilst these topics are listed as separate bullet points, the wonderful aspect of both my reflective work recently, and the exciting discussions had so far, is the acknowledgement of how much overlap there is between each area. For example:

Can hand hygiene technologies produce meaningful data?
How can we enhance the infection prevention education of medical professionals through understanding behaviour? 
What is the importance of engaging healthcare professionals when discussing hand hygiene technologies…and meaningful data…?

It is definitely an exciting time to be working and researching in infection prevention, and I am very lucky to be surrounded by a motivated and passionate community.  I have been particularly supported and encouraged by those below, although this list is certainly not exhaustive, and I look forward to adding many more names as we move forwards in the months and years to come!

Overdue thanks to:

UHCW Infection Prevention and Control Team,    Claire Kilpatrick,    Julie Storr,    Martin Kiernan,    Jon Otter,    Gary Thirkell,    Neil Wigglesworth,    Mark Radford,    The Infection Prevention Society (IPS),      #WeNurses,    Jamie Mackrill,    Kate Seers,    Jeremy Wyatt,    Christopher James

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