Having joined the Clinical Trials Unit just over a year ago as a research assistant, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute towards some very exciting projects, both across the Unit and the wider department. More recently, I’ve joined the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group for a stint on a short-term project to set the priorities for tobacco addiction research in the coming years.
The future of tobacco addiction research
With the vast amount of evidence available on tobacco addiction research, the question is; what should tobacco addiction research focus on next? I don’t know if you’ve already heard, but the Cochrane TAG are celebrating their 20-year anniversary, so this project. offers a rare opportunity for anyone who is curious about tobacco addiction to get involved with influencing the direction of future research. So, if you have an opinion about tobacco addiction, then you can voice it by filling out this very quick survey.
Intervening on obesity
To follow suit with the title, I will talk about a recent success story. But first, a worrying fact - 25% of all UK adults are obese and this sets to double in the next 50 years. Given the associated comorbidities with obesity, this news may leave you feeling despondent. Dealing with obesity on a national scale is clearly becoming a burden for the NHS, so a simple and effective weight management intervention that can be delivered in primary care would be fantastic news, right?
Luckily, such research has been conducted here in our department (Brief Intervention for Weight Loss Study - BWeL), which I was fortunate enough to be involved with. The focus of this randomised controlled trial was on how general practitioners can support patients to manage their weight through brief interventions. The objective was to provide evidence for the integration of widespread weight loss interventions in primary care, similar to the NHS stop smoking service. Potentially, such interventions could influence weight management practice worldwide! The results are all in and are being analysed…
Following the BWeL study, I’m also now involved in another trial concerning the decision rules for diagnosing cancer (CANcer DIagnosis Decision rules - CANDID). Specifically, the trial seeks to discover which symptoms and examination findings are the most effective in predicting lung or colon cancer. With the help of 20,000 patients (half with lung symptoms and the other half with lower bowl symptoms), the information provided will hopefully reduce delays in diagnosing cancer, promote earlier referral for high risk patients and keep investigation to a minimal. This trial, and working with Cochrane TAG are completely new areas for me and it is great to have the opportunity to work on such exciting new projects.
What to read next
Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, who has recently returned to the department following maternity leave, writes about her experiences of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) conference in Chicago.