Early on in my degree I had an interest in neurology, and chose to do my dissertation investigating how a risk gene for schizophrenia impacted on neuroanatomical regions. As it housed the Institute of Neurosciences, I had ambitions to do my pre-registration year at the Southern General Hospital and was ecstatic when I was successful!
When I started at the Institute, I made sure to express my interest in neurology and I was fortunate enough to do a research project on the side effects of a new disease modifying treatment for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis called dimethyl fumarate. To determine if the trial findings reflected routine practice, I collected information on patient demographics, disease history and significant laboratory results. Patients were also invited to an interview where I used a purposefully-designed questionnaire to ask them in depth questions about their side effects, particularly the severity of the side effects, how they progressed over time and what strategies they tried to manage them. The results have informed clinicians on the ways that this newly approved treatment affects patients in routine clinical practice, and have provided guidance on how to manage the side effects. The information is to be communicated to patients via a local patient information leaflet which ultimately improves patient education and potentially adherence. Furthermore, following my project, research is under-way investigating patient risk factors for developing side effects with dimethyl fumarate.
This patient focused project has given me first hand experience of how pharmacy as a profession can have an impact on patients’ lives through the medium of research. Throughout my career I hope to be involved in similar research projects, with the objective of improving patient care, either by the evaluation of medical interventions or by providing information on areas which lack evidence. Recently, I have gained appreciation of research exploring how pharmaceutical services can impact health-related outcomes, and with the implementation of the Prescription for Excellence recommendations, I believe this type of research will be crucial. The more pharmacy as a profession is involved in research, the more it can have a positive impact on our health service.
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Enjoyed this blog? Read our blog by pre-reg Andrew Carruthers, How research changed the system.