Current Research | Practice Healthcare Setting

The Practice Healthcare Setting group advances, promotes and secure health professional education research; develops a programme of health professional education research and encourages the sharing of research ideas

Dysphagia screening tool for acute stroke patients

This screening tool, designed and developed by PhD student Dr Kathryn Head, a Clinical Lead Speech and Language Therapist, can immediately determine whether newly diagnosed stroke patients show signs of impaired swallowing and need referral for a full swallow assessment when admitted to hospital. More details.


Impact of a course on managing critically ill patients

Research team
Dr Ray Higginson and Mrs Bridie Jones

Despite the introduction of early warning scores (EWS) recognition and timely intervention to address the development of acute illness remains a problem. Clinical decisions based upon EWS scores are influenced by the recording nurse’s confidence, training, clinical knowledge and her competence in using EWS. There is a strong case to make for the improved training of nurses, both qualified and student, in using EWS to ensure correct data recording and appropriate clinical actions. This in turn is directly related to other influential factors such as increased staff competence, confidence, and self efficacy. This study will evaluate the impact of a five week professional REACT course on attitudes and confidence amongst nursing staff in managing critically ill patients.


Barriers to learning Physiology in the nursing curriculum

Dr Ray Higginson

Physiology is an integral component of any nursing curriculum. The physiological basis of disease means that biological and physiological knowledge is vital if student nurses are to make correct clinical decisions. However, previous studies have highlighted the problem of teaching and learning physiology within the medical, paramedical and nursing professions. There is a growing awareness within the physiology community that nursing students in particular are having difficulty with learning and understanding physiology, and that they need assistance. Anecdotal evidence suggests that misconceptions about human biology and conceptual difficulties related to complex physiological phenomena act as barriers when learning human physiology.
This study will identify and then explore such barriers in a sample of undergraduate nursing students at the University. Initially, students’ understanding of important physiological phenomena will be obtained to determine whether students truly understand what the curriculum expects them to understand. In addition, the study will ascertain what undergraduate nursing students find difficult to understand about the physiology they have to learn. As lecturers, it is essential that we know what our students find hard to understand if we are to succeed in helping them learn.


Students’ experience of Authentic World medication dosage software

Research team
Professor Keith Weeks and Dr Ray Higginson

Numeracy is a key skill for professional practice in nursing. From September 2008 the body regulating the profession in the UK (the Nursing and Midwifery Council, NMC) has required nursing students to achieve 100% in a test of numeracy in practice before they will be allowed to register as nurses. However, previous studies have shown that a significant proportion of pre-registration nursing students lack adequate mathematical knowledge and skills, required for safe and effective clinical practice. Many factors influence students’ ability to perform medicine dosage calculations safely. The ability to use mathematical and numeracy skills varies greatly and difficulties emerging early on in life can persist through to adulthood. Previous research together with anecdotal evidence suggests that student nurses often bring with them certain perceptions about mathematics and numeracy and many express fear and anxiety about their ability to perform medication dosage calculations. High-math-anxiety students have been shown to score poorly when asked to perform mathematic / numeracy test.

This research project has three aims:

  • To explore students’ experiences of using Authentic World
  • To explore issues around numeracy skills acquisition and learning
  • To explore students’ prior mathematical experiences


Women’s help-seeking behaviour at the onset of Myocardial Infarction

Dr Ray Higginson

Few studies have explored factors affecting women’s decisions to seek medical assistance at the onset of cardiac symptoms, such as myocardial infarction. Although some studies have shown that there are gender differences between men and women in terms of how they cope with heart disease, few have explored how women actually experience having a myocardial infarction and what influences women’s help seeking behaviour when experiencing one. Those studies that have been undertaken suggest that women often fail to recognise the signs of myocardial infarction and delay seeking treatment for symptoms of myocardial infarction longer than men.

This qualitative study will explore the female experience of having a myocardial infarction, focusing on and elucidating some of the thought processes and coping strategies employed by women when experiencing myocardial infarction and how these impact on help seeking behaviour.