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Student wins award for clinical trial evaluation skills

Former BBC Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross last week presented Elizabeth Blamire of Anglia Ruskin University with the £500 first prize in a competition inviting nursing and midwifery students to evaluate clinical research protocols.

The competition was run by the HealthWatch charity, with categories for both nursing and midwifery students, and medical students. The prizes were presented at the organisation’s annual meeting last week at the Medical Society of London.

Speaking at the event, Mr Ross, the charity’s president, emphasised the critical importance of training future healthcare professionals to evaluate clinical trials.

HealthWatch is concerned that healthcare professionals and the lay public are being inundated with publicity about new, and allegedly more effective treatments that are based on poorly designed trials and unsubstantiated claims.

Research clinical scientist and HealthWatch committee member Walli Bounds added: “Nurses and midwives are frequently the first port of call when patients seek advice about whether to trust media reports about a new wonder drug.”

The competition was open to all nursing and midwifery students in the UK. Entrants appraised four hypothetical research protocols, ranking them on a scale of one to four, according to which one was most likely to provide a reliable answer to the stated aim of the trial.

The protocols concerned herbal treatment for menopausal symptoms; glucosamine for osteoarthritis in the knee; the use of emollients in childhood atopic dermatitis and breathing exercises for people with asthma.

Ms Bounds told the HealthWatch meeting: “Unlike previous years the competition not only attracted a much better response from nurses and midwives, but their entries were also of a high standard – 62% ranked the protocols in the right order.”

Runners-up in the nursing and midwifery student category were Adam Peel, of the University of East Anglia, Hanadi Katerji of City University, and Georgia Poole, of Southampton University.

HealthWatch will shortly be announcing the details of the forthcoming competition for nursing and midwifery students.

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