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More than numbers: Why use focus groups?

14 Jun, 16 | by Guest Post

Dr Jess Morgan, working in the University of York, has taken time out from writing up a massive mixed-methods study to splurge on why you might like to use focus groups in your research study. You see, they aren’t just a way of getting a tonne of interviews done without having to do all the driving between coffee shops.

There are loads of different reasons that you might choose to use focus group discussions instead of individual interviews when carrying out qualitative health research. I’m going to outline my top six (there are more but six seems just about enough)….


(Guest post) No more broken backs

24 May, 16 | by Guest Post

131001donkeystraw1In this guest post, Gabriella Morley reflects on her experience as a just-qualified doctor in paediatrics in Birmingham, UK, and what the experience of the “Learning From Excellence” model feels like to those under the greatest strain at the moment – junior doctors in England.

It could probably be said that this was one of the most turbulent and uncertain years for doctors in the NHS. Yet the contractual dispute was the proverbial last straw causing the final break in our backs. For a long time now, morale in the NHS has been fading.

I didn’t really get this though before I started life as an FY1 back in August ’15. How could people be dissatisfied, frustrated or, frankly, just down right fed up when they are doing, what I perceive, is a very meaningful job?Of course that’s naive, but until you’re in its hard to fully appreciate just how stretched the system is. Now I know, there is a constant in our hospitals which is a backdrop to our day: tension. It’s almost palpable. We feel under pressure constantly quite simply because there is demand greater than our supply. The beds are full, the A and E swamped and ‘crisis’ is becoming a norm. We worry about what our next shift might have in store for us as the rota gaps get more prevalent and the workload intensifies. We are scared that this struggling system may mean we slip causing damage to the very people we so badly want to help. It’s thus not surprising that morale, “the level of psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future”, is looking a bit peaky.


Guest Post: Asking questions – engaging children and young people in healthcare

23 Mar, 16 | by Guest Post

IMG_0196Listening to children, young people and their families enables us to get a better picture of what it is like for them, their lives and experiences, this in turn enhances our practise and impacts on the service we can effect and deliver. How-ever each presentation is unique in nature, each patient is individual, and a situation can change within a blink of an eye, or a touch of a button.

Asking questions within the context of paediatric care, and finding the right language is important to both the health care professional and the child or young person.

Guest Post: Experience of running a PPI group

9 Feb, 16 | by Guest Post

030414_2232_Breathdeepb1.jpgWe’ve discussed before on this blog the possible benefits of public/patient involvement in research, and how it might be done, but in this guest post from Jemma Cleminson we get an insight into the challenges of doing it in real life.
With many of the big funders of research now expecting involvement of patients and the public (aka ‘PPI’) from the earliest stages of research, right through to dissemination of the results and beyond (and quite rightly too!), it is vital that we recognise and acknowledge this increasingly important area. Involving PPI from an early stage can help to ensure that your research is relevant, makes sense, and is useful for the people for which it is intended to benefit.


Guest Blog: Do All Roads Lead to Rome?

22 Jan, 16 | by Guest Post

EBP triadBack in the mists of time, you may recall we described EBM as the combination of best evidence, clinical expertise and patient values. Which is pretty straightforward. But how to tell you have the best evidence might be a bit tricky – the RAMBo and FAST routes can appraise what you’ve got, but how to tell if you’ve actually got the right papers? As our guest blogger Sheeraz Khan asks – do all (search) roads lead to Rome?


Guest post: The scary thing about research

8 Jan, 16 | by Guest Post

The_ScreamYou know that question that always comes up after a journal club/critical review of a paper session – “so where do we go from here?” and you also know the standard answer – “more research is needed”.  Have you ever thought about why you use that answer? Well, firstly, its what we were taught from the moment we first started appraising papers, but, moving past that, could there be other reasons too?

Of course, in many cases, we may actually need to do more research but, in others maybe… just maybe… we don’t need more research. Maybe we say we want more research for other reasons.

Guest Post: “Not the brightest tool in the box…”

20 Nov, 15 | by Guest Post

622780860_8bb2466176_oAnother guest blog from @gourmetpenguin on the topic of clinical academia brings up an EXCELLENT point that’s often assumed, incorrectly. That is that to be a clinical academic, you need to be really clever. Well …
I spent a weekend at the Clinical Academic Trainees conference in Sheffield in 2015. This is still quite a bizarre thing for me to say, because I never wanted to be a clinical academic. The truth is that it just didn’t occur to me that it was “my” kind of thing. Academia is for clever, brainy people who understand things like thermodynamics and calculus – that’s not me.


Guest Post: Being a Clinical Academic

30 Oct, 15 | by Guest Post

LabPhillipsFresh from all sorts of Deep Thinking and engaging with a broad range of research, it’s time to turn back to thinking about Turning the Tide and increasing the number of paediatrician types actively doing research as a large chunk of their jobs – clinical academics. Where training systems are in place, and encouragement is available, there’s something a bit odd about stepping off the usual escalators and moving to do something different.

A regular contributor to the @ADC_BMJ social media scene, @gourmetpenguin, provides her thoughts below on what it’s like to live that life … and if you’re intrigued and in the UK, there’s a Conference for those who are, who want to be, or who are just curious going on in Sheffield on 7th November


Guest Post: How do you decide that a child has sepsis (or not)?

27 Oct, 15 | by Guest Post


This Guest Post is asking for your help – your thoughts – on the identification of an Unwell Child. Please – read on and link to the survey at the end ….

The introduction of Paediatric Sepsis 6 along with the recently released guidance notes has caused clinicians and organisations to look at the way that sepsis is identified and treated.
It is a problem that presents different challenges to different disciplines within medicine. A primary care or ED clinician must avoid over-diagnosis while at the same time referring a cohort of possible sepsis and presumptively starting treatment when sepsis is most likely. The secondary care paediatrician will reassess the referrals that may include paediatric sepsis and decide when to treat and when to observe or discharge. The paediatric intensivist will be involved for the most significant cases on admission. Those caring for inpatients will have to use a totally different threshold for considering sepsis, especially when the child is already ill or has compromised immunity.

Medicine has so far failed to find a test for paediatric sepsis. Guidelines point towards red flags but all of them ultimately require a clinician to make a decision.


Guest Blog: Introduction to Trans*

23 Oct, 15 | by Guest Post


There has never been a time in which it is more important for healthcare professionals to be knowledgeable about LGBT (and specifically transgender) issues. This is not limited to adult medicine – many transgender individuals are aware of their feelings from a young age.

What follows are a few general definitions (adapted from my post on Geeky Medics, which can be found here) followed by a more paediatric-specific discussion, with some useful references.

Gender, sex and sexuality are three distinct classifications.

Sex is a biological categorisation – male, female or intersex. This is defined by a number of features; including internal and external reproductive organs and sex chromosomes.


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