RACGP Foundation rewards outstanding research

Morgan Liotta

9/12/2022 1:46:19 PM

Preventive care in the elderly, paediatric care, climate change and rural workforce: the broad focus areas of this year’s winning projects.

Award winners
(L–R) Dr Catherine Pendrey, Professor Mark Nelson and Dr Tasnuba Pervez.

The RACGP Foundation Grants and Awards program is designed to showcase general practice research that provides an evidence base to inform and improve practice and patient outcomes.
The 2022 recipients of the RACGP Foundation Awards were announced at GP22.
Peter Mudge Medal
The Peter Mudge Medal is awarded annually to an RACGP Fellow who has advanced the discipline of general practice and the goals of the college, and whose original research has the most potential to significantly influence daily general practice.
Professor Mark Nelson is the 2022 recipient for his project, ‘LDL-C and mortality outcomes amongst healthy older adults not taking lipid-lowering agents’, which was funded by an RACGP Foundation/HCF Research Foundation Grant.
Receiving the Peter Mudge Medal is ‘especially gratifying’ for Professor Nelson, who was close with the late Peter Mudge and replaced him as Professor of General Practice at the University of Tasmania in 2005. He is also grateful for the peer collaboration on the project.
‘Although this is an individual award, it is also in recognition of the contribution of 3000 GPs who are part of the ASPREE team and the talented post-doc, Dr Zhen Zhou, who did the analytical work,’ Professor Nelson told newsGP.
As principal investigator on the ‘Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly’ (ASPREE) study, Professor Nelson conducted an international clinical trial with participants in Australia and the US investigating the effectiveness of aspirin as a preventive therapy.
He is hoping that his winning project can make a positive impact on providing care to older patients in general practice.
‘I often hear GPs downplaying the results of research studies because they were not done on a typical patient. There is some truth to the statement,’ he said.
‘The good thing about the studies I have been involved with over the last 25 years is they are large enough that they are reliable indicators of the truth and are conducted in general practice on the aged – a neglected group in research.
‘The main message from this analysis is that LDL-C [low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol] is a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality, even in quite advanced age in those that have never had an event.’
A ‘logical next step’ to the observational LDL-C study, according to Professor Nelson, is to conduct an interventional study to see if treating dyslipidaemia is safe and effective in older people.
This is well underway with the ‘Statins in Reducing Events in the Elderly’ (STAREE) study, for which recruitment of almost 10,000 participants is near complete.
‘Again, there are 3000 GP co-investigators and 1500 practices right around the country involved [in STAREE],’ he said.
‘We will be able to ascertain if the potential benefits of statins such as a reduction in heart attacks and strokes is offset by the potential harms such as muscle symptoms and cognitive decline.’
Alan Chancellor Award
The Alan Chancellor Award is presented each year to the GP or GP in training considered to be the best first-time presenter of a research paper at the RACGP’s annual conference. 
Dr Catherine Pendrey’s GP22 presentation, ‘Is climate change exacerbating healthcare workforce shortages for underserved populations?’ earned her this year’s award.
‘It’s an absolute honour to be recognised as an emerging researcher in the field of general practice,’ she told newsGP.
During medical school, Dr Pendrey undertook an extended rural placement and completed a medical elective in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In 2017, she moved to the Northern Territory to undertake general practice training in Alice Springs, Katherine and the remote Central Australia region, before obtaining RACGP Fellowship in 2019.
Having always had an interest in rural health, she obtained her Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in 2020.
Dr Pendrey’s winning presentation focused on improving workforce shortages as a possible solution to environmental impacts on rural communities.
‘There are already many challenges to bolstering rural medical workforce,’ she said.
‘Our study demonstrated that we now also need to plan and account for climate change – which both increases community health needs, but also disrupts our health system’s capacity to respond.’
Once she completes her Masters of Applied Epidemiology Scholar program, Dr Pendrey plans to integrate her clinical practice with ongoing research and advocacy.
‘[I want to look at] addressing how general practice can adapt to the many challenges we now face, including climate change,’ she said.
RACGP Foundation Best Poster Prize
This is awarded to the best research poster at GP22, with Sydney-based GP Dr Tasnuba Pervez collecting the award for her poster detailing ‘What is high quality paediatric care in general practice?’.
Dr Pervez told newsGP she is ‘grateful and thrilled’ that the RACGP has recognised the work of her team.
‘There is an important need for research in this area, which will hopefully improve the quality of practice by all clinicians and therefore promote better outcomes for our patients,’ she said.
‘I have been inspired to continue working hard within this area as an early academic researcher.’
Dr Pervez, who initially trained in paediatrics at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead before switching to general practice, wants to provide a blueprint of what high-quality paediatric care within general practice and the community ‘should and could’ look like for GPs and paediatricians, as well as parents and carers.
‘I hope [my project] inspires steps towards making this happen at a system, practice and individual level,’ she said.
‘And that it leads to more research in this area, including through the work Western Sydney University is doing on indicators and measures of high quality general practice through QUEST PHC.’
As a conjoint associate lecturer at Western Sydney University teaching medical students, Dr Pervez undertook her project during her academic post, and now plans to publish the findings and look towards further research within this area.
‘I also look forward to seeing what conversations this work may generate and how it can translate into clinical practice,’ she said.
Full details of the 2022 RACGP Foundation Grants and Awards recipients are available on the RACGP website.
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Dr Ian   13/12/2022 10:02:50 AM

If those of advanced age (70-75 ? ) with high LDL need lowering of LDL , diet change and moderate steady safe exercise before taking statins would seem appropriate.
Exercise and mindfulness is good for mental health and hopefully keeps cognition steady and some say their is no ceiling in terms of time .
So 10 ,000 steps a day or equivalent is an option as is a lot of mindfulness yoga meditation music painting gardening and other activities.
If Statin are shown to reduce stroke and myocardial infarction and/or extend longevity it is obligated to check often for muscle damage memory effects and impaired glucose tolerance as these side effects may well occur more often than in the younger populations .