Health Sciences

Lecturer of the Year and 3 Minute Thesis Winner

Peta Drury

In February this year, lecturer and PhD student, Peta Drury was a recipient of the 2010 UniJobs Lecturer of the Year Award.  This was an outstanding achievement which recognises the valuable contribution Peta has made to the ACU community and particularly to the ACU students whose lives she has touched through her teaching.

Following this award, in June Peta came second in ACU’s 3 Minute Thesis competition.  Peta’s thesis is based on research investigating how clinicians managed acute stroke patients who developed a fever or a high sugar level. The results of this study indicated that stroke patients who had a fever or a high sugar level were undertreated and that clinician behaviour needed to change. But changing clinician behaviour is no easy task, and to date there has been no ‘magic behaviour change bullet’ identified.

Peta explains: “Since the first phase of the study a new behaviour change intervention was implemented aimed at changing clinician behaviour and improving the management of fever and high sugar levels in stroke patients. It consisted of 3 components which included, new protocols or a new set of instructions on how to manage fever and high sugar levels, an education program which targeted clinician’s awareness of how important it is to manage high temperatures and high sugar levels and team building workshops encouraging the healthcare team to work together”.

The cluster randomised control trial was conducted across 19 hospitals in NSW to evaluate the effect of this intervention on clinician behaviour. In simple terms this trial involved dividing the 19 hospitals into 2 groups and only giving one group or only half of the hospitals, the education program and offering participation in the team building workshops. 

So did this approach to changing clinician behaviour work? There were more than 1600 patients in the study and the results indicated that for patients admitted to the hospitals where staff received the new protocols, were re-educated and participated in team building workshops, there were fewer patients who developed a fever, fewer patients develop high sugar levels, and an increase in swallowing monitoring. Importantly, as a result of these behaviour changes, less people died, or were dependent following their stroke and overall patients reported a better physical health.  Peta concludes, “What we now know as a result of this study is that, by changing clinician behaviour and doing the simple things well, like managing high fevers and high blood sugar levels we can make an enormous difference for stroke patients.”

 Congratulations to Peta for both the above accolades.