Antonella continues to research whether dietary and lifestyle interventions can modify disease progression in early cirrhosis of the liver in third year of study


Antonella Ghezzi, Digestive Diseases Nurse Lead at Queen’s Medical Centre, part of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, has been awarded a Florence Nightingale Foundation research scholarship to undertake her third year Doctor of Health and Social Care Practice degree. Her study is titled ‘Can dietary and lifestyle interventions modify disease progression in early cirrhosis of the liver?’

This is the second time NHS Professionals has sponsored Antonella’s research scholarship so we wanted to catch up with her to find out how her project has progressed.

You can find Antonella’s previous interview here.

What made you reapply for a scholarship with the Florence Nightingale Foundation?
The Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF) has given me the opportunity to continue my professional development with the aim of improving patient care. The Foundation is keen to support healthcare professionals who are dedicated to improving patient services through professional development and academic excellence. Having previously been awarded a scholarship for my research, I re-applied as I wanted the FNF’s support on this exciting nurse-led study so I can share any success with them.

Have the aims of your research remained the same?
Yes, the aims are the same. I want to show that a very simple nutritional assessment and care plan, including dietary and health promotion advice delivered during outpatient clinics, can improve quality of life. It is still my intention to involve and engage patients and users in research. Findings from this initial study will feed into an extensive project where patients will be involved in the designing and writing of the research protocol.

What is cirrhosis of the liver?
Cirrhosis of the liver is a disease that gets worse over time. It is a chronic disease but it can be managed at a community level with a lot of support and advice. The life span of the disease is extensive and varies case by case. There is a lot of stigma attached to the disease as it is thought to be linked primarily to alcohol abuse, however there are many cases of cirrhosis caused by infection, obesity and autoimmune conditions.

How has the project developed since you started?
Since receiving approval in May 2015, I have recruited four patients out of 21. One patient has attended a follow-up appointment, the second is due for their follow up next week and two more patients are in screening. My aim is to recruit 10 patients by the end of 2015.

What methods have you used so far?
Methodology includes a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The majority of the methods are quantitative and consist of blood tests, dexa scanning, questionnaires and dietary interventions. Patients’ comments, views and perspectives will be collected to comprise the qualitative portion of the data.

Have you faced any challenges?
Yes, the main challenge is to offer the right appointment to the patients. I need to coordinate care from the dieticians and the dexa scanning team alongside my time and the patient’s time. It is challenging combining all of us together at the same time. It is also a challenge to find the right patients. Inclusion criteria is tight (due to specific parameters), so it is my intention to slightly modify the inclusion criteria to be able to offer the study to a wider group.

What do you hope to achieve?
I would like to achieve an improvement in quality of life, biomarkers and imaging from baseline to post intervention after 6 months (duration of the study per patient).

What are your future plans after completing your research?
This is a pilot study to ensure that the methods, tests, and parameters of the research are suitable. I would like to design a bigger study, possibly a randomised controlled trail (RCT) in the future.

We will be following Antonella’s research progress over the next year and look forward to seeing the results. 

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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