Rachel Clarkson researches views of patients and nurses on the management of ankle fractures using an AV foot pump


Rachel Lisa Clarkson, Research Nurse at South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded a Florence Nightingale Foundation research scholarship to fund the study for the final year of her master’s degree. The study is titled ‘What are the views of patients and nurses on the management of ankle fractures using an AV foot pump?’ We spoke to Rachel to find out a bit more about her project.

How did you find out about the Florence Nightingale Foundation research scholarships?
I first met Professor Elizabeth Robb at the South Tees Nightingale Awards in 2014 when I presented ‘A day in the life of a research nurse’. She approached me and suggested I apply for a scholarship to fund the final year of my master’s degree.

Can you give us some background about your research?
A large proportion of ankle fractures require surgery, which cannot take place in the event of excessive swelling due to an increased risk of infection and the wound breaking down. Reducing swelling to an acceptable level can take up to five days with the patient in hospital, placing a substantial burden on inpatient beds, finances and distress for the patients. Available literature indicates AV foot pumps are effective in reducing swelling, however anecdotal evidence indicates a high percentage of patients are found to be non-compliant but, at present, there is no research exploring why.

A study allowing this patient population and the nurses caring for them, to speak through semi-structured interviews will benefit this area greatly, potentially decreasing the number of in-patient beds, finances and most importantly the patients themselves.

What do you hope to achieve?
I hope to have a better understanding of what the problems with the foot pumps are so that procedures can be adopted to help the patients become compliant. This could result in an increase in the number of available hospital beds and have a positive impact on finances and patients’ quality of life while in hospital.

What research methods will you use to achieve your objectives?
I interviewed four patients and four members of staff through semi-structured qualitative interviews between May and July 2015 and the research is now at the data analysis stage.

The interviews were not as I expected. They were a lot shorter than I imagined but my biggest surprise was how, at times, I felt torn between my role as a researcher and my role as a nurse. For example, when one patient was not compliant with the device and the ward staff were unaware of this; my instincts as a nurse were to inform the medical team treating him. However, the interviews were confidential so, in order to overcome this problem, I spent some time educating the patient on the device and eventually he was able to tolerate it.

Will the scholarship make a difference to your career?
I believe the scholarship not only offers financial help but also introduces the scholars to like minded individuals who can assist with publications and encourage further research.

We will be following Rachel’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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