Name: Tim Glass
Department: Warwick Medical School
Project Department: Emergency care and rehabilitation research group: Warwick Clinical Trial Unit
Supervisor: Professor Martin Underwood
Why does your URSS project interest you?
I worked at the Wolfson laboratories at CTSU (Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit) University of Oxford for 18 months immediately prior to starting Fast-track Medicine at the University of Warwick and so witnessed clinical trials from the inside. This URSS project is a fantastic opportunity to gain an in-depth knowledge of evidence-based medicine as it applies to the use of complementary therapies in the treatment of lower back pain. Pain is an area of great interest to me as there is still so much we do not understand.
What are you hoping to achieve through your URSS project?
I want to be a clinical scientist with expertise in design and conduct of randomised controlled trials. To achieve this I need to demonstrate that I can publish original work in this area. The Fast-track Medicine course at Warwick is intense with little timetabled time available for scientific enquiry, so I am keen to use personal time to experience the process of producing a published literature review. Academic medicine is highly competitive and I am determined to gain as much experience as possible to help get the job of my choosing in the future.
What new skills are you hoping to develop?
I would like to develop my research and presentation skills and gain a deeper knowledge of conducting literature reviews in relation to the development of complex interventions to be used in randomised controlled trials. This work is required to develop a proposal for a feasibility study into acupuncture effectiveness, something I would be very excited to be a part of. The scholarship will provide the support necessary to tackle this challenge and offer help and advice, should I need it. In addition, it will enable me to further develop my communication skills through sharing my experience with current/future URSS students.
What contribution to knowledge could your URSS project make?
There is good evidence that adding acupuncture to usual care for back pain is effective. The evidence for a specific effect of acupuncture needling when compared to a sham procedure is, however, very weak. Currently there is not a robust theoretical model for how acupuncture treatments might work that integrates the specific biological processes, the patient/practitioner interaction, context factors and patient characteristics. Such a model has potential to form the basis of future research and policy on complementary medical treatments. This URSS project will develop the model and identify the existing evidence to support the role of each component.