Jane Davies awarded PhD for her thesis into peripheral arterial disease

February 2, 2015

Dr Jane Davies has been awarded her PhD Dr Jane Davies, Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, has been awarded a PhD for her thesis, “A contemporary examination of screening for peripheral arterial disease for the purpose of cardiovascular risk assessment.”

Jane qualified as a Registered Nurse in 1997. She has worked in the fields of vascular surgery, primary care and emergency medicine, in the UK and abroad, before spending the last eight years in research-related roles.

Her first research opportunity arose when she took a five-year post as a research nurse in Cardiff’s Wound Healing Research Unit.

“This allowed me to experience first-hand how research projects could directly benefit patients in my care,” she said.

In October 2011, she was given an opportunity to bring together all of her nursing experience by embarking on a PhD as part of a Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS); this is a major European convergence programme which supports collaborative research projects with external commercial partners, Huntleigh Healthcare.

About the research

Her PhD examined peripheral arterial disease, the less well-known branch of cardiovascular disease which relates to the narrowing or obstruction of the arteries in the legs.

Research has shown that individuals with PAD have a three-to-six-fold increased risk of cardiovascular death compared to those who don’t have it.

“The main symptom of PAD is pain in the legs when walking, says Jane. “However, up to two thirds of individuals with PAD in a community setting have no symptoms at all. This has resulted in increasing calls for PAD screening programmes to identify these people and enable instigation of secondary preventive strategies to reduce their cardiovascular risk. Hence the aim of my research was to provide a comprehensive investigation of PAD screening and its associated issues.”

Jane’s research comprised four inter-related studies, the most significant of which involved screening around 400 patients for peripheral arterial disease in a primary care setting.

“One key objective was to adopt a ‘patient focused’ research methodology and I achieved this, for example, by meeting some patients in their own homes to make participation in the research project easier.”

“The extensive support I received from the University of South Wales was fundamental to the successful completion of my research. My supervisory team represented a broad range of research expertise that was highly relevant to my studies. The additional support provided via KESS, in terms of training and funding for equipment, conference attendance etc., as well as the opportunity to gain experience working with a commercial partner, resulted in an amazing research experience for me.

Prof Joyce Kenkre, one of her supervisors, said: “The research project undertaken by Jane Davies has created collaborative links with Huntleigh and the standard of this was acknowledged by gaining a MediWales Award. It also created excellent links with Cwm Taf University Health Board where the research was acknowledged as conducted to excellent quality standard.”

Jane added: “My progression through the research process from project conception and design, gaining ethical approval, implementation of studies, data analysis and dissemination of results, has been challenging but also extremely worthwhile.

“I have presented my research at international conferences in Madrid and Chicago; I won a Mediwales award in 2013 for achieving collaboration between the NHS and academia with a commercial organisation; and I was shortlisted for the RCN Wales Nurse of the Year research award.

Having completed her PhD in January, Jane is now applying for funding to pursue post-doctoral research, and is also working for her PhD partner company Huntleigh Healthcare, on a consultancy basis, continuing to assist with their research agenda and product development.

“In the long-term, I hope to incorporate my research knowledge and skills into a clinical nursing role,” she says.

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