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A doctor attaching a catheter to a patient.

A QCIF biostatistician has played a key role in helping Sunshine Coast University Hospital researchers get their research paper, which looks at the relationship between urinary catheters and infections, published in an international journal.

QCIF Senior Biostatistician Dr Farah Zahir started working with medical staff from the hospital last year as part of the biostatistics consultancy service QCIF Bioinformatics provides to the hospital for its research and statistical needs.

Dr Andrew Clawson, an Emergency Department Resident Medical Officer, and Dr Shradha Subedi, an infectious diseases physician, asked Farah to explore correct statistical analyses options for their research project and help them conduct those analyses.

Their project examined the characteristics and outcomes of adult inpatients with indwelling urinary catheters (IDCs) inserted in hospital and identified risk factors for developing catheter associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and blood stream infections (BSI).

The resulting paper was published in the Infection, Disease & Health (IDH) journal on 20 June 2022.

IDH is a global platform for the publication of original knowledge that fundamentally advances the prevention and control of infection in human populations.

The paper showed evidence of an association between the longer duration of IDCs and an elevated risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI). The researchers recommended that interventions targeted at reducing the number of days of catheter usage can improve CAUTI rates. No differences were found between medical and surgical patients in the development of both CAUTI and BSI.

Dr Andrew Clawson had high praise for QCIF’s biostatistics service and said Farah’s expertise in statistical analysis created the foundation of the paper’s findings.

“Farah was an integral part of our team,” Andrew said. “She was committed to ensuring we were able to complete the highest quality paper and research possible. She was timely, reliable and professional. I’m not confident our paper would have been accepted without her input.

“Her review and insights on how to accomplish as strong a paper as possible undoubtedly led to our paper’s acceptance.”

Farah said it was a pleasure working with Andrew and the team. “I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project due to its clinical relevance and public health importance,” she said.

The research team performed a retrospective observational study of 430 patients with IDC admitted to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital between November 2019 and April 2020.

Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to determine independent risk factors for developing UTIs and BSIs.

The results showed that 7.4% of the project’s sample group developed CAUTI. Results of multiple logistic regression indicated that with each day of IDC in situ, the likelihood of UTI development increased by 9% and that age, gender, and catheter reinsertion were not found to be associated with UTI development.