By Stephanie Teo
Chief Nurse
SingHealth Polyclinics

  • A crosssectional study on smoking behaviour of asthmatic patients in primary care
  • Identifying factors that influence living kidney donation in Singapore

I am passionate about research because I believe it can help us to identify and address patient needs, and ultimately bring about better patient outcomes.    One of my studies sought to understand why our asthmatic patients continued to smoke cigarette, despite it being a known trigger of asthma exacerbation. 

The study revealed that these patients started smoking at a young age, and continued to do so due to peer pressure, smoking influences at home and as a way to relieve stress.   When they abstained from smoking, they experienced restlessness and mood swings. So about half of them continued to smoke even when they were ill.   These findings provided insights for us to review our current health education programme to address their behavior and needs, thereby encouraging smoking cessation.

Research can also begin by speaking to like-minded people who share a similar passion for research. It was through such conversations that I was invited to collaborate in research studies.

For instance, I had the opportunity to work with other doctors and allied health colleagues to understand the public’s attitude towards living donor kidney donation in Singapore. It was found that demographic factors and concerns of risks and ill health after transplant influenced their willingness to donate a kidney while alive. 

Working with different people has allowed me to learn from them, and at the same time, sharpen my proficiency in carrying out different research studies.

Currently, my team and I are working to initiate a phase II study to address the findings on women’s practices in infant nutrition.   Our phase I study showed that mothers preferred web-based portals for information to attending health education programmes at clinics due to time constraint.   This enlightened us on the need to improve current clinical practices to meet the needs of busy working mothers.

Research begins by asking questions, seeking new knowledge in hopes of applying them in a particular area that would be helpful to the patients we want to help.