Test to help pre­dict sui­cide shares re­search prize

Irish Independent - - NEWS - Kather­ine Don­nelly Ed­u­ca­tion Ed­i­tor

A COM­PUTER-BASED test to help iden­tify those at risk of sui­cide and a study of whether the pre­scrip­tion levy causes med­i­cal-card pa­tients to stop tak­ing im­por­tant medicine shared the hon­ours in a com­pe­ti­tion re­ward­ing Ir­ish re­search tal­ent.

PhD stu­dents Ian Hussey of NUI Maynooth and Sarah-Jo Sin­nott of Univer­sity Col­lege Cork each won €2,500 for their en­tries to the Mak­ing an Im­pact com­pe­ti­tion, which they pre­sented to sec­ond-level stu­dents and an ex­pert panel.

The com­pe­ti­tion, spon­sored by the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent and the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Author­ity (HEA), is de­signed to en­cour­age stu­dents to com­mu­ni­cate their re­search to a lay au­di­ence and five fi­nal­ists pre­sented from hun­dreds of en­tries.

Mr Hussey – part of the De­part­ment of Psychology, NUI Maynooth, team work­ing with St Pa­trick's Hospi­tal, Dublin – was im­pressed with how an “im­plicit at­ti­tudes” test can iden­tify those feel­ing sui­ci­dal thoughts with 75pc ac­cu­racy.

Rather than ques­tion­naires or in­ter­views, the test mea­sures re­ac­tion times to cer­tain ques­tions. A com­puter al­go­rithm can then re­veal un­con­scious bi­ases that are used to pre­dict ac­tual be­hav­iour.

Ms Sin­nott, of the De­part­ment of Epi­demi­ol­ogy and Pub­lic Health at UCC, wants to fill a knowl­edge gap about the im­pact of med­i­cal-card pa­tients paying to­wards pre­scrip­tions.

Among her con­cerns is whether the €1.50 levy – and at what point – may cause card hold­ers to stop tak­ing medicine to the detri­ment of their own health and po­ten­tially cost­ing the health ser­vice even more.

“This ev­i­dence will pro­vide pol­i­cy­mak­ers with a guide­line on what type of co-pay­ment is suf­fi­cient to re­duce waste on the med­i­cal-card scheme, yet doesn't cause ad­verse harm to pa­tients,” she said.

MARK CON­DREN

Kather­ine Don­nelly (front left), Ed­u­ca­tion Ed­i­tor of the Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent, and Tom Boland, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Author­ity, with fi­nal­ists in the Mak­ing an Im­pact com­pe­ti­tion (from left) joint win­ner Ian Hussey, Mary Galvin, Sarah...

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