Third year Warwick medical student Stephanie Soyombo was awarded the prize for Best Student Research Project at the British Journal of General Practice Research Conference last month, in recognition of her work looking at reducing use of benzodiazepines in primary care. We caught up with her to find out more about her project.
Can you tell us a bit about the background of your project?
It’s known that benzodiazepines (a group of sedative drugs that include diazepam) are prescribed in large quantities in primary care, with over 14 million prescriptions written in 2017. However, these drugs also have side effects and are associated with dependence (addiction). In order to develop interventions to help reduce the inappropriate use of benzodiazepines in primary care, we first need to understand the factors that drive prescribing.
What was the aim of your project?
My aim was to identify whether there is an association between the prescribing of benzodiazepines in primary care in England and socioeconomic deprivation. In a nutshell, we wanted to see whether deprivation and other factors, such as the age and biological sex make-up of GP practice patient lists, influence the level of prescribing of benzodiazepines in GP practices.
What did your research find?
My research found that there is a significant link between prescribing levels and deprivation; specifically, GP practices with a more deprived patient population tend to prescribe more benzodiazepines. However, we did also demonstrate that other factors are likely to contribute to prescribing, and further work needs to be done to identify these.
Where did you present your work?
I was selected to deliver an oral presentation on my work at the British Journal of General Practice Research Conference in London on 29 March. My presentation was entitled “Socioeconomic deprivation and benzodiazepine / Z-drug prescribing: a cross-sectional study of practice-level data in England” and it was a great experience!
How does it feel to have won the award?
I feel incredibly honoured to have received this award! All of the speakers at the conference were wonderfully engaging and passionate about their research. It’s heartening to see such a high level of commitment to improving the standards of clinical care for our patients. I would encourage all those thinking about getting involved in research to absolutely do so.
My research began humbly as an 8-week Student Selected Component of my medical degree, yet its findings are of national importance and provide a basis for further work that may eventually help reduce the negative impact of inappropriate benzodiazepine prescribing on patients. The award itself was an unexpected but warmly welcome success! I am very thankful for the support of my co-authors and supervisor at Warwick Medical School.