December 2, 2020

Research Project by Griffith University Student Looking to Uncover Public Awareness of the RUM Project

Shams is a student at Griffith University, and is currently undertaking a research project on the RUM Project as part of her Master of Pharmacy degree. We recently spoke with Shams about the project and what the research hopes to uncover.

Can you tell us about the RUM research project you are involved with?

The RUM research project I am involved with is part of my Master of Pharmacy degree that I am doing at Griffith University. I am quite happy that I got approved to participate in this project, it caught my attention from the beginning, and it was on my top three list of preferences. This research project is a continuation study to research that was done in 2016 by Griffith University, where people were surveyed and interviewed about their awareness of unwanted medicines and where should they be disposed of. They were also educated about the RUM project at the time.
This project is re-surveying those who were involved in the past study to explore their awareness and practices towards unwanted medicines. The RUM project aims to reduce medicines improper disposal which can be contaminating to the environment and the wildlife, as well as waterways and drinking water. In addition, unwanted medicines at home can cause toxicities due to expiration or drug interactions. Improper self-medication can lead to hospital admissions, especially for children.
We are aiming to spread awareness to the Australian public about properly disposing of medicines by returning them to the pharmacy and educate the public on why they need to properly dispose of their unwanted medicines.

What has the process been like so far? How long will the research take?

Working with academics and senior researchers in addition to the RUM Project Manager has been a great experience for me, given that this is my first ever research project. All of us have been working hard to put this research together, we have weekly follow-up meetings where we discuss and reflect on what has been done so far and to plan our next steps. At the moment, we are at the point of surveying the participants. It is all working as planned. I am excited to see the results soon. The research proposal and survey preparation took around three months. Conducting the survey, data analysis, and writing up the thesis will take around 4 months to complete.

What key insights and findings are you hoping to find?

Our main goal is to explore the awareness of the Australian adults about proper medicine disposal, what disposal methods they are practicing and what effects COVID-19 has had on their practices. This research will help us find out ways of raising awareness and motivating the public to reduce improper medicines disposal for the public’s health safety and to reduce environmental pollution,

How would you like to take the research further?

I am excited to see the results of this research project which will help us build upon the findings to answer some unanswered questions, things like what would motivate people to take their unwanted medicines to the pharmacy. This will help us direct any future campaigns to address things that weren’t addressed before. We are also hoping that the publication of this research will get to as many health practitioners as possible, as they play an important role in educating and directing their patients to do the right thing.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We are all responsible for the public’s health and for keeping the environment healthy. Each of us plays an important role in doing the right thing and passing it on to others, it is important to properly dispose of medicine to avoid preventable harm to ourselves and our loved ones.



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