Research in Wellington ICU

Information for patients, their families and whānau

We are strongly committed to promote and support research as a part of the care we provide every day. We recognise the contribution research has made to improving health and guiding clinical treatments, especially in Intensive Care.

All research we conduct has been approved by a Health and Disability Ethics Committee in New Zealand. This independent organisation ensures that all patients' rights and welfare are protected.

Many previous studies we have carried out have led to changes in the way we do things. This has improved outcomes for the critically ill patients we now look after.

There are several different types of research that can be carried out in ICU. Some examples are given below.

ANZICS ICU research poster

Research may include

  • Comparing different but common treatments
  • New uses for existing treatments
  • Clinical trials of new treatments
  • Observational studies
  • Asking about your experience with a health problem

Our research partners

Our research team work with a number of national and international research groups to ensure that studies will both improve patient care and are conducted correctly. We have a strong focus on clinician-led studies, with these organisations helping choose which studies we should contribute to, providing administrative, data collection and statistical support, and monitoring to oversee each study while it is in progress. Some of the main organisations we work with are described below.


Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Clinical Trials Group

Logo for Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society Clinical Trials Group

The ANZICS CTG is one of the world's leading ICU research groups. It is made up of a highly collegial, multi-disciplinary community of Intensive Care Clinicians & Researchers​.

The CTG is…

  • overseen by ANZICS, the Australasian professional ICU society
  • a collective of ICUs & dedicated researchers
  • committed to establishing networks of investigators
  • forming strong partnerships with external research bodies


Medical Research Institute of New Zealand

Logo for Medical Research Institute of New Zealand

MRINZ is an independent research organisation & registered charity based in Wellington. It works closely with Wellington ICU and has won many awards for ICU research.

We work with them because of…

  • Independence from government & industry pressures
  • Expertise in high-quality high-volume international studies
  • Education support in training future NZ researchers
  • Academic excellence with over 50 publications each year
  • Interests in many other areas including Māori and Pacific health, oxygen, asthma, obesity and medicinal cannabis

Taking part in a study

Not everyone admitted to ICU is able to take part in a study. Often certain conditions have to be met, such as having a specific illness or receiving a certain treatment. Research staff will screen patients to see if they are able to participate.

If you meet the conditions to be included in a study, a researcher may approach you to discuss taking part. This discussion will include

  • a full explanation of the study
  • how you will be involved
  • the benefits and risks of participating
  • what information is collected about you and how it will be used
  • how your privacy is protected

You will be given a copy of the study information sheet. Please read this carefully and ask any questions you may have. You may also want to discuss the study with your family or whānau before you make any decisions.

Four important things

  • Your involvement in research is completely voluntary (your choice). If you decide to take part in the study, you will be asked to sign a consent form saying that you understand what is required and that you have agreed to take part.
  • You can withdraw from a study at any time without having to explain why.
  • If you decide not to take part, or withdraw from a study, your treatment and the care you receive now or in the future will not be affected in any way.
  • You will not be paid for taking part in a study.

Wellington ICU has led a number of major studies that have changed Intensive Care practice. Some of these are described below.


    This New Zealand study compared two different types of fluid given to ICU patients across the world to see if the most commonly used - saline - increased the risk of kidney failure. The resulting study in 2278 patients showed that saline was safe in critically ill patients. The study was published in JAMA in 2015.


    This study compared the safety of two common medicines used to prevent stomach ulcers in patients on life-support. It enrolled almost 27,000 patients in 50 ICUs in 5 countries. The study showed that one type of drug may slightly increase the risk of dying, but decreases the risk of bleeding from an ulcer. The results were published in JAMA in 2020.


    This study compared two different targets for giving oxygen to patients on life support in the ICU with one group receiving as little oxygen as possible to maintain targets and the other receiving normal care. The study, in 1000 patients in 21 Australian & New Zealand ICUs, showed that giving either low or higher levels of oxygen to ICU patients did not cause harm. The research was published in the NEJM in 2020.

  • MegaROX

    MegaROX is currently underway in many countries around the world. When complete, it will have recruited over 40,000 patients, making it the largest ICU study ever conducted. Similar to ICU-ROX, it compares giving different levels of oxygen to patients and will definitively answer the question as to whether giving high amounts of oxygen to the critically ill could be harmful.

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