Newsletter No. 148

HK$4.7M for Four Research Projects Four research projects by staff of the University have attracted funding support from different quarters: • Data Fusion, Data Mining and Decision Support System: Bank Marketing in the Twenty-first Century (HK$3,499,000) Sponsor: Services Support Fund, Industry Department Principal investigator: Prof. Chan Chi-fai • Preventive Medicine Activities by Hong Kong Doctors (HK$278,450) Sponsor: Health Services Research Fund Principal investigator: Prof. James A. Dickinson • The Development of Secondary Students' English Language Abilities in Listening and Grammar in English Medium of Instruction Schools in Hong Kong: A Longitudinal Study (HK$620,403) Sponsor: Language Fund Principal investigator: Prof. David Coniam • Caring and Sharing for Society: Express Appreciation Express (HK$329,900) Sponsor: Quality Education Fund Principal investigator: Prof. Ho Man-koon Faculty of Medicine Monitors Male AIDS-related Sexual Behaviour in HK The Centre for Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Research, in collaboration w i th the Department of Community and Family Medicine, launched the territory's first research project to monitor the AIDS-related sexual behaviour of Hong Kong's male citizens. Funded by the Hong Kong AIDS Trust Fund, the project consists of annual surveys on the practice of unprotected sex and the incidence of self- reported sexually-transmitted diseases in Hong Kong. P r o f . Lee Sh i u - h u n g, co- investigator of the project and chair of the Department of Community and Family Medicine, explained that behavioural surveillance is of particular importance in the AIDS scenario as case-reporting a d sero-prevalence surveillance data are bound to be under-reported. It also serves to evaluate the summative efforts of all prevention programmes provided by different parties in the territory. Dr. Joseph Lau Tak-fai, principal investigator of the project and director of the Centre for Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Research, warned that a sizable proportion of Hong Kong's male population are engaging in sexual practices which may expose them to AIDS. According to Dr. Lau, 14.1 per cent of those who have a steady sex partner cheated, and 45 per cent of those who did not have one, turned to commercial sex. Faculty of Arts Holds Seminar for Secondary SchoolEducators Principals and teachers from over 40 secondary schools attended a career seminar organized by the Faculty of Arts on 15th May in the Cho Yiu Conference Hall. The seminar was the first of a series of events planned by the Faculty Information Interface Committee (FIIC) which was formed earlier this year by the Faculty of Arts to strengthen links between the University and secondary schools. The seminar, chaired by Prof. Lawrence Wong, chair of the FIIC, and officiated by Prof. Kwok Siu-tong, dean of the faculty, introduced the faculty's developments as well as the career prospects of its graduates to the secondary school educators. Representatives from all departments of the faculty spoke on the latest developments in the curricula, criteria of student intake, and the job market for their graduates, emphasizing that the programmes offered by the faculty are becoming increasingly congruent with societal needs. The departments are also designing new guidelines to help students map out course modules according to their career plans and interests. Du r i ng the seminar, the 'misconception that arts students have difficulty in finding jobs' was raised. Several speakers pointed out that arts graduates are often favoured by potential employers because of their strength in critical thinking and self-improvement. The secondary school educators were also given a chance to discuss with the faculty's representatives topics including the importance for students to choose their major subjects according to their interests and talents, the disadvantages of early streaming into arts and science in secondary schools, and prevalent misunderstandings about the humanities. Study Finds Insomnia Common Among HK's Elderly A study conducted by the Department of Psychiatry on the sleep habits and frequency of insomnia in the elderly population in Hong Kong revealed that insomnia is a common problem among the elderly and is associated with poor mental and physical health. The study, the first on the topic in the territory, interviewed a community sample of 1,034 elderly aged 70 years or over. The average sleep time was 6.4 hours with males generally sleeping longer than females. 38.2 per cent of the subjects complained of insomnia and of these, 13.7 per cent had frequent insomnia while 24.5 per cent had occasional insomnia. Females had a higher rate of insomnia but the rate did not increase with age. Factors associated with insomnia included poor perceived health, chronic phys i cal illness, depression, and events that happened in daily life. Only 2.8 per cent of the subjects had taken sleeping pills within a one-year period. Prof. Helen Chiu Fung-kum, chair of the Department of Psychiatry, said although the elderly are often expected to sleep less, frequent insomnia can be an indicator of poor quality of life.