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PenCLAHRC Matters - January 2014

Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to the first PenCLAHRC Matters e-newsletter of 2014, I hope that you have had a relaxing Christmas and New Year.

As you know, we began a new five year phase of funding on 1st January and this will have implications for how we run PenCLAHRC in the coming years. I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for us, to build upon and continue the successes of the first CLAHRC, but also to build new collaborations and develop new areas of research. 

I am keen that we learn from the lessons of the first CLAHRC and ensure that we meet the needs of our colleagues and collaborators. As part of this we are reviewing many of our processes and hope to have these activities up and running again over the coming months. 

Kind regards,

Stuart Logan
Director of PenCLAHRC

Music at mealtimes may benefit those in residential care homes

PenCLAHRC researchers have been involved in two recently published systematic reviews which have found that playing music at mealtimes in residential nursing homes is among a range of measures which could result in improved food intake among the elderly and better mealtime behaviour in those with dementia. A thorough analysis of research  has identified that introducing changes such as music, wider menu choices or a more pleasant eating environment could also reduce the risk and incidences of malnutrition.

One review, led by Rebecca Abbott, found some positive effects on food and calorie intake across all types of intervention, especially those addressing the eating environment. However, larger scale trials are required to fully understand which interventions were most effective and why.

Another review, led by Becky Whear, investigated the effectiveness of ‘mealtime interventions’ on the behaviour of people with dementia living in care homes. It categorised interventions into four types: music; changes to food service; alterations to the dining environment; and group conversation. The quality of the studies was poor and only six associated changes led to improvement in behaviour, in particular, agitation or aggression. It concluded that well-designed, controlled trials are needed to better understand how ‘mealtime interventions’ could be best implemented, and what the long term health benefits might be.

Find out more.

PenCLAHRC Theme Lead named as one of UK's 100 leading practising scientists

A PenCLAHRC Research Theme Lead has been named as one of the UK's 100 leading practising scientists by the Science Council. Professor Charles Abraham, Professor of Psychology Applied to Health at the University of Exeter Medical School and lead for the new PenCLAHRC Healthy People, Healthy Environments research theme, was named in the 'Teacher Scientist' category and has been recognised for his "instrumental contribution and leadership in promoting the profession of health psychology in the UK through developing the training routes toward Chartered status". The list was put together by the Science Council to draw attention to the important contribution made by a broad range of scientists to UK society and the economy.

PenCLAHRC's 'Project of the Month': UNTEST

A collaborative project between PenCLAHRC, the Royal Cornwall Hospital and the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital is exploring whether it is possible to reduce the number of thyroid function test requests.
Around 140,000 requests for thyroid function tests (TFT) are made in Cornwall each year. TFT are used to establish thyroid deficiency or to monitor the response to treatment.  An audit conducted by the research team identified wide variation in requests for TFT coming from General Practice and it is believed that a high proportion of these tests are unnecessary. Each TFT costs the laboratory £2.50 - £3.00 to run, a cost which doesn’t include administration, staff or equipment costs.  If a 30% reduction in tests requested could be made, this would mean a saving of around £252,000 per year in Cornwall alone.
To understand why such variation exists, the research team have conducted interviews with GP surgeries around Exeter and are conducting a systematic review to explore intervention that could reduce the number of test requests made. The aim of the project moving forward is to encourage changes in practitioner behaviour through the implementation of recommended guidelines for routine testing and by ensuring that test requests are made by qualified health professionals armed with supporting clinical evidence. Together, these changes will reduce the number of unnecessary tests and therefore result in a significant cost saving to the NHS.
More information on the project can be found here

New MSc course in Applied Health Services Research

The University of Exeter Medical School will be launching a new MSc in Applied Health Services Research in the 2014/15 academic year. This programme will address the needs of practitioners from any health-related discipline including nurses, midwives, allied health and public health professionals, medical researchers and academic clinical fellows and will cover topics such as patient and public involvement, collaborative working, evidence-based practice, complex interventions, health economics, clinical trials and medical statistics. More information can be found here.

There are a limited number of funded places available for those in the nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions, provided by Health Education South West. The deadline for applying for funding is the 24th January.


Events Diary

• 28th January 2014 - Celebrating Excellence in Translational and Stratified Medicine, John Bull Building, Plymouth University. More information.

• 30th January 2014 - New NIHR Portal Roadshow, Mercure Southgate Hotel, Exeter. More information.

• 31st January 2014 - Plymouth University Dementia Conference: Dementia Today and Tomorrow, Plymouth Guildhall. More information.

• 5th February 2014 - South West Public Health Scientific Conference 2014, The Winter Gardens, Weston-super-Mare. More information.

• 19th - 20th June 2014 - Health Services Research Network (HSRN) Symposium, Nottingham Conference Centre. More information. Call for abstracts open until 14th February.

Recent Publications

• MacMillan M, Tarrant M, Abraham C, Morris C. The association between children's contact with people with disabilities and their attitudes towards disability: a systematic review. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

Find more publications information on the publications database.

Copyright © 2014 PenCLAHRC, All rights reserved.
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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) for the South West Peninsula (known as PenCLAHRC for short) aims to bring together local universities and their surrounding NHS organisations to test new treatments and new ways of working in specific clinical areas, to see if they are effective and appropriate for everyday use in the health service.  Where potential improvements are identified, NIHR-PenCLAHRC helps NHS staff to incorporate them into their everyday working practices, so that patients across the local community receive a better standard of healthcare.