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South West Peninsula
PenCLAHRC Matters - February 2016

Dear <<First Name>>,

Welcome to the February edition of the PenCLAHRC Matters newsletter. The first few months of 2016 seem to have passed by in a blur of activity and it's very gratifying for me, as PenCLAHRC Director, to see colleagues across the collaboration being so successful, both in terms of established projects that are coming to an end and new projects that are just getting started.

This month I was delighted to see our operational research team, PenCHORD, and our partners at the Royal Devon & Exeter (RD&E) Hospital and Cardiovascular Strategic Clinical Network, get the recognition they deserve for their fantastic work in redesigning the emergency stroke pathways at the RD&E, which has had a real impact on treatment for those who have had an ischaemic stroke. This has also been noted by Life Sciences Minister, George Freeman, who commented:

"I am delighted to see the pioneering work of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) combine with our NHS to deliver faster, more effective treatment for stroke patients. This is truly twenty-first century technology, and the outstanding benefits for patients underline precisely why we invest £1 billion into NIHR health research each year."

If you missed the recent video on this work or the BBC Spotlight feature, you can find them via the link in the story below.

With best wishes, 

Stuart Logan
Director of PenCLAHRC

Project Focus: Improving emergency stroke care

A project carried out by our operational research team, PenCHORD, has had a huge impact on the way people who have had a stroke are treated in Devon. Working alongside the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (RD&E) and the South Western Ambulance Service, the team were able to speed up the process of administering emergency treatment to those who had suffered a stroke due to a blood clot (ischemic stroke) using the latest advances in computer simulation.

In order to do this, researchers created a detailed computer simulation of the path that stroke patients follow in the hospital, replicating the journey from the onset of the condition right through to the point of treatment. Through doing this, the team were able to test and explore a range of different scenarios – such as paramedics calling stroke unit specialists ahead of their arrival.

Through their partnership with the RD&E, the team were able to implement their findings which have produced remarkable results. The number of people receiving clot-busting medication after a stroke has tripled, increasing from 4.7% (one in twenty) to 14% (one in seven), and the average time it takes to deliver the treatment has halved.

Read more about this project on the PenCLAHRC website.

Outcome of PenCLAHRC Research Prioritisation 2015

Our 2015 research prioritisation process concluded just before Christmas. After a final vote by stakeholders from our partner organisations, it was agreed that PenCLAHRC will dedicate resources to test the feasibility of the top two ranked questions:
  • How can we best design, evaluate and implement a group-based programme for weight-management in Tier 3 obesity care?
  • Is mindfulness based cognitive behaviour therapy effective in maintaining recovery and relapse prevention among young people who have recovered from an episode of emotional disorder?
Scoping work has now begun to test whether these two questions would make suitable research projects. 
You can read more about the 2015 research prioritisation process on our website.

Project Focus: Reducing acute avoidable admissions to hospitals

A PenCLAHRC-supported project has been investigating to help hospitals avoid unnecessary emergency admissions. 

The Plymouth team, alongside researchers from the University of the West of England, the University of Bristol and the University of Exeter, investigated how emergency departments and staff of four major hospitals throughout the South West, responded to emergency care pressures. They also analysed the patient’s experience of the hospital visit.

The study found that various factors contributed to whether a patient was admitted to hospital and that admissions weren’t always based on the medical diagnosis. It also found that in response to local need, different approaches were taken across the four hospitals in order to reduce unnecessary admissions.
You can read the full story here.

Building international research collaborations

Our operational research group, PenCHORD, has been awarded funding to help them build links with international research partners. The funding will enable the team to invite overseas researchers to visit and explore the possibilities for future projects and publications.

PenCHORD are already developing new contacts and strengthening existing links with researchers in Germany. The team will be inviting international researchers to visit them in Devon and also visiting colleagues overseas. These visits will enable both PenCHORD and the visiting researchers to showcase their work to a wider audience.

To read more on this story, visit our website.

Funding success for research dissemination and engagement

PenCLAHRC researchers Rebecca Abbott and Rebecca Whear from the Evidence Synthesis Team, and Kath Maguire from the Patient and Public Involvement team have all been successful in winning University of Exeter Researcher-Led Initiative Awards, intended to help research staff develop and deliver transferable skills training and resources. These awards will be used for running educational workshops in systematic reviewing, supporting more creative dissemination techniques and to establish a local public involvement network.


Meet the PenCLAHRC team

PenCLAHRC has grown hugely in size since our doors first opened in 2008 and we now have almost 100 CLAHRC-supported staff and students across the South West. As part of a new series, we are interviewing PenCLAHRC colleagues to help give a flavour of the broad range of people that make up our collaboration.

First up is Cath Hopkins, PenCLAHRC Administrator and a key member of our project support team.

What do you do at PenCLAHRC (in 15 words or less)?
I provide administrative support to the PenCLAHRC team in Exeter.
How long have you worked at PenCLAHRC? 
I joined PenCLAHRC in November 2010 – seems like only yesterday…
What do you like most about your job?
The variety  – no two days are ever the same – and, of course, the lovely people I work with.
What’s the hardest part about your job? 
Wrangling with various one-size-fits-none systems which can make what you thought was a simple request take literally weeks to  resolve.  Still, it keeps me out of mischief.
If you weren’t doing this job, what would you be doing?   
If I’d been a bit more proactive about pursuing my interests, I’d probably be doing some sort of obscure research into the origins of the English language.  Or, if I were extremely unlucky, I could still be working in a distribution centre for one of the Big Four supermarkets (I won’t say which one, but think green) and be able to reel off the reference number of every store in the country.  Yes, I’m that sad.
You may not know this about me, but…..
I once spent the day on the beach with Michael Sheen. Before you call the gossip press, I was eleven and he must have been about 14 or 15 and it was at a family and friends get-together - his uncle was Head of the primary school where my mum taught and that I attended.
I also got kicked out of the Girl Guides (before taking the oath) for apathy.


Do primary schools impact on pupils' weight?

A recent study has been exploring whether the school environment has any effect on the weight of pupils. As part of the project, data was collected from 319 primary schools across Devon and was compared to five years of data from the National Child Measurement Programme. By analysing various factors, the team were able to look for links which may be contributing to childhood obesity.

Although the team found some links between certain factors and pupils weight, the research concluded that the school environment is not contributing to childhood obesity in the way that has commonly been assumed. The outcomes of this study suggest that obesity prevention strategies should address what is happening outside of schools, particularly during the school holidays.

To find out more, read our news story.


Participants required for weight loss project

PenCLAHRC PhD student, Linda Solbrig, is searching for adults with a BMI of 25 or above to try out a new personalised intervention to help with weight loss and the increase of physical activity.

The study will last for six months and will involve two therapeutic sessions with the researcher (one face to face session and one phone session). The remaining study will involve brief booster phone calls every two weeks to help keep participants on track.

Appointments will be available from 21st March. For further information, please visit Linda’s project webpage.

NIHR at 10

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the formation of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). Anniversary celebrations launched on 13th January in Westminster, with Life Sciences Minister George Freeman hosting the first NIHR Parliamentary Day. George Freeman spoke of the benefits of health research and encouraged MPs to become ambassadors for the NIHR in their constituencies. He said:

“I’m completely passionate about this research infrastructure. The NIHR is the Jewel in the crown of the UK research medicine ecosystem. It does an amazing job working with industry partners pulling in major investment and allows our patients to have exposure to the very latest medicines and innovations”

We will be celebrating the success of the NIHR and its 10th anniversary throughout the year.

Patient Reported Outcomes Measures Conference

A CLAHRC-sponsored conference in Sheffield on 9th June will bring together leading researchers to discuss cutting edge developments in PROMs research.

The day will comprise three plenary sessions on ‘Realist synthesis’, using ‘Computer Adaptive Testing’ and ‘Wellbeing’. The morning will will also include 16 parallel sessions, which are open to competitions and posters; submissions from PhD students and young researchers are encouraged.

For more information and to register, visit the conference website.

PenCLAHRC opportunities

Engagement, Research Information and Communication Manager (maternity cover)
Closing Date: Monday 7th March 2016
For more information, please visit our webpage.

Research Manager
Closing Date: Monday 7th March 2016
For more information, please visit our webpage.
PenCLAHRC Staff News
Welcome to our new members of staff:

Dr Emma Villeneuve - Research Fellow, PenCHORD
Dr Sanne Van Kampen - Research Assistant, PenCLAHRC
Dr Michael Nunns - Associate Research Fellow, Evidence Synthesis Team
Dr Liz Shaw - Associate Research Fellow, Evidence Synthesis Team

Meet current PenCLAHRC staff and students online via our Staff Database.

Events Diary

Searching and Review Clinic
Whether you are an academic or an NHS professional who needs to know where to start on the systematic review process or how to go about designing a search strategy, you can book an appointment with one of our reviewers or information specialists. Visit the Searching and Review Clinic page on our website for more information and future dates.

PenCHORD Training Dates
Foundation Module:
Excel skills to produce simple models
Date: 8th March
Time: 10am - 2.30pm
Location: Exeter and Plymouth
Click here for more information

Module One:
Introduction to the concept of modelling
Date: 9th March
Time: 10am - 5pm
Location: Exeter and Plymouth
Click here for more information

Module Two:
Building a geographic model
Date: 10th March
Time: 10am - 5pm
Location: Exeter and Plymouth
Click here for more information

PPI Advice Clinic
Whatever your query, from finding out more about PPI to creating a PPI strategy for a research bid, you can speak to one of our researchers who can advise you.

Times: 12:00 - 12:30 or 12:30 - 13:00
Register for your appointment through Eventbrite

Making Sense of Evidence: Using research to inform Clinical Decision Making
A one-day introductory workshop on the practical use of evidence in practice

Date: 16th March
Time: 9am - 4:30pm
Location: Exeter (Venue TBC)
Click here for more information

Qualitative Research Advice Clinic
For PenCLAHRC and IHR Staff and Students
These advice clinics have been set up to help respond to qualitative research related queries from within PenCLAHRC and the Institute for Health Research.
Date: 17th March
Time: 2pm - 4pm
Click here for more information

PenCHORD 13th Seminar, Showcase and Workshop Event
Guest speakers will be Dr David Worthington from the Department of Management Science at Lancaster University Management School and Andrew Dobson, an independent Operational Research analyst from London. The afternoon workshop session will look at route optimisation.

Date: 19th April 
Time: 10am - 4pm
Location: Baring Court, 112 (Exeter)
Click here for more information

Making Sense of Evidence: An Introduction to Qualitative Research
This new half-day workshop forms part of the Making Sense of Evidence series

Date: 18th May
Time: 9:30am - 1pm
Click here for more information

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of diagnostic test accuracy
This three-day course is designed for individuals undertaking health technology assessment, health service researchers and healthcare professionals interested in understanding key issues in the design and conduct of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) studies.

Date: 7th to 9th September
Location: University of Birmingham, UK
Click here for more information

Recent Publications

Armstrong M, Morris C, Tarrant M, Abraham C, Horton MC. Rasch analysis of the Chedoke-McMaster Attitudes towards Children with Handicaps scale. Disability and Rehabilitation 2016

Backhouse A, Dickens C, Richards D, McCabe R. Key components in models of community-based interventions coordinating care in dementia: a mixed studies systematic review protocol. Systematic Reviews 2015; 4:156-162

Britten N, Pope C, Halford S, Richeldi L. What if we made stratified medicine work for patients? The Lancet 2016; 4(1): 8-10

Clarkson S, Axford N, Berry V, Tudor Edwards R, Bjornstad G, Wrigley Z, Charles J, Hoare Z, Ukoumunne O, Matthews J, Hutchings J. Effectiveness and micro-costing of the KiVa school-based bullying prevention programme in Wales: study protocol for a pragmatic definitive parallel group cluster randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health 2016; 16:104-115

Frost J, Garside R, Cooper C, Britten N. Meta-Study as Diagnostic: Toward Content Over Form in Qualitative Synthesis. Qualitative Health Research 2015

Goodwin V, Paudyal P, Perry M, Day N, Hawton A, Gericke C, Ukoumunne O, Byng R. Implementing a patient-initiated review system for people with rheumatoid arthritis: a prospective, comparative service evaluation. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 2016

Janssens A, Rogers M, Gumm R, Jenkinson C, Tennant A, Logan S, Morris C. Measurement properties of multidimensional patient-reported outcome measures in neurodisability: a systematic review of evaluation studies. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology 2015

Monks T, Pearson M, Pitt M, Stein K, James M. Evaluating the impact of a simulation study in emergency stroke care. Operations Research for Health Care 2015; 6: 40-49

Moore D, Gwernan-Jones R, Richardson M, Racey D, Rogers M, Stein K, Thompson-Coon J, Ford T, Garside R. The experiences of and attitudes towards non-pharmacological interventions for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder used in school settings: a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties 2016

Paudyal P, Smith J, Robinson M, South A, Higginson I, Reuben A, Shaffee J, Black S, Logan. Tranexamic acid in major trauma: implementation and evaluation across South West England.  European Journal of Emergency Medicine 2015

Pearson M, Brand S, Quinn C, Shaw J, Maguire M, Michie S, Briscoe S, Lennox C, Stirzaker A, Kirkpatrick T, Byng R Using realist review to inform intervention development: Methodological illustration and conceptual platform for collaborative care in offender mental health Implementation Science; 10:134

Peters J, Cooper C, Buchanan J. Evidence used in model-based economic evaluations for evaluating pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics tests: a systematic review protocol. BMJ Open 2015;5:e008465

Pinkney J, Rance S, Benger J, Brant H, Joel-Edgar S, Swancutt D, Westlake D, Pearson M, Thomas D, Holme I, Endacott R, Anderson R, Allen M, Purdy S, Campbell J, Sheaff R, Byng R. How can frontline expertise and new models of care best contribute to safely reducing avoidable acute admissions? A mixed-methods study of four acute hospitals. Health Services and Delivery Research 2016; 4(3)

Williams A, Wyatt K, Williams C, Logan S, Henley W. Exploring the potential of a school impact on pupil weight status: exploratory factor analysis and repeat cross-sectional study of the National Child Measurement Programme. PLoS ONE 2016; 10(12): e0145128.

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