Research from CaHRU was cited in the recently published parliamentary briefing on Sleep and Health and Sleep and Long-term Health. The briefing was issued as a POSTnote from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology and cited CAHRU’s work on primary care for insomnia including the Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment (REST) website. Professor Graham Law and Niro Siriwardena met with one of the co-authors Lev Tankelevitch earlier this year to discuss their work.
The briefing on Sleep and Health also cites two systematic reviews led by CaHRU’s Dr Coral Sirdifield on patient and general practitioner (GP) perceptions of the problems of benzodiazepine sleeping pills, an article by Prof Siriwardena providing guidance for GPs, and the OASIS trial (led by Prof Dan Freeman of Oxford University) showing the effects of treatment using digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (dCBTi) on psychiatric symptoms. The briefing on Sleep and Long-term Health research papers on sleep assessment and the DIALS trial showing the effect of dCBTI on quality of life which is due for publication this autumn.
The REST project is also explicitly mentioned: ‘One strategy to improve training for healthcare professionals is through online training developed by the Resources for Effective Sleep Treatment project’ and the REST e-learning programme for GPs and healthcare staff has been accessed over 16,000 times by users in over 160 countries.
POSTnotes are distributed in paper copies to Parliamentarians, placed in the reference libraries of both Houses of Parliament and also promoted via social media using Twitter @POST_UK. CaHRU are currently collaborating in a major trial of sleep restriction therapy in primary care, the HABIT trial. You can find out more about our work on sleep from our infographic on ‘Sleep and Insomnia‘.
By Prof Niro Siriwardena
PhD student Laura Simmons attended the Doctoral Training Alliance Biosciences for Health summer school hosted by the University of Huddersfield on the 24th-26th July. During the 3-day event students took part in a variety of workshops that focused on how individuals can make an impact with their research.
The main focus of the summer school was the Impact Challenge where students had to present a pitch to a group of judges on a particular research topic. We were encouraged to choose a goal, define the outcomes, outputs and funding requirements. This provided a great opportunity for students to consider how much funding would be required and what resources would be needed to carry out the project. We were also encouraged to consider our connections to external charities and organisations that could help us in achieving the project goals.
There were a variety of projects that were presented during the summer school including: a uterus massage to reduce haemorrhaging and maternal mortality (Laura Simmons); a diabetes mobile app to reduce mortality from non-communicable diseases and promote health (Sophie Mohamed); and implementing an online training course to empower healthcare workforces in developing countries (Ksenia Trischel).
Laura and her team were one of three groups who were awarded ‘funding’ from the judging panel (awarded in chocolate coins) for their work on developing an educational programme to reduce haemorrhaging during childbirth to reduce maternal mortality.
Overall the Impact Challenge was a useful exercise that mirrored the real life expectations of working with colleagues to produce a funding application. It challenged us to think outside the box and consider the impact that the project may have from other perspectives such as the economy.
For more information about the Doctoral Training Alliance visit their website https://unialliance.ac.uk/dta/programmes/dta-applied-biosciences-for-health
By Laura Simmons
Professor Siriwardena attended the Society for Academic Primary Care Annual Scientific Meeting which this year was hosted by Barts and the London Queen Mary University of London took place at his alma mater of St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, with the main conference sessions at the Guildhall School of Music and the Barbican Centre. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Learning from Europe and populations on the move’.
The first day taken up by the Heads of Departments meeting, was punctuated by the RAF centenary flypast over London. Highlights of the conference included the 5th Helen Lester Memorial Lecture given by Professor Anne McFarlane, with the enigmatic title ‘The leper’s squint: spaces for participation in primary health care’. There were further plenaries given by Professor Val Wass on ‘Populations on the move’ and Lord Victor Adebowale, past Chancellor of the University of Lincoln on ‘Primary care: exclusion, inclusion and community’.
CaHRU’s research ‘Explaining differences in Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners Applied Knowledge Test performance associated with candidate sex and ethnicity’ which featured as an oral presentation in a session on education was well received. There were many excellent and interesting oral presentations, posters and workshops including an interesting session facilitated by Prof Deborah Swinglehurst (QMUL) and Dr Stefan Hjorleifsson (University of Bergen) on ‘resisting too much medicine’.
Finally there was an excellent social programme including drinks in the Great Hall at Barts, dinner at the Tower Hotel beside the Tower of London and an interesting walk though London with Dr Sally Hull.
By Prof Niro Siriwardena
CaHRU’s research impact has now been captured in a series of stunning infographics created by student intern Beth Warman and accessed via our page ‘How we are making a difference‘. Beth, after studying a number of impact case studies produced by Professor Niro Siriwardena and the team describing the effect of CaHRU’s research on “change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia”, developed this evidence into the infographics. These capture how CaHRU’s research is making a difference in a visual form, accessible to the general public as well as the scientific community in a number of topics including: sleep and insomnia, prehospital outcome measures, flu vaccination uptake, large-scale healthcare quality improvement programmes, new prehospital ambulance pathways, and reliable, valid and fair licensing exams for doctors.
Beth, a student in psychology recently graduated and is going on to study for her PhD entitled ‘Character strengths, mindfulness and pro-environmental behaviours: how awareness of one’s strengths affects engagement in sustainability’. She will be looking at mindfulness and the positive psychological traits most strongly associated with being eco-friendly.
She is also due to start as a research assistant, working with Dr Roger Bretherton on a project called ‘The character course: design, dissemination and evaluation of a church-based small group programme for character development’. This will involve creating a church-based multimedia course to encourage people’s use of certain personal strengths (in this case, learning, hope, love, forgiveness, gratitude, humour, persistence and curiosity). We wish her the best in her future endeavours and thank her for the work she has done with CaHRU.
By Prof Niro Siriwardena
Joseph Akanuwe, doctoral student at CaHRU was recently confirmed by the College of Social Science Research Degrees Board that he be awarded his PhD for his thesis ‘Exploring service user and practitioner perspectives of using cancer risk assessment tools in primary care consultations. Cancer risk prediction tools are novel tools that combine risk factors and symptoms to predict an individual’s risk of developing cancer.
The work included a systematic scoping review followed by interviews of 19 service users and 17 primary care practitioners, the latter before and after they had used the tools in patient consultations. Participants suggested ways to best communicate cancer risk to patients in primary care consultations, emphasising the importance of: tailoring visual representation of risk; being open and honest; informing and involving patients in use of cancer risk prediction tools and providing time for listening, explaining and reassuring in the context of a professional approach.
He also found barriers to the uptake of cancer risk prediction tools including: the additional time required; worry and anxiety generated by referral for investigations; potential for over-referral; practitioner scepticism about using the new tool; and the need for evidence of effectiveness before introducing cancer risk prediction tools in general practice consultations. These barriers were perceived before the use of the tools. The findings add to the knowledge and understanding of how best to communicate cancer risk information to patients when using cancer risk prediction tools. Joseph was supervised by Profs Niro Siriwardena and Sara Owen, together with Dr Sharon Black.
By Prof Niro Siriwardena