We’re the Imperial Patient Experience Research Centre team, otherwise known as PERC. And we’re dedicated to improving the quality and impact of healthcare and translational research by promoting and supporting active communication between patients, the public, researchers and clinical staff.
In conversation with: Dr Bina Ram, Postdoctoral Research Associate working within the Child Health Unit, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College, London
What is your research about and what did you do?
Our research is the iMprOVE cohort study which is investigating children’s physical activity and mental health in primary schools that do and do not implement physical activity interventions. Regular physical activity is known to have many health benefits but only half of children in England meet the recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity per day. School-based physical activity interventions have been recommended by England’s National Obesity Plan and have the potential to reach all children across society.
In conversation with Olive Adams, Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Midwife working with Professor Christoph Lees and the research team based at the Centre for fetal care at Imperial Healthcare Trust and Women’s Health Research Centre at Imperial College London.
How would you describe your role as a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Midwife?
My role as PPI midwife was specifically developed to ensure high quality public involvement activity was undertaken across all of Professor Lees upcoming projects within the Women’s Health Research Centre, including enabling involvement at the very earliest stage of each study.
I had some experience of undertaking PPI activity as a research midwife which has helped me to undertake this role (see my previous PERC blog post outlining my previous public involvement activity here).
John Norton, Public Contributor and Halle Johnson, Public Involvement Officer at Imperial Patient Experience Research Centre reflect on their recent experience of participating in a tweet chat aiming to raise awareness and increase public understanding of the benefits of responsible health data sharing to improve health outcomes.
On the 27th of April 2021, Data Saves Lives (a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the European Patients’ Forum and the European Institute for Innovation through Health Data) held a live tweet chat which posed the question: “How can we manage the tension between individual privacy rights and the wider societal good of health data use?”
My name is Carmel McGrath, and I am in the final year of my PhD at the University of Southampton. My research is exploring the impacts of Public Involvement. In July 2020, I started a virtual placement at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) following a successful application for the NIHR Short Placement Award for Research Collaboration (SPARC) scheme. These awards aim to promote collaborations across Biomedical Research Centres so early career researchers can network, train in a specific skill or collaborate with other researchers/specialist outside of their own centres.
I have now completed my placement and would like to share my experiences in three separate blog posts.
In conversation with: Dr Hanna Creese, Postdoctoral Research Associate working within the Child Health Unit, Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Imperial College London
What is your research about?
Our research explores pre-school wheeze. A third of preschool-aged (1-5 years) children experience wheeze, making them cough and/or have breathing difficulties. The number of preschool children in the United Kingdom (UK) who suffer or die from wheeze attacks is higher compared to that in other European countries. Recurrent wheeze can last throughout childhood and be an indication that the child will develop asthma. Recurrent wheeze is influenced by genetic vulnerability, respiratory infections, and air quality, but can be prevented with timely healthcare after the first wheeze attack.
In conversation with: Rhiannon Thompson, PhD student working within the Imperial College Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the SCAMP study
What did you do?
As part of my PhD project, I wanted to find out more about how adolescents are affected by their physical environments (their thoughts and feelings about urban and rural places, buildings and traffic, greenspace, nature, noise, etc). To begin with, I recruited 12 teenagers for a project design workshop where we brainstormed ideas for how this question could be answered. Then, two of the attendees reviewed some draft documents: recruitment advert, participant information sheet and consent form.
In conversation with: Jennifer Crow, Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist in Stroke who is undertaking a NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship programme working within: Therapies/Stroke at Charing Cross Hospital, London
Jenny’s pre-doctoral fellowship is a partnership fellowship funded by the Stroke Association and the National Institute for Health Research.
What did you do?
I ran my first virtual Patient Public Involvement Group via zoom with 6 attendees. I had previously been involved in public engagement activities in the form of patient stories and feedback but I had not attempted public involvement. I am in the process of developing a follow-up programme of care for people who have had minor strokes.
Dr Ali Abbara and Dr Chioma Izzi-Engbeaya from Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Section of Investigative Medicine discuss their public engagement work with the Society for Endocrinology.
The Society for Endocrinology has a long-standing mission to inform the public about hormones and hormone-related conditions. In order to meet this aim, it has formed a ‘Public Engagement Committee’, of which, we are both members. The committee regularly organises outreach activities, including at schools and science communication events, to engage with the public and amplify knowledge about hormones.
In this age of ‘post-truth’ news, the Society for Endocrinology has made a significant investment to provide a reliable and accessible source of information for the public about hormones and the conditions that can transpire when they are not functioning normally.
Dr Suzie Cro, Research Fellow at the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit and the HEALTHY STATS public involvement group share insights from their recent online discussion of COVID-19 vaccines:
Right now, in the UK and across the world, vaccines for Covid-19 are being rolled out. You may have already received, or be expecting a vaccination offer sometime soon. Vaccines are thought to be our main hope to control the Covid-19 pandemic. Their use has only been possible following robust and rigorous clinical trials, which have demonstrated that they meet high safety and effectiveness standards set by the UK medicines regulator (the MHRA).
In conversation with: Dr Bijal Patel, Diabetes and Endocrinology Research Registrar, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London
My research aims to improve the diagnosis of miscarriage. Miscarriage currently takes several weeks to diagnose, resulting in significant psychological trauma for women and their families.
Levels of a hormone produced by the placenta, called ‘kisspeptin’, can be used to estimate the risk of miscarriage with a high degree of accuracy. The current method to measure kisspeptin levels in the blood takes several days to provide results and cannot be easily conducted in other centres. Therefore, my project aims to develop a new method that can accurately measure kisspeptin levels and thus enable the use of this blood test in the assessment of women with possible miscarriage across the NHS.