Tuesday 5 July 2016

Rheumatology Research Nurse Wins Awards

Helen Hanson, a Senior Research Nurse at the Freeman Hospital's Rheumatology Department, has won two awards and was finalist for another, in recognition of her concerted efforts to increase staff and patient awareness, involvement and recruitment into research studies.

The 13th Bright Ideas in Health Awards, held at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead, acknowledges the recent ideas and innovations developed by our region's frontline NHS staff to help make the NHS better. Helen was a finalist in the 'Quality Improvement Impact' category.

Helen went on to win the both the Trust Nursing and Midwifery Research and Audit Prize and the NIHR Clinical Research Network North East North Cumbria - Research Practitioner of the Year. The NIHR prize recognises those involved in research delivery, who have been innovative in the way they work to deliver NIHR Portfolio studies. Both prizes acknowledge the high quality, qualitative research she has produced, exploring the experiences of both patients and staff when patients decide whether or not to participate in research.

Helen explains: "The research was initiated to understand what taking part in research is like for patients and staff. The project is funded by Arthritis Research UK and we are using the results in an ongoing study introducing changes in practice to engage more staff and patients in research. Ultimately, we hope this will raise patient and staff awareness of research, enable more patients to participate in studies and increase our capacity to conduct high quality research."

Most trials of methods to increase research recruitment have focussed on a single intervention aimed at patients, such as giving trial information as a DVD instead of on paper. The majority of these trials have proved unsuccessful. Based on this literature and on the findings from her qualitative research, Helen has designed a package of interventions aimed at the whole clinical team, including medical staff, nurses, allied health professionals, health care assistants, clerical and admin staff. This package includes the popular series of education sessions called "HEAR about Research" - 30 minute events where researchers share their work and findings in layman terms.

Helen continues: "These sessions have been really well received and we will be measuring the impact of all of our interventions via a large survey as well as focus groups and interviews."

Helen's NIHR Research Practitioner Award also recognised her founding and facilitation of a Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) group called PIMS (Public Involvement in Musculoskeletal Services). The form she developed to record the group's input into each research project has been adopted by other PPI groups across Newcastle Trust. The group works with staff to improve the quality and responsiveness of current services, as well helping to shape future research projects.

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