Professor Sir Simon Wessely – King’s College London
The talks began with a lively presentation by Professor Sir Simon Wessely highlighting the importance of research in understanding individuals’ reactions to adversity. Touching upon the London 2005 bombings, the Litvinenko Affair, and the Blitz he highlighted the resilience of mankind and launched into a spirited discussion on the use of psychological debriefing at the time of tragedy. Previous expertise has favoured the use of psychological debriefing at the time of a terror attack, however his Cochrane Review found that people preferred to talk to family and friends rather than a medical professional. He outlined that, for those with a typical emotional reaction to an attack, debriefing by a clinician is unnecessary and in some cases can do more harm than good!
Second to the stage was Professor Dame Anne Johnson who spoke passionately about growing concerns regarding public health. The ever growing number of chronic conditions and increasing levels of obesity in the population have heightened the need for more research into preventative medicine. She presented the COPD value pyramid displaying the cost of the most common interventions in COPD. Flu vaccinations and stop smoking interventions were the cheapest and Triple Therapy was amongst the highest. Following on from this, Prof. Johnson presented the most common treatments used in clinics and showed that, frequently, the most favoured treatments were the more expensive options. Only 11% of patients received stop smoking interventions, one of the more cost-effective interventions, versus 37% being offered Triple Therapy. Patients need to be reached earlier to prevent these illnesses getting out of hand and thought needs to be placed on population based change to be more receptive to preventative measures. Prof. Johnson spoke of the importance in embracing the digital revolution to better inform researchers and the population in health preventative measures.
An array of workshops were on offer; Professor Paul Ramchandani on the needs of children and adolescents with mental and/or physical health problems, Dr Richard Gilson on promoting sexual health and well-being, Professor Anne Lingford-Hughes & Professor Andrew Hayward on tackling health inequalities and inclusion, and Professor Mike Crawford on interventions and treatments for adults with mental health problems.
I was lucky enough to attend Prof. Paul Ramchandani’s workshop which included four presentations on current research taking place. First to present was our own Dr Christine O’Farrelly who introduced the Healthy Start, Happy Start study, using clips of VIPP in action, and outlined the important role CNWL played in getting HSHS to its recruitment target of 300 families in the summer of this year, with an impressive 105 families coming from the trust.
Discussion followed surrounding the steps that can be taken to increase the range and opportunities for staff in research within CNWL. Many ideas were put forth, such as including research into the NHS induction, opening up research to other specialities such as Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists, and compiling a list of current research occurring within the trust so others are aware and can contact to become involved.
Following the workshops we had a lovely lunch provided and settled in to chat about our morning. We then settled in to the comfy Henry Wellcome auditorium to begin the afternoon session.
Professor Mike Crawford – Imperial College London
To begin the afternoon Professor Mike Crawford delivered a speech regarding the prevalence of sexual health problems amongst those with mental health conditions. His work has shown that sexual health problems are most prevalent in individuals with a diagnosis of Personality Disorder. However, many clinicians in mental health clinics aren’t asking about sexual health during appointments, which is concerning as these can be common side effects with medication. He also spoke of the Respect study run by Professor Liz Hughes which promotes sexual health for people with serious mental illness.
Another great variety of workshops were on offer for the afternoon. From responsibilities of a principal investigator by Dr Sarah Yardley & Lynis Lewis, to involving patients and public in research by Dr Rose Thompson. I was fortunate to attend Dr Tim Weaver’s workshop about qualitative interviewing. Dr Weaver presented the different methods of analysis and practical advice for helping a participant open up to questions. A lively discussion followed, with calls for more opportunities for qualitative interview training and uses within NHS research.
After a quick break and browse of the posters we then attended a plenary session to hear the feedback from the various workshops to best raise the level of research within the trust. Four common themes emerged from the discussion; time, funding, training opportunities, and awareness. Ideas were discussed surrounding ways in which these factors can be built upon and increased throughout the trust. One really interesting idea was for the creation of a clear and widely-used website where research groups can update information of their current projects and clinicians can update their personal profiles to include research interests.
Professor Richard Watt concluded the day with closing remarks and summarised the feedback. He highlighted the importance of a regular R&D conference to inform staff within the trust of the range of research underway and in linking clinicians and research groups and promoting collaborations.
The day was an exciting whirlwind of presentations and workshops and it was a great opportunity to see the current research taking place. It was wonderful to see and hear everyone’s enthusiasm for research and the ideas for different projects going forward!
Author: Holly Mattock