Research Design Service: East Midlands
National Institute for Health Research

Latest News

Library website of real-world observational studies in cardiometabolic medicine

  Created on Wednesday, 08 Aug 2018. Posted in Toolkit/Database

ERICAS is a new resource from the Leicester Real World Evidence Unit, providing access to quality assessed real-world observational studies in cardiometabolic medicine.

It provides a central one-stop resource for clinicians, researchers, policy makers and commissioners to access real-world evidence that has been quality assessed by a team of epidemiologists and statisticians and reviewed by a specialist team of clinical faculty members for relevance, importance and clinical applicability.

Articles and clinical reviews are published on the ERICAS website and there is the option to subscribe to an alert system to receive information on articles as they are published.


NIHR launches first open dataset - its funded research portfolio

  Created on Thursday, 26 Jul 2018. Posted in Toolkit/Database

The National Institute for Health Research has published its first licenced open dataset - a funded portfolio of research. This makes NIHR data accessible all in one place, providing a single source of up-to-date, accurate and reusable data. The dataset, which has been accredited by the Open Data Institute, contains research awards funded by NIHR which were active at any time on or after 1st April 2011. This release streamlines access to NIHR information for researchers, clinicians, decision and policy makers, allowing more informed decisions to be made which can improve patients' lives.


NIHR announces

  Created on Thursday, 19 Jul 2018. Posted in Funding

  • NIHR announces £150m investment in applied health research
    to tackle the key issues facing our healthcare system, including the pressures of an ageing population and the increasing demands on the NHS.
  • £65 million new NIHR investment in research to inform government decision-making
    13 NIHR Policy Research Units will undertake research to inform decision-making by government and arms-length bodies, ensuring that they have the best possible information and evidence available when making policy decisions about health and social care.
  • NIHR to launch senior nurse and midwife research programme 
    to create research champions to drive improvements in future care. The project will allow senior nurses and midwives to dedicate two days a week to fostering a culture of innovation, furthering implementation of science activities and informing research priorities within their organisations. They will champion research collaborations and interdisciplinary sharing of research knowledge and skills throughout their profession.
  • NIHR awards further funding to boost Global Health Research
    in key areas of unmet need where a targeted investment can result in a transformative impact.

How to engage stakeholders in research: design principles to support improvement

  Created on Wednesday, 18 Jul 2018. Posted in Literature

Closing the gap between research production and research use is a key challenge for the health research system. Stakeholder engagement is being increasingly promoted across the board by health research funding organisations, and indeed by many researchers themselves, as an important pathway to achieving impact. This opinion piece draws on a study of stakeholder engagement in research and a systematic literature search conducted as part of the study.


How can we develop more fundable NIHR digital healthcare proposals?

  Created on Wednesday, 18 Jul 2018. Posted in Design Tips

Great blog post from Jeremy Wyatt, Professor od Digital Healthcare - here are his top 10 tips!

  1. Start with a real health or social care problem that matters – not an obscure condition or rare disease that only affects 50 people in the UK
  2. Build a research team that includes all relevant expertise including patients or service users, clinicians and methodologists (statisticians, health economists and / or health psychologists), as well as digital health experts
  3. Review previous work on and theories relevant to your chosen problem area (eg. Michie’s COM-B model of behaviour change) and ensure that the digital technology you choose is justified by reference to user characteristics, the scenario of use (“use case”) and our theoretical understanding of why the problem occurs.
  4. Use the MRC Complex Intervention Framework or a recent variant of that for digital interventions to structure the development and evaluation pathway for each component of your intervention, and how they are combined.
  5. Develop an evaluation plan that includes testing of the usability and accuracy or appropriateness of the digital intervention’s output, ideally in both lab and field settings, as well as its impact on healthcare structure, process and outcome, taking account of known biases in studies of digital technologies.
  6. For your impact study, ensure that study participants, outcome measures and the control are clearly defined and justified with respect to the main study question. Add a process evaluation and any other measures that may be necessary to understand why the study failed to show the expected result and how the intervention can be improved.
  7. Consider how your new technology supports existing care pathways or models, and what changes might be needed in these to maximise the benefits of your innovation. Are there implications for patients, carers, clinical skill mix or education that could ultimately make your new approach infeasible? Are you evaluating a new digital healthcare technology or a new clinical servicesupported by that technology? Sometimes, drawing a logic model showing how your proposed intervention or activity achieves its objectives can be a helpful way to identify intermediate outcomes, leading indicators or process measure .
  8. Consider how the intervention might be supported and improved once NIHR funding stops. One practical question here is, what data would NHS organisations need to write a successful business plan for this digital pathway, and can you collect this data during the NIHR funded project? Another is, does this digital intervention come under the revised EU regulations for medical devices and if so, at what stage to seek the CE marking this requires?

NIHR supports staff in promoting research across the NHS

  Created on Monday, 25 Jun 2018. Posted in News Items | Toolkit/Database

The NIHR has announced the launch of a new package of resources aimed at supporting existing NIHR staff to encourage non-research clinical and care staff, to be more aware of research taking place and support more patients to get involved in research opportunities.

The package includes case studies which explore initiatives that have successfully engaged staff and patients in research and a toolkit which provides resources and materials to help engage a range of colleagues in health research


10 ways to illustrate how you used public involvment in your funding aplication

  Created on Tuesday, 12 Jun 2018. Posted in Public Involvement | Design Tips

This is a great article from Health Research Authority on ways to use public involvement to inform your ethical review. You can use the same principles within your funding bid to show what effects the public have had on shaping your application. Public involvement needs to be woven through applications and it is imperative that you show the changes you've made due to the involvement - it's no longer acceptable just to state that you've consulted the public during the design process, details are what will make your application stand out!

  1. How patients shaped the research question or why patients thought the research important (not merely stating that patients thought it important).
  2. How patients shaped the intervention and decided which outcome measures to use in clinical trials.
  3. How patients’ input was used to minimise the burden on participants.
  4. How patients influenced the ethical design of a trial -  e.g. whether use of placebo would be acceptable.
  5. Where patients identified that participants might potentially experience distress and what appropriate changes had been made in response.
  6. How practical arrangements were changed to better meet the needs of participants e.g. follow-up clinics at more appropriate times.
  7. How recruitment processes were changed to be sensitive to the emotional and practical needs of potential participants.
  8. How patients were involved in deciding what questions to ask in interviews/ focus groups, rather than only being asked comment on the wording of questions written by researchers.
  9. How patients were involved in designing the protocol and patient facing information from the start, the responses they gave and the changes made as a result.
  10. How patients would continue to be involved in the project at different stages, with a clear explanation of what input was expected and how it might shape future decisions.

phinder - connecting public health practice and research

  Created on Monday, 11 Jun 2018. Posted in Toolkit/Database

Are you a researcher interested in what interventions are out there that need evaluating?  Got an idea for public health research but are unsure how to progress your idea with a public health professional?

Phinder connects researchers with relevant public health professionals with a view to discussing research possibilities, and encourages submissions for funding applications to the PHR Programme through the researcher-led application route. Access the Phinder portal to find out more.


PPI in a digital age

  Created on Tuesday, 22 May 2018.


Guidance on co-producing a research project - Design Tips

  Created on Tuesday, 08 May 2018. Posted in Co-production | Design Tips

Going the Extra Mile [NIHR 2015] envisaged a population actively involved in research to improve health and wellbeing, stating that the “most successful collaborations will be those where knowledge is shared in a mutual partnership between researchers, the public and health professionals.”

The application of co-production within applied health research varies, some argue that co-production in research is just ‘really good PPI’.  The recent publication Guidance on co-producing a research project [INVOLVE, NIHR 2018] aims to provide clarity through 5 key principles and features of co-production.

Key Principles

  • Sharing of Power
    Co-production requires the research to be jointly owned with people actively working together to achieve a joint understanding. Sharing of power does not mean that everybody is involved in every decision and every part of the project, people working on a project will still have different roles. With shared power and ownership of key decisions comes responsibility. There needs to be defined roles for everyone with each team member holding real responsibility.
  • Including all perspectives and skills
    Make sure the research team includes all those who can make a contribution, this will ensure all necessary views, experiences, skills and knowledge are included. Co-production involves embracing diversity and enabling involvement of all those people required for a particular project, including underrepresented groups. Inclusivity requires the research to be accessible. This includes ensuring physical access to meetings and accessible information; documents, for example, are in an appropriate format and language.
  • Respecting and valuing the knowledge of all those working together on the research
    Everyone working together on a research project is of equal importance. Everybody on the team is recognised as an asset. Co-production acknowledges the different knowledge bases, experiences and perspectives of all involved and each member of the research team is afforded equal respect and value.
  • Reciprocity
    All contributions to the research should be recognised. Everybody working together on a research project should get something back from contributing to that project. This could take many forms, not just financial rewards. For example, the development of social networks, increased confidence, new knowledge and skills and access to courses and training.
  • Building and maintaining relationships
    The evolving relationships between the various people working together in research are key to co-producing research. In order for trust to develop, individuals need to reflect on the knowledge, assumptions, preconceptions and biases that they bring to a research project. There needs to be acknowledgement and understanding of the complexity involved in ‘power differentials’.

Key Features

  • Establish Ground Rules
    Set out expectations, in terms of the roles, responsibilities and behaviours of all at the start of the project. This will create an environment of respect.
  • Joint Ownership of Key Decisions
    Joint ownership of key decisions differentiates co-producing from collaborating. Not everyone needs to be involved in every decision or every aspect of a piece of research. The group should decide and agree who should be involved and when, in terms of the management, governance and undertaking of the research.
  • A commitment to relationship building
    Addressing power differences and developing relationships requires the development of open, honest, trusting and reciprocal relationships. Organisations and researchers need to be proactive in encouraging and facilitating public involvement and developing relationships beyond the research community.
  • Opportunities for personal growth and development
    Project leads need to facilitate the involvement of the public effectively and manage the flexibility and uncertainty that are often involved in co-produced research projects. Members of the research team need to be willing to relinquish power and accept reciprocity of experience and expertise. This may require a cultural change in the research team and/or the organisation hosting the team.
  • Flexibility
    A co-produced research project should provide opportunities for an iterative, fluid, open ended, experimental and interactive process; there should be opportunity for solutions and innovations to emerge from the relationships developed.
  • Valuing and evaluating the impact of co-producing research
    Research findings or outputs, from working co-productively, will produce knowledge and end results which may be different from those produced by a conventional academic process. These include new relationships, expanded social networks and increased confidence of members of the public.
  • Continuous reflection
    The process of continuous reflection gives the research team opportunities to look at how they are working together, how they might be using their particular expertise and perspective in the project and how this might impact on the research process and findings/outcomes. Creating safe and supportive spaces which enable team members to openly and honestly reflect on challenging issues such as power dynamics and inequalities is an integral part of co-producing research.