CAHPR East Anglia Conference 2023: The Research Journey

The annual CAHPR East Anglia Hub conference was once again held in-person at the Keystone Innovation Centre, Thetford, and provided a great learning and networking opportunity for AHPs interested in research.

The event was opened by Ruth Strudwick, Chair of CAHPR East Anglia Hub, and included a welcome to new and returning faces, as well as new committee members Kyle Cox (University of Suffolk) and Naomi Thompson (Anglia Ruskin University).


Rene Gray, Professional Lead for Physiotherapy (James Paget University Hospital) – My research journey.

Rene spoke to the conference about his role at the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) as an ‘embedded researcher’ for AHP staff alongside a colleague supporting Nursing and Midwifery, and their approach to building research capacity at the JPUH. The roles are part of a pilot and include protected study time for Rene’s MSc and self-development.

Rene shared his experiences from the ‘out of bed pilot’ at the JPUH and the benefits for patients, staff, and the Trust from early mobilisation after hip fracture by taking a team approach within the MDT. Alongside the more obvious outcomes (e.g., reduced length of stay), Rene highlighted indirect positive outcomes on staff job satisfaction, attracting staff to the Trust, and retaining staff due to the Trust’s reputation for using evidence base and supporting research.

Rene’s top tips for getting started in research included looking at supporting national audits, identifying local quality improvement projects in your Trust or department, and building momentum through strong networks with peers, the Trust Research Team, and local Research Design Service (RDS).

Rene ended his talk by outlining the importance of perseverance for early researchers, the value of ‘bringing staff with you on the research journey’ to maintain engagement, and not being afraid of ‘saying yes’ when opportunities arise. Rene has recently been awarded a grant of £50K from Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care Board (N&WICB) for the NICHE Programme to progress the ‘out of bed pilot’ and has set his sights on attending the World Physiotherapy Conference held in Japan in 2025!

Short presentation 1:

Russell Fitchett, Radiography Manager (NNUH) & Leading Clinical Research Lecturer in Health Sciences at UEA – ‘Developing an online post-registration module to facilitate clinical research in healthcare professionals’.

With the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) funding more than £1 billion of NHS research since 2006, Russell outlined the need to develop a post-registration module designed to help individuals improve their self-awareness of their strengths and limitations in relation to research, before they undertake further training (e.g., Advanced Clinical Practice).

Russell spoke about the ‘multi-professional framework of advanced clinical practice in England’ (Health Education England, 2017), and the four pillars of clinical practice, leadership, education, and research. However, a recent study by Fothergill et al (2021) highlighted only 11% of staff in Advanced Clinical Practice roles were engaged in research.

Following a pilot of the module earlier this year, Russell plans to run the module again in 2024. The post-registration module offers 20 credits at Level 6/7, and is taught online and assessed with a 4,000-word submission.

Short presentation 2: 

Kyle Cox, Research Lecturer (University of Suffolk) – Therapeutic Radiographers’ perceived barriers to holistic LGBTQ+ inclusive care in radiotherapy.

Kyle summarised data from existing studies with varying estimates of people identifying as LGBTQ+ within the general population, and the mixed findings on the importance placed on understanding and recognising inclusive care by clinicians compared with the experiences of LGBTQ+ patients. The audience were asked to use Menti to provide feedback to the question, “what do you think LGBTQ+ inclusive care looks like?”

Kyle described the design of his qualitative study, which received ethical approval earlier this year, using semi-structured interviews and coding to analyse the findings. To date, Kyle has booked seven interviews and completed three. Some of the early themes include time pressure, lack of knowledge, risk of offending, and availability of support resources.

Kyle shared some of the challenges so far, such as time taken for transcription, completing the analysis concurrently, and reducing the impact of researcher bias.

Short presentation 3:

Emma Duncan, Research Paramedic (EEAS NHS Trust) – Clinical and cost effectiveness of Paramedic administered fascia iliaca compartment block for emergency hip fracture (RAPID2).

Emma provided an overview of the background to the RAPID2 randomised controlled trial (RCT) study led by Swansea University Medical School with four participating ambulance services (East of England, Welsh, Isle of Wight, North West). The study will review the use of fascia iliaca compartment block (FICB), which is a local anaesthetic given directly into the hip region, against standard care following traumatic hip fracture.

Emma outlined how the study has included patient and public involvement and experience (PPIE) throughout the study, including follow-up with personal accounts and newsletters. EEAS Trust plans to setup its own local PPIE group for patients with experience of hip fractures.

The study is looking to recruit around 280 participants over the next two years, and will need to recruit and train 44 Paramedics in use of FICB. Data will be collected by the ambulance crews, from hospital paperwork and through follow-up questionnaires at 1-month and 4-months. Outcomes will include patient reported pain, length of stay, patient satisfaction, and mortality.

Short presentation 4:

Naomi Thompson, First Year PhD Scholar (Anglia Ruskin University) – Conducting a realist review of music therapy in advanced dementia care: learning to think ‘how’ and ‘why’.

Naomi described how her study on the use of music therapy in NHS inpatient mental health dementia care had started with a quality improvement project, before a successful NIHR bid led to her current PhD study to design and pilot the use of a music intervention.

Naomi guided the audience through the some of the literature available and anecdotal reports of how music therapy can benefit patients despite not being routinely available, and identified the need to establish the theory to explain why music therapy helps to reduce distress. To achieve this, Naomi described the realism framework and programme theory, which will be used in the study.

The study has already been registered with PROSPERO and received ethical approval from ARU. Naomi acknowledged the potential impact on patients from offering the intervention during the trial and then removing this when the trial ends.

Afternoon workshop:

Professor Garry Barton, Research Design Service (East of England) – Developing a research grant application.

Garry provided an overview of services available from the Research Design Service (RDS), which include support with developing research questions, mock submission and/or interview panels, financial support (e.g., Public Involvement Fund), and mentorship for less experienced researchers.

Garry outlined the different types of funding call programmes and directed people to the website for examples of NIHR studies and awards.

  • Researcher-led: Open, applicant submits proposal.
  • Commissioned: Pre-specified questions prioritised by NIHR.
  • Themed: Topic areas prioritised.

When applying for a call or fellowship, Garry highlighted some of the key areas the funding panel will be looking for in your application:

  • Person: Why you?
  • Project: Is the question important?
  • Place: Why this ‘x’ in EoE?
  • Training: Quality of training

Garry spoke about the importance of ‘proof of concept’, ensuring the applicant has provided a clear overview of the background, prevalence, current approaches, before explaining why the proposed study will provide the solution or result in benefits. The involvement of stakeholders/PPIE should also be clearly defined.

Further support is available on the NIHR website (e.g., applications, funding).

Q&A panel and roundup:

The second half of the afternoon provided the audience an opportunity to ask questions to the panel of Helen Hall (Research Paramedic, JPUH), Prof Garry Barton (RDS, EoE), Lyndsey Spillman (Specialist Dietitian, Addenbrookes and final year PhD student) and Kyle Cox (Lecturer, University of Suffolk).

Ruth closed the event with a summary of the day, thanking everyone who had presented a topic or poster and awarding individual prizes for the best presentation and poster as follows:

Best oral presentation: Kyle Cox – Therapeutic Radiographers’ perceived barriers to holistic LGBTQ+ inclusive care in radiotherapy.

Best poster presentation: Kate Harrall – Life is completely unrecognisable… it has affected everything: perspectives of people with Long Covid at 12-months post illness onset.

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