Following his recent appointment as Associate Dean for Research for Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD), Professor Adrian Taylor talks about his new role and the projects with which he’s involved.
“I was delighted to take on the role of Associate Dean for Research in PUPSMD in April for the next three years. I think this reflects the growing strength and interest in health services research, both within PUPSMD but also across the University of Plymouth. Within PUPSMD, working with colleagues in the newly launched Community and Primary Care Research Group, the Peninsula Clinical Trials Unit and the Medical Statistics group, we have been successful with NIHR bids worth over £7m to investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of complex interventions which aim to reduce health inequalities, and support those with complex health care needs.
Since moving from Exeter University (Sport and Health Sciences) four years ago, I have become lead for three quite different studies but which link together under the common themes of tackling inequalities and complex needs. All three studies are supported by PenCLAHRC.”
The first study e-coachER has recently completed four month follow-up assessments of 450 participants with at least one chronic condition, randomised to receive usual primary care exercise referral scheme support in Plymouth, Birmingham and Glasgow, or usual care plus access to a bespoke web-based support system with seven behaviour change steps for increasing physical activity. Preliminary data indicates the sample has a mean BMI of 33, is inactive and having co-morbidities is common with over half having low mood. Follow-up at 12 months of the primary outcome of minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity, from objective accelerometer data, will be completed in April 2018.
The second and third studies are similar in that they are concerned with the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a community health trainer led intervention compared with usual care.
Multi-centred EARS trial
Building on a successful Plymouth pilot (EARS) trial, an NIHR (HTA) award of £1.8m has allowed the team to set up a multi-centred trial (Plymouth, Oxford, Nottingham, St. George’s London) to determine if health trainer support can help smokers (particularly from disadvantaged communities) who don’t want to quit but do want to reduce may actually be more likely to be abstinent at 9 months than usual care. Recruitment starts in January 2018 and the PenCTU is busy preparing the bespoke trial management system which will also allow them to allocate, monitor and supervise health trainer activity across the four sites, led by Dr Tom Thompson. Funding for the Trial of physical Activity and Reduction of Smoking (TARS) study is for 44 months.
The team (including Drs Lynne Callaghan, Cath Quinn, Tom Thompson) is also learning a lot about the acceptability and feasibility of the trial methods and intervention in a study to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an adapted health trainer intervention for people in the criminal justice system, under community supervision. The pilot trial, costing over £700k (NIHR – RHR) has recruited almost 100 offenders in Plymouth and Manchester. The intervention focuses on supporting changes in physical activity, diet, smoking and alcohol use, plus the five ways for well-being, with a primary outcome of well-being after six months.
NIHR RfPB systematic review
Finally, Adrian is also involved in a £150k NIHR (RfPB) systematic review, led by Dr Tom Thompson, on the effects of sport, exercise and physical activity on alcohol and substance use. With a focus on both published and grey literature we hope it informs the design and evaluation of future research and service delivery, locally and nationally.
Collectively, the above work and other on-going studies with similar themes, are driving forwards interest and expertise across the University of Plymouth, under the banner of the cross-Faculty ‘Designing and Evaluating Complex Interventions’ research group. Adrian, in his role as PUPSMD ADR, also works closely with Oliver Hanemann, the Director of the Institute of Stratified and Translational Medicine and biomedical scientists and clinicians who now occupy the £17m Derriford Research Facility which opened in September.
To find out more about any of these projects, you can contact Adrian via his staff profile page.