The Code reminds us that we must always practise in line with the best available evidence. Nursing research provides evidence that helps nurses advocate for clients and ensure that the nursing care they receive is well informed and based on the best available evidence. Nurses engage in research in various ways as part of their day to day practice but some may be employed in specific roles such as clinical nurse researchers or nurse researchers.
Clinical nurse researchers are found in clinical practice and frequently have advanced and specialist clinical skills. Clinical nurse researchers are directly involved in research projects related to patient care and treatments; co-ordinating and managing clinical trials; ensuring that patient safety , research governance requirements and study protocols and procedures are adhered to during a project .
Nurse researchers are largely concerned with the acquisition and development of new nursing knowledge for the advancement of the discipline. Nurse researchers are mainly found in university settings and are skilled in research methodologies. However, nurse researchers also frequently practice clinically and explore clinical nursing research questions as well as academic questions.
It has been recognised that there is a need to develop and support individuals who undertake heath research and promote health research as a career opportunity. The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is the UK’s major funder of applied health research. One of the programmes it supports, in conjunction with Health Education England (HEE) is the Integrated Clinical Academic Programme for non-medical healthcare professions.
NIHR training programmes provide opportunities for all professionals to improve the health of patients in their care through research. The National Health Service (NHS) is committed to finding new and better ways of working with patients and the public to improve healthcare services. I am currently a co-research group participant in a study which is being led by a General Practitioner (GP) with an interest in how to support and develop Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) as part of a National Institute for Health Research doctoral research fellowship. PPGs in GP surgeries are seen as a way of improving general practice services and the aim of the study is to design and test a clear role for PPGs in improving GP services. This is an example of practice based research which is seeking to improve the experience of clients in the delivery of health care services.
Here at the University of Salford the Salford Institute for Dementia was created to conduct vital research into living well with dementia. The Institute is involved in designing dementia-friendly buildings, gardens, urban spaces and transport networks so individuals living with dementia and their carers can live with purpose and meaning. The Institute shares knowledge, educates professionals and members of the public and conducts research.
The Institute has five research themes one of which is care and support. Take a look at some of the latest publications from the Institute in relation to this theme. A new hub space has been created on the Allerton Campus of the University of Salford for the Institute team to connect with partner organisations. The hub will also be the new venue for the Salford Institute for Dementia monthly dementia café, SIDS café, and our new Good Life club for people living with dementia in the local area.
On a major national and international scale UK Biobank aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses.
Between 2006 – 2010 500,000 people aged between 40-69 years; including me, were recruited from across the country to take part in the UK Biobank health resource project. We have undergone measures, provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis and detailed information about ourselves and agreed to have our health followed. In time this information will become a powerful resource to help scientists discover why some people develop particular diseases and others do not.
In addition to information collected during the baseline assessment, 100,000 UK Biobank participants; including me, have worn a 24-hour activity monitor for a week, (that was interesting) and 20,000 have undertaken repeat measures. We have completed online questionnaires about our diet, cognitive function, work history and digestive health.
100,000 UK Biobank participants; including me, have allowed UK Biobank to scan our brains, heart, abdomen, bones and carotid arteries. Computerised Axial Tomography (CAT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for the greater good rather personal diagnosis was challenging but participants are fully aware of the important legacy of information which they are providing for bona fide researchers anywhere in the world who are undertaking health research in the public good. The researchers are obliged to return their findings to UK Biobank when their work is complete, so that other scientists can benefit. UK Biobank is linking to a wide range of electronic health records and is developing algorithms to accurately identify diseases and their sub-sets. Our hormone and cholesterol levels have been analysed and our Genotypes identified all in the interests of health research. We will be followed by UK Biobank for many years as they continue to develop this research resource. You may be interested to read UK Biobank’s latest news or read some of the research which has already been published.
UK Biobank holds its Annual Meeting at Manchester Town Hall on Thursday 29 June 2017 reviewing the progress which has been made in the last year and particularly focusing on the role of genetics, UK Biobank data as a powerful resource to enable global health research, the benefits and challenges of following health over many years and sharing some of the research opportunities following the imaging of 100,000 participants.
Research is an important facet of healthcare, and whether you are a researcher or a research subject, or both, you will be making a difference to our collective understanding of the needs of individuals. So; if like me, you are ever asked to participate in a research project or trial please consider the request seriously.