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December 2021

Janice BallieI am delighted to introduce this issue of the newsletter, highlighting so many inspirational stories of involvement and participation from around the UK. This year the research community has continued its efforts to address the impact of COVID-19.

Examples of two such studies are: The PANORAMIC trial, being led by the University of Oxford at sites across the UK, which will test new antiviral treatments for COVID-19 to help patients to stay at home without the need for hospital admission. And SIMPLIFY is a new trial being carried out by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in England and Health and Care Wales, looking at a multi-cancer blood test called Galleri. Both have the potential to change lives.

An article on health inequalities reminds us of the need to ensure that people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to participate in research.

This year’s NIHR survey found that 93% of respondents in England who got involved in research felt valued by researchers and we want to encourage others to take up the challenge. 

In another blog, Jeremy Taylor, NIHR’s Director of Public Voice, tells us of five ways that working with the public will be improved over the coming months in NIHR.

There are plenty of examples of participation and involvement from around the UK so please read on. I look forward to our continued journey in 2022.

Dr Janice Bailie
Assistant Director, HSC R&D Division, Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland.

Get involved

UK-wide COVID-19 antiviral study launches

Researchers at the University of Oxford - in partnership with the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) - are trying to find safe and effective COVID-19 treatments to help people to recover at home and you have an opportunity to help by joining a national priority study called PANORAMIC.

The trial aims to find antiviral treatments that reduce hospital admission and speed-up recovery for people with COVID-19, who are at home and in the early stages of infection. The first antiviral treatment to be investigated through the trial will be molnupiravir (brand name Lagevrio).

How to take part

To take part, you will need to have had a positive COVID-19 test result and be experiencing COVID-19 symptoms which started within the last five days. You also need to be aged 50 years and over, or 18 years and over with an underlying health condition, such as asthma.

Eligible participants can join online or over the phone from the comfort of their own home. We will courier all the information you need directly to you at home. You will also receive a symptom diary, and you may receive a treatment to take.

Find out more on Be Part of Research

Multi-cancer early detection blood test study opens

The NIHR and Health and Care Research Wales are supporting a new study called SYMPLIFY that will investigate a novel multi-cancer early detection test, known as Galleri, for patients with non-specific symptoms that may be a result of cancer. Galleri is a blood test that can detect over 50 different types of cancers with a low false-positive rate of less than 1percent. To find out more and to see if you’re eligible to take part, visit the study page.

Mental health study opens in Scotland

A ground-breaking research project to better understand how people living with severe, complex and/or enduring mental illnesses experience stigma and discrimination has opened in Scotland. You can take part in the survey here.


High numbers of research participants believe their contribution is valued by researchers

Each year the NIHR asks research participants about their experiences of taking part, to see what we’re doing well and understand areas where we can improve. Results from the 2020/21 NIHR Clinical Research Network Participant in Research Experience Survey (PRES) show that 93% of participants in England felt the contribution they made to research through taking part was valued by the researchers and study teams. 96% felt they received adequate information and 94% would go on to take part in research again. Read the findings.

World AIDS day    

To mark World AIDS Day on 1 December, this latest blog looks at what has been achieved so far and highlights some of the current research funded and delivered by the NIHR in England.

Back pain research

One in six adults in the UK suffers from some form of back pain but the cause can be difficult to diagnose, and in many cases, it will resolve on its own with no medical intervention needed. Read about the types of back pain research happening and how you can take part.

Exploring health inequalities    

In our blog, we talk to Professor Clare Bambra from the NIHR School of Public Health Research to understand why life expectancy differs in different parts of England across the UK, and look at what is happening to help address health inequalities.

In Wales, Public Health Wales and DECIPHer undertake health improvement research to improve the health of the population and reduce health inequalities. In Northern Ireland, the Cross-border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN) aims to address inequalities in the border regions of Northern Ireland and Ireland through 11 cross border Health Care Intervention trials. Public Health Scotland is Scotland’s lead national agency for improving and protecting the health and wellbeing of all of Scotland’s people, including a focus on reducing health inequalities.

More access to research findings for members of the public 

After extensive engagement with stakeholders, including the public, the NIHR has announced a new Open Access policy. This policy will increase the number of NIHR research articles published with open access and expand the ways in which researchers can make their research articles more widely available. 

NIHR's next steps for working with patients and the public

NIHR has long led the way in partnership working with patients and the public to shape and conduct research in health and social care. In this blog, Jeremy Taylor, NIHR Director for Public Voice, highlights how we plan to improve our work in this area following a series of workshops with the research community and public contributors.     


Getting started on Be Part of Research

If you haven’t used the Be Part of Research website before, or are just keen to find out more about how it works, this walk-through video should explain some of the benefits and features of the service.

Research news

Stay up-to-date

You can also find this newsletter in Welsh.
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