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Press Release

Press release

HRB invests €5.7 million in research leaders in health

12 February 2016

The Health Research Board has appointed four new Research Leaders in the areas of suicide prevention, safe prescribing, dementia care and team leadership in the health services. The awards are designed to build capacity in areas of strategic importance for health delivery in Ireland. They will ensure senior people have dedicated time to generate relevant evidence to inform decision-making in these key areas.

According to Graham Love, Chief Executive of the Health Research Board,

‘These awards are designed to address knowledge gaps in our health service. If you want to turn good services into brilliant ones, then research will give you that edge’.

These awards were expressly created to bring together some of our best researchers and those actually responsible for delivering care services. They will advance evidence-informed decision-making in our healthcare services. Along with the four HRB Research Leader posts, these grants will support more than 15 research personnel to underpin the various work programmes. Additionally the HRB Research Leaders will act as role models and mentors to help build a ‘critical mass’ of people with the specialist skills required to conduct population health and health services research, and apply their findings into policy and practice.
 
A synopsis of each award can be found below with more complete details in the Notes for Editors.

1. HRB Research Leader Prof Ella Arensman, University College Cork and the National Suicide Research Foundation
Project Title: Individual and Area Level Determinants of Self-Harm and Suicide in Ireland: Enhancing Prediction, Risk Assessment and Management of Self-Harm by Health Services
Award amount €1.4 million over five years

Synopsis: This programme will improve the care provided in Irish hospitals for people who engage in self-harm, with the ultimate goal to reduce repeated self-harm and suicide nationally. It will examine predictive factors associated with increased risk of self-harm and suicide and implement a pulse system of early identification of emerging suicide and self-harm.  A full lay summary of the project can be found in the Notes for Editors section.

2. HRB Research Leader Prof Kathleen Bennett, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Project title: Statistical epidemiology in Population Health and Health Services Research: Quality and Patient Safety in Medicines
Award amount €1.4 million over five years

Synopsis: This award will provide detailed information and evidence about Adverse Drug Events (ADE) in primary care and hospital settings with a view to devising an evidence-informed approach to reduce ADEs in the Irish healthcare setting. Dr Bennett’s full lay summary is available in the Notes for Editors section.

3. HRB Research Leader Professor Eamon O'Shea, National University of Ireland, Galway
Project title: National Centre for Social Research on Dementia
Partners: Genio, Health Services Executive Programme Lead for National Dementia Strategy, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Nursing Homes Ireland.
Award amount €1.6 million over five years

Synopsis: This award will provide the research framework to support the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy. The research programme will investigate optimal, person-centred pathways to care and placement for people on the margins of home care and residential care. It will examine the economic, social and emotional costs of caring for people with dementia, with particular emphasis non-pharmacological approaches to care. Professor O’Shea’s full lay summary is available in the Notes for Editors.
 
4. HRB Research Leader Professor Eilish McAuliffe, University College Dublin
Project Title: Collective Leadership and Safety Cultures (CO-LEAD)
Award amount €1.4 million.

Synopsis: The programme will implement leadership development interventions for groups of leaders at different levels within the hospital groups and test the impact of these interventions on staff performance and patient safety. The overall aim is to support quality and safety cultures through the development of a new model of healthcare leadership that is associated with effective team performance. Professor McAuliffe’s full lay summary is available in the Notes for Editors section.

Ends.

For further information, please contact Gillian Markey, e gmarkey(at)hrb.ie; m 087 2288514

Notes to Editors

The HRB Research Leader Awards were designed to:

  1. To support high quality, applied research that is relevant to healthcare system managers, healthcare providers and/or policy makers.
  2. To facilitate strong research leadership in Population Health and Health Services Research (PHHSR) that meets strategic needs at local and national level.
  3. To establish a critical mass of research leaders in PHHSR who will act as role models and mentors.
  4. To address national gaps in leadership in key disciplines, methodologies and/or skill-sets.
  5. To support universities in developing and strengthening education programmes in applied health and policy research.

Full details of the four awards are below.

1. HRB Research Leader Prof Ella Arensman
Project Title: Individual and Area Level Determinants of Self-Harm and Suicide in Ireland: Enhancing Prediction, Risk Assessment and Management of Self-Harm by Health Services
Partners: UCC, Epidemiology and Public Health, Professor; UCC, National Suicide Research  Foundation, Obstetrics and Gynaecology/Epidemiology and Public Health, Senior Lecturer; Cork University Hospital, Liaison Psychiatry Department, Consultant Psychiatrist; NUIM, National Centre for Geo-computation/Department of Geography, Senior Lecturer/ Department Head; HSE, National Office for Suicide Prevention, Director.
Award amount: €1.4 million.

Synopsis: This programme will improve the care provided in Irish hospitals for people who engage in self-harm, with the ultimate goal to reduce repeated self-harm and suicide nationally. It will examine predictive factors associated with increased risk of self-harm and suicide and implement a pulse system of early identification of emerging suicide and self-harm. 

Full lay summary: In Ireland, suicide and self-harm in Ireland are major public health issues. The National Self-Harm Registry Ireland has identified significant variation across hospitals in the assessment and management of patients presenting to hospital for self-harm, with a significant number of patients leaving without a care plan.

Professor Arensman intends to improve the care provided in Irish hospitals for people engaging in self-harm, which is expected to reduce repeated self-harm and suicide nationally. The vision of the proposed partnership between the National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF), UCC, the National Clinical Care Programme for Mental Health (NCCP-MH) and the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), is for Ireland to take a leading role in improving the care for people who engage in self-harm and to reduce repeated self-harm and suicide.

The NCCP-MH and the new National Strategy to Reduce Suicide in Ireland, Connecting for Life, 2015-2020, overseen by the NOSP, prioritise the improved assessment and management of self-harm patients presenting to hospitals in Ireland and the early identification of self-harm and suicide clusters. However, resources for addressing these strategic priorities are lacking.  Therefore, in conducting the 5-year research programme, Prof Arensman will:

  • Examine predictive factors associated with risk of repeated self-harm and suicide among people with a history of multiple self-harm acts and those engaging in highly lethal self-harm acts.
  • Develop, implement and assess the effectiveness of a sustainable Self-harm Assessment and Management programme for General Hospitals (SAMAGH).
  • Develop and implement a pulse system for early identification of emerging suicide and self-harm.

The combined expertise of the NSRF, partners in national and international centres of excellence, and partners in policy and clinical practice, will ensure both academic rigor, and positive and sustainable impact on the capacity and quality of health services in responding to self-harm and preventing suicide.

2. HRB Research Leader  Prof Kathleen Bennett
Project title: Statistical epidemiology in Population Health and Health Services Research: Quality and Patient Safety in Medicines
Partners: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, HRB Centre for Primary Care Research; National Director, HSE Directorate Quality and Patient Safety.
Award amount: €1.4 million.

Synopsis: This award will provide detailed information and evidence about Adverse Drug Events (ADE) in primary care and hospital settings with a view to devising an evidence-informed approach to reduce ADEs in the Irish healthcare setting.

Full lay summary: The Irish population is getting older and this is leading to an increase in the use of medications.  The number of people on 5 or more regular medicines increased greatly from 1997 to 2012. It is known that increases in number of medicines leads to problems of drug interactions, problems taking medicines (adherence), increased drug costs and adverse drug events (ADEs). 
ADEs are defined as harm caused by a drug or the inappropriate use of a drug and account for approximately 15-20% of all healthcare related adverse events. How well medicines are taken can also have an effect on health outcomes.
 
The focus of this research programme is on medication quality and safety. The specific objectives are:

  • To provide an estimate of the extent, type, severity and factors predicting ADEs in older patients in primary care.
  • To provide an estimate of the extent, type and severity of ADEs resulting in hospital admission and associated costs.
  • To model, develop and test feasibility of an intervention to help reduce ADEs in primary care.
  • To determine the association between medication-taking behaviour, changes to medicines and outcomes including ADEs, quality of life, healthcare utilisation and disease progression.
  • To estimate the national burden, costs and outcomes of ADEs and poor adherence to medicines.

3. HRB Research Leader Professor Eamon O'Shea, National University of Ireland, Galway
Project title: National Centre for Social Research on Dementia
Partners: Genio, Health Services Executive Programme Lead for National Dementia Strategy, Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Nursing Homes Ireland.
Award amount €1.6 million.

Synopsis: This award will provide the research framework to support the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy. The research programme will investigate optimal, person-centred pathways to care and placement for people on the margins of home care and residential care. It will examine the economic, social and emotional costs of caring for people with dementia, with particular emphasis non-pharmacological approaches to care.

Full lay summary: This award will provide the research framework to support the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy. The research programme will investigate optimal, person-centred pathways to care and placement for people on the margins of home care and residential care. It will examine the economic, social and emotional costs of caring for people with dementia, with particular emphasis on non-pharmacological approaches to care. It includes exploring the potential and development of a pilot randomised control trial investigating the impact of exercise on quality of life for people with dementia in care settings. The investment will promote and build capacity in economic and social research on dementia, develop the next generation of research leaders in the area, and engage directly with health policy makers and practitioners. It encompass a partnership approach amongst all stakeholder groups from people with dementia to researchers, healthcare providers and health policy makers with a view to enhancing and enriching the lives of people with dementia. The work will be hosted at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at NUI Galway and will complement the university’s existing investment in social gerontology and health economics.


4. HRB Research Leader Professor Eilish McAuliffe, University College Dublin
Project Title: Collective Leadership and Safety Cultures (CO-LEAD)
Research partners: HSE Director General, HSE; Ireland East Hospital Group, CEO; The King's Fund/ Lancaster University: Management School, Senior Research Fellow/ Professor of Organisational Psychology
Award amount: €1.4 million.

Synopsis: The programme will implement leadership development interventions for groups of leaders at different levels within the hospital groups and test the impact of these interventions on staff performance and patient safety. The overall aim is to support quality and safety cultures through the development of a new model of healthcare leadership that is associated with effective team performance. Professor McAuliffe’s full lay summary is available in the Notes for Editors section.

Full lay summary: Recent concerns about quality and patient safety in healthcare raise issues about the leadership and management of our health services. The report Building a Culture of Patient Safety identified a number of serious patient safety-related issues in the health system including weak governance structures, poor communication processes, poor working relationships between clinicians and management, lack of senior clinical leadership within organisations, lack of clarity on reporting relationships and failure to participate in continuous professional development. A major contributory factor is failure to invest in leadership development and the lack of an evidence base to support a consistent approach to the training and development of leaders. 

This research programme will draw on emerging theories on collective leadership. Collective leadership is not the role of a formal leader, but the interaction of team members to lead the team by sharing in leadership responsibilities.  It is not a characteristic of an individual person, but involves the relational process of an entire team, group, or organisation. In contrast to traditional approaches that focus development on the individual as leader, the approach in this programme of work will be on developing the team as a dynamic leadership entity.  Rather than starting from a top-down competency framework-driven curriculum targeted at the individual as leader, development will be informed through a bottom-up service needs driven co-designed curriculum targeted at team members as co-leaders.  This represents a radical shift from current practice. 

The programme will implement leadership development interventions for groups of leaders at different levels within the hospital groups and test the impact of these interventions on staff performance and patient safety. The overall aim is to support quality and safety cultures through the development of a new model of healthcare leadership that is associated with effective team performance.

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