NIHR Global Health Research Group on Improving Stroke Care, University of Central Lancashire
Name: Professor Dame Caroline Watkins
Institution: University of Central Lancashire
Summary of Work:
Stroke is a worldwide health problem and, with heart disease, is now the most common cause of death globally. In low to middle income countries (LMICs) like India, the number of people having and dying from stroke is increasing. India now has the third-highest number of people dying from stroke of any country. People in India also tend to have strokes younger than people in wealthier countries like the UK – in their 50s rather than in their 70s. This often causes immense hardship for them and their family.
There has been great progress in stroke audit and research in the UK in the past 20 years, which has led to major improvements in stroke service organisation and care. These improvements have reduced death and disability from stroke. Our GHRG will work in partnership across the UK and India (with support from key colleagues in Australia) to improve stroke care in India. The group brings together multidisciplinary researchers with expertise in a range of methodological approaches, with differing professional backgrounds, experience, at different stages of their research careers, and with expertise in truly collaborative global health research and development.
We will co-design, develop, support and undertake a programme of research relevant to the needs of patients, carers and health professionals in India. Whilst this research will work with India’s current stroke services and systems, it will have the potential to support system change and through implementing research findings in practice will reduce the burden of stroke in India. This research will gain global recognition and inform stroke care across the world.
There will be 3 key stages:
1) We will work in partnership to agree on research priorities using co-developed criteria. These criteria are likely to include elements of stroke unit care that will benefit as many people as possible, and which are affordable and achievable in Indian healthcare settings. Priorities are likely to include elements of emergency stroke care (e.g. assessment), acute care (e.g. monitoring), rehabilitation (e.g. self-practice) and the organisation of care. We will agree the exact priorities by consulting with patients, carers, and a multidisciplinary group of healthcare providers and professionals in India.
2) We will conduct robust feasibility studies on these priorities at three centres in India. As well as having experience of setting up large global studies, we have expertise in feasibility studies of simple and complex interventions. We will work together to develop new systems for collecting research data in India. We will also provide opportunities for healthcare staff in India who wish to develop their skills and experience in undertaking research, and interested in implementing findings in practice.
3) We will reinforce our partnership through developing a longer-term, sustainable, programme of stroke research and service development with teams in India and other LMICs. We will pursue further funding, and ensure that the research findings are available to healthcare staff and policy makers.