"Our patient advisory group has been invaluable"

  • 15 September 2020

The BRC’s Cardiovascular theme has been working with its patient advisory group (PAG) since 2017. Jade Salter-Hewitt, Senior Clinical Trials Research Administrator, shares how the group has evolved and the contribution it makes.

Our group is made up of nine members, all of whom are either living with chronic heart conditions or caring for someone who is. We meet four times a year to discuss and collaborate on the research that is being developed within the theme.

The group has been involved in a diverse range of research projects, for example:

  • working with surgeons to discuss the feasibility of developing research to explore dental hygiene and oral health in adults who are having planned cardiac surgery
  • developing dissemination plans for the results of the AIRWAYS-2 trial. This trial compared both the clinical and cost effectiveness of the i-gel supraglottic airway device with tracheal intubation in the initial airway management of patients who have had a cardiac arrest outside hospital.

Much of the research we are involved with is complex and challenging, and this is where having patients and members of the public involved is so important. A good example is the INSPIRE study as it involves a lifestyle intervention and requires extra hospital visits. Our PAG members’ input on this study ensured that we optimised recruitment and engagement of participants.

The Cardiovascular theme works hard to ensure that all research studies have patient and public involvement embedded within them. The oversight provided by the PAG plays an essential role.

Andy Short is one of the members of our Cardiovascular PAG. He says:

“I want to help the NHS wherever I reasonably can, including personal fundraising challenges, so joining the PAG seemed a logical step to take.

“It is interesting to meet the staff undertaking research and trials, and this is a good opportunity to get to know them and their work. One particular piece of research we’ve been working on is the CO2 trial. This is investigating the use of carbon dioxide to displace air at the end of open heart surgery, to see if it reduces the effects of localised blood flow interruption caused by remaining gas bubbles.

“At meetings, we find out about proposals for research projects and investigations and are asked for our comments, which can be as broad as our views on the value of the research. We represent ‘Joe Public’. We can comment on how the presentation of any trial might influence public or patient perception.”

Dr Lucy Culliford, Senior Research Fellow at Bristol Medical School and the Bristol Trials Centre, added:

“The PAG has been invaluable, as at every interaction there has been at least one piece of information or viewpoint that would not have been gained in any other way.

“The members bring diverse backgrounds and experiences to the work of the theme and their input ensures that the unit remains grounded in its research aspirations.”

Join the Patient Advisory Group

The Patient Advisory Group welcomes new members. If you are either living with a chronic heart condition or caring for someone who is, and would like to help us with our research into treatments for Cardiovascular Disease, please contact Jade Salter-Hewitt.