Helping inspire the next generation of scientists

What triggers asthma symptoms?

Can you identify celebrities who live with the condition?

How much lung capacity do you have?

These were just some of the questions we asked visitors to our stall at the 2018 Barts and Queen Mary Science Festival held at Queen Mary University of London’s Mile End campus on 20 June.

The CLAHRC was represented by the My Asthma in School project team at the event aimed at secondary schools and young people interested in a career in science and medicine.

We took the chance to give visitors information on symptoms and managing the condition in schools, and raising awareness among young people they can better understand and support fellow pupils with asthma.

They could also test their lung capacity and put their results on a peak flow rate chart to see how they rated against other young people (below). The team is looking for schools to take part in their work. Signing up your school is quick and easy and will help your school support & empower young people with asthma.

The Exhibitors at the festival provided hands on activities to encourage students to learn more about careers in science.

Now in its eighth year, the 2018 festival was supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Barts Health NHS Trust and Queen Mary University of London, and Trials Connect.

Thank you to the team and for the invite from Barts and QMUL.

My health in school website up and running

CLAHRC researchers based at Queen Mary University working to positively transform the health of young people have launched the My health in school initiative and website.

‘My Health in School’ aims to support young people’s health via school-based projects.

The My health in school team (below) also includes researchers and communications experts from Queen Mary University of London, and will initially focus will on asthma in young people aged 11-13, building on CLAHRC research and engagement with young people.

Previous collaborations with pupils, teachers and parents has spawned a number of innovations to engage and educate young people living with asthma and their peers. Outputs already developed include board and computer games, a drama being delivered in a number of schools and a short film.

The team is working with Professor Jonathan Grigg, who leads several studies about asthma and lung health in children and young people.

As well as support from NIHR CLAHRC North Thames other key collaborators, include:

  • Centre of the Cell
  • GLYPT (Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre)
  • Healthy London Partnership
  • Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

The project is recruiting secondary schools across London – schools that are interested are encouraged to get in touch with the team – find out more about what being involved means here.

 

 

Developing innovative approaches to increasing awareness of asthma control among young people

In Control

Based on findings from research previously conducted by the school-based asthma project, part of our Child and Adolescent Health Theme, the team have worked with Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre to develop a theatre production addressing asthma control. The theatre piece In Control has been performed in schools since June 2017, and was recently featured as part of the British Science Festival held in Brighton 5th – 9th September 2017.

Photo credit: Gerard Monaco

The aim of the play is to change the perception and image of asthma among young people, in order to help those with asthma feel supported and therefore better able to manage their condition. Written as a collaboration between the theatre and research teams, young people with asthma were involved to advise on the storylines and dialogue to make the play as real and as accessible as possible.

In Control follows a 15-year old girl, Jazz with asthma through a week of detention with two of her classmates. Usually confident and outgoing, Jazz hides that she has asthma and is reluctant to accept help when finding it difficult to breathe. After the play, the protagonist stays in character as the students participate in a discussion of the themes raised, facilitated by the other two actors. Engaging the school audiences through theatre gives a new angle from which to involve young people in thinking and talking about the challenges faced by those with asthma.

Dr Gioia Mosler from QMUL said: “It was an amazing experience seeing the direct emotional effect that a play can have on these school groups. We have been hugely encouraged by the initial reactions to this project and we are already starting to study how effective this kind of intervention can be to help young people deal with their asthma.”

Dr Jonathan Grigg, professor of paediatric respiratory medicine at QMUL and project lead added: “We must develop innovative ways of improving asthma outcomes in children and young people. Our work with Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre has identified a new space where interventions can be delivered and tested outside the standard medical model.”

Photo credit: Tunde Euba

Dr Gioia Mosler, Outreach and Learning Manager for the school-based asthma project, and Tunde Euba, Arts Practitioner working with Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre, have written about the development of In Control for The Lancet: Taking Control Through Drama 

 Asthma Dodge

Also featured at the British Science Festival, was Asthma Dodge – a smartphone game developed in collaboration with the Centre of the Cell, a science education centre at Queen Mary University of London. In the game, the player takes the role of a young person with asthma. The aim is to run as fast as possible to reach the Centre of the Cell, dodging the asthma triggers along the way. Information about asthma is incorporated into the game, such as how asthma affects the airways, how different medication works, and the different types of triggers for asthma symptoms.

The ‘Asthma Dodge’ game can be downloaded from the Apple and Google Play stores; visit the Centre of the Cell website to read more. #Asthma Dodge

School-based Questionnaire on Asthma Control in London Secondary School Children

In a previous study from the school-based asthma project team, questionnaires completed by over 750 secondary school-aged students from schools in London revealed that only 54% of participants were managing their asthma well. Out of those whose asthma was not well controlled, almost half thought they had good asthma control. The school-based questionnaire also highlighted that students often feel uncomfortable about using an inhaler at school.

A short summary of this study can be found here, or read the full paper here.

 

 

CLAHRC asthma awareness video is making an impact

Our Behind the Jump video is impacting young people with asthma.

Our asthma schools study worked with Greenwich and Lewisham Young People’s Theatre (GLYPT) to produce the short asthma awareness film shot at the LEAP Parkour Park in Westminster, London.

A recent comment has high praise for the film

“The timing of the release of this video after the recent tragedy within our community felt particularly important. I’ve been asthmatic since I was three years old, and have a lung capacity so pitiful that it shocks and confuses doctors every time I get retested (“are you sure you did the test right??”) but when I’m out training Parkour I always feel my healthiest. I should be less lazy about using my inhalers, this was a good reminder. Great video.”

 

Podcast – A call for increased paediatric palliative care research: Identifying barriers

Palliative care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and life-threatening illnesses is a relatively new discipline, and one where current practice in services has developed beyond the evidence base available. Barriers to conducting research in this area are numerous, and span the entire length of the research process.

CLAHRC researchers from the BRAVES project, based at the Louis Dundas Centre, are working to identify these barriers to recruiting children with life-limiting conditions to research, and to develop solutions.

“Establishing robust evidence is going to require concerted effort on everyone’s part: clinicians, parents, patients, and researchers.”

Professor Myra Bluebond-Langner, principal investigator on the BRAVES project, has recently recorded a podcast with the journal Palliative Medicine, discussing the need for an increased understanding of barriers to research in paediatric palliative care, findings from the project so far, and outlining the future research planned by the team. 

Initial findings from the study, and previous work at the Louis Dundas Centre, have suggested that fundamental barriers exist at both the individual level, e.g. clinicians’ attitudes to involving young people in research, as well as at the institutional level, e.g. ethics committees and resource constraints, even though children and young people want to participate in research.

 “So, why, if we no longer accept paternalism in clinical practice, are we willing to accept it, indeed demur to it, in research practice?

The overall goal of the BRAVES project is to develop guidance based on the experience of all stakeholders, which in turn will help to develop the evidence base in the field of paediatric palliative care.

Based on the findings outlined in the podcast, the research team has since conducted a study investigating the experiences and difficulties of chief investigators recruiting children and young people with life-limiting conditions and life-threatening illnesses to research. The findings from this study are expected to be published soon. The next step for the CLAHRC researchers is to analyse data collected from a nationwide research groups’ applications to Research Ethics Committees, and to interview members of these committees to develop further insights.

Click here to read the journal article on which this podcast is based.

The value of theory in programmes to implement clinical guidelines: Insights from a retrospective mixed-methods evaluation of a programme to increase adherence to national guidelines for chronic disease in primary care