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22 March 2021

Sheffield researchers to lead major study seeking to understand what matters most to patients with colitis and Crohn’s disease


Researchers from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are to play a leading role in a major new study that aims to change the way healthcare services respond to the needs of people living with inflammatory bowel disease by putting the patient’s voice at the centre of care.

The £450,000 grant award, which is being funded by the Health Foundation’s Common Ambition programme, seeks to create partnerships, led by people living with inflammatory bowel disease, to co-design future services and improve care.

It is one of four national projects selected from over 350 national applicants.

The research will be led by Professor Alan Lobo, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals in partnership with the University of Sheffield and Crohn’s and Colitis UK.

It will build on previous research awards given to Professor Lobo and his team at Sheffield’s inflammatory bowel disease centre that put patients at the heart of decision-making.

The study evaluation will be led by Professor Dan Hind of the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research, who are recognised for their world leading health services research.

Advances in treatments of inflammatory bowel disease have been rapid in the past few years, with more and more new drugs and affordable therapies becoming available. This includes powerful drugs that target the immune response and biosimilar drugs, newer versions of original licensed biological drugs, that can be given to patients in hospital through a drip or at home by injection pen. However, there remain limitations in patients’ opportunities to express to healthcare professionals what is important to them and to develop personalised care.

During the three-year study, the team will actively engage with lesser heard voices in the community, helped by independent charity Voiceability, including those from ethnic minority backgrounds, disadvantaged groups and women’s groups, to understand what matters to them.

All 4,000 patients attending Sheffield’s specialist inflammatory bowel centre will be invited to participate in a way that is accessible to them. There will also be an app to deliver real time information from people with inflammatory bowel disease to clinicians.

Professor Alan Lobo, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and chief investigator of the study, said: “This is a really exciting project which could represent a radical shift in the way groups of healthcare services engage with patients. As one of the largest inflammatory bowel disease centres in the country, this is also excellent news for Sheffield as we can recruit large numbers of patients and engage with a huge and diverse population. We will be communicating with all our patients about the study in due course, and reaching out to lesser heard voices to further understand what matters to them.”

Inflammatory bowel disease affects 300,000 people in the UK (or roughly 1 in every 210 people). Crohn’s and colitis disease are the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease.


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