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Research Impact

Research develops family resilience

This research programme by Professor Carolyn Wallace and Professor David Pontin clearly demonstrates our approach to impact through the development of strong strategic partnerships in conjunction with knowledge exchange strategies. They identified the problem of family therapy derived measurements of ‘family resilience’ impeding the ability of Health Visitors (HVs) to appropriately assess this construct in everyday practice in order to better support families, improve child health and developmental outcomes. 

Extensive existing partnerships across Health Boards and Community Nursing facilitated the development of the FRAIT (as a more robust and relevant resilience assessment tool) in a participatory way, involving practicing HVs at all stages, including virtual simulation modelling of the tool in the USW Hydra Simulation Centre. The effectiveness of this approach is evidenced by the rapid and extensive impact of this research. The FRAIT has been adopted into Welsh Government policy through its ‘Healthy Child Wales’ programme (2016). It has made an impact on the professional practice of all Health Visitors (HV) working with families and pre-school children throughout Wales. Every NHS employed HV now uses FRAIT to assess family resilience and aid decision making about interventions to improve a family’s resilience, and child health and developmental outcomes. 

The success of the FRAIT tool has garnered overseas interest, with the International Family Resilience Network established to share expertise and provide support to similar projects abroad, most recently in India.

Influencing policy on alcohol-related brain damage

Chronic and excessive consumption of alcohol can damage the function and structure of the brain leading to a spectrum of conditions known as Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD), which is frequently under or mis-diagnosed. Importantly, ARBD is not degenerative if identified quickly and treated appropriately.  

Over the past six years the Addictions Research Group led by Professor Bev John and Professor Gareth Roderique-Davies, has been conducting innovative research to advance understanding of ARBD, working closely with external partners who include Alcohol Change UK, The Pobl Group and leading addiction clinicians Dr Julia Lewis and Dr Raman Sakhuja, both Visiting Professors in the Addictions Research Group.

The research findings have underpinned the development of a Substance Misuse Treatment Framework in partnership with Public Health Wales on behalf of Welsh Government. They have implemented key recommendations of the Framework through designing and rolling out training packages that raise awareness and improve outcomes in ARBD for patients and other key stakeholders. The next stage is developing screening measures and brief interventions which will produce further positive impact in the near future. See ARBD Wales for more details.

Spiritual care in nursing and healthcare

Professor Linda Ross has pioneered this aspect of nursing and midwifery for many years, culminating in an international collaborative programme of spirituality research over the past decade. Her work demonstrates the positive impact of embedding research into teaching curricula, as well as the importance of participatory research methodologies. Many hundreds of pre-registration nursing/midwifery students from eight countries have participated in the various stages of this research programme that has used students’ personal operational definitions of spirituality to inform effective methods of teaching and learning in relation to this construct. 

The spiritual care competencies that have been developed from this research are impacting on undergraduate nurse/midwifery education in Wales and internationally. There is also wider impact on the education of qualified nurses and of other healthcare staff in the UK and Europe, as well as on UK healthcare policy, and ultimately on patient care. 

Stakeholders include The Royal College of Nursing, NMC, Public Health England, NHS England, The Dutch Ethical Board, The Norwegian Nursing Association, and The Dutch Higher Education Board. See EPICC for more details.