Dr Gareth Thompson along with colleagues and members of the CRG within the School of Nursing and Midwifery at QUB recently ran a conference on ‘World Heart Day’ (29th September 2023) at the Great Hall. The event had the following aims:
• Raising awareness of cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment.
• Equipping patients, carers, and professionals with knowledge of the latest cardiac research conducted at QUB.
• Highlighting the importance of patient and public involvement (PPI) input in maximising research quality and integrity.
• Providing an effective networking opportunity for delegates.
Approximately 100 delegates attended, comprising patients and carers / family members (majority); academics / researchers; healthcare professionals; and PPI members from the CRG. This allowed dissemination of evidence-based information about CVD prevention and treatment to a large group. Delegates were informed of the practical implications of recent research (easy-to-follow guidance and ‘top tips’ on knowledge implementation). An expert panel (professionals and PPI members) led a discussion on effectively involving patients and carers in research, with Professor Donna Fitzsimons advancing this topic by expertly detailing how the patient voice and experience should underpin policy and clinical practice changes. This information educated delegates on the importance of effective PPI and methods of best practice. Those interested in PPI were invited to join the CRG at QUB, which will enhance the quality of cardiac research conducted. The conference brought together patients, carers, professionals, and patient support groups, resulting in effective networking and improved patient support. The event was co-chaired by Dr Gareth Thompson and Mr Nick Harrison (PPI member of the CRG), with the speakers comprising healthcare professionals, academics, and a patient. QUB staff supervised undergraduate nursing students when facilitating health assessments for delegates. Three patient support organisations were in attendance: British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cardiomyopathy UK, and Heart Failure Warriors Northern Ireland. Representatives from the BHF and Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland expressed an interest in future collaboration with this event. The HSC R&D Division funding enabled the conference to be facilitated and allowed the inclusion of England-based PPI members in the delivery of the event. This has resulted in the establishment of an annual ‘Heart Health’ conference run by the CRG, which will aim to support and educate patients, carers, and professionals on World Heart Day.
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