Can you support our research into COVID-19 ?

2nd May 2020

What we have done so far, and our plans going forward

When doctors don’t know what to do, they turn to research. With no effective cure for the new coronavirus disease COVID-19, healthcare professionals need rapid supplies, not just of equipment and drugs, but also knowledge to help them cope with the unknown.

Doctors, nurses, physios and pharmacists at the CS Institute are working on the frontline with NHS COVID-19 patients and their families, delivering direct clinical care and supporting the NHS 7 days a week.  And thanks to support from Cicely Saunders International they are carrying out rapid research. This research is being fed directly back to frontline services nationally in the UK and being published online to contribute to the global knowledge base about what works, how it works, and how to make it work better.

What we have done so far

The Cicely Saunders Institute was quick off the blocks. Colleagues in Italy called urgently for research support earlier this year to absorb, evaluate and synthesise the new knowledge emerging, and to help them coordinate their response.  CSI’s Scientific Director, Irene Higginson travelled to Italy in February to engage directly in this work, now published on line

Importantly we believe that this early work on the role of hospices contributed to the calls for government support for hospices in the UK, covered by Bloomberg on 7th April, which resulted in increased public funding for hospices nationwide.

CSI Clinical Fellows Drs Lovell and Etkind have been working directly with COVID-patients capturing valuable data about the first 100+ patients treated in South London trusts, now published online in the Journal of Pain & Symptom Management

Non-clinical researchers at the CS Institute reacted swiftly to urgent clinical questions from the UK, Europe and globally as they emerged, for example around the management of fluids in COVID-19 .  A rapid review research taskforce was mobilised to investigate and publish a review of all COVID-19 research, to develop guidance for frontline physicians.

Our long-standing Breathlessness Programme meant that we were quickly able to provide guidance for respiratory physicians and intensivists on the management of breathlessness; patient/family information sheets about managing breathlessness at home for GPs and their patients;  and 15-minute online training sessions for non-specialists tackling this challenging symptom. The leaflets have generated over 53,000 twitter impressions, and have reached over 16,000 people through Facebook.

Building on our understanding of previous epidemic/pandemic responses to Ebola, MERS and SARS, we published a rapid review of the evidence to inform the global response to COVID-19.

Our plans going forward

Evaluation of the COVID-19 palliative and end of life care response across settings in the UK, to capture innovations, new use of technology, challenges and innovation, and evaluation of the management of symptoms.

Accelerating our planned work in care homes and nursing homes to incorporate the new reality of COVID-19 in caring for older, frail and vulnerable people. We aim to produce training and guidance based on our longstanding programme of support for delivering palliative care to these groups. 

Creating an international taskforce of experts on early and short-term rehabilitation for COVID-19 survivors.

Investigating the impact of COVID-19 on mental health of staff and residents in care homes

Understanding patterns of multiple causes of death in COVID-19 related mortality using death registration data.

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