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EBI funded project awarded further funds to continue prehabilitation work for cancer patients

9 May 2018

Thanks to initial funding from University of Bristol’s Elizabeth Blackwell Institute we are now close to seeing some real impact from a prehabilitation intervention for cancer patients undergoing major surgery. The project, which aims to identify interventions that improve post-operative recovery, has been awarded further funding to take forward this important research.

Dr Maria Pufulete (Research Fellow, Clinical Trials and Evaluation Unit at the University of Bristol) has been awarded £1,854,558 from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Technology Assessment Programme. The project was part of the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute's 'Research for Health Challenge' scheme.

Improving patients’ health and fitness before a major operation can reduce the risk of complications and help recovery, yet its potential has not yet been sufficiently explored. Researchers at Bristol aim to improve surgical outcomes in cancer patients by boosting health in the vital weeks before surgery.

Dr Maria Pufulete in the School of Clinical Sciences’ Clinical Trials and Evaluation Unit (CTEU) led collaborative research to identify interventions that improve post-operative recovery and decrease the length of hospital stay. Such interventions may include dietary, exercise, psychological and physiological components. The team applied for an NIHR Health Technology Assessment grant to test one prehabilitation intervention (inspiratory muscle training) that was shown to work by the systematic review.

The project received its original funding from the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute (EBI) Research for Health Challenge scheme in response to a challenge from Dr Sanjoy Shah, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), to develop a ‘prehabilitation’ programme for patients having major cancer surgery.

The Elizabeth Blackwell Institute ‘Research for Health Challenge’ scheme encourages healthcare practitioners, patients, the public and University of Bristol researchers to work together to develop innovative thinking around clinical problems.

Dr Pufulete said: ‘We know that being unfit before a major operation increases the risk of death and complications and leads to longer hospital stays. This is becoming increasingly important as more operations are performed on older people, who may be less fit and have more than one disease’.

She continued: “Thanks to initial funding from University of Bristol’s Elizabeth Blackwell Institute we are now close to seeing some real impact from a prehabilitation intervention for cancer patients undergoing major surgery.”

Further information

Read the full project case study to find out more.

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