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Christa Dyson: promoting health research

Christa Dyson: promoting health research

Christa Dyson is a Research Champion, where members of the public volunteer to spread the word about health and care research.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience of health research.

In 1992 I was suddenly taken ill, paralysed by a spinal stroke from the mid-chest down. Medically I am termed as having a C4/5 incomplete spinal cord injury. My focus has always been to live as independently and well as possible with my paralysis but there is still much to discover in this field and, hence, my interest in supporting health research.

What motivated you to become a Research Champion?

I was invited by the Spinal Injuries Association to engage with the James Lind Alliance to help set the top research priorities for people living with a spinal cord injury. This is where I gained my first insight into the role and value of health research within the NHS. Following on a few years later I was delighted to join the Research Champion programme to further my involvement.

What activities have you been involved with as a Research Champion and what difference do you feel they make to others and to research?

There are three key areas I have been involved in: spreading awareness of health research to others who live with a spinal cord injury; providing opportunities for researchers to communicate their work to those living with a spinal cord injury and acting as a patient representative for researchers in helping set research trial design. As a Research Champion I want to ensure that things that matter most to people living with a spinal cord injury are researched and that when research is undertaken the message gets out so people can realise the benefits of it.

How has being a Research Champion benefited you and how have you been supported?

The role has given me a new platform to help improve and promote patient outcomes for those living with a spinal cord injury. I have been supported with regular networking events where I can meet with other Research Champions and there is always support from my local NIHR communications and engagement team when specific questions arise.

For more information about the programme, visit the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands Research Champions website.