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Reflecting on a year of delivering research in out-of-hospital settings

To mark International Clinical Trials Day the CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex (CRN KSS) Research Delivery Team have been reflecting on their role in the delivery of clinical and non-clinical trials within the out-of-hospital setting.

The team was established to support clinical and academic researchers in settings such as care homes, GP surgeries, hospices, and tertiary care sites. Over the team’s first year, it has grown from a group of eight research nurses and practitioners to 14, including allied health professionals.

As a snapshot of their work, the team has chosen a few studies to highlight the importance and variety of their work.

For the care home-based DACHA study the Research Delivery Team visited several care homes to speak to the residents and their relatives about the study and then on to receive consent. Principal Investigator (PI) Professor Claire Goodman comments: "The CRN Research Delivery Team helped us to exceed our [recruitment] target which we didn't think was possible at the time! The team's enthusiasm and tenacity were quite incredible."

The team has also been assisting with PANORAMIC, a COVID-19 study led in primary care. The team has been performing screening searches, consenting patients, and following up with safety calls. In 2022/2023 the team recruited 197 patients to the study.

GP, Dr Kate Turner, who is PI for a cluster of general practices in Dorking, Surrey participating in PANORAMIC says: "I have found the Research Delivery Team to be very helpful and approachable. They have run the PANORAMIC trial very successfully and are a great source of knowledge and support for our team for all the trials we are running."

The end-of-life care study CHELSEA II is currently being run in hospices and secondary care sites. The main duties of the team have been transcribing data collected from clinical staff on the wards into the Clinical Report Forms, but the team has supported each site as their individual needs arise. CHELSEA II Lead Research Nurse, Melanie Waghorn highlights that: "The support and guidance the CRN team have given to participating sites in the CHELsea II study has been vital - both site set-up and recruitment across Kent, Surrey and Sussex."

For upcoming studies, such as ASYMPTOMATIC which looks at asthma treatment in children, the team is working with primary care sites to screen and recruit. Adding participants of younger ages to the portfolio. Dr. Ian Sinha, Co-Chief Investigator for ASYMPTOMATIC said: "We would like to thank the CRN KSS team for their proactive approach in supporting practices with this clinical trial. Their sites were among the first to start recruiting into the trial. Their contribution to this globally addressed research question in paediatric asthma is truly valued!"

Reflecting on this past year the team has been encouraged by the number of out-of-hospital sites they have been able to work with. At first, the number of recruiting sites was down to a handful of research active and enthusiastic primary care sites; over time, engagement opportunities emerged and relationships have been formed with hospices and care homes which led to studies running in a total of 60 sites, many who are running more than one study. Often these sites have their own contacts which the team has been able to capitalise on and spread the message of the importance of research in out-of-hospital settings and for participants who would not normally be invited to participate in research, such as care home residents.

Erica Dodd, a research allied health professional adds: "There is real excitement to be able to take research into the community. We have had to adapt to the needs and time constraints of those we work with, but slowly we have seen more interest from sites wanting to participate and for patients, care home residents, and other members of the public to become involved in research. The research we are working on will make a difference to health and social care in the future."

CRN KSS Lead Research Nurse, Thanuja Weerasinghe said:"I am incredibly proud of the achievements CRN KSS Research Delivery Team has accomplished in a short period of time. Our dedicated team of research nurses, practitioners, and allied healthcare professionals have successfully supported a diverse portfolio of projects across Kent, Surrey and Sussex. From setting up 16 projects in various healthcare settings to recruiting and engaging participants from primary care, out-of-hospital and secondary care, our Research Delivery Team has demonstrated exceptional teamwork, efficiency, and commitment to advancing research.

"Our efforts have not only expanded research opportunities but also improved safety and best practices outside of the hospital setting. I am grateful to work alongside such a talented and resilient team, and together, we are making a significant impact in driving healthcare research forward."

To contact the Research Delivery Team, or request their support with a study please contact