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Your Path in Research: Kathryn shares her research journey

Kathryn, Your Path in Research

I have always been interested in research but did not become involved in research delivery until I had been practicing as an Occupational Therapist for around 8 years.  As healthcare professionals we should provide evidence based practice.  I always strived to achieve this but often found that robust evidence was limited and I wanted to be involved in answering some of the questions we have.  I was given the opportunity to work on a study looking at promoting activity and independence in people with an early diagnosis of dementia.  I worked as an Occupational Therapist delivering the intervention and this gave me a taste for what research is all about and I really enjoyed it.  I love being involved in studies that could improve care in the future.  Many participants are keen to be involved in the research either to improve their care or to improve our understanding for future generations and I think it is important we support them in this and provide as many opportunities as possible.

I later decided to take a research delivery role within the CRN and have been involved in the delivery of a range of portfolio studies in the region.  This has allowed me to broaden my research delivery skills and work on studies in different specialities.  I have worked on studies in sexual health, cardiology, diabetes and infectious diseases.  It is great to have had the opportunity to work alongside different clinicians and study teams who have a passion for their subject area.    During the pandemic I worked on the ISARIC and SIREN studies, both of which contributed to our understanding of COVID-19. It has been amazing to see what can be achieved through research and I am very proud to say I have been part of the NIHR’s response to the pandemic.

I would definitely encourage health and social care professionals to become involved in research.  It could be through suggesting ideas for a research topic, leading your own research, supporting the delivery of research or signposting your patients/service users to studies that may be of interest to them.  It’s never too early or too late to get involved!  Make links with your local research department or CRN as there are lots of networks and training you can access to broaden your understanding and see if it’s something you want to pursue.  I have learnt so much on my relatively sort journey into research and there is still so much to learn which is why I love research!   

Kathryn Styles

Research Delivery Officer