Advanced Care Research Centre

Academy Students asked to present findings

Three first-year PhD students at the ACRC Academy have been invited to present findings from a group project to the Edinburgh Clinical Frailty Network and the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership.

Victoria Barber-Fleming, Jonny Flint and Lara Johnson were assigned to a group as part of the Introduction to Interdisciplinary Research and Innovation course in semester 1.  They were assigned the task of defining a specific challenge within the grand challenge of population ageing and proposing a solution. They quickly found a common interest in frailty and - under the guidance of course organisor Professor Tughrul Arslan and mentor Dr Imran Saied – found a way to bring in the perspectives of their respective disciplines.  Victoria previously worked as a clinician in palliative care, Jonny worked in research and genetics and Lara worked in data science, including as an analyst for the NHS.

Three ACRC Adademy Students

Victoria, Jonny and Lara found that while there is a good evidence base on the risk factors for frailty, the focus in research and clinical practice has been mainly on management of moderate to severe frailty. They identified mild frailty and its management as a gap in the literature. In line with a preventative approach which recognises the importance of the life course, they considered the potential benefits of identification of frailty at a mild (rather than severe) stage. They were struck to learn that frailty can be reversed, but found a lack of awareness, and even scepticism, among both patients and healthcare professionals. 

This inspired them to propose a pilot intervention for community dwelling adults with mild frailty. The aim of this study is to establish whether an exercise intervention can delay the progression of frailty (measured by the routine clinical data and biochemical markers of frailty) in individuals with mild frailty compared to a control group.

They learnt much about the social gradient in health and the inequalities faced by older people in Scotland during our first semester. To ensure inclusivity of people living in deprivation, they plan to explicitly include participants from GP practices with the highest levels of deprivation. The anticipated impacts of the intervention include improvement to individual participants’ health and quality of life, cost savings for the health service and translation of research into clinical practice.

Victoria, Jonny and Lara are delighted that there has been interest in their proposed pilot intervention and are excited to be asked to present their findings to the Edinburgh Clinical Frailty Network, Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, and the wider ACRC community. This will give them insight into the real-world relevance and challenges associated with the proposal. It also gives them exposure to interdisciplinary networking which will be key to disseminating their future work efficiently.