NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Respiratory Health (RESPIRE)

World Cancer Day 2021: RESPIRE work towards increasing lung cancer survival in India

On World Cancer Day 2021, we’re sharing how a RESPIRE project and PhD study are raising awareness of chronic respiratory diseases (CRD) with a focus on lung cancer

Researchers based at Christian Medical College (CMC) Vellore in India have been developing an innovative community-based programme to raise awareness of chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) in rural communities to access early screening and treatment services, assisted by frontline community health workers. A PhD study embedded in the study is examining how behaviour-based educational interventions could contribute to improved outcomes. Their goal is to ultimately increase survival from these respiratory diseases, including lung cancer.

Respiratory interventions in low-resource settings

Since 2018, the team have been advancing knowledge on the design and delivery or respiratory intervention studies in low-resource, low health literacy settings. As well as setting up medical education workshops for primary care physicians and training nurses on CRD care, a National Community Health Nursing Conference was held in February 2020 at CMC with 400 participants from 52 Indian institutions. The investigators also used inventive methods, such as live-puppet shows, to engage the local population in their work.

Even the global COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the team. An online course on stakeholder engagement and management of CRD using primary health care approaches is being designed for primary health care organisations in India and will be rolled out in 2021.

PhD study

Embedded into this project is a PhD study which is being carried out by Biswajit Paul. His work will link together with the wider project by gathering evidence around Theory of Planned Behaviour (TBP)-based educational interventions on health behaviours and disease outcomes in chronic respiratory diseases in resource-poor settings.

Using the evidence from a systematic review and a qualitative phenomenological study, he developed a culturally suitable pilot TPB-based educational intervention. He aims to prove whether this pilot intervention could lead to better respiratory health and healthier lifestyles among CRD patients. He also hopes that this model could be replicated across other low-resource settings, having huge implications for respiratory health outcomes across the world.  

Biswajit has had an interest in non-communicable diseases and cancer for quite some time. His PhD research is built on many years’ experience as a senior researcher at RUHSA (Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs) Department, CMC, Vellore. For more than a decade, he has been implementing community-based models of ‘Educate, Screen and Treat’ programmes to address highly prevalent cervical and oral cancer in these rural communities.

He’s passionate about introducing interventions which will have a wide impact on people with CRDs and cancer in particular.

I hope this intervention will improve the lives of people with CRDs, provide them with an opportunity to live a dignified life – a life synonymous with quality, social inclusion and freedom from breathlessness.

Dr Biswajit PaulRESPIRE PhD student based at CMC Vellore

We hope to hear more about the outcomes of the adult lung disease project and Biswajit’s PhD in the future.

Find out more about the adult lung disease project

Read about Biswajit’s PhD