Health & Social Care

The School of Health and Social Care is home to inspiring and dedicated research and teaching staff who are leaders in their fields. The Guardian ranks us 7th in the UK for nursing and paramedical studies, and we are a leading provider of undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing professional development education.

What we're researching

Tackling a common heart condition

Atrial Fibrillation is the most common reason for sustained irregularities in the heart’s rhythm. As many as 50,000 new cases are detected each year, and it’s thought to be responsible for around 15% of strokes, especially in the elderly.

Its effects can be devastating; yet little is known about what causes it.

To find out, we’ve joined forced with experts from the charity HASTE (Heart and Stroke Trust Endeavour) and doctors from local Surrey hospitals.

Professor Christopher Fry, who is leading the research project, said: “Our teams will conduct research into the fundamental causes of atrial fibrillation as well as develop more effective ways to detect it in the community.

“We anticipate that this twin-track approach will both improve detection of this potentially dangerous condition and advance treatment, with our goal to reduce the number of devastating strokes.”

Boosting bowel cancer screening research

Screening programmes play a vital role in the prevention and early diagnosis of bowel cancer.

We’re working with the NHS on the screening programme for southern England, which aims to detect early stages of the condition in the over-60s.

Our experts are taking a closer look at the programme data. We’re investigating the relationship between the age-associated prevalence of bowel cancer and the different demographic and social backgrounds of the population, looking at the influence these things have on the take-up of screening.

The project will provide information about factors associated with the appearance and development of the disease, and help improve the planning of screening programmes to ensure as many people as possible take part.

Use and impact of the pre-hospital electrocardiogram

Do people have a better chance of surviving a heart attack if they have an electrocardiogram (ECG) recorded in the ambulance before they reach hospital?

We’re analysing data from around half a million patients, covering every hospital in England and Wales. By identifying the types of patient who are less likely to receive an ECG in the ambulance, we’ll see the impact this test has on patients’ access to specialist treatment and, ultimately, their survival.

Our research — sponsored by the British Heart Foundation — will influence future national and international guidelines and equipment funding decisions by the NHS. It’s potentially lifesaving work.

Improving prostate cancer care

Prostate cancer is the most prevalent male cancer across Europe. More than two million men are living with the disease and the side effects of treatment.

We’re running a randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of self-management intervention to help men cope with the side-effects of radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

The trial, run in collaboration with the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Frimley Park Hospital, East Surrey Hospital, Basingstoke Hospital and Ashford St. Peter’s Hospital, involves teaching men specialist cognitive and behavioural techniques via sessions with a prostate cancer nurse. 96 men who are experiencing moderate to severe urinary symptoms are taking part. The sessions start with a 15 minute film, made by University of Surrey, called ‘Getting down to coping’.

Following our study, a wider number of men will be offered the sessions. The study will be used as a basis for identifying and targeting patients’ individual needs and as a framework for managing other difficult-to-treat symptoms.

Writing a radio play to improve the care of older people

How do you improve the bedside manner of the nurses of the future?

At University of Surrey, student nurses worked with forum members from Age UK West Sussex to write and perform a radio play to highlight the importance of understanding older people. The project aimed to foster greater empathy among student nurses and improve their knowledge of the requirements of people under their care.

It’s a novel approach, but it works.

Dr Khim Horton, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Care, said: “Some people have stereotypical views about ageing. The radio play challenged and hopefully will change the culture of practice among our students.”

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