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£300,000 from NIHR to investigate the views of older adults on strategies to improve recovery from planned surgery

Posted on December 10th 2020

A team of researchers from across the University of Exeter Medical School, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, the EPPI-Centre at University College London and PenARC has secured £300,000 in funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to continue their work into the impact of strategies to improve the recovery of older adults undergoing planned surgery.

The research builds on work completed by the Exeter Health Services & Delivery Research Evidence Synthesis Centre last year, which comprehensively evaluated the effectiveness of hospital-led interventions that aim to improve the recovery of older adults undergoing planned surgical procedures requiring an overnight stay in hospital, to the extent that they are able to be safely discharged more quickly.

The team, made up of researchers, members of the public with relevant experience, and clinicians involved with surgical procedures, nursing care and rehabilitation services for older people at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital, found that efforts to reduce hospital stay were almost always effective. Furthermore, there was no evidence to suggest that other clinical outcomes, such as complications or readmissions, were any worse in patients who left hospital sooner.

However, as highlighted within subsequent editorials in the British Journal of Hospital Medicine and the Journal of Perioperative Medicine, there were notable gaps in the evidence, particularly the absence of patient-reported measures or follow-up of patient outcomes beyond 30 days from surgery.

Professor Jo Thompson Coon, who led the team, said: “It is really exciting to be extending our previous work in an area considered to be of such high priority by both the clinical community and our patient and public involvement group. We hope the results will help to inform the way hospitals, carers and community services plan the recovery of older adults undergoing planned surgery””

Lynn Tatnell, from the PenARC Patient and Public Involvement Group who helped develop the funding bid, highlighted the importance of this work during the current COVID-19 pandemic:

This study is vital now especially in this climate of uncertainty in these Covid-19 times…The relief of even going home is enough to give quality of life and quantity now too.  Carers would be greatly relieved to get their loved ones back home too.  I believe this study to be very poignant in these times.”

The latest funding, from the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research Programme, will support the team to systematically review evidence focusing on the longer-term influence of approaches designed to achieve earlier discharge from hospital in older elective surgical patients. The project will also investigate how patients, their family and carers and hospital staff view the different types of intervention intended to help discharge older adults faster.

The project commences in March 2021.


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