Why I care about research

This week by the #whywedoresearch campaign on Twitter is celebrating its second birthday. From humble beginnings it has grown into a global phenomenon linking health researchers who are passionate about making a difference. Where I work in the School of Health Sciences at the University of East Anglia we have formed an ambassador hub to share the campaign even further and to tell the world about our own ground-breaking discoveries.

The blog below shares my individual thoughts which have been published along with my colleagues here: http://whywedoresearch.weebly.com/guest-blog-new

“I am a qualitative researcher, mainly because I’m nosey and like to find out what people really think and feel. In health research the lived experience of service users is vital knowledge in making people’s lives better. As an occupational therapist my passion is to help people to get the most out of life and to have every opportunity to participate fully.

“I teach qualitative research to students who are studying on our pre-registration programmes in occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language therapy at both undergraduate and Masters level. I enjoy facilitating their curiosity about what helps people and what doesn’t. I like to push them to be really critical about what they read in research papers. I also supervise student dissertations in my main areas of interest, mental health, combat injury and occupational science. I often remind students that although we might observe that certain interventions have benefit, what we don’t know is whether people would have improved anyway over time, or whether something else would have worked more effectively. We can’t spend vital public funding on interventions just because we think they help.

In 2015 I received a UEA Community Engagement Award for my voluntary work with military charities providing free consultancy on digital media and occupational therapy. I currently work with The Baton; supporting the military family – http://www.thebaton.co.uk and Surf Action; providing evidence-based interventions for people who have served in the Armed Forces and their families – http://www.surfaction.co.uk. We need much more research to help us to understand what really works to support people who have served in the Armed Forces, particularly people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’s a lot of charities and organisations that mean well and they are providing opportunities for people to participate in wonderful activities, but we don’t really know, especially in the long term, if this funding is being spent wisely.

Why I teach research; to inspire the next generation of healthcare professions to be the very best evidence-based practitioners.

Why I do research; to ensure that people who have served their country get the very best help and support to have a good life free from the trauma of combat.”