CHaRT (led by Prof McDonough) is the largest multidisciplinary grouping of allied health professionals, clinical scientists, and PhD students in the UK and Ireland.
The aims of ChaRT are to conduct world-leading multidisciplinary translational research that underpins evidence based practice, centred on the physical needs of people with chronic conditions, in order to improve health and wellbeing; and to transfer this knowledge to key stakeholders in order to directly impact on healthcare policy and practice.
The main focus is exploring the effects of non-pharmacological interventions to manage chronic physical problems either as a direct result of a condition or as a consequence of treatment; and the development of tools to assess and measure the effects on health and well-being. As well as dealing with the primary physical problem, research within CHaRT also focuses on the role of AHPs in secondary health promotion through research-informed patient education (e.g. changing patient behaviour), in order to enhance self-management, improve quality of life, and reduce the need for healthcare resources for the primary complaint, and any associated future comorbidity. This is achieved through the conduct of high quality strategic and applied research using the MRC framework for complex interventions and a combination of quantitative (e.g. surveys, systematic reviews, clinical trials and economic evaluations) and qualitative (interviews, focus groups) methods, as appropriate.
The activities of the CHaRT members are primarily concerned with critical evaluation and implementation of interventions to improve the wellbeing of chronically ill individuals. In particular the research is focused on the use of exercise interventions tailored to suit the needs of individual groups e.g. those living with chronic back pain, stroke, multiple sclerosis, respiratory disease etc. Other research is focused around evaluation of therapeutic practices and procedures employed by therapists in clinical practice.
In the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008 ChaRT(Formerly) HRSRI showed an advance on the excellent rating of 4 obtained in RAE 2001. There was an improvement in all of the main indicators and over half of the work has been assessed to be of “international quality in terms of originality, significance and rigour”. Fourteen staff were submitted to the RAE 2008, a significant increase on the 8 entered to RAE 2001. Improvements were also reported in the amount of research income, the number of successful postgraduate research students and our research infrastructure. Of particular note was the completion of the new state-of-the-art Centre for Rehabilitation Research which provides a purpose built facility for a range of diagnostic and interventional activities linked to rehabilitation research. The high standard of research output is also aided by a number of successful collaborations with local, national and international centres of excellence.
The success of the Institute to date is evidenced by its publication record in international journals, and external grant support from a variety of sources including government (Research and Development Office, HPSS Northern Ireland; Department of Employment and Learning), charities (e.g. Wellcome Trust; Multiple Sclerosis Society, Northern Ireland; National MS Society, US) and industry.
We look forward to our research continuing to make a difference to patient rehabilitation across a wide range of chronically disabling conditions.