Scottish researchers get £500k to better understand patients with multiple health problems

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SCOTTISH researchers have received £500,000 to investigate why a growing number of hospital patients are suffering multiple health conditions.

A team at Dundee University will spend four years studying the problem of multimorbidity.

Hospitals are largely set up to treat single health conditions.

Ewan Pearson, Professor of Diabetic Medicine at Dundee’s School of Medicine, is among those working on the project

As a result, patients with multimorbidity often find their care is poor. Many patients in this category stay in hospital for longer and take longer to recover.

And from the hospital perspective this inefficiency translates into more costly care and potentially worse outcomes.

But there has been little research in this area to date.

The response is a £4m project called Admission and led by Newcastle University.

The researchers, including those at Dundee, want to transform our understanding of the problem.

In particular, researchers want to discover how different conditions cluster or group together, why some groups of conditions affect people more often, and how hospital systems look after these patients.

The Admissions team will use data science, computing, and statistical approaches to analyse ‘big data’ from routinely collected healthcare records.

Ewan Pearson, Professor of Diabetic Medicine at Dundee’s School of Medicine, said: “The consortium will identify which conditions cluster together in patients admitted to hospital.

“The unique resources available to us in Scotland…allow us to analyse blood samples from groups of patients in hospital.

“We aim to identify genetic and other blood markers that will give us insight into the biological processes that underpin these clusters of disease.”

Prof Pearson said this would enable them to repurpose treatment or even develop novel therapies that treat these groups of conditions.

The research is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

More information can be found at www.admissioncollab.org