‘…the end of a long and productive day…’ Prof Dave Newell with James and Anna Marie

PERC Internship 2018

In July and August 2018,  new WIOC chiropractic graduates, Anna Maria F Holmberg and James Oldham, started on the Programme for Early Researchers in Chiropractic summer internship.

Here Anna Maria updates us on all that she’s been up to over the past few weeks investigating UK chiropractic research capacity, and describes the benefits of working within a multidisciplinary, collaborative team, networking with other MSK graduates and researchers at other institutions:

            “4th of July was the first day of the PERC Internship, spent at the University of Southampton, meeting the other interns for the first time (students and graduates of medicine, podiatry, chiropractic, nursing and occupational therapy). An intern from last year talked about her experience of the program, which made us all very eager to get started and get to know each other. The Southampton team gave us more of an understanding on how the research fits within the aims of Arthritis Research UK, and how important patient/public involvement is, in musculoskeletal health research.

            Every week we have visited a new University; Southampton, Oxford, Leeds, Loughborough and Nottingham. It has been helpful having work shops and lectures on statistics, and guidance on how to analyse/critique and write papers. On every visit, we have been shown all the facilities of the universities, and what further education options within research they have to offer, which has opened up doors I didn’t know existed. The Professors and PhD students have given presentations on previous and ongoing research at the universities, and given us a glimpse of their personal experience with research and how they ended up doing what they do. In Nottingham we all did a powerpoint presentation each on ourselves and our project, which also was a nice experience.

              In the end of August, we have our last day together in Bath, where we are presenting our paper. My project is a quantitative content analysis on Chiropractic Research Capacity in the UK. The paper will cover research done by UK authors, or UK co-authors, going 10 years back in time; 2008-2010. All chiropractic journals will be utilised for data collection.

             We want to establish where chiropractic research in the UK are at present, and what areas are in more need of research than others. This way it may be clearer to see what areas of research should be prioritised, also for funding etc. At the moment I am collecting data, going through each and every journal.

            It has been a blast getting new friends from other professions and other countries. We all have got a better understanding of each others line of work and what we actually do. There have been many good discussions on similarities and differences between the professions, about health in general, patients, the need of research, and possible further education opportunities.”

The CRC is delighted to be funding this initiative, supporting and developing future chiropractic researchers in a multidisciplinary healthcare setting. We look forward to seeing the results of Anna Maria’s study, assessing the baseline research capacity of the UK chiropractic profession, and sees this initiative as one way that we can help it to develop.


And here, James looks back on his 8 weeks participating in the 2018 internship scheme, and his research study, investigating stress levels in teaching staff at WIOC:

              “We began the internship on 4th July 2018 at the University of Southampton. We met other interns from different healthcare occupations. There were many different talks at Southampton which provided insight into entry routes for research careers and options/pathways which research can open. We completed a small exercise on academic writing where we learnt skills which I was immediately able to transfer into my undergraduate project. We also had the opportunity to meet some patients currently experiencing osteoarthritis and learnt the way in which Arthritis Research UK engages patients currently experiencing the condition and empowers them to drive the direction of research through Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) groups. This visit made me consider the purposes of the research which I have currently engaged in, re-enforcing the need, demand and desire to engage within research which has a direct benefit to those experiencing the conditions being investigated.

            On Thursday 5th July I met Alister Du Rose, Danny Clegg and David Byfield at WIOC to discuss a potential study which I would hopefully conduct over the internship period. The study which we discussed was to investigate the key stressors and coping mechanisms within chiropractic clinical supervisors.  At this visit, I also presented my undergraduate project to the academic staff, highlighting my findings, limitations and recommendations. I was then left to conduct some reading around the subject of qualitative focus groups for studies relating to psychological responses and in particular, stress.

             On Wednesday 11th July, we visited the Botnar Research Centre at the Nuffield Department of Orthopedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences (NDORMS), Oxford. This dedicated research centre is to a hospital and one of the centres conducting MSK research for Arthritis Research UK. At this site, we had dedicated workshops for statistics. Although this did not directly link to the ‘stress project’ this provided me with some more insight into the statistical tests which I utilised in the undergraduate study, relating to screening for the top 15 chronic conditions which patients reported at WIOC.

              On Wednesday 18th July we visited the (National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) MSK Biomedical Research Centre, Leeds. At this visit we had the opportunity to hear a presentation on a study which looked at non-contrast MR imaging of synovitis. We also had the opportunity to attend the gait analysis laboratory to experience some of the ways in which biomechanical data is captured and utilised in research.  That afternoon, we had the opportunity to discuss our progress with our individual studies and our next steps. Personally, the opportunities which have opened up from this internship have made the next steps appear more confusing!!

             On Thursday 28th July we visited the Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham. We had to present to the rest of the group outlining our personal/professional background, overview of our project and where we want to be in 3 year’s time. We also had a very motivational lecture on Women in Science. I found this particularly motivational as this presentation discussed some of the barriers into research and how these can be broken down to achieve great things.

               In preparation for the dissemination day, I continued to work on the project which I had been assigned. For this, I had to draft an ethics application form with the assistance of Alister Du Rose, Danny Clegg, David Byfield and Brendan Cropley. We designed the study such that the Chiropractic Clinical Supervisors (CCS) were invited to complete a validated questionnaire – Perceived Stress Questionnaire. CCS’s were also invited to a focus group interview. I was fortunate to be able to sit in the focus group interview, acting as note-taker. I found this process quite informative. Following the focus group, I transcribed the audio recordings and then prepared an abstract with the assistance of the team. The abstract has since been submitted to the British Chiropractic Association for their conference in October, to be delivered in the form of a poster presentation.

               During the time whilst waiting for ethics approval, I have also reviewed my undergraduate project, making this more appropriate for an abstract format. I plan to submit the abstract for this project to another chiropractic conference. This review process highlighted some limitations to the study which pose as significant learning opportunities for future studies.

               On Wednesday 22nd August we had to present our project in Bath at the Dissemination. Among the audience was Professor Byfield, Professor Newell and Dr Elisabeth Angier. We were also joined by other professors and lecturers belonging to other healthcare disciplines. I really enjoyed the opportunity to disseminate some of my findings to others.

                Moving forwards, I plan to continue to engage within research whilst working within professional practice. For my next project, I would like to work with other healthcare professionals in a study which directly engages or benefits patients. The internship programme has also made me consider further postgraduate study. Overall, I feel that I have acquired a great network involving other healthcare professionals and also a large number of practical skills which can readily be implemented into different research projects.

                I would like to finish by thanking all of those involved with the research project – Alister Du Rose, Danny Clegg, Brendan Cropley and David Byfield. I have also taken a lot from the 2018 interns and made great networking connections. I would also like to thank those who made the internship possible – Dr Elisabeth Angier, Prof. David Newell and Prof. Byfield. This was made possible through the funding of the Chiropractic Research Council and programme delivered by Arthritis Research UK.”