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Making a difference stories

The NIHR's mission is to improve the health and wealth of the nation.

Funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, we invest over £1 billion a year in research that provides people working in the front lines of the NHS, public health and social care with the evidence they need to better support patients, service users and the public.

Read about how our work is influencing care, and making a positive difference to people, and the economy.

These are the stories of our research

Read our full list of stories

Supporting mental health after flooding

Researchers from three NIHR Health Protection Research Units have found that flooding can have a significant negative impact on the mental health of people whose homes are flooded, as well as those whose lives are disrupted by flooding events. Their research has informed guidance for local authorities, policy makers and public health practitioners on planning for and dealing with the aftermath of a flood.

Communication aid hero

New guidance improves the way communication aids are provided for non-speaking children

Innovative research into the provision of communication aids for non-speaking children has created new guidance for children, their families, educators and health professionals to improve the way aid is provided.

Breath-hold reduces risk of heart damage during breast cancer radiotherapy

A simple technique in which patients hold their breath for up to 20 seconds to spare the heart from radiotherapy during breast cancer treatment has been adopted as the standard of care across many UK hospitals.

CF gene therapy hero

Improving outcomes in cystic fibrosis with inhaled gene therapy

A trial of inhaled gene therapy stabilised lung function in patients with cystic fibrosis. Evidence from the trial has contributed to a partnership between researchers and commercial companies to develop clinical trials and a potential treatment for cystic fibrosis.

PRISM hero

Hormone treatment offered to women at high risk of miscarriage

Research into the prevention of miscarriage showed that progesterone could increase the chance of having a baby for women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of pregnancy loss. NICE guidelines now recommend progesterone treatment which could prevent more than 8,000 miscarriages each year.

Radiotherapy session

Shorter radiotherapy treatment benefits women with early-stage breast cancer

Breast cancer patients in the UK can now receive fewer radiotherapy sessions following surgery after the FAST-Forward trial confirmed that a one-week course was as safe and effective as the standard three-week course. The new treatment schedule is now being adopted internationally.

ambulance outside emergency dept

Improving outcomes after trauma and blood loss

NIHR researchers have developed new ways of diagnosing and treating severe bleeding after traumatic injury. Their revised protocol has been adopted by almost all major trauma centres in the UK and incorporated into clinical guidelines around the world, saving hundreds of lives and making significant cost savings for the NHS.

Optimal care homes

Relational working key in delivering high-quality healthcare in care homes

The NIHR-funded Optimal study showed how care home and NHS services can work together to improve residents’ care. Its results have informed national policy and shaped changes to service delivery to improve the quality of life, health care and health planning for people living in care homes.

Saving lives with new treatments for anorexia nervosa

A team at the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre has developed a series of new approaches to improve treatment and support for patients with anorexia nervosa and their caregivers at all stages of the illness. Their evidence-based interventions and models of care have been integrated into NICE guidelines and widely adopted within the NHS.

Children eating a school dinner

School-based intervention to tackle childhood obesity informs UK policy

A study of 6 to 7 year-old children carried out by NIHR-funded researchers found that school-based interventions alone are unlikely to improve childhood obesity. The results have informed the NHS and other public agencies about the most appropriate methods to prevent and manage childhood obesity.