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Making a difference stories

The NIHR's mission is to improve the health and wealth of the nation. Our research accelerates the translation of discoveries into new treatments and supports growth of the UK economy.

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

Read our full list of stories

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.

Using patients’ electronic health records to improve health and care

NIHR-funded researchers developed a data platform called CALIBER for more than 30 studies on the onset and progression of cardiovascular diseases. CALIBER has now expanded to provide access to linked data on more than 50 million patients and has supported over 100 research projects across a range of conditions, including COVID-19.

Changing behaviour to combat tooth decay

A low-cost talking intervention has been shown to prevent tooth decay in children. NHS dental nurses are now offered training in the technique, and commissioners in the North West have committed to introducing the intervention into dental services.

Preventing cancer by extending vaccination to boys

Evidence from NIHR-funded research contributed to a change in immunisation policy that made the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine available to boys as well as girls, potentially preventing more than 100,000 cancers over 50 years.

Helping people stay warm at home in later life

NIHR researchers used interviews with older people in South Yorkshire to develop a website and other resources to help health and social care providers and organisations support vulnerable older people to keep warm and well during cold weather. Their resources have informed national and local support aimed at improving older people’s living conditions.

Innovative model identifies high-risk people for priority COVID-19 vaccination

NIHR-funded researchers have developed a model called QCovid® that predicts the risk of people becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19. The model has been used to inform UK health policy, and its use by NHS Digital helped prioritise 820,000 people for vaccination.

On the bus with masks

Free bus travel keeps young Londoners socially connected

Free bus travel in London is a socially inclusive way for young people to access education, services and social activities without reducing their physical activity levels or displacing other age groups from bus travel.

Sexual health promotion

Digital media for sexual health promotion

Interactive digital interventions (IDIs) are effective for sexual health promotion and HIV prevention. They could be rolled out much more widely to complement school sex and relationships education and sexual health services.

Improving cancer diagnosis in primary care

NIHR researchers have shown that early cancer diagnosis rates can be improved in primary care by increasing symptom awareness and reducing referral delays. Their research has contributed to national guidance developed to support GPs’ decision making and improve cancer survival rates in the UK.

ACTIB hero

Remotely delivered CBT alleviates symptoms and reduces impact of IBS on patients’ lives

Researchers investigating the role of IBS-specific CBT have found that both telephone and web-based CBT helped patients to better manage their condition, reducing the severity of their symptoms and the impact of IBS on their lives compared with their usual treatment.