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Alison McLoughlin

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellow
School of Nursing

Alison is a National Institutes for Health (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellow. Her specific area of interest for her fellowship is around neurological assessment and monitoring of stroke patients in the acute phase. She is a nurse by background with broad research interests across the stroke pathway but especially interested in aspects of nursing related to acute stroke care.

Alison’s current project Standardised Neurological OBservation Schedule after Stroke (SNOBSS) aims to reduce variation in neurological assessment and monitoring after acute stroke. This is an important element of organised stroke care that currently likes clear guidance of what should be done, when and for which patients. Patients after stroke are at risk from early neurological deterioration (END) an important complication that if identified and where possible treated earlier could prevent secondary brain damage and reduce longer term harmful effects. Her mixed method programme of research will develop a consistent plan of how changes are identified, recorded, monitored and communicated and crucially responded to. Her work has the potential to improve care and outcomes after acute stroke. Alison is an active member of the Stroke Research Team at UCLan and as such helps support in other projects as well as getting involved in teaching where appropriate.

Alison has been involved with academic research since 2008. Immediately prior to her appointment as an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship she worked jointly as a stroke specialist nurse and academic research nurse at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHTR). Her academic research role was within the Clinical Academic Faculty (CAF) at LTHTR. This collaboration between LTHTR and UCLan supports individuals and teams across both organisations to develop collaborations and increase research capacity and capability. Throughout her career Alison has gained networks, specialist knowledge, training and skills in both stroke clinical practice and research. She has worked on numerous studies in terms of set up, recruitment, data collection, data cleansing, validation and adverse event monitoring as would be expected from a clinical research nurse. However, she has had opportunities to develop skills and experience in multiple aspects of project design, delivery and dissemination. These are what she hopes to further expand through her PhD to progress as an independent researcher. Key studies she has been involved in delivering under supervision and the relevant skills, method experience, impact and outputs include: Emergency Stroke Calls; Obtaining Rapid Telephone Triage (ESCORTT) Outputs from this study included an on-line training package informed by findings for Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD). Acute Stroke Telemedicine: Utility Training and Evaluation (ASTUTE) The team developed and tested an internet-based Standardised Telemedicine Toolkit (STT) alongside other collaborations and outputs. Improving Cardiac Arrest Response and Effectiveness (ICARE) Alison was instrumental in the development and adherence to data sharing agreements between other NHS organisations and academic institutions. Head Position in Stroke Trial (HeadPoST) Alison was part of the UK team that developed the DVD based training package for this global trial. She was also the joint PI for her Trust which expanded her skills in terms of oversight and governance of research. In terms of research led she was co-investigator on FacilitAting Research amongst Radiographers through Information Literacy workshops (FARRIL). The resources created as part of the project are available from the project website as well as evaluations and information on outputs to date (Research Engagement Programme). Her MSc Dissertation was entitled “How reliable is the National Institute for Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) when rated by different members of the stroke multidisciplinary team from telemedicine recordings? “. It used secondary analysis of videos from ASTUTE to assess and calculate inter-rater reliability between different professional groups. She looked at factors related to training, experience and frequency of use to see if they impact on reliability of the scale in clinical and research practice. This project was an ideal precursor to her current project. Alison has been fortunate to gain experience in collaborating with patients and the public across many of the projects she has been involved with and has some established relationships. She looks forward to making new partnerships in this area through her Fellowship and beyond. Within the CAF she was co-facilitator in the setting up the Lancashire Research Advisory Group (LRAG) at the Trust. This now self-led group integrate into all aspects of the research strategy.