UCLan collaborates on MND research project

8 February 2023

Four MSc students will analyse data for Lancashire and South Cumbria study

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is working with a local health trust to help families access better support after they have lost loved ones to Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Academics and students from UCLan’s School of Psychology are collaborating with Lancashire and South Cumbria MND Care and Research Centre at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust on the project which will look at the needs of informal caregivers who were bereaved at last six months ago.

The study hopes to identify gaps in bereavement service provision across Lancashire and South Cumbria.

MND is an uncommon condition that progressively damages parts of the nervous system. This leads to muscle weakness, often with visible wasting. There is no cure for MND and though some people live with the condition for many years, many individuals only live for two to three years following symptom onset.

Consultant Neurologist Professor Suresh Chhetri is the Chief Investigator of the study, which has been funded by the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the George Barton Motor Neurone Disease (Research) Trust.

"We are pleased to be building up this collaboration between UCLan and the MND Care and Research Centre at the Trust"

Dr Bradley, UCLan Lecturer in psychobiology

He said: “Motor Neurone Disease is a fatal illness that leads to progressive paralysis of muscles of speech, swallowing, movement and breathing.

"Caring for a person with MND is an unremitting commitment and the impact of this ‘carer-burden’ often continues beyond the death of a patient, impacting the bereavement process.”

The study has involved interviewing carers who were bereaved at least six months ago and asking them their opinion of the support that they were able to access. It also involved interviewing professional staff and the GPs of patients and carers to seek their views.

Tereza Prochazkova, Samantha Rodrigues, Libby Braben and Helen Gwilliam have received bursaries to take part in this project. They are being supervised by Dr Belinda Bradley, Dr Laura Cramond and Dr Laura Nicholson, and it is hoped the four students will write up the results of their finding for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Dr Bradley, UCLan Lecturer in psychobiology, said: “I have been working alongside Professor Chhetri in this area for quite a few years now, and we are pleased to be building up this collaboration between UCLan and the MND Care and Research Centre at the Trust. We believe there is a lot of work still to do to improve things for the MND patients and their carers.

“This opportunity will give the students the experience of being part of a real clinical research project and, under the guidance of their dissertation supervisor, doing some real and very much needed research for their MSc dissertation. This is just one part of an on-going collaboration, and we are hoping that these bursaries will be part of the MSc in Advanced Clinical Psychology for many years to come.”