Improving cardiac surgery benefits through key research

Over 35,000 adults undergo cardiac surgery in the UK every year with a further 1 million worldwide. While short-term results of surgery are excellent, many patients fail to obtain long-term benefits the reasons for which remain unclear. Academics from the University of Leicester are researching why this is and have defined the top priorities for UK cardiac surgery research.

The Leicester team have worked with the James Lind Alliance, a non-profit making initiative that brings patients, carers and clinicians together in Priority Setting Partnerships to identify and prioritise the top 10 unanswered research questions or evidence uncertainties.

Professor Gavin Murphy, British Heart Foundation Chair of Cardiac Surgery and Director of Leicester Clinical Trials Unit who leads the Leicester team said: “This work, which represents the needs of patients, will enable all stakeholders to focus their efforts at addressing the research priorities that we have identified. This approach means that we are more likely to effect change through our research that will benefit patients and the health service.”

Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive of Heart Research UK, said: “Setting priorities is vital to ensure that medical research is advancing in the right areas. A project like this puts the people affected by heart conditions at the forefront of that process and provides a valuable link between researchers and clinicians in laboratories. Heart Research UK has a long history of funding pioneering medical research, and we are proud to once again be at the cutting edge, working with patients to steer the future of cardiac surgery. We know research works, and it is through innovative projects like the PSP that we can reach the next breakthroughs and keep those we love around for longer.”

Funded by Heart Research UK, the Adult Cardiac Surgery Priority Setting Partnership brought together patients, carers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, organisations such as the Leicester Centre for Black and Minority Ethnic Health. With an independent chairperson appointed by the James Lind Alliance, the team used a Delphi approach to identify the top 21 priorities from over 1000 topics identified in an international survey launched in 2018.

A final workshop that included patients, carers and medics, chaired by independent moderators, with key stakeholders attending as observers, selected the Top 10. The results of this process and a plan for translating these priorities into research studies are published today.

To help implement this plan Heart Research UK and the British Heart Foundation Clinical Research Collaborative will invite clinicians, leading researchers, and members of the public, to a National Cardiac Surgery Research Workshop in June 2020. This will keep patients and carers at the centre of the national research programme, and increase the likelihood that the PSP priorities are addressed by research of the highest quality.