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Rapid research in the time of COVID-19

24 April 2020 

Researchers at the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Behavioural Science and Evaluation are supporting the local applied research community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is being co-ordinated by NIHR ARC West.

Coronavirus

Early on in the crisis, Dr Jeremy Horwood, Associate Professor at the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care, an ARC West team lead and research theme lead at the HPRU, was approached by Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG). They wanted researchers to do rapid evidence reviews and analysis of routine data to help inform decision-making and to support their strategic response to COVID-19.

Working with ARC Manager Lara Edwards and the ARC West admin team, a pool of over 70 volunteer researchers was quickly assembled to respond to requests for help. The researchers are from across the NIHR infrastructure in the West of England and the region’s universities, as well as drawing on expertise from Applied Research Collaborations in other parts of the country. This offer of help has been extended to all CCGs and local authorities across ARC West’s geography.

The reports are published on the ARC West website for others nationally and internationally to use the evidence summaries in planning their response to Covid-19. 

Dr Horwood said: "The rapid spread of COVID-19 has meant that the NHS and local authorities have had to quickly adapt their services. To enable them to do this, it is vital that they have access to the best evidence, including from other countries that have successfully responded to the pandemic.

“It’s fantastic that so many researchers from UWE, University of Bath and University of Bristol’s Medical School have signed up to help with rapid evidence and evaluation support to help inform the local, national and international COVID-19 response."

The research teams who have responded to the call include:

  • NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West), University of Bristol and University of the West of England
  • NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR Bristol BRC), University of Bristol
  • NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Behavioural Science and Evaluation, University of Bristol
  • Bristol Trials Centre (BTC), University of Bristol
  • Bristol Appraisal and Review of Research Group (BARR), University of Bristol
  • Centre for Academic Primary Care (CAPC), University of Bristol
  • Centre for Academic Mental Health (CAMH), University of Bristol
  • Centre for Health and Clinical Research, University of the West of England
  • Centre for Healthcare Innovation and Improvement, University of Bath
  • Centre for Motivation and Health Behaviour Change, University of Bath
  • Centre for Public Health and Well Being, University of the West of England
  • Centre for Research in Health and Social Care, University of Bristol
  • Departments of Psychology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology, and Department for Health, University of Bath
  • Elizabeth Blackwell Institute (EBI), University of Bristol
  • Health Economics Bristol (HEB), University of Bristol
  • Integrative Epidemiology Unit (IEU), University of Bristol
  • Multi-parameter Evidence Synthesis Research Group (MPES), University of Bristol

Further information 

Support University of Bristol COVID-19 research

University of Bristol researchers are part of a global network of scientists responding urgently to the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic. Find out how you can support their critical work.

About the NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. The NIHR:

  • funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care
  • engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research
  • attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future
  • invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services
  • partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy.

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

See: NIHR's response to COVID-19