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Cardiff researchers lead successful bid for £4m government contract

06 Tachwedd 2008

Researchers from the South East Wales Trials Unit at the School of Medicine, Cardiff University have led a successful £4 million bid to evaluate the Family Nurse Partnership programme in England.

The research team led by Dr Mike Robling, Associate Director of South East Wales Trials Unit (SEWTU) are mostly based in the Department of Primary Care & Public Health and are part of the Clinical Epidemiology Interdisciplinary Research Group. The collaboration involves colleagues from the University of York, University of Bristol and the University of Glamorgan, as well as other schools in Cardiff University.

The Family Nurse Partnership is a structured preventive programme that is offered to vulnerable young parents from early pregnancy until the child is two years old. The programme is delivered by specially trained nurses drawn mainly for health visiting and midwifery. The programme has recently undergone a formative evaluation, and the new ‘Building Blocks’ study will involve 18 trial sites across England recruiting more than 2000 participants under the age of 20 into a randomised controlled trial.

The study which is funded by the Department of Health is due to run until January 2013 and will demonstrate whether the programme is effective in improving the health and well-being of both the child and mother during pregnancy, at birth and in early childhood in comparison to standard universal services. The cost of the programme will also be assessed in relation to the benefits that it produces.

The study benefits from the clinical research infrastructure of CRC-Cymru and UKCRN funded by the Wales Assembly Government and by the Department of Health in England respectively. The Family Nurse Partnership in England is a joint Department of Health and Department for Children, Schools and Families programme.

Dr Mike Robling said: "Securing this prestigious contract confirms SEWTU’s status as one of the UK’s leading centres for coordinating multi-centre trials, particularly of complex interventions."

The South East Wales Trials Unit was funded by the Wales Office of Research and Development (WORD) in October 2006. It draws together existing expertise in trials and other well designed multi-centre studies to form an experienced team to support excellence in Wales. Since its inception, the Unit has led studies in areas such as infections, behaviour change, and children & young people - in both UK and European-wide studies. Most recently it was the first centre to recruit children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes for a UK-wide study investigating the advantages of home management and hospitalisation. It is also one of only three clinical trial units in Wales to showcased on the new website, UKCRC Registered Clinical Trials Units, which lists the UK’s foremost clinical trials expertise.