Dr Giovanni Biglino
Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics, University of Bristol
Clinicians and researchers value the knowledge of patients and the public to add new dimensions to their cardiovascular research.
Patients and the public are playing an increasing role in cardiovascular research through closer collaborations with clinicians, researchers and artists.
The approach at the Bristol Heart Institute (BHI) is supporting clinical training and medical research as well as helping patients have a better understanding, and acceptance, of their heart conditions.
Techniques, such as 3D printing of hearts, are already showing benefits for patients and researchers.
Dr Giovanni Biglino, a Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics at the BHI, aims to involve patients more actively in research.
Printing a 3D model of a patient’s heart from routine medical images can support clinical decision-making and training and provide a different way for a clinical team to approach a complex case.
“When a 3D-printed heart model is presented to a patient or family in a clinical consultation, it can also help with explaining the procedure and encouraging patients to ask questions,” he explains.
Printing a 3D model of a patient’s heart from routine medical images can support clinical decision-making and training.
Refining research questions
Involving patients in studies can help refine cardiovascular research questions or pose different ones.
Patients can also examine study data, while broader public engagement can identify research priorities.
It takes resources to train patients to become involved, but Dr Biglino believes the investment is worthwhile because of the added benefit.
For researchers and clinicians, it gives focus and relevance to research which can ultimately enhance patient care.
The BHI also works with artists and musicians in its research approach, allowing “conversations to be had in a different way,” says Dr Biglino.
One project saw congenital heart disease patients sharing visions of their hearts, which delivered a series of narratives that were adapted into an exhibition. Accounts were also set to music and will be translated into a digital animation.
Dr Biglino says involving patients in cardiovascular research is about “collaboration, listening and being creative” as well as empowering patients, and ensuring they benefit from the experience.