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  • Led by Keele University and Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Improving awareness of and support for the mental health needs of people living with persistent pain: optimising three prototype interventions to improve mental health awareness and signposting for patients and clinicians in a Musculoskeletal (MSK) setting.
  • The initial scoping and testing for this project took place with the Q Lab March – October 2019.
  • The next phase – with funding from the Health Foundation and NHS England/Improvement – will take place January – December 2020.

Why this project

Research led by Keele University across Staffordshire, which looked at patient outcomes, identified that some of the people accessing MSK services have chronic pain, and also report anxiety and depression. Clinicians working at the Haywood Hospital recognised the barriers within their service in supporting people with these needs – including patient expectations of an MSK appointment and what they are there to discuss, and varying levels of confidence from clinicians in supporting people. This highlighted the need to design processes in their service to meet the needs of patients.

The work so far

The team have explored improving mental health awareness and signposting for patients and clinicians in their MSK service. This included looking at the current MSK Interface service and identifying the opportunities to embed support that will improve care outside traditional health care professional interactions. In addition, they looked at how they could reduce stigma around mental health in MSK services, so that more patients take up the support offers available to them.

The team have been developing an animation with evidence-based messages to encourage patients to have conversations about their mental health and wellbeing in MSK appointments. To support these conversations, MSK physios and volunteers have undergone joint training on mental health awareness. Volunteers have also developed a health and wellbeing directory, that includes local mental health services, to help support signposting for patients to the services available in the local area.

The team will continue to develop and implement these ideas at the MSK Interface Service at the Haywood Hospital. The work will be supported by a community of practice set up by the team, that includes clinicians, volunteers, researchers and people with lived experience.

Connect with the team

Kay Stevenson

Nicola Evans