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Dr James Sheppard needed PPI from people over 80 so he went to his gran’s day care to get it.

The research 

OPtimising Treatment for MIld Systolic hypertension in the Elderly (OPTiMISE), funded by NIHR CLAHRC Oxford. It aims to reduce the amount of drugs taken by patients over 80 who have high blood pressure and take two or more blood pressure lowering drugs, using self-monitoring of blood pressure.


James had to travel to Derbyshire to attend his gran’s day care. He chose to do this because although he believes an Oxfordshire group would have welcomed him, he felt people might be more willing to engage with someone who had an existing ‘connection’ to the group. The day care was run by Age UK Derby & Derbyshire so he made arrangements with their organiser.

What was done (and what worked!)

James wanted to offer something in return for the PPI input so he gave a 10 minute presentation on early signs of stroke and how to prevent strokes.
Then James moved around the tables of older people discussing his research ideas with them.

The difference PPI made
James went to the day care with specific questions that he wanted answers to but found that the older people wanted to talk about other things! This proved very fruitful because they raised the transport problems for older people in attending their GP practice and as a result James changed the study so that taxi fares are now offered to participants.
James also wanted to get approval for his Patient Information Sheet but found that the older people were not interested in even reading it.

As a result he developed a short animated video to explain the project to participants: 

What was learnt?

For this age group it was much better to go to them due to transport difficulties for them in attending the University. By meeting with them in their own setting it also meant they were in a familiar setting and did not feel intimidated, hence enabling lots of input.
This was the most productive PPI experience James has had.
He has now recruited people over 80 to the steering group but he finds this input slightly less beneficial. James believes that if you go to them, they are less likely to be worried about asking the stupid question.

What people said

“It was nice to think we were helping such a nice young man with his research.”
“I like to think that some of what we said will help other older people in the long run.”

Conclusions and what next?

The trial is currently recruiting to a feasibility phase, and pending the results of this will begin recruiting to the full study of 540 patients in the Autumn. Further PPI input will be sought throughout the trial through the trial steering committee and ad-hoc advisory group meetings.

Contact details

James Sheppard