International collaboration

International collaboration: developing a care pathway for multi-morbid elderly patients

  • International
  • Research

RCSI is ranked in the Top 50 in the Times Higher World University 2022 for 'International Outlook'. Our global outlook is underpinned by collaborative partnerships with institutions across the world. Here, Dr Frank Doyle, Department of Health Psychology, Division of Population Health Sciences at RCSI, shares his perspectives on the value of international collaborations to his research. Dr Doyle is a member of the recently-funded ESCAPE consortium, which will evaluate a patient-centred biopsychosocial blended collaborative care pathway for the treatment of multi-morbid elderly patients.

The ESCAPE consortium was launched in April of this year with the goal of determining if IT-facilitated care integration, with a renewed focus on psychosocial and carer aspects, will improve quality of life for those with heart failure and other multi-morbidities and psychological distress.

For me, the consortium provides a tremendous opportunity to work with a high-quality multidisciplinary international team and to learn from each of the differing perspectives. I'm really looking forward to seeing how these ideas coalesce to better understand how we can improve the quality of life of this cohort of patients.

This will be a challenging and complex project because it has to account for different health systems and healthcare delivery models among countries, along with different interpretations of GDPR. Luckily, the team was experienced enough to realise this from the outset, so a period of negotiation and adaptation of the intervention to different contexts has been built into the process. This will allow local sites to adapt the intervention and software to local needs, while maintaining the overall integrity of the intervention and the study.

I think it is very helpful to work with people you like, who are passionate about the same things you are. Usually, it is best to work with people you have worked with before, but sometimes you have to be brave and take the plunge with new collaborators. In this instance, it is probably a good idea to get recommendations from others within the consortium as they will have worked with these new people.

To researchers embarking on a collaboration such as this, I would really encourage you not to underestimate the workload! As international consortia can be very complex, the associated administration will take up a lot more time than it would for national collaborations and this needs to be factored in to whatever you propose and ultimately whatever you can deliver. The science is often the lesser part of the work, even though it is what most academics will be most interested in. Luckily, we have excellent in-house expertise in RCSI and expertise over the entire consortium, so everything is manageable.

As everyone seems to be extraordinarily busy, it's also critical to be unambiguously clear about what you are asking people to do, plan things well in advance and communicate regularly to all.

Dr Frank Doyle is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology in RCSI. He coordinates and teaches behavioural sciences and statistics to health professionals at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

EU funded research

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 945377 (ESCAPE). This output reflects the views of the authors and the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. 

RCSI is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.