Key Projects and Expertise

The NMAHP RU is a multi-disciplinary research unit with representatives from Nursing, Midwifery, and Allied Health Professional disciplines including occupational therapy, prosthetics, physiotherapy, optometry, and speech and language therapy.

In the social sciences we currently cover the disciplines of sociology, psychology, and anthropology. We also have statisticians contributing to our work in intervention trials and data linkage/epidemiological work, along with high level qualitative skill sets and systematic reviewers. Total Unit staffing as at May 2013 was 48, with 11 new externally funded appointments advertised or imminent.

The NMAHP RU Interventions Programme aims to undertake research (primary, secondary and implementation research) which addresses the effectiveness of NMAHP interventions in the NMAHP RU’s priority areas, with the ultimate aim of achieving health gain for the Scottish population and beyond. It also undertakes methodological research which improves our ability to successfully and efficiently evaluate NMAHP interventions and to maximise likely impact. The NMAHP RU’s Quality & Delivery of Care programme enhances our research in the phases of intervention development and translation of evidence relating to effective interventions.

NMAHP Programmes:

The team has expertise in research relating to models of maternity care delivery, mother and infant nutrition, decision making and health informatics. We have methodological expertise in qualitative and quantitative research and experience in developing and testing complex interventions, randomised controlled trials and cluster trials.

Additional projects include the Virtual International Stroke Trials Archive (VISTA), which was developed as a collaborative stroke trials resource. The aim was to collate and provide access to anonymised clinical trial data for new exploratory analyses.


Researchers are investigating the efficiency of the most common NHS treatment for female incontinence – to see how it can better treat the estimated one in three women who live with the condition.

Incontinence is normally treated in the first instance with a series of exercises which aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The NHS spends £38 million on such programmes every year.

The £2million OPAL study led by the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP) – which is funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government and hosted jointly by Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Stirling – will recruit 600 women, who will then visit a specialist nurse or physiotherapist to be taught how to do the exercises.

Half the group will be encouraged to do the exercises regularly. The other half will also be given a simple, portable biofeedback unit so they can monitor the exercises themselves at home and in clinic. The device allows participants to watch their pelvic floor muscles working on a computer screen.

The benefit of biofeedback will be measured by comparing the severity of incontinence in the two groups after two years.

The study will also help to inform healthcare practitioners how intensively women should exercise to achieve the required results and provide data on how women can be best motivated to complete the exercises.

Professor Suzanne Hagen, Programme Director at the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit, said: “Pelvic floor muscle exercises are widely used to tackle the condition, with some centres and women already using the biofeedback devices. However, this has never been adequately researched and our study will provide definitive evidence to help the NHS decide if they should routinely invest in the technology.

“Incontinence is very common and distressing for women. It stops some from socialising and can lead to real loss of self-esteem. This research, therefore, could have a significant impact on a large number of women’s quality of life.”

NMAHP RU Projects include: