Dawlish patient in national campaign promoting health research

A Dawlish man has shared his own experience in support of a national campaign promoting participation in health research.

The National Institute for Health Research promotes opportunities for taking part in clinical research and the benefits for patients through its campaign called ‘Our Stories.’

Howard Almond was diagnosed in 2015 with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) which progressively scars the lung and affects breathing.  The cause of IPF is unknown and there is currently no cure for this condition. The British Thoracic Society estimates 5,000 people are diagnosed with IPF in the UK each year.

When respiratory consultant Dr Michael Gibbons offered Howard the opportunity to take part in a one year clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of a specific drug treatment for IPF,

Howard said he agreed because there was so much to gain and nothing to lose.

Howard said: “Why wouldn’t you want to participate in this research? How else are we going to get a better understanding of IPF and how to treat it? I don’t know whether I am receiving the actual drug being trialled or a placebo (dummy) alternative but it has been reassuring having the regular clinic appointments and check-ups. I recently had a chest infection and couldn’t fault how promptly and thoroughly I was assessed.”

As a study participant Howard attends clinic at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital for a nurse to administer weekly injections and he has tests to monitor his health and wellbeing every three months. He said: “I am lucky that I can come to the hospital close to where I live to take part in this study but I know of other patients on this trial who are visited by a research nurse in their own home because they live much further afield and travelling is not really an option for them.”

He added: “I know that IPF is a progressive condition which the medical profession cannot reverse but in the meantime I will do everything that I feel I can to maintain quality and longevity of my life. I hope research will improve the experience of people living with IPF in the future.”

Howard’s research participation experience is now being shared by the campaign run by the National Institute for Health Research, which is the research arm of the NHS. The campaign activity includes media coverage, social media, newsletters and specialist lung charity communications channels.

When Howard is not working at his son's waste management business and his own software development business, he is giving his time to national and local community good causes including serving as an Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis charity trustee.