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Families needed for study into children's common illnesses

Press release issued: 29 February 2016

University of Bristol researchers are inviting Bristol families to take part in a new study to find out more about how parents manage children’s coughs, colds, sore throats and ear infections in the community.

The project seeks to recruit around 450 families. It will find out how these illnesses develop and circulate by collecting information on the symptoms, how children are cared for at home, which bugs are causing them and when parents choose to seek medical help. Previous research has only looked at these illnesses once parents have chosen to consult their GP, so not so much is known about these common infections in children who do not go to the doctor.

Families will be invited to take part between now and June 2016 via a letter from their GP. Those wanting to help will then receive weekly emails asking if their child has developed any cough, cold, sore throat or ear infection symptoms in the last seven days. When children develop symptoms, parents will be asked more questions about the illness, and a research nurse will visit them at home to collect a saliva and nose swab from the child (to identify the bacteria or viruses causing the illness).

Emma Anderson, study manager at the University’s Centre for Academic Primary Care, in the School of Social and Community Medicine, said: “This is exciting research that could have a real impact on how these common childhood infections are managed in the future. We hope parents will recognise the importance of researchers understanding how they look after children in the home, and be willing to help present information online to describe the symptoms and microbiology (viruses and bacteria) of infections as they develop in the community.”

Several GP surgeries within a ten mile radius of Bristol city centre are taking part in the study. Parents can also visit the EEPRIS website for further information, and to check if theirs is one of the participating practices. Parents living within 10 miles of Bristol city centre can request to be invited by contacting the study team on

The study is funded and supported by the NHS (through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Evaluation of Interventions. The HPRU is a partnership between universities across England and Public Health England (PHE) which supports high-quality research to protect our health.

Further information

About the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
The National Institute for Health Research (
NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHRpeople, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. 

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