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People from both sides of the border will benefit from new health and social care research trials thanks to a new Cross-Border Healthcare Intervention Trials in Ireland Network (CHITIN).

CHITIN has received €8.84m in funding from the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). Match-funding for the project has also been provided by the Departments of Health in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

CHITIN aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland (Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Cavan, Monaghan, and Louth) through cross border research collaborations. The research is looking at key health challenges such as youth mental health, obesity, asthma and stroke.

Ulster University is leading on four of the eleven CHITIN trials:

  • Improving mental health among at-risk young people in a challenging border region, led by Dr Elaine Murray
  • ReFLECTS: a cross-border Randomised Controlled Trial to evaluate the effectiveness of mirror box therapy in upper limb rehabilitation with sub-acute Stroke patients, led by Dr Alison Porter-Armstrong
  • WORtH: The feasibility of a walking intervention to increase activity and reduce sedentary behaviour in people with serious mental illness, led by Professor Suzanne McDonough
  • The Walking In ScHools (WISH) Trial: A peer-led, school based walking intervention for adolescent girls led by Professor Marie Murphy

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director, Research and Development, Public Health Agency and lead partner on the project said:

“Funding of €8.84m for the CHITIN project is great news for health research. Not only is CHITIN going to help benefit the health and wellbeing of people and help prevent illness, it means that those people who may not have been able to access health research previously have the opportunity to do so in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland.”

“In addition to this, a network of health and social care research professionals will be created and this will help shape research in the future whilst working towards a shared goal so people can enjoy the benefits health research can bring them in the future.”

According to Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board:

“Health research and trials can transform people’s lives. They help prevent illness, improve patient care and advance health policy. I believe the learning and health benefits that we get from this initiative will extend throughout the island of Ireland.”

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said:

“The EU’s INTERREG VA Programme seeks to ensure equity of access to healthcare services for all citizens regardless of where they live. This project seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of people living on both sides of the border, through a unique partnership of healthcare providers with a wealth of experience in the research and delivery of highly effective public health campaigns.

“By working in collaboration they will be laying the foundations for new treatments and preventative measures that can improve the quality of life of thousands of citizens.”

For further information visit the CHITIN website