Newell Scholars

Katie Powers - The Inaugural Newell Scholar 2018

Katie Powers ONF PlaqueOn 30th June 2018 Katie Powers became the first Newell Scholar at the ONF Trustees meeting. 

The Ossie Newell Foundation is very pleased to help fund Katie’s PhD research linked to the broader Return To Work After Stroke project. Thank you to everyone who has helped to raise funds over the past 21 months to make this possible. This is a very important day in the history of the Ossie Newell Foundation as we make the first step of many towards improving the lives of stroke survivors and their families through this important research.

Katie Powers was born and raised in Washington D.C. in the United States of America. She lived there until she was 17 when she was offered a scholarship to the University of Nottingham. During her undergraduate degree, Katie joined the rowing team as a coxswain where she competed nationally and internationally. After three years of balancing her studies, rowing and various paid and voluntary roles, Katie graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience. Over the course of her degree, Katie became interested in acquired brain injury, specifically stroke. Following her graduation, she balanced a part-time job at a local cinema and a part-time job at King’s Mill Hospital working in the Radiology Department. It was in her role at King’s Mill where Katie realised she wanted to work with stroke survivors to help improve their lives after their stroke. She applied and was accepted to the University of Nottingham’s MSc Rehabilitation Psychology programme which she took on part-time. Whilst completing her MSc, she secured a job as a Research Assistant in the Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit conducting neurodevelopmental assessments for a pilot trial involving babies born very preterm.

Katie is currently employed on the Return to Work After Stroke (RETAKE) study as a research assistant. Katie’s research interests are in improving complex rehabilitation stroke trials. She is excited to begin her PhD within the University of Nottingham’s Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing as the first Newell Scholar. Katie’s PhD will explore patient and therapist attributes and whether those attributes affect patient and trial outcomes within a complex stroke rehabilitation trial.
In her spare time Katie is a keen runner, plays the cello and volunteers with a local charity for families in need. She also enjoys travelling, often to visit her family back in America.

Katie Powers - RETAKE embedded study

RetakeThe REturn To work After stroKE (RETAKE) study is a four year study aimed at determining whether early stroke specific vocational rehabilitation (ESSVR), in addition to the usual NHS rehabilitation, is more effective and more cost effective at returning stroke survivors to work, and keeping them there for at least 12 months, than the NHS intervention alone.

The aim of this doctoral study, which is embedded in the wider RETAKE trial, is to understand the effect that patient and therapist characteristics have on how the trial works in practice, looking at both the impact on individual stroke survivors and examining the effect on the outcomes of the trial overall.
The study will look at stroke survivor characteristics such as stroke severity, age, socioeconomic status, motivation, pre-stroke experience of coping and perceived ‘readiness’ for rehabilitation. Occupational therapist characteristics to be examined will include, for example, experience, beliefs about the use of research evidence in practice, and skills in engaging patients in a therapeutic relationship. Information about relevant characteristics will be collected by using a range of different research methods, including questionnaires, interviews, data from therapy records and therapist competency assessments.

The findings from this research will contribute to the stroke rehabilitation literature by indicating which factors influence engagement in and the outcomes of rehabilitation targeted at a return to work. This will be used not only to inform clinical practice, allowing better design of therapeutic interventions and improving specialist therapist training, but will also help to improve future research trial design.

Questions to be explored in the research:

Individual Therapists:
1. Do the occupational therapists’ attitudes toward evidence-based practice (EBP) affect their ability to deliver the intervention as was intended in the research design?
2. Does competency affect the occupational therapist’s ability to deliver the trial intervention as was intended in the research design? [Including competency in negotiating with the employer organisation as well as occupational therapy competency?]
3. To what extent does the patients' perception of the therapist contribute to a successful or unsuccessful relationship with the therapist?
4. What has motivated the trial occupational therapists to take part in a complex rehabilitation trial?
5. How does the response of the participant’s employer affect the ability of the therapist to deliver the trial intervention as was intended in the research design?

Individual Stroke Survivor Attributes

1. Do stroke survivors need to be actively engaged in the intervention for a positive outcome?
2. What motivates stroke survivors to participate in rehabilitation? How does this affect the stroke survivor’s success? (In development) [think about liminality, emotional and biographical disruption, and hope, here?]
3. Does the stroke survivor’s ‘readiness’ for rehabilitation have an impact on the outcome overall?
4. Does the stroke survivor’s beliefs about their own capabilities have an impact on the outcome?

Therapeutic Alliance
1. To what extent does the quality of the therapeutic relationship affect the stroke survivor’s outcome?