The Road Safety Authority (RSA), in association with the National Programme Office for Traffic Medicine (NPOTM), awarded the €40,000 grant following a competitive process. Co-leads Research Fellow Dr Carol Sinnott and Professor of General Practice and Head of Department Prof Colin Bradley, both in the Department of General Practice at UCC, will head a team of researchers, representing UCC (Dr Tony Foley and Dr Kathleen McCloughlin, and Linda Horgan, Departments of General Practice and Occupational Therapy, respectively), the ICGP (Dr Claire Collins, Research Director) and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (Dr Emer Begley).
The research project, ‘Talking to patients with cognitive impairment about fitness to drive: Current approaches and possible improvement strategies for a general practice setting’, will investigate driving with cognitive impairment. Its main purpose is to look at how patients with cognitive impairment and GPs manage the discussion around safe driving.
Prof Desmond O’Neill, National Director of the NPOTM, emphasised the importance of research in the area of cognitive impairment and driving. “A part of the success of the [Traffic Medicine] Programme on Medical Fitness to Drive in Ireland stems from its roots in evidence-based practice. It is very important that we develop research in traffic medicine in Ireland that is reflected in clinical practice, and we are delighted that this comprehensive project on cognitive impairment and driving is the focus of the first RSA Research Award in Traffic Medicine, as this is an emerging and very relevant topic to road safety and patient care.”
Declan Naughton, Director of Driver Testing and Licensing, RSA, added: “Research that provides an evidence base for future policy is critical. This research will give us an insight into the engagement between drivers and GPs at a time when drivers may be feeling vulnerable. Understanding and responding to any barriers to this conversation, happening in a positive environment, will benefit both drivers and their doctors.”
Both the approaches currently used by GPs and the experiences that patients with cognitive impairment have had when discussing fitness to drive with their GPs will be explored by carrying out separate sets of interviews with patients or their carers.
The data from both sets of interviews will then be merged and used to develop new training materials for GPs.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr Carol Sinnott at email@example.com or Dr Kathleen McLoughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org