Health professionals sought for study by world's largest cleft research programme

Issue date: 12 October 2016

Baby with cleft palate

Health professionals with experience of working with families affected by cleft lip and palate are being sought as part of a study for a world-leading research programme.

Diagnostic sonographers, midwives, health visitors and GPs with any relevant experience are needed for the study led by an academic from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).

Dr Nicola Stock, a Research Fellow at UWE Bristol's internationally-recognised Centre for Appearance Research, plans to interview health workers for an insight into the care provided to families affected by the facial birth anomaly which affects more than 1,000 babies every year in the UK.

Psychology expert Dr Stock said the research was urgently needed because qualified health professionals' views on cleft lip and palate care had previously gone unheard.

She said: “Previous research has demonstrated that the information and care families receive during and after the diagnosis is crucial in helping them to cope with the challenges ahead. Health professionals play a key part in this, yet their views have not been heard before. If we are to maximise patient outcomes, we believe health professionals' input is invaluable.

“We are inviting sonographers, midwives, health visitors, GPs and other relevant health professionals to participate in an individual, open-ended interview over the telephone about their experiences of working with families affected by cleft lip and palate. I would urge health professionals to get in touch even if their experience in regard to cleft lip and palate is minimal.”

The research could ultimately play a role in improving health services for children with cleft lip and palate, and their families, said Dr Stock. The study is being run by The Cleft Collective, a collaboration between UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol, which is investigating the biological and environmental causes of cleft, the best treatments for cleft and the psychological impact of cleft on those affected and their families. The Collective is supported entirely by charitable donations, led by the Scar Free Foundation.

Dr Stock, who has specialised in the field of cleft lip and palate since 2010, said: “The Cleft Collective is the largest cleft lip and palate research programme in the world. Our aim is to improve the lives of affected children and their families by informing the delivery of health services through high quality research.”

For more information about the study, or to express an interest in taking part, please contact Dr Stock on

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