The DISCOVER programme, led by Dr Irene Sclare from South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, uses psychoeducation and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) methods to equip sixth form students with tools to better manage their stress. Researchers in four areas of the UK, led by Dr June Brown, Reader in Clinical Psychology at King’s IoPPN, are running a large clinical trial, called the Brief Educational Workshops in Secondary Schools Trial (BESST), to investigate the effectiveness of DISCOVER.
So, what is my role in this project? I am trial manager for BESST, acting as a central coordinator to ensure all the clinical and research elements of this large research project come together as planned. You could therefore say I am a link between all the different teams – so let me explain how this collaboration works!
How did BESST and DISCOVER come together?
Based on an adult workshop model developed by Dr June Brown, Dr Irene Sclare started developing the DISCOVER stress workshops for adolescents. In 2014, they collaborated to run the first pilot study of the workshops in schools in South London. Their teams subsequently ran a slightly larger study in 2019 which showed the DISCOVER workshops were accessible and likely to be effective. However, a larger study was needed to rigorously investigate the effectiveness of the workshops – hence BESST was born.
Understanding the structure of BESST
BESST is a nationwide randomised controlled trial (RCT), funded by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR), with multiple institutions contributing to the project. There are two sides of BESST – research and clinical. The research side is led by King’s College London, with the IoPPN acting as the trial’s core research institution. However, we also collaborate with other research institutions across England to make this possible, including the Anna Freud Centre in London and Manchester, University of Bath, University of Northampton, and Middlesex University. Our research teams are responsible for all organisation of the trial, recruitment of schools, participants and workshop delivery teams, data collection and management, and data analysis and reporting findings.
On the clinical side of the trial, we continue a long-standing collaboration with the DISCOVER workshop team at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, with the DISCOVER team leader, Dr Irene Sclare, as the clinical lead for BESST. The DISCOVER team have provided valuable input into workshop delivery within the trial and have been responsible for ensuring staff are fully trained to deliver the workshop programme. As trial manager, I have been working closely with members of the DISCOVER team to ensure the research and clinical aspects of the trial work together effectively.