Professor Ade Adebajo
Ade Adebajo is professor of rheumatology and health service research at the University of Sheffield, a consultant physician in rheumatology and clinical director for specialised medicine at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
What does your work involve?
My time is split between clinical work, research, education and administration. Clinically, I very much enjoy seeing and looking after patients. Although in the eyes of many, rheumatology hasn’t been as glamorous a specialty as for example cardiology, I find it very fulfilling. I feel that it is so important to help improve patients’ quality of life. I believe that ‘adding life to years’ is as important as ‘adding years to life’. Increasingly there is evidence that by treating inflammatory arthritis, for example, we are also doing the latter.
In addition to being an educational supervisor for junior doctors, I am involved in a range of activities with medical students. My main research is in international musculoskeletal health and health service research, which both overlap greatly. In particular I very much see education as an important health intervention, effective at an individual level for patients and healthcare professionals, but also on a community and even national level.
How long has Arthritis Research UK been funding you?
Intermittently for many years, ever since I was a then ARC clinical research fellow at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge in the late1980s. Since then, I have either been funded directly by Arthritis Research UK or worked on other Arthritis Research UK-funded projects. I owe a great debt of gratitude to the charity for helping me to pursue my interests in musculoskeletal research and education.
What is the most important thing you have found out in the past twelve months? And why?
I have recently discovered the tremendous added value which patients bring as partners to the research process. This is something which I believe Arthritis Research UK does very well. Patients can make an active contribution to the research process starting from the commissioning and prioritisation of research, all the way through to helping to oversee the conduct of research studies and promote the dissemination of research findings. I’m now involved in a Department of Health-funded national body to promote appropriate active patient involvement in research.
What do you hope or expect to achieve as a result of your Arthritis Research UK findings?
Arthritis Research UK provides a wide range of invaluable educational materials for patients on various musculoskeletal disorders. One area of identified difficulty is how to ensure that people with low literacy skills and those who don’t speak English are able to access high quality educational materials on musculoskeletal conditions. With Arthritis Research UK funding I’m looking at ways to overcome this difficulty using a combination of novel community approaches together with advances in digital multimedia. Specifically, this should lead to the development of layered electronic resources with different depths of complexity, providing access to educational resources regardless of level of literacy.
What do you do on a typical day?
One moment I am reviewing patients on a ward round and the next moment I’m at a curriculum meeting for the medical school. I’m currently a board member of ARMA (the Arthritis Musculoskeletal Alliance), of which Arthritis Research UK is an important member.
What is your greatest research achievement?
Over the last three decades, I have enjoyed researching the musculoskeletal health needs of minority groups in the UK. I am also delighted to have helped to develop an educational needs assessment tool, with which we are currently conducting a study funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).
Why did you choose to do this work?
As a young doctor I saw the great potential in rheumatology as a specialty, as it provided a holistic approach to patient care, but also great opportunities not only for translational research, but also for health service research. Instinctively I’ve always seen education as an important and worthwhile intervention, be it for patients, medical students or healthcare professionals.
Do you ever think about how your work can help with arthritis?
Yes I do all of the time. This is why I’m so committed to carrying out research in partnership with patients and members of the public, to ensure that patients are put at the very centre of research. When teaching medical students I emphasise that the patient rather than a healthcare professional is the most important individual during ward rounds or clinic consultations. I believe my research work with Arthritis Research UK will help to ensure that all peoples of the UK gain a greater understanding of these conditions.
What would you do if you weren’t a researcher?
Strange as it sounds, I enjoy helping to resolve conflict, so I suspect that as an alternative career I would have enjoyed working as a United Nations peacekeeping diplomat!
I am married with three children. I love travelling and experiencing new cultures as well as new cuisine. My eldest two children (both girls) are now working, but the youngest child, aged 14, is a keen footballer and represents Sheffield schools. As a consequence, I spend many a weekend in the pouring rain or battered by icy winds watching him play football!