Exploring why disease affects people differently

May 05, 2004

A new five-year partnership between Cardiff University and UnumProvident, the UK's leading provider of Income Protection Insurance, will provide a unique opportunity to explore why people respond differently to the same disease - and why it renders some people unable to work while others continue.

In a £1.6 million research contract signed on Thursday (6 May), the new UnumProvident Centre for Psychosocial and Disability Research in the School of Psychology sets out to achieve the highest level of research and teaching excellence and become a recognised world-class research centre and resource for psychosocial and disability research. It will develop training courses to deliver the knowledge and expertise required by general medicine, to tackle psychosocial and disability issues, and in managing risk assessment and rehabilitation.

The centre is the first in UK to develop specific lines of research, in psychosocial factors related to disability as well as conducting research for the application of research based vocational rehabilitation interventions, and assessment of psychosocial determinants of ill-health behaviours impacting upon work capability.

"Hopefully within five years, the work will bring about a significant re-orientation in current medical practise in the UK whereby "enablement " rather than disability, will be the positive focus and goal for those involved in managing disability and those affected by unexplained symptoms" explained Professor Peter Halligan who forged the partnership with UnumProvident.

Professor Halligan from the School of Psychology added "The centre will result in the development of an academic infrastructure - the first of its kind - that will provide the necessary research platform from which to develop and foster research, teaching and clinical training in psychosocial disability. It will inform and deliver world-class evidence-based clinical training underpinned by cutting-edge research at all levels".

Dr Peter Dewis Customer Care Director at UnumProvident said "We are very excited about this new partnership and I am confident that a number of important advances will be seen. These will involve our overall understanding of the complex range of factors which determine why people become ill, but more important, I am confident that we will be able to increase our effectiveness in being able to help people return to work after illness. This will bring benefits to employers, insurers and to society as a whole, but mostly it will be of benefit to individuals because we know that people are healthier when actively involved in work"

Cardiff University's Vice-Chancellor Dr David Grant said: "The centre is another example of Cardiff University research which not only pushes back the frontiers of knowledge and understanding but also helps to transfer that knowledge into practical benefits for individuals and society."
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Cardiff University

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