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Our approach and our mission

Who/what is PenCRU? Find out here!

The Peninsula Childhood Disability Research Unit (PenCRU) is a childhood disability research team. We are a partnership between researchers, families and health care professionals. Working together, we aim to ensure that research addresses issues that are relevant to disabled children and their families and results in beneficial new treatments and services.

PenCRU is part of the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) South West Peninsula (PenARC). PenARC is a collaboration of Universities and NHS organisations in the South West of England which aims to deliver high-quality health research that influences medical practice. 

What we do and our values 

PenCRU responds to questions from families about treatments, therapies and health services for children and young people affected by disability or who have special or additional health needs. We provide summaries of the evidence regarding specific treatments to help families make informed decisions. Where the evidence is lacking we seek funding to conduct clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of interventions. Our focus is on outcomes that families tell us are important, such as function, social inclusion and participation, and quality of life.

Questions received from families or health professionals enter a process of prioritisation.

  1. The first step is to clarify the question before determining whether it is a potential research question.
  2. Research questions are then divided into those topics that have been researched elsewhere (in which case the proposer is directed to the appropriate resources or we will produce a 'What's the Evidence?' summary)
  3. Or those for which there is very little information to answer the question. The research question may be considered further in consultation with parents and professionals and we may develop a proposal to answer that question with a study. Proposed studies must fit with our programme of work, be feasible, and have the potential to be funded.

PenCRU carries out a broad programme of applied research that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of disabled children and their families.

PenCRU seeks to carry out research that families with disabled children think is useful and relevant to their lives.

The ethos of the unit is to involve families affected by childhood disability in all aspects of our research and related activities. This includes setting our research agenda and deciding how to carry out specific research projects. We achieve this involvement through our Family Faculty.

In addition we seek to work in partnership with agencies providing health, social and educational services for children across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. We believe that partnership between families, service providers and researchers is vital to improving the lives of disabled children and their families.

We also pursue research with colleagues engaged in childhood disability research across the UK and worldwide.