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The Healthlines study: Expanding the role of NHS Direct in the management of long-term conditions

The Healthlines Study is a research programme exploring ways in which NHS Direct can support people to manage their long term health conditions.

Why are we conducting the Healthlines Study?

As the population is getting older, more people are living with long term conditions (LTCs) such as asthma, diabetes and depression. There is great interest in considering how the NHS can best help people to manage LTCs including using `telehealth´ (based on technologies such as the internet and the telephone).

Because NHS Direct already provide services by telephone and the internet they are in a good position to support people with LTCs using telehealth methods

What are the aims of the Healthlines Study?

The aims of the Healthlines Study are to find out the type of services that people with LTCs would like NHS Direct to provide, the types of people who would find this most useful, and then to develop suitable services and to test whether they work.

What is the Healthlines Study?

The Healthlines Study programme is made of a series of separate research activities. Below is a diagram showing these:

Healthlines Activities Chart

For information about each stage of the research please click on the link below which will take you to the main Healthlines website:

Activities 1-4 have now finished and Activity 5- the Definitive Evaluation- Randomised Controlled Trial is now underway (see below for further information).

Testing the intervention

Activities 1-4 have resulted in the development of two NHS Direct based telehealth services, one for people with depression and the other for people with a high risk of cardio-vascular disease. The aim of the NHS Direct service is to provide people with support to help them better manage these two examples of long term conditions.

As these are new services we are conducting a randomised controlled trial to test whether they are beneficial to patients. This will involve recruiting approximately 1280 patients across the country, including 600 people in the South Yorkshire area, via their GP Practices.

If you click on the link below that will take you to the protocol which explains more about this part of the Healthlines Study: Healthlines Protocol

For further information please click on the link below which will take you to the main Healthlines website:

Who is involved in the Healthlines Study?

The Healthlines Study is a collaboration between the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and NHS Direct.

How is the Healthlines Study being funded?

The Healthlines Study is being funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Programme Grants for Applied Research Scheme (Ref RP-PG-0108-10011).

How long is the Healthlines Study running for?

The Healthlines Study is a five year project that started in November 2009 and will finish in 2014.

Who is involved in the Healthlines Study?

Within ScHARR the following people work on the Healthlines Study:

Key people on the Healthlines Study at the University of Bristol include:

  • Dr Clare Thomas, Programme Manager
  • Professor Chris Salisbury, Chief Investigator

Where can I get further information about the Healthlines Study?

For further information about the Healthlines Study please contact:

Alexis Foster, Research Associate


Telephone: 0114 222 26129

Alternatively you can visit the Healthlines Study website: