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University researcher scoops prestigious award

25 June 2015

Jenny Kitzinger

A professor from Cardiff University's School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies has won a prestigious award for her research into family experiences of coma, vegetative and minimally-conscious states

Professor Jenny Kitzinger's work has won the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) 2015 Outstanding Impact in Society award.

The award recognises the research Professor Kitzinger has conducted, alongside her colleague and sister Professor Celia Kitzinger (University of York), on issues including end-of-life decision-making, care and treatment, family impact and recovery.

The work prompted widespread public debate and discussions on medical ethics, informing important policy documents including new National Clinical Guidelines on prolonged disorders of consciousness.

The two researchers also worked with colleagues at Oxford University and with the Database of Individual Patient Experiences (DIPEx) charity to create a multimedia, online resource, which provides information and support for families and practitioners.

Launched in September 2014, the resource has already reached more than 4,000 people and is now being used in training healthcare and legal practitioners.

The researchers' work has also been translated into a BBC Radio 3 programme, 'Coma Songs' (co-produced by Jenny Kitzinger) which challenges common cultural misrepresentations of comas.

In addition to the ESRC award, the research received national recognition earlier this year after it secured joint-runner up in the Guardian University Awards 2015, and won Cardiff University's Innovation Policy Award earlier this month.

Professor Kitzinger said: "This research could not have been developed without the commitment of the family members who shared their experiences so openly – including agreeing to be filmed for the resource.

"There are many challenges ahead, but the centrality of hearing from those directly involved lays strong foundations laid for further work in this field."

The ESRC's Celebrating Impact Prize recognises and rewards the successes of ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved, or are currently achieving, outstanding economic and societal impacts.

The winners were announced at Central Hall Westminster, London on 24 June.

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