Research Design Service South East

Case Study 1 – Reducing anxiety in joint hypermobility – MQ Versus Arthritis Fellowship


Around 20% of the population have hypermobility, where joints move beyond a normal range of motion. There is a recognised link between hypermobility and higher anxiety in those with this condition, but no specific targeted treatment.

Dr Jessica Eccles is a Clinical Senior Lecturer and MQ Arthritis Research UK Fellow at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. She wanted to conduct a study to develop, test and refine a new treatment to reduce anxiety in this specific population. 

She came to RDS SE for support in applying for MQ Versus Arthritis Fellowship funding for a pilot randomised controlled trial in 80 people with both conditions. Half receive the new therapy while the rest have standard treatment. Pre and post-intervention brain scanning in some participants will show how the therapy works and how it might be improved. 

Jessica’s three-year Fellowship application was successful. RDS SE gave valuable grant writing, planning and PPI advice, along with power calculations support. An RDS ‘mock interview’ helped her prepare for panel presentation. (See our Fellowships guide).

This research will help people living with these conditions, inform mental and physical health treatment approaches and enhance neuroscientific understanding of hypermobility. There are plans for a future definitive trial using the pilot data. Jessica said: ‘Understanding mechanisms that can improve anxiety in this context are vital to personalised medicine. It is very exciting to be able to translate my PhD findings into a ‘bedside’ project with the capacity for real impact on patients.’

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