University of Birmingham Chancellors Court

Researchers at the University of Birmingham are supporting a new programme designed to provide exercise-based rehabilitation to people living with multiple long-term health conditions.

The PERFORM study (Personalised Exercise-Rehabilitation for people with Multiple long-term conditions) is led by researchers at the University of Leicester and the University of Glasgow and supported by the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre – a partnership between the University of Leicester, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and Loughborough University. It is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

There are a growing number of people living with more than one long-term health condition as care improves and life expectancy has increased. However, health care services often only address one condition at a time. People with more than one health condition often have complex needs that are not always met by this approach.

The researchers hope to produce a personalised exercise-rehabilitation programme for people living with multiple long-term health conditions that factors in these complex needs.

Professor Colin Greaves, at the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, is leading the development of the exercise-rehabilitation programme.

The work builds on expertise established at the University through the REACH-HF programme, an award-winning home-based cardiac rehabilitation programme developed to help increase participation in rehabilitation therapies for heart failure patients and carers. The aim of exercise based rehabilitation is to reduce the impact of symptoms on quality of life, rather than treat the condition itself, yet is usually disease-specific.

Professor Kate Jolly, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Applied Health Research, says: “We are really delighted to receive this support from the National Institute for Health Research as the research will help to determine how we can support people who are living with multiple long term conditions to have have a better quality of life”.

Professor Greaves says: “We hope that this will be a game-changing development for care of older people with multiple illnesses in the NHS. We will be able to concentrate much more of the care and support they need in one place and engage the power of exercise to address multiple conditions. This project further reinforces the University of Birmingham’s growing reputation as a centre for the development of high impact real-world interventions for supporting patients to manage chronic illnesses.”

Professor Sally Singh, co-lead of the project and Professor of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation at the University of Leicester and Leicester Hospitals, said: “We know that people who undergo respiratory or cardiac exercise-based rehabilitation see a real improvement in their quality of life, a reduction in their symptoms and an increased ability to carry out their day-to-day tasks. However we’ve also heard from a lot of people with multiple long term conditions that current rehabilitation programmes don’t meet their needs

“This programme will take a more personalised, patient-centred and holistic approach to exercise rehabilitation. People will undergo individual assessments of their needs so we can focus on improving what matters most to them.”

The research team will work with people living with multiple long term health conditions, current rehabilitation service users, and healthcare workers to design the new programme. It will then be tested in clinical trials across the UK to investigate the benefit to patients. The team are also working with experts from the Universities of Birmingham, Exeter, Salford, York and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

For media enquiries please contact Beck Lockwood, Press Office, University of Birmingham, tel: +44 (0)781 3343348.

The University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

The NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is a partnership between University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, the University of Leicester and Loughborough University. It is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

The NIHR Leicester BRC undertakes translational clinical research in priority areas of high disease burden and clinical need. These include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and lifestyle, obesity and physical activity. There is also a cross-cutting theme for precision medicine. The BRC harnesses the power of experimental science to explore and develop ways to help prevent and treat chronic disease. It brings together 70 highly skilled researchers, 30 of which are at the forefront of clinical services delivery. By having scientists working closely with clinicians, the BRC can deliver research that is relevant to patients and the professionals who treat them.


The mission of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:

  • Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
  • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
  • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
  • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
  • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
  • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.