• Research shows 91% of construction workers have felt overwhelmed and 26% have experienced suicidal thoughts*
• National Grid issues call to join its Health in Construction Consortium to improve wellbeing of workers across the industry.
• National Grid opens new Health Hub at IFA interconnector site to provide wellbeing support for staff and contractors
National Grid is calling on the construction sector to work together to develop an industry-wide approach to improve the mental health and well-being of its workers.
Suicide rates for construction workers in the UK are over three times the national average with over two employees dying by suicide every day.
This highlights that wellbeing initiatives are not reaching the most vulnerable and more needs to be done to improve support and services offered within the sector.
There are a range of factors which make construction employees especially at risk of poor mental health including regular periods of underemployment, extended time spent away from family and friends and high mobility within the workforce. This has only been exacerbated through the pandemic.
According to research by CIOB, some 91% of workers report feeling overwhelmed and 26% have experienced suicidal thoughts. *
National Grid is determined to change this, by establishing a Health in Construction Consortium and leaders have called for supporters from throughout the sector to join the project.
The call to action was made at the official launch of a new on-site Health Hub at the company’s IFA interconnector site in Kent on Thursday. (19th May).
The facility has been specially designed to improve the wellbeing of construction workers and includes a canteen providing heathy meals, recreational space, a garden and a gym as well as a quiet room for prayer and reflection.
Services such as mental health and wellbeing sessions, training and support helplines will be provided by charity Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity which provides vital support for those working within the sector.
The facility, which has been constructed by contractor J Murphy & Sons Limited, is already providing vital services to hundreds of employees working around the clock at the company’s IFA interconnector.
Together with Considerate Constructors Scheme, National Grid has established a Health in Construction Consortium and will be sharing findings from this project across the industry to demonstrate the difference this kind of support can make to workers.
Managing Director of Interconnectors for National Grid, Nicola Medalova, said: “This is an issue that all of us in the construction sector have a responsibility to address. The research shows that something has to change. That’s why we’re looking for representatives from across the sector including small to medium-sized enterprise, large businesses, contractors, and clients, who are passionate about mental health, to be part of the solution. We understand that collaboration and coordination across key stakeholders in the industry will be critical to tackling the mental health crisis in construction. So, whether you are getting started, in development, or leading the way on mental health issues within the sector, we call for your support and ask for you to join us in being an agent for change.”
Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive Amanda Long said: “As an industry, the workforce is at a higher-than-average risk of poor mental health and suicide and we must take action. It is vital that we work together with the construction sector to give all employees access to the support and facilities they need to look after their mental health and wellbeing.”
Chief Executive of Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity Bill Hill said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with National Grid on this significant issue within our industry. It is so important that we get the message of support to the 'boots on the ground' that we are there for them 24/7. If our workforce don’t know we are there for them we simply can’t help them in crisis. We are delighted to support National Grid’s Wellbeing Hub and I am convinced that this initiative will have a positive impact on workforce wellbeing and ultimately save lives.”
National Grid is working with WMG at the University of Warwick to research the experiences of construction workers using the Health Hub, and the benefits these additional services will have on employee mental wellbeing. The project is being led by Dr Carla Toro, Associate Professor in Digital Healthcare Sciences at WMG.
The research will help the business understand and make recommendations to the sector on the challenges that the construction workforce experience, and the kinds of wellbeing initiatives that could have a positive impact on quality of life and mental health.
Organisations interested in joining the Health in Construction Consortium should contact Alisha Baig by emailing email@example.com
*Source of Research: 2019 CIOB (The Chartered Institute of Building) Research & Survey: Understanding Mental Health in the Built Environment.
Research led by Dr Mark Elliott, Associate Professor at the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, has been featured in the House of Lords National Plan for Sport and Recreation Report.
The report considers the effectiveness of current sport and recreation policies and initiatives, and the case for a national plan for sport and recreation.
Dr Elliott’s research has investigated the effectiveness of the use of incentives and rewards for exercise, using a rewards-for-exercise app called Sweatcoin. The contribution to the House of Lords report was based on the findings that people increased their daily step count by an average of nearly 20% when using the incentives platform.
Dr Mark Elliott, comments: “Our findings highlighted how digital platforms that incentivise physical activity through tracking step count recorded on smartphones can have a positive impact on people’s exercise behaviours. We were pleased to be able to contribute our findings as evidence to the House of Lords National Plan for Sport and Recreation Report.”
Read the report in full here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld5802/ldselect/ldsportrec/113/113.pdf
· During the COVID-19 March-June 2020 lockdown in the UK everyone was encouraged to stay at home and only leave the house once a day to exercise
· A study of UK residents has found that groups including those who are BAME, obese and/or city dwellers reported a greater reduction in physical activity during the lockdown than other groups
· The research highlights the need for targeted interventions to ensure that physical and mental health impacts of sedentary behaviour are not exacerbated over the long-term by significant reductions in physical activity identified in groups who are more vulnerable to COVID-19
A study of UK resident’s exercise patterns during the COVID-19 lockdown in March-June 2020, has found that groups that were most at risk to the adverse effects of COVID-19 were impacted the most in terms of reducing their levels of exercise. Researchers led by WMG, University of Warwick say targeted interventions are required to ensure physical and mental health impacts of sedentary behaviour do not exacerbate the risks to these groups.
When the first UK lockdown was announced in March 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all UK residents were permitted to leaving the house to exercise once a day. Researchers from WMG, University of Warwick decided to investigate which population groups had reduced or increased physical activity levels during the lockdown.
In the paper, 'Stay at Home and Stay Active? The impact of the stay-at-home restrictions on physical activity routines in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic' , published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, researchers led by WMG, University of Warwick have found that in some of the most at-risk groups their level of physical activity was substantially decreased.
Researchers surveyed UK residents through a rewards-for-exercise app called Sweatcoin, and an online panel. The Sweatcoin app users provided data of their daily step count prior to and during the March-June 2020 lockdown.
Researcher’s key findings show that there was a particular reduction in physical activity in those classed as obese, gym users, and people living in urban areas. All groups had a decreased step count during the restrictions, however this was particularly prominent in BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) groups and urban dwellers.
“Our study wanted to determine which groups had managed to exercise more during the 2020 lockdown and which had struggled to maintain their usual exercise routines. It became clear that people living in rural areas were more likely to have increased levels of physical activity, compared to city dwellers. However, groups that were particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, such as BAME and obese, had significantly reduced their physical activity during the lockdown compared to before the restrictions were put in place.
“The long duration of the lockdowns can mean it is difficult for people to return to their old routines, and therefore, there should be targeted interventions to ensure that the already significant issue of sedentary behaviour doesn’t become exacerbated by the effects of the pandemic.”
Digital Health Journal, co-founded by WMG Professor Theo Arvanitis and Professor John Powell from the University of Oxford in 2015, has been hailed as a great success after achieving its first Impact Factor.
Impact Factors are used as an indication of the success of a journal within their domain. Digital Heath has achieved an impressive first Impact Factor of 3.495, placing the publication in both Q1 and Q2 across subjects in Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI).
The journal focuses on healthcare in the digital world, bridging the evolution of advances in informatics and technology in medicine, health and all aspects of health care. The editors have built up a worldwide network of collaborators, which now has at its core a transatlantic editorial team and extends to reviewers from across the globe.
Professor of Digital Health Innovation at WMG, Professor Theo Arvanitis, explains: The future of digital health is exciting and important, as digital health technology can be the catalyst for changing the way we deliver health and care provision. In particular, in the ever-growing digital capability of our society, digital health technologies can effectively support disease management through the power of data and information.”
The editorial team consisting of Professor Arvanitis, Thierry Moulin, Jennifer Dobson and, John Hixson, in their recent editorial at the journal, added: “We aim to move forward as a journal by continuing to publish high-quality articles by a diverse range of authors from around the world, and we particularly welcome submissions from authors in developing countries. We hope to be at the forefront of discoveries in digital health, encouraging researchers to innovate and ensure the openness and scientific integrity of their research.
“We also wish to collaborate with academic societies in our field to increase the open access and visibility of the journal’s reported scientific outputs and, hence, improve communication within the broader field of digital health.”
“We would like to thank our team of peer reviewers and associate editors for their investment in the success of the journal: Their work has been, and will continue to be, integral to our growth.”
Find out more about WMG’s Digital Health Care research and education provision here: WMG :: Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH) (warwick.ac.uk)
Dr Elliott was awarded funding through the UKRI Innovation Scholars Secondment: Biomedical Science scheme which aims to intensify knowledge exchange between industry and academia.
Dr Elliott explained: “I’m looking forward to working closely with the team at EQL. My previous research has always been on the academic side so this will give me a real insight into a fast-growing health-tech company and how they operate.
“The aim of the secondment is to support EQL in evaluating and validating their platforms using rigorous research methods, whilst also gaining knowledge of the state-of-the-art technologies that EQL use to support people with their musculoskeletal health; it’s a really exciting opportunity.”
Dr Elliott is based at the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick with his core research focusing on human movement analytics, using signal processing and data science approaches to monitor, measure and model movement in a range of different contexts. He is particularly interested in the self-management of physiotherapy, highlighting it as one of the big challenges in healthcare at the moment.
His role on the secondment is to undertake research into how digital applications of technology can support people to self-manage their musculoskeletal health. The focus will be on implementing remote management and digital health platforms that could incorporate a number of technologies such as chat bots. He will initially work in the R&D team to investigate methods to collect clinical information through smartphone applications as well as exploring other novel uses of consumer grade technology.
He added: “On the research side it’s really useful to understand how people can use digital platforms — how they engage with them and for how long, whether they find it useful and whether it improves the long-term outcomes of patients.”
Find out more about at the Institute of Digital Healthcare here.
WMG’s Associate Professor, Dr Mark Elliott, has been accepted as a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).
Fellows require senior professional standing based on demonstrable achievement and competence in the development or application of mathematics.
Dr Elliott explains: "Mathematics has underpinned all the disciplines I have worked in during my research career, covering engineering, experimental psychology and most recently, digital health. So, it is great to join this important institution as a Fellow."
Dr Elliott is based in WMG’s Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH), with his core research focusing on human movement analytics. His research uses data science approaches to monitor, measure and model movement in a range of different contexts. His current research focusses on developing movement related technologies and data analysis methods in the areas of osteoarthritis, physiotherapy and physical activity.
Read more about Dr Elliott’s research here: WMG :: Our People :: Profile (warwick.ac.uk)
- Brain tumours are the most common solid tumours in childhood and the largest cause of death from cancer in this age group
- Being able to classify a brain tumour’s type, without the use of biopsy, is hard to do; however diffusion weighted imaging, an advanced imaging technique, when combined with machine learning, can help a UK-based multi-centre study, including WMG, University of Warwick has found.
- Being able to characterise the tumour(s) faster and more accurately means they can be treated more efficiently
Diffusion weighted imaging and machine learning can successfully classify the diagnosis and characteristics of common types of paediatric brain tumours a UK-based multi-centre study, including WMG at the University of Warwick has found. This means that the tumour can be characterised and treated more efficiently.
The largest cause of death from cancer in children are brain tumours in a particular part of the brain, called the posterior fossa. However, within this area, there are three main types of brain tumour, and being able to characterise them quickly and efficiently can be challenging.
Currently a qualitative assessment of MRI by radiologists is used, however overlapping radiological characteristics can make it difficult to distinguish which type of tumour it is, without the confirmation of biopsy. In the paper, ‘Classification of paediatric brain tumours by diffusion weighted imaging and machine learning’, published in the journal Scientific reports, led by the University of Birmingham including researchers from WMG, University of Warwick. The study found that tumour diagnostic classification can be improved by using non-invasive diffusion weighted imaging, when combined with machine learning (AI).
Diffusion weighted imaging involves the use of specific advanced MRI sequences, as well as software that generates images from the resulting data that uses the diffusion of water molecules to generate contrast in MR image. One can then extract an Apparent Diffusion Coefficient (ADC) map, analysed values of which can be used to tell you more about the tumour.
The study involved 117 patients from five primary treatment centres across the UK with scans from twelve different hospitals on a total of eighteen different scanners, the images from them were then analysed and region of interests were drawn by both an experienced radiologist and an expert scientist in paediatric neuroimaging. Values from the analysis of Apparent Diffusion Coeffcient maps from these images’ regions have been fed to AI algorithms to successfully discriminate the three most common types of paediatric posterior fossa brain tumours, non-invasively.
Professor Theo Arvanitis, Director of the Institute of Digital Health at WMG, University of Warwick and one of the authors of the study explains:
“Using AI and advance Magnetic Resonance imaging characteristics, such as Apparent Diffusion Coefficient (ADC) values from diffusion weighted images, can potentially help distinguish, in a non-invasive way, between the main three different types of paediatric tumours in the posterior fossa, the area of the brain where such tumours are most commonly found in children.
“If this advanced imaging technique, combined with AI technology, can be routinely enrolled into hospitals it means that childhood brain tumours can be characterised and classified more efficiently, and in turn means that treatments can be pursued in a quicker manner with favourable outcomes for children suffering from the disease.”
Professor Andrew Peet, NIHR Professor in Clinical Paediatric Oncology at the University of Birmingham and Birmingham Children’s Hospital adds:
“When a child comes to hospital with symptoms that could mean they have a brain tumour that initial scan is such a difficult time for the family and understandably they want answers as soon as possible. Here we have combined readily available scans with artificial intelligence to provide high levels of diagnostic accuracy that can start to give some answers. Previous studies using these techniques have largely been limited to single expert centres. Showing that they can work across such a large number of hospitals opens the door to many children benefitting from rapid non-invasive diagnosis of their brain tumour. These are very exciting times and we are working hard now to start making these artificial intelligence techniques widely available.”
15 FEBRUARY 2021
NOTES TO EDITORS
High-res images available at:
Caption: Professor Theo Arvanitis, from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick
Paper available to view at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-82214-3
Paper DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-82214-3
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When patients are discharged from hospital those with diabetes are at an increased risk of readmission and mortality, there are guidelines for discharging patients with diabetes to reduce these risks, however researchers from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick and Warwick Medical School have identified known risk factors for mortality in adult patients discharged from hospital with diabetes.
In the paper, ‘A Systematic Review Considering Risk factors for Mortality of Patients Discharged from Hospital with a Diagnosis of Diabetes’, published in the Journal of Diabetes and its Complications, researchers identified 35 studies that considered the risk factors relating to mortality for patients discharged from hospital with diabetes, they analysed these studies and identified 48 significant risk factors for mortality.
The 48 risk factors are grouped into the following nine categories:
· Patient medical factors
· Inpatient stay factors
· Medication related
· Laboratory results
· Glycaemic status
Professor Theo Arvanitis, from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“The most common risk factor is in the demographic category of age and the second most important factor is co-morbidity burden; this comes under the patient medical factors category, and means patients have more than one condition. We also identified BMI as a significant risk within the patient medical factors category, with those who were at the heavier end of the scales to be more at risk.
“Thirty-seven of the risk factors we identified from one research paper. This tell us that this research in general is still very early, and more studies are needed to identify the importance and possibly any other risk factors. This could decrease the mortality rate of diabetics discharged from hospitals in the future.”
2 SEPTEMBER 2020
NOTES TO EDITORS
High-res images available at:
Caption: Professor Theo Arvanitis, from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick
Paper available to view: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2020.107705
The early pandemic paradox: fewer deaths in the first 4 months of 2020 compared to the previous 5 years
- Scientists at the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG and Warwick Medical School, at the University of Warwick, have analysed mortality statistics in the UK during the initial phases of the severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, by analysing the weekly national mortality statistics over the last five years including the subgroup of respiratory mortality rates
An analysis of national weekly mortality rates between December 2019 – March 2020, compared to the same period for the previous five years, by researchers at WMG and WMS, University of Warwick, has shown that there have been fewer deaths registered this year during the lead up to the Covid-19 pandemic. Researchers have called this the SARS-CoV-2 Paradox - which could be due to early social distancing measures.
Researchers from the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG and Warwick Medical School, at the University of Warwick, have analysed the mortality statistics in the United Kingdom during the initial phases of the severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic to understand the impact of the pandemic on national mortality figures.
They did this by carrying out a retrospective review of weekly national mortality statistics in the United Kingdom over the previous 5 years, including subgroup assessment of respiratory mortality rates, from the end of November until the end of March.
The analysis found that during the first months of 2020, when the early phases of the severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic was apparent in the UK, there were consistently fewer deaths each week compared with the previous five years.
However, such a pattern has not been seen in the previous five years of data, researchers coined this the SARS-CoV-2 Paradox, and propose the reason why the death rate was lower during the early stages of the pandemic in comparison to previous years could be due to social distancing, as whilst the government enforced social distancing in the middle of March, some had already engaged with this, especially higher risk groups/elderly, leading to a reduction in the mixing of those with infectious diseases including, but not exclusive of, SARS-CoV-2.
It could also be due to the emphasised importance of washing hands, staying home when you feel unwell and coughing or sneezing into a tissue, this is likely to reduce the number of cases of other infectious disease and, also, slow the spread of various infectious diseases. Finally, iatrogenic mortality may be reduced, as hospital admission numbers have reduced; and there may thus be a reduction in the spread of hospital-acquired infections, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Similarly, reductions in elective surgery (in order to prepare intensive care and hospital bed capacity) may result in fewer iatrogenic deaths.
The graph shows week 12, the 20th March there was an increase in deaths, with 2020 deaths being 10,645, and previous 5 year mean to be 10,573, this could be related to covid-19, as symptoms such as headaches and loss of taste weren’t identified, however it could also be attributed to closed GPs, an overwhelmed A&E and ITUs being increasingly selective about which patients to take as lockdown was formally announced that week.
Professor Theo Arvanitis, from the Institute of Digital Healthcare at WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“Each year, infectious diseases make a significant contribution towards avoidable deaths in England and Wales. People with multi-morbidities are at particular risk, and this is a key area of research for the Institute of Digital Healthcare. Social distancing measures are likely to impact the spread of all infectious diseases, despite their target being a reduction in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus. This lack of disease spread could be causing a reduction in death rate. Another factor could be concerns around the virus, which could mean people are making more conscious health decisions in terms of eating, exercise, reducing smoking and resting, when they feel unwell, or seeking advice from 111 about their symptoms.
“It is important to note that whilst we have seen a reduction in mortality in the ‘run-up’ to seeing the full extent of SARS-CoV-2 that this may also have negative future consequences. It is possible that we may see a significant rebound if this mortality has simply been delayed rather than avoided in its entirety. If a rebound affect is seen, this may coincide with the peak demand for SARS-CoV-2 medical beds, creating an even greater healthcare need.
“Overall, this stresses the need for careful ongoing observation and exploration of these mortality trends. This assessment must take account not just of the SARS-CoV-2 peak, but also the time period prior to, and following the pandemic.”
22 June 2020
NOTES TO EDITORS
High-res images available at:
Caption: Professor Theo Arvanitis, Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG, University of Warwick
Caption: Deaths rates in England and Wales: comparing deaths between December 2019 and March 2020 to death rates over the same period in the previous 5 years.
Caption: Possible mechanisms for reducing all-cause mortality.
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Researchers, from WMG’s Institute of Digital Healthcare (IDH), believe that remote consulting practices should be adopted widely during the COVID-19 pandemic to help low and middle income countries to help combat the virus, and to provide quality healthcare to patients in the long-term.
By implementing remote consulting practices - such as by mobile phone or mobile app - to maintain services during the COVID-19 pandemic, health services in countries in Africa and South Asia could provide communities permanent access to healthcare that they previously struggled to access.
Researchers, at the University of Warwick and King’s College London, have developed and implemented a training course with St Francis University College in Tanzania designed to equip nurses, doctors and medical officers in leadership roles with the knowledge and skills to integrate remote consulting into practice in their local service. It is based on research recently published in the journal Digital Health that provides a framework for healthcare leaders to consider how to implement it in their own services. The training takes the form of a short course using blended learning through an app on a smartphone and facilitated through social media. These healthcare leaders cascade the learning to other health workers in their service.
Professor Theodoros N. Arvanitis, Director of the Institute of Digital Healthcare, WMG at the University of Warwick and one of the co-authors, commented: “Digitally-enabled approaches to remote consultation provide the way forward in the new reality we are living. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we will receive health care in the future, manage our health and wellbeing and go about our daily lives. Remote consultation and digital health solutions provide multiple benefits to individuals and society. Through such approaches, now and in the future, people’s health journeys are better understood and appropriate lifestyle choices can be better tailored and promoted to the individual.”
Using mobile technology to see patients is part of the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 response strategy, but detail there is limited. The researchers have put together a policy brief written in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to raise awareness of remote consulting and encouraging healthcare leaders in low to middle income countries to undertake the training and disseminate the knowledge within their local health service.
Professor Frances Griffiths from Warwick Medical School, and lead author of the paper, said: “Moving healthcare workers in low to middle income countries to remote consulting is something that we think is really important to consider.
“In the context of COVID-19, the benefits of remote consulting are suddenly much greater. It protects the health worker and minimises physical contact with patients. It minimises the risk to patients. As a result, it also reduces the need for PPE.
“For communities with little healthcare, this is a better way of providing good quality healthcare for them. For people who live anywhere who have a long term condition, it is so much more convenient for them if we can do as much as possible remotely.
“I think it will embraced more widely and I think it should be. What COVID-19 has done is made people realise that they can do it differently. The experience of COVID-19 in the UK is ahead of Africa and South Asia, but if we can get remote consulting off the ground there because of the pandemic then the benefits will be seen afterwards. Particularly for long-term conditions and marginalised communities, although there can be benefits for acute illnesses as well.”
Read ‘Mobile consulting (mConsulting) and its potential for providing access to quality healthcare for populations living in low-resource settings of low- and middle-income countries’ published in Digital Health, here: 10.1177/2055207620919594