Thursday, 31 July 2014

Holidays!

Is it holidays yet? Oh thank goodness.

The blog has spent the last few weeks hanging on to every scrap of work-related motivation it can find for dear life. It seems like everyone apart from the blog is on holiday. Facebook is full of holiday snaps. Twitter is packed with advice from Public Health England on how to cope with hot weather. But the blog has been diligently heading into work every day, ploughing through the to-do list, keeping the in-box under control.

But now it's holiday time!

The blog has a couple of friends who've rented a flat near Chamonix for the summer and the blog's off to join them for a month of rock, glaciers, ropes, crampons, snow in summer, and painstaking deciphering of French weather forecasts.

See you in September.

Photo by Matthieu Lienart

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

52 weeks in public health research: part 30

Posted by Amelia LakeMartin White and Jean Adams

From Amelia Lake: My messy desk as I try to analyse data from our NIHR food environment project. Some tidying required!

From Martin White: I recently stayed at the Royal College of General Practitioners where the NIHR Public Health Research Funding Board held its June meeting. It has rather swanky hotel accommodation with well appointed meeting rooms, but what I liked most was the sympathetic architectural treatment, bringing together old and new, with light and airy atria and retention of period details. So much nicer than a drab hotel chain - indeed positively uplifting. I wonder if it affected our decisions? Now there's a study that needs doing...

From Martin White: The most recent Fuse Quarterly Research Meeting was held at the National Glass Centre, which is now owned and managed by Sunderland University. Offering a range of exhibits on the history of glass and examples of glass as art, the centre also boasts some excellent meeting rooms and a huge and airy café/restaurant - with glass on three sides (yes, more great architecture). This photo shows an exhibit in a show case on a galleried walkaway above the café. Outside the huge windows the river Wear is reflected in a curved mirror backdrop. I think we'll be using this venue again...

From Jean Adams: Arty shot of my academic gown and hood. There are a few tasks that academics are required to do that took my a little by surprise. One was that we 'must' take part in the academic processions that occur at all graduation ceremonies. There are about 20 academics at each ceremony, so if everyone is nice and takes their turn, each person only has to do this once every couple of years. The first few times I was bored. This year I attended one of the MBBS congregations. A few of my tutees and other students who have worked with me were graduating. Sir Paul Nurse was awarded an honorary doctorate and gave a great acceptance speech. His advice to the new graduates: don't loose your curiosity, your passion, or your sense of humour. The university's chancellor, Sir Liam Donaldson, spoke about the advances in medicine (nicely expressed in epidemiological terms), he has seen in his career and encouraged the graduates to go forth and advance the field some more. It turned out to be an uplifting 90 minutes away from my desk to reflect on why we do science, medicine, and teaching and how to keep doing it well.

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Just to remind you:

Each Thursday of 2014 we’ll try and post around four pictures on the Fuse blog that capture our weeks in public health research, from the awe-inspiring to the everyday and mundane. Given that more of the latter than the former exists in my life, I foresee problems compiling 208 images worth posting on my own. So this is going to have to be a group project. Send me an image (or images) with a sentence or two describing what aspect of your week in public health research they sum up and I’ll post them as soon as I can. You don’t have to send four together – we can mix and match images from different people in the same week.

Normal rules apply: images you made yourself are best; if you use someone else’s image please check you’re allowed to first; if anyone’s identifiable in an image, make sure they’re happy for it to be posted; nothing rude; nothing that breaks research confidentiality etc.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

52 weeks in public health research: part 29

Posted by Jemma HawkinsJenni Remnant, Shelina Visram and Emily Henderson

From Jemma Hawkins (photo credit: Natalie Richards): When compiling the promotional material for a seminar we are organising on 'Tackling Workplace Sedentary Behaviour' we decided that it would be better to create our own image rather than using a stock one. One quick tidy of a colleague's stand-up desk, another colleague's smartphone and me as 'model' donning the famous DECIPHer t-shirt and hey presto!

From Jenni Remnant: Sat down to eat at a Knowledge Exchange conference last week run by the LSE and this was on the table.

From Shelina Visram: This picture was taken in County Durham after a meeting to discuss a pilot project on supporting lifestyle changes amongst people newly diagnosed with a chronic condition. I recently ran some focus groups in the community centre across the road, which required several telephone conversations with a local caterer about what I meant by a ‘healthy buffet lunch’. Thankfully their salad did not contain lard.

From Emily Henderson: It *might* have been said once or twice in the history books that academics are *sometimes* overworked and underpaid, but there are definite benefits. In June I had the pleasure of attending the EvaluatingComplex Public Health Interventions short course at DECIPHer. We were off the leash in the evenings, and I got very lucky with the weather! An evening picnic in Sofia Gardens along the river Taff, Cardiff, Wales. With the latest addition of 'The Lady' mag, white wine and cheeses.

------------------
Just to remind you:

Each Thursday of 2014 we’ll try and post around four pictures on the Fuse blog that capture our weeks in public health research, from the awe-inspiring to the everyday and mundane. Given that more of the latter than the former exists in my life, I foresee problems compiling 208 images worth posting on my own. So this is going to have to be a group project. Send me an image (or images) with a sentence or two describing what aspect of your week in public health research they sum up and I’ll post them as soon as I can. You don’t have to send four together – we can mix and match images from different people in the same week.

Normal rules apply: images you made yourself are best; if you use someone else’s image please check you’re allowed to first; if anyone’s identifiable in an image, make sure they’re happy for it to be posted; nothing rude; nothing that breaks research confidentiality etc.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Knowledge exchange

Posted by Jenni Remnant

Last week I went to a residential in Birmingham run by the London School of Economics. The theme for discussion and workshops was ‘Knowledge Exchange (KE) and Impact’, and had a focus based in social care and social work.

In terms of public health, impact is arguably a necessity and not something to tap on a grant proposal as an add-on. I would suggest that there is no point to public health research if the health of the public is not impacted upon (positively).

So as part of this residential we discussed stakeholder focus groups, partner organisations and dissemination. We discussed REF, academic and policy impact.


We discussed all the snazzy ways to tart up our findings and pitch them to people in an accessible way. These included videos, infographics, twitter and blogs amongst other things. We also learnt how to engage with journalists and the press.


And then on the last day, we learnt about the #JusticeForLB campaign – an incredible shout of anger that grew and was cultivated through Twitter. The campaign, started by the Mother of a young dude called Connor Sparrowhawk, has gained amazing momentum – and for me, personally, is many of the things KE and impact should be.

For a start – it was born from a real issue, as identified by people involved in the real issue.

Connor Sparrowhawk was in a specialist unit called Slade House, an NHS assessment and treatment unit in Oxfordshire. He had autism and epilepsy. Connor was in the unit for 107 days before he died by drowning in one of the baths. The cause of death was initially recorded as ‘natural causes’.

Secondly – the real issue was focused within and around the people it directly affected, and may directly affect in the future. The academics that did become involved in this became involved because it was clear something needed to change, and they cared.

Thirdly – it had, and has, impact: immediate tangible impact; demand from the Sparrowhawk family and support from the campaign meant that the death was subsequently found to be preventable, the unit has been closed down and there has been an inquest.

Finally – this campaign reached out; there were blogs, activities, sponsorships and endless tweeting.

Totally amazing and inspiring.

This might seem really far removed from what we do as researchers, but there is a pattern there that is not so different from what we do;

1) Identify an issue that needs further scrutiny
2) Scrutinise it.
3) Work out what it means, or what the implications are, and then
4) Work out recommendations to go forward with

The reason the #JusticeForLB campaign did such a spectacular job in doing this is in part, I think, due to the lack of any academic-type goals and limitations placed around it. REF was unimportant; impact ratings, finding a niche and career progression were not foregrounded. There was no traditional model to adhere to.

I’m aware that this story has a strong narrative, with irrefutable social justice at the heart of it that may capture interest in a way that some public health doesn’t – but it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) hurt to occasionally think outside the box with research. Even if that box is in another box.

It would be cool to see more research instigated by, committed to and partnered with the people affected by whatever the issue it is. It seems a bit counterproductive to take an issue, decontextualize it through research, and then struggle to communicate the findings back to the ‘stakeholders’ at a later date. Especially if we are then going to lament how people haven’t enacted the lifestyle/policy/ [insert other] change advised in the research.

As useless as ever, I don’t really know how to implement changes that involve remodelling the academic research model – but the residential was definitely an excellent place to broaden the horizon.

I do hope to organise an unconference in the not so distant future though, as a start…so watch this space I guess!


Definitely check #JusticeForLB out on twitter if you get the chance, and spend just over 4 minutes looking at their animation – gifted by an illustrator as part of the campaign – it’s exquisite.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

52 weeks in public health research, part 28


From Catt Turney: I've been thinking a lot recently about the role of place, space and environment in public health, and thought this smoking area at Paddington station was a nice example of a very simple space-related intervention. It's effectively a little cage around some chairs - the sign reads 'Smoking is only permitted in the area designated by barriers around this notice'. The station was busy but this area was completely deserted - a sign it's failing, or working as intended?
From Bronia Arnott: At Newcastle central train station to travel to Leeds for the UKCRC Public Health Research: Centres of Excellence Conference a couple of weeks ago to talk about developing interventions to promote active travel.

 
From Bronia Arnott: Being a parent can make you feel as if you are part of a government experiment that you never consented to at times. This week my daughter brought home this leaflet from school advertising the collaboration between Disney and Change4Life which you can read more about here. The idea is that by working together they will encourage children to increase their physical activity during the school summer holidays. As a developmental health psychologist I can't help but wonder if this intervention is being evaluated?

From Jean Adams: despite my Coke-marketing photo-obsession, my soft-drink of choice is in fact Diet Coke. So this can of Diet Pepsi was a novelty. Sometimes I wonder if people who put their name and face to junk food marketing campaigns think about the implications at all. Maybe Messi thought this was okay because it was Diet Pepsi and not the real thing (which I can understand, but might argue with). Or maybe he didn't think about it at all - it was just another photo shoot that his agent arranged for him.

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Just to remind you:

Each Thursday of 2014 we’ll try and post around four pictures on the Fuse blog that capture our weeks in public health research, from the awe-inspiring to the everyday and mundane. Given that more of the latter than the former exists in my life, I foresee problems compiling 208 images worth posting on my own. So this is going to have to be a group project. Send me an image (or images) with a sentence or two describing what aspect of your week in public health research they sum up and I’ll post them as soon as I can. You don’t have to send four together – we can mix and match images from different people in the same week.

Normal rules apply: images you made yourself are best; if you use someone else’s image please check you’re allowed to first; if anyone’s identifiable in an image, make sure they’re happy for it to be posted; nothing rude; nothing that breaks research confidentiality etc.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Fuse duck flies into the University of Northumbria

Posted by Barbara Harrington

Fuse Duck arrived at Northumbria University on 30th May for a few weeks with me, Barbara Harrington, a researcher and lecturer in public health and patient safety. He quickly settled in having a cup of tea with his new friend, Stress Penguin from Redcar. Stress Penguin was liberated from Redcar whilst doing some interviews around Healthwatch, looking at the role of the new patient and public involvement organisations in the North East.


By Tuesday 3rd June and a lot of switching between PDFs, Excel Files, SPSS and SurveyMonkey for a Delphi project, something stronger than tea was called for. Fortunately Lesley Geddes (in the background), a principal lecturer with a particular interest in health promotion, behaviour change, and social marketing for health, was on hand to provide corrective public health messages about responsible drinking.


On Wednesday, 4th June, Fuse Duck joined in the celebrations when copies of Reforming Healthcare appeared written by Profs Ian Greener, David J Hunter, Russell Mannion, Martin Powell - and me! This is a major critical overview of the research published on healthcare reform in England from 1990 onwards. As you can see, Fuse Duck is riveted, considering the implications of this research for current debates about healthcare reorganisation in England.


Also on Wednesday, Fuse Duck attended our theory discussion seminar - the highlight of the month for many research staff, PhD students and other academics months. Here, staff from different disciplines within the faculty read and discuss some of the key theoretical texts from the social sciences. The seminars are led by Mick Hill, Robbie Duschinky, and Ian Robson. So far we have looked at chapters from Foucault’s Psychiatric Power lecture series, and Bourdieu’s Misrecognition and Symbolic Violence. These are always well led and interesting, discussing theory in relation to the times they were written and how relevant they continue to be. 

In June, we discussed Goffman’s Presentation of Self – Chapter 1. As usual the discussion was wide ranging including references to Hamlet, as well as presentation of self in relation to higher education teaching and health, social work, and education practice. With Fuse Duck attending, there was also a discussion about whether he had inadvertently disrupted the expected setting and consequently the personal fronts people displayed in this seminar. It was in fact a very apt seminar for Fuse Duck to attend. Here he is Ian Watson and me getting to grips with some of the finer points of Goffman.



Thursday, 10 July 2014

52 weeks in public health research, part 27


From Catt Turney: Being in an office when the weather is glorious can be a bit grotty. Luckily, the healthy-snack opportunities posed by summer almost make up for having to be inside rather than frolicking in the sunshine.

From Catt Turney: We recently had an unofficial DECIPHer social climbing Pen y Fan, a little mountain in South Wales. This greeted us at the end - apparently, even up a mountain, you can't get away from the idea that it's only a fun day out if there's junk food or alcohol.

From Amelia Lake: my pass from my first high level steering group meeting for the food responsibility deal - watching policy in practice & the negotiations & complications of food policy.

From Bronia Arnott: I was at the Sage Gateshead with my daughter for a performance called "At the Seaside". It was aimed at young children and parents and involved singing and dancing along to seaside-related songs. I was very impressed that they even made up a song about the importance of sun protection! Hopefully the catchy, repetitive, action song meant that at least some of the children went home remembering the importance of 'slip, slop, slap, seek, slide' - slipping on a t-shirt, slopping on some suncream, slapping on a hat, seeking shade or shelter, and sliding on some sunnies! 

------------------

Just to remind you:

Each Thursday of 2014 we’ll try and post around four pictures on the Fuse blog that capture our weeks in public health research, from the awe-inspiring to the everyday and mundane. Given that more of the latter than the former exists in my life, I foresee problems compiling 208 images worth posting on my own. So this is going to have to be a group project. Send me an image (or images) with a sentence or two describing what aspect of your week in public health research they sum up and I’ll post them as soon as I can. You don’t have to send four together – we can mix and match images from different people in the same week.

Normal rules apply: images you made yourself are best; if you use someone else’s image please check you’re allowed to first; if anyone’s identifiable in an image, make sure they’re happy for it to be posted; nothing rude; nothing that breaks research confidentiality etc.