You are here
The team go to the UKHSA 2023 conference
15 November, 2023
The UK Health Security Agency Conference is being held during 15-16 October 2024, where we are showcasing research conducted by the Health Protection Research Unit in Emergency Preparedness and Response. Explore a summary of our presented research here.
Comparison of UK surveillance systems for monitoring COVID-19: lessons for disease surveillance
Compare the utility of different surveillance systems for monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic in England.
- Pillar 1 and 2 case counts, ZoeApp, and syndromic attendances to emergency departments were all fairly accurate and timely epidemic trackers.
- Time leads or lags (-14 to +14 days) did not markedly improve correlations between epidemic trackers and the ONSCISE.
- NHS 111 calls or website use and Google trends search ranks for ‘covid’ or ‘coronavirus’ probably indicated health information seeking rather than case count change.
- Future pandemics could be monitored through a unified dashboard combining timely data systems with representative, albeit less timely, ONS-like data.
This research was led by Julii Brainard, you can read more about it in the Lancet Public Health COVID-19 surveillance in England: lessons for the next pandemic.
Online Support Groups for Adults with Long Covid
How do online support groups impact the health and wellbeing of adults with Long Covid?
- Positive impacts included being understood and validated, a sense of purpose, belonging and empowerment, new skills and opportunities, and improvement in symptoms.
- Negative impacts included reduced wellbeing and energy, and increased fear.
- Shared identity, group type, and individual characteristics influenced the impact on health and wellbeing.
- The study supports the 'social cure' approach, as many group members connected with one another through their shared experiences and values related to managing Long Covid, extending beyond this shared experience to encompass their broader identities.
- Online support groups can be a valuable resource for adults with Long Covid, but it is important to be aware of potential negative impacts and choose groups that align with individual identities.
Maintaining a resilient workforce: Establishing barriers and facilitators to working from home during COVID-19 for UK Government response staff
What is the impact of stressful and high job demands paired with the impact of homeworking during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- A complex relationship between mental health, productivity, and homeworking, with many different barriers and facilitators.
- Common facilitators: good equipment, more time with family, no ‘lost time’ to commuting.
- Common barriers: poor equipment, lack of social interaction, blurred boundaries.
- A ‘one size fits all’ approach to supporting staff to homeworking is not fit for purpose.
- Ensuring flexibility and considering individual needs and preferences and contextual factors should be a key take-home message for organisations, employers, and managers of those responding to enhanced incidents from their own homes.
Don’t call us ‘vulnerable’: attitudes towards terminology and interventions for reducing health inequalities
Do our current approaches to achieving health equity in emergency preparedness and response work?
- People commonly perceived as ‘vulnerable’ don't describe themselves as ‘vulnerable’. Rates of self-describing as ‘vulnerable’ range from 22% (people who use false teeth) to 61% (for people facing significant difficulty running errands alone, e.g. visiting a pharmacy or shopping).
- Most people considered 'vulnerable' aren’t on any ‘vulnerability list’. Registration on any Priority Services Register (PSR) ranged from 11% (pregnant responders) to 36% (respondents describing difficulty dressing, bathing, or using the toilet independently).
- Low rates of self-description as ‘vulnerable’ or PSR registration weren't explained by personal backup plans or resources (we found the opposite).
Implications for health equity and reducing health inequalities
- Avoid the term ‘vulnerable’.
- Accommodate all needs as part of mainstream health policies, not in separate or segregated responses.
Read the poster here: https://osf.io/wd6n8/
Symptom reporting, health care seeking, and perceived COVID-19 infection: comparing responses from a series of cross- sectional surveys with responses from less biased data sources
To investigate bias and error in cross-sectional survey responses (CORSAIR) by comparing rates of symptom reporting, health care seeking, and perceived infection with data from less biased sources (REACT and syndromic surveillance).
- On average, symptom reporting was 5% higher in CORSAIR than REACT. This difference was quite consistent but was even higher during Omicron.
- For previous perceived COVID-19 infection, CORSAIR and REACT data followed a similar pattern, with gradual increases in people reporting that they had test-confirmed COVID-19, and a sharper increase in November 2021.
- On average, 5% more people reported testing positive for COVID-19 in CORSAIR data than REACT data. This difference was consistent but was higher during Omicron.
- As syndromic surveillance data is produced daily and gives counts of actual health care usage, these data will be more useful in pandemic planning than survey data.
- Market research style surveys may give a good insight into symptom experience and receiving a positive COVID-19 test.
This research was led by Louise Smith, you can read more about the CORSAIR study at the OSF project: The COVID-19 Rapid Survey of Adherence to Interventions and Responses [CORSAIR] study.
The impact of self-isolation on psychological wellbeing and how to reduce it: a systematic review and narrative synthesis
What was the impact of self-isolation on psychological wellbeing and how can we reduce it?
- Self-isolation was found to impact psychological wellbeing.
- Modifiable factors that associated with wellbeing during self-isolation were identified.
- Public health officials should make it a priority to support vulnerable individuals when implementing self-isolation directives in the future.
- Clinicians and healthcare workers can play a key role in identifying and supporting those most at risk.
- Interventions should focus on addressing loneliness, worries, and misinformation, and monitoring and identifying individuals who need additional support.
Protecting the psychological health of employees and their families in overseas postings during a pandemic
What are the best ways of supporting overseas staff and their families during a prolonged crisis such as a global pandemic?
- The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the stressors faced by relocated employees, who were already coping with the challenges of being away from home, adjusting to new cultures, and facing language barriers. In high-threat posts, many were also exposed to trauma.
- They reported feeling stress, depressive symptoms, fear, loneliness, anxiety, exhaustion, and stress-induced physical pain.
- Travel restrictions were particularly stressful, and staff struggled with increased workloads.
- Organisational and informal support were valuable, but barriers to help seeking were identified.
Organisations with employees who frequently relocate should provide comprehensive support that includes relocation assistance, training for line managers, work-life balance, mental health inclusion and support networks, and family support.