News and Events

A selection of recent news and publications:

Research shows incontinence linked to sitting too long

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University have found the first direct link between sitting too long and urinary incontinence in older women.

They are now urging women to sit less and follow simple techniques to fix bladder problems rather than reaching for incontinence pads first – these should only be used when treatment has failed and as a last resort.

Health experts from the University's Ageing Well Research Group, working in partnership with Professor Javier Jerez-Roig at the University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia, analysed data from 459 women over 60 years and with varying types of incontinence from an American healthcare database.

The women were part of a randomly selected cohort of 5,500 people chosen by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to wear a professional physical activity monitor 24-hours-a-day for five days.

Researchers used the US system to find out if urinary incontinence was linked to sedentary behaviour in older women because it accurately measures time sitting. Previously people self-reported their sitting time, relying only on memory, which is often incorrect.

Most people are unaware that there are three main bladder control disorders in women. One is urinary stress incontinence, often linked to child birth or obesity and is a problem with muscle weakness causing leakage, the second is urgency incontinence where people don't reach the toilet on time because of a problem with the system controlling the bladder, and the third is a mixture of both which is most common in older women.

Lead author of the research paper, published in the journal PLOS ONE (The Public Library of Science ONE), Professor Joanne Booth said: "We know that physical activity can help bladder problems but this is the first time we have looked at the link between sedentary behaviour and incontinence in a big cohort.


 "The US database randomly sampled over 5,500 but we only had accurate sedentary behaviour information on 459 women who were aged 60 and over".

"We found that women who had urgency incontinence sat for significantly longer periods than the women with no incontinence – about 19 per cent longer than the rest – so there is a clear link to sitting and having urgency urinary incontinence.

"Irrespective of how old you are or how heavy you are – if you sit for about a fifth longer than an average of 18 minutes you are more likely to have an overactive bladder."

"Now that we know there is a direct link with urgency incontinence and sitting too long, we need to look for additional mechanisms for dealing with it. The solution is not going to be simply telling women to do pelvic floor muscle exercises but also that moving more and reducing time spent sitting may help them, particularly with urgency incontinence.

"We know you get more urgency as you get older and it may be that if you are not as sedentary that might improve. Certainly we know that sitting for a long time isn't going to help the situation."

Health Sciences Professor Jerez-Roig spent six months at GCU working with the Ageing Well researchers after being awarded the José Castillejo Mobility Grant for young doctors, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.

His clear advice to women is to "sit less - move more" and to break up the periods of sitting into shorter bouts of less than 18 minutes.

Here is the link to the research paper -

New University status awarded to three life-changing NHS Lanarkshire units
Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has today awarded University status to three NHS Lanarkshire clinical departments in recognition of life-changing research, education and service excellence. 
The partnership between the University and NHS Lanarkshire is believed to be the first in the UK based around wider healthcare collaboration, rather than medical education alone.
This latest development sees University status presented to the health board’s departments of podiatry, psychological services and stroke care at University Hospital Monklands by GCU Principal, Professor Pamela Gillies CBE, and Chair of NHS Lanarkshire, Neena Mahal, at a prestigious awards ceremony in Glasgow.
Professor Gillies said: “The University is privileged to present University status to three of NHS Lanarkshire’s specialist clinical departments in recognition of their collaborative and innovative approach to vastly improving the health of individuals, communities and society.
"Both Glasgow Caledonian University and NHS Lanarkshire work in partnership for the Common Good in order to develop and nurture the health practitioners of tomorrow, whilst carrying out impactful research to provide practical and progressive solutions to the health challenges that our societies face.”
Neena described the new University status awards as an “exciting development in NHS Lanarkshire’s partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University and testament to the ambitious and innovative collaborative approach we have taken over the last three years”. 
She added: “I am immensely proud of the commitment and collaboration of our newly-named University departments of podiatry, psychological services and stroke care at University Hospital Monklands and congratulate everyone involved in this very well-deserved accolade.
“This now provides the perfect platform for further enhancing our excellent partnership working, which has – for example – seen the successful appointment of lecturer practitioners who both teach at the University and work within our clinical departments. This is making a real difference for the health professionals and clinical practice of the future, which ultimately, will allow us to continue to innovate and improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Lanarkshire.“ 
In 2017, groundbreaking partnerships were struck between NHS Lanarkshire, GCU and the University of the West of Scotland. All three of the region’s hospitals – Hairmyres, Monklands and Wishaw – were given University status and renamed.
The landmark strategic relationship is aimed at achieving excellence in clinical services for the common good, working collaboratively to transform lives by delivering proven, innovative health and social care, enriching communities and innovating for health, social and economic impact. 
It means NHS Lanarkshire has access to world-leading scientists at GCU’s School of Health and Life Sciences, which is among the top 20 universities in the UK for health research in stroke, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, HIV, sexual health, drug use and misuse. 
Dean of GCU’s School of Health and Life Sciences, Professor Andrea Nelson, said the latest round of University status given to the three NHS Lanarkshire departments recognises the “very strong and established” research and education links with GCU. 
She added: “Universities work with partners in the NHS across the west of Scotland, not only to develop the health professionals of the future but to deliver the knowledge they will use to guide better care and preventive interventions. 
“We are delighted that the already strong collaboration with one of our key stakeholders, NHS Lanarkshire, can be recognised in these particular areas of strength and highlights the fact that these units, not only deliver excellence in service, but also in research and education for our future health professionals.”
First Minister announces new top role for GCU researcher

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has chosen Glasgow Caledonian University School of Health and Life Sciences researcher Dr Ima Jackson to jointly lead her flagship National Advisory Council for Women and Girls.

The announcement was made at the First Minister's National Advisory Council on Women and Girls (NACWG) – Celebratory Circle Event at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on Wednesday, January 29.

The NACWG was set up to champion gender equality and suggest where more action is needed to tackle persistent inequality, support women in work, end violence against women and girls and challenge gender stereotypes.

Dr Jackson was asked to co-chair the NACWG with Louise Macdonald OBE, Chief Executive of Young Scot, because of her unique participatory approach to community engagement within research here at GCU.

The First Minister wants her to "lead on the core work developing the intersectionality recommendations and policy processes for the Advisory Council, with a new participatory model of her [sic] design".

Last month Dr Jackson accepted another offer from the Scottish Government to lead on the development of a new 'National Research What Works Institute' to evidence the processes for systemic change in the public attitudes to girls' and women's rights.

Dr Jackson said: "I am delighted to have been asked by the First Minister to be involved at such a high level through working for the Advisory Council and to lead in developing a new national research institute for the Scottish Government.

"The reason the Scottish Government approached me for both roles was to bring in the participatory model and my intersectional expertise developed through my research and academic work.

"Migration forces change and working with communities of colour and migrants in Scotland has required the development of new ways of working within the Academy. This learning, developed within migration research is now to be applied within the gender framework in order to help create the mechanisms and approaches to bring about systematic change there.

"It feels good to get this level of recognition for the work I have been doing at GCU related to community engagement and its place within the Academy."

Best foot forward for new Honorary Professor

​Professor Jim Woodburn, GCU Assistant Vice Principal, Research Excellence, is delighted to announce the appointment of leading orthopaedic surgeon Ros Miller as Honorary Professor at GCU.

Professor Miller is the Consultant Foot and Ankle Surgeon at GCU's partner health board NHS Lanarkshire and heads the Foot and Ankle Service in NHS Lanarkshire University Hospitals Trust. She is a leading authority on minimally invasive surgeries and complex diabetic foot reconstruction.

In a joint statement, the professors explained how the partnership and Ros's new role is enhancing patient health: "Over the last 12 months we have quickly established a niche and highly productive clinical-academic ecosystem with the ultimate aim to continually improve patient and health and well-being.

"We are mobilising staff across both organisations, opening clinical and research facilities to co-produce and find collaborative ways of working and thinking deeply about the opportunities for education and continued professional development."

Professor Woodburn said it was "exciting to receive NHS Lanarkshire patients in our Human Performance Laboratory".

He added: "Working with PhD and undergraduate podiatry students, we have integrated clinical assessment, cutting-edge research and patient care whilst establishing an exciting and authentic learning experience."

Professor Miller said: "Having Jim and PhD student Nichola Renwick join our clinical team, inputting their lab services into shared decision making, surgical planning and post-surgical evaluation is truly ground breaking.

"My multidisciplinary team of surgeons, podiatrists, and orthotics have benefitted enormously and we have a platform to start to transform services through research and training."

Both professors are now exploring wider cross-organisational opportunities which includes partnering up with Dr Esther Smith, Programme Leader for the MEng/BEng(Hons) Mechanical Electronic Systems Engineering, to explore surgical implants and custom orthotics for complex diabetic foot problems through BEng and MEng projects.

Professor Miller was on campus recently delivering an entertaining talk on orthopaedic foot surgery to Mechanical Engineering students.

BEng and MEng Mechanical Engineering students are working on projects in podiatry with Professor Woodburn and Dr Smith.

Professor Miller talked about her world leading work on minimal invasive foot surgery using Minstrel and Crunchie bar analogies to describe the state of the bones she is dealing with. The students are currently modelling the human foot using finite element stress analysis to understand the loads that the internal bones and tissues are under and the effect that surgery and orthoses can have on loads in the diabetic foot.

Through these joint projects in healthcare and engineering, GCU is developing engineering graduates with the potential and multidisciplinary awareness to enable Scotland and UK to maintain our leading role in health and life sciences.