Diagnosis and coping

Diagnosis and coping

We have all seen how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people, young and old, in a myriad of different ways. Just some of the ways we are working to improve outcomes is by studying immunity and recovery, reviewing impact for particular groups such as chronic pain sufferers, loaning specialist equipment, hosting online movement sessions, urging continued funding for older people during discharge and rehabilitation, and supporting positive mental health during social distancing and self-isolation.

Why not check out the case studies below to learn more about our work?

Calls for National COVID-19 Resilience Programme for older people

Professor in Ageing and Health Dawn Skelton is part of an expert panel behind a report calling on the government to look into the physical and psychological effects of lockdown on older people.

The report - 'A National Covid-19 Resilience Programme' - was produced by The Physiological Society and the Centre for Ageing Better. It has been published online here and shared with the UK Parliament at a Parliamentary Committee.

The report calls for the government to consider the potential physical and mental health effects of lockdown on older people and explains the physiological reasons why older people being less active and less socially engaged will have a huge negative effect on health but also on healthcare resources with an increase in falls, depression and loneliness.

It urges UK public health agencies to launch a National Covid-19 Resilience Programme to support older people through the pandemic and to keep them healthy over the winter.

Key recommendations include encouraging appropriate exercise and physical activity; supporting optimal nutrition; enhance mental health and wellbeing; and supporting behaviour change to embed these behaviours.

It also recommended televised physical activity opportunities, paper-based programmes and Make Movement Your Mission classes for those on Facebook or who can access You Tube.  

Last month Professor Skelton, Chair of the British Geriatric Rehabilitation Group, was one of 19 British Geriatric Society (BGS) officers and key members to write to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to announce ongoing funding for discharge services in his forthcoming comprehensive spending review (CSR).

Lockdown lifestyle linked to poor mental health in Scotland

A rise in negative health behaviours – such as lack of sleep, exercise and an unhealthy diet – is linked to poorer mental health during the tightest restrictions of Scotland’s COVID-19 lockdown, a new study has confirmed.

Research led by the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), in partnership with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has concluded that these changes contributed to a higher negative mood and that maintaining, or even improving, health behaviours in a lockdown situation is key to sustaining positive mental health.

The study, funded by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO), also found a link between increased alcohol consumption when living with children, and a poorer diet if the person’s working status had been affected by COVID-19. 

The large-scale study involved nearly 400 adults living in Scotland. Researchers said there was  clear evidence that lockdown led to negative changes in health behaviours, but they also found that the picture was complicated and that lots of people made positive, healthy changes during the first lockdown from March onwards.

COVID-19 study on the mental health of frontline workers

GCU researchers have found that more needs to be done to support the mental health of COVID-19 frontline health and social care professionals.

Dr Alex Pollock and Dr Pauline Campbell, from GCU’s NMAHP Research Unit, were awarded funding by the Scottish Government and the Chief Scientist Office to conduct a systematic review and evidence synthesis on 'Effective interventions to support the resilience and mental health of frontline health and social care staff during a global health crisis and following de-escalation'. The results of their rapid coronavirus response research have just been published in a Cochrane Review paper here.

This review was one of three vital GCU-led research projects aimed at tackling the coronavirus and its impact to be awarded by the Scottish Government in April. The coronavirus research funding was part of a £5 million package to support 55 rapid research projects in 15 Scottish universities and research institutions, contributing to global efforts to combat the virus and its wider effects. The studies focus on increasing the understanding of coronavirus (COVID-19), screening potential treatments and supporting clinical trials, and researchers were given six months to complete them.

Ageing expert urges the Chancellor to fund ongoing discharge care

Professor in Ageing and Health Dawn Skelton is one of 19 British Geriatric Society (BGS) officers and key members to write to UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak urging him to announce ongoing funding for discharge services in his forthcoming comprehensive spending review (CSR).  Professor Skelton said: "We believe it is important for all of society that older people's healthcare is sustainably funded for the long term, beyond March 2021. Six months of funding does not allow systems to plan or to employ additional staff to deliver these reablement and recovery services."

Professor Skelton also features in a great article in the New Scientist (October 9) entitled 'Bad balance: why dangerous falls are on the rise around the world'.

How can we help young people thrive in a pandemic?

GCU London's Professor Antony Morgan and Professor Candace Currie explore how we can help young people thrive in the next Resilience and Reconstruction talk hosted by the Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Glasgow Caledonian New York College (GCNYC).

The virtual speaker series brings together the GCU community around the globe to explore the impact of, and opportunities arising from, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dean and Professor in Public Health at GCU London Professor Morgan will join Professor of Global Adolescent Health Professor Currie to explore "Supporting Young People: Thrive During Pandemics and Other Major Threats" on October 15 at 5pm UK time.

Psychology students to deliver mental health support to COVID-19 frontline workers

Psychology students will soon be working as trainees with leading Scottish charity SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) to give mental health support to COVID-19 frontline workers.  Foundation Scotland, Scotland's community foundation charity, has awarded a £105,000 grant to SAMH in recognition of the fact that mental health challenges have been widely recognised as a key area of need throughout the crisis. This essential funding is to support SAMH's new work with Five Areas Ltd (Living Life to the Full) and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). All three organisations will work together to provide three tiers of mental health support needed for 4,000 key workers. 

Dr Bryan McCann, Lecturer in Psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: "As the University for the Common Good, Glasgow Caledonian University seeks to make a positive contribution to the communities we serve. Foundation Scotland's funding will allow us to work in partnership with SAMH to deploy our trainee psychologists in support of frontline workers' mental health."

Return of parkrun a 'milestone' for public health

Researchers from GCU have welcomed the return of parkrun as a "significant milestone" for the UK.  Before lockdown, more than 250,000 runners or walkers took part in the Saturday morning 5kms all over the world.  A research team from GCU surveyed 8157 parkrunners in 2018 and concluded regular running makes people happier and more confident in everyday life and has a positive impact on their mental health and body image. Professor Emmanuelle Tulle, one of the authors, said: “The return of parkrun is a significant milestone for the UK and could be important in helping many rediscover the benefits of an active lifestyle and the joys of community sport.”

Younger people hit hardest by COVID-19 lockdown

Younger adults and people with pre-existing health conditions are more likely to suffer anxiety, depression, PTSD and higher levels of worry as a result of the COVID-19 measures, new research has shown. Four top psychologists at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) studied data from 726 people living in Scotland during lockdown to find out the impact that Coronavirus measures were having on mental health. The 72-page online COVID-19 Psychological Wellbeing Study of adults over 18 was completed after three-months of analysing data collected during the first month of lockdown. Lead researchers GCU Head of Psychology Dr Kerri McPherson and Senior Lecturer in Applied Health Psychology Dr Kareena McAloney-Kocaman, supported by lecturer Dr Birgit Schroeter and researcher Pia Faeth, found that younger people and those with pre-existing conditions have suffered most during lockdown.

Physical function review hits the Big Apple

A systematic review by GCU researchers studying the changes and recovery in physical function and fitness after COVID-19 has appeared in the New York Times.  The research was led by PhD student Scott Rooney with Professor Lorna Paul, Professor in Allied Health Science in the Department of Physiotherapy and Paramedicine and PhD student Amy Webster. The team decided to carry out the review because COVID-19 is a novel infection and there is limited understanding of the long-term impact and recovery of patients following infection. The research paper is 'Systematic Review of Changes and Recovery in Physical Function and Fitness After Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome–Related Coronavirus Infection: Implications for COVID-19 Rehabilitation'.

COVID-19 rehabilitation for older peoples

World-renowned expert on ageing Professor Dawn Skelton has vehemently defended rehabilitation services for older people in England after a UK government policy U-turn. The Professor of Ageing and Health at GCU and a member of the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) Rehabilitation Group, said they were alarmed to learn that funding for 'one-stop' rehabilitation centres for older people in England had been withdrawn. She said that COVID-19 virus has disproportionately affected older people with around half of diagnoses and almost 90 per cent of deaths from the virus being in the over 65 age group. Those that had not been affected by the virus had been shielding or in lockdown, putting them at huge risk for functional decline with the lack of physical activity.

Social impact of COVID-19 on chronic pain sufferers

GCU Reader in the Department of Psychology, Dr Jo McParland, has been involved in an important review into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people with chronic pain. The review, entitled 'The social threats of COVID-19 for people with chronic pain', was published in PAIN, The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain. Chronic pain, defined as persistent or intermittent pain that lasts for at least three months, affects between one third and one half of the UK population. Dr McParland was part of an international team, invited by the leading pain journal, to carry out a topical review into the challenges faced by chronic pain sufferers during the pandemic. The review examines the social impact of the pandemic for those with chronic pain, suggests strategies to mitigate the social impact of the pandemic and proposes research questions to direct future research in the area.

World's largest study

Led by Professor Sebastien Chastin, leading physical activity researchers, respiratory experts, and sport and exercise psychologists at GCU have launched the world’s largest study to find out for certain if physical activity can boost COVID-19 immunity. The study is aimed at aiding government decision-making around current recommendations on physical activity and exercise to boost immunity to COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic. It is the most comprehensive systematic review ever conducted into the impact of physical activity on immune response, analysing more than 14,000 research papers published worldwide over the last 40 years for key data. Scientists are in a race against time to find conclusive evidence that physical activity can lessen the impact of COVID-19 by the end of May 2020 and are working flat out to publish results of the study that would normally take months to collate. They have joined forces with world-renowned immunologists and epidemiologists from University College London and Ghent University in Belgium, and a public health consultant from NHS Lanarkshire.

Professor Chastin also took part in a discussion on BBC Radio Scotland 05 May 2020 10:09:30 on whether fitness levels may impact on recovery from COVID-19.

Glasgow Mutual Aid

Benjamin Butterworth, PhD researcher in Psychology and member of the Substance Use Research Group, has been working as coordinator for Glasgow Mutual Aid in G42 8 and G42 0, a catchment area of 15,000 people. Benjamin is responsible for leading a team of 50 volunteers in responding to requests for help these areas. The main requests are for sourcing food parcels and supporting food banks, in addition to delivering groceries, collecting prescriptions, and offering emotional support calls. For example, the group are helping the Govanhill and Queens Park Church food bank.

Online movement sessions

Professor Dawn Skelton, later-life training guru and Professor of Ageing, is helping older people cope in the coronavirus crisis and improve their lives with new live online movement sessions. The 10-minute sessions are live at 8am, 12noon and 4pm and are available for people to watch at their own convenience on YouTube and Facebook.

Over-70s and COVID-19

Professor Emmanuelle Tulle, Glasgow School for Business and Society was featured in a Daily Record article on 3 May 2020 about the proposal to maintain a blanket order for the over-70s to remain confined, even after the relaxation of lockdown for other age groups. John Humphreys had written an article complaining about the ‘homogenising of the old’ that this represented. He used the lifestyle argument to argue against the assumption that the over-70s are all at similar risk of COVID-19, operating reverse stereotyping but also implying that good health in later life could be achieved with appropriate individual life choices. Professor Tulle argued that there are indeed wide variations among the over-70s - but shifted the argument towards structural inequalities, rather than individual lifestyle choice. Professor Tulle also commented on the language that has been used to signify heightened risk in COVID-19 – ‘our elderly’ or ‘the elderly and those with multiple morbidities’ which implies that the two occupy the same space of tainted biology, reinforcing cultural exclusion.

Equipment loaned to NHS Dumfries and Galloway

Professor Linda Scobie from the Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences has loaned her equipment for the extraction of material to test for SARS-CoV2 to NHS Dumfries and Galloway; Dr Claire Crossan, Research Fellow in Biomedical and Biological Sciences, is located there to provide training and to assist with testing in the meantime. 

Positive mental health

GCU psychology researcher Dr Christopher Hand has been providing evidence-based advice around sustaining positive mental health and wellbeing during social distancing and self-isolation interventions, maintaining anxiety levels within healthy boundaries, and the behaviour of the public in relation to adapting to working from home, ‘panic buying’, and maintaining healthy social networks. This has featured on Clyde News in an interview (16 March 2020), Global News (representing a wide array of outlets), coverage in The National (link 1 and link 2) and Glasgow Times newspapers, a two-page spread in the Sunday Post magazine and an interview by EuroNews which led to an approx. 3-minute video being published via Twitter and their website.

Also, on 1 June 2020, Dr Hand warned against using social media shaming as a tactic to stop people breaking Coronavirus pandemic lockdown rules, insisting that the rise in 'Covidiot' cyber shaming is a "dangerous" road to go down and could increase the spread of the virus by rebellious reactionaries. 

Research at GCU

Research is instrumental in tackling society’s biggest problems. The health, social and economic challenges uncovered by COVID-19 brings into sharp focus our commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all.
 

Sustainable Development Goals

These global goals reflect our ethos as the University for the Common Good and our mission to make a positive difference to the communities we serve. Read our institutional research strategy to find out more about our commitment to the SDGs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.

The icons below show which of the 17 SDGs we aim to impact through the research above.