Experiences of dying at home for people living with financial hardship and deprivation

A new study explores the lived experience of socioeconomic deprivation and home dying in the UK. Key findings include the high costs of dying at home and the "oppressive and alienating" environment because of cramped, materially poor social housing.

However, a home environment was still important to all participants, particularly to support identity and autonomy. Some were explicit about wanting to remain at home for as long as possible.

The study forms part of a larger Dying in the Margins project led by the University of Glasgow.

Read the full study findings via Science Direct here.

GPs pilot AI-powered WhatsApp messaging

An artificial intelligence (AI) powered WhatsApp messaging platform for scheduling cervical screening appointments is being piloted in London. The pilot, which aims to increase uptake and streamline the appointment management process, will take place at the Islington GP Federation.

The AI assistant, called Asa, allows patients to book, reschedule, and cancel appointments via WhatsApp at any time. It uses generative AI and behavioural science to tailor language and messaging to different patient groups.

Read the full story via the PharmaPhorum website here.

Commissioning community champions: lessons from a pandemic

PIF member The King's Fund has published a report on commissioning community champions. The report is based on surveys of local authority commissioners, plus interviews with those commissioning and delivering programmes.

It highlights the added value community champions can bring, particularly engaging with communities previously perceived to be invisible from public health and engagement processes. The report also sets out questions to help commissioners and decision makers identify the potential value of community champions to their systems.

Read the full report via The King's Fund website here.

Study: Using large language models to navigate stem cell transplantation

Researchers have tested whether three large language models (LLMs) can guide non-specialist healthcare professionals and advise patients seeking information on hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). They tested ChatGPT-3.5, ChatGPT-4 and Bard (Google AI) on a range of measures including response consistency and veracity and language comprehensibility.

Researchers concluded the presence of mistakes and lack of clear references means LLMs are not yet appropriate for routine, unsupervised clinical use, or patient counselling. However, implementation of LLMs ability to access and reference materials, as well as the development of models trained in specialised domain knowledge data sets may offer potential solutions for future applications.

Access the full study findings via the JMIR website here.

Introducing LUPUS UK Youth

PIF member LUPUS UK has introduced a new service – LUPUS UK Youth. The group was created to provide a community dedicated to young people with lupus. It has resources on Facebook and Instagram.

The group was set up by LUPUS UK's new young people and family support officer Chelsea. She lives with lupus, having been diagnosed 10 years ago at the age of 14.

Read Chelsea's blog about what she wants to achieve with the new group via the LUPUS UK website here.

Study: Experiences of community rehabilitation for Long COVID

A new study explores the experience of accessing Long COVID community rehabilitation from the perspectives of people with Long COVID and GPs. Both groups recognised the challenges of dealing with an emergent, complex condition and highlighted a lack of clear pathways.

However, many people with Long COVID felt they were not heard or believed by healthcare professionals and the wider public. They expressed a desire for their symptoms to be validated. Participants reported living with an invisible illness, often attributed to a lack of understanding about the affects of Long COVID.

Researchers highlighted the need for greater understanding of the role of community rehabilitation in the treatment of Long COVID and accessible services.

Access the full study findings via the BMJ Open website here.

"Transformative change" needed to save babies' lives

A report by PIF member Tommy's and Sands says Government promises to increase spending on maternity and neonatal services are not enough to drive the "transformative change" needed to save babies’ lives. The Saving Babies’ Lives 2024: Progress Report says progress towards reducing stillbirths and neonatal deaths has stalled across the UK.

The report also highlights ongoing differences in outcomes. In 2021, the rate of both stillbirths and neonatal deaths among black babies was almost double the rate among white babies. The rate of stillbirths in the most deprived areas of the UK was double that in the least deprived areas.

Read more on the report via the Tommy's website here.

Study: Joining Facebook groups to support self management

A new study aims to explore women's motivations for joining gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) Facebook groups and the perceived benefits of such spaces. The most commonly reported benefits of membership were "reading about food ideas" and "finding helpful information and tips". Respondents reported finding their group strongly sympathetic, tolerant, sensitive and supportive.

Researchers concluded GDM Facebook groups are valuable for informational and emotional support, sharing lived experiences and offering a sense of community. They provide women with access to more tailored and readily available support, filling gaps not addressed by healthcare providers.

Access the full study findings via the Wiley Online Library here.