Public health information during COVID-19

The government has introduced a series of measures and resources to keep the public informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measures include the launch of a GOV.UK Coronavirus Information service on WhatsApp.

The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus and reduce the burden on NHS services.

GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service is an automated ‘chatbot’ service which will allow the British public to get answers to the most common questions about coronavirus direct from government.

Add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to get started.

Public Health England has also created public advice on looking after mental health and wellbeing during the outbreak.

The information is presented in both a web format and an easy-read pdf.

NHS provides text support for people with COVID-19 symptoms

People staying at home with suspected coronavirus symptoms can now get regular check-ins from a new NHS messaging service.

Daily texts will be sent to new patients who register their symptoms and contact details with the 111 online service.

The messages will check how people are, and ensure those who need help to get them through the isolation period receive it.

NHS England

Digital health literacy key during coronavirus outbreak

This article argues the outbreak of coronavirus has reinforced the importance of health literacy to public health.

It says people with low health literacy are more vulnerable because a lack of understanding can help misinformation spread more quickly.

It outlines the innovations being developed or adapted to increase people’s digital health literacy enabling them to seek, find, understand and use health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem.


How to do an online focus group

This article includes five top tips for holding an online, video-conference focus group.

It gives examples of which software allows you to record the chat, what to remember in terms of data protection and tips on timing and setting up an online group.

Dipex Charity

10 tips for video consultations

The Royal College of General Practitioners has released 10 top tips for conducting telephone consultations to assess and advise patients concerned they may have COVID-19.

The guidance covers topics including how to begin conversations, gather all the necessary information and assess whether telephone management is appropriate.


NIHR's response to COVID-19

NIHR is funding and helping to deliver a range of “rapid response” research to better understand and tackle COVID-19 on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.

To ensure it is making best use of the limited resources and capacity available to support research, NIHR is implementing a single, national process allowing the Chief Medical Officer or Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England to draw on expert advice to prioritise studies which hold the most potential.

This process will cover funded studies, irrespective of whether they are funded by the public sector, industry or charities.

Until further notice, the NIHR Clinical Research Network is pausing the site set up of any new or ongoing studies at NHS and social care sites that are not nationally prioritised COVID-19 studies.

For more information on the impact of these pauses click on the link below.


What makes people more likely to stick to quarantine?

In this article, Sarah Chapman looks at the latest evidence from a rapid review by researchers at King’s College London on how to improve adherence to quarantine. 

It asks what makes us more likely to stick at it and follow the rules? 

She says coronavirus has brought with it new words, new rules, and new ways of living meaning good communication, using plain language has never been more important than now.

Evidently Cochrane

When charities extend their services online

This is the first in a new series of case studies about third sector organisations using video consultations in their work.

The stories were filmed at the start of 2020 but have become even more relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This first case study focuses on Near Me – a service allowing health and care professionals to offer appointments remotely through video consultations.


Study: Risk communication in tables versus text

A new study by the Winton Centre for Risk & Evidence Communication suggests tables are better understood than text for understanding and comparing numbers.

Researchers tested whether a simple table – a ‘fact box’ – might be better understood than plain text. 

The table included exactly the same information as the text, which was also written to be very clear and accessible.

After studying 2,305 people representative of the UK population, researchers concluded putting information in the ‘fact boxes’ still helped people understand and remember much more than the simple text.

The Royal Society Publishing

Self Care Week award winners announced

The Self Care Forum has announced the awards for Self Care Week 2019, which saw more than 1000 organisations and individuals participating.

This year's awards were:

  • Winner – Lancashire Libraries, Lancashire County Council
  • Outstanding Clinical Commissioning Group – Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG (Joint Self Care Forum/NHS Clinical Commissioners Award)
  • Innovation – Manchester Local Care Organisation/North Manchester Self-Care Forum
  • Highly Commended – Wakefield CCG

To read what the judges had to say, click on the link below.

Self Care Forum

Study: Engaging youth in research

A study has examined the experiences, needs and knowledge gaps of researchers when it comes to engaging youth effectively.

The authors argue by engaging youth as full partners, research becomes more feasible and relevant, and the validity and richness of findings are enhanced. 

Consequently, researchers need guidance in engaging youth effectively.

Eighty‐four researchers interested in youth engagement training were recruited via snowball sampling.

The study concluded skills in collaborating with youth to design, conduct and implement research have to be learned. 

Researchers need concrete training and networking opportunities to develop and maximise these skills and mechanisms that formally acknowledge the value of engagement.

Wiley Online Library

Study: Using a guided internet tool to treat depression and anxiety in pregnancy

A study aimed to examine the effectiveness of a guided internet intervention (MamaKits online) for pregnant women with moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The randomised controlled trial included pregnant women with depressive symptoms above threshold or anxiety above threshold or both.

Of the 159 included women, 79 were randomised to MamaKits online, 47% of whom completed the intervention.

The study showed a significant reduction in affective symptoms in both groups, but the differences in reduction of affective symptoms between the intervention and control groups were not significant.

The authors concluded future research should examine for which women these interventions might be effective or if changes in the internet intervention might make the it more effective.

JMIR Publications