Study: How the scale of graphs affects understanding

A new study has discovered 'remarkable' findings about how the scale of graphs affects public policy preferences and level of worry about COVID-19.

The study, published by Health Economics, devised a double‐blind experiment to test people's graph comprehension and its effects on attitudes and policy preferences.

Mass media routinely present data on COVID‐19 diffusion with graphs that use either a log scale or a linear scale. 

The authors found that when the number of COVID‐19 related deaths was presented on a logarithmic rather than linear scale, people:

  • Had a less accurate understanding of how the pandemic has developed
  • Made less accurate predictions on its evolution
  • Had different policy preferences

Merely changing the scale the data is presented on can alter public policy preferences and the level of worry, despite the fact that people are routinely exposed to COVID‐19 related information.

The authors concluded providing the public with information in ways they understand better can help improve the response to COVID‐19.

It recommends those communicating to the general public should always describe the evolution of the pandemic using a graph on a linear scale, at least as a default option. 

Wiley Online Library

The experiences of refugee and asylum-seeking women during the pandemic

A report by the Sisters Not Strangers coalition outlines the experiences of refugee and asylum-seeking women during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coalition surveyed women living in England and Wales, as well as staff and volunteers who have been supporting them during the pandemic.

It found a third of women were at high risk from coronavirus, reporting a serious health condition such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes. 

While the government emphasised social distancing measures, a fifth of women were homeless, relying on temporary arrangements with community members, and moving from one house to another. 

Self-isolation was impossible for the 21% of women who were forced to sleep in the same room as a non-family member. 

Frequent handwashing was also a serious challenge for the 32% of women who struggled to afford soap and other hygiene products.

Sisters Not Strangers  

Study: Digital inequality in a pandemic

A new study has concluded the COVID-19 crisis is enforcing existing digital health inequalities. 

The study aimed to provide a broader understanding of how different people use the internet to meet their information and communication needs in the case of a major health pandemic.

It used the ongoing COVID-19 crisis as a context for empirical work. 

Groups identified as vulnerable included older people, less educated people and people with physical health problems, low literacy levels, or low levels of internet skills. 

Authors found, generally, people who are already relatively advantaged are more likely to use the information and communication opportunities provided by the internet to their benefit in a health pandemic.

Less advantaged individuals are less likely to benefit. 

JMIR Publications

COVID-19 speeds shift to digital communications

A new Medscape white paper says, even as lockdowns are lifted, emerging trends for an increase in digital communication in the healthcare sector will stay.

Healthcare’s New Normal: COVID Speeds Shift to Digital Communications shares the thoughts of key opinion leaders and industry experts.

They concluded telemedicine, virtual meetings and conferences, and online professional education will play an even greater part in the future of healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. 

The majority of physicians also believe the role of specialised medical information platforms will increase. 

Read the paper in full by clicking on the link below.


Back to school resource for primary children

Barnardo's has released a guide to going back to school for primary-age children.

The interactive booklet includes several spaces for children to record their feelings as well as activities like breathing exercises.

It also includes tips on managing change and encourages children to think about things which are inside and outside of their control.


How to talk to the public about your research

The European Lung Foundation has published an article aiming to help healthcare professionals present their research to the general public.

The article in Breathe, a European Respiratory Society journal, gives tips on writing in a more simple style to make research more understandable and accessible to patients and the public.

It says communicating to nonspecialist audiences about research has many benefits for both scientists and clinicians.


Mortality rates for children and young people with learning disabilities

Research by the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory has found health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities are contributing to premature deaths in childhood and young adulthood. 

In particular, it highlights how improvements to recognition and management of epilepsy, as well as resources and training for prevention and treatment of dysphagia and aspiration are needed.

The report also says collaboration between healthcare and social care, and more support for families and people with learning disabilities, could improve recognition and timely treatment of important health issues.

Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory

New support for people who have had a stroke

A new partnership between the NHS and PIF member the Stroke Association is providing personalised care to people who have had a stroke.

Stroke Connect provides stroke survivors with support and advice in the early days following hospital discharge, without having to leave the house.

Since launching last month, the service has supported more than 500 people.

Patients are contacted for an initial call from a trained Stroke Association Connector within a few days of discharge from hospital.

The connector provides support with immediate concerns and links to support they can access in the long-term as part of their recovery.

A further call is offered within the month to check in on progress and identify any further support needed.

Families can also opt to receive essential information on self-management.

NHS England

PRSB pharmacy standard used by NHS Digital

A pharmacy standard developed by PIF member the Professional Records Standards Body is being used by NHS Digital to roll out urgent medicine supply digital notifications.

The notifications inform GPs when one of their patients receives an urgent supply of medicine from a community pharmacy.

PRSB says sharing this information quickly and consistently means patient records are more up-to-date and people involved in their care are able to make better informed decisions. 

It also saves time by reducing manual processing and follow up requests for information. 


NHS deal secures access to cystic fibrosis drug

Thousands of people with cystic fibrosis in England can now benefit from a ‘transformative’ treatment.

NHS patients will be among the first in Europe to be prescribed Kaftrio, which significantly improves lung function, helping people with cystic fibrosis to breathe more easily and enhancing their overall quality of life.

The treatment – known as the ‘triple combination therapy’ – was given the green light by European regulators on 21 August.

NHS England

Webinar: Quality improvement and patient empowerment

The King's Fund is hosting a webinar exploring technological solutions to complex problems.

Quality improvement and patient empowerment: how technology can facilitate a new era of care takes place from 11am to noon on Wednesday 9 September.

Using the orthopaedic pathway in Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust as a case study, the online event will explore in depth how the adoption and integration of technology can help NHS trusts deliver on elective surgeries that were postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Click on the link below for more information and to book.

The King's Fund