Category / Research news

AHRC report about arts and humanities research on mental health

A new report, Exploring Mental Health and Wellbeing, published by the Arts and Humanities Research Council highlights the important role that arts and humanities based research can play in helping to address complex issues around mental health.

The report brings to life a wealth of case studies that are contributing to the mental health debate. These include examining the work of academics at the University of Cambridge who are pioneering an innovative design of a personalised fragrance dispenser to help manage anxiety to a project being managed by the University of Essex to educate policy-makers on the issues surrounding impaired decision-making capacity.

Research around mental health is focused around developing a cross-disciplinary approach – and arts and humanities scholars have a key role to play. The AHRC has funded research in many different aspects of mental health research in recent years, with an investment of over £10m in seventy-six projects since 2010.

The new cross-disciplinary mental health research agenda sees the UK’s seven research councils joining forces to collaborate on mental health research. Published in August this year, the agenda paves the way for cross-council collaboration on mental health, highlighting the importance of including the arts and humanities in this area of research.

Funder Visit – Japan Society for the Promotion of Science on 21st November 2017

BU’s Research & Knowledge Exchange Office is delighted to be hosting the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science visit on Tuesday, 21st November 2017.

The schedule for the event is:

13:00           Welcoming Address

13:05            JSPS – Overview, Institutional and Group Programmes

 Ms Chika Itoi, Deputy Director, JSPS London

13:25            JSPS Fellowship Programmes

 Ms Shiho Hayashida, International Programme Associate, JSPS London

13:45            Experiences of Doing Research in Japan

 Professor Chang Hong Liu (BU’s Department of Psychology)

13:55            Questions and Answers

14:00           Close

This event is open to BU academics and those from other regional universities. To book your place, please email RKEDevFramework@bournemouth.ac.uk, putting JSPS in the subject line. The event will take place on BU’s Talbot Campus, with the room confirmed to you after booking.

Please also see the post concerning JSPS’ Fellowship scheme which is open until 1st December 2017.

 

Molecular basis for a healthier heart…new work published by BU

Research funded by the British Heart Foundation looking at tissue fibrosis (scarring), will soon be published in Experimental Gerontology, one the world’s leading journal on ageing. Fibrosis occurs naturally as part of our injury response process but also develops in ageing and chronic disease. Treatments are scant despite fibrosis leading to organ failure and increased risk of death.

The image shows valves (v) in the hearts of young and ‘late middle aged’ fruit flies that have been genetically engineered to express fluorescent collagen, an key ‘scar protein’. Although the fly heart is just two cells wide it represents a lot of the genetic machinery for a human heart. Amazingly, the function of human and fly hearts declines as they age – and they both accumulate collagen.

Our previous work linked heart function with SPARC – a protein associated with fibrosis in humans.  We’ve now demonstrated that the heart’s ‘health-span’ during ageing can be significantly lengthened if the expression SPARC is reduced. We also show that if SPARC levels increase – fibrosis is increased too. Hence, we’ve nailed a cause-and-effect relationship between SPARC and heart function which supports the idea of targeting SPARC clinically to control cardiac health and fibrosis.

Paul S. Hartley (Department of Life and Environmental Science).

SAIL Project Team Meeting

Last week, Prof Ann Hemingway,  Prof Adele Ladkin  and Dr Holly Crossen-White joined European research colleagues in Ostend, Belgium for a SAIL Project bi-annual team meeting. Over two days  all research partners from four different European countries had the opportunity to share their initial research data from pilot projects being developed within each country for older people. The BU team will be undertaking the feasibility study for the SAIL project and will be drawing together all the learning from the various interventions created by the other partners.

 

 

New CMMPH midwifery publication

Congratulations to Dr. Sue Way and Prof. Vanora Hundley in BU’s Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) on their latest publication on the latent phase of labour.  Their paper ‘Defining the latent phase of labour: is it important?’ appeared in Evidence Based Midwifery and was written with midwifery colleagues across the UK, Germany and Canada [1].

 

Congratulations

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

 

Reference:

  1. Hundley V, Way S, Cheyne H, Janssen P, Gross M, Spiby H (2017) Defining the latent phase of labour: is it important? Evidence Based Midwifery 15 (3): 89-94. 

 

New research shows that active gaming technology could help people with Multiple Sclerosis

A new study published by Bournemouth University has shown that using the Nintendo Wii™ could help people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) become more active.  Being more physically activity has a range of potential benefits, including better balance and posture, improved confidence and improved mood.

The study saw 30 participants trial the use of Wii Fit Plus™, Wii Sports™ and Wii Sports Resort™ games at home, following initial orientation and guidance from physiotherapists in a hospital setting.  People recorded how often they used the Wii™, as well as responding to a number of questionnaires exploring its effects.  Dr Sarah Thomas, lead researcher, explains the rationale behind the project:

“Physical activity is known to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of people with MS, but they often face greater barriers to participation.  I’d noticed from my own family that playing the Wii appealed across the generations and was interested to see whether its ease of use and accessibility would make a difference to people with MS,” says Dr Thomas.

“Conversations with the Dorset MS team showed that they’d been thinking along the same lines, as they’d noticed that the Wii was increasingly being used by their patients.  That’s what led us to develop a successful grant application to the MS Society.”

As part of the Mii-vitaliSe study, people with MS were allocated  at random to one of two groups – one which trialled the Wii intervention immediately alongside their usual care for 12 months, and one which started the Wii intervention after a 6 month delay.

“The people we worked with were relatively physically inactive at the beginning of the study,” explains Dr Thomas, “Through regular 1-2-1 sessions with a physiotherapist, they were able to develop individual goals, which they then worked towards achieving using the Wii™ in their own homes.”

“We found that people were using the Wii™ on average about twice a week, most often for balance exercises, yoga or aerobics,” continues Dr Thomas, “Our participants found it a fun and convenient way to increase their physical activity levels, with people reporting benefits such as reduced stress, increased confidence and better balance, among others.”

“In day-to-day life, people noticed improvements such as dropping fewer pegs when hanging out washing, finding it easier to get in and out of the shower and walking further.”

We hope to build on these promising initial findings by carrying out a large multi-centre trial to test whether this intervention is effective.”

The full study can be read here.

A briefing paper about the research can be found here.

A terrible fate awaits North Korean women who escape to China

As North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and provocative missile tests draw the world’s attention, one crucial reality about the totalitarian regime has been left largely unnoticed: as bleak as life is for most who live in North Korea, it is often far worse for those who flee – most of whom are forced to suffer horrific human rights abuses away from the world’s scrutiny.

Since China shares a border with North Korea, it has become the first destination for desperate North Koreans who risk their lives to escape. An unofficial figure estimates that there are between 50,000 and 200,000 North Koreans living in China. The Chinese government denies most of them refugee status, instead treating them as economic migrants who have illegally crossed the border to seek work. Most have no formal identification or legal status. In addition, Beijing works together with Pyongyang to capture defectors and send them back, making their lives as escapees completely untenable.

I have interviewed many North Koreans now settled in the UK. Many of them told me they had been caught by the Chinese police and repatriated to the north a number of times, but managed to escape again and again. The combination of desperation, the denial of legal status and the terror of the Chinese police operation exposes these people to gross exploitation – especially women.

Among those who successfully leave North Korea, women make up the majority. In their search for freedom, many of them paradoxically end up being trafficked, detained and treated inhumanely because of their precarious and insecure positions in China as “illegal migrants”.

Vulnerability exploited

Drawn to what they hope is a guarantee of work, some women who cross the border are instead sold to Chinese or Korean-Chinese men in rural areas who cannot find wives due to poverty, undesirable living conditions, disability and the lopsided gender demographics created by the now-replaced one-child policy. Other women are abducted in public spaces, such as streets and trains, and forced into prostitution. As a survival strategy, a few women or family members volunteer themselves to be sold. Some are lucky enough to find decent and kind men, but they are a vanishingly small minority.

Most are locked up so they cannot escape. They are denied contact with their family members or friends, and often a whole village effectively becomes a community of guards to watch them so they cannot run. Many of the women forced into these relationships endure physical hardships, forced to work in the fields and do endless household chores. Some are trafficked to households with several men, where their keepers take turns to violate them on a regular basis.

During their captivity, many of them also become pregnant. If they manage to escape to other countries, such as South Korea, they are forced to leave their children behind – and since these children aren’t officially recognised in China, they are denied basic rights and entitlements, foregoing even basic healthcare and education.

And so even those fortunate enough to escape from their dire situations in North Korea and China are left with agonising worry and guilt about their left-behind children. Out of shame, many never talk about the intense pain they feel, instead suffering in lonely silence.

What must be done

A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report on the human rights situation in North Korea criticised the Chinese government for its violation of the human rights of North Korean refugees on a number of counts, including its repatriation of North Korean refugees, its failure to protect them from trafficking, and its refusal to recognise the children of North Korean women and Chinese men. However, the Chinese government rejected the commission’s report and refused to change its stance.

It is therefore time for the rest of the world to change the way it interacts with China. International organisations, governments and the media must apply even greater pressure on Beijing to change its policy towards North Korean refugees and the children they have in China; it must recognise that they’re entitled to refugee status by virtue of the human rights abuses they endure at home.

If governments are to act, their citizens and media must pressurise them to make this issue a higher priority. If a global campaign can gather enough momentum and strength, the Chinese government will be forced to listen and reconsider.

The ConversationIt may be a significant obstacle, but it is a challenge we can all play our part in. By demanding action, we can all support the fight against the sustained human rights abuse of desperate North Korean defectors and their invisible children. We might not be able to see it, but we know it’s happening – and we have a human duty to act.

Hyun-Joo Lim, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

AHRC Heritage launched to enhance UK heritage research

The AHRC have officially launched AHRC Heritage Research, a priority area established to enhance heritage research across the UK, at a three-day conference in London.

The AHRC Heritage Research team – led by Professor Rodney Harrison at University College London – will raise the profile of the heritage sector and provide leadership by working with the research community and partner organisations, in particular helping early career researchers to access opportunities.

Professor Harrison will  make important contributions to the understanding of heritage by connecting both natural and cultural heritage research and linking it with policy and practice in the UK and internationally.

The AHRC identified heritage as one of three priority areas because of the profound difference it makes to society.  A workshop held last Friday focused on how heritage research may help address challenges faced by developing countries as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund.

For more details on AHRC heritage visit: www.heritage-research.org. You can follow them on Twitter using the @AhrcHeritage handle

CMMPH student wins prestigious Iolanthe Midwifery Trust award

Congratulations to Dominique Mylod, clinical doctoral student in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal and Perinatal Health , Faculty of Health and Social Sciences.

Dominique was awarded a Midwives Award from the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust for her research into early labour, which explores whether using a birth ball at home in early labour improves birth outcomes. She is supervised by Professor Vanora Hundley, Dr Sue Way, and Dr Carol Clark.

The picture shows Dominique receiving her award from Baroness Julia Cumberlege CBE, Patron of the Trust.

 

Student interns aren’t entitled to the minimum wage and it’s costing them big time

For university students, work placements are heralded as a highly valuable opportunity. Taking a year out from studying to work in their chosen industry gives students a chance to learn more about their sector and get real life experience. Placements also allow students time to make contacts and network and prove themselves in a working role.

Shutterstock

Research has found that students are twelve times more likely to get higher grades after a placement. And that after a placement, student employability increases as many return to the same company for their first job.

Placements also allow universities to strengthen their reputation by building robust relationships with employers. And placement employers have the opportunity to try before they buy – assessing prospective employers in a real work situation without the drawbacks of interview. Other employers also gain from student placements, as they increasingly want graduates who can make an immediate impact on their organisation, and students who have completed a placement are able to offer this as evidence of their experience and skills.

There’s just one catch though – a lot of these placement years are unpaid. And this is perfectly legal – provided these placements are attached to a university course and last no more than one year.

Placement pressures

Students required to do an internship for less than one year as part of a UK-based further or higher education course aren’t entitled to the national minimum wage. And our new research shows that because of this, doing a placement can mean that many students get into debt and other financial difficulties.

The placement year is a time when students may have higher travel costs in actually getting to work, as well as additional expense of socialising in establishments that are more costly that the student union bar. Then there is also the work clothing to think about – students have to look smart when they are in the working world. Students are also liable for university fees during their placement – albeit at a lower rate than a tuition year. All of which can add up.

Placements can be a great opportunity for students but they can also end up being very costly. Shutterstock

The irony is of course that most interns are entitled to be paid the national minimum wage – but this doesn’t apply to so called “student internships”. So you could have an intern and a student on placement working side by side, doing the same job, and the same hours, with one entitled to the minimum wage and the other entitled to nothing.

This is something that impacts a lot of students – with more and more courses now offering an optional or even compulsory placement for students. It isn’t just smaller companies who aren’t paying people on placement either, even well-known, large companies have been found to be using unpaid interns.

Universities to some extent have acknowledged these extra outgoings and do provide small amounts of funding – for example to purchase an interview suit.
They can also provide grants to help offset these costs and may also grant bursaries to help students. But other sources of funding are limited, and student loans are only available up to £1,850 for the placement year.

Financial headaches

But for students with savings, or those from wealthier families, the picture is quite different. These students are often better placed to do unpaid placements – and through connections can sometimes even find ones that pay quite well.

This is creating a two tired system, and means that those students from less fortunate backgrounds may opt out of the work placement simply because they can’t afford it. It also means that firms also miss out on the unique talents and skills students from diverse but poorer backgrounds may offer.

Students should be paid for their work, not paying to work. Shutterstock

Going back into your final year of university with a load of debt and financial worries on your mind is of course not a great place to be – and will undoubtedly impact students in their critical year of study.

It’s not surprising then that studies into student well-being have shown poor mental health is often linked to financial problems. And in some cases, these financial problems can even result in students abandoning their university study altogether. It is clear then that this is something that needs to change, because ultimately during placement, students should be working to develop their careers, and not simply working up their debt.

Julie Robson, Senior Principal Acdemic (Marketing), Bournemouth University and Jillian Dawes Farquhar, Professor of Marketing, Southampton Solent University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

BU Sociology article in The Conversation

Congratulations to Dr. Hyun-Joo Lim Senior Lecturer in Sociology at BU who has just written an interesting piece on human rights issues faced by North Korean female defectors in China in The Conversation. You can access this article by clicking here!

 

Well done!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

 

A terrible fate awaits North Korean women who escape to China

South Koreans protest against China’s treatment of northern defectors. EPA/Jeon Heon-KyunAs North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and provocative missile tests draw the world’s attention, one crucial reality about the totalitarian regime has been left largely unnoticed: as bleak as life is for most who live in North Korea, it is often far worse for those who flee – most of whom are forced to suffer horrific human rights abuses away from the world’s scrutiny.

Since China shares a border with North Korea, it has become the first destination for desperate North Koreans who risk their lives to escape. An unofficial figure estimates that there are between 50,000 and 200,000 North Koreans living in China. The Chinese government denies most of them refugee status, instead treating them as economic migrants who have illegally crossed the border to seek work. Most have no formal identification or legal status. In addition, Beijing works together with Pyongyang to capture defectors and send them back, making their lives as escapees completely untenable.

I have interviewed many North Koreans now settled in the UK. Many of them told me they had been caught by the Chinese police and repatriated to the north a number of times, but managed to escape again and again. The combination of desperation, the denial of legal status and the terror of the Chinese police operation exposes these people to gross exploitation – especially women.

Among those who successfully leave North Korea, women make up the majority. In their search for freedom, many of them paradoxically end up being trafficked, detained and treated inhumanely because of their precarious and insecure positions in China as “illegal migrants”.

Vulnerability exploited

Drawn to what they hope is a guarantee of work, some women who cross the border are instead sold to Chinese or Korean-Chinese men in rural areas who cannot find wives due to poverty, undesirable living conditions, disability and the lopsided gender demographics created by the now-replaced one-child policy. Other women are abducted in public spaces, such as streets and trains, and forced into prostitution. As a survival strategy, a few women or family members volunteer themselves to be sold. Some are lucky enough to find decent and kind men, but they are a vanishingly small minority.

Most are locked up so they cannot escape. They are denied contact with their family members or friends, and often a whole village effectively becomes a community of guards to watch them so they cannot run. Many of the women forced into these relationships endure physical hardships, forced to work in the fields and do endless household chores. Some are trafficked to households with several men, where their keepers take turns to violate them on a regular basis.

Pro-defector outrage at the Chinese embassy in Seoul. EPA/Jeon Heon-Kyun

During their captivity, many of them also become pregnant. If they manage to escape to other countries, such as South Korea, they are forced to leave their children behind – and since these children aren’t officially recognised in China, they are denied basic rights and entitlements, foregoing even basic healthcare and education.

And so even those fortunate enough to escape from their dire situations in North Korea and China are left with agonising worry and guilt about their left-behind children. Out of shame, many never talk about the intense pain they feel, instead suffering in lonely silence.

What must be done

A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report on the human rights situation in North Korea criticised the Chinese government for its violation of the human rights of North Korean refugees on a number of counts, including its repatriation of North Korean refugees, its failure to protect them from trafficking, and its refusal to recognise the children of North Korean women and Chinese men. However, the Chinese government rejected the commission’s report and refused to change its stance.

It is therefore time for the rest of the world to change the way it interacts with China. International organisations, governments and the media must apply even greater pressure on Beijing to change its policy towards North Korean refugees and the children they have in China; it must recognise that they’re entitled to refugee status by virtue of the human rights abuses they endure at home.

If governments are to act, their citizens and media must pressurise them to make this issue a higher priority. If a global campaign can gather enough momentum and strength, the Chinese government will be forced to listen and reconsider.

It may be a significant obstacle, but it is a challenge we can all play our part in. By demanding action, we can all support the fight against the sustained human rights abuse of desperate North Korean defectors and their invisible children. We might not be able to see it, but we know it’s happening – and we have a human duty to act.

Hyun-Joo Lim, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.