Category / Uncategorized

“New” FHSS paper on obesity published July 2017


The American Journal of Men’s Health published our latest paper on obesity prevention in men.  The paper ‘Clinical Effectiveness of Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance Interventions for Men: A Systematic Review of Men-Only Randomized Controlled Trials (The ROMEO Project)’ originates from a collaboration between BU and various universities in Scotland, led by the University of Aberdeen [1].

This systematic review paper found that reducing diets produced better weight loss than physical activity alone. The most effective interventions combined reducing diets, exercise, and behaviour change techniques . Group interventions produced favourable weight loss results. The paper reports that once engaged, men remained committed to a weight loss intervention.

The paper concludes that weight loss for men is best achieved and maintained with the combination of a reducing diet, increased physical activity, and behaviour change techniques. Strategies to increase engagement of men with weight loss services to improve the reach of interventions are needed.  This paper is the thirteenth paper from a large NIHR grant [2-13].

The American Journal of Men’s Health is an open access, peer-reviewed resource for cutting-edge information regarding men’s health and illness. It is, however worth noting that although our paper is formally published in July 2017 it has been online for two years!  The journal’s website states clearly that the article was first published online on June 30, 2015 BUT the issue in which it appears is published is July 1, 2017!

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

 

Reference:

  1. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2017) Clinical effectiveness of weight loss & weight maintenance interventions for men: a systematic review of men-only randomised controlled trials (ROMEO Project), American Journal of Men’s Health 11(4): 1096-1123.  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1557988315587550
  2. Robertson, C, Archibald, D, Avenell, A, Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen E, Boyers, D., Stewart, F, Boachie, C, Fioratou E., Wilkins, D, Street, T., Carroll, P., Fowler, C. (2014) Systematic reviews of & integrated report on quantitative, qualitative & economic evidence base for the management of obesity in men. Health Technology Assessment 18(35): 1-424. http://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/118180/FullReport-hta18350.pdf
  3. Stewart, F., Fraser, C., Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2014) Are men difficult to find? Identifying male-specific studies in MEDLINE and Embase, Systematics Reviews 3,78.
  4. Archibald, D, Douglas, F, Hoddinott, P, van Teijlingen, E, Stewart, F., Robertson, C., Boyers, D., Avenell, A. (2015) A qualitative evidence synthesis on management of male obesity. BMJ Open 5: e008372. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008372 http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/5/10/e008372.full.pdf+html
  5. Boyers, D, Stewart, F, Fraser, C, Robertson, C, Avenell, A, Archibald, D, Douglas, F, Hoddinott P, van Teijlingen E. (2015). A systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of non-surgical obesity interventions in men, Obesity Research & Clinical Practice 9(4), 310-327.
  6. Robertson, C, Avenell, A, Boachie, C., Stewart, F., Archibald D., Hoddinott, P, Douglas, F, van Teijlingen E, Boyers D. (2016) Should weight loss and maintenance programmes be designed differently for men? Systematic review of long-term RCTs presenting data for men & women: The ROMEO Project, Obesity Research & Clinical Practice 10: 70-84.
  7. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Boachie, C., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2015) Should weight loss programmes be designed differently for men and women? The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 374.
  8. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2015) A systematic review of long-term weight management randomized controlled trials for obese men. The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 374.
  9. Robertson, C., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D. (2015) A systematic review of weight loss interventions in the UK. The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 375.
  10. Boyers, D., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Robertson, C., Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., (2015) A systematic review of the cost-effectiveness of non-surgical obesity interventions in men, Appetite 87: 375.
  11. Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E., Boyers, D., Avenell, A., Stewart, F., Robertson, C., (2015) A qualitative evidence synthesis on the management of male obesity. The ROMEO Project, Appetite 87: 381.
  12. Avenell, A., Robertson, C., Boachie, C., Stewart, F Archibald, D., Douglas, F., Hoddinott, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2016) Sex based subgroup differences in randomized controlled trials: empirical evidence from Cochrane meta-analyses BMJ 355:i5826 http://www.bmj.com/content/355/bmj.i5826/rapid-responses
  13. Avenell, A., Robertson, C., Stewart, F., Boyers, D., Douglas, F., Archibald, D., van Teijlingen, E., Hoddinott, P., Boachie, C. (2016) Sex can affect participation, engagement, and adherence in trials, BMJ 355:i6754 http://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/355/bmj.i6754.full.pdf

Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain (British Sociological Association) conference

BU academic presented at ‘Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain: researching race, ethnicity and migration in a changing landscape’ conference at the University of Sheffield (co-organised by the British Sociological Association and the Migration Research Group)

I presented an on-going project, Migrant and Refugee Leisure Spaces and Community Well-being at ‘Belonging in a post-Brexit-vote Britain: researching race, ethnicity and migration in a changing landscape’ conference at the University of Sheffield in May. A report of the conference can be found here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/socstudies/scsnews/bsa-migration-conference-1.701133


[Dr. Jaeyeon Choe, Senior Academic presenting at Sheffield]

The ‘Migrant and Refugee Leisure Spaces and Community Well-being’ presentation got much interest from the audience, who were primarily sociologists. Discussions flowed around “how” leisure spaces and practices can help migrants integrate into communities and enhance their well-being, and how migrants define social inclusion, integration and well-being differently from scholarly (often middle class and ‘white’) definitions. Other discussions surrounded how some cultures have segregated and have ‘invisible’ leisure spaces whilst others prefer generic space to gather.

Prof. Louise Ryan in Sociology at University of Sheffield emphasised that we need to develop comparative lenses and more holistic and international perspectives from different scales. We need to talk across fields and disciplines to move forward to understand migrants’ lives, well-being and integration.
“The impact of the referendum, means that researchers on intra-EU migration, those working on refugee studies and on ‘race’ and ethnic studies, need to come together to share insights and collaborate to develop new analytical frameworks to understanding the evolving implications of Brexit.”

The tourism and leisure field has much to offer and contribute in the exploration of migrant lives and their integration in the UK. Existing research suggests that leisure spaces provide migrants with opportunities for developing, expressing and negotiating their personal, social and cultural preferences safely whilst gaining recognition and a sense of belonging. This is especially important as they may confront issues relating to belongingness, societal membership, social status, self-perception and cultural confusion. Leisure can be instrumental to (re)establishing connections and networks with locals as well as other migrants and refugees, and provide spaces for problem solving. Leisure opportunities and spaces support the development of cultural capital to allow migrants to feel safe enough to contemplate building a productive life. Thus, leisure spaces can play an important role in integration. The role of leisure in integration also reflects the receiving community feeling unthreatened by migration.

I also participated in an Early Career Researcher Mentoring session with Prof. Louise Ryan during the conference. I found the session very useful as I received advice on research, publishing and networking in the migration studies field and beyond. Prof. Ryan also shared helpful insights and advice on career development strategies in the UK, especially for migrant young female researchers with similar profiles to me. This was an unusual programme during an academic conference that can be widely utilised by other conference and workshop organizers. I found the session extremely helpful in aiding my understanding of the academic culture in the UK and how to adapt to it as a young researcher from a migrant background.

https://www.britsoc.co.uk/about/latest-news/2017/may/mentoring-caf%C3%A9-it-isnt-just-chatting-over-coffee/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=may_news&utm_content=louise_ryan

Another interesting feature of the conference was a photographer as a keynote speaker. Jeremy Abrahams (theatre & portrait photographer) shared powerful visual work of the impact of Brexit entitled, ‘Remain/Leave’.

A keynote by Dr. Jon Fox at University of Bristol emphasised ‘Everyday Racism’ and how it has increased after the EU Referendum. He discussed pathological integration: East Europeans, racism & becoming British.

Finally, fellow conference delegates took photos of my presentation and posted them with useful comments/questions on the conference twitter page. After I mentioned a Bourenmouth University migrant well-being project twitter account, 10 immediately followed us, and had led to interesting and useful connections with fellow researchers with similar interests. 🙂 It was not only productive in getting feedback and comments on our on-going research project, but also great to meet migrant studies researchers to network.

For more information about our migrant and refugee leisure spaces and community
well-being project, please follow the Facebook Group: ‘Migrant Leisure Spaces’, Twitter: @migrantspaces and the project web page: https://research.bournemouth.ac.uk/project/migrant-refugee-leisure-wellbeing/

New CFP: Psychosocial Reflections on a Half Century of Cultural Revolution; Bournemouth University,

Association for Psychosocial Studies Biennial Conference

Bournemouth University, 5th-7th April 2018

 

‘Psychosocial Reflections on a Half Century of Cultural Revolution’

Fifty years after the hippie counterculture of 1967 (‘the summer of love’) and the political turbulence of 1968 (‘May 68’), this conference will stage a psychosocial examination of the ways in which today’s world is shaped by the forces symbolised by those two moments. It will explore the continuing influence of the deep social, cultural and political changes in the West, which crystallised in the events of these two years. The cultural forces and the political movements of that time aimed to change the world, and did so, though not in the ways that many of their participants expected. Their complex, multivalent legacy of ‘liberation’ is still developing and profoundly shapes the globalising world today, in the contests between what is called neo-liberalism, resurgent fundamentalisms, environmentalism, individualism, nationalisms, and the proliferation of identity politics.

A counter-cultural and identity-based ethos now dominates much of consumer culture, and is reflected in the recent development of some populist and protest politics. A libertarian critique of politics, once at the far margins, now informs popular attitudes towards many aspects of democratic governance; revolutionary critiques have become mainstream clichés. Hedonic themes suffuse everyday life, while self-reflection and emotional literacy have also become prominent values, linked to more positive orientations towards human diversity and the international community.

We invite psychosocial analyses of the development and legacy today of the ‘revolutions’ of the sixties, either through explorations of contemporary issues in politics, culture and artistic expression, or through historical studies. All proposals for papers, panels and workshops must indicate how they address psychosocial dimensions of their topic.

Send your abstract of 250-300 words to: APS2018@bournemouth.ac.uk

Deadline: 30 September 2017.

Confirmation of acceptance of abstract: 1st November.

Topics could include:

  • What happened to hate in the Summer of Love?
  • Lennon vs Lenin: did 1967 and 1968 announce two divergent trends in contemporary culture – and what has happened since to the psychosocial forces they expressed?
  • What are the meanings of ‘liberation’ today?
  • New inequalities in post-industrial societies
  • The resurgence of religion
  • The Six Day War, intifadas, and intractability
  • The planetary environment: fantasies and politics
  • Trajectories of feminism
  • The changing nature of ageing
  • ‘The personal is political’ and other rhetoric in historical context
  • Free minds and free markets
  • The ethics of freedom: for example, where now for freedom of speech?
  • From the Manson Family to the Islamic State
  • Pop music’s global conquest and musical hybridity
  • Changes in artistic practice, creativity and commodification
  • The transformation of media
  • The digitisation of everything
  • Higher education: democratisation and marketisation
  • The potential and limitations of theories of narcissism as a major tool for understanding late modern/post-modern cultures
  • New narcissisms in the twenty-first century
  • Therapeutic culture and its critics
  • Where are they now? Biographical narratives of the revolutionaries
  • States of mind in pivotal moments: San Francisco 67, Paris 68, and since
  • The sense of entitlement: narcissism or social justice?
  • The decline of deference and its consequences
  • The hatred of government and authority
  • The sexualisation of culture
  • Controlled decontrolling or repressive desublimation? Elias and Marcuse on cultural liberalization
  • Our bodies ourselves: shifting patterns and perceptions of embodiment.

 

We welcome contributions from academics and practitioners from different fields and disciplines and very much look forward to seeing you there!

New BU publication: Centre of Postgraduate Medical Research &Education

Congratulations to Dr. Sam Rowlands, Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, who published an interesting Commentary in the BJOG together with Prof. Roger Ingham from the University of Southampton.  Their paper ‘Long-acting reversible contraception: conflicting perspectives of advocates and potential users’ argues that a patient-centred approach to contraceptive care is fundamental to women’s autonomy.  The authors remind the readers that it needs to be appreciated that unintended pregnancy is most likely to be reduced by fulfilling the unmet need for contraception and encouraging those not using any form of contraception, or  condoms only, to use a method of their choice accompanied by adequate instruction (where necessary) in correct usage.

 

Oxford Business Law Blog invites commentary from BU’s Donald Nordberg

The University of Oxford’s Faculty of Law invited Donald Nordberg, Associate Professor in the BU Faculty of Management, to contribute a commentary to the widely read Oxford Business Law Blog. The piece is an essay concerning the creation of the Cadbury Code on corporate governance 25 years ago, and its subsequent revisions, and then pointing to questions about its continuing validity in the wake of the global financial crisis and changes in the investment landscape. The essay summarises his working paper, posted on Social Sciences Research Network, which reviews the nature of the debate over one key and recurrent issue: whether the UK should adopt something like the two-tier boards of directors common across continental Europe.

New BU publication in Public Health

This week the Oxford Encyclopaedia published our contribution on religious organisations and health promotion [1].  The paper in question ‘Faith Communities and the Potential for Health Promotion’ is co-authored by scholars based in England, Scotland and Canada. This new publication is part of a growing number of publications at Bournemouth University on the contribution of faith communities to public health.

Faith communities often have multiple resources, existing networks and an infrastructure that can be applied to health promotion programmes for their own membership or as an outreach to the wider community. Health programmes in a faith community in high-income countries may include targeted initiatives, ranging from walking groups or weight checks, health events, or health assessments, to diabetes self-management. These activities can be organised by charities and NHS organisation and held at local churches, synagogues or mosques which is referred to as faith-placed health promotion.  If the health promotion is part of the ministry of the religious organisation it is referred to as faith-based health promotion.

On top of this encyclopaedia entry, the Open Access journal African Health Sciences [Impact Factor 0.66] accepted our paper in the same field a few weeks ago.  This  paper ‘Influence of faith-based organisations on HIV prevention strategies in Africa: a systematic review’ formed part of the first author’s M.Sc. in Public Health [2]. Our previous papers reported on a study of faith-based and faith-placed health promotion in and around Dundee [3-4].

 

Professor Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Prenatal Health

 

References

  1. Kiger, A., Fagan, D., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) Faith Communities and the Potential for Health Promotion. In: Encyclopedia of Health and Risk Message Design & Processing, Parrott, R. (ed.) New York, Oxford University Press. (http://communication.oxfordre.com/).
  2. Ochillo, M., van Teijlingen, E., Hind, M. (2017) Influence of faith-based organisations on HIV prevention strategies in Africa: a systematic review. African Health Sciences (accepted June).
  3. Fagan, D., Kiger, A., van Teijlingen E. (2010) A survey of faith leaders concerning health promotion and the level of healthy living activities occurring in faith communities in Scotland. Global Health Promotion 17(4): 15-23.
  4. Fagan, D., Kiger, A., van Teijlingen, E. (2012) Faith communities and their assets for health promotion: The views from health professionals and faith leaders in Dundee, Scotland, Global Health Promotion 19(2): 27-36.

Festival of Learning: Test your maths skills in Magic Land

Pedagogy and the way children learn are changing rapidly with the introduction of widely accessible computer technologies, from mobile apps to interactive educational games. Digital games have the direct impact on how children learn. By embedding learning supports through the widely accredited visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic (VARK) model,  digital games can offer a flexible learning environment for large-scale education that is beyond classrooms.

Professor Wen Tang and her team at the Centre for Games and Music Technology Research have developed three fun maths games to test your maths skills in the magic game land.

Come join our math game competitions with other families and children of similar age on Saturday 8th July, 11am-4pm to indulge your gaming skills.

1 MathRun is an infinite runner game to challenge your skills in dodging pumpkins, navigating rivers, collecting treasures and earning virtual currency.  With the ‘money’ in hand,  you can dress up your character and make her your favorite avatar. 2 Magic Land is a farming game that gives you chances to sell your magic potions brewed  from your own fruits and vegetables to the wizard of oz.  You must be clever, resourceful, and most of all BE PATIENT.

3 Game number three is our mystery game to keep you in suspense.

All images are creations of the Centre for Games and Music Technology & copyright to BU.

The Release of Game Analytics Platform

The BU Game Analytics Platform (BUAP) is now made available for researchers and  developers, teams or companies to use (https://bu-games.bmth.ac.uk/home).

BUAP is an analytics platform for digital games, gamification, virtual reality (VR) and augmented applications (AR) or indeed any interactive multi-modal applications .  It is the first platform specifically designed to address the need of inter-disciplinary projects, which gives researchers and developers an easy access to powerful analytics tools without the learning curve. BUAP has been evolved from the beginning as a research project into a fully-fledged research led service product.

BUAP offers researchers and developers  an intuitive, flexible and powerful framework to evaluate various design and research aspects of their projects using a data-driven approach.  BUAP is applicable to a wider range of application:

  • Using BUAP in games and gamification apps to track users usage and engagement, effectiveness of the game structure and game mechanics
  • Using BUAP in VR and AR applications to assess Human Computer Interaction (HCI) design and evaluate the human aspect of HCI
  • AR developers can use BUAP to collect physical geolocation data
  • Research teams can use BUAP for user studies and evaluations to collect, analytics and generate comprehensive report.

BUAP has been developed by Professor Wen Tang, Victor Leach and Karsten Pedersen in the Centre for Games and Music Technology Research at Bournemouth University. Developed by researchers for researchers, BUAP’s innovation lies in bridging powerful analytic tools to everybody including all the industries.

There are a  set of unique features that separate BUAP from commercial and mainstream analytics tools.

  • BUAP provides a variety of simple drop in plugins for common programming languages (C++, C#, JavaScript, Python, Java, and Swift) and game engines (Unity and Unreal Engine 4) to aid the application development process
  • BUAP allows uploading of schema-less and nest-able documents for complex data structures to be represented without hassle. Adding additional document fields at a later date is also seamless and requires no back end changes
  • BUAP has no restrictions on data types, which mean a great flexibility for various types of projects in different disciplines
  • With all the heavy lifting being taken care of by the BUAP framework, research teams and independent developers can forget about network communication, database management and sever hosting. Data is always encrypted while traveling across the internet and researchers can be sure it stays private
  • The end user orientated design of the BUAP platform means that researchers can run experiments with ease and test different gameplay variables in no time. All developers need to do is to conduct experiments and watch the data appear on BUAP’s web interface
  • BUAP allows data exporting for people who wish to use other data visualization tools.

BUAP has been used in a number of research projects led by Professor Tang .

  • PLUS is a scenario based training system for police. We have used BUAP to collect data on playtime sessions, dialogue interactions, player actions and many more.
  • MathRun is a 3D runner game designed for 7-11 years old children to practice mental arithmetic. We are using BUAP to evaluate procedural generated math questions with children’s play experience and leaning engagement.
  • Magic Land is a 3D farming game for children to learn algebra. It is a fully functional game that implements the National Key Stage 2, Year 3 maths curriculum in England. We use BUAP to analysis the effectiveness of motivational game design patterns to engage children with algebra concepts in a fun way.

Research teams, individual developers and companies can use BUAP via different models:

  • Analytics System Only Model: If your team already has digital game or VR expertise or existing games, BUAP team can work with you on the design of game data types or even implement the data types in your applications using the BUAP API.
  • Game, VR and AR Research Collaboration Model:  If your research projects require digital game and VR expertise, the BUAP team can help with the game and VR development as well as the data analytics design and the integration with the BUAP platform.
  • Game Analytics Training Course: You can sign up our short training module to gain in depth knowledge and practical skills on how to use BUAP in your projects and the general knowledge of game analytics

For more details on research collaborations with the BUAP team, please visit https://bu-games.bmth.ac.uk/home/apply.

Festival of Learning 2017: ‘Migrant and Refugee Leisure and Well-being’ & ‘Shahre Farang: Memories made real’

Festival of Learning: Migrant and refugee leisure and wellbeing

On Saturday 8th July, as part of the Festival of Learning 2017, we invite you to join a socially-engaged art event entitled: ‘Shahre Farang: Memories made real’ organised by our community partner b-side (local art organisation). An interactive discussion session accompanies this art event, this discussion will explore ‘Migrant and refugee leisure and wellbeing’.

Both events encourage audience members to think about the places, spaces and people they can no longer visit.

Migrant and refugee leisure and wellbeing:

Existing academic research indicates that leisure activities and spaces can be positive experiences for groups and individuals who feel marginalised in society. Research findings show that migrant and refugee groups value a range of leisure, including sport, arts, culture and heritage. To date, we know very little about leisure behaviours of migrant and refugee groups living in Dorset. We will discuss these aspects more fully in this one-hour interactive session. Individuals, community groups and charities, and schools and colleges are invited to attend and contribute to this BU research project on leisure and migrant and refugee wellbeing.

Date: Saturday 8 July
Time: 11am – 12pm
Location: Talbot Campus

For more information: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/migrant-and-refugee-leisure-and-wellbeing/

Shahre Farang: Memories made real:

“If you could never return home, what would you do and where would you go if you were granted just one minute to be there?”

Iranian photographer Farhad Berahman presents the memories of 20 Iranian asylum seekers who are unable to return home. Look into the beautiful Shahre Farang (an Iranian peepbox used by wandering storytellers) and see their memories made real. Meet the artist and join in with discussion and activities led by Counterpoint Arts.

Date: Saturday 8 July
Time: 11am – 4pm
Location: Talbot Campus

For more information: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/festival-of-learning/events/shahre-farang-memories-made-real/

We look forward to welcoming you and interacting with you at our events!

Wonderful Word of Placebo: A talk by Professor Irving Kirsch

Professor Irving Kirsch is Associate Director of the Program in Placebo Studies at Harvard Medical School and is noted for his work on placebo effects, antidepressants, expectancy, hypnosis and the originator of response expectancy theory, is coming to give a talk at Bournemouth University. His influential book “The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth” was shortlisted for the 2010 Mind book of the Year award and was the central premise of a CBS 60 Minutes documentary. His work has changed how anti-depressants are prescribed in the UK. He will be giving a public lecture on the “Wonderful Word of Placebo” on Wednesday the 21st of June at 6.30pm in the Allesbrook LT. I have created an Eventbrite registration page (https://thewonderfulworldofplacebo.eventbrite.co.uk) should you want to attend this.  Professor Kirsch will also be giving a talk that will be more directly about his book on Friday the 23rd of June at 12.30pm in the Lawrence LT. The abstracts for both talks are also below.

Wonderful Word of Placebo

Wednesday 21st of June 2017 18:30 in the Allesbrook LT

Abstract

There is not just one placebo effect; there are many placebo effects. Placebo effects can be powerful or powerless depending on the color, dose, strength of the active treatment, branding, price, mode of administration, and the condition being treated. Psychological mechanisms underlying the placebo effect include Pavlovian conditioning, expectancy, and the therapeutic relationship. Because the placebo effect is a component of the response to active treatment, these mechanisms can be used to enhance treatment outcome. Also, contrary to received wisdom, placebo treatment can produce meaningful effects even when placebos are given openly without deception.

The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth

Friday 23rd of June 2017 12:30 in the Lawrence LT

Antidepressants are supposed to work by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin or norepinephrine in the brain.  However, analyses of the published and the unpublished data that were hidden by the drug companies reveal that most (if not all) of the benefits are due to the placebo effect, and the difference in improvement between drug and placebo is not clinically meaningful.   Some antidepressants increase serotonin levels, some decrease serotonin, and some have no effect at all on serotonin.  Nevertheless, they all show the same therapeutic benefit.  Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future.  Other treatments (e.g., psychotherapy and physical exercise) produce the same short-term benefits as antidepressants, show better long-term effectiveness, and do so without the side effects and health risks of the drugs.

 

Policy and political scene this week: 8 June 2017

Welcome to this week’s political scene.

Its been a relatively quiet week in policy land with the main focus on today’s general election, however, gender equality for female academics and the student academic experience survey have hit the news.

2017 Student Academic Experience Survey

The 2017 Student Academic Experience Survey results have been released. Wonkhe succinctly summarise the findings here, and there has been press coverage on the findings from the BBC, Guardian, and The Times.

In brief: teaching is perceived more positively, learning gain has been reported positively (although Wonkhe disagree), and student wellbeing remains a concern. Most interesting is the consideration of the results dissected by student residency, ethnicity and sexual orientation. Students who live at home and commute score lower on satisfaction and wellbeing than students that relocate and live in. There are also clear ethnicity differences, in particular Asian and Chinese students rate teaching staff and value for money of their degree lower; and non-straight students score lower across the board on wellbeing. As Wonkhe suggest the interplay between race, commuting, attainment, wellbeing, learning gain, part time employment, and student support may make for some interesting personalisation interventions within the sector if the data can be sufficiently interpreted.

For more detail on the findings see this week’s policy update.

 

Rankings

The QS World Rankings have been released today. Paul Greatrix writes for Wonkhe noting that while the UK still places 4 institutions in the top 10 the majority of UK HEIs have dropped lower in the rankings (including 11 of the 16 Russell Group institutions). Paul reports that QS highlight weaker research performance and reputational decline as the reason for the UK institutions ranking drop, and he anticipates further falls as the Brexit gloom descends.

Furthermore, following a complaint to the advertising watchdog Universities are carefully considering their marketing messaging around rankings position. The BBC report the University of Reading will remove their claim to be within the top 1% of the world’s universities after the watchdog stated the figure could not be substantiated and could be misleading. It remains to be seen what impact this will have on recruitment, particularly for international students.

 

Academic Gender Equality

This week the Guardian reports Patricia Fara’s (Cambridge historian) call for universities to invest more money in childcare if they want to see gender equality. The Guardian writes that childcare is the single biggest problem for female academics and cites the 2016 report from Institute of Fiscal Studies into pay inequality which found the pay gap widens steadily for 12 years after the birth of a first child, leaving women on 33% less pay per hour than men.

The topic of female academics is also picked up by HEPI this week who discuss the expectation and difficulties of mobility in relation to career progression.

 

Consultations and Inquiries

There are no new consultations or committee inquiries this week. The new parliament will convene on Tuesday 13 June.

You can read BU’s response to past consultations and inquiries here. The response to the European Commission’s Erasmus+ consultation has recently been added, read it here.

To sign up to the separate weekly general HE policy update simply email: policy@bournemouth.ac.uk

 

Sarah Carter
Policy & Public Affairs Officer