Thursday, 24 September 2020

The British Geriatric Society 2020

Catch PhD Researcher is Highly Commended for their entry in the 2020 British Society of Gerontology Stirling Prize competition.


The Stirling Prize, first awarded in 2000 at the conference held at the University of Stirling, is the best poster award for all students presenting at the annual conference. Catch PhD Researcher, Sarah Abdi, is Highly Commended for her entry in the 2020 British Society of Gerontology Stirling Prize competition for best student poster at the Annual Meeting of the Society.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Computerised speech and language therapy or attention control added to usual care for people with long-term post-stroke aphasia: the Big CACTUS three-arm RCT

 Dr Rebecca Palmer announces The Big CACTUS monograph has been published in Health Technology Assessment. This is a full report of the randomised controlled trial of self managed word finding therapy on a computer. Find details of the computer therapy, study protocol, detailed results, health economic evaluation, fidelity assessment, patient and public involvement and an in depth discussion of how computer therapy can contribute to delivery of speech and language therapy for aphasia. The report also contains links to resources used throughout the study.

The study found that offering therapy on a computer increased the amount of therapy practice people with aphasia achieved as compared to that available through usual face to face care leading to significant improvements in the ability to find personally relevant words. These benefits were maintained for at least 6 months after therapy. Importantly, the study showed that people were able to improve with therapy for many years after their stroke. The study highlighted that support in addition to the computer word finding practice is needed to help people to use their new words in everyday contexts. Cost effectiveness was uncertain, but the study indicated that the computer approach is more likely to be cost effective for people with mild and moderate aphasia. We hope this study will encourage uptake of computerised therapy to increase the opportunity for people with aphasia to reach their potential.
The study was funded by the NIHR HTA programme with additional support from the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia. We would like to thank the funders, Steps Consulting Ltd who designed and produced the software, and the many speech and language therapists, people with aphasia and their carers who participated in the study from across 21 UK NHS trusts.

Please view the full report here

CATCH member’s paper recognised in BJPsych Open as one of the 20 noteworthy publications

Kaufman K. (2020) BJPsych Open fifth anniversary editorial: This editorial celebrates the journal’s fifth anniversary by reviewing the history of BJPsych Open, what has been accomplished and where they strive to go (planned trajectory).

In November 2019, the paper – Social gradients in the receipt of medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and young people in Sheffield (Nunn, S., Kritsotakis, E., Harpin, V., & Parker, J. (2020)) was published.

CATCH is delighted to announce the paper has been recognised in BJPsych Open as one of the 20 noteworthy publications of 360 accepted papers, from more than 6000 submitted manuscripts representing over 53 countries world-wide, BJPsych_Open_fifth_anniversary_editorial_history_a (1) published in the first five years of the journal.

New Publication in JMIR ‘Emerging Technologies With Potential Care and Support Applications for Older People: Review of Gray Literature’

 This review co-written by CATCH members and published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research Aging aimed to gain an overview of emerging technologies with potential care and support applications for older people, particularly for those living at home.

The number of older people with unmet care and support needs is increasing substantially due to the challenges facing the formal and informal care systems. Emerging technological developments have the potential to address some of the care and support challenges of older people. However, limited work has been done to identify emerging technological developments with the potential to meet the care and support needs of the aging population. A scoping gray literature review was carried out by using the databases of 13 key organizations, hand searching reference lists of included documents, using funding data, and consulting technology experts. A narrative synthesis approach was used to analyze and summarize the findings of the literature review. A total of 39 documents were included in the final analysis. From the analysis, 8 emerging technologies were identified that could potentially be used to meet older people’s needs in various care and support domains. These emerging technologies were (1) assistive autonomous robots; (2) self-driving vehicles; (3) artificial intelligence–enabled health smart apps and wearables; (4) new drug release mechanisms; (5) portable diagnostics; (6) voice-activated devices; (7) virtual, augmented, and mixed reality; and (8) intelligent homes. These emerging technologies were at different levels of development, with some being trialed for care applications, whereas others being in the early phases of development. However, only a few documents mentioned including older people during the process of designing and developing these technologies. This review has identified key emerging technologies with the potential to contribute to the support and care needs of older people. However, to increase the adoption of these technologies by older people, there is a need to involve them and other stakeholders, such as formal and informal carers, in the process of designing and developing these technologies.

Please find the published paper here.

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

New Publication in JMIR ‘The Use of a Smartphone App and an Activity Tracker to Promote Physical Activity in the Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study’

The feasibility study was recently published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth based on research undertaken by the CATCH team working with colleagues from the NHS and collaborating Universities.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is highly prevalent and significantly affects the daily functioning of patients. Self-management strategies, including increasing physical activity, can help people with COPD have better health and a better quality of life. Digital mobile health (mHealth) techniques have the potential to aid the delivery of self-management interventions for COPD. We developed an mHealth intervention (Self-Management supported by Assistive, Rehabilitative, and Telehealth technologies-COPD [SMART-COPD]), delivered via a smartphone app and an activity tracker, to help people with COPD maintain (or increase) physical activity after undertaking pulmonary rehabilitation (PR).

This study aimed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of using the SMART-COPD intervention for the self-management of physical activity and to explore the feasibility of conducting a future randomized controlled trial (RCT) to investigate its effectiveness.

mHealth shows promise in helping people with COPD self-manage their physical activity levels. mHealth interventions for COPD self-management may be more acceptable to people with prior experience of using digital technology and may be more beneficial if used at an earlier stage of COPD. Simplicity and usability were more important for engagement with the SMART-COPD intervention than personalization; therefore, the intervention should be simplified for future use.

Please find the published paper here

Spotlight on Telemedicine in ongoing Heart Failure Care

Professor Mark Hawley has contributed to a new policy paper, 'Telemedicine in ongoing Heart Failure Care', from the Heart Failure Policy Network.

There is a need for innovation in ongoing heart failure (HF) care, as traditional models have not been able to fully address the challenges of HF management. Telemedicine seems to be able to support HF care and help address some of the challenges of traditional models. Despite reported benefits, there are many barriers to the wider adoption of telemedicine in HF. The need for new infrastructure and accountability protocols has also been a barrier to the wide adoption of telemedicine. Reimbursement is another significant challenge in the development and implementation of telemedicine services in HF. There are clear actions that can be taken to support the development and implementation of telemedicine services for HF care in Europe.

Please find the full paper here

Publication: ‘Usability, Acceptability, and Effectiveness of Web-Based Conversational Agents to Facilitate Problem Solving in Older Adults: Controlled Study’

Our colleagues at the University of Sheffield have released a new publication in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The results of the study support the potential of chatbots to deliver psychotherapy during Covid-19 and to play a key role in helping people with issues around their health and wellbeing.

The usability and effectiveness of conversational agents (chatbots) that deliver psychological therapies is under-researched. This study aimed to compare the system usability, acceptability, and effectiveness in older adults of two Web-based conversational agents that differ in theoretical orientation and approach.

In a randomized study, 112 older adults were allocated to one of the following two fully automated interventions: Manage Your Life Online (MYLO; ie, a chatbot that mimics a therapist using a method of levels approach) and ELIZA (a chatbot that mimics a therapist using a humanistic counseling approach). The primary outcome was problem distress and resolution, with secondary outcome measures of system usability and clinical outcome.

MYLO participants spent significantly longer interacting with the conversational agent. Posthoc tests indicated that MYLO participants had significantly lower problem distress at follow-up. There were no differences between MYLO and ELIZA in terms of problem resolution. MYLO was rated as significantly more helpful and likely to be used again. System usability of both the conversational agents was associated with helpfulness of the agents and the willingness of the participants to reuse. Adherence was high. A total of 12% (7/59) of the MYLO group did not carry out their conversation with the chatbot.

The paper concludes that controlled studies of chatbots need to be conducted in clinical populations across different age groups and discusses the potential integration of chatbots into psychological care in routine services.

Read the full study here.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Published Article on Taylor & Francis Online: Dimensions of invisibility - insights into the daily realities of persons with disabilities living in rural communities in India


Professor Luc de Witte's article has been published on Taylor & Francis Online, Open Access and will be assigned to the latest issue of Disability & Society.

Persons with disabilities in rural India do not have the opportunity to lead a self-determined life and be included in their community as required by the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. To investigate their experience of living everyday life and the amount of agency they are able to exercise, in-depth interviews were undertaken. The Capability Approach (CA) was used to analyse the situation that was seen in terms of outcome of the interplay between internal and external factors resulting in loss of agency. The results show that the dependency they experience due to lack of adequate support to undertake activities and being completely dependent on the family places them in a vicious circle of ‘self-worthlessness’. Reducing the dependency disabled people face and changing perceptions of the community towards disability may break this circle.

Please find the full article here.

The Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organizations


CATCH Professor Luc de Witte appointed as President of GAATO: The Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organizations.

GAATO is a non-profit association of legally established membership organisations dedicated to furthering the advancement of Assistive Technology around the world. Their mission is to advance the field of assistive technology (AT) and rehabilitation engineering (RE) to benefit people with disabilities and functional limitations of all ages. As global alliance members they are committed to working towards equitable and reliable access to assistive technology through research, policy advocacy, educating people and organisations.

The GAATO wesbite has just launched and can be viewed here.

Stepping Out to Save Lives

A successful project and collaboration between the University of Sheffield and the Community Health Division of Bangalore Baptist Hospital.

The Community Health Division of Bangalore Baptist Hospital has been serving the underprivileged since it's inception and extends it's services to 1,065 villages and rural districts in Bangalore including slums. In collaboration with the University of Sheffield, the Community Health Division has been working with local women in the communities to train and empower them to help look after the health of their communities. The women, known as Health Navigators, have taken healthcare to the doorstep of their communities and become the interface between their communities and Bangalore Baptist Hospital. Whilst Government Services closed, the Health Navigators have continued through Covid19 and have helped in preventing heart attacks, strokes and early death through the regular blood pressure checks they provide to members of their community.

This is a great example of a successful and rewarding project undertaken by Professor Luc de Witte at the University of Sheffield. Please watch the full video here.