Like other workplaces we've had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes adapting our research priorities. Here we highlight some of our current and recent work related to the pandemic.

Our research response to COVID-19

Reflecting on the first year of COVID

Our HERU Blog post in March 2020 featured the reflections of HERU Director, Mandy Ryan, on our research over one year of the COVID-19 pandemic. The post looked at the relevance of our research to COVID-19 and highlighted how our research activity had responded to the pandemic.

Further information

HERU Blog post, 31st March 2021, Reflections on a year like no other.

Lives and livelihoods: public preferences for government reponses

The ‘Lives and livelihoods’ project is examining public preferences, and the trade-offs people are willing to make, around government public health responses to a pandemic. Actions taken to restrict transmission of the virus have impacted on people's physical and mental health and have also had, sometimes profound, economic consequences.

The project is using a discrete choice experiment to reveal preferences around the type and the duration of public health lockdowns, the impact on the health service, the number of infections and excess deaths tolerated and the impact on household spending and job losses. The project is also exploring if respondents’ preferences differ based on moral attitudes, demography, socioeconomic circumstances, health status, country of residence, or experience of COVID-19. Preference data has been collected using an online survey of 4000 individuals from across the four UK countries.

Further information

Genie, M.G.Loría-Rebolledo, L.E., Paranjothy, S., Powell, D., Ryan, M.Sakowsky, R. A. and Watson, V. (2020) 'Understanding public preferences and trade-offs for government responses during a pandemic: a protocol for a discrete choice experiment in the UK', BMJ Open, 10(11), e043477.

HERU Blog post, 12 May 2021, Lives, livelihoods and lockdowns: the public's views on the COVID-19 lockdowns.

HERU website project page, Lives and livelihoods: understanding public preferences and trade-offs for government responses during a pandemic

Predicting hesitancy and uptake for COVID-19 vaccination in France and Scotland

The easing of conditions to restrict the transmission of coronavirus is tied to the success of the mass vaccination programme. We are using a discrete choice experiment (DCE) survey to assess population preferences for a range of attributes that differentiate possible vaccines. We will estimate the relative importance of different aspects of vaccines, and the trade-offs people are willing to make between these. We will specify a model of vaccine uptake that accounts for and models the determinants of vaccine hesitancy. Our study is taking place amongst participants in France and in Scotland.

Further information

Schwarzinger, M., Watson, V., Arwidson, P., Alla, F. and Luchini, S. (2021) 'COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in a representative working-age population in France: a survey experiment based on vaccine characteristics', The Lancet Public Health, 6(4), E210-E221.

HERU website project page, Predicting hesitancy and uptake for COVID-19 vaccination in France and Scotland.

Exploring remote patient public involvement and engagement in health and social care research

Patient public involvement and engagement (PPIE) in research can lay the groundwork for improving healthcare and services for all. This is especially the case for disadvantaged groups. The study, led by Dr Lucy Frith at the University of Liverpool and involving Verity Watson and Luis Loría-Rebolledo from HERU, has been prompted by the shift to remote, non-face-to-face, forms of working in PPIE brought on by COVID-19 prevention measures. This is a mixed-methods study with surveys, qualitative interviews, and a discrete choice experiment and will produce an analysis of how remote working in PPIE is affected by socio-economic and health inequalities. We will also make recommendations for improving practice and develop training packages.

Further information

HERU website project page, Exploring remote working practices for patient public involvement and engagement in health and social care research: responding to COVID-19 and rising health inequalities.

Lived experience of long term COVID-19 on NHS workers in health care settings in Scotland

This study aims to establish the nature and extent, and lived experiences, of Long COVID on the health and well-being of a self-identified cohort of professional and ancillary staff in NHS Scotland. The study is funded by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) and Diane Skåtun of HERU is working on the project alongside colleagues from Robert Gordon University and the University of St Andrews. A longitudinal mixed-methods approach is being employed and the findings will help to inform policy, practice and research recommendations, including NHS workforce planning needs.

Further information

Chief Scientist Office website, Lived experience of long term COVID-19 on NHS workers in health care settings in Scotland: a longitudinal mixed methods study. (COV/LTE/20/3)

Feasibility of telemedicine self-assessment for vulnerable remote and rural patients

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an upsurge in telephone and video consultations in primary care. Often known as ‘telemedicine’, the use of technology to consult with patients has enabled service provision during the pandemic and is likely to remain a feature of healthcare even as restrictions are relaxed.

HERU are involved in a project, funded by NHS Grampian Research & Development Endowments, to assess the feasibility of providing medically vulnerable rural patients with Medical-Self-Assessment-Boxes. The boxes contain equipment for patients to self-measure and report key clinical measurements, for example, blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen levels. This will be done at home during telephone and video consultations with GPs and other healthcare professionals.  

The research will assess practical issues around issuing and using the equipment, and methods of measuring effectiveness. The knowledge gained will help develop a funding proposal to evaluate Medical-Self Assessment-Boxes for medically vulnerable rural patients across the whole of the UK.

Further information

HERU website project page, ORCHARD - Optimising Remote Consulting and Home Assessment of medically vulnerable Rural patients During unscheduled and planned primary care.