Dr JESSICA BUTLER

Dr JESSICA BUTLER

Research Fellow

Overview
Dr JESSICA BUTLER
Dr JESSICA BUTLER

Contact Details

Telephone
work +44 (0)1224 437219
Email
Address
The University of Aberdeen Room 1:172, Polwarth Building
Institute of Applied Health Science
University of Aberdeen
Foresterhill
Aberdeen
AB25 2ZD
Web Links

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Biography

I came to the University of Aberdeen in 2015 to join the team at the Centre for Health Data Science.

I study the origins of chronic disease by building large longitudinal cohorts using NHS and government records. I also work with National Data Safe Havens designing reproducible and transparent methods for research using high-security patient data.

My first projects here were on the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s. The Children of the 1950s were the last generation assigned to secondary school based on an exam score from age 11. We collected 20 years of hospital admissions for 5000 study members to see if selective schooling effected long-term health. You can see the registered report of our regression discontinuity analysis here.

My current research uses health care records to study the diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia as part of the PACFIND project. We are linking 15 years of patients' clinic visits, hospital admissions, and prescribing data to detailed personal surveys. We are also trying to identify undiagnosed fibromyalgia patients from GP records. The goal of this work is to map the complicated health care journeys fibromyalgia patients have to find ways to improve treatment.

I’m originally from rural Pennsylvania in the United States. I have a PhD from the University of Massachusetts and a BSc from Brown University, with a background in genomics and bioinformatics. You can read my papers on electron transfer in bacteria here. Before I came to Aberdeen I spent a few years living in Oxford and Barcelona with a philosopher.

I'm very interested in open and reproducible research practice and in public engagement. I'm the local lead for the UK Reproducibility Network here in Aberdeen, and run the Open Research Working Group. All students and staff are welcome to join - just drop me an email.

I also advocate for research staff as part of the University Postdoctoral Research Committee and for gender equality as part of the Athena SWAN team.

Resources

Open Science

Health Data Research UK Summer School presentation

A manifesto for reproducible science - good introduction to open science practice

Preregistration templates for studies

Registered Reports - a rigorous way to publish (get a paper accepted before you see the data)

FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management - basics of transparency

Good enough practices in scientific computing - project organisation for reproducibility

Blind analysis - to prevent bias

The Turing Way - guide to reproducible science (strong on code testing and review)

Reporting guidelines (see also TOP guidelines summary table)

Requiring journals to publish replication studies

Persistent Identifiers: ORCID for researchers, DOI for data sets and manuscripts

BiorXiv - preprint server for manuscripts

Stats and Errors

Statistical tests, P values, confidence intervals, and power - a guide to misinterpretations

Statistical Errors in the Medical Literature

Communicating results about treatment effects - very useful guide on reporting significance

Smallest effect size of interest

Common statistical tests are linear models - elegant way of thinking about stats tests

STRATOS - guidance in the design and analysis of observational studies

Using R

Data Skills for Reproducible Science - course on data wrangling, iteration, simulation, workflows

Stats545 - another good course on data skills for reproducible science

R for Data Science - very useful textbook

R best practices - basic project setup, links to additional resources

Further Reading

Course Syllabi for Open and Reproducible Methods - excellent source for additional references

Research & case studies on benefits of open science

Reproducibility Bibliography - extensive references focused on guidelines and examples

Peer Support

UK Network of Open Research Working Groups (also slides from national meeting)

ReproducibiliTea journal clubs around the world

Twitter has an active and supportive Open Science community - check out the networks around @OSFramework, @UKRN, @OpenSciUtrecht, @ReproducibiliT

Open science is really scary y'all

 

Research

Current Research

Chronic Pain

Fibromyalgia is a common condition causing widespread chronic pain, associated with profound fatigue and marked sleep disturbance. Diagnosis and management are complex. People can wait up to ten years for a diagnosis, involving many general practice consultations and referral to a number to different specialists. While there is considerable evidence on effective treatments, most individuals with fibromyalgia are not receiving timely diagnosis or access to effective treatments. There is almost no evidence on how to organise health services to deliver recommended therapies. Patients feel dissatisfied with current services believing that no-one is willing to take responsibility for their care.

As part of the PACFiND project on Patient-centred Care of Fibromyalgia, we want to provide better services for people with fibromyalgia which ensure:

  • Timely diagnosis
  • Equitable access to effective treatments
  • Higher levels of patient satisfaction
  • Reduced costs to the NHS

Our work aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the patient journey and identify patterns of healthcare use using data linkage to map the patients’ healthcare journey. We aim to understand what happens to people who have fibromyalgia in terms of their consultations, referrals, time to diagnosis, and treatments received.

Healthy Ageing

Aberdeen Children of the 1950s is an established population-based birth cohort that includes everyone born in Aberdeen (1950-1955) who went to primary school there; 12,150 people in total.

ACONF pioneered linkage to health and administrative data, starting in 1962 with linkages to the Maternal and Neonatal Databank, education, and census databases. ACONF now permanently holds a uniquely rich set of early-life data for people over 60, including:

  • Health data from pregnancy, birth, and primary school records
  • Cognitive testing at 7, 9, 11 and personality assessments
  • Socioeconomic data for participants, parents and grandparents, including home value, crowding, amenities and home culture
  • Social network data for friendship and families
  • Qualitative interviews from 1960s and 1980s and recent in-depth life histories

 Since 2015, we have successfully demonstrated comprehensive data linkages for ACONF, creating 20 years of virtual follow-up through project-specific linkages to:

  • Hospital admissions
  • Mental health admissions
  • Maternity admissions
  • Cancer registries
  • Community prescribing
  • In-patient and out-patient biochemistry
  • Deaths

In the past fifteen years, the information collected on the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s has been used in many scientific studies with active collaborators across the UK, Hong Kong, Brazil, India, and Australia. The rise and decline of fishing and oil industries occurred during ACONF’s lives and provide important comparators for global development. Several studies have analysed the effects of being born into poverty and demonstrated the impact this has on our health throughout life. Other studies have looked into causes of common illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, and taught us how important health during pregnancy and early life are for our wellbeing in adulthood. Since 2015, we have worked with cohort participants, the NHS, and the local authority to prioritise research directions.

Collaborations

I work as part of the Aberdeen Centre for Health Data Science and Chronic Disease Research Group teams.

Our research on chronic pain is done as part of the Patient-centred Care of Fibromyalgia (PACFiND) consortium, with the Grampian Data Safe Haven in Scotland and the SAIL Databank in Wales.

Our research on the Aberdeen Birth Cohorts is done through the Administrative Data Research Centre - Scotland.

We're also part of Health Data Research UK.

Projects using the Aberdeen Birth Cohort include
Generation Scotland
Stratifying Resilience Against Depression
Dementias Platform UK

Research Grants

Our research on chronic pain is supported by a £1,200,000 grant from Arthritis Research UK

Our research on the Aberdeen Birth Cohorts is part of a £7,500,000 grant from the ESRC devoted to the analysis of large administrative data sets.

Our public engagement work is supported by the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation.

Further Info

External Responsibilities

I'm the local lead for the UK Reproducibility Network at the University of Aberdeen.

I'm also the Open Science Champion at the Centre for Health Data Science, a partnership with NHS Grampian and NHS Research & Development North Node.

Admin Responsibilities

I run the Open Research Working Group. All students and staff are very welcome to join - just drop me an email.

I also advocate for research staff as part of the University Postdoctoral Research Committee and for gender equality as part of the Athena SWAN team.

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