Researching Healthcare Availability for Probation Clients: An Illustration of Methodological Challenges and Lessons in Surveying Organisations

UoL CoSS H&SC, Probation

This article critically reflects on the methodological approach used in a multi-method study of healthcare provision for probation service clients in England. The study involved gathering data from a range of large criminal justice and health organisations. Drawing on the literature and using learning from this study as an example, we address two central questions which evolved during the research: why was it more difficult to gain access in some organisations than others, and what methodological strategies might best improve engagement with research in the future? We discuss gatekeeping, and the impact of organisational resources, culture, responsibilities, change and objectives on engagement with research. We make recommendations for future methodological approaches to address these challenges, which are relevant to researchers in any discipline trying to engage organisations in research.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Coral Sirdifield, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

David Denney, University of London, Royal Holloway, School of Law

Rebecca Marples, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Charlie Brooker, University of London, Royal Holloway, School of Law


 

Peer Review – an outsider’s perspective

Frances Pearson, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, Senior Research Officer

I’m writing the first Professional Services contribution to our College of Social Science Research Blog on the subject of Peer Review, given that we are participating in Peer Review Week 2019!

I joined the university in March 2019. When applying for my current role, I had to answer a question around the consequences of inaccuracies in applications for research funding and how I could help prevent such inaccuracies. Without any direct experience in administrating or managing the process of applying for research grant funding, I had to draw upon other experiences that I had which related to improving and sustaining high quality service delivery and outputs.

A significant part of my answer was peer review, without being aware of the existing process in place at the time. This was based upon my experience facilitating and conducting quarterly preparation for yearly service audits in a previous role. Delivering commissioned services meant that yearly audits were in place across a number of my services, and that it was in everyone’s best interests to be prepared for them. I managed this by a quarterly timetable of peer led service audits, which gave managers the chance to learn and develop based upon observations of best practice and highlighting areas for improvement within their colleague’s services.

Obviously these peer audits were not easy. They took time and could feel exposing and always resulted in action plans for service improvements. However, they meant that when the people responsible for funding our services came to audit our services each year, there were no nasty surprises and ultimately we continued to get funding and everyone kept their jobs!

What I am trying to get at is that the concept of peer review is one that is consistent with maintaining high quality in a service or project, and ultimately convincing other people that funding the work you do is worth them parting with their money. It is recognised and employed in a range of sectors and for good reason.

After 6 months at the University I’ve been party to many discussions around the peer review of grant applications. It is a process which can be complex and difficult, but the benefits highlighted by academic colleagues far seem to outweigh these difficulties.

The quality of a review is so important. Putting a grant application together is a difficult and time consuming process, before even getting to submitting and worrying about the outcome. Receiving a review which clearly benefits from time and consideration, evidenced through comprehensive and specific observations and ideas for development is one of the most valuable pieces of input a grant application and prospective PI can have. Being open to this feedback can reassure a PI that they are not alone in this process, that they can count on help and support from their colleagues.

Giving a peer review provides an opportunity to reflect upon the content of a grant application, to identify areas of good practice and to develop critical skills which can then be put to use writing grant applications. For those in the early stages of their career particularly, having the opportunity to read and comment upon an application for funding is a valuable learning tool.

At the other end of the process, once a research project is completed and outputs are being put forward for publication, they will be peer reviewed. It makes sense that at the very beginning of this journey, feedback would be sought in the same way; in part to ensure that the outputs had as solid a foundation as possible.

The process takes all of those involved out of their comfort zone; and it should. Walking a difficult path with your colleagues – and the opportunity to go back and re-trace your steps – before a funding decision is far more preferable than doing so alone; reflecting upon the steps you have taken after the decision to fund or not fund a proposal has been taken.

 

Happy Wife, Happy Life

Prof Steve McKay, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, School of Social and Political Science, UoL CoSS research

New analysis of data from up to 13,000 UK families show that a mum’s level of happiness has a direct effect on her children’s mental health, the stability of her relationship with the children’s father, and her closeness to her children when teenagers.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Harry Benson, Research Director for Marriage Foundation

Steve McKay, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences


 

Chain Reaction: Critical Theory Needs Critical Mass—Contradiction, Crisis and the Value-Form, Mike Neary

Prof Mike NEary, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, School of Social and Political Sciences UoL CoSS research Marx

Krystian Szadkowski and Jakub Krzeski have written a significant paper, In, Against and Beyond: A Marxist Critique for Higher Education in Crisis (2019), setting out a critical framework ‘to render visible what lies beyond the current form of higher education’ (1). Their critical framework attempts to reveal the trigger for ‘a chain reaction’, setting off a process for the ‘radical transformation of higher education and the way in which knowledge is produced and disseminated’. The purpose of their critique is to “bring about self-ruled, democratically organised global, national and local networks of co-operation in science’ and realise ‘a future free from capitalist domination’.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Mike Neary, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences


Taxonomy of the form and function of primary care services in or alongside emergency departments: concepts paper

Prof Niro Siriwardena, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, School of Health and Social Care, Director of Community and Health Research Unit, UoL CoSS research CaHRU

Worldwide, increasing pressure on emergency departments from rising demand,has led to much interest in different models of service delivery, including the use of primary care services in or alongside emergency departments. However, the way these primary care services look and operate varies depending on local context and whether they are required to operate closer to an emergency medicine service or to usual primary care. Research to evaluate the effectiveness of different service models (including patient experience, service and cost-effectiveness outcomes) is hampered by inconsistent terminology, outdated taxonomies and heterogeneous, single-site study designs. This limits the opportunity for data synthesis to draw conclusions that will inform decision-making and policy.Research is urgently needed to understand if the form these services take supports the intended function, and requires an updated taxonomy to enable comparison of models and outcomes.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Alison Cooper, Cardiff University, School of Medicine

Michelle Edwards, Cardiff University, School of Medicine

Janet Brandling, University of the West of England, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences,

Andrew Carson-Stevens, Cardiff University, School of Medicine

Matthew Cooke, University of Warwick, Warwick Medical School

Freya Davies, Cardiff University, School of Medicine

Thomas Hughes, John Radcliffe Hospital, Emergency Department

Katherin Morton, University of the West of England, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences,

Niro Siriwardena, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Sarah Voss, University of the West of England, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences,

Jonathon Benger, University of the West of England, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences,

Adrian Edwards, Cardiff University, School of Medicine


Film and Identity in Kazakhstan Soviet and Post-Soviet Culture in Central Asia (podcast)

Dr Rico Isaacs, University of Lincoln, College of Social Science, School of Social and Political Sciences UoL CoSS Research

In Film and Identity in Kazakhstan: Soviet and Post-Soviet Culture in Central Asia (I.B. Tauris, 2018), Rico Isaacs uses cinema as an analytical tool to demonstrate the constructed and contested nature of Kazakh national identity. By first tracing the evolution of Kazakh national identity formation and then analyzing data from individual interviews and the Kazakh films themselves, Isaacs demonstrates the multiple ways that Kazakh national identity has been cast and interpreted, both past and present. This book is essential reading for scholars of Central Asia, nationalisms and national identity, or those with a broader interest in film, Central Asia, or the study of nation building.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Dr Rico Isaacs, University of Lincoln, School of Social and Political Sciences


 

Nima Moghaddam Publishes New Article with NIHR Collaborators

Objective: Routine outcome monitoring (ROM) is a well-evidenced means of improving psychotherapy’s effectiveness. However, it is unclear how meaningful ROM is for problems that span physical and mental health, such as severe health anxiety. Physical and mental health comorbidities are common amongst severe health anxiety sufferers and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a recommended treatment.

Method: Seventy-nine participants received CBT for severe health anxiety in a clinical trial. The Outcome Rating Scale (ORS: a ROM assessment of wellbeing) was completed at each session. Multilevel modeling assessed whether last-session ORS predicted health anxiety and other outcomes over 12-month follow-up. Similar models were developed using health anxiety as a comparative outcome-predictor. Outcome-improvements of treatment-responders with sudden gains were compared to those of non-sudden-gainers.

Results: Last-session ORS scores predicted all outcomes up to 12 months later, with a comparable predictive effect to health anxiety. Sudden-gainers on the ORS reported significantly greater improvement in depression, functioning, and wellbeing, but no difference in health anxiety or other measures.

Conclusion: The ORS may be a feasible, overall estimate of health, functioning, and quality of life in psychotherapy for severe health anxiety. Sudden gains on the ORS may be clinically meaningful with respect to some long-term outcomes.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Nima Moghaddam, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology

Richard Moriss, University of Nottingham, Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology

Thomas Schröder, University of Nottingham, Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology


 

No Pets Allowed? Companion Animals, Older People and Residential Care

Prof Mo Ray, University of Lincoln, College of Social science, School of Health and Social Care, UoL CoSS Research

This article is concerned with a particular site of inter-species relationships. Using the lens of liminality, it examines forced separation of older people from their companion animals when they move to a residential or nursing home in the UK. Such residential spaces frequently either exclude companion animals or fail to make adequate provision for them to accompany their owners. We see such separation as a major bereavement for an older person at a stage of life when they experience significant other losses, and suggest it is often experienced as akin to the loss of a family member. We deploy vulnerability theory to argue that exclusion of companion animals from care spaces exemplifies a failure to understand the relational vulnerabilities of older age and the significance of animal companionship in mitigating those vulnerabilities. Equally, such separation fails to recognise the implications for excluded animals who can end up in unsuitable homes, being signed over to already over-stretched animal rescues or euthanised. Vulnerability theory highlights how companion species are always already vulnerable given their liminal position between person and property, while older people are rendered particularly vulnerable in the ‘liminal zone’ of the care home, denied the ability to shape their environment, control their private space or form/sustain relationships of their own choosing. The article explores the potential of law to respond to and mitigate these shared vulnerabilities, suggesting that human rights arguments grounded in shared vulnerability may be invoked to argue for a definition of the family to recognise the significance of the human-animal relationship. We draw on the reasoning in a recent Court of Protection case which hints at law’s ability to recognise the value of interspecies relations and their role in sustaining health and wellbeing, and the ability to live well in old age.


University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Marie Fox, University of Liverpool, School of Law and Social Justice

Mo Ray, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care