Thursday, 4 June 2020

NUI Galway Online Seminar to Address Impact of COVID-19 on Universities

Presidents from NUI Galway, University of Bristol, University of St. Andrews, and Uppsala University will discuss the way forward for higher education during the crisis and its aftermath NUI Galway will host an online seminar to address the issues faced by universities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The seminar, ‘Universities and the COVID-19 Crisis: Problems, Prospects and Pathways’, will take place on Thursday, 11 June at 4.30pm. Immense challenges face universities as a result of COVID-19. Teaching missions have been complicated by the move to online instruction, with uncertainties about whether campus opening will be possible, requirements around social distancing, and how to engage new and existing students. The financial position of institutions is under threat due to reliance on international students to fund the system and reduced income generally. At the same time, universities are a source of vital research on the pandemic as society as a whole looks for a solution and plans for the future. This online seminar brings together leaders of four major universities: NUI Galway; University of Bristol, UK; University of St. Andrews, Scotland; and Uppsala University, Sweden, to discuss these challenges. It is a rare opportunity to hear from people in charge of diverse institutions about their approaches and the way forward for higher education during the crisis and its aftermath. The session features contributions from internationally recognised authorities: Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, President, NUI Galway Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol, UK Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St. Andrews, Scotland Professor Eva Åkesson, Rector, Uppsala University, Sweden Professor Daniel Carey, Director of the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, has convened the session which will address university staff members, students, alumni and the public. Speaking about the importance of the occasion, Professor Carey said: “This is a unique moment for higher education, with huge risks but also the chance to make a difference and to find new ways to teach, research, and address social challenges. Leaders based in four different countries will provide perspectives on problems and pathways during the current crisis.” To attend the online Zoom seminar visit https://bit.ly/2BrffhP. -Ends-


News Archive

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The cardiology team at Galway University Hospitals (GUH) and NUI Galway researchers have carried out a first-in-man clinical trial for a sensor which detects changes in the health of patients with heart failure and securely transmits the information to the care team for review, allowing for clinical intervention to prevent a heart failure flare-up resulting in urgent hospitalisation. This technology is particularly relevant now during restricted movements when patients with underlying conditions are cocooning to minimise the chances of contracting COVID-19. Over the past 18 months, seven patients with advanced heart failure have had a Cordella Sensor implanted in their right pulmonary artery to monitor their heart pressure. Using a secure cloud-based system, the physiological data from the sensor can be read daily by the clinical team in the hospital who can identify if there is a change in the patients’ condition and modify their medication and make other decisions on their care. Dr Faisal Sharif, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH and Director of Cardiovascular Research and Innovation Centre at NUI Galway is the lead for the clinical trial. He said, “Patients with advanced heart failure usually have 3 or 4 hospital admissions per year with each stay lasting between 2 and 3 weeks in order to get their flare-up under control. However, there are changes in the pressure of the pulmonary artery around a week before a flare-up and if these changes are detected in time, myself or my colleague Dr John Barton can make changes to the patients’ medication which will prevent the flare-up and the subsequent hospital admission. “To monitor the pressure in the pulmonary artery we insert a tiny sensor into the artery – it is a simple procedure that just requires an overnight in hospital. We can then receive the data from the patients when they are at home via a hand-held reader which they hold over the sensor and this in turns transmits the information directly to our clinic by wifi. “In addition, the Cordella System includes Bluetooth-enabled devices to measure blood pressure, weight, heart rate and oxygen saturation which all connect to our clinic. We then have all the data we need to assess the patient without the patient having to leave home. “Since the clinical trial started 18 months ago, none of the patients who have taken part have been admitted to hospital with heart-related illnesses. Also, they no longer need to travel to outpatient clinics which would typically involve 6 or 8 visits per year. This greatly improves the quality of life for our patients and during this time of cocooning, it is one less worry for them. “Besides the convenience of being able to check their condition at home, this new technology allows the patient to become actively involved in their treatment. The patients become part of the team and are empowered and motivated to get involved in managing their own care themselves.” John O’Connor, a patient from Galway City said, “This technology gives me peace of mind that my heart pressures are being monitored constantly by hospital staff without the need for me to go into the hospital. Since I’ve had the sensor I’ve had no hospital admissions for almost two years. I would highly recommend this to other patients.” Dr Pat Nash, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH and Chief Clinical Director, Saolta University Health Care Group added, “This pandemic is forcing us to look at new and innovative ways to deliver high quality care to our patients while also taking precautions against the risks that are associated with close contact that is the normal part of a clinical examination. The success of this clinical trial can be measured in the improvements in the patients’ quality of life, the dramatic reduction in the need for hospitalisation and the enhanced role that the patients are able to play in their own care. All of these successes are even more significant in light of the current public health measures and the need to protect patients with long-term underlying conditions.” Ms Chris Kane, General Manager, Galway University Hospitals said, “As we continue to contend with the challenges of resuming to a new-normal, we will need to embrace technology where it is appropriate for the clinical setting and our patients. This is an excellent example of providing quality care in a patient’s own home environment to a level as close as possible to a hospital visit.” The second phase of the clinical trial has just commenced and is open for patients with heart failure, who meet certain criteria and are being treated at the Heart Failure Clinic in GUH. The technology has been developed by a US-based company called Endotronix. The trial has been running simultaneously in Ireland and Genk, Belgium. Ends

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

A lecture series at the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway featuring new Professors in the College, will continue with an online lecture, which will be facilitated by the Moore Institute, by Personal Professor in the School of Psychology, Professor AnnMarie Groarke, on Thursday, 11 June at 2pm. In her talk titled ‘What Enhances or Hinders Psychological Adjustment to Chronic Illness for women and men? A programme of research’ Professor Groarke will share findings from her programme of research on psychological adjustment in patients with cancer and arthritis. Given individual variability in response to diagnosis and treatment of illness the focus of this research has been to identify factors that enhance or disrupt adaptation. Specifically, it highlights the importance of stress appraisal and stress management on quality of life. Coping strategies, illness beliefs and psychological protective attributes that are useful and adaptive are also identified. While diagnosis of serious illness is associated with emotional distress, positive psychological change can also occur in the aftermath of highly stressful events. Some findings on when and why this post-traumatic growth might occur for women with breast cancer will be discussed. The potential impact of prostate cancer and its treatment on men’s sense of manhood and identity is also a focus of interest. Implications for patient care and self-management will be considered. Dr Seán Crosson, Vice-Dean for Research in the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to continue this lecture series which provides a great opportunity for the University to make the general public more aware of the world-leading innovative research and practice being undertaken in the college. This is the tenth speaker in the series which has featured contributions to date in the areas of social policy, education, political thought, online therapies, language transmission, folk song traditions in Irish, historical research, behavioural psychology, and modern Irish literature. We are honoured to now feature Professor Groarke in the series, an academic whose research, particularly with regard to the psychological adjustment to illness, has brought significant advances for patients, including through the development of cognitive-behavioural stress management programmes.” Register for this online Lecture at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_808oOsxkRp-PX2PqL8NBcw This lecture will also be streamed live via the Moore Institute Facebook page at https://facebook.com/mooreinstitute/live -Ends-  

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

<>Light shed on the emerging problem of ‘Cyberchondria’ Advice for social media users and service providers on how to curb the spreading of COVID-19 misinformation A study carried out by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway has examined the triggers leading people to share COVID-19 misinformation through social media. Defined as “false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive” misinformation poses a serious threat to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid spreading of such misinformation is amplified by social media and could result in the lack of adherence to recommended public health measures, or engagement in non-recommended behaviours. For example, one article claiming Sweden, where lockdown measures were not implemented, is experiencing low death rates has been shared over 20,000 times on Facebook.  The truth is that Sweden has a death toll of over 4,000, a much higher figure than the combined toll of Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Norway, which have implemented stricter lockdown measures and have recorded fewer than 1,000 deaths between them. While social media can be a useful tool for staying informed on the COVID-19 crisis, the study finds that when people become overloaded with social media content, their ability to critically assess the validity of the information received is impaired. The result is that trust in the unverified information remains high, and they are more likely to share that content throughout their social network, which ultimately exacerbates the COVID-19 misinformation problem. The study also sheds light on the emerging problem of ‘cyberchondria’ - the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomology based on review of search results and literature online. The data shows when people attribute a higher severity and susceptibility to COVID-19, they spend more time searching online for COVID-19 symptoms, which amplifies the stress and anxiety experienced because of cyberchondria. Co-author of the study, Dr Eoin Whelan, Senior Lecturer in Business Information Systems, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, said: “While misinformation is not a new problem, the quantity and dissemination of misinformation has grown exponentially due to the ubiquity of social media. We have already seen the impact misinformation spreading through social media can have in political elections. Now, we are witnessing its harmful effects on public health in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our study suggests when people become overloaded with social media content, they are not only more likely to believe unverified COVID-19 information, but will further contribute to the problem by spreading the misinformation onto others.” The study also explains how social media companies can use these findings to help curtail the problem of COVID-19 misinformation. “Social media companies have a significant role to play in curbing COVID-19 misinformation. WhatsApp has already introduced restrictions on the forwarding of messages containing COVID-19 related information, while Google directs people searching for COVID-19 related information to trusted websites. Our findings suggest that if social media companies also restrict the amount of COVID-19 specific information people are exposed to, this would be effective in curbing the misinformation and cyberchondria problems identified in our study. Additionally, health organisations can use our findings to educate social media users to consume content in a sustainable manner and thus avoid these problems”, says Dr Whelan. A copy of the full study, published in the journal European Journal of Information Systems, is available on request.  The research was based on 294 people who use social media on a daily basis.  It was authored by Dr Whelan with Samuli Laato and Najmul Islam of the University of Turku, Finland. -Ends-


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