Figure: Impact map of our digital health wearables research programme developed by Dr Ana-Despina Tudor
Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor on behalf of the project team.
In our digital health wearables research programme funded by Sir Halley Stewart Trust and the ESRC Impact Acceleration Award, we have been investigating the role of wearable activity monitoring technologies in the health and well-being of people - aged 55 years and over, carers, and the people being cared for.
Activity monitoring technologies such as those from Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin, help to track activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.
We have focussed on three areas where these devices could play a role:
- in active health and ageing;
- support towards social isolation and loneliness; and
- for self-monitoring and self-management of health.
In our research programme, activity monitors were used by 21 participants in the 55-82 age range for a six-month period to track activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep. As a result of these activity monitors, participants reported a greater awareness of their physical activity, food intake, the need to pace themselves and build in adequate rest times, to diagnose and solve solutions for non-optimal sleep, and they developed a general realisation that activity monitors revealed trends that could be reported to their GPs or carers.
Furthermore, the two-year research programme has involved a number of surveys, workshops and interviews with people aged over 55 years, carers, health professionals, local charities who provide services and support to older people, carers and their families, and manufacturers of digital health wearables.
Our project partners are local charities that support older people, carers and their families in the community: Age UK Milton Keynes and Carers MK; Samsung UK; and University of Oxford.
Impact generation through knowledge exchange
We are investigating the impact of our research programme - what have been the beneficial changes, if any, as a result of our research. Since June 2017, we have been conducting a number of knowledge exchange meetings and workshops that have involved end-users of these activity monitors, manufacturers of digital health wearables and mobile health apps, digital health researchers, representatives of local charities (from Age UK MK and Carers MK), and public health practitioners from local city council, and medical educators.
We have analysed the data that we have collected in our research programme including the knowledge exchange workshops and meetings. We have used the framework of five types of impact in the book Fast track to impact by Professor Mark Reed (page 10).
We have mapped our research programme's evidence to the five types of impact in the Figure above. We explain what the five types of impact mean for our project. We have added an 'additional impact' type - called sociological impacts.
Based on the evidence, we have distinguished between the impact that we have already 'achieved' and the impact that is 'planned' or is 'expected' to happen.
We will be presenting the 'impact map' and the underlying evidence in the symposium on 16 January 2018.
In future blog-posts, we will discuss the types of impact and give concrete examples from our research programme.
Academics: Dr. Duncan Banks (OU), Dr. Kate Hamblin (Oxford University) Dr. Caroline Holland (OU), Dr. George Leeson (Oxford University) Ms. Catherine McNulty (OU), Professor Shailey Minocha (OU) and Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor (OU)
Research Managers: Louise Thomas (OU) and Katia Padvalkava (Oxford University)