Paper accepted in Nature Scientific Reports

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After two years of collaboration with Dr Yeo from VCU , our work in swallowing sensing with skin-like electronics is finally accepted for publication in Scientific Reports, an open access Nature journal.  More information about the project can be found here.

We are currently working on a second project on wireless chewing monitoring through a mobile app! Watch this space for more updates.

Title: Soft Electronics Enabled Ergonomic Human-Computer Interaction for Swallowing Training

Abstract: We introduce a skin-friendly electronic system that enables human-computer interaction (HCI) for swallowing training in dysphagia rehabilitation. For an ergonomic HCI, we utilize a soft, highly compliant (“skin-like”) electrode, which addresses critical issues of an existing rigid and planar electrode combined with a problematic conductive electrolyte and adhesive pad. The skin-like electrode offers a highly conformal, user-comfortable interaction with the skin for long- term wearable, high-fidelity recording of swallowing electromyograms on the chin. Mechanics modeling and experimental quantification captures the ultra-elastic mechanical characteristics of an open mesh microstructured sensor, conjugated with an elastomeric membrane. Systematic in vivo studies investigate the functionality of the soft electronics for HCI-enabled swallowing training, which includes the application of a biofeedback system to detect swallowing behavior. The collection of results demonstrates clinical feasibility of the ergonomic electronics in HCI- driven rehabilitation for patients with swallowing disorders.

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End of 2016

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Let’s say 2016 has been an eventful year, in my personal professional as well as global political sphere, and I didn’t mean it in a good way! In any case, I am glad that we are now bidding 2016 goodbye. Never have I felt so eager to get rid of a year before, but 2017, here I come.

Well, at least the NIHR (National Institution of Health Research) project I was involved in some years ago has finally produced some results. This is the abstract of the newly published open access paper in Health Technology Assessment:

Background

This report details the development of the Men’s Safer Sex website and the results of a feasibility randomised controlled trial (RCT), health economic assessment and qualitative evaluation.

Objectives

(1) Develop the Men’s Safer Sex website to address barriers to condom use; (2) determine the best design for an online RCT; (3) inform the methods for collecting and analysing health economic data; (4) assess the Sexual Quality of Life (SQoL) questionnaire and European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions, three-level version (EQ-5D-3L) to calculate quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs); and (5) explore clinic staff and men’s views of online research methodology.

Methods

(1) Website development: we combined evidence from research literature and the views of experts (n = 18) and male clinic users (n = 43); (2) feasibility RCT: 159 heterosexually active men were recruited from three sexual health clinics and were randomised by computer to the Men’s Safer Sex website plus usual care (n = 84) or usual clinic care only (n = 75). Men were invited to complete online questionnaires at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses were recorded from clinic notes at 12 months; (3) health economic evaluation: we investigated the impact of using different questionnaires to calculate utilities and QALYs (the EQ-5D-3L and SQoL questionnaire), and compared different methods to collect resource use; and (4) qualitative evaluation: thematic analysis of interviews with 11 male trial participants and nine clinic staff, as well as free-text comments from online outcome questionnaires.

Results

(1) Software errors and clinic Wi-Fi access presented significant challenges. Response rates for online questionnaires were poor but improved with larger vouchers (from 36% with £10 to 50% with £30). Clinical records were located for 94% of participants for STI diagnoses. There were no group differences in condomless sex with female partners [incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.01, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.52 to 1.96]. New STI diagnoses were recorded for 8.8% (7/80) of the intervention group and 13.0% (9/69) of the control group (IRR 0.75, 95% CI 0.29 to 1.89). (2) Health-care resource data were more complete using patient files than questionnaires. The probability that the intervention is cost-effective is sensitive to the source of data used and whether or not data on intended pregnancies are included. (3) The pilot RCT fitted well around clinical activities but 37% of the intervention group did not see the Men’s Safer Sex website and technical problems were frustrating. Men’s views of the Men’s Safer Sex website and research procedures were largely positive.

Conclusions

It would be feasible to conduct a large-scale RCT using clinic STI diagnoses as a primary outcome; however, technical errors and a poor response rate limited the collection of online self-reported outcomes. The next steps are (1) to optimise software for online trials, (2) to find the best ways to integrate digital health promotion with clinical services, (3) to develop more precise methods for collecting resource use data and (4) to work out how to overcome barriers to digital intervention testing and implementation in the NHS.

https://www.journalslibrary.nihr.ac.uk/hta/hta20910/#/abstract

Paper on Empathy and Smell Recognition accepted

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Our paper entitled “Emotional Correlates of Monorhinal Odor Identification” has been accepted in Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition. It is a collaborative project with Psychology at Kent and East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.

The abstract of the paper:

It is self-evident that smell profoundly shapes emotion, but less clear is how these capacities are linked. Here we sought to determine whether the ability to identify odors co-varies with self-reported feelings of empathy and emotional expression recognition, as predicted if the two capacities draw on common resource. Thirty eight normal volunteers were administered the Alberta Smell Test along with the Interpersonal Reactivity Index which provides a measure of emotional and cognitive empathy, and an emotional expression recognition task in which faces had to be categorised as happy, sad, angry fearful or neutral. Of secondary interest, we also tested whether odor identification correlates with more general aspects of intellectual function, as measured by the verbal and non-verbal scales of the 2nd Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test. Statistical analyses indicated that feelings of emotional empathy positively correlated with odor discrimination in right nostril, while the recognition of happy facial expressions positively correlated with odor discrimination in left nostril. Higher identification scores in left nostril were also associated with higher verbal IQ scores. These results uncover new links between the discriminatory ability of the olfactory system and emotion and verbal intelligence which, given the ipsilateral configuration of the olfactory projections, may reflect intra- rather than inter-hemispheric interactions. Given that reduced empathic concern and a difficulty distinguishing facial emotions can mark the onset of certain neurological diseases, the results give reason to further explore the diagnostic sensitivity of smell tests.

Paper accepted in Journal of Medical Internet Research ResProtoc

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Our paper titled “Defining the content of an online sexual health intervention: the MenSS website” has been accepted for publication in Journal of Medical Internet Research ResProtoc. This is a collaborative project with e-Health unity UCL looking into mobile-based intervention for sexual health behaviour change.

Earlier this year, our protocol paper for the pilot randomised controlled trial was accepted by the British Medical Journal. The trial is now underway, and hopefully we will have some results to share soon!

Paper accepted in Energy

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August good news!

My PhD student, Anthony has just got two papers accepted!

  • “Integrating Persuasive Technology with Energy Delegates for Energy Conservation and Carbon Emission Reduction in a University Campus”,  in Energy
  • “A Persuasive Feedback Support System for Energy Conservation and Carbon Emission Reduction in Campus Residential Buildings”,in Energy and Buildings

Both are respectable journals in the field. Well done!