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  • StaResGRU-CNN with CMedLMs: a stacked residual GRU-CNN with pre-trained biomedical language models for predictive intelligence

    Ni, Pin; Li, Gangmin; Hung, Patrick C.K.; Chang, Victor; University College London; University of Bedfordshire; Ontario Tech University; Teesside University (Elsevier Ltd, 2021-10-13)
    As a task requiring strong professional experience as supports, predictive biomedical intelligence cannot be separated from the support of a large amount of external domain knowledge. By using transfer learning to obtain sufficient prior experience from massive biomedical text data, it is essential to promote the performance of specific downstream predictive and decision-making task models. This is an efficient and convenient method, but it has not been fully developed for Chinese Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the biomedical field. This study proposes a Stacked Residual Gated Recurrent Unit-Convolutional Neural Networks (StaResGRU-CNN) combined with the pre-trained language models (PLMs) for biomedical text-based predictive tasks. Exploring related paradigms in biomedical NLP based on transfer learning of external expert knowledge and comparing some Chinese and English language models. We have identified some key issues that have not been developed or those present difficulties of application in the field of Chinese biomedicine. Therefore, we also propose a series of Chinese bioMedical Language Models (CMedLMs) with detailed evaluations of downstream tasks. By using transfer learning, language models are introduced with prior knowledge to improve the performance of downstream tasks and solve specific predictive NLP tasks related to the Chinese biomedical field to serve the predictive medical system better. Additionally, a free-form text Electronic Medical Record (EMR)-based Disease Diagnosis Prediction task is proposed, which is used in the evaluation of the analyzed language models together with Clinical Named Entity Recognition, Biomedical Text Classification tasks. Our experiments prove that the introduction of biomedical knowledge in the analyzed models significantly improves their performance in the predictive biomedical NLP tasks with different granularity. And our proposed model also achieved competitive performance in these predictive intelligence tasks.
  • Understanding the experience of service users in an integrated care programme for obesity and mental health: a qualitative investigation of Total Wellbeing Luton

    Liapi, Fani; Chater, Angel M.; Pescheny, Julia Vera; Randhawa, Gurch; Pappas, Yannis; University of Bedfordshire (MDPI, 2022-01-12)
    Obesity is a complex public health issue with multiple contributing factors. The emphasis on joined care has led to the development and implementation of a number of integrated care interventions targeting obesity and mental health. The purpose of this study was to examine user experience in an integrated care programme for obesity and mental health in Luton, UK. Semistructured interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of service users (N = 14). Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Analysis of the interviews identified six main themes for understanding service users’ experiences of integrated care: (1) ‘A user-centered system’, (2) ‘Supports behaviour change’, (3) ‘Valued social support’, (4) ‘Communication is key’, (5) ‘Flexible referral process’, and (6) ‘Positive impact on life’. These themes describe how the service is operated, evidence perceived value service users place on social support in behavior change intervention, and address which service areas work well and which require improvement. The findings of these interviews have offered a significant contribution to understanding what service users value the most in an integrated healthcare setting. Service users value ongoing support and being listened to by healthcare professionals, as well as the camaraderie and knowledge acquisition to support their own behaviour change and promote self-regulation following their participation in the programme.
  • Vaccination against COVID-19: factors that influence vaccine hesitancy among an ethnically diverse community in the UK

    Cook, Erica Jane; Elliott, Elizabeth; Gaitan, Alfredo; Nduka, Ifunanya; Cartwright, Sally; Egbutah, Chimeme; Randhawa, Gurch; Waqar, Muhammad; Ali, Nasreen; University of Bedfordshire; et al. (MDPI, 2022-01-11)
    The UK’s minority ethnic population, despite being at higher risk of COVID-19 and experiencing poorer health outcomes, continue to have lower uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine compared with their white British counterparts. Given the importance of the vaccination programme in improving health outcomes, this research sought to examine the influential factors that impact the decision to accept the COVID-19 vaccination among an ethnically diverse community. A total of 1058 residents from Luton, UK, a large town with an ethnically diverse population, completed a community survey. Questions centred around uptake or individuals’ intentions to accept the offer of COVID-19 vaccination alongside demographics, knowledge, and views on the vaccine. A binary logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the most significant predictors of vaccine hesitancy, while respondents’ reasons for not getting vaccinated were identified using qualitative content analysis. Findings revealed that age and ethnicity were the only sociodemographic factors to predict vaccine hesitancy. Knowledge of symptoms and transmission routes, alongside ensuring information about COVID-19 was objectively sourced, were all identified as protective factors against vaccine hesitancy. Qualitative analysis revealed that ‘lack of trust in government/authori-ties’ and ‘concern of the speed of vaccine development’ were the most common reasons for non-uptake. This research reinforces the importance of age, ethnicity, and knowledge as influential factors in predicting vaccine hesitancy. Further, this study uncovers some of the barriers of uptake that can be utilised in developing promotional campaigns to reduce vaccine hesitancy in certain sections of the diverse UK population.
  • Autistic adults' experiences of camouflaging and its perceived impact on mental health

    Bradley, Louise; Shaw, Rebecca; Baron-Cohen, Simon; Cassidy, Sarah (Mary Ann Liebert Inc., 2021-06-03)
    Many autistic adults report that they need to camouflage their autistic behaviors to help them "fit in"and cope in social situations with non-autistic people. This is because society is not as aware and accepting of autistic people as it needs to be. We also know that for most autistic adults camouflaging is exhausting and damaging for their mental health. This study is important, because researchers have not studied camouflaging enough to know what it is like for autistic adults to camouflage in their everyday lives and to understand the impact that camouflaging has on their mental health. We wanted to ask autistic adults about their positive and negative experiences of camouflaging. This is important because it will help professionals better understand why autistic adults camouflage, and better support the mental health needs of autistic adults. This increased understanding may also help society become more aware and accepting of autism. If this happens, autistic adults will not need to camouflage as much. Not having to camouflage as much could also help prevent and reduce mental health problems in autistic adults. We asked autistic adults with a clinical diagnosis and those who self-identify as autistic to complete an online survey. The survey asked questions about mental health, self-injury, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behaviors. One part of the survey asked questions about camouflaging. If research participants said they camouflaged or masked their autistic characteristics to cope with social situations, they would then be asked about when and why they camouflage, and about the positive and negative consequences of camouflaging. We found that autistic people confirmed that they camouflage because of a lack of awareness and acceptance of autism in society. We also found that both autistic males and females camouflage. Although some autistic adults said that "everyone"camouflages, they thought that autistic people spent much more time than non-autistic people camouflaging in their everyday lives. Spending lots of time camouflaging was what was most damaging for autistic adults' mental health. Although most autistic adults thought that camouflaging was damaging to their mental health, some thought that it helped them too. Our results suggest that it is important to reduce pressure to camouflage. This could help prevent high rates of mental health problems in autistic people. Our results suggest that this can be achieved if wider society becomes more aware and accepting of autistic people. Our results also suggest that reducing pressure to camouflage could benefit everyone in society.
  • The influence of a blend of probiotic lactobacillus and prebiotic inulin on the duration and severity of symptoms among individuals with COVID-19

    Thomas, Robert; Aldous, Jeffrey William Frederick; Forsyth, Rachel; Chater, Angel M.; Williams, Madeleine; ; Bedford & Addenbrooke’s Cambridge University NHS Trusts; University of Bedfordshire; Cambridge University; Bedford Hospital (Gavin Publishers, 2021-11-16)
    Background: Gut microfloral dysbiosis is known to affect the majority individuals suffering with a Covid-19 infection. This study evaluated whether a specific lactobacillus and inulin blend, which aimed to improve gut health, could reduce the severity of early and chronic Covid-19 symptoms. Methods: From May 2020 to May 2021, we evaluated 126 participants with Covid-19, with an average duration of symptoms of 108 days, who were given 30 days of this pre and probiotic capsule within the ongoing UK national Phyto-v study. Symptoms were recorded using the validated Cough Symptom Score, the Subjective Well-Being questionnaire and the Chandler fatigue questionnaire. The group was analysed as a whole and then subdivided into 40 (32%) in an early phase of infection (average symptoms 10 days before baseline) and the 86 (68%) in a chronic phase (average symptoms 120 days before trial baseline). Results: Cough, fatigue and subjective well-being scores significantly improved over the 30 days in both the early and chronic phase cohorts. Participants who were more likely to have gut dysbiosis at trial entry, such as sedentary, hospitalised, older males with GI symptoms, had a statistically significantly better response to the probiotics. Gut symptoms improved in 25 of 31 (82%) who reported them at baseline. Two (1.5%) patients reported mild increased bloating and diarrhoea. Discussion: Following this nutritional intervention, participants had a significant improvement in GI and non-GI symptoms resulting in a meaningful improvement in overall well-being. Although some participants with early disease would have improved spontaneously, such a rapid improvement in the majority who had been experiencing symptoms for over 6 months, was clinically relevant and welcomed, especially among those more likely to have pre-existing gut dysbiosis. Going forward, our research group are now evaluating whether intake of this blend now known as yourgutplus+, could also enhance antibody titres levels post Covid vaccination.

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