By Press Office 30 April 2020

Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, has been awarded £92,242 in rapid coronavirus research funding from the Scottish Government following two successful bids from academic staff within the University. The University’s two research projects aim to inform current health protection practice and policy in the provision of quality care, in health service settings and the wider community, in the context of COVID-19.

Dr Alison Strang, a Senior Research Fellow at the University’s Institute for Global Health and Development (IGHD), and Dr Olivia Sagan (Head of the Division of Psychology, Sociology and Education) will receive £64,098 towards their research into the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on loneliness amongst asylum seekers and refugees, while Dr Cathy Bulley from the University’s Physiotherapy area is leading an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the School of Health Sciences who have been granted £28,326 for work on supporting recovery from illness experienced in isolation due to a pandemic.

Dr Strang and Dr Bulley’s work are just two out of a total 55 rapid research projects, from across 15 Scottish universities, that have received funding from the government towards the global efforts to combat the virus and limit its impact on society. Almost £5 million worth of Scottish Government funding has been allocated to research projects that aim to increase the understanding of COVID-19, screen potential treatments and support clinical trials.

Dr Strang said: “We’re delighted to receive this funding from the Scottish Government. Our work will focus on the neglected case of refugees and asylum seekers, most of whom face this pandemic with the added challenges of a new place, an unfamiliar language, and very few connections with local people and systems. We will explore the relationships between isolation, loneliness and ‘comfort with solitude’ among refugees in Scotland.”

Dr Bulley’s research will be conducted with fellow Queen Margaret University colleagues Professor Jan Dewing, Professor Brendan McCormack, Dr Lisa Salisbury, Dr Vaibhav Tyagi, Dr Olivia Sagan, Ruth Magowan and Dr David Banks. She added: “I’m thrilled that we are receiving this funding towards the costs of our research. Enormous numbers of people worldwide are experiencing social isolation during illness at home, or without family support in hospital. We need to investigate the impacts of this so that we can recommend interventions and services that are likely to be needed, and optimise access to these.”

Dr Richard Butt, Deputy Principal at Queen Margaret, said: “We are extremely proud of the many ways in which staff at the University are responding to the pandemic and welcome this fantastic news of funding for Dr Strang and Dr Bulley’s work. The money we will receive from the government will support the University’s research with a focus on supporting the mental health of health care professionals, service users and vulnerable communities at a time when their resilience is under significant pressure due to the professional and personal changes brought about by the pandemic and the measures to contain it.”

 

Notes to Editor

For further media enquiries, please contact Gavin McNee (Media Relations and Content Officer) at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, E: gmcnee@qmu.ac.uk, T: 0131 474 0000.

Further information about the Scottish Government’s rapid coronavirus research can be found in their press release dated 28 April 2020.

An additional media release issued by NHS Scotland’s Chief Scientist Office. 

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