May is European Month of the Brain. This initiative is about increasing awareness of the importance of brain research and healthcare matters. This month there are a whole series of events going on all over Europe and in Ireland.
Putting on my hat as a social researcher, issues related to the brain are very relevant. Previously I conducted a very extensive study for the Mid-Western Health Board looking at the prevalence and needs of people with brain injuries in that region. This was a very interesting study but also very worrying to hear many stories from people with brain injuries that felt the health system had let them down. Of course a brain injury isn’t just something that impacts the sufferer but also there extended network that may have to care for them. So the social impacts can be extensive and generally long lasting.
I have also worked with the National Disability Authority looking at people’s attitudes towards mental health difficulties. When people were asked about their views on mental disabilities, they had the most negative views towards this group compared to any other disability group. This is worrying as it shows there is still the most stigma associated with mental problems.
Research has shown that those who have had direct contact with a person with a disability have more favourable attitudes towards people with disabilities generally. Interestingly some of these mental health difficulties are now very common, including stress, anxiety and depression. However a friend or family member may not recognise the problem as it may not be externally obvious like a physical disability would present itself.
Using the brain is even becoming more common as a research tool for social and market research. Using sensors placed on the scalp, the brain wave activity of participants can be measured thus giving an indication of the emotional state of the person. This is a way of bypassing the conscious mind in terms of understanding peoples behaviour. At my sister company Life and Balance Centre we already use this technology for improving health http://www.lifeandbalance.ie/sub-page/Biofeedback-and-Neurofeedback-Training/88905
If you’re interested in your brain which I hope you are, you can see more about the events in your country here. http://ec.europa.eu/research/conferences/2013/brain-month/index_en.cfmContinue Reading
I attended an event in Dublin today called Fit for Work Ireland. This is an EU wide initiative focussed on keeping the Irish labour force healthy. The particular health focus of this initiative is on Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). To the lay person this means joint and soft tissues injuries such as strains, pains and aches that can often be recurring problems such as back pain.
According to the statistics MSD related ill health costs Ireland €750 million per annum with the loss of 7 million working days. The €750 annual cost includes illness benefit payments by the state, overtime payments, lost productivity and costs to the health system. The average duration of absence because of an MSD is 22 weeks, nearly half a working year. So this type of health condition can be very disruptive for both an employee and employer.
Ireland has a younger workforce than the EU average where there is a bigger issue because of the age of the workers. In Ireland 30% of illness benefit claims relate to MSDs compared to the EU average of 49%. However as Ireland’s workforce ages and also may have to stay working longer before they can claim their pensions it becomes more and more important to keep them healthy. This isn’t just an issue for the individual or the employer but for the general productivity of the economy and burden on the state caused by ill health.
So what can be done. The event advocated early intervention to deal with injury so the person could get back to work quicker. No particular interventions were discussed however from my own experience and involvement with healthcare at www.lifeandbalance.ie I would recommend drug free non-invasive approaches such as consulting a Chiropractor registered with the Chiropractic Association of Ireland.
With ever increasing amounts of data being collected by researchers and ever reducing amounts of time for the client to interpret and make decisions on this data, it has never been more important to communicate results clearly.
One way to do this is using infographics. An infographic is a graphic visual representation of information, data or knowledge. These graphics present complex information quickly and clearly in ways that appeal to our eyes and our brains. A weather map or the London Tube map are examples of infographics. So it’s not that these sorts of data visualisations are new, but with the advances in off the shelf software they are now easier to create. Ok, enough of the words, lets get visualising!
so would you prefer you research results to be presented like this
or like this
I’m just back from the Insight show at Marketing Week Live in London. It’s a great opportunity to see what the latest trends and approaches are in the market research world. Among the the many interesting talks I attended was one by Jon Puleston on the gamification of surveys. The idea is that surveys are boring for most people to complete so by making a survey more like a game better quality data can be obtained as people have more fun and are motivated.
So how does it work? Well first of all a game is defined as any form of thinking we do for fun. A game also needs some core elements to be called a game, these include rules, skill/effort and reward. Now a survey may have these elements but to make a game successful it needs to be fun, so how do we make surveys more fun?
Jon suggested the following:
Inject some humanity: Personalise the questions, allow for projection, emotionalise the questions. This could mean rephrase a question, instead of asking what could be improved in the hotel, ask the following, you are the hotel manager and you have €50,000 to spend on hotel improvements, how would you spend the money.
Application of Rules: Instead of asking think of a word ask think of a word with just three letters.
Turn it into a quest: By devising a motive to answer a question you turn the survey into a quest, an example in games is Minecraft where people spend hours doing meaningless chores in return for points.
Get them scenario playing: Our brains are developed to scenario plan so ‘What If’ questions work well.
Make it competitive: From our survival of the fittest instinct we like a little competition.
Give them rewards: This doesn’t have to be monetary either. What are the rewards on Farmville?
Jon gave many more tips including binning question grids. These are boring for respondents and encourage what’s called ‘straight lining’ where a respondent just ticks the same box down the whole question grid. With some smart programming instead of grids the use of drop and drag interfaces that are much more fun can be created. He also suggested adding a scoring mechanic, so you create a profile based on responses like what a personality profile would do.
Jon summed up by saying gamification of surveys will change your data for the better as you’ll get more data and better quality data.Continue Reading