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King's Researchers awarded grant to explore the impact of COVID-19 on healthcare inequalities

Researchers at King’s College London have been selected as one of 10 teams to participate in a new COVID-19 research programme funded by the Health Foundation.

Help gauge impact of COVID-19 on ethnic inequalities

Led by Dr Jayati Das-Munshi of the Centre for Society and Mental Health, the research is entitled “Ethnic inequalities in mortality and service use in people with mental disorders and multimorbidities during the COVID-19 pandemic: A mixed methods study”. The research team also includes Professor Matthew Hotopf, Professor Rob Stewart, Dr Josephine Ocloo, and Dr Alex Dregan, all from King’s College London, Dr Laia Becares from the University of Sussex, as well as collaborator Dr Jacqui Dyer, Chair of Black Thrive and the NHS-England Mental Health Equalities Taskforce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified inequalities. Our research has started to suggest that ethnic minority groups with mental disorders have been disproportionately affected, but reasons are unclear. The pandemic has led to changes in care delivery, with routine healthcare suspended, many people discharged from secondary care and much care delivered remotely. We hope our study will pinpoint exactly how ethnic inequalities in people living with multiple long-term conditions and mental health problems have been exacerbated, as a result of the pandemic.– Dr Jayati Das-Munshi, Senior Lecturer, IoPPN, King's College London

Ethnic minority groups within the UK mental healthcare system experience stark inequalities, including lower access to evidence-based treatments and higher rates of detention. In addition, life expectancy in people with mental disorders is 15-20 years lower than the general population, mostly due to preventable long-term physical health conditions, also noted in ethnic minority groups.

The study will use more than 50,000 records from primary and secondary mental healthcare to assess whether changes to services as a result of COVID-19, magnified ethnic inequalities in care pathways and was associated with more deaths, in people with mental disorders and long-term conditions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to huge and rapid changes to the way that health and social care is delivered. The pandemic has also magnified pre-existing health inequalities in this country. This grant programme investigates these two areas. Are the changes in services beneficial and how did rapid change in provision happen? And what can we learn from the disproportionate effect COVID had on certain population groups? The aim is to use these insights to help future policy and service delivery decisions that could benefit the population.– Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation

With the support of community partners Global Black Thrive, a partnership for Black wellbeing, the team will also conduct fifty interviews with mental health service users to understand their perspectives, across London, Birmingham & Solihull and Manchester. As well as including lived experience researchers in the team, the study will be further supported by an ethnically diverse steering group. This support will ensure that all actionable recommendations will be co-produced with people with lived experience, informing healthcare delivery and improving patient safety, as the pandemic continues.

Contact

For interviews or any further media information please contact Louise Pratt, Head of Communications, IoPPN: louise.a.pratt@kcl.ac.uk / +44 7850 919020

For more information about the Health Foundation’s COVID-19 research programme, please email Bryony Hirsch, Marketing and Communications Officer, The Health Foundation: bryony.hirsch@health.org.uk.

In this story

Jayati Das-Munshi

Jayati Das-Munshi

Senior Lecturer