The COVID-19 pandemic and the national response to this will inevitably have profound impacts across healthcare. The impact on mental health services and patients using these services is likely to be particularly acute, in both the short-term and long-term.
‘COVID-19 and mental healthcare impacts’, is one of several studies which were awarded funding as part of King’s rapid response to coronavirus research.
The study will monitor the effect of the pandemic on mental health services in real time and monitor challenges as they occur, by making use of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation (SLaM) Trust’s electronic records database, which is called the Clinical Record Interactive Search (CRIS).
The CRIS database is updated every 24 hours and assembles anonymised data from SLaM healthcare records.
The unique benefit of using CRIS to evaluate service responses and clinical outcomes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is that it allows researchers to look at real life situations across a large quantity of data, making it easier to distinguish patterns and trends in a broad and varied service user population.
The COVID-19 pandemic will have potentially profound effects on mental healthcare, through the risk of pneumonia in already-vulnerable populations, through the impact of the lockdown on top of pre-existing social isolation or risk, and through the reductions in mental health service input as a result of staff sickness, self-isolation and the need to minimise face-to-face contact– Professor Robert Stewart, Principal Investigator, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience
The team of researchers will also further develop an array of natural language processing tools, such as text-mining algorithms, throughout this project. By using text mining, the study aims to learn how the importance of specific factors, such as COVID-19 status, social isolation, levels of support and family contact, will influence the use of mental health services during the pandemic.
The study research team includes Professor Robert Stewart and Matthew Broadbent (CRIS KCL and SLaM Leads respectively), supported by Dr Fiona Gaughran (SLaM R&D Director), Professor Richard Dobson (Bioinformatics and Cogstack Lead), Dr Mark Ashworth (Lambeth DataNet Lead) and Professor Matthew Hotopf (NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) Director).