University of Stirling
  • Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom
Recent publications
Background: Consuming discretionary snack foods high in calories, salt, sugar or fat in between regular meals can have a negative impact on weight management and health. Despite the intention to refrain from discretionary snacking, individuals often report feeling tempted by snack foods. A cognitive process to resolve food choice related tension may be dietary self-talk which is one's inner speech around dietary choice. This study aimed to understand the content and context of dietary self-talk before consuming discretionary snack foods. Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews based on Think-Aloud methods were conducted remotely. Participants answered open-ended questions and were presented with a list of 37 dietary self-talk items. Interview transcripts were analyzed thematically. Results: Interviews (n = 18, age: 19-54 years, 9 men, 9 women) confirmed the frequent use of dietary self-talk with all 37 content items endorsed. Reported use was highest for the self-talk items: 'It is a special occasion'; 'I did physical activity/exercise today'; and 'I am hungry'. Three new items were developed, eight items were refined. Identified key contextual themes were: 'reward', 'social', 'convenience', 'automaticity', and 'hunger'. Conclusions: This study lists 40 reasons people use to allow themselves to consume discretionary snack foods and identifies contextual factors of dietary-self talk. All participants reported using dietary self-talk, with variation in content, frequency and degree of automaticity. Recognising and changing dietary self-talk may be a promising intervention target for changing discretionary snacking behaviour.
Background The suitability of corticomotor inhibition and corticospinal excitability to measure brain health outcomes and recovery of sport-related head impact (concussion and subconcussion) depends on good inter-day reliability, which is evaluated in this study. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) reliability in soccer players is assessed by comparing soccer players, for whom reliability on this measure may be reduced due to exposure to head impacts, to generally active individuals not engaged in contact sport. Methods TMS-derived corticomotor inhibition and corticospinal excitability were recorded from the rectus femoris muscle during two testing sessions, spaced 1–2 weeks apart in 19 soccer players (SOC—age 22 ± 3 years) and 20 generally active (CON—age 24 ± 4 years) healthy volunteers. Inter-day reliability between the two time points was quantified by using intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC). Intra-group reliability and group differences on actual measurement values were also explored. Results Good inter-day reliability was evident for corticomotor inhibition (ICCSOC = 0.61; ICCCON = 0.70) and corticospinal excitability (ICCSOC = 0.59; ICCCON = 0.70) in both generally active individuals and soccer players routinely exposed to sport-related head impacts. Corticomotor inhibition showed lower coefficients of variation than excitability for both groups (InhibSOC = 15.2%; InhibCON = 9.7%; ExcitabSOC = 41.6%; ExcitabCON = 39.5%). No group differences between soccer players and generally active individuals were found on the corticomotor inhibition value (p > 0.05), but levels of corticospinal excitability were significantly lower in soccer players (45.1 ± 20.8 vs 85.4 ± 6.2%Mmax, p < 0.0001). Corticomotor inhibition also showed excellent inter-rater reliability (ICC = 0.87). Conclusions Corticomotor inhibition and corticospinal excitability are stable and maintain good degrees of reliability when assessed over different days in soccer players, despite their routine exposure to head impacts. However, based on intra-group reliability and group differences of the levels of excitability, we conclude that corticomotor inhibition is best suited for the evaluation of neuromuscular alterations associated with head impacts in contact sports.
Background COVID-19 has overwhelmed health services across the world; its global death toll has exceeded 5.3 million and continues to grow. There have been almost 15 million cases of COVID-19 in the UK. The need for rapid accurate identification, appropriate clinical care and decision making, remains a priority for UK ambulance service. To support identification and conveyance decisions of patients presenting with COVID-19 symptoms the Scottish Ambulance Service introduced the revised Medical Priority Dispatch System Protocol 36, enhanced physician led decision support and prehospital clinical guidelines. This study aimed to characterise the impact of these changes on the pathways and outcomes of people attended by the SAS) with potential COVID-19. Methods A retrospective record linkage cohort study using National Data collected from NHS Scotland over a 5 month period (April–August 2020). Results The SAS responded to 214,082 emergency calls during the study time period. The positive predictive value of the Protocol 36 to identify potentially COVID-19 positive patients was low (17%). Approximately 60% of those identified by Protocol 36 as potentially COVID-19 positive were conveyed. The relationship between conveyance and mortality differed between Protocol 36 Covid-19 positive calls and those that were not. In those identified by Protocol 36 as Covid-19 negative, 30 day mortality was higher in those not conveyed (not conveyed 9.2%; conveyed 6.6%) but in the Protocol 36 Covid-19 positive calls, mortality was higher in those conveyed (not conveyed 4.3% conveyed 8.8%). Thirty-day mortality rates of those with COVID-19 diagnosed through virology was between 28.8 and 30.2%. Conclusion The low positive predictive value (17%) of Protocol 36 in identifying potential COVID-19 in patients emphasises the importance of ambulance clinicians approaching each call as involving COVID-19, reinforcing the importance of adhering to existing policy and continued use of PPE at all calls. The non-conveyance rate of people that were categorised as COVID-19 negative was higher than in the preceding year in the same service. The reasons for the higher rates of non-conveyance and the relationship between non conveyance rates and death at 3 and 30 days post index call are unknown and would benefit from further study.
To slow the spread of COVID-19, many people now wear face masks in public. Face masks impair our ability to identify faces, which can cause problems for professional staff who identify offenders or members of the public. Here, we investigate whether performance on a masked face matching task can be improved by training participants to compare diagnostic facial features (the ears and facial marks)—a validated training method that improves matching performance for unmasked faces. We show this brief diagnostic feature training, which takes less than two minutes to complete, improves matching performance for masked faces by approximately 5%. A control training course, which was unrelated to face identification, had no effect on matching performance. Our findings demonstrate that comparing the ears and facial marks is an effective means of improving face matching performance for masked faces. These findings have implications for professions that regularly perform face identification.
The last decade has seen renewed concern within the scientific community over the reproducibility and transparency of research findings. This paper outlines some of the various responsibilities of stakeholders in addressing the systemic issues that contribute to this concern. In particular, this paper asserts that a united, joined-up approach is needed, in which all stakeholders, including researchers, universities, funders, publishers, and governments, work together to set standards of research integrity and engender scientific progress and innovation. Using two developments as examples: the adoption of Registered Reports as a discrete initiative, and the use of open data as an ongoing norm change, we discuss the importance of collaboration across stakeholders.
Drawing on interviews with twenty tourists at the National Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland, this case study uses the concept of personal nationalism to understand how national identity is interpreted and communicated in personal and (post) tourist space. It uses a narrative analysis of domestic and international tourists’ experiences to realise how heritage tourism sites could benefit from understanding individual meanings of a nation. The research reveals personal nationalism is characterised by inclusion, interaction and individualisation. Participants consolidate their personal nationalism by connecting with and on behalf of others as well as through various ways of belonging, and by interpreting their experiences in relation to their families. The findings represent a nuanced articulation of the role of tourism in the appropriation of national symbols, myths and values by tourists at a national heritage site. The study offers an alternative perspective on the relevance of what cultural producers convey to tourists.
Background The purpose of this study was to explore perceived changes in physical activity (PA) due to Covid19 stay-at-home and social distancing guidance among older adults. Methods Participants ( n = 1429, 77% female, 84% ≥60 years) living in Scotland completed an online survey in Summer 2020 measuring PA and wellbeing (indexed through loneliness, and health-related quality of life). The survey included open- and closed-ended questions about how these variables changed in response to Covid19 social distancing and ‘shielding’ guidelines. Results From the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), the majority reported high volumes of PA, indicative of being ‘moderately’ or ‘highly’ active. When asked specifically about strength training, 12% reported engagement on ≥2d/wk. Most participants reported that PA had changed during this time, citing reduced use of exercise facilities, increased active travel, and online PA classes; although only 16% reported engaging in PA online. Conclusions Higher levels of PA were found to be associated with better health-related quality of life. Additional efforts should be made to support PA engagement in older adults, including strength training and other tailored approaches to support individual needs.
This study examines the multiscale links between economic policy uncertainty (EPU) and sectoral stock returns in China, India, the UK, and the US. We find that the impact of domestic EPU on sectoral returns persists at low frequencies and over the full sample period, especially in the financial sectors of China, the UK, and the US. The combined impact of domestic and US EPU endures the longest in the UK and China over a 16–32 month horizon. We also observe a high Sharpe ratio (low Value-at-Risk; VaR) in the presence of considerable US EPU that flips across sectors. During rising US EPU, the portfolio optimization exercise suggests weighting Chinese and Indian sectors higher. Finally, the VaR exercise produces identical portfolio diversification benefits in the equally weighted global and China stocks portfolios.
Background Research on child maltreatment in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV) rarely draws on nationally representative samples, and rarely accounts for maternal, paternal and child reports of parental aggression towards children separately. Objective We explore if living with IPV makes children more likely to be smacked or slapped by their parents. Participants and setting A prospective longitudinal and nationally representative child cohort study for Scotland (starting sample N:5217). Methods Questions for children at ages 2–7 include: maternal and paternal reports of aggression towards children; children's reports of being ‘smacked’ by parents; maternal reports of IPV. Multivariate logit models explore how maternal IPV is associated with child maltreatment, controlling for socio-economic confounders. Results In homes with a long-term abusive partner, children are more likely to have been smacked/slapped by the father (OR1.91, p ≤ 0.05), mother (OR1.84 p ≤ 0.05), and both parents (OR2.31, p ≤ 0.05). Maternal IPV frequency and intensity was incrementally associated with children's odds of being smacked/slapped (OR range 1.47–1.70, p ≤ 0.05). Ethnic minority boys were more likely (predicted probability of 42 % p ≤ 0.05) to have been smacked/slapped by their mother frequently compared to other children (predicted probability range: 19–27 %). Conclusions When mothers report IPV, the extent and severity of the abuse is incrementally associated with children's experiences of parental aggression, and ethnic minority boys are far more at risk. Parental aggression should be understood within the context of the stresses associated with living with an abusive partner. We discuss the fragmented picture which surveys of children provide when interviewing mainly the mother.
Understanding how we can increase the resilience of forest systems to future extreme drought events is increasingly important as these events become more frequent and intense. Diversifying production forests using intimate mixtures of trees with complementary functional traits is considered as one promising silvicultural approach that may increase drought resilience. However, the direction and magnitude of the drought response of mixed-species stands relative to monospecific stands of the same species can vary with species identity, relative abundance and levels of competition in a focal tree's immediate neighbourhood. Using a long-term experiment where tree-level mortality and the neighbourhood composition of each tree was known, we assessed the radial growth response of 24-year-old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) trees in intimately mixed and monospecific stands to a short-duration, high-intensity spring drought in Scotland. Mixing proportions included 25:75, 50:50 and 75:25 of P. sylvestris and P. sitchensis. At the species level, Scots pine was more drought resistant and resilient than Sitka spruce, while Sitka spruce showed higher recovery. Surprisingly, neither pre-drought tree size nor neighbourhood competition were significantly associated with resistance or resilience to drought, and trees of both species within monospecific stands showed higher recovery and resilience than trees growing in mixed stands. Our study suggests intimate mixtures of these two species may not be an effective way to mitigate the negative impacts of future extreme spring drought events. Given that these two species comprise almost 70% of coniferous forests in the UK, our results highlight the pressing need to better understand their vulnerability to drought and the conditions under which intimate mixtures of these species could be beneficial or detrimental. Such knowledge is essential if we are to enable forest managers to effectively plan how to adapt these forests to the challenges of a changing climate.
In the last decade, our understanding of plant litter decomposition and soil organic matter formation substantially improved but critical blind spots remain. Particularly, the role of detritivores, i.e. soil animals that feed on litter and soil, is poorly understood and notoriously missing from biogeochemical models. This major gap results from methodological difficulties to isolate their effect and from the astonishing diversity of detritivorous organisms with few common features, thereby hampering the identification of general patterns. In this viewpoint, we propose that the characteristics of their faeces can predict detritivore effects on soil processes related to organic matter turnover across the large detritivore diversity. Indeed, faeces are common to all detritivores, and a large part of organic matter is transformed into faeces in many ecosystems. Two recent studies presented here showed that faeces characteristics are powerful predictors of the fate and turnover of this transformed organic matter. We suggest that faeces characteristics, such as water-holding capacity, size and spatial organisation of the faecal pellets and of their constituting particles, particulate organic matter connectivity, as well as the characteristics of dissolved organic matter in faecal pellets, are promising 'effect traits'. By focusing on similar features rather than differences, this approach has the potential to break down barriers of this highly fragmented soil animal group, in particular between earthworms that are often studied as ecosystem engineers and classical litter transformers such as millipedes, woodlice, or snails. We discuss ways of tackling the complexity of using such traits, particularly regarding the composite determinism of faeces characteristics that are driven both by the detritivore identity and the ingested organic matter. Rigorous and hypothesis-based use of faeces characteristics as effect traits, including clear identification of studied processes, could allow integrating detritivores in our current understanding of organic matter turnover.
Healthcare professionals play a vital role in identifying and supporting autistic people. This study systematically reviewed empirical research examining healthcare professionals’ knowledge, self-efficacy and attitudes towards working with autistic people. Thirty-five studies were included. The included studies sampled a range of countries and professional backgrounds. A modified quality assessment tool found the quality of the included studies was moderately good. Narrative synthesis indicated that healthcare professionals report only moderate levels of autism knowledge and self-efficacy, and often lack training. Variation within and between countries and professional background was not explained by demographic factors. The reviewed evidence suggests health professionals’ limited knowledge and self-efficacy in working with autistic people is a challenge to the provision of healthcare for autistic individuals.
This paper highlights the extent to which a future mobility system dominated by Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs) poses profound challenges to the ‘publicness’ of the transport and mobility systems of many cities. This is evident at different policy levels: the regulatory posture of governments, changing notions of the contributions of mobility to wider ‘public value’, and the underpinning shared experiences of urban life and citizenship or civitas. There is relatively little discussion of how widespread automation might reduce the ‘publicness’ of transport systems in terms of the range of mobility opportunities they offer, how changing patterns of mobility across neighbourhoods and social groups will contribute to urban restructuring, and the implications of this for public value and the character or civitas of cities. In particular, we note how the huge expansion in mobility choices made possible by CAVs might lead to circumstances in which the outcome of individuals exercising that choice is to change the nature of urban mobility profoundly. We identify a number of key challenges that policy makers will need to address in managing the introduction of CAVs in their cities, and how using the lens of ‘publicness’ might help them do so.
Stable isotope ratios, carbon (δ¹³C) and nitrogen (δ¹⁵N), and fatty acids validated the trophic connection between farmed fish in a commercial nearshore fish farm and sea cucumbers in the Mediterranean Sea. This dual tracer approach evaluated organic matter transfer in integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) and the ability of sea cucumbers to incorporate fish farm waste (fish faeces and uneaten artificial fish feed) into their tissue. Between October 2018 and September 2019, Holothuria (Roweothuria) poli Delle Chiaje, 1824, co-cultured at IMTA sites directly below one of the commercial fish cage , at 10 m and 25 m from the selected fish cage, and at two reference sites over 800 m from the fish farm. Sea cucumbers were sampled from each site in February, May and September, except at 0 m due to mass mortalities recorded here in the first month of study. Isotopic mixing models revealed that fish farm organic waste was the dominant dietary source for H. poli in IMTA at 10 m and 25 m from the cage. The contribution of marine plant-derived organic matter, Posidonia oceanica leaves and rhizomes, was least important. The isotopic signatures of sea cucumber tissues at reference sites were not explained by the sampled food resources. Importantly, fatty acid profiling revealed a high abundance of individual terrestrial plant fatty acids, such as oleic (18:1n-9), linoleic (18:2n-6) and eicosenoic (20:1n-9) acids in sea cucumber tissue at 10 m and 25 m from the fish cage, presumably linked to the terrestrial plant oil content of the fish feeds. At the reference sites, sea cucumber tissues were characterised by higher relative abundance of arachidonic acid (20:4n-6) acid, and the natural marine-based eicosapentaenoic (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic (22:6n-3) acids. These analyses revealed important differences in the composition of H. poli between the IMTA and reference locations, driven by aquaculture-derived waste near fish cages. Moreover, this study revealed temporal variation in food availability and quality, and possible differences in the physiological responses of H. poli. Stable isotope analysis and fatty acid profiling provided complementary evidence for the important dietary preferences of H. poli and validated the potential of sea cucumbers to uptake aquaculture organic waste as part of inshore fish–sea cucumber IMTA. It reveals the important implications that an established trophic link has on the viability of using sea cucumbers for the development of IMTA and the sustainable expansion of aquaculture.
Background Public health teams (PHTs) in England and Scotland engage to varying degrees in local alcohol licensing systems to try to reduce alcohol-related harms. No previous quantitative evidence is available on the effectiveness of this engagement. We aimed to quantify the effects of PHT engagement in alcohol licensing on selected health and crime outcomes. Methods 39 PHTs in England (n = 27) and Scotland (n = 12) were recruited (of 40 contacted) for diversity in licensing engagement level and region, with higher activity areas matched to lower activity areas. Each PHT's engagement in licensing for each 6 month period from April 2012 to March 2019 was quantified using a new measure (PHIAL) developed using structured interviews, documentary analyses, and expert consultation. Outcomes examined were ambulance callouts, alcohol-related hospital admissions, alcohol-related and alcohol-specific mortality and violent, sexual and public order offences. Timeseries were analysed using multivariable negative binomial mixed-effects models. Correlations were assessed between each outcome and 18-month average PHIAL score (primary metric), cumulative PHIAL scores and change in PHIAL scores. Additionally, 6-month lagged correlations were also assessed. Findings There was no clear evidence of any associations between the primary exposure metric and the public health or crime outcomes examined, nor between cumulative PHIAL scores or change in PHIAL score and any outcomes. There were no significant associations in England or Scotland when analysed separately or between outcomes and lagged exposure metrics. Interpretation There is no clear evidence that allocating PHT resources to engaging in alcohol licensing is associated with downstream reductions in alcohol-related health harms or crimes, in the short term or over a seven year follow-up period. Such engagement likely has benefits in shaping the licensing system to take account of health issues longer term, but as current systems cannot reduce alcohol availability or contain online sales, their potential benefits are somewhat constrained. Funding The ExILEnS project is funded by the NIHR Public Health Research Programme (project number 15/129/11). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.
Background In 2021, a fan-led review of football governance in England recommended that legislation surrounding alcohol and football be reviewed to determine whether it is still fit for purpose, the first such review since the mid-1980s. Restricting football fans’ alcohol consumption has been debated in the UK for over 40 years. However, more research is needed into the current attitudes of fans and influential stakeholders on this matter. Methods Focus groups with football supporters (n=79) and semi-structured interviews (n=15) with key organisational stakeholders were conducted between November 2019 and February 2021. Focus groups included fans who regularly attended matches and supported various teams from professional leagues in Scotland and England, casual fans who usually watched games at home or in bars, and fans who followed the Scotland and England national teams. Stakeholders were selected to represent organisations likely to be instrumental in any regulatory change, such as the UK and Scottish Governments, Police, football supporters’ groups and safety organisations. Results The current law does not allow for alcohol to be consumed within view of the pitch. Participants from England suggested this could be changed. While in Scotland, where the legislation only allows alcohol to be sold in hospitality, most participants were in favour of allowing the general sale of alcohol at football stadia via a pilot scheme. The reasons for these changes included: reducing unhealthy drinking behaviours; minimising the health and safety risk of fans arriving at the stadium just before kick-off; and a potential increase in much needed revenue for clubs. Conclusion Our data suggests an evidence-based review of current laws regarding alcohol and football may be appropriate. However, any discussion regarding changes to the law regarding alcohol at football stadia, including potential pilot schemes, should be evaluated and monitored in terms of both financial impact and the impact on public health and safety.
The movement to democratize data and the advent of virtual research teams provides a near-perfect opportunity for an explosion of comparative nonprofit research. This manuscript provides a useful framework for scholars interested in utilizing comparative nonprofit data. By documenting how the lived context of the data is influenced by governmental, institutional, and social forces, we illustrate how effective comparative data work will involve knowing both the how (data details) and the why (institutional history) of the data elements. We offer three extended examples to illustrate the complexity of comparative data: the definition of nonprofit, the concept of governance, and the definition of financial liability. This approach provides a thoughtful path of not only careful empirical work but also the route to theoretical improvements as well. Furthermore, comparative work also leads the researcher to question assumptions and document the processes which shape the data, even within their singular context.
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9,143 members
Peter Hunter
  • Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Liz Forbat
  • Faculty of Applied Social Sciences
Anna Kirpichnikova
  • Department of Computing Science and Mathematics
Line Caes
  • Department of Psychology
Elena Gheorghiu
  • Department of Psychology
University of Stirling, FK9 4LA, Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom
Head of institution
Professor Gerry McCormac
+44 (0)1786 473171