UK Medical Research Council Funding Bid

Recently Dr. Van de Ven (pictured left) was successful in a competitive UK Medical Research Council funding bid. The consortium, further consisting of King’s College London, the Universidade de São Paulo and Bristol University, acquired GBP1.1M co-funded by the UK MRC and FAPESP, the funding body of Brazil’s state of São Paulo. The consortium will conduct an innovative depression intervention with a cohort of 24,000 older inhabitants of São Paulo’s favelas. Following an initial ICT development phase lead by Dr. Van de Ven and a successful pilot intervention conducted in 2017, Dr. Van de Ven will be responsible for the further development of an extensive ICT system for the support of these depression interventions. In addition to server functionality and web interfaces for various stakeholders, the system contains an Android app that presents the full psychosocial intervention in the form of multi-media resources, tasks for the patient to complete, checklists and medical assessments. Input provided by patients and their care givers is used to automatically adapt the intervention to the particular user. Such adaptation is a key component of any psychosocial intervention and normally creates a requirement for highly skilled providers of the intervention. The core innovation in this project is that the automated and personalised treatment adaptations allow less skilled, and thus less costly, care givers to provide the intervention. Such strategies are known as task shifting and are a core element in solving one of the most important barriers to access to healthcare in low to middle income countries, namely appropriate human resources.

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