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Research impact

The Institute for Global Health and Development at Queen Margaret University (QMU) has a long history of research on vulnerable populations both overseas and in Scotland.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute produced a briefing paper commissioned by the Department for International Development and the National Institute of Health Research which provided guidance to health planners, managers and professionals in planning COVID-19 response globally.

Subsequently, its researchers were invited to advise on identifying and addressing social isolation in refugees in the UK during lockdown. They received requests from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office for studies to inform the UK’s aid strategy in Lebanon; Sierra Leone; the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar; and Nepal.

The Institute was also commissioned to advise the United Nations Relief and Works Agency regarding COVID-19 prevention and treatment in Gaza and Lebanon. Additionally, it was invited to support the World Health Organisation in Gaziantep (Turkey) in planning a strategy for north-west Syria through a virtual implementation of the Institute’s group modelling methodology. In Azerbaijan its researchers supported the Government’s response to the mental health burden of COVID-19.

In Scotland, with funding from Scottish Government, the Institute worked with QMU’s Psychology Department to research the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on loneliness on Scotland’s refugees and asylum seekers. The research demonstrated the effects of sudden-onset isolation, whilst challenging assumptions that isolation inevitably results in loneliness and poor mental health.

Through action-research in collaboration with refugee support organisations, the Institute also documented the experiences of these marginalised groups and identified coping, resilience and effective support mechanisms.