RGU and charity to research coping with long-term illnesses on low income

Thursday 14 March 2019

Dr Flora Douglas
RGU and Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) are carrying out research to find out how those on a limited income and using food banks cope with a long-term health condition.

The study aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people who may be struggling to manage their long-term health condition, due to financial insecurity. Illnesses that have been affecting people for over a year are considered long-term; for example, but not limited to cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis.

The researchers have carried out previous research into whether those who suffer from a long-term health condition and are on low-income can maintain a nutritious diet, meeting their needs.

CFINE comes across food bank and financial support beneficiaries every day, who take oral medication regularly, yet are having to decrease the number of meals to one or two a day because of restricted access to food. Individuals and families who are dependent on emergency food aid and have special dietary requirements – for instance coping with food intolerance or diabetes – may also find it difficult to feed themselves.

Food banks rely on donations from organisations and members of the public, therefore cannot always meet the dietary requirements of individuals.

RGU's research will be carried out by a team led by Dr Flora Douglas from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Chris Yuill, Head of Sociology at the School of Applied Social Studies.

Dr Flora Douglas, Principal Investigator of the study, said: “Food insecurity is a significant public health problem that is affecting a range of vulnerable groups across the country, and one that has only just last month been recognised by the UK Government as something requiring closer attention through regular monitoring. We know that a significant proportion of the population lacks adequate access to enough nutritious food, and believe that our research, in partnership with CFINE, will provide a clearer picture of the specific challenges faced by those who are living with both food poverty and long-term health conditions, and what might done to help tackle those.”  

Dave Simmers, CEO of CFINE said: “CFINE’s food bank distributes over 100 emergency food parcels five days a week. Because of the increasing magnitude of food poverty and insecurity in Aberdeen, food banks cannot keep up with specific needs.  CFINE is pleased to work in partnership with RGU on the research. We hope that by conducting the study and raising awareness, this can lead to positive changes that will have a beneficial effect on people’s lives.”

The partners of the study are looking to recruit 20 participants on a voluntary basis who would be willing to share their experiences. The study will run from March through to the end of May, and its results will be analysed with the initial result publicised in July 2019.