The Coffee Break 77

News updates this fortnight covers improvement, mental health and knowledge management . The coffee break is split into sections so you can easily scroll through each area of interest.



Firstly this fortnight, The Kings’ Fund reports on the ‘Wigan Deal’, a major transformation of public services within Wigan. With budget cuts of around 40% in over 10 years the ‘Wigan Deal’ has shown that it is possible to achieve substantial savings whilst protecting or improving outcomes. Core elements of the deal include: recognizing and nurturing the strengths of individuals to build independence and self-reliance; a culture in which innovation is encouraged; investment in local voluntary sector organisations and community groups and a more flexible, integrated way of working across organisation boundaries.

Researchers from Illinois University in Chicago have published their research into the use of the ‘focused conversation method’ for qualitative research studies in a healthcare setting. Integrating interdisciplinary teams of investigators who view data through the lens of their own discipline can be challenging therefore new methods are needed to facilitate and improve qualitative data analysis. The focused conversation method, traditionally used in business and education to design and guide conversations, uses a series of questions that draw upon ways in which humans process and make judgements about information, while promoting order and systematic dialogue.

Moving on, a study published by the BMJ compared the use of music to anxiety-reducing medication before an operation. The music, written by the music group Marconi Union in collaboration with sound therapists is considered to be the ‘world’s most relaxing songs’ as it aims to reduce anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate. 157 patients were given either the drug, midazolam or played the ‘world’s most relaxing song’ then after 3 minutes were given a single-injection nerve block. Results of the trial showed that listening to the music was just as good at calming patient’s nerve as the medication.


Mental Health

A short video by the BBC looks at “Waterloo Uncovered” an archaeological dig which is helping British servicemen and women with physical and mental health issues.

Researchers from the University of Queensland have investigated the 18 year life expectancy gap between people with mental illness and the general population. A psychiatrist from the Queensland explains that people with mental illness can die up to 18 years earlier than the general population, caused not just by suicide but from physical health issues like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and lifestyle factors. “It can be hard for people with mental illness to engage with primary healthcare providers, although they may still see their psychiatrist” Dr Siskind goes on to suggest “a ‘one-stop-shop’ where patients can have their mental health and physical health needs met by a team of experts, can lead to improved health care outcomes”.


Knowledge Management

And finally this week, an article in the Harvard Business Review explores why some employees don’t share knowledge with each other. Companies want employees to share what they know, yet many employees withhold information – they may pretend not to know, promise to share but never do or tell people they can’t share when in fact they can. Research has found that the way jobs are designed can affect whether employees hide or share knowledge. The more cognitively complex jobs involving processing large amounts of information and complex problems promotes more knowledge sharing as did jobs that offered more autonomy.