NESI Article

Student & ECR Spotlight - Amber Guest’s PhD aims to improve the health profile of truck drivers using a multi-component RCT

28 July 2019

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

I worked for the ambulance service in the UK since finishing college, which sparked my interest in lifestyle and health, and critically, the consequences of when these get neglected. To gain a further insight into this, I began studying Human Biology as an undergraduate at Loughborough University. My dissertation focused on the cardiometabolic health and sedentary behaviour of ambulance workers. Having graduated with a First-Class BSc Honours degree, I then worked as a Research Assistant for a multi-component RCT to investigate the effectiveness of a Structured Health Intervention For Truckers (SHIFT). This study aims to increase the health profile of truck drivers, with the primary objective of increasing objectively measured physical activity. Having successfully achieved funding from the Colt Foundation, I commenced my PhD in the process evaluation of this study in 2019.

 

How would you briefly describe your current research/job to someone who is not familiar with your field of study/work? What is your main research interest?

I am conducting the process evaluation of a large randomised controlled trial, to determine facilitators and barriers to the implementation of the study. I am using a mixed methods approach to determine the fidelity of the programme, which will provide me with rich contextual factors and determine what components of the study did or didn’t work so well in the real-world context. I’m also working on a systematic review to determine the cardiometabolic and mental health profile of truck drivers globally.

 

What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?

The transportation and logistics sector is inherently a 24/7 operation. It is a fast-paced, economically competitive and time-critical environment. Organising meetings, health assessments, focus groups, workshops or interviews, all must be incorporated in this 24/7 system. As a result, there are difficulties with scheduling in these critical components of the health intervention, in this hard to reach population. 

 

What could help you as a student/ECR to further develop/grow in your current position?

I love finding out what other researchers are doing. Attending the ISBNPA conference and the NESI workshop has opened my eyes to how much other interesting research is currently taking place all around the globe. Getting different perspectives on how to go about researching a particular phenomenon gives me different viewpoints I may have not considered before. I would love to gain connections both locally and globally. Though I still have time on my hands, it is never too early to start investigating the next stages in my career.

 

What do you think will be the next most important development in the nutrition and/or physical activity field? 

A lot of health promotion programmes reach their objectives in efficacy trials but the outcomes differ enormously when these trials are taken into the real-world setting. I’d really like to see more emphasis on the evaluation, and particularly the implementation fidelity in current health interventions in the real-world setting, which can increase the validity. This will also help with bridging the gap between research and policy, as it can support decision making by assessing the value of a programme tailored to what the policy makers or the community deem as successful. I was shocked to find out just how little impact research currently has on policy, and I think better evaluation of the health intervention programmes would combat this.

 

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Get in touch with Amber on email: a.guest@lboro.ac.uk, follow her on Twitter: @AmberGuest93, or connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/amber-guest