The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have been far reaching and impacted communities across the world.

Now Lews Castle College UHI is launching a new project to assess how the pandemic has particularly impacted on how people in rural and remote areas in Scotland seek help for physical symptoms.

It is already well established that seeking help for health reasons can take longer and be more complicated in remote areas such as the Outer Hebrides.

There is now growing concern that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be an increase in the number of deaths that can be avoided from things like cancer or heart disease, and that this could impact on those living in remote in rural communities.

Researchers from LCC UHI want to understand what influences help-seeking for new physical health symptoms, and to understand what people feel are barriers to seeking help. Knowing this will help to inform public health messages and help design better access to healthcare services.

Project leader Dr Gareth Davies said: “At LCC UHI our research and innovation activity is centered in our communities and we use our expertise to collaborate and engage with national and international projects and initiatives. It is essential that our work reflects the needs of our local communities.

This project seeks to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the way people seek helps for physical symptoms. This can affect peoples’ health and their ability work and contribute to the local and regional economy.”

NHS Western Isles Research & Development Lead, Martin Malcolm, said: “The Western Isles in common with areas across the country have seen reductions in people accessing services during the pandemic for variety of reasons.  It's important to understand these as we seek to encourage people to continue to come forward with concerning health complaints.

“This study is greatly welcome and will complement our NHS data to help us understand the factors involved, particularly in our remote and rural communities. 

"NHS Western Isles is committed to collaborating with local research that addresses the particular challenges around health among our remote island communities.”

We are currently looking for people to take part in our research. Find out more on the research project and how you can take part here -

https://www.lews.uhi.ac.uk/research/harp-cov-help-seeking-among-rural-populations/