Examining the Environment and the Community – The HEART Ways
Just about halfway through, the HEART project has reached the point where its goals and values are recognized and supported by the citizens who will dedicate their time and attention to participating in a comprehensive clinical study. This study will be conducted in Aarhus (DK), Belgrade (SER), and Athens (GRE) simultaneously and our medical experts will be constantly monitoring the daily results and inputs provided by the selected citizens. At this phase, the participants are chosen among the groups of patients diagnosed with at least one of the groups of diseases: cardiovascular, pulmonary, mental and metabolic.
In the previous period, our partners have developed methodological tools and instruments to be deployed in the coming months aiming to explore the public health impact of natural blue-green spaces (BGSs). More specifically, within the planned pilot study, environmental, socioeconomic and health, and well-being data will be collected through specially designed instruments, created for the purpose of this study, based on the predefined indicators.
In simple words, most of the recruited persons to participate in the demonstration phase will be equipped with wearable devices, designed to track one’s health status: heart rate, oxygen saturation, pulse, and so on. On the other hand, different types of wearable devices will provide our experts with information on the mental health status of the wearer.
Unwaveringly highlighting the connection and mutual dependence between physical and mental health and how they are affected by environmental circumstances, the HEART medical experts in all three cities will combine the data provided by the wearables and the existing environmental, in situ sensors, using artificial intelligence and machine learning to process the data.
To prepare the “ground” and monitor how different social groups are affected by the combination of certain environmental and socio-cultural variables, our experts developed a detailed questionnaire for the participants. It includes sections on sociodemographic characteristics, life satisfaction, quality of life, well-being, and health behavior with respect to the common risk factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, dietary habits, stress, and physical activity) for the leading noncommunicable disease that is subject of the study. In addition, the questionnaire includes a set of questions related to their personal use and quality of experience as well as self-perceived characteristics of selected BGSs such as accessibility, safety, friendliness, and attractiveness.
Aiming to overcome the digital divide and unequal access to digital tools, our experts offer for the survey to be filled out online, using the mobile app developed for the purpose of the HEART project, or on paper, for the best convenience of each participant. The questionnaire is just about to be distributed in the early days of May, and using the developed survey instrument, the data will be collected from all the participants in the study regardless of the disease group they belong to as well as healthy participants.
Combining knowledge, expertise, and ground-breaking technology with the genuine human experience and perception of the environment, our experts will produce evidence that the various Blue-Green Solutions have an undoubtful, positive effect on public health and well-being.
The essential purpose of the HEART project is to affect the professionals’ and decision-makers mindsets to strive for better urban planning and encourage citizens to adopt healthier and more active lifestyles.