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Biggest-ever funding in the School of Nursing kicks off community participatory research to reduce COVID-19

24 Sep 2021

The School of Nursing alongside the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences in PolyU have secured a total of HK$ 55.88 million from the Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) of the Food and Health Bureau, HK Government. This is the secondCOVID-19 related HMRF fund that we have received and the biggest research support the School has ever obtained.


The study entitled ‘A Community-Based Participatory Research Approach to Reduce the Covid-19 Risk in Hong Kong: Developing and Testing Social and Behavioural Interventions’ is led by Prof. Alex Molasiotis**[Angel S.P. Chan Lau Professor in Health and Longevity] , Chair Professor of Nursing and Head of the School of Nursing. The study is among the 18 research proposals approved for funding by HMRF recently. This 4-year programme of research is funded with over HK$ 27.6 million. 


The research study consists of five individual but inter-related projects targeting different groups in the society, such as ethnic minorities, caregivers of persons with chronic illness, students and the general workforce, with a common theme: Applying digital technology to enhance COVID-19 related health literacy, adherence to hygiene practices and infection control policies, as well as vaccination and early testing rates.

Two eye-catching digital innovations in this programme of research are the AI-driven Vaccine Communicator and Virtual Reality Game-based Educational Intervention. The former is a web-based psycho-educational programme that incorporates the AI-driven Digital Assistant, which engages users in interactive communications and motivational interviewing skills, as well as providing relevant and effective information in addressing their hesitancy towards vaccines. The latter applies virtual reality technology to help school children learn about the routes of infection of COVID-19 and its reproduction in the host. It aims to improve hand-hygiene compliance, respiratory etiquette, and knowledge of early testing among primary school students.


Another uniqueness of this programme of research lies on its community-based participatory approach. The planning and development of health educational programmes is usually professionally-oriented with limited inputs from recipients. The research team, however, attempts to break away from the traditional top-down approach and will adopt a community-based participatory bottom-up approach to engage the health education recipients in idea exchange, discussions, and creating and evaluating the educational materials to ensure that the interventions are appropriate and culturally specific to them. ‘We are going to listen to the stakeholders and integrate their views into the development of the interventions to address their needs and specific conditions,’ said Prof. Alex Molasiotis, ‘This engagement will also enhance the community capacity to respond to future health challenges and achieve more sustainable and impactful results.’

*Prof. Angela Leung’s (Principal Investigator) ‘Blended Gaming COVID-19 Training System’ (prototype) was one of the COVID-19 commissioned research projects selected by the Food and Health Bureau last year and her team was given over HK$1.2 million from the HMRF for developing and implementing the system.


**Prof. Alex Molasiotis (Principal Applicant), Prof. Angela Leung, Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PI); Dr Grace Xie (Co-PI), Dr Grace Ho (Co-PI), Dr Yan Li (Co-PI), PolyU’s School of Nursing; Dr Polly Leung (Co-PI) [PolyU’s Department of Health Technology and Informatics]; Dr Jenny Hua Li Wang, Family Medicine and Primary Healthcare (FMPH), Hospital Authority (HA); Dr Catherine Xiao Rui Chen, FMPH, HA; and Dr Danny Wah Kun Tong, Senior Manager (Nursing)/Principal Nursing Officer, HA.

Press Contacts

Miss Helen Hsu

Communications Manager, School of Nursing

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