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Podcasting for health

Validation of a structured intervention using podcasts in conjunction with clinician time to explore health beliefs to improve physical and mental health.

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  • Proposal
  • 2020

Meet the team

What is the positive change that has emerged through new collaborations or partnerships during Covid-19 that your project is going to embed?

In primary care we completely restructured our practice in days in response to COVID-19. Much of this change was focused on the use of technologies to enable remote consulting and maintain social distance.

Podcasts have become increasingly popular over the past few years and around 7.1 million people in the UK now listen to podcasts each week. They are readily accessible, free, with no waiting lists. Podcasts are potentially a fantastic resource for delivering remote healthcare during the pandemic and beyond.

COVID-19 will have consequences on health extending far beyond the ICU, with incalculable impact on the socio-economic determinants of health. Coupled with a global collective consciousness of heightened health anxiety this is likely to create a “third wave” pandemic of physical and mental illness, as we contend with long-COVID. A compassionate exploration of health beliefs with an holistic approach encompassing body and mind could play a role in the solution.

What does your project aim to achieve?

Western medicine is a fantastic thing, but there are some problems that it is not so good at addressing. More than this, occasionally it has the potential to become part of the problem.

The impact of health beliefs on actual health is widely recognised and has been extensively researched. However, I’m unaware of any current therapies or interventions that actively seek to augment health beliefs as a means to improving health. Cambridge Progressive Medicine has been designed as a structured program which aims to explore health beliefs, the interaction between body and mind; thoughts, feeling and actions (lifestyle) and our overall state of health and wellbeing.

Through the use of podcasts it aims to maximise impact and optimise clinician time to enable delivery within the confines of standard GP consultations. As a free, easily and immediately accessible resource I hope its contribution to reduction of health inequality is clear.

How will the project be delivered?

I have been developing the podcast in my dining room over the past 18 months and have been using it opportunistically to consult with patients with some anecdotal positive results.

This project aims to develop the concept further, using the funding to implement a pilot scheme for a dedicated service, delivering the intervention for a cohort of patients referred by their own GP. The model would be a research project to demonstrate feasibility, acceptability and efficacy using pre- and post-intervention PSQ-9, GAD-7, and patient feedback questionnaires.

How is your project going to share learning?

Creating these podcasts has been an incredible journey for me and has caused me to reflect carefully on my role as a GP, and on the message I would want to deliver to my patients without the barrier of the ubiquitous time pressures which exist across our health service. In selected consults having the podcast available has dramatically changed the way I consult and the types of problems I might try to address within the time frames available.

It would be fantastic if other clinicians could learn from this work, and even considering creating their own resource to support their consulting.

With a mental health epidemic, increasing health anxiety and associated functional symptoms and illness, I believe that the recognition of the inseparability of mental and physical health, holistic approaches, compassion based care, mentalisation and lived experience are going to become increasingly important in the successful delivery of healthcare.

How you can contribute

  • I would welcome advice from those with experience in clinical research or implementing a new service, and I would greatly appreciate guidance on potential hurdles, things that will need to be considered, ethical approvals etc.
  • To date I have been developing the content of the podcast completely independently. I would really appreciate constructive professional feedback on the current content of the podcast, what works, and what doesn't, and new areas to develop.
  • A collaboration with anyone with expertise in clinical research, primary care, psychology, psychiatry, holistic and alternative medicine would be incredible.
  • I am not completely adverse to restructuring, rewriting or completely overhauling the content if it could produce a better service. Do bear in mind that a lot of my time, passion, heart and soul went into producing what I currently have, even in its raw state, so please be kind!

Plan timeline

1 Dec 2020 Analysis of pre-post intervention data at 9 months.
1 Feb 2021 Presentation of data. Write up findings for publication.
1 Mar 2021 Identification of local practices for inclusion in project.
1 Apr 2021 Recruitment of patients for inclusion in the intervention.
1 Nov 2021 Regular clinics delivering the service / data collection.


  1. Hi. My colleague, Pete Dudgeon, and I are working with the Health Foundation to support conversations and collaboration among Q members during this Q Exchange round. We were successful as Q Exchange bidders last year, with Improving Improvement, so we're hoping that our experience will help others' ideas to develop and take shape.

    Your idea for podcasting is a great innovation arising that I'm sure will create interest for others addressing similar challenges. At this stage, it might be helpful to generate some support and some colleagues for collaboration. There's a Special Interest Group that is focused on Primary Care that you might want to comment in to raise interest - equally I think some of the Q members working on health psychology, self-management etc might be interested. Equally, there's a function in the website that allows you to find Q members within your local area which could throw up some opportunities for collaboration.

    Good luck with your idea - I look forward to seeing how it develops.

    Best wishes, Emma

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