Ongoing longitudinal projects and international networks:
The cross-national study „Health Behaviour in School-aged Children – HBSC“ (http://www.hbsc.org/)
Duration of the project: Since 1992.
Principal Investigator: Kastytis Šmigelskas
Home page: http://www.hbsc.org/
The HBSC research network is an international alliance of researchers that collaborate on the cross-national survey of school pupils. The research venture dates back to 1982, when researchers from England, Finland and Norway agreed to develop and implement a shared research protocol to survey school children. By 1983 the HBSC study was adopted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe as a collaborative study. HBSC now includes 48 countries and regions across Europe and North America. Official representative for Lithuania – Health Research Institute.
This research collaboration brings in individuals with a wide range of expertise in areas such as clinical medicine, epidemiology, human biology, pediatrics, pedagogy, psychology, public health, public policy, and sociology. The approach to study development has therefore involved cross-fertilization of a range of perspectives.
As such, the HBSC study is the product of topic-focused groups that collaborate to develop the conceptual foundations of the study, identify research questions, decide the methods and measurements to be employed, and work on data analyses and the dissemination of findings.
The HBSC collects data every four years on 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys' and girls' health and well-being, social environments and health behaviours. These years mark a period of increased autonomy that can influence how their health and health-related behaviours develop. The international standard questionnaire produced for every survey cycle enables the collection of common data across all participating countries and thus enables the quantification of patterns of key health behaviours, health indicators and contextual variables. These data allow cross-national comparisons to be made and, with successive surveys, trend data is gathered and may be examined at both the national and cross-national level. For many years HBSC Lithuania data is widely used by Lithuanian parliament, Health care and Education ministries, NGO’s, supported the background of various international and national level projects. Thus, this representative data have been used and for academic purposes – during all these HBSC years, lots of master and bachelor thesis were written, as well as PhD studies.
WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative COSI
Duration of the project: Since 2007.
Principal Investigator: Aušra Petrauskienė
The WHO European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI), is a unique system that for over 10 years has measured trends in overweight and obesity among primary school aged children. COSI involves taking standardized weight and height measurements from over 250 000 children across the WHO European Region, providing nationally representative data for participating countries, as well as a large Region-wide data set for analysis of the determinants of childhood overweight and obesity.
Scientific cooperation with HeartMath Institute (USA) (HMI)
Duration of the project: 2014 years till the present.
Principal Investigator: Alfonsas Vainoras
Cooperation with the HMI started in 2014 by donating and installing a pT sensitivity magnetometer on the territory of the LSMU Institute of Animal Science, in the middle of Lithuania. The area of the magnetic vibrations recorded by this magnetometer is about 300 km, thus covering the entire territory of Lithuania. This is the first magnetometer of this sensitivity in Europe. There are currently six magnetometers operating in the world - California in the United States, Canada, Alberta, Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, New Zealand and the Republic of South Africa. The magnetometer records electromagnetic vibrations in two directions - North-South and East-West, quantifying signals at a frequency of 130 Hz. Using these magnetometer-registered processes, research is mainly carried out in the HMI, the US and Lithuanian LSMU and KTU institutions. HMI works at the beginning of the project were the formation of data access, KTU has been carrying out and conducting the search and development of new analytical methods. The LSMU staff collected data and analyzed the interconnections between the human psychological and health statuses and the local magnetic field characteristics. One of the first works was to search and develop methods for simultaneously analyzing human-to-Earth parameters recorded. This is summarized in the publication "Human heart rhythm sensitivity to local magnetic field fluctuations". A methodology was developed using a developed matrix analysis that allows comparing Earth's magnetic field and human heart rate changes, their synchrony, and even assessing the sensitivity of each person to these magnetic field fluctuations. In the next years of cooperation, 2015, it was agreed to conduct a Worldwide Survey, recording the human heart rate and Earth's magnetic field in five countries around the World. In parallel, the same heart rate monitors were recorded heart rate for 20 persons simultaneously in the United States, Saudi Arabia, London, Kaunas and N. Zealand. The results have already been summarized in several publications, but a deeper analysis of them continues, one of the publications on this topic "Identification of a Group's Physiological Synchronization with Earth's Magnetic Field." These works required the use of new data processing technologies, which were further developed by the staff of the KTU Department of Mathematical Modeling, in the publication „Weighted moving averaging revisited: an algebraic approach“. Work was continued on the study of the interconnection between man and the Earth's magnetic fields, examining both field characteristics and human physiological states, and continues to develop now. In this direction of work, "Long-Term Study of Heart Rate Variability Responses to Changes in the Solar and Geomagnetic Environment" and "Synchronization of Human Autonomic Nervous System Rhythms with Geomagnetic Activity in Human Subjects" are printed. A doctoral study (Doctor Roza Jofe) is also taking place in this direction of work, examining the connection between the fluctuations of the Earth's magnetic field and the aspects of the psychophysiological state of a person. Next, in 2017 together with KTU Department of Mathematical Modeling, we have developed algorithms and programs for more detailed analysis of the magnetic field of the Earth. Similarly, the Earth magnetic field recorded in Schuman's resonance was split into five frequency ranges compatible with EEG recorded frequencies. This is Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beth, and Gamma. Calculate the power of these frequencies for the whole year period, day and hour intervals. For this period, statistics related to the appearance of heart rhythm disturbances (AFF), referrals of patients to the LSMU clinic and cases of myocardial infarctions were collected. The article "Correlation between Changes in the Local Earth Magnetic Field and Cases of Acute Myocardial Infarction" was prepared, analyzing the relationships between patients with myocardial infarction and changes in the Earth's magnetic field based on the experience of the LSMU Cardiology Clinic.
Studies of the features of human health, disease and magnetic field interactions are going.
Countrywide Noncommunicable Disease Intervention (CINDI)
Duration: Since 1985
Representatives: Mindaugas Štelemėkas
CINDI was formally established by WHO as an international project in 1985 for the WHO European Region as a response to the challenge of a very high level of preventable non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Lithuania (Kaunas Medical Institute) had participated in a project from the very beginning and performed 5 screenings (1983, 1987, 1993, 1999, 2007). The current CINDI network concentrates in an experience sharing activities throughout the annual course entitled: “Evidence-based Public Health: A Course in Chronic Disease Prevention” and irregular topic specific events “CINDI Policy Academy”. The origins of the course may be tracked back in 1997 altogether with the WHO CINDI project. Since 2002, a training course in Austria has been organised annually. This was the first European-American collaborative training effort on EBPH capacity building. It has been organised by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Control, the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, CINDI-Austria, CINDI-Canada, CINDI-Finland, CINDI-Lithuania, CINDI-Portugal, and CINDI-Slovenia. A 4 day training seminar is traditionally hosted by CINDI-Austria with administrative support by CINDI-Lithuania, and lecturers are delegated by American partners as well as by the leading CINDI network countries (Austria, Canada, Finland, Lithuania, Portugal). In average around 20 participants are recruited every year. Since 2016 the WHO CINDI has transformed to a CINDI network as a non-governmental organization registered in Switzerland (Geneva). The EBPH course activities are not only resulting to an educational course but is also used as a platform for the researchers to meet, discuss and plan collaborative research initiatives.
Health Systems and Policy Monitor (HSPM)
Duration: Since 2014
Representatives: Mindaugas Štelemėkas, Laura Miščikienė, Kristina Žalnieraitienė
Home page: https://www.hspm.org/mainpage.aspx
HSPM Lithuanian profile:
The HSPM network is an international group of high profile institutions with a prestigious reputation and academic standing in health systems and policy analysis. The HSPM is an innovative platform that provides a detailed description of health systems and provides up to date information on reforms and changes that are particularly policy relevant. HSPM is managed and coordinated by the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies which supports and promotes evidence-based health policy-making through comprehensive and rigorous analysis of the dynamics of health-care systems in Europe. The Observatory engages directly with policy-makers and experts, and works in partnership with research centres, governments and international organizations to analyse health systems and policy trends.
Project Babies Born Better
Principal Investigator: Giedrė Širvinskienė.
Home page: http://www.babiesbornbetter.org/
Babies Born Better is a long term project examining the views and experiences of women who have given birth in the last 5 year. The aim of the Babies Born Better project is to become a major resource for the improvement of maternal and childbirth care around the world. By finding out what works, for whom and in what circumstances, the project data will provide insight into best practice during birth.
The survey came out of the work of the COST Action IS0907: Changing childbirth cultures and consequences. This was a 4 year EU funded networking project which involved over 120 participants from 26 countries. The Action’s aim was to advance scientific knowledge about ways of improving maternity care provision and outcomes for mothers, babies and families across Europe by understanding what works, for who, in what circumstances, and by identifying and learning from the best.