Academic thoughts during the pandemic
Coronavirus continues to illuminate many research areas that are championed by members of the Society for Social Medicine and Population Health. Like the vast majority of diseases that we as a society face in the UK and Ireland, the vast brunt of the morbidity and mortality appears to be following a well-documented pattern of gradients of health with those experiencing greater exposure to the virus and the associated harms. Compounding these health inequalities are the ethnic inequalities in health which have seen minority ethnic groups experiencing higher mortality rates than their white peers, despite their younger age profile.
The trajectory of the pandemic on further societal health outcomes is unclear. It is however likely that in addition to the well-documented morbidity and mortality, both the wider economic and mental health impacts on society will be profound, and once again these impacts are likely to follow a social gradient.
As researchers in this field and members of this society, we have a lot to offer in shaping the path forwards through our research in the broad field of population health as well as methodological expertise, ensuring that the research is conducted appropriately. This year the society’s meeting will be moving online for the first time in the history of society. Whilst obviously disappointing to not be able to meet face to face, this may have the unexpected bonus of democratising attendance for many society members. The pandemic has highlighted the often unequal allocation of caring roles and responsibilities within households which often make it harder for some members to attend conferences than others. The availability of online sessions and the ability to playback recorded presentations at a time and place of your choice will offer a new way to engage with scholarly work in our field.
This year may also be challenging on the career front with the many extra responsibilities and challenges that we are all dealing with, both personal and professional. If members think that mentorship could be helpful to them, this is a reminder that this is offered to all members irrespective of whether they identify as early career, mid-career or senior career level. I can only speak for myself, but I have found the independent nature of the mentorship programme offered by the society helpful and enriching as both a mentor and mentee.
MCR Subcommittee Co-Chair