The End of Data Collection – so what happens next?

Summer time for everyone!

Now that we’ve entered the summer term it’s time to stop collecting the weekly school absence data. Did I just hear a sigh of relief? The national data suggest that whilst there is still small amounts of flu circulating, levels are low, so it’s a good time to end this part of the project.

To be honest, data collection is always a bit boring. To epidemiologists, we’re about to enter the most exciting part of the research where we get to start analysing THE COMPLETE DATASET! So now is a great time to get your spreadsheets dirty and decipher our data.

There have been some great lab logs and we’ve had an excellent report submitted already. I’d love to hear from other schools about your insights into what’s been going on in your area. I’d also be very happy to help with any questions you might have about best to analyse your data. It’s also worth mentioning that whilst we’re no longer collecting data each week, it’s not too late to upload your historical data if you haven’t done so already (or send it to Emily, and she will upload it for you). The more data the better!

The next few months are going to be really busy for me. I’ll be meeting with experts here in my department to work out the finer points on how to analyse the data and they’ll be helping me to interpret the findings. I’ll aim to keep you updated with progress as we work through things. The plan is to get everything finished around August, ready to submit our results for publication in a scientific journal by September.

The fact that the peak in the national flu data occurred over the Christmas school holidays will make our analysis that much more difficult. But I’m still hoping we can go some way to answering the main research question: can school absence data detect flu peaks early?

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