“Gesundheit messen”: Methods for evidence-based health promotion

Funding: Bavarian State Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs, Science and the Arts

Fields of competence: Measurement and sensor technology, health promotion and organisational development, bioanalytics

Time frame: 01.01.2018 – 31.12.2021

At the Coburg University of Applied Sciences, two main research areas have been established: “Health Promotion” and “Measurement and Sensor Technology”. The common intersection of the two research areas is reflected in an interdisciplinary approach to the preservation, restoration and promotion of health, quality of life and well-being, performance as well as mobility and autonomy of people in their social environment.

By interlinking the two existing research priorities with the research fields of bioanalytics and insurance, analysis and sensor technologies will be established within the research project “Gesundheit messen (measuring health)”, which form the basis for evidence-based health promotion. At the same time, both health economic and socio-ethical considerations are included and taken into account. This paves the way for an overall evaluation of the interventions and the measurement and sensor technology as well as an analysis with regard to the use and application in insurance solutions.

For a sustainable transfer of tried and tested intervention programmes as well as practical measurement systems and procedures, a close cooperation with industrial partners from the social and economic sectors takes place. The development of research and management structures and the topic-related networking with industry and users is established and consolidated in the lead project “Dehydration”. Dehydration is a widespread phenomenon, especially in an ageing society. In particular, creeping and undetected dehydration often leads to enormous health problems, the prevention of which is the aim of the lead project. To this end, three cooperative doctoral theses will be carried out in the following focal points.

Focus on bioanalytics – Prof. Dr. Stefan Kalkhof & Prof. Dr. Janosch Hildebrand:

The doctoral thesis “Bioanalytics” combines already established markers of acute dehydration with the search for new biochemical and molecular biological markers using blood and urine samples. These will enable the stratification of population groups for health promotion. The aim is to identify the most suitable preventive measures and to make the success of interventions measurable. Prof. Dr. Stefan Kalkhof, together with Prof. Dr. Janosch Hildebrand, is the co-head of the doctorate.

Based on the development topic of dehydration, Prof. Dr. Susanne Aileen Funke and Prof. Dr. Matthias Noll support the further development of the research area with their expertise in the field of biomarkers, hygiene and microbiomes. The medical supervision, supervision of the sampling, consultation and evaluation of findings are carried out by the newly appointed professor and habilitated physician Mrs. Meißner.

Focus on health promotion – Prof. Dr. Holger Hassel:

The aim of the doctoral thesis “Health Promotion” under the direction of Prof. Dr. Holger Hassel is to test sustainable strategies (1) for the promotion of sufficient hydration and (2) prevention of dehydration in a participatory manner with the target groups and practice partners in different settings. The focus here is on determining needs for both self-monitoring and evaluation for multipliers. The challenge is to establish practical and reliable measuring instruments and procedures that can be used by the very heterogeneous addressees themselves as well as by multipliers in the inpatient sector. The doctoral thesis supports the other two projects in order to ensure proximity to the application and to be able to analyse the achievable effects.

Prof. Dr. Niko Kohls supports the research project as a medical psychologist with his research activities in the field of “age management” in neurobiological and health psychological questions. In the field of health economics & risk management, Prof. Dr. Mirko Kraft brings in his expertise in the field of insurance.

Focus on sensor technology – Prof. Dr. Klaus Stefan Drese:

The dissertation “Sensorics” under the direction of Prof. Dr. Klaus Stefan Drese investigates the suitability of non-invasive sensors for the daily monitoring of hydration. The challenge here is to identify a multiparameter sensor system that reliably detects the hydration state but is also sufficiently robust against disturbance variables and is also suitable for mobile use in terms of size and energy consumption. Research in this field is currently hampered by the fact that there is no method for quantifying the hydration state. In order to measure the hydration state reliably, three measuring principles are to be combined with each other for the first time. It is planned to investigate the suitability of a microacoustic sensor system for the measurement of mechanical properties of human tissue in order to assess the degree of dehydration. The acoustic sensor technology will be supplemented by an electrical sensor for the measurement of dielectric tissue properties, which will be supported by Prof. Dr. Michael Rossner with his expertise in the field of electrical field probes. These two measuring methods are combined with an optical method for the measurement of absorption bands (H2O spectra), which also allow conclusions to be drawn about the water content of the tissue. Prof. Dr. Maria Kufner contributes her knowledge in the field of microoptics.