On the 4th and 5th of December 2021, we had the fantastic opportunity to host an event in the Open City Lab at We The Curious, the science and educational centre in Bristol. ‘Shopping Trolley Secrets’ provided visitors with the chance to visit researchers in the Lab and engage with a real-life research project. Younger visitors could fill their shopping baskets with their favourite food and come and talk to researchers about their choices. Visitors were also asked to imagine what kind of stories their loyalty card could tell about their health and to envisage how their shopping history data could be used for health research. We talked visitors through the various different categories of data that researchers would have access to, such as the timestamp and type of product purchased. We were also interested in how they would feel about sharing their health status alongside their shopping history data for greater insight into the link between diet and disease.
Many visitors were enthusiastic about sharing this novel form of data with university researchers in order to understand more about various diseases, such as diabetes, albeit with certain caveats. For instance, they were interested to learn more about how data could be transferred to researchers, how reliable the data was and how it would be kept safe.
The event provided us with invaluable feedback about how best to develop our future research programme and in particular, how we can get the public on board for sharing shopping history data for health research.
A further event is planned for 2022 at We The Curious as part of their Health, Body and Wellbeing season. More updates will be posted on our page nearer the time!
By Kate Shiells