The autoethnographic project will be a long-term four-year-long, continuous mixed-methods report on the impact of nutritional, sleep health, physical activity, and social interventions on us: a family of four at high risk of exclusion due to financial difficulties and the damage caused by the mental health problems and the toxic dynamics of my own family of origin (with two diagnosed cases of schizophrenia, and a long history of transgenerational neglect and abuse).
The aim is to increase the understanding of how and when new routines should be introduced to maximize cognitive health, boost mental resilience, and ensure well-being, by sharing the experience in as much detail, methodically, and in-depth as possible. It will provide a first-hand, long-term account of the difficulties experienced, enjoyed benefits, constant progress tracking, and overall results of implementing evidence-based interventions to minimize the impact of negative factors (power abuses and threats, economic precarity, social exclusion due to racism, lack of social support network due to immigrant status) and maximize both acuity and well-being (nutritional optimization, introduction and tracking of physical exercise and sleep health routines, development of nurturing social ties), adding valuable, in-depth, rich qualitative and quantitative data to the scientific literature following FAIR principles (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets), helping assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of different approaches and options.
The project will complement this open science journal -which I will be using much more often from now on-, as a way to be as transparent as possible about my experience and the whole research process: what is it like to be a cognitive scientist, the struggle to become an established academic and a physician-scientist in a society that barely provides any opportunities nor much support for early career researchers and their families, and overall what it entails to go through a medical and a doctoral degree while under economic hardship not just for me, but for my wife and kids:
The research project will last four years, from June 2022 to the end of summer 2026, producing a vast amount of open research data (monitoring exercise, heart rate, sleep quality, and other biometrics, as well as providing thick descriptions and other accounts of our life) at regular intervals, including periodical reports on the mental health status of the family and all relevant developments to contextualize the reported results, striving to contribute as effectively and rigorously as possible to the scientific knowledge and thus, hopefully, the improvement of treatments and practices.
So far the project is on stand-by, the campaign to finance it (to be hosted at Experiment, https://experiment.com/projects/vjxzevfjzzgbkerzappt) will probably launch in January. So far we are only asking for feedback on how to best take it forward, how to promote and disseminate it to reach a wider audience within and outside the academic and health communities, and make sure the project is out for a great start to ensure it reaches the stated goals and has a positive impact.
The study is already pre-registered at the Open Science Framework, where all data and results will be published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License. Its identifier is DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/TJ76H, and the URL to review it is: https://osf.io/tj76h/?view_only=b5a2f1ae24704512913c4736268e1c93