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Logo of jepicomhJournal of Epidemiology and Community HealthVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007 April; 61(4): 368.
PMCID: PMC2652951


Epidemiological literacy among doctors

Doctors working in an Israeli university hospital had a limited knowledge of the basic principles of research methods and data analysis, a study has shown. This lack of knowledge negatively affected the doctors' ability to conduct research. The doctors' understanding of epidemiological methods differed considerably depending on the country in which they graduated from medical school, with doctors from the former Soviet Union being least knowledgeable. A greater level of understanding of research methods was associated with self reported reading of the methods and discussion sections of papers. Doctors from former Soviet republics had not been exposed to accepted research methods, and they are a target population for introductory research courses on the principles of research as part of their absorption into western style medicine. (Postgrad Med J 2006;82:817–22)

Health assessment in the Netherlands

A consensus questionnaire has been developed in the Netherlands to replace the ones previously used—a literal translation (in 2001) of the Stanford Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) Disability Index, further amended by two more—to measure physical disability in rheumatic diseases. The problems with the translations were deletion and addition of items, the handling and number of aids, and one item that was not described accurately because of the use of the metric system in Europe. The item referred to a 5 pound bag of sugar, which in one translation was given as 2.25 kg, not a standard packaging weight in Europe. One version reduced the weight to 1 kg, making the task easier, while another increased it to a 2.5 kg object such as a cooking pot (handled differently from a bag of sugar). This particular problem could have been resolved by changing the item to a 2.5 kg bag of rice or potatoes. (Ann Rheum Dis 2006;66:132–3)

Glenys Hughes

Cohort study of young drivers in Australia

Research on young drivers directly linking risk factors to serious injury and death is needed in order to provide data aimed at developing targeted interventions for this population. The DRIVE study is a prospective cohort study of nearly 21 000 new drivers aged 17–24 years in New South Wales, that will link baseline questionnaire data to data on road traffic offences, crashes, and injuries. Once linkages to outcome data are complete, the study has the potential to provide results that will have important implications for road safety policy in Australia. (Inj Prev 2006;12:385–9)

Risk factors for SUDI and SIDS

The prone sleeping position and breast feeding in the first 2 weeks of life are major risk factors for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) but are not associated with an increased risk for explained SUDI (sudden unexpected death in infancy), a study in Germany has shown. The authors compared risk factors for SIDS and explained SUDI in a 3 year population based case‐control study between 1998 and 2001. There were 455 deaths, of which 51 were explained; the majority of these were caused by respiratory or generalised infections. Socioeconomic disadvantages and maternal smoking are risk factors for both SIDS and explained SUDI, and provide an opportunity for targeted intervention. (Arch Dis Child published online 25 Aug 2006; doi:10.1136/adc.2006.101337)

Racial differences in coronary syndromes in the UK

In a comparison of demographics and symptom presentation between British white and British Asian patients with acute coronary symptoms admitted to hospital, the Asian patients were younger, more likely to be diabetic, and tended to report a higher intensity of pain over more of their body than did white patients. Men of both races reported smaller areas of discomfort than women. The study took place between November 2001 and November 2004 in a district general hospital in outer west London. The nature of acute coronary syndromes means that earlier recognition, especially by patients themselves, may allow more timely diagnosis and therapeutic interventions. (Heart published online 16 Aug 2006; doi:10.1136/hrt.2006.091900)

Traffic noise and hypertension

An association between residential exposure to traffic noise and hypertension in an urban population has been shown in a study from Sweden. The study population comprised 667 randomly selected subjects aged 19–80 years of age who were sent a questionnaire with information on individual characteristics including diagnosis of hypertension. Altogether, 80 subjects were diagnosed with hypertension. Analysis of categorical variables suggested an exposure‐response association, with those not having triple glazed windows, living in older houses, and having a bedroom window facing the street more likely to have hypertension. (Occup Environ Med published online 19 Oct 2006; doi:10.1136/oem.2005.025866)

Fatal poisonings in New Jersey

Substance abuse, mental health, and physical health problems were the most frequently cited risk factors for unintentional and intentional poisoning fatalities according to the New Jersey Violent Death reporting system. Characteristics of unintentional fatal poisonings differed considerably from intentional, with decedents in unintentional poisonings (overdoses) being more likely to be male, non‐white, young, and to have used illegal drugs. Suicides were more likely to have had mental health problems. The trend in suicide by poisoning has been flat in recent years. As the main factor in fatal poisonings in New Jersey is illicit drugs—namely, cocaine and heroin, prevention must involve substance abuse treatment, drug interdiction, and attempts to reduce the purity of these substances. (Inj Prev 2006;12 (Suppl II):ii44–8)

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