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1.  Food allergy knowledge, attitudes and beliefs: Focus groups of parents, physicians and the general public 
BMC Pediatrics  2008;8:36.
Background
Food allergy prevalence is increasing in US children. Presently, the primary means of preventing potentially fatal reactions are avoidance of allergens, prompt recognition of food allergy reactions, and knowledge about food allergy reaction treatments. Focus groups were held as a preliminary step in the development of validated survey instruments to assess food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of parents, physicians, and the general public.
Methods
Eight focus groups were conducted between January and July of 2006 in the Chicago area with parents of children with food allergy (3 groups), physicians (3 groups), and the general public (2 groups). A constant comparative method was used to identify the emerging themes which were then grouped into key domains of food allergy knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.
Results
Parents of children with food allergy had solid fundamental knowledge but had concerns about primary care physicians' knowledge of food allergy, diagnostic approaches, and treatment practices. The considerable impact of children's food allergies on familial quality of life was articulated. Physicians had good basic knowledge of food allergy but differed in their approach to diagnosis and advice about starting solids and breastfeeding. The general public had wide variation in knowledge about food allergy with many misconceptions of key concepts related to prevalence, definition, and triggers of food allergy.
Conclusion
Appreciable food allergy knowledge gaps exist, especially among physicians and the general public. The quality of life for children with food allergy and their families is significantly affected.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-8-36
PMCID: PMC2564918  PMID: 18803842
2.  Reporting Guidelines for Survey Research: An Analysis of Published Guidance and Reporting Practices 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(8):e1001069.
Carol Bennett and colleagues review the evidence and find that there is limited guidance and no consensus on the optimal reporting of survey research.
Background
Research needs to be reported transparently so readers can critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the design, conduct, and analysis of studies. Reporting guidelines have been developed to inform reporting for a variety of study designs. The objective of this study was to identify whether there is a need to develop a reporting guideline for survey research.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a three-part project: (1) a systematic review of the literature (including “Instructions to Authors” from the top five journals of 33 medical specialties and top 15 general and internal medicine journals) to identify guidance for reporting survey research; (2) a systematic review of evidence on the quality of reporting of surveys; and (3) a review of reporting of key quality criteria for survey research in 117 recently published reports of self-administered surveys. Fewer than 7% of medical journals (n = 165) provided guidance to authors on survey research despite a majority having published survey-based studies in recent years. We identified four published checklists for conducting or reporting survey research, none of which were validated. We identified eight previous reviews of survey reporting quality, which focused on issues of non-response and accessibility of questionnaires. Our own review of 117 published survey studies revealed that many items were poorly reported: few studies provided the survey or core questions (35%), reported the validity or reliability of the instrument (19%), defined the response rate (25%), discussed the representativeness of the sample (11%), or identified how missing data were handled (11%).
Conclusions
There is limited guidance and no consensus regarding the optimal reporting of survey research. The majority of key reporting criteria are poorly reported in peer-reviewed survey research articles. Our findings highlight the need for clear and consistent reporting guidelines specific to survey research.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Surveys, or questionnaires, are an essential component of many types of research, including health, and usually gather information by asking a sample of people questions on a specific topic and then generalizing the results to a larger population. Surveys are especially important when addressing topics that are difficult to assess using other approaches and usually rely on self reporting, for example self-reported behaviors, such as eating habits, satisfaction, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, opinions. However, the methods used in conducting survey research can significantly affect the reliability, validity, and generalizability of study results, and without clear reporting of the methods used in surveys, it is difficult or impossible to assess these characteristics and therefore to have confidence in the findings.
Why Was This Study Done?
This uncertainty in other forms of research has given rise to Reporting Guidelines—evidence-based, validated tools that aim to improve the reporting quality of health research. The STROBE (STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology) Statement includes cross-sectional studies, which often involve surveys. But not all surveys are epidemiological, and STROBE does not include methods' and results' reporting characteristics that are unique to surveys. Therefore, the researchers conducted this study to help determine whether there is a need for a reporting guideline for health survey research.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified any previous relevant guidance for survey research, and any evidence on the quality of reporting of survey research, by: reviewing current guidance for reporting survey research in the “Instructions to Authors” of leading medical journals and in published literature; conducting a systematic review of evidence on the quality of reporting of surveys; identifying key quality criteria for the conduct of survey research; and finally, reviewing how these criteria are currently reported by conducting a review of recently published reports of self-administered surveys.
The researchers found that 154 of the 165 journals searched (93.3%) did not provide any guidance on survey reporting, even though the majority (81.8%) have published survey research. Only three of the 11 journals that provided some guidance gave more than one directive or statement. Five papers and one Internet site provided guidance on the reporting of survey research, but none used validated measures or explicit methods for development. The researchers identified eight papers that addressed the quality of reporting of some aspect of survey research: the reporting of response rates; the reporting of non-response analyses in survey research; and the degree to which authors make their survey instrument available to readers. In their review of 117 published survey studies, the researchers found that many items were poorly reported: few studies provided the survey or core questions (35%), reported the validity or reliability of the instrument (19%), discussed the representativeness of the sample (11%), or identified how missing data were handled (11%). Furthermore, (88 [75%]) did not include any information on consent procedures for research participants, and one-third (40 [34%]) of papers did not report whether the study had received research ethics board review.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Overall, these results show that guidance is limited and consensus lacking about the optimal reporting of survey research, and they highlight the need for a well-developed reporting guideline specifically for survey research—possibly an extension of the guideline for observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE)—that will provide the structure to ensure more complete reporting and allow clearer review and interpretation of the results from surveys.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001069.
More than 100 reporting guidelines covering a broad spectrum of research types are indexed on the EQUATOR Networks web site
More information about STROBE is available on the STROBE Statement web site
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001069
PMCID: PMC3149080  PMID: 21829330
3.  Active or Passive Exposure to Tobacco Smoking and Allergic Rhinitis, Allergic Dermatitis, and Food Allergy in Adults and Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001611.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Bahi Takkouche and colleagues examine the associations between exposure to tobacco smoke and allergic disorders in children and adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, and food allergy are extremely common diseases, especially among children, and are frequently associated to each other and to asthma. Smoking is a potential risk factor for these conditions, but so far, results from individual studies have been conflicting. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for an association between active smoking (AS) or passive exposure to secondhand smoke and allergic conditions.
Methods and Findings
We retrieved studies published in any language up to June 30th, 2013 by systematically searching Medline, Embase, the five regional bibliographic databases of the World Health Organization, and ISI-Proceedings databases, by manually examining the references of the original articles and reviews retrieved, and by establishing personal contact with clinical researchers. We included cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies reporting odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates and confidence intervals of smoking and allergic conditions, first among the general population and then among children.
We retrieved 97 studies on allergic rhinitis, 91 on allergic dermatitis, and eight on food allergy published in 139 different articles. When all studies were analyzed together (showing random effects model results and pooled ORs expressed as RR), allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking (pooled RR, 1.02 [95% CI 0.92–1.15]), but was associated with passive smoking (pooled RR 1.10 [95% CI 1.06–1.15]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active (pooled RR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.14–1.29]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.07 [95% CI 1.03–1.12]). In children and adolescent, allergic rhinitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.40 (95% CI 1.24–1.59) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.09 [95% CI 1.04–1.14]). Allergic dermatitis was associated with active (pooled RR, 1.36 [95% CI 1.17–1.46]) and passive smoking (pooled RR, 1.06 [95% CI 1.01–1.11]). Food allergy was associated with SHS (1.43 [1.12–1.83]) when cohort studies only were examined, but not when all studies were combined.
The findings are limited by the potential for confounding and bias given that most of the individual studies used a cross-sectional design. Furthermore, the studies showed a high degree of heterogeneity and the exposure and outcome measures were assessed by self-report, which may increase the potential for misclassification.
Conclusions
We observed very modest associations between smoking and some allergic diseases among adults. Among children and adolescents, both active and passive exposure to SHS were associated with a modest increased risk for allergic diseases, and passive smoking was associated with an increased risk for food allergy. Additional studies with detailed measurement of exposure and better case definition are needed to further explore the role of smoking in allergic diseases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The immune system protects the human body from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Whenever a pathogen enters the body, immune system cells called T lymphocytes recognize specific molecules on its surface and release chemical messengers that recruit and activate other types of immune cells, which then attack the pathogen. Sometimes, however, the immune system responds to harmless materials (for example, pollen; scientists call these materials allergens) and triggers an allergic disease such as allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose; hay fever is a type of allergic rhinitis), allergic dermatitis (also known as eczema, a disease characterized by dry, itchy patches on the skin), and food allergy. Recent studies suggest that all these allergic (atopic) diseases are part of a continuous state called the “atopic march” in which individuals develop allergic diseases in a specific sequence that starts with allergic dermatitis during infancy, and progresses to food allergy, allergic rhinitis, and finally asthma (inflammation of the airways).
Why Was This Study Done?
Allergic diseases are extremely common, particularly in children. Allergic rhinitis alone affects 10%–30% of the world's population and up to 40% of children in some countries. Moreover, allergic diseases are becoming increasingly common. Allergic diseases affect the quality of life of patients and are financially costly to both patients and health systems. It is important, therefore, to identify the factors that cause or potentiate their development. One potential risk factor for allergic diseases is active or passive exposure to tobacco smoke. In some countries up to 80% of children are exposed to second-hand smoke so, from a public health point of view, it would be useful to know whether exposure to tobacco smoke is associated with the development of allergic diseases. Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach for combining the results of several studies) to investigate this issue.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 196 observational studies (investigations that observe outcomes in populations without trying to affect these outcomes in any way) that examined the association between smoke exposure and allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis, or food allergy. When all studies were analyzed together, allergic rhinitis was not associated with active smoking but was slightly associated with exposure to second-hand smoke. Specifically, compared to people not exposed to second-hand smoke, the pooled relative risk (RR) of allergic rhinitis among people exposed to second-hand smoke was 1.10 (an RR of greater than 1 indicates an increased risk of disease development in an exposed population compared to an unexposed population). Allergic dermatitis was associated with both active smoking (RR = 1.21) and exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.07). In the populations of children and adolescents included in the studies, allergic rhinitis was associated with both active smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (RRs of 1.40 and 1.09, respectively), as was allergic dermatitis (RRs of 1.36 and 1.06, respectively). Finally food allergy was associated with exposure to second-hand smoke (RR = 1.43) when cohort studies (a specific type of observational study) only were examined but not when all the studies were combined.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide limited evidence for a weak association between smoke exposure and allergic disease in adults but suggest that both active and passive smoking are associated with a modestly increased risk of allergic diseases in children and adolescents. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the use of questionnaires to assess smoke exposure and allergic disease development in most of the studies in the meta-analysis and by the possibility that individuals exposed to smoke may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for their increased risk of allergic diseases. To shed more light on the role of smoking in allergic diseases, additional studies are needed that accurately measure exposure and outcomes. However, the present findings suggest that, in countries where many people smoke, 14% and 13% of allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis, respectively, among children may be attributable to active smoking. Thus, the elimination of active smoking among children and adolescents could prevent one in seven cases of allergic rhinitis and one in eight cases of allergic dermatitis in such countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001611.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about allergic rhinitis, hay fever (including personal stories), allergic dermatitis (including personal stories), and food allergy (including personal stories)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information about allergic diseases
The UK not-for-profit organization Allergy UK provides information about all aspects of allergic diseases and a description of the atopic march
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on allergic rhinitis and allergic dermatitis (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources about allergies, eczema, and food allergy (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001611
PMCID: PMC3949681  PMID: 24618794
4.  The Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool (MDAT): The Creation, Validation, and Reliability of a Tool to Assess Child Development in Rural African Settings 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000273.
Melissa Gladstone and colleagues evaluate the reliability and validity of an assessment tool for evaluating child development in rural African settings.
Background
Although 80% of children with disabilities live in developing countries, there are few culturally appropriate developmental assessment tools available for these settings. Often tools from the West provide misleading findings in different cultural settings, where some items are unfamiliar and reference values are different from those of Western populations.
Methods and Findings
Following preliminary and qualitative studies, we produced a draft developmental assessment tool with 162 items in four domains of development. After face and content validity testing and piloting, we expanded the draft tool to 185 items. We then assessed 1,426 normal rural children aged 0–6 y from rural Malawi and derived age-standardized norms for all items. We examined performance of items using logistic regression and reliability using kappa statistics. We then considered all items at a consensus meeting and removed those performing badly and those that were unnecessary or difficult to administer, leaving 136 items in the final Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool (MDAT). We validated the tool by comparing age-matched normal children with those with malnutrition (120) and neurodisabilities (80). Reliability was good for items remaining with 94%–100% of items scoring kappas >0.4 for interobserver immediate, delayed, and intra-observer testing. We demonstrated significant differences in overall mean scores (and individual domain scores) for children with neurodisabilities (35 versus 99 [p<0.001]) when compared to normal children. Using a pass/fail technique similar to the Denver II, 3% of children with neurodisabilities passed in comparison to 82% of normal children, demonstrating good sensitivity (97%) and specificity (82%). Overall mean scores of children with malnutrition (weight for height <80%) were also significantly different from scores of normal controls (62.5 versus 77.4 [p<0.001]); scores in the separate domains, excluding social development, also differed between malnourished children and controls. In terms of pass/fail, 28% of malnourished children versus 94% of controls passed the test overall.
Conclusions
A culturally relevant developmental assessment tool, the MDAT, has been created for use in African settings and shows good reliability, validity, and sensitivity for identification of children with neurodisabilities.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Babies can do very little when they are first born. But, gradually, over the first few years of life, they learn to walk and run (gross motor skills), they learn to manipulate objects with their hands (fine motor skills), they learn to communicate with words and gestures (language skills), and they learn how to interact with other people (social skills). For each of these skill “domains,” experts have identified “developmental milestones,” skills that are acquired by a specific age if development is proceeding normally. So, for example, by one year, a child should be able crawl, put objects into a container, respond to simple verbal requests, and enjoy imitating people during play. Every child attains the various developmental milestones at a slightly different age but their overall development can be monitored using a series of simple tests (items) covering each of the developmental domains. Clinicians and teachers can use these “developmental assessment tools” to identify children whose development deviates significantly from the norm. It is important to identify these children as young as possible because early intervention can help them reach their full developmental potential.
Why Was This Study Done?
In developing countries, poverty, poor health, and malnutrition are responsible for millions of children failing to reach their developmental potential. But because developmental assessment tools have mainly been designed and validated in western, developed countries, they contain many items that are alien to children in non-western cultures (for example, the use of knives and forks for eating and the use of specific gestures). They cannot, therefore, accurately assess whether a child living in, for example, a rural area of Africa, is developing normally. In this study, the researchers describe the creation and testing of a culturally appropriate developmental assessment tool for use in rural Africa—the Malawi Developmental Assessment Tool (MDAT)—from a 162-item draft tool (MDAT Draft I) that they previously developed from Denver II, an assessment tool widely used in developed countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assessed the “face validity” (do the items look acceptable to untrained judges?) and “content validity” (does the tool examine all the domains it is meant to measure?) of MDAT Draft I and modified it to produce MDAT Draft II. After piloting this version on 80 children in rural Malawi, they modified it further to produce MDAT Draft III, which was used to assess 1,426 normal children aged 0–6 years from rural Malawi and to derive age-standardized norms for each item. After statistically analyzing the performance of each item in MDAT Draft III, all the items were considered at a consensus meeting, and items that were badly performing, unnecessary, and difficult to administer were removed, leaving 136 items (MDAT). The researchers then validated MDAT by using it to assess children with neurodisabilities (disorders of the nervous system that impair normal functioning) and children with delayed development because of malnutrition. The tool was reliable (different testers got similar results for individual children and individual testers got similar results when they retested specific children), sensitive (it correctly identified most children with a neurodisability or delayed development), and specific (it correctly identified most children who were developing normally; that is, it did not give false-positive results).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that MDAT is a culturally relevant assessment tool that reliably identifies children with neurodisabilities and delayed development in rural Malawi. Importantly, they also provide a detailed illustration of how to create and validate a culturally relevant assessment tool. Although MDAT is likely to be applicable in other similar settings, further research is needed to test its generalizability and to test whether it will work in children with more subtle developmental problems. MDAT, the researchers note, should be useful as a clinical tool for the early identification of neurodisabilities and as an outcome measure in clinical trials of interventions designed to improve child development. However, they stress, because developing countries have limited resources available for screening and for helping children whose development is delayed or disrupted, for now tools like MDAT are more likely to be used for research studies than for routine developmental assessments in Malawi and other African countries.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000273.
The World Health Organization has information on disability, prevention, and management in children and adults worldwide
UNICEF has a site on early childhood and in particular, provides information on programming experiences for early child intervention programs worldwide
Disability World is a website for international views and perspectives on disability worldwide. It provides information and links about the worldwide state of disability in children and adults in developing countries
Source, the International Information Support Centre has a good website of information about disability, inclusion, and development in children with links to many other sources of information
Wikipedia has a page on child development (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on developmental screening and on developmental milestones
The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides information on developmental stages and on developmental milestones
The UK National Health Service Choices site has an interactive guide to child development
MedlinePlus has links to further resources on infant and toddler development (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000273
PMCID: PMC2876049  PMID: 20520849
5.  The Physicians' Competence in Substance Abuse Test (P-CSAT): A Multidimensional Educational Measurement Tool for Substance Abuse Training Programs* 
Drug and Alcohol Dependence  2011;122(3):236-240.
Background
Efforts to enhance physician substance abuse (SA) skills lack tools to assess skills and training effectiveness. We sought to develop an easily administered survey to assess SA fact-based skills and clinical decision-making.
Methods
We prepared 60 fact-based items dealing with SA knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (KAB) and 53 script concordance test (SCT) items assessing SA decision-making. We used expert review and standard psychometric criteria to eliminate discordant or non-contributory survey items. We tested 92 draft items in 117 physicians, including 13 with additional SA training (trained), and 17 recognized SA experts. We assessed final survey internal consistency with Cronbach's alpha and differences in scores between experts, trained physicians, and physicians without SA training (novices) with the Kruskal-Wallis test.
Results
Following refinement, the draft survey was reduced to 30 KAB and 33 SCT items. Alpha was 0.901 for the final 63-item survey and 0.887 and 0.797 for the KAB and SCT subscales, respectively. Novices, trained physicians, and experts scored means of 196, 213, and 261 respectively out of 315 possible points on the final survey. The KAB and SCT subscale results showed similar patterns. Score differences for the overall survey and its subscales were highly significant (P<0.001).
Conclusions
This survey, which we have named the Physicians' Competence in Substance Abuse Test (P-CSAT) and placed in the public domain, meets baseline criteria for reliability and validity. Future studies should determine the extent to which the P-CSAT provides consistent results in other practitioner populations and responds to SA educational efforts.
doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2011.10.006
PMCID: PMC3288760  PMID: 22055011
Medical Education; Substance Abuse Training; Script Concordance Test
6.  Development of HomeSTEAD’s physical activity and screen time physical environment inventory 
Background
The home environment has a significant influence on children’s physical activity, sedentary behavior, dietary intake, and risk for obesity and chronic disease. Our understanding of the most influential factors and how they interact and impact child behavior is limited by current measurement tools, specifically the lack of a comprehensive instrument. HomeSTEAD (the Home Self-administered Tool for Environmental assessment of Activity and Diet) was designed to address this gap. This new tool contains four sections: home physical activity and media equipment inventory, family physical activity and screen time practices, home food inventory, and family food practices. This paper will describe HomeSTEAD’s development and present reliability and validity evidence for the first section.
Methods
The ANGELO framework guided instrument development, and systematic literature reviews helped identify existing items or scales for possible inclusion. Refinement of items was based on expert review and cognitive interviews. Parents of children ages 3–12 years (n = 125) completed the HomeSTEAD survey on three separate occasions over 12–18 days (Time 1, 2, and 3). The Time 1 survey also collected demographic information and parent report of child behaviors. Between Time 1 and 2, staff conducted an in-home observation and measured parent and child BMI. Kappa and intra-class correlations were used to examine reliability (test-retest) and validity (criterion and construct).
Results
Reliability and validity was strong for most items (97% having ICC > 0.60 and 72% having r > 0.50, respectively). Items with lower reliability generally had low variation between people. Lower validity estimates (r < 0.30) were more common for items that assessed usability and accessibility, with observers generally rating usability and accessibility lower than parents. Small to moderate, but meaningful, correlations between physical environment factors and BMI, outside time, and screen time were observed (e.g., amount of child portable play equipment in good condition and easy to access was significantly associated with child BMI: r = -0.23), providing evidence of construct validity.
Conclusions
The HomeSTEAD instrument represents a clear advancement in the measurement of factors in the home environment related to child weight and weight-related behaviors. HomeSTEAD, in its entirety, represents a useful tool for researchers from which they can draw particular scales of greatest interest and highest relevance to their research questions.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-132
PMCID: PMC3906984  PMID: 24313962
Home environment; Physical characteristics; Physical activity; Screen time; Measurement
7.  A Population-Based Evaluation of a Publicly Funded, School-Based HPV Vaccine Program in British Columbia, Canada: Parental Factors Associated with HPV Vaccine Receipt 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000270.
Analysis of a telephone survey by Gina Ogilvie and colleagues identifies the parental factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a school-based program in Canada.
Background
Information on factors that influence parental decisions for actual human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine receipt in publicly funded, school-based HPV vaccine programs for girls is limited. We report on the level of uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine, and determine parental factors associated with receipt of the HPV vaccine, in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program in British Columbia, Canada.
Methods and Findings
All parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the academic year of September 2008–June 2009 in the province of British Columbia were eligible to participate. Eligible households identified through the provincial public health information system were randomly selected and those who consented completed a validated survey exploring factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to calculate adjusted odds ratios to identify the factors that were associated with parents' decision to vaccinate their daughter(s) against HPV. 2,025 parents agreed to complete the survey, and 65.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 63.1–67.1) of parents in the survey reported that their daughters received the first dose of the HPV vaccine. In the same school-based vaccine program, 88.4% (95% CI 87.1–89.7) consented to the hepatitis B vaccine, and 86.5% (95% CI 85.1–87.9) consented to the meningococcal C vaccine. The main reasons for having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were the effectiveness of the vaccine (47.9%), advice from a physician (8.7%), and concerns about daughter's health (8.4%). The main reasons for not having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were concerns about HPV vaccine safety (29.2%), preference to wait until the daughter is older (15.6%), and not enough information to make an informed decision (12.6%). In multivariate analysis, overall attitudes to vaccines, the impact of the HPV vaccine on sexual practices, and childhood vaccine history were predictive of parents having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program. By contrast, having a family with two parents, having three or more children, and having more education was associated with a decreased likelihood of having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine.
Conclusions
This study is, to our knowledge, one of the first population-based assessments of factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a publicly funded school-based program worldwide. Policy makers need to consider that even with the removal of financial and health care barriers, parents, who are key decision makers in the uptake of this vaccine, are still hesitant to have their daughters receive the HPV vaccine, and strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake need to be employed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 10% of cancers in women occur in the cervix, the structure that connects the womb to the vagina. Every year, globally, more than a quarter of a million women die because of cervical cancer, which only occurs after the cervix has been infected with a human papillomavirus (HPV) through sexual intercourse. There are many types of HPV, a virus that infects the skin and the mucosa (the moist membranes that line various parts of the body, including the cervix). Although most people become infected with HPV at some time in their life, most never know they are infected. However, some HPV types cause harmless warts on the skin or around the genital area and several—in particular, HPV 16 and HPV 18, so-called high-risk HPVs—can cause cervical cancer. HPV infections are usually cleared by the immune system, but about 10% of women infected with a high-risk HPV develop a long-term infection that puts them at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Screening programs have greatly reduced cervical cancer deaths in developed countries in recent decades by detecting the cancer early when it can be treated; but it would be better to prevent cervical cancer ever developing. Because HPV is necessary for the development of cervical cancer, vaccination of girls against HPV infection before the onset of sexual activity might be one way to do this. Scientists recently developed a vaccine that prevents infection with HPV 16 and HPV 18 (and with two HPVs that cause genital warts) and that should, therefore, reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. Publicly funded HPV vaccination programs are now planned or underway in several countries; but before girls can receive the HPV vaccine, parental consent is usually needed, so it is important to know what influences parental decisions about HPV vaccination. In this study, the researchers undertake a telephone survey to determine the uptake of the HPV vaccine by 11-year-old girls (grade 6) in British Columbia, Canada, and to determine the parental factors associated with vaccine uptake; British Columbia started a voluntary school-based HPV vaccine program in September 2008.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In early 2009, the researchers contacted randomly selected parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the 2008–2009 academic year and asked them to complete a telephone survey that explored factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. 65.1% of the 2,025 parents who completed the survey had consented to their daughter receiving the first dose of HPV vaccine. By contrast, more than 85% of the parents had consented to hepatitis B and meningitis C vaccination of their daughters. Nearly half of the parents surveyed said their main reason for consenting to HPV vaccination was the effectiveness of the vaccine. Conversely, nearly a third of the parents said concern about the vaccine's safety was their main reason for not consenting to vaccination and one in eight said they had been given insufficient information to make an informed decision. In a statistical analysis of the survey data, the researchers found that a positive parental attitude towards vaccination, a parental belief that HPV vaccination had limited impact on sexual practices, and completed childhood vaccination increased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the HPV vaccine. Having a family with two parents or three or more children and having well-educated parents decreased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the vaccine.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide one of the first population-based assessments of the factors that affect HPV vaccine uptake in a setting where there are no financial or health care barriers to vaccination. By identifying the factors associated with parental reluctance to agree to HPV vaccination for their daughters, these findings should help public-health officials design strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake, although further studies are needed to discover why, for example, parents with more education are less likely to agree to vaccination than parents with less education. Importantly, the findings of this study, which are likely to be generalizable to other high-income countries, indicate that there is a continued need to ensure that the public receives credible, clear information about both the benefits and long-term safety of HPV vaccination.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about cervical cancer for patients and for health professionals, including information on HPV vaccines (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about cervical cancer and about HPV
The UK National Health Service Choices website has pages on cervical cancer and on HPV vaccination
More information about cervical cancer and HPV vaccination is available from the Macmillan cancer charity
ImmunizeBC provides general information about vaccination and information about HPV vaccination in British Columbia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about cervical cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270
PMCID: PMC2864299  PMID: 20454567
8.  Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States 
Food allergy is an important public health problem that affects children and adults and may be increasing in prevalence. Despite the risk of severe allergic reactions and even death, there is no current treatment for food allergy: the disease can only be managed by allergen avoidance or treatment of symptoms. The diagnosis and management of food allergy also may vary from one clinical practice setting to another. Finally, because patients frequently confuse nonallergic food reactions, such as food intolerance, with food allergies, there is an unfounded belief among the public that food allergy prevalence is higher than it truly is. In response to these concerns, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, working with 34 professional organizations, federal agencies, and patient advocacy groups, led the development of clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy. These Guidelines are intended for use by a wide variety of health care professionals, including family practice physicians, clinical specialists, and nurse practitioners. The Guidelines include a consensus definition for food allergy, discuss comorbid conditions often associated with food allergy, and focus on both IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated reactions to food. Topics addressed include the epidemiology, natural history, diagnosis, and management of food allergy, as well as the management of severe symptoms and anaphylaxis. These Guidelines provide 43 concise clinical recommendations and additional guidance on points of current controversy in patient management. They also identify gaps in the current scientific knowledge to be addressed through future research.
doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.007
PMCID: PMC4241964  PMID: 21134576
food; allergy; anaphylaxis; diagnosis; disease management; guidelines
9.  Impact of primary food allergies on the introduction of other foods amongst Canadian children and their siblings 
Background
Food-allergic children frequently avoid other highly allergenic foods. The NIAID 2010 guidelines state that individuals with an IgE-mediated food allergy should avoid their specific allergens and physicians should help patients to decide whether certain cross-reactive foods also should be avoided. Patients at risk for developing food allergy do not need to limit exposure to foods that may be cross-reactive with the major food allergens. The purpose of this study was to determine if parents of food-allergic children are given advice regarding introduction of allergenic foods; if these foods are avoided or delayed; if there is anxiety when introducing new foods; and if introducing other allergenic foods leads to any allergic reaction. The study also determined if there was a similar pattern seen amongst younger siblings.
Methods
An online survey was administered between December 2011 and March 2012 via Anaphylaxis Canada’s website, available to Canadian parents and caregivers who are registered members of the organization and who have a child with a food allergy.
Results
644 parents completed the online survey. 51% of families were given advice regarding the introduction of other allergenic foods. 72% were told to avoid certain foods, and 41% to delay certain foods. 58% of parents did avoid or delay other highly allergenic foods, mainly due to a fear of allergic reaction. 69% of children did not have an allergic reaction when these foods were subsequently introduced. 68% of parents felt moderate or high levels of anxiety when introducing other foods. A similar pattern was seen amongst the younger siblings.
Conclusions
Canadian parents and caregivers of children with food allergies receive varied advice from health care professionals regarding the introduction of new allergenic foods, and feel moderate to high levels of anxiety. A similar pattern may be seen amongst younger siblings. While the majority of children in our study did not have an allergic reaction to a new food, a significant proportion of children did react. A more consistent approach to the advice given by health care professionals may decrease parental anxiety. Further research to support the 2010 NIAID guidelines may be necessary to clarify recommendations.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-10-26
PMCID: PMC4063690  PMID: 24949023
Food allergy; Siblings; Food introduction; Anxiety
10.  Development of a survey to identify vaccine-hesitant parents 
Human Vaccines  2011;7(4):419-425.
Objective
To develop a survey to accurately assess parental vaccine hesitancy.
Results
The initial survey contained 17 items in four content domains: (1) immunization behavior; (2) beliefs about vaccine safety and efficacy; (3) attitudes about vaccine mandates and exemptions; and (4) trust. Focus group data yielded an additional 10 survey items. Expert review of the survey resulted in the deletion of nine of 27 items and revisions to 11 of the remaining 18 survey items. Parent pretesting resulted in the deletion of one item, the addition of one item, the revision of four items, and formatting changes to enhance usability. The final survey contains 18 items in the original four content domains.
Methods
An iterative process was used to develop the survey. First, we reviewed previous studies and surveys on parental health beliefs regarding vaccination to develop content domains and draft initial survey items. Focus groups of parents and pediatricians generated additional themes and survey items. Six immunization experts reviewed the items in the resulting draft survey and ranked them on a 1–5 scale for significance in identifying vaccine-hesitant parents (5 indicative of a highly significant item). The lowest third of ranked items were dropped. The revised survey was pretested with 25 parents to assess face validity, usability and item understandability.
Conclusions
The Parent Attitudes about Childhood Vaccines survey was constructed using qualitative methodology to identify vaccine-hesitant parents and has content and face validity. Further psychometric testing is needed.
doi:10.4161/hv.7.4.14120
PMCID: PMC3360071  PMID: 21389777
pediatrics; vaccination; public health practice; preventive health services; questionnaires
11.  (Un)Awareness of Allergy 
Background
Allergy is associated with considerable morbidity.
Objective
The aim of this multicenter study was to provide insight into allergy knowledge and perceptions among the population.
Methods
During the World Allergy Day, several allergy clinics conducted public meetings to encourage the awareness of and education in allergy. At the beginning, participants filled out a questionnaire to assess their knowledge about what is allergy and to determine by whom those symptoms are cared.
Results
A total of 256 participants (187 women/69 men, mean age, 31.2 ± 12.5 years) completed the survey. Of the 202 participants with symptoms, 58.9% had physician-diagnosed allergic disease. Among the 19 symptoms evaluated, 56.5% of the symptoms were recognized as related with allergy, and this increased in compliance with education level (r = +0.427; P < 0.001) but not with diagnosed allergy (P = 0.34). Sneezing was the most common symptom thought to be related with allergy-related symptom (77.5%), whereas loss of smell was the least one (37.9%). Participants were more likely to be cared by an allergologist (72.9%) followed by other specialties, when experiencing allergy.
Conclusions
Increasing the awareness for allergic symptoms is the key not only for the diagnosis but also for the optimal treatment. Therefore, education is an important component of prevention and control of allergic diseases.
doi:10.1097/WOX.0b013e31823842bc
PMCID: PMC3488905  PMID: 23268435
allergy; asthma; awareness; diagnosis; symptom; treatment
12.  The knowledge, attitudes and practices of parents of children with asthma in 29 cities of China: a multi-center study 
BMC Pediatrics  2013;13:20.
Background
Asthma is becoming increasingly prevalent among children in China. Poor parent knowledge and attitudes often contribute to inappropriate management practices, leading to deficiencies in the care process. We aimed to document the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of parents of children with asthma and analyze how knowledge and attitudes relate to practices. Our secondary objective was to identify the factors associated with parent KAP scores.
Methods
A KAP questionnaire was distributed to parents caring for 2960 children (0–14 years) diagnosed with asthma for at least 3 months from China’s 29 provinces. A 50-item questionnaire was devised for this cross-sectional survey based on a comprehensive review of the subject. Questionnaires were scored on 30 items regarding parent asthma-related KAP, with one point for every correct response and a possible range of 0–13 for knowledge, 0–7 for attitudes and 0–10 for practices. Higher scores indicated better KAP. Chi-squared tests and logistic regression were used to identify factors associated with practices and combined KAP scores.
Results
The response rate was 83.95% (2485/2960). Only 18.31% (455/2485) of parents correctly answered ≥ 60% of the knowledge questions (mean = 5.69). Most (89.85%; 2226/2485) gave positive responses to ≥ 60% of the attitude questions (mean = 5.23) while 67.89% (1687/2485) correctly answered ≥ 60% of the practices questions (mean = 6.19). Knowledge and attitudes were positively associated with pulmonary function testing, regular physician visits, monitoring with a peak flow meter and the Children’s Asthma Control Test questionnaire, avoidance of asthma triggers, using an inhaled β2 receptor agonist and adherence to medication regimen (p ≤ 0.05). Attitudes were also associated with allergen testing. In logistic regression analysis, high KAP scores (dichotomized by a cut-off score of 18) were positively associated with food allergy, rhinitis, physician visits, frequency of visits and parent education (p < 0.05, OR > 1).
Conclusions
Generally, the parents’ KAP were poor. A gap between recommended and actual practice was observed, which may be related to inadequate knowledge about and poor attitudes toward childhood asthma. Improving knowledge and attitudes may encourage better practices among parents of children with asthma.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-13-20
PMCID: PMC3577449  PMID: 23379859
Asthma; Knowledge; Attitudes; Practices; Parents; China
13.  Development and Testing of the Health Care System Distrust Scale 
BACKGROUND
Distrust of the health care system may be a significant barrier to seeking medical care, adhering to preventive health care and treatment regimens, and participating in medical research.
OBJECTIVE
To describe the development and psychometric testing of an instrument (the Health Care System Distrust Scale) to measure distrust of the health care system.
METHODS
Scale development involved 2 phases. In Phase 1, a pilot instrument was developed based on a conceptual model of health care-related distrust. Draft items were created using focus group sessions with members of the general public, literature review, and expert opinion. Draft items were pilot tested with 55 individuals waiting to be assigned to jury duty at the Municipal Court of Philadelphia. A priori, candidate items for elimination or revision included those with >5% missing data, extremely low or high interitem or item-total correlations, or those having a negative effect on the scale's internal consistency. In Phase 2, we conducted a survey of 400 prospective jurors to assess the reliability and validity of the final scale scores.
RESULTS
In Phase 1, a 10-item scale was constructed that included 4 items measuring honesty, 2 items measuring confidentiality, 2 items measuring competence, and 2 items measuring fidelity. The participants in Phase 2 had a mean age of 41 years. Forty-three percent were African-American, 45% white, and 4% Hispanic. Scores on the Health Care System Distrust scale ranged from 12 to 46 with a possible range from 10 to 50. The mean score was 29.4 with a standard deviation of 6.33. No item had over 5% missing data. Internal consistency (Cronbach's α) was 0.75. Item-total correlations ranged from 0.27 to 0.57. Principal components analysis revealed 1 general component accounting for 32% of the variance. Nine of the variables had loadings higher than 0.40. As predicted, distrust of the health care system was higher among African Americans than whites and was inversely correlated with trust in personal physicians.
CONCLUSIONS
Initial testing suggests that we developed an instrument with valid and reliable scores in order to measure distrust of the health care system. Future research is needed to evaluate the validity and reliability of the Health Care System Distrust scale among diverse populations. This instrument can facilitate the investigation of the prevalence, causes, and effects of health care system distrust in the United States.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2004.21146.x
PMCID: PMC1494688  PMID: 14748861
distrust; health care
14.  Neuro-QOL: quality of life item banks for adults with neurological disorders: item development and calibrations based upon clinical and general population testing 
Purpose
Neuro-QOL provides a clinically relevant and psychometrically robust health-related quality of life (HRQL) assessment tool for both adults and children with common neurological disorders. We now report the psychometric results for the adult tools.
Methods
An extensive research, survey and consensus process was used to produce a list of 5 priority adult neurological conditions (stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and ALS). We identified relevant health related quality of life (HRQL) domains through multiple methods and data sources including a comprehensive review of the literature and literature search, expert interviews and surveys and patient and caregiver focus groups. The final domain framework consisted of 17 domains of Physical, Mental and Social health. There were five phases of item development: (1) identification of 3,482 extant items, (2) item classification and selection, (3) item review and revision, (4) cognitive interviews with 63 patients to assess their understanding of individual items and (5) field testing of 432 representative items.
Participants and Procedures
Participants were drawn from the US general population and clinical settings, and included both English and Spanish speaking subjects (N = 3,246). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to evaluate the dimensionality of unidimensional domains. Where the domain structure was previously unknown, the dataset was split and first analyzed with exploratory factor analysis and then CFA. Samejima’s graded response model (GRM) was used to calculate IRT parameters. We further evaluated differential item functioning (DIF) on gender, education and age.
Results
Thirteen unidimensional calibrated item banks consisting of 297 items were developed. All of the tested item banks had high reliability and few or no locally dependent items. The range of item slopes and thresholds with good information are reported for each of the item banks. The banks can support CAT and the development of short forms.
Conclusion
The Neuro-QOL measurement system provides item banks and short forms that enable PRO measurement in neurological research, minimizes patient burden and can be used to create multiple instrument types minimizing standard error. The 17 adult measures include 13 calibrated item banks, 3 item pools available for calibration work by others, and 1 stand-alone scale (index). The Neuro-QOL instruments provide a “common metric” of representative concepts for use across patient groups in different studies.
doi:10.1007/s11136-011-9958-8
PMCID: PMC3889669  PMID: 21874314
Outcome measures; Quality of life; Neurological disorders; Computerized adaptive testing, item banking
15.  Peanut allergy in relation to heredity, maternal diet, and other atopic diseases: results of a questionnaire survey, skin prick testing, and food challenges. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1996;313(7056):518-521.
OBJECTIVES: To determine rates of other atopic manifestations in people with peanut allergy and the prevalence of such allergy in their families. DESIGN: A survey of people with self reported peanut allergy and people referred by their general practitioner for suspected peanut allergy; survey and skin testing of 50 children with reported peanut allergy and their available first degree relatives. SUBJECTS: 622 adults and children with reported, suspected, or known peanut allergy. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence of peanut allergy and other allergies in the families of people with peanut allergy. RESULTS: 622 valid completed questionnaires were returned out of the 833 questionnaires dispatched (74.7%). All forms of atopy were both more common in successive generations (P < 0.0001) and more common in maternal than paternal relatives (P < 0.0001). Peanut allergy was reported by 0.1% (3/2409) of grandparents, 0.6% (7/1213) of aunts and uncles, 1.6% (19/1218) of parents, and 6.9% (42/610) of siblings. Consumption of peanuts while pregnant or breast feeding was more common among mothers of probands aged < or = 5 years than mothers of probands aged > 5 years (P < 0.001). Age of onset correlated inversely with year of birth (r = -0.6, P < 0.001). Skin prick testing of 50 children with reported peanut allergy and their families: 7 probands (14%) had a negative result for peanut. Peanut allergy was refuted by food challenge in all those tested (5/7). No parent and 13% (5/39) of siblings had a positive result on skin prick testing for peanut. Two of these siblings had negative challenge with peanuts. The prevalence of peanut allergy in siblings is therefore 3/39 (7%). CONCLUSIONS: Peanut allergy is more common in siblings of people with peanut allergy than in the parents or the general population. Its apparently increasing prevalence may reflect a general increase of atopy, which is inherited more commonly from the mother. Peanut allergy is presenting earlier in life, possibly reflecting increased consumption of peanut by pregnant and nursing mothers.
PMCID: PMC2351952  PMID: 8789975
16.  Physicians’ knowledge, beliefs, and use of race and human genetic variation: new measures and insights 
Background
Understanding physician perspectives on the intersection of race and genomics in clinical decision making is critical as personalized medicine and genomics become more integrated in health care services. There is a paucity of literature in the United States of America (USA) and globally regarding how health care providers understand and use information about race, ethnicity and genetic variation in their clinical decision making. This paper describes the development of three scales related to addressing this gap in the literature: the Bonham and Sellers Genetic Variation Knowledge Assessment Index--GKAI, Health Professionals Beliefs about Race—HPBR, and Racial Attributes in Clinical Evaluation—RACE scales.
Methods
A cross-sectional, web survey of a national random sample of general internists in the USA (N = 787) was conducted. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to assess the construct validity of the scales. Scale items were developed through focus groups, cognitive interviews, expert advisory panels, and exploratory factor analysis of pilot data.
Results
GKAI was measured as a count of correct answers (Mean = 3.28 SD = 1.17). HPBR yielded two domains: beliefs about race as a biological phenomenon (HPBR-BD, alpha = .69, 4 items) and beliefs about the clinical value of race and genetic variation for understanding risk for disease (HPBR-CD alpha = .61, 3 items). RACE yielded one factor (alpha = .86, 7 items).
Conclusions
GKAI is a timely knowledge scale that can be used to assess health professional knowledge of race and human genetic variation. HPBR is a promising new tool for assessing health professionals’ beliefs about the role of race and its relationship with human genetic variation in clinical practice. RACE offers a valid and reliable tool for assessing explicit use of racial attributes in clinical decision making.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-456
PMCID: PMC4283084  PMID: 25277068
Scale development; Medical decision making; Personalized medicine; RACE (Racial Attributes in Clinical Evaluation); GKAI (Genetic Variation Knowledge Assessment Index); Explicit use of race
17.  Is Food Insecurity Associated with HIV Risk? Cross-Sectional Evidence from Sexually Active Women in Brazil 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(4):e1001203.
Alexander Tsai and colleagues show that in sexually active women in Brazil severe food insecurity with hunger was positively associated with symptoms potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection and with reduced odds of condom use.
Background
Understanding how food insecurity among women gives rise to differential patterning in HIV risks is critical for policy and programming in resource-limited settings. This is particularly the case in Brazil, which has undergone successive changes in the gender and socio-geographic composition of its complex epidemic over the past three decades. We used data from a national survey of Brazilian women to estimate the relationship between food insecurity and HIV risk.
Methods and Findings
We used data on 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. Self-reported outcomes were (a) consistent condom use, defined as using a condom at each occasion of sexual intercourse in the previous 12 mo; (b) recent condom use, less stringently defined as using a condom with the most recent sexual partner; and (c) itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 d, possibly indicating presence of a sexually transmitted infection. The primary explanatory variable of interest was food insecurity, measured using the culturally adapted and validated Escala Brasiliera de Segurança Alimentar. In multivariable logistic regression models, severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with a reduced odds of consistent condom use in the past 12 mo (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.48–0.92) and condom use at last sexual intercourse (AOR = 0.75; 95% CI, 0.57–0.98). Self-reported itchy vaginal discharge was associated with all categories of food insecurity (with AORs ranging from 1.46 to 1.94). In absolute terms, the effect sizes were large in magnitude across all outcomes. Underweight and/or lack of control in sexual relations did not appear to mediate the observed associations.
Conclusions
Severe food insecurity with hunger was associated with reduced odds of condom use and increased odds of itchy vaginal discharge, which is potentially indicative of sexually transmitted infection, among sexually active women in Brazil. Interventions targeting food insecurity may have beneficial implications for HIV prevention in resource-limited settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but currently half of all HIV-positive adults are women. Most women become infected with HIV through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected male partner. Biologically, women are twice as likely to become infected through unprotected heterosexual intercourse as men. Moreover, women are often unable to negotiate condom use because of unequal gender relations—men can insist on unprotected sexual intercourse in many relationships. Another factor often related to unequal gender relations that may shape women's risk of exposure to HIV is food insecurity—limited or uncertain access to enough nutritionally adequate and safe food for an active, healthy life. Recent studies done in sub-Saharan Africa suggest that food insecurity can affect women's engagement in risky sexual behaviors such as unprotected sex, transactional sex (sexual relationships that involve the giving of goods or services such as free lodgings), and commercial sex work.
Why Was This Study Done?
Policymakers planning HIV prevention strategies in resource-limited settings need to know whether food insecurity affects sexual risk taking among women. If it increases risk taking, then interventions that target food insecurity should improve the effectiveness of HIV prevention strategies. However, little is known about food insecurity and sexual risk taking outside sub-Saharan Africa. In this cross-sectional study (a study that characterizes a population at a single point in time), the researchers investigate whether food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior among sexually active women in Brazil, a country where the number of new heterosexually transmitted HIV infections among women is increasing. Condom promotion is the mainstay of Brazil's HIV prevention strategy, but less than half of the population reports the use of a condom whenever sexual intercourse occurs (consistent condom use) or at last sexual intercourse (recent condom use), and a greater proportion of men than women report condom use, possibly because of unequal power relations between men and women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on consistent condom use, recent condom use, and self-reported itchy vaginal discharge in the previous 30 days (used here as an indication that a woman may have a sexually transmitted infection) for 12,684 sexually active women from a national survey conducted in Brazil in 2006–2007. They then used multivariable logistic regression (a statistical method) to investigate the association between these outcomes and food insecurity, which was measured using the Escala Brasiliera de Insegurança Alimentar, an 18-item questionnaire that asks people to recall information about the quantity and quality of food available to them over the previous three months. Severe food insecurity with hunger (the most extreme category of food insecurity) was associated with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for consistent condom use of 0.67. That is, women who reported severe food insecurity were two-thirds as likely to use a condom whenever they had sexual intercourse as women who were food secure, after adjustment for other factors that might have affected condom use. The probability of consistent condom use was 15% among women who were food secure but only 10.5% among women who had the worst food security. Severe food insecurity with hunger was also associated with a reduced odds of recent condom use (AOR = 0.75), whereas all categories of food insecurity increased the odds of a recent itchy vaginal discharge.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that severe food insecurity with hunger is associated with reduced condom use and with increased occurrence of symptoms that may indicate sexually transmitted disease among sexually active women in Brazil. Because the study looked at women at only a single time point, these findings do not show that food insecurity causes risky sexual behavior. Moreover, these findings may not be generalizable to other settings, and they do not distinguish between regular condom use with a regular partner and regular condom use with casual partners. Also, although the researchers investigated two hypothesized explanations—lack of control in sexual relations and chronic energy deficiency—neither of these factors could explain why food insecurity is associated with risky sexual behavior. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that interventions that target sexual risk reduction behaviors are unlikely to be optimally effective if food insecurity is not taken into account, and, thus, the researchers conclude, HIV prevention strategies in Brazil should include interventions that target food insecurity.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on all aspects of HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment (in several languages)
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including detailed information on HIV and AIDS prevention, women, HIV, and AIDS, and HIV and AIDS in Brazil (in English and Spanish); personal stories of women living with HIV are available
HIV InSite provides comprehensive and up-to-date information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS from the University of California at San Francisco
Additional patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through the charity website Healthtalkonline
A primer on food security from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is available
Information about the 2006–2007 Brazilian national survey on health in women and children is available in Portuguese; a profile of food security in Brazil is also available (some information in English but mainly in Portuguese)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001203
PMCID: PMC3323512  PMID: 22505852
18.  Validation of an asthma questionnaire for use in healthcare workers 
Background
Previous studies have described increased occurrence of asthma among healthcare workers, but to our knowledge there are no validated survey questionnaires with which to study this occupational group.
Aims
To develop, validate, and refine a new survey instrument on asthma for use in epidemiological studies of healthcare workers.
Methods
An initial draft questionnaire, designed by a multidisciplinary team, used previously validated questions where possible; the occupational exposure section was developed by updating health services specific chemical lists through hospital walk‐through surveys and review of material safety data sheets. A cross‐sectional validation study was conducted in 118 non‐smoking subjects, who also underwent bronchial challenge testing, an interview with an industrial hygienist, and measurement of specific IgE antibodies to common aeroallergens.
Results
The final version consisted of 43 main questions in four sections. Time to completion of the questionnaire ranged from 13 to 25 minutes. Test–retest reliability of asthma and allergy items ranged from 75% to 94%, and internal consistency for these items was excellent (Cronbach's α ⩾ 0.86). Against methacholine challenge, an eight item combination of asthma related symptoms had a sensitivity of 71% and specificity of 70%; against a physician diagnosis of asthma, this same combination showed a sensitivity of 79% and specificity of 98%. Agreement between self‐reported exposures and industrial hygienist review was similar to previous studies and only moderate, indicating the need to incorporate more reliable methods of exposure assessment. Against the aerollergen panel, the best combinations of sensitivity and specificity were obtained for a history of allergies to dust, dust mite, and animals.
Conclusions
Initial evaluation of this new questionnaire indicates good validity and reliability, and further field testing and cross‐validation in a larger healthcare worker population is in progress. The need for development of more reliable occupational exposure assessment methods that go beyond self‐report is underscored.
doi:10.1136/oem.2005.021634
PMCID: PMC2078145  PMID: 16497858
asthma; questionnaire validation; healthcare workers
19.  Assessing awareness of colorectal cancer symptoms: Measure development and results from a population survey in the UK 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:366.
Background
This paper describes the development of a Cancer Awareness Measure for colorectal (CRC) cancer (Bowel/Colorectal CAMa) (study 1) and presents key results from a population-representative survey using the measure (study 2).
Methods
Study 1
Items were taken from the literature and reviewed by expert groups. A series of three validation studies assessed reliability and validity of the measure. To establish test-retest reliability, 49 people over 50 years of age completed the Bowel/Colorectal CAM on two occasions (range 9-14 days, mean 13.5 days). Construct validity was assessed by comparing responses from bowel cancer experts (n = 16) and the lay public (n = 35). Lastly, a brief intervention study tested sensitivity to change with participants (n = 70) randomly allocated to be given a control leaflet or an intervention leaflet and their responses were compared.
Study 2
1520 respondents completed the Bowel/Colorectal CAM in a population survey carried out by TNS-British Market Research Bureau International (TNS-BMRB) in March 2010.
Results
Study 1
Internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha = 0.84) was high. Test-retest reliability was over r = 0.7 for warning signs, risk factors and age people are first invited for screening, but lower (between 0.6 and 0.7) for other items (lifetime risk, awareness of bowel cancer screening, age at risk). Bowel cancer experts achieved higher scores than equally educated controls (54.7 [4.3] vs. 42.9 [5.7]; P < 0.001) demonstrating the measure has construct validity and intervention participants showed higher knowledge than controls (51.4 [5.9] vs. 42.9 [5.7]; P < 0.001) suggesting the measure is sensitive to change.
Study 2
Respondents recalled on average, one CRC sign and one risk factor. There was particularly low prompted awareness of the signs 'lump in the abdomen' (64%) and 'tiredness' (50%) and several lifestyle risk factors for CRC, e.g. exercise (37%).
Respondents from more affluent groups had consistently higher knowledge of signs and risk factors compared to those from more deprived groups.
Conclusions
The Bowel/Colorectal CAM meets accepted psychometric criteria for reliability and construct validity and should therefore provide a useful tool for assessment of CRC awareness. The population survey revealed low awareness of several CRC signs and risk factors and emphasises the importance of continuing public education, particularly about the link between lifestyle behaviours and CRC.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-366
PMCID: PMC3188511  PMID: 21859500
20.  Development and Evaluation of a Questionnaire for Assessment of Determinants of Weight Disorders among Children and Adolescents: The Caspian-IV Study 
Background:
Little experience exists on valid and reliable tools for assessment of the determinants of underweight and overweight in children and adolescents living in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA). This study aimed to develop a valid and wideranging questionnaire for assessment of these parameters in a nationwide sample of Iranian children and adolescents.
Methods:
This national study was conducted in 31 provinces in Iran. The first phase consisted of focus group discussion with 275 children and adolescents and their parents. After a qualitative content analysis, the initial items were extracted. In the next step, the face validity was assessed by expert panelists using the quantitative method of the Impact Score. To assess the content validity, the content validity rate (CVR) and the content validity index (CVI) were determined. The internal consistency was examined by Cronbach alpha, and its test-retest reliability was determined. The socio-demographic variables, perinatal factors, lifestyle factors, family history, knowledge and attitude were assessed. Dietary intakes were assessed by a validated 168-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. A validated questionnaire for quality of life was filled in anonymously.
Results:
A team of expert researchers conducted the data analysis of 576 interviews by using qualitative content analysis method. The analysis process began by determining the semantic units about the concepts studied. The initial questionnaire was developed in four domains by including Likert scale questions. In the face validity step, all questions of the primary questionnaire obtained a score of more than 1.5. In the phase of CVR assessment, 6 questions obtained a score of less than 0.62, and were omitted. The rest of questions were assessed for CVI, and got a score of more than 0.75. Cronbach's alpha coefficient of the whole questionnaire was 0.97, and the Pearson correlation coefficient of the test-retest phase was 0.94.
Conclusion:
The developed questionnaire is a valid and reliable tool for assessment of the determinants of weight disorders in a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents in the MENA.
PMCID: PMC3482997  PMID: 23112896
Children and adolescents; overweight; questionnaire validity; underweight
21.  Development of a Brief Survey on Colon Cancer Screening Knowledge and Attitudes Among Veterans 
Preventing Chronic Disease  2005;2(2):A11.
Introduction
Poor knowledge of and negative attitudes toward available screening tests may account in part for colorectal cancer screening rates being the lowest among 17 quality measures reported for the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system, the largest integrated health system in the United States. The purpose of this study was to develop a brief assessment tool to evaluate knowledge and attitudes among veterans toward colorectal cancer screening options.
Methods
A 44-item questionnaire was developed to assess knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about colorectal cancer and screening and was then administered as part of an ongoing randomized controlled trial among 388 veterans receiving care in a general medicine clinic. Sixteen candidate items on colorectal cancer knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs were selected for further evaluation using principal components analysis. Two sets of items were then further analyzed.
Results
Because the Cronbach α for beliefs was low (α = 0.06), the beliefs subscale was deleted from further consideration. The final scale consisted of seven items: a four-item attitude subscale (α = 0.73) and a three-item knowledge subscale (α = 0.59). Twelve-month follow-up data were used to evaluate predictive validity; improved knowledge and attitudes were significantly associated with completion of flexible sigmoidoscopy (P = .004) and completion of either flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy (P = .02).
Conclusion
The two-factor scale offers a parsimonious and reliable measure of colorectal cancer screening knowledge and attitudes among veterans. This colorectal Cancer Screening Survey (CSS) may especially be useful as an evaluative tool in developing and testing of interventions designed to improve screening rates within this population.
PMCID: PMC1327705  PMID: 15888222
22.  438 An Investigation of Food Choice Behaviour of Food Allergic and Non-food Allergic Children 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S156-S157.
Background
Childrens food choice behaviour is influenced by a number of family and social factors. About 20% to 30% of the population modifies their diet for a suspected adverse reaction to food. Since avoidance is the mainstay of managing food allergy, it can be assumed to significantly affect food choices. It is therefore important to understand if and to what extent food allergy influences the way parents and children make their food choice decisions.
Methods
The research project has utilised an innovative observational approach in the form of a board game to investigate parental-child communication and food choice behaviour. Parents/guardians and children were given a problem-solving task related to food choice behaviour. Each session lasted up to 15 minutes and was conducted with 5 food allergic and 7 non-allergic children (aged 4–8 years) and their parents/guardians. The sessions were videotaped and analysed by constructing a 4-category scheme, which classifies parental utterances along 2 dimensions, food choice behavioural control and food choice recognition. Observational categories were compared between the 2 groups.
Results
Preliminary findings indicate considerable variability in how parents/guardians and children with and without food allergy communicate when making food choice decisions. In general, children with food allergies seem to be more cautious and appear to have less responsibility when choosing their foods than healthy children of the same age.
Conclusions
Given the preliminary findings, this study will illuminate how food allergy affects the way parents/guardians and children make their food choice decisions.
doi:10.1097/01.WOX.0000412201.76068.91
PMCID: PMC3512846
23.  Development and reliability of a scale of physical-activity related informal social control for parents of Chinese pre-schoolers 
Background
Parents’ perceived informal social control, defined as the informal ways residents intervene to create a safe and orderly neighbourhood environment, may influence young children’s physical activity (PA) in the neighbourhood. This study aimed to develop and test the reliability of a scale of PA-related informal social control relevant to Chinese parents/caregivers of pre-schoolers (children aged 3 to 5 years) living in Hong Kong.
Methods
Nominal Group Technique (NGT), a structured, multi-step brainstorming technique, was conducted with two groups of caregivers (mainly parents; n = 11) of Hong Kong pre-schoolers in June 2011. Items collected in the NGT sessions and those generated by a panel of experts were used to compile a list of items (n = 22) for a preliminary version of a questionnaire of informal social control. The newly-developed scale was tested with 20 Chinese-speaking parents/caregivers using cognitive interviews (August 2011). The modified scale, including all 22 original items of which a few were slightly reworded, was subsequently administered on two occasions, a week apart, to 61 Chinese parents/caregivers of Hong Kong pre-schoolers in early 2012. The test-retest reliability and internal consistency of the items and scale were examined using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC), paired t-tests, relative percentages of shifts in responses to items, and Cronbach’s α coefficient.
Results
Thirteen items generated by parents/caregivers and nine items generated by the panel of experts (total 22 items) were included in a first working version of the scale and classified into three subscales: “Personal involvement and general informal supervision”, “Civic engagement for the creation of a better neighbourhood environment” and “Educating and assisting neighbourhood children”. Twenty out of 22 items showed moderate to excellent test-test reliability (ICC range: 0.40-0.81). All three subscales of informal social control showed acceptable levels of internal consistency (Cronbach's α >0.70).
Conclusions
A reliable scale examining PA-related informal social control relevant to Chinese parents/caregivers of pre-schoolers living in Hong Kong was developed. Further studies should examine the factorial validity of the scale, its associations with Chinese children’s PA and its appropriateness for other populations of parents of young children.
doi:10.1186/s12966-014-0087-y
PMCID: PMC4108234  PMID: 25030499
Nominal group technique; Health; Physical activity; Parental questionnaire; Reliability
24.  Referrals to a regional allergy clinic - an eleven year audit 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:790.
Background
Allergy is a serious and apparently increasing public health problem yet relatively little is known about the types of allergy seen in routine tertiary practice, including their spatial distribution, co-occurrence or referral patterns. This study reviewed referrals over an eleven year period to a regional allergy clinic that had a well defined geographical boundary. For those patients confirmed as having an allergy we explored: (i) differences over time and by demographics, (ii) types of allergy, (iii) co-occurrence, and (iv) spatial distributions.
Methods
Data were extracted from consultant letters to GPs, from September 1998 to September 2009, for patients confirmed as having an allergy. Other data included referral statistics and population data by postcode. Simple descriptive analysis was used to describe types of allergy. We calculated 11 year standardised morbidity ratios for postcode districts and checked for spatial clustering. We present maps showing 11 year rates by postcode, and 'difference' maps which try to separate referral effect from possible environmental effect.
Results
Of 5778 referrals, 961 patients were diagnosed with an allergy. These were referred by a total of 672 different GPs. There were marked differences in referral patterns between GP practices and also individual GPs. The mean age of patients was 35 and there were considerably more females (65%) than males. Airborne allergies were the most frequent (623), and there were very high rates of co-occurrence of pollen, house dust mite, and animal hair allergies. Less than half (410) patients had a food allergy, with nuts, fruit, and seafood being the most common allergens. Fifteen percent (142) had both a food and a non-food allergy. Certain food allergies were more likely to co-occur, for example, patients allergic to dairy products were more likely to be allergic to egg.
There were age differences by types of allergy; people referred with food allergies were on average 5 years younger than those with other allergies, and those allergic to nuts were much younger (26 Vs 38) than those with other food allergies.
There was clear evidence for spatial clustering with marked clustering around the referral hospital. However, the geographical distribution varied between allergies; airborne (particularly pollen allergies) clustered in North Dartmoor and Exmoor, food allergies (particularly nut allergies) in the South Hams, and on small numbers, some indication of seafood allergy in the far south west of Cornwall and in the Padstow area.
Conclusions
This study shows marked geographical differences in allergy referrals which are likely to reflect a combination of environmental factors and GP referral patterns. The data suggest that GPs may benefit from education and ongoing decision support and be supported by public education on the nature of allergy. It suggests further research into what happens to patients with allergy where there has been low use of tertiary services and further research into cross-reactivity and co-occurrence, and spatial distribution of allergy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-790
PMCID: PMC3022859  PMID: 21190546
25.  Immunization knowledge and practice among Malaysian parents: a questionnaire development and pilot-testing 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1107.
Background
Parents are the main decision makers for their children vaccinations. This fact makes parents’ immunization knowledge and practices as predictor factors for immunization uptake and timeliness. The aim of this pilot study was to develop a reliable and valid instrument in Malaysian language to measure immunization knowledge and practice (KP) of Malaysian parents.
Methods
A cross-sectional prospective pilot survey was conducted among 88 Malaysian parents who attended public health facilities that provide vaccinations. Translated immunization KP questionnaires (Bahasa Melayu version) were used. Descriptive statistics were applied, face and content validity were assessed, and internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and construct validity were determined.
Results
The mean ± standard deviation (SD) of the knowledge scores was 7.36 ± 2.29 and for practice scores was 7.13 ± 2.20. Good internal consistency was found for knowledge and practice items (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.757 and 0.743 respectively); the test-retest reliability value was 0.740 (p = 0.014). A panel of three specialist pharmacists who are experts in this field judged the face and content validity of the final questionnaire. Parents with up-to-date immunized children had significantly better knowledge and practice scores than parents who did not (p < 0.001 and p = 0.001 respectively), suggesting a good construct validity. A significant difference was found in knowledge and practice scores among parents’ age (p = 0.006 and p = 0.029 respectively) and place of living (p = 0.037 and p = 0.043). The parents’ knowledge level was positively associated with their practice toward immunization (Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient 0.310, p = 0.003).
Conclusions
The pilot study concluded that the Bahasa Melayu version of the immunization KP questionnaire has good reliability and validity for measuring the knowledge and practices of Malaysian parents and therefore this version can be used in future research.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1107
PMCID: PMC4226879  PMID: 25346471
Immunization; Reliability; Validity; Questionnaire development; Knowledge; Practice

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