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1.  Keeping the culture alive: the laboratory technician in mid-twentieth-century British medical research 
This paper reports results from a detailed study of the careers of laboratory technicians in British medical research. Technicians and their contributions are very frequently missing from accounts of modern medicine, and this project is an attempt to correct that absence. The present paper focuses almost entirely on the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research in North London, from the first proposal of such a body in 1913 until the mid 1960s. The principal sources of information have been technical staff themselves, largely as recorded in an extensive series of oral history interviews. These have covered a wide range of issues and provide valuable perspectives about technicians' backgrounds and working lives.
doi:10.1098/rsnr.2007.0035
PMCID: PMC2628576  PMID: 18548906
medical laboratory technicians; medical laboratories; medical history
2.  The Research Council System and the Politics of Medical and Agricultural Research for the British Colonial Empire, 1940–52 
Medical History  2013;57(3):338-358.
Historical accounts of colonial science and medicine have failed to engage with the Colonial Office’s shift in focus towards the support of research after 1940. A large new fund was created in 1940 to expand activities in the colonies described as fundamental research. With this new funding came a qualitative shift in the type of personnel and activity sought for colonial development and, as a result, a diverse group of medical and technical officers existed in Britain’s colonies by the 1950s. The fact that such variety existed amongst British officers in terms of their qualifications, institutional locations and also their relationships with colonial and metropolitan governments makes the use of the term ‘expert’ in much existing historical scholarship on scientific and medical aspects of empire problematic. This article will consider how the Colonial Office achieved this expansion of research activities and personnel after 1940. Specifically, it will focus on the reasons officials sought to engage individuals drawn from the British research councils to administer this work and the consequences of their involvement for the new apparatus established for colonial research after 1940. An understanding of the implications of the application of the research council system to the Colonial Empire requires engagement with the ideology promoted by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and Medical Research Council (MRC) which placed emphasis on the distinct and higher status of fundamental research and which privileged freedom for researchers.
doi:10.1017/mdh.2013.17
PMCID: PMC3865944  PMID: 24069883
Medical Research Council; Agricultural Research Council; Colonial Office; 1940 CDW Act; Colonial Medical Research Council; East Africa
3.  Human Resource and Funding Constraints for Essential Surgery in District Hospitals in Africa: A Retrospective Cross-Sectional Survey 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(3):e1000242.
In the second of two papers investigating surgical provision in eight district hospitals in Saharan African countries, Margaret Kruk and colleagues describe the range of providers of surgical care and anesthesia and estimate the related costs.
Background
There is a growing recognition that the provision of surgical services in low-income countries is inadequate to the need. While constrained health budgets and health worker shortages have been blamed for the low rates of surgery, there has been little empirical data on the providers of surgery and cost of surgical services in Africa. This study described the range of providers of surgical care and anesthesia and estimated the resources dedicated to surgery at district hospitals in three African countries.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional survey of data from eight district hospitals in Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. There were no specialist surgeons or anesthetists in any of the hospitals. Most of the health workers were nurses (77.5%), followed by mid-level providers (MLPs) not trained to provide surgical care (7.8%), and MLPs trained to perform surgical procedures (3.8%). There were one to six medical doctors per hospital (4.2% of clinical staff). Most major surgical procedures were performed by doctors (54.6%), however over one-third (35.9%) were done by MLPs. Anesthesia was mainly provided by nurses (39.4%). Most of the hospital expenditure was related to staffing. Of the total operating costs, only 7% to 14% was allocated to surgical care, the majority of which was for obstetric surgery. These costs represent a per capita expenditure on surgery ranging from US$0.05 to US$0.14 between the eight hospitals.
Conclusion
African countries have adopted different policies to ensure the provision of surgical care in their respective district hospitals. Overall, the surgical output per capita was very low, reflecting low staffing ratios and limited expenditures for surgery. We found that most surgical and anesthesia services in the three countries in the study were provided by generalist doctors, MLPs, and nurses. Although more information is needed to estimate unmet need for surgery, increasing the funds allocated to surgery, and, in the absence of trained doctors and surgeons, formalizing the training of MLPs appears to be a pragmatic and cost-effective way to make basic surgical services available in underserved areas.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Infectious diseases remain the major killers in developing countries, but traumatic injuries, complications of childbirth, and other conditions that need surgery are important contributors to the overall burden of disease in these countries. Unfortunately, the provision of surgical services in low- and middle-income countries is often insufficient. There are many fewer operations per a head of population in developing countries than in developed countries, essential operations such as cesarean sections for complicated deliveries are not always available, and elective operations such as male and female sterilization can be difficult to obtain. Lack of funding for surgical procedures and shortages of trained health workers have often been blamed for the low rates of surgery in developing countries. For example, anesthesiologists (doctors who are trained to give anesthetics and other pain-relieving agents) and trained anesthetists (usually nurses and technicians) are rare in many African countries, as are surgeons and obstetricians (doctors who look after women during pregnancy and childbirth). To make matters worse, these specialists often work in tertiary referral hospitals in large cities. In district hospitals, which provide most of the primary health care needs of rural populations, basic surgical care is usually provided by “mid-level health care providers” (MLPs)—individuals with a level of training between that of nurses and physicians.
Why Was This Study Done?
Various organizations are currently working to improve emergency and essential surgical care in developing countries. For example, the Bellagio Essential Surgery Group (BESG) seeks to define, quantify, and address the problem of unmet surgical needs in sub-Saharan Africa. Importantly, however, before any programs can be introduced to improve access to surgical services in developing countries, better baseline data on existing surgical services needs to be collected—most of the available information on these services is anecdotal. In this study, the researchers (most of whom are members of the BESG) investigate the provision of surgical procedures and anesthesia in district hospitals in three sub-Saharan African countries and estimate the costs of surgery performed in the same hospitals.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected recent data on the number of doctors, MLPs, and nurses in two district hospitals in Tanzania and in Mozambique, and from four district hospitals in Uganda and information on each hospital's expenditure. Most of the health workers in these hospitals (which care for 3 million people between them) were nurses (77.5%), followed by MLPs not trained to provide surgical care (7.8%), and MLPs trained to provide surgical care (3.8%). The hospitals had between one and six medical doctors each (28 across all the hospitals), but there were no trained surgeons or anesthesiologists posted at any of the hospitals. About half of the major surgical procedures undertaken at these hospitals were performed by doctors but more than a third were done by MLPs although the exact pattern of personnel involved in surgery varied among the three countries. Anesthesia was mostly provided by nurses and doctors; again the pattern of anesthesia provision varied among countries and hospitals. Only 7%–14% of overall hospital expenditure was allocated to surgical care and most of this allocation was used for obstetric services. Finally, the researchers estimate that, on the basis of district populations, the district hospitals spent between US$0.05 and US$0.14 per head on surgical services.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in the district hospitals investigated in this study, physicians, MLPs, and nurses provide most of the surgical care. Furthermore, although all the hospitals in the study provide some surgical care, it accounts for a small part of the hospitals' overall operating costs. These findings may not be generalizable to other district hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa and provide no information about the unmet needs for surgical care. Nevertheless, these findings and those of a separate paper that investigates the range and volume of surgical procedures undertaken in the same district hospitals provide a valuable baseline for planning the expansion of health care services in Africa. They also suggest that increasing the funds allocated to surgery and formalizing the training of MLPs might be a cost-effective way of increasing access to surgical care in sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000242.
The range and volume of surgery in the same hospitals is investigated in a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Moses Galukande et al.
Information on the Bellagio Essential Surgery Group is available
WHO's Global initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care plans to take essential emergency, basic surgery and anesthesia skills to health care staff in low- and middle-income countries around the world; WHO also has a page describing the importance of emergency and essential surgery in primary health care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000242
PMCID: PMC2834706  PMID: 20231869
4.  A Program Using Pharmacy Technicians to Collect Medication Histories in the Emergency Department 
Pharmacy and Therapeutics  2015;40(1):56-61.
When specially trained pharmacy technicians took patients’ medication histories in a hospital emergency department, the histories they conducted were accurate 88% of the time compared with 57% of those conducted by nurses, who had other duties.
Purpose:
To evaluate the percentage, frequency, and types of medication history errors made by pharmacy technicians compared with nurses in the emergency department (ED) to determine if patient safety and care can be improved while reducing nurses’ workloads.
Methods:
Medication history errors were evaluated in a pre-post study comparing a historical control group (nurses) prior to the implementation of a pharmacy technician program in the ED to a prospective cohort group (pharmacy technicians). Two certified pharmacy technicians were trained by the post-graduate year one (PGY1) pharmacy practice resident to conduct medication history interviews in a systematic fashion, with outside resources (i.e., assisted living facility, pharmacy, physician’s office, or family members) being consulted if any portion of the medication history was unclear or lacking information. The primary outcome compared the percentage of patients with accurate medication histories in each group. Secondary outcomes included differences between groups regarding total medication errors, types of errors, documentation of patient allergies and drug reactions, and documentation of last administration times for high-risk anticoagulant/antiplatelet medications. Accuracy was determined by reviewing each documented medication history for identifiable errors, including review of electronic generated prescriptions within the hospital system as well as physician notes or histories documented on the same day (for potential discrepancies). This review was performed by the pharmacy resident. The categories of errors included a drug omission, a drug commission, an incorrect or missing drug, an incorrect or missing dose, or an incorrect or missing frequency. Anonymous surveys were distributed to ED nurses to assess their feedback on the new medication reconciliation program using pharmacy technicians.
Results:
A total of 300 medication histories from the ED were evaluated (150 in each group). Medication histories conducted by pharmacy technicians were accurate 88% of the time compared with 57% of those conducted by nurses (P < 0.0001). Nineteen errors (1.1%) were made by pharmacy technicians versus 117 (8.3%) by nurses (relative risk [RR], 7.5; P < 0.0001). The most common type of error was an incorrect or missing dose (10 versus 59, P < 0.001), followed by an incorrect or missing frequency (0 versus 30, P < 0.0001), and a drug commission (5 versus 23, P = 0.004). There were no differences between groups regarding the documentation of patient allergies. Documentation rates of high-risk anticoagulant and antiplatelet administration times were greater for pharmacy technicians than for nurses (76% versus 13%, P < 0.001).
Conclusion:
This study demonstrates that trained pharmacy technicians can assist prescribers and nurses by improving the accuracy of medication histories obtained in the ED.
PMCID: PMC4296593  PMID: 25628508
5.  Prescriptions for medical research. I--Management within the Medical Research Council. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1993;306(6893):1668-1672.
In their submission to the government in advance of the white paper on science policy in the United Kingdom the Medical Research Council commends the MRC's own approach to managing directly funded research. But a series of semi-structured interviews with the directors of some of the MRC's units suggests a gap between the MRC's model of managed research and the reality. Although such units are theoretically managed from MRC head office (and units are charged an overhead for this), in practice each unit runs its own affairs. Between major reviews average contact time with the head office contact person is seven hours a year. The first paper argues that a purchaser-provider split would recognise the benefits of decentralisation and allow units to bid for research funds from several sources, the successful ones guaranteeing their survival through a rolling series of research programmes. The second paper criticises the MRC's cumbersome peer review system. Reliance on outside experts atrophies the scientific skills of head office staff and builds delays into decision making. A purchaser-provider model would allow the head office scientific staff to act like commercial research and development managers, commissioning research, and using the outcome, rather than peer review, as a criterion for continued funding.
PMCID: PMC1678049  PMID: 8324441
6.  The State of Human Anatomy Teaching in the Medical Schools of Gulf Cooperation Council Countries 
Available literature on medical education charts an emerging trend in the field of anatomy. In the past decade, assisted by innovations in informatics and the paradigm shift in medical education, the hands-on experience of cadaver dissection has progressively become a relic of the past. Within the context of the situation in Gulf Cooperation Council countries, this paper compares the traditional teaching approach with the modern one that tends to emphasise technical gadgetry, virtual reality and plastic models rather than hands-on-experience to impart knowledge and skill. However, cadaver-based learning is an important building block for the future physician and surgeon since clinical astuteness is likely to rely on skills gained from hands-on experience rather than the tendency to learning through virtual reality found in modern curricula.
PMCID: PMC3074750  PMID: 21509271
Anatomy teaching; Computer-assisted learning; Curriculum; Cadaver; Dissection
7.  Resuscitation from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: is survival dependent on who is available at the scene? 
Heart  1999;81(1):47-52.
Objective—To determine whether survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is influenced by the on-scene availability of different grades of ambulance personnel and other health professionals.
Design—Population based, retrospective, observational study.
Setting—County of Nottinghamshire with a population of one million.
Subjects—All 2094 patients who had resuscitation attempted by Nottinghamshire Ambulance Service crew from 1991 to 1994; study of 1547 patients whose arrest were of cardiac aetiology.
Main outcome measures—Survival to hospital admission and survival to hospital discharge.
Results—Overall survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest remains poor: 221 patients (14.3%) survived to reach hospital alive and only 94 (6.1%) survived to be discharged from hospital. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that the chances of those resuscitated by technician crew reaching hospital alive were poor but were greater when paramedic crew were either called to assist technicians or dealt with the arrest themselves (odds ratio 6.9 (95% confidence interval 3.92 to 26.61)). Compared to technician crew, survival to hospital discharge was only significantly improved with paramedic crew (3.55 (1.62 to 7.79)) and further improved when paramedics were assisted by either a health professional (9.91 (3.12 to 26.61)) or a medical practitioner (20.88 (6.72 to 64.94)).
Conclusions—Survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest remains poor despite attendance at the scene of the arrest by ambulance crew and other health professionals. Patients resuscitated by a paramedic from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest caused by cardiac disease were more likely to survive to hospital discharge than when resuscitation was provided by an ambulance technician. Resuscitation by a paramedic assisted by a medical practitioner offers a patient the best chances of surviving the event.

 Keywords: out-of-hospital;  cardiac arrest;  paramedic;  technician
PMCID: PMC1728906  PMID: 10220544
8.  Respiratory morbidity in a population of French dental technicians 
Aims: To compare wage earner dental technicians with non-exposed salaried subjects for the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and function, and chest x ray abnormalities.
Methods: A total of 134 dental technicians and 131 non-exposed subjects participated. A medical and an occupational questionnaire were filled in to evaluate the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and occupational exposures. Subjects underwent respiratory tests and chest x ray examination.
Results: Mean age of the dental technicians was 36.6 years with a mean duration of dental work of 16.5 years. There was a significant risk of cough (day and night) and usual phlegm in dental technicians. Respiratory function parameters were lower in dental technicians with a significant difference between exposed and non-exposed groups for % FVC (forced vital capacity), % FEF25 (forced mid expiratory flow), and % FEF50. The prevalence of small opacities increased with age. Small opacities were significantly related to an exposure to asbestos in the past.
Conclusions: Our young population of dental technicians is at risk of respiratory morbidity. They should benefit from adequate technical prevention measures.
doi:10.1136/oem.59.6.398
PMCID: PMC1740304  PMID: 12040116
9.  Modifying the Medical Research Council grading system through Rasch analyses 
Brain  2011;135(5):1639-1649.
The Medical Research Council grading system has served through decades for the evaluation of muscle strength and has been recognized as a cardinal feature of daily neurological, rehabilitation and general medicine examination of patients, despite being respectfully criticized due to the unequal width of its response options. No study has systematically examined, through modern psychometric approach, whether physicians are able to properly use the Medical Research Council grades. The objectives of this study were: (i) to investigate physicians’ ability to discriminate among the Medical Research Council categories in patients with different neuromuscular disorders and with various degrees of weakness through thresholds examination using Rasch analysis as a modern psychometric method; (ii) to examine possible factors influencing physicians’ ability to apply the Medical Research Council categories through differential item function analyses; and (iii) to examine whether the widely used Medical Research Council 12 muscles sum score in patients with Guillain–Barré syndrome and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy would meet Rasch model's expectations. A total of 1065 patients were included from nine cohorts with the following diseases: Guillain–Barré syndrome (n = 480); myotonic dystrophy type-1 (n = 169); chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (n = 139); limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (n = 105); multifocal motor neuropathy (n = 102); Pompe's disease (n = 62) and monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined related polyneuropathy (n = 8). Medical Research Council data of 72 muscles were collected. Rasch analyses were performed on Medical Research Council data for each cohort separately and after pooling data at the muscle level to increase category frequencies, and on the Medical Research Council sum score in patients with Guillain–Barré syndrome and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy. Disordered thresholds were demonstrated in 74–79% of the muscles examined, indicating physicians’ inability to discriminate between most Medical Research Council categories. Factors such as physicians’ experience or illness type did not influence these findings. Thresholds were restored after rescoring the Medical Research Council grades from six to four options (0, paralysis; 1, severe weakness; 2, slight weakness; 3, normal strength). The Medical Research Council sum score acceptably fulfilled Rasch model expectations after rescoring the response options and creating subsets to resolve local dependency and item bias on diagnosis. In conclusion, a modified, Rasch-built four response category Medical Research Council grading system is proposed, resolving clinicians’ inability to differentiate among its original response categories and improving clinical applicability. A modified Medical Research Council sum score at the interval level is presented and is recommended for future studies in Guillain–Barré syndrome and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr318
PMCID: PMC3338921  PMID: 22189568
MRC; manual muscle testing; Rasch; neuromuscular disorders
10.  Open access intrapartum CTG database 
Background
Cardiotocography (CTG) is a monitoring of fetal heart rate and uterine contractions. Since 1960 it is routinely used by obstetricians to assess fetal well-being. Many attempts to introduce methods of automatic signal processing and evaluation have appeared during the last 20 years, however still no significant progress similar to that in the domain of adult heart rate variability, where open access databases are available (e.g. MIT-BIH), is visible. Based on a thorough review of the relevant publications, presented in this paper, the shortcomings of the current state are obvious. A lack of common ground for clinicians and technicians in the field hinders clinically usable progress. Our open access database of digital intrapartum cardiotocographic recordings aims to change that.
Description
The intrapartum CTG database consists in total of 552 intrapartum recordings, which were acquired between April 2010 and August 2012 at the obstetrics ward of the University Hospital in Brno, Czech Republic. All recordings were stored in electronic form in the OB TraceVue®;system. The recordings were selected from 9164 intrapartum recordings with clinical as well as technical considerations in mind. All recordings are at most 90 minutes long and start a maximum of 90 minutes before delivery. The time relation of CTG to delivery is known as well as the length of the second stage of labor which does not exceed 30 minutes. The majority of recordings (all but 46 cesarean sections) is – on purpose – from vaginal deliveries. All recordings have available biochemical markers as well as some more general clinical features. Full description of the database and reasoning behind selection of the parameters is presented in the paper.
Conclusion
A new open-access CTG database is introduced which should give the research community common ground for comparison of results on reasonably large database. We anticipate that after reading the paper, the reader will understand the context of the field from clinical and technical perspectives which will enable him/her to use the database and also understand its limitations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-16
PMCID: PMC3898997  PMID: 24418387
Cardiotocography; Intrapartum; CTG; Database; Signal processing; Fetal heart rate
11.  Profile and scientific production of Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientific Development researchers in Pediatrics 
Revista Paulista de Pediatria  2013;31(3):278-284.
OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the profile and the scientific production of researchers in Pediatrics with scholarship from the National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development.
METHODS:
The Lattes curricula of 34 researchers in Pediatrics with active scholarships, from 2006 to 2008 were included in the analysis. The variables of interest were: gender, affiliation, time since PHD, tutoring of undergraduate students, mentorship of masters and doctors, scientific production and the papers' impact.
RESULTS:
In a total of 411 researchers in Medicine, 34 (8%) belonged to Pediatrics. Males (77%) and scholars in the category 2 of productivity (62%) prevailed. Three states of Brazil were responsible for approximately 90% of the researchers: São Paulo (53%), Minas Gerais (21%), and Rio Grande do Sul (15%). During their academic career, the Pediatrics researchers have published 3,122 articles with a median of 89 articles per researcher (interquartile range - IQ=51-119). Of the total, 40 and 59% articles were indexed in the Web of Science and Scopus databases, respectively. The Pediatrics researchers have published papers in 599 journals with a median impact factor of 2.35 (IQ=1.37-3.73) for the 323 indexed journals.
CONCLUSIONS:
The Pediatrics researchers have a relevant scientific output from the quantity point of the view, but there is a need to improve quality.
doi:10.1590/S0103-05822013000300002
PMCID: PMC4182968  PMID: 24142308
scientific publication indicators; Pediatrics; Medicine; education, Medical, Graduate; Health Sciences
12.  New York State Council of Health-system Pharmacists 
Pharmacy and Therapeutics  2013;38(7):425-426.
The Emily Jerry Foundation was instrumental in requiring training and certification for pharmacy technicians; and a representative from the institute for Safe Medication Practices discusses “off-the-beaten-track” areas of medication use.
PMCID: PMC3776484  PMID: 24049431
13.  The General Medical Council: frame of reference or arbiter of morals? 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1977;3(3):110-114.
Many members of the public think of the General Medical Council (GMC) as the body which tries doctors: the doctors' law courts, as it were. And, except in the more sober of newspapers and news reports, the 'offences ' which receive the most publicity are those concerning alleged improper relations between doctors and patients. Professor Sir Denis Hill, in the following paper, which he read in the spring of this year to the annual conference of the London Medical Group devoted to a discussion of human sexuality, chose to examine the whole function of the General Medical Council as a frame of moral reference for doctors. Judging allegations of professional misconduct by doctors is the function of the Council's Disciplinary Committee. Judging sexual misconduct forms only a small part of their work. The GMC's responsibility covers the whole notion of morals and morality as it concerns doctors in their professional work. Sir Denis Hill stresses the modern thinking that morality must be learned and that attitudes are always shifting as society alters its norms of what is moral conduct. That is not to say that all that was previously considered not to be moral has now become acceptable but rather that other concepts have entered the field of moral debate. Therefore the GMC must constantly review the frame of reference it offers to doctors and the public may be surprised to learn that that process is never static. Sir Denis Hill in this paper is speaking personally and not as a member of the General Medical Council or of any of that body's special committees.
PMCID: PMC1154576  PMID: 926129
14.  Medical Research Council leukaemia trial, UKALL VII. A report to the Council by the Working Party on Leukaemia in Childhood. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1985;60(11):1050-1054.
Eighty two eligible children with 'standard risk' lymphoblastic leukaemia were entered into the Medical Research Council UKALL VII trial. Three failed to remit. With a minimum follow up time of four years, actuarial relapse free survival for the remainder was 65%; a significant improvement over the two preceding 'standard risk' trials at the same stage. Only one of five treatment variables possibly affected relapse free survival; this being whether methotrexate was given orally or parenterally during remission maintenance treatment. Twenty seven of 36 patients (75%) who were given intramuscular methotrexate remain alive and in their first remission compared with 23 of 41 (56%) given the drug orally. Although statistically significant differences in small trials should be interpreted with caution, this finding raises the possibility that orally administered methotrexate is not completely absorbed.
PMCID: PMC1777623  PMID: 3907505
15.  Involvement of consumers in studies run by the Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Unit: Results of a survey 
Trials  2012;13:9.
Background
We aimed to establish levels of consumer involvement in randomised controlled trials (RCTs), meta-analyses and other studies carried out by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Clinical Trials Unit across the range of research programs, predominantly in cancer and HIV.
Methods
Staff responsible for studies that were included in a Unit Progress Report (MRC CTU, April 2009) were asked to complete a semi-structured questionnaire survey regarding consumer involvement. This was defined as active involvement of consumers as partners in the research process and not as subjects of that research. The electronic questionnaires combined open and closed questions, intended to capture quantitative and qualitative information on whether studies had involved consumers; types of activities undertaken; recruitment and support; advantages and disadvantages of involvement and its perceived impact on aspects of the research.
Results
Between October 2009 and April 2010, 138 completed questionnaires (86%) were returned. Studies had been conducted over a 20 year period from 1989, and around half were in cancer; 30% in HIV and 20% were in other disease areas including arthritis, tuberculosis and blood transfusion medicine. Forty-three studies (31%) had some consumer involvement, most commonly as members of trial management groups (TMG) [88%]. A number of positive impacts on both the research and the researcher were identified. Researchers generally felt involvement was worthwhile and some felt that consumer involvement had improved the credibility of the research. Benefits in design and quality, trial recruitment, dissemination and decision making were also perceived. Researchers felt they learned from consumer involvement, albeit that there were some barriers.
Conclusions
Whilst most researchers identified benefits of involving consumers, most of studies included in the survey had no involvement. Information from this survey will inform the development of a unit policy on consumer involvement, to guide future research conducted within the MRC Clinical Trials Unit and beyond.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-9
PMCID: PMC3398265  PMID: 22243649
Public and patient involvement; consumer involvement; clinical trials; systematic reviews; RCTs
16.  Epidemiological Pathology of Dementia: Attributable-Risks at Death in the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(11):e1000180.
Researchers from the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Neuropathology Study carry out an analysis of brain pathologies contributing to dementia, within a cohort of elderly individuals in the UK who agreed to brain donation.
Background
Dementia drug development aims to modulate pathological processes that cause clinical syndromes. Population data (epidemiological neuropathology) will help to model and predict the potential impact of such therapies on dementia burden in older people. Presently this can only be explored through post mortem findings. We report the attributable risks (ARs) for dementia at death for common age-related degenerative and vascular pathologies, and other factors, in the MRC Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS).
Methods and Findings
A multicentre, prospective, longitudinal study of older people in the UK was linked to a brain donation programme. Neuropathology of 456 consecutive brain donations assessed degenerative and vascular pathologies. Logistic regression modelling, with bootstrapping and sensitivity analyses, was used to estimate AR at death for dementia for specific pathologies and other factors. The main contributors to AR at death for dementia in MRC CFAS were age (18%), small brain (12%), neocortical neuritic plaques (8%) and neurofibrillary tangles (11%), small vessel disease (12%), multiple vascular pathologies (9%), and hippocampal atrophy (10%). Other significant factors include cerebral amyloid angiopathy (7%) and Lewy bodies (3%).
Conclusions
Such AR estimates cannot be derived from the living population; rather they estimate the relative contribution of specific pathologies to dementia at death. We found that multiple pathologies determine the overall burden of dementia. The impact of therapy targeted to a specific pathology may be profound when the dementia is relatively “pure,” but may be less impressive for the majority with mixed disease, and in terms of the population. These data justify a range of strategies, and combination therapies, to combat the degenerative and vascular determinants of cognitive decline and dementia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Losing one's belongings and forgetting people's names is often a normal part of aging. But increasing forgetfulness can also be a sign of dementia, a group of symptoms caused by several disorders that affect the structure of the brain. The commonest form of dementia is Alzheimer disease. In this, protein clumps called plaques and neurofibrillary tangles form in the brain and cause its degeneration. Vascular dementia, in which problems with blood circulation deprive parts of the brain of oxygen, is also common. People with dementia have problems with two or more “cognitive” functions—thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment. As the disease progresses, they gradually lose their ability to deal with normal daily activities until they need total care, their personality often changes, and they may become agitated or aggressive. Dementia is rare before the age of 65 years but about a quarter of people over 85 years old have dementia. Because more people live to a ripe old age these days, the number of people with dementia is increasing. According to the latest estimates, about 35 million people now have dementia and by 2050, 115 million may have the disorder.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is no cure for dementia but many drugs designed to modulate specific abnormal (pathological) changes in the brain that can cause the symptoms of dementia are being developed. To assess the likely impact of these potentially expensive new therapies, experts need to know what proportion of dementia is associated with each type of brain pathology. Although some brain changes can be detected in living brains with techniques such as computed tomography brain scans, most brain changes can only be studied in brains taken from people after death (post mortem brains). In this study, which is part of the UK Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS), the researchers look for associations between dementia in elderly people and pathological changes in their post mortem brains and estimate the attributable-risk (AR) for dementia at death associated with specific pathological features in the brain. That is, they estimate the proportion of dementia directly attributable to each type of pathology.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Nearly 20 years ago, the MRC CFAS interviewed more than 18,000 people aged 65 years or older recruited at six sites in England and Wales to determine their cognitive function and their ability to deal with daily activities. 20% of the participants, which included people with and without cognitive impairment, were then assessed in more detail and invited to donate their brains for post mortem examination. As of 2004, 456 individuals had donated their brains. The dementia status of these donors was established using data from their assessment interviews and death certificates, and from interviews with relatives and carers, and their brains were carefully examined for abnormal changes. The researchers then used statistical methods to estimate the AR for dementia at death associated with various abnormal brain changes. The main contributors to AR for dementia at death included age (18% of dementia at death was attributable to this factor), plaques (8%), and neurofibrillary tangles (11%) in a brain region called the neocortex, small blood vessel disease (12%), and multiple abnormal changes in blood vessels (9%).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that multiple abnormal brain changes determine the overall burden of dementia. Importantly, they also suggest that dementia is often associated with mixed pathological changes—many people with dementia had brain changes consistent with both Alzheimer disease and vascular dementia. Because people with dementia live for variable lengths of time during which the abnormal changes in their brain are likely to alter, it may be difficult to extrapolate these findings to living populations of elderly people. Furthermore, only a small percentage of the MRC CFAS participants have donated their brains so the findings of this study may not apply to the general population. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the new therapies currently under development may do little to reduce the overall burden of dementia because most people's dementia involves multiple pathologies. Consequently, it may be necessary to develop a range of strategies and combination therapies to deal with the ongoing dementia epidemic.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000180.
The US National Institute on Aging provides information for patients and carers about forgetfulness and about Alzheimer disease (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site also provides detailed information for patients and their carers about dementia and about Alzheimer disease
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and Alzheimer disease (in English and Spanish)
More information about the UK Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS) is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000180
PMCID: PMC2765638  PMID: 19901977
17.  Tuberculosis among Health-Care Workers in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e494.
Background
The risk of transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from patients to health-care workers (HCWs) is a neglected problem in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Most health-care facilities in these countries lack resources to prevent nosocomial transmission of tuberculosis (TB).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review to summarize the evidence on the incidence and prevalence of latent TB infection (LTBI) and disease among HCWs in LMICs, and to evaluate the impact of various preventive strategies that have been attempted. To identify relevant studies, we searched electronic databases and journals, and contacted experts in the field. We identified 42 articles, consisting of 51 studies, and extracted data on incidence, prevalence, and risk factors for LTBI and disease among HCWs. The prevalence of LTBI among HCWs was, on average, 54% (range 33% to 79%). Estimates of the annual risk of LTBI ranged from 0.5% to 14.3%, and the annual incidence of TB disease in HCWs ranged from 69 to 5,780 per 100,000. The attributable risk for TB disease in HCWs, compared to the risk in the general population, ranged from 25 to 5,361 per 100,000 per year. A higher risk of acquiring TB disease was associated with certain work locations (inpatient TB facility, laboratory, internal medicine, and emergency facilities) and occupational categories (radiology technicians, patient attendants, nurses, ward attendants, paramedics, and clinical officers).
Conclusions
In summary, our review demonstrates that TB is a significant occupational problem among HCWs in LMICs. Available evidence reinforces the need to design and implement simple, effective, and affordable TB infection-control programs in health-care facilities in these countries.
A systematic review demonstrates that tuberculosis is an important occupational problem among health care workers in low and middle-income countries.
Editors' Summary
Background.
One third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). In many people, the bug causes no health problems—it remains latent. But about 10% of infected people develop active, potentially fatal TB, often in their lungs. People with active pulmonary TB readily spread the infection to other people, including health-care workers (HCWs), in small airborne droplets produced when they cough or sneeze. In high-income countries such as the US, guidelines are in place to minimize the transmission of TB in health-care facilities. Administrative controls (for example, standard treatment plans for people with suspected or confirmed TB) aim to reduce the exposure of HCWs to people with TB. Environmental controls (for example, the use of special isolation rooms) aim to prevent the spread and to reduce the concentration of infectious droplets in the air. Finally, respiratory-protection controls (for example, personal respirators for nursing staff) aim to reduce the risk of infection when exposure to M. tuberculosis is unavoidably high. Together, these three layers of control have reduced the incidence of TB in HCWs (the number who catch TB annually) in high-income countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
But what about low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where more than 90% of the world's cases of TB occur? Here, there is little money available to implement even low-cost strategies to reduce TB transmission in health-care facilities—so how important an occupational disease is TB in HCWs in these countries? In this study, the researchers have systematically reviewed published papers to find out the incidence and prevalence (how many people in a population have a specific disease) of active TB and latent TB infections (LTBIs) in HCWs in LMICs. They have also investigated whether any of the preventative strategies used in high-income countries have been shown to reduce the TB burden in HCWs in poorer countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To identify studies on TB transmission to HCWs in LMICs, the researchers searched electronic databases and journals, and also contacted experts on TB transmission. They then extracted and analyzed the relevant data on TB incidence, prevalence, risk factors, and control measures. Averaged-out over the 51 identified studies, 54% of HCWs had LTBI. In most of the studies, increasing age and duration of employment in health-care facilities, indicating a longer cumulative exposure to infection, was associated with a higher prevalence of LTBI. The same trend was seen in a subgroup of medical and nursing students. After accounting for the incidence of TB in the relevant general population, the excess incidence of TB in the different studies that was attributable to being a HCW ranged from 25 to 5,361 cases per 100, 000 people per year. In addition, a higher risk of acquiring TB was associated with working in specific locations (for example, inpatient TB facilities or diagnostic laboratories) and with specific occupations, including nurses and radiology attendants; most of the health-care facilities examined in the published studies had no specific TB infection-control programs in place.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all systematic reviews, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by some aspects of the original studies, such as how the incidence of LTBI was measured. In addition, the possibility that the researchers missed some relevant published studies, or that only studies where there was a high incidence of TB in HCWs were published, may also affect the findings of this study. Nevertheless, they suggest that TB is an important occupational disease in HCWs in LMICs and that the HCWs most at risk of TB are those exposed to the most patients with TB. Reduction of that risk should be a high priority because occupational TB leads to the loss of essential, skilled HCWs. Unfortunately, there are few data available to indicate how this should be done. Thus, the researchers conclude, well-designed field studies are urgently needed to evaluate whether the TB-control measures that have reduced TB transmission to HCWs in high-income countries will work and be affordable in LMICs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494.
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases patient fact sheet on tuberculosis
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information for patients and professionals on tuberculosis
• MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on tuberculosis
• NHS Direct Online, from the UK National Health Service, patient information on tuberculosis
• US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, information about tuberculosis for health-care workers
• American Lung Association information on tuberculosis and health-care workers
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030494
PMCID: PMC1716189  PMID: 17194191
18.  Advocacy for active transport: advocate and city council perspectives 
Background
Effective advocacy is an important part of efforts to increase population participation in physical activity. Research about effective health advocacy is scarce, however, the health sector can learn from the experiences and knowledge of community advocates and those who are on the receiving end of this advocacy. The aim of this study is to explore advocacy for active transport from the perspectives of community advocates and representatives from City councils.
Methods
Cycling and walking advocates were identified from the local contact list of Cycling Advocates Network and Living Streets Aotearoa. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with cycle and walking advocates from throughout New Zealand. Advocates also nominated a suitable council officer at their local City council to be interviewed. Interviews were recorded and transcribed and categories of responses for each of the questions created.
Results
Several processes were used by advocates to engage with council staff, including formal council submissions, meetings, stakeholder forums and partnership in running community events promoting active transport. Several other agencies were identified as being influential for active transport, some as potential coalition partners and others as potential adversaries. Barriers to improving conditions for active transport included a lack of funding, a lack of will-power among either council staff or councillors, limited council staff capacity (time or training) and a culture of providing infrastructure for motor vehicles instead of people. Several suggestions were made about how the health sector could contribute to advocacy efforts, including encouraging political commitment, engaging the media, communicating the potential health benefits of active transport to the general public and being role models in terms of personal travel mode choice and having workplaces that support participation in active transport.
Conclusions
There is potential for the health sector to make an important contribution to advocacy for active transport in New Zealand. While there are many barriers to achieving supportive environments for cycling and walking, a range of advocacy strategies were identified which could help ensure that health perspectives are considered in decisions relevant to active transport.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-5
PMCID: PMC2830166  PMID: 20181003
19.  Incidence of tuberculosis, hepatitis, brucellosis, and shigellosis in British medical laboratory workers. 
British Medical Journal  1976;1(6012):759-762.
A retrospective postal survey of 21 000 medical laboratory workers in England and Wales showed 18 new cases of pulmonary tuberculosis in 1971, a five-times increased risk of acquiring the disease compared with the general population. Technicians were at greatest risk, especially if they worked in morbid anatomy departments. Of the 35 cases of hepatitis, the technicians were again the occupational group most likely to acquire the disease. Microbiology staff were twice as likely to report shigellosis as those in other pathology divisions but only one case of brucellosis was reported in the whole laboratory population. A similar survey carried out in 1973 of 3000 Scottish medical laboratory workers corroborates the results from England and Wales. Medical laboratory workers continue to experience a considerable risk of developing an occupationally acquired infection. Improvements in staff safety and health care seem to be necessary.
PMCID: PMC1639170  PMID: 1260318
20.  Why the Medical Research Council refused Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe support for research on human conception in 1971 
Human Reproduction (Oxford, England)  2010;25(9):2157-2174.
BACKGROUND
In 1971, Cambridge physiologist Robert Edwards and Oldham gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe applied to the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) for long-term support for a programme of scientific and clinical ‘Studies on Human Reproduction’. The MRC, then the major British funder of medical research, declined support on ethical grounds and maintained this policy throughout the 1970s. The work continued with private money, leading to the birth of Louise Brown in 1978 and transforming research in obstetrics, gynaecology and human embryology.
METHODS
The MRC decision has been criticized, but the processes by which it was reached have yet to be explored. Here, we present an archive-based analysis of the MRC decision.
RESULTS
We find evidence of initial support for Edwards and Steptoe, including from within the MRC, which invited the applicants to join its new directly funded Clinical Research Centre at Northwick Park Hospital. They declined the offer, preferring long-term grant support at the University of Cambridge, and so exposed the project to competitive funding mode. Referees and the Clinical Research Board saw the institutional set-up in Cambridge as problematic with respect to clinical facilities and patient management; gave infertility a low priority compared with population control; assessed interventions as purely experimental rather than potential treatments, and so set the bar for safety high; feared fatal abnormalities and so wanted primate experiments first; and were antagonized by the applicants’ high media profile. The rejection set MRC policy on IVF for 8 years, until, after the birth of just two healthy babies, the Council rapidly converted to enthusiastic support.
CONCLUSIONS
This analysis enriches our view of a crucial decision, highlights institutional opportunities and constraints and provides insight into the then dominant attitudes of reproductive scientists and clinicians towards human conception research.
doi:10.1093/humrep/deq155
PMCID: PMC2922998  PMID: 20657027
Robert Edwards; funding; history; human conception; IVF; Medical Research Council; Patrick Steptoe
21.  Hearing New Voices: Registered Nurses and Health Technicians Experience Caring for Chronic Pain Patients in Primary Care Clinics 
The Open Nursing Journal  2014;8:25-33.
Recent national estimates from the U.S. reveal that as many as one-third of all Americans experience chronic pain resulting in high prevalence rates of visits to primary care clinics (PCC). Indeed, chronic pain appears to be an emerging global health problem. Research has largely ignored the perspective of PCC staff other than physicians in providing care for patients with chronic pain. We wanted to gain insights from the experiences of Registered Nurses (RNs) and Health Technicians (HTs) who care for this patient population. Krippendorff’s method for content analysis was used to analyze comments written in an open-ended survey from fifty-seven primary care clinic staff (RNs-N=27 and HTs-N=30) respondents. This represented an overall response rate of 75%. Five themes emerged related to the experience of RNs and HTs caring for patients with chronic pain: 1) Primacy of Medications and Accompanying Clinical Quandaries; 2) System Barriers; 3) Dealing with Failure; 4) Primacy of Patient Centered Care; and 5) Importance of Team Based Care. This study demonstrates that nursing staff provide patient-centered care, recognize the importance of their role within an interdisciplinary team and can offer valuable insight about the care of patients with chronic pain. This study provides insight into strategies that can mitigate barriers to chronic pain management while sustaining those aspects that RNs and HTs view as essential for improving patient care for this vulnerable population in PCCs.
doi:10.2174/1874434601408010025
PMCID: PMC4168647  PMID: 25246996
Chronic pain; content analysis; Krippendorff method; primary care clinic.
22.  Knowledge and awareness of diabetes in urban and rural India: The Indian Council of Medical Research India Diabetes Study (Phase I): Indian Council of Medical Research India Diabetes 4 
Background:
Representative data on knowledge and awareness about diabetes is scarce in India and is extremely important to plan public health policies aimed at preventing and controlling diabetes.
Aim:
The aim of the following study is to assess awareness and knowledge about diabetes in the general population, as well as in individuals with diabetes in four selected regions of India.
Materials and Methods:
The study subjects were drawn from a representative sample of four geographical regions of India, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Maharashtra representing North, South, East and West and covering a population of 213 million. A total of 16,607 individuals (5112 urban and 11,495 rural) aged ≥20 years were selected from 188 urban and 175 rural areas. Awareness of diabetes and knowledge of causative factors and complications of diabetes were assessed using an interviewer administered structured questionnaire in 14,274 individuals (response rate, 86.0%), which included 480 self-reported diabetic subjects.
Results:
Only 43.2% (6160/14,274) of the overall study population had heard about a condition called diabetes. Overall urban residents had higher awareness rates (58.4%) compared to rural residents (36.8%) (P < 0.001). About 46.7% of males and 39.6% of females reported that they knew about a condition called diabetes (P < 0.001). Of the general population, 41.5% (5726/13,794) knew about a condition called diabetes. Among them, 80.7% (4620/5726) knew that the prevalence of diabetes was increasing, whereas among diabetic subjects, it was 93.0% (448/480). Among the general and diabetic population, 56.3% and 63.4% respectively, were aware that diabetes could be prevented. Regarding complications, 51.5% of the general population and 72.7% diabetic population knew that diabetes could affect other organs. Based on a composite knowledge score to assess knowledge among the general population, Tamil Nadu had the highest (31.7) and Jharkhand the lowest score (16.3). However among self-reported diabetic subjects, Maharashtra had the highest (70.1) and Tamil Nadu, the lowest score (56.5).
Conclusion:
Knowledge and awareness about diabetes in India, particularly in rural areas, is poor. This underscores the need for conducting large scale diabetes awareness and education programs.
doi:10.4103/2230-8210.131191
PMCID: PMC4056139  PMID: 24944935
Asian Indians; awareness; diabetes; Indian Council of Medical Research India Diabetes; India; knowledge; rural; South Asians; urban
23.  Surgeon length of service and risk-adjusted outcomes: linked observational analysis of the UK National Adult Cardiac Surgery Audit Registry and General Medical Council Register 
Summary
Objectives
To explore the relationship between in-hospital mortality following adult cardiac surgery and the time since primary clinical qualification for the responsible consultant cardiac surgeon (a proxy for experience).
Design
Retrospective analysis of prospectively collected national registry data over a 10-year period using mixed-effects multiple logistic regression modelling. Surgeon experience was defined as the time between the date of surgery and award of primary clinical qualification.
Setting
UK National Health Service hospitals performing cardiac surgery between January 2003 and December 2012.
Participants
All patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafts and/or valve surgery under the care of a consultant cardiac surgeon.
Main outcome measures
All-cause in-hospital mortality.
Results
A total of 292,973 operations performed by 273 consultant surgeons (with lengths of service from 11.2 to 42.0 years) were included. Crude mortality increased approximately linearly until 33 years service, before decreasing. After adjusting for case-mix and year of surgery, there remained a statistically significant (p = 0.002) association between length of service and in-hospital mortality (odds ratio 1.013; 95% CI 1.005–1.021 for each year of ‘experience’).
Conclusions
Consultant cardiac surgeons take on increasingly complex surgery as they gain experience. With this progression, the incidence of adverse outcomes is expected to increase, as is demonstrated in this study. After adjusting for case-mix using the EuroSCORE, we observed an increased risk of mortality in patients operated on by longer serving surgeons. This finding may reflect under-adjustment for risk, unmeasured confounding or a real association. Further research into outcomes over the time course of surgeon's careers is required.
doi:10.1177/0141076814538788
PMCID: PMC4206624  PMID: 25193057
clinical experience; length of service; clinical performance; General Medical Council register; cardiac surgery; audit
24.  Twenty year follow up of patients in the Medical Research Council trial of anticoagulants in acute myocardial infarction. 
British Heart Journal  1987;57(5):413-415.
A 20 year follow up of 1330 patients in the Medical Research Council trial of short term anticoagulant treatment in myocardial infarction showed no long term benefits; but it provided interesting data on the outcome in such patients. Sixteen per cent of the patients were alive 20 years later. The excess mortality rate in trial participants over that expected for England and Wales as a whole declined rapidly after the early months, but some excess persisted throughout the follow up. Three quarters of all the deaths were from coronary heart disease; 70% of these coronary deaths occurred after the patients had left hospital. This finding emphasises the importance of secondary prevention.
PMCID: PMC1277194  PMID: 3297120
25.  Assessment of the technical quality of electrocardiograms. 
The technical quality of 600 electrocardiograms (ECG's) was assessed for missing leads and clipping, and graded from 1 to 5 for each of noise, lead drift and beat-to-beat drift. Three subgroups of 200 ECGs each were studied: group A, those obtained by emergency department staff (non-technicians); group B, records obtained by ECG technicians; and group C, telephone-transmitted records obtained by technicians performing all the laboratory work at a smaller, outlying hospital. Records with missing leads, clipping, grade 4 or 5 noise, grade 5 lead drift or grade 5 beat-to-beat drift were classified as unsatisfactory or rejected. With these stringent criteria the rejection rate was 71.0% for group A records, 58.5% for group B and 44.5% for group C. The proportions of records with peak quality (no missing leads or clipping, and grade 1 noise, lead drift or beat-to-beat drift) were 4.5% for group A, 5.5% for group B and 23.0% for group C. Suggested revisions in the grading of technical quality of ECGs are presented.
Images
PMCID: PMC1818330  PMID: 688125

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