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1.  Increased rate of depression and psychosomatic symptoms in Jewish migrants from the post-Soviet-Union to Germany in the 3rd generation after the Shoa 
Translational Psychiatry  2013;3(3):e241-.
The mental health status of persons with Jewish background living in Germany is discussed with special regard to social exclusion like anti-Semitism and overprotective parental rearing behavior, as a transmissional factor of the KZ-Syndrome. These stressors are considered in the context of a higher risk for depression/fear and psychosomatic disorders and also abnormal cortisol levels. The present sample (N=89) is derived from the Jewish population currently living in the German region of Saxony aged between 17–36 years that emigrated from the post-Soviet-Union areas. The mean age was 22.9 years. Two questionnaires to detect psychosomatic symptoms (Giessen complaint list (GBB)-24, hospital anxiety and depression scale) and one questionnaire addressing parental rearing behavior (FEE) were employed. Comparisons were drawn with normative data from the literature about the German residential population. In addition, questions were asked concerning the experience of anti-Semitism in Germany and in the post-Soviet-Union areas. A higher prevalence of depression/fear (10.3% versus 18.2%) and psychosomatic symptoms (M=14.03 versus 17.8; t=2.42; P<0.05) was observed in Jewish migrants to Germany as compared with non-Jewish German residents. Furthermore, anti-Semitic experiences in Germany correlated positively with depression (r=0.293; P<0.01) and fear (r=0.254; P<0.05). The anti-Semitic experiences in the post-Soviet-Union areas also correlated positively with limb pain (r=0.41, P<0.01), fatigue symptoms (r=0.296, P<0.01) and psychocardial symptoms (r=0.219, P<0.05). It was also confirmed that the male respondents recalled a controlling and overprotecting maternal rearing behavior more frequently than the German standard random sample (M=15.39 versus 18.6; t=2.68; P<0.01). The latter also correlated significantly positive with epigastric pain (r=0.349; P<0.01). The present results show that depression, fear and psychosomatic problems are common in Jewish residents with a background of migration from the post-Soviet-Union areas to Germany. Apart from the transgenerational passing of psychological traumata and the Holocaust experiences, other stressors like anti-Semitism, control and overprotection as parental rearing measures appear to be important factors specifically contributing to the pathogenesis of the attributed symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3625916  PMID: 23481628
anti-Semitism; depression; Holocaust; intergenerational transmission of trauma; psychosomatic symptoms; recalled parental rearing behavior
2.  A Randomised Controlled Trial of Ion-Exchange Water Softeners for the Treatment of Eczema in Children 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1000395.
In a randomized trial evaluating the effect of installation of ion-exchange water softeners in the households of children with eczema, the researchers found no evidence of improvement in eczema severity as compared to usual care in the study population.
Epidemiological studies and anecdotal reports suggest a possible link between household use of hard water and atopic eczema. We sought to test whether installation of an ion-exchange water softener in the home can improve eczema in children.
Methods and Findings
This was an observer-blind randomised trial involving 336 children (aged 6 months to 16 years) with moderate/severe atopic eczema. All lived in hard water areas (≥200 mg/l calcium carbonate). Participants were randomised to either installation of an ion-exchange water softener plus usual eczema care, or usual eczema care alone. The primary outcome was change in eczema severity (Six Area Six Sign Atopic Dermatitis Score, SASSAD) at 12 weeks, measured by research nurses who were blinded to treatment allocation. Analysis was based on the intent-to-treat population. Eczema severity improved for both groups during the trial. The mean change in SASSAD at 12 weeks was −5.0 (20% improvement) for the water softener group and −5.7 (22% improvement) for the usual care group (mean difference 0.66, 95% confidence interval −1.37 to 2.69, p = 0.53). No between-group differences were noted in the use of topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors.
Water softeners provided no additional benefit to usual care in this study population. Small but statistically significant differences were found in some secondary outcomes as reported by parents, but it is likely that such improvements were the result of response bias, since participants were aware of their treatment allocation. A detailed report for this trial is also available at
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN71423189
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Eczema (sometimes referred to as atopic dermatitis) is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects about 20% of school children in developed countries. Eczema is often associated with other conditions, such as asthma, hay-fever and food allergy and can cause intractable itching leading to thickened skin, bleeding, secondary infection, sleep loss, poor concentration, and psychological distress. Current topical treatments for eczema have side effects, for example, topical corticosteroids may cause skin thinning and the long term safety of topical tacrolimus and pimecrolimus has yet to be determined. Therefore, there is a lot of interest in exploring the benefits of non-pharmacological treatments that have no apparent side effects.
Water hardness (≥200 mg/l calcium carbonate) has become a recent focus of attention.
Why Was This Study Done?
In addition to some epidemiological evidence linking increased water hardness with increased eczema prevalence, there have been widespread anecdotal reports of improvement in the skin of children with eczema when the family has moved from a hard to a soft water area. In addition, some patients report how their eczema symptoms have rapidly improved following the installation of a water softener. However, to date there have been no relevant published trials evaluating the potential benefit of water softeners for eczema. Given the lack of evidence, the high public interest in their potential benefit and the low risk of adverse effects, the researcher conducted a study to assess whether the installation of an ion-exchange water softener reduces the severity of eczema in children with moderate to severe eczema.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a pilot study that showed that it was not possible to blind participants to their treatment allocation using real and “dummy” water softener units because the softened water produced more soap suds. So the researchers conducted an observer-blind randomised controlled trial in which they used trained research nurses to conduct an objective assessment of every participant's skin. The researchers recruited 336 children who all lived in hard water areas in England. Eligible children were aged 6 months to 16 years who had a diagnosis of eczema (in line with the UK working party's diagnostic criteria) and an eczema severity score of 10 or over. Participants were randomised to either installation of an ion-exchange water softener plus usual eczema care, or usual eczema care alone. Trained research nurses examined each child's skin at baseline and at 6, 12, and 16 weeks to record changes in eczema severity. The researchers also analysed any changes in symptoms over the study period such as, sleep loss and itchiness, the amount of topical corticosteroid/calcineurin inhibitors used, the Dermatitis Family Impact questionnaire and the health related Quality of Life (children's version).
Although both treatment groups improved in disease severity during the course of the trial, the researchers found no difference between the treatment groups in the main outcome—eczema severity. Similar finding were found for night movement (scratching) and the use of topical medications (creams/ointments applied to the skin), both of which were blinded to intervention status. Nevertheless, parents in the trial did report small health benefits, and just over 50% chose to buy the water softener at the end of the trial because of perceived improvements in the eczema and the wider benefits of water softeners. It is unclear how much of this effect can be explained by prior belief in the effectiveness of the water softeners for the treatment of eczema.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study suggest that water softeners provide no additional clinical benefit to usual care in children with eczema so the use of ion-exchange water softeners for the treatment of moderate to severe eczema in children should not be recommended. However, it is up to each family to decide whether or not the wider benefits of installing a water softener in their home are sufficient to consider buying one.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The UK's NHS presents information on eczema for patients and families
MedlinePlus gives information for patients, families, and caregivers on eczema and other similar conditions
The National Eczema Society in the UK provides information and a helpline for eczema patients, families, and caregivers
Medinfo provides information for eczema patients
Wikipedia has more information about water softening (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3039684  PMID: 21358807
3.  Therapy of unspecific tinnitus without organic cause 
There is a variety of medical and non-medical therapies in practice, which were not evaluated regarding its effectiveness by any systematic evidence oriented investigation.
A number of therapies of medical and non-medical type try to treat the different types of tinnitus. The evidence in the scientific literature also had to be cleared in the field of diagnosis and classification as well as medical/psychiatric/psychological procedures of existing medical therapy.
The HTA report had to investigate the following questions:
Which evidence do diagnostic methods in recognition of tinnitus have? Which types of therapy show medical effectiveness at the acute or chronic tinnitus without an organic cause? Which consequences (need for further research, future procedures) can be drawn?
In the following databases "tinnitus" was searched according to the search string:
HTA97; INAHTA; CDAR94; CDSR93; CCTR93; ME66; ME0A; HT83; SM78; CA66; CB85; BA70; BA93; EM74; IS74; ET80; EB94; IA70; AZ72; CV72; GE79; EU93; HN69; ED93; EA08
Result: 1932 studies, unsorted after assessment in accordance with EBM criterions, selection: 409 studies.
Due to the completely heterogeneous representation modes of the therapeutic approaches at the treatment of the chronic tinnitus no quantitative synthesis method could be performed. Therefore the methodology of a qualitative overview has been carried out.
The diagnostic confirmation of the non-specific tinnitus without organic cause meets with the problem of the assurance of the diagnosis tinnitus. According to the current opinion the stepwise diagnostics is carried out also in the case of the so called subjective tinnitus. Nothing can be said about the evidence of these procedures since no publication was found about that. A study concerning the evidence of the diagnostic questionnaires from Goebel and Hiller [1] comes to the end that the tinnitus questionnaire frequently used (TF) [2] is the best evaluated procedure.
The number of therapies which treat tinnitus is exceptionally high and makes clear, that the search for "the" tinnitus therapy is still going on. According to the current knowledge tinnitus genesis is multifactorial and therefore there can’t be any standard therapy for tinnitus. The following seven categories can be distinguished:
Ad 1: Machine-aided acoustic therapies
From many studies regarding machine-aided acoustic therapy of tinnitus only two showed an evidence degree that allows scientifically correct statements about the effectiveness of these procedures. Selectively significant improvements could be shown in the comparison with a placebo (apparatus switched off) a superiority of tinnitus-maskers.
Ad 2: Electrostimulation
In an application study of electro-stimulation the results were not evaluated statistically, but it was described descriptively that a successful medical treatment can be expected in about 50% of the cases.
Ad 3: Psychological therapy procedures
Hypnosis did not show positive effectiveness. With regard to biofeedback it can be concluded that this method can be effective in individual cases, however regarded as unreliable from missing reproducibility. Neurobiofeedback could prove that it had a positive therapeutic effect.
From eight controlled studies to relaxation techniques and cognitive behaviour therapy four studies showed a therapeutic effectiveness and four failed. Combined therapies proved generally to be more effective than individual types.
The behaviour medical psychotherapy could show a positive therapy effect. In a study with cognitive therapy and relaxation (three groups, a passive relaxation, an active relaxation and a cognitive therapy) short-term successes could be stated (for one month), however, the parameters of success returned on the initial value after four months.
Also only coincidental and short-term successes could be achieved with cognitive behaviour therapy training, autogenic training and structured group psychotherapy.
Ad 4: Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
Unfortunately, the published results of the TRT are methodically frequently bad and scientific of a poor value. Many of the studies presented until now regarding tinnitus retraining therapy are not informative in their scientific context.
In a study with 95 patients with a chronic tinnitus TRT could show a significant, more than six months lasting stable success by comparison to a combination of TET with group behaviour therapy (improvement be achieved around at least ten points in the tinnitus questionnaire (TF)).
Ad 5: Pharmacological therapies
Rheological drugs (medicines for hemodilution) could not show any statistically significant effect in the treatment of tinnitus.
Studies to the medical treatment with tocainides (lidocaine) showed repeatable positive effects on tinnitus in higher dosages (as of 1.2 mg/day). Lamotrigine as a medicine had an effect positively only at with a small fraction of patients. Two studies with GABA receptor agonists could not prove therapeutic effects for tinnitus. Undesired side-effects were observed. Injections with Carvoverine (a glutamate antagonist) achieved significantly successes with a special form of tinnitus, the “Cochlear-synaptic tinnitus (CST)".
A tricyclic antidepressant (Amitriptilin) could prove superiority against placebo. This effect could be confirmed in another study. However Clonazepame (a benzodiazepine), could not achieve any improvement. Short-term improvements were achieved with other benzodiazepines (Clonazepame, Diazepam, Flurazepame, Oxacepame and Alprazolame).
A German retrospective study suggests a graded pharmacological therapy by means of rheological infusion therapy, applications of neurotransmitters, and injections of lidocaine. This method achieved a disappearance or a recovery of the complaints at 95.3% of the acute and 26.7% of the chronic cases.
Ad 6: Surgical procedures
The effects of the operative excision of the stapes (stapedectomy) showed significant effects concerning tinnitus. This method is a routine operation to recover hearing, effects on tinnitus were observed only coincidently.
There are generally high frequencies of improvements of tinnitus after cochlea implantations; however the risk of deterioration is present with this method.
Ad 7: Other and alternative therapy procedures
The hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be considered successful after acute events with tinnitus. The therapy should be started in the first month after appearance of the tinnitus.
The methods transcranial-, electromagnetic and transcutaneous nerve stimulations did not show any significant effects on tinnitus. Also low laser medical treatment showed disappointing effects.
The “pneumatic external contra-pulsation” is described as an unproblematic usable procedure by the authors of the examination, but 10% of the patients had to stop the medical treatment because of complications associated with the medical treatment.
Acupuncture showed significant improvements in comparison to medical treatment. The effectiveness of this therapy could not be reproduced in another study. Five other studies between 1993 and 1999 also did not show any therapeutic effect of this method. Gingko-Biloba preparations did not show any positive effects in large-scale studies on tinnitus.
Neither the diagnostic procedures nor the therapeutic methods or the individual therapies reach a usual scientific level in medicine. Unsolved problems concerning insurance, economic as well as legal problems have resulted for the patients and for caring stuff from this unsatisfactory situation.
Numerous competitive tinnitus emergence models led to an incredible creativity in trying out different therapy approaches. No convergence of the therapy procedures can be seen within the last decades of tinnitus research, contrariwise there is always more and more “creativity” of new approaches.
Priority has to be given to find the cause of tinnitus since therapies are a consequence of a better understanding of these symptoms that evidence oriented investigations on an usual scientific level can be started.
The innumerable therapeutic approaches, seeming completely incoherent to their effects should be coordinated on the meaningfulness, on the success parameters and with patient safety in light of the most plausible explanation models for non-specific chronic Tinnitus. To this the facilities of competence centres or related science- directing facilities are recommendable.
Examinations which are carried out also with small numbers show often methodical insufficiencies. It is necessary that minimal requirements on a scientifically clinical experiment, such as design, case number calculation, analytic statistics, control group, are fulfilled.
It is recommendable, that further research has to be promoted regarding tinnitus causes that a coordinated evidence-orientated treatment will be developed.
PMCID: PMC3011356  PMID: 21289968
4.  Multifactorial intervention for children with asthma and overweight (Mikado): study design of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:494.
In children, the prevalence’s of both obesity and asthma are disconcertingly high. Asthmatic children with obesity are characterised by less asthma control and a high need for asthma medication. As the obese asthmatic child is becoming more common in the clinical setting and the disease burden of the asthma-obesity phenotype is high, there is an increasing need for effective treatment in these children. In adults, weight reduction resulted in improved lung function, better asthma control and less need for asthma medication. In children this is hardly studied. The Mikado study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a long term multifactorial weight reduction intervention, on asthma characteristics in children with asthma and a high body weight.
The Mikado study is a two-armed, randomised controlled trial. In total, 104 participants will be recruited via online questionnaires, pulmonary paediatricians, the youth department of the Municipal Health Services and cohorts of existing studies. All participants will be aged 6–16 years, will have current asthma, a Body Mass Index in the overweight or obesity range, and no serious comorbidities (such as diabetes, heart diseases). Participants in the intervention arm will receive a multifactorial intervention of 18 months consisting of sessions concerning sports, parental involvement, individual counselling and lifestyle advices including dietary advices and cognitive behavioural therapy. The control group will receive usual care. The primary outcome variables will include Forced Expiratory Volume in one second and Body Mass Index - Standard Deviation Score. Secondary outcomes will include other lung function parameters (including dynamic and static lung function parameters), asthma control, asthma-specific quality of life, use of asthma medication and markers of systemic inflammation and airway inflammation.
In this randomised controlled trial we will study the potential of a multifactorial weight reduction intervention to improve asthma-related outcome measures in asthmatic children with overweight. Moreover, it will provide information about the underlying mechanisms in the relationship between asthma and a high body weight in children. These findings can contribute to optimal management programs and better clinical guidelines for children with asthma and overweight.
Trial registration NCT00998413
PMCID: PMC3682864  PMID: 23692648
Asthmatic; BMI; Child; Obesity; Paediatric; Weight loss
5.  Asthma prevalence, knowledge, and perceptions among secondary school pupils in rural and urban coastal districts in Tanzania 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:387.
Asthma is a common chronic disease of childhood that is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of asthma among secondary school pupils in urban and rural areas of coast districts of Tanzania. The study also aimed to describe pupils’ perception towards asthma, and to assess their knowledge on symptoms, triggers, and treatment of asthma.
A total of 610 pupils from Ilala district and 619 pupils from Bagamoyo district formed the urban and rural groups, respectively. Using a modified International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire, a history of “diagnosed” asthma or the presence of a wheeze in the previous 12 months was obtained from all the studied pupils, along with documentation of their perceptions regarding asthma. Pupils without asthma or wheeze in the prior 12 months were subsequently selected and underwent a free running exercise testing. A ≥ 20% decrease in the post-exercise Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) values was the criterion for diagnosing exercise-induced asthma.
The mean age of participants was 16.8 (±1.8) years. The prevalence of wheeze in the past 12 months was 12.1% in Bagamoyo district and 23.1% in Ilala district (p < 0.001). Self-reported asthma was found in 17.6% and 6.4% of pupils in Ilala and Bagamoyo districts, respectively (p < 0.001). The prevalence of exercise-induced asthma was 2.4% in Bagamoyo, and 26.3% in Ilala (P < 0.002). In both districts, most information on asthma came from parents, and there was variation in symptoms and triggers of asthma reported by the pupils. Non-asthmatic pupils feared sleeping, playing, and eating with their asthmatic peers.
The prevalence rates of self-reported asthma, wheezing in the past 12 months, and exercise-induced asthma were significantly higher among urban than rural pupils. Although bronchial asthma is a common disease, pupils’ perceptions about asthma were associated with fear of contact with their asthmatic peers in both rural and urban schools.
PMCID: PMC4023699  PMID: 24754895
Asthma; Rural; Urban; Pupils; Tanzania
6.  Psychological factors and asthma quality of life: a population based study 
Thorax  2004;59(11):930-935.
Background: Reports of psychological conditions in asthmatic subjects have been limited to certain population groups or convenience samples. A study was undertaken of the prevalence of psychological distress in asthma in the general population and its associations with quality of life.
Methods: The WANTS Health and Well-being Survey is a population household interview survey of adults (age ⩾18) in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and South Australia. Data obtained were weighted to the closest census data to provide population representative estimates. Positive answers to two questions: "Have you ever been told by a doctor that you have asthma?" and "Do you still have asthma?" determined current doctor-diagnosed asthma. Other items included the SF-12, the Kessler-10 index of psychological distress, questions on feelings of lack of control in different areas of life, and on mental health conditions.
Results: From the available sample of 10 080, 7619 interviews were completed (participation rate 74.8%), with 834 people reporting current doctor-diagnosed asthma (11.2%). Psychological distress was more frequent in those with asthma (17.9% v 12.2%, p<0.01) and a higher proportion with asthma were at higher risk for anxiety or depression (40.5% v 31.2%, p<0.01). Mental health conditions were also more common (16.2% v 10.8%, p<0.01), as was the frequency of those who sometimes or always felt a lack of control over their health (33.5% v 24.3%, p<0.01). People with both asthma and psychological distress had significantly lower scores on the SF-12 physical component summary (PCS) than those with either asthma or distress alone. Among those with psychological distress, mental component summary (MCS) scores did not differ between asthmatic and non-asthmatic respondents. In a multiple regression model the frequency of a feeling of lack of control over health—together with age, family's financial situation, education level, and number of days partially unable to work or perform usual duties—was significantly associated with scores on the PCS (r = 0.73, adjusted r2 = 0.54).
Conclusion: These results, from a representative population sample, show that psychological distress and decreased feelings of control are common in asthma and are significantly associated with physical health status.
PMCID: PMC1746862  PMID: 15516466
7.  Quality of asthma management in an urban community in Delhi, India 
Background & objectives:
High prevalence and poor control of asthma make its management a major public health issue worldwide, especially in developing countries. Optimum review of asthma management in the community is essential to improve asthma control. This study was conducted to investigate the quality of asthma management, knowledge about asthma and quality of life of asthma patients referred to a public tertiary care chest hospital in Delhi.
Diagnosis of asthma was confirmed by symptoms and reversible spirometry in 50 referred patients on their first visit. Patients were interviewed using three questionnaires on quality of asthma management before visiting referral hospital, asthma knowledge and asthma quality of life (AQLQ). Correlation amongst quality of treatment, asthma quality of life, and asthma knowledge was also determined.
Findings revealed that only 60 per cent of patients were informed about their disease, and 10 per cent had undergone lung function tests previously. Only 44 per cent of patients were prescribed inhalers. None were provided with any educational material. Patients had poor knowledge of aetiology, pathophysiology, medication and how to assess the severity of their asthma. The mean scores in AQLQ indicated a moderate degree of impairment in quality of life.
Interpretations & conclusions:
This study provides evidence of unsatisfactory asthma management and patient-doctor interaction as patients had limited knowledge of asthma disease, its management and had poor quality of life as measured by a standardized questionnaire. Thus, there is need to implement suitable interventions to improve asthma management according to standard treatment guidelines in the community.
PMCID: PMC3336849  PMID: 22446860
Asthma; asthma knowledge; asthma management; India; quality of life
8.  Preterm Birth and Childhood Wheezing Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001596.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Jasper Been and colleagues investigate the association between preterm birth and the development of wheezing disorders in childhood.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Accumulating evidence implicates early life factors in the aetiology of non-communicable diseases, including asthma/wheezing disorders. We undertook a systematic review investigating risks of asthma/wheezing disorders in children born preterm, including the increasing numbers who, as a result of advances in neonatal care, now survive very preterm birth.
Methods and Findings
Two reviewers independently searched seven online databases for contemporaneous (1 January 1995–23 September 2013) epidemiological studies investigating the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders. Additional studies were identified through reference and citation searches, and contacting international experts. Quality appraisal was undertaken using the Effective Public Health Practice Project instrument. We pooled unadjusted and adjusted effect estimates using random-effects meta-analysis, investigated “dose–response” associations, and undertook subgroup, sensitivity, and meta-regression analyses to assess the robustness of associations.
We identified 42 eligible studies from six continents. Twelve were excluded for population overlap, leaving 30 unique studies involving 1,543,639 children. Preterm birth was associated with an increased risk of wheezing disorders in unadjusted (13.7% versus 8.3%; odds ratio [OR] 1.71, 95% CI 1.57–1.87; 26 studies including 1,500,916 children) and adjusted analyses (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.29–1.65; 17 studies including 874,710 children). The risk was particularly high among children born very preterm (<32 wk gestation; unadjusted: OR 3.00, 95% CI 2.61–3.44; adjusted: OR 2.81, 95% CI 2.55–3.12). Findings were most pronounced for studies with low risk of bias and were consistent across sensitivity analyses. The estimated population-attributable risk of preterm birth for childhood wheezing disorders was ≥3.1%.
Key limitations related to the paucity of data from low- and middle-income countries, and risk of residual confounding.
There is compelling evidence that preterm birth—particularly very preterm birth—increases the risk of asthma. Given the projected global increases in children surviving preterm births, research now needs to focus on understanding underlying mechanisms, and then to translate these insights into the development of preventive interventions.
Review Registration
PROSPERO CRD42013004965
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Most pregnancies last around 40 weeks, but worldwide, more than 11% of babies are born before 37 weeks of gestation (the period during which a baby develops in its mother's womb). Preterm birth is a major cause of infant death—more than 1 million babies die annually from preterm birth complications—and the number of preterm births is increasing globally. Multiple pregnancies, infections, and chronic (long-term) maternal conditions such as diabetes can all cause premature birth, but the cause of many preterm births is unknown. The most obvious immediate complication that is associated with preterm birth is respiratory distress syndrome. This breathing problem, which is more common in early preterm babies than in near-term babies, occurs because the lungs of premature babies are structurally immature and lack pulmonary surfactant, a unique mixture of lipids and proteins that coats the inner lining of the lungs and helps to prevent the collapse of the small air sacs in the lungs that absorb oxygen from the air. Consequently, preterm babies often need help with their breathing and oxygen supplementation.
Why Was This Study Done?
Improvements in the management of prematurity mean that more preterm babies survive today than in the past. However, accumulating evidence suggests that early life events are involved in the subsequent development of non-communicable diseases (non-infectious chronic diseases). Given the increasing burden of preterm birth, a better understanding of the long-term effects of preterm birth is essential. Here, the researchers investigate the risks of asthma and wheezing disorders in children who are born preterm by undertaking a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and a meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of several studies). Asthma is a chronic condition that is caused by inflammation of the airways. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur and to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Exercise, cold air, and infections can also trigger asthma attacks, which can sometimes be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound during breathing), coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 30 studies undertaken between 1995 and the present (a time span chosen to allow for recent changes in the management of prematurity) that investigated the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders in more than 1.5 million children. Across the studies, 13.7% of preterm babies developed asthma/wheezing disorders during childhood, compared to only 8.3% of babies born at term. Thus, the risk of preterm babies developing asthma or a wheezing disorder during childhood was 1.71 times higher than the risk of term babies developing these conditions (an unadjusted odds ratio [OR] of 1.71). In analyses that allowed for confounding factors—other factors that affect the risk of developing asthma/wheezing disorders such as maternal smoking—the risk of preterm babies developing asthma or a wheezing disorder during childhood was 1.46 times higher than that of babies born at term (an adjusted OR of 1.46). Notably, compared to children born at term, children born very early (before 32 weeks of gestation) had about three times the risk of developing asthma/wheezing disorders in unadjusted and adjusted analyses. Finally, the population-attributable risk of preterm birth for childhood wheezing disorders was more than 3.1%. That is, if no preterm births had occurred, there would have been more than a 3.1% reduction in childhood wheezing disorders.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings strongly suggest that preterm birth increases the risk of asthma and wheezing disorders during childhood and that the risk of asthma/wheezing disorders increases as the degree of prematurity increases. The accuracy of these findings may be affected, however, by residual confounding. That is, preterm children may share other, unknown characteristics that increase their risk of developing asthma/wheezing disorders. Moreover, the generalizability of these findings is limited by the lack of data from low- and middle-income countries. However, given the projected global increases in children surviving preterm births, these findings highlight the need to undertake research into the mechanisms underlying the association between preterm birth and asthma/wheezing disorders and the need to develop appropriate preventative and therapeutic measures.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on preterm birth (in English and Spanish)
Nemours, another nonprofit organization for child health, also provides information (in English and Spanish) on premature babies and on asthma (including personal stories)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about premature labor and birth and a real story about having a preterm baby; it provides information about asthma in children (including real stories)
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on preterm birth, asthma, asthma in children, and wheezing (in English and Spanish); MedlinePlus provides links to further information on premature birth, asthma, and asthma in children (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC3904844  PMID: 24492409
9.  Recurrent abdominal pain in children and adolescents – a survey among paediatricians 
Objective: Little is known about prevalence and usual treatment of childhood and adolescent recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) in outpatient paediatricians’ practice. This study’s primary objective was to acquire insights into the usual paediatricians’ treatment and their estimation of prevalence, age and gender of RAP patients. Further objectives were to assess to which extent family members of patients report similar symptoms, how paediatricians rate the strain of parents of affected children and adolescents and how paediatricians estimate the demand for psychological support.
Methods: Provided by a medical register, 437 outpatient paediatricians received a questionnaire to assess their perception of several psychosomatic problems and disorders including recurrent abdominal pain.
Results: According to paediatricians’ estimation, 15% of all visits are caused by patients with RAP. In 22% of these cases of RAP, at least one family member has similar problems. In about 15% of all RAP cases, parents ask for professional psychological support concerning their children’s issues, whereas 40% of paediatricians wish for psychological support considering this group of patients.
Conclusions: Estimated frequencies and paediatricians’ demands show the need for evidence-based psychological interventions in RAP to support usual medical treatment.
PMCID: PMC3070435  PMID: 21468324
recurrent abdominal pain; RAP; functional abdominal pain; paediatricians; standard medical care; outpatient practice
10.  Association of Adenotonsillectomy with Asthma Outcomes in Children: A Longitudinal Database Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001753.
Rakesh Bhattacharjee and colleagues use data from a US private health insurance database to compare asthma severity measures in children one year before and one year after they underwent adenotonsillectomy with asthma measures in those who did not undergo adenotonsillectomy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), both disorders of airway inflammation, were associated in recent observational studies. Although childhood OSA is effectively treated by adenotonsillectomy (AT), it remains unclear whether AT also improves childhood asthma. We hypothesized that AT, the first line of therapy for childhood OSA, would be associated with improved asthma outcomes and would reduce the usage of asthma therapies in children.
Methods and Findings
Using the 2003–2010 MarketScan database, we identified 13,506 children with asthma in the United States who underwent AT. Asthma outcomes during 1 y preceding AT were compared to those during 1 y following AT. In addition, 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma without AT were included to examine asthma outcomes among children without known adenotonsillar tissue morbidity. Primary outcomes included the occurrence of a diagnostic code for acute asthma exacerbation (AAE) or acute status asthmaticus (ASA). Secondary outcomes included temporal changes in asthma medication prescriptions, the frequency of asthma-related emergency room visits (ARERs), and asthma-related hospitalizations (ARHs). Comparing the year following AT to the year prior, AT was associated with significant reductions in AAE (30.2%; 95% CI: 25.6%–34.3%; p<0.0001), ASA (37.9%; 95% CI: 29.2%–45.6%; p<0.0001), ARERs (25.6%; 95% CI: 16.9%–33.3%; p<0.0001), and ARHs (35.8%; 95% CI: 19.6%–48.7%; p = 0.02). Moreover, AT was associated with significant reductions in most asthma prescription refills, including bronchodilators (16.7%; 95% CI: 16.1%–17.3%; p<0.001), inhaled corticosteroids (21.5%; 95% CI: 20.7%–22.3%; p<0.001), leukotriene receptor antagonists (13.4%; 95% CI: 12.9%–14.0%; p<0.001), and systemic corticosteroids (23.7%; 95% CI: 20.9%–26.5%; p<0.001). In contrast, there were no significant reductions in these outcomes in children with asthma who did not undergo AT over an overlapping follow-up period. Limitations of the MarketScan database include lack of information on race and obesity status. Also, the MarketScan database does not include information on children with public health insurance (i.e., Medicaid) or uninsured children.
In a very large sample of privately insured children, AT was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. Contingent on validation through prospectively designed clinical trials, this study supports the premise that detection and treatment of adenotonsillar tissue morbidity may serve as an important strategy for improving asthma control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The global burden of asthma has been rising steadily over the past few decades. Nowadays, about 200–300 million adults and children worldwide are affected by asthma, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). Although asthma can develop at any age, it is often diagnosed in childhood—asthma is one of the commonest chronic diseases in children. In the US, for example, asthma affects around 7.1 million children under the age of 18 years and is the third leading cause of hospitalization of children under the age of 15 years. In people with asthma, the airways can react very strongly to allergens such as animal fur or to irritants such as cigarette smoke. Exercise, cold air, and infections can trigger asthma attacks, which can be fatal. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma cannot be cured, but drugs can relieve its symptoms and prevent acute asthma attacks.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recent studies have found an association between severe childhood asthma and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In OSA, airway inflammation promotes hypertrophy (excess growth) of the adenoids and the tonsils, immune system tissues in the upper airway. During sleep, the presence of hypertrophic adenotonsillar tissues predisposes the walls of the throat to collapse, which results in apnea—a brief interruption in breathing. People with OSA often snore loudly and frequently wake from deep sleep as they struggle to breathe. Childhood OSA, which affects 2%–3% of children, can be effectively treated by removal of the adenoids and tonsils (adenotonsillectomy). Given the association between childhood OSA and severe asthma and given the involvement of airway inflammation in both conditions, might adenotonsillectomy also improve childhood asthma? Here, the researchers analyze data from the MarketScan database, a large database of US patients with private health insurance, to investigate whether adenotonsillectomy is associated with improvements in asthma outcomes and with reductions in the use of asthma therapies in children.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the database to identify 13,506 children with asthma who had undergone adenotonsillectomy and to obtain information about asthma outcomes among these children for the year before and the year after the operation. Because asthma severity tends to decrease with age, the researchers also used the database to identify 27,012 age-, sex-, and geographically matched children with asthma who did not have the operation so that they could examine asthma outcomes over an equivalent two-year period in the absence of complications related to adenotonsillar hypertrophy. Comparing the year after adenotonsillectomy with the year before the operation, adenotonsillectomy was associated with a 30% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations, a 37.9% reduction in acute status asthmaticus (an asthma attack that is unresponsive to the drugs usually used to treat attacks), a 25.6% reduction in asthma-related emergency room visits, and a 35.8% reduction in asthma-related hospitalizations. By contrast, among the control children, there was only a 2% reduction in acute asthma exacerbations and only a 7% reduction in acute status asthmaticus over an equivalent two-year period. Adenotonsillectomy was also associated with significant reductions (changes unlikely to have occurred by chance) in prescription refills for most types of drugs used to treat asthma, whereas there were no significant reductions in prescription refills among children with asthma who had not undergone adenotonsillectomy. The study was limited by the lack of measures of race and obesity, which are both associated with severity of asthma.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in a large sample of privately insured children in the US, adenotonsillectomy was associated with significant improvements in several asthma outcomes. These results do not show, however, that adenotonsillectomy caused a reduction in the severity of childhood asthma. It could be that the children who underwent adenotonsillectomy (but not those who did not have the operation) shared another unknown factor that led to improvements in their asthma over time. To prove a causal link, it will be necessary to undertake a randomized controlled trial in which the outcomes of groups of children with asthma who are chosen at random to undergo or not undergo adenotonsillectomy are compared. However, with the proviso that there are some risks associated with adenotonsillectomy, these findings suggest that the detection and treatment of adenotonsillar hypertrophy may help to improve asthma control in children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on asthma, including videos, games, and links to other resources for children with asthma
The American Lung Association provides detailed information about asthma and a fact sheet on asthma in children; it also has information about obstructive sleep apnea
The National Sleep Foundation provides information on snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in children
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) about asthma, about asthma in children, and about obstructive sleep apnea
The “Global Asthma Report 2014” will be available in October 2014
MedlinePlus provides links to further information on asthma, on asthma in children, on sleep apnea, and on tonsils and adenoids (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4219664  PMID: 25369282
11.  Use of inhaled medications and urgent care services. Study of Canadian asthma patients. 
Canadian Family Physician  1999;45:1707-1713.
OBJECTIVE: To determine asthma patients' patterns of disease and knowledge of asthma. DESIGN: Telephone survey of patients with diagnosed asthma. SETTING: Residences in 10 Canadian provinces. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with asthma diagnosed by a doctor: 829 men and women with a mean age of 38 +/- 7 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Classes of asthma medications, patterns of use, frequency and severity of asthma symptoms use of emergency departments and urgent medical services, participation in asthma education programs, presence of environmental triggers, and knowledge of asthma pathophysiology and treatment. RESULTS: Four hundred fifty-six patients (55%) reported daily symptoms of asthma; 431 patients (52%) used inhaled beta 2-agonists daily. Only 340 patients (41%) used inhaled corticosteroids (IC), and many used them irregularly. A total of 579 (72%) respondents reported no unscheduled visits to a family physician for worsening asthma, but one third of patients had been to an emergency department for uncontrolled asthma in the last 5 years, and most of these visits had occurred during the last year. As to knowledge, 406 patients (49%) disagreed with the statement that asthma is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured. Among IC users, only 101 (30%) knew that IC reduced airway inflammation; among beta 2-agonist users, only 33% agreed that beta 2-agonists opened the bronchial tubes. Two hundred forty patients (29%) reported being current cigarette smokers, and 381 (46%) reported having pets at home. CONCLUSIONS: Daily symptoms and daily use of beta 2-agonists are common among Canadian asthma patients, and this is in excess of what is considered acceptable by current asthma care guidelines. Underuse of IC, inadequate knowledge of asthma symptoms and treatments, and failure to avoid asthma triggers were common in the population studied.
PMCID: PMC2328364  PMID: 10424270
12.  Can asthma control be improved by understanding the patient's perspective? 
Clinical trials show that asthma can be controlled in the majority of patients, but poorly controlled asthma still imposes a considerable burden. The level of asthma control achieved reflects the behaviour of both healthcare professionals and patients. A key challenge for healthcare professionals is to help patients to engage in self-management behaviours with optimal adherence to appropriate treatment. These issues are particularly relevant in primary care, where most asthma is managed. An international panel of experts invited by the International Primary Care Respiratory Group considered the evidence and discussed the implications for primary care practice.
Causes of poor control
Clinical factors such as exposure to triggers and concomitant rhinitis are important but so are patient behavioural factors. Behaviours such as smoking and nonadherence may reduce the efficacy of treatment and patients' perceptions influence these behaviours. Perceptual barriers to adherence include doubting the need for treatment when symptoms are absent and concerns about potential adverse effects. Under-treatment may also be related to patients' underestimation of the significance of symptoms, and lack of awareness of achievable control.
Three key implications for healthcare professionals emerged from the debate. First, the need for simple tools to assess asthma control. Two approaches considered were the monitoring of biometric markers of control and questionnaires to record patient-reported outcomes. Second, to understand the reasons for poor control for individual patients, identifying both clinical (e.g. rhinitis) and behavioural factors (e.g. smoking and nonadherence to treatment). Third was the need to incorporate, within asthma review, an assessment of patient perspectives including their goals and aspirations and to elicit their beliefs and concerns about asthma and its treatment. This can be used as a basis for agreement between the healthcare professional and patient on a predefined target regarding asthma control and a treatment plan to achieve this.
Optimum review of asthma is essential to improve control. A key priority is the development of simple and effective tools for identifying poor control for individual patients coupled with a tailored approach to treatment to enable patients to set and achieve realistic goals for asthma control.
PMCID: PMC1894634  PMID: 17518999
13.  The Role of the Primary Care Physician in Helping Adolescent and Adult Patients Improve Asthma Control 
Mayo Clinic Proceedings  2011;86(9):894-902.
Many adolescents and adults with asthma continue to have poorly controlled disease, often attributable to poor adherence to asthma therapy. Failure to adhere to recommended treatment may result from a desire to avoid regular reliance on medications, inappropriate high tolerance of asthma symptoms, failure to perceive the chronic nature of asthma, and poor inhaler technique. Primary care physicians need to find opportunities and methods to address these and other issues related to poor asthma control. Few adolescents or adults with asthma currently have asthma “checkup” visits, usually seeking medical care only with an exacerbation. Therefore, nonrespiratory-related office visits represent an important opportunity to assess baseline asthma control and the factors that most commonly lead to poor control. Tools such as the Asthma Control Test, the Asthma Therapy Assessment Questionnaire, the Asthma Control Questionnaire, and the Asthma APGAR provide standardized, patient-friendly ways to capture necessary asthma information. For uncontrolled asthma, physicians can refer to the stepwise approach in the 2007 National Asthma Education and Prevention Program guidelines to adjust medication use, but they must consider step-up decisions in the context of quality of the patient's inhaler technique, adherence, and ability to recognize and avoid or eliminate triggers. For this review, a literature search of PubMed from 2000 through August 31, 2010, was performed using the following terms (or a combination of these terms): asthma, asthma control, primary care, NAEPP guidelines, assessment, uncontrolled asthma, burden, impact, assessment tools, triggers, pharmacotherapy, safety. Studies were limited to human studies published in English. Articles were also identified by a manual search of bibliographies from retrieved articles and from article archives of the author.
PMCID: PMC3257999  PMID: 21878602
14.  Facilitating the Recruitment of Minority Ethnic People into Research: Qualitative Case Study of South Asians and Asthma 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000148.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report on a qualitative study in the US and the UK to investigate ways to bolster recruitment of South Asians into asthma studies, including making inclusion of diverse populations mandatory.
There is international interest in enhancing recruitment of minority ethnic people into research, particularly in disease areas with substantial ethnic inequalities. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that UK South Asians are at three times increased risk of hospitalisation for asthma when compared to white Europeans. US asthma trials are far more likely to report enrolling minority ethnic people into studies than those conducted in Europe. We investigated approaches to bolster recruitment of South Asians into UK asthma studies through qualitative research with US and UK researchers, and UK community leaders.
Methods and Findings
Interviews were conducted with 36 researchers (19 UK and 17 US) from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and ten community leaders from a range of ethnic, religious, and linguistic backgrounds, followed by self-completion questionnaires. Interviews were digitally recorded, translated where necessary, and transcribed. The Framework approach was used for analysis. Barriers to ethnic minority participation revolved around five key themes: (i) researchers' own attitudes, which ranged from empathy to antipathy to (in a minority of cases) misgivings about the scientific importance of the question under study; (ii) stereotypes and prejudices about the difficulties in engaging with minority ethnic populations; (iii) the logistical challenges posed by language, cultural differences, and research costs set against the need to demonstrate value for money; (iv) the unique contexts of the two countries; and (v) poorly developed understanding amongst some minority ethnic leaders of what research entails and aims to achieve. US researchers were considerably more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities, which appeared to a large extent to reflect the longer-term impact of the National Institutes of Health's requirement to include minority ethnic people.
Most researchers and community leaders view the broadening of participation in research as important and are reasonably optimistic about the feasibility of recruiting South Asians into asthma studies provided that the barriers can be overcome. Suggested strategies for improving recruitment in the UK included a considerably improved support structure to provide academics with essential contextual information (e.g., languages of particular importance and contact with local gatekeepers), and the need to ensure that care is taken to engage with the minority ethnic communities in ways that are both culturally appropriate and sustainable; ensuring reciprocal benefits was seen as one key way of avoiding gatekeeper fatigue. Although voluntary measures to encourage researchers may have some impact, greater impact might be achieved if UK funding bodies followed the lead of the US National Institutes of Health requiring recruitment of ethnic minorities. Such a move is, however, likely in the short- to medium-term, to prove unpopular with many UK academics because of the added “hassle” factor in engaging with more diverse populations than many have hitherto been accustomed to.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In an ideal world, everyone would have the same access to health care and the same health outcomes (responses to health interventions). However, health inequalities—gaps in health care and in health between different parts of the population—exist in many countries. In particular, people belonging to ethnic minorities in the UK, the US, and elsewhere have poorer health outcomes for several conditions than people belonging to the ethnic majority (ethnicity is defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin). For example, in the UK, people whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent (also known as South Asians and comprising in the main of people of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi origin) are three times as likely to be admitted to hospital for asthma as white Europeans. The reasons underpinning ethnic health inequalities are complex. Some inequalities may reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—some ethnic minorities may inherit genes that alter their susceptibility to a specific disease. Other ethnic health inequalities may arise because of differences in socioeconomic status or because different cultural traditions affect the uptake of health care services.
Why Was This Study Done?
Minority ethnic groups are often under-represented in health research, which could limit the generalizability of research findings. That is, an asthma treatment that works well in a trial where all the participants are white Europeans might not be suitable for South Asians. Clinicians might nevertheless use the treatment in all their patients irrespective of their ethnicity and thus inadvertently increase ethnic health inequality. So, how can ethnic minorities be encouraged to enroll into research studies? In this qualitative study, the investigators try to answer this question by talking to US and UK asthma researchers and UK community leaders about how they feel about enrolling ethnic minorities into research studies. The investigators chose to compare the feelings of US and UK asthma researchers because minority ethnic people are more likely to enroll into US asthma studies than into UK studies, possibly because the US National Institute of Health's (NIH) Revitalization Act 1993 mandates that all NIH-funded clinical research must include people from ethnic minority groups; there is no similar mandatory policy in the UK.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The investigators interviewed 16 UK and 17 US asthma researchers and three UK social researchers with experience of working with ethnic minorities. They also interviewed ten community leaders from diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds. They then analyzed the interviews using the “Framework” approach, an analytical method in which qualitative data are classified and organized according to key themes and then interpreted. By comparing the data from the UK and US researchers, the investigators identified several barriers to ethnic minority participation in health research including: the attitudes of researchers towards the scientific importance of recruiting ethnic minority people into health research studies; prejudices about the difficulties of including ethnic minorities in health research; and the logistical challenges posed by language and cultural differences. In general, the US researchers were more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities in health research. Finally, the investigators found that some community leaders had a poor understanding of what research entails and about its aims.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal a large gap between US and UK researchers in terms of policy, attitudes, practices, and experiences in relation to including ethnic minorities in asthma research. However, they also suggest that most UK researchers and community leaders believe that it is both important and feasible to increase the participation of South Asians in asthma studies. Although some of these findings may have been affected by the study participants sometimes feeling obliged to give “politically correct” answers, these findings are likely to be generalizable to other diseases and to other parts of Europe. Given their findings, the researchers warn that a voluntary code of practice that encourages the recruitment of ethnic minority people into health research studies is unlikely to be successful. Instead, they suggest, the best way to increase the representation of ethnic minority people in health research in the UK might be to follow the US lead and introduce a policy that requires their inclusion in such research.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Families USA, a US nonprofit organization that campaigns for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, has information about many aspects of minority health in the US, including an interactive game about minority health issues
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a section on minority health
The UK Department of Health provides information on health inequalities and a recent report on the experiences of patients in Black and minority ethnic groups
The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology also has a short article on ethnicity and health
Information on the NIH Revitalization Act 1993 is available
NHS Evidences Ethnicity and Health has a variety of policy, clinical, and research resources on ethnicity and health
PMCID: PMC2752116  PMID: 19823568
15.  AIMAR survey on complex forms of bronchial asthma and COPD, their management and perception of critical issues 
The management of patients with complex forms of bronchial asthma and COPD is not usually addressed in the major international guidelines and management documents which exclusively address pure forms. AIMAR thus undertook a survey to obtain information about: a) the perceived frequency of complex forms of asthma/COPD in adult patients and in the elderly; b) patient management regarding the complex forms (focus on therapeutic goals and consequent treatment); c) the management problems perceived in diagnosis, management, monitoring, indices of appropriateness in pharmacological treatment and adherence to treatment.
The survey consisted of 18 multiple choice questions, completed by means of a web-based electronic form published in internet. All the data and responses inserted in the system were checked on-line for coherence and completeness directly during the phase of insertion and each participant had one only possibility of participating. The data thus collected were memorized directly within a relational database, based on consolidated open-source MySQL technology, and thus were immediately available for examination also during the course of the survey. Access to the data, mediated by a “back office” system of interrogation and report, enabled constant monitoring of the survey as it was being carried out, as well as extractions and verification, even on smaller data sets.
The survey was carried out in the full month of December 2013 and first half of January 2014. A total of 252 questionnaires were collected from the following physician groups: pneumologists (n = 180), general practitioners (GPs) (n = 32), allergologists (n = 8), internal medicine specialists (n = 20), other specialists (n = 12).
Complex forms of bronchial asthma and COPD are frequently observed and considered present in variable percentages ranging from about 10% to about 50% of patients visited and considered typical of patients with a previous history of asthma. Risk factors such as smoking, obesity, bronchial hyperreactivity and genetic predisposition are considered important. Diagnosis is difficult solely on the basis of symptoms in approximately 50% of cases, and a previous history of asthma, history of spirometry and presence of allergy are of help. Treating inflammation and reducing exacerbations are considered the key therapeutic goals and the combination of inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) and long acting β2-agonist (LABA) and monotherapy with ICS are considered the fundamental pharmacological mode for treating patients with mixed forms of bronchial asthma and COPD. Treating with only a bronchodilator is considered to be moderately risky for this type of patient. The identification and management of mixed forms result more impeded by “logistic” aspects, e.g. long waiting lists and integration with the GP, than by aspects intrinsic to the disease management itself, e.g. selecting the assessment or interpreting the outcome of the instrumental examinations. Treatment continuity and the integration between GP and specialist are the factors that most limit the management of mixed forms in the stable phase.
PMCID: PMC4232615  PMID: 25400910
Bronchial asthma; COPD; Complex forms; Online survey
16.  Collaboration between family physicians and psychologists 
Canadian Family Physician  2008;54(2):232-233.
To explore factors affecting collaboration between family physicians and psychologists.
Mailed French-language survey.
Eastern Ontario.
Family physicians practising in the area of the Réseau des services de santé en français de l’Est de l’Ontario.
Physicians’ knowledge and understanding of the qualifications of psychologists and the regulations governing their profession; beliefs regarding the effectiveness of psychological treatments; views on the integration of psychologists into primary care; and factors affecting referrals to psychologists.
Of 457 surveys sent, 118 were returned and analyzed (27% of surveys delivered). Most family physicians were well aware that there were evidence-based psychological interventions for mental health and personal difficulties, and some knew that psychological interventions could help with physical conditions. Physicians had some knowledge about the qualifications and training of psychologists. Many physicians reported being uncomfortable providing counseling themselves owing to time constraints, the perception that they were inadequately trained for such work, and personal preferences. The largest barrier to referring patients to psychologists was cost, since services were not covered by public health insurance. Some physicians were deterred from referring by previous experience of not receiving feedback on patients from psychologists. Increased access to clinical psychologists through collaborative care was considered a desirable goal for primary health care.
Family physicians know that there are evidence-based psychological interventions for mental health issues. Psychologists need to communicate better about their credentials and what they can offer, and share their professional opinions and recommendations on referred patients. Physicians would welcome practice-based psychological services and integrated interdisciplinary collaboration as recommended by the Kirby and Romanow commissions, but such collaboration is hampered by the lack of public health insurance coverage.
PMCID: PMC2278316  PMID: 18272640
17.  Epidemiology of reported Yersinia enterocolitica infections in Germany, 2001-2008 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:337.
Yersiniosis is the third most common zoonotic bacterial disease in Germany and the European Union. Sequelae of Yersinia enterocolitica infections, such as reactive arthritis, have been reported. Consumption of pork and its products, especially eaten raw or undercooked, is an important risk factor of yersiniosis. Infection with Y. enterocolitica is notifiable through the national surveillance system for infectious diseases in Germany and several thousands of cases are being reported each year. We present recent data on the epidemiology of reported yersiniosis in Germany.
Surveillance data on yersiniosis, accessed through the national level database (SurvNet), were analyzed with regard to time trends, demographical and geographical distribution, serotypes, and hospitalization, for the time period 2001-2008.
A total of 47,627 cases of yersiniosis were reported. The mean annual incidence of yersiniosis was 7.2/100,000 population. A downward trend in the number of reportable cases has occurred since 2002. Almost all Y. enterocolitica infections were reported as single cases, i.e., with no apparent links to other cases. The number of reported infections showed substantially less seasonal variation than in other zoonotic enteric diseases. The incidence was highest in children under five years (58/100,000 population), in particular in one-year-old children (108/100,000 population). Almost 97% of infections were acquired domestically. High incidences occurred in the eastern German federal states Thuringia, Saxony, and Saxony-Anhalt. Differences in incidences across federal states were driven primarily by incidence differences in children under five years. Hospitalization was reported for 17% of cases, the proportion being highest among teenagers. Almost 90% of Y. enterocolitica strains were diagnosed as serotype O:3, which is the serotype most frequently isolated from pigs.
Yersiniosis is a zoonotic foodborne disease of relevance to public health in Germany because of its high incidence and risk for sequelae. The incidence of reported yersiniosis in Germany varies markedly from state to state, mainly due to incidence difference among young children. More research efforts should be directed towards the elucidation of risk factors of yersiniosis in this age group.
PMCID: PMC2905328  PMID: 20546575
18.  Knowledge about epilepsy among health professionals: a cross-sectional survey in São Paulo, Brazil 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000919.
To evaluate the epilepsy knowledge among health professionals in São Paulo, Brazil.
This is a cross-sectional study.
Professionals with academic degrees in physical education (n=134), nutrition (n=116), medicine (n=100), psychology (n=53), nursing (n=122) and physiotherapy (n=99) who lived in São Paulo City, Brazil.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Knowledge of health professionals about epilepsy.
Professionals with academic degrees in physical education (n=134), nutrition (n=116), medicine (n=100), psychology (n=53), nursing (n=122) and physiotherapy (n=99) who lived in São Paulo City, Brazil, were invited to participate in the study. The subjects (n=624) answered a questionnaire composed of 25 simple closed-ended questions from three areas: personal, educational and knowledge.
Out of all subjects, 88.5% (n=552) had a postgraduate education, while 11.5% (n=72) had only an undergraduate degree. The authors found that physical educators, nutritionists and physiotherapists received lower scores on their epilepsy knowledge than other health professionals.
Health professionals are considered better-educated group inside the society, especially with regards to healthcare issues. Thus, it is important they also have an accurate and correct knowledge about epilepsy. The findings of the present study indicate an imperative improvement in education about epilepsy, as well as an inclusion of formal programmes for epilepsy education especially for non-medical professionals. An improvement in epilepsy education might contribute to an improvement in epilepsy care and management.
Article summary
Article focus
Health professionals' knowledge, attitudes and towards regarding epilepsy.
Key messages
Campaigns promoting a greater knowledge about epilepsy to medical and non-medical professionals should be launched.
Many health professionals are not very familiar with general epilepsy information or the initial procedures to employ when attending a person that is having a seizure.
With specific instructions available to professionals, a more tolerant attitude towards epilepsy can be expected in the hope of achieving the objectives of the ‘Out of the Shadow’ world campaign. Furthermore, this content should be further disseminated by universities to their students.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This study provides valuable information on the knowledge and attitudes of health professions regarding epilepsy.
We interviewed a substantial number of health professionals (624), and although they were from only one country, we believe that similar problems, that is, a lack of knowledge about the disease in non-medical professionals, may be prevalent in other countries.
PMCID: PMC3332239  PMID: 22517981
19.  Associations between Intimate Partner Violence and Termination of Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001581.
Lucy Chappell and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta analysis to investigate a possible association between intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Intimate partner violence (IPV) and termination of pregnancy (TOP) are global health concerns, but their interaction is undetermined. The aim of this study was to determine whether there is an association between IPV and TOP.
Methods and Findings
A systematic review based on a search of Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, and Ovid Maternity and Infant Care from each database's inception to 21 September 2013 for peer-reviewed articles of any design and language found 74 studies regarding women who had undergone TOP and had experienced at least one domain (physical, sexual, or emotional) of IPV. Prevalence of IPV and association between IPV and TOP were meta-analysed. Sample sizes ranged from eight to 33,385 participants. Worldwide, rates of IPV in the preceding year in women undergoing TOP ranged from 2.5% to 30%. Lifetime prevalence by meta-analysis was shown to be 24.9% (95% CI 19.9% to 30.6%); heterogeneity was high (I2>90%), and variation was not explained by study design, quality, or size, or country gross national income per capita. IPV, including history of rape, sexual assault, contraceptive sabotage, and coerced decision-making, was associated with TOP, and with repeat TOPs. By meta-analysis, partner not knowing about the TOP was shown to be significantly associated with IPV (pooled odds ratio 2.97, 95% CI 2.39 to 3.69). Women in violent relationships were more likely to have concealed the TOP from their partner than those who were not. Demographic factors including age, ethnicity, education, marital status, income, employment, and drug and alcohol use showed no strong or consistent mediating effect. Few long-term outcomes were studied. Women welcomed the opportunity to disclose IPV and be offered help. Limitations include study heterogeneity, potential underreporting of both IPV and TOP in primary data sources, and inherent difficulties in validation.
IPV is associated with TOP. Novel public health approaches are required to prevent IPV. TOP services provide an opportune health-based setting to design and test interventions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Intimate partner violence (sometimes referred to as domestic violence) is one of the commonest forms of violence against women and is a global health problem. The World Health Organization defines intimate partner violence as any act of physical, psychological, or sexual aggression or any controlling behavior (for example, restriction of access to assistance) perpetrated by the woman's current or past intimate partner. Although men also experience it, intimate partner violence is overwhelmingly experienced by women, particularly when repeated or severe. Studies indicate that the prevalence (the percentage of a population affected by a condition) of intimate partner violence varies widely within and between countries: the prevalence of intimate partner violence among women ranges from 15% in Japan to 71% in Ethiopia, and the lifetime prevalence of rape (forced sex) within intimate relationships ranges from 5.9% to 42% across the world, for example. Overall, a third of women experience intimate partner violence at some time during their lifetimes. The health consequences of such violence include physical injury, depression, suicidal behavior, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Why Was This Study Done?
Intimate partner violence can also lead to gynecological disorders (conditions affecting the female reproductive organs), unwanted pregnancy, premature labour and birth, and sexually transmitted infections. Because violence may begin or intensify during pregnancy, some countries recommend routine questioning about intimate partner violence during antenatal care. However, women seeking termination of pregnancy (induced abortion) are not routinely asked about intimate partner violence. Every year, many women worldwide terminate a pregnancy. Nearly half of these terminations are unsafe, and complications arising from unsafe abortions are responsible for more than 10% of maternal deaths (deaths from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications). It is important to know whether intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy are associated in order to develop effective strategies to deal with both these global health concerns. Here, the researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the associations between intimate partner violence and termination or pregnancy. A systematic review identifies all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria; meta-analysis combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 74 studies that provided information about experiences of intimate partner violence among women who had had a termination of pregnancy. Data in these studies indicated that, worldwide, intimate partner violence rates among women undergoing termination ranged from 2.5% to 30% in the preceding year and from 14% to 40% over their lifetime. In the meta-analysis, the lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence was 24.9% among termination-seeking populations. The identified studies provided evidence that intimate partner violence was associated with termination and with repeat termination. In one study, for example, women presenting for a third termination were more than two and a half times more likely to have a history of physical or sexual violence than women presenting for their first termination. Moreover, according to the meta-analysis, women in violent relationships were three times as likely to conceal a termination from their partner as women in non-violent relationships. Finally, the studies indicated that women undergoing terminations of pregnancy welcomed the opportunity to disclose their experiences of intimate partner violence and to be offered help.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that intimate partner violence is associated with termination of pregnancy and that a woman's partner not knowing about the termination is a risk factor for intimate partner violence among women seeking termination. Overall, the researchers' findings support the concept that violence can lead to pregnancy and to subsequent termination of pregnancy, and that there may be a repetitive cycle of abuse and pregnancy. The accuracy of these findings is limited by heterogeneity (variability) among the included studies, by the likelihood of underreporting of both intimate partner violence and termination in the included studies, and by lack of validation of reports of violence through, for example, police reports. Nevertheless, health-care professionals should consider the possibility that women seeking termination of pregnancy may be experiencing intimate partner violence. In trying to prevent repeat terminations, health-care professionals should be aware that while focusing on preventing conception may reduce the chances of a woman becoming pregnant, she may still be vulnerable to abuse. Finally, given the clear associations between intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy, the researchers suggest that termination services represent an appropriate setting in which to test interventions designed to reduce intimate partner violence.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health organization provides detailed information about intimate partner violence and about termination of pregnancy (some information available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about intimate partner violence and about termination of pregnancy (in English and Spanish)
The World Bank has a webpage that discusses the role of the health sector in preventing gender-based violence and a webpage with links to other resources about gender-based violence
The Gender and Health Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council provides links to further resources about intimate partner violence (research briefs/policy briefs/fact sheets/research reports)
DIVERHSE (Domestic & Interpersonal Violence: Effecting Responses in the Health Sector in Europe) is a European forum for health professionals, nongovernmental organizations, policy-makers, and academics to share their expertise and good practice in developing and evaluating interventions to address violence against women and children in a variety of health-care settings
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's Gender Violence and Health Centre also has a number of research resources
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides personal stories of intimate partner violence during pregnancy
The March of Dimes provides information on identifying intimate partner violence during pregnancy and making a safety plan
PMCID: PMC3883805  PMID: 24409101
20.  Psychological factors in the irritable bowel syndrome. 
Gut  1987;28(10):1307-1318.
This paper reviews recent psychological studies of patients with the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or 'functional abdominal pain'. Many studies have used unreliable or invalid methods of assessment and some have confused personality with treatable psychiatric illness. Reliable and valid measures have indicated that 40-50% of patients with recently diagnosed functional abdominal pain have demonstrable psychiatric illness; these patients have a worse prognosis than those who are psychologically normal. When psychiatric disorder is diagnosed in a patient with IBS there are three possibilities: (1) The patient may have developed abdominal and psychiatric symptoms simultaneously in which case treatment of the latter may relieve the bowel symptoms. (2) Psychiatric disorder may precipitate increased concern about bowel symptoms, and consequent attendance at the gastroenterology clinic, of those with chronic mild symptoms. In this case it is illness behaviour, rather than abdominal symptoms, that is caused by the anxiety/depression. (3) Those with chronic neurotic symptoms as part of their personality must be screened for organic disease if they have a fresh onset of bowel symptoms; but they are at high risk of becoming persistent clinic attenders. Further research is needed to clarify when psychological abnormalities play a role in the aetiology of IBS and when they are coincidental, but lead to illness behaviour. The role of psychological factors in the aetiology of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is far from clear, but a review of the literature suggests that some consistent patterns are emerging in spite of methodological problems. There have been three major defects with studies that have linked IBS with neurotic symptomatology. First, the measurement of psychological factors has generally been imprecise. Second, most studies have considered IBS patients as a single group, without making allowance for differing symptom patterns. Third, conclusions have been drawn about hospital samples and extrapolated to all IBS subjects, without taking account of factors which affect consulting behaviour. Most studies have been concerned with psychological factors so these will be considered in most detail.
PMCID: PMC1433466  PMID: 3315878
21.  Secondary Outcomes of a Pilot Randomized Trial of Azithromycin Treatment for Asthma 
PLoS Clinical Trials  2006;1(2):e11.
The respiratory pathogen Chlamydia pneumoniae (C. pneumoniae) produces acute and chronic lung infections and is associated with asthma. Evidence for effectiveness of antichlamydial antibiotics in asthma is limited. The primary objective of this pilot study was to investigate the feasibility of performing an asthma clinical trial in practice settings where most asthma is encountered and managed. The secondary objectives were to investigate (1) whether azithromycin treatment would affect any asthma outcomes and (2) whether C. pneumoniae serology would be related to outcomes. This report presents the secondary results.
Randomized, placebo-controlled, blinded (participants, physicians, study personnel, data analysts), allocation-concealed parallel group clinical trial.
Community-based health-care settings located in four states and one Canadian province.
Adults with stable, persistent asthma.
Azithromycin (six weekly doses) or identical matching placebo, plus usual community care.
Outcome Measures:
Juniper Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (Juniper AQLQ), symptom, and medication changes from baseline (pretreatment) to 3 mo posttreatment (follow-up); C. pneumoniae IgG and IgA antibodies at baseline and follow-up.
Juniper AQLQ improved by 0.25 (95% confidence interval; −0.3, 0.8) units, overall asthma symptoms improved by 0.68 (0.1, 1.3) units, and rescue inhaler use decreased by 0.59 (−0.5, 1.6) daily administrations in azithromycin-treated compared to placebo-treated participants. Baseline IgA antibodies were positively associated with worsening overall asthma symptoms at follow-up (p = 0.04), but IgG was not (p = 0.63). Overall asthma symptom improvement attributable to azithromycin was 28% in high IgA participants versus 12% in low IgA participants (p for interaction = 0.27).
Azithromycin did not improve Juniper AQLQ but appeared to improve overall asthma symptoms. Larger community-based trials of antichlamydial antibiotics for asthma are warranted.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Chlamydia pneumoniae is a common bacterium thought to be responsible for a substantial proportion of community-acquired pneumonia and bronchitis infections. There is some observational evidence associating chronic C. pneumoniae infection with more severe symptoms in people with asthma. However, there are very little data from clinical trials determining whether treatment with antibiotics active against C. pneumoniae has an effect on the control of asthma.
What this trial shows: In this trial, the researchers randomized 45 adults who were being treated for asthma in primary care to receive either azithromycin (an antibiotic active against C. pneumoniae) or placebo, in addition to their usual asthma care. Participants were followed up for 3 mo after completion of treatment, during which time participants recorded data relating to their overall symptoms and daily activities on a 5-point scale, and use of bronchodilators. At the start of the trial, and at 3-mo follow-up, participants also completed a quality-of-life questionnaire using a validated scale. The primary objective of this trial was to investigate the feasibility of running an asthma trial in the primary care setting, and in using IVR telephone systems to collect the outcome data, reported in [13]. In this paper, the asthma outcomes are reported. Participants receiving azithromycin did not show a significant improvement in quality of life at 3-mo follow-up as compared to participants receiving placebo. However, the investigators did see a significant improvement in the overall symptoms recorded by participants receiving azithromycin, as compared to placebo.
Strengths and limitations: The randomization methods in the trial were appropriate, as was the choice of placebo as a comparison for azithromycin. However, the number of participants in the trial was small, and it is likely that many more participants would need to be recruited to conclusively demonstrate or disprove an effect of azithromycin on asthma-related quality of life. Further, the trial used three different measures for asthma outcomes: (1) the quality-of-life questionnaire, (2) measurement of symptoms and daily activities on a 5-point scale, and (3) bronchodilator use. Only the quality-of-life questionnaire is validated, making it difficult to compare the results with those of other asthma trials.
Contribution to the evidence: This trial provides suggestive evidence that azithromycin may have benefits in the treatment of asthma, but should not on its own lead to a change in practice. The study provides a good basis for a larger randomized trial of such treatments, which would need to assess reliably the effect of these drugs not only on symptoms but also on quality of life. Information gained from this trial would help to design several aspects of future studies, e.g., their size, follow-up duration, and suitable outcome measures.
PMCID: PMC1488900  PMID: 16871333
22.  Asthma in the elderly 
Asia Pacific Allergy  2012;2(2):101-108.
As the population increases in age, the diseases of older age will have increasing prevalence and place a greater burden on the health system. Despite asthma being usually considered a disease of younger people, asthma mortality is currently greatest in the over 55 age-group. Symptoms and emergency presentations for health care due to asthma place a great burden on the quality of life of those over age 55 with asthma. Asthma in older people is under-diagnosed due to patient and physiological factors. Medication strategies for asthma have been dominantly derived from younger cohorts so that effective medication strategies have usually not been explored in older people. Older people with asthma are very concerned regarding side effects of medication so that adherence to therapeutic regimes is often poor. In addition physical disability can lead to difficulty in accessing treatment and using inhaler devices. Practical strategies to improve asthma outcomes in older people have been studied infrequently and the goals of self-management suitable for younger age-groups may not be applicable in this group. Consequently, asthma in older people is deserving of further attention both to basic mechanisms of disease, precision in diagnosis and effective therapeutic strategies, including those that involve self-management and device use.
PMCID: PMC3345322  PMID: 22701859
Aged; Asthma; Health education; Middle aged; Respiratory function
23.  Asthma beliefs among mothers and children from different ethnic origins living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:380.
Doctors and patients hold varying beliefs concerning illness and treatment. Patients' and families' explanatory models (EMs) vary according to personality and sociocultural factors. In a multi-ethnic society, it is becoming increasingly significant that doctors understand the different beliefs of their patients in order to improve patient/doctor communication as well as patient adherence to treatment.
Twelve focus groups were formed, consisting of 40 children diagnosed with asthma, as well as 28 mothers of these children. These groups included mothers and children of different ethnicities who were living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In order to understand the beliefs that both mothers and children hold regarding asthma and its treatment, the explanatory models were analysed and compared.
Study findings show that mothers and children, regardless of ethnicity and age, have their own EMs. Overall, there is a great deal of uncertainty related to the causes, consequences, problems, and symptoms of asthma and its treatment. It also seems that many concerns and feelings of discomfort are the result of lack of knowledge. For instance, the fact that asthma is not seen as a chronic disease requiring daily intake of an inhaled corticosteroid, but rather as an acute phenomenon triggered by various factors, may be very relevant for clinical practice. This particular belief might suggest an explanation for non-adherent behaviour.
A thorough understanding of the mothers' and children's beliefs regarding the illness and its treatment is an important aspect in the management of asthma. Gaining an understanding of these beliefs will provide a foundation for a solid clinician-patient/family partnership in asthma care. Although ethnic differences were observed, the similarities between the mothers' and children's beliefs in this multi-ethnic population were striking. In particular, a common belief is that asthma is considered an acute rather than a chronic condition. In addition, there is a lack of knowledge about the course and the self-management of asthma. Health care providers should be aware of these commonly held beliefs, and this information could be shared in educational programs.
PMCID: PMC2603023  PMID: 18980690
24.  Persistent pain in a community-based sample of children and adolescents: Sex differences in psychological constructs 
The prevalence of persistent and recurrent pain among children and adolescents has important economic, social and psychological repercussions. The impact of chronic pain in children extends beyond the affected individuals – more than one-third of parents of children with pain report clinically significant levels of stress and depression. Although many pain-related psychological factors have been examined in chronic pediatric pain populations, much of that research involved clinical samples. Community-based research, however, is necessary to uncover the way pain is experienced by youth, regardless of whether treatment is sought or is available. This study aimed to ascertain the lifetime prevalence of pediatric pain in a Canadian community-based sample, and to explore age and sex differences in children who report persistent pain and those who do not with respect to several constructs believed to play important roles in the development and maintenance of persistent pain.
Very few studies have investigated the psychological factors associated with the pain experiences of children and adolescents in community samples.
To examine the lifetime prevalence of, and psychological variables associated with, persistent pain in a community sample of children and adolescents, and to explore differences according to sex, age and pain history.
Participants completed the Childhood Anxiety Sensitivity Index (CASI), the Child Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale (CPASS), the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children-10 (MASC-10), the Pain Catastrophizing Scale for Children (PCS-C) and a pain history questionnaire that assessed chronicity and pain frequency. After research ethics board approval, informed consent/assent was obtained from 1022 individuals recruited to participate in a study conducted at the Ontario Science Centre (Toronto, Ontario).
Of the 1006 participants (54% female, mean [± SD] age 11.6±2.7 years) who provided complete data, 27% reported having experienced pain that lasted for three months or longer. A 2×2×2 (pain history, age and sex) multivariate ANOVA was conducted, with the total scores on the CASI, the CPASS, the MASC-10 and the PCS-C as dependent variables. Girls with a history of persistent pain expressed higher levels of anxiety sensitivity (P<0.001) and pain catastrophizing (P<0.001) than both girls without a pain history and boys regardless of pain history. This same pattern of results was found for anxiety and pain anxiety in the older, but not the younger, age group.
Boys and girls appear to differ in terms of how age and pain history relate to the expression of pain-related psychological variables. Given the prevalence of persistent pain found in the study, more research is needed regarding the developmental implications of persistent pain in childhood and adolescence.
PMCID: PMC3206778  PMID: 22059200
Children; Persistent pain; Psychosocial factors; Sex differences
25.  Non-response in a survey of physicians on end-of-life care for the elderly 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:367.
Physicians are quite often surveyed with the aim to investigate their opinions regarding provision and improvement of health care. However, in many cases response rates tend to be rather low. The aim of the study is to reflect methodological aspects regarding survey conduction and to analyse factors that cause physicians to take part in a study on delivering end-of-life care for the elderly.
N = 4,727 physicians in Lower Saxony, Germany, received a standardised questionnaire on their attitudes about end-of-life care for the elderly. Non-responders were asked to state the reasons for non-participation. Comparison of the sociodemographic characteristics between responders and non-responders, and evaluation of the reasons for non-participation were made.
The response rate to the questionnaire on end-of-life care for the elderly was 40% (n = 1,892). Of the non-responders to the questionnaire, 12.8% (n = 364) stated the reasons for non-participation. Overall, the response rate to the questionnaire varied with specialty and location of the practice: radiotherapists answered significantly more frequently than other categories of physician (e.g. general practitioners) and physicians in rural areas significantly more frequently than their colleagues in urban areas. The reasons most frequently given for non-participation were "Not concerned with the subject" and "No time".
The varying rates of response indicate that the survey was not sufficiently relevant to all groups of physicians, or that the awareness of the topic may be partly underdeveloped.
PMCID: PMC3189129  PMID: 21943379

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