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1.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000148.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000148
PMCID: PMC2752116  PMID: 19823568
2.  Immigrant Incorporation in American Cities: Contextual Determinants of Irish, German and British Intermarriage in 1880 
The International migration review  2012;46(3):10.1111/j.1747-7379.2012.00902.x.
This study adds to a growing body of research on the contextual determinants of marriage choice and provides new information on ethnic intermarriage in the late 19th Century. Census microdata for 66 major cities in 1880 are used to estimate a multilevel model of assortative mating of Irish, German, and British immigrants. Results demonstrate that marital choices made by individuals are significantly affected by the local urban context where they live. In addition the very large disparity in endogamy between the British and other groups can mainly be attributed to the smaller size of the British population in these cities.
doi:10.1111/j.1747-7379.2012.00902.x
PMCID: PMC3832263  PMID: 24259757
Intermarriage; immigration; ethnicity; contextual effects
3.  Antigenic Fingerprinting of H5N1 Avian Influenza Using Convalescent Sera and Monoclonal Antibodies Reveals Potential Vaccine and Diagnostic Targets 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(4):e1000049.
Using whole-genome-fragment phage display libraries, Hana Golding and colleagues identify the viral epitopes recognized by serum antibodies in humans who have recovered from infection with H5N1 avian influenza.
Background
Transmission of highly pathogenic avian H5N1 viruses from poultry to humans have raised fears of an impending influenza pandemic. Concerted efforts are underway to prepare effective vaccines and therapies including polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies against H5N1. Current efforts are hampered by the paucity of information on protective immune responses against avian influenza. Characterizing the B cell responses in convalescent individuals could help in the design of future vaccines and therapeutics.
Methods and Findings
To address this need, we generated whole-genome–fragment phage display libraries (GFPDL) expressing fragments of 15–350 amino acids covering all the proteins of A/Vietnam/1203/2004 (H5N1). These GFPDL were used to analyze neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies and sera of five individuals who had recovered from H5N1 infection. This approach led to the mapping of two broadly neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies with conformation-dependent epitopes. In H5N1 convalescent sera, we have identified several potentially protective H5N1-specific human antibody epitopes in H5 HA[(-10)-223], neuraminidase catalytic site, and M2 ectodomain. In addition, for the first time to our knowledge in humans, we identified strong reactivity against PB1-F2, a putative virulence factor, following H5N1 infection. Importantly, novel epitopes were identified, which were recognized by H5N1-convalescent sera but did not react with sera from control individuals (H5N1 naïve, H1N1 or H3N2 seropositive).
Conclusion
This is the first study, to our knowledge, describing the complete antibody repertoire following H5N1 infection. Collectively, these data will contribute to rational vaccine design and new H5N1-specific serodiagnostic surveillance tools.
Editors' Summary
Background
Every winter, millions of people catch influenza, a viral infection of the airways. Most recover quickly but seasonal influenza outbreaks (epidemics) kill about half a million people annually. These epidemics occur because small but frequent changes in the viral proteins (antigens) to which the human immune system responds mean that an immune response produced one year by infection or through vaccination provides only partial protection against influenza the next year. Influenza viruses also occasionally appear that contain major antigenic changes. Human populations have little or no immunity to such viruses (which often originate in animals or birds), so they can start deadly global epidemics (pandemics ). Worryingly, the last influenza pandemic occurred in 1968 and many experts fear that another pandemic is now overdue. The trigger for such a pandemic, they think, could be the avian (bird) H5N1 influenza virus, which first appeared in 1996 in a goose in China. The name indicates the types of two major influenza antigens present in the virus: H5N1 carries type 5 hemagglutinin and type 1 neuraminidase.
Why Was This Study Done?
H5N1 has caused about 400 confirmed cases of human influenza and more than 250 deaths in the past decade but it has not started a human pandemic because it cannot pass easily between people. However, it could possibly acquire this ability at any time, so it is a priority to develop both vaccines that will provide protection against a pandemic H5N1 viral strain, as well as antibody-based antiviral therapies for people not protected by vaccination (antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system that help to fight infections; people can sometimes be protected from infection by injecting them with pre-prepared antibodies). To do this, scientists need to know how the human immune system responds to the H5N1 virus. In particular, they need to know which parts of the virus the immune system can detect and make antibodies against. In this study, therefore, the researchers characterize the specific antibody responses found in people recovering from infection with H5N1.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers made several “genome-fragment phage display libraries”, collections of bacterial viruses (phages) engineered so that each phage makes one of many possible short pieces (polypeptides) of a nonphage protein. Such “libraries” can be used to investigate which fragments are recognized by antibodies from a given source. In this case, several libraries were made that contained fragments of the genome of the H5N1 strain responsible for an outbreak of human influenza in Vietnam in 2004–2005 (A/Vietnam/1203/2004). The researchers used these libraries to analyze the antibodies made by five Vietnamese people recovering from infection with A/Vietnam/1203/2004. H5N1 convalescent blood samples, the researchers report, contained antibodies that recognized small regions (“epitopes”) in several viral proteins, including hemagglutinin, neuraminidase, a structural protein called M2, and a viral protein called PB1-F2 that is partly responsible for the severity of H5N1 infections. Several of the novel epitopes identified were not recognized by antibodies in blood taken from people recovering from infection with other influenza viruses. The researchers also used their phage display libraries to analyze two neutralizing human monoclonal antibodies generated from patients infected with A/Vietnam/1203/2004 (neutralizing antibodies protect mice against normally lethal challenge with H5N1; monoclonal antibodies are generated in the laboratory by creating continuously growing cell lines that produce a single type of antibody). Importantly, both of the neutralizing monoclonal antibodies recognized “noncontinuous conformation-dependent epitopes”—protein sequences that are not adjacent to one another in the polypeptide sequence of the protein, but that lie close together in space because of the way the protein is folded up.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although some aspects of the antibody repertoire produced in people exposed to the H5N1 influenza virus may have been missed in this analysis, these findings provide important and detailed new information about how the human immune system responds to infection with this virus. In particular, they show that people recovering from H5N1 infection make a diverse range of antibodies against several viral proteins for at least six months and identify specific parts of H5N1 that may be particularly good at stimulating a protective immune response. This information can now be used to help design vaccines against H5N1 and antibody-based therapies for the treatment of H5N1 infections, and to develop new tools for monitoring outbreaks of avian influenza in human populations.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000049.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Malik Peiris
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for about influenza for patients and professionals, including specific information on avian and pandemic influenza (in several languages)
The World Health Organization provides information on influenza (in several languages) and on H5N1 avian influenza (in several languages), and a global timeline about H5N1 avian influenza infection in birds and people
The UK Health Protection Agency provides information on avian, pandemic, and epidemic (seasonal) influenza
MedlinePlus provides a list of links to other information about influenza and bird flu (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000049
PMCID: PMC2661249  PMID: 19381279
4.  Measuring Ethnic Clustering and Exposure with the Q statistic: An Exploratory Analysis of Irish, Germans, and Yankees in 1880 Newark 
The study of population patterns has animated a large body of urban social research over the years. An important part of this literature is concerned with the identification and measurement of segregation patterns. Recently, emphatic calls have been made to develop measures that are better able to capture the geography of population patterns. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the application of the Q statistic, developed for the analysis of spatial association of qualitative variables, to the detection of ethnic clustering and exposure patterns. The application is to historical data from 1880 Newark in the United States, with individuals classified by ethnicity and geo-coded by place of residence. Three ethnic groups, termed Irish, Germans, and Yankees are considered. Exploratory analysis with the Q statistic identifies significant differences in the tendency of individuals and building occupancy to cluster by ethnicity. In particular, there is evidence of a strong affinity within ethnic clusters, and some intermingling between Yankee and Irish residents. In contrast, the exposure of Germans to individuals of other groups is found to be more limited.
doi:10.1080/00045608.2011.620502
PMCID: PMC4028146  PMID: 24855322
Ethnicity; segregation; clustering; exposure; spatial association; Q statistic
5.  Cultural Diversity, Economic Development and Societal Instability 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e929.
Background
Social scientists have suggested that cultural diversity in a nation leads to societal instability. However, societal instability may be affected not only by within-nation or α diversity, but also diversity between a nation and its neighbours or β diversity. It is also necessary to distinguish different domains of diversity, namely linguistic, ethnic and religious, and to distinguish between the direct effects of diversity on societal instability, and effects that are mediated by economic conditions.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We assembled a large cross-national dataset with information on α and β cultural diversity, economic conditions, and indices of societal instability. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the direct and indirect effects of cultural diversity on economics and societal stability. Results show that different types and domains of diversity have interacting effects. As previously documented, linguistic α diversity has a negative effect on economic performance, and we show that it is largely through this economic mechanism that it affects societal instability. For β diversity, the higher the linguistic diversity among nations in a region, the less stable the nation. But, religious β diversity has the opposite effect, reducing instability, particularly in the presence of high linguistic diversity.
Conclusions
Within-nation linguistic diversity is associated with reduced economic performance, which, in turn, increases societal instability. Nations which differ linguistically from their neighbors are also less stable. However, religious diversity between neighboring nations has the opposite effect, decreasing societal instability.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000929
PMCID: PMC1978457  PMID: 17895970
6.  European Population Substructure: Clustering of Northern and Southern Populations  
PLoS Genetics  2006;2(9):e143.
Using a genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel, we observed population structure in a diverse group of Europeans and European Americans. Under a variety of conditions and tests, there is a consistent and reproducible distinction between “northern” and “southern” European population groups: most individual participants with southern European ancestry (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Greek) have >85% membership in the “southern” population; and most northern, western, eastern, and central Europeans have >90% in the “northern” population group. Ashkenazi Jewish as well as Sephardic Jewish origin also showed >85% membership in the “southern” population, consistent with a later Mediterranean origin of these ethnic groups. Based on this work, we have developed a core set of informative SNP markers that can control for this partition in European population structure in a variety of clinical and genetic studies.
Synopsis
Two unrelated persons in the human population have hundreds of thousands of base pair differences between them in DNA sequence. Previous studies have shown that a small proportion of these sequence differences correlate with a person's continental ancestry: broadly, Asia, Africa Oceana, America, or continental Europe. In the current study, DNA differences within a particular continental group, Europe, were examined. Overall, the analysis of sequence variation allowed the authors to distinguish individuals with northern European ancestry (Swedish, English, Irish, German, and Ukrainian) from individuals with southern European ancestry (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Greek). Interestingly, Ashkenazi Jewish individuals tend to group together with individuals from southern European countries. This study is important because it provides a method of taking into account these differences when searching for genetic variations that are associated with particular human traits, such as disease susceptibility, response to drug treatment, or side effects from therapy. Specifically, these methods may allow scientists to uncover disease-associated genetic variations that might be hidden unless differences related to European ancestry are considered.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0020143
PMCID: PMC1564423  PMID: 17044734
7.  The cosmopolitan maternal heritage of the Thoroughbred racehorse breed shows a significant contribution from British and Irish native mares 
Biology Letters  2010;7(2):316-320.
The paternal origins of Thoroughbred racehorses trace back to a handful of Middle Eastern stallions, imported to the British Isles during the seventeenth century. Yet, few details of the foundation mares were recorded, in many cases not even their names (several different maternal lineages trace back to ‘A Royal Mare’). This has fuelled intense speculation over their origins. We examined mitochondrial DNA from 1929 horses to determine the origin of Thoroughbred foundation mares. There is no evidence to support exclusive Arab maternal origins as some historical records have suggested, or a significant importation of Oriental mares (the term used in historic records to refer to Middle East and western Asian breeds including Arab, Akhal-Teke, Barb and Caspian). Instead, we show that Thoroughbred foundation mares had a cosmopolitan European heritage with a far greater contribution from British and Irish Native mares than previously recognized.
doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0800
PMCID: PMC3061175  PMID: 20926431
Thoroughbred horse; foundation of breed; maternal origins; phylogenetics; mitochondrial DNA
8.  ‘A WONDERFULL MONSTER BORNE IN GERMANY’: HAIRY GIRLS IN MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN GERMAN BOOK, COURT AND PERFORMANCE CULTURE 
German life and letters  2014;67(4):467-480.
Human hirsuteness, or pathological hair growth, can be symptomatic of various conditions, including genetic mutation or inheritance, and some cancers and hormonal disturbances. Modern investigations into hirsuteness were initiated by nineteenth-century German physicians. Most early modern European cases of hypertrichosis (genetically determined all-over body and facial hair) involve German-speaking parentage or patronage, and are documented in German print culture. Through the Wild Man tradition, modern historians routinely link early modern reception of historical hypertrichosis cases to issues of ethnicity without, however, recognising early modern awareness of links between temporary hirsuteness and the pathological nexus of starvation and anorexia. Here, four cases of hirsute females are reconsidered with reference to this medical perspective, and to texts and images uncovered by my current research at the Herzog August Library and German archives. One concerns an Italian girl taken to Prague in 1355 by the Holy Roman Empress, Anna von Schweidnitz. Another focuses on Madeleine and Antonietta Gonzalez, daughters of the ‘Wild Man’ of Tenerife, documented at German courts in the 1580s. The third and fourth cases consider the medieval bearded Sankt Kümmernis (also known as St Wilgefortis or St Uncumber), and the seventeenth-century Bavarian fairground performer Barbara Urslerin.
Krankhafter menschlicher Hirsutismus kann aufgrund unterschiedlicher Ursachen auftreten, zu denen u.a. genetische Veländerungen und Vererbung, verschiedene Krebserkrankungen und hormonelle Störungen gehören. Die moderne Hirsutismus-Forschung ist im 19. Jh. von deutschen Forschern initiiert worden. Die meisten europäischen frühneuzeitlichen Erscheinungen von Hypertrichose (dem genetisch bedingten Haarwuchs am gesamten Körper und im Gesicht) gehen auf deutschsprachige Eltern oder Förderer zurück und sind in Deutschland in den Druck gelangt. Bei Untersuchungen des Motivs des Wilden Mannes zieht die aktuelle geschichtswissenschaftliche Forschung in der Regel Verbindungslinien zwischen der frühneuzeitlichen Wahrnehmung von Hypertrichose-Fällen und Fragen der Ethnizität, ohne jedoch zu beachten, dass in der Frühen Neuzeit die Verbindung zwischen temporärem Hirsutismus und der krankhaften Verknüpfung von Unterernährung und Anorexie bekannt war. Im vorliegenden Beitragwerden vier Fälle von an Hirsutismus erkrankten Frauen neu analysiert, unter Einbezug dieser medizinischen Perspektive und unter Beachtung von Texten und Abbildungen, die meine jüngsten Forschungen in der Herzog August Bibliothek und an deutschen Archiven ans Licht gefördert haben. Die hier betrachteten Fälle betreffen ein italienisches Mädchen, das 1355 von Anna von Schweidnitz, Kaiserin des Hl. Römischen Reichs, nach Prag gebracht wurde; Madeleine und Antonietta Gonzalez, die Töchter des ‘Wilden Manns’ von Teneriffa, die in den 1580er Jahren an deutschen Höfen bezeugt sind; die bärtige Sankt Kümmernis (Wilgefortis), und die bayerische Jahrmarktkünstlerin Barbara Urslerin.
doi:10.1111/glal.12054
PMCID: PMC4296693  PMID: 25598545
9.  Books and other endangered species: an inquiry into the values of medical librarianship. 
Major values of medical librarians, as exemplified in their periodical literature 1903-1977, are identified as "professionalism," "cooperation," "sense of community with health sciences practitioners," and "knowledge orientation." These values are examined in terms of interdisciplinary research into human values. Professionalism is studied in greater depth in relation to criteria on a scale of professionalism. Medical librarians have been most concerned with the criteria of organization, specialized education (with more emphasis on continuing education than on introductory medical library education), and service orientation. Indication of challenge to long-held values exists in the contradictions among certain related assumptions underlying our self-image, our current lack of standards, and changing societal views toward commitment to a single, life-long specialization. It is suggested that there is unexplored potential for support of our traditional values and the development of new ones by comparing them with the value systems of health scientists and educators of health sciences practitioners.
PMCID: PMC199524  PMID: 708952
10.  The Chemistry of Famine: Nutritional Controversies and the Irish Famine, c.1845–7 
Medical History  2012;56(4):444-462.
The activities of Irish medical practitioners in relieving the impact of the Irish Famine (c.1845–52) have been well documented. However, analysis of the function of contemporary medico-scientific ideas relating to food has remained mostly absent from Famine historiography. This is surprising, given the burgeoning influence of Liebigian chemistry and the rising social prominence of nutritional science in the 1840s. Within this article, I argue that the Famine opened up avenues for advocates of the social value of nutritional science to engage with politico-economic discussion regarding Irish dietary, social and economic transformation. Nutritional science was prominent within the activities of the Scientific Commission, the Central Board of Health and in debates regarding soup kitchen schemes. However, the practical inefficacy of many scientific suggestions resulted in public associations being forged between nutritional science and the inefficiencies of state relief policy, whilst emergent tensions between the state, science and the public encouraged scientists in Ireland to gradually distance themselves from state-sponsored relief practices.
doi:10.1017/mdh.2012.27
PMCID: PMC3483744  PMID: 23112380
Great Famine; Medical History of Ireland; History of Nutrition; History of Dietetics; History of Digestion
11.  Quantitative analysis of culture using millions of digitized books 
Science (New York, N.y.)  2010;331(6014):176-182.
We constructed a corpus of digitized texts containing about 4% of all books ever printed. Analysis of this corpus enables us to investigate cultural trends quantitatively. We survey the vast terrain of ‘culturomics’, focusing on linguistic and cultural phenomena that were reflected in the English language between 1800 and 2000. We show how this approach can provide insights about fields as diverse as lexicography, the evolution of grammar, collective memory, the adoption of technology, the pursuit of fame, censorship, and historical epidemiology. ‘Culturomics’ extends the boundaries of rigorous quantitative inquiry to a wide array of new phenomena spanning the social sciences and the humanities.
doi:10.1126/science.1199644
PMCID: PMC3279742  PMID: 21163965
12.  Yellow Fever in Africa: Estimating the Burden of Disease and Impact of Mass Vaccination from Outbreak and Serological Data 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001638.
Neil Ferguson and colleagues estimate the disease burden of yellow fever in Africa, as well as the impact of mass vaccination campaigns.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Yellow fever is a vector-borne disease affecting humans and non-human primates in tropical areas of Africa and South America. While eradication is not feasible due to the wildlife reservoir, large scale vaccination activities in Africa during the 1940s to 1960s reduced yellow fever incidence for several decades. However, after a period of low vaccination coverage, yellow fever has resurged in the continent. Since 2006 there has been substantial funding for large preventive mass vaccination campaigns in the most affected countries in Africa to curb the rising burden of disease and control future outbreaks. Contemporary estimates of the yellow fever disease burden are lacking, and the present study aimed to update the previous estimates on the basis of more recent yellow fever occurrence data and improved estimation methods.
Methods and Findings
Generalised linear regression models were fitted to a dataset of the locations of yellow fever outbreaks within the last 25 years to estimate the probability of outbreak reports across the endemic zone. Environmental variables and indicators for the surveillance quality in the affected countries were used as covariates. By comparing probabilities of outbreak reports estimated in the regression with the force of infection estimated for a limited set of locations for which serological surveys were available, the detection probability per case and the force of infection were estimated across the endemic zone.
The yellow fever burden in Africa was estimated for the year 2013 as 130,000 (95% CI 51,000–380,000) cases with fever and jaundice or haemorrhage including 78,000 (95% CI 19,000–180,000) deaths, taking into account the current level of vaccination coverage. The impact of the recent mass vaccination campaigns was assessed by evaluating the difference between the estimates obtained for the current vaccination coverage and for a hypothetical scenario excluding these vaccination campaigns. Vaccination campaigns were estimated to have reduced the number of cases and deaths by 27% (95% CI 22%–31%) across the region, achieving up to an 82% reduction in countries targeted by these campaigns. A limitation of our study is the high level of uncertainty in our estimates arising from the sparseness of data available from both surveillance and serological surveys.
Conclusions
With the estimation method presented here, spatial estimates of transmission intensity can be combined with vaccination coverage levels to evaluate the impact of past or proposed vaccination campaigns, thereby helping to allocate resources efficiently for yellow fever control. This method has been used by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI Alliance) to estimate the potential impact of future vaccination campaigns.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Yellow fever is a flavivirus infection that is transmitted to people and to non-human primates through the bites of infected mosquitoes. This serious viral disease affects people living in and visiting tropical regions of Africa and Central and South America. In rural areas next to forests, the virus typically causes sporadic cases or even small-scale epidemics (outbreaks) but, if it is introduced into urban areas, it can cause large explosive epidemics that are hard to control. Although many people who contract yellow fever do not develop any symptoms, some have mild flu-like symptoms, and others develop a high fever with jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) or hemorrhaging (bleeding) from the mouth, nose, eyes, or stomach. Half of patients who develop these severe symptoms die. Because of this wide spectrum of symptoms, which overlap with those of other tropical diseases, it is hard to diagnose yellow fever from symptoms alone. However, serological tests that detect antibodies to the virus in the blood can help in diagnosis. There is no specific antiviral treatment for yellow fever but its symptoms can be treated.
Why Was This Study Done?
Eradication of yellow fever is not feasible because of the wildlife reservoir for the virus but there is a safe, affordable, and highly effective vaccine against the disease. Large-scale vaccination efforts during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s reduced the yellow fever burden for several decades but, after a period of low vaccination coverage, the number of cases rebounded. In 2005, the Yellow Fever Initiative—a collaboration between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children Fund supported by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI Alliance)—was launched to create a vaccine stockpile for use in epidemics and to implement preventive mass vaccination campaigns in the 12 most affected countries in West Africa. Campaigns have now been implemented in all these countries except Nigeria. However, without an estimate of the current yellow fever burden, it is hard to determine the impact of these campaigns. Here, the researchers use recent yellow fever occurrence data, serological survey data, and improved estimation methods to update estimates of the yellow fever burden and to determine the impact of mass vaccination on this burden.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed a generalized linear statistical model and used data on the locations where yellow fever was reported between 1987 and 2011 in Africa, force of infection estimates for a limited set of locations where serological surveys were available (the force of infection is the rate at which susceptible individuals acquire a disease), data on vaccination coverage, and demographic and environmental data for their calculations. They estimate that about 130,000 yellow fever cases with fever and jaundice or hemorrhage occurred in Africa in 2013 and that about 78,000 people died from the disease. By evaluating the difference between this estimate, which takes into account the current vaccination coverage, and a hypothetical scenario that excluded the mass vaccination campaigns, the researchers estimate that these campaigns have reduced the burden of disease by 27% across Africa and by up to 82% in the countries targeted by the campaigns (an overall reduction of 57% in the 12 targeted countries).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide a contemporary estimate of the burden of yellow fever in Africa. This estimate is broadly similar to the historic estimate of 200,000 cases and 30,000 deaths annually, which was based on serological survey data obtained from children in Nigeria between 1945 and 1971. Notably, both disease burden estimates are several hundred-fold higher than the average number of yellow fever cases reported annually to WHO, which reflects the difficulties associated with the diagnosis of yellow fever. Importantly, these findings also provide an estimate of the impact of recent mass vaccination campaigns. All these findings have a high level of uncertainty, however, because of the lack of data from both surveillance and serological surveys. Other assumptions incorporated in the researchers' model may also affect the accuracy of these findings. Nevertheless, the framework for burden estimation developed here provides essential new information about the yellow fever burden and the impact of vaccination campaigns and should help the partners of the Yellow Fever Initiative estimate the potential impact of future vaccination campaigns and ensure the efficient allocation of resources for yellow fever control.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001638.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about yellow fever (in several languages), including photo stories about vaccination campaigns in the Sudan and Mali; it also provides information about the Yellow Fever Initiative (in English and French)
The GAVI Alliance website includes detailed of its support for yellow fever vaccination
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about yellow fever for the public, travelers, and health care providers
The UK National Health Service Choices website also has information about yellow fever
Wikipedia has a page on yellow fever that includes information about the history of the disease (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001638
PMCID: PMC4011853  PMID: 24800812
13.  Online medical books: their availability and an assessment of how health sciences libraries provide access on their public Websites 
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the number and topical range of available online medical books and to assess how health sciences libraries were providing access to these resources on their public Websites.
Method: The collection-based evaluative technique of list checking was used to assess the number and topical range of online medical books of the six largest publishers. Publisher inventory lists were downloaded over a two-day period (May 16–17, 2004). Titles were counted and compared with the 2003 Brandon/Hill list. A sample of health sciences libraries was subsequently derived by consulting the 2004 “Top Medical Schools-Research” in U.S. News & World Report. Bibliographic and bibliothecal access methods were evaluated based on an inspection of the publicly available Websites of the sample libraries.
Results: Of 318 currently published online medical books, 151 (47%) were Brandon/Hill titles covering 42 of 59 Brandon/Hill topics (71%). These 151 titles represented 22% (N = 672) of the Brandon/Hill list, which further broke down as 52 minimal core, 41 initial purchase, and 58 other recommended Brandon/Hill titles. These numbers represented 50%, 28%, and 12%, respectively, of all Brandon/Hill titles corresponding to those categories. In terms of bibliographic access, 20 of 21 of sampled libraries created catalog records for their online medical books, 1 of which also provided analytical access at the chapter level, and none provided access at the chapter section level. Of the 21 libraries, 19 had library Website search engines that provided title-level access and 4 provided access at the chapter level and none that at the chapter section level. For bibliothecal access, 19 of 21 libraries provided title-level access to medical books, 8 of which provided classified and alphabetic arrangements, 1 provided a classified arrangement only, and 10 provided an alphabetic arrangement only. No library provided a bibliothecal arrangement for medical book chapters or chapter sections.
Conclusions: This study shows that the number and topical range of online medical books is reaching a point where collection-level consideration is warranted to facilitate efficient use and to prevent the problem of split files. However, the results also show that few efforts are underway on the publicly available Websites of the surveyed health sciences libraries to provide the analytical access necessary to meet the structural needs of clinical information seekers.
PMCID: PMC1324775  PMID: 16404473
14.  Challenges in conducting community-driven research created by differing ways of talking and thinking about science: a researcher's perspective 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2013;72:10.3402/ijch.v72i0.21232.
Increasingly, health scientists are becoming aware that research collaborations that include community partnerships can be an effective way to broaden the scope and enhance the impact of research aimed at improving public health. Such collaborations extend the reach of academic scientists by integrating a variety of perspectives and thus strengthening the applicability of the research. Communication challenges can arise, however, when attempting to address specific research questions in these collaborations. In particular, inconsistencies can exist between scientists and community members in the use and interpretation of words and other language features, particularly when conducting research with a biomedical component. Additional challenges arise from differing perceptions of the investigative process. There may be divergent perceptions about how research questions should and can be answered, and in expectations about requirements of research institutions and research timelines. From these differences, misunderstandings can occur about how the results will ultimately impact the community. These communication issues are particularly challenging when scientists and community members are from different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds that may widen the gap between ways of talking and thinking about science, further complicating the interactions and exchanges that are essential for effective joint research efforts. Community-driven research that aims to describe the burden of disease associated with Helicobacter pylori infection is currently underway in northern Aboriginal communities located in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, Canada, with the goal of identifying effective public health strategies for reducing health risks from this infection. This research links community representatives, faculty from various disciplines at the University of Alberta, as well as territorial health care practitioners and officials. This highly collaborative work will be used to illustrate, from a researcher's perspective, some of the challenges of conducting public health research in teams comprising members with varying backgrounds. The consequences of these challenges will be outlined, and potential solutions will be offered.
doi:10.3402/ijch.v72i0.21232
PMCID: PMC3754491  PMID: 23986884
Aboriginal health; Helicobacter pylori; cancer; circumpolar regions
15.  Effect of Low-Frequency rTMS on Aphasia in Stroke Patients: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102557.
Background
Small clinical trials have reported that low-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) might improve language recovery in patients with aphasia after stroke. However, no systematic reviews or meta-analyses studies have investigated the effect of rTMS on aphasia. The objective of this study was to perform a meta-analysis of studies that explored the effects of low-frequency rTMS on aphasia in stroke patients.
Methods
We searched PubMed, CENTRAL, Embase, CINAHL, ScienceDirect, and Journals@Ovid for randomized controlled trials published between January 1965 and October 2013 using the keywords “aphasia OR language disorders OR anomia OR linguistic disorders AND repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation OR rTMS”. We used fixed- and random-effects models to estimate the standardized mean difference (SMD) and a 95% CI for the language outcomes.
Results
Seven eligible studies involving 160 stroke patients were identified in this meta-analysis. A significant effect size of 1.26 was found for the language outcome severity of impairment (95% CI = 0.80 to 1.71) without heterogeneity (I2 = 0%, P = 0.44). Further analyses demonstrated prominent effects for the naming subtest (SMD = 0.52, 95% CI = 0.18 to 0.87), repetition (SMD = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.16 to 0.92), writing (SMD = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.19 to 1.22), and comprehension (the Token test: SMD = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.07 to 1.09) without heterogeneity (I2 = 0%). The SMD of AAT and BDAE comprehension subtests was 0.32 (95% CI = −0.08 to 0.72) with moderate heterogeneity (I2 = 32%,P = 0.22). The effect size did not change significantly even when any one trial was eliminated. None of the patients from the 7 included articles reported adverse effects from rTMS.
Conclusions
Low-frequency rTMS with a 90% resting motor threshold that targets the triangular part of the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) has a positive effect on language recovery in patients with aphasia following stroke. Further well-designed studies with larger populations are required to ascertain the long-term effects of rTMS in aphasia treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0102557
PMCID: PMC4103829  PMID: 25036386
16.  Ethnicity and Population Structure in Personal Naming Networks 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e22943.
Personal naming practices exist in all human groups and are far from random. Rather, they continue to reflect social norms and ethno-cultural customs that have developed over generations. As a consequence, contemporary name frequency distributions retain distinct geographic, social and ethno-cultural patterning that can be exploited to understand population structure in human biology, public health and social science. Previous attempts to detect and delineate such structure in large populations have entailed extensive empirical analysis of naming conventions in different parts of the world without seeking any general or automated methods of population classification by ethno-cultural origin. Here we show how ‘naming networks’, constructed from forename-surname pairs of a large sample of the contemporary human population in 17 countries, provide a valuable representation of cultural, ethnic and linguistic population structure around the world. This innovative approach enriches and adds value to automated population classification through conventional national data sources such as telephone directories and electoral registers. The method identifies clear social and ethno-cultural clusters in such naming networks that extend far beyond the geographic areas in which particular names originated, and that are preserved even after international migration. Moreover, one of the most striking findings of this approach is that these clusters simply ‘emerge’ from the aggregation of millions of individual decisions on parental naming practices for their children, without any prior knowledge introduced by the researcher. Our probabilistic approach to community assignment, both at city level as well as at a global scale, helps to reveal the degree of isolation, integration or overlap between human populations in our rapidly globalising world. As such, this work has important implications for research in population genetics, public health, and social science adding new understandings of migration, identity, integration and social interaction across the world.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022943
PMCID: PMC3167808  PMID: 21909399
17.  Book review of Electrophysiological Recording Techniques, edited by Robert P Vertes and Robert W Stackman, Jr 
The review presents the newly published book "Electrophysiological Recording Techniques" by Humana Press. This is an important collection of articles devoted to an issue that has gained increasing attention in modern neuroscience research - electrophysiological recording techniques. The present book is a timely update of methods spanning from single cell recordings to local field potentials, cortical, and scalp EEG recordings. The book presents the progressive development of electrophysiological recording methods by including both existing and new advanced technologies. Theoretical considerations on important issues like current source density analysis, local field potential and signal generation are also in focus. In most of the chapters, methods are illustrated with specific experimental results and are discussed towards future developments and applications. Chapters can be read independently because each chapter appears with its own theoretical background, literature survey and specific methodology. The book can be of interest to a broader audience willing to look at the contemporary state of development of electrophysiological methods. Also, it can be of special interest to scientists with high expertise working in the field of neuroscience and behavior.
doi:10.1186/1475-925X-10-63
PMCID: PMC3398429
18.  Pasture Names with Romance and Slavic Roots Facilitate Dissection of Y Chromosome Variation in an Exclusively German-Speaking Alpine Region 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41885.
The small alpine district of East Tyrol (Austria) has an exceptional demographic history. It was contemporaneously inhabited by members of the Romance, the Slavic and the Germanic language groups for centuries. Since the Late Middle Ages, however, the population of the principally agrarian-oriented area is solely Germanic speaking. Historic facts about East Tyrol's colonization are rare, but spatial density-distribution analysis based on the etymology of place-names has facilitated accurate spatial mapping of the various language groups' former settlement regions. To test for present-day Y chromosome population substructure, molecular genetic data were compared to the information attained by the linguistic analysis of pasture names. The linguistic data were used for subdividing East Tyrol into two regions of former Romance (A) and Slavic (B) settlement. Samples from 270 East Tyrolean men were genotyped for 17 Y-chromosomal microsatellites (Y-STRs) and 27 single nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNPs). Analysis of the probands' surnames revealed no evidence for spatial genetic structuring. Also, spatial autocorrelation analysis did not indicate significant correlation between genetic (Y-STR haplotypes) and geographic distance. Haplogroup R-M17 chromosomes, however, were absent in region A, but constituted one of the most frequent haplogroups in region B. The R-M343 (R1b) clade showed a marked and complementary frequency distribution pattern in these two regions. To further test East Tyrol's modern Y-chromosomal landscape for geographic patterning attributable to the early history of settlement in this alpine area, principal coordinates analysis was performed. The Y-STR haplotypes from region A clearly clustered with those of Romance reference populations and the samples from region B matched best with Germanic speaking reference populations. The combined use of onomastic and molecular genetic data revealed and mapped the marked structuring of the distribution of Y chromosomes in an alpine region that has been culturally homogeneous for centuries.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0041885
PMCID: PMC3407130  PMID: 22848647
19.  Child Mortality Estimation: Estimating Sex Differences in Childhood Mortality since the 1970s 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001287.
Cheryl Sawyer uses new methods to generate estimates of sex differences in child mortality which can be used to pinpoint areas where these differences in mortality merit closer examination.
Introduction
Producing estimates of infant (under age 1 y), child (age 1–4 y), and under-five (under age 5 y) mortality rates disaggregated by sex is complicated by problems with data quality and availability. Interpretation of sex differences requires nuanced analysis: girls have a biological advantage against many causes of death that may be eroded if they are disadvantaged in access to resources. Earlier studies found that girls in some regions were not experiencing the survival advantage expected at given levels of mortality. In this paper I generate new estimates of sex differences for the 1970s to the 2000s.
Methods and Findings
Simple fitting methods were applied to male-to-female ratios of infant and under-five mortality rates from vital registration, surveys, and censuses. The sex ratio estimates were used to disaggregate published series of both-sexes mortality rates that were based on a larger number of sources. In many developing countries, I found that sex ratios of mortality have changed in the same direction as historically occurred in developed countries, but typically had a lower degree of female advantage for a given level of mortality. Regional average sex ratios weighted by numbers of births were found to be highly influenced by China and India, the only countries where both infant mortality and overall under-five mortality were estimated to be higher for girls than for boys in the 2000s. For the less developed regions (comprising Africa, Asia excluding Japan, Latin America/Caribbean, and Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand), on average, boys' under-five mortality in the 2000s was about 2% higher than girls'. A number of countries were found to still experience higher mortality for girls than boys in the 1–4-y age group, with concentrations in southern Asia, northern Africa/western Asia, and western Africa. In the more developed regions (comprising Europe, northern America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), I found that the sex ratio of infant mortality peaked in the 1970s or 1980s and declined thereafter.
Conclusions
The methods developed here pinpoint regions and countries where sex differences in mortality merit closer examination to ensure that both sexes are sharing equally in access to health resources. Further study of the distribution of causes of death in different settings will aid the interpretation of differences in survival for boys and girls.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2000, world leaders agreed to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015. To help track progress towards this global commitment, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set. MDG 4, which aims to reduce child mortality, calls for a reduction in under-five mortality (the number of children who die before their fifth birthday) to a third of its 1990 level of 12 million by 2015. The under-five mortality rate is also denoted in the literature as U5MR and 5q0. Progress towards MDG 4 has been substantial, but with only three years left to reach it, efforts to strengthen child survival programs are intensifying. Reliable estimates of trends in childhood mortality are pivotal to these efforts. So, since 2004, the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) has used statistical regression models to produce estimates of trends in under-five mortality and infant mortality (death before age one year) from data about childbearing and child survival collected by vital registration systems (records of all births and deaths), household surveys, and censuses.
Why Was This Study Done?
In addition to estimates of overall childhood mortality trends, information about sex-specific childhood mortality trends is desirable to monitor progress towards MDG 4, although the interpretation of trends in the relative mortality of girls and boys is not straightforward. Newborn girls survive better than newborn boys because they are less vulnerable to birth complications and infections and have fewer inherited abnormalities. Thus, the ratio of infant mortality among boys to infant mortality among girls is greater than one, provided both sexes have equal access to food and medical care. Beyond early infancy, girls and boys are similarly vulnerable to infections, so the sex ratio of deaths in the 1–4-year age group is generally lower than that of infant mortality. Notably, as living conditions improve in developing countries, infectious diseases become less important as causes of death. Thus, in the absence of sex-specific differences in the treatment of children, the sex ratio of childhood mortality is expected be greater than one and to increase as overall under-five mortality rates in developing countries decrease. In this study, the researcher evaluated national and regional changes in the sex ratios of childhood mortality since the 1970s to investigate whether girls and boys have equal access to medical care and other resources.
What Did the Researcher Do and Find?
The researcher developed new statistical fitting methods to estimate trends in the sex ratio of mortality for infants and young children for individual countries and world regions. When considering individual countries, the researcher found that for 92 countries in less developed regions, the median sex ratio of under-five mortality increased between the 1970s and the 2000s, in line with the expected changes just described. However, the average sex ratio of under-five mortality for less developed regions, weighted according to the number of births in each country, did not increase between the 1970s and 2000s, at which time the average under-five mortality rate of boys was about 2% higher than that of girls. This discrepancy resulted from India and China—the two most populous developing countries—having sex ratios for both infant and under-five mortality that remained constant or declined over the study period and were below one in the 2000s, a result that indicates excess female mortality. In China, for example, infant mortality was found to be 12% higher for boys than for girls in the 1970s, but 24% lower for boys than for girls in the 2000s. Finally, although in the less developed regions (excluding India and China) girls went from having a slight survival disadvantage at ages 1–4 years in the 1970s, on average, to having a slight advantage in the 2000s, girls remained more likely to die than boys in this age group in several Asian and African countries.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the quality of the available data is likely to affect the accuracy of these findings, in most developing countries the ratio of male to female under-five mortality has increased since the 1970s, in parallel with the decrease in overall childhood mortality. Notably, however, in a number of developing countries—including several each in sub-Saharan Africa, northern Africa/western Asia, and southern Asia—girls have higher mortality than boys at ages 1–4 years, and in India and China girls have higher mortality in infancy. Thus, girls are benefitting less than boys from the overall decline in childhood mortality in India, China, and some other developing countries. Further studies are needed to determine the underlying reasons for this observation. Nevertheless, the methods developed here to estimate trends in sex-specific childhood mortality pinpoint countries and regions where greater efforts should be made to ensure that both sexes have equal access to health care and other important resources during early life.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001287.
This paper is part of a collection of papers on Child Mortality Estimation Methods published in PLOS Medicine
The United Nations Childrens Fund works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4, and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including a description of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation; the 2011 UN IGME report Levels & Trends in Child Mortality is available
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
A 2011 report by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs entitled Sex Differentials in Childhood Mortality is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001287
PMCID: PMC3429399  PMID: 22952433
20.  Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men Who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e452.
Background
Street-based heroin injectors represent an especially vulnerable population group subject to negative health outcomes and social stigma. Effective clinical treatment and public health intervention for this population requires an understanding of their cultural environment and experiences. Social science theory and methods offer tools to understand the reasons for economic and ethnic disparities that cause individual suffering and stress at the institutional level.
Methods and Findings
We used a cross-methodological approach that incorporated quantitative, clinical, and ethnographic data collected by two contemporaneous long-term San Francisco studies, one epidemiological and one ethnographic, to explore the impact of ethnicity on street-based heroin-injecting men 45 years of age or older who were self-identified as either African American or white. We triangulated our ethnographic findings by statistically examining 14 relevant epidemiological variables stratified by median age and ethnicity. We observed significant differences in social practices between self-identified African Americans and whites in our ethnographic social network sample with respect to patterns of (1) drug consumption; (2) income generation; (3) social and institutional relationships; and (4) personal health and hygiene. African Americans and whites tended to experience different structural relationships to their shared condition of addiction and poverty. Specifically, this generation of San Francisco injectors grew up as the children of poor rural to urban immigrants in an era (the late 1960s through 1970s) when industrial jobs disappeared and heroin became fashionable. This was also when violent segregated inner city youth gangs proliferated and the federal government initiated its “War on Drugs.” African Americans had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families. Most of the whites were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime. These historical-structural conditions generated distinct presentations of self. Whites styled themselves as outcasts, defeated by addiction. They professed to be injecting heroin to stave off “dopesickness” rather than to seek pleasure. African Americans, in contrast, cast their physical addiction as an oppositional pursuit of autonomy and pleasure. They considered themselves to be professional outlaws and rejected any appearance of abjection. Many, but not all, of these ethnographic findings were corroborated by our epidemiological data, highlighting the variability of behaviors within ethnic categories.
Conclusions
Bringing quantitative and qualitative methodologies and perspectives into a collaborative dialog among cross-disciplinary researchers highlights the fact that clinical practice must go beyond simple racial or cultural categories. A clinical social science approach provides insights into how sociocultural processes are mediated by historically rooted and institutionally enforced power relations. Recognizing the logical underpinnings of ethnically specific behavioral patterns of street-based injectors is the foundation for cultural competence and for successful clinical relationships. It reduces the risk of suboptimal medical care for an exceptionally vulnerable and challenging patient population. Social science approaches can also help explain larger-scale patterns of health disparities; inform new approaches to structural and institutional-level public health initiatives; and enable clinicians to take more leadership in changing public policies that have negative health consequences.
Bourgois and colleagues found that the African American and white men in their study had a different pattern of drug use and risk behaviors, adopted different strategies for survival, and had different personal histories.
Editors' Summary
Background.
There are stark differences in the health of different ethnic groups in America. For example, the life expectancy for white men is 75.4 years, but it is only 69.2 years for African-American men. The reasons behind these disparities are unclear, though there are several possible explanations. Perhaps, for example, different ethnic groups are treated differently by health professionals (with some groups receiving poorer quality health care). Or maybe the health disparities are due to differences across ethnic groups in income level (we know that richer people are healthier). These disparities are likely to persist unless we gain a better understanding of how they arise.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to study the health of a very vulnerable community of people: heroin users living on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health status of this community is extremely poor, and its members are highly stigmatized—including by health professionals themselves. The researchers wanted to know whether African American men and white men who live on the streets have a different pattern of drug use, whether they adopt varying strategies for survival, and whether they have different personal histories. Knowledge of such differences would help the health community to provide more tailored and culturally appropriate interventions. Physicians, nurses, and social workers often treat street-based drug users, especially in emergency rooms and free clinics. These health professionals regularly report that their interactions with street-based drug users are frustrating and confrontational. The researchers hoped that their study would help these professionals to have a better understanding of the cultural backgrounds and motivations of their drug-using patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Over the course of six years, the researchers directly observed about 70 men living on the streets who injected heroin as they went about their usual lives (this type of research is called “participant observation”). The researchers specifically looked to see whether there were differences between the white and African American men. All the men gave their consent to be studied in this way and to be photographed. The researchers also studied a database of interviews with almost 7,000 injection drug users conducted over five years, drawing out the data on differences between white and African men. The researchers found that the white men were more likely to supplement their heroin use with inexpensive fortified wine, while African American men were more likely to supplement heroin with crack. Most of the white men were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime, and these men tended to consider themselves as destitute outcasts. African American men had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families, and these men tended to consider themselves as professional outlaws. The white men persevered less in attempting to find a vein in which to inject heroin, and so were more likely to inject the drug directly under the skin—this meant that they were more likely to suffer from skin abscesses. The white men generated most of their income from panhandling (begging for money), while the African American men generated most of their income through petty crime and/or through offering services such as washing car windows at gas stations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Among street-based heroin users, there are important differences between white men and African American men in the type of drugs used, the method of drug use, their social backgrounds, the way in which they identify themselves, and the health risks that they take. By understanding these differences, health professionals should be better placed to provide tailored and appropriate care when these men present to clinics and emergency rooms. As the researchers say, “understanding of different ethnic populations of drug injectors may reduce difficult clinical interactions and resultant physician frustration while improving patient access and adherence to care.” One limitation of this study is that the researchers studied one specific community in one particular area of the US—so we should not assume that their findings would apply to street-based heroin users elsewhere.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030452.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a web page on HIV prevention among injection drug users
The World Health Organization has collected documents on reducing the risk of HIV in injection drug users and on harm reduction approaches
The International Harm Reduction Association has information relevant to a global audience on reducing drug-related harm among individuals and communities
US-focused information on harm reduction is available via the websites of the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Chicago Recovery Alliance
Canada-focused information can be found at the Street Works Web site
The Harm Reduction Journal publishes open-access articles
The CDC has a web page on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities
The Drug Policy Alliance has a web page on drug policy in the United States
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030452
PMCID: PMC1621100  PMID: 17076569
21.  How do hospitalised patients with Turkish migration background estimate their language skills and their comprehension of medical information – a prospective cross-sectional study and comparison to native patients in Germany to assess the language barrier and the need for translation 
Background
Today more than two million people with Turkish migration background live in Germany making them the largest ethnic minority in the country. Data concerning language skills and the perception of medical information in hospitalised patients with Turkish migration background (T) are scarce. Our study is the first to gather quantitative information on this important subject.
Methods
T and hospitalised German patients without migration background (G) of our university hospital were prospectively included into a cross-sectional study and completed a questionnaire - each group in the appropriate language (T: Turkish, G: German).
Results
121 T and 121 G were included. Groups significantly differed in age (T: 44.9 ± 17.8, G: 56.9 ± 16.7y) and proportion of males (T: 37.2, G: 54.5%) but not regarding the proportion of college graduates (T: 19.3, G: 15.7%). The majority of T was born in Turkey (71%) and is of Turkish nationality (66%). 74% of T speak mainly Turkish at home; however, 73% speak German at work. 74.4% of T self-rated their German linguistic proficiency as “average” or better while 25.6% reported it as “very bad” or “bad”. 10.7% of T need translation in order to pursue everyday activities. T were significantly less satisfied with the physician’s information on disease and estimated to understand significantly less of what the physician told them: 46.3% of T estimated their reception of the physician’s information to be “average” or worse. 43.3% of T had the impression that it would have helped them “much” or “very much” to be aided by an interpreter at the hospital. The information transmitted while giving informed consent to invasive medical procedure was judged to be “mostly” or “completely” sufficient by the majority of T (76%) and G (89.8%). In this setting 37 of 96 T (38.5%) reported being helped by an interpreter – in most cases (64.9%) a family member.
Conclusion
Although the majority of patients with Turkish migration background have spent most of their lives in Germany (28.94 ± 10.41y) a large part of this population has limited German language skills and difficulties obtaining medical information when hospitalised.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-196
PMCID: PMC3701570  PMID: 23710582
Language barrier; Language skills; Turkish migration background; Turkish migrants; Germany; University hospital; Translation; Interpreter; Provision of information; Invasive procedures; Consent to treatment; School education; Hospitalised patients
22.  Whole genome sequence comparison of vtx2-converting phages from Enteroaggregative Haemorrhagic Escherichia coli strains 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):574.
Background
Enteroaggregative Haemorrhagic E. coli (EAHEC) is a new pathogenic group of E. coli characterized by the presence of a vtx2-phage integrated in the genomic backbone of Enteroaggregative E. coli (EAggEC). So far, four distinct EAHEC serotypes have been described that caused, beside the large outbreak of infection occurred in Germany in 2011, a small outbreak and six sporadic cases of HUS in the time span 1992–2012. In the present work we determined the whole genome sequence of the vtx2-phage, termed Phi-191, present in the first described EAHEC O111:H2 isolated in France in 1992 and compared it with those of the vtx-phages whose sequences were available.
Results
The whole genome sequence of the Phi-191 phage was identical to that of the vtx2-phage P13374 present in the EAHEC O104:H4 strain isolated during the German outbreak 20 years later. Moreover, it was also almost identical to those of the other vtx2-phages of EAHEC O104:H4 strains described so far. Conversely, the Phi-191 phage appeared to be different from the vtx2-phage carried by the EAHEC O111:H21 isolated in the Northern Ireland in 2012.
The comparison of the vtx2-phages sequences from EAHEC strains with those from the vtx-phages of typical Verocytotoxin-producing E. coli strains showed the presence of a 900 bp sequence uniquely associated with EAHEC phages and encoding a tail fiber.
Conclusions
At least two different vtx2-phages, both characterized by the presence of a peculiar tail fiber-coding gene, intervened in the emergence of EAHEC. The finding of an identical vtx2-phage in two EAggEC strains isolated after 20 years in spite of the high variability described for vtx-phages is unexpected and suggests that such vtx2-phages are kept under a strong selective pressure.
The observation that different EAHEC infections have been traced back to countries where EAggEC infections are endemic and the treatment of human sewage is often ineffective suggests that such countries may represent the cradle for the emergence of the EAHEC pathotype. In these regions, EAggEC of human origin can extensively contaminate the environment where they can meet free vtx-phages likely spread by ruminants excreta.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-574) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-574
PMCID: PMC4122784  PMID: 25001858
Enteroaggregative haemorrhagic E. coli; vtx-phages; Whole genome sequence; Tail fibers
23.  “Efforts to Reprioritise the Agenda” in China: British American Tobacco's Efforts to Influence Public Policy on Secondhand Smoke in China 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e251.
Background
Each year, 540 million Chinese are exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS), resulting in more than 100,000 deaths. Smoke-free policies have been demonstrated to decrease overall cigarette consumption, encourage smokers to quit, and protect the health of nonsmokers. However, restrictions on smoking in China remain limited and ineffective. Internal tobacco industry documents show that transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) have pursued a multifaceted strategy for undermining the adoption of restrictions on smoking in many countries.
Methods and Findings
To understand company activities in China related to SHS, we analyzed British American Tobacco's (BAT's) internal corporate documents produced in response to litigation against the major cigarette manufacturers to understand company activities in China related to SHS. BAT has carried out an extensive strategy to undermine the health policy agenda on SHS in China by attempting to divert public attention from SHS issues towards liver disease prevention, pushing the so-called “resocialisation of smoking” accommodation principles, and providing “training” for industry, public officials, and the media based on BAT's corporate agenda that SHS is an insignificant contributor to the larger issue of air pollution.
Conclusions
The public health community in China should be aware of the tactics previously used by TTCs, including efforts by the tobacco industry to co-opt prominent Chinese benevolent organizations, when seeking to enact stronger restrictions on smoking in public places.
Monique Muggli and colleagues study British American Tobacco (BAT) internal documents and find that from the mid 1990s BAT pursued a strategy aimed at influencing the public debate on secondhand smoke in China.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Each year, about one million people die in China from tobacco-caused diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. Although most of these deaths occur among smokers—300 million people smoke in China, accounting for one-third of the global “consumption” of cigarettes—more than 100,000 deaths from tobacco-related causes occur annually among the 540 million Chinese people who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke contains 4,000 known chemicals, 69 of which are known or probable carcinogens, and, when it is produced in enclosed spaces, both smokers and nonsmokers are exposed to its harmful effects. The only effective way to reduce tobacco smoke exposure indoors to acceptable levels is to implement 100% smoke-free environments—ventilation, filtration, and the provision of segregated areas for smokers and nonsmokers are insufficient. Importantly, as well as protecting nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, the implementation of smoke-free public places also reduces the number of cigarettes smoked among continuing smokers, increases the likelihood of smokers quitting, and reduces the chances of young people taking up smoking.
Why Was This Study Done?
Article 8 of the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC; an international public-health treaty that seeks to reduce tobacco-caused death and disease) calls on countries party to the treaty to protect their citizens from secondhand smoke exposure. China became a party to the FCTC in 2005 but restrictions on smoking in public places in China remain limited and ineffective. Previous analyses of internal tobacco industry documents have revealed that transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) have used a multifaceted approach to undermine the adoption of restrictions on smoking in many countries. TTCs have been shown to influence media coverage of secondhand smoke issues and to promote ineffective ventilation and separate smoking and nonsmoking areas in restaurants, bars, and hotels (so-called “resocalization of smoking” accommodation principles) with the aim of undermining smoke-free legislation. In addition, TTCs have created organizations interested in non-tobacco-related diseases to draw attention away from the public-health implications of secondhand smoke. In this study, the researchers ask whether TTCs have used a similar approach to undermine the adoption of restrictions on smoking in China, one of the most coveted cigarette markets in the world by the major TTCs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed internal corporate documents produced by British American Tobacco (BAT; the predominant TTC in China) in response to litigation against major cigarette manufacturers stored in document depositories in Minnesota, USA and Guildford, UK. Among these documents, they found evidence that BAT had attempted to divert attention from secondhand smoke issues toward liver disease prevention by funding the Beijing Liver Foundation (BFL) from its inception in 1997 until at least 2002 (the most recent year that BAT's corporate records are available for public review). The researchers also found evidence that BAT had promoted “resocialization of smoking” accommodation principles as a “route to avoid smoking bans” and pushed ventilation and air filtration in airports and in establishments serving food and drink. Finally, the researchers found evidence that BAT had sought to “present the message that ‘tobacco smoke is just one of the sources of air polution [sic] and a very insignificant one compared with other pollutants'” through presentations given to the Chinese tobacco industry and media seminars aimed at Chinese journalists.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, beginning in the mid 1990s and continuing until at least 2002, BAT has followed an intensive, multi-pronged strategy designed to undermine the health policy agenda on secondhand smoke in China. Given their findings, the researchers suggest that BFL and other charitable organizations in China must be wary of accepting tobacco money and that measures must be taken to improve the transparency and accountability of these and other public organizations. To meet FCTC obligations under Article 5.3 (industry interference), policy makers in China, they suggest, must be made aware of how BAT and other TTCs have repeatedly sought to influence health policy in China by focusing attention toward the adoption of ineffective air filtration and ventilation systems in hospitality venues rather than the implementation of 100% smoke-free environments. Finally, Chinese policy makers and the media need to be better informed about BAT's long-standing attempts to communicate misleading messages to them about the health effects of secondhand smoke.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050251.
The World Health Organization's Regional Office for the Western Pacific provides smoking statistics for China and other countries in the region
The World Health Organization provides information on the health problems associated with secondhand smoke, about its Tobacco Free Initiative (available in several languages), and about the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (also available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to information about the dangers of secondhand smoke (available in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Smokefree Web site provides information about the advantages of giving up smoking, how to give up smoking, and the dangers associated with secondhand smoke
British American Tobacco documents stored in the Minnesota and Guildford Depositories, including those analyzed in this study, can be searched through the British American Tobacco Documents Archive
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050251
PMCID: PMC2605899  PMID: 19108603
24.  What is Basic Research? Insights from Historical Semantics 
Minerva  2014;52(3):273-328.
For some years now, the concept of basic research has been under attack. Yet although the significance of the concept is in doubt, basic research continues to be used as an analytical category in science studies. But what exactly is basic research? What is the difference between basic and applied research? This article seeks to answer these questions by applying historical semantics. I argue that the concept of basic research did not arise out of the tradition of pure science. On the contrary, this new concept emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when scientists were being confronted with rising expectations regarding the societal utility of science. Scientists used the concept in order to try to bridge the gap between the promise of utility and the uncertainty of scientific endeavour. Only after 1945, when United States science policy shaped the notion of basic research, did the concept revert to the older ideals of pure science. This revival of the purity discourse was caused by the specific historical situation in the US at that time: the need to reform federal research policy after the Second World War, the new dimension of ethical dilemmas in science and technology during the atomic era, and the tense political climate during the Cold War.
doi:10.1007/s11024-014-9255-0
PMCID: PMC4141150  PMID: 25165404
Basic research; Applied research; Pure science; Applied science; Historical semantics; Science policy; History of science; Germany; United States of America; 19th century; 20th century; Uncertainty
25.  Linguistic validation of translation of the self-assessment goal achievement (saga) questionnaire from English 
Background
A linguistic validation of the Self-Assessment Goal Achievement (SAGA) questionnaire was conducted for 12 European languages, documenting that each translation adequately captures the concepts of the original English-language version of the questionnaire and is readily understood by subjects in the target population.
Methods
Native-speaking residents of the target countries who reported urinary problems/lower urinary tract problems were asked to review a translation of the SAGA questionnaire, which was harmonized among 12 languages: Danish, Dutch, English (UK), Finnish, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, and Swedish. During a cognitive debriefing interview, participants were asked to identify any words that were difficult to understand and explain in their own words the meaning of each sentence in the questionnaire. The qualitative analysis was conducted by local linguistic validation teams (original translators, back translator, project manager, interviewer, and survey research expert).
Results
Translations of the SAGA questionnaire from English to 12 European languages were well understood by the participants with an overall comprehension rate across language of 98.9%. In addition, the translations retained the original meaning of the SAGA items and instructions. Comprehension difficulties were identified, and after review by the translation team, minor changes were made to 7 of the 12 translations to improve clarity and comprehension.
Conclusions
Conceptual, semantic, and cultural equivalence of each translation of the SAGA questionnaire was achieved thus confirming linguistic validation.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-10-40
PMCID: PMC3349573  PMID: 22525050
SAGA; Validation; Lower urinary tract symptoms; Overactive bladder; Goal achievement; Patient-reported questionnaire

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