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1.  Muscle-Strengthening and Conditioning Activities and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study in Two Cohorts of US Women 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001587.
Anders Grøntved and colleagues examined whether women who perform muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities have an associated reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
It is well established that aerobic physical activity can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but whether muscle-strengthening activities are beneficial for the prevention of T2D is unclear. This study examined the association of muscle-strengthening activities with the risk of T2D in women.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively followed up 99,316 middle-aged and older women for 8 years from the Nurses' Health Study ([NHS] aged 53–81 years, 2000–2008) and Nurses' Health Study II ([NHSII] aged 36–55 years, 2001–2009), who were free of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases at baseline. Participants reported weekly time spent on resistance exercise, lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises (yoga, stretching, toning), and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at baseline and in 2004/2005. Cox regression with adjustment for major determinants for T2D was carried out to examine the influence of these types of activities on T2D risk. During 705,869 person years of follow-up, 3,491 incident T2D cases were documented. In multivariable adjusted models including aerobic MVPA, the pooled relative risk (RR) for T2D for women performing 1–29, 30–59, 60–150, and >150 min/week of total muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities was 0.83, 0.93, 0.75, and 0.60 compared to women reporting no muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (p<0.001 for trend). Furthermore, resistance exercise and lower intensity muscular conditioning exercises were each independently associated with lower risk of T2D in pooled analyses. Women who engaged in at least 150 min/week of aerobic MVPA and at least 60 min/week of muscle-strengthening activities had substantial risk reduction compared with inactive women (pooled RR = 0.33 [95% CI 0.29–0.38]). Limitations to the study include that muscle-strengthening and conditioning activity and other types of physical activity were assessed by a self-administered questionnaire and that the study population consisted of registered nurses with mostly European ancestry.
Conclusions
Our study suggests that engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities (resistance exercise, yoga, stretching, toning) is associated with a lower risk of T2D. Engagement in both aerobic MVPA and muscle-strengthening type activity is associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of T2D in middle-aged and older women.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than 370 million people have diabetes mellitus, a disorder characterized by poor glycemic control—dangerously high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas. In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes), blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing excess sugar from the blood become less responsive to insulin. Type 2 diabetes, which was previously known as adult-onset diabetes, can often initially be controlled with diet and exercise, and with antidiabetic drugs such as metformin and sulfonylureas. However, as the disease progresses, the pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin, become impaired and patients may eventually need insulin injections. Long-term complications of diabetes, which include an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly common worldwide so better preventative strategies are essential. It is well-established that regular aerobic exercise—physical activity in which the breathing and heart rate increase noticeably such as jogging, brisk walking, and swimming—lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. The World Health Organization currently recommends that adults should do at least 150 min/week of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity to reduce the risk of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases. It also recommends that adults should undertake muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities such as weight training and yoga on two or more days a week. However, although studies have shown that muscle-strengthening activity improves glycemic control in people who already have diabetes, it is unclear whether this form of exercise prevents diabetes. In this prospective cohort study (a study in which disease development is followed up over time in a group of people whose characteristics are recorded at baseline), the researchers investigated the association of muscle-strengthening activities with the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers followed up nearly 100,000 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII), two prospective US investigations into risk factors for chronic diseases in women, for 8 years. The women provided information on weekly participation in muscle-strengthening exercise (for example, weight training), lower intensity muscle-conditioning exercises (for example, yoga and toning), and aerobic moderate and vigorous physical activity (aerobic MVPA) at baseline and 4 years later. During the study 3,491 women developed diabetes. After allowing for major risk factors for type 2 diabetes (for example, diet and a family history of diabetes) and for aerobic MVPA, compared to women who did no muscle-strengthening or conditioning exercise, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among women declined with increasing participation in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activity. Notably, women who did more than 150 min/week of these types of exercise had 40% lower risk of developing diabetes as women who did not exercise in this way at all. Muscle-strengthening and muscle-conditioning exercise were both independently associated with reduced diabetes risk, and women who engaged in at least 150 min/week of aerobic MVPA and at least 60 min/week of muscle-strengthening exercise were a third as likely to develop diabetes as inactive women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among the women enrolled in NHS and NHSII, engagement in muscle-strengthening and conditioning activities lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes independent of aerobic MVPA. That is, non-aerobic exercise provided protection against diabetes in women who did no aerobic exercise. Importantly, they also show that doing both aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening exercise substantially reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. Because nearly all the participants in NHS and NHSII were of European ancestry, these results may not be generalizable to women of other ethnic backgrounds. Moreover, the accuracy of these findings may be limited by the use of self-administered questionnaires to determine how much exercise the women undertook. Nevertheless, these findings support the inclusion of muscle-strengthening and conditioning exercises in strategies designed to prevent type 2 diabetes in women, a conclusion that is consistent with current guidelines for physical activity among adults.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001587.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals and the general public, including information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes and explains the benefits of regular physical activity
The World Health Organization provides information about diabetes and about physical activity and health (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health are available in several languages
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on physical activity for different age groups; its Physical Activity for Everyone web pages include guidelines, instructional videos and personal success stories
More information about the Nurses Health Study and the Nurses Health Study II is available
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and about physical exercise and fitness (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001587
PMCID: PMC3891575  PMID: 24453948
2.  Event Rates, Hospital Utilization, and Costs Associated with Major Complications of Diabetes: A Multicountry Comparative Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(2):e1000236.
Philip Clarke and colleagues examined patient-level data for over 11,000 participants with type 2 diabetes from 20 countries and find that major complications of diabetes significantly increased hospital use and costs across settings.
Background
Diabetes imposes a substantial burden globally in terms of premature mortality, morbidity, and health care costs. Estimates of economic outcomes associated with diabetes are essential inputs to policy analyses aimed at prevention and treatment of diabetes. Our objective was to estimate and compare event rates, hospital utilization, and costs associated with major diabetes-related complications in high-, middle-, and low-income countries.
Methods and Findings
Incidence and history of diabetes-related complications, hospital admissions, and length of stay were recorded in 11,140 patients with type 2 diabetes participating in the Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease (ADVANCE) study (mean age at entry 66 y). The probability of hospital utilization and number of days in hospital for major events associated with coronary disease, cerebrovascular disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, and nephropathy were estimated for three regions (Asia, Eastern Europe, and Established Market Economies) using multiple regression analysis. The resulting estimates of days spent in hospital were multiplied by regional estimates of the costs per hospital bed-day from the World Health Organization to compute annual acute and long-term costs associated with the different types of complications. To assist, comparability, costs are reported in international dollars (Int$), which represent a hypothetical currency that allows for the same quantities of goods or services to be purchased regardless of country, standardized on purchasing power in the United States. A cost calculator accompanying this paper enables the estimation of costs for individual countries and translation of these costs into local currency units. The probability of attending a hospital following an event was highest for heart failure (93%–96% across regions) and lowest for nephropathy (15%–26%). The average numbers of days in hospital given at least one admission were greatest for stroke (17–32 d across region) and heart failure (16–31 d) and lowest for nephropathy (12–23 d). Considering regional differences, probabilities of hospitalization were lowest in Asia and highest in Established Market Economies; on the other hand, lengths of stay were highest in Asia and lowest in Established Market Economies. Overall estimated annual hospital costs for patients with none of the specified events or event histories ranged from Int$76 in Asia to Int$296 in Established Market Economies. All complications included in this analysis led to significant increases in hospital costs; coronary events, cerebrovascular events, and heart failure were the most costly, at more than Int$1,800, Int$3,000, and Int$4,000 in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Established Market Economies, respectively.
Conclusions
Major complications of diabetes significantly increase hospital use and costs across various settings and are likely to impose a high economic burden on health care systems.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, nearly 250 million people have diabetes, and this number is increasing rapidly. Diabetes is characterized by dangerous amounts of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Blood sugar control fails in people with diabetes because they make no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or, more commonly, because the fat and muscle cells that usually respond to insulin by removing excess sugar from the blood have become insulin insensitive (type 2 diabetes). Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and controlled by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. It can also be treated with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that increase insulin sensitivity. Major long-term complications of diabetes include kidney failure and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, and problems with the blood vessels in the arms and legs. Because of these complications, the life expectancy of people with diabetes is about ten years shorter than that of people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Diabetes imposes considerable demands on health care systems but little is known about the direct medical costs associated with treating this chronic disease in low- and middle-income countries where more than three-quarters of affected people live. In particular, although estimates have been made of the overall resources devoted to the treatment of diabetes, very little is known about how the different long-term complications of diabetes contribute to health care costs in different countries. Public-health experts and governments need this information to help them design effective and sustainable policies for the prevention and treatment of diabetes. In this study, the researchers estimate the resource use associated with diabetes-related complications in three economic regions using information collected in the Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease (ADVANCE) study. This multinational clinical trial is investigating how drugs that control blood pressure and blood sugar levels affect the long-term complications of diabetes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recorded diabetes-related complications, hospital admissions for these complications, and length of hospital stays in 11,140 patients with severe diabetes from 20 countries who participated in the ADVANCE study. They used “multiple regression analysis” to estimate the number of days spent in hospital for diabetes-related complications in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Established Market Economies (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several Western European countries). Finally, they calculated the economic costs of each complication using regional estimates of the costs per bed-day from the World Health Organization's CHOICE project (CHOosing Interventions that are Cost Effective). Nearly everyone in the study who developed heart failure attended a hospital, but only 15%–26% of people attended a hospital for kidney problems. The chances of hospitalization for any complication were lowest in Asia and highest in the Established Market Economies; conversely, lengths of stay were longest in Asia and shortest in the Established Market Economies. Finally, the estimated annual hospital costs for patients who had a coronary event, stroke, or heart failure were more than Int$1,800, Int$3,000, and Int$4,000 in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Established Market Economies, respectively (the international dollar, Int$, is a hypothetical currency that has the same purchasing power in all countries), compared to Int$76, Int$156, and Int$296 for patients who experienced none of these events.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Because the ADVANCE trial had strict entry criteria, the findings of this study may not be generalizable to the broader population of people with diabetes. Nevertheless, given the lack of information about the costs associated with diabetes-related complications in low- and middle-income countries, these findings provide important new information about the patterns of hospital resource use and costs in these countries. Specifically, these findings show that the major complications of diabetes greatly increase hospital use and costs in all three economic regions considered and impose a high economic burden on health care systems that is likely to increase as the diabetes epidemic develops. Importantly, these findings should help policy makers anticipate the future health care costs associated with diabetes and should help them evaluate which therapies aimed at preventing diabetes-related complications will reduce these costs most effectively.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000236.
The International Diabetes Federation provides information about all aspects of diabetes
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides detailed information about diabetes for patients, health care professionals, and the general public (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service also provides information for patients and caregivers about type 2 diabetes (in several languages)
Information about the ADVANCE study is available
The World Health Organization's CHOICE Web site provides information about the analysis of the cost effectiveness of health care interventions
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000236
PMCID: PMC2826379  PMID: 20186272
3.  Effect of Physical Inactivity on the Oxidation of Saturated and Monounsaturated Dietary Fatty Acids: Results of a Randomized Trial  
PLoS Clinical Trials  2006;1(5):e27.
Objectives:
Changes in the way dietary fat is metabolized can be considered causative in obesity. The role of sedentary behavior in this defect has not been determined. We hypothesized that physical inactivity partitions dietary fats toward storage and that a resistance exercise training program mitigates storage.
Design:
We used bed rest, with randomization to resistance training, as a model of physical inactivity.
Setting:
The trial took place at the Space Clinic (Toulouse, France).
Participants:
A total of 18 healthy male volunteers, of mean age ± standard deviation 32.6 ± 4.0 y and body mass index 23.6 ± 0.7 kg/m2, were enrolled.
Interventions:
An initial 15 d of baseline data collection were followed by 3 mo of strict bed-rest alone (control group, n = 9) or with the addition of supine resistance exercise training every 3 d (exercise group, n = 9).
Outcome measures:
Oxidation of labeled [d31]palmitate (the main saturated fatty acid of human diet) and [1-13C]oleate (the main monounsaturated fatty acid), body composition, net substrate use, and plasma hormones and metabolites were measured.
Results:
Between-group comparisons showed that exercise training did not affect oxidation of both oleate (mean difference 5.6%; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], −3.3% to 14.5%; p = 0.20) and palmitate (mean difference −0.2%; 95% CI, −4.1% to 3.6%; p = 0.89). Within-group comparisons, however, showed that inactivity changed oxidation of palmitate in the control group by −11.0% (95% CI, −19.0% to −2.9%; p = 0.01) and in the exercise group by −11.3% (95% CI, −18.4% to −4.2%; p = 0.008). In contrast, bed rest did not significantly affect oleate oxidation within groups. In the control group, the mean difference in oleate oxidation was 3.2% (95% CI, −4.2% to 10.5%; p = 0.34) and 6.8% (95% CI, −1.2% to 14.7%; p = 0.08) in the exercise group.
Conclusions:
Independent of changes in energy balance (intake and/or output), physical inactivity decreased the oxidation of saturated but not monounsaturated dietary fat. The effect is apparently not compensated by resistance exercise training. These results suggest that Mediterranean diets should be recommended in sedentary subjects and recumbent patients.
Editorial Commentary
Background: Obesity is an important contributor to the burden of chronic diseases, particularly type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke. Being inactive is a risk factor for all of these conditions. However, the physiological effects of inactivity are not well understood. In this trial, supported by the European Space Agency, a group of researchers aimed to further understand the effects of physical inactivity on the way that fat from the diet is metabolized (i.e., broken down to generate energy). 18 healthy male volunteers were randomized into two groups, both of whom underwent 90 days of bed rest, aiming to mimic sedentary behavior. One group also received an exercise training program during the 90 days' bed rest. The researchers examined to what extent two different types of fatty acids common in the diet were metabolized over the duration of the trial: oleate (monounsaturated fat) and palmitate (saturated fat). As secondary objectives of the study, body weight, water, fat, and energy expenditure were also examined in the participants.
What this trial shows: The researchers did not see any statistically significant changes between the groups—that is, participants receiving bed rest, and those receiving bed rest plus exercise training—for any of the primary or secondary outcomes, except for resting metabolic rate, which was higher in the exercise group. However, they did see physiologically relevant changes in fat metabolism of one of the fatty acids, palmitate, over the course of the trial within both groups studied. Although metabolism of oleate (monounsaturated fat) did not show significant changes over the course of the trial, metabolism of palmitate (saturated fat) dropped by nearly 10% in both groups (bed rest, and bed rest plus exercise).
Strengths and limitations: The study design was appropriate to the questions being posed, and the techniques for examining fat metabolism were relevant. Although the number of participants was very small, this problem is true of many such studies due to the cost and complexity of the interventions. The model for inactivity used in this trial—90 days' bed rest—is very extreme. Very few studies of this type have been performed, with most of the evidence relating to activity and fat handling coming from training studies in otherwise sedentary people.
Contribution to the evidence: It is already known that physical activity has numerous health benefits, including the prevention of obesity. This trial provides data showing that inactivity lowers the ability to metabolize fat, specifically saturated fat, from the diet, which would therefore be more likely to be stored in the body.
doi:10.1371/journal.pctr.0010027
PMCID: PMC1584255  PMID: 17016547
4.  Aerobic neuromuscular electrical stimulation—an emerging technology to improve haemoglobin A1c in type 2 diabetes mellitus: results of a pilot study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(3):e000219.
Objectives
A new generation of neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) devices can exercise aerobically at equivalent rates to voluntary exercise. Many with type 2 diabetes cannot or will not exercise sufficiently. The objective of this pilot investigation was to see (1) if it was an acceptable training modality for men with type 2 diabetes mellitus and (2) to assess effects on haemoglobin A1c levels.
Design, setting, participants and intervention
A case series of eight men with type 2 diabetes mellitus (aged 53±8; body mass index 32±5 5 kg/m2) trained with the NMES system for 1 h 6 times weekly for 8 weeks, unsupervised, at home. There were no other medication or lifestyle interventions. The aerobic NMES exercise system delivers a repeating set of four complex staggered pulses at high intensities (typically 100 mA+) through an array of eight thigh electrodes.
Outcome measures
The primary outcome measures were changes in haemoglobin A1c and the responses in a questionnaire on participants' perceptions of the system. Body mass and composition were also measured before and after the NMES intervention period.
Results
All participants could use the system at a level that left them breathless and sweaty and with a heart rate over 120 beats per minute. Haemoglobin A1c levels improved by 0.8±0.7% from 7.4±1.3% (mean ± SD) to 6.6±1.0% (p=0.01). All participants considered the system suitable for people with diabetes, would recommend it and would continue to use it twice a week ‘to maintain improvements’.
Conclusions
These results suggest that aerobic NMES may be acceptable and have a beneficial effect on haemoglobin A1c of some men with diabetes. The treatment may be of particular benefit in those who will not or cannot do adequate amounts of voluntary exercise. A randomised control trial is required for conclusive efficacy data.
Article summary
Article focus
Advanced NMES techniques can now deliver aerobic exercise at training intensities. Improvements in aerobic fitness have been shown in the healthy, those with cardiac failure and the obese.
It was hypothesised that this could be of benefit to those with type 2 diabetes, particularly those with barriers to voluntary exercise.
A pilot study was undertaken to assess the system and its effects on HbA1c.
Key messages
All participants could use the system, unsupervised, at home, at intensities that made them sweaty and breathless.
Average improvement in HbA1c of 0.8 ± 0.7% (p=0.01) is consistent with exercise interventions.
The system may be an alternative for patients that will not or cannot undertake voluntary exercise.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The technology used is now well proven to have substantial aerobic training effects in other groups.
There were no other lifestyle interventions.
This is a small uncontrolled pilot study on a group of men who pro-actively volunteered for participation in an exercise programme. While the results are promising, it was not a randomised controlled trial, and the sample may not be representative of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000219
PMCID: PMC3378935  PMID: 22700835
5.  High Intensity Interval Training in a Real World Setting: A Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study in Overweight Inactive Adults, Measuring Change in Maximal Oxygen Uptake 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83256.
Background
In research clinic settings, overweight adults undertaking HIIT (high intensity interval training) improve their fitness as effectively as those undertaking conventional walking programs but can do so within a shorter time spent exercising. We undertook a randomized controlled feasibility (pilot) study aimed at extending HIIT into a real world setting by recruiting overweight/obese, inactive adults into a group based activity program, held in a community park.
Methods
Participants were allocated into one of three groups. The two interventions, aerobic interval training and maximal volitional interval training, were compared with an active control group undertaking walking based exercise. Supervised group sessions (36 per intervention) were held outdoors. Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured using VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake, results expressed in ml/min/kg), before and after the 12 week interventions.
Results
On ITT (intention to treat) analyses, baseline (N = 49) and exit (N = 39) O2 was 25.3±4.5 and 25.3±3.9, respectively. Participant allocation and baseline/exit VO2max by group was as follows: Aerobic interval training N =  16, 24.2±4.8/25.6±4.8; maximal volitional interval training N = 16, 25.0±2.8/25.2±3.4; walking N = 17, 26.5±5.3/25.2±3.6. The post intervention change in VO2max was +1.01 in the aerobic interval training, −0.06 in the maximal volitional interval training and −1.03 in the walking subgroups. The aerobic interval training subgroup increased VO2max compared to walking (p = 0.03). The actual (observed, rather than prescribed) time spent exercising (minutes per week, ITT analysis) was 74 for aerobic interval training, 45 for maximal volitional interval training and 116 for walking (p =  0.001). On descriptive analysis, the walking subgroup had the fewest adverse events.
Conclusions
In contrast to earlier studies, the improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness in a cohort of overweight/obese participants undertaking aerobic interval training in a real world setting was modest. The most likely reason for this finding relates to reduced adherence to the exercise program, when moving beyond the research clinic setting.
Trial Registration
ACTR.org.au ACTRN12610000295044
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083256
PMCID: PMC3890270  PMID: 24454698
6.  Effect of Exercise Training on Left Ventricular Remodeling in Diabetic Patients with Diastolic Dysfunction: Rationale and Design 
INTRODUCTION
This study will examine the effects of combined aerobic and resistance training on left ventricular remodeling in diabetic patients with diastolic dysfunction. This is the first randomized controlled trial to look for effects of combined strength training and aerobic exercise on myocardial function as well as other clinical, functional, or psychological parameters in diabetic patients with isolated diastolic dysfunction, and will provide important insights into the potential management strategies for heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS
This is a prospective, randomized controlled investigator initiated single center trial. Diabetic patients with LV diastolic dysfunction suitable for exercise training intervention will be randomized to three months of a supervised combination of aerobic and strength training exercises, or supervised light stretching (control arm). Pre and post intervention assessment will include stress echocardiography, peak aerobic power with 12-lead ECG, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, muscle strength, the capacity to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), and questionnaires to assess self-perceived quality of life and symptoms of depression. The primary endpoint is to compare any change in tissue Doppler-derived LV systolic and early diastolic velocities.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION
The current trial protocol has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Austin Health and the University of Melbourne, Melbourne. The study will be performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. The investigator, regardless of the outcome, will publish the results of the study.
TRIAL REGISTRATION
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12610000943044.
doi:10.4137/CMC.S14089
PMCID: PMC3956808  PMID: 24653649
cardiomyopathy; heart failure; echocardiography
7.  The Effectiveness of Community Action in Reducing Risky Alcohol Consumption and Harm: A Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001617.
In a cluster randomized controlled trial, Anthony Shakeshaft and colleagues measure the effectiveness of a multi-component community-based intervention for reducing alcohol-related harm.
Background
The World Health Organization, governments, and communities agree that community action is likely to reduce risky alcohol consumption and harm. Despite this agreement, there is little rigorous evidence that community action is effective: of the six randomised trials of community action published to date, all were US-based and focused on young people (rather than the whole community), and their outcomes were limited to self-report or alcohol purchase attempts. The objective of this study was to conduct the first non-US randomised controlled trial (RCT) of community action to quantify the effectiveness of this approach in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms measured using both self-report and routinely collected data.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster RCT comprising 20 communities in Australia that had populations of 5,000–20,000, were at least 100 km from an urban centre (population ≥ 100,000), and were not involved in another community alcohol project. Communities were pair-matched, and one member of each pair was randomly allocated to the experimental group. Thirteen interventions were implemented in the experimental communities from 2005 to 2009: community engagement; general practitioner training in alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI); feedback to key stakeholders; media campaign; workplace policies/practices training; school-based intervention; general practitioner feedback on their prescribing of alcohol medications; community pharmacy-based SBI; web-based SBI; Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services support for SBI; Good Sports program for sports clubs; identifying and targeting high-risk weekends; and hospital emergency department–based SBI. Primary outcomes based on routinely collected data were alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions. Routinely collected data for the entire study period (2001–2009) were obtained in 2010. Secondary outcomes based on pre- and post-intervention surveys (n = 2,977 and 2,255, respectively) were the following: long-term risky drinking, short-term high-risk drinking, short-term risky drinking, weekly consumption, hazardous/harmful alcohol use, and experience of alcohol harm. At the 5% level of statistical significance, there was insufficient evidence to conclude that the interventions were effective in the experimental, relative to control, communities for alcohol-related crime, traffic crashes, and hospital inpatient admissions, and for rates of risky alcohol consumption and hazardous/harmful alcohol use. Although respondents in the experimental communities reported statistically significantly lower average weekly consumption (1.90 fewer standard drinks per week, 95% CI = −3.37 to −0.43, p = 0.01) and less alcohol-related verbal abuse (odds ratio = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.35 to 0.96, p = 0.04) post-intervention, the low survey response rates (40% and 24% for the pre- and post-intervention surveys, respectively) require conservative interpretation. The main limitations of this study are as follows: (1) that the study may have been under-powered to detect differences in routinely collected data outcomes as statistically significant, and (2) the low survey response rates.
Conclusions
This RCT provides little evidence that community action significantly reduces risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, other than potential reductions in self-reported average weekly consumption and experience of alcohol-related verbal abuse. Complementary legislative action may be required to more effectively reduce alcohol harms.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12607000123448
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People have consumed alcoholic beverages throughout history, but alcohol use is now an increasing global public health problem. According to the World Health Organization's 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study, alcohol use is the fifth leading risk factor (after high blood pressure and smoking) for disease and is responsible for 3.9% of the global disease burden. Alcohol use contributes to heart disease, liver disease, depression, some cancers, and many other health conditions. Alcohol also affects the well-being and health of people around those who drink, through alcohol-related crimes and road traffic crashes. The impact of alcohol use on disease and injury depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and the pattern of drinking. Most guidelines define long-term risky drinking as more than four drinks per day on average for men or more than two drinks per day for women (a “drink” is, roughly speaking, a can of beer or a small glass of wine), and short-term risky drinking (also called binge drinking) as seven or more drinks on a single occasion for men or five or more drinks on a single occasion for women. However, recent changes to the Australian guidelines acknowledge that a lower level of alcohol consumption is considered risky (with lifetime risky drinking defined as more than two drinks a day and binge drinking defined as more than four drinks on one occasion).
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2010, the World Health Assembly endorsed a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. This strategy emphasizes the importance of community action–a process in which a community defines its own needs and determines the actions that are required to meet these needs. Although community action is highly acceptable to community members, few studies have looked at the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm. Here, the researchers undertake a cluster randomized controlled trial (the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities [AARC] project) to quantify the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption and harms in rural communities in Australia. A cluster randomized trial compares outcomes in clusters of people (here, communities) who receive alternative interventions assigned through the play of chance.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pair-matched 20 rural Australian communities according to the proportion of their population that was Aboriginal (rates of alcohol-related harm are disproportionately higher among Aboriginal individuals than among non-Aboriginal individuals in Australia; they are also higher among young people and males, but the proportions of these two groups across communities was comparable). They randomly assigned one member of each pair to the experimental group and implemented 13 interventions in these communities by negotiating with key individuals in each community to define and implement each intervention. Examples of interventions included general practitioner training in screening for alcohol use disorders and in implementing a brief intervention, and a school-based interactive session designed to reduce alcohol harm among young people. The researchers quantified the effectiveness of the interventions using routinely collected data on alcohol-related crime and road traffic crashes, and on hospital inpatient admissions for alcohol dependence or abuse (which were expected to increase in the experimental group if the intervention was effective because of more people seeking or being referred for treatment). They also examined drinking habits and experiences of alcohol-related harm, such as verbal abuse, among community members using pre- and post-intervention surveys. After implementation of the interventions, the rates of alcohol-related crime, road traffic crashes, and hospital admissions, and of risky and hazardous/harmful alcohol consumption (measured using a validated tool called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) were not statistically significantly different in the experimental and control communities (a difference in outcomes that is not statistically significantly different can occur by chance). However, the reported average weekly consumption of alcohol was 20% lower in the experimental communities after the intervention than in the control communities (equivalent to 1.9 fewer standard drinks per week per respondent) and there was less alcohol-related verbal abuse post-intervention in the experimental communities than in the control communities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide little evidence that community action reduced risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in rural Australian communities. Although there was some evidence of significant reductions in self-reported weekly alcohol consumption and in experiences of alcohol-related verbal abuse, these findings must be interpreted cautiously because they are based on surveys with very low response rates. A larger or differently designed study might provide statistically significant evidence for the effectiveness of community action in reducing risky alcohol consumption. However, given their findings, the researchers suggest that legislative approaches that are beyond the control of individual communities, such as alcohol taxation and restrictions on alcohol availability, may be required to effectively reduce alcohol harms. In other words, community action alone may not be the most effective way to reduce alcohol-related harm.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617.
The World Health Organization provides detailed information about alcohol; its fact sheet on alcohol includes information about the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; the Global Information System on Alcohol and Health provides further information about alcohol, including information on control policies around the world
The US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has information about alcohol and its effects on health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a website on alcohol and public health that includes information on the health risks of excessive drinking
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about drinking and alcohol, including information on the risks of drinking too much, tools for calculating alcohol consumption, and personal stories about alcohol use problems
MedlinePlus provides links to many other resources on alcohol
More information about the Alcohol Action in Rural Communities project is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001617
PMCID: PMC3949675  PMID: 24618831
8.  Osteo-cise: Strong Bones for Life: Protocol for a community-based randomised controlled trial of a multi-modal exercise and osteoporosis education program for older adults at risk of falls and fractures 
Background
Osteoporosis affects over 220 million people worldwide, and currently there is no ‘cure’ for the disease. Thus, there is a need to develop evidence-based, safe and acceptable prevention strategies at the population level that target multiple risk factors for fragility fractures to reduce the health and economic burden of the condition.
Methods/design
The Osteo-cise: Strong Bones for Life study will investigate the effectiveness and feasibility of a multi-component targeted exercise, osteoporosis education/awareness and behavioural change program for improving bone health and muscle function and reducing falls risk in community-dwelling older adults at an increased risk of fracture. Men and women aged ≥60 years will participate in an 18-month randomised controlled trial comprising a 12-month structured and supervised community-based program and a 6-month ‘research to practise’ translational phase. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the Osteo-cise intervention or a self-management control group. The intervention will comprise a multi-modal exercise program incorporating high velocity progressive resistance training, moderate impact weight-bearing exercise and high challenging balance exercises performed three times weekly at local community-based fitness centres. A behavioural change program will be used to enhance exercise adoption and adherence to the program. Community-based osteoporosis education seminars will be conducted to improve participant knowledge and understanding of the risk factors and preventative measures for osteoporosis, falls and fractures. The primary outcomes measures, to be collected at baseline, 6, 12, and 18 months, will include DXA-derived hip and spine bone mineral density measurements and functional muscle power (timed stair-climb test). Secondary outcomes measures include: MRI-assessed distal femur and proximal tibia trabecular bone micro-architecture, lower limb and back maximal muscle strength, balance and function (four square step test, functional reach test, timed up-and-go test and 30-second sit-to-stand), falls incidence and health-related quality of life. Cost-effectiveness will also be assessed.
Discussion
The findings from the Osteo-cise: Strong Bones for Life study will provide new information on the efficacy of a targeted multi-modal community-based exercise program incorporating high velocity resistance training, together with an osteoporosis education and behavioural change program for improving multiple risk factors for falls and fracture in older adults at risk of fragility fracture.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry reference ACTRN12609000100291
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-78
PMCID: PMC3544181  PMID: 22640372
Osteoporosis; High velocity resistance training; Falls prevention; Bone mineral density; Muscle function; Community program
9.  Researching Effective Strategies to Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Children and Teenagers - RESIST. A randomised control trial investigating the effects of two different diets on insulin sensitivity in young people with insulin resistance and/or pre-diabetes.  
BMC Public Health  2010;10:575.
Background
Concomitant with the rise in childhood obesity there has been a significant increase in the number of adolescents with clinical features of insulin resistance and prediabetes. Clinical insulin resistance and prediabetes are likely to progress to type 2 diabetes and early atherosclerosis if not targeted for early intervention. There are no efficacy trials of lifestyle intervention in this group to inform clinical practice. The primary aim of this randomised control trial (RCT) is to determine the efficacy and effectiveness of two different structured lifestyle interventions differing in diet composition on insulin sensitivity, in adolescents with clinical insulin resistance and/or prediabetes treated with metformin.
Methods/design
This study protocol describes the design of an ongoing RCT. We are recruiting 108 (54 each treatment arm) 10 to 17 year olds with clinical features of insulin resistance and/or prediabetes, through physician referral, into a multi-centred RCT. All participants are prescribed metformin and participate in a diet and exercise program. The lifestyle program is the same for all participants except for diet composition. The diets are a high carbohydrate, low fat diet and a moderate carbohydrate, increased protein diet.
The program commences with an intensive 3 month dietary intervention, implemented by trained dietitians, followed by a 3 month intensive gym and home based exercise program, supervised by certified physical trainers. To measure the longer term effectiveness, after the intensive intervention trial participants are managed by either their usual physician or study physician and followed up by the study dietitians for an additional 6 months. The primary outcome measure, change in insulin sensitivity, is measured at 3, 6 and 12 months.
Discussion
Clinical insulin resistance and prediabetes in the paediatric population are rapidly emerging clinical problems with serious health outcomes. With appropriate management these conditions are potentially reversible or at least their progression can be delayed. This research study is the first trial designed to provide much needed data on the effective dietary management for this cohort. This study will inform clinical practice guidelines for adolescents with clinical insulin resistance and may assist in preventing metabolic complications, type 2 diabetes and early cardiovascular disease.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registration Number ACTRN12608000416392
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-575
PMCID: PMC2955009  PMID: 20868506
10.  Cardiovascular rehabilitation soon after stroke using feedback-controlled robotics-assisted treadmill exercise: study protocol of a randomised controlled pilot trial 
Trials  2013;14:304.
Background
After experiencing a stroke, most individuals also suffer from cardiac disease, are immobile and thus have low endurance for exercise. Aerobic capacity is seriously reduced in these individuals and does not reach reasonable levels after conventional rehabilitation programmes. Cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for improvement of aerobic capacity in mild to moderate stroke. However, less is known about its impact on aerobic capacity, motor recovery, and quality-of-life in severely impaired individuals. The aim of this pilot study is to explore the clinical efficacy and feasibility of cardiovascular exercise with regard to aerobic capacity, motor recovery, and quality-of-life using feedback-controlled robotics-assisted treadmill exercise in non-ambulatory individuals soon after experiencing a stroke.
Methods/Design
This will be a single-centred single blind, randomised control trial with a pre-post intervention design. Subjects will be recruited early after their first stroke (≤20 weeks) at a neurological rehabilitation clinic and will be randomly allocated to an inpatient cardiovascular exercise programme that uses feedback-controlled robotics-assisted treadmill exercise (experimental) or to conventional robotics-assisted treadmill exercise (control). Intervention duration depends on the duration of each subject’s inpatient rehabilitation period. Aerobic capacity, as the primary outcome measure, will be assessed using feedback-controlled robotics-assisted treadmill-based cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Secondary outcome measures will include gait speed, walking endurance, standing function, and quality-of-life. Outcome assessment will be conducted at baseline, after each 4-week intervention period, and before clinical discharge. Ethical approval has been obtained.
Discussion
Whether cardiovascular exercise in non-ambulatory individuals early after stroke has an impact on aerobic capacity, motor recovery, and quality-of-life is not yet known. Feedback-controlled robotics-assisted treadmill exercise is a relatively recent intervention method and might be used to train and evaluate aerobic capacity in this population. The present pilot trial is expected to provide new insights into the implementation of early cardiovascular exercise for individuals with severe motor impairment. The findings of this study may guide future research to explore the effects of early cardiovascular activation after severe neurological events.
Trial registration
This trial is registered with the Clinical Trials.gov Registry (NCT01679600).
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-304
PMCID: PMC3849994  PMID: 24053609
Stroke; Aerobic exercise; Sub-acute; Non-ambulatory; Aerobic capacity; Robotics-assisted
11.  Long-Term Risk of Incident Type 2 Diabetes and Measures of Overall and Regional Obesity: The EPIC-InterAct Case-Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(6):e1001230.
A collaborative re-analysis of data from the InterAct case-control study conducted by Claudia Langenberg and colleagues has established that waist circumference is associated with risk of type 2 diabetes, independently of body mass index.
Background
Waist circumference (WC) is a simple and reliable measure of fat distribution that may add to the prediction of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but previous studies have been too small to reliably quantify the relative and absolute risk of future diabetes by WC at different levels of body mass index (BMI).
Methods and Findings
The prospective InterAct case-cohort study was conducted in 26 centres in eight European countries and consists of 12,403 incident T2D cases and a stratified subcohort of 16,154 individuals from a total cohort of 340,234 participants with 3.99 million person-years of follow-up. We used Prentice-weighted Cox regression and random effects meta-analysis methods to estimate hazard ratios for T2D. Kaplan-Meier estimates of the cumulative incidence of T2D were calculated. BMI and WC were each independently associated with T2D, with WC being a stronger risk factor in women than in men. Risk increased across groups defined by BMI and WC; compared to low normal weight individuals (BMI 18.5–22.4 kg/m2) with a low WC (<94/80 cm in men/women), the hazard ratio of T2D was 22.0 (95% confidence interval 14.3; 33.8) in men and 31.8 (25.2; 40.2) in women with grade 2 obesity (BMI≥35 kg/m2) and a high WC (>102/88 cm). Among the large group of overweight individuals, WC measurement was highly informative and facilitated the identification of a subgroup of overweight people with high WC whose 10-y T2D cumulative incidence (men, 70 per 1,000 person-years; women, 44 per 1,000 person-years) was comparable to that of the obese group (50–103 per 1,000 person-years in men and 28–74 per 1,000 person-years in women).
Conclusions
WC is independently and strongly associated with T2D, particularly in women, and should be more widely measured for risk stratification. If targeted measurement is necessary for reasons of resource scarcity, measuring WC in overweight individuals may be an effective strategy, since it identifies a high-risk subgroup of individuals who could benefit from individualised preventive action.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than 350 million people have diabetes, and this number is increasing rapidly. Diabetes is characterized by dangerous levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are usually controlled by insulin, a hormone that the pancreas releases after meals (digestion of food produces glucose). In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes), blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing sugar from the blood become insulin resistant. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise, and with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that make cells more sensitive to insulin. The long-term complications of diabetes, which include an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
A high body mass index (BMI, a measure of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) is a strong predictor of type 2 diabetes. Although the risk of diabetes is greatest in obese people (who have a BMI of greater than 30 kg/m2), many of the people who develop diabetes are overweight—they have a BMI of 25–30 kg/m2. Healthy eating and exercise reduce the incidence of diabetes in high-risk individuals, but it is difficult and expensive to provide all overweight and obese people with individual lifestyle advice. Ideally, a way is needed to distinguish between people with high and low risk of developing diabetes at different levels of BMI. Waist circumference is a measure of fat distribution that has the potential to quantify diabetes risk among people with different BMIs because it estimates the amount of fat around the abdominal organs, which also predicts diabetes development. In this case-cohort study, the researchers use data from the InterAct study (which is investigating how genetics and lifestyle interact to affect diabetes risk) to estimate the long-term risk of type 2 diabetes associated with BMI and waist circumference. A case-cohort study measures exposure to potential risk factors in a group (cohort) of people and compares the occurrence of these risk factors in people who later develop the disease and in a randomly chosen subcohort.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers estimated the association of BMI and waist circumference with type 2 diabetes from baseline measurements of the weight, height, and waist circumference of 12,403 people who subsequently developed type 2 diabetes and a subcohort of 16,154 participants enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Both risk factors were independently associated with type 2 diabetes risk, but waist circumference was a stronger risk factor in women than in men. Obese men (BMI greater than 35 kg/m2) with a high waist circumference (greater than 102 cm) were 22 times more likely to develop diabetes than men with a low normal weight (BMI 18.5–22.4 kg/m2) and a low waist circumference (less than 94 cm); obese women with a waist circumference of more than 88 cm were 31.8 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women with a low normal weight and waist circumference (less than 80 cm). Importantly, among overweight people, waist circumference measurements identified a subgroup of overweight people (those with a high waist circumference) whose 10-year cumulative incidence of type 2 diabetes was similar to that of obese people.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among people of European descent, waist circumference is independently and strongly associated with type 2 diabetes, particularly among women. Additional studies are needed to confirm this association in other ethnic groups. Targeted measurement of waist circumference in overweight individuals (who now account for a third of the US and UK adult population) could be an effective strategy for the prevention of diabetes because it would allow the identification of a high-risk subgroup of people who might benefit from individualized lifestyle advice.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001230.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health care professionals, and the general public, including detailed information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of overweight and obesity (including some information in Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes, about the prevention of type 2 diabetes, and about obesity; it also includes peoples stories about diabetes and about obesity
The charity Diabetes UK also provides detailed information for patients and carers, including information on healthy lifestyles for people with diabetes, and has a further selection of stories from people with diabetes; the charity Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
More information on the InterAct study is available
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and diabetes prevention and about obesity (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001230
PMCID: PMC3367997  PMID: 22679397
12.  Te Ira Tangata: A Zelen randomised controlled trial of a treatment package including problem solving therapy compared to treatment as usual in Maori who present to hospital after self harm 
Trials  2011;12:117.
Background
Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, who present to hospital after intentionally harming themselves, do so at a higher rate than non-Maori. There have been no previous treatment trials in Maori who self harm and previous reviews of interventions in other populations have been inconclusive as existing trials have been under powered and done on unrepresentative populations. These reviews have however indicated that problem solving therapy and sending regular postcards after the self harm attempt may be an effective treatment. There is also a small literature on sense of belonging in self harm and the importance of culture. This protocol describes a pragmatic trial of a package of measures which include problem solving therapy, postcards, patient support, cultural assessment, improved access to primary care and a risk management strategy in Maori who present to hospital after self harm using a novel design.
Methods
We propose to use a double consent Zelen design where participants are randomised prior to giving consent to enrol a representative cohort of patients. The main outcome will be the number of Maori scoring below nine on the Beck Hopelessness Scale. Secondary outcomes will be hospital repetition at one year; self reported self harm; anxiety; depression; quality of life; social function; and hospital use at three months and one year.
Discussion
A strength of the study is that it is a pragmatic trial which aims to recruit Maori using a Maori clinical team and protocol. It does not exclude people if English is not their first language. A potential limitation is the analysis of the results which is complex and may underestimate any effect if a large number of people refuse their consent in the group randomised to problem solving therapy as they will effectively cross over to the treatment as usual group. This study is the first randomised control trial to explicitly use cultural assessment and management.
Trial registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12609000952246
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-12-117
PMCID: PMC3103449  PMID: 21569300
13.  Developing nutrition education resources for a multi-ethnic population in New Zealand 
Health Education Research  2008;24(4):558-574.
In New Zealand, the burden of nutrition-related disease is greatest among vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including Maori and Pacific peoples. However, little research is currently available on effective ways to improve nutrition in these communities. This paper describes the development of six paper-based nutrition education resources for multi-ethnic participants in a large supermarket intervention trial. Six focus groups involving 15 Maori, 13 Pacific and 16 non-Maori, non-Pacific participants were held. A general inductive approach was applied to identify common themes around participants' understanding and thoughts on relevance and usefulness of the draft resources. Feedback from focus groups was used to modify resources accordingly. Five themes emerged across all focus groups and guided modification of the resources: (i) perceived higher cost of healthy food, (ii) difficulty in changing food-purchasing habits, (iii) lack of knowledge, understanding and information about healthy food, (iv) desire for personally relevant information that uses ethnically appropriate language and (v) other barriers to healthy eating, including limited availability of healthy food. Many issues affect the likelihood of purchase and consumption of healthy food. These issues should be taken into account when developing nutritional materials for New Zealanders and possibly other multi-ethnic populations worldwide.
doi:10.1093/her/cyn057
PMCID: PMC2939734  PMID: 18974069
14.  Professional Uncertainty and Disempowerment Responding to Ethnic Diversity in Health Care: A Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e323.
Background
While ethnic disparities in health and health care are increasing, evidence on how to enhance quality of care and reduce inequalities remains limited. Despite growth in the scope and application of guidelines on “cultural competence,” remarkably little is known about how practising health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities. Using cancer care as a clinical context, we aimed to explore this with a range of health professionals to inform interventions to enhance quality of care.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a qualitative study involving 18 focus groups with a purposeful sample of 106 health professionals of differing disciplines, in primary and secondary care settings, working with patient populations of varying ethnic diversity in the Midlands of the UK. Data were analysed by constant comparison and we undertook processes for validation of analysis. We found that, as they sought to offer appropriate care, health professionals wrestled with considerable uncertainty and apprehension in responding to the needs of patients of ethnicities different from their own. They emphasised their perceived ignorance about cultural difference and were anxious about being culturally inappropriate, causing affront, or appearing discriminatory or racist. Professionals' ability to think and act flexibly or creatively faltered. Although trying to do their best, professionals' uncertainty was disempowering, creating a disabling hesitancy and inertia in their practice. Most professionals sought and applied a knowledge-based cultural expertise approach to patients, though some identified the risk of engendering stereotypical expectations of patients. Professionals' uncertainty and disempowerment had the potential to perpetuate each other, to the detriment of patient care.
Conclusions
This study suggests potential mechanisms by which health professionals may inadvertently contribute to ethnic disparities in health care. It identifies critical opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively. Interventions should help professionals acknowledge their uncertainty and its potential to create inertia in their practice. A shift away from a cultural expertise model toward a greater focus on each patient as an individual may help.
From a qualitative study, Joe Kai and colleagues have identified opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively to challenges in their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Communities are increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity (belonging to a group of people defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin) and race (belonging to a group identified by inherited physical characteristics). Although health professionals and governments are striving to ensure that everybody has the same access to health care, there is increasing evidence of ethnic inequalities in health-care outcomes. Some of these inequalities reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—Ashkenazi Jews, for example, often carry an altered gene that increases their chance of developing aggressive breast cancer. Often, however, these differences reflect inequalities in the health care received by different ethnic groups. To improve this situation, “cultural competence” has been promoted over recent years. Cultural competence is the development of skills by individuals and organizations that allow them to work effectively with people from different cultures. Health professionals are now taught about ethnic differences in health beliefs and practices, religion, and communication styles to help them provide the best service to all their patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Numerous guidelines aim to improve cultural competency but little is known about how health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic groups. Is their behavior influenced by ethnicity in ways that might contribute to health care disparities? For example, do doctors sometimes avoid medical examinations for fear of causing offence because of cultural differences? If more were known about how health professionals handle ethnic diversity (a term used here to include both ethnicity and race) it might be possible to reduce ethnic inequalities in health care. In this qualitative study, the researchers have explored how health professionals involved in cancer care are affected by working with ethnically diverse patients. A qualitative study is one that collects nonquantitative data such as how doctors “feel” about treating people of different ethnic backgrounds; a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes in different ethnic groups.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 106 doctors, nurses, and other health-related professionals from different health-service settings in the Midlands, an ethnically diverse region of the UK. They organized 18 focus groups in which the health professionals described their experiences of caring for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The participants were encouraged to recall actual cases and to identify what they saw as problems and strengths in their interactions with these patients. The researchers found that the health professionals wrestled with many challenges when providing health care for patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. These challenges included problems with language and with general communication (for example, deciding when it was acceptable to touch a patient to show empathy). Health professionals also worried they did not know enough about cultural differences. As a result, they said they often felt uncertain of their ability to avoid causing affront or appearing racist. This uncertainty, the researchers report, disempowered the health professionals, sometimes making them hesitate or fail to do what was best for their patient.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal that health professionals often experience considerable uncertainty when caring for ethnically diverse patients, even after training in cultural competency. They also show that this uncertainty can lead to hesitancy and inertia, which might contribute to ethnic health care inequalities. Because the study participants were probably already interested in ethnic diversity and health care, interviews with other health professionals (and investigations of patient experiences) are needed to confirm these findings. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest several interventions that might reduce health care inequalities caused by ethnic diversity. For example, health professionals should be encouraged to recognize their uncertainty and should have access to more information and training about ethnic differences. In addition, there should be a shift in emphasis away from relying on knowledge-based cultural information towards taking an “ethnographic” approach. In other words, health professionals should be helped to feel able to ask their patients about what matters most to them as individuals about their illness and treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323.
Information on cultural competence and health care is available from the US National Center for Cultural Competence (in English and Spanish) and DiversityRx
PROCEED (Professionals Responding to Cancer in Ethnic Diversity) is a multimedia training tool for educators within the health and allied professions developed from the results of this study; a press release on PROCEED is available from the University of Nottingham
Transcultural Health Care Practice: An educational resource for nurses and health care practitioners is available on the web site of the UK Royal College of Nursing
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323
PMCID: PMC2071935  PMID: 18001148
15.  A qualitative investigation into key cultural factors that support abstinence or responsible drinking amongst some Pacific youth living in New Zealand 
Background
Abstinence and responsible drinking are not typically associated with youth drinking culture. Amongst Pacific youth in New Zealand there are high numbers, compared to the general New Zealand population, who choose not to consume alcohol. The Pacific youth population is made up of several ethnic groups; their ethno-cultural values are largely Polynesian and heavily influenced by the socio-economic realities of living in New Zealand. This paper explores factors that support abstinence or responsible drinking amongst Pacific youth living in Auckland.
Methods
A qualitative study comprised of a series of ethnically-, age-, and gender-matched semi-structured focus group discussions with 69 Pacific youth, aged 15-25 years from a university and selected high-schools. Participants were purposively sampled.
Results
Key cultural factors that contributed to whether Pacific youth participants were abstinent or responsible drinkers were: significant experiences within Pacific family environments (e.g. young person directly links their decision about alcohol consumption to a positive or negative role model); awareness of the belief that their actions as children of Pacific parents affects the reputation and standing of their Pacific family and community (e.g. church); awareness of traditional Pacific values of respect, reciprocity and cultural taboos (e.g. male–female socialising); commitment to no-alcohol teachings of church or religious faith; having peer support and experiences that force them to consider negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption; and personal awareness that being part of an (excessive) drinking culture may seriously affect health or impede career aspirations.
Conclusions
The narratives offered by Pacific young people highlighted three key communities of influence: family (immediate and extended, but especially siblings), peers and church. Young people negotiated through these communities of influence their decisions whether to drink alcohol, drink excessively or not at all. For each young person the way in which those three communities came together to support their decisions depended on the specificities of their lived contexts. Pacific young people live lives that share some things in common with other New Zealand youth and others which are more specific to a Pacific ethnic group, especially in relation to the traditional beliefs of their Pacific parents and community. In the development of alcohol harm reduction strategies seeking active Pacific young person and family compliance, it is these “other ethnic things” that requires careful and more qualitative consideration.
doi:10.1186/1477-7517-9-36
PMCID: PMC3464679  PMID: 22898366
Pacific peoples; Alcohol; Youth; Risk; Drinking
16.  The effectiveness of a preferred intensity exercise programme on the mental health outcomes of young people with depression: a sequential mixed methods evaluation 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:187.
Background
People with mental illness are more likely to suffer physical health problems than comparable populations who do not have mental illness. There is evidence to suggest that exercise, as well has having obvious physical benefits, also has positive effects on mental health. There is a distinct paucity of research testing its effects on young people seeking help for mental health issues. Additionally, it is generally found that compliance with prescribed exercise programmes is low. As such, encouraging young people to exercise at levels recommended by national guidelines may be unrealistic considering their struggle with mental health difficulties. It is proposed that an exercise intervention tailored to young people's preferred intensity may improve mental health outcomes, overall quality of life, and reduce exercise attrition rates.
Methods/Design
A sequential mixed methods design will be utilised to assess the effectiveness of an individually tailored exercise programme on the mental health outcomes of young people with depression. The mixed methods design incorporates a Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT), focus groups and interviews and an economic evaluation. Participants: 158 young people (14-17 years) recruited from primary care and voluntary services randomly allocated to either the intervention group or control group. Intervention group: Participants will undertake a 12 week exercise programme of 12 × 60 minutes of preferred intensity aerobic exercise receiving motivational coaching and support throughout. Participants will also be invited to attend focus groups and 1-1 interviews following completion of the exercise programme to illicit potential barriers facilitators to participation. Control group: Participants will receive treatment as usual. Primary Outcome measure: Depression using the Children's Depression Inventory 2 (CDI-2). Secondary Outcome measures: Quality of Life (EQ-5D), physical fitness (Borg RPE scale, heart rate), incidents of self-harm, treatment received and compliance with treatment, and the cost effectiveness of the intervention. Outcome measures will be taken at baseline, post intervention and 6 month follow up.
Discussion
The results of this study will inform policy makers of the effectiveness of preferred intensity exercise on the mental health outcomes of young people with depression, the acceptability of such an intervention to this population and its cost effectiveness.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01474837
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-187
PMCID: PMC3323888  PMID: 22414319
Depression; Adolescence; Young people; Exercise; Physical activity
17.  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
18.  A randomized controlled trial of tai chi for long-term low back pain (TAI CHI): Study rationale, design, and methods 
Background
Low back pain persisting for longer than 3 months is a common and costly condition for which many current treatments have low-moderate success rates at best. Exercise is among the more successful treatments for this condition, however, the type and dosage of exercise that elicits the best results is not clearly defined. Tai chi is a gentle form of low intensity exercise that uses controlled movements in combination with relaxation techniques and is currently used as a safe form of exercise for people suffering from other chronic pain conditions such as arthritis. To date, there has been no scientific evaluation of tai chi as an intervention for people with back pain. Thus the aim of this study will be to examine the effects of a tai chi exercise program on pain and disability in people with long-term low back pain.
Methods and design
The study will recruit 160 healthy individuals from the community setting to be randomised to either a tai chi intervention group or a wait-list control group. Individuals in the tai chi group will attend 2 tai chi sessions (40 minutes)/week for 8 weeks followed by 1 tai chi session/week for 2 weeks. The wait-list control will continue their usual health care practices and have the opportunity to participate in the tai chi program once they have completed the follow-up assessments. The primary outcome will be bothersomeness of back symptoms measured with a 0–10 numerical rating scale. Secondary outcomes include, self-reports of pain-related disability, health-related quality of life and global perceived effect of treatment. Statistical analysis of primary and secondary outcomes will be based on the intention to treat principle. Linear mixed models will be used to test for the effect of treatment on outcome at 10 weeks follow up. This trial has received ethics approval from The University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee. HREC Approval No.10452
Discussion
This study will be the first trial in this area and the information on its effectiveness will allow patients, clinicians and treatment funders to make informed choices regarding this treatment.
Trial Registration
This trial has been registered with Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry. ACTRN12608000270314
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-10-55
PMCID: PMC2702312  PMID: 19473546
19.  Implementation of preventive strength training in residential geriatric care: a multi-centre study protocol with one year of interventions on multiple levels 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:51.
Background
There is scientific evidence that preventive physical exercise is effective even in high age. In contrast, there are few opportunities of preventive exercise for highly aged people endangered by or actually in need of care. For example, they would not be able to easily go to training facilities; standard exercises may be too intensive and therefore be harmful to them; orientation disorders like dementia would exacerbate individuals and groups in following instructions and keeping exercises going. In order to develop appropriate interventions, these and other issues were assigned to different levels: the individual-social level (ISL), the organisational-institutional level (OIL) and the political-cultural level (PCL). Consequently, this conceptional framework was utilised for development, implementation and evaluation of a new strength and balance exercise programme for old people endangered by or actually in need of daily care. The present paper contains the development of this programme labeled "fit for 100", and a study protocol of an interventional single-arm multi-centre trial.
Methods
The intervention consisted of (a) two group training sessions every week over one year, mainly resistance exercises, accompanied by sensorimotor and communicative group exercises and games (ISL), (b) a sustainable implementation concept, starting new groups by instructors belonging to the project, followed by training and supervision of local staff, who stepwise take over the group (OIL), (c) informing and convincing activities in professional, administrative and governmental contexts, public relation activities, and establishing an advisory council with renowned experts and public figures (PCL). Participating institutions of geriatric care were selected through several steps of quality criteria assessment. Primary outcome measures were continuous documentation of individual participation (ISL), number of groups continued without external financial support (at the end of the project, and after one year) (OIL). Secondary outcome was measured by sensorimotor tests and care-related assessments in the beginning and every 16 weeks (ISL), by qualitative outcome descriptions 12 months after group implementation (OIL) and by analysis of media response and structured interviews with stakeholders, also after 12 months (PCL).
Conclusion
Exemplarily, preventive exercise has been established for a neglected target population. The multi-level approach used here seems to be helpful to overcome institutional and individual (attitude) barriers.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN55213782
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-9-51
PMCID: PMC2791100  PMID: 19930700
20.  Diabetes Mellitus Increases the Risk of Active Tuberculosis: A Systematic Review of 13 Observational Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e152.
Background
Several studies have suggested that diabetes mellitus (DM) increases the risk of active tuberculosis (TB). The rising prevalence of DM in TB-endemic areas may adversely affect TB control. We conducted a systematic review and a meta-analysis of observational studies assessing the association of DM and TB in order to summarize the existing evidence and to assess methodological quality of the studies.
Methods and Findings
We searched the PubMed and EMBASE databases to identify observational studies that had reported an age-adjusted quantitative estimate of the association between DM and active TB disease. The search yielded 13 observational studies (n = 1,786,212 participants) with 17,698 TB cases. Random effects meta-analysis of cohort studies showed that DM was associated with an increased risk of TB (relative risk = 3.11, 95% CI 2.27–4.26). Case-control studies were heterogeneous and odds ratios ranged from 1.16 to 7.83. Subgroup analyses showed that effect estimates were higher in non-North American studies.
Conclusion
DM was associated with an increased risk of TB regardless of study design and population. People with DM may be important targets for interventions such as active case finding and treatment of latent TB and efforts to diagnose, detect, and treat DM may have a beneficial impact on TB control.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis including more than 17,000 tuberculosis cases, Christie Jeon and Megan Murray find that diabetes mellitus is associated with an approximately 3-fold increased risk of tuberculosis.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, 8.8 million people develop active tuberculosis and 1.6 million people die from this highly contagious infection that usually affects the lungs. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread through the air when people with active tuberculosis cough or sneeze. Most infected people never become ill—a third of the world's population is actually infected with M. tuberculosis—because the human immune system usually contains the infection. However, the bacteria remain dormant within the body and can cause disease many years later if host immunity declines because of increasing age or because of other medical conditions such as HIV infection. Active tuberculosis can be cured by taking a combination of several antibiotics every day for at least six months, and current control efforts concentrate on prompt detection and carefully monitored treatment of people with active tuberculosis to prevent further transmission of the bacteria.
Why Was This Study Done?
Despite this control strategy, tuberculosis remains a major health problem in many countries. To reduce the annual number of new tuberculosis cases (incidence) and the number of people with tuberculosis (prevalence) in such countries, it may be necessary to identify and target factors that increase an individual's risk of developing active tuberculosis. One possible risk factor for tuberculosis is diabetes, a condition characterized by high blood sugar levels and long-term complications involving the circulation, eyes and kidneys, and the body's ability to fight infection. 180 million people currently have diabetes, but this number is expected to double by 2030. Low- to middle-income countries (for example, India and China) have the highest burden of tuberculosis and are experiencing the fastest increase in diabetes prevalence. If diabetes does increase the risk of developing active tuberculosis, this overlap between the diabetes and tuberculosis epidemics could adversely affect global tuberculosis control efforts. In this study, the researchers undertake a systematic review (a search using specific criteria to identify relevant research studies, which are then appraised) and a random effects meta-analysis (a type of statistical analysis that pools the results of several studies) to learn more about the association between diabetes and tuberculosis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
From their search of electronic databases, the researchers found 13 observational studies (nonexperimental investigations that record individual characteristics and health outcomes without trying to influence them in any way) that had examined whether diabetes mellitus increases the risk of active tuberculosis. Diabetes was positively associated with tuberculosis in all but one study, but the estimates of how much diabetes increases the risk of developing active tuberculosis were highly variable, ranging from no effect to an increased risk of nearly 8-fold in one study. The variability may represent true differences between the study populations, as higher increases in risk due to diabetes was found in studies conducted outside of North America, including Central America, Europe, and Asia; or it may reflect differences in how well each study was done. This variability meant that the researchers could not include all of the studies in their meta-analysis. However, the three prospective cohort studies (studies that follow a group of individuals with potential risk factors for a disease over time to see if they develop that disease) that they had identified in their systematic review had more consistent effects estimates, and were included in the meta-analysis. This meta-analysis showed that, compared to people without diabetes, people with diabetes had a 3-fold increased risk of developing active tuberculosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings support the idea that diabetes increases the risk of tuberculosis, a biologically plausible idea because, in experimental and clinical studies, diabetes was found to impair the immune responses needed to control bacterial infections. The 3-fold increased risk of tuberculosis associated with diabetes that the meta-analysis reveals suggests that diabetes may already be responsible for more than 10% of tuberculosis cases in countries such as India and China, a figure that will likely increase as diabetes becomes more common.
However, the estimate of this impact is based on three cohort studies from Asia; other studies suggest that the extent of the impact due to diabetes may vary by region and ethnicity. In populations where diabetes affects the risk of tuberculosis to a similar or greater extent, global tuberculosis control might benefit from active case finding and treatment of dormant tuberculosis in people with diabetes and from increased efforts to diagnose and treat diabetes.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050152.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide several fact sheets and other information resources about tuberculosis
The World Health Organization provides information (in several languages) on efforts to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis, including information on the Stop TB Strategy and the 2008 report Global Tuberculosis Control—Surveillance, Planning, Financing
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for the public and professionals on all aspects of diabetes
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases also provides information about diabetes (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050152
PMCID: PMC2459204  PMID: 18630984
21.  Effect of High- versus Low-Intensity Supervised Aerobic and Resistance Training on Modifiable Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes; The Italian Diabetes and Exercise Study (IDES) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49297.
Background
While current recommendations on exercise type and volume have strong experimental bases, there is no clear evidence from large-sized studies indicating whether increasing training intensity provides additional benefits to subjects with type 2 diabetes.
Objective
To compare the effects of moderate-to-high intensity (HI) versus low-to-moderate intensity (LI) training of equal energy cost, i.e. exercise volume, on modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.
Design
Pre-specified sub-analysis of the Italian Diabetes and Exercise Study (IDES), a randomized multicenter prospective trial comparing a supervised exercise intervention with standard care for 12 months (2005–2006).
Setting
Twenty-two outpatient diabetes clinics across Italy.
Patients
Sedentary patients with type 2 diabetes assigned to twice-a-week supervised progressive aerobic and resistance training plus exercise counseling (n = 303).
Interventions
Subjects were randomized by center to LI (n = 142, 136 completed) or HI (n = 161, 152 completed) progressive aerobic and resistance training, i.e. at 55% or 70% of predicted maximal oxygen consumption and at 60% or 80% of predicted 1-Repetition Maximum, respectively, of equal volume.
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Hemoglobin (Hb) A1c and other cardiovascular risk factors; 10-year coronary heart disease (CHD) risk scores.
Results
Volume of physical activity, both supervised and non-supervised, was similar in LI and HI participants. Compared with LI training, HI training produced only clinically marginal, though statistically significant, improvements in HbA1c (mean difference −0.17% [95% confidence interval −0.44,0.10], P = 0.03), triglycerides (−0.12 mmol/l [−0.34,0.10], P = 0.02) and total cholesterol (−0.24 mmol/l [−0.46, −0.01], P = 0.04), but not in other risk factors and CHD risk scores. However, intensity was not an independent predictor of reduction of any of these parameters. Adverse event rate was similar in HI and LI subjects.
Conclusions
Data from the large IDES cohort indicate that, in low-fitness individuals such as sedentary subjects with type 2 diabetes, increasing exercise intensity is not harmful, but does not provide additional benefits on cardiovascular risk factors.
Trial Registration
www.ISRCTN.org ISRCTN-04252749.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049297
PMCID: PMC3504024  PMID: 23185314
22.  Effectiveness and economic evaluation of a nurse delivered home exercise programme to prevent falls. 2: Controlled trial in multiple centres 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;322(7288):701.
Objectives
To assess the effectiveness of trained nurses based in general practices individually prescribing a home exercise programme to reduce falls and injuries in elderly people and to estimate the cost effectiveness of the programme.
Design
Controlled trial with one year's follow up.
Setting
32 general practices in seven southern New Zealand centres.
Participants
450 women and men aged 80 years and older.
Intervention
330 participants received the exercise programme (exercise centres) and 120 received usual care (control centres); 87% (371 of 426) completed the trial.
Main outcome measures
Number of falls, number of injuries resulting from falls, costs of implementing the programme, and hospital costs as a result of falls.
Results
Falls were reduced by 30% in the exercise centres (incidence rate ratio 0.70, 95% confidence interval 0.59 to 0.84). The programme was equally effective in men and women. The programme cost $NZ418 (£121) (at 1998 prices) per person to deliver for one year or $NZ1519 (£441) per fall prevented. Fewer participants had falls resulting in injuries, but there was no difference in the number who had serious injuries and no difference in hospital costs resulting from falls in exercise centres compared with control centres.
Conclusions
An individually tailored exercise programme, delivered by trained nurses from within general practices, was effective in reducing falls in three different centres. This strategy should be combined with other successful interventions to form part of home programmes to prevent falls in elderly people.
What is already known on this topicOne half of those aged 80 years and older will fall in any one year, often with serious health and social consequencesAn exercise programme delivered by a physiotherapist or trained district nurse was successful in reducing falls and moderate injuries in elderly peopleWhat this study addsAn exercise programme to prevent falls in elderly people can be delivered safely and effectively by trained nurses in general practicesThe nurses obtained results that were consistent with the physiotherapist in the research setting and the district nurse in the accompanying paper
PMCID: PMC30095  PMID: 11264207
23.  Standardized Treatment of Active Tuberculosis in Patients with Previous Treatment and/or with Mono-resistance to Isoniazid: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(9):e1000150.
Performing a systematic review of studies evaluating retreatment of tuberculosis or treatment of isoniazid mono-resistant infection, Dick Menzies and colleagues find a paucity of evidence to support the WHO-recommended regimen.
Background
A standardized regimen recommended by the World Health Organization for retreatment of active tuberculosis (TB) is widely used, but treatment outcomes are suspected to be poor. We conducted a systematic review of published evidence of treatment of patients with a history of previous treatment or documented isoniazid mono-resistance.
Methods and Findings
PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central database for clinical trials were searched for randomized trials in previously treated patients and/or those with with mono-resistance to isoniazid, published in English, French, or Spanish between 1965 and June 2008. The first two sources were also searched for cohort studies evaluating specifically the current retreatment regimen. In studies selected for inclusion, rifampin-containing regimens were used to treat patients with bacteriologically confirmed pulmonary TB, in whom bacteriologically confirmed failure and/or relapse had been reported. Pooled cumulative incidences and 95% CIs of treatment outcomes were computed with random effects meta-analyses and negative binomial regression. No randomized trials of the currently recommended retreatment regimen were identified. Only six cohort studies were identified, in which failure rates were 18%–44% in those with isoniazid resistance. In nine trials, using very different regimens in previously treated patients with mono-resistance to isoniazid, the combined failure and relapse rates ranged from 0% to over 75%. From pooled analysis of 33 trials in 1,907 patients with mono-resistance to isoniazid, lower failure, relapse, and acquired drug resistance rates were associated with longer duration of rifampin, use of streptomycin, daily therapy initially, and treatment with a greater number of effective drugs.
Conclusions
There are few published studies to support use of the current standardized retreatment regimen. Randomized trials of treatment of persons with isoniazid mono-resistance and/or a history of previous TB treatment are urgently needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, nearly ten million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection, usually of the lungs—and about 2 million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Its symptoms include a persistent cough, fever, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for tuberculosis include chest X-rays and sputum slide exams and cultures in which bacteriologists try to grow M. tuberculosis from mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing. The disease can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics regularly (daily or several times a week) for at least 6 months. However, 10%–20% of patients treated for tuberculosis in low- and middle-income countries need re-treatment because the initial treatment fails to clear M. tuberculosis from their body or because their disease returns after they have apparently been cured (treatment relapse). Patients who need re-treatment are often infected with bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the antibiotics commonly used to treat tuberculosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
As part of its strategy to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends standardized treatment regimens for tuberculosis. For re-treatment, WHO recommends an 8-month course of isoniazid, rifampin, and ethambutol with pyrazinamide and streptomycin added for the first 3 and 2 months, respectively. All these drugs are given daily (the preferred regimen) or three times a week. Unfortunately, although this regimen is now used to treat about 1 million patients each year, it yields poor results, particularly in regions where drug resistance is common. In this study (which was commissioned by WHO to provide the evidence needed for a revision of its treatment guidelines), the researchers undertake a systematic review (a search using specific criteria to identify relevant research studies, which are then appraised) and a meta-analysis (a statistical approach that pools the results of several studies) of randomized trials and cohort studies (two types of study that investigate the efficacy of medical interventions) of re-treatment regimens in previously treated tuberculosis patients, and in patients with infection that was resistant to isoniazid (“mono-resistance”).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers' systematic search for published reports of randomized trials and cohort studies of the currently recommended re-treatment regimen identified no relevant randomized trials and only six cohort studies. In the three cohort studies in which the participants carried M. tuberculosis strains that were sensitive to all the antibiotics in the regimen, failure rates were generally low. However, in the studies in which the participants carried drug-resistant bacteria, failure rates ranged from 9% to 45%. The researchers also identified and analyzed the results of nine trials in which several re-treatment regimens, all of which deviated from the standardized regimen, were used in previously treated patients with isoniazid mono-resistance. In these trials, the combined failure and relapse rates ranged from 0% to more than 75%. Finally, the researchers analyzed the pooled results of 33 trials that investigated the effect of various regimens on nearly 2,000 patients (some receiving their first treatment for tuberculosis, some being re-treated) with isoniazid mono-resistance. This meta-analysis showed that lower relapse, failure, and acquired drug resistance rates were associated with longer duration of rifampicin treatment, use of streptomycin, daily therapy early in the treatment, and regimens that included a greater number of drugs to which the M. tuberculosis carried by the patient were sensitive.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal that there is very little published evidence that supports the regimen currently recommended by WHO for the re-treatment of tuberculosis. Furthermore, this limited body of evidence is a patchwork of results gleaned from a few cohort studies and a set of randomized trials not specifically designed to test the efficacy of the standardized regimen. There is an urgent need, therefore, for a concerted international effort to initiate randomized trials of potential treatment regimens in both previously untreated and previously treated patients with all forms of drug-resistant tuberculosis. Because these trials will take some time to complete, the limited findings of the meta-analysis presented here may be used in the meantime to redesign and, hopefully, improve the current standardized re-treatment regimen. In fact, the revised WHO TB treatment guidelines will provide updated recommendations for patients with previously treated TB.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000150.
The results of another WHO-commissioned study into the treatment of tuberculosis are presented in a separate PLoS Medicine Research Article by Menzies et al. (Menzies D, Benedetti A, Paydar A, Martin I, Royce S, et al. (2009) Effect of Duration and Intermittency of Rifampin on Tuberculosis Treatment Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS Med 6(9): e1000146.)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The American Thoracic Society, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Infectious Diseases Society of America offer guidelines on TB treatment
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide several facts sheets and other information resources about tuberculosis
The 2003 (2004 revision) WHO guidelines for national programs for the treatment of tuberculosis are available; WHO also provides information on efforts to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis (in several languages) and its 2009 annual report on global control of tuberculosis describes the current situation (key points are available in several languages)
The WHO publishes guidelines on TB treatment
For guidelines on drug susceptibility testing (DST) and other information on TB diagnostic tests, the Stop TB Partnership's New Diagnostics Working Group has created a new Web site called Evidence-Based Tuberculosis Diagnosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000150
PMCID: PMC2736403  PMID: 20101802
24.  Mendelian Randomization Study of B-Type Natriuretic Peptide and Type 2 Diabetes: Evidence of Causal Association from Population Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(10):e1001112.
Using mendelian randomization, Roman Pfister and colleagues demonstrate a potentially causal link between low levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), a hormone released by damaged hearts, and the development of type 2 diabetes.
Background
Genetic and epidemiological evidence suggests an inverse association between B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels in blood and risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but the prospective association of BNP with T2D is uncertain, and it is unclear whether the association is confounded.
Methods and Findings
We analysed the association between levels of the N-terminal fragment of pro-BNP (NT-pro-BNP) in blood and risk of incident T2D in a prospective case-cohort study and genotyped the variant rs198389 within the BNP locus in three T2D case-control studies. We combined our results with existing data in a meta-analysis of 11 case-control studies. Using a Mendelian randomization approach, we compared the observed association between rs198389 and T2D to that expected from the NT-pro-BNP level to T2D association and the NT-pro-BNP difference per C allele of rs198389. In participants of our case-cohort study who were free of T2D and cardiovascular disease at baseline, we observed a 21% (95% CI 3%–36%) decreased risk of incident T2D per one standard deviation (SD) higher log-transformed NT-pro-BNP levels in analysis adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, smoking, family history of T2D, history of hypertension, and levels of triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The association between rs198389 and T2D observed in case-control studies (odds ratio = 0.94 per C allele, 95% CI 0.91–0.97) was similar to that expected (0.96, 0.93–0.98) based on the pooled estimate for the log-NT-pro-BNP level to T2D association derived from a meta-analysis of our study and published data (hazard ratio = 0.82 per SD, 0.74–0.90) and the difference in NT-pro-BNP levels (0.22 SD, 0.15–0.29) per C allele of rs198389. No significant associations were observed between the rs198389 genotype and potential confounders.
Conclusions
Our results provide evidence for a potential causal role of the BNP system in the aetiology of T2D. Further studies are needed to investigate the mechanisms underlying this association and possibilities for preventive interventions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, nearly 250 million people have diabetes, and this number is increasing rapidly. Diabetes is characterized by dangerous amounts of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone that the pancreas releases after meals (digestion of food produces glucose). In people with type 2 diabetes (the most common form of diabetes), blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that usually respond to insulin by removing sugar from the blood become insulin resistant. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with diet and exercise, and with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that make cells more sensitive to insulin. The long-term complications of diabetes, which include kidney failure and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because the causes of type 2 diabetes are poorly understood, it is hard to devise ways to prevent the condition. Recently, B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP, a hormone released by damaged hearts) has been implicated in type 2 diabetes development in cross-sectional studies (investigations in which data are collected at a single time point from a population to look for associations between an illness and potential risk factors). Although these studies suggest that high levels of BNP may protect against type 2 diabetes, they cannot prove a causal link between BNP levels and diabetes because the study participants with low BNP levels may share some another unknown factor (a confounding factor) that is the real cause of both diabetes and altered BNP levels. Here, the researchers use an approach called “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether reduced BNP levels contribute to causing type 2 diabetes. It is known that a common genetic variant (rs198389) within the genome region that encodes BNP is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not subject to confounding. So, by investigating the association between BNP gene variants that alter NT-pro-BNP (a molecule created when BNP is being produced) levels and the development of type 2 diabetes, the researchers can discover whether BNP is causally involved in this chronic condition.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the association between blood levels of NT-pro-BNP at baseline in 440 participants of the EPIC-Norfolk study (a prospective population-based study of lifestyle factors and the risk of chronic diseases) who subsequently developed diabetes and in 740 participants who did not develop diabetes. In this prospective case-cohort study, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was associated with lower NT-pro-BNP levels. They also genotyped (sequenced) rs198389 in the participants of three case-control studies of type 2 diabetes (studies in which potential risk factors for type 2 diabetes were examined in people with type 2 diabetes and matched controls living in the East of England), and combined these results with those of eight similar published case-control studies. Finally, the researchers showed that the association between rs198389 and type 2 diabetes measured in the case-control studies was similar to the expected association calculated from the association between NT-pro-BNP level and type 2 diabetes obtained from the prospective case-cohort study and the association between rs198389 and BNP levels obtained from the EPIC-Norfolk study and other published studies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this Mendelian randomization study provide evidence for a causal, protective role of the BNP hormone system in the development of type 2 diabetes. That is, these findings suggest that low levels of BNP are partly responsible for the development of type 2 diabetes. Because the participants in all the individual studies included in this analysis were of European descent, these findings may not be generalizable to other ethnicities. Moreover, they provide no explanation of how alterations in the BNP hormone system might affect the development of type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, the demonstration of a causal link between the BNP hormone system and type 2 diabetes suggests that BNP may be a potential target for interventions designed to prevent type 2 diabetes, particularly since the feasibility of altering BNP levels with drugs has already been proven in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001112.
The International Diabetes Federation provides information about all aspects of diabetes
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides detailed information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals, and the general public (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes and includes people's stories about diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has pages on BNP and on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The charity Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes; the charity Diabetes UK has a further selection of stories from people with diabetes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001112
PMCID: PMC3201934  PMID: 22039354
25.  Study protocol: a randomised controlled trial of the effects of a multi-modal exercise program on cognition and physical functioning in older women 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:60.
Background
Intervention studies testing the efficacy of cardiorespiratory exercise have shown some promise in terms of improving cognitive function in later life. Recent developments suggest that a multi-modal exercise intervention that includes motor as well as physical training and requires sustained attention and concentration, may better elicit the actual potency of exercise to enhance cognitive performance. This study will test the effect of a multi-modal exercise program, for older women, on cognitive and physical functioning.
Methods/design
This randomised controlled trial involves community dwelling women, without cognitive impairment, aged 65–75 years. Participants are randomised to exercise intervention or non-exercise control groups, for 16 weeks. The intervention consists of twice weekly, 60 minute, exercise classes incorporating aerobic, strength, balance, flexibility, co-ordination and agility training. Primary outcomes are measures of cognitive function and secondary outcomes include physical functioning and a neurocognitive biomarker (brain derived neurotrophic factor). Measures are taken at baseline and 16 weeks later and qualitative data related to the experience and acceptability of the program are collected from a sub-sample of the intervention group.
Discussion
If this randomised controlled trial demonstrates that multimodal exercise (that includes motor fitness training) can improve cognitive performance in later life, the benefits will be two-fold. First, an inexpensive, effective strategy will have been developed that could ameliorate the increased prevalence of age-related cognitive impairment predicted to accompany population ageing. Second, more robust evidence will have been provided about the mechanisms that link exercise to cognitive improvement allowing future research to be better focused and potentially more productive.
Trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registration Number: ANZCTR12612000451808
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-60
PMCID: PMC3503610  PMID: 23009189
Exercise; Cognition; Aged; Multi-modal exercise; Brain derived neurotrophic factor

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