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1.  Tolerability of intravenous pamidronate for the treatment of osteoporosis and other metabolic osteopathies: A retrospective analysis 
Background: Intravenous disodium pamidronate has been described in the treatment of several osteopathies. Although tolerability has been found to be good in clinical trials, some mild to serious adverse events (AEs) have been reported.
Objectives: The aims of this study were to analyze the toelrability of IV pamidronate in patients being treated for osteoporosis and other metabolic osteopathies and to describe particular patients with relative contraindications, because such cases are not commonly seen in daily clinical practice.
Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of patients with different osteopathies who were administered IV infusions of pamidronate at doses ranging from 15 to 90 mg/infusion and 15 to 900 mg/year. The study was conducted in patients who had received treatment at the Institute of Metabolic Investigations, University of Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina, between January 1995 and December 2003. To rule out dose-related AEs, a comparison was made between patients who received fewer IV infusions and had cumulative doses of 120 to 180 mg/y (less frequent administration [LFA] group) and those patients who received regular infusions and had cumulative doses of >180 mg/year (frequent administration [FA] group). To confirm data obtained from medical records and to assess the occurrence of AEs, attempts were made to interview all patients by phone. The following information was verified for each patient included in the study: the reason for treatment, documented evidence of current diagnostic criteria, and whether the dose administered was adequate to treat the patient's condition.
Results: Six hundred eight patients (464 [76.3%]women, 144 [23.7%]men; mean [SD] age, 69 [10] years) with various osteopathies (osteoporosis, 367 [60.4%] of the patients; Paget's disease, 172 [28.3%]; Sudeck's disease, 63 [10.4%]; multiple myeloma, 3 [0.5%]; and bone metastases, 3 [0.5%]) were administered a total of 2933 IV infusions of pamidronate during the study period. We were able to confirm the clinical records of 69.4% (422/608) of the patients by telephone survey; 29.9% (124/415) of those patients experienced extraskeletal AEs (most commonly fever and flu-like symptoms [eg, headache, malaise, fatigue, chills, and asthenia]). The percentage of patients reporting AEs was significantly higher for the LFA group than that of the FA group (91.2 vs 19.5; P < 0.001), although factors other than the frequency of treatment might have had a bearing on this finding. All AEs were mild and transient in both groups of patients, and there were no reports of jaw osteonecrosis in either group. It should be noted that although LFA patients received lower doses of pamidronate per infusion than the FA group, they had higher cumulative doses/year. Biochemical variables for the entire study population were compared with baseline measurements, and no significant changes in mean values were observed. Both serum calcium and 25-hydroxy vitamin D levels remained within normal ranges. On the other hand, there was a transient decrease in white blood cell count (WBCC) in 73 (12.0%) patients, and leukopenia was observed in 8 (1.3%) patients. However, 5 of the 6 patients who were leukopenic at the beginning of treatment had normal WBCCs during follow-up. Platelet count decreased significantly in 20 (3.3%) patients, and 5 (0.8%) patients developed thrombocytopenia. Serum creatinine (sCreat) levels increased significantly in 91 (15.0%) patients. This increase was transient and within normal limits (0.6–1.2 mg/dL) in 79 (86.8%) of those patients but persistent in the other 12 (13.2%), all of whom received higher doses of pamidronate or had other risk factors for renal failure such as advanced age, diabetes, multiple myeloma, or an obstructor disease. Baseline sCreat level for 7 of these 12 patients was >1.20 mg/dL.
Conclusions: Pamidronate administered IV was well tolerated when used for treating osteoporosis or other metabolic osteopathies in our study population. The clinical AEs observed with IV pamidronate administration were not serious and hematologic changes were mild, transient, and not associated with dose, time of treatment, or any particular underlying disease. An increase in sCreat level was the most frequent biochemical complication and was found in patients with additional risk factors for renal failure and particular diseases. Whether certain patients with risk factors for osteoporosis may require even fewer IV administrations of the drug is an issue that remains to be elucidated.
doi:10.1016/j.curtheres.2007.03.002
PMCID: PMC3965997  PMID: 24678115
adverse events; pamidronate; osteoporosis; osteopathy; tolerability
2.  Editorial 
As a new year begins, it is a good time to review developments of the past twelve months and to announce some changes in GSE for 2007. Since November 2005, GSE has received 122 new manuscripts, accepted 42 articles (of which 19 were submitted before November 2005) and still has 32 manuscripts in evaluation. Thus the number of submitted manuscripts is constantly increasing while the number of published articles is maintained at around 40 per year. Published articles originate from 15 countries with Spain leading (10), followed by the USA (5), Australia, France and Germany (4 each), UK (3), China, Denmark and Finland (2 each) and finally, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Japan, Norway and Slovenia. Of these 42 published papers, 19 deal with methodologies of quantitative genetics and their applications to animal selection and characterization, six address genetic diversity of populations and breeds and seven fall in the field of molecular genetics. These figures clearly show that GSE is attractive to the animal quantitative genetics community and has acquired a strong experience and reputation in this domain.
To answer this increasing demand, we have asked two new associate editors to join our editorial panel and are pleased that they have agreed: Denis Couvet from the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (France) specialized in conservation biology and population genetics and Frédéric Farnir from the University of Liège (Belgium) whose research interests focus on the genetic and functional study of QTL involved in agricultural traits.
In this editorial note, we also wish to inform you about our misfortune with the calculation of the 2005 Impact Factor published in June 2006 in the "Journal of Citation Reports" by Thompson Scientific. Based on our calculations, the published 2005 IF 1.62 turned out to be erroneous and in disfavour of GSE, which Thompson Scientific has acknowledged. The true 2005 IF is 1.783 and thus, GSE occupies the 5th position in the section "Agriculture, Dairy & Animal Science" and the 82nd in the section "Genetics & Heredity". Corrections in JCR have been done in October 2006.
Finally, GSE and EDP Sciences wish to keep up with the rapid changes of publication systems, i.e. the advent of "Open Access" publishing, to make scientific research widely and freely available. Thus, we are happy to announce that as a first step in this direction, GSE now gives the possibility to authors to choose how they want their paper to be published by offering the "Open Choice" option. With this option, authors can have their articles accepted for publication made available to all interested readers (subscribers or non-subscribers) as soon as they are on-line in exchange of a basic fee, i.e. 550 euros for papers published in 2007 (without VAT).
With all this news, we offer the collaborators, authors and readers of GSE our season greetings and best wishes for a successful and productive New Year 2007.
doi:10.1186/1297-9686-39-1-1
PMCID: PMC3400394
3.  Editorial 
Interventional Neuroradiology  2001;6(4):269-276.
Summary
The 20 key points of the AP-HP document (Assistance Publique des Hopitaux de Paris)
1) Hospital doctors must provide health care recipients with information in compliance with standards laid down by the medical code of ethics.
2) Radiographers and nursing staff must contribute to the provision of information within the framework of their assigned responsibilities and in compliance with their professional rules.
3) Doctors must draft prescriptions clearly, ensure that the patient and immediate family circle understand them and encourage compliance.
4) Doctors have a duty when examining, treating or advising to provide clear, appropriate and fair information regarding the patienťs condition and the investigations and treatment proposed. During the course of the illness, physicians must take into account their patients' individual personalities when providing explanation and ensure these are understood.
5) Unless the condition places others at risk, a particularly grave diagnosis or prognosis may be withheld from a patient if the doctor, in good faith and for legitimate reasons, believes this to be in the best interests of the patient.
6) A patient should be informed of a fatal illness only after due consideration by the physician. Close relatives must always be informed, however, unless the patient has previously forbidden this or designated third parties to impart the information.
7) When several doctors collaborate on a diagnostic or treatment procedure, they must keep each other updated on the case. Each practitioner shall assume personal responsibility and inform the patient within the realm of his/her competence.
8) Oral information is priority and must be clear; fair, understandable and ordered.
9) The duty to inform is continuous. Consistent and constant information must be provided at all stages and, where possible, by the same physician.
10) Information must be provided on the benefits expected from a procedure and possible serious attendant risks; however exceptional.
11) Where possible, the practitioner should always verify that the information imparted has been properly understood.
12) It is recommended that:
- hospital doctors accompany oral information with printed leaflets where these aid understanding;
- departments set down a list of those invasive procedures requiring information leaflets. This practice will also help to standardise presentation of the risks and benefits.
13) Patients should not be requested to sign information sheets.
14) It is recommended that for each patient, one member of the medical team be designated, with responsibility for informing the patient and close relatives.
15) On patient admission, details of the family members to be informed must be systematically collected. Similarly, parents or guardians must be systematically contacted on the admission of children.
16) What information is to be given the patient and close family must be discussed by the medical group and the decisions taken recorded in the patient's file.
17) Each department shall define rules on giving information over the telephone to the family or immediate circle. These rules must be set down in writing and understood by all staff concerned.
18) Any information given to the patient must be noted in the medical file. It is to be presumed that only the details noted have been communicated. In this way, the patients' medical record serves as a communication tool for the various members of the medical team regarding the information given to the patient.
19) Obtaining written patient consent (permission to operate and similar documents) is neither compulsory nor recommended, except where required by law. The law demands that written consent be obtained for the following: biomedical research, fertility treatment, termination of pregnancy, genetic research, harvesting of organs from a living donor; certain organ harvesting from a deceased person, surgical procedures on a child.
20) In the event of litigation centring around failure to inform, no evidence, not even written evidence, is a watertight guarantee that the doctor has fulfilled his obligation. Whether information has been correctly imparted or not will be assessed on the basis of a range of elements such as: the period allowed the patient to take an informed decision, the number of visits, practitioners consulted before proceeding, the systematic provision of information leaflets and the notes made on the patient record.
PMCID: PMC3679700  PMID: 20667205
information to patients, consent, legal issues, radiology, interventional procedures, French hospitals
4.  Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing 
Executive Summary
This report from the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) was intended to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in average risk Canadians and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, this report also includes a systematic literature review of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in these two subgroups.
This evaluation did not set out to determine the serum vitamin D thresholds that might apply to non-bone health outcomes. For bone health outcomes, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support a target serum level above 50 nmol/L. Similarly, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found to support vitamin D’s effects in non-bone health outcomes, other than falls.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a lipid soluble vitamin that acts as a hormone. It stimulates intestinal calcium absorption and is important in maintaining adequate phosphate levels for bone mineralization, bone growth, and remodelling. It’s also believed to be involved in the regulation of cell growth proliferation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), as well as modulation of the immune system and other functions. Alone or in combination with calcium, Vitamin D has also been shown to reduce the risk of fractures in elderly men (≥ 65 years), postmenopausal women, and the risk of falls in community-dwelling seniors. However, in a comprehensive systematic review, inconsistent results were found concerning the effects of vitamin D in conditions such as cancer, all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular disease. In fact, no high or moderate quality evidence could be found concerning the effects of vitamin D in such non-bone health outcomes. Given the uncertainties surrounding the effects of vitamin D in non-bone health related outcomes, it was decided that this evaluation should focus on falls and the effects of vitamin D in bone health and exclusively within average-risk individuals and patients with kidney disease.
Synthesis of vitamin D occurs naturally in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, but it can also be obtained from dietary sources including fortified foods, and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, fish liver oil, and some types of mushrooms. Since it is usually difficult to obtain sufficient vitamin D from non-fortified foods, either due to low content or infrequent use, most vitamin D is obtained from fortified foods, exposure to sunlight, and supplements.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Vitamin D deficiency may lead to rickets in infants and osteomalacia in adults. Factors believed to be associated with vitamin D deficiency include:
darker skin pigmentation,
winter season,
living at higher latitudes,
skin coverage,
kidney disease,
malabsorption syndromes such as Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and
genetic factors.
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency due to either renal losses or decreased synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
Health Canada currently recommends that, until the daily recommended intakes (DRI) for vitamin D are updated, Canada’s Food Guide (Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide) should be followed with respect to vitamin D intake. Issued in 2007, the Guide recommends that Canadians consume two cups (500 ml) of fortified milk or fortified soy beverages daily in order to obtain a daily intake of 200 IU. In addition, men and women over the age of 50 should take 400 IU of vitamin D supplements daily. Additional recommendations were made for breastfed infants.
A Canadian survey evaluated the median vitamin D intake derived from diet alone (excluding supplements) among 35,000 Canadians, 10,900 of which were from Ontario. Among Ontarian males ages 9 and up, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake ranged between 196 IU and 272 IU per day. Among females, it varied from 152 IU to 196 IU per day. In boys and girls ages 1 to 3, the median daily dietary vitamin D intake was 248 IU, while among those 4 to 8 years it was 224 IU.
Vitamin D Testing
Two laboratory tests for vitamin D are available, 25-hydroxy vitamin D, referred to as 25(OH)D, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. Vitamin D status is assessed by measuring the serum 25(OH)D levels, which can be assayed using radioimmunoassays, competitive protein-binding assays (CPBA), high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). These may yield different results with inter-assay variation reaching up to 25% (at lower serum levels) and intra-assay variation reaching 10%.
The optimal serum concentration of vitamin D has not been established and it may change across different stages of life. Similarly, there is currently no consensus on target serum vitamin D levels. There does, however, appear to be a consensus on the definition of vitamin D deficiency at 25(OH)D < 25 nmol/l, which is based on the risk of diseases such as rickets and osteomalacia. Higher target serum levels have also been proposed based on subclinical endpoints such as parathyroid hormone (PTH). Therefore, in this report, two conservative target serum levels have been adopted, 25 nmol/L (based on the risk of rickets and osteomalacia), and 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on vitamin D’s interaction with PTH).
Ontario Context
Volume & Cost
The volume of vitamin D tests done in Ontario has been increasing over the past 5 years with a steep increase of 169,000 tests in 2007 to more than 393,400 tests in 2008. The number of tests continues to rise with the projected number of tests for 2009 exceeding 731,000. According to the Ontario Schedule of Benefits, the billing cost of each test is $51.7 for 25(OH)D (L606, 100 LMS units, $0.517/unit) and $77.6 for 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (L605, 150 LMS units, $0.517/unit). Province wide, the total annual cost of vitamin D testing has increased from approximately $1.7M in 2004 to over $21.0M in 2008. The projected annual cost for 2009 is approximately $38.8M.
Evidence-Based Analysis
The objective of this report is to evaluate the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in those with kidney disease. As a separate analysis, the report also sought to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada. The specific research questions addressed were thus:
What is the clinical utility of vitamin D testing in the average risk population and in subjects with kidney disease?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in the average risk population in Canada?
What is the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in patients with kidney disease in Canada?
Clinical utility was defined as the ability to improve bone health outcomes with the focus on the average risk population (excluding those with osteoporosis) and patients with kidney disease.
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 17th, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1998 until July 17th, 2009. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Observational studies that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada in the population of interest were included based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria listed below. The baseline values were used in this report in the case of interventional studies that evaluated the effect of vitamin D intake on serum levels. Studies published in grey literature were included if no studies published in the peer-reviewed literature were identified for specific outcomes or subgroups.
Considering that vitamin D status may be affected by factors such as latitude, sun exposure, food fortification, among others, the search focused on prevalence studies published in Canada. In cases where no Canadian prevalence studies were identified, the decision was made to include studies from the United States, given the similar policies in vitamin D food fortification and recommended daily intake.
Inclusion Criteria
Studies published in English
Publications that reported the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada
Studies that included subjects from the general population or with kidney disease
Studies in children or adults
Studies published between January 1998 and July 17th 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Studies that included subjects defined according to a specific disease other than kidney disease
Letters, comments, and editorials
Studies that measured the serum vitamin D levels but did not report the percentage of subjects with serum levels below a given threshold
Outcomes of Interest
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 25 nmol/L
Prevalence of serum vitamin D less than 40 to 50 nmol/L
Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D was the metabolite used to assess vitamin D status. Results from adult and children studies were reported separately. Subgroup analyses according to factors that affect serum vitamin D levels (e.g., seasonal effects, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake) were reported if enough information was provided in the studies
Quality of Evidence
The quality of the prevalence studies was based on the method of subject recruitment and sampling, possibility of selection bias, and generalizability to the source population. The overall quality of the trials was examined according to the GRADE Working Group criteria.
Summary of Findings
Fourteen prevalence studies examining Canadian adults and children met the eligibility criteria. With the exception of one longitudinal study, the studies had a cross-sectional design. Two studies were conducted among Canadian adults with renal disease but none studied Canadian children with renal disease (though three such US studies were included). No systematic reviews or health technology assessments that evaluated the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canada were identified. Two studies were published in grey literature, consisting of a Canadian survey designed to measure serum vitamin D levels and a study in infants presented as an abstract at a conference. Also included were the results of vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories in Ontario between October 2008 and September 2009 (provided by the Ontario Association of Medical Laboratories).
Different threshold levels were used in the studies, thus we reported the percentage of subjects with serum levels of between 25 and 30 nmol/L and between 37.5 and 50 nmol/L. Some studies stratified the results according to factors affecting vitamin D status and two used multivariate models to investigate the effects of these characteristics (including age, season, BMI, vitamin D intake, skin pigmentation, and season) on serum 25(OH)D levels. It’s unclear, however, if these studies were adequately powered for these subgroup analyses.
Study participants generally consisted of healthy, community-dwelling subjects and most excluded individuals with conditions or medications that alter vitamin D or bone metabolism, such as kidney or liver disease. Although the studies were conducted in different parts of Canada, fewer were performed in Northern latitudes, i.e. above 53°N, which is equivalent to the city of Edmonton.
Adults
Serum vitamin D levels of < 25 to 30 nmol/L were observed in 0% to 25.5% of the subjects included in five studies; the weighted average was 3.8% (95% CI: 3.0, 4.6). The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that approximately 5% of the subjects had serum levels below 29.5 nmol/L. The results of over 600,000 vitamin D tests performed in Ontarian community laboratories between October 2008 and September 2009 showed that 2.6% of adults (> 18 years) had serum levels < 25 nmol/L.
The prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below 37.5-50 nmol/L reported among studies varied widely, ranging from 8% to 73.6% with a weighted average of 22.5%. The preliminary results of the CHMS survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects had serum levels below 37 to 48 nmol/L. The results of the vitamin D tests performed in community laboratories showed that 10% to 25% of the individuals had serum levels between 39 and 50 nmol/L.
In an attempt to explain this inter-study variation, the study results were stratified according to factors affecting serum vitamin D levels, as summarized below. These results should be interpreted with caution as none were adjusted for other potential confounders. Adequately powered multivariate analyses would be necessary to determine the contribution of risk factors to lower serum 25(OH)D levels.
Seasonal variation
Three adult studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in different seasons observed a trend towards a higher prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L during the winter and spring months, specifically 21% to 39%, compared to 8% to 14% in the summer. The weighted average was 23.6% over the winter/spring months and 9.6% over summer. The difference between the seasons was not statistically significant in one study and not reported in the other two studies.
Skin Pigmentation
Four studies observed a trend toward a higher prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L in subjects with darker skin pigmentation compared to those with lighter skin pigmentation, with weighted averages of 46.8% among adults with darker skin colour and 15.9% among those with fairer skin.
Vitamin D intake and serum levels
Four adult studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels according to vitamin D intake and showed an overall trend toward a lower prevalence of serum levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L with higher levels of vitamin D intake. One study observed a dose-response relationship between higher vitamin D intake from supplements, diet (milk), and sun exposure (results not adjusted for other variables). It was observed that subjects taking 50 to 400 IU or > 400 IU of vitamin D per day had a 6% and 3% prevalence of serum vitamin D level < 40 nmol/L, respectively, versus 29% in subjects not on vitamin D supplementation. Similarly, among subjects drinking one or two glasses of milk per day, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was found to be 15%, versus 6% in those who drink more than two glasses of milk per day and 21% among those who do not drink milk. On the other hand, one study observed little variation in serum vitamin D levels during winter according to milk intake, with the proportion of subjects exhibiting vitamin D levels of < 40 nmol/L being 21% among those drinking 0-2 glasses per day, 26% among those drinking > 2 glasses, and 20% among non-milk drinkers.
The overall quality of evidence for the studies conducted among adults was deemed to be low, although it was considered moderate for the subgroups of skin pigmentation and seasonal variation.
Newborn, Children and Adolescents
Five Canadian studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in newborns, children, and adolescents. In four of these, it was found that between 0 and 36% of children exhibited deficiency across age groups with a weighted average of 6.4%. The results of over 28,000 vitamin D tests performed in children 0 to 18 years old in Ontario laboratories (Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2009) showed that 4.4% had serum levels of < 25 nmol/L.
According to two studies, 32% of infants 24 to 30 months old and 35.3% of newborns had serum vitamin D levels of < 50 nmol/L. Two studies of children 2 to 16 years old reported that 24.5% and 34% had serum vitamin D levels below 37.5 to 40 nmol/L. In both studies, older children exhibited a higher prevalence than younger children, with weighted averages 34.4% and 10.3%, respectively. The overall weighted average of the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 37.5 to 50 nmol/L among pediatric studies was 25.8%. The preliminary results of the Canadian survey showed that between 10% and 25% of subjects between 6 and 11 years (N= 435) had serum levels below 50 nmol/L, while for those 12 to 19 years, 25% to 50% exhibited serum vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/L.
The effects of season, skin pigmentation, and vitamin D intake were not explored in Canadian pediatric studies. A Canadian surveillance study did, however, report 104 confirmed cases1 (2.9 cases per 100,000 children) of vitamin D-deficient rickets among Canadian children age 1 to 18 between 2002 and 2004, 57 (55%) of which from Ontario. The highest incidence occurred among children living in the North, i.e., the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. In 92 (89%) cases, skin pigmentation was categorized as intermediate to dark, 98 (94%) had been breastfed, and 25 (24%) were offspring of immigrants to Canada. There were no cases of rickets in children receiving ≥ 400 IU VD supplementation/day.
Overall, the quality of evidence of the studies of children was considered very low.
Kidney Disease
Adults
Two studies evaluated serum vitamin D levels in Canadian adults with kidney disease. The first included 128 patients with chronic kidney disease stages 3 to 5, 38% of which had serum vitamin D levels of < 37.5 nmol/L (measured between April and July). This is higher than what was reported in Canadian studies of the general population during the summer months (i.e. between 8% and 14%). In the second, which examined 419 subjects who had received a renal transplantation (mean time since transplantation: 7.2 ± 6.4 years), the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels < 40 nmol/L was 27.3%. The authors concluded that the prevalence observed in the study population was similar to what is expected in the general population.
Children
No studies evaluating serum vitamin D levels in Canadian pediatric patients with kidney disease could be identified, although three such US studies among children with chronic kidney disease stages 1 to 5 were. The mean age varied between 10.7 and 12.5 years in two studies but was not reported in the third. Across all three studies, the prevalence of serum vitamin D levels below the range of 37.5 to 50 nmol/L varied between 21% and 39%, which is not considerably different from what was observed in studies of healthy Canadian children (24% to 35%).
Overall, the quality of evidence in adults and children with kidney disease was considered very low.
Clinical Utility of Vitamin D Testing
A high quality comprehensive systematic review published in August 2007 evaluated the association between serum vitamin D levels and different bone health outcomes in different age groups. A total of 72 studies were included. The authors observed that there was a trend towards improvement in some bone health outcomes with higher serum vitamin D levels. Nevertheless, precise thresholds for improved bone health outcomes could not be defined across age groups. Further, no new studies on the association were identified during an updated systematic review on vitamin D published in July 2009.
With regards to non-bone health outcomes, there is no high or even moderate quality evidence that supports the effectiveness of vitamin D in outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality. Even if there is any residual uncertainty, there is no evidence that testing vitamin D levels encourages adherence to Health Canada’s guidelines for vitamin D intake. A normal serum vitamin D threshold required to prevent non-bone health related conditions cannot be resolved until a causal effect or correlation has been demonstrated between vitamin D levels and these conditions. This is as an ongoing research issue around which there is currently too much uncertainty to base any conclusions that would support routine vitamin D testing.
For patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), there is again no high or moderate quality evidence supporting improved outcomes through the use of calcitriol or vitamin D analogs. In the absence of such data, the authors of the guidelines for CKD patients consider it best practice to maintain serum calcium and phosphate at normal levels, while supplementation with active vitamin D should be considered if serum PTH levels are elevated. As previously stated, the authors of guidelines for CKD patients believe that there is not enough evidence to support routine vitamin D [25(OH)D] testing. According to what is stated in the guidelines, decisions regarding the commencement or discontinuation of treatment with calcitriol or vitamin D analogs should be based on serum PTH, calcium, and phosphate levels.
Limitations associated with the evidence of vitamin D testing include ambiguities in the definition of an ‘adequate threshold level’ and both inter- and intra- assay variability. The MAS considers both the lack of a consensus on the target serum vitamin D levels and assay limitations directly affect and undermine the clinical utility of testing. The evidence supporting the clinical utility of vitamin D testing is thus considered to be of very low quality.
Daily vitamin D intake, either through diet or supplementation, should follow Health Canada’s recommendations for healthy individuals of different age groups. For those with medical conditions such as renal disease, liver disease, and malabsorption syndromes, and for those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, physician guidance should be followed with respect to both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
Conclusions
Studies indicate that vitamin D, alone or in combination with calcium, may decrease the risk of fractures and falls among older adults.
There is no high or moderate quality evidence to support the effectiveness of vitamin D in other outcomes such as cancer, cardiovascular outcomes, and all-cause mortality.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Canadian adults and children is relatively low (approximately 5%), and between 10% and 25% have serum levels below 40 to 50 nmol/L (based on very low to low grade evidence).
Given the limitations associated with serum vitamin D measurement, ambiguities in the definition of a ‘target serum level’, and the availability of clear guidelines on vitamin D supplementation from Health Canada, vitamin D testing is not warranted for the average risk population.
Health Canada has issued recommendations regarding the adequate daily intake of vitamin D, but current studies suggest that the mean dietary intake is below these recommendations. Accordingly, Health Canada’s guidelines and recommendations should be promoted.
Based on a moderate level of evidence, individuals with darker skin pigmentation appear to have a higher risk of low serum vitamin D levels than those with lighter skin pigmentation and therefore may need to be specially targeted with respect to optimum vitamin D intake. The cause-effect of this association is currently unclear.
Individuals with medical conditions such as renal and liver disease, osteoporosis, and malabsorption syndromes, as well as those taking medications that may affect vitamin D absorption/metabolism, should follow their physician’s guidance concerning both vitamin D testing and supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3377517  PMID: 23074397
5.  Anatomy of the Epidemiological Literature on the 2003 SARS Outbreaks in Hong Kong and Toronto: A Time-Stratified Review 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000272.
Weijia Xing and colleagues reviewed the published epidemiological literature on SARS and show that less than a quarter of papers were published during the epidemic itself, suggesting that the research published lagged substantially behind the need for it.
Background
Outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases, especially those of a global nature, require rapid epidemiological analysis and information dissemination. The final products of those activities usually comprise internal memoranda and briefs within public health authorities and original research published in peer-reviewed journals. Using the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic as an example, we conducted a comprehensive time-stratified review of the published literature to describe the different types of epidemiological outputs.
Methods and Findings
We identified and analyzed all published articles on the epidemiology of the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong or Toronto. The analysis was stratified by study design, research domain, data collection, and analytical technique. We compared the SARS-case and matched-control non-SARS articles published according to the timeline of submission, acceptance, and publication. The impact factors of the publishing journals were examined according to the time of publication of SARS articles, and the numbers of citations received by SARS-case and matched-control articles submitted during and after the epidemic were compared. Descriptive, analytical, theoretical, and experimental epidemiology concerned, respectively, 54%, 30%, 11%, and 6% of the studies. Only 22% of the studies were submitted, 8% accepted, and 7% published during the epidemic. The submission-to-acceptance and acceptance-to-publication intervals of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic period were significantly shorter than the corresponding intervals of matched-control non-SARS articles published in the same journal issues (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). The differences of median submission-to-acceptance intervals and median acceptance-to-publication intervals between SARS articles and their corresponding control articles were 106.5 d (95% confidence interval [CI] 55.0–140.1) and 63.5 d (95% CI 18.0–94.1), respectively. The median numbers of citations of the SARS articles submitted during the epidemic and over the 2 y thereafter were 17 (interquartile range [IQR] 8.0–52.0) and 8 (IQR 3.2–21.8), respectively, significantly higher than the median numbers of control article citations (15, IQR 8.5–16.5, p<0.05, and 7, IQR 3.0–12.0, p<0.01, respectively).
Conclusions
A majority of the epidemiological articles on SARS were submitted after the epidemic had ended, although the corresponding studies had relevance to public health authorities during the epidemic. To minimize the lag between research and the exigency of public health practice in the future, researchers should consider adopting common, predefined protocols and ready-to-use instruments to improve timeliness, and thus, relevance, in addition to standardizing comparability across studies. To facilitate information dissemination, journal managers should reengineer their fast-track channels, which should be adapted to the purpose of an emerging outbreak, taking into account the requirement of high standards of quality for scientific journals and competition with other online resources.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every now and then, a new infectious disease appears in a human population or an old disease becomes much more common or more geographically widespread. Recently, several such “emerging infectious diseases” have become major public health problems. For example, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) have all emerged in the past three decades and spread rapidly round the world. When an outbreak (epidemic) of an emerging infectious disease occurs, epidemiologists (scientists who study the causes, distribution, and control of diseases in populations) swing into action, collecting and analyzing data on the new threat to human health. Epidemiological studies are rapidly launched to identify the causative agent of the new disease, to investigate how the disease spreads, to define diagnostic criteria for the disease, to evaluate potential treatments, and to devise ways to control the disease's spread. Public health officials then use the results of these studies to bring the epidemic under control.
Why Was This Study Done?
Clearly, epidemics of emerging infectious diseases can only be controlled rapidly and effectively if the results of epidemiological studies are made widely available in a timely manner. Public health bulletins (for example, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the US Centers from Disease Control and Prevention) are an important way of disseminating information as is the publication of original research in peer-reviewed academic journals. But how timely is this second dissemination route? Submission, peer-review, revision, re-review, acceptance, and publication of a piece of academic research can be a long process, the speed of which is affected by the responses of both authors and journals. In this study, the researchers analyze how the results of academic epidemiological research are submitted and published in journals during and after an emerging infectious disease epidemic using the 2003 SARS epidemic as an example. The first case of SARS was identified in Asia in February 2003 and rapidly spread around the world. 8,098 people became ill with SARS and 774 died before the epidemic was halted in July 2003.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified more than 300 journal articles covering epidemiological research into the SARS outbreak in Hong Kong, China, and Toronto, Canada (two cities strongly affected by the epidemic) that were published online or in print between January 1, 2003 and July 31, 2007. The researchers' analysis of these articles shows that more than half them were descriptive epidemiological studies, investigations that focused on describing the distribution of SARS; a third were analytical epidemiological studies that tried to discover the cause of SARS. Overall, 22% of the journal articles were submitted for publication during the epidemic. Only 8% of the articles were accepted for publication and only 7% were actually published during the epidemic. The median (average) submission-to-acceptance and acceptance-to-publication intervals for SARS articles submitted during the epidemic were 55 and 77.5 days, respectively, much shorter intervals than those for non-SARS articles published in the same journal issues. After the epidemic was over, the submission-to-acceptance and acceptance-to-publication intervals for SARS articles was similar to that of non-SARS articles.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, although the academic response to the SARS epidemic was rapid, most articles on the epidemiology of SARS were published after the epidemic was over even though SARS was a major threat to public health. Possible reasons for this publication delay include the time taken by authors to prepare and undertake their studies, to write and submit their papers, and, possibly, their tendency to first submit their results to high profile journals. The time then taken by journals to review the studies, make decisions about publication, and complete the publication process might also have delayed matters. To minimize future delays in the publication of epidemiological research on emerging infectious diseases, epidemiologists could adopt common, predefined protocols and ready-to-use instruments, which would improve timeliness and ensure comparability across studies, suggest the researchers. Journals, in turn, could improve their fast-track procedures and could consider setting up online sections that could be activated when an emerging infectious disease outbreak occurred. Finally, journals could consider altering their review system to speed up the publication process provided the quality of the final published articles was not compromised.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000272.
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on emerging infectious diseases
The US Centers for Control and Prevention of Diseases also provides information about emerging infectious diseases, including links to other resources, and information on SARS
Wikipedia has a page on epidemiology (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The World Health Organization has information on SARS (in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000272
PMCID: PMC2864302  PMID: 20454570
6.  Osteopathy may decrease obstructive apnea in infants: a pilot study 
Background
Obstructive apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep: breathing is interrupted by a physical block to airflow despite effort. The purpose of this study was to test if osteopathy could influence the incidence of obstructive apnea during sleep in infants.
Methods
Thirty-four healthy infants (age: 1.5–4.0 months) were recruited and randomized in two groups; six infants dropped out. The osteopathy treatment group (n = 15 infants) received 2 osteopathic treatments in a period of 2 weeks and a control group (n = 13 infants) received 2 non-specific treatments in the same period of time. The main outcome measure was the change in the number of obstructive apneas measured during an 8-hour polysomnographic recording before and after the two treatment sessions.
Results
The results of the second polysomnographic recordings showed a significant decrease in the number of obstructive apneas in the osteopathy group (p = 0.01, Wilcoxon test), in comparison to the control group showing only a trend suggesting a gradual physiologic decrease of obstructive apneas. However, the difference in the decline of obstructive apneas between the groups after treatment was not significant (p = 0.43).
Conclusion
Osteopathy may have a positive influence on the incidence of obstructive apneas during sleep in infants with a previous history of obstructive apneas as measured by polysomnography. Additional research in this area appears warranted.
doi:10.1186/1750-4732-2-8
PMCID: PMC2500035  PMID: 18638410
7.  The aconitate hydratase family from Citrus 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:222.
Background
Research on citrus fruit ripening has received considerable attention because of the importance of citrus fruits for the human diet. Organic acids are among the main determinants of taste and organoleptic quality of fruits and hence the control of fruit acidity loss has a strong economical relevance. In citrus, organic acids accumulate in the juice sac cells of developing fruits and are catabolized thereafter during ripening. Aconitase, that transforms citrate to isocitrate, is the first step of citric acid catabolism and a major component of the citrate utilization machinery. In this work, the citrus aconitase gene family was first characterized and a phylogenetic analysis was then carried out in order to understand the evolutionary history of this family in plants. Gene expression analyses of the citrus aconitase family were subsequently performed in several acidic and acidless genotypes to elucidate their involvement in acid homeostasis.
Results
Analysis of 460,000 citrus ESTs, followed by sequencing of complete cDNA clones, identified in citrus 3 transcription units coding for putatively active aconitate hydratase proteins, named as CcAco1, CcAco2 and CcAco3. A phylogenetic study carried on the Aco family in 14 plant species, shows the presence of 5 Aco subfamilies, and that the ancestor of monocot and dicot species shared at least one Aco gene. Real-time RT-PCR expression analyses of the three aconitase citrus genes were performed in pulp tissues along fruit development in acidic and acidless citrus varieties such as mandarins, oranges and lemons. While CcAco3 expression was always low, CcAco1 and CcAco2 genes were generally induced during the rapid phase of fruit growth along with the maximum in acidity and the beginning of the acid reduction. Two exceptions to this general pattern were found: 1) Clemenules mandarin failed inducing CcAco2 although acid levels were rapidly reduced; and 2) the acidless "Sucreña" orange showed unusually high levels of expression of both aconitases, an observation correlating with the acidless phenotype. However, in the acidless "Dulce" lemon aconitase expression was normal suggesting that the acidless trait in this variety is not dependent upon aconitases.
Conclusions
Phylogenetic studies showed the occurrence of five different subfamilies of aconitate hydratase in plants and sequence analyses indentified three active genes in citrus. The pattern of expression of two of these genes, CcAco1 and CcAco2, was normally associated with the timing of acid content reduction in most genotypes. Two exceptions to this general observation suggest the occurrence of additional regulatory steps of citrate homeostasis in citrus.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-222
PMCID: PMC3017834  PMID: 20958971
8.  Rabies trend in China (1990–2007) and post-exposure prophylaxis in the Guangdong province 
Background
Rabies is a major public-health problem in developing countries such as China. Although the recent re-emergence of human rabies in China was noted in several epidemiological studies, little attention was paid to the reasons behind this phenomenon paralleling the findings of the previous reports. The purpose of this study is thus first to characterize the current trends of human rabies in China from 1990 to 2007, and then to define better recommendations for improving the post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) schedules delivered to rabies patients.
Methods
The most updated epidemiological data for 22527 human rabies cases from January 1990 to July 2007, retrieved from the surveillance database of reportable diseases managed by the Ministry of Health of China, were analysed. To investigate the efficiency for the post-exposure treatment of rabies, the details of 244 rabies patients, including their anti-rabies treatment of injuries or related incidents, were ascertained in Guangdong provincial jurisdiction. The risk factors to which the patients were predisposed or the regimens given to 80 patients who received any type of PEP were analysed to identify the reasons for the PEP failures.
Results
The results from analysis of the large number of human rabies cases showed that rabies in China was largely under control during the period 1990–1996. However, there has been a large jump in the number of reported rabies cases since 2001 up to a new peak (with an incidence rate of 0.20 per 100000 people) that was reached in 2004, and where the level has remained until present. Then, we analysed the PEP in 244 rabies cases collected in the Guangdong province in 2003 and 2004, and found that 67.2% of the patients did not seek medical services or did not receive any PEP. Further analysis of PEP for the 80 rabies patients who received any type of PEP indicated that almost all of the patients did not receive proper or timely treatment on the wounds or post-exposure vaccination or rabies immunoglobulins.
Conclusion
While the issue of under-reporting of rabies in previous years may well be a factor in the apparent upwards trend of human rabies in recent years, the analysis of PEP in the Guangdong province provides evidence that suggests that the failure to receive PEP was a major factor in the number of human cases in China. Thus, the data underline the need for greatly improved availability and timely application of high-quality anti-rabies biologicals, both vaccines and immunoglobulins, in the treatment of human bite victims. Controlling dog rabies through pet vaccination schemes may also play a huge role in reducing the rate of human exposure. Education of the public, health care staff and veterinarians will also help to change the current situation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-8-113
PMCID: PMC2532688  PMID: 18717989
9.  A Longitudinal Study of Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Dependence Treatments in Massachusetts and Associated Decreases in Hospitalizations for Cardiovascular Disease 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000375.
Thomas Land and colleagues show that among Massachusetts Medicaid subscribers, use of a comprehensive tobacco cessation pharmacotherapy benefit was followed by a substantial decrease in claims for hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction and acute coronary heart disease.
Background
Insurance coverage of tobacco cessation medications increases their use and reduces smoking prevalence in a population. However, uncertainty about the impact of this coverage on health care utilization and costs is a barrier to the broader adoption of this policy, especially by publicly funded state Medicaid insurance programs. Whether a publicly funded tobacco cessation benefit leads to decreased medical claims for tobacco-related diseases has not been studied. We examined the experience of Massachusetts, whose Medicaid program adopted comprehensive coverage of tobacco cessation medications in July 2006. Over 75,000 Medicaid subscribers used the benefit in the first 2.5 years. On the basis of earlier secondary survey work, it was estimated that smoking prevalence declined among subscribers by 10% during this period.
Methods and Findings
Using claims data, we compared the probability of hospitalization prior to use of the tobacco cessation pharmacotherapy benefit with the probability of hospitalization after benefit use among Massachusetts Medicaid beneficiaries, adjusting for demographics, comorbidities, seasonality, influenza cases, and the implementation of the statewide smoke-free air law using generalized estimating equations. Statistically significant annualized declines of 46% (95% confidence interval 2%–70%) and 49% (95% confidence interval 6%–72%) were observed in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction and other acute coronary heart disease diagnoses, respectively. There were no significant decreases in hospitalizations rates for respiratory diagnoses or seven other diagnostic groups evaluated.
Conclusions
Among Massachusetts Medicaid subscribers, use of a comprehensive tobacco cessation pharmacotherapy benefit was associated with a significant decrease in claims for hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction and acute coronary heart disease, but no significant change in hospital claims for other diagnoses. For low-income smokers, removing the barriers to the use of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy has the potential to decrease short-term utilization of hospital services.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. Globally, it is responsible for one in ten deaths among adults. In developed countries, the death toll is even higher—in the USA and the UK, for example, one in five deaths are caused by cigarette smoking. In the USA alone, where a fifth of adults smoke, smoking accounts for more than 400,000 deaths every year; globally, smoking causes 5 million deaths per year. On average, smokers die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers, and half of all long-term smokers will die prematurely because of a smoking-related disease. These diseases include lung cancer, other types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases such as chronic airway obstruction, bronchitis, and emphysema. And, for every smoker who dies from one of these smoking-related diseases, another 20 will develop at least one serious disease because of their addiction to tobacco.
Why Was This Study Done?
About half of US smokers try to quit each year but most of these attempts fail. Many experts believe that counseling and/or treatment with tobacco cessation medications such as nicotine replacement products help smokers to quit. In the USA, where health care is paid for through private or state health insurance, there is some evidence that insurance coverage of tobacco cessation medications increases their use and reduces smoking prevalence. However, smoking cessation treatment is poorly covered by US health insurance programs, largely because of uncertainty about the impact of such coverage on health care costs. It is unknown, for example, whether the introduction of publicly funded tobacco cessation benefits decreases claims for treatment for tobacco-related diseases. In this longitudinal study (a study that follows a group of individuals over a period of time), the researchers ask whether the adoption of comprehensive coverage of tobacco cessation medications by the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) in July 2006 has affected claims for treatment for tobacco-related diseases. During its first two and half years, more than 75,000 MassHealth subscribers used the tobacco cessation medication benefit and smoking prevalence among subscribers declined by approximately 10% (38.3% to 28.8%).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used MassHealth claims data and a statistical method called generalized estimating equations to compare the probability of hospitalization prior to the use of tobacco cessation medication benefit with the probability of hospitalization after benefit use among MassHealth subscribers. After adjusting for other factors that might have affected hospitalization such as influenza outbreaks and the implementation of the Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law in July 2004, there was a statistically significant annualized decline in hospital admissions for heart attack of 46% after use of the tobacco cessation medication benefit. That is, the calculated annual rate of admissions for heart attacks was 46% lower after use of the benefit than before among MassHealth beneficiaries. There was also a 49% annualized decline in admissions for coronary atherosclerosis, another smoking-related heart disease. There were no significant changes in hospitalization rates for lung diseases (including asthma, pneumonia, and chronic airway obstruction) or for seven other diagnostic groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among MassHealth subscribers, the use of a tobacco cessation medication benefit was followed by a significant decrease in claims for hospitalization for heart attack and for coronary atherosclerosis but not for other diseases. It does not, however, show that the reduced claims for hospitalization were associated with a reduction in smoking because smoking cessation was not recorded by MassHealth. Furthermore, it is possible that the people who used the tobacco cessation medication benefit shared other characteristics that reduced their chances of hospitalization for heart disease. For example, people using tobacco cessation medication might have been more likely to adhere to prescription schedules for medications such as statins that would also reduce their risk of heart disease. Finally, these findings might be unique to Massachusetts, so similar studies need to be undertaken in other states. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that, for low-income smokers, removing financial barriers to the use of smoking cessation medications has the potential to produce short-term decreases in the use of hospital services that will, hopefully, outweigh the costs of comprehensive tobacco cessation medication benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000375.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office on Smoking and Health has information on all aspects of smoking and health, including advice on how to quit
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site provides advice about quitting smoking; more advice on quitting is provided by Smokefree
The American Heart Association provides information on heart disease, including advice on how to quit smoking (in several languages)
Information about MassHealth is available, including information on smoking and tobacco use prevention
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000375
PMCID: PMC3000429  PMID: 21170313
10.  Is Content of Medical Journals Related to Advertisements? Case-control Study 
Croatian medical journal  2007;48(6):786-790.
Aim
To assess the relatedness of journal content to paid advertisements published in the journal.
Methods
The case-control study was performed on a convenience sample of 7 journals subscribed by Central Medical Library in Moscow – 4 international (American Journal of Hypertension, British Journal of General Practice, The Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine) and 3 Russian peer reviewed journals (Terapevticheskii Arkhiv, Khirurgiia, and Voeno-Meditsinskii Zhurnal). In each issue containing a paid advertisement, classifieds excluded, we searched for articles related to the advertised product and compared this issue with a control issue – the next or a later issue without this advertisement.
Results
In American Journal of Hypertension (33 issues from 2002-2004) 94 placements of advertisements were found, 7 of which were closely related to the article topic in the same issue (7/94) vs 2/66 in the control issue. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for advertisements to be accompanied by related articles was OR, 2.6; 95%CI, 0.5-13). In British Journal of General Practice (27 issues from 2003-2005) there were 7/63 advertisements related to the article topic vs 0/28 in the control issue (OR, 7.2; 95% CI, 1.3 to 44). In The Lancet (49 issues from 2004) there were 8/162 advertisements related to the article topic vs 8/104 in the control issue (OR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.3-1.5). In New England Journal of Medicine (37 issues from 2004) there were 12/81 advertisements related to the article topic vs 8/75 in the control issue (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 0.56-3.79). In Terapevticheskii Arkhiv (10 issues from 2004) there were 38/93 advertisements related to the article topic vs 1/83 in the control issue (OR, 56.66; 95% CI, 4.4-253). In Khirurgiia (25 issues from 2003-2005) there were 3/83 advertisements related to the article topic vs 0/70 in the control issue (OR, 2.7; 95% CI, 0.3-26). In Voeno-Meditsinskii Zhurnal (33 issues from 2003-2005) there were 17/31 advertisements related to the article topic vs 2/31 in the control issue (OR,17.6; 95% CI, 3.6-87).
Conclusions
The strong relatedness between the content of the articles and advertisements placed in 3 of 7 journals and explicit placement of the advertisements face to face or overleaf the related research articles support the hypothesis that journal content is manipulated to place more emphasis on the advertisements.
doi:10.3325/cmj.2007.6.786
PMCID: PMC2213802  PMID: 18074412
11.  The Safety of Adult Male Circumcision in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Men in Rakai, Uganda 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(6):e116.
Background
The objective of the study was to compare rates of adverse events (AEs) related to male circumcision (MC) in HIV-positive and HIV-negative men in order to provide guidance for MC programs that may provide services to HIV-infected and uninfected men.
Methods and Findings
A total of 2,326 HIV-negative and 420 HIV-positive men (World Health Organization [WHO] stage I or II and CD4 counts > 350 cells/mm3) were circumcised in two separate but procedurally identical trials of MC for HIV and/or sexually transmitted infection prevention in rural Rakai, Uganda. Participants were followed at 1–2 d and 5–9 d, and at 4–6 wk, to assess surgery-related AEs, wound healing, and resumption of intercourse. AE risks and wound healing were compared in HIV-positive and HIV-negative men. Adjusted odds ratios (AdjORs) were estimated by multiple logistic regression, adjusting for baseline characteristics and postoperative resumption of sex. At enrollment, HIV-positive men were older, more likely to be married, reported more sexual partners, less condom use, and higher rates of sexually transmitted disease symptoms than HIV-negative men. Risks of moderate or severe AEs were 3.1/100 and 3.5/100 in HIV-positive and HIV-negative participants, respectively (AdjOR 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.47–1.74). Infections were the most common AEs (2.6/100 in HIV-positive versus 3.0/100 in HIV-negative men). Risks of other complications were similar in the two groups. The proportion with completed healing by 6 wk postsurgery was 92.7% in HIV-positive men and 95.8% in HIV-negative men (p = 0.007). AEs were more common in men who resumed intercourse before wound healing compared to those who waited (AdjOR 1.56, 95% CI 1.05–2.33).
Conclusions
Overall, the safety of MC was comparable in asymptomatic HIV-positive and HIV-negative men, although healing was somewhat slower among the HIV infected. All men should be strongly counseled to refrain from intercourse until full wound healing is achieved.
Trial registration: http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov; for HIV-negative men, #NCT00047073 and for HIV-positive men, #NCT00047073.
Ron Gray and colleagues report on complications of circumcision in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected men from two related trials in Uganda, finding increased risk with intercourse before wound healing.
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide over 33 million people are thought to be living with HIV, and in the absence of a vaccine, preventing its spread is a major health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) estimate that 68% of 2.5 million new infections worldwide in 2007 took place in sub-Saharan Africa, where 76% of 2.1 million AIDS-related deaths also took place.
One of the principal means of person-to-person transmission of HIV is through sex without the protection of a condom. In parts of Africa, male circumcision is performed in infancy or childhood for religious or cultural reasons or is a traditional rite of passage that marks the transition from child to man. Three trials, in South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda, each found that circumcised men were around half as likely as uncircumcised men to contract HIV from HIV-positive female partners. After reviewing the results, WHO and UNAIDS issued joint advice that male circumcision should be promoted for preventing HIV infection in heterosexual men. As male circumcision does not provide complete protection against HIV infection, they advised that it should be promoted in addition to existing strategies of promoting condom use, abstinence, and a reduction in the number of sexual partners.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although earlier studies had shown that adult male circumcision, when performed in Africa under optimal conditions, is a safe procedure for HIV-negative men, it was not known whether it would also be a safe procedure for HIV-positive men. WHO guidelines recommend that HIV-positive men who request the procedure or have a medical need and no contraindications for it should be circumcised. Also, exclusion of HIV-positive men from circumcision programs may result in stigmatization of these men, and discourage participation by men who do not wish to be tested for HIV. Therefore, it is important to know whether the procedure is safe for HIV-positive men.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors compared results from two separate clinical trials carried out with identical procedures in rural Rakai, Uganda. The first, which compared the effect of circumcision with no circumcision in HIV-negative men, was one of the three trials that persuaded the WHO and UNAIDS to promote male circumcision as an HIV prevention strategy. The second Rakai trial did the same comparison but in men who were HIV positive and without symptoms. In this present study, the authors used data from both trials to compare the likelihood of surgery-related complications following circumcision for HIV-negative and HIV-positive men.
The trials recruited men aged 15–49, who were randomly assigned to be circumcised either on enrollment or two years later and were followed up to monitor complications related to the procedure, such as infections, as well as wound healing and when the participant first had sex after the operation. Condom use was recorded at enrollment and six months after enrollment.
The researchers found that most complications were infrequent, mild, and comparable in both groups, with moderate-to-severe complications occurring in only 3%–4% of men in each group. However, delayed wound healing was more frequent in HIV-positive men. Complications were more likely among men who had sex before healing was complete; such men were more likely to be HIV-positive and/or married. Similarly, moderate or severe complications were more likely where men had symptoms of sexually transmitted disease at enrollment, although these were treated before surgery, and these men were more likely to be HIV-positive. Six months after enrollment, similar proportions of HIV-positive and HIV-negative men used condoms consistently, but HIV-positive men were more likely to report using condoms inconsistently than HIV-negative men. However, consistent use of a condom increased among the HIV-positive men compared to when they enrolled.
What Do these Findings Mean?
Circumcision in HIV-positive men without symptoms of AIDS has a low rate of complications, although healing is slower than in HIV-negative men. Because of the greater risk of complications if sex is resumed before full healing, both men and their women partners should be advised to have no sex for at least six weeks after the operation. A separately reported analysis from one of these studies found that women partners are more likely to become HIV infected by HIV-positive men who resume sex prior to complete wound healing. Therefore, for protection of both men and their female partners, it is essential to refrain from intercourse after circumcision until the wound has completely healed.
Because the study found no increased risk of surgical complications in HIV-positive men who undergo circumcision, it should not be necessary to screen men with no symptoms of HIV in future circumcision programs. This should reduce the complexity of implementing such programs and reduce any stigma resulting from exclusion, making it likely that more men will be willing to be circumcised. The rise in consistent condom use among HIV-positive men suggests that messages of safe sex are reaching an important target group and changing their behavior, and that circumcision does not make men less likely to use a condom.
The authors also noted that the rates of complications they observed were low compared with those following traditional circumcision procedures. Others have found that circumcision carried out under unsafe conditions has a high rate of complications. The authors of this study comment that the resources and standards of surgery during the trial represented best practice and that to attain similarly low rates of complications—and the confidence of men in the safety of the procedure—there is a need to ensure sufficient resources and high standards of training.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050116.
WHO and the UNAIDS issued a joint report recommending male circumcision for HIV prevention and another on the HIV epidemic worldwide in December 2007
An information pack here on male circumcision and HIV prevention has also been developed jointly by WHO/UNAIDS, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the World Bank
The University of California San Francisco's HIV InSite provides information on HIV prevention, treatment, and policy
AEGIS is the world's largest searchable database on HIV and AIDS
The National AIDS Trust provides information on HIV prevention
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050116
PMCID: PMC2408615  PMID: 18532873
12.  The challenges of changing national malaria drug policy to artemisinin-based combinations in Kenya 
Malaria Journal  2007;6:72.
Backgound
Sulphadoxine/sulphalene-pyrimethamine (SP) was adopted in Kenya as first line therapeutic for uncomplicated malaria in 1998. By the second half of 2003, there was convincing evidence that SP was failing and had to be replaced. Despite several descriptive investigations of policy change and implementation when countries moved from chloroquine to SP, the different constraints of moving to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) in Africa are less well documented.
Methods
A narrative description of the process of anti-malarial drug policy change, financing and implementation in Kenya is assembled from discussions with stakeholders, reports, newspaper articles, minutes of meetings and email correspondence between actors in the policy change process. The narrative has been structured to capture the timing of events, the difficulties and hurdles faced and the resolutions reached to the final implementation of a new treatment policy.
Results
Following a recognition that SP was failing there was a rapid technical appraisal of available data and replacement options resulting in a decision to adopt artemether-lumefantrine (AL) as the recommended first-line therapy in Kenya, announced in April 2004. Funding requirements were approved by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) and over 60 million US$ were agreed in principle in July 2004 to procure AL and implement the policy change. AL arrived in Kenya in May 2006, distribution to health facilities began in July 2006 coincidental with cascade in-service training in the revised national guidelines. Both training and drug distribution were almost complete by the end of 2006. The article examines why it took over 32 months from announcing a drug policy change to completing early implementation. Reasons included: lack of clarity on sustainable financing of an expensive therapeutic for a common disease, a delay in release of funding, a lack of comparative efficacy data between AL and amodiaquine-based alternatives, a poor dialogue with pharmaceutical companies with a national interest in antimalarial drug supply versus the single sourcing of AL and complex drug ordering, tendering and procurement procedures.
Conclusion
Decisions to abandon failing monotherapy in favour of ACT for the treatment of malaria can be achieved relatively quickly. Future policy changes in Africa should be carefully prepared for a myriad of financial, political and legislative issues that might limit the rapid translation of drug policy change into action.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-6-72
PMCID: PMC1892027  PMID: 17535417
13.  What do the JAMA editors say when they discuss manuscripts that they are considering for publication? Developing a schema for classifying the content of editorial discussion 
Background
In an effort to identify previously unrecognized aspects of editorial decision-making, we explored the words and phrases that one group of editors used during their meetings.
Methods
We performed an observational study of discussions at manuscript meetings at JAMA, a major US general medical journal. One of us (KD) attended 12 editorial meetings in 2003 as a visitor and took notes recording phrases from discussion surrounding 102 manuscripts. In addition, editors attending the meetings completed a form for each manuscript considered, listing the reasons they were inclined to proceed to the next step in publication and reasons they were not (DR attended 4/12 meetings). We entered the spoken and written phrases into NVivo 2.0. We then developed a schema for classifying the editors' phrases, using an iterative approach.
Results
Our classification schema has three main themes: science, journalism, and writing. We considered 2,463 phrases, of which 87 related mainly to the manuscript topic and were not classified (total 2,376 classified). Phrases related to science predominated (1,274 or 54%). The editors, most of whom were physicians, also placed major weight on goals important to JAMA's mission (journalism goals) such as importance to medicine, strategic emphasis for the journal, interest to the readership, and results (729 or 31% of phrases). About 16% (n = 373) of the phrases used related to writing issues, such as clarity and responses to the referees' comments.
Conclusion
Classification of editorial discourse provides insight into editorial decision making and concepts that need exploration in future studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-7-44
PMCID: PMC2121101  PMID: 17894854
14.  Composition of the editorial boards of leading medical education journals 
Background
Researchers from the developing world contribute only a limited proportion to the total research output published in leading medical education journals. Some of them believe that there is a substantial editorial bias against their work. To obtain an objective basis for further discussion the present study was designed to assess the composition of the editorial boards of leading medical education journals.
Methods
The editorial boards of the three leading medical education journals according to their impact factor were retrieved from the respective January issue of the year 2003. We evaluated in which countries the editorial board members were based and classified these countries using the World Bank income criteria.
Results
Individuals from a number of countries can be found on the editorial boards of the investigated journals, but most of them are based in high-income countries.
Conclusion
The percentage of editorial board members which are based in developing world countries is higher for the leading medical education journals than in most of their psychiatry and general medicine counterparts. But it is still too low.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-4-3
PMCID: PMC331408  PMID: 14733618
15.  Complexity in Non-Pharmacological Caregiving Activities at the End of Life: An International Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001173.
In a qualitative study reported by Olav Lindqvist and colleagues, the range of nonpharmacological caregiving activities used in the last days of a patient's life are described.
Background
In late-stage palliative cancer care, relief of distress and optimized well-being become primary treatment goals. Great strides have been made in improving and researching pharmacological treatments for symptom relief; however, little systematic knowledge exists about the range of non-pharmacological caregiving activities (NPCAs) staff use in the last days of a patient's life.
Methods and Findings
Within a European Commission Seventh Framework Programme project to optimize research and clinical care in the last days of life for patients with cancer, OPCARE9, we used a free-listing technique to identify the variety of NPCAs performed in the last days of life. Palliative care staff at 16 units in nine countries listed in detail NPCAs they performed over several weeks. In total, 914 statements were analyzed in relation to (a) the character of the statement and (b) the recipient of the NPCA. A substantial portion of NPCAs addressed bodily care and contact with patients and family members, with refraining from bodily care also described as a purposeful caregiving activity. Several forms for communication were described; information and advice was at one end of a continuum, and communicating through nonverbal presence and bodily contact at the other. Rituals surrounding death and dying included not only spiritual/religious issues, but also more subtle existential, legal, and professional rituals. An unexpected and hitherto under-researched area of focus was on creating an aesthetic, safe, and pleasing environment, both at home and in institutional care settings.
Conclusions
Based on these data, we argue that palliative care in the last days of life is multifaceted, with physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and existential care interwoven in caregiving activities. Providing for fundamental human needs close to death appears complex and sophisticated; it is necessary to better distinguish nuances in such caregiving to acknowledge, respect, and further develop end-of-life care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
End-of-life care is a major public health issue, yet despite the inevitability of death, issues related to death and dying are often taboo, and, if mentioned, are often referred to as “palliative care.” There are detailed definitions of palliative care, but in essence, the purpose of palliative care is to relieve any suffering in patients who are dying from progressive illness and to provide the best possible quality of life for both the patient and his or her family. In order to achieve this aim, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological management is necessary, with the latter taking a central role. Recently, a European Commission Seventh Framework Programme project, OPCARE9, aimed to improve the care of dying patients in Europe and beyond by optimizing research and clinical care for patients with cancer in the last days of their life, especially regarding well-being and comfort as death becomes imminent.
Why Was This Study Done?
There is now a growing literature base in non-pharmacological management at the end of an individual's life, particularly in relation to psychological, ethical, and communication issues as well as family-focused and culturally appropriate care. Despite this progress, there is currently little systematic knowledge in how health workers use such non-pharmacological approaches in their efforts to maximize well-being and comfort in patients experiencing their very last days of life. Therefore, in order to advance knowledge in this important clinical area, in this study the researchers reviewed and identified the variety of non-pharmacological caregiving activities performed by different professionals in the last days and hours of life for patients with cancer (and their families) in palliative care settings in the countries that participated in OPCARE9.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers modified an anthropological approach to collect relevant information in participating European countries—Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK—and Argentina and New Zealand. Staff in palliative care settings generated a list of non-pharmacological caregiving activities after discussion about which interventions and activities they carried out with patients and families during the last days of life. This preliminary list of statements was added to if staff performed a new activity when in contact with patients or the patients' family during the last days of life. The researchers then used computer-assisted qualitative data analysis to code the statements.
Using this methodology, the researchers analyzed 914 statements of caregiving activities from 16 different facilities in nine countries. The greatest number of activities described some type of caregiving for an individual carried out through contact with his or her body, such as attending to diverse bodily needs (such as cleaning and moisturizing) while maintaining comfort and dignity. Listening, talking with, and understanding (particularly between professionals and the family) was the next most frequent activity, followed by creating an esthetical, safe, and pleasing environment for the dying person and his or her family, and necessary “backstage” activities, such as organizing paperwork or care plans. Other common activities included observing and assessing, which were often described as being carried out simultaneously with other interventions; just being present (described as increasingly important close to death); performing rituals surrounding death and dying (usually directed to families); guiding and facilitating (encompassing support in a compassionate manner); and finally, giving oral and written information and advice (usually to families).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that providing for fundamental human needs close to death is complex and sophisticated but ultimately integrated into a common theme of caregiving. This study also identifies a number of areas needing further investigation, such as enhancing the sensory and general environment for the patient and family. Finally, this study suggests that developing a greater level of detail, such as improved terminology for end-of-life care, would enhance appreciation of the nuances and complexity present in non-pharmacological care provision during the last days of life, with potential benefit for clinical practice, teaching, and research.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001173.
The OPCARE9 website details more information about this end-of-life care initiative
The World Health Organization website defines palliative care, and Wikipedia gives more information (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
NHS Choices also provides information about end-of-life care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001173
PMCID: PMC3279347  PMID: 22347815
16.  The DREEM, part 1: measurement of the educational environment in an osteopathy teaching program 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:99.
Background
Measurement of the educational environment has become more common in health professional education programs. Information gained from these investigations can be used to implement and measure changes to the curricula, educational delivery and the physical environment. A number of questionnaires exist to measure the educational environment, and the most commonly utilised of these is the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM).
Methods
The DREEM was administered to students in all year levels of the osteopathy program at Victoria University (VU), Melbourne, Australia. Students also completed a demographic survey. Inferential and correlational statistics were employed to investigate the educational environment based on the scores obtained from the DREEM.
Results
A response rate of 90% was achieved. The mean total DREEM score was 135.37 (+/- 19.33) with the scores ranging from 72 to 179. Some subscales and items demonstrated differences for gender, clinical phase, age and whether the student was in receipt of a government allowance.
Conclusions
There are a number of areas in the program that are performing well, and some aspects that could be improved. Overall students rated the VU osteopathy program as more positive than negative. The information obtained in the present study has identified areas for improvement and will enable the program leaders to facilitate changes. It will also provide other educational institutions with data on which they can make comparisons with their own programs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-99
PMCID: PMC4048620  PMID: 24884931
17.  Primary osteopathy of vertebrae in a neurofibromatosis type 1 murine model 
Bone  2011;48(6):1378-1387.
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common autosomal dominant genetic disorder caused by mutation of the NF1 tumor suppressor gene. Spinal deformities are common skeletal manifestations in patients with NF1. To date, the mechanism of vertebral abnormalities remains unclear because of the lack of appropriate animal models for the skeletal manifestations of NF1. In the present study, we report a novel murine NF1 model, Nf1flox/−;Col2.3Cre+ mice. These mice display short vertebral segments. In addition, a significant reduction in cortical and trabecular bone mass of the vertebrae was observed in Nf1flox/−;Col2.3Cre+ mice as measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT). Peak stress and peak load were also significantly reduced in Nf1flox/−;Col2.3Cre+ mice as compared to controls. Furthermore, the lumbar vertebrae showed enlargement of the inter-vertebral canal, a characteristic feature of lumbar vertebrae in NF1 patients. Finally, histologic analysis demonstrated increased numbers of osteoclasts and decreased numbers of osteoblasts in the vertebrae of Nf1flox/−;Col2.3Cre+ mice in comparison to controls. In summary, Nf1flox/−;Col2.3Cre+ mice demonstrate multiple structural and functional abnormalities in the lumbar vertebrae which recapitulate the dystrophic vertebral changes in NF1 patients. This novel murine model provides a platform to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of spinal deficits in NF1 patients.
doi:10.1016/j.bone.2011.03.760
PMCID: PMC3584682  PMID: 21439418
Neurofibromatosis type 1; Spinal deformity; Osteopathy; Osteoclast; Osteoblast
18.  Is it feasible and effective to provide osteopathy and acupuncture for patients with musculoskeletal problems in a GP setting? A service evaluation 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:49.
Background
Spinal manipulation and acupuncture can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain. Both approaches are currently recommended by NICE as treatment options for patients with persistent low back pain. However, there has been no previous evaluation of a GP service using them together for MSK pain. The purpose of this study was to evaluate acceptability and outcomes for an osteopathy and acupuncture service (delivered by complementary therapy practitioners) for patients with MSK problems provided within a General Practice.
Methods
Patients were asked to complete a questionnaire before and after their course of treatment. Outcome measures included the Bournemouth Questionnaire (measuring MSK problems), EuroQoL-5D (measuring quality of life), medication use, physical activity and general well-being. Non-parametric tests were used to compare pre- and post- treatment variables. Qualitative data, regarding participants' views on the service, were collected from patients via a service survey and healthcare professionals via interviews. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results
123 adults with MSK problems were referred into the service (79 female and 44 male, mean age 49 years). Complete patient questionnaire data sets (pre- and post- treatment) were available for 102 participants; 91 completed a service survey. All healthcare professionals involved in the service participated in interviews including all seven GPs and the administration manager at the practice, as well as the three acupuncture/osteopathy practitioners.
Patient outcomes: comparisons between pre and post-treatment revealed a statistically significant improvement in MSK pain (p < 0.0001) and quality of life (p < 0.0001), and a statistically significant reduction in medication use (p < 0.0001). Qualitative analysis found that patients reported improvements in their MSK pain, mobility, other physical health conditions, well-being and self-management of their MSK problem.
Acceptability of the service: overall patients and healthcare professionals were satisfied with the service and its provision within the Practice. Patients reported wanting increased appointment availability and flexibility, and more sessions. Complementary therapy practitioners reported finding the high number of referrals of chronic patients challenging, and wanting increased communication with GPs.
Conclusions
Provision of acupuncture and osteopathy for MSK pain is achievable in General Practice. A GP surgery can quickly adapt to incorporate complementary therapy provided key principles are followed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-49
PMCID: PMC3141509  PMID: 21668962
19.  Developing a viva exam to assess clinical reasoning in pre-registration osteopathy students 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):193.
Background
Clinical reasoning (CR) is a core capability for health practitioners. Assessing CR requires a suite of tools to encompass a wide scope of contexts and cognitive abilities. The aim of this project was to develop an oral examination and grading rubric for the assessment of CR in osteopathy, trial it with senior students in three accredited university programs in Australia and New Zealand, and to evaluate its content and face validity.
Methods
Experienced osteopathic academics developed 20 cases and a grading rubric. Thirty senior students were recruited, 10 from each university. Twelve fourth year and 18 fifth year students participated. Three members of the research team were trained and examined students at an institution different from their own. Two cases were presented to each student participant in a series of vignettes. The rubric was constructed to follow a set of examiner questions that related to each attribute of CR. Data were analysed to explore differences in examiner marking, as well as relationships between cases, institutions, and different year levels. A non-examining member of the research team acted as an observer at each location.
Results
No statistical difference was found between the total and single question scores, nor for the total scores between examiners. Significant differences were found between 4th and 5th students on total score and a number of single questions. The rubric was found to be internally consistent.
Conclusions
A viva examination of clinical reasoning, trialled with senior osteopathy students, showed face and content validity. Results suggested that the viva exam may also differentiate between 4th and 5th year students’ capabilities in CR. Further work is required to establish the reliability of assessment, to further refine the rubric, and to train examiners before it is implemented as a high-stakes assessment in accredited osteopathy programs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-193) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-193
PMCID: PMC4179819  PMID: 25238784
20.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Background
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Conclusions
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498.
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
21.  The impact of national and international guidelines on newborn care in the nurseries of Piedmont and Aosta Valley, Italy 
BMC Pediatrics  2005;5:45.
Background
Care procedures for preventing neonatal diseases are carried out according to nurseries' traditions and may be not consistent with the evidence based medicine issues.
Methods
A multi-centric survey was conducted in 2 Regions located in NW Italy (Piedmont and Aosta Valley) in order to collect information on some healthy newborn care procedures. During 2001, a questionnaire was sent to the chief pediatrician in charge to the all 33 nurseries of the region asking the methods used during 2000 as prevention of ophthalmia neonatorum, early and late hemorrhagic disease of newborn, umbilical cord care and recommendations of vitamin D administration. Thereafter, during 2004 the same questionnaire was sent to the 34 chief pediatrician of nurseries to evaluate if the procedures were changed during 2003 according to guidelines. The nurseries care for 32,516 newborns in 2000 and 37,414 in 2003.
Results
Aminoglycoside eyes drops as prevention of ophthalmia neonatorum were the first choice in both periods (23 out 33 nurseries in 2000 and 24 out 34 in 2003 p > 0.05; the corresponding figures for newborns were18,984 out 32,516 newborns vs. 28,180 out of 37,414 p < 0.05). The umbilical cord care was carried out with alcohol in 12/33 centers (13,248 newborns) and dry gauze in 3/33 centers (2,130 newborns) in 2000, the corresponding figures in 2003 were 6/34 centers (p > 0.05), (6,380 newborns, p < 0.05) and 12/34 centers (p < 0.05), (18,123 newborns, p < 0.05). The percentage of newborns receiving of i.m. vitamin K. at birth increased during the study period (15,923/32,104 in 2000 vs. 19,684/37,414 in 2003, p < 0.01), but not the number of nurseries (16 in 2000 and 17 in 2003 p > 0.05). The numbers of parents of newborns who receive the recommendations of oral vitamin K during the first months life decreased from 2000 (25,516/30,606) to 2003 (29,808/37,414, p < 0.01) as well as for Vitamin D recommendation (14,582/30,616 in 2000 vs. 11,051/37,414 in 2003, p < 0.01). Oral vitamin K during the first months of life was recommended by 25 nurseries in 2000 and 27 in 2003 (p > 0.05), the corresponding figures for Vitamin D were 15 and 14 (p > 0.05).
Conclusion
In the present study a large variability of procedures among the nurseries was observed. During the study periods, guidelines and evidence based medicine issues have only partially modified the neonatal care procedures In Piedmont and Aosta Valley nurseries. These observations suggest to implement local forum/consensus conference to standardized procedures as much as possible.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-5-45
PMCID: PMC1315318  PMID: 16329760
22.  Methotrexate osteopathy in rheumatic disease. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1993;52(8):582-585.
OBJECTIVE--To determine whether two adults with stress fractures receiving low weekly doses of methotrexate had methotrexate osteopathy. CASE REPORTS--Two adult patients developed features consistent with methotrexate osteopathy while receiving low weekly doses of methotrexate. METHODS--Iliac crest biopsy samples were taken and bone histomorphometry carried out. RESULTS--Symptoms resolved when the methotrexate was discontinued. Bone histology showed changes consistent with osteoblast inhibition by methotrexate. CONCLUSIONS--When given in low doses for prolonged periods, methotrexate may have adverse effects on bone, particularly in post-menopausal women.
Images
PMCID: PMC1005115  PMID: 8215620
23.  Time for gender mainstreaming in editorial policies 
The HIV epidemic has been continuously growing among women, and in some parts of the world, HIV-infected women outnumber men. Women's greater vulnerability to HIV, both biologically and socially, influences their health risk and health outcome. This disparity between sexes has been established for other diseases, for example, autoimmune diseases, malignancies and cardiovascular diseases. Differences in drug effects and treatment outcomes have also been demonstrated.
Despite proven sex and gender differences, women continue to be underrepresented in clinical trials, and the absence of gender analyses in published literature is striking. There is a growing advocacy for consideration of women in research, in particular in the HIV field, and gender mainstreaming of policies is increasingly called for. However, these efforts have not translated into improved reporting of sex-disaggregated data and provision of gender analysis in published literature; science editors, as well as publishers, lag behind in this effort.
Instructions for authors issued by journals contain many guidelines for good standards of reporting, and a policy on sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis should not be amiss here. It is time for editors and publishers to demonstrate leadership in changing the paradigm in the world of scientific publication. We encourage authors, peer reviewers and fellow editors to lend their support by taking necessary measures to substantially improve reporting of gender analysis. Editors' associations could play an essential role in facilitating a transition to improved standard editorial policies.
doi:10.1186/1758-2652-14-11
PMCID: PMC3059266  PMID: 21385405
24.  Community-Based Care for Chronic Wound Management 
Executive Summary
In August 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) presented a vignette to the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) on a proposed targeted health care delivery model for chronic care. The proposed model was defined as multidisciplinary, ambulatory, community-based care that bridged the gap between primary and tertiary care, and was intended for individuals with a chronic disease who were at risk of a hospital admission or emergency department visit. The goals of this care model were thought to include: the prevention of emergency department visits, a reduction in hospital admissions and re-admissions, facilitation of earlier hospital discharge, a reduction or delay in long-term care admissions, and an improvement in mortality and other disease-specific patient outcomes.
OHTAC approved the development of an evidence-based assessment to determine the effectiveness of specialized community based care for the management of heart failure, Type 2 diabetes and chronic wounds.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site at: www.health.gov.on.ca/ohtas to review the following reports associated with the Specialized Multidisciplinary Community-Based care series.
Specialized multidisciplinary community-based care series: a summary of evidence-based analyses
Community-based care for the specialized management of heart failure: an evidence-based analysis
Community-based care for chronic wound management: an evidence-based analysis
Please note that the evidence-based analysis of specialized community-based care for the management of diabetes titled: “Community-based care for the management of type 2 diabetes: an evidence-based analysis” has been published as part of the Diabetes Strategy Evidence Platform at this URL: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/tech/ohtas/tech_diabetes_20091020.html
Please visit the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative Web site at: http://theta.utoronto.ca/papers/MAS_CHF_Clinics_Report.pdf to review the following economic project associated with this series:
Community-based Care for the specialized management of heart failure: a cost-effectiveness and budget impact analysis.
Objective
The objective of this evidence-based review is to determine the effectiveness of a multidisciplinary wound care team for the management of chronic wounds.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Chronic wounds develop from various aetiologies including pressure, diabetes, venous pathology, and surgery. A pressure ulcer is defined as a localized injury to the skin/and or underlying tissue occurring most often over a bony prominence and caused, alone or in combination, by pressure, shear, or friction. Up to three fifths of venous leg ulcers are due to venous aetiology.
Approximately 1.5 million Ontarians will sustain a pressure ulcer, 111,000 will develop a diabetic foot ulcer, and between 80,000 and 130,000 will develop a venous leg ulcer. Up to 65% of those afflicted by chronic leg ulcers report experiencing decreased quality of life, restricted mobility, anxiety, depression, and/or severe or continuous pain.
Multidisciplinary Wound Care Teams
The term ‘multidisciplinary’ refers to multiple disciplines on a team and ‘interdisciplinary’ to such a team functioning in a coordinated and collaborative manner. There is general consensus that a group of multidisciplinary professionals is necessary for optimum specialist management of chronic wounds stemming from all aetiologies. However, there is little evidence to guide the decision of which professionals might be needed form an optimal wound care team.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on July 7, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, Wiley Cochrane, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment, and on July 13, 2009 using the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies pertaining to leg and foot ulcers. A similar literature search was conducted on July 29’ 2009 for studies pertaining to pressure ulcers. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established.
Inclusion Criteria
Randomized controlled trials and Controlled clinical Trials (CCT)
Systematic review with meta analysis
Population includes persons with pressure ulcers (anywhere) and/or leg and foot ulcers
The intervention includes a multidisciplinary (two or more disciplines) wound care team.
The control group does not receive care by a wound care team
Studies published in the English language between 2004 and 2009
Exclusion Criteria
Single centre retrospective observational studies
Outcomes of Interest
Proportion of persons and/or wounds completely healed
Time to complete healing
Quality of Life
Pain assessment
Summary of Findings
Two studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria, one a randomized controlled trial (RCT), the other a CCT using a before and after study design. There was variation in the setting, composition of the wound care team, outcome measures, and follow up periods between the studies. In both studies, however, the wound care team members received training in wound care management and followed a wound care management protocol.
In the RCT, Vu et al. reported a non-significant difference between the proportion of wounds healed in 6 months using a univariate analysis (61.7% for treatment vs. 52.5% for control; p=0.074, RR=1.19) There was also a non-significant difference in the mean time to healing in days (82 for treatment vs. 101 for control; p=0.095). More persons in the intervention group had a Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) score equal to zero (better pain control) at 6 months when compared with the control group (38.6% for intervention vs. 24.4% for control; p=0.017, RR=1.58). By multivariate analysis a statistically significant hazard ratio was reported in the intervention group (1.73, 95% CI 1.20-1.50; p=0.003).
In the CCT, Harrison et al. reported a statistically significant difference in healing rates between the pre (control) and post (intervention) phases of the study. Of patients in the pre phase, 23% had healed ulcers 3 months after study enrolment, whereas 56% were healed in the post phase (P<0.001, OR=4.17) (Figure 3). Furthermore, 27% of patients were treated daily or more often in the pre phase whereas only 6% were treated at this frequency in the post phase (P<0.001), equal to a 34% relative risk reduction in frequency of daily treatments. The authors did not report the results of pain relief assessment.
The body of evidence was assessed using the GRADE methodology for 4 outcomes: proportion of wounds healed, proportion of persons with healed wounds, wound associated pain relief, and proportion of persons needing daily wound treatments. In general, the evidence was found to be low to very low quality.
Conclusion
The evidence supports that managing chronic wounds with a multidisciplinary wound care team significantly increases wound healing and reduces the severity of wound-associated pain and the required daily wound treatments compared to persons not managed by a wound care team. The quality of evidence supporting these outcomes is low to very low meaning that further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.
PMCID: PMC3377537  PMID: 23074522
25.  Backup without redundancy: genetic interactions reveal the cost of duplicate gene loss 
We show that genetic interaction profiles offer a powerful approach to elicit phenotypes that are far richer than is attainable using single gene deletions. This has allowed us to address the long-standing question of the role played by duplicate genes (paralogs) in robustness against deletion.We provide for the first time direct evidence that the capacity of some duplicates to cover for the loss of their paralogs can account for the observed difference in fitness between duplicate and singleton deletions mutants, but that the overall contribution of this effect to dispensability is small.More broadly, we demonstrate that paralogs possessing apparent backup capacity in some environments have in fact distinct and non-overlapping functions, and are unable to provide backup across a range of compromising conditions. This resolves the previous paradox of how backup genes conferring dispensability can nevertheless be independently maintained in the population.From a practical point of view, our findings suggest efficient strategies to elicit rich deletion phenotypes that should be highly relevant for the design of future phenotypic screens.
Much of our understanding of biological processes has been derived from the characterization of the functional consequence to an organism of altering one or more of its genes. Efforts to systematically evaluate the phenotypic effects of gene loss, however, have been hampered by the fact that the disruption of most genes has surprisingly modest effects on cell growth and viability. The high proportion of genes with no apparent deletion effect has wide-ranging practical and theoretical implications and has been the subject of considerable interest (Wagner, 2000, 2005; Giaever et al, 2002; Gu et al, 2003; Papp et al, 2004; Kafri et al, 2005). One factor that has been implicated as contributing to the high degree of dispensability is the abundance of closely related paralogs present in most genomes (Winzeler et al, 1999; Wagner, 2000; Giaever et al, 2002). Indeed, recent work in S. cerevisiae has shown that the existence of a paralog elsewhere in the genome significantly increases the chance that deletion of a given gene has little effect on growth (Gu et al, 2003). However, current analyses have been mostly correlative, and direct mechanistic evidence supporting or refuting the role of backup compensation in mutational robustness is still largely missing. Furthermore, backup between duplicates is not easily justified in evolutionary terms, in that a genuine ability to comprehensively cover for the loss of another gene is evolutionarily unstable (Brookfield, 1992).
Here, we exploit the recent availability of high-density quantitative genetic interaction profiles (EMAPs) to address these issues directly. To test whether SSL paralogs can account for the excess fitness of duplicates, we classified genes into fitness categories according to their deletion growth defect (Materials and methods). The subset of genes covered by our combined data set exhibits an over-representation of duplicate genes in the weak/no deletion phenotype (WNP) class similar to that reported previously (Gu et al, 2003) (Figure 1B). Strikingly, this difference corresponds to the number of WNP duplicates that have an SSL interaction with their corresponding paralog (Figure 1C). Our data thus provide direct evidence that it is indeed duplicate compensation that accounts for the observed difference in deletion growth defect between duplicates and singletons, at least for the genes covered by our data set.
Apart from the mechanism itself, the characteristic features of buffering duplicates have received considerable attention (Gu et al, 2003; Kafri et al, 2005; Wagner, 2005). Our data allowed us to unambiguously distinguish the subset of duplicates whose dispensability can be attributed to the existence of a backup paralog. The ability to identify backup duplicates directly put us in a position to study their features, and how they differ from other duplicates without buffering properties. In particular, we asked to what extent the observed buffering in rich media reflects functional similarity and a genuine ability to cover for the loss of a paralog in a broader range of conditions.
To assess the extent to which SSL duplicates can provide genuine backup under compromising conditions, we fist used genetic interaction profiles as a more stringent test for redundancy that assesses the effect of gene loss in the background of additional gene deletions. In contrast to the expectation that truly buffered duplicates should have few if any synthetic interactions, we find that the number is in fact substantial and often exceeds that of random genes and non-SSL duplicates (Figure 2B). Similarly, using a recent data set of sensitivity profiles of deletion strains to a range of agents and environments (Brown et al, 2006), we find that the deletion of SSL duplicates across a range of environments has on average no weaker (and in fact a slightly stronger) effect on cellular growth rate than that of non-SSL duplicates or random genes. Taken together, these findings suggest that the backup capacity of SSL duplicates is limited and not indicative of a comprehensive ability to cover for the loss of the paralogous partner.
We next tested the degree of functional similarity of buffering duplicates using similarity in genetic interaction as well as environmental sensitivity profiles as indicators of shared functionality (Tong et al, 2004; Schuldiner et al, 2005; Brown et al, 2006; Pan et al, 2006). In spite of their rich media buffering properties, we find that the interaction and sensitivity patterns of most SSL duplicates are divergent and are usually more similar to those of other, non-paralogous genes (Figure 2C and D; Supplementary Figure 10).
Lastly, in addition to our analysis of duplicate phenotypes, we used genetic interaction spectra as deletion phenotypes for generic genes whose single deletion in standard conditions has little measurable effect. As expected, genetic interactions provide a deletion phenotype for many more genes (80–90%) than single gene deletions in standard growth environments (Steinmetz et al, 2002), which yield a detectable growth defect only for 30–40% (Figure 4B). To assess whether these interactions reflect the cost of gene loss (gene importance), we asked if there is a relationship between the probability of a gene being retained between related species and its number of genetic interactions. Indeed, genetic interactivity exhibits a strong correlation with gene retention across related phyla (Figure 4C and Supplementary Figure 7), and predicts the likelihood of gene loss better than lethality/viability, quantitative growth deficiency or environmental specificity (Supplementary Figure 8). Thus, genetic interactions provide a cost of gene loss that effectively recapitulates evolutionary constraints. This is further supported by the observation that genetic interactions are significantly correlated with environmental sensitivity across a range of conditions. Thus, our findings suggest that for most genes there is a substantial cost of gene loss, even though this is often not reflected in single gene deletion tests carried out in standard conditions.
Many genes can be deleted with little phenotypic consequences. By what mechanism and to what extent the presence of duplicate genes in the genome contributes to this robustness against deletions has been the subject of considerable interest. Here, we exploit the availability of high-density genetic interaction maps to provide direct support for the role of backup compensation, where functionally overlapping duplicates cover for the loss of their paralog. However, we find that the overall contribution of duplicates to robustness against null mutations is low (∼25%). The ability to directly identify buffering paralogs allowed us to further study their properties, and how they differ from non-buffering duplicates. Using environmental sensitivity profiles as well as quantitative genetic interaction spectra as high-resolution phenotypes, we establish that even duplicate pairs with compensation capacity exhibit rich and typically non-overlapping deletion phenotypes, and are thus unable to comprehensively cover against loss of their paralog. Our findings reconcile the fact that duplicates can compensate for each other's loss under a limited number of conditions with the evolutionary instability of genes whose loss is not associated with a phenotypic penalty.
doi:10.1038/msb4100127
PMCID: PMC1847942  PMID: 17389874
duplication; evolution; genetic interactions; redundancy

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