Aspirin has been recommended for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, but overall benefits are unclear. We aimed to use novel methods to re-evaluate the balance of benefits and harms of aspirin using evidence from randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Methods and Findings
Data sources included ten electronic bibliographic databases, contact with experts, and scrutiny of reference lists of included studies. Searches were undertaken in September 2012 and restricted to publications since 2008. Of 2,572 potentially relevant papers 27 met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis of control arms to estimate event rates, modelling of all-cause mortality and L'Abbé plots to estimate heterogeneity were undertaken. Absolute benefits and harms were low: 60-84 major CVD events and 34-36 colorectal cancer deaths per 100,000 person-years were averted, whereas 46-49 major bleeds and 68-117 gastrointestinal bleeds were incurred. Reductions in all-cause mortality were minor and uncertain (Hazard Ratio 0.96; 95% CI: 0.90-1.02 at 20 years, Relative Risk [RR] 0.94, 95% CI: 0.88-1.00 at 8 years); there was a non-significant change in total CVD (RR 0.85, 95% CI: 0.69-1.06) and change in total cancer mortality ranged from 0.76 (95% CI: 0.66-0.88) to 0.93 (95% CI: 0.84-1.03) depending on follow-up time and studies included. Risks were increased by 37% for gastrointestinal bleeds (RR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.15-1.62), 54%-66% for major bleeds (Rate Ratio from IPD analysis 1.54, 95% CI: 1.30-1.82, and RR 1.62, 95% CI: 1.31-2.00), and 32%-38% for haemorrhagic stroke (Rate Ratio from IPD analysis 1.32; 95% CI: 1.00-1.74; RR 1.38; 95% CI: 1.01-1.82).
Findings indicate small absolute effects of aspirin relative to the burden of these diseases. When aspirin is used for primary prevention of CVD the absolute harms exceed the benefits. Estimates of cancer benefit rely on selective retrospective re-analysis of RCTs and more information is needed.
Systematic reviews of the literature occupy the highest position in currently proposed hierarchies of evidence. The aims of this study were to assess whether citation classics exist in published systematic review and meta-analysis (SRM), examine the characteristics of the most frequently cited SRM articles, and evaluate the contribution of different world regions.
The 100 most cited SRM were identified in October 2012 using the Science Citation Index database of the Institute for Scientific Information. Data were extracted by one author. Spearman’s correlation was used to assess the association between years since publication, numbers of authors, article length, journal impact factor, and average citations per year.
Among the 100 citation classics, published between 1977 and 2008, the most cited article received 7308 citations and the least-cited 675 citations. The average citations per year ranged from 27.8 to 401.6. First authors from the USA produced the highest number of citation classics (n=46), followed by the UK (n=28) and Canada (n=15). The 100 articles were published in 42 journals led by the Journal of the American Medical Association (n=18), followed by the British Medical Journal (n=14) and The Lancet (n=13). There was a statistically significant positive correlation between number of authors (Spearman’s rho=0.320, p=0.001), journal impact factor (rho=0.240, p=0.016) and average citations per year. There was a statistically significant negative correlation between average citations per year and year since publication (rho = -0.636, p=0.0001). The most cited papers identified seminal contributions and originators of landmark methodological aspects of SRM and reflect major advances in the management of and predisposing factors for chronic diseases.
Since the late 1970s, the USA, UK, and Canada have taken leadership in the production of citation classic papers. No first author from low or middle-income countries (LMIC) led one of the most cited 100 SRM.
To undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate clinical effectiveness of belimumab for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and antinuclear and/or anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) autoantibodies.
We searched eight electronic databases and reference lists for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of belimumab against placebo or best supportive care. Quality assessment and random effects meta-analysis were undertaken.
A meta-analysis of RCTs.
2133 SLE patients.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
SLE Responder Index (SRI) at week 52.
Three double-blind placebo-controlled RCTs (L02, BLISS-52 BLISS-76) investigated 2133 SLE patients. BLISS-52 and BLISS-76 trials recruited patients with antinuclear and/or anti-dsDNA autoantibodies and demonstrated belimumab effectiveness for the SRI at week 52. Ethnicity and geographical location of participants varied considerably between BLISS trials. Although tests for statistical heterogeneity were negative, BLISS-52 results were systematically more favourable for all measured outcomes. Meta-analysis of pooled 52-week SRI BLISS results showed benefit for belimumab (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.27 to 2.09). By week 76, the primary SRI outcome in BLISS-76 was not statistically significant (OR 1.31, 95% CI 0.919 to 1.855).
Clinical Pharmacology; Epidemiology; Preventive Medicine; Public Health
To investigate types of evidence used by healthcare commissioners when making decisions and whether decisions were influenced by commissioners’ experience, personal characteristics or role at work.
Cross-sectional survey of 345 National Health Service (NHS) staff members.
The study was conducted across 11 English Primary Care Trusts between 2010 and 2011.
A total of 440 staff involved in commissioning decisions and employed at NHS band 7 or above were invited to participate in the study. Of those, 345 (78%) completed all or a part of the survey.
Main outcome measures
Participants were asked to rate how important different sources of evidence (empirical or practical) were in a recent decision that had been made. Backwards stepwise logistic regression analyses were undertaken to assess the contributions of age, gender and professional background, as well as the years of experience in NHS commissioning, pay grade and work role.
The extent to which empirical evidence was used for commissioning decisions in the NHS varied according to the professional background. Only 50% of respondents stated that clinical guidelines and cost-effectiveness evidence were important for healthcare decisions. Respondents were more likely to report use of empirical evidence if they worked in Public Health in comparison to other departments (p<0.0005, commissioning and contracts OR 0.32, 95%CI 0.18 to 0.57, finance OR 0.19, 95%CI 0.05 to 0.78, other departments OR 0.35, 95%CI 0.17 to 0.71) or if they were female (OR 1.8 95% CI 1.01 to 3.1) rather than male. Respondents were more likely to report use of practical evidence if they were more senior within the organisation (pay grade 8b or higher OR 2.7, 95%CI 1.4 to 5.3, p=0.004 in comparison to lower pay grades).
Those trained in Public Health appeared more likely to use external empirical evidence while those at higher pay scales were more likely to use practical evidence when making commissioning decisions. Clearly, National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance and government publications (eg, National Service Frameworks) are important for decision-making, but practical sources of evidence such as local intelligence, benchmarking data and expert advice are also influential. New Clinical Commissioning Groups will need a variety of different evidence sources and expert involvement to ensure that effective decisions are made for their populations.
Health Services Administration & Management; Public Health
We aimed to validate the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) among English speaking adults representing two of the minority ethnic groups living in the UK, self-identified as Chinese or Pakistani by background, in a mixed methods study.
Quantitative data were collected in two cities in the West Midlands, UK. Item response, dimensionality, internal consistency, and construct validity of the WEMWBS were assessed in Chinese and Pakistani groups separately, using data from both cities combined.
Qualitative data were collected in the first city in eight focus groups of different ages recruited by the community workers. Three mixed sex Chinese and five single sex Pakistani groups discussed ease of completion and comprehension of items, together with overall reactions to the scale and underlying concept.
Results of quantitative and qualitative analysis were examined for commonalities and differences.
Item completion and item total correlations were satisfactory in both groups. In the Chinese data, Exploratory Factor Analysis showed a single factor with loadings ranging from 0.60 to 0.82 for all 14 items. In the Pakistani data, three factors reached statistical significance; however, a substantial drop in eigenvalues between the first and second factors and the limited variance explained by the second and third factors supported a one-factor model. All items loaded on this factor from 0.51 to 0.83.
In the Chinese and Pakistani data respectively, Cronbach’s alpha was 0.92 (0.89 – 0.94) and 0.91 (0.88 – 0.94); Spearman’s correlation with GHQ-12 was - 0.63 (−0.73 to −0.49) and −0.55 (−0.70 to −0.36), and with the WHO-5 0.62 (0.46-0.75) and 0.64 (0.50 to 0.76).
Qualitative analysis revealed good comprehension and ease of completion of almost all items. Some culturally determined differences in understanding of mental well-being, which varied both between and within communities, emerged.
The WEMWBS was well received by members of both Pakistani and Chinese communities. It showed high levels of consistency and reliability compared with accepted criteria. Data were sufficiently strong to recommend the WEMWBS for use in general population surveys.
Mental well-being; WEMWBS; Cross cultural; Validation; PROMS (patient reported outcome measures); Ethnicity (MeSH: ethnic groups)
To estimate and quantify childhood mortality, its spatial correlates and the impact of potential correlates using recent census data from three sub-Saharan African countries (Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda), where evidence is lacking.
Nation-wide census samples from three African countries participating in the 2010 African Census round. All three countries have conducted recent censuses and have information on mortality of children under 5 years.
111 288 children under the age of 5 years in three countries.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Under-five mortality was assessed alongside potential correlates including geographical location (where children live), and environmental, bio-demographic and socioeconomic variables.
Multivariate analysis indicates that in all three countries the overall risk of child death in the first 5 years of life has decreased in recent years (Rwanda: HR=0.04, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.09; Senegal: HR=0.02 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.05); Uganda: HR=0.011 (95% CI 0.006 to 0.018). In Rwanda, lower deaths were associated with living in urban areas (0.79, 0.73, 0.83), children with living mother (HR=0.16, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.17) or living father (HR=0.38, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.39). Higher death was associated with male children (HR=1.06, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.08) and Christian children (HR=1.14, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.27). Children less than 1 year were associated with higher risk of death compared to older children in the three countries. Also, there were significant spatial variations showing inequalities in children mortality by geographic location. In Uganda, for example, areas of high risk are in the south-west and north-west and Kampala district showed a significantly reduced risk.
We provide clear evidence of considerable geographical variation of under-five mortality which is unexplained by factors considered in the data. The resulting under-five mortality maps can be used as a practical tool for monitoring progress within countries for the Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce under-five mortality in half by 2015.
Measures of quality of life (QoL) have been found to be predictors of mortality and morbidity; however, there is still limited understanding of the multifaceted nature of these measures and of potential correlates. Using two large populations from the UK and US, we aimed to evaluate and compare measured levels of QoL and the key factors correlated with these levels. Participants were 6,472 white subjects (1,829 women) from the Whitehall II Study (mean age 55.8 years) and 3,684 white subjects (1,903 women) from the Western New York Health Study (mean age 58.7 years). QoL was assessed in both using the physical and mental health component summaries of the short form-36 questionnaire (SF-36). Analysis of covariance was used to compare gender-specific mean scores for the two populations across several potential correlates (including socio-demographic, lifestyle and co-morbidity factors). Levels of reported physical QoL tended to be higher in the UK population (51.2 vs. 48.6) while mental QoL was higher in the US group (53.1 vs. 51.1). Age, sleep duration and depressive symptoms were the main factors correlated with both physical and mental QoL in both samples. Increasing age was associated with poorer physical health but higher mental health scores in both populations (P < 0.001). Sleep duration below 6 or above 8 h was associated with lower levels of QoL. Depressive symptoms were strongly associated with poorer mental health scores (P < 0.001) while higher BMI, lower physical activity levels and presence of cardiovascular disease were associated with poorer physical health in both samples and gender (P < 0.05). There were consistent findings for correlates of QoL in this cross-cultural comparison of two populations from the UK and US. Strongest associations were between lifestyle and co-morbidity factors and the physical health component of the SF-36 rather than the mental health component. This is a novel finding which warrants further consideration.
Quality of life; Health status; Sleep; Depressive symptoms; Cross-cultural comparison; Epidemiology; SF-36
To investigate general practitioners' (GPs') attitudes to guidelines for elective surgical referral in England. To understand their use of guidelines, and attitudes to shared decision making in the referral decision.
A questionnaire was developed which investigated attitudes to and use of guidelines. It was given to a stratified random sample 30% (n = 310) drawn from GP lists of 10 English health districts (primary care trusts (PCTs)). GPs were invited to respond online, by telephone, fax or post. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and backwards stepwise logistic regression.
Responses were representative of GPs in England, but (despite up to 6 contacts per non-responder) the overall response rate was 41.6% (n = 129; with the range across PCTs of 25-61%). Most responding GPs indicated support for referral guidelines but 18% reported that they had never used them. Less than three per cent reported use for most or all referral decisions. The odds of using guidelines decreased with increasing age, with a ten year increase in age associated with halving odds of use (OR = 0.53, 95%CI = 0.29-0.90). Over 50% of GPs wanted good access to electronic guidelines with expert information and advice on guideline availability. Almost all (>89%) GPs agreed with sharing referral decisions with patients. Female doctors (OR = 5.2, 95%CI: 1.02-26.3) were more likely to agree with this than male GPs as were those working in larger compared to small or single handed practices (OR = 5.3, 95%CI: 1.4-19.9).
This group of responding GPs was supportive of guidelines but used them in different ways. Referral guidelines should have an educational component for background reading; include key messages for internalisation and application; and incorporate mechanisms to facilitate accessibility and appropriate shared decision making with patients.
Family Practice [MeSH]; Primary Health Care [MeSH]; Referral and Consultation [MeSH] Surgical Procedures; Operative [MeSH]; Practice Guidelines [MeSH]
Understanding and measuring mental health and wellbeing amongst teenagers has recently become a priority. The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) is validated for measuring mental wellbeing in populations aged 16 years and over in the UK. We report here a study designed to establish the validity and reliability of WEMWBS in teenagers in the UK.
WEMWBS and comparator scales, together with socio-demographic information and self-reported health, were incorporated into a self-administered questionnaire given to pupils aged 13 to 16 years in six schools in Scotland and England. Psychometric properties including internal consistency, correlations with comparator scales, test-retest stability and unidimensionality were investigated for WEMWBS. Twelve focus groups were undertaken to assess acceptability and comprehensibility of WEMWBS and were taped, transcribed and analysed thematically.
A total of 1,650 teenagers completed the questionnaire (response rate 80.8%). Mean WEMWBS score was 48.8 (SD 6.8; median 49). Response scores covered the full range (from 14 to 70). WEMWBS demonstrated strong internal consistency and a high Cronbach's alpha of 0.87 (95% CI (0.85-0.88), n = 1517). Measures of construct validity gave values as predicted. The correlation coefficient for WEMWBS total score and psychological wellbeing domain of the Kidscreen-27 was 0.59 (95% CI [0.55; 0.62]); for the Mental Health Continuum Short Form (MHC-SF) was 0.65, 95% CI [0.62; 0.69]; and for the WHO (WHO-5) Well-being Index 0.57 (95% CI [0.53; 0.61]). The correlation coefficient for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was -0.44 (95% CI [-0.49; -0.40]) and for the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12) -0.45 (95% CI [-0.49; -0.40]). Test-retest reliability was acceptable (Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) 0.66 (95% CI [0.59; 0.72] n = 212)). Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated one underlying factor.
WEMWBS was significantly associated with the Family Affluence Score (WEMWBS increased with increasing household socio-economic status) and had a positive association with the physical health dimension of the Kidscreen-27, but was unrelated to age, gender or location/school. Eighty students took part in focus groups. In general, although some students considered some items open to misunderstanding or misinterpretation, WEMWBS was received positively and was considered comprehensible, and acceptable.
WEMWBS is a psychometrically strong population measure of mental wellbeing, and can be used for this purpose in teenagers aged 13 and over.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) usually undertaken between the ages of 1-9 years and is widely practised in some part of Africa and by migrants from African countries in other parts of the world. Laws prohibit FGM in almost every country. FGM can cause immediate complications (pain, bleeding and infection) and delayed complications (sexual, obstetric, psychological problems). Several factors have been associated with an increased likelihood of FGM. In Burkina Faso, the prevalence of FGM appears to have increased in recent years.
We investigated social, demographic and economic factors associated with FGM in Burkina Faso using the 2003 Demographic Health Survey (DHS). The DHS is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey (multistage stratified random sampling of households) of women of reproductive age (15-49 years). Associations between potential risk factors and the prevalence of FGM were explored using χ2 and t-tests and Mann Whitney U-test as appropriate. Logistic regression modelling was used to investigate social, demographic and economic risk factors associated with FGM.
Main outcome measures
i) whether a woman herself had had FGM; ii) whether she had one or more daughters with FGM.
Data were available on 12,049 women. Response rates by region were at least 90%. Women interviewed were representative of the underlying populations of the different regions of Burkina Faso. Seventy seven percent (9267) of the women interviewed had had FGM. 7336 women had a daughter of whom 2216 (30.2%) had a daughter with FGM and 334 (4.5%) said that they intended that their daughter should have it. Univariate analysis showed that age, religion, wealth, ethnicity, literacy, years of education, household affluence, region and who had responsibility for health care decisions in the household had (RHCD) were all significantly related to the two outcomes (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis stratified by religion mainly confirmed these findings, however, education is significantly associated with a reduced likelihood of FGM only for Christian women.
Conclusions and Policy implications
Factors associated with FGM are varied and complex. Younger women and those from specific groups and religions are less likely to have had FGM. A higher level of education may be protective for women from certain religions. Policies should capitalize on these findings and religious leaders should be involved in continuing programmes of action.
Background. GPs have to respond to conflicting policy developments. As gatekeeper they are supposed to manage the growing demand for specialist services and as patient advocate they should be responsive to patients' preferences. We used an innovative approach to develop a referral guideline for patients with chronic knee pain that explicitly incorporates patients' preferences.
Methods. A guideline development group of 12 members including patients, GPs, orthopaedic surgeons and other health care professionals used formal consensus development informed by systematic evidence reviews. They rated the appropriateness of referral for 108 case scenarios describing patients according to symptom severity, age, body mass, co-morbidity and referral preference. Appropriateness was expressed on scale from 1 (‘strongly disagree’) to 9 (‘strongly agree’).
Results. Ratings of referral appropriateness were strongly influenced by symptom severity and patients' referral preferences. The influence of other patient characteristics was small. There was consensus that patients with severe knee symptoms who want to be referred should be referred and that patient with moderate or mild symptoms and strong preference against referral should not be referred. Referral preference had a greater impact on the ratings of referral appropriateness when symptoms were moderate or severe than when symptoms were mild.
Conclusions. Referral decisions for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee should only be guided by symptom severity and patients' referral preferences. The guideline development group seemed to have given priority to avoiding inefficient resource use in patients with mild symptoms and to respecting patient autonomy in patients with severe symptoms.
Clinical practice guideline; gatekeeping; knee; osteoarthrits; patient preference; referral and consultation
We investigated the effects on collaborative work within the UK National Health Service (NHS) of an intervention for service quality improvement: informal, structured, reciprocated, multidisciplinary peer review with feedback and action plans. The setting was care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Theory and methods
We analysed semi-structured interviews with 43 hospital respiratory consultants, nurses and general managers at 24 intervention and 11 control sites, as part of a UK randomised controlled study, the National COPD Resources and Outcomes Project (NCROP), using Scott's conceptual framework for action (inter-organisational, intra-organisational, inter-professional and inter-individual). Three areas of care targeted by NCROP involved collaboration across primary and secondary care.
Hospital respiratory department collaborations with commissioners and hospital managers varied. Analysis suggested that this is related to team responses to barriers. Clinicians in unsuccessful collaborations told ‘atrocity stories’ of organisational, structural and professional barriers to service improvement. The others removed barriers by working with government and commissioner agendas to ensure continued involvement in patients' care. Multidisciplinary peer review facilitated collaboration between participants, enabling them to meet, reconcile differences and exchange ideas across boundaries.
The data come from the first randomised controlled trial of organisational peer review, adding to research into UK health service collaborative work, which has had a more restricted focus on inter-professional relations. NCROP peer review may only modestly improve collaboration but these data suggest it might be more effective than top-down exhortations to change when collaboration both across and within organisations is required.
collaboration; inter-organizational; inter-professional; quality improvement; respiratory disease
Public health draws from a range of academic disciplines, social, medical and statistical, and answers questions relevant to improving the health of populations. We have initiated a Europe‐wide study, Strengthening Public Health Research in Europe, to assess the development and use of public health research in both public policy and local decision making. The contemporary challenge for public health research is to integrate the capabilities of different academic disciplines to address policies for health. We have considered the development of public health research in five fields: political epidemiology, community health, health services, economics, and evaluation evidence and synthesis. The organisation and funding of research in Europe should be able to support new research fields and issues, to contribute to policy development and public health practice.
Removal of a woman's ovaries (known as bilateral oophorectomy, ovariectomy or, historically, ovariotomy) is undertaken in a number of countries. An estimated 19 000 women aged <60 years had a bilateral prophylactic oophorectomy in the UK in 2003, either as a planned response to an increased specific genetic risk of ovarian or breast cancer or, more frequently, as a prophylactic measure to prevent ovarian cancer. Despite its popularity, however, a full evaluation of the risks, costs and benefits of prophylactic oophorectomy in the absence of genetic markers and at the time of hysterectomy has not yet been undertaken. This paper seeks to provide a historical perspective on current practice by outlining approaches to the ovary in Britain from the 19th century onwards. Historically, ovarian removal has raised many questions about the costs and benefits of surgery. The aim of this article is to highlight the issues, and in so doing, to contribute to a more informed assessment of current practice.
This papers highlights the issues and illustrates a research agenda for trying to disentangle the problems of the continuing use of an untested technbology—prophylactic oophorectomy—at the time of hysterectomy.
ovaries; hysterectomy; prophylactic oophorectomy; menopause
Objective To develop a set of quality criteria for patient decision support technologies (decision aids).
Design and setting Two stage web based Delphi process using online rating process to enable international collaboration.
Participants Individuals from four stakeholder groups (researchers, practitioners, patients, policy makers) representing 14 countries reviewed evidence summaries and rated the importance of 80 criteria in 12 quality domains ona1to9 scale. Second round participants received feedback from the first round and repeated their assessment of the 80 criteria plus three new ones.
Main outcome measure Aggregate ratings for each criterion calculated using medians weighted to compensate for different numbers in stakeholder groups; criteria rated between 7 and 9 were retained.
Results 212 nominated people were invited to participate. Of those invited, 122 participated in the first round (77 researchers, 21 patients, 10 practitioners, 14 policy makers); 104/122 (85%) participated in the second round. 74 of 83 criteria were retained in the following domains: systematic development process (9/9 criteria); providing information about options (13/13); presenting probabilities (11/13); clarifying and expressing values (3/3); using patient stories (2/5); guiding/coaching (3/5); disclosing conflicts of interest (5/5); providing internet access (6/6); balanced presentation of options (3/3); using plain language (4/6); basing information on up to date evidence (7/7); and establishing effectiveness (8/8).
Conclusions Criteria were given the highest ratings where evidence existed, and these were retained. Gaps in research were highlighted. Developers, users, and purchasers of patient decision aids now have a checklist for appraising quality. An instrument for measuring quality of decision aids is being developed.
Objective To investigate the relation between older patients' assessments of the quality of their primary care and measures of good clinical practice on the basis of data from administrative and clinical records.
Design Cross sectional population based study using the general practice assessment survey.
Setting 18 general practices in the Basildon primary care trust area, south east England.
Participants 3487 people aged 65 or more.
Main outcome measures Correlations between mean practice scores on the general practice assessment survey and three evidence based measures on survey of case records (monitoring for, and control of, hypertension, and vaccination against influenza).
Results 76% of people (3487/4563) responded to the general practice assessment survey. Correlations between patient assessed survey scores for technical quality and the objective records based measures of good clinical practice were 0.22 (95% confidence interval -0.28 to 0.62) for hypertension monitored, 0.30 (-0.19 to 0.67) for hypertension controlled, and -0.05 (-0.50 to 0.43) for influenza vaccination.
Conclusions Older patients' assessments are not a sufficient basis for assessing the technical quality of their primary care. For an overall assessment both patient based and records based measures are required.
There has been a resurgence of tuberculosis worldwide, mainly in developing countries but also affecting the United Kingdom (UK), and other Western countries. The control of tuberculosis is dependent on early identification of cases and timely notification to public health departments to ensure appropriate treatment of cases and screening of contacts. Tuberculosis is compulsorily notifiable in the UK, and the doctor making or suspecting the diagnosis is legally responsible for notification. There is evidence of under-reporting of tuberculosis. This has implications for the control of tuberculosis as a disproportionate number of people who become infected are the most vulnerable in society, and are less likely to be identified and notified to the public health system. These include the poor, the homeless, refugees and ethnic minorities.
This study was a critical literature review on completeness of tuberculosis notification within the UK National Health Service (NHS) context. The review also identified data sources associated with reporting completeness and assessed whether studies corrected for undercount using capture-recapture (CR) methodology. Studies were included if they assessed completeness of tuberculosis notification quantitatively. The outcome measure used was notification completeness expressed between 0% and 100% of a defined denominator, or in numbers not notified where the denominator was unknown.
Seven studies that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria were identified through electronic and manual search of published and unpublished literature. One study used CR methodology. Analysis of the seven studies showed that undernotification varied from 7% to 27% in studies that had a denominator; and 38%–49% extra cases were identified in studies which examined specific data sources like pathology reports or prescriptions for anti-tuberculosis drugs. Cases notified were more likely to have positive microbiology than cases not notified which were more likely to have positive histopathology or be surgical in-patients. Collation of prescription data of two or more anti-tuberculosis drugs increases case ascertainment of tuberculosis.
The reporting of tuberculosis is incomplete in the UK, although notification is a statutory requirement. Undernotification leads to an underestimation of the disease burden and hinders implementation of appropriate prevention and control strategies. The notification system needs to be strengthened to include education and training of all sub-specialities involved in diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis.
tuberculosis; notification; completion; evaluation; capture-recapture
To measure whether uptake of breast cancer screening was affected by the publication of the Marmot Review and associated press coverage.
Eight NHS breast screening centres in the West Midlands of the UK.
Uptake of breast cancer screening invitations was compared in the week before and after the Marmot review publication. All 12,023 women invited for screening between 23 October 2012 and 5 November 2012 were included. A mixed effects model of the predictors of screening uptake (on date invited, or within 21 days) was created. Predictors considered for inclusion were whether the allocated screening appointment was before or after publication of the review, population factors (age, index of multiple deprivation income domain by quintile, previous attendance), and interaction terms.
Uptake decreased after publication of the review from 65% to 62% (OR = 0.87 95%CI = 0.80–0.94), but a similar decrease was seen for the same dates on the previous year (OR = 0.85 95%CI = 0.78–0.93). Odds of attending screening were lower for women in the most deprived (uptake = 49%, OR = 0.54, 95%CI = 0.46–0.62) in comparison with the least deprived quintile (uptake = 71%). Odds of attendance also increased if the woman had ever previously attended (OR 3.9 95% CI 3.5–4.4), and decreased with each year of increasing age (OR 0.96 95% CI 0.96–0.97). There were no interactions between any of the other predictors and whether the appointment was before or after publication of the Marmot review.
No change in uptake of breast cancer screening above normal seasonal variation was detected after publication of the Marmot review.