Medical schools need to ensure that graduates feel well prepared for their first medical job. Our objective was to report on differences in junior doctors’ self-reported preparedness for work according to gender, ethnicity and graduate status.
Postal and electronic questionnaires.
Medical graduates of 2008 and 2009, from all UK medical schools, one year after graduation.
Main outcome measures
The main outcome measure was the doctors’ level of agreement with the statement that ‘My experience at medical school prepared me well for the jobs I have undertaken so far’, to which respondents were asked to reply on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.
Women were slightly less likely than men to agree that they felt well prepared for work (50% of women agreed or strongly agreed vs. 54% of men), independently of medical school, ethnicity, graduate entry status and intercalated degree status, although they were no more likely than men to regard lack of preparedness as having been a problem for them. Adjusting for the other subgroup differences, non-white respondents were less likely to report feeling well prepared than white (44% vs. 54%), and were more likely to indicate that lack of preparedness was a problem (30% non-white vs. 24% white). There were also some gender and ethnic differences in preparedness for specific areas of work.
The identified gender and ethnic differences need to be further explored to determine whether they are due to differences in self-confidence or in actual preparedness.
medical education; junior doctors; preparedness for work; gender; ethnicity
To report on what doctors at very different levels of seniority wrote, in their own words, about their concerns about the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) and its implementation in the National Health Service (NHS).
All medical school graduates from 1993, 2005 and 2009 were surveyed by post and email in 2010.
Using qualitative methods, we analysed free-text responses made in 2010, towards the end of the first year of full EWTD implementation, of three cohorts of the UK medical graduates (graduates of 1993, 2005 and 2009), surveyed as part of the UK Medical Careers Research Group's schedule of multipurpose longitudinal surveys of doctors.
Of 2459 respondents who gave free-text comments, 279 (11%) made unprompted reference to the EWTD; 270 of the 279 comments were broadly critical. Key themes to emerge included frequent dissociation between rotas and actual hours worked, adverse effects on training opportunities and quality, concerns about patient safety, lowering of morale and job satisfaction, and attempts reportedly made in some hospitals to persuade junior doctors to collude in the inaccurate reporting of compliance.
Further work is needed to determine whether problems perceived with the EWTD, when they occur, are attributable to the EWTD itself, and shortened working hours, or to the way that it has been implemented in some hospitals.
To report on doctors’ views, from all specialty backgrounds, about the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) and its impact on the National Health Service (NHS), senior doctors and junior doctors.
All medical school graduates from 1999 to 2000 were surveyed by post and email in 2012.
Among other questions, in a multipurpose survey on medical careers and career intentions, doctors were asked to respond to three statements about the EWTD on a five-point scale (from strongly agree to strongly disagree): ‘The implementation of the EWTD has benefited the NHS’, ‘The implementation of the EWTD has benefited senior doctors’ and ‘The implementation of the EWTD has benefited junior doctors’.
The response rate was 54.4% overall (4486/8252), 55.8% (2256/4042) of the 1999 cohort and 53% (2230/4210) of the 2000 cohort. 54.1% (2427) of all respondents were women. Only 12% (498/4136 doctors) agreed that the EWTD has benefited the NHS, 9% (377) that it has benefited senior doctors and 31% (1289) that it has benefited junior doctors. Doctors’ views on EWTD differed significantly by specialty groups: ‘craft’ specialties such as surgery, requiring extensive experience in performing operations, were particularly critical.
These cohorts have experience of working in the NHS before and after the implementation of EWTD. Their lack of support for the EWTD 4 years after its implementation should be a concern. However, it is unclear whether problems rest with the current ceiling on hours worked or with the ways in which EWTD has been implemented.
Health Services Administration & Management; Medical Education & Training
Less than one-third of newly qualified doctors in the UK want a career in general practice. The English Department of Health expects that half of all newly qualified doctors will become GPs.
To report on the reasons why doctors choose or reject careers in general practice, comparing intending GPs with doctors who chose hospital careers.
Design and setting
Questionnaire surveys in all UK medical graduates in selected qualification years.
Questions about specialty career intentions and motivations, put to the qualifiers of 1993, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2008, and 2009, 1 year after qualification, and at longer time intervals thereafter.
‘Enthusiasm for and commitment to the specialty’ was a very important determinant of choice for intending doctors, regardless of chosen specialty. ‘Hours and working conditions’ were a strong influence for intending GPs (cited as having had ‘a great deal’ of influence by 75% of intending GPs in the first year after qualification), much more so than for doctors who wanted a hospital career (cited by 30%). Relatively few doctors had actually considered general practice seriously but then rejected it; 78% of the doctors who rejected general practice gave ‘job content’ as their reason, compared with 32% of doctors who rejected other specialties.
The shortfall of doctors wanting a career in general practice is not accounted for by doctors considering and rejecting it. Many do not consider it at all. There are very distinctive factors that influence choice for, and rejection of, general practice.
career choice; general practice; medical education; workforce, medical
Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is a devastating cause of stroke, occurring in relatively young people. It has been suggested that some immune-mediated diseases may be associated with an increased risk of SAH.
We analysed a database of linked statistical records of hospital admissions and death certificates for the whole of England (1999–2011). Rate ratios for SAH were determined, comparing immune-mediated disease cohorts with comparison cohorts.
There were significantly elevated risks of SAH after hospital admission for the following individual immune-mediated diseases: Addison’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, Crohn’s disease, diabetes mellitus, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, myxoedema, pernicious anaemia, primary biliary cirrhosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, SLE and thyrotoxicosis. Elevated risks that were greater than 2-fold were found for Addison’s disease (rate ratio (RR) = 2.01, 95% confidence interval 1.3-2.97), idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (RR = 2.42, 1.86-3.11), primary biliary cirrhosis (RR = 2.21, 1.43-3.16) and SLE (RR = 3.76, 3.08-4.55).
Our findings strongly support the suggestion that patients with some immune-mediated diseases have an increased risk of SAH. Further studies of the mechanisms behind this association are warranted.
Recruitment of adequate numbers of doctors to psychiatry is
To report on career choice for psychiatry, comparing intending
psychiatrists with doctors who chose other clinical careers.
Questionnaire studies of all newly qualified doctors from all UK medical
schools in 12 qualification years between 1974 and 2009 (33 974 respondent
One, three and five years after graduation, 4–5% of doctors
specified psychiatry as their first choice of future career. This was largely
unchanged across the 35 years. Comparing intending psychiatrists with doctors
who chose other careers, factors with a greater influence on
psychiatrists’ choice included their experience of the subject at
medical school, self-appraisal of their own skills, and inclinations before
medical school. In a substudy of doctors who initially considered but then did
not pursue specialty choices, 72% of those who did not pursue psychiatry gave
‘job content’ as their reason compared with 33% of doctors who
considered but did not pursue other specialties. Historically, more women than
men have chosen psychiatry, but the gap has closed over the past decade.
Junior doctors’ views about psychiatry as a possible career
range from high levels of enthusiasm to antipathy, and are more polarised than
views about other specialties. Shortening of working hours and improvements to
working practices in other hospital-based specialties in the UK may have reduced
the relative attractiveness of psychiatry to women doctors. The extent to which
views of newly qualified doctors about psychiatry can be modified by medical
school education, and by greater exposure to psychiatry during student and early
postgraduate years, needs investigation.
Previous studies have suggested that there may be an association between vitamin D deficiency and the risk of developing immune-mediated diseases.
We analyzed a database of linked statistical records of hospital admissions and death registrations for the whole of England (from 1999 to 2011). Rate ratios for immune-mediated disease were determined, comparing vitamin D deficient cohorts (individuals admitted for vitamin D deficiency or markers of vitamin D deficiency) with comparison cohorts.
After hospital admission for either vitamin D deficiency, osteomalacia or rickets, there were significantly elevated rates of Addison’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, chronic active hepatitis, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes mellitus, pemphigoid, pernicious anemia, primary biliary cirrhosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, thyrotoxicosis, and significantly reduced risks for asthma and myxoedema.
This study shows that patients with vitamin D deficiency may have an increased risk of developing some immune-mediated diseases, although we cannot rule out reverse causality or confounding. Further study of these associations is warranted and these data may aid further public health studies.
Vitamin D; Immune disease; Hospital episode statistics
To investigate whether mortality statistics show an effect of mammographic screening on population-based breast cancer mortality in England.
Joinpoint regression analyses, and other analyses, of population-based mortality data.
Analysis of mortality rates in the Oxford region, UK (1979–2009) because, unlike the rest of England, all causes of death mentioned on each death certificate for its residents (not just the underlying cause) are available prior to commencement of the English National Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP). In addition, analysis of English national breast cancer mortality rates (1971–2009).
Women who died from breast cancer in the Oxford region (1979--2009) and England (1971--2009)
Main outcome measures
Age-specific mortality rates, and age-standardized mortality rates. Joinpoint regression analysis was used to estimate years (‘joinpoints’) in which trends changed, and annual percentage change between joinpoints, with confidence intervals.
In the Oxford region, trends for breast cancer mortality based on underlying cause and on mentions were very similar. For all ages combined, mortality rates peaked for both underlying cause and mentions in 1985 and then started to decline, prior to the introduction of the NHSBSP in 1988. Between 1979 and 2009, for mortality measured as underlying cause, rates declined by −2.1% (95% CI −2.7 to −1.4) per year for women aged 40–49 years (unscreened), and by the same percentage per year (−2.1% [−2.4 to −1.7]) for women aged 50–64 years (screened). In England, the first estimated changes in trend occurred prior to the introduction of screening, or before screening was likely to have had an effect (between 1982 and 1989). Thereafter, the downward trend was greatest in women aged under 40 years: −2.0% per year (−2.8 to −1.2) in 1988–2001 and −5.0% per year (−6.7 to −3.3) in 2001–2009. There was no evidence that declines in mortality rates were consistently greater in women in age groups and cohorts that had been screened at all, or screened several times, than in other (unscreened) women, in the same time periods.
Mortality statistics do not show an effect of mammographic screening on population-based breast cancer mortality in England.
Previous studies have suggested that there may be an association between some immune-mediated diseases and risk of tuberculosis (TB).
We analyzed a database of linked statistical records of hospital admissions and death certificates for the whole of England (1999 to 2011), and a similar database (the Oxford Record Linkage Study (ORLS)) for a region of southern England in an earlier period. Rate ratios for TB were determined, comparing immune-mediated disease cohorts with comparison cohorts.
In the all-England dataset, there were significantly elevated risks of TB after hospital admission for the following individual immune-mediated diseases: Addison's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, chronic active hepatitis, coeliac disease, Crohn's disease, dermatomyositis, Goodpasture's syndrome, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), myasthenia gravis, myxedema, pemphigoid, pernicious anemia, polyarteritis nodosa, polymyositis, primary biliary cirrhosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjögren's syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), thyrotoxicosis and ulcerative colitis. Particularly high levels of risk were found for Addison’s disease (rate ratio (RR) = 11.9 (95% CI 9.5 to 14.7)), Goodpasture’s syndrome (RR = 10.8 (95% CI 4.0 to 23.5)), SLE (RR = 9.4 (95% CI 7.9 to 11.1)), polymyositis (RR = 8.0 (95% CI 4.9 to 12.2)), polyarteritis nodosa (RR = 6.7 (95% CI 3.2 to 12.4)), dermatomyositis (RR = 6.6 (95% CI 3.0 to 12.5)), scleroderma (RR = 6.1 (95% CI 4.4 to 8.2)) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (RR = 5.1 (95% CI 3.4 to 7.4)).
These two databases show that patients with some immune-mediated diseases have an increased risk of TB, although we cannot explicitly state the direction of risk or exclude confounding. Further study of these associations is warranted, and these findings may aid TB screening, control and treatment policies.
Hospital episode statistics; Immune disease; Tuberculosis
To study whether the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is increased in people with prior autoimmune disease.
An all-England hospital record-linkage dataset spanning 1999–2011 was used. Cohorts were constructed of people with each of a range of autoimmune diseases; the incidence of ALS in each disease cohort was compared with the incidence of ALS in a cohort of individuals without prior admission for the autoimmune disease.
There were significantly more cases than expected of ALS associated with a prior diagnosis of asthma, celiac disease, younger-onset diabetes (younger than 30 years), multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, myxedema, polymyositis, Sjögren syndrome, systemic lupus erythematosus, and ulcerative colitis.
Autoimmune disease associations with ALS raise the possibility of shared genetic or environmental risk factors.
Cardiology is one of the most popular of the hospital medical specialties in the UK. It is also a highly competitive specialty in respect of the availability of higher specialty training posts. Our aims are to describe doctors’ early intentions about seeking careers in cardiology, to report on when decisions about seeking a career in cardiology are made, to compare differences between men and women doctors in the choice of cardiology, and to compare early career choices with later specialty destinations.
Questionnaire surveys were sent to all UK medical graduates in selected qualification years from 1974–2009, at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 years after graduation.
One year after graduation, the percentage of doctors specifying cardiology as their first choice of long-term career rose from the mid-1990s from 2.4% (1993 cohort) to 4.2% (2005 cohort) but then fell back to 2.7% (2009 cohort). Men were more likely to give cardiology as their first choice than women (eg 4.1% of men and 1.9% of women in the 2009 cohort). The percentage of doctors who gave cardiology as their first choice of career declined between years one and five after qualification: the fall was more marked for women. 34% of respondents who specified cardiology as their sole first choice of career one year post-graduation were later working in cardiology. 24% of doctors practising as cardiologists several years after qualification had given cardiology as their sole first choice in year one. The doctors’ ‘domestic circumstances’ were a relatively unimportant influence on specialty choice for aspiring cardiologists, while ‘enthusiasm/commitment’, ‘financial prospects’, ‘experiences of the job so far’ and ‘a particular teacher/department’ were important.
Cardiology grew as a first preference one year after graduation to 2005 but is now falling. It consistently attracts a higher percentage of men than women doctors. The correspondence between early choice and later destination was not particularly strong for cardiology, and was less strong than that for several other specialties.
Cardiology; Career choice; Workforce; Medical education; Hospital medical staff
AIM: To investigate associations between perinatal risk factors and subsequent inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in children and young adults.
METHODS: Record linked abstracts of birth registrations, maternity, day case and inpatient admissions in a defined population of southern England. Investigation of 20 perinatal factors relating to the maternity or the birth: maternal age, Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) in the mother, maternal social class, marital status, smoking in pregnancy, ABO blood group and rhesus status, pre-eclampsia, parity, the infant’s presentation at birth, caesarean delivery, forceps delivery, sex, number of babies delivered, gestational age, birthweight, head circumference, breastfeeding and Apgar scores at one and five minutes.
RESULTS: Maternity records were present for 180 children who subsequently developed IBD. Univariate analysis showed increased risks of CD among children of mothers with CD (P = 0.011, based on two cases of CD in both mother and child) and children of mothers who smoked during pregnancy. Multivariate analysis confirmed increased risks of CD among children of mothers who smoked (odds ratio = 2.04, 95% CI = 1.06-3.92) and for older mothers aged 35+ years (4.81, 2.32-9.98). Multivariate analysis showed that there were no significant associations between CD and 17 other perinatal risk factors investigated. It also showed that, for UC, there were no significant associations with the perinatal factors studied.
CONCLUSION: This study shows an association between CD in mother and child; and elevated risks of CD in children of older mothers and of mothers who smoked.
Crohn’s disease; Ulcerative colitis; Perinatal risk factors; Record linkage
Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have been reported to be at higher risk of fracture than other people. We sought to test this hypothesis in a large database of hospital admissions in England.
We analysed a database of linked statistical records of hospital admissions and death certificates for the whole of England (1999–2010). Rate ratios for fractures were determined, comparing fracture rates in a cohort of all people in England admitted with MS and rates in a comparison cohort.
Significantly elevated risk for all fractures was found in patients with MS (rate ratio (RR) = 1.99, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.93-2.05)). Risks were particularly high for femoral fractures (femoral neck fracture RR = 2.79 (2.65-2.93); femoral shaft fracture RR 6.69 (6.12-7.29)), and fractures of the tibia or ankle RR = 2.81 (2.66-2.96).
Patients with MS have an increased risk of fractures. Caregivers should aim to optimize bone health in MS patients.
Multiple sclerosis; Fractures; Epidemiology
To report on doctors’ family formation.
Cohort studies using structured questionnaires.
Doctors who qualified in 1988, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2000 and 2002 were followed up.
Main Outcome Measures
Living with spouse or partner; and doctors’ age when first child was born.
The response to surveys including questions about domestic circumstances was 89.8% (20,717/23,077 doctors). The main outcomes – living with spouse or partner, and parenthood – varied according to age at qualification. Using the modal ages of 23–24 years at qualification, by the age of 24–25 (i.e. in their first year of medical work) a much smaller percentage of doctors than the general population was living with spouse or partner. By the age of 33, 75% of both women and men doctors were living with spouse or partner, compared with 68% of women and 61% of men aged 33 in the general population.
By the age of 24–25, 2% of women doctors and 41% of women in the general population had a child; but women doctors caught up with the general population, in this respect, in their 30s. The specialty with the highest percentage of women doctors who, aged 35, had children was general practice (74%); the lowest was surgery (41%).
Doctors are more likely than other people to live with a spouse or partner, and to have children, albeit typically at later ages. Differences between specialties in rates of motherhood may indicate sacrifice by some women of family in favour of career.
AIM: To establish the hospitalized prevalence of severe Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) in Wales from 1999 to 2007; and to investigate long-term mortality after hospitalization and associations with social deprivation and other socio-demographic factors.
METHODS: Record linkage of administrative inpatient and mortality data for 1467 and 1482 people hospitalised as emergencies for ≥ 3 d for CD and UC, respectively. The main outcome measures were hospitalized prevalence, mortality rates and standardized mortality ratios for up to 5 years follow-up after hospitalization.
RESULTS: Hospitalized prevalence was 50.1 per 100 000 population for CD and 50.6 for UC. The hospitalized prevalence of CD was significantly higher (P < 0.05) in females (57.4) than in males (42.2), and was highest in people aged 16-29 years, but the prevalence of UC was similar in males (51.0) and females (50.1), and increased continuously with age. The hospitalized prevalence of CD was slightly higher in the most deprived areas, but there was no association between social deprivation and hospitalized prevalence of UC. Mortality was 6.8% and 14.6% after 1 and 5 years follow-up for CD, and 9.2% and 20.8% after 1 and 5 years for UC. For both CD and UC, there was little discernible association between mortality and social deprivation, distance from hospital, urban/rural residence and geography.
CONCLUSION: CD and UC have distinct demographic profiles. The higher prevalence of hospitalized CD in more deprived areas may reflect higher prevalence and higher hospital dependency.
Crohn’s disease; Ulcerative colitis; Prevalence; Mortality; Record linkage
To report doctors' rejection of specialties as long-term careers and reasons for rejection.
Graduates of 2002, 2005 and 2008 from all UK medical schools, surveyed one year after qualification.
Main outcome measures
Current specialty choice; any choice that had been seriously considered but not pursued (termed ‘rejected’ choices) with reasons for rejection.
2573 of 9155 respondents (28%) had seriously considered but then not pursued a specialty choice. By comparison with positive choices, general practice was under-represented among rejected choices: it was the actual choice of 27% of respondents and the rejected choice of only 6% of those who had rejected a specialty. Consideration of ‘job content’ was important in not pursuing general practice (cited by 78% of those who considered but rejected a career in general practice), psychiatry (72%), radiology (69%) and pathology (68%). The surgical specialties were the current choice of 20% of respondents and had been considered but rejected by 32% of doctors who rejected a specialty. Issues of work-life balance were the single most common factor, particularly for women, in not pursuing the surgical specialties, emergency medicine, the medical hospital specialties, paediatrics, and obstetrics and gynaecology. Competition for posts, difficult examinations, stressful working conditions, and poor training were mentioned but were mainly minority concerns.
There is considerable diversity between doctors in their reasons for finding specialties attractive or unattractive. This underlines the importance of recruitment strategies to medical school that recognize diversity of students' interests and aptitudes.
Background: There are limited national population-based epidemiological data on acute myocardial infarction (AMI) in England, making the current burden of disease, and clinical prognosis, difficult to quantify. The aim of this study was to provide national estimates of incidence and 30-day case fatality rate (CFR) for first and recurrent AMI in England. Methods: Population-based study using person-linked routine hospital and mortality data on 79 896 individuals of any age, who were admitted to hospital for AMI or who died suddenly from AMI in 2010. Results: Of 82 252 AMI events in 2010, 83% were first. Age-standardized incidence of first AMI per 100 000 population was 130 (95% CI 129–131) in men and 55.9 (95% CI 55.3–56.6) in women. Age-standardized 30-day overall CFRs including sudden AMI deaths for men and women, respectively, were 32.4% (95% CI 32.0–32.9) and 30.3% (95% CI 29.8–30.9) for first AMI and 29.7% (95% CI 28.7–30.7) and 26.7% (95% CI 25.5–27.9) for recurrent AMI. Age-standardized hospitalized 30-day CFR was 12.0% (95% CI 11.6–12.3) for men and 12.3% (95% CI 11.9–12.7) for women. Conclusions: While the majority of AMIs are not fatal, of those that are, two-thirds occur as sudden AMI deaths. About one in six of all AMIs are recurrent events. These findings reinforce the importance of primary and secondary prevention in reducing AMI morbidity and mortality.
To investigate factors which influenced UK-trained doctors to emigrate to New Zealand and factors which might encourage them to return.
Cross-sectional postal and Internet questionnaire survey.
Participants in New Zealand; investigators in UK.
UK-trained doctors from 10 graduation-year cohorts who were registered with the New Zealand Medical Council in 2009.
Main outcome measures
Reasons for emigration; job satisfaction; satisfaction with leisure time; intentions to stay in New Zealand; changes to the UK NHS which might increase the likelihood of return.
Of 38,821 UK-trained doctors in the cohorts, 535 (1.4%) were registered to practise in New Zealand. We traced 419, of whom 282 (67%) replied to our questionnaire. Only 30% had originally intended to emigrate permanently, but 89% now intended to stay. Sixty-nine percent had moved to take up a medical job. Seventy percent gave additional reasons for relocating to New Zealand including better lifestyle, to be with family, travel/working holiday, or disillusionment with the NHS. Respondents' mean job satisfaction score was 8.1 (95% CI 7.9–8.2) on a scale from 1 (lowest satisfaction) to 10 (highest), compared with 7.1 (7.1–7.2) for contemporaries in the UK NHS. Scored similarly, mean satisfaction with the time available for leisure was 7.8 (7.6–8.0) for the doctors in New Zealand, compared with 5.7 (5.6–5.7) for the NHS doctors. Although few respondents wanted to return to the UK, some stated that the likelihood of doctors' returning would be increased by changes to NHS working conditions and by administrative changes to ease the process.
Emigrant doctors in New Zealand had higher job satisfaction than their UK-based contemporaries, and few wanted to return. The predominant reason for staying in New Zealand was a preference for the lifestyle there.
To investigate if there is a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in children breastfed or exclusively breastfed by performing a pooled analysis with adjustment for recognized confounders.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Relevant studies were identified from literature searches using MEDLINE, Web of Science, and EMBASE. Authors of relevant studies were asked to provide individual participant data or conduct prespecified analyses. Meta-analysis techniques were used to combine odds ratios (ORs) and investigate heterogeneity between studies.
Data were available from 43 studies including 9,874 patients with type 1 diabetes. Overall, there was a reduction in the risk of diabetes after exclusive breast-feeding for >2 weeks (20 studies; OR = 0.75, 95% CI 0.64–0.88), the association after exclusive breast-feeding for >3 months was weaker (30 studies; OR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.75–1.00), and no association was observed after (nonexclusive) breast-feeding for >2 weeks (28 studies; OR = 0.93, 95% CI 0.81–1.07) or >3 months (29 studies; OR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.78–1.00). These associations were all subject to marked heterogeneity (I2 = 58, 76, 54, and 68%, respectively). In studies with lower risk of bias, the reduced risk after exclusive breast-feeding for >2 weeks remained (12 studies; OR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.75–0.99), and heterogeneity was reduced (I2 = 0%). Adjustments for potential confounders altered these estimates very little.
The pooled analysis suggests weak protective associations between exclusive breast-feeding and type 1 diabetes risk. However, these findings are difficult to interpret because of the marked variation in effect and possible biases (particularly recall bias) inherent in the included studies.
There is current interest in the role of perinatal factors in the aetiology of diseases that occur later in life. Infectious mononucleosis (IM) can follow late primary infection with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and has been shown to increase the risk of multiple sclerosis and Hodgkin's disease. Little is known about maternal or perinatal factors associated with IM or its sequelae.
We investigated perinatal risk factors for hospitalised IM using a prospective record-linkage study in a population in the south of England. The dataset used, the Oxford record linkage study (ORLS), includes abstracts of birth registrations, maternities and in-patient hospital records, including day case care, for all subjects in a defined geographical area. From these sources, we identified cases of hospitalised IM up to the age of 30 years in people for whom the ORLS had a maternity record; and we compared perinatal factors in their pregnancy with those in the pregnancy of children who had no hospital record of IM.
Our data showed a significant association between hospitalised IM and lower social class (p = 0.02), a higher risk of hospitalised IM in children of married rather than single mothers (p < 0.001), and, of marginal statistical significance, an association with singleton birth (p = 0.06). The ratio of observed to expected cases of hospitalised IM in each season was 0.95 in winter, 1.02 in spring, 1.02 in summer and 1.00 in autumn. The chi-square test for seasonality, with a value of 0.8, was not significant.
Other factors studied, including low birth weight, short gestational age, maternal smoking, late age at motherhood, did not increase the risk of subsequent hospitalised IM.
Because of the increasing tendency of women to postpone childbearing, it is useful to know that older age at motherhood is not associated with an increased risk of hospitalised IM in their children. We have no explanation for the finding that children of married women had a higher risk of IM than those of single mothers. Though highly significant, it may nonetheless be a chance finding. We found no evidence that such perinatal factors as birth weight and gestational age, or season of birth, were associated with the risk of hospitalised IM.
The aim if the study was to investigate whether children born to older mothers have an increased risk of type 1 diabetes by performing a pooled analysis of previous studies using individual patient data to adjust for recognized confounders.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
Relevant studies published before June 2009 were identified from MEDLINE, Web of Science, and EMBASE. Authors of studies were contacted and asked to provide individual patient data or conduct prespecified analyses. Risk estimates of type 1 diabetes by maternal age were calculated for each study, before and after adjustment for potential confounders. Meta-analysis techniques were used to derive combined odds ratios and to investigate heterogeneity among studies.
Data were available for 5 cohort and 25 case-control studies, including 14,724 cases of type 1 diabetes. Overall, there was, on average, a 5% (95% CI 2–9) increase in childhood type 1 diabetes odds per 5-year increase in maternal age (P = 0.006), but there was heterogeneity among studies (heterogeneity I2 = 70%). In studies with a low risk of bias, there was a more marked increase in diabetes odds of 10% per 5-year increase in maternal age. Adjustments for potential confounders little altered these estimates.
There was evidence of a weak but significant linear increase in the risk of childhood type 1 diabetes across the range of maternal ages, but the magnitude of association varied between studies. A very small percentage of the increase in the incidence of childhood type 1 diabetes in recent years could be explained by increases in maternal age.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common complication during and after a hospital admission. Although it is mainly considered a complication of surgery, it often occurs in people who have not undergone surgery, with recent evidence suggesting that immune-mediated diseases may play a role in VTE risk. We, therefore, decided to study the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) in people admitted to hospital with a range of immune-mediated diseases.
We analysed databases of linked statistical records of hospital admissions and death certificates for the Oxford Record Linkage Study area (ORLS1:1968 to 1998 and ORLS2:1999 to 2008) and the whole of England (1999 to 2008). Rate ratios for VTE were determined, comparing immune-mediated disease cohorts with comparison cohorts.
Significantly elevated risks of VTE were found, in all three populations studied, in people with a hospital record of admission for autoimmune haemolytic anaemia, chronic active hepatitis, dermatomyositis/polymyositis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, myxoedema, pemphigus/pemphigoid, polyarteritis nodosa, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Rate ratios were considerably higher for some of these diseases than others: for example, for systemic lupus erythematosus the rate ratios were 3.61 (2.36 to 5.31) in the ORLS1 population, 4.60 (3.19 to 6.43) in ORLS2 and 3.71 (3.43 to 4.02) in the England dataset.
People admitted to hospital with immune-mediated diseases may be at an increased risk of subsequent VTE. Our findings need independent confirmation or refutation; but, if confirmed, there may be a role for thromboprophylaxis in some patients with these diseases.
It is well recognised that variation in the geographical distribution of multiple sclerosis (MS) exists. Early studies in England have shown the disease to have been more common in the North than the South. However, this could be an artefact of inaccurate diagnosis and ascertainment, and recent data on MS prevalence are lacking. In the present study, data were analysed to provide a more contemporary map of the distribution of MS in England and, as infectious mononucleosis (IM) has been shown to be associated with the risk of MS, the geographical distribution of IM with that of MS was compared.
Analysis of linked statistical abstracts of hospital data for England between 1999 and 2005.
There were 56 681 MS patients. The admission rate for MS was higher in females (22/105; 95% CI 21.8 to 22.3) than males (10.4/105; 95% CI 10.2 to 10.5). The highest admission rate for MS was seen for residents of Cumbria and Lancashire (North of England) (20.1/105; 95% CI 19.3 to 20.8) and the lowest admission rate was for North West London residents (South of England) (12.4/105; 95% CI 11.8 to 13.1). The geographical distributions of IM and MS were significantly correlated (weighted regression coefficient (r (w))=0.70, p<0.0001). Admission rates for MS were lowest in the area quintile with the highest level of deprivation and they were also lowest in the area quintile with the highest percentage of population born outside the UK. A significant association between northernliness and MS remained after adjustment for deprivation and UK birthplace.
The results show the continued existence of a latitude gradient for MS in England and show a correlation with the distribution of IM. The data have implications for healthcare provision, because lifetime costs of MS exceed £1 million per case in the UK, as well as for studies of disease causality and prevention.
The transition from medical student to junior doctor in postgraduate training is a critical stage in career progression. We report junior doctors' views about the extent to which their medical school prepared them for their work in clinical practice.
Postal questionnaires were used to survey the medical graduates of 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2005, from all UK medical schools, one year after graduation, and graduates of 2000, 2002 and 2005 three years after graduation. Summary statistics, chi-squared tests, and binary logistic regression were used to analyse the results. The main outcome measure was the level of agreement that medical school had prepared the responder well for work.
Response rate was 63.7% (11610/18216) in year one and 60.2% (8427/13997) in year three. One year after graduation, 36.3% (95% CI: 34.6, 38.0) of 1999/2000 graduates, 50.3% (48.5, 52.2) of 2002 graduates, and 58.2% (56.5, 59.9) of 2005 graduates agreed their medical school had prepared them well. Conversely, in year three agreement fell from 48.9% (47.1, 50.7) to 38.0% (36.0, 40.0) to 28.0% (26.2, 29.7). Combining cohorts at year one, percentages who agreed that they had been well prepared ranged from 82% (95% CI: 79-87) at the medical school with the highest level of agreement to 30% (25-35) at the lowest. At year three the range was 70% to 27%. Ethnicity and sex were partial predictors of doctors' level of agreement; following adjustment for them, substantial differences between schools remained. In years one and three, 30% and 34% of doctors specified that feeling unprepared had been a serious or medium-sized problem for them (only 3% in each year regarded it as serious).
The vast knowledge base of clinical practice makes full preparation impossible. Our statement about feeling prepared is simple yet discriminating and identified some substantial differences between medical schools. Medical schools need feedback from graduates about elements of training that could be improved.
Changes to the structure of medical training worldwide require doctors to decide on their career specialty at an increasingly early stage after graduation. We studied trends in career choices for surgery, and the eventual career destinations, of UK graduates who declared an early preference for surgery.
Postal questionnaires were sent, at regular time intervals after qualification, to all medical qualifiers from all UK medical schools in selected qualification years between 1974 and 2005. They were sent in the first year after qualification, at year three and five years after qualification, and at longer time intervals thereafter.
Responses were received from 27 749 of 38 280 doctors (73%) at year one, 23 468 of 33151 (71%) at year three, and 17 689 of 24 870 (71%) at year five. Early career preferences showed that surgery has become more popular over the past two decades. Looking forward from early career choice, 60% of respondents (64% of men, 48% of women) with a first preference for a surgical specialty at year one eventually worked in surgery (p < 0.001 for the male-female comparison). Looking backward from eventual career destinations, 90% of responders working in surgery had originally specified a first choice for a surgical specialty at year one. 'Match' rates between eventual destinations and early choices were much higher for surgery than for other specialties. Considering factors that influenced early specialty choice 'a great deal', comparing aspiring surgeons and aspiring general practitioners (GPs), a significantly higher percentage who chose surgery than general practice specified enthusiasm for the specialty (73% vs. 53%), a particular teacher or department (34% vs. 12%), inclinations before medical school (20% vs. 11%), and future financial prospects (24% vs. 13%); and a lower percentage specified that hours and working conditions had influenced their choice (21% vs. 71%). Women choosing surgery were influenced less than men by their inclinations before medical school or by their future financial prospects.
Surgery is a popular specialty choice in the UK. The great majority of doctors who progressed in a surgical career made an early and definitive decision to do so.