The combination of fluticasone furoate (FF), a novel inhaled corticosteroid (ICS), and vilanterol (VI), a long-acting β2 agonist, is under development as a once-daily treatment of asthma and COPD. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of FF/VI with fluticasone propionate (FP)/salmeterol (SAL) in patients with persistent asthma uncontrolled on a medium dose of ICS.
In a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, parallel group study, 806 patients received FF/VI (100/25 μg, n = 403) once daily in the evening delivered through ELLIPTA (GlaxoSmithKline) dry powder inhaler, or FP/SAL (250/50 μg, n = 403) bid through DISKUS/ACCUHALER (GlaxoSmithKline). The primary efficacy measure was 0- to 24-h serial weighted mean (wm) FEV1 after 24 weeks of treatment.
Improvements from baseline in 0- to 24-h wmFEV1 were observed with both FF/VI (341 mL) and FP/SAL (377 mL); the adjusted mean treatment difference was not statistically significant (−37 mL; 95% CI, −88 to 15, P = 0.162). There were no differences between 0- to 4-h serial wmFEV1, trough FEV1, and asthma control and quality-of-life questionnaire scores. There was no difference in reported exacerbations between treatments. Both treatments were well tolerated, with no clinically relevant effect on urinary cortisol excretion or vital signs and no treatment-related serious adverse events.
The efficacy of once-daily FF/VI was similar to bid FP/SAL in improving lung function in patients with persistent asthma. No safety issues were identified.
ClinicalTrials.gov; No.: NCT01147848; URL: www.clinicaltrials.gov
Tuberculosis (TB) causes 1.45 million deaths annually world wide, the majority of which occur in the developing world. Active TB disease represents immune failure to control latent infection from airborne spread. Acid-fast bacillus (AFB) seen on sputum smear is a biomarker for contagiousness.
We enrolled 73 tuberculosis patients with extensive infiltrates into a research study using bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) to sample lung immune cells and assay BAL cell cytokine production. All patients had sputum culture demonstrating Mycobacterium tuberculosis and 59/73 (81%) had AFB identified by microscopy of the sputum. Compared with smear negative patients, smear positive patients at presentation had a higher proportion with smoking history, a higher proportion with temperature >38.50 C, higher BAL cells/ml, lower percent lymphocytes in BAL, higher IL-4 and IL-12p40 in BAL cell supernatants. There was no correlation between AFB smear and other BAL or serum cytokines. Increasing IL-4 was associated with BAL PMN and negatively associated with BAL lymphocytes. Each 10-fold increase in BAL IL-4 and IL-12p40 increased the odds of AFB smear positivity by 7.4 and 2.2-fold, respectively, in a multi-variable logistic model.
Increasing IL-4 and IL-12p40 production by BAL cells are biomarkers for AFB in sputum of patients who present with radiographically advanced TB. They likely reflect less effective immune control of pathways for controlling TB, leading to patients with increased infectiousness.
To compare strategies for COPD case-finding using data from the Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study.
Population-based samples of adults aged ≥40 years (n= 9390) from 14 countries completed a questionnaire and spirometry. We compared the screening efficiency of different staged algorithms that used questionnaire data and/or PEF to identify persons at risk for COPD and hence needing confirmatory spirometry. Separate algorithms were fitted for moderate/severe COPD and for severe COPD. We estimated the cost of each algorithm in 1000 people.
For moderate/severe COPD, use of questionnaire data alone permitted high sensitivity (97%), but required confirmatory spirometry on 80% of participants. Use of PEF only required confirmatory spirometry in only 19-22% of subjects with 83-84% sensitivity. For severe COPD, use of PEF achieved 91-93% sensitivity, requiring confirmatory spirometry in <9% of participants. Cost analysis suggested that a staged screening algorithm using only PEF initially, followed by confirmatory spirometry as needed, was the most cost-effective case finding strategy.
Our results support the use of PEF as a simple, cost-effective initial screening tool for conducting COPD case-finding in adults ≥40 years. These findings should be validated in real-world settings such as the primary care environment.
Adult; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; Peak Expiratory Flow; questionnaire; screening; epidemiology
Chest radiography is sometimes the only method available for investigating patients with possible pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) with negative sputum smears. However, interpretation of chest radiographs in this context lacks specificity for PTB, is subjective and is neither standardized nor reproducible. Efforts to improve the interpretation of chest radiography are warranted.
To develop a scoring system to aid the diagnosis of PTB, using features recorded with the Chest Radiograph Reading and Recording System (CRRS).
Chest radiographs of outpatients with possible PTB, recruited over 3 years at clinics in South Africa were read by two independent readers using the CRRS method. Multivariate analysis was used to identify features significantly associated with culture-positive PTB. These were weighted and used to generate a score.
473 patients were included in the analysis. Large upper lobe opacities, cavities, unilateral pleural effusion and adenopathy were significantly associated with PTB, had high inter-reader reliability, and received 2, 2, 1 and 2 points, respectively in the final score. Using a cut-off of 2, scores below this threshold had a high negative predictive value (91.5%, 95%CI 87.1,94.7), but low positive predictive value (49.4%, 95%CI 42.9,55.9). Among the 382 TB suspects with negative sputum smears, 229 patients had scores <2; the score correctly ruled out active PTB in 214 of these patients (NPV 93.4%; 95%CI 89.4,96.3). The score had a suboptimal negative predictive value in HIV-infected patients (NPV 86.4, 95% CI 75,94).
The proposed scoring system is simple, and reliably ruled out active PTB in smear-negative HIV-uninfected patients, thus potentially reducing the need for further tests in high burden settings. Validation studies are now required.
Robust evidence of the effectiveness of task shifting of antiretroviral therapy (ART) from doctors to other health workers is scarce. We aimed to assess the effects on mortality, viral suppression, and other health outcomes and quality indicators of the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) programme, which provides educational outreach training of nurses to initiate and represcribe ART, and to decentralise care.
We undertook a pragmatic, parallel, cluster-randomised trial in South Africa between Jan 28, 2008, and June 30, 2010. We randomly assigned 31 primary-care ART clinics to implement the STRETCH programme (intervention group) or to continue with standard care (control group). The ratio of randomisation depended on how many clinics were in each of nine strata. Two cohorts were enrolled: eligible patients in cohort 1 were adults (aged ≥16 years) with CD4 counts of 350 cells per μL or less who were not receiving ART; those in cohort 2 were adults who had already received ART for at least 6 months and were being treated at enrolment. The primary outcome in cohort 1 was time to death (superiority analysis). The primary outcome in cohort 2 was the proportion with undetectable viral loads (<400 copies per mL) 12 months after enrolment (equivalence analysis, prespecified difference <6%). Patients and clinicians could not be masked to group assignment. The interim analysis was blind, but data analysts were not masked after the database was locked for final analysis. Analyses were done by intention to treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN46836853.
5390 patients in cohort 1 and 3029 in cohort 2 were in the intervention group, and 3862 in cohort 1 and 3202 in cohort 2 were in the control group. Median follow-up was 16·3 months (IQR 12·2–18·0) in cohort 1 and 18·0 months (18·0–18·0) in cohort 2. In cohort 1, 997 (20%) of 4943 patients analysed in the intervention group and 747 (19%) of 3862 in the control group with known vital status at the end of the trial had died. Time to death did not differ (hazard ratio [HR] 0·94, 95% CI 0·76–1·15). In a preplanned subgroup analysis of patients with baseline CD4 counts of 201–350 cells per μL, mortality was slightly lower in the intervention group than in the control group (0·73, 0·54–1.00; p=0·052), but it did not differ between groups in patients with baseline CD4 of 200 cells per μL or less (0·94, 0·76–1·15; p=0·577). In cohort 2, viral load suppression 12 months after enrolment was equivalent in intervention (2156 [71%] of 3029 patients) and control groups (2230 [70%] of 3202; risk difference 1·1%, 95% CI −2·4 to 4·6).
Expansion of primary-care nurses' roles to include ART initiation and represcription can be done safely, and improve health outcomes and quality of care, but might not reduce time to ART or mortality.
UK Medical Research Council, Development Cooperation Ireland, and Canadian International Development Agency.
Task-shifting is promoted widely as a mechanism for expanding antiretroviral treatment (ART) access. However, the evidence for nurse-initiated and managed ART (NIMART) in Africa is limited, and little is known about the key barriers and enablers to implementing NIMART programmes on a large scale. The STRETCH (Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV) programme was a complex educational and organisational intervention implemented in the Free State Province of South Africa to enable nurses providing primary HIV/AIDS care to expand their roles and include aspects of care and treatment usually provided by physicians. STRETCH used a phased implementation approach and ART treatment guidelines tailored specifically to nurses. The effects of STRETCH on pre-ART mortality, ART provision, and the quality of HIV/ART care were evaluated through a randomised controlled trial. This study was conducted alongside the trial to develop a contextualised understanding of factors affecting the implementation of the programme.
This study was a qualitative process evaluation using in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with patients, health workers, health managers, and other key informants as well as observation in clinics. Research questions focused on perceptions of STRETCH, changes in health provider roles, attitudes and patient relationships, and impact of the implementation context on trial outcomes. Data were analysed collaboratively by the research team using thematic analysis.
NIMART appears to be highly acceptable among nurses, patients, and physicians. Managers and nurses expressed confidence in their ability to deliver ART successfully. This confidence developed slowly and unevenly, through a phased and well-supported approach that guided nurses through training, re-prescription, and initiation. The research also shows that NIMART changes the working and referral relationships between health staff, demands significant training and support, and faces workload and capacity constraints, and logistical and infrastructural challenges.
Large-scale NIMART appears to be feasible and acceptable in the primary level public sector health services in South Africa. Successful implementation requires a comprehensive approach with: an incremental and well supported approach to implementation; clinical guidelines tailored to nurses; and significant health services reorganisation to accommodate the knock-on effects of shifts in practice.
Antiretroviral treatment; NIMART; South Africa; Primary healthcare; Nurse training; Process evaluation; PALSA PLUS
Community-acquired pneumonia affects approximately 4 million people in the United States, with 40,000 deaths per year. The incidence is increased about 35-fold in HIV-infected individuals, and this rate has decreased since the antiretroviral era has begun. Bacterial pneumonia has decreased from 5 to 20 cases per 100 person-years to less than 1 to 5 cases per 100 person-years in the era of antiretroviral therapy. HIV-1 infection impairs the function of neutrophils in the lung and infects CD4+ cells and alveolar macrophages. Opportunistic infections dramatically increase local HIV replication in the lung cells, especially alveolar macrophages and CD4+ cells. This enhanced replication increases viral mutations and provides opportunities for viral escape from latent reservoirs. Mortality is increased with more comorbidities in this highly susceptible population. Immunization with vaccines is recommended, especially pneumococcal vaccines, although the vaccine itself may stimulate viral replication. Recent studies show that the lower respiratory tract is a microbial reservoir in HIV-infected individuals rather than being a sterile environment, as originally thought. This may provide new opportunities for preventing opportunistic infections in HIV-infected subjects. Bacterial pneumonia presents an ongoing challenge in these high-risk individuals, particularly in studying the functions of the innate and acquired immune response.
bacterial pneumonia; HIV antiretroviral therapy
Asthma is a major cause of disability, health resource utilization and poor quality of life world-wide. We set out to generate estimates of the global burden of asthma in adults, which may inform the development of strategies to address this common disease.
The World Health Survey (WHS) was developed and implemented by the World Health Organization in 2002-2003. A total of 178,215 individuals from 70 countries aged 18 to 45 years responded to questions related to asthma and related symptoms. The prevalence of asthma was based on responses to questions relating to self-reported doctor diagnosed asthma, clinical/treated asthma, and wheezing in the last 12 months.
The global prevalence rates of doctor diagnosed asthma, clinical/treated asthma and wheezing in adults were 4.3%, 4.5%, and 8.6% respectively, and varied by as much as 21-fold amongst the 70 countries. Australia reported the highest rate of doctor diagnosed, clinical/treated asthma, and wheezing (21.0%, 21.5%, and 27.4%). Amongst those with clinical/treated asthma, almost 24% were current smokers, half reported wheezing, and 20% had never been treated for asthma.
This study provides a global estimate of the burden of asthma in adults, and suggests that asthma continues to be a major public health concern worldwide. The high prevalence of smoking remains a major barrier to combating the global burden of asthma. While the highest prevalence rates were observed in resource-rich countries, resource-poor nations were also significantly affected, posing a barrier to development as it stretches further the demands of non-communicable diseases.
Accurate quantification of mycobacterial load is important for the evaluation of patient infectiousness, disease severity and monitoring treatment response in human and in-vitro laboratory models of disease. We hypothesized that newer techniques would perform as well as solid media culture to quantify mycobacterial burden in laboratory specimens.
We compared the turn-around-time, detection-threshold, dynamic range, reproducibility, relative discriminative ability, of 4 mycobacterial load determination techniques: automated liquid culture (BACTEC-MGIT-960), [3H]-uracil incorporation assays, luciferase-reporter construct bioluminescence, and quantitative PCR(Xpert -MTB/RIF) using serial dilutions of Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37RV. Mycobacterial colony-forming-units(CFU) using 7H10-Middlebrook solid media served as the reference standard.
All 4 assays correlated well with the reference standard, however, bioluminescence and uracil assays had a detection threshold ≥1×103 organisms. By contrast, BACTEC-MGIT-960 liquid culture, although only providing results in days, was user-friendly, had the lowest detection threshold (<10 organisms), the greatest discriminative ability (1 vs. 10 organisms; p = 0.02), and the best reproducibility (coefficient of variance of 2% vs. 38% compared to uracil incorporation; p = 0.02). Xpert-MTB/RIF correlated well with mycobacterial load, had a rapid turn-around-time (<2 hours), was user friendly, but had a detection limit of ∼100 organisms.
Choosing a technique to quantify mycobacterial burden for laboratory or clinical research depends on availability of resources and the question being addressed. Automated liquid culture has good discriminative ability and low detection threshold but results are only obtained in days. Xpert MTB/RIF provides rapid quantification of mycobacterial burden, but has a poorer discrimination and detection threshold.
Inhaled corticosteroids are the recommended first-line treatment for asthma but adherence to therapy is suboptimal. The objectives of this study were to compare the efficacy and safety of once-daily (OD) evening and twice-daily (BD) regimens of the novel inhaled corticosteroid fluticasone furoate (FF) in asthma patients.
Patients with moderate asthma (age ≥ 12 years; pre-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) 40-85% predicted; FEV1 reversibility of ≥ 12% and ≥ 200 ml) were randomized to FF or fluticasone propionate (FP) regimens in a double-blind, crossover study. Patients were not permitted to have used any ICS for ≥ 8 weeks prior to enrolment and subsequently received doses of FF or FP 200 μg OD, FF or FP 100 μg BD and matching placebo by inhalation for 28 days each. Primary endpoint was Day 28 evening pre-dose (trough) FEV1; non-inferiority of FF 200 μg OD and FF 100 μg BD was assessed, as was superiority of all active treatment relative to placebo. Adverse events (AEs) and 24-hour urinary cortisol excretion were assessed.
The intent-to-treat population comprised 147 (FF) and 43 (FP) patients. On Day 28, pre-dose FEV1 showed FF 200 μg OD to be non-inferior (pre-defined limit -110 ml) to FF 100 μg BD (mean treatment difference 11 ml; 95% CI: -35 to +56 ml); all FF and FP regimens were significantly superior to placebo (p ≤ 0.02). AEs were similar to placebo; no serious AEs were reported. Urinary cortisol excretion at Day 28 for FF was lower than placebo (ratios: 200 μg OD, 0.75; 100 μg BD, 0.84; p ≤ 0.02).
FF 200 μg OD in the evening is an efficacious and well tolerated treatment for asthma patients and is not inferior to the same total BD dose.
Asthma; fluticasone furoate; inhaled corticosteroid; once daily; efficacy; safety
Nearly 3 million people in resource-poor countries receive antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, yet millions more require treatment. Key barriers to treatment scale up are shortages of trained health care workers, and challenges integrating HIV/AIDS care with primary care.
PALM PLUS (Practical Approach to Lung Health and HIV/AIDS in Malawi) is an intervention designed to simplify and integrate existing Malawian national guidelines into a single, simple, user-friendly guideline for mid-level health care workers. Training utilizes a peer-to-peer educational outreach approach. Research is being undertaken to evaluate this intervention to generate evidence that will guide future decision-making for consideration of roll out in Malawi. The research consists of a cluster randomized trial in 30 public health centres in Zomba District that measures the effect of the intervention on staff satisfaction and retention, quality of patient care, and costs through quantitative, qualitative and health economics methods.
Results and outcomes
In the first phase of qualitative inquiry respondents from intervention sites demonstrated in-depth knowledge of PALM PLUS compared to those from control sites. Participants in intervention sites felt that the PALM PLUS tool empowered them to provide better health services to patients. Interim staff retention data shows that there were, on average, 3 to 4 staff departing from the control and intervention sites per month. Additional qualitative, quantitative and economic analyses are planned.
Dignitas International and the Knowledge Translation Unit at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute have led the adaptation and development of the PALM PLUS intervention, using experience gained through the implementation of the South African precursor, PALSA PLUS. The Malawian partners, REACH Trust and the Research Unit at the Ministry of Health, have led the qualitative and economic evaluations. Dignitas and Ministry of Health have facilitated interaction with implementers and policy-makers.
Challenges and successes
This initiative is an example of South-South knowledge translation between South Africa and Malawi, mediated by a Canadian academic-NGO hybrid. Our success in developing and rolling out PALM PLUS in Malawi suggests that it is possible to adapt and implement this intervention for use in other resource-limited settings.
Fluticasone furoate (FF) is a novel long-acting inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). This double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized study evaluated the efficacy and safety of FF 200 mcg or 400 mcg once daily, either in the morning or in the evening, and FF 200 mcg twice daily (morning and evening), for 8 weeks in patients with persistent asthma.
Asthma patients maintained on ICS for ≥ 3 months with baseline morning forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) 50-80% of predicted normal value and FEV1 reversibility of ≥ 12% and ≥ 200 ml were eligible. The primary endpoint was mean change from baseline FEV1 at week 8 in pre-dose (morning or evening [depending on regimen], pre-rescue bronchodilator) FEV1.
A total of 545 patients received one of five FF treatment groups and 101 patients received placebo (intent-to-treat population). Each of the five FF treatment groups produced a statistically significant improvement in pre-dose FEV1 compared with placebo (p < 0.05). FF 400 mcg once daily in the evening and FF 200 mcg twice daily produced similar placebo-adjusted improvements in evening pre-dose FEV1 at week 8 (240 ml vs. 235 ml). FF 400 mcg once daily in the morning, although effective, resulted in a smaller improvement in morning pre-dose FEV1 than FF 200 mcg twice daily at week 8 (315 ml vs. 202 ml). The incidence of oral candidiasis was low (0-4%) and UC excretion was comparable with placebo for all FF groups.
FF at total daily doses of 200 mcg or 400 mcg was significantly more effective than placebo. FF 400 mcg once daily in the evening had similar efficacy to FF 200 mcg twice daily and all FF regimens had a safety tolerability profile generally similar to placebo. This indicates that inhaled FF is an effective and well tolerated once-daily treatment for mild-to-moderate asthma.
once-daily; ICS; asthma
Task shifting and the integration of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) care into primary care services have been identified as possible strategies for improving access to antiretroviral treatment (ART). This paper describes the development and content of an intervention involving these two strategies, as part of the Streamlining Tasks and Roles to Expand Treatment and Care for HIV (STRETCH) pragmatic randomised controlled trial.
Methods: Developing the intervention
The intervention was developed following discussions with senior management, clinicians, and clinic staff. These discussions revealed that the establishment of separate antiretroviral treatment services for HIV had resulted in problems in accessing care due to the large number of patients at ART clinics. The intervention developed therefore combined the shifting from doctors to nurses of prescriptions of antiretrovirals (ARVs) for uncomplicated patients and the stepwise integration of HIV care into primary care services.
Results: Components of the intervention
The intervention consisted of regulatory changes, training, and guidelines to support nurse ART prescription, local management teams, an implementation toolkit, and a flexible, phased introduction. Nurse supervisors were equipped to train intervention clinic nurses in ART prescription using outreach education and an integrated primary care guideline. Management teams were set up and a STRETCH coordinator was appointed to oversee the implementation process.
Three important processes were used in developing and implementing this intervention: active participation of clinic staff and local and provincial management, educational outreach to train nurses in intervention sites, and an external facilitator to support all stages of the intervention rollout.
The STRETCH trial is registered with Current Control Trials ISRCTN46836853.
Only about one-third of eligible HIV/AIDS patients receive anti-retroviral treatment (ART). Decentralizing treatment is crucial to wider and more equitable access, but key obstacles are a shortage of trained healthcare workers (HCW) and challenges integrating HIV/AIDS care with other primary care. This report describes the development of a guideline and training program (PALM PLUS) designed to integrate HIV/AIDS care with other primary care in Malawi. PALM PLUS was adapted from PALSA PLUS, developed in South Africa, and targets middle-cadre HCWs (clinical officers, nurses, and medical assistants). We adapted it to align with Malawi's national treatment protocols, more varied healthcare workforce, and weaker health system infrastructure.
The international research team included the developers of the PALSA PLUS program, key Malawi-based team members and personnel from national and district level Ministry of Health (MoH), professional associations, and an international non-governmental organization. The PALSA PLUS guideline was extensively revised based on Malawi national disease-specific guidelines. Advice and input was sought from local clinical experts, including middle-cadre personnel, as well as Malawi MoH personnel and representatives of Malawian professional associations.
An integrated guideline adapted to Malawian protocols for adults with respiratory conditions, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other primary care conditions was developed. The training program was adapted to Malawi's health system and district-level supervision structure. PALM PLUS is currently being piloted in a cluster-randomized trial in health centers in Malawi (ISRCTN47805230).
The PALM PLUS guideline and training intervention targets primary care middle-cadre HCWs with the objective of improving HCW satisfaction and retention, and the quality of patient care. Successful adaptations are feasible, even across health systems as different as those of South Africa and Malawi.
The long-term efficacy and safety of aclidinium bromide, a novel, long-acting muscarinic antagonist, were investigated in patients with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
In two double-blind, 52-week studies, ACCLAIM/COPD I (n = 843) and II (n = 804), patients were randomised to inhaled aclidinium 200 μg or placebo once-daily. Patients were required to have a post-bronchodilator forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1)/forced vital capacity ratio of ≤70% and FEV1 <80% of the predicted value. The primary endpoint was trough FEV1 at 12 and 28 weeks. Secondary endpoints were health status measured by St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) and time to first moderate or severe COPD exacerbation.
At 12 and 28 weeks, aclidinium improved trough FEV1 versus placebo in ACCLAIM/COPD I (by 61 and 67 mL; both p < 0.001) and ACCLAIM/COPD II (by 63 and 59 mL; both p < 0.001). More patients had a SGRQ improvement ≥4 units at 52 weeks with aclidinium versus placebo in ACCLAIM/COPD I (48.1% versus 39.5%; p = 0.025) and ACCLAIM/COPD II (39.0% versus 32.8%; p = 0.074). The time to first exacerbation was significantly delayed by aclidinium in ACCLAIM/COPD II (hazard ratio [HR] 0.7; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.55 to 0.92; p = 0.01), but not ACCLAIM/COPD I (HR 1.0; 95% CI 0.72 to 1.33; p = 0.9). Adverse events were minor in both studies.
Aclidinium is effective and well tolerated in patients with moderate to severe COPD.
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00363896 (ACCLAIM/COPD I) and NCT00358436 (ACCLAIM/COPD II).
Aclidinium bromide; anticholinergic; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; long-acting muscarinic antagonist
Bronchoconstriction has been reported in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients after administration of some aqueous inhalation solutions. We investigated the incidence of this event during long-term clinical trials of tiotropium delivered via Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler (SMI). We retrospectively analyzed pooled data from two identical Phase III clinical trials, in which 1990 patients with COPD received 48 weeks’ treatment with once-daily tiotropium (5 or 10 μg) or placebo inhaled via Respimat® SMI. We recorded the incidence of bronchospasm and of a range of respiratory events that could suggest bronchoconstriction during the first 30 minutes after inhalation of study treatment on each of the eight test days. No patients reported bronchospasm. Six patients (0.3%) reported a combination of at least two events suggestive of bronchoconstriction, and 21 (1.1%) reported either rescue medication use or a respiratory adverse event. Asymptomatic falls in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) of ≥15% were recorded on all test days, with no change in incidence over time, and affected 8.2% of those in the tiotropium groups and 14.5% of those on placebo. In COPD patients receiving long-term treatment with tiotropium 5 or 10 μg via Respimat® SMI, no bronchospasm was recorded, and the number of events possibly indicative of paradoxical bronchoconstriction was very low.
inhalation device; bronchoconstriction; COPD; tiotropium
Objective To investigate whether PALSA PLUS, an on-site educational outreach programme of non-didactic, case based, iterative clinical education of staff, led by a trainer, can increase access to and comprehensiveness of care for patients with HIV/AIDS.
Design Cluster randomised trial.
Setting Public primary care clinics offering HIV/AIDS care, antiretroviral treatment (ART), tuberculosis care, and ambulatory primary care in Free State province, South Africa.
Participants Fifteen clinics all implementing decentralisation and task shifting were randomised. The clinics cared for 400 000 general primary care patients and 10 136 patients in an HIV/AIDS/ART programme. There were 150 nurses.
Intervention On-site outreach education in eight clinics; no such education in seven (control).
Main outcome measures Provision of co-trimoxazole prophylaxis among patients referred to the HIV/AIDS/ART programme, and detection of cases of tuberculosis among those in the programme. Proportion of patients in the programme enrolled through general primary care consultations.
Results Patients referred to the HIV/AIDS programme through general primary care at intervention clinics were more likely than those at control clinics to receive co-trimoxazole prophylaxis (41%, (2253/5523) v 32% (1340/4210); odds ratio 1.95, 95% confidence interval 1.11 to 3.40), and tuberculosis was more likely to be diagnosed among patients with HIV/AIDS/ART (7% (417/5793) v 6% (245/4343); 1.25, 1.01 to 1.55). Enrolment in the HIV/AIDS and ART programme through HIV testing in general primary care was not significantly increased (53% v 50%; 1.19, 0.51 to 2.77). Secondary outcomes were similar, except for weight gain, which was higher in the intervention group (2.3 kg v 1.9 kg, P<0.001).
Conclusion Though outreach education is an effective and feasible strategy for improving comprehensiveness of care and wellbeing of patients with HIV/AIDS, there is no evidence that it increases access to the ART programme. It is now being widely implemented in South Africa.
Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 24820584.
Adjusting medication for uncontrolled asthma involves selecting one of several options from the same or a higher treatment step outlined in asthma guidelines. We examined the relative benefit of introducing budesonide/formoterol (BUD/FORM) maintenance and reliever therapy (Symbicort SMART® Turbuhaler®) in patients previously prescribed treatments from Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Steps 2, 3 or 4.
This is a post hoc analysis of the results of five large clinical trials (>12000 patients) comparing BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy with other treatments categorised by treatment step at study entry. Both current clinical asthma control during the last week of treatment and exacerbations during the study were examined.
At each GINA treatment step, the proportion of patients achieving target levels of current clinical control were similar or higher with BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy compared with the same or a higher fixed maintenance dose of inhaled corticosteroid/long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LABA) (plus short-acting β2-agonist [SABA] as reliever), and rates of exacerbations were lower at all treatment steps in BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy versus same maintenance dose ICS/LABA (P < 0.01) and at treatment Step 4 versus higher maintenance dose ICS/LABA (P < 0.001). BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy also achieved significantly higher rates of current clinical control and significantly lower exacerbation rates at most treatment steps compared with a higher maintenance dose ICS + SABA (Steps 2-4 for control and Steps 3 and 4 for exacerbations). With all treatments, the proportion of patients achieving current clinical control was lower with increasing treatment steps.
BUD/FORM maintenance and reliever therapy may be a preferable option for patients on Steps 2 to 4 of asthma guidelines requiring a more effective treatment and, compared with other fixed dose alternatives, is most effective in the higher treatment steps.
Never smokers comprise a substantial proportion of patients with COPD. Their characteristics and possible risk factors in this population are not yet well defined.
We analyzed data from 14 countries that participated in the international, population-based Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. Participants were aged ≥ 40 years and completed postbronchodilator spirometry testing plus questionnaires about respiratory symptoms, health status, and exposure to COPD risk factors. A diagnosis of COPD was based on the postbronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio, according to current GOLD (Global Initiative for Obstructive Lung Disease) guidelines. In addition to this, the lower limit of normal (LLN) was evaluated as an alternative threshold for the FEV1/FVC ratio.
Among 4,291 never smokers, 6.6% met criteria for mild (GOLD stage I) COPD, and 5.6% met criteria for moderate to very severe (GOLD stage II+) COPD. Although never smokers were less likely to have COPD and had less severe COPD than ever smokers, never smokers nonetheless comprised 23.3% (240/1,031) of those classified with GOLD stage II+ COPD. This proportion was similar, 20.5% (171/832), even when the LLN was used as a threshold for the FEV1/FVC ratio. Predictors of COPD in never smokers include age, education, occupational exposure, childhood respiratory diseases, and BMI alterations.
This multicenter international study confirms previous evidence that never smokers comprise a substantial proportion of individuals with COPD. Our data suggest that, in addition to increased age, a prior diagnosis of asthma and, among women, lower education levels are associated with an increased risk for COPD among never smokers.
In low-income countries, only about a third of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) patients eligible for anti-retroviral treatment currently receive it. Providing decentralized treatment close to where patients live is crucial to a faster scale up, however, a key obstacle is limited health system capacity due to a shortage of trained health-care workers and challenges of integrating HIV/AIDS care with other primary care services (e.g. tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory conditions). This study will test an adapted primary care health care worker training and guideline intervention, Practical Approach to Lung Health and HIV/AIDS Malawi (PALM PLUS), on staff retention and satisfaction, and quality of patient care.
A cluster-randomized trial design is being used to compare usual care with a standardized clinical guideline and training intervention, PALM PLUS. The intervention targets middle-cadre health care workers (nurses, clinical officers, medical assistants) in 30 rural primary care health centres in a single district in Malawi. PALM PLUS is an integrated, symptom-based and user-friendly guideline consistent with Malawian national treatment protocols. Training is standardized and based on an educational outreach approach. Trainers will be front-line peer healthcare workers trained to provide outreach training and support to their fellow front-line healthcare workers during focused (1-2 hours), intermittent, interactive sessions on-site in health centers. Primary outcomes are health care worker retention and satisfaction. Secondary outcomes are clinical outcomes measured at the health centre level for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission of HIV and other primary care conditions. Effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals for outcomes will be presented. Assessment of outcomes will occur at 1 year post- implementation.
The PALM PLUS trial aims to address a key problem: strengthening middle-cadre health care workers to support the broader scale up of HIV/AIDS services and their integration into primary care. The trial will test whether the PALM PLUS intervention improves staff satisfaction and retention, as well as the quality of patient care, when compared to usual practice.
Current controlled Trials: ISRCTN47805230
Two 1-year studies evaluated the long-term efficacy and safety of tiotropium 5 or 10 μg versus placebo, inhaled via the Respimat® Soft Mist™ Inhaler (SMI). The two studies were combined and had 4 co-primary endpoints (trough FEV1 response, Mahler Transition Dyspnea Index [TDI] and St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire scores all at week 48, and COPD exacerbations per patient-year). A total of 1990 patients with COPD participated (mean FEV1: 1.09 L). The mean trough FEV1 response of tiotropium 5 or 10 μg relative to placebo was 127 or 150 mL, respectively (both P < 0.0001). The COPD exacerbation rate was significantly lower with tiotropium 5 μg (RR = 0.78; P = 0.002) and tiotropium 10 μg (RR = 0.73; P = 0.0008); the health-related quality of life and Mahler TDI co-primary endpoints were significantly improved with both doses (both P < 0.0001). Adverse events were generally balanced except anticholinergic class effects, which were more frequent with active treatment. Fatal events occurred in 2.4% (5 μg), 2.7% (10 μg), and 1.6% (placebo) of patients; these differences were not significant. Tiotropium Respimat® SMI 5 μg demonstrated sustained improvements in patients with COPD relative to placebo and similar to the 10 μg dose but with a lower frequency of anticholinergic adverse events.
COPD; exacerbations; FEV1; quality of life; Respimat®; tiotropium
Fish processing is a common economic activity in Southern Africa. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and host determinants of allergic symptoms, allergic sensitization, bronchial hyper-responsiveness and asthma among workers processing saltwater fish.
A cross-sectional study was conducted on 594 currently employed workers in two processing plants involved in pilchard canning and fishmeal processing. A modified European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS) questionnaire was used. Skin prick tests (SPT) used extracts of common airborne allergens, fresh fish (pilchard, anchovy, maasbanker, mackerel, red eye) and fishmeal. Spirometry and methacholine challenge tests (tidal breathing method) used ATS guidelines.
Work-related ocular-nasal symptoms (26%) were more common than asthma symptoms (16%). The prevalence of atopy was 36%, while 7% were sensitized to fish species and 26% had NSBH (PC20 ≤ 8 mg/ml or ≥12% increase in FEV1 post bronchodilator). The prevalence of probable occupational asthma was 1.8% and fish allergic rhino-conjunctivitis 2.6%. Women were more likely to report work-related asthma symptoms (OR=1.94) and have NSBH (OR=3.09), while men were more likely to be sensitized to fish (OR=2.06) and have airway obstruction (OR=4.17). Atopy (OR=3.16) and current smoking (OR=2.37), but not habitual seafood consumption were associated with sensitization to fish.
Based on comparison with previous published studies, the prevalence of occupational asthma to salt water fish is lower than due to shellfish. The gendered distribution of work and exposures in fish processing operations together with atopy and cigarette smoking are important determinants of occupational allergy and asthma.
fish processing; occupational allergy; work-related asthma; atopy; smoking; gender
Current treatment regimens for pulmonary tuberculosis require at least 6 months of therapy. Immune adjuvant therapy with recombinant interferon-γ1b (rIFN-γb) may reduce pulmonary inflammation and reduce the period of infectivity by promoting earlier sputum clearance.
We performed a randomized, controlled clinical trial of directly observed therapy (DOTS) versus DOTS supplemented with nebulized or subcutaneously administered rIFN-γ1b over 4 months to 89 patients with cavitary pulmonary tuberculosis. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and blood were sampled at 0 and 4 months. There was a significant decline in levels of inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10 in 24-hour BAL supernatants only in the nebulized rIFN-γ1b group from baseline to week 16. Both rIFN-γ1b groups showed significant 3-fold increases in CD4+ lymphocyte response to PPD at 4 weeks. There was a significant (p = 0.03) difference in the rate of clearance of Mtb from the sputum smear at 4 weeks for the nebulized rIFN-γ1b adjuvant group compared to DOTS or DOTS with subcutaneous rIFN-γ1b. In addition, there was significant reduction in the prevalence of fever, wheeze, and night sweats at 4 weeks among patients receiving rFN-γ1b versus DOTS alone.
Recombinant interferon-γ1b adjuvant therapy plus DOTS in cavitary pulmonary tuberculosis can reduce inflammatory cytokines at the site of disease, improve clearance of Mtb from the sputum, and improve constitutional symptoms.
Current tools for the diagnosis of tuberculosis pleural effusions are sub-optimal. Data about the value of new diagnostic technologies are limited, particularly, in high burden settings. Preliminary case control studies have identified IFN-γ-inducible-10kDa protein (IP-10) as a promising diagnostic marker; however, its diagnostic utility in a day-to-day clinical setting is unclear. Detection of LAM antigen has not previously been evaluated in pleural fluid.
We investigated the comparative diagnostic utility of established (adenosine deaminase [ADA]), more recent (standardized nucleic-acid-amplification-test [NAAT]) and newer technologies (a standardized LAM mycobacterial antigen-detection assay and IP-10 levels) for the evaluation of pleural effusions in 78 consecutively recruited South African tuberculosis suspects. All consenting participants underwent pleural biopsy unless contra-indicated or refused. The reference standard comprised culture positivity for M. tuberculosis or histology suggestive of tuberculosis.
Of 74 evaluable subjects 48, 7 and 19 had definite, probable and non-TB, respectively. IP-10 levels were significantly higher in TB vs non-TB participants (p<0.0001). The respective outcomes [sensitivity, specificity, PPV, NPV %] for the different diagnostic modalities were: ADA at the 30 IU/L cut-point [96; 69; 90; 85], NAAT [6; 93; 67; 28], IP-10 at the 28,170 pg/ml ROC-derived cut-point [80; 82; 91; 64], and IP-10 at the 4035 pg/ml cut-point [100; 53; 83; 100]. Thus IP-10, using the ROC-derived cut-point, missed ∼20% of TB cases and mis-diagnosed ∼20% of non-TB cases. By contrast, when a lower cut-point was used a negative test excluded TB. The NAAT had a poor sensitivity but high specificity. LAM antigen-detection was not diagnostically useful.
Although IP-10, like ADA, has sub-optimal specificity, it may be a clinically useful rule-out test for tuberculous pleural effusions. Larger multi-centric studies are now required to confirm our findings.
A major barrier to accessing free government-provided antiretroviral treatment (ART) in South Africa is the shortage of suitably skilled health professionals. Current South African guidelines recommend that only doctors should prescribe ART, even though most primary care is provided by nurses. We have developed an effective method of educational outreach to primary care nurses in South Africa. Evidence is needed as to whether primary care nurses, with suitable training and managerial support, can initiate and continue to prescribe and monitor ART in the majority of ART-eligible adults.
This is a protocol for a pragmatic cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a complex intervention based on and supporting nurse-led antiretroviral treatment (ART) for South African patients with HIV/AIDS, compared to current practice in which doctors are responsible for initiating ART and continuing prescribing. We will randomly allocate 31 primary care clinics in the Free State province to nurse-led or doctor-led ART. Two groups of patients aged 16 years and over will be included: a) 7400 registering with the programme with CD4 counts of ≤ 350 cells/mL (mainly to evaluate treatment initiation) and b) 4900 already receiving ART (to evaluate ongoing treatment and monitoring). The primary outcomes will be time to death (in the first group) and viral suppression (in the second group). Patients' survival, viral load and health status indicators will be measured at least 6-monthly for at least one year and up to 2 years, using an existing province-wide clinical database linked to the national death register.
Controlled Clinical Trials ISRCTN46836853