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1.  Should we ‘hug a hoodie’? Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions with young people not in employment, education or training (so-called NEETs) 
Systematic Reviews  2014;3:73.
Whilst the majority of young people succeed in education and make a positive transition to the world of work and adult life, recent statistics identify that youth comprise 40% of the world's unemployed, equating to nearly 75 million individuals. These numbers are associated with both decreased economic activity and adverse well-being, with accompanying social, health and financial costs. As a result, a wide range of providers have implemented interventions targeting this population; however, their relative effectiveness is unknown. This is exacerbated by a diverse literature base, the delivery of provision and policy across multiple sectors and disparate approaches to programme evaluation.
Methods and design
We will undertake a systematic review of interventions targeting youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) populations. Only randomised and non-randomised controlled trials will be included. The objectives of the review will be to: (i) systematically review, synthesise and quality appraise experimental evidence on the effects of interventions with NEET young people, (ii) estimate effects on current NEET status, well-being and other relevant psychological and behavioural outcomes, (iii) investigate potential variation in intervention effects among sub-groups stratified by pre-trial duration of current status, socioeconomic status, gender, sub-classifications of NEET individuals and intervention components (e.g. type, frequency, duration, provider and setting) and (iv) assess the robustness of results in separate sensitivity analyses that exclude studies with higher risk of bias (e.g. in terms of study quality) or follow-up length. A rigorous literature search of English language publications post-1990 will be conducted using the following electronic databases: Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, ERIC, EPPI-Centre (Bibliomap), Social Science Citation Index, British Education Index, Conference Proceedings Index, Dissertation Abstracts, Popline and grey literature collections (e.g. GLADNET). These database searches will be supplemented with hand searching, requests for unpublished literature and website searches.
A report and executive summary will be developed by the research team with input from consultant stakeholders to aid translation of the findings into practice. The research will be disseminated at national and international conferences and submitted for peer-reviewed publication.
Systematic review registration
PROSPERO CRD42014007535
PMCID: PMC4108962  PMID: 24998457
Unemployment; Effectiveness; Education; Engagement; Well-being
2.  John Snow’s legacy: epidemiology without borders 
Lancet  2013;381(9874):1302-1311.
This Review provides abstracts from a meeting held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, on April 11–12, 2013, to celebrate the legacy of John Snow. They describe conventional and unconventional applications of epidemiological methods to problems ranging from diarrhoeal disease, mental health, cancer, and accident care, to education, poverty, financial networks, crime, and violence. Common themes appear throughout, including recognition of the importance of Snow’s example, the philosophical and practical implications of assessment of causality, and an emphasis on the evaluation of preventive, ameliorative, and curative interventions, in a wide variety of medical and societal examples. Almost all self-described epidemiologists nowadays work within the health arena, and this is the focus of most of the societies, journals, and courses that carry the name epidemiology. The range of applications evident in these contributions might encourage some of these institutions to consider broadening their remits. In so doing, they may contribute more directly to, and learn from, non-health-related areas that use the language and methods of epidemiology to address many important problems now facing the world.
PMCID: PMC3730273  PMID: 23582396
3.  Study protocol: A cluster randomised controlled trial of implementation intentions to reduce smoking initiation in adolescents 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:54.
The current literature suggests that forming implementation intentions (simple ‘if-then’ plans) about how to refuse the offer of a cigarette may be an effective intervention to reduce smoking initiation in adolescents. This study is a pragmatic trial to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of such an intervention in reducing smoking initiation in a sample of UK adolescents.
A cluster randomised controlled trial with at least 36 schools randomised to receive an implementation intention intervention targeting reducing smoking initiation (intervention group) or increasing homework (control group). Interventions will be conducted at the classroom level and be repeated every six months for four years (eight interventions). Objectively assessed (carbon monoxide monitor) and self-reported smoking plus smoking related cognitions (e.g., smoking intentions, attitudes, norms and self-efficacy) will be assessed at baseline and 12, 24, 36 and 48 months post baseline. Objectively assessed smoking at 48 months post baseline will be the primary outcome variable. Health economic analyses will assess life years gained.
The results of the trial will provide information on the impact of a repeated implementation intention for refusing offers of cigarettes on rates of smoking initiation in adolescents.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3623649  PMID: 23332020
4.  Teaching meta-analysis using MetaLight 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:571.
Meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of primary studies. It is often used in systematic reviews and is increasingly a method and topic that appears in student dissertations. MetaLight is a freely available software application that runs simple meta-analyses and contains specific functionality to facilitate the teaching and learning of meta-analysis. While there are many courses and resources for meta-analysis available and numerous software applications to run meta-analyses, there are few pieces of software which are aimed specifically at helping those teaching and learning meta-analysis. Valuable teaching time can be spent learning the mechanics of a new software application, rather than on the principles and practices of meta-analysis.
We discuss ways in which the MetaLight tool can be used to present some of the main issues involved in undertaking and interpreting a meta-analysis.
While there are many software tools available for conducting meta-analysis, in the context of a teaching programme such software can require expenditure both in terms of money and in terms of the time it takes to learn how to use it. MetaLight was developed specifically as a tool to facilitate the teaching and learning of meta-analysis and we have presented here some of the ways it might be used in a training situation.
PMCID: PMC3532381  PMID: 23078762
Meta-analysis; Research synthesis; Systematic review; Teaching; Teaching resource; Software
5.  A randomised controlled feasibility trial for an educational school-based mental health intervention: study protocol 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:23.
With the burden of mental illness estimated to be costing the English economy alone around £22.5 billion a year [1], coupled with growing evidence that many mental disorders have their origins in adolescence, there is increasing pressure for schools to address the emotional well-being of their students, alongside the stigma and discrimination of mental illness. A number of prior educational interventions have been developed and evaluated for this purpose, but inconsistency of findings, reporting standards, and methodologies have led the majority of reviewers to conclude that the evidence for the efficacy of these programmes remains inconclusive.
A cluster randomised controlled trial design has been employed to enable a feasibility study of 'SchoolSpace', an intervention in 7 UK secondary schools addressing stigma of mental illness, mental health literacy, and promotion of mental health. A central aspect of the intervention involves students in the experimental condition interacting with a young person with lived experience of mental illness, a stigma reducing technique designed to facilitate students' engagement in the project. The primary outcome is the level of stigma related to mental illness. Secondary outcomes include mental health literacy, resilience to mental illness, and emotional well-being. Outcomes will be measured pre and post intervention, as well as at 6 month follow-up.
The proposed intervention presents the potential for increased engagement due to its combination of education and contact with a young person with lived experience of mental illness. Contact as a technique to reduce discrimination has been evaluated previously in research with adults, but has been employed in only a minority of research trials investigating the impact on youth. Prior to this study, the effect of contact on mental health literacy, resilience, and emotional well-being has not been evaluated to the authors' knowledge. If efficacious the intervention could provide a reliable and cost-effective method to reduce stigma in young people, whilst increasing mental health literacy, and emotional well-being.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3364875  PMID: 22439814
Adolescence; Mental health; Stigma; Contact; School; Intervention
6.  The translation research in a dental setting (TRiaDS) programme protocol 
It is well documented that the translation of knowledge into clinical practice is a slow and haphazard process. This is no less true for dental healthcare than other types of healthcare. One common policy strategy to help promote knowledge translation is the production of clinical guidance, but it has been demonstrated that the simple publication of guidance is unlikely to optimise practice. Additional knowledge translation interventions have been shown to be effective, but effectiveness varies and much of this variation is unexplained. The need for researchers to move beyond single studies to develop a generalisable, theory based, knowledge translation framework has been identified.
For dentistry in Scotland, the production of clinical guidance is the responsibility of the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP). TRiaDS (Translation Research in a Dental Setting) is a multidisciplinary research collaboration, embedded within the SDCEP guidance development process, which aims to establish a practical evaluative framework for the translation of guidance and to conduct and evaluate a programme of integrated, multi-disciplinary research to enhance the science of knowledge translation.
Set in General Dental Practice the TRiaDS programmatic evaluation employs a standardised process using optimal methods and theory. For each SDCEP guidance document a diagnostic analysis is undertaken alongside the guidance development process. Information is gathered about current dental care activities. Key recommendations and their required behaviours are identified and prioritised. Stakeholder questionnaires and interviews are used to identify and elicit salient beliefs regarding potential barriers and enablers towards the key recommendations and behaviours. Where possible routinely collected data are used to measure compliance with the guidance and to inform decisions about whether a knowledge translation intervention is required. Interventions are theory based and informed by evidence gathered during the diagnostic phase and by prior published evidence. They are evaluated using a range of experimental and quasi-experimental study designs, and data collection continues beyond the end of the intervention to investigate the sustainability of an intervention effect.
The TRiaDS programmatic approach is a significant step forward towards the development of a practical, generalisable framework for knowledge translation research. The multidisciplinary composition of the TRiaDS team enables consideration of the individual, organisational and system determinants of professional behaviour change. In addition the embedding of TRiaDS within a national programme of guidance development offers a unique opportunity to inform and influence the guidance development process, and enables TRiaDS to inform dental services practitioners, policy makers and patients on how best to translate national recommendations into routine clinical activities.
PMCID: PMC2920875  PMID: 20646275
7.  A systematic meta-analytic review of evidence for the effectiveness of the ‘Fast ForWord’ language intervention program 
Fast ForWord is a suite of computer-based language intervention programs designed to improve children's reading and oral language skills. The programs are based on the hypothesis that oral language difficulties often arise from a rapid auditory temporal processing deficit that compromises the development of phonological representations.
A systematic review was designed, undertaken and reported using items from the PRISMA statement. A literature search was conducted using the terms ‘Fast ForWord’ ‘Fast For Word’ ‘Fastforword’ with no restriction on dates of publication. Following screening of (a) titles and abstracts and (b) full papers, using pre-established inclusion and exclusion criteria, six papers were identified as meeting the criteria for inclusion (randomised controlled trial (RCT) or matched group comparison studies with baseline equivalence published in refereed journals). Data extraction and analyses were carried out on reading and language outcome measures comparing the Fast ForWord intervention groups to both active and untreated control groups.
Meta-analyses indicated that there was no significant effect of Fast ForWord on any outcome measure in comparison to active or untreated control groups.
There is no evidence from the analysis carried out that Fast ForWord is effective as a treatment for children's oral language or reading difficulties.
PMCID: PMC3061204  PMID: 20950285
Language impairment; reading difficulties; auditory processing; Fast ForWord

Results 1-7 (7)