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1.  Factors Associated with Tick Bite Preventive Practices among Farmworkers in Malaysia 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(6):e0157987.
Farmworkers are at high-risk for tick bites, which potentially transmit various tick-borne diseases. Previous studies show that personal prevention against tick bites is key, and certain factors namely, knowledge, experience of tick bites, and health beliefs influence compliance with tick bites preventive behaviour. This study aimed to assess these factors and their associations with tick bite preventive practices among Malaysian farmworkers.
A total of eight cattle, goat and sheep farms in six states in Peninsular Malaysia participated in a cross-sectional survey between August and October 2013
A total of 151 (72.2%) out of 209 farmworkers answered the questionnaire. More than half of the farmworkers (n = 91) reported an experience of tick bites. Farms with monthly acaricide treatment had significantly (P<0.05) a low report of tick bites. Tick bite exposure rates did not differ significantly among field workers and administrative workers. The mean total knowledge score of ticks for the overall farmworkers was 13.6 (SD±3.2) from 20. The mean total tick bite preventive practices score for all farmworkers was 8.3 (SD±3.1) from 15. Fixed effect model showed the effects of four factors on tick bite prevention: (1) farms, (2) job categories (administrative workers vs. field workers), (3) perceived severity of tick bites, and (4) perceived barriers to tick bite prevention.
A high proportion of farmworkers, including administrative workers, reported an experience of tick bites. The effectiveness of monthly acaricide treatment was declared by low reports of tick bites on these farms. Tick bite preventive practices were insufficient, particularly in certain farms and for administrative workers. Our findings emphasise the need to have education programmes for all farmworkers and targeting farms with low prevention practices. Education and health programmes should increase the perception of the risk of tick bites and remove perceived barriers of tick bite prevention.
PMCID: PMC4920353  PMID: 27341678
2.  Elder mistreatment in a community dwelling population: the Malaysian Elder Mistreatment Project (MAESTRO) cohort study protocol 
BMJ Open  2016;6(5):e011057.
Despite being now recognised as a global health concern, there is still an inadequate amount of research into elder mistreatment, especially in low and middle-income regions. The purpose of this paper is to report on the design and methodology of a population-based cohort study on elder mistreatment among the older Malaysian population. The study aims at gathering data and evidence to estimate the prevalence and incidence of elder mistreatment, identify its individual, familial and social determinants, and quantify its health consequences.
Methods and analysis
This is a community-based prospective cohort study using randomly selected households from the national census. A multistage sampling method was employed to obtain a total of 2496 older adults living in the rural Kuala Pilah district. The study is divided into two phases: cross-sectional study (baseline), and a longitudinal follow-up study at the third and fifth years. Elder mistreatment was measured using instrument derived from the previous literature and modified Conflict Tactic Scales. Outcomes of elder mistreatment include mortality, physical function, mental health, quality of life and health utilisation. Logistic regression models are used to examine the relationship between risk factors and abuse estimates. Cox proportional hazard regression will be used to estimate risk of mortality associated with abuse. Associated annual rate of hospitalisation and health visit frequency, and reporting of abuse, will be estimated using Poisson regression.
Ethics and dissemination
The study has been approved by the Medical Ethics Committee of the University of Malaya Medical Center (MEC Ref 902.2) and the Malaysian National Medical Research Register (NMRR-12-1444-11726). Written consent was obtained from all respondents prior to baseline assessment and subsequent follow-up. Findings will be disseminated to local stakeholders via forums with community leaders, and health and social welfare departments, and published in appropriate scientific journals and presented at conferences.
PMCID: PMC4885447  PMID: 27225651
elder abuse; elder neglect; elder mistreatment; longitudinal study; cohort
3.  HIV/AIDS Related Stigma and Discrimination against PLWHA in Nigerian Population 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0143749.
HIV/AIDS remain a major public health concern in Nigeria. People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) face not only personal medical problems but also social problems associated with the disease such as stigma and discriminatory attitudes. This study provides an insight into HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination against PLWHA in Nigeria.
The data for this study was extracted from the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey conducted by the National Population Commission. All men and women aged 15–49 years, permanent residents and visitors of the households were eligible for the interview. Several questionnaires were used in the survey, some covering questions on HIV/AIDS.
A total of 56 307 men and women aged 15–49 years participated in this national survey. About half of the population in Nigeria have HIV stigma. Younger persons, men, those without formal education and those within poor wealth index are more likely to have stigma towards PLWHA. In addition, married people are more likely to have stigma on PLWHA and are more likely to blame PLWHA for bringing the disease to the community. Also about half of the population discriminates against PLWHA. However, those with higher levels of education and those from higher wealth index seem to be more compassionate towards PLWHA. About 70% in the population are willing to care for relative with AIDS, even more so among those with higher level of education.
There is a high level of HIV stigma and discrimination against PLWHA in the Nigerian population. Education seems to play a major role in the society with respect to HIV stigma and discrimination against PLWHA. Educating the population with factual information on HIV/AIDS is needed to reduce stigma and discrimination towards PLWHA in the community.
PMCID: PMC4675522  PMID: 26658767
4.  Determinants and Effects of Voice Disorders among Secondary School Teachers in Peninsular Malaysia Using a Validated Malay Version of VHI-10 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(11):e0141963.
To establish the prevalence of voice disorder using the Malay-Voice Handicap Index 10 (Malay-VHI-10) and to study the determinants, quality of life, depression, anxiety and stress associated with voice disorder among secondary school teachers in Peninsular Malaysia.
This study was divided into two phases. Phase I tested the reliability of the Malay-VHI-10 while Phase II was a cross-sectional study with two-stage sampling. In Phase II, a self-administered questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic and teaching characteristics, depression, anxiety and stress scale (Malay version of DASS-21); and health-related quality of life (Malay version of SF12-v2). Complex sample analysis was conducted using multivariate Poisson regression with robust variance.
In Phase I, the Spearman correlation coefficient and Cronbach alpha for total VHI-10 score was 0.72 (p < 0.001) and 0.77 respectively; showing good correlation and internal consistency. The ICCs ranged from 0.65 to 0.78 showing fair to good reliability and demonstrating the subscales to be reliable and stable. A total of 6039 teachers participated in Phase II. They were primarily Malays, females, married, had completed tertiary education and aged between 30 to 50 years. A total of 10.4% (95% CI 7.1, 14.9) of the teachers had voice disorder (VHI-10 score > 11). Compared to Malays, a greater proportion of ethnic Chinese teachers reported voice disorder while ethnic Indian teachers were less likely to report this problem. There was a higher prevalence ratio (PR) of voice disorder among single or divorced/widowed teachers. Teachers with voice disorder were more likely to report higher rates of absenteeism (PR: 1.70, 95% CI 1.33, 2.19), lower quality of life with lower SF12-v2 physical (0.98, 95% CI 0.96, 0.99) and mental (0.97, 95% CI 0.96, 0.98) component summary scales; and higher anxiety levels (1.04, 95% CI 1.02, 1.06).
The Malay-VHI-10 is valid and reliable. Voice disorder was associated with increased absenteeism, marginally associated with reduced health-related quality of life as well as increased anxiety among teachers.
PMCID: PMC4634998  PMID: 26540291
5.  Prediction of Cardiovascular Disease Risk among Low-Income Urban Dwellers in Metropolitan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:516984.
We aimed to predict the ten-year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among low-income urban dwellers of metropolitan Malaysia. Participants were selected from a cross-sectional survey conducted in Kuala Lumpur. To assess the 10-year CVD risk, we employed the Framingham risk scoring (FRS) models. Significant determinants of the ten-year CVD risk were identified using General Linear Model (GLM). Altogether 882 adults (≥30 years old with no CVD history) were randomly selected. The classic FRS model (figures in parentheses are from the modified model) revealed that 20.5% (21.8%) and 38.46% (38.9%) of respondents were at high and moderate risk of CVD. The GLM models identified the importance of education, occupation, and marital status in predicting the future CVD risk. Our study indicated that one out of five low-income urban dwellers has high chance of having CVD within ten years. Health care expenditure, other illness related costs and loss of productivity due to CVD would worsen the current situation of low-income urban population. As such, the public health professionals and policy makers should establish substantial effort to formulate the public health policy and community-based intervention to minimize the upcoming possible high mortality and morbidity due to CVD among the low-income urban dwellers.
PMCID: PMC4363497  PMID: 25821810
6.  MultiComponent Exercise and theRApeutic lifeStyle (CERgAS) intervention to improve physical performance and maintain independent living among urban poor older people - a cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Geriatrics  2015;15:8.
The ability of older people to function independently is crucial as physical disability and functional limitation have profound impacts on health. Interventions that either delay the onset of frailty or attenuate its severity potentially have cascading benefits for older people, their families and society. This study aims to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a multiComponent Exercise and theRApeutic lifeStyle (CERgAS) intervention program targeted at improving physical performance and maintaining independent living as compared to general health education among older people in an urban poor setting in Malaysia.
This cluster randomised controlled trial will be a 6-week community-based intervention programme for older people aged 60 years and above from urban poor settings. A minimum of 164 eligible participants will be recruited from 8 clusters (low-cost public subsidised flats) and randomised to the intervention and control arm. This study will be underpinned by the Health Belief Model with an emphasis towards self-efficacy. The intervention will comprise multicomponent group exercise sessions, nutrition education, oral care education and on-going support and counselling. These will be complemented with a kit containing practical tips on exercise, nutrition and oral care after each session. Data will be collected over four time points; at baseline, immediately post-intervention, 3-months and 6-months follow-up.
Findings from this trial will potentially provide valuable evidence to improve physical function and maintain independence among older people from low-resource settings. This will inform health policies and identify locally acceptable strategies to promote healthy aging, prevent and delay functional decline among older Malaysian adults.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC4334409  PMID: 25887235
Elderly; Exercise; Physical function; Frailty; Randomised controlled trial; Lifestyle
7.  Coffee and tea consumption and risk of pre- and postmenopausal breast cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort study 
Specific coffee subtypes and tea may impact risk of pre- and post-menopausal breast cancer differently. We investigated the association between coffee (total, caffeinated, decaffeinated) and tea intake and risk of breast cancer.
A total of 335,060 women participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Nutrition and Cancer (EPIC) Study, completed a dietary questionnaire from 1992 to 2000, and were followed-up until 2010 for incidence of breast cancer. Hazard ratios (HR) of breast cancer by country-specific, as well as cohort-wide categories of beverage intake were estimated.
During an average follow-up of 11 years, 1064 premenopausal, and 9134 postmenopausal breast cancers were diagnosed. Caffeinated coffee intake was associated with lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer: adjusted HR = 0.90, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.82 to 0.98, for high versus low consumption; Ptrend = 0.029. While there was no significant effect modification by hormone receptor status (P = 0.711), linear trend for lower risk of breast cancer with increasing caffeinated coffee intake was clearest for estrogen and progesterone receptor negative (ER-PR-), postmenopausal breast cancer (P = 0.008). For every 100 ml increase in caffeinated coffee intake, the risk of ER-PR- breast cancer was lower by 4% (adjusted HR: 0.96, 95% CI: 0.93 to 1.00). Non-consumers of decaffeinated coffee had lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (adjusted HR = 0.89; 95% CI: 0.80 to 0.99) compared to low consumers, without evidence of dose–response relationship (Ptrend = 0.128). Exclusive decaffeinated coffee consumption was not related to postmenopausal breast cancer risk, compared to any decaffeinated-low caffeinated intake (adjusted HR = 0.97; 95% CI: 0.82 to 1.14), or to no intake of any coffee (HR: 0.96; 95%: 0.82 to 1.14). Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee were not associated with premenopausal breast cancer. Tea intake was neither associated with pre- nor post-menopausal breast cancer.
Higher caffeinated coffee intake may be associated with lower risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Decaffeinated coffee intake does not seem to be associated with breast cancer.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13058-015-0521-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4349221  PMID: 25637171
8.  Prevalence and determinants of cardiovascular disease risk factors among the residents of urban community housing projects in Malaysia 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(Suppl 3):S3.
The objectives are to assess the prevalence and determinants of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors among the residents of Community Housing Projects in metropolitan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
By using simple random sampling, we selected and surveyed 833 households which comprised of 3,722 individuals. Out of the 2,360 adults, 50.5% participated in blood sampling and anthropometric measurement sessions. Uni and bivariate data analysis and multivariate binary logistic regression were applied to identify demographic and socioeconomic determinants of the existence of having at least one CVD risk factor.
As a Result, while obesity (54.8%), hypercholesterolemia (51.5%), and hypertension (39.3%) were the most common CVD risk factors among the low-income respondents, smoking (16.3%), diabetes mellitus (7.8%) and alcohol consumption (1.4%) were the least prevalent. Finally, the results from the multivariate binary logistic model illustrated that compared to the Malays, the Indians were 41% less likely to have at least one of the CVD risk factors (OR = 0.59; 95% CI: 0.37 - 0.93).
In Conclusion, the low-income individuals were at higher risk of developing CVDs. Prospective policies addressing preventive actions and increased awareness focusing on low-income communities are highly recommended and to consider age, gender, ethnic backgrounds, and occupation classes.
PMCID: PMC4251129  PMID: 25436515
Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors; Prevalence; Determinants; Socioeconomic Status; Low Income, Malaysia
9.  The effectiveness of a life style modification and peer support home blood pressure monitoring in control of hypertension: protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(Suppl 3):S4.
Death rates due to hypertension in low and middle income countries are higher compared to high income countries. The present study is designed to combine life style modification and home blood pressure monitoring for control of hypertension in the context of low and middle income countries.
The study is a two armed, parallel group, un-blinded, cluster randomized controlled trial undertaken within lower income areas in Kuala Lumpur. Two housing complexes will be assigned to the intervention group and the other two housing complexes will be allocated in the control group. Based on power analysis, 320 participants will be recruited. The participants in the intervention group (n = 160) will undergo three main components in the intervention which are the peer support for home blood pressure monitoring, face to face health coaching on healthy diet and demonstration and training for indoor home based exercise activities while the control group will receive a pamphlet containing information on hypertension. The primary outcomes are systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Secondary outcome measures include practice of self-blood pressure monitoring, dietary intake, level of physical activity and physical fitness.
The present study will evaluate the effect of lifestyle modification and peer support home blood pressure monitoring on blood pressure control, during a 6 month intervention period. Moreover, the study aims to assess whether these effects can be sustainable more than six months after the intervention has ended.
PMCID: PMC4251131  PMID: 25436830
Lifestyle modification; self-blood pressure monitoring; hypertension; cluster randomized controlled trial; Malaysia
10.  A Cross Sectional Study on Hand-arm Vibration Syndrome among a Group of Tree Fellers in a Tropical Environment 
Industrial Health  2014;52(4):367-376.
This study aimed to explore the clinical characteristics of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) in a group of tree fellers in a tropical environment. We examined all tree fellers and selected control subjects in a logging camp of central Sarawak for vibration exposure and presence of HAVS symptoms utilizing vibrotactile perception threshold test (VPT) and cold water provocation test (CWP). None of the subjects reported white finger. The tree fellers reported significantly higher prevalence of finger coldness as compared to the control subjects (OR=10.32, 95%CI=1.21–87.94). A lower finger skin temperature, longer fingernail capillary return time and higher VPT were observed among the tree fellers as compared to the control subjects in all fingers (effect size >0.5). The VPT following CWP of the tree fellers was significantly higher (repeated measures ANOVA p=0.002, partial η2=0.196) than the control subject. The A (8) level was associated with finger tingling, numbness and dullness (effect size=0.983) and finger coldness (effect size=0.524) among the tree fellers. Finger coldness and finger tingling, numbness and dullness are important symptoms for HAVS in tropical environment that may indicate vascular and neurological damage due to hand-transmitted vibration exposure.
PMCID: PMC4243022  PMID: 24739764
HAVS; Hand-transmitted vibration; Warm environment; Forestry; Cold provocation test
11.  Cohort study on clustering of lifestyle risk factors and understanding its association with stress on health and wellbeing among school teachers in Malaysia (CLUSTer) – a study protocol 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:611.
The study on Clustering of Lifestyle risk factors and Understanding its association with Stress on health and wellbeing among school Teachers in Malaysia (CLUSTer) is a prospective cohort study which aims to extensively study teachers in Malaysia with respect to clustering of lifestyle risk factors and stress, and subsequently, to follow-up the population for important health outcomes.
This study is being conducted in six states within Peninsular Malaysia. From each state, schools from each district are randomly selected and invited to participate in the study. Once the schools agree to participate, all teachers who fulfilled the inclusion criteria are invited to participate. Data collection includes a questionnaire survey and health assessment. Information collected in the questionnaire includes socio-demographic characteristics, participants’ medical history and family history of chronic diseases, teaching characteristics and burden, questions on smoking, alcohol consumption and physical activities (IPAQ); a food frequency questionnaire, the job content questionnaire (JCQ); depression, anxiety and stress scale (DASS21); health related quality of life (SF12-V2); Voice Handicap Index 10 on voice disorder, questions on chronic pain, sleep duration and obstetric history for female participants. Following blood drawn for predefined clinical tests, additional blood and urine specimens are collected and stored for future analysis. Active follow up of exposure and health outcomes will be carried out every two years via telephone or face to face contact. Data collection started in March 2013 and as of the end of March 2014 has been completed for four states: Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Melaka and Penang. Approximately 6580 participants have been recruited. The first round of data collection and blood sampling is expected to be completed by the end of 2014 with an expected 10,000 participants recruited.
Our study will provide a good basis for exploring the clustering of lifestyle risk factors and stress and its association with major chronic medical conditions such as obesity, hypertension, impaired glucose tolerance, diabetes mellitus, coronary heart diseases, kidney failure and cancers among teachers.
PMCID: PMC4081548  PMID: 24938383
Teachers; Cohort study; Work related stress; Clustering of lifestyle risk factors
12.  Predictors of Death during Tuberculosis Treatment in TB/HIV Co-Infected Patients in Malaysia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73250.
Mortality among TB/HIV co-infected patients is still high particularly in developing countries. This study aimed to determine the predictors of death in TB/HIV co-infected patients during TB treatment.
We reviewed medical records at the time of TB diagnosis and subsequent follow-up of all newly registered TB patients with HIV co-infection at TB clinics in the Institute of Respiratory Medicine and three public hospitals in the Klang Valley between January 2010 and September 2010. We reviewed these medical records again twelve months after their initial diagnosis to determine treatment outcomes and survival. We analysed using Kaplan-Meier and conducted multivariate Cox proportional hazards analysis to identify predictors of death during TB treatment in TB/HIV co-infected patients.
Of the 227 patients studied, 53 (23.3%) had died at the end of the study with 40% of deaths within two months of TB diagnosis. Survival at 2, 6 and 12 months after initiating TB treatment were 90.7%, 82.8% and 78.8% respectively. After adjusting for other factors, death in TB/HIV co-infected patients was associated with being Malay (aHR 4.48; 95%CI 1.73-11.64), CD4 T-lymphocytes count < 200 cells/µl (aHR 3.89; 95% CI 1.20-12.63), three or more opportunistic infections (aHR 3.61; 95% CI 1.04-12.55), not receiving antiretroviral therapy (aHR 3.21; 95% CI 1.76-5.85) and increase per 103 total white blood cell count per microliter (aHR 1.12; 95% CI 1.05-1.20)
TB/HIV co-infected patients had a high case fatality rate during TB treatment. Initiation of antiretroviral therapy in these patients can improve survival by restoring immune function and preventing opportunistic infections.
PMCID: PMC3741191  PMID: 23951346
13.  A Systematic Review of Statistical Methods Used to Test for Reliability of Medical Instruments Measuring Continuous Variables 
Objective(s): Reliability measures precision or the extent to which test results can be replicated. This is the first ever systematic review to identify statistical methods used to measure reliability of equipment measuring continuous variables. This studyalso aims to highlight the inappropriate statistical method used in the reliability analysis and its implication in the medical practice.
Materials and Methods: In 2010, five electronic databases were searched between 2007 and 2009 to look for reliability studies. A total of 5,795 titles were initially identified. Only 282 titles were potentially related, and finally 42 fitted the inclusion criteria.
Results: The Intra-class Correlation Coefficient (ICC) is the most popular method with 25 (60%) studies having used this method followed by the comparing means (8 or 19%). Out of 25 studies using the ICC, only 7 (28%) reported the confidence intervals and types of ICC used. Most studies (71%) also tested the agreement of instruments.
Conclusion: This study finds that the Intra-class Correlation Coefficient is the most popular method used to assess the reliability of medical instruments measuring continuous outcomes. There are also inappropriate applications and interpretations of statistical methods in some studies. It is important for medical researchers to be aware of this issue, and be able to correctly perform analysis in reliability studies.
PMCID: PMC3758037  PMID: 23997908
ICC; Intra-class correlation coefficient; Reliability; Statistical method; Validation study
14.  Towards an effective control programme of soil-transmitted helminth infections among Orang Asli in rural Malaysia. Part 1: Prevalence and associated key factors 
Parasites & Vectors  2013;6:27.
Despite the continuous efforts to improve the quality of life of Orang Asli (Aborigines) communities, these communities are still plagued with a wide range of health problems including parasitic infections. The first part of this study aimed at determining the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections and identifying their associated factors among rural Orang Asli children.
A cross-sectional study was carried out among 484 Orang Asli children aged ≤ 15 years (235 females and 249 males) belonging to 215 households from 13 villages in Lipis district, Pahang, Malaysia. Faecal samples were collected and examined by using formalin-ether sedimentation, Kato Katz and Harada Mori techniques. Demographic, socioeconomic, environmental and behavioural information were collected by using a pre-tested questionnaire.
Overall, 78.1% of the children were found to be infected with one or more STH species. The prevalence of trichuriasis, ascariasis and hookworm infections were 71.7%, 37.4% and 17.6%, respectively. Almost all, three quarters and one fifth of trichuriasis, ascariasis and hookworm infections, respectively, were of moderate-to-heavy intensities. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that age of ≥ 6 years (school-age), using unsafe water supply as a source for drinking water, absence of a toilet in the house, large family size (≥ 7 members), not washing hands before eating, and not washing hands after defecation were the key factors significantly associated with STH among these children.
This study reveals an alarmingly high prevalence of STH among Orang Asli children and clearly brings out an urgent need to implement school-based de-worming programmes and other control measures like providing a proper sanitation, as well as a treated drinking water supply and proper health education regarding good personal hygiene practices. Such an integrated control program will help significantly in reducing the prevalence and intensity of STH in Orang Asli communities.
PMCID: PMC3564908  PMID: 23356952
Soil-transmitted helminths; Ascaris; Trichuris; Hookworm; Orang Asli; Malaysia
15.  Towards an effective control programme of soil-transmitted helminth infections among Orang Asli in rural Malaysia. Part 2: Knowledge, attitude, and practices 
Parasites & Vectors  2013;6:28.
In the first part of this study, we investigated the prevalence and associated key factors of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections among Orang Asli children in rural Malaysia; an alarming high prevalence and five key factors significantly associated with infections were reported. Part 2 of this study aims to evaluate the knowledge, attitude and practices (KAP) on STH infections among Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia.
A cross-sectional study was carried out among 215 households from 13 villages in Lipis district, Pahang, Malaysia. Demographic and socioeconomic information of the participants and their KAP on STH were collected by using a pre-tested questionnaire.
Overall, 61.4% of the participants had prior knowledge about intestinal helminths with a lack of knowledge on the transmission (28.8%), signs and symptoms (29.3%) as well as the prevention (16.3%). Half of the respondents considered STH as harmful, while their practices to prevent infections were still inadequate. Significant associations between the KAP and age, gender, educational and employment status, family size, and household monthly income were reported. Moreover, significantly lower prevalence of STH infections was reported among children of respondents who wear shoes/slippers when outside the house (72.8%; 95% CI= 62.6, 80.5 vs 87.0%; 95% CI= 81.4, 91.1), wash their hands before eating (32.4%; 95% CI= 24.3, 42.2 vs 51.4%; 95% CI= 44.7, 60.1), and wash their hands after defecation (47.8%; 95% CI= 35.7, 57.1 vs 69.2%; 95% CI= 63.7, 78.7) as compared to their counterparts. Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that the educational level of the respondents was the most important factor significantly associated with the KAP on STH among this population.
This study reveals inadequate knowledge, attitude and practices on STH infections among Orang Asli in rural Malaysia. Hence, there is a great need for a proper health education programme and community mobilisation to enhance prevention and instil better knowledge on STH transmission and prevention. This is crucial for an effective and sustainable STH control programme to save the lives and future of the most vulnerable children in rural Malaysia.
PMCID: PMC3571980  PMID: 23356968
Knowledge; Attitude; Practice; Soil-transmitted helminths; Malaysia
16.  From west to east; experience with adapting a curriculum in evidence-based medicine 
Perspectives on Medical Education  2012;1(5-6):249-261.
Clinical epidemiology (CE) and evidence-based medicine (EBM) have become an important part of medical school curricula. This report describes the implementation and some preliminary outcomes of an integrated CE and EBM module in the Faculty of Medicine Universitas Indonesia (UI), Jakarta and in the University of Malaya (UM) in Kuala Lumpur. A CE and EBM module, originally developed at the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU), was adapted for implementation in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Before the start of the module, UI and UM staff followed a training of teachers (TOT). Student competencies were assessed through pre and post multiple-choice knowledge tests, an oral and written structured evidence summary (evidence-based case report, EBCR) as well as a written exam. All students also filled in a module evaluation questionnaire. The TOT was well received by staff in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and after adaptation the CE and EBM modules were integrated in both medical schools. The pre-test results of UI and UM were significantly lower than those of UMCU students (p < 0.001). The post test results of UMCU students were comparable (p = 0.48) with UI, but significantly different (p < 0.001) from UM. Common problems for the modules in both UI and UM were limited access to literature and variability of the tutors’ skills. Adoption and integration of an existing Western CE-EBM teaching module into Asian medical curricula is feasible while learning outcomes obtained are quite similar.
PMCID: PMC3518799  PMID: 23240103
Curriculum; Medical students; Under-graduate education; Evidence-based medicine
17.  Ethnic Differences in the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome: Results from a Multi-Ethnic Population-Based Survey in Malaysia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46365.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome is increasing disproportionately among the different ethnicities in Asia compared to the rest of the world. This study aims to determine the differences in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome across ethnicities in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic country.
In 2004, we conducted a national cross-sectional population-based study using a stratified two-stage cluster sampling design (N = 17,211). Metabolic syndrome was defined according to the International Diabetes Federation/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute/American Heart Association (IDF/NHLBI/AHA-2009) criteria. Multivariate models were used to study the independent association between ethnicity and the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome.
The overall mean age was 36.9 years, and 50.0% participants were female. The ethnic distribution was 57.0% Malay, 28.5% Chinese, 8.9% Indian and 5.0% Indigenous Sarawakians. The overall prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was 27.5%, with a prevalence of central obesity, raised triglycerides, low high density lipoprotein cholesterol, raised blood pressure and raised fasting glucose of 36.9%, 29.3%, 37.2%, 38.0% and 29.1%, respectively. Among those <40 years, the adjusted prevalence ratios for metabolic syndrome for ethnic Chinese, Indians, and Indigenous Sarawakians compared to ethnic Malay were 0.81 (95% CI 0.67 to 0.96), 1.42 (95% CI 1.19 to 1.69) and 1.37 (95% CI 1.08 to 1.73), respectively. Among those aged ≥40 years, the corresponding prevalence ratios were 0.86 (95% CI 0.79 to 0.92), 1.25 (95% CI 1.15 to 1.36), and 0.94 (95% CI 0.80, 1.11). The P-value for the interaction of ethnicity by age was 0.001.
The overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome in Malaysia was high, with marked differences across ethnicities. Ethnic Chinese had the lowest prevalence of metabolic syndrome, while ethnic Indians had the highest. Indigenous Sarawakians showed a marked increase in metabolic syndrome at young ages.
PMCID: PMC3460855  PMID: 23029497
18.  Statistical Methods Used to Test for Agreement of Medical Instruments Measuring Continuous Variables in Method Comparison Studies: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37908.
Accurate values are a must in medicine. An important parameter in determining the quality of a medical instrument is agreement with a gold standard. Various statistical methods have been used to test for agreement. Some of these methods have been shown to be inappropriate. This can result in misleading conclusions about the validity of an instrument. The Bland-Altman method is the most popular method judging by the many citations of the article proposing this method. However, the number of citations does not necessarily mean that this method has been applied in agreement research. No previous study has been conducted to look into this. This is the first systematic review to identify statistical methods used to test for agreement of medical instruments. The proportion of various statistical methods found in this review will also reflect the proportion of medical instruments that have been validated using those particular methods in current clinical practice.
Five electronic databases were searched between 2007 and 2009 to look for agreement studies. A total of 3,260 titles were initially identified. Only 412 titles were potentially related, and finally 210 fitted the inclusion criteria. The Bland-Altman method is the most popular method with 178 (85%) studies having used this method, followed by the correlation coefficient (27%) and means comparison (18%). Some of the inappropriate methods highlighted by Altman and Bland since the 1980s are still in use.
This study finds that the Bland-Altman method is the most popular method used in agreement research. There are still inappropriate applications of statistical methods in some studies. It is important for a clinician or medical researcher to be aware of this issue because misleading conclusions from inappropriate analyses will jeopardize the quality of the evidence, which in turn will influence quality of care given to patients in the future.
PMCID: PMC3360667  PMID: 22662248
19.  Ethnic Differences in Survival after Breast Cancer in South East Asia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30995.
The burden of breast cancer in Asia is escalating. We evaluated the impact of ethnicity on survival after breast cancer in the multi-ethnic region of South East Asia.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Using the Singapore-Malaysia hospital-based breast cancer registry, we analyzed the association between ethnicity and mortality following breast cancer in 5,264 patients diagnosed between 1990 and 2007 (Chinese: 71.6%, Malay: 18.4%, Indian: 10.0%). We compared survival rates between ethnic groups and calculated adjusted hazard ratios (HR) to estimate the independent effect of ethnicity on survival. Malays (n = 968) presented at a significantly younger age, with larger tumors, and at later stages than the Chinese and Indians. Malays were also more likely to have axillary lymph node metastasis at similar tumor sizes and to have hormone receptor negative and poorly differentiated tumors. Five year overall survival was highest in the Chinese women (75.8%; 95%CI: 74.4%–77.3%) followed by Indians (68.0%; 95%CI: 63.8%–72.2%), and Malays (58.5%; 95%CI: 55.2%–61.7%). Compared to the Chinese, Malay ethnicity was associated with significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality (HR: 1.34; 95%CI: 1.19–1.51), independent of age, stage, tumor characteristics and treatment. Indian ethnicity was not significantly associated with risk of mortality after breast cancer compared to the Chinese (HR: 1.14; 95%CI: 0.98–1.34).
In South East Asia, Malay ethnicity is independently associated with poorer survival after breast cancer. Research into underlying reasons, potentially including variations in tumor biology, psychosocial factors, treatment responsiveness and lifestyle after diagnosis, is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3283591  PMID: 22363531
20.  Direct short-term effects of EBP teaching: change in knowledge, not in attitude; a cross-cultural comparison among students from European and Asian medical schools 
Medical Education Online  2012;17:10.3402/meo.v17i0.19623.
We report about the direct short-term effects of a Clinical Epidemiology and Evidence-based Medicine (CE-EBM) module on the knowledge, attitude, and behavior of students in the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU), Universitas Indonesia (UI), and University of Malaya (UM).
We used an adapted version of a 26-item validated questionnaire, including four subscales: knowledge, attitude, behavior, and future use of evidence-based practice (EBP). The four components were compared among the students in the three medical schools before the module using one-way ANOVA. At the end of the module, we measured only knowledge and attitudes. We computed Cronbach's α to assess the reliability of the responses in our population. To assess the change in knowledge and attitudes, we used the paired t-test in the comparison of scores before and after the module.
In total, 526 students (224 UI, 202 UM, and 100 UMCU) completed the questionnaires. In the three medical schools, Cronbach's α for the pre-module total score and the four subscale scores always exceeded 0.62. UMCU students achieved the highest pre-module scores in all subscales compared to UI and UM with the comparison of average (SD) score as the following: knowledge 5.04 (0.4) vs. 4.73 (0.69) and 4.24 (0.74), p<0.001; attitude 4.52 (0.64) vs. 3.85 (0.68) and 3.55 (0.63), p<0.001; behavior 2.62 (0.55) vs. 2.35 (0.71) and 2.39 (0.92), p=0.016; and future use of EBP 4.32 (0.59) vs. 4.08 (0.62) and 3.7 (0.71), p<0.01. The CE-EBM module increased the knowledge of the UMCU (from average 5.04±0.4 to 5.35±0.51; p<0.001) and UM students (from average 4.24±0.74 to 4.53±0.72; p<0.001) but not UI. The post-module scores for attitude did not change in the three medical schools.
EBP teaching had direct short-term effects on knowledge, not on attitude. Differences in pre-module scores are most likely related to differences in the system and infrastructure of both medical schools and their curriculum.
PMCID: PMC3487025  PMID: 23121993
Evidence Based Medicine; knowledge; attitude; behavior; medical students
21.  High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency and its association with obesity and metabolic syndrome among Malay adults in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:735.
Vitamin D status, as indicated by 25-hydroxyvitamin D is inversely associated with adiposity, glucose homeostasis, lipid profiles, and blood pressure along with its classic role in calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. It is also shown to be inversely associated with metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases in western populations. However, evidence from the Asian population is limited. Therefore, we aim to study the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency (< 50 nmol/L) and the association of 25-hydroxyvitamin D with metabolic risk factors among an existing Malay cohort in Kuala Lumpur.
This is an analytical cross sectional study. A total of 380 subjects were sampled and their vitamins D status (25-hydroxyvitamin D), fasting blood glucose, full lipid profile were assessed using venous blood. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure, weight, height and waist circumference were measured following standard protocols. Socio-demographic data such as sex, age, smoking status etc were also collected. Data was analysed using t-test, chi-square test, General Linear Model and multiple logistic regression.
Females made up 58% of the sample. The mean age of respondents was 48.5 (SD 5.2) years. Females had significantly lower mean Vitamin D levels (36.2; 95% CI: 34.5, 38.0 nmol/L) compared to males (56.2; 95% CI: 53.2, 59.2 nmol/L). Approximately 41% and 87% of males and females respectively had insufficient (< 50 nmol/L) levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (p < 0.001). The prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome for the whole sample was 38.4 (95% CI: 33.5, 43.3)%. In the multivariate model (adjusted for age, sex, abdominal obesity, HDL-cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure), insufficient Vitamin D status was significantly associated with 1-year age increments (OR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.98), being female (OR: 8.68; 95% CI: 5.08, 14.83) and abdominal obesity (OR: 2.57; 95% CI: 1.51, 4.39). Respondents with insufficient vitamin D were found to have higher odds of having Metabolic Syndrome (OR: 1.73; 95% CI: 1.02, 2.92) after adjusting for age and sex.
Our results highlight the high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency among Malay adults in Kuala Lumpur. Vitamin D insufficiency is independently associated with younger age, female sex and greater abdominal obesity. Vitamin D insufficiency is also associated with Metabolic Syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3198705  PMID: 21943301
22.  Risk of metabolic syndrome among children living in metropolitan Kuala Lumpur: A case control study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:333.
With the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity, the metabolic syndrome has been studied among children in many countries but not in Malaysia. Hence, this study aimed to compare metabolic risk factors between overweight/obese and normal weight children and to determine the influence of gender and ethnicity on the metabolic syndrome among school children aged 9-12 years in Kuala Lumpur and its metropolitan suburbs.
A case control study was conducted among 402 children, comprising 193 normal-weight and 209 overweight/obese. Weight, height, waist circumference (WC) and body composition were measured, and WHO (2007) growth reference was used to categorise children into the two weight groups. Blood pressure (BP) was taken, and blood was drawn after an overnight fast to determine fasting blood glucose (FBG) and full lipid profile, including triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and total cholesterol (TC). International Diabetes Federation (2007) criteria for children were used to identify metabolic syndrome.
Participants comprised 60.9% (n = 245) Malay, 30.9% (n = 124) Chinese and 8.2% (n = 33) Indian. Overweight/obese children showed significantly poorer biochemical profile, higher body fat percentage and anthropometric characteristics compared to the normal-weight group. Among the metabolic risk factors, WC ≥90th percentile was found to have the highest odds (OR = 189.0; 95%CI 70.8, 504.8), followed by HDL-C≤1.03 mmol/L (OR = 5.0; 95%CI 2.4, 11.1) and high BP (OR = 4.2; 95%CI 1.3, 18.7). Metabolic syndrome was found in 5.3% of the overweight/obese children but none of the normal-weight children (p < 0.01). Overweight/obese children had higher odds (OR = 16.3; 95%CI 2.2, 461.1) of developing the metabolic syndrome compared to normal-weight children. Binary logistic regression showed no significant association between age, gender and family history of communicable diseases with the metabolic syndrome. However, for ethnicity, Indians were found to have higher odds (OR = 5.5; 95%CI 1.5, 20.5) compared to Malays, with Chinese children (OR = 0.3; 95%CI 0.0, 2.7) having the lowest odds.
We conclude that being overweight or obese poses a greater risk of developing the metabolic syndrome among children. Indian ethnicity is at higher risk compared to their counterparts of the same age. Hence, primary intervention strategies are required to prevent this problem from escalating.
PMCID: PMC3111384  PMID: 21592367
23.  The modified NCEP ATP III criteria maybe better than the IDF criteria in diagnosing Metabolic Syndrome among Malays in Kuala Lumpur 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:678.
Metabolic Syndrome is associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. However, different diagnostic criteria have been recommended by different expert groups. In Malaysia, there is a lack of research comparing these different diagnostic criteria. Therefore, it is our aim to study the concordance between the IDF and the modified NCEP ATP III definitions of Metabolic Syndrome among a Malay cohort in Kuala Lumpur; and to demonstrate if all participants have the same cardiometabolic risks.
This was an analytical cross sectional study. Ethics approval was obtained and informed consent was given by all participants. Anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and lipid profile were taken following standard protocols.
Metabolic Syndrome was diagnosed in 41.4% and 38.2% participants using the modified NCEP and IDF criteria respectively. Among those diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome by modified NCEP, 7.6% were missed by the IDF criteria. Participants diagnosed by the modified NCEP criteria had lower BMI and waist circumference but had higher cardiometabolic risks than those diagnosed with both criteria. Their blood pressure, glucose, total cholesterol and triglyceride were more adverse than the IDF group. This demonstrated that central obesity may not be a prerequisite for the development of increased cardiometabolic risks within this Malay cohort.
Metabolic syndrome is common in this Malay cohort regardless of the criterion used. The modified NCEP ATP III criteria may be more suitable in diagnosis of metabolic syndrome for this Malay cohort.
PMCID: PMC2989964  PMID: 21054885
24.  Prevalence and correlates of physical disability and functional limitation among community dwelling older people in rural Malaysia, a middle income country 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:492.
The prevalence and correlates of physical disability and functional limitation among older people have been studied in many developed countries but not in a middle income country such as Malaysia. The present study investigated the epidemiology of physical disability and functional limitation among older people in Malaysia and compares findings to other countries.
A population-based cross sectional study was conducted in Alor Gajah, Malacca. Seven hundred and sixty five older people aged 60 years and above underwent tests of functional limitation (Tinetti Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment Tool). Data were also collected for self reported activities of daily living (ADL) using the Barthel Index (ten items). To compare prevalence with other studies, ADL disability was also defined using six basic ADL's (eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting and walking) and five basic ADL's (eating, bathing, dressing, transferring and toileting).
Ten, six and five basic ADL disability was reported by 24.7% (95% CI 21.6-27.9), 14.4% (95% CI 11.9-17.2) and 10.6% (95% CI 8.5-13.1), respectively. Functional limitation was found in 19.5% (95% CI 16.8-22.5) of participants. Variables independently associated with 10 item ADL disability physical disability, were advanced age (≥ 75 years: prevalence ratio (PR) 7.9; 95% CI 4.8-12.9), presence of diabetes (PR 1.8; 95% CI 1.4-2.3), stroke (PR 1.5; 95% CI 1.1-2.2), depressive symptomology (PR 1.3; 95% CI 1.1-1.8) and visual impairment (blind: PR 2.0; 95% CI 1.1-3.6). Advancing age (≥ 75 years: PR 3.0; 95% CI 1.7-5.2) being female (PR 2.7; 95% CI 1.2-6.1), presence of arthritis (PR 1.6; 95% CI 1.2-2.1) and depressive symptomology (PR 2.0; 95% CI 1.5-2.7) were significantly associated with functional limitation.
The prevalence of physical disability and functional limitation among older Malaysians appears to be much higher than in developed countries but is comparable to developing countries. Associations with socio-demographic and other health related variables were consistent with other studies.
PMCID: PMC2933720  PMID: 20716377

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