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1.  Informing Women on Menopause and Hormone Therapy: Know the Menopause a Multidisciplinary Project Involving Local Healthcare System 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85121.
Background
Hormone therapy (HT) in the menopause is still a tricky question among healthcare providers, women and mass media. Informing women about hormone replacement therapy was a Consensus Conference (CC) organized in 2008: the project Know the Menopause has been launched to shift out the results to women and healthcare providers and to assess the impact of the cc’s statement.
Methods
And Findings: The project, aimed at women aged 45-60 years, was developed in four Italian Regions: Lombardy, Tuscany, Lazio, Sicily, each with one Local Health Unit (LHU) as “intervention” and one as “control”. Activities performed were: survey on the press; training courses for health professionals; educational materials for target populations; survey aimed at women, general practitioners (GPs), and gynaecologists; data analysis on HT drugs’ prescription. Local activities were: training courses; public meetings; dissemination on mass media. About 3,700 health professionals were contacted and 1,800 participated in the project. About 146,500 printed leaflets on menopause were distributed to facilitate the dialogue among women and health care professionals. Training courses and educational cascade-process activities: participation ranged 25- 72% of GPs, 17-71% of gynaecologists, 14-78% of pharmacists, 34-85% of midwives. Survey: 1,281 women interviewed. More than 90% believed menopause was a normal phase in life. More than half did not receive information about menopause and therapies. HT prescription analysis: prevalence fell from 6% to 4% in five years. No differences in time trends before-after the intervention. Major limitations are: organizational difficulties met by LHU, too short time for some local activities.
Conclusions
A huge amount of information was spread through health professionals and women. The issue of menopause was also used to discuss women’s wellbeing. This project offered an opportunity to launch a multidisciplinary, multimodal approach to menopause looking not only at pharmacological aspects, but also at quality of life and information.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085121
PMCID: PMC3877328  PMID: 24391988
2.  Sudden Unexpected Deaths and Vaccinations during the First Two Years of Life in Italy: A Case Series Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16363.
Background
The signal of an association between vaccination in the second year of life with a hexavalent vaccine and sudden unexpected deaths (SUD) in the two days following vaccination was reported in Germany in 2003. A study to establish whether the immunisation with hexavalent vaccines increased the short term risk of SUD in infants was conducted in Italy.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The reference population comprises around 3 million infants vaccinated in Italy in the study period 1999–2004 (1.5 million received hexavalent vaccines). Events of SUD in infants aged 1–23 months were identified through the death certificates. Vaccination history was retrieved from immunisation registries. Association between immunisation and death was assessed adopting a case series design focusing on the risk periods 0–1, 0–7, and 0–14 days after immunisation. Among the 604 infants who died of SUD, 244 (40%) had received at least one vaccination. Four deaths occurred within two days from vaccination with the hexavalent vaccines (RR = 1.5; 95% CI 0.6 to 4.2). The RRs for the risk periods 0–7 and 0–14 were 2.0 (95% CI 1.2 to 3.5) and 1.5 (95% CI 0.9 to 2.4). The increased risk was limited to the first dose (RR = 2.2; 95% CI 1.1 to 4.4), whereas no increase was observed for the second and third doses combined.
Conclusions
The RRs of SUD for any vaccines and any risk periods, even when greater than 1, were almost an order of magnitude lower than the estimates in Germany. The limited increase in RRs found in Italy appears confined to the first dose and may be partly explained by a residual uncontrolled confounding effect of age.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016363
PMCID: PMC3027668  PMID: 21298113
3.  How Are the Interests of Incapacitated Research Participants Protected through Legislation? An Italian Study on Legal Agency for Dementia Patients 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11150.
Background
Patients with dementia may have limited capacity to give informed consent to participate in clinical research. One possible way to safeguard the patients' interests in research is the involvement of a proxy in the recruitment process. In Italy, the system of proxy is determined by the courts. In this study we evaluate the timing for appointment of a legal proxy in Italy and identify predictive variables of appointment.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Subjects were recruited among the outpatients seeking medical advice for cognitive complaints at the Centre for Research and Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunctions, University of Milan, “Luigi Sacco” Hospital.
The Centre was participating to the AdCare Study, a no-profit randomised clinical trial coordinated by the Italian National Institute of Health. The requirement that informed consent be given by a legal representative dramatically slowed down the recruitment process in AdCare, which was prematurely interrupted. The Centre for Research and Treatment of Cognitive Dysfunctions collected data on the timing required to appoint the legal representatives. Patients diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers were provided information on the Italian law on legal agency (law 6/2004). At each scheduled check-up the caregiver was asked whether she/he had applied to appoint a legal proxy for the patient and the time interval between the presentation of the law, the registration of the application at the law court chancellery and the sentence of appointment was registered. The study involved 169 demented patients. Seventy-eight patients (46.2%) applied to appoint a legal proxy. These subjects were usually younger, had been suffering from dementia for a longer time, had less than two children and made more use of memantine. The mean interval time between the presentation of the law and the patients' application to the law court chancellery was two months. The mean interval time between the patient's application to the law court chancellery and the sentence of appointment was four months.
Conclusions/Significance
In Italy the requirement that legal representatives be appointed by the courts slows down subjects' participation in research. Other procedures for legal agency of the incapacitated patients may be adopted, taking as examples other EU countries' systems.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011150
PMCID: PMC2886844  PMID: 20585400
4.  Evaluation of safety of A/H1N1 pandemic vaccination during pregnancy: cohort study 
Objective To assess the risk of maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes associated with the administration of an MF59 adjuvanted A/H1N1 vaccine during pregnancy.
Design Historical cohort study.
Setting Singleton pregnancies of the resident population of the Lombardy region of Italy.
Participants All deliveries between 1 October 2009 and 30 September 2010. Data on exposure to A/H1N1 pandemic vaccine, pregnancy, and birth outcomes were retrieved from regional databases. Vaccinated and non-vaccinated women were compared in a propensity score matched analysis to estimate risks of adverse outcomes.
Main outcome measures Main maternal outcomes included type of delivery, admission to intensive care unit, eclampsia, and gestational diabetes; fetal and neonatal outcomes included perinatal deaths, small for gestational age births, and congenital malformations.
Results Among the 86 171 eligible pregnancies, 6246 women were vaccinated (3615 (57.9%) in the third trimester and 2557 (40.9%) in the second trimester). No difference was observed in terms of spontaneous deliveries (adjusted odds ratio 1.02, 95% confidence interval 0.96 to 1.08) or admissions to intensive care units (0.95, 0.47 to 1.88), whereas a limited increase in the prevalence of gestational diabetes (1.26, 1.04 to 1.53) and eclampsia (1.19, 1.04 to 1.39) was seen in vaccinated women. Rates of fetal and neonatal outcomes were similar in vaccinated and non-vaccinated women. A slight increase in congenital malformations, although not statistically significant, was present in the exposed cohort (1.14, 0.99 to 1.31).
Conclusions Our findings add relevant information about the safety of the MF59 adjuvanted A/H1N1 vaccine in pregnancy. Residual confounding may partly explain the increased risk of some maternal outcomes. Meta-analysis of published studies should be conducted to further clarify the risk of infrequent outcomes, such as specific congenital malformations.
doi:10.1136/bmj.g3361
PMCID: PMC4038133  PMID: 24874845

Results 1-4 (4)