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1.  Cognitive function, body mass index and mortality in a rural elderly Chinese cohort 
Previous studies have shown that poor cognition and low body mass index were associated with increased mortality. But few studies have investigated the association between cognition and mortality across the entire cognitive spectrum while adjusting for BMI. The objective of this study is to examine the associations between cognitive function, BMI and 7-year mortality in a rural elderly Chinese cohort.
A prospective cohort of 2,000 Chinese age 65 and over from four rural counties in China were followed for 7-years. Cognitive function, BMI and other covariate information were obtained at baseline. Cox’s proportional hazard models were used to determine the effects of cognitive function and BMI on mortality risk.
Of participants enrolled, 473 (23.7%) died during follow-up. Both lower cognitive function (HR = 1.48, p = 0.0049) and lower BMI (HR = 1.6, p < 0.0001) were independently associated with increased mortality risk compared to individuals with average cognitive function and normal weight. Higher cognitive function was associated with lower mortality risk (HR = 0.69, p = 0.0312). We found no significant difference in mortality risk between overweight/obese participants and those with normal weight.
Cognitive function and BMI were independent predictors of mortality risk. Intervention strategies for increasing cognitive function and maintaining adequate BMI may be important in reducing morality risk in the elderly population.
PMCID: PMC3974191  PMID: 24666663
2.  Interventions for physical activity promotion applied to the primary healthcare settings for people living in regions of low socioeconomic level: study protocol for a non-randomized controlled trial 
Regular physical activity practice has been widely recommended for promoting health, but the physical activity levels remain low in the population. Therefore, the study of interventions to promote physical activity is essential. Objective: To present the methodology of two physical activity interventions from the “Ambiente Ativo” (“Active Environment”) project.
12-month non-randomized controlled intervention trial. 157 healthy and physically inactive individuals were selected: health education (n = 54) supervised exercise (n = 54) and control (n = 49). Intervention based on health education: a multidisciplinary team of health professionals organized the intervention in group discussions, phone calls, SMS and educational material. Intervention based on supervised exercise program: consisted of offering an exercise program in groups supervised by physical education professionals involving strength, endurance and flexibility exercises. The physical activity level was assessed by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (long version), physical activities recalls, pedometers and accelerometers over a seven-day period.
This study described two different proposals for promoting physical activity that were applied to adults attended through the public healthcare settings. The participants were living in a region of low socioeconomic level, while respecting the characteristics and organization of the system and its professionals, and also adapting the interventions to the realities of the individuals attended.
Both interventions are applicable in regions of low socioeconomic level, while respecting the social and economic characteristics of each region.
Trial registration NCT01852981
PMCID: PMC3977937  PMID: 24624930
Health promotion; Intervention study; Public health practice; Physical activity
3.  Creating healthy food environments through global benchmarking of government nutrition policies and food industry practices 
Unhealthy processed food products are increasingly dominating over healthy foods, making food and nutrition environments unhealthier. Development and implementation of strong government healthy food policies is currently being circumvented in many countries by powerful food industry lobbying. In order to increase accountability of both governments and the private sector for their actions, and improve the healthiness of food environments, INFORMAS (the International Network for Food and Obesity/non-communicable diseases (NCDs) Research, Monitoring and Action Support) has recently been founded to systematically and comprehensively monitor food environments and policies in countries of varying size and income. This will enable INFORMAS to rank both governments and private sector companies globally according to their actions on food environments. Identification of those countries which have the healthiest food and nutrition policies and using them as international benchmarks against which national progress towards best practice can be assessed, should support reductions in global obesity and diet-related NCDs.
PMCID: PMC3974193  PMID: 24594359
4.  The high-cost, type 2 diabetes mellitus patient: an analysis of managed care administrative data 
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) affects 25.8 million individuals in the United States and exerts a substantial economic burden on patients, health care systems, and society. Few studies have categorized costs and resource use at the patient level. The goals of this study were to assess predictors of being a high-cost (HC) patient and compare HC T2DM patients with not high-cost (NHC) T2DM patients.
Using managed care administrative claims data, patients with two or more T2DM diagnoses between 2005 and 2010 were selected. Patients were followed for 1 year after their first observed T2DM diagnosis; patients not continuously enrolled during this period were excluded from the study. Study measures included annual health care expenditures by component (i.e., inpatient, outpatient, pharmacy, total). Patients accruing total costs in the top 10% of the overall cost distribution (i.e., patients with costs > $20,528) were classified as HC a priori; all other patients were considered NHC. To assess predictors of being HC, a logistic regression model was estimated, accounting for demographics; underlying comorbidity burden (using the Charlson Comorbidity Index [CCI] score); diagnoses of renal impairment, obesity, or hypertension; and receipt of insulin, oral antidiabetics only, or no antidiabetics.
A total of 1,720,041 patients met the inclusion criteria; 172,004 were HC. The mean (SD) CCI score for HC patients was 4.3 (3.0) versus 2.1 (1.7) for NHC patients. Mean (SD; upper 95% confidence interval-lower 95% confidence interval) annual per-patient costs were $56,468 ($65,604; $56,778-$56,157) among HC patients and $4,674 ($4,504; $4,695-$4,652) among NHC patients. Inpatient care and pharmacy costs were higher for HC patients than for NHC patients. The strongest predictor of being an HC patient was having a CCI score of 2 or greater (odds ratio [OR] = 4.896), followed by a diagnosis of obesity (OR = 2.106), renal impairment (OR = 2.368), and insulin use (OR = 2.098).
High-cost T2DM patients accrue approximately $52,000 more in total annual health care costs than not high-cost T2DM patients. Patients were significantly more likely to be high-cost if they had comorbid conditions, a diagnosis of obesity, or used insulin.
PMCID: PMC3974200  PMID: 24576356
Diabetes mellitus, type 2; Health care costs; Economics
5.  What socio-demographic factors influence poverty and financial health care access among disabled people in Flanders: a cross-sectional study 
Current literature shows that people with a disability have a lower income than people without a disability. Disabled people often experience difficulties with health care access.
The objective of this study is to assess the current financial situation and poverty rate amongst disabled people in Flanders. Furthermore we wanted to analyze factors that contribute to the risk of poverty and problems with financial health care access in adult people with a disability in Flanders.
An online and paper survey were constructed and made available through two large organizations for people with different types of disability in Flanders. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis were performed.
In this convenience sample, 20.9% of the 889 respondents live under the poverty threshold. Important contributing factors to the risk of poverty are having children (OR 3.43, 95% CI 2.10-5.59) and a low level of dependence (OR 16.40, 95% CI 6.21-43.28). 25.2% of the respondents did not access health care because of financial shortcomings. A low level of dependence is one important contributing factor (OR 3.16, 95% CI 1.41-6.98) to limited financial health care access.
This research confirms that disability is associated with a higher risk of poverty and impaired financial health care access.
PMCID: PMC3930006  PMID: 24521283
6.  Role of antenatal care and iron supplementation during pregnancy in preventing low birth weight in Nepal: comparison of national surveys 2006 and 2011 
Low birth weight (LBW) is a major cause of neonatal deaths in developing countries including Nepal. Its social determinants in Nepal have rarely been identified. This study aimed to identify the factors associated with low birth weight among under-five children comparing data from the Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys (NDHS) of 2006 and 2011.
Pooled data from the Nepal Demographic and Health Surveys (NDHS) of 2006 and 2011 were analysed initially and the two survey data were then compared separately. The association between LBW and socio-demographic and health related factors were analysed using multiple logistic regression analysis with a stepwise backward elimination procedure. Complex Sample Analysis method was used to account for study design and sampling.
A total of 2845 children, 923 children in 2006 and 1922 children in 2011, had their birth weight recorded. The mean birth weight was 3024 (SD = 654.5) grams. A total of 12.1% (95% Confidence interval (CI); 10.6%-13.7%) children had low birth weight (<2500 grams) at the time of birth. Attending antenatal care was found to be consistently associated with low birth weight for the pooled survey data, and both 2006 and 2011 survey data, respectively. Not attending antenatal care increased the odds of having a LBW infant by more than two times [OR 2.301; 95% CI (1.526-3.471)]. Iron supplementation, which is an integral part of antenatal care in Nepal, was also significantly associated with birth weight for combined and individual surveys. Mothers not consuming iron supplementation during their pregnancy were more likely to have LBW infants [OR 1.839; 95% CI (1.282-2.363)]. Residing in the Far-western and Eastern region were also significant risk factors for LBW in the pooled dataset and in 2011 survey.
The current study indicated there was no significant decrease in the LBW prevalence and there is a need of targeted interventions aimed at decreasing the high rate of LBW through increasing antenatal care and consumption of iron supplementation during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3922088  PMID: 24499636
Antenatal care; Iron supplementation; Low birth weight; Nepal
7.  School based interventions versus family based interventions in the treatment of childhood obesity- a systematic review 
The prevalence of childhood obesity, which has seen a rapid increase over the last decade, is now considered a major public health problem. Current treatment options are based on the two important frameworks of school- and family-based interventions; however, most research has yet to compare the two frameworks in the treatment of childhood obesity.
The objective of this review is to compare the effectiveness of school-based intervention with family-based intervention in the treatment of childhood obesity.
Databases such as Medline, Pub med, CINAHL, and Science Direct were used to execute the search for primary research papers according to inclusion criteria. The review included a randomised controlled trial and quasi-randomised controlled trials based on family- and school-based intervention frameworks on the treatment of childhood obesity.
The review identified 1231 articles of which 13 met the criteria. Out of the thirteen studies, eight were family-based interventions (n = 8) and five were school-based interventions (n = 5) with total participants (n = 2067). The participants were aged between 6 and 17 with the study duration ranging between one month and three years. Family-based interventions demonstrated effectiveness for children under the age of twelve and school-based intervention was most effective for those aged between 12 and 17 with differences for both long-term and short-term results.
The evidence shows that family- and school-based interventions have a considerable effect on treating childhood obesity. However, the effectiveness of the interventional frameworks depends on factors such as age, short- or long-term outcome, and methodological quality of the trials. Further research studies are required to determine the effectiveness of family- and school-based interventions using primary outcomes such as weight, BMI, percentage overweight and waist circumference in addition to the aforementioned factors.
PMCID: PMC3974185  PMID: 24472187
Children; Obesity; Family intervention; School intervention; Frameworks; Treatment
8.  Enhancing capacity for risk factor surveillance at the regional/local level: a follow-up review of the findings of the Canadian Think Tank Forum after 4 years 
National health surveys are sometimes used to provide estimates on risk factors for policy and program development at the regional/local level. However, as regional/local needs may differ from national ones, an important question is how to also enhance capacity for risk factor surveillance regionally/locally.
A Think Tank Forum was convened in Canada to discuss the needs, characteristics, coordination, tools and next steps to build capacity for regional/local risk factor surveillance. A series of follow up activities to review the relevant issues pertaining to needs, characteristics and capacity of risk factor surveillance were conducted.
Results confirmed the need for a regional/local risk factor surveillance system that is flexible, timely, of good quality, having a communication plan, and responsive to local needs. It is important to conduct an environmental scan and a gap analysis, to develop a common vision, to build central and local coordination and leadership, to build on existing tools and resources, and to use innovation.
Findings of the Think Tank Forum are important for building surveillance capacity at the local/county level, both in Canada and globally. This paper provides a follow-up review of the findings based on progress over the last 4 years.
PMCID: PMC3916079  PMID: 24451555
Public health surveillance; Capacity building; Behavioural risk factors
9.  Development of a theory- and evidence-based intervention to enhance implementation of physical therapy guidelines for the management of low back pain 
Systematic planning could improve the generally moderate effectiveness of interventions to enhance adherence to clinical practice guidelines. The aim of our study was to demonstrate how the process of Intervention Mapping was used to develop an intervention to address the lack of adherence to the national CPG for low back pain by Dutch physical therapists.
We systematically developed a program to improve adherence to the Dutch physical therapy guidelines for low back pain. Based on multi-method formative research, we formulated program and change objectives. Selected theory-based methods of change and practical applications were combined into an intervention program. Implementation and evaluation plans were developed.
Formative research revealed influential determinants for physical therapists and practice quality managers. Self-regulation was appropriate because both the physical therapists and the practice managers needed to monitor current practice and make and implement plans for change. The program stimulated interaction between practice levels by emphasizing collective goal setting. It combined practical applications, such as knowledge transfer and discussion-and-feedback, based on theory-based methods, such as consciousness raising and active learning. The implementation plan incorporated the wider environment. The evaluation plan included an effect and process evaluation.
Intervention Mapping is a useful framework for formative data in program planning in the field of clinical guideline implementation. However, a decision aid to select determinants of guideline adherence identified in the formative research to analyse the problem may increase the efficiency of the application of the Intervention Mapping process.
PMCID: PMC3897896  PMID: 24428945
Guideline implementation; Low back pain; Quality improvement; Multilevel program; Individual professional; Practice management; Physical therapy
10.  Assessment of pattern for consumption and awareness regarding energy drinks among medical students 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):31.
Energy drink is a type of beverage which contains stimulant drugs chiefly caffeine and marketed as mental and physical stimulator. Coffee, tea, soft drinks and other caffeinated beverages are not considered as energy drinks. Purpose of our study was to evaluate the awareness of medical students regarding energy drinks and their pattern and reason of energy drinks consumption.
This was a cross sectional and observational study conducted during the period of January – December 2012 at four Medical Colleges (Dow Medical College, Sindh Medical College, Jinnah Medical College and Liaquat National Medical College) of Karachi, Pakistan. Over all 900 M.B.B.S students were invited to participate after taking written consent but viable questionnaire was submitted by 866 students, estimated response rate of 96%. All data was entered and analyzed through SPSS version 19.
Out of 866 participants, majority were females 614 (70.9%) and only 252 (28.5%) were males, with a mean age of 21.43 ± 1.51 years. Energy drinks users were 350 (42.89%) and non users were 516 (59.58%). Only 102 (29.3%) users and 159 (30.7%) non users know the correct definition of Energy drinks. Regarding awareness, mostly user and non users thought that usage of energy drinks had been on rise due to its usefulness in reducing sleep hours [users193 (43.9%), nonusers 247 (56.1%) (p < 0.05)], for studying or completing major projects [users184 (45.0%), nonusers 225 (55.0%) (p < 0.05)] and for refreshment purposes [users179 (44.9%), nonusers 220 (55.1%) (p < 0.05)]. Two main reasons of not using energy drinks by non-users were “awareness from its side effects” 247 (47.8%) and “have no specific reason” 265 (51.3%). Most common side effects reported by users were fatigue 111 (31.7%) and weight gain 102 (29.4%).
In sum, the fact that despite serious side effects of weight gaining and fatigue, practice of consuming energy drinks is highly prevalent among medical students, particularly because they are ever ready to boost their energy level and reduce sleep hours due to stress of exams and projects. This warrants the creation of continued public health awareness about the appropriate use of caffeinated beverages, their potential benefits, side effects and correction of wrong perceptions.
PMCID: PMC3976099  PMID: 24351105
Palpitation; Energy drinks; Behavior
11.  Socio-demographic correlates of six indicators of alcohol consumption: survey findings of students across seven universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):29.
This study assessed the prevalence of six alcohol consumption indicators in a sample of university students. We also examined whether students’ sociodemographic and educational characteristics were associated with any of the six alcohol consumption indicators; and whether associations between students’ sociodemographic and educational characteristics and the six alcohol consumption indicators differed by gender.
A cross-sectional study of 3706 students enrolled at 7 universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A self-administered questionnaire assessed six alcohol consumption measures: length of time of last (most recent) drinking occasion; amount consumed during last drinking occasion; frequency of alcohol consumption; heavy episodic drinking (≥ 5 drinks in a row); problem drinking; and possible alcohol dependence as measured by CAGE. The questionnaire also collected information on seven relevant student sociodemographic characteristics (age, gender, academic year of study, current living circumstances - accommodation with parents, whether student was in intimate relationship, socioeconomic status of parents - parental education, income sufficiency) and two academic achievement variables (importance of achieving good grades at university, and one’s academic performance in comparison with one’s peers).
The majority of students (65% of females, 76% of males) reported heavy episodic drinking at least once within the last 2 weeks, and problem drinking was prevalent in 20% of females and 29% of males. Factors consistently positively associated with all six indicators of alcohol consumption were male gender and perceived insufficient income. Other factors such as living away from home, being in 1st or 2nd year of studies, having no intimate partner, and lower academic achievement were associated with some, but not all indicators of alcohol consumption.
The high level of alcohol consumption calls for regular/periodic monitoring of student use of alcohol, and for urgent preventive actions and intervention programmes at the universities in the UK.
PMCID: PMC3923438  PMID: 24196210
Heavy episodic drinking; Problem drinking; Alcohol dependence; University students; Sociodemographic and educational characteristics; Gender
12.  Processing medical data: a systematic review 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):27.
Medical data recording is one of the basic clinical tools. Electronic Health Record (EHR) is important for data processing, communication, efficiency and effectiveness of patients’ information access, confidentiality, ethical and/or legal issues. Clinical record promote and support communication among service providers and hence upscale quality of healthcare. Qualities of records are reflections of the quality of care patients offered.
Qualitative analysis was undertaken for this systematic review. We reviewed 40 materials Published from 1999 to 2013. We searched these materials from databases including ovidMEDLINE and ovidEMBASE. Two reviewers independently screened materials on medical data recording, documentation and information processing and communication. Finally, all selected references were summarized, reconciled and compiled as one compatible document.
Patients were dying and/or getting much suffering as the result of poor quality medical records. Electronic health record minimizes errors, saves unnecessary time, and money wasted on processing medical data.
Many countries have been complaining for incompleteness, inappropriateness and illegibility of records. Therefore creating awareness on the magnitude of the problem has paramount importance. Hence available correct patient information has lots of potential in reducing errors and support roles.
PMCID: PMC3876722  PMID: 24107106
Medical data; Documentation; Decision making; Electronic health record; Health service quality
13.  Prevalence and determinants of obesity among primary school children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):26.
Childhood obesity has increased dramatically and has become a public health concern worldwide. Childhood obesity is likely to persist through adulthood and may lead to early onset of NCDs. However, there is paucity of data on obesity among primary school children in Tanzania. This study assessed the prevalence and determinants of obesity among primary school children in Dar es Salaam.
A cross sectional study was conducted among school age children in randomly selected schools in Dar es Salaam. Anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were taken using standard procedures. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters (kg/m2). Child obesity was defined as BMI at or above 95th percentile for age and sex. Socio-demographic characteristics of children were determined using a structured questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to determine association between independent variables with obesity among primary school children in Dar es Salaam.
A total of 446 children were included in the analysis. The mean age of the participants was 11.1±2.0 years and 53.1% were girls. The mean BMI, SBP and DBP were 16.6±4.0 kg/m2, 103.9±10.3mmHg and 65.6±8.2mmHg respectively. The overall prevalence of child obesity was 5.2% and was higher among girls (6.3%) compared to boys (3.8%). Obese children had significantly higher mean values for age (p=0.042), systolic and diastolic blood pressures (all p<0.001). Most obese children were from households with fewer children (p=0.019) and residing in urban areas (p=0.002). Controlling for other variables, age above 10 years (AOR=3.3, 95% CI=1.5-7.2), female sex (AOR=2.6, 95% CI=1.4-4.9), urban residence (AOR=2.5, 95% CI=1.2-5.3) and having money to spend at school (AOR=2.6, 95% CI=1.4-4.8) were significantly associated with child obesity.
The prevalence of childhood obesity in this population was found to be low. However, children from urban schools and girls were proportionately more obese compared to their counterparts. Primary preventive measures for childhood obesity should start early in childhood and address socioeconomic factors of parents contributing to childhood obesity.
PMCID: PMC3844852  PMID: 24094276
Prevalence; Child obesity; Determinants; Urban; Children; Tanzania
14.  Methodological basics and evolution of the Belgian health interview survey 1997–2008 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):24.
The Belgian Health Interview Survey (BHIS) is organised every 4 to 5 years and collects health information from around 10,000 individuals in a face-to-face setting. This manuscript describes the methodological choices made in the sampling design, the outcomes of the previous surveys in terms of participation rates and achieved targets and the factors to be accounted for in data-analysis.
The BHIS targets all persons residing in Belgium with no restrictions on age or nationality. Trimestral copies of the National Population Registry are used as the sampling frame. To select the respondents, a multistage sampling design is applied involving a geographical stratification, a selection of clusters, a selection of households within each cluster and a selection of respondents within each household. Using matched substitution of non-participating households assures the realisation of the predefined net-sample.
For each BHIS the required number of participants is achieved, including the years when an oversampling of provinces and of the elderly occurred. The sampling design guarantees that the survey is implemented in large cities as well as in small municipalities. A growing problem is related to the sampling frame: it is increasingly subject of deterioration, especially in the Brussels-Capital Region.
The methodological approach developed for the first BHIS proves to be accurate and was kept nearly unchanged throughout the following surveys. Fieldwork substitution contributes to a considerable extent to the success of the fieldwork but yields in higher percentages of non-participation. The sampling design requires special attention when analysing the data: the unequal selection probability, e.g. due to the non-proportional stratification at the regional level, necessitates the use of weights. The BHIS is progressively embedded in the European Health Survey, a process that doesn’t jeopardise the comparability of the Belgian results throughout time.
PMCID: PMC3844891  PMID: 24047278
Health interview survey; Survey-methodology; Fieldwork substitution
15.  Intention to use condom among students in Agena preparatory school, Guraghe Zone, Ethiopia: with the application of health believe model 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):23.
HIV/AIDS is affecting the majority of the population, particularly the productive age group between 15–49 years resulting in social and economic crisis. The rate of HIV infection would undoubtedly be lowered if safe sexual practices such as correct and consistent use of condoms had been followed. The aim of this study was therefore to assess intention to use condom among students in Agena preparatory school, Guraghe zone, Ethiopia. Agena is an urban area in south Ethiopia.
Institution based cross-sectional study was conducted. A two stage sampling was applied by stratifying students in to (grade 11 and 12) with each grade having four section (A, B, C, D). Then systematic random sampling was used to select students in each section. Analyses of frequencies and summary measures like mean and Standard Deviation of selected variables were done. Bivariate and multivariate analysis was done to measure the association between different variables.
Out of 450 respondents 122(27.1%) had history of sexual intercourse. Of whom the majority 86(70.5%) had two or more sexual partners. And 45(37%) never used condom, 12(9.8%) used condom sometimes and 65(53.2%) used condom every time during sex. About 300(67.7%) of the respondents have no intention to use condom in the next sexual encounter. On multivariate analysis those students who have high perceived susceptibility (AOR = 1.94 (1.16-3.2)) and high self-efficacy (AOR = 27 (14.4-54.2)) were more likely to have intention to use condom than others.
Intention to use condom in the next sexual intercourse is very low. Information Education and Communication (IEC) on reducing number of sexual partners along with condom use promotion targeting in-school adolescents should be the primary strategy of HIV/AIDS prevention process.
PMCID: PMC3844754  PMID: 24107085
Condom; Intention to use; Health believe model; Students
16.  Reflections on tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment outcomes in Ghana 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):22.
Available evidence in Ghana shows the implementation of tuberculosis (TB) control activities efforts since the beginning of the 1900s. In spite of that, TB continues to be one of the common diseases in the country. In 1994, local and international policy windows opened for renewed strategies for the control of TB. This paper explores some of the approaches which have been in place since 1994 and their implications for treatment outcomes.
The study combines quantitative and qualitative data. The quantitative data consist of treatment outcome from 1997–2010 and the qualitative data are derived from in-depth interviews with some staff of the TB control programme. Poisson regression and inductive coding were applied to the quantitative and qualitative data respectively.
Reported cure rates increased from 43.6% to 87.7% between 1997 and 2010. The data from the in-depth interviews (IDIs) suggested that improvements in diagnosis, community TB care, stigma reduction among community and health workers towards TB patients, the public-private partnership, and the enablers’ package contributed to the improved better treatment outcomes, particularly from 2008.
Lessons learnt include the achievement of objectives with varying strategies and stakeholder interventions. Further studies would be needed to quantify the contributions of the various interventions to help determine those that are cost effective as well as efficient and effective for TB control.
PMCID: PMC3765431  PMID: 23971675
Tuberculosis control; Diagnosis; Treatment outcomes
17.  How to get started with a systematic review in epidemiology: an introductory guide for early career researchers 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):21.
Systematic review is a powerful research tool which aims to identify and synthesize all evidence relevant to a research question. The approach taken is much like that used in a scientific experiment, with high priority given to the transparency and reproducibility of the methods used and to handling all evidence in a consistent manner.
Early career researchers may find themselves in a position where they decide to undertake a systematic review, for example it may form part or all of a PhD thesis. Those with no prior experience of systematic review may need considerable support and direction getting started with such a project. Here we set out in simple terms how to get started with a systematic review.
Advice is given on matters such as developing a review protocol, searching using databases and other methods, data extraction, risk of bias assessment and data synthesis including meta-analysis. Signposts to further information and useful resources are also given.
A well-conducted systematic review benefits the scientific field by providing a summary of existing evidence and highlighting unanswered questions. For the individual, undertaking a systematic review is also a great opportunity to improve skills in critical appraisal and in synthesising evidence.
PMCID: PMC3844862  PMID: 23919540
Systematic review; Systematic review methods; Meta-analysis; Early career researchers; Evidence synthesis; Observational studies
18.  Do mass media campaigns improve physical activity? a systematic review and meta-analysis 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):20.
Mass media campaigns are frequently used to influence the health behaviors of various populations. There are currently no quantitative meta-analyses of the effect of mass media campaigns on physical activity in adults.
We searched six electronic databases from their inception to August 2012 and selected prospective studies that evaluated the effect of mass media campaigns on physical activity in adults. We excluded studies that did not have a proper control group or did not report the uncertainties of the effect estimates. Two reviewers independently screened the title/abstracts and full articles. We used random-effects models to pool effect estimates across studies for 3 selected outcomes.
Nine prospective cohorts and before-after studies that followed-up 27,601 people over 8 weeks to 3 years met the inclusion criteria. Based on the pooled results from these studies, mass media campaigns had a significant effect on promoting moderate intensity walking (pooled relative risk (RR) from 3 studies=1.53, 95% Confidence Interval: 1.25 to 1.87), but did not help participants achieve sufficient levels of physical activity [4 studies pooled RR=1.02, 95% CI: 0.91 to 1.14)]. The apparent effect of media campaigns on reducing sedentary behavior (pooled RR=1.15, 95% CI: 1.03 to 1.30) was lost when a relatively low-quality study with large effects was excluded in a sensitivity analysis. In subgroup analyses, campaigns that promoted physical activity as a ‘social norm’ seemed to be more effective in reducing sedentary behavior.
Mass media campaigns may promote walking but may not reduce sedentary behavior or lead to achieving recommended levels of overall physical activity. Further research is warranted on different campaign types and in low- and middle- income countries.
PMCID: PMC3737034  PMID: 23915170
Physical activity; Mass media; Systematic review; Meta-analysis; Prospective studies; Sedentary behavior
19.  Reasons for non-vaccination in pediatric patients visiting tertiary care centers in a polio-prone country 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):19.
The Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) was initiated by World Health Organization (WHO) in 1974 in order to save children from life threatening, disabling vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). In Pakistan, this program was launched in 1978 with the main objectives of eradicating polio by 2012, eliminating measles and neonatal tetanus by 2015, and minimizing the incidence of other VPDs. However, despite the efforts of government and WHO, this program has not received the amount of success that was desired. Hence, the objectives of this study were to elucidate the main reasons behind not achieving the full immunization coverage in Pakistan, the awareness of children’s attendant about the importance of vaccination, their attitudes, thoughts and fears regarding childhood immunization, and the major hurdles faced in pursuit of getting their children vaccinated.
This was an observational, cross-sectional, questionnaire-based study conducted during a one year period from 4th January, 2012 to 6th January, 2013 at the pediatric outpatient clinics of Civil Hospital (CHK) and National Institute of Child Health (NICH). We attempted to interview all the parents who could be approached during the period of the study. Thus, convenience sampling was employed. The parents were approached in the clinics and interviewed after seeking informed, written consent. Those patients who were not accompanied by either of their parents were excluded from the study. The study instrument comprised of three sections. The first section consisted was concerned with the demographics of the patient and the parents. The second section dealt with the reasons for complete vaccination or under-vaccination. The last section aimed to assess the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of the respondents.
Out of 1044 patients, only 713(68.3%) were fully vaccinated, 239(22.9%) were partially vaccinated while 92(8.8%) had never been vaccinated. The vaccination status showed statistically significant association with ethnicity, income, residence, number of children and paternal occupation (p < 0.05 for all). The most common provocative factor for vaccination compliance was mass media (61.9%). The most common primary reason for non-vaccination was lack of knowledge (18.1%), whereas the most common secondary reason for non-vaccination was religious taboos (31.4%). Majority of the respondents demonstrated poor knowledge of EPI schedules or VPDs. However, most believed that there was a need for more active government/NGO involvement in this area.
The most common primary reason for non-vaccination, i.e. lack of knowledge, and the most common secondary reason, i.e. religious taboos, imply that there is dire need to promote awareness among the masses in collaboration with NGOs, and major religious and social organizations.
PMCID: PMC3716633  PMID: 23848348
20.  The environmental hypersensitivity symptom inventory: metric properties and normative data from a population-based study 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):18.
High concomitant intolerance attributed to odorous/pungent chemicals, certain buildings, electromagnetic fields (EMF), and everyday sounds calls for a questionnaire instrument that can assess symptom prevalence in various environmental intolerances. The Environmental Hypersensitivity Symptom Inventory (EHSI) was therefore developed and metrically evaluated, and normative data were established. The EHSI consists of 34 symptom items, requires limited time to respond to, and provides a detailed and broad description of the individual’s symptomology.
Data from 3406 individuals who took part in the Västerbotten Environmental Health Study were used. The participants constitute a random sample of inhabitants in the county of Västerbotten in Sweden, aged 18 to 79 years, stratified for age and gender.
Exploratory factor analysis identified five significant factors: airway symptoms (9 items; Kuder-Richardson Formula 20 coefficient, KR-20, of internal consistency = 0.74), skin and eye symptoms (6 items; KR-20 = 0.60), cardiac, dizziness and nausea symptoms (4 items; KR-20 = 0.55), head-related and gastrointestinal symptoms (5 items; KR-20 = 0.55), and cognitive and affective symptoms (10 items; KR-20 = 0.80). The KR-20 was 0.85 for the entire 34-item EHSI. Symptom prevalence rates in percentage for having the specific symptoms every week over the preceding three months constitute normative data.
The EHSI can be recommended for assessment of symptom prevalence in various types of environmental hypersensitivity, and with the advantage of comparing prevalence rates with normality.
PMCID: PMC3716632  PMID: 23837629
Chemical intolerance; Electromagnetic fields; Hyperacusis; Idiopathic environmental intolerance; Prevalence; Sick building syndrome
21.  Obstacles in measles elimination: an in-depth description of a measles outbreak in Ghent, Belgium, spring 2011 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):17.
From Mid-February to April 2011 one of the largest measles-outbreak in Flanders, since the start of the 2-dose vaccination scheme in 1995, took place in Ghent, Belgium. The outbreak started in a day care center, infecting children too young to be vaccinated, after which it spread to anthroposophic schools with a low measles, mumps and rubella vaccination coverage. This report describes the outbreak and evaluates the control measures and interventions.
Data collection was done through the system of mandatory notification of the public health authority. Vaccination coverage in the schools was assessed by a questionnaire and the electronic immunization database ‘Vaccinnet’. A case was defined as anyone with laboratory confirmed measles or with clinical symptoms and an epidemiological link to a laboratory confirmed case. Towards the end of the outbreak we only sought laboratory confirmation for persons with an atypical clinical presentation or without an epidemiological link. In search for an index patient we determined the measles IgG level of infants from the day care center.
A total of 65 cases were reported of which 31 were laboratory confirmed. Twenty-five were confirmed by PCR and/or IgM. In 6 infants, too young to be vaccinated, only elevated measles IgG levels were found. Most cases (72%) were young children (0–9 years old). All but two cases were completely unimmunized. In the day care center all the infants who were too young to be vaccinated (N=14) were included as cases. Thirteen of them were laboratory confirmed. Eight of these infants were hospitalized with symptoms suspicious for measles. Vaccination coverage in the affected anthroposophic schools was low, 45-49% of the pupils were unvaccinated. We organized vaccination campaigns in the schools and vaccinated 79 persons (25% of those unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated).
Clustering of unvaccinated persons, in a day care center and in anthroposophic schools, allows for measles outbreaks and is an important obstacle for the elimination of measles. Isolation measures, a vacation period and an immunization campaign limited the spread of measles within the schools but could not prevent further spread among unvaccinated family members. It was necessary to raise clinicians' awareness of measles since it had become a rare, less known disease and went undiagnosed.
PMCID: PMC3716678  PMID: 23834074
Outbreak; Vaccine-preventable-disease; Measles; Immunization registry; Anti-vaccination
22.  Web-based interventions to promote physical activity by older adults: promising perspectives for a public health challenge 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):16.
Regular physical activity is associated with a wide range of health benefits. As population age, promotion of physical activity should specifically target older adults, an expanding group involving potential higher health care costs in the near future. Innovative interventions focusing on physical activity behaviors of senior adults exposed promising results, most recently through the use of the Internet. If seniors and Internet are generally considered as two opposite concepts, arguments in favour of bringing them together in a public health perspective have been identified by the recent literature. Older adults are the fastest growing group of Internet users and are more prone than younger to use it for health-related subjects. Web-based interventions are effective in many health promotion sectors, including physical activity. This is particularly true when interventions target the environmental determinants of each senior citizen and are specifically designed for this population. Those early research findings must clearly be extended, particularly regarding to the long term effects of Web-based physical activity interventions. Solutions that will reduce the high dropout rate recorded in the existing literature must also be considered as a priority in order to ensure the development of this forward-looking field of research.
PMCID: PMC3723485  PMID: 23819885
Physical activity; Web-based intervention; Older adults; Exercise; Internet; Technology; Computer; Physical activity promotion
23.  Ethics, privacy and the legal framework governing medical data: opportunities or threats for biomedical and public health research? 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):15.
Privacy is an important concern in any research programme that deals with personal medical data. In recent years, ethics and privacy have become key considerations when conducting any form of scientific research that involves personal data. These issues are now addressed in healthcare professional training programmes. Indeed, ethics, legal frameworks and privacy are often the subject of much confusion in discussions among healthcare professionals. They tend to group these different concepts under the same heading and delegate responsibility for “ethical” approval of their research programmes to ethics committees. Public health researchers therefore need to ask questions about how changes to legal frameworks and ethical codes governing privacy in the use of personal medical data are to be applied in practice. What types of data do these laws and codes cover? Who is involved? What restrictions and requirements apply to any research programme that involves medical data?
PMCID: PMC3691608  PMID: 23799934
Privacy; Medical data; Ethical considerations; Data analysis
24.  High human exposure to pyrene (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon) in Kinshasa, a capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):14.
Data on human exposure to chemicals in Africa are scarce. A biomonitoring study was conducted in a representative sample of the population in Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) to document exposure to polycyclic aromatics hydrocarbons.
1-hydroxypyrene (1-OHP) was measured by HPLC fluorescence in spot urine samples from 220 individuals (50.5% women), aged 6–70 years living in the urban area and from 50 additional subjects from the sub-rural area of Kinshasa. Data were compiled as geometric means and selected percentiles, expressed without (μg/L) or with creatinine adjustment (μg/g cr). Multiple regression analyses were applied to factors (creatinine, grilled meat habits and smoking habits) influencing 1-OHP (stepwise procedure, criteria: probability F to enter ≤ 0.05 and probability F to remove ≥ 0.10).
According to the regression models, creatinine, grilled meat habits and smoking habits contribute to explain 45% of the variation in population’s urinary 1-OHP by the environmental exposure. Overall, living in urban area of Kinshasa was associated with increased levels of 1-OHP in urine as compared to a population living in the sub-rural area [GM: 1.8 μg/L (n = 220) versus 1.4 μg/L (n = 50), p < 0.01] as well as compared to the reference values from databases involving American or German populations.
This study reveals the high pyrene (PAH) exposure of the Kinshasa population. However, more work, with a rigorous design in the exposed population (monitoring of air concentrations and identifying other sources of pyrene –PAH exposure), is needed to establish further documentation.
PMCID: PMC3691609  PMID: 23782930
Biomonitoring; Environmental pollution; Organic compounds; Public health; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
25.  Malnutrition: Prevalence and its associated factors in People living with HIV/AIDS, in Dilla University Referral Hospital 
Archives of Public Health  2013;71(1):13.
Literatures on prevalence and factors associated with malnutrition among peoples living with HIV/AIDS are limited in Ethiopia and not well documented either. The proper implementation of nutritional support and its integration with the routine highly active antiretroviral therapy package demands a clear picture of the magnitude and associated factors of malnutrition. The objective of this study is, therefore, to assess the prevalence and factors associated with malnutrition among peoples living with HIV/AIDS.
Institution based cross sectional study was conducted in Dilla University referral Hospital including adult HIV patients who were in highly active anti retroviral therapy. Interview administered questionnaires were used to collect data on socio demographic factors. Besides, HIV related clinical information was extracted from anti retro viral therapy data base and clinical charts. The nutritional status of the patients was determined by Body Mass Index (BMI) where BMI < 18kg/m2 was defined as malnutrition according to World Health Organization (WHO). Binary logistic regression was used to assess association between different risk factors and malnutrition. Confidence interval of 95% was considered to see the precision of the study and the level of significance was taken at α <0.05.
A total of 520 patients were included in the analysis. The overall prevalence of malnutrition was 12.3% (95% CI 9.5–15.0). After full control of all variables; unemployment (OR = 3.61, 95% CI: 3.6 − 7.76), WHO clinical stage four (OR = 12.9, 95% CI: 2.49− 15.25), gastrointestinal symptoms (OR = 5.3, 95% CI: 2.56 − 10.78) and previous (one) opportunistic infection (OR = 3.1, 95% CI 2.06 − 5.46), and two & above previous opportunistic infections (OR = 4.5, 95% CI: 3.38 − 10.57) were significantly associated with malnutrition. However, moderately poor economic condition was found to be protective factor for malnutrition (OR = 0.4, 95% CI: 0.14 − 0.95).
Unemployment, WHO clinical AIDS stage four, one & more number of previous opportunistic infections and gastrointestinal symptoms were found to be important risk factors for malnutrition among People Living with HIV/AIDS. From this study it has been learnt that nutritional programs should be an integral part of HIV/AIDS continuum of care. Furthermore, it needs to improve household income of PLHIV with employment opportunity and to engage them in income generating activities as well.
PMCID: PMC3683321  PMID: 23759075
Prevalence; Malnutrition; HIV; Ethiopia; Dilla University Hospital

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