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1.  Vitamin D supplementation for women during pregnancy 
Background
Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is thought to be common among pregnant women. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy has been suggested as an intervention to protect against adverse gestational outcomes.
Objectives
To examine whether supplements with vitamin D alone or in combination with calcium or other vitamins and minerals given to women during pregnancy can safely improve maternal and neonatal outcomes.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 October 2011), the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (31 October 2011), the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (28 October 2011) and also contacted relevant organisations (8 April 2011).
Selection criteria
Randomised and quasi-randomised trials with randomisation at either individual or cluster level, evaluating the effect of supplementation with vitamin D alone or in combination with other micronutrients for women during pregnancy.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently i) assessed the eligibility of studies against the inclusion criteria ii) extracted data from included studies, and iii) assessed the risk of bias of the included studies. Data were checked for accuracy.
Main results
The search strategy identified 34 potentially eligible references. We included six trials assessing a total of 1023 women, excluded eight studies, and 10 studies are still ongoing. Five trials involving 623 women compared the effects of vitamin D alone versus no supplementation/placebo and one trial with 400 women compared the effects of vitamin D and calcium versus no supplementation.
Only one trial with 400 women reported on pre-eclampsia: women who received 1200 IU vitamin D along with 375 mg of elemental calcium per day were as likely to develop pre-eclampsia as women who received no supplementation (average risk ratio (RR) 0.67; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.33 to 1.35). Data from four trials involving 414 women consistently show that women who received vitamin D supplements had higher concentrations of vitamin D in serum at term than those women who received no intervention or a placebo; however the magnitude of the response was highly heterogenous.
Data from three trials involving 463 women suggest that women who receive vitamin D supplements during pregnancy less frequently had a baby with a birthweight below 2500 grams than those women receiving no treatment or placebo; statistical significance was borderline (RR 0.48; 95% CI 0.23 to 1.01).
In terms of other conditions, there were no significant differences in adverse side effects including nephritic syndrome (RR 0.17; 95% CI 0.01 to 4.06; one trial, 135 women); stillbirths (RR 0.17; 95% CI 0.01 to 4.06; one trial, 135 women) or neonatal deaths (RR 0.17; 95% CI 0.01 to 4.06; one trial, 135 women) between women who received vitamin D supplements in comparison with women who received no treatment or placebo. No studies reported on preterm birth, maternal death, admission to neonatal intensive care unit/special nursery or Apgar scores.
Authors' conclusions
Vitamin D supplementation in a single or continued dose during pregnancy increases serum vitamin D concentrations as measured by 25-hydroxyvitamin D at term. The clinical significance of this finding and the potential use of this intervention as a part of routine antenatal care are yet to be determined as the number of high quality trials and outcomes reported is too limited to draw conclusions on its usefulness and safety. Further rigorous randomised trials are required to evaluate the role of vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008873.pub2
PMCID: PMC3747784  PMID: 22336854
2.  Guidance for Evidence-Informed Policies about Health Systems: Rationale for and Challenges of Guidance Development 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001185.
In the first paper in a three-part series on health systems guidance, Xavier Bosch-Capblanch and colleagues examine how guidance is currently formulated in low- and middle-income countries, and the challenges to developing such guidance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001185
PMCID: PMC3295823  PMID: 22412356
3.  Effectiveness of an e-learning course in evidence-based medicine for foundation (internship) training 
Summary
Aim
To evaluate the educational effectiveness of a clinically integrated e-learning course for teaching basic evidence-based medicine (EBM) among postgraduate medical trainees compared to a traditional lecture-based course of equivalent content.
Methods
We conducted a cluster randomized controlled trial to compare a clinically integrated e-learning EBM course (intervention) to a lecture-based course (control) among postgraduate trainees at foundation or internship level in seven teaching hospitals in the UK West Midlands region. Knowledge gain among participants was measured with a validated instrument using multiple choice questions. Change in knowledge was compared between groups taking into account the cluster design and adjusted for covariates at baseline using generalized estimating equations (GEE) model.
Results
There were seven clusters involving teaching of 237 trainees (122 in the intervention and 115 in the control group). The total number of postgraduate trainees who completed the course was 88 in the intervention group and 72 in the control group. After adjusting for baseline knowledge, there was no difference in the amount of improvement in knowledge of EBM between the two groups. The adjusted post course difference between the intervention group and the control group was only 0.1 scoring points (95% CI −1.2–1.4).
Conclusion
An e-learning course in EBM was as effective in improving knowledge as a standard lecture-based course. The benefits of an e-learning approach need to be considered when planning EBM curricula as it allows standardization of teaching materials and is a potential cost-effective alternative to standard lecture-based teaching.
doi:10.1258/jrsm.2010.100036
PMCID: PMC2895523  PMID: 20522698
4.  A cluster randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the clinically integrated RHL evidence -based medicine course 
Background and objectives
Evidence-based health care requires clinicians to engage with use of evidence in decision-making at the workplace. A learner-centred, problem-based course that integrates e-learning in the clinical setting has been developed for application in obstetrics and gynaecology units. The course content uses the WHO reproductive health library (RHL) as the resource for systematic reviews. This project aims to evaluate a clinically integrated teaching programme for incorporation of evidence provided through the WHO RHL. The hypothesis is that the RHL-EBM (clinically integrated e-learning) course will improve participants' knowledge, skills and attitudes, as well as institutional practice and educational environment, as compared to the use of standard postgraduate educational resources for EBM teaching that are not clinically integrated.
Methods
The study will be a multicentre, cluster randomized controlled trial, carried out in seven countries (Argentina, Brazil, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand), involving 50-60 obstetrics and gynaecology teaching units. The trial will be carried out on postgraduate trainees in the first two years of their training. In the intervention group, trainees will receive the RHL-EBM course. The course consists of five modules, each comprising self-directed e-learning components and clinically related activities, assignments and assessments, coordinated between the facilitator and the postgraduate trainee. The course will take about 12 weeks, with assessments taking place pre-course and 4 weeks post-course. In the control group, trainees will receive electronic, self-directed EBM-teaching materials. All data collection will be online.
The primary outcome measures are gain in EBM knowledge, change in attitudes towards EBM and competencies in EBM measured by multiple choice questions (MCQs) and a skills-assessing questionniare administered eletronically. These questions have been developed by using questions from validated questionnaires and adapting them to the current course. Secondary outcome measure will be educational environment towards EBM which will be assessed by a specifically developed questionnaire.
Expected outcomes
The trial will determine whether the RHL EBM (clinically integrated e-leraning) course will increase knowledge, skills and attitudes towards EBM and improve the educational environment as compared to standard teaching that is not clinically integrated. If effective, the RHL-EBM course can be implemented in teaching institutions worldwide in both, low-and middle income countries as well as industrialized settings. The results will have a broader impact than just EBM training because if the approach is successful then the same educational strategy can be used to target other priority clinical and methodological areas.
Trial Registration
ACTRN12609000198224
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-7-8
PMCID: PMC2880979  PMID: 20470382
5.  The effectiveness of a clinically integrated e-learning course in evidence-based medicine: A cluster randomised controlled trial 
Background
To evaluate the educational effects of a clinically integrated e-learning course for teaching basic evidence-based medicine (EBM) among postgraduates compared to a traditional lecture-based course of equivalent content.
Methods
We conducted a cluster randomised controlled trial in the Netherlands and the UK involving postgraduate trainees in six obstetrics and gynaecology departments. Outcomes (knowledge gain and change in attitude towards EBM) were compared between the clinically integrated e-learning course (intervention) and the traditional lecture based course (control). We measured change from pre- to post-intervention scores using a validated questionnaire assessing knowledge (primary outcome) and attitudes (secondary outcome).
Results
There were six clusters involving teaching of 61 postgraduate trainees (28 in the intervention and 33 in the control group). The intervention group achieved slightly higher scores for knowledge gain compared to the control, but these results were not statistically significant (difference in knowledge gain: 3.5 points, 95% CI -2.7 to 9.8, p = 0.27). The attitudinal changes were similar for both groups.
Conclusion
A clinically integrated e-learning course was at least as effective as a traditional lecture based course and was well accepted. Being less costly than traditional teaching and allowing for more independent learning through materials that can be easily updated, there is a place for incorporating e-learning into postgraduate EBM curricula that offer on-the-job training for just-in-time learning.
Trial registration
Trial registration number: ACTRN12609000022268.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-21
PMCID: PMC2688004  PMID: 19435520
6.  Harmonising Evidence-based medicine teaching: a study of the outcomes of e-learning in five European countries 
Background
We developed and evaluated the outcomes of an e-learning course for evidence based medicine (EBM) training in postgraduate medical education in different languages and settings across five European countries.
Methods
We measured changes in knowledge and attitudes with well-developed assessment tools before and after administration of the course. The course consisted of five e-learning modules covering acquisition (formulating a question and search of the literature), appraisal, application and implementation of findings from systematic reviews of therapeutic interventions, each with interactive audio-visual learning materials of 15 to 20 minutes duration. The modules were prepared in English, Spanish, German and Hungarian. The course was delivered to 101 students from different specialties in Germany (psychiatrists), Hungary (mixture of specialties), Spain (general medical practitioners), Switzerland (obstetricians-gynaecologists) and the UK (obstetricians-gynaecologists). We analysed changes in scores across modules and countries.
Results
On average across all countries, knowledge scores significantly improved from pre- to post-course for all five modules (p < 0.001). The improvements in scores were on average 1.87 points (14% of total score) for module 1, 1.81 points (26% of total score) for module 2, 1.9 points (11% of total score) for module 3, 1.9 points (12% of total score) for module 4 and 1.14 points (14% of total score) for module 5. In the country specific analysis, knowledge gain was not significant for module 4 in Spain, Switzerland and the UK, for module 3 in Spain and Switzerland and for module 2 in Spain. Compared to pre-course assessment, after completing the course participants felt more confident that they can assess research evidence and that the healthcare system in their country should have its own programme of research about clinical effectiveness.
Conclusion
E-learning in EBM can be harmonised for effective teaching and learning in different languages, educational settings and clinical specialties, paving the way for development of an international e-EBM course.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-27
PMCID: PMC2386125  PMID: 18442424
7.  A clinically integrated curriculum in Evidence-based Medicine for just-in-time learning through on-the-job training: The EU-EBM project 
Background
Over the last years key stake holders in the healthcare sector have increasingly recognised evidence based medicine (EBM) as a means to improving the quality of healthcare. However, there is considerable uncertainty about the best way to disseminate basic knowledge of EBM. As a result, huge variation in EBM educational provision, setting, duration, intensity, content, and teaching methodology exists across Europe and worldwide. Most courses for health care professionals are delivered outside the work context ('stand alone') and lack adaptation to the specific needs for EBM at the learners' workplace. Courses with modern 'adaptive' EBM teaching that employ principles of effective continuing education might fill that gap. We aimed to develop a course for post-graduate education which is clinically integrated and allows maximum flexibility for teachers and learners.
Methods
A group of experienced EBM teachers, clinical epidemiologists, clinicians and educationalists from institutions from eight European countries participated. We used an established methodology of curriculum development to design a clinically integrated EBM course with substantial components of e-learning. An independent European steering committee provided input into the process.
Results
We defined explicit learning objectives about knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour for the five steps of EBM. A handbook guides facilitator and learner through five modules with clinical and e-learning components. Focussed activities and targeted assignments round off the learning process, after which each module is formally assessed.
Conclusion
The course is learner-centred, problem-based, integrated with activities in the workplace and flexible. When successfully implemented, the course is designed to provide just-in-time learning through on-the-job-training, with the potential for teaching and learning to directly impact on practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-46
PMCID: PMC2228282  PMID: 18042271
8.  Reproductive health research challenges 
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-1-2
PMCID: PMC483075  PMID: 15357864
9.  Effectiveness and acceptability of progestogens in combined oral contraceptives – a systematic review 
Background
The progestogen component of oral contraceptives (OCs) has undergone changes since it was recognized that their chemical structure can influence the spectrum of minor adverse and beneficial effects.
Methods
The objective of this review was to evaluate currently available low-dose OCs containing ethinylestradiol and different progestogens in terms of contraceptive effectiveness, cycle control, side effects and continuation rates. The Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched. Randomized trials reporting clinical outcomes were considered for inclusion and were assessed for methodological quality and validity.
Results
Twenty–two trials were included in the review. Eighteen were sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and in only 5 there was an attempt for blinding. Most comparisons between different interventions included one to three trials, involving usually less than 500 women. Discontinuation was less with second-generation progestogens compared to first–generation (RR 0.79; 95% CI 0.69–0.91). Cycle control appeared to be better with second-compared to first-generation progestogens for both, mono-and triphasic preparations (RR 0.69; 95% CI 0.52–0.91) and (RR 0.61; 95% CI 0.43–0.85), respectively. Intermenstrual bleeding was less with third- compared to second-generation pills (RR 0.71; 95% CI 0.55–0.91).
Contraceptive effectiveness of gestodene (GSD) was comparable to that of levonorgestrel (LNG), and had similar pattern of spotting, breakthrough bleeding and absence of withdrawal bleeding). Drospirenone (DRSP) was similar compared to desogestrel (DSG) regarding contraceptive effectiveness, cycle control and side effects.
Conclusion
The third- and second-generation progestogens are preferred over first generation in all indices of acceptability. Current evidence suggests that GSD is comparable to LNG in terms of contraceptive effectiveness and for most cycle control indices. GSD is also comparable to DSG. DRSP is comparable to DSG. Future research should focus on independently conducted well designed randomized trials comparing particularly the third- with second-generation progestogens.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-1-1
PMCID: PMC483073  PMID: 15357865

Results 1-9 (9)