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1.  Longitudinal, mixed method study to look at the experiences and knowledge of non melanoma skin cancer from diagnosis to one year 
BMC Dermatology  2013;13:13.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in humans and the incidence is increasing worldwide. Our objective was to understanding the needs, experiences and knowledge of individuals with Non Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC) from diagnosis up until one year.
Patients with NMSC completed questionnaires at diagnosis, treatment, 8 weeks post treatment and 12 months post diagnosis. Body image, psychological morbidity and Quality of Life (QOL) were assessed at each time point, with the exception of QOL that was not assessed at diagnosis. Knowledge of NMSC was assessed at baseline and 8 weeks. A sub-sample of participants was also interviewed to allow a more in-depth exploration of patients’ experiences.
76 participants completed the initial questionnaire, of which 15 were interviewed. Patients were anxious about a diagnosis of skin cancer, however they were no more depressed or anxious than the general population. QOL significantly improved from diagnosis to 8 weeks and from diagnosis to one year. Knowledge of NMSC was poor and did not improve after treatment. Hairdressers were highlighted as playing an important role in raising awareness and encouraging individuals to seek medical help. Most participants were aware of the need to check their skin for suspicious lesions but were not sure what to look for. At one year participants had forgotten their experience and were not overly concerned about skin cancer.
There is a need to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of NMSC. Information on skin cancer needs to be tailored to the individual both at the start of treatment and during the follow up months, ensuring that participants’ needs and expectations are met. Targeting education at individuals in the community who regularly come into contact with skin should help in early identification of NMSC. This is important since skin cancer caught early is easily treatable and delay in presentation leads to larger and more complex lesions which impacts in terms of increased morbidity and increased health care costs.
PMCID: PMC3819707  PMID: 24164857
Skin cancer; Non melanoma skin cancer; NMSC; Needs; Experiences; Knowledge
2.  What determines patient preferences for treating low risk basal cell carcinoma when comparing surgery vs imiquimod? A discrete choice experiment survey from the SINS trial 
BMC Dermatology  2012;12:19.
The SINS trial (Controlled Clinical Trials ISRCTN48755084; Eudract No. 2004-004506-24) is a randomised controlled trial evaluating long term success of excisional surgery vs. imiquimod 5% cream for low risk nodular and superficial basal cell carcinoma (BCC). The trial included a discrete choice experiment questionnaire to explore patient preferences of a cream versus surgery for the treatment of their skin cancer.
The self-completed questionnaire was administered at baseline to 183 participants, measuring patients’ strength of preferences when choosing either alternative ‘surgery’ or ‘imiquimod cream’ instead of a fixed ‘current situation’ option (of surgical excision as standard practice in UK). The treatments were described according to: cost, chance of complete clearance, side effects and appearance. Participants had to choose between various scenarios. Analysis was performed using a mixed logit model, which took into account the impact of previous BCC treatment and sample preference variability.
The analysis showed that respondents preferred ‘imiquimod cream’ to their ‘current situation’ or ‘surgery’, regardless of previous experience of BCC symptoms and treatment. Respondents were more likely to be worried about their cosmetic outcomes and side effects they might experience over and above their chance of clearance and cost. Those with no experience of surgery (compared with experience) valued more the choice of ‘imiquimod cream’ (£1013 vs £781). All treatment characteristics were significant determinants of treatment choice, and there was significant variability in the population preferences for all of them.
Patients with BCC valued more ‘imiquimod cream’ than alternative ‘surgery’ options, and all treatment characteristics were important for their choice of care. Understanding how people with a BCC value alternative interventions may better inform the development of health care interventions.
PMCID: PMC3532314  PMID: 23035730
Patient preferences; Discrete choice; Willingness to pay; Nodular and superficial basal cell carcinoma; Surgery; Imiquimod cream
3.  Teaching tools in Evidence Based Practice: evaluation of reusable learning objects (RLOs) for learning about Meta-analysis 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:18.
All healthcare students are taught the principles of evidence based practice on their courses. The ability to understand the procedures used in systematically reviewing evidence reported in studies, such as meta-analysis, are an important element of evidence based practice. Meta-analysis is a difficult statistical concept for healthcare students to understand yet it is an important technique used in systematic reviews to pool data from studies to look at combined effectiveness of treatments. In other areas of the healthcare curricula, by supplementing lectures, workbooks and workshops with pedagogically designed, multimedia learning objects (known as reusable learning objects or RLOs) we have shown an improvement in students' perceived understanding in subjects they found difficult. In this study we describe the development and evaluation of two RLOs on meta-analysis. The RLOs supplement associated lectures and aim to improve students' understanding of meta-analysis in healthcare students.
Following a quality controlled design process two RLOs were developed and delivered to two cohorts of students, a Master in Public Health course and Postgraduate diploma in nursing course. Students' understanding of five key concepts of Meta-analysis were measured before and after a lecture and again after RLO use. RLOs were also evaluated for their educational value, learning support, media attributes and usability using closed and open questions.
Students rated their understanding of meta-analysis as improved after a lecture and further improved after completing the RLOs (Wilcoxon paired test, p < 0.01 in all cases) Whilst the media components of the RLOs such as animations helped most students (86%) understand concepts including for example Forest plots, 93% of students rated usability and control as important to their learning. A small number of students stated they needed the support of a lecturer alongside the RLOs (7% 'Agreed' and 21% 'Neutral').
Meta-analysis RLOs that are openly accessible and unrestricted by usernames and passwords provide flexible support for students who find the process of meta-analysis difficult.
PMCID: PMC3123313  PMID: 21542905
4.  The SINS trial: A randomised controlled trial of excisional surgery versus imiquimod 5% cream for nodular and superficial basal cell carcinoma 
Trials  2010;11:42.
Basal cell carcinoma is the commonest human cancer. Despite increasing incidence it remains poorly researched. While not life threatening it can cause significant cosmetic disfigurement. Imiquimod, a cream which enhances the body's immune response, may help deal with the number of cases that occur in low-risk sites, especially when good cosmetic results and home use without surgery are needed.
This study aims 1. To compare excisional surgery with imiquimod cream for nodular or superficial basal cell carcinoma in low risk sites, with respect to 3 year clinical clearance, cost-effectiveness and cosmetic results. 2. To ascertain if certain phenotypic features and gene polymorphisms predict tumour responsiveness to treatment.
Five hundred participants with low risk nodular or superficial basal cell carcinoma will be recruited from hospitals to this multi-centre, randomised, parallel group, controlled phase III trial. Treatment in the imiquimod group is for 6 weeks for superficial basal cell carcinoma and 12 weeks for nodular basal cell carcinoma. Both treatment groups are followed up in clinic for 3 years. Primary outcome variable: the proportion of participants with clinical evidence of success (no recurrence) at 3 years. The primary outcome will be compared between the two treatment groups. Secondary outcomes include: i) clinical success at 1, 2 and 5 years, ii) time to first recurrence, iii) cosmetic appearance of lesion site after treatment, iv) level of pain, and v) cost-effectiveness. Safety and tolerability data will also be reported.
This study protocol describes a pragmatic randomised controlled trial which it is hoped will address the above uncertainties. Three-year results will be available towards the end of 2010.
Trial registration
Meta-register: NCT00066872, Eudract No. 2004-004506-24, ISRCTN48755084.
PMCID: PMC2877028  PMID: 20409337
5.  Eczema (atopic) 
Clinical Evidence  2006;2006:1716.
Atopic eczema affects 15-20% of schoolchildren worldwide and 2-10% of adults. Only about 60% of people with eczema demonstrate atopy, with specific immunoglobulin E responses to allergens.
Methods and outcomes
We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of self-care treatments, topical medical treatments, and dietary interventions in adults and children with established atopic eczema? What are the effects of breast feeding as a primary preventive intervention in predisposed infants? What are the effects of reducing allergens as a primary preventive intervention in predisposed infants? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to September 2006 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
We found 33 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.
In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: breast feeding, controlling house dust mites, corticosteroids, dietary exclusion of eggs or cows' milk, elemental diets, emollients, essential fatty oils, few-foods diet, multivitamins, pimecrolimus, probiotics, pyridoxine, reducing maternal dietary allergens, tacrolimus, vitamin E, and zinc supplements.
Key Points
Atopic eczema affects 15-20% of schoolchildren worldwide and 2-10% of adults. Only about 60% of people with eczema demonstrate atopy, with specific immunoglobulin E responses to allergens. Remission occurs in two thirds of children by the age of 15 years, but relapses may occur later.
There is a consensus that emollients are effective for treating the symptoms of atopic eczema, although little high quality research has been done to confirm this.
Corticosteroids improve clearance of lesions and decrease relapse rates compared with placebo, although we don't know which is the most effective corticosteroid or dosing regimen. Topical corticosteroids seem to have few adverse effects, but may cause burning, skin thinning and telangiectasia, especially in children.
Pimecrolimus and tacrolimus improve clearance of lesions compared with placebo and may have a role in people with a high risk of corticosteroid adverse effects.
CAUTION: An association has been suggested between pimecrolimus and tacrolimus and skin cancer. They should be used only where other treatments have failed.
We don't know whether vitamin E, pyridoxine, zinc supplementation, exclusion or elemental diets or probiotics reduce symptoms in atopic eczema, as there are insufficient good quality studies. Essential fatty acids such as evening primrose oil, blackcurrant seed oil or fish oil do not seem to reduce symptoms in atopic eczema.
We don't know whether prolonged breast feeding, reducing maternal dietary allergens, or control of house dust mites, can prevent the development of atopic eczema in children. Early introduction of probiotics in the last trimester of pregnancy and during breastfeeding may reduce the risk of atopic eczema in the baby.
PMCID: PMC2907628
6.  Pharmacology education for nurse prescribing students – a lesson in reusable learning objects 
BMC Nursing  2008;7:2.
The shift away from a biological science to a social science model of nursing care has resulted in a reduction in pharmacology knowledge and understanding in pre-registration nursing students. This has a significant impact on nurse prescribing training where pharmacology is a critical component of the course from a patient safety perspective.
Reusable learning objects (RLOs) are electronic resources based on a single learning objective which use high quality graphics and audio to help engagement with the material and to facilitate learning. This study used questionnaire data from three successive cohorts of nurse prescribing students (n = 84) to evaluate the use of RLOs focussed around pharmacology concepts to promote the understanding of these concepts in students. A small number of students (n = 10) were followed up by telephone interview one year after qualification to gain further insight into students' perceptions of the value of RLOs as an educational tool.
Students' perceptions of their own understanding of pharmacology concepts increased substantially following the introduction of RLOs to supplement the pharmacology component of the course. Student evaluation of the RLOs themselves was extremely positive with a number of students continuing to access these tools post-qualification.
The use of RLOs to support the pharmacology component of nurse prescribing courses successfully resulted in a perceived increase in pharmacology understanding, with some students directly implicating these educational tools in developing confidence in their own prescribing abilities.
PMCID: PMC2263034  PMID: 18215261
7.  Interventions for basal cell carcinoma of the skin: systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7468):705.
Objectives To assess the effects of treatments for basal cell carcinoma.
Methods Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
Main outcome measure Recurrence of basal cell carcinoma at three years or beyond, assessed clinically.
Studies reviewed Randomised controlled trials of interventions for histologically confirmed basal cell carcinoma (published and unpublished material; no language restrictions).
Results 25 studies were identified, covering seven therapeutic categories. Only one study of surgical excision versus radiotherapy contained primary outcome data, which showed significantly more persistent tumours and recurrences in the radiotherapy group compared with surgery (odds ratio 0.09, 95% confidence interval 0.01 to 0.67). One study compared cryotherapy with surgery, with inconclusive results at one year. In a comparison of radiotherapy with cryotherapy, significantly more recurrences occurred at one year in the cryotherapy group. Preliminary studies suggest a short term success rate of 87-88% for imiquimod cream in the treatment of superficial basal cell carcinoma, although this cream has not been compared with surgery. No consistent evidence was found for the other treatment modalities.
Conclusions Little good quality research has been done on the treatments used for the most common cancer in humans. Most trials have included only people with basal cell carcinoma occurring at low risk sites. Only one trial measured recurrence at four years; recurrence rates at one year should be interpreted with caution. Surgery and radiotherapy seem to be the most effective treatments; surgery showed the lowest failure rates. Other treatments might have some use but need to be compared with surgery.
PMCID: PMC518891  PMID: 15364703
8.  Interventions for non-metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the skin: systematic review and pooled analysis of observational studies 
Objectives To assess the effects of treatments for non-metastatic invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin using evidence from observational studies, given the paucity of evidence from randomised controlled trials.
Design Systematic review of observational studies.
Data sources Medline, Embase, to December 2012.
Review methods Observational studies of interventions for primary, non-metastatic, invasive, SCC of the skin that reported recurrence during follow-up, quality of life, initial response to treatment, adverse events, cosmetic appearance, or death from disease. Studies were excluded if data for primary cutaneous SCC was not separable from other data. Data were extracted independently by two reviewers. Meta-analysis was performed where appropriate using a random effects model to estimate the pooled proportion of an event with 95% confidence intervals.
Results 118 publications were included, covering seven treatment modalities. Pooled estimates of recurrence of SCCs were lowest after cryotherapy (0.8% (95% confidence interval 0.1% to 2%)) and curettage and electrodesiccation (1.7% (0.5% to 3.4%)), but most treated SCCs were small, low risk lesions. After Mohs micrographic surgery, the pooled estimate of local recurrence during variable follow-up periods from 10 studies was 3.0% (2.2% to 3.9%), which was non-significantly lower than the pooled average local recurrence of 5.4% (2.5% to 9.1%) after standard surgical excision (12 studies), and 6.4% (3.0% to 11.0%) after external radiotherapy (7 studies). After an apparently successful initial response of SCCs to photodynamic therapy, pooled average recurrence of 26.4% (12.3% to 43.7%; 8 studies) was significantly higher than other treatments. Evidence was limited for laser treatment (1 study) and for topical and systemic treatments (mostly single case reports or small non-comparative series with limited follow-up).
Conclusions Many observational studies have looked at different treatment modalities for SCC, but the evidence base for the effectiveness of these interventions is poor. Comparison of outcomes after different treatments should be interpreted cautiously owing to biases inherent in the types of study included, and lack of direct comparisons to enable the estimation of relative treatment effect. Further evidence is needed to develop a prognostic model and stratify individuals at high risk of developing SCC, to improve the evidence base for this common cancer and to optimise clinical management.
Protocol registration International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) registration number CRD42011001450.
PMCID: PMC3816607  PMID: 24191270

Results 1-8 (8)