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1.  A comparison of clinical officers with medical doctors on outcomes of caesarean section in the developing world: meta-analysis of controlled studies 
Objective To review the effectiveness and safety of clinical officers (healthcare providers trained to perform tasks usually undertaken by doctors) carrying out caesarean section in developing countries compared with doctors.
Design Systematic review with meta-analysis.
Data sources Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, BioMed Central, the Reproductive Health Library, and the Science Citation Index (inception-2010) without language restriction.
Study selection Controlled studies.
Data extraction Information was extracted from each selected article on study characteristics, quality, and outcome data. Two independent reviewers extracted data.
Results Six non-randomised controlled studies (16 018 women) evaluated the effectiveness of clinical officers carrying out caesarean section. Meta-analysis found no significant differences between the clinical officers and doctors for maternal death (odds ratio 1.46, 95% confidence interval 0.78 to 2.75; P=0.24) or for perinatal death (1.31, 0.87 to 1.95; P=0.19). The results were heterogeneous, with some studies reporting a higher incidence of both outcomes with clinical officers. Clinical officers were associated with a higher incidence of wound infection (1.58, 1.01 to 2.47; P=0.05) and wound dehiscence (1.89, 1.21 to 2.95; P=0.005). Two studies accounted for confounding factors.
Conclusion Clinical officers and doctors did not differ significantly in key outcomes for caesarean section, but the conclusions are tentative owing to the non-randomised nature of the studies. The increase in wound infection and dehiscence may highlight a particular training need for clinical officers.
PMCID: PMC3272986  PMID: 21571914
2.  Association between thyroid autoantibodies and miscarriage and preterm birth: meta-analysis of evidence 
Objectives To evaluate the association between thyroid autoantibodies and miscarriage and preterm birth in women with normal thyroid function. To assess the effect of treatment with levothyroxine on pregnancy outcomes in this group of women.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, and SCISEARCH (inception-2011) without any language restrictions. We used a combination of key words to generate two subsets of citations, one indexing thyroid autoantibodies and the other indexing the outcomes of miscarriage and preterm birth.
Study selection Studies that evaluated the association between thyroid autoantibodies and pregnancy outcomes were selected in a two stage process. Two reviewers selected studies that met the predefined and explicit criteria regarding population, tests, and outcomes.
Data synthesis Odds ratios from individual studies were pooled separately for cohort and case-control studies with the random effects model.
Results 30 articles with 31 studies (19 cohort and 12 case-control) involving 12 126 women assessed the association between thyroid autoantibodies and miscarriage. Five studies with 12 566 women evaluated the association with preterm birth. Of the 31 studies evaluating miscarriage, 28 showed a positive association between thyroid autoantibodies and miscarriage. Meta-analysis of the cohort studies showed more than tripling in the odds of miscarriage with the presence of thyroid autoantibodies (odds ratio 3.90, 95% confidence interval 2.48 to 6.12; P<0.001). For case-control studies the odds ratio for miscarriage was 1.80, 1.25 to 2.60; P=0.002). There was a significant doubling in the odds of preterm birth with the presence of thyroid autoantibodies (2.07, 1.17 to 3.68; P=0.01). Two randomised studies evaluated the effect of treatment with levothyroxine on miscarriage. Both showed a fall in miscarriage rates, and meta-analysis showed a significant 52% relative risk reduction in miscarriages with levothyroxine (relative risk 0.48, 0.25 to 0.92; P=0.03). One study reported on the effect of levothyroxine on the rate of preterm birth, and noted a 69% relative risk reduction (0.31, 0.11 to 0.90).
Conclusion The presence of maternal thyroid autoantibodies is strongly associated with miscarriage and preterm delivery. There is evidence that treatment with levothyroxine can attenuate the risks.
PMCID: PMC3089879  PMID: 21558126
3.  How are "teaching the teachers" courses in evidence based medicine evaluated? A systematic review 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:64.
Teaching of evidence-based medicine (EBM) has become widespread in medical education. Teaching the teachers (TTT) courses address the increased teaching demand and the need to improve effectiveness of EBM teaching. We conducted a systematic review of assessment tools for EBM TTT courses. To summarise and appraise existing assessment methods for teaching the teachers courses in EBM by a systematic review.
We searched PubMed, BioMed, EmBase, Cochrane and Eric databases without language restrictions and included articles that assessed its participants. Study selection and data extraction were conducted independently by two reviewers.
Of 1230 potentially relevant studies, five papers met the selection criteria. There were no specific assessment tools for evaluating effectiveness of EBM TTT courses. Some of the material available might be useful in initiating the development of such an assessment tool.
There is a need for the development of educationally sound assessment tools for teaching the teachers courses in EBM, without which it would be impossible to ascertain if such courses have the desired effect.
PMCID: PMC2958160  PMID: 20920240
4.  Accuracy of pulse oximetry in screening for congenital heart disease in asymptomatic newborns: a systematic review 
To evaluate the accuracy of pulse oximetry as a screening tool for congenital heart disease in asymptomatic newborns.
Design, data sources and methods
Systematic review of relevant studies identified through MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, MEDION, and bibliographies of retrieved primary and review articles. Two reviewers independently extracted data on study characteristics, quality and results to construct 2×2 tables with congenital heart disease as the reference standard. A random‐effects bivariate model was used to meta‐analyse estimates of sensitivity and specificity. Logit pairs of sensitivity and specificity of each study were analysed in a single model, accounting for their correlation due to differences in threshold between studies.
Eight studies were included with a total of 35 960 newborns. Pulse oximetry was performed on asymptomatic newborns in all studies; three studies excluding newborns with an antenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease. Either functional or fractional oxygen saturation was measured by pulse oximetry with oxygen saturation below 95% as the cut‐off level in most studies. On the basis of the eight studies, the summary estimates of sensitivity and specificity were 63% (95% CI 39% to 83%) and 99.8% (95% CI 99% to 100%), respectively, yielding a false positive rate of 0.2% (95% CI 0% to 1%).
Pulse oximetry was found to be highly specific tool with very low false positive rates to detect congenital heart disease. Large, well‐conducted prospective studies are needed to assess its sensitivity with higher precision.
PMCID: PMC2675324  PMID: 17344253
clinical epidemiology; congenital heart disease; newborns; pulse oximetry; screening
5.  Teaching trainers to incorporate evidence-based medicine (EBM) teaching in clinical practice: the EU-EBM project 
Evidence based medicine (EBM) is considered an integral part of medical training, but integration of teaching various EBM steps in everyday clinical practice is uncommon. Currently EBM is predominantly taught through theoretical courses, workshops and e-learning. However, clinical teachers lack confidence in teaching EBM in workplace and are often unsure of the existing opportunities for teaching EBM in the clinical setting. There is a need for continuing professional development (CPD) courses that train clinical trainers to teach EBM through on-the-job training by demonstration of applied EBM real time in clinical practice. We developed such a course to encourage clinically relevant teaching of EBM in post-graduate education in various clinical environments.
We devised an e-learning course targeting trainers with EBM knowledge to impart educational methods needed to teach application of EBM teaching in commonly used clinical settings. The curriculum development group comprised experienced EBM teachers, clinical epidemiologists, clinicians and educationalists from institutions in seven European countries. The e-learning sessions were designed to allow participants (teachers) to undertake the course in the workplace during short breaks within clinical activities. An independent European steering committee provided input into the process.
The curriculum defined specific learning objectives for teaching EBM by exploiting educational opportunities in six different clinical settings. The e-modules incorporated video clips that demonstrate practical and effective methods of EBM teaching in everyday clinical practice. The course encouraged focussed teaching activities embedded within a trainer's personal learning plan and documentation in a CPD portfolio for reflection.
This curriculum will help senior clinicians to identify and make the best use of available opportunities in everyday practice in clinical situations to teach various steps of EBM and demonstrate their applicability to clinical practice. Once fully implemented, the ultimate outcome of this pilot project will be a European qualification in teaching EBM, which will be used by doctors, hospitals, professional bodies responsible for postgraduate qualifications and continuing medical education.
PMCID: PMC2753626  PMID: 19744327
6.  Estimation of proteinuria as a predictor of complications of pre-eclampsia: a systematic review 
BMC Medicine  2009;7:10.
Proteinuria is one of the essential criteria for the clinical diagnosis of pre-eclampsia. Increasing levels of proteinuria is considered to be associated with adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. We aim to determine the accuracy with which the amount of proteinuria predicts maternal and fetal complications in women with pre-eclampsia by systematic quantitative review of test accuracy studies.
We conducted electronic searches in MEDLINE (1951 to 2007), EMBASE (1980 to 2007), the Cochrane Library (2007) and the MEDION database to identify relevant articles and hand-search of selected specialist journals and reference lists of articles. There were no language restrictions for any of these searches. Two reviewers independently selected those articles in which the accuracy of proteinuria estimate was evaluated to predict maternal and fetal complications of pre-eclampsia. Data were extracted on study characteristics, quality and accuracy to construct 2 × 2 tables with maternal and fetal complications as reference standards.
Sixteen primary articles with a total of 6749 women met the selection criteria with levels of proteinuria estimated by urine dipstick, 24-hour urine proteinuria or urine protein:creatinine ratio as a predictor of complications of pre-eclampsia. All 10 studies predicting maternal outcomes showed that proteinuria is a poor predictor of maternal complications in women with pre-eclampsia. Seventeen studies used laboratory analysis and eight studies bedside analysis to assess the accuracy of proteinuria in predicting fetal and neonatal complications. Summary likelihood ratios of positive and negative tests for the threshold level of 5 g/24 h were 2.0 (95% CI 1.5, 2.7) and 0.53 (95% CI 0.27, 1) for stillbirths, 1.5 (95% CI 0.94, 2.4) and 0.73 (95% CI 0.39, 1.4) for neonatal deaths and 1.5 (95% 1, 2) and 0.78 (95% 0.64, 0.95) for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit admission.
Measure of proteinuria is a poor predictor of either maternal or fetal complications in women with pre-eclampsia.
PMCID: PMC2670320  PMID: 19317889
7.  Tests for predicting complications of pre-eclampsia: A protocol for systematic reviews 
Pre-eclampsia is associated with several complications. Early prediction of complications and timely management is needed for clinical care of these patients to avert fetal and maternal mortality and morbidity. There is a need to identify best testing strategies in pre eclampsia to identify the women at increased risk of complications. We aim to determine the accuracy of various tests to predict complications of pre-eclampsia by systematic quantitative reviews.
We performed extensive search in MEDLINE (1951–2004), EMBASE (1974–2004) and also will also include manual searches of bibliographies of primary and review articles. An initial search has revealed 19500 citations. Two reviewers will independently select studies and extract data on study characteristics, quality and accuracy. Accuracy data will be used to construct 2 × 2 tables. Data synthesis will involve assessment for heterogeneity and appropriately pooling of results to produce summary Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) curve and summary likelihood ratios.
This review will generate predictive information and integrate that with therapeutic effectiveness to determine the absolute benefit and harm of available therapy in reducing complications in women with pre-eclampsia.
PMCID: PMC2553049  PMID: 18694494
8.  A review of the methodological features of systematic reviews in maternal medicine 
BMC Medicine  2007;5:10.
In maternal medicine, research evidence is scattered making it difficult to access information for clinical decision making. Systematic reviews of good methodological quality are essential to provide valid inferences and to produce usable evidence summaries to guide management. This review assesses the methodological features of existing systematic reviews in maternal medicine, comparing Cochrane and non-Cochrane reviews in maternal medicine.
Medline, Embase, Database of Reviews of Effectiveness (DARE) and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) were searched for relevant reviews published between 2001 and 2006. We selected those reviews in which a minimum of two databases were searched and the primary outcome was related to the maternal condition. The selected reviews were assessed for information on framing of question, literature search and methods of review.
Out of 2846 citations, 68 reviews were selected. Among these, 39 (57%) were Cochrane reviews. Most of the reviews (50/68, 74%) evaluated therapeutic interventions. Overall, 54/68 (79%) addressed a focussed question. Although 64/68 (94%) reviews had a detailed search description, only 17/68 (25%) searched without language restriction. 32/68 (47%) attempted to include unpublished data and 11/68 (16%) assessed for the risk of missing studies quantitatively. The reviews had deficiencies in the assessment of validity of studies and exploration for heterogeneity. When compared to Cochrane reviews, other reviews were significantly inferior in specifying questions (OR 20.3, 95% CI 1.1–381.3, p = 0.04), framing focussed questions (OR 30.9, 95% CI 3.7- 256.2, p = 0.001), use of unpublished data (OR 5.6, 95% CI 1.9–16.4, p = 0.002), assessment for heterogeneity (OR 38.1, 95%CI 2.1, 688.2, p = 0.01) and use of meta-analyses (OR 3.7, 95% CI 1.3–10.8, p = 0.02).
This study identifies areas which have a strong influence on maternal morbidity and mortality but lack good quality systematic reviews. Overall quality of the existing systematic reviews was variable. Cochrane reviews were of better quality as compared to other reviews. There is a need for good quality systematic reviews to inform practice in maternal medicine.
PMCID: PMC1910604  PMID: 17524137

Results 1-8 (8)