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1.  Spatial variation of heart failure and air pollution in Warwickshire, UK: an investigation of small scale variation at the ward-level 
BMJ Open  2014;4(12):e006028.
To map using geospatial modelling techniques the morbidity and mortality caused by heart failure within Warwickshire to characterise and quantify any influence of air pollution on these risks.
Warwickshire, UK.
Data from all of the 105 current Warwickshire County wards were collected on hospital admissions and deaths due to heart failure.
In multivariate analyses, the presence of higher mono-nitrogen oxide (NOx) in a ward (3.35:1.89, 4.99), benzene (Ben) (31.9:8.36, 55.85) and index of multiple deprivation (IMD; 0.02: 0.01, 0.03), were consistently associated with a higher risk of heart failure morbidity. Particulate matter (Pm; −12.93: −20.41, −6.54) was negatively associated with the risk of heart failure morbidity. No association was found between sulfur dioxide (SO2) and heart failure morbidity. The risk of heart failure mortality was higher in wards with a higher NOx (4.30: 1.68, 7.37) and wards with more inhabitants 50+ years old (1.60: 0.47, 2.92). Pm was negatively associated (−14.69: −23.46, −6.50) with heart failure mortality. SO2, Ben and IMD scores were not associated with heart failure mortality. There was a prominent variation in heart failure morbidity and mortality risk across wards, the highest risk being in the regions around Nuneaton and Bedworth.
This study showed distinct spatial patterns in heart failure morbidity and mortality, suggesting the potential role of environmental factors beyond individual-level risk factors. Air pollution levels should therefore be taken into account when considering the wider determinants of public health and the impact that changes in air pollution might have on the health of a population.
PMCID: PMC4256640  PMID: 25468504
2.  Selenium supplementation for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease 
This is the protocol for a review and there is no abstract. The objectives are as follows:
The primary objective is to determine the effectiveness of selenium only supplementation for the primary prevention of CVD. We will also determine potential adverse effects of selenium only supplementation on major CVD risk factors, such as blood pressure, blood lipids and type 2 diabetes. Results will be stratified by baseline selenium status and country where possible, as well as by selenium dosage.
PMCID: PMC4176632  PMID: 25267917
3.  Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables for the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases 
This is the protocol for a review and there is no abstract. The objectives are as follows:
The primary objective is to determine the effectiveness of i) advice to increase fruit and vegetable consumption ii) the provision of fruit and vegetables to increase consumption, for the primary prevention of CVD.
PMCID: PMC4176664  PMID: 25267919
4.  ‘Mediterranean’ dietary pattern for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease 
This is the protocol for a review and there is no abstract. The objectives are as follows:
The primary objective is to determine the effectiveness of dietary advice to follow a Mediterranean style diet or the provision of foods relevant to the Mediterranean diet for the primary prevention of CVD.
PMCID: PMC4176656  PMID: 25267918
5.  Retrospective Review of the Drop in Observer Detection Performance Over Time in Lesion-enriched Experimental Studies 
Journal of Digital Imaging  2014;28(1):32-40.
The vigilance decrement describes a decrease in sensitivity or increase in specificity with time on task. It has been observed in a variety of repetitive visual tasks, but little is known about these patterns in radiologists. We investigated whether there is systematic variation in performance over the course of a radiology reading session. We re-analyzed data from six previous lesion-enriched radiology studies. Studies featured 8–22 participants assessing 27–100 cases (including mammograms, chest CT, chest x-ray, and bone x-ray) in a reading session. Changes in performance and speed as the reading session progressed were analyzed using mixed effects models. Time taken per case decreased 9–23 % as the reading session progressed (p < 0.005 for every study). There was a sensitivity decrease or specificity increase over the course of reading 100 chest x-rays (p = 0.005), 60 bone fracture x-rays (p = 0.03), and 100 chest CT scans (p < 0.0001). This effect was not found in the shorter mammography sessions with 27 or 50 cases. We found evidence supporting the hypothesis that behavior and performance may change over the course of reading an enriched test set. Further research is required to ascertain whether this effect is present in radiological practice.
PMCID: PMC4305061  PMID: 25005866
Observer performance evaluation; Fatigue; Radiologist; Vigilance; Prevalence
6.  Total Hip Replacement for the Treatment of End Stage Arthritis of the Hip: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e99804.
Evolvements in the design, fixation methods, size, and bearing surface of implants for total hip replacement (THR) have led to a variety of options for healthcare professionals to consider. The need to determine the most optimal combinations of THR implant is warranted. This systematic review evaluated the clinical effectiveness of different types of THR used for the treatment of end stage arthritis of the hip.
A comprehensive literature search was undertaken in major health databases. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews published from 2008 onwards comparing different types of primary THR in patients with end stage arthritis of the hip were included.
Fourteen RCTs and five systematic reviews were included. Patients experienced significant post-THR improvements in Harris Hip scores, but this did not differ between impact types. There was a reduced risk of implant dislocation after receiving a larger femoral head size (36 mm vs. 28 mm; RR = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.04, 0.78) or cemented cup (vs. cementless cup; pooled odds ratio: 0.34, 95% CI: 0.13, 0.89). Recipients of cross-linked vs. conventional polyethylene cup liners experienced reduced femoral head penetration and revision. There was no impact of femoral stem fixation and cup shell design on implant survival rates. Evidence on mortality and complications (aseptic loosening, femoral fracture) was inconclusive.
The majority of evidence was inconclusive due to poor reporting, missing data, or uncertainty in treatment estimates. The findings warrant cautious interpretation given the risk of bias (blinding, attrition), methodological limitations (small sample size, low event counts, short follow-up), and poor reporting. Long-term pragmatic RCTs are needed to allow for more definitive conclusions. Authors are encouraged to specify the minimal clinically important difference and power calculation for their primary outcome(s) as well CONSORT, PRISMA and STROBE guidelines to ensure better reporting and more reliable production and assessment of evidence.
PMCID: PMC4086719  PMID: 25003202
7.  Coproduction in commissioning decisions: is there an association with decision satisfaction for commissioners working in the NHS? A cross-sectional survey 2010/2011 
BMJ Open  2014;4(6):e004810.
To undertake an assessment of the association between coproduction and satisfaction with decisions made for local healthcare communities.
A coproduction scale was developed and tested to measure individual National Health Service (NHS) commissioners’ satisfaction with commissioning decisions.
11 English Primary Care Trusts in 2010–2011.
Staff employed at NHS band 7 or above involved in commissioning decisions in the NHS. 345/440 (78%) of participants completed part of all of the survey.
Main outcome measure
Reliability and validity of a coproduction scale were assessed using a correlation-based principal component analysis model with direct oblimin rotation. Multilevel modelling was used to predict decision satisfaction.
The analysis revealed that coproduction consisted of three principal components: productive discussion, information and dealing with uncertainty. Higher decision satisfaction was associated with smaller decisions, more productive discussion, decisions where information was readily available to use and those where decision-making tools were more often used.
The research indicated that coproduction may be an important factor for satisfaction with decision-making in the commissioning of healthcare services.
PMCID: PMC4054620  PMID: 24902728
Health Services Administration & Management; Health Services Commissioning; Healthcare Decision Making; Health Services Management ; Health Policy
8.  Safety of 8-aminoquinolines given to people with G6PD deficiency: protocol for systematic review of prospective studies 
BMJ Open  2014;4(5):e004664.
A single dose or short course of primaquine given to people infected with malaria may reduce transmission of Plasmodium falciparum through its effects on gametocytes. Primaquine is also known to cause haemolysis in people with variants of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. The objective of this systematic review was to assess the risk of adverse effects in people with G6PD deficiency given primaquine or other 8-aminoquinoline (8AQ) as a single dose or short course (less than 7 days).
Methods and analysis
We will search the following databases: Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group Specialized Register, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE and LILACS. Prospective cohort studies, randomised and quasi-randomised trials that evaluated 8AQs for whatever reason in adults or children with a known G6PD deficiency will be included. Two authors will independently assess each study for eligibility, risk of bias and extract data.
Ethics and dissemination
This systematic review will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Brief reports of the review findings will be disseminated directly to the appropriate audiences and the WHO Technical Expert Group in Malaria Chemotherapy. As no primary data collection will be undertaken, no additional formal ethical assessment and informed consent are required.
Protocol registration in PROSPERO
The protocol is registered with PROSPERO, registration number CRD42013006518.
PMCID: PMC4024606  PMID: 24833685
Preventive Medicine; Public Health; Infectious Diseases
9.  Clinical effectiveness of manual therapy for the management of musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal conditions: systematic review and update of UK evidence report 
This systematic review updated and extended the "UK evidence report" by Bronfort et al. (Chiropr Osteopath 18:3, 2010) with respect to conditions/interventions that received an 'inconclusive’ or 'negative’ evidence rating or were not covered in the report.
A literature search of more than 10 general medical and specialised databases was conducted in August 2011 and updated in March 2013. Systematic reviews, primary comparative studies and qualitative studies of patients with musculoskeletal or non-musculoskeletal conditions treated with manual therapy and reporting clinical outcomes were included. Study quality was assessed using standardised instruments, studies were summarised, and the results were compared against the evidence ratings of Bronfort. These were either confirmed, updated, or new categories not assessed by Bronfort were added.
25,539 records were found; 178 new and additional studies were identified, of which 72 were systematic reviews, 96 were randomised controlled trials, and 10 were non-randomised primary studies. Most 'inconclusive’ or 'moderate’ evidence ratings of the UK evidence report were confirmed. Evidence ratings changed in a positive direction from inconclusive to moderate evidence ratings in only three cases (manipulation/mobilisation [with exercise] for rotator cuff disorder; spinal mobilisation for cervicogenic headache; and mobilisation for miscellaneous headache). In addition, evidence was identified on a large number of non-musculoskeletal conditions not previously considered; most of this evidence was rated as inconclusive.
Overall, there was limited high quality evidence for the effectiveness of manual therapy. Most reviewed evidence was of low to moderate quality and inconsistent due to substantial methodological and clinical diversity. Areas requiring further research are highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3997823  PMID: 24679336
Clinical effectiveness; Manual therapy; Systematic review; Musculoskeletal; Bronfort
10.  Changing case Order to Optimise patterns of Performance in mammography Screening (CO-OPS): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2014;15:17.
X-ray mammography remains the predominant test for screening for breast cancer, with the aim of reducing breast cancer mortality. In the English NHS Breast Screening Programme each woman’s mammograms are examined separately by two expert readers. The two readers read each batch in the same order and each indicates if there should be recall for further tests. This is a highly skilled, pressurised, repetitive and frequently intellectually unchallenging activity where readers examine one or more batches of 30–50 women’s mammograms in each session. A vigilance decrement or performance decrease over time has been observed in similar repetitive visual tasks such as radar operation.
The CO-OPS study is a pragmatic, multi-centre, two-arm, double blind cluster randomised controlled trial of a computer software intervention designed to reduce the effects of a vigilance decrement in breast cancer screening. The unit of randomisation is the batch. Intervention batches will be examined in the opposite order by the two readers (one forwards, one backwards). Control batches will be read in the same order as one another, as is current standard practice. The hypothesis is that cancer detection rates will be higher in the intervention group because each readers’ peak performance will occur when examining different women’s mammograms. The trial will take place in 44 English breast screening centres for 1 year and 4 months. The primary outcome is cancer detection rate, which will be extracted from computer records after 1 year of the trial. The secondary outcomes include rate of disagreement between readers (a more statistically powerful surrogate for cancer detection rate), recall rate, positive predictive value, and interval cancer rate (cancers found between screening rounds which will be measured three years after the end of the trial).
This is the first trial of an intervention to ameliorate a vigilance decrement in breast cancer screening.
Trial registration
ISRCTN46603370 (submitted: 24 October 2012, date of registration: 26 March 2013).
PMCID: PMC3899604  PMID: 24411004
Breast cancer; Fatigue; Mammography; Observer performance; Screening; Vigilance decrement
11.  Aspirin in Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer: A Systematic Review of the Balance of Evidence from Reviews of Randomized Trials 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81970.
Aspirin has been recommended for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, but overall benefits are unclear. We aimed to use novel methods to re-evaluate the balance of benefits and harms of aspirin using evidence from randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
Methods and Findings
Data sources included ten electronic bibliographic databases, contact with experts, and scrutiny of reference lists of included studies. Searches were undertaken in September 2012 and restricted to publications since 2008. Of 2,572 potentially relevant papers 27 met the inclusion criteria. Meta-analysis of control arms to estimate event rates, modelling of all-cause mortality and L'Abbé plots to estimate heterogeneity were undertaken. Absolute benefits and harms were low: 60-84 major CVD events and 34-36 colorectal cancer deaths per 100,000 person-years were averted, whereas 46-49 major bleeds and 68-117 gastrointestinal bleeds were incurred. Reductions in all-cause mortality were minor and uncertain (Hazard Ratio 0.96; 95% CI: 0.90-1.02 at 20 years, Relative Risk [RR] 0.94, 95% CI: 0.88-1.00 at 8 years); there was a non-significant change in total CVD (RR 0.85, 95% CI: 0.69-1.06) and change in total cancer mortality ranged from 0.76 (95% CI: 0.66-0.88) to 0.93 (95% CI: 0.84-1.03) depending on follow-up time and studies included. Risks were increased by 37% for gastrointestinal bleeds (RR 1.37, 95% CI: 1.15-1.62), 54%-66% for major bleeds (Rate Ratio from IPD analysis 1.54, 95% CI: 1.30-1.82, and RR 1.62, 95% CI: 1.31-2.00), and 32%-38% for haemorrhagic stroke (Rate Ratio from IPD analysis 1.32; 95% CI: 1.00-1.74; RR 1.38; 95% CI: 1.01-1.82).
Findings indicate small absolute effects of aspirin relative to the burden of these diseases. When aspirin is used for primary prevention of CVD the absolute harms exceed the benefits. Estimates of cancer benefit rely on selective retrospective re-analysis of RCTs and more information is needed.
PMCID: PMC3855368  PMID: 24339983
12.  Citation Classics in Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: Who Wrote the Top 100 Most Cited Articles? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78517.
Systematic reviews of the literature occupy the highest position in currently proposed hierarchies of evidence. The aims of this study were to assess whether citation classics exist in published systematic review and meta-analysis (SRM), examine the characteristics of the most frequently cited SRM articles, and evaluate the contribution of different world regions.
The 100 most cited SRM were identified in October 2012 using the Science Citation Index database of the Institute for Scientific Information. Data were extracted by one author. Spearman’s correlation was used to assess the association between years since publication, numbers of authors, article length, journal impact factor, and average citations per year.
Among the 100 citation classics, published between 1977 and 2008, the most cited article received 7308 citations and the least-cited 675 citations. The average citations per year ranged from 27.8 to 401.6. First authors from the USA produced the highest number of citation classics (n=46), followed by the UK (n=28) and Canada (n=15). The 100 articles were published in 42 journals led by the Journal of the American Medical Association (n=18), followed by the British Medical Journal (n=14) and The Lancet (n=13). There was a statistically significant positive correlation between number of authors (Spearman’s rho=0.320, p=0.001), journal impact factor (rho=0.240, p=0.016) and average citations per year. There was a statistically significant negative correlation between average citations per year and year since publication (rho = -0.636, p=0.0001). The most cited papers identified seminal contributions and originators of landmark methodological aspects of SRM and reflect major advances in the management of and predisposing factors for chronic diseases.
Since the late 1970s, the USA, UK, and Canada have taken leadership in the production of citation classic papers. No first author from low or middle-income countries (LMIC) led one of the most cited 100 SRM.
PMCID: PMC3796507  PMID: 24155987
13.  Belimumab: a technological advance for systemic lupus erythematosus patients? Report of a systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMJ Open  2013;3(7):e002852.
To undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate clinical effectiveness of belimumab for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and antinuclear and/or anti-double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) autoantibodies.
We searched eight electronic databases and reference lists for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of belimumab against placebo or best supportive care. Quality assessment and random effects meta-analysis were undertaken.
A meta-analysis of RCTs.
2133 SLE patients.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
SLE Responder Index (SRI) at week 52.
Three double-blind placebo-controlled RCTs (L02, BLISS-52 BLISS-76) investigated 2133 SLE patients. BLISS-52 and BLISS-76 trials recruited patients with antinuclear and/or anti-dsDNA autoantibodies and demonstrated belimumab effectiveness for the SRI at week 52. Ethnicity and geographical location of participants varied considerably between BLISS trials. Although tests for statistical heterogeneity were negative, BLISS-52 results were systematically more favourable for all measured outcomes. Meta-analysis of pooled 52-week SRI BLISS results showed benefit for belimumab (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.27 to 2.09). By week 76, the primary SRI outcome in BLISS-76 was not statistically significant (OR 1.31, 95% CI 0.919 to 1.855).
PMCID: PMC3717447  PMID: 23872289
Clinical Pharmacology; Epidemiology; Preventive Medicine; Public Health
14.  Evidence-based commissioning in the English NHS: who uses which sources of evidence? A survey 2010/2011 
BMJ Open  2013;3(5):e002714.
To investigate types of evidence used by healthcare commissioners when making decisions and whether decisions were influenced by commissioners’ experience, personal characteristics or role at work.
Cross-sectional survey of 345 National Health Service (NHS) staff members.
The study was conducted across 11 English Primary Care Trusts between 2010 and 2011.
A total of 440 staff involved in commissioning decisions and employed at NHS band 7 or above were invited to participate in the study. Of those, 345 (78%) completed all or a part of the survey.
Main outcome measures
Participants were asked to rate how important different sources of evidence (empirical or practical) were in a recent decision that had been made. Backwards stepwise logistic regression analyses were undertaken to assess the contributions of age, gender and professional background, as well as the years of experience in NHS commissioning, pay grade and work role.
The extent to which empirical evidence was used for commissioning decisions in the NHS varied according to the professional background. Only 50% of respondents stated that clinical guidelines and cost-effectiveness evidence were important for healthcare decisions. Respondents were more likely to report use of empirical evidence if they worked in Public Health in comparison to other departments (p<0.0005, commissioning and contracts OR   0.32, 95%CI   0.18 to 0.57, finance OR  0.19, 95%CI 0.05 to 0.78, other departments OR 0.35, 95%CI 0.17 to 0.71) or if they were female (OR 1.8 95% CI 1.01 to 3.1) rather than male. Respondents were more likely to report use of practical evidence if they were more senior within the organisation (pay grade 8b or higher OR 2.7, 95%CI 1.4 to 5.3, p=0.004 in comparison to lower pay grades).
Those trained in Public Health appeared more likely to use external empirical evidence while those at higher pay scales were more likely to use practical evidence when making commissioning decisions. Clearly, National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance and government publications (eg, National Service Frameworks) are important for decision-making, but practical sources of evidence such as local intelligence, benchmarking data and expert advice are also influential. New Clinical Commissioning Groups will need a variety of different evidence sources and expert involvement to ensure that effective decisions are made for their populations.
PMCID: PMC3657651  PMID: 23793669
Health Services Administration & Management; Public Health
15.  Cross cultural evaluation of the Warwick-Edinburgh mental well-being scale (WEMWBS) -a mixed methods study 
We aimed to validate the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) among English speaking adults representing two of the minority ethnic groups living in the UK, self-identified as Chinese or Pakistani by background, in a mixed methods study.
Quantitative data were collected in two cities in the West Midlands, UK. Item response, dimensionality, internal consistency, and construct validity of the WEMWBS were assessed in Chinese and Pakistani groups separately, using data from both cities combined.
Qualitative data were collected in the first city in eight focus groups of different ages recruited by the community workers. Three mixed sex Chinese and five single sex Pakistani groups discussed ease of completion and comprehension of items, together with overall reactions to the scale and underlying concept.
Results of quantitative and qualitative analysis were examined for commonalities and differences.
Item completion and item total correlations were satisfactory in both groups. In the Chinese data, Exploratory Factor Analysis showed a single factor with loadings ranging from 0.60 to 0.82 for all 14 items. In the Pakistani data, three factors reached statistical significance; however, a substantial drop in eigenvalues between the first and second factors and the limited variance explained by the second and third factors supported a one-factor model. All items loaded on this factor from 0.51 to 0.83.
In the Chinese and Pakistani data respectively, Cronbach’s alpha was 0.92 (0.89 – 0.94) and 0.91 (0.88 – 0.94); Spearman’s correlation with GHQ-12 was - 0.63 (−0.73 to −0.49) and −0.55 (−0.70 to −0.36), and with the WHO-5 0.62 (0.46-0.75) and 0.64 (0.50 to 0.76).
Qualitative analysis revealed good comprehension and ease of completion of almost all items. Some culturally determined differences in understanding of mental well-being, which varied both between and within communities, emerged.
The WEMWBS was well received by members of both Pakistani and Chinese communities. It showed high levels of consistency and reliability compared with accepted criteria. Data were sufficiently strong to recommend the WEMWBS for use in general population surveys.
PMCID: PMC3610169  PMID: 23445544
Mental well-being; WEMWBS; Cross cultural; Validation; PROMS (patient reported outcome measures); Ethnicity (MeSH: ethnic groups)
16.  Childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: cross-sectional insight into small-scale geographical inequalities from Census data 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001421.
To estimate and quantify childhood mortality, its spatial correlates and the impact of potential correlates using recent census data from three sub-Saharan African countries (Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda), where evidence is lacking.
Nation-wide census samples from three African countries participating in the 2010 African Census round. All three countries have conducted recent censuses and have information on mortality of children under 5 years.
111 288 children under the age of 5 years in three countries.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Under-five mortality was assessed alongside potential correlates including geographical location (where children live), and environmental, bio-demographic and socioeconomic variables.
Multivariate analysis indicates that in all three countries the overall risk of child death in the first 5 years of life has decreased in recent years (Rwanda: HR=0.04, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.09; Senegal: HR=0.02 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.05); Uganda: HR=0.011 (95% CI 0.006 to 0.018). In Rwanda, lower deaths were associated with living in urban areas (0.79, 0.73, 0.83), children with living mother (HR=0.16, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.17) or living father (HR=0.38, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.39). Higher death was associated with male children (HR=1.06, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.08) and Christian children (HR=1.14, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.27). Children less than 1 year were associated with higher risk of death compared to older children in the three countries. Also, there were significant spatial variations showing inequalities in children mortality by geographic location. In Uganda, for example, areas of high risk are in the south-west and north-west and Kampala district showed a significantly reduced risk.
We provide clear evidence of considerable geographical variation of under-five mortality which is unexplained by factors considered in the data. The resulting under-five mortality maps can be used as a practical tool for monitoring progress within countries for the Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce under-five mortality in half by 2015.
PMCID: PMC3488715  PMID: 23089207
17.  Cross-cultural comparison of correlates of quality of life and health status: the Whitehall II Study (UK) and the Western New York Health Study (US) 
European Journal of Epidemiology  2012;27(4):255-265.
Measures of quality of life (QoL) have been found to be predictors of mortality and morbidity; however, there is still limited understanding of the multifaceted nature of these measures and of potential correlates. Using two large populations from the UK and US, we aimed to evaluate and compare measured levels of QoL and the key factors correlated with these levels. Participants were 6,472 white subjects (1,829 women) from the Whitehall II Study (mean age 55.8 years) and 3,684 white subjects (1,903 women) from the Western New York Health Study (mean age 58.7 years). QoL was assessed in both using the physical and mental health component summaries of the short form-36 questionnaire (SF-36). Analysis of covariance was used to compare gender-specific mean scores for the two populations across several potential correlates (including socio-demographic, lifestyle and co-morbidity factors). Levels of reported physical QoL tended to be higher in the UK population (51.2 vs. 48.6) while mental QoL was higher in the US group (53.1 vs. 51.1). Age, sleep duration and depressive symptoms were the main factors correlated with both physical and mental QoL in both samples. Increasing age was associated with poorer physical health but higher mental health scores in both populations (P < 0.001). Sleep duration below 6 or above 8 h was associated with lower levels of QoL. Depressive symptoms were strongly associated with poorer mental health scores (P < 0.001) while higher BMI, lower physical activity levels and presence of cardiovascular disease were associated with poorer physical health in both samples and gender (P < 0.05). There were consistent findings for correlates of QoL in this cross-cultural comparison of two populations from the UK and US. Strongest associations were between lifestyle and co-morbidity factors and the physical health component of the SF-36 rather than the mental health component. This is a novel finding which warrants further consideration.
PMCID: PMC3370162  PMID: 22392587
Quality of life; Health status; Sleep; Depressive symptoms; Cross-cultural comparison; Epidemiology; SF-36
18.  Elective surgical referral guidelines - background educational material or essential shared decision making tool? A survey of GPs' in England 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:92.
To investigate general practitioners' (GPs') attitudes to guidelines for elective surgical referral in England. To understand their use of guidelines, and attitudes to shared decision making in the referral decision.
A questionnaire was developed which investigated attitudes to and use of guidelines. It was given to a stratified random sample 30% (n = 310) drawn from GP lists of 10 English health districts (primary care trusts (PCTs)). GPs were invited to respond online, by telephone, fax or post. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and backwards stepwise logistic regression.
Responses were representative of GPs in England, but (despite up to 6 contacts per non-responder) the overall response rate was 41.6% (n = 129; with the range across PCTs of 25-61%). Most responding GPs indicated support for referral guidelines but 18% reported that they had never used them. Less than three per cent reported use for most or all referral decisions. The odds of using guidelines decreased with increasing age, with a ten year increase in age associated with halving odds of use (OR = 0.53, 95%CI = 0.29-0.90). Over 50% of GPs wanted good access to electronic guidelines with expert information and advice on guideline availability. Almost all (>89%) GPs agreed with sharing referral decisions with patients. Female doctors (OR = 5.2, 95%CI: 1.02-26.3) were more likely to agree with this than male GPs as were those working in larger compared to small or single handed practices (OR = 5.3, 95%CI: 1.4-19.9).
This group of responding GPs was supportive of guidelines but used them in different ways. Referral guidelines should have an educational component for background reading; include key messages for internalisation and application; and incorporate mechanisms to facilitate accessibility and appropriate shared decision making with patients.
PMCID: PMC3176475  PMID: 21878103
Family Practice [MeSH]; Primary Health Care [MeSH]; Referral and Consultation [MeSH] Surgical Procedures; Operative [MeSH]; Practice Guidelines [MeSH]
19.  Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS): Validated for teenage school students in England and Scotland. A mixed methods assessment 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:487.
Understanding and measuring mental health and wellbeing amongst teenagers has recently become a priority. The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) is validated for measuring mental wellbeing in populations aged 16 years and over in the UK. We report here a study designed to establish the validity and reliability of WEMWBS in teenagers in the UK.
WEMWBS and comparator scales, together with socio-demographic information and self-reported health, were incorporated into a self-administered questionnaire given to pupils aged 13 to 16 years in six schools in Scotland and England. Psychometric properties including internal consistency, correlations with comparator scales, test-retest stability and unidimensionality were investigated for WEMWBS. Twelve focus groups were undertaken to assess acceptability and comprehensibility of WEMWBS and were taped, transcribed and analysed thematically.
A total of 1,650 teenagers completed the questionnaire (response rate 80.8%). Mean WEMWBS score was 48.8 (SD 6.8; median 49). Response scores covered the full range (from 14 to 70). WEMWBS demonstrated strong internal consistency and a high Cronbach's alpha of 0.87 (95% CI (0.85-0.88), n = 1517). Measures of construct validity gave values as predicted. The correlation coefficient for WEMWBS total score and psychological wellbeing domain of the Kidscreen-27 was 0.59 (95% CI [0.55; 0.62]); for the Mental Health Continuum Short Form (MHC-SF) was 0.65, 95% CI [0.62; 0.69]; and for the WHO (WHO-5) Well-being Index 0.57 (95% CI [0.53; 0.61]). The correlation coefficient for the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was -0.44 (95% CI [-0.49; -0.40]) and for the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ12) -0.45 (95% CI [-0.49; -0.40]). Test-retest reliability was acceptable (Intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) 0.66 (95% CI [0.59; 0.72] n = 212)). Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated one underlying factor.
WEMWBS was significantly associated with the Family Affluence Score (WEMWBS increased with increasing household socio-economic status) and had a positive association with the physical health dimension of the Kidscreen-27, but was unrelated to age, gender or location/school. Eighty students took part in focus groups. In general, although some students considered some items open to misunderstanding or misinterpretation, WEMWBS was received positively and was considered comprehensible, and acceptable.
WEMWBS is a psychometrically strong population measure of mental wellbeing, and can be used for this purpose in teenagers aged 13 and over.
PMCID: PMC3141456  PMID: 21693055
20.  Factors associated with female genital mutilation in Burkina Faso and its policy implications 
Female genital mutilation (FGM) usually undertaken between the ages of 1-9 years and is widely practised in some part of Africa and by migrants from African countries in other parts of the world. Laws prohibit FGM in almost every country. FGM can cause immediate complications (pain, bleeding and infection) and delayed complications (sexual, obstetric, psychological problems). Several factors have been associated with an increased likelihood of FGM. In Burkina Faso, the prevalence of FGM appears to have increased in recent years.
We investigated social, demographic and economic factors associated with FGM in Burkina Faso using the 2003 Demographic Health Survey (DHS). The DHS is a nationally representative cross-sectional survey (multistage stratified random sampling of households) of women of reproductive age (15-49 years). Associations between potential risk factors and the prevalence of FGM were explored using χ2 and t-tests and Mann Whitney U-test as appropriate. Logistic regression modelling was used to investigate social, demographic and economic risk factors associated with FGM.
Main outcome measures
i) whether a woman herself had had FGM; ii) whether she had one or more daughters with FGM.
Data were available on 12,049 women. Response rates by region were at least 90%. Women interviewed were representative of the underlying populations of the different regions of Burkina Faso. Seventy seven percent (9267) of the women interviewed had had FGM. 7336 women had a daughter of whom 2216 (30.2%) had a daughter with FGM and 334 (4.5%) said that they intended that their daughter should have it. Univariate analysis showed that age, religion, wealth, ethnicity, literacy, years of education, household affluence, region and who had responsibility for health care decisions in the household had (RHCD) were all significantly related to the two outcomes (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis stratified by religion mainly confirmed these findings, however, education is significantly associated with a reduced likelihood of FGM only for Christian women.
Conclusions and Policy implications
Factors associated with FGM are varied and complex. Younger women and those from specific groups and religions are less likely to have had FGM. A higher level of education may be protective for women from certain religions. Policies should capitalize on these findings and religious leaders should be involved in continuing programmes of action.
PMCID: PMC3112389  PMID: 21592338
21.  Referral recommendations for osteoarthritis of the knee incorporating patients' preferences 
Family Practice  2010;28(1):68-74.
Background. GPs have to respond to conflicting policy developments. As gatekeeper they are supposed to manage the growing demand for specialist services and as patient advocate they should be responsive to patients' preferences. We used an innovative approach to develop a referral guideline for patients with chronic knee pain that explicitly incorporates patients' preferences.
Methods. A guideline development group of 12 members including patients, GPs, orthopaedic surgeons and other health care professionals used formal consensus development informed by systematic evidence reviews. They rated the appropriateness of referral for 108 case scenarios describing patients according to symptom severity, age, body mass, co-morbidity and referral preference. Appropriateness was expressed on scale from 1 (‘strongly disagree’) to 9 (‘strongly agree’).
Results. Ratings of referral appropriateness were strongly influenced by symptom severity and patients' referral preferences. The influence of other patient characteristics was small. There was consensus that patients with severe knee symptoms who want to be referred should be referred and that patient with moderate or mild symptoms and strong preference against referral should not be referred. Referral preference had a greater impact on the ratings of referral appropriateness when symptoms were moderate or severe than when symptoms were mild.
Conclusions. Referral decisions for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee should only be guided by symptom severity and patients' referral preferences. The guideline development group seemed to have given priority to avoiding inefficient resource use in patients with mild symptoms and to respecting patient autonomy in patients with severe symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3023074  PMID: 20817791
Clinical practice guideline; gatekeeping; knee; osteoarthrits; patient preference; referral and consultation
22.  Collaborative working within UK NHS secondary care and across sectors for COPD and the impact of peer review: qualitative findings from the UK National COPD Resources and Outcomes Project 
We investigated the effects on collaborative work within the UK National Health Service (NHS) of an intervention for service quality improvement: informal, structured, reciprocated, multidisciplinary peer review with feedback and action plans. The setting was care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Theory and methods
We analysed semi-structured interviews with 43 hospital respiratory consultants, nurses and general managers at 24 intervention and 11 control sites, as part of a UK randomised controlled study, the National COPD Resources and Outcomes Project (NCROP), using Scott's conceptual framework for action (inter-organisational, intra-organisational, inter-professional and inter-individual). Three areas of care targeted by NCROP involved collaboration across primary and secondary care.
Hospital respiratory department collaborations with commissioners and hospital managers varied. Analysis suggested that this is related to team responses to barriers. Clinicians in unsuccessful collaborations told ‘atrocity stories’ of organisational, structural and professional barriers to service improvement. The others removed barriers by working with government and commissioner agendas to ensure continued involvement in patients' care. Multidisciplinary peer review facilitated collaboration between participants, enabling them to meet, reconcile differences and exchange ideas across boundaries.
The data come from the first randomised controlled trial of organisational peer review, adding to research into UK health service collaborative work, which has had a more restricted focus on inter-professional relations. NCROP peer review may only modestly improve collaboration but these data suggest it might be more effective than top-down exhortations to change when collaboration both across and within organisations is required.
PMCID: PMC2948684  PMID: 20922063
collaboration; inter-organizational; inter-professional; quality improvement; respiratory disease
23.  New directions in European public health research: report of a workshop 
Public health draws from a range of academic disciplines, social, medical and statistical, and answers questions relevant to improving the health of populations. We have initiated a Europe‐wide study, Strengthening Public Health Research in Europe, to assess the development and use of public health research in both public policy and local decision making. The contemporary challenge for public health research is to integrate the capabilities of different academic disciplines to address policies for health. We have considered the development of public health research in five fields: political epidemiology, community health, health services, economics, and evaluation evidence and synthesis. The organisation and funding of research in Europe should be able to support new research fields and issues, to contribute to policy development and public health practice.
PMCID: PMC2652906  PMID: 17325394
24.  Prophylactic oophorectomy: a historical perspective 
Removal of a woman's ovaries (known as bilateral oophorectomy, ovariectomy or, historically, ovariotomy) is undertaken in a number of countries. An estimated 19 000 women aged <60 years had a bilateral prophylactic oophorectomy in the UK in 2003, either as a planned response to an increased specific genetic risk of ovarian or breast cancer or, more frequently, as a prophylactic measure to prevent ovarian cancer. Despite its popularity, however, a full evaluation of the risks, costs and benefits of prophylactic oophorectomy in the absence of genetic markers and at the time of hysterectomy has not yet been undertaken. This paper seeks to provide a historical perspective on current practice by outlining approaches to the ovary in Britain from the 19th century onwards. Historically, ovarian removal has raised many questions about the costs and benefits of surgery. The aim of this article is to highlight the issues, and in so doing, to contribute to a more informed assessment of current practice.
PMCID: PMC2652903  PMID: 17325391
25.  Removing organs “just in case”—is prophylactic removal of the ovaries a good thing? 
This papers highlights the issues and illustrates a research agenda for trying to disentangle the problems of the continuing use of an untested technbology—prophylactic oophorectomy—at the time of hysterectomy.
PMCID: PMC2465567  PMID: 16476744
ovaries; hysterectomy; prophylactic oophorectomy; menopause

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