Evidence

Alerts

The latest important research summarised

Short summaries of the latest health research presented in plain English to promote use of research by all members of society.

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Stroke survivors with vision impairments need personalised rehabilitation and greater support

People who survive a stroke but suffer loss of vision do not always receive the care they need. A group of patients in northwest England said the rehabilitation they received was not personalised. Some had met with apathy from health professionals. Focus groups and interviews revealed that patients with loss of vision experience long-term emotional, ...

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People with mild memory problems are left in limbo between health and dementia, and need help to make lifestyle changes

People with memory problems who are told they do not have dementia – but might get it in future – are left in limbo, uncertain about their future and with few services to help them. Research is underway into a programme that may help them reduce their risk of dementia. As more emphasis is put ...

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Sharing electronic records with patients led to improved control of type two diabetes

Sharing electronic records with patients with type 2 diabetes helped them to reduce their blood sugar levels. A new analysis of pooled data from 20 studies showed that sharing records improved patients' management of their condition. Some of the studies also found that sharing records was associated with reduced anxiety, cardiac symptoms and cholesterol levels ...

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Recommendations from male students help shape mental health support for this high-risk group

Male university students suggested approaches that would encourage them to seek help with their mental health. Examples include providing male-only spaces, and using positive masculine narratives of help-seeking. Terms other than ‘mental health’ could be used to describe group sessions. The study’s recommendations are important and relevant because men are less likely to ask for ...

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Results from a routine blood test could help in early detection of cancer

Detecting cancer at the earliest opportunity can improve the chances of successful treatment.  New research suggests that a routine blood test could help find cancers early. Researchers have previously shown that high levels of platelets – cells in the blood that help stop bleeding – can be a sign of cancer. But now they have ...

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Brain and nerve complications are more common than expected in younger patients with severe COVID-19

People aged under 60 who are hospitalised with COVID-19 are more likely than expected to experience severe psychiatric symptoms. Research found that altered mental states such as psychosis are being reported in these younger patients.  It confirmed that strokes and other neurological symptoms are common in severe COVID-19. An initial study included 153 cases reported ...

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Prozac may be the best treatment for young people with depression – but more research is needed

Children and adolescents with moderate-to-severe depression are being prescribed treatments that are not backed by reliable evidence. There is insufficient data on whether treatments work and if they are safe. Unlike for adults, the best way to treat symptoms of depression in these age groups is unknown. A review of 71 separate trials found that ...

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Play and social skills may protect children who have difficulties with spoken language

Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) have ongoing difficulties with spoken language. They may struggle to understand long sentences, to tell stories or to take turns in a conversation.  The disorder makes communication difficult and can slow children’s progress at school. Their self-esteem can be harmed and, overall, children with DLD have poorer mental health ...

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Working may improve quality of life for carers of people with dementia

Those who care for people with dementia are likely to report a better quality of life if they also work outside the home. This may be linked to higher self-esteem. A study included almost 1,300 people caring for relatives with dementia. It found that carers with jobs outside the home were likely to be younger ...

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A decision aid may help people with newly-diagnosed multiple sclerosis consider their options for treatment

When first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), people may feel overwhelmed with information, or too shocked by the diagnosis to fully engage with decisions about treatment. New research found that decision aids may help them to understand their condition and make decisions that are right for them.  Treatments for people with MS can improve long-term ...

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People with anorectal melanoma may not benefit from radical surgery

New research suggests that limited surgery is preferable to radical surgery for a rare and aggressive type of cancer called anorectal melanoma. This cancer starts in the anus or rectum (back passage). In limited surgery (wide local excision or WLE), the cancer and a small area around it is removed. In more radical surgery (abdominoperineal ...

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A new technique could make more livers available for transplant

Demand for liver transplants is so high that many people on the waiting list die before they can receive a transplant. But surgeons are rejecting increasing numbers of donated livers because they are not satisfied with the quality. New research could address this problem and make more livers available for transplant. Current practice is for ...

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Tackling fear and misinformation may help increase hepatitis C testing in prison

Liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health burden. The World Health Organisation is aiming to eliminate HCV as a public health problem by 2030 and testing in prisons is central to this campaign. People entering prison are asked to have a test for blood-borne viruses including HCV, but ...

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Tranexamic acid should not be used for patients with severe gastrointestinal bleeding

A drug called tranexamic acid is used to control severe bleeding caused by injury or childbirth. Some doctors had also started using it to treat patients with severe gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, which is a common medical emergency. Evidence from small trials had suggested it could reduce deaths. The HALT-IT (Haemorrhage alleviation with tranexamic acid-Intestinal system) ...

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With the right training, people with learning disabilities can become partners in research

A training course for students with learning disabilities succeeded in increasing their knowledge of research and their research skills. The course also increased their confidence and self-esteem. Several of the students went on to take up new work opportunities. The authors recommend that funding should be made available to help run more of these courses ...

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Easy-read report: With the right training, people with learning disabilities can become partners in research

Easy-read report. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is an organisation that funds others to do Health and Care research. In 2019 the National Institute for Health Research funded a training course for students with learning disabilities. The research taught students with learning disabilities how to research things and how to share what they ...

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New research provides insights into the distress experienced by transgender adults

Transgender people have a mismatch between their sex assigned at birth and the gender they identify as. This can lead to sense of unease, dissatisfaction or distress (gender dysphoria) which can be intense. Social factors also cause negative feelings. Treatment at gender clinics is only available to those who have gender dysphoria. How gender dysphoria ...

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More precise classification of risk in prostate cancer reveals a huge variation in treatment

A new study found a wide variation in how men with prostate cancer are managed in different hospitals. Current NICE guidelines recommend that prostate cancers are broadly classified into those at low, intermediate or high risk of spreading. A more precise system for classifying risk revealed that hospitals may have different approaches for managing men ...

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Terminally ill patients and their families often need more help to manage their medicines

Terminally ill patients and their family caregivers often have to manage complex medication regimes in their homes. However, little is known about how healthcare professionals support them in this. This study examined healthcare professionals’ understanding of the experiences of patient and family caregivers when managing medicines in end of life care. The study suggests simple, ...

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More health research should take place in the areas and populations with most disease

The numbers of patients who take part in health research varies across England. But overall, health research does not take place in areas where the burden of disease is highest. A new study found that areas with the highest burden of disease have the lowest numbers of patients taking part in research. This means that ...

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Cultural and language barriers need to be addressed for British-Pakistani women to benefit fully from breast screening

British-Pakistani women may need help to overcome cultural and language barriers if they are to fully take part in the NHS breast screening programme. Breast screening uses an X-ray test called a mammogram to spot cancers when they are too small to see or feel. UK women aged 50 to 70 years receive an invitation ...

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Community-based medicine collection improves access to lifesaving HIV treatment in South Africa

A programme in South Africa is successfully shifting the location of treatments for long term conditions from the clinic to the community. It is the largest programme of its kind in the world and a new study highlights the benefits to people living with HIV. The programme is called Centralised Chronic Medication Dispensing and Distribution ...

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Parents-to-be need to be prepared for receiving uncertain results from genetic tests

Parents-to-be are offered a range of tests to predict whether their baby is likely to have certain health conditions. Many are keen to have these pre-natal tests for reassurance. But sometimes the results are unclear, leaving parents to deal with uncertainty. New types of genetic tests look in detail at the baby’s genetic material (the ...

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Most patients welcome advice from GPs on changing their behaviour to improve health

Most patients are open to receiving advice on behaviour change from their GP. That is especially true if the advice is personally tailored and relevant to their illness. A good doctor-patient relationship is also important for the way advice is given and received. The findings come from interviews with people about their experiences of receiving ...

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Male prisoners develop unhealthy hearts at younger ages than people on the outside

The risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher among male prisoners than among men of the same age who live in the community. CVD affects the heart and blood vessels and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The largest European study of the heart health of prisoners found that more than one in ...

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Teams of healthcare professionals from a wide range of disciplines and pay grades are most effective at delivering improvements in patients’ experiences

Teams with the most diverse range of skills, knowledge and experience may be most effective at planning and implementing projects to improve patients’ experience of the NHS. A study looked at the resources, or ‘team capital’ of groups aiming to make improvements to the quality of service. They found teams with members from a range ...

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Psychiatric drugs given to children and adolescents have been ranked in order of safety

Dozens of drugs prescribed for psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents have been ranked in order of safety by an international team of psychiatrists. The drugs are prescribed for mental health conditions including depression, psychosis, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and mood disorders. All drugs can have unwanted side effects (adverse effects). The researchers looked ...

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Anti-inflammatory drugs do not lift depression in bipolar disorder

Two drugs which are often used to treat inflammation failed  to help people with bipolar depression. Previous research has suggested that inflammation of the brain may be involved in some mental illnesses, including depression. It meant that drugs which block inflammation could potentially be a new way of treating depression. But the first large clinical ...

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Adopted children can experience lasting mental health problems

Adopted children in the UK can face enduring mental health and behavioural problems. New research found no improvement in children's mental health four years after they were adopted. The children's emotional and behavioural problems increased with the number of adverse childhood experiences they had. These adverse childhood experiences include abuse, neglect and unstable living arrangements. ...

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Screening for lymphoedema after breast cancer surgery could identify women likely to benefit from compression sleeves

Some women having breast cancer surgery would benefit from screening to pick up lymphoedema (swelling of the arm that can become long-term). This can develop as a complication of surgery if lymph nodes are removed. Lymph nodes under the arm normally drain fluid from the breast. They may be removed during breast cancer surgery to ...

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