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.

Alert

Most children with life-limiting conditions still die in hospital, not home or hospice

Around seven in 10 children and young people with life-limiting conditions die in hospital, and that has changed little in the past 15 years. New research also found that children from ethnic minorities or deprived areas are more likely than others to end their lives in hospital, rather than in a hospice or at home.  ...

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Women with kidney disease can be given a personal risk assessment for pregnancy, following new research

Women with long-term (chronic) kidney disease can now be given a clear indication of the risks of pregnancy, both to themselves and to their babies. New research assesses the likelihood that a baby will be born healthy, and estimates the impact of pregnancy on the woman’s disease. Pregnancy is known to put additional strain on ...

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Slip-resistant shoes would prevent injuries among NHS workers

NHS staff wearing slip-resistant footwear with proven grip are less likely to slip or fall at work than those wearing their own shoes. A new trial finds that specialist footwear could substantially reduce the risk of injury in healthcare settings.  Previous research has found that slip-resistant footwear can prevent slips in other workplaces, among fishermen ...

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Loneliness is strongly linked to depression among older adults, a long-term study suggests

Depression is a major public health problem that is growing worldwide. The causes are complex and vary from person to person. However, new research estimates that up to one in five cases of depression among older adults could be prevented by reducing loneliness. The study therefore has important public health implications, highlighting the need for ...

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What support do young people with sickle cell disease need when moving into adult services?

Young people with sickle cell disease may experience poor care in non-specialist settings when they transition from paediatric to adult health services. New research from This Sickle Cell Life project studied their experiences on general hospital wards and during unplanned visits to A&E departments. The research found that young people would have better experiences of ...

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People with painful rheumatic conditions are at increased risk of self-harm

People with painful rheumatic conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis are at increased risk of self-harm. New research found the risk was highest for those with fibromyalgia, who were twice as likely to harm themselves as people without the condition.  Rheumatic conditions are characterised by pain in joints, muscles and/or connective tissue. People ...

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Public involvement: long-term partnerships with children and young people can improve research design

Patients and the public can provide researchers with fresh insights or recommendations based on lived experience. But it is sometimes challenging to involve public contributors meaningfully, especially when they are young. Researchers in the MAGIC study worked with a group of young people (a Young Persons Advisory Group, YPAG). They wanted to test a method ...

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GPs may help people at risk of self-harm by asking open questions, acknowledging distress, and exploring positive reasons for staying alive

Simple changes to the way doctors ask questions about self-harm and suicidal thoughts could improve conversations with vulnerable patients and enable access to help and support.  A new study found that doctors tend to ask closed questions and, in some instances, inadvertently reinforce the stigma associated with suicide. These approaches made it difficult for patients ...

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Low rates of self-harm do not mean low levels of distress in a disadvantaged London community

Some highly deprived areas of London have unexpectedly low rates of self-harm. New research explored why hospital data implies that self-harm is less common than expected. The study was carried out in an ethnically diverse community exposed to multiple long-term stressors such as insecure employment, poor quality housing, and high levels of crime. The study ...

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Drinks labels with pictures and guidelines could improve public understanding of Government recommendations

Enhanced labels for alcoholic drinks include pictures to demonstrate their strength, plus an explicit statement of drinking guidelines. New research found that these labels could improve public awareness and understanding of the Government’s Low Risk Drinking Guidelines. Government guidelines recommend a weekly maximum of 14 units of alcohol. However, public awareness of the guidelines is ...

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Misconceptions about acne lead to underuse of effective treatments; people need reliable information to manage the condition long-term

People with acne often blame themselves for their condition, wrongly thinking it is caused by their diet or skin care routine. Those who come forward for medical help often have unrealistic expectations and expect an immediate cure. New research demonstrates that such misunderstandings are a barrier to effective management of the condition.  Previous research has ...

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Breast cancer screening: women with poor mental health are less likely to attend appointments

Women with poor mental health are less likely than others to come forward for breast screening, new research has found. Not attending cancer screening could partly explain why people with mental health conditions die younger than the general population. It means that cancer is more likely to be diagnosed later when it is less treatable.   ...

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Gabapentin does not reduce long-term pelvic pain, and has unpleasant side effects, research finds

Gabapentin should not be used to treat women with long-term (chronic) pelvic pain. New research found that the drug does not reduce pain, nor does it improve women’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Compared to a dummy pill (placebo), gabapentin was also linked to serious side effects. More than one million women in the UK have ...

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Pelvic floor muscle training can be delivered by appropriately trained non-specialists for women with prolapse, research finds

Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT) is an effective treatment for women with pelvic organ prolapse. However, there are not enough specialist clinicians to deliver it which means access to this treatment is limited. New research finds that other healthcare staff can be successfully trained and supported to deliver PFMT. This could help meet demand for ...

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Specific phrases about weight management programmes help GPs make successful referrals

Specific words and phrases help GPs make successful referrals to weight management programmes in brief consultations. Research found that people who are overweight are more likely to accept a referral when GPs describe a ‘programme’ or ‘service’ – rather than a ‘club’ or ‘group’. Stating early on that the programme is both free of charge ...

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Nurses and pharmacists are key to improving access to end of life medicines for people being cared for at home

Improved access to end of life (palliative) medicines is likely to help many people control their pain. New research emphasises the role of nurses and pharmacists in improving access to palliative medicines for people being cared for at home. The study makes specific recommendations. It found that most people receiving palliative care at home get ...

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Healthy lifestyles increase life expectancy in people with multiple conditions (multimorbidity) by as much as in other groups

Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help overcome the negative impact of long-term diseases on life expectancy. A major new study found that middle-aged people who have multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity) can expect to live an extra 6-7 years if they adopt a healthy lifestyle.  The research includes data on almost half a million ...

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GP referrals to weight loss programmes are accepted by men and women alike; research finds referrals reduce the gender gap

Structured programmes help people to lose weight, but they are overwhelmingly used by women. New research suggests that GPs who offer referrals to these programmes to both men and women can overturn the gender imbalance. It found that men are almost as likely as women to accept their GP’s referral, and are similarly successful at ...

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Surgery for hand disorder Dupuytren’s disease is effective, but repeat operations come with higher risks

Research using large national datasets has confirmed that surgery for the common hand disorder Dupuytren’s disease is safe and effective. When surgery needs to be repeated, however, there are higher risks of serious complications such as finger amputation.  In Dupuytren’s disease, the tissue beneath the skin of the palm becomes thickened; this often does not ...

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Practical changes in cancer care could reduce fear and confusion among people with dementia

People with dementia face unique challenges when they need cancer treatment. In a new study, researchers explored the difficulties faced by people with dementia, their carers and healthcare professionals.  They interviewed and spent time with these groups and came up with practical measures which could help. Dementia causes problems with memory, communication and decision-making. Many ...

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Preventing childhood obesity requires a shift in focus away from individual behaviours towards the wider environment

Policies aiming to prevent childhood obesity are informed by research that mostly explores ways of changing the behaviour of individuals. An in-depth analysis of 153 research papers found that most interventions aim to teach children to improve their diet and/or take part in more physical activity.  This has been the mainstay of interventions studied for ...

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Three effective treatments for frozen shoulder have different costs and benefits, study shows

A so-called frozen shoulder is painful and stiff for months and sometimes years. People with the condition may be unable to move their arm or shoulder and the pain may disturb their sleep. The three treatments most often offered by the NHS are physiotherapy, manipulation of the shoulder under general anaesthesia, and a form of ...

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Better access to healthcare for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities is key to increasing vaccination rates: research makes five recommendations

Better access to healthcare services is the most important step in improving vaccination rates for people in Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. New research suggests that easier access is more important than addressing beliefs about vaccine safety or the need for vaccination. Researchers set up a series of workshops for healthcare providers and representatives of ...

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People who are active on the day of hip surgery, or the day after, are twice as likely to be home within a month

People over 60 who need surgery after breaking a hip are discharged from hospital sooner if they get moving quickly.  The largest study of its kind found that those who get out of bed on the day of hip surgery, or the day after, were twice as likely to leave hospital within 30 days.  The ...

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Most shoulder replacements last longer than a decade: patients can be reassured by new research

Most shoulder replacements last longer than 10 years. A new study – one of the most complete reports to date – found that patients can expect large and long-lasting improvements in pain, strength, range of movement, and their ability to complete everyday tasks. Before surgery, patients want to know how they will benefit from surgery and ...

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Why do people abandon assistive technologies? Research suggests users need to be partners in design

Many people with long term - chronic - conditions need a lot of support in their daily lives. A wide range of assistive technologies are designed to help, including wheelchairs, hearing aids, and electronic devices. But people often give up using them. Researchers wanted to identify the main reasons why. They found common barriers to ...

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Dental check-ups every six months are unnecessary for people at low risk of oral disease, research finds

Dentists invite most people for dental check-ups every six months. Despite being common practice in the UK and many other countries, this interval is based on low quality evidence.  The results of a large trial across the UK (INTERVAL) did not support such frequent dental appointments.   It found that the 30% people at low risk ...

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Mental health care during pregnancy and afterwards: women from some ethnic minority backgrounds face barriers to access

Women who have mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year after giving birth (the perinatal period) can face challenges in seeking professional help. New research found the problem is more pronounced for women from Black African, Asian and White Other backgrounds. They had poorer access to services in the community than White ...

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People who have survived torture need joined-up care to address physical, psychological and social aspects of pain

More than one in four refugees and asylum-seekers in the UK are thought to have experienced torture in their countries of origin. Increasing numbers are presenting to NHS services with persistent pain, often of muscle, bone or joints (musculoskeletal). New research finds that UK healthcare services are not meeting their needs, and suggests that better ...

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Digital games, apps and e-therapy show promise for helping children manage obesity, anxiety and other long-term conditions

Digital interventions such as games, apps and e-therapy may encourage primary school-aged children to exercise more or manage their anxiety, but research into the benefits of the technology for this age group is thin on the ground. Long-term conditions are becoming more common. Some can be improved by changes to behaviour, such as a better ...

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