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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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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Digital analysis of cells and tissue was as reliable as using a microscope in a new review

Diagnoses made using digital scans of cell and tissue samples are as reliable as looking at traditional slides through a microscope, a new review suggests. It provides the strongest evidence to date that digital techniques are a viable alternative to microscopy and could in future replace it. Small samples of body tissue (biopsies) are sometimes ...

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Easy-read report: The risk of forced marriage for people with learning disabilities from South Asian communities

Easy-read report. The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is an organisation that funds others to do Health and Care research. This report is about research that has been going since 2009 called, ‘My Marriage, My Choice’. This study has looked at people with learning disabilities who have ‘forced marriages’. What is this research about? ...

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Risk of forced marriage among people with learning disabilities: carers provide insights into consent, care needs and the place of marriage in South Asian communities

Under UK law, some people with learning disabilities cannot legally marry. If someone is unable to understand the implications of marriage - or to develop the capacity to understand - they cannot consent to marry. By law, any marriage that goes ahead is considered ‘forced’. Most forced marriages in the UK take place within South ...

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Acting on feedback from national clinical audits: NHS staff describe their motivations and the barriers to engaging with the data

A national clinical audit (NCA) in a specific condition gives a picture of the standard of care provided by NHS Trusts across the country. Hospitals can use NCA data to determine where their service is doing well compared to other Trusts, and where there could be improvements. The aim is to improve the quality of ...

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Extending breast screening to women in their forties may save lives without increasing harms, research suggests

Around 7,600 women in their 40s are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK. But the NHS Breast Screening Programme only starts inviting women once they turn 50. Mammography (X-ray of the breasts) is offered to women every three years between the ages of 50 to 70. There is long-standing debate about the ...

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Being overweight is linked with an increased risk of dementia in new research

People who carry excess weight in midlife have an increased risk of developing dementia, suggests new research from the long-running English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). This study included people aged over 50 and followed them for an average of 11 years. Overall, those who were obese at the start of the study had a ...

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Hand strengthening and stretching for people with rheumatoid arthritis: online training helps therapists deliver an exercise programme

A programme of exercises for people with rheumatoid arthritis improves hand strength and function. The Strengthening and Stretching for Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Hand (SARAH) programme is recommended by NICE following positive results in a large clinical trial. Therapists were initially trained face-to-face to deliver the SARAH programme. To speed up its routine use in ...

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Heart surgery in young children: routine monitoring of complications can help assess the quality of care

The vast majority of young children undergoing heart surgery survive the procedure; the survival rate is 98%. This means that the current practice of monitoring survival alone is a blunt measure that does not give a full picture of childrens’ recovery. New research suggests that complications may be a better indicator of the quality of ...

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People with chronic fatigue syndrome want to be taken seriously and to receive personalised, empathetic care

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex, long-term condition that dramatically limits people's activities. It is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME). People with CFS/ME are exhausted for no reason; rest does not help and it can take days or weeks to recover from any activity. Some describe 'brain fog' and problems with memory, concentration ...

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Physician associates need support to establish their place within the healthcare workforce

The role of physician associate was recently introduced in the UK as a response to staff shortages, growing demand for services and rising costs in the NHS. Physician associates support multidisciplinary healthcare teams in the diagnosis and management of patients. They are supervised by doctors and they take medical histories, carry out physical examinations and ...

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Getting up after a fall: training could encourage older people to get themselves back up

Most research into falls looks at how to prevent them from happening. The authors of this study wanted instead to understand more about getting up from a fall. They explored attitudes towards older people getting up by themselves and looked at measures that could encourage them to try. Falls are common among older people and ...

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Parents are meaningfully involved in decisions on the care of their critically ill baby when they are given options not recommendations

Faced with the decision of whether to limit life support for their critically ill baby, parents fare better when doctors present them with options, rather than making recommendations. New research described distinct styles of communication used by doctors. Each had a different impact on parents’ involvement in decision-making. The researchers suggest this could in turn ...

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A new framework for allied health professionals aims to promote a culture of research

‘Shaping Better Practice Through Research: A Practitioner's Framework’ is the first framework designed to help Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) in all roles and at all career levels carry out research. The framework provides guidance on research activities, collaboration, how research relates to career development and how it informs practice. It could foster a stronger tradition ...

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To improve team decision-making in cancer care: streamline workload, shorten meetings, address logistics and keep a gender balance on the team

For the past 20 years, the cornerstone of cancer care has been Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs) who meet regularly to discuss the treatment and progress of people with cancer and plan the next steps. MDTs bring together a wide range of healthcare professionals, including surgeons, radiologists, oncologists, cancer nurse specialists and histopathologists (who examine samples of ...

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New sub-groups of diabetes could lead to more targeted treatment for people in India

Type 2 diabetes is not a single disease. This was shown in 2018 when doctors in Scandinavia identified several sub-groups of type 2 diabetes in their population. Each sub-group has distinct characteristics and may respond to different treatments. Now, researchers have discovered different sub-groups among people in India. Their study included more than 19,000 people ...

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Virtual quizzes involving several care homes are feasible and might reduce loneliness and social isolation

Simple low-cost video technology allowed residents in different care homes to enjoy taking part in virtual quizzes. Staff support was needed but new research found that the sessions were feasible and low-cost. This is the first study to trial connecting care homes virtually via quiz sessions. Interviews revealed that residents felt more connected with each ...

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A combination of tests is needed to diagnose a dangerous type of meningitis in children

Meningitis caused by tuberculosis (TB) is rare in the UK, but it is a dangerous disease which can be fatal or leave people with disabilities. Children are particularly vulnerable to poor outcomes. TB is better known for causing lung disease, but the bacteria can also infect the brain, causing TB meningitis. The disease is often ...

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Short term palliative care reduced costs without compromising quality for people with neurological conditions

People with long term neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis may have important needs that are not met within standard care. Palliative care considers the whole person, not just the illness, and aims to manage pain and other distressing symptoms while also providing psychological, social and spiritual support for ...

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People with anaemia may not benefit from iron therapy ahead of major abdominal surgery, research finds

People with anaemia who were due to have major abdominal surgery did not see the expected benefits from receiving iron infusions in advance. A new study found that iron infusions did not reduce blood transfusions or deaths compared to a dummy treatment with salt water (placebo). There was no reduction in complications while people were ...

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Strong patient-staff relationships are key to reducing conflict in high-security psychiatric hospitals

Aggression and conflict are common in high-security psychiatric hospitals. High-risk interventions – including restraint, seclusion and tranquilisers – are sometimes used to manage violence. De-escalation is an alternative approach which may help staff respond to aggression without using these restrictive interventions. It trains staff to recognise and understand the early signs of agitation and irritation. ...

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Lonely young people have an increased risk of mental health problems years later: research suggests lockdown could have a long term effect

Loneliness and social isolation increase the long-term risk of depression and anxiety in children and teenagers, a recent review of research suggests. It included studies carried out before the current pandemic and found that negative impacts on mental health were evident up to nine years later. Children and teenagers rely on close friendships more than ...

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Young offenders with undiagnosed language problems are twice as likely to reoffend within a year

Young people convicted of a criminal offence are much more likely to have another conviction within 12 months if they have an undiagnosed language problem. People with developmental language disorder (DLD) have difficulty expressing themselves verbally or understanding what is said to them. The disorder often starts in early childhood but persists into adulthood and ...

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Laser surgery for an enlarged prostate is no more effective than standard surgery

Two procedures to treat men with enlarged prostates are both effective, new research has shown. A benign enlarged prostate is not cancer and is not usually a serious threat to health. But it is common in men over 50 and some need surgery to treat troublesome urinary symptoms caused by the growing prostate. The most ...

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An innovative swallowable sponge detects Barrett's oesophagus in people with heartburn, study shows

Detection of a pre-cancerous throat condition called Barrett’s oesophagus can be improved with the use of an innovative swallowable sponge and laboratory test, a large multicentre trial found. Heartburn, caused by acid reflux from the stomach up into the gullet (oesophagus), is common among people visiting their GP. It is usually treated with acid suppressants. ...

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Men who have sex with men are less likely to use drugs to prevent HIV if they are young, unemployed or have a low disposable income, research finds

The use of drugs to reduce the transmission of HIV has increased substantially in recent years. New research found that two in five men who have sex with men (MSM) attending sexual health clinics in London and Brighton had taken drugs as a precaution in case they encounter the virus. At the time of the ...

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First-time mothers need clear and consistent information about the care they can expect after giving birth

The first six to eight weeks after giving birth is an important time in a woman’s transition into motherhood. But currently little is known about what pregnant women expect, or how well informed they feel in advance about the care they will receive during this postnatal period. The current national guidance in England covers the ...

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Increased awareness of developmental disorders can reduce stigma, research in Ethiopia finds

Family and community support is vital to offset the damaging effects of stigma associated with autism, intellectual disability and other developmental disorders, a study in Ethiopia shows. Without such help, children with these disorders and their families are more likely to struggle, and to isolate themselves from society. Negative reactions to children with developmental disorders ...

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Physiotherapist-led exercise eases shoulder pain but ultrasound guidance for injections makes no difference, study finds

A large trial of interventions for people with shoulder pain showed that they benefitted more from personalised exercise programmes supervised by physiotherapists than from an exercise leaflet and standard advice. It also showed that guiding shoulder injections using ultrasound provided no added benefit over the usual, non-guided approach to these injections. Pain associated with structures ...

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