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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Adding behavioural support to drug treatment helps more people quit smoking

Among people using drug treatment to stop smoking, adding telephone or face-to-face behavioural support boosts their chances of success. Adding support increases the proportion of people quitting from around 17% on average to about 20%. This is a small but worthwhile increase given the health risks associated with smoking. These were the findings of an …

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Physician associates appear to make a positive contribution to inpatient care

Physician associates improve continuity of care and patient experience within the hospital setting. This first evaluation of the new role in the NHS suggests they could provide safe and equivalent care on defined tasks, freeing up time for doctors, and help with patient flow. However, some say that the actual and perceived potential is being …

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Virtual reality can help reduce the pain and anxiety of stressful medical procedures for children

Virtual reality shows promise in helping to distract children from self-reported pain and anxiety during medical procedures. Younger children in particular may benefit from the intervention. This review of seventeen trials looked at virtual reality interventions tested in trials with children receiving treatment for burns, dental and tumour related health needs, and during needle insertion …

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On balance, antiplatelet drugs may be restarted for stroke survivors who have bled into the brain

Early research suggests that antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, can provide more benefit than harm if restarted at about 2 to 3 months after a brain bleed. The results seem to apply best to those patients with a good prognosis who survive with less disability. Antiplatelet drugs are of proven benefit to those with a …

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Reminders to assess clotting risk increase the use of preventive measures

Reminders to assess clotting risk result in more patients being given appropriate anti-clotting measures in hospital. Computer alerts, in particular, are linked to better choice of prophylaxis and fewer blood clots in veins. Clots in deep leg veins or the lungs are common when people are bedbound in hospital. This updated Cochrane review assessed interventions …

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Cardiac rehabilitation for heart failure can improve quality of life and fitness

Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation may improve the quality of life and physical fitness of people with heart failure but does not reduce their risk of being admitted to hospital or dying. This is irrespective of factors such as age and ethnicity. This NIHR study summarised the outcome data from trials assessing exercise programmes for over 4,000 …

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Robot-assisted training offers little useful improvement in severe arm weakness and function after stroke

People who have severe arm weakness following stroke have no better function after robot-assisted training or enhanced upper limb therapy than those who have usual NHS care. This large multicentre trial, funded by the NIHR, randomised 770 adult stroke patients to robot-assisted training using the MIT-Manus robotic gym, to an enhanced therapy programme or to …

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Routine engagement in end of life planning can improve health outcomes for people with heart failure

Interventions that encourage healthcare professionals to engage in advance care planning with heart failure patients can work more effectively than stand-alone training activities in improving health outcomes. Approaches that involve patients to change clinicians’ professional practice behaviours, the use of reminder systems and educational meetings may offer the best potential. There is no cure for …

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Mucus-thinning drugs slightly reduce COPD symptom flare-ups

People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a slightly reduced risk of having a flare-up of symptoms if they take mucolytic drugs. The number of days on which they are too ill to perform their normal activities is also slightly reduced, from 1.57 days to 1.14 days per month. A review of placebo-controlled trials, …

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Non-invasive brain stimulation may improve outcomes for children with brain injury

Non-invasive brain stimulation may help improve limb function in children with motor disorders following brain injury, such as cerebral palsy or one-sided weakness. This is a relatively safe procedure where pads placed on the head deliver electric or magnetic currents, which are thought to activate the motor areas of the brain. This review evaluated 14 …

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