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.


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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.   ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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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