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.


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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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