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.


New research supports the move to raise the blood pressure target for frail older people

Frail older people may not benefit from the same tight blood pressure control that has been shown to benefit relatively younger, healthier groups in existing trials. The medical records of more than 400,000 patients in primary care were reviewed. The researchers found that lower than normal blood pressures were associated with a higher death rate ...


Ambulance staff who respond to suicides need more support

UK ambulance staff report lasting and troubling memories of being called to suicides. But in a small qualitative study, they said there was little acknowledgment in the workplace that such events are traumatic. This is important since someone exposed to suicide is known to be themselves at greater risk of suicide. Each worker interviewed had ...


Interactive dashboard identifies patients at risk of unsafe prescribing in a flexible and sustainable way

The Salford Medication Safety Dashboard (SMASH) was successfully used in general practices with the help of on-site pharmacists. SMASH is a web application that flags up a list of patients who are potentially at risk from medicines they have been prescribed.  There was an initial period of increased workload when SMASH was used to review ...


Alcohol advice needs to address how and why people drink, not just how much

GPs can help patients reduce their drinking by providing brief advice during a routine appointment. New research found that discussions on alcohol are most effective when they reflect how and why people drink, rather than simply how much. Most people who regularly drink more than 14 units a week (the recommended limit in the UK) ...


GPs who make the most urgent referrals for cancer see the fewest cancer deaths among their patients

GP practices across England vary in how frequently they make urgent referrals for suspected cancer. Patients from general practices which make the most urgent referrals are more likely to have their cancer diagnosed at an early stage. A new study found that they are about 4% less likely to die within 5 years. This is ...


Decision aids quickly and accurately rule out heart attack for almost half of all patients tested

Decision aids provided immediate reassurance to almost half of all patients arriving at emergency departments with a suspected heart attack. Use of the aids, which are based on a single blood test, accurately ruled out heart attacks in patients with relevant symptoms. Aids could provide early reassurance for worried patients and families and avoid many ...


Therapists and patients have good quality interactions during telephone sessions

The quality of interactions between therapists and their patients is as good by telephone as in face-to-face sessions. A review of the evidence found little difference in the interaction regardless of how therapy was delivered. Telephone sessions were shorter but measures such as empathy and attentiveness, as well as patients’ readiness to disclose information, was ...


A simple test may predict the risk of hospitalisation for flare-up in patients with COPD, a common lung disease

The sit-to-stand test, which requires only a chair and a stopwatch, could identify patients with a common lung disease who are at high risk of being admitted to hospital. Researchers found that the test, which takes less than five minutes to perform, also predicted the length of their hospital stay. The study looked at patients ...


Patients are often unsatisfied with the explanation they receive when something goes wrong

Patients have a legal right to know when something goes wrong with their care. But previous research has shown that they do not always get a satisfactory explanation. Researchers in Leeds and Bradford explored the expectations and challenges faced by both patients and healthcare professionals in talking about clinical errors. They found patients and professionals ...


High-intensity interval training rapidly improves fitness in patients awaiting surgery for urological cancer

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) significantly improved men’s fitness in the short timeframe before cancer surgery. A small study found that HIIT improved the heart and lung (cardiorespiratory) function of men with urological cancers such as of the prostate, bladder or kidney. The authors hope their findings will lead to the development of effective exercise regimes ...

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