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.


Cognitive behavioural therapy may help people with persistent low back pain

This NIHR-funded systematic review aimed to assess the effectiveness of talking therapies in improving outcomes for people with non-specific low back pain. It found that cognitive behavioural therapies were more effective than no treatment and provided some benefit compared with other active treatments like physiotherapy with education, home and clinic based exercise, or to less active ...


Exercise referral schemes increase physical activity for some

This NIHR-funded systematic review found that exercise referral schemes increased physical activity in people who have no or little physical activity to begin with compared with usual care or advice. But these schemes do not appear to be cost-effective for all people. Exercise referral schemes may be more effective for people with coronary heart disease ...


Reducing street lighting doesn’t lead to more road traffic accidents or crime

This NIHR study found that reducing or adapting street lighting was not linked to more road traffic accidents or crime in the UK. Many local authorities have changed their street lighting in recent years – switching off entirely, switching off for part of the night, dimming, or changing to energy efficient LED bulbs – to ...


Talking therapies may prevent relapse of depression

This review looked at how effective different psychological "talking" therapies were at preventing relapse of depression. It found that cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy all reduced the risk of depression relapse over a year by 20 to 25% compared with a control treatment. There was further evidence that the effect for cognitive ...


Designing successful telehealth interventions

This NIHR-funded review identified three general principles for designing effective telehealth programmes for people with long-term health conditions. First, the technologies need to help people living with disease to build effective relationships with doctors, nurses and others. Second, there needs to be a good fit between the technology and everyday routine of the patient. Thirdly, the ...


Two drugs only partially helpful for pyoderma gangrenosum

This NIHR trial found no difference in the healing of pyoderma gangrenosum over six weeks in adults treated with prednisolone or ciclosporin. Pyoderma gangrenosum is a rare serious skin condition causing painful ulcers, and over half of ulcers had failed to heal after six months of either treatment. There were more serious side effects – ...


A hormone-releasing coil is best for relieving heavy periods

This Cochrane systematic review of trials found that a progesterone releasing coil device (mainly Mirena®) inserted in the womb was more effective at reducing heavy periods than taking oral tablets. The coil led to more minor side effects, but improved quality of life, compared with tablets. Surgical removal of the womb, hysterectomy, was more effective ...


Common migraine prevention treatments found to be equally effective

This review found that the main drugs used for preventing migraine were all effective compared with placebo or dummy treatment. The results were less clear cut when comparing drugs directly against each other as there were fewer trials. This review highlights the range of drugs used to prevent migraines, reflecting the number of possible treatments ...


Bisphosphonates help prevent fractures in men with low bone density

This systematic review found that bisphosphonate drugs, taken for at least six months, improved bone density and lowered fracture risk in men with low bone density, compared with a placebo or supplements (calcium alone or with vitamin D). Bisphosphonates have been extensively researched for treating women with low bone density after the menopause, but this ...


Giving obese pregnant women metformin had no effect on baby’s weight at birth

A large trial found that giving obese pregnant women the diabetes drug, metformin, to prevent heavier babies, had no effect compared with an inactive dummy tablet. The trial was funded by the NIHR and Medical Research Council, and was the first to give metformin, a diabetes drug that is safe in pregnancy, to pregnant women ...

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