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.


Anti-inflammatory drugs do not lift depression in bipolar disorder

Two drugs which are often used to treat inflammation failed  to help people with bipolar depression. Previous research has suggested that inflammation of the brain may be involved in some mental illnesses, including depression. It meant that drugs which block inflammation could potentially be a new way of treating depression. But the first large clinical ...


Adopted children can experience lasting mental health problems

Adopted children in the UK can face enduring mental health and behavioural problems. New research found no improvement in children's mental health four years after they were adopted. The children's emotional and behavioural problems increased with the number of adverse childhood experiences they had. These adverse childhood experiences include abuse, neglect and unstable living arrangements. ...


Screening for lymphoedema after breast cancer surgery could identify women likely to benefit from compression sleeves

Some women having breast cancer surgery would benefit from screening to pick up lymphoedema (swelling of the arm that can become long-term). This can develop as a complication of surgery if lymph nodes are removed. Lymph nodes under the arm normally drain fluid from the breast. They may be removed during breast cancer surgery to ...


The weekly break from dialysis is harmful to patients with kidney failure

The way that dialysis is normally scheduled in hospitals leaves a gap that may be harmful to the health of kidney patients. If, in addition, patients miss a scheduled session, the risks of hospital admission or death increase dramatically. When someone’s kidneys are not working properly, waste products and fluid can build up to dangerous ...


Early warning scores used in hospitals must be based on sound science

Early warning scores have been used in UK hospitals since the late 1990s to minimise harm to patients. They are designed to highlight deterioration of a patient’s health using measurements of temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and other easily-measured signs.  Research has shown that changes in these signs could mean patients are at increased risk ...


High rates of delirium, persistent fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder were common after severe infection in previous coronavirus outbreaks

Little is known about the mental health consequences of severe COVID-19 illness because it is caused by a new coronavirus. Previous outbreaks caused by other coronaviruses (severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, MERS) may provide insights into ongoing problems after recovery from severe illness.  Researchers looked at reports of psychiatric problems ...


Fluoxetine does not improve outcomes after stroke

Many people experience disability after a stroke, such as weakness in the arm or leg, or problems with language and communication. The antidepressant drug fluoxetine has been used to reduce disability following a stroke but it is unclear how effective it is. The first of three large-scale trials into the impact of fluoxetine in stroke ...


Cycling to work lowers risk of illness and death compared to driving

People who cycle to work are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death than those who drive. This is seen across all occupational groups and suggests that cycling to work could benefit people from all economic backgrounds. The UK government has advised against using public transport during the coronavirus pandemic. This could result ...


New tool for assessing the severity of type 2 diabetes could help personalise treatment and improve outcomes

A new severity scoring system for type 2 diabetes may be better at identifying patients at risk of declining health than the current commonly used blood test. The Diabetes Severity Score (DISSCO) is a computer algorithm that combines information routinely collected in primary care. Researchers found that a higher DISSCO score was linked to an ...


Lung health checks in supermarket car parks reach older smokers in deprived communities

Tests carried out on mobile units parked in supermarket car parks were a popular and effective way to check the lungs of at-risk current and former smokers in a study in Manchester.     Simple tests of lung function in these mobile units found more than a third of those screened had evidence of airflow obstruction. This ...

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