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.


Licensing decisions by local authorities can reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions

This NIHR-funded study found that local authorities in England that were more active in the use of their alcohol licensing powers saw a greater reduction in alcohol-related hospital admissions. The more active local authorities were in reducing access to alcohol, the greater the drop in admissions. Local authorities have two main powers that can be ...


Home oxygen therapy prescribed for 15 hours a day did not reduce breathlessness at six months and is hard to take for people with severe chronic heart failure

This NIHR-funded trial found no evidence that long-term home oxygen therapy improves symptoms or quality of life for people with severe chronic heart failure. There were encouraging signs after three months but these were not sustained at six months by which time there was no difference between the oxygen therapy group, who continued to receive ...


Vaginal progesterone suppositories did not boost the number of live births in women with recurrent miscarriage

A large trial found that vaginal progesterone suppositories taken in the first trimester of pregnancy were no better than a placebo at increasing live birth rates in women with previous unexplained recurring miscarriages. At 36 hospitals in the UK, and nine in the Netherlands, women under 40 used suppositories twice a day soon after a ...


Ultrasound guided nerve blocks are safe, effective and save time

This Cochrane review found that nerve blocks to provide local anaesthesia in the arms or legs of adults before a surgical procedure were safe and effective when guided by ultrasound compared to other guidance techniques. They were successful about nine times out of ten with ultrasound guidance, compared to about eight times out of ten ...


A trial of probiotics for treating sepsis in very premature babies poses more questions than it answers

Contrary to a previous review of trials, this large, NIHR-funded trial found that probiotic treatment did not prevent two common life-threatening conditions in very premature babies. The conditions were necrotising enterocolitis, which is a severe gut inflammation/infection that can result in the death of intestinal tissue, and sepsis (blood poisoning) from bacteria that have crossed ...


NHS services can help in sustaining quit rates for smoking

Almost eight per cent of users of NHS Stop Smoking services are still smoke-free after a year, compared with only about three per cent of smokers who try to quit without treatment. This NIHR-funded study added data on quit rates at one year to routinely collected short-term data, by showing England’s stop smoking services achieved ...


Providing regular feedback on patient outcomes improves anaesthetists’ performance

This NIHR-funded study found that enhanced continuous monitoring and feedback was associated with an improvement in the performance of anaesthetists. A detailed monthly report contained data about outcomes, such as nausea, pain and discomfort, for individual patients. Anaesthetists received data by subspecialty and this included details of unusual cases, comparative data across patients and anaesthetists ...


A new tool may help identify more patients at risk of developing pressure ulcers

This was an NIHR-funded study to develop and evaluate a new pressure ulcer assessment tool, called PURPOSE-T. The tool, developed as part of a five year NIHR research programme, is used by following a manual and assesses eight risk factors: mobility; skin; previous pressure ulcer; sensory perception; perfusion (blood flow); nutrition; moisture; and diabetes. Field testing ...


Lack of evidence on whether collagenase or surgery is more clinically or cost effective in managing Dupuytren’s contracture

This review aimed to compare injections of collagenase clostridium histolyticum with standard surgical treatments for Dupuytren’s contracture. Unfortunately existing trials are small and there are no head to head trials of surgery vs collagenase, so it is not possible to determine which therapy is more effective in the short or longer term - nor which ...


Saline irrigation and corticosteroid spray are effective first choice treatments for chronic sinusitis

The authors of this systematic review found that high-volume saline irrigation and corticosteroid nasal sprays were effective at reducing symptoms of sinusitis. They recommend a combination of these two therapies as the first line treatment of choice, in accordance with guidelines from the Royal College of Surgeons and ENT UK. In addition they found that, ...

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