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.


Harm reduction approaches predicted to reduce rates of new hepatitis C infection for people who inject drugs

A combination of providing clean needles and syringes and offering safer oral therapy, such as methadone, reduced the predicted risk of becoming infected with hepatitis C virus by 71%. Providing both services to people who inject drugs was likely to be cost-effective and has the potential to be cost-saving in some parts of the UK, ...


Low FODMAP diet may improve irritable bowel symptoms more than other diets

Adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) who followed a low FODMAP diet had fewer symptoms than those who followed standard dietary advice. They scored their symptoms about 50 points better on a 500 point scale. The low FODMAP diet is an emerging approach for IBS. It is based on the theory that certain carbohydrates can ...


Two nerve drugs are not suitable for treating long-term low back pain

The drugs gabapentin and pregabalin (gabapentinoids) were found not to help lower back pain that had lasted more than three months. Gabapentin gave no benefit compared with placebo, while pregabalin was less effective than other painkillers. Both were associated with several side effects, such as dizziness. Long-term low back pain without clear cause is very ...


Specialist-led improvised music therapy did not improve children’s symptoms of autism

After five months, improvised music therapy added to enhanced usual care was no better than enhanced usual care alone for young children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Clinically meaningful improvements in social and communication skills were not achieved in either group over this time. This result from a large well designed NIHR-funded international trial ...


Men feel physically and psychologically ill-prepared for prostate cancer surgery

Following prostate cancer surgery men often experience physical changes, such as urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, causing negative emotions and distress. This review found that men felt poorly prepared – psychologically and physically – for the changes they might experience after surgery. Surgery was often described as "life-changing", and men described worrying about their future. ...


Blood test could shorten antibiotic treatment in newborns with suspected sepsis

Measuring procalcitonin levels in newborns with suspected sepsis in the first days of life reduced antibiotic duration by 10 hours compared with standard care. There was no increase in the risk of re-infection or death. Systemic infection can be rapidly life-threatening in newborn babies, so those with risk factors are often treated pre-emptively with intravenous ...


Computerised decision support can improve antibiotic prescribing in hospitals

Using a computerised decision support tool (software used by hospital prescribers) improved the adequacy of antibiotic coverage and adherence to guidelines, and may have reduced the risk of people dying. Only four studies reported on resistance to antibiotics, so no conclusions can be drawn about the impact of this tool on resistance. Antibiotic stewardship programmes ...


Faecal transplant effectively treats recurrent or unresponsive Clostridium difficile

Using a faecal microbiota transplant cured 92% of people with Clostridium difficile that had recurred or had not responded to antibiotics. Faecal transplant also had a lower risk of treatment failure than the antibiotic vancomycin. C. difficile is a potentially serious infection of the gut that can occur after a course of antibiotics unbalances the ...


Comprehensive assessment when older people are in hospital improves their chances of getting home and living independently

Older people who received comprehensive geriatric assessment when in hospital were slightly more likely to be living in their own homes one year later. Sixty percent were discharged to independent living compared with 56% receiving standard ward care. People who had received this proper assessment were also 20% less likely to be in a nursing ...


Exercise improves symptoms and function for people with ankylosing spondylitis

People with ankylosing spondylitis showed improvement in their symptoms and their ability to perform day-to-day tasks when they did more exercise. Symptom and function scores improved by almost one point on a 10-point scale after 3 to 12 weeks of exercise. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis which mainly affects the spine, causing pain, ...

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