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.


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 ...


Apps to help patients take medication on time need to be evaluated in a consistent way

Patients who used apps to remind them to take their medication were more likely to say they took it as prescribed. A review found that patients were twice as likely to say they followed the information given by their prescriber (adhered to their medication) if they used an app. Taking medication as prescribed is important ...


People with late-stage Parkinson’s need personalised, flexible, home-based care

People with late-stage Parkinson’s disease have complex, unmet needs, but their voices are often not heard, say researchers. One-on-one interviews revealed that people in this group need more flexible, personalised care at home and in the community to help them manage their symptoms and maintain control over their condition. The research also highlights the need ...


Loneliness, but not social isolation, predicts development of dementia in older people

Older people who feel lonely and have few close relationships may have an increased chance of developing dementia. Perhaps surprisingly, being socially isolated with few or infrequent social contacts does not seem to predict dementia risk, researchers found. This study was carried out before the coronavirus pandemic but the findings are relevant now, when the ...


Largest ever trial into a rare cancer of the urinary system shows clear benefits of chemotherapy after surgery

A rare cancer of the urinary system can be effectively treated with chemotherapy after surgery. The largest trial ever conducted into the disease found that giving chemotherapy halves the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery. The results provide clear evidence for this approach to become the new standard of care for patients whose ...

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