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.


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 ...


Social prescribing could empower patients to address non-medical problems in their lives

Many GP practices are exploring social prescribing, which is a way of linking patients to sources of support in the local community. Social prescribing addresses non-medical needs such as loneliness and financial difficulties. The NHS employs link workers to connect patients with local support networks. During the COVID-19 crisis, link workers may have an even ...


Cancer screening across the world is failing people with mental illness

People with mental illness are nearly 25% less likely to receive cancer screening than those in the general population. Results from a large international study suggest this is one explanation for why people with mental illness tend to die 15-20 years earlier than other people. The study included more than 4.5 million people across the ...


Support programme for GP practices increases referrals for domestic abuse

Many GPs take little action when they encounter women they suspect are affected by domestic abuse. A training and support programme used by hundreds of practices across several London boroughs was successful in increasing referrals to specialist services, a study found. The research shows that the right interventions can help doctors and nurses ensure that ...


Functional braces are effective alternatives to plaster casts for ruptured Achilles tendons

Early weight-bearing in a below-knee rigid boot, a functional brace, following ruptured Achilles tendon can achieve similar results to traditional plaster casting. This NIHR-funded trial included 540 people, and after nine months there appeared to be no difference between the two treatments in terms of how well patients recovered from their injury. The functional brace ...

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