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.


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, ...


Blood pressure self-monitoring works best when people are well-supported

People with high blood pressure are more likely to have their blood pressure controlled after 12 months if they self-monitor and receive counselling by telephone compared with usual monitoring in the clinic. When people were asked to self-monitor their blood pressure with no additional support, it was no better than getting their blood pressure measured ...


Aerobic exercise moderately reduces depressive symptoms in new mothers

For women who have had a baby in the past year, doing aerobic exercise can reduce the level of depressive symptoms they experience. This NIHR funded review of 13 studies showed that involving new mothers in group exercise programmes, or advising them on an exercise of their choice, reduced depressive symptoms compared with usual care. ...


Using a ‘telephone first’ approach may increase the total time GPs spend consulting

A system where all patients have a telephone call with their GP before an appointment decreased the number of face-to-face consultations but increased telephone consultations. There was an overall 8% increase in the time GPs spent consulting, though there was large variation across practices. This NIHR-funded study compared 147 practices in England before and after ...


Uncertain benefit of adding amisulpiride to clozapine for treatment-resistant schizophrenia

For adults with schizophrenia who continue to have symptoms despite treatment with the antipsychotic drug clozapine, adding amisulpride (another antipsychotic) was not shown to improve their chance of responding. It is not yet clear whether a larger trial would show an effect, as too few people were recruited to the NIHR-funded trial to be sure. ...


Checklists are no substitute for experience in spotting patients who are deteriorating

Experience was found to count in recognising and acting on patient deterioration. National guidelines recommend the use of “track and trigger” systems to monitor seriously ill patients for the signs of deterioration. Following their identification, prompt referral to critical care teams is suggested, for example, but this does not always happen reliably. This realist review ...

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