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.


Wider stakeholder involvement could overcome resistance to modernising healthcare services

Among principles that can help when decommissioning out-dated, unsafe or poor value services are clear leadership and transparency about the reason for change with patients, clinicians and local communities. Modernising healthcare often involves reducing, replacing and removing services. This is called decommissioning and the task varies with the local context. This NIHR-funded study reviewed previous ...


Second-hand smoke levels in Scottish prisons equivalent to living with a smoker

Staff in Scottish prisons inhale roughly the same amount of second-hand smoke at work as they would in the average smoking household (32μg of fine particulate matter per m3). Some activities, like inspecting a smoky prison cell, exposed staff to far higher levels (up to 753.6μg per m3). Despite smoking bans in public spaces across ...


Carefully managed antibiotic use could halve antibiotic-resistant infections

Antibiotic stewardship programmes could halve the number of infections due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria compared with unguided prescribing. Combining these programmes with hand hygiene, such as washing hands with soap and water and using alcohol-based hand-rubs, could reduce antibiotic resistance further. Bacterial resistance to existing antibiotics is increasing, and for some conditions, there aren’t enough new ...


Placing wet gauze on babies’ tummies speeds up urine collection

Almost a third of infants managed to urinate within five minutes after a painless, cheap technique that stimulates the skin, compared with 12% of infants observed only, as is standard practice. The ‘Quick-Wee’ method involved rubbing the babies’ abdomens gently with gauze soaked in cold saline before collecting urine. This trial was carried out with ...


Individual support of nurses using electronic medicine monitors can improve HIV treatment

Use of electronic pill bottles that record when they are opened and follow-up discussion of the printed readouts with nurses improved HIV outcomes. It is thought that patients became more reliable in taking the medication, which can have complicated scheduling. Overall, the HIV virus in the blood and the risk of treatment failure were lower ...


Older people with acute coronary syndromes may benefit from routine invasive therapy

Routine invasive therapy for people aged over 75 with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndromes reduced the risk of dying, having a heart attack or stroke, and need for further intervention. However, there was a higher risk of major bleeding compared to treating people with medication. This is the largest review to date to gather the evidence ...


New evidence confirms three-yearly surveillance interval for people at intermediate risk of bowel cancer

People with benign growths (adenomas), who are at intermediate risk of bowel cancer, benefit from follow-up colonoscopy. However, some of the patients at the lower end of risk in this intermediate category may not benefit from more than one follow-up. This NIHR-funded cohort study reviewed data for 11,944 intermediate-risk patients from UK hospitals. Within this group, ...


Simple preventive actions by parents linked to fewer child injuries

Education is promoted as a way to tackle the scale of avoidable injuries to young children. Children have two to five times the risk of an accident leading to injury if a parent leaves them on a raised surface, places hot drinks within reach, or does not put medicines away straight after use. For example, ...


Head position after acute stroke does not affect disability outcomes

Lying flat for 24 hours after a stroke is no better than sitting up at an angle of at least 30 degrees. These differences in early head position did not affect people’s levels of disability or survival to 90 days, which was more than 92% in both groups. It had been thought that the head ...


Early discharge ‘hospital-at-home’ gives similar outcomes to in-patient care

Supported early discharge, where patients receive on-going hospital-level treatment in their own home, had no effect on mortality compared with standard in-patient care. Patients had shorter hospital stays, were more likely to be satisfied and less likely to end up in residential care. This updated Cochrane review identified 32 international trials comparing early discharge hospital-at-home ...

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