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.


Acupuncture shown to have benefits for treatment of some chronic pain

Acupuncture is not a placebo for treatment of chronic pain. This NIHR-funded systematic review shows that acupuncture is better than usual care and sham acupuncture for pain from musculoskeletal conditions, knee osteoarthritis and chronic headache. This NIHR review was large with over 140 trials overall, and the direct comparison with sham acupuncture helps to address ...


Induction of labour may be considered in pregnant women with a large baby

Induction of labour does not increase the risk of caesarean delivery in pregnant women with a larger than average baby. This is based on a review of four trials of 1190 women with a suspected large baby who were allocated either to have labour induced from 38 weeks or to watchful waiting. Induction did not ...


Asthma self-management programmes can reduce unscheduled care

People with asthma who receive supported self-management are less likely to attend A&E or be admitted to hospital. The interventions are unlikely to increase overall costs for healthcare services. Those who self-manage are also likely to have more controlled asthma and a better quality of life. This extensive overview of systematic reviews included evidence from ...


Steroid injections into the inner ear may be safe for treating Ménière’s disease

Injecting steroids into the space behind the ear drum may be a safer alternative to injections of gentamycin for treating Ménière’s disease. This disease is marked by severe attacks of dizziness and balance problems. This NIHR-funded trial randomised 60 people with Ménière’s disease who experienced severe attacks of vertigo and had not responded to standard ...


Pelvic floor exercises may reduce need for further treatments for pelvic organ prolapse

Pelvic floor muscle training reduced symptoms at two years slightly more than the improvement seen in women who just received a leaflet with lifestyle advice. In addition to this 1 point change on a 28 point scale, 8% fewer women who had training needed further treatment for prolapse. This randomised controlled trial included 412 women ...


Combination inhaler treatment in emergency departments may reduce admissions for asthma attacks

Using a combination of two inhaled drugs to open the airways may modestly reduce the need to admit an adult with asthma attack to hospital, though the underlying evidence is weak. The first-line treatment for an asthma attack is an inhaled β2 agonist, like salbutamol. This Cochrane review compared emergency department treatment with this drug ...


Pneumococcal vaccines for people with COPD reduce their chance of catching pneumonia

Pneumococcal vaccines reduce the risk of community-acquired pneumonia in people with moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pneumococcal vaccination is currently recommended for people with COPD and other respiratory diseases. However, until now there has been a lack of data whether it actually improves outcomes in these groups. This updated Cochrane review identified ...


Drugs may help people pass larger kidney stones

Three-quarters of people with a large (more than 5mm) single kidney stone will pass the stone within six weeks if they take an alpha-blocker. About half of those taking placebo or no treatment pass the stone in the same period. Renal colic is a severe pain in the flank and is usually caused by kidney ...


Surgical replacement of aortic valves offers good long-term survival

People undergoing surgery to replace a narrowed aortic heart valve (aortic stenosis) have only slightly lower life expectancy than people without the condition. Surgery was also associated with a low rate of stroke. This review gathered data from 93 observational studies that followed long term outcomes for people with severe aortic stenosis who had the ...


Induction of labour within 24 hours, if waters break at 37 weeks of pregnancy, can reduce womb infection

Inducing labour may halve the risk of infection in the womb when waters break from 37 weeks. The procedure was started within 24 hours and was compared to waiting for labour to start on its own. Waters breaking at full term without the onset of labour is called pre-labour rupture of membranes. This can increase ...

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