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.


Men find self-testing acceptable to test for sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common and treatable but men are more reluctant than women to have a test. Self-testing is known to be accurate, but can men use this more? Most men aged 18-35 would be willing to collect and send off a urine sample using a kit to test for STIs, according to ...


Patients receiving pedometers by post increased their physical activity for at least 12 months

Use of pedometers, received by post, resulted in a sustained increase in walking of around 650 steps a day, equivalent to about one km or 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. The study was set in London general practices and achieved similar results whether or not people had additional support from ...


Skin-to-skin contact improves breastfeeding of healthy babies

Early skin-to-skin contact improves breastfeeding of healthy full-term babies. Skin-to-skin contact is the direct contact between a naked baby and the mother’s bare chest. It can occur before or after the baby is cleaned following birth. This review found that about a quarter more women who have this contact with their babies are still breastfeeding ...


Nurses and pharmacists can prescribe as effectively as doctors

Prescribing by suitably-trained pharmacists and nurses offers similar outcomes to prescribing by doctors, at least in the management of chronic conditions. This Cochrane review pooled clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction across 45 studies of nurse or pharmacist prescribing compared with doctor prescribing. Most studies were of chronic disease management in primary care settings in high ...


A group weight loss programme shows promise compared with usual approach

A new, intensive NHS group weight management programme was more effective than the more common individual sessions with a practice nurse. In an NIHR-funded trial based in deprived districts in East London, people who took part in the primary care group-based programme lost nearly 2kg more than those who had individual sessions with a nurse. ...


Personalised letters and a “taster session” help double attendance at NHS stop smoking services

Attendance at NHS stop smoking services (SSS) almost doubled after smokers were sent letters showing their personalised risk of serious illness if they continued to smoke alongside invitations to try the service. Less than 5% of smokers attend these services in England and numbers are on the decline, although this is one of the most ...


GP letter to improve medication adherence did not reduce unplanned care for children with asthma

A one-off GP letter reminding parents of children with asthma to use their medications over the August summer holiday did not prevent a characteristic annual peak in unplanned care on returning to school in September, but did lead to more prescriptions. Unplanned care represents visits to the GP or accident and emergency that is not ...


Research highlights the challenges of preventing diabetes with group education sessions

In people at high risk of type 2 diabetes, the educational programme ‘Let’s prevent’ had minimal impact on blood sugar control, and cholesterol. Overall it did not prevent people developing diabetes, though the risk was reduced for the 29% of people who attended all three sessions. The NIHR-funded trial compared three educational sessions plus telephone ...


MRI scan before biopsy could detect more prostate cancer

In men with a raised prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test, which can be a sign of prostate cancer, MRI scanning before standard biopsy could allow more targeted biopsies and increase diagnosis of medium and high-risk prostate cancer. In this NIHR-funded study, 576 men with suspected prostate cancer received a multi-parametric (MP)-MRI scan in addition ...


Mesh inserted during stoma formation reduces future hernia risk

A mesh inserted when creating a new stoma reduces the chance of a hernia developing around it (parastomal hernia) from about 37% to 16%. Meaning that about five mesh procedures are needed to prevent one hernia appearing within the first five years. A stoma is an opening of part of the intestine onto the skin, ...

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