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.


Antibiotics by injection into the eye can prevent severe infection following cataract surgery

Injecting the antibiotics vancomycin or moxifloxacin into the eyeball after eye surgery can reduce the risk of developing severe infection inside the eye (endophthalmitis) compared to other routes. Cefuroxime is currently the antibiotic of choice for this in the UK, but researchers wanted to see if drugs with lower rates of resistance might also be ...


Counselling services help expectant mothers quit smoking

Counselling services, including cognitive behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing, help women to stop smoking during pregnancy by increasing quit rates. Feedback and financial incentives may also be effective, though evidence is weaker for both. Education alone and peer support were not found to be effective. Some of the counselling interventions are already at least partly ...


MRI scans help confirm ultrasound diagnosis of fetal brain abnormalities

If fetal brain abnormality is suspected on a pregnancy ultrasound, following this with in-utero MRI (iuMRI) improves diagnostic accuracy. This sequence could allow more informed discussions and decision-making around whether to continue with or terminate a pregnancy. The NIHR funded study included 565 women of 18 weeks’ pregnancy or more who received ultrasound followed by ...


The “BabyClear” programme helped pregnant women stop smoking in North East England

An evidence based stop-smoking intervention called “BabyClear” increased the chance that pregnant smokers in North East England managed to ‘quit’ smoking by the time of delivery by around 80%. It cost £952 for each extra woman who stopped. Smoking in pregnancy is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, but pregnant women continue to smoke, particularly in ...


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 ...

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