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.


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, ...


Postoperative radiotherapy reduces survival after surgery to remove non-small cell lung cancer

Postoperative radiotherapy increases the risk of death by 18% for patients with non-small cell lung cancer that has been removed by surgery. Just over half of patients (53%) given radiotherapy after surgery survived to two years following treatment. This compared to 58% of patients who did not receive postoperative radiotherapy. Previous evidence had suggested that ...


Suction drainage after rectal cancer surgery does not reduce infection

Placing a suction drain in the pelvic cavity does not reduce the risk of pelvic infection after commonly-used surgery for rectal cancer. A French trial comparing results of surgery with and without pelvic drainage showed no difference in risk of infection within 30 days. The risk of infection was about 17%. The drainage technique is ...


Intensive follow-up following curative bowel cancer surgery may detect recurrent cancers sooner but does not improve survival

Intensive follow-up of patients who have been successfully treated for bowel cancer does not improve survival outcomes compared to less intensive follow-up. This systematic review included 15 randomised controlled trials comparing different intensities of follow-up. Protocols varied in terms of the number of tests, appointments or their setting (e.g. GP or hospital) - none of ...


Collaborative care can be moderately effective at treating depression regardless of physical health status

Collaborative care can be moderately effective at treating depression compared to usual care, whether or not people also have a long-term condition such as cancer or heart disease. Collaboration was provided by a case manager in primary care who was not a mental health professional. They coordinated a treatment plan with input from a GP ...


Antenatal corticosteroids reduce breathing problems in late preterm babies

Giving corticosteroids to women at risk of preterm birth at 34 weeks of pregnancy or later reduced the risk of severe breathing problems in the baby after birth from 1.9% to 1.1%. Steroids also reduced the risk for babies born by planned caesarean section after 37 weeks (so not premature). Steroids are known to be ...

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