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Registry-based trials have emerged as a potentially cost-saving study methodology. Early estimates of cost savings, however, conflated the benefits associated with registry utilisation and those associated with other aspects of pragmatic trial designs, which might not all be as broadly applicable. In this study, we sought to build a practical tool that investigators could use across disciplines to estimate the ranges of potential cost differences associated with implementing registry-based trials versus standard clinical trials.
We built simulation Markov models to compare unique costs associated with data acquisition, cleaning, and linkage under a registry-based trial design versus a standard clinical trial. We conducted one-way, two-way, and probabilistic sensitivity analyses, varying study characteristics over broad ranges, to determine thresholds at which investigators might optimally select each trial design.
Registry-based trials were more cost effective than standard clinical trials 98.6% of the time. Data-related cost savings ranged from $4300 to $600,000 with variation in study characteristics. Cost differences were most reactive to the number of patients in a study, the number of data elements per patient available in a registry, and the speed with which research coordinators could manually abstract data. Registry incorporation resulted in cost savings when as few as 3768 independent data elements were available and when manual data abstraction took as little as 3.4 seconds per data field.
Registries offer important resources for investigators. When available, their broad incorporation may help the scientific community reduce the costs of clinical investigation. We offer here a practical tool for investigators to assess potential costs savings.
Heat stress is a global issue constraining pig productivity, and it is likely to intensify under future climate change. Technological advances in earth observation have made tools available that enable identification and mapping livestock species that are at risk of exposure to heat stress due to climate change. Here, we present a methodology to map the current and likely future heat stress risk in pigs using R software by combining the effects of temperature and relative humidity. We applied the method to growing-finishing pigs in Uganda. We mapped monthly heat stress risk and quantified the number of pigs exposed to heat stress using 18 global circulation models and projected impacts in the 2050s. Results show that more than 800 000 pigs in Uganda will be affected by heat stress in the future. The results can feed into evidence-based policy, planning and targeted resource allocation in the livestock sector.
Major depression is a significant problem for people with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its treatment remains difficult. A promising approach to treat depression is Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), a relatively new therapeutic approach rooted in mindfulness based stress-reduction (MBSR) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We conducted this study to examine the effectiveness of MBCT in reducing depression symptoms among people who have a TBI.
Twenty individuals diagnosed with major depression were recruited from a rehabilitation clinic and completed the 8-week MBCT intervention. Instruments used to measure depression symptoms included: BDI-II, PHQ-9, HADS, SF-36 (Mental Health subscale), and SCL-90 (Depression subscale). They were completed at baseline and post-intervention.
All instruments indicated a statistically significant reduction in depression symptoms post-intervention (p < .05). For example, the total mean score on the BDI-II decreased from 25.2 (9.8) at baseline to 18.2 (11.7) post-intervention (p=.001). Using a PHQ threshold of 10, the proportion of participants with a diagnosis of major depression was reduced by 59% at follow-up (p=.012).
Most participants reported reductions in depression symptoms after the intervention such that many would not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of major depression. This intervention may provide an opportunity to address a debilitating aspect of TBI and could be implemented concurrently with more traditional forms of treatment, possibly enhancing their success. The next step will involve the execution of multi-site, randomized controlled trials to fully demonstrate the value of the intervention.
Schizophrenia is a devastating mental disorder with diverse dimensions of symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, affective symptoms and alterations in cognition. Declarative memory deficits are among the most important factors leading to poor functional outcomes in this disorder. Recently it was supposed, that sleep disturbances in patients with schizophrenia might contribute to these memory impairments (Manoach et al. 2009, Ferrarelli et al. 2010, Lu and Göder 2012). In young healthy subjects it was shown that declarative memory consolidation was enhanced by inducing slow oscillation-like potential fields during sleep (Marshall et al. 2006). In the present study transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) was applied to 14 patients with schizophrenia on stable medication with a mean age of 33 years. The main effects of tDCS in comparison to sham stimulation were: An enhancement in declarative memory retention and an increase in mood after sleep. In conclusion, so-tDCS offers an interesting approach for studying the relationship of sleep and memory in psychiatric disorders and could possibly improve disturbed memory processing in patients with schizophrenia.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) may lead to persistent depression symptoms. We conducted several pilot studies to examine the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions to deal with this issue; all showed strong effect sizes. The logical next step was to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT).
We sought to determine the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for people with depression symptoms post-TBI (MBCT-TBI).
Using a multi-site RCT design, participants (mean age = 47) were randomized to intervention or control arms. Treatment participants received a group-based, 10-week intervention; control participants waited. Outcome measures, administered pre- and post-intervention, and after three months, included: Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), and Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R). The Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (PHLMS) captured present moment awareness and acceptance.
BDI-II scores decreased from 25.47 to 18.84 in treatment groups while they stayed relatively stable in control groups (respectively 27.13 to 25.00; p = .029). We did not find statistically significant differences on the PHQ-9 and SCL-90R post- treatment. However, after three months, all scores were statistically significantly lower than at baseline (ps < .01). Increases in mindfulness were associated with decreases in BDI-II scores (r = -.401, p = .025).
MBCT-TBI may alleviate depression symptoms up to three months post-intervention. Greater mindfulness may have contributed to the reduction in depression symptoms although the association does not confirm causality. More work is required to replicate these findings, identify subgroups that may better respond to the intervention, and refine the intervention to maximize its effectiveness.
Donkeys facilitated trade and transport in much of the ancient world, but were seldom used in elite or leisure activities. While Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907) texts indicate that noble women played polo riding donkeys, this has never been documented archaeologically. Here, the authors present the first archaeological evidence of the significance of donkeys for elite Tang women through analyses of donkey remains recovered from the tomb of a Tang noblewoman in Xi'an, China. These findings broaden our understanding of the donkey's historic roles beyond simple load bearing.
Healthcare personnel (HCP) were recruited to provide serum samples, which were tested for antibodies against Ebola or Lassa virus to evaluate for asymptomatic seroconversion.
From 2014 to 2016, 4 patients with Ebola virus disease (EVD) and 1 patient with Lassa fever (LF) were treated in the Serious Communicable Diseases Unit (SCDU) at Emory University Hospital. Strict infection control and clinical biosafety practices were implemented to prevent nosocomial transmission of EVD or LF to HCP.
All personnel who entered the SCDU who were required to measure their temperatures and complete a symptom questionnaire twice daily were eligible.
No employee developed symptomatic EVD or LF. EVD and LF antibody studies were performed on sera samples from 42 HCP. The 6 participants who had received investigational vaccination with a chimpanzee adenovirus type 3 vectored Ebola glycoprotein vaccine had high antibody titers to Ebola glycoprotein, but none had a response to Ebola nucleoprotein or VP40, or a response to LF antigens.
Patients infected with filoviruses and arenaviruses can be managed successfully without causing occupation-related symptomatic or asymptomatic infections. Meticulous attention to infection control and clinical biosafety practices by highly motivated, trained staff is critical to the safe care of patients with an infection from a special pathogen.
We sought to address the prior limitations of symptom checker accuracy by analysing the diagnostic and triage feasibility of online symptom checkers using a consecutive series of real-life emergency department (ED) patient encounters, and addressing a complex patient population – those with hepatitis C or HIV. We aimed to study the diagnostic and triage accuracy of these symptom checkers in relation to an emergency room physician-determined diagnosis. An ED retrospective analysis was performed on 8363 consecutive adult patients. Eligible patients included: 90 HIV, 67 hepatitis C, 11 both HIV and hepatitis C. Five online symptom checkers were utilised for diagnosis (Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Symptomate, Symcat, Isabel), three with triage capabilities. Symptom checker output was compared with ED physician-determined diagnosis data in regards to diagnostic accuracy and differential diagnosis listing, along with triage advice. All symptom checkers, whether for combined HIV and hepatitis C, HIV alone or hepatitis C alone had poor diagnostic accuracy in regards to Top1 (<20%), Top3 (<35%), Top10 (<40%), Listed at All (<45%). Significant variations existed for each individual symptom checker, as some appeared more accurate for listing the diagnosis in the top of the differential, vs. others more apt to list the diagnosis at all. In regards to ED triage data, a significantly higher percentage of hepatitis C patients (59.7%; 40/67) were found to have an initial diagnosis with emergent criteria than HIV patients (35.6%; 32/90). Symptom checker diagnostic capabilities are quite inferior to physician diagnostic capabilities. Complex patients such as those with HIV or hepatitis C may carry a more specific differential diagnosis, warranting symptom checkers to have diagnostic algorithms accounting for such complexity. Symptom checkers carry the potential for real-time epidemiologic monitoring of patient symptoms, as symptom entries and subsequent symptom checker diagnosis could allow health officials a means to track illnesses in specific patient populations and geographic regions. In order to do this, accurate and reliable symptom checkers are warranted.
Chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) has been associated with depression and can have an impact on quality of life. Therefore, researchers have suggested the potential utility of psychological interventions for targeting depression among CSU patients. Psychological interventions that may hold the most promise are those that are brief and easily transportable, such as brief behavioural activation treatment for depression. We report results of a preliminary investigation of an uncontrolled open trial of a one-session behavioural activation treatment for depression designed for patients with CSU (BATD-CSU) at a university-based allergy and immunology clinic. Participants were 11 females with chronic, poorly controlled urticaria and symptoms of depression. Following the completion of pretreatment questionnaires, participants were administered BATD-CSU primarily by non-mental health professionals trained and supervised in its delivery. One month post-BATD-CSU, participants completed follow-up questionnaires. Participants exhibited significant reductions in depression severity, avoidance/rumination, and work/school impairment. BATD-CSU was also associated with improvements in urticaria control one month post-treatment. Moreover, five of nine patients reported reliable and clinically significant improvement on at least one outcome. Results demonstrate that BATD-CSU may have benefits for CSU patients even when consisting of one session and delivered by professionals with limited background in psychological interventions, thus speaking to its feasibility and transportability.
Dengue is the fastest spreading mosquito-transmitted disease in the world. In China, Guangzhou City is believed to be the most important epicenter of dengue outbreaks although the transmission patterns are still poorly understood. We developed an autoregressive integrated moving average model incorporating external regressors to examine the association between the monthly number of locally acquired dengue infections and imported cases, mosquito densities, temperature and precipitation in Guangzhou. In multivariate analysis, imported cases and minimum temperature (both at lag 0) were both associated with the number of locally acquired infections (P < 0.05). This multivariate model performed best, featuring the lowest fitting root mean squared error (RMSE) (0.7520), AIC (393.7854) and test RMSE (0.6445), as well as the best effect in model validation for testing outbreak with a sensitivity of 1.0000, a specificity of 0.7368 and a consistency rate of 0.7917. Our findings suggest that imported cases and minimum temperature are two key determinants of dengue local transmission in Guangzhou. The modelling method can be used to predict dengue transmission in non-endemic countries and to inform dengue prevention and control strategies.
On 27 April 2015, Washington health authorities identified Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections associated with dairy education school field trips held in a barn 20–24 April. Investigation objectives were to determine the magnitude of the outbreak, identify the source of infection, prevent secondary illness transmission and develop recommendations to prevent future outbreaks. Case-finding, hypothesis generating interviews, environmental site visits and a case–control study were conducted. Parents and children were interviewed regarding event activities. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were computed. Environmental testing was conducted in the barn; isolates were compared to patient isolates using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Sixty people were ill, 11 (18%) were hospitalised and six (10%) developed haemolytic uremic syndrome. Ill people ranged in age from <1 year to 47 years (median: 7), and 20 (33%) were female. Twenty-seven case-patients and 88 controls were enrolled in the case–control study. Among first-grade students, handwashing (i.e. soap and water, or hand sanitiser) before lunch was protective (adjusted OR 0.13; 95% CI 0.02–0.88, P = 0.04). Barn samples yielded E. coli O157:H7 with PFGE patterns indistinguishable from patient isolates. This investigation provided epidemiological, laboratory and environmental evidence for a large outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections from exposure to a contaminated barn. The investigation highlights the often overlooked risk of infection through exposure to animal environments as well as the importance of handwashing for disease prevention. Increased education and encouragement of infection prevention measures, such as handwashing, can prevent illness.
To assess relationships between mothers’ feeding practices (food as a reward, food for emotion regulation, modelling of healthy eating) and mothers’ willingness to purchase child-marketed foods and fruits/vegetables (F&V) requested by their children during grocery co-shopping.
Cross-sectional. Mothers completed an online survey that included questions about feeding practices and willingness (i.e. intentions) to purchase child-requested foods during grocery co-shopping. Feeding practices scores were dichotomized at the median. Foods were grouped as nutrient-poor or nutrient-dense (F&V) based on national nutrition guidelines. Regression models compared mothers with above-the-median v. at-or-below-the-median feeding practices scores on their willingness to purchase child-requested food groupings, adjusting for demographic covariates.
Participants completed an online survey generated at a public university in the USA.
Mothers (n 318) of 2- to 7-year-old children.
Mothers who scored above-the-median on using food as a reward were more willing to purchase nutrient-poor foods (β=0·60, P<0·0001), mothers who scored above-the-median on use of food for emotion regulation were more willing to purchase nutrient-poor foods (β=0·29, P<0·0031) and mothers who scored above-the-median on modelling of healthy eating were more willing to purchase nutrient-dense foods (β=0·22, P<0·001) than were mothers with at-or-below-the-median scores, adjusting for demographic covariates.
Mothers who reported using food to control children’s behaviour were more willing to purchase child-requested, nutrient-poor foods. Parental feeding practices may facilitate or limit children’s foods requested in grocery stores. Parent–child food consumer behaviours should be investigated as a route that may contribute to children’s eating patterns.
Advances in agricultural machinery, information and sensor technology have led to an increasing amount of data that is available spatially both pre and within season. The case is compelling for the spatialisation of existing, non-spatial (field-scale) crop models that can accommodate this ‘big data’ and lead to more precise predictions of yield and quality and an improved field management. This study explores the conceptual spatial models based on the potato crop models that simulate crop physical and physiological processes and predict yields and graded yields at a field-scale. Through exploring the possible spatial scales and model application approaches considering spatial variation an optimal and more effective solution is expected. Issues concerning model quality and uncertainty are also discussed.
Salmonella is a leading cause of bacterial foodborne illness. We report the collaborative investigative efforts of US and Canadian public health officials during the 2013–2014 international outbreak of multiple Salmonella serotype infections linked to sprouted chia seed powder. The investigation included open-ended interviews of ill persons, traceback, product testing, facility inspections, and trace forward. Ninety-four persons infected with outbreak strains from 16 states and four provinces were identified; 21% were hospitalized and none died. Fifty-four (96%) of 56 persons who consumed chia seed powder, reported 13 different brands that traced back to a single Canadian firm, distributed by four US and eight Canadian companies. Laboratory testing yielded outbreak strains from leftover and intact product. Contaminated product was recalled. Although chia seed powder is a novel outbreak vehicle, sprouted seeds are recognized as an important cause of foodborne illness; firms should follow available guidance to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination during sprouting.
The Dark Energy Survey is undertaking an observational programme imaging 1/4 of the southern hemisphere sky with unprecedented photometric accuracy. In the process of observing millions of faint stars and galaxies to constrain the parameters of the dark energy equation of state, the Dark Energy Survey will obtain pre-discovery images of the regions surrounding an estimated 100 gamma-ray bursts over 5 yr. Once gamma-ray bursts are detected by, e.g., the Swift satellite, the DES data will be extremely useful for follow-up observations by the transient astronomy community. We describe a recently-commissioned suite of software that listens continuously for automated notices of gamma-ray burst activity, collates information from archival DES data, and disseminates relevant data products back to the community in near-real-time. Of particular importance are the opportunities that non-public DES data provide for relative photometry of the optical counterparts of gamma-ray bursts, as well as for identifying key characteristics (e.g., photometric redshifts) of potential gamma-ray burst host galaxies. We provide the functional details of the DESAlert software, and its data products, and we show sample results from the application of DESAlert to numerous previously detected gamma-ray bursts, including the possible identification of several heretofore unknown gamma-ray burst hosts.
We utilized a disease progression model to predict the number of viraemic infections, cirrhotic cases, and liver-related deaths in the state of Rhode Island (RI) under four treatment scenarios: (1) current HCV treatment paradigm (about 215 patients treated annually, Medicaid reimbursement criteria fibrosis stage ⩾F3); (2) immediate scale-up of treatment (to 430 annually) and less restrictive Medicaid reimbursement criteria (fibrosis stage ⩾F2); (3) immediate treatment scale-up and no fibrosis stage-specific Medicaid reimbursement criteria (⩾F0); (4) an ‘elimination’ scenario (i.e. a continued treatment scale-up needed to achieve >90% reduction in viraemic cases by 2030). Under current treatment models, the number of cirrhotic cases and liver-related deaths will plateau and peak by 2030, respectively. Treatment scale-up with ⩾F2 and ⩾F0 fibrosis stage treatment criteria could reduce the number of cirrhotic cases by 21·7% and 10·0%, and the number of liver-related deaths by 19·3% and 7·4%, respectively by 2030. To achieve a >90% reduction in viraemic cases by 2030, over 2000 persons will need to be treated annually by 2020. This strategy could reduce cirrhosis cases and liver-related deaths by 78·9% and 72·4%, respectively by 2030. Increased HCV treatment uptake is needed to substantially reduce the burden of HCV by 2030 in Rhode Island.
Dentinogenesis imperfecta type II (DGI-II) lacks intrafibrillar mineral with severe compromise of dentin mechanical properties. A Dspp knockout (Dspp–/–) mouse, with a phenotype similar to that of human DGI-II, was used to determine if poly-L-aspartic acid [poly(ASP)] in the “polymer-induced liquid-precursor” (PILP) system can restore its mechanical properties. Dentin from six-week old Dspp–/– and wild-type mice was treated with CaP solution containing poly(ASP) for up to 14 days. Elastic modulus and hardness before and after treatment were correlated with mineralization from Micro x-ray computed tomography (Micro-XCT). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)/Selected area electron diffraction (SAED) were used to compare matrix mineralization and crystallography. Mechanical properties of the Dspp–/– dentin were significantly less than wild-type dentin and recovered significantly (P < 0.05) after PILP-treatment, reaching values comparable to wild-type dentin. Micro-XCT showed mineral recovery similar to wild-type dentin after PILP-treatment. TEM/SAED showed repair of patchy mineralization and complete mineralization of defective dentin. This approach may lead to new strategies for hard tissue repair.
We investigated how different models of HIV transmission, and assumptions regarding the distribution of unprotected sex and syringe-sharing events (‘risk acts’), affect quantitative understanding of HIV transmission process in people who inject drugs (PWID). The individual-based model simulated HIV transmission in a dynamic sexual and injecting network representing New York City. We constructed four HIV transmission models: model 1, constant probabilities; model 2, random number of sexual and parenteral acts; model 3, viral load individual assigned; and model 4, two groups of partnerships (low and high risk). Overall, models with less heterogeneity were more sensitive to changes in numbers risk acts, producing HIV incidence up to four times higher than that empirically observed. Although all models overestimated HIV incidence, micro-simulations with greater heterogeneity in the HIV transmission modelling process produced more robust results and better reproduced empirical epidemic dynamics.