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Shared patient–clinician decision-making is central to choosing between medical treatments. Decision support tools can have an important role to play in these decisions. We developed a decision support tool for deciding between nonsurgical treatment and surgical total knee replacement for patients with severe knee osteoarthritis. The tool aims to provide likely outcomes of alternative treatments based on predictive models using patient-specific characteristics. To make those models relevant to patients with knee osteoarthritis and their clinicians, we involved patients, family members, patient advocates, clinicians, and researchers as stakeholders in creating the models.
Stakeholders were recruited through local arthritis research, advocacy, and clinical organizations. After being provided with brief methodological education sessions, stakeholder views were solicited through quarterly patient or clinician stakeholder panel meetings and incorporated into all aspects of the project.
Participating in each aspect of the research from determining the outcomes of interest to providing input on the design of the user interface displaying outcome predications, 86% (12/14) of stakeholders remained engaged throughout the project. Stakeholder engagement ensured that the prediction models that form the basis of the Knee Osteoarthritis Mathematical Equipoise Tool and its user interface were relevant for patient–clinician shared decision-making.
Methodological research has the opportunity to benefit from stakeholder engagement by ensuring that the perspectives of those most impacted by the results are involved in study design and conduct. While additional planning and investments in maintaining stakeholder knowledge and trust may be needed, they are offset by the valuable insights gained.
The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) undertook a Common Metrics Initiative to improve research processes across the national CTSA Consortium. This was implemented by Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the 64 CTSA academic medical centers. Three metrics were collaboratively developed by NCATS staff, CTSA Consortium teams, and outside consultants for Institutional Review Board Review Duration, Careers in Clinical and Translational Research, and Pilot Award Publications and Subsequent Funding. The implementation program included training on the metric operational guidelines, data collection, data reporting system, and performance improvement framework. The implementation team provided small-group coaching and technical assistance. Collaborative learning sessions, driver diagrams, and change packages were used to disseminate best and promising practices. After 14 weeks, 84% of hubs had produced a value for one metric and about half had produced an initial improvement plan. Overall, hubs reported that the implementation activities facilitated their Common Metrics performance improvement process. Experiences implementing the first three metrics can inform future directions of the Common Metrics Initiative and other research groups implementing standardized metrics and performance improvement processes, potentially including other National Institutes of Health institutes and centers.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Failure of the Fontan circulation is not a well-understood clinical phenomena.For some patients, a gradual increase in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) and structural changes in the pulmonary artery may be an important causative factor. To further investigate this issue, we employed optical coherence tomography (OCT) to evaluate structural changes within the pulmonary arteries of Fontan patients and compared to those with a normal pulmonary circulation.
Materials and Methods:
Pulmonary artery OCT was performed, without complications, in 12 Fontan and 11 control patients. Wall thickness and wall:vessel cross-sectional area (CSA) ratio were calculated after image acquisition, using digital planimetry.
There was no difference in wall thickness between both groups. Median wall thickness for Fontan patients was 0.12 mm (IQR, 0.10–0.14) and for controls was 0.11 mm (IQR, 0.10–0.12; p = 0.62). Wall:vessel CSA ratio for Fontan patients was 0.13 (IQR, 0.12–0.16) and for controls was 0.13 (IQR, 0.11–0.15) (p = 0.73). There was no association between wall thickness and ventricle morphology, age at catheterisation, age at Fontan, years since Fontan completion, pulmonary artery pressure, and PVR. The vessel media was more readily visualised in control patients.
OCT of the pulmonary arteries in Fontan patients is safe and feasible. Our OCT findings suggest that during childhood, pulmonary artery wall dimensions are normal in Fontan children with reassuring hemodynamics. Further evaluation of Fontan patients with abnormal hemodynamics and serial evaluation into adulthood are required to conclude on the utility of OCT for identifying early pulmonary artery structural changes.
To enhance enrollment into randomized clinical trials (RCTs), we proposed electronic health record-based clinical decision support for patient–clinician shared decision-making about care and RCT enrollment, based on “mathematical equipoise.”
As an example, we created the Knee Osteoarthritis Mathematical Equipoise Tool (KOMET) to determine the presence of patient-specific equipoise between treatments for the choice between total knee replacement (TKR) and nonsurgical treatment of advanced knee osteoarthritis.
With input from patients and clinicians about important pain and physical function treatment outcomes, we created a database from non-RCT sources of knee osteoarthritis outcomes. We then developed multivariable linear regression models that predict 1-year individual-patient knee pain and physical function outcomes for TKR and for nonsurgical treatment. These predictions allowed detecting mathematical equipoise between these two options for patients eligible for TKR. Decision support software was developed to graphically illustrate, for a given patient, the degree of overlap of pain and functional outcomes between the treatments and was pilot tested for usability, responsiveness, and as support for shared decision-making.
The KOMET predictive regression model for knee pain had four patient-specific variables, and an r2 value of 0.32, and the model for physical functioning included six patient-specific variables, and an r2 of 0.34. These models were incorporated into prototype KOMET decision support software and pilot tested in clinics, and were generally well received.
Use of predictive models and mathematical equipoise may help discern patient-specific equipoise to support shared decision-making for selecting between alternative treatments and considering enrollment into an RCT.
The role that vitamin D plays in pulmonary function remains uncertain. Epidemiological studies reported mixed findings for serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)–pulmonary function association. We conducted the largest cross-sectional meta-analysis of the 25(OH)D–pulmonary function association to date, based on nine European ancestry (EA) cohorts (n 22 838) and five African ancestry (AA) cohorts (n 4290) in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium. Data were analysed using linear models by cohort and ancestry. Effect modification by smoking status (current/former/never) was tested. Results were combined using fixed-effects meta-analysis. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 68 (sd 29) nmol/l for EA and 49 (sd 21) nmol/l for AA. For each 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, forced expiratory volume in the 1st second (FEV1) was higher by 1·1 ml in EA (95 % CI 0·9, 1·3; P<0·0001) and 1·8 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·5; P<0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·06), and forced vital capacity (FVC) was higher by 1·3 ml in EA (95 % CI 1·0, 1·6; P<0·0001) and 1·5 ml (95 % CI 0·8, 2·3; P=0·0001) in AA (Prace difference=0·56). Among EA, the 25(OH)D–FVC association was stronger in smokers: per 1 nmol/l higher 25(OH)D, FVC was higher by 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·1, 2·3) for current smokers and 1·7 ml (95 % CI 1·2, 2·1) for former smokers, compared with 0·8 ml (95 % CI 0·4, 1·2) for never smokers. In summary, the 25(OH)D associations with FEV1 and FVC were positive in both ancestries. In EA, a stronger association was observed for smokers compared with never smokers, which supports the importance of vitamin D in vulnerable populations.
We have previously reported an association between childhood abuse and psychotic experiences (PEs) in survey data from South East London. Childhood abuse is related to subsequent adulthood adversity, which could form one pathway to PEs. We aimed to investigate evidence of mediation of the association between childhood abuse and PEs by adverse life events.
Data were analysed from the South East London Community Health Study (SELCoH, n = 1698). Estimates of the total effects on PEs of any physical or sexual abuse while growing up were partitioned into direct (i.e. unmediated) and indirect (total and specific) effects, mediated via violent and non-violent life events.
There was strong statistical evidence for direct (OR 1.58, 95% CI: 1.19–2.1) and indirect (OR 1.51, 95% CI: 1.32–1.72) effects of childhood abuse on PEs after adjustment for potential confounders, indicating partial mediation of this effect via violent and non-violent life events. An estimated 47% of the total effect of abuse on PEs was mediated via adulthood adverse life events, of which violent life events made up 33% and non-violent life events the remaining 14%.
The association between childhood abuse and PEs is partly mediated through the experience of adverse life events in adulthood. There is some evidence that a larger proportion of this effect was mediated through violent life events than non-violent life events.
Introduction: Point of care ultrasound (PoCUS) has become an established tool in the initial management of patients with undifferentiated hypotension in the emergency department (ED). Current established protocols (e.g. RUSH and ACES) were developed by expert user opinion, rather than objective, prospective data. Recently the SHoC Protocol was published, recommending 3 core scans; cardiac, lung, and IVC; plus other scans when indicated clinically. We report the abnormal ultrasound findings from our international multicenter randomized controlled trial, to assess if the recommended 3 core SHoC protocol scans were chosen appropriately for this population. Methods: Recruitment occurred at seven centres in North America (4) and South Africa (3). Screening at triage identified patients (SBP<100 or shock index>1) who were randomized to PoCUS or control (standard care with no PoCUS) groups. All scans were performed by PoCUS-trained physicians within one hour of arrival in the ED. Demographics, clinical details and study findings were collected prospectively. A threshold incidence for positive findings of 10% was established as significant for the purposes of assessing the appropriateness of the core recommendations. Results: 138 patients had a PoCUS screen completed. All patients had cardiac, lung, IVC, aorta, abdominal, and pelvic scans. Reported abnormal findings included hyperdynamic LV function (59; 43%); small collapsing IVC (46; 33%); pericardial effusion (24; 17%); pleural fluid (19; 14%); hypodynamic LV function (15; 11%); large poorly collapsing IVC (13; 9%); peritoneal fluid (13; 9%); and aortic aneurysm (5; 4%). Conclusion: The 3 core SHoC Protocol recommendations included appropriate scans to detect all pathologies recorded at a rate of greater than 10 percent. The 3 most frequent findings were cardiac and IVC abnormalities, followed by lung. It is noted that peritoneal fluid was seen at a rate of 9%. Aortic aneurysms were rare. This data from the first RCT to compare PoCUS to standard care for undifferentiated hypotensive ED patients, supports the use of the prioritized SHoC protocol, though a larger study is required to confirm these findings.
Introduction: Point of care ultrasound has become an established tool in the initial management of patients with undifferentiated hypotension. Current established protocols (RUSH, ACES, etc) were developed by expert user opinion, rather than objective, prospective data. We wished to use reported disease incidence to develop an informed approach to PoCUS in hypotension using a “4 F’s” approach: Fluid; Form; Function; Filling. Methods: We summarized the incidence of PoCUS findings from an international multicentre RCT, and using a modified Delphi approach incorporating this data we obtained the input of 24 international experts associated with five professional organizations led by the International Federation of Emergency Medicine. The modified Delphi tool was developed to reach an international consensus on how to integrate PoCUS for hypotensive emergency department patients. Results: Rates of abnormal PoCUS findings from 151 patients with undifferentiated hypotension included left ventricular dynamic changes (43%), IVC abnormalities (27%), pericardial effusion (16%), and pleural fluid (8%). Abdominal pathology was rare (fluid 5%, AAA 2%). After two rounds of the survey, using majority consensus, agreement was reached on a SHoC-hypotension protocol comprising: A. Core: 1. Cardiac views (Sub-xiphoid and parasternal windows for pericardial fluid, cardiac form and ventricular function); 2. Lung views for pleural fluid and B-lines for filling status; and 3. IVC views for filling status; B. Supplementary: Additional cardiac views; and C. Additional views (when indicated) including peritoneal fluid, aorta, pelvic for IUP, and proximal leg veins for DVT. Conclusion: An international consensus process based on prospectively collected disease incidence has led to a proposed SHoC-hypotension PoCUS protocol comprising a stepwise clinical-indication based approach of Core, Supplementary and Additional PoCUS views.
Introduction: Point of care ultrasound (PoCUS) provides invaluable information during resuscitation efforts in cardiac arrest by determining presence/absence of cardiac activity and identifying reversible causes such as pericardial tamponade. There is no agreed guideline on how to safely and effectively incorporate PoCUS into the advanced cardiac life support (ACLS) algorithm. We consider that a consensus-based priority checklist using a “4 F’s” approach (Fluid; Form; Function; Filling), would provide a better algorithm during ACLS. Methods: The ultrasound subcommittee of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) drafted a checklist incorporating PoCUS into the ACLS algorithm. This was further developed using the input of 24 international experts associated with five professional organizations led by the International Federation of Emergency Medicine. A modified Delphi tool was developed to reach an international consensus on how to integrate ultrasound into cardiac arrest algorithms for emergency department patients. Results: Consensus was reached following 3 rounds. The agreed protocol focuses on the timing of PoCUS as well as the specific clinical questions. Core cardiac windows performed during the rhythm check pause in chest compressions are the sub-xiphoid and parasternal cardiac views. Either view should be used to detect pericardial fluid, as well as examining ventricular form (e.g. right heart strain) and function, (e.g. asystole versus organized cardiac activity). Supplementary views include lung views (for absent lung sliding in pneumothorax and for pleural fluid), and IVC views for filling. Additional ultrasound applications are for endotracheal tube confirmation, proximal leg veins for DVT, or for sources of blood loss (AAA, peritoneal/pelvic fluid). Conclusion: The authors hope that this process will lead to a consensus-based SHoC-cardiac arrest guideline on incorporating PoCUS into the ACLS algorithm.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is moderately heritable, however genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for MDD, as well as for related continuous outcomes, have not shown consistent results. Attempts to elucidate the genetic basis of MDD may be hindered by heterogeneity in diagnosis. The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale provides a widely used tool for measuring depressive symptoms clustered in four different domains which can be combined together into a total score but also can be analysed as separate symptom domains.
We performed a meta-analysis of GWAS of the CES-D symptom clusters. We recruited 12 cohorts with the 20- or 10-item CES-D scale (32 528 persons).
One single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), rs713224, located near the brain-expressed melatonin receptor (MTNR1A) gene, was associated with the somatic complaints domain of depression symptoms, with borderline genome-wide significance (pdiscovery = 3.82 × 10−8). The SNP was analysed in an additional five cohorts comprising the replication sample (6813 persons). However, the association was not consistent among the replication sample (pdiscovery+replication = 1.10 × 10−6) with evidence of heterogeneity.
Despite the effort to harmonize the phenotypes across cohorts and participants, our study is still underpowered to detect consistent association for depression, even by means of symptom classification. On the contrary, the SNP-based heritability and co-heritability estimation results suggest that a very minor part of the variation could be captured by GWAS, explaining the reason of sparse findings.
We analyzed birth order differences in means and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from infancy to old age. The data were derived from the international CODATwins database. The total number of height and BMI measures from 0.5 to 79.5 years of age was 397,466. As expected, first-born twins had greater birth weight than second-born twins. With respect to height, first-born twins were slightly taller than second-born twins in childhood. After adjusting the results for birth weight, the birth order differences decreased and were no longer statistically significant. First-born twins had greater BMI than the second-born twins over childhood and adolescence. After adjusting the results for birth weight, birth order was still associated with BMI until 12 years of age. No interaction effect between birth order and zygosity was found. Only limited evidence was found that birth order influenced variances of height or BMI. The results were similar among boys and girls and also in MZ and DZ twins. Overall, the differences in height and BMI between first- and second-born twins were modest even in early childhood, while adjustment for birth weight reduced the birth order differences but did not remove them for BMI.
The Chiquibul Forest Reserve and National Park in Belize is a priority conservation area within the ‘Maya Forest’ in Central America. Although taxonomic data are essential for the development of conservation plans in the region, there is limited knowledge of the existing species in the area. Here we present a botanical species list of mostly woody taxa based on voucher specimens, with particular focus on the Raspaculo watershed in the eastern part of the National Park. Within the Raspaculo watershed, a comparison is made between 0.1 ha of valley floor and 0.1 ha of hilltop vegetation, sampling trees, shrubs, palms and lianas ≥2.5 cm diameter at breast height. Additionally, a 1 ha plot was established in the Upper Raspaculo watershed. Our study shows 38 new species records for the region, and important additions to the flora of Belize. New records were recorded from forests on both metamorphic and karstic substrate, including previously overlooked hilltop forest elements. Quantitative assessment of vegetation across elevation zones shows distinct elements dominating on valley floors and hilltops. Our results show that the Chiquibul contains at least 58% of Belize’s threatened plant species, and represent a source of information for the management and conservation of the area.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
The importance of chronic low-grade inflammation in the pathology of numerous age-related chronic conditions is now clear. An unresolved inflammatory response is likely to be involved from the early stages of disease development. The present position paper is the most recent in a series produced by the International Life Sciences Institute's European Branch (ILSI Europe). It is co-authored by the speakers from a 2013 workshop led by the Obesity and Diabetes Task Force entitled ‘Low-grade inflammation, a high-grade challenge: biomarkers and modulation by dietary strategies’. The latest research in the areas of acute and chronic inflammation and cardiometabolic, gut and cognitive health is presented along with the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying inflammation–health/disease associations. The evidence relating diet composition and early-life nutrition to inflammatory status is reviewed. Human epidemiological and intervention data are thus far heavily reliant on the measurement of inflammatory markers in the circulation, and in particular cytokines in the fasting state, which are recognised as an insensitive and highly variable index of tissue inflammation. Potential novel kinetic and integrated approaches to capture inflammatory status in humans are discussed. Such approaches are likely to provide a more discriminating means of quantifying inflammation–health/disease associations, and the ability of diet to positively modulate inflammation and provide the much needed evidence to develop research portfolios that will inform new product development and associated health claims.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.