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The Common Metrics Initiative aims to develop and field metrics to improve research processes within the national Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium. A Median Accrual Ratio (MAR) common metric was developed to assess the results of efforts to increase subject accrual into a set of clinical trials within the expected time period. A pilot test of the MAR was undertaken at Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) with eight CTSA Consortium hubs. Post-pilot interviews were conducted with 9 CTSA Principal Investigators (PIs) and 23 pilot team members. Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents reported that the MAR could be useful for performance improvement, but also described limitations or concerns. The most commonly cited barrier to MAR use for performance improvement was difficulty in interpreting the single value that is produced. Most respondents were interested in using the MAR to assess recruitment at an individual trial level. Majority of respondents (63%) had mixed opinions about aggregating metric results across the CTSA Consortium for comparison or benchmarking. Collecting data about additional contextual factors, and comparing accrual between subgroups, were cited as potentially helping address concerns about aggregation. Significant challenges remain in ensuring that the MAR can be sufficiently useful for collaborative process improvement. We offer recommendations to potentially improve metric usefulness.
Failure to accrue participants into clinical trials incurs economic costs, wastes resources, jeopardizes answering research questions meaningfully, and delays translating research discoveries into improved health. This paper reports the results of a pilot test of the Median Accrual Ratio (MAR) metric developed as a part of the Common Metrics Initiative of the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium. Using the metric is intended to enhance the ability of the CTSA Consortium and its “hubs” to increase subject accrual into trials within expected timeframes. The pilot test was undertaken at Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) with eight CTSA Consortium hubs. We describe the pilot test methods, and results regarding feasibility of collecting metric data and the quality of data that was collected. Participating hubs welcomed the opportunity to assess accrual efforts, but experienced challenges in collecting accrual metric data due to insufficient infrastructure and inconsistent implementation of electronic data systems and lack of uniform data definitions. Also, the metric could not be constructed for all trial designs, particularly those using competitive enrollment strategies. We offer recommendations to address the identified challenges to facilitate progress to broad accrual metric data collection and use.
Many institutions are attempting to implement patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures. Because PROs often change clinical workflows significantly for patients and providers, implementation choices can have major impact. While various implementation guides exist, a stepwise list of decision points covering the full implementation process and drawing explicitly on a sociotechnical conceptual framework does not exist.
To facilitate real-world implementation of PROs in electronic health records (EHRs) for use in clinical practice, members of the EHR Access to Seamless Integration of Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Consortium developed structured PRO implementation planning tools. Each institution pilot tested the tools. Joint meetings led to the identification of critical sociotechnical success factors.
Three tools were developed and tested: (1) a PRO Planning Guide summarizes the empirical knowledge and guidance about PRO implementation in routine clinical care; (2) a Decision Log allows decision tracking; and (3) an Implementation Plan Template simplifies creation of a sharable implementation plan. Seven lessons learned during implementation underscore the iterative nature of planning and the importance of the clinician champion, as well as the need to understand aims, manage implementation barriers, minimize disruption, provide ample discussion time, and continuously engage key stakeholders.
Highly structured planning tools, informed by a sociotechnical perspective, enabled the construction of clear, clinic-specific plans. By developing and testing three reusable tools (freely available for immediate use), our project addressed the need for consolidated guidance and created new materials for PRO implementation planning. We identified seven important lessons that, while common to technology implementation, are especially critical in PRO implementation.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an effective NICE-approved treatment for severe depression, treatment-resistant mania and catatonia; the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ (RCPsych) guidelines also support its use fourth line for treatment-resistant schizophrenia.
Evaluate the use of ECT at Broadmoor High Secure psychiatric hospital, focusing on the indications for its prescription and patients’ capacity to consent.
Analyse case records of all patients who received ECT, and of all patients referred for Second Opinion Appointed Doctor (SOAD) certified ECT treatment under Section 58 of the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) due to incapacity, between 01.09.11 and 30.07.15.
All patients lacked capacity to consent to treatment during this time. Thirty-three referrals were made to the SOAD service for 15 patients, and of these 30 resulted in certification (T6) of which 10 were not subsequently used. Improvements in mental state and agreement to take clozapine were common reasons for T6s either not being certified or used. Urgent treatment under Section 62 of the MHA was employed 7 times for 4 patients during this period. Of the referrals to the SOAD service, 25 were for treatment-resistant schizophrenia, 5 for mania, 3 for catatonia and none for depression.
Those patients requiring ECT within this population tended to be the most unwell and all lacked the capacity to consent to it. The majority (76%) of patients receiving ECT at Broadmoor do so outside of NICE (but within RCPsych) guidelines. ECT may be an effective strategy for promoting compliance with clozapine.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
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.
Less than half of stool samples from people symptomatic with infectious intestinal disease (IID) will identify a causative organism. A secondary data analysis was undertaken to explore whether symptomology alone could be used to make inferences about causative organisms. Data were utilised from the Second Study of Infectious Intestinal Disease in the Community. A total of 844 cases were analysed. Few symptoms differentiated individual pathogens, but grouping pathogens together showed that viral IID was more likely when symptom onset was in winter (odds ratio (OR) 2.08, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16–3.75) or spring (OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.11–3.33), the patient was aged under 5 years (OR 3.63, 95% CI 2.24–6.03) and there was loss of appetite (OR 2.19, 95% CI 1.29–3.72). The odds of bacterial IID were higher with diarrhoea in the absence of vomiting (OR 3.54, 95% CI 2.37–5.32), diarrhoea which persisted for >3 days (OR 2.69, 95% CI 1.82–3.99), bloody diarrhoea (OR 4.17, 95% CI 1.63–11.83) and fever (OR 1.67, 95% CI 1.11–2.53). Symptom profiles could be of value to help guide clinicians and public health professionals in the management of IID, in the absence of microbiological confirmation.
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.
Planning mental health carer services requires information about the number of carers, their characteristics, service use and unmet support needs. Available Australian estimates vary widely due to different definitions of mental illness and the types of carers included. This study aimed to provide a detailed profile of Australian mental health carers using a nationally representative household survey.
The number of mental health carers, characteristics of carers and their care recipients, caring hours and tasks provided, service use and unmet service needs were derived from the national 2012 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers. Co-resident carers of adults with a mental illness were compared with those caring for people with physical health and other cognitive/behavioural conditions (e.g., autism, intellectual disability, dementia) on measures of service use, service needs and aspects of their caring role.
In 2012, there were 225 421 co-resident carers of adults with mental illness in Australia, representing 1.0% of the population, and an estimated further 103 813 mental health carers not living with their care recipient. The majority of co-resident carers supported one person with mental illness, usually their partner or adult child. Mental health carers were more likely than physical health carers to provide emotional support (68.1% v. 19.7% of carers) and less likely to assist with practical tasks (64.1% v. 86.6%) and activities of daily living (31.9% v. 48.9%). Of co-resident mental health carers, 22.5% or 50 828 people were confirmed primary carers – the person providing the most support to their care recipient. Many primary mental health carers (37.8%) provided more than 40 h of care per week. Only 23.8% of primary mental health carers received government income support for carers and only 34.4% received formal service assistance in their caring role, while 49.0% wanted more support. Significantly more primary mental health than primary physical health carers were dissatisfied with received services (20.0% v. 3.2%), and 35.0% did not know what services were available to them.
Results reveal a sizable number of mental health carers with unmet needs in the Australian community, particularly with respect to financial assistance and respite care, and that these carers are poorly informed about available supports. The prominence of emotional support and their greater dissatisfaction with services indicate a need to better tailor carer services. If implemented carefully, recent Australian reforms including the Carer Gateway and National Disability Insurance Scheme hold promise for improving mental health carer supports.
Inefficiencies in the national clinical research infrastructure have been apparent for decades. The National Center for Advancing Translational Science—sponsored Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program is able to address such inefficiencies. The Trial Innovation Network (TIN) is a collaborative initiative with the CTSA program and other National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institutes and Centers that addresses critical roadblocks to accelerate the translation of novel interventions to clinical practice. The TIN’s mission is to execute high-quality trials in a quick, cost-efficient manner. The TIN awardees are composed of 3 Trial Innovation Centers, the Recruitment Innovation Center, and the individual CTSA institutions that have identified TIN Liaison units. The TIN has launched a national scale single (central) Institutional Review Board system, master contracting agreements, quality-by-design approaches, novel recruitment support methods, and applies evidence-based strategies to recruitment and patient engagement. The TIN has received 113 submissions from 39 different CTSA institutions and 8 non-CTSA Institutions, with projects associated with 12 different NIH Institutes and Centers across a wide range of clinical/disease areas. Already more than 150 unique health systems/organizations are involved as sites in TIN-related multisite studies. The TIN will begin to capture data and metrics that quantify increased efficiency and quality improvement during operations.
In the U.S., migration has been documented to affect the prevalence of infectious disease. As a mitigation entity, border security has been recorded by numerous scholarly works as being essential to the support of the health of the U.S. population. Consequently, the lack of current health care monitoring of the permeable U.S. border places the U.S. population at risk in the broad sectors of infectious disease and interpersonal violence. Visualizing border security in the context of public health mitigation has significant potential to protect migrant health as well as that of all populations on both sides of the border. Examples of how commonly this philosophy is held can be found in the expansive use of security-focused terms regarding public health. Using tools such as GIS to screen for disease in people before their entrance into a nation would be more efficient and ethical than treating patients once they have entered a population and increased the impact on the healthcare system. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:554–562)
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
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.
This systematic review aimed to establish that quinolones are as effective as aminoglycosides when used to treat chronic suppurative otitis media.
The review included good quality, randomised, controlled trials on human subjects, published in English, that compared topical aminoglycosides with topical quinolones for the treatment of chronic suppurative otitis media.
Nine trials met the criteria. Two studies showed a higher clinical cure rate in the quinolone group (93 per cent vs 71 per cent, p = 0.04, and 76 per cent vs 52 per cent, p = 0.009). Four studies showed no statistically significant difference in clinical outcome. A significant difference in microbiological clearance in favour of quinolones was shown in two studies (88 per cent vs 30 per cent, p < 0.001, and 88 per cent vs 30 per cent, p < 0.001).
Topical quinolones do not carry the same risk of ototoxicity as aminoglycosides. Furthermore, they are equal or more effective in treating chronic suppurative otitis media and when used as prophylaxis post-myringotomy. Topical quinolones should be considered a first-line treatment for these patients.
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.