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In order to improve research planning it is critical to understand how decision makers have used previous health technology assessment (HTA) results, and what expectations policy makers and health professionals have in HTA programs. In this study, we aimed to examine how HTA results have been used by decision makers, and explore complex relationships between the National Evidence-based Healthcare Collaborating Agency (NECA) and various decision-making bodies in Korea.
Three areas of healthcare decision in which NECA has been extensively involved were selected: prevention programs, single technology reimbursement, and clinical guidelines. We conducted in-depth interviews with two or three key informants from decision making bodies in each selected area. The interview participants included clinicians and government officials. We also conducted interviews with the researchers who participated in the related research to better capture the context. The interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Eight interviews with decision makers and five interviews with researchers were conducted and analyzed. Three main themes were revealed in the data. Firstly, it was revealed that NECA was primarily expected to be an intermediary between clinicians and government. Both government and clinicians had referred to NECA's HTA results, which are expected to be scientific and impartial, when they need to reach one another on controversial topics. Secondly, there was a high need for deliberative process to resolve the conflicting interests regarding HTA results. Lastly, they wanted the HTA process to be more responsive to fast changing healthcare environments by introducing a form of rapid review.
Lack of effective communication channels between government and healthcare providers in Korea has made a room for HTA to be a common language for both sides. It is time to give up the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to conducting HTA research and tailor the research process to various needs of decision makers.
Since established in 2009, the National Evidence-based healthcare Collaborating Agency (NECA) has been the sole government-funded Health Technology Assessment (HTA) institution in Korea, yet little effort has been made to systematically evaluate the influence of its products. In this study, we aimed to measure the impact of the HTA products of NECA on clinical and policy decisions by introducing a systematic framework.
We included HTA reports published from 2009 to 2015. Among the 141 research reports published during this period, there were 67 HTA reports. We gathered data on the influence by literature and news article search, review of administrative documents and directly listening to the decision makers. The influence was categorized into three decision types: changes in clinical guidelines, administrative decision on investment/disinvestment and healthcare policy making. Whether a research report was used directly in decision making, or followed by subsequent researches or round-table conference, was recorded to examine the knowledge transfer process.
In total, 67.2 percent of the included HTA reports were used to support clinical and policy decisions. Twenty-seven reports had influenced administrative decisions on investment/disinvestment. Ten provided evidence for new health policies or legislation. Eight were reflected in clinical guidelines. The impact of HTA reports published by NECA was more evident when the research was directly requested by decision-making bodies such as government institutions. Although most HTA reports were conducted in collaboration with clinicians, the use of results by clinicians was limited. Definitive results were more likely to be used, but reports with competing interests had fewer impacts.
HTA by NECA had impacts on the rational use of healthcare resources in Korea, and NECA has established its role as an intermediary between governmental decision-making bodies and clinicians. However, more continuous approaches rather than one-time HTA research are needed for HTA on controversial topics to have impacts on decision making.
Conversion of α-linolenic acid (ALA) into the longer chain n-3 PUFA has been suggested to be affected by the dietary intake of linoleic acid (LA), but the mechanism is not well known. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of a low-LA diet with and without oestrogen on the fatty acid conversion enzymes and transcription factors. Rats were fed a modified American Institute of Nutrition-93G diet with 0% n-3 PUFA or ALA, containing low or high amounts of LA for 12 weeks. At 8 weeks, the rats were injected with maize oil with or without 17β-oestradiol-3-benzoate (E) at constant intervals for the remaining 3 weeks. Both the low-LA diet and E significantly increased the hepatic expressions of PPAR-α, fatty acid desaturase (FADS) 2, elongase of very long chain fatty acids 2 (ELOVL2) and ELOVL5 but decreased sterol regulatory element binding protein 1. The low-LA diet, but not E, increased the hepatic expression of FADS1, and E increased the hepatic expression of oestrogen receptor-α and β. The low-LA diet and E had synergic effects on serum and liver levels of DHA and on the hepatic expression of PPAR-α. In conclusion, the low-LA diet and oestrogen increased the conversion of ALA into DHA by upregulating the elongases and desaturases of fatty acids through regulating the expression of transcription factors. The low-LA diet and E had a synergic effect on serum and liver levels of DHA through increasing the expression of PPAR-α.
Firefighters are routinely exposed to various traumatic events and often experience a range of trauma-related symptoms. Although these repeated traumatic exposures rarely progress to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder, firefighters are still considered to be a vulnerable population with regard to trauma.
To investigate how the human brain responds to or compensates for the repeated experience of traumatic stress.
We included 98 healthy firefighters with repeated traumatic experiences but without any diagnosis of mental illness and 98 non-firefighter healthy individuals without any history of trauma. Functional connectivity within the fear circuitry, which consists of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, insula, amygdala, hippocampus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), was examined using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Trauma-related symptoms were evaluated using the Impact of Event Scale – Revised.
The firefighter group had greater functional connectivity between the insula and several regions of the fear circuitry including the bilateral amygdalae, bilateral hippocampi and vmPFC as compared with healthy individuals. In the firefighter group, stronger insula–amygdala connectivity was associated with greater severity of trauma-related symptoms (β = 0.36, P = 0.005), whereas higher insula–vmPFC connectivity was related to milder symptoms in response to repeated trauma (β = −0.28, P = 0.01).
The current findings suggest an active involvement of insular functional connectivity in response to repeated traumatic stress. Functional connectivity of the insula in relation to the amygdala and vmPFC may be potential pathways that underlie the risk for and resilience to repeated traumatic stress, respectively.
The present study aimed to estimate heritability of Hwabyung (HB) symptoms in adolescent and young adult twins in South Korea. The sample included 1,601 twins consisting of 143 pairs of monozygotic male (MZM), 67 pairs of dizygotic male (DZM), 295 pairs of monozygotic female (MZF), 114 pairs of dizygotic female (DZF), and 117 pairs of opposite-sex dizygotic (OSDZ) twins and 129 twins with non-participating co-twins (mean age = 19.1 ± 3.1 years; range: 12–29 years). An HB symptom questionnaire was given to twins via a telephone interview. Consistent with the literature of HB, the mean level of HB was significantly higher in females than in males. Maximum likelihood twin correlations for HB were 0.31 (95% CI [0.16, 0.45]) for MZM, 0.19 (95% CI [-0.05, 0.41]) for DZM, 0.50 (95% CI [0.41, 0.58]) for MZF, 0.28 (95% CI [0.11, 0.44]) for DZF, and 0.23 (95% CI [0.05, 0.40]) for OSDZ twins. These patterns of twin correlations suggested the presence of additive genetic influences on HB. Model-fitting analysis showed that additive genetic and individual-specific environmental influences on HB were 44% (95% CI [37, 51]) and 56% (95% CI [49, 63]), respectively. Shared environmental influences were not significant. These parameter estimates were not significantly different between two sexes, and did not change significantly with age in the present sample, suggesting that genetic and environmental influences on HB in both sexes are stable across adolescence and young adulthood.
Allicin (AL) regulates the cellular redox, proliferation, viability, and cell cycle of different cells against extracellular-derived stress. This study investigated the effects of allicin treatment on porcine oocyte maturation and developmental competence. Porcine oocytes were cultured in medium supplemented with 0 (control), 0.01, 0.1, 1, 10 or 100 μM AL, respectively, during in vitro maturation (IVM). The rate of polar body emission was higher in the 0.1 AL-treated group (74.5% ± 2.3%) than in the control (68.0% ± 2.6%) (P < 0.1). After parthenogenetic activation, the rates of cleavage and blastocyst formation were significantly higher in the 0.1 AL-treated group than in the control (P < 0.05). The reactive oxygen species level at metaphase II did not significantly differ among all groups. In matured oocytes, the expression of both BAK and CASP3, and BIRC5 was significantly lower and higher, respectively, in the 0.1 AL-treated group than in the control. Similarly, the expression of BMP15 and CCNB1, and the activity of phospho-p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), significantly increased. These results indicate that supplementation of oocyte maturation medium with allicin during IVM improves the maturation of oocytes and the subsequent developmental competence of porcine oocytes.
Our objective was to evaluate long-term altered appearance, distress, and body image in posttreatment breast cancer patients and compare them with those of patients undergoing active treatment and with general population controls.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey between May and December of 2010. We studied 138 breast cancer patients undergoing active treatment and 128 posttreatment patients from 23 Korean hospitals and 315 age- and area-matched subjects drawn from the general population. Breast, hair, and skin changes, distress, and body image were assessed using visual analogue scales and the EORTC BR–23. Average levels of distress were compared across groups, and linear regression was utilized to identify the factors associated with body image.
Compared to active-treatment patients, posttreatment patients reported similar breast changes (6.6 vs. 6.2), hair loss (7.7 vs. 6.7), and skin changes (5.8 vs. 5.4), and both groups had significantly more severe changes than those of the general population controls (p < 0.01). For a similar level of altered appearance, however, breast cancer patients experienced significantly higher levels of distress than the general population. In multivariate analysis, patients with high altered appearance distress reported significantly poorer body image (–20.7, CI95% = –28.3 to –13.1) than patients with low distress.
Significance of results:
Posttreatment breast cancer patients experienced similar levels of altered appearance, distress, and body-image disturbance relative to patients undergoing active treatment but significantly higher distress and poorer body image than members of the general population. Healthcare professionals should acknowledge the possible long-term effects of altered appearance among breast cancer survivors and help them to manage the associated distress and psychological consequences.
Personality may predispose family caregivers to experience caregiving differently in similar situations and influence the outcomes of caregiving. A limited body of research has examined the role of some personality traits for health-related quality of life (HRQoL) among family caregivers of persons with dementia (PWD) in relation to burden and depression.
Data from a large clinic-based national study in South Korea, the Caregivers of Alzheimer's Disease Research (CARE), were analyzed (N = 476). Path analysis was performed to explore the association between family caregivers’ personality traits and HRQoL. With depression and burden as mediating factors, direct and indirect associations between five personality traits and HRQoL of family caregivers were examined.
Results demonstrated the mediating role of caregiver burden and depression in linking two personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) and HRQoL. Neuroticism and extraversion directly and indirectly influenced the mental HRQoL of caregivers. Neuroticism and extraversion only indirectly influenced their physical HRQoL. Neuroticism increased the caregiver's depression, whereas extraversion decreased it. Neuroticism only was mediated by burden to influence depression and mental and physical HRQoL.
Personality traits can influence caregiving outcomes and be viewed as an individual resource of the caregiver. A family caregiver's personality characteristics need to be assessed for tailoring support programs to get the optimal benefits from caregiver interventions.
Suicide rates are high among elderly individuals experiencing socioeconomic insecurity. Socioeconomic security is of critical importance for elderly individuals and directly affects mental health, including suicidal behavior. Thus, we investigated the relationship between socioeconomic status and suicidal ideation in elderly individuals.
We conducted a cross-sectional study using data on 58,590 individuals 65 years of age or older from the Korean Community Health Survey 2013. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify relationships between socioeconomic factors (food insecurity, household income, and living arrangement) and suicidal ideation in the elderly population.
The study included 58,590 participants (24,246 males and 34,344 females). Of those, 2,847 males and 6,418 females experienced suicidal ideation. Participants with food insecure were more likely to experience suicidal ideation than were those who were food secure (males: OR = 1.60; 95% CI, 1.34–1.90; females: OR = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.38–1.72). We found a similar pattern among participants with a low household income and those living alone. Additionally, male and female subjects who were food insecure and living alone or food insecure and had a low household income showed a marked increase in suicidal ideation.
Our findings suggest that low socioeconomic status is associated with an increased risk of suicidal ideation among the elderly. Furthermore, intervention programs that address the prevalence of elderly suicide, particularly among those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, are needed.
Timed grammaticality judgment tests (TGJT) and oral elicited imitation tests (OEIT) are considered reliable and valid measures of implicit linguistic knowledge, but studies consistently observe better performances on the TGJT than the OEIT due to the different types of processing they require: comprehension for the TGJT and production for the OEIT. This study examines whether degree of access to implicit knowledge is a function of processing type. Results from a series of factor analyses suggest that the OEIT requires greater access to implicit knowledge—implying that it measures stronger implicit knowledge—than the TGJT. Furthermore, the study examines effects on construct validity of time pressure in the OEIT (uncontrolled vs. controlled) and modality in the TGJT (written vs. aural). The results indicate that the tests reached higher construct validity, or measured stronger implicit knowledge, when the OEIT employed controlled time pressure and the TGJT used aural stimuli.
Tumor angiogenesis is a key regulator of tumor growth and metastasis. Assays allowing the analysis of tumor angiogenesis are an essential tool to elucidate the role played by the tumor microenvironment in regulating tumor angiogenesis. The assays should also be capable of systematically investigating the effects of physiologically relevant, mechanical and chemical stimuli and their synergistic interactions. The high optical resolution of microfluidic assays facilitates three-dimensional studies of cellular morphogenesis. Their versatility can be applied to study the multi-parameter control of angiogenic factors.
Many transgenic domestic animals have been developed to produce therapeutic proteins in the mammary gland, and this approach is one of the most important methods for agricultural and biomedical applications. However, expression and secretion of a protein varies because transgenes are integrated at random sites in the genome. In addition, distal enhancers are very important for transcriptional gene regulation and tissue-specific gene expression. Development of a vector system regulated accurately in the genome is needed to improve production of therapeutic proteins. The objective of this study was to develop a knock-in system for expression of human fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) in the bovine β-casein gene locus. The F2A sequence was fused to the human FGF2 gene and inserted into exon 3 of the β-casein gene. We detected expression of human FGF2 mRNA in the HC11 mouse mammary epithelial cells by RT-PCR and human FGF2 protein in the culture media using western blot analysis when the knock-in vector was introduced. We transfected the knock-in vector into bovine ear fibroblasts and produced knock-in fibroblasts using the clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 system. Moreover, the CRISPR/Cas9 system was more efficient than conventional methods. In addition, we produced knock-in blastocysts by somatic cell nuclear transfer using the knock-in fibroblasts. Our knock-in fibroblasts may help to create cloned embryos for development of transgenic dairy cattle expressing human FGF2 protein in the mammary gland via the expression system of the bovine β-casein gene.
Next-generation sequencing technique has been known as a useful tool for de novo transcriptome assembly, functional annotation of genes and identification of molecular markers. This study was carried out to mine molecular markers from de novo assembled transcriptomes of four chilli pepper varieties, the highly pungent ‘Saengryeg 211’ and non-pungent ‘Saengryeg 213’ and variably pigmented ‘Mandarin’ and ‘Blackcluster’. Pyrosequencing of the complementary DNA library resulted in 361,671, 274,269, 279,221, and 316,357 raw reads, which were assembled in 23,607, 19,894, 18,340 and 20,357 contigs, for the four varieties, respectively. Detailed sequence variant analysis identified numerous potential single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and simple sequence repeats (SSRs) for all the varieties for which the primers were designed. The transcriptome information and SNP/SSR markers generated in this study provide valuable resources for high-density molecular genetic mapping in chilli pepper and Quantitative trait loci analysis related to fruit qualities. These markers for pepper will be highly valuable for marker-assisted breeding and other genetic studies.
Based on the sequences of Brassica rapa ssp. pekinensis, we carried out a single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) study for genes controlling disease resistance (clubroot, turnip mosaic virus and soft rot) and leaf traits in B. rapa leafy genotypes ‘VC40’ and ‘SR5’. In total, 7645 SNP markers were obtained based on the annotation of a B. rapa database for disease resistance. Among these 7645 SNP markers, 141 were related to 125 genes linked to leaf traits. From these 141 SNP markers, 63 were screened and High Resolution Melt (HRM) primers were designed for genomic studies. A total of 20 polymorphic SNP primers were finally obtained. Eventually, these markers will be further used for the detection of quantitative trait loci and mapping studies.
White and black deposits have been frequently observed on the surface of Korean stone cultural heritages, and they are considered as damage factors in both conservation and esthetic points of view. In order to set up the appropriate conservation remedy, it is important to know their origins, characteristics, and compositions. In this study, optical and scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) equipped with an energy-dispersive spectrometer (EDS) and X-ray diffractometer were employed to determine the white and black deposits. It was found that both deposits consisted mainly of calcium carbonate (calcite) and calcium sulfate (gypsum). The calcite and gypsum were characterized by bladed, rhombohedral, tabular, and amorphous morphologies under a SEM. The black deposit was not only composed of calcite or gypsum, but also accompanied amorphous and irregular matrix. SEM-EDS analysis revealed an abundance of silicon, aluminum, iron, phosphorus, and carbon on the matrix, which were major elements of soil, atmospheric deposits, and organisms. The white deposit, on the other hand, barely contained those coloring substances. These salts and deposited substances were caused by chemical reaction and physical adhesion between rock-forming minerals, lime mortar, sulfur in polluted air environment, soil dust, and microorganisms.
Aim: To determine whether or not the change in cervical length (CL) over time is valuable in predicting spontaneous preterm delivery (SPTD) in asymptomatic twin pregnancies with a normal mid-trimester CL (>25 mm). Methods: This was a prospective study including 190 consecutive asymptomatic twin gestations with a CL > 25 mm at 20–24 weeks. The women underwent an initial CL measurement at the time of routine ultrasound examination between 20 and 24 weeks’ gestation, followed 4–5 weeks later by a repeat CL measurement. The primary outcome measure was SPTD at <32 completed weeks’ gestation. Multicollinearity was a concern in the multivariable model since change in CL and follow-up CL were highly correlated. Results: The rate of SPTD at <32 weeks was 4.2%. Multiple logistic regression analyses demonstrated that the change in CL and the follow-up CL were significantly associated with SPTD before 32 weeks after adjusting for baseline covariate such as in vitro fertilization. The best cut-off values for the prediction of SPTD at <32 weeks’ gestation were 13% for the change in CL with a sensitivity of 87.5% and a specificity of 63.2%. There was no significant difference in the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves between the change in CL and the follow-up CL. Conclusions: A greater change in CL is a good predictor of SPTD in asymptomatic twin pregnancies with a normal mid-trimester CL. However, the change in CL cannot provide data beyond the follow-up CL. In the setting of a normal mid-trimester CL, a follow-up CL measurement should be considered in asymptomatic twin pregnancies.
The photophysical formation of surface relief grating (SRG) was compared between isocyanate-based polymeric and non-polymeric thin films of low molecular weight organics containing azobenzene group. The non-polymeric film forms faster and more efficient surface grating formation than the polymeric film when exposed to an interference pattern of polarized Ar+ laser beams at 488 nm. However, the polymeric materials exhibited higher stability of SRG and orientation of azobenzenes than non-polymeric ones. The relation between the rate of photoinduced surface modulation and orientation of azobenzenes is discussed.
The correlation of surface morphology with strain relaxation in the In0.15Ga0.85As epilayer on GaAs(100) grown by chemical beam epitaxy using unprecracked monoethylarsine has been investigated. The surface morphology of InGaAs was analyzed by atomic force microscopy as the epilayer thickness was increased from 0.025 to 1.668 μm. The changes in the surface morphology indicated that surface roughening is related to the process of strain relaxation in the film. The strain-induced shifts in the GaAs-like longitudinal optical phonon in the Raman spectrum also indicated that the strains in the InGaAs epilayer relax via step-wise process with increasing the film thickness beyond the critical thickness, which agrees well with the changes of surface mophology.