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Twins Research Australia (TRA) is a community of twins and researchers working on health research to benefit everyone, including twins. TRA leads multidisciplinary research through the application of twin and family study designs, with the aim of sustaining long-term twin research that, both now and in the future, gives back to the community. This article summarizes TRA’s recent achievements and future directions, including new methodologies addressing causation, linkage to health, economic and educational administrative datasets and to geospatial data to provide insight into health and disease. We also explain how TRA’s knowledge translation and exchange activities are key to communicating the impact of twin studies to twins and the wider community. Building researcher capability, providing registry resources and partnering with all key stakeholders, particularly the participants, are important for how TRA is advancing twin research to improve health outcomes for society. TRA provides researchers with open access to its vibrant volunteer membership of twins, higher order multiples (multiples) and families who are willing to consider participation in research. Established four decades ago, this resource facilitates and supports research across multiple stages and a breadth of health domains.
Co-occurrence of common mental disorders (CMD) with psychotic experiences is well-known. There is little research on the public mental health relevance of concurrent psychotic experiences for service use, suicidality, and poor physical health. We aim to: (1) describe the distribution of psychotic experiences co-occurring with a range of non-psychotic psychiatric disorders [CMD, depressive episode, anxiety disorder, probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and personality dysfunction], and (2) examine associations of concurrent psychotic experiences with secondary mental healthcare use, psychological treatment use for CMD, lifetime suicide attempts, and poor self-rated health.
We linked a prospective cross-sectional community health survey with a mental healthcare provider database. For each non-psychotic psychiatric disorder, patients with concurrent psychotic experiences were compared to those without psychotic experiences on use of secondary mental healthcare, psychological treatment for CMD, suicide attempt, physical functioning, and a composite multimorbidity score, using logistic regression and Cox regressions.
In all disorders except for anxiety disorder, concurrent psychotic experiences were accompanied by a greater odds of all outcomes (odds ratios) for a unit change in composite multimorbidity score ranged between 2.21 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.49–3.27] and 3.46 (95% CI 1.52–7.85). Hazard ratios for secondary mental health service use for non-psychotic disorders with concurrent psychotic experiences, ranged from 0.53 (95% CI 0.15–1.86) for anxiety disorders with psychotic experiences to 4.99 (95% CI 1.22–20.44) among those with PTSD with psychotic experiences.
Co-occurring psychotic experiences indicate greater public mental health burden, suggesting psychotic experiences could be a marker for future preventive strategies improving public mental health.
Subcutaneous adipose tissue (scAT) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) play a significant role in obesity-associated systemic low-grade inflammation. High-fat diet (HFD) is known to induce inflammatory changes in both scAT and PBMC. However, the time course of the effect of HFD on these systems is still unknown. The aim of the present study was to determine the time course of the effect of HFD on PBMC and scAT. New Zealand white rabbits were fed HFD for 5 or 10 weeks (i.e. HFD-5 and HFD-10) or regular chow (i.e. control (CNT)-5 and CNT-10). Thereafter, metabolic and inflammatory parameters of PBMC and scAT were quantified. HFD induced hyperfattyacidaemia in HFD-5 and HFD-10 groups, with the development of insulin resistance in HFD-10, while no changes were observed in scAT lipid metabolism and inflammatory status. HFD activated the inflammatory pathways in PBMC of HFD-5 group and induced modified autophagy in that of HFD-10. The rate of fat oxidation in PBMC was directly associated with the expression of inflammatory markers and tended to inversely associate with autophagosome formation markers in PBMC. HFD affected systemic substrate metabolism, and the metabolic, inflammatory and autophagy pathways in PBMC in the absence of metabolic and inflammatory changes in scAT. Dietary approaches or interventions to avert HFD-induced changes in PBMC could be essential to prevent metabolic and inflammatory complications of obesity and promote healthier living.
Organismal metabolic rates reflect the interaction of environmental and physiological factors. Thus, calcifying organisms that record growth history can provide insight into both the ancient environments in which they lived and their own physiology and life history. However, interpreting them requires understanding which environmental factors have the greatest influence on growth rate and the extent to which evolutionary history constrains growth rates across lineages. We integrated satellite measurements of sea-surface temperature and chlorophyll-a concentration with a database of growth coefficients, body sizes, and life spans for 692 populations of living marine bivalves in 195 species, set within the context of a new maximum-likelihood phylogeny of bivalves. We find that environmental predictors overall explain only a small proportion of variation in growth coefficient across all species; temperature is a better predictor of growth coefficient than food supply, and growth coefficient is somewhat more variable at higher summer temperatures. Growth coefficients exhibit moderate phylogenetic signal, and taxonomic membership is a stronger predictor of growth coefficient than any environmental predictor, but phylogenetic inertia cannot fully explain the disjunction between our findings and the extensive body of work demonstrating strong environmental control on growth rates within taxa. Accounting for evolutionary history is critical when considering shells as historical archives. The weak relationship between variation in food supply and variation in growth coefficient in our data set is inconsistent with the hypothesis that the increase in mean body size through the Phanerozoic was driven by increasing productivity enabling faster growth rates.
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.
Overweight and obesity may increase risk of disease progression in men with prostate cancer, but there have been few studies of weight loss interventions in this patient group. In this study overweight or obese men treated for prostate cancer were randomised to a self-help diet and activity intervention with telephone-based dietitian support or a wait-list mini-intervention group. The intervention group had an initial group meeting, a supporting letter from their urological consultant, three telephone dietitian consultations at 4-week intervals, a pedometer and access to web-based diet and physical activity resources. At 12 weeks, men in both groups were given digital scales for providing follow-up weight measurements, and the wait-list group received a mini-intervention of the supporting letter, a pedometer and access to the web-based resources. Sixty-two men were randomised; fifty-four completed baseline and 12-week measurements, and fifty-one and twenty-seven provided measurements at 6 and 12 months, respectively. In a repeated-measures model, mean difference in weight change between groups (wait-list mini-intervention minus intervention) at 12 weeks was −2·13 (95 % CI −3·44, −0·82) kg (P = 0·002). At 12 months the corresponding value was −2·43 (95 % CI −4·50, −0·37) kg (P = 0·022). Mean difference in global quality of life score change between groups at 12 weeks was 12·3 (95 % CI 4·93, 19·7) (P = 0·002); at 12 months there were no significant differences between groups. Results suggest the potential of self-help diet and physical activity intervention with trained support for modest but sustained weight loss in this patient group.
Gilt progeny (GP) are born and weaned lighter than sow progeny (SP) and tend to have higher rates of mortality and morbidity. This study quantified the lifetime growth performance differences between GP and SP and, additionally, evaluated whether segregating GP and SP in the grower–finisher period compared to mixing them within common pens reduced this variation. It was hypothesised that GP would be lighter than SP at every stage and segregation would improve growth performance of both GP and SP. All piglets born to 61 gilts (parity 1) and 47 sows (parities 2 to 7; mean 3.5 ± 0.2) were allocated to four treatments at 10 weeks of age: (i) GP housed together (GG), (ii) GP mixed (M) with SP (GM), (iii) SP housed together (SS) and (iv) SP mixed with GP (SM). The GM and SM pigs were housed together in common pens after movement into the grower–finisher facility. Individual live weight of all progeny was recorded at birth, weaning (WWT), 10 weeks of age (10WT) and sale (SWT). Individual hot carcass weight (HCW), fat depth at the head of the last rib (P2) and dressing percentage were measured at slaughter. Gilt progeny were lighter at birth (P = 0.038), weaning (P < 0.001) and through to sale (P = 0.001) than SP. Nursery and grower–finisher performance differences in GP were highly attributable to their lower WWT compared to SP (P < 0.001 when fitted as a covariate). Segregation of GP and SP increased grower–finisher average daily gain (ADG) in SP but decreased ADG and SWT in GP (P < 0.10). Segregated SP had increased average daily feed intake but only in males (P = 0.007); HCW (P < 0.001) and P2 fat depth (P = 0.055) were higher in mixed female GP, but there was no difference (P > 0.10) in female SP, or in males. In conclusion, GP were lighter at every stage than SP and differences after weaning were highly related to the lighter WWT of GP. Under the conditions of this study, overall segregation of GP and SP showed no consistent advantages in growth performance for both groups and differed significantly between males and females.
We evaluated provider adherence to practice guidelines for inpatients diagnosed with Clostridoides difficile infection (CDI) before and after implementation of a best practice alert (BPA) linking a positive test result to guideline-based orders. After implementation of the BPA, guideline-based prescribing increased from 39.4% in 2013 to 67.7% in 2016 (P = .014).
Bullying has been understudied among preschool children, especially those from Chinese American families. Previous research has also neglected the dimensional effects of psychological control on child bullying development. This study examined two psychological control dimensions, love withdrawal and guilt induction, and their effects on children's bullying aggressive behavior using a longitudinal design. Participants were first-generation Chinese American mothers (N = 133; mean age [Mage] = 37.82) and their preschool children (Mage = 4.48). Chinese immigrant mothers reported their psychologically controlling parenting and teachers rated children's bullying aggressive behaviors in the school setting. Confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to establish the psychometric properties and cross-wave measurement equivalence of the study constructs. Cross-lagged structural equation modeling analysis indicated that maternal love withdrawal prospectively predicted more bullying aggressive behavior, whereas guilt induction predicted less bullying aggressive behavior in children 6 months later. These results held after controlling for the initial level of children's problem behaviors and demographic variables (child age, gender, and maternal education). For child effects, child bullying aggressive behavior predicted more maternal guilt induction over time but not love withdrawal. Our findings highlight the importance of construct specificity and cultural context in understanding associations between parenting and child development.
Due to concerns over increasing fluoroquinolone (FQ) resistance among gram-negative organisms, our stewardship program implemented a preauthorization use policy. The goal of this study was to assess the relationship between hospital FQ use and antibiotic resistance.
Large academic medical center.
We performed a retrospective analysis of FQ susceptibility of hospital isolates for 5 common gram-negative bacteria: Acinetobacter spp., Enterobacter cloacae, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Primary endpoint was the change of FQ susceptibility. A Poisson regression model was used to calculate the rate of change between the preintervention period (1998–2005) and the postimplementation period (2006–2016).
Large rates of decline of FQ susceptibility began in 1998, particularly among P. aeruginosa, Acinetobacter spp., and E. cloacae. Our FQ restriction policy improved FQ use from 173 days of therapy (DOT) per 1,000 patient days to <60 DOT per 1,000 patient days. Fluoroquinolone susceptibility increased for Acinetobacter spp. (rate ratio [RR], 1.038; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.005–1.072), E. cloacae (RR, 1.028; 95% CI, 1.013–1.044), and P. aeruginosa (RR, 1.013; 95% CI, 1.006–1.020). No significant change in susceptibility was detected for K. pneumoniae (RR, 1.002; 95% CI, 0.996–1.008), and the susceptibility for E. coli continued to decline, although the decline was not as steep (RR, 0.981; 95% CI, 0.975–0.987).
A stewardship-driven FQ restriction program stopped overall declining FQ susceptibility rates for all species except E. coli. For 3 species (ie, Acinetobacter spp, E. cloacae, and P. aeruginosa), susceptibility rates improved after implementation, and this improvement has been sustained over a 10-year period.
The value of the nosological distinction between non-affective and affective psychosis has frequently been challenged. We aimed to investigate the transdiagnostic dimensional structure and associated characteristics of psychopathology at First Episode Psychosis (FEP). Regardless of diagnostic categories, we expected that positive symptoms occurred more frequently in ethnic minority groups and in more densely populated environments, and that negative symptoms were associated with indices of neurodevelopmental impairment.
This study included 2182 FEP individuals recruited across six countries, as part of the EUropean network of national schizophrenia networks studying Gene–Environment Interactions (EU-GEI) study. Symptom ratings were analysed using multidimensional item response modelling in Mplus to estimate five theory-based models of psychosis. We used multiple regression models to examine demographic and context factors associated with symptom dimensions.
A bifactor model, composed of one general factor and five specific dimensions of positive, negative, disorganization, manic and depressive symptoms, best-represented associations among ratings of psychotic symptoms. Positive symptoms were more common in ethnic minority groups. Urbanicity was associated with a higher score on the general factor. Men presented with more negative and less depressive symptoms than women. Early age-at-first-contact with psychiatric services was associated with higher scores on negative, disorganized, and manic symptom dimensions.
Our results suggest that the bifactor model of psychopathology holds across diagnostic categories of non-affective and affective psychosis at FEP, and demographic and context determinants map onto general and specific symptom dimensions. These findings have implications for tailoring symptom-specific treatments and inform research into the mood-psychosis spectrum.
Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium; IWG) is a perennial cereal crop undergoing development for grain production; however, grain yield declines of >75% are often observed after year 2 of the perennial stand and may be linked to soil nutrient depletion. Intercropping IWG with a perennial legume such as alfalfa (Medicago sativa) could benefit nutrient cycling while increasing agroecological diversity. Intermediate wheatgrass was established at five environmentally diverse sites in Minnesota, USA in (1) bi-culture with alfalfa, (2) non-fertilized monoculture and (3) monoculture fertilized annually in the spring with 80 kg N/ha. At northern sites where alfalfa growth was favoured, IWG grain yields were reduced in year 2 by growing IWG in bi-culture with alfalfa, relative to the monoculture systems. Across all sites IWG grain yield decreased by 90% in the non-fertilized monoculture, 80% in the fertilized monoculture and 65% in the bi-culture from year 2 to 4 and plant macronutrient concentrations decreased by 25–70%. In year 4, IWG grain yield was similar or greater in the bi-culture than the fertilized monoculture at three of the five sites and alfalfa biomass was correlated positively with grain yield, harvest index and nutrient uptake in the year 4 bi-culture. Chemical-nitrogen fertilization increased grain yields in year 2 but did not mitigate the decline in yields as stands aged. Intermediate wheatgrass in the bi-culture had similar yields and nutrient uptake and lower yield declines than the chemically fertilized stand at sites where alfalfa growth was maintained throughout the life of the stand.
To identify ways that the built environment may support or disrupt safe doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE) in biocontainment units (BCU).
We observed interactions between healthcare workers (HCWs) and the built environment during 41 simulated PPE donning and doffing exercises.
The BCUs of 4 Ebola treatment facilities and 1 high-fidelity BCU mockup.
A total of 64 HCWs (41 doffing HCWs and 15 trained observers) participated in this study.
In each facility, we observed how the physical environment influences risky behaviors by the HCW. The environmental design impeded communication between trained observers (TOs) and HCWs because of limited window size or visual obstructions with louvers, which allowed unobserved errors. The size and configuration of the doffing area impacted HCW adherence to protocol, and lack of clear demarcation of zones resulted in HCWs inadvertently leaving the doffing area and stepping back into the contaminated areas. Lack of standard location for items resulted in equipment and supplies frequently shifting positions. Finally, different solutions for maintaining balance while removing shoe covers (ie, chair, hand grips, and step stool) had variable success. We identified the 5 key requirements that doffing areas must achieve to support safe doffing of PPE, and we developed a matrix of proposed design strategies that can be implemented to meet those requirements.
Simple, low-cost environmental design interventions can provide structure to support and improve HCW safety in BCUs. These interventions should be implemented in both current and future BCUs.