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Understanding place-based contributors to health requires geographically and culturally diverse study populations, but sharing location data is a significant challenge to multisite studies. Here, we describe a standardized and reproducible method to perform geospatial analyses for multisite studies. Using census tract-level information, we created software for geocoding and geospatial data linkage that was distributed to a consortium of birth cohorts located throughout the USA. Individual sites performed geospatial linkages and returned tract-level information for 8810 children to a central site for analyses. Our generalizable approach demonstrates the feasibility of geospatial analyses across study sites to promote collaborative translational research.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Gut microbiota data obtained by DNA sequencing are not only complex because of the number of taxa that may be detected within human cohorts, but also compositional because characteristics of the microbiota are described in relative terms (e.g., “relative abundance” of particular bacterial taxa expressed as a proportion of the total abundance of taxa). Nutrition researchers often use standard principal component analysis (PCA) to derive dietary patterns from complex food data, enabling each participant's diet to be described in terms of the extent to which it fits their cohort's dietary patterns. However, compositional PCA methods are not commonly used to describe patterns of microbiota in the way that dietary patterns are used to describe diets. This approach would be useful for identifying microbiota patterns that are associated with diet and body composition. The aim of this study is to use compositional PCA to describe gut microbiota profiles in 5 year old children and explore associations between microbiota profiles, diet, body mass index (BMI) z-score, and fat mass index (FMI) z-score. This study uses a cross-sectional data for 319 children who provided a faecal sample at 5 year of age. Their primary caregiver completed a 123-item quantitative food frequency questionnaire validated for foods of relevance to the gut microbiota. Body composition was determined using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and BMI and FMI z-scores calculated. Compositional PCA identified and described gut microbiota profiles at the genus level, and profiles were examined in relation to diet and body size. Three gut microbiota profiles were found. Profile 1 (positive loadings on Blautia and Bifidobacterium; negative loadings on Bacteroides) was not related to diet or body size. Profile 2 (positive loadings on Bacteroides; negative loadings on uncultured Christensenellaceae and Ruminococcaceae) was associated with a lower BMI z-score (r = -0.16, P = 0.003). Profile 3 (positive loadings on Faecalibacterium, Eubacterium and Roseburia) was associated with higher intakes of fibre (r = 0.15, P = 0.007); total (r = 0.15, P = 0.009), and insoluble (r = 0.13, P = 0.021) non-starch polysaccharides; protein (r = 0.12, P = 0.036); meat (r = 0.15, P = 0.010); and nuts, seeds and legumes (r = 0.11, P = 0.047). Further regression analyses found that profile 2 and profile 3 were independently associated with BMI z-score and diet respectively. We encourage fellow researchers to use compositional PCA as a method for identifying further links between the gut, diet and obesity, and for developing the next generation of research in which the impact on body composition of dietary interventions that modify the gut microbiota is determined.
In the broad literature on the effects of ingredients, foods and diets on appetite and energy intake (EI), most trials involve a single acute intervention. It is unclear whether these acute results are generally sustained over longer periods. Researchers and regulators therefore lack an objective basis to judge the appropriate duration of efficacy trials in appetite control, to have confidence that acute effects are likely to be maintained. This gap creates uncertainty in requirements and study designs for the substantiation of satiety-enhancing approaches to help in controlling eating behaviour.
Materials and Methods:
A systematic search of literature (Prospero registration number CRD42015023686) identified studies testing both the acute and chronic effects of food-based interventions aimed at reducing appetite or EI. From 9680 unique records identified from titles and abstracts, 178 papers were selected for full screening. Twenty-six trials met the inclusion criteria and provided data sufficient for use in this analysis, and were also scored for risk of bias (RoB) indicators.
Most of these trials (21/26) measured appetite outcomes and over half (14/26) had objective measures of EI. A significant acute effect of the intervention was retained in 10 of 12 trials for appetite outcomes, and six of nine studies for EI. Initial effects were most likely retained where these were more robust and studies adequately powered. Where the initial, acute effect was not statistically significant, a significant effect was later observed in only two of nine studies for appetite and none of five studies for EI. The main sources of RoB were lack of a priori power calculations and failure to report analyses based on intention-to-treat. Furthermore, 12/26 studies were not adequately powered to detect a meaningful reduction in appetite (~10%).
Maintenance of acute intervention effects on appetite or EI need to be confirmed, but seems likely where the initially observed effects are robust and replicable in adequately powered studies.
This study used data from 12 cultural groups in 9 countries (China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and United States; N = 1,315) to investigate bidirectional associations between parental warmth and control, and child externalizing and internalizing behaviors. In addition, the extent to which these associations held across mothers and fathers and across cultures with differing normative levels of parent warmth and control were examined. Mothers, fathers, and children completed measures when children were ages 8 to 13. Multiple-group autoregressive cross-lagged structural equation models revealed that evocative child-driven effects of externalizing and internalizing behavior on warmth and control are ubiquitous across development, cultures, mothers, and fathers. Results also reveal that parenting effects on child externalizing and internalizing behaviors, though rarer than child effects, extend into adolescence when examined separately in mothers and fathers. Father-based parent effects were more frequent than mother effects. Most parent- and child-driven effects appear to emerge consistently across cultures. The rare culture-specific parenting effects suggested that occasionally the effects of parenting behaviors that run counter to cultural norms may be delayed in rendering their protective effect against deleterious child outcomes.
The present study explored relationships among personality, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) biomarkers, and dementia by addressing the following questions: (1) Does personality discriminate healthy aging and earliest detectable stage of AD? (2) Does personality predict conversion from healthy aging to early-stage AD? (3) Do AD biomarkers mediate any observed relationships between personality and dementia status/conversion?
Both self- and informant ratings of personality were obtained in a large well-characterized longitudinal sample of cognitively normal older adults (N = 436) and individuals with early-stage dementia (N = 74). Biomarkers included amyloid imaging, hippocampal volume, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) Aβ42, and CSF tau.
Higher neuroticism, lower conscientiousness, along with all four biomarkers strongly discriminated cognitively normal controls from early-stage AD individuals. The direct effects of neuroticism and conscientiousness were only mediated by hippocampal volume. Conscientiousness along with all biomarkers predicted conversion from healthy aging to early-stage AD; however, none of the biomarkers mediated the relationship between conscientiousness and conversion. Conscientiousness predicted conversion as strongly as the biomarkers, with the exception of hippocampal volume.
Conscientiousness and to a lesser extent neuroticism serve as important independent behavioral markers for AD risk.
A national need is to prepare for and respond to accidental or intentional disasters categorized as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive (CBRNE). These incidents require specific subject-matter expertise, yet have commonalities. We identify 7 core elements comprising CBRNE science that require integration for effective preparedness planning and public health and medical response and recovery. These core elements are (1) basic and clinical sciences, (2) modeling and systems management, (3) planning, (4) response and incident management, (5) recovery and resilience, (6) lessons learned, and (7) continuous improvement. A key feature is the ability of relevant subject matter experts to integrate information into response operations. We propose the CBRNE medical operations science support expert as a professional who (1) understands that CBRNE incidents require an integrated systems approach, (2) understands the key functions and contributions of CBRNE science practitioners, (3) helps direct strategic and tactical CBRNE planning and responses through first-hand experience, and (4) provides advice to senior decision-makers managing response activities. Recognition of both CBRNE science as a distinct competency and the establishment of the CBRNE medical operations science support expert informs the public of the enormous progress made, broadcasts opportunities for new talent, and enhances the sophistication and analytic expertise of senior managers planning for and responding to CBRNE incidents.
. The nature and evolution of ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) is an open problem in astrophysics. They challenge our current understanding of stellar compact objects and accretion physics. The recent discovery of pulsar ULXs further demonstrates the importance of this intriguing and rare class of objects.
In order to overcome the difficulties of directly studying the optical associations of ULXs, we generally resort in statistical studies of the stellar properties of their host galaxies. We present the largest such study based on the combination of Chandra archival data with the most complete galaxy catalog of the Local Universe. Incorporating robust distances and stellar population parameters based on associated multi-wavelength information, and we explore the association of ULXs with galaxies in the (star formation rate, stellar mass, metallicity) space.
We confirm the known correlation with morphology, star formation rate and stellar mass, while we find an excess of ULXs in dwarf galaxies, indicating dependence on age and metallicity.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple diseases and risk factors.
An online mental health questionnaire completed by UK Biobank participants was expected to expand the potential for research into mental disorders.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting with a patient group regarding acceptability. Case definitions were defined using operational criteria for lifetime depression, mania, anxiety disorder, psychotic-like experiences and self-harm, as well as current post-traumatic stress and alcohol use disorders.
157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status than the general population across a range of indicators. Thirty-five per cent (55 750) of participants had at least one defined syndrome, of which lifetime depression was the most common at 24% (37 434). There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed owing to selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Declaration of interest
G.B. received grants from the National Institute for Health Research during the study; and support from Illumina Ltd. and the European Commission outside the submitted work. B.C. received grants from the Scottish Executive Chief Scientist Office and from The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation during the study. C.S. received grants from the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust during the study, and is the Chief Scientist for UK Biobank. M.H. received grants from the Innovative Medicines Initiative via the RADAR-CNS programme and personal fees as an expert witness outside the submitted work.
For this study, we adapted the Montgomery Borgatta Caregiver Burden Scale, used widely in the United States, to the Saudi Arabian context. To produce an Arabic, culturally sensitive version of the scale, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 20 Saudi family caregivers. The Arabic version of the scale was tested, and participants were asked to comment on the appropriateness of items for the construct of “caregiver burden” using the repertory grid technique and laddering procedure – two constructivist methods derived from personal construct theory. From interview findings, we examined the content of the items and the caregiver burden construct itself. Our findings suggest that the use of constructivist methods to refine constructs and quantitative instruments is highly informative. This strategy is feasible even when little is known about the investigated constructs in the target culture and further elucidates our understanding of cross-cultural variations or invariance of different versions of the scale.
In today's age of restrictionism, a growing number of countries are closing their gates of admission to most categories of would-be immigrants with one important exception. Governments increasingly seek to lure and attract “high value” migrants, especially those with access to large sums of capital. These individuals are offered golden visa programs that lead to fast-tracked naturalization in exchange for a hefty investment, in some cases without inhabiting or even setting foot in the passport-issuing country to which they now officially belong. In the U.S. context, the contrast between the “Dreamers” and “Parachuters” helps to draw out this distinction between civic ties and credit lines as competing bases for membership acquisition. Drawing attention to these seldom-discussed citizenship-for-sale practices, this essay highlights their global surge and critically evaluates the legal, normative, and distributional quandaries they raise. I further argue that purchased membership goods cannot replicate or substitute the meaningful links to a political community that make citizenship valuable and worth upholding in the first place.
Debates on “rising powers” and a possible end to the liberal international order mostly focus on two kinds of actors: the hegemon (the United States), privileged by the power distribution of yesteryear, and rising powers (notably China). Europe's curious position brings to light some intriguing dynamics of the emerging world order—nuances needed to capture a more differentiated future. This essay traces the threats and opportunities to Europe presented by the emerging order in four domains. In terms of overall power (polarity) and economics, far-reaching change registers but is rarely designated as threatening. In contrast, change regarding values (human rights and democracy especially) triggers more alarm. Finally, in the domain of institutions, change elicited a relative lack of concern prior to 2016, but worries have grown since then. For Europe, peaceful change primarily demands that rising powers rearticulate rather than confront classical Western values because, in contrast to the United States, there is little sense of loss in Europe in relation to the global structures of power and economics.
In the early years of the twenty-first century the narrative of “emerging powers” and “rising powers” seemed to provide a clear and powerful picture of how international relations and global politics were changing. Yet dramatic changes in the global system have led many to conclude that the focus on the BRICS and the obsession with the idea of rising powers reflected a particular moment in time that has now passed. The story line is now about backlash at the core; and, with the exception of China, rising powers have returned to their role as secondary or supporting actors in the drama of global politics. Such a conclusion is profoundly mistaken for three sets of reasons: the continued reality of the post-Western global order; the need to understand nationalist backlash as a global phenomenon; and the imperative of locating and strengthening a new pluralist conception of global order.
While Russian leaders are clearly dissatisfied with the United States and the European Union, they are not inherently opposed to a liberal world order. The question of Russia's desire to change a liberal international order hangs on the type of liberalism embedded in that order. Despite some calls from within for it to create a new, post-liberal order premised on conservative nationalism and geopolitics, Russia is unlikely to fare well in such a world.