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Access to safe, clean and affordable water is a basic human right and a global goal towards which climate change poses new challenges that heavily impact the health and wellbeing of people across the globe and exacerbate or create new inequalities. These challenges are shaped by a number of geographical and social conditions that, apart from the risks of weather-driven impacts on water, include water governance and management arrangements in place, including pricing tariffs, and the interplay of social and economic inequalities. Building on examples from Australia, Scotland and England and Wales that illustrate access to water in different types of water provision systems, and regarding to aspects of access, quality and affordability, this paper explores the types of challenges related to water poverty in the context of climate crisis and reflects on the multiple dimensions of water poverty oriented social policy at the interplay of climate change associated risks.
Much of the research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) has been conducted in high-income countries (HICs). However, PTSD and AUD commonly co-occur (PTSD + AUD) are both associated with high global burden of disease, and disproportionately impact those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This narrative review attempts to synthesize the research on prevalence, impact, etiological models, and treatment of PTSD + AUD drawing from research conducted in HICs and discussing the research that has been conducted to date in LMICs. The review also discusses overall limitations in the field, including a lack of research on PTSD + AUD outside of HICs, issues with measurement of key constructs, and limitations in sampling strategies across comorbidity studies. Future directions are discussed, including a need for rigorous research studies conducted in LMICs that focus on both etiological mechanisms and on treatment approaches.
Preliminary evidence has suggested that high-fat diets (HFD) enriched with SFA, but not MUFA, promote hyperinsulinaemia and pancreatic hypertrophy with insulin resistance. The objective of this study was to determine whether the substitution of dietary MUFA within a HFD could attenuate the progression of pancreatic islet dysfunction seen with prolonged SFA-HFD. For 32 weeks, C57BL/6J mice were fed either: (1) low-fat diet, (2) SFA-HFD or (3) SFA-HFD for 16 weeks, then switched to MUFA-HFD for 16 weeks (SFA-to-MUFA-HFD). Fasting insulin was assessed throughout the study; islets were isolated following the intervention. Substituting SFA with MUFA-HFD prevented the progression of hyperinsulinaemia observed in SFA-HFD mice (P < 0·001). Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from isolated islets was reduced by SFA-HFD, yet not fully affected by SFA-to-MUFA-HFD. Markers of β-cell identity (Ins2, Nkx6.1, Ngn3, Rfx6, Pdx1 and Pax6) were reduced, and islet inflammation was increased (IL-1β, 3·0-fold, P = 0·007; CD68, 2·9-fold, P = 0·001; Il-6, 1·1-fold, P = 0·437) in SFA-HFD – effects not seen with SFA-to-MUFA-HFD. Switching to MUFA-HFD can partly attenuate the progression of SFA-HFD-induced hyperinsulinaemia, pancreatic inflammation and impairments in β-cell function. While further work is required from a mechanistic perspective, dietary fat may mediate its effect in an IL-1β–AMP-activated protein kinase α1-dependent fashion. Future work should assess the potential translation of the modulation of metabolic inflammation in man.
Most patients admitted to the hospital via the emergency department (ED) do so with a peripheral intravenous catheter/cannula (PIVC). Many PIVCs develop postinsertion failure (PIF).
To determine the independent factors predicting PIF after PIVC insertion in the ED.
We analyzed data from a prospective clinical cohort study of ED-inserted PIVCs admitted to the hospital wards. Independent predictors of PIF were identified using Cox proportional hazards regression modeling.
In 391 patients admitted from 2 EDs, the rate of PIF was 31% (n=118). The types of PIF identified were infiltration, occlusion, pain and/or peripheral intravenous assessment score >2 (ie, the hospital’s assessment of PIVC phlebitis), and dislodgement (ie, accidental securement device failure or purposeful removal). Of the PIVCs that failed, infiltration and occlusion combined were the most common causes of PIF (n=55, 47%). The median PIVC dwell time was 28.5 hours (interquartile range [IQR], 17.4–50.8 hours). The following variables were associated with increased risk of PIF: being an older patient (for a 1-year increase, hazard ratio [HR], 1.02; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01–1.03; P=.0001); having an Australian Triage Scale score of 1 or 2 compared to a score of 3, 4, or 5 (HR, 2.04; 95% CI, 1.39–3.01; P=.0003); having an ultrasound-guided PIVC (HR, 6.52; 95% CI, 2.11–20.1; P=.0011); having the PIVC inserted by a medical student (P=.0095); infection prevention breaches at insertion (P=.0326); and PIVC inserted in the ante cubital fossa or the back of hand compared to the upper arm (P=.0337).
PIF remains at an unacceptable level in both traditionally inserted and ultrasound-inserted PIVCs.
Clinical trial registration
Australian and New Zealand Trials Registry (ANZCTRN12615000588594).
Depression is a common and costly comorbidity in dementia. There are very few data on the cost-effectiveness of antidepressants for depression in dementia and their effects on carer outcomes.
To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of sertraline and mirtazapine compared with placebo for depression in dementia.
A pragmatic, multicentre, randomised placebo-controlled trial with a parallel cost-effectiveness analysis (trial registration: ISRCTN88882979 and EudraCT 2006-000105-38). The primary cost-effectiveness analysis compared differences in treatment costs for patients receiving sertraline, mirtazapine or placebo with differences in effectiveness measured by the primary outcome, total Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD) score, over two time periods: 0–13 weeks and 0–39 weeks. The secondary evaluation was a cost-utility analysis using quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) computed from the Euro-Qual (EQ-5D) and societal weights over those same periods.
There were 339 participants randomised and 326 with costs data (111 placebo, 107 sertraline, 108 mirtazapine). For the primary outcome, decrease in depression, mirtazapine and sertraline were not cost-effective compared with placebo. However, examining secondary outcomes, the time spent by unpaid carers caring for participants in the mirtazapine group was almost half that for patients receiving placebo (6.74 v. 12.27 hours per week) or sertraline (6.74 v. 12.32 hours per week). Informal care costs over 39 weeks were £1510 and £1522 less for the mirtazapine group compared with placebo and sertraline respectively.
In terms of reducing depression, mirtazapine and sertraline were not cost-effective for treating depression in dementia. However, mirtazapine does appear likely to have been cost-effective if costing includes the impact on unpaid carers and with quality of life included in the outcome. Unpaid (family) carer costs were lower with mirtazapine than sertraline or placebo. This may have been mediated via the putative ability of mirtazapine to ameliorate sleep disturbances and anxiety. Given the priority and the potential value of supporting family carers of people with dementia, further research is warranted to investigate the potential of mirtazapine to help with behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia and in supporting carers.
Objectives: The English National Horizon Scanning Centre routinely scans thirty-five sources to identify new and emerging health technologies. The aim of the study was to develop and apply evaluation criteria and scores to assess the value of sources, and to identify a cutoff score below which sources would be recommended for removal from routine horizon scanning. Criteria to evaluate each source scanned could result in a more efficient approach in the selection process.
Methods: Evaluation criteria were developed following a review of the literature and discussions with horizon analysts. Proposed criteria were piloted on a random selection of six sources, and then applied to all thirty-five sources. The criteria were assessed using the Analytic Hierarchy Process.
Results: Eight criteria were identified as being most relevant for assessing the value of scanning sources. The three most important (primary) criteria were coverage (approximate percentage of relevant information), quality (reliable, accurate, objective), and efficiency (estimated time to identify one potentially significant health technology or other relevant information). Seven sources fell beneath the cutoff score and were recommended for removal from routine scanning.
Conclusions: The criteria were considered useful in the assessment of current sources, and have the potential to be used to assess new ones. These criteria may be useful for other horizon scanning centers to pilot and validate.
Issues concerning firearms are very different in the UK and America; American citizens keep guns in the home for self-defence purposes. While firearms are kept under tight restriction and control of the police in England and Wales, the United States (US) continues to allow greater freedom to law-abiding citizens to carry weapons and keep guns in the home. Greater gun availability results in a greater risk of their use in suicides. While guns also play a significant role in crime in the US, the overall level of gun crime in England and Wales is very low, 0.3% of all crime recorded by the police. One way in which authorities in both Britain and America have attempted to control gun availability has been to address licensing laws. Most perpetrators of spree shootings kill themselves at the scene of the crime; therefore evidence can only be gathered afterwards from eyewitnesses.
Objectives: Europe has many health technology assessment (HTA) agencies, each producing their own HTA reports. Adapting HTA reports for different contexts could reduce the need for multiple reports on the same health technology with resultant saving of time and resources. This study aims to examine and understand the process of adaptation, and to develop a toolkit that would help the adaptation of reports produced by other countries.
Methods: The methods used were a review of the literature; a survey of twenty-nine European HTA organizations, two rounds of a Delphi survey, a face-to-face meeting of twenty-one European network for Health Technology Assessment (EUnetHTA) representatives, iterative rounds of review, and two rounds of quality assurance testing (termed applicability testing).
Results: Descriptions of previous examples of adaptation in the literature are sparse. Most respondents had previous experience in adapting reports, and all believed that adaptation was useful, and there was the ability to benefit from the use of a toolkit to aid in the process. EUnetHTA Partners developed and tested an adaptation toolkit. The toolkit is composed of a series of checklists and resources that identify or clarify the relevance, reliability, and transferability of data and information from existing reports.
Conclusions: Consensus of opinion from twenty-nine European organizations/networks has indicated that the adaptation of HTA reports would be desirable and beneficial. A toolkit was developed to help with the adaptation of HTA reports produced in other settings. This collection of resources is available for use by all HTA agencies and can be accessed at: http://www.eunethta.net/upload/WP5/EUnetHTA_HTA_Adaptation_Toolkit_October08.pdf.
Objectives: Adapting health technology assessment (HTA) reports for different contexts could reduce the need for multiple reports on the same health technology with resultant saving of time and resources. This article describes an instrument, the adaptation toolkit, which has been developed to aid in the process of adaptation of HTA reports.
Methods: The toolkit was developed by a partnership of HTA agencies and networks from across Europe. The role of the toolkit is to guide the user through the process of selecting possible relevant material from these report(s), assessing the relevance, reliability, and transferability of the material, and adapting it for the desired context.
Results: The adaptation toolkit has been developed, it comprises a collection of resources that help the user assess whether data and information in existing HTA reports should and could be adapted for their own setting. The toolkit contains two sections: a preliminary speedy sifting section and the main toolkit. The main toolkit includes five domains: (i) technology use and development, (ii) safety, (iii) effectiveness (including efficacy), (iv) economic evaluation, and (v) organizational aspects. Legal, ethical, and social aspects are beyond the scope of the toolkit. The toolkit is designed for the adaptation of evidence synthesis rather than primary research.
Objectives: To determine the relative extent to which the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) appraises new versus existing technologies, and pharmaceutical versus nonpharmaceutical health technologies.
Methods: We categorized technologies within NICE appraisals published between March 2000 and June 2006 by type and classified them as new or existing using the timeline between launch in the United Kingdom and referral to NICE. We used a 3-year postlaunch cutoff to determine whether a technology was new, with a sensitivity analysis of 1 and 5 years.
Results: We reviewed 159 technologies from 88 appraisals. Of these, 84 (53 percent) were new (sensitivity analysis 36 to 67 percent) and 75 (47 percent) were existing technologies. A total of 119 (75 percent) were pharmaceuticals, 22 (14 percent) were devices, 14 (9 percent) were procedures, and 4 (3 percent) were categorized as miscellaneous. Classification according to newness and technology type showed that 62 percent (42 to 75 percent) of the pharmaceuticals appraised were new.
Conclusions: By developing and applying a definition of new, we have found that the criticism of the bias toward new technologies is unfounded when applied to the appraisal program overall. At the same time, new pharmaceuticals are over-represented in the program compared with devices and procedures. This domination may cause inflationary pressures on the health service, but any wholesale move away from the technological frontier may be more costly.
Objectives: To investigate the factors that influenced the adoption and diffusion of thrombolysis in acute myocardial infarction in England and to verify usage data from 1981 to 2001.
Methods: Survey of cardiologists in England using a pre-prepared time line of historical events and a plot of thrombolysis diffusion since 1981. The cardiologists were divided into three groups that were provided with (i) the time line only, (ii) the diffusion curve only, and (iii) the time line and the diffusion curve.
Results: The GISSI and ISIS-2 clinical trials were perceived to have had a significant influence upon the initial diffusion of thrombolysis in England occurring over the 3 years after launch. Other positive influences included the initial listing in the national formulary, the change to administration in emergency departments, the rise in evidence-based medicine, and production of national guidance.
Conclusions: Although it is apparent that the overall influences on adoption and diffusion of thrombolysis were multiple; clinical trials, service developments, and national guidelines all were judged to have played a part. The GISSI and ISIS-2 clinical trials were confirmed as the major influence on initial adoption.
Objectives: To describe the adoption and take up of thrombolytic agents for acute myocardial infarction since 1980 in England and compare use with the estimated ceiling of need.
Methods: Data on national sales and use of thrombolysis since 1980 (supplied by IMS Health) was used to draw an adoption and diffusion curve. The epidemiological ceiling of acute myocardial infarction, from hospital activity statistics, was modified to an estimated clinical need by accounting for diagnostic difficulty and contraindications using information from published surveys of thrombolysis use in the United Kingdom.
Results: There was a rapid uptake of thrombolytic agents in the first 2 years after availability in 1987, then a plateau, followed by a rise to a peak use in 1995. The shortfall in doses resulting from the difference between estimated ceiling of clinical need and doses purchased and provided in the 14 years since availability is estimated as 167,800 (95 percent confidence range 94,000 to 241,700).
Conclusions: Although there was a rapid initial uptake of thrombolysis in England, usage took 8 years to reach the ceiling of clinical need of 65 percent of patients with acute myocardial infarction, with many patients missing the opportunity to benefit. Monitoring of uptake of innovations known to be cost-effective is required to identify those developments that need additional stimulus for change to ensure that patients do not miss out on the opportunity to benefit.
Objectives: Early warning systems are an integral part of many health technology assessment programs. Despite this finding, to date, there have been no quantitative evaluations of the accuracy of predictions made by these systems. We report a study evaluating the accuracy of predictions made by the main United Kingdom early warning system.
Methods: As prediction of impact is analogous to diagnosis, a method normally applied to determine the accuracy of diagnostic tests was used. The sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of the National Horizon Scanning Centre's prediction methods were estimated with reference to an (imperfect) gold standard, that is, expert opinion of impact 3 to 5 years after prediction.
Results: The sensitivity of predictions was 71 percent (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.36–0.92), and the specificity was 73 percent (95 percent CI, 0.64–0.8). The negative predictive value was 98 percent (95 percent CI, 0.92–0.99), and the positive predictive value was 14 percent (95 percent CI, 0.06–0.3).
Conclusions: Forecasting is difficult, but the results suggest that this early warning system's predictions have an acceptable level of accuracy. However, there are caveats. The first is that early warning systems may themselves reduce the impact of a technology, as helping to control adoption and diffusion is their main purpose. The second is that the use of an imperfect gold standard may bias the results. As early warning systems are viewed as an increasingly important component of health technology assessment and decision making, their outcomes must be evaluated. The method used here should be investigated further and the accuracy of other early warning systems explored.