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Background: Saccade and pupil responses are potential neurodegenerative disease biomarkers due to overlap between oculomotor circuitry and disease-affected areas. Instruction-based tasks have previously been examined as biomarker sources, but are arduous for patients with limited cognitive abilities; additionally, few studies have evaluated multiple neurodegenerative pathologies concurrently. Methods: The Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative recruited individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal dementia, progressive supranuclear palsy, or Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients (n=274, age 40-86) and healthy controls (n=101, age 55-86) viewed 10 minutes of frequently changing video clips without instruction while their eyes were tracked. We evaluated differences in saccade and pupil parameters (e.g. saccade frequency and amplitude, pupil size, responses to clip changes) between groups. Results: Preliminary data indicates low-level behavioural alterations in multiple disease cohorts: increased centre bias, lower overall saccade rate and reduced saccade amplitude. After clip changes, patient groups generally demonstrated lower saccade rate but higher microsaccade rate following clip change to varying degrees. Additionally, pupil responses were blunted (AD, MCI, ALS) or exaggerated (PD). Conclusions: This task may generate behavioural biomarkers even in cognitively impaired populations. Future work should explore the possible effects of factors such as medication and disease stage.
The Ringing Up About Breastfeeding earlY (RUBY) randomised controlled trial (RCT) found that a telephone-based peer volunteer support intervention increased breast-feeding duration in a setting with high breast-feeding initiation. This sub-study of the RUBY RCT describes the motivation, preparation and experiences of volunteers who provided the peer support intervention.
An online survey was completed by 154 (67 %) volunteers after ceasing volunteering.
Volunteers provided peer support to primiparous women (n 574) who birthed at one of three public hospitals in Melbourne, Australia, between February 2013 and December 2015.
Volunteers (n 230) had themselves breastfed for at least 6 months and received 4 h of training for the role.
The median number of mothers supported was two (range 1–11), and two-thirds of respondents supported at least one mother for 6 months. Volunteers were motivated by a strong desire to support new mothers to establish and continue breast-feeding. Most (93 %) considered the training session adequate. The majority (60 %) reported following the call schedule ‘most of the time’, but many commented that ‘it depends on the mother’. Overall, 84 % of volunteers were satisfied with the role and reported that the experience was enjoyable (85 %) and worthwhile (90 %). Volunteers agreed that telephone support for breast-feeding was valued by women (88 %) and that the programme would be effective in helping women to breastfeed (93 %).
These findings are important for those developing similar peer support programmes in which recruiting volunteers and developing training requirements are an integral and recurrent part of volunteer management.
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