Author Interviews, BMJ, HIV, STD / 17.01.2017 Interview with: Michael Rekart, MD, DTM&H Clinical Professor, Medicine and Global Health The University of British Columbia .... On behalf of my co-authors What is the background for this study? Response: The background for this study is the observation that new syphilis cases over the last decade in British Columbia, Canada, have been escalating more rapidly than anyone could have predicted and that syphilis incidence has outpaced the incidence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including gonorrhea and chlamydia. This unexpected increase in syphilis has been almost wholly concentrated in men who have sex with men (MSM). Most of these MSM are HIV-1 infected and many are taking highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). In fact, the expansion in HAART coverage in MSM parallels the growth in syphilis in the same population. In addition, my co-authors and I had serious doubts as to whether 'treatment optimism', the generally accepted explanation for this phenomenon, was robust enough to account for such a dramatic increase in new syphilis cases. Treatment optimism posits that HAART availability and effectiveness have led to the perception in both HIV-1-infected and HIV-1-uninfected individuals that HIV-1 transmission has become much less likely, and the effects of HIV-1 infection less deadly. This is expected to result in increased sexual risk-taking, especially unprotected anal intercourse, leading to more non-HIV-1 STDs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Pain Research, Stroke / 13.01.2017 Interview with: Dr. Matthias Eikermann, MD, PhD Associate Professor of Anaesthesia Harvard Medical School Clinical Director, Critical Care Division What is the background for this study? Response: Up to one fifth of the general population have migraine, a primary, chronic-intermittent headache disorder affecting the neuronal and vascular systems and characterized by severe headache accompanied by nausea and/or sensory hypersensitivities such as photophobia and phonophobia. In approximately 20-30% of patients, the headache phase is preceded or accompanied by transient focal neurological disturbances presenting as visual symptoms but also sensory, aphasic, or motor symptoms known as migraine aura. Stroke is responsible for approximately 6.2 million deaths a year and is a leading global cause of long term disability. Considering that more than 50 million patients in hospital and 53 million ambulatory patients undergo surgical procedures in the United States every year. We found that patients with migraine, particularly migraine with aura, undergoing a surgical procedure are at increased risk of perioperative ischemic stroke and readmission to hospital within 30 days after discharge. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Orthopedics / 28.12.2016 Interview with: Daniel Bonanno Lecturer & 3rd Year Podiatry Co-ordinator Discipline of Podiatry, College of Science, Health, and Engineering La Trobe University Victoria Australia What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Foot orthoses and shock-absorbing insoles are commonly used for the prevention of many musculoskeletal disorders of the lower extremity, so this review summarized the findings of existing clinical trials that evaluated their effectiveness for preventing such injuries. The main findings of our review were that foot orthoses were found to be effective for preventing overall injuries and stress fractures, but not soft-tissue injuries. Regarding shock-absorbing insoles, there is no evidence to date to support their use for the prevention of injury. (more…)
Asthma, Author Interviews, BMJ, Nutrition / 26.12.2016 Interview with: Zhen LI, MD, MPH, PhD Candidate INSERM UMR-S 1168 (ex-Equipe 5 du CESP) (VIMA : Aging and chronic diseases. Epidemiological and public health approaches.), Hôpital Paul Brousse France What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: -Cured meat, which is rich in nitrite, has been known as a probable carcinogen. However, although some studies have suggested a potential deleterious role of cured meat intake in lung health, its role in asthma remained unknown. This study was conducted using data from the French Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma (EGEA). Using data from 971 participants with seven years' follow-up, we found that participants who ate frequently cured meat, including ham, sausages, and dried sausages, had a high likelihood of having worsening asthma symptoms. The highest likelihood (76% more) was observed among participants who ate cured meats four or more servings per week, compared with those who ate less than one serving per week. Moreover, as previous studies suggested that obesity is linked to worsening asthma, we used a newly developed method to estimate if this effect was mediated by Body Mass Index (BMI), and we found that overweight/obesity only partly explained the association (14%). (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, BMJ, Emergency Care, Pediatrics / 21.12.2016 Interview with: Dr Jamie G Cooper Consultant in Emergency Medicine Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Aberdeen UK What is the background for this study? Response: Choking in children can be fatal and regularly grapes can be the cause.  We believe that public awareness of the choking hazard posed by grapes (and other similarly shaped foods, such as cherry tomatoes) is not wide spread.  By publishing this article we aimed to highlight the problem to health professionals who look after children and also to the public at large in an attempt to reduce the number of future episodes. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Weight Research / 20.12.2016 Interview with: Igho Onakpoya MD MSc University of Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences Oxford UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Several medicines used to treat obesity have been withdrawn from the market over the last few years. However, the reasons for, and time trends about their withdrawals have not been systematically researched. We identified 25 anti-obesity medicines withdrawn from the market over the last 50 years. 23 of these analogues of amphetamine or fenfluramine, i.e., neurotransmitters. The reasons for withdrawal in the overwhelming majority of instances were cardiovascular or psychiatric adverse reactions, and drug abuse and dependence. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease, Smoking / 16.12.2016 Interview with: Dr. Kevin Campbell MD FACC Wake Heart and Vascular Assistant Professor of Medicine,  UNC School of Medicine Cardiology and Cardiac Electrophysiology in Raleigh, Smithfield and Wilson North Carolina What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this study, data was analyzed from nearly 1800 patients who had ST elevation MI.  Findings were published in Heart.  They found that younger  smokers (age under the age of 50)  had an 8-fold increased risk of acute STEMI , when compared to ex- and never smokers. In addition, researchers found that current smokers of all ages were 3.26 times more likely to have STEMI than ex- and never-smokers—suggesting that if you stop smoking, you can reduce your risk for heart attack. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Dermatology, Herpes Viruses, HIV, Infections, STD / 12.12.2016 Interview with: E. Charles Osterberg, M.D. Assistant Professor of Surgery Genitourinary Reconstruction and Trauma University of Texas- Dell Medical School Dell-Seton Medical Center / University Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: Pubic hair grooming has become an increasingly common practice among men and women. Perceptions of genital normalcy have changed as modern society’s definition of attractiveness and feelings of femininity and masculinity have changed. Pubic hair grooming has been shown to increase morbidity such as genital injuries, however little is known about the relationship between grooming practices and sexually transmitted infections. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Imperial College, Nutrition / 10.12.2016 Interview with: Dr. Dagfinn Aune Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics School of Public Health Imperial College London St. Mary's Campus London  UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that intake of nuts may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, but the relation between nut intake and other diseases like cancer and stroke, and the relation with mortality and less common causes of death is not clear. Also it is not clear how much nuts are needed to reduce the risk. So our current meta-analysis reviewed the data from 20 studies (29 publications) on nut intake and different health outcomes. We found that a nut intake of approximately one serving per day (28 g/d or a handful) was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (by 30%), total cancer (15%), all-cause mortality (22%) and mortality from respiratory disease (50%), diabetes (40%), and infections (75%), although there were few studies in the latter three analyses. We found that most of the benefit was observed up to an intake of around 20 grams per day. Similar results were found for total nuts, tree nuts and peanuts (which are botanically defined as legumes), but peanuts were also associated with reduced risk of stroke, while only tree nuts were associated with reduced cancer risk. We also calculated the number of deaths that potentially could be avoided, under the assumption that the observed associations are causal, and arrived at 4.4 million deaths in North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific (unfortunately we did not have data on nut intake from West Asia and Africa so we were not able to include those areas). (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Clots - Coagulation, Testosterone, Thromboembolism / 03.12.2016 Interview with: Dr. Carlos Martinez Institute for Epidemiology, Statistics and Informatics GmbH Frankfurt, Germany, What is the background for this study? Response: A 10-fold increase in testosterone prescriptions per capita in the United States and a 40-fold increase in Canada in men has occurred over the first decade of this century, mainly for sexual dysfunction and/or decreased energy. Recognised pathological disorders of the male reproductive system remain the sole unequivocal indication for testosterone treatment but there has been increasing use in men without pathological hypogonadism. A variety of studies and meta-analyses have provided conflicting evidence as to the magnitude of the risk of cardiovascular events including venous thromboembolism in men on testosterone treatment. In June 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada required a warning about the risk of venous thromboembolism to be displayed on all approved testosterone products. Studies have reported contradictory results on an association between testosterone use and the risk of venous thromboembolism. The effect of timing and duration of testosterone use on the risk of venous thromboembolism was not studied and may explain some of these contradictory findings. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease / 30.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Emmaneul Stamatakis PhD, MSc, BSc Associate Professor | NHMRC Senior Research Fellow Charles Perkins Centre, Prevention Research Collaboration School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School The University of Sydney What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We examined the association between participation in different sports and risk of death during subsequent decade in a large sample of >80k adults aged 30 and over who lived in Scotland and England between 2994 and 2008 . We found the following significant reduction in risk of dying from all causes among participants compared with non-participants: cycling 15%, aerobics 27%, swimming 28%, racquet balls 47%; there was no significant reduction in mortality for running/jogging and football/rugby. We also found the following significant reduction in risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases: aerobics 36%, swimming 41%, racquet balls 56%; there were no significant reduction in mortality for running, cycling and football/rugby. Results in both cases were adjusted for the potential confounders: age, sex, chronic conditions, alcohol drinking and smoking habits, mental health, obesity, education level, doctor-diagnosed CVD, cancer, weekly volume of other physical activity besides the sport (including walking and domestic activity. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Nutrition / 25.11.2016 Interview with: Dr. Qi Sun Sc.D, M.D., M.M.S. Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath Boston What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Interpretation of existing human study data regarding saturated fat intake in relation to heart disease risk is quite confusing and distorted in certain publications. It is a fact that, depending on data analysis strategies, the effects of saturated fats may depend on which macronutrients they replace. For example, substituting saturated fats for refined carbohydrates will not lead to an elevated risk of heart disease because both nutrients are harmful whereas replacing saturated fats with good polyunsaturated fats results in risk reduction. In our current analysis, we clearly demonstrated that when total saturated fatty acids were replaced by polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, whole grain carbohydrates, and plant-based proteins, the diabetes risk would decrease. Furthermore, we showed that major individual saturated fatty acids were all associated with an elevated heart disease risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, BMJ, Heart Disease / 25.11.2016 Interview with: Archana Singh-Manoux, PhD Research Professor (Directeur de Recherche) Epidemiology of ageing & age-related diseases INSERM,France What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A recent metabolomics study examined 106 biomarkers and found alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP), an acute phase protein, to be the strongest predictor of five-year mortality. It is also unknown how well AGP compares with other sensitive, dynamic, and commonly measured markers of systemic inflammation, such as CRP and IL-6, as a predictor of mortality. We examined the association of these three inflammatory markers with short- and long-term mortality in a large sample of middle-aged adults, followed for 17 years. Our analysis of all-cause, cancer and cardiovascular mortality suggests that for all these outcomes IL-6 may be a better prognostic marker, both in the short and the long-term. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Pediatrics, Social Issues / 22.11.2016 Interview with: Charles Opondo, BPharm MSc PhD. Researcher in Statistics and Epidemiology National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit Nuffield Department of Population Health University of Oxford Oxford What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our study measured fathers’ involvement in their child’s upbringing in infancy by looking at their emotional response to their child (e.g. feeling confident with the child, making a strong bond with the child), how involved they were in childcare (e.g. changing nappies, playing, night feeding, and also general care tasks around the house such as meal preparation) and their feelings of being a secure in their role as a parent (e.g. feeling included by mother in childcare, not feeling inexperienced with children). We found that the children of fathers who scored highly in terms of their emotional response and feeling like a secure parent were less likely to have symptoms of behavioural problems when they were 9 or 11 years. However, fathers being more involved in direct childcare did not seem to affect the child’s risk of having later behavioural problems. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Fertility, OBGYNE / 21.11.2016 Interview with: David McLernon PhD MPhil BSc Research Fellow in Medical Statistics Medical Statistics Team Institute of Applied Health Sciences University of Aberdeen Foresterhill Aberdeen What is the background for this study? Response: Normally when a couple attend a fertility clinic to begin IVF treatment they are only informed about their chances of having a baby for the first attempt of IVF. In actual fact the first treatment is often unsuccessful and many couples will go on to have several complete cycles of the treatment– each involving the transfer of one or two fresh embryos potentially followed by one or more frozen embryo transfers. We felt that a prediction model that could calculate the chances of having a baby over the complete package of treatment would provide better information for couples. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cost of Health Care, Nursing, Outcomes & Safety, University of Pennsylvania / 16.11.2016 Interview with: Dr Linda H Aiken PhD, FAAN, FRCN, RN Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing Professor of Sociology, School of Arts & Sciences Director, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research Philadelphia, PA 19104 What is the background for this study? Response: The idea that adding lower skilled and lower wage caregivers to hospitals instead of increasing the number of professional nurses could save money without adversely affecting care outcomes is intuitively appealing to mangers and policymakers but evidence is lacking on whether this strategy is safe or saves money. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Imperial College / 11.11.2016 Interview with: Peter Wise MD Charing Cross Hospital and Imperial College School of Medicine London, UK What is the background for this analysis? Response: As a medical ethicist, I wished to know how much patients with advanced – metastatic – cancer knew about the drugs that were being used to treat it. What were their perceptions of likely treatment success and how did that tally with our knowledge of what drugs could actually achieve – and at what cost to the body and to the pocket. Did patients actually have a choice – and how did the drugs get approved for use in the first place? (more…)
Alcohol, Author Interviews, BMJ, Gender Differences / 27.10.2016 Interview with: Tim Slade, PhD Associate Professor National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre University of New South Wales What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Historically, men have been more likely to drink alcohol than women and to drink in quantities that damage their health. However, evidence points to a significant shift in the drinking landscape with rates of alcohol use converging among men and women born in more recent times. In a bid to quantify this trend over time, we pooled data from 68 published research studies in 36 countries around the world. We looked at how the ratio of men’s to women’s alcohol use differed for people born in different time periods and found that the gap between the sexes consistently narrowed over the past 100 years or so. For example, among cohorts born in the early 1900s men were just over two times more likely than women to drink alcohol. Among cohorts born in the late 1900s this ratio had decreased to almost one meaning that men’s and women’s drinking rates have reached parity. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, CT Scanning, Heart Disease / 27.10.2016 Interview with: Professor Marc Dewey Heisenberg professor of radiology Vice Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Charité (Campus Mitte) Berlin Germany What is the background for this study? Response: Over 3.5 million cardiac catheterisations are performed in Europe each year. This study, jointly conducted by radiologists and cardiologists at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and published in today’s issue of The BMJ, compares computed tomography (CT) with cardiac catheterisation in patients with atypical chest pain and suspected coronary artery disease (CAD). What are the main findings? Response: CT reduced the need for cardiac catheterisation from 100% to 14% in the group of patients who received CT first instead of catheterisation. If catheterisation was needed in the CT group, the proportion of catheterisations showing obstructive CAD was 5 times higher than in the catheterisation group. Over a period of 3.3 years, the patients in the CT group neither had more cardiac catheterisations nor an increase in cardiovascular events. Moreover, CT shortened the length of stay by 23 hours and 79% of patients said they would prefer CT for future examinations of the heart. Overall, the results of the BMJ study show that CT is a gentle test for reliably ruling out CAD in patients with atypical chest pain who are currently being referred for cardiac catheterisation in routine clinical practice. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Orthopedics, Technology / 26.10.2016 Interview with: Jason Busse PhD Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesia McMaster University Hamilton, ON What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our group previously reviewed the evidence regarding the effectiveness of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) for fracture healing. We found moderate to very low quality evidence for LIPUS in accelerating functional recovery among patients with fracture, and that most trials only explored effects on surrogate outcomes (e.g. radiographic healing); only five of 13 trials directly assessed functional end points - of these, one was positive. We concluded that large trials of high methodological quality, focusing on patient important outcomes such as quality of life and return to function, were needed to establish the role of LIPUS in fracture healing. We have now completed such a study. Our large, international trial of LIPUS for surgically managed tibial fractures found the addition of LIPUS does not improve functional recovery or accelerate radiographic healing. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Lipids, Nutrition, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Weight Research / 26.10.2016 Interview with: Artemis P. Simopoulos, M.D. FACN President, The Center for Genetics Nutrition and Health Washington, DC 20016 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: I have written extensively on the evolutionary aspects of diet, the diet of Crete prior to 1960 in which I pointed to the misinterpretation of the data of the Seven Countries Study by Keys et al. A major characteristic of these diets is a balanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio. The recommendation to substitute saturated fats with omega-6 rich oils (sunflower, corn, soybean) increases inflammation and coronary heart disease. It has been shown in a number of studies that a high omega-6/omega-3 (20/1 instead of a balanced ratio) leads to an increase in white adipose tissue and prevents the formation of brown adipose tissue leading to obesity. The changes in the diet-high in omega-6 oils depletion of omega-3 and high fructose along with highly refined carbohydrates in processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle lead to obesity, diabetes, coronary heart disease and cancer. The scientific evidence from the FAT-1 mouse and recent cohort studies clearly show that the current dietary guidelines as the previous ones are not based on science that takes into consideration genetics, metabolism, the concept that a calorie is not a calorie. It is important to consider that nutrients influence the expression of genes, the omega-6 fatty acids are the most pro-inflammatory nutrients, and inflammation is at the base of all chronic non-communicable diseases. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease, Technology / 15.10.2016 Interview with: Dr. Ngai-yin Chan Princess Margaret Hospital Lai Chi Kok, Hong Kong What is the background for this study? Response: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained heart rhythm disorder which can cause stroke, heart failure and an increased risk of death. The risk of stroke can be reduced substantially with drug treatment. However, a quarter of patients with AF causing stroke have silent and asymptomatic AF before stroke. The current guidelines recommend opportunistic screening for AF. Whether systematic community screening for AF with a convenient smartphone ECG can reduce the burden of AF remains unknown. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Genetic Research, Weight Research / 19.09.2016 Interview with: Prof. John C. Mathers Director, Human Nutrition Research Centre Institute of Cellular Medicine and Newcastle University Institute for Ageing Newcastle University Biomedical Research Building Campus for Ageing and Vitality Newcastle on Tyne What is the background for this study? Response: More than 90 different genetics variants are associated with body fatness and, of these, the FTO gene has the biggest effect. People who are homozygous for the unusual variant of FTO i.e. carry two copies of the risk allele, are on average 3kg heavier than those not carrying the risk allele. In addition, they have 70% greater risk of being obese. Since the FTO gene is associated with being heavier, we wondered whether it made it more difficult for people to lose weight. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Heart Disease, Stroke / 12.09.2016 Interview with: Ayodele Odutayo, DPhil student Centre for Statistics in Medicine Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences University of Oxford, Oxford, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased risk of all cause mortality and stroke, as well as higher medical costs and a reduced quality of life. The association between atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular outcomes other than stroke is less clear. We found that atrial fibrillation is associated with a wide range of cardiovascular events, including cardiovascular mortality, major cardiovascular events, heart failure, ischaemic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and sudden cardiac death, as well as stroke and all cause mortality. The relative and absolute risk increase associated with many of these events is greater than that of stroke. Interventions are needed to reduce the risk of non-stroke cardiovascular outcomes in adults with atrial fibrillation. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Education, Surgical Research / 03.09.2016 Interview with: Miss Hui-Ling Kerr SpR Trauma and Orthopaedics Department of Trauma and Orthopaedic Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol, UK What is the background for this study? Response: Gender inequality at consultant level in surgery has not improved despite greater opportunities for women and only a small proportion of women apply to become surgical trainees. We wanted to find out if the lack of female surgical role models acted as a deterrent to first year female junior doctors and final year medical students towards a career in surgery. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, BMJ, Cancer Research, Karolinski Institute / 02.09.2016 Interview with: Qing Shen, PhD student Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Karolinska Institutet What is the background for this study? Response: Injury, either iatrogenic (for example, complications from medical procedures and drug treatment) or non-iatrogenic (for instance, suicidal behavior and accidents), is one of the leading causes of non-cancer mortality for patients diagnosed with cancer. Iatrogenic injuries are common in those with cancer and have been shown to increase mortality in some cancer patients. Increased risks of suicide and accidental death after diagnosis have been reported, and the diagnostic process of cancer has been recognized highly stressful. It is, however, unknown whether the risk of injuries is also increased during the time period before receiving the diagnosis. Actually confirming a diagnosis can often be difficult due to patients sometimes concealing information. This is why Motivational Interviewing is important. Anyway, we analysed the risks of injuries during the weeks before and after diagnosis using a nationwide study sample in Sweden. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Mental Health Research, Sleep Disorders / 26.08.2016 Interview with: Donna Littlewood PhD School of Health Sciences Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health The University of Manchester What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This was the first qualitative study to examine the role of sleep problems in relation to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 18 participants, who all had experienced major depressive episode(s) and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. Data were analysed with thematic analysis which identified three interrelated pathways whereby sleep contributed to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. The first was that being awake at night heightened the risks of suicidal thoughts and attempts, which in part was seen as a consequence of the lack of help or resources available at night. Secondly, the research found that a prolonged failure to achieve a good night's sleep made life harder for respondents, adding to depression, as well as increasing negative thinking, attention difficulties and inactivity. Finally, participants said sleep acted as an alternative to suicide, providing an escape from their problems. However, the desire to use sleep as an avoidance tactic led to increased day time sleeping which in turn caused disturbed sleeping patterns - reinforcing the first two pathways. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, BMJ, Geriatrics, Mental Health Research / 10.08.2016 Interview with: Dr. Faiza Tabassum, PhD Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute  University of Southampton Southampton, UK What is the background for this study? Response: Previous research has shown that volunteering in older age is associated with better mental and physical health, but it’s unclear whether this extends to other age groups. We aimed to examine the association of volunteering with mental health or well-being among the British population across all ages. The British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) was used which has collected information from 1991 to 2008 from over 5000 households. The published study has analysed over 66,000 responses representing the whole of the UK. The BHPS included a wide range of questions on leisure time activities, which covered the frequency of formal volunteering—from at least once a week through to once a year or less, or never. The BHPS also included a validated proxy for mental health/emotional wellbeing known as the GHQ-12. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Psychological Science, Sexual Health / 10.08.2016 Interview with: Steven Arnocky, PhD Associate Professor Department of Psychology Nipissing University North Bay, ON CAN What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our work was based on previous findings from hunter-gatherer populations showing that men who hunt and share meat often enjoy greater reproductive access to women.  Research in North America has shown that individuals prefer altruistic partners, especially for long-term mating, and that there may be a sex difference in these preferences such that women exhibit this preference more strongly than men. In line with this, some research has shown that men will sometimes compete with other men in order to make charitable donations to attractive female fundraisers (termed 'competitive altruism'). Taken together, these findings led us to hypothesise that individuals (and perhaps particularly men) who behave altruistically might experience greater mating success. In Study 1, undergraduate men and women completed a self-report altruism questionnaire (items such as “I have donated blood”), a personality measure, and a sexual history survey. We found that participants who scored higher on a self-report altruism measure reported they were more desirable to the opposite sex, as well as reported having more sex partners, more casual sex partners, and having sex more often within relationships. Moreover, altruism mattered more for men’s number of lifetime and casual sex partners relative to women’s. Given the possibility that in any survey research, there is a chance individual’s may report their altruism of sexual history in what they view to be a more positive light (who doesn’t want to think of themselves as altruistic!), in Study 2, we used a behavioral measure of altruism (each participant was entered onto a draw for $100, and at the end of the survey was given the choice to keep their winnings or to donate to a charity). Participants again reported on their sexual histories, as well as completed a personality measure, a scale to capture socially-desirable responding, and a measure of narcissism. Results showed that even when controlling for these potentially confounding variables, that altruists reported having more lifetime sex partners, more casual sex partners, and more sex partners over the past year. Men who were willing to donate also reported having more lifetime dating partners. (more…)