Author Interviews, Hearing Loss, JAMA, Pediatrics / 30.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Carlijn M. P. le Clercq, MD Speech and Language Pathology, Pediatrics, Otolaryngology Erasmus MC , Rotterdam What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There has been increasing interest for acquired hearing loss among children, and concerns about its prevalence possibly rising over time. One of the questions that come up, is whether there is an association with the growing use of portable music players with headphones, including smartphones and tablets. There have been few longitudinal studies to explore this relation. In order to examine this relation, among other factors, we have conducted a formal hearing screening among more than 5000 9- to 11-year-old children from a population-based birth cohort in the Netherlands. Our study showed that nearly one in five children did not have normal hearing. Of the cohort, 7.8% of the children showed signs of permanent hearing loss. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA / 28.07.2017 Interview with: Stephen P. Juraschek, MD, PhD Instructor of Medicine Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? Response: Many adults experience dizziness and light-headedness when they stand up. This is more common in older adults and is related to risk of falling, fractures, fainting, car crashes, and early death. These symptoms are thought to be caused by a drop in blood pressure after standing also called orthostatic hypotension. However, if measured at the wrong time it is possible to miss this important clinical sign. For over 2 decades (since 1996), it has been recommended that orthostatic hypotension be identified by measuring blood pressure within 3 minutes of standing. Furthermore, it was also thought that measurements immediately after standing be avoided because they might be inaccurate (based on fluctuation in blood pressure immediately after standing). As a result, a lot of clinical protocols instructing healthcare staff on measuring orthostatic blood pressure encourage measurement at 3 minutes, but this has not been scientifically evaluated. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, Heart Disease, JAMA, Lifestyle & Health, Primary Care, UCLA / 28.07.2017 Interview with: Carol M. Mangione, MD, MSPH, FACP Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD Endowed chair in medicine David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles Professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health What is the background for this study? Response: Americans can experience several health benefits from consuming healthy foods and engaging in physical activity. The Task Force recommends that primary care professionals work together with their patients when making the decision to offer or refer adults who are not obese and do not have hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or diabetes to behavior counseling to promote healthful diet and physical activity. Our focus was on the impact of a healthful diet and physical activity on cardiovascular risk because this condition is the leading cause of premature morbidity and mortality. The Task Force evaluates what the science tells us surrounding the potential benefits and harms of a particular preventive service. In this case, the Task Force found high quality evidence focusing on the impact a healthful diet and physical activity can have on a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Relying on this evidence, the Task Force was able to conclude that there is a positive but small benefit of behavioral counseling to prevent cardiovascular disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics, Sleep Disorders / 26.07.2017 Interview with: Rachel Y. Moon, M.D. Division Head, General Pediatrics Professor of Pediatrics University of Virginia School of Medicine Charlottesville, VA 22908 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Approximately 3500 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly during sleep in the US every year. Even though there are safe sleep recommendations, many parents do not follow them because of misinformation or misconceptions. Therefore we tested 2 complementary interventions to promote infant safe sleep practices. The first was a nursing quality improvement intervention aimed at ensuring that mothers would hear key messages and that there was appropriate role modeling of safe sleep practices by hospital personnel. The second was a mobile health intervention, in which mothers received videos and text messages or emails with safe sleep information during the baby's first two months of life. We randomized mothers to receive either the safe sleep interventions or breast-feeding interventions (the control interventions). Mothers who received the mobile health intervention reported statistically significantly higher rates of placing their babies on their back, room sharing without bed sharing, no soft bedding use, and pacifier use, compared with mothers who received a control intervention. Although the nursing quality improvement intervention did not influence infant safe sleep practices, there was an interaction such that mothers who received both the safe sleep nursing quality improvement intervention and the safe sleep mobile health intervention had the highest rates of placing their babies on the back. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, General Medicine, JAMA / 26.07.2017 Interview with: Jochen René Thyrian, PhD German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Greifswald, Germany What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Dementia presents a challenge to the health care systems worldwide. People with dementia (PWD) need comprehensive medical, nursing, psychological and social support to delay the progression of disease and sustain autonomy and social inclusion. Evidence-based interventions alleviate the burden of disease for PwD and their caregivers, as no curative treatment is currently available. Involving caregivers is important because they provide the largest proportion of care for PwD. General physicians in residency have been identified as the first point of contact for PwD and is thus a promising setting for identification, comprehensive needs assessment and initiating dementia-specific treatment and care. In this study we tested the effectiveness and safety of a model of collaborative care, Dementia Care Management (DCM) on patient-oriented outcomes in n=634 people screened positive for dementia in primary care. DCM is provided by specifically trained nurses, supported by a computerized intervention management system, in close cooperation with the treating physician at the people´s homes. Recommendations for improving treatment and care were based on a comprehensive needs assessment, discussed interprofessionally and their implementation monitored/ adjusted over the course of 6-12 months (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, JAMA, Pharmacology / 26.07.2017 Interview with: Professor Ian Chi Kei Wong and Kenneth KC Man, Senior Research Assistant Department of Social Work and Social Administration, Faculty of Social Science Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, LKS Faculty of Medicine The University of Hong Kong What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at higher risk of various mental health problems. Previous studies suggested that individuals with ADHD are having a higher chance of both attempted and completed suicide. Methylphenidate is a psychostimulant that is recommended for the treatment of ADHD. With the increasing usage of methylphenidate over the past decade, there are concerns about the safety of the medication, in particular, psychiatric adverse effects such as suicide attempt. The current study looked into over 25,000 patients aged 6 to 25 years in Hong Kong who were receiving methylphenidate in 2001 to 2015. Using the self-controlled case series design, in which the patients act as their own control, we found that the risk of suicide attempt was 6.5 fold higher during a 90-day period before methylphenidate was initiated, remained elevated 4-fold during the first 90 days of treatment, and returned to the normal level during ongoing treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 26.07.2017 Interview with: Robert J. Ursano, M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience Director, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress Dept of Psychiatry Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Bethesda, MD What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study is part of the STARRS study- a study to identify risk and protective factors for suicide in US Army. Originally funded by NIMH it is not funded by DoD. It has been called the "Framingham study" for suicide and has been highly productive. In this study we report that units with one suicide attempt are at increased risk of a second- indicating clustering of suicide attempts. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 26.07.2017 Interview with: Olav B. Smeland MD PhD Postdoctoral researcher SFF NORMENT, KG Jepsen Centre for Psychosis Research, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital & Institute of Clinical Medicine University of Oslo Oslo, Norway What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder associated with widespread cognitive impairments. The cognitive deficits are associated with disabilities in social, economic and occupational functioning and lower quality of life among individuals with schizophrenia. Despite this, current treatment strategies largely fail to ameliorate these cognitive impairments. To develop more efficient treatment strategies in schizophrenia, a better understanding of the disease mechanisms underlying cognitive deficits is needed. For a long time we have known that schizophrenia is heritable, and in recent years many schizophrenia risk genes have been identified. Moreover, several studies have indicated that genetic risk of schizophrenia may contribute to cognitive dysfunction. In this study, we aimed to identify schizophrenia risk genes that also influence cognitive function. In a large international collaboration of researchers, we combined genome-wide association studies on schizophrenia and the cognitive traits of verbal-numerical reasoning, reaction time and general cognitive function. In total, we analyzed genetic data from more than 250.000 participants. We were able to identify 21 genetic variants shared between schizophrenia and cognitive traits. For 18 of these genetic variants, schizophrenia risk was associated with poorer cognitive performance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Exercise - Fitness, JAMA / 25.07.2017 Interview with: Daniel H. Daneshvar, M.D., Ph.D. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center Team Up Against Concussions | Founder Boston University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease associated with repetitive head impacts. CTE was first described in JAMA in 1928. In the 99 years since, just over 100 cases of CTE have been described in the world’s literature. This study nearly doubles the number of reported cases of CTE, with 177 cases of CTE in football players. Of note, 110 of the 111 athletes who played in the NFL had CTE. This study represents the largest and the most methodologically rigorous description of a series of patients with CTE ever published. Such a richness of data regarding the clinical and pathological features of CTE has never been previously compiled. As such, this study represents an important advance to the medical literature and an enormous scientific advance in our understanding of  chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Stem Cells / 25.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Paul J. Hauptman, MD Professor of Internal Medicine Division of Cardiology Assistant Dean, Clinical and Translational  Research Saint Louis University School of Medicine St. Louis MO 63110-0250 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A publication in 2016 by Leigh Turner from the University of Minnesota in 2016 shed light on the proliferation of stem cell centers or "businesses" that offer non FDA approved treatments, described as "stem cell therapy" for a variety of conditions. We opted to evaluate sites that claimed to treat heart failure. We collected data on type of infusion, need for a medical evaluation, board certification status of the center physician, cost and other factors. Self reported patient volumes were very variable. Most centers/businesses claimed to use autologous stem cells; a number offered ancillary treatment (i.e. vitamin infusions and hyperbaric oxygen); only one appeared to have a board-certified cardiologist involved. The costs were high for single infusions (mean price of $7694, SD 2737 for autologous cells; slightly less for allogeneic cells). Efficacy claims made during telephone calls with the centers were highly positive. (more…)
Author Interviews, FDA, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 25.07.2017 Interview with: Sanket Dhruva, MD, MHS, FACC Cardiology, VA Connecticut Healthcare System Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar Yale University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In 2012, Congress passed the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Safety and Innovation Act, with the goal of increasing enrollment and availability of data in important patient groups such as the elderly, women, and racial and ethnic minorities. In 2014, as mandated by the legislation, the FDA released an Action Plan to address these issues. This Action Plan included the goal of increasing the transparency by posting demographic information of pivotal (or key) clinical trials used to support approval decisions. We examined how often these data were available in 2015 for all studies used to support approval of all original high-risk medical devices approved in the calendar year following the FDA Action Plan. Examples of these medical devices include stents, bone grafts, heart valves, and spinal cord stimulators. We wanted to understand if age, sex, and race and ethnicity data were available and if the results of clinical studies supporting these medical devices were analyzed to assess if there were differences in safety and effectiveness by these important demographic factors. Our main findings are that FDA Summaries publicly reported age for 65% of study populations, sex for 66%, and race and/or ethnicity for 51%. Analyses to assess if demographic factors may have impacted device safety and effectiveness were only conducted by age for 9%, by sex for 17%, and by race for 4% of clinical studies. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 20.07.2017 Interview with: Bastian Ravesteijn PhD Department of Health Care Policy Harvard Medical School What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We find that higher out-of-pocket costs for mental health care could have the unintended consequence of increasing the use of acute and involuntary mental health care among those suffering from the most debilitating disorders. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, JAMA, Pediatrics / 19.07.2017 Interview with: Holly Gooding, MD, MSc Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics Harvard Medical School Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine Boston Children's Hospital Division of General Internal Medicine Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, MA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Dr Stephanie Chiuve and colleagues at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health developed the Healthy Heart Score to predict the risk of heart disease in older adults based on lifestyle factors measured in middle age. We have known for some time that the precursor to heart disease – known as atherosclerosis – actually starts in childhood and adolescence. We calculated the Healthy Heart Score for young adults ages 18-30 years old and found it works in this age group as well. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Weight Research / 19.07.2017 Interview with: Yan Zheng Research Fellow, Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthYan Zheng Research Fellow, Department of Nutrition Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Most people gain weight cumulatively during young and middle adulthood. Because the amount of weight gain per year may be relatively small, it may go unnoticed by individuals and their doctors—but the cumulative weight gain during adulthood may eventually lead to obesity over time. Compared to studies of attained body weight or BMI, the investigation of weight change may better capture the effect of excess body fat because it factors in individual differences in frame size and lean mass. (more…)
Author Interviews, Boehringer Ingelheim, Heart Disease, JAMA / 18.07.2017 Interview with: Javed Butler, MD, PhD Chief of the Cardiology Division Dr. Vincent Yang, Simons Chair in Internal Medicine Stony Brook University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Persistent congestion is associated with worse outcomes in acute heart failure (AHF). Mineralocorticoid receptor antagonists at high doses may relieve congestion, overcome diuretic resistance, and mitigate the effects of adverse neurohormonal activation in AHF. We therefore studies high dose spironolactone in patients with AHF. Unfortunately all of our primary and secondary endpoints were not different between spironolactone and placebo arms. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, JAMA, Pediatrics, Respiratory, Vitamin D / 18.07.2017 Interview with: Jonathon Maguire MD MSc FRCPC Scientist, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute Staff Pediatrician, Department of Pediatrics, St. Michael’s Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Vitamin D has been hypothesized as being protective of seasonal viral upper respiratory tract infections.  In this randomized clinical trial, high dose wintertime vitamin D supplementation (2000 IU/day) was compared with standard-dose vitamin D supplementation (400 IU/day) among 703 children.  The number of laboratory confirmed viral upper respiratory tract infections was not statistically different between groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Geriatrics, JAMA / 17.07.2017 Interview with: Donal J. Sexton, BSc, MD The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing Trinity College Dublin Health Research Board Clinical Research Facility Galway National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland Trinity Health Kidney Centre, Tallaght Hospital Department of Nephrology, Beaumont Hospital, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland Dublin, Ireland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this study we used the inclusion criteria for SPRINT to identify those community dwelling elders who would meet criteria for the trial in clinical practice. Our data are based on a prospective cohort study composed of participants chosen by a national stratified random sampling mechanism. If SPRINT participants were truly representative of the population, then the participants in the standard care arm of the trial should resemble the population to some extent. If this were true then the injurious falls rate might be similar between the two samples also. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, Pain Research, Primary Care / 17.07.2017 Interview with: Jane M. Liebschutz, MD, MPH Associate Professor of Medicine Section of General Internal Medicine Boston University School of Medicine Boston, Massachusetts What is the background for this study? Response: The number of patients receiving opioids for chronic pain has risen over the past 2 decades in the US, in parallel with an increase in opioid use disorder. The CDC and professional medical societies have created clinical guidelines to improve the safety of opioid prescribing, yet individual prescribers can find them onerous to implement. We developed an intervention to change clinical practice to support primary care physicians who prescribe the majority of opioids for chronic pain. The intervention included 4 elements- a nurse care manager to help assess, educate and monitor patients, an electronic registry to keep track of patient data and produce physician level reports, an individualized educational session for the physician by an opioid prescribing expert based on the physician-specific practice information and online resources to help with decision-making for opioid prescribing ( We tested whether the intervention would improve adherence to guidelines, decrease opioid doses and decrease early refills, as a marker of potential prescription opioid misuse among 985 patients of 53 primary care clinicians in four primary care practices. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Immunotherapy, JAMA, Lung Cancer / 14.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Noelia Rivera MD Dermatologist Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona What is the background for this study? Response: In the last few years some new therapies targeting immune checkpoints have been developed. The programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) are immune checkpoints that prevent the immune system to act against own tissues. By blocking these mediators it is possible to prevent tumors to escape from the immune system. About half of the patients receiving these therapies will develop mild to moderate cutaneous adverse events. In the pre-authorization studies for malignant melanoma these include rash, vitiligo, and pruritus. "Rash" has commonly been reported as an adverse event in many oncologic trials evaluating the drugs, without providing further information about the clinical or histological details. Lately, lichenoid eruptions associated to these therapies have been reported and it suggests that an important percentage of these reactions present lichenoid histological features. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Dermatology, HIV, JAMA, Kaiser Permanente, Merck / 13.07.2017 Interview with: Maryam M. Asgari, MD, MPH Department of Dermatology Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Population Medicine Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Nonmelanoma skin cancer – defined as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – is a common malignant condition, affecting more than 2 million Americans every year. BCCs are more common than SCCs among individuals with healthy immune systems, while SCCs are more predominate than BCCs among people who are immunocompromised. We examined how laboratory markers used to evaluate HIV disease progression may be associated with subsequent nonmelanoma skin cancer risk in white patients previously diagnosed with at least one such cancer from 1996 to 2008.  We measured CD4 count, viral load and subsequent nonmelanoma skin cancer. The study included 455 participants with HIV and 1,952 without HIV. All were members of the Kaiser Permanente Northern California health care plan. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety / 12.07.2017 Interview with: Riyaz Bashir MD, FACC, RVT Professor of Medicine Director, Vascular and Endovascular Medicine Department of Medicine Division of Cardiovascular Diseases Temple University Hospital Philadelphia, PA 19140 What is the background for this study? Response: The use of inferior vena cava filters (IVCF) has been increasing in the United States (US) despite uncertainty about the effectiveness of IVCFs in reducing venous thromboembolism (VTE)-associated morbidity and mortality.  Prompted by the report of high prevalence of fracture and embolization of Bard IVCFs, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a device safety warning on August 9th 2010. In this study, we evaluated national trends of IVCF placement in the US between 2005 and 2014 using the National Inpatient Sample database.  The authors found that there was a 29% reduction in filter use following the 2010 FDA advisory, even though the rates of VTE-related hospitalizations remained unchanged. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Heart Disease, JAMA / 11.07.2017 Interview with: Sacha Bhatia, MD, MBA, FRCPC Scientist, Women's College Research Institute Director, Women’s College Hospital Institute for Health System Solutions and Virtual Care Cardiologist, Women's College Hospital and University Health Network Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The USPSTF recommends against screening with resting electrocardiography (ECG) for the prediction of coronary heart disease (CHD) events in asymptomatic adults at low risk for CHD events. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of the frequency of resting ECGs in low risk patients within 30 days of an annual health exam. We found that 21.5% of low risk patients in Ontario, Canada had a ECG, with significant variation among primary care physicians (1.8% to 76.1%). Moreover, low risk patients who had a ECG were five times more likely to receive another cardiac test or cardiology consultation than those that did not receive an ECG. At one year the rate of mortality, cardiac hospitalizations and revascularization was <0.5% in each group. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Orthopedics / 11.07.2017 Interview with: Mattias Lorentzon, PhD Professor, Senior Physician Head of Geriatric Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Mölndal Mölndal, Sweden What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It was previously known that alendronate reduces the risk of vertebral fractures in patients using oral glucocorticoids, but there were no studies regarding hip fractures, which are the most severe osteoporotic fractures, often resulting in disability and mortality. We found that older patients prescribed alendronate after starting medium to high doses of oral prednisolone had a much lower risk of hip fracture than patients not taking alendronate. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Nutrition, Pediatrics / 10.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Anne-Louise M. Heath and Professor Rachael Taylor Co-Principal Investigators for the BLISS study. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Conventional approaches to complementary feeding generally advise parents to spoon-feed their infant pureed foods, gradually progressing to greater variety and texture so that by the time the infant is one year of age, they are eating more or less what the family does. Baby-led weaning (BLW) is an alternative approach where the infants feeds themselves right from the start of complementary feeding. Because children of this age cannot use utensils, this means hand-held foods are necessary. Advocates of BLW suggest that children have a lower risk of obesity because they remain in control of their own food intake, but research examining this issue directly is scarce. Health professionals have also expressed concern that BLW might put the infant at increased risk of iron deficiency (parents might avoid red meat for fear of the infant choking, and iron-fortified cereals are not easy for the infant to feed themselves), growth faltering (if only low energy foods are offered) and choking (from the infant feeding themselves ‘whole’ foods). Our study therefore examined a version of BLW that had been modified to address these issues (called BLISS - a Baby-Led Introduction to SolidS). Two hundred families took part in our 2-year intervention, with half following traditional feeding practices and half receiving guidance and support to follow our BLISS approach. We found that BLISS children were not less likely to be overweight than those following traditional feeding practices, nor was growth faltering an issue. BLISS child ate about the same amount of food as control children, and their ability to eat to appetite was not different either. However, it seems that children following a baby-led approach to complementary feeding are less fussy about food, and have a healthier attitude to food, which might make a difference to their health long term. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cancer Research, Dermatology, JAMA / 07.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Chrysalyne D. Schmults, MD, MSCE Associate Professor of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School Director, Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery Center and Mr. Pritesh S. Karia, MPH Department of Epidemiology Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland Department of Dermatology Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts Jamaica Plain, MA 02130-3446 What is the background for this study? Response: Perineural nerve invasion (PNI) is a well-recognized risk factor for poor prognosis in patients with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC). Most cases of CSCC with PNI are identified on histologic examination at the time of surgery and the patient has no clinical symptoms or radiologic evidence of PNI. These cases are classified as incidental PNI (IPNI). However, some patients with PNI present with clinical symptoms and/or radiologic evidence of PNI. These cases are classified as clinical PNI (CPNI). A few studies have shown differences in disease-related outcomes between CSCC patients with IPNI and CPNI but consensus regarding adjuvant treatment and detailed guidelines on follow-up schedules have not yet materialized. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Dermatology, JAMA, University of Pennsylvania / 06.07.2017 Interview with: Mackenzie R. Wehner, MD, MPhil Department of Dermatology University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA What is the background for this study? Response: For some diseases, we have national registries, in which information about every person with that disease is entered for research purposes. For other diseases, unfortunately, we do not have such registries. There are growing opportunities to use information like internet searches to better understand behaviors and diseases, however. Our study was a proof-of-concept: we aimed to find out whether internet searches for diseases correlated with known incidence (how many people are diagnosed with the disease) and mortality (how many people die of the disease) rates. E.g. does the number of people who searched 'lung cancer' online correlate with the number of people who we know were diagnosed with or who died of lung cancer during that same time period? This is important to know if researchers in the future want to use internet search data for diseases where we lack registry information. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA / 06.07.2017 Interview with: Robb B. Rutledge, PhD Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research University College London London, England What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Depression is associated with deficits in how the brain responds to rewards, something the neurotransmitter dopamine is strongly implicated in. Dopamine represents what is called a reward prediction error, the difference between experienced and predicted reward. This error signal is used for learning. For example, if the outcome of a decision is better than expected, you can update your expectations using this error signal and you should expect more next time. Previous research has shown that depression reduces these signals in the brain when people are learning about the world around them. We designed a task where participants did not have to learn anything during the experiment and we found that in this situation reward prediction error signals were not affected by depression. The signals we measured in the ventral striatum, a brain area with a lot of input from the dopamine neurons, looked the same in depressed and non-depressed individuals. We also found that the emotional impacts of reward prediction errors were similar in depressed and non-depressed individuals when we eliminated the need for learning during the task in both the lab and using a smartphone experiment with 1833 participants. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Pediatrics / 06.07.2017 Interview with: Seetha Shankaran, M.D. Professor, Neonatology Wayne State University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The study was performed because infants with moderate or severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (abnormal neurological exam within 6 hours of birth due to lack of blood and oxygen supply to the brain at birth) have rates of death or survival with disability that were still high in spite of current intensive care including hypothermia. Whole-body hypothermia, cooling the infant for 72 hours at a depth of 33.5°C that was performed by the Neonatal Research Network funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development was the first trial of this therapy in the USA. We found that hypothermia therapy did decrease the rate of death or survival with disability from 62 to 44%. Since 44% is still high we wanted to see if longer cooling or deeper cooling or both would reduce this rate. This was a randomized controlled clinical trial to examine whether longer cooling or deeper cooling or both reduced the rate of death or survival with disability among full term neonates with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. The study lasted from October of 2010 to January 2016. 364 infants were enrolled. Neonates were randomly assigned to 4 groups of cooling therapy and the major findings were that neither longer cooling nor deeper cooling nor both were more superior to cooling for 72 hours at 33.5°C. Our results were surprising because at the time we planned this study there were reports from animal model studies that longer/deeper cooling were more protective to the brain. (more…)
Author Interviews, Electronic Records, JAMA, UCSF / 05.07.2017 Interview with: Neda Ratanawongsa, MD, MPH Associate Chief Health Informatics Officer for Ambulatory Services, San Francisco Health Network Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations Physician, Richard H. Fine People's Clinic (RHPC) Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital San Francisco, CA 94110 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: U.S. federal incentives allowed many safety net healthcare systems to afford fully functional electronic health record systems (EHRs). Although EHRs can help clinicians provide care to vulnerable populations, clinicians may struggle with managing the EHR workload, particularly in resource-limited settings. In addition, clinicians’ use of EHRs during clinic visits may affect how they communicate with patients. There are two forms of EHR use during clinic visits.  Clinicians can multitask, for example, by ordering laboratory tests while chatting with a patient about baseball.  However, like distracted driving, using EHRs while talking with increases risks – in this case, the risk of errors in patient-provider communication or in the EHR task. Alternatively, clinicians can use EHRs in complete silence, which may be appropriate for high-risk tasks like prescribing insulin. However, silence during visits has been associated with lower patient satisfaction and less patient-centered communication. So we studied how primary and specialty care clinicians used EHRs during visits with English- and Spanish-speaking patients in a safety net system with an EHR certified for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services meaningful use incentive programs. We found that multitasking EHR use was more common than silent EHR use (median of 30.5% vs. 4.6% of visit time). Focused patient-clinician talk comprised one-third of visit time. We also examined the transitions into and out of silent EHR use. Sometimes clinicians explicitly stated a need to focus on the EHR, but at times, clinicians drifted into silence without warning. Patients played a role in breaking silent EHR use, either by introducing small talk or by bringing up their health concerns. (more…)