Author Interviews, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, HIV, JAMA, NIH / 28.02.2015

Shyamasundaran Kottilil MBBS, PhD University of MarylandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Shyamasundaran Kottilil MBBS, PhD Division of Infectious Diseases, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, Baltimore Laboratory of Immunoregulation, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kottilil:  Due to shared routes of transmission, almost half of all HIV-infected patients also have HCV infection. Traditionally, interferon based therapies have resulted in lower cure rates of HCV in HIV-infected subjects. Treatment for HCV is rapidly changing from an injection (interferon) based therapy to oral well tolerated pill based therapy for a shorter duration.Our intention was to test whether a treatment regimen without the use of interferon and ribavirin can be effective in HIV/HCV infected patients. Our study demonstrated that HIV/HCV connected patients without cirrhosis can be effectively treated with ledipasvir and sofosbuvir in 12 weeks. Overall 98% of patients were cured. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology / 27.02.2015

Eric Crouch, MD, FAAO, FAAP, FACS Vice Chair, PEDIGAssociate Professor Department of Ophthalmology Eastern Virginia Medical School Assistant Professor Department of Pediatrics Eastern Virginia Medical School Chief of Ophthalmology Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters Norfolk, VirginiaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Eric Crouch, MD, FAAO, FAAP, FACS Vice Chair, PEDIGAssociate Professor Department of Ophthalmology Eastern Virginia Medical School Assistant Professor Department of Pediatrics Eastern Virginia Medical School Chief of Ophthalmology, Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters Norfolk, Virginia MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study?  Dr. Crouch: In this letter PEDIG is reporting on the improvement in vision during the run-in phase of a study in children 3 years of age to less than 8 years old.  During the run-in phase, the children were followed at 6 weeks intervals and served as the baseline for entering into a randomized trial for increasing the amount of patching. The patients were randomized to either 2 hours of prescribed patching or 6 hours of prescribed patching once they completed the run-in phase. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Crouch: For amblyopic children, even those who have moderate or severe amblyopia in the 20/100 - 20/400 range, clinicians can start treatment with patching two hours a day. (more…)
Author Interviews, Chemotherapy, JAMA, Leukemia, Neurological Disorders / 25.02.2015

William E. Evans, Pharm.D. Member, Pharmaceutical Sciences St. Jude Children’s Research HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: William E. Evans, Pharm.D. Member, Pharmaceutical Sciences St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Evans: We are currently curing over 85 percent of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common cancer in children. While we continue to focus on pushing cure rates closer to 100 percent through the development of new treatments, we are also increasingly focused on reducing the acute and chronic side effects of treatment. This is important to improve the quality of life for patients during treatment and as they become adults after being cured, because some side effects can persist for decades after treatment is completed. One of the medications that every child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia received 30-40 times during their 2+ years of treatment is vincristine. The major side effect of vincristine is peripheral neuropathy (about 25 percent of patients develop this side effect), which can cause loss of sensation, numbness, neuropathic pain and alter their motor skills including manual dexterity, balance and ability to walk properly. This can have very practical consequences, such as writing, using a smart phone, and the use of eating utensils. It can also alter their gait. Our main finding is we discovered that an inherited variant of the CEP72 gene enhanced the risk and severity of vincristine neuropathy in two groups of patients we studied. Those children who inherited two copies of the high-risk CEP72 gene (one from each parent, about 16 percent of patients) had a significantly higher likelihood (about 3.5-fold) of developing vincristine neuropathy and had a more severe form of neuropathy (about 2.5-fold higher severity). The CEP72 gene encodes a protein essential for normal microtubule formation in cells—a critical process for cell division. Vincristine inhibits this same cellular process. The inherited form of CEP72 that increases the risk and severity of vincristine neuropathy is associated with lower expression of the CEP72 protein. When coupled with vincristine treatment, CEP72 increases a cell’s sensitivity to vincristine. We were able to reproduce this in the laboratory by lowering CEP72 expression in human neurons made from induced pluripotent stem cells and in human leukemia cells, increasing the sensitivity of both to vincristine. We also showed that the leukemia cells from patients who inherited two copies of the CEP72 risk allele were more sensitive to vincristine, suggesting it may be possible to treat these patients with a lower dose of vincristine to reduce their neuropathy without compromising the treatment of their leukemia—a possibility we plan to test in our next clinical trial at St. Jude. (more…)
Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, JAMA, Sleep Disorders / 24.02.2015

Nick Franks FSB, FRCA, FMedSci, FRS Professor of Biophysics and Anaesthetics, Professor William Wisden, Chair in Molecular NeuroscienceMedicalResearch.com Interview Professor Nick Franks  Professor of Biophysics and Anaesthetics Professor William Wisden, Chair in Molecular Neuroscience Department of Life sciences Wolfson Laboratories, Imperial College, South Kensington London Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Profs. Franks and Wisden: We were interested in finding out how a particular type of sedative drug, dexmedetomidine, works in the brain. This drug is increasingly used during intensive care for sedation of patients, but unlike other powerful sedatives, it induces a state whereby the patient can be temporarily woken up. This is a highly useful property because it means patients can be both sedated and responsive during procedures. The drugged sedative state induced by dexmedetomidine struck us as being highly similar to the deep sleep that we all need to have if we have been extensively sleep deprived. If people and animals are kept awake for extended periods of time, they have to sleep. Most people know this from common experience - catching up on lost sleep. But how and why we need to sleep after sleep deprivation is not known. We found that dexmedetomidine-induced sedation and this recovery sleep used the same brain circuits, in a tiny area at the base of the brain called the preoptic hypothalamus. To do this we used a new genetic technique in mice that allowed us to mark or "tag" which neurons in the mouse’s brain were active during sedation or recovery sleep after sleep deprivation. The beauty of this technique is that we could then specifically reactivate these same neurons several days later with a special molecule that only binds to the tagged neurons. This reactivation caused the mice to go into a deep sleep. We concluded that the sedative drug dexmedetomidine copies or hijacks the mechanism used by the brain to respond to sleep deprivation and trigger deep sleep. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Lung Cancer, Mayo Clinic / 24.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David Mithun, M.D. Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Mithun: Lung cancer screening should be pursued for those people at highest risk who are otherwise in good enough health to be able to undergo curative intent treatment if cancer is found. The current criteria for screening recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force of age 55-80 years, 30 pack-years of smoking, and if quit, have done so within 15 years and are based on the National Lung Screening Study (NLST). Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Mithun: Our data was retrospective over a 28 year time period and showed that an increasing number of people who actually got cancer would not have been candidates for screening based on the current criteria.  This suggests there may be some degree of mismatch between risk as defined by the current criteria to screen and those who developed cancer.  An increasing number of those who would not have been candidates for screening yet got lung cancer were among those who quit smoking 15 years or longer. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Memory / 24.02.2015

Dr. Rebecca E. Amariglio Ph.D. Massachusetts Alzheimers Disease Research Center Massachusetts General HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Rebecca E. Amariglio Ph.D. Massachusetts Alzheimers Disease Research Center Massachusetts General Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Amariglio: As the field of Alzheimer’s disease moves towards early detection and treatment, new tests that can measure very subtle changes in cognitive functioning are needed. A new instrument developed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study that measures subjective report of memory changes of both the study participant and a study partner (usually a family member) was associated with cognitive decline over four years.  Specifically, greater report of memory concerns was associated with worse memory performance over time. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA / 24.02.2015

Jari Laukkanen Cardiologist, MD, PhD Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition University of Eastern Finland Kuopio, FinlandMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jari Laukkanen Cardiologist, MD, PhD Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition University of Eastern Finland Kuopio, Finland Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Laukkanen: We have been studying many risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the general population, and especially exploring protective factors of sudden cardiac death. In our qualified and well defined data on the KIHD prospective study, there were also many questionnaires about other health habits such as the use of sauna (how much, how often, temperature and so on). It was very logical to investigate further sauna use and the risk sudden cardiac death/CVDSs, because sauna is a part of our culture here in Finland. In this country, we have tradition to trust, that its healthy habit, although there are not previous studies showing the value of sauna in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. So we have to study this kind of health habit and CVVs in Finland based on our common traditions... (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Vanderbilt / 24.02.2015

Dr. Wei Zheng, MD, PhD Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TennesseeMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Wei Zheng, MD, PhD Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wei Zheng: Substantial progress has been made in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, resulting in a steady improvement in cancer survival. However, the degree of improvement by age, race and sex remains unclear. We quantified the differences in the improvement of cancer survival by race, age, and sex over the last two decades. We used cancer diagnosis and follow-up data from more than 1 million cancer patients, collected in nine SEER registries, to investigate trends in improved survival for seven major cancers in the United States by age, race, and sex between 1990 and 2010. We found that elderly patients experienced a smaller improvement in survival for cancers of the colon/rectum, breast, prostate, lung, and liver than their younger counterparts. In particular, the age-related disparities were most pronounced for those cancers with the greatest advancements in diagnosis and treatment over the past two decades, including cancers of colon/rectum, breast and prostate. African Americans experienced poorer survival than whites for all cancers. Because of a greater improvement in prostate cancer survival in African Americans than for whites, the racial difference in the survival of this cancer decreased during the study period. For ovarian cancer, however, the survival rate declined in African Americans but slightly increased in whites, leading to a wider racial gap in the survival of this deadly cancer. No apparent disparities in survival improvement by sex were noted. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Prostate Cancer, Radiation Therapy / 22.02.2015

Ann Caroline Raldow, M.D. Brigham and Women's Hospital Resident in Radiation OncologyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ann Caroline Raldow, M.D. Brigham and Women's Hospital Resident in Radiation Oncology Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Raldow: Active surveillance (AS) means monitoring the course of prostate cancer (PC) with the expectation to start treatment if the cancer progresses. Men who enter an AS program are able to defer and possibly avoid the side effects of prostate cancer treatment. According to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines, active surveillance is currently considered as an initial treatment approach for men with low-risk PC and a life expectancy of at least 10 years. However, no direct comparison has been made between favorable intermediate-risk and low-risk PC with regard to PC-specific mortality or all-cause mortality following treatment with high-dose radiation therapy such as brachytherapy, where radioactive seeds are placed inside the prostate to kill the cancer. We therefore assessed whether the risks of prostate cancer-specific mortality and all-cause mortality following brachytherapy were increased in men with favorable intermediate-risk versus low-risk prostate cancer. The study consisted of more than 5,000 men who were treated with brachytherapy at the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Chicago. After a median follow-up of 7.69 years, there were no significant differences in prostate cancer-specific mortality and all-cause mortality between men with low-risk and favorable intermediate-risk prostate cancer, suggesting that men with favorable intermediate-risk prostate may also be candidates for AS. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Prostate Cancer / 21.02.2015

Karim Chamie MD Department of Urology Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center UCLA Medical Center, Santa MonicaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karim Chamie MD Department of Urology Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:  Active surveillance has been shown to be safe and effective. There are multiple longitudinal studies that have demonstrated the safety of active surveillance for men with indolent prostate cancer. In this context, we sought out to determine national practice patterns for localized prostate cancer. Moreover, we wanted to identify patient, tumor, and physician factors that influence treatment decision. What we found was that the vast majority of patients undergo radiation therapy, regardless of patient age and health or severity of tumor. Instead, by far the most significant predictor of whether a patient undergoes radiation therapy is whether they have been referred to a radiation oncologist. On the other hand, surgeons significantly incorporate patient age and health and tumor severity when considering radical prostatectomy (surgery). (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA / 20.02.2015

Dr. Peter Forster PhD Fellow of Murray Edwards College and McDonald Institute at the University of CambridgeMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Peter Forster PhD Fellow of Murray Edwards College and McDonald Institute at the University of Cambridge   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?   Dr. Forster: As a result of our paternity testing work at the Institute for Forensic Genetics in Munster (Germany), we have accumulated a pool of over 24,000 parents and their children, of whom we know for certain that they are biologically related. Occasionally we observe a new mutation in these children, which must have come either from the sperm or the egg of one of the parents. As we analyse highly variable microsatellite DNA (a repetitive type of DNA, also know as STR DNA, which stands for "short tandem repeat" DNA), we can fairly easily find out whether the mutation has come from the mother or the father. It turns out that the fathers contribute 6-7 times more mutations to the children than the mothers do. This has long been known. What is new is that we have observed that the male and female teenagers at puberty do NOT set out with the same low mutation load, but instead, the teenage boys already have a sixfold higher mutation load in their sperm than the girls in their oocytes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Duke, JAMA, Radiation Therapy, Thyroid / 19.02.2015

Sanziana Roman MD FACS Professor of Surgery Duke University  Section of Endocrine Surgery Director of the Endocrine Surgery Fellows and Scholars Program Duke University School of Medicine Chief, General Surgery and Associate Chief of Surgery for Clinical Affairs, DVAMCMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Sanziana Roman MD FACS Professor of Surgery Duke University Section of Endocrine Surgery Director of the Endocrine Surgery Fellows and Scholars Program Duke University School of Medicine Chief, General Surgery and Associate Chief of Surgery for Clinical Affairs, DVAMC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Roman: Adjuvant radioactive iodine (RAI) is commonly used in the management of differentiated thyroid cancer. The main goals of adjuvant RAI therapy are to ablate remnant thyroid tissue in order to facilitate long-term follow-up of patients, decrease the risk of recurrence, or treat persistent and metastatic lesions. On the other hand, Adjuvant radioactive iodine ( therapy is expensive, with an average cost per patient ranging between $5,429.58 and $9,105.67. It also carries the burden of several potential complications, including loss of taste, nausea, stomatitis with ulcers, acute and/or chronic sialoadenitis, salivary duct obstruction, dental caries, tooth loss, epiphora, anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, acute radiation pneumonitis, pulmonary fibrosis, male infertility, and radiation-induced malignancies. Therefore, Adjuvant radioactive iodine ( should be used only for appropriately selected patients, for whom the benefits would outweigh the risks. Based on current guidelines, adjuvant RAI is not recommended for patients with papillary thyroid cancers confined to the thyroid gland when all foci are ≤1 cm (papillary thyroid microcarcinoma, or PTMC). Similarly, Adjuvant radioactive iodine ( does not have a role in the treatment of medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Given the fact that variation in treatments exist, our goal was to analyze patterns of inappropriate adjuvant RAI use in the U.S. in order to identify potential misuses leading to an increase of costs for the healthcare system and unnecessary patients’ exposure to risks of complications. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Karolinski Institute / 18.02.2015

Karolina Szummer, MD, PhD Section of Cardiology, Department of Medicine Karolinska Institutet Karolinska University Hospital Stockholm, Sweden MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Karolina Szummer, MD, PhD Section of Cardiology, Department of Medicine Karolinska Institutet Karolinska University Hospital Stockholm, Sweden Please note: This work is comparing the anticoagulant fondaparinux with low-molecular-weight heparin (not heparin). Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Szummer: Since the publication of the OASIS-5 trial in 2006, many hospitals chose to change their medical practice and start using fondaparinux instead of low-molecular-weight heparin in the treatment of myocardial infarctions. In this study from the nation-wide near-complete myocardial infarction registry we were able to follow how the use of fondaparinux instead of low-molecular-weight heparin translated in clinical life was associated to a reduction in bleeding events and death. It is a very satisfying study, that confirms that the randomized clinical trial results are transferred with improvements in outcome to the treated patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mayo Clinic, Smoking / 17.02.2015

Jon Ebbert, M.D. Associate director for research Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jon Ebbert, M.D. Associate director for research Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ebbert: Some cigarette smokers prefer to reduce the number cigarettes that they smoke before quitting smoking completely. Previous studies have evaluated the use of nicotine replacement therapy and one smaller study looked at varenicline to help smokers quit through smoking reduction. We wanted to conduct a larger study with varenicline using a longer duration of treatment. We enrolled cigarette smokers who had no intention of quitting in the next month but who were willing to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked while working toward a quit attempt in the next 3 months. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma / 17.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Caroline Watts| PhD Candidate Cancer Epidemiology and Services Research | Sydney School of Public Health The University of Sydney MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A clinic for people at high risk of melanoma was established at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney in 2006 to look at the impact of surveillance regime which included regular full body skin examination supported by dermoscopy and total body photography at 6 monthly intervals. If a suspicious lesion was identified, the lesion was either removed or sequential digital dermoscopy was performed and the patient returned in 3 months for review. This study aimed to estimate the costs associated with surveillance in this type of specilaised clinic. The mean number of clinic visits per year was 2.7 (95% CI, 2.5-2.8) for surveillance and 3.8 (95% CI, 3.4-4.1) for patients requiring surgical excisions. The mean annual cost per patient to the health system was A $882 (95% CI, A $783-$982) (US $599 [95% CI, US $532-$665]) and mean annual societal cost per patient (excluding health system costs) was A $972 (95% CI, A $899-$1045) (US $660 [95% CI, US $611-$710). Diagnosis of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer and frequent excisions for benign lesions in a relatively small number of patients was responsible for skewed health system costs. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Sleep Disorders / 16.02.2015

David S. Black, Ph.D., M.P.H. Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine Keck School of Medicine of USC.MedicalResearch.com Interview with: David S. Black, Ph.D., M.P.H. Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine Keck School of Medicine of USC. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Black: Sleep disturbances pose a significant medical and public health concern for our nation’s aging population. An estimated 50% of people aged 55 years and older suffer from some form of sleep problem, including initiating and maintaining sleep. Sleep can be affected by a number of things. There are obvious factors like disturbances, dealing with insomnia or any form of aches and pains. But there is also one that many people have probably not considered. Traffic noise. Just like the factors listed previously, there is always a solution to a problem. There isn't anything that cannot be fixed. If you are someone that is having trouble sleeping due to the high level of traffic noises around your area, it may be best to look into a site like soundproofpanda.com to find a solution that can help reduce this issue and eventually provide you with a good's night sleep. Older adults report the highest prevalence of sleep problems compared to younger age groups when quantified by both self-report and biological assessment. Moderate sleep complaints in older adults are often associated with deficits in daytime functioning, including elevated levels of fatigue, disturbed mood such as depressive symptoms and reduced quality of life, and lead to the onset of clinical insomnia. Addressing moderate sleep complaints and sleep-related daytime dysfunction using community-accessible programs is a promising public health approach. Our main findings indicate that the mindfulness training program, which is available to the general community, resulted in improvement in sleep quality at post-intervention relative to a highly active and standardized sleep hygiene education program. Effect size for improvement in sleep quality was large (0.89) and of clinical relevance considering that effect sizes obtained from all types of behavioral interventions on self-reported sleep quality outcomes averages 0.76 in older adults. Meta-analyses comparing treatment modalities indicate that the mean effect size for self-reported sleep improvements resulting from pharmacotherapy (0.87) (i.e., benzodiazepines, benzodiazepine receptor agonists) and behavioral therapy (0.96) are of medium-to-large magnitude in mixed-age adult samples with primary insomnia. Thus, our observed changes are consistent with previous studies and are at the level of a minimally important difference for insomnia severity. The mindfulness program also yielded relative improvements on sleep-related daytime impairments of depression and fatigue symptoms that were of medium-to-large effect size. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, University of Pennsylvania / 13.02.2015

Ezekiel Jonathan Emanuel MD PhD Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy Perelman School of Medicine and Department of Health Care Management The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PAMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ezekiel Jonathan Emanuel MD PhD Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy Perelman School of Medicine and Department of Health Care Management The Wharton School University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA Editor’s note: Dr. Emanuel is a medical oncologist as well as director of the department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Emanuel was kind enough to answer several questions regarding his most recent study, published in the new JAMA Oncology journal, Patient Demands and Requests for Cancer Tests and Treatments. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Emanuel: The genesis for this study is twofold. One, the first referenced article, by John Tilbert1 discussed how physicians explain US health care costs. In this study, physicians felt patients, insurance companies, drug companies, government regulations and malpractice lawyers...all were more to blame than doctors themselves for the high cost of US health care. Secondly, I give lots of presentations to doctors who offer two explanations for escalating health care costs: fear of malpractice litigation, and demanding patients, who request extensive testing and drugs. We decided to see whether the impression doctors frequently held of patients’ demands driving up health care costs, had been previously investigated. We could find no article to substantiate this belief. In addition, demanding patients were not common in my medical experience. In our study we included 5050 patient encounters. We asked the clinician coming out of the encounter, did the patient make a demand or request? (By asking immediately after the doctor left the examination room, there was little risk of inaccurate recall of the specifics of visit). In 8.7% there was a patient request and of these, over 70% were deemed clinically appropriate as determined by the physician (i.e. a request for pain medication, palliative care or imaging to address a new symptom or finding). In only 1% of all encounters (50/5050) was a clinically inappropriate request made as determined by the doctor, and the doctors hardly filled any of these inappropriate requests (total of 7 of 5050 encounters). We concluded that it is pretty rare for patients to make demands or requests, at least in this oncology setting, and even less common for the demands to be complied with by the doctor. Therefore it seems unlikely to us that health care costs are significantly driven by inappropriate patient requests. It is possible that there are more or different patient demands in other health care settings but we were very surprised to find no difference in patient requests based on patient-income, i.e. wealthier, more educated patients made no more demands than patients of lesser means. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, UCSF / 12.02.2015

Carol Mathews UCSF Professor, Psychiatry UCSF School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carol Mathews Professor, Psychiatry UCSF School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mathews: The background for this study is that, as a part of ongoing genetic studies of Tourette Syndrome, the Tourette Syndrome Association International Genetics Collaborative (TSAICG) has collected a wealth of information about commonly co-occurring psychiatric disorders in individuals with Tourette Syndrome and their families, providing us with an opportunity to explore questions about Tourette Syndrome that are relevant to individuals with Tourette Syndrome, their families, and their treating clinicians. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA, MD Anderson, Outcomes & Safety / 12.02.2015

Kenneth L. Kehl, MD Division of Cancer Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, TexasMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kenneth L. Kehl, MD Division of Cancer Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston, Texas Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prior studies have demonstrated that most patients with cancer wish to participate in their treatment decisions.  We studied a cohort of patients with lung or colorectal cancer and assessed whether patient involvement in decision-making was associated with perceived quality of care or ratings of physician communication.  We found that patients who described a more shared decision-making process gave higher ratings of their care quality and physician communication.  This effect was independent of patients' stated preferences regarding involvement in decision-making. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 12.02.2015

Elizabeth Walker, PhD, MPH, MAT FIRST Postdoctoral Fellow Center for Behavioral Health Policy Studies Rollins School of Public Health, Emory UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Elizabeth Walker, PhD, MPH, MAT FIRST Postdoctoral Fellow Center for Behavioral Health Policy Studies Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Mental disorders are a major cause of disability globally and are associated with premature mortality.  Quantifying and understanding excess mortality among people with mental disorders can inform approaches for reducing this burden.  The purpose of this study was to systematically review the literature in order to estimate individual- and population-level mortality rates associated with mental disorders.  We conducted a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis, which included 203 studies from 29 countries. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We estimated that 8 million deaths worldwide per year are attributable to mental disorders.  People with mental disorders have over 2 times the risk of mortality compared to the general population or people without mental disorders.  This translates to a median of 10 years of life lost.  In total, 67.3% of people with mental disorders died from natural causes, 17.5% from unnatural causes, and the remainder from unknown causes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA / 11.02.2015

Omar A. Ibrahimi, M.D., Ph.D Connecticut Skin Institute Founding Medical Director Stamford, CT 06905MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Omar A. Ibrahimi, M.D., Ph.D Connecticut Skin Institute Founding Medical Director Stamford, CT 06905 www.ctskindoc.com Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ibrahimi: The delivery of healthcare in a efficient and cost effective fashion is one of the largest themes in medicine today. Malpractice lawsuits have steadily increased with the cost of healthcare delivery. Mohs surgery involves the surgical removal, the tissue analysis and the reconstruction of a skin cancer all in a single visit that bundles multiple procedures in a cost effective manner that is proposed to be the gold standard for treating certain skin cancers. Information regarding malpractice involving Mohs surgery is lacking. The only previous study that has been done was a survey of Mohs surgeons looking at how many had been involved in lawsuits and the reasons for being involved. Our study examined a legal database to identify all the lawsuits involving Mohs surgery and skin cancer. We were surprised to find that the majority of lawsuits involved non-Mohs surgeons as the primary defendant, mostly due to a delay of or failure in diagnosis, cosmetic outcome issues, lack of informed consent, and a delay of or failure in referral to a Mohs surgeon. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Diabetes, JAMA / 10.02.2015

Prof. KAZEM RAHIMI | DM MSc FESC Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford Deputy Director, The George Institute for Global Health James Martin Fellow in Healthcare Innovation, Oxford Martin School Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust The George Institute for Global Health Oxford Martin School | University of Oxford Oxford United KingdomMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof. Kazem Rahimi  DM MSc FESC Associate Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford ;Deputy Director, The George Institute for Global Health; James Martin Fellow in Healthcare Innovation, Oxford Martin School; Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust The George Institute for Global Health Oxford Martin School United Kingdom Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rahimi: Lowering blood pressure (BP) in individuals with diabetes is an area of current controversy. Although it is widely accepted that lowering blood pressure in people with diabetes and elevated blood pressure will reduce the risk of heart and circulatory problems, it is less certain whether diabetics whose blood pressure is not very high should be treated with blood pressure lowering drugs, and how far their blood pressure should be reduced. It is also less well known how blood pressure lowering affects a range of other potential health complications for diabetes patients, such as diabetic eye disease. We found that each 10-mm Hg lower systolic blood pressure led to a lower risk of mortality, cardiovascular disease events, coronary heart disease events, stroke, albuminuria (the presence of excessive protein in the urine), and retinopathy (loss of vision related to diabetes). Although proportional effects of blood pressure lowering treatment for most outcomes studied were diminished below a systolic BP level of 140 mm Hg, data indicated that further reduction below 140 mm Hg led to a lower risk of stroke, retinopathy, and albuminuria, potentially leading to net benefits for many individuals at high risk for those outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Personalized Medicine / 09.02.2015

Andres Moreno De Luca, MD Investigator and Resident Physician Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute Department of Radiology Geisinger Health System Danville, PA 17822MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Andres Moreno De Luca, MD Investigator and Resident Physician Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute Department of Radiology Geisinger Health System Danville, PA 17822   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The main finding of our study is that family background contributes to the variability in cognitive, behavioral, and motor performance seen in children with 16p11.2 deletions, and perhaps other genetic syndromes, and this may be attributed in part to genetic background effects. In the general population the best predictor of a child’s outcomes in traits such as cognitive ability, height, BMI, etc. is the biparental mean performance in such domains and this is due in part to genetic background. For example, if a child’s parents have IQ scores of 130 and 110, it is expected that the child will have an IQ within 2 standard deviations of 120 (bi-parental mean). However, when studying individuals with genetic conditions, most researchers tend to overlook the influence of familial/genetic background on the affected child’s outcomes and commonly attribute the manifestations (or lack thereof) to the genetic mutation alone. This creates confusion when studying children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, which show significant clinical variability, as some children with a specific genetic mutation (e.g. deletion 16p11.2) may have intellectual disability without autism, while other children with the same mutation may have autism without intellectual disability. Based on these observations, some researchers have argued that deletion 16p11.2 is incompletely penetrant. However, our study showed that the 16p11.2 deletion has a detrimental effect on cognitive and behavioral performance for all children, but the clinical status (affected vs. unaffected) and ultimate performance level is influenced by the parental performance. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Surgical Research, Weight Research / 09.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Torsten Olbers MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Surgery Sahlgrenska University Hospital Gothenburg, Sweden Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Olbers: Until now there has been no consensus regarding preferred bariatric procedure for patients with a body mass index (BMI) above 50 kg/m2. We report on the 5-year outcomes from a randomized clinical trial of gastric bypass and duodenal switch published online by JAMA Surgery on February 4th. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, OBGYNE, UC Davis / 05.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Eleanor B. Schwarz, M.D., M.S University of California, Davis Sacramento, CA MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Schwarz: The background for this study is that… Women treated with Isotretinoin receive a lot of scary information about this medication’s risk of causing birth defects, but few receive clear information on the most effective ways to protect themselves from undesired pregnancy and the risks of medication-induced birth defects. Our main finding is that women who spent less than a minute reviewing a simple information sheet were significantly more likely to be aware that some contraceptives are considerably more effective than others. MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Schwarz: Clinicians who prescribe medications that can cause birth defects should make sure their patients are aware of the fact that women using a birth control pill are typically twenty times more likely to experience a contraceptive failure than those using a subdermal contraceptive implant (e.g. Nexplanon) or intrauterine contraceptive (e.g. Mirena, ParaGard). (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA / 04.02.2015

John Holcomb, M.D. Principal investigator, Retired U.S. Army Surgeon Director of the Division of Acute Care Surgery The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston  UTHealth Medical SchoolMedicalResearch.com Interview with John Holcomb, M.D. Principal investigator, Retired U.S. Army Surgeon Director of the Division of Acute Care Surgery The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston UTHealth Medical School MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Holcomb: This study is the result of two decades of work by literally hundreds of investigators. It started as an observation in 1993 in Somalia that whole blood was a superior resuscitation product in casualties that were bleeding to death. Unfortunately, whole blood is not widely available, and 1:1:1 is the closest we can get at this time. After many studies from the battlefield, and even more in the civilian area, we have now published a randomized study documenting that 1:1:1 is a superior transfusion strategy, safe and helps prevent patients from bleeding to death. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Holcomb: The 1:1:1 resuscitation strategy significantly decreased the rate of bleeding to death, and there were no increased complications between groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hospital Readmissions, JAMA, Surgical Research / 03.02.2015

Dr. Ryan Merkow, M.D. M.S. American College of Surgeons Chicago, IllinoisMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Ryan Merkow, M.D. M.S. American College of Surgeons Chicago, Illinois     MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Merkow: The measurement of hospital readmissions has become an important quality and cost-containment metric. Hospitals, policy makers, and individual practitioners are closely tracking readmissions. For the past decade the focus has been primarily on three medical conditions (pneumonia, heart failure and myocardial infarction) and although controversial, many thought leaders and policy makers believed that readmissions were preventable, and stemmed from poor transition of care, outpatient follow up or simply a failure of the medical system to appropriately care for these patients. Recently, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has become increasingly interested in using readmissions as a quality measure and is now mandated by the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program to track hospital-wide readmissions (including all surgical patients), and for the first time, after individual surgical procedures (i.e., total hip and knee replacement). Future inclusion of additional surgical procedures is anticipated. However, despite the growing focus on readmissions after surgery, there have been few studies comprehensively evaluating the underlying reasons and factors associated with readmissions after surgical hospitalizations. Furthermore, the relationship between readmissions and complications that occur during the initial hospitalization after surgery is not clearly established. Importantly, unlike medical conditions, surgical patients undergo a discrete invasive event with known risks of complications. By studying this topic, initiatives to decrease readmissions can be more precisely determined, and national policy decisions that are now targeting readmissions can be appropriately formulated. The primary findings of our study identified surgical site infections as the most frequent reason that patients are readmitted after surgery, Importantly, in >95% of patients this complication was new, occurring after they left the hospital. The other common reason for readmission was obstruction or ileus, which was the second most frequent reason for readmission, particularly after abdominal surgery. Overall, the vast majority of readmissions were the result of new postdischarge, postoperative complications. With respect to factors associated with readmissions, most of the variation was due to differences in patient factors, such as ASA class, renal failure, ascites and/or steroid use. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety, University of Michigan / 03.02.2015

Nicholas Osborne, M.D., M.S Vascular Surgery Fellow University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Dr. Osborne: The American College of Surgeons launched the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS-NSQIP) in the early 2000s. This program collects and reports surgical outcomes to participating hospitals. One retrospective study of participating hospitals in the ACS-NSQIP reported improvements in risk-adjusted outcomes with participation. This study, however, did not compare ACS-NSQIP hospitals to control hospitals. The purpose of our study was to compare ACS-NSQIP to similar non-participating hospitals over time and determine whether participation in the ACS-NSQIP was associated with improved outcomes. MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Dr. Osborne: When comparing hospitals participating in a national quality reporting program (ACS-NSQIP) to similar hospitals, there is no appreciable improvement in outcomes (mortality, morbidity, readmissions or cost)  outside of pre-existing trends across all hospitals. In other words, Hospitals nationwide were improving over this same time period and ACS-NSQIP hospitals did not improve above and beyond these existing trends. (more…)