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International Survey Of Older Adults Finds Shortcomings In Access, Coordination, And Patient-Centered Care

November 20, 2014 Comments off

International Survey Of Older Adults Finds Shortcomings In Access, Coordination, And Patient-Centered Care
Source: Health Affairs

Industrialized nations face the common challenge of caring for aging populations, with rising rates of chronic disease and disability. Our 2014 computer-assisted telephone survey of the health and care experiences among 15,617 adults age sixty-five or older in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States has found that US older adults were sicker than their counterparts abroad. Out-of-pocket expenses posed greater problems in the United States than elsewhere. Accessing primary care and avoiding the emergency department tended to be more difficult in the United States, Canada, and Sweden than in other surveyed countries. One-fifth or more of older adults reported receiving uncoordinated care in all countries except France. US respondents were among the most likely to have discussed health-promoting behaviors with a clinician, to have a chronic care plan tailored to their daily life, and to have engaged in end-of-life care planning. Finally, in half of the countries, one-fifth or more of chronically ill adults were caregivers themselves.

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Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head (cell phone use)

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head (PDF)
Source: Surgical Technology International

Billions of people are using cell phone devices on the planet, essentially in poor posture. The purpose of this study is to assess the forces incrementally seen by the cervical spine as the head is teilted forward, into worsening posture. This data is also necessary for cervical spine surgens to understand in the reconstruction of the neck.

High-Cost Generic Drugs — Implications for Patients and Policymakers

November 18, 2014 Comments off

High-Cost Generic Drugs — Implications for Patients and Policymakers
Source: New England Journal of Medicine

It is well known that new brand-name drugs are often expensive, but U.S. health care is also witnessing a lesser-known but growing and seemingly paradoxical phenomenon: certain older drugs, many of which are generic and not protected by patents or market exclusivity, are now also extremely expensive. Take the case of albendazole, a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication. Albendazole was first marketed by a corporate predecessor to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) outside the United States in 1982 and was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996. Its patents have long since expired, but no manufacturer ever sought FDA approval for a generic version. One reason may be that the primary indications for the drug — intestinal parasites, neurocysticercosis, and hydatid disease — occur relatively rarely in the United States and usually only in disadvantaged populations such as immigrants and refugees. In late 2010, the listed average wholesale price (AWP) for albendazole was $5.92 per typical daily dose in the United States and less than $1 per typical daily dose overseas.

By 2013, the listed AWP for albendazole had increased to $119.58 per typical daily dose.1 We found that at some pharmacies in Minnesota, an uninsured patient requiring 6 months of treatment would have faced costs amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.1 Although the AWP may not reflect the actual cost of the product, Medicaid data show that spending on albendazole increased from less than $100,000 per year in 2008, when the average cost was $36.10 per prescription, to more than $7.5 million in 2013, when the average cost was $241.30 per prescription (see graph).

The albendazole story is not unique. According to the National Average Drug Acquisition Cost pricing file, the price of captopril (12.5 mg), which is used for hypertension and heart failure, increased by more than 2800% between November 2012 and November 2013, from 1.4 cents to 39.9 cents per pill. Similarly, the price of clomipramine (25 mg), a long-established tricyclic antidepressant also used for obsessive–compulsive disorder, increased from 22 cents to $8.32 per pill, and the price of doxycycline hyclate (100 mg), a broad-spectrum antibiotic that has been around since 1967, increased from 6.3 cents to $3.36 per pill.2

Yet many of these drugs remain key therapeutic tools. The number of prescriptions for albendazole has increased dramatically, in part because the drug has increasingly been used to treat parasitic infections in refugees. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends presumptive treatment of refugees arriving in the United States if they have not had prior treatment. Because the people who need albendazole are generally disadvantaged, the costs resulting from the enhanced demand and associated price increases are largely borne by the patients themselves through substantial out-of-pocket payments or by taxpayers through public insurers such as Medicaid and the Refugee Medical Assistance program.

Nature Index 2014 Global

November 18, 2014 Comments off

Nature Index 2014 Global
Source: Nature

The Nature Index 2014 Global supplement provides a snapshot of results from the new Nature Index, comparing the countries and institutions around the world that contributed to some of the highest quality research during the previous calendar year. The supplement provides analysis based on national news about science policy and funding backed by data from the Nature Index on subject strengths and research output.

The Use of Google Trends in Health Care Research: A Systematic Review

November 17, 2014 Comments off

The Use of Google Trends in Health Care Research: A Systematic Review
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Google Trends is a novel, freely accessible tool that allows users to interact with Internet search data, which may provide deep insights into population behavior and health-related phenomena. However, there is limited knowledge about its potential uses and limitations. We therefore systematically reviewed health care literature using Google Trends to classify articles by topic and study aim; evaluate the methodology and validation of the tool; and address limitations for its use in research.

Methods and Findings
PRISMA guidelines were followed. Two independent reviewers systematically identified studies utilizing Google Trends for health care research from MEDLINE and PubMed. Seventy studies met our inclusion criteria. Google Trends publications increased seven-fold from 2009 to 2013. Studies were classified into four topic domains: infectious disease (27% of articles), mental health and substance use (24%), other non-communicable diseases (16%), and general population behavior (33%). By use, 27% of articles utilized Google Trends for casual inference, 39% for description, and 34% for surveillance. Among surveillance studies, 92% were validated against a reference standard data source, and 80% of studies using correlation had a correlation statistic ≥0.70. Overall, 67% of articles provided a rationale for their search input. However, only 7% of articles were reproducible based on complete documentation of search strategy. We present a checklist to facilitate appropriate methodological documentation for future studies. A limitation of the study is the challenge of classifying heterogeneous studies utilizing a novel data source.

Conclusion
Google Trends is being used to study health phenomena in a variety of topic domains in myriad ways. However, poor documentation of methods precludes the reproducibility of the findings. Such documentation would enable other researchers to determine the consistency of results provided by Google Trends for a well-specified query over time. Furthermore, greater transparency can improve its reliability as a research tool.

What’s on TV? Detecting age-related neurodegenerative eye disease using eye movement scanpaths

November 16, 2014 Comments off

What’s on TV? Detecting age-related neurodegenerative eye disease using eye movement scanpaths
Source: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience

Purpose:
We test the hypothesis that age-related neurodegenerative eye disease can be detected by examining patterns of eye movement recorded whilst a person naturally watches a movie.

Methods:
Thirty-two elderly people with healthy vision (median age: 70, interquartile range [IQR] 64–75 years) and 44 patients with a clinical diagnosis of glaucoma (median age: 69, IQR 63–77 years) had standard vision examinations including automated perimetry. Disease severity was measured using a standard clinical measure (visual field mean deviation; MD). All study participants viewed three unmodified TV and film clips on a computer set up incorporating the Eyelink 1000 eyetracker (SR Research, Ontario, Canada). Eye movement scanpaths were plotted using novel methods that first filtered the data and then generated saccade density maps. Maps were then subjected to a feature extraction analysis using kernel principal component analysis (KPCA). Features from the KPCA were then classified using a standard machine based classifier trained and tested by a 10-fold cross validation which was repeated 100 times to estimate the confidence interval (CI) of classification sensitivity and specificity.

Results:
Patients had a range of disease severity from early to advanced (median [IQR] right eye and left eye MD was −7 [−13 to −5] dB and −9 [−15 to −4] dB, respectively). Average sensitivity for correctly identifying a glaucoma patient at a fixed specificity of 90% was 79% (95% CI: 58–86%). The area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic curve was 0.84 (95% CI: 0.82–0.87).

Conclusions:
Huge data from scanpaths of eye movements recorded whilst people freely watch TV type films can be processed into maps that contain a signature of vision loss. In this proof of principle study we have demonstrated that a group of patients with age-related neurodegenerative eye disease can be reasonably well separated from a group of healthy peers by considering these eye movement signatures alone.

Agricultural stakeholder views on climate change: Implications for conducting research and outreach

November 15, 2014 Comments off

Agricultural stakeholder views on climate change: Implications for conducting research and outreach (PDF)
Source: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

Understanding U.S. agricultural stakeholder views about the existence of climate change and its causes is central to developing interventions in support of adaptation and mitigation. Results from surveys conducted with six Midwestern stakeholder groups (corn producers, agricultural advisors, climatologists, Extension educators, and two different cross-disciplinary teams of scientists funded by USDA-NIFA) reveal striking differences. Individuals representing these groups were asked in 2011-2012 to “select the statement that best reflects your beliefs about climate change.” Three of five answer options included the notion that climate change is occurring but for different reasons (mostly human activities; mostly natural; more or less equally by natural and human activities). The last two options were “there is not sufficient evidence to know with certainty whether climate change is occurring or not” and “climate change is not occurring.” Results reveal that agricultural and climate scientists are more likely to believe that 30 climate change is mostly due to human activities (50 to 67%) than farmers and advisors (8 – 12%). Almost a quarter of farmers and agricultural advisors believe the source of climate change is mostly natural causes; and 22-31% state there is not sufficient evidence to know with certainty whether it is occurring or not. This discrepancy in beliefs creates challenges for communicating climate science to agricultural stakeholders in ways that encourage adaptation and mitigation. Results suggest that engagement strategies that reduce threats to worldviews and increase public 36 dialogue could make climate information more relevant to stakeholder groups with different belief structures.

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