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Excess Burden of Depression among HIV-Infected Persons Receiving Medical Care in the United States: Data from the Medical Monitoring Project and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Excess Burden of Depression among HIV-Infected Persons Receiving Medical Care in the United States: Data from the Medical Monitoring Project and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
With increased life expectancy for HIV-infected persons, there is concern regarding comorbid depression because of its common occurrence and association with behaviors that may facilitate HIV transmission. Our objectives were to estimate the prevalence of current depression among HIV-infected persons receiving care and assess the burden of major depression, relative to that in the general population.

Methods and Findings
We used data from the Medical Monitoring Project (MMP) and the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS). The eight-item Patient Health Questionnaire was used to identify depression. To assess the burden of major depression among HIV-infected persons receiving care, we compared the prevalence of current major depression between the MMP and BRFSS populations using stratified analyses that simultaneously controlled for gender and, in turn, each of the potentially confounding demographic factors of age, race/ethnicity, education, and income. Each unadjusted comparison was summarized as a prevalence ratio (PR), and each of the adjusted comparisons was summarized as a standardized prevalence ratio (SPR). Among HIV-infected persons receiving care, the prevalence of a current episode of major depression and other depression, respectively, was 12.4% (95% CI: 11.2, 13.7) and 13.2% (95% CI: 12.0%, 14.4%). Overall, the PR comparing the prevalence of current major depression between HIV-infected persons receiving care and the general population was 3.1. When controlling for gender and each of the factors age, race/ethnicity, and education, the SPR (3.3, 3.0, and 2.9, respectively) was similar to the PR. However, when controlling for gender and annual household income, the SPR decreased to 1.5.

Conclusions
Depression remains a common comorbidity among HIV-infected persons. The overall excess burden among HIV-infected persons receiving care is about three-times that among the general population and is associated with differences in annual household income between the two populations. Relevant efforts are needed to reduce this burden.

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The Voice of Emotion across Species: How Do Human Listeners Recognize Animals’ Affective States?

April 14, 2014 Comments off

The Voice of Emotion across Species: How Do Human Listeners Recognize Animals’ Affective States?
Source: PLoS ONE

Voice-induced cross-taxa emotional recognition is the ability to understand the emotional state of another species based on its voice. In the past, induced affective states, experience-dependent higher cognitive processes or cross-taxa universal acoustic coding and processing mechanisms have been discussed to underlie this ability in humans. The present study sets out to distinguish the influence of familiarity and phylogeny on voice-induced cross-taxa emotional perception in humans. For the first time, two perspectives are taken into account: the self- (i.e. emotional valence induced in the listener) versus the others-perspective (i.e. correct recognition of the emotional valence of the recording context). Twenty-eight male participants listened to 192 vocalizations of four different species (human infant, dog, chimpanzee and tree shrew). Stimuli were recorded either in an agonistic (negative emotional valence) or affiliative (positive emotional valence) context. Participants rated the emotional valence of the stimuli adopting self- and others-perspective by using a 5-point version of the Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM). Familiarity was assessed based on subjective rating, objective labelling of the respective stimuli and interaction time with the respective species. Participants reliably recognized the emotional valence of human voices, whereas the results for animal voices were mixed. The correct classification of animal voices depended on the listener’s familiarity with the species and the call type/recording context, whereas there was less influence of induced emotional states and phylogeny. Our results provide first evidence that explicit voice-induced cross-taxa emotional recognition in humans is shaped more by experience-dependent cognitive mechanisms than by induced affective states or cross-taxa universal acoustic coding and processing mechanisms.

Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Is Violent Radicalisation Associated with Poverty, Migration, Poor Self-Reported Health and Common Mental Disorders?
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Doctors, lawyers and criminal justice agencies need methods to assess vulnerability to violent radicalization. In synergy, public health interventions aim to prevent the emergence of risk behaviours as well as prevent and treat new illness events. This paper describes a new method of assessing vulnerability to violent radicalization, and then investigates the role of previously reported causes, including poor self-reported health, anxiety and depression, adverse life events, poverty, and migration and socio-political factors. The aim is to identify foci for preventive intervention.

Methods
A cross-sectional survey of a representative population sample of men and women aged 18–45, of Muslim heritage and recruited by quota sampling by age, gender, working status, in two English cities. The main outcomes include self-reported health, symptoms of anxiety and depression (common mental disorders), and vulnerability to violent radicalization assessed by sympathies for violent protest and terrorist acts.

Results
2.4% of people showed some sympathy for violent protest and terrorist acts. Sympathy was more likely to be articulated by the under 20s, those in full time education rather than employment, those born in the UK, those speaking English at home, and high earners (>£75,000 a year). People with poor self-reported health were less likely to show sympathies for violent protest and terrorism. Anxiety and depressive symptoms, adverse life events and socio-political attitudes showed no associations.

Conclusions
Sympathies for violent protest and terrorism were uncommon among men and women, aged 18–45, of Muslim heritage living in two English cities. Youth, wealth, and being in education rather than employment were risk factors.

Timing and Intensity of Light Correlate with Body Weight in Adults

April 9, 2014 Comments off

Timing and Intensity of Light Correlate with Body Weight in Adults
Source: PLoS ONE

Light exposure can influence sleep and circadian timing, both of which have been shown to influence weight regulation. The goal of this study was to evaluate the relationship between ambient light, sleep and body mass index. Participants included 54 individuals (26 males, mean age 30.6, SD = 11.7 years). Light levels, sleep midpoint and duration were measured with wrist actigraphy (Actiwatch-L) for 7 days. BMI was derived from self-reported height and weight. Caloric intake was determined from 7 days of food logs. For each participant, light and activity data were output in 2 minute epochs, smoothed using a 5 point (10 minute) moving average and then aggregated over 24 hours. The mean light timing above 500 lux (MLiT500) was defined as the average clock time of all aggregated data points above 500 lux. MLiT500 was positively correlated with BMI (r = 0.51, p<0.001), and midpoint of sleep (r = 0.47, p<0.01). In a multivariable linear regression model including MLiT500 and midpoint of sleep, MLiT500 was a significant predictor of BMI (B = 1.26 SE = 0.34, β = 0.53 p = 0.001, r2Δ = 0.22). Adjusting for covariates, MLiT500 remained an independent predictor of BMI (B = 1.28 SE = 0.36, β = 0.54, p = 0.002, r2Δ = 0.20). The full model accounted for 34.7% of the variance in BMI (p = 0.01). Exposure to moderate levels of light at biologically appropriate times can influence weight, independent of sleep timing and duration.

The Burden Attributable to Mental and Substance Use Disorders as Risk Factors for Suicide: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010

April 8, 2014 Comments off

The Burden Attributable to Mental and Substance Use Disorders as Risk Factors for Suicide: Findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010) identified mental and substance use disorders as the 5th leading contributor of burden in 2010, measured by disability adjusted life years (DALYs). This estimate was incomplete as it excluded burden resulting from the increased risk of suicide captured elsewhere in GBD 2010′s mutually exclusive list of diseases and injuries. Here, we estimate suicide DALYs attributable to mental and substance use disorders.

Methods
Relative-risk estimates of suicide due to mental and substance use disorders and the global prevalence of each disorder were used to estimate population attributable fractions. These were adjusted for global differences in the proportion of suicide due to mental and substance use disorders compared to other causes then multiplied by suicide DALYs reported in GBD 2010 to estimate attributable DALYs (with 95% uncertainty).

Results
Mental and substance use disorders were responsible for 22.5 million (14.8–29.8 million) of the 36.2 million (26.5–44.3 million) DALYs allocated to suicide in 2010. Depression was responsible for the largest proportion of suicide DALYs (46.1% (28.0%–60.8%)) and anorexia nervosa the lowest (0.2% (0.02%–0.5%)). DALYs occurred throughout the lifespan, with the largest proportion found in Eastern Europe and Asia, and males aged 20–30 years. The inclusion of attributable suicide DALYs would have increased the overall burden of mental and substance use disorders (assigned to them in GBD 2010 as a direct cause) from 7.4% (6.2%–8.6%) to 8.3% (7.1%–9.6%) of global DALYs, and would have changed the global ranking from 5th to 3rd leading cause of burden.

Conclusions
Capturing the suicide burden attributable to mental and substance use disorders allows for more accurate estimates of burden. More consideration needs to be given to interventions targeted to populations with, or at risk for, mental and substance use disorders as an effective strategy for suicide prevention.

Psychological and Behavioral Changes during Confinement in a 520-Day Simulated Interplanetary Mission to Mars

April 7, 2014 Comments off

Psychological and Behavioral Changes during Confinement in a 520-Day Simulated Interplanetary Mission to Mars
Source: PLoS ONE

Behavioral health risks are among the most serious and difficult to mitigate risks of confinement in space craft during long-duration space exploration missions. We report on behavioral and psychological reactions of a multinational crew of 6 healthy males confined in a 550 m3 chamber for 520 days during the first Earth-based, high-fidelity simulated mission to Mars. Rest-activity of crewmembers was objectively measured throughout the mission with wrist-worn actigraphs. Once weekly throughout the mission crewmembers completed the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II), Profile of Moods State short form (POMS), conflict questionnaire, the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT-B), and series of visual analogue scales on stress and fatigue. We observed substantial inter-individual differences in the behavioral responses of crewmembers to the prolonged mission confinement and isolation. The crewmember with the highest average POMS total mood disturbance score throughout the mission also reported symptoms of depression in 93% of mission weeks, which reached mild-to-moderate levels in >10% of mission weeks. Conflicts with mission control were reported five times more often than conflicts among crewmembers. Two crewmembers who had the highest ratings of stress and physical exhaustion accounted for 85% of the perceived conflicts. One of them developed a persistent sleep onset insomnia with ratings of poor sleep quality, which resulted in chronic partial sleep deprivation, elevated ratings of daytime tiredness, and frequent deficits in behavioral alertness. Sleep-wake timing was altered in two other crewmembers, beginning in the first few months of the mission and persisting throughout. Two crewmembers showed neither behavioral disturbances nor reports of psychological distress during the 17-month period of mission confinement. These results highlight the importance of identifying behavioral, psychological, and biological markers of characteristics that predispose prospective crewmembers to both effective and ineffective behavioral reactions during the confinement of prolonged spaceflight, to inform crew selection, training, and individualized countermeasures.

The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1990-2006

April 2, 2014 Comments off

The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Crime: Evidence from State Panel Data, 1990-2006
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Debate has surrounded the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes for decades. Some have argued medical marijuana legalization (MML) poses a threat to public health and safety, perhaps also affecting crime rates. In recent years, some U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, reigniting political and public interest in the impact of marijuana legalization on a range of outcomes.

Methods
Relying on U.S. state panel data, we analyzed the association between state MML and state crime rates for all Part I offenses collected by the FBI.

Findings
Results did not indicate a crime exacerbating effect of MML on any of the Part I offenses. Alternatively, state MML may be correlated with a reduction in homicide and assault rates, net of other covariates.

Conclusions
These findings run counter to arguments suggesting the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes poses a danger to public health in terms of exposure to violent crime and property crimes.

Using the Aesop’s Fable Paradigm to Investigate Causal Understanding of Water Displacement by New Caledonia Crows

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Using the Aesop’s Fable Paradigm to Investigate Causal Understanding of Water Displacement by New Caledonia Crows
Source: PLoS ONE

Understanding causal regularities in the world is a key feature of human cognition. However, the extent to which non-human animals are capable of causal understanding is not well understood. Here, we used the Aesop’s fable paradigm – in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out of reach reward – to assess New Caledonian crows’ causal understanding of water displacement. We found that crows preferentially dropped stones into a water-filled tube instead of a sand-filled tube; they dropped sinking objects rather than floating objects; solid objects rather than hollow objects, and they dropped objects into a tube with a high water level rather than a low one. However, they failed two more challenging tasks which required them to attend to the width of the tube, and to counter-intuitive causal cues in a U-shaped apparatus. Our results indicate that New Caledonian crows possess a sophisticated, but incomplete, understanding of the causal properties of displacement, rivalling that of 5–7 year old children.

See: Crows understand water displacement at the level of a small child: Show causal understanding of a 5- to 7-year-old child (Science Daily)

Breastfeeding Duration and Early Parenting Behaviour: The Importance of an Infant-Led, Responsive Style

March 24, 2014 Comments off

Breastfeeding Duration and Early Parenting Behaviour: The Importance of an Infant-Led, Responsive Style
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
Popular parenting literature promotes different approaches to caring for infants, based around variations in the use of parent-led routines and promoting infant independence. However, there is little empirical evidence of how these early behaviours affect wider parenting choices such as infant feeding. Breastfeeding often requires an infant-led approach, feeding on demand and allowing the infant to regulate intake whilst conversely formula feeding is open to greater caregiver manipulation. The infant-led style associated with breastfeeding may therefore be at odds with philosophies that encourage strict use of routine and independence. The aim of this study was to explore the association between early parenting behaviours and breastfeeding duration.

Methods
Five hundred and eight mothers with an infant aged 0–12 months completed a questionnaire examining breastfeeding duration, attitudes and behaviours surrounding early parenting (e.g. anxiety, use of routine, involvement, nurturance and discipline). Participants were attendees at baby groups or participants of online parenting forums based in the UK.

Results
Formula use at birth or short breastfeeding duration were significantly associated with low levels of nurturance, high levels of reported anxiety and increased maternal use of Parent-led routines. Conversely an infant-led approach characterised by responding to and following infant cues was associated with longer breastfeeding duration.

Discussion
Maternal desire to follow a structured parenting approach which purports use of Parent-led routines and early demands for infant independence may have a negative impact upon breastfeeding duration. Increased maternal anxiety may further influence this relationship. The findings have important implications for Health Professionals supporting new mothers during pregnancy and the postpartum period.

Generalized Trust and Intelligence in the United States

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Generalized Trust and Intelligence in the United States
Source: PLoS ONE

Generalized trust refers to trust in other members of society; it may be distinguished from particularized trust, which corresponds to trust in the family and close friends. An extensive empirical literature has established that generalized trust is an important aspect of civic culture. It has been linked to a variety of positive outcomes at the individual level, such as entrepreneurship, volunteering, self-rated health, and happiness. However, two recent studies have found that it is highly correlated with intelligence, which raises the possibility that the other relationships in which it has been implicated may be spurious. Here we replicate the association between intelligence and generalized trust in a large, nationally representative sample of U.S. adults. We also show that, after adjusting for intelligence, generalized trust continues to be strongly associated with both self-rated health and happiness. In the context of substantial variation across countries, these results bolster the view that generalized trust is a valuable social resource, not only for the individual but for the wider society as well.

Potential Therapeutic Competition in Community-Living Older Adults in the U.S.: Use of Medications That May Adversely Affect a Coexisting Condition

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Potential Therapeutic Competition in Community-Living Older Adults in the U.S.: Use of Medications That May Adversely Affect a Coexisting Condition
Source: PLoS ONE

Objective
The 75% of older adults with multiple chronic conditions are at risk of therapeutic competition (i.e. treatment for one condition may adversely affect a coexisting condition). The objective was to determine the prevalence of potential therapeutic competition in community-living older adults.

Methods
Cross-sectional descriptive study of a representative sample of 5,815 community-living adults 65 and older in the U.S, enrolled 2007–2009. The 14 most common chronic conditions treated with at least one medication were ascertained from Medicare claims. Medication classes recommended in national disease guidelines for these conditions and used by ≥2% of participants were identified from in-person interviews conducted 2008–2010. Criteria for potential therapeutic competition included: 1), well-acknowledged adverse medication effect; 2) mention in disease guidelines; or 3) report in a systematic review or two studies published since 2000. Outcomes included prevalence of situations of potential therapeutic competition and frequency of use of the medication in individuals with and without the competing condition.

Results
Of 27 medication classes, 15 (55.5%) recommended for one study condition may adversely affect other study conditions. Among 91 possible pairs of study chronic conditions, 25 (27.5%) have at least one potential therapeutic competition. Among participants, 1,313 (22.6%) received at least one medication that may worsen a coexisting condition; 753 (13%) had multiple pairs of such competing conditions. For example, among 846 participants with hypertension and COPD, 16.2% used a nonselective beta-blocker. In only 6 of 37 cases (16.2%) of potential therapeutic competition were those with the competing condition less likely to receive the medication than those without the competing condition.

Conclusions
One fifth of older Americans receive medications that may adversely affect coexisting conditions. Determining clinical outcomes in these situations is a research and clinical priority. Effects on coexisting conditions should be considered when prescribing medications.

See: One in 5 older Americans take medications that work against each other (EurekAlert!)

Deer Browsing Delays Succession by Altering Aboveground Vegetation and Belowground Seed Banks

March 17, 2014 Comments off

Deer Browsing Delays Succession by Altering Aboveground Vegetation and Belowground Seed Banks
Source: PLoS ONE

Soil seed bank composition is important to the recovery of natural and semi-natural areas from disturbance and serves as a safeguard against environmental catastrophe. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations have increased dramatically in eastern North America over the past century and can have strong impacts on aboveground vegetation, but their impacts on seed bank dynamics are less known. To document the long-term effects of deer browsing on plant successional dynamics, we studied the impacts of deer on both aboveground vegetation and seed bank composition in plant communities following agricultural abandonment. In 2005, we established six 15×15 m fenced enclosures and paired open plots in recently fallowed agricultural fields near Ithaca, NY, USA. In late October of each of six years (2005–2010), we collected soil from each plot and conducted seed germination cycles in a greenhouse to document seed bank composition. These data were compared to measurements of aboveground plant cover (2005–2008) and tree density (2005–2012). The impacts of deer browsing on aboveground vegetation were severe and immediate, resulting in significantly more bare soil, reduced plant biomass, reduced recruitment of woody species, and relatively fewer native species. These impacts persisted throughout the experiment. The impacts of browsing were even stronger on seed bank dynamics. Browsing resulted in significantly decreased overall species richness (but higher diversity), reduced seed bank abundance, relatively more short-lived species (annuals and biennials), and fewer native species. Both seed bank richness and the relative abundance of annuals/biennials were mirrored in the aboveground vegetation. Thus, deer browsing has long-term and potentially reinforcing impacts on secondary succession, slowing succession by selectively consuming native perennials and woody species and favoring the persistence of short-lived, introduced species that continually recruit from an altered seed bank.

See: Deer proliferation disrupts a forest’s natural growth (Science Daily)

Categories: ecology, PLoS ONE

Dynamic Association of Mortality Hazard with Body Shape

March 3, 2014 Comments off

Dynamic Association of Mortality Hazard with Body Shape
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
A Body Shape Index (ABSI) had been derived from a study of the United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2004 mortality data to quantify the risk associated with abdominal obesity (as indicated by a wide waist relative to height and body mass index). A national survey with longer follow-up, the British Health and Lifestyle Survey (HALS), provides another opportunity to assess the predictive power for mortality of ABSI. HALS also includes repeat observations, allowing estimation of the implications of changes in ABSI.

Methods and Findings
We evaluate ABSI z score relative to population normals as a predictor of all-cause mortality over 24 years of follow-up to HALS. We found that ABSI is a strong indicator of mortality hazard in this population, with death rates increasing by a factor of 1.13 (95% confidence interval, 1.09–1.16) per standard deviation increase in ABSI and a hazard ratio of 1.61 (1.40–1.86) for those with ABSI in the top 20% of the population compared to those with ABSI in the bottom 20%. Using the NHANES normals to compute ABSI z scores gave similar results to using z scores derived specifically from the HALS sample. ABSI outperformed as a predictor of mortality hazard other measures of abdominal obesity such as waist circumference, waist to height ratio, and waist to hip ratio. Moreover, it was a consistent predictor of mortality hazard over at least 20 years of follow-up. Change in ABSI between two HALS examinations 7 years apart also predicted mortality hazard: individuals with a given initial ABSI who had rising ABSI were at greater risk than those with falling ABSI.

Conclusions
ABSI is a readily computed dynamic indicator of health whose correlation with lifestyle and with other risk factors and health outcomes warrants further investigation.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Community Collective Efficacy following the 2004 Florida Hurricanes

February 28, 2014 Comments off

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Community Collective Efficacy following the 2004 Florida Hurricanes
Source: PLoS ONE

There is a paucity of research investigating the relationship of community-level characteristics such as collective efficacy and posttraumatic stress following disasters. We examine the association of collective efficacy with probable posttraumatic stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity in Florida public health workers (n = 2249) exposed to the 2004 hurricane season using a multilevel approach. Anonymous questionnaires were distributed electronically to all Florida Department of Health personnel nine months after the 2004 hurricane season. The collected data were used to assess posttraumatic stress disorder and collective efficacy measured at both the individual and zip code levels. The majority of participants were female (80.42%), and ages ranged from 20 to 78 years (median = 49 years); 73.91% were European American, 13.25% were African American, and 8.65% were Hispanic. Using multi-level analysis, our data indicate that higher community-level and individual-level collective efficacy were associated with a lower likelihood of having posttraumatic stress disorder (OR = 0.93, CI = 0.88–0.98; and OR = 0.94, CI = 0.92–0.97, respectively), even after adjusting for individual sociodemographic variables, community socioeconomic characteristic variables, individual injury/damage, and community storm damage. Higher levels of community-level collective efficacy and individual-level collective efficacy were also associated with significantly lower posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity (b = −0.22, p<0.01; and b = −0.17, p<0.01, respectively), after adjusting for the same covariates. Lower rates of posttraumatic stress disorder are associated with communities with higher collective efficacy. Programs enhancing community collective efficacy may be an important part of prevention practices and possibly lead to a reduction in the rate of posttraumatic stress disorder post-disaster.

Investigating the Role of State Permitting and Agriculture Agencies in Addressing Public Health Concerns Related to Industrial Food Animal Production

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Investigating the Role of State Permitting and Agriculture Agencies in Addressing Public Health Concerns Related to Industrial Food Animal Production
Source: PLoS ONE

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Objectives
Industrial food animal production (IFAP) operations adversely impact environmental public health through air, water, and soil contamination. We sought to determine how state permitting and agriculture agencies respond to these public health concerns.

Methods
We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with staff at 12 state agencies in seven states, which were chosen based on high numbers or rapid increase of IFAP operations. The interviews served to gather information regarding agency involvement in regulating IFAP operations, the frequency and type of contacts received about public health concerns, how the agency responds to such contacts, and barriers to additional involvement.

Results
Permitting and agriculture agencies’ responses to health-based IFAP concerns are constrained by significant barriers including narrow regulations, a lack of public health expertise within the agencies, and limited resources.

Conclusions
State agencies with jurisdiction over IFAP operations are unable to adequately address relevant public health concerns due to multiple factors. Combining these results with previously published findings on barriers facing local and state health departments in the same states reveals significant gaps between these agencies regarding public health and IFAP. There is a clear need for regulations to protect public health and for public health professionals to provide complementary expertise to agencies responsible for regulating IFAP operations.

Predicting the Risk of Suicide by Analyzing the Text of Clinical Notes

February 6, 2014 Comments off

Predicting the Risk of Suicide by Analyzing the Text of Clinical Notes
Source: PLoS ONE

We developed linguistics-driven prediction models to estimate the risk of suicide. These models were generated from unstructured clinical notes taken from a national sample of U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) medical records. We created three matched cohorts: veterans who committed suicide, veterans who used mental health services and did not commit suicide, and veterans who did not use mental health services and did not commit suicide during the observation period (n = 70 in each group). From the clinical notes, we generated datasets of single keywords and multi-word phrases, and constructed prediction models using a machine-learning algorithm based on a genetic programming framework. The resulting inference accuracy was consistently 65% or more. Our data therefore suggests that computerized text analytics can be applied to unstructured medical records to estimate the risk of suicide. The resulting system could allow clinicians to potentially screen seemingly healthy patients at the primary care level, and to continuously evaluate the suicide risk among psychiatric patients.

Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men

February 5, 2014 Comments off

Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men
Source: PLoS ONE

Background
An association between testosterone therapy (TT) and cardiovascular disease has been reported and TT use is increasing rapidly.

Methods
We conducted a cohort study of the risk of acute non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI) following an initial TT prescription (N = 55,593) in a large health-care database. We compared the incidence rate of MI in the 90 days following the initial prescription (post-prescription interval) with the rate in the one year prior to the initial prescription (pre-prescription interval) (post/pre). We also compared post/pre rates in a cohort of men prescribed phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (PDE5I; sildenafil or tadalafil, N = 167,279), and compared TT prescription post/pre rates with the PDE5I post/pre rates, adjusting for potential confounders using doubly robust estimation.

Results
In all subjects, the post/pre-prescription rate ratio (RR) for TT prescription was 1.36 (1.03, 1.81). In men aged 65 years and older, the RR was 2.19 (1.27, 3.77) for TT prescription and 1.15 (0.83, 1.59) for PDE5I, and the ratio of the rate ratios (RRR) for TT prescription relative to PDE5I was 1.90 (1.04, 3.49). The RR for TT prescription increased with age from 0.95 (0.54, 1.67) for men under age 55 years to 3.43 (1.54, 7.56) for those aged ≥75 years (ptrend = 0.03), while no trend was seen for PDE5I (ptrend = 0.18). In men under age 65 years, excess risk was confined to those with a prior history of heart disease, with RRs of 2.90 (1.49, 5.62) for TT prescription and 1.40 (0.91, 2.14) for PDE5I, and a RRR of 2.07 (1.05, 4.11).

Discussion
In older men, and in younger men with pre-existing diagnosed heart disease, the risk of MI following initiation of TT prescription is substantially increased.

Climate Change Increases Reproductive Failure in Magellanic Penguins

February 5, 2014 Comments off

Climate Change Increases Reproductive Failure in Magellanic Penguins
Source: PLoS ONE

Climate change is causing more frequent and intense storms, and climate models predict this trend will continue, potentially affecting wildlife populations. Since 1960 the number of days with >20 mm of rain increased near Punta Tombo, Argentina. Between 1983 and 2010 we followed 3496 known-age Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) chicks at Punta Tombo to determine how weather impacted their survival. In two years, rain was the most common cause of death killing 50% and 43% of chicks. In 26 years starvation killed the most chicks. Starvation and predation were present in all years. Chicks died in storms in 13 of 28 years and in 16 of 233 storms. Storm mortality was additive; there was no relationship between the number of chicks killed in storms and the numbers that starved (P = 0.75) or that were eaten (P = 0.39). However, when more chicks died in storms, fewer chicks fledged (P = 0.05, R2 = 0.14). More chicks died when rainfall was higher and air temperature lower. Most chicks died from storms when they were 9–23 days old; the oldest chick killed in a storm was 41 days old. Storms with heavier rainfall killed older chicks as well as more chicks. Chicks up to 70 days old were killed by heat. Burrow nests mitigated storm mortality (N = 1063). The age span of chicks in the colony at any given time increased because the synchrony of egg laying decreased since 1983, lengthening the time when chicks are vulnerable to storms. Climate change that increases the frequency and intensity of storms results in more reproductive failure of Magellanic penguins, a pattern likely to apply to many species breeding in the region. Climate variability has already lowered reproductive success of Magellanic penguins and is likely undermining the resilience of many other species.

See also: Antarctic Climate Change: Extreme Events Disrupt Plastic Phenotypic Response in Adélie Penguins

Texting and Walking: Strategies for Postural Control and Implications for Safety

January 30, 2014 Comments off

Texting and Walking: Strategies for Postural Control and Implications for Safety
Source: PLoS ONE

There are concerns about the safety of texting while walking. Although evidence of negative effects of mobile phone use on gait is scarce, cognitive distraction, altered mechanical demands, and the reduced visual field associated with texting are likely to have an impact. In 26 healthy individuals we examined the effect of mobile phone use on gait. Individuals walked at a comfortable pace in a straight line over a distance of ~8.5 m while; 1) walking without the use of a phone, 2) reading text on a mobile phone, or 3) typing text on a mobile phone. Gait performance was evaluated using a three-dimensional movement analysis system. In comparison with normal waking, when participants read or wrote text messages they walked with: greater absolute lateral foot position from one stride to the next; slower speed; greater rotation range of motion (ROM) of the head with respect to global space; the head held in a flexed position; more in-phase motion of the thorax and head in all planes, less motion between thorax and head (neck ROM); and more tightly organized coordination in lateral flexion and rotation directions. While writing text, participants walked slower, deviated more from a straight line and used less neck ROM than reading text. Although the arms and head moved with the thorax to reduce relative motion of the phone and facilitate reading and texting, movement of the head in global space increased and this could negatively impact the balance system. Texting, and to a lesser extent reading, modify gait performance. Texting or reading on a mobile phone may pose an additional risk to safety for pedestrians navigating obstacles or crossing the road.

A Year in Review: 2013 PLOS ONE Papers in the Media

January 15, 2014 Comments off

A Year in Review: 2013 PLOS ONE Papers in the Media
Source: PLoS ONE

Tired of year-end lists? We know you’ve got room for at least one more. 2013 was a great year for PLOS ONE media coverage: We had over 5,000 news stories on over 1450 published articles.

The PLOS ONE press team poured tirelessly over the list to whittle down the papers that stood out the most. In celebration of the New Year, we’d like to share some of these titles with you.

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