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NIHR Signal Oral steroids do not help hearing for children with glue ear
Oral steroids do not improve hearing, symptoms, or quality of life in children with glue ear. This NIHR-funded trial compared oral steroids with placebo for 389 children with glue ear, also called otitis media with effusion, and found no significant effect on those outcomes. Glue ear is when the middle ear fills with fluid, often following an ear or respiratory infection. The fluid makes hearing more difficult. It usually resolves within three months without treatment, but if it lasts longer, t...
NIHR Signal Peer support may reduce readmissions following mental health crises
People discharged from mental health crisis teams are less likely to re-enter acute services within a year if they receive self-management support. The support in this study was provided by a peer worker, someone with experience of mental illness. The peer worker used a workbook to provide information and talk through recovery goals. The study compared this with those who had received the workbook by post. Participating adults had a range of mental illnesses and had been managed by six crisis r...
NIHR Signal ‘Artificial pancreas’ improves glucose control in hospital patients with type 2 diabetes
Closed-loop insulin pumps, which continuously monitor blood glucose and administer insulin accordingly, can improve blood glucose control among patients with type 2 diabetes admitted to hospital for non-critical care. Those using the system spent about six hours longer in the target range, and this could hasten their recovery and reduce staff workload. The number of hospitalised patients with type 2 diabetes is increasing. Glucose control often worsens during illness. Closed-loop pumps have bee...
NIHR Signal Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening for women is unlikely to be a fair use of NHS resources
Nearly 4,000 women would need screening to prevent one death, and a third of aneurysms detected wouldn’t have influenced the individual woman's health or lifespan. Aneurysm rupture is a life-threatening emergency with low survival. Men are known to be at higher risk of an aneurysm and are offered screening at age 65 to allow early diagnosis of aneurysms large enough to warrant surgical repair. However, a third of deaths from rupture are in women. This NIHR-funded study is the first t...
NIHR Signal Sodium thiosulfate reduces hearing loss in children treated with chemotherapy
Treatment with sodium thiosulfate alongside cisplatin chemotherapy can reduce hearing loss in children with a liver tumour called hepatoblastoma. The risk of hearing loss was reduced by 48% in children who had the combination treatment compared with those who had cisplatin only. This phase 3 trial involved 109 children with standard-risk hepatoblastoma and tested the addition of sodium thiosulfate six hours after cisplatin treatment. The additional drug caused few major side effects, and there ...
NIHR Signal Omega-3 supplements do not prevent heart disease, stroke or death
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements from fish oils or plants have little or no effect on the risk of heart disease, stroke or overall death rates. This finding contradicts a widespread belief that omega-3 supplements are protective. Previous evidence in favour of omega-3 supplements is mainly derived from trials at high risk of bias. The better evidence identified in this review does not demonstrate any health benefit. The review provides robust evidence confirming current guidance that omega-3 supp...
NIHR Signal Methylphenidate remains first-choice drug treatment for children and young people with ADHD
The stimulant methylphenidate has the best balance of effectiveness against side effects in children and young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Amphetamines are more effective, but also more likely to be stopped for a reason other than side effects. This large, NIHR-funded systematic review compared a range of drugs against each other through a network meta-analysis. Effectiveness and tolerability were assessed at about 12 weeks of treatment. Other second-line drug treatmen...
NIHR Signal Guided online interventions can help people recover from depression
Internet-based interventions combined with remote professional support can improve outcomes for people with depression. Those receiving the intervention show better initial response to treatment and higher recovery rates compared with control groups who are either waiting for treatment or receiving less support. This meta-analysis shows people using guided internet therapy are over twice as likely to respond to treatment and achieve remission. This finding reinforces current NICE guidance which...
NIHR Signal Supporting families of those in intensive care improved family satisfaction but didn’t reduce family distress
A multicomponent support intervention for family members of patients in intensive care didn’t reduce their anxiety, depression or distress around the overall experience. However, it increased satisfaction with the quality of staff communication and delivery of care. Family members of critically unwell patients on intensive care often need to be involved in care decisions. Yet they may feel unsupported and bewildered in the process. This intervention, delivered in five US intensive care un...
NIHR Signal Tools for GPs can help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing
Interventions to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory tract infections are most effective when they provide a negotiation tool to support patient interaction. These interventions are more likely to be rejected if they are perceived as interfering with individual clinical judgment or damaging patient relationships. Upper respiratory tract infections often resolve themselves within a few days, without the need for antibiotics, yet antibiotics are often prescribed. Thi...
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