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NIHR Signal A lower drink-drive limit in Scotland is not linked to reduced road traffic accidents as expected
Lowering the drink-drive blood alcohol limit in Scotland was not followed by reduced road traffic accidents, perhaps because of a lack of enforcement. While there was a 0.7% reduction in alcohol bought in pubs and restaurants after the new legislation (on-trade sales), there was no significant change in sales of alcohol from shops or supermarkets (off-trade), where most purchases are made. Drink-drive accidents account for around 13% of all road deaths in Britain. In an attempt to improve this ...
NIHR Signal Adding behavioural support to drug treatment helps more people quit smoking
Among people using drug treatment to stop smoking, adding telephone or face-to-face behavioural support boosts their chances of success. Adding support increases the proportion of people quitting from around 17% on average to about 20%. This is a small but worthwhile increase given the health risks associated with smoking. These were the findings of an updated Cochrane review, which included 83 studies. All 29,536 participants were using nicotine replacement therapy or another drug to help them...
NIHR Signal Mixed evidence shows some impact of mass media campaigns promoting tobacco control, physical activity and sexual health
Mass media campaigns have demonstrated effectiveness for promoting tobacco control, physical activity and sexual health. Most of the evidence relates to improving awareness of health risks or the availability of services. However, for those aimed at the risks associated with sedentary lifestyles, smoking or sexual behaviours, there are signs that the campaigns also achieved positive changes to the target behaviour. This large review, funded by NIHR, identified 36 systematic reviews and individu...
NIHR Signal Using both nicotine patches and gum together improves the chances of quitting smoking
Using a nicotine patch together with a fast-acting type of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as gum or lozenges improves smoking cessation rates compared to using only a single type of NRT. Higher-dose nicotine patches are also more effective than lower dose ones, this NIHR-funded review suggests. A previous Cochrane systematic review found that NRT boosts people’s chances of successfully quitting smoking compared to none, but it was unclear which types, doses and schedules were mos...
NIHR Signal Antiretroviral treatment can reduce the risk of HIV transmission between male partners to ‘zero’
The risk of transmission of HIV between gay couples when the HIV-positive partner is taking antiretroviral treatment that successfully suppresses the viral load is ‘effectively zero.’ A study of men from 14 European countries, including the UK, found no cases of transmission of HIV from an HIV-positive partner taking antiretroviral therapy to an HIV-negative partner, as long as the viral load of the HIV-positive partner remained undetectable or very low. The study recorded an avera...
NIHR Signal Smartphones instead of direct supervision can improve adherence rates for TB treatment
People who need supervision take their medication for tuberculosis (TB) more reliably when using a smartphone to send video evidence instead of direct observations;for example, by attending a clinic appointment. Almost double the number of observations was completed in the video-supervised arm at six months than when people were directly observed. Ensuring the effectiveness of treatment is central to worldwide TB control. Directly-observed treatment, in which a healthcare professional supervise...
NIHR Signal E-cigarettes helped more smokers quit than nicotine replacement therapy
Smokers who use NHS stop smoking services appear almost twice as likely to be successful for a year if they use e-cigarettes than if they use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. In a trial of 866 smokers who used NHS stop smoking services, 18% of those assigned to e-cigarettes were abstinent 12 months from their quit date, compared to 9.9% of those assigned to NRT. Everyone in the study was also offered four weeks of one-to-one behavioural support from a clinician. Of those who had suc...
NIHR Signal Long-term exercise programmes reduce falls and injuries in older adults
Older people who participate in year-long exercise programmes fall less and are less likely to be injured if they do fall. Exercise does not increase or decrease their risk of hospitalisation. The people aged 60 or over (average age 73 years) who were included in this review took part in supervised training programmes. Typically, about half of people at this age can fall at least once a year. These programmes combined aerobic, strength and balance training, exercising at a moderate intensity fo...
NIHR Signal Cognitive behavioural therapy may help ease depression in the workplace
Workplace-based interventions for people with depressive symptoms are effective. This review of 16 trials looked at early stage interventions to prevent depressive symptoms from developing into more severe depressive illness. Both cognitive behavioural therapy and some non-cognitive behavioural therapy interventions, such as supervised exercise, worked equally well. Telephone and internet-based therapy worked better than face-to-face therapy. These interventions were compared to usual treatment...
NIHR Signal London’s Low Emission Zone has not been shown to improve children’s respiratory health
The Low Emission Zone covering much of Greater London was introduced between 2008 and 2012 to improve air quality. Some measures of air pollution have slightly reduced over that time, but measures of children’s respiratory health and lung development have not significantly improved. This NIHR funded study assessed over 2,000 primary school children during the first five years of the Low Emission Zone, during which charges were phased in for several categories of commercial diesel vehicles...
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