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NIHR Signal Text messaging support helps smokers quit, but apps not yet shown to work
Text messaging support helps people quit smoking, more than minimal support such as self-help materials. Also, when text messaging is combined with another smoking cessation intervention, it is more effective than just that intervention alone. However, the evidence to support smartphone apps is absent or of poor quality. This review included 26 studies and builds on the evidence from an earlier, smaller review, indicating that text messaging support is an effective way to help smokers quit. Mob...
NIHR Signal Intensive routine follow-up after bowel cancer treatment may not be necessary
More intensive follow-up strategies for patients who have surgery to cure bowel cancer do not result in an overall survival benefit when compared with less intensive follow-up. More intensive strategies include increased frequency of clinic visits, blood tests and scans. This Cochrane review did find that those people followed up intensively had more frequent surgery to try and cure a recurrence, but this did not translate into a measurable benefit in survival. This suggests that people do not ...
NIHR Signal Continuing an anticoagulant at home after abdominal surgery cuts thrombosis risk
Continuing to take low molecular weight heparin for two to four weeks after major abdominal surgery significantly reduces the risk of developing a dangerous blood clot. A review of seven studies, mainly in cancer surgery, has found that 13% of patients who received anticoagulant treatment only during their hospital stay developed a clot in the deep veins or lungs, compared with 5% of those who continued with the treatment beyond discharge. There was no increased risk of bleeding complications w...
NIHR Signal A patch or eye drops are similarly effective for the treatment of “lazy eye” in children
Both the use of a patch or atropine eye drops are equally suitable methods for improving clarity of vision (visual acuity) in children and young adults with amblyopia (a “lazy eye”). Amblyopia is a cause of poor vision in childhood that usually affects only one eye, resulting in the individual relying more on the good eye. The standard methods of treatment involve training the weaker eye and promoting its use by covering the strong eye with a patch, or eye drops to blur the vision i...
NIHR Signal Early suppression of male hormones is better than delayed therapy for advanced prostate cancer on balance
Offering early hormone suppression therapy to men with advanced prostate cancer that is causing no symptoms improves outcomes compared with waiting until symptoms of cancer spread arise. Early treatment is associated with 23 to 57 fewer deaths per 1,000 men over five years, depending on the men’s baseline risk. However, this comes with an increased chance of some non-serious side effects. Hormone suppression works by lowering levels of the male sex hormones that fuel the cancer’s gr...
NIHR Signal Diet and physical activity interventions targeting children and youth have different, yet small, effects on preventing obesity
Obesity prevention interventions which include both diet and physical activity may reduce the risk of obesity in pre-school children. Once at school, physical activity appears to be more effective for weight loss than diet alone. Resulting weight loss form any intervention, if any, has been very small with unclear benefits to the individual or population. This NIHR-supported Cochrane systematic review pooled the results of 153 global randomised-control trials (sevenfrom the UK) aiming to preven...
NIHR Signal Exercise training improves physical capacity after lung cancer surgery
People who receive exercise training following surgery for lung cancer can walk about 57 metres further in six minutes than controls who did not exercise. After surgery like thisto remove all or part of a lung, people typically manage about 500 metres in six minutes on the test, and anything above 20 metres is considered a worthwhile improvement. Exercise also increases leg strength and quality of life. A decline in physical fitness is a common and debilitating effect of lung resection. Exerci...
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 Mucus-thinning drugs slightly reduce COPD symptom flare-ups
People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have a slightly reduced risk of having a flare-up of symptoms if they take mucolytic drugs. The number of days on which they are too ill to perform their normal activities is also slightly reduced, from 1.57 days to 1.14 days per month. A review of placebo-controlled trials, including 10,377 people taking a variety of mucolytic drugs, for between two months to three years, found improvements in exacerbations, days of disability, and hospi...
NIHR Signal Providing pressurised air through a mask may improve outcomes for people with deteriorating heart failure
Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation may help people with rapidly deteriorating heart failure who become short of breath due to fluid build-up in the lungs. For people not requiring immediate mechanical ventilation using an endotracheal tube, this approach may reduce the risk of death in hospital and the need for intubation. This review evaluated 24 trials of 2,664 adults comparing a group who received air under pressure through a mask, to a group receiving standard medical care. These ty...
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