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AnteayerPLOS ONE Medicine&Health

<i>In-vivo</i> impact of common cosmetic preservative systems in full formulation on the skin microbiome

by Barry Murphy, Michael Hoptroff, David Arnold, Richard Eccles, Stuart Campbell-Lee

Preservatives play an essentially role in ensuring that cosmetic formulations remain safe for use via control of microbial contamination. Commonly used preservatives include organic acids, alcohols and phenols and these play an essential role in controlling the growth of bacteria, fungi and moulds in substrates that can potentially act as a rich food source for microbial contaminants. Whilst the activity of these compounds is clear, both in vitro and in formulation, little information exists on the potential impact that common preservative systems, in full formulation, have on the skin’s resident microbiome. Dysbiosis of the skin’s microbiome has been associated with a number of cosmetic conditions but there currently are no in vivo studies investigating the potential for preservative ingredients, when included in personal care formulations under normal use conditions, to impact the cutaneous microbiome. Here we present an analysis of four in vivo studies that examine the impact of different preservation systems in full formulation, in different products formats, with varying durations of application. This work demonstrates that despite the antimicrobial efficacy of the preservatives in vitro, the skin microbiome is not impacted by preservative containing products in vivo.

Distance to available services for newborns at facilities in Malawi: A secondary analysis of survey and health facility data

by Kimberly Peven, Cath Taylor, Edward Purssell, Lindsay Mallick, Clara R. Burgert-Brucker, Louise T. Day, Kerry L. M. Wong, Christabel Kambala, Debra Bick


Malawi has halved the neonatal mortality rate between 1990–2018, however, is not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 12 per 1,000 live births. Despite a high facility birth rate (91%), mother-newborn dyads may not remain in facilities long enough to receive recommended care and quality of care improvements are needed to reach global targets. Physical access and distance to health facilities remain barriers to quality postnatal care.


Using data We used individual data from the 2015–16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey and facility data from the 2013–14 Malawi Service Provision Assessment, linking households to all health facilities within specified distances and travel times. We calculated service readiness scores for facilities to measure their capacity to provide birth/newborn care services. We fitted multi-level regression models to evaluate the association between the service readiness and appropriate newborn care (receiving at least five of six interventions).


Households with recent births (n = 6010) linked to a median of two birth facilities within 5–10 km and one facility within a two-hour walk. The maximum service environment scores for linked facilities median was 77.5 for facilities within 5–10 km and 75.5 for facilities within a two-hour walk. While linking to one or more facilities within 5-10km or a two-hour walk was not associated with appropriate newborn care, higher levels of service readiness in nearby facilities was associated with an increased risk of appropriate newborn care.


Women’s choice of nearby facilities and quality facilities is limited. High quality newborn care is sub-optimal despite high coverage of facility birth and some newborn care interventions. While we did not find proximity to more facilities was associated with increased risk of appropriate care, high levels of service readiness was, showing facility birth and improved access to well-prepared facilities are important for improving newborn care.

Decreased clot burden is associated with factor XIII Val34Leu polymorphism and better functional outcomes in acute ischemic stroke patients treated with intravenous thrombolysis

by István Szegedi, Rita Orbán-Kálmándi, Attila Nagy, Ferenc Sarkady, Nikolett Vasas, Máté Sik, Levente István Lánczi, Ervin Berényi, László Oláh, Alexandra Crișan, László Csiba, Zsuzsa Bagoly


Intravenous thrombolysis using recombinant tissue plasminogen activator remains the mainstay treatment of acute ischemic stroke (AIS), although endovascular treatment is becoming standard of care in case of large vessel occlusions (LVO). To quantify the thrombus burden in LVO, a semiquantitative CT angiography (CTA) grading system, the clot burden score (CBS) can be used. Here we aimed to study the association between CBS and various hemostasis parameters, and to evaluate which parameters are major determinants of thrombolysis outcome.


In this single-centered prospective observational case-control study, 200 anterior circulation AIS patients receiving intravenous thrombolysis treatment without thrombectomy were enrolled: 100 AIS patients with LVO (CBS 0–9) and 100 age- and sex-matched AIS patients without LVO (CBS 10). Fibrinogen, α2-plasmin inhibitor, plasminogen, factor XIII and D-dimer were assessed from blood samples taken before and 24 h after thrombolysis, and FXIII-A Val34Leu was genotyped. CBS was calculated using admission CTA. Short-term outcomes were defined based on the change in NIHSS by day 7, long-term outcomes were assessed according to the modified Rankin scale at 3 months post-event.


Poor outcomes were significantly more frequent in the CBS 0–9 group. Plasminogen activity on admission was significantly higher in the CBS 0–9 group. In a univariate analysis, significant protective effect of the Leu34 allele against developing larger clots (CBS 0–9) could be demonstrated (OR:0.519; 95%CI:0.298–0.922, p = 0.0227). Multivariate regression analysis revealed that CBS is an independent predictor of short- and long-term functional outcomes, while such effect of the studied hemostasis parameters could not be demonstrated.


CBS was found to be a significant independent predictor of thrombolysis outcomes. FXIII-A Leu34 carrier status was associated with smaller thrombus burden, which is consistent with the in vitro described whole blood clot mass reducing effects of the allele, but the polymorphism had no effect on thrombolysis outcomes.

Assessment of the preventive effects of Nd:YAG laser associated with fluoride on enamel caries using optical coherence tomography and FTIR spectroscopy

by Marcia Cristina Dias-Moraes, Pedro Arthur Augusto Castro, Daísa Lima Pereira, Patrícia Aparecida Ana, Anderson Zanardi Freitas, Denise Maria Zezell


This in vitro study characterized and monitored, by Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), the effects of the association of acidulated phosphate fluoride gel (APF-gel) and Nd:YAG (neodymiun:yttrium-aluminum-garnet) laser, as sequencial treatments, in the prevention of incipient enamel caries lesions.


120 human enamel samples were randomized into 3 groups (n = 40): APF-gel (1.23% F-, 4 min.); Laser+APF (Nd:YAG laser irradiation—0.6W, 84.9J/cm2, 10Hz, followed by APF-gel); and APF+Laser (APF-gel followed by laser irradiation). The samples were subjected to a 15-day pH-cycling, evaluated by OCT (quantification of optical attenuation coefficient–OAC) and FTIR (analysis of carbonate and phosphate content) before treatments, after treatments, and on the 5th, 10th and 15th days of pH-cycling. The statistical analysis was performed (α = 5%).


The Optical Attenuation Coefficient (OAC) assessed by OCT increases with the progression of demineralization, and the Laser+APF presented the highest values of OAC in 10th and 15th days of pH-cycling. Nd:YAG decreased the carbonate content after treatment regardless of the application order of the APF-gel, while APF-gel did not interfere in the composition of enamel. The carbonate content was also changed in the first 5 days of the pH-cycling in all groups.


Nd:YAG laser irradiation before or after the application of APF-gel did not influence the appearance of incipient caries lesions, showing no synergistic effect. Regardless of the application order of the APF-gel, laser irradiation reduces the carbonate content of the enamel, which also changes during the demineralization process. However, irradiation before the application of APF-gel increased the speed of progression of the lesions, which positively impacts public health as it can prevent caries disease, even in high risk individuals. OCT and FTIR are suitable for assessing this effect.

Major bioactive chemical compounds in Astragali Radix samples from different vendors vary greatly

by Bijay Kafle, Jan P. A. Baak, Cato Brede

The worldwide traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbs sales figures have increased considerably to 50 billion US$ (2018). Astragali Radix (AR) is amongst the most often sold TCM herbs; sales in the European Union (EU) need European Medicines Agency (EMA) approval. However, comparisons of characteristic bioactive molecules concentrations in AR from different EU vendors are lacking. This study uses liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) with standard addition to evaluate the influence of different sample and preparation types and ammonia treatment on bioactive molecules concentrations in AR. We also compare AR samples from different EU-vendors. Astragaloside IV (AG-IV), ononin and calycosin 7-O-β-D-glucoside concentrations were higher in root powder samples when extracted with boiled water than with ultrasonication using 70% methanol. AG-IV content was by far the highest in granulates from vendor 1 (202 ± 35 μg/g) but very low in hydrophilic concentrates from vendor 1 (32 ± 7 μg/g) and granulates from vendor 4 (36 ± 3 μg/g). Ammonia-treatment significantly increased AG-IV concentrations in all samples (e.g., to 536 ± 178 μg/g in vendor 1 granulates). Comparable effects were found for most other bioactive molecules. AG-IV and other bioactive molecules concentrations differed strongly depending on sample types, extraction processes, ammonia treatment-or-not and especially between different vendors samples. Ammonia-treatment is debatable, as it is supposed to convert other astragalosides, to AG-IV. The results indicate that routine quantitative analysis of major bioactive compounds present in AR, helps in quality control of AR and to guarantee the quality of commercial products.

Radiocapitellar incongruity of the radial head in magnetic resonance imaging correlates with pathologic changes of the lateral elbow stabilizers in lateral epicondylitis

by Yeun Soo Kim, Sung Taeck Kim, Kyoung Hwan Lee, Joong Mo Ahn, Hyun Sik Gong


Post-traumatic posterolateral rotatory instability (PLRI) can be shown as radiocapitellar incongruity or posterior translation (PT) of the radial head in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We aimed to evaluate whether PT correlated with pathologic changes of lateral elbow stabilizers in patients with lateral epicondylitis.

Materials and methods

In MRIs of 160 patients with lateral epicondylitis, we measured PT of the radial head in the sagittal images. We qualitatively graded five lesions of the lateral elbow structures that included common extensor tendon (CET) lesion (grade 1–3), lateral collateral ligament complex (LCLC) insufficiency (grade 0–2), and absence or presence of bone marrow signal change, osteochondral lesion, and calcification. We analyzed whether the PT correlated with pathologic changes of the lateral elbow stabilizers and evaluated the diagnostic value of the PT for severe lesions.


The average PT was 1.9 mm. The PT correlated with both the CET lesion (p p 3.4mm as suggested for post-traumatic PLRI, 21 patients had potential PLRI. The positive predictive values of the PT > 3.4mm were 76% for grade 3 CET lesions and 67% for grade 2 LCLC insufficiency.


This study demonstrates that PT of the radial head correlates with pathological changes of the lateral elbow stabilizers. As radiocapitellar incongruity is easy to measure quantitatively, it can be used for screening potential PLRI in patients with lateral epicondylitis.

RANKL expression in chondrocytes and its promotion by lymphotoxin-α in the course of cartilage destruction during rheumatoid arthritis

by Ayumu Takeshita, Keiichiro Nishida, Aki Yoshida, Yoshihisa Nasu, Ryuichi Nakahara, Daisuke Kaneda, Hideki Ohashi, Toshifumi Ozaki

We investigated the expression and localization of the receptor activator nuclear factor κB ligand (RANKL) in cartilage from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of relevance to cartilage degeneration. We also examined the role of exogenous lymphotoxin (LT)-α on RANKL expression in human chondrocytes and its effect on in vitro osteoclast differentiation. Cartilage and synovial fluid samples were obtained from 45 patients undergoing total joint replacement surgery or joint puncture, including 24 patients with osteoarthritis (OA) and 21 patients with RA. RANKL expression in articular cartilage was examined by immunohistochemistry. LT-α concentrations in synovial fluid were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Normal human chondrocytes were stimulated with LT-α, and the relative mRNA levels of RANKL, osteoprotegerin (OPG), matrix metalloproteinase-9, and vascular endothelial growth factor were examined by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Soluble RANKL protein in culture media was measured using ELISA, and membrane-bound RANKL protein in cells was examined by western blotting. Co-cultures of human chondrocytes with peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were stimulated with macrophage-colony stimulating factor and LT-α, and osteoclast differentiation was evaluated by staining for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase. LT-α concentrations were higher in RA synovial fluid than in OA samples. The population of RANKL-positive chondrocytes of RA cartilage was higher than that of OA cartilage, and correlated with cartilage degeneration. Stimulation of cultured human chondrocytes by LT-α increased RANKL expression, the RANKL/OPG ratio, and angiogenic factors. Membrane-bound RANKL in chondrocytes was up-regulated after stimulation of LT-α, whereas soluble RANKL in culture medium did not increase. Co-cultures of human chondrocytes and PBMCs demonstrated that LT-α stimulated human chondrocytes to produce RANKL and induced osteoclastic differentiation of PBMCs. RANKL produced by chondrocytes may contribute to cartilage destruction during RA and LT-α could promote the expression of RANKL in human chondrocytes.

Women empowerment and skilled birth attendance in sub-Saharan Africa: A multi-country analysis

by Kwamena Sekyi Dickson, Kenneth Setorwu Adde, Edward Kwabena Ameyaw


In 2017, the highest global maternal deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The WHO advocates that maternal deaths can be mitigated with the assistance of skilled birth attendants (SBAs) at childbirth. Women empowerment is also acknowledged as an enabling factor to women’s functionality and healthcare utilisation including use of SBAs’ services. Consequently, this study investigated the association between women empowerment and skilled birth attendance in SSA.

Materials and methods

This study involved the analysis of secondary data from the Demographic and Health Surveys of 29 countries conducted between January 1, 2010, and December 3, 2018. For this study, only women who had given birth in the five years prior to the surveys were included, which is 166,022. At 95% confidence interval, Binary Logistic Regression analyses were conducted and findings were presented as adjusted odds ratios (aORs).


The overall prevalence of skilled birth attendance was 63.0%, with the lowest prevalence in Tanzania (13.8%) and highest in Rwanda (91.2%). Women who were empowered with high level of knowledge (aOR = 1.60, 95% CI = 1.51, 1.71), high decision-making power (aOR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.15, 1.23), and low acceptance of wife beating had higher likelihood of skill birth attendance after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics. Women from rural areas had lesser likelihood (OR = 0.53, 95% CI = 0.51–0.55) of skilled birth attendance compared to women from urban areas. Working women had a lesser likelihood of skilled birth attendance (OR = 0.91, 95% CI = 0.88–0.94) as compared to those not working. Women with secondary (OR = 2.13, 95% CI = 2.03–2.22), or higher education (OR = 4.40, 95% CI = 3.81–5.07), and women in the richest wealth status (OR = 3.50, 95% CI = 3.29–3.73) had higher likelihood of skilled birth attendance.


These findings accentuate that going forward, successful skilled birth attendant interventions are the ones that can prioritise the empowerment of women.

Management of maternal depression: Qualitative exploration of perceptions of healthcare professionals from a public tertiary care hospital, Karachi, Pakistan

by Makkiya Jawed, Nousheen Akber Pradhan, Rozina Mistry, Amirah Nazir, Sualeha Shekhani, Tazeen Saeed Ali

The lack of implementation and routine screening of management techniques at tertiary care hospitals leads to an increased burden of maternal depression. The consequences are borne emotionally, physically, and mentally by the mother, the child, the overall family, and society. Hence, it is vital to contextualize this mental disorder to design and implement effective healthcare interventions. The study is aimed to assess the knowledge and practices of healthcare professionals, in a tertiary care setting, who deal with depressive symptoms amongst mothers. It gauges whether a psychological screening criterion is being implemented by the clinical staff during prenatal and postnatal visits to recommend steps that can help develop a service framework. A qualitative, exploratory study design was implemented for this research. With purposive sampling, eight in-depth interviews (three nurses and five doctors) at a single tertiary care hospital were conducted categorically using a semi-structured (open and close-ended questions) interview toolkit. Content Analysis was carried out using information gathered from the unit of analysis. The study provided evidence of the existing gaps in one particular tertiary healthcare system, within Pakistan, concerning diagnosis and management of maternal depression. Results highlighted that providers were well-versed with explanations of maternal depression, the aftermath of it, and the current status of healthcare; however, they were minimally educated about the specifics and levels of treatment. The gathered information assisted in recommending steps to develop a service framework.

NFAT transcription factors are essential and redundant actors for leukemia initiating potential in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia

by Claire Catherinet, Diana Passaro, Stéphanie Gachet, Hind Medyouf, Anne Reynaud, Charlène Lasgi, Jacques Ghysdael, Christine Tran Quang

T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive malignancy with few available targeted therapies. We previously reported that the phosphatase calcineurin (Cn) is required for LIC (leukemia Initiating Capacity) potential of T-ALL pointing to Cn as an interesting therapeutic target. Calcineurin inhibitors have however unwanted side effect. NFAT transcription factors play crucial roles downstream of calcineurin during thymocyte development, T cell differentiation, activation and anergy. Here we elucidate NFAT functional relevance in T-ALL. Using murine T-ALL models in which Nfat genes can be inactivated either singly or in combination, we show that NFATs are required for T-ALL LIC potential and essential to survival, proliferation and migration of T-ALL cells. We also demonstrate that Nfat genes are functionally redundant in T-ALL and identified a node of genes commonly deregulated upon Cn or NFAT inactivation, which may serve as future candidate targets for T-ALL.

“In my age, we didn’t have the computers”: Using a complexity lens to understand uptake of diabetes eHealth innovations into primary care—A qualitative study

by Catherine H. Yu, Maggie McCann, Joanna Sale


Shared decision-making is a central component of person-centred care and can be facilitated with the use of patient decision aids (PtDA). Barriers and facilitators to shared decision-making and PtDA use have been identified, yet integration of PtDAs into clinical care is limited. We sought to understand why, using the concepts of complexity science.


We conducted 60-minute in-depth interviews with patients with diabetes, primary care physicians, nurses and dietitians who had participated in a randomized controlled trial examining the impact of MyDiabetesPlan (an online goal-setting PtDA). Relying on a qualitative description approach, we used a semi-structured interview guide to explore participants’ experiences with using MyDiabetesPlan and how it was integrated into the clinical encounter and clinical care. Audiotapes were transcribed verbatim, then coded independently by two analysts.


17 interviews were conducted (5 physicians, 3 nurses, 2 dietitians, 7 patients). Two themes were developed: (1) MyDiabetesPlan appeared to empower patients by providing tailored patient-important information which engaged them in decision-making and self-care. Patients’ use of MyDiabetesPlan was however impacted by their competing medical conditions, other life priorities and socioeconomic context. (2) MyDiabetesPlan emphasized to clinicians a patient-centred approach that helped patients assume greater ownership for their care. Clinicians’ use of MyDiabetesPlan was impacted by pre-existing clinical tools/workplans, workflow, technical issues, clinic administrative logistics and support, and time. How clinicians adapted to these barriers influenced the degree to which MyDiabetesPlan was integrated into care.


A complexity lens (that considers relationships between multiple components of a complex system) may yield additional insights to optimize integration of PtDA into clinical care. A complexity lens recognizes that shared decision-making does not occur in the vacuum of a clinical dyad (patient and clinician), and will enable us to develop a family of interventions that address the whole process, rather than individual components.

Trial registration NCT02379078.

A phenomenological study on the experiences of patient transfer from the intensive care unit to general wards

by Eun-Young Lee, Jin-Hee Park


This study aimed to derive an in-depth understanding of the transfer experience of intensive care unit (ICU) patients in South Korea through a phenomenological analysis.


Participants were 15 adult patients who were admitted to a medical or surgical ICU at a university hospital for more than 48 hours before being transferred to a general ward. Data were collected three to five days after their transfer to the general ward from January to December 2017 through individual in-depth interviews and were analyzed using Colaizzi’s phenomenological data analysis method, phenomenological reduction, intersubjective reduction, and hermeneutic circle. Data analysis yielded eight themes and four theme clusters related to the unique experiences of domestic ICU patients in the process of transfer to the general ward.


The four main themes of the patients’ transfer experiences were “hope amid despair,” “gratitude for being alive,” “recovery from suffering,” and “seeking a return to normality.”


Our findings expand the realistic and holistic understanding from the patient’s perspective. This study’s findings can contribute to the development of appropriate nursing interventions that can support preparation and adaptation to the transfer of ICU patients.

Electronic media use and symptoms of depression among adolescents in Norway

by Annette Løvheim Kleppang, Anne Mari Steigen, Li Ma, Hanne Søberg Finbråten, Curt Hagquist


The purpose of this study was to examine the association between electronic media use, including use of social media and gaming, and symptoms of depression, and whether gender or having friends moderated these associations.


This study was based on self-reported cross-sectional data from the Ungdata survey, conducted in 2018 by the Norwegian Social Research (NOVA) Institute in cooperation with seven regional drug and alcohol competence centres. The target group comprised 12,353 15–16 years old adolescents. Binominal logistic regression was used to analyse the association between electronic media use and symptoms of depression.


The odds of having symptoms of depression were higher for those who used social media more than 3 hours per day (OR: 1.60, 95% CI: 1.43–1.80), compared to those who used social media 3 hours or less per day. Additionally, the odds of having symptoms of depression was higher for those who used more than 3 hours on gaming per day (OR: 1.57, 95% CI: 1.36–1.80), compared to those who used 3 hours and less on gaming per day after adjustment for potential confounders. There were no interaction effects between social media and gaming use with symptoms of depression. Neither were the associations between social media use and gaming with symptoms of depression moderated by gender or having friends.


The odds of having symptoms of depression were significantly higher for adolescents with a more frequent use of electronic media.

Routine health information utilization and associated factors among health care workers in Ethiopia: A systematic review and meta-analysis

by Birye Dessalegn Mekonnen, Senafekesh Biruk Gebeyehu


Utilization of routine health information plays a vital role for the effectiveness of routine and programed decisions. A proper utilization of routine health information helps to make decisions based on evidence. Considerable studies have been done on the utilization of routine health information among health workers in Ethiopia, but inconsistent findings were reported. Thus, this study was conducted to determine the pooled utilization of routine health information and to identify associated factors among health workers in Ethiopia.


Search of PubMed, HINARI, Global Health, Scopus, EMBASE, web of science, and Google Scholar was conducted to identify relevant studies from October 24, 2020 to November 18, 2020. The Newcastle-Ottawa scale tool was used to assess the quality of included studies. Two reviewers extracted the data independently using a standardized data extraction format and exported to STATA software version 11 for meta-analysis. Heterogeneity among studies was checked using Cochrane Q and I2 test statistics. The pooled estimate of utilization of routine health information was executed using a random effect model.


After reviewing 22924 studies, 10 studies involving 4054 health workers were included for this review and meta-analysis. The pooled estimate of routine health information utilization among health workers in Ethiopia was 57.42% (95% CI: 41.48, 73.36). Supportive supervision (AOR = 2.25; 95% CI: 1.80, 2.82), regular feedback (AOR = 2.86; 95% CI: 1.60, 5.12), availability of standard guideline (AOR = 2.53; 95% CI: 1.80, 3.58), data management knowledge (AOR = 3.04; 95% CI: 1.75, 5.29) and training on health information (AOR = 3.45; 95% CI: 1.96, 6.07) were identified factors associated with utilization of routine health information.


This systematic review and meta-analysis found that more than two-fifth of health workers did not use their routine health information. This study suggests the need to conduct regular supportive supervision, provision of training and capacity building, mentoring on competence of routine health information tasks, and strengthening regular feedback at all health facilities. In addition, improving the accessibility and availability of standard set of indicators is important to scale-up information use.

Electroacupuncture for post-thoracotomy pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis

by Sohyeon Park, Yee Ran Lyu, So Jung Park, Min Seok Oh, In Chul Jung, Eun-Jung Lee


Thoracotomy is an invasive surgical procedure that produces intense postoperative pain. Electroacupuncture has been used to induce analgesia in various situations, including after surgery. The aim of the following systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the effect of electroacupuncture on post-thoracotomy pain.


The studies for the systematic review were searched using the following 9 databases: PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE Complete, Google Scholar, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Korean Medical Database (KMBASE), Koreanstudies Information Service System (KISS), and OASIS, without language restriction. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that met the inclusion criteria were selected. The quality assessment was performed using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool, and RevMan 5.3 was used for meta-analysis. The review protocol is registered in the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) as CRD42019142157.


Eleven randomized controlled trials were included in the systematic review. The meta-analysis was performed for two outcome measures: pain score 24 hours after surgery and total dose of opioid analgesics. A subgroup analysis was performed according to the control group: sham acupuncture and conventional analgesia group. Pain score 24 hours after surgery of electroacupuncture group showed a standard mean difference of -0.98 (95% CI: -1.62 to -0.35) compared to sham acupuncture. The standard mean difference was -0.94 (95% CI: -1.33 to -0.55) compared to conventional analgesia. The total dose of opioid analgesics of electroacupuncture group showed a standard mean difference values of -0.95 (95% CI: -1.42 to -0.47) compared to sham acupuncture. The standard mean difference was -1.96 (95% CI: -2.82 to -1.10) compared to conventional analgesia.


Current evidence suggests that electroacupuncture might provide useful pain relieving effect on post-thoracotomy patients. However, due to low quality and high heterogeneity of existing data, further rigorously designed studies should be performed to confirm the safety and efficacy.

Management and outcomes of patients with chronic obstructive lung disease and lung cancer in a public healthcare system

by John R. Goffin, Sophie Corriveau, Grace H. Tang, Gregory R. Pond


There is limited data on the care and outcomes of individuals with both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer, particularly in advanced disease. We hypothesized such patients would receive less cancer treatment and have worse outcomes.


We analyzed administrative data from the province of Ontario including demographics, hospitalization records, physician billings, cancer diagnosis, and treatments. COPD was defined using the ICES-derived COPD cohort (1996–2014) with data from 2002 to 2014. Descriptive statistics and multivariable analyses were undertaken.


Of 105 304 individuals with lung cancer, 43 375 (41%) had stage data and 36 738 (34.9%) had COPD. Those with COPD were likely to be younger, have a Charlson score ≤ 1, have lower income, to live rurally, and to have stage I/II lung cancer (29.8 vs 26.5%; all p Conclusions

A co-diagnosis of COPD and lung cancer is associated with less curative treatment in early stage disease, less palliative treatment in late stage disease, and poorer outcomes.

The impacts of and outcomes from telehealth delivered in prisons: A systematic review

by Esther Jie Tian, Sooraj Venugopalan, Saravana Kumar, Matthew Beard


While the delivery of healthcare services within prison systems is underpinned by different models, access to timely and optimal healthcare is often constrained by multifaceted factors. Telehealth has been used as an alternative approach to conventional care. To date, much of the focus has been on evaluation of telehealth interventions within certain geographical contexts such as rural and remote communities. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to synthesise the evidence base to date for the impacts of, and outcomes from, telehealth delivered in prisons.


This systematic review was underpinned by best practice in the conduct and reporting of systematic reviews. A systematic search was conducted to reinforce the literature selection process. The modified McMaster Critical Appraisal Tool was used to assess the methodological quality of the included studies. A narrative synthesis of the study outcomes was undertaken.


Twenty-nine quantitative studies were included. Telehealth interventions were greatly varied in terms of types of healthcare services, implementation process and intervention parameters. Methodological concerns such as rigour in data collection and analysis, and psychometric properties of outcome measures were commonly identified. Process-related outcomes and telehealth outcomes were the two overarching categories identified.


This systematic review provides mixed evidence on the impact of, and outcomes from, telehealth in prisons. While the evidence base does highlight some positive impacts of telehealth, which at the least, is as effective as conventional care while achieving patient satisfaction, it is also important to consider the local context and drivers that may influence what, when and how telehealth services are provided. Addressing critical factors throughout the lifecycle of telehealth is equally important for successful implementation and sustainability.

Determinants of maternal near miss among women admitted to maternity wards of tertiary hospitals in Southern Ethiopia, 2020: A hospital-based case-control study

by Aklilu Habte, Merertu Wondimu


A maternal near-miss (MNM) refers to when a gravely ill woman survives a complication as a result of the standard of care she receives or by chance during gestation, childbirth, or within 42 days of the termination of pregnancy. Rescuers of near-miss events share several features with mothers who have died and identifying MNM determinants will aid in improving the capacity of the health system to reduce severe maternal morbidity and mortality. Ethiopia is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa with high maternal mortality and morbidity, but there is little evidence on determinants of a MNM based on a WHO criteria. Hence, this study aimed at identifying determinants of MNM among women admitted to tertiary hospitals in southern Ethiopia, 2020.


A facilities-based unmatched case-control study was conducted in five selected tertiary hospitals found in central southern Ethiopia from February 1 to June 1, 2020. A total of 322 (81 cases and 241 controls) study participants were included in the study. At the time of their discharge, cases were recruited consecutively, while controls were selected using a systematic sampling method. The cases were women admitted to hospitals during pregnancy, childbirth, or 42 days following termination of pregnancy who met at least one of the WHO near-miss criteria. Whereas the controls comprised of women who were admitted during pregnancy, childbirth, or 42 days following termination of pregnancy and discharged without severe obstetric complications. Data collection was conducted using the interviewer-administered structured questionnaire and data abstraction tool. The data was coded and entered into Epi-Data version 3.1 and exported to SPSS version 23 for analysis. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was conducted and determinants of MNM were established at p-value Results

Severe postpartum hemorrhage (50.6%) and sepsis (23.4%) were the most common reasons for admission of cases. Lack of ANC [AOR = 3.25; 95%CI: 2.21,7.69], prior history of Cesarean section [AOR = 3.53; 95%CI:1.79,6.98], delaying more than 60 minute to access final place of care [AOR = 3.21; 95%CI:1.61,6.39], poor practice of Birth preparedness and complication readiness (BPCR) [AOR = 3.31; 95%CI:1.50,7.29], and history of preexisting medical disorders [AOR = 2.79; 95%CI:1.45,5.37] were identified as significantly determinants of maternal near miss.

Conclusion and recommendation

Stakeholders need to enhance their efforts for improving access to roads and transportations. Besides, women who have a prior history of Caesarean section, chronic medical conditions, and no ANC need special attention from their families and health care providers to proactively mitigate the occurrence of serious obstetric complications. More attention has to be paid to birth preparedness and complication readiness activities.

Assessment of a recombinant protein from <i>Leishmania infantum</i> as a novel tool for Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL) diagnosis in VL/HIV co-infection cases

by Rhaíssa E. M. Ramos, Wagner J. T. Santos, Franklin B. Magalhães, George T. N. Diniz, Carlos H. N. Costa, Osvaldo P. de Melo Neto, Zulma M. Medeiros, Christian R. S. Reis

Visceral Leishmaniasis and HIV-AIDS coinfection (VL/HIV) is considered a life-threatening pathology when undiagnosed and untreated, due to the immunosuppression caused by both diseases. Serological tests largely used for the VL diagnosis include the direct agglutination test (DAT), ELISA and immunochromatographic (ICT) assays. For VL diagnosis in HIV infections, different studies have shown that the use of the DAT assay facilitates the VL diagnosis in co-infected patients, since the performance of the most widely used ELISA and ICT tests, based on the recombinant protein rK39, are much less efficient in HIV co-infections. In this scenario, alternative recombinant antigens may help the development of new serological diagnostic methods which may improve the VL diagnosis for the co-infection cases. This work aimed to evaluate the use of the recombinant Lci2 antigen, related to, but antigenically more diverse than rK39, for VL diagnosis in co-infected sera through ELISA assays. A direct comparison between recombinant Lci2 and rK39 was thus carried out. The two proteins were first tested using indirect ELISA with sera from VL afflicted individuals and healthy controls, with similar performances. They were then tested with two different sets of VL/HIV co-infected cases and a significant drop in performance, for one of these groups, was observed for rK39 (32% sensitivity), but not for Lci2 (98% sensitivity). In fact, an almost perfect agreement (Kappa: 0.93) between the Lci2 ELISA and DAT was observed for the coinfected VL/HIV patients. Lci2 then has the potential to be used as a new tool for the VL diagnosis of VL/HIV co-infections.

Comparison of machine-learning methodologies for accurate diagnosis of sepsis using microarray gene expression data

by Dominik Schaack, Markus A. Weigand, Florian Uhle

We investigate the feasibility of molecular-level sample classification of sepsis using microarray gene expression data merged by in silico meta-analysis. Publicly available data series were extracted from NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus and EMBL-EBI ArrayExpress to create a comprehensive meta-analysis microarray expression set (meta-expression set). Measurements had to be obtained via microarray-technique from whole blood samples of adult or pediatric patients with sepsis diagnosed based on international consensus definition immediately after admission to the intensive care unit. We aggregate trauma patients, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) patients, and healthy controls in a non-septic entity. Differential expression (DE) analysis is compared with machine-learning-based solutions like decision tree (DT), random forest (RF), support vector machine (SVM), and deep-learning neural networks (DNNs). We evaluated classifier training and discrimination performance in 100 independent iterations. To test diagnostic resilience, we gradually degraded expression data in multiple levels. Clustering of expression values based on DE genes results in partial identification of sepsis samples. In contrast, RF, SVM, and DNN provide excellent diagnostic performance measured in terms of accuracy and area under the curve (>0.96 and >0.99, respectively). We prove DNNs as the most resilient methodology, virtually unaffected by targeted removal of DE genes. By surpassing most other published solutions, the presented approach substantially augments current diagnostic capability in intensive care medicine.