PLoS Medicine

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COVID-19 in Africa: Catalyzing change for sustainable development

Lu, 29/11/2021 - 15:00

by Salim S. Abdool Karim, Segenet Kelemu, Cheryl Baxter

Salim Abdool Karim, Segenet Kelemu and Cheryl Baxter discuss COVID-19 impacts and adaptations in Africa.

Cash transfers for HIV prevention: A systematic review

Lu, 29/11/2021 - 15:00

by Marie C. D. Stoner, Kelly Kilburn, Peter Godfrey-Faussett, Peter Ghys, Audrey E. Pettifor

Background

Given the success of cash programs in improving health outcomes and addressing upstream drivers of HIV risk such as poverty and education, there has been an increasing interest in their potential to improve HIV prevention and care outcomes. Recent reviews have documented the impacts of structural interventions on HIV prevention, but evidence about the effects of cash transfer programs on HIV prevention has not been systematically reviewed for several years.

Methods and findings

We did a systematic review of published and unpublished literature to update and summarize the evidence around cash programs for HIV prevention from January 2000 to December 17, 2020. We included studies with either a cash transfer intervention, savings program, or program to reduce school costs. Included studies measured the program’s impact on HIV infection, other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or sexual behaviors. We screened 1,565 studies and examined 78 in full-text review to identify a total of 45 peer-reviewed publications and reports from 27 different interventions or populations. We did not do a meta-analysis given the range of outcomes and types of cash transfer interventions assessed. Most studies were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa (N = 23; South Africa, Tanzania, Malawi, Lesotho, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and eSwatini) followed by Mexico (N = 2), the United States (N = 1), and Mongolia (N = 1)). Of the 27 studies, 20 (72%) were randomized trials, 5 (20%) were observational studies, 1 (4%) was a case–control study, and 1 (4%) was quasi-experimental. Most studies did not identify a strong association between the program and sexual behaviors, except sexual debut (10/18 finding an association; 56%). Eight of the 27 studies included HIV biomarkers, but only 3 found a large reduction in HIV incidence or prevalence, and the rest found no statistically significant association. Of the studies that identified a statistically significant association with other STIs (N = 4/8), 2 involved incentives for staying free of the STI, and the other 2 were cash transfer programs for adolescent girls that had conditionalities related to secondary schooling. Study limitations include the small number of studies in key populations and examining interventions to reduce school costs and matched saving programs.

Conclusions

The evidence base for large-scale impacts of cash transfers reducing HIV risk is limited; however, government social protection cash transfer programs and programs that incentivize school attendance among adolescent girls and young women show the greatest promise for HIV prevention.

Lay testing cadres and point-of-care diagnostic tests for HIV and other diseases: An essential combination in health service delivery

Me, 24/11/2021 - 15:00

by Zibusiso Ndlovu, Tom Ellman

Zibusiso Ndlovu and Tom Ellman discuss the potential value of task sharing in provision of testing for HIV and other infectious diseases.

Prevalence and determinants of healthcare avoidance during the COVID-19 pandemic: A population-based cross-sectional study

Ma, 23/11/2021 - 15:00

by Marije J. Splinter, Premysl Velek, M. Kamran Ikram, Brenda C. T. Kieboom, Robin P. Peeters, Patrick J. E. Bindels, M. Arfan Ikram, Frank J. Wolters, Maarten J. G. Leening, Evelien I. T. de Schepper, Silvan Licher

Background

During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the number of consultations and diagnoses in primary care and referrals to specialist care declined substantially compared to prepandemic levels. Beyond deferral of elective non-COVID-19 care by healthcare providers, it is unclear to what extent healthcare avoidance by community-dwelling individuals contributed to this decline in routine healthcare utilisation. Moreover, it is uncertain which specific symptoms were left unheeded by patients and which determinants predispose to healthcare avoidance in the general population. In this cross-sectional study, we assessed prevalence of healthcare avoidance during the pandemic from a patient perspective, including symptoms that were left unheeded, as well as determinants of healthcare avoidance.

Methods and findings

On April 20, 2020, a paper COVID-19 survey addressing healthcare utilisation, socioeconomic factors, mental and physical health, medication use, and COVID-19–specific symptoms was sent out to 8,732 participants from the population-based Rotterdam Study (response rate 73%). All questionnaires were returned before July 10, 2020. By hand, prevalence of healthcare avoidance was subsequently verified through free text analysis of medical records of general practitioners. Odds ratios (ORs) for avoidance were determined using logistic regression models, adjusted for age, sex, and history of chronic diseases. We found that 1,142 of 5,656 included participants (20.2%) reported having avoided healthcare. Of those, 414 participants (36.3%) reported symptoms that potentially warranted urgent evaluation, including limb weakness (13.6%), palpitations (10.8%), and chest pain (10.2%). Determinants related to avoidance were older age (adjusted OR 1.14 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08 to 1.21]), female sex (1.58 [1.38 to 1.82]), low educational level (primary education versus higher vocational/university 1.21 [1.01 to 1.46), poor self-appreciated health (per level decrease 2.00 [1.80 to 2.22]), unemployment (versus employed 2.29 [1.54 to 3.39]), smoking (1.34 [1.08 to 1.65]), concern about contracting COVID-19 (per level increase 1.28 [1.19 to 1.38]) and symptoms of depression (per point increase 1.13 [1.11 to 1.14]) and anxiety (per point increase 1.16 [1.14 to 1.18]). Study limitations included uncertainty about (perceived) severity of the reported symptoms and potentially limited generalisability given the ethnically homogeneous study population.

Conclusions

In this population-based cross-sectional study, 1 in 5 individuals avoided healthcare during lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic, often for potentially urgent symptoms. Healthcare avoidance was strongly associated with female sex, fragile self-appreciated health, and high levels of depression and anxiety. These results emphasise the need for targeted public education urging these vulnerable patients to timely seek medical care for their symptoms to mitigate major health consequences.

Adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with diabetes-related microvascular disease and risks of disease progression in pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Lu, 22/11/2021 - 15:00

by Sophie Relph, Trusha Patel, Louisa Delaney, Soha Sobhy, Shakila Thangaratinam

Background

The rise in the global prevalence of diabetes, particularly among younger people, has led to an increase in the number of pregnant women with preexisting diabetes, many of whom have diabetes-related microvascular complications. We aimed to estimate the magnitude of the risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes or disease progression in this population.

Methods and findings

We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis on maternal and perinatal complications in women with type 1 or 2 diabetic microvascular disease and the risk factors for worsening of microvascular disease in pregnancy using a prospective protocol (PROSPERO CRD42017076647). We searched major databases (January 1990 to July 2021) for relevant cohort studies. Study quality was assessed using the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale. We summarized the findings as odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using random effects meta-analysis. We included 56 cohort studies involving 12,819 pregnant women with diabetes; 40 from Europe and 9 from North America. Pregnant women with diabetic nephropathy were at greater risk of preeclampsia (OR 10.76, CI 6.43 to 17.99, p < 0.001), early (<34 weeks) (OR 6.90, 95% CI 3.38 to 14.06, p < 0.001) and any preterm birth (OR 4.48, CI 3.40 to 5.92, p < 0.001), and cesarean section (OR 3.04, CI 1.24 to 7.47, p = 0.015); their babies were at increased risk of perinatal death (OR 2.26, CI 1.07 to 4.75, p = 0.032), congenital abnormality (OR 2.71, CI 1.58 to 4.66, p < 0.001), small for gestational age (OR 16.89, CI 7.07 to 40.37, p < 0.001), and admission to neonatal unit (OR 2.59, CI 1.72 to 3.90, p < 0.001) than those without nephropathy. Diabetic retinopathy was associated with any preterm birth (OR 1.67, CI 1.27 to 2.20, p < 0.001) and preeclampsia (OR 2.20, CI 1.57 to 3.10, p < 0.001) but not other complications. The risks of onset or worsening of retinopathy were increased in women who were nulliparous (OR 1.75, 95% CI 1.28 to 2.40, p < 0.001), smokers (OR 2.31, 95% CI 1.25 to 4.27, p = 0.008), with existing proliferative disease (OR 2.12, 95% CI 1.11 to 4.04, p = 0.022), and longer duration of diabetes (weighted mean difference: 4.51 years, 95% CI 2.26 to 6.76, p < 0.001) than those without the risk factors. The main limitations of this analysis are the heterogeneity of definition of retinopathy and nephropathy and the inclusion of women both with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Conclusions

In pregnant women with diabetes, presence of nephropathy and/or retinopathy appear to further increase the risks of maternal complications.

Exposure to duloxetine during pregnancy and risk of congenital malformations and stillbirth: A nationwide cohort study in Denmark and Sweden

Lu, 22/11/2021 - 15:00

by Mikkel Zöllner Ankarfeldt, Janne Petersen, Jon Trærup Andersen, Hu Li, Stephen Paul Motsko, Thomas Fast, Simone Møller Hede, Espen Jimenez-Solem

Background

The prevalence of depression and the exposure to antidepressants are high among women of reproductive age and during pregnancy. Duloxetine is a selective serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) approved in the United States and Europe in 2004 for the treatment of depression. Fetal safety of duloxetine is not well established. The present study evaluates the association of exposure to duloxetine during pregnancy and the risk of major and minor congenital malformations and the risk of stillbirths.

Methods and findings

A population-based observational study was conducted based on data from registers in Sweden and Denmark. All registered births and stillbirths in the medical birth registers between 2004 and 2016 were included. Malformation diagnoses were identified up to 1 year after birth. Logistic regression analyses were used. Potential confounding was addressed through multiple regression, propensity score (PS) matching, and sensitivity analyses. Confounder variables included sociodemographic information (income, education, age, year of birth, and country), comorbidity and comedication, previous psychiatric contacts, and birth-related information (smoking during pregnancy and previous spontaneous abortions and stillbirths).Duloxetine-exposed women were compared with 4 comparators: (1) duloxetine-nonexposed women; (2) selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)-exposed women; (3) venlafaxine-exposed women; and (4) women exposed to duloxetine prior to, but not during, pregnancy. Exposure was defined as redemption of a prescription during the first trimester and throughout pregnancy for the analyses of malformations and stillbirths, respectively. Outcomes were major and minor malformations and stillbirths gathered from the national patient registers. The cohorts consisted of more than 2 million births with 1,512 duloxetine-exposed pregnancies. No increased risk for major malformations, minor malformations, or stillbirth was found across comparison groups in adjusted and PS-matched analyses. Duloxetine-exposed versus duloxetine-nonexposed PS-matched analyses showed odds ratio (OR) 0.98 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.74 to 1.30, p = 0.909) for major malformations, OR 1.09 (95% CI 0.82 to 1.45, p = 0.570) for minor malformation, and 1.18 (95% CI 0.43 to 3.19, p = 0.749) for stillbirths. For the individual malformation subtypes, some findings were statistically significant but were associated with large statistical uncertainty due to the extremely small number of events. The main limitations for the study were that the indication for duloxetine and a direct measurement of depression severity were not available to include as covariates.

Conclusions

Based on this observational register-based nationwide study with data from Sweden and Denmark, no increased risk of major or minor congenital malformations or stillbirth was associated with exposure to duloxetine during pregnancy.

Consumption of coffee and tea and risk of developing stroke, dementia, and poststroke dementia: A cohort study in the UK Biobank

Ma, 16/11/2021 - 15:00

by Yuan Zhang, Hongxi Yang, Shu Li, Wei-dong Li, Yaogang Wang

Background

Previous studies have revealed the involvement of coffee and tea in the development of stroke and dementia. However, little is known about the association between the combination of coffee and tea and the risk of stroke, dementia, and poststroke dementia. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the associations of coffee and tea separately and in combination with the risk of developing stroke and dementia.

Methods and findings

This prospective cohort study included 365,682 participants (50 to 74 years old) from the UK Biobank. Participants joined the study from 2006 to 2010 and were followed up until 2020. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the associations between coffee/tea consumption and incident stroke and dementia, adjusting for sex, age, ethnicity, qualification, income, body mass index (BMI), physical activity, alcohol status, smoking status, diet pattern, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), history of cancer, history of diabetes, history of cardiovascular arterial disease (CAD), and hypertension. Coffee and tea consumption was assessed at baseline. During a median follow-up of 11.4 years for new onset disease, 5,079 participants developed dementia, and 10,053 participants developed stroke. The associations of coffee and tea with stroke and dementia were nonlinear (P for nonlinear <0.01), and coffee intake of 2 to 3 cups/d or tea intake of 3 to 5 cups/d or their combination intake of 4 to 6 cups/d were linked with the lowest hazard ratio (HR) of incident stroke and dementia. Compared with those who did not drink tea and coffee, drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee and 2 to 3 cups of tea per day was associated with a 32% (HR 0.68, 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.79; P < 0.001) lower risk of stroke and a 28% (HR, 0.72, 95% CI, 0.59 to 0.89; P = 0.002) lower risk of dementia. Moreover, the combination of coffee and tea consumption was associated with lower risk of ischemic stroke and vascular dementia. Additionally, the combination of tea and coffee was associated with a lower risk of poststroke dementia, with the lowest risk of incident poststroke dementia at a daily consumption level of 3 to 6 cups of coffee and tea (HR, 0.52, 95% CI, 0.32 to 0.83; P = 0.007). The main limitations were that coffee and tea intake was self-reported at baseline and may not reflect long-term consumption patterns, unmeasured confounders in observational studies may result in biased effect estimates, and UK Biobank participants are not representative of the whole United Kingdom population.

Conclusions

We found that drinking coffee and tea separately or in combination were associated with lower risk of stroke and dementia. Intake of coffee alone or in combination with tea was associated with lower risk of poststroke dementia.

Educational and health outcomes of schoolchildren in local authority care in Scotland: A retrospective record linkage study

Ve, 12/11/2021 - 15:00

by Michael Fleming, James S. McLay, David Clark, Albert King, Daniel F. Mackay, Helen Minnis, Jill P. Pell

Background

Looked after children are defined as children who are in the care of their local authority. Previous studies have reported that looked after children have poorer mental and physical health, increased behavioural problems, and increased self-harm and mortality compared to peers. They also experience poorer educational outcomes, yet population-wide research into the latter is lacking, particularly in the United Kingdom. Education and health share a bidirectional relationship; therefore, it is important to dually investigate both outcomes. Our study aimed to compare educational and health outcomes for looked after children with peers, adjusting for sociodemographic, maternity, and comorbidity confounders.

Methods and findings

Linkage of 9 Scotland-wide databases, covering dispensed prescriptions, hospital admissions, maternity records, death certificates, annual pupil census, examinations, school absences/exclusions, unemployment, and looked after children provided retrospective data on 715,111 children attending Scottish schools between 2009 and 2012 (13,898 [1.9%] looked after). Compared to peers, 13,898 (1.9%) looked after children were more likely to be absent (adjusted incidence rate ratio [AIRR] 1.27, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.24 to 1.30) and excluded (AIRR 4.09, 95% CI 3.86 to 4.33) from school, have special educational need (SEN; adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 3.48, 95% CI 3.35 to 3.62) and neurodevelopmental multimorbidity (AOR 2.45, 95% CI 2.34 to 2.57), achieve the lowest level of academic attainment (AOR 5.92, 95% CI 5.17 to 6.78), and be unemployed after leaving school (AOR 2.12, 95% CI 1.96 to 2.29). They were more likely to require treatment for epilepsy (AOR 1.50, 95% CI 1.27 to 1.78), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; AOR 3.01, 95% CI 2.76 to 3.27), and depression (AOR 1.90, 95% CI 1.62 to 2.22), be hospitalised overall (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 1.23, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.28) for injury (AHR 1.80, 95% CI 1.69 to 1.91) and self-harm (AHR 5.19, 95% CI 4.66 to 5.78), and die prematurely (AHR 3.21, 95% CI 2.16 to 4.77). Compared to children looked after at home, children looked after away from home had less absenteeism (AIRR 0.35, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.36), less exclusion (AIRR 0.63, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.71), less unemployment (AOR 0.53, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.62), and better attainment (AIRR 0.31, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.40). Therefore, among those in care, being cared for away from home appeared to be a protective factor resulting in better educational outcomes. The main limitations of this study were lack of data on local authority care preschool or before 2009, total time spent in care, and age of first contact with social care.

Conclusions

Looked after children had poorer health and educational outcomes than peers independent of increased neurodevelopmental conditions and SEN. Further work is required to understand whether poorer outcomes relate to reasons for entering care, including maltreatment and adverse childhood events, neurodevelopmental vulnerabilities, or characteristics of the care system.

Small area variations and factors associated with blood pressure and body-mass index in adult women in Accra, Ghana: Bayesian spatial analysis of a representative population survey and census data

Gi, 11/11/2021 - 15:00

by Sierra N. Clark, James E. Bennett, Raphael E. Arku, Allan G. Hill, Günther Fink, Richard M. Adanu, Richard B. Biritwum, Rudolph Darko, Ayaga Bawah, Rosemary B. Duda, Majid Ezzati

Background

Body-mass index (BMI) and blood pressure (BP) levels are rising in sub-Saharan African cities, particularly among women. However, there is very limited information on how much they vary within cities, which could inform targeted and equitable health policies. Our study aimed to analyse spatial variations in BMI and BP for adult women at the small area level in the city of Accra, Ghana.

Methods and findings

We combined a representative survey of adult women’s health in Accra, Ghana (2008 to 2009) with a 10% random sample of the national census (2010). We applied a hierarchical model with a spatial term to estimate the associations of BMI and systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) with demographic, socioeconomic, behavioural, and environmental factors. We then used the model to estimate BMI and BP for all women in the census in Accra and calculated mean BMI, SBP, and DBP for each enumeration area (EA). BMI and/or BP were positively associated with age, ethnicity (Ga), being currently married, and religion (Muslim) as their 95% credible intervals (95% CrIs) did not include zero, while BP was also negatively associated with literacy and physical activity. BMI and BP had opposite associations with socioeconomic status (SES) and alcohol consumption. In 2010, 26% of women aged 18 and older had obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), and 21% had uncontrolled hypertension (SBP ≥ 140 and/or DBP ≥ 90 mm Hg). The differences in mean BMI and BP between EAs at the 10th and 90th percentiles were 2.7 kg/m2 (BMI) and in BP 7.9 mm Hg (SBP) and 4.8 mm Hg (DBP). BMI was generally higher in the more affluent eastern parts of Accra, and BP was higher in the western part of the city. A limitation of our study was that the 2010 census dataset used for predicting small area variations is potentially outdated; the results should be updated when the next census data are available, to the contemporary population, and changes over time should be evaluated.

Conclusions

We observed that variation of BMI and BP across neighbourhoods within Accra was almost as large as variation across countries among women globally. Localised measures are needed to address this unequal public health challenge in Accra.

An intervention to improve teacher well-being support and training to support students in UK high schools (the WISE study): A cluster randomised controlled trial

Gi, 11/11/2021 - 15:00

by Judi Kidger, Nicholas Turner, William Hollingworth, Rhiannon Evans, Sarah Bell, Rowan Brockman, Lauren Copeland, Harriet Fisher, Sarah Harding, Jillian Powell, Ricardo Araya, Rona Campbell, Tamsin Ford, David Gunnell, Simon Murphy, Richard Morris

Background

Teachers are at heightened risk of poor mental health and well-being, which is likely to impact on the support they provide to students, and student outcomes. We conducted a cluster randomised controlled trial, to test whether an intervention to improve mental health support and training for high school teachers led to improved mental health and well-being for teachers and students, compared to usual practice. We also conducted a cost evaluation of the intervention.

Methods and findings

The intervention comprised (i) Mental Health First Aid training for teachers to support students; (ii) a mental health awareness session; and (iii) a confidential staff peer support service. In total 25 mainstream, non-fee-paying secondary schools stratified by geographical area and free school meal entitlement were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 12) or control group (n = 13) after collection of baseline measures. We analysed data using mixed-effects repeated measures models in the intention-to-treat population, adjusted for stratification variables, sex, and years of experience. The primary outcome was teacher well-being (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale). Secondary outcomes were teacher depression, absence, and presenteeism, and student well-being, mental health difficulties, attendance, and attainment. Follow-up was at months 12 (T1) and 24 (T2). We collected process data to test the logic model underpinning the intervention, to aid interpretation of the findings. A total of 1,722 teachers were included in the primary analysis. Teacher well-being did not differ between groups at T2 (intervention mean well-being score 47.5, control group mean well-being score 48.4, adjusted mean difference −0.90, 95% CI –2.07 to 0.27, p = 0.130). The only effect on secondary outcomes was higher teacher-reported absence among the intervention group at T2 (intervention group median number of days absent 0, control group median number of days absent 0, ratio of geometric means 1.04, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.09, p = 0.042). Process measures indicated little change in perceived mental health support, quality of relationships, and work-related stress. The average cost of the intervention was £9,103 per school. The study’s main limitations were a lack of blinding of research participants and the self-report nature of the outcome measures.

Conclusions

In this study, we observed no improvements to teacher or student mental health following the intervention, possibly due to a lack of impact on key drivers of poor mental health within the school environment. Future research should focus on structural and cultural changes to the school environment, which may be more effective at improving teacher and student mental health and well-being.

Trial registration

www.isrctn.com ISRCTN95909211.

Grade repetition and bullying victimization in adolescents: A global cross-sectional study of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) data from 2018

Gi, 11/11/2021 - 15:00

by Qiguo Lian, Chunyan Yu, Xiaowen Tu, Minglin Deng, Tongjie Wang, Qiru Su, Xiayun Zuo

Background

Grade repetition is practiced worldwide and varies considerably across the globe. Globally, around 32.2 million students repeated a grade at the primary education level in 2010. Although a large body of research has documented grade repetition’s academic and non-academic effects, the limited evidence on associations between grade repetition and school bullying is inconsistent and ambiguous. This study aimed to investigate the global association of grade repetition with bullying victimization in a large-scale school-based cross-sectional study.

Methods and findings

We used the latest global data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018. PISA 2018 was conducted between March and August 2018 in 80 countries and economies among students aged 15–16 years attending secondary education. The students reported their experiences of repeating a grade at any time point before the survey and of being bullied in the past 12 months. The outcome measures were 6 types of bullying victimization. We accounted for the complex survey design and used multivariate logistic regression models to estimate the odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of grade repetition with bullying victimization after adjusting for potential confounders (sex; age group; migrant status; school type; economic, social, and cultural status; and parental emotional support). This study included 465,146 students (234,218 girls and 230,928 boys) with complete data on grade repetition and bullying victimization in 74 countries and economies. The lifetime prevalence of grade repetition was 12.26%, and 30.32% of students experienced bullying at least a few times a month during the past 12 months. Grade repetition was statistically significantly associated with each type of bullying victimization. The OR (95% CI) of overall bullying victimization for grade repeaters compared with their promoted peers was 1.42 (95% CI 1.32–1.52, p < 0.001). The sex-specific analysis produced similar results in both boys and girls. Furthermore, girls who repeated a grade had higher risks of being made fun of, being threatened, having possessions taken away, and being pushed around than boys. The major limitation is that this study only included students attending schools and therefore may be subject to possible selection bias. In addition, the cross-sectional design hinders us from establishing causality between grade repetition and bullying victimization.

Conclusions

In this study, we observed that, globally, both boys and girls who repeat a grade are at increased risk of being bullied compared with promoted peers, but girls may experience higher risks than boys of specific types of bullying associated with repeating a grade. These findings provide evidence for the association of grade repetition with bullying victimization. Sex differences in risk of experiencing some types of bullying suggest that tailored interventions for girls who repeat a grade may be warranted.

Community control strategies for scabies: A cluster randomised noninferiority trial

Me, 10/11/2021 - 15:00

by Myra Hardy, Josaia Samuela, Mike Kama, Meciusela Tuicakau, Lucia Romani, Margot J. Whitfeld, Christopher L. King, Gary J. Weil, Tibor Schuster, Anneke C. Grobler, Daniel Engelman, Leanne J. Robinson, John M. Kaldor, Andrew C. Steer

Background

Scabies is a neglected tropical disease hyperendemic to many low- and middle-income countries. Scabies can be successfully controlled using mass drug administration (MDA) using 2 doses of ivermectin-based treatment. If effective, a strategy of 1-dose ivermectin-based MDA would have substantial advantages for implementing MDA for scabies at large scale.

Methods and findings

We did a cluster randomised, noninferiority, open-label, 3-group unblinded study comparing the effectiveness of control strategies on community prevalence of scabies at 12 months. All residents from 35 villages on 2 Fijian islands were eligible to participate. Villages were randomised 1:1:1 to 2-dose ivermectin-based MDA (IVM-2), 1-dose ivermectin-based MDA (IVM-1), or screen and treat with topical permethrin 5% for individuals with scabies and their household contacts (SAT). All groups also received diethylcarbamazine and albendazole for lymphatic filariasis control. For IVM-2 and IVM-1, oral ivermectin was dosed at 200 μg/kg and when contraindicated substituted with permethrin. We designated a noninferiority margin of 5%.We enrolled 3,812 participants at baseline (July to November 2017) from the 35 villages with median village size of 108 (range 18 to 298). Age and sex of participants were representative of the population with 51.6% male and median age of 25 years (interquartile range 10 to 47). We enrolled 3,898 at 12 months (July to November 2018). At baseline, scabies prevalence was similar in all groups: IVM-2: 11.7% (95% confidence interval (CI) 8.5 to 16.0); IVM-1: 15.2% (95% CI 9.4 to 23.8); SAT: 13.6% (95% CI 7.9 to 22.4). At 12 months, scabies decreased substantially in all groups: IVM-2: 1.3% (95% CI 0.6 to 2.5); IVM-1: 2.7% (95% CI 1.1 to 6.5); SAT: 1.1% (95% CI 0.6 to 2.0). The risk difference in scabies prevalence at 12 months between the IVM-1 and IVM-2 groups was 1.2% (95% CI −0.2 to 2.7, p = 0.10). Limitations of the study included the method of scabies diagnosis by nonexperts, a lower baseline prevalence than anticipated, and the addition of diethylcarbamazine and albendazole to scabies treatment.

Conclusions

All 3 strategies substantially reduced prevalence. One-dose was noninferior to 2-dose ivermectin-based MDA, as was a screen and treat approach, for community control of scabies. Further trials comparing these approaches in varied settings are warranted to inform global scabies control strategies.

Trial registration

Clinitrials.gov NCT03177993 and ANZCTR N12617000738325.

Integrating HIV services and other health services: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ma, 09/11/2021 - 15:00

by Caroline A. Bulstra, Jan A. C. Hontelez, Moritz Otto, Anna Stepanova, Erik Lamontagne, Anna Yakusik, Wafaa M. El-Sadr, Tsitsi Apollo, Miriam Rabkin, UNAIDS Expert Group on Integration , Rifat Atun, Till Bärnighausen

Background

Integration of HIV services with other health services has been proposed as an important strategy to boost the sustainability of the global HIV response. We conducted a systematic and comprehensive synthesis of the existing scientific evidence on the impact of service integration on the HIV care cascade, health outcomes, and cost-effectiveness.

Methods and findings

We reviewed the global quantitative empirical evidence on integration published between 1 January 2010 and 10 September 2021. We included experimental and observational studies that featured both an integration intervention and a comparator in our review. Of the 7,118 unique peer-reviewed English-language studies that our search algorithm identified, 114 met all of our selection criteria for data extraction. Most of the studies (90) were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily in East Africa (55) and Southern Africa (24). The most common forms of integration were (i) HIV testing and counselling added to non-HIV services and (ii) non-HIV services added to antiretroviral therapy (ART). The most commonly integrated non-HIV services were maternal and child healthcare, tuberculosis testing and treatment, primary healthcare, family planning, and sexual and reproductive health services. Values for HIV care cascade outcomes tended to be better in integrated services: uptake of HIV testing and counselling (pooled risk ratio [RR] across 37 studies: 1.67 [95% CI 1.41–1.99], p < 0.001), ART initiation coverage (pooled RR across 19 studies: 1.42 [95% CI 1.16–1.75], p = 0.002), time until ART initiation (pooled RR across 5 studies: 0.45 [95% CI 0.20–1.00], p = 0.050), retention in HIV care (pooled RR across 19 studies: 1.68 [95% CI 1.05–2.69], p = 0.031), and viral suppression (pooled RR across 9 studies: 1.19 [95% CI 1.03–1.37], p = 0.025). Also, treatment success for non-HIV-related diseases and conditions and the uptake of non-HIV services were commonly higher in integrated services. We did not find any significant differences for the following outcomes in our meta-analyses: HIV testing yield, ART adherence, HIV-free survival among infants, and HIV and non-HIV mortality. We could not conduct meta-analyses for several outcomes (HIV infections averted, costs, and cost-effectiveness), because our systematic review did not identify sufficient poolable studies. Study limitations included possible publication bias of studies with significant or favourable findings and comparatively weak evidence from some world regions and on integration of services for key populations in the HIV response.

Conclusions

Integration of HIV services and other health services tends to improve health and health systems outcomes. Despite some scientific limitations, the global evidence shows that service integration can be a valuable strategy to boost the sustainability of the HIV response and contribute to the goal of ‘ending AIDS by 2030’, while simultaneously supporting progress towards universal health coverage.

Evidence-based policymaking when evidence is incomplete: The case of HIV programme integration

Ma, 09/11/2021 - 15:00

by Jan A. C. Hontelez, Caroline A. Bulstra, Anna Yakusik, Erik Lamontagne, Till W. Bärnighausen, Rifat Atun

Jan Hontelez and co-authors discuss the use of different types of evidence to inform HIV program integration.

Drug-induced orthostatic hypotension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Ma, 09/11/2021 - 15:00

by Cini Bhanu, Danielle Nimmons, Irene Petersen, Mine Orlu, Daniel Davis, Hajra Hussain, Sanuri Magammanage, Kate Walters

Background

Drug-induced orthostatic hypotension (OH) is common, and its resulting cerebral hypoperfusion is linked to adverse outcomes including falls, strokes, cognitive impairment, and increased mortality. The extent to which specific medications are associated with OH remains unclear.

Methods and findings

We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the extent to which specific drug groups are associated with OH. EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Web of Science databases were searched from inception through 23 November 2020. Placebo-controlled randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on any drug reporting on OH as an adverse effect in adults (≥18 years) were eligible. Three authors extracted data on the drug, OH, dose, participant characteristics, and study setting. The revised Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomised trials (RoB 2) was used to appraise evidence. Summary odds ratios (ORs) were estimated for OH using fixed effects Mantel–Haenszel statistics. We conducted subgroup analysis on validity of OH measurement, drug dose, risk of bias, age, and comorbidity. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) tool was used to summarise the certainty of evidence. Of 36,940 citations, 69 eligible RCTs were included in the meta-analysis comprising 27,079 participants. Compared with placebo, beta-blockers and tricyclic antidepressants were associated with increased odds of OH (OR 7.76 [95% CI 2.51, 24.03]; OR 6.30 [95% CI 2.86, 13.91]). Alpha-blockers, antipsychotics, and SGLT-2 inhibitors were associated with up to 2-fold increased odds of OH, compared to placebo. There was no statistically significant difference in odds of OH with vasodilators (CCBs, ACE inhibitors/ARBs, SSRIs), compared to placebo. Limitations of this study are as follows: data limited to placebo-controlled studies, (excluding head-to-head trials), many RCTs excluded older participants; therefore results may be amplified in older patients in the clinical setting. The study protocol is publicly available on PROSPERO (CRD42020168697).

Conclusions

Medications prescribed for common conditions (including depression, diabetes, and lower urinary tract symptoms) were associated with significantly increased odds of OH. Drugs causing sympathetic inhibition were associated with significantly increased odds of OH, while most vasodilators were associated with small nonsignificant differences in odds of OH, compared to placebo. Drugs targeting multiple parts of the orthostatic blood pressure (BP) reflex pathway (e.g. sympathetic inhibition, vasodilation, cardio-inhibitory effects) may carry cumulative risk, suggesting that individuals with polypharmacy could benefit from postural BP monitoring.

SARS-CoV-2 vaccine uptake in a multi-ethnic UK healthcare workforce: A cross-sectional study

Ve, 05/11/2021 - 15:00

by Christopher A. Martin, Colette Marshall, Prashanth Patel, Charles Goss, David R. Jenkins, Claire Ellwood, Linda Barton, Arthur Price, Nigel J. Brunskill, Kamlesh Khunti, Manish Pareek

Background

Healthcare workers (HCWs) and ethnic minority groups are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and adverse outcomes. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccination is now available for frontline UK HCWs; however, demographic/occupational associations with vaccine uptake in this cohort are unknown. We sought to establish these associations in a large UK hospital workforce.

Methods and findings

We conducted cross-sectional surveillance examining vaccine uptake amongst all staff at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. We examined proportions of vaccinated staff stratified by demographic factors, occupation, and previous COVID-19 test results (serology/PCR) and used logistic regression to identify predictors of vaccination status after adjustment for confounders. We included 19,044 HCWs; 12,278 (64.5%) had received SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Compared to White HCWs (70.9% vaccinated), a significantly smaller proportion of ethnic minority HCWs were vaccinated (South Asian, 58.5%; Black, 36.8%; p < 0.001 for both). After adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity, deprivation, occupation, SARS-CoV-2 serology/PCR results, and COVID-19-related work absences, factors found to be negatively associated with vaccine uptake were younger age, female sex, increased deprivation, pregnancy, and belonging to any non-White ethnic group (Black: adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.30, 95% CI 0.26–0.34, p < 0.001; South Asian: aOR 0.67, 95% CI 0.62–0.72, p < 0.001). Those who had previously had confirmed COVID-19 (by PCR) were less likely to be vaccinated than those who had tested negative. Limitations include data being from a single centre, lack of data on staff vaccinated outside the hospital system, and that staff may have taken up vaccination following data extraction.

Conclusions

Ethnic minority HCWs and those from more deprived areas as well as younger staff and female staff are less likely to take up SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. These findings have major implications for the delivery of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination programmes, in HCWs and the wider population, and should inform the national vaccination programme to prevent the disparities of the pandemic from widening.

Vaccination uptake amongst older adults from minority ethnic backgrounds: A systematic review

Gi, 04/11/2021 - 15:00

by Cini Bhanu, Dipesh P. Gopal, Kate Walters, Umar A. R. Chaudhry

Background

Older adults from minority ethnic backgrounds are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe infection and have increased risk of mortality. Whilst an age-based vaccination approach prioritising older groups is being implemented worldwide, vaccine hesitancy is high amongst minority ethnic groups.

Methods and findings

We conducted a systematic review and convergent synthesis to systematically examine perceptions of vaccinations amongst older adults from minority ethnic backgrounds. We included studies that reported on perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes towards vaccinations in older adults aged ≥65 years from a minority ethnic background. We excluded studies of vaccinations in investigation or development, studies focused on specific medical conditions, studies where ethnic background or age group was unidentifiable, systematic reviews, editorials, and conference abstracts. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, Virtual Health Library, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, medRxiv, and PROSPERO databases from inception to 15 July 2021. Risk of bias for studies was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. The quality of evidence of collective outcomes was estimated using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation–Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative research (GRADE–CERQual) framework. A total of 28 eligible studies conducted between 1997 and 2020 were included in the final analysis (17 quantitative surveys, 8 focus group or interview studies, 2 mixed methods studies, and 1 case–control study). The majority were US studies in English or Spanish, except for 6 studies set in Hong Kong, 2 studies in Japan, 1 study in Brazil, and 1 multi-centre study (including China, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea, Greece, UK, Brazil, and Nigeria). In total, 28,262 individuals with an estimated mean age of 69.8 years were included, 63.2% of whom were female. We summarised the common concepts and themes across studies and populations using a convergent synthesis analysis. Thirteen themes categorised as barriers or facilitators were identified and grouped into structural factors—healthcare provider and system related, patient related, and policy and operational—and were analysed by minority ethnic group. The main limitation of the study was the predominance of studies from the US and East Asia.

Conclusions

In this systematic review, we found that factors influencing vaccination uptake involve healthcare provider and system, patient-related, and governance-level factors that are specific to the older ethnic minority community being served. The evidence included in this review is supported by high or moderate certainty and can be translated to practice and policy. A tailored, multi-level approach combining increased education, access, and culturally competent discussions with trusted healthcare professionals to address health beliefs can maximise the potential impact of widespread vaccination policies.

Epidemiology of type 2 diabetes remission in Scotland in 2019: A cross-sectional population-based study

Ma, 02/11/2021 - 15:00

by Mireille Captieux, Kelly Fleetwood, Brian Kennon, Naveed Sattar, Robert Lindsay, Bruce Guthrie, Sarah H. Wild, on behalf of the Scottish Diabetes Research Network Epidemiology Group

Background

Clinical pathways are changing to incorporate support and appropriate follow-up for people to achieve remission of type 2 diabetes, but there is limited understanding of the prevalence of remission in current practice or patient characteristics associated with remission.

Methods and findings

We carried out a cross-sectional study estimating the prevalence of remission of type 2 diabetes in all adults in Scotland aged ≥30 years diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and alive on December 31, 2019. Remission of type 2 diabetes was assessed between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019. We defined remission as all HbA1c values <48 mmol/mol in the absence of glucose-lowering therapy (GLT) for a continuous duration of ≥365 days before the date of the last recorded HbA1c in 2019. Multivariable logistic regression in complete and multiply imputed datasets was used to examine characteristics associated with remission. Our cohort consisted of 162,316 individuals, all of whom had at least 1 HbA1c ≥48 mmol/mol (6.5%) at or after diagnosis of diabetes and at least 1 HbA1c recorded in 2019 (78.5% of the eligible population). Over half (56%) of our cohort was aged 65 years or over in 2019, and 64% had had type 2 diabetes for at least 6 years. Our cohort was predominantly of white ethnicity (74%), and ethnicity data were missing for 19% of the cohort. Median body mass index (BMI) at diagnosis was 32.3 kg/m2. A total of 7,710 people (4.8% [95% confidence interval [CI] 4.7 to 4.9]) were in remission of type 2 diabetes. Factors associated with remission were older age (odds ratio [OR] 1.48 [95% CI 1.34 to 1.62] P < 0.001) for people aged ≥75 years compared to 45 to 54 year group), HbA1c <48 mmol/mol at diagnosis (OR 1.31 [95% CI 1.24 to 1.39] P < 0.001) compared to 48 to 52 mmol/mol), no previous history of GLT (OR 14.6 [95% CI 13.7 to 15.5] P < 0.001), weight loss from diagnosis to 2019 (OR 4.45 [95% CI 3.89 to 5.10] P < 0.001) for ≥15 kg of weight loss compared to 0 to 4.9 kg weight gain), and previous bariatric surgery (OR 11.9 [95% CI 9.41 to 15.1] P < 0.001). Limitations of the study include the use of a limited subset of possible definitions of remission of type 2 diabetes, missing data, and inability to identify self-funded bariatric surgery.

Conclusions

In this study, we found that 4.8% of people with type 2 diabetes who had at least 1 HbA1c ≥48 mmol/mol (6.5%) after diagnosis of diabetes and had at least 1 HbA1c recorded in 2019 had evidence of type 2 diabetes remission. Guidelines are required for management and follow-up of this group and may differ depending on whether weight loss and remission of diabetes were intentional or unintentional. Our findings can be used to evaluate the impact of future initiatives on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes remission.

Liveable residential space, residential density, and hypertension in Hong Kong: A population-based cohort study

Ma, 02/11/2021 - 15:00

by Chinmoy Sarkar, Ka Yan Lai, Michael Y. Ni, Sarika Kumari, Gabriel M. Leung, Chris Webster

Background

Hypertension is a leading preventable risk factor of chronic disease and all-cause mortality. Housing is a fundamental social determinant of health. Yet, little is known about the impacts of liveable residential space and density on hypertension.

Methods and findings

This retrospective observational study (median follow-up of 2.2 years) leveraged the FAMILY Cohort, a large territory-wide cohort in Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China to quantify associations of objectively measured liveable space and residential density with blood pressure outcomes among adults aged ≥16 years. Blood pressure outcomes comprised diastolic blood pressure (DBP), systolic blood pressure (SBP), mean arterial pressure (MAP), and hypertension. Liveable space was measured as residential floor area, and density was assessed using the number of residential units per building block and neighborhood residential unit density within predefined catchments. Multivariable regression models examined associations of liveable floor area and residential density with prevalent and incident hypertension. We investigated effect modifications by age, sex, income, employment status, and housing type. Propensity score matching was further employed to match a subset of participants who moved to smaller residences at follow-up with equivalent controls who did not move, and generalized linear models examined the impact of moving to smaller residences upon blood pressure outcomes. Our fully adjusted models of prevalent hypertension outcomes comprised 30,439 participants at baseline, while 13,895 participants were available for incident models at follow-up. We found that each interquartile range (IQR) increment in liveable floor area was associated with lower DBP (beta [β] = −0.269 mm Hg, 95% confidence interval [CI]: −0.419 to −0.118, p < 0.001), SBP (β = −0.317 mm Hg, −0.551 to −0.084, p = 0.008), MAP (β = −0.285 mm Hg, −0.451 to −0.119 with p < 0.001), and prevalent hypertension (odds ratio [OR] = 0.955, 0.918 to 0.993, p = 0.022) at baseline. Each IQR increment in residential units per building block was associated with higher DBP (β = 0.477 mm Hg, 0.212 to 0.742, p = <0.001), SBP (β = 0.750 mm Hg, 0.322 to 1.177, p = <0.001), MAP (β = 0.568 mm Hg, 0.269 to 0.866, p < 0.001), and prevalent hypertension (OR = 1.091, 1.024 to 1.162, p = 0.007). Each IQR increase in neighborhood residential density within 0.5-mi street catchment was associated with lower DBP (β = −0.289 mm Hg, −0.441 to −0.137, p = <0.001), SBP (β = −0.411 mm Hg, −0.655 to −0.168, p < 0.001), MAP (β = −0.330 mm Hg, −0.501 to −0.159, p = <0.001), and lower prevalent hypertension (OR = 0.933, 0.899 to 0.969, p < 0.001). In the longitudinal analyses, each IQR increment in liveable floor area was associated with lower DBP (β = −0.237 mm Hg, −0.431 to −0.043, p = 0.016), MAP (β = −0.244 mm Hg, −0.444 to −0.043, p = 0.017), and incident hypertension (adjusted OR = 0.909, 0.836 to 0.988, p = 0.025). The inverse associations between larger liveable area and blood pressure outcomes were more pronounced among women and those residing in public housing. In the propensity-matched analysis, participants moving to residences of lower liveable floor area were associated with higher odds of incident hypertension in reference to those who did not move (OR = 1.623, 1.173 to 2.199, p = 0.002). The major limitations of the study are unmeasured residual confounding and loss to follow-up.

Conclusions

We disentangled the association of micro-, meso-, and macrolevel residential densities with hypertension and found that higher liveable floor area and neighborhood scale residential density were associated with lower odds of hypertension. These findings suggest adequate housing in the form of provisioning of sufficient liveable space and optimizing residential density at the building block, and neighborhood levels should be investigated as a potential population-wide preventive strategy for lowering hypertension and associated chronic diseases.