Publications by authors named "Aziz Sheikh"

837 Publications

Physical, cognitive, and mental health impacts of COVID-19 after hospitalisation (PHOSP-COVID): a UK multicentre, prospective cohort study.

Lancet Respir Med 2021 Oct 7. Epub 2021 Oct 7.

Hywel Dda University Health Board, Wales, UK; University of Swansea, Swansea, UK; Respiratory Innovation Wales, Llanelli, UK.

Background: The impact of COVID-19 on physical and mental health and employment after hospitalisation with acute disease is not well understood. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of COVID-19-related hospitalisation on health and employment, to identify factors associated with recovery, and to describe recovery phenotypes.

Methods: The Post-hospitalisation COVID-19 study (PHOSP-COVID) is a multicentre, long-term follow-up study of adults (aged ≥18 years) discharged from hospital in the UK with a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19, involving an assessment between 2 and 7 months after discharge, including detailed recording of symptoms, and physiological and biochemical testing. Multivariable logistic regression was done for the primary outcome of patient-perceived recovery, with age, sex, ethnicity, body-mass index, comorbidities, and severity of acute illness as covariates. A post-hoc cluster analysis of outcomes for breathlessness, fatigue, mental health, cognitive impairment, and physical performance was done using the clustering large applications k-medoids approach. The study is registered on the ISRCTN Registry (ISRCTN10980107).

Findings: We report findings for 1077 patients discharged from hospital between March 5 and Nov 30, 2020, who underwent assessment at a median of 5·9 months (IQR 4·9-6·5) after discharge. Participants had a mean age of 58 years (SD 13); 384 (36%) were female, 710 (69%) were of white ethnicity, 288 (27%) had received mechanical ventilation, and 540 (50%) had at least two comorbidities. At follow-up, only 239 (29%) of 830 participants felt fully recovered, 158 (20%) of 806 had a new disability (assessed by the Washington Group Short Set on Functioning), and 124 (19%) of 641 experienced a health-related change in occupation. Factors associated with not recovering were female sex, middle age (40-59 years), two or more comorbidities, and more severe acute illness. The magnitude of the persistent health burden was substantial but only weakly associated with the severity of acute illness. Four clusters were identified with different severities of mental and physical health impairment (n=767): very severe (131 patients, 17%), severe (159, 21%), moderate along with cognitive impairment (127, 17%), and mild (350, 46%). Of the outcomes used in the cluster analysis, all were closely related except for cognitive impairment. Three (3%) of 113 patients in the very severe cluster, nine (7%) of 129 in the severe cluster, 36 (36%) of 99 in the moderate cluster, and 114 (43%) of 267 in the mild cluster reported feeling fully recovered. Persistently elevated serum C-reactive protein was positively associated with cluster severity.

Interpretation: We identified factors related to not recovering after hospital admission with COVID-19 at 6 months after discharge (eg, female sex, middle age, two or more comorbidities, and more acute severe illness), and four different recovery phenotypes. The severity of physical and mental health impairments were closely related, whereas cognitive health impairments were independent. In clinical care, a proactive approach is needed across the acute severity spectrum, with interdisciplinary working, wide access to COVID-19 holistic clinical services, and the potential to stratify care.

Funding: UK Research and Innovation and National Institute for Health Research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00383-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8497028PMC
October 2021

Risk prediction models for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease: A systematic assessment with particular reference to Qatar.

Qatar Med J 2021 26;2021(2):42. Epub 2021 Sep 26.

Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety, Strategic Planning and Performance Department, Ministry of Public Health, State of Qatar.

Background: Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is a common disease in the State of Qatar and results in considerable morbidity, impairment of quality of life and mortality. The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Pooled Cohort Equations (PCE) is currently used in Qatar to identify those at high risk of ASCVD. However, it is unclear if this is the optimal ASCVD risk prediction model for use in Qatar's ethnically diverse population.

Aims: This systematic review aimed to identify, assess the methodological quality of and compare the properties of established ASCVD risk prediction models for the Qatari population.

Methods: Two reviewers performed head-to-head comparisons of established ASCVD risk calculators systematically. Studies were independently screened according to predefined eligibility criteria and critically appraised using Prediction Model Risk Of Bias Assessment Tool. Data were descriptively summarized and narratively synthesized with reporting of key statistical properties of the models.

Results: We identified 20,487 studies, of which 41 studies met our eligibility criteria. We identified 16 unique risk prediction models. Overall, 50% (n = 8) of the risk prediction models were judged to be at low risk of bias. Only 13% of the studies (n = 2) were judged at low risk of bias for applicability, namely, PREDICT and QRISK3.Only the PREDICT risk calculator scored low risk in both domains.

Conclusions: There is no existing ASCVD risk calculator particularly well suited for use in Qatar's ethnically diverse population. Of the available models, PREDICT and QRISK3 appear most appropriate because of their inclusion of ethnicity. In the absence of a locally derived ASCVD for Qatar, there is merit in a formal head-to-head comparison between PCE, which is currently in use, and PREDICT and QRISK3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5339/qmj.2021.42DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8475266PMC
September 2021

COVID-19 hospital admissions and deaths after BNT162b2 and ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccinations in 2·57 million people in Scotland (EAVE II): a prospective cohort study.

Lancet Respir Med 2021 Sep 29. Epub 2021 Sep 29.

Public Health Scotland, Glasgow, UK; Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.

Background: The UK COVID-19 vaccination programme has prioritised vaccination of those at the highest risk of COVID-19 mortality and hospitalisation. The programme was rolled out in Scotland during winter 2020-21, when SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were at their highest since the pandemic started, despite social distancing measures being in place. We aimed to estimate the frequency of COVID-19 hospitalisation or death in people who received at least one vaccine dose and characterise these individuals.

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study using the Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 (EAVE II) national surveillance platform, which contained linked vaccination, primary care, RT-PCR testing, hospitalisation, and mortality records for 5·4 million people (around 99% of the population) in Scotland. Individuals were followed up from receiving their first dose of the BNT162b2 (Pfizer-BioNTech) or ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (Oxford-AstraZeneca) COVID-19 vaccines until admission to hospital for COVID-19, death, or the end of the study period on April 18, 2021. We used a time-dependent Poisson regression model to estimate rate ratios (RRs) for demographic and clinical factors associated with COVID-19 hospitalisation or death 14 days or more after the first vaccine dose, stratified by vaccine type.

Findings: Between Dec 8, 2020, and April 18, 2021, 2 572 008 individuals received their first dose of vaccine-841 090 (32·7%) received BNT162b2 and 1 730 918 (67·3%) received ChAdOx1. 1196 (<0·1%) individuals were admitted to hospital or died due to COVID-19 illness (883 hospitalised, of whom 228 died, and 313 who died due to COVID-19 without hospitalisation) 14 days or more after their first vaccine dose. These severe COVID-19 outcomes were associated with older age (≥80 years vs 18-64 years adjusted RR 4·75, 95% CI 3·85-5·87), comorbidities (five or more risk groups vs less than five risk groups 4·24, 3·34-5·39), hospitalisation in the previous 4 weeks (3·00, 2·47-3·65), high-risk occupations (ten or more previous COVID-19 tests vs less than ten previous COVID-19 tests 2·14, 1·62-2·81), care home residence (1·63, 1·32-2·02), socioeconomic deprivation (most deprived quintile vs least deprived quintile 1·57, 1·30-1·90), being male (1·27, 1·13-1·43), and being an ex-smoker (ex-smoker vs non-smoker 1·18, 1·01-1·38). A history of COVID-19 before vaccination was protective (0·40, 0·29-0·54).

Interpretation: COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths were uncommon 14 days or more after the first vaccine dose in this national analysis in the context of a high background incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and with extensive social distancing measures in place. Sociodemographic and clinical features known to increase the risk of severe disease in unvaccinated populations were also associated with severe outcomes in people receiving their first dose of vaccine and could help inform case management and future vaccine policy formulation.

Funding: UK Research and Innovation (Medical Research Council), Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Scottish Government, and Health Data Research UK.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00380-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8480963PMC
September 2021

Accelerating health information technology capabilities across England's National Health Service.

Lancet Digit Health 2021 Sep 28. Epub 2021 Sep 28.

Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9DX, UK.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(21)00145-XDOI Listing
September 2021

Risk prediction of covid-19 related death and hospital admission in adults after covid-19 vaccination: national prospective cohort study.

BMJ 2021 09 17;374:n2244. Epub 2021 Sep 17.

Division of Primary Care, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.

Objectives: To derive and validate risk prediction algorithms to estimate the risk of covid-19 related mortality and hospital admission in UK adults after one or two doses of covid-19 vaccination.

Design: Prospective, population based cohort study using the QResearch database linked to data on covid-19 vaccination, SARS-CoV-2 results, hospital admissions, systemic anticancer treatment, radiotherapy, and the national death and cancer registries.

Settings: Adults aged 19-100 years with one or two doses of covid-19 vaccination between 8 December 2020 and 15 June 2021.

Main Outcome Measures: Primary outcome was covid-19 related death. Secondary outcome was covid-19 related hospital admission. Outcomes were assessed from 14 days after each vaccination dose. Models were fitted in the derivation cohort to derive risk equations using a range of predictor variables. Performance was evaluated in a separate validation cohort of general practices.

Results: Of 6 952 440 vaccinated patients in the derivation cohort, 5 150 310 (74.1%) had two vaccine doses. Of 2031 covid-19 deaths and 1929 covid-19 hospital admissions, 81 deaths (4.0%) and 71 admissions (3.7%) occurred 14 days or more after the second vaccine dose. The risk algorithms included age, sex, ethnic origin, deprivation, body mass index, a range of comorbidities, and SARS-CoV-2 infection rate. Incidence of covid-19 mortality increased with age and deprivation, male sex, and Indian and Pakistani ethnic origin. Cause specific hazard ratios were highest for patients with Down's syndrome (12.7-fold increase), kidney transplantation (8.1-fold), sickle cell disease (7.7-fold), care home residency (4.1-fold), chemotherapy (4.3-fold), HIV/AIDS (3.3-fold), liver cirrhosis (3.0-fold), neurological conditions (2.6-fold), recent bone marrow transplantation or a solid organ transplantation ever (2.5-fold), dementia (2.2-fold), and Parkinson's disease (2.2-fold). Other conditions with increased risk (ranging from 1.2-fold to 2.0-fold increases) included chronic kidney disease, blood cancer, epilepsy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, thromboembolism, peripheral vascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. A similar pattern of associations was seen for covid-19 related hospital admissions. No evidence indicated that associations differed after the second dose, although absolute risks were reduced. The risk algorithm explained 74.1% (95% confidence interval 71.1% to 77.0%) of the variation in time to covid-19 death in the validation cohort. Discrimination was high, with a D statistic of 3.46 (95% confidence interval 3.19 to 3.73) and C statistic of 92.5. Performance was similar after each vaccine dose. In the top 5% of patients with the highest predicted covid-19 mortality risk, sensitivity for identifying covid-19 deaths within 70 days was 78.7%.

Conclusion: This population based risk algorithm performed well showing high levels of discrimination for identifying those patients at highest risk of covid-19 related death and hospital admission after vaccination.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2244DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8446717PMC
September 2021

Sociocultural influences on asthma self-management in a multicultural society: A qualitative study amongst Malaysian adults.

Health Expect 2021 Aug 27. Epub 2021 Aug 27.

Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Background: Supported self-management improves asthma outcomes, but implementation requires adaptation to the local context. Barriers reported in Western cultures may not resonate in other cultural contexts. We explored the views, experiences and beliefs that influenced self-management among adults with asthma in multicultural Malaysia.

Methods: Adults with asthma were purposively recruited from an urban primary healthcare clinic for in-depth interviews. Audio-recordings were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.

Results: We interviewed 24 adults. Four themes emerged: (1) Participants believed in the 'hot and cold' concept of illness either as an inherent hot/cold body constitution or the ambient temperature. Hence, participants tried to 'neutralize' body constitution or to 'warm up' the cold temperature that was believed to trigger acute attacks. (2) Participants managed asthma based on past experiences and personal health beliefs as they lacked formal information about asthma and its treatment. (3) Poor communication and variable advice from healthcare practitioners on how to manage their asthma contributed to poor self-management skills. (4) Embarrassment about using inhalers in public and advice from family and friends resulted in a focus on nonpharmacological approaches to asthma self-management practice.

Conclusions: Asthma self-management practices were learnt experientially and were strongly influenced by sociocultural beliefs and advice from family and friends. Effective self-management needs to be tailored to cultural norms, personalized to the individuals' preferences and clinical needs, adapted to their level of health literacy and underpinned by patient-practitioner partnerships.

Patient And Public Contributions: Patients contributed to data. Members of the public were involved in the discussion of the results.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hex.13352DOI Listing
August 2021

Risk of thrombocytopenia and thromboembolism after covid-19 vaccination and SARS-CoV-2 positive testing: self-controlled case series study.

BMJ 2021 08 26;374:n1931. Epub 2021 Aug 26.

Nuffield Department of Primary Health Care Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Objective: To assess the association between covid-19 vaccines and risk of thrombocytopenia and thromboembolic events in England among adults.

Design: Self-controlled case series study using national data on covid-19 vaccination and hospital admissions.

Setting: Patient level data were obtained for approximately 30 million people vaccinated in England between 1 December 2020 and 24 April 2021. Electronic health records were linked with death data from the Office for National Statistics, SARS-CoV-2 positive test data, and hospital admission data from the United Kingdom's health service (NHS).

Participants: 29 121 633 people were vaccinated with first doses (19 608 008 with Oxford-AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19) and 9 513 625 with Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2 mRNA)) and 1 758 095 people had a positive SARS-CoV-2 test. People aged ≥16 years who had first doses of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 or BNT162b2 mRNA vaccines and any outcome of interest were included in the study.

Main Outcome Measures: The primary outcomes were hospital admission or death associated with thrombocytopenia, venous thromboembolism, and arterial thromboembolism within 28 days of three exposures: first dose of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine; first dose of the BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine; and a SARS-CoV-2 positive test. Secondary outcomes were subsets of the primary outcomes: cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), ischaemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and other rare arterial thrombotic events.

Results: The study found increased risk of thrombocytopenia after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination (incidence rate ratio 1.33, 95% confidence interval 1.19 to 1.47 at 8-14 days) and after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test (5.27, 4.34 to 6.40 at 8-14 days); increased risk of venous thromboembolism after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination (1.10, 1.02 to 1.18 at 8-14 days) and after SARS-CoV-2 infection (13.86, 12.76 to 15.05 at 8-14 days); and increased risk of arterial thromboembolism after BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination (1.06, 1.01 to 1.10 at 15-21 days) and after SARS-CoV-2 infection (2.02, 1.82 to 2.24 at 15-21 days). Secondary analyses found increased risk of CVST after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination (4.01, 2.08 to 7.71 at 8-14 days), after BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination (3.58, 1.39 to 9.27 at 15-21 days), and after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test; increased risk of ischaemic stroke after BNT162b2 mRNA vaccination (1.12, 1.04 to 1.20 at 15-21 days) and after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test; and increased risk of other rare arterial thrombotic events after ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccination (1.21, 1.02 to 1.43 at 8-14 days) and after a positive SARS-CoV-2 test.

Conclusion: Increased risks of haematological and vascular events that led to hospital admission or death were observed for short time intervals after first doses of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and BNT162b2 mRNA vaccines. The risks of most of these events were substantially higher and more prolonged after SARS-CoV-2 infection than after vaccination in the same population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n1931DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8388189PMC
August 2021

Interorganizational Knowledge Sharing to Establish Digital Health Learning Ecosystems: Qualitative Evaluation of a National Digital Health Transformation Program in England.

J Med Internet Res 2021 Aug 19;23(8):e23372. Epub 2021 Aug 19.

Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Background: The English Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) program is one of the first concerted efforts to create a digital health learning ecosystem across a national health service.

Objective: This study aims to explore mechanisms that support or inhibit the exchange of interorganizational digital transformation knowledge.

Methods: We conducted a formative qualitative evaluation of the GDE program. We used semistructured interviews with clinical, technical, and managerial staff; national program managers and network leaders; nonparticipant observations of knowledge transfer activities through attending meetings, workshops, and conferences; and documentary analysis of policy documents. The data were thematically analyzed by drawing on a theory-informed sociotechnical coding framework. We used a mixture of deductive and inductive methods, supported by NVivo software, to facilitate coding.

Results: We conducted 341 one-on-one and 116 group interviews, observed 86 meetings, and analyzed 245 documents from 36 participating provider organizations. We also conducted 51 high-level interviews with policy makers and vendors; performed 77 observations of national meetings, workshops, and conferences; and analyzed 80 national documents. Formal processes put in place by the GDE program to initiate and reinforce knowledge transfer and learning have accelerated the growth of informal knowledge networking and helped establish the foundations of a learning ecosystem. However, formal networks were most effective when supported by informal networking. The benefits of networking were enhanced (and costs reduced) by geographical proximity, shared culture and context, common technological functionality, regional and strategic alignments, and professional agendas.

Conclusions: Knowledge exchange is most effective when sustained through informal networking driven by the mutual benefits of sharing knowledge and convergence between group members in their organizational and technological setting and goals. Policy interventions need to enhance incentives and reduce barriers to sharing across the ecosystem, be flexible in tailoring formal interventions to emerging needs, and promote informal knowledge sharing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/23372DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8414305PMC
August 2021

The long-term sequelae of COVID-19: an international consensus on research priorities for patients with pre-existing and new-onset airways disease.

Lancet Respir Med 2021 Aug 17. Epub 2021 Aug 17.

Population Health Science Institute, NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK. Electronic address:

Persistent ill health after acute COVID-19-referred to as long COVID, the post-acute COVID-19 syndrome, or the post-COVID-19 condition-has emerged as a major concern. We undertook an international consensus exercise to identify research priorities with the aim of understanding the long-term effects of acute COVID-19, with a focus on people with pre-existing airways disease and the occurrence of new-onset airways disease and associated symptoms. 202 international experts were invited to submit a minimum of three research ideas. After a two-phase internal review process, a final list of 98 research topics was scored by 48 experts. Patients with pre-existing or post-COVID-19 airways disease contributed to the exercise by weighting selected criteria. The highest-ranked research idea focused on investigation of the relationship between prognostic scores at hospital admission and morbidity at 3 months and 12 months after hospital discharge in patients with and without pre-existing airways disease. High priority was also assigned to comparisons of the prevalence and severity of post-COVID-19 fatigue, sarcopenia, anxiety, depression, and risk of future cardiovascular complications in patients with and without pre-existing airways disease. Our approach has enabled development of a set of priorities that could inform future research studies and funding decisions. This prioritisation process could also be adapted to other, non-respiratory aspects of long COVID.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00286-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8372501PMC
August 2021

Effectiveness of virtual and augmented reality for improving knowledge and skills in medical students: protocol for a systematic review.

BMJ Open 2021 08 16;11(8):e047004. Epub 2021 Aug 16.

Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Introduction: Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are increasingly being used in undergraduate medical education. We aim to evaluate the effectiveness of VR and AR technologies for improving knowledge and skills in medical students.

Methods And Analysis: Using Best Evidence in Medical Education (BEME) collaboration guidelines, we will search MEDLINE (via PubMed), Education Resources Information Center, PsycINFO, Web of Knowledge, Embase and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for English-language records, from January 1990 to March 2021. Randomised trials that studied the use of VR or AR devices for teaching medical students will be included. Studies that assessed other healthcare professionals, or did not have a comparator group, will be excluded. The primary outcome measures relate to medical students' knowledge and clinical skills. Two reviewers will independently screen studies and assess eligibility based on our prespecified eligibility criteria, and then extract data from each eligible study using a modified BEME coding form. Any disagreements will be resolved by discussion or, if necessary, the involvement of a third reviewer. The BEME Quality Indicators checklist and the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool will be used to assess the quality of the body of evidence. Where data are of sufficient homogeneity, a meta-analysis using a random-effects model will be conducted. Otherwise, a narrative synthesis approach will be taken and studies will be evaluated based on Kirkpatrick's levels of educational outcomes and the Synthesis Without Meta-analysis guidelines.

Ethics And Dissemination: Ethical approval is not required for this systematic review as no primary data are being collected. We will disseminate the findings of this review through scientific conferences and through publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047004DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8370502PMC
August 2021

Implementation research on measuring quality in primary care: balancing national needs with learning from the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Int J Qual Health Care 2021 Aug;33(3)

Department of Community Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University, Stadium Road, P.O. Box 3500, Karachi, Sindh 74800, Pakistan.

Background: Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a core element of ensuring healthy lives, marking the third Sustainable Development Goal. It requires providing quality primary health-care (PHC) services. Assessment of quality of care considering a wide variety of contexts is a challenge. This study lists practical indicators to enhance the quality of PHC.

Objectives: Demonstrating quality indicators for PHC that are feasible, comprehensive and adaptable to wide array of health systems and resource settings.

Methods: We applied the research framework: Exploration, Preparation, Implementation and Sustainment. Exploration included a scoping review to identify quality indicators. Preparation included an eDelphi to refine the primary indicators' list. A panel of 27 experts reviewed the list that was later pilot tested in PHC facilities. The outcomes were presented to two further expert consultations, to refine indicators and plan for broader testing. Implementation included testing the indicators through a five-step process in 40 facilities. A regional consultation in May 2016 discussed the testing outcomes.

Results: Initial efforts identified 83 quality indicators at the PHC level that were then refined to a 34-indicator list covering the six domains of quality. A toolkit was also developed to test the feasibility of each indicator measurement, data availability, challenges and gaps. Pilot testing provided insight into modifying and adding some indicators. Wide variability was encountered within and in between facilities, and timely initiation of antenatal care, for example, ranged 31-90% in Oman and 11-98% in Tunisia. Indicators were highly feasible, and 29 out of 34 were measured in 75% of facilities or more. While challenges included gaps in capacity for data collection, the tool showed high adaptability to the local context and was adopted by countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) including Libya, Oman, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and Palestine. Stakeholders agreed on the high relevance and applicability of the proposed indicators that have been used to inform improvement.

Conclusion: A cross-regional set of 34 quality indicators of PHC in the EMR was developed and adopted by a diverse group of countries. The toolkit showed high feasibility in pilot testing reflecting the practicality needed to encourage local uptake and sustainability. The core quality indicators are highly adaptable to different local and regional contexts regardless of current PHC strength or available resources. Continuous evaluation and sharing lessons of implementation and use are needed to ascertain the indicators' effectiveness in driving improvements in PHC and to refine and strengthen the evidence supporting the set of indicators for wider adoption.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzab119DOI Listing
August 2021

Ethnic and social inequalities in COVID-19 outcomes in Scotland: protocol for early pandemic evaluation and enhanced surveillance of COVID-19 (EAVE II).

BMJ Open 2021 08 10;11(8):e048852. Epub 2021 Aug 10.

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Introduction: Evidence from previous pandemics, and the current COVID-19 pandemic, has found that risk of infection/severity of disease is disproportionately higher for ethnic minority groups, and those in lower socioeconomic positions. It is imperative that interventions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are targeted towards high-risk populations. We will investigate the associations between social characteristics (such as ethnicity, occupation and socioeconomic position) and COVID-19 outcomes and the extent to which characteristics/risk factors might explain observed relationships in Scotland.The primary objective of this study is to describe the epidemiology of COVID-19 by social factors. Secondary objectives are to (1) examine receipt of treatment and prevention of COVID-19 by social factors; (2) quantify ethnic/social differences in adverse COVID-19 outcomes; (3) explore potential mediators of relationships between social factors and SARS-CoV-2 infection/COVID-19 prognosis; (4) examine whether occupational COVID-19 differences differ by other social factors and (5) assess quality of ethnicity coding within National Health Service datasets.

Methods And Analysis: We will use a national cohort comprising the adult population of Scotland who completed the 2011 Census and were living in Scotland on 31 March 2020 (~4.3 million people). Census data will be linked to the Early Assessment of Vaccine and Anti-Viral Effectiveness II cohort consisting of primary/secondary care, laboratory data and death records. Sensitivity/specificity and positive/negative predictive values will be used to assess coding quality of ethnicity. Descriptive statistics will be used to examine differences in treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Poisson/Cox regression analyses and mediation techniques will examine ethnic and social differences, and drivers of inequalities in COVID-19. Effect modification (on additive and multiplicative scales) between key variables (such as ethnicity and occupation) will be assessed.

Ethics And Dissemination: Ethical approval was obtained from the National Research Ethics Committee, South East Scotland 02. We will present findings of this study at international conferences, in peer-reviewed journals and to policy-makers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-048852DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8359861PMC
August 2021

Promoting inter-organisational knowledge sharing: A qualitative evaluation of England's Global Digital Exemplar and Fast Follower Programme.

PLoS One 2021 2;16(8):e0255220. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, School of Social and Political Science, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Background: The Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) Programme was designed to promote the digitisation of hospital services in England. Selected provider organisations that were reasonably digitally-mature were funded with the expectation that they would achieve internationally recognised levels of excellence and act as exemplars ('GDE sites') and share their learning with somewhat less digitally-mature Fast Follower (FF) sites.

Aims: This paper explores how partnerships between GDE and FF sites have promoted knowledge sharing and learning between organisations.

Methods: We conducted an independent qualitative longitudinal evaluation of the GDE Programme, collecting data across 36 provider organisations (including acute, mental health and speciality), 12 of which we studied as in-depth ethnographic case studies. We used a combination of semi-structured interviews with programme leads, vendors and national policy leads, non-participant observations of meetings and workshops, and analysed national and local documents. This allowed us to explore both how inter-organisational learning and knowledge sharing was planned, and how it played out in practice. Thematic qualitative analysis, combining findings from diverse data sources, was facilitated by NVivo 11 and drew on sociotechnical systems theory.

Results: Formally established GDE and FF partnerships were perceived to enhance learning and accelerate adoption of technologies in most pairings. They were seen to be most successful where they had encouraged, and were supported by, informal knowledge networking, driven by the mutual benefits of information sharing. Informal networking was enhanced where the benefits were maximised (for example where paired sites had implemented the same technological system) and networking costs minimised (for example by geographical proximity, prior links and institutional alignment). Although the intervention anticipated uni-directional learning between exemplar sites and 'followers', in most cases we observed a two-way flow of information, with GDEs also learning from FFs, through informal networking which also extended to other health service providers outside the Programme. The efforts of the GDE Programme to establish a learning ecosystem has enhanced the profile of shared learning within the NHS.

Conclusions: Inter-organisational partnerships have produced significant gains for both follower (FF) and exemplar (GDE) sites. Formal linkages were most effective where they had facilitated, and were supported by, informal networking. Informal networking was driven by the mutual benefits of information sharing and was optimised where sites were well aligned in terms of technology, geography and culture. Misalignments that created barriers to networking between organisations in a few cases were attributed to inappropriate choice of partners. Policy makers seeking to promote learning through centrally directed mechanisms need to create a framework that enables networking and informal knowledge transfer, allowing local organisations to develop bottom-up collaboration and exchanges, where they are productive, in an organic manner.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0255220PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8328305PMC
August 2021

Menopausal hormone therapy and women's health: An umbrella review.

PLoS Med 2021 Aug 2;18(8):e1003731. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Krefting Research Centre, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Background: There remains uncertainty about the impact of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) on women's health. A systematic, comprehensive assessment of the effects on multiple outcomes is lacking. We conducted an umbrella review to comprehensively summarize evidence on the benefits and harms of MHT across diverse health outcomes.

Methods And Findings: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and 10 other databases from inception to November 26, 2017, updated on December 17, 2020, to identify systematic reviews or meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies investigating effects of MHT, including estrogen-alone therapy (ET) and estrogen plus progestin therapy (EPT), in perimenopausal or postmenopausal women in all countries and settings. All health outcomes in previous systematic reviews were included, including menopausal symptoms, surrogate endpoints, biomarkers, various morbidity outcomes, and mortality. Two investigators independently extracted data and assessed methodological quality of systematic reviews using the updated 16-item AMSTAR 2 instrument. Random-effects robust variance estimation was used to combine effect estimates, and 95% prediction intervals (PIs) were calculated whenever possible. We used the term MHT to encompass ET and EPT, and results are presented for MHT for each outcome, unless otherwise indicated. Sixty systematic reviews were included, involving 102 meta-analyses of RCTs and 38 of observational studies, with 102 unique outcomes. The overall quality of included systematic reviews was moderate to poor. In meta-analyses of RCTs, MHT was beneficial for vasomotor symptoms (frequency: 9 trials, 1,104 women, risk ratio [RR] 0.43, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.57, p < 0.001; severity: 7 trials, 503 women, RR 0.29, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.50, p = 0.002) and all fracture (30 trials, 43,188 women, RR 0.72, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.84, p = 0.002, 95% PI 0.58 to 0.87), as well as vaginal atrophy (intravaginal ET), sexual function, vertebral and nonvertebral fracture, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular mortality (ET), and colorectal cancer (EPT), but harmful for stroke (17 trials, 37,272 women, RR 1.17, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.29, p = 0.027) and venous thromboembolism (23 trials, 42,292 women, RR 1.60, 95% CI 0.99 to 2.58, p = 0.052, 95% PI 1.03 to 2.99), as well as cardiovascular disease incidence and recurrence, cerebrovascular disease, nonfatal stroke, deep vein thrombosis, gallbladder disease requiring surgery, and lung cancer mortality (EPT). In meta-analyses of observational studies, MHT was associated with decreased risks of cataract, glioma, and esophageal, gastric, and colorectal cancer, but increased risks of pulmonary embolism, cholelithiasis, asthma, meningioma, and thyroid, breast, and ovarian cancer. ET and EPT had opposite effects for endometrial cancer, endometrial hyperplasia, and Alzheimer disease. The major limitations include the inability to address the varying effects of MHT by type, dose, formulation, duration of use, route of administration, and age of initiation and to take into account the quality of individual studies included in the systematic reviews. The study protocol is publicly available on PROSPERO (CRD42017083412).

Conclusions: MHT has a complex balance of benefits and harms on multiple health outcomes. Some effects differ qualitatively between ET and EPT. The quality of available evidence is only moderate to poor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003731DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8366967PMC
August 2021

Operational definitions of paediatric asthma used in epidemiological studies: A systematic review.

J Glob Health 2021 17;11:04032. Epub 2021 Jul 17.

Usher Institute, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, UK.

Background: Researchers use different definitions to identify children with asthma in epidemiological surveys. We conducted a systematic review to describe the definitions used in epidemiologic studies for wheeze and asthma in the paediatric population, aimed to inform the development of a uniform definition of paediatric asthma for future epidemiological research.

Methods: We systematically searched terms to identify asthma and/or wheeze among children aged <13 years and published between 1995-2020 across seven databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, AMED, LILACS and CINAHL). PRISMA guidelines were followed for this review.

Results: We extracted a total of 11 886 records, where 190 met our eligibility criteria and included in the analysis. Among the included studies, 62.1% (n = 118/190) used the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaires, predominantly in developing countries (80%, n = 64/80). 'Wheeze' was reported in five categories, subdivided by 14 different definitions. "Current wheeze", defined as caregivers report of wheezing sounds from the chest of the child in the past 12 months and "Wheeze ever", defined as caregivers' report of wheezing or whistling in the chest of the child at any previous time, were the most common wheeze category reported in 129 and 95 studies, respectively. Asthma was reported in nine categories using 53 definitions. The most common asthma category was "Asthma ever", which was reported in 89 studies, based on caregiver statement that the child had asthma in the past.

Conclusion: Definitions of wheeze and asthma for children used in surveys are primarily based on parent-reported clinical features. Studies from developing countries more frequently used the ISAAC definitions to report childhood asthma and wheeze compared to the studies from developed counties. The use of a uniform asthma definition will aid the interpretation of research findings globally.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.04032DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8285759PMC
August 2021

Predicting the environmental suitability for onchocerciasis in Africa as an aid to elimination planning.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2021 Jul 28;15(7):e0008824. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

Department of Health Policy Planning and Management, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana.

Recent evidence suggests that, in some foci, elimination of onchocerciasis from Africa may be feasible with mass drug administration (MDA) of ivermectin. To achieve continental elimination of transmission, mapping surveys will need to be conducted across all implementation units (IUs) for which endemicity status is currently unknown. Using boosted regression tree models with optimised hyperparameter selection, we estimated environmental suitability for onchocerciasis at the 5 × 5-km resolution across Africa. In order to classify IUs that include locations that are environmentally suitable, we used receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis to identify an optimal threshold for suitability concordant with locations where onchocerciasis has been previously detected. This threshold value was then used to classify IUs (more suitable or less suitable) based on the location within the IU with the largest mean prediction. Mean estimates of environmental suitability suggest large areas across West and Central Africa, as well as focal areas of East Africa, are suitable for onchocerciasis transmission, consistent with the presence of current control and elimination of transmission efforts. The ROC analysis identified a mean environmental suitability index of 0·71 as a threshold to classify based on the location with the largest mean prediction within the IU. Of the IUs considered for mapping surveys, 50·2% exceed this threshold for suitability in at least one 5 × 5-km location. The formidable scale of data collection required to map onchocerciasis endemicity across the African continent presents an opportunity to use spatial data to identify areas likely to be suitable for onchocerciasis transmission. National onchocerciasis elimination programmes may wish to consider prioritising these IUs for mapping surveys as human resources, laboratory capacity, and programmatic schedules may constrain survey implementation, and possibly delaying MDA initiation in areas that would ultimately qualify.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008824DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8318275PMC
July 2021

Effect of smoke-free policies in outdoor areas and private places on children's tobacco smoke exposure and respiratory health: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Lancet Public Health 2021 08 16;6(8):e566-e578. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

Division of Neonatology, Department of Paediatrics, Erasmus MC Sophia Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands; Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK. Electronic address:

Background: Smoke-free policies in outdoor areas and semi-private and private places (eg, cars) might reduce the health harms caused by tobacco smoke exposure (TSE). We aimed to investigate the effect of smoke-free policies covering outdoor areas or semi-private and private places on TSE and respiratory health in children, to inform policy.

Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched 13 electronic databases from date of inception to Jan 29, 2021, for published studies that assessed the effects of smoke-free policies in outdoor areas or semi-private or private places on TSE, respiratory health outcomes, or both, in children. Non-randomised and randomised trials, interrupted time series, and controlled before-after studies, without restrictions to the observational period, publication date, or language, were eligible for the main analysis. Two reviewers independently extracted data, including adjusted test statistics from each study using a prespecified form, and assessed risk of bias for effect estimates from each study using the Risk of Bias in Non-Randomised Studies of Interventions tool. Primary outcomes were TSE in places covered by the policy, unplanned hospital attendance for wheezing or asthma, and unplanned hospital attendance for respiratory tract infections, in children younger than 17 years. Random-effects meta-analyses were done when at least two studies evaluated policies that regulated smoking in similar places and reported on the same outcome. This study is registered with PROSPERO, CRD42020190563.

Findings: We identified 5745 records and assessed 204 full-text articles for eligibility, of which 11 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the qualitative synthesis. Of these studies, seven fit prespecified robustness criteria as recommended by the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care group, assessing smoke-free cars (n=5), schools (n=1), and a comprehensive policy covering multiple areas (n=1). Risk of bias was low in three studies, moderate in three, and critical in one. In the meta-analysis of ten effect estimates from four studies, smoke-free car policies were associated with an immediate TSE reduction in cars (risk ratio 0·69, 95% CI 0·55-0·87; 161 466 participants); heterogeneity was substantial (I 80·7%; p<0·0001). One additional study reported a gradual TSE decrease in cars annually. Individual studies found TSE reductions on school grounds, following a smoke-free school policy, and in hospital attendances for respiratory tract infection, following a comprehensive smoke-free policy.

Interpretation: Smoke-free car policies are associated with reductions in reported child TSE in cars, which could translate into respiratory health benefits. Few additional studies assessed the effect of policies regulating smoking in outdoor areas and semi-private and private places on children's TSE or health outcomes. On the basis of these findings, governments should consider including private cars in comprehensive smoke-free policies to protect child health.

Funding: Dutch Heart Foundation, Lung Foundation Netherlands, Dutch Cancer Society, Dutch Diabetes Research Foundation, Netherlands Thrombosis Foundation, and Health Data Research UK.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(21)00097-9DOI Listing
August 2021

Effect of quitting smoking on health outcomes during treatment for tuberculosis: secondary analysis of the TB & Tobacco Trial.

Thorax 2021 Jul 16. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Background: Despite treatment, patients with tuberculosis (TB) who smoke have poorer outcomes compared with non-smokers. It is unknown, however, if quitting smoking during the 6 months of TB treatment improves TB outcomes.

Methods: The TB & Tobacco Trial was a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial of cytisine for smoking cessation in 2472 patients with pulmonary TB in Bangladesh and Pakistan. In a secondary analysis, we investigated the hypothesis that smoking cessation improves health outcomes in patients during the TB treatment course. The outcomes included an eight-point TB clinical score, sputum conversion rates, chest X-ray grades, quality of life (EQ-5D-5L), TB cure treatment completion rates and relapse rates. These were compared between those who stopped smoking and those who did not, using regression analysis.

Results: We analysed the data of 2273 (92%) trial participants. Overall, 25% (577/2273) of participants stopped smoking. Compared with non-quitters, those who quit had better TB cure treatment completion rates (91% vs 80%, p<0.001) and lower TB relapse rates (6% vs 14%, p<0.001). Among quitters, a higher sputum conversion rate at week 9 (91% vs 87%, p=0.036), lower mean TB clinical scores (-0.20 points, 95% CI -0.31 to -0.08, p=0.001) and slightly better quality of life (mean EQ-5D-5L 0.86 vs 0.85, p=0.015) at 6 months were also observed. These differences, except quality of life, remained statistically significant after adjusting for baseline values, trial arm and TB treatment adherence rates.

Conclusion: Patients with TB who stop smoking may have better outcomes than those who don't. Health professionals should support patients in stopping smoking.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2020-215926DOI Listing
July 2021

Development of an educational intervention to reduce the burden of adult chronic lung disease in rural India: Inputs from a qualitative study.

PLoS One 2021 15;16(7):e0254534. Epub 2021 Jul 15.

Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Background: Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are major causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide with a substantial burden of the disease being borne by the low and middle income countries (LMICs). Interventions to change health behaviour which aim to improve the quality of life and reduce disease burden due to CRD require knowledge of the problem and factors influencing such behaviour. Our study sought to appreciate the lived experiences of people with CRD, their understanding of the disease and its risk factors, and usual practice of health behaviour in a rural low-literate community in southern India.

Methods: Qualitative data were collected between September and December 2018 through eight focus group discussions (FGDs), five in-depth interviews and four key-informant interviews from patients and community members. Community engagement was undertaken prior to the study and all interviews and discussions were recorded with permission. Inductive coding was used to thematically analyse the results.

Results: Major themes included understanding of chronic lung disease, health behaviours, lived experiences with the disease and social norms, attitudes and other factors influencing health behaviour.

Discussion: Poor understanding of CRDs and their risk factors affect health seeking behaviour and/or health practices. Stigma associated with the disease and related health behaviours (e.g. inhaler use) creates emotional challenges and mental health problems, besides influencing health behaviour. However barriers can be circumvented by increasing community awareness; communication and connection with the community through community based health care providers can turn challenges into opportunities for better health care.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0254534PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8281992PMC
July 2021

Temporal trends and forecasting of COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths in Scotland using a national real-time patient-level data platform: a statistical modelling study.

Lancet Digit Health 2021 08 5;3(8):e517-e525. Epub 2021 Jul 5.

Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK; HDR UK BREATHE Hub, Edinburgh, UK.

Background: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, national-level surveillance platforms with real-time individual person-level data are required to monitor and predict the epidemiological and clinical profile of COVID-19 and inform public health policy. We aimed to create a national dataset of patient-level data in Scotland to identify temporal trends and COVID-19 risk factors, and to develop a novel statistical prediction model to forecast COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalisations during the second wave.

Methods: We established a surveillance platform to monitor COVID-19 temporal trends using person-level primary care data (including age, sex, socioeconomic status, urban or rural residence, care home residence, and clinical risk factors) linked to data on SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR tests, hospitalisations, and deaths for all individuals resident in Scotland who were registered with a general practice on Feb 23, 2020. A Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the association between clinical risk groups and time to hospitalisation and death. A survival prediction model derived from data from March 1 to June 23, 2020, was created to forecast hospital admissions and deaths from October to December, 2020. We fitted a generalised additive spline model to daily SARS-CoV-2 cases over the previous 10 weeks and used this to create a 28-day forecast of the number of daily cases. The age and risk group pattern of cases in the previous 3 weeks was then used to select a stratified sample of individuals from our cohort who had not previously tested positive, with future cases in each group sampled from a multinomial distribution. We then used their patient characteristics (including age, sex, comorbidities, and socioeconomic status) to predict their probability of hospitalisation or death.

Findings: Our cohort included 5 384 819 people, representing 98·6% of the entire estimated population residing in Scotland during 2020. Hospitalisation and death among those testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 between March 1 and June 23, 2020, were associated with several patient characteristics, including male sex (hospitalisation hazard ratio [HR] 1·47, 95% CI 1·38-1·57; death HR 1·62, 1·49-1·76) and various comorbidities, with the highest hospitalisation HR found for transplantation (4·53, 1·87-10·98) and the highest death HR for myoneural disease (2·33, 1·46-3·71). For those testing positive, there were decreasing temporal trends in hospitalisation and death rates. The proportion of positive tests among older age groups (>40 years) and those with at-risk comorbidities increased during October, 2020. On Nov 10, 2020, the projected number of hospitalisations for Dec 8, 2020 (28 days later) was 90 per day (95% prediction interval 55-125) and the projected number of deaths was 21 per day (12-29).

Interpretation: The estimated incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection based on positive tests recorded in this unique data resource has provided forecasts of hospitalisation and death rates for the whole of Scotland. These findings were used by the Scottish Government to inform their response to reduce COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality.

Funding: Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme, UK Research and Innovation Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, Health Data Research UK, Scottish Government Director General Health and Social Care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(21)00105-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8257056PMC
August 2021

Strategies supporting sustainable prescribing safety improvement interventions in English primary care: a qualitative study.

BJGP Open 2021 Aug 17. Epub 2021 Aug 17.

Centre for Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK.

Background: While the use of prescribing safety indicators (PSI) can reduce potentially hazardous prescribing, there is a need to identify actionable strategies for the successful implementation and sustainable delivery of PSI-based interventions in general practice.

Aim: To identify strategies for the successful implementation and sustainable use of PSI-based interventions in routine primary care.

Design & Setting: Qualitative study in primary care settings across England.

Method: Anchoring on a complex pharmacist-led IT-based intervention (PINCER) and clinical decision support (CDS) for prescribing and medicines management, a qualitative study was conducted using sequential, multiple methods. The methods comprised documentary analysis, semi-structured interviews, and online workshops to identify challenges and possible solutions to the longer-term sustainability of PINCER and CDS. Thematic analysis was used for the documentary analysis and stakeholder workshops, while template analysis was used for the semi-structured interviews. Findings across the three methods were synthesised using the RE-AIM (reach, efficacy, adoption, implementation, and maintenance) framework.

Results: Forty-eight documents were analysed, and 27 interviews and two workshops involving 20 participants were undertaken. Five main issues were identified, which aligned with the adoption and maintenance dimensions of RE-AIM: fitting into current context (adoption); engaging hearts and minds (maintenance); building resilience (maintenance); achieving engagement with secondary care (maintenance); and emphasising complementarity (maintenance).

Conclusion: Extending ownership of prescribing safety beyond primary care-based pharmacists, and achieving greater alignment between general practice and hospital prescribing safety initiatives, is fundamental to achieve sustained impact of PSI-based interventions in primary care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3399/BJGPO.2021.0109DOI Listing
August 2021

Chronic respiratory disease surveys in adults in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic scoping review of methodological approaches and outcomes.

J Glob Health 2021 Jun 19;11:04026. Epub 2021 Jun 19.

Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Background: Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) contribute significantly towards the global burden of disease, but the true prevalence and burden of these conditions in adults is unknown in the majority of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We aimed to identify strategies - in particular the definitions, study designs, sampling frames, instruments, and outcomes - used to conduct prevalence surveys for CRDs in LMICs. The findings will inform a future RESPIRE Four Country ChrOnic Respiratory Disease (4CCORD) study, which will estimate CRD prevalence, including disease burden, in adults in LMICs.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review to map prevalence surveys conducted in LMICs published between 1995 and 2018. We followed Arksey and O'Malley's six-step framework. The search was conducted in OVID Medline, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science, Global Health, WHO Global Index Medicus and included three domains: CRDs, prevalence and LMICs. After an initial title sift, eight trained reviewers undertook duplicate study selection and data extraction. We charted: country and populations, random sampling strategies, CRD definitions/phenotypes, survey procedure (questionnaires, spirometry, tests), outcomes and assessment of individual, societal and health service burden of disease.

Results: Of 36 872 citations, 281 articles were included: 132 from Asia (41 from China). Study designs were cross-sectional surveys (n = 260), cohort studies (n = 11) and secondary data analysis (n = 10). The number of respondents in these studies ranged from 50 to 512 891. Asthma was studied in 144 studies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 112. Most studies (100/144) based identification of asthma on symptom-based questionnaires. In contrast, COPD diagnosis was typically based on spirometry findings (94/112); 65 used fixed-ratio thresholds, 29 reported fixed-ratio and lower-limit-of-normal values. Only five articles used the term 'phenotype'. Most studies used questionnaires derived from validated surveys, most commonly the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (n = 47). The burden/impact of CRD was reported in 33 articles (most commonly activity limitation).

Conclusion: Surveys remain the most practical approach for estimating prevalence of CRD but there is a need to identify the most predictive questions for diagnosing asthma and to standardise diagnostic criteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7189/jogh.11.04026DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8248510PMC
June 2021

Management of asthma in childhood: study protocol of a systematic evidence update by the Paediatric Asthma in Real Life (PeARL) Think Tank.

BMJ Open 2021 07 2;11(7):e048338. Epub 2021 Jul 2.

Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.

Introduction: Clinical recommendations for childhood asthma are often based on data extrapolated from studies conducted in adults, despite significant differences in mechanisms and response to treatments. The Paediatric Asthma in Real Life (PeARL) Think Tank aspires to develop recommendations based on the best available evidence from studies in children. An overview of systematic reviews (SRs) on paediatric asthma maintenance management and an SR of treatments for acute asthma attacks in children, requiring an emergency presentation with/without hospital admission will be conducted.

Methods And Analysis: Standard methodology recommended by Cochrane will be followed. Maintenance pharmacotherapy of childhood asthma will be evaluated in an overview of SRs published after 2005 and including clinical trials or real-life studies. For evaluating pharmacotherapy of acute asthma attacks leading to an emergency presentation with/without hospital admission, we opted to conduct de novo synthesis in the absence of adequate up-to-date published SRs. For the SR of acute asthma pharmacotherapy, we will consider eligible SRs, clinical trials or real-life studies without time restrictions. Our evidence updates will be based on broad searches of Pubmed/Medline and the Cochrane Library. We will use A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews, V.2, Cochrane risk of bias 2 and REal Life EVidence AssessmeNt Tool to evaluate the methodological quality of SRs, controlled clinical trials and real-life studies, respectively.Next, we will further assess interventions for acute severe asthma attacks with positive clinical results in meta-analyses. We will include both controlled clinical trials and observational studies and will assess their quality using the previously mentioned tools. We will employ random effect models for conducting meta-analyses, and Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation methodology to assess certainty in the body of evidence.

Ethics And Dissemination: Ethics approval is not required for SRs. Our findings will be published in peer reviewed journals and will inform clinical recommendations being developed by the PeARL Think Tank.

Prospero Registration Numbers: CRD42020132990, CRD42020171624.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-048338DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8256789PMC
July 2021

Experiences of cervical screening participation and non-participation in women from minority ethnic populations in Scotland.

Health Expect 2021 Aug 17;24(4):1459-1472. Epub 2021 Jun 17.

Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

Background: The introduction of screening in the UK and other high-income countries led to a significant decrease in the incidence of cervical cancer and increase in survival rates. Minority ethnic groups are often underrepresented in screening participation for reasons that are poorly understood.

Objective: To explore experiences of cervical screening participation and non-participation of women from minority ethnic populations in Scotland and gain insights to support the development of interventions that could potentially support screening participation and thereby reduce inequalities.

Design: Qualitative comparison group study using in-depth, semi-structured individual interviews that were thematically analysed.

Setting And Participants: This study took place in Scotland. Fifty women were purposively sampled from four ethnic minority groups: South Asian; East European; Chinese; and Black African or Caribbean. White Scottish women were also interviewed.

Results: Many experiences described were common regardless of ethnicity, such as difficulties managing competing priorities, including work and care responsibilities. However, important differences existed across the groups. These included going abroad for more frequent screening, delayed introduction to screening and not accessing primary care services, language difficulties in health-care settings despite proficiency in English and not being sexually active at screening commencement. Experiences of racism, ignorance and feeling shamed were also reported.

Conclusions: Key differences exist in the experience of minority ethnic groups in Scotland. These offer potential opportunities to reduce disparity and support screening participation including maximizing co-incidental interactions and developing outreach work.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hex.13287DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8369098PMC
August 2021

Predicting asthma-related crisis events using routine electronic healthcare data.

Br J Gen Pract 2021 Jun 15. Epub 2021 Jun 15.

University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School, Norwich, United Kingdom.

Background: There is no published algorithm predicting asthma crisis events (Accident and Emergency (A&E) attendance, hospitalisation or death) using routinely available electronic health record (EHR) data.

Aim: To develop an algorithm to identify individuals at high risk of an asthma crisis event.

Design And Setting: Database analysis from primary care EHRs.

Method: Multivariable logistic regression was applied to a dataset of 61,861 people with asthma from England and Scotland using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. External validation was performed using the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage databank of 174,240 patients from Wales. Outcomes were one or more hospitalisation (development dataset) and asthma-related hospitalisation, A&E attendance or death (validation dataset) within a 12-month period.

Results: Risk factors for asthma-related crisis events included previous hospitalisation, older age, underweight, smoking and blood eosinophilia. The prediction algorithm had acceptable predictive ability with a Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) of 0.71 (0.70, 0.72) in the validation dataset. Using a cut-point based on the 7% of the population at greatest risk results in a positive predictive value of 5.7% (95% CI 5.3 - 6.1) and a negative predictive value of 98.9% (98.9 - 99.0), with sensitivity of 28.5% (26.7 - 30.3) and specificity of 93.3% (93.2 - 93.4); they had an event risk of 6.0% compared 1.1% for the remaining population. Eighteen people would be "needed to follow" to identify one admission.

Conclusions: This externally validated algorithm has acceptable predictive ability for identifying patients at high risk of asthma-related crisis events and excluding individuals not at high risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3399/BJGP.2020.1042DOI Listing
June 2021

Segmentation and shielding of the most vulnerable members of the population as elements of an exit strategy from COVID-19 lockdown.

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2021 07 31;376(1829):20200275. Epub 2021 May 31.

Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.

This study demonstrates that an adoption of a segmenting and shielding strategy could increase the scope to partially exit COVID-19 lockdown while limiting the risk of an overwhelming second wave of infection. We illustrate this using a mathematical model that segments the vulnerable population and their closest contacts, the 'shielders'. Effects of extending the duration of lockdown and faster or slower transition to post-lockdown conditions and, most importantly, the trade-off between increased protection of the vulnerable segment and fewer restrictions on the general population are explored. Our study shows that the most important determinants of outcome are: (i) post-lockdown transmission rates within the general and between the general and vulnerable segments; (ii) fractions of the population in the vulnerable and shielder segments; (iii) adherence to protective measures; and (iv) build-up of population immunity. Additionally, we found that effective measures in the shielder segment, e.g. intensive routine screening, allow further relaxations in the general population. We find that the outcome of any future policy is strongly influenced by the contact matrix between segments and the relationships between physical distancing measures and transmission rates. This strategy has potential applications for any infectious disease for which there are defined proportions of the population who cannot be treated or who are at risk of severe outcomes. This article is part of the theme issue 'Modelling that shaped the early COVID-19 pandemic response in the UK'.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0275DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8165590PMC
July 2021
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