Publications by authors named "Catherine R McGowan"

15 Publications

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A graphic elicitation technique to represent patient rights.

Confl Health 2020 Dec 14;14(1):86. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Humanitarian Public Health Technical Unit, Save the Children UK, 1 St John's Lane, London, EC1M 4AR, UK.

Background: A patient charter is an explicit declaration of the rights of patients within a particular health care setting. In early 2020 the Save the Children Emergency Health Unit deployed to Cox's Bazar Bangladesh to support the establishment of a severe acute respiratory infection isolation and treatment centre as part of the COVID-19 response. We developed a charter of patient rights and had it translated into Bangla and Burmese; however, the charter remained inaccessible to Rohingya and members of the host community with low literacy.

Methods: To both visualise and contextualise the patient charter we undertook a graphic elicitation method involving both the Rohingya and host communities. We carried out two focus group discussions during which we discussed the charter and agreed how best to illustrate the individual rights contained therein.

Results: Logistical constraints and infection prevention and control procedures limited our ability to follow up with the original focus group participants and to engage in back-translation as we had planned; however, we were able to elicit rich descriptions of each right. Reflecting on our method we were able to identify several key learnings relating to: 1) our technique for eliciting feedback on the charter verbatim versus a broader discussion of concepts referenced within each right, 2) our decision to include both men and women in the same focus group, 3) our decision to ask focus group participants to describe specific features of each illustration and how this benefited the inclusivity of our illustrations, and 4) the potential of the focus groups to act as a means to introduce the charter to communities.

Conclusions: Though executing our method was operationally challenging we were able to create culturally appropriate illustrations to accompany our patient charter. In contexts of limited literacy it is possible to enable access to critical clinical governance and accountability tools.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13031-020-00331-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7734610PMC
December 2020

Preparing humanitarians to address ethical problems.

Confl Health 2020 Nov 4;14(1):72. Epub 2020 Nov 4.

Chief Executive Officer, Save the Children UK, 1 St John's Lane, London, EC1M 4AR, UK.

Infectious disease outbreaks represent potentially catastrophic threats to those affected by humanitarian crises. High transmissibility, crowded living conditions, widespread co-morbidities, and a lack of intensive care capacity may amplify the effects of the outbreak on already vulnerable populations and present humanitarian actors with intense ethical problems. We argue that there are significant and troubling gaps in ethical awareness at the level of humanitarian praxis. Though some ethical guidance does exist most of it is directed at public health experts and fails to speak to the day-to-day ethical challenges confronted by frontline humanitarians. In responding to infectious disease outbreaks humanitarian workers are likely to grapple with complex dilemmas opening the door to moral distress and burnout.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13031-020-00319-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7610160PMC
November 2020

COVID-19 testing acceptability and uptake amongst the Rohingya and host community in Camp 21, Teknaf, Bangladesh.

Confl Health 2020 Nov 11;14(1):74. Epub 2020 Nov 11.

Humanitarian Public Health Technical Unit, Save the Children UK, 1 St John's Lane, London, EC1M 4AR, UK.

Facility-based sentinel testing for COVID-19 was implemented in May 2020 to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 amongst the Rohingya and host community in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. In response both to low uptake of testing across all camps, and rumours of an outbreak of an influenza-like illness in May/June 2020, the International Organization for Migration (in partnership with ACAPS) undertook a qualitative study to collect accounts from the Rohingya relating to testing and treatment, and to explore the possibility that what was thought to be an outbreak of influenza may have been COVID-19. The report provided rich descriptions of the apprehension around testing and offered some clear recommendations for addressing these. We developed a testing 'script' in response to these recommendations, deploying it alongside a survey to determine reasons for declining a test. We compared testing uptake before deploying the testing script, and after (controlling for the total number of consultations), to generate a crude measure of the impact of the script on testing uptake. We coded reasons for declining a test thematically, disaggregated by status (Rohingya and host community) and sex. Despite the small sample size our results suggest an increase in testing uptake following the implementation of the script. Reasons provided by patients for declining a test included: 1) fear, 2) the belief that COVID-19 does not exist, that Allah will prevent them from contracting it, or that their symptoms are not caused by COVID-19, 3) no permission from husband/family, and 4) a preference to return at a later time for a test. Our findings largely mirror the qualitative accounts in the International Organization for Migration/ACAPS report and suggest that further testing amongst both populations will be complicated by fear, and a lack of clarity around testing. Our data lend force to the recommendations in the International Organization for Migration/ACAPS report and emphasise that contextual factors play a key role and must be considered in designing and implementing a health response to a novel disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13031-020-00322-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7656219PMC
November 2020

Methods to measure effects of social accountability interventions in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health programs: systematic review and critique.

J Health Popul Nutr 2020 12 7;39(1):13. Epub 2020 Dec 7.

UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP Research), World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background: There is no agreed way to measure the effects of social accountability interventions. Studies to examine whether and how social accountability and collective action processes contribute to better health and healthcare services are underway in different areas of health, and health effects are captured using a range of different research designs.

Objectives: The objective of our review is to help inform evaluation efforts by identifying, summarizing, and critically appraising study designs used to assess and measure social accountability interventions' effects on health, including data collection methods and outcome measures. Specifically, we consider the designs used to assess social accountability interventions for reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (RMNCAH).

Data Sources: Data were obtained from the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, MEDLINE, SCOPUS, and Social Policy & Practice databases.

Eligibility Criteria: We included papers published on or after 1 January 2009 that described an evaluation of the effects of a social accountability intervention on RMNCAH.

Results: Twenty-two papers met our inclusion criteria. Methods for assessing or reporting health effects of social accountability interventions varied widely and included longitudinal, ethnographic, and experimental designs. Surprisingly, given the topic area, there were no studies that took an explicit systems-orientated approach. Data collection methods ranged from quantitative scorecard data through to in-depth interviews and observations. Analysis of how interventions achieved their effects relied on qualitative data, whereas quantitative data often raised rather than answered questions, and/or seemed likely to be poor quality. Few studies reported on negative effects or harms; studies did not always draw on any particular theoretical framework. None of the studies where there appeared to be financial dependencies between the evaluators and the intervention implementation teams reflected on whether or how these dependencies might have affected the evaluation. The interventions evaluated in the included studies fell into the following categories: aid chain partnership, social audit, community-based monitoring, community-linked maternal death review, community mobilization for improved health, community reporting hotline, evidence for action, report cards, scorecards, and strengthening health communities.

Conclusions: A wide range of methods are currently being used to attempt to evaluate effects of social accountability interventions. The wider context of interventions including the historical or social context is important, as shown in the few studies to consider these dimensions. While many studies collect useful qualitative data that help illuminate how and whether interventions work, the data and analysis are often limited in scope with little attention to the wider context. Future studies taking into account broader sociopolitical dimensions are likely to help illuminate processes of accountability and inform questions of transferability of interventions. The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (registration # CRD42018108252).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s41043-020-00220-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7720506PMC
December 2020

Mobile clinics in humanitarian emergencies: a systematic review.

Confl Health 2020 30;14. Epub 2020 Jan 30.

3Faculty of Epidemiology & Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

Background: Despite the widespread reliance on mobile clinics for delivering health services in humanitarian emergencies there is little empirical evidence to support their use. We report a narrative systematic review of the empirical evidence evaluating the use of mobile clinics in humanitarian settings.

Methods: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health, Health Management Information Consortium, and The Cochrane Library for manuscripts published between 2000 and 2019. We also conducted a grey literature search via Global Health, Open Grey, and the WHO publication database. Empirical studies were included if they reported on at least one of the following evaluation criteria: relevance/appropriateness, connectedness, coherence, coverage, efficiency, effectiveness, and impact.

Findings: Five studies met the inclusion criteria: all supported the use of mobile clinics in the particular setting under study. Three studies included controls. Two studies were assessed as good quality. The studies reported on mobile clinics providing non-communicable disease interventions, mental health services, sexual and reproductive health services, and multiple primary health care services in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , Haiti, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Studies assessed one or more of the following evaluation domains: relevance/appropriateness, coverage, efficiency, and effectiveness. Four studies made recommendations including: i) ensure that mobile clinics are designed to complement clinic-based services; ii) improve technological tools to support patient follow-up, improve record-keeping, communication, and coordination; iii) avoid labelling services in a way that might stigmatise attendees; iv) strengthen referral to psychosocial and mental health services; v) partner with local providers to leverage resources; and vi) ensure strong coordination to optimise the continuum of care. Recommendations regarding the of mobile clinics include carrying out comparative studies of various modalities (including fixed facilities and community health workers) in order to isolate the effects of the mobile clinics. In the absence of a sound evidence base informing the use of mobile clinics in humanitarian crises, we encourage the integration of: i) WASH services, ii) nutrition services, iii) epidemic surveillance, and iv) systems to ensure the quality and safety of patient care. We recommend that future evaluations report against an established evaluation framework.

Conclusion: Evidence supporting the use of mobile clinics in humanitarian emergencies is limited. We encourage more studies of the use of mobile clinics in emergency settings.

Funding: Salary support for this review was provided under the RECAP project by United Kingdom Research and Innovation as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund, grant number ES/P010873/1.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13031-020-0251-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6993397PMC
January 2020

Prevalence and burden of HBV co-infection among people living with HIV: A global systematic review and meta-analysis.

J Viral Hepat 2020 03 22;27(3):294-315. Epub 2019 Dec 22.

NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Globally, in 2017 35 million people were living with HIV (PLHIV) and 257 million had chronic HBV infection (HBsAg positive). The extent of HIV-HBsAg co-infection is unknown. We undertook a systematic review to estimate the global burden of HBsAg co-infection in PLHIV. We searched MEDLINE, Embase and other databases for published studies (2002-2018) measuring prevalence of HBsAg among PLHIV. The review was registered with PROSPERO (#CRD42019123388). Populations were categorized by HIV-exposure category. The global burden of co-infection was estimated by applying regional co-infection prevalence estimates to UNAIDS estimates of PLHIV. We conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the odds of HBsAg among PLHIV compared to HIV-negative individuals. We identified 506 estimates (475 studies) of HIV-HBsAg co-infection prevalence from 80/195 (41.0%) countries. Globally, the prevalence of HIV-HBsAg co-infection is 7.6% (IQR 5.6%-12.1%) in PLHIV, or 2.7 million HIV-HBsAg co-infections (IQR 2.0-4.2). The greatest burden (69% of cases; 1.9 million) is in sub-Saharan Africa. Globally, there was little difference in prevalence of HIV-HBsAg co-infection by population group (approximately 6%-7%), but it was slightly higher among people who inject drugs (11.8% IQR 6.0%-16.9%). Odds of HBsAg infection were 1.4 times higher among PLHIV compared to HIV-negative individuals. There is therefore, a high global burden of HIV-HBsAg co-infection, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Key prevention strategies include infant HBV vaccination, including a timely birth-dose. Findings also highlight the importance of targeting PLHIV, especially high-risk groups for testing, catch-up HBV vaccination and other preventative interventions. The global scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for PLHIV using a tenofovir-based ART regimen provides an opportunity to simultaneously treat those with HBV co-infection, and in pregnant women to also reduce mother-to-child transmission of HBV alongside HIV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvh.13217DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7383613PMC
March 2020

Education, training, and experience in public health ethics and law within the UK public health workforce.

J Public Health (Oxf) 2020 02;42(1):208-215

Faculty of Public Health, 4 St Andrews Place, London NW1 4LB, UK.

Background: Public health ethics and law (PHEL) is a core professional competency for the public health workforce. However, few data are available describing the extent to which UK public health workforce members experience ethical and legal issues or have sufficient educational and/or training background to adequately deal with such issues.

Methods: An anonymous online survey was developed for dissemination via member mailing lists of the: Faculty of Public Health, Royal Society of Public Health, and UK Public Health Register. Public Health England also included a link to the survey in their newsletter. The survey included questions about education, training, and experience in relation to PHEL. The survey was deployed from October 2017 to January 2018.

Results: The survey was completed by a diverse sample of five hundred and sixty-two individuals. The majority of respondents reported: (i) regularly encountering ethical issues, (ii) resolving ethical issues through personal reflection, (iii) having little or no education and training in PHEL, and (iv) questioning whether they have dealt with ethical issues encountered in practice in the best way.

Conclusions: The results suggest that there is a need to develop and support wider PHEL capacity within the UK public health workforce through the provision of PHEL education, training, guidance, and mentoring.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdz008DOI Listing
February 2020

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine use during humanitarian crises.

Vaccine 2019 10 24;37(45):6787-6792. Epub 2019 Sep 24.

Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK; Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a common human commensal that causes a sizeable part of the overall childhood mortality in low income settings. Populations affected by humanitarian crises are at especially high risk, because a multitude of risk factors that are enhanced during crises increase pneumococcal transmission and disease severity. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) provide effective protection and have been introduced into the majority of routine childhood immunisation programmes globally, though several barriers have hitherto limited their uptake during humanitarian crises. When PCV coverage cannot be sustained during crises or when PCV has not been part of routine programmes, mass vaccination campaigns offer a quick acting and programmatically feasible bridging solution until services can be restored. However, we currently face a paucity of evidence on which to base the structure of such campaigns. We believe that, now that PCV can be procured at a substantially reduced price through the Humanitarian Mechanism, this lack of information is a remaining hurdle to PCV use in humanitarian crises. Considering the difficulties in conducting research in crises, we propose an evidence generation pathway consisting of primary data collection in combination with mathematical modelling followed by quasi-experimental evaluation of a PCV intervention, which can inform on optimal vaccination strategies that consider age targeting, dosing regimens and impact duration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.09.038DOI Listing
October 2019

Improving health information systems during an emergency: lessons and recommendations from an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone.

BMC Med Inform Decis Mak 2019 05 27;19(1):100. Epub 2019 May 27.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK.

Background: The 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic highlighted the difficulty of collecting patient information during emergencies, especially in highly infectious environments. Health information systems (HISs) appropriate for such settings were lacking prior to this outbreak. Here we describe our development and implementation of paper and electronic HISs at the Sierra Leone Kerry Town Ebola treatment centre (ETC) from 2014 to 2015. We share our approach, experiences, and recommendations for future health emergencies.

Methods: We developed eight fact-finding questions about data-related needs, priorities, and restrictions at the ETC ("inputs") to inform eight structural decisions ("outputs") across six core HIS components. Semi-structured interviews about the "inputs" were then conducted with HIS stakeholders, chosen based on their teams' involvement in ETC HIS-related activities. Their responses were used to formulate the "output" results to guide the HIS design. We implemented the HIS using an Agile approach, monitored system usage, and developed a structured questionnaire on user experiences and opinions.

Results: Some key "input" responses were: 1) data needs for priorities (patient care, mandatory reporting); 2) challenges around infection control, limited equipment, and staff clinical/language proficiencies; 3) patient/clinical flows; and 4) weak points from staff turnover, infection control, and changing protocols. Key outputs included: 1) determining essential data, 2) data tool design decisions (e.g. large font sizes, checkboxes/buttons), 3) data communication methods (e.g. radio, "collective memory"), 4) error reduction methods (e.g. check digits, pre-written wristbands), and 5) data storage options (e.g. encrypted files, accessible folders). Implementation involved building data collection tools (e.g. 13 forms), preparing the systems (e.g. supplies), training staff, and maintenance (e.g. removing old forms). Most patients had basic (100%, n = 456/456), drug (96.9%, n = 442/456), and additional clinical/epidemiological (98.9%, n = 451/456) data stored. The questionnaire responses highlighted the importance of usability and simplicity in the HIS.

Conclusions: HISs during emergencies are often ad-hoc and disjointed, but systematic design and implementation can lead to high-quality systems focused on efficiency and ease of use. Many of the processes used and lessons learned from our work are generalizable to other health emergencies. Improvements should be started now to have rapidly adaptable and deployable HISs ready for the next health emergency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12911-019-0817-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6537453PMC
May 2019

Surviving Ebola: A historical cohort study of Ebola mortality and survival in Sierra Leone 2014-2015.

PLoS One 2018 27;13(12):e0209655. Epub 2018 Dec 27.

Save the Children International, Kerry Town, Sierra Leone.

Background: While a number of predictors for Ebola mortality have been identified, less is known about post-viral symptoms. The identification of acute-illness predictors for post-viral symptoms could allow the selection of patients for more active follow up in the future, and those in whom early interventions may be beneficial in the long term. Studying predictors of both mortality and post-viral symptoms within a single cohort of patients could also further our understanding of the pathophysiology of survivor sequelae.

Methods/principal Findings: We performed a historical cohort study using data collected as part of routine clinical care from an Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Kerry Town, Sierra Leone, in order to identify predictors of mortality and of post-viral symptoms. Variables included as potential predictors were sex, age, date of admission, first recorded viral load at the ETC and symptoms (recorded upon presentation at the ETC). Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify predictors. Of 263 Ebola-confirmed patients admitted between November 2014 and March 2015, 151 (57%) survived to ETC discharge. Viral load was the strongest predictor of mortality (adjusted OR comparing high with low viral load: 84.97, 95% CI 30.87-345.94). We did not find evidence that a high viral load predicted post-viral symptoms (ocular: 1.17, 95% CI 0.35-3.97; musculoskeletal: 1.07, 95% CI 0.28-4.08). Ocular post-viral symptoms were more common in females (2.31, 95% CI 0.98-5.43) and in those who had experienced hiccups during the acute phase (4.73, 95% CI 0.90-24.73).

Conclusions/significance: These findings may add epidemiological support to the hypothesis that post-viral symptoms have an immune-mediated aspect and may not only be a consequence of high viral load and disease severity.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0209655PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6307710PMC
May 2019

The Acceptability of Online Consent in a Self-Test Serosurvey of Responders to the 2014-2016 West African Ebola Outbreak.

Public Health Ethics 2018 Jul 22;11(2):201-212. Epub 2017 Dec 22.

Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Online participation in research is used increasingly to recruit geographically dispersed populations. Obtaining online consent is convenient, yet we know little about the acceptability of this practice. We carried out a serostudy among personnel returning to the UK/Ireland following deployment to West Africa during the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic. We used an online procedure for consenting returnees and designed a small descriptive study to understand: how much of the consent material they read, how informed they felt and if they preferred online to traditional face-to-face consent. Of 261 returnees, 111 (43 per cent) completed the consent survey. Participants indicated a high level of engagement with the consent materials, with 67 per cent reporting having read all and 20 per cent having read 'most' of the materials. All participants indicated feeling completely (78 per cent) or mostly (22 per cent) informed about the purpose, methods and intended uses of the research, as well as what participation was required and what risks were involved. Only three participants indicated a preference for face-to-face consent. Free-text comments suggested that online consent may be an acceptable modality for uncomplicated and low-risk studies. The study sample was largely composed of health professionals, suggesting acceptability of online consent within this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/phe/phx027DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6093377PMC
July 2018

Fentanyl self-testing outside supervised injection settings to prevent opioid overdose: Do we know enough to promote it?

Int J Drug Policy 2018 08 12;58:31-36. Epub 2018 May 12.

Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom; Centre for Social Research in Health, University of New South Wales, Australia.

Since 2013, North America has experienced a sharp increase in unintentional fatal overdoses: fentanyl, and its analogues, are believed to be primarily responsible. Currently, the most practical means for people who use drugs (PWUD) to avoid or mitigate risk of fentanyl-related overdose is to use drugs in the presence of someone who is in possession of, and experienced using, naloxone. Self-test strips which detect fentanyl, and some of its analogues, have been developed for off-label use allowing PWUD to test their drugs prior to consumption. We review the evidence on the off-label sensitivity and specificity of fentanyl test strips, and query whether the accuracy of fentanyl test strips might be mediated according to situated practices of use. We draw attention to the weak research evidence informing the use of fentanyl self-testing strips.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2018.04.017DOI Listing
August 2018

'Care and Prevent': rationale for investigating skin and soft tissue infections and AA amyloidosis among people who inject drugs in London.

Harm Reduct J 2018 05 8;15(1):23. Epub 2018 May 8.

Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, 79 Tithebarn Street, Liverpool, L2 2ER, UK.

Background: Skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among people who inject drugs (PWID). International data indicate up to one third of PWID have experienced an SSTI within the past month. Complications include sepsis, endocarditis and amyloid A (AA) amyloidosis. AA amyloidosis is a serious sequela of chronic SSTI among PWID. Though there is a paucity of literature reporting on AA amyloidosis among PWID, what has been published suggests there is likely a causal relationship between AA amyloidosis and injecting-related SSTI. If left untreated, AA amyloidosis can lead to renal failure; premature mortality among diagnosed PWID is high. Early intervention may reverse disease. Despite the high societal and individual burden of SSTI among PWID, empirical evidence on the barriers and facilitators to injecting-related SSTI prevention and care or the feasibility and acceptability of AA amyloidosis screening and treatment referral are limited. This study aims to fill these gaps and assess the prevalence of AA amyloidosis among PWID.

Methods: Care and Prevent is a UK National Institute for Health Research-funded mixed-methods study. In five phases (P1-P5), we aim to assess the evidence for AA amyloidosis among PWID (P1); assess the feasibility of AA amyloidosis screening, diagnostic and treatment referral among PWID in London (P2); investigate the barriers and facilitators to AA amyloidosis care (P3); explore SSTI protection and risk (P4); and co-create harm reduction resources with the affected community (P5). This paper describes the conceptual framework, methodological design and proposed analysis for the mixed-methods multi-phase study.

Results: We are implementing the Care and Prevent protocol in London. The systematic review component of the study has been completed and published. Care and Prevent will generate an estimate of AA amyloidosis prevalence among community recruited PWID in London, with implications for the development of screening recommendations and intervention implementation. We aim to recruit 400 PWID from drug treatment services in London, UK.

Conclusions: Care and Prevent is the first study to assess screening feasibility and the prevalence of positive proteinuria, as a marker for AA amyloidosis, among PWID accessing drug treatment services. AA amyloidosis is a serious, yet under-recognised condition for which early intervention is available but not employed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12954-018-0233-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941602PMC
May 2018

Drawing attention to a neglected injecting-related harm: a systematic review of AA amyloidosis among people who inject drugs.

Addiction 2018 10 8;113(10):1790-1801. Epub 2018 Jun 8.

Department of Public Health, Environments and Society, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

Background And Aims: Chronic skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) among people who inject drugs (PWID) can lead to AA amyloidosis: a serious, yet neglected, multi-organ disease. We aim to synthesize findings on the epidemiology, risk factors, clinical outcomes, screening recommendations and challenges to treatment for AA amyloidosis among PWID.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). We searched the following bibliographic databases in July 2017: CINAHL Plus, Embase, Global Health, MEDLINE, PsycEXTRA, PsycINFO and SCOPUS. Studies were included if they investigated AA amyloidosis in PWID. Studies were not restricted to location, study type, year or language of publication. Study heterogeneity precluded meta-analysis; we present a narrative review of the literature.

Results: Thirty-seven papers from eight countries met inclusion criteria. A total of 781 PWID are reported on, of whom 177 had AA amyloidosis. Where disease causality is established, it is attributed to chronic inflammation caused by injecting-related SSTIs. Most (88.7%) PWID with AA amyloidosis had SSTIs. The proportion of PWID with AA amyloidosis at post-mortem ranged from 1.6% (Germany) to 22.5% (Serbia). Biopsy studies reported from 5.26% (Portugal) to 50% (Germany) of AA amyloidosis in PWID with suspected or known kidney disease. Following diagnosis, the typical trajectory for PWID with AA amyloidosis was rapid deterioration of renal function requiring haemodialysis. Treatment difficulties, end-stage renal failure and premature death from sepsis were observed. Good outcomes, including reversibility of AA amyloidosis, are attributed to rapid treatment of the underlining inflammation and injecting cessation. Notably, given the population in question, no studies were published in addiction or harm reduction journals; most (92%) appeared in specialist nephrology and medical journals.

Conclusion: There is strong evidence of an association between skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) and AA amyloidosis. Among people who inject drugs, injecting-related SSTIs are a significant cause of morbidity and premature mortality and there is evidence of increasing SSTI prevalence. Limitations in the literature make it difficult to estimate AA amyloidosis prevalence among people who inject drugs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/add.14257DOI Listing
October 2018

Ebola exposure, illness experience, and Ebola antibody prevalence in international responders to the West African Ebola epidemic 2014-2016: A cross-sectional study.

PLoS Med 2017 05 16;14(5):e1002300. Epub 2017 May 16.

Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.

Background: Healthcare and other front-line workers are at particular risk of infection with Ebola virus (EBOV). Despite the large-scale deployment of international responders, few cases of Ebola virus disease have been diagnosed in this group. Since asymptomatic or pauci-symptomatic infection has been described, it is plausible that infections have occurred in healthcare workers but have escaped being diagnosed. We aimed to assess the prevalence of asymptomatic or pauci-symptomatic infection, and of exposure events, among returned responders to the West African Ebola epidemic 2014-2016.

Methods And Findings: We used snowball sampling to identify responders who had returned to the UK or Ireland, and used an online consent and questionnaire to determine their exposure to EBOV and their experience of illness. Oral fluid collection devices were sent and returned by post, and samples were tested using an EBOV IgG capture assay that detects IgG to Ebola glycoprotein. Blood was collected from returnees with reactive samples for further testing. Unexposed UK controls were also recruited. In all, 300 individuals consented, of whom 268 (89.3%) returned an oral fluid sample (OFS). The majority had worked in Sierra Leone in clinical, laboratory, research, and other roles. Fifty-three UK controls consented and provided samples using the same method. Of the returnees, 47 (17.5%) reported that they had had a possible EBOV exposure. Based on their free-text descriptions, using a published risk assessment method, we classified 43 (16%) as having had incidents with risk of Ebola transmission, including five intermediate-risk and one high-risk exposure. Of the returnees, 57 (21%) reported a febrile or diarrhoeal illness in West Africa or within 1 mo of return, of whom 40 (70%) were not tested at the time for EBOV infection. Of the 268 OFSs, 266 were unreactive. Two returnees, who did not experience an illness in West Africa or on return, had OFSs that were reactive on the EBOV IgG capture assay, with similar results on plasma. One individual had no further positive test results; the other had a positive result on a double-antigen bridging assay but not on a competitive assay or on an indirect EBOV IgG ELISA. All 53 controls had non-reactive OFSs. While the participants were not a random sample of returnees, the number participating was high.

Conclusions: This is the first study, to our knowledge, of the prevalence of EBOV infection in international responders. More than 99% had clear negative results. Sera from two individuals had discordant results on the different assays; both were negative on the competitive assay, suggesting that prior infection was unlikely. The finding that a significant proportion experienced "near miss" exposure events, and that most of those who experienced symptoms did not get tested for EBOV at the time, suggests a need to review and standardise protocols for the management of possible exposure to EBOV, and for the management of illness, across organisations that deploy staff to outbreaks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002300DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433702PMC
May 2017