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Pritpal S Tamber: Moustaches, fund raising, and independence from the current healthcare system

24 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

pritpal_tamber_2014I am growing a moustache. This is not the kind of thing you usually need to broadcast, but I am growing it as part of Movember because I believe these kinds of mission specific campaigns are crucial to finding new ways to fund health related services. more…

Richard Lehman’s journal review—24 November 2014

24 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

richard_lehmanNEJM 20 November 2014 Vol 371
1963 The melanoma trials last week got me thinking about how the current model of cancer drug research lets down trial participants and dying patients. Between 2002 and 2014, there have been 71 drug approvals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of metastatic and/or advanced and/or refractory solid tumours. The median gain in survival provided by these is 2.1 months. I discovered these figures in an excellent paper in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, a journal that some of you may not read. I don’t know how it got hidden there. more…

The BMJ Today: Why are we bringing back smoking?

24 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

As an ex-smoker who gave up the habit with huge difficulty 30 years ago, I have been pleased at the way smoking has become increasingly invisible in my life. First it disappeared from advertisements on my television screen, then from colleagues in my office, and then from my pub.

But now it is reappearing. Last week a television advertisement for cigarettes was aired, and on Friday night I sat next to two smokers in my local. Admittedly, these people are “vaping” e-cigarettes, rather than “smoking” tobacco, but it is still thrusting the habit back in my face. And it is worth mentioning that the companies who make e-cigarettes are largely the same ones who make the real thing. more…

David Zigmond: Payments for diagnosing dementia—what are the hidden costs?

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

david_zigmond2Payment by results in matters of complex welfare can easily subtract from, rather than add to, our greater good. The recent and mooted NHS initiative for payment by results—to pay GPs £55 for each new dementia diagnosis—matches any folly in our contemporary gallery of well intentioned welfare misconceptions.

This fresh folly draws from these simplistic assumptions: that dementia is an illness that is underdiagnosed and undertreated; that doctors are undermotivated to address these problems; and that financial incentives will substantially change our burdens from dementia. more…

Paul Laboi: Making dialysis care more person centred

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

PaulLaboiIt’s increasingly recognised that empowering people to take a greater role in managing their healthcare is beneficial for both patients and healthcare professionals, especially for those living with long term conditions. Evidence shows that many people enjoy taking an active role in their treatment, and that doing so can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life.

Take the example of people living with kidney disease, 20 000 of whom receive dialysis in the UK each year. Kidney dialysis is an essential but demanding procedure, which removes waste and excess fluid from the blood. It usually takes three to four hours at a time, three times a week. more…

Will Stahl-Timmins: Data visualisation is beautiful

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ Group

will_Stahl-TimminsDavid McCandless’s talk at the Royal Statistical Society

David McCandless is perhaps the best ­known information graphic designer of our time. He exploded onto the design stage a few years ago with the coffee­ table book Information is Beautiful, based on the corresponding blog website of the same name. The website now also hosts the Information is Beautiful Awards, which has just announced its third set of winners. He has recently released a second book, Knowledge is Beautiful, and has been giving a number of talks to showcase the new work contained within this colourful tome.

As The BMJ’s resident data graphics designer, I dutifully booked myself a seat at his talk at the Royal Statistical Society to see what health­ related graphics he might be presenting. more…

The BMJ Today: Sex, babies, and future plans

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

sally_carterI don’t get out much, but with blogs like the one by Nigel Hawkes to read, I don’t feel I need to. It gave me a great picture of the latest exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London, which is about sexuality and the scientists who studied it . He writes, “ . . . at the heart of the exhibition are the sexual explorers, from Magnus Hirschfeld to Masters and Johnson.” And they seem a strange bunch. more…

Chris​ Simms: What can Senegal teach the West about dealing with Ebola?

20 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

Chris_simsTen years ago, Peter Piot (the discoverer of Ebola) wrote the foreword to a collaborative effort on HIV strategies by nearly 200 scientists. He warned that an effective country response to the epidemic requires adherence to the so called “Three Ones” principle: a single national strategy, coordinated by one agency, and supported by one monitoring and evaluation framework. This advice applies as much to the Ebola crisis as it did to HIV—in rich and poor countries alike. more…

Khaled E Emam: Pseudonymous data is not anonymous data

20 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

khaled_e_emamRecently, efforts have been made to make health data more generally available for secondary purposes, including research. These include the recent policy announcements from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on making clinical trials data available, industry efforts to do the same, as well as care.data in the UK.

All of these are premised on being able to anonymize the data properly before it is shared, and in a manner that will meet multiple requirements: (a) ensure that the probability of re-identifying individual patients is small, (b) meet the regulatory and legal thresholds for what is an anonymized data set, and (c) ensure that the anonymized data quality is sufficiently high to allow meaningful analysis. more…

Nigel Hawkes: Searching for truth behind the taboos—or how science demystified sex

20 Nov, 14 | by BMJ Group

nigel_hawkesSerious students of sex, from Krafft-Ebing onwards, have not always had an easy time, possibly because some of them were distinctly odd. A new exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London, The Institute of Sexology, explores the world of those brave pioneers through documents, photographs, letters, films, and objects that trace the gradual unveiling of sexual behaviour by science. more…

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