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Gustav Nilsonne: Towards an ecosystem for open data

24 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Gustav_Nilsonne_2Have you ever tried to get your hands on data from somebody else’s scientific paper? I have, for a meta-analysis. In my experience it is a discouraging task. If data still exist at all, they are too often kept under lock and key. Savage and Vickers tried to retrieve 10 datasets from papers published in PLoS journals. They received only one, even though the PLoS journal policies at the time required that data be shared on request. Vines et al tried to retrieve datasets from 516 papers in ecology from two to 22 years old. They received only 101 (19%).

This shows that in some areas, it is too often the case that our current practices for data archiving and sharing are no better than if we were to purge our records by fire from time to time. Since excellent technical solutions are now available for publishing open data of most kinds, there is no excuse for allowing this attrition to continue. more…

The BMJ Today: Swingers, surrogacy, and three parent families

24 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

tom_m_sepSexual health and parenthood feature prominently in The BMJ today, in news stories that highlight the need to ensure policies are based on evidence and not prejudice.

Jacqui Wise describes a study that finds that heterosexual couples who swap partners or have group sex have high rates of sexually transmitted infections, a finding that may not surprise many readers.  more…

William Cayley: Social history consultations and patient time vs patient time

23 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

bill_cayley_2Who are you, what do you need, and how do I figure out how to care for you?

Fundamentally, those are the questions that drive every encounter between a doctor and a patient. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine calls for us to expand the “social history” facet of this to include six domains: individual characteristics, life circumstances, emotional health, perceptions of healthcare, health related behaviors, and access to and utilization of health. more…

Sally Norton: Weight loss—help us to help ourselves

23 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

sally_nortonIf I hear one more time that keeping your weight down is all about personal responsibility—”just eat less and exercise more”—I will take a double chocolate, banana, and salted caramel, extra large, two for the price of one muffin and ram it into the mouth from whence this smug platitude came.

Of course weight control is about personal responsibility, but with two thirds of the English population classed as overweight, most of us are clearly unable to do the necessary on our own. So, do we just carry on, failing to manage our weight ourselves, or do we ask for help? more…

Richard Graham: Is technology changing the brain—how to interpret and advise on the evidence

23 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Richard GrahamThe recent release of a study by the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, University of Sussex, which said that it had found changes in the structure of the brain caused by technology media multi-tasking, coincided with a panel discussion about just that at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. more…

The BMJ Today: Get your sums right

23 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

The big news today is the publication of the chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens’s five year plan for the NHS.

As Gareth Iacobucci reports in The BMJ today, the report has a strong focus on public health and the prevention of illness. Unsurprisingly, this includes Stevens’s pet topic of tackling obesity.

Stevens claims the report marks a “crossroads” for the NHS. It calls for the historical boundaries between primary and secondary care to be broken down and for new models of care to be developed, such as NHS hospitals taking control of general practice services or GPs heading up multispecialty provider groups. more…

Neal Maskrey: How do we become an expert?

22 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

neal_maskreyWe humans often use analogies to help us solve problems. From our memory, we identify a problem similar to—but not exactly the same as—the one we are currently faced with, and apply the previous successful approach to the new problem. It’s called analogical reasoning. Sometimes we get great results, sometimes not so much.

I recently came across a great analogy from Brian Goldman, an accident and emergency doctor in Toronto. more…

James Raftery: NICE and value based pricing—is this the end?

22 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Since Andrew Lansley announced in 2010 that the NHS would in future use “value based pricing” in its purchases of pharmaceuticals, civil servants and (more recently) the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have been struggling to develop an approach for how this could be implemented. For the twists and turns, see previous blogs on the topic.

At its September board meeting, NICE considered a document on “value based assessment.” This made recommendations based on the results of NICE’s recent consultation. The document provided greater detail than NICE’s press release of 18 September. more…

The BMJ Today: Stop reviewing GP crisis and plan a solution

22 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Two articles just posted on thebmj.com focus on general practice—the crisis that is engulfing it, how it suffers at the hand of political promises, and what action can preserve its future.

Veronica Wilkie, professor of primary care at the Institute of Health and Society at Worcester University, compares the current crisis to that in 1950 when JS Collings, an Australian researcher who had observed 55 practices, attacked general practice for being outdated, rarely satisfactory, and a potential danger to public health. more…

Wilm Quentin: NCDs and the private sector—part of the problem or part of the solution?

21 Oct, 14 | by BMJ

Wilm_QuentinOne of the last sessions of the European Health Forum Gastein aimed to find answers to the question of how to engage the private sector in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Gauden Galea, director of the Division of NCDs and Life-Course at the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe, and organiser and moderator of the session, asked: “What are the first steps that we can take to activate the private sector in collaboration for NCD prevention and control?” more…

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