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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 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…

The BMJ Today: Tweet, share, and like

20 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

Emma-ParishOne of my personal goals this year was to become more tech savvy and engage with social media. I already had a Facebook account. I even had a Twitter account, but felt my interest was, well, quite shallow as I basically used it to hear the occasional ponderings of my old teenage heartthrobs.

So, imagine my delight when I read how much serious good can be done with this technology. In her feature, Meg Carter reports how Twitter may have helped Nigeria contain Ebola. Through the campaign @EbolaAlert, Lawal Bakare, a Nigerian dentist, shared information with 76 000 followers, connecting them with public health advice from the World Health Organization. more…

What’s the leading cause of death among children in Bangladesh? It’s not what you think

19 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

Jocalyn_Clark1The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) program focused needed attention on unacceptably high levels of child deaths across the world, dedicating its MDG4 target to reducing the under 5 mortality rate by two thirds by 2015. Considerable gains have been achieved overall and many countries are on track toward that target.

Beneath the overall trends are more specific ones. These deserve more attention. This month a remarkable and unprecedented new dataset of individual deaths across the developing world sheds light on often hidden trends. more…

Billy Boland: Final thoughts on the NHS Leadership Academy

19 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

billy_bolandHaving made my final submission for the NHS Leadership Academy, and after being told I’ve passed the course by my learning set, the programme should be in the bag. That is unless there are any last minute surprises from the validating board coming up.

I’ve always enjoyed the space between handing in coursework and getting my results. Given that I don’t yet officially know my fate, I thought now would be the right time to give my reflections on the programme as a whole. Here are some things to think about (Dos and Don’ts) if you’re considering applying yourself: more…

The BMJ Today: Safe self monitoring and patient treatments

19 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

Hypertensive disorders in pregnancy are a leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide, with associated problems of poor foetal growth, low birth weight, and preterm delivery. While there is a trend towards pregnant women monitoring their own blood pressure, a recent analysis article asks if this is safe and effective? Guidelines encourage it and research suggests that women prefer it, however, Hodgkinson and colleagues advise caution.

They list some of the disadvantages of self monitoring, including the lack of validation of some monitors, as well as no diagnostic thresholds from home monitoring to identify pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension. The authors call for a strengthening of the evidence base before this is recommended as a formally accepted part of antenatal care. more…

Colin Brown: In the field in Sierra Leone—part two

18 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

colin brownIn the second instalment of this blog series, I will share some ongoing challenges faced by Sierra Leone in treating Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). I will also share some success stories and how both will help shape the future of healthcare in the region.


This week I watched several people die in front of me, helpless to do anything. As health professionals, this is not what we are trained for. We assess. We diagnose. We treat. One young man was being cared for in an isolation unit, waiting for his test result to come back. It had been two days since it was sent and a result was expected later that day. It would be too late. A fit, young, muscular man, he was propped upright by his younger brother—also suspected of having EVD. His breathing was laboured, his eyes vacant, his body limp. He died in his brother’s arms a minute later. more…

Lawrence Haddad: Think we can’t end global malnutrition by 2030? Think again

18 Nov, 14 | by BMJ Group

L_Haddad_twitter_400x400There is a public health crisis that is threatening the health and lives of men, women, and children across our planet at an alarming rate, and the richest nations are affected as well as the poorest. And the sad truth is that many nations in the world have not made addressing the crisis a high enough priority to successfully combat it. We are not talking about Ebola, which has claimed the lives of some 5000 people worldwide. Malnutrition—in the form of stunting, obesity, heart disease, and early death—affects at least 2 billion people worldwide. more…

Desmond O’Neill: A gerontological fear of missing out

18 Nov, 14 | by BMJ Group

desmond_oneillFaced with a gerontology conference with 30 parallel sessions over five days, the texting argot of teenagers comes in handy. To LOL and YOLO has been added FOMO: Fear of Missing Out! Effective FOMO management strategies involve several ingredients. The first is not change between sessions as invariably the timetable has changed in the other room, undermining the experience of both sessions.

The second is reassurance that repeated scrutiny of the programme book to choose sessions bestows a flavour of the hot issues in gerontology. Mixing during coffee breaks and receptions to hear what other delegates found interesting is equally important.

Finally, the poster sessions offer the best opportunity to pick and mix, as well as for serious discussion. Platform presenters are as moved by fear of looking foolish as by science, so dialogue at oral sessions tends to be correspondingly less free-ranging. more…

The BMJ Today: Gender and health—are men and women so different?

18 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

navjoyt_ladherThere are differences in the way men and women experience healthcare. Sometimes this is because the sex of a person confers a particular risk for a disease. Sometimes societal norms and cultural values lead to inequalities between men and women, which in turn affect health. Several articles published on in the past couple of days illustrate these differences.

In India, 13 women have died after having laparascopic sterilisation as part of a government run mass sterilisation programme in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. A further 14 women are described as “seriously ill.” As part of India’s attempts to control population growth, people are offered financial incentives to undergo sterilisation. These payments are offered for both vasectomy and female sterilisation; however, of the four million sterilisations that were carried out last year in India, 97% were in women. Given that vasectomy is considered a safer and less complex operation than tubal ligation, one wonders what is behind this particular difference? more…

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