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Welcome to the BMJ Open blog. BMJ Open is an open access journal, dedicated to publishing medical research from all disciplines and therapeutic areas.

Find out more about the journal here.

We will be updating the blog with news about the journal, highly accessed papers, press coverage, events and matters of interest in the open access and publishing world, and anything else that catches our eye.

Top 10 Most Read in July: Link Worker social prescribing, best practice in sex and relationship education, and menstrual hygiene management among Bangladeshi adolescent schoolgirls

14 Aug, 17 | by Emma Gray

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An assortment of study designs made it into the Top 10 Most Read articles in July: among the popular studies were a systematic review, a protocol for a prospective observational study, and a qualitative study of service user perceptions.

At number one this month is a longitudinal cohort study by Xie et al examining the association between Proton Pump Inhibitors and the risk of all-cause mortality. Moffatt et al enter the chart at number two with their study on Link Worker social prescribing to improve health and well-being for people with long-term conditions. Undertaking a qualitative study using semistructured interviews with thematic analysis, they seek to describe the experiences of patients with long-term conditions who are referred to and engage with a Link Worker social prescribing programme and identify the impact of this programme.

Reaching number three this month is a study from Pound et al looking at what makes sex and education programmes effective, acceptable and sustainable. At number four is a systematic review investigating how different terminology used for the same condition can influence management preferences and psychological outcomes, concluding that changing the terminology used may be one strategy to reduce patient preferences for aggressive management responses to low-risk conditions. A cross-sectional study on the use of snus and its association with respiratory and sleep-related symptoms remains in the top ten this month at number six, while at number ten we have a new entry from Bangladesh examining the association of menstrual hygiene management knowledge, facilities and practice with absence from school during menstruation among Bangladeshi schoolgirls.

Rank Author(s) Title
1 Xie et al. Risk of death among users of Proton Pump Inhibitors: a longitudinal observational cohort study of United States veterans
2 Moffatt et al. Link Worker social prescribing to improve health and well-being for people with long-term conditions: qualitative study of service user perceptions
3 Pound et al.
4 Nickel et al. Words do matter: a systematic review on how different terminology for the same condition influences management preferences
5 Rambaud et al. Criteria for Return to Sport after Anterior Cruciate Ligament reconstruction with lower reinjury risk (CRSTAL study): protocol for a prospective observational study in France
6 Gudnadóttir et al. An investigation on the use of snus and its association with respiratory and sleep-related symptoms: a cross-sectional population study
7 Ooba et al. Lipid-lowering drugs and risk of new-onset diabetes: a cohort study using Japanese healthcare data linked to clinical data for health screening
8 Kennedy et al. Coffee, including caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis
9 Fabbri et al. A cross-sectional analysis of pharmaceutical industry-funded events for health professionals in Australia
10 Alam et al. Menstrual hygiene management among Bangladeshi adolescent schoolgirls and risk factors affecting school absence: results from a cross-sectional survey

Most read figures are based on pdf downloads and full text views. Abstract views are excluded.

Top 10 Most Read in June: snus and snoring, long-term antibiotic treatment in times of resistance, the success of the NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship, and serious video gaming for coping with pain

7 Jul, 17 | by Yaiza del Pozo Martin

Six new articles made their way up to the Top 10 Most Read list of BMJ Open in June. Maintaining the top position for the second consecutive month is the systematic review and meta-analysis by Oliver Kennedy and colleagues establishing an association between coffee consumption and reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of liver cancer. The study suggests that drinking two cups of caffeinated coffee or more per day can reduce the risk of developing liver cancer. The authors also include for the first time in this type of analysis decaffeinated coffee, finding a similar but weaker positive association.

At number two, making its way to the top, is a new entry associating snus, a moist powder tobacco product shown in the image below, with a higher occurrence of common respiratory conditions such as asthma and snoring. Previous studies examining the health impact of this type of moist oral tobacco were contradictory; therefore Gudnadóttir and colleagues conducted a survey in a large population living in Sweden to shed some light on this issue. The study found that snus use by never-smokers was associated with a higher risk of developing asthma and respiratory conditions. Snoring and difficulty to fall asleep was equally related to both, former and current users of snus.

At number six, a systematic review and meta-analysis by Ahmed and colleagues compiling evidence from three clinical trials shows that long-term antibiotic therapy can prevent recurrent urinary tract infection in old adults. This study is timely given that nowadays, with antibiotic resistance on the rise, antibiotic use must be justified by robust evidence.

Among the other new entries last month is a retrospective analysis assessing the impact of the NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) scheme on clinical academic careers in England over the last 10 years. The Integrated Academic Training Programme was launched in October 2005 by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to provide predoctoral academic training during the specialty training period for doctors and dentists. The researchers found that trainee doctors undertaking this fellowship were more likely to secure an externally funded doctoral training award and the vast majority of awardees move into academic roles, with many completing PhDs. The study concludes that the NIHR ACF scheme is successful as part of an integrated training pathway in developing careers in academic medicine and dentistry.

Finally, at the bottom of the list, is a protocol describing a mixed-methods study to evaluate whether serious video games, as part of a multidisciplinary rehabilitation intervention, can improve the health outcomes of patients with complex chronic pain and fatigue complaints. ‘Serious games’ are video games developed to promote health benefits. Previous studies have shown that different serious games can improve motivation for physical activity and cognitive stimulation.  In this study protocol, Vugts and colleagues propose a new serious game called LAKA that aims to facilitate patient learning about living with complex chronic pain. The study is still ongoing, but the upcoming results may determine whether improvements in pain intensity, pain coping and fatigue in people with chronic pain can be attributed to serious gaming.

 

Rank Author(s) Title
1 Kennedy et al. Coffee, including caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis
2 Gudnadóttir et al. An investigation on the use of snus and its association with respiratory and sleep-related symptoms: a cross-sectional population study
3 Ferrando et al. The accuracy of postoperative, non-invasive Air-Test to diagnose atelectasis in healthy patients after surgery: a prospective, diagnostic pilot study
4 Brignardello-Petersen et al. Knee arthroscopy versus conservative management in patients with degenerative knee disease: a systematic review
5 Bjellmo et al. Is vaginal breech delivery associated with higher risk for perinatal death and cerebral palsy compared with vaginal cephalic birth? Registry-based cohort study in Norway
6 Ahmed et al. Long-term antibiotics for prevention of recurrent urinary tract infection in older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials
7 Albarqouni et al. The quality of reports of medical and public health research from Palestinian institutions: a systematic review
8 Clough et al.  What impact has the NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship (ACF) scheme had on clinical academic careers in England over the last 10 years? A retrospective study
9 Gartlehner et al. Pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for major depressive disorder: review of systematic reviews
10 Vugts et al. Serious gaming during multidisciplinary rehabilitation for patients with complex chronic pain or fatigue complaints: study protocol for a controlled trial and process evaluation

*Most read figures are based on pdf downloads and full text views. Abstract views are excluded.

Drugs to curb excess stomach acid may be linked to heightened risk of death

3 Jul, 17 | by Emma Gray

May be time to restrict use of widely available proton pump inhibitors, say researchers

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)—a widely available class of drug designed to curb excess stomach acid production—may be linked to a heightened risk of death, indicates research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Given how widely available these drugs are, and the accumulating evidence pointing to links with a range of potentially serious side effects, it may be time to restrict the indications for use and duration of treatment with PPIs, suggest the researchers.

Recent research has indicated a link between PPI use and a heightened risk of chronic kidney disease/kidney disease progression, dementia, C difficile infections, and bone fractures in people with brittle bone disease (osteoporosis).

Although far from conclusive, emerging evidence suggests that PPIs may boost the risk of tissue damage arising from normal cellular processes, known as oxidative stress, as well as the shortening of telomeres, which sit on the end of chromosomes and perform a role similar to the plastic tips on the end of shoelaces.

The researchers base their findings on national US data obtained from a network of integrated healthcare systems involving more than 6 million people whose health was tracked for an average of almost six years—until 2013 or death, whichever came first.

They carried out three comparative analyses: those taking PPIs with those taking another type of drug used to dampen down acid production called histamine H2 receptor antagonists or H2 blockers for short  (349, 312 people); users and non-users of PPIs (3,288,092 people);  and users of PPIs with people taking neither PPIs nor H2 blockers.

Compared with H2 blocker use, PPI use was associated with a 25% heightened risk of death from all causes, a risk that increased the longer PPIs were taken.

The other analyses revealed a similar level of risk between users and non-users of PPIs and between those taking PPIs and those taking no acid suppressant drugs.

The risk of death was also heightened among those who were taking PPIs despite having no appropriate medical indication for their use, such as ulcers, H pylori infection, Barrett’s oesophagus (pre-cancerous changes to the food pipe) and gullet (oesophageal) cancer.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, added to which participants were mostly older white US veterans, possibly limiting the wider applicability of the findings. Nor were the researchers able to obtain information on the causes of death.

Although there is no obvious biological explanation for their findings, the researchers nevertheless suggest that the consistency of their results and the growing body of evidence linking PPI use with a range of side effects is “compelling.”

They write: “Although our results should not deter prescription and use of PPIs where medically indicated, they may be used to encourage and promote pharmacovigilance [monitoring the side-effects of licensed drugs] and [they] emphasise the need to exercise judicious use of PPIs and limit use and duration of therapy to instances where there is a clear medical indication and where benefit outweighs potential risk.”

Top 10 Most Read in May: Coffee and liver cancer risk, vaginal breech delivery and perinatal death, and the association between area deprivation and generalised anxiety disorder in women versus men.

14 Jun, 17 | by Ed Sucksmith

7 new entries make it into May’s top 10 most read articles. Knocking Ravnskov et al.’s study off the top spot is a systematic review and meta-analysis of coffee and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by Oliver Kennedy and colleagues. Their study suggests that increasing coffee consumption by two cups per day is associated with a 35% reduction in the risk of HCC. At number 3 is a national cohort study of over 520,000 term-born singletons by researchers from Norway who have found that vaginal breech delivery is associated with an excess risk for neonatal mortality compared with vaginal cephalic delivery, but not with an excess risk for cerebral palsy. Other new entries include a large population study of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) in the UK by researchers from the University of Cambridge, who have found that area deprivation is significantly associated with an increased risk for GAD in women, but not in men.

 

Rank Author(s) Title
1 Kennedy et al. Coffee, including caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis
2 Ravnskov et al. Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review
3 Bjellmo et al. Is vaginal breech delivery associated with higher risk for perinatal death and cerebral palsy compared with vaginal cephalic birth? Registry-based cohort study in Norway
4 Ferrando et al. The accuracy of postoperative, non-invasive Air-Test to diagnose atelectasis in healthy patients after surgery: a prospective, diagnostic pilot study
5 Brignardello-Petersen  et al. Knee arthroscopy versus conservative management in patients with degenerative knee disease: a systematic review
6 Fenton et al. Systematic review of the association between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer
7 Remes et al. Sex differences in the association between area deprivation and generalised anxiety disorder: British population study
8 May et al. Autism spectrum disorder: updated prevalence and comparison of two birth cohorts in a nationally representative Australian sample
9 Bickerdike et al. Social prescribing: less rhetoric and more reality. A systematic review of the evidence
10 Li et al. Randomised controlled trial of online continuing education for health professionals to improve the management of chronic fatigue syndrome: a study protocol

*Most read figures are based on pdf downloads and full text views. Abstract views are excluded.

Top 10 most read in April: low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly, social prescribing and non-pharmacological interventions for behavioural disturbances in older patients with dementia

8 May, 17 | by Hemali Bedi

April sees five new entries in the top 10 most read articles. Reaching number one this month is a systematic review of cohort studies by Ravnskov et al, which investigates the association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and mortality in the elderly. Results indicate that high LDL-C is inversely associated with mortality in most people aged over 60, questioning the validity of the cholesterol hypothesis. In light of their results, Ravnskov et al suggest that a re-evaluation of the guidelines recommending pharmacological reduction of LDL-C in the elderly is needed.

Palser et al are in at number three with a qualitative study exploring the views of people with cystic fibrosis, and those close to them, of their first experience of respiratory infection from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Reaching number five is a systematic review assessing the evidence for the effectiveness of social prescribing. Bickerdike at al were not able to measure success or cost effectiveness due to limited detail in the data collected, but found that social prescribing is widely implemented and encouraged.

Also making its way into the top ten is a systematic review and meta-analysis by Whiting et al evaluating the risks and benefits of temporarily discontinuing medications to prevent acute kidney injury. Finally, at number 10 this month is a systematic review of systematic reviews by Abraha et el, which provides an overview of non-pharmacological interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia (BPSD). Abraha et el found great variation in how the same treatments are applied and assessed and that conclude that music therapy and behavioural management treatments were effective for reducing BPSD.

Rank Author(s) Title
1 Ravnskov et al. Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review
2 Fenton et al. Systematic review of the association between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer
3 Palser et al. Perception of first respiratory infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa by people with cystic fibrosis and those close to them: an online qualitative study
4  Loo et al. Association between neighbourhood walkability and metabolic risk factors influenced by physical activity: a cross-sectional study of adults in Toronto, Canada
5 Bickerdike et al. Social prescribing: less rhetoric and more reality. A systematic review of the evidence
6 Williams et al. Childhood academic ability in relation to cigarette, alcohol and cannabis use from adolescence into early adulthood: Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE)
7 Nguyen et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses based on a large Australian sample
8 Whiting et al.  What are the risks and benefits of temporarily discontinuing medications to prevent acute kidney injury? A systematic review and meta-analysis
9 Hoxha et al. Caesarean sections and for-profit status of hospitals: systematic review and meta-analysis
10 Abraha et al. Systematic review of systematic reviews of non-pharmacological interventions to treat behavioural disturbances in older patients with dementia. The SENATOR-OnTop series

*Most read figures are based on pdf downloads and full text views. Abstract views are excluded.

Top 10 Most Read in March: Caesarean section and for-profit status of hospitals, mental health links to diet, and weight discrimination

10 Apr, 17 | by Emma Gray

Caesarean sections and for-profit status of hospitals, the link between diet and mental health, and the effect of weight discrimination on physical activity

File:Fruits and Vegetables at Pike Place Market.jpg

The Top 10 Most Read articles in March showed great variety in topics and study types. In the top spot this month is a systematic review and meta-analysis by Hoxha et al discussing the association of for-profit status of a hospital and the odds of a woman having a caesarean section. Nguyen et al, at number four, undertake a cross-sectional study to investigate the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and the prevalence of psychological distress in middle-ages and older Australians, finding that there is potential for increased fruit and vegetable consumption in helping to reduce psychological distress. Reaching number seven this month is a study looking at the association between perceived weight discrimination and physical activity, by Jackson and Steptoe of UCL. At number eight this month we see a clinical trial comparing flucloxacillin with clindamycin to flucloxacillin alone for the treatment of limb cellulitis, while at number ten we have a pilot study carried out to inform the design of a future trial to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a pharmacist-delivered medicines reconciliation service.

Rank Author(s) Title
1 Hoxha et al. Caesarean sections and for-profit status of hospitals: systematic review and meta-analysis
2 Burt et al. Understanding negative feedback from South Asian patients: an experimental vignette study
3 Ravnskov et al.
4 Nguyen et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and psychological distress: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses based on a large Australian sample
5 Williams et al. Childhood academic ability in relation to cigarette, alcohol and cannabis use from adolescence into early adulthood: Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE)
6 Fenton et al. Systematic review of the association between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer
7 Jackson et al. Association between perceived weight discrimination and physical activity: a population-based study among English middle-aged and older adults
8 Brindle et al. Adjunctive clindamycin for cellulitis: a clinical trial comparing flucloxacillin with or without clindamycin for the treatment of limb cellulitis
9 Abraha et al. Systematic review of systematic reviews of non-pharmacological interventions to treat behavioural disturbances in older patients with dementia. The SENATOR-OnTop series
10 Cadman et al. Pharmacist provided medicines reconciliation within 24 hours of admission and on discharge: a randomised controlled pilot study

Most read figures are based on pdf downloads and full text views. Abstract views are excluded.

Top 10 Most Read: Negative primary care feedback from minority ethnic patients, higher caesarean sections in for-profit hospitals, adolescents’ sex and drug habits, and biased psychology

13 Mar, 17 | by Yaiza del Pozo Martin

 

 

February sees five new entries in the top 10 most read articles. At number one this month is an experimental vignette study investigating why minority ethnic groups report poorer primary care experience in patient surveys. Burt and colleagues designed an experiment in the UK to determine whether South Asian people rate simulated GP consultations the same or differently from White British. The findings suggest that the lower scores reported by Pakistani patients in national surveys represent genuinely worse experiences of communication compared to the White British majority.

Making its way up to the top and catching significant online attention, is a systematic review exploring whether researchers’ conflicts of interest are adequately reported in publications related to psychological therapies. The authors show that non-financial conflicts of interests, especially the inclusion of own primary studies and researcher allegiance, are frequently seen in systematic reviews in the field of psychology.

At number five, another systematic review and meta-analysis exploring the connections between caesarean sections and for-profit status of hospitals. Hoxha and colleagues establish that regardless of women’s risk and contextual factors, private for-profit hospitals are more likely to perform caesarean interventions to women as compared with non for profit hospitals. The authors recommend examining the incentive structures of for-profit hospitals to set strategies that encourage appropriate provision of caesarean sections.

Other new entries on February include two research papers looking at adolescent’s behaviours. The first one is an interesting epidemiological study concluding that brainy adolescents are at a reduced risk of cigarette smoking, but are more likely to drink alcohol regularly and use cannabis. The second on is a qualitative study exploring the views and experiences of young people about their school-based sex and relationship education.

The two most read articles the previous month, systematic reviews by Ravnskov et al. and Fenton et al., stay up in the ranking at the second and third positions respectively. January’s highlight article, a cohort study by Anick Bérard and colleagues indicating that antidepressants increase the risk of a wide range of organ-specific malformations, continues halfway through the ranking. Also, an enlightening survey by Boulton and colleagues reporting the unacceptably high amount of sugars hidden in drinks marketed to children continues to be highly read.

Finally, the cross-sectional study by Murdoch and colleagues investigating the lack of evidence and efficacy, and potential harmful effects, of a clinic website in Canada offering naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture to treat serious conditions such as allergy and asthma, continues to grow in popularity online. In light of the results, the authors call for a policy response to safeguard the public interest. We would like to take this opportunity to direct you to: Should doctors recommend homeopathy?

 

Rank Author(s) Title
1 Burt et al. Understanding negative feedback from South Asian patients: an experimental vignette study
2 Ravnskov et al. Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review
3  Fenton et al. Systematic review of the association between dietary acid load, alkaline water and cancer
4  Lieb et al. Conflicts of interest and spin in reviews of psychological therapies: a systematic review
5 Hoxha et al. Caesarean sections and for-profit status of hospitals: systematic review and meta-analysis
6 Bérard et al. Antidepressant use during pregnancy and the risk of major congenital malformations in a cohort of depressed pregnant women: an updated analysis of the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort
7 Murdoch et al. Selling falsehoods? A cross-sectional study of Canadian naturopathy, homeopathy, chiropractic and acupuncture clinic website claims relating to allergy and asthma
8 Pound et al.  What do young people think about their school-based sex and relationship education? A qualitative synthesis of young people’s views and experiences
9 Boulton et al. How much sugar is hidden in drinks marketed to children? A survey of fruit juices, juice drinks and smoothies
10 Williams et al. Childhood academic ability in relation to cigarette, alcohol and cannabis use from adolescence into early adulthood: Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE)

*Most read figures are based on pdf downloads and full text views. Abstract views are excluded.

Identifying individuals at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease

7 Mar, 17 | by Yaiza del Pozo Martin

As we age, we can appreciate how our body changes in our hair, skin, and joints, letting us know that we are getting older. Alongside these obvious changes, our brain starts its own aging process too, although the symptoms might not be as noticeable. This perception mismatch is one of the key challenges in the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.

In recent decades, thanks to the development of advanced imaging techniques, the changes occurring in our brain as we age have been observed permitting early diagnosis of neurodegenerative processes such as Alzheimer’s disease.  However, making a confident diagnosis relying on few symptoms and brain images remains challenging because some of the Alzheimer’s indicators are also an inevitable part of normal ageing.

Now, a new study published this month in BMJ Open, brings the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease a step forward.  Combining the current diagnostic imaging tests used by doctors with powerful statistical analyses, researchers propose a model that could not only help accurate early diagnosis, but also the identification of healthy people at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Normal ageing or Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that affects between 10 and 30% of the population over 65 years of age according to the best estimates to date. The main brain areas damaged during disease progression are the cerebral cortex, responsible for our motor coordination and perception of sensory information, and the hippocampus, responsible for much of our memory. Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) images of the brain, which reveal the anatomic structure of the brain, doctors can in most cases diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in contrast to healthy ageing. However, prevention – the identification of healthy individuals at risk of Alzheimer’s disease before brain damage occurs – is yet to be achieved. This is what this timely study by Cespedes and colleagues set out to answer: How can individuals at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease be identified?

 

The researchers obtained the brain images from patients from the Australian Imaging Biomarker and Lifestyle Study of Ageing (AIBL), an ongoing study which aims to discover factors potentially influencing the development of Alzheimer’s disease. A group of healthy adults, subjects having mild cognitive impairments, and Alzheimer’s disease patients had a MRI scan done every 18 months from the age of 65. The authors analysed the images obtained using an authoritative statistical technique and observed marked differences between the three groups. Comparing the volume of the hippocampus, one of the main areas affected by neuron loss during Alzheimer’s disease, allowed the identification of high-risk individuals who progressed from being healthy to having cognitive impairment over time (graphical representation below). Additionally, the researchers could detect specific time points when major degenerative events were likely to occur.

Image: graphical results representing the average volume of hippocampus in the brain against the age of the participants in healthy ageing adults (BLUE), subjects with minor cognitive impairments (GREEN) and diagnosed Alzheimer’s disease patients (RED). Note the marked differences in the hippocampus volume between the 3 groups in patients over 80 years of age. 

Clinical implications

To date, treatments that fight brain damage are used to ameliorate Alzheimer’s disease progression, but the future and ultimate goal of the research community is prevention; if individuals at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease could be confidently identified, active treatments beginning at around 50 years of age could prevent disease onset in the future. That is why using analyses such as the one described in this study could become crucial in preventing disease onset in still healthy individuals before clinically evident symptoms emerge, eradicating Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about the study, share it, or comment on it, please click here.

Collaboration in qualitative research: The Qualitative Health Research Symposium 2017

13 Feb, 17 | by Hemali Bedi

Hemali Bedi

I was very pleased to attend the 3rd Qualitative Health Research Symposium that was held in London, UK, on Tuesday 7th February 2017. Hosted by the UCL Qualitative Health Research Network, the focus of the symposium was enhancing engagement, co-production and collaborative meaning-making in qualitative health research. Abstracts from the symposium will be published by BMJ Open in early March.

After opening remarks from the UCL President & Provost Professor, Michael Arthur, this year’s symposium began with a number of insightful presentations that explored interdisciplinary collaboration within qualitative research. Case studies were presented by researchers from all over the world, including Argentina, Denmark and Tanzania.

Following this, a number of breakout sessions focused on new developments in qualitative research, such as the use of novel visual methods to support participant engagement, multi-sectoral collaborations in research on human-environmental health and the changing nature of healthcare organisations and how we study them.

The potential benefits of using novel visual methods to support participant engagement in qualitative research

One of the many highlights of the day was the keynote address from Professor Jonathon Tritter. He spoke about the various tensions, challenges and opportunities of patient and public involvement in qualitative research. Professor Tritter highlighted the significant differences between patient and public involvement and concluded that collaboration should be based on the recognition of these differences.

Professor Jonathan Tritter’s concluding thoughts: Who should be involved in research and what gets in the way?

Next, the poster presentations were delivered. There were a great number of interesting and thought provoking posters on display throughout the symposium. The key research themes were: culture, creativity and innovation in research, health services and systems, making research accessible to marginalised and vulnerable groups and theorising and reflecting on collaboration. Roman Kislov and Fiona Fox were voted the winners for their research titled “Enabling collaborative health research: a qualitative longitudinal study of a large-scale co-production programme” and “Insiders and Outsiders: the experience of co-researchers exploring autism in a Somali community” respectively.

The afternoon session further reaffirmed the need for interdisciplinary research teams to consist of both qualitative and quantitative researchers, as well as other health care professionals, stakeholders and policy makers. The audience was captivated by the panel discussion which followed.

Roberto Abadie spoke about the role of the broker in mixed-methods collaboration

We would like to thank all of the speakers and participants for sharing their insights and we look forward to attending the next symposium.

BMJ Open trials Penelope

6 Feb, 17 | by Yaiza del Pozo Martin

We are pleased to announce that, beginning today, BMJ Open will be providing authors with the option to trial Penelope.

Penelope is an automated online tool that checks scientific manuscripts for completeness and gives immediate feedback to authors. It has been customised to BMJ Open guidelines to help authors prepare for submission. Penelope was developed by Penelope Research in collaboration with the EQUATOR Network.

Authors have the ability to access Penelope via a link that we have included on the login page of the BMJ Open submission system. Authors provide the tool with a Word file and within minutes will receive feedback regarding aspects of a manuscript that require improvement, linking to additional resources when necessary. It is our hope that Penelope makes the submission process easier while also improving the reporting quality of submitted manuscripts.

Regarding the collaboration, James Harwood, Founder and CEO of Penelope Research, says, “Our goal at Penelope is to make publishing easier and faster, whilst also improving research integrity. BMJ staff are big contributors to the research integrity community, and I am delighted they have decided to invite their authors to use our tool”.We hope you find Penelope useful and welcome any feedback regarding your experience.