Top 10 Most Read in December 2021: Housework and cognitive function, COVID-19 experts in the media, and the association of chronic and periodontal diseases.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy New Year. Although 2022 is well underway, there is still time to take a moment to reflect on 2021. The pandemic continues to be an ever evolving situation, so as we look back at our most read papers of December 2021, articles about COVID-19 are still taking centre stage. However, some papers that are not related to COVID-19 have earned their places in December’s top 10 most read. 

In third place this month is a re-entry for Houben et al. Their Cohort Profile describing the PHARMO Perinatal Research Network (PPRN) in the Netherlands has reportedly captured approximately 542 900 pregnancies of 387 100 mothers from 1997 to 2017. Alongside this, mother–child data linkage is currently available for one quarter of these pregnancies. The data captured in the PPRN includes outcomes after birth for both mother and child for up to 20 years.

An international cohort study from the COVIDSurg Collaborative takes fourth place this month. The cohort study reported the 30-day mortality associated with the perioperative infection of patients undergoing surgery for proximal femoral fractures. Multivariate analysis was also used to examine the factors that may influence mortality in these patients. A high rate of mortality was found in patients undergoing surgery for proximal femoral fracture with a perioperative infection of COVID-19. 

In fifth place is Freeman et al.’s pragmatic expert elicitation to collate current knowledge relating to the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and generate expert-informed estimated ranges for a number of key parameters that could then be used to quantify (approximately) the relative importance of different routes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a range of contexts. Despite disagreements among the 27 participants, the majority of the views expressed by the experts were pooled into a consistent set of estimates. The authors conclude that these estimates will form the basis of a visualisation that may help individuals and organisations understand the potential benefits of different mitigation measures and factors that influence transmission of SARS-CoV-2.   

A rapid systematic review and meta analysis by Hunter et al. made it to sixth place this month. The study aimed to evaluate the benefits and risks of zinc formulations, compared with controls, for the treatment or prevention of acute viral respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in adults. While the study did find some evidence that suggested that zinc might be able to prevent symptoms and shorten the duration of RTIs in adults who are unlikely to be zinc deficient, the quality of the evidence was limited by a high risk of bias, small sample sizes and/or heterogeneity. 

In seventh place is a bibliometric analysis by Ioannidis et al. The analysis aimed to establish whether COVID-19 experts appearing frequently in media have a high citation impact for their research overall, as well as their COVID-19 research. The study also aimed to examine the representation of women among these experts. By assessing 76 COVID-19 experts who were highly visible in US prime-time cable news, as well as 50, 12 and 2 highly visible experts in media in Denmark, Greece and Switzerland, respectively, the authors found that there was a disconnect between scholarship and the claimed COVID-19 expertise. They also found that highly cited women were rarely included among these experts.

The Yishun Study, a cross sectional study by Lee et al., takes the eighth spot this month. The physical, cognitive and sensorimotor functions of younger (<65 years) and older (≥65 years) community-dwelling adults in Singapore were assessed to examine the associations between housework and functional health. The study found that housework was associated with higher cognitive function among older community-dwelling adults. Although the authors have called for further longitudinal and intervention studies to establish causality. 

Lastly, in ninth place, is Zemedikun et al.’s retrospective cohort study. The study aimed to identify the association between periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, and chronic diseases. Using IQVIA Medical Research Data-UK between the years of 1995 and 2019, Zemedikun et al. concluded that periodontal diseases did appear to be associated with an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, cardiometabolic, autoimmune diseases, as well as increase the risk of mental ill health. 

Here is the full list of most read papers in BMJ Open during December 2021:

Rank Author(s) Title
1 Li et al. Impact of COVID-19 on female fertility: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol
2 Gadermann et al. Examining the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on family mental health in Canada: findings from a national cross-sectional study
3 Houben et al. Cohort profile: the PHARMO Perinatal Research Network (PPRN) in the Netherlands: a population-based mother-child linked cohort
4 COVIDSurg Collaborative Outcomes after perioperative SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with proximal femoral fractures: an international cohort study
5 Freeman et al. Expert elicitation on the relative importance of possible SARS-CoV-2 transmission routes and the effectiveness of mitigations
6 Hunter et al. Zinc for the prevention or treatment of acute viral respiratory tract infections in adults: a rapid systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials
7 Ioannidis et al. Overall and COVID-19-specific citation impact of highly visible COVID-19 media experts: bibliometric analysis
8 Lee et al. Cross-sectional associations of housework with cognitive, physical and sensorimotor functions in younger and older community-dwelling adults: the Yishun Study
9 Zemedikun et al.  Burden of chronic diseases associated with periodontal diseases: a retrospective cohort study using UK primary care data
10 Espiritu et al.  The Philippine COVID-19 Outcomes: a Retrospective study Of Neurological manifestations and Associated symptoms (The Philippine CORONA study): a protocol study


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