Welcome to our new blog!

Welcome to the new UK Cochrane Centre blogging site! We will be disseminating the latest Cochrane Reviews as well as highlighting other relevant information you might find interesting.

You can also find us on Twitter – @UKCochraneCentr

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Texting for health: updated Cochrane review finds long-term effectiveness of mobile phone interventions to help people stop smoking

Key message: This review update has been able to show that interventions delivered via mobile phones can help people give up smoking and that these benefits are sustained at least six months later.

There is an increasing amount of interest in the medical press and beyond in ‘telehealth’, the use of technologies such as mobile phones and the internet to help in the prevention or management of a range of health conditions, and rightly, for it offers a potentially cost-saving means to reach large numbers of people. Continue reading

Vitamin E should not be used to treat Alzheimer’s dementia or mild cognitive impairment: updated Cochrane evidence

vitamin E pillsThere is evidence that free radicals may contribute to the processes of cognitive impairment and so there has been considerable interest in recent years in whether vitamin E with its potential to protect against the damaging effects of free radicals might be useful in the treatment of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s dementia (AD). The Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group has updated its review exploring this approach, which now includes two randomized trials involving people with AD and one with people with MCI, comparing vitamin E with placebo. Continue reading

Talking treatments for problem drinking and gambling: two new Cochrane reviews

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies’ first annual report on the state of the nation’s health, published today, has highlighted the rising rates of liver disease, with deaths from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in the under 65s having increased by around 20% between 2000 and 2009, yet falling by around the same amount in other European countries. The three major causes of liver disease – harmful drinking, obesity and undiagnosed infection – are preventable. With around 70% of us having two or more habits or medical risk factors that are linked with serious diseases, the report recommends that health professionals should focus on tackling these together. This was also recommended in a recent report from The King’s Fund, which looked at clustering of unhealthy behaviours and called for a shift in focus in public health initiatives, to tackling multiple unhealthy behaviours rather than single ones. Continue reading

The benefits of exercise during and after cancer treatment: new Cochrane evidence

Key message:Aerobic exercise may help reduce cancer-related fatigue during and after treatment for solid tumours.

“Exercise is good for you” is a familiar mantra and now there is evidence that aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, may help relieve the tiredness experienced by people having treatment for cancer, particularly solid tumours. A Cochrane review published in 2008 has now been updated, with 28 additional randomized controlled trials (RCTs) bringing the total to 56 RCTs with over 4000 people. Half the trials involved people with breast cancer. Exercise interventions varied between studies. Continue reading

Can signs and symptoms guide diagnosis and treatment of community-acquired pneumonia in children? A new Cochrane diagnostic accuracy review

Key message: M. pneumoniae cannot be diagnosed reliably in children and adolescents with community-acquired pneumonia based on individual clinical symptoms and signs. Although absence of wheeze is a statistically significant diagnostic indicator, it does not have sufficient diagnostic value to guide empirical macrolide treatment. Chest pain may be a clinically useful indicator but needs further evaluation.

Continue reading

Preventing shingles in older adults: how effective and safe is vaccination? A new Cochrane review

  Key Message:Herpes zoster vaccine is effective in preventing shingles, with people aged 60 to 69 years benefitting more than older people but also experiencing more side effects. In general, the vaccine is well tolerated and most side effects are mild to moderate reactions at the injection site.  

Herpes zoster or ‘shingles’ is a painful condition, arising from the reactivation of varicella zoster virus, the virus that causes chicken pox. Older adults are particularly susceptible to shingles, which can last for weeks or months and have a significant impact on quality of life. A new review from the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group evaluated the effectiveness and safety of vaccination to prevent herpes zoster in adults aged sixty and over. The review includes eight randomized controlled trials with more than 52,000 participants but the main outcomes on effectiveness and safety come from the Shingles Prevention Study, a large trial with 38,546 participants, who were followed up for over three years. Continue reading