A wake-up call on children’s well-being: do more, do it now

It’s official – the Chief Medical Officer is ‘profoundly ashamed’. In her report on child health, Professor Dame Sally Davies highlights appalling inequalities in the UK, with three times as many child deaths in the poorest areas compared with wealthier regions, and shows us to be a nation lagging behind our European neighbours too. Much more needs to be done to improve the health of Britain’s children and it needs to be done sooner, she says. Early, preventive action rather than reaction will benefit both the health and the wealth of the nation. I thought I’d take a look at where Cochrane evidence might fit into her vision of what needs to be done. Continue reading

Exercise and asthma: what does the evidence say?

Some people with asthma find their symptoms are worse when they exercise, or restrict their physical activity for fear that this will be so. Others report that their asthma symptoms are better when they are fit. Several reviews from the Cochrane Airways Group have recently been published on aspects of exercise for people with asthma. Continue reading

Getting people to exercise: what do we know about what works?

It’s not news that exercise is good for us, but exercise and health have grabbed the headlines again this week with the publication of new research in the BMJ which, according to the BBC, finds ‘exercise can be as good as pills’. For a nice summary of this research and a reminder that actually the data was patchy and the researchers warn that the findings should be interpreted with caution, read this blog by the Lifestyle Elf. Patchy data notwithstanding, we can agree that exercise is a Good Thing, but how can we get people to do it? Most adults are not active at the recommended level. A team at the Cochrane Heart Group has been busy pulling together the research on whether face-to-face interventions and remote and web 2.0 interventions can help promote physical activity (PA) and how they compare with each other and the results have just been published in three new reviews. Continue reading

What’s the evidence on tackling fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis?

Key message: There is some evidence that physical activity and talking treatments can help people with rheumatoid arthritis manage fatigue. We don’t have enough evidence to say which elements of these types of interventions are most effective, nor whether other non-drug approaches are also helpful.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints. It’s the second most common type of arthritis in the UK population. Key symptoms are painful, swollen joints, but fatigue (extreme mental and/or physical tiredness) is also a problem for many people who have RA. There’s currently no cure for RA and no accepted evidence-based guidelines on how best to manage this condition. Non-pharmacological interventions, that’s alternatives to prescribed drugs such as exercise and psychotherapies or ‘talking treatments’, have been found to help people with a range of long-term conditions manage fatigue and now a┬ánew review from the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group has looked at whether this is so for adults with RA. Continue reading