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Clinical news summary: Top nurse research and practice stories from May 2018

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Miss any of the clinical and practice news affecting the profession during May 2018? Catch up with our summary of the main study headlines and clinical breakthroughs.


Disruptions to body clock linked to mood disorders in shift workers



Disrupting the body’s internal clock – such as by doing regular night shifts – has been linked to increased risk of depression and reduced all-round wellbeing in a major UK study.

“We found a robust association between disruption of circadian rhythms and mood disorders”

Laura Lyall

The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, is said to be the largest to date to explore the impact of disturbing “circadian rhythms” – the normal pattern of activity and rest that people experience every 24 hours. Glasgow University researchers found that interrupting these patterns was linked to a range of adverse outcomes, including increased risk of depression and bipolar disorder.

People who experienced disruption to their circadian rhythms were more likely to be dissatisfied with their all-round health, were generally less happy and more likely to say they felt lonely. They also had slower reaction times.

The researchers used data on more than 91,000 people from the UK Biobank to measure their daily patterns of activity and rest or “relative amplitude”. All participants wore accelerometers for seven days to record their activity and completed questionnaires to assess mental health, wellbeing and cognitive function.

Even after adjusting for various factors including lifestyle and childhood trauma, the researchers found those with more disruption were at greater risk of poorer mental health.

Lead author Laura Lyall said the study was particularly significant given its scale. “In the largest such study ever conducted, we found a robust association between disruption of circadian rhythms and mood disorders,” she said.

“It would be useful for future studies to track participants’ rest-activity patterns over time to see whether disturbed rhythms can predict whether someone is more likely to develop a mood disorder,” she added.


Adults with severe eczema ‘should be screened for cardiovascular risk’

Eczema finger

Source: Irata

Severe eczema in adults is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems including heart attack and stroke, according to a major new study led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The team behind the work said their findings could support the case for targeted screening for heart problems among people with atopic eczema.


Improving cardiovascular health could ‘prevent frailty in old age’

older fitness exercise elderly

Older people with very low cardiovascular disease risks also have very little frailty, according to UK researchers, who say it raises the possibility that frailty could be prevented. The largest study of its kind, Exeter University researchers found that even small reductions in risk factors helped reduce frailty, as well as dementia, chronic pain, and other disabling conditions of old age.


High risk heart patients should be warned when cold weather on way



Smartphone messages should be sent to high risk cardiovascular patients when adverse weather conditions are predicted, say researchers, who found heart attacks were more common during cold snaps. The research was presented last month at the Asian Pacific Society of Cardiology Congress 2018 in Taiwan. The texting idea was backed by European experts and the British Heart Foundation.


Weight gain from antidepressants ‘should be prescribing factor’

weighing scales

weighing scales

People who take antidepressants long-term are more likely to put on weight, according to UK researchers who say their findings should be factored into prescribing decisions and consultations. The 10-year study, led by King’s College London, found patients prescribed any of the 12 most common antidepressants were more likely to gain weight over time than those not taking them.


Pioneering guidance launched on use of dogs in healthcare settings

Dogs in healthcare

Pet therapy dog

The Royal College of Nursing has launched the first ever nationwide protocol for working with animals in healthcare, in a bid to encourage more hospitals to explore the benefits of animal therapy. The protocol is designed to provide best practice guidance on introducing dogs to health and care settings and includes advice on licking, paws on beds and allergy management.


Patients with atrial fibrillation cannot ever be considered ‘cured’


Source: beerkoff - Fotolia

Patients with atrial fibrillation, which can leave them at a higher risk of stroke, still need treatment even after their heart rhythm seems to have returned to normal, warn University of Birmingham researchers. They found that patients whose heart rhythm returned to normal continued to be at high risk of stroke and should, as a result, continue to be treated.


Studies reveal ‘paradox’ of obese patients having better outcomes



Overweight and obese people are twice as likely to survive if admitted to hospital for any kind of infectious disease, according to a major new Danish study on the so-called “obesity paradox”. The study, involving 35,000 patients, is one of the latest to examine the controversial link between body mass index and mortality.


Grip strength ‘easy way’ of screening for long-term disease risk


Measuring the strength of someone’s grip could be a cheap, easy and effective way of identifying people at high risk of a wide range of diseases including heart problems and cancer, suggests a study led by the University of Glasgow. It found a weaker grip was linked to a higher rate of – and risk of death from – cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer.


Cochrane review backs safety of HPV vaccine in wake of claims

Papilloma Virus


Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Experts who reviewed the human papillomavirus vaccine have hit out at “unjustified claims” that it can harm women for fear it could prevent them having the jab. The Cochrane review, which examined 26 studies, concluded that the vaccine was effective in preventing pre-cancerous cervical cells in young women and “did not find an increased risk of serious adverse effects”.


Bespoke app helping mental health nurses to record clinical data

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

New app helps mental health nurses to record clinical data

Digital Ward

Mental health nurses at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust have helped design a new app to record clinical data. The Digital Ward app enables staff to enter real-time therapeutic observations on a hand-held mobile device, replacing handwritten notes that needed to be manually added to a patient’s electronic record.


Nurse to carry out research on domestic abuse affecting older people

Elderly care

Elderly care

A nurse in Cornwall has won a grant to carry out research on domestic abuse affecting older people. Zoe Cooper, a lead safeguarding nurse at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, will spend a year researching the subject with the aim of improving the support available to older victims of domestic abuse.


Activity boxes ‘fantastic conversation opener’ for older patients

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Activity box

Contents of the activity boxes for dementia patients

Nurses at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust are promoting the benefits of the activity boxes they recently introduced to help jog the memories of patients with dementia. The boxes, which are also available to people with learning disabilities, have so far been placed on 38 inpatient wards, in patient transport areas and discharge lounges and outpatient departments.

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