International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

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ISSN / EISSN : 1661-7827 / 1660-4601
Current Publisher: MDPI AG (10.3390)
Total articles ≅ 24,850
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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18030847

The COVID-19 outbreak emerged as an ongoing crisis at the beginning of the year 2020. Its horrific manifestation at the community level significantly affects various dimensions of the quality of life (QoL) of all individuals. The study aimed to examine some of the predictors of the QoL during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia. A cross-sectional online survey questionnaire was used to gather data on the participants’ sociodemographic backgrounds, physical health status, psychological reactions, and QoL. We adapted 12 items from the World Health Organization Quality of Life Instruments (WHOQOL-BREF) to assess the QoL. The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale–21 (DASS-21) was used to assess depression, anxiety, and stress. The median and inter-quartile range were used to describe the QoL scores. A multinomial regression analysis was computed between QoL score quartiles and associated factors, and the statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. The results of the multinomial regression analysis demonstrated that males (OR = 1.96; 95% CI = 1.31–2.94); participants aged 26 to 35 years (OR = 5.1; 95% CI = 1.33–19.37); non-Saudi participants (OR = 1.69; 95% CI = 1.06–2.57); individuals with chronic diseases (OR = 2.15; 95% CI = 1.33–3.48); those who lost their job (OR = 2.18; 95% CI = 1.04–4.57); and those with depression (OR = 5.70; 95% CI = 3.59–9.05), anxiety (OR = 5.47; 95% CI = 3.38–8.84), and stress (OR = 6.55; 95% CI = 4.01–10.70) were more likely to be in the first quartile of the QoL scores. While the full model predicting the total QoL score was statistically significant (R2 = 0.962, F (750, 753) = 16,705.4, p < 0.001), the three QoL dimensions explained 0.643, 0.283, and 0.036 of the variability in environmental, social, and religious/spiritual dimensions, respectively. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly influenced various aspects of individuals’ QoL, as well as their physical and psychological health. Community-based interventions are needed to mitigate the pandemic’s negative effects and enhance the health and QoL of the general population.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18030848

As the Italian health system is regionally based, COVID-19 emergency actions are based on a general lockdown imposed by national authority and then management at local level by 21 regional authorities. Therefore, the pandemic response plan developed by each region led to different approaches. The aim of this paper is to analyze whether differences in patient management may have influenced the local course of the epidemic. The analysis on the 21 Italian regions considers the strategies adopted in terms of hospitalization, treatment in the ICU and at home. Moreover, an in-depth analysis was carried out on: Lombardia, which adopted a hospitalization approach; Veneto, which tended to confine patients at home; and Emilia Romagna, which adopted a mixed hospitalization-home based approach. The majority of regions implemented a home-based approach, while the hospital approach was followed in three regions (Lombardia, Piemonte, and Lazio), mainly limited to the first period of the outbreak. All regions in the later phases tended to reduce hospitalization, preferring to confine patients at home. This comparison, highlighting the different phases of the pandemic, outlined that the adoption of home-based practices contributed to limiting infection rates among patients and health professionals as well as decreasing the number of deaths.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020818

Social frailty affects various aspects of health in community-dwelling older adults. This study aimed to identify the prevalence of social frailty and the significance of its association with South Korean older adults’ health status and life satisfaction. This study involved a secondary data analysis of the 2017 National Survey of Older Koreans. From the 10,299 respondents of the survey, 10,081 were selected with no exclusion criteria. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify the factors related to life satisfaction. Compared with the robust and social prefrailty groups, the social frailty group had higher nutritional risk (χ² = 312.161, p = 0.000), depressive symptoms (χ² = 977.587, p = 0.000), cognitive dysfunction (χ² = 25.051, p = 0.000), and lower life satisfaction (F = 1050.272, p = 0.000). The results of multiple linear regression, adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, indicated that social frailty had the strongest negative association with life satisfaction (β = −0.267, p = 0.000). However, cognitive function was significantly positively associated with life satisfaction (β = 0.062, p = 0.000). Social frailty was significantly correlated with physical, psychological, and mental health as well as life satisfaction in community-dwelling older South Koreans. Therefore, accounting for the social aspect of functioning is an essential part of a multidimensional approach to improving health and life satisfaction in communities.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020827

Background: Evidence is growing that a high-acid diet might accelerate the rate of bone loss, and gene polymorphisms such as Interleukin 6 (IL6) -174G/C and -572G/C are related to bone deterioration. However, no study of the interaction between diet and IL6 polymorphisms has been conducted among Asians. Thus, the objective of this study was to determine whether IL6 gene polymorphisms modified the association between dietary acidity and the rate of bone resorption. Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited 203 postmenopausal women (age ranged from 51 to 85 years old) in community settings. The dietary intakes of the participants were assessed using a validated interviewer-administered semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), while dietary acid load (DAL) was estimated using net endogenous acid production (NEAP). Agena® MassARRAY genotyping analysis and serum collagen type 1 cross-linked C-telopeptide (CTX1) were used to identify the IL6 genotype and as a bone resorption marker, respectively. The interactions between diet and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were assessed using linear regressions. Results: A total of 203 healthy postmenopausal women aged between 51 and 85 years participated in this study. The mean BMI of the participants was 24.3 kg/m2. In IL6 -174 G/C, all the participants carried the GG genotype, while the C allele was absent. Approximately 40% of the participants had a high dietary acid load. Dietary acid load (B = 0.15, p = 0.031) and the IL6 -572 CC genotype group (B = 0.14, p = 0.044) were positively associated with a higher bone resorption. However, there was no moderating effect of the IL6 genetic polymorphism on the relationship between and acid ash diet and bone resorption markers among the postmenopausal women (p = 0.79). Conclusion: High consumption of an acid ash diet and the IL6 -572 C allele seem to attribute to high bone resorption among postmenopausal women. However, our finding does not support the interaction effect of dietary acidity and IL6 (-174G/C and -572G/C) polymorphisms on the rate of bone resorption. Taken together, these results have given scientific research other candidate genes to focus on which may interact with DAL on bone resorption, to enhance planning for preventing or delaying the onset of osteoporosis among postmenopausal women.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020842

Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is an international public health threat. This study aimed to evaluate COVID-19-related knowledge, preventive behaviors, and risk perception among Saudi Arabian medical students and interns. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among fourth- and fifth-year medical students and interns between June and August 2020 at three colleges of medicine in Qassim Region, Saudi Arabia. A previously validated questionnaire was distributed as an online survey. Results: The total mean knowledge score was 12.5/15 points; 83.9% achieved a high score. The mean score of self-reported preventive behavior was 8.40; 94.1% achieved a high score. The overall mean risk perception score was 5.34/8 points; 31.6% achieved a high score. Conclusion: Medical students assessed in this study displayed sufficient knowledge and preventive behaviors regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and an average level of risk perception. Lower scores by younger medical students suggest that they must improve their COVID-19 knowledge and risk perception, as they are a potential source of health information in their communities.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020824

Hemodynamic optimization during sepsis and septic shock is based on a prompt and large fluid resuscitation strategy associated with early administration of norepinephrine. In our hospital, norepinephrine is administered in the emergency department (ED), within a protocol-guided management context, to reduce norepinephrine infusion timing due to central line insertion. This choice, however, can be associated with side effects. Objectives: We conducted a retrospective analysis regarding the safety of norepinephrine in the ED. We also appraised the association between in-hospital mortality and predefined ED variables and patients’ admission severity scores. Design, settings, and participants: This was a retrospective analysis of electronic sheets of the ED of a tertiary hospital in the North of Italy. Outcomes measure and analysis: Electronic documentation was assessed to identify local and systemic side effects. We considered two subgroups of patients according to the in-hospital clinical paths: (1) those admitted in the intensive care unit (ICU); and (2) those who received a ceiling of care decision. We collected and considered variables related to septic shock treatment in the ED and analyzed their association with in-hospital mortality. Main Results: We considered a two-year period, including 108,033 ED accesses, and ultimately analyzed data from 127 patients. Side effects related to the use of this drug were reported in five (3.9%) patients. Thirty patients (23.6%) were transferred to the ICU from the ED, of whom six (20.0%) died. Twenty-eight patients (22.0%) received a ceiling of care indication, of whom 21 (75.0%) died. Of the 69 (54.3%) finally discharged to either medical or surgical wards, 21 (30.4%) died. ICU admission was the only variable significantly associated to in-hospital mortality in the multivariable analysis [OR (95% CI) = 4.48 (1.52–13.22); p-value = 0.007]. Conclusions: Norepinephrine peripheral infusion in the ED was associated with a low incidence of adverse events requiring discontinuation (3.9%). It could be considered safe within
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020807

The production of dimethyl ether from renewables or waste is a promising strategy to push towards a sustainable energy transition of alternative eco-friendly diesel fuel. In this work, we simulate the synthesis of dimethyl ether from a syngas (a mixture of CO, CO2 and H2) produced from gasification of digestate. In particular, a thermodynamic analysis was performed to individuate the best process conditions and syngas conditioning processes to maximize yield to dimethyl etehr (DME). Process simulation was carried out by ChemCAD software, and it was particularly focused on the effect of process conditions of both water gas shift and CO2 absorption by Selexol® on the syngas composition, with a direct influence on DME productivity. The final best flowsheet and the best process conditions were evaluated in terms of CO2 equivalent emissions. Results show direct DME synthesis global yield was higher without the WGS section and with a carbon capture equal to 85%. The final environmental impact was found equal to −113 kgCO2/GJ, demonstrating that DME synthesis from digestate may be considered as a suitable strategy for carbon dioxide recycling.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020831

This study evaluated the influence of activity preference and involvement on season completion in a community-based football program for children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders. Caregivers (n = 1428) of 1529 children aged 4 to 17 (M = 7.27, SD = 1.85), with (n = 175) and without (n = 1354) neurodevelopmental disorders who were currently participating or had previously participated in a group-based NAB AFL Auskick football program completed an online survey. The survey collected information on their child’s completion of any attempted seasons of the football program, level of involvement during the sessions and preference for football over other sports and activities. Eighty percent of children with a neurodevelopmental diagnosis had completed all seasons of Auskick, compared with 93% of children without a neurodevelopmental diagnosis. Results indicated that children with neurodevelopmental disorders (n = 135) were 3.71 times less likely to complete a football season than their typically developing peers (n = 903). Higher levels of involvement during football sessions and greater preference for football were linked to a higher football season completion rate, irrespective of neurodevelopmental disability diagnosis. This study highlights the influence of child-related factors, in particular, preference and involvement, on children’s sustained participation in community football programs, regardless of neurodevelopmental disability status.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020808

Due to the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spain underwent a strict lockdown (March–May 2020). How the lockdown modified older adults’ physical activity (PA) has been poorly described. This research assesses the effect of the lockdown on PA levels and identifies predictors of sufficient/insufficient PA in frail older community-dwellers. Community-dwelling participants from the +ÀGIL Barcelona frailty intervention program, suspended during the pandemic, underwent a phone-assessment during the lockdown. PA was measured before and after the lockdown using the Brief Physical Activity Assessment Tool (BPAAT). We included 98 frail older adults free of COVID-19 (mean age = 82.7 years, 66.3% women, mean Short Physical Performance Battery = 8.1 points). About one third of participants (32.2%) were not meeting sufficient PA levels at the end of the lockdown. Depressive symptoms (OR = 0.12, CI95% = 0.02–0.55) and fatigue (OR = 0.11, CI95% = 0.03–0.44) decreased the odds of maintaining sufficient PA, whereas maintaining social networks (OR = 5.07, CI95% = 1.60–16.08) and reading (OR = 6.29, CI95% = 1.66–23.90) increased it. Living alone was associated with the reduction of PA levels (b = −1.30, CI95% = −2.14–−0.46). In our sample, pre-lockdown mental health, frailty-related symptoms and social relationships were consistently associated with both PA levels during-lockdown and pre-post change. These data suggest considering specific plans to maintain PA levels in frail older community-dwellers.
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Volume 18; doi:10.3390/ijerph18020829

An increasingly frail population in nursing homes accentuates the need for high quality care at the end of life and better access to palliative care in this context. Implementation of palliative care and its outcomes can be monitored by using quality indicators. Therefore, we developed a quality indicator set for palliative care in nursing homes and a tailored measurement procedure while using a mixed-methods design. We developed the instrument in three phases: (1) literature search, (2) interviews with experts, and (3) indicator and measurement selection by expert consensus (RAND/UCLA). Second, we pilot tested and evaluated the instrument in nine nursing homes in Flanders, Belgium. After identifying 26 indicators in the literature and expert interviews, 19 of them were selected through expert consensus. Setting-specific themes were advance care planning, autonomy, and communication with family. The quantitative and qualitative analyses showed that the indicators were measurable, had good preliminary face validity and discriminative power, and were considered to be useful in terms of quality monitoring according to the caregivers. The quality indicators can be used in a large implementation study and process evaluation in order to achieve continuous monitoring of the access to palliative care for all of the residents in nursing homes.
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