PLOS Medicine

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ISSN / EISSN : 15491277 / 15491676
Current Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS) (10.1371)
Total articles ≅ 3,957
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Jesse L. Yedinak, William C. Goedel, Kimberly Paull, Rebecca Lebeau, Maxwell S. Krieger, Cheyenne Thompson, Ashley L. Buchanan, Tom Coderre, Rebecca Boss, Josiah D. Rich, et al.
Published: 19 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002963

Abstract:In light of the accelerating and rapidly evolving overdose crisis in the United States (US), new strategies are needed to address the epidemic and to efficiently engage and retain individuals in care for opioid use disorder (OUD). Moreover, there is an increasing need for novel approaches to using health data to identify gaps in the cascade of care for persons with OUD. Between June 2018 and May 2019, we engaged a diverse stakeholder group (including directors of statewide health and social service agencies) to develop a statewide, patient-centered cascade of care for OUD for Rhode Island, a small state in New England, a region highly impacted by the opioid crisis. Through an iterative process, we modified the cascade of care defined by Williams et al. for use in Rhode Island using key national survey data and statewide health claims datasets to create a cross-sectional summary of 5 stages in the cascade. Approximately 47,000 Rhode Islanders (5.2%) were estimated to be at risk for OUD (stage 0) in 2016. At the same time, 26,000 Rhode Islanders had a medical claim related to an OUD diagnosis, accounting for 55% of the population at risk (stage 1); 27% of the stage 0 population, 12,700 people, showed evidence of initiation of medication for OUD (MOUD, stage 2), and 18%, or 8,300 people, had evidence of retention on MOUD (stage 3). Imputation from a national survey estimated that 4,200 Rhode Islanders were in recovery from OUD as of 2016, representing 9% of the total population at risk. Limitations included use of self-report data to arrive at estimates of the number of individuals at risk for OUD and using a national estimate to identify the number of individuals in recovery due to a lack of available state data sources. Our findings indicate that cross-sectional summaries of the cascade of care for OUD can be used as a health policy tool to identify gaps in care, inform data-driven policy decisions, set benchmarks for quality, and improve health outcomes for persons with OUD. There exists a significant opportunity to increase engagement prior to the initiation of OUD treatment (i.e., identification of OUD symptoms via routine screening or acute presentation) and improve retention and remission from OUD symptoms through improved community-supported processes of recovery. To do this more precisely, states should work to systematically collect data to populate their own cascade of care as a health policy tool to enhance system-level interventions and maximize engagement in care.
Shu Chen, Lei Guo, Zhan Wang, Wenhui Mao, Yanfeng Ge, Xiaohua Ying, Jing Fang, Qian Long, Qin Liu, Hao Xiang, et al.
Published: 19 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002975

Abstract:The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by all United Nations (UN) member states in 2015, established a set of bold and ambitious health-related targets to achieve by 2030. Understanding China’s progress toward these targets is critical to improving population health for its 1.4 billion people. We used estimates from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2016, national surveys and surveillance data from China, and qualitative data. Twenty-eight of the 37 indicators included in the GBD Study 2016 were analyzed. We developed an attainment index of health-related SDGs, a scale of 0–100 based on the values of indicators. The projection model is adjusted based on the one developed by the GBD Study 2016 SDG collaborators. We found that China has achieved several health-related SDG targets, including decreasing neonatal and under-5 mortality rates and the maternal mortality ratios and reducing wasting and stunting for children. However, China may only achieve 12 out of the 28 health-related SDG targets by 2030. The number of target indicators achieved varies among provinces and municipalities. In 2016, among the seven measured health domains, China performed best in child nutrition and maternal and child health and reproductive health, with the attainment index scores of 93.0 and 91.8, respectively, followed by noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) (69.4), road injuries (63.6), infectious diseases (63.0), environmental health (62.9), and universal health coverage (UHC) (54.4). There are daunting challenges to achieve the targets for child overweight, infectious diseases, NCD risk factors, and environmental exposure factors. China will also have a formidable challenge in achieving UHC, particularly in ensuring access to essential healthcare for all and providing adequate financial protection. The attainment index of child nutrition is projected to drop to 80.5 by 2025 because of worsening child overweight. The index of NCD risk factors is projected to drop to 38.8 by 2025. Regional disparities are substantial, with eastern provinces generally performing better than central and western provinces. Sex disparities are clear, with men at higher risk of excess mortality than women. The primary limitations of this study are the limited data availability and quality for several indicators and the adoption of "business-as-usual" projection methods. The study found that China has made good progress in improving population health, but challenges lie ahead. China has substantially improved the health of children and women and will continue to make good progress, although geographic disparities remain a great challenge. Meanwhile, China faced challenges in NCDs, mental health, and some infectious diseases. Poor control of health risk factors and worsening environmental threats have posed difficulties in further health improvement. Meanwhile, an inefficient health system is a barrier to tackling these challenges among such a rapidly aging population....
Stephanie Lake, Zach Walsh, Thomas Kerr, Ziva D. Cooper, Jane Buxton, Evan Wood, Mark A. Ware, M. J. Milloy
Published: 19 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002967

Abstract:Ecological research suggests that increased access to cannabis may facilitate reductions in opioid use and harms, and medical cannabis patients describe the substitution of opioids with cannabis for pain management. However, there is a lack of research using individual-level data to explore this question. We aimed to investigate the longitudinal association between frequency of cannabis use and illicit opioid use among people who use drugs (PWUD) experiencing chronic pain. This study included data from people in 2 prospective cohorts of PWUD in Vancouver, Canada, who reported major or persistent pain from June 1, 2014, to December 1, 2017 (n = 1,152). We used descriptive statistics to examine reasons for cannabis use and a multivariable generalized linear mixed-effects model to estimate the relationship between daily (once or more per day) cannabis use and daily illicit opioid use. There were 424 (36.8%) women in the study, and the median age at baseline was 49.3 years (IQR 42.3–54.9). In total, 455 (40%) reported daily illicit opioid use, and 410 (36%) reported daily cannabis use during at least one 6-month follow-up period. The most commonly reported therapeutic reasons for cannabis use were pain (36%), sleep (35%), stress (31%), and nausea (30%). After adjusting for demographic characteristics, substance use, and health-related factors, daily cannabis use was associated with significantly lower odds of daily illicit opioid use (adjusted odds ratio 0.50, 95% CI 0.34–0.74, p < 0.001). Limitations of the study included self-reported measures of substance use and chronic pain, and a lack of data for cannabis preparations, dosages, and modes of administration. We observed an independent negative association between frequent cannabis use and frequent illicit opioid use among PWUD with chronic pain. These findings provide longitudinal observational evidence that cannabis may serve as an adjunct to or substitute for illicit opioid use among PWUD with chronic pain.
Brant M. Wagener, Parker J. Hu, Joo-Yeun Oh, Cilina A. Evans, Jillian R. Richter, Jaideep Honavar, Angela P. Brandon, Judy Creighton, Shannon W. Stephens, Charity Morgan, et al.
Published: 13 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002991

Judith S. Brand, Romy Gaillard, Jane West, Rosemary R. C. McEachan, John Wright, Ellis Voerman, Janine F. Felix, Kate Tilling, Deborah A. Lawlor
Published: 13 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002972

Abstract:Maternal smoking during pregnancy is an established risk factor for low infant birth weight, but evidence on critical exposure windows and timing of fetal growth restriction is limited. Here we investigate the associations of maternal quitting, reducing, and continuing smoking during pregnancy with longitudinal fetal growth by triangulating evidence from 3 analytical approaches to strengthen causal inference. We analysed data from 8,621 European liveborn singletons in 2 population-based pregnancy cohorts (the Generation R Study, the Netherlands 2002–2006 [n = 4,682]) and the Born in Bradford study, United Kingdom 2007–2010 [n = 3,939]) with fetal ultrasound and birth anthropometric measures, parental smoking during pregnancy, and maternal genetic data. Associations with trajectories of estimated fetal weight (EFW) and individual fetal parameters (head circumference, femur length [FL], and abdominal circumference [AC]) from 12–16 to 40 weeks’ gestation were analysed using multilevel fractional polynomial models. We compared results from (1) confounder-adjusted multivariable analyses, (2) a Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis using maternal rs1051730 genotype as an instrument for smoking quantity and ease of quitting, and (3) a negative control analysis comparing maternal and mother’s partner’s smoking associations. In multivariable analyses, women who continued smoking during pregnancy had a smaller fetal size than non-smokers from early gestation (16–20 weeks) through to birth (p-value for each parameter < 0.001). Fetal size reductions in continuing smokers followed a dose-dependent pattern (compared to non-smokers, difference in mean EFW [95% CI] at 40 weeks’ gestation was −144 g [−182 to −106], −215 g [−248 to −182], and −290 g [−334 to −247] for light, moderate, and heavy smoking, respectively). Overall, fetal size reductions were most pronounced for FL. The fetal growth trajectory in women who quit smoking in early pregnancy was similar to that of non-smokers, except for a shorter FL and greater AC around 36–40 weeks’ gestation. In MR analyses, each genetically determined 1-cigarette-per-day increase was associated with a smaller EFW from 20 weeks’ gestation to birth in smokers (p = 0.01, difference in mean EFW at 40 weeks = −45 g [95% CI −81 to −10]) and a greater EFW from 32 weeks’ gestation onwards in non-smokers (p = 0.03, difference in mean EFW at 40 weeks = 26 g [95% CI 5 to 47]). There was no evidence that partner smoking was associated with fetal growth. Study limitations include measurement error due to maternal self-report of smoking and the modest sample size for MR analyses resulting in unconfounded estimates being less precise. The apparent positive association of the genetic instrument with fetal growth in non-smokers suggests that genetic pleiotropy may have masked a stronger association in smokers. A consistent linear dose-dependent association of maternal smoking with...
Jennifer S. Walsh, Helen Marshall, Isabelle L. Smith, Diana M. Greenfield, Jayne Swain, Emma Best, James Ashton, Julia M. Brown, Robert Huddart, Robert E. Coleman, et al.
Published: 12 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002960

Abstract:Young male cancer survivors have lower testosterone levels, higher fat mass, and worse quality of life (QoL) than age-matched healthy controls. Low testosterone in cancer survivors can be due to orchidectomy or effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We have undertaken a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 6-month trial of testosterone replacement in young male cancer survivors with borderline low testosterone (7–12 nmol/l). This was a multicentre United Kingdom study conducted in secondary care hospital outpatients. Male survivors of testicular cancer, lymphoma, and leukaemia aged 25–50 years with morning total serum testosterone 7–12 nmol/l were recruited. A total of 136 men were randomised between July 2012 and February 2015 (42.6% aged 25–37 years, 57.4% 38–50 years, 88% testicular cancer, 10% lymphoma, matched for body mass index [BMI]). Participants were randomised 1:1 to receive testosterone (Tostran 2% gel) or placebo for 26 weeks. A dose titration was performed after 2 weeks. The coprimary end points were trunk fat mass and SF36 Physical Functioning score (SF36-PF) at 26 weeks by intention to treat. At 26 weeks, testosterone treatment compared with placebo was associated with decreased trunk fat mass (−0.9 kg, 95% CI −1.6 to −0.3, p = 0.0073), decreased whole-body fat mass (−1.8 kg, 95% CI −2.9 to −0.7, p = 0.0016), and increased lean body mass (1.5 kg, 95% CI 0.9–2.1, p < 0.001). Decrease in fat mass was greatest in those with a high truncal fat mass at baseline. There was no treatment effect on SF36-PF or any other QoL scores. Testosterone treatment was well tolerated. The limitations of our study were as follows: a relatively short duration of treatment, only three cancer groups included, and no hard end point data such as cardiovascular events. In young male cancer survivors with low-normal morning total serum testosterone, replacement with testosterone is associated with an improvement in body composition. ISRCTN: 70274195, EudraCT: 2011-000677-31.
Kathryn E. Fitzpatrick, Thomas Van Den Akker, Kitty W. M. Bloemenkamp, Catherine Deneux-Tharaux, Alexandra Kristufkova, Zhuoyang Li, Timme P. Schaap, Elizabeth A. Sullivan, Derek Tuffnell, Marian Knight
Published: 12 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002962

Abstract:Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) remains one of the principal reported causes of direct maternal mortality in high-income countries. However, obtaining robust information about the condition is challenging because of its rarity and its difficulty to diagnose. This study aimed to pool data from multiple countries in order to describe risk factors, management, and outcomes of AFE and to explore the impact on the findings of considering United Kingdom, international, and United States AFE case definitions. A population-based cohort and nested case-control study was conducted using the International Network of Obstetric Survey Systems (INOSS). Secondary data on women with AFE (n = 99–218, depending on case definition) collected prospectively in population-based studies conducted in Australia, France, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and the UK were pooled along with secondary data on a sample of control women (n = 4,938) collected in Australia and the UK. Risk factors for AFE were investigated by comparing the women with AFE in Australia and the UK with the control women identified in these countries using logistic regression. Factors associated with poor maternal outcomes (fatality and composite of fatality or permanent neurological injury) amongst women with AFE from each of the countries were investigated using logistic regression or Wilcoxon rank–sum test. The estimated incidence of AFE ranged from 0.8–1.8 per 100,000 maternities, and the proportion of women with AFE who died or had permanent neurological injury ranged from 30%–41%, depending on the case definition. However, applying different case definitions did not materially alter findings regarding risk factors for AFE and factors associated with poor maternal outcomes amongst women with AFE. Using the most liberal case definition (UK) and adjusting for the severity of presentation when appropriate, women who died were more likely than those who survived to present with cardiac arrest (89% versus 40%, adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 10.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] 3.93–28.48, p < 0.001) and less likely to have a source of concentrated fibrinogen (40% versus 56%, aOR 0.44, 95% CI 0.21–0.92, p = 0.029) or platelets given (24% versus 49%, aOR 0.23, 95% CI 0.10–0.52, p < 0.001). They also had a lower dose of tranexamic acid (median dose 0.7 g versus 2 g, p = 0.035) and were less likely to have had an obstetrician and/or anaesthetist present at the time of the AFE (61% versus 75%, aOR 0.38, 95% CI 0.16–0.90, p = 0.027). Limitations of the study include limited statistical power to examine factors associated with poor maternal outcome and the potential for residual confounding or confounding by indication. The findings of our study suggest that when an AFE is suspected, initial supportive obstetric care is important, but having an obstetrician and/or anaesthetist present at the time of the AFE event and use of interventions to correct coagulopathy, including the administration of an...
Yuan Ma, Frank J. Wolters, Lori B. Chibnik, Silvan Licher, M. Arfan Ikram, Albert Hofman, M. Kamran Ikram, M. Arfan Ikram, M. Kamran Ikram
Published: 12 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002933

Abstract:Variation in blood pressure may relate to dementia risk via autonomic disturbance or hemodynamic mechanisms, but the long-term associations are unclear. We aimed to determine whether blood pressure variation over a period of years, considering both magnitude and direction, is associated with the risk of dementia. In a prospective cohort study ongoing since 1989 in the Netherlands, 5,273 dementia-free participants (58.1% women; mean [SD] age, 67.6 [8.0] years) were included. As of 2016, 1,059 dementia cases occurred during a median follow-up of 14.6 years. Absolute variation in systolic blood pressure (SBP) was assessed as the absolute difference in SBP divided by the mean over two sequential visits every 4.2 (median) years, with the first quantile set as the reference level. The direction was the rise or fall in SBP, with the third quantile set as the reference level. We estimated the risk of dementia in relation to SBP variation measured at different time windows (i.e., at least 0, 5, 10, and 15 years) prior to dementia diagnosis, with adjustments for age, sex, education, apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype, vascular risk factors, and history of cardiovascular disease. We repeated the above analysis for variation in diastolic blood pressure (DBP). A large SBP variation was associated with an increased dementia risk, which became more pronounced with longer intervals between the assessment of SBP variation and the diagnosis of dementia. The hazard ratio (HR) associated with large variation (the highest quintile) increased from 1.08 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.88–1.34, P = 0.337) for risk within 5 years of SBP variation measurement to 3.13 (95% CI 2.05–4.77; P < 0.001) for risk after at least 15 years since the measurement of SBP variation. The increased long-term risk was associated with both large rises (HR for the highest quintile, 3.31 [95% CI 2.11–5.18], P < 0.001) and large falls in SBP (HR for the lowest quintile, 2.20 [95% CI 1.33–3.63], P = 0.002), whereas the higher short-term risk was only associated with large falls in SBP (HR, 1.21 [95% CI 1.00–1.48], P = 0.017). Similar findings were observed for variation in DBP. Despite our assessment of major confounders, potential residual confounding is possible, and the findings on blood pressure variability over periods of years may not be generalizable to variability over periods of days and other shorter periods. Results of this study showed that a large blood pressure variation over a period of years was associated with an increased long-term risk of dementia. The association between blood pressure variation and dementia appears most pronounced when this variation occurred long before the diagnosis. An elevated long-term risk of dementia was observed with both a large rise and fall in blood pressure.
Zehang Richard Li, Evaline Xie, Forrest W. Crawford, Joshua L. Warren, Kathryn McConnell, J. Tyler Copple, Tyler Johnson, Gregg S. Gonsalves
Published: 12 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002956

Abstract:Opioid misuse and deaths are increasing in the United States. In 2017, Ohio had the second highest overdose rates in the US, with the city of Cincinnati experiencing a 50% rise in opioid overdoses since 2015. Understanding the temporal and geographic variation in overdose emergencies may help guide public policy responses to the opioid epidemic. We used a publicly available data set of suspected heroin-related emergency calls (n = 6,246) to map overdose incidents to 280 census block groups in Cincinnati between August 1, 2015, and January 30, 2019. We used a Bayesian space-time Poisson regression model to examine the relationship between demographic and environmental characteristics and the number of calls within block groups. Higher numbers of heroin-related incidents were found to be associated with features of the built environment, including the proportion of parks (relative risk [RR] = 2.233; 95% credible interval [CI]: [1.075–4.643]), commercial (RR = 13.200; 95% CI: [4.584–38.169]), manufacturing (RR = 4.775; 95% CI: [1.958–11.683]), and downtown development zones (RR = 11.362; 95% CI: [3.796–34.015]). The number of suspected heroin-related emergency calls was also positively associated with the proportion of male population, the population aged 35–49 years, and distance to pharmacies and was negatively associated with the proportion aged 18–24 years, the proportion of the population with a bachelor's degree or higher, median household income, the number of fast food restaurants, distance to hospitals, and distance to opioid treatment programs. Significant spatial and temporal heterogeneity in the risks of incidents remained after adjusting for covariates. Limitations of this study include lack of information about the nature of incidents after dispatch, which may differ from the initial classification of being related to heroin, and lack of information on local policy changes and interventions. We identified areas with high numbers of reported heroin-related incidents and features of the built environment and demographic characteristics that are associated with these events in the city of Cincinnati. Publicly available information about opiate overdoses, combined with data on spatiotemporal risk factors, may help municipalities plan, implement, and target harm-reduction measures. In the US, more work is necessary to improve data availability in other cities and states and the compatibility of data from different sources in order to adequately measure and monitor the risk of overdose and inform health policies.
Sarka Lisonkova, Michael S. Kramer
Published: 12 November 2019
PLOS Medicine, Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002976

Abstract:In a Perspective, Sarka Lisonkova and Michael Kramer discuss the accompanying study by Kathryn Fitzpatrick and co-authors on management of amniotic fluid embolism.