ResearchPad - european-union https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Time-to-Death approach in revealing Chronicity and Severity of COVID-19 across the World]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13808 The outbreak of coronavirus disease, 2019 (COVID-19), which started from Wuhan, China, in late 2019, have spread worldwide. A total of 5,91,971 cases and 2,70,90 deaths were registered till 28th March, 2020. We aimed to predict the impact of duration of exposure to COVID-19 on the mortality rates increment.MethodsIn the present study, data on COVID-19 infected top seven countries viz., Germany, China, France, United Kingdom, Iran, Italy and Spain, and World as a whole, were used for modeling. The analytical procedure of generalized linear model followed by Gompertz link function was used to predict the impact lethal duration of exposure on the mortality rates.FindingsOf the selected countries and World as whole, the projection based on 21st March, 2020 cases, suggest that a total (95% Cl) of 76 (65–151) days of exposure in Germany, mortality rate will increase by 5 times to 1%. In countries like France and United Kingdom, our projection suggests that additional exposure of 48 days and 7 days, respectively, will raise the mortality rates to10%. Regarding Iran, Italy and Spain, mortality rate will rise to 10% with an additional 3–10 days of exposure. World’s mortality rates will continue increase by 1% in every three weeks. The predicted interval of lethal duration corresponding to each country has found to be consistent with the mortality rates observed on 28th March, 2020.ConclusionThe prediction of lethal duration was found to have apparently effective in predicting mortality, and shows concordance with prevailing rates. In absence of any vaccine against COVID-19 infection, the present study adds information about the quantum of the severity and time elapsed to death will help the Government to take necessary and appropriate steps to control this pandemic. ]]> <![CDATA[The emergence of social gaps in mental health: A longitudinal population study in Sweden, 1900-1959]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11234 During the recent decades, social inequalities in mental health have increased and are now one of the most persistent features of contemporary society. There is limited knowledge about when this pattern emerged or whether it has been a historically fixed feature. The objective of this study was to assess whether socioeconomic and gender gaps in mental health changed during the period 1900–1959 in Sweden. We used historical micro data which report all necessary information on individuals' demographic characteristics, occupational attainment and mental disorders (N = 2,450) in a Swedish population of 193,893. Changes over time was tested using multilevel Cox proportional hazard models. We tested how gender-specific risks of mental disorder changed and how gender-specific socioeconomic status was related to risks of mental disorder later in life. We found a reversal in gender gaps in mental health during the study period. Women had a lower risk than men in 1900 and higher risks in 1959. For men, we found a negative gradient in SES risks in 1900 and a positive gradient in 1959. For women, we found no clear SES gradient in the risk of mental disorder. These findings suggest that the contemporary patterns in socioeconomic and gender gaps in mental disorder emerged during the 1940s and 1950s and have since then persisted.

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<![CDATA[A model for the assessment of bluetongue virus serotype 1 persistence in Spain]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_11225 Bluetongue virus (BTV) is an arbovirus of ruminants that has been circulating in Europe continuously for more than two decades and has become endemic in some countries such as Spain. Spain is ideal for BTV epidemiological studies since BTV outbreaks from different sources and serotypes have occurred continuously there since 2000; BTV-1 has been reported there from 2007 to 2017. Here we develop a model for BTV-1 endemic scenario to estimate the risk of an area becoming endemic, as well as to identify the most influential factors for BTV-1 persistence. We created abundance maps at 1-km2 spatial resolution for the main vectors in Spain, Culicoides imicola and Obsoletus and Pulicaris complexes, by combining environmental satellite data with occurrence models and a random forest machine learning algorithm. The endemic model included vector abundance and host-related variables (farm density). The three most relevant variables in the endemic model were the abundance of C. imicola and Obsoletus complex and density of goat farms (AUC 0.86); this model suggests that BTV-1 is more likely to become endemic in central and southwestern regions of Spain. It only requires host- and vector-related variables to identify areas at greater risk of becoming endemic for bluetongue. Our results highlight the importance of suitable Culicoides spp. prediction maps for bluetongue epidemiological studies and decision-making about control and eradication measures.

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<![CDATA[30-year trends in major cardiovascular risk factors in the Czech population, Czech MONICA and Czech post-MONICA, 1985 – 2016/17]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7657 Compared with Western Europe, the decline in cardiovascular (CV) mortality has been delayed in former communist countries in Europe, including the Czech Republic. We have assessed longitudinal trends in major CV risk factors in the Czech Republic from 1985 to 2016/17, covering the transition from the totalitarian regime to democracy.MethodsThere were 7 independent cross-sectional surveys for major CV risk factors conducted in the Czech Republic in the same 6 country districts within the WHO MONICA Project (1985, 1988, 1992) and the Czech post-MONICA study (1997/98, 2000/01, 2007/08 and 2016/2017), including a total of 7,606 males and 8,050 females. The population samples were randomly selected (1%, aged 25–64 years).ResultsOver the period of 31/32 years, there was a significant decrease in the prevalence of smoking in males (from 45.0% to 23.9%; p < 0.001) and no change in females. BMI increased only in males. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased significantly in both genders, while the prevalence of hypertension declined only in females. Awareness of hypertension, the proportion of individuals treated by antihypertensive drugs and consequently hypertension control improved in both genders. A substantial decrease in total cholesterol was seen in both sexes (males: from 6.21 ± 1.29 to 5.30 ± 1.05 mmol/L; p < 0.001; females: from 6.18 ± 1.26 to 5.31 ± 1.00 mmol/L; p < 0.001).ConclusionsThe significant improvement in most CV risk factors between 1985 and 2016/17 substantially contributed to the remarkable decrease in CV mortality in the Czech Republic. ]]> <![CDATA[Life expectancy and survival analysis of patients with diabetes compared to the non diabetic population in Bulgaria]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_7723 To evaluate the expected life expectancy in patients with diabetes in Bulgaria and to compare it to the expected life expectancy of the non-diabetic population in the country.MethodsIt is a retrospective observational population study on individuals diagnosed with diabetes, compared to the non-diabetic population in Bulgaria for the period 2012–2015. Data from the national diabetes register and national statistical institute were used to construct life-tables with probability of survival with t-test and Chi Square test. Confounder analysis was done by age, sex, and type of diabetes. All-cause mortality and deaths in diabetic patients were analyzed. Kaplan-Meier survival curves were constructed for each age group and a log-rank analysis was conducted.ResultsAverage life expectancy in the non-diabetic population, patients with Type 1 DM and with Type 2 DM is 74.8; 70.96 and 75.19 years, respectively. For 2012–2015 the mortality in the non-diabetic population remained constant and lower (average—1.48%) compared to type-1 DM (5.25%) and Type-2 (4.27%). Relative risk of death in diabetics was higher overall (12%), after the age of 70 before which the relative risk was higher for the non-diabetic population. This was observed as a trend in all analyzed years.ConclusionPatients with type 2 DM have a longer life-expectancy than patients with type-1 DM and overall Diabetics life expectancy equals that of the non-diabetic population, which could suggest improved disease control and its associated complications in Bulgaria. Male diabetics show slightly longer life expectancy than their counterparts in the non-diabetic population, by a marginal gain of 0.6 years for the entire observed period. Life expectancy in diabetic women increased by 1.3 years, which was not observed in the non-diabetic population. Prevalence of diabetes was higher for women. Improved diabetes control may explain this gain in life; however other studies are needed to confirm this. ]]> <![CDATA[Effect of moderate elevated intra-abdominal pressure on lung mechanics and histological lung injury at different positive end-expiratory pressures]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nccafa6f6-e83a-4af1-be67-e451f21e0145

Introduction

Intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH) is a well-known phenomenon in critically ill patients. Effects of a moderately elevated intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) on lung mechanics are still not fully analyzed. Moreover, the optimal positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP) in elevated IAP is unclear.

Methods

We investigated changes in lung mechanics and transformation in histological lung patterns using three different PEEP levels in eighteen deeply anesthetized pigs with an IAP of 10 mmHg. After establishing the intra-abdominal pressure, we randomized the animals into 3 groups. Each of n = 6 (Group A = PEEP 5, B = PEEP 10 and C = PEEP 15 cmH2O). End-expiratory lung volume (EELV/kg body weight (bw)), pulmonary compliance (Cstat), driving pressure (ΔP) and transpulmonary pressure (ΔPL) were measured for 6 hours. Additionally, the histological lung injury score was calculated.

Results

Comparing hours 0 and 6 in group A, there was a decrease of EELV/kg (27±2 vs. 16±1 ml/kg; p<0.05) and of Cstat (42±2 vs. 27±1 ml/cmH2O; p<0.05) and an increase of ΔP (11±0 vs. 17±1 cmH2O; p<0.05) and ΔPL (6±0 vs. 10±1 cmH2O; p<0.05). In group B, there was no significant change in EELV/kg (27±3 vs. 24±3 ml/kg), but a decrease in Cstat (42±3 vs. 32±1 ml/cmH20; p<0.05) and an increase in ΔP (11±1 vs. 15±1 cmH2O; p<0.05) and ΔPL (5±1 vs. 7±0 cmH2O; p<0.05). In group C, there were no significant changes in EELV/kg (27±2 vs. 29±3 ml/kg), ΔP (10±1 vs. 12±1 cmH2O) and ΔPL (5±1 vs. 7±1 cmH2O), but a significant decrease of Cstat (43±1 vs. 37±1 ml/cmH2O; p<0.05). Histological lung injury score was lowest in group B.

Conclusions

A moderate elevated IAP of 10 mmHg leads to relevant changes in lung mechanics during mechanical ventilation. In our study, a PEEP of 10 cmH2O was associated with a lower lung injury score and was able to overcome the IAP induced alterations of EELV.

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<![CDATA[Risk factors associated to a high Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex seroprevalence in wild boar (Sus scrofa) from a low bovine tuberculosis prevalence area]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nfbbd03ef-7cb8-4d82-b605-16cf8ee0d77e

Animal tuberculosis is a worldwide zoonotic disease caused principally by Mycobacterium bovis, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC). In southern Iberian Peninsula, wild reservoirs such as the wild boar, among other factors, have prevented the eradication of bovine tuberculosis. However, most of the studies have been focused on south-central Spain, where the prevalence of tuberculosis is high among wild ungulates and cattle herds. In northern regions, where wild boar density and bovine tuberculosis prevalence are lower, fewer studies have been carried out and the role of this species is still under debate. The aim of this study was to describe the temporal and spatial distribution of antibodies against MTC in wild boar from the Basque Country, northern Spain. Sera from 1902 animals were collected between 2010 and 2016. The seroprevalence was determined with an in house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the search of risk factors was assessed by Generalized Linear Models. Overall, 17% of wild boars (326/1902; 95%CI, [15.5%–18.9%]) showed antibodies against MTC. Risk factors associated with seropositivity were the year and location of sampling, the number of MTC positive cattle, the distance to positive farms and the percentage of shrub cover. Younger age classes were associated with increased antibody titres among seropositive individuals. The seroprevalence detected was higher than those previously reported in neighbouring regions. Hence, further studies are needed to better understand the role of wild boar in the epidemiology of tuberculosis in low tuberculosis prevalence areas and consequently, its relevance when developing control strategies.

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<![CDATA[Regional variations in geographic access to inpatient hospices and Place of death: A Population-based study in England, UK]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N0789e4f1-219e-494f-9677-036e019c10b6

Background

There is much variation in hospice use with respect to geographic factors such as area-based deprivation, location of patient’s residence and proximity to services location. However, little is known about how the association between geographic access to inpatient hospice and hospice deaths varies by patients’ region of settlement.

Study aim

To examine regional differences in the association between geographic access to inpatient hospice and hospice deaths.

Methods

A regional population-based observational study in England, UK. Records of patients aged ≥ 25 years (n = 123088) who died from non-accidental causes in 2014, were extracted from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) death registry. Our cohort comprised of patients who died at home and in inpatient hospice. Decedents were allocated to each of the nine government office regions of England (London, East Midlands, West Midlands, East, Yorkshire and The Humber, South West, South East, North West and North East) through record linkage with their postcode of usual residence. We defined geographic access as a measure of drive times from patients’ residential location to the nearest inpatient hospice. A modified Poisson regression estimated the association between geographic access to hospice, comparing hospice deaths (1) versus home deaths (0). We developed nine regional specific models and adjusted for regional differences in patient’s clinical & socio-demographic characteristics. The strength of the association was estimated with adjusted Proportional Ratios (aPRs).

Findings

The percentage of deaths varied across regions (home: 86.7% in the North East to 73.0% in the South East; hospice: 13.3% in the North East to 27.0% in the South East). We found wide differences in geographic access to inpatient hospices across regions. Median drive times to hospice varied from 4.6 minutes in London to 25.9 minutes in the North East. We found a dose-response association in the East: (aPRs: 0.22–0.78); East Midlands: (aPRs: 0.33–0.63); North East (aPRs: 0.19–0.87); North West (aPRs: 0.69–0.88); South West (aPRs: 0.56–0.89) and West Midlands (aPRs: 0.28–0.92) indicating that decedents who lived further away from hospices locations (≥ 10 minutes) were less likely to die in a hospice.

Conclusion

The clear dose-response associations in six regions underscore the importance of regional specific initiatives to improve and optimise access to hospices. Commissioners and policymakers need to do more to ensure that home death is not due to limited geographic access to inpatient hospice care.

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<![CDATA[Characterization of e-Government adoption in Europe]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2f6308d0-16b2-46c8-b471-69fa510f181d

The digital divide in Europe has not yet been bridged and thus more contributions towards understanding the factors affecting the different dimensions involved are required. This research offers some insights into the topic by analyzing the e-Government adoption or practical use of e-Government across Europe (26 EU countries). Based on the data provided by the statistical office of the European Union (Eurostat), we defined two indexes, the E-Government Use Index (EGUI) and an extreme version of it taking into account only null or complete use (EGUI+), and characterized the use/non use of e-Government tools using supervised learning procedures in a selection of countries with different e-Government adoption levels. These procedures achieved an average accuracy of 73% and determined the main factors related to the practical use of e-Government in each of the countries, e.g. the frequency of buying goods over the Internet or the education level. In addition, we compared the proposed indexes to other indexes measuring the level of e-readiness of a country such as the E-Government Development Index (EGDI) its Online Service Index (OSI) component, the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) and its Government usage component (GU). The ranking comparison found that EGUI+ is correlated with the four indexes mentioned at 0.05 significance level, as the majority of countries were ranked in similar positions. The outcomes contribute to gaining understanding about the factors influencing the use of e-Government in Europe and the different adoption levels.

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<![CDATA[Do parents counter-balance the carbon emissions of their children?]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nea582d41-f072-4a93-882b-8bb6cca64243

It is well understood that adding to the population increases CO2 emissions. At the same time, having children is a transformative experience, such that it might profoundly change adult (i.e., parents’) preferences and consumption. How it might change is, however, unknown. Depending on if becoming a parent makes a person “greener” or “browner,” parents may either balance or exacerbate the added CO2 emissions from their children. Parents might think more about the future, compared to childless adults, including risks posed to their children from environmental events like climate change. But parenthood also adds needs and more intensive competition on your scarce time. Carbon-intensive goods can add convenience and help save time, e.g., driving may facilitate being in more places in one day, compared to public transportation or biking. Pre-prepared food that contain red meat may save time and satisfy more household preferences, relative to vegetarian food. We provide the first rigorous test of whether parents are greener or browner than other adults. We create a unique dataset by combining detailed micro data on household expenditures of all expenditure groups particularly important for CO2 emissions (transportation, food, and heating/electricity) with CO2 emissions, and compare emissions from Swedish adults with and without children. We find that parents emit more CO2 than childless adults. Only a small fraction of adults permanently choose not to have children, which means any meaningful self-selection into parenthood based on green preferences is unlikely. Our findings suggest that having children might increase CO2 emissions both by adding to the population and by increasing CO2 emissions from those choosing to have children.

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<![CDATA[Prevalence of depressive symptoms among Italian medical students: The multicentre cross-sectional “PRIMES” study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N89095419-220d-4d38-944c-d00bb778cf6f

Background

Four percent of the world’s population suffers from depression, which is a major public health issue. Medical students are at risk, as their depressive symptoms (DS) prevalence is reported to be approximately 27% worldwide. Since few data on Italian medical students exist, this study aimed to estimate their DS prevalence and assess risk and protective factors.

Methods

The PRIMES was a multicentre cross-sectional study performed in 12 Italian medical schools. Questionnaires were self-reported and included 30 sociodemographic items and the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). The primary outcome was the presence of DS (BDI-II score≥14). The main analyses were chi-squared tests and multivariable logistic regressions with a p-value<0.05 considered significant.

Results

The number of collected questionnaires was 2,513 (117 BDI-II incomplete). Females accounted for 61.3% of the respondents, and the median age was 22 years (IQR = 4). The prevalence of DS was 29.5%. Specifically, 14.0% had mild depression, 11.1% had moderate depression, and 4.5% had severe depression. The main risk factors for DS were age, being female, bisexual/asexual orientation, living with partner/housemates, poor economic status (worsened by living far from home), less than 90 min of weekly exercise, relatives with psychiatric disorders, personal chronic disease, judging medical school choice negatively, unsatisfying friendships with classmates, competitive and hostile climate among classmates, thinking that medical school hinders specific activities and being worried about not measuring up to the profession. Protective factors included family cohesion, hobbies, intellectual curiosity as a career motivation and no worries about the future.

Conclusion

Italian medical students are at high risk of reporting DS, similar to the global population of medical students’. Medical schools must make efforts to implement preventive and treatment interventions by offering counselling and working on modifiable factors, such as lifestyle and learning climate.

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<![CDATA[MLST-based genetic relatedness of Campylobacter jejuni isolated from chickens and humans in Poland]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N2eb0d267-f054-40f4-b445-0c8d9725ee43

Campylobacter jejuni infection is one of the most frequently reported foodborne bacterial diseases worldwide. The main transmission route of these microorganisms to humans is consumption of contaminated food, especially of chicken origin. The aim of this study was to analyze the genetic relatedness of C. jejuni from chicken sources (feces, carcasses, and meat) and from humans with diarrhea as well as to subtype the isolates to gain better insight into their population structure present in Poland. C. jejuni were genotyped using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and sequence types (STs) were assigned in the MLST database. Among 602 isolates tested, a total of 121 different STs, including 70 (57.9%) unique to the isolates' origin, and 32 STs that were not present in the MLST database were identified. The most prevalent STs were ST464 and ST257, with 58 (9.6%) and 52 (8.6%) C. jejuni isolates, respectively. Isolates with some STs (464, 6411, 257, 50) were shown to be common in chickens, whereas others (e.g. ST21 and ST572) were more often identified among human C. jejuni. It was shown that of 47 human sequence types, 26 STs (106 isolates), 23 STs (102 isolates), and 29 STs (100 isolates) were also identified in chicken feces, meat, and carcasses, respectively. These results, together with the high and similar proportional similarity indexes (PSI) calculated for C. jejuni isolated from patients and chickens, may suggest that human campylobacteriosis was associated with contaminated chicken meat or meat products or other kinds of food cross-contaminated with campylobacters of chicken origin. The frequency of various sequence types identified in the present study generally reflects of the prevalence of STs in other countries which may suggest that C. jejuni with some STs have a global distribution, while other genotypes may be more restricted to certain countries.

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<![CDATA[Iron deficiency anemia, population health and frailty in a modern Portuguese skeletal sample]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8accd9d5eed0c484990155

Introduction

Portugal underwent significant political, demographic and epidemiological transitions during the 20th century resulting in migration to urban areas with subsequent overcrowding and issues with water sanitation. This study investigates population health during these transitions and interprets results within a framework of recent history and present-day public health information. We investigate skeletal evidence for anemia (cribra orbitalia and porotic hyperostosis) as indicators of stress and frailty–i.e., whether the lesions contribute to susceptibility for disease or increased risk of death.

Methods

The presence and severity of skeletal lesions were compared against known sex and cause of death data to investigate potential heterogeneity in frailty and the relationship between lesions and risk of dying over time. Additionally, we tested for the presence of selective mortality in our data (i.e., whether or not the sample is biased for individuals with higher frailty). Our sample derives from a large, documented, modern Portuguese collection from Lisbon and is the first study of its kind using a documented collection. The collection represents primarily middle-class individuals.

Results and conclusions

Analyses indicated that porotic hyperostosis became more common and severe over time, while cribra orbitalia severity increased over time. Neither process was linked to cause of death. However, there was a significant relationship to sex; males exhibited a higher prevalence and severity of lesions and increased mortality. A Gompertz function showed decreased survivorship in early life but increased survivorship over age 60. Using comorbidities of anemia, we were unable to detect selective mortality–i.e., in our sample, lesions do not represent a sign of poor health or increased frailty and are not significantly linked with a decreased mean age-at-death. However, lesion prevalence and severity do reflect the socioeconomic processes in urban Lisbon during the 1800s and 1900s and the possibility of water-borne parasites as the contributing factor for iron deficiency anemia.

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<![CDATA[Completeness of Digital Accessible Knowledge (DAK) about terrestrial mammals in the Iberian Peninsula]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8c197fd5eed0c484b4d7aa

The advent of online data aggregator infrastructures has facilitated the accumulation of Digital Accessible Knowledge (DAK) about biodiversity. Despite the vast amount of freely available data records, their usefulness for research depends on completeness of each body of data regarding their spatial, temporal and taxonomic coverage. In this paper, we assess the completeness of DAK about terrestrial mammals distributed across the Iberian Peninsula. We compiled a dataset with all records about mammals occurring in the Iberian Peninsula available in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and in the national atlases from Portugal and Spain. After cleaning the dataset of errors as well as records lacking collection dates or not determined to species level, we assigned all occurrences to a 10-km grid. We assessed inventory completeness by calculating the ratio between observed and expected richness (based on the Chao2 richness index) in each grid cell and classified cells as well-sampled or under-sampled. We evaluated survey coverage of well-sampled cells along four environmental gradients and temporal coverage. Out of 796,283 retrieved records, quality issues led us to remove 616,141 records unfit for this use. The main reason for discarding records was missing collection dates. Only 25.95% cells contained enough records to robustly estimate completeness. The DAK about terrestrial mammals from the Iberian Peninsula was low, and spatially and temporally biased. Out of 5,874 cells holding data, only 620 (9.95%) were classified as well-sampled. Moreover, well-sampled cells were geographically aggregated and reached inventory completeness over the same temporal range. Despite the increasing availability of DAK, its usefulness is still compromised by quality issues and gaps in data. Future work should therefore focus on increasing data quality, in addition to mobilizing unpublished data.

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<![CDATA[Validation of the Spanish-language Cardiff Anomalous Perception Scale]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897783d5eed0c4847d2ec2

The Cardiff Anomalous Perceptions Scale (CAPS) is a psychometric measure of hallucinatory experience. It has been widely used in English and used in initial studies in Spanish but a full validation study has not yet been published. We report a validation study of the Spanish-language CAPS, conducted in both Spain and Colombia to cover both European and Latin American Spanish. The Spanish-language version of the CAPS was produced through back translation with slight modifications made for local dialects. In Spain, 329 non-clinical participants completed the CAPS along with 40 patients with psychosis. In Colombia, 190 non-clinical participants completed the CAPS along with 21 patients with psychosis. Participants completed other psychometric scales measuring psychosis-like experience to additionally test convergent and divergent validity. The Spanish-language CAPS was found to have good internal reliability. Test-retest reliability was slightly below the cut-off, although could only be tested in the Spanish non-clinical sample. The scale showed solid construct validity and a principal components analysis broadly replicated previously reported three component factor structures for the CAPS.

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<![CDATA[HCV transmission in high-risk communities in Bulgaria]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c882406d5eed0c4846395b0

Background

The rate of HIV infection in Bulgaria is low. However, the rate of HCV-HIV-coinfection and HCV infection is high, especially among high-risk communities. The molecular epidemiology of those infections has not been studied before.

Methods

Consensus Sanger sequences of HVR1 and NS5B from 125 cases of HIV/HCV coinfections, collected during 2010–2014 in 15 different Bulgarian cities, were used for preliminary phylogenetic evaluation. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) data of the hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) analyzed via the Global Hepatitis Outbreak and Surveillance Technology (GHOST) were used to evaluate genetic heterogeneity and possible transmission linkages. Links between pairs that were below and above the established genetic distance threshold, indicative of transmission, were further examined by generating k-step networks.

Results

Preliminary genetic analyses showed predominance of HCV genotype 1a (54%), followed by 1b (20.8%), 2a (1.4%), 3a (22.3%) and 4a (1.4%), indicating ongoing transmission of many HCV strains of different genotypes. NGS of HVR1 from 72 cases showed significant genetic heterogeneity of intra-host HCV populations, with 5 cases being infected with 2 different genotypes or subtypes and 6 cases being infected with 2 strains of same subtype. GHOST revealed 8 transmission clusters involving 30 cases (41.7%), indicating a high rate of transmission.

Four transmission clusters were found in Sofia, three in Plovdiv, and one in Peshtera. The main risk factor for the clusters was injection drug use. Close genetic proximity among HCV strains from the 3 Sofia clusters, and between HCV strains from Peshtera and one of the two Plovdiv clusters confirms a long and extensive transmission history of these strains in Bulgaria.

Conclusions

Identification of several HCV genotypes and many HCV strains suggests a frequent introduction of HCV to the studied high-risk communities. GHOST detected a broad transmission network, which sustains circulation of several HCV strains since their early introduction in the 3 cities. This is the first report on the molecular epidemiology of HIV/HCV coinfections in Bulgaria.

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<![CDATA[Population density and temperature correlate with long-term trends in somatic growth rates and maturation schedules of herring and sprat]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c89775ed5eed0c4847d2b47

We examine long-term trends in the average growth rates and maturation schedules of herring and sprat populations using survey data collected from the North Sea and west of Scotland since the 1960s and 1980s respectively. Otolith age data and maturity data are used to calculate time series of mean lengths at age, von Bertalanffy growth parameters, and probabilistic maturation reaction norms. As the growth and maturation of fish is known to be influenced by temperature and stock abundances, we account for these variables using Generalised Additive Models. Each of the herring populations displayed either steady declines in mean length across multiple age groups, or declines in length followed years later by some recovery. Depending on region, lengths at age of sprat increased or decreased over time. Varying temporal trends in maturation propensity at age and length were observed across herring populations. Many of the trends in growth rate and maturation were correlated to population abundance and/or temperature. In general, abundance is shown to be negatively correlated to growth rates in herring and sprat, and positively correlated with maturation propensity in herring. Temperature is also shown to be correlated to growth and maturation, and although the effect is consistent within species, the temperature effects differ between herring and sprat. This study provides detailed information about long-term trends in growth and maturation, which is lacking for some of these pelagic stocks, especially in the west of Scotland.

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<![CDATA[HIV self-testing in Spain: A valuable testing option for men-who-have-sex-with-men who have never tested for HIV]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc9f4d5eed0c48452a5cf

Background

We assessed the capacity of HIV self-testing to promote testing among untested men who have sex with men (MSM) and determined the most benefited subpopulations.

Methods

An online questionnaire was disseminated on several gay websites in Spain from September 2012 to April 2013. We used Poisson regression to estimate factors associated with the intention to use self-testing if already available. Among those who reported intention of use, we assessed several aspects related to the testing and linkage to care process by type of barrier reported: low perceived risk (LR), structural barriers (SB) and fear of testing positive (FTP).

Results

Of 2589 never-tested MSM, 83% would have used self-testing if already available. Intention of use was associated with age ≥30 (adj.PR, 95%CI: 1.05, 1.01–1.10), having had protected (adj.PR, 95%CI: 1.15, 1.02–1.30) or unprotected (adj.PR, 95%CI: 1.21, 1.07–1.37) anal intercourse and reporting FTP (adj.PR, 95%CI: 1.12, 1.05–1.20) or SB to access HIV testing (adj.PR, 95%CI: 1.23, 1.19–1.28). Among those who reported intention of using a self-testi, 78.3% declared it their preferred option (83.8% in the SB group; p<0.001), and 56.8% would always use this testing option (60.9% among the SB group; p = 0.001). In the case of obtaining a positive self-test, 69.3% would seek confirmatory testing, 15.3% would self-test again before taking any decision and 13.0% reported not being sure of what they would do.

Conclusion

HIV self-testing in Spain has the potential of becoming a highly used testing methodology for untested MSM and could represent the gateway to testing especially among older, at risk MSM who report SB or FTP as main barriers to testing.

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<![CDATA[Population dynamics and socio-spatial organization of the Aurignacian: Scalable quantitative demographic data for western and central Europe]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc991d5eed0c484529e40

Demographic estimates are presented for the Aurignacian techno-complex (~42,000 to 33,000 y calBP) and discussed in the context of socio-spatial organization of hunter-gatherer populations. Results of the analytical approach applied estimate a mean of 1,500 persons (upper limit: 3,300; lower limit: 800) for western and central Europe. The temporal and spatial analysis indicates an increase of the population during the Aurignacian as well as marked regional differences in population size and density. Demographic increase and patterns of socio-spatial organization continue during the subsequent early Gravettian period. We introduce the concept of Core Areas and Extended Areas as informed analytical spatial scales, which are evaluated against additional chronological and archaeological data. Lithic raw material transport and personal ornaments serve as correlates for human mobility and connectedness in the interpretative framework of this study. Observed regional differences are set in relation with the new demographic data. Our large-scale approach on Aurignacian population dynamics in Europe suggests that past socio-spatial organization followed socially inherent rules to establish and maintain a functioning social network of extremely low population densities. The data suggest that the network was fully established across Europe during the early phase of the Gravettian, when demographic as well as cultural developments peaked.

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<![CDATA[Socioeconomic gap between neighborhoods of Budapest: Striking impact on stroke and possible explanations]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c76fe19d5eed0c484e5b4a4

Introduction

Hungary has a single payer health insurance system offering free healthcare for acute cerebrovascular disorders. Within the capital, Budapest, however there are considerable microregional socioeconomic differences. We hypothesized that socioeconomic deprivation reflects in less favorable stroke characteristics despite universal access to care.

Methods

From the database of the National Health Insurance Fund, we identified 4779 patients hospitalized between 2002 and 2007 for acute cerebrovascular disease (hereafter ACV, i.e. ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, or transient ischemia), among residents of the poorest (District 8, n = 2618) and the wealthiest (District 12, n = 2161) neighborhoods of Budapest. Follow-up was until March 2013.

Results

Mean age at onset of ACV was 70±12 and 74±12 years for District 8 and 12 (p<0.01). Age-standardized incidence was higher in District 8 than in District 12 (680/100,000/year versus 518/100,000/year for ACV and 486/100,000/year versus 259/100,000/year for ischemic stroke). Age-standardized mortality of ACV overall and of ischemic stroke specifically was 157/100,000/year versus 100/100,000/year and 122/100,000/year versus 75/100,000/year for District 8 and 12. Long-term case fatality (at 1,5, and 10 years) for ACV and for ischemic stroke was higher in younger District 8 residents (41–70 years of age at the index event) compared to D12 residents of the same age. This gap between the districts increased with the length of follow-up. Of the risk diseases the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes was higher in District 8 than in District 12 (75% versus 66%, p<0.001; and 26% versus 16%, p<0.001).

Discussion

Despite universal healthcare coverage, the disadvantaged district has higher ACV incidence and mortality than the wealthier neighborhood. This difference affects primarily the younger age groups. Long-term follow-up data suggest that inequity in institutional rehabilitation and home-care should be investigated and improved in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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