Month: April 2022

A Clinician-Assisted Digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Intervention for Smoking Cessation

In a study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, we evaluated the secondary effectiveness outcomes for Quit Genius, a digital clinician-assisted cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) intervention for smoking cessation.

Adult smokers (N=556) were randomly assigned to Quit Genius (n=277), a digital, clinician-assisted CBT intervention or Very Brief Advice (VBA) to stop smoking, an evidence-based, 30-second intervention designed to facilitate quit attempts, coupled with referral to a cessation service (n=279). Participants were offered combination nicotine replacement therapy (patches and gum) tailored to individual nicotine dependence. Analyses (N=530), by intention-to-treat, compared Quit Genius and VBA at 4, 26, and 52 weeks post-quit date.

The primary outcome was self-reported seven-day point prevalence abstinence at 4 weeks post-quit date. Consecutive seven-day point-prevalence abstinence, defined as abstinent at two or more consecutive timepoints, was examined at weeks 26 and 52 to indicate long-term effectiveness. Abstinence was verified using a random sample of participants with carbon monoxide breath testing of <5 parts per million (n=280).

Self-reported consecutive seven-day point prevalence abstinence at weeks 26 and 52 for Quit Genius was 27.2% and 22.6% respectively, compared to VBA which was 16.6% and 13.2% (RR=1.70,95% CI,1.22-2.37;p=0.003, 26 weeks; RR=1.71,95% CI,1.17-2.50; p=0.005, 52 weeks). Biochemically verified abstinence was significantly different at 26- (p=0.03) but not 52 weeks (p=0.16). Quit Genius participants were more likely to remain abstinent than those who received VBA (RR=1.71,95% CI 1.17-2.50;p=0.005).

This study provides secondary evidence for the long-term effectiveness of Quit Genius in comparison with VBA. Future trials of digital interventions without clinician support and comparisons with active treatment are needed.

The long-term effectiveness of clinician-assisted digital smoking cessation interventions has not been well-studied. This study established the long-term effectiveness of an extended CBT-based intervention; results may inform implementation of scalable approaches to smoking cessation in the health system.


Do callers follow the advice given by NHS 111?

The National Health Service (NHS) 111 helpline was set up to improve access to urgent care in England, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of first-contact health services. Following trusted, authoritative advice is crucial for improved clinical outcomes. In paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, we examined patient and call-related characteristics associated with compliance with advice given in NHS 111 calls.

The importance of health interactions that are not face-to-face has recently been highlighted by COVID-19 pandemic. In this retrospective cohort study, NHS 111 call records were linked to urgent and emergency care services data. We analysed data of 3,864,362 calls made between October 2013 and September 2017 relating to 1,964,726 callers across London. A multiple logistic regression was used to investigate associations between compliance with advice given and patient and call characteristics.

Caller’s action is ‘compliant with advice given if first subsequent service interaction following contact with NHS 111 is consistent with advice given. We found that most calls were made by women (58%), adults aged 30–59 years (33%) and people in the white ethnic category (36%). The most common advice was for caller to contact their General Practitioner (GP) or other local services (18.2%) with varying times scales. Overall, callers followed advice given in 49% of calls.

Compliance with triage advice was more likely in calls for children aged <16 years, women, those from Asian/Asian British ethnicity, and calls made out of hours. The highest compliance was among callers advised to self-care without the need to contact any other healthcare service.

This is one of the largest studies to describe pathway adherence following telephone advice and associated clinical and demographic features. These results could inform attempts to improve caller compliance with advice given by NHS 111, and as the NHS moves to more hybrid way of working, the lessons from this study are key to the development of remote healthcare services going forward.


Defining the determinants of vaccine uptake and under-vaccination in migrant populations in Europe

Our new article in Lancet Infectious Diseases discusses why some migrants in Europe are at risk of under-immunisation and show lower vaccination uptake for routine and COVID-19 vaccines. Addressing this issue is critical if we are to address vaccination inequities and meet the goals of WHO’s new Immunisation Agenda 2030.

We carried out a systematic review exploring barriers and facilitators of vaccine uptake (categorised using the 5As taxonomy: access, awareness, affordability, acceptance, activation) and sociodemographic determinants of under-vaccination among migrants in the EU and European Economic Area, the UK, and Switzerland.

We identified multiple access barriers—including language, literacy, and communication barriers, practical and legal barriers to accessing and delivering vaccination services, and service barriers such as lack of specific guidelines and knowledge of health-care professionals—for key vaccines including measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, human papillomavirus, influenza, polio, and COVID-19 vaccines.

Acceptance barriers were mostly reported in eastern European and Muslim migrants for human papillomavirus, measles, and influenza vaccines. We identified 23 significant determinants of under-vaccination in migrants, including African origin, recent migration, and being a refugee or asylum seeker.

We did not identify a strong overall association with gender or age. Tailored vaccination messaging, community outreach, and behavioural nudges facilitated uptake. Migrants’ barriers to accessing health care are already well documented, and this Review confirms their role in limiting vaccine uptake.

These findings hold immediate relevance to strengthening vaccination programmes in high-income countries, including for COVID-19, and suggest that tailored, culturally sensitive, and evidence-informed strategies, unambiguous public health messaging, and health system strengthening are needed to address access and acceptance barriers to vaccination in migrants and create opportunities and pathways for offering catch-up vaccinations to migrants.


Depression and unplanned secondary healthcare use in people with multimorbidity

Multimorbidity, the co-occurrence of two or more chronic conditions, is increasing in prevalence and affecting approximately a third of all adults globally. In the UK, the prevalence of individuals with four or more long-term conditions is projected to increase to 17% by 2035, compared to 9.8% in 2015. Approximately two thirds of this population will have a mental illness such as depression , which is in turn strongly associated with the incidence of a multitude of long-term conditions.

As the number of physical conditions a person increases, the odds of having a mental health disorder increase by almost double for one condition, and six times for more than five conditions. The presence of a mental health comorbidity such as depression is associated with poorer clinical outcomes and quality of life, compared to individuals with physical conditions only.

In an article published in the journal PLOS ONE, we summarised the current evidence on the association between depression and unplanned secondary healthcare use among patients with multimorbidity. To our knowledge, the literature is limited on specifically depression-related multimorbidity clusters, namely different combinations of comorbidities, or specific patient characteristics and the subsequent effect on unplanned secondary healthcare use. Therefore, this review also aimed to explore the effect of the types of comorbidities and if available, different clusters of comorbidities, and sociodemographic predictors of unplanned secondary healthcare among patients with both multimorbidity and depression.

We found that presence of depression increases the likelihood of emergency hospital admissions and readmissions in patients with multimorbidity. This association holds across a range of long-term conditions characterising multimorbidity in various countries, settings and samples. Depression also predicted increased emergency department visits in most of the studies reporting on this outcome. Moreover, the greater the severity of depression, the greater the risk of emergency hospital admissions and emergency department visits.

Patients with co-occurring depression with cancer, COPD, and asthma showed some of the greatest magnitudes of risk of unplanned secondary healthcare use. Being female, of older age and having a greater number of long-term conditions were other predictors of unplanned secondary healthcare use.