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Climate Change and the New Normal for Cardiorespiratory Disease

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2015
Abstract: 

Climate change is already affecting the cardiorespiratory health of populations around the world, and these impacts are expected to increase. The present overview serves as a primer for respirologists who are concerned about how these profound environmental changes may affect their patients. The authors consider recent peer-reviewed literature with a focus on climate interactions with air pollution. They do not discuss in detail cardiorespiratory health effects for which the potential link to climate change is poorly understood. For example, pneumonia and influenza, which affect >500 million people per year, are not addressed, although clear seasonal variation suggests climate-related effects. Additionally, large global health impacts in low-resource countries, including migration precipitated by environmental change, are omitted. The major cardiorespiratory health impacts addressed are due to heat, air pollution and wildfires, shifts in allergens and infectious diseases along with respiratory impacts from flooding. Personal and societal choices about carbon use and fossil energy infrastructure should be informed by their impacts on health, and respirologists can play an important role in this discussion.

Document type: 
Article
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Prelude to a Systematic Review of Activity-based Funding of Hospitals: Potential Effects on Cost, Quality, Access, Efficiency, and Equity

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-10
Abstract: 

Until recently, hospital funding in Canada has been based predominantly on global budgets, but health care system decision-makers throughout the country are now seriously considering an alternative funding model referred to as activity-based funding (ABF). Under this system, hospital services are classified prospectively into clinically meaningful "bundles" of care that use similar levels of resources. Opinion is divided as to whether ABF would help the Canadian health care system to achieve any of the putative benefits originally achieved by ABF in other countries, or whether the risks would outweigh the benefits. As yet, there has been no systematic review of the evidence. In March 2012 our research team launched a systematic review to inform Canadian policy-makers about how this funding model affects health care systems around the world. Of the more than 16 000 potentially eligible titles and abstracts screened, 261 studies, representing 64 countries (either singly or in aggregate), provide data on at least one of the cost, quality, access, efficiency, and equity outcomes of interest to our research team. We are now in the process of analyzing data from the eligible studies most germane to the Canadian context. This commentary is intended to alert decision-makers to the upcoming release of a series of papers based on our systematic review of ABF, in the hope that our synthesis will soon provide a more robust evidence base to better inform decision-makers.

Document type: 
Article
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High Levels of Heterogeneity in the HIV Cascade of Care across Different Population Subgroups in British Columbia, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-12-26
Abstract: 

Background

The HIV cascade of care (cascade) is a comprehensive tool which identifies attrition along the HIV care continuum. We executed analyses to explicate heterogeneity in the cascade across key strata, as well as identify predictors of attrition across stages of the cascade.

Methods

Using linked individual-level data for the population of HIV-positive individuals in BC, we considered the 2011 calendar year, including individuals diagnosed at least 6 months prior, and excluding individuals that died or were lost to follow-up before January 1st, 2011. We defined five stages in the cascade framework: HIV ‘diagnosed’, ‘linked’ to care, ‘retained’ in care, ‘on HAART’ and virologically ‘suppressed’. We stratified the cascade by sex, age, risk category, and regional health authority. Finally, multiple logistic regression models were built to predict attrition across each stage of the cascade, adjusting for stratification variables.

Results

We identified 7621 HIV diagnosed individuals during the study period; 80% were male and 5% were <30, 17% 30–39, 37% 40–49 and 40% were ≥50 years. Of these, 32% were MSM, 28% IDU, 8% MSM/IDU, 12% heterosexual, and 20% other. Overall, 85% of individuals ‘on HAART’ were ‘suppressed’; however, this proportion ranged from 60%–93% in our various stratifications. Most individuals, in all subgroups, were lost between the stages: ‘linked’ to ‘retained’ and ‘on HAART’ to ‘suppressed’. Subgroups with the highest attrition between these stages included females and individuals <30 years (regardless of transmission risk group). IDUs experienced the greatest attrition of all subgroups. Logistic regression results found extensive statistically significant heterogeneity in attrition across the cascade between subgroups and regional health authorities.

Conclusions

We found that extensive heterogeneity in attrition existed across subgroups and regional health authorities along the HIV cascade of care in B.C., Canada. Our results provide critical information to optimize engagement in care and health service delivery.

Document type: 
Article
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The Role of Hormones in the Differences in the Incidence of Breast Cancer between Mongolia and the United Kingdom

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-12-23
Abstract: 

Background

There are striking differences in breast cancer incidence between Asian and western women. Rates vary substantially within Asia also, with Mongolia's even lower than China's. These profound differences have been speculated to be due in part to diet, mediated by circulating hormone concentrations.

Methods

Sex steroid hormone concentrations were measured in women living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and the United Kingdom (U.K.). Diet was obtained by interview and national survey data. Mean hormone differences were compared by country, and systematic variation by number of days since last menstrual period was modeled and adjusted for age and parity; difference in overall area under the curves was assessed.

Findings

The diet in Mongolia was higher in meat and dairy than in the U.K. Mean testosterone concentrations were 18.5% lower (p<0.0001) while estradiol concentrations were 19.1% higher (p = 0.02) in Mongolian than British women, adjusted for age and parity. Progesterone was almost 50% higher in Mongolian women (p = 0.04), particularly during the follicular phase and early luteal surge. Hormone concentrations generally were similar in Mongolian women born in Ulaanbaatar compared with those born in rural areas, although there was a decreasing progesterone trend by degree of westernization (rural Mongolia; urban Mongolia; U.K.). Mean hormone differences were similar when restricted to parous women, and with further adjustment for body mass index, height, and smoking status.

Interpretation

These data augment accumulating evidence that circulating estrogens are unlikely to explain reduced breast cancer rates in Asia compared with the west, and suggest casting a wider net with respect to biomarkers. Lower testosterone and higher progesterone in Mongolian women raise the possibility that these hormones may be important to consider. In addition, the almost exclusive dietary reliance of Mongolians on meat and dairy argues against beneficial effects of a low-fat diet on circulating hormones explaining international breast cancer differences.

Document type: 
Article
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A Novel Method to Evaluate the Community Built Environment Using Photographs – Environmental Profile of a Community Health (EPOCH) Photo Neighbourhood Evaluation Tool

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-11-04
Abstract: 

Background

Previous research has shown that environments with features that encourage walking are associated with increased physical activity. Existing methods to assess the built environment using geographical information systems (GIS) data, direct audit or large surveys of the residents face constraints, such as data availability and comparability, when used to study communities in countries in diverse parts of the world. The aim of this study was to develop a method to evaluate features of the built environment of communities using a standard set of photos. In this report we describe the method of photo collection, photo analysis instrument development and inter-rater reliability of the instrument.

Methods/Principal Findings

A minimum of 5 photos were taken per community in 86 communities in 5 countries according to a standard set of instructions from a designated central point of each community by researchers at each site. A standard pro forma derived from reviewing existing instruments to assess the built environment was developed and used to score the characteristics of each community. Photo sets from each community were assessed independently by three observers in the central research office according to the pro forma and the inter-rater reliability was compared by intra-class correlation (ICC). Overall 87% (53 of 60) items had an ICC of ≥0.70, 7% (4 of 60) had an ICC between 0.60 and 0.70 and 5% (3 of 60) items had an ICC ≤0.50.

Conclusions/Significance

Analysis of photos using a standardized protocol as described in this study offers a means to obtain reliable and reproducible information on the built environment in communities in very diverse locations around the world. The collection of the photographic data required minimal training and the analysis demonstrated high reliability for the majority of items of interest.

Document type: 
Article
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Activity-Based Funding of Hospitals and Its Impact on Mortality, Readmission, Discharge Destination, Severity of Illness, and Volume of Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-10-27
Abstract: 

Background

Activity-based funding (ABF) of hospitals is a policy intervention intended to re-shape incentives across health systems through the use of diagnosis-related groups. Many countries are adopting or actively promoting ABF. We assessed the effect of ABF on key measures potentially affecting patients and health care systems: mortality (acute and post-acute care); readmission rates; discharge rate to post-acute care following hospitalization; severity of illness; volume of care.

Methods

We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis of the worldwide evidence produced since 1980. We included all studies reporting original quantitative data comparing the impact of ABF versus alternative funding systems in acute care settings, regardless of language. We searched 9 electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, EMBASE, OVID Healthstar, CINAHL, Cochrane CENTRAL, Health Technology Assessment, NHS Economic Evaluation Database, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Business Source), hand-searched reference lists, and consulted with experts. Paired reviewers independently screened for eligibility, abstracted data, and assessed study credibility according to a pre-defined scoring system, resolving conflicts by discussion or adjudication.

Results

Of 16,565 unique citations, 50 US studies and 15 studies from 9 other countries proved eligible (i.e. Australia, Austria, England, Germany, Israel, Italy, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland). We found consistent and robust differences between ABF and no-ABF in discharge to post-acute care, showing a 24% increase with ABF (pooled relative risk = 1.24, 95% CI 1.18–1.31). Results also suggested a possible increase in readmission with ABF, and an apparent increase in severity of illness, perhaps reflecting differences in diagnostic coding. Although we found no consistent, systematic differences in mortality rates and volume of care, results varied widely across studies, some suggesting appreciable benefits from ABF, and others suggesting deleterious consequences.

Conclusions

Transitioning to ABF is associated with important policy- and clinically-relevant changes. Evidence suggests substantial increases in admissions to post-acute care following hospitalization, with implications for system capacity and equitable access to care. High variability in results of other outcomes leaves the impact in particular settings uncertain, and may not allow a jurisdiction to predict if ABF would be harmless. Decision-makers considering ABF should plan for likely increases in post-acute care admissions, and be aware of the large uncertainty around impacts on other critical outcomes.

Document type: 
Article
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Mortality in Patients with HIV-1 Infection Starting Antiretroviral Therapy in South Africa, Europe, or North America: A Collaborative Analysis of Prospective Studies

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-09-09
Abstract: 

Background

High early mortality in patients with HIV-1 starting antiretroviral therapy (ART) in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to Europe and North America, is well documented. Longer-term comparisons between settings have been limited by poor ascertainment of mortality in high burden African settings. This study aimed to compare mortality up to four years on ART between South Africa, Europe, and North America.

Methods and Findings

Data from four South African cohorts in which patients lost to follow-up (LTF) could be linked to the national population register to determine vital status were combined with data from Europe and North America. Cumulative mortality, crude and adjusted (for characteristics at ART initiation) mortality rate ratios (relative to South Africa), and predicted mortality rates were described by region at 0–3, 3–6, 6–12, 12–24, and 24–48 months on ART for the period 2001–2010. Of the adults included (30,467 [South Africa], 29,727 [Europe], and 7,160 [North America]), 20,306 (67%), 9,961 (34%), and 824 (12%) were women. Patients began treatment with markedly more advanced disease in South Africa (median CD4 count 102, 213, and 172 cells/µl in South Africa, Europe, and North America, respectively). High early mortality after starting ART in South Africa occurred mainly in patients starting ART with CD4 count <50 cells/µl. Cumulative mortality at 4 years was 16.6%, 4.7%, and 15.3% in South Africa, Europe, and North America, respectively. Mortality was initially much lower in Europe and North America than South Africa, but the differences were reduced or reversed (North America) at longer durations on ART (adjusted rate ratios 0.46, 95% CI 0.37–0.58, and 1.62, 95% CI 1.27–2.05 between 24 and 48 months on ART comparing Europe and North America to South Africa). While bias due to under-ascertainment of mortality was minimised through death registry linkage, residual bias could still be present due to differing approaches to and frequency of linkage.

Conclusions

After accounting for under-ascertainment of mortality, with increasing duration on ART, the mortality rate on HIV treatment in South Africa declines to levels comparable to or below those described in participating North American cohorts, while substantially narrowing the differential with the European cohorts.

Document type: 
Article
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Association between Childhood Physical Abuse, Unprotected Receptive Anal Intercourse and HIV Infection among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men in Vancouver, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-06-25
Abstract: 

Introduction

The association between childhood sexual abuse and HIV risk among men who have sex with men (MSM) is well established. However, no studies have examined the potential impact of other forms of childhood maltreatment on HIV incidence in this population.

Methods

We explored the impact of child physical abuse (CPA) on HIV seroconversion in a cohort of gay/bisexual men aged 15 to 30 in Vancouver, Canada. Cox proportional hazard models were used, controlling for confounders.

Results

Among 287 participants, 211 (73.5%) reported experiencing CPA before the age of 17, and 42 (14.6%) reporting URAI in the past year. After a median of 6.6 years follow-up, 16 (5.8%) participants HIV-seroconverted. In multivariate analysis, CPA was significantly associated with HIV seroconversion (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] = 4.89, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.65–14.48), after controlling for potential confounders.

Conclusion

Our study uncovered a link between childhood physical violence and HIV incidence. Results highlight an urgent need for screening of young gay and bisexual men for histories of violence, and social and structural supports to prevent HIV transmission in this population.

Document type: 
Article
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The ‘Stolen Generations' of Mothers and Daughters: Child Apprehension and Enhanced HIV Vulnerabilities for Sex Workers of Aboriginal Ancestry

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-06-13
Abstract: 

Objectives

The number of children in care of the state continues to grow in BC, Canada with a historical legacy of child apprehension among criminalized and marginalized populations, particularly women of Aboriginal ancestry and sex workers. However, there is a paucity of research investigating child apprehension experiences among marginalized mothers. The objective of the current analysis is to examine the prevalence and correlates of child apprehensions among female sex workers in Vancouver, Canada.

Methods

Analyses were drawn from the AESHA (An Evaluation of Sex Workers Health Access, 2010-present), a prospective cohort of street and off-street SWs, through outreach and semi-annual visits to the research office. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to examine correlates of child apprehension.

Results

Of a total of 510 SWs, 350 women who had given birth to at least one child were included in the analyses (median age = 37 yrs: IQR: 31–44 yrs). The prevalence of child apprehension among mothers was 38.3%, with 37.4% reporting having been apprehended themselves by child welfare services. In multivariable analysis, servicing clients in outdoor public spaces (versus formal sex work establishments or informal indoor settings) (adjusted odds ratio, (aOR) = 2.73; 95%CI 1.27–5.90), history of injecting drugs (aOR = 2.53; 95%CI 1.42–4.49), Aboriginal ancestry (aOR = 1.66; 95%CI 1.01–2.74) were associated with increased odds of child apprehension.

Discussion/Conclusions

Child apprehension rates are high, particularly among the most marginalized sex workers, including sex workers who use drugs and sex workers of Aboriginal ancestry. Structural reforms to child protection are urgently needed, that support family-based care address the historical legacy of colonization affecting Aboriginal peoples.

Document type: 
Article
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A TRIP230-Retinoblastoma Protein Complex Regulates Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1α-Mediated Transcription and Cancer Cell Invasion

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-06-11
Abstract: 

Localized hypoxia in solid tumors activates transcriptional programs that promote the metastatic transformation of cells. Like hypoxia-inducible hyper-vascularization, loss of the retinoblastoma protein (Rb) is a trait common to advanced stages of tumor progression in many metastatic cancers. However, no link between the role of Rb and hypoxia-driven metastatic processes has been established. We demonstrated that Rb is a key mediator of the hypoxic response mediated by HIF1α/β, the master regulator of the hypoxia response, and its essential co-activator, the thyroid hormone receptor/retinoblastoma-interacting protein (TRIP230). Furthermore, loss of Rb unmasks the full co-activation potential of TRIP230. Using small inhibitory RNA approaches in vivo, we established that Rb attenuates the normal physiological response to hypoxia by HIF1α. Notably, loss of Rb results in hypoxia-dependent biochemical changes that promote acquisition of an invasive phenotype in MCF7 breast cancer cells. In addition, Rb is present in HIF1α-ARNT/HIF1β transcriptional complexes associated with TRIP230 as determined by co-immuno-precipitation, GST-pull-down and ChIP assays. These results demonstrate that Rb is a negative modulator of hypoxia-regulated transcription by virtue of its direct effects on the HIF1 complex. This work represents the first link between the functional ablation of Rb in tumor cells and HIF1α-dependent transcriptional activation and invasion.

Document type: 
Article
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