• Ebola: when a nightmare becomes reality Editorial

    Rezza, Giovanni
  • The future of e-learning in healthcare professional education: some possible directions Commentary

    Walsh, Kieran

    Abstract in English:

    E-learning in healthcare professional education still seems like it is a new innovation but the reality is that e-learning has been around for as long as the internet has been around. This is approximately twenty years and so it is probably appropriate to now take stock and consider what the future of e-learning in healthcare professional education might be. One likely occurrence is that there will be more formats, more interactive technology, and sometimes game-based learning. Another future of healthcare professional education will likely be in simulation. Like other forms of technology outside of medicine, the cost of e-learning in healthcare professional education will fall rapidly. E-learning will also become more adaptive in the future and so will deliver educational content based on learners' exact needs. The future of e-learning will also be mobile. Increasingly in the future e-learning will be blended with face to face education.
  • Incidental findings, genetic screening and the challenge of personalisation Original Articles and Reviews

    Petrini, Carlo; Alleva, Enrico

    Abstract in English:

    Genetic tests frequently produce more information than is initially expected. Several documents have addressed this issue and offer suggestions regarding how this information should be managed and, in particular, concerning the expedience of revealing (or not revealing) it to the persons concerned. While the approaches to the management of these incidental findings (IFs) vary, it is usually recommended that the information be disclosed if there is confirmed clinical utility and the possibility of treatment or prevention. However, this leaves unsolved some fundamental issues such as the different ways of interpreting "clinical utility", countless sources of uncertainty and varying ways of defining the notion of "incidental". Guidelines and other reference documents can offer indications to those responsible for managing IFs but should not be allowed to relieve researchers and healthcare professionals of their responsibilities.
  • Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 on clinical trials on medicinal products for human use: an overview Original Articles and Reviews

    Petrini, Carlo

    Abstract in English:

    For the 28 member states of the European Union, Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 on clinical trials on medicinal products for human use, which repeals Directive 2001/20/EC, represents a substantial innovation in the procedures for authorising clinical trials and for handling all the subsequent stages. It introduces a single authorisation that will be valid for all EU member states, as well as a single portal through which all data concerning all clinical trials performed throughout the EU will pass. The present article offers an overview of the general aspects of the new procedures. It does not address the specific issues involved, each of which merits separate examination.
  • Mesothelioma incidence in the neighbourhood of an asbestos-cement plant located in a national priority contaminated site Original Articles and Reviews

    Fazzo, Lucia; Menegozzo, Simona; Soggiu, Maria Eleonora; De Santis, Marco; Santoro, Michele; Cozza, Valentina; Brangi, Amelia; Menegozzo, Massimo; Comba, Pietro

    Abstract in English:

    BACKGROUND: An epidemic of asbestos-related disease is ongoing in most industrialized countries, mainly attributable to past occupational exposure but partly due to environmental exposure. In this perspective, the incidence of pleural mesothelioma close to a former asbestos-cement plant in a national contaminated site was estimated. METHODS: The census-tracts interested by atmospheric dispersion of facilities in the contaminated site were identified. Two subareas with different estimated environmental asbestos impact were distinguished. An ecological study at micro-geographic level was performed. The standardized incidence ratios (SIR) for study area and the two subareas, in comparison with region and municipality were computed. The standardized incidence rate ratio (IRR) between the two subareas was computed. RESULTS: Mesothelioma incidence in the study area was increased: 46 cases were observed with respect to 22.23 expected (SIR: 2.02). The increase was confirmed in analysis considering only the subjects without an occupationally exposure to asbestos: 19 cases among men (SIR = 2.48; 95% CI: 1.49-3.88); 11 case among women (SIR = 1.34; 95% CI: 0.67-2.40). The IRR between the two subareas is less than one in overall population considering all age-classes and of 3 fold (IRR = 3.14, 95% CI: 0.65-9.17) in the age-classes below 55 years. CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate an increased incidence of pleural mesothelioma in the neighbourhood of asbestos-cement plant, and a possible etiological contribution of asbestos environmental exposure in detected risks.
  • A five years study on drug-related deaths in Campania (Italy) Original Articles and Reviews

    Borriello, Renata; Carfora, Anna; Cassandro, Paola; Petrella, Raffaella

    Abstract in English:

    OBJECTIVES: The study regards n. 267 drug related deaths submitted to toxicological analyses for forensic purpose, since 2008 to 2012, at the Laboratory of Forensic Toxicology of the Second University of Napoli (SUN), Italy. Among the cases studied (94% males and 6% females) the 13.1% regards foreign citizens. METHODS: For each case autopsy findings and all drugs detected were recorded. In addition other epidemiological data such as age, race, gender, place and circumstance of death were also supplied. A systematic toxicological analysis (STA) for illicit drug, other pharmaceuticals, new psychotropic substances and ethanol has been applied on the specimens collected at autopsy and all positive results were confirmed by a quantitative analysis (GC/MS or LC-MS/MS). RESULTS: Toxicological results shows that simultaneous use of multiple illicit drugs was responsible of the largest mortality rate (57.7%), in both males and females. In the poly-drug use the cocaine was the most detected substance. The association of heroin/cocaine was identified in the 22.5% of deaths. The finding of only one drug was correlated with an opiate drug for the 14.2% and with cocaine for the 4.5% of cases. The distribution by age and gender demonstrates an increase in deaths among males aged over 30 years and among women older than 35 years. The territorial distribution of the deaths in the different surrounding areas and in the residential quarters of the Naples city demonstrates that the 76% of deaths occurred in a place different from the usual residence. CONCLUSION: Results obtained demonstrate that prevails, at present, the need to specifically explore the changing patterns of poly-drug use among addicts, because studying the prevalence of mortality subsequent to the consumption of a single illicit drug may be insufficient to guide preventive policies in public health.
  • Generic substitution of antidiabetic drugs in the elderly does not affect adherence Original Articles and Reviews

    Trotta, Francesco; Da Cas, Roberto; Maggini, Marina; Rossi, Mariangela; Traversa, Giuseppe

    Abstract in English:

    INTRODUCTION: The possibility that variation in packaging and pill appearance may reduce adherence is a reason for concern, especially for chronic diseases. The objectives of the study were to quantify the extent of switches between generic antidiabetics and to verify whether switching between different products of the same substance affects adherence. MATERIALS AND METHODS: All elderly residents of the Umbria Region who received at least 2 prescriptions of antidiabetics in 2010 and 2011 were included in the study. Switching was defined as the dispensing of two different products of the same substance in a series of two prescriptions. Single and multiple switchers were identified according to the number of switches during 2011. Switching relevant to the three off-patent substances with generic use ≥ 5% (metformin, gliclazide and repaglinide) was quantified. The effect of switching on adherence, defined as the proportion of days in 2011 covered by prescriptions (Medication Possession Ratio, MPR), was estimated. RESULTS: Among the 15 964 patients receiving antidiabetics (14.4% of the elderly population) 9211 were prescribed at least one of the generic substances. Of these patients, 23.3% experienced a single switch and 15.7% were multiple switchers (61.0% never switched). The proportion of multiple switchers increased with the number of prescriptions, reaching 26% among patients with ≥ 11 prescriptions. MPR was 62%, 62% and 72%, respectively among non-switchers, single and multiple switchers. CONCLUSIONS: In elderly patients treated with antidiabetics, the substitution between branded and unbranded products (as well as between generics) of the same substance, did not negatively affect adherence.
  • Measles in Italy, laboratory surveillance activity during 2010 Original Articles and Reviews

    Fortuna, Claudia; Baggieri, Melissa; Marchi, Antonella; Benedetti, Eleonora; Bucci, Paola; Del Manso, Martina; Declich, Silvia; Iannazzo, Stefania; Pompa, Maria Grazia; Nicoletti, Loredana; Magurano, Fabio

    Abstract in English:

    INTRODUCTION: The European Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO/Europe) developed a strategic approach to stop the indigenous transmission of measles in its 53 Member States by 2015. This study describes the measles laboratory surveillance activity performed by the National Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella at the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità) during 2010. METHODS: Urine, oral fluid and capillary blood samples from 211 suspected measles cases arrived to the NRL from different regions of Italy for confirmation of the clinical diagnosis. Serological and/or molecular assays were performed; after molecular detection, positive samples were sequenced and genotyped. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: 85% (180/211) of the specimens were confirmed as measles cases and 139 of these were analyzed phylogenetically. The phylogenetic analysis revealed a co-circulation of D4 and D8 genotypes for the reviewed period.
  • Genotyping of circulating measles strains in Italy in 2010 Original Articles and Reviews

    Baggieri, Melissa; Fortuna, Claudia; Ansaldi, Filippo; Chironna, Maria; Marchi, Antonella; Bucci, Paola; Benedetti, Eleonora; Del Manso, Martina; Declich, Silvia; Nicoletti, Loredana; Magurano, Fabio

    Abstract in English:

    INTRODUCTION: The European Regional Office of the World Health Organization developed a strategic approach to stop the indigenous transmission of measles in its 53 Member States by 2015. In Italy, laboratory surveillance activity is implemented by the National Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella at the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome). The role of the National Reference Laboratory is to strengthen surveillance systems through rigorous case investigation and laboratory confirmation of suspected sporadic cases and outbreaks. Genetic characterization of wild-type measles virus is an essential component of the laboratory-based surveillance. This study describes the molecular characterization of measles virus strains isolated during 2010. METHODS: Dried blood spots, urine and oral fluid samples were collected from patients with a suspected measles infection. Serological tests were performed on capillary blood, and viral detection was performed on urine and oral fluid samples through molecular assay. Positive samples were sequenced and phylogenetically analysed. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The phylogenetic analysis showed a co-circulation of genotypes D4 and D8, and sporadic cases associated to genotypes D9 and B3. Then, molecular epidemiology of measles cases permitted to establish that D4 and D8 were the endemic genotypes in Italy during 2010.
  • Estimating measles transmission potential in Italy over the period 2010-2011 Original Articles and Reviews

    Ajelli, Marco; Merler, Stefano; Fumanelli, Laura; Bella, Antonino; Rizzo, Caterina

    Abstract in English:

    BACKGROUND: Recent history of measles epidemiology in Italy is characterized by the recurrence of spatially localized epidemics. AIM: In this study we investigate the three major outbreaks occurred in Italy over the period 2010-2011 and estimate the measles transmission potential. The epidemics mainly involved individuals aged 10-28 years and the transmission potential, measured as effective reproduction number - i.e. the number of new infections generated by a primary infector - was estimated to be 1.9-5.9. RESULTS: Despite such high values, we found that, in all investigated outbreaks, the reproduction number has remained above the epidemic threshold for no more than twelve weeks, suggesting that measles may hardly have the potential to give rise to new nationwide epidemics. CONCLUSION: In conclusion, the performed analysis highlights the need of planning additional vaccination programs targeting those age classes currently showing a higher susceptibility to infection, in order not to compromise the elimination goal by 2015.
  • Frequency and trends of hospital discharges against medical advice (DAMA) in a large administrative database Original Articles and Reviews

    Saia, Mario; Buja, Alessandra; Mantoan, Domenico; Bertoncello, Chiara; Baldovin, Tatjana; Callegaro, Giampietro; Baldo, Vincenzo

    Abstract in English:

    OBJECTIVE: The aim of this research was to characterize hospitalizations associated with discharges against medical advice (DAMA) in a large, population-based data system. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study on 11 436 500 hospital admissions. The hospital discharge records for residents of the Veneto region (north-east Italy) discharged from 2001 to 2012, from both public and accredited private hospitals, were considered. The DAMA rate was calculated by type of hospital admission, excluding patients who died. The time trend of the DAMA rate was charted from the average annual percent changes. RESULTS: During the period considered, 66 549 DAMA were recorded, amounting to an overall DAMA rate of 6.0‰ admissions. Analyzing the diagnostic categories, admissions for substance abuse (drugs or alcohol) and dependence coincided with the highest DAMA rate (83.5‰), followed by poisoning (40.2‰), psychiatric disorders (24.7 ‰), traumas (21.1‰), HIV-related diseases (19.9‰), burns (10.5‰), and - for women - issues relating to pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period (11.2‰). The DAMA rate dropped from 6.72 to 5.55 from 2000 to 2008, then remained stable. CONCLUSION: The DAMA rate dropped slightly over the period considered. Several diagnostic categories are associated with a higher likelihood of patients leaving hospital against their doctor's advice.
  • Sex workers clients in Italy: results of a phone survey on HIV risk behaviour and perception Original Articles and Reviews

    Mulieri, Ilaria; Santi, Flavia; Colucci, Anna; Fanales-Belasio, Emanuele; Gallo, Pietro; Luzi, Anna Maria

    Abstract in English:

    INTRODUCTION: Sex workers (SW) clients represent a bridge population for HIV transmission from high risk to low risk general population. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A cross-sectional anonymous telephone survey was carried out at the AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections Helpline of National Institute of Health in Italy. The questionnaire was proposed on a voluntary basis to a sample of 119 subjects from helpline users. RESULTS: The 119 participants were all males, aged between 19 and 59 years and mostly accessed female prostitutes. Vaginal intercourses with SW were more frequently reported, followed by passive oral, active oral sex and active anal intercourses. Cumulatively, 86.6% and 84.6% of vaginal and anal intercourses were respectively reported as regularly protected by condom. DISCUSSION: The telephone interview allowed an eased access, a high response rate and a standardised evaluation of questions CONCLUSIONS: It is necessary a constant monitoring of the characteristics, behaviour, risk perception and testing of SW clients in Italian and other populations.
  • Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFRs) travelers and imported malaria in the Palermo district (Sicily) Original Articles and Reviews

    Casuccio, Alessandra; D'Angelo, Claudio; Casuccio, Nicolò; Di Carlo, Paola; Immordino, Palmira

    Abstract in English:

    INTRODUCTION: Although Italy has been malaria-free since 1970, the infection is commonly introduced into the country by travelers and immigrants from endemic areas. The term VFRs refers to immigrants from malaria-endemic countries who are regularly resident in a malaria-free area, and who travel to their countries of origin to visit friends and relatives (VFRs). This group is at special risk of malaria as they are unaware of having lost their transitory immunity to the disease. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective study at the International Travelers Department of Palermo (Italy), examining records of malaria cases (67) reported over the period from 1998 to 2013. RESULTS: VFRs represent the highest number of cases (77.6%), followed by workers (16.4%) and tourists (6.0%). All female patients and patients under the age of 18 were VFRs. Plasmodium falciparum was the most frequently-identified species. In all cases, chemoprophylaxis was not taken or was incomplete. CONCLUSIONS: VFRs are at high risk of contracting malaria. This is probably related to an inequality in health care available to immigrants, as well as to ethnic and cultural conditions.
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Istituto Superiore di Sanità Roma - Rome - Italy
E-mail: annali@iss.it