Screening and brief intervention for obesity in primary care: a parallel, two-arm, randomised trial


Obesity is a common cause of non-communicable disease. Guidelines recommend that physicians screen and offer brief advice to motivate weight loss through referral to behavioural weight loss programmes. However, physicians rarely intervene and no trials have been done on the subject. We did this trial to establish whether physician brief intervention is acceptable and effective for reducing bodyweight in patients with obesity.


In this parallel, two-arm, randomised trial, patients who consulted 137 primary care physicians in England were screened for obesity. Individuals could be enrolled if they were aged at least 18 years, had a body-mass index of at least 30 kg/m2 (or at least 25 kg/m2 if of Asian ethnicity), and had a raised body fat percentage. At the end of the consultation, the physician randomly assigned participants (1:1) to one of two 30 s interventions. Randomisation was done via preprepared randomisation cards labelled with a code representing the allocation, which were placed in opaque sealed envelopes and given to physicians to open at the time of treatment assignment. In the active intervention, the physician offered referral to a weight management group (12 sessions of 1 h each, once per week) and, if the referral was accepted, the physician ensured the patient made an appointment and offered follow-up. In the control intervention, the physician advised the patient that their health would benefit from weight loss. The primary outcome was weight change at 12 months in the intention-to-treat population, which was assessed blinded to treatment allocation. We also assessed asked patients’ about their feelings on discussing their weight when they have visited their general practitioner for other reasons. Given the nature of the intervention, we did not anticipate any adverse events in the usual sense, so safety outcomes were not assessed. This trial is registered with the ISRCTN Registry, number ISRCTN26563137.


Between June 4, 2013, and Dec 23, 2014, we screened 8403 patients, of whom 2728 (32%) were obese. Of these obese patients, 2256 (83%) agreed to participate and 1882 were eligible, enrolled, and included in the intention-to-treat analysis, with 940 individuals in the support group and 942 individuals in the advice group. 722 (77%) individuals assigned to the support intervention agreed to attend the weight management group and 379 (40%) of these individuals attended, compared with 82 (9%) participants who were allocated the advice intervention. In the entire study population, mean weight change at 12 months was 2·43 kg with the support intervention and 1·04 kg with the advice intervention, giving an adjusted difference of 1·43 kg (95% CI 0·89–1·97). The reactions of the patients to the general practitioners’ brief interventions did not differ significantly between the study groups in terms of appropriateness (adjusted odds ratio 0·89, 95% CI 0·75–1·07, p=0·21) or helpfulness (1·05, 0·89–1·26, p=0·54); overall, four (<1%) patients thought their intervention was inappropriate and unhelpful and 1530 (81%) patients thought it was appropriate and helpful.


A behaviourally-informed, very brief, physician-delivered opportunistic intervention is acceptable to patients and an effective way to reduce population mean weight.


The UK National Prevention Research Initiative.

Sensitivity of fetal RHD screening for safe guidance of targeted anti-D immunoglobulin prophylaxis: prospective cohort study of a nationwide programme in the Netherlands

Objective To determine the accuracy of non-invasive fetal testing for the RHD gene in week 27 of pregnancy as part of an antenatal screening programme to restrict anti-D immunoglobulin use to women carrying a child positive for RHD.

Design Prospectively monitoring of fetal RHD testing accuracy compared with serological cord blood typing on introduction of the test. Fetal RHD testing was performed with a duplex real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction, with cell-free fetal DNA isolated from 1 mL of maternal plasma The study period was between 4 July 2011 and 7 October 2012. The proportion of women participating in screening was determined.

Setting Nationwide screening programme, the Netherlands. Tests are performed in a centralised setting.

Participants 25 789 RhD negative pregnant women.

Main outcome measures Sensitivity, specificity, false negative rate, and false positive rate of fetal RHDtesting compared with serological cord blood typing; proportion of technical failures; and compliance to the screening programme.

Results A fetal RHD test result and serological cord blood result were available for 25 789 pregnancies. Sensitivity for detection of fetal RHD was 99.94% (95% confidence interval 99.89% to 99.97%) and specificity was 97.74% (97.43% to 98.02%). Nine false negative results for fetal RHD testing were registered (0.03%, 95% confidence interval 0.01% to 0.06%). In two cases these were due to technical failures. False positive fetal RHDtesting results were registered for 225 samples (0.87%, 0.76% to 0.99%). Weak RhD expression was shown in 22 of these cases, justifying anti-D immunoglobulin use. The negative and positive predictive values were 99.91% (95% confidence interval 99.82% to 99.95%) and 98.60% (98.40% to 98.77%), respectively. More than 98% of the women participated in the screening programme.

Conclusions Fetal RHD testing in week 27 of pregnancy as part of a national antenatal screening programme is highly reliable and can be used to target both antenatal and postnatal anti-D immunoglobulin use.

BMJ 2016;355:i5789

Child–Parent Familial Hypercholesterolemia Screening in Primary Care


Child–parent screening for familial hypercholesterolemia has been proposed to identify persons at high risk for inherited premature cardiovascular disease. We assessed the efficacy and feasibility of such screening in primary care practice.


We obtained capillary blood samples to measure cholesterol levels and to test for familial hypercholesterolemia mutations in 10,095 children 1 to 2 years of age during routine immunization visits. Children were considered to have positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia if their cholesterol level was elevated and they had either a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation or a repeat elevated cholesterol level 3 months later. A parent of each child with a positive screening result for familial hypercholesterolemia was considered to have a positive screening result for familial hypercholesterolemia if he or she had the same mutation as the child or, if no mutations were identified, had the higher cholesterol level of the two parents.


The use of a prespecified cholesterol cutoff value of 1.53 multiples of the median (MoM, corresponding to a percentile of 99.2) identified 28 children who had positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia (0.3% of the 10,095 children; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.2 to 0.4), including 20 with a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation and 8 with a repeat cholesterol level of at least 1.53 MoM. A total of 17 children who had a cholesterol level of less than 1.53 MoM also had a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation. The overall mutation prevalence was 1 in 273 children (37 in 10,095; 95% CI, 1 in 198 to 1 in 388). The use of an initial cholesterol cutoff value of 1.35 MoM (95th percentile) plus a mutation, or two cholesterol values of at least 1.50 MoM (99th percentile), identified 40 children who had positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia (0.4% of the 10,095 children, including 32 children who had a familial hypercholesterolemia mutation and 8 who did not have the mutation) and 40 parents who had positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia.


Child–parent screening was feasible in primary care practices at routine child immunization visits. For every 1000 children screened, 8 persons (4 children and 4 parents) were identified as having positive screening results for familial hypercholesterolemia and were consequently at high risk for cardiovascular disease. (Funded by the Medical Research Council.)

Effects of evidence-based strategies to reduce the socioeconomic gradient of uptake in the English NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (ASCEND): four cluster-randomised controlled trials


Uptake in the national colorectal cancer screening programme in England varies by socioeconomic status. We assessed four interventions aimed at reducing this gradient, with the intention of improving the health benefits of screening.


All people eligible for screening (men and women aged 60–74 years) across England were included in four cluster-randomised trials. Randomisation was based on day of invitation. Each trial compared the standard information with the standard information plus the following supplementary interventions: trial 1 (November, 2012), a supplementary leaflet summarising the gist of the key information; trial 2 (March, 2012), a supplementary narrative leaflet describing people’s stories; trial 3 (June, 2013), general practice endorsement of the programme on the invitation letter; and trial 4 (July–August, 2013) an enhanced reminder letter with a banner that reiterated the screening offer. Socioeconomic status was defined by the Index of Multiple Deprivation score for each home address. The primary outcome was the socioeconomic status gradient in uptake across deprivation quintiles. This study is registered, number ISRCTN74121020.


As all four trials were embedded in the screening programme, loss to follow-up was minimal (less than 0·5%). Trials 1 (n=163 525) and 2 (n=150 417) showed no effects on the socioeconomic gradient of uptake or overall uptake. Trial 3 (n=265 434) showed no effect on the socioeconomic gradient but was associated with increased overall uptake (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1·07, 95% CI 1·04–1·10, p<0·0001). In trial 4 (n=168 480) a significant interaction was seen with socioeconomic status gradient (p=0·005), with a stronger effect in the most deprived quintile (adjusted OR 1·11, 95% CI 1·04–1·20, p=0·003) than in the least deprived (1·00, 0·94–1·06, p=0·98). Overall uptake was also increased (1·07, 1·03–1·11, p=0·001).


Of four evidence-based interventions, the enhanced reminder letter reduced the socioeconomic gradient in screening uptake, but further reducing inequalities in screening uptake through written materials alone will be challenging.


National Institute for Health Research.

By Jane Wardle et al, The Lancet Volume 387, No. 10020, p751–759, 20 February 2016

Prostate Cancer Incidence and PSA Testing Patterns in Relation to USPSTF Screening Recommendations

Importance  Prostate cancer incidence in men 75 years and older substantially decreased following the 2008 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation against prostate-specific antigen (PSA)–based screening for this age group. It is unknown whether incidence has changed since the USPSTF recommendation against screening for all men in May 2012.

Objective  To examine recent changes in stage-specific prostate cancer incidence and PSA screening rates following the 2008 and 2012 USPSTF recommendations.

Design and Settings  Ecologic study of age-standardized prostate cancer incidence (newly diagnosed cases/100 000 men aged ≥50 years) by stage from 2005 through 2012 using data from 18 population-based Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registries and PSA screening rate in the past year among men 50 years and older without a history of prostate cancer who responded to the 2005 (n = 4580), 2008 (n = 3476), 2010 (n = 4157), and 2013 (n = 6172) National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

Exposures  The USPSTF recommendations to omit PSA-based screening for average-risk men.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Prostate cancer incidence and incidence ratios (IRs) comparing consecutive years from 2005 through 2012 by age (≥50, 50-74, and ≥75 years) and SEER summary stage categorized as local/regional or distant and PSA screening rate and rate ratios (SRRs) comparing successive survey years by age.

Results  Prostate cancer incidence per 100 000 in men 50 years and older (N = 446 009 in SEER areas) was 534.9 in 2005, 540.8 in 2008, 505.0 in 2010, and 416.2 in 2012; rates began decreasing in 2008 and the largest decrease occurred between 2011 and 2012, from 498.3 (99% CI, 492.8-503.9) to 416.2 (99% CI, 411.2-421.2). The number of men 50 years and older diagnosed with prostate cancer nationwide declined by 33 519, from 213 562 men in 2011 to 180 043 men in 2012. Declines in incidence since 2008 were confined to local/regional-stage disease and were similar across age and race/ethnicity groups. The percentage of men 50 years and older reporting PSA screening in the past 12 months was 36.9% in 2005, 40.6% in 2008, 37.8% in 2010, and 30.8% in 2013. In relative terms, screening rates increased by 10% (SRR, 1.10; 99% CI, 1.01-1.21) between 2005 and 2008 and then decreased by 18% (SRR, 0.82; 99% CI, 0.75-0.89) between 2010 and 2013. Similar screening patterns were found in age subgroups 50 to 74 years and 75 years and older.

Conclusions and Relevance  Both the incidence of early-stage prostate cancer and rates of PSA screening have declined and coincide with 2012 USPSTF recommendation to omit PSA screening from routine primary care for men. Longer follow-up is needed to see whether these decreases are associated with trends in mortality.

Prostate Cancer Incidence and PSA Testing Patterns in Relation to USPSTF Screening Recommendations by Ahmedin Jemal et al.