639 research outputs found

    Endophytes for Improving Ryegrass Performance: Current Status and Future Possibilities

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    The endophyte N. lolii was introduced naturally into New Zealand and Australia when perennial ryegrass seed was brought into these countries. Although the presence of the endophyte was recognised early in the 19th Century, its effects were only discovered in the early 1980s when it was found that these Wild-type strains of endophyte caused ryegrass staggers, a neuromuscular condition of grazing animals (Fletcher and Harvey 1981), and that they also protected their hosts from the effects of Argentine stem weevil (Listronotus bonariensis) a serious pest of ryegrass in New Zealand (Prestidge et al. 1982). These endophytes form systemic infections in the above-ground parts of their host plants, have no external stage and are maternally transmit-ted in seed. They produce alkaloids which have effects on herbivores, including sheep, cattle and invertebrates. Although all the alkaloids known to be produced by the endophytes have bioactivity against insects, not all are toxic to livestock. Research in New Zealand has focused on exploiting these endophytes for their natural biological control properties while minimising any effects on livestock

    From causes to solutions - insights from lay knowledge about health inequalities

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    <p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>This paper reports on a qualitative study of lay knowledge about health inequalities and solutions to address them. Social determinants of health are responsible for a large proportion of health inequalities (unequal levels of health status) and inequities (unfair access to health services and resources) within and between countries. Despite an expanding evidence base supporting action on social determinants, understanding of the impact of these determinants is not widespread and political will appears to be lacking. A small but growing body of research has explored how ordinary people theorise health inequalities and the implications for taking action. The findings are variable, however, in terms of an emphasis on structure versus individual agency and the relationship between being 'at risk' and acceptance of social/structural explanations.</p> <p>Methods</p> <p>This paper draws on findings from a qualitative study conducted in Adelaide, South Australia, to examine these questions. The study was an integral part of mixed-methods research on the links between urban location, social capital and health. It comprised 80 in-depth interviews with residents in four locations with contrasting socio-economic status. The respondents were asked about the cause of inequalities and actions that could be taken by governments to address them.</p> <p>Results</p> <p>Although generally willing to discuss health inequalities, many study participants tended to explain the latter in terms of individual behaviours and attitudes rather than social/structural conditions. Moreover, those who identified social/structural causes tended to emphasise individualized factors when describing typical pathways to health outcomes. This pattern appeared largely independent of participants' own experience of advantage or disadvantage, and was reinforced in discussion of strategies to address health inequalities.</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>Despite the explicit emphasis on social/structural issues expressed in the study focus and framing of the research questions, participants did not display a high level of knowledge about the nature and causes of place-based health inequalities. By extending the scope of lay theorizing to include a focus on solutions, this study offers additional insights for public health. Specifically it suggests that a popular constituency for action on the social determinants of health is unlikely to eventuate from the current popular understandings of possible policy levers.</p

    Community empowerment and mental wellbeing: longitudinal findings from a survey of people actively involved in the big local place-based initiative in England

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    Background: Community empowerment initiatives are receiving increased interest as ways of improving health and reducing health inequalities. Purpose: Longitudinally examine associations between collective control, social-cohesion and mental wellbeing amongst participants in the Big Local community empowerment initiative across 150 disadvantaged areas of England. Methods: As part of the independent Communities in Control study, we analysed nested cohort survey data on mental wellbeing (Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale—SWEMWBS) and perceptions of collective control and social-cohesion. Data were obtained in 2016, 2018 and 2020 for 217 residents involved in the 150 Big Local areas in England. Adjusted linear mixed effect models were utilized to examine changes in SWEMWBS over the three waves. Subgroup analysis by gender and educational level was conducted. Results: There was a significant 1.46 (0.14, 2.77) unit increase in mental wellbeing score at wave 2 (2018) but not in wave 3 (2020) (0.06 [−1.41, 1.53]). Across all waves, collective control was associated with a significantly higher mental wellbeing score (3.36 [1.51, 5.21]) as was social cohesion (1.09 [0.19, 2.00]). Higher educated participants (1.99 [0.14, 3.84]) and men (2.41 [0.55, 4.28]) experienced significant increases in mental wellbeing in 2018, but lower educated participants and women did not. Conclusion: Collective control and social cohesion are associated with better mental wellbeing amongst residents engaged with the Big Local initiative. These health benefits were greater amongst men and participants from higher educational backgrounds. This suggests that additional care must be taken in future interventions to ensure that benefits are distributed equally

    Exploring perceived barriers, drivers, impacts and the need for evaluation of public involvement in health and social care research: a modified Delphi study

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    Mixed method, three-phase, modified Delphi technique, conducted as part of a larger MRC multiphase project: http://www.piiaf.org.ukThis is a freely-available open access publication. Please cite the published version which is available via the DOI link in this recordAbstract Objective To explore areas of consensus and conflict in relation to perceived public involvement (PI) barriers and drivers, perceived impacts of PI and ways of evaluating PI approaches in health and social care research. Background Internationally and within the UK the recognition of potential benefits of PI in health and social care research is gathering momentum and PI is increasingly identified by organisations as a prerequisite for funding. However, there is relatively little examination of the impacts of PI and how those impacts might be measured. Design Mixed method, three-phase, modified Delphi technique, conducted as part of a larger MRC multiphase project. Sample Clinical and non-clinical academics, members of the public, research managers, commissioners and funders. Findings This study found high levels of consensus about the most important barriers and drivers to PI. There was acknowledgement that tokenism was common in relation to PI; and strong support for the view that demonstrating the impacts and value of PI was made more difficult by tokenistic practice. PI was seen as having intrinsic value; nonetheless, there was clear support for the importance of evaluating its impact. Research team cohesion and appropriate resources were considered essential to effective PI implementation. Panellists agreed that PI can be challenging, but can be facilitated by clear guidance, together with models of good practice and measurable standards. Conclusions This study is the first to present empirical evidence of the opinions voiced by key stakeholders on areas of consensus and conflict in relation to perceived PI barriers and drivers, perceived impacts of PI and the need to evaluate PI. As such it further contributes to debate around best practice in PI, the potential for tokenism and how best to evaluate the impacts of PI. These findings have been used in the development of the Public Involvement Impact Assessment Framework (PiiAF), an online resource which offers guidance to researchers and members of the public involved in the PI process.The study was supported by the Medical Research Council's Methodology Research Programme [G0902155/93948]

    Exploring areas of consensus and conflict around values underpinning public involvement in health and social care research: A modified Delphi study

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    Objective: There is growing interest in the potential benefits of public involvement (PI) in health and social care research. However, there has been little examination of values underpinning PI or how these values might differ for different groups with an interest in PI in the research process. We aimed to explore areas of consensus and conflict around normative, substantive and process-related values underpinning PI. Design: Mixed method, three-phase, modified Delphi study, conducted as part of a larger multiphase project. Setting: The UK health and social care research community. Participants: Stakeholders in PI in research, defined as: clinical and non-clinical academics, members of the public, research managers, commissioners and funders; identified via research networks, online searches and a literature review. Results: We identified high levels of consensus for many normative, substantive and process-related issues. However, there were also areas of conflict in relation to issues of bias and representativeness, and around whether the purpose of PI in health and social care research is to bring about service change or generate new knowledge. There were large differences by group in the percentages endorsing the ethical justification for PI and the argument that PI equalises power imbalances. With regard to practical implementation of PI, research support infrastructures were reported as lacking. Participants reported shortcomings in the uptake and practice of PI. Embedding PI practice and evaluation in research study designs was seen as fundamental to strengthening the evidence base. Conclusions: Our findings highlight the extent to which PI is already embedded in research. However, they also highlight a need for 'best practice' standards to assist research teams to understand, implement and evaluate PI. These findings have been used in developing a Public Involvement Impact Assessment Framework (PiiAF), which offers guidance to researchers and members of the public involved in the PI process