Public health: news in brief

Scans have no benefit for lower back pain sufferers


The routine use of scans in patients with lower back pain does not improve their outcomes, according to a US study. Six trials including more than 1,800 patients found no benefit when patients were followed for up to a year, scientists from the Oregon Health and Science University concluded.


Employers urged to be on lookout for dementia


Employers are to be encouraged to monitor staff for early signs of dementia, as part of a new government £150m five-year strategy to raise awareness of the condition. It also recommended that children should be taught about the condition in schools and a public advertising campaign should be launched.


Drug supplies for flu outbreak to be doubled


The government is to double emergency supplies of flu drugs to treat everyone who is predicted to fall ill in a pandemic. Agreements with Roche and GlaxoSmithKline will double antiviral stockpiles, and are expected to be in place by April, the Department of Health has said.


Psychiatric problems for Ground Zero employees


Iron workers involved in the clean-up operation at Ground Zero in New York experienced significant psychiatric problems in the months after the 11 September attacks in 2001, new research has shown. The study, published in the February issue of the Psychiatric Bulletin, found many experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, anxiety, depression and alcohol misuse. The researchers concluded there was a causal relationship between psychiatric symptoms and the experience of working at Ground Zero.

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