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Concept: European countries


The UK has a longstanding system of general practice which provides the vast majority of primary care, including that for children. It acts as a ‘gatekeeper’ to more specialist care. Parents may also use accident and emergency departments as their first point of medical contact for their children. Outcomes in the UK for many conditions in children appear to be worse than in comparable European countries where there is direct access to care by paediatricians. We have therefore looked at pathways to diagnosis and compared outcomes in the childhood kidney cancer, Wilms' tumour, which has been treated in the UK and Germany within the same clinical trial for over a decade. We find that Wilms' tumours are significantly larger in volume and have a more advanced tumour stage at diagnosis in the UK compared to Germany. There is a small (∼3%) difference in event free and overall survival between the two countries. Our data suggest that the system of primary care for children in the UK is less likely to result in the incidental finding of an abdominal mass in a child with no or vague symptoms. This may be a reason for the poorer outcome.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, European Union, Cancer staging, United Kingdom, Child, Europe, European countries


In many European countries, medicines promotion is governed by voluntary codes of practice administered by the pharmaceutical industry under its own system of self-regulation. Involvement of industry organizations in policing promotion has been proposed to deter illicit conduct, but few detailed studies on self-regulation have been carried out to date. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence for promotion and self-regulation in the UK and Sweden, two countries frequently cited as examples of effective self-regulation.

Concepts: Pharmacology, European Union, United Kingdom, Europe, European countries, England, Pharmacy, AstraZeneca


CONTEXT: From the mid-1990s several countries have introduced elements of regulated competition in healthcare. The aim of this paper is to identify the most important preconditions for achieving efficiency and affordability under regulated competition in healthcare, and to indicate to what extent these preconditions are fulfilled in Belgium, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland. These experiences can be worthwhile for other countries (considering) implementing regulated competition (e.g. Australia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Russia, Slovakia, US). METHODS: We identify and discuss ten preconditions derived from the theoretical model of regulated competition and assess the extent to which each of these preconditions is fulfilled in Belgium, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland. FINDINGS: After more than a decade of healthcare reforms in none of these countries all preconditions are completely fulfilled. The following preconditions are least fulfilled: consumer information and transparency, contestable markets, freedom to contract and integrate, and competition regulation. The extent to which the preconditions are fulfilled differs substantially across the five countries. Despite substantial progress in the last years in improving the risk equalization systems, insurers are still confronted with substantial incentives for risk selection, in particular in Israel and Switzerland. Imperfect risk adjustment implies that governments are faced with a complex tradeoff between efficiency, affordability and selection. CONCLUSIONS: Implementing regulated competition in healthcare is complex, given the preconditions that have to be fulfilled. Moreover, since not all preconditions can be fulfilled simultaneously, tradeoffs have to be made with implications for the levels of efficiency and affordability that can be achieved. Therefore the optimal set of preconditions is not only an empirical question but ultimately also a matter of societal preferences.

Concepts: European Union, Europe, Germany, European countries, German language, NATO, Liberal democracies, Parliamentary system


Opioid abuse, including abuse of prescription opioids (“RxOs”) and illicit substances like heroin, is a serious public health issue in Europe. Currently, there is limited data on the magnitude of RxO abuse in Europe, despite increasing public and scientific interest in the issue. The purpose of this study was to use the best-available data to derive comparable estimates of the health care burden of RxO abuse in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom (EU5).

Concepts: European Union, United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, European countries, Spain, NATO, G8


While the last decade has seen a growth of support for harm reduction around the world, the availability and accessibility of quality harm reduction services in prison settings is uneven and continues to be inadequate compared to the progress achieved in the broader community. This article provides a brief overview of harm reduction in prisons in Catalonia (Spain), Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Poland, and Portugal. While each country provides a wide range of harm reduction services in the broader community, the majority fail to provide these same services or the same quality of these services, in prison settings, in clear violation of international human rights law and minimum standards on the treatment of prisoners. Where harm reduction services have been available and easily accessible in prison settings for some time, better health outcomes have been observed, including significantly reduced rates of HIV and HCV incidence. While the provision of harm reduction in each of these countries' prisons varies considerably, certain key themes and lessons can be distilled, including around features of an enabling environment for harm reduction, resource allocation, collection of disaggregated data, and accessibility of services.

Concepts: European Union, United Kingdom, Human rights, Europe, European countries, Spain, Prison, International human rights law


Over time, prevalence changes in individual diabetes risk factors have been observed for Germany and other European countries. We aimed to investigate the temporal change of a summary measure of type 2 diabetes risk in Germany.

Concepts: Epidemiology, European Union, Diabetes mellitus type 2, Europe, Germany, European countries, German language, Kosovo


Despite the increasing availability of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, it is currently unclear how such services are regulated in Europe, due to the lack of EU or national legislation specifically addressing this issue. In this article, we provide an overview of laws that could potentially impact the regulation of DTC genetic testing in 26 European countries, namely Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Emphasis is placed on provisions relating to medical supervision, genetic counselling and informed consent. Our results indicate that currently there is a wide spectrum of laws regarding genetic testing in Europe. There are countries (e.g. France and Germany) which essentially ban DTC genetic testing, while in others (e.g. Luxembourg and Poland) DTC genetic testing may only be restricted by general laws, usually regarding health care services and patients' rights.

Concepts: European Union, Europe, Germany, European countries, German language, NATO, Liberal democracies, European Union member states


This study provides an overview of policies affecting competition amongst hospitals and GPs in five European countries: France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. Drawing on the policies and empirical evidence described in five case studies, we find both similarities and differences in the approaches adopted. Constraints on patients' choices of provider have been relaxed but countries differ in the amount and type of information that is provided in the public domain. Hospitals are increasingly paid via fixed prices per patient to encourage them to compete on quality but prices are set in different ways across countries. They can be collectively negotiated, determined by the political process, negotiated between insurers and providers or centrally determined by provider costs. Competition amongst GPs varies across countries and is limited in some cases by shortages of providers or restrictions on entry. There are varied and innovative examples of selective contracting for patients with chronic conditions aimed at reducing fragmentation of care. Competition authorities do generally have jurisdiction over mergers of private hospitals but assessing the potential impact of mergers on quality remains a key challenge. Overall, this study highlights a rich diversity of approaches towards competition policy in healthcare.

Concepts: European Union, Patient, Hospital, Competition, Difference, Europe, European countries, Competition law


EUSOBI and 30 national breast radiology bodies support mammography for population-based screening, demonstrated to reduce breast cancer (BC) mortality and treatment impact. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the reduction in mortality is 40 % for women aged 50-69 years taking up the invitation while the probability of false-positive needle biopsy is <1 % per round and overdiagnosis is only 1-10 % for a 20-year screening. Mortality reduction was also observed for the age groups 40-49 years and 70-74 years, although with "limited evidence". Thus, we firstly recommend biennial screening mammography for average-risk women aged 50-69 years; extension up to 73 or 75 years, biennially, is a second priority, from 40-45 to 49 years, annually, a third priority. Screening with thermography or other optical tools as alternatives to mammography is discouraged. Preference should be given to population screening programmes on a territorial basis, with double reading. Adoption of digital mammography (not film-screen or phosphor-plate computer radiography) is a priority, which also improves sensitivity in dense breasts. Radiologists qualified as screening readers should be involved in programmes. Digital breast tomosynthesis is also set to become "routine mammography" in the screening setting in the next future. Dedicated pathways for high-risk women offering breast MRI according to national or international guidelines and recommendations are encouraged.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, European Union, Europe, Breast, European countries, Mammography, NATO


We study to what degree and how homophily and network properties affect individual citation counts of researchers in the sociology departments of three East European countries, namely Poland, Romania, and Slovenia. We built first-order personal coauthorship networks out of the Web of Science publication records. Each sociologist is assigned as a focal node or ego, while her coauthors are alters. We analyze the data using structural measurements methods, hierarchical regression models, and we make visualizations based on the clustered graph technique. For all three populations, our results indicate that the mean score of the citations of alters substantially predicts the citation counts of egos. In particular, citation similarity increases the chances for coauthorship ties. Evidence for the impact of network properties on the citation levels of egos is mixed. For Poland, normalized ego-betweenness shows a negative effect on citation counts, while network density displays a positive one. For Romania and Slovenia, network characteristics have only a minor impact. Even if the visual summarization of the personal networks uncovers a wide palette of coauthorship patterns, homophily appears to be pervasive. These results are relevant for domestic policy makers who aim to improve the aggregated research performance in East European countries.

Concepts: European Union, Sociology, Europe, European countries, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Social network, Communism