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Concept: Randomness


Background Whether arthroscopic partial meniscectomy for symptomatic patients with a meniscal tear and knee osteoarthritis results in better functional outcomes than nonoperative therapy is uncertain. Methods We conducted a multicenter, randomized, controlled trial involving symptomatic patients 45 years of age or older with a meniscal tear and evidence of mild-to-moderate osteoarthritis on imaging. We randomly assigned 351 patients to surgery and postoperative physical therapy or to a standardized physical-therapy regimen (with the option to cross over to surgery at the discretion of the patient and surgeon). The patients were evaluated at 6 and 12 months. The primary outcome was the difference between the groups with respect to the change in the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) physical-function score (ranging from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more severe symptoms) 6 months after randomization. Results In the intention-to-treat analysis, the mean improvement in the WOMAC score after 6 months was 20.9 points (95% confidence interval [CI], 17.9 to 23.9) in the surgical group and 18.5 (95% CI, 15.6 to 21.5) in the physical-therapy group (mean difference, 2.4 points; 95% CI, -1.8 to 6.5). At 6 months, 51 active participants in the study who were assigned to physical therapy alone (30%) had undergone surgery, and 9 patients assigned to surgery (6%) had not undergone surgery. The results at 12 months were similar to those at 6 months. The frequency of adverse events did not differ significantly between the groups. Conclusions In the intention-to-treat analysis, we did not find significant differences between the study groups in functional improvement 6 months after randomization; however, 30% of the patients who were assigned to physical therapy alone underwent surgery within 6 months. (Funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; METEOR number, NCT00597012 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Hospital, Randomized controlled trial, Surgery, Physician, Randomness, Arthritis, Randomization


To identify what features of online social networks can increase physical activity, we conducted a 4-arm randomized controlled trial in 2014 in Philadelphia, PA. Students (n = 790, mean age = 25.2) at an university were randomly assigned to one of four conditions composed of either supportive or competitive relationships and either with individual or team incentives for attending exercise classes. The social comparison condition placed participants into 6-person competitive networks with individual incentives. The social support condition placed participants into 6-person teams with team incentives. The combined condition with both supportive and competitive relationships placed participants into 6-person teams, where participants could compare their team’s performance to 5 other teams' performances. The control condition only allowed participants to attend classes with individual incentives. Rewards were based on the total number of classes attended by an individual, or the average number of classes attended by the members of a team. The outcome was the number of classes that participants attended. Data were analyzed using multilevel models in 2014. The mean attendance numbers per week were 35.7, 38.5, 20.3, and 16.8 in the social comparison, the combined, the control, and the social support conditions. Attendance numbers were 90% higher in the social comparison and the combined conditions (mean = 1.9, SE = 0.2) in contrast to the two conditions without comparison (mean = 1.0, SE = 0.2) (p = 0.003). Social comparison was more effective for increasing physical activity than social support and its effects did not depend on individual or team incentives.

Concepts: Comparison, Randomized controlled trial, Arithmetic mean, Average, Randomness, Control, Grammatical number, The A-Team


Background Which, medication, if any, to use to prevent the headache of pediatric migraine has not been established. Methods We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of amitriptyline (1 mg per kilogram of body weight per day), topiramate (2 mg per kilogram per day), and placebo in children and adolescents 8 to 17 years of age with migraine. Patients were randomly assigned in a 2:2:1 ratio to receive one of the medications or placebo. The primary outcome was a relative reduction of 50% or more in the number of headache days in the comparison of the 28-day baseline period with the last 28 days of a 24-week trial. Secondary outcomes were headache-related disability, headache days, number of trial completers, and serious adverse events that emerged during treatment. Results A total of 361 patients underwent randomization, and 328 were included in the primary efficacy analysis (132 in the amitriptyline group, 130 in the topiramate group, and 66 in the placebo group). The trial was concluded early for futility after a planned interim analysis. There were no significant between-group differences in the primary outcome, which occurred in 52% of the patients in the amitriptyline group, 55% of those in the topiramate group, and 61% of those in the placebo group (amitriptyline vs. placebo, P=0.26; topiramate vs. placebo, P=0.48; amitriptyline vs. topiramate, P=0.49). There were also no significant between-group differences in headache-related disability, headache days, or the percentage of patients who completed the 24-week treatment period. Patients who received amitriptyline or topiramate had higher rates of several adverse events than those receiving placebo, including fatigue (30% vs. 14%) and dry mouth (25% vs. 12%) in the amitriptyline group and paresthesia (31% vs. 8%) and weight loss (8% vs. 0%) in the topiramate group. Three patients in the amitriptyline group had serious adverse events of altered mood, and one patient in the topiramate group had a suicide attempt. Conclusions There were no significant differences in reduction in headache frequency or headache-related disability in childhood and adolescent migraine with amitriptyline, topiramate, or placebo over a period of 24 weeks. The active drugs were associated with higher rates of adverse events. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health; CHAMP number, NCT01581281 ).

Concepts: Medicine, Clinical trial, Mass, Migraine, Placebo, Randomness, Randomization, Amitriptyline


Background Stroke is common during the first few weeks after a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or minor ischemic stroke. Combination therapy with clopidogrel and aspirin may provide greater protection against subsequent stroke than aspirin alone. Methods In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted at 114 centers in China, we randomly assigned 5170 patients within 24 hours after the onset of minor ischemic stroke or high-risk TIA to combination therapy with clopidogrel and aspirin (clopidogrel at an initial dose of 300 mg, followed by 75 mg per day for 90 days, plus aspirin at a dose of 75 mg per day for the first 21 days) or to placebo plus aspirin (75 mg per day for 90 days). All participants received open-label aspirin at a clinician-determined dose of 75 to 300 mg on day 1. The primary outcome was stroke (ischemic or hemorrhagic) during 90 days of follow-up in an intention-to-treat analysis. Treatment differences were assessed with the use of a Cox proportional-hazards model, with study center as a random effect. Results Stroke occurred in 8.2% of patients in the clopidogrel-aspirin group, as compared with 11.7% of those in the aspirin group (hazard ratio, 0.68; 95% confidence interval, 0.57 to 0.81; P<0.001). Moderate or severe hemorrhage occurred in seven patients (0.3%) in the clopidogrel-aspirin group and in eight (0.3%) in the aspirin group (P=0.73); the rate of hemorrhagic stroke was 0.3% in each group. Conclusions Among patients with TIA or minor stroke who can be treated within 24 hours after the onset of symptoms, the combination of clopidogrel and aspirin is superior to aspirin alone for reducing the risk of stroke in the first 90 days and does not increase the risk of hemorrhage. (Funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China; CHANCE number, NCT00979589 .).

Concepts: Blood, Stroke, Transient ischemic attack, People's Republic of China, Subarachnoid hemorrhage, Aspirin, Randomness, People's Republic


In a random number generation task, participants are asked to generate a random sequence of numbers, most typically the digits 1 to 9. Such number sequences are not mathematically random, and both extent and type of bias allow one to characterize the brain’s “internal random number generator”. We assume that certain patterns and their variations will frequently occur in humanly generated random number sequences. Thus, we introduce a pattern-based analysis of random number sequences. Twenty healthy subjects randomly generated two sequences of 300 numbers each. Sequences were analysed to identify the patterns of numbers predominantly used by the subjects and to calculate the frequency of a specific pattern and its variations within the number sequence. This pattern analysis is based on the Damerau-Levenshtein distance, which counts the number of edit operations that are needed to convert one string into another. We built a model that predicts not only the next item in a humanly generated random number sequence based on the item’s immediate history, but also the deployment of patterns in another sequence generated by the same subject. When a history of seven items was computed, the mean correct prediction rate rose up to 27% (with an individual maximum of 46%, chance performance of 11%). Furthermore, we assumed that when predicting one subject’s sequence, predictions based on statistical information from the same subject should yield a higher success rate than predictions based on statistical information from a different subject. When provided with two sequences from the same subject and one from a different subject, an algorithm identifies the foreign sequence in up to 88% of the cases. In conclusion, the pattern-based analysis using the Levenshtein-Damarau distance is both able to predict humanly generated random number sequences and to identify person-specific information within a humanly generated random number sequence.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mathematics, Prediction, Futurology, Randomness, Randomization, Fibonacci number, Hardware random number generator


Highly parallel SNP genotyping platforms have been developed for some important crop species, but these platforms typically carry a high cost per sample for first-time or small-scale users. In contrast, recently developed genotyping by sequencing (GBS) approaches offer a highly cost effective alternative for simultaneous SNP discovery and genotyping. In the present investigation, we have explored the use of GBS in soybean. In addition to developing a novel analysis pipeline to call SNPs and indels from the resulting sequence reads, we have devised a modified library preparation protocol to alter the degree of complexity reduction. We used a set of eight diverse soybean genotypes to conduct a pilot scale test of the protocol and pipeline. Using ApeKI for GBS library preparation and sequencing on an Illumina GAIIx machine, we obtained 5.5 M reads and these were processed using our pipeline. A total of 10,120 high quality SNPs were obtained and the distribution of these SNPs mirrored closely the distribution of gene-rich regions in the soybean genome. A total of 39.5% of the SNPs were present in genic regions and 52.5% of these were located in the coding sequence. Validation of over 400 genotypes at a set of randomly selected SNPs using Sanger sequencing showed a 98% success rate. We then explored the use of selective primers to achieve a greater complexity reduction during GBS library preparation. The number of SNP calls could be increased by almost 40% and their depth of coverage was more than doubled, thus opening the door to an increase in the throughput and a significant decrease in the per sample cost. The approach to obtain high quality SNPs developed here will be helpful for marker assisted genomics as well as assessment of available genetic resources for effective utilisation in a wide number of species.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Molecular biology, Biotechnology, Sequence, Randomness, Genotyping


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate effects of a multifactorial fall prevention program on fall incidence and physical function in community-dwelling older people. DESIGN: Multi-center randomized controlled clinical trial SETTING: Three medical centers and adjacent community health centers in Taiwan. PARTICIPANTS: Community-dwelling elderly who had fallen in the previous year or with risk of fall INTERVENTIONS: After baseline assessment, eligible subjects were randomly allocated into the intervention group (IG) or control group (CG) stratified by Physiological Profile Assessment (PPA) fall-risk level. IG received a 3-month multifactorial intervention program including 8-week exercise training, health education, home hazards evaluation/ modification, along with medication review and ophthalmology/other specialty consult. CG got health education brochures, referrals and recommendations without direct exercise intervention. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcome was fall incidence within 1-year. Secondary outcomes were PPA battery (overall fall-risk index, vision, muscular strength, reaction time, balance and proprioception), timed up-and-go (TUG), Taiwanese-International Physical Activity Questionnaire, EuroQoL-5D, Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), and Fall Efficacy Scale at 3 month after randomization. RESULTS: There were 616 participants with 76±7 years, including low risk 25.6%, moderate risk 25.6% and marked risk 48.7%. The cumulative 1-year fall incidence was 25.2% in IG and 27.6% in CG (HR=0.90, 95% CI 0.66-1.23). IG improved more favorably than CG on overall PPA fall-risk index, reaction time, postural sway with eyes open, TUG, and GDS, especially for those with marked fall-risk. CONCLUSIONS: The multifaceted fall prevention program with exercise intervention improved functional performance at 3-months for community-dwelling elders with risk of fall, but did not reduce falls over 1-year follow-up. Fall incidence might have been decreased simultaneously in both groups by heightened awareness engendered during assessments, education, referrals, and recommendations.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial, Physical exercise, Old age, Strength training, Randomness, Geriatrics


BACKGROUND: A remote sensing technique was developed which combines a Geographic Information System (GIS); Google Earth, and Microsoft Excel to identify home locations for a random sample of households in rural Haiti. The method was used to select homes for ethnographic and water quality research in a region of rural Haiti located within 9 km of a local hospital and source of health education in Deschapelles, Haiti. The technique does not require access to governmental records or ground based surveys to collect household location data and can be performed in a rapid, cost effective manner. METHODS: The random selection of households and the location of these households during field surveys were accomplished using GIS, Google Earth, Microsoft Excel, and handheld Garmin GPSmap 76CSx GPS units. Homes were identified and mapped in Google Earth, exported to ArcMap 10.0, and a random list of homes was generated using Microsoft Excel which was then loaded onto handheld GPS units for field location. The development and use of a remote sensing method was essential to the selection and location of random households. RESULTS: A total of 537 homes initially were mapped and a randomized subset of 96 was identified as potential survey locations. Over 96% of the homes mapped using Google Earth imagery were correctly identified as occupied dwellings. Only 3.6% of the occupants of mapped homes visited declined to be interviewed. 16.4% of the homes visited were not occupied at the time of the visit due to work away from the home or market days. A total of 55 households were located using this method during the 10 days of fieldwork in May and June of 2012. CONCLUSIONS: The method used to generate and field locate random homes for surveys and water sampling was an effective means of selecting random households in a rural environment lacking geolocation infrastructure. The success rate for locating households using a handheld GPS was excellent and only rarely was local knowledge required to identify and locate households. This method provides an important technique that can be applied to other developing countries where a randomized study design is needed but infrastructure is lacking to implement more traditional participant selection methods.

Concepts: Geographic information system, Randomness, Map, Global Positioning System, Remote sensing, Surveying, Geodesy, Google Earth


We aimed to compare the effect of 12-week feeding of commercially available infant formulas with different percentages of palmitic acid at sn-2 (beta-palmitate) on anthropometric measures and bone strength of term infants. It was hypothesized that feeding infants with high beta-palmitate (HBP) formula will enhance their bone speed of sound (SOS). Eighty-three infants appropriate for gestational age participated in the study; of these, 58 were formula-fed and 25 breast-fed infants, serving as a reference group. The formula-fed infants were randomly assigned to receive HBP formula (43 % of the palmitic acid is esterified to the middle position of the glycerol backbone, study group; n = 30) or regular formula with low-beta palmitate (LBP, 14 % of the palmitic acid is esterified to the middle position of the glycerol backbone, n = 28). Sixty-six infants completed the 12-week study. Anthropometric and quantitative ultrasound measurements of bone SOS for assessment of bone strength were performed at randomization and at 6 and 12 weeks postnatal age. At randomization, gestational age, birth weight, and bone SOS were comparable between the three groups. At 12 weeks postnatal age, the mean bone SOS of the HBP group was significantly higher than that of the LBP group (2,896 ± 133 vs. 2,825 ± 79 m/s respectively, P = 0.049) and comparable with that of the breast-fed group (2,875 ± 85 m/s). We concluded that infants consuming HBP formula had changes in bone SOS that were comparable to those of infants consuming breast milk and favorable compared to infants consuming LBP formula.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Fetus, Obstetrics, Milk, Randomness, Palmitic acid, Palmitate


BACKGROUND:We compared the subjective quality of pulmonary auscultation between 2 acoustic stethoscopes (Holtex Ideal® and Littmann Cardiology III®) and an electronic stethoscope (Littmann 3200®) in the operating room.METHODS:A prospective double-blind randomized study with an evaluation during mechanical ventilation was performed in 100 patients. After each examination, the listeners using a numeric scale (0-10) rated the quality of auscultation. Auscultation quality was compared in patients among stethoscopes with a multilevel mixed-effects linear regression with random intercept (operator effect), adjusted on significant factors in univariate analysis. A significant difference was defined as P < 0.05.RESULTS:One hundred comparative evaluations of pulmonary auscultation were performed. The quality of auscultation was rated 8.2 ± 1.6 for the electronic stethoscope, 7.4 ± 1.8 for the Littmann Cardiology III, and 4.6 ± 1.8 for the Holtex Ideal. Compared with Holtex Ideal, auscultation quality was significantly higher with other stethoscopes (P < 0.0001). Compared with Littmann Cardiology III, auscultation quality was significantly higher with Littmann 3200 electronic stethoscope (β = 0.9 [95% confidence interval, 0.5-1.3]).CONCLUSIONS:An electronic stethoscope can provide a better quality of pulmonary auscultation than acoustic stethoscopes in the operating room, yet with a magnitude of improvement marginally higher than that provided with a high performance acoustic stethoscope. Whether this can translate into a clinically relevant benefit requires further studies.

Concepts: Medicine, Evaluation, Randomness, Statistical inference, Heart sounds, Auscultation, Stethoscope, David Littmann