Highlights of the BMC series: July 2019

Lights out, lets dance! • Supporting access to healthcare for refugees • WhatsApp in medical education • Fishing for iodine • Image of the month

BMC Sports ScienceMedicine and Rehabiliation – Lights out, let’s dance! An investigation into participation in No Lights, No Lycra and its association with health and wellbeing

Dancing is a performing art form whereby participants move their body in time to a rhythm (usually music). It is a physical activity that has been associated with improving fitness and physical wellbeing. An activity often enjoyed in childhood, it often falls away as we get older and relatively few people participate once they reach adulthood.

No lights, no lycra (NLNL) is a global dance community that allows participants to indulge in free form dancing in the dark, providing a non-judgmental, inclusive and drug and alcohol free environment. It’s an activity that has gained popularity.

With this in mind, Foley et al have recently looked into the sort of people who participate in this activity. They collected information on their demographic characteristics, physical activity levels, motivations for doing the activity and what impact NLNL has had on their health and well-being.

This investigation was performed via a self-report online survey where each participant was asked to describe their experiences and motivations. This revealed that NLNL mostly attracts adult women who, by and large, are not particularly fit and have not historically engaged in much organised physical activity before.

This illustrates how an organised physical activity can be modified to appeal to a population that would not have otherwise been interested and highlights the need to understand how such modifications can motivate and maintain the engagement of people who would typically be inactive.


BMC Health Services ResearchSupporting access to healthcare for refugees and migrants in European countries under particular migratory pressure

In 2015, countries in the European Union (EU) experienced an influx of over a million refugees and migrants; the so-called refugee crisis.

This resulted in an increase in migratory pressures; providing care for the most vulnerable groups created some significant challenges. In essence, refugees and migrants frequently found themselves with no effective healthcare. As a response to this, a study was performed by Chiarenza and colleagues to inform the development of a “resource package”, aiming to improve such access. This involved conducting interviews and focus groups in order to collect up-to-date information on the challenges different healthcare provides faced in relation to the refugee crisis, as well as a literature review on barriers to healthcare access and possible solutions.

Researchers found that the barriers faced by refugees and migrants were due to challenges related to whether they had just arrived to a EU country, were in transit or whether they have reached their final destination. These challenges created, for example, legislative, financial and administrative barriers to healthcare, lack of reliable information on the health status of individuals, lack of knowledge of entitlements and what help was available, and lack of organization and co-ordination between different services. These issues were particularly acute when trying to access mental health, sexual health, child services or victim of violence care services.

The findings suggest that working with solutions developed to deal with emergencies often create a system that is both chaotic and fragmented, distracting from the need to develop changes in the EU health system to prevent vulnerable people from accessing healthcare.


BMC Medical EducationThe role of WhatsApp® in medical education; a scoping review and instructional design model

Information technology (IT) has changed many aspects of how we communicate. This, in turn, has had a considerable impact on education, providing the means, for example, to access a wide range of multimedia learning resources. There are questions however surrounding whether there is enough evidence supporting the benefits of using IT tools for medical education and, in particular, whether the advance of learning in medical education is driven more by social behavior and cheap technology than improvement in outcomes.

Coleman and O’Conner recently performed a scoping review of a popular messaging and voice over IP service, WhatsApp, the aim of which being to see how it is used and evaluated as a tool in medical education. They performed two searches of the published literature, using the term “WhatsApp” as the search term. They discovered that WhatsApp was being used in implementing one of three different strategies – namely educational use with a pre-defined curriculum, educational use without a curriculum, or a primarily non-educational use.

There were some reports of an improvement in the learners knowledge after using WhatsApp as a learning tool, but there was little evidence for any learning theory being used. Coleman and O’Conner have taken the three strategies for WhatsApp use and developed their own model that draws on the Dabbagh and Bannan-Ritland’s exploration-enactment-evaluation learning design framework for online education, from which they propose their own instant messenger design model for medical education.


BMC ZoologyFishing for iodine: what aquatic foraging by bonobos tells us about human evolution

Brain development, in particular the expansion of brain tissue and development of advanced cognitive skills are characteristic of human evolution. It has been linked to nutrients that promote such development, including iodine. Rich sources of this critical nutrient can be found primarily in coastal areas. This thus raises the question of how early hominins in continental areas could have met their iodine requirements.

One way to try and answer this question is to study how hominoid primates today are able to source these nutrients.

Bonobos are only found in the central region of the Congo basin, an area considered to be somewhat iodine deficient.

Hohmann and colleagues measured the mineral content of the fruit, terrestrial and aquatic herbs in the area, which showed that it was the aquatic herbs that contained most iodine and, importantly, two species in particular had iodine concentrations almost equivalent to that found in marine algae. This challenges the assumption that the Congo basin is iodine deficient and shows that it offers natural sources of the nutrient in concentrations high enough to prevent iodine deficiency in hominoids and humans.


BMC Oral HealthImage of the month

This month’s image is taken from an article in BMC Oral Health on the use of augmented reality for dental implantology. It the view of the surgeon during the surgery while wearing Hololens glasses.

Figure 3, Pellegrino et al. BMC Oral Health (2019) 19:158, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12903-019-0853-y


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