Special Issue "Current Trends in Health and Disease"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Women's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Aya Mousa
Website
Guest Editor
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Clayton VIC 3800, Australia
Interests: women’s health; pregnancy; reproductive medicine; type 2 diabetes; gestational diabetes; metformin; vitamin D; nutrition; clinical trials

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Health is a dynamic and evolving concept, influenced by changes in communities and populations and the physical and political environments in which they live. Understanding the current health climate and upcoming healthcare trends can help stakeholders to stay abreast of important changes and be prepared for the future needs of both the population and the healthcare workforce. Current funding models are not sustainable, and the increased expenditure required to meet the rising health demands of an aging population are important issues confronting health systems worldwide. Moreover, workforce issues including gender disparities in health leadership have become pertinent issues in the current healthcare landscape. There is also increased recognition of women’s health issues more broadly, with research focusing on improving women’s health across the lifespan, particularly during the preconception and reproductive stages.

Today, the disease landscape has shifted from infectious to chronic diseases, and the impact of nutrition, lifestyle, and environmental factors on health has become more important than ever. Fortunately, advances in scientific technologies including mass spectrometry and omics techniques have enabled scientists to explore complex chronic disease pathways such as the gut microbiome and lipid metabolism in order to understand and mitigate these diseases. With all these changes afoot, a better understanding of current trends in health and disease can enable appropriate planning to tackle the impending challenges facing global health care systems.

This Special Issue seeks research papers on current trends in health and disease, including women’s health, the changing health workforce, health system funding models, and novel explorations of disease pathways, including the role of nutrition, metabolism, and inflammation. Especially, we encourage the submission of interdisciplinary work and collaborative inter-institutional research. We also encourage the submission of health systems and health policy-related manuscripts that focus on current health challenges and their remediation. We welcome original research papers using different study designs as well as systematic reviews and meta-analyses, protocol or methodology papers, and narrative reviews.

Dr. Aya Mousa
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Healthcare trends
  • Women’s health
  • Chronic disease
  • Gender disparities
  • Health workforce
  • Funding models

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
A Meta-Regression Analysis of Utility Weights for Breast Cancer: The Power of Patients’ Experience
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9412; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249412 - 15 Dec 2020
Abstract
To summarize utility estimates of breast cancer and to assess the relative impacts of study characteristics on predicting breast cancer utilities. We searched Medline, Embase, RISS, and KoreaMed from January 1996 to April 2019 to find literature reporting utilities for breast cancer. Thirty-five [...] Read more.
To summarize utility estimates of breast cancer and to assess the relative impacts of study characteristics on predicting breast cancer utilities. We searched Medline, Embase, RISS, and KoreaMed from January 1996 to April 2019 to find literature reporting utilities for breast cancer. Thirty-five articles were identified, reporting 224 utilities. A hierarchical linear model was used to conduct a meta-regression that included disease stages, assessment methods, respondent type, age of the respondents, and scale bounds as explanatory variables. The utility for early and late-stage breast cancer, as estimated by using the time-tradeoff with the scales anchored by death to perfect health with non-patients, were 0.742 and 0.525, respectively. The severity of breast cancer, assessment method, and respondent type were significant predictors of utilities, but the age of the respondents and bounds of the scale were not. Patients who experienced the health states valued 0.142 higher than did non-patients (p < 0.001). Besides the disease stage, the respondent type had the highest impact on breast cancer utility. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Antenatal Exercises, Including Yoga, on the Course of Labor, Delivery and Pregnancy: A Retrospective Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(15), 5274; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17155274 - 22 Jul 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Delivering a child is a very stressful experience for women. Pregnancy and labor entail complex events that are unique to each individual female. The management of labor pain is often done using analgesics and anesthesia, which have been shown to have [...] Read more.
Background: Delivering a child is a very stressful experience for women. Pregnancy and labor entail complex events that are unique to each individual female. The management of labor pain is often done using analgesics and anesthesia, which have been shown to have some side effects. More comprehensive data are needed to provide clinically significant evidence for clinicians to confidently prescribe exercises to patients. This study was done to evaluate the effect of antenatal exercises, including yoga, on the course of labor, delivery, and pregnancy outcomes. Methods: A retrospective study was conducted among 200 primiparous subjects (aged 20–40). A questionnaire was provided to the subjects to obtain their demographic and obstetrical information 6 weeks after delivery, and their hospital records were also assessed for further details. Based on the nature and details obtained for the antenatal exercises, subjects were divided into two groups: control and exercise. Outcome measures included the need for labor induction, self-perceived pain and perceived exertion during labor, duration and nature of the delivery, newborn infant weight, maternal weight gain, history of back pain, and post-partum recovery. The total maternal weight gain (in kilograms) was calculated from weight at 6 weeks after delivery minus the weight at 12–14 weeks of gestation. Back pain during pregnancy and self-perceived labor pain were measured using a visual analog scale (VAS). The overall perceived exertion during labor was measured using an adapted Borg scale for perceived effort. Results: The subjects who followed regular antenatal exercises, including yoga, had significantly lower rates of cesarean section, lower weight gain, higher newborn infant weight, lower pain and overall discomfort during labor, lower back pain throughout pregnancy, and earlier post-partum recovery compared to those who did no specific exercises or only walked during pregnancy. Conclusions: This retrospective study showed that regular antenatal exercises, including yoga, result in better outcomes related to the course of labor, delivery, and pregnancy. These results notably indicated that pregnant women should be active throughout pregnancy and follow a supervised exercise program that includes yoga unless contraindicated. We require further large-scale prospective studies and quasi-experimental trials to confirm the observed findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
Open AccessArticle
“You Do It without Their Knowledge.” Assessing Knowledge and Perception of Stealthing among College Students
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3527; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103527 - 18 May 2020
Abstract
In recent years, the act of nonconsensual condom removal, termed stealthing, has become commonly discussed on social and print media; yet, little to no evidence exists on the current knowledge and perception of stealthing among young adults. As such, we assessed what college [...] Read more.
In recent years, the act of nonconsensual condom removal, termed stealthing, has become commonly discussed on social and print media; yet, little to no evidence exists on the current knowledge and perception of stealthing among young adults. As such, we assessed what college students know and feel regarding stealthing. We employed an exploratory mixed-method analysis where focus groups were followed by a quantitative survey. A qualitative assessment was conducted using grounded theory analyses and questions for a quantitative survey were developed based on emergent themes from focus groups. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive and bivariate analyses with alpha less than 0.05 to denote significance. Though limited knowledge exists, participants felt that stealthing was a violation of their privacy, trust, sexual consent, and their ability to make a health decision, and should be considered an assault. Participants noted stealthing may have become acceptable due to its popularity in social media and young adult culture, especially porn. We also found sex differences in the perception of stealthing being considered a sexual assault with lower rates among males as compared to females. Our results demonstrate that there is a need for health educators to assess the prevalence of such a behavior among college students and policy makers to assess the legal implications of nonconsensual condom removal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
Open AccessArticle
Anxiety, Prenatal Attachment, and Depressive Symptoms in Women with Diabetes in Pregnancy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 425; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17020425 - 08 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between anxiety, prenatal attachment, and depressive symptoms among women with diabetes in pregnancy. Participants were 131 consecutive pregnant women between the ages of 20 and 45 with a diagnosis of gestational or pregestational [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between anxiety, prenatal attachment, and depressive symptoms among women with diabetes in pregnancy. Participants were 131 consecutive pregnant women between the ages of 20 and 45 with a diagnosis of gestational or pregestational type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Data on previous psychiatric symptoms were obtained from the Anamnestic and Social Questionnaire and the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI). Information on prenatal attachment was collected using The Prenatal Attachment Inventory (PAI), and The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) assessed depressive symptoms in the third trimester of pregnancy (at a mean of 25 weeks). Results demonstrated that in women affected by diabetes in pregnancy, two facets of prenatal attachment (anticipation, interaction) were negatively correlated with depressive symptoms, and a history of anxiety, assessed with the MINI, moderated the relation between the prenatal attachment interaction factor and depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessArticle
Lifestyle and Psychological Factors Associated with Pregnancy Intentions: Findings from a Longitudinal Cohort Study of Australian Women
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 5094; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16245094 - 13 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Preconception is a critical time for the establishment of healthy lifestyle behaviours and psychological well-being to reduce adverse maternal and offspring outcomes. This study aimed to explore relationships between preconception lifestyle and psychological factors and prospectively assessed short- (currently trying to conceive) [...] Read more.
Background: Preconception is a critical time for the establishment of healthy lifestyle behaviours and psychological well-being to reduce adverse maternal and offspring outcomes. This study aimed to explore relationships between preconception lifestyle and psychological factors and prospectively assessed short- (currently trying to conceive) and long-term (future parenthood aspirations) pregnancy intentions. Methods: Data from Wave 3 (age 25–30 years; n = 7656) and Wave 5 (age 31–36 years; n = 4735) from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health were used. Pregnancy intentions and parenthood aspirations were evaluated. Logistic regressions explored cross-sectional associations between demographic, lifestyle and psychological factors and pregnancy intentions/parenthood aspirations. Results: In multivariable models, parity and marital status were associated consistently with pregnancy intentions and parenthood aspirations. Few lifestyle behaviours and no psychological factors were associated with pregnancy intentions. Alcohol intake was the only behaviour associated with aspirations to have a first child. Aspirations for a second/subsequent child were associated negatively with physical activity, sitting time, diet quality, lower anxiety and higher stress. Conclusions: It appears that women are not changing their behaviours when they form a decision to try to conceive. Interventions are needed that address women’s preconception needs, to optimise lifestyle and improve health outcomes for women and their families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)

Review

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Open AccessReview
The Gut Microbiota and Inflammation: An Overview
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7618; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207618 - 19 Oct 2020
Abstract
The gut microbiota encompasses a diverse community of bacteria that carry out various functions influencing the overall health of the host. These comprise nutrient metabolism, immune system regulation and natural defence against infection. The presence of certain bacteria is associated with inflammatory molecules [...] Read more.
The gut microbiota encompasses a diverse community of bacteria that carry out various functions influencing the overall health of the host. These comprise nutrient metabolism, immune system regulation and natural defence against infection. The presence of certain bacteria is associated with inflammatory molecules that may bring about inflammation in various body tissues. Inflammation underlies many chronic multisystem conditions including obesity, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes mellitus and inflammatory bowel disease. Inflammation may be triggered by structural components of the bacteria which can result in a cascade of inflammatory pathways involving interleukins and other cytokines. Similarly, by-products of metabolic processes in bacteria, including some short-chain fatty acids, can play a role in inhibiting inflammatory processes. In this review, we aimed to provide an overview of the relationship between the gut microbiota and inflammatory molecules and to highlight relevant knowledge gaps in this field. Based on the current literature, it appears that as the gut microbiota composition differs between individuals and is contingent on a variety of factors like diet and genetics, some individuals may possess bacteria associated with pro-inflammatory effects whilst others may harbour those with anti-inflammatory effects. Recent technological advancements have allowed for better methods of characterising the gut microbiota. Further research to continually improve our understanding of the inflammatory pathways that interact with bacteria may elucidate reasons behind varying presentations of the same disease and varied responses to the same treatment in different individuals. Furthermore, it can inform clinical practice as anti-inflammatory microbes can be employed in probiotic therapies or used to identify suitable prebiotic therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessReview
Associations of Dietary Bioactive Compounds with Maternal Adiposity and Inflammation in Gestational Diabetes: An Update on Observational and Clinical Studies
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7528; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207528 - 16 Oct 2020
Abstract
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a common complication of pregnancy that adversely affects maternal and offspring health. Maternal obesity, oxidative stress, and inflammation have been implicated in GDM. In non-pregnant adults, intakes of dietary bioactive compounds inversely associate with insulin resistance and inflammation. [...] Read more.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a common complication of pregnancy that adversely affects maternal and offspring health. Maternal obesity, oxidative stress, and inflammation have been implicated in GDM. In non-pregnant adults, intakes of dietary bioactive compounds inversely associate with insulin resistance and inflammation. However, associations of dietary bioactive compounds with biomarkers of adiposity, antioxidant vitamin and mineral status, oxidative stress, and inflammation in GDM have not been fully elucidated. We addressed this gap by conducting a semi-quantitative review of observational studies and randomized controlled trials published between 2010 and 2020 and retrieved from Google Scholar, Medline, and PubMed. Our analysis revealed that women with GDM are more likely to consume a pro-inflammatory diet before pregnancy and tend to consume fewer antioxidant vitamins and minerals during pregnancy than healthy pregnant women. Women with GDM also have lower blood levels of vitamins A, C, and D and certain adipokines. Several dietary bioactive compounds were noted to improve antioxidant status and biomarkers of inflammation. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and soybean oligosaccharides increased antioxidant enzyme levels. Supplementing n-3 fatty acids, probiotics, synbiotics, and trace elements increased antioxidant enzymes and reduced hs-CRP and MDA. Improvements in inflammation by vitamin D may be contingent upon co-supplementation with other dietary bioactive compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessReview
The Unrealised Potential for Predicting Pregnancy Complications in Women with Gestational Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Critical Appraisal
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3048; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093048 - 27 Apr 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Gestational diabetes (GDM) increases the risk of pregnancy complications. However, these risks are not the same for all affected women and may be mediated by inter-related factors including ethnicity, body mass index and gestational weight gain. This study was conducted to identify, compare, [...] Read more.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) increases the risk of pregnancy complications. However, these risks are not the same for all affected women and may be mediated by inter-related factors including ethnicity, body mass index and gestational weight gain. This study was conducted to identify, compare, and critically appraise prognostic prediction models for pregnancy complications in women with gestational diabetes (GDM). A systematic review of prognostic prediction models for pregnancy complications in women with GDM was conducted. Critical appraisal was conducted using the prediction model risk of bias assessment tool (PROBAST). Five prediction modelling studies were identified, from which ten prognostic models primarily intended to predict pregnancy complications related to GDM were developed. While the composition of the pregnancy complications predicted varied, the delivery of a large-for-gestational age neonate was the subject of prediction in four studies, either alone or as a component of a composite outcome. Glycaemic measures and body mass index were selected as predictors in four studies. Model evaluation was limited to internal validation in four studies and not reported in the fifth. Performance was inadequately reported with no useful measures of calibration nor formal evaluation of clinical usefulness. Critical appraisal using PROBAST revealed that all studies were subject to a high risk of bias overall driven by methodologic limitations in statistical analysis. This review demonstrates the potential for prediction models to provide an individualised absolute risk of pregnancy complications for women affected by GDM. However, at present, a lack of external validation and high risk of bias limit clinical application. Future model development and validation should utilise the latest methodological advances in prediction modelling to achieve the evolution required to create a useful clinical tool. Such a tool may enhance clinical decision-making and support a risk-stratified approach to the management of GDM. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42019115223. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
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Open AccessReview
Do Curriculum-Based Social and Emotional Learning Programs in Early Childhood Education and Care Strengthen Teacher Outcomes? A Systematic Literature Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1049; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031049 - 07 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
There is growing awareness of the benefits of curriculum-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in Early Childhood Education and Care settings for children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. While many SEL programs aim to strengthen teachers’ capacity and capability to foster children’s [...] Read more.
There is growing awareness of the benefits of curriculum-based social and emotional learning (SEL) programs in Early Childhood Education and Care settings for children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. While many SEL programs aim to strengthen teachers’ capacity and capability to foster children’s social and emotional skills, research effort has focused on understanding the impact on child outcomes, with less emphasis on improvement in teaching quality. This systematic literature review examined the effectiveness of universal curriculum-based SEL programs on teacher outcomes. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria, capturing ten distinct SEL interventions. The findings suggest SEL programs may strengthen teaching quality, particularly the provision of responsive and nurturing teacher-child interactions and effective classroom management. Data were insufficient to ascertain whether participation improved teachers’ knowledge, self-efficacy, or social-emotional wellbeing. The potential pathways between SEL intervention, teaching quality and children’s developmental outcomes are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
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Other

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Open AccessFeature PaperCommentary
Women in the Workplace: Promoting Healthy Lifestyles and Mitigating Weight Gain during the Preconception, Pregnancy, and Postpartum Periods
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 821; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030821 - 28 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Overweight and obesity before, during, and after pregnancy are associated with adverse outcomes for mothers and their offspring. Workplaces have been identified as important settings for improving health and wellbeing. However, the value of workplace interventions for women across the reproductive life stages [...] Read more.
Overweight and obesity before, during, and after pregnancy are associated with adverse outcomes for mothers and their offspring. Workplaces have been identified as important settings for improving health and wellbeing. However, the value of workplace interventions for women across the reproductive life stages has yet to be realized. This paper aims to explore the potential of workplaces to facilitate healthy lifestyle behaviors, prevent further weight gain, and devise tailored interventions for working women, specifically during the preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods. Workplaces can be used to engage women, including preconception women, who are detached from clinical settings. Potential benefits of workplace health promotion for women and employers include improved employee wellbeing, productivity, and corporate competitiveness. However, workplaces also need to overcome implementation barriers such as activity scheduling and availability. A systems approach may address these barriers. Consequently, designing and implementing workplace health promotion interventions to meet the specific needs of working women of reproductive age will necessitate collaboration with a range of key stakeholders across all stages of intervention design. Given that these women make up a considerable proportion of the workforce, workplaces can help optimize the health status of employees and prevent excess weight gain during the preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
Open AccessProtocol
Integrating Health and Educational Perspectives to Promote Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Learning: Development of a Multi-Faceted Program Using an Intervention Mapping Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17020575 - 16 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
High-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) can strengthen the social and emotional skills that are crucial for children’s ongoing development. With research highlighting an increasing prevalence of emotional and behavioural challenges in young children, there is emphasis on embedding teaching practices and [...] Read more.
High-quality early childhood education and care (ECEC) can strengthen the social and emotional skills that are crucial for children’s ongoing development. With research highlighting an increasing prevalence of emotional and behavioural challenges in young children, there is emphasis on embedding teaching practices and pedagogies to support social and emotional skills within early learning programs. A growing body of research has examined the impact of social and emotional learning programs in ECEC; however, few studies describe the intervention development process, or how educators and other professionals were engaged to increase the relevance and feasibility of the program. The current paper describes the development of the Cheshire Social-Emotional Engagement and Development (SEED) Educational Program, an online learning tool to support early childhood educators to foster children’s positive mental health. Cheshire SEED was designed using five steps of the Intervention Mapping methodology: (i) comprehensive needs assessment to create a logic model of the problem; (ii) creation of program outcomes and change objectives mapped against determinants of educator behaviour; (iii) co-design of theory-based methods and practical strategies; (iv) program development; and (v) adoption and implementation planning. The process and decisions at each step of the IM protocol are presented, and the strengths and limitations of the approach to develop a mental health intervention for ECEC settings are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Current Trends in Health and Disease)
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