Sunday, March 29, 2015

Feeding lettuce to the birds, and an Egyptian goose

Tried today to feed Hillsborough Park's geese, ducks and coots with lettuce, and some grass.  They were underwhelmed, it has to be said.   One Canada goose came up to us, hissed at the coots that were near it, and when they went away, ignored the lettuce we had put on the path.   Some of the coots did peck at it a bit, but did not look as keen as they do when you have bread.

What was happening?   Was it the rain?   Are they so used to bread that they only want bread?  Were they already full?  Was there something about the lettuce?

More research needed, I think.  

Meanwhile, here is one of the recently arrived Egyptian geese:  

Just under a fortnight ago, I was walking through the park when a pair of these circled two or three times, and then landed, one on the water, and one on the shore.  Then, one of them flew across the lake to the shore where I was standing.

They have been there each day I have looked since, sometimes two, sometimes, like today, one.  

According to the RSPB, the Egyptian goose, revered in Ancient Egypt, is more often seen in Norfolk, although it is known elsewhere.   The excellent ARKive has more worldwide information.   The GB Non Native Species Secretariat website has a document that explains how this goose was introduced into England in the 17th century and became a popular choice for private estates in the 19th, in the south and east of England, from where it has been spreading.  A very attractive bird, but it is an offence to introduce it (this does not stop it introducing itself, I imagine!).   The Sheffield Bird Study Group has been recording sightings of 1 or 2 in Hillsborough Park, including one there today.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Drinking after an accident, not drinking causing an accident.

Having fallen from my bike in September and sustained a head injury, and being keen on exploring the output of small Sheffield breweries (in moderation), I had a personal reason for looking into this, but it turns out to be quite an interesting exercise in literature searching.

I am talking about Medline.  First of all, "alcohol" as a search term leads you to the MeSH term Alcohols/, which is the chemical.  There is no mention in the scope note of any alternatives, but the definition does make you think it is the chemical.  "Drinking" leads you to Alcohol Drinking/, which looks better.  The scope note tells you this is an old term (first used in 1969) and previously material was put under Alcoholic Beverages/.  This term still exists, with narrower terms Absinthe/, Beer/ and Wine/ available.

If you use PubMed and type in alcohol, then you'll be mapped to Alcohols/ and not Alcohol Drinking/ or Alcoholic Beverages/.

The MeSH term Craniocerebral Trauma/, if exploded, covers skull fracture, head injuries (closed or penetrating) and brain injury.  The search term "head injury" will map to it.

So, exp Craniocerebral Trauma/ and (Alcohol Drinking/ or exp Alcoholic Beverages/) looks promising.  Note that if you explode Alcohol Drinking, you include Binge Drinking/, which you might not want, as it might lead to literature about excessive drinking as a contributory factor in head injury.

But even so, a lot of the results are about role of alcohol in causing brain injury.  Some, like this (the link sends me to ScienceDirect and a paywall, but many older issues are available for free on the journal's own site), seem to indicate that giving up drinking after a head injury is a good idea, as it aids recovery of the brain, but the article starts by mentioning that two thirds of people with  "TBI" (traumatic brain injury) have a history of heavy drinking, and half of people with TBI were injured while drunk.

Back to the personal side.   I was advised at the head injury rehabilitation clinic not to drink, but I do not have a history of heavy drinking, and I had not been drinking at the time of my incident.  The article quoted above (1) mentions that the brain is more sensitive to the effects of alcohol after injury. 

So, what evidence is there that not drinking after a head injury, regardless of your drinking patterns beforehand, is a good idea?   And is it possible to disentangle this evidence from material about changing drinking habits of people who perhaps drank too much before their injury, or material about drinking causing the injury?

I have no answer yet - perhaps reviewing all the results and excluding those you do not want is the only way - but I have been experimenting with:

Subheadings - Craniocerebral trauma/rh or de, or brain/de;

((alcohol or drink*) adj2 after adj2 (head or brain))

Or adj3.

Using and instead of the adjfinds thousands, but limiting to title only (for all terms) finds tens.  Some of those are about rats, others about excessive alcohol use, but some look potentially useful.  At least one seems to suggest (from a reading of the abstract) that the reverse is true - higher blood alcohol concentration is linked with improved survival (2)!


(1) Bombardier CH. Alcohol use after traumatic brain injury. Arch Phys Med Rehab 2013; 94: 2040-1.
(2) Berry C, Ley EJ, Margulies DR, Mirocha J, Bukur M, Malinoski D, Salim A. Correlating the blood alcohol concentration the outcome after traumatic brain injury: too much is not a bad thing.   Am Surg 2011;77(10):1416-9.

Translating search strategies

Not sure if I borrowed this term, or invented it, but I mean modifying a search strategy for use in another database.   For example, if you have a Medline strategy, what do you need to change to make it work in, say, PsycINFO or Embase?  Other databases might have different features or functionality.

There are two areas where translation is necessary, once you have finalised your strategy.  I have assumed in what follows that you have a Medline strategy, and want to translate it for use in other databases.

One area is search syntax (proximity operators, truncation, and so on), and the other is subject headings.

For example:

Proximity operators.   In Ovid Medline (and Embase), adj finds your two terms adjacent to each other, so:

heart adj disease 

finds heart disease.

More usefully, perhaps, adjn finds your two terms within n words of each other, in either order.  So:

heart adj2 disease

finds heart disease, disease of the heart.

heart adj2 disease* 

finds those, and also diseases of the heart.

In PsycINFO via Ebsco, adjn is Nn.  In Web of Science and the Cochrane Library (via the Wiley interface) it is NEAR/n.

Truncation and wildcards.  In many databases truncation is done with *, including Ovid Medline (and Embase, although Ovid will also accept $).  So, disease* finds disease, diseases, diseas* finds those and diseased.  In many databases, you can use ? and # in the middle of words to stand for one character, or for one character or a space, respectively.  So:

wom?n finds woman, women
p#ediatrics finds paediatrics, pediatrics

You would need to check in your database that * is the truncation symbol, and if you can use wildcards like ?, #.

Phrase searching.   Ovid assumes that two adjacent words are a phrase, but NHS databases, Cochrane, Web of Science and PsycINFO via Ebsco do not and you need to mark phrases "like this", in speech marks/double quotes.

Subject headings.  Your Medline search will (or should!) include MeSH terms.  But your next database might not have MeSH.  Cochrane does use MeSH (but not in all databases), and you need to use the Search Manager to be able to browse headings.  Web of Science has no thesaurus, and PsycINFO and Cinahl have their own.  

In PsycINFO or Cinahl, identify the term that is used for the concept you are searching, by entering the MeSH term or another keyword and exploring the thesaurus.    

Cinahl's thesaurus is, I think, based on MeSH, but the term might differ, or it might be possible to explode it in Medline but not in Cinahl (Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, is an example).

PsycInfo will have more detailed terms for psychological concepts, but possibly less detailed for other things.  For example, there is only one subject heading for Diabetes, which includes Type 1 and Type 2.   

Embase's thesaurus goes into more detail with regard to things like drug delivery route, and may have different terms for a concept.  For example, type 2 diabetes in Medline is indexed under Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, and in Embase under non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.

In a database without a thesaurus, I would ensure I have searched for the MeSH term as free text.  

Finally, I have learned that having a Medline strategy where MeSH and freetext are on separate lines makes translation easier.