What We're Reading: J&J, Apple Trial Partnership; Conscientious Vaccine Exemptions; Suicide Prevention Efforts

March 11, 2020
AJMC Staff

Johnson & Johnson and Apple’s Heartline trial is serving as a model of success for virtual clinical trials; from 2012 to 2018, conscientious vaccine exemption rates rose in Texas schools; a 25% increase in emergency department visits in just 2 years from patient self-harm shows the importance of suicide prevention.

J&J, Apple Join Forces in Heartline Virtual Clinical Trial

The Heartline trial from Johnson & Johnson and Apple hopes to show that the eponymous app and the Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notification and electrocardiogram apps help to reduce stroke risk, according to Forbes. Billed as “the largest randomized trial in the history of cardiovascular disease,” with 4000 patients enrolled since February 25, Heartline is also aiming to show how to increase patient participation in clinical trials, such as for patients with autoimmune diseases for whom travel is difficult. At present, most studies face delays and low, or no, patient enrollment.

Conscientious Vaccine Exemption Rates Jump in Texas Schools

Study results show that conscientious vaccine exemption (CVE) rates increased in public, private, and charter schools in Texas between 2012 and 2018, reports PLoS Medicine. These rates jumped from 2% to 6%, 20% to 26%, and 17% to 22%, respectively. The authors believe these rates have gone up because of a drop in health literacy and a rise in distrust of medical authority. The New York Times reports that medical professionals have even received death threats when posting factual vaccination information. According to the CDC, childhood vaccines prevent up to 20 million cases of diseases each year.

Emergency Visits Increase From Patient Self-harm, Suicidal Thoughts

Two recent reports from the CDC detail the importance of suicide prevention efforts, reports JAMA. Emergency departments saw a more than 25% jump in patient visits because of suicidal thoughts and self-harm, or both, in the past 2 years, while suicide rates have gone up by 40% in working-aged adults in less than 20 years. The authors stress the importance of addressing the risk of suicide at several levels, including in the community and society at large, as well as implementing workplace wellness strategies and providing access to supportive services.