Alexis St George

University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Publications (9)40.37 Total impact

  • [show abstract] [hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: While governments and academic institutions urge researchers to engage with news media, traditional academic values of public disengagement have inhibited many from giving high priority to media activity. In this interview-based study, the authors report on the views about news media engagement and strategies used by 36 peer-voted leading Australian public health researchers in 6 fields. The authors consider their views about the role and importance of media in influencing policy, their reflections on effective or ineffective media communicators, and strategies used by these researchers about how to best retain their credibility and influence while engaging with the news media. A willingness and capacity to engage with the mass media was seen as an essential attribute of influential public health researchers.
    Journal of Health Communication 10/2013; · 1.61 Impact Factor
  • Simon Chapman, Alexis St George
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    ABSTRACT: Objective : In recent years, claims have proliferated in cyberspace that wind turbines cause a large variety of symptoms and diseases. One of these, "vibroacoustic disease" (VAD) is frequently mentioned. The aim of this study is to examine the quality of the evidence on how VAD came to be associated with wind turbine exposure by wind farm opponents. Methods: Searches of the web (Google advanced) and major research databases for papers on VAD and wind turbines. Self-citation analysis of research papers on VAD. Results: Google returned 24,700 hits for VAD and wind turbines. Thirty-five research papers on VAD were found, none reporting any association between VAD and wind turbines. Of the 35 papers, 34 had a first author from a single Portuguese research group. Seventy-four per cent of citations to these papers were self-citations by the group. Median self-citation rates in science are around 7%. Two unpublished case reports presented at conferences were found asserting that VAD was "irrefutably demonstrated" to be caused by wind turbines. The quality of these reports was abject. Conclusions: VAD has received virtually no scientific recognition beyond the group who coined and promoted the concept. There is no evidence of even rudimentary quality that vibroacoustic disease is associated with or caused by wind turbines. Implications: The claim that wind turbines cause VAD is a factoid that has gone 'viral' in cyberspace and may be contributing to nocebo effects among those living near turbines.
    Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 06/2013; 37(3):244-9. · 1.64 Impact Factor
  • Adrian Bauman, Alexis St George
    Nature Reviews Endocrinology 02/2013; · 11.03 Impact Factor
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    Simon Chapman, Alexis St George, Karen Waller, Vince Cakic
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    ABSTRACT: With often florid allegations about health problems arising from wind turbine exposure now widespread, nocebo effects potentially confound any future investigation of turbine health impact. Historical audits of health complaints are therefore important. We test 4 hypotheses relevant to psychogenic explanations of the variable timing and distribution of health and noise complaints about wind farms in Australia. All Australian wind farms (51 with 1634 turbines) operating 1993-2012. Records of complaints about noise or health from residents living near 51 Australian wind farms were obtained from all wind farm companies, and corroborated with complaints in submissions to 3 government public enquiries and news media records and court affidavits. These are expressed as proportions of estimated populations residing within 5 km of wind farms. There are large historical and geographical variations in wind farm complaints. 33/51 (64.7%) of Australian wind farms including 18/34 (52.9%) with turbine size >1 MW have never been subject to noise or health complaints. These 33 farms have an estimated 21,633 residents within 5 km and have operated complaint-free for a cumulative 267 years. Western Australia and Tasmania have seen no complaints. 129 individuals across Australia (1 in 254 residents) appear to have ever complained, with 94 (73%) being residents near 6 wind farms targeted by anti wind farm groups. The large majority 116/129(90%) of complainants made their first complaint after 2009 when anti wind farm groups began to add health concerns to their wider opposition. In the preceding years, health or noise complaints were rare despite large and small-turbine wind farms having operated for many years. The reported historical and geographical variations in complaints are consistent with psychogenic hypotheses that expressed health problems are "communicated diseases" with nocebo effects likely to play an important role in the aetiology of complaints.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e76584. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    Lauren Waters, Alexis St George, Tien Chey, Adrian Bauman
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Unanticipated control group improvements have been observed in intervention trials targeting various health behaviours. This phenomenon has not been studied in the context of behavioural weight loss intervention trials. The purpose of this study is to conduct a systematic review and meta-regression of behavioural weight loss interventions to quantify control group weight change, and relate the size of this effect to specific trial and sample characteristics. METHODS: Database searches identified reports of intervention trials meeting the inclusion criteria. Data on control group weight change and possible explanatory factors were abstracted and analysed descriptively and quantitatively. RESULTS: 85 trials were reviewed and 72 were included in the meta-regression. While there was no change in control group weight, control groups receiving usual care lost 1 kg more than control groups that received no intervention, beyond measurement. CONCLUSIONS: There are several possible explanations why control group changes occur in intervention trials targeting other behaviours, but not for weight loss. Control group participation may prevent weight gain, although more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis.
    BMC Medical Research Methodology 08/2012; 12(1):120. · 2.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Type 2 diabetes is a major contributor to disease burden globally. A number of systematic reviews support the efficacy of lifestyle interventions in preventing Type 2 diabetes in adults; however, relatively little attention has been paid to the generalizability of study findings. This study systematically reviews the reporting of external validity components and generalizability of diabetes prevention studies. Lifestyle intervention studies for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes in adults with at least 6 months' follow-up, published between 1990 and 2011, were identified through searches of major electronic databases. External validity reporting was rated using an assessment tool, and all analysis was undertaken in 2011. A total of 31 primary studies (n=95 papers) met the selection criteria. All studies lacked full reporting on external validity elements. Description of the study sample, intervention, delivery agents, and participant attrition rates were reported by most studies. However, few studies reported on the representativeness of individuals and settings, methods for recruiting settings and delivery agents, costs, and how interventions could be institutionalized into routine service delivery. It is uncertain to what extent the findings of diabetes prevention studies apply to men, socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals, those living in rural and remote communities, and to low- and middle-income countries. Reporting of external validity components in diabetes prevention studies needs to be enhanced to improve the evidence base for the translation and dissemination of these programs into policy and practice.
    American journal of preventive medicine 08/2012; 43(2):205-14. · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Building evidence-based health promotion programs involves a number of steps. This paper aims to develop a set of criteria for assessing the evidence available according to a five-stage evidence-building framework, and apply these criteria to current child obesity prevention programs in NSW to determine the usefulness of the framework in identifying gaps in evidence and opportunities for future research and evaluation. A set of scoring criteria were developed for application within the five stages of an 'evidence-building' framework: problem definition, solution generation, intervention testing (efficacy), intervention replication, and dissemination research. The research evidence surrounding the 10 childhood obesity prevention programs planned for state-wide implementation in the New South Wales Healthy Children Initiative (HCI) was identified and examined using these criteria within the framework. The evidence for the component programs of the HCI is at different stages of development. While problem definition and, to a lesser extent, solution generation was thoroughly addressed across all programs, there were a number of evidence gaps, indicating research opportunities for efficacy testing and intervention replication across a variety of settings and populations. The five-stage evidence-building framework helped identify important research and evaluation opportunities that could improve health promotion practice in NSW. More work is needed to determine the validity and reliability of the criteria for rating the extent and quality of the evidence for each stage.
    Health promotion journal of Australia: official journal of Australian Association of Health Promotion Professionals 04/2012; 23(1):16-24. · 0.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, characterized by elevated liver enzymes, central obesity, and insulin resistance, is becoming increasingly prevalent. The effects of changes in physical activity on the metabolic profile of this group have not been reported. We assessed at 3 months the impact of a behavior change-based lifestyle intervention on physical activity and the effects of this change on the metabolic profile of people with fatty liver disease. In all, 141 participants with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease were prospectively enrolled into either a low- or moderate-intensity lifestyle intervention or to a control group. Physical activity was assessed using a validated reporting tool and physical fitness was measured using the YMCA protocol on a cycle ergometer. Individualized counseling to increase physical activity was provided. Overall, 96% of participants attended the 3-month follow-up assessment. Participants in the moderate- and low-intensity intervention groups were 9 times more likely to increase physical activity by an hour or more per week compared to controls. Patients increasing or maintaining their reported physical activity to > or =150 minutes/week, and those who increased their objective levels of fitness, had the greatest improvements in liver enzymes and other metabolic indices compared to those who were least active. This effect was independent of weight loss and was corroborated by an objective measure of fitness. There was no dose-response effect on liver enzymes with incremental increases in physical activity above 60 minutes/week. Conclusion: Lifestyle counseling interventions are effective in improving physical activity behavior. Maintaining or increasing physical activity provides health benefits for patients with fatty liver, independent of changes in weight.
    Hepatology 04/2009; 50(1):68-76. · 12.00 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease associated with insulin resistance is the most common cause of abnormal liver tests in clinical practice. To date, practical and effective strategies to improve the metabolic profile of this large group of patients have not been well characterised. We sought to assess the effect at 3 months of a behavior change-based lifestyle intervention on the metabolic profile of patients characterised by elevated liver enzymes. A total of 152 patients with elevated liver enzymes, central obesity and a range of metabolic risk factors were randomised to either a moderate- (6 sessions/10 weeks) or low-intensity (3 sessions/4 weeks) lifestyle counselling intervention or control group. There was improvement in all metabolic risk factors in the moderate-intensity group, versus a smaller number of changes in the low-intensity intervention group and no change in any metabolic risk factors in control subjects. Reduction in liver enzymes was greatest in the moderate-intensity intervention group and least in the control group. The likelihood of elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in both the moderate and low-intensity groups was reduced by over 70% compared to controls. The proportion of subjects achieving weight loss (>or= 2%) was significantly higher in the moderate-intensity intervention group (66%) versus the low-intensity intervention group (39%; P < 0.05) and controls (29%; P < 0.001). Moderate and even low-intensity lifestyle counselling interventions targeting improvement in physical activity and nutritional behaviors and modest weight loss are a practical and effective method for improving the health of patients with elevated liver enzymes and a range of metabolic risk factors.
    Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 01/2009; 24(3):399-407. · 3.33 Impact Factor