PMCC PMCC

Search tips
Search criteria

Advanced
Results 1-25 (766533)

Clipboard (0)
None

Related Articles

1.  Minimising barriers to dental care in older people 
BMC Oral Health  2008;8:7.
Background
Older people are increasingly retaining their natural teeth but at higher risk of oral disease with resultant impact on their quality of life. Socially deprived people are more at risk of oral disease and yet less likely to take up care. Health organisations in England and Wales are exploring new ways to commission and provide dental care services in general and for vulnerable groups in particular. This study was undertaken to investigate barriers to dental care perceived by older people in socially deprived inner city area where uptake of care was low and identify methods for minimising barriers in older people in support of oral health.
Methods
A qualitative dual-methodological approach, utilising both focus groups and individual interviews, was used in this research. Participants, older people and carers of older people, were recruited using purposive sampling through day centres and community groups in the inner city boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham in South London. A topic guide was utilised to guide qualitative data collection. Informants' views were recorded on tape and in field notes. The data were transcribed and analysed using Framework Methodology.
Results
Thirty-nine older people and/or their carers participated in focus groups. Active barriers to dental care in older people fell into five main categories: cost, fear, availability, accessibility and characteristics of the dentist. Lack of perception of a need for dental care was a common 'passive barrier' amongst denture wearers in particular. The cost of dental treatment, fear of care and perceived availability of dental services emerged to influence significantly dental attendance. Minimising barriers involves three levels of action to be taken: individual actions (such as persistence in finding available care following identification of need), system changes (including reducing costs, improving information, ensuring appropriate timing and location of care, and good patient management) and societal issues (such as reducing isolation and loneliness). Older people appeared to place greater significance on system and societal change than personal action.
Conclusion
Older people living within the community in an inner city area where NHS dental care is available face barriers to dental care. Improving access to care involves actions at individual, societal and system level. The latter includes appropriate management of older people by clinicians, policy change to address NHS charges; consideration of when, where and how dental care is provided; and clear information for older people and their carers on available local dental services, dental charges and care pathways.
doi:10.1186/1472-6831-8-7
PMCID: PMC2335092  PMID: 18366785
2.  Factors influencing the use of public dental services: An application of the Theory of Planned Behaviour 
Background
There is limited evidence of the influence of psychosocial factors and health beliefs on public dental patient's patterns of service use in Australia. The research aims were to examine associations between dental attitudes and beliefs of public dental service users and dental visiting intention and behaviour using the Theory of Planned Behaviour.
Methods
517 randomly selected adult public dental patients completed a questionnaire assessing dental attitudes and beliefs which was matched with electronic records for past and future dental service use. A questionnaire measured intentions, attitudes, subjective norms and perceptions of behavioural control and self-efficacy in relation to visiting public dentists. A measure of dental attendance at public dental clinics was obtained retrospectively (over 3 1/2 years) and prospectively (over a one year period following the return of the questionnaire) by accessing electronic patient clinical records.
Results
Participants had positive attitudes, subjective norms and self-efficacy beliefs towards dental visiting but perceived a lack of control over visiting the dentist. Attitudes, subjective norms, self-efficacy and perceived control were significant predictors of intention (P < 0.05). Intentions, self-efficacy and past dental attendance were significant predictors of actual dental attendance (P < 0.05).
Conclusion
Public dental patients held favourable attitudes and beliefs but perceived a lack of control towards dental visiting. Reducing structural barriers may therefore improve access to public dental services.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-93
PMCID: PMC2390532  PMID: 18445298
3.  Factors affecting utilization of dental health services and satisfaction among adolescent females in Riyadh City 
The Saudi Dental Journal  2009;22(1):19-25.
Objectives
This study was conducted to determine factors affecting utilization of dental health services among intermediate female school students in Riyadh. In addition to assessing their satisfaction with the dental care received during the last dental visit.
Subjects and methods
Self-administered questionnaires were distributed among students attending eight public and four private schools. These schools were selected randomly to represent the four different administrative zones in Riyadh.
Results
Of 600 questionnaires distributed, 531 were complete and suitable for analysis. Nearly three quarters of the students visited the dentist more than once during the last 2 years. A bout 75% had their treatment in private dental clinics and 63% made their visits for routine treatment. The quality of dental care was found to be the most encouraging factor for utilization of dental services, whereas, far geographic location of the dental clinics was the most discouraging factor. For those who received treatment in the government clinics, the most discouraging factor was post operative complications (P < 0.0001), while the most encouraging factor was the availability of friendly staff (P < 0.0001). The high cost of dental care was the most discouraging factor for utilizing the dental services for those who visited private clinics (P < 0.0001), while the high quality of dental care was the most encouraging factor (P < 0.009). Students who made their visits because of pain highly considered modern clinics and those recommended by friends as highly encouraging factors (P < 0.002), while they considered the high cost of dental care as discouraging factor for using dental services (P < 0.038). Students who visited the dentist for routine treatment gave the quality of dental care as encouraging for the use of dental clinics (P < 0.0001). Satisfaction with dental care was found to be significantly associated with high quality of dental care, convenient appointment, friendly staff, modern dental clinics and clinics recommended by friends.
Conclusion
Quality of dental care, reasonable fees for dental services and close location of dental clinics to students’ homes are encouraging factors for utilization of dental services.
doi:10.1016/j.sdentj.2009.12.004
PMCID: PMC3723370  PMID: 23960475
Dental health services; Utilization factors; Patient satisfaction
4.  The denturism initiative 
Public Health Reports  1981;96(5):410-417.
Denturism, an organized movement by dental laboratory technicians to increase their control over the provision of denture services to the public, has generated a great deal of controversy among members of organized dentistry, the National Denturist Association, the Federal Trade Commission, consumer groups, and prepaid dental plans.
Denturism is currently legal in Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Oregon. In the first three States, the denturist must practice under the supervision of a dentist, but in Oregon the denturist is able to enter independent practice.
The American Dental Association has held that a denturist is educationally unqualified to provide denture services directly to the consumer, Representatives of organized dentistry have characterized denturists as untrained and unskilled persons who would endanger the public's health and return one phase of dentistry to the apprentice system. They see denturism as constituting a major step backward in health care delivery and having an adverse effect on preventive dental care.
The National Denturist Association, however, defines a denturist as a highly skilled person who specializes in the making of full and partial dentures. Denturists maintain that the dentist is an unnecessary middleman in the provision of denture services and is the primary cause of the high cost of dental prostheses. They contend that State dental laws providing that only dentists may render denture services have led to the high cost of these services without contributing significantly to the health and safety of the public.
Organized dentistry in the United States has been fighting denturism in a number of ways. One that has met with considerable success has been the establishment of programs to provide people access to dental care, especially denture services, at lower costs. A second alternative under consideration is to license denturists but require them to practice under the supervision of a dentist. A third alternative under discussion is to expand the duties of existing dental auxiliary personnel.
The final decision on denturism, however, will not be made by the dental profession or the denturists, but by the voting public and their elected representatives, based on the evidence they have before them.
PMCID: PMC1424245  PMID: 7291472
5.  Managing resources in NHS dentistry: using health economics to inform commissioning decisions 
Background
The aim of this study is to develop, apply and evaluate an economics-based framework to assist commissioners in their management of finite resources for local dental services. In April 2006, Primary Care Trusts in England were charged with managing finite dental budgets for the first time, yet several independent reports have since criticised the variability in commissioning skills within these organisations. The study will explore the views of stakeholders (dentists, patients and commissioners) regarding priority setting and the criteria used for decision-making and resource allocation. Two inter-related case studies will explore the dental commissioning and resource allocation processes through the application of a pragmatic economics-based framework known as Programme Budgeting and Marginal Analysis.
Methods/Design
The study will adopt an action research approach. Qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews, focus groups, field notes and document analysis will record the views of participants and their involvement in the research process. The first case study will be based within a Primary Care Trust where mixed methods will record the views of dentists, patients and dental commissioners on issues, priorities and processes associated with managing local dental services. A Programme Budgeting and Marginal Analysis framework will be applied to determine the potential value of economic principles to the decision-making process. A further case study will be conducted in a secondary care dental teaching hospital using the same approach. Qualitative data will be analysed using thematic analysis and managed using a framework approach.
Discussion
The recent announcement by government regarding the proposed abolition of Primary Care Trusts may pose challenges for the research team regarding their engagement with the research study. However, whichever commissioning organisations are responsible for resource allocation for dental services in the future; resource scarcity is highly likely to remain an issue. Wider understanding of the complexities of priority setting and resource allocation at local levels are important considerations in the development of dental commissioning processes, national oral health policy and the future new dental contract which is expected to be implemented in April 2014.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-138
PMCID: PMC3123177  PMID: 21627819
6.  Heavy consumption of dental services; a longitudinal cohort study among Finnish adults 
BMC Oral Health  2013;13:18.
Background
A reform to Dental Care legislation in 2002 abolished age limits restricting adults’ use of public dental services in Finland. In the Public Dental Service (PDS) unit of Espoo, the proportion of adult patients rose from 36% to 57%. The aim of this study was to investigate heavy use of dental services by adults and its determinants.
Methods
A longitudinal cohort study was undertaken based on a PDS patient register. Of all adults who attended the PDS in Espoo in 2004, those who had six or more visits (n=3,173) were assigned to the heavy user group and a comparison group of low users (n=22,820) had three or fewer dental visits. A sample of 320 patients was randomly selected from each group. Baseline information (year 2004) on age, sex, number and type of visit, oral health status and treatment provided was collected from treatment records. Each group was followed-up for five years and information on the number and types of visit was recorded for each year from 2005 to 2009.
Results
Most heavy users (61.6%) became low users and only 11.2% remained chronic heavy users. Most low users (91.0%) remained low users. For heavy users, the mean number of dental visits per year (3.0) during the follow-up period was significantly lower than initially in 2004 (8.3) (p<0.001) but 74.8% of heavy users had had emergency visits compared with 21.6% of the low users (p<0.001).
A third (33%) of the visitors in each group had no proper examination and treatment planning during the 5-year follow-up period and two or more examinations were provided to fewer than half of the heavy (46.1%) or low (46.5%) users.
The mean number of treating dentists was 5.7 for heavy users and 3.8 for low users (p<0.001).
Conclusions
Frequent emergency visits were characteristic of heavy users of dental services. Treatment planning was inadequate, probably partly due to the many dentists involved and too many patients requesting care. Better local management and continuous education are needed to ensure good quality adult dental care and to reduce heavy consumption.
doi:10.1186/1472-6831-13-18
PMCID: PMC3659074  PMID: 23617730
Health services research; Dental services; Longitudinal register study; Public dental service; Adult and elderly population; Complicated treatment needs; Heavy users of oral health services
7.  The effects of fee bundling on dental utilization. 
Health Services Research  1999;34(4):901-921.
OBJECTIVE: To examine dental utilization following an adjustment to the provincial fee schedule in which preventive maintenance (recall) services were bundled at lower fees. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: Blue Cross dental insurance claims for claimants associated with four major Ontario employers using a common insurance plan over the period 1987-1990. STUDY DESIGN: This before-and-after design analyzes the dental claims experience over a four-year period for 4,455 individuals 18 years of age and older one year prior to the bundling of services, one year concurrent with the change, and two years after the introduction of bundling. The dependent variable is the annual adjusted payment per user. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: The analysis was based on all claims submitted by adult users for services received at recall visits and who reported at least one visit of this type between 1987 and 1990. In these data, 26,177 services were provided by 1,214 dentists and represent 41 percent of all adult service claims submitted over the four years of observation. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Real per capita payment for adult recall services decreased by 0.3 percent in the year bundling was implemented (1988), but by the end of the study period such payments had increased 4.8 percent relative to pre-bundling levels. Multiple regression analysis assessed the role of patient and provider variables in the upward trend of per capita payments. The following variables were significant in explaining 37 percent of the variation in utilization over the period of observation: subscriber employment location; ever having received periodontal scaling or ever having received restorative services; regular user; dentist's school of graduation; and interactions involving year, service type, and regular user status. CONCLUSIONS: The volume and intensity of services received by adult patients increased when fee constraints were imposed on dentists. Future efforts to contain dental expenditures through fee schedule design will need to take this into consideration. Issues for future dental services research include provider billing practices, utilization among frequent attenders, and outcomes evaluation particularly with regard to periodontal care and replacement of restorations.
PMCID: PMC1089048  PMID: 10536976
8.  The INCENTIVE protocol: an evaluation of the organisation and delivery of NHS dental healthcare to patients—innovation in the commissioning of primary dental care service delivery and organisation in the UK 
BMJ Open  2014;4(9):e005931.
Introduction
In England, in 2006, new dental contracts devolved commissioning of dental services locally to Primary Care Trusts to meet the needs of their local population. The new national General Dental Services contracts (nGDS) were based on payment for Units of Dental Activity (UDAs) awarded in three treatment bands based on complexity of care. Recently, contract currency in UK dentistry is evolving from UDAs based on volume and case complexity towards ‘blended contracts’ that include incentives linked with key performance indicators such as quality and improved health outcome. Overall, evidence of the effectiveness of incentive-driven contracting of health providers is still emerging. The INCENTIVE Study aims to evaluate a blended contract model (incentive-driven) compared to traditional nGDS contracts on dental service delivery in practices in West Yorkshire, England.
Methods and analysis
The INCENTIVE model uses a mixed methods approach to comprehensively evaluate a new incentive-driven model of NHS dental service delivery. The study includes 6 dental surgeries located across three newly commissioned dental practices (blended contract) and three existing traditional practices (nGDS contracts). The newly commissioned practices have been matched to traditional practices by deprivation index, age profile, ethnicity, size of practice and taking on new patients. The study consists of three interlinked work packages: a qualitative study to explore stakeholder perspectives of the new service delivery model; an effectiveness study to assess the INCENTIVE model in reducing the risk of and amount of dental disease and enhance oral health-related quality of life in patients; and an economic study to assess cost-effectiveness of the INCENTIVE model in relation to clinical status and oral health-related quality of life.
Ethics and dissemination
The study has been approved by NRES Committee London, Bromley. The results of this study will be disseminated at national and international conferences and in international journals.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005931
PMCID: PMC4166246  PMID: 25231492
HEALTH ECONOMICS; ORAL MEDICINE; PUBLIC HEALTH; QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
9.  Oral Health Care Reform in Finland – aiming to reduce inequity in care provision 
BMC Oral Health  2008;8:3.
Background
In Finland, dental services are provided by a public (PDS) and a private sector. In the past, children, young adults and special needs groups were entitled to care and treatment from the public dental services (PDS). A major reform in 2001 – 2002 opened the PDS and extended subsidies for private dental services to all adults. It aimed to increase equity by improving adults' access to oral health care and reducing cost barriers. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of the reform on the utilization of publicly funded and private dental services, numbers and distribution of personnel and costs in 2000 and in 2004, before and after the oral health care reform. An evaluation was made of how the health political goals of the reform: integrating oral health care into general health care, improving adults' access to care and lowering cost barriers had been fulfilled during the study period.
Methods
National registers were used as data sources for the study. Use of dental services, personnel resources and costs in 2000 (before the reform) and in 2004 (after the reform) were compared.
Results
In 2000, when access to publicly subsidised dental services was restricted to those born in 1956 or later, every third adult used the PDS or subsidised private services. By 2004, when subsidies had been extended to the whole adult population, this increased to almost every second adult. The PDS reported having seen 118 076 more adult patients in 2004 than in 2000. The private sector had the same number of patients but 542 656 of them had not previously been entitled to partial reimbursement of fees.
The use of both public and subsidised private services increased most in big cities and urban municipalities where access to the PDS had been poor and the number of private practitioners was high. The PDS employed more dentists (6.5%) and the number of private practitioners fell by 6.9%. The total dental care expenditure (PDS plus private) increased by 21% during the study period. Private patients who had previously not been entitled to reimbursements seemed to gain most from the reform.
Conclusion
The results of this study indicate that implementation of a substantial reform, that changes the traditionally defined tasks of the public and private sectors in an established oral health care provision system, proceeds slowly, is expensive and probably requires more stringent steering than was the case in Finland 2001 – 2004. However, the equity and fairness of the oral health care provision system improved and access to services and cost-sharing improved slightly.
doi:10.1186/1472-6831-8-3
PMCID: PMC2268684  PMID: 18226197
10.  Portable Dental Chairs and Their Role in Assisting the Community Outreach Program- a Qualitative Approach 
Objective: Certain conditions limit the independence of deprived people. However, those conditions do not limit the right of these people to receive dental care. Portable dental units may make it possible for the deprived and elderly to receive the care they deserve in more areas. This study aimed to explore dentists’ perceptions of the use of portable dental units in community outreach programs as a precursor to our quantitative study in the future.
Materials and Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted by one interviewer, seven dentists, two specialists, and 11 final-year dental students who had experience with portable dental units in Isfahan, Iran. The qualitative research method was chosen first due to the rarity of information readily available about the units and second due to their specialist application; with which only certain members of the dental community have experience.
Results: Participants described a range of observations they had made whilst using the portable dental units in different locations. The qualitative data were primarily concerned with the range of ideas the interviewers distinguished as relevant when describing the portable dental units. The predominant view most noted within interviews was that the portable units are very useful for the community outreach programs, with two subcategories of serviceability and access to oral health. Other factors mentioned were the competence of the portable dental unit and the factors affecting each individual patient.
Conclusion: Our findings illustrate a number of features that may enhance the reputation of portable dental units, due to their useful nature.
PMCID: PMC4264095  PMID: 25512750
Mobile Health units; Health Services Accessibility; Oral Helth
11.  Effectiveness of Tele-guided Interceptive Prosthodontic treatment in rural India: A comparative pilot study 
Online Journal of Public Health Informatics  2011;3(2):ojphi.v3i2.3800.
Loss of teeth and resultant resorption of the residual ridges is a major oral health problem in India. The resorption leads to irreversible loss of bone volume of the jaws and seriously undermines retention and stability of future dentures. Loss of masticatory efficiency causes nutritional deficiencies and affects quality of life. However, construction of over-dentures (dentures anchored to modified teeth or roots), a sophisticated procedure requiring skills of several dental specialists, can arrest the resorption and provide retentive dentures. Dental specialists in India are, however, concentrated in urban areas leaving the rural populace under-serviced. The aim of our study was to find out whether newly graduated dentists, under remote guidance from specialists, can fabricate over-dentures that are functional and improve the oral health related quality of life.
Two groups of subjects were treated with over-dentures. Group 1 consisted of subjects attending a rural dental health clinic (site1) and group 2 at a university teaching hospital (site 2). Two dental graduates at each site carried out treatments. Operators at site 1 were guided remotely over a telemedicine link, cell phones, and emails while those at site 2 were guided directly. Functional assessment of dentures was carried out at the end of the treatment period to determine the technical quality of dentures. Subjective evaluation was carried out by subjects completing the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-EDENT) questionnaire for edentulous subjects before and after treatment.
No statistically significant difference was seen between the functional assessment scores of dentures from the two sites (p=0.08) at 95% confidence interval. Both groups also experienced significant improvement in all domains of OHIP - EDENT.
Remotely supervised newly graduated general dentists can provide over-dentures of sufficient quality to rural population. This strategy has the potential to improve access to care and elevate the level of dentistry available to rural population when referral to specialists in not feasible. The results of the study provide pointers for dental public health policy makers and administrators in developing nations on how to leverage Information and Communication Technology infrastructure to enhance access to care in rural areas.
doi:10.5210/ojphi.v3i2.3800
PMCID: PMC3615788  PMID: 23569611
General Practice; Dental/methods; Health Services Accessibility; Humans India; Remote consultation; Telemedicine; Denture; Overlay; General Practice; Dental/education*; Quality of life; Prosthodontics
12.  Changes in HIV Incidence among People Who Inject Drugs in Taiwan following Introduction of a Harm Reduction Program: A Study of Two Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001625.
Kenrad Nelson and colleagues report on the association between HIV incidence and exposure to a national harm-reduction program among people who inject drugs in Taiwan.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Harm reduction strategies for combating HIV epidemics among people who inject drugs (PWID) have been implemented in several countries. However, large-scale studies using sensitive measurements of HIV incidence and intervention exposures in defined cohorts are rare. The aim of this study was to determine the association between harm reduction programs and HIV incidence among PWID.
Methods and Findings
The study included two populations. For 3,851 PWID who entered prison between 2004 and 2010 and tested HIV positive upon incarceration, we tested their sera using a BED HIV-1 capture enzyme immunoassay to estimate HIV incidence. Also, we enrolled in a prospective study a cohort of 4,357 individuals who were released from prison via an amnesty on July 16, 2007. We followed them with interviews at intervals of 6–12 mo and by linking several databases. A total of 2,473 participants who were HIV negative in January 2006 had interviews between then and 2010 to evaluate the association between use of harm reduction programs and HIV incidence. We used survival methods with attendance at methadone clinics as a time-varying covariate to measure the association with HIV incidence. We used a Poisson regression model and calculated the HIV incidence rate to evaluate the association between needle/syringe program use and HIV incidence. Among the population of PWID who were imprisoned, the implementation of comprehensive harm reduction programs and a lower mean community HIV viral load were associated with a reduced HIV incidence among PWID. The HIV incidence in this population of PWID decreased from 18.2% in 2005 to 0.3% in 2010. In an individual-level analysis of the amnesty cohort, attendance at methadone clinics was associated with a significantly lower HIV incidence (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.20, 95% CI: 0.06–0.67), and frequent users of needle/syringe program services had lower HIV incidence (0% in high NSP users, 0.5% in non NSP users). In addition, no HIV seroconversions were detected among prison inmates.
Conclusions
Although our data are affected by participation bias, they strongly suggest that comprehensive harm- reduction services and free treatment were associated with reversal of a rapidly emerging epidemic of HIV among PWID.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 35 million people worldwide are currently infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and about 2.3 million people become newly infected every year. HIV is mainly transmitted through unprotected sex with an infected partner. However, people who inject drugs (PWID) have a particularly high risk of HIV infection because blood transfer through needle and syringe sharing can transmit the virus. It is estimated that 5%–10% of all people living with HIV are PWID. Indeed, in some regions of the world the primary route of HIV transmission is through shared drug injection equipment and the prevalence (the proportion of a population that has a specific disease) of HIV infection among PWID is very high. In Asia, for example, more than a quarter of PWID are HIV positive. Because the high prevalence of HIV among PWID poses a global health challenge, bodies such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS endorse harm reduction strategies to prevent risky injection behaviors among PWID. These strategies include the provision of clean needles and syringes, opioid substitution therapy such as methadone maintenance treatment, and antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive PWID.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although harm reduction strategies for combating HIV epidemics among PWID have been implemented in several countries, few large-scale studies have examined the association between HIV incidence (the proportion of new cases of HIV in a population per year) and exposure to harm reduction programs among PWID. In this cohort study (an investigation that determines the characteristics of a group of people and then follows them over time), the researchers determine the association between harm reduction programs and HIV incidence among PWID in Taiwan. HIV infections used to be rare among the 60,000 PWID living in Taiwan, but after the introduction of a new HIV strain into the country in 2003, an HIV epidemic spread rapidly. In response, the Taiwanese government introduced a pilot program of harm reduction that included the provision of clean needles and syringes and health education in July 2005. The program was expanded to include methadone maintenance treatment in early 2006 and implemented nationwide in June 2006.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled two study populations. The first cohort comprised 3,851 PWID who were incarcerated for illicit drug use between 2004 and 2010 and who tested positive for HIV upon admission into prison. By using the BED assay, which indicates whether an HIV infection is recent, the researchers were able to determine the HIV incidence among the prisoners. In 2004, the estimated HIV incidence among prisoners with a history of drug injection was 6.44%. The incidence peaked in 2005 at 18.2%, but fell to 0.3% in 2010.
The second study population comprised 2,473 individuals who were HIV negative on January 1, 2006, and who had been incarcerated for drug use crimes but were released on July 16, 2007, during an amnesty. The researchers regularly interviewed these participants between their release and 2010 about their use of harm reduction interventions, and obtained other data about them (for example, diagnosis of HIV infection) from official databases. Analysis of all these data indicated that, in this cohort, attendance at methadone maintenance treatment clinics and frequent use of needle and syringe services were both associated with a significantly lower HIV incidence.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the introduction of a comprehensive harm reduction program in Taiwan was associated with a significant reduction in the HIV incidence rate among PWID. These findings must be interpreted with caution, however. First, because the participants in the study were selected from PWID with histories of incarceration, the findings may not be representative of all PWID in Taiwan or of PWID in other countries. Second, PWID who chose to use needle and syringe services or methadone maintenance treatment clinics might have shared other unknown characteristics that affected their risk of HIV infection. Finally, some of the reduction in HIV incidence seen during the study is likely to be associated with the availability of free treatment, which has been offered to all HIV-positive individuals in Taiwan since 1997. Despite these limitations, these findings suggest that countries with a high prevalence and incidence of HIV among PWID should provide comprehensive harm reduction services to their populations to reduce risky drug injection behaviors.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001625.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on injecting drug users and HIV/AIDS and on harm reduction and HIV prevention (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse also provides information about drug abuse and HIV/AIDS (in English and Spanish)
The 2013 UNAIDS World AIDS Day report provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert, Nam/aidsmap, and Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001625
PMCID: PMC3979649  PMID: 24714449
13.  Configuring Balanced Scorecards for Measuring Health System Performance: Evidence from 5 Years' Evaluation in Afghanistan 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(7):e1001066.
Anbrasi Edward and colleagues report the results of a balanced scorecard performance system used to examine 29 key performance indicators over a 5-year period in Afghanistan, between 2004 and 2008.
Background
In 2004, Afghanistan pioneered a balanced scorecard (BSC) performance system to manage the delivery of primary health care services. This study examines the trends of 29 key performance indicators over a 5-year period between 2004 and 2008.
Methods and Findings
Independent evaluations of performance in six domains were conducted annually through 5,500 patient observations and exit interviews and 1,500 provider interviews in >600 facilities selected by stratified random sampling in each province. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) models were used to assess trends in BSC parameters. There was a progressive improvement in the national median scores scaled from 0–100 between 2004 and 2008 in all six domains: patient and community satisfaction of services (65.3–84.5, p<0.0001); provider satisfaction (65.4–79.2, p<0.01); capacity for service provision (47.4–76.4, p<0.0001); quality of services (40.5–67.4, p<0.0001); and overall vision for pro-poor and pro-female health services (52.0–52.6). The financial domain also showed improvement until 2007 (84.4–95.7, p<0.01), after which user fees were eliminated. By 2008, all provinces achieved the upper benchmark of national median set in 2004.
Conclusions
The BSC has been successfully employed to assess and improve health service capacity and service delivery using performance benchmarking during the 5-year period. However, scorecard reconfigurations are needed to integrate effectiveness and efficiency measures and accommodate changes in health systems policy and strategy architecture to ensure its continued relevance and effectiveness as a comprehensive health system performance measure. The process of BSC design and implementation can serve as a valuable prototype for health policy planners managing performance in similar health care contexts.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Traditionally, the performance of a health system (the complete network of health care agencies, facilities, and providers in a defined geographical region) has been measured in terms of health outcomes: how many people have been treated, how many got better, and how many died. But, nowadays, with increased demand for improved governance and accountability, policy makers are seeking comprehensive performance measures that show in detail how innovations designed to strengthen health systems are affecting service delivery and health outcomes. One such performance measure is the “balanced scorecard,” an integrated management and measurement tool that enables organizations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. The balanced scorecard—essentially a list of key performance indicators and performance benchmarks in several domains—was originally developed for industry but is now becoming a popular strategic management tool in the health sector. For example, balanced scorecards have been successfully integrated into the Dutch and Italian public health care systems.
Why Was This Study Done?
Little is known about the use of balanced scorecards in the national public health care systems of developing countries but the introduction of performance management into health system reform in fragile states in particular (developing countries where the state fails to perform the fundamental functions necessary to meet its citizens' basic needs and expectations) could help to promote governance and leadership, and facilitate essential policy changes. One fragile state that has introduced the balanced scorecard system for public health care management is Afghanistan, which emerged from decades of conflict in 2002 with some of the world's worst health indicators. To deal with an extremely high burden of disease, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) designed a Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS), which is delivered by nongovernmental organizations and MOPH agencies. In 2004, the MOPH introduced the National Health Service Performance Assessment (NHSPA), an annual country-wide assessment of service provision and patient satisfaction and pioneered a balanced scorecard, which uses data collected in the NHSPA, to manage the delivery of primary health care services. In this study, the researchers examine the trends between 2004 and 2008 of the 29 key performance indicators in six domains included in this balanced scorecard, and consider the potential and limitations of the scorecard as a management tool to measure and improve health service delivery in Afghanistan and other similar countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Each year of the study, a random sample of 25 facilities (district hospitals and comprehensive and basic health centers) in 28 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces was chosen (one province did not have functional facilities in 2004 and the other five missing provinces were inaccessible because of ongoing conflicts). NHSPA surveyors collected approximately 5,000 patient observations, 5,000 exit interviews with patients or their caregivers, and 1,500 health provider interviews by observing consultations involving five children under 5 years old and five patients over 5 years old in each facility. The researchers then used this information to evaluate the key performance indicators in the balanced scorecard and a statistical method called generalized estimating equation modeling to assess trends in these indicators. They report that there was a progressive improvement in national average scores in all six domains (patients and community satisfaction with services, provider satisfaction, capacity for service provision, quality of services, overall vision for pro-poor and pro-female health services, and financial systems) between 2004 and 2008.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the balanced scorecard was successfully used to improve health system capacity and service delivery through performance benchmarking over the 5-year study period. Importantly, the use of the balanced scorecard helped to show the effects of investments, facilitate policy change, and create a more evidence-based decision-making culture in Afghanistan's primary health care system. However, the researchers warn that the continuing success of the balanced scorecard in Afghanistan will depend on its ability to accommodate changes in health systems policy. Furthermore, reconfigurations of the scorecard are needed to include measures of the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the health system such as mortality rates. More generally, the researchers conclude that the balanced scorecard offers a promising measure of health system performance that could be used to examine the effectiveness of health care strategies and innovations in other fragile and developing countries.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001066.
A 2010 article entitled An Afghan Success Story: The Balanced Scorecard and Improved Health Services in The Globe, a newsletter produced by the Department of International Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provides a detailed description of the balanced scorecard used in this study
Wikipedia has a page on health systems and on balanced scorecards (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The World Health Organization country profile of Afghanistan provides information on the country's health system and burden of disease (in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001066
PMCID: PMC3144209  PMID: 21814499
14.  HIV/AIDS-related attitudes and oral impacts on daily performances: a cross-sectional study of Sudanese adult dental patients 
Background
Few studies have investigated the relationships between HIV-related knowledge, fear of contagion in dental environments and Oral Impacts on Daily Performance (OIDP) among dental patients. Our objectives were to investigate the associations between HIV-related knowledge and fear of contagion in dental environments and OIDP among dental patients, and to evaluate whether those associations were modified by the frequency of dental service attendance.
Methods
A total of 1262 patients (mean age 30.7 years, 56.5% females) were recruited from the Khartoum Dental Teaching Hospital and the University of Science and Technology during March–July 2008. The participants underwent a full-mouth oral clinical examination and completed an interview in a face-to-face setting.
Results
Of the study participants, 41.4% had visited a dentist at least twice during the last 2 years, 96.2% had caries experience (DT > 0) and 79.1% reported oral impacts (OIDP > 0). The most frequently reported oral impacts were problems eating, sleeping and cleaning teeth. In total, 26.3% of the participants had HIV transmission knowledge, 75.6% knew people with HIV/AIDS and 58.7% perceived a high risk of cross-infection in dental environments. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, frequency of dental service attendance and caries experience, patients who had high HIV-related information exposure, a positive attitude toward people with HIV/AIDS and a high perceived risk of cross-infection were more likely to report oral impacts, whereas patients who knew people with HIV/AIDS were less likely to report oral impacts. The association between OIDP and HIV transmission knowledge was modified by frequency of dental service attendance.
Conclusions
Dental patients who were informed about HIV and had a high HIV/AIDS risk perception were more likely to report impaired oral health-related quality of life than their less informed counterparts and those who perceived a low risk of contagion. The effect of HIV transmission knowledge on oral impacts was influenced by frequency of dental service attendance.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-335
PMCID: PMC3765642  PMID: 23971974
HIV; AIDS; Attitudes; Oral impacts on daily performance; Dental; Sudan
15.  Utilization of dental care: An Indian outlook 
Oral health has a significant impact on the quality of life, appearance, and self-esteem of the people. Preventive dental visits help in the early detection and treatment of oral diseases. Dental care utilization can be defined as the percentage of the population who access dental services over a specified period of time. There are reports that dental patients only visit the dentist when in pain and never bother to return for follow-up in most cases. To improve oral health outcomes an adequate knowledge of the way the individuals use health services and the factors predictive of this behavior is essential. The interest in developing models explaining the utilization of dental services has increased; issues like dental anxiety, price, income, the distance a person had to travel to get care, and preference for preservation of teeth are treated as barriers in regular dental care. Published materials which pertain to the use of dental services by Indian population have been reviewed and analyzed in depth in the present study. Dental surgeons and dental health workers have to play an adequate role in facilitating public enlightenment that people may appreciate the need for regular dental care and make adequate and proper use of the available dental care facilities.
doi:10.4103/0976-9668.116972
PMCID: PMC3783767  PMID: 24082719
Access; awareness; dental care; India; utilization
16.  Protocol for diagnostic test accuracy study: the efficacy of screening for common dental diseases by Dental Care Professionals 
BMC Oral Health  2013;13:45.
Background
The bulk of service delivery in dentistry is delivered by general dental practitioners, when a large proportion of patients who attend regularly are asymptomatic and do not require treatment. This represents a substantial and unnecessary cost, given that it is possible to delegate a range of tasks to dental care professionals, who are a less expensive resource. Screening for the common dental diseases by dental care professionals has the potential to release general dental practitioner’s time and increase the capacity to care for those who don't currently access services. The aim of this study is to compare the diagnostic test accuracy of dental care professionals when screening for dental caries and periodontal disease in asymptomatic adults aged eighteen years of age.
Methods/design
Ten dental practices across the North-West of England will take part in a diagnostic test accuracy study with 200 consecutive patients in each practice. The dental care professionals will act as the index test and the general dental practitioner will act as the reference test. Consenting asymptomatic patients will enter the study and see either the dental care professionals or general dental practitioner first to remove order effects. Both sets of clinicians will make an assessment of dental caries and periodontal disease and enter their decisions on a record sheet for each participant. The primary outcome measure is the diagnostic test accuracy of the dental care professionals and sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive values will be reported. A number of clinical factors will be assessed for confounding.
Discussion
The results of this study will determine whether dental care professionals can screen for the two most prevalent oral diseases. This will inform the literature and is apposite given the recent policy change in the United Kingdom towards direct access.
doi:10.1186/1472-6831-13-45
PMCID: PMC3849956  PMID: 24053760
Screening; Diagnostic test accuracy; Dental care professional; Sensitivity and specificity
17.  Safety and effectiveness of nurse telephone consultation in out of hours primary care: randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7165):1054-1059.
Objective To determine the safety and effectiveness of nurse telephone consultation in out of hours primary care by investigating adverse events and the management of calls.
Design Block randomised controlled trial over a year of 156 matched pairs of days and weekends in 26 blocks. One of each matched pair was randomised to receive the intervention.
Setting One 55 member general practice cooperative serving 97 000 registered patients in Wiltshire.
Subjects All patients contacting the out of hours service or about whom contact was made during specified times over the trial year.
Intervention A nurse telephone consultation service integrated within a general practice cooperative. The out of hours period was 615 pm to 1115 pm from Monday to Friday, 1100 am to 1115 pm on Saturday, and 800 am to 1115 pm on Sunday. Experienced and specially trained nurses received, assessed, and managed calls from patients or their carers. Management options included telephone advice; referral to the general practitioner on duty (for telephone advice, an appointment at a primary care centre, or a home visit); referral to the emergency service or advice to attend accident and emergency. Calls were managed with the help of decision support software.
Main outcome measures Deaths within seven days of a contact with the out of hours service; emergency hospital admissions within 24 hours and within three days of contact; attendance at accident and emergency within three days of a contact; number and management of calls in each arm of the trial.
Results 14 492 calls were received during the specified times in the trial year (7308 in the control arm and 7184 in the intervention arm) concerning 10 134 patients (10.4% of the registered population). There were no substantial differences in the age and sex of patients in the intervention and control groups, though male patients were underrepresented overall. Reasons for calling the service were consistent with previous studies. Nurses managed 49.8% of calls during intervention periods without referral to a general practitioner. A 69% reduction in telephone advice from a general practitioner, together with a 38% reduction in patient attendance at primary care centres and a 23% reduction in home visits was observed during intervention periods. Statistical equivalence was observed in the number of deaths within seven days, in the number of emergency hospital admissions, and in the number of attendances at accident and emergency departments.
Conclusions Nurse telephone consultation produced substantial changes in call management, reducing overall workload of general practitioners by 50% while allowing callers faster access to health information and advice. It was not associated with an increase in the number of adverse events. This model of out of hours primary care is safe and effective.
Key messagesTelephone consultation is becoming an increasingly accepted approach to patient care and improves public access to medical information and adviceThis study found that nurse telephone consultation halved the number of cases dealt with by general practitioners and was at least as safe as existing out of hours servicesNurse telephone consultation not only replaced telephone advice given by a doctor but led to reductions in both home visits and surgery attendances out of hoursFurther testing is required of variants to the system used in this trial, including the selection and training of nurses and the decision support software usedThere are clear opportunities for and potential benefits from integrating existing out of hours services with NHS Direct
PMCID: PMC28690  PMID: 9774295
18.  The Commission strategy for supporting the quality of social services of general interest across the European Union 
Introduction
The announcement of the Commission strategy for supporting the quality of social services of general interest (SSGI) across the European Union in the Communication on “services of general interest, including social services of general interest: a new European commitment”.
The reasons for a quality framework
First, when dealing with a variety of providers, public authorities need to clearly define the services they are delegating and thus the quality they expect. Second, societal challenges and changing needs have a direct impact on the demand for SSGI, which has increased and has become more sophisticated. Enhancing SSGI quality and efficiency is essential in order to address this increasingly more sophisticated and evolving demand for SSGI and to foster the ability of users to make informed choices. Third, a consistent part of SSGI addresses the (multiple) needs of vulnerable users. A EU Quality framework will enhance their ability to make informed choices, thereby strengthening equitable access to SSGI. Fourth, the expanding and more complex demand for SSGI raises the need for sufficient and well-trained human resources. Finally, in the EU context, the debate on SSGI quality and efficiency acquires a special value also because of the cross-border dimension of SSGI provision.
The Commission strategy—three complementary actions
(1) Financing via the PROGRESS programme bottom-up initiatives aimed at developing mechanisms for the definition, measurement, assessment and improvement of SSGI quality. These initiatives, which have started at the end of 2008, cover a variety of SSGI, such as long-term care services to elderly people, services for the integration of migrants, services to people with disabilities, services to homeless people and childcare services. (2) Financing public authorities training programs, which will notably focus on how to guarantee the delivery of quality services when applying public procurement rules and state aid rules for the selection and the financing of SSGI providers. (3) Supporting the development, within the Social Protection Committee, of a voluntary quality framework for SSGI. This will provide a tool that public authorities and other relevant stakeholders can refer to in order to define, measure and assess SSGI quality and therefore to promote high-quality SSGI.
PMCID: PMC2707532
Social Services of General Interest; European Commission; long-term care services; elderly; disabilities; quality
19.  A New Approach to Ensuring Oral Health Care for People Living With HIV/AIDS: The Dental Case Manager 
Introduction
The American Dental Association has identified several barriers to adequate dental care for vulnerable populations, including appropriate case management. The objective of this study was to examine the perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs of dental patients living with HIV/AIDS on the role and value of the dental case manager (DCM) and the effect of DCM services on their oral or overall health.
Methods
We used a qualitative descriptive study design and focus groups. Twenty-five people who had received DCM services on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, attended 1 of 5 focus groups in 2009 and 2010. Digital recordings of the groups were transcribed verbatim. Textual data were categorized using directed qualitative content analysis techniques. We identified major themes and representative quotes.
Results
The following themes emerged from discussions on the DCM’s role: being available, knowledgeable about clients and insurance, and empathetic; increasing access; and providing comfort. Most participants credited their oral and overall health improvements to the DCM. All participants believed that the DCM was a valuable addition to the clinic and noted that other at-risk populations, including the elderly and developmentally disabled, likely would benefit from working with a DCM.
Conclusion
The addition of a DCM facilitated access to dental care among this sample of people living with HIV/AIDS, providing them with an advocate and resulting in self-reported improvements to oral and overall health.
doi:10.5888/pcd9.110297
PMCID: PMC3499982  PMID: 23098645
20.  Effect on Postpartum Hemorrhage of Prophylactic Oxytocin (10 IU) by Injection by Community Health Officers in Ghana: A Community-Based, Cluster-Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001524.
Cynthia Stanton and colleagues conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in rural Ghana to assess whether oxytocin given by injection by community health officers at home births was a feasible and safe option in preventing postpartum hemorrhage.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Oxytocin (10 IU) is the drug of choice for prevention of postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). Its use has generally been restricted to medically trained staff in health facilities. We assessed the effectiveness, safety, and feasibility of PPH prevention using oxytocin injected by peripheral health care providers without midwifery skills at home births.
Methods and Findings
This community-based, cluster-randomized trial was conducted in four rural districts in Ghana. We randomly allocated 54 community health officers (stratified on district and catchment area distance to a health facility: ≥10 km versus <10 km) to intervention (one injection of oxytocin [10 IU] one minute after birth) and control (no provision of prophylactic oxytocin) arms. Births attended by a community health officer constituted a cluster. Our primary outcome was PPH, using multiple definitions; (PPH-1) blood loss ≥500 mL; (PPH-2) PPH-1 plus women who received early treatment for PPH; and (PPH-3) PPH-2 plus any other women referred to hospital for postpartum bleeding. Unsafe practice is defined as oxytocin use before delivery of the baby. We enrolled 689 and 897 women, respectively, into oxytocin and control arms of the trial from April 2011 to November 2012. In oxytocin and control arms, respectively, PPH-1 rates were 2.6% versus 5.5% (RR: 0.49; 95% CI: 0.27–0.88); PPH-2 rates were 3.8% versus 10.8% (RR: 0.35; 95% CI: 0.18–0.63), and PPH-3 rates were similar to those of PPH-2. Compared to women in control clusters, those in the intervention clusters lost 45.1 mL (17.7–72.6) less blood. There were no cases of oxytocin use before delivery of the baby and no major adverse events requiring notification of the institutional review boards. Limitations include an unblinded trial and imbalanced numbers of participants, favoring controls.
Conclusion
Maternal health care planners can consider adapting this model to extend the use of oxytocin into peripheral settings including, in some contexts, home births.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01108289
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Many women in low-and middle-income countries die unnecessarily during childbirth, even though the solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. Maternal death rates are highest amongst poor women living in remote areas, as they are least likely to have access to adequate health care. One of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals is to reduce maternal death rates by three-quarters by 2015. Between 1990 and 2010, these rates were nearly halved. So there is still some way to go to meet the target.
One of the major causes of maternal death is excessive bleeding after birth, known as postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). The highest rates of PPH are found in Africa (28% of births), with an overall global rate of 11%. PPH can be caused by the uterus not contracting after the baby is born, damage to tissues and blood vessels, retention of the placenta, and problems with blood-clotting.
PPH can be prevented by an injection of oxytocin (a hormone) or with tablets of the drug misoprostol immediately after birth. Other drugs exist but are used much less frequently in low-income countries. If the mother does bleed excessively, then these interventions can also be used to treat PPH in the hours following birth. These drugs cause the uterus to contract. Continued severe bleeding requires emergency treatment in hospital. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that in situations where women give birth without the assistance of a trained midwife, priority should be given to preventing PPH because access to emergency services may be limited.
Why Was This Study Done?
Of the two most common options for preventing PPH, oxytocin is generally the preferred choice. It has the advantage of having no side effects, whereas misoprostol can cause fever and shivering. A repeat injection of oxytocin can also be given if the mother continues to bleed excessively, whereas a dose of misoprostol after birth should only be given once. A major concern about both drugs is that the timing of administration must be precise. Giving a drug that causes the uterus to contract before birth can be harmful to both mother and baby. A disadvantage of oxytocin is that it requires someone trained and authorized to give an injection. For this reason, oxytocin has so far been generally limited to hospitals and clinics, where it can be administered by medically trained professionals. Another disadvantage is that oxytocin is weakened by heat, which means its storage and use may be impractical in hot countries.
The main aim of this study was therefore to find out whether health workers without midwifery skills are able to administer oxytocin safely when attending home births in poor, rural communities.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers carried out a cluster-randomized controlled trial in four rural districts in Ghana, working with community health officers (CHOs). CHOs are trained for two years in giving childhood immunizations and antenatal and postnatal care, but are not trained midwives. 54 CHOs were randomized to one of two groups. The CHOs in the first group gave a preventative oxytocin injection to the mother at every birth they attended. The oxytocin was administered using a pre-filled, disposable device called Uniject that is easier and quicker to use than a syringe and needle. The packaging also included a heat-sensitive label that indicated whether the oxytocin still met the manufacturer's criteria for an acceptably potent drug. CHOs in the second group acted as controls, and did not give any oxytocin injections to prevent PPH. The women seen by each CHO formed a cluster. Comparisons were made across the clusters of women that either received or did not receive the preventative intervention.
The researchers found that the women who were given a preventative oxytocin injection lost less blood after birth than the women who did not receive a preventative injection. There were also fewer cases of PPH amongst the women who received oxytocin for PPH prevention. 2.6% of the women who received a preventative oxytocin injection experienced PPH, compared to 5.5% of the controls. Therefore the risk of PPH was approximately halved. There were no cases of oxytocin use before delivery of the baby and no difference in the frequency of other birth complications between women in the intervention and control groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that under the trial conditions, CHOs can safely administer oxytocin injections when attending home births in poor, rural settings. This intervention also proved practical to use in the Uniject format.
The study therefore suggests that oxytocin should be considered for use in regions where maternal deaths from PPH are still unacceptably high. There are also several noteworthy limitations, such as unblinding and the imbalance between participant groups. The researchers emphasized that their findings do not mean that oxytocin is always a better choice than misoprostol for home births. Many factors will influence which intervention is the most feasible, such as the local availability of sufficiently skilled health professionals, the relative cost and availability of the two drugs, as well as ease of access to emergency health services.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001524.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by João Paulo Souza
WHO Factsheet on Maternal Mortality
United Nations Population Fund's Goals to improve sexual and reproductive health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001524
PMCID: PMC3794862  PMID: 24130463
21.  Impact of Community-Based Maternal Health Workers on Coverage of Essential Maternal Health Interventions among Internally Displaced Communities in Eastern Burma: The MOM Project 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(8):e1000317.
Mullany and colleagues report outcomes from a project involving delivery of community-based maternal health services in eastern Burma, and report substantial increases in coverage of care.
Background
Access to essential maternal and reproductive health care is poor throughout Burma, but is particularly lacking among internally displaced communities in the eastern border regions. In such settings, innovative strategies for accessing vulnerable populations and delivering basic public health interventions are urgently needed.
Methods
Four ethnic health organizations from the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions collaborated on a pilot project between 2005 and 2008 to examine the feasibility of an innovative three-tiered network of community-based providers for delivery of maternal health interventions in the complex emergency setting of eastern Burma. Two-stage cluster-sampling surveys among ever-married women of reproductive age (15–45 y) conducted before and after program implementation enabled evaluation of changes in coverage of essential antenatal care interventions, attendance at birth by those trained to manage complications, postnatal care, and family planning services.
Results
Among 2,889 and 2,442 women of reproductive age in 2006 and 2008, respectively, population characteristics (age, marital status, ethnic distribution, literacy) were similar. Compared to baseline, women whose most recent pregnancy occurred during the implementation period were substantially more likely to receive antenatal care (71.8% versus 39.3%, prevalence rate ratio [PRR] = 1.83 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64–2.04]) and specific interventions such as urine testing (42.4% versus 15.7%, PRR = 2.69 [95% CI 2.69–3.54]), malaria screening (55.9% versus 21.9%, PRR = 2.88 [95% CI 2.15–3.85]), and deworming (58.2% versus 4.1%, PRR = 14.18 [95% CI 10.76–18.71]. Postnatal care visits within 7 d doubled. Use of modern methods to avoid pregnancy increased from 23.9% to 45.0% (PRR = 1.88 [95% CI 1.63–2.17]), and unmet need for contraception was reduced from 61.7% to 40.5%, a relative reduction of 35% (95% CI 28%–40%). Attendance at birth by those trained to deliver elements of emergency obstetric care increased almost 10-fold, from 5.1% to 48.7% (PRR = 9.55 [95% CI 7.21–12.64]).
Conclusions
Coverage of maternal health interventions and higher-level care at birth was substantially higher during the project period. The MOM Project's focus on task-shifting, capacity building, and empowerment at the community level might serve as a model approach for similarly constrained settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Access to essential maternal and reproductive health care (including family planning) is particularly bad in war-torn countries. In Burma, for example, where there have been decades of conflict between the military junta and ethnic minority resistance groups, the maternal mortality rate (the number of deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births) is around 380, whereas in neighboring Thailand it is only 44. Maternal health is even worse in the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions of eastern Burma where ethnic conflicts and enforced village relocations have internally displaced more than half a million people. Here, the maternal mortality rate is around 1,200. In an effort to improve access to maternal health services in these regions, community-based organizations in Burma, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, and the Global Health Access Program undertook an innovative pilot project—the Mobile Obstetric Medics (MOM) project—between 2005 and 2008. Local health workers from 12 communities in eastern Burma received training in antenatal care, obstetrics (the care of women during childbirth), postnatal care, and family planning at the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. These “maternal health workers” then returned to Burma where they trained local health workers and traditional birth attendants to provide maternal health care to their communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before the MOM project started, nearly 3,000 women living in the study communities were surveyed to evaluate the coverage of essential antenatal care interventions such as urine testing for infections during pregnancy, screening for malaria, and deworming; Urinary tract infections, malaria, and hookworm infections all increase the risk of poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. The preproject survey also evaluated how many births were attended by people able to deal with complications, and the provision of postnatal care and family planning services. In this study, the researchers undertake a similar postproject survey to evaluate the impact of MOM on the coverage of essential maternal health interventions among internally displaced communities in eastern Burma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between October 2008 and December 2008, trained survey workers asked nearly 2,500 ever-married women of reproductive age from the project's study communities about their access to antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendants, and family planning. The results of the postproject survey were then compared with those of the “baseline,” preproject survey. The general characteristics (age, marital status, ethnicity, and literacy) of the women included in the two surveys were very similar. However, 71.8% of the women whose most recent pregnancy occurred during the implementation period of the MOM project had received antenatal care compared to only 39.3% of women surveyed at baseline. Similarly, among the women questioned during the postproject survey, 42.4% had had their urine tested and 55.9% had been screened for malaria during pregnancy compared to only 15.7% and 21.9%, respectively, of the women questioned in the preproject survey. Deworming had increased from 4.1% to 58.2% during the project, postnatal care visits within 7 days had doubled, and attendance at birth by people trained to deal with obstetric emergencies had increased 10-fold from 5.1% to 48.7%. Finally, the use of modern contraception methods (slow-release contraceptives, oral contraceptives, and condoms) had increased from 23.9% to 45.0%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal a substantial improvement in access to maternal and reproductive health care in the study communities during the MOM project. However, because the study compared two independent groups of women before and after implementation of the MOM project rather than concurrently comparing groups of women who did and did not receive the services provided by the MOM project, this study does not prove that the MOM approach was the cause of the changes in the coverage of essential maternal health care. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the type of approach used in the MOM project—the expansion of interventions (including components of emergency obstetric care) delivered outside healthcare facilities by community-based providers—might be an effective way to deliver maternal and reproductive health services in other parts of Burma and in other places where there are ongoing conflicts.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000317.
More information about the MOM project is available in previous publications by the researchers in PLoS Medicine, in Reproductive Health Matters, and in Social Science and Medicine
Additional resources are also available on the MOM Project
The Reproductive Health Response in Conflict Consortium provides information on how conflicts affect reproductive health
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of health in Burma (in several languages)
The Mae Tao clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch both provide detailed information about human rights violations, including those that affect maternal health in Burma
The United Nations Population Fund provides information about safe motherhood and maternal and reproductive health during conflicts and among refugees (in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000317
PMCID: PMC2914639  PMID: 20689805
22.  Oral Health Disparities and Unmet Dental Needs among Preschool Children in Chelsea, MA: Exploring Mechanisms, Defining Solutions 
Background
Significant disparities exist in children’s receipt of preventive dental care (PDC) in the United States. Many of the children at greatest risk of dental disease do not receive timely PDC; when they do receive dental care, it is often more for relief of dental pain. Chelsea is a low-income, diverse Massachusetts community with high rates of untreated childhood caries. There are various dental resources available in Chelsea, yet many children do not access dental care at levels equivalent to their needs.
Objective
Using Chelsea as a case-study, to explore factors contributing to forgone PDC (including the age 1 dental visit) in an in-depth way.
Methods
We used a qualitative study design that included semi-structured interviews with parents of preschool children residing in Chelsea, and Chelsea-based providers including pediatricians, dentists, a dental hygienist and early childhood care providers. We examined: a) parents’ dental attitudes and oral health cultural beliefs; b) parents’ and providers’ perspectives on facilitators and barriers to PDC, reasons for unmet needs, and proposed solutions to address the problem. We recorded, transcribed and independently coded all interviews. Using rigorous, iterative qualitative data analyses procedures, we identified emergent themes.
Results
Factors perceived to facilitate receipt of PDC included Head-Start oral health policies, strong pediatric primary care/dental linkages, community outreach and advertising, and parents’ own oral health experiences. Most parents and providers perceived there to be an adequate number of accessible dental services and resources in Chelsea, including for Medicaid enrollees. However, several barriers impeded children from receiving timely PDC, the most frequently cited being insurance related problems for children and adults. Other barriers included limited dental services for children <2 years, perceived poor quality of some dental practices, lack of emphasis on prevention-based dental care, poor care-coordination, and insufficient culturally-appropriate care. Important family-level barriers included parental oral health literacy, cultural factors, limited English proficiency and competing priorities. Several solutions were proposed to address identified barriers.
Conclusion
Even in a community with a considerable number of dental resources, various factors may preclude access to these services by preschool-aged children. Opportunities exist to address modifiable factors through strategic oral health policies, community outreach and improved care coordination between physicians, dentists and early childhood care providers.
doi:10.4172/2332-0702.1000138
PMCID: PMC4299657  PMID: 25614878
Children; Preventive dental care; Oral health; Early childhood caries
23.  Protocol for Northern Ireland Caries Prevention in Practice Trial (NIC-PIP) trial: a randomised controlled trial to measure the effects and costs of a dental caries prevention regime for young children attending primary care dental services 
BMC Oral Health  2011;11:27.
Background
Dental caries is a persistent public health problem with little change in the prevalence in young children over the last 20 years. Once a child contracts the disease it has a significant impact on their quality of life. There is good evidence from Cochrane reviews including trials that fluoride varnish and regular use of fluoride toothpaste can prevent caries.
The Northern Ireland Caries Prevention in Practice Trial (NIC-PIP) trial will compare the costs and effects of a caries preventive package (fluoride varnish, toothpaste, toothbrush and standardised dental health education) with dental health education alone in young children.
Methods/Design
A randomised controlled trial on children initially aged 2 and 3 years old who are regular attenders at the primary dental care services in Northern Ireland. Children will be recruited and randomised in dental practices. Children will be randomised to the prevention package of both fluoride varnish (twice per year for three years), fluoride toothpaste (1,450 ppm F) (supplied twice per year), a toothbrush (supplied twice a year) or not; both test and control groups receive standardised dental health education delivered by the dentist twice per year. Randomisation will be conducted by the Belfast Trust Clinical Research Support Centre ([CRSC] a Clinical Trials Unit).
1200 participants will be recruited from approximately 40 dental practices. Children will be examined for caries by independent dental examiners at baseline and will be excluded if they have caries. The independent dental examiners will examine the children again at 3 years blinded to study group.
The primary end-point is whether the child develops caries (cavitation into dentine) or not over the three years. One secondary outcome is the number of carious surfaces in the primary dentition in children who experience caries. Other secondary outcomes are episodes of pain, extraction of primary teeth, other adverse events and costs which will be obtained from parental questionnaires.
Discussion
This is a pragmatic trial conducted in general dental practice. It tests a composite caries prevention intervention, which represents an evidence based approach advocated by current guidance from the English Department of Health which is feasible to deliver to all low risk (caries free) children in general dental practice. The trial will provide valuable information to policy makers and clinicians on the costs and effects of caries prevention delivered to young children in general dental practice.
Trial registration
EudraCT No: 2009 - 010725 - 39
ISRCTN: ISRCTN36180119
Ethics Reference No: 09/H1008/93:
doi:10.1186/1472-6831-11-27
PMCID: PMC3196725  PMID: 21985746
24.  Attitudes towards, and utility of, an integrated medical-dental patient-held record in primary care. 
BACKGROUND: The need for closer coordination between primary care medical and dental services has been recognized. AIM: To assess the attitudes of general medical practitioners (GMPs), general dental practitioners (GDPs), and patients to an integrated medical-dental patient-held record (integrated medical-dental PHR); to examine patients' use of these records, and the utility of the records for doctors and dentists. METHOD: A three-phase study was carried out: (1) postal survey of GMPs and GDPs; (2) randomized trial of patients, using postal questionnaires before and one year after the issue of integrated medical-dental PHRs to cases; (3) assessment by doctors and dentists of anonymized integrated medical-dental PHRs from this trial. The study was carried out in medical and dental practices in affluent and deprived areas in Greater Glasgow Health Board. Two hundred and thirteen GMPs, 183 GDPs, and 369 patients registered with GMPs and GDPs were surveyed. Eighteen GDPs and GMPs assessed the integrated medical-dental PHRs. RESULTS: Eighty per cent of dentists had contacted a doctor and 16% of doctors had contacted a dentist in the previous three months; 87% of dentists and 68% of doctors thought an integrated medical-dental PHR would be of some use. Twenty-one per cent of dentists and 85% of doctors had practice computers. Most patients wanted to be able to see and read their own records. Twenty-four per cent of patients said there were mistakes and 30% noticed omissions in the integrated medical-dental PHR issued. Experience of having an integrated medical-dental PHR made patients more positive towards the idea of having a patient-held record and being able to check the accuracy of records. Integrated medical-dental PHRs contained important information for half the GDPs and one-third of the GMPs. CONCLUSION: Both professionals and patients have reasonably positive attitudes towards the use of patient-held records. Among patients, the experience of having the integrated medical-dental PHR led to greater enthusiasm towards the idea. Dentists in particular would benefit from the transfer of information from doctors, but better methods are needed to ensure that patients take the integrated medical-dental PHR with them. Given the current lack of ability to easily produce an integrated medical-dental PHR, further examination of the routine issue of a copy of their medical summary, by GMPs, to all patients would be worthwhile.
PMCID: PMC1313422  PMID: 10736887
25.  Experiences in the implementation of a national policy: A retrospective analysis of the Australian Chronic Dental Disease Scheme 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2012;5(10):551-559.
Background
The Chronic Dental Disease Scheme (CDSS) is the first public dental policy in Australia to attract Medicare benefits for dental services.
Aims
This study examines the utilisation of a new federal method of funding dental care in Australia and provides an insight into the implications of government dental programs. The program titled; Chronic Dental Disease Scheme, provided government-subsidised dental care for people suffering from a chronic medical condition.
Method
A retrospective analysis of activity data using the relevant item numbers were extracted from the open source Medicare Benefits Schedule database (MBS) for years 2007-2009.
Results
During the study period, a total of approximately five million dental services were provided. There was a disproportionate use of services between jurisdictions. The highest proportion (66%) of services was provided in the state of New South Wales (NSW) with Victoria second (22%). The adjusted value of care provided as a proportion of comprehensive examinations ranged from $1937 in the northern territory (NT) to $2900 in NSW. The value of care per dentist ranged from nearly $80 000 down to less than $1000 and the value of care per adult of the population ranged between $53 and $1 across Australia. The highest was always in NSW and the lowest always being the NT. Fixed prosthodontics (reconstruction) accounted for the significant costs associated with the program.
Conclusion
The scheme has been utilised above its budget estimate with prosthodontics accounting for the majority of expenses. Treatment plans differed between jurisdictions. The increase in utilisation of the scheme was coincident with periods of increased in subsidy and remuneration and has been postulated to be a main driver for its utilisation rather than the improvement in chronic health.
doi:10.4066/AMJ.2012.1479
PMCID: PMC3494828  PMID: 23173020
Dental Public Health; Computational Mathematics; Monte Carlo

Results 1-25 (766533)