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1.  Supporting Patients Treated for Prostate Cancer: A Video Vignette Study With an Email-Based Educational Program in General Practice 
Men who have been treated for prostate cancer in Australia can consult their general practitioner (GP) for advice about symptoms or side effects at any time following treatment. However, there is no evidence that such men are consistently advised by GPs and patients experience substantial unmet need for reassurance and advice.
The intent of the study was to evaluate a brief, email-based educational program for GPs to manage standardized patients presenting with symptoms or side effects months or years after prostate cancer treatment.
GPs viewed six pairs of video vignettes of actor-patients depicting men who had been treated for prostate cancer. The actor-patients presented problems that were attributable to the treatment of cancer. In Phase 1, GPs indicated their diagnosis and stated if they would prescribe, refer, or order tests based on that diagnosis. These responses were compared to the management decisions for those vignettes as recommended by a team of experts in prostate cancer. After Phase 1, all the GPs were invited to participate in an email-based education program (Spaced Education) focused on prostate cancer. Participants received feedback and could compare their progress and their performance with other participants in the study. In Phase 2, all GPs, regardless of whether they had completed the program, were invited to view another set of six video vignettes with men presenting similar problems to Phase 1. They again offered a diagnosis and stated if they would prescribe, refer, or order tests based on that diagnosis.
In total, 64 general practitioners participated in the project, 57 GPs participated in Phase 1, and 45 in Phase 2. The Phase 1 education program was completed by 38 of the 57 (59%) participants. There were no significant differences in demographics between those who completed the program and those who did not. Factors determining whether management of cases was consistent with expert opinion were number of sessions worked per week (OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.67-0.90), site of clinical practice (remote practice, OR 2.25, 95% CI 1.01-5.03), number of patients seen per week (150 patients or more per week, OR 10.66, 95% CI 3.40-33.48), and type of case viewed. Completion of the Spaced Education did impact whether patient management was consistent with expert opinion (not completed, OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.5-1.56).
The management of standardized patients by GPs was particularly unlikely to be consistent with expert opinion in the management of impotence and bony metastasis. There was no evidence from this standardized patient study that Spaced Education had an impact on the management of patients in this context. However, the program was not completed by all participants. Practitioners with a greater clinical load were more likely to manage cases as per expert opinion.
PMCID: PMC3961707  PMID: 24571952
medical education; prostate cancer; general practice; email; video
2.  Doctors as patients: postal survey examining consultants and general practitioners adherence to guidelines 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7210):605-608.
To examine the adherence by senior NHS medical staff to the BMA guidelines on the ethical responsibilities of doctors towards themselves and their families.
Postal semistructured questionnaire.
Four randomly selected NHS trusts and three local medical committees in South Thames region.
Consultants and principals in general practice.
Main outcome measures
Personal use of health services.
The response rate was 64% (724) for general practitioners and 72% (427) for consultants after three mailings. Most (1106, 96%) respondents were registered with a general practitioner, although little use was made of their services. 159 (26%) general practitioners were registered with a general practitioner in their own practice and 80 (11%) admitted to looking after members of their family. 73 (24%) consultants would never see their general practitioner before obtaining consultant advice. Most consultants and general practitioners admitted to prescribing for themselves and their family. Responses to vignettes for different health problems indicated a general reluctance to take time off, but there were differences between consultants and general practitioners and by sex. Views on improvements needed included the possibility of a “doctor’s doctor,” access to out of area secondary care, an occupational health service for general practitioners, and regular health check ups.
The guidelines are largely not being followed, perhaps because of the difficulties of obtaining access to general practitioners outside working hours. The occupational health service should be expanded and a general practitioner service for NHS staff piloted.
Key messagesSenior doctors are not following the BMA guidelines on looking after their own and their families’ healthThey seem very reluctant to consult their general practitioner They prefer to self treat, carry on working, and consult informallyPotential barriers to access should be removed in order to improve their health
PMCID: PMC28211  PMID: 10473473
3.  Referring patients to specialists: A structured vignette survey of Australian and British GPs 
In Australia and in the United Kingdom (UK) access to specialists is sanctioned by General Practitioners (GPs). It is important to understand how practitioners determine which patients warrant referral.
A self-administered structured vignette postal survey of General Practitioners in Western Australia and the United Kingdom. Sixty-four vignettes describing patients with colorectal symptoms were constructed encompassing six clinical details. Nine vignettes, chosen at random, were presented to each individual. Respondents were asked if they would refer the patient to a specialist and how urgently. Logistic regression and parametric tests were used to analyse the data
We received 260 completed questionnaires. 58% of 'cancer vignettes' were selected for 'urgent' referral. 1632/2367 or 69% of all vignettes were selected for referral. After adjusting for clustering the model suggests that 38.4% of the variability is explained by all the clinical variables as well as the age and experience of the respondents. 1012 or 42.8 % of vignettes were referred 'urgently'. After adjusting for clustering the data suggests that 31.3 % of the variability is explained by the model. The age of the respondents, the location of the practice and all the clinical variables were significant in the decision to refer urgently.
GPs' referral decisions for patients with lower bowel symptoms are similar in the two countries. We question the wisdom of streaming referrals from primary care without a strong evidence base and an effective intervention for implementing guidelines. We conclude that implementation must take into account the profile of patients but also the characteristics of GPs and referral policies.
PMCID: PMC2262087  PMID: 18194578
4.  Tobacco Company Efforts to Influence the Food and Drug Administration-Commissioned Institute of Medicine Report Clearing the Smoke: An Analysis of Documents Released through Litigation 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(5):e1001450.
Stanton Glantz and colleagues investigate efforts by tobacco companies to influence Clearing the Smoke, a 2001 Institute of Medicine report on harm reduction tobacco products.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Spurred by the creation of potential modified risk tobacco products, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess the science base for tobacco “harm reduction,” leading to the 2001 IOM report Clearing the Smoke. The objective of this study was to determine how the tobacco industry organized to try to influence the IOM committee that prepared the report.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed previously secret tobacco industry documents in the University of California, San Francisco Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, and IOM public access files. (A limitation of this method includes the fact that the tobacco companies have withheld some possibly relevant documents.) Tobacco companies considered the IOM report to have high-stakes regulatory implications. They developed and implemented strategies with consulting and legal firms to access the IOM proceedings. When the IOM study staff invited the companies to provide information on exposure and disease markers, clinical trial design for safety and efficacy, and implications for initiation and cessation, tobacco company lawyers, consultants, and in-house regulatory staff shaped presentations from company scientists. Although the available evidence does not permit drawing cause-and-effect conclusions, and the IOM may have come to the same conclusions without the influence of the tobacco industry, the companies were pleased with the final report, particularly the recommendations for a tiered claims system (with separate tiers for exposure and risk, which they believed would ease the process of qualifying for a claim) and license to sell products comparable to existing conventional cigarettes (“substantial equivalence”) without prior regulatory approval. Some principles from the IOM report, including elements of the substantial equivalence recommendation, appear in the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Tobacco companies strategically interacted with the IOM to win several favored scientific and regulatory recommendations.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Up to half of tobacco users will die of cancer, lung disease, heart disease, stroke, or another tobacco-related disease. Cigarettes and other tobacco products cause disease because they expose their users to nicotine and numerous other toxic chemicals. Tobacco companies have been working to develop a “safe” cigarette for more than half a century. Initially, their attention focused on cigarettes that produced lower tar and nicotine yields in machine-smoking tests. These products were perceived as “safer” products by the public and scientists for many years, but it is now known that the use of low-yield cigarettes can actually expose smokers to higher levels of toxins than standard cigarettes. More recently, the tobacco companies have developed other products (for example, products that heat aerosols of nicotine, rather than burning the tobacco) that claim to reduce harm and the risk of tobacco-related disease, but they can only market these modified risk tobacco products in the US after obtaining Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. In 1999, the FDA commissioned the US Institute of Medicine (IOM, an influential source of independent expert advice on medical issues) to assess the science base for tobacco “harm reduction.” In 2001, the IOM published its report Clearing the Smoke: Assessing the Science Base for Tobacco Harm and Reduction, which, although controversial, set the tone for the development and regulation of tobacco products in the US, particularly those claiming to be less dangerous, in subsequent years.
Why Was This Study Done?
Tobacco companies have a long history of working to shape scientific discussions and agendas. For example, they have produced research results designed to “create controversy” about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. In this study, the researchers investigate how tobacco companies organized to try to influence the IOM committee that prepared the Clearing the Smoke report on modified risk tobacco products by analyzing tobacco industry and IOM documents.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (a collection of internal tobacco industry documents released as a result of US litigation cases) for documents outlining how tobacco companies tried to influence the IOM Committee to Assess the Science Base for Tobacco Harm Reduction and created a timeline of events from the 1,000 or so documents they retrieved. They confirmed and supplemented this timeline using information in 80 files that detailed written interactions between the tobacco companies and the IOM committee, which they obtained through a public records access request. Analysis of these documents indicates that the tobacco companies considered the IOM report to have important regulatory implications, that they developed and implemented strategies with consulting and legal firms to access the IOM proceedings, and that tobacco company lawyers, consultants, and regulatory staff shaped presentations to the IOM committee by company scientists on various aspects of tobacco harm reduction products. The analysis also shows that tobacco companies were pleased with the final report, particularly its recommendation that tobacco products can be marketed with exposure or risk reduction claims provided the products substantially reduce exposure and provided the behavioral and health consequences of these products are determined in post-marketing surveillance and epidemiological studies (“tiered testing”) and its recommendation that, provided no claim of reduced exposure or risk is made, new products comparable to existing conventional cigarettes (“substantial equivalence”) can be marketed without prior regulatory approval.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that tobacco companies used their legal and regulatory staff to access the IOM committee that advised the FDA on modified risk tobacco products and that they used this access to deliver specific, carefully formulated messages designed to serve their business interests. Although these findings provide no evidence that the efforts of tobacco companies influenced the IOM committee in any way, they show that the companies were satisfied with the final IOM report and its recommendations, some of which have policy implications that continue to reverberate today. The researchers therefore call for the FDA and other regulatory bodies to remember that they are dealing with companies with a long history of intentionally misleading the public when assessing the information presented by tobacco companies as part of the regulatory process and to actively protect their public-health policies from the commercial interests of the tobacco industry.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Thomas Novotny
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages); for information about the tobacco industry's influence on policy, see the 2009 World Health Organization report Tobacco interference with tobacco control
A PLOS Medicine Research Article by Heide Weishaar and colleagues describes tobacco company efforts to undermine the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international instrument for tobacco control
Wikipedia has a page on tobacco harm reduction (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The IOM report Clearing the Smoke: Assessing the Science Base for Tobacco Harm Reduction is available to read online
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library is a public, searchable database of tobacco company internal documents detailing their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific activities
The University of California, San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education is the focal point for University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) scientists in disciplines ranging from the molecular biology of nicotine addiction through political science who combine their efforts to eradicate the use of tobacco and tobacco-induced cancer and other diseases worldwide
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
PMCID: PMC3665841  PMID: 23723740
5.  Smoking and high-risk mammographic parenchymal patterns: a case-control study 
Breast Cancer Research  1999;2(1):59-63.
Current smoking was strongly and inversely associated with high-risk patterns, after adjustment for concomitant risk factors. Relative to never smokers, current smokers were significantly less likely to have a high-risk pattern. Similar results were obtained when the analysis was confined to postmenopausal women. Past smoking was not related to the mammographic parenchymal patterns. The overall effect in postmenopausal women lost its significance when adjusted for other risk factors for P2/DY patterns that were found to be significant in the present study, although the results are still strongly suggestive. The present data indicate that adjustment for current smoking status is important when evaluating the relationship between mammographic parenchymal pattern and breast cancer risk. They also indicate that smoking is a prominent potential confounder when analyzing effects of other risk factors such as obesity-related variables. It appears that parenchymal patterns may act as an informative biomarker of the effect of cigarette smoking on breast cancer risk.
Overall, epidemiological studies [1,2,3,4] have reported no substantial association between cigarette smoking and the risk of breast cancer. Some studies [5,6,7] reported a significant increase of breast cancer risk among smokers. In recent studies that addressed the association between breast cancer and cigarette smoking, however, there was some suggestion of a decreased risk [8,9,10], especially among current smokers, ranging from approximately 10 to 30% [9,10]. Brunet et al [11] reported that smoking might reduce the risk of breast cancer by 44% in carriers of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. Wolfe [12] described four different mammographic patterns created by variations in the relative amounts of fat, epithelial and connective tissue in the breast, designated N1, P1, P2 and DY. Women with either P2 or DY pattern are considered at greater risk for breast cancer than those with N1 or P1 pattern [12,13,14,15]. There are no published studies that assessed the relationship between smoking and mammographic parenchymal patterns.
To evaluate whether mammographic parenchymal patterns as classified by Wolfe, which have been positively associated with breast cancer risk, are affected by smoking. In this case-control study, nested within the European Prospective Investigation on Cancer in Norfolk (EPIC-Norfolk) cohort [16], the association between smoking habits and mammographic parenchymal patterns are examined. The full results will be published elsewhere.
Study subjects were members of the EPIC cohort in Norwich who also attended the prevalence screening round at the Norwich Breast Screening Centre between November 1989 and December 1997, and were free of breast cancer at that screening. Cases were defined as women with a P2/DY Wolfe's mammographic parenchymal pattern on the prevalence screen mammograms. A total of 203 women with P2/DY patterns were identified as cases and were individually matched by date of birth (within 1 year) and date of prevalence screening (within 3 months) with 203 women with N1/P1 patterns who served as control individuals.
Two views, the mediolateral and craniocaudal mammograms, of both breasts were independently reviewed by two of the authors (ES and RW) to determine the Wolfe mammographic parenchymal pattern.
Considerable information on health and lifestyle factors was available from the EPIC Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire [16]. In the present study we examined the subjects' personal history of benign breast diseases, menstrual and reproductive factors, oral contraception and hormone replacement therapy, smoking, and anthropometric information such as body mass index and waist:hip ratio.
Odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated by conditional logistic regression [17], and were adjusted for possible confounding factors.
The characteristics of the cases and controls are presented in Table 1. Cases were leaner than controls. A larger percentage of cases were nulliparous, premenopausal, current hormone replacement therapy users, had a personal history of benign breast diseases, and had had a hysterectomy. A larger proportion of controls had more than three births and were current smokers.
Table 2 shows the unadjusted and adjusted OR estimates for Wolfe's high-risk mammographic parenchymal patterns and smoking in the total study population and in postmenopausal women separately. Current smoking was strongly and inversely associated with high-risk patterns, after adjustment for concomitant risk factors. Relative to never smokers, current smokers were significantly less likely to have a high-risk pattern (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14-0.94). Similar results were obtained when the analysis was confined to postmenopausal women. Past smoking was not related to mammographic parenchymal patterns. The overall effect in postmenopausal women lost its significance when adjusted for other risk factors for P2/DY patterns that were found to be significant in the present study, although the results were still strongly suggestive. There was no interaction between cigarette smoking and body mass index.
In the present study we found a strong inverse relationship between current smoking and high-risk mammographic parenchymal patterns of breast tissue as classified by Wolfe [12]. These findings are not completely unprecedented; Greendale et al [18] found a reduced risk of breast density in association with smoking, although the magnitude of the reduction was unclear. The present findings suggest that this reduction is large.
Recent studies [9,10] have suggested that breast cancer risk may be reduced among current smokers. In a multicentre Italian case-control study, Braga et al [10] found that, relative to nonsmokers, current smokers had a reduced risk of breast cancer (OR 0.84, 95% CI 0.7-1.0). These findings were recently supported by Gammon et al [9], who reported that breast cancer risk in younger women (younger than 45 years) may be reduced among current smokers who began smoking at an early age (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.41-0.85 for age 15 years or younger) and among long-term smokers (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.52-0.94 for those who had smoked for 21 years or more).
The possible protective effect of smoking might be due to its anti-oestrogenic effect [1,2,19]. Recently there has been renewed interest in the potential effect of smoking on breast cancer risk, and whether individuals may respond differently on the basis of differences in metabolism of bioproducts of smoking [20,21]. Different relationships between smoking and breast cancer risk have been suggested that are dependent on the rapid or slow status of acetylators of aromatic amines [20,21]. More recent studies [22,23], however, do not support these findings.
The present study design minimized the opportunity for bias to influence the findings. Because subjects were unaware of their own case-control status, the possibility of recall bias in reporting smoking status was minimized. Systematic error in the assessment of mammograms was avoided because reading was done without knowledge of the risk factor data. Furthermore, the associations observed are unlikely to be explained by the confounding effect of other known breast cancer risk factors, because we adjusted for these in the analysis. We did not have information on passive smoking status, however, which has recently been reported to be a possible confounder [5,6,21,24].
The present data indicate that adjustment for current smoking status is important when evaluating the relationship between mammographic parenchymal pattern and breast cancer risk. They also indicate smoking as a prominent potential confounder when analyzing effects of other risk factors such as obesity-related variables. It seems that parenchymal patterns may act as an informative biomarker of the effect of cigarette smoking on breast cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC13911  PMID: 11056684
mammography; screening; smoking; Wolfe's parenchymal patterns
6.  Sex and attitude: a randomized vignette study of the management of depression by general practitioners. 
BACKGROUND: The management and detection of depression varies widely, and the causes of variation are incompletely understood. AIMS: To describe and explain general practitioners' (GPs') current practice in the recognition and management of depression in young adults, their attitudes towards depression, and to investigate associations of GP characteristics and patient sex with management. METHOD: All GP principals in the Greater Glasgow Health Board were randomized to receive questionnaires with vignettes describing increasingly severe symptoms of depression in either male or female patients, and asked to indicate which clinical options they would be likely to take. The Depression Attitude Questionnaire was used to elicit GP attitudes. RESULTS: As the severity of vignette symptoms increased, GPs responded by changing their prescribing and referral patterns. For the most severe vignette, the majority of GPs would prescribe drugs (76.4%) and refer the patient for further help (73.7%). Male and female patients were treated differently: GPs were less likely to ask female patients than male patients to attend a follow-up consultation (odds ratio [OR] = 0.55), and female GPs were less likely to refer female patients (OR = 0.33). GPs with a pessimistic view of depression, measured using the 'inevitable course of depression' attitude scale, were less willing to be actively involved in its treatment, being less likely to discuss a non-physical cause of symptoms (OR = 0.77) or to explore social factors in moderately severe cases (OR = 0.68). CONCLUSIONS: Accepting the limitations of the method, GPs appear to respond appropriately to increasingly severe symptoms of depression, although variation in management exists. Educational programmes should be developed with the aim of enhancing GP attitudes towards depression, and the effects on detection and management of depression should be rigorously evaluated.
PMCID: PMC1313311  PMID: 10622010
7.  Video Consultation Use by Australian General Practitioners: Video Vignette Study 
There is unequal access to health care in Australia, particularly for the one-third of the population living in remote and rural areas. Video consultations delivered via the Internet present an opportunity to provide medical services to those who are underserviced, but this is not currently routine practice in Australia. There are advantages and shortcomings to using video consultations for diagnosis, and general practitioners (GPs) have varying opinions regarding their efficacy.
The aim of this Internet-based study was to explore the attitudes of Australian GPs toward video consultation by using a range of patient scenarios presenting different clinical problems.
Overall, 102 GPs were invited to view 6 video vignettes featuring patients presenting with acute and chronic illnesses. For each vignette, they were asked to offer a differential diagnosis and to complete a survey based on the theory of planned behavior documenting their views on the value of a video consultation.
A total of 47 GPs participated in the study. The participants were younger than Australian GPs based on national data, and more likely to be working in a larger practice. Most participants (72%-100%) agreed on the differential diagnosis in all video scenarios. Approximately one-third of the study participants were positive about video consultations, one-third were ambivalent, and one-third were against them. In all, 91% opposed conducting a video consultation for the patient with symptoms of an acute myocardial infarction. Inability to examine the patient was most frequently cited as the reason for not conducting a video consultation. Australian GPs who were favorably inclined toward video consultations were more likely to work in larger practices, and were more established GPs, especially in rural areas. The survey results also suggest that the deployment of video technology will need to focus on follow-up consultations.
Patients with minor self-limiting illnesses and those with medical emergencies are unlikely to be offered access to a GP by video. The process of establishing video consultations as routine practice will need to be endorsed by senior members of the profession and funding organizations. Video consultation techniques will also need to be taught in medical schools.
PMCID: PMC3713911  PMID: 23782753
videoconferencing; general practice; patient appointments; health care
8.  Mental health literacy and attitudes in a Swedish community sample – Investigating the role of personal experience of mental health care 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:8.
Mental ill health is a common condition in the general population, yet only about half of those with a mental disorder have treatment contact. Personal experience may affect attitudes, which in turn influence the help-seeking process. This study investigated differences in mental health literacy and attitudes among mentally healthy persons and in persons with symptoms of mental illness with and without treatment contact.
A postal screening questionnaire was sent to a random sample of the general population aged 20–64 in the county of Skaraborg, Sweden in order to ascertain mental health status and history of treatment contact; 3538 responded (49%). Face-to-face interviews were carried out in random sub samples of mentally healthy persons (n = 128) and in mentally ill persons with (n = 125) and without (n = 105) mental health care contact. Mental health literacy and attitudes to treatment were assessed using questions based on a vignette depicting a person with depression. Past month mental disorder was diagnosed according to the Schedule for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN).
Two thirds failed to recognize depression in a vignette; recognition was equally poor in mentally healthy persons and in persons with symptoms of mental illness with and without treatment contact. In response to an open-ended question concerning appropriate interventions, one third suggested counselling and only one percent proposed antidepressant treatment. Again, proportions were similar in all groups. Persons with a history of mental health contact more often suggested that a GP would provide the best form of help. When presented with a list of possible interventions, those with a history of mental health contact were more positive to medical interventions such as antidepressants, hypnotics, and inpatient psychiatric treatment. When asked about the prognosis for the condition described in the vignette, persons with treatment contact were less likely to believe in full recovery without intervention; mentally ill without treatment contact were more optimistic.
Mental health literacy, specially concerning attitudes towards interventions is associated with personal history of mental health care.
PMCID: PMC2254613  PMID: 18184424
9.  Patients with urinary tract infection: proposed management strategies of general practitioners, microbiologists and urologists. 
BACKGROUND. It is difficult to implement change in general practice. It is not known how best to conduct effective continuing medical education in general practice. General practitioners' criteria for good clinical practice vary and it is unknown whether systematic education by hospital specialists could be expected to reduce variation between general practitioners. AIM. A study was undertaken to describe general practitioners', microbiologists' and urologists' strategies for diagnosis, treatment, and follow up of female patients with symptoms of urinary tract infection, a common reason for consultation in general practice. The findings of the study were to be used as a base upon which to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using hospital specialists as a resource in general practitioners' peer group based continuing medical education. METHOD. Three vignettes together with several proposals for diagnosis, treatment and follow up were presented in a questionnaire to general practitioners, microbiologists and urologists in Denmark. The case histories concerned three female patients (aged 10, 30 and 60 years) who consulted their general practitioner for advice. The female patients were otherwise healthy and well known to the practice. General practitioners', microbiologists' and urologists' recommendations for good clinical practice were compared. RESULTS. A total of 154 general practitioners (77%), 45 microbiologists (51%) and 54 urologists (61%) who were eligible for the study responded to the questionnaire. There was considerable variation in the management strategies proposed by doctors within each specialty and between the specialties. Microbiologists and urologists were more likely to suggest treating the 30-year-old woman by giving advice and a prescription by telephone compared with their general practitioner colleagues. Conversely, the microbiologists and urologists were more likely to suggest asking the 10- and 60-year-old patients to attend the clinic for examination compared with the general practitioners. The general practitioners reported asking the patients to return for follow up more commonly than the hospital specialists. CONCLUSION. Large variation in suggested strategies for diagnosis, treatment and follow up was shown both within and between specialties. Continuing medical education of general practitioners based on small peer group discussions using hospital specialists as a group resource would not necessarily reduce variation in clinical practice between general practitioners. A need for evidence-based rather than consensus-directed guidelines would be needed in order to reduce variation in clinical practice between doctors.
PMCID: PMC1239439  PMID: 8554842
10.  Community Based Participatory Research: A New approach to engaging community members to rapidly call 911 for Stroke 
Background and Purpose
Acute stroke treatments are underutilized primarily due to delayed hospital arrival. Using a community based participatory research approach, we explored stroke self-efficacy, knowledge and perceptions of stroke among a predominately African American population in Flint, Michigan.
In March 2010, a survey was administered to youth and adults after religious services at three churches and one church health day. The survey consisted of vignettes (12 stroke, 4 non-stroke) to assess knowledge of stroke warning signs and behavioral intent to call 911. The survey also assessed stroke self-efficacy, personal knowledge of someone who had had a stroke, personal history of stroke and barriers to calling 911. Linear regression models explored the association of stroke self-efficacy with behavioral intent to call 911 among adults.
Two hundred forty two adults and 90 youth completed the survey. Ninety two percent of adults and 90% of youth respondents were African American. Responding to 12 stroke vignettes, adults would call 911 in 72% (sd=0.26) of the vignettes while youth would call 911 in 54% (sd=0.29) (p<0.001). Adults correctly identified stroke in 51% (sd=0.32) of the stroke vignettes and youth in 46% (sd=0.28) of the stroke vignettes (p=0.28). Stroke self-efficacy predicted behavioral intent to call 911 (p=0.046).
In addition to knowledge of stroke warning signs, behavioral interventions to increase both stroke self-efficacy and behavioral intent may be useful for helping people make appropriate 911 calls for stroke. A community based participatory research approach may be effective in reducing stroke disparities.
PMCID: PMC4005877  PMID: 21617148
Stroke; African Americans; Community Based Participatory Research
11.  The Effect of Chance Variability in Blood Pressure Readings on the Decision Making of General Practitioners: An Internet-Based Case Vignette Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e46556.
Guidelines for the management of blood pressure (BP) in primary care generally suggest that decisions be made on the basis of specific threshold values (e.g. BP 140/90 mmHg); but this fails to adequately accommodate a common cause of variation – the play of chance.
To determine the impact of chance variability in BP readings on the clinical decision making of general practitioners (GPs) regarding anti-hypertensive treatment and cardiovascular risk management.
We used an internet based study design, where 109 GPs were assigned to manage one of eight case vignettes (guidelines would recommend treatment for only one of the eight) and presented with blood pressure readings that were randomly selected from an underlying population.
Seventeen (15.6%, 17/109) GPs consulted the vignette for whom treatment was recommended, but only 7/17 (41.2%) GPs prescribed treatment, whereas 14/92 (15.2%) GPs prescribed medication to the other vignettes. When deciding to follow-up a vignette GPs were influenced by threshold values for systolic and diastolic BP, but not by the overall cardiovascular risk. If the first reading was a low BP (systolic <140, diastolic <90) GPs were highly likely to discharge the vignette and follow-up a high BP reading (diastolic >90 or systolic BP≥140). Similar factors predicted the decision to prescribe a drug, although the vignette’s cardiovascular risk (>20%) was now statistically significant (p = 0.03).
GP decision making, whilst generally consistent with guidelines, appears to be compromised by chance variation leading to under and over treatment. Interventions to adequately accommodate chance variability into clinical decision making are required.
PMCID: PMC3487729  PMID: 23133591
12.  Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website:
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website:
The objective of this evidence-based analysis was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Tobacco smoking is the main risk factor for COPD. It is estimated that 50% of older smokers develop COPD and more than 80% of COPD-associated morbidity is attributed to tobacco smoking. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 38.5% of Ontarians who smoke have COPD. In patients with a significant history of smoking, COPD is usually present with symptoms of progressive dyspnea (shortness of breath), cough, and sputum production. Patients with COPD who smoke have a particularly high level of nicotine dependence, and about 30.4% to 43% of patients with moderate to severe COPD continue to smoke. Despite the severe symptoms that COPD patients suffer, the majority of patients with COPD are unable to quit smoking on their own; each year only about 1% of smokers succeed in quitting on their own initiative.
Smoking cessation is the process of discontinuing the practice of inhaling a smoked substance. Smoking cessation can help to slow or halt the progression of COPD. Smoking cessation programs mainly target tobacco smoking, but may also encompass other substances that can be difficult to stop smoking due to the development of strong physical addictions or psychological dependencies resulting from their habitual use.
Smoking cessation strategies include both pharmacological and nonpharmacological (behavioural or psychosocial) approaches. The basic components of smoking cessation interventions include simple advice, written self-help materials, individual and group behavioural support, telephone quit lines, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and antidepressants. As nicotine addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition that usually requires several attempts to overcome, cessation support is often tailored to individual needs, while recognizing that in general, the more intensive the support, the greater the chance of success. Success at quitting smoking decreases in relation to:
a lack of motivation to quit,
a history of smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 10 years,
a lack of social support, such as from family and friends, and
the presence of mental health disorders (such as depression).
Research Question
What are the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions compared with usual care for patients with COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on June 24, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations (1950 to June Week 3 2010), EMBASE (1980 to 2010 Week 24), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination for studies published between 1950 and June 2010. A single reviewer reviewed the abstracts and obtained full-text articles for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Data were extracted using a standardized data abstraction form.
Inclusion Criteria
English-language, full reports from 1950 to week 3 of June, 2010;
either randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, or non-RCTs with controls;
a proven diagnosis of COPD;
adult patients (≥ 18 years);
a smoking cessation intervention that comprised at least one of the treatment arms;
≥ 6 months’ abstinence as an outcome; and
patients followed for ≥ 6 months.
Exclusion Criteria
case reports
case series
Outcomes of Interest
≥ 6 months’ abstinence
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Nine RCTs were identified from the literature search. The sample sizes ranged from 74 to 5,887 participants. A total of 8,291 participants were included in the nine studies. The mean age of the patients in the studies ranged from 54 to 64 years. The majority of studies used the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) COPD staging criteria to stage the disease in study subjects. Studies included patients with mild COPD (2 studies), mild-moderate COPD (3 studies), moderate–severe COPD (1 study) and severe–very severe COPD (1 study). One study included persons at risk of COPD in addition to those with mild, moderate, or severe COPD, and 1 study did not define the stages of COPD. The individual quality of the studies was high. Smoking cessation interventions varied across studies and included counselling or pharmacotherapy or a combination of both. Two studies were delivered in a hospital setting, whereas the remaining 7 studies were delivered in an outpatient setting. All studies reported a usual care group or a placebo-controlled group (for the drug-only trials). The follow-up periods ranged from 6 months to 5 years. Due to excessive clinical heterogeneity in the interventions, studies were first grouped into categories of similar interventions; statistical pooling was subsequently performed, where appropriate. When possible, pooled estimates using relative risks for abstinence rates with 95% confidence intervals were calculated. The remaining studies were reported separately.
Abstinence Rates
Table ES1 provides a summary of the pooled estimates for abstinence, at longest follow-up, from the trials included in this review. It also shows the respective GRADE qualities of evidence.
Summary of Results*
Abbreviations: CI, confidence interval; NRT, nicotine replacement therapy.
Statistically significant (P < 0.05).
One trial used in this comparison had 2 treatment arms each examining a different antidepressant.
Based on a moderate quality of evidence, compared with usual care, abstinence rates are significantly higher in COPD patients receiving intensive counselling or a combination of intensive counselling and NRT.
Based on limited and moderate quality of evidence, abstinence rates are significantly higher in COPD patients receiving NRT compared with placebo.
Based on a moderate quality of evidence, abstinence rates are significantly higher in COPD patients receiving the antidepressant bupropion compared to placebo.
PMCID: PMC3384371  PMID: 23074432
13.  Influence of physician and patient gender on provision of smoking cessation advice in general practice 
Tobacco Control  1998;7(4):360-363.
OBJECTIVE—To examine the association between physician and patient gender and physicians' self-reported likelihood of providing smoking cessation advice to smokers using hypothetical case scenarios in primary care.
DESIGN—Cross-sectional analysis of a self-administered questionnaire.
SUBJECTS—National random sample of Australian general practitioners (GPs).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES—Self-reported likelihood of advising hypothetical male and female smokers to stop smoking during a consultation for ear-syringing ("opportunistic" approach) or a dedicated preventive health "check up".
RESULTS—855 GPs returned questionnaires (67% response rate). Significantly more respondents indicated they would be "highly likely" to initiate an opportunistic discussion about smoking with a male smoker (47.8% (95% confidence intervals (CI) = 44.5 to 51.2)) than a female smoker (36.3% (95% CI = 33.1 to 39.5]). Older, male GPs were less likely to adopt an opportunistic approach to smoking cessation for patients of either sex. Respondents were more likely to recommend that a male patient return for a specific preventive health check up. Furthermore, in the context of a health check up, a greater proportion in total of respondents indicated they would be "highly likely" to discuss smoking with a man (86.9%, 95% CI = 84.5 to 89.0) than a female smoker (82.5%, 95% CI = 79.8 to 84.9).
CONCLUSIONS—As measured by physician self-report, the likelihood of advising smokers to quit during primary care consultations in Australia appears to be influenced by gender bias. Gender-sensitive strategies to support cessation activities are recommended.

Keywords: smoking cessation; gender; general practitioners
PMCID: PMC1751450  PMID: 10093168
14.  Qualitative study of patients’ perceptions of doctors’ advice to quit smoking: implications for opportunistic health promotion 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;316(7148):1878-1881.
Objectives: To determine the effectiveness and acceptability of general practitioners’opportunistic antismoking interventions by examining detailed accounts of smokers’ experiences of these.
Design: Qualitative semistructured interview study.
Setting: South Wales.
Subjects: 42 participants in the Welsh smoking intervention study were asked about initial smoking, attempts to quit, thoughts about future smoking, past experiences with the health services, and the most appropriate way for health services to help them and other smokers.
Results: Main emerging themes were that subjects already made their own evaluations about smoking, did not believe doctors’ words could influence their smoking, believed that quitting was down to the individual, and felt that doctors who took the opportunity to talk about smoking should focus on the individual patient. Smokers anticipated that they would be given antismoking advice by doctors when attending for health care; they reacted by shrugging this off, feeling guilty, or becoming annoyed. These reactions affected the help seeking behaviour of some respondents. Smokers were categorised as “contrary,” “matter of fact,” and “self blaming,” depending on their reported reaction to antismoking advice.
Conclusions: Doctor-patient relationships can be damaged if doctors routinely advise all smokers to quit. Where doctors intervene, a patient centred approach—one that considers how individual patients view themselves as smokers and how they are likely to react to different styles of intervention—is the most acceptable.
Key messages Many patients who smoke are sceptical about the power of doctors’ words to influence smoking since most know about the dangers, make their own evaluations, and feel that quitting is down to the individual Opportunistic antismoking interventions should be sympathetic, not preaching, and centred on the patient as an individual Repeated ritualistic intervention on the part of doctors may deter patients from seeking medical help when they need it Smokers can be categorised as “contrary,” “matter of fact,” or “self blaming” in their reaction to antismoking advice Doctors can tailor their approach according to the type of patient
PMCID: PMC28587  PMID: 9632409
15.  Mortality in relation to smoking: 40 years' observations on male British doctors. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1994;309(6959):901-911.
OBJECTIVE--To assess the hazards associated with long term use of tobacco. DESIGN--Prospective study of mortality in relation to smoking habits assessed in 1951 and again from time to time thereafter, with causes sought of deaths over 40 years (to 1991). Continuation of a study that was last reported after 20 years' follow up (1951-71). SUBJECTS--34,439 British male doctors who replied to a postal questionnaire in 1951, of whom 10,000 had died during the first 20 years and another 10,000 have died during the second 20 years. RESULTS--Excess mortality associated with smoking was about twice as extreme during the second half of the study as it had been during the first half. The death rate ratios during 1971-91 (comparing continuing cigarette smokers with life-long non-smokers) were approximately threefold at ages 45-64 and twofold at ages 65-84. The excess mortality was chiefly from diseases that can be caused by smoking. Positive associations with smoking were confirmed for death from cancers of the mouth, oesophagus, pharynx, larynx, lung, pancreas, and bladder; from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other respiratory diseases; from vascular diseases; from peptic ulcer; and (perhaps because of confounding by personality and alcohol use) from cirrhosis, suicide, and poisoning. A negative association was confirmed with death from Parkinson's disease. Those who stopped smoking before middle age subsequently avoided almost all of the excess risk that they would otherwise have suffered, but even those who stopped smoking in middle age were subsequently at substantially less risk than those who continued to smoke. CONCLUSION--Results from the first 20 years of this study, and of other studies at that time, substantially underestimated the hazards of long term use of tobacco. It now seems that about half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their habit.
PMCID: PMC2541142  PMID: 7755693
16.  A Longitudinal Study of Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Dependence Treatments in Massachusetts and Associated Decreases in Hospitalizations for Cardiovascular Disease 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000375.
Thomas Land and colleagues show that among Massachusetts Medicaid subscribers, use of a comprehensive tobacco cessation pharmacotherapy benefit was followed by a substantial decrease in claims for hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction and acute coronary heart disease.
Insurance coverage of tobacco cessation medications increases their use and reduces smoking prevalence in a population. However, uncertainty about the impact of this coverage on health care utilization and costs is a barrier to the broader adoption of this policy, especially by publicly funded state Medicaid insurance programs. Whether a publicly funded tobacco cessation benefit leads to decreased medical claims for tobacco-related diseases has not been studied. We examined the experience of Massachusetts, whose Medicaid program adopted comprehensive coverage of tobacco cessation medications in July 2006. Over 75,000 Medicaid subscribers used the benefit in the first 2.5 years. On the basis of earlier secondary survey work, it was estimated that smoking prevalence declined among subscribers by 10% during this period.
Methods and Findings
Using claims data, we compared the probability of hospitalization prior to use of the tobacco cessation pharmacotherapy benefit with the probability of hospitalization after benefit use among Massachusetts Medicaid beneficiaries, adjusting for demographics, comorbidities, seasonality, influenza cases, and the implementation of the statewide smoke-free air law using generalized estimating equations. Statistically significant annualized declines of 46% (95% confidence interval 2%–70%) and 49% (95% confidence interval 6%–72%) were observed in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction and other acute coronary heart disease diagnoses, respectively. There were no significant decreases in hospitalizations rates for respiratory diagnoses or seven other diagnostic groups evaluated.
Among Massachusetts Medicaid subscribers, use of a comprehensive tobacco cessation pharmacotherapy benefit was associated with a significant decrease in claims for hospitalizations for acute myocardial infarction and acute coronary heart disease, but no significant change in hospital claims for other diagnoses. For low-income smokers, removing the barriers to the use of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy has the potential to decrease short-term utilization of hospital services.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. Globally, it is responsible for one in ten deaths among adults. In developed countries, the death toll is even higher—in the USA and the UK, for example, one in five deaths are caused by cigarette smoking. In the USA alone, where a fifth of adults smoke, smoking accounts for more than 400,000 deaths every year; globally, smoking causes 5 million deaths per year. On average, smokers die 14 years earlier than nonsmokers, and half of all long-term smokers will die prematurely because of a smoking-related disease. These diseases include lung cancer, other types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases such as chronic airway obstruction, bronchitis, and emphysema. And, for every smoker who dies from one of these smoking-related diseases, another 20 will develop at least one serious disease because of their addiction to tobacco.
Why Was This Study Done?
About half of US smokers try to quit each year but most of these attempts fail. Many experts believe that counseling and/or treatment with tobacco cessation medications such as nicotine replacement products help smokers to quit. In the USA, where health care is paid for through private or state health insurance, there is some evidence that insurance coverage of tobacco cessation medications increases their use and reduces smoking prevalence. However, smoking cessation treatment is poorly covered by US health insurance programs, largely because of uncertainty about the impact of such coverage on health care costs. It is unknown, for example, whether the introduction of publicly funded tobacco cessation benefits decreases claims for treatment for tobacco-related diseases. In this longitudinal study (a study that follows a group of individuals over a period of time), the researchers ask whether the adoption of comprehensive coverage of tobacco cessation medications by the Massachusetts Medicaid program (MassHealth) in July 2006 has affected claims for treatment for tobacco-related diseases. During its first two and half years, more than 75,000 MassHealth subscribers used the tobacco cessation medication benefit and smoking prevalence among subscribers declined by approximately 10% (38.3% to 28.8%).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used MassHealth claims data and a statistical method called generalized estimating equations to compare the probability of hospitalization prior to the use of tobacco cessation medication benefit with the probability of hospitalization after benefit use among MassHealth subscribers. After adjusting for other factors that might have affected hospitalization such as influenza outbreaks and the implementation of the Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law in July 2004, there was a statistically significant annualized decline in hospital admissions for heart attack of 46% after use of the tobacco cessation medication benefit. That is, the calculated annual rate of admissions for heart attacks was 46% lower after use of the benefit than before among MassHealth beneficiaries. There was also a 49% annualized decline in admissions for coronary atherosclerosis, another smoking-related heart disease. There were no significant changes in hospitalization rates for lung diseases (including asthma, pneumonia, and chronic airway obstruction) or for seven other diagnostic groups.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, among MassHealth subscribers, the use of a tobacco cessation medication benefit was followed by a significant decrease in claims for hospitalization for heart attack and for coronary atherosclerosis but not for other diseases. It does not, however, show that the reduced claims for hospitalization were associated with a reduction in smoking because smoking cessation was not recorded by MassHealth. Furthermore, it is possible that the people who used the tobacco cessation medication benefit shared other characteristics that reduced their chances of hospitalization for heart disease. For example, people using tobacco cessation medication might have been more likely to adhere to prescription schedules for medications such as statins that would also reduce their risk of heart disease. Finally, these findings might be unique to Massachusetts, so similar studies need to be undertaken in other states. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that, for low-income smokers, removing financial barriers to the use of smoking cessation medications has the potential to produce short-term decreases in the use of hospital services that will, hopefully, outweigh the costs of comprehensive tobacco cessation medication benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Office on Smoking and Health has information on all aspects of smoking and health, including advice on how to quit
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site provides advice about quitting smoking; more advice on quitting is provided by Smokefree
The American Heart Association provides information on heart disease, including advice on how to quit smoking (in several languages)
Information about MassHealth is available, including information on smoking and tobacco use prevention
PMCID: PMC3000429  PMID: 21170313
17.  Using vignettes in qualitative research to explore barriers and facilitating factors to the uptake of prevention of mother-to-child transmission services in rural Tanzania: a critical analysis 
Vignettes are short stories about a hypothetical person, traditionally used within research (quantitative or qualitative) on sensitive topics in the developed world. Studies using vignettes in the developing world are emerging, but with no critical examination of their usefulness in such settings. We describe the development and application of vignettes to a qualitative investigation of barriers to uptake of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) HIV services in rural Tanzania in 2012, and critique the successes and challenges of using the technique in this setting.
Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) group activities (3 male; 3 female groups from Kisesa, north-west Tanzania) were used to develop a vignette representing realistic experiences of an HIV-infected pregnant woman in the community. The vignette was discussed during in-depth interviews with 16 HIV-positive women, 3 partners/relatives, and 5 HIV-negative women who had given birth recently. A critical analysis was applied to assess the development, implementation and usefulness of the vignette.
The majority of in-depth interviewees understood the concept of the vignette and felt the story was realistic, although the story or questions needed repeating in some cases. In-depth interviewers generally applied the vignette as intended, though occasionally were unsure whether to steer the conversation back to the vignette character when participants segued into personal experiences. Interviewees were occasionally confused by questions and responded with what the character should do rather than would do; also confusing fieldworkers and presenting difficulties for researchers in interpretation. Use of the vignette achieved the main objectives, putting most participants at ease and generating data on barriers to PMTCT service uptake. Participants’ responses to the vignette often reflected their own experience (revealed later in the interviews).
Participatory group research is an effective method for developing vignettes. A vignette was incorporated into qualitative interview discussion guides and used successfully in rural Africa to draw out barriers to PMTCT service use; vignettes may also be valuable in HIV, health service use and drug adherence research in this setting. Application of this technique can prove challenging for fieldworkers, so thorough training should be provided prior to its use.
PMCID: PMC3922981  PMID: 24512206
Vignette; Qualitative; Methodology; Africa; Vertical transmission; HIV
18.  Lung Cancer Occurrence in Never-Smokers: An Analysis of 13 Cohorts and 22 Cancer Registry Studies  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(9):e185.
Better information on lung cancer occurrence in lifelong nonsmokers is needed to understand gender and racial disparities and to examine how factors other than active smoking influence risk in different time periods and geographic regions.
Methods and Findings
We pooled information on lung cancer incidence and/or death rates among self-reported never-smokers from 13 large cohort studies, representing over 630,000 and 1.8 million persons for incidence and mortality, respectively. We also abstracted population-based data for women from 22 cancer registries and ten countries in time periods and geographic regions where few women smoked. Our main findings were: (1) Men had higher death rates from lung cancer than women in all age and racial groups studied; (2) male and female incidence rates were similar when standardized across all ages 40+ y, albeit with some variation by age; (3) African Americans and Asians living in Korea and Japan (but not in the US) had higher death rates from lung cancer than individuals of European descent; (4) no temporal trends were seen when comparing incidence and death rates among US women age 40–69 y during the 1930s to contemporary populations where few women smoke, or in temporal comparisons of never-smokers in two large American Cancer Society cohorts from 1959 to 2004; and (5) lung cancer incidence rates were higher and more variable among women in East Asia than in other geographic areas with low female smoking.
These comprehensive analyses support claims that the death rate from lung cancer among never-smokers is higher in men than in women, and in African Americans and Asians residing in Asia than in individuals of European descent, but contradict assertions that risk is increasing or that women have a higher incidence rate than men. Further research is needed on the high and variable lung cancer rates among women in Pacific Rim countries.
Michael Thun and colleagues pooled and analyzed comprehensive data on lung cancer incidence and death rates among never-smokers to examine what factors other than active smoking affect lung cancer risk.
Editors' Summary
Every year, more than 1.4 million people die from lung cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. In the US alone, more than 161,000 people will die from lung cancer this year. Like all cancers, lung cancer occurs when cells begin to divide uncontrollably because of changes in their genes. The main trigger for these changes in lung cancer is exposure to the chemicals in cigarette smoke—either directly through smoking cigarettes or indirectly through exposure to secondhand smoke. Eighty-five to 90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by exposure to cigarette smoke and, on average, current smokers are 15 times more likely to die from lung cancer than lifelong nonsmokers (never smokers). Furthermore, a person's cumulative lifetime risk of developing lung cancer is related to how much they smoke, to how many years they are a smoker, and—if they give up smoking—to the age at which they stop smoking.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because lung cancer is so common, even the small fraction of lung cancer that occurs in lifelong nonsmokers represents a large number of people. For example, about 20,000 of this year's US lung cancer deaths will be in never-smokers. However, very little is known about how age, sex, or race affects the incidence (the annual number of new cases of diseases in a population) or death rates from lung cancer among never-smokers. A better understanding of the patterns of lung cancer incidence and death rates among never-smokers could provide useful information about the factors other than cigarette smoke that increase the likelihood of not only never-smokers, but also former smokers and current smokers developing lung cancer. In this study, therefore, the researchers pooled and analyzed a large amount of information about lung cancer incidence and death rates among never smokers to examine what factors other than active smoking affect lung cancer risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed information on lung cancer incidence and/or death rates among nearly 2.5 million self-reported never smokers (men and women) from 13 large studies investigating the health of people in North America, Europe, and Asia. They also analyzed similar information for women taken from cancer registries in ten countries at times when very few women were smokers (for example, the US in the late 1930s). The researchers' detailed statistical analyses reveal, for example, that lung cancer death rates in African Americans and in Asians living in Korea and Japan (but not among Asians living in the US) are higher than those in people of the European continental ancestry group. They also show that men have higher death rates from lung cancer than women irrespective of racial group, but that women aged 40–59 years have a slightly higher incidence of lung cancer than men of a similar age. This difference disappears at older ages. Finally, an analysis of lung cancer incidence and death rates at different times during the past 70 years shows no evidence of an increase in the lung cancer burden among never smokers over time.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although some of the findings described above have been hinted at in previous, smaller studies, these and other findings provide a much more accurate picture of lung cancer incidence and death rates among never smokers. Most importantly the underlying data used in these analyses are now freely available and should provide an excellent resource for future studies of lung cancer in never smokers.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and health professionals about all aspects of lung cancer and information on smoking and cancer (in English and Spanish)
Links to other US-based resources dealing with lung cancer are provided by MedlinePlus (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK provides key facts about the link between lung cancer and smoking and information about all other aspects of lung cancer
PMCID: PMC2531137  PMID: 18788891
19.  Depersonalised doctors: a cross-sectional study of 564 doctors, 760 consultations and 1876 patient reports in UK general practice 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000274.
The objectives of this study were to assess burnout in a sample of general practitioners (GPs), to determine factors associated with depersonalisation and to investigate its impact on doctors' consultations with patients.
Cross-sectional, postal survey of GPs using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Patient survey and tape-recording of consultations for a subsample of respondents stratified by their MBI scores, gender and duration of General Medical Council registration.
UK general practice.
GPs within NHS Essex.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Scores on MBI subscales (depersonalisation, emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment); scores on Doctors' Interpersonal Skills Questionnaire and patient-centredness scores attributed to tape-recorded consultations by independent observers.
In the postal survey, 564/789 (71%) GPs completed the MBI. High levels of emotional exhaustion (261/564 doctors, 46%) and depersonalisation (237 doctors, 42%) and low levels of personal accomplishment (190 doctors, 34%) were reported. Depersonalisation scores were related to characteristics of the doctor and the practice. Male doctors reported significantly higher (p<0.001) depersonalisation than female doctors. Doctors registered with the General Medical Council under 20 years had significantly higher (p=0.005) depersonalisation scores than those registered for longer. Doctors in group practices had significantly higher (p=0.001) depersonalisation scores than single-handed practitioners. Thirty-eight doctors agreed to complete the patient survey (n=1876 patients) and audio-record consultations (n=760 consultations). Depersonalised doctors were significantly more likely (p=0.03) to consult with patients who reported seeing their ‘usual doctor’. There were no significant associations between doctors' depersonalisation and their patient-rated interpersonal skills or observed patient-centredness.
This is the largest number of doctors completing the MBI with the highest levels of depersonalisation reported. Despite experiencing substantial depersonalisation, doctors' feelings of burnout were not detected by patients or independent observers. Such levels of burnout are, however, worrying and imply a need for action by doctors themselves, their medical colleagues, professional bodies, healthcare organisations and the Department of Health.
Article summary
Article focus
A cross-sectional survey was designed to assess levels of burnout in a census sample of GPs in Essex, UK, and to determine which doctor- or practice-related variables predicted higher levels of burnout.
In the substudy, patients rated the interpersonal skills of their doctor and independent observers assessed the degree of patient-centredness in a sample of the doctors' audio-taped consultations.
Key messages
High levels of burnout were reported in the census survey—46% doctors reported emotional exhaustion, 42% reported depersonalisation and 34% reported low levels of personal accomplishment.
Doctors' depersonalisation scores could be predicted by a range of variables relating to the individual doctor and their practice, but higher depersonalisation scores were not associated with poorer patient ratings of the doctors' interpersonal skills or a reduction in the patient-centredness of their consultations.
While the professional practice and patient-centredness of consultations of the GPs in this study were not affected by feelings of burnout, there is a need to offer help and support for doctors who are experiencing this.
Strengths and limitations of this study
A high response rate (71%) was achieved in the census sample of GPs completing the MBI and a subsample of 38 doctors who satisfied the predetermined sample stratification consented to further assessment (patient survey and audio-taping of consultations).
The study was, however, limited to one county in the UK and thus cannot be extrapolated to other parts of the UK.
There was a differential response rate by the gender of the participant. Male doctors who were registered with the General Medical Council for >20 years were less likely to respond to the survey than their female counterparts.
PMCID: PMC3274717  PMID: 22300669
20.  The educational component of senior house officer posts: differences in the perceptions of consultants and junior doctors. 
Postgraduate Medical Journal  1994;70(821):198-202.
The aims of this study were to elicit general practitioner (GP) trainee's perceptions of the educational structure of their hospital posts, to compare them with those of consultants who had GP trainees as senior house officers (SHOs) in their departments and to examine the use of educational objectives in the hospital component of vocational training for general practice. A confidential postal questionnaire was sent to all the GP trainees (165 doctors) in the hospital component of their vocational training schemes (VTS) for general practice in Trent Region and all the consultants (161 doctors) in Trent who had GP trainees in their SHO posts on that date. Responses were received from 136 trainees (82%) and 134 consultants (83%). Educational objectives were stated as existing in the SHO post by 31 trainees (23%) and by 62 consultants (46%). Of those doctors who said that objectives existed, 19 of the trainees (61%) and 40 of the consultants (65%) said that the objectives were useful. Only nine (29%) of the trainees who stated that educational objectives existed felt that they were being put into practice by senior staff, compared with 41 (66%) of consultants who had made that statement. Of all respondents, 113 trainees (87%) and 100 consultants (77%) agreed or strongly agreed that the use of educational objectives would be beneficial to the trainees. Only 10 (7%) of trainees said that they received no teaching in their current posts. Forty trainees (32%) and 88 consultants (67%) said that teaching took place in protected time. Both groups cited consultants as the member of staff giving the most teaching. Ninety-six consultants (73%) replied that it was possible for GP trainees to obtain study leave, but 102 trainees (75%) either had experienced difficulties in obtaining study leave or had not attempted to obtain study leave. Trainees and consultants differed appreciably in their perceptions of the amount of assessment and feedback which was provided for GP trainees. The use of educational objectives in the hospital component of vocational training was felt to be beneficial by both consultants and GP trainees. Consultants were more likely than trainees to report the use of educational objectives, protected teaching time, GP-orientated teaching, ability of trainees to attend VTS half-day release and the provision of assessment and feedback to trainees.
PMCID: PMC2397854  PMID: 8183753
21.  Does the duration of smoking cessation have an impact on hospital admission and health-related quality of life amongst COPD patients? 
Lack of awareness among ex-smokers on the benefits of sustaining smoking cessation may be the main cause of their smoking relapse. This study explored health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and hospital admission amongst chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients according to the duration of smoking cessation.
Materials and methods
This study recruited COPD patients from a chest clinic who agreed to participate in a medication therapy-adherence program from January to June 2013. They were interviewed during their visits to obtain information regarding their smoking history and HRQoL. They were divided into three groups according to smoking status (sustained quitters, quit ≥5 years; quitters, quit <5 years; and smokers, smoking at least one cigarette/day). The effects of the duration of cessation on HRQoL and hospital admission were analyzed using a multinomial logistic model.
A total of 117 participants with moderate COPD met the inclusion criteria, who were comprised of 41 sustained quitters, 40 quitters, and 36 smokers. Several features were similar across the groups. Most of them were married elderly men (aged >64 years) with low-to-middle level of education, who smoked more than 33 cigarettes per day and had high levels of adherence to the medication regimen. The results showed that sustained quitters were less likely to have respiratory symptoms (cough, phlegm and dyspnea) than smokers (odds ratio 0.02, confidence interval 0–0.12; P<0.001). The hospital admission rate per year was increased in quitters compared to smokers (odds ratio 4.5, confidence interval 1.91–10.59; P<0.005).
A longer duration of quitting smoking will increase the benefits to COPD patients, even if they experience increased episodic respiratory symptoms in the early period of the cessation. Thus, the findings of this study show the benefits of early smoking cessation.
PMCID: PMC4027923  PMID: 24868154
HRQoL; hospital admission and hospital stay; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
22.  Influence of patient characteristics on doctors' questioning and lifestyle advice for coronary heart disease: a UK/US video experiment 
Background: Risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD) vary with patient characteristics but we do not know how this influences doctors' questioning and advice giving.
Aims: To find out whether four patient characteristics — age (55 versus 75 years), sex, class, and race — influence primary care doctors' questioning style and advice giving in the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US).
Design of study: A factorial experiment using video simulation of a patient consulting with CHD symptoms, designed to systematically alter their age, sex, class, and race.
Setting: Surrey, south east London and the West Midlands in the UK, and Massachusetts in the US.
Method: A stratified random sample of 128 general practitioners (GPs) in the UK and 128 primary care doctors in the US were shown video vignettes in their practices of patient consultations, and interviewed about patient management strategies.
Results: Sex and age influence doctors' questioning of patients presenting with CHD. Men are asked more questions overall, particularly about smoking and drinking. Middle-aged patients are asked more about their lifestyle. Advice about smoking is given to more men than women, and to more mid-life than older patients. Women doctors question patients about their lifestyle more often, and give more advice to patients about their diet.
Conclusion: Doctors' questioning strategies are influenced by patients' sex and age, suggesting that doctors may miss smoking- and alcohol-related factors among women and older patients with CHD. Doctors give more advice about smoking to men, despite sex equality in smoking prevalence. Therefore, doctors' information seeking and advice giving do not match known patient risk factors.
PMCID: PMC1326068  PMID: 15353053
coronary heart disease; primary health care; risk factors; smoking
23.  Burden of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality Related to Tobacco Smoking among Adults Aged ≥45 Years in Asia: A Pooled Analysis of 21 Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001631.
Wei Zheng and colleagues quantify the burden of tobacco-smoking-related deaths for adults in Asia.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for many diseases. We sought to quantify the burden of tobacco-smoking-related deaths in Asia, in parts of which men's smoking prevalence is among the world's highest.
Methods and Findings
We performed pooled analyses of data from 1,049,929 participants in 21 cohorts in Asia to quantify the risks of total and cause-specific mortality associated with tobacco smoking using adjusted hazard ratios and their 95% confidence intervals. We then estimated smoking-related deaths among adults aged ≥45 y in 2004 in Bangladesh, India, mainland China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan—accounting for ∼71% of Asia's total population. An approximately 1.44-fold (95% CI = 1.37–1.51) and 1.48-fold (1.38–1.58) elevated risk of death from any cause was found in male and female ever-smokers, respectively. In 2004, active tobacco smoking accounted for approximately 15.8% (95% CI = 14.3%–17.2%) and 3.3% (2.6%–4.0%) of deaths, respectively, in men and women aged ≥45 y in the seven countries/regions combined, with a total number of estimated deaths of ∼1,575,500 (95% CI = 1,398,000–1,744,700). Among men, approximately 11.4%, 30.5%, and 19.8% of deaths due to cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory diseases, respectively, were attributable to tobacco smoking. Corresponding proportions for East Asian women were 3.7%, 4.6%, and 1.7%, respectively. The strongest association with tobacco smoking was found for lung cancer: a 3- to 4-fold elevated risk, accounting for 60.5% and 16.7% of lung cancer deaths, respectively, in Asian men and East Asian women aged ≥45 y.
Tobacco smoking is associated with a substantially elevated risk of mortality, accounting for approximately 2 million deaths in adults aged ≥45 y throughout Asia in 2004. It is likely that smoking-related deaths in Asia will continue to rise over the next few decades if no effective smoking control programs are implemented.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Every year, more than 5 million smokers die from tobacco-related diseases. Tobacco smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (conditions that affect the heart and the circulation), respiratory disease (conditions that affect breathing), lung cancer, and several other types of cancer. All told, tobacco smoking kills up to half its users. The ongoing global “epidemic” of tobacco smoking and tobacco-related diseases initially affected people living in the US and other Western countries, where the prevalence of smoking (the proportion of the population that smokes) in men began to rise in the early 1900s, peaking in the 1960s. A similar epidemic occurred in women about 40 years later. Smoking-related deaths began to increase in the second half of the 20th century, and by the 1990s, tobacco smoking accounted for a third of all deaths and about half of cancer deaths among men in the US and other Western countries. More recently, increased awareness of the risks of smoking and the introduction of various tobacco control measures has led to a steady decline in tobacco use and in smoking-related diseases in many developed countries.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, less well-developed tobacco control programs, inadequate public awareness of smoking risks, and tobacco company marketing have recently led to sharp increases in the prevalence of smoking in many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in Asia. More than 50% of men in many Asian countries are now smokers, about twice the prevalence in many Western countries, and more women in some Asian countries are smoking than previously. More than half of the world's billion smokers now live in Asia. However, little is known about the burden of tobacco-related mortality (deaths) in this region. In this study, the researchers quantify the risk of total and cause-specific mortality associated with tobacco use among adults aged 45 years or older by undertaking a pooled statistical analysis of data collected from 21 Asian cohorts (groups) about their smoking history and health.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their study, the researchers used data from more than 1 million participants enrolled in studies undertaken in Bangladesh, India, mainland China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan (which together account for 71% of Asia's total population). Smoking prevalences among male and female participants were 65.1% and 7.1%, respectively. Compared with never-smokers, ever-smokers had a higher risk of death from any cause in pooled analyses of all the cohorts (adjusted hazard ratios [HRs] of 1.44 and 1.48 for men and women, respectively; an adjusted HR indicates how often an event occurs in one group compared to another group after adjustment for other characteristics that affect an individual's risk of the event). Compared with never smoking, ever smoking was associated with a higher risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, cancer (particularly lung cancer), and respiratory disease among Asian men and among East Asian women. Moreover, the researchers estimate that, in the countries included in this study, tobacco smoking accounted for 15.8% of all deaths among men and 3.3% of deaths among women in 2004—a total of about 1.5 million deaths, which scales up to 2 million deaths for the population of the whole of Asia. Notably, in 2004, tobacco smoking accounted for 60.5% of lung-cancer deaths among Asian men and 16.7% of lung-cancer deaths among East Asian women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide strong evidence that tobacco smoking is associated with a substantially raised risk of death among adults aged 45 years or older throughout Asia. The association between smoking and mortality risk in Asia reported here is weaker than that previously reported for Western countries, possibly because widespread tobacco smoking started several decades later in most Asian countries than in Europe and North America and the deleterious effects of smoking take some years to become evident. The researchers note that certain limitations of their analysis are likely to affect the accuracy of its findings. For example, because no data were available to estimate the impact of secondhand smoke, the estimate of deaths attributable to smoking is likely to be an underestimate. However, the finding that nearly 45% of the global deaths from active tobacco smoking occur in Asia highlights the urgent need to implement comprehensive tobacco control programs in Asia to reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages) and about the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international instrument for tobacco control that came into force in February 2005 and requires parties to implement a set of core tobacco control provisions including legislation to ban tobacco advertising and to increase tobacco taxes; its 2013 report on the global tobacco epidemic is available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides detailed information about all aspects of smoking and tobacco use
The UK National Health Services Choices website provides information about the health risks associated with smoking
MedlinePlus has links to further information about the dangers of smoking (in English and Spanish)
SmokeFree, a website provided by the UK National Health Service, offers advice on quitting smoking and includes personal stories from people who have stopped smoking, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
PMCID: PMC3995657  PMID: 24756146
24.  The Management of Acute Adverse Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment in General Practice: A Video-Vignette Study 
There has been a focus recently on the use of the Internet and email to deliver education interventions to general practitioners (GPs). The treatment of breast cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and/or hormone treatment. These treatments may have acute adverse effects. GPs need more information on the diagnosis and management of specific adverse effects encountered immediately after cancer treatment.
The goal was to evaluate an Internet-based educational program developed for GPs to advise patients with acute adverse effects following breast cancer treatment.
During phase 1, participants viewed 6 video vignettes of actor-patients reporting 1 of 6 acute symptoms following surgery and chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy treatment. GPs indicated their diagnosis and proposed management through an online survey program. They received feedback about each scenario in the form of a specialist clinic letter, as if the patient had been seen at a specialist clinic after they had attended the GP. This letter incorporated extracts from local guidelines on the management of the symptoms presented. This feedback was sent to the GPs electronically on the same survey platform. In phase 2, all GPs were invited to manage similar cases as phase 1. Their proposed management was compared to the guidelines. McNemar test was used to compare data from phases 1 and 2, and logistic regression was used to explore the GP characteristics that were associated with inappropriate case management.
A total of 50 GPs participated. Participants were younger and more likely to be female than other GPs in Australia. For 5 of 6 vignettes in phase 1, management was consistent with expert opinion in the minority of cases (6%-46%). Participant demographic characteristics had a variable effect on different management decisions in phase 1. The variables modeled explained 15%-28% of the differences observed. Diagnosis and management improved significantly in phase 2, especially for diarrhea, neutropenia, and seroma sample cases. The proportion of incorrect management responses was reduced to a minimum (25.3%-49.3%) in phase 2.
There was evidence that providing feedback by experts on specific cases had an impact on GPs’ knowledge about how to appropriately manage acute treatment adverse effects. This educational intervention could be targeted to support the implementation of shared care during cancer treatment.
PMCID: PMC4213802  PMID: 25274131
breast cancer; treatment; general practice; adverse effects; patient care planning
25.  Perceived risk as a barrier to appropriate diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome 
World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG  2014;20(48):18360-18366.
AIM: To evaluate perceived risk, diagnostic testing, and acceptance of a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) among the Korean laypersons.
METHODS: We designed a conceptual framework to evaluate the health-seeking behavior of subjects based on a knowledge, attitude, and practice model. We developed a vignette-based questionnaire about IBS based on a literature review and focused group interviews. The vignette described a 40-year-old woman who meets the Rome III criteria for IBS without red-flag signs. It was followed by questions about demographic characteristics, health behaviors, IBS symptoms, risk perception, perceived need for diagnostic tests, and acceptance of a positive diagnosis of IBS. We planned a nationwide survey targeting laypersons without IBS and between the ages of 20 and 69 years. Survey participants were selected by quota sampling stratified by gender, age, and nationwide location. A multivariate logistic model was constructed based on literature reviews, univariate analysis, and a stepwise selection method to investigate correlations between the perceived risk, need for diagnostic tests, and acceptance of a positive diagnosis.
RESULTS: Of 2354 eligible households, 1000 subjects completed the survey and 983 subjects were analyzed, excluding those who met symptom criteria for IBS. After reading the IBS vignette, the majority of subjects (86.8%) responded that the patient was at increased risk of severe disease. The most frequent concern was colon cancer (59.8%), followed by surgical condition (51.5%). Most subjects responded the patient needs diagnostic tests (97.2%). Colonoscopy was the most commonly required test (79.5%). Less than half of the respondents requested a stool examination (45.0%), blood test (40.7%), abdominal ultrasound (36.0%), or computed tomography (20.2%). The subjects who felt increased risk were more likely to see a need for colonoscopy [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 2.10, 95%CI: 1.38-3.18]. When asked about the positive diagnosis, the most frequent response was that “the patient would not be reassured” (65.7%). The increased risk perception group was less likely to be reassured by a positive diagnosis of IBS, compared to the other respondents (aOR = 0.52, 95%CI: 0.34-0.78).
CONCLUSION: For IBS diagnosis, increased risk perception is a possible barrier to the appropriate use of diagnostic tests and to the patient’s acceptance of a positive diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC4277973  PMID: 25561803
Diagnostic testing; Patient attitude; Positive diagnosis; Functional gastrointestinal disease; Irritable bowel syndrome

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