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.
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.
videoconferencing; general practice; patient appointments; health care
To understand mammographers’ perception of individual women’s breast cancer risk.
Materials and Methods
Radiologists interpreting screening mammography examinations completed a mailed survey consisting of questions pertaining to demographic and clinical practice characteristics, as well as 2 vignettes describing different risk profiles of women. Respondents were asked to estimate the probability of a breast cancer diagnosis in the next 5 years for each vignette. Vignette responses were plotted against mean recall rates in actual clinical practice.
The survey was returned by 77% of eligible radiologists. Ninety-three percent of radiologists overestimated risk in the vignette involving a 70-year-old woman; 96% overestimated risk in the vignette involving a 41-year-old woman. Radiologists who more accurately estimated breast cancer risk were younger, worked full-time, were affiliated with an academic medical center, had fellowship training, had fewer than 10 years experience interpreting mammograms, and worked more than 40% of the time in breast imaging. However, only age was statistically significant. No association was found between radiologists’ risk estimate and their recall rate.
U.S. radiologists have a heightened perception of breast cancer risk.
perception; risk; pretest probability
The nurse-doctor relationship is historically one of female nurse deference to male physician authority. We investigated the effects of physicians' sex on female nurses' behaviour.
Nurses at an urban, university based hospital completed one of two forms of a vignette-based survey in January, 2000. Each survey included four clinical scenarios. In form 1 of the questionnaire the physicians described were female, male, female, and male. In form 2, vignettes were identical but the physician sex was changed to male, female, male, and female. Differences in responses to questions based on the sex of the physician in each vignette were studied
199 self-selected nurses completed the survey. The responses of 177 female respondents and 11 respondents who did not specifiy their sex, and were assumed to be female based on the overall sex ratio of respondents, were analysed. Persistent sex-role stereotypes influenced the relationship between female nurses and physicians. Nurses were more willing to serve and defer to male physicians. They approached female physicians on a more egalitarian basis, were more comfortable communicating with them, yet more hostile toward them.
When nurses and doctors are female, traditional power imbalances in their relationship diminish, suggesting that these imbalances are based as much on gender as on professional hierarchy. The effects of this change on the authority of the medical profession, the role of nurses, and on patient care merit further exploration.
gender; nurses; professional relationships; physician nurse interactions; collaboration
OBJECTIVE—To determine how the decisions of Dutch cardiologists on surgical treatment for aortic stenosis were influenced by the patient's age, cardiac signs and symptoms, and comorbidity; and to identify groups of cardiologists whose responses to these clinical characteristics were similar.
DESIGN—A questionnaire was produced asking cardiologists to indicate on a six point scale whether they would advise cardiac surgery for each of 32 case vignettes describing 10 clinical characteristics.
SETTING—Nationwide postal survey among all 530 cardiologists in the Netherlands.
RESULTS—52% of the cardiologists responded. There was wide variability in the cardiologists' advice for the individual case vignettes. Six groups of cardiologists explained 60% of the variance. The age of the patient was most important for 41% of the cardiologists; among these, 50% had a high and 50% a low inclination to advise surgery. A further 24% were influenced equally by the patient's age and by the severity of the aortic stenosis and its effect on left ventricular function; among these, 62% had a high and 38% a low inclination to advise surgery. Finally, 23% of the cardiologists were mainly influenced by the left ventricular function and 12% by the aortic valve area. The presence of comorbidity always played a minor role.
CONCLUSIONS—There were systematic differences among groups of cardiologists in their inclination to advise aortic valve replacement for elderly patients, as well as in the way their advice was influenced by the patients' characteristics. These results indicate the need for prospective studies to identify the best treatment for elderly patients according to their clinical profile.
Keywords: aortic stenosis; aortic valve replacement; elderly patients; clinical decision making
This article reports on a web-based vignette experiment investigating how likely subjects would be to participate in surveys varying in topic sensitivity and risk of disclosure. A total of 3,672 participants each responded to a series of eight vignettes, along with a variety of background questions, concerns about confidentiality, trust in various institutions, and the like.
Vignettes were randomly assigned to respondents, such that each respondent was exposed to four levels of disclosure risk for each level of topic sensitivity (high versus low). Half the sample was assigned to receive a confidentiality statement for all eight vignettes, while the other half received no mention of confidentiality in the vignettes. The order of presentation of vignettes was randomized for each respondent.
Respondents were also asked for their subjective perceptions of risk, harm, and social as well as personal benefits for one of the eight vignettes. Adding these questions permits us to examine how objective risk information presented by the researcher relates to the subjective perception of risk by the participant, and to assess the importance of both for their willingness to participate in the surveys described.
Under conditions resembling those of real surveys, objective risk information does not affect willingness to participate. On the other hand, topic sensitivity does have such effects, as do general attitudes toward privacy and survey organizations as well as subjective perceptions of risk, harm, and benefits. We discuss the limitations and implications of these findings.
Disclosure; informed consent; survey participation; privacy; confidentiality
We surveyed Utah general internists (N = 134) regarding their attitudes toward and practices associated with telephone management of upper respiratory tract infections. The questionnaire contained 3 case vignettes--viral upper respiratory tract infection, streptococcal pharyngitis, and acute infectious epiglottitis--and a series of questions were asked about telephone diagnosis, management preferences (clinic versus telephone), and telephone management practices. The 53 respondents (40%) were able to make important diagnostic distinctions about upper respiratory tract infections from a written vignette. As the likelihood of a complicated or serious condition increased, patients would be appropriately triaged for clinical evaluation. Most internists would make a written record of the telephone conversation. Only 1 internist of the 53 would charge for telephone management.
Teachers are important role models for the development of professional behaviour of young trainee doctors. Unfortunately, sometimes they show unprofessional behaviour. To address misconduct in teaching, it is important to determine where the thresholds lie when it comes to inappropriate behaviours in student–teacher encounters. We explored to what extent students and teachers perceive certain behaviours as misconduct or as sexual harassment. We designed—with a reference group—five written vignettes describing inappropriate behaviours in the student–teacher relationship. Clinical students (n = 1,195) and faculty of eight different hospitals (n = 1,497) were invited to rate to what extent they perceived each vignette as misconduct or sexual harassment. Data were analyzed using t tests and Pearson’s correlations. In total 643 students (54 %) and 551 teachers (37 %) responded. All vignettes were consistently considered more as misconduct than as actual sexual harassment. At an individual level, respondents differed largely as to whether they perceived an incident as misconduct or sexual harassment. Comparison between groups showed that teachers’ and students’ perceptions on three vignettes differed significantly, although the direction differed. Male students were more lenient towards certain behaviours than female students. To conclude, perceptions of misconduct and sexual harassment are not univocal. We recommend making students and teachers aware that the boundaries of others may not be the same as their own.
Student–teacher relationship; Sexual harassment; Misconduct; Boundary issues; Unprofessional behaviour; Gender differences
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.
The study used a vignette-type survey to assess preferences and influential factors in geriatric cancer management of U.S. practicing oncologists. Advanced patient age was found to deter oncologists from choosing intensive cancer therapy, even if the patient was highly functional and lacked comorbidities.
Over half of new cancer cases occur in patients aged ≥65 years. Many older patients can benefit from intensive cancer therapies, yet evidence suggests that this population is undertreated.
To assess preferences and influential factors in geriatric cancer management, practicing U.S. medical oncologists completed a survey containing four detailed vignettes exploring colon, breast, lung, and prostate cancer treatment. Participants were randomly assigned one of two surveys with vignettes that were identical except for patient age (<65 years or >70 years).
Physicians in each survey group (n = 200) were demographically similar. Intensive therapy was significantly less likely to be recommended for an older than for a younger, but otherwise identical, patient in two of the scenarios. For a woman with metastatic colon cancer (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group [ECOG] score, 1) for whom chemotherapy was recommended, nearly all oncologists chose an intensive regimen if the patient's age was 63; but if her age was 85, one fourth of the oncologists chose a less intensive treatment. Likewise, for stage IIA breast cancer (ECOG score, 0), 93% recommended intensive adjuvant treatment for a previously healthy patient aged 63; but only 66% said they would do so if the patient's age was 75. Oncologists commonly identified patient age as an influence on treatment choice, but were even more likely to cite performance status as a determining factor.
Advanced age can deter oncologists from choosing intensive cancer therapy, even if patients are highly functional and lack comorbidities. Education on tailoring cancer treatment and a greater use of comprehensive geriatric assessment may reduce cancer undertreatment in the geriatric population.
Age factors; Antineoplastic agents/therapeutic use; Geriatric assessment; Health care disparities; Quality of health care
There is a growing literature suggesting that access to cardiology services is affected by age. However, there is a dearth of studies that have considered age and sex in conjunction.
This study aims to examine the impact of age, and its interaction with sex, on reported healthcare seeking, based on responses to symptom vignettes, in an attempt to standardise symptomatology across all responders.
Design of study
A cross-sectional survey design was utilised.
A random sample of 911 individuals, stratified by sex, was selected from one practice in the UK. Participants were invited to state how they would react in response to the chest pain symptoms presented. Patterns of response were examined, by age and sex, using χ2 and logistic regression models.
This study identified differences by age and sex in a general practice population in the propensity to seek health care. In particular, men aged 60–69 years and women aged 70 years and over were more likely to report healthcare seeking than younger responders. For example, women aged 70 years and over had over three times greater odds of reporting contact with the GP compared to the reference category. Evidence for an interaction effect between age and sex was observed.
The results suggest that the inequity that has been demonstrated in access to cardiology services by age is not likely to be due to the patient's illness behaviour as, overall, older people are more likely than younger people to be willing to consult their doctors.
aged; gender identity; heart; patient acceptance of health care
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.
coronary heart disease; primary health care; risk factors; smoking
The intensity of post-treatment surveillance performed by ASCO members caring for patients with breast cancer varies markedly despite evidence from well-designed, adequately powered randomized controlled trials.
To determine how physicians monitor their patients after initial curative-intent treatment for breast carcinoma.
A custom-designed survey instrument with four idealized patient vignettes (TNM stages 0 to III) was e-mailed to the 3,245 members of ASCO who had identified themselves as having breast cancer as a major focus of their practice. Respondents were asked how they use 12 specific follow-up modalities during post-treatment years 1 to 5 for each vignette. Mean, median, standard deviation, and range of the intensity of use for each modality were calculated for the four vignettes.
Of the 3,245 ASCO members surveyed, 1,012 (31%) responded. Of these, 915 (90%) were evaluable and were included in our analysis. Office visit, mammogram, complete blood count, and liver function tests were the most commonly recommended surveillance modalities. There was marked variation in surveillance intensity. For example, office visit was recommended 4.1 ± 2.2 times (mean ± SD) in year 1 after curative treatment of a patient with stage III breast cancer. Similar variation was observed for all modalities.
The intensity of post-treatment surveillance performed by ASCO members caring for patients with breast cancer varies markedly despite evidence from well-designed, adequately powered randomized controlled trials. Many modalities not recommended by ASCO guidelines are used routinely, which constitutes evidence of overuse. The lack of consensus is likely due to multiple factors and constitutes an appealing target for interventions to rationalize surveillance.
This study was undertaken to estimate utility values for alternative treatment intervals for long acting antipsychotic intramuscular injections for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Vignettes were developed using the published literature and an iterative consultation process with expert clinicians and patient representative groups. Four vignettes were developed. The first was a vignette of relapsed/untreated schizophrenia. The other three vignettes presented a standardised picture of well-managed schizophrenia with variations in the intervals between injections: once every 2-weeks, 4-weeks and 3-months. A standardised time trade off (TTO) approach was used to obtain utility values for the vignettes. As a societal perspective was sought, a representative sample of individuals from across the community (Sydney, Australia) was recruited. Ninety-eight people completed the TTO interview. The vignettes were presented in random order to prevent possible ordering effects.
A clear pattern of increasing utility was observed with increasing time between injections. Untreated schizophrenia was rated as very poor health-related quality of life with a mean (median) utility of 0.27 (0.20). The treated health states were rated at much higher utilities and were statistically significantly different (p < 0.001) from each other: (1) 2-weekly: mean (median) utility = 0.61 (0.65); (2) 4-weekly: mean (median) utility = 0.65 (0.70); (3) 3-monthly: mean (median) utility = 0.70 (0.75).
This study has provided robust data indicating that approximately a 0.05 utility difference exists between treatment options, with the highest utility assigned to 3-monthly injections.
Quality of life; Time-trade-off; Schizophrenia; Treatment interval; Antipsychotic; Long-acting injection
When patients consult more than one source of information about their medications, they may encounter conflicting information. Although conflicting information has been associated with negative outcomes, including worse medication adherence, little is known about how patients make health decisions when they receive conflicting information. The objective of this study was to explore the decision making strategies that individuals with arthritis use when they receive conflicting medication information. Qualitative telephone interviews were conducted with 20 men and women with arthritis. Interview vignettes posed scenarios involving conflicting information from different sources (e.g., doctor, pharmacist, and relative), and respondents were asked how they would respond to the situation. Data analysis involved inductive coding to identify emergent themes and deductive contextualization to make meaning from the emergent themes. In response to conflicting medication information, patients used rules of thumb, trial and error, weighed benefits and risks, and sought more information, especially from a doctor. Patients relied heavily on trial and error when there was no conflicting information involved in the vignette. In contrast, patients used rules of thumb as a unique response to conflicting information. These findings increase our understanding of what patients do when they receive conflicting medication information. Given that patient exposure to conflicting information is likely to increase alongside the proliferation of medication information on the Internet, patients may benefit from assistance in identifying the most appropriate decision strategies for dealing with conflicting information, including information about best information sources.
Medical decision making; medication adherence; doctor-patient communication; heuristics and biases; arthritis; information seeking
BACKGROUND. Sore throat is one of the commonest presenting symptoms in general practice in Australia, and results in the prescription of an antibiotic in 50-90% of cases, despite the finding of bacterial throat infection in around 30% of cases or fewer. AIM. This study set out to examine whether inaccurate knowledge about the pathophysiological features and management of sore throat helps to explain the high level of inappropriate antibiotic prescribing for sore throat by general practitioners. METHOD. A questionnaire with four case vignettes of sore throat presentations was sent to 400 randomly selected general practitioners, practising in Victoria, Australia. Of 367 eligible respondents, 284 responded (77%). RESULTS. Of the respondents 97% reported that they would prescribe an antibiotic for the case of tonsillitis, 70% for the case of possible glandular fever, 29% for the child with probable viral sore throat and 9% for the adult with probable viral infection. There were no differences in prescribing rates between general practitioners of different sex, practice location, practice type or qualification. Overall, 25% of the antibiotics which formed the respondents' first choice were inappropriate broad-spectrum antibiotics. CONCLUSION. General practitioners are generally accurate in their assessment of the features of sore throats, but less accurate in their knowledge of appropriate antibiotics.
Guidelines for the management of low back pain (LBP) have existed for many years, but adherence to these by health care practitioners (HCPs) remains suboptimal. The aim of this study was to measure the attitudes, beliefs and reported clinical behaviour of UK physiotherapists (PTs) and general practitioners (GPs) about LBP and to explore the associations between these. A cross-sectional postal survey of GPs (n = 2000) and PTs (n = 2000) was conducted that included the Pain Attitudes and Beliefs Scale (PABT.PT), and a vignette of a patient with non-specific LBP (NSLBP) with questions asking about recommendations for work, activity and bedrest. Data from 1022 respondents (442 GPs and 580 PTs) who had recently treated patients with LBP were analysed. Although the majority of HCPs reported providing advice for the vignette patient that was broadly in line with guideline recommendations, 28% reported they would advise this patient to remain off work. Work advice was significantly related to the PABS.PT scores with higher biomedical (F1,986 = 77.5, p < 0.0001) and lower behavioural (F1,981 = 31.9, p < 0.001) scores associated with advice to remain off work. We have demonstrated that the attitudes and reported practice behaviour of UK GPs and PTs for patients with NSLBP are diverse. Many HCPs held the belief that LBP necessitates some avoidance of activities and work. The attitudes and beliefs of these HCPs were associated with their self-reported clinical behaviour regarding advice about work. Future studies need to investigate whether approaches aimed at modifying these HCP factors can lead to improved patient outcomes.
Attitudes and beliefs; Health care practitioners; Practice behaviour; Low back pain; Survey
How GPs understand mental health problems determines their treatment choices; however, measures describing GPs' thinking about such problems are not currently available.
To develop a measure of the complexity of GP explanations of common mental health problems and to pilot its reliability and validity.
Design of study
A qualitative development of the measure, followed by inter-rater reliability and validation pilot studies.
General practices in North London.
Vignettes of simulated consultations with patients with mental health problems were videotaped, and an anchored measure of complexity of psychosocial explanation in response to these vignettes was developed. Six GPs, four psychologists, and two lay people viewed the vignettes. Their responses were rated for complexity, both using the anchored measure and independently by two experts in primary care mental health. In a second reliability and revalidation study, responses of 50 GPs to two vignettes were rated for complexity. The GPs also completed a questionnaire to determine their interest and training in mental health, and they completed the Depression Attitudes Questionnaire.
Inter-rater reliability of the measure of complexity of explanation in both pilot studies was satisfactory (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.78 and 0.72). The measure correlated with expert opinion as to what constitutes a complex explanation, and the responses of psychologists, GPs, and lay people differed in measured complexity. GPs with higher complexity scores had greater interest, more training in mental health, and more positive attitudes to depression.
Results suggest that the complexity of GPs' psychosocial explanations about common mental health problems can be reliably and validly assessed by this new standardised measure.
doctor–patient relations; mental health; physician, primary health care
Examined the effect of perceived child anxiety status on parental latency to intervene with anxious and non-anxious youth.
Parents (68) of anxiety-disordered (PAD) and non-anxiety-disordered (56: PNAD) children participated. Participants listened and responded to an audio vignette of a parent-child interaction: half were told the child was anxious and half were given a neutral description. Participants completed measures of anxiety and emotional responding before and after the audio vignette, and signaled when the mother on the vignette should accommodate the child.
Whereas PNAD responded significantly faster when provided with neutral information about the child than when told the child was anxious, PAD did not differ in response latency. However, PAD exhibited a significant increase in state anxiety and negative affect and a decrease in positive affect after the vignette, whereas PNAD did not.
Results suggest that PNAD are more flexible and adaptable in their parenting behavior than PAD and that the greater anxiety and emotional lability of PAD may influence their parenting. Suggestions for research are discussed.
Anxiety; Child Anxiety; Parenting; Generalized Anxiety Disorder; Social Phobia; Separation Anxiety Disorder
OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether overprescribing is common in treatment of pediatric upper respiratory infections and to examine factors that influence prescribing antibiotics for children. DESIGN: A random, stratified sample of practising family physicians was surveyed with a mailed questionnaire. Initial nonresponders were mailed a second questionnaire. SETTING: British Columbia. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 608 general and family physicians. Response rate was 64%; 392/612 surveys were completed. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Physicians' self-reported prescribing practices and knowledge of and attitudes toward using antibiotics for children's upper respiratory tract infections. RESULTS: Relative to treatment guidelines developed for the study, most physicians responded appropriately to the cough (94%) and lobar pneumonia (99.1%) vignettes. More than half the physicians (56.5%) reported they would immediately prescribe antibiotics for tympanic membrane dysfunction, and 79.4% indicated they would prescribe antibiotics for pharyngitis without obtaining a laboratory culture. Approximately 25% of physicians in the study did not believe that prior antibiotic use increased personal risk for acquiring drug-resistant infection, and 23.1% did not believe that antibiotic use was an important factor in promoting resistance in their communities. CONCLUSION: Education in current treatment of pediatric upper respiratory tract illnesses and antimicrobial drug resistance is required. The high response to the questionnaire (64%) and the many requests from physicians to receive the project's educational materials (45%) indicate a high level of interest in this subject.
To determine whether current care for common shoulder problems in Australian general practice is in keeping with rheumatologist expectations and the best available evidence.
We performed a mailed survey of a random sample of 3500 Australian GPs and an online survey of all 270 rheumatologists in Australia in June 2009. Each survey included four vignettes (first presentation of shoulder pain due to rotator cuff tendinopathy, acute rotator cuff tear in a 45 year-old labourer and early and later presentation of adhesive capsulitis). For each vignette, GPs were asked to indicate their management, rheumatologists were asked to indicate appropriate primary care, and we determined best available evidence from relevant Cochrane and other systematic reviews and published guidelines.
Data were available for at least one vignette for 614/3500 (17.5%) GPs and 64 (23.8%) rheumatologists. For first presentation of rotator cuff tendinopathy, 69% and 82% of GPs and 50% and 56% rheumatologists would order a shoulder X-ray and ultrasound respectively (between group comparisons P = 0.004 and P<0001). Only 66% GPs and 60% rheumatologists would refer to an orthopaedic surgeon for the acute rotator cuff tear. For adhesive capsulitis, significantly more rheumatologists recommended treatments of known benefit (e.g. glucocorticoid injection (56% versus 14%, P<0.0001), short course of oral glucocorticoids (36% versus 6%, p<0.0001) and arthrographic distension of the glenohumeral joint (41% versus 19%, P<0.0001).
There is a mismatch between the stated management of common shoulder problems encountered in primary care by GPs, rheumatologist expectations of GP care and the available evidence.
To determine patients' preferences for a shared or directed style of consultation in the decision making part of the general practice consultation.
Structured interview, with video vignettes of acted consultations.
5 practices in Lothian, Scotland.
410 patients (adults and adults accompanying children) attending surgery appointments.
Main outcome measures
Preference for shared or directed form of video vignette for five different presenting conditions.
Patients varied in their preference for involvement in decision making in the consultation. Under multiple regression analysis, patients' preference was found to be independently predicted by the problem viewed (patients presented with physical problems preferred a directed approach), patients' age (patients aged 61 or older were more likely to prefer the directed approach), social class (social classes I and II were more likely to prefer the shared approach), and smoking status (smokers more likely to prefer the shared approach). Those patients who were able to answer (or who thought their doctor's style similar to those in the vignettes) were more likely to describe their own doctor's style as similar to their preferred style. No major association in preference was found with sex, frequency of attendance, or perceived chronic ill health.
Patients may vary in their desire for involvement in decision making in consultations. Although this variation seems to depend on the presenting problem, age, social class, and smoking status, these associations are not absolute, with large minorities in each group. Doctors need the skills, knowledge of their patients, and the time to determine on which occasions, with which illnesses, and at which level their patients wish to be involved in decision making.
Objective To determine what influences doctors' decisions about admission of patients to intensive care.
Design National questionnaire survey using eight clinical vignettes involving hypothetical patients.
Participants 402 Swiss doctors specialising in intensive care.
Main outcome measures Rating of factors influencing decisions on admission and response to eight hypothetical clinical scenarios.
Results Of 381 doctors agreeing to participate, 232 (61%) returned questionnaires. Most rated as important or very important the prognosis of the underlying disease (82%) and of the acute illness (81%) and the patients' wishes (71%). Few considered important the socioeconomic circumstances of the patient (2%), religious beliefs (3%), and emotional state (6%). In the vignettes, underlying disease (cancer versus non-cancerous disease) was not associated with admission to intensive care, but four other factors were: patients' wishes (odds ratio 3.0, 95% confidence interval 2.0 to 4.6), “upbeat” personality (2.9, 1.9 to 4.4), younger age (1.5, 1.1 to 2.2), and a greater number of beds available in intensive care (1.8, 1.2 to 2.5).
Conclusions Doctors' decisions to admit patients to intensive care are influenced by patients' wishes and ethically problematic non-medical factors such as a patient's personality or availability of beds. Patients with cancer are not discriminated against.
It is now common practice for doctors to consult patients by means other than face-to-face, often appearing before the patient on a computer screen. Also, many websites are using depictions of health professionals to increase the credibility of their services. Being trustworthy is an essential attribute for successful ehealth services. Little is known about which depicted accessories make a health professional appear more trustworthy.
To estimate the odds of an individual on-screen being rated trustworthy when viewed in a static image holding or wearing specific items of medical equipment.
We surveyed consecutive people attending community pharmacies to collect prescriptions in Western Australia. Respondents were presented with a series of 10 photographs, generated at random, of a man with varying numbers and combinations of medical equipment: stethoscope, reflex hammer, surgical scrubs, otoscope, and pen. They were then invited to rate the man as honest, trustworthy, honorable, moral, ethical, or genuine, or a combination of these, on the Source Credibility Scale.
A total of 168 of 250 people gave informed consent, for a participation rate of 67.2%. There were 102 female and 66 male respondents. Of the 168 respondents, 96 (57%) were born in Australia and 102 (60.7%) were attending medical practices with more than one general practitioner. The mean age of respondents was 47 (SD 16) years (range 26–92 years). When only 1 item was present in an image, the stethoscope was associated with the highest odds for the person being considered honest (odds ratio [OR] 2.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.6–4.3), trustworthy (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.4–3.8), honorable (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.6–4.5), moral (OR 2.4 95% CI 1.4–4.1), ethical (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.5–4.6), and genuine (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.0–3.1). The presence of a stethoscope increased the odds of the person being rated in a positive light in all photographs in which it was included.
When an individual is portrayed in a static image, concurrent presentation of 3 or more items of medical equipment, and especially a stethoscope, is likely to exert a positive influence on the viewers’ perceptions of the qualities of the person depicted.
Icons; semiotics; stethoscope; doctors; trustworthiness
Poor mental health literacy and negative attitudes toward individuals with mental health disorders may impede optimal help-seeking for symptoms of mental ill-health. The present study examined the ability to recognize cases of depression as a function of respondent and target gender, as well as individual psychological differences in attitudes toward persons with depression.
In a representative British general population survey, the ability to correctly recognize vignettes of depression was assessed among 1,218 adults. Respondents also rated the vignettes along a number of attitudinal dimensions and completed measures of attitudes toward seeking psychological help, psychiatric skepticism, and anti-scientific attitudes.
There were significant differences in the ability to correctly identify cases of depression as a function of respondent and target gender. Respondents were more likely to indicate that a male vignette did not suffer from a mental health disorder compared to a female vignette, and women were more likely than men to indicate that the male vignette suffered from a mental health disorder. Attitudes toward persons with depression were associated with attitudes toward seeking psychological help, psychiatric skepticism, and anti-scientific attitudes.
Initiatives that consider the impact of gender stereotypes as well as individual differences may enhance mental health literacy, which in turn is associated with improved help-seeking behaviors for symptoms of mental ill-health.