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1.  The Utility of the KELS Test in Substantiated Cases of Elder Self-neglect 
Purpose
Self-neglect is the most prevalent finding among cases reported to Adult Protective Services and is characterized by an inability to meet one’s own basic needs. The Kohlman Evaluation of Living Skills (KELS) has been validated in geriatric populations to assess performance with both instrumental (IADL) and basic activities of daily living (ADL), and as an assessment tool for the capacity to live independently, therefore, the purpose of this analysis was to compare the scores of the KELS between substantiated cases of self-neglect and matched community-dwelling elders.
Methods
This is a cross-sectional pilot study of 50 adults aged 65 years and older who were recruited from Adult Protective Services (APS) as documented cases of self-neglect and 50 control participants recruited from Harris County Hospital District outpatient clinics. Control participants were matched for age, race, gender and zip code. A geriatric nurse practitioner-led team administered a comprehensive geriatric assessment in homes of all study participants. The assessment included the KELS and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) tests. Chi-square analyses were used to determine if cases of self-neglect were significantly more likely to fail the KELS test than matched controls.
Summary of Results
The analyses revealed that self-neglectors were significantly more likely to fail the KELS than non-self-neglectors (50% vs. 30%, p=0.025). When stratified by MMSE scores, self-neglectors with intact cognitive function remained significantly more likely to fail the KELS compared to matched, cognitively intact controls (45% vs. 17%, p=0.013).
Conclusion
Abnormal results using an in-home KELS test was significantly associated with substantiated cases of self-neglect. These findings suggest that the KELS test has significant utility as part of a comprehensive geriatric assessment to aid clinicians in suspected cases of self-neglect.
Implications for Practice
There is currently no gold standard measure for identifying capacity with self-care behaviors among cases of self-neglect. As a result, self-neglect may remain unidentified in many clinical settings. The KELS provides clinicians with an objective measure of an individual’s capacity and performance with everyday life supporting tasks and thus, provides information that can help nurse practitioners identify elders at risk for self-neglect.
doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2007.00205.x
PMCID: PMC2855540  PMID: 17341281
2.  The Long-Term Health Consequences of Child Physical Abuse, Emotional Abuse, and Neglect: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):e1001349.
Rosana Norman and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the relationship between child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, and subsequent mental and physical health outcomes.
Background
Child sexual abuse is considered a modifiable risk factor for mental disorders across the life course. However the long-term consequences of other forms of child maltreatment have not yet been systematically examined. The aim of this study was to summarise the evidence relating to the possible relationship between child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect, and subsequent mental and physical health outcomes.
Methods and Findings
A systematic review was conducted using the Medline, EMBASE, and PsycINFO electronic databases up to 26 June 2012. Published cohort, cross-sectional, and case-control studies that examined non-sexual child maltreatment as a risk factor for loss of health were included. All meta-analyses were based on quality-effects models. Out of 285 articles assessed for eligibility, 124 studies satisfied the pre-determined inclusion criteria for meta-analysis. Statistically significant associations were observed between physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect and depressive disorders (physical abuse [odds ratio (OR) = 1.54; 95% CI 1.16–2.04], emotional abuse [OR = 3.06; 95% CI 2.43–3.85], and neglect [OR = 2.11; 95% CI 1.61–2.77]); drug use (physical abuse [OR = 1.92; 95% CI 1.67–2.20], emotional abuse [OR = 1.41; 95% CI 1.11–1.79], and neglect [OR = 1.36; 95% CI 1.21–1.54]); suicide attempts (physical abuse [OR = 3.40; 95% CI 2.17–5.32], emotional abuse [OR = 3.37; 95% CI 2.44–4.67], and neglect [OR = 1.95; 95% CI 1.13–3.37]); and sexually transmitted infections and risky sexual behaviour (physical abuse [OR = 1.78; 95% CI 1.50–2.10], emotional abuse [OR = 1.75; 95% CI 1.49–2.04], and neglect [OR = 1.57; 95% CI 1.39–1.78]). Evidence for causality was assessed using Bradford Hill criteria. While suggestive evidence exists for a relationship between maltreatment and chronic diseases and lifestyle risk factors, more research is required to confirm these relationships.
Conclusions
This overview of the evidence suggests a causal relationship between non-sexual child maltreatment and a range of mental disorders, drug use, suicide attempts, sexually transmitted infections, and risky sexual behaviour. All forms of child maltreatment should be considered important risks to health with a sizeable impact on major contributors to the burden of disease in all parts of the world. The awareness of the serious long-term consequences of child maltreatment should encourage better identification of those at risk and the development of effective interventions to protect children from violence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Child maltreatment—the abuse and neglect of children—is a global problem. There are four types of child maltreatment—sexual abuse (the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not understand, is unable to give consent to, or is not developmentally prepared for), physical abuse (the use of physical force that harms the child's health, survival, development, or dignity), emotional abuse (the failure to provide a supportive environment by, for example, verbally threatening the child), and neglect (the failure to provide for all aspects of the child's well-being). Most child maltreatment is perpetrated by parents or parental guardians, many of whom were maltreated themselves as children. Other risk factors for parents abusing their children include poverty, mental health problems, and alcohol and drug misuse. Although there is considerable uncertainty about the frequency and severity of child maltreatment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) about 20% of women and 5%–10% of men report being sexually abused as children, and the prevalence of physical abuse in childhood may be 25%–50%.
Why Was This Study Done?
Child maltreatment has a large public health impact. Sometimes this impact is immediate and direct (injuries and deaths), but, more often, it is long-term, affecting emotional development and overall health. For child sexual abuse, the relationship between abuse and mental disorders in adult life is well-established. Exposure to other forms of child maltreatment has also been associated with a wide range of psychological and behavioral problems, but the health consequences of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect have not been systematically examined. A better understanding of the long-term health effects of child maltreatment is needed to inform maltreatment prevention strategies and to improve treatment for children who have been abused or neglected. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers quantify the association between exposure to physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect in childhood and mental health and physical health outcomes in later life. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 124 studies that investigated the relationship between child physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect and various health outcomes. Their meta-analysis of data from these studies provides suggestive evidence that child physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect are causally linked to mental and physical health outcomes. For example, emotionally abused individuals had a three-fold higher risk of developing a depressive disorder than non-abused individuals (an odds ratio [OR] of 3.06). Physically abused and neglected individuals also had a higher risk of developing a depressive disorder than non-abused individuals (ORs of 1.54 and 2.11, respectively). Other mental health disorders associated with child physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect included anxiety disorders, drug abuse, and suicidal behavior. Individuals who had been non-sexually maltreated as children also had a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases and/or risky sexual behavior than non-maltreated individuals. Finally, there was weak and inconsistent evidence that child maltreatment increased the risk of chronic diseases and lifestyle risk factors such as smoking.
What Do These Findings Mean?
By providing suggestive evidence of a causal link between non-sexual child maltreatment and mental health disorders, drug use, suicide attempts, and sexually transmitted diseases and risky sexual behavior, these findings contribute to our understanding of the non-injury health impacts of child maltreatment. Although most of the studies included in the meta-analysis were undertaken in high-income countries, the findings suggest that this link occurs in both high- and low-to-middle-income countries. They also suggest that neglect may be as harmful as physical and emotional abuse. However, they need to be interpreted carefully because of the limitations of this meta-analysis, which include the possibility that children who have been abused may share other, unrecognized factors that are actually the cause of their later mental health problems. Importantly, this confirmation that physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect in childhood are important risk factors for a range of health problems draws attention to the need to develop evidence-based strategies for preventing child maltreatment both to reduce childhood suffering and to alleviate an important risk factor for later health problems.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001349.
The World Health Organization provides information on child maltreatment and its prevention (in several languages); Preventing Child Maltreatment: A Guide to Taking Action and Generating Evidence is a 2006 report produced by WHO and the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on child maltreatment and links to additional resources
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is a not-for-profit organization that aims to end all cruelty to children in the UK; Childline is a resource provided by the NSPCC that provides help, information, and support to children who are being abused
The Hideout is a UK-based website that helps children and young people understand domestic abuse
Childhelp is a US not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect; its website includes a selection of personal stories about child maltreatment
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001349
PMCID: PMC3507962  PMID: 23209385
3.  Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men Who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e452.
Background
Street-based heroin injectors represent an especially vulnerable population group subject to negative health outcomes and social stigma. Effective clinical treatment and public health intervention for this population requires an understanding of their cultural environment and experiences. Social science theory and methods offer tools to understand the reasons for economic and ethnic disparities that cause individual suffering and stress at the institutional level.
Methods and Findings
We used a cross-methodological approach that incorporated quantitative, clinical, and ethnographic data collected by two contemporaneous long-term San Francisco studies, one epidemiological and one ethnographic, to explore the impact of ethnicity on street-based heroin-injecting men 45 years of age or older who were self-identified as either African American or white. We triangulated our ethnographic findings by statistically examining 14 relevant epidemiological variables stratified by median age and ethnicity. We observed significant differences in social practices between self-identified African Americans and whites in our ethnographic social network sample with respect to patterns of (1) drug consumption; (2) income generation; (3) social and institutional relationships; and (4) personal health and hygiene. African Americans and whites tended to experience different structural relationships to their shared condition of addiction and poverty. Specifically, this generation of San Francisco injectors grew up as the children of poor rural to urban immigrants in an era (the late 1960s through 1970s) when industrial jobs disappeared and heroin became fashionable. This was also when violent segregated inner city youth gangs proliferated and the federal government initiated its “War on Drugs.” African Americans had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families. Most of the whites were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime. These historical-structural conditions generated distinct presentations of self. Whites styled themselves as outcasts, defeated by addiction. They professed to be injecting heroin to stave off “dopesickness” rather than to seek pleasure. African Americans, in contrast, cast their physical addiction as an oppositional pursuit of autonomy and pleasure. They considered themselves to be professional outlaws and rejected any appearance of abjection. Many, but not all, of these ethnographic findings were corroborated by our epidemiological data, highlighting the variability of behaviors within ethnic categories.
Conclusions
Bringing quantitative and qualitative methodologies and perspectives into a collaborative dialog among cross-disciplinary researchers highlights the fact that clinical practice must go beyond simple racial or cultural categories. A clinical social science approach provides insights into how sociocultural processes are mediated by historically rooted and institutionally enforced power relations. Recognizing the logical underpinnings of ethnically specific behavioral patterns of street-based injectors is the foundation for cultural competence and for successful clinical relationships. It reduces the risk of suboptimal medical care for an exceptionally vulnerable and challenging patient population. Social science approaches can also help explain larger-scale patterns of health disparities; inform new approaches to structural and institutional-level public health initiatives; and enable clinicians to take more leadership in changing public policies that have negative health consequences.
Bourgois and colleagues found that the African American and white men in their study had a different pattern of drug use and risk behaviors, adopted different strategies for survival, and had different personal histories.
Editors' Summary
Background.
There are stark differences in the health of different ethnic groups in America. For example, the life expectancy for white men is 75.4 years, but it is only 69.2 years for African-American men. The reasons behind these disparities are unclear, though there are several possible explanations. Perhaps, for example, different ethnic groups are treated differently by health professionals (with some groups receiving poorer quality health care). Or maybe the health disparities are due to differences across ethnic groups in income level (we know that richer people are healthier). These disparities are likely to persist unless we gain a better understanding of how they arise.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to study the health of a very vulnerable community of people: heroin users living on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health status of this community is extremely poor, and its members are highly stigmatized—including by health professionals themselves. The researchers wanted to know whether African American men and white men who live on the streets have a different pattern of drug use, whether they adopt varying strategies for survival, and whether they have different personal histories. Knowledge of such differences would help the health community to provide more tailored and culturally appropriate interventions. Physicians, nurses, and social workers often treat street-based drug users, especially in emergency rooms and free clinics. These health professionals regularly report that their interactions with street-based drug users are frustrating and confrontational. The researchers hoped that their study would help these professionals to have a better understanding of the cultural backgrounds and motivations of their drug-using patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Over the course of six years, the researchers directly observed about 70 men living on the streets who injected heroin as they went about their usual lives (this type of research is called “participant observation”). The researchers specifically looked to see whether there were differences between the white and African American men. All the men gave their consent to be studied in this way and to be photographed. The researchers also studied a database of interviews with almost 7,000 injection drug users conducted over five years, drawing out the data on differences between white and African men. The researchers found that the white men were more likely to supplement their heroin use with inexpensive fortified wine, while African American men were more likely to supplement heroin with crack. Most of the white men were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime, and these men tended to consider themselves as destitute outcasts. African American men had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families, and these men tended to consider themselves as professional outlaws. The white men persevered less in attempting to find a vein in which to inject heroin, and so were more likely to inject the drug directly under the skin—this meant that they were more likely to suffer from skin abscesses. The white men generated most of their income from panhandling (begging for money), while the African American men generated most of their income through petty crime and/or through offering services such as washing car windows at gas stations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Among street-based heroin users, there are important differences between white men and African American men in the type of drugs used, the method of drug use, their social backgrounds, the way in which they identify themselves, and the health risks that they take. By understanding these differences, health professionals should be better placed to provide tailored and appropriate care when these men present to clinics and emergency rooms. As the researchers say, “understanding of different ethnic populations of drug injectors may reduce difficult clinical interactions and resultant physician frustration while improving patient access and adherence to care.” One limitation of this study is that the researchers studied one specific community in one particular area of the US—so we should not assume that their findings would apply to street-based heroin users elsewhere.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030452.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a web page on HIV prevention among injection drug users
The World Health Organization has collected documents on reducing the risk of HIV in injection drug users and on harm reduction approaches
The International Harm Reduction Association has information relevant to a global audience on reducing drug-related harm among individuals and communities
US-focused information on harm reduction is available via the websites of the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Chicago Recovery Alliance
Canada-focused information can be found at the Street Works Web site
The Harm Reduction Journal publishes open-access articles
The CDC has a web page on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities
The Drug Policy Alliance has a web page on drug policy in the United States
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030452
PMCID: PMC1621100  PMID: 17076569
4.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Conclusions
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
5.  Association Between Elder Self-Neglect and Hospice Utilization in a Community Population 
Elder self-neglect is associated with substantial 1-year mortality. However, hospice utilization among those with self-neglect remain unclear. The objective of this study is to quantify the prospective relation between self-neglect and risk for hospice utilization in a community population of older adults. Prospective population-based study in a geographically-defined community in Chicago of older adults who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. Of the 8,669 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, a subset of 1,438 participants was reported to social services agency for suspected elder self-neglect. Outcome of interest was the hospice utilization obtained from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid System. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess independent association of self-neglect with risk of hospice utilization using time-varying covariate analyses. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, elders who self-neglect was associated with increased risk for hospice utilization (HR, 2.43, 95% CI, 2.10-2.81). Greater self-neglect severity (Mild: (HR, 2.12 (1.61-2.79); Moderate: (HR, 2.36 (1.95-2.84); Severe: (HR, 4.66 (2.98-7.30)) were associated with increased risk for hospice utilization. Interaction term analyses suggest that the significant relationship between self-neglect and hospice utilization was not mediated through medical conditions, cognitive impairment and physical disability. Moreover, self-neglect was associated with shorter length of stay in hospice (PE, −0.27, SE, 0.12, p<0.02) and shorter time from hospice admission to death (PE, −0.32, SE, 0.13, p<0.01). Elder self-neglect was associated with increased risk of hospice use in this community population. Elder self-neglect is associated with shorter length of stay in hospice care and shorter time from hospice admission to death.
doi:10.1016/j.archger.2012.06.008
PMCID: PMC3495081  PMID: 22770866
elder self-neglect; hospice services utilization; population-based study
6.  Socioeconomic Factors and All Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality among Older People in Latin America, India, and China: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(2):e1001179.
Cleusa Ferri and colleagues studied mortality rates in over 12,000 people aged 65 years and over in Latin America, India, and China and showed that chronic diseases are the main causes of death and that education has an important effect on mortality.
Background
Even in low and middle income countries most deaths occur in older adults. In Europe, the effects of better education and home ownership upon mortality seem to persist into old age, but these effects may not generalise to LMICs. Reliable data on causes and determinants of mortality are lacking.
Methods and Findings
The vital status of 12,373 people aged 65 y and over was determined 3–5 y after baseline survey in sites in Latin America, India, and China. We report crude and standardised mortality rates, standardized mortality ratios comparing mortality experience with that in the United States, and estimated associations with socioeconomic factors using Cox's proportional hazards regression. Cause-specific mortality fractions were estimated using the InterVA algorithm. Crude mortality rates varied from 27.3 to 70.0 per 1,000 person-years, a 3-fold variation persisting after standardisation for demographic and economic factors. Compared with the US, mortality was much higher in urban India and rural China, much lower in Peru, Venezuela, and urban Mexico, and similar in other sites. Mortality rates were higher among men, and increased with age. Adjusting for these effects, it was found that education, occupational attainment, assets, and pension receipt were all inversely associated with mortality, and food insecurity positively associated. Mutually adjusted, only education remained protective (pooled hazard ratio 0.93, 95% CI 0.89–0.98). Most deaths occurred at home, but, except in India, most individuals received medical attention during their final illness. Chronic diseases were the main causes of death, together with tuberculosis and liver disease, with stroke the leading cause in nearly all sites.
Conclusions
Education seems to have an important latent effect on mortality into late life. However, compositional differences in socioeconomic position do not explain differences in mortality between sites. Social protection for older people, and the effectiveness of health systems in preventing and treating chronic disease, may be as important as economic and human development.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, half of all deaths occur in people aged 60 or older. Yet mortality among older people is a neglected topic in global health. In high income countries, where 84% of people do not die until they are aged 65 years or older, the causes of death among older people and the factors (determinants) that affect their risk of dying are well documented. In Europe, for example, the leading causes of death among older people are heart disease, stroke, and other chronic (long-term) diseases. Moreover, as in younger age groups, having a better education and owning a house reduces the risk of death among older people. By contrast, in low and middle income countries (LMICs), where three-quarters of deaths of older people occur, reliable data on the causes and determinants of death among older people are lacking, in part because many LMICs have inadequate vital registration systems—official records of all births and deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
In many LMICs, chronic diseases are replacing communicable (infectious) diseases as the leading causes of death and disability—health experts call this the epidemiological transition (epidemiology is the study of the distribution and causes of disease in populations)—and the average age of the population is increasing (the demographic transition). Faced with these changes, which occur when countries move from a pre-industrial to an industrial economy, policy makers in LMICs need to introduce measures to improve health and reduce deaths among older people. However, to do this, they need reliable data on the causes and determinants of death in this section of the population. In this longitudinal population-based cohort study (a type of study that follows a group of people from a defined population over time), researchers from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group, which is carrying out population-based research on dementia, aging, and non-communicable diseases in LMICs, investigate the patterns of mortality among older people living in Latin America, India, and China.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2003 and 2005, the researchers completed a baseline survey of people aged 65 years or older living in six Latin American LMICs, China, and India. Three to five years later, they determined the vital status of 12,373 of the study participants (that is, they determined whether the individual was alive or dead) and interviewed a key informant (usually a relative) about each death using a standardized “verbal autopsy” questionnaire that includes questions about date and place of death, and about medical help-seeking and signs and symptoms noted during the final illness. Finally, they used a tool called the InterVA algorithm to calculate the most likely causes of death from the verbal autopsies. Crude mortality rates varied from 27.3 per 1,000 person-years in urban Peru to 70.0 per 1,000 person-years in urban India, a three-fold difference in mortality rates that persisted even after allowing for differences in age, sex, education, occupational attainment, and number of assets among the study sites. Compared to the US, mortality rates were much higher in urban India and rural China; much lower in urban and rural Peru, Venezuela, and urban Mexico; but similar elsewhere. Although several socioeconomic factors were associated with mortality, only a higher education status provided consistent independent protection against death in statistical analyses. Finally, chronic diseases were the main causes of death; stroke was the leading cause of death at all the sites except those in rural Peru and Mexico.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings identify the main causes of death among older adults in a range of LMICs and suggest that there is an association of education with mortality that extends into later life. However, these findings may not be generalizable to other LMICs or even to other sites in the LMICs studied, and because some of the information provided by key informants may have been affected by recall error, the accuracy of the findings may be limited. Nevertheless, these findings suggest how health and mortality might be improved in elderly people in LMICs. Specifically, they suggest that efforts to ensure universal access to education should confer substantial health benefits and that interventions that target social and economic vulnerability in later life and promote access to effectively organized health care (particularly for stroke) should be considered.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001179.
The World Health Organization provides information on mortality around the world and projections of global mortality up to 2030
The 10/66 Dementia Research Group is building an evidence base to inform the development and implementation of policies for improving the health and social welfare of older people in LMICs, particularly people with dementia; its website includes background information about demographic and epidemiological aging in LMICs
Wikipedia has a page on the demographic transition (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Information about the InterVA tool for interpreting verbal autopsy data is available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about healthy aging
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001179
PMCID: PMC3289608  PMID: 22389633
7.  Elder Self-Neglect and Hospitalization: Findings from the Chicago Health and Aging Project 
Objectives
The objective of this study is to quantify the relation between reported elder self-neglect and rate of hospitalization in a community population of older adults.
Design
Prospective population-based study
Setting
Geographically-defined community in Chicago.
Participants
Community-dwelling older adults who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. Of the 6,864 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, a subset of 1,165 participants was reported to social services agency for suspected elder self-neglect.
Measurements
The primary predictor was elder self-neglect reported to social services agency. Outcome of interest was the annual rate of hospitalization obtained from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid System. Poisson regression models were used to assess these longitudinal relationships.
Results
The average annual rate of hospitalization for those without elder self-neglect was 0.6 (1.3) and for those with reported elder self-neglect was 1.8 (3.2). After adjusting for sociodemographic, socioeconomic, medical commorbidities, cognitive function and physical function, elders who self-neglect had significantly higher rate of hospital utilization (RR, 1.47, 95% CI, 1.39–1.55). Greater self-neglect severity (Mild: PE=0.24, SE=0.05, p<0.001; Moderate: PE=0.45, SE=0.03, p<0.001; Severe: PE=0.54, SE=0.11, p<0.001) were associated with increased annual rates of hospital utilization, after considering same confounders. Interaction term analyses suggest that the significant relationship between self-neglect and hospitalization was not mediated through medical conditions, cognitive impairment and physical disability.
Conclusion
Reported elder self-neglect was associated with increased rates of hospitalization in this community population. Greater self-neglect severity was associated with a greater increase in the rate of hospitalization.
doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2011.03821.x
PMCID: PMC3288156  PMID: 22283642
elder self-neglect; health services utilization; population-based study
8.  Cross-Sectional Study of the Characteristics of Reported Elder Self-Neglect in a Community-Dwelling Population: Findings from a Population-Based Cohort 
Gerontology  2009;56(3):325-334.
Background
Elder self-neglect is an important public health issue. However, little is known about the characteristics of self-neglect and its association with social factors among community-dwelling populations. Objectives: (1) To examine the sociodemographic, health-related and psychosocial characteristics of reported elder self-neglect; (2) to examine the association of social network and social engagement with reported self-neglect.
Methods
Population-based study conducted from 1993 to 2005 of community-dwelling subjects (n = 9,056) participating in the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP). Subsets of the CHAP subjects (n = 1,812) were identified for suspected self-neglect by the social services agency, which also assessed the severity. This reported group was compared with the unreported group in the CHAP across the sociodemographic, health-related and psychosocial variables. Logistical regressions were used to assess the association of social factors and self-neglect.
Results
Older age, women, African-Americans, and those with lower education or lower income were more likely to be reported for self-neglect. Those reported for self-neglect were more likely to have lower levels of cognitive and physical function, nutritional status, psychosocial function and a higher number of medical comorbidities. After adjusting for confounders, lower levels of social network and social engagement were significantly associated with an increased risk of reported self-neglect. Among the reported cases of self-neglect, the study found increased trends of older age, women, African-American, lower income, lower cognitive and physical function, lower social engagement and a higher number of chronic medical conditions with self-neglect severity.
Conclusion
Reported self-neglect elders have multiple sociodemographic, health-related and psychosocial characteristics that are different than elders not reported. Lower levels of social network and social engagement were associated with increased risk of self-neglect.
doi:10.1159/000243164
PMCID: PMC2865493  PMID: 19786733
Self-neglect; Social network; Social engagement; Aging; Elderly; Cross-sectional study; Population-based study
9.  Assessing capacity in suspected cases of self-neglect 
Geriatrics  2008;63(2):24-31.
Self-neglect is a serious and burgeoning public health challenge representing the most common problem faced by Adult Protective Services agencies. Among older adults who are vulnerable to self-neglect, the capacity to make decisions may remain intact. However, the capacity to identify and extract oneself from harmful situations, circumstances, or relationships may be diminished. A key ethical and clinical branch point in identifying older adults at risk for self-neglect involves determining whether the individual can both make and implement decisions regarding personal needs, health, and safety. The Articulate Demonstrate method is a practical and efficient way to screen capacity in the setting of suspected self-neglect. Once self-neglect has been identified, common clinical interventions can be targeted to the diagnosed deficits that foster vulnerability to neglect in older adults.
PMCID: PMC2847362  PMID: 18312020
elder abuse and neglect; self-neglect; capacity; geriatric assessment
10.  Late middle-aged and older men living with HIV/AIDS: race differences in coping, social support, and psychological distress. 
Although AIDS mental health research has recently devoted more attention to the psychosocial needs of older adults living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, studies of this population have typically combined older African-American and white participants into one large sample, thereby neglecting potential race differences. The current study examined race differences in stressor burden, ways of coping, social support, and psychological distress among late middle-aged and older men living with HIV/AIDS. Self-administered surveys were completed by 72 men living with HIV/AIDS in New York City and Milwaukee, WI (mean age = 53.4 years). Older African-American and white men experienced comparable levels of stress associated with AIDS-related discrimination, AIDS-related bereavement, financial dilemmas, lack of information and support, relationship difficulties, and domestic problems. However, in responses to these stressors, older African-American men more frequently engaged in adaptive coping strategies, such as greater positive reappraisal and a stronger resolve that their future would be better. Compared to their African-American counterparts, HIV-infected older white men reported elevated levels of depression, anxiety, interpersonal hostility, and somatization. African-American men also received more support from family members and were less likely to disclose their HIV serostatus to close friends. As AIDS becomes more common among older adults, mental health-interventions will increasingly be needed for this group. The development of intervention programs for this group should pay close attention to race-related differences in sociodemographic, psychosocial, and behavioral characteristics.
PMCID: PMC2608530  PMID: 11052457
11.  Prospective Study of the Elder Self-Neglect and Emergency Department Use in a Community Population 
Purpose
This study aims to quantify the relation between elder self-neglect and rate of emergency department utilization in a community-dwelling population.
Methods
A prospective population-based study is conducted in a geographically-defined community in Chicago of community-dwelling older adults who participated in the Chicago Health and Aging Project. Of the 6,864 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project, 1,165 participants were reported to social services agency for suspected elder self-neglect. The primary predictor was elder self-neglect reported to social services agency. The outcome of interest was the annual rate of emergency department utilization obtained from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Poisson regression models were used to assess these longitudinal relationships.
Results
The average annual rate of emergency department visits for those without elder self-neglect was 0.6 (1.3) and for those with reported elder self-neglect was 1.9 (3.4). After adjusting for sociodemographics, socioeconomic variables, medical conditions, cognitive and physical function, elders who self-neglect had significantly higher rates of emergency department utilization (RR, 1.42, 95% CI, 1.29–1.58). Greater self-neglect severity (Mild: PE=0.27, SE=0.04, p<0.001; Moderate: PE=0.41, SE=0.03, p<0.001; Severe: PE=0.55, SE=0.09, p<0.001) was associated with increased rates of emergency department utilization, after considering the same confounders.
Conclusion
Elder self-neglect was associated with increased rates of emergency department utilization in this community population. Greater self-neglect severity was associated with a greater increase in the rate of emergency department utilization.
doi:10.1016/j.ajem.2011.02.008
PMCID: PMC3131483  PMID: 21411263
elder self-neglect; emergency department utilization; population-based study
12.  Physician Emigration from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States: Analysis of the 2011 AMA Physician Masterfile 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001513.
Siankam Tankwanchi and colleagues used the AMA Physician Masterfile and the WHO Global Health Workforce Statistics on physicians in sub-Saharan Africa to determine trends in physician emigration to the United States.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The large-scale emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to high-income nations is a serious development concern. Our objective was to determine current emigration trends of SSA physicians found in the physician workforce of the United States.
Methods and Findings
We analyzed physician data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics along with graduation and residency data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) on physicians trained or born in SSA countries who currently practice in the US. We estimated emigration proportions, year of US entry, years of practice before emigration, and length of time in the US. According to the 2011 AMA-PM, 10,819 physicians were born or trained in 28 SSA countries. Sixty-eight percent (n = 7,370) were SSA-trained, 20% (n = 2,126) were US-trained, and 12% (n = 1,323) were trained outside both SSA and the US. We estimated active physicians (age ≤70 years) to represent 96% (n = 10,377) of the total. Migration trends among SSA-trained physicians increased from 2002 to 2011 for all but one principal source country; the exception was South Africa whose physician migration to the US decreased by 8% (−156). The increase in last-decade migration was >50% in Nigeria (+1,113) and Ghana (+243), >100% in Ethiopia (+274), and >200% (+244) in Sudan. Liberia was the most affected by migration to the US with 77% (n = 175) of its estimated physicians in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, SSA-trained physicians have been in the US for 18 years. They practiced for 6.5 years before US entry, and nearly half emigrated during the implementation years (1984–1999) of the structural adjustment programs.
Conclusion
Physician emigration from SSA to the US is increasing for most SSA source countries. Unless far-reaching policies are implemented by the US and SSA countries, the current emigration trends will persist, and the US will remain a leading destination for SSA physicians emigrating from the continent of greatest need.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Population growth and aging and increasingly complex health care interventions, as well as existing policies and market forces, mean that many countries are facing a shortage of health care professionals. High-income countries are addressing this problem in part by encouraging the immigration of foreign health care professionals from low- and middle-income countries. In the US, for example, international medical graduates (IMGs) can secure visas and permanent residency by passing examinations provided by the Educational Commission of Foreign Medical Graduates and by agreeing to provide care in areas that are underserved by US physicians. Inevitably, the emigration of physicians from low- and middle-income countries undermines health service delivery in the emigrating physicians' country of origin because physician supply is already inadequate in those countries. Physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa, which has only 2% of the global physician workforce but a quarter of the global burden of disease, is particularly worrying. Since 1970, as a result of large-scale emigration and limited medical education, there has been negligible or negative growth in the density of physicians in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Liberia, for example, in 1973, there were 7.76 physicians per 100,000 people but by 2008 there were only 1.37 physicians per 100,000 people; in the US, there are 250 physicians per 100,000 people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before policy proposals can be formulated to address global inequities in physician distribution, a clear picture of the patterns of physician emigration from resource-limited countries is needed. In this study, the researchers use data from the 2011 American Medical Association Physician Masterfile (AMA-PM) to investigate the “brain drain” of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa to the US. The AMA-PM collects annual demographic, academic, and professional data on all residents (physicians undergoing training in a medical specialty) and licensed physicians who practice in the US.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Health Workforce Statistics and graduation and residency data from the 2011 AMA-PM to estimate physician emigration rates from sub-Saharan African countries, year of US entry, years of service provided before emigration to the US, and length of time in the US. There were 10,819 physicians who were born or trained in 28 sub-Saharan African countries in the 2011 AMA-PM. By using a published analysis of the 2002 AMA-PM, the researchers estimated that US immigration among sub-Saharan African-trained physicians had increased over the past decade for all the countries examined except South Africa, where physician emigration had decreased by 8%. Overall, the number of sub-Saharan African IMGs in the US had increased by 38% since 2002. More than half of this increase was accounted for by Nigerian IMGs. Liberia was the country most affected by migration of its physicians to the US—77% of its estimated 226 physicians were in the 2011 AMA-PM. On average, sub-Saharan African IMGs had been in the US for 18 years and had practiced for 6.5 years before emigration. Finally, nearly half of the sub-Saharan African IMGs had migrated to US between 1984 and 1995, years during which structural adjustment programs, which resulted in deep cuts to public health care services, were implemented in developing countries by international financial institutions as conditions for refinancing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the sub-Saharan African IMGs in the 2011 AMA-PM only represent about 1% of all the physicians and less than 5% of the IMGs in the AMA-PM, these findings reveal a major loss of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa. They also suggest that emigration of physicians from sub-Saharan Africa is a growing problem and is likely to continue unless job satisfaction for physicians is improved in their country of origin. Moreover, because the AMA-PM only lists physicians who qualify for a US residency position, more physicians may have moved from sub-Saharan Africa to the US than reported here and may be working in other jobs incommensurate with their medical degrees (“brain waste”). The researchers suggest that physician emigration from sub-Saharan Africa to the US reflects the complexities in the labor markets for health care professionals in both Africa and the US and can be seen as low- and middle-income nations subsidizing the education of physicians in high-income countries. Policy proposals to address global inequities in physician distribution will therefore need both to encourage the recruitment, training, and retention of health care professionals in resource-limited countries and to persuade high-income countries to train more home-grown physicians to meet the needs of their own populations.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513.
The Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research is a non-profit foundation committed to improving world health through education that was established in 2000 by the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates
The Global Health Workforce Alliance is a partnership of national governments, civil society, international agencies, finance institutions, researchers, educators, and professional associations dedicated to identifying, implementing and advocating for solutions to the chronic global shortage of health care professionals (available in several languages)
Information on the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile and the providers of physician data lists is available via the American Medical Associations website
The World Health Organization (WHO) annual World Health Statistics reports present the most recent health statistics for the WHO Member States
The Medical Education Partnership Initiative is a US-sponsored initiative that supports medical education and research in sub-Saharan African institutions, aiming to increase the quantity, quality, and retention of graduates with specific skills addressing the health needs of their national populations
CapacityPlus is the USAID-funded global project uniquely focused on the health workforce needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
Seed Global Health cultivates the next generation of health professionals by allying medical and nursing volunteers with their peers in resource-limited settings
"America is Stealing the Worlds Doctors", a 2012 New York Times article by Matt McAllester, describes the personal experience of a young doctor who emigrated from Zambia to the US
Path to United States Practice Is Long Slog to Foreign Doctors, a 2013 New York Times article by Catherine Rampell, describes the hurdles that immigrant physicians face in practicing in the US
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001513
PMCID: PMC3775724  PMID: 24068894
13.  A Prospective Population-Based Study of Differences in Elder Self-Neglect and Mortality Between Black and White Older Adults 
Background.
Self-neglect is the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his or her own health and safety, and it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Although report of self-neglect is more common among black older adults, the racial/ethnic differences in mortality remain unclear.
Methods.
The Chicago Healthy Aging Project is a population-based cohort study conducted from 1993 to 2005. A subset of these participants were suspected to self-neglect and were reported to a social services agency. Mortality was ascertained during follow-up and from the National Death Index. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the mortality risk.
Results.
In the total cohort, there were 5,963 black and 3,475 white older adults, and of these, 1,479 were reported for self-neglect (21.7% in black and 5.3% in white older adults). In multivariable analyses with extensive adjustments, the interaction term indicated that impact of self-neglect on mortality was significantly stronger in black than in white older adults (parameter estimate, 0.54, SE, 0.14, p < .001). This difference persisted over time. In race/ethnicity-stratified analyses, at 6 months after report of self-neglect, the hazard ratio for black older adults was 5.00 (95% confidence interval, 4.47–5.59) and for white older adults was 2.75 (95% confidence interval, 2.19–3.44). At 3 years after report, the hazard ratios were 2.61 (95% confidence interval, 2.25–3.04) and 1.47 (95% confidence interval, 1.10–1.96) for black older adults and white older adults, respectively.
Conclusions.
Future studies are needed to qualify the casual mechanisms between self-neglect and mortality in black and white older adults in order to devise targeted prevention and intervention strategies.
doi:10.1093/gerona/glr053
PMCID: PMC3110911  PMID: 21498840
Self-neglect; Health disparity; Population-based study; Race/ethnicity; Mortality
14.  Behavioural Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes 
Executive Summary
In June 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Diabetes Strategy Evidence Project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding strategies for successful management and treatment of diabetes. This project came about when the Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the Ministry’s newly released Diabetes Strategy.
After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified five key areas in which evidence was needed. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these five areas: insulin pumps, behavioural interventions, bariatric surgery, home telemonitoring, and community based care. For each area, an economic analysis was completed where appropriate and is described in a separate report.
To review these titles within the Diabetes Strategy Evidence series, please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site, http://www.health.gov.on.ca/english/providers/program/mas/mas_about.html,
Diabetes Strategy Evidence Platform: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion Pumps for Type 1 and Type 2 Adult Diabetics: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Bariatric Surgery for People with Diabetes and Morbid Obesity: An Evidence-Based Summary
Community-Based Care for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telemonitoring for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Application of the Ontario Diabetes Economic Model (ODEM) to Determine the Cost-effectiveness and Budget Impact of Selected Type 2 Diabetes Interventions in Ontario
Objective
The objective of this report is to determine whether behavioural interventions1 are effective in improving glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes.
Background
Diabetes is a serious chronic condition affecting millions of people worldwide and is the sixth leading cause of death in Canada. In 2005, an estimated 8.8% of Ontario’s population had diabetes, representing more than 816,000 Ontarians. The direct health care cost of diabetes was $1.76 billion in the year 2000 and is projected to rise to a total cost of $3.14 billion by 2016. Much of this cost arises from the serious long-term complications associated with the disease including: coronary heart disease, stroke, adult blindness, limb amputations and kidney disease.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90–95% of diabetes and while type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in people aged 40 years and older, prevalence in younger populations is increasing due to a rise in obesity and physical inactivity in children.
Data from the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) has shown that tight glycemic control can significantly reduce the risk of developing serious complications in type 2 diabetics. Despite physicians’ and patients’ knowledge of the importance of glycemic control, Canadian data has shown that only 38% of patients with diabetes have HbA1C levels in the optimal range of 7% or less. This statistic highlights the complexities involved in the management of diabetes, which is characterized by extensive patient involvement in addition to the support provided by physicians. An enormous demand is, therefore, placed on patients to self-manage the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of living with a chronic illness.
Despite differences in individual needs to cope with diabetes, there is general agreement for the necessity of supportive programs for patient self-management. While traditional programs were didactic models with the goal of improving patients’ knowledge of their disease, current models focus on behavioural approaches aimed at providing patients with the skills and strategies required to promote and change their behaviour.
Several meta-analyses and systematic reviews have demonstrated improved health outcomes with self-management support programs in type 2 diabetics. They have all, however, either looked at a specific component of self-management support programs (i.e. self-management education) or have been conducted in specific populations. Most reviews are also qualitative and do not clearly define the interventions of interest, making findings difficult to interpret. Moreover, heterogeneity in the interventions has led to conflicting evidence on the components of effective programs. There is thus much uncertainty regarding the optimal design and delivery of these programs by policymakers.
Evidence-Based Analysis of Effectiveness
Research Questions
Are behavioural interventions effective in improving glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes?
Is the effectiveness of the intervention impacted by intervention characteristics (e.g. delivery of intervention, length of intervention, mode of instruction, interventionist etc.)?
Inclusion Criteria
English Language
Published between January 1996 to August 2008
Type 2 diabetic adult population (>18 years)
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs)
Systematic reviews, or meta-analyses
Describing a multi-faceted self-management support intervention as defined by the 2007 Self-Management Mapping Guide (1)
Reporting outcomes of glycemic control (HbA1c) with extractable data
Studies with a minimum of 6-month follow up
Exclusion Criteria
Studies with a control group other than usual care
Studies with a sample size <30
Studies without a clearly defined intervention
Outcomes of Interest
Primary outcome: glycemic control (HbA1c)
Secondary outcomes: systolic blood pressure (SBP) control, lipid control, change in smoking status, weight change, quality of life, knowledge, self-efficacy, managing psychosocial aspects of diabetes, assessing dissatisfaction and readiness to change, and setting and achieving diabetes goals.
Search Strategy
A search was performed in OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published between January 1996 and August 2008. Abstracts were reviewed by a single author and studies meeting the inclusion criteria outlined above were obtained. Data on population characteristics, glycemic control outcomes, and study design were extracted. Reference lists were also checked for relevant studies. The quality of the evidence was assessed as being either high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology.
Summary of Findings
The search identified 638 citations published between 1996 and August 2008, of which 12 met the inclusion criteria and one was a meta-analysis (Gary et al. 2003). The remaining 11 studies were RCTs (9 were used in the meta-analysis) and only one was defined as small (total sample size N=47).
Summary of Participant Demographics across studies
A total of 2,549 participants were included in the 11 identified studies. The mean age of participants reported was approximately 58 years and the mean duration of diabetes was approximately 6 years. Most studies reported gender with a mean percentage of females of approximately 67%. Of the eleven studies, two focused only on women and four included only Hispanic individuals. All studies evaluated type 2 diabetes patients exclusively.
Study Characteristics
The studies were conducted between 2002 and 2008. Approximately six of 11 studies were carried out within the USA, with the remaining studies conducted in the UK, Sweden, and Israel (sample size ranged from 47 to 824 participants). The quality of the studies ranged from moderate to low with four of the studies being of moderate quality and the remaining seven of low quality (based on the Consort Checklist). Differences in quality were mainly due to methodological issues such as inadequate description of randomization, sample size calculation allocation concealment, blinding and uncertainty of the use of intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis. Patients were recruited from several settings: six studies from primary or general medical practices, three studies from the community (e.g. via advertisements), and two from outpatient diabetes clinics. A usual care control group was reported in nine of 11 of the studies and two studies reported some type of minimal diabetes care in addition to usual care for the control group.
Intervention Characteristics
All of the interventions examined in the studies were mapped to the 2007 Self-management Mapping Guide. The interventions most often focused on problem solving, goal setting and encouraging participants to engage in activities that protect and promote health (e.g. modifying behaviour, change in diet, and increase physical activity). All of the studies examined comprehensive interventions targeted at least two self-care topics (e.g. diet, physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, foot care, etc.). Despite the homogeneity in the aims of the interventions, there was substantial clinical heterogeneity in other intervention characteristics such as duration, intensity, setting, mode of delivery (group vs. individual), interventionist, and outcomes of interest (discussed below).
Duration, Intensity and Mode of Delivery
Intervention durations ranged from 2 days to 1 year, with many falling into the range of 6 to 10 weeks. The rest of the interventions fell into categories of ≤ 2 weeks (2 studies), 6 months (2 studies), or 1 year (3 studies). Intensity of the interventions varied widely from 6 hours over 2 days, to 52 hours over 1 year; however, the majority consisted of interventions of 6 to 15 hours. Both individual and group sessions were used to deliver interventions. Group counselling was used in five studies as a mode of instruction, three studies used both individual and group sessions, and one study used individual sessions as its sole mode of instruction. Three studies also incorporated the use of telephone support as part of the intervention.
Interventionists and Setting
The following interventionists were reported (highest to lowest percentage, categories not mutually exclusive): nurse (36%), dietician (18%), physician (9%), pharmacist (9%), peer leader/community worker (18%), and other (36%). The ‘other’ category included interventionists such as consultants and facilitators with unspecified professional backgrounds. The setting of most interventions was community-based (seven studies), followed by primary care practices (three studies). One study described an intervention conducted in a pharmacy setting.
Outcomes
Duration of follow up of the studies ranged from 6 months to 8 years with a median follow-up duration of 12 months. Nine studies followed up patients at a minimum of two time points. Despite clear reporting of outcomes at follow up time points, there was poor reporting on whether the follow up was measured from participant entry into study or from end of intervention. All studies reported measures of glycemic control, specifically HbA1c levels. BMI was measured in five studies, while body weight was reported in two studies. Cholesterol was examined in three studies and blood pressure reduction in two. Smoking status was only examined in one of the studies. Additional outcomes examined in the trials included patient satisfaction, quality of life, diabetes knowledge, diabetes medication reduction, and behaviour modification (i.e. daily consumption of fruits/vegetables, exercise etc). Meta-analysis of the studies identified a moderate but significant reduction in HbA1c levels -0.44% 95%CI: -0.60, -0.29) for behavioural interventions in comparison to usual care for adults with type 2 diabetes. Subgroup analyses suggested the largest effects in interventions which were of at least duration and interventions in diabetics with higher baseline HbA1c (≥9.0). The quality of the evidence according to GRADE for the overall estimate was moderate and the quality of evidence for the subgroup analyses was identified as low.
Summary of Meta-Analysis of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Behavioural Interventions on HbA1c in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.
Based on one study
Conclusions
Based on moderate quality evidence, behavioural interventions as defined by the 2007 Self-management mapping guide (Government of Victoria, Australia) produce a moderate reduction in HbA1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes compared with usual care.
Based on low quality evidence, the interventions with the largest effects are those:
- in diabetics with higher baseline HbA1c (≥9.0)
- in which the interventions were of at least 1 year in duration
PMCID: PMC3377516  PMID: 23074526
15.  Low-Dose Adrenaline, Promethazine, and Hydrocortisone in the Prevention of Acute Adverse Reactions to Antivenom following Snakebite: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1000435.
In a factorial randomized trial conducted in Sri Lanka, de Silva and colleagues evaluate the safety and efficacy of pretreatments intended to reduce the risk of serious reactions to antivenom following snakebite.
Background
Envenoming from snakebites is most effectively treated by antivenom. However, the antivenom available in South Asian countries commonly causes acute allergic reactions, anaphylactic reactions being particularly serious. We investigated whether adrenaline, promethazine, and hydrocortisone prevent such reactions in secondary referral hospitals in Sri Lanka by conducting a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial.
Methods and Findings
In total, 1,007 patients were randomized, using a 2×2×2 factorial design, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of adrenaline (0.25 ml of a 1∶1,000 solution subcutaneously), promethazine (25 mg intravenously), and hydrocortisone (200 mg intravenously), each alone and in all possible combinations. The interventions, or matching placebo, were given immediately before infusion of antivenom. Patients were monitored for mild, moderate, or severe adverse reactions for at least 96 h. The prespecified primary end point was the effect of the interventions on the incidence of severe reactions up to and including 48 h after antivenom administration. In total, 752 (75%) patients had acute reactions to antivenom: 9% mild, 48% moderate, and 43% severe; 89% of the reactions occurred within 1 h; and 40% of all patients were given rescue medication (adrenaline, promethazine, and hydrocortisone) during the first hour. Compared with placebo, adrenaline significantly reduced severe reactions to antivenom by 43% (95% CI 25–67) at 1 h and by 38% (95% CI 26–49) up to and including 48 h after antivenom administration; hydrocortisone and promethazine did not. Adding hydrocortisone negated the benefit of adrenaline.
Conclusions
Pretreatment with low-dose adrenaline was safe and reduced the risk of acute severe reactions to snake antivenom. This may be of particular importance in countries where adverse reactions to antivenom are common, although the need to improve the quality of available antivenom cannot be overemphasized.
Trial registration
www.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00270777
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Of the 3,000 or so snake species in the world, about 600 are venomous. Venomous snakes, which are particularly common in equatorial and tropical regions, immobilize their prey by injecting modified saliva (venom) into their prey's tissues through their fangs—specialized hollow teeth. Snakes also use their venoms for self-defense and will bite people who threaten, startle, or provoke them. A bite from a highly venomous snake such as a pit viper or cobra can cause widespread bleeding, muscle paralysis, irreversible kidney damage, and tissue destruction (necrosis) around the bite site. All these effects of snakebite are potentially fatal; necrosis can also result in amputation and permanent disability. It is hard to get accurate estimates of the number of people affected by snakebite, but there may be about 2 million envenomings (injections of venom) and 100,000 deaths every year, many of them in rural areas of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Why Was This Study Done?
The best treatment for snakebite is to give antivenom (a mixture of antibodies that neutralize the venom) as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in countries where snakebites are common (for example, Sri Lanka), antivenoms are often of dubious quality, and acute allergic reactions to them frequently occur. Although some of these reactions are mild (for example, rashes), in up to 40% of cases, anaphylaxis—a potentially fatal, whole-body allergic reaction—develops. The major symptoms of anaphylaxis—a sudden drop in blood pressure and breathing difficulties caused by swelling of the airways—can be treated with adrenaline. Injections of antihistamines (for example, promethazine) and hydrocortisone can also help. In an effort to prevent anaphylaxis, these drugs are also widely given before antivenom, but there is little evidence that such “prophylactic” treatment is effective or safe. In this randomized double-blind controlled trial (RCT), the researchers test whether low-dose adrenaline, promethazine, and/or hydrocortisone can prevent acute adverse reactions to antivenom. In an RCT, the effects of various interventions are compared to a placebo (dummy) in groups of randomly chosen patients; neither the patients nor the people caring for them know who is receiving which treatment until the trial is completed.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomized 1,007 patients who had been admitted to secondary referral hospitals in Sri Lanka after snakebite to receive low-dose adrenaline, promethazine, hydrocortisone, or placebo alone and in all possible combinations immediately before treatment with antivenom. The patients were monitored for at least 96 hours for adverse reactions to the antivenom; patients who reacted badly were given adrenaline, promethazine, and hydrocortisone as “rescue medication.” Three-quarters of the patients had acute reactions—mostly moderate or severe—to the antivenom. Most of the acute reactions occurred within an hour of receiving the antivenom, and nearly half of all the patients were given rescue medication during the first hour. Compared with placebo, pretreatment with adrenaline reduced severe reactions to the antivenom by 43% at one hour and by 38% over 48 hours. By contrast, neither hydrocortisone nor promethazine given alone reduced the rate of adverse reactions to the antivenom. Moreover, adding hydrocortisone negated the beneficial effect of adrenaline.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that pretreatment with low-dose adrenaline is safe and reduces the risk of acute severe reactions to snake antivenom, particularly during the first hour after infusion. They do not provide support for pretreatment with promethazine or hydrocortisone, however. Indeed, the findings suggest that the addition of hydrocortisone could negate the benefits of adrenaline, although this finding needs to be treated with caution because of the design of the trial, as does the observed increased risk of death associated with pretreatment with hydrocortisone. More generally, the high rate of acute adverse reactions to antivenom in this trial highlights the importance of improving the quality of antivenoms available in Sri Lanka and other parts of South Asia. The researchers note that the recent World Health Organization guidelines on production, control, and regulation of antivenom should help in this regard but stress that, for now, it is imperative that physicians carefully monitor patients who have been given antivenom and provide prompt treatment of acute reactions when they occur.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000435.
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on snakebite and on anaphylaxis (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also has pages on snakebite and on anaphylaxis
The World Health Organization has information on snakebite and on snake antivenoms (in several languages); its Guidelines for the Production, Control and Regulation of Snake Antivenom Immunoglobulins are also available
The Global Snakebite Initiative has information on snakebite
A PLoS Medicine Research Article by Anuradhani Kasturiratne and colleagues provides data on the global burden of snakebite
A PLoS Medicine Neglected Diseases Article by José María Gutiérrez and colleagues discusses the neglected problem of snakebite envenoming
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000435
PMCID: PMC3091849  PMID: 21572992
16.  Exploring Self-neglect in Older Adults: Preliminary Findings of the Self-Neglect Severity Scale and Next Steps 
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society  2008;56(Suppl 2):S253-S260.
Despite the public health implications of self-neglect, no tool exists for characterizing this condition. Self-neglecters often have no caregivers or surrogates to interview regarding the neglect, and are often too cognitively impaired to provide valid self-reports. In response to this need, researchers from the Consortium for Research in Elder Self-neglect of Texas (CREST), collaborated with other experts in the field of elder self-neglect to design the Self-neglect Severity Scale (SSS). The SSS assesses three domains of self-neglect: hygiene, functioning, and environment and relies on observational ratings assigned by trained observers. Following pilot testing and revision, the SSS was field tested in the homes of subjects who had been reported to and substantiated by Texas Adult Protective Services (APS) as self-neglecting, and compared to subjects recruited from a local geriatric clinic who were reported to APS and who had no history of self-neglect.
The first field test demonstrated that the SSS could distinguish elder self-neglecters from community dwellers that do not self-neglect. The SSS exhibited adequate scale reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) and correlation with case status. Interrater reliability also appeared adequate although sensitivity and specificity fell below the conventional acceptable range. Future methods are proposed for refining the SSS to improve its use as the benchmark for identifying elder self-neglect.
doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01977.x
PMCID: PMC2743305  PMID: 19016968
screening; self-neglect; environment
17.  Patient neglect in healthcare institutions: a systematic review and conceptual model 
Background
Patient neglect is an issue of increasing public concern in Europe and North America, yet remains poorly understood. This is the first systematic review on the nature, frequency and causes of patient neglect as distinct from patient safety topics such as medical error.
Method
The Pubmed, Science Direct, and Medline databases were searched in order to identify research studies investigating patient neglect. Ten articles and four government reports met the inclusion criteria of reporting primary data on the occurrence or causes of patient neglect. Qualitative and quantitative data extraction investigated (1) the definition of patient neglect, (2) the forms of behaviour associated with neglect, (3) the reported frequency of neglect, and (4) the causes of neglect.
Results
Patient neglect is found to have two aspects. First, procedure neglect, which refers to failures of healthcare staff to achieve objective standards of care. Second, caring neglect, which refers to behaviours that lead patients and observers to believe that staff have uncaring attitudes. The perceived frequency of neglectful behaviour varies by observer. Patients and their family members are more likely to report neglect than healthcare staff, and nurses are more likely to report on the neglectful behaviours of other nurses than on their own behaviour. The causes of patient neglect frequently relate to organisational factors (e.g. high workloads that constrain the behaviours of healthcare staff, burnout), and the relationship between carers and patients.
Conclusion
A social psychology-based conceptual model is developed to explain the occurrence and nature of patient neglect. This model will facilitate investigations of i) differences between patients and healthcare staff in how they perceive neglect, ii) the association with patient neglect and health outcomes, iii) the relative importance of system and organisational factors in causing neglect, and iv) the design of interventions and health policy to reduce patient neglect.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-156
PMCID: PMC3660245  PMID: 23631468
Neglect; Patient safety; Caring; Organisational culture; Systematic review
18.  Bariatric Surgery 
Executive Summary
Objective
To conduct an evidence-based analysis of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery.
Background
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of at last 30 kg/m2.1 Morbid obesity is defined as a BMI of at least 40 kg/m2 or at least 35 kg/m2 with comorbid conditions. Comorbid conditions associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemias, obstructive sleep apnea, weight-related arthropathies, and stress urinary incontinence. It is also associated with depression, and cancers of the breast, uterus, prostate, and colon, and is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Obesity is also associated with higher all-cause mortality at any age, even after adjusting for potential confounding factors like smoking. A person with a BMI of 30 kg/m2 has about a 50% higher risk of dying than does someone with a healthy BMI. The risk more than doubles at a BMI of 35 kg/m2. An expert estimated that about 160,000 people are morbidly obese in Ontario. In the United States, the prevalence of morbid obesity is 4.7% (1999–2000).
In Ontario, the 2004 Chief Medical Officer of Health Report said that in 2003, almost one-half of Ontario adults were overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) or obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). About 57% of Ontario men and 42% of Ontario women were overweight or obese. The proportion of the population that was overweight or obese increased gradually from 44% in 1990 to 49% in 2000, and it appears to have stabilized at 49% in 2003. The report also noted that the tendency to be overweight and obese increases with age up to 64 years. BMI should be used cautiously for people aged 65 years and older, because the “normal” range may begin at slightly above 18.5 kg/m2 and extend into the “overweight” range.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health cautioned that these data may underestimate the true extent of the problem, because they were based on self reports, and people tend to over-report their height and under-report their weight. The actual number of Ontario adults who are overweight or obese may be higher.
Diet, exercise, and behavioural therapy are used to help people lose weight. The goals of behavioural therapy are to identify, monitor, and alter behaviour that does not help weight loss. Techniques include self-monitoring of eating habits and physical activity, stress management, stimulus control, problem solving, cognitive restructuring, contingency management, and identifying and using social support. Relapse, when people resume old, unhealthy behaviour and then regain the weight, can be problematic.
Drugs (including gastrointestinal lipase inhibitors, serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and appetite suppressants) may be used if behavioural interventions fail. However, estimates of efficacy may be confounded by high rates of noncompliance, in part owing to the side effects of the drugs. In addition, the drugs have not been approved for indefinite use, despite the chronic nature of obesity.
The Technology
Morbidly obese people may be eligible for bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery for morbid obesity is considered an intervention of last resort for patients who have attempted first-line forms of medical management, such as diet, increased physical activity, behavioural modification, and drugs.
There are various bariatric surgical procedures and several different variations for each of these procedures. The surgical interventions can be divided into 2 general types: malabsorptive (bypassing parts of the gastrointestinal tract to limit the absorption of food), and restrictive (decreasing the size of the stomach so that the patient is satiated with less food). All of these may be performed as either open surgery or laparoscopically. An example of a malabsorptive technique is Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB). Examples of restrictive techniques are vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG) and adjustable gastric banding (AGB).
The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) Schedule of Benefits for Physician Services includes fee code “S120 gastric bypass or partition, for morbid obesity” as an insured service. The term gastric bypass is a general term that encompasses a variety of surgical methods, all of which involve reconfiguring the digestive system. The term gastric bypass does not include AGB. The number of gastric bypass procedures funded and done in Ontario, and funded as actual out-of-country approvals,2 is shown below.
Number of Gastric Bypass Procedures by Fiscal Year: Ontario and Actual Out-of-Country (OOC) Approvals
Data from Provider Services, MOHLTC
Courtesy of Provider Services, Ministry of Health and Long Term Care
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery to treat morbid obesity. It used its standard search strategy to retrieve international health technology assessments and English-language journal articles from selected databases. The interventions of interest were bariatric surgery and, for the controls, either optimal conventional management or another type of bariatric procedure. The outcomes of interest were improvement in comorbid conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension); short- and long-term weight loss; quality of life; adverse effects; and economic analysis data. The databases yielded 15 international health technology assessments or systematic reviews on bariatric surgery.
Subsequently, the Medical Advisory Secretariat searched MEDLINE and EMBASE from April 2004 to December 2004, after the search cut-off date of April, 2004, for the most recent systematic reviews on bariatric surgery. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. One of those 10 was the Swedish Obese Subjects study, which started as a registry and intervention study, and then published findings on people who had been enrolled for at least 2 years or at least 10 years. In addition to the literature review of economic analysis data, the Medical Advisory Secretariat also did an Ontario-based economic analysis.
Summary of Findings
Bariatric surgery generally is effective for sustained weight loss of about 16% for people with BMIs of at least 40 kg/m2 or at least 35 kg/m2 with comorbid conditions (including diabetes, high lipid levels, and hypertension). It also is effective at resolving the associated comorbid conditions. This conclusion is largely based on level 3a evidence from the prospectively designed Swedish Obese Subjects study, which recently published 10-year outcomes for patients who had bariatric surgery compared with patients who received nonsurgical treatment. (1)
Regarding specific procedures, there is evidence that malabsorptive techniques are better than other banding techniques for weight loss and resolution of comorbid illnesses. However, there are no published prospective, long-term, direct comparisons of these techniques available.
Surgery for morbid obesity is considered an intervention of last resort for patients who have attempted first-line forms of medical management, such as diet, increased physical activity, behavioural modification, and drugs. In the absence of direct comparisons of active nonsurgical intervention via caloric restriction with bariatric techniques, the following observations are made:
A recent systematic review examining the efficacy of major commercial and organized self-help weight loss programs in the United States concluded that the evidence to support the use of such programs was suboptimal, except for one trial on Weight Watchers. Furthermore, the programs were associated with high costs, attrition rates, and probability of regaining at least 50% of the lost weight in 1 to 2 years. (2)
A recent randomized controlled trial reported 1-year outcomes comparing weight loss and metabolic changes in severely obese patients assigned to either a low-carbohydrate diet or a conventional weight loss diet. At 1 year, weight loss was similar for patients in each group (mean, 2–5 kg). There was a favourable effect on triglyceride levels and glycemic control in the low-carbohydrate diet group. (3)
A decision-analysis model showed bariatric surgery results in increased life expectancy in morbidly obese patients when compared to diet and exercise. (4)
A cost-effectiveness model showed bariatric surgery is cost-effective relative to nonsurgical management. (5)
Extrapolating from 2003 data from the United States, Ontario would likely need to do 3,500 bariatric surgeries per year. It currently does 508 per year, including out-of-country surgeries.
PMCID: PMC3382415  PMID: 23074460
19.  Prevalence of Self-Neglect across Gender, Race, and Socioeconomic Status: Findings from the Chicago Health and Aging Project 
Gerontology  2011;58(3):258-268.
Background
Self-neglect is the behavior of an elderly person that threatens his/her own health and safety, and it is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. However, the scope of the self-neglect in the community population remains unclear. We examined the prevalence of self-neglect and its specific behaviors of hoarding, hygiene and other environmental hazards in a community-dwelling elderly population.
Methods
A population-based cohort study conducted from 2007 to 2010 in a single cycle in a geographically defined community of 4 adjacent neighborhoods in Chicago, Ill., USA. Participant's personal and home environment was rated on hoarding, personal hygiene, house in need of repair, unsanitary conditions, and inadequate utility. Prevalence estimates were presented across gender, race/ethnicity, education and income levels.
Results
There were 4,627 older adults in the cohort. The prevalence of self-neglect and specific personal and environmental hazards varied significantly by race/ethnicity and by levels of education and income. For race/ethnicity, black older adults (men 13.2%; women 10.9%) had a significantly higher prevalence of self-neglect than white older adults (men 2.4%; women 2.6%). For those with less than high school education, the prevalence of the self-neglect was 14.7% in men and 10.9% in women. For those with an annual income of less than USD 15,000, the prevalence of self-neglect was 21.7% in men and 15.3% in women.
Conclusion
The prevalence of self-neglect and specific behaviors of hoarding, poor hygiene, and other environmental hazards are higher among black older adults and among those with lower levels of education and income.
doi:10.1159/000334256
PMCID: PMC3362301  PMID: 22189358
Self-neglect; Hoarding; Hygiene; Squalor; Environmental hazards; Population-based study
20.  An Analysis of Elder Abuse Rates in Milwaukee County 
Introduction
The elder abuse and neglect burden in Milwaukee County is substantial with 3,384 reports made in 2006 to 2009. Current prevalence estimates are determined from reported cases only and are likely underestimated. Provider awareness of victim and perpetrator characteristics is necessary to increase recognition and response.
Methods
A cross-sectional analysis of elder abuse and neglect cases reported to the Milwaukee County Department on Aging in 2006 to 2009 was performed to provide a profile of the county’s elder abuse burden by victim, perpetrator, and reporter characteristics. Outcomes of investigations were described in terms of placement and community services offered.
Results
Victims in Milwaukee County tended to be over 75 (63%), female (64%), and white (61%). Frailty (72%), Alzheimer’s dementia (24%), and other co-morbidities (19%) were most commonly reported. Perpetrators were often adult children (48%) or a spouse (14%). 41% of self-neglectors suffered from life-threatening unfulfilled medical needs. Most reports were made by medical professionals and community agencies (45%), supporting the importance of awareness and reporting among those professionals. Only 13% of elder abuse victims were placed in nursing homes and assisted living centers; many received services to assist independent living.
Discussion
Although this study is limited to reported cases only, it provides a valuable profile of pertinent elder abuse characteristics in Milwaukee County.
Conclusion
Characteristics of vulnerable elders, potential abusers, and investigation outcomes have informed the development of educational modules for physicians and community service providers on this important social issue.
PMCID: PMC3921019  PMID: 22324203
21.  Why Reassurance Fails in Patients with Unexplained Symptoms—An Experimental Investigation of Remembered Probabilities 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(8):e269.
Background
Providing reassurance is one of physicians' most frequently used verbal interventions. However, medical reassurance can fail or even have negative effects. This is frequently the case in patients with medically unexplained symptoms. It is hypothesized that these patients are more likely than patients from other groups to incorrectly recall the likelihoods of medical explanations provided by doctors.
Methods and Findings
Thirty-three patients with medically unexplained symptoms, 22 patients with major depression, and 30 healthy controls listened to an audiotaped medical report, as well as to two control reports. After listening to the reports, participants were asked to rate what the doctor thinks the likelihood is that the complaints are caused by a specific medical condition.
Although the doctor rejected most of the medical explanations for the symptoms in his verbal report, the patients with medically unexplained complaints remembered a higher likelihood for medical explanations for their symptoms. No differences were found between patients in the other groups, and for the control conditions. When asked to imagine that the reports were applicable to themselves, patients with multiple medical complaints reported more concerns about their health state than individuals in the other groups.
Conclusions
Physicians should be aware that patients with medically unexplained symptoms recall the likelihood of medical causes for their complaints incorrectly. Therefore, physicians should verify correct understanding by using check-back questions and asking for summaries, to improve the effect of reassurance.
Those patients for whom there is no medical explanation for their symptoms are likely to have more difficulty than other patients in remembering information intended to reassure them about their condition.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Being told by the doctor that that niggling headache or persistent stomach ache is not caused by a medical condition reassures most patients. But for some—those with a history of medically unexplained complaints—being told that tests have revealed no underlying cause for their symptoms provides little or no reassurance. Such patients have what is sometimes called “somatization syndrome.” In somatization, mental factors such as stress manifest themselves as physical symptoms. Patients with somatization syndrome start to report multiple medically unexplained symptoms as young adults. These symptoms, which change over time, include pain at different sites in the body and digestive, reproductive, and nervous system problems. What causes this syndrome is unknown and there is no treatment other than helping patients to control their symptoms.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patients with medically unexplained complaints make up a substantial and expensive part of the workload of general medical staff. Part of this expense is because patients with somatization syndrome are not reassured by their medical practitioners telling them there is no physical cause for their symptoms, which leads to requests for further tests. It is unclear why medical reassurance fails in these patients, but if this puzzle could be solved, it might help doctors to deal better with them. In this study, the researchers tested the idea that these patients do not accept medical reassurance because they incorrectly remember what their doctors have told them about the likelihood that specific medical conditions could explain their symptoms.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited patients with medically unexplained symptoms and, for comparison, patients with depression and healthy individuals. All the participants were assessed for somatization syndrome and their general memory tested. They then listened to three audiotapes. In one, a doctor gave test results to a patient with abdominal pain (a medical situation). The other two tapes dealt with a social situation (the lack of an invitation to a barbecue) and a neutral situation (a car breakdown). Each tape contained ten messages, including four that addressed possible explanations for the problem. Two were unambiguous and negative—for example, “the reason for your complaints is definitely not stomach flu.” Two were ambiguous but highly unlikely—“we don't think that you have bowel cancer; this is very unlikely.” The researchers then assessed how well the participants remembered the likelihood that any given explanation was responsible for the patient's symptoms, the missing invitation, or the broken-down car. The patients with somatization syndrome overestimated the likelihood of medical causes for symptoms, particularly (and somewhat surprisingly) when the doctor's assessment had been unambiguous. By contrast, the other participants correctly remembered the doctor's estimates as low. The three study groups were similar in their recall of the likelihood estimates from the social or neutral situation. Finally, when asked to imagine that the medical situation was personally applicable, the patients with unexplained symptoms reacted more emotionally than the other study participants by reporting more concerns with their health.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results support the researchers' hypothesis that people with somatization syndrome remember the chance that a given symptom has a specific medical cause incorrectly. This is not because of a general memory deficit or an inability to commit health-related facts to memory. The results also indicate that these patients react emotionally to medical situations, so they may find it hard to cope when a doctor fails to explain all their symptoms. Some of these characteristics could, of course, reflect the patients' previous experiences with medical professionals, and the experiment will need to be repeated with additional taped situations and more patients before firm recommendations can be made to help people with somatization syndrome. Nevertheless, given that medical reassurance and the presentation of negative results led to overestimates of the likelihood of medical explanations for symptoms in patients with somatization syndrome, the researchers recommend that doctors bear this bias in mind. To reduce it, they suggest, doctors could ask patients for summaries about what they have been told. This would make it possible to detect when patients have misremembered the likelihood of various medical explanations, and provide an opportunity to correct the situation.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030269.
• MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on somatization disorder
• Wikipedia page on somatization disorder (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
• Prodigy Knowledge's information for patients on somatization and somatoform disorders
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030269
PMCID: PMC1523375  PMID: 16866576
22.  Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infection: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(3):e1001620.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Eric Strunz and colleagues examine whether improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) practices are associated with reduced risk of infections with soil-transmitted helminths.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Preventive chemotherapy represents a powerful but short-term control strategy for soil-transmitted helminthiasis. Since humans are often re-infected rapidly, long-term solutions require improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). The purpose of this study was to quantitatively summarize the relationship between WASH access or practices and soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infection.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine the associations of improved WASH on infection with STH (Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, hookworm [Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus], and Strongyloides stercoralis). PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and LILACS were searched from inception to October 28, 2013 with no language restrictions. Studies were eligible for inclusion if they provided an estimate for the effect of WASH access or practices on STH infection. We assessed the quality of published studies with the Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. A total of 94 studies met our eligibility criteria; five were randomized controlled trials, whilst most others were cross-sectional studies. We used random-effects meta-analyses and analyzed only adjusted estimates to help account for heterogeneity and potential confounding respectively.
Use of treated water was associated with lower odds of STH infection (odds ratio [OR] 0.46, 95% CI 0.36–0.60). Piped water access was associated with lower odds of A. lumbricoides (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.39–0.41) and T. trichiura infection (OR 0.57, 95% CI 0.45–0.72), but not any STH infection (OR 0.93, 95% CI 0.28–3.11). Access to sanitation was associated with decreased likelihood of infection with any STH (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.57–0.76), T. trichiura (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.50–0.74), and A. lumbricoides (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.44–0.88), but not with hookworm infection (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.61–1.06). Wearing shoes was associated with reduced odds of hookworm infection (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.18–0.47) and infection with any STH (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.11–0.83). Handwashing, both before eating (OR 0.38, 95% CI 0.26–0.55) and after defecating (OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.35–0.58), was associated with lower odds of A. lumbricoides infection. Soap use or availability was significantly associated with lower infection with any STH (OR 0.53, 95% CI 0.29–0.98), as was handwashing after defecation (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.24–0.90).
Observational evidence constituted the majority of included literature, which limits any attempt to make causal inferences. Due to underlying heterogeneity across observational studies, the meta-analysis results reflect an average of many potentially distinct effects, not an average of one specific exposure-outcome relationship.
Conclusions
WASH access and practices are generally associated with reduced odds of STH infection. Pooled estimates from all meta-analyses, except for two, indicated at least a 33% reduction in odds of infection associated with individual WASH practices or access. Although most WASH interventions for STH have focused on sanitation, access to water and hygiene also appear to significantly reduce odds of infection. Overall quality of evidence was low due to the preponderance of observational studies, though recent randomized controlled trials have further underscored the benefit of handwashing interventions. Limited use of the Joint Monitoring Program's standardized water and sanitation definitions in the literature restricted efforts to generalize across studies. While further research is warranted to determine the magnitude of benefit from WASH interventions for STH control, these results call for multi-sectoral, integrated intervention packages that are tailored to social-ecological contexts.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than a billion people are infected with soil-transmitted helminths (STHs), parasitic worms that live in the human intestine (gut). These intestinal worms, including roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm, mainly occur in tropical and subtropical regions and are most common in developing countries, where personal hygiene is poor, there is insufficient access to clean water, and sanitation (disposal of human feces and urine) is inadequate or absent. STHs colonize the human intestine and their eggs are shed in feces and enter the soil. Humans ingest the eggs, either by touching contaminated ground or eating unwashed fruit and vegetables grown in such soil. Hookworm may enter the body by burrowing through the skin, most commonly when bare-footed individuals walk on infected soil. Repeated infection with STHs leads to a heavy parasite infestation of the gut, causing chronic diarrhea, intestinal bleeding, and abdominal pain. In addition the parasites compete with their human host for nutrients, leading to malnutrition, anemia, and, in heavily infected children, stunting of physical growth and slowing of mental development.
Why Was This Study Done?
While STH infections can be treated in the short-term with deworming medication, rapid re-infection is common, therefore a more comprehensive program of improved water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) is needed. WASH strategies include improvements in water access (e.g., water quality, water quantity, and distance to water), sanitation access (e.g., access to improved latrines, latrine maintenance, and fecal sludge management), and hygiene practices (e.g., handwashing before eating and/or after defecation, water treatment, soap use, wearing shoes, and water storage practices). WASH strategies have been shown to be effective for reducing rates of diarrhea and other neglected tropical diseases, such as trachoma; however, there is limited evidence linking specific WASH access or practices to STH infection rates. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers investigate whether WASH access or practices lower the risk of STH infections. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 94 studies that included measurements of the relationship between WASH access and practices with one or more types of STHs. Meta-analyses of the data from 35 of these studies indicated that overall people with access to WASH strategies or practices were about half as likely to be infected with any STH. Specifically, a lower odds of infection with any STH was observed for those people who use treated water (odd ratio [OR] of 0.46), have access to sanitation (OR of 0.66), wear shoes (OR of 0.30), and use soap or have soap availability (OR of 0.53) compared to those without access to these practices or strategies. In addition, infection with roundworm was less than half as likely in those who practiced handwashing both before eating and after defecating than those who did not practice handwashing (OR of 0.38 and 0.45, respectively).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The studies included in this systematic review and meta-analysis have several shortcomings. For example, most were cross-sectional surveys—studies that examined the effect of WASH strategies on STH infections in a population at a single time point. Given this study design, people with access to WASH strategies may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for the observed reductions in the risk of STH infections. Consequently, the overall quality of the included studies was low and there was some evidence for publication bias (studies showing a positive association are more likely to be published than those that do not). Nevertheless, these findings confirm that WASH access and practices provide an effective control measure for STH. Controlling STHs in developing countries would have a huge positive impact on the physical and mental health of the population, especially children, therefore there should be more emphasis on expanding access to WASH as part of development guidelines and targets, in addition to short-term preventative chemotherapy currently used.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001620.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides detailed information on roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm infections
The World Health Organization provides information on soil-transmitted helminths, including a description of the current control strategy
Children Without Worms (CWW) partners with Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, the World Health Organization, national ministries of health and education, non-governmental organizations, and others to promote treatment and prevention of soil-transmitted helminthiasis. CWW advocates a four-pronged, comprehensive control strategy—Water, Sanitation, Hygiene Education, and Deworming (WASHED) to break the cycle of reinfection
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an advocacy initiative dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases, provides information on infections with roundworm (ascariasis), whipworm (trichuriasis), and hookworm
WASH for the Neglected Tropical Diseases is a repository of information on WASH and the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) such as soil-transmitted helminthiasis, and features a resource titled “WASH and the NTDs: A Manual for WASH Implementers.”
Two international programs promoting water sanitation are the World Health Organization Water Sanitation and Health program and the World Health Organization/United Nations Childrens Fund Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001620
PMCID: PMC3965411  PMID: 24667810
23.  Differential diagnostic of the burnout syndrome 
Introduction
There is no consistent definition of burnout. It is neither a defined diagnosis in ICD-10 nor in DSM-IV. Yet it is diagnosed by office-based doctors and clinicians. Mainly due to reimbursement reasons, diagnoses like depression are used instead of burnout diagnoses. Therefore burnout has a very high individual, social and economic impact.
Objectives
How is burnout diagnosed? Which criteria are relevant? How valid and reliable are the used tools?What kind of disorders in case of burnout are relevant for a differential diagnosis?What is the economic effect of a differential diagnosis for burnout?Are there any negative effects of persons with burnout on patients or clients?Can stigmatization of burnout-patients or -clients be observed?
Methods
Based on a systematic literature research in 36 databases, studies in English or German language, published since 2004, concerning medical and differential diagnoses, economic impact and ethical aspects of burnout, are included and evaluated.
Results
852 studies are identified. After considering the inclusion and exclusion criteria and after reviewing the full texts, 25 medical and one ethical study are included. No economic study met the criteria.
The key result of this report is that so far no standardized, general and international valid procedure exists to obtain a burnout diagnosis. At present, it is up to the physician’s discretion to diagnose burnout. The overall problem is to measure a phenomenon that is not exactly defined. The current available burnout measurements capture a three dimensional burnout construct. But the cutoff points do not conform to the standards of scientifically valid test construction.
It is important to distinguish burnout from depression, alexithymia, feeling unwell and the concept of prolonged exhaustion. An intermittent relation of the constructs is possible. Furthermore, burnout goes along with various ailments like sleep disturbance. Through a derogation of work performance it can have also negative effects on significant others (for example patients). There is no evidence for stigmatization of persons with burnout.
Discussion
The evidence of the majority of the studies is predominantly low. Most of the studies are descriptive and explorative. Self-assessment tools are mainly used, overall the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Objective data like medical parameters, health status, sick notes or judgements by third persons are extremely seldomly included in the studies. The sample construction is coincidental in the majority of cases, response rates are often low. Almost no longitudinal studies are available. There are insufficient results on the stability and the duration of related symptoms. The ambiguity of the burnout diagnosis is regularly neglected in the studies.
Conclusions
The authors conclude, that (1) further research, particularly high-quality studies are needed, to broaden the understanding of the burnout syndrome. Equally (2) a definition of the burnout syndrome has to be found which goes beyond the published understanding of burnout and is based on common scientific consent. Furthermore, there is a need (3) for finding a standardized, international accepted and valid procedure for the differentiated diagnostics of burnout and for (4) developing a third party assessment tool for the diagnosis of burnout. Finally, (5) the economic effects and implication of burnout diagnostics on the economy, the health insurances and the patients have to be analysed.
doi:10.3205/hta000087
PMCID: PMC3010892  PMID: 21289882
burnout; burn-out; burning out; burned out; burnout syndrom; burnout syndrome; burn-out syndrom; burnout diagnosis; burn-out diagnosis; burning out diagnosis; burned out diagnosis; burnout differential diagnosis; burn-out differential diagnosis; burning out differential diagnosis; burned out differential diagnosis; categories; burnout categories; burn-out categories; burning out categories; burned out categories; burnout symptoms; burn-out symptoms; burning out symptoms; burned out symptoms; burnout victim; burn-out victim; burning out victim; burn out outcome; burn-out outcome measure; screening; beat; drained from working conditions; MBI; Maslach Burnout Inventory; CBI; Copenhagen Burnout Inventory; SMBM; SMBQ; Shirom Melamed Burnout Measurement; Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire; SBI; School Burnout Inventory; OLBI; Oldenburg Burnout Inventory; ABQ; Athlete Burnout Questionnaire; distress; exhaustion; state of exhaustion; cynicism; depersonalisation; efficiency; personal efficiency; professional efficiency; depression; alexithymia; cutoff; cut-off; comorbidity; predictors
24.  Barriers and facilitators of adherence to medical advice on skin self-examination during melanoma follow-up care 
BMC Dermatology  2013;13:3.
Background
Melanoma is the fastest growing tumor of the skin, which disproportionately affects younger and middle-aged adults. As melanomas are visible, recognizable, and highly curable while in early stages, early diagnosis is one of the most effective measures to decrease melanoma-related mortality. Skin self-examination results in earlier detection and removal of the melanoma. Due to the elevated risk of survivors for developing subsequent melanomas, monthly self-exams are strongly recommended as part of follow-up care. Yet, only a minority of high-risk individuals practices systematic and regular self-exams. This can be improved through patient education. However, dermatological education is effective only in about 50% of the cases and little is known about those who do not respond. In the current literature, psychosocial variables like distress, coping with cancer, as well as partner and physician support are widely neglected in relation to the practice of skin self-examination, despite the fact that they have been shown to be essential for other health behaviors and for adherence to medical advice. Moreover, the current body of knowledge is compromised by the inconsistent conceptualization of SSE. The main objective of the current project is to examine psychosocial predictors of skin self-examination using on a rigorous and clinically sound methodology.
Methods/Design
The longitudinal, mixed-method study examines key psychosocial variables related to the acquisition and to the long-term maintenance of skin self-examination in 200 patients with melanoma. Practice of self-exam behaviors is assessed at 3 and 12 months after receiving an educational intervention designed based on best-practice standards. Examined predictors of skin self-exam behaviors include biological sex, perceived self-exam efficacy, distress, partner and physician support, and coping strategies. Qualitative analyses of semi-structured interviews will complement and enlighten the quantitative findings.
Discussion
The identification of short and long-term predictors of skin self-examination and an increased understanding of barriers will allow health care professionals to better address patient difficulties in adhering to this life-saving health behavior. Furthermore, the findings will enable the development and evaluation of evidence-based, comprehensive intervention strategies. Ultimately, these findings could impact a wide range of outreach programs and secondary prevention initiatives for other populations with increased melanoma risk.
doi:10.1186/1471-5945-13-3
PMCID: PMC3600035  PMID: 23448249
Melanoma; Secondary prevention; Health behavior; Skin self-examination; Medical advice; Distress; Coping; Physician support; Partner support; Skin cancer
25.  Effect of a Community-Based Nursing Intervention on Mortality in Chronically Ill Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001265.
Kenneth Coburn and colleagues report findings from a randomized trial evaluating the effects of a complex nursing intervention on mortality risk among older individuals diagnosed with chronic health conditions.
Background
Improving the health of chronically ill older adults is a major challenge facing modern health care systems. A community-based nursing intervention developed by Health Quality Partners (HQP) was one of 15 different models of care coordination tested in randomized controlled trials within the Medicare Coordinated Care Demonstration (MCCD), a national US study. Evaluation of the HQP program began in 2002. The study reported here was designed to evaluate the survival impact of the HQP program versus usual care up to five years post-enrollment.
Methods and Findings
HQP enrolled 1,736 adults aged 65 and over, with one or more eligible chronic conditions (coronary artery disease, heart failure, diabetes, asthma, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia) during the first six years of the study. The intervention group (n = 873) was offered a comprehensive, integrated, and tightly managed system of care coordination, disease management, and preventive services provided by community-based nurse care managers working collaboratively with primary care providers. The control group (n = 863) received usual care. Overall, a 25% lower relative risk of death (hazard ratio [HR] 0.75 [95% CI 0.57–1.00], p = 0.047) was observed among intervention participants with 86 (9.9%) deaths in the intervention group and 111 (12.9%) deaths in the control group during a mean follow-up of 4.2 years. When covariates for sex, age group, primary diagnosis, perceived health, number of medications taken, hospital stays in the past 6 months, and tobacco use were included, the adjusted HR was 0.73 (95% CI 0.55–0.98, p = 0.033). Subgroup analyses did not demonstrate statistically significant interaction effects for any subgroup. No suspected program-related adverse events were identified.
Conclusions
The HQP model of community-based nurse care management appeared to reduce all-cause mortality in chronically ill older adults. Limitations of the study are that few low-income and non-white individuals were enrolled and implementation was in a single geographic region of the US. Additional research to confirm these findings and determine the model's scalability and generalizability is warranted.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01071967
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In almost every country in the world, the proportion of people aged over 60 years is growing faster than any other age group because of increased life expectancy. This demographic change has several implications for public health, especially as older age is a risk factor for many chronic diseases—diseases of long duration and generally slow progression. Chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes, are by far the leading cause of death in the world, representing almost two-thirds of all deaths. Therefore in most countries, the challenge of managing increasingly ageing populations who have chronic illnesses demands an urgent response and countries such as the United States are actively researching possible solutions.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some studies suggest that innovations in chronic disease management that are led by nurses may help address the epidemic of chronic diseases by increasing the quality and reducing the cost of care. However, to date, reports of the evaluation of such interventions lack rigor and do not provide evidence of improved long-term health outcomes or reduced health care costs. So in this study, the researchers used the gold standard of research, a randomized controlled trial, to examine the impact of a community-based nurse care management model for older adults with chronic illnesses in the United States as part of a series of studies supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited eligible patients aged 65 years and over with heart failure, coronary heart disease, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and/or hyperlipidemia who received traditional Medicare—a fee for service insurance scheme in which beneficiaries can choose to receive their care from any Medicare provider—from participating primary care practices in Pennsylvania. The researchers then categorized patients according to their risk on the basis of several factors including the number of chronic diseases each individual had before randomizing patients to receive usual care or the nurse-led intervention. The intervention included an individualized plan comprising education, symptom monitoring, medication, counseling for adherence, help identifying, arranging, and monitoring community health and social service referrals in addition to group interventions such as weight loss maintenance and exercise classes. The researchers checked whether any participating patients had died by using the online Social Security Death Master File. Then the researchers used a statistical model to calculate the risk of death in both groups.
Of the 1,736 patients the researchers recruited into the trial, 873 were randomized to receive the intervention and 863 were in the control group (usual care). The researchers found that 86 (9.9%) participants in the intervention group and 111 (12.9%) participants in the control group died during the study period, representing a 25% lower relative risk of death among the intervention group. However, when the researchers considered other factors, such as sex, age group, primary diagnosis, perceived health, number of medications taken, hospital stays in the past 6 months, and tobacco use in their statistical model, this risk was slightly altered—0.73 risk of death in the intervention group.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that that community-based nurse care management is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality among older adults with chronic illnesses who are beneficiaries of the fee for service Medicare scheme in the United States. These findings also support the important role of nurses in improving health outcomes in this group of patients and show the feasibility of implementing this program in collaboration with primary care practices. Future research is needed to test the adaptability, scalability, and generalizability of this model of care.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001265.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Arlene Bierman
Information about the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is available
The World Health Organization provides statistics on the prevalence of both chronic illness and ageing
Heath Quality Partners provide information about the study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001265
PMCID: PMC3398966  PMID: 22815653

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