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1.  Gastric Electrical Stimulation 
Executive Summary
The objective of this analysis was to assess the effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of gastric electrical stimulation (GES) for the treatment of chronic, symptomatic refractory gastroparesis and morbid obesity.
Gastroparesis - Epidemiology
Gastroparesis (GP) broadly refers to impaired gastric emptying in the absence of obstruction. Clinically, this can range from the incidental detection of delayed gastric emptying in an asymptomatic person to patients with severe nausea, vomiting and malnutrition. Symptoms of GP are nonspecific and may mimic structural disorders such as ulcer disease, partial gastric or small bowel obstruction, gastric cancer, and pancreaticobiliary disorders.
Gastroparesis may occur in association with diabetes, gastric surgery (consequence of peptic ulcer surgery and vagotomy) or for unknown reasons (idiopathic gastroparesis). Symptoms include early satiety, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and weight loss. The majority of patients with GP are women.
The relationship between upper gastrointestinal symptoms and the rate of gastric emptying is considered to be weak. Some patients with markedly delayed gastric emptying are asymptomatic and sometimes, severe symptoms may remit spontaneously.
Idiopathic GP may represent the most common form of GP. In one tertiary referral retrospective series, the etiologies in 146 GP patients were 36% idiopathic, 29% diabetic, 13% postgastric surgery, 7.5% Parkinson’s disease, 4.8% collagen vascular disorders, 4.1% intestinal pseudoobstruction and 6% miscellaneous causes.
The true prevalence of digestive symptoms in patients with diabetes and the relationship of these symptoms to delayed gastric emptying are unknown. Delayed gastric emptying is present in 27% to 58% of patients with type 1 diabetes and 30% with type 2 diabetes. However, highly variable rates of gastric emptying have been reported in type 1 and 2 diabetes, suggesting that development of GP in patients with diabetes is neither universal nor inevitable. In a review of studies examining gastric emptying in patients with diabetes compared to control patients, investigators noted that in many cases the magnitude of the delay in gastric emptying is modest.
GP may occur as a complication of a number of different surgical procedures. For example, vagal nerve injury may occur in 4% to 40% of patients who undergo laparoscopic fundoplication1 for gastroesophageal reflux disease.
The prevalence of severe, refractory GP is scantily reported in the literature. Using data from a past study, it has been estimated that the prevalence of severe, symptomatic and refractory GP in the United States population is 0.017%. Assuming an Ontario population of 13 million, this would correspond to approximately 2,000 people in Ontario having severe, symptomatic, refractory GP.
The incidence of severe refractory GP estimated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is approximately 4,000 per year in the United States. This corresponds to about 150 patients in Ontario. Using expert opinion and FDA data, the incidence of severe refractory GP in Ontario is estimated to be about 20 to 150 per year.
Treatment for Gastroparesis
To date, there have been no long-term studies confirming the beneficial effects of maintaining euglycemia on GP symptoms. However, it has been suggested that consistent findings of physiologic studies in healthy volunteers and diabetes patients provides an argument to strive for near-normal blood glucose levels in affected diabetes patients.
Dietary measures (e.g., low fibre, low fat food), prokinetic drugs (e.g., domperidone, metoclopramide and erythromycin) and antiemetic or antinausea drugs (e.g, phenothiazines, diphenhydramine) are generally effective for symptomatic relief in the majority of patients with GP.
For patients with chronic, symptomatic GP who are refractory to drug treatment, surgical options may include jejunostomy tube for feeding, gastrotomy tube for stomach decompression and pyloroplasty for gastric emptying.
Few small studies examined the use of botulinum toxin injections into the pyloric sphincter. However, the contribution of excessive pyloric contraction to GP has been insufficiently defined and there have been no controlled studies of this therapy.
Treatment with GES is reversible and may be a less invasive option compared to stomach surgery for the treatment of patients with chronic, drug-refractory nausea and vomiting secondary to GP. In theory, GES represents an intermediate step between treatment directed at the underlying pathophysiology, and the treatment of symptoms. It is based on studies of gastric electrical patterns in GP that have identified the presence of a variety of gastric arrhythmias. Similar to a cardiac pacemaker, it was hypothesized that GES could override the abnormal rhythms, stimulate gastric emptying and eliminate symptoms.
Morbid Obesity Epidemiology
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of at last 30 kg/m2. 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.
In the United States, the age-adjusted prevalence of extreme obesity (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) for adults aged 20 years and older has increased significantly in the population, from 2.9% (1988–1994) to 4.7% (1999–2000). An expert estimated that about 160,000 to 180,000 people are morbidly obese in Ontario.
Treatment for Morbid Obesity
Diet, exercise, and behavioural therapy are used to help people lose weight.
Bariatric surgery for morbid obesity is considered an intervention of last resort for patients who have attempted first-line forms of medical management.
Gastric stimulation has been investigated for the treatment of morbid obesity; the intention being to reduce appetite and induce early satiety possibly due to inhibitory effects on gastric motility and effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and hormones related to satiety and/or appetite.
Possible advantages to GES for the treatment of morbid obesity include reversibility of the procedure, less invasiveness than some bariatric procedures, e.g., gastric bypass, and less side effects (e.g., dumping syndrome).
The Device
Electrical stimulation is delivered via an implanted system that consists of a neurostimulator and 2 leads. The surgical procedure can be performed via either an open or laparoscopic approach. An external programmer used by the physician can deliver instructions to the GES, i.e., adjust the rate and amplitude of stimulation (Figure 1). GES may be turned off by the physician at any time or may be removed. The battery life is approximately 4-5 years
For treatment of GP, the GES leads are secured in the muscle of the lower stomach, 10 cm proximal to the pylorus (the opening from the stomach to the intestine), 1 cm apart and connected to an implantable battery-powered neurostimulator which is placed in a small pocket in the abdominal wall
For treatment of morbid obesity, GES leads are implanted along the lesser curvature of the stomach where the vagal nerve branches spread, approximately 8 cm proximal to the pylorus. However, the implant positioning of the leads has been variably reported in the literature.
Regulatory Status
The Enterra Therapy System and the Transcend II Implantable Gastric Stimulation System (Medtronic Inc.) are both licensed as class 3 devices by Health Canada (license numbers 60264 and 66948 respectively). The Health Canada indications for use are:
Enterra Therapy System
“For use in the treatment of chronic intractable (drug-refractory) nausea and vomiting.”
Transcend II Implantable Gastric Stimulation System
“For use in weight reduction for obese adults with a body mass index greater than 35.”
The GES device that is licensed by Health Canada for treatment of GP, produces high-frequency GES. Most clinical studies examining GES for GP have used high-frequency (4 times the intrinsic slow wave frequency, i.e., 12 cycles per minute), low energy, short duration pulses. This type of stimulation does not alter gastric muscular contraction and has no effect on slow wave dysrhythmias. The mechanism of action is unclear but it is hypothesized that high-frequency GES may act on sensory fibers directed to the CNS.
The GES device licensed by Health Canada for treatment of morbid obesity produces low-frequency GES, which is close to or just above the normal/native gastric slow wave cycle (approximately 3 cycles/min.). This pacing uses low-frequency, high-energy, long-duration pulses to induce propagated slow waves that replace the spontaneous ones. Low-frequency pacing does not invoke muscular contractions.
Most studies examining the use of GES for the treatment of morbid obesity use low-frequency GES. Under normal circumstances, the gastric slow wave propagates distally and determines the frequency and propagation direction of gastric peristalsis. Low-frequency GES aims to produce abnormal gastric slow waves that can induce gastric dysrhythmia, disrupt regular propagation of slow waves, cause hypomotility of the stomach, delay gastric emptying, reduce food intake, prolong satiety, and produce weight loss.
In the United States, the Enterra Therapy System is a Humanitarian Use Device (HUD), meaning it is a medical device designated by the FDA for use in the treatment of medical conditions that affect fewer than 4,000 individuals per year.2 The Enterra Therapy System is indicated for “the treatment of chronic, drug- refractory nausea and vomiting secondary to GP of diabetes or idiopathic etiology” (not postsurgical etiologies).
GES for morbid obesity has not been approved by the FDA and is for investigational use only in the United States.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat systematically reviewed the literature to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of GES to treat patients who have: a) chronic refractory symptomatic GP; or b) morbid obesity.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat used its standard search strategy to retrieve international health technology assessments and English-language journal articles from selected databases.
The GRADE approach was used to systematically and explicitly make judgments about the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence in Tables 1 and 2.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Gastroparesis
Confounders related to diabetes.
Possible Type 2 error for subgroup analyses.
Subjective self-reported end point.
Posthoc change in primary end point analysis.
No sample size justification.
Concomitant prokinetic/antiemetic therapy.
Only 1 RCT (with different results for FDA and publication).
GES originally hypothesized to correct gastric rhythms, stimulate gastric emptying and therefore eliminate symptoms.
Now hypothesized to directly act on neurons to the CNS to control symptoms.
Weak correlation between symptoms and gastric emptying.
Unclear whether gastric emptying is still considered an end point to investigate.
GRADE Quality of Studies – Morbid Obesity
No sample size calculation.
Small sample size.
No ITT analysis.
Lack of detail regarding dropouts.
Possible Type 2 error.
Sparse details about randomization/blinding.
Full, final results not published.
Only 1 RCT (technically grey literature).
Economic Analysis
No formal economic analysis was identified in the literature search.
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research reported that the cost of implanting a GES in the United States for the treatment of GP is estimated to be $30,000 US. In Canada, the device costs approximately $10,700 Cdn; this does not include costs associated with the physician’s training, the implantation procedure, or device programming and maintenance.
Ontario Context
There is no Schedule of Benefits code for GES.
There is no Canadian Classification of Health Interventions Index (CCI) procedure code for GES.
Since the ICD-10 diagnosis code for gastroparesis falls under K31.8 “Other specified diseases of the stomach and duodenum”, it is impossible to determine how many patients in Ontario had discharge abstracts because of gastroparesis.
In 2005, there were less than 5 out-of-country requests for GES (for either consultation only or for surgery).
The prevalence of severe, refractory GP is variably reported in the literature.
The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research estimated that the prevalence of severe, symptomatic and medically refractory GP in the United States population was 0.017%. Assuming a total Ontario population of 13 million, this would correspond to a budget impact of approximately $23.6 M
Cdn ($10,700 Cdn x 2,210 patients) for the device cost alone.
The incidence of severe refractory GP estimated by the FDA is approximately 4,000 per year in the United States. This corresponds to about 150 patients in Ontario. Using expert opinion and FDA data, the incidence of severe refractory GP in Ontario is estimated to be about 20 to 150 per year. This corresponds to a budget impact of approximately $107,000 Cdn to $1.6M Cdn per year for the device cost alone.
Morbid Obesity
An expert in the field estimated that there are 160,000 to 180,000 people in Ontario who are morbidly obese. This would correspond to a budget impact of approximately $1.7B Cdn to $1.9B Cdn for the device cost alone (assuming 100% uptake). However, the true uptake of GES for morbid obesity is unknown in relation to other types of bariatric surgery (which are more effective).
As per the GRADE Working Group, overall recommendations consider 4 main factors.
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates and the relative value placed on the outcome.
The quality of the evidence.
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise.
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of healthcare alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 shows the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For GP, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality, consistency and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $107,000 Cdn to $1.6M Cdn for the device cost alone, while the cost-effectiveness of GES is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high-quality studies of effectiveness. Further evidence of effectiveness should be available in the future since there is a RCT underway that is examining the use of GES in patients with severe refractory GP associated with diabetes and idiopathic etiologies ( identifier NCT00157755).
For morbid obesity, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and consistency), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $1.7B Cdn to $1.9B Cdn for the device cost alone (assuming 100% uptake) while the cost-effectiveness of GES is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness. However, the true uptake of GES for morbid obesity is unknown in relation to other types of bariatric surgery (which are more effective).
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation (Including Uncertainty)
PMCID: PMC3413096  PMID: 23074486
2.  Mental Health Service Use by Older Adults: The Role of Chronic Pain 
Mental health disorders commonly co-occur in patients with chronic pain, but little is known about the role of chronic pain in mental health service use. In this study, we explored the role of chronic pain in mental health service use by adults according to age group.
Cross-sectional analysis of survey data from the second wave of the Healthcare for Communities telephone survey, collected in 2000 to 2001.
Randomly selected U.S. households.
U.S. civilian adults (N=6629)
Common mental disorders were assessed using the short-form versions of the World Health Organization's Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI-SF). Chronic pain conditions and mental health services received were identified by self report. Physical and mental functioning were assessed using the Short Form-12.
Adults older than age 60 had higher rates of chronic pain and lower rates of mental health service use compared to those age 18 to 60 years. In multiple logistic regression models, an interaction effect was found between age and chronic pain (OR 3.0 [1.1-8.0]), with chronic pain significantly increasing the odds of any mental health care in the past year in adults older than 60 years of age.
Chronic pain increases the likelihood of mental health service use among older adults. Chronic pain may facilitate the presentation of distress in medical settings for these adults.
PMCID: PMC2749707  PMID: 18192496
pain; mental health; health services; geriatrics
3.  Ultraviolet Phototherapy Management of Moderate-to-Severe Plaque Psoriasis 
Executive Summary
The purpose of this evidence based analysis was to determine the effectiveness and safety of ultraviolet phototherapy for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.
Research Questions
The specific research questions for the evidence review were as follows:
What is the safety of ultraviolet phototherapy for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis?
What is the effectiveness of ultraviolet phototherapy for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Psoriasis is a common chronic, systemic inflammatory disease affecting the skin, nails and occasionally the joints and has a lifelong waning and waxing course. It has a worldwide occurrence with a prevalence of at least 2% of the general population, making it one of the most common systemic inflammatory diseases. The immune-mediated disease has several clinical presentations with the most common (85% - 90%) being plaque psoriasis.
Characteristic features of psoriasis include scaling, redness, and elevation of the skin. Patients with psoriasis may also present with a range of disabling symptoms such as pruritus (itching), pain, bleeding, or burning associated with plaque lesions and up to 30% are classified as having moderate-to-severe disease. Further, some psoriasis patients can be complex medical cases in which diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and hypertension are more likely to be present than in control populations and 10% also suffer from arthritis (psoriatic arthritis). The etiology of psoriasis is unknown but is thought to result from complex interactions between the environment and predisposing genes.
Management of psoriasis is related to the extent of the skin involvement, although its presence on the hands, feet, face or genitalia can present challenges. Moderate-to-severe psoriasis is managed by phototherapy and a range of systemic agents including traditional immunosuppressants such as methotrexate and cyclospsorin. Treatment with modern immunosuppressant agents known as biologicals, which more specifically target the immune defects of the disease, is usually reserved for patients with contraindications and those failing or unresponsive to treatments with traditional immunosuppressants or phototherapy.
Treatment plans are based on a long-term approach to managing the disease, patient’s expectations, individual responses and risk of complications. The treatment goals are several fold but primarily to:
1) improve physical signs and secondary psychological effects,
2) reduce inflammation and control skin shedding,
3) control physical signs as long as possible, and to
4) avoid factors that can aggravate the condition.
Approaches are generally individualized because of the variable presentation, quality of life implications, co-existent medical conditions, and triggering factors (e.g. stress, infections and medications). Individual responses and commitments to therapy also present possible limitations.
Ultraviolet phototherapy units have been licensed since February 1993 as a class 2 device in Canada. Units are available as hand held devices, hand and foot devices, full-body panel, and booth styles for institutional and home use. Units are also available with a range of ultraviolet A, broad and narrow band ultraviolet B (BB-UVB and NB-UVB) lamps. After establishing appropriate ultraviolet doses, three-times weekly treatment schedules for 20 to 25 treatments are generally needed to control symptoms.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
The literature search strategy employed keywords and subject headings to capture the concepts of 1) phototherapy and 2) psoriasis. The search involved runs in the following databases: Ovid MEDLINE (1996 to March Week 3 2009), OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE (1980 to 2009 Week 13), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment. Parallel search strategies were developed for the remaining databases. Search results were limited to human and English-language published between January 1999 and March 31, 2009. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for relevant literature up until May 31, 2009.
English language reports and human studies
Ultraviolet phototherapy interventions for plaque-type psoriasis
Reports involving efficacy and/or safety outcome studies
Original reports with defined study methodology
Standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, durability, quality of life or patient satisfaction
Non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials
Randomized trials involving side-to-side or half body comparisons
Randomized trials not involving ultraviolet phototherapy intervention for plaque-type psoriasis
Trials involving dosing studies, pilot feasibility studies or lacking control groups
Summary of Findings
A 2000 health technology evidence report on the overall management of psoriasis by The National Institute Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Program of the UK was identified in the MAS evidence-based review. The report included 109 RCT studies published between 1966 and June 1999 involving four major treatment approaches – 51 on phototherapy, 32 on oral retinoids, 18 on cyclosporin and five on fumarates.. The absence of RCTs on methotrexate was noted as original studies with this agent had been performed prior to 1966.
Of the 51 RCT studies involving phototherapy, 22 involved UVA, 21 involved UVB, five involved both UVA and UVB and three involved natural light as a source of UV. The RCT studies included comparisons of treatment schedules, ultraviolet source, addition of adjuvant therapies, and comparisons between phototherapy and topical treatment schedules. Because of heterogeneity, no synthesis or meta-analysis could be performed. Overall, the reviewers concluded that the efficacy of only five therapies could be supported from the RCT-based evidence review: photochemotherapy or phototherapy, cyclosporin, systemic retinoids, combination topical vitamin D3 analogues (calcipotriol) and corticosteroids in combination with phototherapy and fumarates. Although there was no RCT evidence supporting methotrexate, it’s efficacy for psoriasis is well known and it continues to be a treatment mainstay.
The conclusion of the NIHR evidence review was that both photochemotherapy and phototherapy were effective treatments for clearing psoriasis, although their comparative effectiveness was unknown. Despite the conclusions on efficacy, a number of issues were identified in the evidence review and several areas for future research were discussed to address these limitations. Trials focusing on comparative effectiveness, either between ultraviolet sources or between classes of treatment such as methotrexate versus phototherapy, were recommended to refine treatment algorithms. The need for better assessment of cost-effectiveness of therapies to consider systemic drug costs and costs of surveillance, as well as drug efficacy, were also noted. Overall, the authors concluded that phototherapy and photochemotherapy had important roles in psoriasis management and were standard therapeutic options for psoriasis offered in dermatology practices.
The MAS evidence-based review focusing on the RCT trial evidence for ultraviolet phototherapy management of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis was performed as an update to the NIHR 2000 systemic review on treatments for severe psoriasis. In this review, an additional 26 RCT reports examining phototherapy or photochemotherapy for psoriasis were identified. Among the studies were two RCTs comparing ultraviolet wavelength sources, five RCTs comparing different forms of phototherapy, four RCTs combining phototherapy with prior spa saline bathing, nine RCTs combining phototherapy with topical agents, two RCTs combining phototherapy with the systemic immunosuppressive agents methotrexate or alefacept, one RCT comparing phototherapy with an additional light source (the excimer laser), and one comparing a combination therapy with phototherapy and psychological intervention involving simultaneous audiotape sessions on mindfulness and stress reduction. Two trials also examined the effect of treatment setting on effectiveness of phototherapy, one on inpatient versus outpatient therapy and one on outpatient clinic versus home-based phototherapy.
The conclusions of the MAS evidence-based review are outlined in Table ES1. In summary, phototherapy provides good control of clinical symptoms in the short term for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque-type psoriasis that have failed or are unresponsive to management with topical agents. However, many of the evidence gaps identified in the NIHR 2000 evidence review on psoriasis management persisted. In particular, the lack of evidence on the comparative effectiveness and/or cost-effectiveness between the major treatment options for moderate-to-severe psoriasis remained. The evidence on effectiveness and safety of longer term strategies for disease management has also not been addressed. Evidence for the safety, effectiveness, or cost-effectiveness of phototherapy delivered in various settings is emerging but is limited. In addition, because all available treatments for psoriasis – a disease with a high prevalence, chronicity, and cost – are palliative rather than curative, strategies for disease control and improvements in self-efficacy employed in other chronic disease management strategies should be investigated.
RCT Evidence for Ultraviolet Phototherapy Treatment of Moderate-To-Severe Plaque Psoriasis
Phototherapy is an effective treatment for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Narrow band PT is more effective than broad band PT for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Oral-PUVA has a greater clinical response, requires less treatments and has a greater cumulative UV irradiation dose than UVB to achieve treatment effects for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Spa salt water baths prior to phototherapy did increase short term clinical response of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis but did not decrease cumulative UV irradiation dose
Addition of topical agents (vitamin D3 calcipotriol) to NB-UVB did not increase mean clinical response or decrease treatments or cumulative UV irradiation dose
Methotrexate prior to NB-UVB in high need psoriasis patients did significantly increase clinical response, decrease number of treatment sessions and decrease cumulative UV irradiation dose
Phototherapy following alefacept did increase early clinical response in moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Effectiveness and safety of home NB-UVB phototherapy was not inferior to NB-UVB phototherapy provided in a clinic to patients with psoriasis referred for phototherapy. Treatment burden was lower and patient satisfaction was higher with home therapy and patients in both groups preferred future phototherapy treatments at home
Ontario Health System Considerations
A 2006 survey of ultraviolet phototherapy services in Canada identified 26 phototherapy clinics in Ontario for a population of over 12 million. At that time, there were 177 dermatologists and 50 geographic regions in which 28% (14/50) provided phototherapy services. The majority of the phototherapy services were reported to be located in densely populated areas; relatively few patients living in rural communities had access to these services. The inconvenience of multiple weekly visits for optimal phototherapy treatment effects poses additional burdens to those with travel difficulties related to health, job, or family-related responsibilities.
Physician OHIP billing for phototherapy services totaled 117,216 billings in 2007, representing approximately 1,800 patients in the province treated in private clinics. The number of patients treated in hospitals is difficult to estimate as physician costs are not billed directly to OHIP in this setting. Instead, phototherapy units and services provided in hospitals are funded by hospitals’ global budgets. Some hospitals in the province, however, have divested their phototherapy services, so the number of phototherapy clinics and their total capacity is currently unknown.
Technological advances have enabled changes in phototherapy treatment regimens from lengthy hospital inpatient stays to outpatient clinic visits and, more recently, to an at-home basis. When combined with a telemedicine follow-up, home phototherapy may provide an alternative strategy for improved access to service and follow-up care, particularly for those with geographic or mobility barriers. Safety and effectiveness have, however, so far been evaluated for only one phototherapy home-based delivery model. Alternate care models and settings could potentially increase service options and access, but the broader consequences of the varying cost structures and incentives that either increase or decrease phototherapy services are unknown.
Economic Analyses
The focus of the current economic analysis was to characterize the costs associated with the provision of NB-UVB phototherapy for plaque-type, moderate-to-severe psoriasis in different clinical settings, including home therapy. A literature review was conducted and no cost-effectiveness (cost-utility) economic analyses were published in this area.
Hospital, Clinic, and Home Costs of Phototherapy
Costs for NB-UVB phototherapy were based on consultations with equipment manufacturers and dermatologists. Device costs applicable to the provision of NB-UVB phototherapy in hospitals, private clinics and at a patient’s home were estimated. These costs included capital costs of purchasing NB-UVB devices (amortized over 15-20 years), maintenance costs of replacing equipment bulbs, physician costs of phototherapy treatment in private clinics ($7.85 per phototherapy treatment), and medication and laboratory costs associated with treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis.
NB-UVB phototherapy services provided in a hospital setting were paid for by hospitals directly. Phototherapy services in private clinic and home settings were paid for by the clinic and patient, respectively, except for physician services covered by OHIP. Indirect funding was provided to hospitals as part of global budgeting and resource allocation. Home therapy services for NB-UVB phototherapy were not covered by the MOHLTC. Coverage for home-based phototherapy however, was in some cases provided by third party insurers.
Device costs for NB-UVB phototherapy were estimated for two types of phototherapy units: a “booth unit” consisting of 48 bulbs used in hospitals and clinics, and a “panel unit” consisting of 10 bulbs for home use. The device costs of the booth and panel units were estimated at approximately $18,600 and $2,900, respectively; simple amortization over 15 and 20 years implied yearly costs of approximately $2,500 and $150, respectively. Replacement cost for individual bulbs was about $120 resulting in total annual cost of maintenance of about $8,640 and $120 for booth and panel units, respectively.
Estimated Total Costs for Ontario
Average annual cost per patient for NB-UVB phototherapy provided in the hospital, private clinic or at home was estimated to be $292, $810 and $365 respectively. For comparison purposes, treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis with methotrexate and cyclosporin amounted to $712 and $3,407 annually per patient respectively; yearly costs for biological drugs were estimated to be $18,700 for alefacept and $20,300 for etanercept-based treatments.
Total annual costs of NB-UVB phototherapy were estimated by applying average costs to an estimated proportion of the population (age 18 or older) eligible for phototherapy treatment. The prevalence of psoriasis was estimated to be approximately 2% of the population, of which about 85% was of plaque-type psoriasis and approximately 20% to 30% was considered moderate-to-severe in disease severity. An estimate of 25% for moderate-to-severe psoriasis cases was used in the current economic analysis resulting in a range of 29,400 to 44,200 cases. Approximately 21% of these patients were estimated to be using NB-UVB phototherapy for treatment resulting in a number of cases in the range between 6,200 and 9,300 cases. The average (7,700) number of cases was used to calculate associated costs for Ontario by treatment setting.
Total annual costs were as follows: $2.3 million in a hospital setting, $6.3 million in a private clinic setting, and $2.8 million for home phototherapy. Costs for phototherapy services provided in private clinics were greater ($810 per patient annually; total of $6.3 million annually) and differed from the same services provided in the hospital setting only in terms of additional physician costs associated with phototherapy OHIP fees.
Psoriasis, ultraviolet radiation, phototherapy, photochemotherapy, NB-UVB, BB-UVB PUVA
PMCID: PMC3377497  PMID: 23074532
4.  Neuroimaging for the Evaluation of Chronic Headaches 
Executive Summary
The objectives of this evidence based review are:
i) To determine the effectiveness of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in the evaluation of persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological examination.
ii) To determine the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI scans for detecting significant intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
iii) To determine the budget impact of CT and MRI scans for persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Headaches disorders are generally classified as either primary or secondary with further sub-classifications into specific headache types. Primary headaches are those not caused by a disease or medical condition and include i) tension-type headache, ii) migraine, iii) cluster headache and, iv) other primary headaches, such as hemicrania continua and new daily persistent headache. Secondary headaches include those headaches caused by an underlying medical condition. While primary headaches disorders are far more frequent than secondary headache disorders, there is an urge to carry out neuroimaging studies (CT and/or MRI scans) out of fear of missing uncommon secondary causes and often to relieve patient anxiety.
Tension type headaches are the most common primary headache disorder and migraines are the most common severe primary headache disorder. Cluster headaches are a type of trigeminal autonomic cephalalgia and are less common than migraines and tension type headaches. Chronic headaches are defined as headaches present for at least 3 months and lasting greater than or equal to 15 days per month. The International Classification of Headache Disorders states that for most secondary headaches the characteristics of the headache are poorly described in the literature and for those headache disorders where it is well described there are few diagnostically important features.
The global prevalence of headache in general in the adult population is estimated at 46%, for tension-type headache it is 42% and 11% for migraine headache. The estimated prevalence of cluster headaches is 0.1% or 1 in 1000 persons. The prevalence of chronic daily headache is estimated at 3%.
Computed Tomography
Computed tomography (CT) is a medical imaging technique used to aid diagnosis and to guide interventional and therapeutic procedures. It allows rapid acquisition of high-resolution three-dimensional images, providing radiologists and other physicians with cross-sectional views of a person’s anatomy. CT scanning poses risk of radiation exposure. The radiation exposure from a conventional CT scanner may emit effective doses of 2-4mSv for a typical head CT.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used to aid diagnosis but unlike CT it does not use ionizing radiation. Instead, it uses a strong magnetic field to image a person’s anatomy. Compared to CT, MRI can provide increased contrast between the soft tissues of the body. Because of the persistent magnetic field, extra care is required in the magnetic resonance environment to ensure that injury or harm does not come to any personnel while in the environment.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness of CT and MRI scanning in the evaluation of persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological examination?
What is the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI scanning for detecting significant intracranial abnormality in persons with chronic headache and a normal neurological exam?
What is the budget impact of CT and MRI scans for persons with a chronic headache and a normal neurological exam.
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on February 18, 2010 using 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 from January, 2005 to February, 2010. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with an unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, observational studies
Outpatient adult population with chronic headache and normal neurological exam
Studies reporting likelihood ratio of clinical variables for a significant intracranial abnormality
English language studies
Exclusion Criteria
Studies which report outcomes for persons with seizures, focal symptoms, recent/new onset headache, change in presentation, thunderclap headache, and headache due to trauma
Persons with abnormal neurological examination
Case reports
Outcomes of Interest
Primary Outcome
Probability for intracranial abnormality
Secondary Outcome
Patient relief from anxiety
System service use
System costs
Detection rates for significant abnormalities in MRI and CT scans
Summary of Findings
One systematic review, 1 small RCT, and 1 observational study met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The systematic review completed by Detsky, et al. reported the likelihood ratios of specific clinical variables to predict significant intracranial abnormalities. The RCT completed by Howard et al., evaluated whether neuroimaging persons with chronic headache increased or reduced patient anxiety. The prospective observational study by Sempere et al., provided evidence for the pre-test probability of intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headache as well as minimal data on the comparative effectiveness of CT and MRI to detect intracranial abnormalities.
Outcome 1: Pre-test Probability.
The pre-test probability is usually related to the prevalence of the disease and can be adjusted depending on the characteristics of the population. The study by Sempere et al. determined the pre-test probability (prevalence) of significant intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headaches defined as headache experienced for at least a 4 week duration with a normal neurological exam. There is a pre-test probability of 0.9% (95% CI 0.5, 1.4) in persons with chronic headache and normal neurological exam. The highest pre-test probability of 5 found in persons with cluster headaches. The second highest, that of 3.7, was reported in persons with indeterminate type headache. There was a 0.75% rate of incidental findings.
Likelihood ratios for detecting a significant abnormality
Clinical findings from the history and physical may be used as screening test to predict abnormalities on neuroimaging. The extent to which the clinical variable may be a good predictive variable can be captured by reporting its likelihood ratio. The likelihood ratio provides an estimate of how much a test result will change the odds of having a disease or condition. The positive likelihood ratio (LR+) tells you how much the odds of having the disease increases when a test is positive. The negative likelihood ratio (LR-) tells you how much the odds of having the disease decreases when the test is negative.
Detsky et al., determined the likelihood ratio for specific clinical variable from 11 studies. There were 4 clinical variables with both statistically significant positive and negative likelihood ratios. These included: abnormal neurological exam (LR+ 5.3, LR- 0.72), undefined headache (LR+ 3.8, LR- 0.66), headache aggravated by exertion or valsalva (LR+ 2.3, LR- 0.70), and headache with vomiting (LR+ 1.8, and LR- 0.47). There were two clinical variables with a statistically significant positive likelihood ratio and non significant negative likelihood ratio. These included: cluster-type headache (LR+ 11, LR- 0.95), and headache with aura (LR+ 12.9, LR- 0.52). Finally, there were 8 clinical variables with both statistically non significant positive and negative likelihood ratios. These included: headache with focal symptoms, new onset headache, quick onset headache, worsening headache, male gender, headache with nausea, increased headache severity, and migraine type headache.
Outcome 2: Relief from Anxiety
Howard et al. completed an RCT of 150 persons to determine if neuroimaging for headaches was anxiolytic or anxiogenic. Persons were randomized to receiving either an MRI scan or no scan for investigation of their headache. The study population was stratified into those persons with a Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS) > 11 (the high anxiety and depression group) and those < 11 (the low anxiety and depression) so that there were 4 groups:
Group 1: High anxiety and depression, no scan group
Group 2: High anxiety and depression, scan group
Group 3: Low anxiety and depression, no scan group
Group 4: Low anxiety and depression, scan group
There was no evidence for any overall reduction in anxiety at 1 year as measured by a visual analogue scale of ‘level of worry’ when analysed by whether the person received a scan or not. Similarly, there was no interaction between anxiety and depression status and whether a scan was offered or not on patient anxiety. Anxiety did not decrease at 1 year to any statistically significant degree in the high anxiety and depression group (HADS positive) compared with the low anxiety and depression group (HADS negative).
There are serious methodological limitations in this study design which may have contributed to these negative results. First, when considering the comparison of ‘scan’ vs. ‘no scan’ groups, 12 people (16%) in the ‘no scan group’ actually received a scan within the follow up year. If indeed scanning does reduce anxiety then this contamination of the ‘no scan’ group may have reduced the effect between the groups results resulting in a non significant difference in anxiety scores between the ‘scanned’ and the ‘no scan’ group. Second, there was an inadequate sample size at 1 year follow up in each of the 4 groups which may have contributed to a Type II statistical error (missing a difference when one may exist) when comparing scan vs. no scan by anxiety and depression status. Therefore, based on the results and study limitations it is inconclusive as to whether scanning reduces anxiety.
Outcome 3: System Services
Howard et al., considered services used and system costs a secondary outcome. These were determined by examining primary care case notes at 1 year for consultation rates, symptoms, further investigations, and contact with secondary and tertiary care.
System Services
The authors report that the use of neurologist and psychiatrist services was significantly higher for those persons not offered as scan, regardless of their anxiety and depression status (P<0.001 for neurologist, and P=0.033 for psychiatrist)
Outcome 4: System Costs
System Costs
There was evidence of statistically significantly lower system costs if persons with high levels of anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale score >11) were provided with a scan (P=0.03 including inpatient costs, and 0.047 excluding inpatient costs).
Comparative Effectiveness of CT and MRI Scans
One study reported the detection rate for significant intracranial abnormalities using CT and MRI. In a cohort of 1876 persons with a non acute headache defined as any type of headache that had begun at least 4 weeks before enrolment Sempere et al. reported that the detection rate was 19/1432 (1.3%) using CT and 4/444 (0.9%) using MRI. Of 119 normal CT scans 2 (1.7%) had significant intracranial abnormality on MRI. The 2 cases were a small meningioma, and an acoustic neurinoma.
The evidence presented can be summarized as follows:
Pre-test Probability
Based on the results by Sempere et al., there is a low pre-test probability for intracranial abnormalities in persons with chronic headaches and a normal neurological exam (defined as headaches experiences for a minimum of 4 weeks). The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Likelihood Ratios
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al., there is a statistically significant positive and negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: abnormal neurological exam, undefined headache, headache aggravated by exertion or valsalva, headache with vomiting. Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al. there is a statistically significant positive likelihood ratio but non statistically significant negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: cluster headache and headache with aura. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Based on the systematic review by Detsky et al., there is a non significant positive and negative likelihood ratio for the following clinical variables: headache with focal symptoms, new onset headache, quick onset headache, worsening headache, male gender, headache with nausea, increased headache severity, migraine type headache. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Relief from Anxiety
Based on the RCT by Howard et al., it is inconclusive whether neuroimaging scans in persons with a chronic headache are anxiolytic. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this outcome is low.
System Services
Based on the RCT by Howard et al. scanning persons with chronic headache regardless of their anxiety and/or depression level reduces service use. The Grade quality of evidence is low.
System Costs
Based on the RCT by Howard et al., scanning persons with a score greater than 11 on the High Anxiety and Depression Scale reduces system costs. The Grade quality of evidence is moderate.
Comparative Effectiveness of CT and MRI Scans
There is sparse evidence to determine the relative effectiveness of CT compared with MRI scanning for the detection of intracranial abnormalities. The Grade quality of evidence supporting this is very low.
Economic Analysis
Ontario Perspective
Volumes for neuroimaging of the head i.e. CT and MRI scans, from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) data set were used to investigate trends in the province for Fiscal Years (FY) 2004-2009.
Assumptions were made in order to investigate neuroimaging of the head for the indication of headache. From the literature, 27% of all CT and 13% of all MRI scans for the head were assumed to include an indication of headache. From that same retrospective chart review and personal communication with the author 16% of CT scans and 4% of MRI scans for the head were for the sole indication of headache. From the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) wait times data, 73% of all CT and 93% of all MRI scans in the province, irrespective of indication were outpatient procedures.
The expenditure for each FY reflects the volume for that year and since volumes have increased in the past 6 FYs, the expenditure has also increased with a pay-out reaching 3.0M and 2.8M for CT and MRI services of the head respectively for the indication of headache and a pay-out reaching 1.8M and 0.9M for CT and MRI services of the head respectively for the indication of headache only in FY 08/09.
Cost per Abnormal Finding
The yield of abnormal finding for a CT and MRI scan of the head for the indication of headache only is 2% and 5% respectively. Based on these yield a high-level estimate of the cost per abnormal finding with neuroimaging of the head for headache only can be calculated for each FY. In FY 08/09 there were 37,434 CT and 16,197 MRI scans of the head for headache only. These volumes would generate a yield of abnormal finding of 749 and 910 with a CT scan and MRI scan respectively. The expenditure for FY 08/09 was 1.8M and 0.9M for CT and MRI services respectively. Therefore the cost per abnormal finding would be $2,409 for CT and $957 for MRI. These cost per abnormal finding estimates were limited because they did not factor in comparators or the consequences associated with an abnormal reading or FNs. The estimates only consider the cost of the neuroimaging procedure and the yield of abnormal finding with the respective procedure.
PMCID: PMC3377587  PMID: 23074404
5.  Impact of Community-Based Maternal Health Workers on Coverage of Essential Maternal Health Interventions among Internally Displaced Communities in Eastern Burma: The MOM Project 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(8):e1000317.
Mullany and colleagues report outcomes from a project involving delivery of community-based maternal health services in eastern Burma, and report substantial increases in coverage of care.
Access to essential maternal and reproductive health care is poor throughout Burma, but is particularly lacking among internally displaced communities in the eastern border regions. In such settings, innovative strategies for accessing vulnerable populations and delivering basic public health interventions are urgently needed.
Four ethnic health organizations from the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions collaborated on a pilot project between 2005 and 2008 to examine the feasibility of an innovative three-tiered network of community-based providers for delivery of maternal health interventions in the complex emergency setting of eastern Burma. Two-stage cluster-sampling surveys among ever-married women of reproductive age (15–45 y) conducted before and after program implementation enabled evaluation of changes in coverage of essential antenatal care interventions, attendance at birth by those trained to manage complications, postnatal care, and family planning services.
Among 2,889 and 2,442 women of reproductive age in 2006 and 2008, respectively, population characteristics (age, marital status, ethnic distribution, literacy) were similar. Compared to baseline, women whose most recent pregnancy occurred during the implementation period were substantially more likely to receive antenatal care (71.8% versus 39.3%, prevalence rate ratio [PRR] = 1.83 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64–2.04]) and specific interventions such as urine testing (42.4% versus 15.7%, PRR = 2.69 [95% CI 2.69–3.54]), malaria screening (55.9% versus 21.9%, PRR = 2.88 [95% CI 2.15–3.85]), and deworming (58.2% versus 4.1%, PRR = 14.18 [95% CI 10.76–18.71]. Postnatal care visits within 7 d doubled. Use of modern methods to avoid pregnancy increased from 23.9% to 45.0% (PRR = 1.88 [95% CI 1.63–2.17]), and unmet need for contraception was reduced from 61.7% to 40.5%, a relative reduction of 35% (95% CI 28%–40%). Attendance at birth by those trained to deliver elements of emergency obstetric care increased almost 10-fold, from 5.1% to 48.7% (PRR = 9.55 [95% CI 7.21–12.64]).
Coverage of maternal health interventions and higher-level care at birth was substantially higher during the project period. The MOM Project's focus on task-shifting, capacity building, and empowerment at the community level might serve as a model approach for similarly constrained settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Every minute, somewhere in the world, a woman dies of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Access to essential maternal and reproductive health care (including family planning) is particularly bad in war-torn countries. In Burma, for example, where there have been decades of conflict between the military junta and ethnic minority resistance groups, the maternal mortality rate (the number of deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes per 100,000 live births) is around 380, whereas in neighboring Thailand it is only 44. Maternal health is even worse in the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions of eastern Burma where ethnic conflicts and enforced village relocations have internally displaced more than half a million people. Here, the maternal mortality rate is around 1,200. In an effort to improve access to maternal health services in these regions, community-based organizations in Burma, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights, and the Global Health Access Program undertook an innovative pilot project—the Mobile Obstetric Medics (MOM) project—between 2005 and 2008. Local health workers from 12 communities in eastern Burma received training in antenatal care, obstetrics (the care of women during childbirth), postnatal care, and family planning at the Mae Tao Clinic in Mae Sot, Thailand. These “maternal health workers” then returned to Burma where they trained local health workers and traditional birth attendants to provide maternal health care to their communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before the MOM project started, nearly 3,000 women living in the study communities were surveyed to evaluate the coverage of essential antenatal care interventions such as urine testing for infections during pregnancy, screening for malaria, and deworming; Urinary tract infections, malaria, and hookworm infections all increase the risk of poor maternal and neonatal outcomes. The preproject survey also evaluated how many births were attended by people able to deal with complications, and the provision of postnatal care and family planning services. In this study, the researchers undertake a similar postproject survey to evaluate the impact of MOM on the coverage of essential maternal health interventions among internally displaced communities in eastern Burma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between October 2008 and December 2008, trained survey workers asked nearly 2,500 ever-married women of reproductive age from the project's study communities about their access to antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendants, and family planning. The results of the postproject survey were then compared with those of the “baseline,” preproject survey. The general characteristics (age, marital status, ethnicity, and literacy) of the women included in the two surveys were very similar. However, 71.8% of the women whose most recent pregnancy occurred during the implementation period of the MOM project had received antenatal care compared to only 39.3% of women surveyed at baseline. Similarly, among the women questioned during the postproject survey, 42.4% had had their urine tested and 55.9% had been screened for malaria during pregnancy compared to only 15.7% and 21.9%, respectively, of the women questioned in the preproject survey. Deworming had increased from 4.1% to 58.2% during the project, postnatal care visits within 7 days had doubled, and attendance at birth by people trained to deal with obstetric emergencies had increased 10-fold from 5.1% to 48.7%. Finally, the use of modern contraception methods (slow-release contraceptives, oral contraceptives, and condoms) had increased from 23.9% to 45.0%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal a substantial improvement in access to maternal and reproductive health care in the study communities during the MOM project. However, because the study compared two independent groups of women before and after implementation of the MOM project rather than concurrently comparing groups of women who did and did not receive the services provided by the MOM project, this study does not prove that the MOM approach was the cause of the changes in the coverage of essential maternal health care. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the type of approach used in the MOM project—the expansion of interventions (including components of emergency obstetric care) delivered outside healthcare facilities by community-based providers—might be an effective way to deliver maternal and reproductive health services in other parts of Burma and in other places where there are ongoing conflicts.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
More information about the MOM project is available in previous publications by the researchers in PLoS Medicine, in Reproductive Health Matters, and in Social Science and Medicine
Additional resources are also available on the MOM Project
The Reproductive Health Response in Conflict Consortium provides information on how conflicts affect reproductive health
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of health in Burma (in several languages)
The Mae Tao clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch both provide detailed information about human rights violations, including those that affect maternal health in Burma
The United Nations Population Fund provides information about safe motherhood and maternal and reproductive health during conflicts and among refugees (in several languages)
PMCID: PMC2914639  PMID: 20689805
6.  The Effectiveness of Mobile-Health Technology-Based Health Behaviour Change or Disease Management Interventions for Health Care Consumers: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001362.
Caroline Free and colleagues systematically review a fast-moving field, that of the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to healthcare consumers, and conclude that high-quality, adequately powered trials of optimized interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Mobile technologies could be a powerful media for providing individual level support to health care consumers. We conducted a systematic review to assess the effectiveness of mobile technology interventions delivered to health care consumers.
Methods and Findings
We searched for all controlled trials of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health care consumers using MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Global Health, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, UK NHS HTA (Jan 1990–Sept 2010). Two authors extracted data on allocation concealment, allocation sequence, blinding, completeness of follow-up, and measures of effect. We calculated effect estimates and used random effects meta-analysis. We identified 75 trials. Fifty-nine trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to improve disease management and 26 trials investigated their use to change health behaviours. Nearly all trials were conducted in high-income countries. Four trials had a low risk of bias. Two trials of disease management had low risk of bias; in one, antiretroviral (ART) adherence, use of text messages reduced high viral load (>400 copies), with a relative risk (RR) of 0.85 (95% CI 0.72–0.99), but no statistically significant benefit on mortality (RR 0.79 [95% CI 0.47–1.32]). In a second, a PDA based intervention increased scores for perceived self care agency in lung transplant patients. Two trials of health behaviour management had low risk of bias. The pooled effect of text messaging smoking cessation support on biochemically verified smoking cessation was (RR 2.16 [95% CI 1.77–2.62]). Interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some cases, but the results were not consistent. No evidence of publication bias was demonstrated on visual or statistical examination of the funnel plots for either disease management or health behaviours. To address the limitation of the older search, we also reviewed more recent literature.
Text messaging interventions increased adherence to ART and smoking cessation and should be considered for inclusion in services. Although there is suggestive evidence of benefit in some other areas, high quality adequately powered trials of optimised interventions are required to evaluate effects on objective outcomes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Every year, millions of people die from cardiovascular diseases (diseases of the heart and circulation), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a long-term lung disease), lung cancer, HIV infection, and diabetes. These diseases are increasingly important causes of mortality (death) in low- and middle-income countries and are responsible for nearly 40% of deaths in high-income countries. For all these diseases, individuals can adopt healthy behaviors that help prevent disease onset. For example, people can lower their risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease by maintaining a healthy body weight, and, if they are smokers, they can reduce their risk of lung cancer and cardiovascular disease by giving up cigarettes. In addition, optimal treatment of existing diseases can reduce mortality and morbidity (illness). Thus, in people who are infected with HIV, antiretroviral therapy delays the progression of HIV infection and the onset of AIDS, and in people who have diabetes, good blood sugar control can prevent retinopathy (a type of blindness) and other serious complications of diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Health-care providers need effective ways to encourage "health-care consumers" to make healthy lifestyle choices and to self-manage chronic diseases. The amount of information, encouragement and support that can be conveyed to individuals during face-to-face consultations or through traditional media such as leaflets is limited, but mobile technologies such as mobile phones and portable computers have the potential to transform the delivery of health messages. These increasingly popular technologies—more than two-thirds of the world's population now owns a mobile phone—can be used to deliver health messages to people anywhere and at the most relevant times. For example, smokers trying to quit smoking can be sent regular text messages to sustain their motivation, but can also use text messaging to request extra support when it is needed. But is "mHealth," the provision of health-related services using mobile communication technology, an effective way to deliver health messages to health-care consumers? In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers assess the effectiveness of mobile technology-based health behavior change interventions and disease management interventions delivered to health-care consumers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 75 controlled trials (studies that compare the outcomes of people who do and do not receive an intervention) of mobile technology-based health interventions delivered to health-care consumers that met their predefined criteria. Twenty-six trials investigated the use of mobile technologies to change health behaviors, 59 investigated their use in disease management, most were of low quality, and nearly all were undertaken in high-income countries. In one high-quality trial that used text messages to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-positive patients in Kenya, the intervention significantly reduced the patients’ viral load but did not significantly reduce mortality (the observed reduction in deaths may have happened by chance). In two high-quality UK trials, a smoking intervention based on text messaging (txt2stop) more than doubled biochemically verified smoking cessation. Other lower-quality trials indicated that using text messages to encourage physical activity improved diabetes control but had no effect on body weight. Combined diet and physical activity text messaging interventions also had no effect on weight, whereas interventions for other conditions showed suggestive benefits in some but not all cases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide mixed evidence for the effectiveness of health intervention delivery to health-care consumers using mobile technologies. Moreover, they highlight the need for additional high-quality controlled trials of this mHealth application, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Specifically, the demonstration that text messaging interventions increased adherence to antiretroviral therapy in a low-income setting and increased smoking cessation in a high-income setting provides some support for the inclusion of these two interventions in health-care services in similar settings. However, the effects of these two interventions need to be established in other settings and their cost-effectiveness needs to be measured before they are widely implemented. Finally, for other mobile technology–based interventions designed to change health behaviors or to improve self-management of chronic diseases, the results of this systematic review suggest that the interventions need to be optimized before further trials are undertaken to establish their clinical benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
A related PLOS Medicine Research Article by Free et al. investigates the ability of mHealth technologies to improve health-care service delivery processes
Wikipedia has a page on mHealth (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies is a global survey of mHealth prepared by the World Health Organization’s Global Observatory for eHealth (eHealth is health-care practice supported by electronic processes and communication)
The mHealth in Low-Resource Settings website, which is maintained by the Netherlands Royal Tropical Institute, provides information on the current use, potential, and limitations of mHealth in low-resource settings
More information about Txt2stop is available, the UK National Health Service Choices website provides an analysis of the Txt2stop trial and what its results mean, and the UK National Health Service Smokefree website provides a link to a Quit App for the iPhone
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a text messaging service that delivers regular health tips and alerts to mobile phones
PMCID: PMC3548655  PMID: 23349621
7.  Experiences of hospital care and treatment-seeking behavior for pain from sickle cell disease: qualitative study 
Western Journal of Medicine  1999;171(5-6):306-313.
To investigate how sociocultural factors influence the management of pain from sickle cell disease by comparing the experiences of those who usually manage their pain at home with the experiences of those who are more frequently admitted to hospital for management of their pain.
Qualitative analysis of semistructured individual interviews and focus group discussions.
57 participants with genotype SS or S/β-thal (44 participants) or SC (9 participants); the status of 4 participants was unknown. 40 participants took part in focus groups, 6 took part in both focus groups and interviews, and 9 were interviewed only. Participants were allocated to focus groups according to ethnic origin, sex, and the number of times that they had been admitted to the hospital for the management of painful crises during the previous year.
The relation between patients with sickle cell disease and hospital services is one of several major, nonclinical dimensions that shape experiences of pain management and behavior for seeking health care. Participants' experiences of hospital care show a range of interrelated themes that are common to most participants across variables of sex, ethnicity, and which hospital was attended. Themes identified included the mistrust of patients with sickle cell disease, stigmatization, excessive control (including both overtreatment and undertreatment of pain) and neglect. Individuals responded to the challenge of negotiating care with various strategies. Patients with sickle cell disease who are frequently admitted to hospital may try to develop long-term relationships with their caregivers, become passive or aggressive in their interactions with health professionals, or regularly attend different hospitals. Those who usually manage their pain at home expressed a strong sense of responsibility for the management of their pain and advocated self-education, assertiveness, and resistance as strategies toward hospital services.
The organization and delivery of management for the pain of a sickle cell crisis discourages self-reliance and encourages hospital dependence. Models of care should recognize the chronic nature of sickle cell disorders and give priority to patients' involvement in their care.
PMCID: PMC1308742  PMID: 18751193
8.  Explorations into the Synergy Between Faith, Health, and Health-Care Among Black Baptists 
U.S. health disparities are documented by race/ethnic, socioeconomic, gender, and geographic demographics. Since federal health record keeping began, regardless of other demographic factors, Black people continue to record statistical significant disparities. The complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) domain of mind-body medicine provides a method and language to assess the metaphysical constructs of faith, spirituality and religion and their influence on health and healthcare practices. Explorations into the synergy between faith, health and healthcare among a convenient sample of Black Baptist conventioneers provides an opportunity to better understand if and how faith can be used to enhance the health and wellbeing of Black people.
In 2005 a convenience sample of 2,500 Black persons among 10,000 Joint Baptist conventioneers participated in the study; 1,827 completed and returned an 80 item questionnaire. 500 surveys were lost due to computer malfunctions. Survey results covered: demographic, health/safety, health care, and faith/religion/health.
58.6% of respondents were women; 61% were married. Most (66.2%) reported good health and few were told by their physician they had a chronic disease. 33.5% never talk to their pastor about health problems or (42.7%) physician visits. Mental health responses: (98.7%) get along well with others; (93.6%) were satisfied with life; (92.8%) feel good about themselves; and (97.6%) were in good spirits most times. Many were in social organizations (40.6%). 96.1% felt religion was very important in their life; 91% thought religion affects physical/mental health; and 89.1% believed faith affects mental/physical health. 95.7% believe faith can change a health crisis. Most described religion and faith differently.
The Black Church has history in social justice connected to community health. Responses to religion/faith affirm the interconnectedness of the synergy between faith-health. Empowered by religious fervor to interpret their health status as positive; they must also balance perceptions with evidence-based health decision-making, health practices, and sustained healthcare utilization.
A thoughtful scrutiny of the constructs of health and healthcare enable a new paradigm – Optimal Health – to emerge2 The Black Church has and must forever be the institution that helps Black people to continue to grow and develop in journeying to reach their best possible emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual, and socioeconomic greatest state of aliveness, which is Optimal Health.3 In order to maximize the synergy between faith, health and health care; individuals, groups, and communities must harmonize physical, social, psychological, and spiritual well-being.4 The spiritual component can serve as the foundation on which the other three components rest.5 Considering many in this study who attended church or religious services three (3) or more times within the past 30 days and they rarely talked to their pastor concerning health problems or what their physician told them; the religious/church service through sermons, Sunday school, Bible class and various ministries can serve as a platform for health promotion in the Black Church and the larger Black community.
PMCID: PMC4046858  PMID: 24910479
9.  Effect of Depression Treatment on Chronic Pain Outcomes 
Psychosomatic medicine  2009;72(1):61-67.
People with chronic pain and depression have worse health outcomes than those with chronic pain alone. Little is known about the effectiveness of depression treatment for this population. We examined the effect of depression treatment on medical and social outcomes for individuals with chronic pain and depression
Propensity score weighted analyses using both waves (1997-1998 and 2000-2001) of the National Survey of Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Problems were used to examine the effect of (1) any depression treatment and (2) minimally adequate depression treatment on persistence of depression symptoms, depression severity, pain severity, overall health, mental health status, physical health status, social functioning, employment status, and number of work days missed. Analyses were limited to those who met CIDI-SF criteria for major depressive disorder, reported having at least one chronic pain condition, and completed both interviews (n=553).
Receiving any depression treatment was associated with higher scores on the mental component summary of the MOS SF-12, indicating better mental health (difference = 2.65 points, p=0.002) and less interference of pain on work (OR=0.57, p=0.02). Among those receiving treatment, minimal adequacy of treatment was not significantly associated with better outcomes.
Depression treatment improves mental health and reduces the effects of pain on work among those with chronic pain and depression. Understanding the effect of depression treatment on outcomes for this population is important for employers, healthcare providers treating this population, and policymakers working in this Decade of Pain Control and Research to improve care for chronic pain sufferers.
PMCID: PMC3171143  PMID: 19875633
pain; depression; quality assessment; outcomes
10.  Estimating the burden of musculoskeletal disorders in the community: the comparative prevalence of symptoms at different anatomical sites, and the relation to social deprivation 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1998;57(11):649-655.
BACKGROUND—Epidemiologically-based rheumatology healthcare needs assessment requires an understanding of the incidence and prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the community, of the reasons why people consult in primary care, and of the proportion of people who would benefit from referral to secondary care and paramedical services. This paper reports the first phase of such a needs assessment exercise.
SPECIFIC OBJECTIVE—To estimate the relative frequency of musculoskeletal pain in different, and multiple, anatomical sites in the adult population.
SETTING—Three general practices in the former Tameside and Glossop Health Authority, Greater Manchester, UK, a predominantly urban area.
DESIGN—Population survey.
METHODS—An age and sex stratified sample of 6000 adults from the three practices was mailed a questionnaire that sought data on demographic factors, musculoskeletal symptoms (pain in the past month lasting for more than a week), and physical disability (using the modified Health Assessment Questionnaire- mHAQ). The areas of pain covered were neck, back, shoulder, elbow, hand, hip, knee, and multiple joints. The Carstairs index was used as a measure of social deprivation of the postcode sector in which the person lived.
RESULTS—The response rate after two reminders was 78.5%. Non-responders were more likely to live in areas of high social deprivation. People who lived in more deprived areas were also more likely to report musculoskeletal pain, especially backpain. After adjusting for social deprivation the rates of musculoskeletal pain did not differ between the practices and so their results were combined. After adjustment for social deprivation, the most common site of pain was back (23%; 95% CI 21, 25) followed by knee (19%; 95% CI 18, 21), and shoulder (16%; 95% CI 14, 17). The majority of subjects who reported pain had pain in more than one site. The prevalence of physical disability in the community rose with age. It was highest in those with multiple joint problems but was also high in those with isolated back or knee pain.
CONCLUSION—Musculoskeletal pain is common in the community. People who live in socially deprived areas have more musculoskeletal symptoms. Estimates of the overall burden of musculoskeletal pain that combine the results of site specific surveys will be too high, those that do not adjust for socioeconomic factors will be too low.

 Keywords: prevalence; pain; social deprivation
PMCID: PMC1752494  PMID: 9924205
11.  Epidemiology of Regular Prescribed Opioid Use: Results from a National, Population-Based Survey 
Chronic pain occurs commonly and accounts for significant suffering and costs. Although use of opioids for treatment of chronic pain is increasing, little is known about patients who use opioids regularly. We report data from the second wave of the Healthcare for Communities survey (2000—2001), a large, nationally representative household survey. We compared regular users of prescription opioids to nonusers of opioids and calculated the percentage of individuals within a given demographic or disease state that reported chronic opioid use. Approximately 2% of the 7,909 survey respondents reported use of opioid medications for at least a month, which the Healthcare for Communities survey defined as “regular use.” Opioid users were more likely than nonusers to report high levels of pain interference with their daily lives and to rate their health as fair or poor. Arthritis and back pain were the most prevalent chronic, physical health conditions among users of opioids, with 63% of regular users of opioids reporting arthritis and 59% reporting back pain. The majority of regular users of opioids had multiple pain conditions (mean= 1.9 pain conditions). Regular opioid users appear to have an overall lower level of health status and to have multiple, chronic physical health disorders.
PMCID: PMC4741098  PMID: 18619768
Opioids; chronic noncancer pain; physical health; epidemiology; population-based survey
12.  Experiences of hospital care and treatment seeking for pain from sickle cell disease: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7198):1585-1590.
To investigate how sociocultural factors influence management of pain from sickle cell disease by comparing the experiences of those who usually manage their pain at home with those who are more frequently admitted to hospital for management of their pain.
Qualitative analysis of semistructured individual interviews and focus group discussions.
57 participants with genotype SS or S/β-thal (44 subjects) or SC (9) (4 were unknown). 40 participants took part in focus groups, six took part in both focus groups and interviews, and nine were interviewed only. Participants were allocated to focus groups according to number of hospital admissions for painful crisis management during the previous year, ethnic origin, and sex.
The relation between patients with sickle cell disease and hospital services is one of several major non-clinical dimensions shaping experiences of pain management and behaviour for seeking health care. Experiences of hospital care show a range of interrelated themes, which are common to most participants across variables of sex, ethnicity, and hospital attended: mistrust of patients with sickle cell disease; stigmatisation; excessive control (including both over- and undertreatment of pain); and neglect. Individuals respond to the challenge of negotiating care with various strategies. Patients with sickle cell disease who are frequently admitted to hospital may try to develop long term relationships with their carers, may become passive or aggressive in their interactions with health professionals, or may regularly attend different hospitals. Those individuals who usually manage their pain at home express a strong sense of self responsibility for their management of pain and advocate self education, assertiveness, and resistance as strategies towards hospital services.
The current organisation and delivery of management of pain for sickle cell crisis discourage self reliance and encourage hospital dependence. Models of care should recognise the chronic nature of sickle cell disorders and prioritise patients’ involvement in their care.
Key messagesThe chronic nature of sickle cell disorders has been insufficiently recognised, with policy and services oriented towards the acute management of a minority of those affectedExperiences of pain and patterns of hospital admission for sickle cell crisis may be influenced by sociocultural and psychological factors as well as disease severityThe experiences of patients with sickle cell disease of hospital care are characterised by mistrust, stigmatisation, control, and neglectIndividuals who usually manage their pain at home show different attitudes and strategies towards hospital services from those who are frequently admitted to hospitalModels of care should acknowledge the diversity of the population with sickle cell disorders and prioritise the involvement and empowerment of patients
PMCID: PMC28137  PMID: 10364116
13.  Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2011 Update 
Circulation  2010;123(4):e18-e209.
Each year, the American Heart Association (AHA), in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies, brings together the most up-to-date statistics on heart disease, stroke, other vascular diseases, and their risk factors and presents them in its Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update. The Statistical Update is a valuable resource for researchers, clinicians, healthcare policy makers, media professionals, the lay public, and many others who seek the best national data available on disease morbidity and mortality and the risks, quality of care, medical procedures and operations, and costs associated with the management of these diseases in a single document. Indeed, since 1999, the Statistical Update has been cited more than 8700 times in the literature (including citations of all annual versions). In 2009 alone, the various Statistical Updates were cited ≈1600 times (data from ISI Web of Science). In recent years, the Statistical Update has undergone some major changes with the addition of new chapters and major updates across multiple areas. For this year’s edition, the Statistics Committee, which produces the document for the AHA, updated all of the current chapters with the most recent nationally representative data and inclusion of relevant articles from the literature over the past year and added a new chapter detailing how family history and genetics play a role in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Also, the 2011 Statistical Update is a major source for monitoring both cardiovascular health and disease in the population, with a focus on progress toward achievement of the AHA’s 2020 Impact Goals. Below are a few highlights from this year’s Update.
Death Rates From CVD Have Declined, Yet the Burden of Disease Remains High
The 2007 overall death rate from CVD (International Classification of Diseases 10, I00–I99) was 251.2 per 100 000. The rates were 294.0 per 100 000 for white males, 405.9 per 100 000 for black males, 205.7 per 100 000 for white females, and 286.1 per 100 000 for black females. From 1997 to 2007, the death rate from CVD declined 27.8%. Mortality data for 2007 show that CVD (I00–I99; Q20–Q28) accounted for 33.6% (813 804) of all 2 243 712 deaths in 2007, or 1 of every 2.9 deaths in the United States.
On the basis of 2007 mortality rate data, more than 2200 Americans die of CVD each day, an average of 1 death every 39 seconds. More than 150 000 Americans killed by CVD (I00–I99) in 2007 were <65 years of age. In 2007, nearly 33% of deaths due to CVD occurred before the age of 75 years, which is well before the average life expectancy of 77.9 years.
Coronary heart disease caused ≈1 of every 6 deaths in the United States in 2007. Coronary heart disease mortality in 2007 was 406 351. Each year, an estimated 785 000 Americans will have a new coronary attack, and ≈470 000 will have a recurrent attack. It is estimated that an additional 195 000 silent first myocardial infarctions occur each year. Approximately every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and approximately every minute, someone will die of one.
Each year, ≈795 000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. Approximately 610 000 of these are first attacks, and 185 000 are recurrent attacks. Mortality data from 2007 indicate that stroke accounted for ≈1 of every 18 deaths in the United States. On average, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. From 1997 to 2007, the stroke death rate fell 44.8%, and the actual number of stroke deaths declined 14.7%.
In 2007, 1 in 9 death certificates (277 193 deaths) in the United States mentioned heart failure.
Prevalence and Control of Traditional Risk Factors Remains an Issue for Many Americans
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005–2008 indicate that 33.5% of US adults ≥20 years of age have hypertension (Table 7-1). This amounts to an estimated 76 400 000 US adults with hypertension. The prevalence of hypertension is nearly equal between men and women. African American adults have among the highest rates of hypertension in the world, at 44%. Among hypertensive adults, ≈80% are aware of their condition, 71% are using antihypertensive medication, and only 48% of those aware that they have hypertension have their condition controlled.
Despite 4 decades of progress, in 2008, among Americans ≥18 years of age, 23.1% of men and 18.3% of women continued to be cigarette smokers. In 2009, 19.5% of students in grades 9 through 12 reported current tobacco use. The percentage of the nonsmoking population with detectable serum cotinine (indicating exposure to secondhand smoke) was 46.4% in 1999 to 2004, with declines occurring, and was highest for those 4 to 11 years of age (60.5%) and those 12 to 19 years of age (55.4%).
An estimated 33 600 000 adults ≥20 years of age have total serum cholesterol levels ≥240 mg/dL, with a prevalence of 15.0% (Table 13-1).
In 2008, an estimated 18 300 000 Americans had diagnosed diabetes mellitus, representing 8.0% of the adult population. An additional 7 100 000 had undiagnosed diabetes mellitus, and 36.8% had prediabetes, with abnormal fasting glucose levels. African Americans, Mexican Americans, Hispanic/Latino individuals, and other ethnic minorities bear a strikingly disproportionate burden of diabetes mellitus in the United States (Table 16-1).
The 2011 Update Expands Data Coverage of the Obesity Epidemic and Its Antecedents and Consequences
The estimated prevalence of overweight and obesity in US adults (≥20 years of age) is 149 300 000, which represents 67.3% of this group in 2008. Fully 33.7% of US adults are obese (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2). Men and women of all race/ethnic groups in the population are affected by the epidemic of overweight and obesity (Table 15-1).
Among children 2 to 19 years of age, 31.9% are overweight and obese (which represents 23 500 000 children), and 16.3% are obese (12 000 000 children). Mexican American boys and girls and African American girls are disproportionately affected. Over the past 3 decades, the prevalence of obesity in children 6 to 11 years of age has increased from ≈4% to more than 20%.
Obesity (body mass index ≥30 kg/m2) is associated with marked excess mortality in the US population. Even more notable is the excess morbidity associated with overweight and obesity in terms of risk factor development and incidence of diabetes mellitus, CVD end points (including coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure), and numerous other health conditions, including asthma, cancer, degenerative joint disease, and many others.
The prevalence of diabetes mellitus is increasing dramatically over time, in parallel with the increases in prevalence of overweight and obesity.
On the basis of NHANES 2003–2006 data, the age-adjusted prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of major cardiovascular risk factors related to overweight/obesity and insulin resistance, is 34% (35.1% among men and 32.6% among women).
The proportion of youth (≤18 years of age) who report engaging in no regular physical activity is high, and the proportion increases with age. In 2007, among adolescents in grades 9 through 12, 29.9% of girls and 17.0% of boys reported that they had not engaged in 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, defined as any activity that increased heart rate or breathing rate, even once in the previous 7 days, despite recommendations that children engage in such activity ≥5 days per week.
Thirty-six percent of adults reported engaging in no vigorous activity (activity that causes heavy sweating and a large increase in breathing or heart rate).
Data from NHANES indicate that between 1971 and 2004, average total energy consumption among US adults increased by 22% in women (from 1542 to 1886 kcal/d) and by 10% in men (from 2450 to 2693 kcal/d; see Chart 19-1).
The increases in calories consumed during this time period are attributable primarily to greater average carbohydrate intake, in particular, of starches, refined grains, and sugars. Other specific changes related to increased caloric intake in the United States include larger portion sizes, greater food quantity and calories per meal, and increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, snacks, commercially prepared (especially fast food) meals, and higher energy-density foods.
The 2011 Update Provides Critical Data Regarding Cardiovascular Quality of Care, Procedure Utilization, and Costs
In light of the current national focus on healthcare utilization, costs, and quality, it is critical to monitor and understand the magnitude of healthcare delivery and costs, as well as the quality of healthcare delivery, related to CVDs. The Update provides these critical data in several sections.
Quality-of-Care Metrics for CVDs
Chapter 20 reviews many metrics related to the quality of care delivered to patients with CVDs, as well as healthcare disparities. In particular, quality data are available from the AHA’s “Get With The Guidelines” programs for coronary artery disease and heart failure and the American Stroke Association/ AHA’s “Get With the Guidelines” program for acute stroke. Similar data from the Veterans Healthcare Administration, national Medicare and Medicaid data and National Cardiovascular Data Registry Acute Coronary Treatment and Intervention Outcomes Network - “Get With The Guidelines” Registry data are also reviewed. These data show impressive adherence with guideline recommendations for many, but not all, metrics of quality of care for these hospitalized patients. Data are also reviewed on screening for cardiovascular risk factor levels and control.
Cardiovascular Procedure Utilization and Costs
Chapter 21 provides data on trends and current usage of cardiovascular surgical and invasive procedures. For example, the total number of inpatient cardiovascular operations and procedures increased 27%, from 5 382 000 in 1997 to 6 846 000 in 2007 (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute computation based on National Center for Health Statistics annual data).
Chapter 22 reviews current estimates of direct and indirect healthcare costs related to CVDs, stroke, and related conditions using Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data. The total direct and indirect cost of CVD and stroke in the United States for 2007 is estimated to be $286 billion. This figure includes health expenditures (direct costs, which include the cost of physicians and other professionals, hospital services, prescribed medications, home health care, and other medical durables) and lost productivity resulting from mortality (indirect costs). By comparison, in 2008, the estimated cost of all cancer and benign neoplasms was $228 billion ($93 billion in direct costs, $19 billion in morbidity indirect costs, and $116 billion in mortality indirect costs). CVD costs more than any other diagnostic group.
The AHA, through its Statistics Committee, continuously monitors and evaluates sources of data on heart disease and stroke in the United States to provide the most current data available in the Statistics Update. The 2007 mortality data have been released. More information can be found at the National Center for Health Statistics Web site,
Finally, it must be noted that this annual Statistical Update is the product of an entire year’s worth of effort by dedicated professionals, volunteer physicians and scientists, and outstanding AHA staff members, without whom publication of this valuable resource would be impossible. Their contributions are gratefully acknowledged. Véronique L. Roger, MD, MPH, FAHAMelanie B. Turner, MPHOn behalf of the American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics Writing Group
Note: Population data used in the compilation of NHANES prevalence estimates is for the latest year of the NHANES survey being used. Extrapolations for NHANES prevalence estimates are based on the census resident population for 2008 because this is the most recent year of NHANES data used in the Statistical Update.
PMCID: PMC4418670  PMID: 21160056
AHA Statistical Update; cardiovascular diseases; epidemiology; risk factors; statistics; stroke
14.  Determinants of maternal health services utilization in urban settings of the Democratic Republic of Congo – A Case study of Lubumbashi City 
The use of maternal health services, known as an indirect indicator of perinatal death, is still unknown in Lubumbashi. The present study was therefore undertaken in order to determine the factors that influence the use of mother and child healthcare services in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This was transversal study of women residing in Lubumbashi who had delivered between January and December 2009. In total, 1762 women were sampled from households using indicator cluster surveys in all health zones. Antenatal consultations (ANC), delivery assisted by qualified healthcare personnel (and delivery in a healthcare facility) as well as postnatal consultations (PNC) were dependent variables of study. The factors determining non-use of maternal healthcare services were researched via logistic regression with a 5% materiality threshold.
The use of maternal healthcare services was variable; 92.6% of women had attended ANC at least once, 93.8% of women had delivered at a healthcare facility, 97.2% had delivered in the presence of qualified healthcare personnel, while the rate of caesarean section was 4.5%. Only 34.6% postnatal women had attended PNC by 42 days after delivery. During these ANC visits, only 60.6% received at least one dose of vaccine, while 38.1% received Mebendazole, 35.6% iron, 32.7% at least one dose of SulfadoxinePyrimethamine, 29.2% folic acid, 15.5% screening for HIV and 12.8% an insecticide treated net.
In comparison to women that had had two or three deliveries before, primiparous and grand multiparous women were twice as likely not to use ANC during their pregnancy. Women who had unplanned pregnancies were also more likely not to use ANC or PNC than those who had planned pregnancies alone or with their partner. The women who had not used ANC were also more likely not to use PNC. The women who had had a trouble-free delivery were more likely not to use PNC than those who had complications when delivering.
In Lubumbashi, a significant proportion of women continue not to make use of healthcare services during pregnancy, as well as during and after childbirth. Women giving birth for the first time, those who have already given birth many times, and women with an unwanted pregnancy, made less use of ANC. Moreover, women who had not gone for ANC rarely came back for postnatal consultations, even if they had given birth at a healthcare facility. Similarly, those who gave birth without complications, less frequently made use of postnatal consultations. As with ANCs, women with unwanted pregnancies rarely went for postnatal visits.
In addition to measures aimed at reinforcing women’s autonomy, efforts are also needed to reinforce and improve the information given to women of childbearing age, as well as communication between the healthcare system and the community, and participation from the community, since this will contribute to raising awareness of safe motherhood and the use of such services, including family planning.
PMCID: PMC3449182  PMID: 22780957
15.  Endovascular Radiofrequency Ablation for Varicose Veins 
Executive Summary
The objective of the MAS evidence review was to conduct a systematic review of the available evidence on the safety, effectiveness, durability and cost–effectiveness of endovascular radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for the treatment of primary symptomatic varicose veins.
The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) met on August 26th, 2010 to review the safety, effectiveness, durability, and cost-effectiveness of RFA for the treatment of primary symptomatic varicose veins based on an evidence-based review by the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS).
Clinical Condition
Varicose veins (VV) are tortuous, twisted, or elongated veins. This can be due to existing (inherited) valve dysfunction or decreased vein elasticity (primary venous reflux) or valve damage from prior thrombotic events (secondary venous reflux). The end result is pooling of blood in the veins, increased venous pressure and subsequent vein enlargement. As a result of high venous pressure, branch vessels balloon out leading to varicosities (varicose veins).
Symptoms typically affect the lower extremities and include (but are not limited to): aching, swelling, throbbing, night cramps, restless legs, leg fatigue, itching and burning. Left untreated, venous reflux tends to be progressive, often leading to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). A number of complications are associated with untreated venous reflux: including superficial thrombophlebitis as well as variceal rupture and haemorrhage. CVI often results in chronic skin changes referred to as stasis dermatitis. Stasis dermatitis is comprised of a spectrum of cutaneous abnormalities including edema, hyperpigmentation, eczema, lipodermatosclerosis and stasis ulceration. Ulceration represents the disease end point for severe CVI. CVI is associated with a reduced quality of life particularly in relation to pain, physical function and mobility. In severe cases, VV with ulcers, QOL has been rated to be as bad or worse as other chronic diseases such as back pain and arthritis.
Lower limb VV is a very common disease affecting adults – estimated to be the 7th most common reason for physician referral in the US. There is a very strong familial predisposition to VV. The risk in offspring is 90% if both parents affected, 20% when neither affected and 45% (25% boys, 62% girls) if one parent affected. The prevalence of VV worldwide ranges from 5% to 15% among men and 3% to 29% among women varying by the age, gender and ethnicity of the study population, survey methods and disease definition and measurement. The annual incidence of VV estimated from the Framingham Study was reported to be 2.6% among women and 1.9% among men and did not vary within the age range (40-89 years) studied.
Approximately 1% of the adult population has a stasis ulcer of venous origin at any one time with 4% at risk. The majority of leg ulcer patients are elderly with simple superficial vein reflux. Stasis ulcers are often lengthy medical problems and can last for several years and, despite effective compression therapy and multilayer bandaging are associated with high recurrence rates. Recent trials involving surgical treatment of superficial vein reflux have resulted in healing and significantly reduced recurrence rates.
Endovascular Radiofrequency Ablation for Varicose Veins
RFA is an image-guided minimally invasive treatment alternative to surgical stripping of superficial venous reflux. RFA does not require an operating room or general anaesthesia and has been performed in an outpatient setting by a variety of medical specialties including surgeons and interventional radiologists. Rather than surgically removing the vein, RFA works by destroying or ablating the refluxing vein segment using thermal energy delivered through a radiofrequency catheter.
Prior to performing RFA, color-flow Doppler ultrasonography is used to confirm and map all areas of venous reflux to devise a safe and effective treatment plan. The RFA procedure involves the introduction of a guide wire into the target vein under ultrasound guidance followed by the insertion of an introducer sheath through which the RFA catheter is advanced. Once satisfactory positioning has been confirmed with ultrasound, a tumescent anaesthetic solution is injected into the soft tissue surrounding the target vein along its entire length. This serves to anaesthetize the vein, insulate the heat from damaging adjacent structures, including nerves and skin and compresses the vein increasing optimal contact of the vessel wall with the electrodes or expanded prongs of the RF device. The RF generator is then activated and the catheter is slowly pulled along the length of the vein. At the end of the procedure, hemostasis is then achieved by applying pressure to the vein entry point.
Adequate and proper compression stockings and bandages are applied after the procedure to reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism and to reduce postoperative bruising and tenderness. Patients are encouraged to walk immediately after the procedure. Follow-up protocols vary, with most patients returning 1 to 3 weeks later for an initial follow-up visit. At this point, the initial clinical result is assessed and occlusion of the treated vessels is confirmed with ultrasound. Patients often have a second follow-up visit 1 to 3 months following RFA at which time clinical evaluation and ultrasound are repeated. If required, additional procedures such as phlebectomy or sclerotherapy may be performed during the RFA procedure or at any follow-up visits.
Regulatory Status
The Closure System® radiofrequency generator for endovascular thermal ablation of varicose veins was approved by Health Canada as a class 3 device in March 2005, registered under medical device license 67865. The RFA intravascular catheter was approved by Health Canada in November 2007 for the ClosureFast catheter, registered under medical device license 16574. The Closure System® also has regulatory approvals in Australia, Europe (CE Mark) and the United States (FDA clearance). In Ontario, RFA is not an insured service and is currently being introduced in private clinics.
Literature Search
The MAS evidence–based review was performed to support public financing decisions. The literature search was performed on March 9th, 2010 using standard bibliographic databases for studies published up until March, 2010.
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-reports and human studies Original reports with defined study methodologyReports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, durability, quality of life or patient satisfaction Reports involving RFA for varicose veins (great or small saphenous veins)Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analysesCohort and controlled clinical studies involving ≥ 1 month ultrasound imaging follow-up
Exclusion Criteria
Non systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials Reports not involving outcome events such as safety, effectiveness, durability, or patient satisfaction following an intervention with RFAReports not involving interventions with RFA for varicose veinsPilot studies or studies with small samples (< 50 subjects)
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence search on the safety and effectiveness of endovascular RFA ablation of VV identified the following evidence: three HTAs, nine systematic reviews, eight randomized controlled trials (five comparing RFA to surgery and three comparing RFA to ELT), five controlled clinical trials and fourteen cohort case series (four were multicenter registry studies).
The majority (12⁄14) of the cohort studies (3,664) evaluating RFA for VV involved treatment with first generation RFA catheters and the great saphenous vein (GSV) was the target vessel in all studies. Major adverse events were uncommonly reported and the overall pooled major adverse event rate extracted from the cohort studies was 2.9% (105⁄3,664). Imaging defined treatment effectiveness of vein closure rates were variable ranging from 68% to 96% at post-operative follow-up. Vein ablation rate at 6-month follow-up was reported in four studies with rates close to 90%. Only one study reported vein closure rates at 2 years but only for a minority of the eligible cases. The two studies reporting on RFA ablation with the more efficient second generation catheters involved better follow-up and reported higher ablation rates close to 100% at 6-month follow-up with no major adverse events. A large prospective registry trial that recruited over 1,000 patients at thirty-four largely European centers reported on treatment success in six overlapping reports on selected patient subgroups at various follow-up points up to 5 year. However, the follow-up for eligible recruited patients at all time points was low resulting in inadequate estimates of longer term treatment efficacy.
The overall level of evidence of randomized trials comparing RFA with surgical ligation and vein stripping (n = 5) was graded as low to moderate. In all trials RFA ablation was performed with first generation catheters in the setting of the operating theatre under general anaesthesia, usually without tumescent anaesthesia. Procedure times were significantly longer after RFA than surgery. Recovery after treatment was significantly quicker after RFA both with return to usual activity and return to work with on average a one week less of work loss. Major adverse events occurring after surgery were higher [(1.8% (n=4) vs. 0.4% (n = 1) than after RFA but not significantly. Treatment effectiveness measured by imaging defined vein absence or vein closure was comparable in the two treatment groups. Significant improvements in vein symptoms and quality of life over baseline were reported for both treatment groups. Improvements in these outcomes were significantly greater in the RFA group than the surgery group in the peri-operative period but not in later follow-up. Follow-up in these trials was inadequate to evaluate longer term recurrence for either treatment. Patient satisfaction was reported to be high for both treatments but was higher for RFA.
The studies comparing endovascular treatment approaches for VV (RFA and ELT) were more limited. Three RCT studies compared RFA (two with the second generation catheter) with ELT but mainly focused on peri-procedural outcomes such as pain, complications and recovery. Vein ablation rates were not evaluated in the trials, except for one small trial involving bilateral VV. Pain responses in patients undergoing ablation were extremely variable and up to 2 weeks, mean pain levels were significantly less with RFA than ELT ablation but differences were not significant at one month. Recovery, evaluated as return to usual activity or return to work, however, was similar in the treatment groups. Vein symptom and QOL improvements were improved in both groups but were significantly better in the RFA group than the ELT group at 2 weeks, but not at one month. Vein ablation rates were evaluated in several controlled clinical studies comparing the treatments between centers or within centers between individuals or over time. Comparisons in these studies were inconsistent with vein ablation rates for RFA reported to be similar to, higher than and lower than those with ELT.
Economic Analysis
RFA and surgical vein stripping, the main comparator reimbursed by the public system, are comparable in clinical benefits. Hence a cost-analysis was conducted to identify the differences in resources and costs between both procedures and a budgetary impact analysis (BIA) was conducted to project costs over a 5- year period in the province of Ontario. The target population of this economic analysis was patients with symptomatic varicose veins and the primary analytic perspective was that of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
The average case cost (based on Ontario hospital costs and medical resources) for surgical vein stripping was estimated to be $1,799. In order to calculate a procedural cost for RFA it was assumed that the hospital cost and physician labour fees, excluding anaesthesia and surgical assistance, were the same as vein stripping surgery. The manufacturer also provided details on the generator with a capital cost of $27,500 and a lifespan of 5 years and the disposables (catheter, sheath, guidewire) with a cost of $673 per case. The average case cost for RFA was therefore estimated to be $1,356. One-way sensitivity analysis was also conducted with hospital cost of RFA varied to 60% that of vein stripping surgery (average cost per case = $627.08) to calculate an impact to the province.
Historical volumes of vein stripping surgeries in Ontario were used to project surgeries in a linear fashion up to five years into the future. Volumes for RFA and ELT were calculated based on share capture from the surgery market based on discussion with clinical expert opinion and existing private data based on discussion with the manufacturer. RFA is expected to compete with ELT and capture some of the market. If ELT is reimbursed by the public sector then numbers will continue to increase from previous private data and share capture from the conventional surgical treatment market. Therefore, RFA cases will also increase since it will be capturing a share of the ELT market. A budget impact to the province was then calculated by multiplying volumes by the cost of the procedure.
RFA is comparable in clinical benefits to vein stripping surgery. It has the extra upfront cost of the generator and cost per case for disposables but does not require an operating theater, anaesthetist or surgical assistant fees. The impact to the province is expected to be 5 M by Year 5 with the introduction of new ELT and RFA image guided endovascular technologies and existing surgery for varicose veins.
The conclusions on the comparative outcomes between endovascular RFA and surgical ligation and saphenous vein stripping and between endovascular RFA and laser ablation for VV treatment are summarized in the table below (ES Table 1).
Outcome comparisons of RFA vs. surgery and RFA vs ELT for varicose veins
ELT refers to endovascular laser ablation; RFA, radiofrequency ablation
The outcomes of the evidence-based review on these treatments for VV based on different perspectives are summarized below:
RFA First versus Second Generation Catheters and Segmental Ablation
Ablation with second generation catheters and segmental ablation offered technical advantages with improved ease and significant decreases in procedure time. RFA ablation with second generation catheters is also no longer restricted to smaller (< 12 mm diameter) saphenous veins. The safety profile with the new device and method of energy delivery is as good as or improved over the first generation device. No major adverse events were reported in two multicenter prospective cohort studies in 6 month follow-up with over 500 patients. Post-operative complications such as bruising and pain were significantly less with RFA ablation with second generation catheters than ELT in two RCT trials.RFA treatment with second generation catheters has ablation rates that are higher than with first generation catheters and are more comparable with the consistently high rates of ELT.
Endovascular RFA versus Surgery
RFA has a quicker recovery attributable to decreased pain and lower minor complications.RFA, in the short term was comparable to surgery in treatment effectiveness as assessed by imaging defined anatomic outcomes such as vein closure, flow or reflux. Other treatment outcomes such as symptomatic relief and HRQOL were significantly improved in both groups and between group differences in the early peri-operative period were likely influenced by pain experiences. Longer term follow-up was inadequate to evaluate recurrence after either treatment.Patient satisfaction was high after both treatments but was higher for RFA than surgery.
Endovascular RFA versus ELT
RFA has significantly less post-operative pain than ELT but differences were not significant when pain was adjusted for analgesic use and pain differences between groups did not persist at 1 month follow-up.Treatment effectiveness, measured as symptom relief and QOL improvement were similar between the endovascular treatments in the short term (within 1 month) Treatment effectiveness measured as imaging defined vein ablation was not measured in any RCT trials (only for bilateral VV disease) and results were inconsistently reported in observational trials.Longer term follow-up was not available to assess recurrence after either treatment.
System Outcomes – RFA Replacing Surgery or Competing with ELT
RFA may offer system advantages in that the treatment can be offered by several medical specialties in outpatient settings and because it does not require an operating theatre or general anaesthesia. The treatment may result in decanting of patients from OR with decreased pre-surgical investigations, demand on anaesthetists’ time, hospital stay and wait time for VV treatment. It may also provide more reliable outpatient scheduling. Procedure costs may be less for endovascular approaches than surgery but the budget impact may be greater with insurance of RFA because of the transfer of cases from the private market to the public payer system.Competition between RFA and ELT endovascular approaches is likely to continue to stimulate innovation and technical changes to advance patient care and result in competitive pricing.
PMCID: PMC3377553  PMID: 23074413
16.  PROSpER: PReferences for the Organisation of acute health Services for oldER people: protocol for a mixed methods study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e001081.
Organisation of acute care services for people living in residential aged care facilities (RACF) is a complex area of health policy. For people living in RACF, the emergency department is often used to provide acute care; needs of RACF residents, however, are not always well met. Alternative models of delivering care must be acceptable to a variety of stakeholders; however, little is known about the values and preferences that people attach to aspects of how and where care is delivered.
The PROSpER Study examines people's preferences for the organisation of acute healthcare services for older people in RACF. The authors aim to (1) determine which factors influence preferences of residents, carers and providers for how and where acute care is delivered and (2) determine the relative importance of these factors and the acceptable trade-offs between them. Qualitative and quantitative methods will be used. One-on-one interviews will be conducted with RACF residents, their families, staff of RACF and emergency department staff. A discrete choice study will then be designed to quantitatively assess preferences for alternative models of care delivery. Approximately 600 respondents from three respondent groups will be surveyed: older people living in RACF, family members of aged care residents and staff of RACF. A mixed logit model will be used; results will be expressed as parameter estimates (β) and odds of choosing one option over an alternative. Trade-offs between attributes will also be calculated.
Ethics and dissemination
The PROSpER Study has been approved by the University of Sydney, Human Research Ethics Committee (Protocol numbers 10653 and 14382) and Royal Perth Hospital Ethics Committee (reference 2009/045). Results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and via conference presentations; a newsletter will also be provided to study participants. A stakeholder roundtable will also be held to discuss the results.
Article summary
Article focus
To assess the preferences of older people living in residential aged care facilities (RACF), their families and staff in relation to the provision of acute health care services for older Australians in RACF.
To determine what factors most influence the preferences of these stakeholders for how and where acute care is delivered.
To determine the relative importance of these factors and the trade-offs between them.
Key messages
The organisation of acute healthcare services for older people living in RACF is a complex area of health policy involving considerations of clinical, economic, ethical and legal issues. For older people living in RACF, the emergency department is frequently used to provide acute care services. While emergency department generally works well if people have a short-term problem that can be resolved with a one-off intervention, the needs of people from RACF, often with chronic disease, multiple complex health problems and frailty are less well met.
Alternative models of delivering acute care need to be acceptable to the residents, family and RACF staff; however, little is known about the values and preferences that people attach to aspects of how and where care is delivered or the trade-offs between various aspects of care that people are willing to make.
This study will use best practice qualitative and quantitative methods for preference elicitation (a discrete choice experiment) to assess the preferences and acceptable trade-offs of RACF residents, their families and staff for alternative healthcare delivery models.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The strengths of the study are that it is the first study to use discrete choice methods to examine preferences for alternative models of acute healthcare service delivery in multiple stakeholder groups: residents of RACF, their families and RACF staff.
The limitation is that it is conducted in one country, Australia, and thus its generalisability may be limited by the prevailing model of acute healthcare service delivery.
PMCID: PMC3317141  PMID: 22466038
17.  Analysis of changes in the association of income and the utilization of curative health services in Mexico between 2000 and 2006 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:771.
A common characteristic of health systems in most developing countries is unequal access to health services. As a result, members of the poorest population groups often do not receive formal attention for health services, because they cannot afford it. In 2001 in Mexico, to address income-related differences in the use of health services, the government launched a major healthcare reform, which includes a health insurance program called Seguro Popular, aimed at improving healthcare access among poor, uninsured residents. This paper analyzes the before and after changes in the demand for curative ambulatory health services focusing on the association of income-related characteristics and the utilization of formal healthcare providers vs. no healthcare service utilization.
By using two nationally representative health surveys (ENSA-2000 and ENSANUT-2006), we modeled an individual's decision when experiencing an illness to use services provided by the (1) Ministry of Health (MoH), (2) social security, (3) private entities, or (4) to not use formal services (no healthcare service utilization).
Poorer individuals were more likely in 2006 than in 2000 to respond to an illness by using formal healthcare providers. Trends in provider selection differed, however. The probability of using public services from the MoH increased among the poorest population, while the findings indicated an increase in utilization of private health services among members of low- and middle-income groups. No significant change was seen among formal workers -covered by social security services-, regardless of socioeconomic status.
Overall, for 2006 the Mexican population appears less differentiated in using healthcare across economic groups than in 2000. This may be related, in part, to the implementation of Seguro Popular, which seems to be stimulating healthcare demand among the poorest and previously uninsured segment of the population. Still, public health authorities need to address the remaining income-related healthcare utilization differences, the differences in quality between public and private health services, and the general perception that MoH facilities offer inferior services.
PMCID: PMC3203078  PMID: 21978183
18.  Is it feasible and effective to provide osteopathy and acupuncture for patients with musculoskeletal problems in a GP setting? A service evaluation 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:49.
Spinal manipulation and acupuncture can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain. Both approaches are currently recommended by NICE as treatment options for patients with persistent low back pain. However, there has been no previous evaluation of a GP service using them together for MSK pain. The purpose of this study was to evaluate acceptability and outcomes for an osteopathy and acupuncture service (delivered by complementary therapy practitioners) for patients with MSK problems provided within a General Practice.
Patients were asked to complete a questionnaire before and after their course of treatment. Outcome measures included the Bournemouth Questionnaire (measuring MSK problems), EuroQoL-5D (measuring quality of life), medication use, physical activity and general well-being. Non-parametric tests were used to compare pre- and post- treatment variables. Qualitative data, regarding participants' views on the service, were collected from patients via a service survey and healthcare professionals via interviews. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis.
123 adults with MSK problems were referred into the service (79 female and 44 male, mean age 49 years). Complete patient questionnaire data sets (pre- and post- treatment) were available for 102 participants; 91 completed a service survey. All healthcare professionals involved in the service participated in interviews including all seven GPs and the administration manager at the practice, as well as the three acupuncture/osteopathy practitioners.
Patient outcomes: comparisons between pre and post-treatment revealed a statistically significant improvement in MSK pain (p < 0.0001) and quality of life (p < 0.0001), and a statistically significant reduction in medication use (p < 0.0001). Qualitative analysis found that patients reported improvements in their MSK pain, mobility, other physical health conditions, well-being and self-management of their MSK problem.
Acceptability of the service: overall patients and healthcare professionals were satisfied with the service and its provision within the Practice. Patients reported wanting increased appointment availability and flexibility, and more sessions. Complementary therapy practitioners reported finding the high number of referrals of chronic patients challenging, and wanting increased communication with GPs.
Provision of acupuncture and osteopathy for MSK pain is achievable in General Practice. A GP surgery can quickly adapt to incorporate complementary therapy provided key principles are followed.
PMCID: PMC3141509  PMID: 21668962
19.  Balloon Kyphoplasty 
Executive Summary
To review the evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures (VCFs).
Clinical Need
Vertebral compression fractures are one of the most common types of osteoporotic fractures. They can lead to chronic pain and spinal deformity. They are caused when the vertebral body (the thick block of bone at the front of each vertebra) is too weak to support the loads of activities of daily living. Spinal deformity due to a collapsed vertebral body can substantially affect the quality of life of elderly people, who are especially at risk for osteoporotic fractures due to decreasing bone mass with age. A population-based study across 12 European centres recently found that VCFs have a negative impact on health-related quality of life. Complications associated with VCFs are pulmonary dysfunction, eating disorders, loss of independence, and mental status change due to pain and the use of medications. Osteoporotic VCFs also are associated with a higher rate of death.
VCFs affect an estimated 25% of women over age 50 years and 40% of women over age 80 years. Only about 30% of these fractures are diagnosed in clinical practice. A Canadian multicentre osteoporosis study reported on the prevalence of vertebral deformity in Canada in people over 50 years of age. To define the limit of normality, they plotted a normal distribution, including mean and standard deviations (SDs) derived from a reference population without any deformity. They reported a prevalence rate of 23.5% in women and a rate of 21.5% in men, using 3 SDs from the mean as the limit of normality. When they used 4 SDs, the prevalence was 9.3% and 7.3%, respectively. They also found the prevalence of vertebral deformity increased with age. For people older than 80 years of age, the prevalence for women and men was 45% and 36%, respectively, using 3 SDs as the limit of normality.
About 85% of VCFs are due to primary osteoporosis. Secondary osteoporosis and neoplasms account for the remaining 15%. A VCF is operationally defined as a reduction in vertebral body height of at least 20% from the initial measurement. It is considered mild if the reduction in height is between 20% and 25%; moderate, if it is between 25% and 40%; and severs, if it is more than 40%. The most frequently fractured locations are the third-lower part of the thorax and the superior lumbar levels. The cervical vertebrae and the upper third of the thorax are rarely involved.
Traditionally, bed rest, medication, and bracing are used to treat painful VCFs. However, anti-inflammatory and narcotic medications are often poorly tolerated by the elderly and may harm the gastrointestinal tract. Bed rest and inactivity may accelerate bone loss, and bracing may restrict diaphragmatic movement. Furthermore, medical treatment does not treat the fracture in a way that ameliorates the pain and spinal deformity.
Over the past decade, the injection of bone cement through the skin into a fractured vertebral body has been used to treat VCFs. The goal of cement injection is to reduce pain by stabilizing the fracture. The secondary indication of these procedures is management of painful vertebral fractures caused by benign or malignant neoplasms (e.g., hemangioma, multiple myeloma, and metastatic cancer).
The Technology
Balloon kyphoplasty is a modified vertebroplasty technique. It is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to relieve pain, restore vertebral height, and correct kyphosis. During this procedure, an inflatable bone tamp is inserted into the collapsed vertebral body. Once inflated, the balloon elevates the end plates and thereby restores the height of the vertebral body. The balloon is deflated and removed, and the space is filled with bone cement. Creating a space in the vertebral body enables the application of more viscous cement and at a much lower pressure than is needed for vertebroplasty. This may result in less cement leakage and fewer complications. Balloons typically are inserted bilaterally, into each fractured vertebral body. Kyphoplasty usually is done under general anesthesia in about 1.5 hours. Patients typically are observed for only a few hours after the surgery, but some may require an overnight hospital stay.
Health Canada has licensed KyphX Xpander Inflatable Bone Tamp (Kyphon Inc., Sunnyvale, CA), for kyphoplasty in patients with VCFs. KyphX is the only commercially available device for percutaneous kyphoplasty. The KyphX kit uses a series of bone filler device tubes. Each bone filler device must be loaded manually with cement. The cement is injected into the cavity by pressing an inner stylet.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration cleared the KyphX Inflatable Bone Tamp for marketing in July 1998. CE (Conformité European) marketing was obtained in February 2000 for the reduction of fracture and/or creation of a void in cancellous bone.
Review Strategy
The aim of this literature review was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of balloon kyphoplasty in the treatment of painful VCFs.
INAHTA, Cochrane CCTR (formerly Cochrane Controlled Trials Register), and DSR were searched for health technology assessment reports. In addition, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations were searched from January 1, 2000 to September 21, 2004. The search was limited to English-language articles and human studies.
The positive end points selected for this assessment were as follows:
Reduction in pain scores
Reduction in vertebral height loss
Reduction in kyphotic (Cobb) angle
Improvement in quality of life scores
The search did not yield any health technology assessments on balloon kyphoplasty. The search yielded 152 citations, including those for review articles. No randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on balloon kyphoplasty were identified. All of the published studies were either prospective cohort studies or retrospective studies with no controls. Eleven studies (all case series) met the inclusion criteria. There was also a comparative study published in German that had been translated into English.
Summary of Findings
The results of the 1 comparative study (level 3a evidence) that was included in this review showed that, compared with conservative medical care, balloon kyphoplasty significantly improved patient outcomes.
Patients who had balloon kyphoplasty reported a significant reduction in pain that was maintained throughout follow-up (6 months), whereas pain scores did not change in the control group. Patients in the balloon kyphoplasty group did not need pain medication after 3 days. In the control group, about one-half of the patients needed more pain medication in the first 4 weeks after the procedure. After 6 weeks, 82% of the patients in the control group were still taking pain medication regularly.
Adjacent fractures were more frequent in the control group than in the balloon kyphoplasty group.
The case series reported on several important clinical outcomes.
Pain: Four studies on osteoporosis patients and 1 study on patients with multiple myeloma/primary cancers used the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) to measure pain before and after balloon kyphoplasty. All of these studies reported that patients had significantly less pain after the procedure. This was maintained during follow-up. Two other studies on patients with osteoporosis also used the VAS to measure pain and found a significant improvement in pain scores; however, they did not provide follow-up data.
Vertebral body height: All 5 studies that assessed vertebral body height in patients with osteoporosis reported a significant improvement in vertebral body height after balloon kyphoplasty. One study had 1-year follow-up data for 26 patients. Vertebral body height was significantly better at 6 months and 1 year for both the anterior and midline measurements.
Two studies reported that vertebral body height was restored significantly after balloon kyphoplasty for patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. In another study, the researchers reported complete height restoration in 9% of patients, a mean 56% height restoration in 60% of patients, and no appreciable height restoration in 31% of the patients who received balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphosis correction: Four studies that assessed Cobb angle before and after balloon kyphoplasty in patients with osteoporosis found a significant reduction in degree of kyphosis after the procedure. In these studies, the differences between preoperative and postoperative Cobb angles were 3.4°, 7°, 8.8°, and 9.9°.
Only 1 study investigated kyphosis correction in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease. The authors reported a significant improvement (5.2°) in local kyphosis.
Quality of life: Four studies used the Short Form 36 (SF-36) Health Survey Questionnaire to measure the quality of life in patients with osteoporosis after they had balloon kyphoplasty. A significant improvement in most of the domains of the SF-36 (bodily pain, social functioning, vitality, physical functioning, mental health, and role functioning) was observed in 2 studies. One study found that general health declined, although not significantly, and another found that role emotional declined.
Both studies that used the Oswestry Disability Index found that patients had a better quality of life after balloon kyphoplasty. In one study, this improvement was statistically significant. In another study, researchers found that quality of life after kyphoplasty improved significantly, as measured with the Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire. Yet another study used a quality of life questionnaire and found that 62% of the patients that had balloon kyphoplasty had returned to normal activities, whereas 2 patients had reduced mobility.
To measure quality of life in patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, one group of researchers used the SF-36 and found significantly better scores on bodily pain, physical functioning, vitality, and social functioning after kyphoplasty. However, the scores for general health, mental health, role physical, and role emotional had not improved. A study that used the Oswestry Disability Index reported that patients’ scores were better postoperatively and at 3 months follow-up.
These were the main findings on complications in patients with osteoporosis:
The bone cement leaked in 37 (6%) of 620 treated fractures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
There were no reports of pulmonary embolism due to cement leakage.
There were 6 cases of cardiovascular events in 362 patients:
3 (0.8%) patients had myocardial infarction.
3 (0.8%) patients had cardiac arrhythmias.
There was 1 (0.27%) case of pulmonary embolism due to deep venous thrombosis.
There were 20 (8.4%) cases of new fractures in 238 patients.
For patients with multiple myeloma or metastatic disease, these were the main findings:
The bone cement leaked in 12 (9.6%) of 125 procedures.
There were no reports of neurological deficits.
Economic Analysis
Balloon kyphoplasty requires anesthesia. Standard vertebroplasty requires sedation and an analgesic. Based on these considerations, the professional fees (Cdn) for each procedure is shown in Table 1.
Professional Fees for Standard Vertebroplasty and Balloon Kyphoplasty
Balloon kyphoplasty has a sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (the device cost per case) that standard vertebroplasty does not have. Therefore, the up-front cost (i.e., physician’s fees and device costs) is $187 for standard vertebroplasty and $3,812 for balloon kyphoplasty. (All costs are in Canadian currency.)
There are also “downstream costs” of the procedures, based on the different adverse outcomes associated with each. This includes the risk of developing new fractures (21% for vertebroplasty vs. 8.4% for balloon kyphoplasty), neurological complications (3.9% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), pulmonary embolism (0.1% for vertebroplasty vs. 0% for balloon kyphoplasty), and cement leakage (26.5% for vertebroplasty vs. 6.0% for balloon kyphoplasty). Accounting for these risks, and the base costs to treat each of these complications, the expected downstream costs are estimated at less than $500 per case. Therefore, the expected total direct medical cost per patient is about $700 for standard vertebroplasty and $4,300 for balloon kyphoplasty.
Kyphon, the manufacturer of the inflatable bone tamps has stated that the predicted Canadian incidence of osteoporosis in 2005 is about 29,000. The predicted incidence of cancer-related vertebral fractures in 2005 is 6,731. Based on Ontario having about 38% of the Canadian population, the incidence in the province is likely to be about 11,000 for osteoporosis and 2,500 for cancer-related vertebral fractures. This means there could be as many as 13,500 procedures per year in Ontario; however, this is highly unlikely because most of the cancer-related fractures likely would be treated with medication. Given a $3,600 incremental direct medical cost associated with balloon kyphoplasty, the budget impact of adopting this technology could be as high as $48.6 million per year; however, based on data from the Provider Services Branch, about 120 standard vertebroplasties are done in Ontario annually. Given these current utilization patterns, the budget impact is likely to be in the range of $430,000 per year. This is because of the sizable device cost add-on of $3,578 (per case) for balloon kyphoplasty that standard vertebroplasty does not have.
Policy Considerations
Other treatments for osteoporotic VCFs are medical management and open surgery. In cases without neurological involvement, the medical treatment of osteoporotic VCFs comprises bed rest, orthotic management, and pain medication. However, these treatments are not free of side effects. Bed rest over time can result in more bone and muscle loss, and can speed the deterioration of the underlying condition. Medication can lead to altered mood or mental status. Surgery in these patients has been limited because of its inherent risks and invasiveness, and the poor quality of osteoporotic bones. However, it may be indicated in patients with neurological deficits.
Neither of these vertebral augmentation procedures eliminates the need for aggressive treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporotic VCFs are often under-diagnosed and under-treated. A survey of physicians in Ontario (1) who treated elderly patients living in long-term care homes found that although these physicians were aware of the rates of osteoporosis in these patients, 45% did not routinely assess them for osteoporosis, and 26% did not routinely treat them for osteoporosis.
Management of the underlying condition that weakens the vertebral bodies should be part of the treatment plan. All patients with osteoporosis should be in a medical therapy program to treat the underlying condition, and the referring health care provider should monitor the clinical progress of the patient.
The main complication associated with vertebroplasty and balloon kyphoplasty is cement leakage (extravertebral or vascular). This may result in more patient morbidity, longer hospitalizations, the need for open surgery, and the use of pain medications, all of which have related costs. Extravertebral cement leakage can cause neurological complications, like spinal cord compression, nerve root compression, and radiculopathy. In some cases, surgery is required to remove the cement and release the nerve. The rate of cement leakage is much lower after balloon kyphoplasty than after vertebroplasty. Furthermore, the neurological complications seen with vertebroplasty have not seen in the studies of balloon kyphoplasty. Rarely, cement leakage into the venous system will cause a pulmonary embolism. Finally, compared with vertebroplasty, the rate of new fractures is lower after balloon kyphoplasty.
Diffusion – International, National, Provincial
In Canada, balloon kyphoplasty has not yet been funded in any of the provinces. The first balloon kyphoplasty performed in Canada was in July 2004 in Ontario.
In the United States, the technology is considered by some states as medically reasonable and necessary for the treatment of painful vertebral body compression fractures.
There is level 4 evidence that balloon kyphoplasty to treat pain associated with VCFs due to osteoporosis is as effective as vertebroplasty at relieving pain. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that it restores the height of the affected vertebra. It also results in lower fracture rates in other vertebrae compared with vertebroplasty, and in fewer neurological complications due to cement leakage compared with vertebroplasty. Balloon kyphoplasty is a reasonable alternative to vertebroplasty, although it must be reiterated that this conclusion is based on evidence from level 4 studies.
Balloon kyphoplasty should be restricted to facilities that have sufficient volumes to develop and maintain the expertise required to maximize good quality outcomes. Therefore, consideration should be given to limiting the number of facilities in the province that can do balloon kyphoplasty.
PMCID: PMC3387743  PMID: 23074451
20.  Access To Essential Maternal Health Interventions and Human Rights Violations among Vulnerable Communities in Eastern Burma 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e242.
Health indicators are poor and human rights violations are widespread in eastern Burma. Reproductive and maternal health indicators have not been measured in this setting but are necessary as part of an evaluation of a multi-ethnic pilot project exploring strategies to increase access to essential maternal health interventions. The goal of this study is to estimate coverage of maternal health services prior to this project and associations between exposure to human rights violations and access to such services.
Methods and Findings
Selected communities in the Shan, Mon, Karen, and Karenni regions of eastern Burma that were accessible to community-based organizations operating from Thailand were surveyed to estimate coverage of reproductive, maternal, and family planning services, and to assess exposure to household-level human rights violations within the pilot-project target population. Two-stage cluster sampling surveys among ever-married women of reproductive age (15–45 y) documented access to essential antenatal care interventions, skilled attendance at birth, postnatal care, and family planning services. Mid-upper arm circumference, hemoglobin by color scale, and Plasmodium falciparum parasitemia by rapid diagnostic dipstick were measured. Exposure to human rights violations in the prior 12 mo was recorded. Between September 2006 and January 2007, 2,914 surveys were conducted. Eighty-eight percent of women reported a home delivery for their last pregnancy (within previous 5 y). Skilled attendance at birth (5.1%), any (39.3%) or ≥ 4 (16.7%) antenatal visits, use of an insecticide-treated bed net (21.6%), and receipt of iron supplements (11.8%) were low. At the time of the survey, more than 60% of women had hemoglobin level estimates ≤ 11.0 g/dl and 7.2% were Pf positive. Unmet need for contraceptives exceeded 60%. Violations of rights were widely reported: 32.1% of Karenni households reported forced labor and 10% of Karen households had been forced to move. Among Karen households, odds of anemia were 1.51 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.95–2.40) times higher among women reporting forced displacement, and 7.47 (95% CI 2.21–25.3) higher among those exposed to food security violations. The odds of receiving no antenatal care services were 5.94 (95% CI 2.23–15.8) times higher among those forcibly displaced.
Coverage of basic maternal health interventions is woefully inadequate in these selected populations and substantially lower than even the national estimates for Burma, among the lowest in the region. Considerable political, financial, and human resources are necessary to improve access to maternal health care in these communities.
Luke Mullany and colleagues examine access to essential maternal health interventions and human rights violations within vulnerable communities in eastern Burma.
Editors' Summary
After decades of military rule, Burma has one of the world's worst health-care systems and high levels of ill health. For example, maternal mortality (deaths among women from pregnancy-related causes) is around 360 per 100,000 live births in Burma, whereas in neighboring Thailand it is only 44 per 100,000 live births. Maternal health is even worse in the Shan, Karenni, Karen and Mon states in eastern Burma where ethnic conflicts and enforced village relocations have internally displaced more than half a million people. Here, maternal mortality is thought to be about 1000 per 100, 000 live births. In an effort to improve access to life-saving maternal health interventions in these states, Burmese community-based health organizations, the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health and Human Rights and the Global Health Access Program in the USA, and the Mae Tao Clinic (a health-worker training center in Thailand) recently set up the Mobile Obstetric Maternal Health Workers (MOM) Project. In this pilot project, local health workers from 12 communities in eastern Burma received training in antenatal care, emergency obstetrics (the care of women during childbirth), blood transfusion, and family planning at the Mae Tao Clinic. Back in Burma, these maternal health workers trained additional local health workers and traditional birth attendants. All these individuals now provide maternal health care to their communities.
Why Was This Study Done?
The effectiveness of the MOM project can only be evaluated if accurate baseline information on women's access to maternal health-care services is available. This information is also needed to ensure the wise use of scarce health-care resources. However, very little is known about reproductive and maternal health in eastern Burma. In this study, the researchers analyze the information on women's access to reproductive and maternal health-care services that was collected during the initial field implementation stage of the MOM project. In addition, they analyze whether exposure to enforced village relocations and other human rights violations affect access to maternal health-care services.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Trained survey workers asked nearly 3000 ever-married women of reproductive age in the selected communities about their access to antenatal and postnatal care, skilled birth attendants, and family planning. They measured each woman's mid-upper arm circumference (an indicator of nutritional status) and tested them for anemia (iron deficiency) and infection with malaria parasites (a common cause of anemia in tropical countries). Finally, they asked the women about any recent violations of their human rights such as forced labour or relocation. Nearly 90% of the women reported a home delivery for their last baby. A skilled attendant was present at only one in 20 births and only one in three women had any antenatal care. One third of the women received postnatal care and only a third said they had access to effective contraceptives. Few women had received iron supplements or had used insecticide-treated bednets to avoid malaria-carrying mosquitos. Consequently, more than half the women were anemic and 7.2% were infected with malaria parasites. Many women also showed signs of poor nutrition. Finally, human rights violations were widely reported by the women. In Karen, the region containing most of the study communities, forced relocation tripled the risk of women developing anemia and greatly decreased their chances of receiving any antenatal care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that access to maternal health-care interventions is extremely limited and that poor nutrition, anemia, and malaria, all of which increase the risk of pregnancy complications, are widespread in the communities in the MOM project. Because these communities had some basic health services and access to training in Thailand before the project started, these results probably underestimate the lack of access to maternal health-care services in eastern Burma. Nevertheless, it is clear that considerable political, financial, and human resources will be needed to improve maternal health in this region. Finally, the findings also reveal a link between human rights violations and reduced access to maternal health-care services. Thus, the scale of human rights violations will need to be considered when evaluating programs designed to improve maternal health in Burma and in other places where there is ongoing conflict.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This research article is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Macaya Douoguih
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of health in Burma (in several languages)
The Mae Tao Clinic also provides general information about Burma and its health services
More information about the MOM project is available in a previous publication by the researchers
The Burma Campaign UK and Human Rights Watch both provide detailed information about human rights violations in Burma
The United Nations Population Fund provides information about safe motherhood and ongoing efforts to save mothers' lives around the world
PMCID: PMC2605890  PMID: 19108601
21.  How the Awareness of u-Healthcare Service and Health Conditions Affect Healthy Lifestyle: An Empirical Analysis Based on a u-Healthcare Service Experience 
Telemedicine Journal and e-Health  2015;21(4):286-295.
Objective: The objectives of this study are (1) to establish a ubiquitous healthcare (u-healthcare) center for those who wish to use u-healthcare, allowing them to experience the service, and (2) to evaluate the users' awareness and expectations of the service based on their overall assessment. Materials and Methods: To establish the u-healthcare center, a kiosk, devices for health checkup, a body-type examination system, and a physical fitness assessment system were installed. Also, a u-healthcare Web site was developed. A survey was conducted on 280 individuals who visited the u-healthcare center and used the service, to determine (1) individual awareness of u-healthcare before using the service and their change of perception after use, (2) factors that affect the use of u-healthcare, and (3) the effects of disease awareness on exercise habits. Results: Only 25.4% of the participants were aware of u-healthcare, and only 36% who saw the u-healthcare center recognized that it was where the u-healthcare service was provided. The group of individuals who were willing to use the u-healthcare showed statistically significant differences in their satisfaction with the overall environment of the center, as well as the specificity of the descriptions, examination results, kindness of the staff, and their responses. Additionally, the group of individuals who were diagnosed with chronic diseases and the group who were not showed statistically significant differences in the number of days on which they exercised lightly or took a walk. Conclusions: To promote the usage of u-healthcare service, the understanding of the service and the credibility of examination results need to be increased by sharing successful cases. Furthermore, to expand the use of the system that allows a person to regularly check his or her state of health, a lifelong periodical management system linked with another medical welfare program will be needed.
PMCID: PMC4378357  PMID: 25635473
ubiquitous healthcare service center; Web-based healthcare service; health promotion; awareness of health condition
22.  Attitudes towards the use and acceptance of eHealth technologies: a case study of older adults living with chronic pain and implications for rural healthcare 
Providing health services to an ageing population is challenging, and in rural areas even more so. It is expensive to provide high quality services to small populations who are widely dispersed; staff and patients are often required to travel considerable distances to access services, and the economic downturn has created a climate where delivery costs are under constant review. There is potential for technology to overcome some of these problems by decreasing or ceasing the need for patients and health professionals to travel to attend/deliver in-person appointments. A variety of eHealth initiatives (for example Pathways through Pain an online course aimed to aid self-help amongst those living with persistent pain) have been launched across the UK, but roll out remains at an early stage.
This mixed-methods study of older adults with chronic pain examines attitudes towards, current use of and acceptance of the use of technology in healthcare. A survey (n = 168, 40% response rate) captured broad experiences of the use of technology in health and social care. Semi-structured interviews (four with technology and seven without technology participants) elicited attitudes towards technology in healthcare and explored attributes of personal and social interaction during home visits.
People suffering from chronic pain access healthcare in a variety of ways. eHealth technology use was most common amongst older adults who lived alone. There was broad acceptance of eHealth being used in future care of people with chronic pain, but older adults wanted eHealth to be delivered alongside existing in-person visits from health and social care professionals.
eHealth has the potential to overcome some traditional challenges of providing rural healthcare, however roll out needs to be gradual and begin by supplementing, not substituting, existing care and should be mindful of individual’s circumstances, capability and preferences. Acceptance of technology may relate to existing levels of personal and social contact, and may be greater where technological help is not perceived to be replacing in-person care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0825-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4415301  PMID: 25888988
Rural health; Chronic pain; eHealth; Service delivery; Older adults; Technology
23.  Evaluating the health and economic impact of osteoarthritis pain in the workforce: results from the National Health and Wellness Survey 
There has been increasing recognition that osteoarthritis (OA) affects younger individuals who are still participants in the workforce, but there are only limited data on the contribution of OA pain to work productivity and other outcomes in an employed population. This study evaluated the impact of OA pain on healthcare resource utilization, productivity and costs in employed individuals.
Data were derived from the 2009 National Health and Wellness Survey. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to characterize employed individuals (full-time, part-time, or self-employed) ≥20 years of age who were diagnosed with OA and had arthritis pain in the past month relative to employed individuals not diagnosed with OA or not experiencing arthritis pain in the past month. Work productivity was assessed using the Work Productivity and Activity Impairment (WPAI) questionnaire; health status was assessed using the physical (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores from the SF-12v2 Health Survey and SF-6D health utilities; and healthcare utilization was evaluated by type and number of resources within the past 6 months. Direct and indirect costs were estimated and compared between the two cohorts.
Individuals with OA pain were less likely to be employed. Relative to workers without OA pain (n = 37,599), the OA pain cohort (n = 2,173) was significantly older (mean age 52.1 ± 11.5 years vs 41.4 ± 13.2 years; P < 0.0001) and with a greater proportion of females (58.2% vs 45.9%; P < 0.0001). OA pain resulted in greater work impairment than among workers without OA pain (34.4% versus 17.8%; P < 0.0001), and was primarily due to presenteeism (impaired activity while at work). Health status, assessed both by the SF-12v2 and the SF-6D was significantly poorer among workers with OA pain (P < 0.0001), and healthcare resource utilization was significantly higher (P < 0.0001) than workers without OA pain. Total costs were higher in the OA pain cohort ($15,047 versus $8,175; P < 0.0001), driven by indirect costs that accounted for approximately 75% of total costs.
A substantial proportion of workers suffer from OA pain. After controlling for confounders, the impact of OA pain was significant, resulting in lower productivity and higher costs.
PMCID: PMC3110556  PMID: 21527024
24.  Enhanced External Counterpulsation (EECP) 
Executive Summary
To assess the effectiveness, and cost effectiveness of EECP in patients with severe anginal symptoms, secondary to chronic coronary disease, who are unresponsive to exhaustive pharmacotherapy and not candidates for surgical/percutaneous revascularization procedures (e.g., angioplasty, coronary bypass surgery).
To assess the effectiveness, and cost effectiveness of EECP in patients with heart failure.
Clinical Need
Angina is a clinical syndrome characterized by discomfort in the chest, jaw, shoulder, back or arm. Angina usually occurs in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) involving ≥1 large epicardial artery. However it can also occur in people with valvular heart disease, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and uncontrolled hypertension.
Conventional approaches to restoring the balance between oxygen supply and demand focus on the disruption of the underlying disease through: drug therapy (β blockers, calcium channel blockers, nitrates, antiplatelet agents, ACE inhibitors, statins); life-style modifications (smoking cessation, weight loss); or revascularization techniques such as coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) or percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI). (1) Limitations of each of these approaches include: adverse drug effects, procedure-related mortality and morbidity, restenosis after PCI, and time dependent graft attrition after CABG. Furthermore, an increasing number of patients are not appropriate candidates for standard revascularization options, due to co-morbid conditions (HF, peripheral vascular disease), poor distal coronary artery targets, and patient preference. The morbidity and mortality associated with repeat surgical revascularization procedures are significantly higher, and often excludes these patients from consideration for further revascularizations. (2)
Patients with CAD who have chronic ischemic symptoms that are unresponsive to both conventional medical therapy and revascularization techniques have refractory angina pectoris. It has been estimated that greater than 100,000 patients each year in the US may be diagnosed as having this condition. (3) Patients with refractory angina have marked limitation of ordinary physical activity or are unable to perform any ordinary physical activity without discomfort (CCS functional class III/IV). Also, there must be some objective evidence of ischemia as demonstrated by exercise treadmill testing, stress imaging studies or coronary physiologic studies. (1)
Dejongste et al. (4)estimated that the prevalence of chronic refractory angina is about 100,000 patients in the United States. This would correspond to approximately 3,800 (100,000 x 3.8% [Ontario is approximately 3.8% of the population of the United States]) patients in Ontario having chronic refractory angina.
Heart Failure
Heart failure results from any structural or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the heart to act as a pump.
A recent study (5) revealed 28,702 patients were hospitalized for first-time HF in Ontario between April 1994 and March 1997. Women comprised 51% of the cohort. Eighty-five percent were aged 65 years or older, and 58% were aged 75 years or older.
Patients with chronic HF experience shortness of breath, a limited capacity for exercise, high rates of hospitalization and rehospitalization, and die prematurely. (6) The New York Heart Association (NYHA) has provided a commonly used functional classification for the severity of HF (7):
Class I: No limitation of physical activity. No symptoms with ordinary exertion.
Class II: Slight limitations of physical activity. Ordinary activity causes symptoms.
Class III: Marked limitation of physical activity. Less than ordinary activity causes symptoms. Asymptomatic at rest.
Class IV: Inability to carry out any physical activity without discomfort. Symptoms at rest.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (7) estimates that 35% of patients with HF are in functional NYHA class I; 35% are in class II; 25%, class III; and 5%, class IV. Surveys (8) suggest that from 5% to 15% of patients with HF have persistent severe symptoms, and that the remainder of patients with HF is evenly divided between those with mild and moderately severe symptoms.
To date, the diagnosis and management of chronic HF has concentrated on patients with the clinical syndrome of HF accompanied by severe left ventricular systolic dysfunction. Major changes in treatment have resulted from a better understanding of the pathophysiology of HF and the results of large clinical trials. Treatment for chronic HF includes lifestyle management, drugs, cardiac surgery, or implantable pacemakers and defibrillators. Despite pharmacologic advances, which include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers, spironolactone, and digoxin, many patients remain symptomatic on maximally tolerated doses. (6)
The Technology
Patients are typically treated by a trained technician in a medically supervised environment for 1 hour daily for a total of 35 hours over 7 weeks. The procedure involves sequential inflation and deflation of compressible cuffs wrapped around the patient’s calves, lower thighs and upper thighs. In addition to 3 sets of cuffs, the patient has finger plethysmogram and electrocardiogram (ECG) attachments that are connected to a control and display console.
External counterpulsation was used in the United States to treat cardiogenic shock after acute myocardial infarction. (9;10) More recently, an enhanced version namely “enhanced external counterpulsation” (EECP) was introduced as a noninvasive procedure for outpatient treatment of patients with severe, uncontrollable cardiac ischemia. EECP is said to increase coronary perfusion pressure and reduce the myocardial oxygen demand. Currently, EECP is not applicable for all patients with refractory angina pectoris. For example, many patients are considered ineligible for therapy due to co-morbidities, including those with severe pulmonary vascular disease, deep vein thrombosis, phlebitis and irregular heart rhythms, and heart failure. (1)
Very recently, investigation began into EECP as an adjunctive treatment for patients with HF. Anecdotal reports suggested that EECP may benefit patients with coronary disease and left ventricular dysfunction. The safety and effectiveness of EECP in patients with symptomatic heart failure and coronary disease and its role in patients with nonischemic heart failure secondary to LV dysfunction is unclear. Furthermore, the safety and effectiveness of EECP in the different stages of HF and whether it is only for patients who are refractive to pharmacotherapy is unknown.
2003 Health Technology Assessment by the Medical Advisory Secretariat
The Medical Advisory Secretariat health technology assessment (originally published in February 2003) reported on the effectiveness of EECP for patients with angina and HF. The report concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the use of EECP in patients with refractory stable CCS III/IV angina as well as insufficient evidence to support the use of EECP in patients with HF.
Review Strategy
The aim of this literature review was to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost effectiveness of EECP for the treatment of refractory stable CCS III/IV angina or HF.
The standard search strategy used by the Medical Advisory Secretariat was used. This included a search of all international health technology assessments as well as a search of the medical literature from December 2002 to March 2006.
A modification of the GRADE approach (11) was used to make judgments about the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations systematically and explicitly. GRADE provides a framework for structured reflection and can help to ensure that appropriate judgments are made. GRADE takes into account a study’s design, quality, consistency, and directness in judging the quality of evidence for each outcome. The balance between benefits and harms, quality of evidence, applicability, and the certainty of the baseline risks are considered in judgments about the strength of recommendations.
Summary of Findings
The Cochrane and INAHTA databases yielded 3 HTAs or systematic reviews on EECP treatment (Blue Cross Blue Shield Technology Evaluation Center [BCBS TEC], ECRI, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS]). A search of Medline and Embase December 2005 – March 2006 (after the literature search cutoff from the most recent HTA) was conducted using key words enhanced external counterpulsation, EECP, angina, myocardial ischemia, congestive heart failure. This search produced 1 study which met the inclusion criteria. This level 4a study was inferior in quality to the RCT which formed the basis of the 2003 Medical Advisory Secretariat recommendation.
BCBS reviewed the evidence through November 2005 to determine if EECP improves health outcomes for refractory chronic stable angina pectoris or chronic stable HF. (12) BCBS concluded that the available evidence is not sufficient to permit conclusions of the effect of EECP on health outcomes. Both controlled trials had methodologic flaws (MUST EECP and MUST EECP quality of life studies). The case series and observational studies for both indications while suggestive of a treatment benefit from EECP have shortcomings as well.
On March 20 2006, CMS posted their proposed coverage decision memorandum for external counterpulsation therapy. (13) Overall, CMS stated that the evidence is not adequate to conclude that external counterpulsation therapy is reasonable and necessary for:
Canadian Cardiovascular Society Classification (CCSC) II angina
Heart failure
NYHA class II/III stable HF symptoms with an EF≤35%
NYHA class II/III stable HF symptoms with an EF≤40%
NYHA class IV HF
Acute HF
Cardiogenic shock
Acute MI
In January 2005, ECRI (14) stated that there was insufficient evidence available to draw conclusions about the long-term effectiveness of EECP, with respect to morbidity, survival, or quality of life, for any coronary indication (refractory angina, congestive heart failure, cardiogenic shock and acute MI).
GRADE Quality of the Studies
According to the GRADE Working Group criteria, the quality of the trials was examined (Table 1). (11)
Quality refers to the criteria such as the adequacy of allocation concealment, blinding and followup.
Consistency refers to the similarity of estimates of effect across studies. If there is important unexplained inconsistency in the results, our confidence in the estimate of effect for that outcome decreases. Differences in the direction of effect, the size of the differences in effect and the significance of the differences guide the decision about whether important inconsistency exists.
Directness refers to the extent to which the people interventions and outcome measures are similar to those of interest. For example, there may be uncertainty about the directness of the evidence if the people of interest are older, sicker or have more comorbidity than those in the studies.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used in grading the quality of the evidence. (11)
GRADE Quality of Studies
Economic Analysis - Literature Review
No economic analysis of EECP was identified in the published literature.
Estimated Prevalence of Angina in Ontario
3,800 patients with chronic refractory angina:
The number of patients with chronic refractory angina in the US is estimated to be approximately 100,000 (4), this corresponds to about 3,800 patients in Ontario (3.8% × 100,000) with refractory angina.
3,800 patients × $7,000 Cdn (approximate cost for a full course of therapy) ~ $26.6M Cdn.
Estimated Prevalence of Heart Failure in Ontario
23,700 patients EF ≤ 0.35:
This estimate is from an expert (personal communication) at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), where they examined a sample of echocardiography studies drawn from a diagnostic lab in 2001. They found that the prevalence of EF ≤ 0.35 was 8.3%, and if generalized to all patients undergoing echocardiography, there would be 23,700 patients.
23,700 patients with EF ≤35% × $7,000 Cdn ~ $166 M Cdn.
There is insufficient evidence to support the effectiveness and safety of EECP treatment for patients with refractory stable CCS III-IV angina or HF.
As per the GRADE Working Group, overall recommendations consider 4 main factors. (11)
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates and the relative value placed on the outcome.
The quality of the evidence.
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise.
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of healthcare alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. (11) Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 2 is the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk/uncertainty.
For angina and heart failure, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendations is “weak” – the quality of the evidence is “low” (uncertainties due to methodological limitations in the study design in terms of study quality and directness), and the corresponding risk/uncertainty is increased due to a budget impact of approximately $26.6 M Cdn or $166 M Cdn respectively while the cost-effectiveness of EECP is unknown and difficult to estimate considering that there are no high quality studies of effectiveness.
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation (Including Uncertainty)
PMCID: PMC3379533  PMID: 23074496
25.  Towards Universal Voluntary HIV Testing and Counselling: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Community-Based Approaches 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001496.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Amitabh Suthar and colleagues describe the evidence base for different HIV testing and counseling services provided outside of health facilities.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Effective national and global HIV responses require a significant expansion of HIV testing and counselling (HTC) to expand access to prevention and care. Facility-based HTC, while essential, is unlikely to meet national and global targets on its own. This article systematically reviews the evidence for community-based HTC.
Methods and Findings
PubMed was searched on 4 March 2013, clinical trial registries were searched on 3 September 2012, and Embase and the World Health Organization Global Index Medicus were searched on 10 April 2012 for studies including community-based HTC (i.e., HTC outside of health facilities). Randomised controlled trials, and observational studies were eligible if they included a community-based testing approach and reported one or more of the following outcomes: uptake, proportion receiving their first HIV test, CD4 value at diagnosis, linkage to care, HIV positivity rate, HTC coverage, HIV incidence, or cost per person tested (outcomes are defined fully in the text). The following community-based HTC approaches were reviewed: (1) door-to-door testing (systematically offering HTC to homes in a catchment area), (2) mobile testing for the general population (offering HTC via a mobile HTC service), (3) index testing (offering HTC to household members of people with HIV and persons who may have been exposed to HIV), (4) mobile testing for men who have sex with men, (5) mobile testing for people who inject drugs, (6) mobile testing for female sex workers, (7) mobile testing for adolescents, (8) self-testing, (9) workplace HTC, (10) church-based HTC, and (11) school-based HTC. The Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale and the Cochrane Collaboration's “risk of bias” tool were used to assess the risk of bias in studies with a comparator arm included in pooled estimates.
 117 studies, including 864,651 participants completing HTC, met the inclusion criteria. The percentage of people offered community-based HTC who accepted HTC was as follows: index testing, 88% of 12,052 participants; self-testing, 87% of 1,839 participants; mobile testing, 87% of 79,475 participants; door-to-door testing, 80% of 555,267 participants; workplace testing, 67% of 62,406 participants; and school-based testing, 62% of 2,593 participants. Mobile HTC uptake among key populations (men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, female sex workers, and adolescents) ranged from 9% to 100% (among 41,110 participants across studies), with heterogeneity related to how testing was offered. Community-based approaches increased HTC uptake (relative risk [RR] 10.65, 95% confidence interval [CI] 6.27–18.08), the proportion of first-time testers (RR 1.23, 95% CI 1.06–1.42), and the proportion of participants with CD4 counts above 350 cells/µl (RR 1.42, 95% CI 1.16–1.74), and obtained a lower positivity rate (RR 0.59, 95% CI 0.37–0.96), relative to facility-based approaches. 80% (95% CI 75%–85%) of 5,832 community-based HTC participants obtained a CD4 measurement following HIV diagnosis, and 73% (95% CI 61%–85%) of 527 community-based HTC participants initiated antiretroviral therapy following a CD4 measurement indicating eligibility. The data on linking participants without HIV to prevention services were limited. In low- and middle-income countries, the cost per person tested ranged from US$2–US$126. At the population level, community-based HTC increased HTC coverage (RR 7.07, 95% CI 3.52–14.22) and reduced HIV incidence (RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.73–1.02), although the incidence reduction lacked statistical significance. No studies reported any harm arising as a result of having been tested.
Community-based HTC achieved high rates of HTC uptake, reached people with high CD4 counts, and linked people to care. It also obtained a lower HIV positivity rate relative to facility-based approaches. Further research is needed to further improve acceptability of community-based HTC for key populations. HIV programmes should offer community-based HTC linked to prevention and care, in addition to facility-based HTC, to support increased access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment.
Review Registration
International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42012002554
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Three decades into the AIDS epidemic, about 34 million people (most living in resource-limited countries) are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Every year another 2.2 million people become infected with HIV, usually through unprotected sex with an infected partner, and about 1.7 million people die. Infection with HIV, which gradually destroys the CD4 lymphocytes and other immune system cells that provide protection from life-threatening infections, is usually diagnosed by looking for antibodies to HIV in the blood or saliva. Disease progression is subsequently monitored in HIV-positive individuals by counting the CD4 cells in their blood. Initiation of antiretroviral drug therapy—a combination of drugs that keeps HIV replication in check but that does not cure the infection—is recommended when an individual's CD4 count falls below 500 cells/µl of blood or when he or she develops signs of severe or advanced disease, such as unusual infections.
Why Was This Study Done?
As part of intensified efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS, United Nations member states recently set several HIV-related targets to be achieved by 2015, including reduced transmission of HIV and increased delivery of antiretroviral therapy. These targets can only be achieved if there is a large expansion in HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and increased access to HIV prevention and care services. The World Health Organization currently recommends that everyone attending a healthcare facility in regions where there is a generalized HIV epidemic (defined as when 1% or more of the general population is HIV-positive) should be offered HTC. However, many people rarely visit healthcare facilities, and others refuse “facility-based” HTC because they fear stigmatization and discrimination. Thus, facility-based HTC alone is unlikely to be sufficient to enable national and global HIV targets to be reached. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers evaluate the performance of community-based HTC approaches such as index testing (offering HTC to the sexual and injecting partners and household members of people with HIV), mobile testing (offering HTC through a service that visits shopping centers and other public facilities), and door-to-door testing (systematically offering HTC to homes in a catchment area). A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 117 studies (most undertaken in Africa and North America) involving 864,651 participants that evaluated community-based HTC approaches. Among these studies, the percentage of people offered community-based HTC who accepted it (HTC uptake) was 88% for index testing, 87% for self-testing, 80% for door-to-door testing, 67% for workplace testing, and 62% for school-based testing. Compared to facility-based approaches, community-based approaches increased the chances of an individual's CD4 count being above 350 cells/µl at diagnosis (an important observation because early diagnosis improves subsequent outcomes) but had a lower positivity rate, possibly because people with symptoms of HIV are more likely to visit healthcare facilities than healthy individuals. Importantly, 80% of participants in the community-based HTC studies had their CD4 count measured after HIV diagnosis, and 73% of the participants initiated antiretroviral therapy after their CD4 count fell below national eligibility criteria; both these observations suggest that community-based HTC successfully linked people to care. Finally, offering community-based HTC approaches in addition to facility-based approaches increased HTC coverage seven-fold at the population level.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that community-based HTC can achieve high HTC uptake rates and can reach HIV-positive individuals earlier, when they still have high CD4 counts. Importantly, they also suggest that the level of linkage to care of community-based HTC is similar to that of facility-based HTC. Although the lower positivity rate of community-based HTC approaches means that more people need to be tested with these approaches than with facility-based HTC to identify the same number of HIV-positive individuals, this downside of community-based HTC is likely to be offset by the earlier identification of HIV-positive individuals, which should improve life expectancy and reduce HIV transmission at the population level. Although further studies are needed to evaluate community-based HTC in other regions of the world, these findings suggest that offering community-based HTC in HIV programs in addition to facility-based testing should support the increased access to HIV prevention and care that is required for the intensification of HIV/AIDS elimination efforts.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on counseling and testing (in several languages)
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, on HIV testing, and on HIV transmission and testing (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including personal stories) about HIV and AIDS
The World AIDS Day Report 2012 provides up-to-date information about the AIDS epidemic and efforts to halt it
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert; the nonprofit website Healthtalkonline also provides personal stories about living with HIV, including stories about getting a diagnosis
PMCID: PMC3742447  PMID: 23966838

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