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1.  Physician practicing preferences for conventional or homeopathic medicines in elderly subjects with musculoskeletal disorders in the EPI3-MSD cohort 
Clinical Epidemiology  2014;6:333-341.
Background
Musculoskeletal pain is common in elderly persons. Analgesic use is high in the elderly and may involve unacceptable risk in individuals with chronic pain. Our aim was to compare the socio-demographic characteristics of elderly subjects with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and to assess medication use and clinical evolution of musculoskeletal pain according to physician prescribing preference: homeopathy (Ho) group, conventional medicine (CM) group, or mixed prescription (MX) group.
Methods
The EPI3 study was a 1 year observational survey carried out among general practitioners in France between March 2007 and July 2008. This sub-analysis was carried out on elderly subjects aged ≥70 years from the original EPI3 cohort. Socio-demographic data were collected at inclusion using a self-administered patient questionnaire and medical data were recorded for each patient. Quality of life was measured using the Short Form-12 questionnaire. Patients completed a structured telephone interview on their functional status (evaluated with the QuickDash questionnaire, EIFEL scale or Lequesne index) within 72 hours of inclusion. This telephone interview was repeated at 1, 3, and 12 months. Drug exposure was also assessed during these interviews.
Results
146 patients (mean age ± standard deviation: 75.8±4.8 years) were analyzed (80.1% female, 74.7% MSD of the spine or lower limbs, 64.4% chronic MSD). Patients in the CM and MX groups were 3.7 times or 2.5 times more likely (odds ratio [OR] =3.71, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.12–12.30; OR =2.52, 95% CI: 1.05–6.05; respectively) to have used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) than those in the Ho group. In contrast, analgesic use was comparable in the three groups (OR =1.06 [CM versus Ho], 95% CI: 0.09–12.11; OR =0.34 [MX versus Ho], 95% CI: 0.07–1.57). Overall functional score evolution was similar in the three groups over time (P=0.16).
Conclusion
NSAID use was significantly higher in elderly MSD patients consulting a conventional practice general practitioner. In contrast, analgesic use and MSD evolution were similar in the three groups. Consulting a homeopathic physician for MSD management does not appear to represent a loss of therapeutic opportunity, and decreases the use of NSAIDs.
doi:10.2147/CLEP.S64049
PMCID: PMC4186571  PMID: 25298739
elderly; musculoskeletal pain; musculoskeletal disorder; analgesic; NSAID; homeopathy
2.  Benchmarking clinical management of spinal and non-spinal disorders using quality of life: results from the EPI3-LASER survey in primary care 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(12):2210-2216.
Concerns have been raised regarding sub-optimal utilization of analgesics and psychotropic drugs in the treatment of patients with chronic musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and their associated co-morbidities. The objective of this study was to describe drug prescriptions for the management of spinal and non-spinal MSDs contrasted against a standardized measure of quality of life. A representative population sample of 1,756 MSDs patients [38.5% with spinal disorder (SD) and 61.5% with non-spinal MSDs (NS-MSD)] was drawn from the EPI3-LASER survey of 825 general practitioners (GPs) in France. Physicians recorded their diagnoses and prescriptions on that day. Patients provided information on socio-demographics, lifestyle and quality of life using the Short Form 12 (SF-12) questionnaire. Chronicity of MSDs was defined as more than 12 weeks duration of the current episode. Chronic SD and NS-MSD patients were prescribed less analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs than their non-chronic counterpart [odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI), respectively: 0.4, 0.2–0.7 and 0.5, 0.3–0.6]. They also had more anxio-depressive co-morbidities reported by their physicians (SD: 16.1 vs.7.4%; NS-MSD: 21.6 vs. 9.5%) who prescribed more antidepressants and anxiolytics with a difference that was statistically significant only for spinal disorder patients (OR, 95% CI: 2.0, 1.1–3.6). Psychotropic drugs were more often prescribed in patients in the lower quartile of SF-12 mental score and prescriptions of analgesics in the lower quartile of SF-12 physical score (P < 0.001). In conclusion, anxiety and depressive disorders were commonly reported by GPs among chronic MSD patients. Their prescriptions of psychotropic and analgesic drugs were consistent with patients’ self-rated mental and physical health.
doi:10.1007/s00586-011-1780-z
PMCID: PMC3229736  PMID: 21487774
Spinal disorders; Musculoskeletal disorders; Epidemiology; Population health
3.  Magnitude of impact and healthcare use for musculoskeletal disorders in the paediaric: a population-based study 
Background
Although musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are among the most prevalent chronic conditions, minimal attention has been paid to the paediatric population. The aim of this study is to describe the annual prevalence of healthcare contacts for MSD by children and youth age 0-19 years, including type of MSD, care delivery setting and the specialty of the physician consulted.
Methods
Analysis of data on all children with healthcare contacts for MSD in Ontario, Canada using data from universal health insurance databases on ambulatory physician and emergency department (ED) visits, same-day outpatient surgery, and in-patient admissions for the fiscal year 2006/07. The proportion of children and youth seeing different physician specialties was calculated for each physician and condition grouping. Census data for the 2006 Ontario population was used to calculate person visit rates.
Results
122.1 per 1,000 children and youth made visits for MSD. The majority visited for injury and related conditions (63.2 per 1,000), followed by unspecified MSD complaints (33.0 per 1,000), arthritis and related conditions (27.7 per 1,000), bone and spinal conditions (14.2 per 1,000), and congenital anomalies (3 per 1,000). Injury was the most common reason for ED visits and in-patient admissions, and arthritis and related conditions for day-surgery. The majority of children presented to primary care physicians (74.4%), surgeons (22.3%), and paediatricians (10.1%). Paediatricians were more likely to see younger children and those with congenital anomalies or arthritis and related conditions.
Conclusion
One in eight children and youth make physician visits for MSD in a year, suggesting that the prevalence of MSD in children may have been previously underestimated. Although most children may have self-limiting conditions, it is unknown to what extent these may deter involvement in physical activity, or be indicators of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. Given deficiencies in medical education, particularly of primary care physicians and paediatricians, it is important that training programs devote an appropriate amount of time to paediatric MSD.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-98
PMCID: PMC3493363  PMID: 22691633
4.  The Red flag! risk assessment among medical homeopaths in Norway: a qualitative study 
Background
Homeopathy is widely used, and many European physicians practice homeopathy in addition to conventional medicine. Adverse effects in homeopathy are not expected by homeopaths due to the negligible quantities of active substances in a remedy. However, we questioned if homeopathic aggravation, which is described as a temporary worsening of existing symptoms following a correct homeopathic remedy, should be regarded as adverse effects or ruled out as desirable events of the treatment. In order to improve knowledge in an unexplored area of patient safety, we explored how medical homeopath discriminate between homeopathic aggravations and adverse effects, and how they assessed patient safety in medical practice.
Method
A qualitative approach was employed using focus group interviews. Two interviews with seven medical homeopaths were performed in Oslo, Norway. The participants practiced homeopathy besides conventional medicine. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the text data. The codes were defined before and during the data analysis.
Results
According to the medical homeopaths, a feeling of well-being may be a criterion to distinguish homeopathic aggravations from adverse effects. There was disagreement among the participants whether or not homeopathic treatment produced adverse effects. However, they agreed when an incorrect remedy was administrated, it may create a disruption or suppressive reaction in the patient. This was not perceived as adverse effects but a possibility to prescribe a new remedy as new symptoms emerge. This study revealed several advantages for the patients as the medical homeopaths looked for dangerous symptoms which may enhance safety. The patient was given time and space, which enabled the practitioner to see the complete picture. A more comprehensive toolkit gave the medical homeopaths a feeling of professionalism.
Conclusion
This explorative study investigated how Medical Homeopaths understood and assessed risk in their clinical practice. A feeling of well-being emerging soon after taking the remedy was the most important criterion for discriminating between Homeopathic Aggravations and Adverse Effects in clinical practice. The Medical Homeopaths used the view of both professions and always looked for red flag situations in the consultation room. They combined knowledge from two treatment systems which may have advantages for the patient. These tentative results deserve further research efforts to improve patient safety among users of homeopathy. For further research we find it important to improve and develop concepts that are unique to homeopathy in order to validate and modernize this medical practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-150
PMCID: PMC3488491  PMID: 22967054
Homeopathy; Conventional medicine; Homeopathic aggravations; Adverse effects; Medical homeopaths; Patient safety; Risk assessment
5.  Patient satisfaction and side effects in primary care: An observational study comparing homeopathy and conventional medicine 
Background
This study is part of a nationwide evaluation of complementary medicine in Switzerland (Programme Evaluation of Complementary Medicine PEK) and was funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health. The main objective of this study is to investigate patient satisfaction and perception of side effects in homeopathy compared with conventional care in a primary care setting.
Methods
We examined data from two cross-sectional studies conducted in 2002–2003. The first study was a physician questionnaire assessing structural characteristics of practices. The second study was conducted on four given days during a 12-month period in 2002/2003 using a physician and patient questionnaire at consultation and a patient questionnaire mailed to the patient one month later (including Europep questionnaire).
The participating physicians were all trained and licensed in conventional medicine. An additional qualification was required for medical doctors providing homeopathy (membership in the Swiss association of homeopathic physicians SVHA).
Results
A total of 6778 adult patients received the questionnaire and 3126 responded (46.1%). Statistically significant differences were found with respect to health status (higher percentage of chronic and severe conditions in the homeopathic group), perception of side effects (higher percentage of reported side effects in the conventional group) and patient satisfaction (higher percentage of satisfied patients in the homeopathic group).
Conclusion
Overall patient satisfaction was significantly higher in homeopathic than in conventional care. Homeopathic treatments were perceived as a low-risk therapy with two to three times fewer side effects than conventional care
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-52
PMCID: PMC2562361  PMID: 18801188
6.  Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorder and alternative medicine therapies among dentists of North India: A descriptive study 
Pharmacognosy Research  2015;7(4):350-354.
Aim:
Health professionals especially the dental professional are the frequent targets of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) can be of some help in managing these MSD especially in. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of CAM therapies as a treatment modality for MSD management among dental professionals of north India.
Materials and Methods:
Registered dentist of North Indian origin, India (n = 3598) were included in the study. The questionnaire was sent to all the dentists which consisted of the demographic profile, MSD in the past year, CAM therapies utilization and opinion about CAM therapies. Data analysis was done using SPSS version 21 and data were presented in tabular and graphic form. Test of significance was done using chi-square statistics with P < 0.05 considered as significant.
Results:
A response rate of 80% (n = 2879) was obtained, and all complained of MDS in some or the other part of their life. The use of CAM was reported among 70% (n = 2015) of the dentist who suffered from MSD. Other dentists either used conventional treatment or did not use anything.
Conclusion:
As the name implies, alternative medical systems is a category that extends beyond a single modality and refers to an entire system of theory and practice that developed separately from conventional medicine. CAM should be subject to rigorous scientific inquiry so that interventions that work are systematically distinguished from those that do not. In addition, the use of CAM treatments should be based on evidence of effectiveness and safety as demonstrated in randomized clinical trials.
doi:10.4103/0974-8490.157810
PMCID: PMC4660514  PMID: 26692749
Acupuncture; massage; dentist; musculoskeletal disorders
7.  Homeopathic medical practice for anxiety and depression in primary care: the EPI3 cohort study 
Background
The purpose of the study was to compare utilization of conventional psychotropic drugs among patients seeking care for anxiety and depression disorders (ADDs) from general practitioners (GPs) who strictly prescribe conventional medicines (GP-CM), regularly prescribe homeopathy in a mixed practice (GP-Mx), or are certified homeopathic GPs (GP-Ho).
Methods
This was one of three epidemiological cohort studies (EPI3) on general practice in France, which included GPs and their patients consulting for ADDs (scoring 9 or more in the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS). Information on all medication utilization was obtained by a standardised telephone interview at inclusion, 1, 3 and 12 months.
Results
Of 1562 eligible patients consulting for ADDs, 710 (45.5 %) agreed to participate. Adjusted multivariate analyses showed that GP-Ho and GP-Mx patients were less likely to use psychotropic drugs over 12 months, with Odds ratio (OR) = 0.29; 95 % confidence interval (CI): 0.19 to 0.44, and OR = 0.62; 95 % CI: 0.41 to 0.94 respectively, compared to GP-CM patients. The rate of clinical improvement (HADS <9) was marginally superior for the GP-Ho group as compared to the GP-CM group (OR = 1.70; 95 % CI: 1.00 to 2.87), but not for the GP-Mx group (OR = 1.49; 95 % CI: 0.89 to 2.50).
Conclusions
Patients with ADD, who chose to consult GPs prescribing homeopathy reported less use of psychotropic drugs, and were marginally more likely to experience clinical improvement, than patients managed with conventional care. Results may reflect differences in physicians’ management and patients’ preferences as well as statistical regression to the mean.
doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1104-2
PMCID: PMC4855343  PMID: 27145957
Anxiety; Depression; Homeopathy; Primary care
8.  Limitations of Activities in Patients with Musculoskeletal Disorders 
Background:
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are the major cause of morbidity throughout the world, having a substantial influence on quality of life (QOL). We studied QOL ascertained by limitations of activities of daily living, impact on family and social relationships, and sleep disturbances among patients with MSD.
Aim:
Ascertain QOL in MSD.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional study among 2633 randomly selected subjects. The study was carried out in the field practice area of D Y Patil Medical College, Pune, India. In the first phase of the study, patients of MSD were identified by house-to-house surveys, by face-to-face interviews, and clinical examination carried out by trained interns in random samples of selected households. Subsequently, QOL in patients with MSD was elicited by measuring limitations of activities of daily living, impact on family and social relationships and sleep disturbances by structured instrument, using Likert/Dichotomous Scale. Statistical software EPI Info 2002 was used for estimation of sample size, data entry, and analysis. Data were summarized using proportions and percentages. Association of gender and rural–urban background with prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders was explored with odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence intervals.
Results:
A total of 2633 subjects were examined. Out of these, 190 (7.2%) suffered from various types of MSD, with higher prevalence in females than males (OR=1.43, 95% CI=1.05 to 1.95). Prevalence was also higher in the rural population compared with urban (OR=2.02, 95% CI=1.45 to 2.83). However, the rural–urban difference may be due to the confounding effect of age, as prevalence was higher in the elderly (48.78%) and the mean age of the rural population was significantly higher than the urban population. Different degrees of limitations among patients of MSD in carrying out specific activities were: Dressing 9.5%, washing hair 11.6%, rising from bed 50%, feeding themselves 6%, walking 39%, taking bath 10%, toilet 37%, rising from chair 47%, rising from floor 55%, boarding bus 30%, and sleep disturbances 47%. These limitations also had impact on their family and social relationships.
Conclusions:
Patients of musculoskeletal disorders face appreciable limitations in their activities of daily living, which adversely impact their QOL.
doi:10.4103/2141-9248.96928
PMCID: PMC3507122  PMID: 23209982
Activities; Disorders; Limitations; Musculoskeletal
9.  Management of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections by Different Medical Practices, Including Homeopathy, and Consumption of Antibiotics in Primary Care: The EPI3 Cohort Study in France 2007–2008 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89990.
Background
Prescribing of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) varies substantially in primary care.
Objectives
To describe and compare antibiotic and antipyretic/anti-inflammatory drugs use, URTI symptoms' resolution and occurrence of potentially-associated infections in patients seeking care from general practitioners (GPs) who exclusively prescribe conventional medications (GP-CM), regularly prescribe homeopathy within a mixed practice (GP-Mx), or are certified homeopathic GPs (GP-Ho).
Method
The EPI3 survey was a nationwide population-based study of a representative sample of 825 GPs and their patients in France (2007–2008). GP recruitment was stratified by self-declared homeopathic prescribing preferences. Adults and children with confirmed URTI were asked to participate in a standardized telephone interview at inclusion, one-, three- and twelve-month follow up. Study outcomes included medication consumption, URTI symptoms' resolution and potentially-associated infections (sinusitis or otitis media/externa) as reported by patients. Analyses included calibration to account for non-respondents and groups were compared using multivate analyses adjusting for baseline differences with a propensity score.
Results
518 adults and children with URTI (79.3% rhinopharyngitis) were included (36.9% response rate comparable between groups). As opposed to GP-CM patients, patients in the GP-Ho group showed significantly lower consumption of antibiotics (Odds ratio (OR) = 0.43, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.27–0.68) and antipyretic/anti-inflammatory drugs (OR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.38–0.76) with similar evolution in related symptoms (OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 0.64–2.10). An excess of potentially-associated infections (OR = 1.70, 95% CI: 0.90–3.20) was observed in the GP-Ho group (not statistically significant). No difference was found between GP-CM and GP-Mx patients.
Conclusion
Patients who chose to consult GPs certified in homeopathy used less antibiotics and antipyretic/anti-inflammatory drugs for URTI than those seen by GPs prescribing conventional medications. No difference was observed in patients consulting GPs within mixed-practice. A non-statistically significant excess was estimated through modelling for associated infections in the GP-Ho group and needs to be further studied.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089990
PMCID: PMC3960096  PMID: 24646513
10.  The Use of Intuition in Homeopathic Clinical Decision Making: An Interpretative Phenomenological Study 
While intuition plays a role in clinical decision making within conventional medicine, little is understood about its use in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate intuition from the perspective of homeopathic practitioners; its' manifestation, how it was recognized, its origins and when it was used within daily clinical practice. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with clinically experienced non-National Health Service (NHS) UK homeopathic practitioners. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyze the data. Homeopaths reported many similarities with conventional medical practitioner regarding the nature, perceived origin and manifestation of their intuitions in clinical practice. Intuition was used in two key aspects of the consultation: (i) to enhance the practitioner-patient relationship, these were generally trusted; and (ii) intuitions relating to the prescribing decision. Homeopaths were cautious about these latter intuitions, testing any intuitive thoughts through deductive reasoning before accepting them. Their reluctance is not surprising given the consequences for patient care, but we propose this also reflects homeopaths' sensitivity to the academic and medical mistrust of both homeopathy and intuition. This study is the first to explore the use of intuition in decision making in any form of complementary medicine. The similarities with conventional practitioners may provide confidence in validating intuition as a legitimate part of the decision making process for these specific practitioners. Further work is needed to elucidate if these findings reflect intuitive use in clinical practice of other CAM practitioners in both private and NHS (i.e., time limited) settings.
doi:10.1093/ecam/nep153
PMCID: PMC3139511  PMID: 19773389
11.  Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the automotive industry due to repetitive work - implications for rehabilitation 
Background
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) due to repetitive work are common in manufacturing industries, such as the automotive industry. However, it's still unclear which MSDs of the upper limb are to be expected in the automotive industry in a first aid unit as well as in occupational precaution examinations. It is also unclear which examination method could be performed effectively for practical reasons and under rehabilitation aspects. Additionally, it was to discuss whether the conception of unspecific description for MSDs has advantages or disadvantages in contrast to a precise medical diagnosis.
Methods
We investigated the health status of two study populations working at two automotive plants in Germany. The first part included 67 consecutive patients who were seen for acute or chronic MSDs at the forearm over a 4-month period at the plants' medical services. Information about patients' working conditions and musculoskeletal symptoms was obtained during a standardized interview, which was followed by a standardized orthopedic-chiropractic physical examination. In the second part, 209 workers with daily exposure to video display terminals (VDT) completed a standardized questionnaire and were examined with function-oriented muscular tests on the occasion of their routine occupational precaution medical check-up.
Results
The majority of the 67 patients seen by the company's medical services were blue-collar works from the assembly lines and trainees rather than white-collar workers from offices. Rates of musculoskeletal complaints were disproportionately higher among experienced people performing new tasks and younger trainees. The most common MSD in this group were disorders of flexor tendons of the forearm. By contrast, among the 209 employees working at VDT disorders of the neck and shoulders were more common than discomfort in the forearm. A positive tendency between restricted rotation of the cervical vertebrae and years worked at VDT was observed. In addition, only less than 8% of unspecific disorders of the upper limb (esp. wrist and forearm) were found.
Conclusions
Functional tests for the upper limb seemed to be very helpful to give precise medical advice to the employees to prevent individual complaints. The results are also helpful for developing specific training programs before beginning new tasks as well as for rehabilitation reasons. There's no need to use uncertain terminology (such as RSI) as it may not be representative of the actual underlying disorders as diagnosed by more thorough physical examinations.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-5-6
PMCID: PMC2907870  PMID: 20374621
12.  DISCLOSURE TO PHYSICIANS OF CAM USE BY BREAST CANCER PATIENTS: FINDINGS FROM THE WOMEN’S HEALTHY EATING AND LIVING STUDY 
Integrative cancer therapies  2008;7(3):122-129.
Background
Physician awareness of their patients’ use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is crucial, particularly in the setting of a potentially life-threatening disease such as cancer. The potential for harmful treatment interactions may be greatest when a patient sees a CAM practitioner – perceived as a physician-like authority figure – but does not disclose this to their physician. We therefore investigated the extent of nondisclosure in a large cohort of cancer patients.
Methods
We investigated CAM use in participants of the UCSD Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) Study, a multicenter study of the effect of diet and lifestyle on disease-free and overall survival in women ages 18–70 who had completed treatment for invasive breast cancer between 1995 and 2000. Data regarding CAM use and disclosure was collected via a telephone-administered questionnaire in 2003–2004. This questionnaire asked about different CAM modalities including those requiring a “skilled CAM practitioner” (acupuncturist, chiropractor, homeopath, or naturopath) for administration. Demographic data was obtained at the WHEL baseline clinic interview. Modality-specific disclosure rates were determined and a comparison of demographic variables of disclosers versus nondisclosers was conducted using Chi-squared tests for categorical variables, and t-tests for continuous variables.
Results
Of 3088 total WHEL participants, 2527 completed the CAM questionnaire. Of these, 2017 reported using some form of CAM. Of these, 300 received treatment from an acupuncturist, chiropractor, homeopath, or naturopath and also provided information on whether or not they disclosed this care to their conventional physician. The highest disclosure rate was for naturopathy (85%), followed by homeopathy (74%), acupuncture (71%), and chiropractic (47%). Among demographic characteristics, only education (p = 0.047) and study site (p=0.039) were associated with disclosure. College graduates and postgraduates, in particular, were more likely to disclose CAM use to their physicians than those with lesser education.
Conclusion
Overall, we observed moderately high rates of physician disclosure of CAM use for all modalities except chiropractic. Education and study site associations suggest that disclosure may be greater when CAM use is more prevalent and possibly more socially accepted. These findings underscore the importance of open, destigmatized patient-physician communication regarding CAM use.
PMCID: PMC2763208  PMID: 18956493
Breast cancer; CAM; complementary and alternative medicine; acupuncture; naturopathy; chiropractic; health communication; disclosure
13.  Internet-Based Device-Assisted Remote Monitoring of Cardiovascular Implantable Electronic Devices 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) report was to conduct a systematic review of the available published evidence on the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted remote monitoring systems (RMSs) for therapeutic cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs) such as pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. The MAS evidence-based review was performed to support public financing decisions.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major cause of fatalities in developed countries. In the United States almost half a million people die of SCD annually, resulting in more deaths than stroke, lung cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. In Canada each year more than 40,000 people die from a cardiovascular related cause; approximately half of these deaths are attributable to SCD.
Most cases of SCD occur in the general population typically in those without a known history of heart disease. Most SCDs are caused by cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm caused by malfunctions of the heart’s electrical system. Up to half of patients with significant heart failure (HF) also have advanced conduction abnormalities.
Cardiac arrhythmias are managed by a variety of drugs, ablative procedures, and therapeutic CIEDs. The range of CIEDs includes pacemakers (PMs), implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices. Bradycardia is the main indication for PMs and individuals at high risk for SCD are often treated by ICDs.
Heart failure (HF) is also a significant health problem and is the most frequent cause of hospitalization in those over 65 years of age. Patients with moderate to severe HF may also have cardiac arrhythmias, although the cause may be related more to heart pump or haemodynamic failure. The presence of HF, however, increases the risk of SCD five-fold, regardless of aetiology. Patients with HF who remain highly symptomatic despite optimal drug therapy are sometimes also treated with CRT devices.
With an increasing prevalence of age-related conditions such as chronic HF and the expanding indications for ICD therapy, the rate of ICD placement has been dramatically increasing. The appropriate indications for ICD placement, as well as the rate of ICD placement, are increasingly an issue. In the United States, after the introduction of expanded coverage of ICDs, a national ICD registry was created in 2005 to track these devices. A recent survey based on this national ICD registry reported that 22.5% (25,145) of patients had received a non-evidence based ICD and that these patients experienced significantly higher in-hospital mortality and post-procedural complications.
In addition to the increased ICD device placement and the upfront device costs, there is the need for lifelong follow-up or surveillance, placing a significant burden on patients and device clinics. In 2007, over 1.6 million CIEDs were implanted in Europe and the United States, which translates to over 5.5 million patient encounters per year if the recommended follow-up practices are considered. A safe and effective RMS could potentially improve the efficiency of long-term follow-up of patients and their CIEDs.
Technology
In addition to being therapeutic devices, CIEDs have extensive diagnostic abilities. All CIEDs can be interrogated and reprogrammed during an in-clinic visit using an inductive programming wand. Remote monitoring would allow patients to transmit information recorded in their devices from the comfort of their own homes. Currently most ICD devices also have the potential to be remotely monitored. Remote monitoring (RM) can be used to check system integrity, to alert on arrhythmic episodes, and to potentially replace in-clinic follow-ups and manage disease remotely. They do not currently have the capability of being reprogrammed remotely, although this feature is being tested in pilot settings.
Every RMS is specifically designed by a manufacturer for their cardiac implant devices. For Internet-based device-assisted RMSs, this customization includes details such as web application, multiplatform sensors, custom algorithms, programming information, and types and methods of alerting patients and/or physicians. The addition of peripherals for monitoring weight and pressure or communicating with patients through the onsite communicators also varies by manufacturer. Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs are intended to function as a surveillance system rather than an emergency system.
Health care providers therefore need to learn each application, and as more than one application may be used at one site, multiple applications may need to be reviewed for alarms. All RMSs deliver system integrity alerting; however, some systems seem to be better geared to fast arrhythmic alerting, whereas other systems appear to be more intended for remote follow-up or supplemental remote disease management. The different RMSs may therefore have different impacts on workflow organization because of their varying frequency of interrogation and methods of alerts. The integration of these proprietary RM web-based registry systems with hospital-based electronic health record systems has so far not been commonly implemented.
Currently there are 2 general types of RMSs: those that transmit device diagnostic information automatically and without patient assistance to secure Internet-based registry systems, and those that require patient assistance to transmit information. Both systems employ the use of preprogrammed alerts that are either transmitted automatically or at regular scheduled intervals to patients and/or physicians.
The current web applications, programming, and registry systems differ greatly between the manufacturers of transmitting cardiac devices. In Canada there are currently 4 manufacturers—Medtronic Inc., Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corp., and St Jude Medical Inc.—which have regulatory approval for remote transmitting CIEDs. Remote monitoring systems are proprietary to the manufacturer of the implant device. An RMS for one device will not work with another device, and the RMS may not work with all versions of the manufacturer’s devices.
All Internet-based device-assisted RMSs have common components. The implanted device is equipped with a micro-antenna that communicates with a small external device (at bedside or wearable) commonly known as the transmitter. Transmitters are able to interrogate programmed parameters and diagnostic data stored in the patients’ implant device. The information transfer to the communicator can occur at preset time intervals with the participation of the patient (waving a wand over the device) or it can be sent automatically (wirelessly) without their participation. The encrypted data are then uploaded to an Internet-based database on a secure central server. The data processing facilities at the central database, depending on the clinical urgency, can trigger an alert for the physician(s) that can be sent via email, fax, text message, or phone. The details are also posted on the secure website for viewing by the physician (or their delegate) at their convenience.
Research Questions
The research directions and specific research questions for this evidence review were as follows:
To identify the Internet-based device-assisted RMSs available for follow-up of patients with therapeutic CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To identify the potential risks, operational issues, or organizational issues related to Internet-based device-assisted RM for CIEDs.
To evaluate the safety, acceptability, and effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs such as PMs, ICDs, and CRT devices.
To evaluate the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs compared to usual outpatient in-office monitoring strategies.
To evaluate the resource implications or budget impact of RMSs for CIEDs in Ontario, Canada.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The review included a systematic review of published scientific literature and consultations with experts and manufacturers of all 4 approved RMSs for CIEDs in Canada. Information on CIED cardiac implant clinics was also obtained from Provincial Programs, a division within the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a mandate for cardiac implant specialty care. Various administrative databases and registries were used to outline the current clinical follow-up burden of CIEDs in Ontario. The provincial population-based ICD database developed and maintained by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) was used to review the current follow-up practices with Ontario patients implanted with ICD devices.
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 21, 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 1950 to September 2010. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for additional relevant literature until December 31, 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.
Inclusion Criteria
published between 1950 and September 2010;
English language full-reports and human studies;
original reports including clinical evaluations of Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports including standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, cost, measures of health care utilization, morbidity, mortality, quality of life or patient satisfaction;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, cohort and controlled clinical studies.
Exclusion Criteria
non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials;
reports not involving standardized outcome events;
clinical reports not involving Internet-based device assisted RM systems for CIEDs in clinical settings;
reports involving studies testing or validating algorithms without RM;
studies with small samples (<10 subjects).
Outcomes of Interest
The outcomes of interest included: technical outcomes, emergency department visits, complications, major adverse events, symptoms, hospital admissions, clinic visits (scheduled and/or unscheduled), survival, morbidity (disease progression, stroke, etc.), patient satisfaction, and quality of life.
Summary of Findings
The MAS evidence review was performed to review available evidence on Internet-based device-assisted RMSs for CIEDs published until September 2010. The search identified 6 systematic reviews, 7 randomized controlled trials, and 19 reports for 16 cohort studies—3 of these being registry-based and 4 being multi-centered. The evidence is summarized in the 3 sections that follow.
1. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems of CIEDs for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Device Functioning
In total, 15 reports on 13 cohort studies involving investigations with 4 different RMSs for CIEDs in cardiology implant clinic groups were identified in the review. The 4 RMSs were: Care Link Network® (Medtronic Inc,, Minneapolis, MN, USA); Home Monitoring® (Biotronic, Berlin, Germany); House Call 11® (St Jude Medical Inc., St Pauls, MN, USA); and a manufacturer-independent RMS. Eight of these reports were with the Home Monitoring® RMS (12,949 patients), 3 were with the Care Link® RMS (167 patients), 1 was with the House Call 11® RMS (124 patients), and 1 was with a manufacturer-independent RMS (44 patients). All of the studies, except for 2 in the United States, (1 with Home Monitoring® and 1 with House Call 11®), were performed in European countries.
The RMSs in the studies were evaluated with different cardiac implant device populations: ICDs only (6 studies), ICD and CRT devices (3 studies), PM and ICD and CRT devices (4 studies), and PMs only (2 studies). The patient populations were predominately male (range, 52%–87%) in all studies, with mean ages ranging from 58 to 76 years. One study population was unique in that RMSs were evaluated for ICDs implanted solely for primary prevention in young patients (mean age, 44 years) with Brugada syndrome, which carries an inherited increased genetic risk for sudden heart attack in young adults.
Most of the cohort studies reported on the feasibility of RMSs in clinical settings with limited follow-up. In the short follow-up periods of the studies, the majority of the events were related to detection of medical events rather than system configuration or device abnormalities. The results of the studies are summarized below:
The interrogation of devices on the web platform, both for continuous and scheduled transmissions, was significantly quicker with remote follow-up, both for nurses and physicians.
In a case-control study focusing on a Brugada population–based registry with patients followed-up remotely, there were significantly fewer outpatient visits and greater detection of inappropriate shocks. One death occurred in the control group not followed remotely and post-mortem analysis indicated early signs of lead failure prior to the event.
Two studies examined the role of RMSs in following ICD leads under regulatory advisory in a European clinical setting and noted:
– Fewer inappropriate shocks were administered in the RM group.
– Urgent in-office interrogations and surgical revisions were performed within 12 days of remote alerts.
– No signs of lead fracture were detected at in-office follow-up; all were detected at remote follow-up.
Only 1 study reported evaluating quality of life in patients followed up remotely at 3 and 6 months; no values were reported.
Patient satisfaction was evaluated in 5 cohort studies, all in short term follow-up: 1 for the Home Monitoring® RMS, 3 for the Care Link® RMS, and 1 for the House Call 11® RMS.
– Patients reported receiving a sense of security from the transmitter, a good relationship with nurses and physicians, positive implications for their health, and satisfaction with RM and organization of services.
– Although patients reported that the system was easy to implement and required less than 10 minutes to transmit information, a variable proportion of patients (range, 9% 39%) reported that they needed the assistance of a caregiver for their transmission.
– The majority of patients would recommend RM to other ICD patients.
– Patients with hearing or other physical or mental conditions hindering the use of the system were excluded from studies, but the frequency of this was not reported.
Physician satisfaction was evaluated in 3 studies, all with the Care Link® RMS:
– Physicians reported an ease of use and high satisfaction with a generally short-term use of the RMS.
– Physicians reported being able to address the problems in unscheduled patient transmissions or physician initiated transmissions remotely, and were able to handle the majority of the troubleshooting calls remotely.
– Both nurses and physicians reported a high level of satisfaction with the web registry system.
2. Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems in Heart Failure Patients for Cardiac Arrhythmia and Heart Failure Episodes
Remote follow-up of HF patients implanted with ICD or CRT devices, generally managed in specialized HF clinics, was evaluated in 3 cohort studies: 1 involved the Home Monitoring® RMS and 2 involved the Care Link® RMS. In these RMSs, in addition to the standard diagnostic features, the cardiac devices continuously assess other variables such as patient activity, mean heart rate, and heart rate variability. Intra-thoracic impedance, a proxy measure for lung fluid overload, was also measured in the Care Link® studies. The overall diagnostic performance of these measures cannot be evaluated, as the information was not reported for patients who did not experience intra-thoracic impedance threshold crossings or did not undergo interventions. The trial results involved descriptive information on transmissions and alerts in patients experiencing high morbidity and hospitalization in the short study periods.
3. Comparative Effectiveness of Remote Monitoring Systems for CIEDs
Seven RCTs were identified evaluating RMSs for CIEDs: 2 were for PMs (1276 patients) and 5 were for ICD/CRT devices (3733 patients). Studies performed in the clinical setting in the United States involved both the Care Link® RMS and the Home Monitoring® RMS, whereas all studies performed in European countries involved only the Home Monitoring® RMS.
3A. Randomized Controlled Trials of Remote Monitoring Systems for Pacemakers
Two trials, both multicenter RCTs, were conducted in different countries with different RMSs and study objectives. The PREFER trial was a large trial (897 patients) performed in the United States examining the ability of Care Link®, an Internet-based remote PM interrogation system, to detect clinically actionable events (CAEs) sooner than the current in-office follow-up supplemented with transtelephonic monitoring transmissions, a limited form of remote device interrogation. The trial results are summarized below:
In the 375-day mean follow-up, 382 patients were identified with at least 1 CAE—111 patients in the control arm and 271 in the remote arm.
The event rate detected per patient for every type of CAE, except for loss of atrial capture, was higher in the remote arm than the control arm.
The median time to first detection of CAEs (4.9 vs. 6.3 months) was significantly shorter in the RMS group compared to the control group (P < 0.0001).
Additionally, only 2% (3/190) of the CAEs in the control arm were detected during a transtelephonic monitoring transmission (the rest were detected at in-office follow-ups), whereas 66% (446/676) of the CAEs were detected during remote interrogation.
The second study, the OEDIPE trial, was a smaller trial (379 patients) performed in France evaluating the ability of the Home Monitoring® RMS to shorten PM post-operative hospitalization while preserving the safety of conventional management of longer hospital stays.
Implementation and operationalization of the RMS was reported to be successful in 91% (346/379) of the patients and represented 8144 transmissions.
In the RM group 6.5% of patients failed to send messages (10 due to improper use of the transmitter, 2 with unmanageable stress). Of the 172 patients transmitting, 108 patients sent a total of 167 warnings during the trial, with a greater proportion of warnings being attributed to medical rather than technical causes.
Forty percent had no warning message transmission and among these, 6 patients experienced a major adverse event and 1 patient experienced a non-major adverse event. Of the 6 patients having a major adverse event, 5 contacted their physician.
The mean medical reaction time was faster in the RM group (6.5 ± 7.6 days vs. 11.4 ± 11.6 days).
The mean duration of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) for the RM group than the control group (3.2 ± 3.2 days vs. 4.8 ± 3.7 days).
Quality of life estimates by the SF-36 questionnaire were similar for the 2 groups at 1-month follow-up.
3B. Randomized Controlled Trials Evaluating Remote Monitoring Systems for ICD or CRT Devices
The 5 studies evaluating the impact of RMSs with ICD/CRT devices were conducted in the United States and in European countries and involved 2 RMSs—Care Link® and Home Monitoring ®. The objectives of the trials varied and 3 of the trials were smaller pilot investigations.
The first of the smaller studies (151 patients) evaluated patient satisfaction, achievement of patient outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the Care Link® RMS compared to quarterly in-office device interrogations with 1-year follow-up.
Individual outcomes such as hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly different between the study groups.
Except for a significantly higher detection of atrial fibrillation in the RM group, data on ICD detection and therapy were similar in the study groups.
Health-related quality of life evaluated by the EuroQoL at 6-month or 12-month follow-up was not different between study groups.
Patients were more satisfied with their ICD care in the clinic follow-up group than in the remote follow-up group at 6-month follow-up, but were equally satisfied at 12- month follow-up.
The second small pilot trial (20 patients) examined the impact of RM follow-up with the House Call 11® system on work schedules and cost savings in patients randomized to 2 study arms varying in the degree of remote follow-up.
The total time including device interrogation, transmission time, data analysis, and physician time required was significantly shorter for the RM follow-up group.
The in-clinic waiting time was eliminated for patients in the RM follow-up group.
The physician talk time was significantly reduced in the RM follow-up group (P < 0.05).
The time for the actual device interrogation did not differ in the study groups.
The third small trial (115 patients) examined the impact of RM with the Home Monitoring® system compared to scheduled trimonthly in-clinic visits on the number of unplanned visits, total costs, health-related quality of life (SF-36), and overall mortality.
There was a 63.2% reduction in in-office visits in the RM group.
Hospitalizations or overall mortality (values not stated) were not significantly different between the study groups.
Patient-induced visits were higher in the RM group than the in-clinic follow-up group.
The TRUST Trial
The TRUST trial was a large multicenter RCT conducted at 102 centers in the United States involving the Home Monitoring® RMS for ICD devices for 1450 patients. The primary objectives of the trial were to determine if remote follow-up could be safely substituted for in-office clinic follow-up (3 in-office visits replaced) and still enable earlier physician detection of clinically actionable events.
Adherence to the protocol follow-up schedule was significantly higher in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (93.5% vs. 88.7%, P < 0.001).
Actionability of trimonthly scheduled checks was low (6.6%) in both study groups. Overall, actionable causes were reprogramming (76.2%), medication changes (24.8%), and lead/system revisions (4%), and these were not different between the 2 study groups.
The overall mean number of in-clinic and hospital visits was significantly lower in the RM group than the in-office follow-up group (2.1 per patient-year vs. 3.8 per patient-year, P < 0.001), representing a 45% visit reduction at 12 months.
The median time from onset of first arrhythmia to physician evaluation was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group than in the in-office follow-up group for all arrhythmias (1 day vs. 35.5 days).
The median time to detect clinically asymptomatic arrhythmia events—atrial fibrillation (AF), ventricular fibrillation (VF), ventricular tachycardia (VT), and supra-ventricular tachycardia (SVT)—was also significantly shorter (P < 0.001) in the RM group compared to the in-office follow-up group (1 day vs. 41.5 days) and was significantly quicker for each of the clinical arrhythmia events—AF (5.5 days vs. 40 days), VT (1 day vs. 28 days), VF (1 day vs. 36 days), and SVT (2 days vs. 39 days).
System-related problems occurred infrequently in both groups—in 1.5% of patients (14/908) in the RM group and in 0.7% of patients (3/432) in the in-office follow-up group.
The overall adverse event rate over 12 months was not significantly different between the 2 groups and individual adverse events were also not significantly different between the RM group and the in-office follow-up group: death (3.4% vs. 4.9%), stroke (0.3% vs. 1.2%), and surgical intervention (6.6% vs. 4.9%), respectively.
The 12-month cumulative survival was 96.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 95.5%–97.6%) in the RM group and 94.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 91.8%–96.6%) in the in-office follow-up group, and was not significantly different between the 2 groups (P = 0.174).
The CONNECT Trial
The CONNECT trial, another major multicenter RCT, involved the Care Link® RMS for ICD/CRT devices in a15-month follow-up study of 1,997 patients at 133 sites in the United States. The primary objective of the trial was to determine whether automatically transmitted physician alerts decreased the time from the occurrence of clinically relevant events to medical decisions. The trial results are summarized below:
Of the 575 clinical alerts sent in the study, 246 did not trigger an automatic physician alert. Transmission failures were related to technical issues such as the alert not being programmed or not being reset, and/or a variety of patient factors such as not being at home and the monitor not being plugged in or set up.
The overall mean time from the clinically relevant event to the clinical decision was significantly shorter (P < 0.001) by 17.4 days in the remote follow-up group (4.6 days for 172 patients) than the in-office follow-up group (22 days for 145 patients).
– The median time to a clinical decision was shorter in the remote follow-up group than in the in-office follow-up group for an AT/AF burden greater than or equal to 12 hours (3 days vs. 24 days) and a fast VF rate greater than or equal to 120 beats per minute (4 days vs. 23 days).
Although infrequent, similar low numbers of events involving low battery and VF detection/therapy turned off were noted in both groups. More alerts, however, were noted for out-of-range lead impedance in the RM group (18 vs. 6 patients), and the time to detect these critical events was significantly shorter in the RM group (same day vs. 17 days).
Total in-office clinic visits were reduced by 38% from 6.27 visits per patient-year in the in-office follow-up group to 3.29 visits per patient-year in the remote follow-up group.
Health care utilization visits (N = 6,227) that included cardiovascular-related hospitalization, emergency department visits, and unscheduled clinic visits were not significantly higher in the remote follow-up group.
The overall mean length of hospitalization was significantly shorter (P = 0.002) for those in the remote follow-up group (3.3 days vs. 4.0 days) and was shorter both for patients with ICD (3.0 days vs. 3.6 days) and CRT (3.8 days vs. 4.7 days) implants.
The mortality rate between the study arms was not significantly different between the follow-up groups for the ICDs (P = 0.31) or the CRT devices with defribillator (P = 0.46).
Conclusions
There is limited clinical trial information on the effectiveness of RMSs for PMs. However, for RMSs for ICD devices, multiple cohort studies and 2 large multicenter RCTs demonstrated feasibility and significant reductions in in-office clinic follow-ups with RMSs in the first year post implantation. The detection rates of clinically significant events (and asymptomatic events) were higher, and the time to a clinical decision for these events was significantly shorter, in the remote follow-up groups than in the in-office follow-up groups. The earlier detection of clinical events in the remote follow-up groups, however, was not associated with lower morbidity or mortality rates in the 1-year follow-up. The substitution of almost all the first year in-office clinic follow-ups with RM was also not associated with an increased health care utilization such as emergency department visits or hospitalizations.
The follow-up in the trials was generally short-term, up to 1 year, and was a more limited assessment of potential longer term device/lead integrity complications or issues. None of the studies compared the different RMSs, particularly the different RMSs involving patient-scheduled transmissions or automatic transmissions. Patients’ acceptance of and satisfaction with RM were reported to be high, but the impact of RM on patients’ health-related quality of life, particularly the psychological aspects, was not evaluated thoroughly. Patients who are not technologically competent, having hearing or other physical/mental impairments, were identified as potentially disadvantaged with remote surveillance. Cohort studies consistently identified subgroups of patients who preferred in-office follow-up. The evaluation of costs and workflow impact to the health care system were evaluated in European or American clinical settings, and only in a limited way.
Internet-based device-assisted RMSs involve a new approach to monitoring patients, their disease progression, and their CIEDs. Remote monitoring also has the potential to improve the current postmarket surveillance systems of evolving CIEDs and their ongoing hardware and software modifications. At this point, however, there is insufficient information to evaluate the overall impact to the health care system, although the time saving and convenience to patients and physicians associated with a substitution of in-office follow-up by RM is more certain. The broader issues surrounding infrastructure, impacts on existing clinical care systems, and regulatory concerns need to be considered for the implementation of Internet-based RMSs in jurisdictions involving different clinical practices.
PMCID: PMC3377571  PMID: 23074419
14.  Attitudes Toward Antiretroviral Therapy and Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Chinese HIV-Infected Patients 
HIV has become a significant health issue in China, and an increasing number of HIV-infected individuals are in need of care. Current reports confirm more than 230,000 cases of HIV infection and estimate that approximately 700,000 people are now infected with HIV, although approximately 70% of these individuals do not realize they are infected (Gill & Okie, 2007).
China's national antiretroviral therapy (ART) program, Four Frees and One Care, began in 2003, and ART treatment is now widely available in China (Zhang et al., 2007). Under this program, the following services are available to eligible citizens: (a) free ART for all AIDS patients in financial difficulty, (b) free schooling for AIDS orphans and children of AIDS patients, (c) free counseling and prevention measures to prevent mother-to-child-transmission for HIV-infected pregnant women, and (d) free HIV antibody testing and counseling, provided by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). “One Care” means providing care to AIDS patients and their families (Zhang, Pan, Yu, Wen, & Zhao, 2005). Prior to 2003, only a few people in China had access to ART, and clinical expertise in HIV medicine was limited to the major centers in a few eastern cities (Zhang et al., 2007). When ART is the dominant method of treatment, however, its use is complicated by the presence of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which has remained a substitute and supplement for conventional HIV therapy (Hsiao et al., 2003), even after ART became available (Josephs, Fleishman, Gaist, & Gebo, 2007).
CAM is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine (National Institutes of Health, 2008). Commonly, CAM includes a wide range of practices that do not fit within the dominant allopathic model of health care (Bishop, Yardley, & Lewith, 2007), including but not limited to herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture, and diet-based therapies (Bratman & Steven, 1997). TCM has been used in Chinese society for more than 5,000 years. In the TCM approach, the body is recognized and treated as a whole entity, and diseases are identified as conditions caused by internal imbalances. The role of doctors is to identify imbalances and then correct them; the body is then expected to be able to heal itself (Tsao, Dobalian, Myers, & Zeltzer, 2005). The balancing factors of the yin and yang, or of the cold and hot forces, govern health and modulate some Chinese eating and pain management practices (Wong-Kim & Merighi, 2007). The integration of ART and CAM therefore has important implications in health outcomes, especially in China where the use of CAM is widespread.
Three types of treatment systems are practiced in Chinese society: (a) allopathic Western medicine offered by health care professionals in clinics and hospitals; (b) Buyao, which is over-the-counter popular medicine and includes teas, soups, tablets, herbal preparations, and tonics, which are similar to herb supplements used in some Western countries; and (c) TCM or Zhongyi, provided by trained Chinese herbalists, which incorporates a wide range of theories, therapies, and practices, some of which are medicinal, some physical, and some supernatural (Ma et al., 2008). Many Chinese people use all three types of treatment simultaneously.
In the West, the use of CAM is widespread among HIV-infected individuals. From 1980 to 1996, 27% to 100% of HIV-infected patients used CAM (Ernst, 1997), and the rates of CAM remained steady when compared with the era before highly active ART (Josephs et al., 2007). Some people living with HIV (PLWH) used CAM to replace the prescribed ART treatment regimen (Owen-Smith, Diclemente, & Wingood, 2007), while others used it as a complement to conventional HIV therapy (Hsiao et al., 2003).
A variety of factors influence an individual's decision to use CAM. In Western countries, women who were more educated and who had lived longer with HIV were more likely to use CAM (Owen-Smith et al., 2007). Pain was a strong predictor of CAM use, and increased pain over time was associated with the use of unlicensed or illicit underground drugs that held a potential for harm (Tsao et al., 2005). Overall, the most common source of information about CAM was from patients' friends (Wiwanitkit, 2003). Generally, CAM users perceived complementary therapies as useful, although there is no evidence to suggest that these treatments are particularly effective. CAM is generally perceived as “safe,” despite evidence of harmful interactions between some herbal medicines and medical treatments and the evidence of associated risks (Ma et al., 2007). Specifically, recent studies have shown that herbal medicines can interact with ART in such a way as to contribute to treatment failure (Ma et al., 2007). Physicians around the world, however, do not routinely discuss CAM therapies with PLWH, despite knowing that CAM therapies are widely used (Ma et al., 2008; Hsiao et al., 2003).
Studies have examined PLWH attitudes toward ART and CAM in different countries (Littlewood & Vanable, 2008). One study described nurses in Uganda using a traditional, nurse-prepared ointment on PLWH as an alternative medication for skin problems because they “know it works” (Hardon et al., 2008). CAM has also been used to treat the psychological and physical effects of illness and the side effects of ART (Kaufman & Gregory, 2007). Studies show, however, that many PLWH do not report CAM use to their medical providers (Hsiao et al., 2003). To date, there has been little research on CAM use in the Chinese PLWH population.
This qualitative study explored issues related to positive and negative attitudes toward both ART and CAM in Chinese PLWH in Beijing, China. The study was part of a larger project examining behavioral interventions meant to enhance ART adherence in PLWH in China (Chen et al., 2007; Starks et al., 2008). Semi-structured, in-depth, interviews were used to explore PLWHA attitudes, experiences, and perceptions about ART and CAM.
doi:10.1016/j.jana.2008.12.004
PMCID: PMC2684986  PMID: 19427598
15.  Prevalence of Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Physicians, Surgeons and Dentists: A Comparative Study 
Background:
Work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the common occupational hazards among health care providers.
Aim:
The objective of this study was to evaluate MSDs in terms of perception of pain experienced by physicians, surgeons and dental surgeons during professional work.
Subjects and Methods:
The study was conducted with 100 physicians practicing either modern or alternative medicine, 100 surgeons of various specialties and 100 dental surgeons. Self-reporting work related questionnaire on MSDs were distributed, including information on the location of MSD symptoms in the past 12 months and the pain experienced.
Results:
Musculoskeletal pain was most prevalent among dentists 61% (61/100), followed by surgeons 37% (37/100) and physicians 20% (20/100). Nearly 15% of physicians (3/20), 40% (15/37) of Surgeons and 60% (35/61) of Dentists had MSD problems in more than one site.
Conclusion:
Within the limitations of the study, there is a higher prevalence of MSDs experienced by dental surgeons than physicians and surgeons. More research is needed on musculoskeletal problems with dental surgeons and other specialty doctors with an emphasis on a larger sample sizes and correlating other factors such as age and sex of the doctor, duration of practice, working hours per week, physical activity and working environment.
doi:10.4103/2141-9248.139327
PMCID: PMC4160684  PMID: 25221708
Dentist; Musculoskeletal pain; Physician; Surgeon
16.  Effectiveness of early part-time sick leave in musculoskeletal disorders 
Background
The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
Methods/Design
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
Conclusion
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-23
PMCID: PMC2267790  PMID: 18294405
17.  Comparative Evaluation of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapy and Conventional Therapy Use for Musculoskeletal Disorders Management and Its Association with Job Satisfaction among Dentists of West India 
Musculoskeletal problems have become a significant issue in the profession of dentistry. There are currently no recommended effective disease-preventing and modifying remedies. High prevalence rates for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among dentists have been reported in the literature. Complementary and alternative medicine can be helpful in managing and preventing the MSDs. The purpose of this study was to determine if dentists in the western part of India are using complementary and alternative medicine therapies for MSDs, and also to find if those who use complementary and alternative medicine therapies have greater job/career satisfaction compared to conventional therapy (CT) users. Dentists of western India registered under the Dental Council of India (N = 2166) were recruited for the study. Data were analyzed using univariate and bivariate analyses and logistic regression. A response rate of 73% (n = 1581) was obtained, of which 79% (n = 1249) was suffering from MSDs. The use of complementary and alternative medicine or CT was reported by 90% (n = 1124) of dentists with MSDs. Dentists using complementary and alternative medicine reported greater health (P < 0.001) and carrier satisfaction (P < 0.001) and were able to work as many hours they wanted (P < 0.001) compared to CT users. Complementary and alternative medicine therapies may improve the quality of life and enhance job satisfaction for a dentist who suffers from MSDs.
doi:10.4103/2225-4110.126632
PMCID: PMC4220505  PMID: 25379469
Complementary and alternative medicine; Dentist; Musculoskeletal disorders
18.  The use of CAM and conventional treatments among primary care consulters with chronic musculoskeletal pain 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:26.
Background
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is the single most cited reason for use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Primary care is the most frequent conventional medical service used by patients with pain in the UK. We are unaware, however, of a direct evidence of the extent of CAM use by primary care patients, and how successful they perceive it to be.
Methods
Aims and objectives
To determine CAM use among patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain who have consulted about their pain in primary care.
Study design
Face-to-face interview-based survey.
Setting
Three general practices in North Staffordshire.
Participants
Respondents to a population pain survey who had reported having musculoskeletal pain in the survey and who had consulted about their pain in primary care in the previous 12 months as well as consenting to further research and agreeing to an interview. Information was gathered about their pain and the use of all treatments for pain, including CAM, in the previous year.
Results
138 interviews were completed. 116 participants (84%) had used at least one CAM treatment for pain in the previous year. 65% were current users of CAM. The ratio of over-the-counter CAM use to care from a CAM provider was 3:2. 111 participants (80%) had used conventional treatment. 95 (69%) were using a combination of CAM and conventional treatment. Glucosamine and fish oil were the most commonly used CAM treatments (38%, 35% respectively). Most CAM treatments were scored on average as being helpful, and users indicated that they intended to use again 87% of the CAM treatments they had already used.
Conclusion
We provide direct evidence that most primary care consulters with chronic musculoskeletal pain have used CAM in the previous year, usually in combination with conventional treatments. The high prevalence and wide range of users experiences of benefit and harm from CAM strengthen the argument for more research into this type of medicine to quantify benefit and assess safety. The observation that most users of conventional medicine also used CAM suggests a continuing need for more investigation of effective pain management in primary care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-26
PMCID: PMC1878478  PMID: 17480212
19.  Benchmarking the burden of 100 diseases: results of a nationwide representative survey within general practices 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000215.
Objective
To assess the burden of diseases and quality of life (QOL) of patients for a large variety of diseases within general practice.
Design
In a representative nationwide cross-sectional study, a total of 825 general practitioners (GPs) were randomly selected from across France. Independent investigators recruited 8559 patients attending the GPs' practices. Data on QOL (12-Item Short Form questionnaire) and other individual characteristics were documented by the independent investigators for all participants in the waiting room. Medical information was recorded by GPs. Sampling was calibrated to national standards using the CALMAR (CALage sur MARges) weighting procedure. Associations of lower scores (ie, below vs above the first quartile) of physical and mental component scores (physical component summary score (PCS) and mental component summary score (MCS), respectively) with main diseases and patients characteristics were estimated using multivariate logistic regression. Weighted morbidity rates, PCS and MCS were computed for 100 diagnoses using the International Classification of Diseases (9th version).
Results
Overall mental impairment was observed among patients in primary care with an average MCS of 41.5 (SD 8.6), ranging from 33.0 for depressive disorders to 45.3 for patients exhibiting fractures or sprains. Musculoskeletal diseases were found to have the most pronounced effect on impaired physical health (OR=2.31; 95% CI 2.08 to 2.57) with the lowest PCS (45.6 (SD 8.8)) and ranked first (29.0%) among main diagnoses experienced by patients followed by cardiovascular diseases (26.7%) and psychological disorders (22.0%). When combining both prevalence and QOL, musculoskeletal diseases represented the heaviest burden in general practice.
Conclusions
Etude épidémiologique de l'Impact de santé public sur 3 groupes de pathologies (EPI3) is the first study to provide reference figures for burden of disease in general practice across a wide range of morbidities, particularly valuable for health-economics and healthcare-system evaluation.
Article summary
Article focus
The impact of diseases on quality of life (QOL) in general practice has been assessed among selected samples of patients, usually from studies including a limited number of medical practices and/or focusing mainly on chronic conditions.
There is a clear need for more data on QOL of patients in primary care; the aim of the Etude épidémiologique de l'Impact de santé public sur 3 groupes de pathologies (EPI3) survey was to provide reference figures for disease burden in this setting.
Key messages
The EPI3 study was a cross-sectional survey combining unique data from patients and general practitioners (GPs), and allowed provision of reference figures for the vast majority of diseases encountered in primary care for a large number of patients.
The study highlighted the burden of musculoskeletal and psychological disorders, experienced by more than half the patients.
Although social and medical determinants of patients' QOL were somewhat similar than those found in previous studies in primary care, the EPI3 survey showed more pronounced mental impairment in French patients.
Strengths and limitations of this study
No nationwide study on burden of disease combining both prevalence measures and QOL assessment has been conducted to date, addressing such a large variety of diseases in general practice.
On-site selection and recruitment by an independent investigator limited the possibility of selection bias among patients, and the participation of physicians added high specificity to medical data collection.
A study design providing a high specificity in data collection led to a relatively low response rate from GPs. However, stratified recruitment phases and sample sizes from both GPs and patients highly representative of national standards ensured the strong external validity of the results.
Home consultations, which are common among GPs in France, were not surveyed which could have led to an underestimation of the burden of disease.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000215
PMCID: PMC3221295  PMID: 22102638
20.  Sanitation and Hygiene-Specific Risk Factors for Moderate-to-Severe Diarrhea in Young Children in the Global Enteric Multicenter Study, 2007–2011: Case-Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2016;13(5):e1002010.
Background
Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of disease in children less than 5 y of age. Poor water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions are the primary routes of exposure and infection. Sanitation and hygiene interventions are estimated to generate a 36% and 48% reduction in diarrheal risk in young children, respectively. Little is known about whether the number of households sharing a sanitation facility affects a child's risk of diarrhea. The objective of this study was to describe sanitation and hygiene access across the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) sites in Africa and South Asia and to assess sanitation and hygiene exposures, including shared sanitation access, as risk factors for moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD) in children less than 5 y of age.
Methods/Findings
The GEMS matched case-control study was conducted between December 1, 2007, and March 3, 2011, at seven sites in Basse, The Gambia; Nyanza Province, Kenya; Bamako, Mali; Manhiça, Mozambique; Mirzapur, Bangladesh; Kolkata, India; and Karachi, Pakistan. Data was collected for 8,592 case children aged <5 y old experiencing MSD and for 12,390 asymptomatic age, gender, and neighborhood-matched controls. An MSD case was defined as a child with a diarrheal illness <7 d duration comprising ≥3 loose stools in 24 h and ≥1 of the following: sunken eyes, skin tenting, dysentery, intravenous (IV) rehydration, or hospitalization. Site-specific conditional logistic regression models were used to explore the association between sanitation and hygiene exposures and MSD. Most households at six sites (>93%) had access to a sanitation facility, while 70% of households in rural Kenya had access to a facility. Practicing open defecation was a risk factor for MSD in children <5 y old in Kenya. Sharing sanitation facilities with 1–2 or ≥3 other households was a statistically significant risk factor for MSD in Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, and Pakistan. Among those with a designated handwashing area near the home, soap or ash were more frequently observed at control households and were significantly protective against MSD in Mozambique and India.
Conclusions
This study suggests that sharing a sanitation facility with just one to two other households can increase the risk of MSD in young children, compared to using a private facility. Interventions aimed at increasing access to private household sanitation facilities may reduce the burden of MSD in children. These findings support the current World Health Organization/ United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) system that categorizes shared sanitation as unimproved.
In a matched case-control study, Kelly Baker and colleagues explore the association between sanitation and hygiene exposures and moderate-to-severe diarrhea in young children in Africa and South Asia.
Editors' Summary
Background
Diarrhea—passing three or more loose or liquid stools per day—is a leading cause of death among children under 5 y old. Diarrhea, which can cause severe dehydration, kills about three-quarters of a million young children every year, mainly in resource-limited countries. Frequent bouts of diarrhea also cause long-term damage to the gut, malnutrition, and growth stunting. Diarrhea is a common symptom of gastrointestinal infections. The enteric pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites infecting the gut) that cause diarrhea spread through contaminated food or drinking water and through poor hygiene (for example, failure to wash one’s hands after using the toilet) and inadequate sanitation (unsafe disposal of human excreta). Improvements in water, sanitation, and hygiene can reduce exposure to enteric pathogens, thereby reducing the incidence of diarrhea among young children. For example, access to an improved sanitation facility reduces the risk of diarrhea in young children by up to 36%.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2000, world leaders agreed to reduce the proportion of the global population without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation to half of the 1990 level by 2015 as part of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7; the MDGs were designed to eradicate extreme poverty globally. To measure progress towards MDG7, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) currently defines an improved sanitation facility as an unshared facility that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact (for example, a flush toilet or a pit latrine). Facilities of an improved type that are shared by multiple households are classified by the JMP as unimproved because of worries that shared facilities are less hygienic and less accessible than private household facilities. However, some experts suggest that the JMP guidelines should be changed to allow facilities shared by five or fewer households to be considered as improved facilities if they meet the other criteria for separating human excreta from human contact. But does sharing a sanitation facility affect a child’s risk of diarrhea? Here, the researchers investigate this question by analyzing data collected by the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
GEMS is a case-control study, an observational study that compares the characteristics of people with a specific disease with those of people without that disease. It collected data on 8,592 children under 5 y old with moderate-to-severe diarrhea (MSD; experiencing diarrhea at least three times in 24 h with signs of moderate-to-severe dehydration or hospitalization) and 12,390 healthy children matched for age, gender, and location at seven sites in Africa and South Asia. Most of the households (>93%) at six of the sites had access to a sanitation facility, whereas only 70% of households at the Kenyan site had access to a facility. Compared to having a private household sanitation facility, sharing a facility with three or more households significantly increased the risk of young children developing diarrhea (a significantly increased risk is unlikely to have occurred by chance) at the study sites in Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, and Pakistan. At the sites in Kenya, Mali, and Pakistan, sharing a facility with one or two households also increased MSD risk. Sharing a sanitation facility did not increase MSD risk at the sites in The Gambia, Bangladesh, or India.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that sharing a sanitation facility with one or two other households is associated with an increased risk of MSD in young children. Because this was an observational study, these findings only show an association between the use of shared sanitation facilities and MSD risk; they cannot prove that using shared facilities causes diarrhea. It could be, for example, that households who decide to invest in a private sanitation facility also prioritize safe hygiene practices. The reduced risk of diarrhea in these households might then be the result of everyone washing their hands after using the toilet rather than the result of having a private latrine. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that interventions aimed at increasing access to private household sanitation facilities might reduce the global MSD burden. Moreover, they suggest that shared sanitation facilities should continue to be classified as “unimproved” for the purposes of monitoring global access to sanitation.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002010.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Jonny Crocker and Jamie Bartram
A PLOS Medicine Collection on water and sanitation is available
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information on water, sanitation, and health (in several languages) and on diarrhea
The WHO/UNICEF JMP is the official United Nations mechanism tasked with monitoring progress toward MDG7, Target C; the JMP Update Report 2015 is available online (key facts are available in several languages through the JMP website)
The children’s charity UNICEF, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides information on water, sanitation, and health and on diarrhea (in several languages)
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and the non-governmental organization Practical Action provide information and approaches and technologies for improving sanitation
The Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity (SHARE) contributes to knowledge about effective, sustainable, and equitable sanitation and hygiene by supporting research to improve policy and practice worldwide.
More information about GEMS is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002010
PMCID: PMC4854459  PMID: 27138888
21.  Studying the association between musculoskeletal disorders, quality of life and mental health. A primary care pilot study in rural Crete, Greece 
Background
The burden of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) on the general health and well-being of the population has been documented in various studies. The objective of this study was to explore the association between MSD and the quality of life and mental health of patients and to discuss issues concerning care seeking patterns in rural Greece.
Methods
Patients registered at one rural Primary Care Centre (PCC) in Crete were invited to complete the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ) for the analysis of musculoskeletal symptoms, together with validated instruments for measuring health related quality of life (SF-36) and mental distress (GHQ-28).
Results
The prevalence rate of MSD was found to be 71.2%, with low back and knee pain being the most common symptoms. Most conditions significantly impaired the quality of life, especially the physical dimensions of SF-36. Depression was strongly correlated to most MSD (p < 0.001). Multiple logistic analyses revealed that patients who consulted the PCC due to MSD were likely to have more mental distress or impaired physical functioning compared to those who did not.
Conclusion
Musculoskeletal disorders were common in patients attending the rural PCC of this study and were associated with a poor quality of life and mental distress that affected their consultation behaviour.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-10-143
PMCID: PMC2785760  PMID: 19930570
22.  Homeopathic medical practice: Long-term results of a cohort study with 3981 patients 
BMC Public Health  2005;5:115.
Background
On the range of diagnoses, course of treatment, and long-term outcome in patients who chose to receive homeopathic medical treatment very little is known. We investigated homeopathic practice in an industrialized country under everyday conditions.
Methods
In a prospective, multicentre cohort study with 103 primary care practices with additional specialisation in homeopathy in Germany and Switzerland, data from all patients (age >1 year) consulting the physician for the first time were observed. The main outcome measures were: Patient and physician assessments (numeric rating scales from 0 to 10) and quality of life at baseline, and after 3, 12, and 24 months.
Results
A total of 3,981 patients were studied including 2,851 adults (29% men, mean age 42.5 ± 13.1 years; 71% women, 39.9 ± 12.4 years) and 1,130 children (52% boys, 6.5 ± 3.9 years; 48% girls, 7.0 ± 4.3 years). Ninety-seven percent of all diagnoses were chronic with an average duration of 8.8 ± 8 years. The most frequent diagnoses were allergic rhinitis in men, headache in women, and atopic dermatitis in children. Disease severity decreased significantly (p < 0.001) between baseline and 24 months (adults from 6.2 ± 1.7 to 3.0 ± 2.2; children from 6.1 ± 1.8 to 2.2 ± 1.9). Physicians' assessments yielded similar results. For adults and young children, major improvements were observed for quality of life, whereas no changes were seen in adolescents. Younger age and more severe disease at baseline were factors predictive of better therapeutic success.
Conclusion
Disease severity and quality of life demonstrated marked and sustained improvements following homeopathic treatment period. Our findings indicate that homeopathic medical therapy may play a beneficial role in the long-term care of patients with chronic diseases.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-5-115
PMCID: PMC1298309  PMID: 16266440
23.  Who seeks primary care for sleep, anxiety and depressive disorders from physicians prescribing homeopathic and other complementary medicine? Results from the EPI3 population survey 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001498.
Objectives
To describe and compare patients seeking treatment for sleep, anxiety and depressive disorders (SADD) from physicians in general practice (GPs) with three different practice preferences: strictly conventional medicine (GP-CM), mixed complementary and conventional medicine (GP-Mx) and certified homeopathic physicians (GP-Ho).
Design and setting
The EPI3 survey was a nationwide, observational study of a representative sample of GPs and their patients, conducted in France between March 2007 and July 2008.
Participants
1572 patients diagnosed with SADD.
Primary and secondary outcomes
The patients’ attitude towards complementary and alternative medicine; psychotropic drug utilisation.
Results
Compared to patients attending GP-CM, GP-Ho patients had healthier lifestyles while GP-Mx patients showed similar profiles. Psychotropic drugs were more likely to be prescribed by GP-CM (64%) than GP-Mx (55.4%) and GP-Ho (31.2%). The three groups of patients shared similar SADD severity.
Conclusion
Our results showed that patients with SADD, while differing principally in their sociodemographic profiles and conventional psychotropic prescriptions, were actually rather similar regarding the severity of SADD in terms of comorbidities and quality of life. This information may help to better plan resource allocation and management of these common health problems in primary care.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001498
PMCID: PMC3532988  PMID: 23180389
Epidemiology
24.  Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Upper Extremities Due to Extensive Usage of Hand Held Devices 
Objective
The use of hand held devices (HHD) such as mobile phones, game controls, tablets, portable media players and personal digital assistants have increased dramatically in past decade. While sending a text message or using the controls of the HHD the users need to use their thumb and other palm muscles extensively. The objective of this study was to describe the risk factors and clinical features of the musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) arising due to usage of hand held devices and to evaluate the effectiveness of a sequenced rehabilitation protocol.
Methods
A retrospective report analysis of 70 subjects, who were diagnosed to have a MSD affecting the upper extremities, was conducted. Medical charts from a tertiary level rehabilitation centre from 2005–2013 were analysed. All the subjects reported pain in their upper extremities following extensive usage of HHD and were examined and diagnosed to have a MSD by an orthopaedic and rehabilitation physician. After the assessment and diagnosis, all the patients underwent rehabilitation using a sequenced protocol.
Results
All the subjects reported pain in the thumb and forearm with associated burning, numbness and tingling around the thenar aspect of the hand, and stiffness of wrist and hand. 43 subjects had symptoms on the right side; 9 on left and 18 had bilateral symptoms. Correlation was found between hand dominance and MSD. 33 subjects complained of onset of symptoms following extensive text messaging. All the subjects were diagnosed to have tendinosis of Extensor Pollicis Longus and Myofascial Pain Syndrome affecting the 1st interossei, thenar group of muscles and Extensor Digitorum Communis. 23 of the subjects were senior executives, among these 7 were CEO’s of major multinational companies in India. All the subjects recovered completely following the rehabilitation.
Conclusions
The study concluded that mobile phones and gadgets that promoted the predominant usage of thumb or only one finger while texting or using the controls were associated with a higher prevalence of MSDs. Treatment using a sequenced rehabilitation protocol was found to be effective.
doi:10.1186/s40557-014-0022-3
PMCID: PMC4387778  PMID: 25852936
Hand held devices; Mobile phones; Myofascial pain syndrome; Tendinosis; Blackberry thumb; Text message injury
25.  Associations Between Academic Stressors, Reaction to Stress, Coping Strategies and Musculoskeletal Disorders Among College Students 
Background
The adverse health effects of stress are enormous, and vary among people, probably because of differences in how stress is appraised and the strategies individuals use to cope with it. This study assessed the association between academic stress and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among 1365 undergraduates.
Methods
This was a cross-sectional study conducted in a Nigerian university at the beginning of the 2010/2011 academic session with the same group of participants. The Life Stress Assessment Inventory, Coping Strategies Questionnaire, and Short Musculoskeletal Function Assessment were administered as tools of data gathering.
Results
Students' stress level and associated MSDs were higher during the examination period than the pre-examination periods. Stressors were significantly associated with increased risk of MSDs in both sexes were those related to changes (odds ratio (OR) = 1.7, p = 0.002) and pressures (OR = 2.09, p = 0.001). Emotional and physiological reactions to stress were significantly associated with MSDs in both sexes, with higher odds for MSDs in females, whereas cognitive and behavioral reactions showed higher odds (though non-significant) in males. The risk of MSDs was higher in respondents who adopted avoidance and religious coping strategies compared with those who adopted active practical and distracting coping strategies.
Conclusions
Stress among students could be significantly associated with MSDs depending on individuals' demographics, stressors, reactions to stress, and coping methods. Interventions to reduce stress-induced MSDs among students should consider these factors among others.
PMCID: PMC3742887  PMID: 23950626
Academic stressors; Coping strategies; Musculoskeletal disorders

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