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1.  Associations between Mode of HIV Testing and Consent, Confidentiality, and Referral: A Comparative Analysis in Four African Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001329.
A study carried out by Carla Obermeyer and colleagues examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether HIV testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing or provider-initiated testing.
Background
Recommendations about scaling up HIV testing and counseling highlight the need to provide key services and to protect clients' rights, but it is unclear to what extent different modes of testing differ in this respect. This paper examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) or provider-initiated testing.
Methods and Findings
The MATCH (Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV) study was carried out in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda. Surveys were conducted at selected facilities. We defined eight outcome measures related to pre- and post-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfactory interactions with providers, and (for HIV-positive respondents) referral for care. These were compared across three types of facilities: integrated facilities, where testing is provided along with medical care; stand-alone VCT facilities; and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) facilities, where testing is part of PMTCT services. Tests of bivariate associations and modified Poisson regression were used to assess significance and estimate the unadjusted and adjusted associations between modes of testing and outcome measures. In total, 2,116 respondents tested in 2007 or later reported on their testing experience. High percentages of clients across countries and modes of testing reported receiving recommended services and being satisfied. In the unadjusted analyses, integrated testers were less likely to meet with a counselor before testing (83% compared with 95% of VCT testers; p<0.001), but those who had a pre-test meeting were more likely to have completed consent procedures (89% compared with 83% among VCT testers; p<0.001) and pre-test counseling (78% compared with 73% among VCT testers; p = 0.015). Both integrated and PMTCT testers were more likely to receive complete post-test counseling than were VCT testers (59% among both PMTCT and integrated testers compared with 36% among VCT testers; p<0.001). Adjusted analyses by country show few significant differences by mode of testing: only lower satisfaction among integrated testers in Burkina Faso and Uganda, and lower frequency of referral among PMTCT testers in Malawi. Adjusted analyses of pooled data across countries show a higher likelihood of pre-test meeting for those testing at VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.07–1.38) and higher satisfaction for stand-alone VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06–1.25), compared to integrated testing, but no other associations were statistically significant.
Conclusions
Overall, in this study most respondents reported favorable outcomes for consent, confidentiality, and referral. Provider-initiated ways of delivering testing and counseling do not appear to be associated with less favorable outcomes for clients than traditional, client-initiated VCT, suggesting that testing can be scaled up through multiple modes without detriment to clients' rights.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2007, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a joint guidance document on “provider-initiated” HIV testing and counseling. They noted that previous testing strategies that relied on “client-initiated” testing (also referred to as VCT, for voluntary counseling and testing) had failed to reach enough people, both in high-income and resource-constrained countries—in Africa, for example, at that time, just 12% of men and 10% of women had ever been tested. They argued that many opportunities to diagnose and counsel people that visit health facilities for other reasons are being missed, and that provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling can help expand access to HIV treatment, care, and support. They made it clear, however, that mandatory testing is not acceptable. All provider-initiated testing must therefore give individuals the option to not be tested. In addition, the guidelines stressed that all testing must continue to observe “the three Cs” (informed consent, counseling, and confidentiality) and be accompanied by an “enabling environment” including the availability of antiretroviral therapy, prevention and support services, and a supportive social, policy, and legal framework. A number of advocates have subsequently criticized the guidelines for failing to recognize that health-care services and staff in some countries do not always observe the three Cs. Critics have also questioned the appropriateness of the strategy for settings where antiretroviral therapy is not always available or where stigma and discrimination remain widespread.
Why Was This Study Done?
To inform the debate surrounding scale-up of HIV testing in general and provider-initiated testing in particular with data on “real-life” testing, researchers have since carried out a number of studies. One of them, called MATCH (for Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV), was designed to allow systematic comparisons across African countries of different ways of HIV testing. Its goal was to investigate the uptake of testing, to analyze differences in the experience of testing across countries and modes of testing, and to use the results to devise better strategies to increase knowledge of HIV status and referral to care. MATCH used different means to collect information, including surveys and interviews. People from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda participated. Some had undergone HIV testing, others had not. This study used a subset of the survey data collected for the MATCH study and asked whether there were systematic differences depending on the type of testing people had experienced.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The data the researchers used were from 2,116 people who had undergone testing in the two previous years at different facilities in the four countries. The different facilities were grouped into three “modes” of testing: VCT-only testing, integrated testing (which included hospitals and other medical facilities where provider-initiated and client-initiated testing were both available, along with other medical services), and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) testing at medical facilities offering services to pregnant women. Analyzing the survey responses, the researchers categorized them as related to eight different “outcomes”: pre-test meeting, pre-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfaction with the person-to-person interactions, post-test meeting to receive results, post-test counseling, and referral to care.
They found that across countries and different facilities, the majority of participants reported having received most of the testing-related services. More than 90% reported having a pre-test meeting, and around 80% were satisfied with the personal interactions, with the consent process, and with confidentiality. About 50% of participants reported receiving all post-test services, and 71% of those who had tested positive for HIV reported appropriate referral to care.
When they looked for differences between different modes of testing, the researchers found that while they existed, they did not consistently favor one mode over another. Some outcomes scored higher in VCT facilities, some in PMTCT facilities, and some in integrated facilities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
While there is room for improvement in HIV testing services (especially post-test services) across the countries and facilities included, the study did not reveal major problems with consent or confidentiality. The results also suggest that services at PMTCT and integrated facilities are not any worse than those at VCT-only sites. It seems therefore reasonable to continue expanding access to HIV testing and to include all facilities in the scale-up. That said, this is only one of a number of studies examining issues surrounding HIV testing, and decisions should be based on all available evidence. The results here are consistent with some of the other studies, but there are also reports that counseling might become neglected as testing is scaled up, and that offering testing routinely at every doctor's visit makes it seem mandatory even if there is the possibility to “opt out.” Other analyses of the MATCH study use in-depth interviews to understand in more detail the feelings, experiences, and attitudes of participants who have been tested as well as those who have not been tested. It will be important to see whether their results are consistent with the ones here, which are based on a survey of people who have been tested.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001329.
WHO has published a toolkit for scaling up HIV testing and counseling services in resource-limited settings, as well as the report Service Delivery Approaches to HIV Testing and Counselling (HSC): A Strategic HTC Programme Framework
In response to reactions to the 2007 joint WHO/UNAIDS guidelines Guidance on Provider-Initiated HIV Testing and Counselling in Health Facilities, the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights issued a Statement and Recommendations on Scaling up HIV Testing and Counselling
The NAM/aidsmap website has a section on HIV testing policies and guidelines.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001329
PMCID: PMC3479110  PMID: 23109914
2.  Feasibility and coverage of implementing intermittent preventive treatment of malaria in pregnant women contacting private or public clinics in Tanzania: experience-based viewpoints of health managers in Mkuranga and Mufindi districts 
Background
Evidence on healthcare managers’ experience on operational feasibility of malaria intermittent preventive treatment for malaria during pregnancy (IPTp) using sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) in Africa is systematically inadequate. This paper elucidates the perspectives of District Council Health Management Team (CHMT)s regarding the feasibility of IPTp with SP strategy, including its acceptability and ability of district health care systems to cope with the contemporary and potential challenges.
Methods
The study was conducted in Mkuranga and Mufindi districts. Data were collected between November 2005 and December 2007, involving focus group discussion (FGD) with Mufindi CHMT and in-depth interviews were conducted with few CHMT members in Mkuranga where it was difficult to summon all members for FGD.
Results
Participants in both districts acknowledged the IPTp strategy, considering the seriousness of malaria in pregnancy problem; government allocation of funds to support healthcare staff training programmes in focused antenatal care (fANC) issues, procuring essential drugs distributed to districts, staff remuneration, distribution of fANC guidelines, and administrative activities performed by CHMTs. The identified weaknesses include late arrival of funds from central level weakening CHMT’s performance in health supervision, organising outreach clinics, distributing essential supplies, and delivery of IPTp services. Participants anticipated the public losing confidence in SP for IPTp after government announced artemither-lumefantrine (ALu) as the new first-line drug for uncomplicated malaria replacing SP. Role of private healthcare staff in IPTp services was acknowledged cautiously because CHMTs rarely supplied private clinics with SP for free delivery in fear that clients would be required to pay for the SP contrary to government policy. In Mufindi, the District Council showed a strong political support by supplementing ANC clinics with bottled water; in Mkuranga such support was not experienced. A combination of health facility understaffing, water scarcity and staff non-adherence to directly observed therapy instructions forced healthcare staff to allow clients to take SP at home. Need for investigating in improving adherence to IPTp administration was emphasised.
Conclusion
High acceptability of the IPTp strategy at district level is meaningless unless necessary support is assured in terms of number, skills and motivation of caregivers and availability of essential supplies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-372
PMCID: PMC3850681  PMID: 24079911
Intermittent preventive treatment; Sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine; Malaria; Pregnancy; Antenatal care; Health systems; Health services; Tanzania
3.  A self-evaluation tool for integrated care services: the Development Model for Integrated Care applied in practice 
Purpose
The purpose of the workshop is to show the applications of the Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC) in practice. This relatively new and validated model, can be used by integrated care practices to evaluate their integrated care, to assess their phase of development and reveal improvement areas. In the workshop the results of the use of the model in three types of integrated care settings in the Netherlands will be presented. Participants are offered practical instruments based on the validated DMIC to use in their own setting and will be introduced to the webbased tool.
Context
To integrate care from multiple providers into a coherent and streamlined client-focused service, a large number of activities and agreements have to be implemented like streamlining information flows and adequate transfers of clients. In the large range of possible activities it is often not clear what essential activities are and where to start or continue. Also, knowledge about how to further develop integrated care services is needed. The Development Model for Integrated Care (DMIC), based on PhD research of Mirella Minkman, describes nine clusters containing in total 89 elements that contribute to the integration of care. The clusters are named: ‘client-centeredness’, ‘delivery system’, ‘performance management’, ‘quality of care’, ‘result-focused learning’, ‘interprofessional teamwork’, ‘roles and tasks’, ‘commitment’, and ‘transparant entrepreneurship’ [1–3]. In 2011 a new digital webbased self-evolution tool which contains the 89 elements grouped in nine clusters was developed. The DMIC also describes four phases of development [4]. The model is empirically validated in practice by assessing the relevance and implementation of the elements and development phases in 84 integrated care services in The Netherlands: in stroke, acute myocardial infarct (AMI), and dementia services. The validation studies are recently published [5, 6]. In 2011 also other integrated care services started using the model [7]. Vilans developed a digital web-based self-evaluation tool for integrated care services based on the DMIC. A palliative care network, four diabetes services, a youth care service and a network for autism used the self-evaluation tool to evaluate the development of their integrated care service. Because of its generic character, the model and tool are believed to be also interesting internationally.
Data sources
In the workshop we will present the results of three studies in integrated diabetes, youth and palliative care. The three projects consist of multiple steps, see below. Workshop participants could also work with the DMIC following these steps.
One: Preparation of the digital self-evolution tool for integrated care services
Although they are very different, the three integrated care services all wanted to gain insight in their development and improvement opportunities. We tailored the digital self-evaluation tool for each specific integrated care services, but for all the basis was the DMIC. Personal accounts for the digital DMIC self-evalution survey were sent to multiple partners working in each integrated care service (4–16 partners).
Two: Use of the online self-evaluation tool each partner of the local integrated care setting evaluated the integrated care by filling in the web-based questionnaire. The tool consists of three parts (A-C) named: general information about the integrated care practice (A); the clusters and elements of the DMIC (B); and the four phases of development (C). The respondents rated the relevance and presence of each element in their integrated care practice. Respondents were asked to estimate in which phase of development their thought their service was.
Three: Analysing the results
Advisers from Vilans, the Centre of excellence for long-term care in the Netherlands, analysed the self-evolution results in cooperation with the integrated care coordinators. The results show the total amount of implemented integrated care elements per cluster in spider graphs and the development phase as calculated by the DMIC model. Suggestions for further development of the integrated care services were analysed and reported.
Four: Discussing the implications for further development
In a workshop with the local integrated care partners the results of the self-evaluation were presented and discussed. We noticed remarkable results and highlight elements for further development. In addition, we gave advice for further development appropriate to the development phase of the integrated care service. Furthermore, the professionals prioritized the elements and decided which elements to start working on. This resulted in a (quality improvement) plan for the further development of the integrated care service.
Five: Reporting results
In a report all the results of the survey (including consensus scores) and the workshops came together. The integrated care coordinators stated that the reports really helped them to assess their improvement strategy. Also, there was insight in the development phase of their service which gave tools for further development.
Case description
The three cases presented are a palliative network, an integrated diabetes services and an integrated care network for youth in the Netherlands. The palliative care network wanted to reflect on their current development, to build a guiding framework for further development of the network. About sixteen professionals within the network worked with the digital self-evaluation tool and the DMIC: home care organisations, welfare organizations, hospice centres, health care organisations, community organizations.
For diabetes care, a Dutch health care insurance company wished to gain insight in the development of the contracted integrated care services to stimulate further development of the services. Professionals of three diabetes integrated care services were invited to fill in the digital self-evaluation tool. Of each integrated care service professionals like a general practitioner, a diabetes nurse, a medical specialist, a dietician and a podiatrist were invited. In youth care, a local health organisation wondered whether the DMIC could be helpful to visualize the results of youth integrated care services at process- and organisational level. The goal of the project was to define indicators at a process- and organisational level for youth care services based on the DMIC. In the future, these indicators might be used to evaluate youth care integrated care services and improve the quality of youth care within the Netherlands.
Conclusions and discussion
It is important for the quality of integrated care services that the involved coordinators, managers and professionals are aware of the development process of the integrated care service and that they focus on elements which can further develop and improve their integrated care. However, we noticed that integrated care services in the Netherlands experience difficulties in developing their integrated care service. It is often not clear what essential activities are to work on and how to further develop the integrated care service. A guiding framework for the development of integrated care was missing. The DMIC model has been developed for that reason and offers a useful tool for assessment, self-evaluation or improvement of integrated care services in practice. The model has been validated for AMI, dementia and stroke services. The latest new studies in diabetes, palliative care and youth care gave further insight in the generic character of the DMIC. Based on these studies it can be assumed that the DMIC can be used for multiple types of integrated care services. The model is assumed to be interesting for an international audience. Improving integrated care is a complex topic in a large number of countries; the DMIC is also based on the international literature. Dutch integrated care coordinators stated that the DMIC helped them to assess their integrated care development in practice and supported them in obtaining ideas for expanding and improving their integrated care activities.
The web-based self-evaluation tool focuses on a process- and organisational level of integrated care. Also, the self assessed development phase can be compared to the development phase as calculated by the DMIC tool. The cases showed this is fruitful input for discussions. When using the tool, the results can also be used in quality policy reports and improvement plans. The web-based tool is being tested at this moment in practice, but in San Marino we can present the latest webversion and demonstrate with a short video how to use the tool and model. During practical exercises in the workshop the participants will experience how the application of the DMIC can work for them in practice or in research. For integrated care researchers and policy makers, the DMIC questionnaire and tool is a promising method for further research and policy plans in integrated care.
PMCID: PMC3617779
development model for integrated care; development of integrated care services; implementation and improvement of integrated care; self evaluation
4.  Supply-related drivers of staff motivation for providing intermittent preventive treatment of malaria during pregnancy in Tanzania: evidence from two rural districts 
Malaria Journal  2012;11:48.
Background
Since its introduction in the national antenatal care (ANC) system in Tanzania in 2001, little evidence is documented regarding the motivation and performance of health workers (HWs) in the provision of intermittent preventive treatment of malaria during pregnancy (IPTp) services in the national ANC clinics and the implications such motivation and performance might have had on HWs and services' compliance with the recommended IPTp delivery guidelines. This paper describes the supply-related drivers of motivation and performance of HWs in administering IPTp doses among other ANC services delivered in public and private health facilities (HFs) in Tanzania, using a case study of Mkuranga and Mufindi districts.
Methods
Interviews were conducted with 78 HWs participating in the delivery of ANC services in private and public HFs and were supplemented by personal communications with the members of the district council health management team. The research instrument used in the data collection process contained a mixture of closed and open-ended questions. Some of the open-ended questions had to be coded in the form that allowed their analysis quantitatively.
Results
In both districts, respondents acknowledged IPTp as an essential intervention, but expressed dissatisfaction with their working environments constraining their performance, including health facility (HF) unit understaffing; unsystematic and unfriendly supervision by CHMT members; limited opportunities for HW career development; and poor (HF) infrastructure and staff houses. Data also suggest that poor working conditions negatively affect health workers' motivation to perform for ANC (including IPTp) services. Similarities and differences were noted in terms of motivational factors for ANC service delivery between the HWs employed in private HFs and those in public HFs: those in private facilities were more comfortable with staff residential houses, HF buildings, equipment, availability of water, electricity and cups for clients to use while taking doses under direct observed therapy than their public facility counterparts. Employees in public HFs more acknowledged availability of clinical officers, nurses and midwives than their private facility counterparts. More results are presented and discussed.
Conclusion
The study shows conditions related to staffing levels, health infrastructure and essential supplies being among the key determinants or drivers of frontline HWs' motivation to deliver ANC services in both private and public HFs. Efforts of the government to meet the maternal health related Millennium Development Goals and targets for specific interventions need to address challenges related to HWs' motivation to perform their duties at their work-places.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-11-48
PMCID: PMC3298537  PMID: 22340941
Human resources; Health worker motivation; Malaria; Health-care services; Malaria in pregnancy; Tanzania
5.  Conflicts in Rights of Disclosure of HIV Status in South Western Nigeria: the Health Care Provider’s Perspective 
Materia Socio-Medica  2012;24(1):21-25.
Introduction:
Close interaction between clients and health care workers as regards disclosure, refusal of treatment and right to know status has been a subject of debate in legal and medical quarters. The objective of this study was to assess perceived rights of health care workers towards disclosure of HIV status in Lagos State in Southwestern Nigeria.
Methods:
This was a descriptive cross sectional study carried out among 260 health care workers using multistage sampling technique. Research instruments were semi structured self administered and pre tested questionnaires. Data was analyzed using the SPSS softwares.
Results:
Mean age of respondents was 39.3(+3.7) years. One hundred and eight four (70.8%) of the health workers studied said that it is the right of health care workers to know the HIV status of clients before commencement of treatments, and 36 (13.8%) agreed that health care workers have the right to refuse to treat or carry out procedure on known HIV positive clients. Twenty (7.7%) said that HIV positive health care workers should not be allowed to handle clients clinically, 72 (27.7%) believed that it is the right of HIV positive clients to know the HIV status of health care workers before attending to them, 36 (13.8%) of respondents has ever disclosed their HIV status to clients before carrying out procedures on them. Fifty six (21.5%) of respondents were willing to show their result results to a HIV positive clients who insist on knowing his or her HIV status, 84 (32.3%) believed that clients has the right to refuse a known HIV positive health care workers to treat or carry out some procedures.
Discussion:
There was no statistically significant association between readiness to disclose HIV status and believing that health care workers have the right to know the status of clients before given them treatment ({P< 0.05).
Conclusion:
The need to balance out perceived rights of health care workers and clients would assist in provision of quality services to HIV positive clients.
doi:10.5455/msm.2012.24.21-25
PMCID: PMC3732355  PMID: 23922512
Rights; stigma and discrimination; conflicts; health care workers.
6.  Measuring client experiences in long-term care in the Netherlands: a pilot study with the Consumer Quality Index Long-term Care 
Background
This study aims to describe the development, testing and optimization of a new standard instrument, the Consumer Quality Index (CQ-index®) Long-term Care, for measuring client experiences with long-term care in the Netherlands.
Methods
Three versions of the CQ-index questionnaires and protocols for study sampling and data collection were developed, designed for interviews with residents of nursing or residential care homes and postal surveys among representatives of psychogeriatric residents and homecare clients. From July to November 2006 a pilot study was conducted among 2,697 clients of 68 nursing or residential care homes, 2,164 representatives of clients in 57 psychogeriatric care institutions, and 1,462 clients of 19 homecare organizations. We performed psychometric analyses and descriptive analyses, and evaluated the pilot study.
Results
The pilot study showed the feasibility and usability of the instruments, supported the multidimensionality of the questionnaires and showed first findings on client experiences and possibilities for quality improvement. Nine scales applied to all care settings: shared decision making, attitude and courtesy, information, body care, competence and safety of care, activities, autonomy, mental well-being, and availability of personnel. The pilot resulted in three optimized questionnaires and recommendations for nationwide implementation.
Conclusions
The CQ-index® Long-term Care provides a good basis to investigate the quality of nursing homes, residential care homes and homecare from the clients' perspective. This standardized instrument enables a nationwide comparison of the quality of long-term care for the purpose of transparency and quality assurance.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-95
PMCID: PMC2907762  PMID: 20384989
7.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Conclusions
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
8.  Legal aspects with regard to integrated care: a long way to go 
Introduction
The main purpose of this abstract is to raise awareness of the unsatisfactory legal situation with regard to integrated care. The abstract focuses on two major legal issues. First, I picture the actual legal situation regarding cross-border healthcare. Secondly, I describe the duties care providers and patients may face when entering into integrated care programs.
Cross-border healthcare
Currently, we lack an European legislative framework that regulates cross-border healthcare. One reason for this fact is that Article 152 EC treaty states that “Community Action in the field of public health shall fully respect the responsibilities of the Member States for the organisation and delivery of health services and medical care” [1]. Therefore, it's up to each Member State to provide regulations with regard to cross-border healthcare services. Hence, patients need to deal with various national—often inconsistent—provisions when considering consuming cross-border healthcare. As a consequence, patients easily felt overstrained and the unclear legal situation prevents them from crossing a border to obtain healthcare. This often averts the establishment of integrated care models. As a result, patients lose the opportunity to receive more or different healthcare services and products in Member States other than the State in which they are living or are insured.
Nevertheless, it was the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with its continuous rulings in respect to cross-border healthcare that started with the harmonization process of cross-border healthcare legislation. The ECJ judges have ruled that freedom to cross EU borders for the best and quickest treatment is a right for all [2]. However, litigation before the ECJ suffers from deficiencies in this respect. In particular, the case law of the ECJ on the issue clearly shows the unsatisfactory nature of case-by-case ex post procedures for a complex and developing policy area. Further, litigation always leads to a winner and a loser, but does not foster an iterative, deliberate process in which the optimal accommodation of all affected interests is reached because the ECJ always decides on a particular case [3]. As a consequence, the European Commission has presented a proposal for a directive on the application of patient's rights in cross-border healthcare which reflects the decisions of the ECJ [4]. The aim of the proposed directive is—expressed in simplified terms—to ensure and to clarify the conditions for exercising patient's right to cross-border healthcare, and to create a framework for increasing cooperation between Member States. The proposal directive covers cross-border healthcare irrespective of how it is organised, financed or provided and whether it is private or public. The outcome of the proposed directive would be the reduction of obstacles faced when crossing the border in order to obtain healthcare. In case the proposed directive will be approved and will come into force, a major step in order to enlarge the possibilities to achieve integrated care is done. However, the Member States (e.g. Austria) take a critical stance towards the proposed directive and no one currently knows whether it will ever be approved [5].
The actor's duties with respect to integrated care programs
Entering into an integrated care program leads to legal challenges with regard to the actors. In particular, the question which duties are faced when entering into an integrated care program has not been raised yet. Therefore, patients find themselves in situations with a deficit of information and do not see the legal consequences when entering into an integrated care program. Patients often do not realise that they conclude an agreement with a health insurance company. They bind themselves for a certain period (sometimes several years) and they are contractually not allowed to rescind from the agreement. In general, integrated care programs offered from health insurance companies oblige the patient to consult the healthcare providers that are covered from the agreement. As a consequence, in case patients are not satisfied with the healthcare provider because of medical or personal reasons, no change to another healthcare provider is possible. Further, patients always enter into an implied health treatment agreement with the healthcare provider. In turn, healthcare providers do not have any certainties to be appointed from health insurance companies and, therefore, may lose essential revenues. In addition, healthcare providers are obliged to fulfil certain requirements (technical and organisational) in order to be appointed. In case they are not able anymore to continuously fulfil these requirements, health insurance companies may rescind their contracts. Having these issues in mind, one can assume that entering into an integrated care program implies various—often unseen—duties from different perspectives.
Conclusion
At a glance, the legal background of integrated care still raises a lot of unsolved problems both on a national and on a European level. As a next step, legal uncertainties should be made transparent in order to give the actors the possibility to discuss them. A consequence of this public discussion would be a cornerstone for more consumer-friendly healthcare models that would lead to better patient treatment and would enhance integrated healthcare.
PMCID: PMC2807115
cross-border healthcare; legislation; European Court of Justice; patient's rights; legal duties; integrated care program
9.  Remote Speech and Language Therapy services in Buckinghamshire 
Executive summary
Speech and Language Therapists work with people with aphasia following Stroke. For many clients aphasia is a life-long condition and an individual’s ability to adjust to this is very variable. Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust has an integrated adult Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) Service with 3.6 WTE therapists allocated to the Community Long-Term Conditions Team which serves patients with aphasia as well as other conditions including dementia and progressive neurological conditions. Obviously there is a limit in the capacity of this service and we need to look to alternative and innovative methods of service provision. These have included:
group therapy
strengthen links with the voluntary sector
Conversation Partner Scheme training volunteers to visit people in their own homes
Strategic context
A local healthcare need was identified by Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC); difficulty accessing intensive SLT for clients with aphasia post stroke. BCC had experience and expertise in Telecare/Telehealth and wanted to extend the role of Telehealth to these clients, funding was identified. BCC and the SLT Department worked together for several months identifying the best quality package for people with aphasia. This was potentially very exciting but the initial concept required adjustment as the current Telecare was not sophisticated enough to cope with the data produced by complex aphasia computer therapy. An additional partner was brought in ‘Steps Consultancy’ and this enabled us to produce a package which achieved our initial objective. The provision of the following is secure for 3 years: 7 MSI touchscreen computers (with keyboard and mouse). Three laptops and laptop bags. Multiple user Licence for Step-By-Step software. Licence x8 REACT software. Ten finger scanners, microphones and headphones. Contract with a local company for hardware support. Continued software support form Steps including staff training.
Case for change
Currently we are set up to begin using the devices remotely, this took a lot of technical work with Steps Consultancy and Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust (BHT) IT Department. SLT staff was trained in software use but are not yet highly familiar with the package. All devices were assigned to clients and we are in the process of setting these clients up with a system by connecting the device to the central server through their home internet system. The outdated IT equipment we are trying to use within the Trust is slowing us down. Also, due to staffing constraints in the department the assessment of patients, setting up of the programme, delivering and setting up the equipment and the following up on results and updating therapy packages is time consuming and has been difficult to absorb into our current capacity, but we are making progress.
Objective
To provide people with aphasia access to Teletherapy so that they can increase the amount of therapy practice.
Service Proposal for stage 2
The SLT department has identified 3.75 hours a week of therapy time to dedicate to the Teletherapy Project, this will be subject to BHT approval, if approved will commence January 2012. This is in order to use the equipment to its full potential and achieve timely distribution of computer therapy packages. We have concerns that, as all touchscreens are allocated to patients, and patients keep the screens for approximately 6 months there is going to be a waiting list for equipment as we receive new referrals for Teletherapy. The SLT Department proposes further development of the project in the following ways:
investment in upgrading the project to teleconferencing to use the equipment we currently have to its full potential. This would involve investment in Broadband, new up to date Windows7 PCs and 24” monitors (3 of each), webcams and appropriate software to allow teleconferencing;
purchasing a further 10 touchscreen computers so that the programme is available to new strokes without having to go on a waiting list;
increased consultancy fee to Steps so that we can have mentorship of our new post-holder who will have 3.75 hours per week allocated to the project;
to provide SLT services to other neuro-conditions that result in a SLT requirement;
integration of telehealth service into existing community equipment services and countywide Telehealth monitoring contract to test model for Telehealth at scale in next 12–24 months.
PMCID: PMC3571123
telehealth; speech and language therapy; joint commissioning
10.  Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.hqontario.ca/en/mas/mas_ohtas_mn.html.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty_member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website: http://www.path-hta.ca/About-Us/Contact-Us.aspx.
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website: http://theta.utoronto.ca/static/contact.
Objective
The objective of this health technology assessment was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of noninvasive ventilation for stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Noninvasive ventilation is used for COPD patients with chronic respiratory failure. Chronic respiratory failure in COPD patients may be due to the inability of the pulmonary system to coordinate ventilation, leading to adverse arterial levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Noninvasive ventilation in stable COPD patients has the potential to improve quality of life, prolong survival, and improve gas exchange and sleep quality in patients who are symptomatic after optimal therapy, have hypercapnia or nocturnal hypoventilation and mild hypercapnia, and are frequently hospitalized.
Technology
Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) is any form of positive ventilatory support without the use of an endotracheal tube. For stable COPD, the standard of care when using noninvasive ventilation is bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP). Bilevel positive airway pressure involves both inspiratory and expiratory pressure, high during inspiration and lower during expiration. It acts as a pressure support to accentuate a patient’s inspiratory efforts. The gradient between pressures maintains alveolar ventilation and helps to reduce carbon dioxide levels. Outpatients typically use BiPAP at night. Additional advantages of using BiPAP include resting of respiratory muscles, decreased work of breathing, and control of obstructive hypopnea.
Research Question
What is the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of noninvasive ventilation, compared with no ventilation while receiving usual care, for stable COPD patients?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on December 3, 2010, using OVID MEDLINE, OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, EBSCO Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database for studies published from January 1, 2004 to December 3, 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. When the reviewer was unsure of the eligibility of articles, a second clinical epidemiologist and then a group of epidemiologists reviewed these until consensus was reached.
Inclusion Criteria
full-text English language articles,
studies published between January 1, 2004 and December 3, 2010,
journal articles that report on the effectiveness or cost-effectiveness of noninvasive ventilation,
clearly described study design and methods, and
health technology assessments, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, randomized controlled trials (RCTs).
Exclusion Criteria
non-English papers
animal or in vitro studies
case reports, case series, or case-case studies
cross-over RCTs
studies on noninvasive negative pressure ventilation (e.g., iron lung)
studies that combine ventilation therapy with other regimens (e.g., daytime NPPV plus exercise or pulmonary rehabilitation)
studies on heliox with NPPV
studies on pulmonary rehabilitation with NPPV
Outcomes of Interest
mortality/survival
hospitalizations/readmissions
length of stay in hospital
forced expiratory volume
arterial partial pressure of oxygen
arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide
dyspnea
exercise tolerance
health-related quality of life
Note: arterial pressure of oxygen and carbon dioxide are surrogate outcomes.
Statistical Methods
A meta-analysis and an analysis of individual studies were performed using Review Manager Version 5. For continuous data, a mean difference was calculated, and for dichotomous data, a relative risk ratio was calculated for RCTs. For continuous variables with mean baseline and mean follow-up data, a change value was calculated as the difference between the 2 mean values.
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Conclusions
The following conclusions refer to stable, severe COPD patients receiving usual care.
Short-Term Studies
Based on low quality of evidence, there is a beneficial effect of NPPV compared with no ventilation on oxygen gas exchange, carbon dioxide gas exchange, and exercise tolerance measured using the 6 Minute Walking Test.
Based on very low quality of evidence, there is no effect of NPPV therapy on lung function measured as forced expiratory volume in 1 second (Type II error not excluded).
Long-Term Studies
Based on moderate quality of evidence, there is no effect of NPPV therapy for the outcomes of mortality, lung function measured as forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and exercise tolerance measured using the 6 Minute Walking Test.
Based on low quality of evidence, there is no effect of NPPV therapy for the outcomes of oxygen gas exchange and carbon dioxide gas exchange (Type II error not excluded).
Qualitative Assessment
Based on low quality of evidence, there is a beneficial effect of NPPV compared with no ventilation for dyspnea based on reduced Borg score or Medical Research Council dyspnea score.
Based on moderate quality of evidence, there is no effect of NPPV therapy for hospitalizations.
Health-related quality of life could not be evaluated.
PMCID: PMC3384378  PMID: 23074437
11.  Evaluation of primary care midwifery in the Netherlands: design and rationale of a dynamic cohort study (DELIVER) 
Background
In the Netherlands, midwives are autonomous medical practitioners and 78% of pregnant women start their maternity care with a primary care midwife. Scientific research to support evidence-based practice in primary care midwifery in the Netherlands has been sparse. This paper describes the research design and methodology of the multicenter multidisciplinary prospective DELIVER study which is the first large-scale study evaluating the quality and provision of primary midwifery care.
Methods/Design
Between September 2009 and April 2011, data were collected from clients and their partners, midwives and other healthcare professionals across the Netherlands. Clients from twenty midwifery practices received up to three questionnaires to assess the expectations and experiences of clients (e.g. quality of care, prenatal screening, emotions, health, and lifestyle). These client data were linked to data from the Netherlands Perinatal Register and electronic client records kept by midwives. Midwives and practice assistants from the twenty participating practices recorded work-related activities in a diary for one week, to assess workload. Besides, the midwives were asked to complete a questionnaire, to gain insight into collaboration of midwives with other care providers, their tasks and attitude towards their job, and the quality of the care they provide. Another questionnaire was sent to all Dutch midwifery practices which reveals information regarding the organisation of midwifery practices, provision of preconception care, collaboration with other care providers, and provision of care to ethnic minorities. Data at client, midwife and practice level can be linked. Additionally, partners of pregnant women and other care providers were asked about their expectations and experiences regarding the care delivered by midwives and in six practices client consults were videotaped to objectively assess daily practice.
Discussion
In total, 7685 clients completed at least one questionnaire, 136 midwives and assistants completed a diary with work-related activities (response 100%), 99 midwives completed a questionnaire (92%), and 319 practices across the country completed a questionnaire (61%), 30 partners of clients participated in focus groups, 21 other care providers were interviewed and 305 consults at six midwifery practices were videotaped.
The multicenter DELIVER study provides an extensive database with national representative data on the quality of primary care midwifery in the Netherlands. This study will support evidence-based practice in primary care midwifery in the Netherlands and contribute to a better understanding of the maternity care system.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-69
PMCID: PMC3331850  PMID: 22433820
12.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Background
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Conclusions
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498.
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
13.  Reproductive rights and options available to women infected with HIV in Ghana: perspectives of service providers from three Ghanaian health facilities 
BMC Women's Health  2013;13:13.
Background
Owing to improved management of HIV and its associated opportunistic infections, many HIV-positive persons of reproductive age are choosing to exercise their right of parenthood. This study explored the knowledge of health workers from two Ghanaian districts on the reproductive rights and options available to HIV-positive women who wish to conceive.
Methods
Facility-based cross-sectional in design, the study involved the entire population of nurse counselors (32) and medical officers (3) who provide counseling and testing services to clients infected with HIV. Both structured and in-depth interviews were conducted after informed consent.
Results
Two main perspectives were revealed. There was an overwhelmingly high level of approbation by the providers on HIV-positive women’s right to reproduction (94.3%). At the same time, the providers demonstrated a lack of knowledge regarding the various reproductive options available to women infected with HIV. Site of facility, and being younger were associated with practices that violated client’s right to contraceptive counseling (p < 0.05) in each case. Some of the providers openly expressed their inability to give qualified guidance to HIV-positive women on the various reproductive options.
Conclusions
Taken together, these findings suggest that many HIV-positive clients do not receive comprehensive information about their reproductive options. These findings highlight some of the problems that service providers face as HIV counselors. Both service providers and policy makers need to recognize these realities and incorporate reproductive health issues of HIV-persons into the existing guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-13-13
PMCID: PMC3605156  PMID: 23496943
14.  The Relationship between Characteristics of Home Care Nursing Service Contracts under Managed Competition and Continuity of Care and Client Outcomes: Evidence from Ontario 
Healthcare Policy  2007;2(4):97-113.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of the Request for Proposal (RFP) process – specifically, the profit status of provider agencies awarded contracts, the service volume awarded and contract duration – on the quality of home care services and outcomes. A cross-sectional (contract characteristics) and repeated measures (clients) design was used to collect data on the study variables. Primary data were collected in 2002–2003 from 11 Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) and 11 nursing provider agencies in Ontario. The sample included 750 home care clients recruited consecutively from home care referrals. Follow-up assessments were completed on 498 clients. CCACs and provider agencies completed written questionnaires about profit status, contract volume, duration of contract, potential for renewal, number of visits made by a principal nurse and number of visits made by a registered nurse. Data were collected on client health outcomes either at admission to home care service for new clients or at entry to the study for long-term clients, and then at discharge from service or at the end of six weeks, whichever came first, using the eight subscales of the Medical Outcome Study SF-36. Analysis was conducted using hierarchical linear modelling.
For the most part, contract characteristics were not related to the consistency of principal nurse visits or client outcomes. Where differences existed, they were small. Clients of agencies awarded longer contracts received greater consistency in principal nurse visits than clients of agencies awarded shorter contracts. Clients cared for by for-profit agencies reported slightly higher satisfaction with care and better mental health outcomes than clients cared for by not-for-profit agencies. The percentage of visits made by a registered nurse was positively associated with social function outcome for clients at follow-up. In conclusion, the study findings suggest that contract characteristic variables had a small effect on home care client outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2585465  PMID: 19305736
15.  Aboriginal Health Workers experience multilevel barriers to quitting smoking: a qualitative study 
Introduction
Long-term measures to reduce tobacco consumption in Australia have had differential effects in the population. The prevalence of smoking in Aboriginal peoples is currently more than double that of the non-Aboriginal population. Aboriginal Health Workers are responsible for providing primary health care to Aboriginal clients including smoking cessation programs. However, Aboriginal Health Workers are frequently smokers themselves, and their smoking undermines the smoking cessation services they deliver to Aboriginal clients. An understanding of the barriers to quitting smoking experienced by Aboriginal Health Workers is needed to design culturally relevant smoking cessation programs. Once smoking is reduced in Aboriginal Health Workers, they may then be able to support Aboriginal clients to quit smoking.
Methods
We undertook a fundamental qualitative description study underpinned by social ecological theory. The research was participatory, and academic researchers worked in partnership with personnel from the local Aboriginal health council. The barriers Aboriginal Health Workers experience in relation to quitting smoking were explored in 34 semi-structured interviews (with 23 Aboriginal Health Workers and 11 other health staff) and 3 focus groups (n = 17 participants) with key informants. Content analysis was performed on transcribed text and interview notes.
Results
Aboriginal Health Workers spoke of burdensome stress and grief which made them unable to prioritise quitting smoking. They lacked knowledge about quitting and access to culturally relevant quitting resources. Interpersonal obstacles included a social pressure to smoke, social exclusion when quitting, and few role models. In many workplaces, smoking was part of organisational culture and there were challenges to implementation of Smokefree policy. Respondents identified inadequate funding of tobacco programs and a lack of Smokefree public spaces as policy level barriers. The normalisation of smoking in Aboriginal society was an overarching challenge to quitting.
Conclusions
Aboriginal Health Workers experience multilevel barriers to quitting smoking that include personal, social, cultural and environmental factors. Multidimensional smoking cessation programs are needed that reduce the stress and burden for Aboriginal Health Workers; provide access to culturally relevant quitting resources; and address the prevailing normalisation of smoking in the family, workplace and community.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-27
PMCID: PMC3477099  PMID: 22621767
Aboriginal people, Australia; Health care professionals; Tobacco and health; Smoking cessation; Qualitative research
16.  Barriers to Provider-Initiated Testing and Counselling for Children in a High HIV Prevalence Setting: A Mixed Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001649.
Rashida Ferrand and colleagues combine quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate HIV prevalence among older children receiving primary care in Harare, Zimbabwe, and reasons why providers did not pursue testing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
There is a substantial burden of HIV infection among older children in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of whom are diagnosed after presentation with advanced disease. We investigated the provision and uptake of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) among children in primary health care facilities, and explored health care worker (HCW) perspectives on providing HIV testing to children.
Methods and Findings
Children aged 6 to 15 y attending six primary care clinics in Harare, Zimbabwe, were offered PITC, with guardian consent and child assent. The reasons why testing did not occur in eligible children were recorded, and factors associated with HCWs offering and children/guardians refusing HIV testing were investigated using multivariable logistic regression. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with clinic nurses and counsellors to explore these factors. Among 2,831 eligible children, 2,151 (76%) were offered PITC, of whom 1,534 (54.2%) consented to HIV testing. The main reasons HCWs gave for not offering PITC were the perceived unsuitability of the accompanying guardian to provide consent for HIV testing on behalf of the child and lack of availability of staff or HIV testing kits. Children who were asymptomatic, older, or attending with a male or a younger guardian had significantly lower odds of being offered HIV testing. Male guardians were less likely to consent to their child being tested. 82 (5.3%) children tested HIV-positive, with 95% linking to care. Of the 940 guardians who tested with the child, 186 (19.8%) were HIV-positive.
Conclusions
The HIV prevalence among children tested was high, highlighting the need for PITC. For PITC to be successfully implemented, clear legislation about consent and guardianship needs to be developed, and structural issues addressed. HCWs require training on counselling children and guardians, particularly male guardians, who are less likely to engage with health care services. Increased awareness of the risk of HIV infection in asymptomatic older children is needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Over 3 million children globally are estimated to be living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). While HIV infection is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected person, most HIV infections among children are the result of mother-to-child HIV transmission during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Mother-to-child transmission can be prevented by administering antiretroviral therapy to mothers with HIV during pregnancy, delivery, and breast feeding, and to their newborn babies. According to a report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS published in 2012, 92% of pregnant women with HIV were living in sub-Saharan Africa and just under 60% were receiving antiretroviral therapy. Consequently, sub-Saharan Africa is the region where most children infected with HIV live.
Why Was This Study Done?
If an opportunity to prevent mother-to-child transmission around the time of birth is missed, diagnosis of HIV infection in a child or adolescent is likely to depend on HIV testing in health care facilities. Health care provider–initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) for children is important in areas where HIV infection is common because earlier diagnosis allows children to benefit from care that can prevent the development of advanced HIV disease. Even if a child or adolescent appears to be in good health, access to care and antiretroviral therapy provides a health benefit to the individual over the long term. The administration of HIV testing (and counselling) to children relies not only on health care workers (HCWs) offering HIV testing but also on parents or guardians consenting for a child to be tested. However, more than 30% of children in countries with severe HIV epidemics are AIDS orphans, and economic conditions in these countries cause many adults to migrate for work, leaving children under the care of extended families. This study aimed to investigate the reasons for acceptance and rejection of PITC in primary health care settings in Harare, Zimbabwe. By exploring HCW perspectives on providing HIV testing to children and adolescents, the study also sought to gain insight into factors that could be hindering implementation of testing procedures.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified all children aged 6 to 15 years old at six primary care clinics in Harare, who were offered HIV testing as part of routine care between 22 January and 31 May 2013. Study fieldworkers collected data on numbers of child attendances, numbers offered testing, numbers who underwent HIV testing, and reasons why HIV testing did not occur. During the study 2,831 children attending the health clinics were eligible for PITC, and just over half (1,534, 54.2%) underwent HIV testing. Eighty-two children tested HIV-positive, and nearly all of them received counselling, medication, and follow-up care. HCWs offered the test to around 75% of those eligible. The most frequent explanation given by HCWs for a diagnostic test not being offered was that the child was accompanied by a guardian not appropriate for providing consent (401 occasions, 59%); Other reasons given were a lack of available counsellors or test kits and counsellors refusing to conduct the test. The likelihood of being offered the test was lower for children not exhibiting symptoms (such as persistent skin problems), older children, or those attending with a male or a younger guardian. In addition, over 100 guardians or parents provided consent but left before the child could be tested.
The researchers also conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 clinic nurses and counsellors (two from each clinic) to explore challenges to implementation of PITC. The researchers recorded the factors associated with testing not taking place, either when offered to eligible children or when HCWs declined to offer the test. The interviewees identified the frequent absence or unavailability of parents or legal guardians as an obstacle, and showed uncertainty or misconceptions around whether testing of the guardian was mandatory (versus recommended) and whether specifically a parent (if one was living) must provide consent. The interviews also revealed HCW concerns about the availability of adequate counselling and child services, and fears that a child might experience maltreatment if he or she tested positive. HCWs also noted long waiting times and test kits being out of stock as practical hindrances to testing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Prevalence of HIV was high among the children tested, validating the need for PITC in sub-Saharan health care settings. Although 76% of eligible attendees were offered testing, the authors note that this is likely higher than in routine settings because the researchers were actively recording reasons for not offering testing and counselling, which may have encouraged heath care staff to offer PITC more often than usual. The researchers outline strategies that may improve PITC rates and testing acceptance for Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan settings. These strategies include developing clear laws and guidance concerning guardianship and proxy consent when testing older children for HIV, training HCWs around these policies, strengthening legislation to address discrimination, and increasing public awareness about HIV infection in older children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001649.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Davies and Kalk
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS publishes an annual report on the global AIDS epidemic, which provides information on progress towards eliminating new HIV infections
The World Health Organization has more information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The World Health Organization's website also has information about treatment for children living with HIV
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS, including stories from young people infected with HIV, are available through Avert, through NAM/aidsmap, and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001649
PMCID: PMC4035250  PMID: 24866209
17.  Determining the status of non-transferred embryos in Ireland: a conspectus of case law and implications for clinical IVF practice 
The development of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) as a treatment for human infertilty was among the most controversial medical achievements of the modern era. In Ireland, the fate and status of supranumary (non-transferred) embryos derived from IVF brings challenges both for clinical practice and public health policy because there is no judicial or legislative framework in place to address the medical, scientific, or ethical uncertainties. Complex legal issues exist regarding informed consent and ownership of embryos, particularly the use of non-transferred embryos if a couple separates or divorces. But since case law is only beginning to emerge from outside Ireland and because legislation on IVF and human embryo status is entirely absent here, this matter is poised to raise contractual, constitutional and property law issues at the highest level. Our analysis examines this medico-legal challenge in an Irish context, and summarises key decisions on this issue rendered from other jurisdictions. The contractual issues raised by the Roche case regarding informed consent and the implications the initial judgment may have for future disputes over embryos are also discussed. Our research also considers a putative Constitutional 'right to procreate' and the implications EU law may have for an Irish case concerning the fate of frozen embryos. Since current Medical Council guidelines are insufficient to ensure appropriate regulation of the advanced reproductive technologies in Ireland, the report of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction is most likely to influence embryo custody disputes. Public policy requires the establishment and implementation of a more comprehensive legislative framework within which assisted reproductive medical services are offered.
doi:10.1186/1747-5341-4-8
PMCID: PMC2714322  PMID: 19589140
18.  Costs of day hospital and community residential chemical dependency treatment 
Background
Evidence suggests that expensive hospital-based inpatient chemical dependency programs do not deliver outcomes that are superior to less costly day hospital programs, but patient placement criteria developed by the Addiction Society of Medicine (ASAM) nonetheless have identified a need for low-intensity residential treatment for patients with higher levels of severity. Community-based residential programs may represent a low-cost inpatient alternative that satisfies the ASAM criteria, but research is lacking in this area. A recent clinical trial has found similar outcomes at social model residential treatment and clinically-oriented day hospital programs, but did not report on the costs associated with treatment in that study.
Aims
This paper addresses whether the similar outcomes in the recent trial were delivered with comparable costs. It also studies costs separately for men and women, and for Whites and non-Whites, subgroups not included or identified in prior cost effectiveness work.
Method
This paper reports on clients who participated in a randomized trial conducted in three metropolitan areas served by a large pre-paid health plan. Clients were eligible if they met the first five dimensions of the ASAM criteria for low-intensity residential treatment and had not been mandated to residential treatment due to dangerous home environment (the sixth ASAM dimension). The five day hospital programs included here are typical of mainstream private chemical dependency programs that were developed as an alternative to inpatient treatment. The seven residential programs are typical of those historically developed by members of alcohol mutual-help programs. Cost data for the study sites were collected using the Drug Abuse Treatment Cost Analysis Program (DATCAP) which produces estimates of average costs per week per client treated at a particular treatment program. Lengths of stay were derived from program records. Costs per episode for each study subject were calculated by multiplying the DATCAP-based program-specific costs (per week) by the number of weeks the subject stayed in the program to which they had been randomly assigned. Differences in length of stay, and in per-episode costs, were compared between residential and day hospital subjects using the Brown-Forsythe robust test of the equality of means.
Results
Lengths of stay at residential treatment were significantly longer than at day hospital, in the sample overall and in the disaggregated analyses for both genders and for both Whites and non-Whites. This difference was especially marked among non-Whites, who had quite short stays in day hospital. The average cost per week was $575 per week at day hospital, versus $370 per week at the residential programs. However, because of the longer stays in residential programs, this lower cost per week did not always translate to lower per-episode costs. Instead, the per-episode costs were significantly higher for those treated in residential programs than in day hospital in the sample overall, and among non-Whites. Costs were comparable for Whites and for women treated in either setting, but were marginally higher for men randomized to residential programs.
Discussion
These cost results must be considered in light of the null findings comparing outcomes between subjects randomized to residential versus day hospital programs in this study, in the overall sample and by gender and race/ethnicity: That is, the longer stays in the sample overall and for non-White clients at residential programs came at higher costs but did not lead to better rates of abstinence. An important component of the cost differential arose from especially short stays in day hospital among non-Whites, calling into question the attractiveness of day hospital for minority clients.
Conclusion
Outcomes and costs at residential versus day hospital programs were similar for women and for Whites in a randomized trial of pre-paid health plan members who met ASAM criteria for low-intensity residential treatment but were not at environmental risk. For non-Whites, and marginally for men, a preference for residential care would appear to come at a higher cost.
Implications for health care provision and use
Lengths of stay in residential treatment are significantly longer than in day hospital, but costs per week are lower. Women and Whites appear to be equally well-served in residential and day hospital programs, with no significant cost differential. Provision of residential treatment for non-Whites may be more costly than day hospital, because their residential stays are likely to be 3 times longer than they would be if treated in day hospital. For men, residential care will be marginally more costly.
Implications for health policy formulation
Residential treatment appears to represent a cost-effective alternative to day hospital for female and White clients with severe alcohol and drug problems who are not at environmental risk, although it will be important that the current study be replicated with different samples and study programs.
Implications for further research
The much shorter stays in day hospital than at residential among non-Whites highlight the need for research to better understand how to best meet the needs and preferences of non-White clients when considering both costs and outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2744443  PMID: 18424874
19.  Psychosocial workload and stress in the workers’ representative 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:909.
Background
Using a data set of works councils of trade union IG Metal, this paper investigates psychosocial stress and strain on this specific group in comparison to employees working in administration in general (leadership and non-leadership-role) and a national reference value.
Methods
For assessing psychosocial work factors on works councils within the sector represented by the trade union IG Metal in Germany, a research by using the German standard version of COPSOQ (Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire) was performed. The instrument includes 87 single items forming 25 aspects of strain and stress. Results from the study group of works councils were compared to those from employees working in administration and to the general population mean (COPSOQ database). Statistical analysis included t-tests, analysis of variance and multiple comparisons of means. To be significant in terms of statistics, p<0.05 (two-tailed) and a minimum deviation of 5 or more points between groups′ mean values identify the relevant values.
Results
All in all, 309 works councils from a national survey of the German chemical and metalworking industries took part in the study. 113 were full-time works council members (exempted from the duty to perform their regular work), 196 were voluntary members (acting as employee representatives on an honorary basis alongside their normal duties). Comparison between works councils and employees working in administration (leadership roles (N=1810) and non-leadership roles (N=2970)) and for employees in general (N=35.000) showed unfavourable values for works councils for most scales. Significantly higher values indicating higher strain and stress were found for the scales: emotional demands, work-privacy conflict, role conflicts, mobbing, cognitive stress symptoms and burnout. Unfavourable results were obtained for the aspects: quality of leadership, social support, sense of community and general health. Favourable findings were found on the scales: influence at work, quantity of social relations and the partly positive values for quantitative demands and commitment to the workplace.
Conclusion
Compared to the reference groups, works council members perceive the psychosocial demands of working life as more exhausting for the majority of aspects. This allows several conclusions. One reason may be the extended tasks employee representatives face, an other may be that the education of most works council members does not seem appropriate to the high demands of their managerial and executive tasks.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-909
PMCID: PMC3490715  PMID: 23101876
Psychosocial workload; Industrial relations; Human resources; Trade union; Works councils
20.  Forecasting client transitions in British Columbia's Long-Term Care Program. 
Health Services Research  1987;22(5):671-706.
This article presents a model for the annual transitions of clients through various home and facility placements in a long-term care program. The model, an application of Markov chain analysis, is developed, tested, and applied to over 9,000 clients (N = 9,483) in British Columbia's Long Term Care Program (LTC) over the period 1978-1983. Results show that the model gives accurate forecasts of the progress of groups of clients from state to state in the long-term care system from time of admission until eventual death. Statistical methods are used to test the modeling hypothesis that clients' year-over-year transitions occur in constant proportions from state to state within the long-term care system. Tests are carried out by examining actual year-over-year transitions of each year's new admission cohort (1978-1983). Various subsets of the available data are analyzed and, after accounting for clear differences among annual cohorts, the most acceptable model of the actual client transition data occurred when clients were separated into male and female groups, i.e., the transition behavior of each group is describable by a different Markov model. To validate the model, we develop model estimates for the numbers of existing clients in each state of the long-term care system for the period (1981-1983) for which actual data are available. When these estimates are compared with the actual data, total weighted absolute deviations do not exceed 10 percent of actuals. Finally, we use the properties of the Markov chain probability transition matrix and simulation methods to develop three-year forecasts with prediction intervals for the distribution of the existing total clients into each state of the system. The tests, forecasts, and Markov model supplemental information are contained in a mechanized procedure suitable for a microcomputer. The procedure provides a powerful, efficient tool for decision makers planning facilities and services in response to the needs of long-term care clients.
PMCID: PMC1065469  PMID: 3121537
21.  Public attitudes towards the use of primary care patient record data in medical research without consent: a qualitative study 
Journal of Medical Ethics  2004;30(1):104-109.
Objectives: Recent legislative changes within the United Kingdom have stimulated professional debate about access to patient data within research. However, there is currently little awareness of public views about such research. The authors sought to explore attitudes of the public, and their lay representatives, towards the use of primary care medical record data for research when patient consent was not being sought.
Methods: 49 members of the public and four non-medical members of local community health councils in South Wales, UK gave their views on the value and acceptability of three current research scenarios, each describing access to data without patient consent.
Results: Among focus group participants, awareness of research in primary care was low, and the appropriateness of general practitioners as researchers was questioned. There was general support for research but also concerns expressed about data collection without consent. These included lack of respect and patient control over the process. Unauthorised access to data by external agencies was a common fear. Current data collection practices, including population based disease registers elicited much anxiety. The key informants were equally critical of the scenarios and generally less accepting.
Conclusions: This exploratory study has highlighted a number of areas of public concern when medical records are accessed for research without patient consent. Public acceptability regarding the use of medical records in research cannot simply be assumed. Further work is required to determine how widespread such views are and to inform those advising on confidentiality issues.
doi:10.1136/jme.2003.005157
PMCID: PMC1757117  PMID: 14872086
22.  Patients' experiences of the quality of long-term care among the elderly: comparing scores over time 
Background
Every two years, long-term care organizations for the elderly are obliged to evaluate and publish the experiences of residents, representatives of psychogeriatric patients, and/or assisted-living clients with regard to quality of care. Our hypotheses are that publication of this quality information leads to improved performance, and that organizations with substandard performance will improve more than those whose performance is relatively good.
Methods
The analyses included organizational units that measured experiences twice between 2007 (t0) and 2009 (t1). Experiences with quality of care were measured with Consumer Quality Index (CQI) questionnaires. Besides descriptive analyses (i.e. mean, 5th and 95th percentile, and 90% central range) of the 19 CQI indicators and change scores of these indicators were calculated. Differences across five performance groups (ranging from 'worst' to 'best') were tested using an ANOVA test and effect sizes were measured with omega squared (ω2).
Results
At t0 experiences of residents, representatives, and assisted-living clients were positive on all indicators. Nevertheless, most CQI indicators had improved scores (up to 0.37 change score) at t1. Only three indicators showed a minor decline (up to -0.08 change score). Change scores varied between indicators and questionnaires, e.g. they were more profound for the face-to-face interview questionnaire for residents in nursing homes than for the other two mail questionnaires (0.15 vs. 0.05 and 0.04, respectively), possibly due to more variation between nursing homes on the first measurement, perhaps indicating more potential for improvement. A negative relationship was found between prior performance and change, particularly with respect to the experiences of residents (ω2 = 0.16) and assisted-living clients (ω2 = 0.15). However, the relation between prior performance and improvement could also be demonstrated with respect to the experiences reported by representatives of psychogeriatric patients and by assisted-living clients. For representatives of psychogeriatric patients, the performance groups 1 and 2 ([much] below average) improved significantly more than the other three groups (ω2 = 0.05).
Conclusions
Both hypotheses were confirmed: almost all indicator scores improved over time and long-term care organizations for the elderly with substandard performance improved more than those with a performance which was already relatively good.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-26
PMCID: PMC3305532  PMID: 22293109
23.  Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia 
Background and Purpose
This scientific statement provides an overview of the evidence on vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia. Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia of later life are common. Definitions of vascular cognitive impairment (VCI), neuropathology, basic science and pathophysiological aspects, role of neuroimaging and vascular and other associated risk factors, and potential opportunities for prevention and treatment are reviewed. This statement serves as an overall guide for practitioners to gain a better understanding of VCI and dementia, prevention, and treatment.
Methods
Writing group members were nominated by the writing group co-chairs on the basis of their previous work in relevant topic areas and were approved by the American Heart Association Stroke Council Scientific Statement Oversight Committee, the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and the Manuscript Oversight Committee. The writing group used systematic literature reviews (primarily covering publications from 1990 to May 1, 2010), previously published guidelines, personal files, and expert opinion to summarize existing evidence, indicate gaps in current knowledge, and, when appropriate, formulate recommendations using standard American Heart Association criteria. All members of the writing group had the opportunity to comment on the recommendations and approved the final version of this document. After peer review by the American Heart Association, as well as review by the Stroke Council leadership, Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Council, and Scientific Statements Oversight Committee, the statement was approved by the American Heart Association Science Advisory and Coordinating Committee.
Results
The construct of VCI has been introduced to capture the entire spectrum of cognitive disorders associated with all forms of cerebral vascular brain injury—not solely stroke—ranging from mild cognitive impairment through fully developed dementia. Dysfunction of the neurovascular unit and mechanisms regulating cerebral blood flow are likely to be important components of the pathophysiological processes underlying VCI. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy is emerging as an important marker of risk for Alzheimer disease, microinfarction, microhemorrhage and macrohemorrhage of the brain, and VCI. The neuropathology of cognitive impairment in later life is often a mixture of Alzheimer disease and microvascular brain damage, which may overlap and synergize to heighten the risk of cognitive impairment. In this regard, magnetic resonance imaging and other neuroimaging techniques play an important role in the definition and detection of VCI and provide evidence that subcortical forms of VCI with white matter hyperintensities and small deep infarcts are common. In many cases, risk markers for VCI are the same as traditional risk factors for stroke. These risks may include but are not limited to atrial fibrillation, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and hypercholesterolemia. Furthermore, these same vascular risk factors may be risk markers for Alzheimer disease. Carotid intimal-medial thickness and arterial stiffness are emerging as markers of arterial aging and may serve as risk markers for VCI. Currently, no specific treatments for VCI have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, detection and control of the traditional risk factors for stroke and cardiovascular disease may be effective in the prevention of VCI, even in older people.
Conclusions
Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia are important. Understanding of VCI has evolved substantially in recent years, based on preclinical, neuropathologic, neuroimaging, physiological, and epidemiological studies. Transdisciplinary, translational, and transactional approaches are recommended to further our understanding of this entity and to better characterize its neuropsychological profile. There is a need for prospective, quantitative, clinical-pathological-neuroimaging studies to improve knowledge of the pathological basis of neuroimaging change and the complex interplay between vascular and Alzheimer disease pathologies in the evolution of clinical VCI and Alzheimer disease. Long-term vascular risk marker interventional studies beginning as early as midlife may be required to prevent or postpone the onset of VCI and Alzheimer disease. Studies of intensive reduction of vascular risk factors in high-risk groups are another important avenue of research.
doi:10.1161/STR.0b013e3182299496
PMCID: PMC3778669  PMID: 21778438
AHA Scientific Statements; vascular dementia; Alzheimer disease; risk factors; prevention; treatment
24.  Effect of thrombolysis with alteplase within 6 h of acute ischaemic stroke on long-term outcomes (the third International Stroke Trial [IST-3]): 18-month follow-up of a randomised controlled trial 
Lancet Neurology  2013;12(8):768-776.
Summary
Background
Few data are available from randomised trials about the effect of thrombolysis with alteplase on long-term functional outcome in patients who have had acute ischaemic stroke and no trial has reported effects on health-related quality of life. A secondary objective of the third International Stroke Trial (IST-3) was to assess the effect of thrombolysis on such outcomes at 18 months.
Methods
In this open-label, international, multicentre, randomised, controlled trial, 3035 patients with ischaemic stroke from 12 countries were randomly allocated within 6 h of onset via a secure central system to either intravenous alteplase (0·9 mg/kg; n=1515) plus standard care or standard care alone (control; n=1520). 2348 patients were scheduled for 18-month follow-up. For our main analysis, survivors were assessed at 18 months with the Oxford handicap scale (OHS; the primary outcome was the adjusted odds of OHS score 0–2). We also used the EuroQoL (EQ) instrument and asked questions about overall functioning and living circumstances. We analysed the OHS and the five EQ domains by ordinal logistic regression and calculated the mean difference between treatment groups in EQ utility index and visual analogue scale score. Analyses were adjusted for key baseline prognostic factors. This study is registered with controlled-trials.com, number ISRCTN25765518.
Findings
At 18 months, 408 (34·9%) of 1169 patients in the alteplase group versus 414 (35·1%) of 1179 in the control group had died (p=0·85). 391 (35·0%) of 1117 patients versus 352 (31·4%) of 1122 had an OHS score of 0–2 (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1·28, 95% CI 1·03–1·57; p=0·024). Treatment was associated with a favourable shift in the distribution of OHS grades (adjusted common OR 1·30, 95% CI 1·10–1·55; p=0·002). Alteplase treatment was associated with significantly higher overall self-reported health (adjusted mean difference in EQ utility index 0·060; p=0·019). The differences between the groups in visual analogue scale score and the proportion living at home were not significant.
Interpretation
IST-3 provides evidence that thrombolysis with intravenous alteplase for acute ischaemic stroke does not affect survival, but does lead to statistically significant, clinically relevant improvements in functional outcome and health-related quality of life that are sustained for at least 18 months.
Funding
UK Medical Research Council, Health Foundation UK, Stroke Association UK, Research Council of Norway, AFA Insurances Sweden, Swedish Heart Lung Fund, The Foundation of Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg, Polish Ministry of Science and Education, the Australian Heart Foundation, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Swiss National Research Foundation, Swiss Heart Foundation, Assessorato alla Sanita (Regione dell'Umbria, Italy), and Danube University.
doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70130-3
PMCID: PMC3854835  PMID: 23791822
25.  Role, implementation, and effectiveness of advanced allied health assistants: a systematic review 
Background
The purpose of this systematic review was to determine the effectiveness and implementation of advanced allied health assistant roles.
Methods
A systematic search of seven databases and Google Scholar was conducted to identify studies published in English peer-reviewed journals from 2003 to 2013 and reporting on the effectiveness and implementation of advanced allied health assistant (A/AHA) roles. Reference lists were also screened to identify additional studies, and the authors’ personal collections of studies were searched. Studies were allocated to the National Health and Medical Research Council hierarchy of evidence, and appraisal of higher-level studies (III-1 and above) conducted using the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine Systematic Review Critical Appraisal Sheet for included systematic reviews or the PEDro scale for level II and III-1 studies. Data regarding country, A/AHA title, disciplines, competencies, tasks, level of autonomy, clients, training, and issues regarding the implementation of these roles were extracted, as were outcomes used and key findings for studies investigating their effectiveness.
Results
Fifty-three studies were included, and most because they reported background information rather than investigating A/AHA roles, this representing low-level information. A/AHAs work in a range of disciplines, with a variety of client groups, and in a number of different settings. Little was reported regarding the training available for A/AHAs. Four studies investigated the effectiveness of these roles, finding that they were generally well accepted by clients, and provided more therapy time. Issues in integrating these new roles into existing health systems were also reported.
Conclusion
A/AHA roles are being implemented in a range of settings, and appear to be effective in terms of process measures and stakeholder perceptions. Few studies have investigated these roles, indicating a need for research to be conducted in this area to enable policy-makers to consider the value of these positions and how they can best be utilized.
doi:10.2147/JMDH.S50185
PMCID: PMC3855013  PMID: 24324337
allied health; assistant; advanced; systematic review; effectiveness; role

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