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1.  The complexity in the implementation process of empowerment-based chronic kidney care: a case study 
BMC Nursing  2014;13:22.
Background
This study is part of an interactive improvement intervention aimed to facilitate empowerment-based chronic kidney care using data from persons with CKD and their family members. There are many challenges to implementing empowerment-based care, and it is therefore necessary to study the implementation process. The aim of this study was to generate knowledge regarding the implementation process of an improvement intervention of empowerment for those who require chronic kidney care.
Methods
A prospective single qualitative case study was chosen to follow the process of the implementation over a two year period. Twelve health care professionals were selected based on their various role(s) in the implementation of the improvement intervention. Data collection comprised of digitally recorded project group meetings, field notes of the meetings, and individual interviews before and after the improvement project. These multiple data were analyzed using qualitative latent content analysis.
Results
Two facilitator themes emerged: Moving spirit and Encouragement. The healthcare professionals described a willingness to individualize care and to increase their professional development in the field of chronic kidney care. The implementation process was strongly reinforced by both the researchers working interactively with the staff, and the project group. One theme emerged as a barrier: the Limitations of the organization. Changes in the organization hindered the implementation of the intervention throughout the study period, and the lack of interplay in the organization most impeded the process.
Conclusions
The findings indicated the complexity of maintaining a sustainable and lasting implementation over a period of two years. Implementing empowerment-based care was found to be facilitated by the cooperation between all involved healthcare professionals. Furthermore, long-term improvement interventions need strong encouragement from all levels of the organization to maintain engagement, even when it is initiated by the health care professionals themselves.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-13-22
PMCID: PMC4124497  PMID: 25104917
Case study; Empowerment; Healthcare professionals; Implementation process; Improvement intervention; Individualized care; Interactive research; Qualitative research; Quality of care
2.  Barriers to and factors facilitating empowerment in elderly with COPD 
Background: Empowerment of elderly people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can increase their quality of life and feeling of well-being. However, few researches focused on the obstacles and factors facilitating empowerment in elderly people with COPD; and an adequate determining of these factors need an in-depth understanding of the meaning of these factors which influences empowerment. The objective of this study was to explore the barriers to and factors facilitating empowerment in elderly people with COPD.
Methods: This study was conducted with a qualitative approach using content analysis. Twenty- four participants were selected based on purposeful sampling. Data were collected through conducting in-depth semistructured interviews and making filed notes. Data analysis was performed according to the proposed steps by Granhym & Lund man (2004).
Results: The potential to empower the elderly with COPD was influenced by mediating factors; the nature of aging, the difficult nature of COPD, fear and hopelessness, the cultural values and beliefs, poor formal support systems and poor economic status were found to be the barriers; and incentive, trust to health care providers, the educable status of the elderly and increased experience were found to be facilitating factors.
Conclusion: It seems that empowerment of the elderly with COPD was affected by many factors which mainly rooted in social factors, health care systems and personal resources.
PMCID: PMC4322331
Empowerment; COPD; Elderly People; Barriers; Facilitating Factors
3.  Service providers’ perspectives, attitudes and beliefs on health services delivery for Aboriginal people receiving haemodialysis in rural Australia: a qualitative study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(10):e003581.
Objective
Providing services to rural dwelling minority cultural groups with serious chronic disease is challenging due to access to care and cultural differences. This study aimed to describe service providers’ perspectives on health services delivery for Aboriginal people receiving haemodialysis for end-stage kidney disease in rural Australia.
Design
Semistructured interviews, thematic analysis
Setting
A health district in rural New South Wales, Australia
Participants
Using purposive sampling, 29 renal and allied service providers were recruited, including nephrologists, renal nurses, community nurses, Aboriginal health workers, social workers and managers. Six were Aboriginal and 23 non-Aboriginal.
Results
Improving cultural understanding within the healthcare system was central to five themes identified: rigidity of service design (outreach, inevitable home treatment failures, pressure of system overload, limited efficacy of cultural awareness training and conflicting priorities in acute care); responding to social complexities (respecting but challenged by family obligations, assumptions about socioeconomic status and individualised care); promoting empowerment, trust and rapport (bridging gaps in cultural understanding, acknowledging the relationship between land, people and environment, and being time poor); distress at late diagnosis (lost opportunities and prioritise prevention); and contending with discrimination and racism (inherent judgement of lifestyle choices, inadequate cultural awareness, pervasive multilevel institutionalised racism and managing patient distrust).
Conclusions
Service providers believe current services are not designed to address cultural needs and Aboriginality, and that caring for Aboriginal patients receiving haemodialysis should be family focused and culturally safer. An Aboriginal-specific predialysis pathway, building staff cultural awareness and enhancing cultural safety within hospitals are the measures recommended. Increasing patient support for home haemodialysis may improve health and the quality of care outcomes.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003581
PMCID: PMC3808758  PMID: 24157820
QUALITATIVE RESEARCH; NEPHROLOGY
4.  The perspectives of Aboriginal patients and their health care providers on improving the quality of hemodialysis services: A qualitative study 
Chronic kidney disease has a higher prevalence in Indigenous populations globally. The incidence of end-stage kidney disease in Australian Aboriginal people is eight times higher than non-Aboriginal Australians. Providing services to rural and remote Aboriginal people with chronic disease is challenging because of access and cultural differences. This study aims to describe and analyze the perspectives of Aboriginal patients' and health care providers' experience of renal services, to inform service improvement for rural Aboriginal hemodialysis patients. We conducted a thematic analysis of interviews with Aboriginal patients (n = 18) receiving hemodialysis in rural Australia and health care providers involved in their care (n = 29). An overarching theme of avoiding the “costly” crisis encompassed four subthemes: (1) Engaging patients earlier (prevent late diagnosis, slow disease progression); (2) flexible family-focused care (early engagement of family, flexibility to facilitate family and cultural obligations); (3) managing fear of mainstream services (originating in family dialysis experiences and previous racism when engaging with government organizations); (4) service provision shaped by culture (increased home dialysis, Aboriginal support and Aboriginal-led cultural education). Patients and health care providers believe service redesign is required to meet the needs of Aboriginal hemodialysis patients. Participants identified early screening and improving the relationship of Aboriginal people with health systems would reduce crisis entry to hemodialysis. These strategies alongside improving the cultural competence of staff would reduce patients' fear of mainstream services, decrease the current emotional and family costs of care, and increase efficiency of health expenditure on a challenging and increasingly unsustainable treatment system.
doi:10.1111/hdi.12201
PMCID: PMC4309474  PMID: 25056441
Cultural competence; cultural awareness training; early screening; home hemodialysis
5.  Effect of family empowerment model on quality of life in children with chronic kidney diseases 
Background:
Quality of life is a concept, which in recent years is considered as a measure for health in chronic diseases such as kidney diseases. Complications of chronic diseases can affect the quality of life in children and their families over time. Therefore, empowerment programs are necessary to improve their quality of life. This study aimed to investigate the impact of the family empowerment model on the quality of life in children with chronic kidney diseases.
Materials and Methods:
This quasi-experimental study was conducted on 64 children with chronic kidney diseases and their families. The research tools included the questionnaire of demographic characteristics and the quality of life questionnaire 4th edition. After data collection in the first phase, the family empowerment model was implemented in the intervention group and the test was repeated after 1 month. For comparison of data between the two groups and within each group, independent t-test and paired t-test were used, respectively.
Results:
Independent t-test showed that the mean score of quality of life was not significantly different in the two groups before intervention. However, after intervention, the differences were significant. Paired t-test showed a significant difference in the quality of life before and after intervention in the study group.
Conclusions:
The findings showed that family empowerment model was effective in increasing the quality of life of children with chronic kidney diseases. Thus, we suggest this model to be used in inpatient and outpatient children's health care.
PMCID: PMC4145491  PMID: 25183977
Chronic kidney disease; family empowerment; quality of life
6.  A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Utility-Based Quality of Life in Chronic Kidney Disease Treatments 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(9):e1001307.
Melanie Wyld and colleagues examined previously published studies to assess pooled utility-based quality of life of the various treatments for chronic kidney disease. They conclude that the highest utility was for kidney transplants, with home-based automated peritoneal dialysis being second.
Background
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common and costly condition to treat. Economic evaluations of health care often incorporate patient preferences for health outcomes using utilities. The objective of this study was to determine pooled utility-based quality of life (the numerical value attached to the strength of an individual's preference for a specific health outcome) by CKD treatment modality.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression of peer-reviewed published articles and of PhD dissertations published through 1 December 2010 that reported utility-based quality of life (utility) for adults with late-stage CKD. Studies reporting utilities by proxy (e.g., reported by a patient's doctor or family member) were excluded.
In total, 190 studies reporting 326 utilities from over 56,000 patients were analysed. There were 25 utilities from pre-treatment CKD patients, 226 from dialysis patients (haemodialysis, n = 163; peritoneal dialysis, n = 44), 66 from kidney transplant patients, and three from patients treated with non-dialytic conservative care. Using time tradeoff as a referent instrument, kidney transplant recipients had a mean utility of 0.82 (95% CI: 0.74, 0.90). The mean utility was comparable in pre-treatment CKD patients (difference = −0.02; 95% CI: −0.09, 0.04), 0.11 lower in dialysis patients (95% CI: −0.15, −0.08), and 0.2 lower in conservative care patients (95% CI: −0.38, −0.01). Patients treated with automated peritoneal dialysis had a significantly higher mean utility (0.80) than those on continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (0.72; p = 0.02). The mean utility of transplant patients increased over time, from 0.66 in the 1980s to 0.85 in the 2000s, an increase of 0.19 (95% CI: 0.11, 0.26). Utility varied by elicitation instrument, with standard gamble producing the highest estimates, and the SF-6D by Brazier et al., University of Sheffield, producing the lowest estimates. The main limitations of this study were that treatment assignments were not random, that only transplant had longitudinal data available, and that we calculated EuroQol Group EQ-5D scores from SF-36 and SF-12 health survey data, and therefore the algorithms may not reflect EQ-5D scores measured directly.
Conclusions
For patients with late-stage CKD, treatment with dialysis is associated with a significant decrement in quality of life compared to treatment with kidney transplantation. These findings provide evidence-based utility estimates to inform economic evaluations of kidney therapies, useful for policy makers and in individual treatment discussions with CKD patients.
Editors' Summary
Background
Ill health can adversely affect an individual's quality of life, particularly if caused by long-term (chronic) conditions, such as chronic kidney disease—in the United States alone, 23 million people have chronic kidney disease, of whom 570,000 are treated with dialysis or kidney transplantation. In order to measure the cost-effectiveness of interventions to manage medical conditions, health economists use an objective measurement known as quality-adjusted life years. However, although useful, quality-adjusted life years are often criticized for not taking into account the views and preferences of the individuals with the medical conditions. A measurement called a utility solves this problem. Utilities are a numerical value (measured on a 0 to 1 scale, where 0 represents death and 1 represents full health) of the strength of an individual's preference for specified health-related outcomes, as measured by “instruments” (questionnaires) that rate direct comparisons or assess quality of life.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have suggested that, in people with chronic kidney disease, quality of life (as measured by utility) is higher in those with a functioning kidney transplant than in those on dialysis. However, currently, it is unclear whether the type of dialysis affects quality of life: hemodialysis is a highly technical process that directly filters the blood, usually must be done 2–4 times a week, and can only be performed in a health facility; peritoneal dialysis, in which fluids are infused into the abdominal cavity, can be done nightly at home (automated peritoneal dialysis) or throughout the day (continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis). In this study, the researchers reviewed and assimilated all of the available evidence to investigate whether quality of life in people with chronic kidney disease (as measured by utility) differed according to treatment type.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive search of 11 databases to identify all relevant studies that included people with severe (stage 3, 4, or 5) chronic kidney disease, their form of treatment, and information on utilities—either reported directly, or included in quality of life instruments (SF-36), so the researchers could calculate utilities by using a validated algorithm. The researchers also recorded the prevalence rates of diabetes in study participants. Then, using statistical models that adjusted for various factors, including treatment type and the method of measuring utilities, the researchers were able to calculate the pooled utilities of each form of treatment for chronic kidney disease.
The researchers included 190 studies, representing over 56,000 patients and generating 326 utility estimates, in their analysis. The majority of utilities (77%) were derived through the SF-36 questionnaire via calculation. Of the 326 utility estimates, 25 were from patients pre-dialysis, 226 were from dialysis patients (the majority of whom were receiving hemodialysis), 66 were from kidney transplant patients, and three were from conservative care patients. The researchers found that the highest average utility was for those who had renal transplantation, 0.82, followed by the pre-dialysis group (0.80), dialysis patients (0.71), and, finally, patients receiving conservative care (0.62). When comparing the type of dialysis, the researchers found that there was little difference in utility between hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, but patients using automated peritoneal dialysis had, on average, a higher utility (0.80) than those treated with continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (0.72). Finally, the researchers found that patient groups with diabetes had significantly lower utilities than those without diabetes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that in people with chronic kidney disease, renal transplantation is the best treatment option to improve quality of life. For those on dialysis, home-based automated peritoneal dialysis may improve quality of life more than the other forms of dialysis: this finding is important, as this type of dialysis is not as widely used as other forms and is also cheaper than hemodialysis. Furthermore, these findings suggest that patients who choose conservative care have significantly lower quality of life than patients treated with dialysis, a finding that warrants further investigation. Overall, in addition to helping to inform economic evaluations of treatment options, the information from this analysis can help guide clinicians caring for patients with chronic kidney disease in their discussions about possible treatment options.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001307.
Information about chronic kidney disease is available from the National Kidney Foundation and MedlinePlus
Wikipedia gives information on general utilities (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001307
PMCID: PMC3439392  PMID: 22984353
7.  Empowering employees with chronic diseases; development of an intervention aimed at job retention and design of a randomised controlled trial 
Background
Persons with a chronic disease are less often employed than healthy persons. If employed, many of them experience problems at work. Therefore, we developed a training programme aimed at job retention. The objective of this paper is to describe this intervention and to present the design of a study to evaluate its effectiveness.
Development and description of intervention
A systematic review, a needs assessment and discussions with Dutch experts led to a pilot group training, tested in a pilot study. The evaluation resulted in the development of a seven-session group training combined with three individual counselling sessions. The training is based on an empowerment perspective that aims to help individuals enhance knowledge, skills and self-awareness. These advances are deemed necessary for problem solving in three stages: exploration and clarification of work related problems, communication at the workplace, and development and implementation of solutions. Seven themes are discussed and practised in the group sessions: 1) Consequences of a chronic disease in the workplace, 2) Insight into feelings and thoughts about having a chronic disease, 3) Communication in daily work situations, 4) Facilities for disabled employees and work disability legislation, 5) How to stand up for oneself, 6) A plan to solve problems, 7) Follow-up.
Methods
Participants are recruited via occupational health services, patient organisations, employers, and a yearly national conference on chronic diseases. They are eligible when they have a chronic physical medical condition, have a paid job, and experience problems at work. Workers on long-term, 100% sick leave that is expected to continue during the training are excluded. After filling in the baseline questionnaire, the participants are randomised to either the control or the intervention group. The control group will receive no care or care as usual. Post-test mail questionnaires will be sent after 4, 8, 12 and 24 months. Primary outcome measures are job retention, self efficacy, fatigue and work pleasure. Secondary outcome measures are work-related problems, sick leave, quality of life, acquired work accommodations, burnout, and several quality of work measures. A process evaluation will be conducted and satisfaction with the training, its components and the training methods will be assessed.
Discussion
Many employees with a chronic condition experience problems in performing tasks and in managing social relations at work. We developed an innovative intervention that addresses practical as well as psychosocial problems. The results of the study will be relevant for employees, employers, occupational health professionals and human resource professionals (HRM).
Trial registration
ISRCTN77240155
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-224
PMCID: PMC2614990  PMID: 18983652
8.  Patient empowerment: The need to consider it as a measurable patient-reported outcome for chronic conditions 
Background
Health policy in the UK and elsewhere is prioritising patient empowerment and patient evaluations of healthcare. Patient reported outcome measures now take centre-stage in implementing strategies to increase patient empowerment. This article argues for consideration of patient empowerment itself as a directly measurable patient reported outcome for chronic conditions, highlights some issues in adopting this approach, and outlines a research agenda to enable healthcare evaluation on the basis of patient empowerment.
Discussion
Patient empowerment is not a well-defined construct. A range of condition-specific and generic patient empowerment questionnaires have been developed; each captures a different construct e.g. personal control, self-efficacy/self-mastery, and each is informed by a different implicit or explicit theoretical framework. This makes it currently problematic to conduct comparative evaluations of healthcare services on the basis of patient empowerment. A case study (clinical genetics) is used to (1) illustrate that patient empowerment can be a valued healthcare outcome, even if patients do not obtain health status benefits, (2) provide a rationale for conducting work necessary to tighten up the patient empowerment construct (3) provide an exemplar to inform design of interventions to increase patient empowerment in chronic disease. Such initiatives could be evaluated on the basis of measurable changes in patient empowerment, if the construct were properly operationalised as a patient reported outcome measure. To facilitate this, research is needed to develop an appropriate and widely applicable generic theoretical framework of patient empowerment to inform (re)development of a generic measure. This research should include developing consensus between patients, clinicians and policymakers about the content and boundaries of the construct before operationalisation. This article also considers a number of issues for society and for healthcare providers raised by adopting the patient empowerment paradigm.
Summary
Healthcare policy is driving the need to consider patient empowerment as a measurable patient outcome from healthcare services. Research is needed to (1) tighten up the construct (2) develop consensus about what is important to include (3) (re)develop a generic measure of patient empowerment for use in evaluating healthcare (4) understand if/how people make trade-offs between empowerment and gain in health status.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-157
PMCID: PMC3457855  PMID: 22694747
Patient empowerment; Healthcare evaluation; Patient reported outcome measures.
9.  Facilitating Empowerment in Employees with Chronic Disease: Qualitative Analysis of the Process of Change 
Introduction In the field of healthcare, empowering patients who have a chronic disease is defined as increasing their knowledge and skills, in order to enable them to define their treatment goals and take personal responsibility for their medical treatment. Our goal was to explore the nature of empowerment for employees who have a chronic disease and who experience work-related problems. Methods We used an explorative qualitative approach to document, from a professional perspective, the experiences of patients who participated in an empowerment training program. The researcher and the three instructors identified several themes which appeared to be important to many participants. These themes were fine-tuned and illustrated using brief case histories. Results We identified seven themes and characterized them in terms of employee tasks. These included: (1) developing a realistic understanding of one’s abilities, (2) standing up for oneself in a self-confident way, (3) maintaining social relations based on mutual understanding with supervisors and colleagues, (4) collecting and assimilating knowledge of one’s options, rights and duties, (5) consulting others and negotiating with regard to work accommodations, (6) planning one’s job so as to provide personal satisfaction, and (7) maintaining a social life outside work. Not every employee is faced with all of these tasks, but most have to deal with several. Conclusion Empowerment presupposes that employees with a chronic disease can act to solve problems at the workplace. The experiences during a comprehensive empowerment training illustrate that a process of reflection on personal emotions and a cognitive process of exploration and identification of bottlenecks at work may precede these actions. Our primary contribution is the aforementioned list of seven common tasks that many workers have to perform. Disseminating the list can support employees who have a chronic disease and may also be useful for their managers, HRM staff, occupational health and other healthcare workers.
doi:10.1007/s10926-009-9188-x
PMCID: PMC2775116  PMID: 19582552
Job retention; Chronic disease; Rehabilitation, vocational; Disability management; Work disability; Employment; Workplace; Job satisfaction; Occupational health; Return to work
10.  Experiences of Living and Dying With 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 of Analysis
The objective of this analysis was to review empirical qualitative research on the experiences of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), informal caregivers (“carers”), and health care providers—from the point of diagnosis, through daily living and exacerbation episodes, to the end of life.
Clinical Need and Target Population
Qualitative empirical studies (from social sciences, clinical, and related fields) can offer important information about how patients experience their condition. This exploration of the qualitative literature offers insights into patients’ perspectives on COPD, their needs, and how interventions might affect their experiences. The experiences of caregivers are also explored.
Research Question
What do patients with COPD, their informal caregivers (“carers”), and health care providers experience over the course of COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
Literature searches for studies published from January 1, 2000, to November 2010 were performed on November 29, 2010, using OVID MEDLINE; on November 26, 2010, using ISI Web of Science; and on November 28, 2010, using EBSCO Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL). Titles and abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. One additional report, highly relevant to the synthesis, appeared in early 2011 during the drafting of this analysis and was included post hoc.
Inclusion Criteria
English-language full reports
studies published between January 1, 2000, and November 2010
primary qualitative empirical research (using any descriptive or interpretive qualitative methodology, including the qualitative component of mixed-methods studies) and secondary syntheses of primary qualitative empirical research
studies addressing any aspect of the experiences of living or dying with COPD from the perspective of persons at risk, patients, health care providers, or informal carers; studies addressing multiple conditions were included if COPD was addressed explicitly
Exclusion Criteria
studies addressing topics other than the experiences of living or dying with COPD from the perspective of persons at risk, patients, health care providers, or informal carers
studies labelled “qualitative” but not using a qualitative descriptive or interpretive methodology (e.g., case studies, experiments, or observational analysis using qualitative categorical variables)
quantitative research (i.e., using statistical hypothesis testing, using primarily quantitative data or analyses, or expressing results in quantitative or statistical terms)
studies that did not pose an empirical research objective or question, or involve the primary or secondary analysis of empirical data
Outcomes of Interest
qualitative descriptions and interpretations (narrative or theoretical) of personal and social experiences of COPD
Summary of Findings
Experiences at Diagnosis
Patients typically seek initial treatment for an acute episode rather than for chronic early symptoms of COPD.
Many patients initially misunderstand terms such as COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or exacerbation.
Patients may not realize that COPD is incurable and fatal; some physicians themselves do not consider early COPD to be a fatal disease.
Smokers may not readily understand or agree with the idea that smoking caused or worsens their COPD. Those who believe there is a causal link may feel regret or shame.
Experiences of Living Day to Day
COPD patients experience alternating good days and bad days. A roller-coaster pattern of ups and downs becomes apparent, and COPD becomes a way of life.
Patients use many means (social, psychological, medical, organizational) to control what they can, and to cope with what they cannot. Economic hardship, comorbidities, language barriers, and low health literacy can make coping more difficult.
Increasing vulnerability and unpredictable setbacks make patients dependent on others for practical assistance, but functional limitations, institutional living or self-consciousness can isolate patients from the people they need.
For smokers, medical advice to quit can conflict with increased desire to smoke as a coping strategy.
Many of the factors that isolate COPD patients from social contact also isolate them from health care.
Experiences of Exacerbations
Patients may not always attribute repeated exacerbations to advancing disease, instead seeing them as temporary setbacks caused by activities, environmental factors, faltering self-management, or infection.
Lack of confidence in community-based services leads some patients to seek hospital admission, but patients also feel vulnerable when hospitalized. They may feel dependent on others for care or traumatized by hospital care routines.
Upon hospital discharge following an exacerbation, patients may face new levels of uncertainty about their illness, prognosis, care providers, and supports.
Experiences of the End of Life
Patients tend to be poorly informed about the long-term prognosis of COPD and what to expect toward the end of life; this lack of understanding impairs quality of life as the disease progresses.
As the end of life approaches, COPD patients face the usual challenges of daily living, but in a context of increasing exacerbations and deepening dependency. Activities and mobility decrease, and life may become confined.
Some clinicians have difficulty identifying the beginning of “the end of life,” given the unpredictable course of COPD. Long-term physician-patient relationships, familiarity and understanding, trust, good communication skills, sensitivity, and secure discussion settings can help facilitate end-of-life discussions.
Divergent meanings and goals of palliative care in COPD lead to confusion about whether such services are the responsibility of home care, primary care, specialty care, or even critical care. Palliative end-of-life care may not be anticipated prior to referral for such care. A palliative care referral can convey the demoralizing message that providers have “given up.”
Experiences of Carers
Carers’ challenges often echo patients’ challenges, and include anxiety, uncertainty about the future, helplessness, powerlessness, depression, difficulties maintaining employment, loss of mobility and freedoms, strained relationships, and growing social isolation.
Carers feel pressured by their many roles, struggling to maintain patience when they feel overwhelmed, and often feeling guilty about not doing enough.
Carers often face their own health problems and may have difficulty sustaining employment.
Synthesis: A Disease Trajectory Reflecting Patient Experiences
The flux of needs in COPD calls for service continuity and flexibility to allow both health care providers and patients to respond to the unpredictable yet increasing demands of the disease over time.
PMCID: PMC3384365  PMID: 23074423
11.  The African, Caribbean and European (ACE) Pathways to Care study: a qualitative exploration of similarities and differences between African-origin, Caribbean-origin and European-origin groups in pathways to care for psychosis 
BMJ Open  2015;5(1):e006562.
Objectives
This paper reports on a qualitative exploration of the reasons for differences in pathways to care and duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) in the African, Caribbean and European (ACE) Pathways to Care study from the perspective of respondents to the study and their families.
Setting
Ontario, Canada.
Participants
Thirty-four participants in total. Twenty-five young people who had experienced a first episode of psychosis and nine family members. Participants were part of the ACE Pathways to Care study.
Design
We implemented six focus groups. Furthermore, we implemented four in-depth interviews with two African-origin young women, one Caribbean-origin woman, and one European-origin woman with lived experience of psychosis.
Results
Factors that influenced help-seeking delays across the three groups were: personal awareness of symptoms, family members’ knowledge of psychotic symptoms and knowledge of mental health services. Youth and their family members described how stigma played a key role in pathways to care by stopping them from asking for help. The way in which stigma operated on the three groups’ members, from feeling ashamed to feeling guilty for their mental illnesses, helped to explain differences in DUP between the groups. Guilt feelings emerged as a prominent theme among members from the African and Caribbean groups and it was not discussed in the European focus group. Delay in entering into first-episode psychosis programmes was also influenced by the stigma perceived by young people in healthcare settings. This had an impact on the therapeutic relationships, disclosure of symptoms and overall trust in the healthcare system.
Conclusions
The findings of this paper suggest that stigma, especially internalised stigma, may operate in different ways in European-origin, African-origin and Caribbean-origin groups. These findings could inform the development of more equitable services for people in early stages of psychosis.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006562
PMCID: PMC4298103  PMID: 25588783
QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
12.  Empowerment interventions, knowledge translation and exchange: perspectives of home care professionals, clients and caregivers 
Background
Few studies have examined empowerment interventions as they actually unfold in home care in the context of chronic health problems. This study aims to document the empowerment process as it plays out in interventions with adults receiving home care services.
Methods/design
The qualitative design chosen is a fourth generation evaluation combined with case studies. A home care team of a health and social services center situated in the Eastern Townships (Québec, Canada) will be involved at every step in the study. A sample will be formed of 15 health care professionals and 30 of their home care clients and caregiver. Semi-structured interviews, observations of home care interventions and socio-demographic questionnaires will be used to collect the data. Nine instruments used by the team in prior studies will be adapted and reviewed. A personal log will document the observers' perspectives in order to foster objectivity and the focus on the intervention. The in-depth qualitative analysis of the data will illustrate profiles of enabling interventions and individual empowerment.
Discussion
The ongoing process to transform the health care and social services network creates a growing need to examine intervention practices of health care professionals working with clients receiving home care services. This study will provide the opportunity to examine how the intervention process plays out in real-life situations and how health care professionals, clients and caregivers experience it. The intervention process and individual empowerment examined in this study will enhance the growing body of knowledge about empowerment.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-177
PMCID: PMC2528009  PMID: 18713474
13.  User-centered design of a web-based self-management site for individuals with type 2 diabetes – providing a sense of control and community 
Background
To design and test a web-based self-management tool for patients with type 2 diabetes for its usability and feasibility.
Methods
An evidence-based, theory-driven website was created for patients with type 2 diabetes. Twenty-three patients with type 2 diabetes aged ≥ 25 years were recruited from 2 diabetes care centers in Toronto, Canada. We employed focus group methodology to assess acceptability, sustainability, strengths and weaknesses of the self-management website. Based on these results, revisions were made to the website. Three cycles of individual usability testing sessions using cognitive task analysis were conducted with patients with type 2 diabetes. Revisions to the website were made based on results from this testing.
Results
We identified five themes concerning participants’ experiences of health care and related unmet needs: 1) Desire for information and for greater access to timely and personalized care to gain a sense of control of their disease; 2) Desire for community (sharing experiences with others) to fulfill practical and emotional needs; 3) Potential roles of an online self-management website in self-empowerment, behavior change, self-management and health care delivery; 4) Importance of a patient-centered perspective in presenting content (e.g. common assumptions, medical nomenclature, language, messaging, sociocultural context); 5) Barriers and facilitators to use of a self-management website (including perceived relevance of content, incorporation into usual routine, availability for goal-directed use, usability issues).
Conclusions
Participants outlined a series of unmet health care needs, and stated that they wanted timely access to tailored knowledge about their condition, mechanisms to control and track their disease, and opportunities to share experiences with other patients. These findings have implications for patients with type 2 diabetes of diverse ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and disease severity, as well as to the design of other computer-based resources for chronic disease management.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-14-60
PMCID: PMC4222757  PMID: 25056379
Diabetes mellitus; Self-efficacy; Intervention development; User-Computer Interface; Qualitative methods
14.  e-Health, m-Health and healthier social media reform: the big scale view 
Introduction
In the upcoming decade, digital platforms will be the backbone of a strategic revolution in the way medical services are provided, affecting both healthcare providers and patients. Digital-based patient-centered healthcare services allow patients to actively participate in managing their own care, in times of health as well as illness, using personally tailored interactive tools. Such empowerment is expected to increase patients’ willingness to adopt actions and lifestyles that promote health as well as improve follow-up and compliance with treatment in cases of chronic illness. Clalit Health Services (CHS) is the largest HMO in Israel and second largest world-wide. Through its 14 hospitals, 1300 primary and specialized clinics, and 650 pharmacies, CHS provides comprehensive medical care to the majority of Israel’s population (above 4 million members). CHS e-Health wing focuses on deepening patient involvement in managing health, through personalized digital interactive tools. Currently, CHS e-Health wing provides e-health services for 1.56 million unique patients monthly with 2.4 million interactions every month (August 2011). Successful implementation of e-Health solutions is not a sum of technology, innovation and health; rather it’s the expertise of tailoring knowledge and leadership capabilities in multidisciplinary areas: clinical, ethical, psychological, legal, comprehension of patient and medical team engagement etc. The Google Health case excellently demonstrates this point. On the other hand, our success with CHS is a demonstration that e-Health can be enrolled effectively and fast with huge benefits for both patients and medical teams, and with a robust business model.
CHS e-Health core components
They include:
1. The personal health record layer (what the patient can see) presents patients with their own medical history as well as the medical history of their preadult children, including diagnoses, allergies, vaccinations, laboratory results with interpretations in layman’s terms, medications with clear, straightforward explanations regarding dosing instructions, important side effects, contraindications, such as lactation etc., and other important medical information. All personal e-Health services require identification and authorization.
2. The personal knowledge layer (what the patient should know) presents patients with personally tailored recommendations for preventative medicine and health promotion. For example, diabetic patients are push notified regarding their yearly eye exam. The various health recommendations include: occult blood testing, mammography, lipid profile etc. Each recommendation contains textual, visual and interactive content components in order to promote engagement and motivate the patient to actually change his health behaviour.
3. The personal health services layer (what the patient can do) enables patients to schedule clinic visits, order chronic prescriptions, e-consult their physician via secured e-mail, set SMS medication reminders, e-consult a pharmacist regarding personal medications. Consultants’ answers are sent securely to the patients’ personal mobile device.
On December 2009 CHS launched secured, web based, synchronous medical consultation via video conference. Currently 11,780 e-visits are performed monthly (May 2011). The medical encounter includes e-prescription and referral capabilities which are biometrically signed by the physician. On December 2010 CHS launched a unique mobile health platform, which is one of the most comprehensive personal m-Health applications world-wide. An essential advantage of mobile devices is their potential to bridge the digital divide. Currently, CHS m-Health platform is used by more than 45,000 unique users, with 75,000 laboratory results views/month, 1100 m-consultations/month and 9000 physician visit scheduling/month.
4. The Bio-Sensing layer (what physiological data the patient can populate) includes diagnostic means that allow remote physical examination, bio-sensors that broadcast various physiological measurements, and smart homecare devices, such as e-Pill boxes that gives seniors, patients and their caregivers the ability to stay at home and live life to its fullest. Monitored data is automatically transmitted to the patient’s Personal Health Record and to relevant medical personnel.
The monitoring layer is embedded in the chronic disease management platform, and in the interactive health promotion and wellness platform. It includes tailoring of consumer-oriented medical devices and service provided by various professional personnel—physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians and more.
5. The Social layer (what the patient can share). Social media networks triggered an essential change at the humanity ‘genome’ level, yet to be further defined in the upcoming years. Social media has huge potential in promoting health as it combines fun, simple yet extraordinary user experience, and bio-social-feedback. There are two major challenges in leveraging health care through social networks:
a. Our personal health information is the cornerstone for personalizing healthier lifestyle, disease management and preventative medicine. We naturally see our personal health data as a super-private territory. So, how do we bring the power of our private health information, currently locked within our Personal Health Record, into social media networks without offending basic privacy issues?
b. Disease management and preventive medicine are currently neither considered ‘cool’ nor ‘fun’ or ‘potentially highly viral’ activities; yet, health is a major issue of everybody’s life. It seems like we are missing a crucial element with a huge potential in health behavioural change—the Fun Theory. Social media platforms comprehends user experience tools that potentially could break current misconception, and engage people in the daily task of taking better care of themselves.
CHS e-Health innovation team characterized several break-through applications in this unexplored territory within social media networks, fusing personal health and social media platforms without offending privacy. One of the most crucial issues regarding adoption of e-health and m-health platforms is change management. Being a ‘hot’ innovative ‘gadget’ is far from sufficient for changing health behaviours at the individual and population levels.
CHS health behaviour change management methodology includes 4 core elements:
1. Engaging two completely different populations: patients, and medical teams. e-Health applications must present true added value for both medical teams and patients, engaging them through understanding and assimilating “what’s really in it for me”. Medical teams are further subdivided into physicians, nurses, pharmacists and administrative personnel—each with their own driving incentive. Resistance to change is an obstacle in many fields but it is particularly true in the conservative health industry. To successfully manage a large scale persuasive process, we treat intra-organizational human resources as “Change Agents”. Harnessing the persuasive power of ~40,000 employees requires engaging them as the primary target group. Successful recruitment has the potential of converting each patient-medical team interaction into an exposure opportunity to the new era of participatory medicine via e-health and m-health channels.
2. Implementation waves: every group of digital health products that are released at the same time are seen as one project. Each implementation wave leverages the focus of the organization and target populations to a defined time span. There are three major and three minor implementation waves a year.
3. Change-Support Arrow: a structured infrastructure for every implementation wave. The sub-stages in this strategy include:
Cross organizational mapping and identification of early adopters and stakeholders relevant to the implementation wave
Mapping positive or negative perceptions and designing specific marketing approaches for the distinct target groups
Intra and extra organizational marketing
Conducting intensive training and presentation sessions for groups of implementers
Running conflict-prevention activities, such as advanced tackling of potential union resistance
Training change-agents with resistance-management behavioural techniques, focused intervention for specific incidents and for key opinion leaders
Extensive presence in the clinics during the launch period, etc.
The entire process is monitored and managed continuously by a review team.
4. Closing Phase: each wave is analyzed and a “lessons-learned” session concludes the changes required in the modus operandi of the e-health project team.
PMCID: PMC3571141
e-Health; mobile health; personal health record; online visit; patient empowerment; knowledge prescription
15.  Making the post-MDG global health goals relevant for highly inequitable societies: findings from a consultation with marginalized populations in Guatemala 
Introduction
The United Nations presented a set of Millennium Development Goals that aimed to improve social and economic development and eradicate poverty by 2015. Most low and middle-income countries will not meet these goals and today there is a need to set new development agenda, especially when it comes to health. The paper presents the findings from a community consultation process carried out within the Goals and Governance for Global Health (GO4Health) research consortium in Guatemala, which aims to identify community needs and expectations around public policies and health services.
Methods
Through a participative and open consultation process with experts, civil society organizations and members of the research team, the municipalities of Tectitan and Santa Maria Nebaj were selected. A community consultation process was undertaken with community members and community leaders. Group discussions and in-depth interviews were conducted and later analyzed using thematic analysis, a qualitative method that can be used to analyze data in a way that allows for the identification of recurrent patterns that can be grouped into categories and themes, was used.
Findings
Following the Go4Health framework’s domains for understanding health-related needs, the five themes identified were health, social determinants of health, essential health needs and their provision, roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders and community participation in decision-making. Participants reported high levels of discrimination related to ethnicity, to being poor and to living in rural areas. Ethnicity played a major role in how community members feel they are cared for in the health system.
Conclusion
Achieving health goals in a context of deep-rooted inequality and marginalization requires going beyond the simple expansion of health services and working with developing trusting relationships between health service providers and community members. Involving community members in decision-making processes that shape policies will contribute to a larger process of community empowerment and democratization. Still, findings from the region show that tackling these issues may prove complicated and require going beyond the health system, as this lack of trust and discrimination has permeated to all public policies that deal with indigenous and rural populations.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-13-57
PMCID: PMC4283118  PMID: 25301549
Guatemala; Community participation; Community consultations; Go4Health; Millennium development goals; Sustainable development goals
16.  A model for empowerment of nursing in Iran 
Background
While the Iranian nursing profession tries to reach to its full capacity for participating in the maintenance of public health, its desire to develop is strongly influenced by cultural, economic, and religious factors. The concept of empowerment is frequently used in nursing and the health services, particularly in relation to the quality of care, since the mission of nursing is to provide safe and quality nursing care thereby enabling patients to achieve their maximum level of wellness. When considering the importance of nursing services in any health system, the 54th World Health Assembly recommended that programs be designed to strengthen and promote the nursing profession. Since empowerment is crucial to the role of nurses, a qualitative study was conducted and aimed at designing a model for empowering nurses in Iran.
Methods
A grounded theory approach was used for analyzing the participants' experiences, their perceptions and the strategies affecting empowerment. Data collection was done through Semi-structured interviews and participant observation. Forty-four participants were interviewed and 12 sessions of observation were carried out.
Results
Three main categories emerged from the data collected; these are "personal empowerment", "collective empowerment", and "the culture and structure of the organization." From the participants' perspective, empowerment is a dynamic process that results from mutual interaction between personal and collective traits of nurses as well as the culture and the structure of the organization. Impediments, such as power dynamics within the health care system hinder nurses from demonstrating that they possess the essential ingredients of empowerment.
Conclusion
A model was designed for empowering the nursing profession in Iran. Implementing this model will not only define nursing roles, identify territories in the national healthcare system, but it will restructure nursing systems, sub-systems, and services. Currently no such model exists; therefore, restructuring of the nursing system, including its services, education and research subsystems is recommended.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-5-24
PMCID: PMC1079834  PMID: 15769297
17.  The meaning and validation of social support networks for close family of persons with advanced cancer 
BMC Nursing  2012;11:17.
Background
To strengthen the mental well-being of close family of persons newly diagnosed as having cancer, it is necessary to acquire a greater understanding of their experiences of social support networks, so as to better assess what resources are available to them from such networks and what professional measures are required. The main aim of the present study was to explore the meaning of these networks for close family of adult persons in the early stage of treatment for advanced lung or gastrointestinal cancer. An additional aim was to validate the study’s empirical findings by means of the Finfgeld-Connett conceptual model for social support. The intention was to investigate whether these findings were in accordance with previous research in nursing.
Methods
Seventeen family members with a relative who 8–14 weeks earlier had been diagnosed as having lung or gastrointestinal cancer were interviewed. The data were subjected to qualitative latent content analysis and validated by means of identifying antecedents and critical attributes.
Results
The meaning or main attribute of the social support network was expressed by the theme Confirmation through togetherness, based on six subthemes covering emotional and, to a lesser extent, instrumental support. Confirmation through togetherness derived principally from information, understanding, encouragement, involvement and spiritual community. Three subthemes were identified as the antecedents to social support: Need of support, Desire for a deeper relationship with relatives, Network to turn to. Social support involves reciprocal exchange of verbal and non-verbal information provided mainly by lay persons.
Conclusions
The study provides knowledge of the antecedents and attributes of social support networks, particularly from the perspective of close family of adult persons with advanced lung or gastrointestinal cancer. There is a need for measurement instruments that could encourage nurses and other health-care professionals to focus on family members’ personal networks as a way to strengthen their mental health. There is also a need for further clarification of the meaning of social support versus caring during the whole illness trajectory of cancer from the family members’ perspective.
doi:10.1186/1472-6955-11-17
PMCID: PMC3488574  PMID: 22978508
Family members; Cancer; Social support; Social network; Confirmation; Latent content analysis; Walker and Avant concept analysis
18.  Orphans of the HIV epidemic: the challenges from toddlerhood to adolescence and beyond 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19483.
This presentation focuses on the challenges and practical issues faced each day by orphans of the HIV epidemic and the holistic care that can be provided, as they continue to grow from toddlerhood to adolescence and beyond. An HIV Research Trust Scholarship enabled me to spend quality time in a sub-Saharan African province worst hit by the HIV epidemic and to interact with local experts and learn from mutual clinical experience. It was an immensely useful exercise as the clinical spectra of the diseases are very similar to ours and they have ongoing active research programs very relevant to our setting. India is arguably home to the largest number of orphans of the HIV epidemic. The responsibility of caring for orphaned children overwhelms and pushes many extended families beyond their ability to cope. Many countries are experiencing large increases in the number of families headed by women and grandparents, or even young children. These households are often unable to meet basic needs, and so the number of children living on the streets is rising. Orphaned children are disadvantaged in many devastating ways. In addition to the trauma of witnessing the sickness and death of one or both parents and perhaps siblings, they lack the necessary parental guidance through crucial life-stages of identity formation and transition into adulthood. They are more likely to suffer damage to their cognitive and emotional development and be subjected to; exploitation in terms of labour, social exclusion, extreme economic uncertainty, physical and sexual abuse, illiteracy, malnutrition and illness. Education remains a distant dream. With stigma and discrimination, they lack legal protection, lose inheritance rights, access to essential services available to other community members and professional help from doctors, teachers and lawyers. The implications for these unfortunate children are extraordinarily grave but governments, international agencies, non-governmental organizations, schools, other community groups and individuals can still alter the course of the crisis. The Committed Communities Development Trust (CCDT) is a voluntary secular Trust, reaching out to 300,000 people annually, focusing intensively on children affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, mainly orphans, child headed families, children living in street situations, brothels, institutions and children at risk of drug addiction, abuse and exploitation in Mumbai. We run several comprehensive HIV/AIDS programmes addressing issues of prevention, care, support, education, awareness, empowerment, training and research through strongly structured home-based care programs, community based programs and temporary residential shelters. The CCDT recognizes and understands the daunting challenges these children face and helps them overcome these as a team by providing comprehensive care and support, giving them an opportunity in life and enabling them to become productive citizens of tomorrow.
doi:10.7448/IAS.17.4.19483
PMCID: PMC4224857  PMID: 25393992
19.  A qualitative investigation of the roles and perspectives of older patients with advanced cancer and their family caregivers in managing pain in the home 
BMC Palliative Care  2014;13:39.
Background
Pain in advanced cancer is complex and multifaceted. In older patients comorbidities and age-related functional decline add to the difficulties in managing cancer pain. The current emphasis on care in the community, and preference by patients with life-limiting disease to receive care in the home, has meant that patients and their family caregivers have become increasingly responsible for the day-to-day management of cancer pain. An appreciation of patients’ and caregivers’ roles and perspectives managing pain is, therefore, fundamental to addressing cancer pain in this setting. Consequently, we sought to explore and describe their perspectives and roles.
Methods
A qualitative descriptive approach was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of patient- family caregiver dyads. Participants included 18 patients aged 65 years and over, with advanced cancer, receiving palliative care at home, and 15 family caregivers. The interview data were analysed using thematic analyses. Strategies were used to establish rigour.
Results
Two main themes were identified. The first theme, "Communicating the pain", represented pain assessment and incorporated four subthemes in which participants described: their roles in pain assessment, the identification and expression of pain, and the communication of pain between patients and caregivers. The second theme, "Finding a solution", comprised of four subthemes that reflected participants’ roles and approaches in controlling pain; as well as their beliefs about cancer pain control, experience with side effects, and perspectives on the goals of treatment.
Conclusions
The findings support other studies in identifying knowledge and attitudinal barriers to pain control; while adding to the literature by highlighting practical and relational barriers faced by older patients and their family caregivers. Health care professionals can do much to address the barriers identified by: correcting misconceptions regarding cancer pain, facilitating the communication of pain within dyads, and ensuring that patients and family caregivers have the knowledge, skills, and ability to assess and implement pain treatment strategies. This support needs to be individually tailored to meet the ongoing needs of both members of the dyad so that the shared goals of pain management are accomplished.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-13-39
PMCID: PMC4137110  PMID: 25140119
Cancer; Pain; Palliative care; Family caregivers; Aging
20.  When expressions make impressions—Nurses’ narratives about meeting severely ill patients in home nursing care: A phenomenological-hermeneutic approach to understanding 
Registered nurses (RNs) working in homecare encounter severely ill and palliative patients whose expressions may cause ethical challenges and influence their daily work. The aim of this qualitative study was to illuminate and interpret the meaning of nurses’ lived experiences when meeting these patients. Narrative interviews were conducted with 10 RNs working in home nursing care. These interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim to a text and interpreted by a phenomenological-hermeneutic method inspired by Ricoeur. The meaning of the RNs’ lived experience of patients’ expressions was formulated into four themes. The first theme, Being open for the presence of the Other, includes two subthemes: “Sensing vulnerability” and “Empathizing with.” The second theme, Being satisfied, entails the subthemes, “Feeling exceptional” and “Being trusted.” The third theme, Being frustrated, contains the subthemes, “Being disappointed” and “Being angry.” The fourth and final theme, Being ambivalent, includes one subtheme: “Being generous or reserved.” Patients’ expressions that make impressions on nurses create emotional waves. Expressions leave impressions that call upon the nurse, and confront her with taking the risk of letting intuition and pre-reflexive feelings gain entry to her care. Allowing for the Other's presence is seen as a precondition, which means facing humanity and sensing a vulnerability in herself as well as in the Other. Understanding and balancing this emotional dimension in care seems to cause confusion and distress within the nurses. Realizing how their feelings may lead to either generosity or aloofness towards the patient is upsetting. Our interpretation suggests that these impressions echo confusion according to the role of being a professional nurse. There is a need to pay more attention to how the emotional dimension in care is understood and impacts the way nurses perform their professional role.
doi:10.3402/qhw.v8i0.21880
PMCID: PMC3800125  PMID: 24138930
Nurse–patient interactions; emotional dimension; touch; home nursing care; palliative care; professional identity; phenomenological-hermeneutic approach
21.  Explaining Adherence Success in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Ethnographic Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1000011.
Background
Individuals living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa generally take more than 90% of prescribed doses of antiretroviral therapy (ART). This number exceeds the levels of adherence observed in North America and dispels early scale-up concerns that adherence would be inadequate in settings of extreme poverty. This paper offers an explanation and theoretical model of ART adherence success based on the results of an ethnographic study in three sub-Saharan African countries.
Methods and Findings
Determinants of ART adherence for HIV-infected persons in sub-Saharan Africa were examined with ethnographic research methods. 414 in-person interviews were carried out with 252 persons taking ART, their treatment partners, and health care professionals at HIV treatment sites in Jos, Nigeria; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Mbarara, Uganda. 136 field observations of clinic activities were also conducted. Data were examined using category construction and interpretive approaches to analysis. Findings indicate that individuals taking ART routinely overcome economic obstacles to ART adherence through a number of deliberate strategies aimed at prioritizing adherence: borrowing and “begging” transport funds, making “impossible choices” to allocate resources in favor of treatment, and “doing without.” Prioritization of adherence is accomplished through resources and help made available by treatment partners, other family members and friends, and health care providers. Helpers expect adherence and make their expectations known, creating a responsibility on the part of patients to adhere. Patients adhere to promote good will on the part of helpers, thereby ensuring help will be available when future needs arise.
Conclusion
Adherence success in sub-Saharan Africa can be explained as a means of fulfilling social responsibilities and thus preserving social capital in essential relationships.
Using ethnographic data from Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, Norma Ware and colleagues examine why levels of adherence to HIV/AIDS drugs are so much higher in sub-Saharan Africa than in North America.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic has killed more than 25 million people since 1981, and about 30 million people (22 million in sub-Saharan Africa alone) are currently infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. HIV destroys immune system cells, leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-infected individuals died within ten years but in 1996, combination antiretroviral therapy (ART)—a mixture of powerful drugs—was developed. For HIV-infected people living in affluent, developed countries, HIV/AIDS became a chronic disease, but for the millions of infected people living in low- and middle-income countries, HIV/AIDS remained a death sentence—ART was simply too expensive. In 2003, this situation was declared a global health emergency. Today, through the concerted efforts of governments, international organizations, and funding bodies, nearly one-third of the people in developing and transitional countries who are in immediate need of life-saving ART receive free, reliable supplies of the drugs they need.
Why Was This Study Done?
For ART to work, it must be taken regularly. If drug doses are missed, the virus can rebound and resistance to ART is more likely to develop. In poor countries, even though free antiretroviral drugs are increasingly available, many obstacles to good adherence to ART remain. These include economic obstacles (for example, the cost of traveling to clinics and the loss of earning associated with clinic attendance), and social, cultural, and behavioral barriers. Some patients fear disclosure, for example. Others receive conflicting messages about the benefits of ART. However, despite worries that the scale-up of ART provision in developing countries would be dogged by inadequate adherence, people living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa generally take more than 90% of their prescribed doses of ART, a better level of adherence than in North America. In this study, the researchers investigate why ART adherence is so high in sub-Saharan Africa by analyzing qualitative data from an ethnographic study done in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda. Qualitative data are often used to address “how” and “why” research questions: ethnography is a comprehensive qualitative approach to describing and explaining human behavior and culture.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their study, the researchers interviewed 158 patients, 45 treatment partners (lay-people who help HIV-positive people keep to their treatment), and 49 health care workers. Patients were asked about their experiences of ART and about the help they received from their treatment partners; partners were asked about the type of help they gave and about their feelings about this help; health care workers were asked to describe a typical clinic visit and to indicate how adherence was discussed. From these interviews and observations of clinic sessions, the researchers identified several strategies used by patients and their treatment partners to overcome economic obstacles to ART adherence. These included borrowing and “begging” funds to pay for travel to clinics and making “impossible choices” to prioritize adherence, and “doing without.” The researchers' analysis also indicates that the prioritization of adherence to ART reflects the importance of relationships as a resource for managing economic hardship. So, for example, they found that treatment partners and health care workers expected patients to adhere to ART (which, by improving patients' health, improves their ability to support themselves and their families) and made their expectations known, thereby creating a responsibility among patients to adhere. Patients, in turn, adhered to their treatment to promote good will from their helpers and thus ensure their continuing help.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings offer a possible explanation of adherence success in sub-Saharan Africa. The high level of adherence to ART can be explained as a means of fulfilling social responsibilities. Adherence, the researchers suggest, not only improves personal health (the main driver for ART adherence in resource-rich environments) but also preserves “social capital” in essential relationships. In other words, in sub-Saharan Africa, adherence to treatment may protect the relationships that individuals living in extreme poverty rely on to help them survive.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000011.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Agnes Binagwaho and Niloo Ratnayake
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including an article about to antiretroviral therapy
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS in Africa (including detailed information on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria and Uganda) and on providing AIDS drug treatment for millions
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to HIV treatment (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on global efforts to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000011
PMCID: PMC2631046  PMID: 19175285
22.  Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Using an Ontario Policy Model 
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.
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic inflammation throughout the airways, parenchyma, and pulmonary vasculature. The inflammation causes repeated cycles of injury and repair in the airway wall— inflammatory cells release a variety of chemicals and lead to cellular damage. The inflammation process also contributes to the loss of elastic recoil pressure in the lung, thereby reducing the driving pressure for expiratory flow through narrowed and poorly supported airways, in which airflow resistance is significantly increased. Expiratory flow limitation is the pathophysiological hallmark of COPD.
Exacerbations of COPD contribute considerably to morbidity and mortality, and impose a burden on the health care system. They are a leading cause of emergency room visits and hospitalizations, particularly in the winter. In Canada, the reported average cost for treating a moderate exacerbation is $641; for a major exacerbation, the cost is $10,086.
Objective
The objective of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of the following interventions in moderate to very severe COPD, investigated in the Medical Advisory Secretariat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis Series:
smoking cessation programs in moderate COPD in an outpatient setting:
– intensive counselling (IC) versus usual care (UC)
– nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) versus UC
– IC + NRT versus placebo
– bupropion versus placebo
multidisciplinary care (MDC) teams versus UC in moderate to severe COPD in an outpatient setting
pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) versus UC following acute exacerbations in moderate to severe COPD
long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) versus UC in severe hypoxemia in COPD in an outpatient setting
ventilation:
– noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) + usual medical care versus usual medical care in acute respiratory failure due to an acute exacerbation in severe COPD in an inpatient setting
– weaning with NPPV versus weaning with invasive mechanical ventilation in acute respiratory failure due to an acute exacerbation in very severe COPD in an inpatient setting
Methods
A cost-utility analysis was conducted using a Markov probabilistic model. The model consists of different health states based on the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease COPD severity classification. Patients were assigned different costs and utilities depending on their severity health state during each model cycle. In addition to moving between health states, patients were at risk of acute exacerbations of COPD in each model cycle. During each cycle, patients could have no acute exacerbation, a minor acute exacerbation, or a major exacerbation. For the purposes of the model, a major exacerbation was defined as one that required hospitalization. Patients were assigned different costs and utilities in each model cycle, depending on whether they experienced an exacerbation, and its severity.
Starting cohorts reflected the various patient populations from the trials analyzed. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs)—that is, costs per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY)—were estimated for each intervention using clinical parameters and summary estimates of relative risks of (re)hospitalization, as well as mortality and abstinence rates, from the COPD mega-analysis evidence-based analyses.
A budget impact analysis was also conducted to project incremental costs already being incurred or resources already in use in Ontario. Using provincial data, medical literature, and expert opinion, health system impacts were calculated for the strategies investigated.
All costs are reported in Canadian dollars.
Results
All smoking cessation programs were dominant (i.e., less expensive and more effective overall). Assuming a base case cost of $1,041 and $1,527 per patient for MDC and PR, the ICER was calculated to be $14,123 per QALY and $17,938 per QALY, respectively. When the costs of MDC and PR were varied in a 1-way sensitivity analysis to reflect variation in resource utilization reported in the literature, the ICER increased to $55,322 per QALY and $56,270 per QALY, respectively. Assuming a base case cost of $2,261 per year per patient for LTOT as reported by data from the Ontario provincial program, the ICER was calculated to be $38,993 per QALY. Ventilation strategies were dominant (i.e., cheaper and more effective), as reflected by the clinical evidence of significant in-hospital days avoided in the study group.
Ontario currently pays for IC through physician billing (translating to a current burden of $8 million) and bupropion through the Ontario Drug Benefit program (translating to a current burden of almost $2 million). The burden of NRT was projected to be $10 million, with future expenditures of up to $1 million in Years 1 to 3 for incident cases.
Ontario currently pays for some chronic disease management programs. Based on the most recent Family Health Team data, the costs of MDC programs to manage COPD were estimated at $85 million in fiscal year 2010, with projected future expenditures of up to $51 million for incident cases, assuming the base case cost of the program. However, this estimate does not accurately reflect the current costs to the province because of lack of report by Family Health Teams, lack of capture of programs outside this model of care by any data set in the province, and because the resource utilization and frequency of visits/follow-up phone calls were based on the findings in the literature rather than the actual Family Health Team COPD management programs in place in Ontario. Therefore, MDC resources being utilized in the province are unknown and difficult to measure.
Data on COPD-related hospitalizations were pulled from Ontario administrative data sets and based on consultation with experts. Half of hospitalized patients will access PR resources at least once, and half of these will repeat the therapy, translating to a potential burden of $17 million to $32 million, depending on the cost of the program. These resources are currently being absorbed, but since utilization is not being captured by any data set in the province, it is difficult to quantify and estimate. Provincial programs may be under-resourced, and patients may not be accessing these services effectively.
Data from the LTOT provincial program (based on fiscal year 2006 information) suggested that the burden was $65 million, with potential expenditures of up to $0.2 million in Years 1 to 3 for incident cases.
From the clinical evidence on ventilation (i.e., reduction in length of stay in hospital), there were potential cost savings to the hospitals of $42 million and $12 million for NPPV and weaning with NPPV, respectively, if the study intervention were adopted. Future cost savings were projected to be up to $4 million and $1 million, respectively, for incident cases.
Conclusions
Currently, costs for most of these interventions are being absorbed by provider services, the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, the Assistive Devices Program, and the hospital global budget. The most cost-effective intervention for COPD will depend on decision-makers’ willingness to pay. Lack of provincial data sets capturing resource utilization for the various interventions poses a challenge for estimating current burden and future expenditures.
PMCID: PMC3384363  PMID: 23074422
23.  Activating chronic kidney disease patients and family members through the Internet to promote integration of care 
Abstract
Purpose
To describe the potential role of the Internet as a vehicle for improving integration of care through activating chronic kidney disease patients and their family members. Also, to describe how that potential is being developed through a website sponsored by the Medicare program in the United States.
Background
The Internet is expanding at a rapid rate, and health-related websites are one of its most popular features. Efforts to promote integration of care have focused mainly on providers up to now, and more emphasis is needed on the potential roles of patients. Chronically ill patients have particular needs for improved education about their conditions and enhanced involvement in care planning and treatment decisions. Medicare developed the Dialysis Facility Compare website to serve those goals for people with chronic kidney disease.
Methods
We conducted qualitative research with 140 chronic kidney disease patients and family members, and 130 renal care professionals to evaluate and improve the Dialysis Facility Compare website. A series of 19 focus groups, 13 triads (small focus groups), and 56 individual interviews were conducted in four regions of the United States and by telephone.
Results
We found that the Dialysis Facility Compare website has the potential to improve integration of care for people with chronic kidney disease in at least three ways. First: by expanding the roles of patients as members of the multi-disciplinary team of caregivers treating their disease. Second: through better integration of the informal care provided in the home and community with the formal care provided by health professionals. Third: by improving coordination of between care provided in the pre-dialysis and dialysis phases of the disease.
Discussion
We developed recommendations for revising and enhancing the Dialysis Facility Compare website in a number of ways to better promote patient activation and integration of care. The unique features of the Internet, such as its different dimensions of interactivity, and applications of behavioural theories for website design should also be further explored.
PMCID: PMC1393278  PMID: 16773153
integrated care; client perspective; chronic care; the internet; disease management; chronic kidney disease
24.  Risk Models to Predict Chronic Kidney Disease and Its Progression: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):e1001344.
A systematic review of risk prediction models conducted by Justin Echouffo-Tcheugui and Andre Kengne examines the evidence base for prediction of chronic kidney disease risk and its progression, and suitability of such models for clinical use.
Background
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common, and associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and end-stage renal disease, which are potentially preventable through early identification and treatment of individuals at risk. Although risk factors for occurrence and progression of CKD have been identified, their utility for CKD risk stratification through prediction models remains unclear. We critically assessed risk models to predict CKD and its progression, and evaluated their suitability for clinical use.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched MEDLINE and Embase (1 January 1980 to 20 June 2012). Dual review was conducted to identify studies that reported on the development, validation, or impact assessment of a model constructed to predict the occurrence/presence of CKD or progression to advanced stages. Data were extracted on study characteristics, risk predictors, discrimination, calibration, and reclassification performance of models, as well as validation and impact analyses. We included 26 publications reporting on 30 CKD occurrence prediction risk scores and 17 CKD progression prediction risk scores. The vast majority of CKD risk models had acceptable-to-good discriminatory performance (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve>0.70) in the derivation sample. Calibration was less commonly assessed, but overall was found to be acceptable. Only eight CKD occurrence and five CKD progression risk models have been externally validated, displaying modest-to-acceptable discrimination. Whether novel biomarkers of CKD (circulatory or genetic) can improve prediction largely remains unclear, and impact studies of CKD prediction models have not yet been conducted. Limitations of risk models include the lack of ethnic diversity in derivation samples, and the scarcity of validation studies. The review is limited by the lack of an agreed-on system for rating prediction models, and the difficulty of assessing publication bias.
Conclusions
The development and clinical application of renal risk scores is in its infancy; however, the discriminatory performance of existing tools is acceptable. The effect of using these models in practice is still to be explored.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Chronic kidney disease (CKD)—the gradual loss of kidney function—is increasingly common worldwide. In the US, for example, about 26 million adults have CKD, and millions more are at risk of developing the condition. Throughout life, small structures called nephrons inside the kidneys filter waste products and excess water from the blood to make urine. If the nephrons stop working because of injury or disease, the rate of blood filtration decreases, and dangerous amounts of waste products such as creatinine build up in the blood. Symptoms of CKD, which rarely occur until the disease is very advanced, include tiredness, swollen feet and ankles, puffiness around the eyes, and frequent urination, especially at night. There is no cure for CKD, but progression of the disease can be slowed by controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which cause CKD, and by adopting a healthy lifestyle. The same interventions also reduce the chances of CKD developing in the first place.
Why Was This Study Done?
CKD is associated with an increased risk of end-stage renal disease, which is treated with dialysis or by kidney transplantation (renal replacement therapies), and of cardiovascular disease. These life-threatening complications are potentially preventable through early identification and treatment of CKD, but most people present with advanced disease. Early identification would be particularly useful in developing countries, where renal replacement therapies are not readily available and resources for treating cardiovascular problems are limited. One way to identify people at risk of a disease is to use a “risk model.” Risk models are constructed by testing the ability of different combinations of risk factors that are associated with a specific disease to identify those individuals in a “derivation sample” who have the disease. The model is then validated on an independent group of people. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers critically assess the ability of existing CKD risk models to predict the occurrence of CKD and its progression, and evaluate their suitability for clinical use.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 26 publications reporting on 30 risk models for CKD occurrence and 17 risk models for CKD progression that met their predefined criteria. The risk factors most commonly included in these models were age, sex, body mass index, diabetes status, systolic blood pressure, serum creatinine, protein in the urine, and serum albumin or total protein. Nearly all the models had acceptable-to-good discriminatory performance (a measure of how well a model separates people who have a disease from people who do not have the disease) in the derivation sample. Not all the models had been calibrated (assessed for whether the average predicted risk within a group matched the proportion that actually developed the disease), but in those that had been assessed calibration was good. Only eight CKD occurrence and five CKD progression risk models had been externally validated; discrimination in the validation samples was modest-to-acceptable. Finally, very few studies had assessed whether adding extra variables to CKD risk models (for example, genetic markers) improved prediction, and none had assessed the impact of adopting CKD risk models on the clinical care and outcomes of patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the development and clinical application of CKD risk models is still in its infancy. Specifically, these findings indicate that the existing models need to be better calibrated and need to be externally validated in different populations (most of the models were tested only in predominantly white populations) before they are incorporated into guidelines. The impact of their use on clinical outcomes also needs to be assessed before their widespread use is recommended. Such research is worthwhile, however, because of the potential public health and clinical applications of well-designed risk models for CKD. Such models could be used to identify segments of the population that would benefit most from screening for CKD, for example. Moreover, risk communication to patients could motivate them to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to adhere to prescribed medications, and the use of models for predicting CKD progression could help clinicians tailor disease-modifying therapies to individual patient needs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001344.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Maarten Taal
The US National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse provides information about all aspects of kidney disease; the US National Kidney Disease Education Program provides resources to help improve the understanding, detection, and management of kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients on chronic kidney disease, including some personal stories
The US National Kidney Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, provides information about chronic kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
The not-for-profit UK National Kidney Federation support and information for patients with kidney disease and for their carers, including a selection of patient experiences of kidney disease
World Kidney Day, a joint initiative between the International Society of Nephrology and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations, aims to raise awareness about kidneys and kidney disease
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001344
PMCID: PMC3502517  PMID: 23185136
25.  Web Search Behavior and Information Needs of People With Multiple Sclerosis: Focus Group Study and Analysis of Online Postings 
Background
Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients and their family members increasingly seek health information on the Internet. There has been little exploration of how MS patients integrate health information with their needs, preferences, and values for decision making. The INtegrating and Deriving Evidence, Experiences, and Preferences (IN-DEEP) project is a collaboration between Italian and Australian researchers and MS patients, aimed to make high-quality evidence accessible and meaningful to MS patients and families, developing a Web-based resource of evidence-based information starting from their information needs.
Objective
The objective of this study was to analyze MS patients and their family members’ experience about the Web-based health information, to evaluate how they asses this information, and how they integrate health information with personal values.
Methods
We organized 6 focus groups, 3 with MS patients and 3 with family members, in the Northern, Central, and Southern parts of Italy (April-June 2011). They included 40 MS patients aged between 18 and 60, diagnosed as having MS at least 3 months earlier, and 20 family members aged 18 and over, being relatives of a person with at least a 3-months MS diagnosis. The focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim (Atlas software, V 6.0). Data were analyzed from a conceptual point of view through a coding system. An online forum was hosted by the Italian MS society on its Web platform to widen the collection of information. Nine questions were posted covering searching behavior, use of Web-based information, truthfulness of Web information. At the end, posts were downloaded and transcribed.
Results
Information needs covered a comprehensive communication of diagnosis, prognosis, and adverse events of treatments, MS causes or risk factors, new drugs, practical, and lifestyle-related information. The Internet is considered useful by MS patients, however, at the beginning or in a later stage of the disease a refusal to actively search for information could occur. Participants used to search on the Web before or after their neurologist’s visit or when a new therapy was proposed. Social networks are widely used to read others’ stories and retrieve information about daily management. A critical issue was the difficulty of recognizing reliable information on the Web. Many sources were used but the neurologist was mostly the final source of treatment decisions.
Conclusions
MS patients used the Internet as a tool to integrate information about the illness. Information needs covered a wide spectrum, the searched topics changed with progression of the disease. Criteria for evaluating Internet accuracy and credibility of information were often lacking or generic. This may limit the empowerment of patients in health care choices.
doi:10.2196/ijmr.3034
PMCID: PMC4150054  PMID: 25093374
multiple sclerosis; evidence-based information; information needs; Web search behavior; Internet; patients’ involvement

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