Quarantine for SARS during the 2003 Taiwan outbreak expedited case detection, thereby indirectly preventing infections.
During the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Taiwan, >150,000 persons were quarantined, 24 of whom were later found to have laboratory-confirmed SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection. Since no evidence exists that SARS-CoV is infective before the onset of symptoms and the quarantined persons were exposed but not symptomatic, we thought the quarantine's effectiveness should be investigated. Using the Taiwan quarantine data, we found that the onset-to-diagnosis time of previously quarantined confirmed case-patients was significantly shortened compared to that for those who had not been quarantined. Thus, quarantine for SARS in Taiwan screened potentially infective persons for swift diagnosis and hospitalization after onset, thereby indirectly reducing infections. Full-scale quarantine measures implemented on April 28 led to a significant improvement in onset-to-diagnosis time of all SARS patients, regardless of previous quarantine status. We discuss the temporal effects of quarantine measures and other interventions on detection and isolation as well as the potential usefulness of quarantine in faster identification of persons with SARS and in improving isolation measures.
SARS; emerging infectious disease; quarantine; intervention; Taiwan; research
Taiwan experienced a series of outbreaks of nosocomial severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) infections in 2003. Two months after the final outbreak, we recruited 658 employees from the hospital that suffered the first and most severe SARS infections to help us investigate epidemiological and genetic factors associated with the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS-CoV infections were detected by using enzyme immunoassays and confirmed by a combination of Western blot assays, neutralizing antibody tests, and commercial SARS tests. Risk factors were analyzed via questionnaire responses and sequence-specific oligonucleotide probes of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles. Our results indicate that 3% (20/658) of the study participants were seropositive, with one female nurse identified as a subclinical case. Identified SARS-CoV infection risk factors include working in the same building as the hospital's emergency room and infection ward, providing direct care to SARS patients, and carrying a Cw*0801 HLA allele. The odds ratio for contracting a SARS-CoV infection among persons with either a homozygous or a heterozygous Cw*0801 genotype was 4.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.5 to 12.9; P = 0.007).
We studied the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Taiwan, using the daily case-reporting data from May 5 to June 4 to learn how it had spread so rapidly. Our results indicate that most SARS-infected persons had symptoms and were admitted before their infections were reclassified as probable cases. This finding could indicate efficient admission, slow reclassification process, or both. The high percentage of nosocomial infections in Taiwan suggests that infection from hospitalized patients with suspected, but not yet classified, cases is a major factor in the spread of disease. Delays in reclassification also contributed to the problem. Because accurate diagnostic testing for SARS is currently lacking, intervention measures aimed at more efficient diagnosis, isolation of suspected SARS patients, and reclassification procedures could greatly reduce the number of infections in future outbreaks.
severe acute respiratory syndrome; SARS-CoV; infectious diseases; epidemiology; Taiwan; nosocomial infections; quarantine and isolation; prevention and control; theoretical model; effective reproductive number
When an emerging infectious disease like severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) strikes suddenly, many wonder the public's overwhelming fears of SARS may deterred patients from seeking routine care from hospitals and/or interrupt patient's continuity of care. In this study, we sought to estimate the influence of pregnant women's fears of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on their choice of provider, mode of childbirth, and length of stay (LOS) for the delivery during and after the SARS epidemic in Taiwan.
The National Health Insurance data from January 01, 2002 to December 31, 2003 were used. A population-based descriptive analysis was conducted to assess the changes in volume, market share, cesarean rate, and average LOS for each of the 4 provider levels, before, during and after the SARS epidemic.
Compared to the pre-SARS period, medical centers and regional hospitals dropped 5.2% and 4.1% in market share for childbirth services during the peak SARS period, while district hospitals and clinics increased 2.1% and 7.1%, respectively. For changes in cesarean rates, only a significantly larger increase was observed in medical centers (2.2%) during the peak SARS period. In terms of LOS, significant reductions in average LOS were observed in all hospital levels except for clinics. Average LOS was shortened by 0.21 days in medical centers (5.6%), 0.21 days in regional hospitals (5.8%), and 0.13 days in district hospitals (3.8%).
The large amount of patients shifting from the maternity wards of more advanced hospitals to those of less advanced hospitals, coupled with the substantial reduction in their length of maternity stay due to their fears of SARS could also lead to serious concerns for quality of care, especially regarding a patient's accessibility to quality providers and continuity of care.
Thirty-one cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) occurred after exposure in the emergency room at the National Taiwan University Hospital. The index patient was linked to an outbreak at a nearby municipal hospital. Three clusters were identified over a 3-week period. The first cluster (5 patients) and the second cluster (14 patients) occurred among patients, family members, and nursing aids. The third cluster (12 patients) occurred exclusively among healthcare workers. Six healthcare workers had close contact with SARS patients. Six others, with different working patterns, indicated that they did not have contact with a SARS patient. Environmental surveys found 9 of 119 samples of inanimate objects to be positive for SARS coronavirus RNA. These observations indicate that although transmission by direct contact with known SARS patients was responsible for most cases, environmental contamination with the SARS coronavirus may have lead to infection among healthcare workers without documented contact with known hospitalized SARS patients.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome; healthcare workers; environmental contamination; real-time reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction
Study objective: To estimate the impact of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in early 2003 on a tertiary care hospital in Taiwan, ROC.
Methods: The study estimated the utilisation of resources related to infection control, SARS related medical services, and routine medical services, and SARS related medical outcomes at National Cheng Kung University Hospital (NCKUH) from 25 March to 16 June 2003 through a cross sectional survey of hospital records.
Results: A mean of 5100 persons per day (95%CI 4580 to 5610) underwent fever screening at the outpatient and emergency department (ED) entrances to the hospital, of which 35 per day (95% CI 30 to 40) were referred for further evaluation for suspected or probable SARS. ED isolation surge capacity was created via 12 new beds outside the ED: eight for SARS assessment, three for patients awaiting inhospital bed assignment, and one for resuscitation. A total of 382 patients were fully evaluated for suspected or probable SARS outside the ED, of which 27 were admitted. The mean numbers of outpatient clinic patient visits, ED visits, ED trauma patient visits, ED admissions, hospital admissions, and operative procedures decreased during the outbreak. Thirty eight patients were hospitalised with suspected SARS, of which three received the final diagnosis of probable SARS. Two patients with probable SARS died. No cases of nosocomial SARS transmission occurred.
Conclusions: This SARS outbreak was associated with substantial use of hospital and ED resources aimed at infection control, comparatively less use of resources related to the medical care of patients with suspected or probable SARS, and decreased use of routine medical services.
There is considerable discussion surrounding whether advanced hospitals provide better childbirth care than local community hospitals. This study examines the effect of shifting childbirth services from advanced hospitals (i.e., medical centers and regional hospitals) to local community hospitals (i.e., clinics and district hospitals). The sample population was tracked over a seven-year period, which includes the four months of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic in Taiwan. During the SARS epidemic, pregnant women avoided using maternity services in advanced hospitals. Concerns have been raised about maintaining the quality of maternity care with increased demands on childbirth services in local community hospitals. In this study, we analyzed the impact of shifting maternity services among hospitals of different levels on neonatal mortality and maternal deaths.
A population-based study was conducted using data from Taiwan's National Health Insurance annual statistics of monthly county neonatal morality rates. Based on a pre-SARS sample from January 1998 to December 2002, we estimated a linear regression model which included "trend," a continuous variable representing the effect of yearly changes, and two binary variables, "month" and "county," controlling for seasonal and county-specific effects. With the estimated coefficients, we obtained predicted neonatal mortality rates for each county-month. We compared the differences between observed mortality rates of the SARS period and predicted rates to examine whether the shifting in maternity services during the SARS epidemic significantly affected neonatal mortality rates.
With an analysis of a total of 1,848 observations between 1998 and 2004, an insignificantly negative mean of standardized predicted errors during the SARS period was found. The result of a sub-sample containing areas with advanced hospitals showed a significant negative mean of standardized predicted errors during the SARS period. These findings indicate that despite increased use of local community hospitals, neonatal mortality during the SARS epidemic did not increase, and even decreased in areas with advanced hospitals.
An increased use of maternity services in local community hospitals occurred during the SARS epidemic in Taiwan. However, we observed no increase in neonatal and maternity mortality associated with these increased demands on local community hospitals.
The epidemic of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has swept through the globe with more than 8000 reported probable cases. In Hong Kong, the hardest hit areas included our teaching hospital and the Amoy Gardens apartment complex. A novel coronavirus, SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV), with a single-stranded plus sense RNA genome, was promptly implicated as the causative agent and subsequently fulfilled Koch's postulates. To aid the understanding of SARS-CoV, groups of investigators rapidly sequenced viral isolates around the world. We were the third group in the world to release the complete SARS-CoV genome sequence (isolate CUHK-W1) on the world-wide web. With other isolates from patients of distinct epidemiological backgrounds, we additionally sequenced four complete (CUHK-Su10, CUHK-AG01, CUHK-AG02, CUHK-AG03) and two partial SARS-CoV genomes. The reviewed data obtained from representative patients from the hospital and community outbreaks has documented the evolution of the virus in this epidemic. Their sequence variations also revealed a remarkable epidemiological correlation. We demonstrate that sequence variations in the SARS-CoV genome can be applied as a powerful molecular tool in tracing the route of transmission, when used adjunctively with standard epidemiology.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic threw the world into turmoil during the first half of 2003. Many subsequent papers have addressed its impact on health service utilization, but few have considered palliative (hospice) care. The aim of the present study was to describe changes in hospice inpatient utilization during and after the SARS epidemic in 2003 in Taiwan.
The data sources were the complete datasets of inpatient admissions during 2002 and 2003 from the National Health Insurance Research Database. Before-and-after comparisons of daily and monthly utilizations were made. Hospice analyses were limited to those wards that offered inpatient services throughout these two years. The comparisons were extended to total hospital bed utilization and to patients who were still admitted to hospice wards during the peak period of the SARS epidemic.
Only 15 hospice wards operated throughout the whole of 2002 and 2003. In 2003, hospice utilization began to decrease in the middle of April, reached a minimum on 25 May, and gradually recovered to the level of the previous November. Hospices showed a more marked reduction in utilization than all hospital beds (e.g. -52.5% vs. -19.9% in May 2003) and a slower recovery with a three-month lag. In total, 566 patients were admitted to hospice wards in May/June 2003, in contrast to 818 in May/June 2002. Gender, age and diagnosis distributions did not differ.
Hospice inpatient utilization in Taiwan was indeed more sensitive to the emerging epidemic than general inpatient utilization. A well-balanced network with seamless continuity of care should be ensured.
To establish a predictive scoring system and to determine its effectiveness for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) cases confirmed by RT‐PCR in patients with fever.
A study was conducted of 484 consecutive patients seen in the emergency department (ED) of our tertiary care center during the SARS outbreak in Taiwan. The scoring system was divided into triage and screening station stages. Data were analysed with multivariable and logistic regression analysis.
Of 737 patients who presented to our ED for possible SARS from March to June 2003, we enrolled 484 patients with a temperature >38.0°C (>100.3°F) (age >18 years). Dyspnoea, diarrhoea, travel, close contact, hospital exposure, and household history were identified as predictive indicators in the triage stage. The triage score was the total of six items. With a one‐point cutoff value, the sensitivity and specificity were 81.8% (18/22) and 73.6% (340/462). Leukocytosis, thrombocytopenia, lymphopenia, and CXR were identified as predictive indicators in the fever screening stage. Screening station scores (the sum of 10 items) consisted of triage scores, white blood cell count, and CXR. With a three‐point cutoff value, the sensitivity and specificity were 95.5% (21/22) and 87.2% (403/462).
Syndromic and traditional surveillance play a role in early identification of SARS in an endemic area. The SARS scoring system described is easily applicable and highly effective in screening patients during outbreaks.
SARS; RT‐PCR; scoring system; fever; triage
Hepatic angiosarcoma (HAS) is a rare type of liver cancer that is often fatal, and arsenic and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) are two major causal agents. Whereas Taiwan is an endemic area of liver cancer, epidemiologic data on HAS are limited. We reviewed the cases observed at a teaching hospital to evaluate the roles of VCM, arsenic, and viral hepatitis in the occurrence of HAS.
We reviewed the medical records of patients with pathological proof of HAS from January 2000 to August 2010 at a teaching hospital which is adjacent to the major VCM processing area in Taiwan and nearby an endemic area of arsenic exposure from drinking water. We also conducted a literature review and included all patients of HAS reported in Taiwan.
Six male and three female cases aged from 56 to 83 years (64.6 ± 8.2 years) were identified at the hospital. The differences in clinical features between men and women were not statistically significant. None of them had exposure to VCM or arsenic in drinking water. Two had evidence of hepatitis C infection, but none had evidence of hepatitis B infection. Five male and four female cases aged 30 to 82 years (58.6 ± 15.5 years) were identified in the literature, including two with arsenic exposure and one with chronic hepatitis B infection.
HAS is rare in Taiwan, and we found no evidence supporting a major role of VCM, arsenic in drinking water, or viral hepatitis in its occurrence.
hepatic angiosracoma; vinyl chloride; arsenic; viral hepatitis
The use of tocolytic hospitalization in antenatal care is controversial and worthy of more research. We investigated individual, institutional, and area factors that affect the use of tocolytic hospitalizations in Taiwan where fertility has rapidly declined.
Longitudinal data from the 1996 to 2004 National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan were used to identify tocolytic hospitalizations. The probit model was used to estimate factors associated with tocolytic hospitalizations.
The decline in fertility was significantly associated with the probability of tocolytic hospitalizations. Several physician and institutional factors-including physician's age, hospital ownership, accreditation status, bed size, and teaching status-were also significantly correlated to the dependent variables.
The provision of inpatient tocolysis is influenced not only by clinical considerations but also by physician, institutional, and area factors unrelated to clinical need. Fertility declines in Taiwan may have led obstetricians/gynecologists to provide more tocolysis to make up for their lost income. If the explanation is further validated, reimbursement policies may need to be reviewed to correct for overuse of inpatient tocolysis. The correlation could also be explained by the increasing use of artificial reproductive technologies and higher social value of newborns. In addition, the physician and institutional variations observed in the study indicate potential misuse of inpatient tocolysis that warrant further investigation.
Limited data describe the sustained impact of hand hygiene programs (HHPs) implemented in teaching hospitals, where the burden of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is high. We use a quasi-experimental, before and after, study design with prospective hospital-wide surveillance of HAIs to assess the cost effectiveness of HHPs.
Methods and Findings
A 4-year hospital-wide HHP, with particular emphasis on using an alcohol-based hand rub, was implemented in April 2004 at a 2,200-bed teaching hospital in Taiwan. Compliance was measured by direct observation and the use of hand rub products. Poisson regression analyses were employed to evaluate the densities and trends of HAIs during the preintervention (January 1999 to March 2004) and intervention (April 2004 to December 2007) periods. The economic impact was estimated based on a case-control study in Taiwan. We observed 8,420 opportunities for hand hygiene during the study period. Compliance improved from 43.3% in April 2004 to 95.6% in 2007 (p<.001), and was closely correlated with increased consumption of the alcohol-based hand rub (r = 0.9399). The disease severity score (Charlson comorbidity index) increased (p = .002) during the intervention period. Nevertheless, we observed an 8.9% decrease in HAIs and a decline in the occurrence of bloodstream, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, extensively drug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii, and intensive care unit infections. The intervention had no discernable impact on HAI rates in the hematology/oncology wards. The net benefit of the HHP was US$5,289,364, and the benefit-cost ratio was 23.7 with a 3% discount rate.
Implementation of a HHP reduces preventable HAIs and is cost effective.
The purpose of this study is to establish teaching hospital accreditation standards anew with the hope that Taiwan's teaching hospitals can live up to the expectations of our society and ensure quality teaching.
The development process lasted two years, 2005-2006, and was separated into three stages. The first stage centered on leadership meetings and consensus building, the second on drafting the new standards with expert focus groups, and the third on a pilot study and subsequent revision.
Our new teaching hospital accreditation standards have six categories and 95 standards as follows: educational resources (20 items), teaching and training plans and outcomes (42 items), research and results (9 items), development of clinical faculty and continuing education (8 items), academic exchanges and community education (8 items), and administration (8 items).
The new standards have proven feasible and posed reasonable challenges in the pilot study. We hope the new standards will strengthen teaching and research, and improve the quality of hospital services at the same time.
Clinical and laboratory data on severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), particularly on the temporal progression of abnormal laboratory findings, are limited. We conducted a prospective study on the clinical, radiologic, and hematologic findings of SARS patients with pneumonia, who were admitted to National Taiwan University Hospital from March 8 to June 15, 2003. Fever was the most frequent initial symptom, followed by cough, myalgia, dyspnea, and diarrhea. Twenty-four patients had various underlying diseases. Most patients had elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels and lymphopenia. Other common abnormal laboratory findings included leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and elevated levels of aminotransferase, lactate dehydrogenase, and creatine kinase. These clinical and laboratory findings were exacerbated in most patients during the second week of disease. The overall case-fatality rate was 19.7%. By multivariate analysis, underlying disease and initial CRP level were predictive of death.
severe acute respiratory syndrome; C-reactive protein; intravenous immunoglobulin
Most traditional Chinese herbal formulas consist of at least four herbs. Four-Agents-Decoction (Si Wu Tang) is a documented eight hundred year old formula containing four herbs and has been widely used to relieve menstrual discomfort in Taiwan. However, no specific effect had been systematically evaluated. We applied Western methodology to assess its effectiveness and safety for primary dysmenorrhoea and to evaluate the compliance and feasibility for a future trial.
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot clinical trial was conducted in an ad hoc clinic setting at a teaching hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. Seventy-eight primary dysmenorrheic young women were enrolled after 326 women with self-reported menstrual discomfort in the Taipei metropolitan area of Taiwan were screened by a questionnaire and subsequently diagnosed by two gynaecologists concurrently with pelvic ultrasonography. A dosage of 15 odorless capsules daily for five days starting from the onset of bleeding or pain was administered. Participants were followed with two to four cycles for an initial washout interval, one to two baseline cycles, three to four treatment cycles, and three follow-up cycles. Study outcome was pain intensity measured by using unmarked horizontal visual analog pain scale in an online daily diary submitted directly by the participants for 5 days starting from the onset of bleeding or pain of each menstrual cycle. Overall-pain was the average pain intensity among days in pain and peak-pain was the maximal single-day pain intensity. At the end of treatment, both the overall-pain and peak-pain decreased in the Four-Agents-Decoction (Si Wu Tang) group and increased in the placebo group; however, the differences between the two groups were not statistically significant. The trends persisted to follow-up phase. Statistically significant differences in both peak-pain and overall-pain appeared in the first follow-up cycle, at which the reduced peak-pain in the Four-Agents-Decoction (Si Wu Tang) group did not differ significantly by treatment length. However, the reduced peak-pain did differ profoundly among women treated for four menstrual cycles (2.69 (2.06) cm, mean (standard deviation), for the 20 women with Four-Agents-Decoction and 4.68 (3.16) for the 22 women with placebo, p = .020.) There was no difference in adverse symptoms between the Four-Agents-Decoction (Si Wu Tang) and placebo groups.
Four-Agents-Decoction (Si Wu Tang) therapy in this pilot post-market clinical trial, while meeting the standards of conventional medicine, showed no statistically significant difference in reducing menstrual pain intensity of primary dysmenorrhoea at the end of treatment. Its use, with our dosage regimen and treatment length, was not associated with adverse reactions. The finding of statistically significant pain-reducing effect in the first follow-up cycle was unexpected and warrants further study. A larger similar trial among primary dysmenorrheic young women with longer treatment phase and multiple batched study products can determine the definitive efficacy of this historically documented formula.
The healthcare setting was important in the early spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in both Toronto and Taiwan. Healthcare workers, patients, and visitors were at increased risk for infection. Nonetheless, the ability of individual SARS patients to transmit disease was quite variable. Unrecognized SARS case-patients were a primary source of transmission and early detection and intervention were important to limit spread. Strict adherence to infection control precautions was essential in containing outbreaks. In addition, grouping patients into cohorts and limiting access to SARS patients minimized exposure opportunities. Given the difficulty in implementing several of these measures, controls were frequently adapted to the acuity of SARS care and level of transmission within facilities. Although these conclusions are based only on a retrospective analysis of events, applying the experiences of Toronto and Taiwan to SARS preparedness planning efforts will likely minimize future transmission within healthcare facilities.
severe acute respiratory syndrome; infection control; delivery of healthcare
To explore the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on a medical training program and to develop principles for professional training programs to consider in dealing with future, similar crises.
Qualitative interviews analyzed using grounded theory methodology.
University-affiliated hospitals in Toronto, Canada during the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Medical house staff who were allocated to a general internal medicine clinical teaching unit, infectious diseases consultation service, or intensive care unit.
Seventeen medical residents participated in this study. Participants described their experiences during the outbreak and highlighted several themes including concerns about their personal safety and about the negative impact of the outbreak on patient care, house staff education, and their emotional well-being.
The ability of residents to cope with the stress of the SARS outbreak was enhanced by the communication of relevant information and by the leadership of their supervisors and infection control officers. It is hoped that training programs for health care professionals will be able to implement these tenets of crisis management as they develop strategies for dealing with future health threats.
medical house staff; severe acute respiratory distress syndrome; training program; outbreak
As a result of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic, the World Health Organization placed Taiwan on the travel alert list from May 21 to July 5, 2003. The aim of this study was to explore the post-crisis psychological distress among residents in Taiwan after the SARS epidemic.
The target population consisted of a nationwide representative sample of residents aged ≥ 18 years. Data were collected using computer assisted telephone interview systems by stratified random sampling according to geographic area. The survey (n = 1278) was conducted in November 2003, about 4 months after resolution of the SARS crisis in Taiwan. The maximum deviation of sampling error at the 95% confidence level was ± 2.74%. Psychological distress was measured by a question related to subject’s changes in perception of life, plus the five-item Brief Symptom Rating Scale. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the correlation of psychological distress.
About 9.2% of the participants reported that their perceptions of life became more pessimistic following the SARS crisis. The prevalence of psychiatric morbidity was 11.7%. Major predictors of higher levels of pessimism after the SARS epidemic included demographic factors, perception of SARS and pre-paredness, knowing people or having personal experiences of SARS-related discrimination, and individual worries and psychiatric morbidity. The correlates of symptomatic cases, as indicated by the five-item Brief Symptom Rating Scale, included age ≥ 50 years, senior high school graduate, and worries about recurrence of SARS.
Psychological distress was significantly correlated with demographic factors and perception regarding the SARS epidemic. It is suggested that marketing of mental health education should be segmented according to age and education level, which should enhance crisis communication for newly emerging infectious diseases among community populations.
post-crisis; psychiatric morbidity; psychological distress; severe acute respiratory syndrome
Few diabetes HRQOL instruments are available in Chinese language. We tested psychometric properties of a Diabetes Quality of Life (DQOL) in Chinese language for diabetes patients in Taiwan and estimated its minimally important differences (MIDs).
Data were collected from 337 patients treated in diabetes clinics of a Taiwan teaching hospital. Pearson's correlations among domain scores of the DQOL (satisfaction, impact, and worry), the D-39S (a diabetes-specific instrument, including domains of diabetes control, energy and mobility, social burden and anxiety and worry, and sexual functioning) and the RAND-12 (a generic instrument, including physical health composite (PHC) and mental health composite (MHC)) were estimated to determine convergent/discriminant validity. Known-groups validity was examined using 2-hour postprandial plasma glucose (2 h PPG), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)) and presence of complications (retinopathy, neuropathy, and diabetic foot complications rather than the known groups of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular complications). We used a combined anchor- and distribution-based approach to establish MIDs.
The DQOL scores were more strongly correlated with the physical domains of the D-39S (diabetes control and energy and mobility) and RAND-12 PHC than psychological domains of the D-39S (social burden, anxiety and worry, and sexual functioning) and RAND-12 MHC. The DQOL showed satisfactory discriminative ability for the known groups of 2 h PPG and HbA1c (effect size (ES) ≥ 0.2) and retinopathy, neuropathy, and diabetic foot complications (ES ≥ 0.3), but less satisfactory for the known groups of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular complications. MIDs for the DQOL domains were 3–5 points for satisfaction, 4–5 points for impact, 6–8 points for worry, and 3–4 points for overall HRQOL.
We validated a DQOL in Chinese language for diabetes patients in Taiwan and provided MIDs to facilitate the measure of diabetes HRQOL.
The antimicrobial susceptibility and virulence factors of Clostridium difficile clinical isolates in Taiwan have not previously been reported. One hundred and thirteen isolates were collected from two major teaching hospitals in Taiwan from 2001 to 2009. Molecular typing was performed by an automated repetitive extragenic palindromic sequence-based PCR (rep-PCR) method (DiversiLab; Bacterial Barcodes, Inc., Athens, GA) and PCR ribotyping. Detection of tcdA, tcdB, cdtA, and cdtB genes was performed using a multiplex PCR assay, and gyrA and gyrB genes of moxifloxacin-nonsusceptible isolates were sequenced. All isolates were susceptible to vancomycin and metronidazole. Ninety-five (84%) isolates were susceptible to moxifloxacin, and the MIC90 for nemonoxacin was 4 μg/ml. Tigecycline showed favorable antibacterial activity (MIC90 of 0.06 μg/ml). Thirteen rep-PCR types were identified as a predominant rep-PCR type (type A; non-North American pulsed-field gel electrophoresis type 1 [NAP1], -NAP7, or -NAP8) accounting for 52.2% (59 isolates). Nine of 18 moxifloxacin-nonsusceptible isolates belonged to the rep-PCR type A. The rep-PCR type A and C isolates were distinct from NAP1 (ribotype 027) and NAP8 (ribotype 078) as determined by PCR ribotyping. Seventy-four (65%) isolates harbored tcdA and tcdB, and 15 (13%) harbored cdtAB encoding binary toxin. Eleven isolates had a gene deletion in tcdC, including a 39-bp deletion (9 isolates) and an 18-bp deletion (2). In conclusion, dissemination of a predominant C. difficile clone in southern and northern Taiwan was noted. However, no NAP1 (ribotype 027) isolate could be discovered in this study.
To evaluate the psychometric properties of the Taiwan Chinese Version of the EORTC QLQ-PR25 health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaire for patients with prostate cancer.
135 prostate cancer patients were recruited in the urology outpatient clinic of a university teaching hospital. Each patient completed the EORTC QLQ-PR25 at every clinic visit between 2004 and 2008, totaling 633 assessments. Confirmatory factor analysis and Rasch analysis were used to evaluate the domain- and item-level psychometric properties.
The results supported the unidimensionality of each of the four EORTC QLQ-PR25 domains (urinary, bowel, and hormonal-treatment-related symptoms, and sexual functioning). Item calibrations for each domain were found invariant across the three assessment time periods. The item-person maps showed 71.3% of item coverage for the urinary symptoms domain and 13–42.7% for the other three domains.
The Taiwan Chinese Version of the EORTC QLQ-PR25 questionnaire is reliable and can be used to measure HRQOL over time. Adding new items to each domain may improve its clinical content coverage and measurement precision.
EORTC QLQ-PR25; Health-related quality of life; Prostate cancer; Rasch analysis; Item response theory
International health organizations and officials are bracing for a pandemic. Although the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in Toronto did not reach such a level, it created a unique opportunity to identify the optimal use of the Internet to promote communication with the public and to preserve health services during an epidemic.
The aim of the study was to explore patients’ attitudes regarding the health services that might be provided through the Internet to supplement those traditionally available in the event of a future mass emergency situation.
We conducted “mask-to-mask” surveys of patients at three major teaching hospitals in Toronto during the second outbreak of SARS. Patients were surveyed at the hospital entrances and selected clinics. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models were used for the analysis.
In total, 1019 of 1130 patients responded to the survey (90% overall response rate). With respect to Internet use, 70% (711/1019) used the Internet by themselves and 57% (578/1019) with the help of a friend or family member. Of the Internet users, 68% (485/711) had already searched the World Wide Web for health information, and 75% (533/711) were interested in communicating with health professionals using the Internet as part of their ongoing care. Internet users expressed interest in using the Web for the following reasons: to learn about their health condition through patient education materials (84%), to obtain information about the status of their clinic appointments (83%), to send feedback to the hospital about how to improve its services (77%), to access screening tools to help determine if they were potentially affected by the infectious agent responsible for the outbreak (77%), to renew prescriptions (75%), to consult with their health professional about nonurgent matters (75%), and to access laboratory test results (75%). Regression results showed that younger age, higher education, and English as a first language were predictors of patients’ interest in using Internet services in the event of an epidemic.
Most patients are willing and able to use the Internet as a means to maintain communication with the hospital during an outbreak of an infectious disease such as SARS. Hospitals should explore new ways to interact with the public, to provide relevant health information, and to ensure continuity of care when they are forced to restrict their services.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome; communicable diseases, emerging; information services; Internet; public health; questionnaires
The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system is widely used as a strategy in the search for the etiology of infectious diseases and autoimmune disorders. During the Taiwan epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), many health care workers were infected. In an effort to establish a screening program for high risk personal, the distribution of HLA class I and II alleles in case and control groups was examined for the presence of an association to a genetic susceptibly or resistance to SARS coronavirus infection.
HLA-class I and II allele typing by PCR-SSOP was performed on 37 cases of probable SARS, 28 fever patients excluded later as probable SARS, and 101 non-infected health care workers who were exposed or possibly exposed to SARS coronavirus. An additional control set of 190 normal healthy unrelated Taiwanese was also used in the analysis.
Woolf and Haldane Odds ratio (OR) and corrected P-value (Pc) obtained from two tails Fisher exact test were used to show susceptibility of HLA class I or class II alleles with coronavirus infection. At first, when analyzing infected SARS patients and high risk health care workers groups, HLA-B*4601 (OR = 2.08, P = 0.04, Pc = n.s.) and HLA-B*5401 (OR = 5.44, P = 0.02, Pc = n.s.) appeared as the most probable elements that may be favoring SARS coronavirus infection. After selecting only a "severe cases" patient group from the infected "probable SARS" patient group and comparing them with the high risk health care workers group, the severity of SARS was shown to be significantly associated with HLA-B*4601 (P = 0.0008 or Pc = 0.0279).
Densely populated regions with genetically related southern Asian populations appear to be more affected by the spreading of SARS infection. Up until recently, no probable SARS patients were reported among Taiwan indigenous peoples who are genetically distinct from the Taiwanese general population, have no HLA-B* 4601 and have high frequency of HLA-B* 1301. While increase of HLA-B* 4601 allele frequency was observed in the "Probable SARS infected" patient group, a further significant increase of the allele was seen in the "Severe cases" patient group. These results appeared to indicate association of HLA-B* 4601 with the severity of SARS infection in Asian populations. Independent studies are needed to test these results.
The 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak infected 8,422 individuals leading to 916 deaths around the world. However, there have been few epidemiological studies of SARS comparing epidemiologic features across regions. The aim of this study is to identify similarities and differences in SARS epidemiology in three populations with similar host and viral genotype.
We present a comparative epidemiologic analysis of SARS, based on an integrated dataset with 3,336 SARS patients from Hong Kong, Beijing and Taiwan, epidemiological and clinical characteristics such as incubation, onset-to-admission, onset-to-discharge and onset-to-death periods, case fatality ratios (CFRs) and presenting symptoms are described and compared between regions. We further explored the influence of demographic and clinical variables on the apparently large differences in CFRs between the three regions.
All three regions showed similar incubation periods and progressive shortening of the onset-to-admission interval through the epidemic. Adjusted for sex, health care worker status and nosocomial setting, older age was associated with a higher fatality, with adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 2.10 (95% confidence interval: 1.45, 3.04) for those aged 51-60; AOR: 4.57 (95% confidence interval: 3.32, 7.30) for those aged above 60 compared to those aged 41-50 years. Presence of pre-existing comorbid conditions was also associated with greater mortality (AOR: 1.74; 95% confidence interval: 1.36, 2.21).
The large discrepancy in crude fatality ratios across the three regions can only be partly explained by epidemiological and clinical heterogeneities. Our findings underline the importance of a common data collection platform, especially in an emerging epidemic, in order to identify and explain consistencies and differences in the eventual clinical and public health outcomes of infectious disease outbreaks, which is becoming increasingly important in our highly interconnected world.