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1.  Routine HIV Testing in Botswana: A Population-Based Study on Attitudes, Practices, and Human Rights Concerns 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e261.
Background
The Botswana government recently implemented a policy of routine or “opt-out” HIV testing in response to the high prevalence of HIV infection, estimated at 37% of adults.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,268 adults from five districts in Botswana to assess knowledge of and attitudes toward routine testing, correlates of HIV testing, and barriers and facilitators to testing, 11 months after the introduction of this policy. Most participants (81%) reported being extremely or very much in favor of routine testing. The majority believed that this policy would decrease barriers to testing (89%), HIV-related stigma (60%), and violence toward women (55%), and would increase access to antiretroviral treatment (93%). At the same time, 43% of participants believed that routine testing would lead people to avoid going to the doctor for fear of testing, and 14% believed that this policy could increase gender-based violence related to testing. The prevalence of self-reported HIV testing was 48%. Adjusted correlates of testing included female gender (AOR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1–1.9), higher education (AOR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.5–2.7), more frequent healthcare visits (AOR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.3–2.7), perceived access to HIV testing (AOR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.1–2.5), and inconsistent condom use (AOR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.2–2.1). Individuals with stigmatizing attitudes toward people living with HIV and AIDS were less likely to have been tested for HIV/AIDS (AOR = 0.7, 95% CI = 0.5–0.9) or to have heard of routine testing (AOR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.45–0.76). While experiences with voluntary and routine testing overall were positive, 68% felt that they could not refuse the HIV test. Key barriers to testing included fear of learning one's status (49%), lack of perceived HIV risk (43%), and fear of having to change sexual practices with a positive HIV test (33%).
Conclusions
Routine testing appears to be widely supported and may reduce barriers to testing in Botswana. As routine testing is adopted elsewhere, measures should be implemented to assure true informed consent and human rights safeguards, including protection from HIV-related discrimination and protection of women against partner violence related to testing.
Editors' Summary
Background.
In 2005, there were 5 million new infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the disease it causes—acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)—killed three million people. Despite the increased availability of drugs that can fight HIV (antiretrovirals), the AIDS epidemic continues to grow, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. To halt it, more needs to be done to prevent the spread of HIV. Education about safe sex can help—HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner—but increasing HIV testing is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, the uptake of voluntary counseling and testing in sub-Saharan Africa is worryingly low. Fear of being stigmatized—socially disgraced—and discriminated against, fears about the positive result itself, and worries about access to antiretroviral drugs are all putting people off being tested.
Why Was This Study Done?
In Botswana, one in three adults is infected with HIV. Since 2002, antiretroviral drugs have been freely available but enrollment in the Botswana National Treatment Program during its first two years was slow, in part due to inadequate uptake of voluntary HIV testing. Consequently, in early 2004, the government introduced a policy of routine HIV testing in which all patients are tested for HIV when they visit their doctor unless they opt out. A major aim of this approach to HIV testing, which was formally recommended in June 2004 by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, is to increase uptake of HIV testing and treatment, and to reduce HIV-related stigma by treating the HIV test like any other routine medical procedure. However, there are fears that the policy could back-fire—people might not visit their doctors, for example, because they are afraid of being tested and think that they will not be able to refuse the test. In this study, the researchers investigated knowledge of and attitudes to routine testing in Botswana to understand better the consequences of a routine testing policy.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers interviewed adults throughout Botswana about their knowledge of and attitudes to routine HIV testing 11 months after introduction of the policy. Only half of the participants had heard of routine testing before being interviewed but nearly all were in favor of routine testing. More than half thought it would reduce HIV-related stigma and the violence toward women that is associated with an HIV-positive status. However, almost half believed that routine testing might prevent people from going to the doctor because of fear of testing and a few thought the policy would increase violence against women. Nearly half of the interviewees had had an HIV test and the researchers found, for example, that women were more likely to have been tested than men and that people with stigmatizing attitudes toward people living with HIV and AIDS were less likely to be tested. Fear of learning one's HIV status, lack of perceived risk, and fear of having to change sexual practices if positive all stopped people taking the test. Finally, although experiences with testing were generally positive, approximately two-thirds of interviewees who had been tested felt that it would have been difficult to refuse the test.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results show that there is widespread support for routine HIV testing in Botswana, a finding supported by recent increases in treatment uptake. Routine testing, write the researchers, holds significant promise for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Botswana and elsewhere. In particular, increasing the number of people tested for HIV may reduce HIV-related stigma, which should further increase testing and hopefully slow the spread of HIV. But the results of this study also highlight some areas of concern. Whenever HIV testing policies are implemented, human rights must be protected by ensuring that patients have all the information necessary to make an informed and free decision about being tested, by providing protection for women against violence related to HIV status, and by ensuring total confidentiality. Careful monitoring of Botswana's program and similar programs will be needed to ensure that these human rights are fully met, conclude the researchers.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030261
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases factsheet on HIV infection and AIDS
• US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
• UNAIDS and World Health Organization 2004 policy statement on HIV testing
• AVERT, a UK-based charity, provides information about HIV and AIDS in Botswana
A cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,268 adults from five districts in Botswana showed that routine HIV testing appears to be widely supported and may reduce barriers to HIV testing.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030261
PMCID: PMC1502152  PMID: 16834458
2.  Family physicians’ attitudes toward education in research skills during residency 
Canadian Family Physician  2008;54(3):413-414.
OBJECTIVE
To determine the attitudes of practising Canadian family physicians toward education in research skills during residency, to identify what determines these attitudes, and to investigate the effect of education in research skills on future research activity.
DESIGN
Mailed survey.
SETTING
Primary care.
PARTICIPANTS
Stratified random sample of 247 practising physicians who were members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Physicians’ attitudes toward education in research skills during residency, their perceptions of the value of research in primary care, and their current involvement in research activities.
RESULTS
Overall response rate was 56%. Nearly all respondents agreed that critical appraisal skills are essential to the practice of modern family medicine. Most agreed that it is very important that the evidence base for primary care medicine be developed by family physicians, yet only one-third agreed that research skills ought to receive more emphasis during residency training, and fewer than one-quarter agreed that practising family physicians should have strong research skills. Fewer than half the respondents agreed that a core goal of family medicine residency training should be to promote and develop an active interest in research. While three-quarters agreed that research projects during residency can be formative learning experiences, only about 40% indicated that research projects should be required, and only about 20% considered their own resident research projects to have been highly influential learning experiences. Respondents whose residency programs had research in the curriculum were significantly more likely to have found their research projects to be highly influential learning experiences (P <.05), and those who had successfully completed research projects were less likely to believe that they lacked the necessary skills and expertise to conduct their own research studies. Those who had successfully completed resident research projects participated in postresidency research activity at a significantly higher rate than those who did not complete projects (P <.01).
CONCLUSION
Despite a conviction that research is important in primary care, only a few practising family physicians in our sample believed that strong research skills are important or that education in research skills should receive more emphasis during residency training. Resident research projects are not invariably influential learning experiences, although some evidence indicates that successful completion of a project makes future participation in research more likely.
PMCID: PMC2278359  PMID: 18337536
3.  Facilitating the Recruitment of Minority Ethnic People into Research: Qualitative Case Study of South Asians and Asthma 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000148.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report on a qualitative study in the US and the UK to investigate ways to bolster recruitment of South Asians into asthma studies, including making inclusion of diverse populations mandatory.
Background
There is international interest in enhancing recruitment of minority ethnic people into research, particularly in disease areas with substantial ethnic inequalities. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that UK South Asians are at three times increased risk of hospitalisation for asthma when compared to white Europeans. US asthma trials are far more likely to report enrolling minority ethnic people into studies than those conducted in Europe. We investigated approaches to bolster recruitment of South Asians into UK asthma studies through qualitative research with US and UK researchers, and UK community leaders.
Methods and Findings
Interviews were conducted with 36 researchers (19 UK and 17 US) from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and ten community leaders from a range of ethnic, religious, and linguistic backgrounds, followed by self-completion questionnaires. Interviews were digitally recorded, translated where necessary, and transcribed. The Framework approach was used for analysis. Barriers to ethnic minority participation revolved around five key themes: (i) researchers' own attitudes, which ranged from empathy to antipathy to (in a minority of cases) misgivings about the scientific importance of the question under study; (ii) stereotypes and prejudices about the difficulties in engaging with minority ethnic populations; (iii) the logistical challenges posed by language, cultural differences, and research costs set against the need to demonstrate value for money; (iv) the unique contexts of the two countries; and (v) poorly developed understanding amongst some minority ethnic leaders of what research entails and aims to achieve. US researchers were considerably more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities, which appeared to a large extent to reflect the longer-term impact of the National Institutes of Health's requirement to include minority ethnic people.
Conclusions
Most researchers and community leaders view the broadening of participation in research as important and are reasonably optimistic about the feasibility of recruiting South Asians into asthma studies provided that the barriers can be overcome. Suggested strategies for improving recruitment in the UK included a considerably improved support structure to provide academics with essential contextual information (e.g., languages of particular importance and contact with local gatekeepers), and the need to ensure that care is taken to engage with the minority ethnic communities in ways that are both culturally appropriate and sustainable; ensuring reciprocal benefits was seen as one key way of avoiding gatekeeper fatigue. Although voluntary measures to encourage researchers may have some impact, greater impact might be achieved if UK funding bodies followed the lead of the US National Institutes of Health requiring recruitment of ethnic minorities. Such a move is, however, likely in the short- to medium-term, to prove unpopular with many UK academics because of the added “hassle” factor in engaging with more diverse populations than many have hitherto been accustomed to.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In an ideal world, everyone would have the same access to health care and the same health outcomes (responses to health interventions). However, health inequalities—gaps in health care and in health between different parts of the population—exist in many countries. In particular, people belonging to ethnic minorities in the UK, the US, and elsewhere have poorer health outcomes for several conditions than people belonging to the ethnic majority (ethnicity is defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin). For example, in the UK, people whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent (also known as South Asians and comprising in the main of people of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi origin) are three times as likely to be admitted to hospital for asthma as white Europeans. The reasons underpinning ethnic health inequalities are complex. Some inequalities may reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—some ethnic minorities may inherit genes that alter their susceptibility to a specific disease. Other ethnic health inequalities may arise because of differences in socioeconomic status or because different cultural traditions affect the uptake of health care services.
Why Was This Study Done?
Minority ethnic groups are often under-represented in health research, which could limit the generalizability of research findings. That is, an asthma treatment that works well in a trial where all the participants are white Europeans might not be suitable for South Asians. Clinicians might nevertheless use the treatment in all their patients irrespective of their ethnicity and thus inadvertently increase ethnic health inequality. So, how can ethnic minorities be encouraged to enroll into research studies? In this qualitative study, the investigators try to answer this question by talking to US and UK asthma researchers and UK community leaders about how they feel about enrolling ethnic minorities into research studies. The investigators chose to compare the feelings of US and UK asthma researchers because minority ethnic people are more likely to enroll into US asthma studies than into UK studies, possibly because the US National Institute of Health's (NIH) Revitalization Act 1993 mandates that all NIH-funded clinical research must include people from ethnic minority groups; there is no similar mandatory policy in the UK.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The investigators interviewed 16 UK and 17 US asthma researchers and three UK social researchers with experience of working with ethnic minorities. They also interviewed ten community leaders from diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds. They then analyzed the interviews using the “Framework” approach, an analytical method in which qualitative data are classified and organized according to key themes and then interpreted. By comparing the data from the UK and US researchers, the investigators identified several barriers to ethnic minority participation in health research including: the attitudes of researchers towards the scientific importance of recruiting ethnic minority people into health research studies; prejudices about the difficulties of including ethnic minorities in health research; and the logistical challenges posed by language and cultural differences. In general, the US researchers were more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities in health research. Finally, the investigators found that some community leaders had a poor understanding of what research entails and about its aims.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal a large gap between US and UK researchers in terms of policy, attitudes, practices, and experiences in relation to including ethnic minorities in asthma research. However, they also suggest that most UK researchers and community leaders believe that it is both important and feasible to increase the participation of South Asians in asthma studies. Although some of these findings may have been affected by the study participants sometimes feeling obliged to give “politically correct” answers, these findings are likely to be generalizable to other diseases and to other parts of Europe. Given their findings, the researchers warn that a voluntary code of practice that encourages the recruitment of ethnic minority people into health research studies is unlikely to be successful. Instead, they suggest, the best way to increase the representation of ethnic minority people in health research in the UK might be to follow the US lead and introduce a policy that requires their inclusion in such research.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000148.
Families USA, a US nonprofit organization that campaigns for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, has information about many aspects of minority health in the US, including an interactive game about minority health issues
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a section on minority health
The UK Department of Health provides information on health inequalities and a recent report on the experiences of patients in Black and minority ethnic groups
The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology also has a short article on ethnicity and health
Information on the NIH Revitalization Act 1993 is available
NHS Evidences Ethnicity and Health has a variety of policy, clinical, and research resources on ethnicity and health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000148
PMCID: PMC2752116  PMID: 19823568
4.  Attitude to blood donation in Saudi Arabia 
Background and Objectives:
The blood donor system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia depends on a combination of voluntary and involuntary donors. The aim of this study is to explore the attitudes, beliefs and motivations of Saudis toward blood donation.
Materials and Methods:
The study was conducted at the Donor Centers at King Khalid University Hospital (KKUH) Blood Bank and King Saud University Students Health Center, Riyadh. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to donors (n = 517) and nondonors (n = 316), between February and June 2008. All were males.
Results:
Ninety-nine percent of the respondents showed positive attitude toward blood donations and its importance for patients care, and object the importation of blood from abroad. Blood donors: Ninety-one percent agree that that blood donation is a religious obligation, 91% think no compensation should be given, 63% will accept a token gift, 34% do not object to donating six times/year and 67% did not mind coming themselves to the donor center to give blood. Nondonors: Forty-six percent were not asked to give blood and those who were asked mentioned fear (5%) and lack of time (16%) as their main deterrents. Reasons for rejection as donors include underweight and age (71%) and health reasons (19%). Seventy-five percent objected to money compensation but 69% will accept token gifts and 92% will donate if a relative/friend needs blood.
Conclusion:
These results reflect an encouraging strong positive attitude toward blood donation. Further future planning with emphasis on educational/publicity programs and careful organization of donor recruitment campaigns could see the dream of total voluntary nonremunerated blood donations should not take long to be true.
doi:10.4103/0973-6247.83235
PMCID: PMC3159239  PMID: 21897588
Attitude to blood donation; donor compensation; donor motivation; Saudi blood donors
5.  Psychosocial Factors That Shape Patient and Carer Experiences of Dementia Diagnosis and Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001331.
A systematic review of qualitative studies conducted by Frances Bunn and colleagues identifies and describes the experiences of patients and caregivers on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia.
Background
Early diagnosis and intervention for people with dementia is increasingly considered a priority, but practitioners are concerned with the effects of earlier diagnosis and interventions on patients and caregivers. This systematic review evaluates the qualitative evidence about how people accommodate and adapt to the diagnosis of dementia and its immediate consequences, to guide practice.
Methods and Findings
We systematically reviewed qualitative studies exploring experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia, and their carers, around diagnosis and the transition to becoming a person with dementia. We searched PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, CINAHL, and the British Nursing Index (all searched in May 2010 with no date restrictions; PubMed search updated in February 2012), checked reference lists, and undertook citation searches in PubMed and Google Scholar (ongoing to September 2011). We used thematic synthesis to identify key themes, commonalities, barriers to earlier diagnosis, and support identified as helpful. We identified 126 papers reporting 102 studies including a total of 3,095 participants. Three overarching themes emerged from our analysis: (1) pathways through diagnosis, including its impact on identity, roles, and relationships; (2) resolving conflicts to accommodate a diagnosis, including the acceptability of support, focusing on the present or the future, and the use or avoidance of knowledge; and (3) strategies and support to minimise the impact of dementia. Consistent barriers to diagnosis include stigma, normalisation of symptoms, and lack of knowledge. Studies report a lack of specialist support particularly post-diagnosis.
Conclusions
There is an extensive body of qualitative literature on the experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia. We present a thematic analysis that could be useful to professionals working with people with dementia. We suggest that research emphasis should shift towards the development and evaluation of interventions, particularly those providing support after diagnosis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Dementia is a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer disease is the most common type of dementia. People with dementia usually have problems with two or more cognitive functions—thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment. Dementia is rare before the age of 65, but about a quarter of people over 85 have dementia. Because more people live longer these days, the number of patients with dementia is increasing. It is estimated that today between 40 and 50 million people live with dementia worldwide. By 2050, this number is expected to triple.
One way to study what dementia means to patients and their carers (most often spouses or other family members) is through qualitative research. Qualitative research aims to develop an in-depth understanding of individuals' experiences and behavior, as well as the reasons for their feelings and actions. In qualitative studies, researchers interview patients, their families, and doctors. When the studies are published, they usually contain direct quotations from interviews as well as summaries by the scientists who designed the interviews and analyzed the responses.
Why Was This Study Done?
This study was done to better understand the experiences and attitudes of patients and their carers surrounding dementia diagnosis. It focused on patients who lived and were cared for within the community (as opposed to people living in senior care facilities or other institutions). Most cases of dementia are progressive, meaning symptoms get worse over time. Diagnosis often happens at an advanced stage of the disease, and some patients never receive a formal diagnosis. This could have many possible reasons, including unawareness or denial of symptoms by patients and people close to them. The study was also trying to understand barriers to early diagnosis and what type of support is useful for newly diagnosed patients and carers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a systematic search for published qualitative research studies that reported on the experience, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes surrounding dementia diagnosis. They identified and reviewed 102 such studies. Among the quotations and summaries of the individual studies, they looked for prominent and recurring themes. They also compared and contrasted the respective experiences of patients and carers.
Overall, they found that the complexity and variety of responses to a diagnosis of dementia means that making the diagnosis and conveying it to patients and carers is challenging. Negative connotations associated with dementia, inconsistent symptoms, and not knowing enough about the signs and symptoms were commonly reported barriers to early dementia diagnosis. It was often the carer who initiated the search for help from a doctor, and among patients, willingness and readiness to receive a diagnosis varied. Being told one had dementia had a big impact on a patient's identity and often caused feelings of loss, anger, fear, and frustration. Spouses had to adjust to increasingly unequal relationships and the transition to a role as carer. The strain associated with this often caused health problems in the carers as well. On the other hand, studies examining the experience of couples often reported that they found ways to continue working together as a team.
Adjusting to a dementia diagnosis is a complex process. Initially, most patients and carers experienced conflicts, for example, between autonomy and safety, between recognizing the need for help but reluctance to accept it, or between living in the present and dealing with anxiety about and preparing for the future. As these were resolved and as the disease progressed, the attitudes of patients and carers towards dementia often became more balanced and accepting. Many patients and their families adopted strategies to cope with the impact of dementia on their lives in order to manage the disease and maintain some sort of normal life. These included practical strategies involving reminders, social strategies such as relying on family support, and emotional strategies such as using humor. At some point many patients and carers reported that they were able to adopt positive mindsets and incorporate dementia in their lives.
The studies also pointed to an urgent need for support from outside the family, both right after diagnosis and subsequently. General practitioners and family physicians have important roles in helping patients and carers to get access to information, social and psychological support, and community care. The need for information was reported to be ongoing and varied, and meeting it required a variety of sources and formats. Key needs for patients and carers mentioned in the studies include information on financial aids and entitlements early on, and continued access to supportive professionals and specialists.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Qualitative studies to date on how patients and carers respond to a diagnosis of dementia provide a fairly detailed picture of their experiences. The summary provided here should help professionals to understand better the challenges patients and carers face around the time of diagnosis as well as their immediate and evolving needs. The results also suggest that future research should focus on the development and evaluation of ways to meet those needs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331.
Wikipedia has pages on dementia and qualitative research (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Alzheimer Europe, an umbrella organization of 34 Alzheimer associations from 30 countries across Europe, has a page on the different approaches to research
The UK Department of Health has pages on dementia, including guidelines for carers of people with dementia
MedlinePlus also has information about dementia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331
PMCID: PMC3484131  PMID: 23118618
6.  Experiences, attitudes and barriers towards research amongst junior faculty of Pakistani medical universities 
Background
The developing world has had limited quality research and in Pakistan, research is still in its infancy. We conducted a study to assess the proportion of junior faculty involved in research to highlight their attitude towards research, and identify the factors associated with their research involvement.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted in four medical universities/teaching hospitals in Pakistan, representing private and public sectors. A pre-tested, self-administered questionnaire was used to collect information from 176 junior faculty members of studied universities/hospitals. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors related to attitudes and barriers in research among those currently involved in research with those who were not.
Results
Overall, 41.5% of study subjects were currently involved in research. A highly significant factor associated with current research involvement was research training during the post-graduate period (p < 0.001). Other factors associated with current involvement in research were male gender, working in the public sector and previous involvement in research. Overall, a large majority (85.2%) of doctors considered research helpful in their profession and had a positive attitude towards research; nevertheless this positive attitude was more frequently reported by doctors who were currently involved in research compared to those who were not (OR = 4.69; 95% CI = 1.54-14.26). Similarly, a large proportion (83.5%) of doctors considered research difficult to conduct; higher by doctors who were not presently involved in research (OR = 2.74; 95% CI = 1.20-6.22)
Conclusion
Less than half of the study participants were currently involved in research. Research output may improve if identified barriers are rectified. Further studies are recommended in this area.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-68
PMCID: PMC2780986  PMID: 19917109
7.  PATIENTS’ KNOWLEDGE AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS HEALTH EDUCATION: IMPLICATIONS FOR PRIMARY HEALTH CARE SERVICES IN SAUDI ARABIA 
Objectives:
To assess health educational activities in primary health care centers in Riyadh City.
Methods:
The data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire directed at adult patients who attended primary health care centers from February – April 2006, in Riyadh City. Out of the 750 patients who were selected randomly, 569 (75.9%) successfully completed the questionnaire. The data collected were on a set of variables including socio-demographic characteristics, health-related variables, source of health knowledge and patients’ attitudes towards a number of health-related aspects. Data were presented and analyzed in a descriptive fashion.
Results:
Only 20% of PHC patients had received health education in the past twelve months. The majority of respondents identified TV and friends/relatives as the main sources of their health education. A considerable percentage of the patients with chronic conditions lacked knowledge about their illnesses. The results indicate that the deficiency in knowledge was the result of some of the socio-demographic characteristics of respondents.
Conclusion:
There is an urgent need to review and evaluate health education programs conducted in PHC centers. Special emphasis should be placed on health education activities for those living with chronic health conditions.
PMCID: PMC3377017  PMID: 23012186
Health education; Primary Health Care; Saudi Arabia.
8.  Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA): development and evaluation. 
BACKGROUND: Since the early 1990s the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health has explicitly promoted a research and development (R&D) strategy for the National Health Service (NHS). General practitioners (GPs) and other members of the primary care team are in a unique position to undertake research activity that will complement and inform the research undertaken by basic scientists and hospital-based colleagues and lead directly to a better evidence base for decision making by primary care professionals. Opportunities to engage in R&D in primary care are growing and the scope for those wishing to become involved is finally widening. Infrastructure funding for research-active practices and the establishment of a range of support networks have helped to improve the research capacity and blur some of the boundaries between academic departments and clinical practice. This is leading to a supportive environment for primary care research. There is thus a need to develop and validate nationally accepted quality standards and accreditation of performance to ensure that funders, collaborators and primary care professionals can deliver high quality primary care research. Several strategies have been described in national policy documents in order to achieve an improvement in teaching and clinical care, as well as enhancing research capacity in primary care. The development of both research practices and primary care research networks has been recognised as having an important contribution to make in enabling health professionals to devote more protected time to undertake research methods training and to undertake research in a service setting. The recognition and development of primary care research has also brought with it an emphasis on quality and standards, including an approach to the new research governance framework. PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: In 1998, the NHS Executive South and West, and later the London Research and Development Directorate, provided funding for a pilot project based at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to develop a scheme to accredit UK general practices undertaking primary care R&D. The pilot began with initial consultation on the development of the process, as well as the standards and criteria for assessment. The resulting assessment schedule allowed for assessment at one of two levels: Collaborative Research Practice (Level I), with little direct experience of gaining project or infrastructure funding Established Research Practice (Level II), with more experience of research funding and activity and a sound infrastructure to allow for growth in capacity. The process for assessment of practices involved the assessment of written documentation, followed by a half-day assessment visit by a multidisciplinary team of three assessors. IMPLEMENTATION--THE PILOT PROJECT: Pilot practices were sampled in two regions. Firstly, in the NHS Executive South West Region, where over 150 practices expressed an interest in participating. From these a purposive sample of 21 practices was selected, providing a range of research and service activity. A further seven practices were identified and included within the project through the East London and Essex Network of Researchers (ELENoR). Many in this latter group received funding and administrative support and advice from ELENoR in order to prepare written submissions for assessment. Some sample loss was encountered within the pilot project, which was attributable largely to conflicting demands on participants' time. Indeed, the preparation of written submissions within the South West coincided with the introduction of primary care groups (PCGs) in April 1999, which several practices cited as having a major impact on their participation in the pilot project. A final sample of 15 practices (nine in the South West and six through ELENoR) underwent assessment through the pilot project. EVALUATION: A formal evaluation of the Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA) pilot was undertaken by an independent researcher (FM). This was supplemented with feedback from the assessment team members. The qualitative aspect of the evaluation, which included face-to-face and telephone interviews with assessors, lead researchers and other practice staff within the pilot research practices, as well as members of the project management group, demonstrated a positive view of the pilot scheme. Several key areas were identified in relation to particular strengths of research practices and areas for development including: Strengths Level II practices were found to have a strong primary care team ethos in research. Level II practices tended to have a greater degree of strategic thinking in relation to research. Development areas Level I practices were found to lack a clear and explicit research strategy. Practices at both levels had scope to develop their communication processes for dissemination of research and also for patient involvement. Practices at both levels needed mechanisms for supporting professional development in research methodology. The evaluation demonstrated that practices felt that they had gained from their participation and assessors felt that the scheme had worked well. Some specific issues were raised by different respondents within the qualitative evaluation relating to consistency of interpretation of standards and also the possible overlap of the assessment scheme with other RCGP quality initiatives. NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: The pilot project has been very successful and recommendations have been made to progress to a UK scheme. Management and review of the scheme will remain largely the same, with a few changes focusing on the assessment process and support for practices entering the scheme. Specific changes include: development of the support and mentoring role of the primary care research networks increased peer and external support and mentoring for research practices undergoing assessment development of assessor training in line with other schemes within the RCGP Assessment Network work to ensure consistency across RCGP accreditation schemes in relation to key criteria, thereby facilitating comparable assessment processes refinement of the definition of the two groups, with Level I practices referred to as Collaborators and Level II practices as Investigator-Led. The project has continued to generate much enthusiasm and support and continues to reflect current policy. Indeed, recent developments include the proposed new funding arrangements for primary care R&D, which refer to the RCGP assessment scheme and recognise it as a key component in the future R&D agenda. The assessment scheme will help primary care trusts (PCTs) and individual practices to prepare and demonstrate their approach to research governance in a systematic way. It will also provide a more explicit avenue for primary care trusts to explore local service and development priorities identified within health improvement programmes and the research priorities set nationally for the NHS.
PMCID: PMC2560501  PMID: 12049028
9.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
Background
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Conclusions
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018.
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
10.  Evidence-based medicine among Jordanian family physicians 
Canadian Family Physician  2009;55(7):e6-e13.
ABSTRACT
OBJECTIVE
To assess family practitioners’ attitudes toward and awareness of evidence-based medicine (EBM).
DESIGN
A cross-sectional study from a questionnaire distributed between January and March 2007.
SETTING
Rural and urban family medicine centres throughout Jordan that are affiliated with the Ministry of Health, military centres, university medical centres, and the private sector.
PARTICIPANTS
Two hundred family physicians.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Family physicians’ attitudes toward EBM; training in EBM; barriers to practising EBM; level of awareness of and access to EBM journals and databases; and knowledge and understanding of related technical terms.
RESULTS
The response rate was 70.5%. Among those who responded, 56.7% were women and 42.6% were between the ages of 40 and 49 years. More than 50% of the respondents were working in mixed urban and rural practice settings. Most of the respondents had a positive attitude toward EBM: 63.5% welcomed the concept of EBM; more than 40% used EBM in their daily practices; and 90% agreed that practising EBM improved patient care. Of the respondents, 42.6% thought that the best way to move from opinion-based medicine to EBM was through learning the skills of EBM. Fifty percent of the respondents had access to MEDLINE, while only 20.4% of them had received formal training in research and critical appraisal. Lack of personal time was the main perceived barrier to practising EBM. Participants reported a low level of awareness of some of the technical terms.
CONCLUSION
Jordanian family physicians showed eagerness to learn and implement EBM in their daily practices. Nevertheless, they need more guidance and training to ensure the correct application of EBM ideals.
PMCID: PMC2718582  PMID: 19602641
11.  Care of schizophrenia in general practice: the general practitioner and the patient. 
BACKGROUND. The transfer of patients with chronic schizophrenia from large mental hospitals into the community has had an impact on the role of the general practitioner in the effective delivery of primary care services to these patients. AIM. A study was undertaken to assess the care available in general practice for patients with schizophrenia, the attitudes of general practitioners and patients to the care provided and the factors influencing patients' use of services. METHOD. Eighty three patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and 26 doctors in 13 London practices registered on the VAMP research bank took part in a series of structured and semi-structured interviews. This was followed by a systematic examination of the patients' case notes. RESULTS. Only 14 patients (17%) had no active symptoms according to the present state examination interview and 52 (63%) were currently taking antipsychotic medication. Fifty three patients were in contact with a psychiatrist. Approximately one quarter of patients were visited by a community psychiatric nurse; in 18 of these 19 cases, the main reason for contact was reported to be for administration of medication by depot injection. In all but one case, patients seeing a community psychiatric nurse were also being seen by a psychiatrist. Sixteen doctors reported having had a consultation in the previous month with a patient's relative, friend or member of hostel staff. There were considerable differences between patients and their doctors in their attitudes to the use of services. Of the 26 general practitioners, 23 were enthusiastic about the possibility of introducing shared care records. Of the 54 patients in contact with a mental health professional, only 18 favoured the use of shared care records. Most of the doctors (19, 73%) reported they would welcome a psychiatric liaison service in their practice; 40% of 53 patients said they would not. Patients receiving antipsychotic drugs and patients registered with inner city practices attended their general practitioners more frequently than those not taking antipsychotic medication and those registered with suburban practices. Use of antipsychotic medication (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 8.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.2 to 30.7, P < 0.01), male sex (OR 5.8, 95% CI 1.5 to 22.1, P < 0.01) and active symptoms on the present state examination (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.0 to 17.5, P = 0.06) were all predictive of current contact with mental health professionals. CONCLUSION. Family doctors were closely involved with the care of patients with schizophrenia and their relatives and were eager for increased liaison with secondary care services. Although patients were more resistant than doctors to management innovations this may reflect lack of familiarity with changes in community services. Greater input is needed by mental health professionals, particularly community psychiatric nurses, and some consideration of the burden of care in inner city practices is necessary in health service planning.
PMCID: PMC1239294  PMID: 7612336
12.  Eurocan plus report: feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities 
Summary
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project, called for by the European Parliament, was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities in Europe. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people, the largest Europe–wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research.
Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
It is essential to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community is evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form), leading to the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventive strategies. Translational research ranges from bench–to–bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
The EUROCAN+PLUS Project recommends the creation of a small, permanent and independent European Cancer Initiative (ECI). This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The ECI should assume responsibility for stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes, becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ organizations, European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), putting into practice solutions aimed at alleviating barriers to collaboration and coordination of cancer research activities in the European Union, and dealing with legal and regulatory issues. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this entity should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co–operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe and (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level.
The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control in Europe, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
Executive Summary
Cancer is one of the biggest public health crises facing Europe in the 21st century—one for which Europe is currently not prepared nor preparing itself. Cancer is a major cause of death in Europe with two million casualties and three million new cases diagnosed annually, and the situation is set to worsen as the population ages.
These facts led the European Parliament, through the Research Directorate-General of the European Commission, to call for initiatives for better coordination of cancer research efforts in the European Union. The EUROCAN+PLUS Project was launched in October 2005 as a feasibility study for coordination of national cancer research activities. Over the course of the next two years, the Project process organized over 60 large meetings and countless smaller meetings that gathered in total over a thousand people. In this respect, the Project became the largest Europe-wide consultation ever conducted in the field of cancer research, implicating researchers, cancer centres and hospitals, administrators, healthcare professionals, funding agencies, industry, patients’ organizations and patients.
The Project first identified barriers impeding research and collaboration in research in Europe. Despite a strong tradition in biomedical science in Europe, fragmentation and lack of sustainability remain the formidable challenges for implementing innovative cancer research and cancer care improvement. There is an enormous duplication of research effort in the Member States, which wastes time, wastes money and severely limits the total intellectual concentration on the wide cancer problem. There is a striking lack of communication between some of the biggest actors on the European scene, and there are palpable tensions between funders and those researchers seeking funds.
In addition, there is a shortage of leadership, a multiplicity of institutions each focusing on its own agenda, sub–optimal contact with industry, inadequate training, non–existent career paths, low personnel mobility in research especially among clinicians and inefficient funding—all conspiring against efficient collaboration in cancer care and research. European cancer research today does not have a functional translational research continuum, that is the process that exploits biomedical research innovations and converts them into prevention methods, diagnostic tools and therapies. Moreover, epidemiological research is not integrated with other types of cancer research, and the implementation of the European Directives on Clinical Trials 1 and on Personal Data Protection 2 has further slowed the innovation process in Europe. Furthermore, large inequalities in health and research exist between the EU–15 and the New Member States.
The picture is not entirely bleak, however, as the European cancer research scene presents several strengths, such as excellent basic research and clinical research and innovative etiological research that should be better exploited.
When considering recommendations, several priority dimensions had to be retained. It is essential that proposals include actions and recommendations that can benefit all Member States of the European Union and not just States with the elite centres. It is also essential to have a broader patient orientation to help provide the knowledge to establish cancer control possibilities when we exhaust what can be achieved by the implementation of current knowledge. It is vital that the actions proposed can contribute to the Lisbon Strategy to make Europe more innovative and competitive in (cancer) research.
The Project participants identified six areas for which consensus solutions should be implemented in order to obtain better coordination of cancer research activities. The required solutions are as follows. The proactive management of innovation, detection, facilitation of collaborations and maintenance of healthy competition within the European cancer research community.The establishment of an exchange portal of information for health professionals, patients and policy makers.The provision of guidance for translational and clinical research including the establishment of a translational research platform involving comprehensive cancer centres and cancer research centres.The coordination of calls and financial management of cancer research projects.The construction of a ‘one–stop shop’ as a contact interface between the industry, small and medium enterprises, scientists and other stakeholders.The support of greater involvement of healthcare professionals in translational research and multidisciplinary training.
In the course of the EUROCAN+PLUS consultative process, several key collaborative projects emerged between the various groups and institutes engaged in the consultation. There was a collaboration network established with Europe’s leading Comprehensive Cancer Centres; funding was awarded for a closer collaboration of Owners of Cancer Registries in Europe (EUROCOURSE); there was funding received from FP7 for an extensive network of leading Biological Resource Centres in Europe (BBMRI); a Working Group identified the special needs of Central, Eastern and South–eastern Europe and proposed a remedy (‘Warsaw Declaration’), and the concept of developing a one–stop shop for dealing with academia and industry including the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) was discussed in detail.
Several other dimensions currently lacking were identified. There is an absolute necessity to include the patients’ voice in the establishment of priority areas in cancer research at the present time. It was a salutary lesson when it was recognized that all that is known about the quality of life of the cancer patient comes from the experience of a tiny proportion of cancer patients included in a few clinical trials. The necessity to have dialogue between funders and scientists to establish the best mechanisms to meet the needs of the entire community was evident. A top priority should be the development of translational research (in its widest form) and the development of effective and innovative cancer treatments and preventative strategies in the European Union. Translational research ranges from bench-to-bedside innovative cancer therapies and extends to include bringing about changes in population behaviours when a risk factor is established.
Having taken note of the barriers and the solutions and having examined relevant examples of existing European organizations in the field, it was agreed during the General Assembly of 19 November 2007 that the EUROCAN+PLUS Project had to recommend the creation of a small, permanent and neutral ECI. This should be a model structure and was widely supported at both General Assemblies of the project. The proposal is based on the successful model of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and its principal aims include providing a forum where researchers from all backgrounds and from all countries can meet with members of other specialities including patients, nurses, clinicians, funders and scientific administrators to develop priority programmes to make Europe more competitive in research and more focused on the cancer patient.
The ECI should assume responsibility for: stimulating innovative cancer research and facilitating processes;becoming the common voice of the cancer research community and serving as an interface between the cancer research community and European citizens, patients’ and organizations;European institutions, Member States, industry and small and medium enterprises;putting into practice the aforementioned solutions aimed at alleviating barriers and coordinating cancer research activities in the EU;dealing with legal and regulatory issues.
Solutions implemented through the ECI will lead to better coordination and collaboration throughout Europe, more efficient use of resources, an increase in Europe’s attractiveness to the biomedical industry and better quality of cancer research and education of health professionals.
The Project considered that European legal instruments currently available were inadequate for addressing many aspects of the barriers identified and for the implementation of effective, lasting solutions. Therefore, the legal environment that could shelter an idea like the ECI remains to be defined but should be done so as a priority. In this context, the initiative of the European Commission for a new legal entity for research infrastructure might be a step in this direction. The development of an effective ECI will require time, but this should be established immediately. As an initial step, coordination efforts should be directed towards the creation of a platform on translational research that could encompass: (1) coordination between basic, clinical and epidemiological research; (2) formal agreements of co-operation between comprehensive cancer centres and basic research laboratories throughout Europe; (3) networking between funding bodies at the European level. Another topic deserving immediate attention is the creation of a European database on cancer research projects and cancer research facilities.
Despite enormous progress in cancer control in Europe during the past two decades, there was an increase of 300,000 in the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2006. The European Parliament and its instruments have had a major influence in cancer control, notably in tobacco control and in the implementation of effective population–based screening. To make further progress there is a need for novelty and innovation in cancer research and prevention in Europe, and having a platform such as the ECI, where those involved in all aspects of cancer research can meet, discuss and interact, is a decisive development for Europe.
doi:10.3332/ecancer.2011.84
PMCID: PMC3234055  PMID: 22274749
13.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Conclusions
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
14.  Trauma care — a participant observer study of trauma centers at Delhi, Lucknow and Mumbai 
The Indian Journal of Surgery  2009;71(3):133-141.
Background
Trained doctors and para-medical personnel in accident and emergency services are scant in India. Teaching and training in trauma and emergency medical system (EMS) as a specialty accredited by the Medical Council of India is yet to be started as a postgraduate medical education program. The MI and CMO (casualty medical officer) rooms at military and civilian hospitals in India that practice triage, first-aid, medico-legal formalities, reference and organize transport to respective departments leads to undue delays and lack multidisciplinary approach. Comprehensive trauma and emergency infrastructure were created only at a few cities and none in the rural areas of India in last few years.
Aim
To study the infrastructure, human resource allocation, working, future plans and vision of the established trauma centers at the 3 capital cities of India — Delhi (2 centres), Lucknow and Mumbai.
Setting and design
Participant observer structured open ended qualitative research by 7 days direct observation of the facilities and working of above trauma centers.
Material and methods
Information on, 1. Infrastructure; space and building, operating, ventilator, and diagnostic and blood bank facilities, finance and costs and pre-hospital care infrastructure, 2. Human resource; consultant and resident doctors, para-medical staff and specialists and 3. Work style; first responder, type of patients undertaken, burn management, surgical management and referral system, follow up patient management, social support, bereavement and postmortem services were recorded on a pre-structured open ended instrument interviewing the officials, staff and by direct observation. Data were compressed, peer-analyzed as for qualitative research and presented in explicit tables.
Results
Union and state governments of Delhi, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have spent heavily to create trauma and emergency infrastructure in their capital cities. Mostly general and orthopedics surgeons with their resident staff were managing the facilities. Comprehensively trained accident and emergency (AandE) personnel were not available at any of the centers. Expert management of cardiac peri-arrest arrhythmias, peripheral and microvascular repair were occasionally available. Maxillo-facial, dental and prosthodontic facilities, evenomation grading and treatment of poisoning — anti venom were not integrated. Ventilators, anesthetist, neuro and plastic surgeons were available on call for emergency care at all the 4 centers. Emergency diagnostic radiology (X-ray, CT scan, and ultrasound) and pathology were available at all the 4 centers. On the spot blood bank and component blood therapy was available only at the Delhi centers. Pre-hospital care, though envisioned by the officials, was lacking. Comprehensively trained senior A and E personnel as first responders were unavailable. Double barrier nursing for burn victims was not witnessed. Laparoscopic and fibreoptic endoscopic emergency procedures were also available only at Delhi. Delay in treatment on account of incomplete medico-legal formalities was not seen. Social and legal assistance, bereavement service and cold room for dead body were universally absent. Free treatment at Delhi and partial financial support at Lucknow were available for poor and destitute.
Conclusion
Though a late start, evolution of trauma services was observed and huge infrastructure for trauma have come up at Delhi and Lucknow. Postgraduate accreditation in Trauma and EMS and creation of National Injury Control Program must be mandated to improve trauma care in India. Integration of medical, non traumatic surgical and pediatric emergency along with pre-hospital care is recommended.
doi:10.1007/s12262-009-0037-0
PMCID: PMC3452474  PMID: 23133136
Trauma Care; India; Trauma Centers; Participant observer
15.  Health systems research in Lao PDR: capacity development for getting research into policy and practice 
Background
Lao PDR is a low-income country with an urgent need for evidence-informed policymaking in the healthcare sector. During the last decade a number of Health Systems Research (HSR) projects have been conducted in order to meet this need. However, although knowledge about research is increasing among policymakers, the use of research in policymaking is still limited.
Methods
This article investigates the relationship between research and policymaking from the perspective of those participating in HSR projects. The study is based on 28 interviews, two group discussions and the responses from 56 questionnaires.
Results
The interviewees and questionnaire respondents were aware of the barriers to getting research into policy and practice. But while some were optimistic, claiming that there had been a change of attitudes among policymakers in the last two years, others were more pessimistic and did not expect any real changes until years from now. The major barriers to feeding research results into policy and practice included an inability to influence the policy process and to get policymakers and practitioners interested in research results. Another barrier was the lack of continuous capacity development and high-quality research, both of which are related to funding and international support. Many of the interviewees and questionnaire respondents also pointed out that communication between those conducting research and policymakers must be improved.
Conclusion
The results show that in the case of Lao PDR, research capacity development is at a crucial stage for implementing research into policy and practice. If research is going to make a consistent impact on policymaking in the Lao health care sector, the attitude towards research will need to be changed in order to get research prioritised, both among those conducting research, and among policymakers and practitioners. Our findings indicate that there is awareness about the barriers in this process.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-5-11
PMCID: PMC2098768  PMID: 17939854
16.  Gender differences in health education needs and preferences of Saudis attending Riyadh Military Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 
Background and Aim:
Health reforms that tend to increase the participation of clients in decision-making requires them to be health-literate; hence, the importance of health education. However, not much research has been done to investigate the differences in health education needs according to demographic characteristics of the clients. The aim of this study was to find out any possible gender differences there may be in health education needs and preferences.
Subjects and Methods:
This cross-sectional study was conducted at Riyadh Military Hospital, Saudi Arabia, on a convenience sample of adult Saudis attending its clinics. Data was collected from April 2009 to May 2010 using a self-administered questionnaire covering demographic data, history and needs of health education, methods, and preferred educator.
Results:
Of the 1300 forms distributed, 977 were returned completed (75.2% response). Most men (74.0%) and women (77.9%) had had health education, but more women reported that it had been helpful (P = 0.014). More men mentioned health education needs relating to primary prevention (P = 0.027), and unhealthy practices (P = 0.003), and considered the different language a barrier (P = 0.002) even after adjustment for age and education. The one-to-one method was the most preferred health education method for men (72.7%) and women (67.9%). More women preferred group health education (P = 0.02) after adjustment for age and education. Significantly more men preferred pharmacists and dietitians as health educators.
Conclusion:
The results point to a few significant differences between men and women regarding their health education needs, barriers, and preferences. These must be taken into consideration when planning health education programs.
doi:10.4103/2230-8229.102317
PMCID: PMC3515956  PMID: 23230383
Gender; health education; needs; preferences
17.  A Population-Based Evaluation of a Publicly Funded, School-Based HPV Vaccine Program in British Columbia, Canada: Parental Factors Associated with HPV Vaccine Receipt 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000270.
Analysis of a telephone survey by Gina Ogilvie and colleagues identifies the parental factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a school-based program in Canada.
Background
Information on factors that influence parental decisions for actual human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine receipt in publicly funded, school-based HPV vaccine programs for girls is limited. We report on the level of uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine, and determine parental factors associated with receipt of the HPV vaccine, in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program in British Columbia, Canada.
Methods and Findings
All parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the academic year of September 2008–June 2009 in the province of British Columbia were eligible to participate. Eligible households identified through the provincial public health information system were randomly selected and those who consented completed a validated survey exploring factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to calculate adjusted odds ratios to identify the factors that were associated with parents' decision to vaccinate their daughter(s) against HPV. 2,025 parents agreed to complete the survey, and 65.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 63.1–67.1) of parents in the survey reported that their daughters received the first dose of the HPV vaccine. In the same school-based vaccine program, 88.4% (95% CI 87.1–89.7) consented to the hepatitis B vaccine, and 86.5% (95% CI 85.1–87.9) consented to the meningococcal C vaccine. The main reasons for having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were the effectiveness of the vaccine (47.9%), advice from a physician (8.7%), and concerns about daughter's health (8.4%). The main reasons for not having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were concerns about HPV vaccine safety (29.2%), preference to wait until the daughter is older (15.6%), and not enough information to make an informed decision (12.6%). In multivariate analysis, overall attitudes to vaccines, the impact of the HPV vaccine on sexual practices, and childhood vaccine history were predictive of parents having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program. By contrast, having a family with two parents, having three or more children, and having more education was associated with a decreased likelihood of having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine.
Conclusions
This study is, to our knowledge, one of the first population-based assessments of factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a publicly funded school-based program worldwide. Policy makers need to consider that even with the removal of financial and health care barriers, parents, who are key decision makers in the uptake of this vaccine, are still hesitant to have their daughters receive the HPV vaccine, and strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake need to be employed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 10% of cancers in women occur in the cervix, the structure that connects the womb to the vagina. Every year, globally, more than a quarter of a million women die because of cervical cancer, which only occurs after the cervix has been infected with a human papillomavirus (HPV) through sexual intercourse. There are many types of HPV, a virus that infects the skin and the mucosa (the moist membranes that line various parts of the body, including the cervix). Although most people become infected with HPV at some time in their life, most never know they are infected. However, some HPV types cause harmless warts on the skin or around the genital area and several—in particular, HPV 16 and HPV 18, so-called high-risk HPVs—can cause cervical cancer. HPV infections are usually cleared by the immune system, but about 10% of women infected with a high-risk HPV develop a long-term infection that puts them at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Screening programs have greatly reduced cervical cancer deaths in developed countries in recent decades by detecting the cancer early when it can be treated; but it would be better to prevent cervical cancer ever developing. Because HPV is necessary for the development of cervical cancer, vaccination of girls against HPV infection before the onset of sexual activity might be one way to do this. Scientists recently developed a vaccine that prevents infection with HPV 16 and HPV 18 (and with two HPVs that cause genital warts) and that should, therefore, reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. Publicly funded HPV vaccination programs are now planned or underway in several countries; but before girls can receive the HPV vaccine, parental consent is usually needed, so it is important to know what influences parental decisions about HPV vaccination. In this study, the researchers undertake a telephone survey to determine the uptake of the HPV vaccine by 11-year-old girls (grade 6) in British Columbia, Canada, and to determine the parental factors associated with vaccine uptake; British Columbia started a voluntary school-based HPV vaccine program in September 2008.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In early 2009, the researchers contacted randomly selected parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the 2008–2009 academic year and asked them to complete a telephone survey that explored factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. 65.1% of the 2,025 parents who completed the survey had consented to their daughter receiving the first dose of HPV vaccine. By contrast, more than 85% of the parents had consented to hepatitis B and meningitis C vaccination of their daughters. Nearly half of the parents surveyed said their main reason for consenting to HPV vaccination was the effectiveness of the vaccine. Conversely, nearly a third of the parents said concern about the vaccine's safety was their main reason for not consenting to vaccination and one in eight said they had been given insufficient information to make an informed decision. In a statistical analysis of the survey data, the researchers found that a positive parental attitude towards vaccination, a parental belief that HPV vaccination had limited impact on sexual practices, and completed childhood vaccination increased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the HPV vaccine. Having a family with two parents or three or more children and having well-educated parents decreased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the vaccine.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide one of the first population-based assessments of the factors that affect HPV vaccine uptake in a setting where there are no financial or health care barriers to vaccination. By identifying the factors associated with parental reluctance to agree to HPV vaccination for their daughters, these findings should help public-health officials design strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake, although further studies are needed to discover why, for example, parents with more education are less likely to agree to vaccination than parents with less education. Importantly, the findings of this study, which are likely to be generalizable to other high-income countries, indicate that there is a continued need to ensure that the public receives credible, clear information about both the benefits and long-term safety of HPV vaccination.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about cervical cancer for patients and for health professionals, including information on HPV vaccines (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about cervical cancer and about HPV
The UK National Health Service Choices website has pages on cervical cancer and on HPV vaccination
More information about cervical cancer and HPV vaccination is available from the Macmillan cancer charity
ImmunizeBC provides general information about vaccination and information about HPV vaccination in British Columbia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about cervical cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270
PMCID: PMC2864299  PMID: 20454567
18.  Professional Uncertainty and Disempowerment Responding to Ethnic Diversity in Health Care: A Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e323.
Background
While ethnic disparities in health and health care are increasing, evidence on how to enhance quality of care and reduce inequalities remains limited. Despite growth in the scope and application of guidelines on “cultural competence,” remarkably little is known about how practising health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities. Using cancer care as a clinical context, we aimed to explore this with a range of health professionals to inform interventions to enhance quality of care.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a qualitative study involving 18 focus groups with a purposeful sample of 106 health professionals of differing disciplines, in primary and secondary care settings, working with patient populations of varying ethnic diversity in the Midlands of the UK. Data were analysed by constant comparison and we undertook processes for validation of analysis. We found that, as they sought to offer appropriate care, health professionals wrestled with considerable uncertainty and apprehension in responding to the needs of patients of ethnicities different from their own. They emphasised their perceived ignorance about cultural difference and were anxious about being culturally inappropriate, causing affront, or appearing discriminatory or racist. Professionals' ability to think and act flexibly or creatively faltered. Although trying to do their best, professionals' uncertainty was disempowering, creating a disabling hesitancy and inertia in their practice. Most professionals sought and applied a knowledge-based cultural expertise approach to patients, though some identified the risk of engendering stereotypical expectations of patients. Professionals' uncertainty and disempowerment had the potential to perpetuate each other, to the detriment of patient care.
Conclusions
This study suggests potential mechanisms by which health professionals may inadvertently contribute to ethnic disparities in health care. It identifies critical opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively. Interventions should help professionals acknowledge their uncertainty and its potential to create inertia in their practice. A shift away from a cultural expertise model toward a greater focus on each patient as an individual may help.
From a qualitative study, Joe Kai and colleagues have identified opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively to challenges in their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Communities are increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity (belonging to a group of people defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin) and race (belonging to a group identified by inherited physical characteristics). Although health professionals and governments are striving to ensure that everybody has the same access to health care, there is increasing evidence of ethnic inequalities in health-care outcomes. Some of these inequalities reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—Ashkenazi Jews, for example, often carry an altered gene that increases their chance of developing aggressive breast cancer. Often, however, these differences reflect inequalities in the health care received by different ethnic groups. To improve this situation, “cultural competence” has been promoted over recent years. Cultural competence is the development of skills by individuals and organizations that allow them to work effectively with people from different cultures. Health professionals are now taught about ethnic differences in health beliefs and practices, religion, and communication styles to help them provide the best service to all their patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Numerous guidelines aim to improve cultural competency but little is known about how health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic groups. Is their behavior influenced by ethnicity in ways that might contribute to health care disparities? For example, do doctors sometimes avoid medical examinations for fear of causing offence because of cultural differences? If more were known about how health professionals handle ethnic diversity (a term used here to include both ethnicity and race) it might be possible to reduce ethnic inequalities in health care. In this qualitative study, the researchers have explored how health professionals involved in cancer care are affected by working with ethnically diverse patients. A qualitative study is one that collects nonquantitative data such as how doctors “feel” about treating people of different ethnic backgrounds; a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes in different ethnic groups.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 106 doctors, nurses, and other health-related professionals from different health-service settings in the Midlands, an ethnically diverse region of the UK. They organized 18 focus groups in which the health professionals described their experiences of caring for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The participants were encouraged to recall actual cases and to identify what they saw as problems and strengths in their interactions with these patients. The researchers found that the health professionals wrestled with many challenges when providing health care for patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. These challenges included problems with language and with general communication (for example, deciding when it was acceptable to touch a patient to show empathy). Health professionals also worried they did not know enough about cultural differences. As a result, they said they often felt uncertain of their ability to avoid causing affront or appearing racist. This uncertainty, the researchers report, disempowered the health professionals, sometimes making them hesitate or fail to do what was best for their patient.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal that health professionals often experience considerable uncertainty when caring for ethnically diverse patients, even after training in cultural competency. They also show that this uncertainty can lead to hesitancy and inertia, which might contribute to ethnic health care inequalities. Because the study participants were probably already interested in ethnic diversity and health care, interviews with other health professionals (and investigations of patient experiences) are needed to confirm these findings. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest several interventions that might reduce health care inequalities caused by ethnic diversity. For example, health professionals should be encouraged to recognize their uncertainty and should have access to more information and training about ethnic differences. In addition, there should be a shift in emphasis away from relying on knowledge-based cultural information towards taking an “ethnographic” approach. In other words, health professionals should be helped to feel able to ask their patients about what matters most to them as individuals about their illness and treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323.
Information on cultural competence and health care is available from the US National Center for Cultural Competence (in English and Spanish) and DiversityRx
PROCEED (Professionals Responding to Cancer in Ethnic Diversity) is a multimedia training tool for educators within the health and allied professions developed from the results of this study; a press release on PROCEED is available from the University of Nottingham
Transcultural Health Care Practice: An educational resource for nurses and health care practitioners is available on the web site of the UK Royal College of Nursing
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323
PMCID: PMC2071935  PMID: 18001148
19.  The Beginning of the Research Stream in Family Medicine Residency Program at McMaster University 
Background
To examine research background, attitudes, knowledge and skills of family medicine residents with regard to primary care research and to compare residents who elected to participate in the research stream with those who did not.
Methods
Mailed survey of Family Medicine residents at McMaster University in 1998, 70% (52/74) of whom responded. The main outcome measures consisted of research background; attitudes towards primary care research and research activities during residency program; knowledge and skills in applying it in biostatistics, epidemiology, and research design.
Results
The vast majority of the residents reported previous research experience and/or some training in epidemiology and biostatistics. Residents in the research stream were more likely to be female and were positive towards primary care research: they were more interested in research, more interested in obtaining more research training while a resident, and placed more importance on developing research early in medical education. The research stream residents had stronger views regarding perceived lack of support staff and lack of time for research. There were no statistically significant differences between the research stream and other residents in terms of research knowledge and skills in applying it.
Conclusions
Attitudes towards research rather than research knowledge or skills seemed to distinguish those selecting to be in our new research stream at the inception.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-1-1
PMCID: PMC32177  PMID: 11299050
20.  Knowledge and attitude of health professionals in the Riyadh region, Saudi Arabia, toward complementary and alternative medicine 
Background:
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a popular treatment option for many populations. The present work is aimed at studying the knowledge and attitude of health professionals in the Riyadh region, Saudi Arabia, toward CAM.
Material and Methods:
In this cross-sectional survey, a multistage random sample was taken from health professionals working in hospitals in Riyadh city and surrounding governorates. Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire, from 306 health professionals working in 19 hospitals, on socio-demographic data, knowledge about CAM and their sources, and attitudes toward CAM practices.
Results:
Of the participants, 88.9% had some knowledge about CAM. Respondents with a doctorate degree (94.74%) and 92.53% of those with a bachelor's degree had significantly higher knowledge of CAM than subjects with a diploma, a fellowship, or a master's degree (68.75%, 76.67%, and 85.41%, respectively, P = 0.004). Mass media represented 60.1% of sources of the knowledge of CAM followed by family, relatives, and friends (29.08%) and health educational organizations (14.71%). Participants estimated that prophetic medicine including prayer, honey and bee products, medical herbs, Hijama, nutrition and nutritional supplements, cauterization, and camel milk and urine were the most commonly used CAM practices (90.5%, 85%, 76.9%, 70.6%, 61.4%, 55.9%, and 52.5%, respectively) in addition to medical massage (61.8%) and acupuncture (55%). One hundred and fifteen (80%) physicians were ready to talk with their patients on CAM.
Conclusion:
The willingness to improve knowledge and create a positive attitude in health professionals toward CAM has increased. Religious practices, especially those related to prophetic medicine, are more common in the region. Health educational organizations have to play a greater role by being the source of evidence-based knowledge of CAM. Talking on CAM with patients should be improved by rooting them on evidence-based practices.
doi:10.4103/2230-8229.98290
PMCID: PMC3410186  PMID: 22870412
Alternative; complementary; prophetic medicine; health educational organizations; health institutes ; health professionals; knowledge; attitude; mass media; Saudi Arabia
21.  Characteristics and Impact of Drug Detailing for Gabapentin 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e134.
Background
Sales visits by pharmaceutical representatives (“drug detailing”) are common, but little is known about the content of these visits or about the impact of visit characteristics on prescribing behavior. In this study, we evaluated the content and impact of detail visits for gabapentin by analyzing market research forms completed by physicians after receiving a detail visit for this drug.
Methods and Findings
Market research forms that describe detail visits for gabapentin became available through litigation that alleged that gabapentin was promoted for “off-label” uses. Forms were available for 97 physicians reporting on 116 detail visits between 1995 and 1999. Three-quarters of recorded visits (91/116) occurred in 1996. Two-thirds of visits (72/107) were 5 minutes or less in duration, 65% (73/113) were rated of high informational value, and 39% (42/107) were accompanied by the delivery or promise of samples. During the period of this study, gabapentin was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration only for the adjunctive treatment of partial seizures, but in 38% of visits (44/115) the “main message” of the visit involved at least one off-label use. After receiving the detail visit, 46% (50/108) of physicians reported the intention to increase their prescribing or recommending of gabapentin in the future. In multivariable analysis, intent to increase future use or recommendation of gabapentin was associated with receiving the detail in a small group (versus one-on-one) setting and with low or absent baseline use of the drug, but not with other factors such as visit duration, discussion of “on-label” versus “off-label” content, and the perceived informational value of the presentation.
Conclusions
Detail visits for gabapentin were of high perceived informational value and often involved messages about unapproved uses. Despite their short duration, detail visits were frequently followed by physician intentions to increase their future recommending or prescribing of the drug.
Visits from pharmaceutical representatives regarding gabapentin "detailing" were frequently followed by physician intentions to increase their future activity with the drug.
Editors' Summary
Background.
In the US, before a pharmaceutical company can market a drug to doctors for use in a specific “indication” (meaning the treatment for a particular disease and group of patients), the drug has to be approved as safe and effective for that use by a government agency, the Food and Drug Administration. Once approved, doctors are allowed to use a drug for whatever nonapproved indications they think are appropriate, but the drug company cannot actively promote the drug for anything other than its approved use. However, many people are concerned that drug companies indirectly try to promote use of drugs for indications that are not approved. Such illegal activity would help a drug company increase its market share and sell more drugs. One tactic that drug companies use to sell drugs is “detailing.” Detailing involves direct visits from drug company representatives to individual doctors, during which the representative would provide information about their company's drugs. However, not a great deal is known about detail visits and the effect that they have on doctors' attitudes towards the drugs that are being promoted.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers carrying out this study wanted to learn more about what happens during detail visits and what impact these visits have on prescribing behavior. An opportunity for researching this came about as a result of a lawsuit during which drug company documents were subpoenaed (i.e., required by the court to be made available). In that lawsuit, it was alleged that a drug company, Parke-Davis, had promoted a drug, gabapentin, for many nonapproved uses. The company that subsequently took over Parke-Davis eventually made an out-of-court settlement. During the relevant time period, the only approved use of gabapentin was for treatment of partial seizures in adults with epilepsy, in combination with other drugs. However, gabapentin was used for many other conditions such as treatment of psychiatric disorders and management of pain. These researchers therefore used the documents available as a result of the lawsuit to research detailing and what impact detailing had on doctors' attitudes towards the drug being promoted.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The documents analyzed in this study were produced by Verispan, a market research company. Verispan asked doctors who had been visited by Parke-Davis sales representatives to fill out a standard form after each detail visit. These forms were then subpoenaed as part of the lawsuit against Parke-Davis. The researchers here focused specifically on data relating to visits made by a single sales representative to a doctor or small group of doctors, and collected 116 forms. The data available from these forms included the doctors' ratings and comments regarding the main message associated with the products; the informational value of the visit; the quality of the presentation; and whether the doctor currently prescribed or planned to prescribe the product. The researchers classified the information available from the forms, identifying whether the “main message” related to approved uses of the drug or not; and extracting data relating to whether doctors planned to increase, maintain, or decrease their use of the drug. The majority of the visits studied were to doctors who were not neurologists, and would therefore be unlikely to prescribe gabapentin for its approved use. Doctors reported that a substantial proportion of the detail visits contained messages relating to nonapproved uses of gabapentin. Nearly half the doctors stated in the forms that their use of gabapentin would increase in the future, and no doctors said that their use would decrease following the visit. Doctors' intention to increase their use of gabapentin in the future was similar regardless of whether the message of the visit involved an approved or unapproved use.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study shows that in the case of gabapentin, detail visits by drug company representatives frequently promoted nonapproved uses of the drug; these visits often resulted in doctors planning to increase their use of gabapentin. However, it is not clear whether these findings are also true for other drugs and drug companies, in part because these data came about as a result of a unique opportunity granted by the lawsuit against Parke-Davis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040134.
Medline Plus (provided by the US National Library of Medicine) has an entry about gabapentin
Introductory information is available from the US FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research about the drug approvals process in the USA
Wikipedia has an entry on pharmaceutical marketing (Note that Wikipedia is an internet encyclopedia anyone can edit)
The Drug Industry Document Archive is available at University of California, San Francisco; this internet archive holds documents relating to the lawsuit against Parke-Davis and from which the data presented in this paper derives
Guidance is available from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations regarding ethical promotion of medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040134
PMCID: PMC1855692  PMID: 17455990
22.  Task Shifting for Scale-up of HIV Care: Evaluation of Nurse-Centered Antiretroviral Treatment at Rural Health Centers in Rwanda 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000163.
Fabienne Shumbusho and colleagues evaluate a task-shifting model of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment prescribing in rural primary health centers in Rwanda and find that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
Background
The shortage of human resources for health, and in particular physicians, is one of the major barriers to achieve universal access to HIV care and treatment. In September 2005, a pilot program of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment (ART) prescription was launched in three rural primary health centers in Rwanda. We retrospectively evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of this task-shifting model using descriptive data.
Methods and Findings
Medical records of 1,076 patients enrolled in HIV care and treatment services from September 2005 to March 2008 were reviewed to assess: (i) compliance with national guidelines for ART eligibility and prescription, and patient monitoring and (ii) key outcomes, such as retention, body weight, and CD4 cell count change at 6, 12, 18, and 24 mo after ART initiation. Of these, no ineligible patients were started on ART and only one patient received an inappropriate ART prescription. Of the 435 patients who initiated ART, the vast majority had adherence and side effects assessed at each clinic visit (89% and 84%, respectively). By March 2008, 390 (90%) patients were alive on ART, 29 (7%) had died, one (<1%) was lost to follow-up, and none had stopped treatment. Patient retention was about 92% by 12 mo and 91% by 24 mo. Depending on initial stage of disease, mean CD4 cell count increased between 97 and 128 cells/µl in the first 6 mo after treatment initiation and between 79 and 129 cells/µl from 6 to 24 mo of treatment. Mean weight increased significantly in the first 6 mo, between 1.8 and 4.3 kg, with no significant increases from 6 to 24 mo.
Conclusions
Patient outcomes in our pilot program compared favorably with other ART cohorts in sub-Saharan Africa and with those from a recent evaluation of the national ART program in Rwanda. These findings suggest that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a serious health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. The virus attacks white blood cells that protect against infection, most commonly a type of white blood cell called CD4. When a person has been infected with HIV for a long time, the number of CD4 cells they have goes down, resulting in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), in which the person's immune system no longer functions effectively.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the disease into four stages as it progresses, according to symptoms including weight loss and so-called opportunistic infections. These are known as clinical stage I, II, III, or IV but were revised and renamed 1, 2, 3, and 4 in September 2005. HIV infection and AIDS cannot be cured but they can be managed with antiretroviral treatment (ART). The WHO currently recommends that ART is begun when the CD4 count falls below 350.
Rwanda is a country situated in the central Africa with a population of around 9 million inhabitants; over 3% of the rural population and 7% of the urban population are infected with HIV. In 2007, the WHO estimated that 220,000 Rwandan children had lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Why Was This Study Done?
The WHO estimates that 9.7 million people with HIV in low- to middle-income countries need ART but at the end of 2007, only 30% of these, including in Rwanda, had access to treatment. In many low-income countries a major factor in this is a lack of doctors. Rwanda, for example, has one doctor per 50,000 inhabitants and one nurse per 3,900 inhabitants.
This situation has led the WHO to recommend “task shifting,” i.e., that the task of prescribing ART should be shifted from doctors to nurses so that more patients can be treated. This type of reorganization is well studied in high-income countries, but the researchers wanted to help develop a system for treating AIDS that would be effective and timely in a predominantly rural, low-income setting such as Rwanda.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In conjunction with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the researchers developed and piloted a task-shifting program, in which one nurse in each of three rural Rwandan primary health centers (PHCs) was trained to examine HIV patients and prescribe ART in simple cases. Nurses had to complete more than 50 consultations observed by the doctor before being permitted to consult patients independently. More complex cases were referred to a doctor. The authors developed standard checklists, instructions, and evaluation forms to guide nurses and the doctors who supervised them once a week.
The authors evaluated the pilot program by reviewing the records of 1,076 patients who enrolled on it between September 2005 and March 2008. They looked to see whether the nurses had followed guidelines and monitored the patients correctly. They also considered health outcomes for the patients, such as their death rate, their body weight, their CD4 cell count, and whether they maintained contact with caregivers.
They found that by March 2008, 451 patients had been eligible for ART. 435 received treatment and none of the patients were prescribed ART when they should not have been. Only one prescription did not follow national guidelines.
At every visit, nurses were supposed to assess whether patients were taking their drugs and to monitor side effects. They did this and maintained records correctly for the vast majority of the 435 patients who were prescribed ART. 390 patients (over 90%) of the 435 prescribed receiving ART continued to take it and maintain contact with the pilot PHC's program. 29 patients died. Only one was lost to follow up and the others transferred to another ART site. The majority gained weight in the first six months and their CD4 cell counts rose. Outcomes, including death rate, were similar to those treated on the (doctor-led) Rwandan national ART program and other sub-Saharan African national (doctor-led) programs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The study suggests that nurses are able to prescribe ART safely and effectively in a rural sub-Saharan setting, given sufficient training, mentoring, and support. Nurse-led prescribing of ART could mean that timely, appropriate treatment reaches many more HIV patients. It would reduce the burden of HIV care for doctors, freeing their time for other duties, and the study is already being used by the Rwandan Ministry of Health as a basis for plans to adopt a task-shifting strategy for the national ART program.
The study does have some limitations. The pilot program was funded and designed as a health project to deliver ART in rural areas, rather than a research project to compare nurse-led and doctor-led ART programs. There was no group of equivalent patients treated by doctors rather than nurses for direct comparison, although the authors did compare outcomes with those achieved nationally for doctor-led ART. The most promising sites, nurses, and patients were selected for the pilot and careful monitoring may have been an additional motivation for the nurses and doctors taking part. Health professionals in a scaled-up program may not be as committed as those in the pilot, who were carefully monitored. In addition, the nature of the pilot, which lasted for under three years and recruited new patients throughout, meant that patients were followed up for relatively short periods.
The authors also warn that they did not consider in this study the changes task shifting will make to doctors' roles and the skills required of both doctors and nurses. They recommend that task shifting should be implemented as part of a wider investment in health systems, human resources, training, adapted medical records, tools, and protocols.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000163.
PLoS Medicine includes a page collecting together its recent articles on HIV infection and AIDS that includes research articles, perspectives, editorials, and policy forums
SciDev.net provides news, views, and information about science, technology, and the developing world, including a section specific to HIV/AIDs
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a downloadable booklet Task Shifting to Tackle Health Worker Shortages
The WHO offers information on HIV and AIDS (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) as well as health information and fact sheets on individual countries, including on Rwanda
The UNAIDS/WHO working group on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Surveillance gathers and publishes data on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in individual countries, including on Rwanda
AIDS.ORG provides information to help prevent HIV infections and to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS. Factsheets on many aspects of HIV and AIDS are available. It is the official online publisher of AIDS Treatment News
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000163
PMCID: PMC2752160  PMID: 19823569
23.  A qualitative study on the breastfeeding experiences of first-time mothers in Vientiane, Lao PDR 
Background
The benefits of breastfeeding are well-recognised. The majority of first-time mothers in the Lao People's Democratic Republic however do not follow WHO guidelines of exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months, and less than half breastfeed for two years. UNICEF identified lack of exclusive breastfeeding as the second highest risk factor for under 5 mortality in Lao PDR, closely following lack of skilled delivery care. This study explored the reasons and influences behind first-time mothers' breastfeeding practices, as well as the role of attitudes, beliefs and experiences in influencing those practices.
Methods
A qualitative research design was chosen for this exploratory study. Two districts in Vientiane were selected, and in each district four focus group discussions, two with six first-time mothers and two with health staff were undertaken. In addition, sixteen in-depth interviews with first-time mothers and seven individual key informants were conducted.
Results
Participants demonstrated positive attitudes towards breastfeeding and recognised its importance. Despite this, breastfeeding practices were suboptimal. Few exclusively breastfed for the first six months of the baby’s life and most of the first-time mothers included in the sample had stopped or planned to stop breastfeeding by the time the infant was 18 months of age. Work was named as one of the main reasons for less than ideal breastfeeding practices. Traditional beliefs and advice from health staff and the first-time mothers' own mothers, were important influences on breastfeeding practices. First-time mothers also cited experiencing tension when there were differences in advice they received from different people.
Conclusion
Overall, the mothers were well-informed on the benefits of breastfeeding, and displayed positive attitudes towards it. Nevertheless, few maintained optimal breastfeeding practices in the first two years of the infant’s life. Further effort needs to be directed at addressing knowledge and non-knowledge barriers to optimal breastfeeding practices. Of particular importance is working with employers, developing supportive employment policies, providing postnatal support and working with lay people and health professionals. Research is also needed to identify the optimal combination of interventions to promote good breastfeeding practices.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-13-223
PMCID: PMC4235169  PMID: 24304510
24.  Health workers' attitudes toward sexual and reproductive health services for unmarried adolescents in Ethiopia 
Reproductive Health  2012;9:19.
Background
Adolescents in developing countries face a range of sexual and reproductive health problems. Lack of health care service for reproductive health or difficulty in accessing them are among them. In this study we aimed to examine health care workers' attitudes toward sexual and reproductive health services to unmarried adolescents in Ethiopia.
Methods
We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional survey among 423 health care service providers working in eastern Ethiopia in 2010. A pre-tested structured questionnaire was used to collect data. Descriptive statistics, chi-square tests and logistic regression were performed to drive proportions and associations.
Results
The majority of health workers had positive attitudes. However, nearly one third (30%) of health care workers had negative attitudes toward providing RH services to unmarried adolescents. Close to half (46.5%) of the respondents had unfavorable responses toward providing family planning to unmarried adolescents. About 13% of health workers agreed to setting up penal rules and regulations against adolescents that practice pre-marital sexual intercourse. The multivariate analysis indicated that being married (OR 2.15; 95% CI 1.44 - 3.06), lower education level (OR 1.45; 95% CI 1.04 - 1.99), being a health extension worker (OR 2.49; 95% CI 1.43 - 4.35), lack of training on reproductive health services (OR 5.27; 95% CI 1.51 - 5.89) to be significantly associated with negative attitudes toward provision of sexual and reproductive services to adolescents.
Conclusions
The majority of the health workers had generally positive attitudes toward sexual and reproductive health to adolescents. However, a minority has displayed negatives attitudes. Such negative attitudes will be barriers to service utilization by adolescents and hampers the efforts to reduce sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies among unmarried adolescents. We therefore call for a targeted effort toward alleviating negative attitudes toward adolescent-friendly reproductive health service and re-enforcing the positive ones.
doi:10.1186/1742-4755-9-19
PMCID: PMC3500724  PMID: 22943476
25.  KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDE AND PRACTICE OF PRIMARY HEALTH CARE DOCTORS AND NURSES IN HYPERTENSION OF PREGNANCY 
Objective:
To assess the status of knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of doctors and nurses in Primary Health Care (PHC) centers with regard to hypertension in pregnancy and to identify factors associated with KAP in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
Methodology:
Using a self-administered comprehensive questionnaire, all available doctors and nurses in PHC centers of the Al-Khobar area were approached to determine their knowledge, attitude and practice in hypertension during pregnancy. Questionnaires were validated and pilot tested. Each section of the questionnaire was scored and the mean scores calculated. Factors affecting each section were identified by means of multiple regression analysis.
Results:
A total of 36 doctors and 91 nurses were enrolled in the study. Saudis formed 22.2% of the doctors and 47.3% of nurses. Mean years of practice after graduation were 12.6 and 8.7 years for doctors and nurses, respectively. Saudi nurses spend only 3 weeks in the obstetrics ward during the whole period of their internship. All Saudi nurses hold only diplomas and not many courses on the hypertensive disorder are offered to both doctors and nurses after graduation. The practice of doctors particularly in the management of patients after reaching a diagnosis and educating them on diet and salt intake was poor. Furthermore, their knowledge was also poor. Though their level of knowledge was poor, the nurses’ practice was satisfactory, particularly in taking history and physical examination. The attitude of both doctors and nurses towards hypertensive disorders was in general, positive and satisfactory towards health education. Nurses’ nationality and duration of post-internship training were the factors that influenced their attitude and scores on knowledge.
Conclusion and recommendation:
The study revealed that both doctors and nurses working in the PHC lacked training and knowledge in this area of their work. It is therefore necessary to give PHC doctors and nurses refresher courses on common and serious problems like hypertension. A longer period of training in action management is needed to improve the knowledge and practice of doctors and nurses working in antenatal clinics in this area.
PMCID: PMC3437072  PMID: 23008595
Pregnancy hypertension; knowledge and practice; Antenatal care; Primary Health Care

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