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1.  Repeated primary care consultations for non-specific physical symptoms in children in UK: a cohort study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:195.
Non-specific physical symptoms (NSPS), such as headache and abdominal pain, are common reasons for children to consult primary care. NSPS represent a significant burden not only on society, but also on health care services, through frequent physician consultations and referrals to secondary care. Research evidence suggests a positive relationship between health and consulting behavior of parents and their children, but research on whether repeated physician consultations for NSPS in children is influenced by parental consultations for NSPS is lacking. The aim was to measure the frequency of repeated physician consultations for NSPS in children, and investigate whether this is influenced by maternal consultations for NSPS.
A cohort study of children registered with primary care practices contributing to the Consultation in Primary Care Archive database. Participants were child-mother pairs registered between January 2007 and December 2010. The cohort comprised all children (n = 1437) aged 2 to 16 years who consulted a physician for NSPS in 2009. Mothers’ consultations for NSPS were measured between 2007 and 2008. Main outcome measures were repetition and frequency of consultations for NSPS in children (consultations for NSPS in both 2009 and 2010).
Overall, 27% of children had repeated consultations for NSPS. The three most common repeated consultations were for back pain, constipation and abdominal pain. Exposure to maternal consultation for NSPS was associated with 21% increase in consultation frequency for NSPS (adjusted incidence rate ratio 1.21; 95% CI 1.12, 1.31). After adjusting for child age and maternal age, maternal consultation for NSPS was associated with an increased risk of repeated consultations for NSPS in children (relative risk 1.41; 95% CI 1.16, 1.73). This association was also significant for specific NSPS groups including painful, gastrointestinal, and neurologic symptoms.
Repeated consultation for NSPS is common among children. It is important for primary care physicians and secondary care clinicians, managing children referred from primary care for NSPS, to be aware that consultation for NSPS in mothers is a risk factor for repeated consultations for NSPS among children. More research is needed to uncover exactly how parental health influences health and consulting behavior of children.
PMCID: PMC4261613  PMID: 25477255
2.  Failure to consult for symptoms of heart failure in patients with a type‐D personality 
Heart  2007;93(7):814-818.
Self‐management and adequate consultation behaviour are essential for the successful treatment of chronic heart failure (CHF). Patients with a type‐D personality, characterised by high social inhibition and negative affectivity, may delay medical consultation despite increased symptom levels and may be at an increased risk for adverse clinical outcomes.
To examine whether type‐D personality predicts poor self‐management and failure to consult for evident cardiac symptoms in patients with CHF.
178 outpatients with CHF (aged ⩽80 years) completed the type‐D Personality Scale at baseline, and the Health Complaints Scale (symptoms) and European Heart Failure Self‐care Behaviour Scale (self‐management) at 2 months of follow‐up. Medical information was obtained from the patients' medical records.
At follow‐up, patients with a type‐D personality experienced more cardiac symptoms (OR 6.4; 95% CI 2.5 to 16.3, p<0.001) and more often appraised these symptoms as worrisome (OR 2.9; 95% CI 1.3 to 6.6, p<0.01) compared with patients with a non‐type‐D personality. Paradoxically, patients with a type‐D personality were less likely to report these symptoms to their cardiologist/nurse, as indicated by an increased risk for inadequate consultation behaviour (OR 2.7; 95% CI 1.2 to 6.0, p<0.05), adjusting for demographics, CHF severity/aetiology, time since diagnosis and medication. Accordingly, of 61 patients with CHF who failed to consult for evident cardiac symptoms, 43% had a type‐D personality (n = 26). Of the remaining 108 patients with CHF, only 14% (n = 16) had a type‐D personality.
Patients with CHF with a type‐D personality display inadequate self‐management. Failure to consult for increased symptom levels may partially explain the adverse effect of type‐D personality on cardiac prognosis.
PMCID: PMC1994460  PMID: 17344329
3.  Revisiting the symptom iceberg in today's primary care: results from a UK population survey 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:16.
Recent changes in UK primary care have increased the range of services and healthcare professionals available for advice. Furthermore, the UK government has promoted greater use of both self-care and the wider primary care team for managing symptoms indicative of self-limiting illness. We do not know how the public has been responding to these strategies. The aim of this study was to describe the current use of different management strategies in the UK for a range of symptoms and identify the demographic, socio-economic and symptom characteristics associated with these different approaches.
An age and sex stratified random sample of 8,000 adults (aged 18-60), drawn from twenty general practices across the UK, were sent a postal questionnaire. The questionnaire collected detailed information on 25 physical and psychological symptoms ranging from those usually indicative of minor illness to those which could be indicative of serious conditions. Information on symptom characteristics, actions taken to manage the symptoms and demographic/socio-economic details were also collected.
Just under half of all symptoms reported resulted in respondents doing nothing at all. Lay-care was used for 35% of symptoms and primary care health professionals were consulted for 12% of symptoms. OTC medicine use was the most common lay-care strategy (used for 25% of all symptom episodes). The GP was the most common health professional consulted (consulted for 8% of all symptom episodes) while use of other primary care health professionals was very small (each consulted for less than 2% of symptom episodes). The actions taken for individual symptoms varied substantially although some broad patterns emerged. Symptom characteristics (in particular severity, duration and interference with daily life) were more commonly associated with actions taken than demographic or socio-economic characteristics.
While the use of lay-care was widespread, use of the primary care team other than the GP was low. Further research is needed to examine the public's knowledge and opinions of different primary care services to investigate why certain services are not being used to inform the future development of primary care services in the UK.
PMCID: PMC3083353  PMID: 21473756
Signs and symptoms; Symptom iceberg; Community-based; Health care services; Primary care
4.  Inequality in health and health service use for mothers of young children in south west England. Survey Team of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Pregnancy and Childhood Team. 
OBJECTIVE: To establish the degree of association between relative deprivation and any variation in condition specific morbidity and in consultations with general practitioners for mothers of young children. STUDY DESIGN: Condition specific morbidity and general practitioner consultation (GP) rates were recorded by means of self reports on a postal questionnaire. Subjects were asked to record whether they had suffered from any of 16 common conditions and, if so, whether they had consulted the GP. Relative deprivation was measured using indicators such as home ownership, overcrowded living conditions, car ownership, and partners' employment status. Information was also collected about the women's own employment status, their ages, and parity. SETTING: The three district health authorities of Bristol. All women expecting a baby between April 1991 and December 1992 were invited to participate. SUBJECTS: Altogether 11040 mothers who completed questionnaires about their own health and well being at 8 months postpartum as part of the Avon longitudinal study of pregnancy and childhood. OUTCOME MEASURES: The percentage of mothers reporting any of 16 common conditions since the birth of their child and the proportion of them who consulted the GP if a condition was reported. chi 2 tests of independence were used to examine the association between condition specific morbidity and social, demographic, and maternal characteristics. Latent class analysis was used to "cluster" mothers according to the particular configuration of social, demographic, and maternal characteristics associated with levels of morbidity for each of the six most commonly reported conditions. The probability of consulting a GP was then compared between clusters. RESULTS: Relative deprivation had a greater impact on morbidity and GP consultation for stress related conditions such as depression, anxiety, and headache/migraine. For all these conditions, higher levels of self reported morbidity and a greater probability of consulting the doctor were associated with a cluster of social disadvantage-living in rented accommodation, non-employment, younger age, and lower educational status. For other conditions such as backache, haemorrhoids, and cough/cold, however, higher morbidity was associated with a cluster of advantage-home ownership, uncrowded living conditions, use of car, and partner in employment. Where there was variation in the probability of consulting the GP for these conditions, it was linked to parity rather than socioeconomic factors. Higher levels of morbidity for all but one condition (backache) were also associated with having more than one child, but this cross-cut socioeconomic and demographic cluster characteristics; both more affluent, older mothers and younger, more deprived mothers were likely to be multiparous. CONCLUSIONS: Relative deprivation was associated with poorer mental but not physical health for this population of mothers of young children. These findings have implications for a more targeted approach to reducing inequality in health. The importance of examining inequality in health for women in relation to their own material circumstances, their employment status, and parity, is emphasised.
PMCID: PMC1060413  PMID: 9135792
5.  Outcome of low back pain in general practice: a prospective study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;316(7141):1356-1359.
Objectives: To investigate the claim that 90% of episodes of low back pain that present to general practice have resolved within one month.
Design: Prospective study of all adults consulting in general practice because of low back pain over 12 months with follow up at 1 week, 3 months, and 12 months after consultation.
Setting: Two general practices in south Manchester.
Subjects: 490 subjects (203 men, 287 women) aged 18-75 years.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of patients who have ceased to consult with low back pain after 3 months; proportion of patients who are free of pain and back related disability at 3 and 12 months.
Results: Annual cumulative consultation rate among adults in the practices was 6.4%. Of the 463 patients who consulted with a new episode of low back pain, 275 (59%) had only a single consultation, and 150 (32%) had repeat consultations confined to the 3 months after initial consultation. However, of those interviewed at 3 and 12 months follow up, only 39/188 (21%) and 42/170 (25%) respectively had completely recovered in terms of pain and disability.
Conclusions: The results are consistent with the interpretation that 90% of patients with low back pain in primary care will have stopped consulting with symptoms within three months. However most will still be experiencing low back pain and related disability one year after consultation.
Key messages It is widely believed that 90% of episodes of low back pain seen in general practice resolve within one month In a large population based study we examined the outcome of episodes of low back pain in general practice with respect to both consultation behaviour and self reported pain and disability While 90% of subjects consulting general practice with low back pain ceased to consult about the symptoms within three months, most still had substantial low back pain and related disability Only 25% of the patients who consulted about low back pain had fully recovered 12 months later Since most consulters continue to have long term low back pain and disability, effective early treatment could reduce the burden of these symptoms and their social, economic, and medical impact
PMCID: PMC28536  PMID: 9563990
6.  People with multiple unhealthy lifestyles are less likely to consult primary healthcare 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:126.
Behavioural interventions are often implemented within primary healthcare settings to prevent type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases. Although smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and poor diet are associated with poorer health that may lead a person to consult a general practitioner (GP), previous work has shown that unhealthy lifestyles cluster among low socioeconomic groups who are less likely to seek primary healthcare. Therefore, it is uncertain whether behavioural interventions in primary healthcare are reaching those in most need. This study investigated patterns of GP consultations in relation to the clustering of unhealthy lifestyles among a large sample of adults aged 45 years and older in New South Wales, Australia.
A total of 267,153 adults participated in the 45 and Up Study between 2006 and 2009, comprising 10% of the equivalent demographic in the state of New South Wales, Australia (response rate: 18%). All consultations with GPs within 6 months prior and post survey completion were identified (with many respondents attending multiple GPs) via linkage to Medicare Australia data. An index of unhealthy lifestyles was constructed from self-report data on adherence to published guidelines on smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and physical activity. Logistic and zero-truncated negative binomial regression models were used to analyse: (i) whether or not a person had at least one GP consultation within the study period; (ii) the count of GP consultations attended by each participant who visited a GP at least once. Analyses were adjusted for measures of health status, socioeconomic circumstances and other confounders.
After adjustment, participants scoring 7 unhealthy lifestyles were 24% more likely than persons scoring 0 unhealthy lifestyles not to have attended any GP consultation in the 12-month time period. Among those who attended at least one consultation, those with 7 unhealthy lifestyles reported 7% fewer consultations than persons with 0 unhealthy lifestyles. No effect modification was observed.
To optimise the prevention of lifestyle-related diseases, interventions for positive behavioural change need to incorporate non-primary healthcare settings in order to reach people with multiple unhealthy lifestyles.
PMCID: PMC4083035  PMID: 24965672
7.  Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
To assess the effectiveness of behavioural interventions for the treatment and management of urinary incontinence (UI) in community-dwelling seniors.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Urinary incontinence defined as “the complaint of any involuntary leakage of urine” was identified as 1 of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home. Urinary incontinence is a health problem that affects a substantial proportion of Ontario’s community-dwelling seniors (and indirectly affects caregivers), impacting their health, functioning, well-being and quality of life. Based on Canadian studies, prevalence estimates range from 9% to 30% for senior men and nearly double from 19% to 55% for senior women. The direct and indirect costs associated with UI are substantial. It is estimated that the total annual costs in Canada are $1.5 billion (Cdn), and that each year a senior living at home will spend $1,000 to $1,500 on incontinence supplies.
Interventions to treat and manage UI can be classified into broad categories which include lifestyle modification, behavioural techniques, medications, devices (e.g., continence pessaries), surgical interventions and adjunctive measures (e.g., absorbent products).
The focus of this review is behavioural interventions, since they are commonly the first line of treatment considered in seniors given that they are the least invasive options with no reported side effects, do not limit future treatment options, and can be applied in combination with other therapies. In addition, many seniors would not be ideal candidates for other types of interventions involving more risk, such as surgical measures.
Note: It is recognized that the terms “senior” and “elderly” carry a range of meanings for different audiences; this report generally uses the former, but the terms are treated here as essentially interchangeable.
Description of Technology/Therapy
Behavioural interventions can be divided into 2 categories according to the target population: caregiver-dependent techniques and patient-directed techniques. Caregiver-dependent techniques (also known as toileting assistance) are targeted at medically complex, frail individuals living at home with the assistance of a caregiver, who tends to be a family member. These seniors may also have cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits. A health care professional trains the senior’s caregiver to deliver an intervention such as prompted voiding, habit retraining, or timed voiding. The health care professional who trains the caregiver is commonly a nurse or a nurse with advanced training in the management of UI, such as a nurse continence advisor (NCA) or a clinical nurse specialist (CNS).
The second category of behavioural interventions consists of patient-directed techniques targeted towards mobile, motivated seniors. Seniors in this population are cognitively able, free from any major physical deficits, and motivated to regain and/or improve their continence. A nurse or a nurse with advanced training in UI management, such as an NCA or CNS, delivers the patient-directed techniques. These are often provided as multicomponent interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), education on bladder control strategies, and self-monitoring. Pelvic floor muscle training, defined as a program of repeated pelvic floor muscle contractions taught and supervised by a health care professional, may be employed as part of a multicomponent intervention or in isolation.
Education is a large component of both caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions, and patient and/or caregiver involvement as well as continued practice strongly affect the success of treatment. Incontinence products, which include a large variety of pads and devices for effective containment of urine, may be used in conjunction with behavioural techniques at any point in the patient’s management.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials that examined the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions for the treatment of UI in community-dwelling seniors (see Appendix 1).
Research Questions
Are caregiver-dependent behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in medically complex, frail community-dwelling seniors with/without cognitive deficits and/or motor deficits?
Are patient-directed behavioural interventions effective in improving UI in mobile, motivated community-dwelling seniors?
Are behavioural interventions delivered by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting effective in improving incontinence outcomes in community-dwelling seniors?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Executive Summary Table 1 summarizes the results of the analysis.
The available evidence was limited by considerable variation in study populations and in the type and severity of UI for studies examining both caregiver-directed and patient-directed interventions. The UI literature frequently is limited to reporting subjective outcome measures such as patient observations and symptoms. The primary outcome of interest, admission to a LTC home, was not reported in the UI literature. The number of eligible studies was low, and there were limited data on long-term follow-up.
Summary of Evidence on Behavioural Interventions for the Treatment of Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors
Prompted voiding
Habit retraining
Timed voiding
Bladder training
PFMT (with or without biofeedback)
Bladder control strategies
CI refers to confidence interval; CNS, clinical nurse specialist; NCA, nurse continence advisor; PFMT, pelvic floor muscle training; RCT, randomized controlled trial; WMD, weighted mean difference; UI, urinary incontinence.
Economic Analysis
A budget impact analysis was conducted to forecast costs for caregiver-dependent and patient-directed multicomponent behavioural techniques delivered by NCAs, and PFMT alone delivered by physiotherapists. All costs are reported in 2008 Canadian dollars. Based on epidemiological data, published medical literature and clinical expert opinion, the annual cost of caregiver-dependent behavioural techniques was estimated to be $9.2 M, while the annual costs of patient-directed behavioural techniques delivered by either an NCA or physiotherapist were estimated to be $25.5 M and $36.1 M, respectively. Estimates will vary if the underlying assumptions are changed.
Currently, the province of Ontario absorbs the cost of NCAs (available through the 42 Community Care Access Centres across the province) in the home setting. The 2007 Incontinence Care in the Community Report estimated that the total cost being absorbed by the public system of providing continence care in the home is $19.5 M in Ontario. This cost estimate included resources such as personnel, communication with physicians, record keeping and product costs. Clinic costs were not included in this estimation because currently these come out of the global budget of the respective hospital and very few continence clinics actually exist in the province. The budget impact analysis factored in a cost for the clinic setting, assuming that the public system would absorb the cost with this new model of community care.
Considerations for Ontario Health System
An expert panel on aging in the community met on 3 occasions from January to May 2008, and in part, discussed treatment of UI in seniors in Ontario with a focus on caregiver-dependent and patient-directed behavioural interventions. In particular, the panel discussed how treatment for UI is made available to seniors in Ontario and who provides the service. Some of the major themes arising from the discussions included:
Services/interventions that currently exist in Ontario offering behavioural interventions to treat UI are not consistent. There is a lack of consistency in how seniors access services for treatment of UI, who manages patients and what treatment patients receive.
Help-seeking behaviours are important to consider when designing optimal service delivery methods.
There is considerable social stigma associated with UI and therefore there is a need for public education and an awareness campaign.
The cost of incontinent supplies and the availability of NCAs were highlighted.
There is moderate-quality evidence that the following interventions are effective in improving UI in mobile motivated seniors:
Multicomponent behavioural interventions including a combination of bladder training techniques, PFMT (with or without biofeedback), education on bladder control strategies and self-monitoring techniques.
Pelvic floor muscle training alone.
There is moderate quality evidence that when behavioural interventions are led by NCAs or CNSs in a clinic setting, they are effective in improving UI in seniors.
There is limited low-quality evidence that prompted voiding may be effective in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers.
There is insufficient evidence for the following interventions in medically complex, frail seniors with motivated caregivers:
habit retraining, and
timed voiding.
PMCID: PMC3377527  PMID: 23074508
8.  Factors affecting the decision to consult with dyspepsia: comparison of consulters and non-consulters. 
To identify factors associated with the decision to consult with dyspepsia, patients with dyspepsia were identified from a postal survey in the community. A random sample of 69 patients who had consulted their general practitioner and 66 patients with dyspepsia who had not consulted were interviewed in their homes. Differences in consultation behaviour were not explained by differences in self-reported severity or frequency of symptoms or by the presence of associated symptoms. The most striking difference between the two groups was concern among the consulters about the possible seriousness of symptoms. Consulters were also more likely to be worried about cancer and heart disease and to have experienced more disruptive or threatening life events than the non-consulters. These results emphasize the importance of looking beyond the presentation of common symptoms in general practice to patients' fears about the significance of the symptoms and to non-physical determinants of consultation behaviour.
PMCID: PMC1712216  PMID: 2558204
9.  Depersonalised doctors: a cross-sectional study of 564 doctors, 760 consultations and 1876 patient reports in UK general practice 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000274.
The objectives of this study were to assess burnout in a sample of general practitioners (GPs), to determine factors associated with depersonalisation and to investigate its impact on doctors' consultations with patients.
Cross-sectional, postal survey of GPs using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Patient survey and tape-recording of consultations for a subsample of respondents stratified by their MBI scores, gender and duration of General Medical Council registration.
UK general practice.
GPs within NHS Essex.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Scores on MBI subscales (depersonalisation, emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment); scores on Doctors' Interpersonal Skills Questionnaire and patient-centredness scores attributed to tape-recorded consultations by independent observers.
In the postal survey, 564/789 (71%) GPs completed the MBI. High levels of emotional exhaustion (261/564 doctors, 46%) and depersonalisation (237 doctors, 42%) and low levels of personal accomplishment (190 doctors, 34%) were reported. Depersonalisation scores were related to characteristics of the doctor and the practice. Male doctors reported significantly higher (p<0.001) depersonalisation than female doctors. Doctors registered with the General Medical Council under 20 years had significantly higher (p=0.005) depersonalisation scores than those registered for longer. Doctors in group practices had significantly higher (p=0.001) depersonalisation scores than single-handed practitioners. Thirty-eight doctors agreed to complete the patient survey (n=1876 patients) and audio-record consultations (n=760 consultations). Depersonalised doctors were significantly more likely (p=0.03) to consult with patients who reported seeing their ‘usual doctor’. There were no significant associations between doctors' depersonalisation and their patient-rated interpersonal skills or observed patient-centredness.
This is the largest number of doctors completing the MBI with the highest levels of depersonalisation reported. Despite experiencing substantial depersonalisation, doctors' feelings of burnout were not detected by patients or independent observers. Such levels of burnout are, however, worrying and imply a need for action by doctors themselves, their medical colleagues, professional bodies, healthcare organisations and the Department of Health.
Article summary
Article focus
A cross-sectional survey was designed to assess levels of burnout in a census sample of GPs in Essex, UK, and to determine which doctor- or practice-related variables predicted higher levels of burnout.
In the substudy, patients rated the interpersonal skills of their doctor and independent observers assessed the degree of patient-centredness in a sample of the doctors' audio-taped consultations.
Key messages
High levels of burnout were reported in the census survey—46% doctors reported emotional exhaustion, 42% reported depersonalisation and 34% reported low levels of personal accomplishment.
Doctors' depersonalisation scores could be predicted by a range of variables relating to the individual doctor and their practice, but higher depersonalisation scores were not associated with poorer patient ratings of the doctors' interpersonal skills or a reduction in the patient-centredness of their consultations.
While the professional practice and patient-centredness of consultations of the GPs in this study were not affected by feelings of burnout, there is a need to offer help and support for doctors who are experiencing this.
Strengths and limitations of this study
A high response rate (71%) was achieved in the census sample of GPs completing the MBI and a subsample of 38 doctors who satisfied the predetermined sample stratification consented to further assessment (patient survey and audio-taping of consultations).
The study was, however, limited to one county in the UK and thus cannot be extrapolated to other parts of the UK.
There was a differential response rate by the gender of the participant. Male doctors who were registered with the General Medical Council for >20 years were less likely to respond to the survey than their female counterparts.
PMCID: PMC3274717  PMID: 22300669
10.  The role of oak pollen in hay fever consultations in general practice and the factors influencing patients' decisions to consult. 
BACKGROUND: Patients often consult for hay fever before significant counts of grass pollen are recorded, and this has prompted the question, 'Are symptoms already present or are patients consulting to obtain medication in anticipation?' AIM: The study is concerned with the relationship between hay fever symptoms and pollens, and also with the impact of the media on patient consulting behaviour. METHOD: Symptom questionnaires were presented to patients consulting with hay fever for the first time that year in 1994 in four Birmingham practices. The questionnaire concerned the nature and duration of symptoms and the influence of the media on their decision to consult. Incidence data collected over the spring and summer periods (1989-1995) in the Weekly Returns Service (WRS) were examined in relation to pollen counts reported by the Midlands Asthma and Allergy Research Association at Derby. Data are presented for oak, birch and grass pollen, but other pollen data including rape, nettle and other trees were also examined. RESULTS: Questionnaire data from 1994 were analysed in two periods starting from 4 April: early (day 1-60) and late (day 61-124). Out of the 364 subjects, 38% consulted in the early period and 62% in the late period. Altogether, 41% developed symptoms before the start of the grass pollen season. Overall, 91% of patients first consulting in the early period had already experienced symptoms compared with 99% late period and were not simply collecting prescriptions in anticipation. The influence of the media on consultation behaviour was very small, except in children, 23% of whom (or their parents) were reported to be influenced. The new episode data from the WRS examined over 7 years showed an early peak that was coterminous with oak pollen, and a later and higher peak with grass pollen. CONCLUSION: The consistency of the relationship between oak pollen and the early peak of hay fever over the years examined suggests that oak pollen is a major cause of hay fever symptoms.
PMCID: PMC1239713  PMID: 8949322
11.  Behavioural Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes 
Executive Summary
In June 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Diabetes Strategy Evidence Project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding strategies for successful management and treatment of diabetes. This project came about when the Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the Ministry’s newly released Diabetes Strategy.
After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified five key areas in which evidence was needed. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these five areas: insulin pumps, behavioural interventions, bariatric surgery, home telemonitoring, and community based care. For each area, an economic analysis was completed where appropriate and is described in a separate report.
To review these titles within the Diabetes Strategy Evidence series, please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,,
Diabetes Strategy Evidence Platform: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion Pumps for Type 1 and Type 2 Adult Diabetics: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Bariatric Surgery for People with Diabetes and Morbid Obesity: An Evidence-Based Summary
Community-Based Care for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telemonitoring for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Application of the Ontario Diabetes Economic Model (ODEM) to Determine the Cost-effectiveness and Budget Impact of Selected Type 2 Diabetes Interventions in Ontario
The objective of this report is to determine whether behavioural interventions1 are effective in improving glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious chronic condition affecting millions of people worldwide and is the sixth leading cause of death in Canada. In 2005, an estimated 8.8% of Ontario’s population had diabetes, representing more than 816,000 Ontarians. The direct health care cost of diabetes was $1.76 billion in the year 2000 and is projected to rise to a total cost of $3.14 billion by 2016. Much of this cost arises from the serious long-term complications associated with the disease including: coronary heart disease, stroke, adult blindness, limb amputations and kidney disease.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90–95% of diabetes and while type 2 diabetes is more prevalent in people aged 40 years and older, prevalence in younger populations is increasing due to a rise in obesity and physical inactivity in children.
Data from the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS) has shown that tight glycemic control can significantly reduce the risk of developing serious complications in type 2 diabetics. Despite physicians’ and patients’ knowledge of the importance of glycemic control, Canadian data has shown that only 38% of patients with diabetes have HbA1C levels in the optimal range of 7% or less. This statistic highlights the complexities involved in the management of diabetes, which is characterized by extensive patient involvement in addition to the support provided by physicians. An enormous demand is, therefore, placed on patients to self-manage the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of living with a chronic illness.
Despite differences in individual needs to cope with diabetes, there is general agreement for the necessity of supportive programs for patient self-management. While traditional programs were didactic models with the goal of improving patients’ knowledge of their disease, current models focus on behavioural approaches aimed at providing patients with the skills and strategies required to promote and change their behaviour.
Several meta-analyses and systematic reviews have demonstrated improved health outcomes with self-management support programs in type 2 diabetics. They have all, however, either looked at a specific component of self-management support programs (i.e. self-management education) or have been conducted in specific populations. Most reviews are also qualitative and do not clearly define the interventions of interest, making findings difficult to interpret. Moreover, heterogeneity in the interventions has led to conflicting evidence on the components of effective programs. There is thus much uncertainty regarding the optimal design and delivery of these programs by policymakers.
Evidence-Based Analysis of Effectiveness
Research Questions
Are behavioural interventions effective in improving glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes?
Is the effectiveness of the intervention impacted by intervention characteristics (e.g. delivery of intervention, length of intervention, mode of instruction, interventionist etc.)?
Inclusion Criteria
English Language
Published between January 1996 to August 2008
Type 2 diabetic adult population (>18 years)
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs)
Systematic reviews, or meta-analyses
Describing a multi-faceted self-management support intervention as defined by the 2007 Self-Management Mapping Guide (1)
Reporting outcomes of glycemic control (HbA1c) with extractable data
Studies with a minimum of 6-month follow up
Exclusion Criteria
Studies with a control group other than usual care
Studies with a sample size <30
Studies without a clearly defined intervention
Outcomes of Interest
Primary outcome: glycemic control (HbA1c)
Secondary outcomes: systolic blood pressure (SBP) control, lipid control, change in smoking status, weight change, quality of life, knowledge, self-efficacy, managing psychosocial aspects of diabetes, assessing dissatisfaction and readiness to change, and setting and achieving diabetes goals.
Search Strategy
A search was performed in OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published between January 1996 and August 2008. Abstracts were reviewed by a single author and studies meeting the inclusion criteria outlined above were obtained. Data on population characteristics, glycemic control outcomes, and study design were extracted. Reference lists were also checked for relevant studies. The quality of the evidence was assessed as being either high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE methodology.
Summary of Findings
The search identified 638 citations published between 1996 and August 2008, of which 12 met the inclusion criteria and one was a meta-analysis (Gary et al. 2003). The remaining 11 studies were RCTs (9 were used in the meta-analysis) and only one was defined as small (total sample size N=47).
Summary of Participant Demographics across studies
A total of 2,549 participants were included in the 11 identified studies. The mean age of participants reported was approximately 58 years and the mean duration of diabetes was approximately 6 years. Most studies reported gender with a mean percentage of females of approximately 67%. Of the eleven studies, two focused only on women and four included only Hispanic individuals. All studies evaluated type 2 diabetes patients exclusively.
Study Characteristics
The studies were conducted between 2002 and 2008. Approximately six of 11 studies were carried out within the USA, with the remaining studies conducted in the UK, Sweden, and Israel (sample size ranged from 47 to 824 participants). The quality of the studies ranged from moderate to low with four of the studies being of moderate quality and the remaining seven of low quality (based on the Consort Checklist). Differences in quality were mainly due to methodological issues such as inadequate description of randomization, sample size calculation allocation concealment, blinding and uncertainty of the use of intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis. Patients were recruited from several settings: six studies from primary or general medical practices, three studies from the community (e.g. via advertisements), and two from outpatient diabetes clinics. A usual care control group was reported in nine of 11 of the studies and two studies reported some type of minimal diabetes care in addition to usual care for the control group.
Intervention Characteristics
All of the interventions examined in the studies were mapped to the 2007 Self-management Mapping Guide. The interventions most often focused on problem solving, goal setting and encouraging participants to engage in activities that protect and promote health (e.g. modifying behaviour, change in diet, and increase physical activity). All of the studies examined comprehensive interventions targeted at least two self-care topics (e.g. diet, physical activity, blood glucose monitoring, foot care, etc.). Despite the homogeneity in the aims of the interventions, there was substantial clinical heterogeneity in other intervention characteristics such as duration, intensity, setting, mode of delivery (group vs. individual), interventionist, and outcomes of interest (discussed below).
Duration, Intensity and Mode of Delivery
Intervention durations ranged from 2 days to 1 year, with many falling into the range of 6 to 10 weeks. The rest of the interventions fell into categories of ≤ 2 weeks (2 studies), 6 months (2 studies), or 1 year (3 studies). Intensity of the interventions varied widely from 6 hours over 2 days, to 52 hours over 1 year; however, the majority consisted of interventions of 6 to 15 hours. Both individual and group sessions were used to deliver interventions. Group counselling was used in five studies as a mode of instruction, three studies used both individual and group sessions, and one study used individual sessions as its sole mode of instruction. Three studies also incorporated the use of telephone support as part of the intervention.
Interventionists and Setting
The following interventionists were reported (highest to lowest percentage, categories not mutually exclusive): nurse (36%), dietician (18%), physician (9%), pharmacist (9%), peer leader/community worker (18%), and other (36%). The ‘other’ category included interventionists such as consultants and facilitators with unspecified professional backgrounds. The setting of most interventions was community-based (seven studies), followed by primary care practices (three studies). One study described an intervention conducted in a pharmacy setting.
Duration of follow up of the studies ranged from 6 months to 8 years with a median follow-up duration of 12 months. Nine studies followed up patients at a minimum of two time points. Despite clear reporting of outcomes at follow up time points, there was poor reporting on whether the follow up was measured from participant entry into study or from end of intervention. All studies reported measures of glycemic control, specifically HbA1c levels. BMI was measured in five studies, while body weight was reported in two studies. Cholesterol was examined in three studies and blood pressure reduction in two. Smoking status was only examined in one of the studies. Additional outcomes examined in the trials included patient satisfaction, quality of life, diabetes knowledge, diabetes medication reduction, and behaviour modification (i.e. daily consumption of fruits/vegetables, exercise etc). Meta-analysis of the studies identified a moderate but significant reduction in HbA1c levels -0.44% 95%CI: -0.60, -0.29) for behavioural interventions in comparison to usual care for adults with type 2 diabetes. Subgroup analyses suggested the largest effects in interventions which were of at least duration and interventions in diabetics with higher baseline HbA1c (≥9.0). The quality of the evidence according to GRADE for the overall estimate was moderate and the quality of evidence for the subgroup analyses was identified as low.
Summary of Meta-Analysis of Studies Investigating the Effectiveness of Behavioural Interventions on HbA1c in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.
Based on one study
Based on moderate quality evidence, behavioural interventions as defined by the 2007 Self-management mapping guide (Government of Victoria, Australia) produce a moderate reduction in HbA1c levels in patients with type 2 diabetes compared with usual care.
Based on low quality evidence, the interventions with the largest effects are those:
- in diabetics with higher baseline HbA1c (≥9.0)
- in which the interventions were of at least 1 year in duration
PMCID: PMC3377516  PMID: 23074526
12.  Predicting who develops chronic low back pain in primary care: a prospective study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7199):1662-1667.
To quantify the relative contribution of premorbid and episode specific factors in determining the long term persistence of disabling symptoms of low back pain.
Prospective cohort study.
Two general practices in the south Manchester area.
180 patients, who previously participated in a cross sectional population survey, who consulted because of low back pain during the study period. They were followed at 1 week and 3 and 12 months after consultation.
Main outcome measure
Persistent disabling low back pain in the 12 months after the consultation.
Disabling low back pain persisted in one third of participants after consultation and was more common with increasing age, among those with a history of low back pain, and in women. Persistence of symptoms was associated with “premorbid” factors (high levels of psychological distress (odds ratio 3.3; 95% confidence interval 1.5 to 7.2), poor self rated health (3.6; 1.9 to 6.8), low levels of physical activity (2.8; 1.4 to 5.6), smoking (2.1; 1.0 to 4.3), dissatisfaction with employment (2.4; 1.3 to 4.5)) and factors related to the episode of low back pain (duration of symptoms, pain radiating to the leg (2.6; 1.3 to 5.1), widespread pain (6.4; 2.7 to 15), and restriction in spinal mobility). A multivariate model based on six factors identified groups whose likelihood of persistent symptoms ranged from 6% to 70%.
The presence of persistent low back pain is determined not only by clinical factors associated with pain but also by the premorbid state.
Key messagesAlthough many episodes of acute low back pain will resolve rapidly, around 30% result in persistent disabling symptomsThe presence of persistent low back pain is not only determined by clinical factors at the time of onset but also by the “premorbid” statePatients with these adverse prognostic factors represent a group in which effective interventions may result in substantially reduced morbidity and healthcare costs
PMCID: PMC28145  PMID: 10373170
13.  Couple Perceptions of Fibromyalgia Symptoms: The Role of Communication 
Pain  2013;154(11):10.1016/j.pain.2013.07.018.
The objectives of the current study were to 1) describe fibromyalgia patient-spouse incongruence regarding patient pain, fatigue, and physical function and 2) examine the associations of individual and interpersonal factors with patient-spouse incongruence. Two hundred four fibromyalgia patients and their co-residing partners rated the patient’s symptoms and function. Multilevel modeling revealed that spouses, on average, rated patient fatigue significantly lower than patients. Couple incongruence was not significantly different from zero, on average, for pain severity, interference, or physical function. However, there was significant variability across couples in how they rated the severity of symptoms and function, and how much incongruence existed within couples. Controlling for individual factors, patient and spouse reports of communication problems were significantly associated with levels of couple incongruence regarding patient fatigue and physical function, albeit in opposing directions. Across couples, incongruence was high when patients rated communication problems as high; incongruence was low when spouses rated communication problems as high. An important within-couple interaction was found for pain interference suggesting couples who are similar on level of communication problems experience low incongruence; those with disparate ratings of communication problems experience high incongruence. Findings suggest the important roles of spouse response and the patient’s perception of how well the couple is communicating. Couple-level interventions targeting communication or other interpersonal factors may help to decrease incongruence and lead to better patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3808472  PMID: 23872105
Chronic Pain; Couples; Multilevel modeling; Symptom incongruence; Communication
14.  Disruptive Innovation: Implementation of Electronic Consultations in a Veterans Affairs Health Care System 
JMIR Medical Informatics  2016;4(1):e6.
Electronic consultations (e-consults) offer rapid access to specialist input without the need for a patient visit. E-consult implementation began in 2011 at VA Boston Healthcare System (VABHS). By early 2013, e-consults were available for all clinical services. In this implementation, the requesting clinician selects the desired consultation within the electronic health record (EHR) ordering menu, which creates an electronic form that is pre-populated with patient demographic information and allows free-text entry of the reason for consult. This triggers a message to the requesting clinician and requested specialty, thereby enabling bidirectional clinician-clinician communication.
The aim of this study is to examine the utilization of e-consults in a large Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system.
Data from the electronic health record was used to measure frequency of e-consult use by provider type (physician or nurse practitioner (NP) and/or physician assistant), and by the requesting and responding specialty from January 2012 to December 2013. We conducted chart reviews for a purposive sample of e-consults and semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of clinicians and hospital leaders to better characterize the process, challenges, and usability of e-consults.
A total of 7097 e-consults were identified, 1998 from 2012 and 5099 from 2013. More than one quarter (27.56%, 1956/7097) of the e-consult requests originated from VA facilities in New England other than VABHS and were excluded from subsequent analysis. Within the VABHS e-consults (72.44%, 5141/7097), variability in frequency and use of e-consults across provider types and specialties was found. A total of 64 NPs requested 2407 e-consults (median 12.5, range 1-415). In contrast, 448 physicians (including residents and fellows) requested 2349 e-consults (median 2, range 1-116). More than one third (37.35%, 1920/5141) of e-consults were sent from primary care to specialists. While most e-consults reflected a request for specialist input to a generalist’s question in diagnosis or management in the ambulatory setting, we identified creative uses of e-consults, including requests for face-to-face appointments and documentation of pre-operative chart reviews; moreover, 7.00% (360/5141) of the e-consults originated from our sub-acute and chronic care inpatient units. In interviews, requesting providers reported high utility and usability. Specialists recognized the value of e-consults but expressed concerns about additional workload.
The e-consult mechanism is frequently utilized for its initial intended purpose. It has also been adopted for unexpected clinical and administrative uses, developing into a “disruptive innovation” and highlighting existing gaps in mechanisms for provider communication. Further investigation is needed to characterize optimal utilization of e-consults within specialty and the medical center, and what features of the e-consult program, other than volume, represent valid measures of access and quality care.
PMCID: PMC4769358  PMID: 26872820
remote consultations; clinical communication; electronic consultation; telehealth; clinical information; decision making, telemonitoring; eHealth infrastructures
15.  What influences patients with Osteoarthritis to consult their GP about their symptoms? A narrative review 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:195.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of disability and consultation with a GP. However research suggests the majority of sufferers choose not to consult their GP regarding their symptoms. Understanding the reasons for consulting is central to optimising patient outcomes. This review aims to summarise existing literature to identify what influences patients with OA to consult their GP.
Due to the diversity of both qualitative and quantitative research that has addressed this research question a narrative review of literature has been conducted, backed up by a systematic literature search.
Nineteen papers were identified describing influences on consulting behaviour in patients with likely OA. Health beliefs, such as perceiving OA as an inevitable part of older age about which nothing can be done, in addition to perceiving a negative attitude of the GP, are disincentives to consulting. Severity of pain and disruption of daily activities are important influences towards consultation. Social issues such as the availability of support networks are also likely to be influential. Evidence is lacking about the impact of multi-morbidity on consulting behaviour.
Pain and disruption of activities appear to push towards consulting and negative attitudes regarding OA (from either the patient or GP) appear to be disincentives to consulting. Findings are limited by estimates of consultation frequency and research involving observation of consultations may improve understanding of these issues. Specifically, further research may address how pain and disrupted function are addressed and if negative attitudes are evident in the consultation.
PMCID: PMC3890599  PMID: 24359101
Osteoarthritis; Primary health care; General practitioners; Utilisation
16.  Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia 
Executive Summary
In early August 2007, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Aging in the Community project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding healthy aging in the community. The Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the ministry’s newly released Aging at Home Strategy.
After a broad literature review and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified 4 key areas that strongly predict an elderly person’s transition from independent community living to a long-term care home. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these 4 areas: falls and fall-related injuries, urinary incontinence, dementia, and social isolation. For the first area, falls and fall-related injuries, an economic model is described in a separate report.
Please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,, to review these titles within the Aging in the Community series.
Aging in the Community: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Prevention of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Urinary Incontinence in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Social Isolation in Community-Dwelling Seniors: An Evidence-Based Analysis
The Falls/Fractures Economic Model in Ontario Residents Aged 65 Years and Over (FEMOR)
This report features the evidence-based analysis on caregiver- and patient-directed interventions for dementia and is broken down into 4 sections:
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Economic Analysis of Caregiver- and Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-Directed Interventions for Dementia
To identify interventions that may be effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia living in the community.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Dementia is a progressive and largely irreversible syndrome that is characterized by a loss of cognitive function severe enough to impact social or occupational functioning. The components of cognitive function affected include memory and learning, attention, concentration and orientation, problem-solving, calculation, language, and geographic orientation. Dementia was identified as one of the key predictors in a senior’s transition from independent community living to admission to a long-term care (LTC) home, in that approximately 90% of individuals diagnosed with dementia will be institutionalized before death. In addition, cognitive decline linked to dementia is one of the most commonly cited reasons for institutionalization.
Prevalence estimates of dementia in the Ontario population have largely been extrapolated from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging conducted in 1991. Based on these estimates, it is projected that there will be approximately 165,000 dementia cases in Ontario in the year 2008, and by 2010 the number of cases will increase by nearly 17% over 2005 levels. By 2020 the number of cases is expected to increase by nearly 55%, due to a rise in the number of people in the age categories with the highest prevalence (85+). With the increase in the aging population, dementia will continue to have a significant economic impact on the Canadian health care system. In 1991, the total costs associated with dementia in Canada were $3.9 billion (Cdn) with $2.18 billion coming from LTC.
Caregivers play a crucial role in the management of individuals with dementia because of the high level of dependency and morbidity associated with the condition. It has been documented that a greater demand is faced by dementia caregivers compared with caregivers of persons with other chronic diseases. The increased burden of caregiving contributes to a host of chronic health problems seen among many informal caregivers of persons with dementia. Much of this burden results from managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), which have been established as a predictor of institutionalization for elderly patients with dementia.
It is recognized that for some patients with dementia, an LTC facility can provide the most appropriate care; however, many patients move into LTC unnecessarily. For individuals with dementia to remain in the community longer, caregivers require many types of formal and informal support services to alleviate the stress of caregiving. These include both respite care and psychosocial interventions. Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions such as psychoeducational interventions, counseling, supportive therapy, and behavioural interventions.
Assuming that 50% of persons with dementia live in the community, a conservative estimate of the number of informal caregivers in Ontario is 82,500. Accounting for the fact that 29% of people with dementia live alone, this leaves a remaining estimate of 58,575 Ontarians providing care for a person with dementia with whom they reside.
Description of Interventions
The 2 main categories of caregiver-directed interventions examined in this review are respite care and psychosocial interventions. Respite care is defined as a break or relief for the caregiver. In most cases, respite is provided in the home, through day programs, or at institutions (usually 30 days or less). Depending on a caregiver’s needs, respite services will vary in delivery and duration. Respite care is carried out by a variety of individuals, including paid staff, volunteers, family, or friends.
Psychosocial interventions encompass a broad range of interventions and have been classified in various ways in the literature. This review will examine educational, behavioural, dementia-specific, supportive, and coping interventions. The analysis focuses on behavioural interventions, that is, those designed to help the caregiver manage BPSD. As described earlier, BPSD are one of the most challenging aspects of caring for a senior with dementia, causing an increase in caregiver burden. The analysis also examines multicomponent interventions, which include at least 2 of the above-mentioned interventions.
Methods of Evidence-Based Analysis
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effectiveness of interventions for caregivers of dementia patients.
Section 2.1
Are respite care services effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Do respite care services impact on rates of institutionalization of these seniors?
Section 2.2
Which psychosocial interventions are effective in supporting the well-being of unpaid caregivers of seniors with dementia in the community?
Which interventions reduce the risk for institutionalization of seniors with dementia?
Outcomes of Interest
any quantitative measure of caregiver psychological health, including caregiver burden, depression, quality of life, well-being, strain, mastery (taking control of one’s situation), reactivity to behaviour problems, etc.;
rate of institutionalization; and
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology and GRADE Working Group. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Conclusions in Table 1 are drawn from Sections 2.1 and 2.2 of the report.
Summary of Conclusions on Caregiver-Directed Interventions
There is limited evidence from RCTs that respite care is effective in improving outcomes for those caring for seniors with dementia.
There is considerable qualitative evidence of the perceived benefits of respite care.
Respite care is known as one of the key formal support services for alleviating caregiver burden in those caring for dementia patients.
Respite care services need to be tailored to individual caregiver needs as there are vast differences among caregivers and patients with dementia (severity, type of dementia, amount of informal/formal support available, housing situation, etc.)
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that individual behavioural interventions (≥ 6 sessions), directed towards the caregiver (or combined with the patient) are effective in improving psychological health in dementia caregivers.
There is moderate- to high-quality evidence that multicomponent interventions improve caregiver psychosocial health and may affect rates of institutionalization of dementia patients.
RCT indicates randomized controlled trial.
Patient-Directed Interventions for Dementia
The section on patient-directed interventions for dementia is broken down into 4 subsections with the following questions:
3.1 Physical Exercise for Seniors with Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of basic activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability, in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.2 Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions to Improve Cognitive Functioning in Seniors With Dementia – Secondary Prevention
What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
3.3 Physical Exercise for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
3.4 Cognitive Interventions for Delaying the Onset of Dementia – Primary Prevention
Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, deterioration in the performance of basic ADLs or instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs),1 or incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Secondary Prevention2
Physical deterioration is linked to dementia. This is thought to be due to reduced muscle mass leading to decreased activity levels and muscle atrophy, increasing the potential for unsafe mobility while performing basic ADLs such as eating, bathing, toileting, and functional ability.
Improved physical conditioning for seniors with dementia may extend their independent mobility and maintain performance of ADL.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Cognitive impairments, including memory problems, are a defining feature of dementia. These impairments can lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from activities. The impact of these cognitive problems on daily activities increases pressure on caregivers.
Cognitive interventions aim to improve these impairments in people with mild to moderate dementia.
Primary Prevention3
Various vascular risk factors have been found to contribute to the development of dementia (e.g., hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, overweight).
Physical exercise is important in promoting overall and vascular health. However, it is unclear whether physical exercise can decrease the risk of cognitive decline/dementia.
Nonpharmacologic and Nonexercise Interventions
Having more years of education (i.e., a higher cognitive reserve) is associated with a lower prevalence of dementia in crossectional population-based studies and a lower incidence of dementia in cohorts followed longitudinally. However, it is unclear whether cognitive training can increase cognitive reserve or decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs or reduce the incidence of dementia.
Description of Interventions
Physical exercise and nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions (e.g., cognitive training) for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia are assessed in this review.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify systematic reviews and RCTs that examined the effectiveness, safety and cost effectiveness of exercise and cognitive interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of dementia.
Section 3.1: What is the effectiveness of physical exercise for the improvement or maintenance of ADLs in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.2: What is the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic/nonexercise interventions to improve cognitive functioning in seniors with mild to moderate dementia?
Section 3.3: Can exercise decrease the risk of subsequent cognitive decline/dementia?
Section 3.4: Does cognitive training decrease the risk of cognitive impairment, prevent or delay deterioration in the performance of ADLs or IADLs, or reduce the incidence of dementia in seniors with good cognitive and physical functioning?
Assessment of Quality of Evidence
The quality of the evidence was assessed as High, Moderate, Low, or Very low according to the GRADE methodology. As per GRADE the following definitions apply:
Summary of Findings
Table 2 summarizes the conclusions from Sections 3.1 through 3.4.
Summary of Conclusions on Patient-Directed Interventions*
Previous systematic review indicated that “cognitive training” is not effective in patients with dementia.
A recent RCT suggests that CST (up to 7 weeks) is effective for improving cognitive function and quality of life in patients with dementia.
Regular leisure time physical activity in midlife is associated with a reduced risk of dementia in later life (mean follow-up 21 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline (mean follow-up 2 years).
Regular physical activity in seniors is associated with a reduced risk of dementia (mean follow-up 6–7 years).
Evidence that cognitive training for specific functions (memory, reasoning, and speed of processing) produces improvements in these specific domains.
Limited inconclusive evidence that cognitive training can offset deterioration in the performance of self-reported IADL scores and performance assessments.
1° indicates primary; 2°, secondary; CST, cognitive stimulation therapy; IADL, instrumental activities of daily living; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Benefit/Risk Analysis
As per the GRADE Working Group, the overall recommendations consider 4 main factors:
the trade-offs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome;
the quality of the evidence;
translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise; and
uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest.
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly alongside the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 reflects the overall trade-off between benefits and harms (adverse events) and incorporates any risk/uncertainty (cost-effectiveness).
Overall Summary Statement of the Benefit and Risk for Patient-Directed Interventions*
Economic Analysis
Budget Impact Analysis of Effective Interventions for Dementia
Caregiver-directed behavioural techniques and patient-directed exercise programs were found to be effective when assessing mild to moderate dementia outcomes in seniors living in the community. Therefore, an annual budget impact was calculated based on eligible seniors in the community with mild and moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who were willing to participate in interventional home sessions. Table 4 describes the annual budget impact for these interventions.
Annual Budget Impact (2008 Canadian Dollars)
Assumed 7% prevalence of dementia aged 65+ in Ontario.
Assumed 8 weekly sessions plus 4 monthly phone calls.
Assumed 12 weekly sessions plus biweekly sessions thereafter (total of 20).
Assumed 2 sessions per week for first 5 weeks. Assumed 90% of seniors in the community with dementia have mild to moderate disease. Assumed 4.5% of seniors 65+ are in long-term care, and the remainder are in the community. Assumed a rate of participation of 60% for both patients and caregivers and of 41% for patient-directed exercise. Assumed 100% compliance since intervention administered at the home. Cost for trained staff from Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care data source. Assumed cost of personal support worker to be equivalent to in-home support. Cost for recreation therapist from Alberta government Website.
Note: This budget impact analysis was calculated for the first year after introducing the interventions from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care perspective using prevalence data only. Prevalence estimates are for seniors in the community with mild to moderate dementia and their respective caregivers who are willing to participate in an interventional session administered at the home setting. Incidence and mortality rates were not factored in. Current expenditures in the province are unknown and therefore were not included in the analysis. Numbers may change based on population trends, rate of intervention uptake, trends in current programs in place in the province, and assumptions on costs. The number of patients was based on patients likely to access these interventions in Ontario based on assumptions stated below from the literature. An expert panel confirmed resource consumption.
PMCID: PMC3377513  PMID: 23074509
17.  Community survey of factors associated with consultation for low back pain 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7172):1564-1567.
To investigate the psychosocial factors associated with consultation for low back pain.
Two phase cross sectional postal survey.
Bradford Metropolitan Health District.
1813 adults responding to the phase 1 questionnaire. 540 of the 782 with an episode of low back pain in the past 12 months completed the second questionnaire.
Main outcome measures
Six psychosocial constructs.
406 (52%) of the respondents reporting back pain in the past 12 months had not consulted a health professional. Logistic regression showed that consultation was associated with externalised beliefs regarding pain management (odds ratio 3.6; 95% confidence interval 2.1 to 6.0). Duration of pain affected the factors associated with consultation. Consultation for episodes lasting less than two weeks (n=290) was associated with greater than median pain (3.0; 1.7 to 5.5), consultation for episodes over two weeks (n=243) was associated with increased disability (3.7; 1.5 to 9.0), and consultation for episodes over three months (n=143) with increased depression (3.9; 1.3 to 11.8).
The results support a role for psychosocial factors in consultation for low back pain and suggest that the reasons for consultation vary with duration of pain. Duration of the episode may be a useful guide to management of non-specific low back pain.
Key messagesOnly half of those who experience low back pain consult a health service professionalMost of those who consult have had low back pain for more than two weeksThe severity of pain may influence consulting behaviour at the acute stage, but after the acute period those who consult are more likely to have increased disability, externalised beliefs about pain management, and depressive symptoms.Management of low back pain may need to vary according to the duration of pain
PMCID: PMC28737  PMID: 9836660
18.  Using human error theory to explore the supply of non‐prescription medicines from community pharmacies 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2006;15(4):244-250.
The importance of theory in underpinning interventions to promote effective professional practice is gaining recognition. The Medical Research Council framework for complex interventions has assisted in promoting awareness and adoption of theory into study design. Human error theory has previously been used by high risk industries but its relevance to healthcare settings and patient safety requires further investigation. This study used this theory as a framework to explore non‐prescription medicine supply from community pharmacies. The relevance to other healthcare settings and behaviours is discussed.
A 25% random sample was made of 364 observed consultations for non‐prescription medicines. Each of the 91 consultations was assessed by two groups: a consensus group (stage 1) to identify common problems with the consultation process, and an expert group (stages 2 and 3) to apply human error theory to these consultations. Paired assessors (most of whom were pharmacists) categorised the perceived problems occurring in each consultation (stage 1). During stage 2 paired assessors from an expert group (comprising patient safety experts, community pharmacists and psychologists) considered whether each consultation was compliant with professional guidelines for the supply of pharmacy medicines. Each non‐compliant consultation identified during stage 2 was then categorised as a slip/lapse, mistake, or violation using human error theory (stage 3).
During stage 1 most consultations (n = 75, 83%) were deemed deficient in information exchange. At stage 2, paired assessors varied in attributing non‐compliance to specific error types. Where agreement was achieved, the error type most often selected was “violation” (n = 27, 51.9%, stage 3). Consultations involving product requests were less likely to be guideline compliant than symptom presentations (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.95, p = 0.05).
The large proportion of consultations classified as violations suggests that either pharmacy staff are unaware of professional guidelines and thus do not follow them (therefore these acts would not be violations), or that they knowingly violate the guidelines due to reasons that need further research. The methods presented here could be used in other healthcare settings to explore healthcare professional behaviour and to develop strategies to promote patient safety and effective professional practice.
PMCID: PMC2564009  PMID: 16885248
non‐prescription medicines; evidence based practice; human error theory; community pharmacy services
19.  Patient Adherence to Tuberculosis Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(7):e238.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and has received considerable attention in recent years, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where it is closely associated with HIV/AIDS. Poor adherence to treatment is common despite various interventions aimed at improving treatment completion. Lack of a comprehensive and holistic understanding of barriers to and facilitators of, treatment adherence is currently a major obstacle to finding effective solutions. The aim of this systematic review of qualitative studies was to understand the factors considered important by patients, caregivers and health care providers in contributing to TB medication adherence.
Methods and Findings
We searched 19 electronic databases (1966–February 2005) for qualitative studies on patients', caregivers', or health care providers' perceptions of adherence to preventive or curative TB treatment with the free text terms “Tuberculosis AND (adherence OR compliance OR concordance)”. We supplemented our search with citation searches and by consulting experts. For included studies, study quality was assessed using a predetermined checklist and data were extracted independently onto a standard form. We then followed Noblit and Hare's method of meta-ethnography to synthesize the findings, using both reciprocal translation and line-of-argument synthesis. We screened 7,814 citations and selected 44 articles that met the prespecified inclusion criteria. The synthesis offers an overview of qualitative evidence derived from these multiple international studies. We identified eight major themes across the studies: organisation of treatment and care; interpretations of illness and wellness; the financial burden of treatment; knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about treatment; law and immigration; personal characteristics and adherence behaviour; side effects; and family, community, and household support. Our interpretation of the themes across all studies produced a line-of-argument synthesis describing how four major factors interact to affect adherence to TB treatment: structural factors, including poverty and gender discrimination; the social context; health service factors; and personal factors. The findings of this study are limited by the quality and foci of the included studies.
Adherence to the long course of TB treatment is a complex, dynamic phenomenon with a wide range of factors impacting on treatment-taking behaviour. Patients' adherence to their medication regimens was influenced by the interaction of a number of these factors. The findings of our review could help inform the development of patient-centred interventions and of interventions to address structural barriers to treatment adherence.
From a systematic review of qualitative research, Munro and coauthors found that a range of interacting factors can lead to patients deciding not to complete their course of tuberculosis treatment.
Editors' Summary
Every year nearly nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection, usually of the lungs—and about two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with active tuberculosis sneeze or cough. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several strong antibiotics daily for at least six months but many patients fail to complete this treatment because the drugs have unpleasant side-effects and the treatment is complicated. In addition, people often feel better soon after starting treatment so they stop taking their tablets before all the bacteria in their body are dead. Poor treatment adherence (poor compliance) means that people remain infectious for longer and are more likely to relapse and die. It also contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis. To help people complete their treatment, the World Health Organization recommends a strategy known as DOTS (directly observed treatment, short course). As part of this strategy, a health worker or a tuberculosis treatment supporter—a person nominated by the health worker and the patient—watches the patient take his/her antibiotics.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although DOTS has contributed to improved tuberculosis control, better patient compliance is needed to halt the global tuberculosis epidemic. Treatment adherence is a complex behavioral issue and improving treatment outcomes for tuberculosis (and for other diseases) requires a full understanding of the factors that prevent people taking medicines correctly and those that help them complete their treatment. In this study, the researchers have done a systematic review (a study in which the medical literature is surveyed and appraised using defined methods to reach a consensus view on a specific question) of qualitative studies that asked patients, carers, and health workers which factors contributed to adherence to tuberculosis treatment. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data so, for example, a qualitative study on tuberculosis treatment might ask people how the treatment made them feel whereas a quantitative study might count bacteria in patient samples.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched electronic databases and reference lists for qualitative studies on adherence to tuberculosis treatments and also consulted experts on tuberculosis treatment. They carefully read the 44 published papers that met their predefined inclusion criteria and then used a method called “meta-ethnography” to compare the factors (themes) associated with good or bad adherence in the different studies and to synthesize (reach) a consensus view of which factors influence adherence to tuberculosis treatment. The researchers identified eight major factors associated with adherence to treatment. These included: health service factors such as the organization of treatment and care; social context (family, community and household influences); and the financial burden of treatment. Finally, the researchers interpreted the themes that emerged from the studies to build a simple model that proposes that adherence to tuberculosis treatment is influenced by four interacting sets of factors—structural factors (including poverty and gender discrimination), social context factors, health service factors, and personal factors (including attitudes towards treatment and illness).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this systematic review of qualitative research on patient adherence to tuberculosis treatment are inevitably limited by the quality and scope of the original research. Consequently, further studies into patients' understanding of tuberculosis and its treatment are needed. Nevertheless, the findings and the model proposed by the researchers indicate that patients often take their tuberculosis medications under very difficult conditions and that they cannot control many of the factors that prevent them taking their drugs. So, although current efforts to improve adherence to tuberculosis treatments emphasize instilling a willingness to take their medications into patients, this systematic review suggests that more must be done to address how factors such as poverty and gender affect treatment adherence and to tailor support systems to patients' needs. Most importantly, it indicates that future interventions should involve patients more in the decisions made about their treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
MedlinePlus has an encyclopedia page on tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
See the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease fact sheet on tuberculosis
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a variety of fact sheets and other information resources on tuberculosis
World Health Organization has produced the 2007 Global Tuberculosis Control report (in English with key findings in French and Spanish), information on DOTS (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese), and A Guide for Tuberculosis Treatment Supporters
See the brief guide to systematic reviews, published by the British Medical Journal
PMCID: PMC1925126  PMID: 17676945
20.  Frequent consulting and multiple morbidity: a qualitative comparison of ‘high’ and ‘low’ consulters of GPs 
Family Practice  2008;25(3):168-175.
Background. Frequent consulting is associated with multiple and complex social and health conditions. It is not known how the impact of multiple conditions, the ability to self-manage and patient perception of the GP consultation combines to influence consulting frequency.
Objective. To investigate reasons for frequent consultation among people with multiple morbidity but contrasting consulting rates.
Methods. Qualitative study with in-depth interviews in the west of Scotland. Participants were 23 men and women aged about 50 years with four or more chronic illnesses; 11 reported consulting seven or more times in the last year [the frequent consulters (FCs)] and 12, three or fewer times [the less frequent consulters (LFCs)]. The main outcome measures were the participants’ accounts of their symptoms, self-management strategies and reasons for consulting a GP.
Results. All participants used multiple self-management strategies. FCs described: more disruptive symptoms, which were resistant to self-management strategies; less access to fewer treatments and resources and more medical monitoring, for unstable conditions and drug regimens. The LFCs reported: less severe and more containable symptoms; accessing more efficacious self-management strategies and infrequent GP monitoring for stable conditions and routine drug regimens. All participants conveyed consulting as a ‘last resort’. However, the GP was seen as ‘ally’, for the FCs, and as ‘innocent bystander’, for the LFCs.
Conclusions. This qualitative investigation into the combined significance of multiple morbidities and self-management on the GP consultation suggests that current models of self-management might have limited potential to reduce utilization rates among this vulnerable group. Severity of symptoms, stability of condition and complexity of drug regimens combine to influence the availability of effective resources and influence frequency of GP consultations.
PMCID: PMC2440493  PMID: 18448858
Frequent consulting; self-management; multiple chronic illness; qualitative
21.  Association between interpersonal relationship among high-school students and mental health 
Adolescents have many anxieties, and having someone to consult is important for them to maintain their mental health. This study examines: whether students have someone to consult; if they have, whether there are differences in their depressive state and in their degree of satisfaction with their school lives depending on whom they consult; and how their mental health is affected by their human relations.
Persons whom high-school students consult about their worries, Depression Self-Rating Scale for Children (DSRS-C), and satisfaction of high-school students with their school lives were surveyed in 2,646 students of public high schools in A Prefecture, and the persons selected for consultation were classified into four groups (“no one,” “friends,” “adults,” and “friends and adults”) and analyzed.
In terms of whom they consult we found that high-school students, especially girls, frequently consult “friends and adults.” Mean DSRS-C score was significantly higher for those who consulted “no one” than for those who consulted “friends” or “friends and adults.” Regarding hopelessness, the mean score of those who consulted “no one” was significantly higher than for those who consulted “friends and adults.” Those who consulted “no one” had significantly lower mean score for satisfaction with school life than did those who consulted “friends and adults.”
Most of the students selected “friends and adults” for persons to consult, but boys were more likely to have “no one” to consult. Students (boys and girls) having no one to consult are likely to be more depressive and less satisfied with their school lives.
PMCID: PMC2793344  PMID: 19756927
High-school students; Consultation; Friends; Suicide; Mental health
22.  Provider Documentation of Geriatric Issues among Older Adults Receiving Care in Safety Net 
In a safety net setting, we evaluated primary care provider (PCP) documentation of geriatric issues and whether geriatric consultation influences subsequent documentation.
We performed a retrospective chart review of patients referred to an outpatient geriatric consult service at San Francisco General Hospital. The geriatrics service serves two primary care clinics and provides advice through an e-consult, an e-consult with care coordination services, or a comprehensive geriatrics assessment. We queried charts for patients ≥60 years of age, referred from October 2012 to November 2013, and received care for ≥ 6 months after the consult. For two primary care visits pre- and post-consult, we recorded documentation of geriatric issues, such as cognitive impairment, falls, and symptoms prevalent in older adults. Comparisons were analyzed using descriptive statistics and paired sample t-tests.
Among 90 patients referred, mean age was 77.9 years (7.3) and 62.2% were female. Most patients (66.7%) were non-English speaking. Patients' race included 40% Hispanic, 32.2% Asian, 15.6% African-American, and 12.2% White. Many, 78.9%, were dual-eligible. The most common conditions included diabetes (43.3%), dementia (37.8%), and mental health disorders (31.1%). Pre-consult, PCPs documented screening for falls in 54.4%, cognitive impairment in 38.9%, mental health conditions in 35.6%, and activities of daily living in 28.9%. An advance directive or goals of care were documented in 45.6% of charts. Symptoms (pain, shortness of breath, insomnia, fatigue or anorexia) were often documented pre-consult (91.1%). The only difference in a pre-post comparison was that providers documented fewer screens post-consult for cognitive impairment (38.9 vs 21.1%).
Among PCPs in safety net clinics, less than half had documentation of common geriatrics issues, other than symptoms, prior to consulting a geriatrician. The consult did not affect post-consult documentation. More studies are needed to determine how to improve documentation of important geriatric issues.
PMCID: PMC4582371
23.  Consultation patterns in a community survey of men with benign prostatic hyperplasia. 
BACKGROUND. The Stirling benign prostatic hyperplasia natural history group have previously reported a prevalence of this condition of 255 per 1000 in a community study of 1610 men aged 40-79 years. AIM. It was decided to examine the consultation patterns of men with benign prostatic hyperplasia in greater detail. METHOD. All participating men were invited to complete a previously validated lifestyle questionnaire including questions on consultations with their general practitioner during the previous year and previous history of prostatic problems. The men who had a urinary symptom score greater than 11, or who had a urinary flow rate of less than 15 ml per second were examined by transurethral ultrasonography for prostate size. RESULTS. Of 364 men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, 89% had not consulted their doctor about urinary symptoms in the year prior to the study. Men with moderate to severe urinary symptoms were six times more likely to have consulted their doctor than those with mild symptoms. Moderate to severe symptoms and greater interference with daily living activities were both associated with a greater likelihood of consultation, independent of age. Of all the men in the study referred to the specialist clinic for assessment of prostate size by transurethral ultrasonography, two thirds were referred because of low urinary flow rate and one third because of high urinary symptom scores. The reported consultation data showed a reverse ratio of one third of those consulting having a low urinary flow rate and approximately two thirds having urinary symptoms. CONCLUSION. While mass screening is unjustified, there is a need for patient education about benign prostatic hyperplasia in general and the recognition of declining strength of urinary flow as a symptom of benign prostatic hyperplasia and not of ageing alone. Furthermore, evaluation of primary care use of urinary flowmeters and the development of local protocols are suggested as elements of a case finding strategy for benign prostatic hyperplasia based on patient led consultation.
PMCID: PMC1239046  PMID: 7538316
24.  The domiciliary consultation service: time to take stock. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1991;302(6774):449-451.
OBJECTIVE--To review the use of the domiciliary consultation service in modern clinical practice in the Northern region. DESIGN--Retrospective study of data on domiciliary consultations from claim forms for payment submitted to the regional health authority by consultants during 1984-5 and prospective study during 1985-9. Peer review of patterns of practice by consultants. SETTING--15 Of the 16 health districts in the Northern region, comprising a mixed urban and rural population of about 2.8 million. PARTICIPANTS--760 Consultants in 28 specialties and 1666 general practitioners who were eligible to perform or request domiciliary consultations. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Numbers of domiciliary consultations, general practitioners' requests for consultations, and consultants performing consultations and expenditure on the service by the region. RESULTS--Use of the domiciliary consultation service in the Northern region declined by 53% between 1984-5 and 1988-9, considerably in excess of the national rate of decline of 27%, and expenditure on the service was reduced, after allowing for inflation, by 604,000 pounds, or 38%, in real terms. Most consultants and general practitioners used the service sparingly whereas a small proportion used it heavily; a few specific consultants and general practitioners were responsible for a relatively high rate of domiciliary consultations. Contrary to the original definition of domiciliary consultation, the general practitioner accompanied the consultant on only one occasion in 17 and, in one specialty examined (paediatrics) patients who received domiciliary consultations seemed to have minor medical problems. CONCLUSIONS--Peer review examination of the pattern of practice in the domiciliary consultation service proved effective in rationalising use of the service, although a substantial minority of consultants and general practitioners continued to use the service heavily. The place of the service in modern clinical practice would benefit from a national review.
PMCID: PMC1669373  PMID: 2004173
25.  Alternative health care consultations in Ontario, Canada: A geographic and socio-demographic analysis 
An important but understudied component of Canada's health system is alternative care. The objective of this paper is to examine the geographic and socio-demographic characteristics of alternative care consultation in Ontario, Canada's largest province.
Data is drawn from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS Cycle 3.1, 2005) for people aged 18 or over (n = 32,598) who had a consultation with an alternative health care provider. Four groups of consultations are examined: (1) all consultations (2) massage therapy (3) acupuncture, and (4) homeopath/naturopath. Descriptive statistics, mapping and logistic regression modeling are employed to analyze the data and to compare modalities of alternative health care use.
In 2005, more than 1.2 million adults aged 18 or over consulted an alternative health care provider, representing about 13% of the total population of Ontario. The analysis revealed a varied geographic pattern of consultations across the province. Consultations were fairly even across the urban to rural continuum and rural residents were just as likely to consult a provider as their urban counterparts. From a health perspective, people with a chronic condition, lower health status and self-perceived unmet health care needs were more likely to see an alternative health provider. Women with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue syndrome and chemical sensitivities were more likely to see an alternative provider if they felt their health care needs were not being met.
The analysis revealed that geography is not a factor in determining alternative health care consultations in Ontario. By contrast, there is a strong association between these consultations and socio-demographic characteristics particularly age, sex, education, health and self-perceived unmet health care needs. The results underscore the importance of women's health needs as related to alternative care use. The paper concludes that there is a need for more place-specific research that explores the reasons why people use specific types of alternative health care as tied to socio-economic status, health, place of residence, and knowledge of these treatments.
PMCID: PMC3141599  PMID: 21696621

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