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1.  Fire, Aim… Ready? Alberta's Big Bang Approach to Healthcare Disintegration 
Healthcare Policy  2010;6(1):22-31.
Alberta's abolition in 2008 of its health regions and the creation of Alberta Health Services (AHS) was a bold move, but the reasons for the change remain hazy. The stated goals were to “help make Alberta's … system more effective and efficient” and to “provide equitable access to health services and long-term sustainability.” Data show, however, that Alberta's health regions were already performing well on these goals relative to other provinces, and where changes have since occurred, they cannot necessarily be attributed to AHS.
PMCID: PMC2929894  PMID: 21804836
2.  Networks and social capital: a relational approach to primary healthcare reform 
Collaboration among health care providers and across systems is proposed as a strategy to improve health care delivery the world over. Over the past two decades, health care providers have been encouraged to work in partnership and build interdisciplinary teams. More recently, the notion of networks has entered this discourse but the lack of consensus and understanding about what is meant by adopting a network approach in health services limits its use. Also crucial to this discussion is the work of distinguishing the nature and extent of the impact of social relationships – generally referred to as social capital. In this paper, we review the rationale for collaboration in health care systems; provide an overview and synthesis of key concepts; dispel some common misconceptions of networks; and apply the theory to an example of primary healthcare network reform in Alberta (Canada). Our central thesis is that a relational approach to systems change, one based on a synthesis of network theory and social capital can provide the fodation for a multi-focal approach to primary healthcare reform. Action strategies are recommended to move from an awareness of 'networks' to fully translating knowledge from existing theory to guide planning and practice innovations. Decision-makers are encouraged to consider a multi-focal approach that effectively incorporates a network and social capital approach in planning and evaluating primary healthcare reform.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-5-9
PMCID: PMC2048492  PMID: 17894868
3.  Turning Vision into Reality: Successful Integration of Primary Healthcare in Taber, Canada 
Healthcare Policy  2007;3(1):80-95.
Primary healthcare offers significant benefits to Canadians and to the healthcare system as a whole. The Taber Integrated Primary Healthcare Project (TIPHP) was a three-year primary healthcare renewal initiative involving rural physicians and the Chinook Health Region in Taber, Alberta, Canada. The goal of the project was to improve healthcare services delivery through integration of the services provided by the physician group and the health region in one rural community. Four main enablers emerged as fundamental to the integration process: community assessment and shared planning; evidence-based, interdisciplinary care; an integrated electronic information system; and investment in processes and structures that support change.
The outcome of the project has been the implementation of a new model of healthcare delivery that embraces an integrated collaborative team approach in delivering population-based, primary healthcare. Importantly, the TIPHP has influenced regional healthcare policy related to primary healthcare renewal strategies and partnerships.
PMCID: PMC2645121  PMID: 19305757
4.  Innovations in the Ethical Review of Health-Related Quality Improvement and Research: The Alberta Research Ethics Community Consensus Initiative (ARECCI) 
Healthcare Policy  2007;2(4):e164-e177.
The Alberta Research Ethics Community Consensus Initiative (ARECCI) is a unique Canadian initiative that addresses the ethical oversight of two main categories of health-related investigative projects: research and quality improvement (including quality assurance and program evaluation). ARECCI was formed as a result of discussions arising from health regions, health researchers and the Alberta Committee of Research Ethics Boards (REBs) Chairs, who all desired a clearer and more consistent approach to the ethical oversight of investigative health projects. The Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) established and supported ARECCI in 2003 in response to this need. ARECCI is unique in its ongoing efforts to bring together a wide-ranging group of stakeholders to develop consensus on a set of pragmatic recommendations and tools for the ethical review of research and quality improvement, and to get extensive consultation on those recommendations. This paper presents the ARECCI context and process, recommendations and tools produced by ARECCI and lessons learned from the ongoing ARECCI process.
PMCID: PMC2585461  PMID: 19305726
5.  Analysis of government investment in primary healthcare institutions to promote equity during the three-year health reform program in China 
Background
The World Health Report 2000 stated that increased public financing for healthcare was an integral part of the efforts to achieve equity of access. In 2009, the Chinese government launched a three-year health reform program to achieve equity of access. Through this reform program, the government intended to increase its investment in primary healthcare institutions (PHIs). However, reports about the outcome and the improvement of the equity of access have yet to be presented.
Methods
Stratified sampling was employed in this research. The samples used for the study comprised 34 community health service centers (CHSCs) and 92 township hospitals (THs) from six provinces of China. Collected data, which were publicly available, consisted of the total revenue, financial revenue, and the number of people for the periods covering January 2010 to September 2010 and January 2011 to September 2011. Revenue information for 2009 and 2010 was obtained from China’s Health Statistics Yearbook.
By using indicators such as government investment, government finance proportion and per capita revenue, t-tests for paired and independent samples were used to analyze the changes in government investment.
Results
Government invest large amount of money to the primary healthcare institutions. Government finance proportion in 2008 was 18.2%. This percentage increased to 38.84% in 2011, indicating statistical significance (p = 0.000) between 2010 and 2011. The per capita financial input was 20.92 yuan in 2010 and 31.10 yuan in 2011. Compared with the figures from 2008 to 2010, the gap in different health sectors narrowed in 2011, and differences emerged. The government finance proportion in CHSCs revenue was 6.9% higher than that of THs, while the per capita revenue of CHSCs was higher. In 2011, the highest and lowest government finance proportions were 48.80% (Shaanxi) and 19.36% (Shandong), respectively. In that same year, the per capita revenue of Shaanxi (40.69 Yuan) was higher than that of Liaoning (28.79 Yuan). Comparing the 2011 figures with those from 2008 to 2010, the gap in 2011 clearly narrowed.
Conclusion
In the three-year health reform program, the Chinese government increased its investment to PHIs gradually and significantly. Thus promote equity to access and universal coverage. However, the increase in government investment stemmed from political desire and from the lack of institutionalization of practice and experience. Hence, a mode of financial allocation must be formulated to promote consistency in government input after the three-year health reform program.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-114
PMCID: PMC3614483  PMID: 23530658
6.  Reforms in Pakistan: Decisive Times for Improving Maternal and Child Health 
Healthcare Policy  2012;8(1):24-32.
Pakistan is a struggling economy with poor maternal and child health indicators that have affected attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (under-five child and maternal mortality). Recent health reforms have abolished the federal Ministry of Health and devolved administrative and financial powers to the provinces. Ideally, devolution tends to simplify a healthcare system's management structure and ensure more efficient delivery of health services to underserved populations, in this case women and children. In this time of transition, it is appropriate to outline prerequisites for the efficient management of maternal and child health (MCH) services.
This paper examines the six building blocks of health systems in order to improve the utilization of MCH services in rural Pakistan. The targeted outcomes of recent reforms are devolved participatory decision-making regarding distribution of MCH-related services, improved deployment of the healthcare workforce, prioritization of pro-poor strategies for health financing and integration of various health information systems. Given this window of opportunity, the provinces need to guarantee fairness and equity through their stewardship of the healthcare system so as to protect vulnerable mothers and their children, especially in rural, remote and disadvantaged areas of Pakistan.
PMCID: PMC3430152  PMID: 23968601
7.  Reforms and Challenges of Post-conflict Kosovo Health System 
Materia Socio-Medica  2014;26(2):125-128.
Before its collapse, Kosovo's healthcare system was an integrated part of the Former Yugoslav Republics System (known as relatively well advanced for its time). Standstill had begun in the last decade of the twentieth century as the result of political disintegration of the former state. The enthusiasm of the healthcare professionals and the people of Kosovo that at the end of the conflict healthcare services will consolidate did not prove just right. Although we can claim that reorganization of Kosovo healthcare was a serious push (especially in the first years after the conflict), the intensity of development begun to fall at the latter stages. Although the basic legislation for the operation of the Healthcare System today in Kosovo does exist, the largest cause for the reform stagnation is where the law is not implemented properly and measures are not set as to a meaningful system of accountability. Twelve years have passed by since the 1999 war-conflict and, although, Kosovo has made progress in many other spheres, it has not yet reached to consolidate a health system comparable to those of other European countries. Intending to get out of difficult situation, several healthcare strategic plans have been developed in the past decade in Kosovo, but attempts in this direction have not been particularly fruitful. This script describes the actual Healthcare complexity of a situation in Kosovo 12 years after the end of the 1999 war-conflict. Interconnection and historical background is also looked upon and is described in the flow of events. Finally, the description of transfer competencies from international administrators to the local authorities as well as the flow of strategic planning that took place since 1999 has also been analyzed.
doi:10.5455/msm.2014.26.125-128
PMCID: PMC4035133  PMID: 24944539
Kosovo; conflict; reorganization; reform; challenges; results
8.  Accelerated reforms in healthcare financing: the need to scale up private sector participation in Nigeria 
The health sector, a foremost service sector in Nigeria, faces a number of challenges; primarily, the persistent under-funding of the health sector by the Nigerian government as evidence reveals low allocations to the health sector and poor health system performance which are reflected in key health indices of the country.Notwithstanding, there is evidence that the private sector could be a key player in delivering health services and impacting health outcomes, including those related to healthcare financing. This underscores the need to optimize the role of private sector in complementing the government’s commitment to financing healthcare delivery and strengthening the health system in Nigeria. There are also concerns about uneven quality and affordability of private-driven health systems, which necessitates reforms aimed at regulation. Accordingly, the argument is that the benefits of leveraging the private sector in complementing the national government in healthcare financing outweigh the challenges, particularly in light of lean public resources and finite donor supports. This article, therefore, highlights the potential for the Nigerian government to scale up healthcare financing by leveraging private resources, innovations and expertise, while working to achieve the universal health coverage.
doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2014.04
PMCID: PMC3937949  PMID: 24596895
Nigeria; Healthcare Financing; Health System; Private Sector
9.  University-Based Continuing Education for Pharmacists 
University-based continuing education (CE) fulfills an important role to support the professional development of pharmacists, advance the practice of pharmacy, and contribute to societal needs for research and healthcare services. Opportunities for pharmacists to engage in new models of patient care are numerous worldwide, particularly as pharmacists’ scope of practice has expanded. Approaches to CE have changed to address the changing needs of pharmacists and now include a variety of approaches to support development of knowledge and skills. There is emphasis on the learning process as well as the knowledge, with the introduction of the concept of continuing professional development (CPD).
As institutions of research and education, universities are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between academic and practice environments, providing opportunities for translation of knowledge to practice. The Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta is a provider of CE in Alberta, Canada, where an expanded scope of pharmacy practice includes prescribing, administering injections, accessing electronic patient records, and ordering laboratory tests. In this paper, the Faculty offers views about future directions for CE, including the integration of CE with core faculty activities, expanding the audience for CE, areas of focus for learning, and partnerships. Finally, we hope to ignite dialogue with others in the profession about the role and function of university-based CE.
doi:10.5688/ajpe76220
PMCID: PMC3305929  PMID: 22438592
continuing education; professional development; continuing professional development; universities
10.  New evidence on financing equity in China's health care reform - A case study on Gansu province, China 
Background
In the transition from a planned economy to a market-oriented economy, China’s state funding for health care declined and traditional coverage plans collapsed, leaving China’s poor exposed to potentially ruinous health care costs. In reforming health care for the 21st century, equity in health care financing has become a major policy goal. To assess progress towards this goal, this paper examines the equity characteristics of health care financing in a province of northwestern China, comparing the equity performance between urban and rural areas at two different points in time.
Methods
Analysis of whether health care financing contributions were progressive according to income were made using the Kakwani index for each of the four health care financing channels of general taxes, public and private health insurance, and out-of-pocket payments. Two rounds of surveys were conducted, the first in 2003 (13,619 individuals in 3946 households) and the second in 2008 (12,973 individuals in 3958 households). Household socio-economic, health care payment, and utilization information were recorded in household interviews.
Results
Low-income households have undertaken a larger share of the health care financing burden in recent years, reflected by negative Kakwani indices, which indicate a regressive system. We found that the indices for general taxation were −0.0024 (urban) and −0.0281 (rural) in 2002, and −0.0177 (urban) and −0.0097 (rural) in 2007. Public health insurance presented different financing distributions in urban and rural areas (urban: 0.0742 in 2002, 0.0661 in 2007; rural: –0.0615 in 2002,–0.1436 in 2007.). Out-of-pocket payments were progressive but not equitable. Public health insurance coverage has expanded but financing equity has decreased.
Conclusions
Health care financing policies in China need ongoing reform. Given the inequity of general consumption taxes, elimination of these would improve financing equity considerably. Optimizing benefit packages in public health insurance is as important as expanding coverage, both for health care financing and for utilization management as well. Although they are progressive, out-of-pocket payments are not equitable in China and have the effect of excluding the poor from health care as they cannot afford to pay for medical care and so withdraw from treatment.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-466
PMCID: PMC3562140  PMID: 23244513
Equity; Chinese health care reform; Financing; Kakwani index
11.  Discordant indigenous and provider frames explain challenges in improving access to arthritis care: a qualitative study using constructivist grounded theory 
Introduction
Access to health services is a determinant of population health and is known to be reduced for a variety of specialist services for Indigenous populations in Canada. With arthritis being the most common chronic condition experienced by Indigenous populations and causing high levels of disability, it is critical to resolve access disparities through an understanding of barriers and facilitators to care. The objective of this study was to inform future health services reform by investigating health care access from the perspective of Aboriginal people with arthritis and health professionals.
Methods
Using constructivist grounded theory methodology we investigated Indigenous peoples’ experiences in accessing arthritis care through the reports of 16 patients and 15 healthcare providers in Alberta, Canada. Semi-structured interviews were conducted between July 2012 and February 2013 and transcribed verbatim. The patient and provider data were first analyzed separately by two team members then brought together to form a framework. The framework was refined through further analysis following the multidisciplinary research team's discussions. Once the framework was developed, reports on the patient and provider data were shared with each participant group independently and participants were interviewed to assess validity of the summary.
Results
In the resulting theoretical framework Indigenous participants framed their experience with arthritis as 'toughing it out’ and spoke of racism encountered in the healthcare setting as a deterrent to pursuing care. Healthcare providers were frustrated by high disease severity and missed appointments, and framed Indigenous patients as lacking 'buy-in’. Constraints imposed by complex healthcare systems contributed to tensions between Indigenous peoples and providers.
Conclusion
Low specialist care utilization rates among Indigenous people cannot be attributed to cultural and social preferences. Further, the assumptions made by providers lead to stereotyping and racism and reinforce rejection of healthcare by patients. Examples of 'working around’ the system were revealed and showed potential for improved utilization of specialist services. This framework has significant implications for health policy and indicates that culturally safe services are a priority in addressing chronic disease management.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-13-46
PMCID: PMC4074382  PMID: 24916481
12.  Trends in Immunization Completion and Disparities in the Context of Health Reforms: The case study of Tanzania 
Background
Of global concern is the decline in under five children mortality which has reversed in some countries in sub Saharan Africa (SSA) since the early 1990 s which could be due to disparities in access to preventive services including immunization. This paper is aimed at determining the trend in disparities in completion of immunization using Tanzania Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).
Methods
DHS studies randomly selected representative households from all regions in Tanzania since 1980 s, is repeated every five years in the same enumeration areas. The last three data sets (1990, 1996 and 2004) were downloaded and analyzed using STATA 9.0. The analysis included all children of between 12-23 months who would have completed all vaccinations required at 12 months.
Results
Across the time periods 1990, 1996 to 2004/05 the percentage of children completing vaccination was similar (71.0% in 1990, 72.7% in 1996 and 72.3% in 2005). There was no disparity in completion of immunization with wealth strata in 1990 and 1996 (p > 0.05) but not 2004. In 2004/05 there was marked disparity as most poor experienced significant decline in immunization completion while the least poor had significant increase (p < 0.001). All three periods children from households whose head had low education were less likely to complete immunization (p < 0.01).
Conclusion
Equity that existed in 1990 and more pronounced in 1996 regressed to inequity in 2005, thus though at national level immunization coverage did not change, but at sub-group there was significant disparity associated with the changing contexts and reforms. To address sub-group disparities in immunization it is recommended to adopt strategies focused at governance and health system to reach all population groups and most poor.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-299
PMCID: PMC2984499  PMID: 21034497
13.  Impact of Québec’s healthcare reforms on the organization of primary healthcare (PHC): a 2003-2010 follow-up 
Background
Healthcare reforms initiated in the early 2000s in Québec involved the implementation of new modes of primary healthcare (PHC) delivery and the creation of Health and Social Services Centers (HSSCs) to support it. The objective of this article is to assess and explain the degree of PHC organizational change achieved following these reforms.
Methods
We conducted two surveys of PHC organizations, in 2005 and 2010, in two regions of the province of Québec, Canada. From the responses to these surveys, we derived a measure of organizational change based on an index of conformity to an ideal type (ICIT). One set of explanatory variables was contextual, related to coercive, normative and mimetic influences; the other consisted of organizational variables that measured receptivity towards new PHC models. Multilevel analyses were performed to examine the relationships between ICIT change in the post-reform period and the explanatory variables.
Results
Positive results were attained, as expressed by increase in the ICIT score in the post-reform period, mainly due to implementation of new types of PHC organizations (Family Medicine Groups and Network Clinics). Organizational receptivity was the main explanatory variable mediating the effect of coercive and mimetic influences. Normative influence was not a significant factor in explaining changes.
Conclusion
Changes were modest at the system level but important with regard to new forms of PHC organizations. The top-down decreed reform was a determining factor in initiating change whereas local coercive and normative influences did not play a major role. The exemplar role played by certain PHC organizations through mimetic influence was more important. Receptivity of individual organizations was both a necessary condition and a mediating factor in influencing change. This supports the view that a combination of top-down and bottom-up strategy is best suited for achieving substantial changes in PHC local organization.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-229
PMCID: PMC4035759  PMID: 24886490
Primary healthcare organization; Healthcare reform; Organizational change; Family practice
14.  Public assessment of key performance indicators of healthcare in a Canadian province: the effect of age and chronic health problems 
SpringerPlus  2014;3:28.
This study explores the effect of age and chronic conditions on public perceptions of the health system, as measured by the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of healthcare, in the province of Alberta in Canada. Drawing from data collected by Government of Alberta’s Department of Health and Wellness, this research examines two key questions: (1) Do people in the 65+ age group rate the KPIs of healthcare (i.e., availability, accessibility, quality, outcome, and satisfaction) more favorably compared to people in younger age groups in Alberta? (2) Does the rating of KPIs of healthcare in Alberta vary with different chronic conditions (i.e., no chronic problem, chronic illnesses without pain, and chronic pain)? The findings indicate that people in the older age group tend to rate the KPIs of healthcare more favorably compared to younger age groups in Alberta, net of socio-demographic factors, self-reported health status, and knowledge and utilization of health services. However, people experiencing chronic pain are less likely to rate the KPIs of healthcare favorably compared to people with no chronic health problem in Alberta. Discussion includes implications of the findings for the healthcare system in the province.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-28) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/2193-1801-3-28
PMCID: PMC3895437  PMID: 24455471
Key performance indicators; Healthcare system; Age group; Chronic illness; Chronic pain; Alberta
15.  Anatomy of health care reform proposals. 
Western Journal of Medicine  1993;159(4):494-500.
The current proliferation of proposals for health care reform makes it difficult to sort out the differences among plans and the likely outcome of different approaches to reform. The current health care system has two basic features. The first, enrollment and eligibility functions, includes how people get into the system and gain coverage for health care services. We describe 4 models, ranging from an individual, voluntary approach to a universal, tax-based model. The second, the provision of health care, includes how physician services are organized, how they are paid for, what mechanisms are in place for quality assurance, and the degree of organization and oversight of the health care system. We describe 7 models of the organization component, including the current fee-for-service system with no national health budget, managed care, salaried providers under a budget, and managed competition with and without a national health budget. These 2 components provide the building blocks for health care plans, presented as a matrix. We also evaluate several reform proposals by how they combine these 2 elements.
PMCID: PMC1022294  PMID: 8273344
16.  Implementing community participation through legislative reform: a study of the policy framework for community participation in the Western Cape province of South Africa 
Background
Amidst an evolving post-apartheid policy framework for health, policymakers have sought to institutionalize community participation in Primary Health Care, recognizing participation as integral to realizing South Africa’s constitutional commitment to the right to health. With evolving South African legislation supporting community involvement in the health system, early policy developments focused on Community Health Committees (HCs) as the principal institutions of community participation. Formally recognized in the National Health Act of 2003, the National Health Act deferred to provincial governments in establishing the specific roles and functions of HCs. As a result, stakeholders developed a Draft Policy Framework for Community Participation in Health (Draft Policy) to formalize participatory institutions in the Western Cape province.
Methods
With the Draft Policy as a frame of analysis, the researchers conducted documentary policy analysis and semi-structured interviews on the evolution of South African community participation policy. Moving beyond the specific and unique circumstances of the Western Cape, this study analyzes generalizable themes for rights-based community participation in the health system.
Results
Framing institutions for the establishment, appointment, and functioning of community participation, the Draft Policy proposed a formal network of communication – from local HCs to the health system. However, this participation structure has struggled to establish itself and function effectively as a result of limitations in community representation, administrative support, capacity building, and policy commitment. Without legislative support for community participation, the enactment of superseding legislation is likely to bring an end to HC structures in the Western Cape.
Conclusions
Attempts to realize community participation have not adequately addressed the underlying factors crucial to promoting effective participation, with policy reforms necessary: to codify clearly defined roles and functions of community representation; to outline how communities engage with government through effective and accountable channels for participation; and to ensure extensive training and capacity building of community representatives. Given the public health importance of structured and effective policies for community participation, and the normative importance of participation in realizing a rights-based approach to health, this analysis informs researchers on the challenges to institutionalizing participation in health systems policy and provides practitioners with a research base to frame future policy reforms.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-15
PMCID: PMC3532148  PMID: 22920557
Participation; Rights-based policy; Community health committees; South Africa
17.  Reforming the NHS reforms. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1994;308(6932):848-849.
Rather than improving efficiency, the reforms imposed on the NHS have increased bureaucracy, reduced patient choice, limited the range of core services, and led to inequity of treatment. In this paper I examine how the medical profession might help to solve these problems. Priorities must be set for health care since no government can afford all the possibilities offered by medical science. It is essential to forge a consensus of patients, carers, professionals, the public, and government if a system of priorities is to be equitable and just. We also need to be able to measure quality of outcome in health care. This requires consensus on what is the desired outcome and the development of appropriate guidelines, audit, and performance review. This is primarily a task for the health professions supported by management and by adequate investment. Basically, the government must reinstate the three traditional values of the NHS--equity, consensus, and regard for representative professional advice.
PMCID: PMC2540039  PMID: 8167497
18.  The informatics of health care reform. 
Health care in the United States has entered a period of economic upheaval. Episodic, fee-for-service care financed by indemnity insurance is being replaced by managed care financed by fixed-price, capitated health plans. The resulting focus on reducing costs, especially in areas where there is competition fueled by oversupply of health services providers and facilities, poses new threats to the livelihood of medical libraries and medical librarians but also offers new opportunities. Internet services, consumer health education, and health services research will grow in importance, and organizational mergers will provide librarians with opportunities to assume new roles within their organizations.
PMCID: PMC226119  PMID: 8938325
19.  How Will Biologics Fit Into Healthcare Reform? 
Biotechnology healthcare  2011;8(4):6-10.
The Institute of Medicine says that health benefit packages should be limited by cost, not services, but doesn’t address the coverage of biologics. Employers, meanwhile, are thinking about limiting access to high-priced drugs. Yet, industry reports say that biologics are set to dominate drug spend by 2015. Are we moving toward healthcare rationing?
PMCID: PMC3278131  PMID: 22479228
20.  Mandatory reporting of HIV infection and opt-out prenatal screening for HIV infection: effect on testing rates 
Background
Mandatory reporting of HIV infection to public health authorities, although now common, may deter people from undergoing testing. We examined HIV testing frequency in Alberta before and after mandatory reporting was implemented. We also examined the effect on testing rates among pregnant women when Alberta adopted an opt-out approach to prenatal HIV screening.
Methods
Using data from the Provincial Laboratory for Public Health, we determined the number of HIV tests done between Jan. 1, 1993, and Dec. 31, 2000, for males and females in Alberta. We used data from the Canadian Blood Services laboratories to obtain the number of tests conducted as part of the opt-out prenatal HIV testing program. Reporting of HIV infection became mandatory on May 1, 1998, and opt-out prenatal HIV testing was introduced on Sept. 1, 1998.
Results
Among males, the average annual percent increase in the number of HIV tests was 4.0% for the period before mandatory testing, as compared with 4.3% for the period after mandatory reporting was implemented; the difference in yearly trend was significant (p < 0.001). Among females, the average annual percent increase in the number of HIV tests was 9.2% for the period before mandatory reporting. In the month immediately following the adoption of opt-out prenatal HIV testing, the rate increased by 28%. Between 1999 and 2000, the average annual percent increase in the number of HIV tests among females was 1.4%.
Interpretation
The introduction of mandatory reporting of HIV infection did not appear to have a deterrent effect on rates of HIV testing. The implementation of an opt-out prenatal HIV testing policy resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of females being tested for HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC154912  PMID: 12642422
21.  Development and assessment of the Alberta Context Tool 
Background
The context of healthcare organizations such as hospitals is increasingly accepted as having the potential to influence the use of new knowledge. However, the mechanisms by which the organizational context influences evidence-based practices are not well understood. Current measures of organizational context lack a theory-informed approach, lack construct clarity and generally have modest psychometric properties. This paper presents the development and initial psychometric validation of the Alberta Context Tool (ACT), an eight dimension measure of organizational context for healthcare settings.
Methods
Three principles guided the development of the ACT: substantive theory, brevity, and modifiability. The Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARiHS) framework and related literature were used to guide selection of items in the ACT. The ACT was required to be brief enough to be tolerated in busy and resource stretched work settings and to assess concepts of organizational context that were potentially modifiable. The English version of the ACT was completed by 764 nurses (752 valid responses) working in seven Canadian pediatric care hospitals as part of its initial validation. Cronbach's alpha, exploratory factor analysis, analysis of variance, and tests of association were used to assess instrument reliability and validity.
Results
Factor analysis indicated a 13-factor solution (accounting for 59.26% of the variance in 'organizational context'). The composition of the factors was similar to those originally conceptualized. Cronbach's alpha for the 13 factors ranged from .54 to .91 with 4 factors performing below the commonly accepted alpha cut off of .70. Bivariate associations between instrumental research utilization levels (which the ACT was developed to predict) and the ACT's 13 factors were statistically significant at the 5% level for 12 of the 13 factors. Each factor also showed a trend of increasing mean score ranging from the lowest level to the highest level of instrumental research use, indicating construct validity.
Conclusions
To date, no completely satisfactory measures of organizational context are available for use in healthcare. The ACT assesses several core domains to provide a comprehensive account of organizational context in healthcare settings. The tool's strengths are its brevity (allowing it to be completed in busy healthcare settings) and its focus on dimensions of organizational context that are modifiable. Refinements of the instrument for acute, long term care, and home care settings are ongoing.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-234
PMCID: PMC2805628  PMID: 20003531
22.  The relationship between characteristics of context and research utilization in a pediatric setting 
Background
Research utilization investigators have called for more focused examination of the influence of context on research utilization behaviors. Yet, up until recently, lack of instrumentation to identify and quantify aspects of organizational context that are integral to research use has significantly hampered these efforts. The Alberta Context Tool (ACT) was developed to assess the relationships between organizational factors and research utilization by a variety of healthcare professional groups. The purpose of this paper is to present findings from a pilot study using the ACT to elicit pediatric and neonatal healthcare professionals' perceptions of the organizational context in which they work and their use of research to inform practice. Specifically, we report on the relationship between dimensions of context, founded on the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework, and self-reported research use behavior.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey approach was employed using a version of the ACT, modified specifically for pediatric settings. The survey was administered to nurses working in three pediatric units in Alberta, Canada. Scores for three dimensions of context (culture, leadership and evaluation) were used to categorize respondent data into one of four context groups (high, moderately high, moderately low and low). We then examined the relationships between nurses' self-reported research use and their perceived context.
Results
A 69% response rate was achieved. Statistically significant differences in nurses' perceptions of culture, leadership and evaluation, and self-reported conceptual research use were found across the three units. Differences in instrumental research use across the three groups of nurses by unit were not significant. Higher self-reported instrumental and conceptual research use by all nurses in the sample was associated with more positive perceptions of their context.
Conclusions
Overall, the results of this study lend support to the view that more positive contexts are associated with higher reports of research use in practice. These findings have implications for organizational endeavors to promote evidence-informed practice and maximize the quality of care. Importantly, these findings can be used to guide the development of interventions to target modifiable characteristics of organizational context that are influential in shaping research use behavior.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-168
PMCID: PMC2908612  PMID: 20565714
23.  Teleglaucoma: Improving Access and Efficiency for Glaucoma Care 
Teleglaucoma is the application of telemedicine for glaucoma. We review and present the current literature on teleglaucoma; present our experience with teleglaucoma programs in Alberta, Canada and Western Australia; and discuss the challenges and opportunities in this emerging field. Teleglaucoma is a novel area that was first explored a little over a decade ago and early studies highlighted the technical challenges of delivering glaucoma care remotely. Advanced technologies have since emerged that show great promise in providing access to underserviced populations. Additionally, these technologies can improve the efficiency of healthcare systems burdened with an increasing number of patients with glaucoma, and a limited supply of ophthalmologists. Additional benefits of teleglaucoma systems include e-learning and e-research. Further work is needed to fully validate and study the cost and comparative effectiveness of this approach relative to traditional models of healthcare.
doi:10.4103/0974-9233.110619
PMCID: PMC3669491  PMID: 23741133
Glaucoma; Teleglaucoma; Telemedicine; Teleophthalmology
24.  Horizontal equity in health care utilization in Brazil, 1998–2008 
Introduction
This study assesses trends in horizontal equity in the utilization of healthcare services from 1998 to 2008--a period of major economic and social change in Brazil.
Methods
Data are from nationally representative surveys repeated in 1998, 2003, and 2008. We apply established methods for assessing horizontal inequity in healthcare access (the principle that people with the same healthcare needs should have similar access to healthcare services). Horizontal inequity is calculated as the difference between observed healthcare utilization and utilization predicted by healthcare needs. Outcomes examined include the probability of a medical, dental, or hospital visit during the past 12 months; any health service use in the past two weeks; and having a usual source of healthcare. We use monthly family income to measure differences in socioeconomic position. Healthcare needs include age, sex, self-rated health, and chronic conditions. Non-need factors include income, education, geography, health insurance, and Family Health Strategy coverage.
Results
The probability of having at least one doctor visit in the past 12 months became substantially more equitable over time, ending with a slightly pro-rich orientation in 2008. Any hospitalization in the past 12 months was found to be pro-poor in all periods but became slightly less so in 2008. Dental visits showed the largest absolute decrease in horizontal inequity, although they were still the most inequitably (pro-rich) distributed outcome in 2008. Service use in the past two weeks showed decreased inequity in 2003 but exhibited no significant change between 2003 and 2008. Having a usual source of care became less pro-rich over time and was nearly income-neutral by 2008. Factors associated with greater inequities include income, having a private health plan, and geographic location. Factors associated with greater equity included health needs, schooling, and enrolment in the Family Health Strategy.
Conclusions
Healthcare utilization in Brazil appears to have become increasingly equitable over the past 10 years. Although this does not imply that equity in health outcomes has improved correspondingly, it does suggest that government policies aimed at increasing access, especially to primary care, have helped to make healthcare utilization in Brazil fairer over time.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-11-33
PMCID: PMC3444440  PMID: 22720869
Healthcare; Brazil; Access to care; Primary care
25.  Influence of Novel Norovirus GII.4 Variants on Gastroenteritis Outbreak Dynamics in Alberta and the Northern Territories, Canada between 2000 and 2008 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11599.
Background
Norovirus GII.4 is the predominant genotype circulating worldwide over the last decade causing 80% of all norovirus outbreaks with new GII.4 variants reported in parallel with periodic epidemic waves of norovirus outbreaks. The circulating new GII.4 variants and the epidemiology of norovirus outbreaks in Alberta, Canada have not been described. Our hypothesis is that the periodic epidemic norovirus outbreak activity in Alberta was driven by new GII.4 variants evolving by genetic drift.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The Alberta Provincial Public Health Laboratory performed norovirus testing using RT-PCR for suspected norovirus outbreaks in the province and the northern Territories between 2000 and 2008. At least one norovirus strain from 707 out of 1,057 (66.9%) confirmed norovirus outbreaks were successfully sequenced. Phylogenetic analysis was performed using BioNumerics and 617 (91.1%) outbreaks were characterized as caused by GII.4 with 598 assigned as novel variants including: GII.4-1996, GII.4-2002, GII.4-2004, GII.4-2006a, GII.4-2006b, GII.4-2008a and GII.4-2008b. Defining July to June of the following year as the yearly observation period, there was clear biannual pattern of low and high outbreak activity in Alberta. Within this biannual pattern, high outbreak activity followed the emergence of novel GII.4 variants. The two variants that emerged in 2006 had wider geographic distribution and resulted in higher outbreak activity compared to other variants. The outbreak settings were analyzed. Community-based group residence was the most common for both GII.4 variants and non-GII.4 variants. GII.4 variants were more commonly associated with outbreaks in acute care hospitals while outbreaks associated non-GII.4 variants were more commonly seen in school and community social events settings (p<0.01).
Conclusions/Significance
The emergence of new norovirus GII.4 variants resulted in an increased norovirus outbreak activity in the following season in a unique biannual pattern in Alberta over an eight year period. The association between antigenic drift of GII.4 strains and epidemic norovirus outbreak activity could be due to changes in host immunity, viral receptor binding efficiency or virulence factors in the new variants. Early detection of novel GII.4 variants provides vital information that could be used to forecast the norovirus outbreak burden, enhance public health preparedness and allocate appropriate resources for outbreak management.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011599
PMCID: PMC2905434  PMID: 20661286

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