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1.  In search of attachment: a qualitative study of chronically ill women transitioning between family physicians in rural Ontario, Canada 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:125.
Background
Most Canadians receive basic health services from a family physician and these physicians are particularly critical in the management of chronic disease. Canada, however, has an endemic shortage of family physicians. Physician shortages and turnover are particularly acute in rural regions, leaving their residents at risk of needing to transition between family physicians. The knowledge base about how patients manage transitioning in a climate of scarcity remains nascent. The purpose of this study is to explore the experience of transitioning for chronically ill, rurally situated Canadian women to provide insight into if and how the system supports transitioning patients and to identify opportunities for enhancing that support.
Methods
Chronically ill women managing rheumatic diseases residing in two rural counties in the province of Ontario were recruited to participate in face-to-face, semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were analysed thematically to identify emergent themes associated with the transitioning experience.
Results
Seventeen women participated in this study. Ten had experienced transitioning and four with long-standing family physicians anticipated doing so soon. The remaining three expressed concerns about transitioning. Thematic analysis revealed the presence of a transitioning trajectory with three phases. The detachment phase focused on activities related to the termination of a physician-patient relationship, including haphazard notification tactics and the absence of referrals to replacement physicians. For those unable to immediately find a new doctor, there was a phase of unattachment during which patients had to improvise ways to receive care from alternative providers or walk-in clinics. The final phase, attachment, was characterized by acceptance into the practice of a new family physician.
Conclusions
Participants often found transitioning challenging, largely due to perceived gaps in support from the health care system. Barriers to a smooth transition included inadequate notification procedures, lack of formal assistance finding new physicians, and unsatisfactory experiences seeking care during unattachment. The participants’ accounts reveal opportunities for a stronger system presence during transition and a need for further research into alternative models of primary care delivery.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-125
PMCID: PMC3548744  PMID: 23259681
Family medicine; Canada; Unattached patients; Continuity; Attachment; Rural
2.  Understanding the Unattached Population in Ontario: Evidence from the Primary Care Access Survey (PCAS) 
Healthcare Policy  2010;6(2):33-47.
To measure primary care access on an ongoing basis, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care implemented the Primary Care Access Survey (PCAS) in 2006. The PCAS, a cross-sectional telephone survey, samples approximately 8,400 Ontario adults each year. It collects information on access to a family doctor, use of services, health status and socio-demographics. Analysis of the 2007—2008 PCAS (n=16,560) shows that 7.1% of Ontario's adults were without a family doctor (i.e., unattached). The attached and unattached populations differed on socio-demographic and health characteristics. Emergency department use was similar between the two groups, but walk-in clinic use was higher among the unattached. The unattached were less likely to have used care for immediate issues but accessed care in a more timely fashion than the attached. This initial exploration of the PCAS provides a better understanding of some of the differences between the attached and unattached populations in Ontario.
PMCID: PMC3016634  PMID: 22043222
3.  Doctors accessing mental-health services: an exploratory study 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000017.
Objective
To develop a more in-depth understanding of how doctors do and do not access mental healthcare from the perspectives of doctors themselves and people they have contact with through the process.
Design
Qualitative methodology was used with semistructured interviews transcribed and analysed using Grounded Theory. Participants were 11 doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, four doctor and four non-doctor personal contacts (friends, family and colleagues) and eight treating psychiatrists.
Results
Participants described experiencing unrealistic expectations and a harsh work environment with poor self care and denial and minimisation of signs of mental health difficulties. Doctor contacts described particular difficulty in responding effectively to doctor friends, family and colleagues in need of mental healthcare. In contrast, non-doctor personal contacts were more able to identify and speak about concerns but not necessarily to enable accessing adequate mental-health services.
Conclusions
Three areas with potential to address in supporting doctors' accessing of appropriate healthcare have been identified: (1) processes to enable doctors to maintain high standards of functioning with less use of minimisation and denial; (2) improving the quality and effectiveness of informal doctor-to-doctor conversations about mental-health issues among themselves; (3) role of non-doctor support people in identifying doctors' mental-health needs and enabling their access to mental healthcare. Further research in all these areas has the potential to contribute to improving doctors' access to appropriate mental healthcare and may be of value for the general population.
Article summary
Article focus
Doctors' accessment of adequate mental healthcare is less than optimal.
Family and community contacts have an important role in accessing mental healthcare.
Our understanding of the processes related to doctors accessing mental healthcare can be improved by exploring perspectives of doctor patients, their support people and treating psychiatrists.
Key messages
Doctors' unrealistic expectations of themselves and associated minimisation and denial of a range of self care needs may function as a barrier to accessing mental healthcare.
Addressing how doctors respond to other doctors in informal conversations indicating mental healthcare needs may be helpful in improving access to care.
Non-doctor support people may have a valuable role in enabling doctors to access appropriate mental healthcare.
All these areas need further research.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study of its kind and generates new insights in an important area.
Because of challenges in recruiting doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, a hard-to-reach group, the sample is small and not broadly representative.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000017
PMCID: PMC3191385  PMID: 22021726
Child & adolescent psychiatry; adult psychiatry; physicians' health; accessing healthcare; impaired physician; mental health
4.  HIV, Gender, Race, Sexual Orientation, and Sex Work: A Qualitative Study of Intersectional Stigma Experienced by HIV-Positive Women in Ontario, Canada 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(11):e1001124.
Mona Loutfy and colleagues used focus groups to examine experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada.
Background
HIV infection rates are increasing among marginalized women in Ontario, Canada. HIV-related stigma, a principal factor contributing to the global HIV epidemic, interacts with structural inequities such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. The study objective was to explore experiences of stigma and coping strategies among HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a community-based qualitative investigation using focus groups to understand experiences of stigma and discrimination and coping methods among HIV-positive women from marginalized communities. We conducted 15 focus groups with HIV-positive women in five cities across Ontario, Canada. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis to enhance understanding of the lived experiences of diverse HIV-positive women. Focus group participants (n = 104; mean age = 38 years; 69% ethnic minority; 23% lesbian/bisexual; 22% transgender) described stigma/discrimination and coping across micro (intra/interpersonal), meso (social/community), and macro (organizational/political) realms. Participants across focus groups attributed experiences of stigma and discrimination to: HIV-related stigma, sexism and gender discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work. Coping strategies included resilience (micro), social networks and support groups (meso), and challenging stigma (macro).
Conclusions
HIV-positive women described interdependent and mutually constitutive relationships between marginalized social identities and inequities such as HIV-related stigma, sexism, racism, and homo/transphobia. These overlapping, multilevel forms of stigma and discrimination are representative of an intersectional model of stigma and discrimination. The present findings also suggest that micro, meso, and macro level factors simultaneously present barriers to health and well being—as well as opportunities for coping—in HIV-positive women's lives. Understanding the deleterious effects of stigma and discrimination on HIV risk, mental health, and access to care among HIV-positive women can inform health care provision, stigma reduction interventions, and public health policy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
HIV-related stigma and discrimination—prejudice, negative attitudes, abuse, and maltreatment directed at people living with HIV—is a major factor contributing to the global HIV epidemic. HIV-related stigma, which devalues and stereotypes people living with HIV, increases vulnerability to HIV infection by reducing access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and support. At the personal (micro) level, HIV-related stigma can make it hard for people to take tests to determine their HIV status or to tell other people that they are HIV positive. At the social/community (meso) level, it can mean that HIV-positive people are ostracized from their communities. At the organizational/political (macro) level, it can mean that health-care workers treat HIV-positive people differently and that governments are deterred from taking fast, effective action against the HIV epidemic. In addition, HIV-related stigma is negatively associated with well-being among people living with HIV. Thus, among HIV-positive people, those who have experienced HIV-related stigma have higher levels of mental and physical illness.
Why Was This Study Done?
Racism (oppression and inequity founded on ethno-racial differences), sexism and gender discrimination (oppression and inequity based on gender bias in attitudes), and homophobia and transphobia (discrimination, fear, hostility, and violence towards nonheterosexual and transgender people, respectively) can also affect access to HIV services. However, little is known about how these different forms of stigma and discrimination interact (intersect). A better understanding of the effect of intersecting stigmas on people living with HIV could help in the development of stigma reduction interventions and HIV prevention, treatment and care programs, and could help to control global HIV infection rates. In this qualitative study (an analysis of people's attitudes and experiences rather than numerical data), the researchers investigate the intersection of HIV-related stigma, racism, sexism and gender discrimination, homophobia and transphobia among marginalized HIV-positive women in Ontario, Canada. As elsewhere in the world, HIV infection rates are increasing among women in Canada. Nearly 25% of people living with HIV in Canada are women and about a quarter of all new infections are in women. Moreover, there is a disproportionately high infection rate among marginalized women in Canada such as sex workers and lesbian, bisexual, and queer women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers held 15 focus groups with 104 marginalized HIV-positive women who were recruited by word-of-mouth and through flyers circulated in community agencies serving women of diverse ethno-cultural origins. Each focus group explored topics that included challenges in daily life, medical issues and needs, and issues that were silenced within the participants' communities. The researchers analyzed the data from these focus groups using thematic analysis, an approach that identifies, analyzes, and reports themes in qualitative data. They found that women living with HIV in Ontario experienced multiple types of stigma at different levels. So, for example, women experienced HIV-related stigma at the micro (“If you're HIV-positive, you feel shameful”), meso (“The thing I hate most for people that test positive for HIV is that society ostracizes them”), and macro (“A lot of women are not getting employed because they have to disclose their status”) levels. The women also attributed their experiences of stigma and discrimination to sexism and gender discrimination, racism, homophobia and transphobia, and involvement in sex work at all three levels and described coping strategies at the micro (resilience; “I always live with hope”), meso (participation in social networks), and macro (challenging stigma) levels.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that marginalized HIV-positive women living in Ontario experience overlapping forms of stigma and discrimination and that these forms of stigma operate over micro, meso, and macro levels, as do the coping strategies adopted by the women. Together, these results support an intersectional model of stigma and discrimination that should help to inform discussions about the complexity of stigma and coping strategies. However, because only a small sample of nonrandomly selected women was involved in this study, these findings need to be confirmed in other groups of HIV-positive women. If confirmed, the complex system of interplay of different forms of stigma revealed here should help to inform health-care provision, stigma reduction interventions, and public-health policy, and could, ultimately, help to bring the global HIV epidemic under control.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap basic information about HIV/AIDS, and summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment; its publication HIV and stigma deals with HIV-related stigma in the UK
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on women, HIV, and AIDS, on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination, and on HIV/AIDS statistics for Canada (in English and Spanish)
The People Living with Stigma Index to address stigma relating to HIV and advocate on key barriers and issues perpetuating stigma; it has recently published Piecing it together for women and girls, the gender dimensions of HIV-related stigma; its website will soon include a selection of individual stories about HIV-related stigma
Patient stories about living with HIV/AIDS are available through Avert and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001124
PMCID: PMC3222645  PMID: 22131907
5.  Mandated Local Health Networks across the province of Québec: a better collaboration with primary care working in the communities? 
Key messages
New organisations were created with a mandate to lead the establishment of Local Health Networks with several partners such as primary healthcare organisations.
Various strategies were put in place to improve collaboration across and between primary healthcare organisations working in communities; for example, the implementation of new models of primary healthcare, improving access to specialists and diagnostic tests for family physicians, improving services for chronic disease in the community and helping unattached patients to find a family physician.
The planning and organisation of health services became more focused on the population of a local territory. This new mandate was based on a ‘population-based responsibility’.
Approximately 10 years have passed since the implementation of this large-scale redesign of the healthcare system in Québec, and many changes are still required.
Why this matters to us
‘Integrated care’ is a buzzword when it comes to improving healthcare services. There is a consensus among researchers, decision-makers and clinicians that services should be developed based on a network of integrated care. There are different ways to achieve this goal. The province of Québec used legislation to formally mandate healthcare organisations to function within newly created and geographically delimited Local Health Networks. Some lessons can be learned from this experiment in the province of Québec.
Background In 2004, the Québec government implemented an important reform of the healthcare system. The reform was based on the creation of new organisations called Health Services and Social Centres (HSSC), which were formed by merging several healthcare organisations. Upon their creation, each HSSC received the legal mandate to establish and lead a Local Health Network (LHN) with different partners within their territory. This mandate promotes a ‘population-based approach’ based to the responsibility for the population of a local territory.
Objective The aim of this paper is to illustrate and discuss how primary healthcare organisations (PHC) are involved in mandated LHNs in Québec. For illustration, we describe four examples that facilitate a better understanding of these integrated relationships.
Results The development of the LHNs and the different collaboration relationships are described through four examples: (1) improving PHC services within the LHN – an example of new PHC models; (2) improving access to specialists and diagnostic tests for family physicians working in the community – an example of centralised access to specialists services; (3) improving chronic-disease-related services for the population of the LHN – an example of a Diabetes Centre; and (4) improving access to family physicians for the population of the LHN – an example of the centralised waiting list for unattached patients.
Conclusion From these examples, we can see that the implementation of large-scale reform involves incorporating actors at all levels in the system, and facilitates collaboration between healthcare organisations, family physicians and the community. These examples suggest that the reform provided room for multiple innovations. The planning and organisation of health services became more focused on the population of a local territory. The LHN allows a territorial vision of these planning and organisational processes to develop. LHN also seems a valuable lever when all the stakeholders are involved and when the different organisations serve the community by providing acute care and chronic care, while taking into account the social, medical and nursing fields.
PMCID: PMC4238724  PMID: 25949720
integrated care; mandated reform; networks; primary healthcare
6.  "Seeing a doctor is just like having a date": a qualitative study on doctor shopping among overactive bladder patients in Hong Kong 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:27.
Background
Although having a regular primary care provider is noted to be beneficial to health, doctor shopping has been documented as a common treatment seeking behavior among chronically ill patients in different countries. However, little research has been conducted into the reasons behind doctor shopping behavior among patients with overactive bladder, and even less into how this behavior relates to these patients’ illness and social experiences, perceptions, and cultural practices. Therefore, this study examines overactive bladder patients to investigate the reasons behind doctor shopping behavior.
Methods
My study takes a qualitative approach, conducting 30 semi-structured individual interviews, with 30 overactive bladder patients in Hong Kong.
Results
My study found six primary themes that influenced doctor shopping behavior: lack of perceived need, convenience, work-provided medical insurance, unpleasant experiences with doctors, searching for a match doctor, and switching between biomedicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Besides the perceptual factors, participants’ social environment, illness experiences, personal cultural preference, and cultural beliefs also intertwined to generate their doctor shopping behavior. Due to the low perceived need for a regular personal primary care physician, environmental factors such as time, locational convenience, and work-provided medical insurance became decisive in doctor shopping behavior. Patients’ unpleasant illness experiences, stemming from a lack of understanding among many primary care doctors about overactive bladder, contributed to participants’ sense of mismatch with these doctors, which induced them to shop for another doctor.
Conclusions
Overactive bladder is a chronic bladder condition with very limited treatment outcome. Although patients with overactive bladder often require specialty urology treatment, it is usually beneficial for the patients to receive continuous, coordinated, comprehensive, and patient-centered support from their primary care providers. Primary care doctors’ understanding on patients with overactive bladder with empathetic attitudes is important to reduce the motivations of doctor shopping behavior among these patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-27
PMCID: PMC3936809  PMID: 24502367
Hong Kong; Doctor shopping; Perceptions; Social environment; Illness and treatment experiences; Personal cultural preference; Cultural beliefs; Overactive bladder patients
7.  Professional Uncertainty and Disempowerment Responding to Ethnic Diversity in Health Care: A Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e323.
Background
While ethnic disparities in health and health care are increasing, evidence on how to enhance quality of care and reduce inequalities remains limited. Despite growth in the scope and application of guidelines on “cultural competence,” remarkably little is known about how practising health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities. Using cancer care as a clinical context, we aimed to explore this with a range of health professionals to inform interventions to enhance quality of care.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a qualitative study involving 18 focus groups with a purposeful sample of 106 health professionals of differing disciplines, in primary and secondary care settings, working with patient populations of varying ethnic diversity in the Midlands of the UK. Data were analysed by constant comparison and we undertook processes for validation of analysis. We found that, as they sought to offer appropriate care, health professionals wrestled with considerable uncertainty and apprehension in responding to the needs of patients of ethnicities different from their own. They emphasised their perceived ignorance about cultural difference and were anxious about being culturally inappropriate, causing affront, or appearing discriminatory or racist. Professionals' ability to think and act flexibly or creatively faltered. Although trying to do their best, professionals' uncertainty was disempowering, creating a disabling hesitancy and inertia in their practice. Most professionals sought and applied a knowledge-based cultural expertise approach to patients, though some identified the risk of engendering stereotypical expectations of patients. Professionals' uncertainty and disempowerment had the potential to perpetuate each other, to the detriment of patient care.
Conclusions
This study suggests potential mechanisms by which health professionals may inadvertently contribute to ethnic disparities in health care. It identifies critical opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively. Interventions should help professionals acknowledge their uncertainty and its potential to create inertia in their practice. A shift away from a cultural expertise model toward a greater focus on each patient as an individual may help.
From a qualitative study, Joe Kai and colleagues have identified opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively to challenges in their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Communities are increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity (belonging to a group of people defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin) and race (belonging to a group identified by inherited physical characteristics). Although health professionals and governments are striving to ensure that everybody has the same access to health care, there is increasing evidence of ethnic inequalities in health-care outcomes. Some of these inequalities reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—Ashkenazi Jews, for example, often carry an altered gene that increases their chance of developing aggressive breast cancer. Often, however, these differences reflect inequalities in the health care received by different ethnic groups. To improve this situation, “cultural competence” has been promoted over recent years. Cultural competence is the development of skills by individuals and organizations that allow them to work effectively with people from different cultures. Health professionals are now taught about ethnic differences in health beliefs and practices, religion, and communication styles to help them provide the best service to all their patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Numerous guidelines aim to improve cultural competency but little is known about how health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic groups. Is their behavior influenced by ethnicity in ways that might contribute to health care disparities? For example, do doctors sometimes avoid medical examinations for fear of causing offence because of cultural differences? If more were known about how health professionals handle ethnic diversity (a term used here to include both ethnicity and race) it might be possible to reduce ethnic inequalities in health care. In this qualitative study, the researchers have explored how health professionals involved in cancer care are affected by working with ethnically diverse patients. A qualitative study is one that collects nonquantitative data such as how doctors “feel” about treating people of different ethnic backgrounds; a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes in different ethnic groups.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 106 doctors, nurses, and other health-related professionals from different health-service settings in the Midlands, an ethnically diverse region of the UK. They organized 18 focus groups in which the health professionals described their experiences of caring for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The participants were encouraged to recall actual cases and to identify what they saw as problems and strengths in their interactions with these patients. The researchers found that the health professionals wrestled with many challenges when providing health care for patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. These challenges included problems with language and with general communication (for example, deciding when it was acceptable to touch a patient to show empathy). Health professionals also worried they did not know enough about cultural differences. As a result, they said they often felt uncertain of their ability to avoid causing affront or appearing racist. This uncertainty, the researchers report, disempowered the health professionals, sometimes making them hesitate or fail to do what was best for their patient.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal that health professionals often experience considerable uncertainty when caring for ethnically diverse patients, even after training in cultural competency. They also show that this uncertainty can lead to hesitancy and inertia, which might contribute to ethnic health care inequalities. Because the study participants were probably already interested in ethnic diversity and health care, interviews with other health professionals (and investigations of patient experiences) are needed to confirm these findings. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest several interventions that might reduce health care inequalities caused by ethnic diversity. For example, health professionals should be encouraged to recognize their uncertainty and should have access to more information and training about ethnic differences. In addition, there should be a shift in emphasis away from relying on knowledge-based cultural information towards taking an “ethnographic” approach. In other words, health professionals should be helped to feel able to ask their patients about what matters most to them as individuals about their illness and treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323.
Information on cultural competence and health care is available from the US National Center for Cultural Competence (in English and Spanish) and DiversityRx
PROCEED (Professionals Responding to Cancer in Ethnic Diversity) is a multimedia training tool for educators within the health and allied professions developed from the results of this study; a press release on PROCEED is available from the University of Nottingham
Transcultural Health Care Practice: An educational resource for nurses and health care practitioners is available on the web site of the UK Royal College of Nursing
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323
PMCID: PMC2071935  PMID: 18001148
8.  Canadian family doctors’ roles and responsibilities toward outbound medical tourists 
Canadian Family Physician  2013;59(12):1314-1319.
Abstract
Objective
To explore how Canadian family doctors understand their roles and responsibilities toward patients who seek health care abroad.
Design
Six focus groups were held with family doctors across British Columbia to explore their experiences with and perspectives on outbound medical tourism. Focus groups were digitally recorded, transcribed, and subsequently thematically coded to discover common issues and themes across the entire data set.
Setting
Focus groups were held with family doctors in 6 cities in British Columbia that provided representation from all provincial health authorities and a range of urban contexts.
Participants
A total of 22 currently practising family doctors participated across the 6 focus groups, with groups ranging in size from 2 to 6 participants (average 4 participants).
Methods
Thematic analysis of the transcripts identified cross-cutting themes that emerged across the 6 focus groups.
Main findings
Participants reported that medical tourism threatened patients’ continuity of care. Informational continuity is disrupted before patients go abroad because patients regularly omit family doctors from preoperative planning and upon return home when patients lack complete or translated medical reports. Participants believed that their responsibilities to patients resumed once the patients had returned home from care abroad, but were worried about not being able to provide adequate follow-up care. Participants were also concerned about bearing legal liability toward patients should they be asked to clinically support treatments started abroad.
Conclusion
Medical tourism poses challenges to Canadian family doctors when trying to reconcile their traditional roles and responsibilities with the novel demands of private out-of-country care pursued by their patients. Guidance from professional bodies regarding physicians’ responsibilities to Canadian medical tourists is currently lacking. Developing these supports would help address challenges faced in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3860932  PMID: 24336547
9.  A qualitative study of the views of patients with long-term conditions on family doctors in Hong Kong 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:46.
Background
Primary care based management of long-term conditions (LTCs) is high on the international healthcare agenda, including the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong has a 'mixed economy' healthcare system with both public and private sectors with a range of types of primary care doctors. Recent Hong Kong Government policy aims to enhance the management of LTCs in primary care possibly based on a 'family doctor' model. Patients' views on this are not well documented and the aim of the present study was to explore the views of patients with LTCs on family doctors in Hong Kong.
Methods
The views of patients (with a variety of LTCs) on family doctors in Hong Kong were explored. Two groups of participants were interviewed; a) those who considered themselves as having a family doctor, b) those who considered themselves as not having a family doctor (either with a regular primary care doctor but not a family doctor or with no regular primary care doctor). In-depth individual semi-structured interviews were carried out with 28 participants (10 with a family doctor, 10 with a regular doctor, and 8 with no regular doctor) and analysed using the constant comparative method.
Results
Participants who did not have a family doctor were familiar with the concept but regarded it as a 'luxury item' for the rich within the private healthcare system. Those with a regular family doctor (all private) regarded having one as important to their and their family's health. Participants in both groups felt that as well as the more usual family medicine specialist or general practitioner, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also had the potential to be family doctors. However most participants attended the public healthcare system for management of their LTCs whether they had a family doctor or not. Cost, perceived need, quality, trust, and choice were all barriers to the use of family doctors for the management of their LTCs.
Conclusions
Important barriers to the adoption of a 'family doctor' model of management of LTCs exist in Hong Kong. Effective policy implementation seems unlikely unless these complex barriers are addressed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-46
PMCID: PMC2889885  PMID: 20525340
10.  Navigating the mental health and addictions maze: a community-based pilot project of a new role in primary mental health care 
Problem being addressed In a medically under-served rural Canadian community where overburdened family physicians provide most of the cae for patients with mental illness and substance use problems, providing access to timely and effective help for all citizens is a challenge. The care burden of unmet mental health needs is experienced throughout the larger community by diverse community service providers.
Supporting a shared understanding of the needs and challenges, and ensuring effective connection and clear communication between diverse disciplines in primary care, community services and the formal mental health system requires models of service organisation and delivery that go beyond traditional clinical roles.
In cancer care a navigator model has previously been used to address information and service gaps and improve patient experience. We wished to evaluate whether a community-supported navigator model could help solve some of the challenges for clients and service providers in our community, while at the same time allowing data collection that offers a clearer understanding of actual service needs.
Pre-programme activities Community members formed an interdisciplinary community steering committee which met monthly for two years to develop and adapt a service and collaborative research model, generate support, secure ethical approval and raise funds.
Programme description The navigator service was embedded in a local family service organisation, the steering committee met monthly, and along with the researchers met regularly with programme staff and provided support, oversight and development of ethical data collection.
Navigators provided low barrier access, comprehensive assessment, collaborative service planning, and linkage and referral facilitation for any individual or family who requested assistance with a mental health or substance use concern. Navigators also serve as an information resource for any community service provider or family physician needing to assist a client, and collected data on local service needs.
Conclusions Analysis of quantitative administrative data, consented research data, and qualitative interview and survey data demonstrated that this community supported navigator service model was effective in improving service access, assessment and linkage for citizens with mental health and addictions concerns, and connecting a range of community services into a more effective network of care. Connecting unattached clients with a primary care provider and supporting needs assessment and service planning for patients of local family physicians were key navigator functions.
PMCID: PMC2777588  PMID: 22477883
community based participator research; mental health navigation; navigator model; primary mental health care
11.  In Idiopathic Calcium Oxalate Stone Formers, Unattached Stones Show Evidence of Having Originated as Attached Stones on Randall’s Plaque 
BJU international  2009;105(2):242-245.
Objective
To analyze the structure and composition of unattached stones in idiopathic calcium oxalate stone formers (ICSF) and compare them to attached stones from the same cohort in order to investigate whether more than one pathogenic mechanism exists for stone formation in ICSF.
Patients and methods
ICSF undergoing percutaneous nephrolithotomy or ureteroscopy for treatment of nephrolithiasis were consented for this study. All accessible renal papillae were endoscopically imaged using a digital endoscope. All stones were removed and determined by the operating surgeon to be attached or unattached to the underlying papilla. Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), which provides three-dimensional analysis of entire stones, was used to compare the structure and composition of attached versus unattached stones.
Results
Of 115 stones collected from 9 patients (12 renal units), only 25 stones were found not to be attached to renal papillae. Of these 25 stones, 4 were lost and 12 showed definite morphological evidence of having been attached to tissue, probably having been knocked off of papillae during access. For the remaining 9 stones, micro-CT analysis revealed at least one internal region of calcium phosphate within each of these unattached calcium oxalate (CaOx) stones. That is, the internal structure of the unattached stones is consistent with their having originated attached to RP, and then having become detached but retained in the kidney, with new layers of CaOx eventually covering the original attachment site.
Conclusions
Micro CT analysis supports the hypothesis that in ICSF, both attached and unattached stones occur as a result of a common pathogenic mechanism. That is, in this type of stone former, CaOx stones—even those not showing morphology that betrays attachment—all originate attached to interstitial plaque on the renal papilla.
doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2009.08637.x
PMCID: PMC2807918  PMID: 19549258
Randall’s plaque; nephrolithiasis; stone pathogenesis; micro computed tomography
12.  Physician Awareness of Drug Cost: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(9):e283.
Background
Pharmaceutical costs are the fastest-growing health-care expense in most developed countries. Higher drug costs have been shown to negatively impact patient outcomes. Studies suggest that doctors have a poor understanding of pharmaceutical costs, but the data are variable and there is no consistent pattern in awareness. We designed this systematic review to investigate doctors' knowledge of the relative and absolute costs of medications and to determine the factors that influence awareness.
Methods and Findings
Our search strategy included The Cochrane Library, EconoLit, EMBASE, and MEDLINE as well as reference lists and contact with authors who had published two or more articles on the topic or who had published within 10 y of the commencement of our review. Studies were included if: either doctors, trainees (interns or residents), or medical students were surveyed; there were more than ten survey respondents; cost of pharmaceuticals was estimated; results were expressed quantitatively; there was a clear description of how authors defined “accurate estimates”; and there was a description of how the true cost was determined. Two authors reviewed each article for eligibility and extracted data independently. Cost accuracy outcomes were summarized, but data were not combined in meta-analysis because of extensive heterogeneity. Qualitative data related to physicians and drug costs were also extracted. The final analysis included 24 articles. Cost accuracy was low; 31% of estimates were within 20% or 25% of the true cost, and fewer than 50% were accurate by any definition of cost accuracy. Methodological weaknesses were common, and studies of low methodological quality showed better cost awareness. The most important factor influencing the pattern and accuracy of estimation was the true cost of therapy. High-cost drugs were estimated more accurately than inexpensive ones (74% versus 31%, Chi-square p < 0.001). Doctors consistently overestimated the cost of inexpensive products and underestimated the cost of expensive ones (binomial test, 89/101, p < 0.001). When asked, doctors indicated that they want cost information and feel it would improve their prescribing but that it is not accessible.
Conclusions
Doctors' ignorance of costs, combined with their tendency to underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of inexpensive ones, demonstrate a lack of appreciation of the large difference in cost between inexpensive and expensive drugs. This discrepancy in turn could have profound implications for overall drug expenditures. Much more focus is required in the education of physicians about costs and the access to cost information. Future research should focus on the accessibility and reliability of medical cost information and whether the provision of this information is used by doctors and makes a difference to physician prescribing. Additionally, future work should strive for higher methodological standards to avoid the biases we found in the current literature, including attention to the method of assessing accuracy that allows larger absolute estimation ranges for expensive drugs.
From a review of data from 24 studies, Michael Allan and colleagues conclude that doctors often underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of those that are inexpensive.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Many medicines are extremely expensive, and the cost of buying them is a major (and increasing) proportion of the total cost of health care. Governments and health-care organizations try to find ways of keeping down costs without reducing the effectiveness of the health care they provide, but their efforts to control what is spent on medicines have not been very successful. There are often two or more equally effective drugs available for treating the same condition, and it would obviously help keep costs down if, when a doctor prescribes a medicine, he or she chose the cheapest of the effective drugs available. This choice could result in savings for whoever is paying for the drugs, be it the government, the patient, or a medical insurance organization.
Why Was This Study Done?
Doctors who prescribe drugs cannot be expected to know the exact cost of each drug on the market, but it would he helpful if they had some impression of the cost of a treatment and how the various alternatives compare in price. However, systems deciding how drugs are priced are often very complex. (This is particularly the case in the US.) The researchers wanted to find out how aware doctors are regarding drug costs and the difference between the alternatives. They also wanted to know what factors affected their awareness.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They decided to do a systematic review of all the research already conducted that addressed this issue so that the evidence from all of them could be considered together. In order to do such a review they had to specify precise requirements for the type of study that they would include and then comprehensively search the medical literature for such studies. They found 24 studies that met their requirements. From these studies, they concluded that doctors were usually not accurate when asked to estimate the cost of drugs; doctors came up with estimates that were within 25% of the true cost less than one-third of the time. In particular doctors tended to underestimate the cost of expensive drugs and overestimate the cost of the cheaper alternatives. A further analysis of the studies showed that many doctors said they would appreciate more accurate information on costs to help them choose which drugs to prescribe but that such information was not readily available.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers concluded that their systematic review demonstrates a lack of appreciation by prescribing doctors of the large difference in cost between inexpensive and expensive drugs, and that this finding has serious implications for overall spending on drugs. They call for more education and information to be provided to doctors on the cost of medicines together with better processes to help doctors in making such decisions.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040283.
A brief guide to systematic reviews has been published by the BMJ (British Medical Journal)
The Web site of the Cochrane Collaboration is a more detailed source of information on systematic reviews; in particular there is a newcomers' guide and information for health-care consumers
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, private operating foundation focusing on the major health care issues in the US, has a section on prescription drugs and their costs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040283
PMCID: PMC1989748  PMID: 17896856
13.  A comparative analysis of chiropractic and general practitioner patients in North America: Findings from the joint Canada/United States survey of health, 2002–03 
Background
Scientifically rigorous general population-based studies comparing chiropractic with primary-care medical patients within and between countries have not been published. The objective of this study is to compare care seekers of doctors of chiropractic (DCs) and general practitioners (GPs) in the United States and Canada on a comprehensive set of sociodemographic, quality of life, and health-related variables.
Methods
Data are from the Joint Canada/U.S. Survey of Health (JCUSH), 2002–03, a random sample of adults in Canada (N = 3505) and the U.S. (N = 5183). Respondents were categorized according to their pattern of health-care use in the past year. Distributions, percentages, and estimates (adjusted odds ratios) weighted to reflect the complex survey design were produced.
Results
Nearly 80% of respondents sought care from GPs; 12% sought DC care. Compared with GP only patients, DC patients in both countries tend to be under 65 and white, with arthritis and disabling back or neck pain. U.S. DC patients are more likely than GP only patients to be obese and to lack a regular doctor; Canadian DC patients are more likely than GP only patients to be college educated, to have higher incomes, and dissatisfied with MD care. Compared with seekers of both GP and DC care, DC only patients in both countries have fewer chronic conditions, take fewer drugs, and have no regular doctor. U.S. DC only patients are more likely than GP+DC patients to be uninsured and dissatisfied with health care; Canadian DC only patients are more likely than GP+DC patients to be under 45, male, less educated, smokers, and not obese, without disabling back or neck pain, on fewer drugs, and lacking a regular doctor.
Conclusion
Chiropractic and GP patients are dissimilar in both Canada and the U.S., with key differences between countries and between DC patients who do and do not seek care from GPs. Such variation has broad and potentially far-reaching health policy and research implications.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-49
PMCID: PMC1458338  PMID: 16600038
14.  “Do your homework…and then hope for the best”: the challenges that medical tourism poses to Canadian family physicians’ support of patients’ informed decision-making 
BMC Medical Ethics  2013;14:37.
Background
Medical tourism—the practice where patients travel internationally to privately access medical care—may limit patients’ regular physicians’ abilities to contribute to the informed decision-making process. We address this issue by examining ways in which Canadian family doctors’ typical involvement in patients’ informed decision-making is challenged when their patients engage in medical tourism.
Methods
Focus groups were held with family physicians practicing in British Columbia, Canada. After receiving ethics approval, letters of invitation were faxed to family physicians in six cities. 22 physicians agreed to participate and focus groups ranged from two to six participants. Questions explored participants’ perceptions of and experiences with medical tourism. A coding scheme was created using inductive and deductive codes that captured issues central to analytic themes identified by the investigators. Extracts of the coded data that dealt with informed decision-making were shared among the investigators in order to identify themes. Four themes were identified, all of which dealt with the challenges that medical tourism poses to family physicians’ abilities to support medical tourists’ informed decision-making. Findings relevant to each theme were contrasted against the existing medical tourism literature so as to assist in understanding their significance.
Results
Four key challenges were identified: 1) confusion and tensions related to the regular domestic physician’s role in decision-making; 2) tendency to shift responsibility related to healthcare outcomes onto the patient because of the regular domestic physician’s reduced role in shared decision-making; 3) strains on the patient-physician relationship and corresponding concern around the responsibility of the foreign physician; and 4) regular domestic physicians’ concerns that treatments sought abroad may not be based on the best available medical evidence on treatment efficacy.
Conclusions
Medical tourism is creating new challenges for Canadian family physicians who now find themselves needing to carefully negotiate their roles and responsibilities in the informed decision-making process of their patients who decide to seek private treatment abroad as medical tourists. These physicians can and should be educated to enable their patients to look critically at the information available about medical tourism providers and to ask critical questions of patients deciding to access care abroad.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-37
PMCID: PMC3849019  PMID: 24053385
15.  The Effect of Universal Influenza Immunization on Mortality and Health Care Use 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):e211.
Background
In 2000, Ontario, Canada, initiated a universal influenza immunization program (UIIP) to provide free influenza vaccines for the entire population aged 6 mo or older. Influenza immunization increased more rapidly in younger age groups in Ontario compared to other Canadian provinces, which all maintained targeted immunization programs. We evaluated the effect of Ontario's UIIP on influenza-associated mortality, hospitalizations, emergency department (ED) use, and visits to doctors' offices.
Methods and Findings
Mortality and hospitalization data from 1997 to 2004 for all ten Canadian provinces were obtained from national datasets. Physician billing claims for visits to EDs and doctors' offices were obtained from provincial administrative datasets for four provinces with comprehensive data. Since outcomes coded as influenza are known to underestimate the true burden of influenza, we studied more broadly defined conditions. Hospitalizations, ED use, doctors' office visits for pneumonia and influenza, and all-cause mortality from 1997 to 2004 were modelled using Poisson regression, controlling for age, sex, province, influenza surveillance data, and temporal trends, and used to estimate the expected baseline outcome rates in the absence of influenza activity. The primary outcome was then defined as influenza-associated events, or the difference between the observed events and the expected baseline events. Changes in influenza-associated outcome rates before and after UIIP introduction in Ontario were compared to the corresponding changes in other provinces. After UIIP introduction, influenza-associated mortality decreased more in Ontario (relative rate [RR] = 0.26) than in other provinces (RR = 0.43) (ratio of RRs = 0.61, p = 0.002). Similar differences between Ontario and other provinces were observed for influenza-associated hospitalizations (RR = 0.25 versus 0.44, ratio of RRs = 0.58, p < 0.001), ED use (RR = 0.31 versus 0.69, ratio of RRs = 0.45, p < 0.001), and doctors' office visits (RR = 0.21 versus 0.52, ratio of RRs = 0.41, p < 0.001). Sensitivity analyses were carried out to assess consistency, specificity, and the presence of a dose-response relationship. Limitations of this study include the ecological study design, the nonspecific outcomes, difficulty in modeling baseline events, data quality and availability, and the inability to control for potentially important confounders.
Conclusions
Compared to targeted programs in other provinces, introduction of universal vaccination in Ontario in 2000 was associated with relative reductions in influenza-associated mortality and health care use. The results of this large-scale natural experiment suggest that universal vaccination may be an effective public health measure for reducing the annual burden of influenza.
Comparing influenza-related mortality and health care use between Ontario and other Canadian provinces, Jeffrey Kwong and colleagues find evidence that Ontario's universal vaccination program has reduced the burden of influenza.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Seasonal outbreaks (epidemics) of influenza—a viral disease of the nose, throat, and airways—affect millions of people and kill about 500,000 individuals every year. These epidemics occur because of “antigenic drift”: small but frequent changes in the viral proteins to which the human immune system responds mean that an immune response produced one year by exposure to an influenza virus provides only partial protection against influenza the next year. Immunization can boost this natural immunity and reduce a person's chances of catching influenza. That is, an injection of killed influenza viruses can be used to prime the immune system so that it responds quickly and efficiently when exposed to live virus. However, because of antigenic drift, for influenza immunization to be effective, it has to be repeated annually with a vaccine that contains the major circulating strains of the influenza virus.
Why Was This Study Done?
Public-health organizations recommend targeted vaccination programs, so that elderly people, infants, and chronically ill individuals—the people most likely to die from pneumonia and other complications of influenza—receive annual influenza vaccination. Some experts argue, however, that universal vaccination might provide populations with better protection from influenza, both directly by increasing the number of vaccinated people and indirectly through “herd immunity,” which occurs when a high proportion of the population is immune to an infectious disease, so that even unvaccinated people are unlikely to become infected (because infected people rarely come into contact with susceptible people). In this study, the researchers compare the effects of the world's first free universal influenza immunization program (UIIP), which started in 2000 in the Canadian province of Ontario, on influenza-associated deaths and health care use with the effects of targeted vaccine programs on the same outcomes elsewhere in Canada.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Using national records, the researchers collected data on influenza vaccination, on all deaths, and on hospitalizations for pneumonia and influenza in all Canadian provinces between 1997 and 2004. They also collected data on emergency department and doctors' office visits for pneumonia and influenza for Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and Manitoba. They then used a mathematical model to estimate the baseline rates for these outcomes in the absence of influenza activity, and from these calculated weekly rates for deaths and health care use specifically resulting from influenza. In 1996–1997, 18% of the population was vaccinated against influenza in Ontario whereas in the other provinces combined the vaccination rate was 13%. On average, since 2000—the year in which UIIP was introduced in Ontario—vaccination rates have risen to 38% and 24% in Ontario and the other provinces, respectively. Since the introduction of UIIP, the researchers report, influenza-associated deaths have decreased by 74% in Ontario but by only 57% in the other provinces combined. Influenza-associated use of health care facilities has also decreased more in Ontario than in the other provinces over the same period.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings are limited by some aspects of the study design. For example, they depend on the accuracy of the assumptions made when calculating events due specifically to influenza, and on the availability and accuracy of vaccination and clinical outcome data. In addition, it is possible that influenza-associated deaths and health care use may have decreased more in Ontario than in the other Canadian provinces because of some unrecognized health care changes specific to Ontario but unrelated to the introduction of universal influenza vaccination. Nevertheless, these findings indicate that, compared to the targeted vaccination programs in the other Canadian provinces, the Ontarian UIIP is associated with reductions in influenza-associated deaths and health care use, particularly in people younger than 65 years old. This effect is seen at a level of vaccination unlikely to produce herd immunity so might be more marked if the uptake of vaccination could be further increased. Thus, although it is possible that Canada is a special case, these findings suggest that universal influenza vaccination might be an effective way to reduce the global burden of influenza.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050211.
Read the related PLoSMedicine Perspective by Cécile Viboud and Mark Miller
A related PLoSMedicine Research Article by Carline van den Dool and colleagues is also available
The Ontario Ministry of Health provides information on its universal influenza immunization program (in English and French)
The World Health Organization provides information on influenza and on influenza vaccines (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information for patients and professionals on all aspects of influenza (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides a list of links to other information about influenza (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service provides information about the science of immunization, including a simple explanatory animation of immunity
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050211
PMCID: PMC2573914  PMID: 18959473
16.  Access to primary health care among homeless adults in Toronto, Canada: results from the Street Health survey 
Open Medicine  2011;5(2):e94-e103.
Background
Despite experiencing a disproportionate burden of acute and chronic health issues, many homeless people face barriers to primary health care. Most studies on health care access among homeless populations have been conducted in the United States, and relatively few are available from countries such as Canada that have a system of universal health insurance. We investigated access to primary health care among a representative sample of homeless adults in Toronto, Canada.
Methods
Homeless adults were recruited from shelter and meal programs in downtown Toronto between November 2006 and February 2007. Cross-sectional data were collected on demographic characteristics, health status, health determinants and access to health care. We used multivariable logistic regression analysis to investigate the association between having a family doctor as the usual source of health care (an indicator of access to primary care) and health status, proof of health insurance, and substance use after adjustment for demographic characteristics.
Results
Of the 366 participants included in our study, 156 (43%) reported having a family doctor. After adjustment for potential confounders and covariates, we found that the odds of having a family doctor significantly decreased with every additional year spent homeless in the participant’s lifetime (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.91, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.86–0.97). Having a family doctor was significantly associated with being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (adjusted OR 2.70, 95% CI 1.04–7.00), having a health card (proof of health insurance coverage in the province of Ontario) (adjusted OR 2.80, 95% CI 1.61–4.89) and having a chronic medical condition (adjusted OR 1.91, 95% CI 1.03–3.53).
Interpretation
Less than half of the homeless people in Toronto who participated in our study reported having a family doctor. Not having a family doctor was associated with key indicators of health care access and health status, including increasing duration of homelessness, lack of proof of health insurance coverage and having a chronic medical condition. Increased efforts are needed to address the barriers to appropriate health care and good health that persist in this population despite the provision of health insurance.
PMCID: PMC3148004  PMID: 21915240
17.  Community Nurses' View of General Practice Attachment 
British Medical Journal  1969;3(5670):584-587.
An analysis of 98 health visitors and district nurses attached and non-attached to general practitioners in three local authority areas showed that most of them were aged over 40 and that many had entered domiciliary work because of the convenient hours or because of its intangible attractions. Adequate preparation for attachment was considered important, particularly a clear definition of the roles of the attached staff and their relationships to other workers in the practice.
Attached staff were found to be much more satisfied with the information given by the general practitioner about their patients than were unattached staff, and the former usually had access to the patients' medical records. The principal advantages of attachment were listed as access to family history; improved co-ordination within the practice and co-operation with the social services; favourable patient response; and increased mileage and work-load; the impossibility of crossing local authority boundaries; and having to deal with families registered with more than one doctor.
PMCID: PMC1984371  PMID: 5803696
18.  Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Using an Ontario Policy Model 
Executive Summary
In July 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) evidentiary framework, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding treatment strategies for patients with COPD. This project emerged from a request by the Health System Strategy Division of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care that MAS provide them with an evidentiary platform on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of COPD interventions.
After an initial review of health technology assessments and systematic reviews of COPD literature, and consultation with experts, MAS identified the following topics for analysis: vaccinations (influenza and pneumococcal), smoking cessation, multidisciplinary care, pulmonary rehabilitation, long-term oxygen therapy, noninvasive positive pressure ventilation for acute and chronic respiratory failure, hospital-at-home for acute exacerbations of COPD, and telehealth (including telemonitoring and telephone support). Evidence-based analyses were prepared for each of these topics. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed where appropriate. In addition, a review of the qualitative literature on patient, caregiver, and provider perspectives on living and dying with COPD was conducted, as were reviews of the qualitative literature on each of the technologies included in these analyses.
The Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis series is made up of the following reports, which can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: http://www.hqontario.ca/en/mas/mas_ohtas_mn.html.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Evidentiary Framework
Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccinations for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Long-Term Oxygen Therapy for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Acute Respiratory Failure Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Noninvasive Positive Pressure Ventilation for Chronic Respiratory Failure Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Hospital-at-Home Programs for Patients With Acute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis
Cost-Effectiveness of Interventions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Using an Ontario Policy Model
Experiences of Living and Dying With COPD: A Systematic Review and Synthesis of the Qualitative Empirical Literature
For more information on the qualitative review, please contact Mita Giacomini at: http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/ceb/faculty_member_giacomini.htm.
For more information on the economic analysis, please visit the PATH website: http://www.path-hta.ca/About-Us/Contact-Us.aspx.
The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) collaborative has produced an associated report on patient preference for mechanical ventilation. For more information, please visit the THETA website: http://theta.utoronto.ca/static/contact.
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by chronic inflammation throughout the airways, parenchyma, and pulmonary vasculature. The inflammation causes repeated cycles of injury and repair in the airway wall— inflammatory cells release a variety of chemicals and lead to cellular damage. The inflammation process also contributes to the loss of elastic recoil pressure in the lung, thereby reducing the driving pressure for expiratory flow through narrowed and poorly supported airways, in which airflow resistance is significantly increased. Expiratory flow limitation is the pathophysiological hallmark of COPD.
Exacerbations of COPD contribute considerably to morbidity and mortality, and impose a burden on the health care system. They are a leading cause of emergency room visits and hospitalizations, particularly in the winter. In Canada, the reported average cost for treating a moderate exacerbation is $641; for a major exacerbation, the cost is $10,086.
Objective
The objective of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness and budget impact of the following interventions in moderate to very severe COPD, investigated in the Medical Advisory Secretariat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Mega-Analysis Series:
smoking cessation programs in moderate COPD in an outpatient setting:
– intensive counselling (IC) versus usual care (UC)
– nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) versus UC
– IC + NRT versus placebo
– bupropion versus placebo
multidisciplinary care (MDC) teams versus UC in moderate to severe COPD in an outpatient setting
pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) versus UC following acute exacerbations in moderate to severe COPD
long-term oxygen therapy (LTOT) versus UC in severe hypoxemia in COPD in an outpatient setting
ventilation:
– noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NPPV) + usual medical care versus usual medical care in acute respiratory failure due to an acute exacerbation in severe COPD in an inpatient setting
– weaning with NPPV versus weaning with invasive mechanical ventilation in acute respiratory failure due to an acute exacerbation in very severe COPD in an inpatient setting
Methods
A cost-utility analysis was conducted using a Markov probabilistic model. The model consists of different health states based on the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease COPD severity classification. Patients were assigned different costs and utilities depending on their severity health state during each model cycle. In addition to moving between health states, patients were at risk of acute exacerbations of COPD in each model cycle. During each cycle, patients could have no acute exacerbation, a minor acute exacerbation, or a major exacerbation. For the purposes of the model, a major exacerbation was defined as one that required hospitalization. Patients were assigned different costs and utilities in each model cycle, depending on whether they experienced an exacerbation, and its severity.
Starting cohorts reflected the various patient populations from the trials analyzed. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs)—that is, costs per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY)—were estimated for each intervention using clinical parameters and summary estimates of relative risks of (re)hospitalization, as well as mortality and abstinence rates, from the COPD mega-analysis evidence-based analyses.
A budget impact analysis was also conducted to project incremental costs already being incurred or resources already in use in Ontario. Using provincial data, medical literature, and expert opinion, health system impacts were calculated for the strategies investigated.
All costs are reported in Canadian dollars.
Results
All smoking cessation programs were dominant (i.e., less expensive and more effective overall). Assuming a base case cost of $1,041 and $1,527 per patient for MDC and PR, the ICER was calculated to be $14,123 per QALY and $17,938 per QALY, respectively. When the costs of MDC and PR were varied in a 1-way sensitivity analysis to reflect variation in resource utilization reported in the literature, the ICER increased to $55,322 per QALY and $56,270 per QALY, respectively. Assuming a base case cost of $2,261 per year per patient for LTOT as reported by data from the Ontario provincial program, the ICER was calculated to be $38,993 per QALY. Ventilation strategies were dominant (i.e., cheaper and more effective), as reflected by the clinical evidence of significant in-hospital days avoided in the study group.
Ontario currently pays for IC through physician billing (translating to a current burden of $8 million) and bupropion through the Ontario Drug Benefit program (translating to a current burden of almost $2 million). The burden of NRT was projected to be $10 million, with future expenditures of up to $1 million in Years 1 to 3 for incident cases.
Ontario currently pays for some chronic disease management programs. Based on the most recent Family Health Team data, the costs of MDC programs to manage COPD were estimated at $85 million in fiscal year 2010, with projected future expenditures of up to $51 million for incident cases, assuming the base case cost of the program. However, this estimate does not accurately reflect the current costs to the province because of lack of report by Family Health Teams, lack of capture of programs outside this model of care by any data set in the province, and because the resource utilization and frequency of visits/follow-up phone calls were based on the findings in the literature rather than the actual Family Health Team COPD management programs in place in Ontario. Therefore, MDC resources being utilized in the province are unknown and difficult to measure.
Data on COPD-related hospitalizations were pulled from Ontario administrative data sets and based on consultation with experts. Half of hospitalized patients will access PR resources at least once, and half of these will repeat the therapy, translating to a potential burden of $17 million to $32 million, depending on the cost of the program. These resources are currently being absorbed, but since utilization is not being captured by any data set in the province, it is difficult to quantify and estimate. Provincial programs may be under-resourced, and patients may not be accessing these services effectively.
Data from the LTOT provincial program (based on fiscal year 2006 information) suggested that the burden was $65 million, with potential expenditures of up to $0.2 million in Years 1 to 3 for incident cases.
From the clinical evidence on ventilation (i.e., reduction in length of stay in hospital), there were potential cost savings to the hospitals of $42 million and $12 million for NPPV and weaning with NPPV, respectively, if the study intervention were adopted. Future cost savings were projected to be up to $4 million and $1 million, respectively, for incident cases.
Conclusions
Currently, costs for most of these interventions are being absorbed by provider services, the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, the Assistive Devices Program, and the hospital global budget. The most cost-effective intervention for COPD will depend on decision-makers’ willingness to pay. Lack of provincial data sets capturing resource utilization for the various interventions poses a challenge for estimating current burden and future expenditures.
PMCID: PMC3384363  PMID: 23074422
19.  Psychosocial Factors That Shape Patient and Carer Experiences of Dementia Diagnosis and Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001331.
A systematic review of qualitative studies conducted by Frances Bunn and colleagues identifies and describes the experiences of patients and caregivers on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia.
Background
Early diagnosis and intervention for people with dementia is increasingly considered a priority, but practitioners are concerned with the effects of earlier diagnosis and interventions on patients and caregivers. This systematic review evaluates the qualitative evidence about how people accommodate and adapt to the diagnosis of dementia and its immediate consequences, to guide practice.
Methods and Findings
We systematically reviewed qualitative studies exploring experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia, and their carers, around diagnosis and the transition to becoming a person with dementia. We searched PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, CINAHL, and the British Nursing Index (all searched in May 2010 with no date restrictions; PubMed search updated in February 2012), checked reference lists, and undertook citation searches in PubMed and Google Scholar (ongoing to September 2011). We used thematic synthesis to identify key themes, commonalities, barriers to earlier diagnosis, and support identified as helpful. We identified 126 papers reporting 102 studies including a total of 3,095 participants. Three overarching themes emerged from our analysis: (1) pathways through diagnosis, including its impact on identity, roles, and relationships; (2) resolving conflicts to accommodate a diagnosis, including the acceptability of support, focusing on the present or the future, and the use or avoidance of knowledge; and (3) strategies and support to minimise the impact of dementia. Consistent barriers to diagnosis include stigma, normalisation of symptoms, and lack of knowledge. Studies report a lack of specialist support particularly post-diagnosis.
Conclusions
There is an extensive body of qualitative literature on the experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia. We present a thematic analysis that could be useful to professionals working with people with dementia. We suggest that research emphasis should shift towards the development and evaluation of interventions, particularly those providing support after diagnosis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Dementia is a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer disease is the most common type of dementia. People with dementia usually have problems with two or more cognitive functions—thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment. Dementia is rare before the age of 65, but about a quarter of people over 85 have dementia. Because more people live longer these days, the number of patients with dementia is increasing. It is estimated that today between 40 and 50 million people live with dementia worldwide. By 2050, this number is expected to triple.
One way to study what dementia means to patients and their carers (most often spouses or other family members) is through qualitative research. Qualitative research aims to develop an in-depth understanding of individuals' experiences and behavior, as well as the reasons for their feelings and actions. In qualitative studies, researchers interview patients, their families, and doctors. When the studies are published, they usually contain direct quotations from interviews as well as summaries by the scientists who designed the interviews and analyzed the responses.
Why Was This Study Done?
This study was done to better understand the experiences and attitudes of patients and their carers surrounding dementia diagnosis. It focused on patients who lived and were cared for within the community (as opposed to people living in senior care facilities or other institutions). Most cases of dementia are progressive, meaning symptoms get worse over time. Diagnosis often happens at an advanced stage of the disease, and some patients never receive a formal diagnosis. This could have many possible reasons, including unawareness or denial of symptoms by patients and people close to them. The study was also trying to understand barriers to early diagnosis and what type of support is useful for newly diagnosed patients and carers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a systematic search for published qualitative research studies that reported on the experience, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes surrounding dementia diagnosis. They identified and reviewed 102 such studies. Among the quotations and summaries of the individual studies, they looked for prominent and recurring themes. They also compared and contrasted the respective experiences of patients and carers.
Overall, they found that the complexity and variety of responses to a diagnosis of dementia means that making the diagnosis and conveying it to patients and carers is challenging. Negative connotations associated with dementia, inconsistent symptoms, and not knowing enough about the signs and symptoms were commonly reported barriers to early dementia diagnosis. It was often the carer who initiated the search for help from a doctor, and among patients, willingness and readiness to receive a diagnosis varied. Being told one had dementia had a big impact on a patient's identity and often caused feelings of loss, anger, fear, and frustration. Spouses had to adjust to increasingly unequal relationships and the transition to a role as carer. The strain associated with this often caused health problems in the carers as well. On the other hand, studies examining the experience of couples often reported that they found ways to continue working together as a team.
Adjusting to a dementia diagnosis is a complex process. Initially, most patients and carers experienced conflicts, for example, between autonomy and safety, between recognizing the need for help but reluctance to accept it, or between living in the present and dealing with anxiety about and preparing for the future. As these were resolved and as the disease progressed, the attitudes of patients and carers towards dementia often became more balanced and accepting. Many patients and their families adopted strategies to cope with the impact of dementia on their lives in order to manage the disease and maintain some sort of normal life. These included practical strategies involving reminders, social strategies such as relying on family support, and emotional strategies such as using humor. At some point many patients and carers reported that they were able to adopt positive mindsets and incorporate dementia in their lives.
The studies also pointed to an urgent need for support from outside the family, both right after diagnosis and subsequently. General practitioners and family physicians have important roles in helping patients and carers to get access to information, social and psychological support, and community care. The need for information was reported to be ongoing and varied, and meeting it required a variety of sources and formats. Key needs for patients and carers mentioned in the studies include information on financial aids and entitlements early on, and continued access to supportive professionals and specialists.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Qualitative studies to date on how patients and carers respond to a diagnosis of dementia provide a fairly detailed picture of their experiences. The summary provided here should help professionals to understand better the challenges patients and carers face around the time of diagnosis as well as their immediate and evolving needs. The results also suggest that future research should focus on the development and evaluation of ways to meet those needs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331.
Wikipedia has pages on dementia and qualitative research (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Alzheimer Europe, an umbrella organization of 34 Alzheimer associations from 30 countries across Europe, has a page on the different approaches to research
The UK Department of Health has pages on dementia, including guidelines for carers of people with dementia
MedlinePlus also has information about dementia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331
PMCID: PMC3484131  PMID: 23118618
20.  Describing and analysing primary health care system support for chronic illness care in Indigenous communities in Australia's Northern Territory – use of the Chronic Care Model 
Background
Indigenous Australians experience disproportionately high prevalence of, and morbidity and mortality from chronic illness such as diabetes, renal disease and cardiovascular disease. Improving the understanding of how Indigenous primary care systems are organised to deliver chronic illness care will inform efforts to improve the quality of care for Indigenous people.
Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted in 12 Indigenous communities in Australia's Northern Territory. Using the Chronic Care Model as a framework, we carried out a mail-out survey to collect information on material, financial and human resources relating to chronic illness care in participating health centres. Follow up face-to-face interviews with health centre staff were conducted to identify successes and difficulties in the systems in relation to providing chronic illness care to community members.
Results
Participating health centres had distinct areas of strength and weakness in each component of systems: 1) organisational influence – strengthened by inclusion of chronic illness goals in business plans, appointment of designated chronic disease coordinators and introduction of external clinical audits, but weakened by lack of training in disease prevention and health promotion and limited access to Medicare funding; 2) community linkages – facilitated by working together with community organisations (e.g. local stores) and running community-based programs (e.g. "health week"), but detracted by a shortage of staff especially of Aboriginal health workers working in the community; 3) self management – promoted through patient education and goal setting with clients, but impeded by limited focus on family and community-based activities due to understaffing; 4) decision support – facilitated by distribution of clinical guidelines and their integration with daily care, but limited by inadequate access to and support from specialists; 5) delivery system design – strengthened by provision of transport for clients to health centres, separate men's and women's clinic rooms, specific roles of primary care team members in relation to chronic illness care, effective teamwork, and functional pathology and pharmacy systems, but weakened by staff shortage (particularly doctors and Aboriginal health workers) and high staff turnover; and 6) clinical information systems – facilitated by wide adoption of computerised information systems, but weakened by the systems' complexity and lack of IT maintenance and upgrade support.
Conclusion
Using concrete examples, this study translates the concept of the Chronic Care Model (and associated systems view) into practical application in Australian Indigenous primary care settings. This approach proved to be useful in understanding the quality of primary care systems for prevention and management of chronic illness. Further refinement of the systems should focus on both increasing human and financial resources and improving management practice.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-112
PMCID: PMC2430955  PMID: 18505591
21.  South Asian women with diabetes: Psychosocial challenges and management: Consensus statement 
Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally. In South Asians mortality in women with diabetes stands second highest. There is a marked gender discrimination which is faced by women across South Asia esp in access to services and support for diabetes, resulting in high rates of morbidity and mortality in women with diabetes. The most important risk factor identified for the diabetes epidemic is obesity along with genetic susceptibility. Lack of health care, social and cultural disparity, discrimination at work, disparity in marriage, restricted medical facilities are prevalent. Diabetes and depression are common in women. Increasing age, low level of education, low socioeconomic conditions, difficulties posed in finding partners, frequent divorce and family history of psychiatric illness are significant risk factors for diabetes and depression. Such patients usually have poor metabolic control, higher complication rates, increased healthcare costs, lost productivity, lower quality of life as well as increased risk of death. Preconception counseling should be incorporated in the routine diabetes clinic visit for all women of childbearing potential. Women with diabetes should have information and access to contraception. Proper family planning counseling and psychological support can help stop practices such as female foeticide and multiple pregnancies. Psychological support to patients and their families are needed to break the barrier. There is emerging evidence that women with diabetes are more prone to untoward outcomes as compared to men. Central obesity, metabolic syndrome and the polycystic ovary syndrome show ethnic specific differences in South Asian women. Optimal sexuality is an integral part of holistic health. Shortage of trained female health care professionals, lack of privacy in over-crowded health care facilities, a social taboo attached to such matters, and lack of confidence in patients contribute to the neglect of sexual issues in women attending diabetes clinics across South Asia. Guidelines for counselling in female sexual dysfunction, written in culturally appropriate manner for South Asia, are needed. Diabetes affects women more severely because of their unique biological, cultural and socioeconomic circumstances. Women have limited access to health care facilities because of illiteracy, ignorance and negative social customs. Transcending the gender hierarchy and inequality is a formidable challenge. Sensitising men, empowering women on self care and providing peer support maybe the answer to this challenge. It is essential for health care providers to use appropriate coping mechanism such as building psychological contact with the patient, including family and friends as part of social support and empower patient with complete process of managing diabetes. Increasing awareness through the media, seminars, posters, group discussions and education, regular monitoring and consulting the doctor, support group for women and facilities for aerobic exercises are recommended. The health care systems should consider custom-designed prevention and control programs tailored for women based on local and regional attitudes on health care, cultural beliefs, and available social support systems. Policies that empower adolescent girls and young women to take control of their metabolic management must be encouraged. Provision of gender specific diabetes education with a holistic life-cycle approach is recommended.
doi:10.4103/2230-8210.113720
PMCID: PMC3743353  PMID: 23961469
South Asian region; Women with diabetes; gender disparity; health care access; social & cultural factors; Women empowerment
22.  An evaluation of access to health care services along the rural-urban continuum in Canada 
Background
Studies comparing the access to health care of rural and urban populations have been contradictory and inconclusive. These studies are complicated by the influence of other factor which have been shown to be related to access and utilization. This study assesses the equity of access to health care services across the rural-urban continuum in Canada before and after taking other determinants of access into account.
Methods
This is a cross-sectional study of the population of the 10 provinces of Canada using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS 2.1). Five different measures of access and utilization are compared across the continuum of rural-urban. Known determinants of utilization are taken into account according to Andersen's Health Behaviour Model (HBM); location of residence at the levels of province, health region, and community is also controlled for.
Results
This study found that residents of small cities not adjacent to major centres, had the highest reported utilisation rates of influenza vaccines and family physician services, were most likely to have a regular medical doctor, and were most likely to report unmet need. Among the rural categories there was a gradient with the most rural being least likely to have had a flu shot, use specialist physicians services, or have a regular medical doctor. Residents of the most urban centres were more likely to report using specialist physician services. Many of these differences are diminished or eliminated once other factors are accounted for. After adjusting for other factors those living in the most urban areas were more likely to have seen a specialist physician. Those in rural communities had a lower odds of receiving a flu shot and having a regular medical doctor. People residing in the most urban and most rural communities were less likely to have a regular medical doctor. Those in any of the rural categories were less likely to report unmet need.
Conclusion
Inequities in access to care along the rural-urban continuum exist and can be masked when evaluation is done at a very large scale with gross indicators of rural-urban. Understanding the relationship between rural-urban and other determinants will help policy makers to target interventions appropriately: to specific demographic, provincial, community, or rural categories.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-20
PMCID: PMC3045284  PMID: 21281470
23.  A Population-Based Evaluation of a Publicly Funded, School-Based HPV Vaccine Program in British Columbia, Canada: Parental Factors Associated with HPV Vaccine Receipt 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(5):e1000270.
Analysis of a telephone survey by Gina Ogilvie and colleagues identifies the parental factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a school-based program in Canada.
Background
Information on factors that influence parental decisions for actual human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine receipt in publicly funded, school-based HPV vaccine programs for girls is limited. We report on the level of uptake of the first dose of the HPV vaccine, and determine parental factors associated with receipt of the HPV vaccine, in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program in British Columbia, Canada.
Methods and Findings
All parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the academic year of September 2008–June 2009 in the province of British Columbia were eligible to participate. Eligible households identified through the provincial public health information system were randomly selected and those who consented completed a validated survey exploring factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to calculate adjusted odds ratios to identify the factors that were associated with parents' decision to vaccinate their daughter(s) against HPV. 2,025 parents agreed to complete the survey, and 65.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 63.1–67.1) of parents in the survey reported that their daughters received the first dose of the HPV vaccine. In the same school-based vaccine program, 88.4% (95% CI 87.1–89.7) consented to the hepatitis B vaccine, and 86.5% (95% CI 85.1–87.9) consented to the meningococcal C vaccine. The main reasons for having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were the effectiveness of the vaccine (47.9%), advice from a physician (8.7%), and concerns about daughter's health (8.4%). The main reasons for not having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine were concerns about HPV vaccine safety (29.2%), preference to wait until the daughter is older (15.6%), and not enough information to make an informed decision (12.6%). In multivariate analysis, overall attitudes to vaccines, the impact of the HPV vaccine on sexual practices, and childhood vaccine history were predictive of parents having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine in a publicly funded school-based HPV vaccine program. By contrast, having a family with two parents, having three or more children, and having more education was associated with a decreased likelihood of having a daughter receive the HPV vaccine.
Conclusions
This study is, to our knowledge, one of the first population-based assessments of factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake in a publicly funded school-based program worldwide. Policy makers need to consider that even with the removal of financial and health care barriers, parents, who are key decision makers in the uptake of this vaccine, are still hesitant to have their daughters receive the HPV vaccine, and strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake need to be employed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
About 10% of cancers in women occur in the cervix, the structure that connects the womb to the vagina. Every year, globally, more than a quarter of a million women die because of cervical cancer, which only occurs after the cervix has been infected with a human papillomavirus (HPV) through sexual intercourse. There are many types of HPV, a virus that infects the skin and the mucosa (the moist membranes that line various parts of the body, including the cervix). Although most people become infected with HPV at some time in their life, most never know they are infected. However, some HPV types cause harmless warts on the skin or around the genital area and several—in particular, HPV 16 and HPV 18, so-called high-risk HPVs—can cause cervical cancer. HPV infections are usually cleared by the immune system, but about 10% of women infected with a high-risk HPV develop a long-term infection that puts them at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Why Was This Study Done?
Screening programs have greatly reduced cervical cancer deaths in developed countries in recent decades by detecting the cancer early when it can be treated; but it would be better to prevent cervical cancer ever developing. Because HPV is necessary for the development of cervical cancer, vaccination of girls against HPV infection before the onset of sexual activity might be one way to do this. Scientists recently developed a vaccine that prevents infection with HPV 16 and HPV 18 (and with two HPVs that cause genital warts) and that should, therefore, reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. Publicly funded HPV vaccination programs are now planned or underway in several countries; but before girls can receive the HPV vaccine, parental consent is usually needed, so it is important to know what influences parental decisions about HPV vaccination. In this study, the researchers undertake a telephone survey to determine the uptake of the HPV vaccine by 11-year-old girls (grade 6) in British Columbia, Canada, and to determine the parental factors associated with vaccine uptake; British Columbia started a voluntary school-based HPV vaccine program in September 2008.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In early 2009, the researchers contacted randomly selected parents of girls enrolled in grade 6 during the 2008–2009 academic year and asked them to complete a telephone survey that explored factors associated with HPV vaccine uptake. 65.1% of the 2,025 parents who completed the survey had consented to their daughter receiving the first dose of HPV vaccine. By contrast, more than 85% of the parents had consented to hepatitis B and meningitis C vaccination of their daughters. Nearly half of the parents surveyed said their main reason for consenting to HPV vaccination was the effectiveness of the vaccine. Conversely, nearly a third of the parents said concern about the vaccine's safety was their main reason for not consenting to vaccination and one in eight said they had been given insufficient information to make an informed decision. In a statistical analysis of the survey data, the researchers found that a positive parental attitude towards vaccination, a parental belief that HPV vaccination had limited impact on sexual practices, and completed childhood vaccination increased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the HPV vaccine. Having a family with two parents or three or more children and having well-educated parents decreased the likelihood of a daughter receiving the vaccine.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide one of the first population-based assessments of the factors that affect HPV vaccine uptake in a setting where there are no financial or health care barriers to vaccination. By identifying the factors associated with parental reluctance to agree to HPV vaccination for their daughters, these findings should help public-health officials design strategies to ensure optimal HPV vaccine uptake, although further studies are needed to discover why, for example, parents with more education are less likely to agree to vaccination than parents with less education. Importantly, the findings of this study, which are likely to be generalizable to other high-income countries, indicate that there is a continued need to ensure that the public receives credible, clear information about both the benefits and long-term safety of HPV vaccination.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270.
The US National Cancer Institute provides information about cervical cancer for patients and for health professionals, including information on HPV vaccines (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information about cervical cancer and about HPV
The UK National Health Service Choices website has pages on cervical cancer and on HPV vaccination
More information about cervical cancer and HPV vaccination is available from the Macmillan cancer charity
ImmunizeBC provides general information about vaccination and information about HPV vaccination in British Columbia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about cervical cancer (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000270
PMCID: PMC2864299  PMID: 20454567
24.  Barriers to referral in patients with angina: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7207):418-421.
Objectives
To explore barriers to patients being referred for possible revascularisation.
Design
Qualitative study using semi-structured interviews.
Participants
16 patients aged under 75 years with stable angina and their doctors.
Setting
General practice in Toxteth, Liverpool.
Results
Fear of both hospitals and medical tests was common and largely hidden from the doctors. Patients felt they were old, had low expectations of treatment, viewed angina as a chronic illness, and knew little about new developments in angina treatment. Patients and doctors had difficulty in recognising angina symptoms that were not textbook definitions amid multiple comorbidity. Patients saw doctors as busy and did not want to bother them with their condition. Cultural gaps and communication difficulties existed despite all but one patient having English as their first language.
Conclusions
Listening to patients is vital to address inequitable access to health services: how patients are treated by doctors today affects acceptability of referral tomorrow. Primary care groups in deprived areas should work with communities to address local fears. This will involve collaboration between primary, secondary, and tertiary care. Cultural gaps exist between patients and doctors in deprived areas, and diagnostic confusion can occur particularly in the presence of other psychological and physical morbidity. Adequate time and resources—for example, education for doctors and patients and provision of interpreters—need to be provided if inequitable access to revascularisation procedures is to be addressed.
Key messagesIn different communities and patient groups different myths and fears operate and need to be addressed, as experiences of hospital can profoundly affect patients’ confidencePatients in deprived areas with high mortality rates perceive themselves as “old” at a young age, and expectations of treatment are limitedAngina symptoms in inner city primary care may not be the same as those in a textbook, and this has implications for care of patientsCultural gaps exist even between committed doctors and their patients in deprived areas—time and resources are needed to address these gapsQualitative studies are necessary to understand quantitative evidence of inequitable access to specialist health services
PMCID: PMC28197  PMID: 10445924
25.  Managing injured workers 
Canadian Family Physician  2005;51(1):78-79.
OBJECTIVE
To understand family physicians’ experiences in managing patients within the workers’ compensation system.
DESIGN
Qualitative study using a phenomenologic approach.
SETTING
London and surrounding communities in southwestern Ontario.
PARTICIPANTS
Family physicians working in community-based and academic practices.
METHOD
In-depth interviews conducted between February and May 2001 with a maximum variation sample of 10 family doctors.
MAIN FINDINGS
Few participants enjoyed dealing with workers’ compensation problems. Despite the generally straightforward nature of most work related to musculoskeletal injuries, management had to take place within the perceived complexities of the return-to-work process. Suspicion, isolation, and frustration characterized experiences with care of persisting, ill-defined, or complex conditions. Challenged by lack of time, participants were wary when dealing with employers and especially concerned about patient confidentiality. Hence, workplace communication seldom extended beyond the use of standard workers’ compensation forms. While appreciative of the input of other professionals within the workers’ compensation system, family practitioners were suspicious of external influences on clinical decision making. Participants’ perceived commitment to patients conflicted with insurer requirements for adherence to guidelines and pathways of care. Even when patient-doctor relationships were challenged by the effects of an injury, participants saw a clear advantage in maintaining these relationships as a base for future care.
CONCLUSION
Although family doctors are integral to management of Canadians with work-related injuries, our findings highlight the complexities of that care. Primary occupational health care extended beyond treatment of injuries into domains of intersectoral communication and patient-doctor relationships. Our findings suggest that workers’ compensation authorities could benefit from a better understanding of the dynamics of contemporary family practice and particularly of time and cost barriers to workplace liaison. Communicating with employers would be less threatening if there were an explicit organizational strategy designed to allay family practitioners’ anxieties about whether direct liaison with employers is inappropriate advocacy, a compromise to confidentiality, or good industrial practice.
PMCID: PMC1479574  PMID: 16926956

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