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1.  Features of primary care associated with variations in process and outcome of care of people with diabetes. 
BACKGROUND: There is now clear evidence that tight control of blood glucose and blood pressure significantly lowers the risk of complications in both type I and type II diabetes. Although there is evidence that primary care can be as effective as secondary care in delivering care for people with diabetes, standards in primary care are variable. Previous studies have shown that practice, patient or organisational factors may influence the level of care of patients with diabetes. However, these studies have been conducted in single geographical areas and involved only small numbers of practices. AIM: To determine the standard of diabetes care in general practice and to determine which features of practices are associated with delivering good quality care. DESIGN OF STUDY: A questionnaire survey and analysis of multi-practice audit data. SETTING: Three health authorities in England, comprising 169 general practices. METHOD: This study was conducted with a total population of 1,182,872 patients and 18,642 people with diabetes. Linkage analysis was carried out on data collected by a questionnaire, routinely collected health authority data, and multi-practice audit data collected by primary care audit groups. Practice annual compliance was measured with process and outcome measures of care, including the proportion of patients who had an examination of their fundi, feet, blood pressure, urine, glycated haemoglobin, and the proportion who had a normal glycated haemoglobin. RESULTS: Median compliance with process and outcome measures of care varied widely between practices: fundi were checked for 64.6% of patients (interquartile range [IQR] = 45.3-77.8%), urine was checked for 71.4% (IQR = 49.7-84.3%), feet were checked for 70.4% (IQR = 51.0-84.4%), blood pressure for 83.6% (IQR = 66.7-91.5%), and glycated haemoglobin was checked for 83.0% of patients (IQR = 69.4-92.0%). The glycated haemoglobin was normal in 42.9% of patients (IQR = 33.0-51.2%). In multiple regression analysis, compliance with measures of process of care were significantly associated with smaller practices, fundholding practices, and practices with a recall system. Practices with more socioeconomically deprived patients were associated with lower compliance with most process measures. Practices with a greater proportion of patients attending hospital clinics had lower compliance with process and outcome measures. Being a training practice, having a diabetes mini-clinic, having more nurses, personal care, and general practitioner or nurse interest in diabetes were not associated with compliance of process or outcome of care. CONCLUSIONS: Despite recent evidence that complications of diabetes may be delayed or prevented, this study has highlighted a number of deficiencies in the provision of diabetes care and variations in care between general practices. Provision of high quality diabetes care in the United Kingdom will present an organisational challenge to primary care groups and trusts, especially those in deprived areas.
PMCID: PMC1313998  PMID: 11360698
2.  Community-Based Care for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes 
Executive Summary
In June 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Diabetes Strategy Evidence Project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding strategies for successful management and treatment of diabetes. This project came about when the Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the Ministry’s newly released Diabetes Strategy.
After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified five key areas in which evidence was needed. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these five areas: insulin pumps, behavioural interventions, bariatric surgery, home telemonitoring, and community based care. For each area, an economic analysis was completed where appropriate and is described in a separate report.
To review these titles within the Diabetes Strategy Evidence series, please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,,
Diabetes Strategy Evidence Platform: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion Pumps for Type 1 and Type 2 Adult Diabetics: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Bariatric Surgery for People with Diabetes and Morbid Obesity: An Evidence-Based Summary
Community-Based Care for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telemonitoring for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Application of the Ontario Diabetes Economic Model (ODEM) to Determine the Cost-effectiveness and Budget Impact of Selected Type 2 Diabetes Interventions in Ontario
The objective of this report is to determine the efficacy of specialized multidisciplinary community care for the management of type 2 diabetes compared to usual care.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Diabetes (i.e. diabetes mellitus) is a highly prevalent chronic metabolic disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to produce or effectively use insulin. The majority (90%) of diabetes patients have type 2 diabetes. (1) Based on the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), intensive blood glucose and blood pressure control significantly reduce the risk of microvascular and macrovascular complications in type 2 diabetics. While many studies have documented that patients often do not meet the glycemic control targets specified by national and international guidelines, factors associated with glycemic control are less well studied, one of which is the provider(s) of care.
Multidisciplinary approaches to care may be particularly important for diabetes management. According guidelines from the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), the diabetes health care team should be multi-and interdisciplinary. Presently in Ontario, the core diabetes health care team consists of at least a family physician and/or diabetes specialist, and diabetes educators (registered nurse and registered dietician).
Increasing the role played by allied health care professionals in diabetes care and their collaboration with physicians may represent a more cost-effective option for diabetes management. Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses have examined multidisciplinary care programs, but these have either been limited to a specific component of multidisciplinary care (e.g. intensified education programs), or were conducted as part of a broader disease management program, of which not all were multidisciplinary in nature. Most reviews also do not clearly define the intervention(s) of interest, making the evaluation of such multidisciplinary community programs challenging.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
What is the evidence of efficacy of specialized multidisciplinary community care provided by at least a registered nurse, registered dietician and physician (primary care and/or specialist) for the management of type 2 diabetes compared to usual care? [Henceforth referred to as Model 1]
What is the evidence of efficacy of specialized multidisciplinary community care provided by at least a pharmacist and a primary care physician for the management of type 2 diabetes compared to usual care? [Henceforth referred to as Model 2]
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-reports
Published between January 1, 2000 and September 28, 2008
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses
Type 2 diabetic adult population (≥18 years of age)
Total sample size ≥30
Describe specialized multidisciplinary community care defined as ambulatory-based care provided by at least two health care disciplines (of which at least one must be a specialist in diabetes) with integrated communication between the care providers.
Compared to usual care (defined as health care provision by non-specialist(s) in diabetes, such as primary care providers; may include referral to other health care professionals/services as necessary)
≥6 months follow-up
Exclusion Criteria
Studies where discrete results on diabetes cannot be abstracted
Predominantly home-based interventions
Inpatient-based interventions
Outcomes of Interest
The primary outcomes for this review were glycosylated hemoglobin (rHbA1c) levels and systolic blood pressure (SBP).
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 28, 2008 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published between January 1, 2000 and September 28, 2008. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Given the high clinical heterogeneity of the articles that met the inclusion criteria, specific models of specialized multidisciplinary community care were examined based on models of care that are currently being supported in Ontario, models of care that were commonly reported in the literature, as well as suggestions from an Expert Advisory Panel Meeting held on January 21, 2009.
Summary of Findings
The initial search yielded 2,116 unique citations, from which 22 RCTs trials and nine systematic reviews published were identified as meeting the eligibility criteria. Of these, five studies focused on care provided by at least a nurse, dietician, and physician (primary care and/or specialist) model of care (Model 1; see Table ES 1), while three studies focused on care provided by at least a pharmacist and primary care physician (Model 2; see Table ES 2).
Based on moderate quality evidence, specialized multidisciplinary community care Model 2 has demonstrated a statistically and clinically significant reduction in HbA1c of 1.0% compared with usual care. The effects of this model on SBP, however, are uncertain compared with usual care, based on very-low quality evidence. Specialized multidisciplinary community care Model 2 has demonstrated a statistically and clinically significant reduction in both HbA1c of 1.05% (based on high quality evidence) and SBP of 7.13 mm Hg (based on moderate quality evidence) compared to usual care. For both models, the evidence does not suggest a preferred setting of care delivery (i.e., primary care vs. hospital outpatient clinic vs. community clinic).
Summary of Results of Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Multidisciplinary Care Model 1
Mean change from baseline to follow-up between intervention and control groups
Summary of Results of Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Multidisciplinary Care Model 2
Mean change from baseline to follow-up between intervention and control groups
PMCID: PMC3377524  PMID: 23074528
3.  Diabetes care in general practice: meta-analysis of randomised control trials 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7155):390-396.
Objective: To assess the effectiveness of care in general practice for people with diabetes.
Design: Meta-analysis of randomised trials comparing general practice and shared care with follow up in hospital outpatient clinic.
Identification: Trials were identified from searches of eight bibliographic and research databases.
Results: Five trials identified included 1058 people with diabetes, overall mean age 58.4 years, receiving hospital outpatient follow up for their diabetes. Results were heterogeneous between trials. In shared care schemes featuring more intensive support through a computerised prompting system for general practitioners and patients, there was no difference in mortality between care in hospital and care in general practice (odds ratio 1.06, 95% confidence interval 0.53 to 2.11); glycated haemoglobin tended to be lower in primary care (weighted difference in means of −0.28%, −0.59% to 0.03%); and losses to follow up were significantly lower in primary care (odds ratio 0.37, 0.22 to 0.61). However, schemes with less well developed support for family doctors were associated with adverse outcomes for patients.
Conclusions: Unstructured care in the community is associated with poorer follow up, worse glycaemic control, and greater mortality than in hospital care. Computerised central recall, with prompting for patients and their family doctors, can achieve standards of care as good as or better than hospital outpatient care, at least in the short term. The evidence supports provision of regular prompted recall and review of selected people with diabetes by willing general practitioners. This can be achieved if suitable organisation is in place.
Key messages Responsibility for the routine recall and review of people with diabetes has shifted to primary care Central computerised, prompted recall and review for people with diabetes in primary care can achieve outcomes as good or better than follow up in hospital The transfer of responsibility for diabetes care to general practitioners without adequate support is associated with adverse outcomes for patients The cost effectiveness of general practice diabetes care needs longer term evaluation
PMCID: PMC28634  PMID: 9694757
4.  Correctional nursing: a study protocol to develop an educational intervention to optimize nursing practice in a unique context 
Nurses are the primary healthcare providers in correctional facilities. A solid knowledge and expertise that includes the use of research evidence in clinical decision making is needed to optimize nursing practice and promote positive health outcomes within these settings. The institutional emphasis on custodial care within a heavily secured, regulated, and punitive environment presents unique contextual challenges for nursing practice. Subsequently, correctional nurses are not always able to obtain training or ongoing education that is required for broad scopes of practice. The purpose of the proposed study is to develop an educational intervention for correctional nurses to support the provision of evidence-informed care.
A two-phase mixed methods research design will be used. The setting will be three provincial correctional facilities. Phase one will focus on identifying nurses’ scope of practice and practice needs, describing work environment characteristics that support evidence-informed practice and developing the intervention. Semi-structured interviews will be completed with nurses and nurse managers. To facilitate priorities for the intervention, a Delphi process will be used to rank the learning needs identified by participants. Based on findings, an online intervention will be developed. Phase two will involve evaluating the acceptability and feasibility of the intervention to inform a future experimental design.
The context of provincial correctional facilities presents unique challenges for nurses’ provision of care. This study will generate information to address practice and learning needs specific to correctional nurses. Interventions tailored to barriers and supports within specific contexts are important to enable nurses to provide evidence-informed care.
PMCID: PMC3691633  PMID: 23799894
Nurses; Nursing; Corrections; Prisons; Evidence-informed care; Education intervention; Learning needs; Work environments
5.  Provision of Counseling on Diabetes Self-Management: Are There Any Age Disparities? 
Patient education and counseling  2010;85(2):133-139.
To determine whether there are any age-related disparities in the frequency of provision of counseling and education for diabetes care in a large HMO in Central Texas.
EMR search from 13 primary care clinics on patients aged ≥18 years (n=1300) who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
There were no significant age differences in the frequency of provision of counseling about HBGM, diet, smoking or diabetes education. However, there were significant age differences in the provision of exercise counseling. Patients aged ≥75 were significantly less likely to have been provided exercise counseling than those aged <65 (adjusted OR=0.60; 95% CI=0.37–0.98). The mean HbA1c for patients aged ≥75 and 65–74 were significantly lower than that of patients aged <65 (8.9 vs. 9.0 vs. 9.7; P<.001).
While age-related variations in self-management protocols were not found, the provision of formal diabetes education was low (29.4%). The persistence of key risk factors in later life (e.g., obesity) underscores the need for better self-management protocols for older adults.
Additional efforts on strategies to increase counseling about lifestyle habits and diabetes self-management care by appropriate health care providers is needed. Diabetes counseling should be individually tailored in older population.
PMCID: PMC3021766  PMID: 20863646
Age-related disparities; health disparities; type 2 diabetes
6.  Diabetes Preventive Services and Policy Implications in the U.S. 
Diabetes Care  2010;34(1):8-13.
To investigate whether the patient or physician practice characteristics predict the use of diabetes preventive care services.
This was a cross-sectional study of a nationally representative sample of 27,169 adult ambulatory care visits, using the 2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data. The outcome variable is whether any preventive care services, defined as diagnostic tests (glucose, urinalysis, A1C, and blood pressure) or patient education (diet/nutrition, exercise, and stress management), were ordered/provided. Multivariate analysis was performed to identify independent predictors of diabetes preventive care services, controlling for patient and physician practice characteristics. All analyses were adjusted for the complex survey design and analytic weights.
Compared with people without diabetes, diabetic patients were older (63 vs. 53 years; P < 0.01) and were more likely to be nonwhite and covered by Medicare insurance. In multivariate analyses, younger patients and the availability of primary care physicians, electronic medical records, and on-site laboratory tests were associated with more effective preventive care services (P < 0.05). If physician compensation relied on productivity, preventive care services were less likely (odds ratio 0.4 [95% CI 0.27–0.82 for men and 0.26–0.81 for women]). Although the patterns of patient education and diagnostic testing were similar, the provision of patient education was less likely than that of diagnostic testing.
Primary care physicians and practice features seem to steer diabetes preventive services. Given the time constraints of physicians, strategies to strengthen structural capabilities of primary care practices and enhance partnerships with public health systems on diabetic patient education are recommended.
PMCID: PMC3005448  PMID: 20843972
7.  Diabetes Care Provision in UK Primary Care Practices 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41562.
Although most people with Type 2 diabetes receive their diabetes care in primary care, only a limited amount is known about the quality of diabetes care in this setting. We investigated the provision and receipt of diabetes care delivered in UK primary care.
Postal surveys with all healthcare professionals and a random sample of 100 patients with Type 2 diabetes from 99 UK primary care practices.
326/361 (90.3%) doctors, 163/186 (87.6%) nurses and 3591 patients (41.8%) returned a questionnaire. Clinicians reported giving advice about lifestyle behaviours (e.g. 88% would routinely advise about calorie restriction; 99.6% about increasing exercise) more often than patients reported having received it (43% and 42%) and correlations between clinician and patient report were low. Patients’ reported levels of confidence about managing their diabetes were moderately high; a median (range) of 21% (3% to 39%) of patients reporting being not confident about various areas of diabetes self-management.
Primary care practices have organisational structures in place and are, as judged by routine quality indicators, delivering high quality care. There remain evidence-practice gaps in the care provided and in the self confidence that patients have for key aspects of self management and further research is needed to address these issues. Future research should use robust designs and appropriately designed studies to investigate how best to improve this situation.
PMCID: PMC3408463  PMID: 22859997
8.  Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Non-Healing Ulcers in Diabetes Mellitus 
Executive Summary
To examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat people with diabetes mellitus (DM) and non-healing ulcers. This policy appraisal systematically reviews the published literature in the above patient population, and applies the results and conclusions of the review to current health care practices in Ontario, Canada.
Although HBOT is an insured service in Ontario, the costs for the technical provision of this technology are not covered publicly outside the hospital setting. Moreover, access to this treatment is limited, because many hospitals do not offer it, or are not expanding capacity to meet the demand.
Clinical Need
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease characterized by an increase in blood sugar that can lead to many severe conditions such as vision, cardiac, and vascular disorders. The prevalence of DM is difficult to estimate, because some people who have the condition are undiagnosed or may not be captured through data that reflect access to the health care system. The Canadian Diabetic Association estimates there are about 2 million people in Canada with diabetes (almost 7% of the population). According to recent data, the prevalence of DM increased from 4.72% of the population aged 20 years and over in 1995, to 6.19% of the population aged 20 years and over in 1999, or about 680,900 people in 1999. Prevalence estimates expanded to 700,000 in 2003.
About 10% to 15% of people with DM develop a foot wound in their lifetimes because of underlying peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. This equals between 70,000 and 105,000 people in Ontario, based on the DM prevalence estimate of 700,000 people. Without early treatment, a foot ulcer may fester until it becomes infected and chronic. Chronic wounds are difficult to heal, despite medical and nursing care, and may lead to impaired quality of life and functioning, amputation, or even death.
The Technology
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been in use for about 40 years. It is thought to aid wound healing by supplying oxygen to the wound. According to the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Association, HBOT acts as a bactericidal, stops toxin production, and promotes tissue growth to heal difficult wounds.
During the procedure, a patient is placed in a compression chamber with increased pressure between 2.0 and 2.5 atmospheres absolute for 60 to 120 minutes, once or twice daily. In the chamber, the patient inhales 100% oxygen. Treatment usually runs for 15 to 20 sessions.
Noted complications are rare but may include claustrophobia; ear, sinus, or lung damage due to pressure; temporary worsening of short sightedness; and oxygen poisoning. Careful monitoring during the treatment sessions and follow-up by a trained health care provider is recommended.
Review Strategy
The aims of this health technology policy appraisal were to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost-effectiveness of HBOT, either alone, or as an adjunct, compared with the standard treatments for non-healing foot or leg ulcers in patients with DM. The following questions were asked:
Alone or as an adjunct therapy, is HBOT more effective than other therapies for non-healing foot or leg ulcers in patients with DM?
If HBOT is effective, what is the incremental benefit over and above currently used strategies?
When is the best time in a wound treatment strategy to use HBOT?
What is the best treatment algorithm with HBOT?
The Medical Advisory Secretariat searched for health technology assessments in the published and grey literature. The search yielded 4 reports, which were published from 2000 to 2005. The most recent from the Cochrane Collaboration had a literature review and analysis of randomized control trials to 2003.
As an update to this review, as per the standard Medical Advisory Secretariat systematic review strategy, the abstracts of peer-reviewed publications were identified using Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, MEDLINE in-process and not-yet-indexed citations, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane CENTRAL, and INAHTA using key words and searching from January 1, 2003 to 2004.
The criteria for inclusion were as follows:
Patients with diabetes
Live human study
English-language study
HBOT as adjunctive therapy or alone
Randomized control trial
The number of excluded studies included the following:
2 animal studies
13 focus on condition other than DM
8 review/protocol for HBOT use
3 HBOT not focus of report
2 health technology assessments (2)
1 non-RCT
Outcomes of interest were wound healing and prevention of amputation.
The search yielded 29 articles published between 2003 and 2004. All 29 of these were excluded, as shown beside the exclusion criteria above. Therefore, this health technology policy assessment focused exclusively on the most recently published health technology assessments and systematic reviews.
Summary of Findings
Four health technology assessments and reviews were found. Cochrane Collaboration researchers published the most recent review in 2005. They included only randomized controlled trials and conducted a meta-analysis to examine wound healing and amputation outcomes. They found that, based on findings from 118 patients in 3 studies, HBOT may help to prevent major amputation (relative risk, 0.31; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.13–0.71) with a number needed to treat (NNT) of 4 (95% CI, 3–11). They noted, however, that the point estimates derived from trials were not well reported, and had varying populations with respect to wound severity, HBOT regimens, and outcome measures. These noted limitations rendered the comparison of results from the trials difficult. Further, they suggested that the evidence was not strong enough to suggest a benefit for wound healing in general or for prevention of minor amputations.
The Medical Advisory Secretariat also evaluated the studies that the Cochrane Collaboration used in their analysis, and agreed with their evaluation that the quality of the evidence was low for major and minor amputations, but low to moderate for wound healing, suggesting that the results from new and well-conducted studies would likely change the estimates calculated by Cochrane and others.
In 2003, the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee recommended a more coordinated strategy for wound care in Ontario to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. This strategy has begun at the community care and long-term care institution levels, but is pending in other areas of the health care system.
There are about 700,000 people in Ontario with diabetes; of these, 10% to 15% may have a foot ulcer sometime in their lifetimes. Foot ulcers are treatable, however, when they are identified, diagnosed and treated early according to best practice guidelines. Routine follow-up for people with diabetes who may be at risk for neuropathy and/or peripheral vascular disease may prevent subsequent foot ulcers. There are 4 chambers that provide HBOT in Ontario. Fewer than 20 people with DM received HBOT in 2003.
The quality of the evidence assessing the effectiveness of HBOT as an adjunct to standard therapy for people with non-healing diabetic foot ulcers is low, and the results are inconsistent. The results of a recent meta-analysis that found benefit of HBOT to prevent amputation are therefore uncertain. Future well-conducted studies may change the currently published estimates of effectiveness for wound healing and prevention of amputation using HBOT in the treatment of non-healing diabetic foot ulcers.
Although HBOT is an insured service in Ontario, a well conducted, randomized controlled trial that has wound healing and amputation as the primary end-points is needed before this technology is used widely among patients with foot wounds due to diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3382405  PMID: 23074462
9.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
10.  Medical Audit of Diabetes Mellitus in Primary Care Setting in Bosnia and Herzegovina 
Croatian Medical Journal  2008;49(6):757-762.
To assess the quality of diabetes care provided by family medicine teams in primary health centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) through a medical audit, addressing the extent to which clinical practice complied with pre-determined explicit criteria of long-term management.
Retrospective analysis included randomly selected medical records of patients with type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus treated by 18 family medicine teams at 5 locations in BH, included in the Canadian International Development Agency/World Health Organization project “Strengthening health care system in BH with focus on primary health care/family medicine model.” Audit record form contained 24 questions on sex, age, diabetes type, body mass index (BMI), hypertension, family anamnesis, annual examinations (HbA1C, BMI, lipid profile or total cholesterol, blood creatinin, neurological examination, urinanalysis for albuminuria, foot care, and examination of ocular fundus), smoking habits, alcohol consumption, patient education, prescribed insulin and other drugs, and patient’s health care-seeking behavior. Standardized and record forms were returned anonymously with 99.3% response rate.
Records of 536 patients with diabetes were analyzed (64% women and 87% patients with diabetes mellitus type 2). Family medicine teams showed poor compliance with established criteria for diabetes control. Metabolic control (69.5%) was acceptable, but the level of monitoring complications of diabetes (foot and ocular fundus examined in 53.4% and 53% of patients, respectively) was low. There were also considerable variations in diabetes management between different centers as well as between the teams in the same center.
The audit revealed deficiencies in the quality of diabetes care and variations in care provision between primary care teams. Clinical guidelines and continuing education about acceptable diabetes care should be developed and implemented in BH.
PMCID: PMC2621037  PMID: 19090600
11.  Explaining the de-prioritization of primary prevention: Physicians' perceptions of their role in the delivery of primary care 
BMC Public Health  2003;3:15.
While physicians are key to primary preventive care, their delivery rate is sub-optimal. Assessment of physician beliefs is integral to understanding current behavior and the conceptualization of strategies to increase delivery.
A focus group with regional primary care physician (PCP) Opinion Leaders was conducted as a formative step towards regional assessment of attitudes and barriers regarding preventive care delivery in primary care. Following the PRECEDE-PROCEED model, the focus group aim was to identify conceptual themes that characterize PCP beliefs and practices regarding preventive care. Seven male and five female PCPs (family medicine, internal medicine) participated in the audiotaped discussion of their perceptions and behaviors in delivery of primary preventive care. The transcribed audiotape was qualitatively analyzed using grounded theory methodology.
The PCPs' own perceived role in daily practice was a significant barrier to primary preventive care. The prevailing PCP model was the "one-stop-shop" physician who could provide anything from primary to tertiary care, but whose provision was dominated by the delivery of immediate diagnoses and treatments, namely secondary care.
The secondary-tertiary prevention PCP model sustained the expectation of immediacy of corrective action, cure, and satisfaction sought by patients and physicians alike, and, thereby, de-prioritized primary prevention in practice. Multiple barriers beyond the immediate control of PCP must be surmounted for the full integration of primary prevention in primary care practice. However, independent of other barriers, physician cognitive value of primary prevention in practice, a base mediator of physician behavior, will need to be increased to frame the likelihood of such integration.
PMCID: PMC155789  PMID: 12729463
12.  Need and disparities in primary care management of patients with diabetes 
An aging population means that chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, are becoming more prevalent and demands for care are rising. Members of primary care teams should organize and coordinate patient care with a view to improving quality of care and impartial adherence to evidence-based practices for all patients. The aims of the present study were: to ascertain the prevalence of diabetes in an Italian population, stratified by age, gender and citizenship; and to identify the rate of compliance with recommended guidelines for monitoring diabetes, to see whether disparities exist in the quality of diabetes patient management.
A population-based analysis was performed on a dataset obtained by processing public health administration databases. The presence of diabetes and compliance with standards of care were estimated using appropriate algorithms. A multilevel logistic regression analysis was applied to assess factors affecting compliance with standards of care.
1,948,622 Italians aged 16+ were included in the study. In this population, 105,987 subjects were identified as having diabetes on January 1st, 2009. The prevalence of diabetes was 5.43% (95% CI 5.33-5.54) overall, 5.87% (95% CI 5.82-5.92) among males, and 5.05% (95% CI 5.00-5.09) among females. HbA1c levels had been tested in 60.50% of our diabetic subjects, LDL cholesterol levels in 57.50%, and creatinine levels in 63.27%, but only 44.19% of the diabetic individuals had undergone a comprehensive assessment during one year of care. Statistical differences in diabetes care management emerged relating to gender, age, diagnostic latency period, comorbidity and citizenship.
Process management indicators need to be used not only for the overall assessment of health care processes, but also to monitor disparities in the provision of health care.
PMCID: PMC4107618  PMID: 25011729
Health care research; Quality of care; Prevalence; Inequalities
13.  Effect of an Educational Toolkit on Quality of Care: A Pragmatic Cluster Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(2):e1001588.
In a pragmatic cluster-randomized trial, Baiju Shah and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of printed educational materials for clinician education focusing on cardiovascular disease screening and risk reduction in people with diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Printed educational materials for clinician education are one of the most commonly used approaches for quality improvement. The objective of this pragmatic cluster randomized trial was to evaluate the effectiveness of an educational toolkit focusing on cardiovascular disease screening and risk reduction in people with diabetes.
Methods and Findings
All 933,789 people aged ≥40 years with diagnosed diabetes in Ontario, Canada were studied using population-level administrative databases, with additional clinical outcome data collected from a random sample of 1,592 high risk patients. Family practices were randomly assigned to receive the educational toolkit in June 2009 (intervention group) or May 2010 (control group). The primary outcome in the administrative data study, death or non-fatal myocardial infarction, occurred in 11,736 (2.5%) patients in the intervention group and 11,536 (2.5%) in the control group (p = 0.77). The primary outcome in the clinical data study, use of a statin, occurred in 700 (88.1%) patients in the intervention group and 725 (90.1%) in the control group (p = 0.26). Pre-specified secondary outcomes, including other clinical events, processes of care, and measures of risk factor control, were also not improved by the intervention. A limitation is the high baseline rate of statin prescribing in this population.
The educational toolkit did not improve quality of care or cardiovascular outcomes in a population with diabetes. Despite being relatively easy and inexpensive to implement, printed educational materials were not effective. The study highlights the need for a rigorous and scientifically based approach to the development, dissemination, and evaluation of quality improvement interventions.
Trial Registration NCT01411865 and NCT01026688
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Clinical practice guidelines help health care providers deliver the best care to patients by combining all the evidence on disease management into specific recommendations for care. However, the implementation of evidence-based guidelines is often far from perfect. Take the example of diabetes. This common chronic disease, which is characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood, impairs the quality of life of patients and shortens life expectancy by increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases (conditions that affect the heart and circulation) and other life-threatening conditions. Patients need complex care to manage the multiple risk factors (high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high levels of fat in the blood) that are associated with the long-term complications of diabetes, and they need to be regularly screened and treated for these complications. Clinical practice guidelines for diabetes provide recommendations on screening and diagnosis, drug treatment, and cardiovascular disease risk reduction, and on helping patients self-manage their disease. Unfortunately, the care delivered to patients with diabetes frequently fails to meet the standards laid down in these guidelines.
Why Was This Study Done?
How can guideline adherence and the quality of care provided to patients be improved? A common approach is to send printed educational materials to clinicians. For example, when the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) updated its clinical practice guidelines in 2008, it mailed educational toolkits that contained brochures and other printed materials targeting key themes from the guidelines to family physicians. In this pragmatic cluster randomized trial, the researchers investigate the effect of the CDA educational toolkit that targeted cardiovascular disease screening and treatment on the quality of care of people with diabetes. A pragmatic trial asks whether an intervention works under real-life conditions and whether it works in terms that matter to the patient; a cluster randomized trial randomly assigns groups of people to receive alternative interventions and compares outcomes in the differently treated “clusters.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned family practices in Ontario, Canada to receive the educational toolkit in June 2009 (intervention group) or in May 2010 (control group). They examined outcomes between July 2009 and April 2010 in all patients with diabetes in Ontario aged over 40 years (933,789 people) using population-level administrative data. In Canada, administrative databases record the personal details of people registered with provincial health plans, information on hospital visits and prescriptions, and physician service claims for consultations, assessments, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. They also examined clinical outcome data from a random sample of 1,592 patients at high risk of cardiovascular complications. In the administrative data study, death or non-fatal heart attack (the primary outcome) occurred in about 11,500 patients in both the intervention and control group. In the clinical data study, the primary outcome―use of a statin to lower blood fat levels―occurred in about 700 patients in both study groups. Secondary outcomes, including other clinical events, processes of care, and measures of risk factor control were also not improved by the intervention. Indeed, in the administrative data study, some processes of care outcomes related to screening for heart disease were statistically significantly worse in the intervention group than in the control group, and in the clinical data study, fewer patients in the intervention group reached blood pressure targets than in the control group.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the CDA cardiovascular diseases educational toolkit did not improve quality of care or cardiovascular outcomes in a population with diabetes. Indeed, the toolkit may have led to worsening in some secondary outcomes although, because numerous secondary outcomes were examined, this may be a chance finding. Limitations of the study include its length, which may have been too short to see an effect of the intervention on clinical outcomes, and the possibility of a ceiling effect—the control group in the clinical data study generally had good care, which left little room for improvement of the quality of care in the intervention group. Overall, however, these findings suggest that printed educational materials may not be an effective way to improve the quality of care for patients with diabetes and other complex conditions and highlight the need for a rigorous, scientific approach to the development, dissemination, and evaluation of quality improvement interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health care professionals, and the general public (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes, the commonest form of diabetes
The Canadian Diabetes Association also provides information about diabetes for patients (including some personal stories about living with diabetes) and health care professionals; its latest clinical practice guidelines are available on its website
The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides general information about clinical guidelines and about health care quality standards in the UK
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality aims to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans (information in English and Spanish); the US National Guideline Clearinghouse is a searchable database of clinical practice guidelines
The International Diabetes Federation provides information about diabetes for patients and health care professionals, along with international statistics on the burden of diabetes
PMCID: PMC3913553  PMID: 24505216
14.  Evaluation of primary care midwifery in the Netherlands: design and rationale of a dynamic cohort study (DELIVER) 
In the Netherlands, midwives are autonomous medical practitioners and 78% of pregnant women start their maternity care with a primary care midwife. Scientific research to support evidence-based practice in primary care midwifery in the Netherlands has been sparse. This paper describes the research design and methodology of the multicenter multidisciplinary prospective DELIVER study which is the first large-scale study evaluating the quality and provision of primary midwifery care.
Between September 2009 and April 2011, data were collected from clients and their partners, midwives and other healthcare professionals across the Netherlands. Clients from twenty midwifery practices received up to three questionnaires to assess the expectations and experiences of clients (e.g. quality of care, prenatal screening, emotions, health, and lifestyle). These client data were linked to data from the Netherlands Perinatal Register and electronic client records kept by midwives. Midwives and practice assistants from the twenty participating practices recorded work-related activities in a diary for one week, to assess workload. Besides, the midwives were asked to complete a questionnaire, to gain insight into collaboration of midwives with other care providers, their tasks and attitude towards their job, and the quality of the care they provide. Another questionnaire was sent to all Dutch midwifery practices which reveals information regarding the organisation of midwifery practices, provision of preconception care, collaboration with other care providers, and provision of care to ethnic minorities. Data at client, midwife and practice level can be linked. Additionally, partners of pregnant women and other care providers were asked about their expectations and experiences regarding the care delivered by midwives and in six practices client consults were videotaped to objectively assess daily practice.
In total, 7685 clients completed at least one questionnaire, 136 midwives and assistants completed a diary with work-related activities (response 100%), 99 midwives completed a questionnaire (92%), and 319 practices across the country completed a questionnaire (61%), 30 partners of clients participated in focus groups, 21 other care providers were interviewed and 305 consults at six midwifery practices were videotaped.
The multicenter DELIVER study provides an extensive database with national representative data on the quality of primary care midwifery in the Netherlands. This study will support evidence-based practice in primary care midwifery in the Netherlands and contribute to a better understanding of the maternity care system.
PMCID: PMC3331850  PMID: 22433820
15.  The ADDITION-Cambridge trial protocol: a cluster – randomised controlled trial of screening for type 2 diabetes and intensive treatment for screen-detected patients 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:136.
The increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes poses a major public health challenge. Population-based screening and early treatment for type 2 diabetes could reduce this growing burden. However, the benefits of such a strategy remain uncertain.
Methods and design
The ADDITION-Cambridge study aims to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of (i) a stepwise screening strategy for type 2 diabetes; and (ii) intensive multifactorial treatment for people with screen-detected diabetes in primary care. 63 practices in the East Anglia region participated. Three undertook the pilot study, 33 were allocated to three groups: no screening (control), screening followed by intensive treatment (IT) and screening plus routine care (RC) in an unbalanced (1:3:3) randomisation. The remaining 27 practices were randomly allocated to IT and RC. A risk score incorporating routine practice data was used to identify people aged 40–69 years at high-risk of undiagnosed diabetes. In the screening practices, high-risk individuals were invited to take part in a stepwise screening programme. In the IT group, diabetes treatment is optimised through guidelines, target-led multifactorial treatment, audit, feedback, and academic detailing for practice teams, alongside provision of educational materials for newly diagnosed participants. Primary endpoints are modelled cardiovascular risk at one year, and cardiovascular mortality and morbidity at five years after diagnosis of diabetes. Secondary endpoints include all-cause mortality, development of renal and visual impairment, peripheral neuropathy, health service costs, self-reported quality of life, functional status and health utility. Impact of the screening programme at the population level is also assessed through measures of mortality, cardiovascular morbidity, health status and health service use among high-risk individuals.
ADDITION-Cambridge is conducted in a defined high-risk group accessible through primary care. It addresses the feasibility of population-based screening for diabetes, as well as the benefits and costs of screening and intensive multifactorial treatment early in the disease trajectory. The intensive treatment algorithm is based on evidence from studies including individuals with clinically diagnosed diabetes and the education materials are informed by psychological theory. ADDITION-Cambridge will provide timely evidence concerning the benefits of early intensive treatment and will inform policy decisions concerning screening for type 2 diabetes.
Trial registration
Current Controlled trials ISRCTN86769081
PMCID: PMC2698850  PMID: 19435491
16.  Access to complementary medicine via general practice. 
BACKGROUND: The popularity of complementary medicine continues to be asserted by the professional associations and umbrella organisations of these therapies. Within conventional medicine there are also signs that attitudes towards some of the complementary therapies are changing. AIM: To describe the scale and scope of access to complementary therapies (acupuncture, chiropractic, homoeopathy, hypnotherapy, medical herbalism, and osteopathy) via general practice in England. DESIGN OF STUDY: A postal questionnaire sent to 1226 individual general practitioners (GPs) in a random cluster sample of GP partnerships in England. GPs received up to three reminders. SETTING: One in eight (1226) GP partnerships in England in 1995. METHOD: Postal questionnaire to assess estimates of the number of practices offering 'in-house' access to a range of complementary therapies or making National Health Service (NHS) referrals outside the practice; sources of funding for provision and variations by practice characteristics. RESULTS: A total of 964 GPs replied (78.6%). Of these, 760 provided detailed information. An estimated 39.5% (95% CI = 35%-43%) of GP partnerships in England provided access to some form of complementary therapy for their NHS patients. If all non-responding partnerships are assumed to be non-providers, the lowest possible estimate is 30.3%. An estimated 21.4% (95% CI = 19%-24%) were offering access via the provision of treatment by a member of the primary health care team, 6.1% (95% CI = 2%-10%) employed an 'independent' complementary therapist, and an estimated 24.6% of partnerships (95% CI = 21%-28%) had made NHS referrals for complementary therapies. The reported volume of provision within any individual service tended to be low. Acupuncture and homoeopathy were the most commonly available therapies. Patients made some payment for 25% of practice-based provision. Former fundholding practices were significantly more likely to offer complementary therapies than non-fundholding practices, (45% versus 36%, P = 0.02). Fundholding did not affect the range of therapies offered, and patients from former fundholding practices were no more likely to pay for treatment. CONCLUSION: Access to complementary health care for NHS patients was widespread in English general practices in 1995. This data suggests that a limited range of complementary therapies were acceptable to a large proportion of GPs. Fundholding clearly provided a mechanism for the provision of complementary therapies in primary care. Patterns of provision are likely to alter with the demise of fundholding and existing provision may significantly reduce unless the Primary Care Groups or Primary Care Trusts are prepared to support the 'levelling up' of some services.
PMCID: PMC1313895  PMID: 11271869
17.  Primary care providers’ view of challenges and rewards of dementia care relative to other conditions 
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society  2009;57(12):10.1111/j.1532-5415.2009.02572.x.
Compare primary care providers’ (PCPs) perceptions about dementia and its care within their healthcare organization with perceptions of other common chronic conditions, and explore factors associated with differences.
Cross-sectional survey
3 California healthcare organizations
164 PCPs
PCPs’ views about primary care for dementia, compared to heart disease, diabetes, and selected other conditions were analyzed. Differences in views across conditions by PCP type (internists, family physicians) were assessed. Multivariate analysis examined relationships between provider/practice characteristics and views about dementia care.
More PCPs strongly agreed that: older patients with dementia are difficult to manage (24%) than for heart disease (5%) or diabetes (6%); PCPs can improve quality of life for heart disease (59%) and diabetes (62%) than for dementia (31%); older patients should be routinely screened for heart disease (64%) and diabetes (68%) than dementia (56%); and their organizations have expertise/referral resources to manage diabetes (49%) and heart disease (52%) than dementia (21%). More PCPs reported “almost effortless” organizational care coordination for heart disease (13%) or diabetes (14%) than for dementia (6%), and “a great deal”/“a lot” of room for improvement in their ability to manage dementia (51%) than incontinence, depression, or hypertension (7-34%; all P’s<0.05). Internists’ views regarding dementia care were less optimistic than family physicians, but PCP type was unrelated to views on diabetes or heart disease.
Improving primary care management of dementia should directly address PCP concerns about expertise/referral resources, difficulty of care provision, and PCP views about prospects for patient improvement.
PMCID: PMC3832192  PMID: 19943831
dementia; disease management; health services research; primary care; healthcare delivery
18.  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 
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2430955  PMID: 18505591
19.  Effect of Removing Direct Payment for Health Care on Utilisation and Health Outcomes in Ghanaian Children: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1000007.
Delays in accessing care for malaria and other diseases can lead to disease progression, and user fees are a known barrier to accessing health care. Governments are introducing free health care to improve health outcomes. Free health care affects treatment seeking, and it is therefore assumed to lead to improved health outcomes, but there is no direct trial evidence of the impact of removing out-of-pocket payments on health outcomes in developing countries. This trial was designed to test the impact of free health care on health outcomes directly.
Methods and Findings
2,194 households containing 2,592 Ghanaian children under 5 y old were randomised into a prepayment scheme allowing free primary care including drugs, or to a control group whose families paid user fees for health care (normal practice); 165 children whose families had previously paid to enrol in the prepayment scheme formed an observational arm. The primary outcome was moderate anaemia (haemoglobin [Hb] < 8 g/dl); major secondary outcomes were health care utilisation, severe anaemia, and mortality. At baseline the randomised groups were similar. Introducing free primary health care altered the health care seeking behaviour of households; those randomised to the intervention arm used formal health care more and nonformal care less than the control group. Introducing free primary health care did not lead to any measurable difference in any health outcome. The primary outcome of moderate anaemia was detected in 37 (3.1%) children in the control and 36 children (3.2%) in the intervention arm (adjusted odds ratio 1.05, 95% confidence interval 0.66–1.67). There were four deaths in the control and five in the intervention group. Mean Hb concentration, severe anaemia, parasite prevalence, and anthropometric measurements were similar in each group. Families who previously self-enrolled in the prepayment scheme were significantly less poor, had better health measures, and used services more frequently than those in the randomised group.
In the study setting, removing out-of-pocket payments for health care had an impact on health care-seeking behaviour but not on the health outcomes measured.
Trial registration: (#NCT00146692).
Evelyn Ansah and colleagues report on whether removing user fees has an impact on health care-seeking behavior and health outcomes in households with children in Ghana.
Editors' Summary
Every year, about 10 million children worldwide die before their fifth birthday. About half these deaths occur in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Here, 166 children out of every 1,000 die before they are five. A handful of preventable diseases—acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria, measles, and HIV/AIDS—are responsible for most of these deaths. For all these diseases, delays in accessing medical care contribute to the high death rate. In the case of malaria, for example, children are rarely taken to a clinic or hospital (formal health care) when they first develop symptoms, which include fever, chills, and anemia (lack of red blood cells). Instead, they are taken to traditional healers or given home remedies (informal health care). When they are finally taken to a clinic, it is often too late to save their lives. Many factors contribute to this delay in seeking formal health care. Sometimes, health care simply isn't available. In other instances, parents may worry about the quality of the service provided or may not seek formal health care because of their sociocultural beliefs. Finally, many parents cannot afford the travel costs and loss of earnings involved in taking their child to a clinic or the cost of the treatment itself.
Why Was This Study Done?
The financial cost of seeking formal health care is often the major barrier to accessing health care in poor countries. Consequently, the governments of several developing countries have introduced free health care in an effort to improve their nation's health. Such initiatives have increased the use of formal health care in several African countries; the introduction of user fees in Ghana in the early 1980s had the opposite effect. It is generally assumed that an increase in formal health care utilization improves health—but is this true? In this study, the researchers investigate the effect of removing direct payment for health care on health service utilization and health outcomes in Ghanaian children in a randomized controlled trial (a trial in which participants are randomly assigned to an “intervention” group or “control” group and various predefined outcomes are measured).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled nearly 2,600 children under the age of 5 y living in a poor region of Ghana. Half were assigned to the group in which a prepayment scheme (paid for by the trial) provided free primary and basic secondary health care—this was the intervention arm. The rest were assigned to the control group in which families paid for health care. The trial's main outcome was the percentage of children with moderate anemia at the end of the malaria transmission season, an indicator of the effect of the intervention on malaria-related illness. Other outcomes included health care utilization (calculated from household diaries), severe anemia, and death. The researchers report that the children in the intervention arm attended formal health care facilities slightly more often and informal health care providers slightly less often than those in the control arm. About 3% of the children in both groups had moderate anemia at the end of the malaria transmission season. In addition, similar numbers of deaths, cases of severe anemia, fever episodes, and known infections with the malaria parasite were recorded in both groups of children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that, in this setting, the removal of out-of-pocket payments for health care changed health care-seeking behavior but not health outcomes in children. This lack of a measured effect does not necessarily mean that the provision of free health care has no effect on children's health—it could be that the increase in health care utilization in the intervention arm compared to the control arm was too modest to produce a clear effect on health. Alternatively, in Ghana, the indirect costs of seeking health care may be more important than the direct cost of paying for treatment. Although the findings of this trial may not be generalizable to other countries, they nevertheless raise the possibility that providing free health care might not be the most cost-effective way of improving health in all developing countries. Importantly, they also suggest that changes in health care utilization should not be used in future trials as a proxy measure of improvements in health.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This research article is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Valéry Ridde and Slim Haddad
The World Health Organization provides information on child health and on global efforts to reduce child mortality, Millennium Development Goal 4; it also provides information about health in Ghana
The United Nations Web site provides further information on all the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed to by the nations of the world in 2000 with the aim of ending extreme poverty by 2015 (in several languages)
The UK Department for International Development also provides information on the progress that is being made toward reducing child mortality
PMCID: PMC2613422  PMID: 19127975
20.  Care for post-stroke patients at Malaysian public health centres: self-reported practices of family medicine specialists 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:40.
Provision of post stroke care in developing countries is hampered by discoordination of services and limited access to specialised care. Albeit shortcomings, primary care continues to provide post-stroke services in less than favourable circumstances. This paper aimed to review provision of post-stroke care and related problems among Family Medicine Specialists managing public primary health care services.
A semi-structured questionnaire was distributed to 121 Family Physicians servicing public funded health centres in a pilot survey focused on improving post stroke care provision at community level. The questionnaire assessed respondents background and practice details i.e. estimated stroke care burden, current service provision and opinion on service improvement. Means and frequencies described quantitative data. For qualitative data, constant comparison method was used until saturation of themes was reached.
Response rate of 48.8% was obtained. For every 100 patients seen at public healthcentres each month, 2 patients have stroke. Median number of stroke patients seen per month is 5 (IQR 2-10). 57.6% of respondents estimated total stroke patients treated per year at each centre was less than 40 patients. 72.4% lacked a standard care plan although 96.6% agreed one was needed. Patients seen were: discharged from tertiary care (88.1%), shared care plan with specialists (67.8%) and patients who developed stroke during follow up at primary care (64.4%). Follow-ups were done at 8-12 weekly intervals (60.3%) with 3.4% on ‘as needed’ basis. Referrals ranked in order of frequency were to physiotherapy services, dietitian and speech and language pathologists in public facilities. The FMS’ perceived 4 important ‘needs’ in managing stroke patients at primary care level; access to rehabilitation services, coordinated care between tertiary centres and primary care using multidisciplinary care approach, a standardized guideline and family and caregiver support.
Post discharge stroke care guidelines and access to rehabilitation services at primary care is needed for post stroke patients residing at home in the community.
PMCID: PMC3945040  PMID: 24580779
Post stroke; Primary care; Healthcare delivery
21.  Three years follow-up of screen-detected diabetic and non-diabetic subjects: who is better off? The ADDITION Netherlands study 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:67.
People with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia might be at risk of lacking adequate control for cardiovascular risk factors. Our aim was to determine the extent of health care utilization and provision in primary care and to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular disease in persons with an elevated risk score in a stepwise diabetes screening programme.
A total of 56,978 non-diabetic patients, aged 50–70 years, from 79 practices in the Netherlands were invited to participate in a screening programme starting with a questionnaire. Those with an elevated score, underwent further glucose testing. Screened participants with type 2 diabetes (n = 64), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) (n = 62), impaired fasting glucose (IFG) (n = 86), and normal glucose tolerance (NGT) (n = 142) were compared after three years regarding use of medication, care provider encounters and occurrence of CVD.
In all glucose regulation categories cardiovascular medication was prescribed more frequently during follow-up with the strongest increase in diabetic patients. Number of practice visits was higher in diabetic patients compared to those in the other categories. Glucose, lipids, and blood pressure were measured most frequently in diabetic patients. Numbers of cardiovascular events in participants with NGT, IFG, IGT and diabetes were 16.7, 32.6, 17.3 and 15.7 per 1,000 person-years (non significant), respectively.
After three years of follow-up, screened non-diabetic participants with an elevated risk score had cardiovascular event rates comparable with diabetic patients. Screened non-diabetic persons are at risk of lacking optimal control for cardiovascular risk factors while screen-detected diabetic patients were controlled adequately.
PMCID: PMC2626593  PMID: 19087327
22.  From patient care to research: a validation study examining the factors contributing to data quality in a primary care electronic medical record database 
BMC Family Practice  2015;16:11.
Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) are increasingly used in the provision of primary care and have been compiled into databases which can be utilized for surveillance, research and informing practice. The primary purpose of these records is for the provision of individual patient care; validation and examination of underlying limitations is crucial for use for research and data quality improvement. This study examines and describes the validity of chronic disease case definition algorithms and factors affecting data quality in a primary care EMR database.
A retrospective chart audit of an age stratified random sample was used to validate and examine diagnostic algorithms applied to EMR data from the Manitoba Primary Care Research Network (MaPCReN), part of the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network (CPCSSN). The presence of diabetes, hypertension, depression, osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was determined by review of the medical record and compared to algorithm identified cases to identify discrepancies and describe the underlying contributing factors.
The algorithm for diabetes had high sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) with all scores being over 90%. Specificities of the algorithms were greater than 90% for all conditions except for hypertension at 79.2%. The largest deficits in algorithm performance included poor PPV for COPD at 36.7% and limited sensitivity for COPD, depression and osteoarthritis at 72.0%, 73.3% and 63.2% respectively. Main sources of discrepancy included missing coding, alternative coding, inappropriate diagnosis detection based on medications used for alternate indications, inappropriate exclusion due to comorbidity and loss of data.
Comparison to medical chart review shows that at MaPCReN the CPCSSN case finding algorithms are valid with a few limitations. This study provides the basis for the validated data to be utilized for research and informs users of its limitations. Analysis of underlying discrepancies provides the ability to improve algorithm performance and facilitate improved data quality.
PMCID: PMC4324413  PMID: 25649201
Electronic Medical Records; Primary Care; Chronic Disease; Health Information Systems
23.  An evidence-based health workforce model for primary and community care 
The delivery of best practice care can markedly improve clinical outcomes in patients with chronic disease. While the provision of a skilled, multidisciplinary team is pivotal to the delivery of best practice care, the occupational or skill mix required to deliver this care is unclear; it is also uncertain whether such a team would have the capacity to adequately address the complex needs of the clinic population. This is the role of needs-based health workforce planning. The objective of this article is to describe the development of an evidence-informed, needs-based health workforce model to support the delivery of best-practice interdisciplinary chronic disease management in the primary and community care setting using diabetes as a case exemplar.
Development of the workforce model was informed by a strategic review of the literature, critical appraisal of clinical practice guidelines, and a consensus elicitation technique using expert multidisciplinary clinical panels. Twenty-four distinct patient attributes that require unique clinical competencies for the management of diabetes in the primary care setting were identified. Patient attributes were grouped into four major themes and developed into a conceptual model: the Workforce Evidence-Based (WEB) planning model. The four levels of the WEB model are (1) promotion, prevention, and screening of the general or high-risk population; (2) type or stage of disease; (3) complications; and (4) threats to self-care capacity. Given the number of potential combinations of attributes, the model can account for literally millions of individual patient types, each with a distinct clinical team need, which can be used to estimate the total health workforce requirement.
The WEB model was developed in a way that is not only reflective of the diversity in the community and clinic populations but also parsimonious and clear to present and operationalize. A key feature of the model is the classification of subpopulations, which gives attention to the particular care needs of disadvantaged groups by incorporating threats to self-care capacity. The model can be used for clinical, health services, and health workforce planning.
PMCID: PMC3163196  PMID: 21819608
24.  Using psychological theory to understand the clinical management of type 2 diabetes in Primary Care: a comparison across two European countries 
Long term management of patients with Type 2 diabetes is well established within Primary Care. However, despite extensive efforts to implement high quality care both service provision and patient health outcomes remain sub-optimal. Several recent studies suggest that psychological theories about individuals' behaviour can provide a valuable framework for understanding generalisable factors underlying health professionals' clinical behaviour. In the context of the team management of chronic disease such as diabetes, however, the application of such models is less well established. The aim of this study was to identify motivational factors underlying health professional teams' clinical management of diabetes using a psychological model of human behaviour.
A predictive questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) investigated health professionals' (HPs') cognitions (e.g., beliefs, attitudes and intentions) about the provision of two aspects of care for patients with diabetes: prescribing statins and inspecting feet.
General practitioners and practice nurses in England and the Netherlands completed parallel questionnaires, cross-validated for equivalence in English and Dutch. Behavioural data were practice-level patient-reported rates of foot examination and use of statin medication. Relationships between the cognitive antecedents of behaviour proposed by the TPB and healthcare teams' clinical behaviour were explored using multiple regression.
In both countries, attitude and subjective norm were important predictors of health professionals' intention to inspect feet (Attitude: beta = .40; Subjective Norm: beta = .28; Adjusted R2 = .34, p < 0.01), and their intention to prescribe statins (Attitude: beta = .44; Adjusted R2 = .40, p < 0.01). Individuals' self-reported intention did not predict practice-level performance of either clinical behaviour.
Using the TPB, we identified modifiable factors underlying health professionals' intentions to perform two clinical behaviours, providing a rationale for the development of targeted interventions. However, we did not observe a relationship between health professionals' intentions and our proxy measure of team behaviour. Significant methodological issues were highlighted concerning the use of models of individual behaviour to explain behaviours performed by teams. In order to investigate clinical behaviours performed by teams it may be necessary to develop measures that reflect the collective cognitions of the members of the team to facilitate the application of these theoretical models to team behaviours.
PMCID: PMC2729744  PMID: 19656372
25.  Designing and evaluating an interprofessional shared decision-making and goal-setting decision aid for patients with diabetes in clinical care - systematic decision aid development and study protocol 
Care of patients with diabetes often occurs in the context of other chronic illness. Competing disease priorities and competing patient-physician priorities present challenges in the provision of care for the complex patient. Guideline implementation interventions to date do not acknowledge these intricacies of clinical practice. As a result, patients and providers are left overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer volume of recommendations and tasks. An individualized approach to the patient with diabetes and multiple comorbid conditions using shared decision-making (SDM) and goal setting has been advocated as a patient-centred approach that may facilitate prioritization of treatment options. Furthermore, incorporating interprofessional integration into practice may overcome barriers to implementation. However, these strategies have not been taken up extensively in clinical practice.
To systematically develop and test an interprofessional SDM and goal-setting toolkit for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases, following the Knowledge to Action framework.
1. Feasibility study: Individual interviews with primary care physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, and patients with diabetes will be conducted, exploring their experiences with shared decision-making and priority-setting, including facilitators and barriers, the relevance of a decision aid and toolkit for priority-setting, and how best to integrate it into practice.
2. Toolkit development: Based on this data, an evidence-based multi-component SDM toolkit will be developed. The toolkit will be reviewed by content experts (primary care, endocrinology, geriatricians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, patients) for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
3. Heuristic evaluation: A human factors engineer will review the toolkit and identify, list and categorize usability issues by severity.
4. Usability testing: This will be done using cognitive task analysis.
5. Iterative refinement: Throughout the development process, the toolkit will be refined through several iterative cycles of feedback and redesign.
Interprofessional shared decision-making regarding priority-setting with the use of a decision aid toolkit may help prioritize care of individuals with multiple comorbid conditions. Adhering to principles of user-centered design, we will develop and refine a toolkit to assess the feasibility of this approach.
PMCID: PMC3937124  PMID: 24450385
Shared decision-making; Priority setting; Patient decision aid; Interprofessional care; Diabetes mellitus; Patient education; Medical informatics; Toolkit development; Study protocol; User-centred design; Qualitative methods

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