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1.  Multimorbidity of chronic diseases and health care utilization in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:61.
Background
Multimorbidity is common among ageing populations and it affects the demand for health services. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between multimorbidity (i.e. the number of diseases and specific combinations of diseases) and the use of general practice services in the Dutch population of 55 years and older.
Methods
Data on diagnosed chronic diseases, contacts (including face-to-face consultations, phone contacts, and home visits), drug prescription rates, and referral rates to specialised care were derived from the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH), limited to patients whose data were available from 2006 to 2008 (N = 32,583). Multimorbidity was defined as having two or more out of 28 chronic diseases. Multilevel analyses adjusted for age, gender, and clustering of patients in general practices were used to assess the association between multimorbidity and service utilization in 2008.
Results
Patients diagnosed with multiple chronic diseases had on average 18.3 contacts (95% CI 16.8 19.9) per year. This was significantly higher than patients with one chronic disease (11.7 contacts (10.8 12.6)) or without any (6.1 contacts (5.6 6.6)). A higher number of chronic diseases was associated with more contacts, more prescriptions, and more referrals to specialized care. However, the number of contacts per disease decreased with an increasing number of diseases; patients with a single disease had between 9 to 17 contacts a year and patients with five or more diseases had 5 or 6 contacts per disease per year. Contact rates for specific combinations of diseases were lower than what would be expected on the basis of contact rates of the separate diseases.
Conclusion
Multimorbidity is associated with increased health care utilization in general practice, yet the increase declines per additional disease. Still, with the expected rise in multimorbidity in the coming decades more extensive health resources are required.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-61
PMCID: PMC4021063  PMID: 24708798
Multimorbidity; Chronic disease; Epidemiology; Health care utilisation
2.  Patterns of ambulatory medical care utilization in elderly patients with special reference to chronic diseases and multimorbidity - Results from a claims data based observational study in Germany 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:54.
Background
In order to estimate the future demands for health services, the analysis of current utilization patterns of the elderly is crucial. The aim of this study is to analyze ambulatory medical care utilization by elderly patients in relation to age, gender, number of chronic conditions, patterns of multimorbidity, and nursing dependency in Germany.
Methods
Claims data of the year 2004 from 123,224 patients aged 65 years and over which are members of one nationwide operating statutory insurance company in Germany were studied. Multimorbidity was defined as the presence of 3 or more chronic conditions of a list of 46 most prevalent chronic conditions based on ICD 10 diagnoses. Utilization was analyzed by the number of contacts with practices of physicians working in the ambulatory medical care sector and by the number of different physicians contacted for every single chronic condition and their most frequent triadic combinations. Main statistical analyses were multidimensional frequency counts with standard deviations and confidence intervals, and multivariable linear regression analyses.
Results
Multimorbid patients had more than twice as many contacts per year with physicians than those without multimorbidity (36 vs. 16). These contact frequencies were associated with visits to 5.7 different physicians per year in case of multimorbidity vs. 3.5 when multimorbidity was not present. The number of contacts and of physicians contacted increased steadily with the number of chronic conditions. The number of contacts varied between 35 and 54 per year and the number of contacted physicians varied between 5 to 7, depending on the presence of individual chronic diseases and/or their triadic combinations. The influence of gender or age on utilization was small and clinically almost irrelevant. The most important factor influencing physician contact was the presence of nursing dependency due to disability.
Conclusion
In absolute terms, we found a very high rate of utilization of ambulatory medical care by the elderly in Germany, when multimorbidity and especially nursing dependency were present. The extent of utilization by the elderly was related both to the number of chronic conditions and to the individual multimorbidity patterns, but not to gender and almost not to age.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-11-54
PMCID: PMC3180370  PMID: 21914191
3.  Multimorbidity in younger deprived patients: An exploratory study of research and service implications in general practice 
Background
Multimorbidity has been defined as the co-existence of two or more chronic conditions. It has a profound impact on both the individuals affected and on their use of healthcare services. The limited research to date has focused on its epidemiology rather than the development of interventions to improve outcomes in multimorbidity patients, particularly for patients aged less than 65 years. Potential barriers to such research relate to methods of disease recording and coding and examination of the process of care. We aimed to assess the feasibility of identifying younger individuals with multimorbidity at general practice level and to explore the effect of multimorbidity on the type and volume of health care delivered. We also describe the barriers encountered in attempting to carry out this exploratory research.
Methods
Cross sectional survey of GP records in two large urban general practices in Dublin focusing on poorer individuals with at least three chronic conditions and aged between 45 and 64 years.
Results
92 patients with multimorbidity were identified. The median number of conditions was 4 per patient. Individuals received a mean number of 7.5 medications and attended a mean number of GP visits of 11.3 in the 12 months preceding the survey. Barriers to research into multimorbidity at practice level were identified including difficulties relating to GP clinical software; variation in disease coding; assessment of specialist sector activity through the GP-specialist communications and assessment of the full scale of primary care activity in relation to other disciplines and other types of GP contacts such as home visits and telephone contacts.
Conclusion
This study highlights the importance of multimorbidity in general practice and indicates that it is feasible to identify younger patients with multimorbidity through their GP records. This is a first step towards planning a clinical intervention to improve outcomes for such patients in primary care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-6
PMCID: PMC2248589  PMID: 18226249
4.  Epidemiology and impact of multimorbidity in primary care: a retrospective cohort study 
Background
In developed countries, primary health care increasingly involves the care of patients with multiple chronic conditions, referred to as multimorbidity.
Aim
To describe the epidemiology of multimorbidity and relationships between multimorbidity and primary care consultation rates and continuity of care.
Design of study
Retrospective cohort study.
Setting
Random sample of 99 997 people aged 18 years or over registered with 182 general practices in England contributing data to the General Practice Research Database.
Method
Multimorbidity was defined using two approaches: people with multiple chronic conditions included in the Quality and Outcomes Framework, and people identified using the Johns Hopkins University Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACG®) Case-Mix System. The determinants of multimorbidity (age, sex, area deprivation) and relationships with consultation rate and continuity of care were examined using regression models.
Results
Sixteen per cent of patients had more than one chronic condition included in the Quality and Outcomes Framework, but these people accounted for 32% of all consultations. Using the wider ACG list of conditions, 58% of people had multimorbidity and they accounted for 78% of consultations. Multimorbidity was strongly related to age and deprivation. People with multimorbidity had higher consultation rates and less continuity of care compared with people without multimorbidity.
Conclusion
Multimorbidity is common in the population and most consultations in primary care involve people with multimorbidity. These people are less likely to receive continuity of care, although they may be more likely to gain from it.
doi:10.3399/bjgp11X548929
PMCID: PMC3020068  PMID: 21401985
chronic disease; comorbidity; family practice; primary health care; outcome and process assessment (healthcare); prevalence
5.  The influence of age, gender and socio-economic status on multimorbidity patterns in primary care. first results from the multicare cohort study 
Background
Multimorbidity is a phenomenon with high burden and high prevalence in the elderly. Our previous research has shown that multimorbidity can be divided into the multimorbidity patterns of 1) anxiety, depression, somatoform disorders (ADS) and pain, and 2) cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. However, it is not yet known, how these patterns are influenced by patient characteristics. The objective of this paper is to analyze the association of socio-demographic variables, and especially socio-economic status with multimorbidity in general and with each multimorbidity pattern.
Methods
The MultiCare Cohort Study is a multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study of 3.189 multimorbid patients aged 65+ randomly selected from 158 GP practices. Data were collected in GP interviews and comprehensive patient interviews. Missing values have been imputed by hot deck imputation based on Gower distance in morbidity and other variables. The association of patient characteristics with the number of chronic conditions is analysed by multilevel mixed-effects linear regression analyses.
Results
Multimorbidity in general is associated with age (+0.07 chronic conditions per year), gender (-0.27 conditions for female), education (-0.26 conditions for medium and -0.29 conditions for high level vs. low level) and income (-0.27 conditions per logarithmic unit). The pattern of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders shows comparable associations with a higher coefficient for gender (-1.29 conditions for female), while multimorbidity within the pattern of ADS and pain correlates with gender (+0.79 conditions for female), but not with age or socioeconomic status.
Conclusions
Our study confirms that the morbidity load of multimorbid patients is associated with age, gender and the socioeconomic status of the patients, but there were no effects of living arrangements and marital status. We could also show that the influence of patient characteristics is dependent on the multimorbidity pattern concerned, i.e. there seem to be at least two types of elderly multimorbid patients. First, there are patients with mainly cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, who are more often male, have an older age and a lower socio-economic status. Second, there are patients mainly with ADS and pain-related morbidity, who are more often female and equally distributed across age and socio-economic groups.
Trial registration
ISRCTN89818205
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-89
PMCID: PMC3348059  PMID: 22471952
6.  Chronic-disease patients and their use of out-of-hours primary health care: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:114.
Background
The general practitioner (GP) plays an important role for chronic disease care. Continuous and close contact with daytime general practice is intended to prevent medical problems arising outside office hours due to already diagnosed chronic disease. However, previous studies indicate that patients with chronic diseases are frequent users of out-of-hours primary care services (OOH), but knowledge is limited on reasons for encounter (RFE), severity of symptoms, and OOH patient handling. We aimed to describe contacts to the OOH services from patients with chronic heart disease, lung disease, severe psychiatric disorders, diabetes, and cancer in terms of RFE, OOH GP diagnosis, assessed severity of symptoms, and actions taken by the GP.
Methods
Eligible patients (aged 18 years and older) were randomly sampled from a one-year cross-sectional study comprising 15,229 contacts to the OOH services in the Central Denmark Region. A cohort of patients with one or more of the five selected chronic diseases were identified by linking data on the Danish civil registration number (CPR) through specific nationwide Danish health registers.
Results
Out of 13,930 identified unique patients, 4,912 had at least one of the five chronic diseases. In total, 25.9% of all calls to the OOH services came from this chronic disease patient group due to an acute exacerbation; 32.6% of these calls came from patients with psychiatric diagnoses. Patients with chronic disease were more likely to receive a face-to-face contact than the remaining group of patients, except for calls from patients with a psychiatric disorder who were more often completed through a telephone consultation. Patients with heart disease calling due to a new health problem formed the largest proportion of all OOH referrals to hospital (13.3%) compared to calls from the other groups with chronic disease (3.4-6.7%).
Conclusions
A third of the patients randomly sampled by their OOH call had one or more of the five selected chronic diseases (i.e. chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, psychiatric disease, or cancer). Patients with chronic disease were more often managed by OOH GPs than other patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-114
PMCID: PMC4064509  PMID: 24912378
Out-of-hours services; OOH; Chronic disease; General practice; Primary health care; Reasons for encounter
7.  Which chronic diseases and disease combinations are specific to multimorbidity in the elderly? Results of a claims data based cross-sectional study in Germany 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:101.
Background
Growing interest in multimorbidity is observable in industrialized countries. For Germany, the increasing attention still goes still hand in hand with a small number of studies on multimorbidity. The authors report the first results of a cross-sectional study on a large sample of policy holders (n = 123,224) of a statutory health insurance company operating nationwide. This is the first comprehensive study addressing multimorbidity on the basis of German claims data. The main research question was to find out which chronic diseases and disease combinations are specific to multimorbidity in the elderly.
Methods
The study is based on the claims data of all insured policy holders aged 65 and older (n = 123,224). Adjustment for age and gender was performed for the German population in 2004. A person was defined as multimorbid if she/he had at least 3 diagnoses out of a list of 46 chronic conditions in three or more quarters within the one-year observation period. Prevalences and risk-ratios were calculated for the multimorbid and non-multimorbid samples in order to identify diagnoses more specific to multimorbidity and to detect excess prevalences of multimorbidity patterns.
Results
62% of the sample was multimorbid. Women in general and patients receiving statutory nursing care due to disability are overrepresented in the multimorbid sample. Out of the possible 15,180 combinations of three chronic conditions, 15,024 (99%) were found in the database. Regardless of this wide variety of combinations, the most prevalent individual chronic conditions do also dominate the combinations: Triads of the six most prevalent individual chronic conditions (hypertension, lipid metabolism disorders, chronic low back pain, diabetes mellitus, osteoarthritis and chronic ischemic heart disease) span the disease spectrum of 42% of the multimorbid sample. Gender differences were minor. Observed-to-expected ratios were highest when purine/pyrimidine metabolism disorders/gout and osteoarthritis were part of the multimorbidity patterns.
Conclusions
The above list of dominating chronic conditions and their combinations could present a pragmatic start for the development of needed guidelines related to multimorbidity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-101
PMCID: PMC3050745  PMID: 21320345
8.  Age- and gender-related prevalence of multimorbidity in primary care: the swiss fire project 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:113.
Background
General practitioners often care for patients with several concurrent chronic medical conditions (multimorbidity). Recent data suggest that multimorbidity might be observed more often than isolated diseases in primary care. We explored the age- and gender-related prevalence of multimorbidity and compared these estimates to the prevalence estimates of other common specific diseases found in Swiss primary care.
Methods
We analyzed data from the Swiss FIRE (Family Medicine ICPC Research using Electronic Medical Record) project database, representing a total of 509,656 primary care encounters in 98,152 adult patients between January 1, 2009 and July 31, 2011. For each encounter, medical problems were encoded using the second version of the International Classification of primary Care (ICPC-2). We defined chronic health conditions using 147 pre-specified ICPC-2 codes and defined multimorbidity as 1) two or more chronic health conditions from different ICPC-2 rubrics, 2) two or more chronic health conditions from different ICPC-2 chapters, and 3) two or more medical specialties involved in patient care. We compared the prevalence estimates of multimorbidity defined by the three methodologies with the prevalence estimates of common diseases encountered in primary care.
Results
Overall, the prevalence estimates of multimorbidity were similar for the three different definitions (15% [95%CI 11-18%], 13% [95%CI 10-16%], and 14% [95%CI 11-17%], respectively), and were higher than the prevalence estimates of any specific chronic health condition (hypertension, uncomplicated 9% [95%CI 7-11%], back syndrome with and without radiating pain 6% [95%CI 5-7%], non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus 3% [95%CI 3-4%]), and degenerative joint disease 3% [95%CI 2%-4%]). The prevalence estimates of multimorbidity rose more than 20-fold with age, from 2% (95%CI 1-2%) in those aged 20–29 years, to 38% (95%CI 31-44%) in those aged 80 or more years. The prevalence estimates of multimorbidity were similar for men and women (15% vs. 14%, p=0.288).
Conclusions
In primary care, prevalence estimates of multimorbidity are higher than those of isolated diseases. Among the elderly, more than one out of three patients suffer from multimorbidity. Management of multimorbidity is a principal concern in this vulnerable patient population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-113
PMCID: PMC3557138  PMID: 23181753
Multimorbidity; Chronic medical conditions; Prevalence; Primary care; Age; Gender; Swiss; FIRE
9.  Exploring differences in patient mix in a cohort of GP trainees and their trainers 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000318.
Background
During specialty training for general practice, trainees acquire the required competencies through work-based learning. Previous small-scale and older studies suggest that the patient mix of general practitioner (GP) trainees differs from that of their trainers: trainees are exposed to more minor illnesses, and fewer chronic diseases and severe conditions, which may influence the development of their competency.
Research question
What are the differences in the patient mix between trainees and trainers?
Methods
49 first- and 24 third-year trainees and their trainers (n=114) were included in the study. International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) contact and diagnosis codes were extracted from electronic patient records over 6 months.
Results
Trainers had double the number of face-to-face consultations, and treble the number of telephone consultations compared with trainees. The trainees' patient mix consisted of significantly more patients with eye diseases, ear diseases, respiratory diseases, skin diseases and minor illnesses compared with their trainers. Trainers encountered significantly more patients with circulatory diseases, psychiatric diseases, metabolic diseases, male genital conditions, social problems, and chronic and oncological diseases. Female trainers and trainees encountered almost twice the number of female conditions compared with their male counterparts, while for male conditions, the opposite was found.
Discussion
Considerable differences between the patient mix of trainers and trainees were found. Specialty trainers and teachers must be aware of areas of low exposure. Trainers should ensure trainees handle more chronic, complex, psychosocial and circulatory conditions.
Article summary
Article focus
Differences in patient mix between trainees and trainers were examined.
Key messages
There are considerable differences between the patient mixes of trainers and trainees.
Trainers and teachers must be aware of these disparities and of areas of low exposure.
Trainers should ensure that trainees handle more chronic, complex, psychosocial and circulatory conditions.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The patient mix during specialty training for general practice was studied on a large scale and over a long period.
Information on patient mix extracted from electronic patient records system is excellent for monitoring patient mix.
The validity of the study is potentially diminished by dependence on the diagnostic competence of the doctors and the accurate attribution of diagnosis codes.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000318
PMCID: PMC3221294  PMID: 22102644
10.  Burden of multimorbidity, socioeconomic status and use of health services across stages of life in urban areas: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:530.
Background
The burden of chronic conditions and multimorbidity is a growing health problem in developed countries. The study aimed to determine the estimated prevalence and patterns of multimorbidity in urban areas of Catalonia, stratified by sex and adult age groups, and to assess whether socioeconomic status and use of primary health care services were associated with multimorbidity.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted in Catalonia. Participants were adults (19+ years) living in urban areas, assigned to 251 primary care teams. Main outcome: multimorbidity (≥2 chronic conditions). Other variables: sex (male/female), age (19–24; 25–44; 45–64; 65–79; 80+ years), socioeconomic status (quintiles), number of health care visits during the study.
Results
We included 1,356,761 patients; mean age, 47.4 years (SD: 17.8), 51.0% women. Multimorbidity was present in 47.6% (95% CI 47.5-47.7) of the sample, increasing with age in both sexes but significantly higher in women (53.3%) than in men (41.7%). Prevalence of multimorbidity in each quintile of the deprivation index was higher in women than in men (except oldest group). In women, multimorbidity prevalence increased with quintile of the deprivation index. Overall, the median (interquartile range) number of primary care visits was 8 (4–14) in multimorbidity vs 1 (0–4) in non-multimorbidity patients. The most prevalent multimorbidity pattern beyond 45 years of age was uncomplicated hypertension and lipid disorder. Compared with the least deprived group, women in other quintiles of the deprivation index were more likely to have multimorbidity than men until 65 years of age. The odds of multimorbidity increased with number of visits in all strata.
Conclusions
When all chronic conditions were included in the analysis, almost 50% of the adult urban population had multimorbidity. The prevalence of multimorbidity differed by sex, age group and socioeconomic status. Multimorbidity patterns varied by life-stage and sex; however, circulatory-endocrine-metabolic patterns were the most prevalent multimorbidity pattern after 45 years of age. Women younger than 80 years had greater prevalence of multimorbidity than men, and women’s multimorbidity prevalence increased as socioeconomic status declined in all age groups. Identifying multimorbidity patterns associated with specific age-related life-stages allows health systems to prioritize and to adapt clinical management efforts by age group.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-530
PMCID: PMC4060853  PMID: 24885174
Multimorbidity; Chronic conditions; Socioeconomic status; Use of health services; Life-stage; Urban area; Inequalities
11.  Impact of nurse practitioners on workload of general practitioners: randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7445):927.
Objective To examine the impact on general practitioners' workload of adding nurse practitioners to the general practice team.
Design Randomised controlled trial with measurements before and after the introduction of nurse practitioners.
Setting 34 general practices in a southern region of the Netherlands.
Participants 48 general practitioners.
Intervention Five nurses were randomly allocated to general practitioners to undertake specific elements of care according to agreed guidelines. The control group received no nurse.
Main outcome measures Objective workload, derived from 28 day diaries, included the number of contacts per day for each of three conditions (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma, dementia, cancer), by type of consultation (in practice, telephone, home visit), and by time of day (surgery hours, out of hours). Subjective workload was measured by using a validated questionnaire. Outcomes were measured six months before and 18 months after the intervention.
Results The number of contacts during surgery hours increased in the intervention group compared with the control group (P < 0.06), particularly for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma (P < 0.01). The number of consultations out of hours declined slightly in the intervention group compared with the control group, but this difference did not reach significance. No significant changes became apparent in subjective workload.
Conclusion Adding nurse practitioners to general practice teams did not reduce the workload of general practitioners, at least in the short term. This implies that nurse practitioners are used as supplements, rather than substitutes, for care given by general practitioners.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38041.493519.EE
PMCID: PMC390208  PMID: 15069024
12.  Co- and multimorbidity patterns in primary care based on episodes of care: results from the German CONTENT project 
Background
Due to technological progress and improvements in medical care and health policy the average age of patients in primary care is continuously growing. In equal measure, an increasing proportion of mostly elderly primary care patients presents with multiple coexisting medical conditions. To properly assess the current situation of co- and multimorbidity, valid scientific data based on an appropriate data structure are indispensable. CONTENT (CONTinuous morbidity registration Epidemiologic NeTwork) is an ambitious project in Germany to establish a system for adequate record keeping and analysis in primary care based on episodes of care. An episode is defined as health problem from its first presentation by a patient to a doctor until the completion of the last encounter for it. The study aims to describe co- and multimorbidity as well as health care utilization based on episodes of care for the study population of the first participating general practices.
Methods
The analyses were based on a total of 39,699 patients in a yearly contact group (YCG) out of 17 general practices in Germany for which data entry based on episodes of care using the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) was performed between 1.1.2006 and 31.12.2006. In order to model the relationship between the explanatory variables (age, gender, number of chronic conditions) and the response variables of interest (number of different prescriptions, number of referrals, number of encounters) that were applied to measure health care utilization, we used multiple linear regression.
Results
In comparison to gender, patients' age had a manifestly stronger impact on the number of different prescriptions, the number of referrals and number of encounters. In comparison to age (β = 0.043, p < 0.0001), multimorbidity measured by the number of patients' chronic conditions (β = 0.51, p < 0.0001) had a manifestly stronger impact the number of encounters for the observation period. Moreover, we could observe that the number of patients' chronic conditions had a significant impact on the number of different prescriptions (β = 0.226, p < 0.0001) as well as on the number of referrals (β = 0.3, p < 0.0001).
Conclusion
Documentation in primary care on the basis of episodes of care facilitates an insight to concurrently existing health problems and related medical procedures. Therefore, the resulting data provide a basis to obtain co- and multimorbidity patterns and corresponding health care utilization issues in order to understand the particular complex needs caused by multimorbidity.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-14
PMCID: PMC2244601  PMID: 18205916
13.  Community-Based Multidisciplinary Care for Patients With Stable Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
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.
Objective
The objective of this evidence-based analysis was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of multidisciplinary care (MDC) compared with usual care (UC, single health care provider) for the treatment of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a progressive disorder with episodes of acute exacerbations associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Cigarette smoking is linked causally to COPD in more than 80% of cases. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is among the most common chronic diseases worldwide and has an enormous impact on individuals, families, and societies through reduced quality of life and increased health resource utilization and mortality.
The estimated prevalence of COPD in Ontario in 2007 was 708,743 persons.
Technology
Multidisciplinary care involves professionals from a range of disciplines, working together to deliver comprehensive care that addresses as many of the patient’s health care and psychosocial needs as possible.
Two variables are inherent in the concept of a multidisciplinary team: i) the multidisciplinary components such as an enriched knowledge base and a range of clinical skills and experiences, and ii) the team components, which include but are not limited to, communication and support measures. However, the most effective number of team members and which disciplines should comprise the team for optimal effect is not yet known.
Research Question
What is the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of MDC compared with UC (single health care provider) for the treatment of stable COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on July 19, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, OVID EMBASE, EBSCO Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination database, for studies published from January 1, 1995 until July 2010. 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.
Inclusion Criteria
health technology assessments, systematic reviews, or randomized controlled trials
studies published between January 1995 and July 2010;
COPD study population
studies comparing MDC (2 or more health care disciplines participating in care) compared with UC (single health care provider)
Exclusion Criteria
grey literature
duplicate publications
non-English language publications
study population less than 18 years of age
Outcomes of Interest
hospital admissions
emergency department (ED) visits
mortality
health-related quality of life
lung function
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed, taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Six randomized controlled trials were obtained from the literature search. Four of the 6 studies were completed in the United States. The sample size of the 6 studies ranged from 40 to 743 participants, with a mean study sample between 66 and 71 years of age. Only 2 studies characterized the study sample in terms of the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) COPD stage criteria, and in general the description of the study population in the other 4 studies was limited. The mean percent predicted forced expiratory volume in 1 second (% predicted FEV1) among study populations was between 32% and 59%. Using this criterion, 3 studies included persons with severe COPD and 2 with moderate COPD. Information was not available to classify the population in the sixth study.
Four studies had MDC treatment groups which included a physician. All studies except 1 reported a respiratory specialist (i.e., respiratory therapist, specialist nurse, or physician) as part of the multidisciplinary team. The UC group was comprised of a single health care practitioner who may or may not have been a respiratory specialist.
A meta-analysis was completed for 5 of the 7 outcome measures of interest including:
health-related quality of life,
lung function,
all-cause hospitalization,
COPD-specific hospitalization, and
mortality.
There was only 1 study contributing to the outcome of all-cause and COPD-specific ED visits which precluded pooling data for these outcomes. Subgroup analyses were not completed either because heterogeneity was not significant or there were a small number of studies that were meta-analysed for the outcome.
Quality of Life
Three studies reported results of quality of life assessment based on the St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ). A mean decrease in the SGRQ indicates an improvement in quality of life while a mean increase indicates deterioration in quality of life. In all studies the mean change score from baseline to the end time point in the MDC treatment group showed either an improvement compared with the control group or less deterioration compared with the control group. The mean difference in change scores between MDC and UC groups was statistically significant in all 3 studies. The pooled weighted mean difference in total SGRQ score was −4.05 (95% confidence interval [CI], −6.47 to 1.63; P = 0.001). The GRADE quality of evidence was assessed as low for this outcome.
Lung Function
Two studies reported results of the FEV1 % predicted as a measure of lung function. A negative change from baseline infers deterioration in lung function and a positive change from baseline infers an improvement in lung function. The MDC group showed a statistically significant improvement in lung function up to 12 months compared with the UC group (P = 0.01). However this effect is not maintained at 2-year follow-up (P = 0.24). The pooled weighted mean difference in FEV1 percent predicted was 2.78 (95% CI, −1.82 to −7.37). The GRADE quality of evidence was assessed as very low for this outcome indicating that an estimate of effect is uncertain.
Hospital Admissions
All-Cause
Four studies reported results of all-cause hospital admissions in terms of number of persons with at least 1 admission during the follow-up period. Estimates from these 4 studies were pooled to determine a summary estimate. There is a statistically significant 25% relative risk (RR) reduction in all-cause hospitalizations in the MDC group compared with the UC group (P < 0.001). The index of heterogeneity (I2) value is 0%, indicating no statistical heterogeneity between studies. The GRADE quality of evidence was assessed as moderate for this outcome, indicating that further research may change the estimate of effect.
COPD-Specific Hospitalization
Three studies reported results of COPD-specific hospital admissions in terms of number of persons with at least 1 admission during the follow-up period. Estimates from these 3 studies were pooled to determine a summary estimate. There is a statistically significant 33% RR reduction in all-cause hospitalizations in the MDC group compared with the UC group (P = 0.002). The I2 value is 0%, indicating no statistical heterogeneity between studies. The GRADE quality of evidence was assessed as moderate for this outcome, indicating that further research may change the estimate of effect.
Emergency Department Visits
All-Cause
Two studies reported results of all-cause ED visits in terms of number of persons with at least 1 visit during the follow-up period. There is a statistically nonsignificant reduction in all-cause ED visits when data from these 2 studies are pooled (RR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.31 to −1.33; P = 0.24). The GRADE quality of evidence was assessed as very low for this outcome indicating that an estimate of effect is uncertain.
COPD-Specific
One study reported results of COPD-specific ED visits in terms of number of persons with at least 1 visit during the follow-up period. There is a statistically significant 41% reduction in COPD-specific ED visits when the data from these 2 studies are pooled (RR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.43−0.81; P < 0.001). The GRADE quality of evidence was assessed as moderate for this outcome.
Mortality
Three studies reported the mortality during the study follow-up period. Estimates from these 3 studies were pooled to determine a summary estimate. There is a statistically nonsignificant reduction in mortality between treatment groups (RR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.52−1.27; P = 0.36). The I2 value is 19%, indicating low statistical heterogeneity between studies. All studies had a 12-month follow-up period. The GRADE quality of evidence was assessed as low for this outcome.
Conclusions
Significant effect estimates with moderate quality of evidence were found for all-cause hospitalization, COPD-specific hospitalization, and COPD-specific ED visits (Table ES1). A significant estimate with low quality evidence was found for the outcome of quality of life (Table ES2). All other outcome measures were nonsignificant and supported by low or very low quality of evidence.
Summary of Dichotomous Data
Abbreviations: CI, confidence intervals; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; n, number.
Summary of Continuous Data
Abbreviations: CI, confidence intervals; FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 second; n, number; SGRQ, St. George’s Respiratory Questionnaire.
PMCID: PMC3384374  PMID: 23074433
14.  Safety and effectiveness of nurse telephone consultation in out of hours primary care: randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7165):1054-1059.
Objective To determine the safety and effectiveness of nurse telephone consultation in out of hours primary care by investigating adverse events and the management of calls.
Design Block randomised controlled trial over a year of 156 matched pairs of days and weekends in 26 blocks. One of each matched pair was randomised to receive the intervention.
Setting One 55 member general practice cooperative serving 97 000 registered patients in Wiltshire.
Subjects All patients contacting the out of hours service or about whom contact was made during specified times over the trial year.
Intervention A nurse telephone consultation service integrated within a general practice cooperative. The out of hours period was 615 pm to 1115 pm from Monday to Friday, 1100 am to 1115 pm on Saturday, and 800 am to 1115 pm on Sunday. Experienced and specially trained nurses received, assessed, and managed calls from patients or their carers. Management options included telephone advice; referral to the general practitioner on duty (for telephone advice, an appointment at a primary care centre, or a home visit); referral to the emergency service or advice to attend accident and emergency. Calls were managed with the help of decision support software.
Main outcome measures Deaths within seven days of a contact with the out of hours service; emergency hospital admissions within 24 hours and within three days of contact; attendance at accident and emergency within three days of a contact; number and management of calls in each arm of the trial.
Results 14 492 calls were received during the specified times in the trial year (7308 in the control arm and 7184 in the intervention arm) concerning 10 134 patients (10.4% of the registered population). There were no substantial differences in the age and sex of patients in the intervention and control groups, though male patients were underrepresented overall. Reasons for calling the service were consistent with previous studies. Nurses managed 49.8% of calls during intervention periods without referral to a general practitioner. A 69% reduction in telephone advice from a general practitioner, together with a 38% reduction in patient attendance at primary care centres and a 23% reduction in home visits was observed during intervention periods. Statistical equivalence was observed in the number of deaths within seven days, in the number of emergency hospital admissions, and in the number of attendances at accident and emergency departments.
Conclusions Nurse telephone consultation produced substantial changes in call management, reducing overall workload of general practitioners by 50% while allowing callers faster access to health information and advice. It was not associated with an increase in the number of adverse events. This model of out of hours primary care is safe and effective.
Key messagesTelephone consultation is becoming an increasingly accepted approach to patient care and improves public access to medical information and adviceThis study found that nurse telephone consultation halved the number of cases dealt with by general practitioners and was at least as safe as existing out of hours servicesNurse telephone consultation not only replaced telephone advice given by a doctor but led to reductions in both home visits and surgery attendances out of hoursFurther testing is required of variants to the system used in this trial, including the selection and training of nurses and the decision support software usedThere are clear opportunities for and potential benefits from integrating existing out of hours services with NHS Direct
PMCID: PMC28690  PMID: 9774295
15.  Agreement between self-reported and general practitioner-reported chronic conditions among multimorbid patients in primary care - results of the MultiCare Cohort Study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:39.
Background
Multimorbidity is a common phenomenon in primary care. Until now, no clinical guidelines for multimorbidity exist. For the development of these guidelines, it is necessary to know whether or not patients are aware of their diseases and to what extent they agree with their doctor. The objectives of this paper are to analyze the agreement of self-reported and general practitioner-reported chronic conditions among multimorbid patients in primary care, and to discover which patient characteristics are associated with positive agreement.
Methods
The MultiCare Cohort Study is a multicenter, prospective, observational cohort study of 3,189 multimorbid patients, ages 65 to 85. Data was collected in personal interviews with patients and GPs. The prevalence proportions for 32 diagnosis groups, kappa coefficients and proportions of specific agreement were calculated in order to examine the agreement of patient self-reported and general practitioner-reported chronic conditions. Logistic regression models were calculated to analyze which patient characteristics can be associated with positive agreement.
Results
We identified four chronic conditions with good agreement (e.g. diabetes mellitus κ = 0.80;PA = 0,87), seven with moderate agreement (e.g. cerebral ischemia/chronic stroke κ = 0.55;PA = 0.60), seventeen with fair agreement (e.g. cardiac insufficiency κ = 0.24;PA = 0.36) and four with poor agreement (e.g. gynecological problems κ = 0.05;PA = 0.10).
Factors associated with positive agreement concerning different chronic diseases were sex, age, education, income, disease count, depression, EQ VAS score and nursing care dependency. For example: Women had higher odds ratios for positive agreement with their GP regarding osteoporosis (OR = 7.16). The odds ratios for positive agreement increase with increasing multimorbidity in almost all of the observed chronic conditions (OR = 1.22-2.41).
Conclusions
For multimorbidity research, the knowledge of diseases with high disagreement levels between the patients’ perceived illnesses and their physicians’ reports is important. The analysis shows that different patient characteristics have an impact on the agreement. Findings from this study should be included in the development of clinical guidelines for multimorbidity aiming to optimize health care. Further research is needed to identify more reasons for disagreement and their consequences in health care.
Trial registration
ISRCTN89818205
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-39
PMCID: PMC3946039  PMID: 24580758
Agreement; Self-report; Physician report; Chronic diseases; Primary care; Multimorbidity
16.  Home Telehealth for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
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.
Objective
The objective of this analysis was to conduct an evidence-based assessment of home telehealth technologies for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in order to inform recommendations regarding the access and provision of these services in Ontario. This analysis was one of several analyses undertaken to evaluate interventions for COPD. The perspective of this assessment was that of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, a provincial payer of medically necessary health care services.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Canada is facing an increase in chronic respiratory diseases due in part to its aging demographic. The projected increase in COPD will put a strain on health care payers and providers. There is therefore an increasing demand for telehealth services that improve access to health care services while maintaining or improving quality and equality of care. Many telehealth technologies however are in the early stages of development or diffusion and thus require study to define their application and potential harms or benefits. The Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) therefore sought to evaluate telehealth technologies for COPD.
Technology
Telemedicine (or telehealth) refers to using advanced information and communication technologies and electronic medical devices to support the delivery of clinical care, professional education, and health-related administrative services.
Generally there are 4 broad functions of home telehealth interventions for COPD:
to monitor vital signs or biological health data (e.g., oxygen saturation),
to monitor symptoms, medication, or other non-biologic endpoints (e.g., exercise adherence),
to provide information (education) and/or other support services (such as reminders to exercise or positive reinforcement), and
to establish a communication link between patient and provider.
These functions often require distinct technologies, although some devices can perform a number of these diverse functions. For the purposes of this review, MAS focused on home telemonitoring and telephone only support technologies.
Telemonitoring (or remote monitoring) refers to the use of medical devices to remotely collect a patient’s vital signs and/or other biologic health data and the transmission of those data to a monitoring station for interpretation by a health care provider.
Telephone only support refers to disease/disorder management support provided by a health care provider to a patient who is at home via telephone or videoconferencing technology in the absence of transmission of patient biologic data.
Research Questions
What is the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of home telemonitoring compared with usual care for patients with COPD?
What is the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and safety of telephone only support programs compared with usual care for patients with COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on November 3, 2010 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 from January 1, 2000 until November 3, 2010. 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, and 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.
Inclusion Criteria – Question #1
frequent transmission of a patient’s physiological data collected at home and without a health care professional physically present to health care professionals for routine monitoring through the use of a communication technology;
monitoring combined with a coordinated management and feedback system based on transmitted data;
telemonitoring as a key component of the intervention (subjective determination);
usual care as provided by the usual care provider for the control group;
randomized controlled trials (RCTs), controlled clinical trials (CCTs), systematic reviews, and/or meta-analyses;
published between January 1, 2000 and November 3, 2010.
Inclusion Criteria – Question #2
scheduled or frequent contact between patient and a health care professional via telephone or videoconferencing technology in the absence of transmission of patient physiological data;
monitoring combined with a coordinated management and feedback system based on transmitted data;
telephone support as a key component of the intervention (subjective determination);
usual care as provided by the usual care provider for the control group;
RCTs, CCTs, systematic reviews, and/or meta-analyses;
published between January 1, 2000 and November 3, 2010.
Exclusion Criteria
published in a language other than English;
intervention group (and not control) receiving some form of home visits by a medical professional, typically a nurse (i.e., telenursing) beyond initial technology set-up and education, to collect physiological data, or to somehow manage or treat the patient;
not recording patient or health system outcomes (e.g., technical reports testing accuracy, reliability or other development-related outcomes of a device, acceptability/feasibility studies, etc.);
not using an independent control group that received usual care (e.g., studies employing historical or periodic controls).
Outcomes of Interest
hospitalizations (primary outcome)
mortality
emergency department visits
length of stay
quality of life
other […]
Subgroup Analyses (a priori)
length of intervention (primary)
severity of COPD (primary)
Quality of Evidence
The quality of evidence assigned to individual studies was determined using a modified CONSORT Statement Checklist for Randomized Controlled Trials. (1) The CONSORT Statement was adapted to include 3 additional quality measures: the adequacy of control group description, significant differential loss to follow-up between groups, and greater than or equal to 30% study attrition. Individual study quality was defined based on total scores according to the CONSORT Statement checklist: very low (0 to < 40%), low (≥ 40 to < 60%), moderate (≥ 60 to < 80%), and high (≥ 80 to 100%).
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Six publications, representing 5 independent trials, met the eligibility criteria for Research Question #1. Three trials were RCTs reported across 4 publications, whereby patients were randomized to home telemonitoring or usual care, and 2 trials were CCTs, whereby patients or health care centers were nonrandomly assigned to intervention or usual care.
A total of 310 participants were studied across the 5 included trials. The mean age of study participants in the included trials ranged from 61.2 to 74.5 years for the intervention group and 61.1 to 74.5 years for the usual care group. The percentage of men ranged from 40% to 64% in the intervention group and 46% to 72% in the control group.
All 5 trials were performed in a moderate to severe COPD patient population. Three trials initiated the intervention following discharge from hospital. One trial initiated the intervention following a pulmonary rehabilitation program. The final trial initiated the intervention during management of patients at an outpatient clinic.
Four of the 5 trials included oxygen saturation (i.e., pulse oximetry) as one of the biological patient parameters being monitored. Additional parameters monitored included forced expiratory volume in one second, peak expiratory flow, and temperature.
There was considerable clinical heterogeneity between trials in study design, methods, and intervention/control. In relation to the telemonitoring intervention, 3 of the 5 included studies used an electronic health hub that performed multiple functions beyond the monitoring of biological parameters. One study used only a pulse oximeter device alone with modem capabilities. Finally, in 1 study, patients measured and then forwarded biological data to a nurse during a televideo consultation. Usual care varied considerably between studies.
Only one trial met the eligibility criteria for Research Question #2. The included trial was an RCT that randomized 60 patients to nurse telephone follow-up or usual care (no telephone follow-up). Participants were recruited from the medical department of an acute-care hospital in Hong Kong and began receiving follow-up after discharge from the hospital with a diagnosis of COPD (no severity restriction). The intervention itself consisted of only two 10-to 20-minute telephone calls, once between days 3 to 7 and once between days 14 to 20, involving a structured, individualized educational and supportive programme led by a nurse that focused on 3 components: assessment, management options, and evaluation.
Regarding Research Question #1:
Low to very low quality evidence (according to GRADE) finds non-significant effects or conflicting effects (of significant or non-significant benefit) for all outcomes examined when comparing home telemonitoring to usual care.
There is a trend towards significant increase in time free of hospitalization and use of other health care services with home telemonitoring, but these findings need to be confirmed further in randomized trials of high quality.
There is severe clinical heterogeneity between studies that limits summary conclusions.
The economic impact of home telemonitoring is uncertain and requires further study.
Home telemonitoring is largely dependent on local information technologies, infrastructure, and personnel, and thus the generalizability of external findings may be low. Jurisdictions wishing to replicate home telemonitoring interventions should likely test those interventions within their jurisdictional framework before adoption, or should focus on home-grown interventions that are subjected to appropriate evaluation and proven effective.
Regarding Research Question #2:
Low quality evidence finds significant benefit in favour of telephone-only support for self-efficacy and emergency department visits when compared to usual care, but non-significant results for hospitalizations and hospital length of stay.
There are very serious issues with the generalizability of the evidence and thus additional research is required.
PMCID: PMC3384362  PMID: 23074421
17.  Benchmarking the burden of 100 diseases: results of a nationwide representative survey within general practices 
BMJ Open  2011;1(2):e000215.
Objective
To assess the burden of diseases and quality of life (QOL) of patients for a large variety of diseases within general practice.
Design
In a representative nationwide cross-sectional study, a total of 825 general practitioners (GPs) were randomly selected from across France. Independent investigators recruited 8559 patients attending the GPs' practices. Data on QOL (12-Item Short Form questionnaire) and other individual characteristics were documented by the independent investigators for all participants in the waiting room. Medical information was recorded by GPs. Sampling was calibrated to national standards using the CALMAR (CALage sur MARges) weighting procedure. Associations of lower scores (ie, below vs above the first quartile) of physical and mental component scores (physical component summary score (PCS) and mental component summary score (MCS), respectively) with main diseases and patients characteristics were estimated using multivariate logistic regression. Weighted morbidity rates, PCS and MCS were computed for 100 diagnoses using the International Classification of Diseases (9th version).
Results
Overall mental impairment was observed among patients in primary care with an average MCS of 41.5 (SD 8.6), ranging from 33.0 for depressive disorders to 45.3 for patients exhibiting fractures or sprains. Musculoskeletal diseases were found to have the most pronounced effect on impaired physical health (OR=2.31; 95% CI 2.08 to 2.57) with the lowest PCS (45.6 (SD 8.8)) and ranked first (29.0%) among main diagnoses experienced by patients followed by cardiovascular diseases (26.7%) and psychological disorders (22.0%). When combining both prevalence and QOL, musculoskeletal diseases represented the heaviest burden in general practice.
Conclusions
Etude épidémiologique de l'Impact de santé public sur 3 groupes de pathologies (EPI3) is the first study to provide reference figures for burden of disease in general practice across a wide range of morbidities, particularly valuable for health-economics and healthcare-system evaluation.
Article summary
Article focus
The impact of diseases on quality of life (QOL) in general practice has been assessed among selected samples of patients, usually from studies including a limited number of medical practices and/or focusing mainly on chronic conditions.
There is a clear need for more data on QOL of patients in primary care; the aim of the Etude épidémiologique de l'Impact de santé public sur 3 groupes de pathologies (EPI3) survey was to provide reference figures for disease burden in this setting.
Key messages
The EPI3 study was a cross-sectional survey combining unique data from patients and general practitioners (GPs), and allowed provision of reference figures for the vast majority of diseases encountered in primary care for a large number of patients.
The study highlighted the burden of musculoskeletal and psychological disorders, experienced by more than half the patients.
Although social and medical determinants of patients' QOL were somewhat similar than those found in previous studies in primary care, the EPI3 survey showed more pronounced mental impairment in French patients.
Strengths and limitations of this study
No nationwide study on burden of disease combining both prevalence measures and QOL assessment has been conducted to date, addressing such a large variety of diseases in general practice.
On-site selection and recruitment by an independent investigator limited the possibility of selection bias among patients, and the participation of physicians added high specificity to medical data collection.
A study design providing a high specificity in data collection led to a relatively low response rate from GPs. However, stratified recruitment phases and sample sizes from both GPs and patients highly representative of national standards ensured the strong external validity of the results.
Home consultations, which are common among GPs in France, were not surveyed which could have led to an underestimation of the burden of disease.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000215
PMCID: PMC3221295  PMID: 22102638
18.  Managing patients with multimorbidity: systematic review of interventions in primary care and community settings 
Objective To determine the effectiveness of interventions designed to improve outcomes in patients with multimorbidity in primary care and community settings.
Design Systematic review.
Data sources Medline, Embase, CINAHL, CAB Health, Cochrane central register of controlled trials, the database of abstracts of reviews of effectiveness, and the Cochrane EPOC (effective practice and organisation of care) register (searches updated in April 2011).
Eligibility criteria Randomised controlled trials, controlled clinical trials, controlled before and after studies, and interrupted time series analyses reporting on interventions to improve outcomes for people with multimorbidity in primary care and community settings. Multimorbidity was defined as two or more chronic conditions in the same individual. Outcomes included any validated measure of physical or mental health and psychosocial status, including quality of life outcomes, wellbeing, and measures of disability or functional status. Also included were measures of patient and provider behaviour, including drug adherence, utilisation of health services, acceptability of services, and costs.
Data selection Two reviewers independently assessed studies for eligibility, extracted data, and assessed study quality. As meta-analysis of results was not possible owing to heterogeneity in participants and interventions, a narrative synthesis of the results from the included studies was carried out.
Results 10 studies examining a range of complex interventions totalling 3407 patients with multimorbidity were identified. All were randomised controlled trials with a low risk of bias. Two studies described interventions for patients with specific comorbidities. The remaining eight studies focused on multimorbidity, generally in older patients. Consideration of the impact of socioeconomic deprivation was minimal. All studies involved complex interventions with multiple components. In six of the 10 studies the predominant component was a change to the organisation of care delivery, usually through case management or enhanced multidisciplinary team work. In the remaining four studies, intervention components were predominantly patient oriented. Overall the results were mixed, with a trend towards improved prescribing and drug adherence. The results indicated that it is difficult to improve outcomes in this population but that interventions focusing on particular risk factors in comorbid conditions or functional difficulties in multimorbidity may be more effective. No economic analyses were included, although the improvements in prescribing and risk factor management in some studies could provide potentially important cost savings.
Conclusions Evidence on the care of patients with multimorbidity is limited, despite the prevalence of multimorbidity and its impact on patients and healthcare systems. Interventions to date have had mixed effects, although are likely to be more effective if targeted at risk factors or specific functional difficulties. A need exists to clearly identify patients with multimorbidity and to develop cost effective and specifically targeted interventions that can improve health outcomes.
doi:10.1136/bmj.e5205
PMCID: PMC3432635  PMID: 22945950
19.  Chronic diseases and multi-morbidity - a conceptual modification to the WHO ICCC model for countries in health transition 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:575.
Background
The burden of non-communicable diseases is rising, particularly in low and middle-income countries undergoing rapid epidemiological transition. In sub-Saharan Africa, this is occurring against a background of infectious chronic disease epidemics, particularly HIV and tuberculosis. Consequently, multi-morbidity, the co-existence of more than one chronic condition in one person, is increasing; in particular multimorbidity due to comorbid non-communicable and infectious chronic diseases (CNCICD). Such complex multimorbidity is a major challenge to existing models of healthcare delivery and there is a need to ensure integrated care across disease pathways and across primary and secondary care.
Discussion
The Innovative Care for Chronic Conditions (ICCC) Framework developed by the World Health Organization provides a health systems roadmap to meet the increasing needs of chronic disease care. This framework incorporates community, patient, healthcare and policy environment perspectives, and forms the cornerstone of South Africa’s primary health care re-engineering and strategic plan for chronic disease management integration. However, it does not significantly incorporate complexity associated with multimorbidity and CNCICD.
Using South Africa as a case study for a country in transition, we identify gaps in the ICCC framework at the micro-, meso-, and macro-levels. We apply the lens of CNCICD and propose modification of the ICCC and the South African Integrated Chronic Disease Management plan. Our framework incorporates the increased complexity of treating CNCICD patients, and highlights the importance of biomedicine (biological interaction). We highlight the patient perspective using a patient experience model that proposes that treatment adherence, healthcare utilization, and health outcomes are influenced by the relationship between the workload that is delegated to patients by healthcare providers, and patients’ capacity to meet the demands of this workload. We link these issues to provider perspectives that interact with healthcare delivery and utilization.
Summary
Our proposed modification to the ICCC Framework makes clear that healthcare systems must work to make sense of the complex collision between biological phenomena, clinical interpretation, beliefs and behaviours that follow from these. We emphasize the integration of these issues with the socio-economic environment to address issues of complexity, access and equity in the integrated management of chronic diseases previously considered in isolation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-575
PMCID: PMC4071801  PMID: 24912531
Chronic disease; Epidemiological transition; Multi-morbidity
20.  Smoking Cessation for Patients With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 
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.
Objective
The objective of this evidence-based analysis was to determine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Tobacco smoking is the main risk factor for COPD. It is estimated that 50% of older smokers develop COPD and more than 80% of COPD-associated morbidity is attributed to tobacco smoking. According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 38.5% of Ontarians who smoke have COPD. In patients with a significant history of smoking, COPD is usually present with symptoms of progressive dyspnea (shortness of breath), cough, and sputum production. Patients with COPD who smoke have a particularly high level of nicotine dependence, and about 30.4% to 43% of patients with moderate to severe COPD continue to smoke. Despite the severe symptoms that COPD patients suffer, the majority of patients with COPD are unable to quit smoking on their own; each year only about 1% of smokers succeed in quitting on their own initiative.
Technology
Smoking cessation is the process of discontinuing the practice of inhaling a smoked substance. Smoking cessation can help to slow or halt the progression of COPD. Smoking cessation programs mainly target tobacco smoking, but may also encompass other substances that can be difficult to stop smoking due to the development of strong physical addictions or psychological dependencies resulting from their habitual use.
Smoking cessation strategies include both pharmacological and nonpharmacological (behavioural or psychosocial) approaches. The basic components of smoking cessation interventions include simple advice, written self-help materials, individual and group behavioural support, telephone quit lines, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and antidepressants. As nicotine addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition that usually requires several attempts to overcome, cessation support is often tailored to individual needs, while recognizing that in general, the more intensive the support, the greater the chance of success. Success at quitting smoking decreases in relation to:
a lack of motivation to quit,
a history of smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 10 years,
a lack of social support, such as from family and friends, and
the presence of mental health disorders (such as depression).
Research Question
What are the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of smoking cessation interventions compared with usual care for patients with COPD?
Research Methods
Literature Search
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on June 24, 2010 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations (1950 to June Week 3 2010), EMBASE (1980 to 2010 Week 24), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination for studies published between 1950 and June 2010. A single reviewer reviewed the abstracts and obtained full-text articles for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Data were extracted using a standardized data abstraction form.
Inclusion Criteria
English-language, full reports from 1950 to week 3 of June, 2010;
either randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses, or non-RCTs with controls;
a proven diagnosis of COPD;
adult patients (≥ 18 years);
a smoking cessation intervention that comprised at least one of the treatment arms;
≥ 6 months’ abstinence as an outcome; and
patients followed for ≥ 6 months.
Exclusion Criteria
case reports
case series
Outcomes of Interest
≥ 6 months’ abstinence
Quality of Evidence
The quality of each included study was assessed taking into consideration allocation concealment, randomization, blinding, power/sample size, withdrawals/dropouts, and intention-to-treat analyses.
The quality of the body of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low, or very low according to the GRADE Working Group criteria. The following definitions of quality were used in grading the quality of the evidence:
Summary of Findings
Nine RCTs were identified from the literature search. The sample sizes ranged from 74 to 5,887 participants. A total of 8,291 participants were included in the nine studies. The mean age of the patients in the studies ranged from 54 to 64 years. The majority of studies used the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) COPD staging criteria to stage the disease in study subjects. Studies included patients with mild COPD (2 studies), mild-moderate COPD (3 studies), moderate–severe COPD (1 study) and severe–very severe COPD (1 study). One study included persons at risk of COPD in addition to those with mild, moderate, or severe COPD, and 1 study did not define the stages of COPD. The individual quality of the studies was high. Smoking cessation interventions varied across studies and included counselling or pharmacotherapy or a combination of both. Two studies were delivered in a hospital setting, whereas the remaining 7 studies were delivered in an outpatient setting. All studies reported a usual care group or a placebo-controlled group (for the drug-only trials). The follow-up periods ranged from 6 months to 5 years. Due to excessive clinical heterogeneity in the interventions, studies were first grouped into categories of similar interventions; statistical pooling was subsequently performed, where appropriate. When possible, pooled estimates using relative risks for abstinence rates with 95% confidence intervals were calculated. The remaining studies were reported separately.
Abstinence Rates
Table ES1 provides a summary of the pooled estimates for abstinence, at longest follow-up, from the trials included in this review. It also shows the respective GRADE qualities of evidence.
Summary of Results*
Abbreviations: CI, confidence interval; NRT, nicotine replacement therapy.
Statistically significant (P < 0.05).
One trial used in this comparison had 2 treatment arms each examining a different antidepressant.
Conclusions
Based on a moderate quality of evidence, compared with usual care, abstinence rates are significantly higher in COPD patients receiving intensive counselling or a combination of intensive counselling and NRT.
Based on limited and moderate quality of evidence, abstinence rates are significantly higher in COPD patients receiving NRT compared with placebo.
Based on a moderate quality of evidence, abstinence rates are significantly higher in COPD patients receiving the antidepressant bupropion compared to placebo.
PMCID: PMC3384371  PMID: 23074432
21.  Consultation length in general practice: cross sectional study in six European countries 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7362):472.
Objectives
To compare determinants of consultation length discussed in the literature with those found in consultations with general practitioners from different European countries; to explore the determinants of consultation length, particularly the effect of doctors' and patients' perceptions of psychosocial aspects.
Design
Analysis of videotaped consultations of general practitioners from the Eurocommunication study and of questionnaires completed by doctors and by patients.
Setting
General practices in six European countries.
Participants
190 general practitioners and 3674 patients.
Results
In a multilevel analysis with three levels (country, general practitioner, and patient), country and doctor variables contributed a similar amount to the total variance in consultation length (23% and 22%, respectively) and patient variables accounted for 55% of the variance. The variables used in the multilevel analysis explained 25% of the total variation. The country in which the doctor practised, combined with the doctors' variables, was as important for the variance in consultation length as the variation between patients. Consultations in which psychosocial problems were considered important by the doctor and the patient lasted longer than consultations about biomedical problems only. The doctor's perception had more influence in this situation than the patient's. Consultation length is influenced by the patients' sex (women got longer consultations), whether the practice was urban or rural, the number of new problems discussed in the consultation (the more problems the longer the consultation), and the patient's age (the older the patient the longer the consultation). As a doctor's workload increased, the length of consultations decreased. The general practitioner's sex or age and patient's level of education were not related to the length of consultation.
Conclusion
Consultation length is determined by variables related to the doctor and the doctor's country as well as by those related to patients. Women consulting in an urban practice with problems perceived as psychosocial have longer consultations than other patients.
What is already known on this topicPatients are satisfied with care from general practice but often say that consultations are too shortStudies have investigated the determinants of consultation length, but different studies use different methods to determine the exact length of consultationDeterminants identified by studies in one country cannot be extrapolated to those in anotherWhat this study addsConsultation length varies from country to countryCharacteristics of patients have as much effect on consultation length as the characteristics of countries and doctors combinedConsultations are longest for women patients seeing general practitioners in urban practices about problems that doctor and patient perceive as psychosocial
PMCID: PMC119444  PMID: 12202329
22.  The workload of GPs: consultations of patients with psychological and somatic problems compared 
Background
GPs report that patients' psychosocial problems play a part in 20% of all consultations. GPs state that these consultations are more time-consuming and the perceived burden on the GP is higher.
Aim
To investigate whether GPs' workload in consultations is related to psychological or social problems of patients.
Design of study
A cross-sectional national survey in general practice, conducted in the Netherlands from 2000–2002.
Setting
One hundred and four general practices in the Netherlands.
Method
Videotaped consultations (n = 1392) of a representative sample of 142 GPs were used. Consultations were categorised in three groups: consultations with a diagnosis in the International Classification of Primary Care chapter P 'psychological' or Z 'social' (n = 138), a somatic diagnosis but with a psychological background according to the GP (n = 309), or a somatic diagnosis and background (n = 945). Workload measures were consultation length, number of diagnoses and GPs' assessment of sufficiency of patient time.
Results
Consultations in which patients' mental health problems play a part (as a diagnosis or in the background) take more time and involve more diagnoses, and the GP is more heavily burdened with feelings of insufficiency of patient time. In consultations with a somatic diagnosis but psychological background, GPs more often experienced a lack of time compared to consultations with a psychological or social diagnosis.
Conclusion
Consultations in which the GP notices psychosocial problems make heavier demands on the GP's workload than other consultations. Patients' somatic problems that have a psychological background induce the highest perceived burden on the GP.
PMCID: PMC1463219  PMID: 16105369
general practice; mental health; referral and consultation; time factors; workload
23.  Could the patient have been seen by a nurse; a questionnaire based survey of GP and patient views in Danish general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:171.
Background
Nurses in Denmark have been increasingly involved in general practice care, which may have implications for the role of the general practitioner (GP) and patients’ experience of primary care. The aim of this study was to explore possibilities of doctor-nurse substitution seen from GP and patient perspectives and patient preferences in regard to consultations with a personal GP.
Methods
The study was based on data from a Danish survey on disease patterns in general practice (KOS 2008). Background information on patients and GPs was linked with their responses to whether a nurse could have substituted the GP in consultations and patient-assessed importance of seeing a personal GP. Associations were measured with prevalence rate ratio (PR).
Results
Doctor-nurse substitution was a possibility in 14.8% of consultations according to GPs and in 11.7% according to patients. GP and patient agreed on substitution in 3.5% of consultations (Kappa = 0.164). Follow-up consultations were more often feasible for substitution than new episode according to GPs (adj. PR = 2.06 (1.62-2.62)), but not according to patients (adj. PR = 1.02 (0.64-1.33)). Follow-up consultations were related to high importance of seeing the personal GP (adj. PR = 1.18 (1.05-1.33). For both patients and GPs, consultations with patients with chronic conditions were not significantly associated with nurse substitution. Male and younger patients did more often suggest substitution than women and older patients. For GPs, increasing patient age was associated with relevance of substitution. Patients who found it 'very important’ to see their personal GP were less likely to consider nurse substitution a possibility (adj. PR = 0.57 (0.45-0.71).
Conclusions
GPs and patients found nurse substitution relevant in more than one in ten consultations, although they rarely agreed on which consultations. Follow-up consultations and consultations with older patients were associated with GPs considering nurse substitution appropriate more often. For patients, male and younger patients most often found substitution relevant. High importance of seeing the personal GP may contribute to patient reluctance to nurse substitution, especially for follow-up consultations. The results indicate a need for involving patients’ perspective when altering the future roles of primary health care professionals.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-171
PMCID: PMC3835405  PMID: 24225183
Denmark; General practice; Doctor-nurse substitution; Patients’ perspective; Chronic conditions; Follow-up consultations; Health service delivery; Patient-doctor-relationship
24.  Multimorbidity is common to family practice 
Canadian Family Physician  2005;51(2):245.
OBJECTIVE
Family physicians often have to care for patients with several concurrent chronic conditions (multimorbidity or comorbidity). Consequently, they need to inform themselves by reading indexed publications on multimorbidity. This study aimed to assess how well the concept of multimorbidity was covered in the medical literature. Objectives were first, to quantify the literature on multimorbidity (or comorbidity) and to compare the number of publications on it with the number of publications on three common chronic conditions (asthma, hypertension, and diabetes), and second, to describe the articles on multimorbidity.
DESIGN
Bibliometric study.
METHOD
We consulted MEDLINE for the reference period 1990 to the end of 2002. The term “multimorbidity” and its various spellings was used as the search term. Comorbidity, asthma, hypertension, and diabetes were searched for using their respective MeSH terms. For comparison purposes, prevalence data were taken from published sources. Abstracts of articles relating to multimorbidity were reviewed and their content analyzed.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Number and type of articles.
RESULTS
Multimorbidity has a prevalence of 60% among people aged 55 to 74. This prevalence is much higher than that of asthma (6.5%), hypertension (29.6%), and diabetes (8.7%). Few articles in the medical literature deal specifically with multimorbidity (or comorbidity), however. For each article on multimorbidity, there are 74 on asthma, 94 on hypertension, and 38 on diabetes. Content analysis of abstracts of articles on multimorbidity revealed a high proportion of epidemiologic studies (50.0%) followed by validation studies (22.4%) and opinion pieces (11.8%). The few experimental studies on multimorbidity were not done in primary care settings.
CONCLUSION
This study shows that the prevalence of multimorbidity is not matched by the number of indexed publications on it in the medical literature. To date, the number and diversity of articles on multimorbidity are both insufficient to provide scientific background for strong evidence-based care of patients affected by multiple concurrent chronic conditions. Research is needed to increase knowledge and understanding of this important clinical topic.
PMCID: PMC1472978  PMID: 16926936
25.  Comparing measures of multimorbidity to predict outcomes in primary care: a cross sectional study 
Family Practice  2012;30(2):172-178.
Background.
An increasing proportion of people are living with multiple health conditions, or ‘multimorbidity’. Measures of multimorbidity are useful in studies of interventions in primary care to take account of confounding due to differences in case-mix.
Objectives.
Assess the predictive validity of commonly used measures of multimorbidity in relation to a health outcome (mortality) and a measure of health service utilization (consultation rate).
Methods.
We included 95372 patients registered on 1 April 2005 at 174 English general practices included in the General Practice Research Database. Using regression models we compared the explanatory power of six measures of multimorbidity: count of chronic diseases from the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF); Charlson index; count of prescribed drugs; three measures from the John Hopkins ACG software [Expanded Diagnosis Clusters count (EDCs), Adjusted Clinical Groups (ACGs), Resource Utilisation Bands (RUBs)].
Results.
A model containing demographics and GP practice alone explained 22% of the uncertainty in consultation rates. The number of prescribed drugs, ACG category, EDC count, RUB category, QOF disease count, or Charlson index increased this to 42%, 37%, 36%, 35%, 30%, and 26%, respectively. Measures of multimorbidity made little difference to the fit of a model predicting 3-year mortality. Nonetheless, Charlson index score was the best performing measure, followed by the number of prescribed drugs.
Conclusion.
The number of prescribed drugs is the most powerful measure for predicting future consultations and the second most powerful measure for predicting mortality. It may have potential as a simple proxy measure of multimorbidity in primary care.
doi:10.1093/fampra/cms060
PMCID: PMC3604888  PMID: 23045354
Comorbidity; family practice; mortality; outcome assessment–health care; risk adjustment.

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