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1.  GP recruitment and retention: a qualitative analysis of doctors' comments about training for and working in general practice. 
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: General practice in the UK is experiencing difficulty with medical staff recruitment and retention, with reduced numbers choosing careers in general practice or entering principalships, and increases in less-than-full-time working, career breaks, early retirement and locum employment. Information is scarce about the reasons for these changes and factors that could increase recruitment and retention. The UK Medical Careers Research Group (UKMCRG) regularly surveys cohorts of UK medical graduates to determine their career choices and progression. We also invite written comments from respondents about their careers and the factors that influence them. Most respondents report high levels of job satisfaction. A noteworthy minority, however, make critical comments about general practice. Although their views may not represent those of all general practitioners (GPs), they nonetheless indicate a range of concerns that deserve to be understood. This paper reports on respondents' comments about general practice. ANALYSIS OF DOCTORS' COMMENTS: Training Greater exposure to general practice at undergraduate level could help to promote general practice careers and better inform career decisions. Postgraduate general practice training in hospital-based posts was seen as poor quality, irrelevant and run as if it were of secondary importance to service commitments. In contrast, general practice-based postgraduate training was widely praised for good formal teaching that met educational needs. The quality of vocational training was dependent upon the skills and enthusiasm of individual trainers. Recruitment problems Perceived deterrents to choosing general practice were its portrayal, by some hospital-based teachers, as a second class career compared to hospital medicine, and a perception of low morale amongst current GPs. The choice of a career in general practice was commonly made for lifestyle reasons rather than professional aspirations. Some GPs had encountered difficulties in obtaining posts in general practice suited to their needs, while others perceived discrimination. Newly qualified GPs often sought work as non-principals because they felt too inexperienced for partnership or because their domestic situation prevented them from settling in a particular area. Changes to general practice The 1990 National Health Service (NHS) reforms were largely viewed unfavourably, partly because they had led to a substantial increase in GPs' workloads that was compounded by growing public expectations, and partly because the two-tier system of fund-holding was considered unfair. Fund-holding and, more recently, GP commissioning threatened the GP's role as patient advocate by shifting the responsibility for rationing of health care from government to GPs. Some concerns were also expressed about the introduction of primary care groups (PCGs) and trusts (PCTs). Together, increased workload and the continual process of change had, for some, resulted in work-related stress, low morale, reduced job satisfaction and quality of life. These problems had been partially alleviated by the formation of GP co-operatives. Retention difficulties Loss of GPs' time from the NHS workforce occurs in four ways: reduced working hours, temporary career breaks, leaving the NHS to work elsewhere and early retirement. Child rearing and a desire to pursue interests outside medicine were cited as reasons for seeking shorter working hours or career breaks. A desire to reduce pressure of work was a common reason for seeking shorter working hours, taking career breaks, early retirement or leaving NHS general practice. Other reasons for leaving NHS general practice, temporarily or permanently, were difficulty in finding a GP post suited to individual needs and a desire to work abroad. CONCLUSIONS: A cultural change amongst medical educationalists is needed to promote general practice as a career choice that is equally attractive as hospital practice. The introduction of Pre-Registration House Officer (PRHO) placements in general practice and improved flexibility of GP vocational training schemes, together with plans to improve the quality of Senior House Officer (SHO) training in the future, are welcome developments and should address some of the concerns about poor quality GP training raised by our respondents. The reluctance of newly qualified GPs to enter principalships, and the increasing demand from experienced GPs for less-than-full-time work, indicates a need for a greater variety of contractual arrangements to reflect doctors' desires for more flexible patterns of working in general practice.
PMCID: PMC2560447  PMID: 12049026
2.  Cloak and DAG: A Response to the Comments on our Comment 
NeuroImage  2011;76:446-449.
Our original comment (Lindquist and Sobel 2011) made explicit the types of assumptions neuroimaging researchers are making when directed graphical models (DGM’s), which include certain types of structural equation models (SEM’s), are used to estimate causal effects. When these assumptions, which many researchers are not aware of, are not met, parameters of these models should not be interpreted as effects. Thus it is imperative that neuroimaging researchers interested in issues involving causation, for example, effective connectivity, consider the plausibility of these assumptions for their particular problem before using SEM’s. In cases where these additional assumptions are not met, researchers may be able to use other methods and/or design experimental studies where the use of unrealistic assumptions can be avoided. Pearl does not disagree with anything we stated. However, he takes exception to our use of potential outcomes notation, which is the standard notation used in the statistical literature on causal inference, and his comment is devoted to promoting his alternative conventions. Glymour’s comment is based on three claims that he inappropriately attributes to us. Glymour is also more optimistic than us about the potential of using directed graphical models (DGM’s) to discover causal relations in neuroimaging research; we briefly address this issue toward the end of our rejoinder.
PMCID: PMC4121662  PMID: 22119004
3.  No departure to "Pandora"? Using critical phenomenology to differentiate "naive" from "reflective" experience in psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine (A comment on Schwartz and Wiggins, 2010) 
The mind-body problem lies at the heart of the clinical practice of both psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine. In their recent publication, Schwartz and Wiggins address the question of how to understand life as central to the mind-body problem. Drawing on their own use of the phenomenological method, we propose that the mind-body problem is not resolved by a general, evocative appeal to an all encompassing life-concept, but rather falters precisely at the insurmountable difference between "natural" and a "reflective" experience built into phenomenological method itself. Drawing on the works of phenomenologically oriented thinkers, we describe life as inherently "teleological" without collapsing life with our subjective perspective, or stepping over our epistemological limits. From the phenomenology it can be demonstrated that the hypothetical teleological qualities are a reflective reconstruction modelled on human behavioural structure.
PMCID: PMC2984418  PMID: 21040525
4.  Reinterpreting Ethnic Patterns among White and African American Men Who Inject Heroin: A Social Science of Medicine Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e452.
Street-based heroin injectors represent an especially vulnerable population group subject to negative health outcomes and social stigma. Effective clinical treatment and public health intervention for this population requires an understanding of their cultural environment and experiences. Social science theory and methods offer tools to understand the reasons for economic and ethnic disparities that cause individual suffering and stress at the institutional level.
Methods and Findings
We used a cross-methodological approach that incorporated quantitative, clinical, and ethnographic data collected by two contemporaneous long-term San Francisco studies, one epidemiological and one ethnographic, to explore the impact of ethnicity on street-based heroin-injecting men 45 years of age or older who were self-identified as either African American or white. We triangulated our ethnographic findings by statistically examining 14 relevant epidemiological variables stratified by median age and ethnicity. We observed significant differences in social practices between self-identified African Americans and whites in our ethnographic social network sample with respect to patterns of (1) drug consumption; (2) income generation; (3) social and institutional relationships; and (4) personal health and hygiene. African Americans and whites tended to experience different structural relationships to their shared condition of addiction and poverty. Specifically, this generation of San Francisco injectors grew up as the children of poor rural to urban immigrants in an era (the late 1960s through 1970s) when industrial jobs disappeared and heroin became fashionable. This was also when violent segregated inner city youth gangs proliferated and the federal government initiated its “War on Drugs.” African Americans had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families. Most of the whites were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime. These historical-structural conditions generated distinct presentations of self. Whites styled themselves as outcasts, defeated by addiction. They professed to be injecting heroin to stave off “dopesickness” rather than to seek pleasure. African Americans, in contrast, cast their physical addiction as an oppositional pursuit of autonomy and pleasure. They considered themselves to be professional outlaws and rejected any appearance of abjection. Many, but not all, of these ethnographic findings were corroborated by our epidemiological data, highlighting the variability of behaviors within ethnic categories.
Bringing quantitative and qualitative methodologies and perspectives into a collaborative dialog among cross-disciplinary researchers highlights the fact that clinical practice must go beyond simple racial or cultural categories. A clinical social science approach provides insights into how sociocultural processes are mediated by historically rooted and institutionally enforced power relations. Recognizing the logical underpinnings of ethnically specific behavioral patterns of street-based injectors is the foundation for cultural competence and for successful clinical relationships. It reduces the risk of suboptimal medical care for an exceptionally vulnerable and challenging patient population. Social science approaches can also help explain larger-scale patterns of health disparities; inform new approaches to structural and institutional-level public health initiatives; and enable clinicians to take more leadership in changing public policies that have negative health consequences.
Bourgois and colleagues found that the African American and white men in their study had a different pattern of drug use and risk behaviors, adopted different strategies for survival, and had different personal histories.
Editors' Summary
There are stark differences in the health of different ethnic groups in America. For example, the life expectancy for white men is 75.4 years, but it is only 69.2 years for African-American men. The reasons behind these disparities are unclear, though there are several possible explanations. Perhaps, for example, different ethnic groups are treated differently by health professionals (with some groups receiving poorer quality health care). Or maybe the health disparities are due to differences across ethnic groups in income level (we know that richer people are healthier). These disparities are likely to persist unless we gain a better understanding of how they arise.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to study the health of a very vulnerable community of people: heroin users living on the streets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The health status of this community is extremely poor, and its members are highly stigmatized—including by health professionals themselves. The researchers wanted to know whether African American men and white men who live on the streets have a different pattern of drug use, whether they adopt varying strategies for survival, and whether they have different personal histories. Knowledge of such differences would help the health community to provide more tailored and culturally appropriate interventions. Physicians, nurses, and social workers often treat street-based drug users, especially in emergency rooms and free clinics. These health professionals regularly report that their interactions with street-based drug users are frustrating and confrontational. The researchers hoped that their study would help these professionals to have a better understanding of the cultural backgrounds and motivations of their drug-using patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Over the course of six years, the researchers directly observed about 70 men living on the streets who injected heroin as they went about their usual lives (this type of research is called “participant observation”). The researchers specifically looked to see whether there were differences between the white and African American men. All the men gave their consent to be studied in this way and to be photographed. The researchers also studied a database of interviews with almost 7,000 injection drug users conducted over five years, drawing out the data on differences between white and African men. The researchers found that the white men were more likely to supplement their heroin use with inexpensive fortified wine, while African American men were more likely to supplement heroin with crack. Most of the white men were expelled from their families when they began engaging in drug-related crime, and these men tended to consider themselves as destitute outcasts. African American men had earlier and more negative contact with law enforcement but maintained long-term ties with their extended families, and these men tended to consider themselves as professional outlaws. The white men persevered less in attempting to find a vein in which to inject heroin, and so were more likely to inject the drug directly under the skin—this meant that they were more likely to suffer from skin abscesses. The white men generated most of their income from panhandling (begging for money), while the African American men generated most of their income through petty crime and/or through offering services such as washing car windows at gas stations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Among street-based heroin users, there are important differences between white men and African American men in the type of drugs used, the method of drug use, their social backgrounds, the way in which they identify themselves, and the health risks that they take. By understanding these differences, health professionals should be better placed to provide tailored and appropriate care when these men present to clinics and emergency rooms. As the researchers say, “understanding of different ethnic populations of drug injectors may reduce difficult clinical interactions and resultant physician frustration while improving patient access and adherence to care.” One limitation of this study is that the researchers studied one specific community in one particular area of the US—so we should not assume that their findings would apply to street-based heroin users elsewhere.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a web page on HIV prevention among injection drug users
The World Health Organization has collected documents on reducing the risk of HIV in injection drug users and on harm reduction approaches
The International Harm Reduction Association has information relevant to a global audience on reducing drug-related harm among individuals and communities
US-focused information on harm reduction is available via the websites of the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Chicago Recovery Alliance
Canada-focused information can be found at the Street Works Web site
The Harm Reduction Journal publishes open-access articles
The CDC has a web page on eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities
The Drug Policy Alliance has a web page on drug policy in the United States
PMCID: PMC1621100  PMID: 17076569
5.  Multiple health behavior change: a synopsis and comment on “A review of multiple health behavior change interventions for primary prevention” 
The ninth column on Evidence-Based Behavioral Medicine is a synthesis of a recent systematic meta-review of multiple health behavior change (MHBC) interventions published by Prochaska and Prochaska in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (Am J Life Med 5:208–221, 2011). Health risk behaviors are highly prevalent and increase the risk of developing and exacerbating chronic disease. The purpose of the meta-review was to examine the efficacy of MHBC interventions in a variety of populations and settings. The available literature was synthesized into three health behavior domains including energy-balance behaviors (physical activity and nutrition), addictive behaviors, and disease-related prevention. Twelve systematic reviews were identified that summarized more than 150 randomized clinical trials. Findings suggest that: (1) Physical activity and nutrition interventions are effective in producing weight loss among adults and female youth, (2) treating two addictive behaviors produces a higher long-term abstinence rate than treating a single behavior, and (3) although preventive interventions for cardiovascular disease and cancer significantly reduce health risk behaviors, reductions in disease incidence are yet to be demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC3717998
Multiple risk; Behavior change; Risk behavior; Lifestyle change; Primary prevention
6.  Comparison Between Family Function Dimensions and Quality of Life Among Amphetamine Addicts and Non- Addicts 
One of the most important factors in drug abuse and drug avoidance is family and its function.
This study aimed to compare family function and quality of life dimensions among Amphetamine addicts and non-addicts.
Materials and Methods
The current study is a case-control, which assessed 95 Iranian addicts and 95 non-addicts. Sampling method in the addicts group was random clustering. The non-addicts were selected from accompanied addicts in other centers with respect to the demographic characteristics. The instruments were Family Assessment and Quality of Life (SF-36) scales. SPSS software version 11.5 was used for statistical analysis and Pearson’s correlation coefficient, stepwise regression analysis, and independent samples t-test were conducted.
The study revealed that some disorders in family function dimensions were higher in the addicts compared to non-addicts. Addicts have a quality of life lower than non-addicts (P < 0.05). There was a relationship between different dimensions of family function and the quality of life in both the addicts and non-addicts (P < 0.05). Regression analysis showed that roles dimensions and family function could roughly account for 17% of the changes in the addicts’ quality of life while in the non-addicts, behavioral control dimension of family function could account for roughly 17% of the changes in their quality of life.
Regarding the study findings, there was a significant difference between family function dimensions and quality of life among addicts and non-addicts.
PMCID: PMC3785914  PMID: 24083013
Employee Performance Appraisal; Quality of Life; Behavior, Addictive; Amphetamine
7.  Withdrawal of inhaled corticosteroids in individuals with COPD - a systematic review and comment on trial methodology 
Respiratory Research  2011;12(1):107.
Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) reduce COPD exacerbation frequency and slow decline in health related quality of life but have little effect on lung function, do not reduce mortality, and increase the risk of pneumonia. We systematically reviewed trials in which ICS have been withdrawn from patients with COPD, with the aim of determining the effect of withdrawal, understanding the differing results between trials, and making recommendations for improving methodology in future trials where medication is withdrawn. Trials were identified by two independent reviewers using MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL, citations of identified studies were checked, and experts contacted to identify further studies. Data extraction was completed independently by two reviewers. The methodological quality of each trial was determined by assessing possible sources of systematic bias as recommended by the Cochrane collaboration. We included four trials; the quality of three was adequate. In all trials, outcomes were generally worse for patients who had had ICS withdrawn, but differences between outcomes for these patients and patients who continued with medication were mostly small and not statistically significant. Due to data paucity we performed only one meta-analysis; this indicated that patients who had had medication withdrawn were 1.11 (95% CI 0.84 to 1.46) times more likely to have an exacerbation in the following year, but the definition of exacerbations was not consistent between the three trials, and the impact of withdrawal was smaller in recent trials which were also trials conducted under conditions that reflected routine practice. There is no evidence from this review that withdrawing ICS in routine practice results in important deterioration in patient outcomes. Furthermore, the extent of increase in exacerbations depends on the way exacerbations are defined and managed and may depend on the use of other medication. In trials where medication is withdrawn, investigators should report other medication use, definitions of exacerbations and management of patients clearly. Intention to treat analyses should be used and interpreted appropriately.
PMCID: PMC3185272  PMID: 21838890
8.  Some Comments on Mapping from Disease-Specific to Generic Health-Related Quality-of-Life Scales 
An article by Lu et al. in this issue of Value in Health addresses the mapping of treatment or group differences in disease-specific measures (DSMs) of health-related quality of life onto differences in generic health-related quality-of-life scores, with special emphasis on how the mapping is affected by the reliability of the DSM. In the proposed mapping, a factor analytic model defines a conversion factor between the scores as the ratio of factor loadings. Hence, the mapping applies to convert true underlying scales and has desirable properties facilitating the alignment of instruments and understanding their relationship in a coherent manner. It is important to note, however, that when DSM means or differences in mean DSMs are estimated, their mapping is still of a measurement error–prone predictor, and the correct conversion coefficient is the true mapping multiplied by the reliability of the DSM in the relevant sample. In addition, the proposed strategy for estimating the factor analytic mapping in practice requires assumptions that may not hold. We discuss these assumptions and how they may be the reason we obtain disparate estimates of the mapping factor in an application of the proposed methods to groups of patients.
PMCID: PMC3658313  PMID: 23337233
cross-walk; HRQOL; mapping; reliability
9.  Consent, competency and ECT: a philosopher's comment. 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1983;9(3):144-145.
By way of comment, I suggest: 1) That the definitions of 'competence' and 'rationality' require some modification. 2) That Professor Sherlock is right to argue that a competent but irrational decision to refuse beneficial treatment ought to be overruled; but in practice it is extremely difficult to be sufficiently sure that the decision is really irrational and the treatment really will be beneficial, except when the patient's life is in danger or he is refusing basic necessities. 3) That in practice the issue is further complicated by such questions as whether there are alternative treatments, whether persuasion is possible, what the doctor's or institution's legal obligations are, and what resources are available. 4) That the presumption should be against coercion, and the patient--however irritating this may be to some doctors--should be considered 'rational until proved irrational'.
PMCID: PMC1059321  PMID: 6620318
10.  Quality care process in the VA: a synopsis and comment on “Comparison of the quality of medical care in veterans affairs and non-veterans affairs settings” 
The fourth column on Evidence-Based Behavioral Medicine presents a synopsis of the systematic review by Trivedi et al. (2011) comparing the quality of medical care in veterans affairs (VA) and non-VA settings. Thirty-six studies were included in the synthesis. Each article was given a grade of A, B, or C based on the six elements of high-quality studies. Most studies assessing adherence to recommended processes of care showed that the VA performed better that non-VA sites. Similar rates were found for both groups in studies that assessed risk-adjusted mortality. This implies that a greater adherence to evidence-based processes (e.g., preventive care, medication prescription, and referral) did not result in decreased morbidity and mortality. It is established that engaging in evidence-based practices and processes improves short-term intermediate endpoints (e.g., patient satisfaction). Future research is needed to test whether short-term benefits of evidence-based care processes connect to mortality outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3717672  PMID: 24073072
Evidence-based practice; Care processes; Quality of care; Outcomes; Research-to-practice translation
11.  Evidence-informed decision-making by professionals working in addiction agencies serving women: a descriptive qualitative study 
Effective approaches to the prevention and treatment of substance abuse among mothers have been developed but not widely implemented. Implementation studies suggest that the adoption of evidence-based practices in the field of addictions remains low. There is a need, therefore, to better understand decision making processes in addiction agencies in order to develop more effective approaches to promote the translation of knowledge gained from addictions research into clinical practice.
A descriptive qualitative study was conducted to explore: 1) the types and sources of evidence used to inform practice-related decisions within Canadian addiction agencies serving women; 2) how decision makers at different levels report using research evidence; and 3) factors that influence evidence-informed decision making. A purposeful sample of 26 decision-makers providing addiction treatment services to women completed in-depth qualitative interviews. Interview data were coded and analyzed using directed and summative content analysis strategies as well as constant comparison techniques.
Across all groups, individuals reported locating and using multiple types of evidence to inform decisions. Some decision-makers rely on their experiential knowledge of addiction and recovery in decision-making. Research evidence is often used directly in decision-making at program management and senior administrative levels. Information for decision-making is accessed from a range of sources, including web-based resources and experts in the field. Individual and organizational facilitators and barriers to using research evidence in decision making were identified.
There is support at administrative levels for integrating EIDM in addiction agencies. Knowledge transfer and exchange strategies should be focussed towards program managers and administrators and include capacity building for locating, appraising and using research evidence, knowledge brokering, and for partnering with universities. Resources are required to maintain web-based databases of searchable evidence to facilitate access to research evidence. A need exists to address the perception that there is a paucity of research evidence available to inform program decisions. Finally, there is a need to consider how experiential knowledge influences decision-making and what guidance research evidence has to offer regarding the implementation of different treatment approaches within the field of addictions.
PMCID: PMC3224771  PMID: 22059528
Substance use; knowledge translation; evidence-informed decision-making; research utilization
12.  Quality, Rigour and Usefulness of Free-Text Comments Collected by a Large Population Based Longitudinal Study - ALSWH 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68832.
While it is common practice for health surveys to include an open-ended question asking for additional comments, the responses to these questions are often not analysed or used by researchers as data. The current project employed an automated semantic program to assess the useability and thematic content of the responses to an open-ended free response item included in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) surveys. The study examined the comments of three cohorts of women, born between 1973–78, 1946–51, and 1921–26, from Survey 1 (in 1996) and Survey 5 (in 2007–2009). Findings revealed important differences in the health status of responders compared to non-responders. Across all three cohorts, and at both time points, women who commented tended to have poorer physical health (except for women aged 82–87) and social functioning, experienced more life events, were less likely to be partnered, and (except for women aged 18–23 years) more likely to have higher levels of education, than women who did not comment. Results for mental health were mixed. The analysis revealed differences between cohorts as well as changes over time. The most common themes to emerge for the 1973–78 cohort were health, time, pregnant and work, for the 1946–51 cohort, the most common themes were health, life, time and work, while for the 1921–26 cohort, the most common themes were husband, health and family. The concepts and frequency of concepts changed from the first to the fifth survey. For women in the 1973–78 cohort, pregnant emerged as a prevalent theme, while eating disappeared. Among women in the 1946–51 cohort, cancer, operation and medication emerged as prevalent themes, while for women in the 1921–26 cohort, the concept children disappeared, while family emerged. This analysis suggests that free-text comments are a valuable data source, suitable for content, thematic and narrative analysis, particularly when collected over time.
PMCID: PMC3708890  PMID: 23874784
13.  "Any other comments?" Open questions on questionnaires – a bane or a bonus to research? 
The habitual "any other comments" general open question at the end of structured questionnaires has the potential to increase response rates, elaborate responses to closed questions, and allow respondents to identify new issues not captured in the closed questions. However, we believe that many researchers have collected such data and failed to analyse or present it.
General open questions at the end of structured questionnaires can present a problem because of their uncomfortable status of being strictly neither qualitative nor quantitative data, the consequent lack of clarity around how to analyse and report them, and the time and expertise needed to do so. We suggest that the value of these questions can be optimised if researchers start with a clear understanding of the type of data they wish to generate from such a question, and employ an appropriate strategy when designing the study. The intention can be to generate depth data or 'stories' from purposively defined groups of respondents for qualitative analysis, or to produce quantifiable data, representative of the population sampled, as a 'safety net' to identify issues which might complement the closed questions.
We encourage researchers to consider developing a more strategic use of general open questions at the end of structured questionnaires. This may optimise the quality of the data and the analysis, reduce dilemmas regarding whether and how to analyse such data, and result in a more ethical approach to making best use of the data which respondents kindly provide.
PMCID: PMC533875  PMID: 15533249
14.  A nationwide survey on the expectation of public healthcare providers on family medicine specialists in Malaysia—a qualitative analysis of 623 written comments 
BMJ Open  2014;4(6):e004645.
To examine the expectation of public healthcare providers/professionals (PHCPs) who are working closely with family medicine specialists (FMSs) at public health clinics.
Cross-sectional study.
This study is part of a larger national study on the perception of the Malaysian public healthcare professionals on FMSs.
PHCPs from three categories of health facilities, namely hospitals, health clinics and health offices.
Main outcome measures
Qualitative analysis of written comments of respondents’ expectation of FMSs.
The participants’ response rate was 58% (780/1345) with an almost equal proportion from each public healthcare facility. We identified 21 subthemes for the 623 expectation comments. The six emerging themes are (1) need for more FMSs, (2) clinical roles and functions of FMSs, (3) administrative roles of FMSs, (4) contribution to community and public health, (5) attributes improvement and (6) research and audits. FMSs were expected to give attention to clinical duty. Delivering this responsibility with competence included having the latest medical knowledge in their own and others’ medical disciplines, practising evidence-based medicine in prehospital and posthospital care, better supervision of staff and doctors under their care, fostering effective teamwork, communicating more often with hospital specialists and making appropriate referral. Expectations ranged from definite and strong for more FMSs at the health clinics to low expectation for FMSs’ involvement in research; to mal-expectation on FMSs’ involvement in community and public health programmes.
There were some remarkable differences in expectations on FMSs from the three different PHCPs. These ranged from being clinically competent and administratively available for patients and staff at the health clinics, to mal-expectations on FMSs to engage in public health affairs. Relevant parties, including FMSs themselves, could take appropriate self-improvement initiatives to enhance public practice of family medicine and patient care.
Trial registration number
NMRR ID: 08-12-1167.
PMCID: PMC4067837  PMID: 24919639
Primary Care; Qualitative Research; Medical Education & Training
15.  “Who writes what?” Using written comments in team-based assessment to better understand medical student performance: a mixed-methods study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:123.
Observation of the performance of medical students in the clinical environment is a key part of assessment and learning. To date, few authors have examined written comments provided to students and considered what aspects of observed performance they represent. The aim of this study was to examine the quantity and quality of written comments provided to medical students by different assessors using a team-based model of assessment, and to determine the aspects of medical student performance on which different assessors provide comments.
Medical students on a 7-week General Surgery & Anesthesiology clerkship received written comments on ‘Areas of Excellence’ and ‘Areas for Improvement’ from physicians, residents, nurses, patients, peers and administrators. Mixed-methods were used to analyze the quality and quantity of comments provided and to generate a conceptual framework of observed student performance.
1,068 assessors and 127 peers provided 2,988 written comments for 127 students, a median of 188 words per student divided into 26 “Areas of Excellence” and 5 “Areas for Improvement”. Physicians provided the most comments (918), followed by patients (692) and peers (586); administrators provided the fewest (91). The conceptual framework generated contained four major domains: ‘Student as Physician-in-Training’, ‘Student as Learner’, ‘Student as Team Member’, and ‘Student as Person.’
A wide range of observed medical student performance is recorded in written comments provided by members of the surgical healthcare team. Different groups of assessors provide comments on different aspects of student performance, suggesting that comments provided from a single viewpoint may potentially under-represent or overlook some areas of student performance. We hope that the framework presented here can serve as a basis to better understand what medical students do every day, and how they are perceived by those with whom they work.
PMCID: PMC3558404  PMID: 23249445
Written comments; Undergraduate; Assessment; Medical students; Clerkship; Mixed-methods; Qualitative; Clinical performance; Team
16.  Comment: Applications of robotics in the clinical laboratory 
The implementation of a robotic workstation in the clinical laboratory involves considerations and compromises common to any instrument design and development activity. The trade-off between speed and flexibility not only affects the way the instrument interacts with human operators and other devices (the ‘real-world interface’), but also places limitations on the adaptation of chemistries to the given instrument. Mechanical optimization for speed and reproducibility places restrictions on the imprecision of consumables. Attempts to adapt a robot to a constrained system may entail compromises that either degrades the theoretically-attainable quality of results, or requires human interaction to compensate for physical or mechanical limitations. The general considerations of function and workflow, programming and support, and reliability place practical limits on the implementation of robotic workstations in the clinical laboratory.
PMCID: PMC2547824  PMID: 18925267
17.  Paucilymphoid non-keratinizing nasopharyngeal carcinoma with prominent stromal desmoplasia – an unusual case reported with brief comments on uncommon histological variants 
We present a case of de novo non-keratinizing carcinoma of the nasopharynx (NK-NPC) with an unusual combination of histological features; (1) a minimal associated component of reactive lymphoplasmacytic cells and (2) a prominent desmoplastic stromal response. Apart from the unusual histologic features, this case did not display any unusual clinical or radiological features. On immunohistochemistry the tumor cells were strongly positive for cy-tokeratins (AE1-3 and 5/6) and p63 and there was strong and diffuse nuclear positivity for EBV on in situ hybridization. Since no external factor could be attributed to the conspicuous paucity of associated lymphoid cells, we feel that this may be due to inherent features of the neoplasm itself. This case highlights the histomorphological variability of NK-NPC. Awareness of the histological spectrum of NK-NPC is important in clinical practice and this is not always adequately highlighted in currently used standard textbooks of head and neck pathology.
PMCID: PMC3093065  PMID: 21577326
Nasopharynx; carcinoma; fibrosis; fibroplasia; desmoplasia
18.  Comment: On the consequences of sexual selection for fisheries-induced evolution 
Evolutionary Applications  2008;1(4):645-649.
It is becoming increasingly recognized that fishing (and other forms of nonrandom harvesting) can have profound evolutionary consequences for life history traits. A recent and welcome publication provided the first description of how sexual selection might influence the outcome of fisheries-induced evolution (FIE). One of the main conclusions was that if sexual selection generates a positive relationship between body size and reproductive success, increased fishing pressure on large individuals causes stronger selection for smaller body size. Here, we re-evaluate the sexual selection interpretation of the relationship between body size and reproductive success, and suggest it may in fact be representative of a more general case of pure natural selection. The consequences of sexual selection on FIE are likely to be complicated and dynamic, and we provide additional perspectives to these new and exciting results. Selection differentials and trait variance are considered, with density-dependent and genetic effects on the strength and the direction of sexual selection given particular attention. We hope that our additional views on the role of sexual selection in FIE will encourage more theoretical and empirical work into this important application of evolutionary biology.
PMCID: PMC3352389
conservation; fisheries-induced evolution; natural selection; selection differentials; sexual selection
19.  Why pharmacokinetic differences among oral triptans have little clinical importance: a comment 
Triptans, selective 5-HT1B/1D receptor agonists, are specific drugs for the acute treatment of migraine that have the same mechanism of action. Here, it is discussed why the differences among kinetic parameters of oral triptans have proved not to be very important in clinical practice. There are three main reasons: (1) the differences among the kinetic parameters of oral triptans are smaller than what appears from their average values; (2) there is a large inter-subject, gender-dependent, and intra-subject (outside/during the attack) variability of kinetic parameters related to the rate and extent of absorption, i.e., those which are considered as critical for the response; (3) no dose-concentration–response curves have been defined and it is, therefore, impossible both to compare the kinetics of triptans, and to verify the objective importance of kinetic differences; (4) the importance of kinetic differences is outweighed by non-kinetic factors of variability of response to triptans. If no oral formulations are found that can allow more predictable pharmacokinetics, the same problems will probably also arise with new classes of drugs for the acute treatment of migraine.
PMCID: PMC3072488  PMID: 20878535
Acute treatment; Disposition; Headache; Pharmacokinetics; Triptan; Variability
20.  Why pharmacokinetic differences among oral triptans have little clinical importance: a comment 
Triptans, selective 5-HT1B/1D receptor agonists, are specific drugs for the acute treatment of migraine that have the same mechanism of action. Here, it is discussed why the differences among kinetic parameters of oral triptans have proved not to be very important in clinical practice. There are three main reasons: (1) the differences among the kinetic parameters of oral triptans are smaller than what appears from their average values; (2) there is a large inter-subject, gender-dependent, and intra-subject (outside/during the attack) variability of kinetic parameters related to the rate and extent of absorption, i.e., those which are considered as critical for the response; (3) no dose-concentration–response curves have been defined and it is, therefore, impossible both to compare the kinetics of triptans, and to verify the objective importance of kinetic differences; (4) the importance of kinetic differences is outweighed by non-kinetic factors of variability of response to triptans. If no oral formulations are found that can allow more predictable pharmacokinetics, the same problems will probably also arise with new classes of drugs for the acute treatment of migraine.
PMCID: PMC3072488  PMID: 20878535
Acute treatment; Disposition; Headache; Pharmacokinetics; Triptan; Variability
21.  Interpretative Commenting 
The Clinical Biochemist Reviews  2008;29(Suppl 1):S99-S103.
Clinical laboratories should be able to offer interpretation of the results they produce.At a minimum, contact details for interpretative advice should be available on laboratory reports.Interpretative comments may be verbal or written and printed.Printed comments on reports should be offered judiciously, only where they would add value; no comment preferred to inappropriate or dangerous comment.Interpretation should be based on locally agreed or nationally recognised clinical guidelines where available.Standard tied comments (“canned” comments) can have some limited use.Individualised narrative comments may be particularly useful in the case of tests that are new, complex or unfamiliar to the requesting clinicians and where clinical details are available.Interpretative commenting should only be provided by appropriately trained and credentialed personnel.Audit of comments and continued professional development of personnel providing them are important for quality assurance.
PMCID: PMC2556593  PMID: 18852867
22.  Is Depression “Evolutionary” or Just “Adaptive”? A Comment 
Some recent explanations of depression have suggested that it may be “evolutionary” in that there are advantages to the depressed individual which arise from some aspects of depressive symptomatology. While the depressive behaviour of withdrawal from the adverse environment may provide some immediate benefits to the depressed individual, thus making it potentially “adaptive” in the short-term, this does not fit the biological definition of “evolutionary”. In fact, depression does not meet two of the three required criteria from natural selection in order to be evolutionary. Therefore, while some depressive behaviour may be advantageous for the depressed individual, and is therefore “adaptive” in an immediate sense, it cannot be accurately described as “evolutionary”. Implications for research and clinical practice are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2989690  PMID: 21152220
23.  Measuring Addiction Propensity and Severity: The Need for a New Instrument 
Drug and alcohol dependence  2010;111(1-2):4-12.
Drug addiction research requires but lacks a valid and reliable way to measure both the risk (propensity) to develop addiction and the severity of manifest addiction. This paper argues for a new measurement approach and instrument to quantify propensity to and severity of addiction, based on the testable assumption that these constructs can be mapped onto the same dimension of liability to addiction. The case for this new direction becomes clear from a critical review of empirical data and the current instrumentation. The many assessment instruments in use today have proven utility, reliability, and validity, but they are of limited use for evaluating individual differences in propensity and severity. The conceptual and methodological shortcomings of instruments currently used in research and clinical practice can be overcome through the use of new technologies to develop a reliable, valid, and standardized assessment instrument(s) to measure and distinguish individual variations in expression of the underlying latent trait(s) that comprises propensity to and severity of drug addiction. Such instrumentation would enhance our capacity for drug addiction research on linkages and interactions among familial, genetic, psychosocial, and neurobiological factors associated with variations in propensity and severity. It would lead to new opportunities in substance abuse prevention, treatment, and services research, as well as in interventions and implementation science for drug addiction.
PMCID: PMC2930133  PMID: 20462706
tobacco; cannabis assessment; individual differences; adolescents
24.  Testing use of payers to facilitate evidence-based practice adoption: protocol for a cluster-randomized trial 
More effective methods are needed to implement evidence-based findings into practice. The Advancing Recovery Framework offers a multi-level approach to evidence-based practice implementation by aligning purchasing and regulatory policies at the payer level with organizational change strategies at the organizational level.
The Advancing Recovery Buprenorphine Implementation Study is a cluster-randomized controlled trial designed to increase use of the evidence-based practice buprenorphine medication to treat opiate addiction. Ohio Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Boards (ADAMHS), who are payers, and their addiction treatment organizations were recruited for a trial to assess the effects of payer and treatment organization changes (using the Advancing Recovery Framework) versus treatment organization changes alone on the use of buprenorphine. A matched-pair randomization, based on county characteristics, was applied, resulting in seven county ADAMHS boards and twenty-five treatment organizations in each arm. Opioid dependent patients are nested within cluster (treatment organization), and treatment organization clusters are nested within ADAMHS county board. The primary outcome is the percentage of individuals with an opioid dependence diagnosis who use buprenorphine during the 24-month intervention period and the 12-month sustainability period. The trial is currently in the baseline data collection stage.
Although addiction treatment providers are under increasing pressure to implement evidence-based practices that have been proven to improve patient outcomes, adoption of these practices lags, compared to other areas of healthcare. Reasons frequently cited for the slow adoption of EBPs in addiction treatment include, regulatory issues, staff, or client resistance and lack of resources. Yet the way addiction treatment is funded, the payer’s role—has not received a lot of attention in research on EBP adoption.
This research is unique because it investigates the role of payers in evidence-based practice implementation using a randomized controlled design instead of case examples. The testing of the Advancing Recovery Framework is designed to broaden the understanding of the impact payers have on evidence-based practice (EBP) adoption.
Trial registration
http://NCT01702142 ( registry, USA)
PMCID: PMC3666944  PMID: 23663749
Evidence-based practice implementation; Buprenorphine; Addiction treatment; Innovation
25.  A Narrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness as Complementary Therapies for Addiction 
This paper reviews the philosophical origins, current scientific evidence, and clinical promise of yoga and mindfulness as complementary therapies for addiction. Historically, there are eight elements of yoga that, together, comprise ethical principles & practices for living a meaningful, purposeful, moral and self-disciplined life. Traditional yoga practices, including postures and meditation, direct attention towards one’s health, while acknowledging the spiritual aspects of one’s nature. Mindfulness derives from ancient Buddhist philosophy, and mindfulness meditation practices, such as gentle Hatha yoga and mindful breathing, are increasingly integrated into secular health care settings. Current theoretical models suggest that the skills, insights, and self-awareness learned through yoga and mindfulness practice can target multiple psychological, neural, physiological, and behavioral processes implicated in addiction and relapse. A small but growing number of well-designed clinical trials and experimental laboratory studies on smoking, alcohol dependence, and illicit substance use support the clinical effectiveness and hypothesized mechanisms of action underlying mindfulness-based interventions for treating addiction. Because very few studies have been conducted on the specific role of yoga in treating or preventing addiction, we propose a conceptual model to inform future studies on outcomes and possible mechanisms. Additional research is also needed to better understand what types of yoga and mindfulness-based interventions work best for what types of addiction, what types of patients, and under what conditions. Overall, current findings increasingly support yoga and mindfulness as promising complementary therapies for treating and preventing addictive behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3646290  PMID: 23642957

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