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1.  Motivation to persist with internet-based cognitive behavioural treatment using blended care: a qualitative study 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:296.
The prevalence of depression is high and results in huge costs for society. Internet-based cognitive behavioural treatment (ICBT) has been suggested for use in primary care and has been shown to be more effective when combined with human support. However, non-completion rates remain a challenge. Current recommendations state that steps to improve persistence with ICBT should be determined and the impact of therapist support on persistence explored. A few earlier studies have explored motivations to persist with ICBT without face-to-face therapist support. The present study explored the motivation to persist as experienced by a group of patients who sought help in primary care and used “blended care”, i.e. ICBT supported by short face-to-face consultations.
To elucidate motivation in an everyday context and the meaning of patients’ experiences we chose a phenomenological hermeneutical approach. We interviewed participants in the intervention group of a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the efficacy of an ICBT programme called MoodGYM, an eHealth intervention used to treat depression. Fourteen participants, both completers and non-completers, went through individual, semi-structured interviews after they ended their treatment.
Hope of recovery and a desire to gain control of one’s life were identified as intrinsic motivators. The feeling of being able to freely choose how, when and where to complete the ICBT modules was identified as an important supporting condition and satisfied the participants’ need for autonomy. Furthermore, the importance of a sense of belonging towards partners, friends or family was essential for motivation as was the ability to identify with ICBT content. Another supporting condition was the experience of connectedness when met with acknowledgement, flexibility and feedback from a qualified therapist in the face-to-face consultations.
A key finding was that participants were motivated to persist with ICBT when their overall need for relatedness was satisfied. This was achieved through a sense of belonging towards partners, friends and family. Connectedness with the therapist and the participant’s ability to identify with the ICBT modules also gave a sense of relatedness. Improving these motivational aspects may increase patients’ persistence with ICBT.
PMCID: PMC4226213  PMID: 24199672
Internet-based cognitive behavioural treatment; Adherence; Self-determination theory; Motivation; Depression; Primary care
2.  Comparison of two data collection processes in clinical studies: electronic and paper case report forms 
Electronic Case Report Forms (eCRFs) are increasingly chosen by investigators and sponsors of clinical research instead of the traditional pen-and-paper data collection (pCRFs). Previous studies suggested that eCRFs avoided mistakes, shortened the duration of clinical studies and reduced data collection costs.
Our objectives were to describe and contrast both objective and subjective efficiency of pCRF and eCRF use in clinical studies. A total of 27 studies (11 eCRF, 16 pCRF) sponsored by the Paris hospital consortium, conducted and completed between 2001 and 2011 were included. Questionnaires were emailed to investigators of those studies, as well as clinical research associates and data managers working in Paris hospitals, soliciting their level of satisfaction and preferences for eCRFs and pCRFs. Mean costs and timeframes were compared using bootstrap methods, linear and logistic regression.
The total cost per patient was 374€ ±351 with eCRFs vs. 1,135€ ±1,234 with pCRFs. Time between the opening of the first center and the database lock was 31.7 months Q1 = 24.6; Q3 = 42.8 using eCRFs, vs. 39.8 months Q1 = 31.7; Q3 = 52.2 with pCRFs (p = 0.11). Electronic CRFs were globally preferred by all (31/72 vs. 15/72 for paper) for easier monitoring and improved data quality.
This study found that eCRFs and pCRFs are used in studies with different patient numbers, center numbers and risk. The first ones are more advantageous in large, low–risk studies and gain support from a majority of stakeholders.
PMCID: PMC3909932  PMID: 24438227
Electronic data collection; Costs; Time management; Work satisfaction
3.  The Impact of a 3-Year After-School Obesity Prevention Program in Elementary School Children 
Childhood Obesity  2012;8(1):60-70.
Children tend to be sedentary during the after-school hours, and this has deleterious effects on their health. The objective of the present study was to determine the effects of a 3-year after-school physical activity (PA) program, without restriction of dietary energy intake, on percent body fat (%BF), cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and cardiometabolic markers in children.
A cluster randomization design was employed. A total of 574 3rd grade children from 18 elementary schools in the southeastern United States participated. The intervention consisted of 80 minutes of age-appropriate moderate-to-vigorous PA each school day. The main outcomes of interest were %BF measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; CRF measured by heart rate in response to a submaximal step test; nonfasting total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C); and resting blood pressure (BP).
Intent-to-treat analyses showed significant treatment by time interactions for %BF (p=0.009) and CRF (p=0.0003). The change pattern of the means suggested that %BF and CRF in intervention children improved relative to control children during the school months, rebounding to the levels of control children over the summers following years 1 and 2. Year-by-year analyses of what occurred during the months when the program was offered revealed dose–response relations for %BF and CRF, such that the clearest beneficial effects were seen for those youth who attended at least 60% of the after-school sessions. No significant intervention effects were seen for cholesterol or BP.
An after-school PA program was effective in reducing adiposity and improving CRF, especially in the children who attended the sessions at least 3 days/week. However, the favorable effects on %BF and CRF were lost over the summer. Thus, it is critical to incorporate strategies that attract and retain the children to receive an adequate dose of PA year-round.
Trial Registration number, NCT00061841.
PMCID: PMC3647529  PMID: 22799482
4.  The contribution of lifestyle coaching of overweight patients in primary care to more autonomous motivation for physical activity and healthy dietary behaviour: results of a longitudinal study 
Combined lifestyle interventions (CLIs) have been advocated as an effective instrument in efforts to reduce overweight and obesity. The odds of maintaining higher levels of physical activity (PA) and healthier dietary behaviour improve when people are more intrinsically motivated to change their behaviour. To promote the shift towards more autonomous types of motivation, facilitator led CLIs have been developed including lifestyle coaching as key element. The present study examined the shift in types of motivation to increase PA and healthy dieting among participants of a primary care CLI, and the contribution of lifestyle coaching to potential changes in motivational quality.
This prospective cohort study included participants of 29 general practices in the Netherlands that implemented a CLI named ‘BeweegKuur’. Questionnaires including items on demographics, lifestyle coaching and motivation were sent at baseline and after 4 months. Aspects of motivation were assessed with the Behavioural Regulation and Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ-2) and the Regulation of Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (REBS). We performed a drop out analysis to identify selective drop-out. Changes in motivation were analysed with t-tests and effect size interpretations (Cohen’s d), and multivariate regression analysis was used to identify predictors of motivational change.
For physical activity, changes in motivational regulation were fully in line with the tenets of Self Determination Theory and Motivational Interviewing: participants made a shift towards a more autonomous type of motivation (i.e. controlled types of motivation decreased and autonomous types increased). Moreover, an autonomy supportive coaching style was generally found to predict a larger shift in autonomous types of motivation. For healthy dietary behaviour, however, except for a small decrease in external motivation, no favourable changes in different types of motivation were observed. The relation between coaching and motivation appeared to be influenced by the presence of physical activity guidance in the programme.
Motivation of participants of a real life primary care CLI had changed towards a more autonomous motivation after 4 months of intervention. Autonomy-supportive lifestyle coaching contributed to this change with respect to physical activity. Lifestyle coaching for healthy diet requires thorough knowledge about the problem of unhealthy dieting and solid coaching skills.
PMCID: PMC4132211  PMID: 25027848
5.  Factors affecting the motivation of healthcare professionals providing care to Emiratis with type 2 diabetes 
JRSM Short Reports  2013;4(2):14.
We aimed to identify facilitators of and barriers to healthcare professionals' motivation in a diabetes centre in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A qualitative research approach was employed using semistructured interviews to assess perception of and attitudes regarding healthcare professionals' motivation in providing good quality diabetes care.
A diabetes centre located in Abu-Dhabi, UAE.
Healthcare professionals including specialist physicians, dieticians, podiatrists, health educators and nurses were recruited through purposive sampling.
Main outcome measures
After data collection, the audiotaped interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to content analysis.
Nine semistructured interviews were conducted with healthcare professionals of various professional backgrounds. Important facilitators and barriers related to patient, professional, organization and cultural factors were identified. Barriers that related to heavy workload, disjointed care, lack of patient compliance and awareness, and cultural beliefs and attitudes about diabetes were common. Key facilitators included the patient's role in achieving therapeutic outcomes as well as compliance, cooperation and communication.
This qualitative study provides some unique insights about factors affecting healthcare professionals' motivation in providing good quality care. To improve the motivation of healthcare professionals in the management of diabetes and therefore the quality of diabetes care, several steps are needed. Importantly, the role of primary care should be reinforced and strengthened regarding the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus, privacy of the consultation time should be highly protected and regulated, and awareness of the Emirate culture and its impact on health should be disseminated to the healthcare professionals providing care to Emirates with diabetes. Also, greater emphasis should be placed on educating Emiratis with diabetes on, and involving them in, the management of their condition.
PMCID: PMC3591689  PMID: 23476735
6.  Associations of cardiorespiratory fitness with cardiovascular disease risk factors in middle-aged Chinese women: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:62.
High levels of physical activity (PA) and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) are each associated with a favorable cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk profile. However, the relationship between CRF and obesity is still inconsistent across studies, and there has been no thorough exploration of the independent contribution of CRF to different CVD risk factors in Chinese women. This study investigated the relationship between CRF and CVD risk factors in 40–49 year old women in Beijing.
The study included 231 urban-dwelling asymptomatic 40–49 year old women. Body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage (BF%), blood glucose, blood lipids, blood pressure, and pulse wave velocity (PWV) were measured at rest. Cycle ergometer exercise tests were conducted to assess CRF as indicated by maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). Participants were categorized into three CRF levels (low, moderate and high).
High CRF level was associated with significantly less BF%, lower PWV, and higher weekly physical activity compared with low and moderate CRF (P < 0.05). Compared to high CRF, the odds ratios for having ≥3 main CVD risk factors (overweight, hypertension, and dyslipidemia) in low and moderate CRF were 2.09 (95% CI: 1.48-2.94) and 1.84 (95% CI: 1.29-2.62), respectively. The proportion of participants with clinical ST segment depression and prolonged QTC interval during cycle ergometer testing was significantly higher in women with low CRF.
Overall, Chinese middle-aged women demonstrated a moderate level of CRF. CRF was independently associated with CVD risk factors, including overweight, hypertension, dyslipidemia, arterial stiffness, and abnormal ECG during exercise, with the least fit women exhibiting the highest number of CVD risk factors.
PMCID: PMC4014085  PMID: 24885417
7.  The “Health Coaching” programme: a new patient-centred and visually supported approach for health behaviour change in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:100.
Health related behaviour is an important determinant of chronic disease, with a high impact on public health. Motivating and assisting people to change their unfavourable health behaviour is thus a major challenge for health professionals. The objective of the study was to develop a structured programme of counselling in primary care practice, and to test its feasibility and acceptance among general practitioners (GPs) and their patients.
Our new concept integrates change of roles, shared responsibility, patient-centredness, and modern communication techniques—such as motivational interviewing. A new colour-coded visual communication tool is used for the purpose of leading through the 4-step counselling process. As doctors’ communication skills are crucial, communication training is a mandatory part of the programme. We tested the feasibility and acceptance of the “Health Coaching” programme with 20 GPs and 1045 patients, using questionnaires and semistructured interviewing techniques. The main outcomes were participation rates; the duration of counselling; patients’ self-rated behavioural change in their areas of choice; and ratings of motivational, conceptual, acceptance, and feasibility issues.
In total, 37% (n=350) of the patients enrolled in step 1 completed the entire 4-Step counselling process, with each step taking 8–22 minutes. 50% of ratings (n=303) improved by one or two categories in the three-colour circle, and the proportion of favourable health behaviour ratings increased from 9% to 39%. The ratings for motivation, concept, acceptance, and feasibility of the “Health Coaching” programme were consistently high.
Our innovative, patient-centred counselling programme for health behaviour change was well accepted and feasible among patients and physicians in a primary care setting. Randomised controlled studies will have to establish cost-effectiveness and promote dissemination.
PMCID: PMC3750840  PMID: 23865509
Health behaviour; Short intervention; Motivational interviewing; Family medicine; Primary care; Counselling; Patient-centredness; Health promotion
8.  Incidence and prognosis of intra-abdominal hypertension in critically ill medical patients: a prospective epidemiological study 
Annals of Intensive Care  2012;2(Suppl 1):S3.
The aim of this study was to determine the incidence of intra-abdominal hypertension (IAH) in patients with two or more categorized risk factors (CRF) for IAH, and their morbidity and mortality during their intensive care unit (ICU) stay.
Prospective cohort study carried out at a medical ICU. A total of 151 medical patients were enrolled during a period of 3 months. After ICU whole staff training, we conducted daily screening of the four CRF for IAH based on the World Society of Abdominal Compartment Syndrome (WSACS) guidelines (namely, diminished abdominal wall compliance, increased intraluminal content, increased abdominal content, and capillary leak syndrome or fluid resuscitation). In those patients with risk factors of at least two different categories (≥2 CRF), intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) was measured every 8 h during ICU stay. Data included demographics, main diagnosis on admission, severity scores, cumulative fluid balance, daily mean IAP, resolution of IAH, days of ICU and hospital stay, and mortality.
Eighty-seven patients (57.6%) had ≥2 CRF for IAH, 59 (67.8%) out of whom developed IAH. Patients with ≥2 CRF had a significantly higher mortality rate (41.4 vs. 14.3%, p < 0.001). Patients with IAH had higher body mass index, severity scores, organ dysfunctions/failures, number of CRF for IAH, days of ICU/hospital stay and hospital mortality rate (45.8 vs. 32.1%, p = 0.22). Non-resolution of IAH was associated with a higher mortality rate (64.7 vs. 35.3%, p = 0.001). None of the cohort patients developed abdominal compartment syndrome. The multivariate analysis showed that IAH development (odds ratio (OR) 4.09; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.83-20.12) was a non-independent risk factor for mortality, and its non-resolution (OR 13.15; 95% CI 22.13-81.92) was an independent risk factor for mortality.
Critically ill medical patients admitted to ICU with ≥2 CRF have high morbidity, mortality rate, and incidence of IAH, so IAP should be measured and monitored as recommended by the WSACS. Our study highlights the importance of implementing screening and assessment protocols for an early diagnosis of IAH.
PMCID: PMC3390290  PMID: 22873419
intra-abdominal hypertension; abdominal compartment syndrome; intra-abdominal pressure; multiple organ failure; critically ill patients; intensive care.
9.  Oxidative stress and its association with cardiovascular disease in chronic renal failure patients 
Indian Journal of Nephrology  2011;21(1):21-25.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for the majority of deaths in chronic renal failure (CRF). Oxidative stress plays a key role in pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and CVD, which is promoted by the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and impaired antioxidant enzymes. These ROS react with nitric oxide (NO) to produce cytotoxic reactive nitrogen species that cause oxidative injury to the endothelium. This study evaluated biomarkers of oxidative stress, NOx (total NO2 and NO3), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme in normal control and CRF patients as case group and correlated their association with CVD. This cross sectional study involved 173 CRF patients on different modes of treatment (hemodialysis, continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD), and predialysis). Of these, 74 had CVD. The control group consisted of 33 healthy subjects who had no history of CRF and CVD. Both NOx and SOD levels were significantly lower (P<0.05, P<0.001, respectively) in the case group. Comparing between CRF patients with and without CVD, SOD level was found to be significantly lower in CRF patients with CVD (P<0.05). Logistic regression analysis showed significant association of CVD event with age, male gender, diabetes, SOD level, and lipid profile in CRF patients. Oxidative stress occurs in the CRF patients with or without CVD. This study found that NOx and SOD levels were reduced in all CRF patients with or without CVD. However, it was noted that the levels of these biomarkers of oxidative stress were significantly lower in CRF patients with CVD compared with CRF patients without CVD. Therefore, these oxidative stress markers maybe contributing factors in the pathogenesis of CVD in patients with CRF.
PMCID: PMC3109778  PMID: 21655165
Chronic renal failure; CVD; oxidative stress
10.  Nursing students motivation toward their studies – a survey study 
BMC Nursing  2008;7:6.
This study focuses on Swedish nursing students' motivation toward their studies during their three year academic studies. Earlier studies show the importance of motivation for study commitment and result. The aim was to analyze nursing students' estimation of their degree of motivation during different semester during their education and to identify reasons for the degree of motivation.
A questionnaire asking for scoring motivation and what influenced the degree of motivation was distributed to students enrolled in a nursing programme. 315 students who studied at different semesters participated. Analyzes were made by statistical calculation and content analysis.
The mean motivation score over all semesters was 6.3 (ranked between 0–10) and differed significantly during the semesters with a tendency to lower score during the 5th semester. Students (73/315) with motivation score <4 reported explanations such as negative opinion about the organisation of the programme, attitude towards the studies, life situation and degree of difficulty/demand on studies. Students (234/315) with motivation score >6 reported positive opinions to becoming a nurse (125/234), organization of the programme and attitude to the studies. The mean score value for the motivation ranking differed significantly between male (5.8) and female (6.8) students.
Conclusions to be drawn are that nursing students mainly grade their motivation positive distributed different throughout their entire education. The main motivation factor was becoming a nurse. This study result highlights the need of understanding the students' situation and their need of tutorial support.
PMCID: PMC2386463  PMID: 18439276
11.  A Survey to Assess Family Physicians’ Motivation to Teach Undergraduates in Their Practices 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e45846.
In Germany, family physicians (FPs) are increasingly needed to participate in undergraduate medical education. Knowledge of FPs’ motivation to teach medical students in their practices is lacking.
To describe a novel questionnaire that assesses the motivation of FPs to teach undergraduates in their practices and to show the results of a subsequent survey using this instrument.
The questionnaire was developed based on a review of the literature. Previously used empirical instruments assessing occupational values and motivation were included. A preliminary version was pretested in a pilot study. The resulting 68-item questionnaire was sent to 691 FPs involved in undergraduate medical education. Reliability was assessed and subgroups were analyzed with regard to differences in motivation.
A total of 523 physicians in n = 458 teaching practices participated (response rate 75.7%). ‘Helping others’ and ‘interest’ were revealed as the predominant motives. Responses showed a predominantly intrinsic motivation of the participating FPs. Their main incentives were an ambition to work as a medical preceptor, to generally improve undergraduate education and to share knowledge. Material compensation was of minor importance. Time restraints were indicated as a barrier by some FPs, but were not a general concern.
German FPs involved in medical education have altruistic attitudes towards teaching medical students in their practices. Motivational features give an important insight for the recruitment of FP preceptors as well as for their training in instructional methods.
PMCID: PMC3461037  PMID: 23029272
12.  Childbirth experience questionnaire (CEQ): development and evaluation of a multidimensional instrument 
Negative experiences of first childbirth increase risks for maternal postpartum depression and may negatively affect mothers' attitudes toward future pregnancies and choice of delivery method. Postpartum questionnaires assessing mothers' childbirth experiences are needed to aid in identifying mothers in need of support and counselling and in isolating areas of labour and birth management and care potentially in need of improvement. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a questionnaire for assessing different aspects of first-time mothers' childbirth experiences.
Childbirth domains were derived from literature searches, discussions with experienced midwives and interviews with first-time mothers. A draft version of the Childbirth Experience Questionnaire (CEQ) was pilot tested for face validity among 25 primiparous women. The revised questionnaire was mailed one month postpartum to 1177 primiparous women with a normal pregnancy and spontaneous onset of active labor and 920 returned evaluable questionnaires. Exploratory factor analysis using principal components analysis and promax rotation was performed to identify dimensions of the childbirth experience. Multitrait scaling analysis was performed to test scaling assumptions and reliability of scales. Discriminant validity was assessed by comparing scores from subgroups known to differ in childbirth experiences.
Factor analysis of the 22 item questionnaire yielded four factors accounting for 54% of the variance. The dimensions were labelled Own capacity, Professional support, Perceived safety, and Participation. Multitrait scaling analysis confirmed the fit of the four-dimensional model and scaling success was achieved in all four sub-scales. The questionnaire showed good sensitivity with dimensions discriminating well between groups hypothesized to differ in experience of childbirth.
The CEQ measures important dimensions of the first childbirth experience and may be used to measure different aspects of maternal satisfaction with labour and birth.
PMCID: PMC3008689  PMID: 21143961
13.  High prevalence of CXCR4 usage among treatment-naive CRF01_AE and CRF51_01B-infected HIV-1 subjects in Singapore 
Recent studies suggest HIV-1 inter-subtype differences in co-receptor usage. We examined the correlation between HIV-1 subtype and co-receptor usage among treatment-naïve HIV-1 subjects in Singapore. Additionally, we investigated whether the subtype co-receptor association was influenced by stage of infection.
V3 sequences of HIV-1 envelope protein gp120 were obtained from 110 HIV treatment-naïve patients and genotypic co-receptor tropism determination was performed using Geno2pheno. Two false-positive rate (FPR) cut-offs, 10% and 5.75% were selected for tropism testing.
Subtype assignment of viral strains from 110 HIV-infected individuals based on partial sequencing of HIV-1 pol, gp120 and gp41 were as follows: 27 subtype B, 64 CRF01_AE, 10 CRF51_01B, and 9 other subtypes. At FPR=10%, 10 (100%) CRF51_01B-infected subjects and 26 (40.6%) CRF01_AE-infected subjects had CXCR4-using virus, compared to 7 (25.9%) subtype B subjects and 1 (11.1%) CRF33_01B-infected subject (P < 0.001). At FPR=5.75%, 10 (100%) CRF51_01B-infected subjects and 20 (31.3%) CRF01_AE-infected subjects had CXCR4-using virus, compared to 4 (14.8%) subtype B and 1 (11.1%) CRF33_01B-infected subjects (P < 0.001). Among those with evidence of seroconversion within 2 years prior to study enrolment, 100% of CRF51_01B-infected subjects had CXCR4-using virus, independent of Geno2pheno FPR.
CRF51_01B and CRF01_AE-infected individuals have higher prevalence of CXCR4-usage compared to subtype B infected individuals. Further studies examining these differences could help optimise the use of CCR5-antagonist in populations with these subtypes, and increase our understanding of HIV-1 biology.
PMCID: PMC3585921  PMID: 23421710
CXCR4 usage; HIV-1; treatment-naïve
14.  Malawian fathers’ views and experiences of attending the birth of their children: a qualitative study 
Exploring the experiences and views of men who had attended the birth of their children is very vital, especially in a setting where traditionally only women accord women support during labour and childbirth. The insights drawn from the male partners’ views and experiences could enhance the current woman-centred midwifery model that encompasses the needs of the baby, the woman’s family and other people important to the woman, as defined and negotiated by the woman herself. This paper explored the views and experiences of men who attended the birth of their children from two private hospitals in an urban setting in southern Malawi.
This study used an exploratory descriptive qualitative approach. The data were collected through in-depth interviews from 20 men from Blantyre, a city in the southern part of Malawi, who consented to participate in the study. These men attended the birth of their children at Blantyre Adventist and Mlambe Mission Hospitals within the past two years prior to data collection in August 2010. A semi-structure interview guide was used to collect data. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyse the data set.
Four themes were identified to explain the experiences and views of men about attending childbirth. The themes were motivation; positive experiences; negative experiences; reflection and resolutions. The negative experiences had four sub-themes namely shame and embarrassment, helplessness and unprepared, health care provider – male partner tension, and exclusion from decision-making process.
The findings showed that with proper motivational information, enabling environment, positive midwives’ attitude and spouse willingness, it is possible to involve male partners during childbirth in Malawi. Midwives, women and male peers are vital in the promotion of male involvement during childbirth. In addition, midwives have a duty to ensure that men are well prepared for the labour and childbirth processes for the experience to be a positive one.
PMCID: PMC3520855  PMID: 23216825
Male partner; Childbirth; Support; Labour; Malawi
15.  Facilitating the Recruitment of Minority Ethnic People into Research: Qualitative Case Study of South Asians and Asthma 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000148.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report on a qualitative study in the US and the UK to investigate ways to bolster recruitment of South Asians into asthma studies, including making inclusion of diverse populations mandatory.
There is international interest in enhancing recruitment of minority ethnic people into research, particularly in disease areas with substantial ethnic inequalities. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that UK South Asians are at three times increased risk of hospitalisation for asthma when compared to white Europeans. US asthma trials are far more likely to report enrolling minority ethnic people into studies than those conducted in Europe. We investigated approaches to bolster recruitment of South Asians into UK asthma studies through qualitative research with US and UK researchers, and UK community leaders.
Methods and Findings
Interviews were conducted with 36 researchers (19 UK and 17 US) from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and ten community leaders from a range of ethnic, religious, and linguistic backgrounds, followed by self-completion questionnaires. Interviews were digitally recorded, translated where necessary, and transcribed. The Framework approach was used for analysis. Barriers to ethnic minority participation revolved around five key themes: (i) researchers' own attitudes, which ranged from empathy to antipathy to (in a minority of cases) misgivings about the scientific importance of the question under study; (ii) stereotypes and prejudices about the difficulties in engaging with minority ethnic populations; (iii) the logistical challenges posed by language, cultural differences, and research costs set against the need to demonstrate value for money; (iv) the unique contexts of the two countries; and (v) poorly developed understanding amongst some minority ethnic leaders of what research entails and aims to achieve. US researchers were considerably more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities, which appeared to a large extent to reflect the longer-term impact of the National Institutes of Health's requirement to include minority ethnic people.
Most researchers and community leaders view the broadening of participation in research as important and are reasonably optimistic about the feasibility of recruiting South Asians into asthma studies provided that the barriers can be overcome. Suggested strategies for improving recruitment in the UK included a considerably improved support structure to provide academics with essential contextual information (e.g., languages of particular importance and contact with local gatekeepers), and the need to ensure that care is taken to engage with the minority ethnic communities in ways that are both culturally appropriate and sustainable; ensuring reciprocal benefits was seen as one key way of avoiding gatekeeper fatigue. Although voluntary measures to encourage researchers may have some impact, greater impact might be achieved if UK funding bodies followed the lead of the US National Institutes of Health requiring recruitment of ethnic minorities. Such a move is, however, likely in the short- to medium-term, to prove unpopular with many UK academics because of the added “hassle” factor in engaging with more diverse populations than many have hitherto been accustomed to.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In an ideal world, everyone would have the same access to health care and the same health outcomes (responses to health interventions). However, health inequalities—gaps in health care and in health between different parts of the population—exist in many countries. In particular, people belonging to ethnic minorities in the UK, the US, and elsewhere have poorer health outcomes for several conditions than people belonging to the ethnic majority (ethnicity is defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin). For example, in the UK, people whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent (also known as South Asians and comprising in the main of people of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi origin) are three times as likely to be admitted to hospital for asthma as white Europeans. The reasons underpinning ethnic health inequalities are complex. Some inequalities may reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—some ethnic minorities may inherit genes that alter their susceptibility to a specific disease. Other ethnic health inequalities may arise because of differences in socioeconomic status or because different cultural traditions affect the uptake of health care services.
Why Was This Study Done?
Minority ethnic groups are often under-represented in health research, which could limit the generalizability of research findings. That is, an asthma treatment that works well in a trial where all the participants are white Europeans might not be suitable for South Asians. Clinicians might nevertheless use the treatment in all their patients irrespective of their ethnicity and thus inadvertently increase ethnic health inequality. So, how can ethnic minorities be encouraged to enroll into research studies? In this qualitative study, the investigators try to answer this question by talking to US and UK asthma researchers and UK community leaders about how they feel about enrolling ethnic minorities into research studies. The investigators chose to compare the feelings of US and UK asthma researchers because minority ethnic people are more likely to enroll into US asthma studies than into UK studies, possibly because the US National Institute of Health's (NIH) Revitalization Act 1993 mandates that all NIH-funded clinical research must include people from ethnic minority groups; there is no similar mandatory policy in the UK.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The investigators interviewed 16 UK and 17 US asthma researchers and three UK social researchers with experience of working with ethnic minorities. They also interviewed ten community leaders from diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds. They then analyzed the interviews using the “Framework” approach, an analytical method in which qualitative data are classified and organized according to key themes and then interpreted. By comparing the data from the UK and US researchers, the investigators identified several barriers to ethnic minority participation in health research including: the attitudes of researchers towards the scientific importance of recruiting ethnic minority people into health research studies; prejudices about the difficulties of including ethnic minorities in health research; and the logistical challenges posed by language and cultural differences. In general, the US researchers were more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities in health research. Finally, the investigators found that some community leaders had a poor understanding of what research entails and about its aims.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal a large gap between US and UK researchers in terms of policy, attitudes, practices, and experiences in relation to including ethnic minorities in asthma research. However, they also suggest that most UK researchers and community leaders believe that it is both important and feasible to increase the participation of South Asians in asthma studies. Although some of these findings may have been affected by the study participants sometimes feeling obliged to give “politically correct” answers, these findings are likely to be generalizable to other diseases and to other parts of Europe. Given their findings, the researchers warn that a voluntary code of practice that encourages the recruitment of ethnic minority people into health research studies is unlikely to be successful. Instead, they suggest, the best way to increase the representation of ethnic minority people in health research in the UK might be to follow the US lead and introduce a policy that requires their inclusion in such research.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Families USA, a US nonprofit organization that campaigns for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, has information about many aspects of minority health in the US, including an interactive game about minority health issues
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a section on minority health
The UK Department of Health provides information on health inequalities and a recent report on the experiences of patients in Black and minority ethnic groups
The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology also has a short article on ethnicity and health
Information on the NIH Revitalization Act 1993 is available
NHS Evidences Ethnicity and Health has a variety of policy, clinical, and research resources on ethnicity and health
PMCID: PMC2752116  PMID: 19823568
16.  Does a referral from home to hospital affect satisfaction with childbirth? A cross-national comparison 
The Belgian and Dutch societies present many similarities but differ with regard to the organisation of maternity care. The Dutch way of giving birth is well known for its high percentage of home births and its low medical intervention rate. In contrast, home births in Belgium are uncommon and the medical model is taken for granted. Dutch and Belgian maternity care systems are compared with regard to the influence of being referred to specialist care during pregnancy or intrapartum while planning for a home birth. We expect that a referral will result in lower satisfaction with childbirth, especially in Belgium.
Two questionnaires were filled out by 605 women, one at 30 weeks of pregnancy and one within the first two weeks after childbirth, either at home or in a hospital. Of these, 563 questionnaires were usable for analysis. Women were invited to participate in the study by independent midwives and obstetricians during antenatal visits in 2004–2005. Satisfaction with childbirth was measured by the Mackey Satisfaction with Childbirth Rating Scale, which takes into account the multidimensional nature of the concept.
Belgian women are more satisfied than Dutch women and home births are more satisfying than hospital births. Women who are referred to the hospital while planning for a home birth are less satisfied than women who planned to give birth in hospital and did. A referral has a greater negative impact on satisfaction for Dutch women.
There is no reason to believe Dutch women receive hospital care of lesser quality than Belgian women in case of a referral. Belgian and Dutch attach different meaning to being referred, resulting in a different evaluation of childbirth. In the Dutch maternity care system home births lead to higher satisfaction, but once a referral to the hospital is necessary satisfaction drops and ends up lower than satisfaction with hospital births that were planned in advance. We need to understand more about referral processes and how women experience them.
PMCID: PMC1939703  PMID: 17626631
17.  Male involvement during pregnancy and childbirth: men’s perceptions, practices and experiences during the care for women who developed childbirth complications in Mulago Hospital, Uganda 
Development of appropriate interventions to increase male involvement in pregnancy and childbirth is vital to strategies for improving health outcomes of women with obstetric complications. The objective was to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences of male involvement in their partners’ healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth. The findings might inform interventions for increasing men’s involvement in reproductive health issues.
We conducted 16 in-depth interviews with men who came to the hospital to attend to their spouses/partners admitted to Mulago National Referral Hospital. All the spouses/partners had developed severe obstetric complications and were admitted in the high dependency unit. We sought to obtain detailed descriptions of men’s experiences, their perception of an ideal “father” and the challenges in achieving this ideal status. We also assessed perceived strategies for increasing male participation in their partners’ healthcare during pregnancy and childbirth. Data was analyzed by content analysis.
The identified themes were: Men have different descriptions of their relationships; responsibility was an obligation; ideal fathers provide support to mothers during childbirth; the health system limits male involvement in childbirth; men have no clear roles during childbirth, and exclusion and alienation in the hospital environment. The men described qualities of the ideal father as one who was available, easily reached, accessible and considerate. Most men were willing to learn about their expected roles during childbirth and were eager to support their partners/wives/spouses during this time. However, they identified personal, relationship, family and community factors as barriers to their involvement. They found the health system unwelcoming, intimidating and unsupportive. Suggestions to improve men’s involvement include creating more awareness for fathers, male-targeted antenatal education and support, and changing provider attitudes.
This study generates information on perceived roles, expectations, experiences and challenges faced by men who wish to be involved in maternal health issues, particularly during pregnancy and childbirth. There is discord between the policy and practice on male involvement in pregnancy and childbirth. Health system factors that are critical to promoting male involvement in women’s health issues during pregnancy and childbirth need to be addressed.
PMCID: PMC3916059  PMID: 24479421
18.  Assessing the Accuracy of Adherence and Sexual Behaviour Data in the MDP301 Vaginal Microbicides Trial Using a Mixed Methods and Triangulation Model 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11632.
Accurate data on adherence and sexual behaviour are crucial in microbicide (and other HIV-related) research. In the absence of a “gold standard” the collection of such data relies largely on participant self-reporting. The Microbicides Development Programme has developed a mixed method/triangulation model for generating more accurate data on adherence and sexual behaviour.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Data were collected from a random subsample of 725 women using structured case record form (CRF) interviews, coital diaries (CD) and in-depth interviews (IDI). Returned used and unused gel applicators were counted and additional data collected through focus group discussions and ethnography. The model is described in detail in a companion paper [1]. When CRF, CD and IDI are compared there is some inconsistency with regard to reporting of sexual behaviour, gel or condom use in more than half. Inaccuracies are least prevalent in the IDI and most prevalent in the CRF, where participants tend to under-report frequency of sex and gel and condom use. Women reported more sex, gel and condom use than their partners. IDI data on adherence match the applicator-return data more closely than the CRF. The main reasons for inaccuracies are participants forgetting, interviewer error, desirability bias, problems with the definition and delineation of key concepts (e.g. “sex act”). Most inaccuracies were unintentional and could be rectified during data collection.
The CRF – the main source of self-report data on behaviour and adherence in many studies – was the least accurate with regard to measuring sexual behaviour, gel and condom use. This has important implications for the use of structured questionnaires for the collection of data on sexual behaviour and adherence. Integrating in-depth interviews and triangulation into clinical trials could increase the richness and accuracy of behavioural and adherence data.
PMCID: PMC2908125  PMID: 20657774
19.  What Motivates Talented Medical Students to Study Simultaneously at Master of Public Health (MPH)? 
Iranian Journal of Public Health  2013;42(4):402-409.
Nearly three decades ago, the Master of Public Health (MPH) academic degree was introduced to Tehran University of Medical Sciences’ School of Public Health, Tehran, Iran. A new program for simultaneous education of medical, pharmaceutical and dental students was initiated in 2006. Talented students had the opportunity to study MPH simultaneously. There were some concerns about this kind of admission; as to whether these students who were not familiar with the health system had the appropriate attitude and background for this field of education. And with the present rate of brain drain, is this just a step towards their immigration without the fulfillment of public health?
This qualitative study was conducted in 2012 where 26 students took part in focused group discussions and individual interviews. The students were questioned about their motivation and the program’s impact on their future career. The participants’ statements were analyzed using thematic analysis.
The primary motivations of students who entered this program were: learning health knowledge related issues, gaining a perspective beyond clinical practice, obtaining a degree to strengthen their academic résumé, immigration, learning academic research methods and preparing for the management of health systems in the future.
Apparently, there was no considerable difference between the motivation of students and the program planners. The students’ main motivation for studying MPH was a combination of various interests in research and health sciences issues. Therefore, considering the potential of this group of students, effective academic investment on MPH can have positive impact.
PMCID: PMC3684727  PMID: 23785680
Curriculum; Graduate; Administration; Public health; Education; Iran
20.  Associations of physical activity, fitness, and body composition with heart rate variability–based indicators of stress and recovery on workdays: a cross-sectional study 
The purpose of this study was to investigate how physical activity (PA), cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), and body composition are associated with heart rate variability (HRV)-based indicators of stress and recovery on workdays. Additionally, we evaluated the association of objectively measured stress with self-reported burnout symptoms.
Participants of this cross-sectional study were 81 healthy males (age range 26–40 y). Stress and recovery on workdays were measured objectively based on HRV recordings. CRF and anthropometry were assessed in laboratory conditions. The level of PA was based on a detailed PA interview (MET index [MET-h/d]) and self-reported activity class.
PA, CRF, and body composition were significantly associated with levels of stress and recovery on workdays. MET index (P < 0.001), activity class (P = 0.001), and CRF (P = 0.019) were negatively associated with stress during working hours whereas body fat percentage (P = 0.005) was positively associated. Overall, 27.5% of the variance of total stress on workdays (P = 0.001) was accounted for by PA, CRF, and body composition. Body fat percentage and body mass index were negatively associated with night-time recovery whereas CRF was positively associated. Objective work stress was associated (P = 0.003) with subjective burnout symptoms.
PA, CRF, and body composition are associated with HRV-based stress and recovery levels, which needs to be taken into account in the measurement, prevention, and treatment of work-related stress. The HRV-based method used to determine work-related stress and recovery was associated with self-reported burnout symptoms, but more research on the clinical importance of the methodology is needed.
PMCID: PMC3997193  PMID: 24742265
Body composition; Body fat percentage; BMI; Cardiorespiratory fitness; HRV; Physical activity; Recovery; Working hours; Work stress
21.  Diabetes patient management by pharmacists during Ramadan 
Many Muslim diabetes patients choose to participate in Ramadan despite medical advice to the contrary. This study aims to describe Qatar pharmacists’ practice, knowledge, and attitudes towards guiding diabetes medication management during Ramadan.
A cross-sectional descriptive study was performed among a convenience sample of 580 Qatar pharmacists. A web-based questionnaire was systematically developed following comprehensive literature review and structured according to 4 main domains: subject demographics; diabetes patient care experiences; knowledge of appropriate patient care during Ramadan fasting; and attitudes towards potential pharmacist responsibilities in this regard.
In the 3 months prior to Ramadan (July 2012), 178 (31%) pharmacists responded to the survey. Ambulatory (103, 58%) and inpatient practices (72, 41%) were similarly represented. One-third of pharmacists reported at least weekly interaction with diabetes patients during Ramadan. The most popular resources for management advice were the internet (94, 53%) and practice guidelines (80, 45%); however only 20% were aware of and had read the American Diabetes Association Ramadan consensus document. Pharmacist knowledge scores of appropriate care was overall fair (99, 57%). Pharmacists identified several barriers to participating in diabetes management including workload and lack of private counseling areas, but expressed attitudes consistent with a desire to assume greater roles in advising fasting diabetes patients.
Qatar pharmacists face several practical barriers to guiding diabetes patient self-management during Ramadan, but are motivated to assume a greater role in such care. Educational programs are necessary to improve pharmacist knowledge in the provision of accurate patient advice.
PMCID: PMC3975299  PMID: 24606885
Diabetes; Patient care; Fasting; Ramadan; Pharmacist
22.  Motivational profiles of medical students: Association with study effort, academic performance and exhaustion 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:87.
Students enter the medical study with internally generated motives like genuine interest (intrinsic motivation) and/or externally generated motives like parental pressure or desire for status or prestige (controlled motivation). According to Self-determination theory (SDT), students could differ in their study effort, academic performance and adjustment to the study depending on the endorsement of intrinsic motivation versus controlled motivation. The objectives of this study were to generate motivational profiles of medical students using combinations of high or low intrinsic and controlled motivation and test whether different motivational profiles are associated with different study outcomes.
Participating students (N = 844) from University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands, were classified to different subgroups through K-means cluster analysis using intrinsic and controlled motivation scores. Cluster membership was used as an independent variable to assess differences in study strategies, self-study hours, academic performance and exhaustion from study.
Four clusters were obtained: High Intrinsic High Controlled (HIHC), Low Intrinsic High Controlled (LIHC), High Intrinsic Low Controlled (HILC), and Low Intrinsic Low Controlled (LILC). HIHC profile, including the students who are interest + status motivated, constituted 25.2% of the population (N = 213). HILC profile, including interest-motivated students, constituted 26.1% of the population (N = 220). LIHC profile, including status-motivated students, constituted 31.8% of the population (N = 268). LILC profile, including students who have a low-motivation and are neither interest nor status motivated, constituted 16.9% of the population (N = 143). Interest-motivated students (HILC) had significantly more deep study strategy (p < 0.001) and self-study hours (p < 0.05), higher GPAs (p < 0.001) and lower exhaustion (p < 0.001) than status-motivated (LIHC) and low-motivation (LILC) students.
The interest-motivated profile of medical students (HILC) is associated with good study hours, deep study strategy, good academic performance and low exhaustion from study. The interest + status motivated profile (HIHC) was also found to be associated with a good learning profile, except that students with this profile showed higher surface strategy. Low-motivation (LILC) and status-motivated profiles (LIHC) were associated with the least desirable learning behaviours.
PMCID: PMC3691760  PMID: 23782767
Motivation; SDT; Learning outcomes; Academic performance; Intrinsic motivation; Controlled motivation; Motivational profiles
23.  Arginine vasopressin potentiates adrenocorticotropin release induced by ovine corticotropin-releasing factor. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1984;73(2):533-538.
Arginine vasopressin (AVP) stimulates ACTH release in man and acts synergistically with synthetic ovine corticotropin-releasing factor (oCRF) in vitro. This study was designed to examine in man the combined effects of synthetic AVP (10 U intramuscularly) and oCRF (1 micrograms/kg intravenously) on ACTH release. Five normal male volunteers participated in five separate experiments: (a) AVP alone; (b) oCRF alone; (c) AVP followed by oCRF 15 min later; (d) simultaneous AVP and oCRF; and (e) insulin-induced hypoglycemia. Plasma immunoreactive ACTH (IR-ACTH) and IR-cortisol were measured for 4 h after injection of each hormone; basal levels for all subjects were less than or equal to 9 +/- 1.2 pg/ml and 4.9 +/- 0.4 micrograms/dl (mean +/- SE), respectively. AVP and oCRF, when given individually, caused rapid rises in IR-ACTH to similar peak levels of 25 +/- 6.6 and 33 +/- 4.6 pg/ml, respectively. AVP given 15 min before oCRF caused a 2.6-fold potentiation of the oCRF response, with a peak IR-ACTH of 85 +/- 4.6 pg/ml. AVP given at the same time as oCRF produced a fourfold potentiation of the peak IR-ACTH response to 132 +/- 11 pg/ml. These ACTH responses were far greater than those previously observed after 30-fold greater doses of oCRF alone. By way of comparison, insulin-induced hypoglycemia caused a peak IR-ACTH of 169 +/- 20 pg/ml. IR-ACTH returned to base line at 60-90 min after AVP alone, whereas the prolonged effect of oCRF was apparent whether it was given alone or in combination with AVP. The mean peak IR-cortisol responses to AVP, oCRF, and AVP given 15 min before oCRF were similar (16.5 +/- 0.9, 16.4 +/- 2.3, and 18.5 +/- 0.8 micrograms/dl, respectively), but the peak IR-cortisol responses to AVP and oCRF given simultaneously and to insulin-induced hypoglycemia were 1.5 and 1.7 times greater, respectively. IR-cortisol returned to base line within 2-3 h after AVP alone, but remained elevated for at least 4 h after oCRF alone or in combination with AVP. These results indicate that AVP acts synergistically with oCRF to release ACTH in man and suggest that AVP may play a physiologic role in modulating the ACTH response mediated by corticotropin-releasing factor.
PMCID: PMC425045  PMID: 6321557
24.  The forgotten smoker: a qualitative study of attitudes towards smoking, quitting, and tobacco control policies among continuing smokers 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:432.
Although research suggests that the majority of smokers want to quit smoking, the uptake of Stop Smoking Services, designed to assist smokers with quitting, remains low. Little is known about continuing smokers who do not access these services, and opportunities to influence their motivation and encourage quit attempts through the uptake of services. Using PRIME theory, this study explored differences between continuing smokers who had varying levels of motivation to quit, in terms of their plans to quit, evaluative beliefs about smoking, cigarette dependence, and attitudes towards tobacco control policies and services.
Twenty-two current smokers, recruited from the community, were classified by motivation level to quit using a self-report questionnaire (two groups: high/low). Four focus groups (n=13) and individual interviews (n=9) were conducted with both groups using an interview guide incorporating aspects of PRIME theory. Discussion areas included motives for smoking, attitudes towards smoking and quitting, perceptions of dependence, motives for quitting, barriers to quitting, and attitudes towards existing and impending tobacco control policies and services. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using thematic framework analysis.
All participants expressed low motivation to quit during discussions, despite some initially self-classifying as having high explicit levels of motivation to quit. Both groups reported similar attitudes towards smoking and quitting, including a perceived psychological addiction to smoking, positive evaluations about smoking which inhibited plans to quit, and similar suggested methods to increase motivation (simply wanting to, save money, improve health). Most felt that they ‘ought’ to quit as opposed to ‘wanted’ to. Little influence was ascribed towards tobacco control policies such as plain packaging and hidden sales displays, and participants felt that price increases of tobacco products needed to be considerable in order to influence motivation. Highly motivated smokers expressed more willingness to visit Stop Smoking Services, although none had done so.
Continuing smokers’ attitudes towards smoking and quitting suggests that research and policy need to focus on increasing smokers’ implicit motivation to quit smoking, even for those who classified themselves as having high motivation to quit. Targeted information and further education about Stop Smoking Services is required to increase uptake.
PMCID: PMC3651294  PMID: 23641875
Attitudes; Smoking; Motivation to quit; Tobacco policies; Stop Smoking Services
25.  Study motives, career choices and interest in paediatric dentistry among final year dental students in Nigeria 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:130.
Students’ motives for studying Dentistry have been a subject of interest for years because of the potential for understanding the psychological makeup and subsequent job satisfaction for the dentist. It is also useful in identifying expectations of the profession. This study therefore tried to identify study motives and career preferences of dental students especially with respect to the practice of paediatric dentistry.
This was a cross-sectional study using a self-administered questionnaire. The final year students in six dental schools in Nigeria were required to fill the questionnaire. Students were asked to rank their motives and career preferences on a Likert like scale with points ranging from 0–5 where 0 represented a factor that had no influence on their decision and 5 represented a very influential factor. The underlying dimensions for study motives, career preference, impression about and motive for interest in the practice of paediatric dentistry were identified using factor analysis.
One hundred and seventy nine of 223 students (80.3%) participated in this study. Motives for the practice of dentistry included characteristics of the profession, altruism and intellectual challenges, existence of artistic theme in dentistry and parent’s recommendation. Overall, 67.1% of respondents indicated interest in postgraduate studies and 50.8% were interested in paediatric dentistry practice. The main motives for showing interest in the practice of paediatric dentistry were ‘personal interest, professional interest and interest of significant others in children’, and ‘family influence’. Significantly more males than females were interested in the practice of paediatric dentistry though the motives for interest in the practice of paediatric dentistry did not differ significantly by sex or age.
The non-significant sex difference in the motives for interest in the practice of paediatric dentistry is a possible reflection of changes in strong cultural themes in the motives for career choices in Nigeria.
PMCID: PMC4109373  PMID: 24989055
Study; Motives; Career; Nigeria; Culture; Sex; Paediatric dentistry; Dental students

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