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1.  The ethical decisions UK doctors make regarding advanced cancer patients at the end of life - the perceived (in) appropriateness of anticoagulation for venous thromboembolism: A qualitative study 
BMC Medical Ethics  2012;13:22.
Background
Cancer patients are at risk of developing blood clots in their veins - venous thromboembolism (VTE) - which often takes the form of a pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis. The risk increases with advanced disease. Evidence based treatment is low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) by daily subcutaneous injection. The aim of this research is to explore the barriers for doctors in the UK when diagnosing and treating advanced cancer patients with VTE.
Method
Qualitative, in-depth interview study with 45 doctors (30 across Yorkshire, England and 15 across South Wales). Doctors were from three specialties: oncology, palliative medicine and general practice, with a mixture of senior and junior staff. Framework analysis was used.
Results
Doctors opinions as to whether LMWH treatment was ethically appropriate for patients who were symptomatic from VTE but at end of life existed on a shifting continuum, largely influenced by patient prognosis. A lack of immediate benefit coupled with the discomfort of a daily injection had influenced some doctors not to prescribe LMWH. The point at which LMWH injections should be stopped in patients at the end of life was ambiguous. Some perceived ‘overcaution’ in their own and other clinicians’ treatment of patients. Viewpoints were divergent on whether dying of a PE was considered a “good way to go”. The interventionalism and ethos of palliative medicine was discussed.
Conclusions
Decisions are difficult for doctors to make regarding LMWH treatment for advanced cancer patients with VTE. Treatment for this patient group is bounded to the doctors own moral and ethical frameworks.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-13-22
PMCID: PMC3459796  PMID: 22947200
Venous thromboembolism; Heparin; Low-molecular-weight; Palliative care; Qualitative research; Ethics; Medical
2.  Outpatient Use of Low Molecular Weight Heparin Monotherapy for First-Line Treatment of Venous Thromboembolism in Advanced Cancer 
The Oncologist  2012;17(3):419-427.
Evidence-based treatment guidelines recommend low molecular weight heparin monotherapy for cancer-associated venous thromboembolism (VTE). This analysis assessed the first-line treatment strategies for VTE in patients with advanced solid tumors and found that only 25% of patients received guideline-recommended low molecular weight heparin. Future studies should explore reasons underlying the underutilization of this preferred evidence-based treatment as well as the comparative effectiveness of low molecular weight heparin versus warfarin-based anticoagulation in real-world cancer patients with VTE.
Background.
Evidence-based treatment guidelines recommend low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) monotherapy for cancer-associated venous thromboembolism (VTE). This analysis assessed the first-line treatment strategies for VTE in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Methods.
Using administrative data from advanced lung, prostate, colon, or breast cancer patients diagnosed between January 2000 and December 2007 at four HMOs with integrated delivery systems, patients with an inpatient or outpatient VTE diagnosed within 2 years after cancer diagnosis and an outpatient purchase of warfarin, LMWH, and/or fondaparinux anticoagulant within 7 days of the VTE diagnosis were identified. First-line outpatient VTE pharmacological treatment and factors independently associated with receipt/non-receipt of LMWH monotherapy were assessed.
Results.
Overall, 25% of the 1,089 eligible patients received LMWH monotherapy as primary VTE treatment. The percentage increased steadily over time from 18% among patients diagnosed in 2000 to 31% among those diagnosed in 2007. Factors associated with LMWH monotherapy included VTE diagnosis year, chemotherapy within 60 days prior to VTE diagnosis, history of VTE prior to cancer diagnosis, and invasive surgery in the 90 days following VTE diagnosis. Colorectal and prostate cancer patients versus lung cancer patients and stage III versus stage IV patients were less likely to be treated with LMWH monotherapy.
Conclusions.
Adoption of LMWH monotherapy as initial treatment for cancer-associated VTE was low but increased steadily over the study period. Future studies should explore reasons underlying the underutilization of this preferred evidence-based treatment as well as the comparative effectiveness of LMWH versus warfarin-based anticoagulation in real-world cancer patients with VTE.
doi:10.1634/theoncologist.2011-0323
PMCID: PMC3316928  PMID: 22334451
Venous thromboembolism; Anticoagulants; Neoplasms; Ambulatory care
3.  Risk of Venous Thromboembolism in Patients with Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001275.
Venous thromboembolism in patients with cancer is common, but precise incidence rates in different cancers are not known, making it difficult to target prevention strategies. This study summarizes the existing literature to determine the risk of venous thromboembolism in high- and average-risk groups of patients with different cancers.
Background
People with cancer are known to be at increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), and this risk is believed to vary according to cancer type, stage of disease, and treatment modality. Our purpose was to summarise the existing literature to determine precisely and accurately the absolute risk of VTE in cancer patients, stratified by malignancy site and background risk of VTE.
Methods and Findings
We searched the Medline and Embase databases from 1 January 1966 to 14 July 2011 to identify cohort studies comprising people diagnosed with one of eight specified cancer types or where participants were judged to be representative of all people with cancer. For each included study, the number of patients who developed clinically apparent VTE, and the total person-years of follow-up were extracted. Incidence rates of VTE were pooled across studies using the generic inverse variance method. In total, data from 38 individual studies were included. Among average-risk patients, the overall risk of VTE was estimated to be 13 per 1,000 person-years (95% CI, 7 to 23), with the highest risk among patients with cancers of the pancreas, brain, and lung. Among patients judged to be at high risk (due to metastatic disease or receipt of high-risk treatments), the risk of VTE was 68 per 1,000 person-years (95% CI, 48 to 96), with the highest risk among patients with brain cancer (200 per 1,000 person-years; 95% CI, 162 to 247). Our results need to be considered in light of high levels of heterogeneity, which exist due to differences in study population, outcome definition, and average duration of follow-up between studies.
Conclusions
VTE occurs in greater than 1% of cancer patients each year, but this varies widely by cancer type and time since diagnosis. The absolute VTE risks obtained from this review can aid in clinical decision-making about which people with cancer should receive anticoagulant prophylaxis and at what times.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
A venous thrombosis is the medical term for a blood clot that forms in a vein, often completely blocking the vessel. The most common type is a deep vein thrombosis of the lower leg, which apart from causing pain and immobility, can break off (embolize), flow through the blood stream back to the heart, get caught in one of the blood vessels supplying the lungs, and cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. The term venous thromboembolism (VTE) refers to both a deep venous thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism and is a common cause of death, responsible for at least 300,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. There are many risk factors for developing a VTE, including age, immobility, certain medications, and some conditions, such as cancer: an estimated 20% of deaths from VTE occur among patients with cancer, and importantly, cancer patients with VTE have a much higher risk of death than those who do not have a VTE. The increased risk of developing a VTE is due to the treatments and surgery involved in the management of cancer, in addition to the risks associated with the condition itself.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have suggested that certain types of cancer, such as brain and pancreatic cancer, are associated with an increased risk of developing a VTE, but to date, clinical guidelines recommend preventative treatment of VTE only for cancer patients during hospital admissions for medical treatment and surgery, not for those patients receiving outpatient care. In this study, the researchers systematically reviewed the available published evidence to quantify the risks of developing a VTE in patients with cancer according to the type of cancer, and to determine whether certain patient groups are at particularly high risk of developing a VTE.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a comprehensive keyword search of two medical literature databases to identify relevant studies published between 1966 and 2011. Then they examined these studies according to certain criteria, such as the type of study and the type of cancer: the researchers were specifically looking for cohort studies of adult patients with one of eight cancer types—breast, lung, colorectal, prostate, brain, bone, pancreatic, and hematologic (including all leukemias, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma). The selected studies also had to include follow-up of more than 30 days and VTE outcomes. Then the researchers categorized selected studies according to the risk of developing a VTE—the researchers judged high-risk patients to be those with metastatic disease or receiving certain types of high-risk treatments, and judged average-risk patients to be representative of all patients with a cancer diagnosis. The researchers then pooled all the data from these studies and did a separate statistical analysis for high and average risk and for each cancer type.
Using these methods, the researchers identified 7,274 potentially relevant articles, of which 46 reports from 38 individual cohorts met the criteria to be included in their review. Of the 38 cohorts, the researchers categorized 31 as high risk and seven as average risk. In the pooled analysis the researchers found that among average-risk patients, the overall risk of VTE was 13 per 1,000 person-years, with the highest risk among patients with cancers of the pancreas, brain, and lung. Among patients judged to be at high risk, the researchers found that the risk of VTE was 68 per 1,000 person-years, with the highest risk among patients with brain cancer (200 per 1,000 person-years).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the annual incidence rate of VTE in patients with cancer is between 0.5% and 20%, depending on the cancer type, background risk, and time since diagnosis. Cancers of the brain and pancreas have the highest risk of VTE for both high- and average-risk patient groups. Based on these more accurate data on the risks of VTE in different groups of cancer patients, future updates of clinical guidelines can now include more information about categories of risk to help guide clinicians when they make decisions about which patients should receive preventative treatment for VTE and when they should receive such treatment.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10. 1371/journal.pmed.1001275.
Wikipedia gives more information about VTE (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Information about VTE for patients and health professionals is available from the American Cancer Society, the US National Cancer Institute, and the UK-based thrombosis charity Lifeblood
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001275
PMCID: PMC3409130  PMID: 22859911
4.  Development and Evaluation of the Personal Patient Profile-Prostate (P3P), a Web-Based Decision Support System for Men Newly Diagnosed With Localized Prostate Cancer 
Background
Given that no other disease with the high incidence of localized prostate cancer (LPC) has so many treatments with so few certainties related to outcomes, many men are faced with assuming some responsibility for the treatment decision along with guidance from clinicians. Men strongly consider their own personal characteristics and other personal factors as important and influential to the decision. Clinical researchers have not developed or comprehensively investigated interventions to facilitate the insight and prioritizing of personal factors along with medical factors that are required of a man in preparation for the treatment decision.
Objectives
The purpose of this pilot study was to develop and evaluate the feasibility and usability of a Web-based decision support technology, the Personal Patient Profile-Prostate (P3P), in men newly diagnosed with LPC.
Methods
Use cases were developed followed by infrastructure and content application. The program was provided on a personal desktop computer with a touch screen monitor. Participant responses to the query component of P3P determined the content of the multimedia educational and coaching intervention. The intervention was tailored to race, age, and personal factors reported as influencing the decision. Prepilot usability testing was conducted using a “think aloud” interview to identify navigation and content challenges. These issues were addressed prior to deployment in the clinic. A clinical pilot was conducted in an academic medical center where men sought consultation and treatment for LPC. Completion time, missing data, and acceptability were measured.
Results
Prepilot testing included 4 men with a past diagnosis of LPC who had completed therapy. Technical navigation issues were documented along with confusing content language. A total of 30 additional men with a recent diagnosis of LPC completed the P3P program in clinic prior to consulting with a urologist regarding treatment options. In a mean time of 46 minutes (SD 13 minutes), participants completed the P3P query and intervention components. Of a possible 4560 items for 30 participants, 22 (0.5%) were missing. Acceptability was reported as high overall. The sections of the intervention reported as most useful were the statistics graphs, priority information topics, and annotated external website links.
Conclusions
The P3P intervention is a feasible and usable program to facilitate treatment decision making by men with newly diagnosed LPC. Testing in a multisite randomized trial with a diverse sample is warranted.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1576
PMCID: PMC3056527  PMID: 21169159
Prostate cancer; decision making; computer-assisted; pilot study
5.  Developing cartoons for long-term condition self-management information 
Background
Advocating the need to adopt more self-management policies has brought with it an increasing demand for information about living with and making decisions about long-term conditions, with a significant potential for using cartoons. However, the purposeful use of cartoons is notably absent in many areas of health care as is evidence of their acceptability to patients and lay others. This paper outlines the process used to develop and evaluate cartoons and their acceptability for a series of self-management guidebooks for people with inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Methods
Principles for a process to develop information and cartoons were developed. Cartoon topics were created using qualitative research methods to obtain lay views and experiences. The CKD guidebook was used to provide a detailed exemplar of the process. Focus group and trial participants were recruited from primary care CKD registers. The book was part of a trial intervention; selected participants evaluated the cartoons during in-depth interviews which incorporated think-aloud methods.
Results
In general, the cartoons developed by this process depict patient experiences, common situations, daily management dilemmas, making decisions and choices and the uncertainties associated with conditions. CKD cartoons were developed following two focus groups around the themes of getting a diagnosis; understanding the problem; feeling that facts were being withheld; and setting priorities. Think-aloud interviews with 27 trial participants found the CKD cartoons invoked amusement, recognition and reflection but were sometimes difficult to interpret.
Conclusion
Humour is frequently utilised by people with long-term conditions to help adjustment and coping. Cartoons can help provide clarity and understanding and could address concerns related to health literacy. Using cartoons to engage and motivate people is a consideration untapped by conventional theories with the potential to improve information to support self-management.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-60
PMCID: PMC3945740  PMID: 24507692
Patient information; Cartoons; Health literacy; Self-management; Long-term conditions
6.  The role of guidelines and the patient's life-style in GPs' management of hypercholesterolaemia 
Background
Recent Swedish and joint European guidelines on hyperlipidaemia stress the high coronary risk for patients with already established arterio-sclerotic disease (secondary prevention) or diabetes. For the remaining group, calculation of the ten-year risk for coronary events using the Framingham equation is suggested. There is evidence that use of and adherence to guidelines is incomplete and that tools for risk estimations are seldom used. Intuitive risk estimates are difficult and systematically biased. The purpose of the study was to examine how GPs use knowledge of guidelines in their decisions to recommend or not recommend a cholesterol-lowering drug and the reasons for their decisions.
Methods
Twenty GPs were exposed to six case vignettes presented on a computer. In the course of six screens, successively more information was added to the case. The doctors were instructed to think aloud while processing the cases (Think-Aloud Protocols) and finally to decide for or against drug treatment. After the six cases they were asked to describe how they usually reason when they meet patients with high cholesterol values (Free-Report Protocols). The two sets of protocols were coded for cause-effect relations that were supposed to reflect the doctors' knowledge of guidelines. The Think-Aloud Protocols were also searched for reasons for the decisions to prescribe or not to prescribe.
Results
According to the protocols, the GPs were well aware of the importance of previous coronary heart disease and diabetes in their decisions. On the other hand, only a few doctors mentioned other arterio-sclerotic diseases like stroke and peripheral artery disease as variables affecting their decisions. There were several instances when the doctors' decisions apparently deviated from their knowledge of the guidelines. The arguments for the decisions in these cases often concerned aspects of the patient's life-style like smoking or overweight- either as risk-increasing factors or as alternative strategies for intervention.
Conclusions
Coding verbal protocols for knowledge and for decision arguments seems to be a valuable tool for increasing our understanding of how guidelines are used in the on treatment of hypercholesterolaemia. By analysing arguments for treatment decisions it was often possible to understand why departures from the guidelines were made. While the need for decision support is obvious, the current guidelines may be too simple in some respects.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-5-3
PMCID: PMC394323  PMID: 15113452
7.  Evaluating patient values and preferences for thromboprophylaxis decision making during pregnancy: a study protocol 
Background
Pregnant women with prior venous thromboembolism (VTE) are at risk of recurrence. Low molecular weight heparin (LWMH) reduces the risk of pregnancy-related VTE. LMWH prophylaxis is, however, inconvenient, uncomfortable, costly, medicalizes pregnancy, and may be associated with increased risks of obstetrical bleeding. Further, there is uncertainty in the estimates of both the baseline risk of pregnancy-related recurrent VTE and the effects of antepartum LMWH prophylaxis. The values and treatment preferences of pregnant women, crucial when making recommendations for prophylaxis, are currently unknown. The objective of this study is to address this gap in knowledge.
Methods
We will perform a multi-center cross-sectional interview study in Canada, USA, Norway and Finland. The study population will consist of 100 women with a history of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE), and who are either pregnant, planning pregnancy, or may in the future consider pregnancy (women between 18 and 45 years). We will exclude individuals who are on full dose anticoagulation or thromboprophylaxis, who have undergone surgical sterilization, or whose partners have undergone vasectomy. We will determine each participant's willingness to receive LMWH prophylaxis during pregnancy through direct choice exercises based on real life and hypothetical scenarios, preference-elicitation using a visual analog scale (“feeling thermometer”), and a probability trade-off exercise. The primary outcome will be the minimum reduction (threshold) in VTE risk at which women change from declining to accepting LMWH prophylaxis. We will explore possible determinants of this choice, including educational attainment, the characteristics of the women’s prior VTE, and prior experience with LMWH. We will determine the utilities that women place on the burden of LMWH prophylaxis, pregnancy-related DVT, pregnancy-related PE and pregnancy-related hemorrhage. We will generate a “personalized decision analysis” using participants’ utilities and their personalized risk of recurrent VTE as inputs to a decision analytic model. We will compare the personalized decision analysis to the participant’s stated choice.
Discussion
The preferences of pregnant women at risk of VTE with respect to the use of antithrombotic therapy remain unexplored. This research will provide explicit, quantitative expressions of women's valuations of health states related to recurrent VTE and its prevention with LMWH. This information will be crucial for both guideline developers and for clinicians.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-40
PMCID: PMC3495041  PMID: 22646475
8.  Professional Uncertainty and Disempowerment Responding to Ethnic Diversity in Health Care: A Qualitative Study 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e323.
Background
While ethnic disparities in health and health care are increasing, evidence on how to enhance quality of care and reduce inequalities remains limited. Despite growth in the scope and application of guidelines on “cultural competence,” remarkably little is known about how practising health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities. Using cancer care as a clinical context, we aimed to explore this with a range of health professionals to inform interventions to enhance quality of care.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a qualitative study involving 18 focus groups with a purposeful sample of 106 health professionals of differing disciplines, in primary and secondary care settings, working with patient populations of varying ethnic diversity in the Midlands of the UK. Data were analysed by constant comparison and we undertook processes for validation of analysis. We found that, as they sought to offer appropriate care, health professionals wrestled with considerable uncertainty and apprehension in responding to the needs of patients of ethnicities different from their own. They emphasised their perceived ignorance about cultural difference and were anxious about being culturally inappropriate, causing affront, or appearing discriminatory or racist. Professionals' ability to think and act flexibly or creatively faltered. Although trying to do their best, professionals' uncertainty was disempowering, creating a disabling hesitancy and inertia in their practice. Most professionals sought and applied a knowledge-based cultural expertise approach to patients, though some identified the risk of engendering stereotypical expectations of patients. Professionals' uncertainty and disempowerment had the potential to perpetuate each other, to the detriment of patient care.
Conclusions
This study suggests potential mechanisms by which health professionals may inadvertently contribute to ethnic disparities in health care. It identifies critical opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively. Interventions should help professionals acknowledge their uncertainty and its potential to create inertia in their practice. A shift away from a cultural expertise model toward a greater focus on each patient as an individual may help.
From a qualitative study, Joe Kai and colleagues have identified opportunities to empower health professionals to respond more effectively to challenges in their work with patients from diverse ethnic communities.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Communities are increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity (belonging to a group of people defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin) and race (belonging to a group identified by inherited physical characteristics). Although health professionals and governments are striving to ensure that everybody has the same access to health care, there is increasing evidence of ethnic inequalities in health-care outcomes. Some of these inequalities reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—Ashkenazi Jews, for example, often carry an altered gene that increases their chance of developing aggressive breast cancer. Often, however, these differences reflect inequalities in the health care received by different ethnic groups. To improve this situation, “cultural competence” has been promoted over recent years. Cultural competence is the development of skills by individuals and organizations that allow them to work effectively with people from different cultures. Health professionals are now taught about ethnic differences in health beliefs and practices, religion, and communication styles to help them provide the best service to all their patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
Numerous guidelines aim to improve cultural competency but little is known about how health professionals experience and perceive their work with patients from diverse ethnic groups. Is their behavior influenced by ethnicity in ways that might contribute to health care disparities? For example, do doctors sometimes avoid medical examinations for fear of causing offence because of cultural differences? If more were known about how health professionals handle ethnic diversity (a term used here to include both ethnicity and race) it might be possible to reduce ethnic inequalities in health care. In this qualitative study, the researchers have explored how health professionals involved in cancer care are affected by working with ethnically diverse patients. A qualitative study is one that collects nonquantitative data such as how doctors “feel” about treating people of different ethnic backgrounds; a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes in different ethnic groups.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 106 doctors, nurses, and other health-related professionals from different health-service settings in the Midlands, an ethnically diverse region of the UK. They organized 18 focus groups in which the health professionals described their experiences of caring for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. The participants were encouraged to recall actual cases and to identify what they saw as problems and strengths in their interactions with these patients. The researchers found that the health professionals wrestled with many challenges when providing health care for patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. These challenges included problems with language and with general communication (for example, deciding when it was acceptable to touch a patient to show empathy). Health professionals also worried they did not know enough about cultural differences. As a result, they said they often felt uncertain of their ability to avoid causing affront or appearing racist. This uncertainty, the researchers report, disempowered the health professionals, sometimes making them hesitate or fail to do what was best for their patient.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal that health professionals often experience considerable uncertainty when caring for ethnically diverse patients, even after training in cultural competency. They also show that this uncertainty can lead to hesitancy and inertia, which might contribute to ethnic health care inequalities. Because the study participants were probably already interested in ethnic diversity and health care, interviews with other health professionals (and investigations of patient experiences) are needed to confirm these findings. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest several interventions that might reduce health care inequalities caused by ethnic diversity. For example, health professionals should be encouraged to recognize their uncertainty and should have access to more information and training about ethnic differences. In addition, there should be a shift in emphasis away from relying on knowledge-based cultural information towards taking an “ethnographic” approach. In other words, health professionals should be helped to feel able to ask their patients about what matters most to them as individuals about their illness and treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323.
Information on cultural competence and health care is available from the US National Center for Cultural Competence (in English and Spanish) and DiversityRx
PROCEED (Professionals Responding to Cancer in Ethnic Diversity) is a multimedia training tool for educators within the health and allied professions developed from the results of this study; a press release on PROCEED is available from the University of Nottingham
Transcultural Health Care Practice: An educational resource for nurses and health care practitioners is available on the web site of the UK Royal College of Nursing
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040323
PMCID: PMC2071935  PMID: 18001148
9.  Doctors accessing mental-health services: an exploratory study 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000017.
Objective
To develop a more in-depth understanding of how doctors do and do not access mental healthcare from the perspectives of doctors themselves and people they have contact with through the process.
Design
Qualitative methodology was used with semistructured interviews transcribed and analysed using Grounded Theory. Participants were 11 doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, four doctor and four non-doctor personal contacts (friends, family and colleagues) and eight treating psychiatrists.
Results
Participants described experiencing unrealistic expectations and a harsh work environment with poor self care and denial and minimisation of signs of mental health difficulties. Doctor contacts described particular difficulty in responding effectively to doctor friends, family and colleagues in need of mental healthcare. In contrast, non-doctor personal contacts were more able to identify and speak about concerns but not necessarily to enable accessing adequate mental-health services.
Conclusions
Three areas with potential to address in supporting doctors' accessing of appropriate healthcare have been identified: (1) processes to enable doctors to maintain high standards of functioning with less use of minimisation and denial; (2) improving the quality and effectiveness of informal doctor-to-doctor conversations about mental-health issues among themselves; (3) role of non-doctor support people in identifying doctors' mental-health needs and enabling their access to mental healthcare. Further research in all these areas has the potential to contribute to improving doctors' access to appropriate mental healthcare and may be of value for the general population.
Article summary
Article focus
Doctors' accessment of adequate mental healthcare is less than optimal.
Family and community contacts have an important role in accessing mental healthcare.
Our understanding of the processes related to doctors accessing mental healthcare can be improved by exploring perspectives of doctor patients, their support people and treating psychiatrists.
Key messages
Doctors' unrealistic expectations of themselves and associated minimisation and denial of a range of self care needs may function as a barrier to accessing mental healthcare.
Addressing how doctors respond to other doctors in informal conversations indicating mental healthcare needs may be helpful in improving access to care.
Non-doctor support people may have a valuable role in enabling doctors to access appropriate mental healthcare.
All these areas need further research.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study of its kind and generates new insights in an important area.
Because of challenges in recruiting doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, a hard-to-reach group, the sample is small and not broadly representative.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000017
PMCID: PMC3191385  PMID: 22021726
Child & adolescent psychiatry; adult psychiatry; physicians' health; accessing healthcare; impaired physician; mental health
10.  Psychosocial Factors That Shape Patient and Carer Experiences of Dementia Diagnosis and Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001331.
A systematic review of qualitative studies conducted by Frances Bunn and colleagues identifies and describes the experiences of patients and caregivers on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia.
Background
Early diagnosis and intervention for people with dementia is increasingly considered a priority, but practitioners are concerned with the effects of earlier diagnosis and interventions on patients and caregivers. This systematic review evaluates the qualitative evidence about how people accommodate and adapt to the diagnosis of dementia and its immediate consequences, to guide practice.
Methods and Findings
We systematically reviewed qualitative studies exploring experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia, and their carers, around diagnosis and the transition to becoming a person with dementia. We searched PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, CINAHL, and the British Nursing Index (all searched in May 2010 with no date restrictions; PubMed search updated in February 2012), checked reference lists, and undertook citation searches in PubMed and Google Scholar (ongoing to September 2011). We used thematic synthesis to identify key themes, commonalities, barriers to earlier diagnosis, and support identified as helpful. We identified 126 papers reporting 102 studies including a total of 3,095 participants. Three overarching themes emerged from our analysis: (1) pathways through diagnosis, including its impact on identity, roles, and relationships; (2) resolving conflicts to accommodate a diagnosis, including the acceptability of support, focusing on the present or the future, and the use or avoidance of knowledge; and (3) strategies and support to minimise the impact of dementia. Consistent barriers to diagnosis include stigma, normalisation of symptoms, and lack of knowledge. Studies report a lack of specialist support particularly post-diagnosis.
Conclusions
There is an extensive body of qualitative literature on the experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia. We present a thematic analysis that could be useful to professionals working with people with dementia. We suggest that research emphasis should shift towards the development and evaluation of interventions, particularly those providing support after diagnosis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Dementia is a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer disease is the most common type of dementia. People with dementia usually have problems with two or more cognitive functions—thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment. Dementia is rare before the age of 65, but about a quarter of people over 85 have dementia. Because more people live longer these days, the number of patients with dementia is increasing. It is estimated that today between 40 and 50 million people live with dementia worldwide. By 2050, this number is expected to triple.
One way to study what dementia means to patients and their carers (most often spouses or other family members) is through qualitative research. Qualitative research aims to develop an in-depth understanding of individuals' experiences and behavior, as well as the reasons for their feelings and actions. In qualitative studies, researchers interview patients, their families, and doctors. When the studies are published, they usually contain direct quotations from interviews as well as summaries by the scientists who designed the interviews and analyzed the responses.
Why Was This Study Done?
This study was done to better understand the experiences and attitudes of patients and their carers surrounding dementia diagnosis. It focused on patients who lived and were cared for within the community (as opposed to people living in senior care facilities or other institutions). Most cases of dementia are progressive, meaning symptoms get worse over time. Diagnosis often happens at an advanced stage of the disease, and some patients never receive a formal diagnosis. This could have many possible reasons, including unawareness or denial of symptoms by patients and people close to them. The study was also trying to understand barriers to early diagnosis and what type of support is useful for newly diagnosed patients and carers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a systematic search for published qualitative research studies that reported on the experience, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes surrounding dementia diagnosis. They identified and reviewed 102 such studies. Among the quotations and summaries of the individual studies, they looked for prominent and recurring themes. They also compared and contrasted the respective experiences of patients and carers.
Overall, they found that the complexity and variety of responses to a diagnosis of dementia means that making the diagnosis and conveying it to patients and carers is challenging. Negative connotations associated with dementia, inconsistent symptoms, and not knowing enough about the signs and symptoms were commonly reported barriers to early dementia diagnosis. It was often the carer who initiated the search for help from a doctor, and among patients, willingness and readiness to receive a diagnosis varied. Being told one had dementia had a big impact on a patient's identity and often caused feelings of loss, anger, fear, and frustration. Spouses had to adjust to increasingly unequal relationships and the transition to a role as carer. The strain associated with this often caused health problems in the carers as well. On the other hand, studies examining the experience of couples often reported that they found ways to continue working together as a team.
Adjusting to a dementia diagnosis is a complex process. Initially, most patients and carers experienced conflicts, for example, between autonomy and safety, between recognizing the need for help but reluctance to accept it, or between living in the present and dealing with anxiety about and preparing for the future. As these were resolved and as the disease progressed, the attitudes of patients and carers towards dementia often became more balanced and accepting. Many patients and their families adopted strategies to cope with the impact of dementia on their lives in order to manage the disease and maintain some sort of normal life. These included practical strategies involving reminders, social strategies such as relying on family support, and emotional strategies such as using humor. At some point many patients and carers reported that they were able to adopt positive mindsets and incorporate dementia in their lives.
The studies also pointed to an urgent need for support from outside the family, both right after diagnosis and subsequently. General practitioners and family physicians have important roles in helping patients and carers to get access to information, social and psychological support, and community care. The need for information was reported to be ongoing and varied, and meeting it required a variety of sources and formats. Key needs for patients and carers mentioned in the studies include information on financial aids and entitlements early on, and continued access to supportive professionals and specialists.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Qualitative studies to date on how patients and carers respond to a diagnosis of dementia provide a fairly detailed picture of their experiences. The summary provided here should help professionals to understand better the challenges patients and carers face around the time of diagnosis as well as their immediate and evolving needs. The results also suggest that future research should focus on the development and evaluation of ways to meet those needs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331.
Wikipedia has pages on dementia and qualitative research (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Alzheimer Europe, an umbrella organization of 34 Alzheimer associations from 30 countries across Europe, has a page on the different approaches to research
The UK Department of Health has pages on dementia, including guidelines for carers of people with dementia
MedlinePlus also has information about dementia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331
PMCID: PMC3484131  PMID: 23118618
11.  The Effect of Alternative Graphical Displays Used to Present the Benefits of Antibiotics for Sore Throat on Decisions about Whether to Seek Treatment: A Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000140.
In a randomized trial, Cheryl Carling and colleagues evaluate how people respond to different statistical presentations regarding the consequences of taking antibiotic treatment for sore throat.
Background
We conducted an Internet-based randomized trial comparing four graphical displays of the benefits of antibiotics for people with sore throat who must decide whether to go to the doctor to seek treatment. Our objective was to determine which display resulted in choices most consistent with participants' values.
Methods and Findings
This was the first of a series of televised trials undertaken in cooperation with the Norwegian Broadcasting Company. We recruited adult volunteers in Norway through a nationally televised weekly health program. Participants went to our Web site and rated the relative importance of the consequences of treatment using visual analogue scales (VAS). They viewed the graphical display (or no information) to which they were randomized and were asked to decide whether to go to the doctor for an antibiotic prescription. We compared four presentations: face icons (happy/sad) or a bar graph showing the proportion of people with symptoms on day three with and without treatment, a bar graph of the average duration of symptoms, and a bar graph of proportion with symptoms on both days three and seven. Before completing the study, all participants were shown all the displays and detailed patient information about the treatment of sore throat and were asked to decide again. We calculated a relative importance score (RIS) by subtracting the VAS scores for the undesirable consequences of antibiotics from the VAS score for the benefit of symptom relief. We used logistic regression to determine the association between participants' RIS and their choice. 1,760 participants completed the study. There were statistically significant differences in the likelihood of choosing to go to the doctor in relation to different values (RIS). Of the four presentations, the bar graph of duration of symptoms resulted in decisions that were most consistent with the more fully informed second decision. Most participants also preferred this presentation (38%) and found it easiest to understand (37%). Participants shown the other three presentations were more likely to decide to go to the doctor based on their first decision than everyone based on the second decision. Participants preferred the graph using faces the least (14.4%).
Conclusions
For decisions about going to the doctor to get antibiotics for sore throat, treatment effects presented by a bar graph showing the duration of symptoms helped people make decisions more consistent with their values than treatment effects presented as graphical displays of proportions of people with sore throat following treatment.
Clinical Trials Registration
ISRCTN58507086
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In the past, patients usually believed that their doctor knew what was best for them and that they had little say in deciding what treatment they would receive. But many modern interventions have complex trade-offs. Patients' opinions about the relative desirability of the possible outcomes of health care interventions depend on their lifestyle and expectations, and these “values” need to be considered when making decisions about medical treatments. Consequently, shared decision-making is increasingly superseding the traditional, paternalistic approach to medical decision-making. In shared decision-making, health care professionals talk to their patients about the risks and benefits of the various treatment options, and patients tell the health care professionals what they expect and/or require from their treatment.
Why Was This Study Done?
Shared decision-making can only succeed if patients know about the treatment options that are available for their medical condition and understand the consequences of each option. But how does the presentation of information about treatment options to patients affect their decisions? In 2002, a series of internet-based randomized trials (studies in which participants are randomly allocated to different “treatment” groups) called the Health Information Project: Presentation Online (HIPPO) was initiated to answer this question. Here, the researchers describe HIPPO 3, a trial that investigates how alternative graphical displays of the benefits of antibiotics for the treatment of sore throat affect whether people decide to seek treatment. In particular, the researchers ask which display results in people making a treatment decision most consistent with their values, i.e., in terms of the relative importance to them of the treatment's desirable and undesirable outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Adult Norwegians recruited through a television health program numerically rated the importance of symptom relief and of several negative consequences (for example, side effects) of antibiotic treatment for sore throat on the trial's Web site. Relative importance scores (which indicate the participants' values) were calculated for each participant by subtracting their ratings for the importance of the negative consequences of seeking antibiotic treatment from his or her rating for the importance of symptom relief. The participants were then asked to decide whether to visit a doctor for antibiotics without receiving any further information or after being shown one of four graphical displays illustrating the benefits of antibiotic treatment. Two bar charts and one display of happy- and sad-face icons showed the proportion of people with symptoms at specific times after sore throat onset with and without treatment. A third bar chart indicated symptom duration with and without antibiotics. Finally, all the participants were shown all the displays and other information about sore throat and were asked to decide again about seeking treatment. The researchers found a clear association between the participants' values and the likelihood of their deciding to go to the doctor, and this likelihood depended on which graphical display the participants saw. People shown information on the proportion of patients with symptoms were more likely to decide to visit a doctor than those shown information on symptom duration. Furthermore, first decisions reached after being given information on symptom duration or no information were more consistent with the fully informed second decision than first decisions reached after seeing the other displays.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, for people considering whether to seek antibiotic treatment for sore throat, a bar graph showing the duration of symptoms is more likely to help them make a decision that is consistent with their own values than a bar chart showing the proportions of people with sore throat following treatment. The researchers also found that the bar chart showing symptom duration was preferred by more of the participants than any of the other representations. Whether these results can be applied to other health care decisions or in other settings is not known. However, the researchers suggest that these findings may be most relevant to treatments that, like antibiotic treatment of sore throat, have a short-lived benefit and relatively important downsides.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000140.
A PLoS Medicine Editorial discusses this trial and the results of another HIPPO trial that are presented in a separate PLoS Medicine Research Article by Carling et al.; details of a pilot HIPPO trial are also available
The Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (a US-based nonprofit organization) provides information on many aspects of medical decision making
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center provides information to help people make health care decisions through its Center for Shared Decision Making
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute provides information on patient decision aids, including an inventory of decision aids available on the Web (in English and French)
MedlinePlus provides links to information and advice about sore throat (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000140
PMCID: PMC2726763  PMID: 19707579
12.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Background
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Conclusions
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498.
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
13.  Physician Awareness of Drug Cost: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(9):e283.
Background
Pharmaceutical costs are the fastest-growing health-care expense in most developed countries. Higher drug costs have been shown to negatively impact patient outcomes. Studies suggest that doctors have a poor understanding of pharmaceutical costs, but the data are variable and there is no consistent pattern in awareness. We designed this systematic review to investigate doctors' knowledge of the relative and absolute costs of medications and to determine the factors that influence awareness.
Methods and Findings
Our search strategy included The Cochrane Library, EconoLit, EMBASE, and MEDLINE as well as reference lists and contact with authors who had published two or more articles on the topic or who had published within 10 y of the commencement of our review. Studies were included if: either doctors, trainees (interns or residents), or medical students were surveyed; there were more than ten survey respondents; cost of pharmaceuticals was estimated; results were expressed quantitatively; there was a clear description of how authors defined “accurate estimates”; and there was a description of how the true cost was determined. Two authors reviewed each article for eligibility and extracted data independently. Cost accuracy outcomes were summarized, but data were not combined in meta-analysis because of extensive heterogeneity. Qualitative data related to physicians and drug costs were also extracted. The final analysis included 24 articles. Cost accuracy was low; 31% of estimates were within 20% or 25% of the true cost, and fewer than 50% were accurate by any definition of cost accuracy. Methodological weaknesses were common, and studies of low methodological quality showed better cost awareness. The most important factor influencing the pattern and accuracy of estimation was the true cost of therapy. High-cost drugs were estimated more accurately than inexpensive ones (74% versus 31%, Chi-square p < 0.001). Doctors consistently overestimated the cost of inexpensive products and underestimated the cost of expensive ones (binomial test, 89/101, p < 0.001). When asked, doctors indicated that they want cost information and feel it would improve their prescribing but that it is not accessible.
Conclusions
Doctors' ignorance of costs, combined with their tendency to underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of inexpensive ones, demonstrate a lack of appreciation of the large difference in cost between inexpensive and expensive drugs. This discrepancy in turn could have profound implications for overall drug expenditures. Much more focus is required in the education of physicians about costs and the access to cost information. Future research should focus on the accessibility and reliability of medical cost information and whether the provision of this information is used by doctors and makes a difference to physician prescribing. Additionally, future work should strive for higher methodological standards to avoid the biases we found in the current literature, including attention to the method of assessing accuracy that allows larger absolute estimation ranges for expensive drugs.
From a review of data from 24 studies, Michael Allan and colleagues conclude that doctors often underestimate the price of expensive drugs and overestimate the price of those that are inexpensive.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Many medicines are extremely expensive, and the cost of buying them is a major (and increasing) proportion of the total cost of health care. Governments and health-care organizations try to find ways of keeping down costs without reducing the effectiveness of the health care they provide, but their efforts to control what is spent on medicines have not been very successful. There are often two or more equally effective drugs available for treating the same condition, and it would obviously help keep costs down if, when a doctor prescribes a medicine, he or she chose the cheapest of the effective drugs available. This choice could result in savings for whoever is paying for the drugs, be it the government, the patient, or a medical insurance organization.
Why Was This Study Done?
Doctors who prescribe drugs cannot be expected to know the exact cost of each drug on the market, but it would he helpful if they had some impression of the cost of a treatment and how the various alternatives compare in price. However, systems deciding how drugs are priced are often very complex. (This is particularly the case in the US.) The researchers wanted to find out how aware doctors are regarding drug costs and the difference between the alternatives. They also wanted to know what factors affected their awareness.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They decided to do a systematic review of all the research already conducted that addressed this issue so that the evidence from all of them could be considered together. In order to do such a review they had to specify precise requirements for the type of study that they would include and then comprehensively search the medical literature for such studies. They found 24 studies that met their requirements. From these studies, they concluded that doctors were usually not accurate when asked to estimate the cost of drugs; doctors came up with estimates that were within 25% of the true cost less than one-third of the time. In particular doctors tended to underestimate the cost of expensive drugs and overestimate the cost of the cheaper alternatives. A further analysis of the studies showed that many doctors said they would appreciate more accurate information on costs to help them choose which drugs to prescribe but that such information was not readily available.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers concluded that their systematic review demonstrates a lack of appreciation by prescribing doctors of the large difference in cost between inexpensive and expensive drugs, and that this finding has serious implications for overall spending on drugs. They call for more education and information to be provided to doctors on the cost of medicines together with better processes to help doctors in making such decisions.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040283.
A brief guide to systematic reviews has been published by the BMJ (British Medical Journal)
The Web site of the Cochrane Collaboration is a more detailed source of information on systematic reviews; in particular there is a newcomers' guide and information for health-care consumers
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, private operating foundation focusing on the major health care issues in the US, has a section on prescription drugs and their costs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040283
PMCID: PMC1989748  PMID: 17896856
14.  Cancer-associated thrombosis, low-molecular-weight heparin, and the patient experience: a qualitative study 
Background
Venous thromboembolism is a common complication of cancer and its treatments. Treatment of cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT) differs from treatment of thrombosis in noncancer patients, requiring a daily injection of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) for 6 months instead of an oral anticoagulant. Previous research suggested LMWH is an acceptable intervention in the treatment of CAT, yet clinical practice and therapeutic opportunities have changed in the decade since the study was conducted. Furthermore, in the previous study there was acknowledged selection bias in participant recruitment. There is increasing clinical use of the novel oral anticoagulants, although their efficacy and safety is yet to be demonstrated within the cancer population. The experience of patients receiving anticoagulation for CAT will inform future practice with respect to quality of life and adherence to anticoagulation therapy.
Aim
To explore the acceptability of long-term LMWH for the treatment of CAT in the contexts of living with cancer and quality of life.
Design
Qualitative study of cancer patients who had been receiving LMWH for at least 3 months for CAT was undertaken. Audiotaped semistructured interviews were conducted and transcribed. Thematic analysis was undertaken until theoretical saturation.
Setting/participants
Fourteen patients attending a palliative care or CAT clinic were interviewed. Participants had been receiving LMWH for a median 6 months.
Results
Participants reported distressing symptoms associated with symptomatic CAT, which they rated as worse than their cancer experiences. LMWH was considered an acceptable intervention despite challenges of long-term injections. Several adaptive techniques were reported to optimize ongoing injections. Participants would only favor a novel oral anticoagulant if it was equivalent to LMWH in efficacy and safety.
Conclusion
Although LMWH remains an acceptable intervention for the treatment of CAT, its long-term use is associated with bruising and deterioration of injection sites. These are considered an acceptable trade-off against their strongly negative experiences of symptomatic venous thromboembolism.
doi:10.2147/PPA.S58595
PMCID: PMC3986276  PMID: 24748774
venous thromboembolism; qualitative; experience; cancer; NOAC; acceptability; quality of life
15.  Current and Former Smoking and Risk for Venous Thromboembolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(9):e1001515.
In a meta-analysis of 32 observational studies involving 3,966,184 participants and 35,151 events, Suhua Wu and colleagues found that current, ever, and former smoking was associated with risk of venous thromboembolism.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Smoking is a well-established risk factor for atherosclerotic disease, but its role as an independent risk factor for venous thromboembolism (VTE) remains controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis to summarize all published prospective studies and case-control studies to update the risk for VTE in smokers and determine whether a dose–response relationship exists.
Methods and Findings
We performed a literature search using MEDLINE (source PubMed, January 1, 1966 to June 15, 2013) and EMBASE (January 1, 1980 to June 15, 2013) with no restrictions. Pooled effect estimates were obtained by using random-effects meta-analysis. Thirty-two observational studies involving 3,966,184 participants and 35,151 VTE events were identified. Compared with never smokers, the overall combined relative risks (RRs) for developing VTE were 1.17 (95% CI 1.09–1.25) for ever smokers, 1.23 (95% CI 1.14–1.33) for current smokers, and 1.10 (95% CI 1.03–1.17) for former smokers, respectively. The risk increased by 10.2% (95% CI 8.6%–11.8%) for every additional ten cigarettes per day smoked or by 6.1% (95% CI 3.8%–8.5%) for every additional ten pack-years. Analysis of 13 studies adjusted for body mass index (BMI) yielded a relatively higher RR (1.30; 95% CI 1.24–1.37) for current smokers. The population attributable fractions of VTE were 8.7% (95% CI 4.8%–12.3%) for ever smoking, 5.8% (95% CI 3.6%–8.2%) for current smoking, and 2.7% (95% CI 0.8%–4.5%) for former smoking. Smoking was associated with an absolute risk increase of 24.3 (95% CI 15.4–26.7) cases per 100,000 person-years.
Conclusions
Cigarette smoking is associated with a slightly increased risk for VTE. BMI appears to be a confounding factor in the risk estimates. The relationship between VTE and smoking has clinical relevance with respect to individual screening, risk factor modification, and the primary and secondary prevention of VTE.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Blood normally flows throughout the human body, supplying its organs and tissues with oxygen and nutrients. But, when an injury occurs, proteins called clotting factors make the blood gel (coagulate) at the injury site. The resultant clot (thrombus) plugs the wound and prevents blood loss. Occasionally, a thrombus forms inside an uninjured blood vessel and partly or completely blocks the blood flow. Clot formation inside one of the veins deep within the body, usually in a leg, is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and can cause pain, swelling, and redness in the affected limb. DVT can be treated with drugs that stop the blood clot from getting larger (anticoagulants) but, if left untreated, part of the clot can break off and travel to the lungs, where it can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. DVT and pulmonary embolism are collectively known as venous thromboembolism (VTE). Risk factors for VTE include having an inherited blood clotting disorder, oral contraceptive use, prolonged inactivity (for example, during a long-haul plane flight), and having surgery. VTEs are present in about a third of all people who die in hospital and, in non-bedridden populations, about 10% of people die within 28 days of a first VTE event.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some but not all studies have reported that smoking is also a risk factor for VTE. A clear demonstration of a significant association (a relationship unlikely to have occurred by chance) between smoking and VTE might help to reduce the burden of VTE because smoking can potentially be reduced by encouraging individuals to quit smoking and through taxation policies and other measures designed to reduce tobacco consumption. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers examine the link between smoking and the risk of VTE in the general population and investigate whether heavy smokers have a higher risk of VTE than light smokers. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 32 observational studies (investigations that record a population's baseline characteristics and subsequent disease development) that provided data on smoking and VTE. Together, the studies involved nearly 4 million participants and recorded 35,151 VTE events. Compared with never smokers, ever smokers (current and former smokers combined) had a relative risk (RR) of developing VTE of 1.17. That is, ever smokers were 17% more likely to develop VTE than never smokers. For current smokers and former smokers, RRs were 1.23 and 1.10, respectively. Analysis of only studies that adjusted for body mass index (a measure of body fat and a known risk factor for conditions that affect the heart and circulation) yielded a slightly higher RR (1.30) for current smokers compared with never smokers. For ever smokers, the population attributable fraction (the proportional reduction in VTE that would accrue in the population if no one smoked) was 8.7%. Notably, the risk of VTE increased by 10.2% for every additional ten cigarettes smoked per day and by 6.1% for every additional ten pack-years. Thus, an individual who smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 40 years had a 26.7% higher risk of developing VTE than someone who had never smoked. Finally, smoking was associated with an absolute risk increase of 24.3 cases of VTE per 100,000 person-years.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that cigarette smoking is associated with a statistically significant, slightly increased risk for VTE among the general population and reveal a dose-relationship between smoking and VTE risk. They cannot prove that smoking causes VTE—people who smoke may share other unknown characteristics (confounding factors) that are actually responsible for their increased risk of VTE. Indeed, these findings identify body mass index as a potential confounding factor that might affect the accuracy of estimates of the association between smoking and VTE risk. Although the risk of VTE associated with smoking is smaller than the risk associated with some well-established VTE risk factors, smoking is more common (globally, there are 1.1 billion smokers) and may act synergistically with some of these risk factors. Thus, smoking behavior should be considered when screening individuals for VTE and in the prevention of first and subsequent VTE events.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001515.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on deep vein thrombosis (including an animation about how DVT causes pulmonary embolism), and information on pulmonary embolism
The UK National Health Service Choices website has information on deep vein thrombosis, including personal stories, and on pulmonary embolism; SmokeFree is a website provided by the UK National Health Service that offers advice on quitting smoking
The non-profit organization US National Blood Clot Alliance provides detailed information about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism for patients and professionals and includes a selection of personal stories about these conditions
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages)
Smokefree.gov, from the US National Cancer Institute, offers online tools and resources to help people quit smoking
MedlinePlus has links to further information about deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and the dangers of smoking (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001515
PMCID: PMC3775725  PMID: 24068896
16.  Impact of Venous Thromboembolism and Anticoagulation on Cancer and Cancer Survival 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2009;27(29):4902-4911.
Changes in the hemostatic system and chronic hemostatic activation are frequently observed in patients with cancer, even in the absence of venous thromboembolism (VTE). VTE is a leading cause of death among patients with cancer and contributes to long-term mortality in patients with early as well as advanced-stage cancer. Mounting evidence suggests that components of the clotting cascade and associated vascular factors play an integral part in tumor progression, invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis formation. Furthermore, there are intriguing in vitro and animal findings that anticoagulants, in particular the low molecular weight heparins (LMWHs), exert an antineoplastic effect through multiple mechanisms, including interference with tumor cell adhesion, invasion, metastasis formation, angiogenesis, and the immune system. Several relatively small randomized controlled clinical trials of anticoagulation as cancer therapy in patients without a VTE diagnosis have been completed. These comprise studies with LMWH, unfractionated heparin, and vitamin K antagonists, with overall encouraging but nonconclusive results and some limitations. Meta-analyses performed for the American Society of Clinical Oncology VTE Guidelines Committee and the Cochrane Collaboration suggest overall favorable effects of anticoagulation on survival of patients with cancer, mainly with LMWH. However, definitive clinical trials have been elusive and questions remain regarding the importance of tumor type and stage on treatment efficacy, the impact of fatal thromboembolic events, optimal anticoagulation therapy, and safety with differing chemotherapy regimens. Although the LMWHs and related agents hold promise for improving outcomes in patients with cancer, additional studies of their efficacy and safety in this setting are needed.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2009.22.4584
PMCID: PMC2799059  PMID: 19738120
17.  CATCH: a randomised clinical trial comparing long-term tinzaparin versus warfarin for treatment of acute venous thromboembolism in cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:284.
Background
Low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) is recommended and commonly used for extended treatment of cancer-associated thrombosis (CAT), but its superiority over warfarin has been demonstrated in only one randomised study. We report here the rationale, design and a priori analysis plans of Comparison of Acute Treatments in Cancer Haemostasis (CATCH; NCT01130025), a multinational, Phase III, open-label, randomised controlled trial comparing tinzaparin with warfarin for extended treatment of CAT.
Methods/Design
The primary objective is to assess the efficacy of tinzaparin in preventing recurrent venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with active cancer and acute, symptomatic proximal deep vein thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism. The secondary objectives are to determine: safety of tinzaparin given over 6 months; clinical and laboratory markers for recurrent VTE and/or major bleeding; 6-month overall mortality; incidence and severity of post-thrombotic syndrome; patient-reported quality of life; and healthcare resource utilisation. Nine hundred patients are randomised to receive tinzaparin 175 IU/kg once daily for 6 months or initial tinzaparin 175 IU/kg once daily for 5–10 days and dose-adjusted warfarin (target INR 2.0–3.0) for 6 months. The primary composite outcome is time to recurrent VTE, including incidental VTE and fatal pulmonary embolism. All patients are followed up to 6 months or death, whichever comes sooner. Blinded adjudication will be performed for all reported VTE, bleeding events and causes of death. Efficacy will be analysed using centrally adjudicated results of all patients according to intention-to-treat analysis. An independent Data Safety Monitoring Board is reviewing data at regular intervals and an interim analysis is planned after 450 patients have completed the study.
Discussion
The results will add significantly to the knowledge of the efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness of tinzaparin in the prevention of recurrent VTE in patients with cancer and thrombosis. Prospective data will emerge on the clinical significance of incidental VTE and risk stratification in patients with CAT. Results on post-thrombotic syndrome, quality of life and healthcare resource utilisation will inform decision makers on how to secure better patient care. If tinzaparin is shown to be more effective than warfarin, CATCH will provide valuable confirmatory data to support the use of the LMWH tinzaparin for extended treatment of CAT.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-284
PMCID: PMC3691586  PMID: 23764005
Venous thromboembolism; Cancer; LMWH; Tinzaparin; Warfarin; CATCH; Recurrent; Symptomatic; Incidental; Health-related quality of life
18.  How Evidence-Based Are the Recommendations in Evidence-Based Guidelines? 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e250.
Background
Treatment recommendations for the same condition from different guideline bodies often disagree, even when the same randomized controlled trial (RCT) evidence is cited. Guideline appraisal tools focus on methodology and quality of reporting, but not on the nature of the supporting evidence. This study was done to evaluate the quality of the evidence (based on consideration of its internal validity, clinical relevance, and applicability) underlying therapy recommendations in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
Methods and Findings
A cross-sectional analysis of cardiovascular risk management recommendations was performed for three different conditions (diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and hypertension) from three pan-national guideline panels (from the United States, Canada, and Europe). Of the 338 treatment recommendations in these nine guidelines, 231 (68%) cited RCT evidence but only 105 (45%) of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. RCT-based evidence was downgraded most often because of reservations about the applicability of the RCT to the populations specified in the guideline recommendation (64/126 cases, 51%) or because the RCT reported surrogate outcomes (59/126 cases, 47%).
Conclusions
The results of internally valid RCTs may not be applicable to the populations, interventions, or outcomes specified in a guideline recommendation and therefore should not always be assumed to provide high-quality evidence for therapy recommendations.
From an analysis of cardiovascular risk-management recommendations in guidelines produced by pan-national panels, McAlister and colleagues concluded that fewer than half were based on high-quality evidence.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Until recently, doctors largely relied on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with high blood pressure (hypertension), for example, the doctor had to decide whether to recommend lifestyle changes or to prescribe drugs to reduce the blood pressure. If he or she chose the latter, he or she then had to decide which drug to prescribe, set a target blood pressure, and decide how long to wait before changing the prescription if this target was not reached. But, over the past decade, numerous clinical practice guidelines have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations to help doctors make treatment decisions like these. For each guideline, experts have searched the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluated the quality of that evidence, and then made recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
The recommendations made in different clinical practice guidelines vary, in part because they are based on evidence of varying quality. To help clinicians decide which recommendations to follow, some guidelines indicate the strength of their recommendations by grading them, based on the methods used to collect the underlying evidence. Thus, a randomized clinical trial (RCT)—one in which patients are randomly allocated to different treatments without the patient or clinician knowing the allocation—provides higher-quality evidence than a nonrandomized trial. Similarly, internally valid trials—in which the differences between patient groups are solely due to their different treatments and not to other aspects of the trial—provide high-quality evidence. However, grading schemes rarely consider the size of studies and whether they have focused on clinical or so-called “surrogate” measures. (For example, an RCT of a treatment to reduce heart or circulation [“cardiovascular”] problems caused by high blood pressure might have death rate as a clinical measure; a surrogate endpoint would be blood pressure reduction.) Most guidelines also do not consider how generalizable (applicable) the results of a trial are to the populations, interventions, and outcomes specified in the guideline recommendation. In this study, the researchers have investigated the quality of the evidence underlying recommendations for cardiovascular risk management in nine evidence-based clinical practice guides using these additional criteria.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted the recommendations for managing cardiovascular risk from the current US, Canadian, and European guidelines for the management of diabetes, abnormal blood lipid levels (dyslipidemia), and hypertension. They graded the quality of evidence for each recommendation using the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) grading scheme, which considers the type of study, its internal validity, its clinical relevance, and how generally applicable the evidence is considered to be. Of 338 evidence-based recommendations, two-thirds were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, but only half of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. The evidence underlying 64 of the guideline recommendations failed to achieve a high CHEP grade because the RCT data were collected in a population of people with different characteristics to those covered by the guideline. For example, a recommendation to use spironolactone to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension was based on an RCT in which the participants initially had congestive heart failure with normal blood pressure. Another 59 recommendations were downgraded because they were based on evidence from RCTs that had not focused on clinical measures of effectiveness.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that although most of the recommendations for cardiovascular risk management therapies in the selected guidelines were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, less than one-third were based on high-quality evidence applicable to the populations, treatments, and outcomes specified in guideline recommendations. A limitation of this study is that it analyzed a subset of recommendations in only a few guidelines. Nevertheless, the findings serve to warn clinicians that evidence-based guidelines are not necessarily based on high-quality evidence. In addition, they emphasize the need to make the evidence base underlying guideline recommendations more transparent by using an extended grading system like the CHEP scheme. If this were done, the researchers suggest, it would help clinicians apply guideline recommendations appropriately to their individual patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040250.
• Wikipedia contains pages on evidence-based medicine and on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
• The National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on US national guidelines
• The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
• Information is available on the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) (in French and English)
• See information on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) working group, an organization that has developed an grading scheme similar to the CHEP scheme (in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040250
PMCID: PMC1939859  PMID: 17683197
19.  Using Think Aloud Protocols to Assess E-Prescribing in Community Pharmacies 
Innovations in pharmacy  2012;3(3):88-.
Introduction
Think aloud protocol has rarely been used as a method of data collection in community pharmacies.
Purpose
The aim of the report is to describe how think aloud protocols were used to identify issues that arise when using e-prescribing technology in pharmacies. In this paper, we report on the benefits and challenges of using think aloud protocols in pharmacies to examine the use of e-prescribing systems.
Methods
Sixteen pharmacists and pharmacy technicians were recruited from seven community pharmacies in Wisconsin. Data were collected using direct observation alongside think aloud protocol. Direct observations and think aloud protocols took place between January-February, 2011. Participants were asked to verbalize their thoughts as they process electronic prescriptions.
Results
Participants identify weaknesses in e-prescribing that they had previously not conceived. This created heightened awareness for vigilance when processing e-prescriptions. The main challenge with using think aloud protocols were interruptions in the pharmacy. Some participants found it difficult to remember to continue verbalizing during think aloud sessions.
Conclusion
The use of think aloud protocols as method of data collection is a new way for understanding the issues related to technology use in community pharmacy practice. Think aloud protocol was beneficial in providing objective information on e-prescribing not based on pharmacist’s or technician’s opinion of the technology. This method provided detailed information and also a wide variety of real time challenges with e-prescribing technology in community pharmacies. Using this data collection method can help identify potential patient safety issues when using e-prescribing and suggestions for redesign.
PMCID: PMC4031678  PMID: 24860689
Think aloud protocol; Electronic prescribing; Community pharmacy
20.  Thromboprophylaxis with low-molecular-weight heparin in medical patients with cancer 
Cancer  2009;115(24):5637-5650.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a frequent complication of cancer and cancer treatment and is associated with multiple clinical consequences including recurrent VTE, bleeding and an increase in risk of death. While the risks associated with VTE has been well recognized in surgical cancer patients, there is also considerable and increasing risk in medical cancer patients. VTE risk factors in medical cancer patients include the type and stage of cancer, major comorbid illnesses, current hospitalization, active chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and antiangiogenic agents. Low-molecular-weight heparins (LMWHs) are commonly recommended for the prevention of VTE in hospitalized cancer patients and higher-risk ambulatory cancer patients due to their favorable risk-to-benefit profile. These agents have been shown to be effective in both the primary and secondary prevention of VTE in medical cancer patients. Extended-duration anticoagulant therapy is often recommended to reduce the risk of VTE recurrence in patients with cancer. LMWHs are often utilized for long-term prophylaxis due to a reduced need for coagulation monitoring, few major bleeding episodes, and once-daily dosing. Despite clinical and practical benefits, a substantial proportion of medical cancer patients do not receive VTE prophylaxis. To improve the appropriate prevention and treatment of VTE in cancer patients, guidelines have been published recently by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. Widespread dissemination and application of these guidelines are encouraged to improve the appropriate use of these agents and improve clinical outcomes in medical cancer patients at risk for VTE and its complications.
Condensed abstract
To improve appropriate prevention of venous thromboembolism in cancer patients and clinical outcomes widespread dissemination and utilization of evidence-based guidelines such as those from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network are needed. Low-molecular-weight heparins are commonly recommended for the prevention of venous thromboembolism in hospitalized cancer patients and higher-risk ambulatory cancer patients.
doi:10.1002/cncr.24665
PMCID: PMC3714853  PMID: 19827150
venous thromboembolism; cancer; anticoagulation; low-molecular-weight heparin; prophylaxis
21.  Exploring Doctor–Patient Communication in Immigrant Australians with Type 2 Diabetes: A Qualitative Study 
OBJECTIVE
The study explored the perceptions of Australian immigrants about their interactions with doctors regarding the diagnosis, treatment, and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 men and women from Greek, Indian, Chinese, and Pacific Island backgrounds living in Melbourne, Australia, to elicit their perceptions of the management of diabetes and its impact. Participants were recruited through a convenience sample of general practitioners and community organizations providing support to people living with diabetes. Topics discussed included initial reaction to diagnosis, patient—health care provider communication, and the influence of message framing on the perception of the quality of the doctor–patient relationship. Transcripts were coded and analyzed by both authors.
RESULTS
Numerous issues facilitate or inhibit constructive and positive relationships between doctors and patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients reported difficulty in absorbing all the information provided to them at early consultations, and experienced difficulty comprehending the practical aspects of management. Styles of communication and discourses of normalization and catastrophe influenced participants’ responses.
CONCLUSION
Doctors face a complex task in encouraging behavioral change and adherence and establishing and maintaining a supportive relationship with patients. The timing and technical complexity of communication about diabetes, its management, and the prevention of complications require further attention.
doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0143-2
PMCID: PMC1829439  PMID: 17372793
qualitative study; Australian immigrants; doctor-patient communication; type 2 diabetes mellitus
22.  Exploring Doctor–Patient Communication in Immigrant Australians with Type 2 Diabetes: A Qualitative Study 
OBJECTIVE
The study explored the perceptions of Australian immigrants about their interactions with doctors regarding the diagnosis, treatment, and management of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 men and women from Greek, Indian, Chinese, and Pacific Island backgrounds living in Melbourne, Australia, to elicit their perceptions of the management of diabetes and its impact. Participants were recruited through a convenience sample of general practitioners and community organizations providing support to people living with diabetes. Topics discussed included initial reaction to diagnosis, patient—health care provider communication, and the influence of message framing on the perception of the quality of the doctor–patient relationship. Transcripts were coded and analyzed by both authors.
RESULTS
Numerous issues facilitate or inhibit constructive and positive relationships between doctors and patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients reported difficulty in absorbing all the information provided to them at early consultations, and experienced difficulty comprehending the practical aspects of management. Styles of communication and discourses of normalization and catastrophe influenced participants’ responses.
CONCLUSION
Doctors face a complex task in encouraging behavioral change and adherence and establishing and maintaining a supportive relationship with patients. The timing and technical complexity of communication about diabetes, its management, and the prevention of complications require further attention.
doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0143-2
PMCID: PMC1829439  PMID: 17372793
qualitative study; Australian immigrants; doctor-patient communication; type 2 diabetes mellitus
23.  Attitudes toward Infection Prophylaxis in Pediatric Oncology: A Qualitative Approach 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47815.
Background
The risks and benefits of infection prophylaxis are uncertain in children with cancer and thus, preferences should be considered in decision making. The purpose of this report was to describe the attitudes of parents, children and healthcare professionals to infection prophylaxis in pediatric oncology.
Methods
The study was completed in three phases: 1) An initial qualitative pilot to identify the main attributes influencing the decision to use infection prophylaxis, which were then incorporated into a discrete choice experiment; 2) A think aloud during the discrete choice experiment in which preferences for infection prophylaxis were elicited quantitatively; and 3) In-depth follow up interviews. Interviews were recorded verbatim and analyzed using an iterative, thematic analysis. Final themes were selected using a consensus approach.
Results
A total of 35 parents, 22 children and 28 healthcare professionals participated. All three groups suggested that the most important factor influencing their decision making was the effect of prophylaxis on reducing the chance of death. Themes of importance to the three groups included antimicrobial resistance, side effects of medications, the financial impact of outpatient prophylaxis and the route and schedule of administration.
Conclusion
Effect of prophylaxis on risk of death was a key factor in decision making. Other identified factors were antimicrobial resistance, side effects of medication, financial impact and administration details. Better understanding of factors driving decision making for infection prophylaxis will help facilitate future implementation of prophylactic regiments.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047815
PMCID: PMC3480391  PMID: 23112849
24.  Prevention and treatment of venous thromboembolism in patients with cancer 
Canadian Pharmacists Journal : CPJ  2012;145(1):24-29.e1.
Background: Many patients who experience a venous thromboembolic event have cancer, and thrombosis is much more prevalent in patients with cancer than in those without it. Thrombosis is the second most common cause of death in cancer patients and cancer is associated with a high rate of recurrence of venous thromboembolism (VTE), bleeding, requirement for long-term anticoagulation and poorer quality of life.
Methods: A literature review was conducted to identify guidelines and evidence pertaining to anticoagulation prophylaxis and treatment for patients with cancer, with the goal of identifying opportunities for pharmacists to advocate for and become more involved in the care of this population.
Results: Many clinical trials and several guidelines providing guidance to clinicians in the treatment and prevention of VTE in patients with cancer were identified. Current clinical evidence and guidelines suggest that cancer patients receiving care in hospital with no contraindications should receive VTE prophylaxis with unfractionated heparin (UFH), a low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) or fondaparinux. Patients who require surgery for their cancer should receive prophylaxis with UFH, LMWH or fondaparinux. Cancer patients who have experienced a VTE event should receive prolonged anticoagulant therapy with LMWH (at least 3 months to 6 months). No routine prophylaxis is required for the majority of ambulatory patients with cancer who have not experienced a VTE event. Most publicly funded drug plans in Canada have developed criteria for funding of LMWH therapy for patients with cancer.
Conclusions: Evidence suggests that LMWH for 3 to 6 months is the preferred strategy for most cancer patients who have experienced a thromboembolic event and for hospital inpatients, but this is often not implemented in practice. Concerns about adherence with injectable therapy should not prevent use of these agents. Pharmacists should assess cancer patients for their risk of VTE and should advocate for optimal VTE pharmacotherapy as appropriate. If LMWH is the preferred agent, on the basis of the evidence, the pharmacist should educate the patients appropriately and work with the prescriber to ensure best care.
doi:10.3821/1913-701X-145.1.24
PMCID: PMC3567538  PMID: 23509484
25.  The influence of self-owned home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) on primary care patients with hypertension: A qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:143.
Background
Home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) is gaining popularity among hypertensive patients. This study aimed to explore the influence of self-initiated HBPM on primary care patients with hypertension.
Methods
Six in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted, taking into consideration the experiences of 24 primary care patients with hypertension. These patients had been using HBPM as part of their hypertension management. The overriding influences were grouped under themes which emerged from analyzing the data using the grounded theory approach.
Results
There are both positive and negative influences of self-initiated HBPM. Patients used the readings of their HBPM to decide on many aspects of their hypertension management. The HBPM readings both influenced their adherence to diet and exercise and provided certain reassurance when they experienced symptoms. In addition, the act of discussing their HBPM readings with their health care providers resulted in an enhanced doctor-patient therapeutic relationship. Nevertheless, HBPM created confusion at times in some patients, particularly with regard to the target blood pressure level and the need for medication. This led to some patients making their own medical decisions based on their own standards.
Conclusions
HBPM is becoming an integral part of hypertension management. Primary care patients who self-initiated HBPM reported being more self-efficacious, but lack of participation and guidance from their doctors created confusion, and hindered the true benefit of HBPM.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-143
PMCID: PMC3271963  PMID: 22208768

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