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1.  Task Shifting for Scale-up of HIV Care: Evaluation of Nurse-Centered Antiretroviral Treatment at Rural Health Centers in Rwanda 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000163.
Fabienne Shumbusho and colleagues evaluate a task-shifting model of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment prescribing in rural primary health centers in Rwanda and find that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
Background
The shortage of human resources for health, and in particular physicians, is one of the major barriers to achieve universal access to HIV care and treatment. In September 2005, a pilot program of nurse-centered antiretroviral treatment (ART) prescription was launched in three rural primary health centers in Rwanda. We retrospectively evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of this task-shifting model using descriptive data.
Methods and Findings
Medical records of 1,076 patients enrolled in HIV care and treatment services from September 2005 to March 2008 were reviewed to assess: (i) compliance with national guidelines for ART eligibility and prescription, and patient monitoring and (ii) key outcomes, such as retention, body weight, and CD4 cell count change at 6, 12, 18, and 24 mo after ART initiation. Of these, no ineligible patients were started on ART and only one patient received an inappropriate ART prescription. Of the 435 patients who initiated ART, the vast majority had adherence and side effects assessed at each clinic visit (89% and 84%, respectively). By March 2008, 390 (90%) patients were alive on ART, 29 (7%) had died, one (<1%) was lost to follow-up, and none had stopped treatment. Patient retention was about 92% by 12 mo and 91% by 24 mo. Depending on initial stage of disease, mean CD4 cell count increased between 97 and 128 cells/µl in the first 6 mo after treatment initiation and between 79 and 129 cells/µl from 6 to 24 mo of treatment. Mean weight increased significantly in the first 6 mo, between 1.8 and 4.3 kg, with no significant increases from 6 to 24 mo.
Conclusions
Patient outcomes in our pilot program compared favorably with other ART cohorts in sub-Saharan Africa and with those from a recent evaluation of the national ART program in Rwanda. These findings suggest that nurses can effectively and safely prescribe ART when given adequate training, mentoring, and support.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a serious health problem in sub-Saharan Africa. The virus attacks white blood cells that protect against infection, most commonly a type of white blood cell called CD4. When a person has been infected with HIV for a long time, the number of CD4 cells they have goes down, resulting in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), in which the person's immune system no longer functions effectively.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has divided the disease into four stages as it progresses, according to symptoms including weight loss and so-called opportunistic infections. These are known as clinical stage I, II, III, or IV but were revised and renamed 1, 2, 3, and 4 in September 2005. HIV infection and AIDS cannot be cured but they can be managed with antiretroviral treatment (ART). The WHO currently recommends that ART is begun when the CD4 count falls below 350.
Rwanda is a country situated in the central Africa with a population of around 9 million inhabitants; over 3% of the rural population and 7% of the urban population are infected with HIV. In 2007, the WHO estimated that 220,000 Rwandan children had lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Why Was This Study Done?
The WHO estimates that 9.7 million people with HIV in low- to middle-income countries need ART but at the end of 2007, only 30% of these, including in Rwanda, had access to treatment. In many low-income countries a major factor in this is a lack of doctors. Rwanda, for example, has one doctor per 50,000 inhabitants and one nurse per 3,900 inhabitants.
This situation has led the WHO to recommend “task shifting,” i.e., that the task of prescribing ART should be shifted from doctors to nurses so that more patients can be treated. This type of reorganization is well studied in high-income countries, but the researchers wanted to help develop a system for treating AIDS that would be effective and timely in a predominantly rural, low-income setting such as Rwanda.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In conjunction with the Rwandan Ministry of Health, the researchers developed and piloted a task-shifting program, in which one nurse in each of three rural Rwandan primary health centers (PHCs) was trained to examine HIV patients and prescribe ART in simple cases. Nurses had to complete more than 50 consultations observed by the doctor before being permitted to consult patients independently. More complex cases were referred to a doctor. The authors developed standard checklists, instructions, and evaluation forms to guide nurses and the doctors who supervised them once a week.
The authors evaluated the pilot program by reviewing the records of 1,076 patients who enrolled on it between September 2005 and March 2008. They looked to see whether the nurses had followed guidelines and monitored the patients correctly. They also considered health outcomes for the patients, such as their death rate, their body weight, their CD4 cell count, and whether they maintained contact with caregivers.
They found that by March 2008, 451 patients had been eligible for ART. 435 received treatment and none of the patients were prescribed ART when they should not have been. Only one prescription did not follow national guidelines.
At every visit, nurses were supposed to assess whether patients were taking their drugs and to monitor side effects. They did this and maintained records correctly for the vast majority of the 435 patients who were prescribed ART. 390 patients (over 90%) of the 435 prescribed receiving ART continued to take it and maintain contact with the pilot PHC's program. 29 patients died. Only one was lost to follow up and the others transferred to another ART site. The majority gained weight in the first six months and their CD4 cell counts rose. Outcomes, including death rate, were similar to those treated on the (doctor-led) Rwandan national ART program and other sub-Saharan African national (doctor-led) programs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The study suggests that nurses are able to prescribe ART safely and effectively in a rural sub-Saharan setting, given sufficient training, mentoring, and support. Nurse-led prescribing of ART could mean that timely, appropriate treatment reaches many more HIV patients. It would reduce the burden of HIV care for doctors, freeing their time for other duties, and the study is already being used by the Rwandan Ministry of Health as a basis for plans to adopt a task-shifting strategy for the national ART program.
The study does have some limitations. The pilot program was funded and designed as a health project to deliver ART in rural areas, rather than a research project to compare nurse-led and doctor-led ART programs. There was no group of equivalent patients treated by doctors rather than nurses for direct comparison, although the authors did compare outcomes with those achieved nationally for doctor-led ART. The most promising sites, nurses, and patients were selected for the pilot and careful monitoring may have been an additional motivation for the nurses and doctors taking part. Health professionals in a scaled-up program may not be as committed as those in the pilot, who were carefully monitored. In addition, the nature of the pilot, which lasted for under three years and recruited new patients throughout, meant that patients were followed up for relatively short periods.
The authors also warn that they did not consider in this study the changes task shifting will make to doctors' roles and the skills required of both doctors and nurses. They recommend that task shifting should be implemented as part of a wider investment in health systems, human resources, training, adapted medical records, tools, and protocols.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000163.
PLoS Medicine includes a page collecting together its recent articles on HIV infection and AIDS that includes research articles, perspectives, editorials, and policy forums
SciDev.net provides news, views, and information about science, technology, and the developing world, including a section specific to HIV/AIDs
The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a downloadable booklet Task Shifting to Tackle Health Worker Shortages
The WHO offers information on HIV and AIDS (in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish) as well as health information and fact sheets on individual countries, including on Rwanda
The UNAIDS/WHO working group on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Surveillance gathers and publishes data on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS in individual countries, including on Rwanda
AIDS.ORG provides information to help prevent HIV infections and to improve the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS. Factsheets on many aspects of HIV and AIDS are available. It is the official online publisher of AIDS Treatment News
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000163
PMCID: PMC2752160  PMID: 19823569
2.  Medical records and issues in negligence 
It is very important for the treating doctor to properly document the management of a patient under his care. Medical record keeping has evolved into a science of itself. This will be the only way for the doctor to prove that the treatment was carried out properly. Moreover, it will also be of immense help in the scientific evaluation and review of patient management issues. Medical records form an important part of the management of a patient. It is important for the doctors and medical establishments to properly maintain the records of patients for two important reasons. The first one is that it will help them in the scientific evaluation of their patient profile, helping in analyzing the treatment results, and to plan treatment protocols. It also helps in planning governmental strategies for future medical care. But of equal importance in the present setting is in the issue of alleged medical negligence. The legal system relies mainly on documentary evidence in a situation where medical negligence is alleged by the patient or the relatives. In an accusation of negligence, this is very often the most important evidence deciding on the sentencing or acquittal of the doctor. With the increasing use of medical insurance for treatment, the insurance companies also require proper record keeping to prove the patient's demand for medical expenses. Improper record keeping can result in declining medical claims. It is disheartening to note that inspite of knowing the importance of proper record keeping it is still in a nascent stage in India. It is wise to remember that “Poor records mean poor defense, no records mean no defense”. Medical records include a variety of documentation of patient's history, clinical findings, diagnostic test results, preoperative care, operation notes, post operative care, and daily notes of a patient's progress and medications. A properly obtained consent will go a long way in proving that the procedures were conducted with the concurrence of the patient. A properly written operative note can protect a surgeon in case of alleged negligence due to operative complications. It is important that the prescription for drugs should be legible with the name of the patient, date, and the signature of the doctor. An undated prescription can land a doctor in trouble if the patient misuses it. There are also many records that are indirectly related to patient management such as accounts records, service records of the staff, and administrative records, which are also useful as evidences for litigation purposes. Medical recording needs the concerted effort of a number of people involved in patient care. The doctor is the prime person who has to oversee this process and is primarily responsible for history, physical examination, treatment plans, operative records, consent forms, medications used, referral papers, discharge records, and medical certificates. There should be proper recording of nursing care, laboratory data, reports of diagnostic evaluations, pharmacy records, and billing processes. This means that the paramedical and nursing staff also should be trained in proper maintenance of patient records. The medical scene in India extends from smaller clinics to large hospitals. Medical record keeping is a specialized area in bigger teaching and corporate hospitals with separate medical records officers handling these issues. However, it is yet to develop into a proper process in the large number of smaller clinics and hospitals that cater to a large section of the people in India.
doi:10.4103/0970-1591.56208
PMCID: PMC2779965  PMID: 19881136
Medical records; medical negligence
3.  Neurophobia among medical students and non-specialist doctors in Sri Lanka 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:164.
Background
Neurophobia is the fear of neurosciences held by medical students and doctors. The present study aims to identify whether Neurology is considered a difficult subject by medical students and non-specialist doctors from Sri Lanka and evaluate reasons for such perceived difficulties.
Methods
The study was conducted from May-June 2008. One hundred non-specialist doctors from the Colombo South Teaching Hospital and 150 medical students from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura were invited for the study. Data were collected by a pre-tested expert-validated self-administered questionnaire, designed to assess the degree of perceived difficulty, confidence, interest and knowledge of Neurology as compared to other subjects. It also evaluated reasons and probable strategies to overcome the perceived difficulties and/or lack of interests.
Results
All non-specialist doctors and 148 medical students responded to the questionnaire (response rate–99.2%). The most favourite subject among medical students and non-specialist doctors were Cardiology and Endocrinology respectively, while Neurology was ranked third. In all participants the current level of interest was most for Cardiology (3.52±1.36), while Neurology was the least interesting specialty for majority of medical students (18.5%) and non-specialist doctors (25.0%). The current level of knowledge among medical students was most for Cardiology (3.12±0.86), while Neurology (2.53±0.96) was ranked fifth. The most difficult specialty for majority of medical students (50.0%) and non-specialist doctors (41.7%) was Neurology. All the participants were least confident when dealing with patients with headache (2.20±0.81), numbness of feet (2.07±0.79) and dizziness (2.07±0.78) when compared to dealing with other non-neurological complaints. The commonest reasons ‘why Neurology was felt to be a difficult subject’ were; the need to know basic neuro-anatomy and having a complex clinical examination. Participants’ felt that clinical/hospital based teaching (3.49±0.65), case discussions (3.45±0.68) and teaching aids (3.10±0.89) would be the most important teaching strategies to improve their competency in Neurology.
Conclusion
Neurology is considered a difficult subject by undergraduates and non-specialist doctors of Sri Lanka. The main reason for the perceived difficulty was the lack of understanding of basic sciences and deficiencies in clinical teaching. This lack of confidence could have a significant impact on patient care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-164
PMCID: PMC3909313  PMID: 24321477
Neurophobia; Non-specialist doctors; Medical students; Sri Lanka
4.  An audit of the knowledge and attitudes of doctors towards Surgical Informed Consent (SIC) 
Background: The Surgical Informed Consent (SIC) is a comprehensive process that establishes an information-based agreement between the patient and his doctor to undertake a clearly outlined medical or surgical intervention. It is neither a casual formality nor a casually signed piece of paper. The present study was designed to audit the current knowledge and attitudes of doctors towards SIC at a tertiary care teaching hospital in Pakistan.
Methods: This cross-sectional qualitative investigation was conducted under the auspices of the Department of Medical Education (DME), Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU), Islamabad over three months period. A 19-item questionnaire was employed for data collection. The participants were selected at random from the list of the surgeons maintained in the hospital and approached face-to-face with the help of a team of junior doctors detailed for questionnaire distribution among them. The target was to cover over 50% of these doctors by convenience sampling.
Results: Out of 231 respondents, there were 32 seniors while 199 junior doctors, constituting a ratio of 1:6.22. The respondents variably responded to the questions regarding various attributes of the process of SIC. Overall, the junior doctors performed poorer compared to the seniors.
Conclusion: The knowledge and attitudes of our doctors particularly the junior ones, towards the SIC are less than ideal. This results in their failure to avail this golden opportunity of doctor-patient communication to guide their patients through a solidly informative and legally valid SIC. They are often unaware of the essential preconditions of the SIC; provide incomplete information to their patients; and quite often do not ensure direct involvement of their patients in the process. Additionally they lack an understanding of using interactive computer-based programs as well as the concept of nocebo effect of informed consent.
doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2014.109
PMCID: PMC4226621  PMID: 25396207
Surgical Informed Consent (SIC); Consent; Nocebo Effect of Informed Consent; Surgery
5.  The introduction of medical humanities in the undergraduate curriculum of Greek medical schools: challenge and necessity 
Hippokratia  2010;14(4):241-243.
Background and Aim: Medical humanities is a multidisciplinary field, consisting of humanities (theory of literature and arts, philosophy, ethics, history and theology), social sciences (anthropology, psychology and sociology) and arts (literature, theater, cinema, music and visual arts), integrated in the undergraduate curriculum of Medical schools. The aim of the present study is to discuss medical humanities and support the necessity of introduction of a medical humanities course in the curriculum of Greek medical schools.
Materials, Methods and Results: Through the relevant Pub-Med search as well as taking into account various curricula of medical schools, it is evident that medical education today is characterized by acquisition of knowledge and skills and development of medical values and attitudes. Clinical observation with the recognition of key data and patterns in the collected information, is crucial in the final medical decision, i.e. in the complex process, through which doctors accumulate data, reach conclusions and decide on therapy. All sciences included in medical humanities are important for the high quality education of future doctors. The practice of Medicine is in large an image-related science. The history of anatomy and art are closely related, already from the Renaissance time. Studies have shown that attendance of courses on art critics improves the observational skills of medical students. Literature is the source of information about the nature and source of human emotions and behavior and of narratives of illness, and increases imagination. Philosophy aids in the development of analytical and synthetical thinking. Teaching of history of medicine develops humility and aids in avoiding the repetition of mistakes of the past, and quite often raises research and therapeutic skepticism. The comprehension of medical ethics and professional deontology guides the patient-doctor relationship, as well as the relations between physicians and their colleagues. The Medical Humanities course, which is already integrated in the undergraduate curriculum of many medical schools of Europe, USA and Australia, includes lectures by experts and students presentations on the above-mentioned areas and could be offered, for a semester, during the first years.
Conclusion: The aim of Medical Humanities course is the development of imagination and interpretation of data through analytical complex procedures, the development of skills of close observation and careful interpretation of the patient "language" and the enhancement of empathy for the patients, as well as the development of the physician-patient relationship and finally the conceptualization/construction of personal and professional values.
PMCID: PMC3031316  PMID: 21311630
medical humanities; Greece; medical school; review
6.  Current Status and Future Prospects of Clinical Psycholog 
SUMMARY
The escalating costs of health care and other recent trends have made health care decisions of great societal import, with decision-making responsibility often being transferred from practitioners to health economists, health plans, and insurers. Health care decision making increasingly is guided by evidence that a treatment is efficacious, effective–disseminable, cost-effective, and scientifically plausible. Under these conditions of heightened cost concerns and institutional–economic decision making, psychologists are losing the opportunity to play a leadership role in mental and behavioral health care: Other types of practitioners are providing an increasing proportion of delivered treatment, and the use of psychiatric medication has increased dramatically relative to the provision of psychological interventions.
Research has shown that numerous psychological interventions are efficacious, effective, and cost-effective. However, these interventions are used infrequently with patients who would benefit from them, in part because clinical psychologists have not made a convincing case for the use of these interventions (e.g., by supplying the data that decision makers need to support implementation of such interventions) and because clinical psychologists do not themselves use these interventions even when given the opportunity to do so.
Clinical psychologists’ failure to achieve a more significant impact on clinical and public health may be traced to their deep ambivalence about the role of science and their lack of adequate science training, which leads them to value personal clinical experience over research evidence, use assessment practices that have dubious psychometric support, and not use the interventions for which there is the strongest evidence of efficacy. Clinical psychology resembles medicine at a point in its history when practitioners were operating in a largely prescientific manner. Prior to the scientific reform of medicine in the early 1900s, physicians typically shared the attitudes of many of today’s clinical psychologists, such as valuing personal experience over scientific research. Medicine was reformed, in large part, by a principled effort by the American Medical Association to increase the science base of medical school education. Substantial evidence shows that many clinical psychology doctoral training programs, especially PsyD and for-profit programs, do not uphold high standards for graduate admission, have high student–faculty ratios, deemphasize science in their training, and produce students who fail to apply or generate scientific knowledge.
A promising strategy for improving the quality and clinical and public health impact of clinical psychology is through a new accreditation system that demands highquality science training as a central feature of doctoral training in clinical psychology. Just as strengthening training standards in medicine markedly enhanced the quality of health care, improved training standards in clinical psychology will enhance health and mental health care. Such a system will (a) allow the public and employers to identify scientifically trained psychologists; (b) stigmatize ascientific training programs and practitioners; (c) produce aspirational effects, thereby enhancing training quality generally; and (d) help accredited programs improve their training in the application and generation of science. These effects should enhance the generation, application, and dissemination of experimentally supported interventions, thereby improving clinical and public health. Experimentally based treatments not only are highly effective but also are cost-effective relative to other interventions; therefore, they could help control spiraling health care costs. The new Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System (PCSAS) is intended to accredit clinical psychology training programs that offer highquality science-centered education and training, producing graduates who are successful in generating and applying scientific knowledge. Psychologists, universities, and other stakeholders should vigorously support this new accreditation system as the surest route to a scientifically principled clinical psychology that can powerfully benefit clinical and public health.
doi:10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01036.x
PMCID: PMC2943397  PMID: 20865146
7.  Medical students’ characteristics as predictors of career practice location: retrospective cohort study tracking graduates of Nepal’s first medical college 
Objective To determine, in one low income country (Nepal), which characteristics of medical students are associated with graduate doctors staying to practise in the country or in its rural areas.
Design Observational cohort study.
Setting Medical college registry, with internet, phone, and personal follow-up of graduates.
Participants 710 graduate doctors from the first 22 classes (1983-2004) of Nepal’s first medical college, the Institute of Medicine.
Main outcome measures Career practice location (foreign or in Nepal; in or outside of the capital city Kathmandu) compared with certain pre-graduation characteristics of medical student.
Results 710 (97.7%) of the 727 graduates were located: 193 (27.2%) were working in Nepal in districts outside the capital city Kathmandu, 261 (36.8%) were working in Kathmandu, and 256 (36.1%) were working in foreign countries. Of 256 working abroad, 188 (73%) were in the United States. Students from later graduating classes were more likely to be working in foreign countries. Those with pre-medical education as paramedics were twice as likely to be working in Nepal and 3.5 times as likely to be in rural Nepal, compared with students with a college science background. Students who were academically in the lower third of their medical school class were twice as likely to be working in rural Nepal as those from the upper third. In a regression analysis adjusting for all variables, paramedical background (odds ratio 4.4, 95% confidence interval 1.7 to 11.6) was independently associated with a doctor remaining in Nepal. Rural birthplace (odds ratio 3.8, 1.3 to 11.5) and older age at matriculation (1.1, 1.0 to 1.2) were each independently associated with a doctor working in rural Nepal.
Conclusions A cluster of medical students’ characteristics, including paramedical background, rural birthplace, and lower academic rank, was associated with a doctor remaining in Nepal and with working outside the capital city of Kathmandu. Policy makers in medical education who are committed to producing doctors for underserved areas of their country could use this evidence to revise their entrance criteria for medical school.
doi:10.1136/bmj.e4826
PMCID: PMC3419272  PMID: 22893566
8.  Basic life support knowledge of healthcare students and professionals in the Qassim University 
Objective
To evaluate the knowledge of basic life support (BLS) among students and health providers in Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and Allied Health Science Colleges at Qassim University.
Methodology
A cross sectional study was performed using an online BLS survey that was completed by 139 individuals.
Results
Ninety-three responders were medical students, 7 were medical interns, 6 were dental students, 7 were pharmacy students, 11 were medical science students and 15 were clinical practitioners. No responder scored 100% on the BLS survey. Only two out of the 139 responders (1.4%) scored 90–99%. Both of these individuals were fifth year medical students. Six responders (4.3%) scored 80–89%. Of these, 5 were fifth year medical students, and one was fourth-year medical student. Eleven responders (7.9%) scored 70–79%. Of these, eight were fifth year medical students, two were medical interns and one was a pharmacist. Twenty-three responders (16.5%) scored 60–69%. Of these, 11 were fifth year medical students, 1 was a fourth-year medical student, 3 were medical interns, 2 were medical science students, 1 was a dentistry student, and 5 were pharmacists. Twenty-eight responders (20.1%) scored 50–59%. Of these, 11 were fifth year medical students, 3 were fourth-year medical students, 1 was a third-year medical student, 1 was a second-year medical student, 2 were first-year medical students, 1 was a pharmacy student, 3 were dental students, 1 was a allied health science student, 2 were doctors, and 3 were pharmacists. The remaining 69 responders (49.6%) scored less than 50%.
Conclusion
Knowledge of BLS among medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and allied health science students and health providers at Qassim University is poor and needs to be improved. We suggest that inclusion of a BLS course in the undergraduate curriculum with regular reassessment would increase awareness and application of this valuable life-saving skill set.
PMCID: PMC4166986  PMID: 25246881
9.  Graduates from a reformed undergraduate medical curriculum based on Tomorrow's Doctors evaluate the effectiveness of their curriculum 6 years after graduation through interviews 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:65.
Background
In 1996 Liverpool reformed its medical curriculum from a traditional lecture based course to a curriculum based on the recommendations in Tomorrow's Doctors. A project has been underway since 2000 to evaluate this change. This paper focuses on the views of graduates from that reformed curriculum 6 years after they had graduated.
Methods
Between 2007 and 2009 45 interviews took place with doctors from the first two cohorts to graduate from the reformed curriculum.
Results
The interviewees felt like they had been clinically well prepared to work as doctors and in particular had graduated with good clinical and communication skills and had a good knowledge of what the role of doctor entailed. They also felt they had good self directed learning and research skills. They did feel their basic science knowledge level was weaker than traditional graduates and perceived they had to work harder to pass postgraduate exams. Whilst many had enjoyed the curriculum and in particular the clinical skills resource centre and the clinical exposure of the final year including the "shadowing" and A & E attachment they would have liked more "structure" alongside the PBL when learning the basic sciences.
Conclusion
According to the graduates themselves many of the aims of curriculum reform have been met by the reformed curriculum and they were well prepared clinically to work as doctors. However, further reforms may be needed to give confidence to science knowledge acquisition.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-65
PMCID: PMC2956712  PMID: 20920263
10.  Depersonalised doctors: a cross-sectional study of 564 doctors, 760 consultations and 1876 patient reports in UK general practice 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000274.
Objectives
The objectives of this study were to assess burnout in a sample of general practitioners (GPs), to determine factors associated with depersonalisation and to investigate its impact on doctors' consultations with patients.
Design
Cross-sectional, postal survey of GPs using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). Patient survey and tape-recording of consultations for a subsample of respondents stratified by their MBI scores, gender and duration of General Medical Council registration.
Setting
UK general practice.
Participants
GPs within NHS Essex.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Scores on MBI subscales (depersonalisation, emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment); scores on Doctors' Interpersonal Skills Questionnaire and patient-centredness scores attributed to tape-recorded consultations by independent observers.
Results
In the postal survey, 564/789 (71%) GPs completed the MBI. High levels of emotional exhaustion (261/564 doctors, 46%) and depersonalisation (237 doctors, 42%) and low levels of personal accomplishment (190 doctors, 34%) were reported. Depersonalisation scores were related to characteristics of the doctor and the practice. Male doctors reported significantly higher (p<0.001) depersonalisation than female doctors. Doctors registered with the General Medical Council under 20 years had significantly higher (p=0.005) depersonalisation scores than those registered for longer. Doctors in group practices had significantly higher (p=0.001) depersonalisation scores than single-handed practitioners. Thirty-eight doctors agreed to complete the patient survey (n=1876 patients) and audio-record consultations (n=760 consultations). Depersonalised doctors were significantly more likely (p=0.03) to consult with patients who reported seeing their ‘usual doctor’. There were no significant associations between doctors' depersonalisation and their patient-rated interpersonal skills or observed patient-centredness.
Conclusions
This is the largest number of doctors completing the MBI with the highest levels of depersonalisation reported. Despite experiencing substantial depersonalisation, doctors' feelings of burnout were not detected by patients or independent observers. Such levels of burnout are, however, worrying and imply a need for action by doctors themselves, their medical colleagues, professional bodies, healthcare organisations and the Department of Health.
Article summary
Article focus
A cross-sectional survey was designed to assess levels of burnout in a census sample of GPs in Essex, UK, and to determine which doctor- or practice-related variables predicted higher levels of burnout.
In the substudy, patients rated the interpersonal skills of their doctor and independent observers assessed the degree of patient-centredness in a sample of the doctors' audio-taped consultations.
Key messages
High levels of burnout were reported in the census survey—46% doctors reported emotional exhaustion, 42% reported depersonalisation and 34% reported low levels of personal accomplishment.
Doctors' depersonalisation scores could be predicted by a range of variables relating to the individual doctor and their practice, but higher depersonalisation scores were not associated with poorer patient ratings of the doctors' interpersonal skills or a reduction in the patient-centredness of their consultations.
While the professional practice and patient-centredness of consultations of the GPs in this study were not affected by feelings of burnout, there is a need to offer help and support for doctors who are experiencing this.
Strengths and limitations of this study
A high response rate (71%) was achieved in the census sample of GPs completing the MBI and a subsample of 38 doctors who satisfied the predetermined sample stratification consented to further assessment (patient survey and audio-taping of consultations).
The study was, however, limited to one county in the UK and thus cannot be extrapolated to other parts of the UK.
There was a differential response rate by the gender of the participant. Male doctors who were registered with the General Medical Council for >20 years were less likely to respond to the survey than their female counterparts.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000274
PMCID: PMC3274717  PMID: 22300669
11.  Frequency of Smoking and Specialized Awareness among Doctors and Nurses of Hospitals in Kerman, Iran 
Addiction & Health  2013;5(1-2):51-56.
Background
Nicotine is one of the strongest poisons. Every year about 75 thousand of Iranians die due to smoking. Since doctors and nurses have a major role in controlling smoking, this study tried to investigate the prevalence of cigarette smoking among doctors and nurses and their awareness about the effects of smoking.
Methods
This descriptive study was conducted on all doctors (n = 150) and nurses (n = 400) of hospitals affiliated with Kerman University of Medical Sciences (Kerman, Iran). Data was collected through a questionnaire with reliability of 0.8 and validity of 0.79. It consisted of two parts to assess demographic characteristics of the participants and their awareness about the side effects of smoking. Their awareness was ranked from poor to excellent based on the number of correct answers. Chi-square and Mann-Whitney tests were then used to analyze the collected data.
Findings
Of 550 questionnaires, 524 were completed (51.3% by the nurses and 48.7% by the doctors. While 21.2% of all participants smoked cigarettes, 71.8% of doctors and 95.3% of nurses did not smoke. The levels of awareness among nurses and doctors were determined as poor and moderate, respectively.
Conclusion
The higher prevalence of smoking among nurses confirms the significance of education. The level of awareness among the studied doctors and nurses was not desirable. Enhancing the awareness and attitude of medical staff will improve not only their own performance but also the behavioral pattern of the society.
PMCID: PMC3905567  PMID: 24494158
Cigarette; Smoking; Doctors; Nurses; Knowledge
12.  Medicine: Science or Art? 
Mens Sana Monographs  2006;4(1):127-138.
Debate over the status of medicine as an Art or Science continues. The aim of this paper is to discuss the meaning of Art and Science in terms of medicine, and to find out to what extent they have their roots in the field of medical practice. What is analysed is whether medicine is an “art based on science”; or, the “art of medicine” has lost its sheen (what with the rapid advancements of science in course of time, which has made present day medicine more sophisticated). What is also analysed is whether the “science of medicine” is a pure one, or merely applied science; or the element of science in it is full of uncertainty, simply because what is accepted as “scientific” today is discarded by medical practitioners tomorrow in the light of newer evidence. The paper also briefly touches upon how, in the field of present medical education, the introduction of medical humanities or humanistic education has the potential to swing the pendulum of medicine more towards the lost “art of medicine”.
The paper concludes by saying that the art and science of medicine are complementary. For successful practice, a doctor has to be an artist armed with basic scientific knowledge in medicine.
doi:10.4103/0973-1229.27610
PMCID: PMC3190445  PMID: 22013337
Art of Medicine; Science; Evidence-based Medicine; Human Faculty; Humanistic Education
13.  Medical Students' Exposure to and Attitudes about the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001037.
A systematic review of published studies reveals that undergraduate medical students may experience substantial exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, and that this contact may be associated with positive attitudes about marketing.
Background
The relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has become a source of controversy. Physicians' attitudes towards the industry can form early in their careers, but little is known about this key stage of development.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review reported according to PRISMA guidelines to determine the frequency and nature of medical students' exposure to the drug industry, as well as students' attitudes concerning pharmaceutical policy issues. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and ERIC from the earliest available dates through May 2010, as well as bibliographies of selected studies. We sought original studies that reported quantitative or qualitative data about medical students' exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, their attitudes about marketing practices, relationships with industry, and related pharmaceutical policy issues. Studies were separated, where possible, into those that addressed preclinical versus clinical training, and were quality rated using a standard methodology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria. We found that 40%–100% of medical students reported interacting with the pharmaceutical industry. A substantial proportion of students (13%–69%) were reported as believing that gifts from industry influence prescribing. Eight studies reported a correlation between frequency of contact and favorable attitudes toward industry interactions. Students were more approving of gifts to physicians or medical students than to government officials. Certain attitudes appeared to change during medical school, though a time trend was not performed; for example, clinical students (53%–71%) were more likely than preclinical students (29%–62%) to report that promotional information helps educate about new drugs.
Conclusions
Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions. These results support future research into the association between exposure and attitudes, as well as any modifiable factors that contribute to attitudinal changes during medical education.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The complex relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has long been a subject of discussion among physicians and policymakers. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that physicians' interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence clinical decision making in a way that is not always in the best interests of individual patients, for example, encouraging the use of expensive treatments that have no therapeutic advantage over less costly alternatives. The pharmaceutical industry often uses physician education as a marketing tool, as in the case of Continuing Medical Education courses that are designed to drive prescribing practices.
One reason that physicians may be particularly susceptible to pharmaceutical industry marketing messages is that doctors' attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry may form early in their careers. The socialization effect of professional schooling is strong, and plays a lasting role in shaping views and behaviors.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, particularly in the US, some medical schools have limited students' and faculties' contact with industry, but some have argued that these restrictions are detrimental to students' education. Given the controversy over the pharmaceutical industry's role in undergraduate medical training, consolidating current knowledge in this area may be useful for setting priorities for changes to educational practices. In this study, the researchers systematically examined studies of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students and whether such interactions influenced students' views on related topics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive literature search using appropriate search terms for all relevant quantitative and qualitative studies published before June 2010. Using strict inclusion criteria, the researchers then selected 48 articles (from 1,603 abstracts) for full review and identified 32 eligible for analysis—giving a total of approximately 9,850 medical students studying at 76 medical schools or hospitals.
Most students had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry but contact increased in the clinical years, with up to 90% of all clinical students receiving some form of educational material. The highest level of exposure occurred in the US. In most studies, the majority of students in their clinical training years found it ethically permissible for medical students to accept gifts from drug manufacturers, while a smaller percentage of preclinical students reported such attitudes. Students justified their entitlement to gifts by citing financial hardship or by asserting that most other students accepted gifts. In addition, although most students believed that education from industry sources is biased, students variably reported that information obtained from industry sources was useful and a valuable part of their education.
Almost two-thirds of students reported that they were immune to bias induced by promotion, gifts, or interactions with sales representatives but also reported that fellow medical students or doctors are influenced by such encounters. Eight studies reported a relationship between exposure to the pharmaceutical industry and positive attitudes about industry interactions and marketing strategies (although not all included supportive statistical data). Finally, student opinions were split on whether physician–industry interactions should be regulated by medical schools or the government.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This analysis shows that students are frequently exposed to pharmaceutical marketing, even in the preclinical years, and that the extent of students' contact with industry is generally associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism towards any negative implications of interactions with industry. Therefore, strategies to educate students about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry should directly address widely held misconceptions about the effects of marketing and other biases that can emerge from industry interactions. But education alone may be insufficient. Institutional policies, such as rules regulating industry interactions, can play an important role in shaping students' attitudes, and interventions that decrease students' contact with industry and eliminate gifts may have a positive effect on building the skills that evidence-based medical practice requires. These changes can help cultivate strong professional values and instill in students a respect for scientific principles and critical evidence review that will later inform clinical decision-making and prescribing practices.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037.
Further information about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on doctors and medical students can be found at the American Medical Students Association PharmFree campaign and PharmFree Scorecard, Medsin-UKs PharmAware campaign, the nonprofit organization Healthy Skepticism, and the Web site of No Free Lunch.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
14.  Application of propensity scores to explore the effect of public reporting of medicine use information on rational drug use in China: a quasi-experimental design 
Background
Transparency has become a hottest topic and a growing movement in the health care system worldwide. This study used a quasi-experimental design method to explore whether public reporting of medicine use information can improve rational drug use.
Methods
20 township hospitals and 274 doctors of City Y in Hubei Province, China were divided into the intervention and control groups on the basis of their characteristics. In the intervention group, the values and rankings of the average expenditure per prescription, percentage of prescriptions requiring antibiotics and percentage of prescriptions requiring injections of each hospital and doctor were publicly released to patients and doctors in an appropriate format monthly. Data were gathered both four months before and after the intervention. Propensity score matching (PSM) was used to minimize the observed covariate (gender, age, experience, education level, title, and monthly income) differences in the doctors’ characteristics. 108 pairs of doctors were obtained after PSM. Chi-square test and t-test were employed to explore the effect of public reporting of medicine use information on rational drug use. The study was approved by the Committee of Tongji Medical College, Hua Zhong University of Science and Technology (IORG No: IORG0003571).
Results
In baseline, the average expenditure per prescription of the 274 doctors was 42.82 RMB yuan (USD 6.97), the percentage of prescriptions requiring antibiotics was 63.00%, and the percentage of prescriptions requiring injections was 70.79%, all higher than the average of Hubei Province and the standard recommended by WHO. Before the intervention all the three indicators were all comparable (p > 0.05), whereas after the intervention, a significant difference (p < 0.05) was found for the percentage of prescriptions requiring injections between the intervention (64.66%) and control groups (70.52%).
Conclusions
Irrational drug use remains a policy issue in township hospitals in the study area. We demonstrated that publicly reporting medicine use information could decrease the percentage of prescriptions requiring injections in township hospitals in China, but this effect was not observed on prescription costs and antibiotics use. Analyses of the mechanism and long-term effect of public reporting of medicine use information are recommended for further studies.
doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0492-6
PMCID: PMC4232652  PMID: 25384897
Quasi-experimental design; Propensity score; Township hospitals; Transparency; Rational drug use; China
15.  Qualitative study of Nocebo Phenomenon (NP) involved in doctor-patient communication 
Background: Doctor-patient communication has far reaching influences on the overall well-being of the patients. Words are powerful tools in the doctor’s armamentarium, having both healing as well as harming effects. Doctors need to be conscious about the choice of their words. This study aimed to determine the frequency and pattern of Nocebo Phenomenon (NP) un-intentionally induced by the communication of surgeons and anesthetists through the course of various interventional procedures such as surgery, anesthesia, and crucial communication encounters with their patients.
Methods: The study was carried out by the Department of Medical Education (DME), Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS), Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU), Islamabad over six months period. All residents and faculty members serving at our institute in various surgical and anesthesia departments constituted the study population. A questionnaire was employed as the data collection tool.
Results: Significant proportions of the doctor-patient communications under scrutiny entailed NP. It was more frequently observed in association with female gender of the involved professionals, residency status versus faculty position, and shorter professional experience (i.e. <5 years). Although the participants endorsed the fact that the choice of their words influenced the well-being of their patients, none of them were actually aware of the concept of NP.
Conclusion: NP existed in the clinical practice of the surgeons and anesthetists during their communication with patients. It was more frequently found among females, residents and professionals with less than five years of working experience. There is need to create awareness among these professionals about the subtle negative messages conveyed by such communication and alert them that the nocebo effects have negative repercussions on the clinical outcomes of their patients. The professionals should be formally educated to avoid nocebo words and phrases.
doi:10.15171/ijhpm.2014.54
PMCID: PMC4075099  PMID: 24987718
Nocebo Phenomenon (NP); Nocebo Words; Nocebo Effects; Nocebo Response; Placebo Phenomenon ; Doctor-Patient Communication
16.  How to set up and manage a trainee-led research collaborative 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:94.
Background
Ensuring that doctors in training acquire sufficient knowledge, experience and understanding of medical research is a universal and longstanding issue which has been brought into sharper focus by the growth of evidence based medicine. All healthcare systems preparing doctors in training for practice have to balance the acquisition of specific clinical attitudes, knowledge and skills with the wider need to ensure doctors are equipped to remain professionally competent as medical science advances. Most professional medical bodies acknowledge that this requires trainee doctors to experience some form of research education, not only in order to carry out original research, but to acquire sufficient academic skills to become accomplished research consumers in order to remain informed throughout their professional practice. There are many barriers to accomplishing this ambitious aim.
Discussion
This article briefly explains why research collaboratives are necessary, describes how to establish a collaborative, and recommends how to run one. It is based on the experiences of the pioneering West Midlands Research Collaborative and draws on the wider literature about the organisation and delivery of high quality research projects. Practical examples of collaborative projects are given to illustrate the potential of this form of research organisation.
Summary
The new trainee-led research collaboratives provide a supportive framework for planning, ownership and delivery of high quality multicentre research. This ensures clinical relevance, increases the chances of research findings being translated into changes in practice and should lead to improved patient outcomes. Research collaboratives also enhance the research skills and extend the scientific horizons of doctors in training.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-94
PMCID: PMC4229745  PMID: 24886546
17.  Evaluation of an E-Learning Distance Education System in the Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Tottori University 
Yonago Acta medica  2012;55(4):69-73.
Three years have passed since the introduction of a new e-learning system as part of the graduate study program in the Faculty of Medicine of Tottori University. To improve this system, a survey was conducted among graduate students and faculty members to evaluate it. The subjects of the study were 138 graduate students (in the doctoral programs in Medical Science, 1st- and 2nd-term doctoral programs in Life Science, 1st- and 2nd-term doctoral programs in the Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Biofunction, and Clinical Psychology) as well as 108 faculty of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Tottori University. Graduate students reported that the e-learning education system is adequate and that they are satisfied to an above average level. The reasons for dissatisfaction with the system were roughly divided into 3 categories: “contents”, “system” and “student reports”. This e-learning system is still at an early stage of development, but we are pushing forward to improve this in anticipation of increasing the use of web learning modalities in the future.
PMCID: PMC3727695  PMID: 24031142
distance education; graduate education; graduate student
18.  Place of medical qualification and outcomes of UK General Medical Council “fitness to practise” process: cohort study 
Objectives To evaluate whether country of medical qualification is associated with “higher impact” decisions at different stages of the UK General Medical Council’s (GMC’s) “fitness to practise” process after allowing for other characteristics of doctors and inquiries.
Design Retrospective cohort study.
Setting Medical practice in the United Kingdom.
Participants 7526 inquiries to the GMC concerning 6954 doctors.
Main outcome measures Proportion of inquiries referred for further investigation at initial triage by the GMC, proportion of inquiries investigated that were subsequently referred for adjudication, and proportion of inquiries resulting in doctors being erased or suspended from the medical register; relative odds of higher impact decisions, by country of qualification, adjusted for doctors’ sex, years since primary medical qualification, medical specialty, source and type of inquiry, and nature of allegations.
Results Of 7526 inquiries, 4702 concerned doctors who qualified in the UK, 624 concerned doctors who qualified elsewhere in the European Union (EU), and 2190 concerned doctors who qualified outside the EU. At the initial triage, 30% (n=1398) of inquiries concerning doctors who qualified in the UK had a high impact decision, compared with 43% (267) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 46% (998) for those who qualified outside the EU. The adjusted relative odds of an inquiry being referred for further investigation were 1.67 (95% confidence interval 1.28 to 2.17) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 1.61 (1.38 to 1.88) for those who qualified outside the EU, compared with doctors who qualified in the UK. At the investigation stage, 5% (228) of inquiries received concerning UK qualified doctors were referred for adjudication, compared with 10% for EU (63) or non-EU (221) qualified doctors. The adjusted relative odds of referral for adjudication were 2.14 (1.46 to 3.16) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 1.68 (1.31 to 2.16) for those who qualified outside the EU. At the adjudication stage, 1% (69) of inquiries received concerning UK qualified doctors led to erasure or suspension, compared with 4% (24) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 3% (71) for non-EU qualified doctors. The adjusted relative odds of erasure or suspension were 2.16 (1.22 to 3.80) for doctors who qualified elsewhere in the EU and 1.48 (1.00 to 2.19) for those who qualified outside the EU.
Conclusions Inquiries to the GMC concerning doctors qualified outside the UK are more likely to be associated with higher impact decisions at each stage of the fitness to practice process. These associations were not explained by measured inquiry related and doctor related characteristics, but residual confounding cannot be excluded.
doi:10.1136/bmj.d1817
PMCID: PMC3071377  PMID: 21467101
19.  Conflicts of Interest at Medical Journals: The Influence of Industry-Supported Randomised Trials on Journal Impact Factors and Revenue – Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(10):e1000354.
Andreas Lundh and colleagues investigated the effect of publication of large industry-supported trials on citations and journal income, through reprint sales, in six general medical journals
Background
Transparency in reporting of conflict of interest is an increasingly important aspect of publication in medical journals. Publication of large industry-supported trials may generate many citations and journal income through reprint sales and thereby be a source of conflicts of interest for journals. We investigated industry-supported trials' influence on journal impact factors and revenue.
Methods and Findings
We sampled six major medical journals (Annals of Internal Medicine, Archives of Internal Medicine, BMJ, JAMA, The Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine [NEJM]). For each journal, we identified randomised trials published in 1996–1997 and 2005–2006 using PubMed, and categorized the type of financial support. Using Web of Science, we investigated citations of industry-supported trials and the influence on journal impact factors over a ten-year period. We contacted journal editors and retrieved tax information on income from industry sources. The proportion of trials with sole industry support varied between journals, from 7% in BMJ to 32% in NEJM in 2005–2006. Industry-supported trials were more frequently cited than trials with other types of support, and omitting them from the impact factor calculation decreased journal impact factors. The decrease varied considerably between journals, with 1% for BMJ to 15% for NEJM in 2007. For the two journals disclosing data, income from the sales of reprints contributed to 3% and 41% of the total income for BMJ and The Lancet in 2005–2006.
Conclusions
Publication of industry-supported trials was associated with an increase in journal impact factors. Sales of reprints may provide a substantial income. We suggest that journals disclose financial information in the same way that they require them from their authors, so that readers can assess the potential effect of different types of papers on journals' revenue and impact.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Medical journals publish many different types of papers that inform doctors about the latest research advances and the latest treatments for their patients. They publish articles that describe laboratory-based research into the causes of diseases and the identification of potential new drugs. They publish the results of early clinical trials in which a few patients are given a potential new drug to check its safety. Finally and most importantly, they publish the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). RCTs are studies in which large numbers of patients are randomly allocated to different treatments without the patient or the clinician knowing the allocation and the efficacy of the various treatments compared. RCTs are best way of determining whether a new drug is effective and have to be completed before a drug can be marketed. Because RCTs are very expensive, they are often supported by drug companies. That is, drug companies provide grants or drugs for the trial or assist with data analysis and/or article preparation.
Why Was This Study Done?
Whenever a medical journal publishes an article, the article's authors have to declare any conflicts of interest such as financial gain from the paper's publication. Conflict of interest statements help readers assess papers—an author who owns the patent for a drug, for example, might put an unduly positive spin on his/her results. The experts who review papers for journals before publication provide similar conflict of interest statements. But what about the journal editors who ultimately decide which papers get published? The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which produces medical publishing guidelines, states that: “Editors who make final decisions about manuscripts must have no personal, professional, or financial involvement in any of the issues that they might judge.” However, the publication of industry-supported RCTs might create “indirect” conflicts of interest for journals by boosting the journal's impact factor (a measure of a journal's importance based on how often its articles are cited) and its income through the sale of reprints to drug companies. In this study, the researchers investigate whether the publication of industry-supported RCTs influences the impact factors and finances of six major medical journals.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers determined which RCTs published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), the British Medical Journal (BMJ), The Lancet, and three other major medical journals in 1996–1997 and 2005–2006 were supported wholly, partly, or not at all by industry. They then used the online academic citation index Web of Science to calculate an approximate impact factor for each journal for 1998 and 2007 and calculated the effect of the published RCTs on the impact factor. The proportion of RCTs with sole industry support varied between journals. Thus, 32% of the RCTs published in the NEJM during both two-year periods had industry support whereas only 7% of the RCTs published in the BMJ in 2005–2006 had industry support. Industry-supported trials were more frequently cited than RCTs with other types of support and omitting industry-supported RCTs from impact factor calculations decreased all the approximate journal impact factors. For example, omitting all RCTs with industry or mixed support decreased the 2007 BMJ and NEJM impact factors by 1% and 15%, respectively. Finally, the researchers asked each journal's editor about their journal's income from industry sources. For the BMJ and The Lancet, the only journals that provided this information, income from reprint sales was 3% and 41%, respectively, of total income in 2005–2006.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that the publication of industry-supported RCTs was associated with an increase in the approximate impact factors of these six major medical journals. Because these journals publish numerous RCTs, this result may not be generalizable to other journals. These findings also indicate that income from reprint sales can be a substantial proportion of a journal's total income. Importantly, these findings do not imply that the decisions of editors are affected by the possibility that the publication of an industry-supported trial might improve their journal's impact factor or income. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest, journals should live up to the same principles related to conflicts of interest as those that they require from their authors and should routinely disclose information on the source and amount of income that they receive.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000354.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Harvey Marcovitch
The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors provides information about the publication of medical research, including conflicts of interest
The World Association of Medical Editors also provides information on conflicts of interest in medical journals
Information about impact factors is provided by Thomson Reuters, a provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals; Thomson Reuters also runs Web of Science
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000354
PMCID: PMC2964336  PMID: 21048986
20.  Attitude of primary care physicians toward patient safety in Aseer region, Saudi Arabia 
Objective:
The objective of this study was to assess the attitude of physicians at primary health-care centers (PHCC) in Aseer region toward patient safety.
Materials and Methods:
This study was conducted among working primary health-care physicians in Aseer region, Saudi Arabia, in August 2011. A self-administered questionnaire consisting of three parts was used; the first part was on the socio-demographic, academic and about the work profile of the participants. The attitude consisting of 26 questions was assessed on a Likert scale of 7 points using attitude to patients safety questionnaire-III items and the last part concerned training on “patient safety”, definition and factors that contribute to medical errors. Data of the questionnaire were entered and analyzed by Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 15.
Results:
The total number of participants was 228 doctors who represent about 65% of the physicians at PHCC, one-third of whom had attended a course on patient safety and only 52% of whom defined medical error correctly. The best score was given for the reduction of medical errors (6.2 points), followed by role of training and learning on patient safety (6 and 5.9 points), but undergraduate training on patient safety was given the least score. Confidence to report medical errors scored 4.6 points as did reporting the errors of other people and 5.6 points for being open with the supervisor about an error made. Participants agreed that “even the most experienced and competent doctors make errors” (5.9 points), on the other hand, they disagreed that most medical errors resulted from nurses’ carelessness (3.9 points) or doctors’ carelessness (4 points).
Conclusion:
This study showed that PHCC physicians in Aseer region had a positive attitude toward patient safety. Most of them need training on patient safety. Undergraduate education on patient safety which was considered a priority for making future doctors’ work effective was inadequate.
doi:10.4103/2230-8229.121976
PMCID: PMC3957167  PMID: 24672271
Aseer region; attitude; patient safety; primary health-care centers
21.  Traditional, complementary and alternative medical systems and their contribution to personalisation, prediction and prevention in medicine—person-centred medicine 
The EPMA Journal  2012;3(1):15.
Traditional, complementary and alternative medical (TCAM) systems contribute to the foundation of person-centred medicine (PCM), an epistemological orientation for medical science which places the person as a physical, psychological and spiritual entity at the centre of health care and of the therapeutic process. PCM wishes to broaden the bio-molecular reductionistic approach of medical science towards an integration that allows people, doctors, nurses, health-care professionals and patients to become the real protagonists of the health-care scene. The doctor or caregiver needs to act out of empathy to meet the unique value of each human being, which unfolds over the course of a lifetime from conception to natural death. Knowledge of the human being should not be instrumental to economic or political interests, ideology, theories or religious dogma. Research needs to be broadened with methodological tools to investigate person-centred medical interventions. Salutogenesis is a fundamental principle of PCM, promoting health and preventing illness by strengthening the individual's self-healing abilities. TCAM systems also give tools to predict the insurgence of illness and treat it before the appearance of overt organic disease. A task of PCM is to educate people to take better care of their physical, psychological and spiritual health. Health-care education needs to be broadened to give doctors and health-care workers of the future the tools to act in innovative and highly differentiated ways, always guided by deep respect for individual autonomy, personal culture, religion and beliefs.
doi:10.1186/1878-5085-3-15
PMCID: PMC3509392  PMID: 23126628
Traditional, Complementary and alternative medicine; Biomedicine; Person-centred medicine; Personalised medicine; Prediction; Prevention; Salutogenesis; Health-care reform; Health-care education; Therapeutic relationship
22.  Duties of a doctor: UK doctors and Good Medical Practice 
Quality in Health Care : QHC  2000;9(1):14-22.
Objective—To assess the responses of UK doctors to the General Medical Council's (GMC) Good Medical Practice and the Duties of a Doctor, and to the GMC's performance procedures for which they provide the professional underpinning.
Design—Questionnaire study of a representative sample of UK doctors.
Subjects—794 UK doctors, stratified by year of qualification, sex, place of qualification (UK v non-UK), and type of practice (hospital v general practice) of whom 591/759 (78%) replied to the questionnaire (35 undelivered).
Main outcome measures—A specially written questionnaire asking about awareness of Good Medical Practice, agreement with Duties of a Doctor, amount heard about the performance procedures, changes in own practice, awareness of cases perhaps requiring performance procedures, and attitudes to the performance procedures. Background measures of stress (General Health Questionnaire, GHQ-12), burnout, responses to uncertainty, and social desirability.
Results—Most doctors were aware of Good Medical Practice, had heard the performance procedures being discussed or had received information about them, and agreed with the stated duties of a doctor, although some items to do with doctor-patient communication and attitudes were more controversial. Nearly half of the doctors had made or were contemplating some change in their practice because of the performance procedures; a third of doctors had come across a case in the previous two years in their own professional practice that they thought might merit the performance procedures. Attitudes towards the performance procedures were variable. On the positive side, 60% or more of doctors saw them as reassuring the general public, making it necessary for doctors to report deficient performance in their colleagues, did not think they would impair morale, were not principally window dressing, and were not only appropriate for problems of technical competence. On the negative side, 60% or more of doctors thought the performance procedures were not well understood by most doctors, were a reason for more defensive practice, and could not be used for problems of attitude. Few differences were found among older and younger doctors, hospital doctors, or general practitioners, or UK and non-UK graduates, although some differences were present.
Conclusions—Most doctors working in the UK are aware of Good Medical Practice and the performance procedures, and are in broad sympathy with Duties of a Doctor. Many attitudes expressed by doctors are not positive, however, and provide areas where the GMC in particular may wish to encourage further discussion and awareness. The present results provide a good baseline for assessing change as the performance procedures become active and cases come before the GMC over the next few years.
(Quality in Health Care 2000;9:14–22)
Key Words: performance procedures; good medical practice; duties; attitudes; knowledge
doi:10.1136/qhc.9.1.14
PMCID: PMC1743494  PMID: 10848365
23.  Why Reassurance Fails in Patients with Unexplained Symptoms—An Experimental Investigation of Remembered Probabilities 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(8):e269.
Background
Providing reassurance is one of physicians' most frequently used verbal interventions. However, medical reassurance can fail or even have negative effects. This is frequently the case in patients with medically unexplained symptoms. It is hypothesized that these patients are more likely than patients from other groups to incorrectly recall the likelihoods of medical explanations provided by doctors.
Methods and Findings
Thirty-three patients with medically unexplained symptoms, 22 patients with major depression, and 30 healthy controls listened to an audiotaped medical report, as well as to two control reports. After listening to the reports, participants were asked to rate what the doctor thinks the likelihood is that the complaints are caused by a specific medical condition.
Although the doctor rejected most of the medical explanations for the symptoms in his verbal report, the patients with medically unexplained complaints remembered a higher likelihood for medical explanations for their symptoms. No differences were found between patients in the other groups, and for the control conditions. When asked to imagine that the reports were applicable to themselves, patients with multiple medical complaints reported more concerns about their health state than individuals in the other groups.
Conclusions
Physicians should be aware that patients with medically unexplained symptoms recall the likelihood of medical causes for their complaints incorrectly. Therefore, physicians should verify correct understanding by using check-back questions and asking for summaries, to improve the effect of reassurance.
Those patients for whom there is no medical explanation for their symptoms are likely to have more difficulty than other patients in remembering information intended to reassure them about their condition.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Being told by the doctor that that niggling headache or persistent stomach ache is not caused by a medical condition reassures most patients. But for some—those with a history of medically unexplained complaints—being told that tests have revealed no underlying cause for their symptoms provides little or no reassurance. Such patients have what is sometimes called “somatization syndrome.” In somatization, mental factors such as stress manifest themselves as physical symptoms. Patients with somatization syndrome start to report multiple medically unexplained symptoms as young adults. These symptoms, which change over time, include pain at different sites in the body and digestive, reproductive, and nervous system problems. What causes this syndrome is unknown and there is no treatment other than helping patients to control their symptoms.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patients with medically unexplained complaints make up a substantial and expensive part of the workload of general medical staff. Part of this expense is because patients with somatization syndrome are not reassured by their medical practitioners telling them there is no physical cause for their symptoms, which leads to requests for further tests. It is unclear why medical reassurance fails in these patients, but if this puzzle could be solved, it might help doctors to deal better with them. In this study, the researchers tested the idea that these patients do not accept medical reassurance because they incorrectly remember what their doctors have told them about the likelihood that specific medical conditions could explain their symptoms.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited patients with medically unexplained symptoms and, for comparison, patients with depression and healthy individuals. All the participants were assessed for somatization syndrome and their general memory tested. They then listened to three audiotapes. In one, a doctor gave test results to a patient with abdominal pain (a medical situation). The other two tapes dealt with a social situation (the lack of an invitation to a barbecue) and a neutral situation (a car breakdown). Each tape contained ten messages, including four that addressed possible explanations for the problem. Two were unambiguous and negative—for example, “the reason for your complaints is definitely not stomach flu.” Two were ambiguous but highly unlikely—“we don't think that you have bowel cancer; this is very unlikely.” The researchers then assessed how well the participants remembered the likelihood that any given explanation was responsible for the patient's symptoms, the missing invitation, or the broken-down car. The patients with somatization syndrome overestimated the likelihood of medical causes for symptoms, particularly (and somewhat surprisingly) when the doctor's assessment had been unambiguous. By contrast, the other participants correctly remembered the doctor's estimates as low. The three study groups were similar in their recall of the likelihood estimates from the social or neutral situation. Finally, when asked to imagine that the medical situation was personally applicable, the patients with unexplained symptoms reacted more emotionally than the other study participants by reporting more concerns with their health.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results support the researchers' hypothesis that people with somatization syndrome remember the chance that a given symptom has a specific medical cause incorrectly. This is not because of a general memory deficit or an inability to commit health-related facts to memory. The results also indicate that these patients react emotionally to medical situations, so they may find it hard to cope when a doctor fails to explain all their symptoms. Some of these characteristics could, of course, reflect the patients' previous experiences with medical professionals, and the experiment will need to be repeated with additional taped situations and more patients before firm recommendations can be made to help people with somatization syndrome. Nevertheless, given that medical reassurance and the presentation of negative results led to overestimates of the likelihood of medical explanations for symptoms in patients with somatization syndrome, the researchers recommend that doctors bear this bias in mind. To reduce it, they suggest, doctors could ask patients for summaries about what they have been told. This would make it possible to detect when patients have misremembered the likelihood of various medical explanations, and provide an opportunity to correct the situation.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030269.
• MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on somatization disorder
• Wikipedia page on somatization disorder (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
• Prodigy Knowledge's information for patients on somatization and somatoform disorders
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030269
PMCID: PMC1523375  PMID: 16866576
24.  How well do doctors think they perform on the General Medical Council's Tests of Competence pilot examinations? A cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e004131.
Objective
To investigate how accurately doctors estimated their performance on the General Medical Council's Tests of Competence pilot examinations.
Design
A cross-sectional survey design using a questionnaire method.
Setting
University College London Medical School.
Participants
524 medical doctors working in a range of clinical specialties between foundation year two and consultant level.
Main outcome measures
Estimated and actual total scores on a knowledge test and Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
Results
The pattern of results for OSCE performance differed from the results for knowledge test performance. The majority of doctors significantly underestimated their OSCE performance. Whereas estimated knowledge test performance differed between high and low performers. Those who did particularly well significantly underestimated their knowledge test performance (t (196)=−7.70, p<0.01) and those who did less well significantly overestimated (t (172)=6.09, p<0.01). There were also significant differences between estimated and/or actual performance by gender, ethnicity and region of Primary Medical Qualification.
Conclusions
Doctors were more accurate in predicating their knowledge test performance than their OSCE performance. The association between estimated and actual knowledge test performance supports the established differences between high and low performers described in the behavioural sciences literature. This was not the case for the OSCE. The implications of the results to the revalidation process are discussed.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004131
PMCID: PMC3918998  PMID: 24503300
Education & Training (see Medical Education & Training); Medical Education & Training; Statistics & Research Methods
25.  Attitudes of Medical Students, Clinicians and Sports Scientists Towards Exercise Counselling 
We compared the amount of exercise undertaken by medical students, clinicians, and sport scientists with the National Australian Physical Activity (NAPA) Guidelines. A second aim was to compare attitudes to exercise counselling as preventive medicine between university- and clinic-based professionals. The research setting was a university medical school and a sports science sports medicine centre. A 20-item questionnaire was completed by 216 individuals (131 medical students, 43 clinicians and 37 sports scientists). Self-reported physical activity habits, exercise counselling practices and attitudes towards preventive medicine were assessed. The physical activity undertaken by most respondents (70%) met NAPA Guidelines. General practitioners had significantly lower compliance rates with NAPA Guidelines than other professionals. More than half of clinicians and medical students (54%) were less active now compared with levels of activity undertaken prior to graduate training. Most physicians (68%) reported they sometimes discuss physical activity with patients. In contrast, the majority of non-medically qualified respondents (60%) said they never discuss physical activity with their doctor. Most respondents (70%) had positive attitudes to exercise counselling. Sports scientists and respondents who were highly active in childhood had more positive attitudes to exercise counselling than others. Health professionals in this study were more active than the general population, however healthy exercise habits tend to deteriorate after the commencement of medical training. Despite the important role of doctors in health promotion, the degree of exercise counselling to patients is low.
Key pointsThe rate of exercise counselling by doctors to patients is lowSports physicians and scientists have substantially more positive attitudes to exercise counselling than clinicians and medical studentsMedical schools have a responsibility to promote physical activity of students and improve training in exercise counselling
PMCID: PMC3737811  PMID: 24150613
Physical activity; exercise; counselling; university; medical school; attitudes.

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