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1.  Quality of cardiovascular disease care in Ontario’s primary care practices: a cross sectional study examining differences in guideline adherence by patient sex 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:123.
Background
Women are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease, often experiencing poorer outcomes following a cardiovascular event. Evidence points to inequities in processes of care as a potential contributing factor. This study sought to determine whether any sex differences exist in adherence to process of care guidelines for cardiovascular disease within primary care practices in Ontario, Canada.
Methods
This is a secondary analysis of pooled cross-sectional baseline data collected through a larger quality improvement initiative known as the Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC). Chart abstraction was performed for 4,931 patients from 84 primary care practices in Eastern Ontario who had, or were at high risk of, cardiovascular disease. Measures examining adherence to guidelines associated with nine areas of cardiovascular care (coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), stroke/transient ischemic attack, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, smoking cessation, and weight management) were collected. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed to evaluate sex differences, adjusting for age, physician remuneration, and rurality.
Results
Women were significantly less likely to have their lipid profiles taken (OR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.03-1.33), be prescribed lipid lowering medication for dyslipidemia (OR = 1.54, 95% CI 1.20-1.97), and to be prescribed ASA following stroke (OR = 1.56, 95% CI 1.39-1.75). Women with PVD were significantly less likely to be prescribed ACE inhibitors and/or angiotensin receptor blockers (OR = 1.74, 95% CI 1.25-2.41) and lipid lowering medications (OR = 1.95, 95% CI 1.46-2.62) or ASA (OR = 1.59, 95% CI 1.43-1.78). However, women were more likely to have two blood pressure measurements taken and to be referred to a dietician or weight loss program. Male patients with diabetes were less likely to be prescribed glycemic control medication (OR = 0.84, 95% CI 0.74-0.86).
Conclusions
Sex disparities exist in the quality of cardiovascular care in Canadian primary care practices, which tend to favour men. Women with PVD have a particularly high risk of not receiving appropriate medications. Our findings indicate that improvements in care delivery should be made to address these issues, particularly with regard to the prescribing of recommended medications for women, and preventive measures for men.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-123
PMCID: PMC4069341  PMID: 24938405
Sex equity; Primary care; Cardiovascular disease; Guideline adherence
2.  Comparison of primary care models in the prevention of cardiovascular disease - a cross sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:114.
Background
Primary care providers play an important role in preventing and managing cardiovascular disease. This study compared the quality of preventive cardiovascular care delivery amongst different primary care models.
Methods
This is a secondary analysis of a larger randomized control trial, known as the Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC) through Outreach Facilitation. Using baseline data collected through IDOCC, we conducted a cross-sectional study of 82 primary care practices from three delivery models in Eastern Ontario, Canada: 43 fee-for-service, 27 blended-capitation and 12 community health centres with salary-based physicians. Medical chart audits from 4,808 patients with or at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease were used to examine each practice's adherence to ten evidence-based processes of care for diabetes, chronic kidney disease, dyslipidemia, hypertension, weight management, and smoking cessation care. Generalized estimating equation models adjusting for age, sex, rurality, number of cardiovascular-related comorbidities, and year of data collection were used to compare guideline adherence amongst the three models.
Results
The percentage of patients with diabetes that received two hemoglobin A1c tests during the study year was significantly higher in community health centres (69%) than in fee-for-service (45%) practices (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 2.4 [95% CI 1.4-4.2], p = 0.001). Blended capitation practices had a significantly higher percentage of patients who had their waistlines monitored than in fee-for-service practices (19% vs. 5%, AOR = 3.7 [1.8-7.8], p = 0.0006), and who were recommended a smoking cessation drug when compared to community health centres (33% vs. 16%, AOR = 2.4 [1.3-4.6], p = 0.007). Overall, quality of diabetes care was higher in community health centres, while smoking cessation care and weight management was higher in the blended-capitation models. Fee-for-service practices had the greatest gaps in care, most noticeably in diabetes care and weight management.
Conclusions
This study adds to the evidence suggesting that primary care delivery model impacts quality of care. These findings support current Ontario reforms to move away from the traditional fee-for-service practice.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00574808
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-114
PMCID: PMC3215648  PMID: 22008366
3.  Development of the Champlain primary care cardiovascular disease prevention and management guideline 
Canadian Family Physician  2011;57(6):e202-e207.
Abstract
Problem addressed
A well documented gap remains between evidence and practice for clinical practice guidelines in cardiovascular disease (CVD) care.
Objective of program
As part of the Champlain CVD Prevention Strategy, practitioners in the Champlain District of Ontario launched a large quality-improvement initiative that focused on increasing the uptake in primary care practice settings of clinical guidelines for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and CVD risk factors.
Program description
The Champlain Primary Care CVD Prevention and Management Guideline is a desktop resource for primary care clinicians working in the Champlain District. The guideline was developed by more than 45 local experts to summarize the latest evidence-based strategies for CVD prevention and management, as well as to increase awareness of local community-based programs and services.
Conclusion
Evidence suggests that tailored strategies are important when implementing specific practice guidelines. This article describes the process of creating an integrated clinical guideline for improvement in the delivery of cardiovascular care.
PMCID: PMC3114691  PMID: 21673196
4.  Excess risk attributable to traditional cardiovascular risk factors in clinical practice settings across Europe - The EURIKA Study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:704.
Background
Physicians involved in primary prevention are key players in CVD risk control strategies, but the expected reduction in CVD risk that would be obtained if all patients attending primary care had their risk factors controlled according to current guidelines is unknown. The objective of this study was to estimate the excess risk attributable, firstly, to the presence of CVD risk factors and, secondly, to the lack of control of these risk factors in primary prevention care across Europe.
Methods
Cross-sectional study using data from the European Study on Cardiovascular Risk Prevention and Management in Daily Practice (EURIKA), which involved primary care and outpatient clinics involved in primary prevention from 12 European countries between May 2009 and January 2010. We enrolled 7,434 patients over 50 years old with at least one cardiovascular risk factor but without CVD and calculated their 10-year risk of CVD death according to the SCORE equation, modified to take diabetes risk into account.
Results
The average 10-year risk of CVD death in study participants (N = 7,434) was 8.2%. Hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking, and diabetes were responsible for 32.7 (95% confidence interval 32.0-33.4), 15.1 (14.8-15.4), 10.4 (9.9-11.0), and 16.4% (15.6-17.2) of CVD risk, respectively. The four risk factors accounted for 57.7% (57.0-58.4) of CVD risk, representing a 10-year excess risk of CVD death of 5.66% (5.47-5.85). Lack of control of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking, and diabetes were responsible for 8.8 (8.3-9.3), 10.6 (10.3-10.9), 10.4 (9.9-11.0), and 3.1% (2.8-3.4) of CVD risk, respectively. Lack of control of the four risk factors accounted for 29.2% (28.5-29.8) of CVD risk, representing a 10-year excess risk of CVD death of 3.12% (2.97-3.27).
Conclusions
Lack of control of CVD risk factors was responsible for almost 30% of the risk of CVD death among patients participating in the EURIKA Study.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-704
PMCID: PMC3184074  PMID: 21923932
cardiovascular disease; mortality; risk factors; control; SCORE
5.  Rationale and methods of the European Study on Cardiovascular Risk Prevention and Management in Daily Practice (EURIKA) 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:382.
Background
The EURIKA study aims to assess the status of primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) across Europe. Specifically, it will determine the degree of control of cardiovascular risk factors in current clinical practice in relation to the European guidelines on cardiovascular prevention. It will also assess physicians' knowledge and attitudes about CVD prevention as well as the barriers impeding effective risk factor management in clinical practice.
Methods/Design
Cross-sectional study conducted simultaneously in 12 countries across Europe. The study has two components: firstly at the physician level, assessing eight hundred and nine primary care and specialist physicians with a daily practice in CVD prevention. A physician specific questionnaire captures information regarding physician demographics, practice settings, cardiovascular prevention beliefs and management. Secondly at the patient level, including 7641 patients aged 50 years or older, free of clinical CVD and with at least one classical risk factor, enrolled by the participating physicians. A patient-specific questionnaire captures information from clinical records and patient interview regarding sociodemographic data, CVD risk factors, and current medications. Finally, each patient provides a fasting blood sample, which is sent to a central laboratory for measuring serum lipids, apolipoproteins, hemoglobin-A1c, and inflammatory biomarkers.
Discussion
Primary prevention of CVD is an extremely important clinical issue, with preventable circulatory diseases remaining the leading cause of major disease burden. The EURIKA study will provide key information to assess effectiveness of and attitudes toward primary prevention of CVD in Europe. A transnational study creates opportunities for benchmarking good clinical practice across countries and improving outcomes. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00882336.)
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-382
PMCID: PMC2909167  PMID: 20591142
6.  Which practice characteristics are associated with the quality of cardiovascular disease prevention in European primary care? 
Background
Prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is a major health issue worldwide. Primary care plays an important role in cardiovascular risk management (CVRM). Guidelines and quality of care measures to assess CVRM in primary care practices are available. In this study, we assessed the relationship between structural and organisational practice characteristics and the quality of care provided in individuals at high risk for developing CVD in European primary care.
Methods
An observational study was conducted in 267 general practices from 9 European countries. Previously developed quality indicators were abstracted from medical records of randomly sampled patients to create a composite quality measure. Practice characteristics were collected by a practice questionnaire and face to face interviews. Data were aggregated using factor analysis to four practice scores representing structural and organisational practice features. A hierarchical multilevel analysis was performed to examine the impact of practice characteristics on quality of CVRM.
Results
The final sample included 4223 individuals at high risk for developing CVD (28% female) with a mean age of 66.5 years (SD 9.1). Mean indicator achievement was 59.9% with a greater variation between practices than between countries. Predictors at the patient level (age, gender) had no influence on the outcome. At the practice level, the score ‘Preventive Services’ (13 items) was positively associated with clinical performance (r = 1.92; p = 0.0058). Sensitivity analyses resulted in a 5-item score (PrevServ_5) that was also positively associated with the outcome (r = 4.28; p < 0.0001).
Conclusions
There was a positive association between the quality of CVRM in individuals at high risk for developing CVD and the availability of preventive services related to risk assessment and lifestyle management supported by information technology.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-27
PMCID: PMC3599517  PMID: 23510482
7.  Implementation of Spanish adaptation of the European guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:36.
Background
The successful implementation of cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention guidelines relies heavily on primary care physicians (PCPs) providing risk factor evaluation, intervention and patient education. The aim of this study was to ascertain the degree of awareness and implementation of the Spanish adaptation of the European guidelines on CVD prevention in clinical practice (CEIPC guidelines) among PCPs.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey of PCPs was conducted in Spain between January and June 2011. A random sample of 1,390 PCPs was obtained and stratified by region. Data were collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire.
Results
More than half (58%) the physicians were aware of and knew the recommendations, and 62% of those claimed to use them in clinical practice, with general physicians (without any specialist accreditation) being less likely to so than family doctors. Most PCPs (60%) did not assess cardiovascular risk, with the limited time available in the surgery being cited as the greatest barrier by 81%. The main reason to be sceptical about recommendations, reported by 71% of physicians, was that there are too many guidelines. Almost half the doctors cited the lack of training and skills as the greatest barrier to the implementation of lifestyle and behavioural change recommendations.
Conclusions
Most PCPs were aware of the Spanish adaptation of the European guidelines on CVD prevention (CEIPC guidelines) and knew their content. However, only one third of PCPs used the guidelines in clinical practice and less than half CVD risk assessment tools.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-36
PMCID: PMC3608081  PMID: 23506390
Cardiovascular disease; Practice guidelines; Risk assessment; Primary care providers; Implementation
8.  Zero end-digit preference in recorded blood pressure and its impact on classification of patients for pharmacologic management in primary care — PREDICT-CVD–6 
Background
Most blood pressure recordings end with a zero end-digit despite guidelines recommending measurement to the nearest 2 mmHg. The impact of rounding on management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk is unknown.
Aim
To document the use of rounding to zero end-digit and assess its potential impact on eligibility for pharmacologic management of CVD risk.
Design of study
Cross-sectional study.
Setting
A total of 23 676 patients having opportunistic CVD risk assessment in primary care practices in New Zealand.
Method
To simulate rounding in practice, for patients with systolic blood pressures recorded without a zero end-digit, a second blood pressure measure was generated by arithmetically rounding to the nearest zero end-digit. A 10-year Framingham CVD risk score was estimated using actual and rounded blood pressures. Eligibility for pharmacologic treatment was then determined using the Joint British Societies' JBS2 and the British Hypertension Society BHS–IV guidelines based on actual and rounded blood pressure values.
Results
Zero end-digits were recorded in 64% of systolic and 62% of diastolic blood pressures. When eligibility for drug treatment was based only on a Framingham 10-year CVD risk threshold of 20% or more, rounding misclassified one in 41 of all those patients subject to this error. Under the two guidelines which use different combinations of CVD risk and blood pressure thresholds, one in 19 would be misclassified under JBS2 and one in 12 under the BHS–IV guidelines mostly towards increased treatment.
Conclusion
Zero end-digit preference significantly increases a patient's likelihood of being classified as eligible for drug treatment. Guidelines that base treatment decisions primarily on absolute CVD risk are less susceptible to these errors.
PMCID: PMC2169314  PMID: 17976291
blood pressure determination; data quality; decision support systems; evidence-based medicine; practice guidelines; professional practice; risk assessment
9.  Underutilization of Aspirin for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Among HIV-Infected Patients 
Aspirin for primary prevention of cardiovascular events is underutilized in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected patients. As these patients are at increased risk for events compared with HIV-negative persons, interventions are needed to increase HIV provider awareness of and adherence to existing guidelines.
Background. Individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) events compared with uninfected persons. However, little is known about HIV provider practices regarding aspirin (ASA) for primary prevention of CVD.
Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted among patients attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham 1917 HIV Clinic during 2010 to determine the proportion receiving ASA for primary prevention of CVD and identify factors associated with ASA prescription. Ten-year risk for CVD events was calculated for men aged 45–79 and women aged 55–79. The 2009 US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines were used to determine those qualifying for primary CVD prevention.
Results. Among 397 patients who qualified to receive ASA (mean age, 52.2 years, 94% male, 36% African American), only 66 (17%) were prescribed ASA. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, diabetes mellitus (odds ratio [OR], 2.60; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.28–5.27), hyperlipidemia (OR, 3.42; 95% CI, 1.55–7.56), and current smoking (OR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.03–3.41) were significantly associated with ASA prescription. Odds of ASA prescription more than doubled for each additional CVD-related comorbidity present among hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and smoking (OR, 2.13, 95% CI, 1.51–2.99).
Conclusions. In this HIV-infected cohort, fewer than 1 in 5 patients in need received ASA for primary CVD prevention. Escalating likelihood of ASA prescription with increasing CVD-related comorbidity count suggests that providers may be influenced more by co-occurrence of these diagnoses than by USPSTF guidelines. In the absence of HIV-specific guidelines, interventions to improve HIV provider awareness of and adherence to existing general population guidelines on CVD risk reduction are needed.
doi:10.1093/cid/cis752
PMCID: PMC3491860  PMID: 22942209
10.  Cardiovascular Disease Self-Care Interventions 
Nursing Research and Practice  2013;2013:407608.
Background. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a major cause of increased morbidity and mortality globally. Clinical practice guidelines recommend that individuals with CVD are routinely instructed to engage in self-care including diet restrictions, medication adherence, and symptom monitoring. Objectives. To describe the nature of nurse-led CVD self-care interventions, identify limitations in current nurse-led CVD self-care interventions, and make recommendations for addressing them in future research. Design. Integrative review of nurse-led CVD self-care intervention studies from PubMed, MEDLINE, ISI Web of Science, and CINAHL. Primary studies (n = 34) that met the inclusion criteria of nurse-led RCT or quasiexperimental CVD self-care intervention studies (years 2000 to 2012) were retained and appraised. Quality of the review was assured by having at least two reviewers screen and extract all data. Results. A variety of self-care intervention strategies were studied among the male (57%) and Caucasian (67%) dominated samples. Combined interventions were common, and quality of life was the most frequent outcome evaluated. Effectiveness of interventions was inconclusive, and in general results were not sustained over time. Conclusions. Research is needed to develop and test tailored and inclusive CVD self-care interventions. Attention to rigorous study designs and methods including consistent outcomes and measurement is essential.
doi:10.1155/2013/407608
PMCID: PMC3816062  PMID: 24223305
11.  Evaluation of a toolkit to improve cardiovascular disease screening and treatment for people with type 2 diabetes: protocol for a cluster-randomized pragmatic trial 
Trials  2010;11:44.
Background
The gap between the level of care recommended by evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and the actual care delivered to patients in practice has been well established. The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) created an implementation strategy to improve the implementation of its 2008 guidelines. This study will evaluate the impact of the strategy to improve cardiovascular disease (CVD) screening, prevention and treatment for people with diabetes.
Design
A pragmatic cluster-randomized trial will be conducted to evaluate the CDA's CVD Toolkit. All family physicians in Ontario, Canada were randomly allocated to receive the Toolkit, which includes several printed educational materials targeting CVD screening, prevention and treatment, either in spring 2009 (intervention arm) or in spring 2010 (control arm). Randomization occurred at the level of the practice. Forty family physicians from each arm will be recruited to participate, and the medical records for 20 of their diabetic patients at high risk for CVD will be retrospectively reviewed. Outcome measures will be assessed for each patient between July 2009 and March 2010. The primary outcome will be that the patient is receiving a statin. Secondary outcomes will include 1) the receipt of an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker, 2) various intermediate measures (A1c, blood pressure, LDL-cholesterol, total-/HDL-cholesterol ratio, body mass index and waist circumference), and 3) clinical inertia (the failure to change therapy in response to an abnormal A1c, blood pressure or cholesterol reading). The analysis will be carried out using multilevel hierarchical logistic regression models to account for the clustered nature of the data. The group assignment will be a physician-level variable. In addition, a process evaluation study with six focus groups of family physicians will assess the acceptability of the CDA's Toolkit and will explore factors contributing to any change or lack of change in behaviour, from the perspectives of family physicians.
Discussion
Printed educational materials for physicians have been shown to exert small-to-moderate changes in patient care. The CDA's CVD Toolkit is an example of a practice guideline implementation strategy that can be disseminated to a wide audience relatively inexpensively, and so demonstrating its effectiveness at improving diabetes care could have important consequences for guideline developers, policy makers and clinicians.
Trial Registration
The trial is registered with http://www.clinicaltrials.gov, ID # NCT01026688
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-11-44
PMCID: PMC2867980  PMID: 20416080
12.  Effectiveness of a tailored intervention to improve cardiovascular risk management in primary care: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:433.
Background
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an important worldwide cause of mortality. In The Netherlands, CVD is the leading cause of death for women and the second cause of death for men. Recommendations for diagnosis and treatment of CVD are not well implemented in primary care. In this study, we aim to examine the effectiveness of a tailored implementation program targeted at practice nurses to improve healthcare for patients with (high risk for) CVD.
Methods/design
A two-arm cluster randomized trial is planned. We offer practice nurses a tailored program to improve adherence to six specific recommendations related to blood pressure and cholesterol target values, risk profiling and lifestyle advice. Practice nurses are offered training and feedback on their motivational interviewing technique and an e-learning program on cardiovascular risk management (CVRM). They are also advised to screen for the presence and severity of depressive symptoms in patients. We also advise practice nurses to use selected E-health options (selected websites and Twitter-consult) in patients without symptoms of depression. Patients with mild depressive symptoms are referred to a physical exercise group. We recommend referring patients with major depressive symptoms for assessment and treatment of depressive symptoms if appropriate before starting CVRM. Data from 900 patients at high risk of CVD or with established CVD will be collected in 30 general practices in several geographical areas in The Netherlands. The primary outcome measure is performance of practice nurses in CVRM and reflects application of recommendations for personalized counselling and education of CVRM patients. Patients’ health-related lifestyles (physical exercise, diet and smoking status) will be measured with validated questionnaires and medical record audit will be performed to document estimated CVD risk. Additionally, we will survey and interview participating healthcare professionals for exploration of processes of change. The control practices will provide usual care.
Discussion
Tailored interventions can improve healthcare. An understanding of the methods to reach the improved healthcare can be improved. This research contributes a share of it. Identification of the determinants of practice and developing implementation interventions were two steps which were completed. The subsequent step was implementation of the tailored intervention program.
Trial registration
Name trial register: Nederlands trial register
Web address of trial register: http://www.trialregister.nl
Data of registration: 11 July 2013
Number of registration: NTR4069
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-433
PMCID: PMC3895794  PMID: 24341368
Cardiovascular disease; Tailored implementation of chronic diseases; General practices; Practice nurses; Tailored implementation program; E-health; Physical activity; Motivational interviewing
13.  Improved delivery of cardiovascular care (IDOCC) through outreach facilitation: study protocol and implementation details of a cluster randomized controlled trial in primary care 
Background
There is a need to find innovative approaches for translating best practices for chronic disease care into daily primary care practice routines. Primary care plays a crucial role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease. There is, however, a substantive care gap, and many challenges exist in implementing evidence-based care. The Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC) project is a pragmatic trial designed to improve the delivery of evidence-based care for the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease in primary care practices using practice outreach facilitation.
Methods
The IDOCC project is a stepped-wedge cluster randomized control trial in which Practice Outreach Facilitators work with primary care practices to improve cardiovascular disease prevention and management for patients at highest risk. Primary care practices in a large health region in Eastern Ontario, Canada, were eligible to participate. The intervention consists of regular monthly meetings with the Practice Outreach Facilitator over a one- to two-year period. Starting with audit and feedback, consensus building, and goal setting, the practices are supported in changing practice behavior by incorporating chronic care model elements. These elements include (a) evidence-based decision support for providers, (b) delivery system redesign for practices, (c) enhanced self-management support tools provided to practices to help them engage patients, and (d) increased community resource linkages for practices to enhance referral of patients. The primary outcome is a composite score measured at the level of the patient to represent each practice's adherence to evidence-based guidelines for cardiovascular care. Qualitative analysis of the Practice Outreach Facilitators' written narratives of their ongoing practice interactions will be done. These textual analyses will add further insight into understanding critical factors impacting project implementation.
Discussion
This pragmatic, stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial with both quantitative and process evaluations demonstrates innovative methods of implementing large-scale quality improvement and evidence-based approaches to care delivery. This is the first Canadian study to examine the impact of a large-scale multifaceted cardiovascular quality-improvement program in primary care. It is anticipated that through the evaluation of IDOCC, we will demonstrate an effective, practical, and sustainable means of improving the cardiovascular health of patients across Canada.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00574808
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-110
PMCID: PMC3197547  PMID: 21952084
14.  European Practice Assessment of Cardiovascular risk management (EPA Cardio): protocol of an international observational study in primary care 
Background
Despite important improvements in available prevention and treatment, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remain an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Not all high-risk patients and patients with CVD have healthy lifestyles and receive the best possible healthcare. Internationally comparative data are needed to compare cardiovascular risk management in different countries, and to examine the impact of improvement programs and others factors.
Objectives
This study aims to provide internationally comparative data on cardiovascular risk management provided in primary care and on health-related lifestyles of patients in Europe. The study will also explore the views of doctors and patients on innovative preventive services for CVDs.
Design and methods
An observational cross-sectional study is planned. In 10 European countries, stratified samples of 36 practices per country will be recruited. In each practice, three samples of 15 patients each will be sampled: patients with coronary heart disease, patients at high risk for CVD, and healthy adult patients. The quality of cardiovascular risk management has been specified in terms of 44 performance indicators that resulted from an international Delphi-procedure with general practitioners. Most indicators are based on medical records, and some on a structured interview with a contact person of the practice. Lifestyle (smoking, physical exercise, diet) will be measured with previously validated questionnaires that are completed by patients. Additional measures include practice characteristics and exposure to programs to improve cardiovascular care.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-3
PMCID: PMC2627825  PMID: 19128457
15.  Cardiovascular disease prevention in rural Nigeria in the context of a community based health insurance scheme: QUality Improvement Cardiovascular care Kwara-I (QUICK-I) 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:186.
Background
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a leading contributor to the burden of disease in low- and middle-income countries. Guidelines for CVD prevention care in low resource settings have been developed but little information is available on strategies to implement this care. A community health insurance program might be used to improve patients' access to care. The operational research project "QUality Improvement Cardiovascular care Kwara - I (QUICK-I)" aims to assess the feasibility of CVD prevention care in rural Nigeria, according to international guidelines, in the context of a community based health insurance scheme.
Methods/Design
Design: prospective observational hospital based cohort study.
Setting: a primary health care centre in rural Nigeria.
Study population: 300 patients at risk for development of CVD (patients with hypertension, diabetes, renal disease or established CVD) who are enrolled in the Hygeia Community Health Plan.
Measurements: demographic and socio- economic data, physical and laboratory examination, CVD risk profile including screening for target organ damage. Measurements will be done at 3 month intervals during 1 year. Direct and indirect costs of CVD prevention care will be estimated.
Outcomes: 1) The adjusted cardiovascular quality of care indicator scores based on the "United Kingdom National Health Services Quality and Outcome Framework". 2) The average costs of CVD prevention and treatment per patient per year for patients, the clinic and the insurance company. 3) The estimated net health care costs of standard CVD prevention care per quality-adjusted life year gained.
Analysis: The primary outcomes, the score on CVD quality indicators and cost data will be descriptive. The quality scores and cost data will be used to describe the feasibility of CVD prevention care according to international guidelines. A cost-effectiveness analysis will be done using a Markov model.
Discussion
Results of QUICK-I can be used by policy makers and professionals who aim to implement CVD prevention programs in settings with limited resources. The context of the insurance program will provide insight in the opportunities community health insurance may offer to attain sustainable chronic disease management programs in low resource settings.
Trial registration
This protocol has been registered at ISRCTN, ID number: ISRCTN47894401.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-186
PMCID: PMC3073902  PMID: 21439057
16.  Knowledge and attitudes of primary care physicians in the management of patients at risk for cardiovascular events 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:42.
Background
Adherence to clinical practice guidelines for management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is suboptimal. The purposes of this study were to identify practice patterns and barriers among U.S. general internists and family physicians in regard to cardiovascular risk management, and examine the association between physician characteristics and cardiovascular risk management.
Methods
A case vignette survey focused on cardiovascular disease risk management was distributed to a random sample of 12,000 U.S. family physicians and general internists between November and December 2006.
Results
Responses from a total of 888 practicing primary care physicians who see 60 patients per week were used for analysis. In an asymptomatic patient at low risk for cardiovascular event, 28% of family physicians and 37% of general internists made guideline-based preventive choices for no antiplatelet therapy (p < .01). In a patient at high risk for cardiovascular event, 59% of family physicians and 56% of general internists identified the guideline-based goal for serum fasting LDL level (< 100 mg/dl). Guideline adherence was inversely related to years in practice and volume of patients seen. Cost of medications (87.7%), adherence to medications (74.1%), adequate time for counseling (55.7%), patient education tools (47.1%), knowledge and skills to recommend dietary changes (47.8%) and facilitate patient adherence (52.0%) were cited as significant barriers to CVD risk management.
Conclusion
Despite the benefits demonstrated for managing cardiovascular risks, gaps remain in primary care practitioners' management of risks according to guideline recommendations. Innovative educational approaches that address barriers may facilitate the implementation of guideline-based recommendations in CVD risk management.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-42
PMCID: PMC2474612  PMID: 18611255
17.  Touch screen computer health assessment in Australian general practice patients: a cross-sectional study protocol 
BMJ Open  2012;2(4):e001405.
Introduction
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer are leading causes of death globally. Early detection of cancer and risk factors for CVD may improve health outcomes and reduce mortality. General practitioners (GPs) are accessed by the majority of the population and play a key role in the prevention and early detection of chronic disease risk factors. This cross-sectional study aims to assess the acceptability of an electronic method of data collection in general practice patients. The study will describe the proportion screened in line with guidelines for CVD risk factors and cancer as well as report the prevalence of depression, lifestyle risk factors, level of provision of preconception care, cervical cancer vaccination and bone density testing. Lastly, the study will assess the level of agreement between GPs and patients perception regarding presence of risk factors and screening.
Methods and analysis
The study has been designed to maximise recruitment of GPs by including practitioners in the research team, minimising participation burden on GPs and offering remuneration for participation. Patient recruitment will be carried out by a research assistant located in general practice waiting rooms. Participants will be asked regarding the acceptability of the touch screen computer and to report on a range of health risk and preventive behaviours using the touch screen computer. GPs will complete a one-page survey indicating their perception of the presence of risk behaviours in their patients. Descriptive statistics will be generated to describe the acceptability of the touch screen and prevalence of health risk behaviours. Cohen's κ will be used to assess agreement between GP and patient perception of presence of health risk behaviours.
Ethics and dissemination
This study has been approved by the human research committees in participating universities. Findings will be disseminated via peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations as well as practice summaries provided to participating practices.
Article summary
Article focus
Cross-sectional study assessing the acceptability of the use of a portable touch screen computer in order to assess CVD and cancer-related health risk factors as well as the level of preventive behaviours in general practice patients.
This study will also assess whether a touch screen computer health assessment is likely to provide useful information to GPs by assessing the level of agreement between GP and patient self-report on the presence of health risk behaviours.
Key message
With touch screen technology becoming more accessible, there is likely to be increased potential to use these technologies to assist in health risk factor assessment as well as delivery of healthcare advice particularly in general practice.
Whether this technology is acceptable to patients and GPs are key indicators of the potential of touch screen assessment to be integrated in delivery of healthcare in the general practice setting.
Strengths and limitations of this study
The study has been designed in order to maximise recruitment of GPs.
A large sample size of almost 3000 patients will be obtained.
As this is a cross-sectional study, no causal relationships can be identified.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001405
PMCID: PMC3448137  PMID: 22761290
18.  Predictors of Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease in European Primary Care 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29334.
Background
Cardiovascular risk management plays an important role in primary care. In patients at high risk for cardiovascular diseases (CVD) lifestyle and, where appropriate, medical interventions are recommended in guidelines. Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is an important outcome in clinical practice. This study aimed to assess the HRQoL of this patient group and to investigate the impact of both patients' characteristics and practice quality scores on their assessments of HRQoL.
Methods and Findings
An observational study in 218 general practices from 8 European countries was conducted. 2142 patients at risk for CVD (33.5% female) with a mean age of 66.3 (SD 9.1) years completed a questionnaire including the EQ-5D instrument and provided data from medical record. Validated quality indicators of general practices were assessed using practice questionnaires and face-to-face interviews. A hierarchical multilevel analysis was performed to identify predictors of EQ-5D scores at patient and practice level. The mean EQ-5D score was 0.78 (SD 0.19). Female gender (r = −0.03, p<0.0016), age (r = −0.01, p = 0.0387) and lower educational level (r = −0.03, p<0.0001) were correlated negatively with EQ-5D scores. Clinically more important was the correlation of HRQoL with the frequency of practice contacts (r = −0.12, p<0.0001) and the number of uncontrolled risk factors (r = −0.01, p<0.0039). Medication adherence (r = 0.032, p<0.0001), and physical activity (r = 0.02, p<0.0001) were identified as positive predictors of HRQoL. The EUPROPEP-score category ‘organization’ (r = 0.02, p<0.0001) was positively related to EQ-5D scores, whereas other practice scores were not correlated to EQ-5D-scores.
Conclusions
In patients at risk for CVD, good medication adherence, regular physical activity, controlling of biomedical risk factor levels and patient-centered practice organization have been shown to be positively correlated to HRQoL and should therefore be targeted in interventions not only to reduce morbidity but also to sustain or even to ameliorate HRQoL.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029334
PMCID: PMC3245263  PMID: 22216250
19.  Economic analysis of Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario’s Hypertension Management Initiative 
Objectives
Hypertension is suboptimally treated in primary care settings. We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario’s Hypertension Management Initiative (HMI), an interdisciplinary, evidence-informed chronic disease management model for primary care that focuses on improving blood pressure management and control by primary care providers and patients according to clinical best practice guidelines.
Methods
The perspective of our analysis was that of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care with a lifetime horizon and 5% annual discount rate. Using data from a prospective cohort study from the HMI, we created two matched groups: pre-HMI (standard care), and post-HMI (n = 1720). For each patient, we estimated the 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) using the Framingham risk equation and life expectancy from life tables. Long-term health care costs incurred with physician visits, acute and chronic care hospitalizations, emergency department visits, same-day surgeries, and medication use were determined through linkage to administrative databases, using a bottom-up approach.
Results
The HMI intervention was associated with significant reductions in systolic blood pressure (126 mmHg vs 134 mmHg with standard care; P-value < 0.001). These improvements were associated with a reduction in the 10-year risk of CVD (9.5% risk vs 10.7% in standard care; P-value < 0.001) and a statistically significant improvement in discounted life expectancy (9.536 years vs 9.516 in standard care; P-value < 0.001). The HMI cohort had a discounted mean lifetime cost of $22,884 CAD vs $22,786 CAD for standard care, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $4939 CAD per life-year gained.
Conclusion
We found that the HMI is a cost-effective means of providing evidence-informed, chronic disease management in primary care to patients with hypertension.
doi:10.2147/CEOR.S33390
PMCID: PMC3501398  PMID: 23180969
hypertension; economic evaluation; cardiovascular disease
20.  Quality of Cardiovascular Disease Preventive Care and Physician/Practice Characteristics 
BACKGROUND
Quality of cardiovascular disease (CVD) preventive care is suboptimal. Recent data correlated increasing years in practice for physicians with lower-quality health care.
OBJECTIVE
The purpose of this study was to assess physician awareness/adherence to national blood pressure, cholesterol, and CVD prevention guidelines for women according to physician/practice characteristics.
DESIGN
Standardized online survey and experimental case studies were administered to 500 randomly selected U.S. physicians. Multivariable regression models tested physician age, gender, specialty, and practice type as independent predictors of guideline awareness/adherence.
RESULTS
Compared with older physicians (50+ years), younger physicians (<50 years) reported a lower level of awareness of cholesterol guidelines (P=.04) and lower incorporation of women's guidelines (P=.02). Yet, older physicians were less likely to recommend weight management for high-risk cases (P=.03) and less confident in helping patients manage weight (P=.045) than younger physicians. Older physicians were also less likely to identify a low-density lipoprotein<100 mg/dL as optimal versus younger physicians (P=.01), as were solo versus nonsolo practitioners (P=.02). Solo practitioners were less aware of cholesterol guidelines (P=.04) and were more likely to prescribe aspirin for low-risk female patients than nonsolo practitioners (P<.01). Solo practitioners rated their clinical judgment as more effective than guidelines in improving patient health outcomes (P<.01) and more frequently rated the patient as the greatest barrier to CVD prevention versus nonsolo practitioners (P<.01).
CONCLUSIONS
Though guideline awareness is high, efforts to promote their utilization are needed and may improve quality outcomes. Targeted education and support for CVD prevention may be helpful to older and solo physicians.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00331.x
PMCID: PMC1828095  PMID: 16637822
cardiovascular disease; prevention; physician behavior
21.  Preventive evidence into practice (PEP) study: implementation of guidelines to prevent primary vascular disease in general practice protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial 
Background
There are significant gaps in the implementation and uptake of evidence-based guideline recommendations for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes in Australian general practice. This study protocol describes the methodology for a cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a model that aims to improve the implementation of these guidelines in Australian general practice developed by a collaboration between researchers, non-government organisations, and the profession.
Methods
We hypothesise that the intervention will alter the behaviour of clinicians and patients resulting in improvements of recording of lifestyle and physiological risk factors (by 20%) and increased adherence to guideline recommendations for: the management of CVD and diabetes risk factors (by 20%); and lifestyle and physiological risk factors of patients at risk (by 5%). Thirty-two general practices will be randomised in a 1:1 allocation to receive either the intervention or continue with usual care, after stratification by state. The intervention will be delivered through: small group education; audit of patient records to determine preventive care; and practice facilitation visits adapted to the needs of the practices. Outcome data will be extracted from electronic medical records and patient questionnaires, and qualitative evaluation from provider and patient interviews.
Discussion
We plan to disseminate study findings widely and directly inform implementation strategies by governments, professional bodies, and non-government organisations including the partner organisations.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-8
PMCID: PMC3564812  PMID: 23327664
Primary care; Family medicine; Guidelines; Preventive care; Cardiovascular disease
22.  Comparative assessment of absolute cardiovascular disease risk characterization from non-laboratory-based risk assessment in South African populations 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:170.
Background
All rigorous primary cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention guidelines recommend absolute CVD risk scores to identify high- and low-risk patients, but laboratory testing can be impractical in low- and middle-income countries. The purpose of this study was to compare the ranking performance of a simple, non-laboratory-based risk score to laboratory-based scores in various South African populations.
Methods
We calculated and compared 10-year CVD (or coronary heart disease (CHD)) risk for 14,772 adults from thirteen cross-sectional South African populations (data collected from 1987 to 2009). Risk characterization performance for the non-laboratory-based score was assessed by comparing rankings of risk with six laboratory-based scores (three versions of Framingham risk, SCORE for high- and low-risk countries, and CUORE) using Spearman rank correlation and percent of population equivalently characterized as ‘high’ or ‘low’ risk. Total 10-year non-laboratory-based risk of CVD death was also calculated for a representative cross-section from the 1998 South African Demographic Health Survey (DHS, n = 9,379) to estimate the national burden of CVD mortality risk.
Results
Spearman correlation coefficients for the non-laboratory-based score with the laboratory-based scores ranged from 0.88 to 0.986. Using conventional thresholds for CVD risk (10% to 20% 10-year CVD risk), 90% to 92% of men and 94% to 97% of women were equivalently characterized as ‘high’ or ‘low’ risk using the non-laboratory-based and Framingham (2008) CVD risk score. These results were robust across the six risk scores evaluated and the thirteen cross-sectional datasets, with few exceptions (lower agreement between the non-laboratory-based and Framingham (1991) CHD risk scores). Approximately 18% of adults in the DHS population were characterized as ‘high CVD risk’ (10-year CVD death risk >20%) using the non-laboratory-based score.
Conclusions
We found a high level of correlation between a simple, non-laboratory-based CVD risk score and commonly-used laboratory-based risk scores. The burden of CVD mortality risk was high for men and women in South Africa. The policy and clinical implications are that fast, low-cost screening tools can lead to similar risk assessment results compared to time- and resource-intensive approaches. Until setting-specific cohort studies can derive and validate country-specific risk scores, non-laboratory-based CVD risk assessment could be an effective and efficient primary CVD screening approach in South Africa.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-170
PMCID: PMC3734109  PMID: 23880010
Cardiovascular disease; Prevention; Cholesterol; Stroke; Coronary heart disease
23.  Feasibility and effectiveness of a disease and care management model in the primary health care system for patients with heart failure and diabetes (Project Leonardo) 
Purpose
Project Leonardo represented a feasibility study to evaluate the impact of a disease and care management (D&CM) model and of the introduction of “care manager” nurses, trained in this specialized role, into the primary health care system.
Patients and methods
Thirty care managers were placed into the offices of 83 general practitioners and family physicians in the Apulia Region of Italy with the purpose of creating a strong cooperative and collaborative “team” consisting of physicians, care managers, specialists, and patients. The central aim of the health team collaboration was to empower 1,160 patients living with cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, heart failure, and/or at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD risk) to take a more active role in their health. With the support of dedicated software for data collection and care management decision making, Project Leonardo implemented guidelines and recommendations for each condition aimed to improve patient health outcomes and promote appropriate resource utilization.
Results
Results show that Leonardo was feasible and highly effective in increasing patient health knowledge, self-management skills, and readiness to make changes in health behaviors. Patient skill-building and ongoing monitoring by the health care team of diagnostic tests and services as well as treatment paths helped promote confidence and enhance safety of chronic patient management at home.
Conclusion
Physicians, care managers, and patients showed unanimous agreement regarding the positive impact on patient health and self-management, and attributed the outcomes to the strong “partnership” between the care manager and the patient and the collaboration between the physician and the care manager. Future studies should consider the possibility of incorporating a patient empowerment model which considers the patient as the most important member of the health team and care managers as key health care collaborators able to enhance and support services to patients provided by physicians in the primary health care system.
PMCID: PMC2868351  PMID: 20479952
partnerships; health team; patient empowerment; care coordination
24.  The roles of community pharmacists in cardiovascular disease prevention and management 
The Australasian Medical Journal  2011;4(5):266-272.
There is ample evidence in the international literature for pharmacist involvement in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) conditions in primary care. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have confirmed the significant clinical benefits of pharmacist interventions for a range of CVD conditions and risk factors. Evidence generated in research studies of Australian community pharmacist involvement in CVD prevention and management is summarised in this article.
Commonwealth funding through the Community Pharmacy Agreements has facilitated research to establish the feasibility and effectiveness of new models of primary care involving community pharmacists. Australian community pharmacists have been shown to effect positive clinical, humanistic and economic outcomes in patients with CVD conditions. Improvements in blood pressure, lipid levels, medication adherence and CVD risk have been demonstrated using different study designs. Satisfaction for GPs, pharmacists and consumers has also been reported. Perceived ‘turf‘ encroachment, expertise of the pharmacist, space, time and remuneration are challenges to the implementation of disease management services involving community pharmacists.
doi:10.4066/AMJ.2011.698
PMCID: PMC3562935  PMID: 23393519
Cardiovascular; community pharmacy; outcomes; pharmacist; primary care
25.  Practice patterns in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in primary practice: The CAGE study 
BACKGROUND:
The information on usual care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in primary care is limited in Canada.
OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate primary care practice in patients with COPD in Quebec and Ontario compared with recommended care.
METHODS:
The COPD Care Gap Evaluation (CAGE) was a prospective, cross-sectional study. Physicians’ self-reported data of enrolled COPD patients were compared with the recommended care for the level of disease severity (using the Canadian Thoracic Society classification by symptoms) and stability, derived from Canadian Thoracic Society COPD guidelines. Pharmacological treatment, spirometric confirmation of diagnosis and nonpharmacological management, including smoking cessation counselling, influenza immunization and referral for pulmonary rehabilitation, were assessed.
RESULTS:
Participating physicians (n=161; 44 in Quebec, 117 in Ontario) recruited 1090 patients (320 in Quebec, 770 in Ontario). The mean (± SD) age of the patients was 69.9±10.4 years; 60% were male and 40% were currently smoking. Pharmacological treatment that matched guideline recommendations was identified in 34% of patients. Discrepancies between reported and recommended treatment stemmed from nonprescription of long-acting bronchodilators (LABDs) for patients with moderate (27%) and severe (21%) COPD, nonprescription of two long-acting beta agonists (a beta2-agonist and an anticholinergic) for patients with severe COPD (51%), and prescription of inhaled corticosteroids (63%) and LABDs (47%) for patients with mild COPD for which the treatment is not recommended. Spirometric confirmation of diagnosis, as recommended by the guidelines, was reported in 56% of patients. For non-pharmacological management, smoking cessation counselling (95%) and influenza immunization (80%) were near optimal. Referral for pulmonary rehabilitation (9%) was not common. Differences between provinces were seen mainly in the prescription of short-acting bronchodilators (89% in Quebec, 76% in Ontario) and LABDs (60% in Quebec, 80% in Ontario).
CONCLUSIONS:
Substantial gaps between recommended and current care exist in the management of COPD patients in primary care practice. Undertreatment of patients with severe COPD has potential clinical implications, including loss of autonomy and hospitalization.
PMCID: PMC2677850  PMID: 18292848
Care gap; COPD; Practice patterns; Primary care; Treatment guidelines

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