Pilot studies to test methods to determine the incidence, agents, risk factors and socioeconomic costs of infectious intestinal disease (IID) in England were carried out as recommended by the Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (the Richmond Committee) by eight general practices. There were case control and enumeration studies of patients presenting to general practice with IID, a population-based prospective cohort study, and a survey of socioeconomic costs of cases of IID. Information on risk factors was obtained by questionnaire (self-administered compared with interview) and a stool sample was requested on all cases and controls. Response rates in the GP case control study were 75% for case questionnaires and 74% for stools; for controls the figures were 70% and 68% respectively. The acceptance rate into the cohort study was 49%; this was significantly higher where phone contact was made. The rate was similar if recruitment was by individual or household. Follow-up of the cohort by negative reporting was complete for up to 6 months. Direct postage by subject was required to obtain fresh stool specimens. Estimates were obtained of presentation rates of IID and the distribution of risk factors which were used to plan the main study. The pilot study demonstrated that it is possible to undertake a national study based in general practice to determine the incidence of IID in the population and presenting to GPs and its agents, risk factors and costs.
In 2006 the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidance on the management of childhood obesity, for use by primary care practitioners. Little is known, however, about practitioners' views and experiences of managing childhood obesity in primary care.
To explore practitioners' views of primary care as a setting in which to treat childhood obesity.
Design of study
Qualitative interview study.
Primary care and other community settings based in Bristol, England.
Interviews explored practitioners' views and experiences of managing childhood obesity and their knowledge of the recent guidance provided by the Department of Health and NICE. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Analysis was thematic and comparisons made both within and across the interviews.
Thirty practitioners were interviewed: 12 GPs, 10 practice nurses, four school nurses, and four health visitors. Participants varied in their views about whether primary care is an appropriate treatment setting for childhood obesity. However, all described factors that limited the extent to which they could intervene effectively: a lack of expertise, resources, and contact with primary school children; the causes of childhood obesity; and the need to work with parents. It was also apparent that very few participants had knowledge of the recent guidance.
Practitioners do not currently view primary care as an effective treatment setting for childhood obesity and it is unlikely that the guidance from the Department of Health and NICE will have a meaningful impact on their management of this condition.
child health; obesity; primary health care; qualitative research
A lesbian woman will have to choose whether to disclose or not in every new encounter, including when consulting her general practitioner (GP). She may fear a negative reaction in the doctor, based on knowledge of marginalization and prejudice of homosexuals throughout history.
To explore patients’ experiences concerning disclosure of their lesbian orientation to general practitioners (GPs), focusing on why they find it important, and what GPs can do to promote disclosure.
One group interview was conducted, audiotaped, and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative analysis was conducted by systematic text condensation inspired by Giorgi's phenomenological approach. Six women aged 28–59 years, who self-identified as lesbian, were recruited through a web-based, publicly accessible network for research on homosexuality.
Main outcome measures
Accounts of experiences where the patient thought that information of a lesbian sexual orientation was of importance in the consultation with a GP.
Disclosure can imply information of medical relevance, explain circumstances, and generate a feeling of being seen as one's true self. The intentional use of common consultation techniques may facilitate disclosure.
Lesbian patients may want to disclose their sexual orientation to the general practitioner but they experience certain barriers. These can be overcome when the GP provides an open and permissive context. GPs can benefit from knowledge concerning sexual orientation in their work with lesbian patients.
Communication; family practice; female; homosexuality; truth disclosure
To describe the prevalence of parasitic and bacterial gastrointestinal infection (excluding enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli) among international travellers attending the International Travel Clinic at The University of Calgary.
Data were abstracted from the records of the first visit after travel of all persons making a post travel visit between January 1, 1986 and March 31, 1990.
Data were available for 886 first visits (840 persons). Stools were submitted by 692 travellers. The frequency of stool submission varied by the duration of travel abroad, and the frequency of diarrhea either during or after the trip was greater among those who had submitted a stool specimen. The prevalence of stools positive for ova, parasites or pathogenic bacteria was 41.2%. When only pathogenic organisms were considered, the prevalence of infection was 19.4%. The most commonly isolated pathogenic parasites were Dientamoeba fragilis, Giardia lamblia, and Entamoeba histolytica. The most commonly isolated bacteria were Campylobacter species and Salmonella species.
Although the prevalence of positive stool screens among returned travellers in this population was high, only about one-fifth of persons tested were positive for pathogens.
Diarrhea; Diarrhea prevention and control; Epidemiology; Retrospective studies; Travel
To ascertain the beliefs, current practices, and decision making of general practitioners in the diagnosis and management of suspected heart failure in primary care, with a view to identifying barriers to good care.
A qualitative approach using focus groups with 30 general practitioners from four primary care groups. The sampling strategy was stratified and purposive. The contents of interviews were transcribed and analysed according to the principles of “pragmatic variant” grounded theory.
North east England.
Three categories of difficulties contribute to variations in medical practice and to the reasons why general practitioners experience difficulties in diagnosing and managing heart failure. The first is uncertainty about clinical practice, including lack of confidence in establishing an accurate diagnosis and worries about using angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, β blockers, and spironolactone in patients who are often elderly and frail, with comorbidity and polypharmacy. The second is a lack of awareness of relevant research evidence in what was perceived to be a complex and rapidly changing therapeutic field. Doubts about the applicability of research findings in primary care, and fear of information overload also emerged. The third category consists of influences of individual preference and local organisational factors. Medical training, negative clinical experiences, and outside agencies influenced the behaviour of general practitioners and professional culture. Local factors included the availability of diagnostic services, resources (such as accessible cardiologists), and interactions between professionals in primary or secondary care, and they seemed to shape the practice and decision making processes in primary care.
The national service framework for coronary heart disease stresses that the substandard care of patients with heart failure is unacceptable. This study identified barriers to be overcome across primary and secondary care in implementation strategies that are specific to the locality and multifaceted. Single strategies—for example, the provision of guidelines—are unlikely to have an impact on clinical outcomes, and new, conjoint models of care need to be explored.
What is already known on this topicHeart failure is a common condition with a high morbidity and mortality and is largely managed in primary careAlthough modern management with accurate diagnosis and treatment improves prognosis considerably, unacceptable variations exist in the clinical application of current guidelines for heart failureWhat this study addsGeneral practitioners expressed a lack of confidence in establishing an accurate diagnosis of left ventricular systolic dysfunction, even if open access echocardiography was availableUncertainty about diagnosis led to poor uptake of evidence based treatment strategies for heart failure patients, and, despite awareness, reluctance to initiate modern treatmentLocal organisational factors around NHS provision of diagnostic services, resources, and interaction between primary and secondary care influence how general practitioners manage heart failureImplementation strategies for heart failure management across primary and secondary care are needed that are specific to their locality and multifaceted
Non-cholera Vibrio infections are an important public health problem. Non-cholera Vibrio species usually cause sporadic infections, often in coastal states, and have also caused several recent nationwide outbreaks of gastroenteritis in the United States. We report a survey of laboratory stool culturing practices for Vibrio among randomly selected clinical laboratories in Gulf Coast states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas). Interviews conducted with the microbiology supervisors of 201 clinical laboratories found that 164 (82%) received stool specimens for culture. Of these, 102 (62%) of 164 processed stool specimens on site, and 20 (20%) of these 102 laboratories cultured all stool specimens for Vibrio, indicating that at least 34,463 (22%) of 152,797 stool specimens were cultured for Vibrio. This survey suggests that despite an increased incidence of non-cholera Vibrio infections in Gulf Coast states, a low percentage of clinical laboratories routinely screen all stool specimens, and fewer than 25% of stool specimens collected are routinely screened for non-cholera Vibrio.
Use of routine urine submission rates for estimation of patient enrolment in primary care studies of acute urinary symptoms may overestimate patient recruitment rate.
To compare the rates of submission of urines and significant bacteriuria from patients presenting with acute urinary symptoms in study general practices to routine microbiology laboratory urines.
Routine laboratory urine submissions were determined by counting all mid‐stream urine specimens submitted to the laboratory from 12 large general practitioner (GP) practices served by Gloucester and Southmead microbiology departments over two years (2000–02). Urine specimens were requested from all patients with acute urinary symptoms referred at research nurse practice visits over the same time period. The annual study urine submission was calculated using the ratio of the number of nurse practice visits to the annual number of possible consulting sessions. Significant bacteriuria was defined as a urine growing a single organism reported as >105 colony forming units/ml. Rates per 1000 patients were calculated using practice population data.
The urine submission rate from study patients with acute urinary symptoms was one‐third the routine urine submission rate from the same practices. The significant bacteriuria rate attained from the study was less than half the routine significant bacteriuria rate.
Two‐thirds of routine urine samples submitted by GPs are probably not for the investigation of acute urinary symptoms. Basing consultation sample size power calculations for primary care studies or sentinel practice‐based surveillance in urinary tract infection on routine laboratory submissions is unreliable and will lead to significant overestimation of recruitment rate.
Revalidation for UK doctors is expected to be introduced from late 2012. For general practitioners (GPs), this entails collecting supporting information to be submitted and assessed in a revalidation portfolio every five years. The aim of this study was to explore the feasibility of GPs working in secure environments to collect supporting information for the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP) proposed revalidation portfolio.
We invited GPs working in secure environments in England to submit items of supporting information collected during the previous 12 months using criteria and standards required for the proposed RCGP revalidation portfolio and complete a GP issues log. Initial focus groups and initial and follow-up semi-structured face-to-face and telephone interviews were held to explore GPs’ views of this process. Quantitative and qualitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and identifying themes respectively.
Of the 50 GPs who consented to participate in the study, 20 submitted a portfolio. Thirty-eight GPs participated in an initial interview, nine took part in a follow-up interview and 17 completed a GP issues log. GPs reported difficulty in collecting supporting information for valid patient feedback, full-cycle clinical audits and evidence for their extended practice role(s) as sessional practitioners in the high population turnover custodial environment. Peripatetic practitioners experienced more difficulty than their institution based counterparts collating this evidence.
GPs working in secure environments may experience difficulties in collecting the newer types of supporting information for the proposed RCGP revalidation portfolio primarily due to their employment status within a non-medical environment and characteristics of the detainee population. Increased support from secure environment service commissioners and employers will be a prerequisite for these practitioners to enable them to re-license using the RCGP revalidation proposals.
Revalidation; Re-licensing; Medical continuing professional development; General practitioners; Family physicians; Sessional GPs; Salaried GPs; Secure environments; Prisons
Despite high levels of psychosocial risks, black women of Caribbean origin rarely consult health professionals regarding symptoms of perinatal depression. Reasons for this are unclear as there has been little perinatal mental health research among this ethnic group.
To examine stakeholder perspectives on what might account for low levels of consultation for perinatal depression among a group of women who are, theoretically, vulnerable.
Design of study
A qualitative study using focus group interviews.
Community settings in the northwest of England.
A purposive sample of black Caribbean women (n = 42) was split into focus groups and interviewed. This sample was drawn from a larger study. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Framework analysis was used to generate themes.
Perceptions of practitioners' lack of compassion in delivering physical care and women's inability to develop confiding relationships with professionals during pregnancy and childbirth were significant barriers to consulting for depressive symptoms in particular, and health needs more generally. Advocating a ‘stepped-care’ approach, black Caribbean women suggested that new care pathways are required to address the full spectrum of perinatal mental health need. Apparently eschewing mono-ethnic, ‘culturally sensitive’ models, women suggested there was much to be gained from receiving care and support in mixed ethnic groups.
Black Caribbean women's suggestions for more collaborative, community-based models of care are in line with policy, practice, and the views of members of other ethnic groups. Adopting such approaches might provide more sustainable mechanisms for improving access and engagement both among so-called hard-to-reach groups and more generally, thereby potentially improving maternal and child outcomes.
ethnic minority women; ethnicity; perinatal depression; primary care
During one year, out of 1829 faecal specimens examined at the Chelmsford Public Health Laboratory, campylobacters were isolated from 109 (6%), 21 of the positive cultures were from hospital in-patients and 3 were from hospital staff. The remaining 85 isolates were from specimens sent in by general practitioners. The authors' figures show a marked season variation with most of the infections occurring from June to September. The highest incidence (36%) was in the 20 to 30 age group, 99% of patients had diarrhoea, usually watery, occasionally explosive, and 9% had visible blood in their stools. Eighteen per cent. of patients had abdominal pain, 5 of the 21 hospital in-patients underwent abdominal surgery. Fifty-nine faecal specimens were examined microscopically and 30 of these had blood and pus cells or pus cells alone. Three patients had rectal biopsies showing a nonspecific colitis, 11 patients had recently been abroad.
The distribution of Shigella serotypes is of epidemiological importance and antimicrobial therapy for shigellosis can prevent potential complications of shigellosis. Studies done fifty years ago in Ghana indicated the predominance of Shigella flexneri.
To describe the distribution of Shigella serogroups and serotypes and their antibiogram profiles.
A prospective descriptive study.
The Microbiology Department of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Consecutive stool specimens from patients with diarrhoea submitted between February 2004 and June 2005 were cultured for Shigella and the isolates typed with commercial anti-sera. The susceptibilities of the isolates were also tested against eleven antimicrobial agents by the disc diffusion method. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of isolates to ciprofloxacin were also determined by the E-test.
Five hundred and ninety four diarrhoea stool specimens yielded 24 Shigella isolates with the following serogroup distribution: S. flexneri 70.8%, S. dysenteriae 16.7%, S. sonnei 8.3% and S. boydii 4.2%. Approximately 96% of the isolates were multi-drug resistant but all twenty four were susceptible to nalidixic acid and the fluoroquinolones (ofloxacin and ciprofloxacin). The MICs of twenty one of the isolates to ciprofloxacin were ≤ 0.064 µg ml-1.
The predominance of S. flexneri was confirmed and Shigella isolates from Accra are susceptible to nalidixic acid and the fluoroquinolones. Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance particularly to monitor the emergence of Shigella strains resistant to nalidixic acid and the fluoroquiolones is important.
Shigella; serogroups; serotypes; multi-drug resistant; MIC
BACKGROUND: The inclusion of growth assessment and nutrition-related anticipatory guidance in all well-child visits is recommended. Although prior studies have assessed whether these topics are discussed, the content of the discussions has not been explored from the maternal perspective. Objective: To explore what mothers of preschoolers recall and understand about growth assessment and nutrition anticipatory guidance provided at their child's most recent well-child visit. METHODS: Qualitative, semistructured telephone interviews were performed with 20 mothers of preschoolers recruited from a Head Start program. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Themes were identified and refined in an iterative process. RESULTS: Three main findings emerged: 1) although mothers generally recalled the use of growth charts and often recalled their child's height and weight percentiles, they were generally unable to articulate the meaning of these percentiles; 2) most mothers stated that their nutrition-related decisions were not influenced by growth chart findings. However, when growth chart findings were interpreted as positive, mothers found them reassuring. Conversely, when growth chart findings were interpreted as negative, mothers discounted the growth chart in favor of other comparisons of growth; 3) a considerable proportion of mothers reported that nutrition was not discussed at the most recent well-child visit, which mothers commonly attributed to a lack of weight or feeding problems for their child. CONCLUSION: Among the low-income mothers studied, growth chart use and findings were memorable but frequently misunderstood, while nutrition-related anticipatory guidance was not consistently recalled. These findings suggest opportunities to improve physician-patient communication regarding these topics.
Patient participation in primary care treatment decisions has been much debated. There has been little attention to patients' contributions to primary care consultations over a period of time, when consulting about depression and its treatment with antidepressants.
To explore: (1) what issues remain unsaid during a primary care consultation for depression but are later raised by the patient as important during a research interview; (2) patients' reasons for non-disclosure; (3) whether unvoiced agendas are later voiced; and (4) the nature of the GP–patient relationship in which unvoiced agendas occur.
Design of study
Qualitative interview study.
Primary health care.
Patients were recruited through six general practices in the south west of England. Qualitative interviews were carried out with 10 ‘pairs’ of GPs and patients who presented with a new or first episode of moderate to severe depression and were prescribed antidepressants. Follow-up patient interviews were conducted at 3 and 6 months. Throughout the 6-month period, patients were invited to record subsequent consultations (with GPs' consent), using a patient-held tape recorder.
Twenty-three unvoiced agendas were revealed, often within decision-making relationships that were viewed in positive terms by patients. Unvoiced agendas included: a preference for immediate treatment, a preference to increase dosage, and the return or worsening of suicidal thoughts. In some cases, patients were concerned that they were ‘letting the GP down’ by not being able to report feeling better.
Unvoiced agendas are not necessarily an indication that ‘shared decision making’ is absent but may in some cases represent patients' attempts to ‘protect’ their GPs.
decision making; depression; qualitative research
The present study was conducted to compare two stool antigen detection kits with PCR for the diagnosis of Entamoeba histolytica infections by using fecal specimens submitted to the Department of Microbiology at St. Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, and the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide, Australia. A total of 279 stool samples containing the E complex (E. histolytica, Entamoeba dispar, and Entamoeba moshkovskii) were included in this study. The stool specimens were tested by using two commercially produced enzyme immunoassays (the Entamoeba CELISA PATH and TechLab E. histolytica II kits) to detect antigens of E. histolytica. DNA was extracted from all of the samples with a Qiagen DNA stool mini kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany), and a PCR targeting the small-subunit ribosomal DNA was performed on all of the samples. When PCR was used as a reference standard, the CELISA PATH kit showed 28% sensitivity and 100% specificity. The TechLab ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) kit did not prove to be useful in detecting E. histolytica, as it failed to identify any of the E. histolytica samples which were positive by PCR. With the TechLab kit, cross-reactivity was observed for three specimens, one of which was positive for both E. dispar and E. moshkovskii while the other two samples contained E. moshkovskii. Quantitative assessment of the PCR and ELISA results obtained showed that the ELISA kits were 1,000 to 10,000 times less sensitive, and our results show that the CELISA PATH kit and the TechLab ELISA are not useful for the detection of E. histolytica in stool samples from patients in geographical regions where this parasite is not endemic.
There are commonly-held views relating to what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate use of finite NHS resources. However, very little is known about how and why such views have an impact on consultation patterns.
To quantify the prevalence of opinion on whether people use health services unnecessarily within primary care and accident and emergency (A&E) in order to examine the impact of these views on help-seeking behaviour.
Design of study
A mixed method study utilising cross-sectional questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews.
A primary care practice in South West England, UK.
Responders to the questionnaire survey were drawn from a random sample of individuals, stratified by sex, selected from one practice in the UK (n = 911). The qualitative sample (n = 22) were purposefully selected from the same general practice.
The quantitative data suggest that the majority of people believe individuals utilise either GP or A&E services inappropriately (65.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 62.4 to 68.7). However, strong views relating to this inappropriate healthcare use were not associated with reported seeking of immediate care (odds ratio [OR] = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.66 to 1.46 for ‘lump’ vignette). Responders tend to consider other people as time wasters, but not themselves. Individuals' generally describe clear rationales for help seeking, even for seemingly trivial symptoms and anxiety level was strongly predictive of health-seeking behaviour (OR = 2.88; 95% CI = 1.98 to 4.19 for lump vignette).
Perceptions that individuals' use health services inappropriately are unlikely to explain differences in help-seeking behaviours. The findings suggest that people do not take the decision to consult health services lightly and rationalise why their behaviour is not time wasting.
mixed-method; patient acceptance of health care; time wasting
Background and aim: Several cases of acute colitis induced by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been reported but the general role of recent NSAID intake as a risk factor for acute diarrhoea has not been studied to date. The aim of our study was to determine whether the risk of acute diarrhoea is increased by NSAIDs in a prospective series of acute diarrhoea cases which were seen by general practitioners in France and were serious enough to require a stool culture.
Patients, physicians, and methods: A total of 285 consecutive patients with acute diarrhoea, seen by Sentinel general practitioners (GPs) between December 1998 and July 1999, were enrolled in a case crossover study in which each case served as his/her own control. GPs collected information on exposure to NSAIDs during the four month period preceding the onset of diarrhoea. The relative risk of NSAID related acute diarrhoea was estimated by comparing exposure to NSAIDs during a risk period preceding the onset of diarrhoea with exposure during the first part of the four month observation period. Three risk periods lasting for one, three, and six days before the onset of diarrhoea were considered.
Results: The relative risks of acute diarrhoea due to recent NSAID intake were increased for all three risk periods. These risks and their confidence intervals were 2.9 (1.4–6.1) for the one day risk period, 2.7 (1.4–5.1) for the three day period, and 3.3 (2.0–5.4) for the six day period.
Conclusion: Recent NSAID intake emerges as a risk factor for acute diarrhoea. We suggest that acute diarrhoea seen in general practice, and not only acute colitis seen by gastroenterologists, should be considered as a potential complication of recent NSAID intake.
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; acute diarrhoea; case crossover
Gastrointestinal symptoms are not an uncommon manifestation of an influenza virus infection. In the present study, we aimed to investigate the presence of influenza viruses in the stools of adult patients consulting their general practitioner for uncomplicated acute diarrhea (AD) and the proportion of concurrent infections by enteric and influenza viruses.
A case-control study was conducted from December 2010 to April 2011. Stool specimens were collected and tested for influenza viruses A (seasonal A/H3N2 and pandemic A/H1N1) and B, and for four enteric viruses (astrovirus, group A rotavirus, human enteric adenovirus, norovirus of genogroups I – NoVGI - and genogroup II - NoVGII).
General practitioners enrolled 138 cases and 93 controls. Of the 138 stool specimens collected, 92 (66.7%) were positive for at least one of the four enteric viruses analysed and 10 (7.2%) tested positive for one influenza virus. None of these 10 influenza positive patients reported respiratory symptoms. In five influenza-positive patients (3.6%), we also detected one enteric virus, with 4 of them being positive for influenza B (2 had co-detection with NoVGI, 1 with NoVGII, and 1 with astrovirus). None of the 93 controls tested positive for one of the enteric and/or other influenza viruses we investigated.
In this study we showed that the simultaneous detection of influenza and enteric viruses is not a rare event. We have also reported, for the first time in general practice, the presence of seasonal and pandemic influenza viruses in the stools of adult patients consulting for uncomplicated AD. A simultaneous investigation of enteric and influenza viruses in patients complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms could be useful for future studies to better identify the agents responsible for AD.
Influenza virus; Enteric virus; Stools; Co-infection; General practice
Reported efficacies of drugs used to treat Strongyloides stercoralis infection vary widely. Because diagnostic methods are insensitive, therapeutic trials generally require multiple negative posttreatment stool specimens as evidence of drug efficacy. However, only a single positive stool specimen is usually required for study enrollment. To determine the reproducibility of detection of S. stercoralis larvae in the stool, 108 asymptomatic infected men submitted 25 g of fresh stool once a week for eight consecutive weeks for examination by the Baermann technique. During the 8-week study, 239 (27.7%) of 864 stool specimens were positive for S. stercoralis. Rates of detection of larvae in the stool specimens ranged from eight of eight specimens in 3 (2.8%) men to none of eight specimens in 36 (33.3%) men. Of 43 men for whom S. stercoralis was detected in at least two of the first four stool specimens, only 1 (2.3%) man tested negative on all of the next four specimens. In comparison, of 29 men who had detectable larvae in only one of the first four specimens, 22 (75.9%) tested negative on all of the next four samples. Thus, if these 29 men had been enrolled in a therapeutic trial between the first and second sets of four specimens, the efficacy of a drug with no activity against this parasite would have been estimated to be 76%. These data suggest that patterns of S. stercoralis detection vary widely among infected persons and that intermittent larval shedding can lead to inflated estimates of drug efficacy. Before a patient is entered in a clinical trial of drug efficacy, four consecutive stool specimens should be examined for S. stercoralis; only persons with two or more positive specimens should be enrolled.
Rapid Access Outpatient Units (RAOUs) have been suggested as an alternative to hospital inpatient units for the management of some acutely unwell children. These units can provide ambulatory care, delivered close to home, and may prevent unnecessary hospital admission. There are no qualitative data on the views of primary care practitioners regarding these types of facilities. The aim of the study was to explore the opinions of primary care practitioners regarding a newly established RAOU.
The RAOU was established locally at a district general hospital when inpatient beds were closed and moved to an inpatient centre, based six miles away at the tertiary teaching hospital.
Qualitative, practice based group interviews with primary care practitioners (general practitioners (GPs), nurse practitioners and practice nurses) on their experiences of the RAOU. The data collection consisted of three practice based interviews with 14 participants. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic content analysis was used to evaluate the data.
There was positive feedback regarding ease of telephone access for referral, location, and the value of a service staffed by senior doctors where children could be observed, investigated and discharged quickly. There was confusion regarding the referral criteria for the assessment unit and where to send certain children. A majority of the practitioners felt the utility of the RAOU was restricted by its opening hours. Most participants felt they lacked sufficient information regarding the remit and facilities of the unit and this led to some uneasiness regarding safety and long term sustainability.
Practitioners considered that the RAOU offered a rapid senior opinion, flexible short term observation, quick access to investigations and was more convenient for patients. There were concerns regarding opening hours, safety of patients and lack of information about the unit's facilities. There was confusion about which children should be sent to the unit. This study raises questions regarding policy in regard to the organisation of paediatric services. It highlights that when establishing alternative services to local inpatient units, continual communication and engagement of primary care is essential if the units are to function effectively.
The methylene blue stain for fecal leukocytes (FL) is widely used as an adjunct to slower but more accurate tests of diarrheal etiology, such as stool culture (SCx) or toxin assays for Clostridium difficile. Prior studies investigating the utility of FL for predicting SCx and C. difficile toxin assay (CDTA) results did not evaluate the importance of inpatient versus outpatient status. We conducted a study of patients who submitted a stool specimen to the Stanford Hospital Microbiology Laboratory between May 1998 and April 1999. The results for stool specimens that were tested by FL and by a confirmatory test (either SCx or CDTA) were used to determine whether the FL method helped to predict the results of these tests. Of 797 stools that were tested by FL method and at least one confirmatory test, 502 stools were tested by CDTA, and 473 stools were cultured. The FL test was 14% sensitive and 90% specific for C. difficile with a diagnostic threshold of one white blood cell/high-power field (WBC/HPF). The overall likelihood ratio (LR) for a positive CDTA was 1.4 with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 0.5 to 3.7 (P = 0.5) and was similar among inpatients and outpatients. In contrast, the presence of ≥1 WBC/HPF was 52% sensitive and 88% specific for the 27 positive SCx results and helped to predict a positive SCx result (LR, 4.2; 95% CI, 2.7 to 6.5; P < 0.001). The sensitivity of ≥1 WBC/HPF was 57%, and its predictive value for SCx was higher among outpatients (outpatient LR, 5.0; 95% CI, 2.9 to 8.6; P < 0.001; inpatient LR, 1.9; 95% CI, 0.3 to 10.8; P = 0.5). Among inpatients, only 4 (1.5%) of the 273 SCx results were positive, and the presence of ≥1 WBC/HPF was insensitive (25%) and did not predict a positive SCx (LR, 1.9; 95% CI, 0.3 to 10.8; P = 0.5). When the data were reanalyzed using a diagnostic threshold of five WBC/HPF for FL, the predictive power of the FL method was similar. Thus, FL was of no value in predicting CDTA positivity, nor was it helpful in predicting SCx results for inpatients. Neither SCx nor the FL method should routinely be performed on samples from inpatients. Among outpatients, presence of FLs should suggest a bacterial diarrhea in clinically compatible cases.
To explore consultants' and general practitioners' perceptions of the factors that influence their decisions to introduce new drugs into their clinical practice.
Qualitative study using semistructured interviews. Monitoring of hospital and general practice prescribing data for eight new drugs.
Teaching hospital and nearby general hospital plus general practices in Birmingham.
38 consultants and 56 general practitioners who regularly referred to the teaching hospital.
Main outcome measures
Reasons for prescribing a new drug; sources of information used for new drugs; extent of contact between consultants and general practitioners; and amount of study drugs used in hospitals and by general practitioners.
Consultants usually prescribed new drugs only in their specialty, used few new drugs, and used scientific evidence to inform their decisions. General practitioners generally prescribed more new drugs and for a wider range of conditions, but their approach varied considerably both between general practitioners and between drugs for the same general practitioner. Drug company representatives were an important source of information for general practitioners. Prescribing data were consistent with statements made by respondents.
The factors influencing the introduction of new drugs, particularly in primary care, are more multiple and complex than suggested by early theories of drug innovation. Early experience of using a new drug seems to strongly influence future use.
What is already known on this topicUK studies show that use of new drugs by general practitioners is influenced by consultants, the nature of the drug, and perceived riskWhat this study addsConsultants generally introduced fewer drugs than general practitioners, usually within their specialtyDecisions were said to be based mainly on the evidence from the scientific literature and meetingsGeneral practitioners prescribed more new drugs and the basis of decisions was more variedDoctors' interpretations of using a new drug were not consistent
OBJECTIVE--To assess the impact on general practitioners and hospital consultants of hospital outpatient dispensing policies in England. DESIGN--Postal questionnaire and telephone interview survey of general practitioners and hospital consultants in January 1991. SETTING--94 selected major acute hospitals in England. PARTICIPANTS--20 general practitioners in the vicinity of each of 94 selected hospitals and eight consultants from each, selected by chief pharmacists. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Proportions of general practitioners unable to assume responsibility for specialist drugs and of consultants wishing to retain responsibility; association between dispensing restrictions and the frequency of general practitioners being asked to prescribe hospital initiated treatments. RESULTS--Completed questionnaires were obtained from 1207 (64%) of 1887 general practitioners and 457 (63%) of 729 consultants. 570 (46%) general practitioners felt unable to take responsibility for certain treatments, principally because of difficulty in detecting side effects (367, 30%), uncertainty about explaining treatment to patients (332, 28%), and difficulty monitoring dosage (294, 24%). Among consultants 328 (72%) wished to retain responsibility, principally because of specialist need for monitoring (93, 20%), urgent need to commence treatment (64, 14%), and specialist need to initiate or stabilise treatment (63, 14%). The more restricted the drug supply to outpatients, the more frequently consultants asked general practitioners to prescribe (p less than 0.01) and complete a short course of treatment initiated by the hospital (p less than 0.001). CONCLUSIONS--Restrictive hospital outpatient dispensing shifts clinical responsibility on to general practitioners. Hospital doctors should be able to retain responsibility for prescribing when the general practitioner is unfamiliar with the drug or there is a specialist need to initiate, stabilise, or monitor treatment.
Personal continuity is a core value for family practice, but policy and performance targets emphasise other aspects of care, particularly waiting times for consultation. This study examined patient and general practitioner (GP) perceptions of the value of personal continuity and rapid access, and the relationship between them.
Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 16 GPs and 32 patients in the Lothian region of Scotland, to identify whether, how, why and in which circumstances personal continuity and rapid access were valued.
From the patients' perspective, what mattered was 'access to appropriate care' depending on the problem to be dealt with. For a few patients, rapid access was the only priority. For most, rapid access was balanced against greater involvement in the consultation when seeing 'their' trusted doctor, which was particularly valued for chronic, complex and emotional problems. GPs focused on the value of personal continuity in the consultation for improving the diagnosis and management of the same kinds of problem. GPs did not perceive enabling access to be a core part of their work. There was little evidence that GPs routinely discussed with patients when or how personal continuity and access should be balanced.
'Access to appropriate care' from the patients' perspective is not fully addressed by GPs' focus on personal continuity, nor by performance targets focused only on speed of access. GPs need to make enabling access as much a part of their core values as personal continuity, and access targets need to be based on less simplistic measures that account for the appropriateness of care as well as speed of access.
AIMS--To assess the reliability of the detection of erythrophagocytic amoebic trophozoites in stool samples in the diagnosis of dysentery associated with invasive Entamoeba histolytica. METHODS--Amoebic culture was carried out on single stool samples collected from patients from Mexico, Colombia, and Bangladesh. The stools had been examined by light microscopy. Amoebic dysentery was diagnosed when erythrophagocytic E histolytica trophozoites were observed in a case of bloody diarrhoea. E histolytica isolates were characterised by isoenzyme electrophoresis and results correlated with microscopical findings in stools. Statistical analysis was performed using the chi 2 test. RESULTS--Where erythrophagocytic amoebae had been observed in dysenteric stool specimens the E histolytica phenotype was invariably invasive (p < 0.0001). Observation of erythrophagocytic amoebae in dysentery is 100% specific and predictive of infection with invasive E histolytica. When amoebic culture-positive cases only are considered it is 96% sensitive. In this study E histolytica of zymodeme XIV was more commonly associated with amoebic dysentery than zymodeme II. There was no significant difference between the carriage rate of invasive and non-invasive E histolytica in non-dysenteric diarrhoea. Asymptomatic subjects carried non-invasive E histolytica more frequently than invasive E histolytica. Patients with non-amoebic dysentery, when shown to be infected with E histolytica, carried non-invasive strains (12%). CONCLUSIONS--Sensitivity and specificity of microscopical examination of a single stool specimen for diagnosing amoebic dysentery is very high; intestinal carriage of invasive E histolytica detected by culture is not necessarily an indication of active disease as patients with diarrhoea and asymptomatic subjects shed invasive and non-invasive E histolytica. There are possibly two subpopulations of invasive E histolytica with different pathogenic potential which can be differentiated by zymodeme analysis.
BACKGROUND. Acute infective diarrhoea is one of the commonest reasons for admission to hospital with an infectious disease. AIM. This study set out to describe the clinical features of infective diarrhoea at the time of presentation in adults managed in the community or admitted to hospital in 1990-91, in order to try to understand the decision-making process which led to referral to hospital. METHOD. Data were collected from general practitioners by computer assisted telephone interview for 114 patients with presumed infective diarrhoea referred to the infection unit at the City Hospital, Aberdeen from all practices in the Grampian region and for 121 non-referred patients managed within seven practices. RESULTS. General practitioners appeared to use examination, investigation and referral selectively in patients presenting with diarrhoeal illness. A comparison of referred and non-referred patients identified differences in patients' reasons for consultation and the general practitioners' clinical findings, suggesting these were important in the decision to refer the patient for hospital admission. General practitioners were more likely to refer adult patients with infective diarrhoea if the patients were older, were seen at home and were more acutely unwell with fever, dehydration and abdominal tenderness. CONCLUSION. The identification of these criteria may help general practitioners to decide when to refer a patient with infective diarrhoea to hospital.