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1.  Ineffective disability management by doctors is an obstacle for return-to-work: a cohort study on low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months 
Aims: To determine obstacles for return-to-work in disability management of low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months.
Methods: A cohort of 467 low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months was recruited. A questionnaire was sent to their occupational physicians (OPs) concerning the medical management, obstacles to return-to-work, and the communication with treating physicians.
Results: The OPs of 300 of 467 patients participated in this study. In many cases OPs regarded the clinical waiting period (43%), duration of treatment (41%), and view (25%) of the treating physicians as obstacles for return-to-work. Psychosocial obstacles for return-to-work such as mental blocks, a lack of job motivation, personal problems, and conflicts at work were all mentioned much less frequently by OPs. In only 19% of the patients was there communication between OP and treating physician. Communication almost always entailed an exchange of information, and less frequently an attempt to harmonise the management policy. Surprisingly communication was also limited, when OPs felt that the waiting period (32%), duration of treatment (30%), and view (28%) of treating physicians inhibited return-to-work. Communication was significantly associated with the following obstacles for return-to-work: passivity with regard to return-to-work and clinical waiting period; adjusted odds ratios were 3.35 and 2.23, respectively.
Conclusions: Medical management of treating physicians is often an obstacle for return to work regarding low back pain patients sicklisted for 3–4 months, in the opinion of OPs. Nevertheless communication between OPs and the treating physicians in disability management of these patients is limited. More attention to prevention of absenteeism and bilateral communication is needed in medical courses.
PMCID: PMC1740234  PMID: 12409530
2.  Decision-Making of Older Patients in Context of the Doctor-Patient Relationship: A Typology Ranging from “Self-Determined” to “Doctor-Trusting” Patients 
Background. This qualitative study aims to gain insight into the perceptions and experiences of older patients with regard to sharing health care decisions with their general practitioners. Patients and Methods. Thirty-four general practice patients (≥70 years) were asked about their preferences and experiences concerning shared decision making with their doctors using qualitative semistructured interviews. All interviews were analysed according to principles of content analysis. The resulting categories were then arranged into a classification grid to develop a typology of preferences for participating in decision-making processes. Results. Older patients generally preferred to make decisions concerning everyday life rather than medical decisions, which they preferred to leave to their doctors. We characterised eight different patient types based on four interdependent positions (self-determination, adherence, information seeking, and trust). Experiences of a good doctor-patient relationship were associated with trust, reliance on the doctor for information and decision making, and adherence. Conclusion. Owing to the varied patient decision-making types, it is not easy for doctors to anticipate the desired level of patient involvement. However, the decision matter and the self-determination of patients provide good starting points in preparing the ground for shared decision making. A good relationship with the doctor facilitates satisfying decision-making experiences.
PMCID: PMC3652207  PMID: 23691317
3.  Courteous but not curious: how doctors' politeness masks their existential neglect. A qualitative study of video-recorded patient consultations 
Journal of Medical Ethics  2011;37(11):650-654.
To study how doctors care for their patients, both medically and as fellow humans, through observing their conduct in patient–doctor encounters.
Qualitative study in which 101 videotaped consultations were observed and analysed using a Grounded Theory approach, generating explanatory categories through a hermeneutical analysis of the taped consultations.
A 500-bed general teaching hospital in Norway.
71 doctors working in clinical non-psychiatric departments and their patients.
The doctors were concerned about their patients' health and how their medical knowledge could be of service. This medical focus often over-rode other important aspects of the consultations, especially existential elements. The doctors actively directed the focus away from their patients' existential concerns onto medical facts and rarely addressed the personal aspects of a patient's condition, treating them in a biomechanical manner. At the same time, however, the doctors attended to their patients with courteousness, displaying a polite and friendly attitude and emphasising the relationship between them.
The study suggests that the main failing of patient–doctor encounters is not a lack of courteous manners, but the moral offence patients experience when existential concerns are ignored. Improving doctors' social and communication skills cannot resolve this moral problem, which appears to be intrinsically bound to modern medical practice. Acknowledging this moral offence would, however, be the first step towards minimising the effects thereof.
PMCID: PMC3198010  PMID: 21610269
Applied and professional ethics; philosophy of medicine; professional—professional relationship
4.  Does a self-referral counselling program reach doctors in need of help? A comparison with the general Norwegian doctor workforce 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:36.
Doctors have a relatively high degree of emotional distress, but seek help to a lesser degree and at a later stage than other academic groups. This can be deleterious for themselves and for their patients. Prevention programs have therefore been developed but it is unclear to what extent they reach doctors in need of help. This study describes doctors who participated in a self-referrral, easily accessible, stress relieving, counselling program in Norway, and compares them with a nationwide sample of Norwegian doctors.
Two hundred and twenty seven (94%) of the doctors, 117 women and 110 men, who came to the resort centre Villa Sana, Modum, Norway, between August 2003 and July 2005, agreed to participate in the study. Socio-demographic data, reasons for and ways of help-seeking, sick-leave, symptoms of depression and anxiety, job stress and burnout were assessed by self-reporting questionnaires.
Forty-nine percent of the Sana doctors were emotionally exhausted (Maslach) compared with 25% of all Norwegian doctors. However, they did not differ on empathy and working capacity, the other two dimensions in Maslach's burnout inventory. Seventy-three percent of the Sana doctors could be in need of treatment for depression or anxiety based on their symptom distress scores, compared with 14% of men and 18% of women doctors in Norway. Twenty-one percent of the Sana doctors had a history of suicidal thoughts, including how to commit the act, as compared to 10% of Norwegian doctors in general.
Sana doctors displayed a higher degree of emotional exhaustion, symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as job related stress, compared with all Norwegian doctors. This may indicate that the program at Villa Sana to a large extent reaches doctors in need of help. The counselling intervention can help doctors to evaluate their professional and private situation, and, when necessary, enhance motivation for seeking adequate treatment.
PMCID: PMC1847681  PMID: 17367526
5.  "Seeing a doctor is just like having a date": a qualitative study on doctor shopping among overactive bladder patients in Hong Kong 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:27.
Although having a regular primary care provider is noted to be beneficial to health, doctor shopping has been documented as a common treatment seeking behavior among chronically ill patients in different countries. However, little research has been conducted into the reasons behind doctor shopping behavior among patients with overactive bladder, and even less into how this behavior relates to these patients’ illness and social experiences, perceptions, and cultural practices. Therefore, this study examines overactive bladder patients to investigate the reasons behind doctor shopping behavior.
My study takes a qualitative approach, conducting 30 semi-structured individual interviews, with 30 overactive bladder patients in Hong Kong.
My study found six primary themes that influenced doctor shopping behavior: lack of perceived need, convenience, work-provided medical insurance, unpleasant experiences with doctors, searching for a match doctor, and switching between biomedicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Besides the perceptual factors, participants’ social environment, illness experiences, personal cultural preference, and cultural beliefs also intertwined to generate their doctor shopping behavior. Due to the low perceived need for a regular personal primary care physician, environmental factors such as time, locational convenience, and work-provided medical insurance became decisive in doctor shopping behavior. Patients’ unpleasant illness experiences, stemming from a lack of understanding among many primary care doctors about overactive bladder, contributed to participants’ sense of mismatch with these doctors, which induced them to shop for another doctor.
Overactive bladder is a chronic bladder condition with very limited treatment outcome. Although patients with overactive bladder often require specialty urology treatment, it is usually beneficial for the patients to receive continuous, coordinated, comprehensive, and patient-centered support from their primary care providers. Primary care doctors’ understanding on patients with overactive bladder with empathetic attitudes is important to reduce the motivations of doctor shopping behavior among these patients.
PMCID: PMC3936809  PMID: 24502367
Hong Kong; Doctor shopping; Perceptions; Social environment; Illness and treatment experiences; Personal cultural preference; Cultural beliefs; Overactive bladder patients
6.  Qualitative study of patients’ perceptions of doctors’ advice to quit smoking: implications for opportunistic health promotion 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;316(7148):1878-1881.
Objectives: To determine the effectiveness and acceptability of general practitioners’opportunistic antismoking interventions by examining detailed accounts of smokers’ experiences of these.
Design: Qualitative semistructured interview study.
Setting: South Wales.
Subjects: 42 participants in the Welsh smoking intervention study were asked about initial smoking, attempts to quit, thoughts about future smoking, past experiences with the health services, and the most appropriate way for health services to help them and other smokers.
Results: Main emerging themes were that subjects already made their own evaluations about smoking, did not believe doctors’ words could influence their smoking, believed that quitting was down to the individual, and felt that doctors who took the opportunity to talk about smoking should focus on the individual patient. Smokers anticipated that they would be given antismoking advice by doctors when attending for health care; they reacted by shrugging this off, feeling guilty, or becoming annoyed. These reactions affected the help seeking behaviour of some respondents. Smokers were categorised as “contrary,” “matter of fact,” and “self blaming,” depending on their reported reaction to antismoking advice.
Conclusions: Doctor-patient relationships can be damaged if doctors routinely advise all smokers to quit. Where doctors intervene, a patient centred approach—one that considers how individual patients view themselves as smokers and how they are likely to react to different styles of intervention—is the most acceptable.
Key messages Many patients who smoke are sceptical about the power of doctors’ words to influence smoking since most know about the dangers, make their own evaluations, and feel that quitting is down to the individual Opportunistic antismoking interventions should be sympathetic, not preaching, and centred on the patient as an individual Repeated ritualistic intervention on the part of doctors may deter patients from seeking medical help when they need it Smokers can be categorised as “contrary,” “matter of fact,” or “self blaming” in their reaction to antismoking advice Doctors can tailor their approach according to the type of patient
PMCID: PMC28587  PMID: 9632409
7.  Doctors accessing mental-health services: an exploratory study 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000017.
To develop a more in-depth understanding of how doctors do and do not access mental healthcare from the perspectives of doctors themselves and people they have contact with through the process.
Qualitative methodology was used with semistructured interviews transcribed and analysed using Grounded Theory. Participants were 11 doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, four doctor and four non-doctor personal contacts (friends, family and colleagues) and eight treating psychiatrists.
Participants described experiencing unrealistic expectations and a harsh work environment with poor self care and denial and minimisation of signs of mental health difficulties. Doctor contacts described particular difficulty in responding effectively to doctor friends, family and colleagues in need of mental healthcare. In contrast, non-doctor personal contacts were more able to identify and speak about concerns but not necessarily to enable accessing adequate mental-health services.
Three areas with potential to address in supporting doctors' accessing of appropriate healthcare have been identified: (1) processes to enable doctors to maintain high standards of functioning with less use of minimisation and denial; (2) improving the quality and effectiveness of informal doctor-to-doctor conversations about mental-health issues among themselves; (3) role of non-doctor support people in identifying doctors' mental-health needs and enabling their access to mental healthcare. Further research in all these areas has the potential to contribute to improving doctors' access to appropriate mental healthcare and may be of value for the general population.
Article summary
Article focus
Doctors' accessment of adequate mental healthcare is less than optimal.
Family and community contacts have an important role in accessing mental healthcare.
Our understanding of the processes related to doctors accessing mental healthcare can be improved by exploring perspectives of doctor patients, their support people and treating psychiatrists.
Key messages
Doctors' unrealistic expectations of themselves and associated minimisation and denial of a range of self care needs may function as a barrier to accessing mental healthcare.
Addressing how doctors respond to other doctors in informal conversations indicating mental healthcare needs may be helpful in improving access to care.
Non-doctor support people may have a valuable role in enabling doctors to access appropriate mental healthcare.
All these areas need further research.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study of its kind and generates new insights in an important area.
Because of challenges in recruiting doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, a hard-to-reach group, the sample is small and not broadly representative.
PMCID: PMC3191385  PMID: 22021726
Child & adolescent psychiatry; adult psychiatry; physicians' health; accessing healthcare; impaired physician; mental health
8.  Obstacles to answering doctors' questions about patient care with evidence: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7339):710.
To describe the obstacles encountered when attempting to answer doctors' questions with evidence.
Qualitative study.
General practices in Iowa.
9 academic generalist doctors, 14 family doctors, and 2 medical librarians.
Main outcome measure
A taxonomy of obstacles encountered while searching for evidence based answers to doctors' questions.
59 obstacles were encountered and organised according to the five steps in asking and answering questions: recognise a gap in knowledge, formulate a question, search for relevant information, formulate an answer, and use the answer to direct patient care. Six obstacles were considered particularly salient by the investigators and practising doctors: the excessive time required to find information; difficulty modifying the original question, which was often vague and open to interpretation; difficulty selecting an optimal strategy to search for information; failure of a seemingly appropriate resource to cover the topic; uncertainty about how to know when all the relevant evidence has been found so that the search can stop; and inadequate synthesis of multiple bits of evidence into a clinically useful statement.
Many obstacles are encountered when asking and answering questions about how to care for patients. Addressing these obstacles could lead to better patient care by improving clinically oriented information resources.
What is already known on this topicDoctors are encouraged to search for evidence based answers to their questions about patient care but most go unansweredStudies have not defined the obstacles to answering questions in a systematic mannerA comprehensive description of such obstacles has not been presentedWhat this study addsFifty nine obstacles were found while attempting to answer clinical questions with evidence; six were particularly salientThe obstacles were comprehensively described and organised
PMCID: PMC99056  PMID: 11909789
9.  Why UK-trained doctors leave the UK: cross-sectional survey of doctors in New Zealand 
To investigate factors which influenced UK-trained doctors to emigrate to New Zealand and factors which might encourage them to return.
Cross-sectional postal and Internet questionnaire survey.
Participants in New Zealand; investigators in UK.
UK-trained doctors from 10 graduation-year cohorts who were registered with the New Zealand Medical Council in 2009.
Main outcome measures
Reasons for emigration; job satisfaction; satisfaction with leisure time; intentions to stay in New Zealand; changes to the UK NHS which might increase the likelihood of return.
Of 38,821 UK-trained doctors in the cohorts, 535 (1.4%) were registered to practise in New Zealand. We traced 419, of whom 282 (67%) replied to our questionnaire. Only 30% had originally intended to emigrate permanently, but 89% now intended to stay. Sixty-nine percent had moved to take up a medical job. Seventy percent gave additional reasons for relocating to New Zealand including better lifestyle, to be with family, travel/working holiday, or disillusionment with the NHS. Respondents' mean job satisfaction score was 8.1 (95% CI 7.9–8.2) on a scale from 1 (lowest satisfaction) to 10 (highest), compared with 7.1 (7.1–7.2) for contemporaries in the UK NHS. Scored similarly, mean satisfaction with the time available for leisure was 7.8 (7.6–8.0) for the doctors in New Zealand, compared with 5.7 (5.6–5.7) for the NHS doctors. Although few respondents wanted to return to the UK, some stated that the likelihood of doctors' returning would be increased by changes to NHS working conditions and by administrative changes to ease the process.
Emigrant doctors in New Zealand had higher job satisfaction than their UK-based contemporaries, and few wanted to return. The predominant reason for staying in New Zealand was a preference for the lifestyle there.
PMCID: PMC3265234  PMID: 22275495
10.  How well do doctors think they perform on the General Medical Council's Tests of Competence pilot examinations? A cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e004131.
To investigate how accurately doctors estimated their performance on the General Medical Council's Tests of Competence pilot examinations.
A cross-sectional survey design using a questionnaire method.
University College London Medical School.
524 medical doctors working in a range of clinical specialties between foundation year two and consultant level.
Main outcome measures
Estimated and actual total scores on a knowledge test and Observed Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
The pattern of results for OSCE performance differed from the results for knowledge test performance. The majority of doctors significantly underestimated their OSCE performance. Whereas estimated knowledge test performance differed between high and low performers. Those who did particularly well significantly underestimated their knowledge test performance (t (196)=−7.70, p<0.01) and those who did less well significantly overestimated (t (172)=6.09, p<0.01). There were also significant differences between estimated and/or actual performance by gender, ethnicity and region of Primary Medical Qualification.
Doctors were more accurate in predicating their knowledge test performance than their OSCE performance. The association between estimated and actual knowledge test performance supports the established differences between high and low performers described in the behavioural sciences literature. This was not the case for the OSCE. The implications of the results to the revalidation process are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3918998  PMID: 24503300
Education & Training (see Medical Education & Training); Medical Education & Training; Statistics & Research Methods
11.  Gender, ethnicity and graduate status, and junior doctors’ self-reported preparedness for clinical practice: national questionnaire surveys 
Medical schools need to ensure that graduates feel well prepared for their first medical job. Our objective was to report on differences in junior doctors’ self-reported preparedness for work according to gender, ethnicity and graduate status.
Postal and electronic questionnaires.
Medical graduates of 2008 and 2009, from all UK medical schools, one year after graduation.
Main outcome measures
The main outcome measure was the doctors’ level of agreement with the statement that ‘My experience at medical school prepared me well for the jobs I have undertaken so far’, to which respondents were asked to reply on a scale from ‘strongly agree’ to ‘strongly disagree’.
Women were slightly less likely than men to agree that they felt well prepared for work (50% of women agreed or strongly agreed vs. 54% of men), independently of medical school, ethnicity, graduate entry status and intercalated degree status, although they were no more likely than men to regard lack of preparedness as having been a problem for them. Adjusting for the other subgroup differences, non-white respondents were less likely to report feeling well prepared than white (44% vs. 54%), and were more likely to indicate that lack of preparedness was a problem (30% non-white vs. 24% white). There were also some gender and ethnic differences in preparedness for specific areas of work.
The identified gender and ethnic differences need to be further explored to determine whether they are due to differences in self-confidence or in actual preparedness.
PMCID: PMC3914428  PMID: 24108533
medical education; junior doctors; preparedness for work; gender; ethnicity
12.  Influencing sceptical staff to become supporters of service improvement: a qualitative study of doctors' and managers' views 
Quality & safety in health care  2004;13(2):108-114.
Objective: To explore scepticism and resistance towards changes in working practice designed to achieve service improvement. Two principal questions were studied: (1) why some people are sceptical or resistant towards improvement programmes and (2) what influences them to change their minds.
Methods: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 19 clinicians and 19 managers who held national and regional roles in two national programmes of service improvement within the NHS involving systematic organisational changes in working practices: the National Booking Programme and the Cancer Services Collaborative (now the Cancer Services Collaborative Improvement Partnership).
Results: Scepticism and resistance exist in all staff groups, especially among medical staff. Reasons include personal reluctance to change, misunderstanding of the aims of improvement programmes, and a dislike of the methods by which programmes have been promoted. Sceptical staff can be influenced to become involved in improvement, but this usually takes time. Newly won support may be fragile, requiring ongoing evidence of benefits to be maintained.
Conclusions: The support of health service staff, particularly doctors, is crucial to the spread and sustainability of the modernisation agenda. Scepticism and resistance are seen to hamper progress. Leaders of improvement initiatives need to recognise the impact of scepticism and resistance, and to consider ways in which staff can become positively engaged in change.
PMCID: PMC1743804  PMID: 15069217
13.  Promoting medical competencies through international exchange programs: benefits on communication and effective doctor-patient relationships 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:43.
Universities are increasingly organizing international exchange programs to meet the requirements of growing globalisation in the field of health care. Analyses based on the programs’ fundamental theoretical background are needed to confirm the learning value for participants. This study investigated the extent of sociocultural learning in an exchange program and how sociocultural learning affects the acquisition of domain-specific competencies.
Sociocultural learning theories were applied to study the learning effect for German medical students from the LMU Munich, Munich, Germany, of participation in the medical exchange program with Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia. First, we performed a qualitative study consisting of interviews with five of the first program participants. The results were used to develop a questionnaire for the subsequent, quantitative study, in which 29 program participants and 23 matched controls performed self-assessments of competencies as defined in the Tuning Project for Health Professionals. The two interrelated studies were combined to answer three different research questions.
The participants rated their competence significantly higher than the control group in the fields of doctor-patient relationships and communication in a medical context. Participant responses in the two interrelated studies supported the link between the findings and the suggested theoretical background.
Overall, we found that the exchange program affected the areas of doctor-patient relationships and effective communication in a medical context. Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory contributed to explaining the learning mechanisms of the exchange program.
PMCID: PMC3945959  PMID: 24589133
Medical education; Sociocultural learning; Vygotsky; International cooperation; Internationalization on universities; Outcomes of exchange programs; Global health education
14.  Family doctors' involvement with families in Estonia 
BMC Family Practice  2004;5:24.
Family doctors should care for individuals in the context of their family. Family has a powerful influence on health and illness and family interventions have been shown to improve health outcomes for a variety of health problems. The aim of the study was to investigate the Estonian family doctors' (FD) attitudes to the patients' family-related issues in their work: to explore the degree of FDs involvement in family matters, their preparedness for management of family-related issues and their self-assessment of the ability to manage different family-related problems.
A random sample (n = 236) of all FDs in Estonia was investigated using a postal questionnaire. Altogether 151 FDs responded to the questionnaire (response rate 64%), while five of them were excluded as they did not actually work as FDs.
Of the respondents, 90% thought that in managing the health problems of patients FDs should communicate and cooperate with family members. Although most of the family doctors agreed that modifying of the health damaging risk factors (smoking, alcohol and drug abuse) of their patients and families is their task, one third of them felt that dealing with these problems is ineffective, or perceived themselves as poorly prepared or having too little time for such activities. Of the respondents, 58% (n = 83) were of the opinion that they could modify also relationship problems.
Estonian family doctors are favourably disposed to involvement in family-related problems, however, they need some additional training, especially in the field of relationship management.
PMCID: PMC526768  PMID: 15504236
15.  Doctors' perceptions of palliative care for heart failure: focus group study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7364):581-585.
To identify doctors' perceptions of the need for palliative care for heart failure and barriers to change.
Qualitative study with focus groups.
North west England.
General practitioners and consultants in cardiology, geriatrics, palliative care, and general medicine.
Doctors supported the development of palliative care for patients with heart failure with the general practitioner as a central figure. They were reluctant to endorse expansion of specialist palliative care services. Barriers to developing approaches to palliative care in heart failure related to three main areas: the organisation of health care, the unpredictable course of heart failure, and the doctors' understanding of roles. The health system was thought to work against provision of holistic care, exacerbated by issues of professional rivalry and control. The priorities identified for the future were developing the role of the nurse, better community support for primary care, and enhanced communication between all the health professionals involved in the care of patients with heart failure.
Greater consideration should be given to the care of patients dying with heart failure, clarifying the roles of doctors and nurses in different specialties, and reshaping the services provided for them. Many of the organisational and professional issues are not peculiar to patients dying with heart failure, and addressing such concerns as the lack of coordination and continuity in medical care would benefit all patients.
What is already known on this topicPatients with heart failure have unmet needs for health care at the end of lifeSpecialist palliative care services see few patients with heart failureThe national service framework for coronary heart disease endorses the provision of palliative care for heart failureLittle evidence exists on how this care should be provided, and doctors' views are not knownWhat this study addsBarriers to adopting a palliative care approach in heart failure care relate to the current organisation of health services, the difficulties of prognostication, and doctors' understanding of roles and responsibilitiesDoctors believe that the general practitioner should be the central figure in palliative care for heart failure, supported by specialistsDoctors' future priorities are developing the role of nurses, increasing essential community services, such as district nursing, and improving communication with colleagues
PMCID: PMC124557  PMID: 12228136
16.  Knowledge and attitudes of doctors regarding the provision of mental health care in Doddaballapur Taluk, Bangalore Rural district, Karnataka 
Specialist mental health care is out of reach for most Indians. The World Health Organisation has called for the integration of mental health into primary health care as a key strategy in closing the treatment gap. However, few studies in India have examined medical practitioners’ mental health-related knowledge and attitudes. This study examined these facets of service provision amongst doctors providing primary health care in a rural area of Karnataka is Southern India.
A mental health knowledge and attitudes questionnaire was self- administered by participants. The questionnaire consisted of four sections; 1) basic demographics and practice information, 2) training in mental health, 3) knowledge of mental health, and self-perceived competence in providing mental health care, and 4) attitudes towards mental health. Data was analysed quantitatively, primarily using descriptive statistics.
This study recruited 46 participants. The majority of participants (69.6%) felt competent in providing mental health services to their patients. However, there was a substantial level of endorsement for several statements that reflected negative attitudes. Almost one third of participants (28.0%) had not received any training in providing mental health care. Whilst three-quarters of participants correctly identified depression (76.1%) and psychosis (76.1%) in a vignette, fewer were able to name three common signs and symptoms of depression (50.0%) and psychosis (28.3%).
Integrating mental health into primary health care requires evidence-based up-skilling programs. Doctors in this study desired such training and would benefit from it, with a focus on both depth of knowledge and uncovering stigmatising attitudes towards people with mental health problems.
PMCID: PMC3499292  PMID: 22995756
17.  What interventions do rural doctors think will increase recruitment in rural areas: a survey of 2778 health workers in Beijing 
A shortage of health professionals in rural areas is a major problem facing China, as more than 60% of the population lives in such areas. Strategies have been developed by the government to improve the recruitment of rural doctors. However, the inequitable distribution of doctors working in China has not improved significantly. The objective of this study was to explore the reasons for the poor recruitment and to propose possible strategies to improve the situation.
Between September 2009 and November 2009 data were collected from 2778 rural doctors in Beijing, China. A quantitative survey was used to explore health workers’ perceptions as to what factors would have the greatest impact on recruitment and whether access to training had been effective in increasing their confidence, enhancing their interest in practicing medicine and increasing their commitment to recruitment.
Rural doctors were generally older than average in China. Of the 2778 participants, only 7.23% had obtained a license as a qualified doctor. For 53% of the rural doctors, the job was part-time work. The survey showed that rural doctors considered the training strategy to be inadequate. In general, the initiatives identified by rural doctors as being of most value in the recruitment of doctors were those targeting retirement pension and income.
From the perspective of rural doctors, specific initiatives that promised a secure retirement pension and an increased income were considered most likely to assist in the recruitment of rural doctors in Beijing.
PMCID: PMC3765180  PMID: 23964857
Rural doctor; Recruitment; Human resources
18.  Palliative care for older people – exploring the views of doctors and nurses from different fields in Germany 
Providing appropriate palliative care for older people is a major task for health care systems worldwide, and up to now it has also been one of the most neglected. Focusing on the German health care system, we sought to explore the attitudes of health professionals regarding their understanding of palliative care for older patients and its implementation.
In a qualitative study design, focus groups were established consisting of general practitioners, geriatricians, palliative care physicians, palliative care nurses and general nurses (a total of 29 participants). The group discussions were recorded, transcribed, coded and analysed using the methodological approach of Qualitative Description.
Deficiencies in teamwork and conflicting role definitions between doctors and nurses and between family practitioners and medical specialists were found to be central problems affecting the provision of appropriate palliative care for older people. It was emphasized that there are great advantages to family doctors playing a leading role, as they usually have the longest contacts to the patients. However, the professional qualifications of family doctors were to some extent criticized. The general practitioners for their part criticized the increasing specialization on the field of palliative care. All groups complained that the German compensation system gives insufficient consideration to the time-consuming care of older patients, and about excessive bureaucracy.
General practitioners are the central health professionals in the delivery of palliative care for older people. They should however be encouraged to involve specialized services such as palliative care teams where necessary. With the German health care reform of 2007, a legal framework has been created that allows for this. As far as its realization is concerned, it must be ensured that the spotlight remains on the needs of the patients and not on policy conflicts and rivalries between health care professionals. Older people might particularly benefit if "talking" medicine and time-consuming care were properly catered for, financially and organizationally, in the health care system.
PMCID: PMC2706814  PMID: 19549336
19.  Student feedback about The Skeptic Doctor, a module on pharmaceutical promotion 
Pharmaceutical promotion is an integral part of modern medical practice. Surveys show that medical students have a positive attitude towards promotion. Pharmaceutical promotion is not adequately taught in medical schools. A module based on the manual produced by Health Action International was conducted for second year medical students at KIST Medical College, Lalitpur, Nepal. Student feedback on various aspects of the module was obtained using a semi-structured questionnaire. Eighty-six of the 100 students (86%) provided feedback about the module. Forty-five (52.3%) were female and 39 (45.3%) were male. Participant feedback about the module was positive. Small group work and role plays were appreciated, and the ratings of the module and the manual were satisfactory. Respondents felt pharmaceutical promotion will play an important role in their future practice and that the module prepared them to respond appropriately to promotion and select and use medicines properly. The module further developed on issues covered during pharmacology practical and majority felt the module was of relevance to Nepal. Students appreciated the module though there were suggestions for improvement. The module should be considered during the years of clinical training (third and fourth years) and internship and in other medical schools.
PMCID: PMC3250589  PMID: 22232707
Learning; Marketing; Students, medical; Nepal; Problem-based learning
20.  Making the new deal for junior doctors happen. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1994;308(6943):1553-1555.
How can the new deal for juniors be implemented in today's overstretched health service? How do you get clinicians and management to work together? On the Wirral falling house officer morale and recruitment stimulated a new approach, action learning, which proved to be highly successful. Action learning is not a new approach in management terms, but it is rarely used in the health service. Guided by an experienced facilitator, a group of people learn management skills by exploring and resolving practical problems relevant to them. A group of general practitioners and consultants used action learning to teach themselves more about management and at the same time to make changes which addressed many of the junior doctors' difficulties and solved the hospital recruiting problem.
PMCID: PMC2540511  PMID: 8019316
21.  Doctors, ethics and special education. 
Journal of Medical Ethics  1998;24(1):49-55.
This discussion paper is drawn from a qualitative research project comparing the effect of special and ordinary schools on the lives of children, young people and their families. Special schools are recommended by health professionals who seldom know how ineffective these schools are. We question the beneficence and justice of health professionals' advice on education for children with disabilities and other difficulties. Cooperation with local education authorities (LEAs) plays a considerable part in the work of community paediatricians, clinical medical officers, therapists and other health professionals encountering children with "special needs". The "needs" range from physical disability and sensory impairment to learning difficulties and emotional or behavioural difficulties. This cooperation involves routine administrative problems, but it raises broad ethical issues too, particularly in respect of current tendencies in state schooling towards the integration or inclusion of these children in mainstream schools and classes.
PMCID: PMC1377432  PMID: 9549683
22.  Analysis of a survey on young doctors' willingness to work in rural Hungary 
The severe shortage of qualified healthcare staff in Hungary cannot be quickly or easily overcome. There is not only a lack of human resources for health, but significant inequalities are widespread, including in geographical distribution. This disparity results in severe problems regarding access to and performance of health care services. In this context, this report, based on research carried out in 2008, deals with a particularly relevant matter: the willingness of young doctors to work outside Budapest (the capital of Hungary).
We conducted a survey with voluntary questionnaires and focus group interviews at each of the four Hungarian medical schools, concerning career plans and related incentives among young medical doctors. In all, 524 residents responded to the question concerning their willingness to work in rural areas, and there were seven focus group interviews, with 3-7 participants in each group. The number of residents' places in Hungary were 832, 682, and 785 in 2006/2007, 2007/2008, and 2008/2009, respectively.
The majority of those surveyed would like to work in Budapest or a large town. Fewer than 7% were willing to work in a town with less than 50 000 inhabitants. Most young doctors would like to work in a teaching hospital (i.e. an accredited training site for medical students and postgraduate trainees) or a major regional hospital.
The current system of medical training in Hungary tends to produce doctors who want to live in big cities and work in central hospitals. Rural regions and non-in-patient service alternatives seem either not to be targeted or seen as unattractive work places.
More doctors would be willing to work in smaller towns and villages if in-hospital training was altered and if doctors were offered adequate incentives as part of a comprehensive human resource strategy (high salaries, high professional standards, good working environment, reasonable workload). If these changes do not occur, the existing geographical and structural imbalances will not be improved.
PMCID: PMC2887778  PMID: 20482779
23.  What Did the Doctor Say? Health Literacy and Recall of Medical Instructions 
Medical Care  2012;50(4):277-282.
Limited literacy has repeatedly been linked to problems comprehending health information, although the majority of studies to date have focused on reading various print health materials. We sought to investigate patients’ ability to recall spoken medical instructions in the context of a hypothetical clinical encounter, and whether limited health literacy would adversely affect performance on the task.
A total of 755 patients age 55–74 were recruited from one academic internal medicine clinic and three federally qualified health centers. Participants’ health literacy skills and recall of spoken medical instructions for two standard, hypothetical video scenarios (wound care, GERD diagnosis)were assessed.
The majority (71.6%) of participants had adequate health literacy skills, and these individuals performed significantly better in correctly recalling spoken information than those with marginal and low literacy in both scenarios: [wound care - mean (SD): low 2.5 (1.3) vs. marginal 3.5 (1.3) vs adequate 4.6 (1.1); p<0.001), GERD: low 4.2(1.7) vs. marginal 5.2(1.7) vs. adequate 6.5 (1.7);p<0.001]. Regardless of literacy level, overall recall of information was poor. Few recognized pain (28.5%) or fever (28.2%) as signs of infection. Only 40.5% of participants correctly recalled when to take their GERD pills.
Many older adults may have difficulty remembering verbal instructions conveyed during clinical encounters. We found those with lower health literacy to have poorer ability to recall information. Greater provider awareness of the impact of low health literacy on the recall of spoken instructions may guide providers to communicate more effectively and employ strategies to confirm patient understanding.
PMCID: PMC3305916  PMID: 22411440
24.  Holding relationships in primary care: a qualitative exploration of doctors' and patients' perceptions 
The British Journal of General Practice  2011;61(589):e484-e491.
Ongoing doctor-patient relationships are integral to the patient-centred ideals of UK general practice, particularly for patients with chronic conditions or complex health problems. ‘Holding’, a doctor-patient relationship defined as establishing and maintaining a trusting, constant, reliable relationship that is concerned with ongoing support without expectation of cure, has previously been suggested as a management strategy for such patients.
To explore urban GPs' and patients' experiences of the management of chronic illness, with a particular focus on holding relationships.
Design and setting
A qualitative study in urban and suburban areas of north west England.
Participating GPs recruited registered patients with chronic illness with whom they felt they had established a holding relationship. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews and subjected to constant comparative qualitative analysis.
GP responders considered holding to be a small but routine part of theirwork. Benefits described included providing support to patients but also containing demands on secondary care. Patient responders, all with complex ongoing needs, described the relationship with their GP as a reassuring, positive, and securing partnership. Both GP and patient responders emphasised the importance of pre-existing knowledge of past life-story, and valued holding as a potential tool for changing health-related behaviour. Difficulties with holding work included fears of dependency, and problems of access.
Holding relationships are a routine part of general practice, valued by both GPs and patients. Naming and valuing holding work may legitimise this activity in the management of people with chronic and complex health problems.
PMCID: PMC3145532  PMID: 21801542
chronic illness; doctor-patient relations; continuity of care; qualitative research
25.  Comparison of British and French expatriate doctors’ characteristics and motivations 
BMJ Open  2012;2(6):e001706.
The aim of this study was to analyse the migration of doctors between the UK and France, in an attempt to identify the reasons for these migrations.
This was a cross-sectional study conducted using a self-completed questionnaire.
The questionnaire was sent to all British doctors practising in France and to all French doctors practising in the UK.
The doctors were identified, thanks to official data of the National Medical Councils. There were 244 French doctors practising in the UK and 86 British doctors practising in France.
Outcome measures
A questionnaire was specifically developed for the study to determine the reasons why doctors moved to the other country and their level of satisfaction with regard to their expatriation.
A total of 98 French doctors (of 244) and 40 British doctors (of 86) returned the questionnaire. The motivations of the two studied populations were different: French doctors were attracted by the conditions offered by the National Health Service, whereas British doctors were more interested in opportunities for career advancement, moved to join a husband or wife or to benefit from favourable environmental conditions. Overall, the doctors who responded considered the expatriation a satisfactory experience. After expatriation, 84% of French doctors were satisfied with their new professional situation compared with only 58% of British doctors.
This study, which is the first of its kind and based on representative samples, has led to a clearer understanding of the migration of doctors between France and the UK.
PMCID: PMC3533006  PMID: 23192244
Medical Education & Training; Public Health; Social Medicine

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