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1.  Assessing Optimal Target Populations for Influenza Vaccination Programmes: An Evidence Synthesis and Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(10):e1001527.
Marc Baguelin and colleagues use virological, clinical, epidemiological, and behavioral data to estimate how policies for influenza vaccination programs may be optimized in England and Wales.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Influenza vaccine policies that maximise health benefit through efficient use of limited resources are needed. Generally, influenza vaccination programmes have targeted individuals 65 y and over and those at risk, according to World Health Organization recommendations. We developed methods to synthesise the multiplicity of surveillance datasets in order to evaluate how changing target populations in the seasonal vaccination programme would affect infection rate and mortality.
Methods and Findings
Using a contemporary evidence-synthesis approach, we use virological, clinical, epidemiological, and behavioural data to develop an age- and risk-stratified transmission model that reproduces the strain-specific behaviour of influenza over 14 seasons in England and Wales, having accounted for the vaccination uptake over this period. We estimate the reduction in infections and deaths achieved by the historical programme compared with no vaccination, and the reduction had different policies been in place over the period. We find that the current programme has averted 0.39 (95% credible interval 0.34–0.45) infections per dose of vaccine and 1.74 (1.16–3.02) deaths per 1,000 doses. Targeting transmitters by extending the current programme to 5–16-y-old children would increase the efficiency of the total programme, resulting in an overall reduction of 0.70 (0.52–0.81) infections per dose and 1.95 (1.28–3.39) deaths per 1,000 doses. In comparison, choosing the next group most at risk (50–64-y-olds) would prevent only 0.43 (0.35–0.52) infections per dose and 1.77 (1.15–3.14) deaths per 1,000 doses.
Conclusions
This study proposes a framework to integrate influenza surveillance data into transmission models. Application to data from England and Wales confirms the role of children as key infection spreaders. The most efficient use of vaccine to reduce overall influenza morbidity and mortality is thus to target children in addition to older adults.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every winter, millions of people catch influenza, a viral infection of the airways. Most infected individuals recover quickly, but seasonal influenza outbreaks (epidemics) kill about half a million people annually. In countries with advanced health systems, these deaths occur mainly among elderly people and among individuals with long-term illnesses such as asthma and heart disease that increase the risk of complications occurring after influenza virus infection. Epidemics of influenza occur because small but frequent changes in the influenza virus mean that an immune response produced one year through infection provides only partial protection against influenza the following year. Annual immunization with a vaccine that contains killed influenza viruses of the major circulating strains can greatly reduce a person's risk of catching influenza by preparing the immune system to respond quickly when challenged by a live influenza virus. Consequently, many countries run seasonal influenza vaccination programs that, in line with World Health Organization recommendations, target individuals 65 years old and older and people in high-risk groups.
Why Was This Study Done?
Is this approach the best use of available resources? Might, for example, vaccination of children—the main transmitters of influenza—provide more benefit to the whole population than vaccination of elderly people? Vaccination of children would not directly prevent as many influenza-related deaths as vaccination of elderly people, but it might indirectly prevent deaths in elderly adults by inducing herd immunity—vaccination of a large part of a population can protect unvaccinated members of the population by reducing the chances of an infection spreading. Policy makers need to know whether a change to an influenza vaccination program is likely to provide additional population benefits before altering the program. In this evidence synthesis and modeling study, the researchers combine (synthesize) longitudinal influenza surveillance datasets (data collected over time) from England and Wales, develop a mathematical model for influenza transmission based on these data using a Bayesian statistical approach, and use the model to evaluate the impact on influenza infections and deaths of changes to the seasonal influenza vaccination program in England and Wales.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers developed an influenza transmission model using clinical data on influenza-like illness consultations collected in a primary care surveillance scheme for each week of 14 influenza seasons in England and Wales, virological information on respiratory viruses detected in a subset of patients presenting with clinically suspected influenza, and data on vaccination coverage in the whole population (epidemiological data). They also incorporated data on social contacts (behavioral data) and on immunity to influenza viruses in the population (seroepidemiological data) into their model. To estimate the impact of potential changes to the current vaccination strategy in England and Wales, the researchers used their model, which replicated the patterns of disease observed in the surveillance data, to run simulated epidemics for each influenza season and for three strains of influenza virus under various vaccination scenarios. Compared to no vaccination, the current program (vaccination of people 65 years old and older and people in high-risk groups) averted 0.39 infections per dose of vaccine and 1.74 deaths per 1,000 doses. Notably, the model predicted that extension of the program to target 5–16-year-old children would increase the efficiency of the program and would avert 0.70 infections per dose and 1.95 deaths per 1,000 doses.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The finding that the transmission model developed by the researchers closely fit the available surveillance data suggests that the model should be able to predict what would have happened in England and Wales over the study period if an alternative vaccination regimen had been in place. The accuracy of such predictions may be limited, however, because the vaccination model is based on a series of simplifying assumptions. Importantly, given that influenza vaccination for children is being rolled out in England and Wales from September 2013, the model confirms that children are key spreaders of influenza and suggests that a vaccination program targeting children will reduce influenza infections and potentially influenza deaths in the whole population. More generally, the findings of this study support wider adoption of national vaccination strategies designed to block influenza transmission and to target those individuals most at risk from the complications of influenza infection.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371.journal.pmed.1001527.
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients about seasonal influenza and about vaccination; Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) provides information on influenza surveillance in the UK, including information about the primary care surveillance database used in this study
The World Health Organization provides information on seasonal influenza (in several languages)
The European Influenzanet is a system to monitor the activity of influenza-like illness with the aid of volunteers via the Internet
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of seasonal influenza, including information about vaccination and about the US influenza surveillance system; its website contains a short video about personal experiences of influenza
Flu.gov, a US government website, provides access to information on seasonal influenza and vaccination
MedlinePlus has links to further information about influenza and about immunization (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001527
PMCID: PMC3793005  PMID: 24115913
2.  The influence of power dynamics and trust on multidisciplinary collaboration: a qualitative case study of type 2 diabetes mellitus 
Background
Ongoing care for chronic conditions such as diabetes is best provided by a range of health professionals working together. There are challenges in achieving this where collaboration crosses organisational and sector boundaries. The aim of this article is to explore the influence of power dynamics and trust on collaboration between health professionals involved in the management of diabetes and their impact on patient experiences.
Methods
A qualitative case study conducted in a rural city in Australia. Forty five health service providers from nineteen organisations (including fee-for-service practices and block funded public sector services) and eight patients from two services were purposively recruited. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews that were audio-taped and transcribed. A thematic analysis approach was used using a two-level coding scheme and cross-case comparisons.
Results
Three themes emerged in relation to power dynamics between health professionals: their use of power to protect their autonomy, power dynamics between private and public sector providers, and reducing their dependency on other health professionals to maintain their power. Despite the intention of government policies to support more shared decision-making, there is little evidence that this is happening. The major trust themes related to role perceptions, demonstrated competence, and the importance of good communication for the development of trust over time. The interaction between trust and role perceptions went beyond understanding each other's roles and professional identity. The level of trust related to the acceptance of each other's roles. The delivery of primary and community-based health services that crosses organisational boundaries adds a layer of complexity to interprofessional relationships. The roles of and role boundaries between and within professional groups and services are changing. The uncertainty and vulnerability associated with these changes has affected the level of trust and mistrust.
Conclusions
Collaboration across organisational boundaries remains challenging. Power dynamics and trust affect the strategic choices made by each health professional about whether to collaborate, with whom, and to what level. These decisions directly influenced patient experiences. Unlike the difficulties in shifting the balance of power in interprofessional relationships, trust and respect can be fostered through a mix of interventions aimed at building personal relationships and establishing agreed rules that govern collaborative care and that are perceived as fair.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-63
PMCID: PMC3376040  PMID: 22413897
3.  Influence of evidence-based guidance on health policy and clinical practice in England 
Quality in Health Care : QHC  2001;10(4):229-237.
Objectives—To examine the influence of evidence-based guidance on health care decisions, a study of the use of seven different sources and types of evidence-based guidance was carried out in senior health professionals in England with responsibilities either for directing and purchasing health care based in the health authorities, or providing clinical care to patients in trust hospitals or in primary care.
Design—Postal survey.
Setting—Three health settings: 46 health authorities, 162 acute and/or community trust hospitals, and 96 primary care groups in England.
Sample—566 subjects (46 directors of public health, 49 directors of purchasing, 375 clinical directors/consultants in hospitals, and 96 lead general practitioners).
Main outcome measures—Knowledge of selected evidence-based guidance, previous use ever, beliefs in quality, usefulness, and perceived influence on practice.
Results—A usable response rate of 73% (407/560) was achieved; 82% (334/407) of respondents had consulted at least one source of evidence-based guidance ever in the past. Professionals in the health authorities were much more likely to be aware of the evidence-based guidance and had consulted more sources (mean number of different guidelines consulted 4.3) than either the hospital consultants (mean 1.9) or GPs in primary care (mean 1.8). There was little variation in the belief that the evidence-based guidance was of "good quality", but respondents from the health authorities (87%) were significantly more likely than either hospital consultants (52%) or GPs (57%) to perceive that any of the specified evidence-based guidance had influenced a change of practice. Across all settings, the least used route to accessing evidence-based guidance was the Internet. For several sources an effect was observed between use ever, the health region where the health professional worked, and the region where the guidance was produced or published. This was evident for some national sources as well as in those initiatives produced locally with predominantly local distribution networks.
Conclusions—The evidence-based guidance specified was significantly more likely to be seen to have contributed to the decisions of public health specialists and commissioners than those of consultants in hospitals or of GPs in a primary care setting. Appropriate information support and dissemination systems that increase awareness, access, and use of evidence-based guidance at the clinical interface should be developed.
Key Words: evidence-based guidance; guidelines; evidence-based medicine
doi:10.1136/qhc.0100229..
PMCID: PMC1743459  PMID: 11743152
4.  Is housing a public health issue? A survey of directors of public health. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1991;302(6769):157-160.
OBJECTIVE--To determine the views of directors of public health on the importance of housing for public health and their departments' and health authorities' participation in housing issues. DESIGN--Postal self administered questionnaire survey. SETTING--All district health authorities in England and health boards in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. SUBJECTS--All 221 district directors of public health in England and chief administrative medical officers in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE--Response to questionnaire consisting of fixed and open ended questions on housing issues. RESULTS--The response rate was 89% (196/221). Housing was perceived as a major health problem by 33% (65/196) of directors. Positive responses were most likely from inner city districts. In 47% (93/196) of departments there was a formal time commitment to housing issues with a median time of one session/week (range one per month to 10 per week). The main function was allocation of medical priority for public sector rehousing. Overall, 73% (144/196) reported some participation in this process. Reported participation in joint care planning and links with non-statutory housing organisations were uncommon. 53% (104/196) of directors had included housing issues in their annual health report. In 16% (32/196) of districts specific services for the homeless had been set up. CONCLUSIONS--Although concern about the impact of current housing policy on public health was shown by a substantial number of directors, the main activity was still allocation of medical priority despite a background of increasing housing need and homelessness. The underlying need is for greater advocacy to produce a healthy housing policy for all, and the annual public health report could be used to promote this objective.
PMCID: PMC1668824  PMID: 1995137
5.  The long term importance of English primary care groups for integration in primary health care and deinstitutionalisation of hospital care 
Abstract
Purpose
This article reviews the impact of successive experiments in the development of primary care organisations in England and assesses the long-term importance of English primary care groups for the integration of health and community and health and social care and the deinstitutionalisation of hospital care.
Theory
Governments in a number of Western countries are attempting to improve the efficiency, appropriateness and equity of their health systems. One of the main ways of doing this is to devolve provision and commissioning responsibility from national and regional organisations to more local agencies based in primary care. Such primary care organisations are allocated budgets that span both primary and secondary (hospital) services and also, potentially, social care.
Method
This article is based on a systematic review of the literature forthcoming from the UK Government's Department of Health-funded evaluations of successive primary care organisational developments. These include total purchasing pilots, GP commissioning group pilots, personal medical services pilots and primary care groups and trusts.
Results
Primary care organisations in England have proved to be a catalyst in facilitating the development of integrated care working between primary and community health services. Conversely, primary care organisations have proved less effective in promoting integration between health and social care agencies where most progress has been made at the strategic commissioning level. The development of primary care trusts in England is heralding an end to traditional community hospitals.
Conclusions
The development of primary care groups in England are but an intermediate step of a policy progression towards future primary care-based organisations that will functionally integrate primary and community health services with local authority services under a single management umbrella.
PMCID: PMC1484401  PMID: 16896416
primary care; integrated care; managed care; England
6.  Attitudes to the public release of comparative information on the quality of general practice care: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7375):1278.
Objectives
To examine the attitudes of service users, general practitioners, and clinical governance leads based in primary care trusts to the public dissemination of comparative reports on quality of care in general practice, to guide the policy and practice of public disclosure of information in primary care.
Design
Qualitative focus group study using mock quality report cards as prompts for discussion.
Setting
12 focus groups held in an urban area in north west England and a semirural area in the south of England.
Participants
35 service users, 24 general practitioners, and 18 clinical governance leads.
Results
There was general support for the principle of publishing comparative information, but all three stakeholder groups expressed concerns about the practical implications. Attitudes were strongly influenced by experience of comparative reports from other sectors—for example, school league tables. Service users distrusted what they saw as the political motivation driving the initiative, expressed a desire to “protect” their practices from political and managerial interference, and were uneasy about practices being encouraged to compete against each other. General practitioners focused on the unfairness of drawing comparisons from current data and the risks of “gaming” the results. Clinical governance leads thought that public disclosure would damage their developmental approach to implementing clinical governance. The initial negative response to the quality reports seemed to diminish on reflection.
Conclusions
Despite support for the principle of greater openness, the planned publication of information about quality of care in general practice is likely to face considerable opposition, not only from professional groups but also from the public. A greater understanding of the practical implications of public reporting is required before the potential benefits can be realised.
What is already known on this topicDisclosure of information about quality of care in the NHS has been strongly influenced by the report card movement in the United StatesThis was based largely on hospital data, with no evidence to determine the attitudes of the British public to the publication of quality reports in general practiceWhat this study addsThe public and health professionals are in favour in principle of publishing information about quality in general practice but are concerned about the consequences for themselves, the practices, and the health systemPeople regard public disclosure as a political initiative and are more inclined to trust their own experience or that of friends and family than to trust comparative dataGeneral practitioners perceive comparative reports as a burden, and clinical governance leads are concerned that the reports might damage their facilitative approach to improving quality
PMCID: PMC136927  PMID: 12458248
7.  Configuring Balanced Scorecards for Measuring Health System Performance: Evidence from 5 Years' Evaluation in Afghanistan 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(7):e1001066.
Anbrasi Edward and colleagues report the results of a balanced scorecard performance system used to examine 29 key performance indicators over a 5-year period in Afghanistan, between 2004 and 2008.
Background
In 2004, Afghanistan pioneered a balanced scorecard (BSC) performance system to manage the delivery of primary health care services. This study examines the trends of 29 key performance indicators over a 5-year period between 2004 and 2008.
Methods and Findings
Independent evaluations of performance in six domains were conducted annually through 5,500 patient observations and exit interviews and 1,500 provider interviews in >600 facilities selected by stratified random sampling in each province. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) models were used to assess trends in BSC parameters. There was a progressive improvement in the national median scores scaled from 0–100 between 2004 and 2008 in all six domains: patient and community satisfaction of services (65.3–84.5, p<0.0001); provider satisfaction (65.4–79.2, p<0.01); capacity for service provision (47.4–76.4, p<0.0001); quality of services (40.5–67.4, p<0.0001); and overall vision for pro-poor and pro-female health services (52.0–52.6). The financial domain also showed improvement until 2007 (84.4–95.7, p<0.01), after which user fees were eliminated. By 2008, all provinces achieved the upper benchmark of national median set in 2004.
Conclusions
The BSC has been successfully employed to assess and improve health service capacity and service delivery using performance benchmarking during the 5-year period. However, scorecard reconfigurations are needed to integrate effectiveness and efficiency measures and accommodate changes in health systems policy and strategy architecture to ensure its continued relevance and effectiveness as a comprehensive health system performance measure. The process of BSC design and implementation can serve as a valuable prototype for health policy planners managing performance in similar health care contexts.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Traditionally, the performance of a health system (the complete network of health care agencies, facilities, and providers in a defined geographical region) has been measured in terms of health outcomes: how many people have been treated, how many got better, and how many died. But, nowadays, with increased demand for improved governance and accountability, policy makers are seeking comprehensive performance measures that show in detail how innovations designed to strengthen health systems are affecting service delivery and health outcomes. One such performance measure is the “balanced scorecard,” an integrated management and measurement tool that enables organizations to clarify their vision and strategy and translate them into action. The balanced scorecard—essentially a list of key performance indicators and performance benchmarks in several domains—was originally developed for industry but is now becoming a popular strategic management tool in the health sector. For example, balanced scorecards have been successfully integrated into the Dutch and Italian public health care systems.
Why Was This Study Done?
Little is known about the use of balanced scorecards in the national public health care systems of developing countries but the introduction of performance management into health system reform in fragile states in particular (developing countries where the state fails to perform the fundamental functions necessary to meet its citizens' basic needs and expectations) could help to promote governance and leadership, and facilitate essential policy changes. One fragile state that has introduced the balanced scorecard system for public health care management is Afghanistan, which emerged from decades of conflict in 2002 with some of the world's worst health indicators. To deal with an extremely high burden of disease, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) designed a Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS), which is delivered by nongovernmental organizations and MOPH agencies. In 2004, the MOPH introduced the National Health Service Performance Assessment (NHSPA), an annual country-wide assessment of service provision and patient satisfaction and pioneered a balanced scorecard, which uses data collected in the NHSPA, to manage the delivery of primary health care services. In this study, the researchers examine the trends between 2004 and 2008 of the 29 key performance indicators in six domains included in this balanced scorecard, and consider the potential and limitations of the scorecard as a management tool to measure and improve health service delivery in Afghanistan and other similar countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Each year of the study, a random sample of 25 facilities (district hospitals and comprehensive and basic health centers) in 28 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces was chosen (one province did not have functional facilities in 2004 and the other five missing provinces were inaccessible because of ongoing conflicts). NHSPA surveyors collected approximately 5,000 patient observations, 5,000 exit interviews with patients or their caregivers, and 1,500 health provider interviews by observing consultations involving five children under 5 years old and five patients over 5 years old in each facility. The researchers then used this information to evaluate the key performance indicators in the balanced scorecard and a statistical method called generalized estimating equation modeling to assess trends in these indicators. They report that there was a progressive improvement in national average scores in all six domains (patients and community satisfaction with services, provider satisfaction, capacity for service provision, quality of services, overall vision for pro-poor and pro-female health services, and financial systems) between 2004 and 2008.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the balanced scorecard was successfully used to improve health system capacity and service delivery through performance benchmarking over the 5-year study period. Importantly, the use of the balanced scorecard helped to show the effects of investments, facilitate policy change, and create a more evidence-based decision-making culture in Afghanistan's primary health care system. However, the researchers warn that the continuing success of the balanced scorecard in Afghanistan will depend on its ability to accommodate changes in health systems policy. Furthermore, reconfigurations of the scorecard are needed to include measures of the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the health system such as mortality rates. More generally, the researchers conclude that the balanced scorecard offers a promising measure of health system performance that could be used to examine the effectiveness of health care strategies and innovations in other fragile and developing countries.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001066.
A 2010 article entitled An Afghan Success Story: The Balanced Scorecard and Improved Health Services in The Globe, a newsletter produced by the Department of International Health at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, provides a detailed description of the balanced scorecard used in this study
Wikipedia has a page on health systems and on balanced scorecards (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The World Health Organization country profile of Afghanistan provides information on the country's health system and burden of disease (in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001066
PMCID: PMC3144209  PMID: 21814499
8.  Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA): development and evaluation. 
BACKGROUND: Since the early 1990s the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health has explicitly promoted a research and development (R&D) strategy for the National Health Service (NHS). General practitioners (GPs) and other members of the primary care team are in a unique position to undertake research activity that will complement and inform the research undertaken by basic scientists and hospital-based colleagues and lead directly to a better evidence base for decision making by primary care professionals. Opportunities to engage in R&D in primary care are growing and the scope for those wishing to become involved is finally widening. Infrastructure funding for research-active practices and the establishment of a range of support networks have helped to improve the research capacity and blur some of the boundaries between academic departments and clinical practice. This is leading to a supportive environment for primary care research. There is thus a need to develop and validate nationally accepted quality standards and accreditation of performance to ensure that funders, collaborators and primary care professionals can deliver high quality primary care research. Several strategies have been described in national policy documents in order to achieve an improvement in teaching and clinical care, as well as enhancing research capacity in primary care. The development of both research practices and primary care research networks has been recognised as having an important contribution to make in enabling health professionals to devote more protected time to undertake research methods training and to undertake research in a service setting. The recognition and development of primary care research has also brought with it an emphasis on quality and standards, including an approach to the new research governance framework. PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: In 1998, the NHS Executive South and West, and later the London Research and Development Directorate, provided funding for a pilot project based at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to develop a scheme to accredit UK general practices undertaking primary care R&D. The pilot began with initial consultation on the development of the process, as well as the standards and criteria for assessment. The resulting assessment schedule allowed for assessment at one of two levels: Collaborative Research Practice (Level I), with little direct experience of gaining project or infrastructure funding Established Research Practice (Level II), with more experience of research funding and activity and a sound infrastructure to allow for growth in capacity. The process for assessment of practices involved the assessment of written documentation, followed by a half-day assessment visit by a multidisciplinary team of three assessors. IMPLEMENTATION--THE PILOT PROJECT: Pilot practices were sampled in two regions. Firstly, in the NHS Executive South West Region, where over 150 practices expressed an interest in participating. From these a purposive sample of 21 practices was selected, providing a range of research and service activity. A further seven practices were identified and included within the project through the East London and Essex Network of Researchers (ELENoR). Many in this latter group received funding and administrative support and advice from ELENoR in order to prepare written submissions for assessment. Some sample loss was encountered within the pilot project, which was attributable largely to conflicting demands on participants' time. Indeed, the preparation of written submissions within the South West coincided with the introduction of primary care groups (PCGs) in April 1999, which several practices cited as having a major impact on their participation in the pilot project. A final sample of 15 practices (nine in the South West and six through ELENoR) underwent assessment through the pilot project. EVALUATION: A formal evaluation of the Primary Care Research Team Assessment (PCRTA) pilot was undertaken by an independent researcher (FM). This was supplemented with feedback from the assessment team members. The qualitative aspect of the evaluation, which included face-to-face and telephone interviews with assessors, lead researchers and other practice staff within the pilot research practices, as well as members of the project management group, demonstrated a positive view of the pilot scheme. Several key areas were identified in relation to particular strengths of research practices and areas for development including: Strengths Level II practices were found to have a strong primary care team ethos in research. Level II practices tended to have a greater degree of strategic thinking in relation to research. Development areas Level I practices were found to lack a clear and explicit research strategy. Practices at both levels had scope to develop their communication processes for dissemination of research and also for patient involvement. Practices at both levels needed mechanisms for supporting professional development in research methodology. The evaluation demonstrated that practices felt that they had gained from their participation and assessors felt that the scheme had worked well. Some specific issues were raised by different respondents within the qualitative evaluation relating to consistency of interpretation of standards and also the possible overlap of the assessment scheme with other RCGP quality initiatives. NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRIMARY CARE RESEARCH TEAM ASSESSMENT: The pilot project has been very successful and recommendations have been made to progress to a UK scheme. Management and review of the scheme will remain largely the same, with a few changes focusing on the assessment process and support for practices entering the scheme. Specific changes include: development of the support and mentoring role of the primary care research networks increased peer and external support and mentoring for research practices undergoing assessment development of assessor training in line with other schemes within the RCGP Assessment Network work to ensure consistency across RCGP accreditation schemes in relation to key criteria, thereby facilitating comparable assessment processes refinement of the definition of the two groups, with Level I practices referred to as Collaborators and Level II practices as Investigator-Led. The project has continued to generate much enthusiasm and support and continues to reflect current policy. Indeed, recent developments include the proposed new funding arrangements for primary care R&D, which refer to the RCGP assessment scheme and recognise it as a key component in the future R&D agenda. The assessment scheme will help primary care trusts (PCTs) and individual practices to prepare and demonstrate their approach to research governance in a systematic way. It will also provide a more explicit avenue for primary care trusts to explore local service and development priorities identified within health improvement programmes and the research priorities set nationally for the NHS.
PMCID: PMC2560501  PMID: 12049028
9.  “A Good Personal Scientific Relationship”: Philip Morris Scientists and the Chulabhorn Research Institute, Bangkok 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e238.
Background
This paper examines the efforts of consultants affiliated with Philip Morris (PM), the world's leading transnational tobacco corporation, to influence scientific research and training in Thailand via the Chulabhorn Research Institute (CRI). A leading Southeast Asian institute for environmental health science, the CRI is headed by Professor Dr. Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, the daughter of the King of Thailand, and it has assumed international significance via its designation as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in December 2005.
Methods and Findings
This paper analyses previously confidential tobacco industry documents that were made publicly available following litigation in the United States. PM documents reveal that ostensibly independent overseas scientists, now identified as industry consultants, were able to gain access to the Thai scientific community. Most significantly, PM scientist Roger Walk has established close connections with the CRI. Documents indicate that Walk was able to use such links to influence the study and teaching of environmental toxicology in the institute and to develop relations with key officials and local scientists so as to advance the interests of PM within Thailand and across Asia. While sensitivities surrounding royal patronage of the CRI make public criticism extremely difficult, indications of ongoing involvement by tobacco industry consultants suggest the need for detailed scrutiny of such relationships.
Conclusions
The establishment of close links with the CRI advances industry strategies to influence scientific research and debate around tobacco and health, particularly regarding secondhand smoke, to link with academic institutions, and to build relationships with national elites. Such strategies assume particular significance in the national and regional contexts presented here amid the globalisation of the tobacco pandemic. From an international perspective, particular concern is raised by the CRI's recently awarded status as a WHO Collaborating Centre. Since the network of WHO Collaborating Centres rests on the principle of “using national institutions for international purposes,” the documents presented below suggest that more rigorous safeguards are required to ensure that such use advances public health goals rather than the objectives of transnational corporations.
Jeff Collin and Ross MacKenzie analyze tobacco industry documents and find that Philip Morris consultants were able to gain access to a Thai research institute that is a WHO Collaborating Centre.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tobacco use kills 5.4 million people a year (one person every six seconds) and accounts for one in ten adult deaths worldwide. Globally, the use of tobacco is on the rise, especially in developing countries, which have become a major target for tobacco industry marketing. The tobacco industry has worked hard to try and influence public perceptions about the risks of smoking and the risk of inhaling secondhand smoke (passive smoking). The industry has used a variety of tactics to downplay the health hazards of smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke—two examples are publishing articles casting doubts about the health hazards of tobacco and funding research that is biased toward giving pro-industry results. Another tactic is for tobacco industry consultants to try and gain entry to universities and other academic centers to see if they can influence research and teaching activities.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers were concerned that consultants from the tobacco company Philip Morris had gained access to an academic research center in Thailand called the Chulabhorn Research Institute (CRI). The CRI is an internationally renowned teaching institution for a variety of scientific disciplines, including environmental toxicology (the study of how chemicals in the environment, such as tobacco smoke, can affect human health), biomedicine, and biotechnology. The institute has secured funding from the Thai government, the Association of Southeast Nations and the United Nations Development Programme. In 2005 the institute's environmental toxicology unit was designated a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre. WHO Collaborating Centres are “institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, that are designated by the Director-General of the WHO to carry out activities in support of the WHO's programs” (http://www.who.int/collaboratingcentres/en/). The researchers were concerned that Philip Morris consultants had been able to develop relationships with the CRI to help advance the company's interests.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed previously confidential tobacco industry documents that were made publicly available online following litigation in the United States. They searched two online collections of industry documents—the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and Tobacco Documents Online—as well as the online collections operated by US-based tobacco companies. They found that consultants to Philip Morris were able to gain access to the scientific community in Thailand. A Philip Morris scientist named Roger Walk was able to establish close connections to the CRI, and he used these connections to influence research and teaching activities at the CRI on environmental toxicology. Walk was also able to build relationships with government officials and scientists in Thailand to help advance the interests of Philip Morris in the country and across Asia.
What Do these Findings Mean?
This study provides evidence that the tobacco industry has established close links with a research institute in Thailand that collaborates with the WHO, and has been able to influence the institute's teaching curriculum and research. Such links are of great concern to the public health community, which is working hard to reduce deaths and disease due to tobacco. These links raise the possibility that the tobacco industry is managing to influence medical research and teaching at academic institutions. The WHO has stated that a firewall is in place between itself and the tobacco industry—but the study authors argue, based on their findings, that “this firewall is not impenetrable.” The study findings, they conclude, highlight a challenge posed to international tobacco control efforts, especially with respect to Article 5.3 of an international treaty called the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Article 5.3 addresses the need to protect public health policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. The authors say that better safeguards must be put in place to prevent tobacco companies from thwarting public health goals.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050238.
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library contains over 9.7 million documents created by tobacco companies
Tobacco Documents Online contains over 4 million tobacco industry documents
Over 900 WHO Collaborating Centres are at work in 99 Member States on many health disciplines
The WHO held an inquiry in 2000 into possible tobacco industry influence over the organization (and over other UN agencies), and has published its recommendations in response to this inquiry
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is an international treaty on controlling tobacco
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050238
PMCID: PMC2605886  PMID: 19108600
10.  The Australian preventive health agenda: what will this mean for workforce development? 
The formation of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) and the National Preventative Task Force in 2008, demonstrate a renewed Australian Government commitment to health reform. The re-focus on prevention, bringing it to the centre of health care has significant implications for health service delivery in the primary health care setting, supportive organisational structures and continuing professional development for the existing clinical and public health workforce. It is an opportune time, therefore, to consider new approaches to workforce development aligned to health policy reform. Regardless of the actual recommendations from the NHHRC in June 2009, there will be an emphasis on performance improvements which are accountable and aligned to new preventive health policy, organisational priorites and anticipated improved health outcomes.
To achieve this objective there will be a need for the existing population health workforce, primary health care and non-government sectors to increase their knowledge and understanding of prevention, promotion and protection theory and practice within new organisational frameworks and linked to the community. This shift needs to be part of a national health services research agenda, infrastructure and funding which is supportive of quality continuing professional development.
This paper discusses policy and practice issues related to workforce development as part of an integrated response to the preventive agenda.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-6-14
PMCID: PMC2696455  PMID: 19463159
11.  Community Mobilization in Mumbai Slums to Improve Perinatal Care and Outcomes: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001257.
David Osrin and colleagues report findings from a cluster-randomized trial conducted in Mumbai slums; the trial aimed to evaluate whether facilitator-supported women's groups could improve perinatal outcomes.
Introduction
Improving maternal and newborn health in low-income settings requires both health service and community action. Previous community initiatives have been predominantly rural, but India is urbanizing. While working to improve health service quality, we tested an intervention in which urban slum-dweller women's groups worked to improve local perinatal health.
Methods and Findings
A cluster randomized controlled trial in 24 intervention and 24 control settlements covered a population of 283,000. In each intervention cluster, a facilitator supported women's groups through an action learning cycle in which they discussed perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took local action. We monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths, and interviewed mothers at 6 weeks postpartum. The primary outcomes described perinatal care, maternal morbidity, and extended perinatal mortality. The analysis included 18,197 births over 3 years from 2006 to 2009. We found no differences between trial arms in uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in later pregnancy, institutional delivery, early and exclusive breastfeeding, or care-seeking. The stillbirth rate was non-significantly lower in the intervention arm (odds ratio 0.86, 95% CI 0.60–1.22), and the neonatal mortality rate higher (1.48, 1.06–2.08). The extended perinatal mortality rate did not differ between arms (1.19, 0.90–1.57). We have no evidence that these differences could be explained by the intervention.
Conclusions
Facilitating urban community groups was feasible, and there was evidence of behaviour change, but we did not see population-level effects on health care or mortality. In cities with multiple sources of health care, but inequitable access to services, community mobilization should be integrated with attempts to deliver services for the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve quality of care in both public and private sectors.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN96256793
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Substantial progress is being made to reduce global child mortality (deaths of children before the age of 5 years) and maternal mortality (deaths among women because of complications of pregnancy and childbirth)—two of the Millennium Development Goals agreed by world leaders in 2000 to end extreme poverty. Even so, worldwide, in 2010, 7.6 million children died before their fifth birthday and there were nearly 360,000 maternal deaths. Almost all child and maternal deaths occur in developing countries—a fifth of under-five deaths and more than a quarter of neonatal deaths (deaths during the first month of life, which account for two-fifths of all child deaths) occur in India alone. Moreover, most child and maternal deaths are caused by avoidable conditions. Specifically, the major causes of neonatal death—complications of preterm delivery, breathing problems during or after delivery, and infections of the blood (sepsis) and lungs (pneumonia)—and of maternal deaths—hemorrhage (abnormal bleeding), sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy—could all be largely prevented by improved access to reproductive health services and skilled health care workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Experts believe that improvements to maternal and newborn health in low-income settings require both health service strengthening and community action. That is, the demand for better services, driven by improved knowledge about maternal and newborn health (perinatal issues), has to be increased in parallel with the supply of those services. To date, community mobilization around perinatal issues has largely been undertaken in rural settings but populations in developing countries are becoming increasingly urban. In India, for example, 30% of the population now lives in cities. In this cluster randomized controlled trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in the differently treated “clusters” are compared), City Initiative for Newborn Health (CINH) researchers investigate the effect of an intervention designed to help women's groups in the slums of Mumbai work towards improving local perinatal health. The CINH aims to improve maternal and newborn health in slum communities by improving public health care provision and by working with community members to improve maternal and newborn care practices and care-seeking behaviors.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 48 Mumbai slum communities of at least 1,000 households into their trial. In each of the 24 intervention clusters, a facilitator supported local women's groups through a 36-meeting learning cycle during which group members discussed their perinatal experiences, improved their knowledge, and took action. To measure the effect of the intervention, the researchers monitored births, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths in all the clusters and interviewed mothers 6 weeks after delivery. During the 3-year trial, there were 18,197 births in the participating settlements. The women in the intervention clusters were enthusiastic about acquiring new knowledge and made substantial efforts to reach out to other women but were less successful in undertaking collective action such as negotiations with civic authorities for more amenities. There were no differences between the intervention and control communities in the uptake of antenatal care, reported work, rest, and diet in late pregnancy, institutional delivery, or in breast feeding and care-seeking behavior. Finally, the combined rate of stillbirths and neonatal deaths (the extended perinatal mortality rate) was the same in both arms of the trial, as was maternal mortality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that it is possible to facilitate the discussion of perinatal health care by urban women's groups in the challenging conditions that exist in the slums of Mumbai. However, they fail to show any measureable effect of community mobilization through the facilitation of women's groups on perinatal health at the population level. The researchers acknowledge that more intensive community activities that target the poorest, most vulnerable slum dwellers might produce measurable effects on perinatal mortality, and they conclude that, in cities with multiple sources of health care and inequitable access to services, it remains important to integrate community mobilization with attempts to deliver services to the poorest and most vulnerable, and with initiatives to improve the quality of health care in both the public and private sector.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on the reduction of child mortality (Millennium Development Goal 4); its Childinfo website provides information about all the Millennium Development Goals and detailed statistics about on child survival and health, newborn care, and maternal health (some information in several languages)
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and Millennium Development Goal 5, the reduction of maternal mortality, provides information on newborn infants, and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
Information on the City Initiative for Newborn Health and its partners and a detailed description of its trial of community mobilization in Mumbai slums to improve care during pregnancy, delivery, postnatally and for the newborn are available
Further information about the Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action (SNEHA) is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001257
PMCID: PMC3389036  PMID: 22802737
12.  Prospects for progress on health inequalities in England in the post-primary care trust era: professional views on challenges, risks and opportunities 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:274.
Background
Addressing health inequalities remains a prominent policy objective of the current UK government, but current NHS reforms involve a significant shift in roles and responsibilities. Clinicians are now placed at the heart of healthcare commissioning through which significant inequalities in access, uptake and impact of healthcare services must be addressed. Questions arise as to whether these new arrangements will help or hinder progress on health inequalities. This paper explores the perspectives of experienced healthcare professionals working within the commissioning arena; many of whom are likely to remain key actors in this unfolding scenario.
Methods
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 42 professionals involved with health and social care commissioning at national and local levels. These included representatives from the Department of Health, Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities, Local Authorities, and third sector organisations.
Results
In general, respondents lamented the lack of progress on health inequalities during the PCT commissioning era, where strong policy had not resulted in measurable improvements. However, there was concern that GP-led commissioning will fare little better, particularly in a time of reduced spending. Specific concerns centred on: reduced commitment to a health inequalities agenda; inadequate skills and loss of expertise; and weakened partnership working and engagement. There were more mixed opinions as to whether GP commissioners would be better able than their predecessors to challenge large provider trusts and shift spend towards prevention and early intervention, and whether GPs’ clinical experience would support commissioning action on inequalities. Though largely pessimistic, respondents highlighted some opportunities, including the potential for greater accountability of healthcare commissioners to the public and more influential needs assessments via emergent Health & Wellbeing Boards.
Conclusions
There is doubt about the ability of GP commissioners to take clearer action on health inequalities than PCTs have historically achieved. Key actors expect the contribution from commissioning to address health inequalities to become even more piecemeal in the new arrangements, as it will be dependent upon the interest and agency of particular individuals within the new commissioning groups to engage and influence a wider range of stakeholders.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-274
PMCID: PMC3621701  PMID: 23530661
Commissioning; Health inequalities; NHS; General practitioners; CCG; Restructuring
13.  Human resources for health challenges of public health system reform in Georgia 
Background
Human resources (HR) are one of the most important components determining performance of public health system. The aim of this study was to assess adequacy of HR of local public health agencies to meet the needs emerging from health care reforms in Georgia.
Methods
We used the Human Resources for Health Action Framework, which includes six components: HR management, policy, finance, education, partnerships and leadership. The study employed: (a) quantitative methods: from September to November 2004, 30 randomly selected district Centers of Public Health (CPH) were surveyed through face-to-face interviews with the CPH director and one public health worker randomly selected from all professional staff; and (b) qualitative methods: in November 2004, Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were held among 3 groups: a) 12 district public health professionals, b) 11 directors of district public health centers, and c) 10 policy makers at central level.
Results
There was an unequal distribution of public health workers across selected institutions, with lack of professionals in remote rural district centers and overstaffing in urban centers. Survey respondents disagreed or were uncertain that public health workers possess adequate skills and knowledge necessary for delivery of public health programs. FGDs shed additional light on the survey findings that there is no clear vision and plans on HR development. Limited budget, poor planning, and ignorance from the local government were mentioned as main reasons for inadequate staffing. FGD participants were concerned with lack of good training institutions and training programs, lack of adequate legislation for HR issues, and lack of necessary resources for HR development from the government.
Conclusion
After ten years of public health system reforms in Georgia, the public health workforce still has major problems such as irrational distribution and inadequate knowledge and skills. There is an urgent need for re-training and training programs and development of conducive policy environment with sufficient resources to address these problems and assure adequate functionality of public health programs.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-6-8
PMCID: PMC2429907  PMID: 18505585
14.  The Effects of Influenza Vaccination of Health Care Workers in Nursing Homes: Insights from a Mathematical Model 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(10):e200.
Background
Annual influenza vaccination of institutional health care workers (HCWs) is advised in most Western countries, but adherence to this recommendation is generally low. Although protective effects of this intervention for nursing home patients have been demonstrated in some clinical trials, the exact relationship between increased vaccine uptake among HCWs and protection of patients remains unknown owing to variations between study designs, settings, intensity of influenza seasons, and failure to control all effect modifiers. Therefore, we use a mathematical model to estimate the effects of HCW vaccination in different scenarios and to identify a herd immunity threshold in a nursing home department.
Methods and Findings
We use a stochastic individual-based model with discrete time intervals to simulate influenza virus transmission in a 30-bed long-term care nursing home department. We simulate different levels of HCW vaccine uptake and study the effect on influenza virus attack rates among patients for different institutional and seasonal scenarios. Our model reveals a robust linear relationship between the number of HCWs vaccinated and the expected number of influenza virus infections among patients. In a realistic scenario, approximately 60% of influenza virus infections among patients can be prevented when the HCW vaccination rate increases from 0 to 1. A threshold for herd immunity is not detected. Due to stochastic variations, the differences in patient attack rates between departments are high and large outbreaks can occur for every level of HCW vaccine uptake.
Conclusions
The absence of herd immunity in nursing homes implies that vaccination of every additional HCW protects an additional fraction of patients. Because of large stochastic variations, results of small-sized clinical trials on the effects of HCW vaccination should be interpreted with great care. Moreover, the large variations in attack rates should be taken into account when designing future studies.
Using a mathematical model to simulate influenza transmission in nursing homes, Carline van den Dool and colleagues find that each additional staff member vaccinated further reduces the risk to patients.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every winter, millions of people catch influenza, a contagious viral disease of the nose, throat, and airways. Most people recover completely from influenza within a week or two but some develop life-threatening complications such as bacterial pneumonia. As a result, influenza outbreaks kill about half a million people—mainly infants, elderly people, and chronically ill individuals—each year. To minimize influenza-related deaths, the World Health Organization recommends that vulnerable people be vaccinated against influenza every autumn. Annual vaccination is necessary because flu viruses continually make small changes to the viral proteins (antigens) that the immune system recognizes. This means that an immune response produced one year provides only partial protection against influenza the next year. To provide maximum protection against influenza, each year's vaccine contains disabled versions of the major circulating strains of influenza viruses.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most Western countries also recommend annual flu vaccination for health care workers (HCWs) in hospitals and other institutions to reduce the transmission of influenza to vulnerable patients. However, many HCWs don't get a regular flu shot, so should efforts be made to increase their rate of vaccine uptake? To answer this question, public-health experts need to know more about the relationship between vaccine uptake among HCWs and patient protection. In particular, they need to know whether a high rate of vaccine uptake by HCWs will provide “herd immunity.” Herd immunity occurs because, when a sufficient fraction of a population is immune to a disease that passes from person to person, infected people rarely come into contact with susceptible people, which means that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are protected from the disease. In this study, the researchers develop a mathematical model to investigate the relationship between vaccine uptake among HCWs and patient protection in a nursing home department.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To predict influenza virus attack rates (the number of patient infections divided by the number of patients in a nursing home department during an influenza season) at different levels of HCW vaccine uptake, the researchers develop a stochastic transmission model to simulate epidemics on a computer. This model predicts that as the HCW vaccination rate increases from 0 (no HCWs vaccinated) to 1 (all the HCWs vaccinated), the expected average influenza virus attack rate decreases at a constant rate. In the researchers' baseline scenario—a nursing home department with 30 beds where patients come into contact with other patients, HCWs, and visitors—the model predicts that about 60% of the patients who would have been infected if no HCWs had been vaccinated are protected when all the HCWs are vaccinated, and that seven HCWs would have to be vaccinated to protect one patient. This last figure does not change with increasing vaccine uptake, which indicates that there is no level of HCW vaccination that completely stops the spread of influenza among the patients; that is, there is no herd immunity. Finally, the researchers show that large influenza outbreaks can happen by chance at every level of HCW vaccine uptake.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical models, the accuracy of these predictions may depend on the specific assumptions built into the model. Therefore the researchers verified that their findings hold for a wide range of plausible assumptions. These findings have two important practical implications. First, the direct relationship between HCW vaccination and patient protection and the lack of any herd immunity suggest that any increase in HCW vaccine uptake will be beneficial to patients in nursing homes. That is, increasing the HCW vaccination rate from 80% to 90% is likely to be as important as increasing it from 10% to 20%. Second, even 100% HCW vaccination cannot guarantee that influenza outbreaks will not occasionally occur in nursing homes. Because of the large variation in attack rates, the results of small clinical trials on the effects of HCW vaccination may be inaccurate and future studies will need to be very large if they are to provide reliable estimates of the amount of protection that HCW vaccination provides to vulnerable patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050200.
Read the related PLoSMedicine Perspective by Cécile Viboud and Mark Miller
A related PLoSMedicine Research Article by Jeffrey Kwong and colleagues is also available
The World Health Organization provides information on influenza and on influenza vaccines (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide information for patients and professionals on all aspects of influenza (in English and Spanish)
The UK Health Protection Agency also provides information on influenza
MedlinePlus provides a list of links to other information about influenza (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service provides information about herd immunity, including a simple explanatory animation
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provides an overview on the types of influenza
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050200
PMCID: PMC2573905  PMID: 18959470
15.  The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Health Care: A Systematic Overview 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(1):e1000387.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report the findings of their systematic overview that assessed the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care.
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital solutions to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Implementations of transformative eHealth technologies are underway globally, often at very considerable cost. In order to assess the impact of eHealth solutions on the quality and safety of health care, and to inform policy decisions on eHealth deployments, we undertook a systematic review of systematic reviews assessing the effectiveness and consequences of various eHealth technologies on the quality and safety of care.
Methods and Findings
We developed novel search strategies, conceptual maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions, and then systematically identified, scrutinised, and synthesised the systematic review literature. Major biomedical databases were searched to identify systematic reviews published between 1997 and 2010. Related theoretical, methodological, and technical material was also reviewed. We identified 53 systematic reviews that focused on assessing the impact of eHealth interventions on the quality and/or safety of health care and 55 supplementary systematic reviews providing relevant supportive information. This systematic review literature was found to be generally of substandard quality with regards to methodology, reporting, and utility. We thematically categorised eHealth technologies into three main areas: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. We found that despite support from policymakers, there was relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made in relation to these technologies. Whether the success of those relatively few solutions identified to improve quality and safety would continue if these were deployed beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed, has yet to be established. Importantly, best practice guidelines in effective development and deployment strategies are lacking.
Conclusions
There is a large gap between the postulated and empirically demonstrated benefits of eHealth technologies. In addition, there is a lack of robust research on the risks of implementing these technologies and their cost-effectiveness has yet to be demonstrated, despite being frequently promoted by policymakers and “techno-enthusiasts” as if this was a given. In the light of the paucity of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, it is vital that future eHealth technologies are evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle. Such evaluation should be characterised by careful attention to socio-technical factors to maximise the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
There is considerable international interest in exploiting the potential of digital health care solutions, often referred to as eHealth—the use of information and communication technologies—to enhance the quality and safety of health care. Often accompanied by large costs, any large-scale expenditure on eHealth—such as electronic health records, picture archiving and communication systems, ePrescribing, associated computerized provider order entry systems, and computerized decision support systems—has tended to be justified on the grounds that these are efficient and cost-effective means for improving health care. In 2005, the World Health Assembly passed an eHealth resolution (WHA 58.28) that acknowledged, “eHealth is the cost-effective and secure use of information and communications technologies in support of health and health-related fields, including health-care services, health surveillance, health literature, and health education, knowledge and research,” and urged member states to develop and implement eHealth technologies. Since then, implementing eHealth technologies has become a main priority for many countries. For example, England has invested at least £12.8 billion in a National Programme for Information Technology for the National Health Service, and the Obama administration in the United States has committed to a US$38 billion eHealth investment in health care.
Why Was This Study Done?
Despite the wide endorsement of and support for eHealth, the scientific basis of its benefits—which are repeatedly made and often uncritically accepted—remains to be firmly established. A robust evidence-based perspective on the advantages on eHealth could help to suggest priority areas that have the greatest potential for benefit to patients and also to inform international eHealth deliberations on costs. Therefore, in order to better inform the international community, the authors systematically reviewed the published systematic review literature on eHealth technologies and evaluated the impact of these technologies on the quality and safety of health care delivery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers divided eHealth technologies into three main categories: (1) storing, managing, and transmission of data; (2) clinical decision support; and (3) facilitating care from a distance. Then, implementing methods based on those developed by the Cochrane Collaboration and the NHS Service Delivery and Organisation Programme, the researchers used detailed search strategies and maps of health care quality, safety, and eHealth interventions to identify relevant systematic reviews (and related theoretical, methodological, and technical material) published between 1997 and 2010. Using these techniques, the researchers retrieved a total of 46,349 references from which they identified 108 reviews. The 53 reviews that the researchers finally selected (and critically reviewed) provided the main evidence base for assessing the impact of eHealth technologies in the three categories selected.
In their systematic review of systematic reviews, the researchers included electronic health records and picture archiving communications systems in their evaluation of category 1, computerized provider (or physician) order entry and e-prescribing in category 2, and all clinical information systems that, when used in the context of eHealth technologies, integrate clinical and demographic patient information to support clinician decision making in category 3.
The researchers found that many of the clinical claims made about the most commonly used eHealth technologies were not substantiated by empirical evidence. The evidence base in support of eHealth technologies was weak and inconsistent and importantly, there was insubstantial evidence to support the cost-effectiveness of these technologies. For example, the researchers only found limited evidence that some of the many presumed benefits could be realized; importantly, they also found some evidence that introducing these new technologies may on occasions also generate new risks such as prescribers becoming over-reliant on clinical decision support for e-prescribing, or overestimate its functionality, resulting in decreased practitioner performance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers found that despite the wide support for eHealth technologies and the frequently made claims by policy makers when constructing business cases to raise funds for large-scale eHealth projects, there is as yet relatively little empirical evidence to substantiate many of the claims made about eHealth technologies. In addition, even for the eHealth technology tools that have proven to be successful, there is little evidence to show that such tools would continue to be successful beyond the contexts in which they were originally developed. Therefore, in light of the lack of evidence in relation to improvements in patient outcomes, as well as the lack of evidence on their cost-effectiveness, the authors say that future eHealth technologies should be evaluated against a comprehensive set of measures, ideally throughout all stages of the technology's life cycle, and include socio-technical factors to maximize the likelihood of successful implementation and adoption in a given context. Furthermore, it is equally important that eHealth projects that have already been commissioned are subject to rigorous, multidisciplinary, and independent evaluation.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387.
The authors' broader study is: Car J, Black A, Anandan C, Cresswell K, Pagliari C, McKinstry B, et al. (2008) The Impact of eHealth on the Quality and Safety of Healthcare. Available at: http://www.haps.bham.ac.uk/publichealth/cfhep/001.shtml
More information is available on the World Health Assembly eHealth resolution
The World Health Organization provides information at the Global Observatory on eHealth, as well as a global insight into eHealth developments
The European Commission provides Information on eHealth in Europe and some examples of good eHealth practice
More information is provided on NHS Connecting for Health
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000387
PMCID: PMC3022523  PMID: 21267058
16.  Implementing the NHS information technology programme: qualitative study of progress in acute trusts 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;334(7608):1360.
Objectives To describe progress and perceived challenges in implementing the NHS information and technology (IT) programme in England.
Design Case studies and in-depth interviews, with themes identified using a framework developed from grounded theory. We interviewed personnel who had been interviewed 18 months earlier, or new personnel in the same posts.
Setting Four NHS acute hospital trusts in England.
Participants Senior trust managers and clinicians, including chief executives, directors of IT, medical directors, and directors of nursing.
Results Interviewees unreservedly supported the goals of the programme but had several serious concerns. As before, implementation is hampered by local financial deficits, delays in implementing patient administration systems that are compliant with the programme, and poor communication between Connecting for Health (the agency responsible for the programme) and local managers. New issues were raised. Local managers cannot prioritise implementing the programme because of competing financial priorities and uncertainties about the programme. They perceive a growing risk to patients' safety associated with delays and a loss of integration of components of the programme, and are discontented with Choose and Book (electronic booking for referrals from primary care).
Conclusions We recommend that the programme sets realistic timetables for individual trusts and advises managers about interim IT systems they have to purchase because of delays outside their control. Advice needs to be mindful of the need for trusts to ensure longer term compatibility with the programme and value for money. Trusts need assistance in prioritising modernisation of IT by, for example, including implementation of the programme in the performance management framework. Even with Connecting for Health adopting a different approach of setting central standards with local implementation, these issues will still need to be addressed. Lessons learnt in the NHS have wider relevance as healthcare systems, such as in France and Australia, look to realise the potential of large scale IT modernisation.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39195.598461.551
PMCID: PMC1906623  PMID: 17510104
17.  National health financing policy in Eritrea: a survey of preliminary considerations 
Background
The 58th World Health Assembly and 56th WHO Regional Committee for Africa adopted resolutions urging Member States to ensure that health financing systems included a method for prepayment to foster financial risk sharing among the population and avoid catastrophic health-care expenditure. The Regional Committee asked countries to strengthen or develop comprehensive health financing policies. This paper presents the findings of a survey conducted among senior staff of selected Eritrean ministries and agencies to elicit views on some of the elements likely to be part of a national health financing policy.
Methods
This is a descriptive study. A questionnaire was prepared and sent to 19 senior staff (Directors) in the Ministry of Health, Labour Department, Civil Service Administration, Eritrean Confederation of Workers, National Insurance Corporation of Eritrea and Ministry of Local Government. The respondents were selected by the Ministry of Health as key informants.
Results
The key findings were as follows: the response rate was 84.2% (16/19); 37.5% (6/16) and 18.8% said that the vision of Eritrean National Health Financing Policy (NHFP) should include the phrases ‘equitable and accessible quality health services’ and ‘improve efficiency or reduce waste’ respectively; over 68% indicated that NHFP should include securing adequate funding, ensuring efficiency, ensuring equitable financial access, protection from financial catastrophe, and ensuring provider payment mechanisms create positive incentives to service providers; over 80% mentioned community participation, efficiency, transparency, country ownership, equity in access, and evidence-based decision making as core values of NHFP; over 62.5% confirmed that NHFP components should consist of stewardship (oversight), revenue collection, revenue pooling and risk management, resource allocation and purchasing of health services, health economics research, and development of human resources for health; over 68.8% indicated cost-sharing, taxation and social health insurance as preferred revenue collection mechanisms; and 68.75% indicated their preferred provider payment mechanism to be a global (lump sum) budget.
Conclusion
This study succeeded in gathering the preliminary views of senior staff of selected Eritrean ministries and agencies regarding the likely elements of the NHFP, i.e. the vision, objectives, components, provider payment mechanisms, and health financing agency and its governance. In addition to stakeholder surveys, it would be helpful to inform the development of the NHFP with other pieces of evidence, including cost-effectiveness analysis of health services and interventions, financial feasibility analysis of financing options, a survey of the political and professional acceptability of financing options, national health accounts, and equity analyses.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-12-16
PMCID: PMC3517356  PMID: 22929308
18.  Tracking Official Development Assistance for Reproductive Health in Conflict-Affected Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(6):e1000090.
Preeti Patel and colleagues report inequity in the disbursement of official development assistance for reproductive health between countries affected by conflict and those unaffected.
Background
Reproductive health needs are particularly acute in countries affected by armed conflict. Reliable information on aid investment for reproductive health in these countries is essential for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of aid. The purpose of this study was to analyse official development assistance (ODA) for reproductive health activities in conflict-affected countries from 2003 to 2006.
Methods and Findings
The Creditor Reporting System and the Financial Tracking System databases were the chosen data sources for the study. ODA disbursement for reproductive health activities to 18 conflict-affected countries was analysed for 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. An average of US$20.8 billion in total ODA was disbursed annually to the 18 conflict-affected countries between 2003 and 2006, of which US$509.3 million (2.4%) was allocated to reproductive health. This represents an annual average of US$1.30 disbursed per capita in the 18 sampled countries for reproductive health activities. Non-conflict-affected least-developed countries received 53.3% more ODA for reproductive health activities than conflict-affected least-developed countries, despite the latter generally having greater reproductive health needs. ODA disbursed for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment increased by 119.4% from 2003 to 2006. The ODA disbursed for other direct reproductive health activities declined by 35.9% over the same period.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence of inequity in disbursement of reproductive health ODA between conflict-affected countries and non-conflict-affected countries, and between different reproductive health activities. These findings and the study's recommendations seek to support initiatives to make aid financing more responsive to need in the context of armed conflict.
Editors' Summary
Background
Reproductive health concerns the bodily functions and systems that are involved in conceiving and bearing offspring. A reproductively healthy person is able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and to reproduce if and when they chose to do so. More specifically, to ensure their reproductive health, both men and women need access to safe and effective birth control methods, they need to know how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV/AIDS), and they need access to treatment should they become infected. Women also need access to appropriate health-care services to safeguard their own health and their offspring's health during pregnancy and childbirth. Reproductive health is essential for the wellbeing of individuals and families and for the social and economic development of nations. Consequently, some of the official development assistance (ODA) given to developing countries by wealthier nations and by international agencies is being used to improve reproductive health. Indeed, several of the Millennium Development Goals (internationally agreed targets designed to eradicate global poverty by 2015) are directly related to reproductive health, including the improvement of maternal health and the control of HIV/AIDS.
Why Was This Study Done?
Many developing countries, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, and Sudan, are experiencing violent conflicts. Such conflicts tend to slow down the development of low-income countries, and can also cause harm to reproductive health by damaging the health-service infrastructure and by increasing exposure to sexual violence. Although conflict-affected low-income countries rely heavily on international and humanitarian aid for basic health-care provision, there is little reliable information about how much of this aid is invested in reproductive health in such countries. This information is needed to ensure that development aid is used effectively. In this study, therefore, the researchers analyze the amount of ODA disbursed (the amount of official development money paid to recipient countries) for reproductive health activities in conflict-affected countries between 2003 and 2006.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified eighteen countries (mostly “least-developed” countries as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; OEDC) that had been at war at sometime during the study period. They obtained information on ODA disbursements for reproductive health activities mainly from the Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database, which is maintained by the OECD, but also from the Financial Tracking System (FTS) database, which is maintained by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. An average of US$20.8 billion in ODA was disbursed annually to the 18 conflict-affected countries between 2003 and 2006. Only US$509.3 million (2.4%) of this was allocated to reproductive health. Put another way, each person living in these conflict-affected countries received US$1.30 per year for their reproductive health needs. By contrast, people in non-conflict-affected least-developed countries each received 50% more ODA for reproductive health activities, even though these countries often had better reproductive health indicators than the conflict-affected countries. The researchers also found that nearly half of ODA disbursed for reproductive health was used for HIV/AIDS-related activities. This portion of ODA increased slightly during the study period in the conflict-affected countries whereas ODA disbursed for other reproductive health activities fell by a third.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although these findings do not take into account money provided to conflict-affected developing countries for reproductive health activities by large philanthropic organizations, they nevertheless reveal an inequality between conflict-affected and non-conflict affected countries in terms of the development money provided for reproductive health. This is a worrying finding given that reproductive health tends to suffer in countries affected by war and poor reproductive health can slow down development. The findings of this study also suggest that funding for non-HIV reproductive health activities is declining in conflict-affected countries. Importantly, they also highlight additional research that is needed to ensure that donors of development aid can be more responsive in future to the reproductive health needs of conflict-affected countries.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000090.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Paul Spiegel and colleagues
The World Health organization provides information about reproductive health, including information on its 2004 global strategy for reproductive health (in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on reproductive health (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on reproductive health (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages
The United Nations provides information on the Millennium Development Goals
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development provides information on ODA through its Creditor Reporting System database; the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs provides similar information for other donors through its Financial Tracking System database
The Reproductive Health Response in Conflict Consortium promotes access to reproductive health programs in emergencies and advocates for policies that support reproductive health of persons affected by armed conflict
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000090
PMCID: PMC2682761  PMID: 19513098
19.  International Collaboration for Improved Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response in India 
Objective
This project aimed to contribute to ongoing efforts to improve the capability and capacity to undertake disease surveillance and Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) activities in India. The main outcome measure was to empower a cadre of trainers through the inter-related streams of training & education to enhance knowledge and skills and the development of collaborative networks in the regions.
Introduction
The International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, provides a framework that supports efforts to improve global health security and requires that, member states develop and strengthen systems and capacity for disease surveillance and detection and response to public health threats. To contribute to this global agenda, an international collaborative comprising of personnel from the Health Protection Agency, West Midlands, United Kingdom (HPA); the Indian Institute of Public Health (IIPH), Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (AP) state, India and the Department of Community Medicine, Rajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital (RRMCH), Bangalore, Karnataka state, India was established with funding from the HPA Global Health Fund to deliver the objectives stated above.
Methods
In 2010, the project partners jointly developed training materials on applied Epidemiology & Disease Surveillance and EPR using existing HPA material as the foundation. Over a 2 year period, a total of two training courses per year were planned for each of the two locations in India. Courses were designed to be delivered through didactic lectures, simulation exercises, workshops and group discussions at the two locations, namely Bangalore and Hyderabad. The target audience included senior state level programme officers, District Medical and Health Officers, postgraduate students, academic and research staff from Community Medicine departments and staff from the collaborating institutions.
Course modules were formally evaluated by participants using structured questionnaires and an external evaluator. Debrief sessions were also arranged after each course to review the key lessons and identify areas for improvement.
In addition, staff exchanges of up to six weeks duration were planned during which public health specialists from both countries would spend time observing health protection systems/processes in their host country.
Results
During January 2010 to December 2011, a total of seven (n=7) training courses were delivered in Bangalore and Hyderabad with approximately 231 public health personnel in attendance over the period. Participants comprised of 128 personnel representing 74 organisations in 41 districts (22 districts from AP) at the Hyderabad location and 103 personnel from 14 organisations (30 districts) at the Bangalore location.
Course participants evaluated the content of the courses favourably with the majority (92%) rating the course modules as excellent or good. External evaluation of the courses was also favourable with several aspects of the course rated as good or excellent. IIPH and RRMC continue to deliver the courses and in the state of Karnataka, some participants at the EPR course were chosen by the health ministry to be part of Rapid Response Teams at District levels.
Two public health specialists from each of the Indian organisations spent six (6) weeks in the United Kingdom as part of the planned staff exchanges. The exchanges were assessed to have been successful with important areas for future collaboration identified including proposals to jointly develop an Emergency Preparedness and Response Manual for the Indian Public Health audience.
Conclusions
The implementation and maintenance of effective and sustainable systems to ensure global health security relies on a well-trained public health workforce in member states. This innovative collaborative project has gone some way towards meeting its objective of establishing and supporting a cadre of trainers to ensure sustainable improvement in public health capacity and capability in India. After the initial (training) phase of the project that was completely funded by the HPA, the partner organisations in India have worked to sustain and further develop the core objectives of this project. As a further step, course materials developed as part of this project will be used to provide a framework upon which e-learning material and postgraduate modules will be developed in each of these institutions in India.
PMCID: PMC3692801
Surveillance; Training; EPR; IHR
20.  Achieving progress through clinical governance? A national study of health care managers' perceptions in the NHS in England 
Quality & safety in health care  2004;13(5):335-343.
Background: A national cross sectional study was undertaken to explore the perceptions concerning the importance of, and progress in, aspects of clinical governance among board level and directorate managers in English acute, ambulance, and mental health/learning disabilities (MH/LD) trusts.
Participants: A stratified sample of acute, ambulance, and mental health/learning disabilities trusts in England (n = 100), from each of which up to 10 board level and 10 directorate level managers were randomly sampled.
Methods: Fieldwork was undertaken between April and July 2002 using the Organisational Progress in Clinical Governance (OPCG) schedule to explore managers' perceptions of the importance of, and organisational achievement in, 54 clinical governance competency items in five aggregated domains: improving quality; managing risks; improving staff performance; corporate accountability; and leadership and collaboration. The difference between ratings of importance and achievement was termed a shortfall.
Results: Of 1916 individuals surveyed, 1177 (61.4%) responded. The competency items considered most important and recording highest perceived achievement related to corporate accountability structures and clinical risks. The highest shortfalls between perceived importance and perceived achievement were reported in joint working across local health communities, feedback of performance data, and user involvement. When aggregated into domains, greatest achievement was perceived in the assurance related areas of corporate accountability and risk management, with considerably less perceived achievement and consequently higher shortfalls in quality improvement and leadership and collaboration. Directorate level managers' perceptions of achievement were found to be significantly lower than those of their board level colleagues on all domains other than improving performance. No differences were found in perceptions of achievement between different types of trusts, or between trusts at different stages in the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) review cycle.
Conclusions: While structures and systems for clinical governance seem well established, there is more perceived progress in areas concerned with quality assurance than quality improvement. This study raises some uncomfortable questions about the impact of CHI review visits.
doi:10.1136/qshc.2002.005108
PMCID: PMC1743892  PMID: 15465936
21.  e-Health Code of Ethics (May 24) 
The Internet is changing how people receive health information and health care. All who use the Internet for health-related purposes must join together to create an environment of trusted relationships to assure high quality information and services; protect privacy; and enhance the value of the Internet for both consumers and providers of health information, products, and services. The goal of the e-Health Code of Ethics is to ensure that people worldwide can confidently and with full understanding of known risks realise the potential of the Internet in managing their own health and the health of those in their care. The final e-Health Code of Ethics, presented in this paper, has been prepared as a result of the "e-Health Ethics Summit," which convened in Washington DC on 31 January 2000 - 2 February 2000. The summit, organized by the Internet Healthcare Coalition and hosted by the World Health Organisation/Pan-American Health Organisation (WHO/PAHO), was attended by a panel of about 50 invited experts from all over the world and produced the foundation for a draft code, which was released 18 February [1] for an online public consultation period which ended on 14 April 2000. The final Washington e-Health Code of Ethics sets forth guiding principles under eight main headings: candor; honesty; quality; informed consent; privacy; professionalism in online health care; responsible partnering; and accountability.
Note: Abstract, keywords, acknowledgements and references have been added by the editor and are not part of the final Code.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2.2.e9
PMCID: PMC1761853  PMID: 11720928
Internet; Ethics; Quality of Health Care
22.  Public health communications and alert fatigue 
Background
Health care providers play a significant role in large scale health emergency planning, detection, response, recovery and communication with the public. The effectiveness of health care providers in emergency preparedness and response roles depends, in part, on public health agencies communicating information in a way that maximizes the likelihood that the message is delivered, received, deemed credible and, when appropriate, acted on. However, during an emergency, health care providers can become inundated with alerts and advisories through numerous national, state, local and professional communication channels. We conducted an alert fatigue study as a sub-study of a larger randomized controlled trial which aimed to identify the most effective methods of communicating public health messages between public health agencies and providers. We report an analysis of the effects of public health message volume/frequency on recall of specific message content and effect of rate of message communications on health care provider alert fatigue.
Methods
Health care providers enrolled in the larger study (n=528) were randomized to receive public health messages via email, fax, short message service (SMS or cell phone text messaging) or to a control group that did not receive messages. For 12 months, study messages based on real events of public health significance were sent quarterly with follow-up telephone interviews regarding message receipt and topic recall conducted 5–10 days after the message delivery date. During a pandemic when numerous messages are sent, alert fatigue may impact ability to recall whether a specific message has been received due to the “noise” created by the higher number of messages. To determine the impact of “noise” when study messages were sent, we compared health care provider recall of the study message topic to the number of local public health messages sent to health care providers.
Results
We calculated the mean number of messages that each provider received from local public health during the time period around each study message and provider recall of study message content. We found that recall rates were inversely proportional to the mean number of messages received per week: Every increase of one local public health message per week resulted in a statistically significant 41.2% decrease (p < 0.01), 95% CI [0.39, .87] in the odds of recalling the content of the study message.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, this is the first study to document the effects of alert fatigue on health care providers’ recall of information. Our results suggest that information delivered too frequently and/or repetitively through numerous communication channels may have a negative effect on the ability of health care providers to effectively recall emergency information. Keeping health care providers and other first-line responders informed during an emergency is critical. Better coordination between organizations disseminating alerts, advisories and other messages may improve the ability of health care providers to recall public health emergency messages, potentially impacting effective response to public health emergency messages.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-295
PMCID: PMC3751004  PMID: 23915324
23.  European health research and globalisation: is the public-private balance right? 
Background
The creation and exchange of knowledge between cultures has benefited world development for many years. The European Union now puts research and innovation at the front of its economic strategy. In the health field, biomedical research, which benefits the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, has been well supported, but much less emphasis has been given to public health and health systems research. A similar picture is emerging in European support for globalisation and health
Case studies
Two case-studies illustrate the links of European support in global health research with industry and biomedicine. The European Commission's directorates for (respectively) Health, Development and Research held an international conference in Brussels in June 2010. Two of six thematic sessions related to research: one was solely concerned with drug development and the protection of intellectual property. Two European Union-supported health research projects in India show a similar trend. The Euro-India Research Centre was created to support India's participation in EU research programmes, but almost all of the health research projects have been in biotechnology. New INDIGO, a network led by the French national research agency CNRS, has chosen 'Biotechnology and Health' and funded projects only within three laboratory sciences.
Discussion
Research for commerce supports only one side of economic development. Innovative technologies can be social as well as physical, and be as likely to benefit society and the economy. Global health research agendas to meet the Millenium goals need to prioritise prevention and service delivery. Public interest can be voiced through civil society organisations, able to support social research and public-health interventions. Money for health research comes from public budgets, or indirectly through healthcare costs. European 'Science in Society' programme contrasts research for 'economy', using technical solutions, commercialisation and a passive consumer voice for civil society, compared with research valuing 'collectivity', organisational and social innovations, open use, and public accountability.
Conclusions
European policy currently prioritises health research in support of industry. European institutions and national governments must also support research and innovation in health and social systems, and promote civil society participation, to meet the challenges of globalisation.
doi:10.1186/1744-8603-7-5
PMCID: PMC3073887  PMID: 21426549
24.  Impact of published clinical outcomes data: case study in NHS hospital trusts 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7307):260-263.
Objective
To examine the impact of the publication of clinical outcomes data on NHS Trusts in Scotland to inform the development of similar schemes elsewhere.
Design
Case studies including semistructured interviews and a review of background statistics.
Setting
Eight Scottish NHS acute trusts.
Participants
48 trust staff comprising chief executives, medical directors, stroke consultants, breast cancer consultants, nurse managers, and junior doctors.
Main outcome measures
Staff views on the benefits and drawbacks of clinical outcome indicators provided by the clinical resource and audit group (CRAG) and perceptions of the impact of these data on clinical practice and continuous improvement of quality.
Results
The CRAG indicators had a low profile in the trusts and were rarely cited as informing internal quality improvement or used externally to identify best practice. The indicators were mainly used to support applications for further funding and service development. The poor effect was attributable to a lack of professional belief in the indicators, arising from perceived problems around quality of data and time lag between collection and presentation of data; limited dissemination; weak incentives to take action; a predilection for process rather than outcome indicators; and a belief that informal information is often more useful than quantitative data in the assessment of clinical performance.
Conclusions
Those responsible for developing clinical indicator programmes should develop robust datasets. They should also encourage a working environment and incentives such that these data are used to improve continuously.
What is already known on this topicCurrent policy on performance assessment in England and Wales places a great deal of emphasis on the collection and dissemination of clinical informationDissemination of clinical outcome data has had limited impact on the behaviour of provider organisations in the United StatesWhat this paper addsResearch in Scottish trusts suggests that clinical indicators are rarely used to stimulate quality improvement or share good practiceThe reasons for low impact include internal factors relating to the properties of the indicators and external factors within the organisational environment in which the data are used
PMCID: PMC35346  PMID: 11485954
25.  Effectiveness of external inspection of compliance with standards in improving healthcare organisation behaviour, healthcare professional behaviour or patient outcomes 
Background
Inspection systems are used in health care to promote quality improvements, i.e. to achieve changes in organisational structures or processes, healthcare provider behaviour and patient outcomes. These systems are based on the assumption that externally promoted adherence to evidence-based standards (through inspection/assessment) will result in higher quality of health care. However, the benefits of external inspection in terms of organisational, provider and patient level outcomes are not clear.
Objectives
To evaluate the effectiveness of external inspection of compliance with standards in improving healthcare organisation behaviour, healthcare professional behaviour and patient outcomes.
Search methods
We searched the following electronic databases for studies: the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effectiveness, Scopus, HMIC, Index to Theses and Intute from their inception dates up to May 2011. There was no language restriction and studies were included regardless of publication status. We searched the reference lists of included studies and contacted authors of relevant papers, accreditation bodies and the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO), regarding any further published or unpublished work.
Selection criteria
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs), controlled clinical trials (CCTs), interrupted time-series (ITSs) and controlled before and after studies (CBAs) evaluating the effect of external inspection against external standards on healthcare organisation change, healthcare professional behaviour or patient outcomes in hospitals, primary healthcare organisations and other community-based healthcare organisations.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently applied eligibility criteria, extracted data and assessed the risk of bias of each included study. Since meta-analysis was not possible, we produced a narrative results summary.
Main results
We identified one cluster-RCT involving 20 South African public hospitals (Salmon 2003) and one ITS involving all acute trusts in England (OPM 2009) for inclusion in this review.
Salmon and colleagues (Salmon 2003) showed mixed effects of a hospital accreditation system on the compliance with COHSASA (the Council for Health Services Accreditation for South Africa) accreditation standards and eight indicators of hospital quality. Significantly improved total mean compliance score with COHSASA accreditation standards was found for 21/28 service elements: mean intervention effect (95% confidence interval (CI)) was 30% (23% to 57%) (P < 0.001). The score increased from 48% to 78% in intervention hospitals, while remaining the same in control hospitals (43%). A sub-analysis of 424 a priori identified critical criteria (19 service elements) showed significantly improved compliance with the critical standards (P < 0.001). The score increased from 41% (21% to 46%) to 75% (55% to 96%) in intervention hospitals, but was unchanged in control hospitals (37%). Only one of the nine intervention hospitals gained full accreditation status at the end of the study period, with two others reached pre-accreditation status.The median intervention effect (range) for the indicators of hospital quality of care was 2.4 (−1.9 to +11.8) and only one of the eight indicators: ‘nurses perception of clinical quality, participation and teamwork’ was significantly improved (mean intervention effect 5.7, P = 0.03).
Re-analysis of the MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) data showed statistically non-significant effects of the Healthcare Commissions Infection Inspection programme.
Authors’ conclusions
We only identified two studies for inclusion in this review, which highlights the paucity of high-quality controlled evaluations of the effectiveness of external inspection systems. No firm conclusions could therefore be drawn about the effectiveness of external inspection on compliance with standards.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008992.pub2
PMCID: PMC4164461  PMID: 22071861
Accreditation [*standards]; Commission on Professional and Hospital Activities [*standards]; Cross Infection [epidemiology]; England; Guideline Adherence [standards]; Hospitals [*standards]; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Organizational Culture; Outcome Assessment (Health Care) [standards]; Professional Practice [*standards]; Quality Assurance, Health Care [*standards]; Quality Improvement [*standards]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; South Africa; Staphylococcal Infections [epidemiology]

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