Integration of lifestyle promotion in routine primary care has been suboptimal. Coordinated care models (e.g. screening, brief advice and referral to in-house specialized staff) could facilitate lifestyle promotion practice; they have been shown to increase the quality of services and reduce costs in other areas of care. This study evaluates the long-term impact of a coordinated lifestyle promotion intervention with a multidisciplinary team approach in a primary care setting.
A quasi-experimental, cross-sectional design was used to compare three intervention centres using a coordinated care model and three control centres using a traditional model of lifestyle promotion care. Outcomes were inspired by using the RE-AIM framework: reach, the proportion of patients receiving lifestyle promotion; effectiveness, self-reported attitudes and competency among staff; adoption, proportion of staff reporting daily practice of lifestyle promotion and referral; and implementation, of the coordinated care model. The impact was investigated after 3 and 5 years. Data collection involved a patient questionnaire (intervention, n = 433–497; control, n = 455–497), a staff questionnaire (intervention, n = 77–76; control, n = 43–56) and structured interviews with managers (n = 8). The χ2 test or Fisher exact test with adjustment for clustering by centre was used for the analysis. Problem-driven content analysis was used to analyse the interview data.
The findings were consistent over time. Intervention centres did not show higher rates for reach of patients or adoption among staff at the 3- or 5-year follow-up. Some conceptual differences between intervention and control staff remained over time in that the intervention staff were more positive on two of eight effectiveness outcomes (one attitude and one competency item) compared with control staff. The Lifestyle team protocol, which included structural opportunities for coordinated care, was implemented at all intervention centres. Lifestyle teams were perceived to have an important role at the centres in driving the lifestyle promotion work forward and being a forum for knowledge exchange. However, resources to refer patients to specialized staff were used inconsistently.
The Lifestyle teams may have offered opportunities for lifestyle promotion practice and contributed to enabling conditions at centre level but had limited impact on lifestyle promotion practices.
Healthy lifestyle promotion; Primary care; Implementation; Coordinated care; RE-AIM framework; Maintenance
The UK National Health Service (NHS) is undergoing institutional reorganisation due to the Health and Social Care Act-2012 with a continued restriction on funding within the NHS and clinically focused academic institutions. The UK Society for Academic Primary Care (SAPC) is examining the sustainability of academic primary care careers within this climate and preliminary qualitative work has highlighted individual and organisational barriers. This study seeks to quantify the current situation for academics within primary care.
A survey of academic primary care staff was undertaken. Fifty-three academic primary care departments were selected. Members were invited to complete a survey which contained questions about an individual’s career, clarity of career pathways, organisational culture, and general experience of working within the area. Data were analysed descriptively with cross-tabulations between survey responses and career position (early, mid-level, senior), disciplinary background (medical, scientist), and gender. Pearson chi-square test was used to determine likelihood that any observed difference between the sets arose by chance.
Responses were received from 217 people. Career pathways were unclear for the majority of people (64%) and 43% of the workforce felt that the next step in their career was unclear. This was higher in women (52% vs. men 25%; χ2(3) = 14.76; p = 0.002) and higher in those in early career (50% vs. senior career, 25%) and mid-career(45%; vs. senior career; χ2(6) = 29.19, p < 0.001). The workforce appeared geographically static but unstable with only 50% of people having their contract renewed or extended. The majority of people (59%) have never been promoted by their institution. There were perceptions of gender equality even in the context of females being underrepresented in senior positions (19% vs. males 39%; χ2(3) = 8.43, p = 0.015). Despite these findings, the majority of the workforce reported positive organisational and cultural experiences.
Sustainability of a academic primary care career is undermined by unclear pathways and a lack of promotion. If the discipline is to thrive, there is a need to support early and mid-career individuals via greater transparency of career pathways. Despite these findings staff remained positive about their careers.
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Sustainability of careers; Barriers to academic primary care careers; Career pathways in academic primary care
Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynaecological malignancy in the United Kingdom (UK). Studies have found that many women with ovarian cancer have symptoms for several months before diagnosis. Using a symptoms-based tool to diagnose ovarian cancer (OC) earlier is appealing, but may increase general practitioner (GP) workload because the symptoms are typically vague and non-specific. This study aimed to provide estimates of the GP workload associated with offering symptoms-based ovarian cancer screening.
A cross-sectional analysis of electronic records from four general practices in England, UK. We downloaded anonymous data on women aged 45–74 who consulted over one week to estimate the proportion who would be offered ‘screening’ according to the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines and a symptoms index (Index 2) over one year. We used previous consultations (censoring women with no prior symptom at the date of their last recorded consultation) to estimate the proportion of women presenting with a new (not recorded in previous 12 months) NICE symptom each year.
Data were obtained from 19,558 women. The proportion presenting over one week varied between practices (5%-14%), however, the proportion with an OC symptom was similar (17% overall). Over one year, an estimated 51.8% (95% CI 44.0%-59.7%) would present with an OC symptom, 26.6% (95% CI 19.3%-35.1%) with a NICE symptom and 20.3% (95% CI 13.7%-28.5%) with an Index 2 symptom. Each year, an estimated 11.9% (95% CI 5.0%-18.3%) of women would present with a new NICE symptom.
One in two women aged 45–74 present to primary care at least once a year with an OC symptom, 11.9% with a new NICE symptom. This would be comparable to 2 to 8 yearly screening (depending on what symptoms triggered testing).
Ovarian cancer; Symptoms; Screening; General practice; Early diagnosis
Chest complaints presented to a general practitioner (GP) are frequently caused by diseases which have advantageous outcomes. However, in some cases, acute coronary syndrome (ACS) is present (1.5-22% of cases). The patient’s signs, symptoms and electrocardiography results are insufficient diagnostic tools to distinguish mild disease from ACS. Therefore, most patients presenting chest complaints are referred to secondary care facilities where ACS is then ruled out in a majority of patients (78%). Recently, a point of care test for heart-type fatty acid-binding protein (H-FABP) using a low cut-off value between positive and negative of 4 ng/ml has become available. We aim to study the role of this point of care device in triage of patients presenting chest complaints possibly due to ACS, in primary care. Our research protocol is presented in this article. Results are expected in 2015.
Participating GPs will register signs and symptoms in all patients presenting chest complaints possibly due to ACS. Point of care H-FABP testing will also be performed. Our study will be a derivation study to identify signs and symptoms that, combined with point of care H-FABP testing, can be part of an algorithm to either confirm or rule out ACS. The diagnostic value for ACS of this algorithm in general practice will be determined.
A safe diagnostic elimination of ACS by application of the algorithm can be of significant clinical relevance. Improved triage and thus reduction of the number of patients with chest complaints without underlying ACS, that are referred to secondary care facilities, could lead to a substantial cost reduction.
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01826994, accepted April 8th 2013.
Acute coronary syndrome (ACS); Acute myocardial infarction (AMI); Diagnostic study; Heart-type fatty acid-binding protein (H-FABP); Point of care test (PoCT); Primary care
Clinicians prescribe antibiotics to over 65% of adults with acute bronchitis despite guidelines stating that antibiotics are not indicated.
To identify and understand primary care clinician perceptions about antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 13 primary care clinicians in Boston, Massachusetts and used thematic content analysis.
All the participants agreed with guidelines that antibiotics are not indicated for acute bronchitis and felt that clinicians other than themselves were responsible for overprescribing. Barriers to guideline adherence included 6 themes: (1) perceived patient demand, which was the main barrier, although some clinicians perceived a recent decrease; (2) lack of accountability for antibiotic prescribing; (3) saving time and money; (4) other clinicians’ misconceptions about acute bronchitis; (5) diagnostic uncertainty; and (6) clinician dissatisfaction in failing to meet patient expectations. Strategies to decrease inappropriate antibiotic prescribing included 5 themes: (1) patient educational materials; (2) quality reporting; (3) clinical decision support; (4) use of an over-the-counter prescription pad; and (5) pre-visit triage and education by nurses to prevent visits.
Clinicians continued to cite patient demand as the main reason for antibiotic prescribing for acute bronchitis, though some clinicians perceived a recent decrease. Clinicians felt that other clinicians were responsible for inappropriate antibiotic prescribing and that better pre-visit triage by nurses could prevent visits and change patients’ expectations.
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Bronchitis; Respiratory tract infections; Anti-bacterial agents; Primary health care; Qualitative research
Policy makers in Africa are ambivalent about the need for family physicians to strengthen district health services. Evidence on the impact of family physicians is therefore needed. The aim was to develop a tool to evaluate the impact of family physicians on district health services according to the six expected roles that have been defined nationally.
Mixed methods were used to develop, validate, pilot and test the reliability of the tool in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. An expert panel validated the content and construction of the tool. The tool was piloted by 94 respondents who evaluated eight family physicians. Cronbach alpha scores were calculated to test the reliability of the tool. The impact of these family physicians in the pilot study was also analysed.
A draft tool was successfully developed, validated, and proved reliable (Cronbach alpha >0.8). The overall scores (scale of 1–4) were: Care provider = 3.5, Consultant = 3.4, Leader and champion of clinical governance = 3.4, Capacity builder = 3.3, Clinical trainer and supervisor = 3.2 and Champion of community-orientated primary care (COPC) = 3.1. The impact on COPC was significantly less than the impact of other roles (p < 0.05).
The Family Physician Impact Evaluation Tool can be used to measure the impact of family physicians in South Africa. The pilot study shows that the family physicians are having most impact in terms of clinical care and clinical governance, and a lesser impact in terms of clinical training, capacity-building and especially COPC.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0204-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Family practice; Family physicians; Physician’s role; Validation studies; South Africa
Tympanometry and pneumatic otoscopy are recommended for diagnosis of otitis media, but are not frequently used by general practitioners (GPs). We examined how, after targeted short training, GP diagnosis and management of childhood ear disease was changed by the addition of these techniques to non-pneumatic otoscopy. We further explored factors influencing the uptake of these techniques.
Between 2011 and 2012, we used a crossover experimental design to determine associations between tympanometry and pneumatic otoscopy and the GP diagnosis and management of ear disease in children aged 6 months to 6 years. GPs recorded a diagnosis and management plan after examining ears using non-pneumatic otoscopy, and another after using either tympanometry or pneumatic otoscopy. We compared diagnosis, prescription of oral antibiotics and planned GP follow-up at these two steps between the tympanometry and pneumatic otoscopy groups. We interviewed participants about their views regarding these techniques and analysed these data thematically.
Thirteen GPs recorded 694 ear examinations on 347 children: 347 examinations with non-pneumatic otoscopy; then 196 using tympanometry; and 151 using pneumatic otoscopy. Tympanometry was more likely to be associated with changes in diagnosis (χ 2 = 28.64, df 1, p < 0.001) and planned GP follow-up (χ 2 = 9.24, df 1, p < 0.01) than pneumatic otoscopy. Change in oral antibiotic prescription was no different between the two techniques. GPs preferred tympanometry to pneumatic otoscopy, but cost was a barrier to ongoing use. Pneumatic otoscopy was considered the more difficult skill. GPs were not convinced that the increased detection of middle ear effusion afforded by tympanometry and pneumatic otoscopy resulted in benefit to general practice patients.
Tympanometry was more likely than pneumatic otoscopy to change GP diagnoses and follow-up plans of childhood ear disease. Tympanometry may require less training than pneumatic otoscopy. GPs preferred tympanometry due to ease of use and interpretation; however, perceived high cost inhibited their intent to use it in the future. Training, cost and perceived lack of patient benefit are barriers to the use of tympanometry and pneumatic otoscopy in general practice.
Otitis media; Otoscopy; Tympanometry; General practitioners; Diagnosis; Ear diseases
Health care professionals in several countries are searching for alternatives to acute hospitalization. In Hallingdal, Norway, selected acute patients are admitted to a community hospital. The aim of this study was to analyse whether acute admission to a community hospital as an alternative to a general hospital had any positive or negative health consequences for the patients.
Patients intended for acute admission to the local community hospital were asked to join a randomized controlled trial. One group of the enrolled patients was admitted as planned (group 1, n = 33), while another group was admitted to the general hospital (group 2, n = 27). Health outcomes were measured by the Nottingham Extended Activity of Daily Living Questionnaire and by collection of data concerning specialist and community health care services in a follow-up year.
After one year, no statistical significant differences in the level of daily function was found between group 1 (admissions to the community hospital) and group 2 (admissions to the general hospital). Group 1 had recorded fewer in-patient days at hospitals and nursing homes, as well as lower use of home nursing, than group 2. For outpatient referrals, the trend was the opposite. However, the differences between the two groups were not at a 5% level of statistical significance.
No statistical significant differences at a 5% level were found related to health consequences between the two randomized groups. The study however, indicates a consistent trend of health benefits rather than risk from acute admissions to a community hospital, as compared to the general hospital. Emergency admission and treatment at a lower-level facility than the hospital thus appears to be a feasible solution for a selected group of patients.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01069107. Registered 2 April 2010.
Patient admission; Emergency health services; General practitioners; Community hospital; Health care systems; Patient outcome assessments
Health literacy refers to an individual’s ability to engage with health information and services. Cancer caregivers play a vital role in the care of people with cancer, and their capacity to find, understand, appraise and use health information and services influences how effectively they are able to undertake this role. The aim of this study was to develop an instrument to measure health literacy of cancer caregivers.
Content areas for the new instrument were identified from a conceptual model of cancer caregiver health literacy. Item content was guided by statements provided by key stakeholders during consultation activities and selected to be representative across the range of cancer caregiver experiences. Content validity of items was assessed through expert review (n = 7) and cognitive interviews with caregivers (n = 16).
An initial pool of 82 items was generated across 10 domains. Two categories of response options were developed for these items: agreement with statements, and difficulty undertaking presented tasks. Expert review revealed that the majority of items were relevant and clear (Content Validity Index > 0.78). Cognitive interviews with caregivers suggested that all except three items were well understood.
A resultant 88 item questionnaire was developed to assess cancer caregiver health literacy. Further work is required to assess the construct validity and reliability of the new measure, and to remove poorly performing and redundant items, which will result in a shorter, final measure. The new measure has the potential to inform the development and evaluation of interventions and the improvement of health service delivery to cancer caregivers.
Cancer; Caregivers; Health literacy; Information needs; Questionnaire development
In this review study, we are the first to explore whether the practice nurse (PN) can act as case manager lifestyle counselling regarding weight management in primary care.
Multiple electronic databases (MEDLINE, PsycINFO) were searched to identify relevant literature after 1995. Forty-five studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. In addition, all studies were judged on ten quality criteria by two independent reviewers.
Especially in the last three years, many studies have been published. The majority of the studies were positive about PNs’ actual role in primary care. However, several studies dealt with competency issues, including disagreement on respective roles. Thirteen studies were perceived as high quality. Only few studies had a representative sample. PNs’ role in chronic disease management is spreading increasingly into lifestyle counselling. Although PNs have more time to provide lifestyle counselling than general practitioners (GPs), lack of time still remains a barrier. In some countries, PNs were rather ambiguous about their role, and they did not agree with GPs on this.
The PN can play the role of case manager lifestyle counselling regarding weight management in primary care in the UK, and wherever PNs are working under supervision of a GP and a primary health care team is already developed with agreement on roles. In countries in which a primary health care team is still in development and there is no agreement on respective roles, such as the USA, it is still the question whether the PN can play the case manager role.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0197-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Primary care; Systematic review; Obesity; Nutrition education; Communication
Non-specific physical symptoms (NSPS), such as headache and abdominal pain, are common reasons for children to consult primary care. NSPS represent a significant burden not only on society, but also on health care services, through frequent physician consultations and referrals to secondary care. Research evidence suggests a positive relationship between health and consulting behavior of parents and their children, but research on whether repeated physician consultations for NSPS in children is influenced by parental consultations for NSPS is lacking. The aim was to measure the frequency of repeated physician consultations for NSPS in children, and investigate whether this is influenced by maternal consultations for NSPS.
A cohort study of children registered with primary care practices contributing to the Consultation in Primary Care Archive database. Participants were child-mother pairs registered between January 2007 and December 2010. The cohort comprised all children (n = 1437) aged 2 to 16 years who consulted a physician for NSPS in 2009. Mothers’ consultations for NSPS were measured between 2007 and 2008. Main outcome measures were repetition and frequency of consultations for NSPS in children (consultations for NSPS in both 2009 and 2010).
Overall, 27% of children had repeated consultations for NSPS. The three most common repeated consultations were for back pain, constipation and abdominal pain. Exposure to maternal consultation for NSPS was associated with 21% increase in consultation frequency for NSPS (adjusted incidence rate ratio 1.21; 95% CI 1.12, 1.31). After adjusting for child age and maternal age, maternal consultation for NSPS was associated with an increased risk of repeated consultations for NSPS in children (relative risk 1.41; 95% CI 1.16, 1.73). This association was also significant for specific NSPS groups including painful, gastrointestinal, and neurologic symptoms.
Repeated consultation for NSPS is common among children. It is important for primary care physicians and secondary care clinicians, managing children referred from primary care for NSPS, to be aware that consultation for NSPS in mothers is a risk factor for repeated consultations for NSPS among children. More research is needed to uncover exactly how parental health influences health and consulting behavior of children.
Continuity of care is widely acknowledged as important for patients with multi-morbidity but simple, service-orientated indices cannot capture the full impact of continuity in complex care delivery systems. The patient’s perspective is important to assess outcomes fully and this is challenging because generic measures of patient-perceived continuity are lacking. We investigate the Chao Perception of Continuity (Chao PC) scale to determine its suitability as a measure of continuity of care for patients with a long-term condition (stroke), and co-morbidity, in a primary care setting.
Design and Setting: A questionnaire study embedded in a prospective observational cohort study of outcomes for patients following acute stroke.
Participants: 168 community dwelling patients (58% male) mean age 68 years a minimum one year post-stroke. Functional status: Barthel Index mean =16.
Intervention: A 23-item questionnaire, the Chao Perception of Continuity (Chao PC) scale, sent by post to their place of residence or administered face to face as part of the final cohort study assessment.
310 patients were invited to participate; 168 (54%) completed a questionnaire.
All 23 questionnaire items were entered into a Principal Component Analysis. Emergent factors from the exploratory analysis were (1) inter-personal trust (relational continuity); (2) interpersonal knowledge and information (informational and relational continuity) and (3) the process of care (managerial continuity). The strongest of these was inter-personal trust.
The context-specific items in the Chao PC scale are difficult for respondents to interpret in a United Kingdom Primary Care setting resulting in missing data and low response rates. The Chao-PC therefore cannot be recommended for wider application as a general measure of continuity of care without significant modification.
Our findings reflect the acknowledged dimensions of continuity and support the concept of continuity of care as a multi-dimensional construct. We demonstrate the overlapping boundaries across the dimensions in the factor structure derived. Trust and interpersonal knowledge are clearly identified as valuable components of any patient-perceived measure of continuity of care.
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Continuity of care; Primary health care; Long-term conditions; Trust
Patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) commonly present in general practice. They often experience significant disability and have difficulty accessing appropriate care. Many feel frustrated and helpless. Doctors also describe feeling frustrated and helpless when managing these patients. These shared negative feelings can have a detrimental effect on the therapeutic relationship and on clinical outcomes. The aim of this study was to explore how novice and experienced GPs manage patients with MUS and how these skills are taught and learned in GP training.
A constructivist grounded theory study with 24 general practice registrars and supervisors in GP training practices across Australia.
Registrars lacked a framework for managing patients with MUS. Some described negative feelings towards patients that were uncomfortable and confronting. Registrars also were uncertain about their clinical role: where their professional responsibilities began and ended. Supervisors utilised a range of strategies to address the practical, interpersonal and therapeutic challenges associated with the care of these patients.
Negative feelings and a lack of diagnostic language and frameworks may prevent registrars from managing these patients effectively. Some of these negative feelings, such as frustration, shame and helplessness, are shared between doctors and patients. Registrars need assistance to identify and manage these difficult feelings so that consultations are more effective. The care of these patients also raises issues of professional identity, roles and responsibilities. Supervisors can assist their registrars by proactively sharing models of the consultation, strategies for managing their own feelings and frustrations, and ways of understanding and managing the therapeutic relationship in this difficult area of practice.
General practice; Therapeutic relationship; Mental health; Somatoform disorders; Medical education; Consultation dynamics
Currently, there is a strong focus on the diffusion and implementation of indicator-based technologies for assessing and improving the quality of care in general practice. The aim of this study was to explore how and for what purposes indicator-based feedback is used by the general practitioners (GPs) and how they perceive it to contribute to their work.
Qualitative interviews with nine GPs in two regions in Denmark. The main selection criterion was that the informants had experience with retrieving electronic feedback. The data generation was explorative and open-ended and the analysis took an iterative approach with continuous refinement of themes that emerged from the data.
The study identified two main uses of feedback: i) Administration of a regular disease control schedule for patients with chronic disease and ii) Routine monitoring of outcomes for purposes of resource prioritisation and medication management. Both uses were deemed valuable by the GPs, but also as an additional extra to the clinical core task. All the GPs experienced the feedback to be of limited relevance to the most central and challenging aspects of clinical work understood as the care for individuals. This led to different reactions: Some GPs would use the feedback as a point of departure for broader deliberations about individual patient needs and treatment approaches. For others, the perceived limitations decreased their overall motivation to seek feedback.
The study points to the importance of clarifying limitations as well as possibilities with respect to different aspects of clinical quality when introducing indicator-based technologies to practitioners. The results also emphasize that an indicator-based approach to quality improvement should not stand alone in general practice since some of the most central and challenging aspects of clinical work are not covered by this approach.
Denmark; Family practice; Feedback; Quality improvement; Quality indicators; Qualitative research
Improving the quality of care for patients with vascular disease is a priority. Clinical guidance has emphasised the importance of early identification and active management of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in primary care in order to maintain vascular health. However, awareness of stage 3 CKD amongst patients remains limited. We aimed to identify predictors of patient self-report of CKD to inform tailoring of conversations around CKD in primary care for diverse patient populations.
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from 436 patients with stage 3 CKD from 24 GP practices taking part in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) evaluating a complex self-management intervention, which aimed to support the maintenance of vascular health in patients with stage 3 CKD. Potential predictors of patient self-report of CKD included demographics, stage of CKD, cardiovascular risk, self-reported co-morbidities, health status, self-management ability, and health service utilisation.
Around half (52%, n = 227) of patients did not self-report CKD. Self-report rates did not appreciably differ by practice. Multivariate analysis revealed that female patients (p = 0.004), and patients with stage 3b CKD (p < 0.001), and with higher anxiety levels (p < 0.001), were more likely to self-report CKD.
Self-report of kidney problems by patients on CKD registers was variable and patterned by sociodemographic factors. Although it cannot be assumed that failure to self-report indicates a lack of awareness of CKD, our data do suggest the need for greater consistency in discussions around kidney health, with meaningful and relevant clinical dialogue that is aligned with existing clinical encounters to enable shared decision making and minimise anxiety.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0196-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Kidney diseases; Primary health care; Self-report; Awareness; Predictors; Communication; Self-management
The utility of clinical exercise tests depends on their support of treatment decisions. We sought to assess the utility of exercise tests for the selection of primary-care patients for referral to cardiologic care, and to determine whether referral decisions were biased by gender or socioeconomic status. We also evaluated referral rates and cardiovascular events in patients with positive exercise tests.
We designed a prospective observational study of 438 men and 427 women from 28 Swedish primary-care clinics who were examined with exercise testing for suspected coronary disease. All participants were followed-up with respect to cardiologist referrals and cardiovascular events (hospitalisation for unstable angina, myocardial infarction, and cardiovascular death) within six months and revascularisation within 250 days. Variables associated with referral were identified by multivariable logistic regression. Socioeconomic status was determined by educational level and employment.
Positive/inconclusive exercise tests and exertional chest pain predicted referral in men and women. Of 865 participants, patients with positive, inconclusive, or negative exercise tests were referred to cardiologists in 67.3%, 26.1%, and 3.5% of cases, respectively. Overall, there was no significant difference in referral rates related to gender or socioeconomic level. Self-employed women were referred more frequently compared to other women (odds ratio (OR) 3.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19-10.99). Among non-manual employees, women were referred to cardiologic examination less frequently than men (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.16-1.00; p = 0.049; ORs adjusted for age, exertional chest pain, and exercise test result). In patients with positive exercise tests, the referral rate decreased continuously with age (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.23-0.97; adjusted for cardiovascular co-morbidity). Cardiovascular events occurred in 22.2% (4/18) of non-referred patients with positive exercise tests; 56% (10/18) of these patients were not considered for cardiologic care, with continuity problems in primary care as one possible contributing cause.
Exercise tests are important for selecting patients for referral to cardiologic care. Interactions related to gender and socioeconomic status affected referral rates. In patients with positive exercise tests, referral rates decreased with age. An increased awareness of possible bias regarding age, gender, and socioeconomic status, which may influence medical decisions, is therefore necessary.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0182-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Coronary disease; Exercise test; Primary care; Referral
Primary healthcare meets increased demands from an aging population concerning quality and availability while concurrently dealing with a growing shortage of general practitioners and imperfect efficiency in healthcare processes. Reorganization and team development can improve quality and performance but projects in primary care frequently do not attain the targeted results. By developing and introducing a structured patient-sorting system a primary healthcare centre in Western Sweden increased its access rate significantly and employed its medical professionals more efficiently. The aim of this study was to explore staff members’ conceptions of the structured patient-sorting system in order to gain an inside perspective on this project.
In this qualitative study 16 interviews were conducted over a period of two years and data was analysed using a phenomenographic approach to identify the various conceptions of the eleven participants.
Three categories of description were identified: The system was conceptualized as 1) a framework for the development of patient-centred processes that were clear and consistent, 2) a promotor of professional development and a shared ideal of cooperative practice and 3) a common denominator and catalyst in conflict management.
In an overall perspective the system was conceived as being an appropriate platform for promoting transformation into an effective patient-centred primary healthcare team in which organizational development was perceived as a continuous participative process demanding the commitment of all team members.
This study demonstrates that the introduction of a structured patient-sorting system makes it possible for several important change processes to take place concurrently: improvement of healthcare processes, empowerment of professionals and team development. It therefore indicates the importance of an appropriate, contextualized framework to support multiple concomitant quality improvement processes. Knowledge from this study can be used to assist and improve future implementations in primary healthcare centres.
Organizational culture; Quality improvement; Teamwork; Triage; Access; Phenomenography; Primary healthcare
Recruitment to research studies in primary care is challenging despite widespread implementation of electronic patient record (EPR) systems which potentially make it easier to identify eligible cases.
Literature review and applying the learning from a European research readiness assessment tool, the TRANSFoRm International Research Readiness instrument (TIRRE), to the context of the English NHS in order to develop a model to assess a practice’s research readiness.
Seven dimensions of research readiness were identified: (1) Data readiness: Is there good data quality in EPR systems; (2) Record readiness: Are EPR data able to identify eligible cases and other study data; (3) Organisational readiness: Are the health system and socio-cultural environment supportive; (4) Governance readiness: Does the study meet legal and local health system regulatory compliance; (5) Study-specific readiness; (6) Business process readiness: Are business processes tilted in favour of participation: including capacity and capability to take on extra work, financial incentives as well as intangibles such as social and intellectual capital; (7) Patient readiness: Are systems in place to recruit patients and obtain informed consent?
The model might enable the development of interventions to increase participation in primary care-based research and become a tool to measure the progress of practice networks towards the most advanced state of readiness.
General practice; Research; Medical records systems, computerised; Data collection; Patient selection
The prevalence of coexisting chronic conditions (multimorbidity) is rising. Disease labels, however, give little information about impact on subjective health and personal illness experience. We aim to examine the strength of association of single and multimorbid physical chronic diseases with self-rated health in a middle-aged and older population in England, and to determine whether any association is mediated by depression and other psychosocial factors.
25 268 individuals aged 39 to 79 years recruited from general practice registers in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC-Norfolk) study, completed a survey including self-rated health, psychosocial function and presence of common physical chronic conditions (cancer, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, asthma/bronchitis and arthritis). Logistic regression models determined odds of “moderate/poor” compared to “good/excellent” health by condition and number of conditions adjusting for psychosocial measures.
One-third (8252) reported one, around 7.5% (1899) two, and around 1% (194) three or more conditions. Odds of “moderate/poor” self-rated health worsened with increasing number of conditions (one (OR = 1.3(1.2–1.4)) versus three or more (OR = 3.4(2.3–5.1)), and were highest where there was comorbidity with stroke (OR = 8.7(4.6–16.7)) or heart attack (OR = 8.5(5.3–13.6)). Psychosocial measures did not explain the association between chronic diseases and multimorbidity with self-rated health.The relationship of multimorbidity with self-rated health was particularly strong in men compared to women (three or more conditions: men (OR = 5.2(3.0–8.9)), women OR = 2.1(1.1–3.9)).
Self-rated health provides a simple, integrative patient-centred assessment for evaluation of illness in the context of multiple chronic disease diagnoses. Those registering in general practice in particular men with three or more diseases or those with cardiovascular comorbidities and with poorer self-rated health may warrant further assessment and intervention to improve their physical and subjective health.
General practice/family medicine; General integrated subjective health multimorbidity comorbidity
Age, gender and socioeconomic status have been shown to be associated with the use of prescription drugs, even after adjustment for multimorbidity. General practitioners have a holistic and patient-centred perspective and our hypothesis is that this may reflect on the prescription of drugs. In Sweden the patient may seek secondary care without a letter of referral and the liability of the prescription of drugs accompanies the patient, which makes it suitable for this type of research. In this study we examine the odds of having prescription drug use in the population and the rates of prescription drugs among patients, issued in primary health care, according to age, gender and socioeconomic status after adjustment for multimorbidity level.
Data were collected on all individuals above 20 years of age in Östergötland county with about 400 000 inhabitants in year 2006. The John Hopkins ACG Case-mix was used as a proxy for multimorbidity level. Odds ratio (OR) of having prescription drugs issued in primary health care in the population and rates of prescription drug use among patients in primary health care, stated as incidence rate ratio (IRR), according to age, gender and socioeconomic status were calculated and adjusted for multimorbidity.
After adjustment for multimorbidity, individuals 80 years or older had higher odds ratio (OR 3.37 (CI 95% 3.22-3.52)) and incidence rate ratio (IRR 6.24 (CI 95% 5.79-6.72)) for prescription drug use. Male individuals had a lower odds ratio of having prescription drugs (OR 0.66 (CI 95% 0.64-0.69)), but among patients males had a slightly higher incidence rate of drug use (IRR 1.06 (CI 95% 1.04-1.09)). Individuals with the highest income had the lowest odds ratio of having prescription drugs and individuals with the second lowest income had the highest odds ratio of having prescription drugs (OR 1.10 (CI 95% 1.07-1.13)). Individuals with the highest education had the lowest odds ratio of having prescription drugs (OR 0.61 (CI 95% 0.54-0.67)).
Age, gender and socioeconomic status are associated with large differences in the use of prescribed drugs in primary health care, even after adjustment for multimorbidity level.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0183-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Prescription drug; Pharmacological treatment; Primary health care; General practitioner; Multimorbidity; Case-mix; Gender; Age; Income; Education; Socioeconomic status
Nutrition screening in older adults is not routinely performed in Australian primary care settings. Low awareness of the extent of malnutrition in this patient group, lack of training and time constraints are major barriers that practice staff face. This study aimed to demonstrate the feasibility of including a validated nutrition screening tool and accompanying nutrition resource kit for use with older patients attending general practice. Secondary aims were to assess nutrition-related knowledge of staff and to identify the extent of malnutrition in this patient group.
Nine general practitioners, two general practice registrars and 11 practice nurses from three participating general practices in a rural, regional and metropolitan area within a local health district of New South Wales, Australia were recruited by convenience sampling.
Individual in-depth interviews, open-ended questionnaires and an 11-item knowledge questionnaire were completed three months following in-practice group workshops on the Mini Nutritional Assessment Short Form (MNA-SF). Staff were encouraged to complete the MNA-SF within the Medicare-funded 75+ Health Assessment within this time period. Staff interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically using qualitative analysis software QSR NVivo 10.
Four key themes were determined regarding the feasibility of performing MNA –SF: ease of use; incorporation into existing practice; benefit to patients’ health; and patients’ perception of MNA-SF. Two key themes related to the nutrition resource kit: applicability and improvement. These findings were supported by open ended questionnaire responses. Knowledge scores of staff significantly improved from baseline (52% to 66%; P < 0.05). Of the 143 patients that had been screened, 4.2% (n = 6) were classified as malnourished, 26.6% (n = 38) ‘at risk’ of malnutrition and 69.2% (n = 99) as well-nourished.
It is feasible to include the MNA-SF and a nutrition resource kit within routine general practice, but further refinement of patients’ electronic clinical records in general practice software would streamline this process.
Malnutrition; Older adults; Nutrition screening; Training; Feasibility
Two interesting health care trends are currently occurring: 1) patient-facing technologies, such as personal health records, patient portals, and mobile health apps, are being adopted at rapid rates, and 2) primary care, which includes family practice, is being promoted as essential to reducing health care costs and improving health care outcomes. While these trends are notable and commendable, both remain subject to significant fragmentation and incentive misalignments, which has resulted in significant data coordination and value generation challenges. In particular, patient-facing technologies designed to increase care coordination, often fall prey to the very digital fragmentation issues they are supposed to overcome. Additionally, primary care providers are treating patients that may have considerable health information histories, but generating a single view of such multi-source data is nearly impossible.
We contribute to this debate by proposing that primary care practices become digital health information hubs for their patients. Such hubs would offer health data coordination in a medically professional setting with the benefits of expert, trustworthy advice coupled with active patient engagement. We acknowledge challenges including: costs, information quality and provenance, willingness-to-share information and records, willingness-to-use (by both providers and patients), primary care scope creep, and determinations of technical and process effectiveness. Even with such potential challenges, we strongly believe that more debate is needed on this topic prior to full implementation of various health information technology incentives and reform programs currently being designed and enacted throughout the world. Ultimately, if we do not provide a meaningful way for the full spectrum of health information to be used by both providers and patients, especially early in the health care continuum, effectively improving health outcomes may remain elusive.
We view the primary care practice as a central component of digital information coordination, especially when considering the current challenges of digital health information fragmentation. Given these fragmentation issues and the emphasis on primary care as central to improving health and lower overall health care costs, we suggest that primary care practices should embrace their evolving role and should seek to become digital health information hubs for their patients.
Primary care; Patient-facing technologies; Health information hubs
In a recent study comparing psychosocial consultations prior to and after the implementation of national clinical guidelines in the Netherlands, we found that general practitioners (GPs) showed less empathy in the more recent consultations. As a consequence, patients possibly have less scope to express their worries. The objective is to investigate whether patients have become more reluctant to open up about their concerns during psychosocial consultations and how GPs respond.
Consultations from previous study samples videotaped between 1977 and 2008 and categorized by GPs as ‘completely psychosocial’ were selected for the present study. These consultations were observed using the Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences (VR-CoDES) to capture cues and concerns expressed by patients and GPs’ immediate responses. We compared consultations prior to (N = 121) and after (N = 391) introduction of national clinical guidelines in the 1990s.
In 92% of the consultations, patients presented at least one worry. These were most often expressed implicitly. However, the proportion of consultations containing at least one explicit concern changed from 24% to 37% over time. The increased number of expressed cues and concerns was partly explained by a change in GP characteristics; the latter sample contained more female and more experienced GPs. Furthermore, cues and concerns were more often expressed during later phases of consultations in recent years.
Our study shows that patients have become somewhat more explicit in expressing their worries. However, GPs need to be aware that, still, most worries are expressed implicitly and that new concerns may appear towards the end of consultations.
Doctor-patient relations; General practice; Cues; Empathy; Psychosocial factors
Urinary tract infections (UTI) are the most frequent bacterial infection affecting women and account for about 15% of antibiotics prescribed in primary care. However, some women with a UTI are not prescribed antibiotics or are prescribed the wrong antibiotics, while many women who do not have a microbiologically confirmed UTI are prescribed antibiotics. Inappropriate antibiotic prescribing unnecessarily increases the risk of side effects and the development of antibiotic resistance, and wastes resources.
POETIC is a randomised controlled trial of a Point Of Care Test (POCT) (Flexicult™) guided UTI management strategy for use in primary care, which may help General Practitioners more effectively decide both whether or not to prescribe antibiotics, and if so, to select the most appropriate antibiotic.
614 adult female patients will be recruited from four primary care research networks (Wales, England, Spain, the Netherlands) and individually randomised to either POCT guided care or the guideline-informed ‘standard care’ arm. Urine and stool samples (where possible) will be obtained at presentation (day 1) and two weeks later for microbiological analysis. All participants will be followed up on the course of their illness and their quality of life, using a 2 week self-completed symptom diary. At 3 months, a primary care notes review will be conducted for evidence of further evidence of treatment failures, recurrence, complications, hospitalisations and health service costs.
The primary objective is to compare appropriate antibiotic use on day 3 between the POCT and standard care arms using multi-level logistic regression to produce an odds ratio and associated 95% confidence interval. Costs of the two management approaches will be assessed in terms of the primary outcome.
Although the Flexicult™ POCT is used in some countries in routine primary care, it’s clinical and cost effectiveness has never been evaluated in a randomised clinical trial. If shown to be effective, the use of this POCT could benefit individual sufferers and provide evidence for health care authorities to develop evidence based policies to combat the spread and impact of the unprecedented rise of infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria in Europe.
Trial registration number
ISRCTN65200697 (Registered 10 September 2013).
Urinary Tract Infection; Primary care; Adult women; Point-of-care-test; Near-patient testing; Antibiotic resistance; Cost effectiveness
Fatigue is a common yet difficult to treat condition in primary care. The objective of this study is to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a brief cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) based fatigue self-management (FSM) intervention as compared to usual care among patients with chronic fatigue in primary care.
An economic evaluation alongside of a parallel randomized controlled study design was used. Computer-generated variable-sized block randomization plan was used to assign patients into treatment groups and data collection staff were blinded to group assignments. Patients aged between 18 and 65 years with at least six months of persistent fatigue and no medical or psychiatric exclusions were enrolled from a large primary care practice in Stony Brook, New York. The FSM group (n = 37) received two sessions of a nurse-delivered, fatigue self-management protocol and a self-help book and the usual care group (n = 36) received regular medical care. The effectiveness measure was the Fatigue Severity Scale and the cost measure was total health care expenditures derived from monthly health services use diaries during follow-up. A societal perspective was adopted and bootstrapped incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) and net monetary benefit (NMB) were calculated as measures of cost-effectiveness.
The ICER for FSM was -$$2358, indicating that FSM dominates UC and it may generate societal cost savings as compared to usual care. Complete case analysis yielded smaller ICER (−$1199) with greater uncertainties. Net monetary benefit analysis showed that FSM has a probability of 0.833 (95% CI: 0.819, 0.847) to achieve positive NMB and the favorable results were not sensitive to assumptions about informal care or treatment costs.
This economic evaluation found initial evidence that a two-session brief CBT-based FSM may be cost-effective as compared to usual care over 12 months. The FSM intervention is potentially a promising intervention for chronic fatigue patients in primary care. Additional research is needed to examine the reproducibility and generalizability of these findings.
ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00997451, March 28, 2009).
Cognitive behavioral therapy; Cost-effectiveness; Fatigue