The purpose of this research is to develop and evaluate methods for conducting pragmatic cluster randomized trials in a primary care electronic database. The proposal describes one application, in a less frequent chronic condition of public health importance, secondary prevention of stroke. A related protocol in antibiotic prescribing was reported previously.
The study aims to implement a cluster randomized trial (CRT) using the electronic patient records of the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) as a sampling frame and data source. The specific objective of the trial is to evaluate the effectiveness of a computer-delivered intervention at enhancing the delivery of stroke secondary prevention in primary care. GPRD family practices will be allocated to the intervention or usual care. The intervention promotes the use of electronic prompts to support adherence with the recommendations of the UK Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party and NICE guidelines for the secondary prevention of stroke in primary care. Primary outcome measure will be the difference in systolic blood pressure between intervention and control trial arms at 12-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes will be differences in serum cholesterol, prescribing of antihypertensive drugs, statins, and antiplatelet therapy. The intervention will continue for 12 months. Information on the utilization of the decision-support tools will also be analyzed.
The CRT will investigate the effectiveness of using a computer-delivered intervention to reduce the risk of stroke recurrence following a first stroke event. The study will provide methodological guidance on the implementation of CRTs in electronic databases in primary care.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN35701810
Clinical trials; Cluster analysis; Electronic health records; Feasibility studies; Stroke; Secondary prevention
Community studies reveal people with coronary heart disease (CHD) are twice as likely to be depressed as the general population and that this co-morbidity negatively affects the course and outcome of both conditions. There is evidence for the efficacy of collaborative care and case management for depression treatment, and whilst NICE guidelines recommend these approaches only where depression has not responded to psychological, pharmacological, or combined treatments, these care approaches may be particularly relevant to the needs of people with CHD and depression in the earlier stages of stepped care in primary care settings.
This pilot randomised controlled trial will evaluate whether a simple intervention involving a personalised care plan, elements of case management and regular telephone review is a feasible and acceptable intervention that leads to better mental and physical health outcomes for these patients. The comparator group will be usual general practitioner (GP) care.
81 participants have been recruited from CHD registers of 15 South London general practices. Eligible participants have probable major depression identified by a score of ≥8 on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale depression subscale (HADS-D) together with symptomatic CHD identified using the Modified Rose Angina Questionnaire.
Consenting participants are randomly allocated to usual care or the personalised care intervention which involves a comprehensive assessment of each participant’s physical and mental health needs which are documented in a care plan, followed by regular telephone reviews by the case manager over a 6-month period. At each review, the intervention participant’s mood, function and identified problems are reviewed and the case manager uses evidence based behaviour change techniques to facilitate achievement of goals specified by the patient with the aim of increasing the patient’s self efficacy to solve their problems.
Depressive symptoms measured by HADS score will be collected at baseline and 1, 6- and 12 months post randomisation. Other outcomes include CHD symptoms, quality of life, wellbeing and health service utilisation.
This practical and patient-focused intervention is potentially an effective and accessible approach to the health and social care needs of people with depression and CHD in primary care.
Child and adolescent mental health problems are common in primary healthcare settings. However, few parents of children with mental health problems express concerns about these problems during consultations. Based on parental views, we aimed to create quality of care measures for child and adolescent mental health in primary care and develop consensus about the importance of these quality standards within primary care.
Quality Standards were developed using an iterative approach involving four phases: 1) 34 parents with concerns about their child’s emotional health or behaviour were recruited from a range of community settings including primary care practices to participate in focus group discussions, followed by validation groups or interviews. 2) Preliminary Quality Standards were generated that fully represented the parents’ experiences and were refined following feedback from an expert parent nominal group. 3) 55 experts, including parents and representatives from voluntary organisations, across five panels participated in a modified two-stage Delphi study to develop consensus on the importance of the Quality Standards. The panels comprised general practitioners, other community-based professionals, child and adolescent psychiatrists, other child and adolescent mental health professionals and public health and policy specialists. 4) The final set of Quality Standards was piloted with 52 parents in primary care.
In the Delphi process, all five panels agreed that 10 of 31 Quality Standards were important. Although four panels rated 25–27 statements as important, the general practitioner panel rated 12 as important. The final 10 Quality Standards reflected healthcare domains involving access, confidentiality for young people, practitioner knowledge, communication, continuity of care, and referral to other services. Parents in primary care agreed that all 10 statements were important.
It is feasible to develop a set of Quality Standards to assess mental healthcare provision for children and adolescents seen within primary healthcare services. Primary care practitioners should be aware of parental perspectives about quality of care as these may influence help-seeking behaviours.
Epilepsy is an important cause of amenable mortality but risk factors for death in epilepsy are not well understood.
To evaluate trends in epilepsy mortality in a large population and identify risk factors for death in epilepsy.
Design and setting
Nested case–control study in the UK, using data from the General Practice Research Database (GPRD) from 1993 to 2007.
Participants were included if they had ever been diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed anticonvulsant drugs. Trends in all-cause mortality in persons with epilepsy in the GPRD were compared with death registrations with epilepsy as the underlying cause. A nested case–control study was implemented to compare participants with epilepsy who died with those who did not die.
The prevalence of epilepsy increased from 9 per 1000 in 1993 to 12 per 1000 in 2007, and epilepsy deaths also increased in this period. In a nested case–control study, mortality was associated with: recorded alcohol problems (odds ratio [OR] 2.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.25 to 3.89, P<0.001); having collected the last anticonvulsant prescription 90–182 days previously (OR 1.83, CI = 1.66 to 2.03, P<0.001); having an injury in the previous year (OR 1.41, 95% CI = 1.30 to 1.53, P<0.001), and having been treated for depression (OR 1.39, 95% CI = 1.28 to 1.50, P<0.001). In data available from 2004 onwards, being recorded seizure free in the previous 12 months was associated with lower mortality (OR 0.78, 95% CI = 0.71 to 0.86, P<0.001).
Mortality with epilepsy appears to be increasing. Patients who have alcohol problems, do not collect repeat prescriptions for anticonvulsant drugs, have recent injuries, or have been treated for depression may be at increased risk of death; patients who remain seizure free over 12 months are at a lower risk.
cohort study; epilepsy mortality; epilepsy prevalence; nested case-control study; primary care
High blood pressure is the single most important risk factor worldwide for the development of cardiovascular disease, and has been shown to affect some ethnic minority groups disproportionately.
To explore ethnic inequalities in blood pressure monitoring and control.
Data from Lambeth DataNet was used, based on case records from GP practices in one inner-city London borough. Blood pressure monitoring and control was compared using Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) targets for patients with: diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease. The study controlled for age, sex, social deprivation, and clustering within GP practices.
A total of 16 613 patients met the study criteria, with 5962 categorised as black/black British. Blood pressure monitoring was similar across ethnic groups and as good, if not better, for black patients compared to white. However, marked ethnic inequalities in blood pressure control were found, with black patients significantly less likely to achieve QOF targets than their white counterparts (odds ratio [OR] 0.73; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.64 to 0.82). Further inequalities were revealed in blood pressure control within disease groups and ethnic subgroups. In particular, blood pressure control was poor in African patients with diabetes (OR 0.63; 95% CI = 0.50 to 0.79) and Caribbean patients with coronary heart disease (OR 0.53; 95% CI = 0.37 to 0.77) when compared with white patients.
While black patients with chronic conditions are equally likely to have their blood pressure monitored, their blood pressure control is consistently poorer than that of their white counterparts. This may have important implications for cardiovascular risk management in black patients.
ethnicity/race; inequalities; health care; hypertension
Psychological outcome measures are evolving into measures that depict progress over time. Interval measurement during therapy has not previously been reported for a patient-generated measure in primary care. We aimed to determine the sensitivity to change throughout therapy, using ‘PSYCHLOPS’ (Psychological Outcome Profiles), and to determine if new problems appearing during therapy diminish overall improvement.
Responses to PSYCHLOPS, pre-, during- and post-therapy were compared. Setting: patients offered brief cognitive behaviour therapy in primary care in Poland.
238 patients completed the pre-therapy questionnaire, 194 (81.5%) the during-therapy questionnaire and 142 the post-therapy questionnaire (59.7%). For those completing all three questionnaires (n = 135), improvement in total scores produced an overall Effect Size of 3.1 (2.7 to 3.4). We estimated change using three methods for dealing with missing values. Single and multiple imputation did not significantly change the Effect Size; ‘Last Value Carried Forward’, the most conservative method, produced an overall Effect Size of 2.3 (1.9 to 2.6). New problems during therapy were reported by 81 patients (60.0%): new problem and original problem scores were of similar magnitude and change scores were not significantly different when compared to patients who did not report new problems.
A large proportion of outcome data is lost when outcome measures depend upon completed end of therapy questionnaires. The use of a during-therapy measure increases data capture. Missing data still produce difficulties in interpreting overall effect sizes for change. We found no evidence that new problems appearing during therapy hampered overall recovery.
Background and Objectives
Asthma and depression are common health problems in primary care. Evidence of a relationship between asthma and depression is conflicting. Objectives: to determine 1. The incidence rate and incidence rate ratio of depression in primary care patients with asthma compared to those without asthma, and 2. The standardized mortality ratio of depressed compared to non-depressed patients with asthma.
A historical cohort and nested case control study using data derived from the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database. Participants: 11,275 incident cases of asthma recorded between 1/1/95 and 31/12/96 age, sex and practice matched with non-cases from the database (ratio 1∶1) and followed up through the database for 10 years. 1,660 cases were matched by date of asthma diagnosis with 1,660 controls. Main outcome measures: number of cases diagnosed with depression, the number of deaths over the study period.
The rate of depression in patients with asthma was 22.4/1,000 person years and without asthma 13.8 /1,000 person years. The incident rate ratio (adjusted for age, sex, practice, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, smoking) was 1.59 (95% CI 1.48–1.71). The increased rate of depression was not associated with asthma severity or oral corticosteroid use. It was associated with the number of consultations (odds ratio per visit 1.09; 95% CI 1.07–1.11). The age and sex adjusted standardized mortality ratio for depressed patients with asthma was 1.87 (95% CI: 1.54–2.27).
Asthma is associated with depression. This was not related to asthma severity or oral corticosteroid use but was related to service use. This suggests that a diagnosis of depression is related to health seeking behavior in patients with asthma. There is an increased mortality rate in depressed patients with asthma. The cause of this needs further exploration. Consideration should be given to case-finding for depression in this population.
Coronary heart disease and depression are both common health problems and by 2020 will be the two leading causes of disability worldwide. Depression has been found to be more common in patients with coronary heart disease but the nature of this relationship is uncertain. In the United Kingdom general practitioners are now being remunerated for case-finding for depression in patients with coronary heart disease, however it is unclear how general practitioners should manage these patients. We aim to explore the relationship between coronary heart disease and depression in a primary care population and to develop an intervention for patients with coronary heart disease and depression.
This programme of research will consist of 4 inter-related studies. A 4 year prospective cohort study of primary care patients with coronary heart disease will be conducted to explore the relationship between coronary heart disease and depression. Within this, a nested case-control biological study will investigate genetic and blood-biomarkers as predictors of depression in this sample. Two qualitative studies, one of patients' perspectives of treatments for coronary heart disease and co-morbid depression and one of primary care professionals' views on the management of patients with coronary heart disease and depression will inform the development of an intervention for this patient group. A feasibility study for a randomised controlled trial will then be conducted.
This study will provide information on the relationship between coronary heart disease and depression that will allow health services to determine the efficiency of case-finding for depression in this patient group. The results of the cohort study will also provide information on risk factors for depression. The study will provide evidence on the efficacy and feasibility of a joint patient and professional led intervention and data necessary to plan a definitive randomised controlled trial of the intervention.
The purpose of this research is to develop and evaluate methods for conducting cluster randomised trials in a primary care database that contains electronic patient records for large numbers of family practices. Cluster randomised trials are trials in which the units allocated represent groups of individuals, in this case family practices and their registered patients. Cluster randomised trials often suffer from the limitation that they include too few clusters, leading to problems of insufficient power and only imprecise estimation of the intraclass correlation coefficient, a key design parameter. This difficulty might be overcome by utilising databases that already hold electronic patient records for large numbers of practices. The protocol describes one application: a study of antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory infection; a second protocol outlines an intervention in a less frequent chronic condition of public health importance, stroke.
The objective of the study is to implement a cluster randomised trial to test the effectiveness of an electronic record-based intervention at achieving a reduction in antibiotic prescribing at consultations for respiratory illness in patients aged 18 and 59 years old in intervention family practices as compared with controls. Family practices will be recruited from the practices that presently contribute data to the UK General Practice Research Database (GPRD). Following randomisation, electronic prompts will be installed remotely at intervention practices to promote adherence with evidence-based standards of medical practice. The intervention was developed through qualitative research at non-intervention practices. Data for outcome assessment will be obtained from anonymised electronic patient records that are routinely collected into GPRD. This protocol outlines the proposed study designs, data sources, sample size requirements, analysis methods and dissemination plans. Ethical issues are also discussed.
Results from this study will provide methodological evidence concerning the use of electronic patient records and databases for implementing cluster randomised trials in primary care. The study will also provide substantive findings in respect of electronic record-based interventions to reduce antibiotic prescribing in primary care.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN 47558792.
Referrals for psychological treatment have been problematic for many years. Even though GPs have attempted to limit access into the small psychological treatment services, long waiting lists have developed which have deterred referrals and deferred psychological care. GPs have understandably been frustrated. In addition, the consultation rate for psychological problems is low when compared with the rate of identified mental health problems in population surveys. Possible reasons include patients' failure to recognise the problem as psychological and thus not consulting one's GP, and/or the problem not being detected by the GP. While a self-referral system may be seen as a way of trying to allow non-consulters to receive treatment, this has been viewed with some scepticism since it may allow the ‘worried well’ to access already limited services. However, a study has shown that those self-referring to advertised psychological workshops had high levels of psychological morbidity and also were more representative of the population, in terms of ethnicity, than GP referrals. The government has set up the Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme to address some of the service shortfalls by expanding the provision of psychological therapists. Notably, the IAPT programme is allowing self-referrals such that any member of the public can access the service directly, bypassing general practice. Although not available at all the sites, this represents a radical shift from the present system in which access to talking therapy is generally only available through direct referral by the GP. The implications of this new development are discussed.
access; psychological therapy; self-referral
This study aimed to inform the design of a pragmatic trial of stroke prevention in primary care by evaluating data recorded in electronic patient records (EPRs) as potential outcome measures. The study also evaluated achievement of recommended standards of care; variation between family practices; and changes in risk factor values from before to after stroke.
Data from the UK General Practice Research Database (GPRD) were analysed for 22,730 participants with an index first stroke between 2003 and 2006 from 414 family practices. For each subject, the EPR was evaluated for the 12 months before and after stroke. Measures relevant to stroke secondary prevention were analysed including blood pressure (BP), cholesterol, smoking, alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), atrial fibrillation, utilisation of antihypertensive, antiplatelet and cholesterol lowering drugs. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) were estimated by family practice. Random effects models were fitted to evaluate changes in risk factor values over time.
In the 12 months following stroke, BP was recorded for 90%, cholesterol for 70% and body mass index (BMI) for 47%. ICCs by family practice ranged from 0.02 for BP and BMI to 0.05 for LDL and HDL cholesterol. For subjects with records available both before and after stroke, the mean reductions from before to after stroke were: mean systolic BP, 6.02 mm Hg; diastolic BP, 2.78 mm Hg; total cholesterol, 0.60 mmol/l; BMI, 0.34 Kg/m2. There was an absolute reduction in smokers of 5% and heavy drinkers of 4%. The proportion of stroke patients within the recommended guidelines varied from less than a third (29%) for systolic BP, just over half for BMI (54%), and over 90% (92%) on alcohol consumption.
Electronic patient records have potential for evaluation of outcomes in pragmatic trials of stroke secondary prevention. Stroke prevention interventions in primary care remain suboptimal but important reductions in vascular risk factor values were observed following stroke. Better recording of lifestyle factors in the GPRD has the potential to expand the scope of the GPRD for health care research and practice.
In many UK general practices, nurses have been used to deliver results against the indicators of the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF), a ‘pay for performance’ scheme.
To determine the association between the level of nurse staffing in general practice and the quality of clinical care as measured by the QOF.
Design of the study
Cross-sectional analysis of routine data.
English general practice in 2005/2006.
QOF data from 7456 general practices were linked with a database of practice characteristics, nurse staffing data, and census-derived data on population characteristics and measures of population density. Multi-level modelling explored the relationship between QOF performance and the number of patients per full-time equivalent nurse. The outcome measures were achievement of quality of care for eight clinical domains as rated by the QOF, and reported achievement of 10 clinical outcome indicators derived from it.
A high level of nurse staffing (fewer patients per full-time equivalent practice-employed nurse) was significantly associated with better performance in 4/8 clinical domains of the QOF (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, P = 0.004 to P<0.001) and in 4/10 clinical outcome indicators (diabetes: glycosylated haemoglobin [HbA1C] ≤7.4%, HbA1C ≤10% and total cholesterol ≤193 mg/dl; and stroke: total cholesterol ≤5 mmol/L, P = 0.0057 to P<0.001).
Practices that employ more nurses perform better in a number of clinical domains measured by the QOF. This improved performance includes better intermediate clinical outcomes, suggesting real patient benefit may be associated with using nurses to deliver care to meet QOF targets.
cross-sectional studies; family practice; health care; incentive; nursing staff; personnel staffing and scheduling; physician incentive plans; quality indicators; quality of health care; reimbursement
Non-adherence to clinical guidelines has been identified as a consistent finding in general practice. The purpose of this study was to develop theory-informed, computer-delivered interventions to promote the implementation of guidelines in general practice. Specifically, our aim was to develop computer-delivered prompts to promote guideline adherence for antibiotic prescribing in respiratory tract infections (RTIs), and adherence to recommendations for secondary stroke prevention.
A qualitative design was used involving 33 face-to-face interviews with general practitioners (GPs). The prompts used in the interventions were initially developed using aspects of social cognitive theory, drawing on nationally recommended standards for clinical content. The prompts were then presented to GPs during interviews, and iteratively modified and refined based on interview feedback. Inductive thematic analysis was employed to identify responses to the prompts and factors involved in the decision to use them.
GPs reported being more likely to use the prompts if they were perceived as offering support and choice, but less likely to use them if they were perceived as being a method of enforcement. Attitudes towards using the prompts were also related to anticipated patient outcomes, individual prescriber differences, accessibility and presentation of prompts and acceptability of guidelines. Comments on the prompts were largely positive after modifying them based on participant feedback.
Acceptability and satisfaction with computer-delivered prompts to follow guidelines may be increased by working with practitioners to ensure that the prompts will be perceived as valuable tools that can support GPs' practice.
Substantial variation in antibiotic prescribing rates between general practices persists, but remains unexplained at national level.
To establish the degree of variation in antibiotic prescribing between practices in England and identify the characteristics of practices that prescribe higher volumes of antibiotics.
Design of study
8057 general practices in England.
A dataset was constructed containing data on standardised antibiotic prescribing volumes, practice characteristics, patient morbidity, ethnicity, social deprivation, and Quality and Outcomes Framework achievement (2004–2005). Data were analysed using multiple regression modelling.
There was a twofold difference in standardised antibiotic prescribing volumes between practices in the 10th and 90th centiles of the sample (0.48 versus 0.95 antibiotic prescriptions per antibiotic STAR-PU [Specific Therapeutic group Age-sex weightings-Related Prescribing Unit]). A regression model containing nine variables explained 17.2% of the variance in antibiotic prescribing. Practice location in the north of England was the strongest predictor of high antibiotic prescribing. Practices serving populations with greater morbidity and a higher proportion of white patients prescribed more antibiotics, as did practices with shorter appointments, non-training practices, and practices with higher proportions of GPs who were male, >45 years of age, and qualified outside the UK.
Practice and practice population characteristics explained about one-sixth of the variation in antibiotic prescribing nationally. Consultation-level and qualitative studies are needed to help further explain these findings and improve our understanding of this variation.
antibiotics; prescriptions; primary care
Wide variations in anxiolytic and hypnotic prescribing by GPs in England have been described, but are largely unexplained.
To examine the relationships between the volume of anxiolytics and hypnotics prescribed by GPs and their practice characteristics, population demography, and performance indicators.
Design of study
All general practices in England.
A dataset was constructed for 8469 (98.8%) general practices including: standardised prescribing volume data for anxiolytics and hypnotics (average daily quantities per 1000 STAR-PUs [Specific Therapeutic group Age-sex weightings Related Prescribing Units]), practice descriptors, Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004, ethnicity data (2001 UK Census), and Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) data.
The standardised volume of anxiolytics and hypnotics prescribed varied eightfold between practices on the 5th and 95th centiles. A regression model was constructed which explained 20.5% of the variation. Higher prescribing practices were located in more deprived areas (standardised β 0.31), but also in areas with a lower proportion of ethnic minorities (black or black British = −0.22; Asian or Asian British = −0.12). Higher volumes were also prescribed by practices with lower QOF scores (‘Clinical Care’ domain = −0.12; ‘Organisational’ domain = −0.08). Other significant but weaker predictors were: lower proportions of female GPs, higher recorded prevalence of serious mental illness and non-training status. The proportion of GPs trained outside UK was not a predictor.
Demographic factors were more powerful determinants of prescribing than characteristics of the practice itself. Nevertheless, the findings provide some support for the notion that high prescribing practices were less well developed, in that their QOF scores were lower and they were less likely to be training practices.
anxiolytics; general practice; hypnotics; prescribing
We aimed to determine whether family practices' achievement of diabetes quality of care targets is associated with diabetic retinal disease in registered patients.
Data for achievement of diabetes quality of care targets, including the proportion of patients with HbA1c≤7.5%, for 144 family practices in London UK, for the years 2004/5 to 2007/8, were linked to data from a population-based diabetes eye screening programme collected from September 2007 to February 2009. Analyses were adjusted for age, sex, duration and type of diabetes, unadjusted diabetes prevalence, ethnicity and deprivation category.
Data were analysed for 24,458 participants with one or more eye screening results in the period. There were 9,332 (38%) with any diabetic retinopathy and 2,819 (11.5%) with sight threatening diabetic retinopathy (STDR), including 2,654 (10.9%) with maculopathy. Among participants registered at 13 family practices that were in the highest quartile for achievement of the HbA1c quality of care target for all four years of study, the relative odds of any diabetic retinopathy were 0.78 (0.69 to 0.88) P<0.001. For participants at 12 practices consistently in the lowest quartile of HbA1c achievement, the relative odds of any diabetic retinopathy were 1.16 (1.03 to 1.30), P = 0.015. In the highest achieving practices, the relative odds of maculopathy were 0.74 (0.62 to 0.89), P = 0.001 and STDR 0.77 (0.65 to 0.92), P = 0.004.
The risk of diabetic retinopathy might be lower at family practices that consistently achieve highly on diabetes quality of care targets for HbA1c.
OBJECTIVE—To evaluate diabetes outcomes under a national “pay-for-performance” program.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Data were analyzed for 98% of all English family practices. For each practice, the proportion of diabetic subjects with A1C ≤7.5%, blood pressure ≤145/85 mmHg, and cholesterol ≤5 mmol/l was determined. Practices achieving less than the 25th centile for the A1C target for 2006–2007 were classified as low performing.
RESULTS—The proportion achieving the A1C target at the median practice increased from 59.1% (interquartile range [IQR] 51.7–65.9) in 2004–2005 to 66.7% (IQR 60.6–72.7) in 2007–2008, blood pressure from 70.9% in 2004–2005 to 80.2% in 2007–2008, and cholesterol from 72.6% in 2004–2005 to 83.6% in 2007–2008. In 2004–2005, 57% of practices were low performing (range by region 42.4–69.9). In 2007–2008, 26% of practices were low performing (range 11.6–37.5).
CONCLUSIONS—Introduction of pay-for-performance may be one factor contributing to increasing achievement of targets and reducing problems of low performance.
Electronic patient records from primary care databases are increasingly used in public health and health services research but methods used to identify cases with disease are not well described. This study aimed to evaluate the relevance of different codes for the identification of acute stroke in a primary care database, and to evaluate trends in the use of different codes over time.
Data were obtained from the General Practice Research Database from 1997 to 2006. All subjects had a minimum of 24 months of up-to-standard record before the first recorded stroke diagnosis. Initially, we identified stroke cases using a supplemented version of the set of codes for prevalent stroke used by the Office for National Statistics in Key health statistics from general practice 1998 (ONS codes). The ONS codes were then independently reviewed by four raters and a restricted set of 121 codes for ‘acute stroke’ was identified but the kappa statistic was low at 0.23.
Initial extraction of data using the ONS codes gave 48,239 cases of stroke from 1997 to 2006. Application of the restricted set of codes reduced this to 39,424 cases. There were 2,288 cases whose index medical codes were for ‘stroke annual review’ and 3,112 for ‘stroke monitoring’. The frequency of stroke review and monitoring codes as index codes increased from 9 per year in 1997 to 1,612 in 2004, 1,530 in 2005 and 1,424 in 2006. The one year mortality of cases with the restricted set of codes was 29.1% but for ‘stroke annual review,’ 4.6% and for ‘stroke monitoring codes’, 5.7%.
In the analysis of electronic patient records, different medical codes for a single condition may have varying clinical and prognostic significance; utilisation of different medical codes may change over time; researchers with differing clinical or epidemiological experience may have differing interpretations of the relevance of particular codes. There is a need for greater transparency in the selection of sets of codes for different conditions, for the reporting of sensitivity analyses using different sets of codes, as well as sharing of code sets among researchers.
The aim of this study was to estimate trends in primary care consultations and antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in the UK from 1997 to 2006.
Data were analysed for 100 000 subjects registered with 78 family practices in the UK General Practice Research Database; the numbers of consultations for RTI and associated antibiotic prescriptions were enumerated.
The consultation rate for RTI declined in females from 442.2 per 1000 registered patients in 1997 to 330.9 in 2006, and in males from 318.5 to 249.0. The rate of consultations for colds, rhinitis and upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) declined by 4.2 (95% CI 2.3–6.1) per 1000 per year in females and by 3.6 (2.3–4.8) in males. The rate of antibiotic prescribing for RTI was higher in females and declined by 8.5 (2.0–15.1) per 1000 in females and 6.7 (2.7–10.8) in males. For colds, rhinitis and URTI, the proportion of consultations with antibiotics was prescribed declined by 1.7% per year in females and 1.8% in males.
Decreasing frequency of consultation and antibiotic prescription for colds, rhinitis and ‘URTI’ continues to drive a reduction in the rate of antibiotic utilization for RTIs.
antibacterial agents; drug prescription; drug resistance; family practice; microbial; respiratory tract infections
The incidence of schizophrenia in black Caribbeans living in the UK is substantially higher than in the white British population. When first reported, these findings were assumed to be a first-generation migrant effect or merely the result of methodological artefacts associated with inconsistencies in the diagnosis of schizophrenia in black Caribbeans and doubts about population denominators. More recently, it has become clear that the incidence of schizophrenia, based on standardised diagnosis and sophisticated census methods, is higher still in second-generation black Caribbeans. The largest study to date has demonstrated a ninefold higher risk of schizophrenia in UK-resident black Caribbeans: findings that are of concern to black Caribbean communities, to their GPs, and to health service managers responsible for resource allocation. A literature search was carried in order to explore possible reasons for the reported excess incidence of schizophrenia in UK-resident black Caribbeans. Competing hypotheses are reviewed and the paper concludes with a summary of specific social and psychological risk factors of significance within the black Caribbean community. Awareness of the factors associated with the onset and presentation of schizophrenia in black Caribbeans may help early diagnosis and rapid access to appropriate treatment which, in turn, appear to be related to improved long-term outcomes.
aetiology; ethnicity; incidence; psychosis; schizophrenia
Objective To determine levels of blood pressure monitoring and control in primary care and to determine the effect of social deprivation on these levels.
Design Retrospective longitudinal survey, 2005 to 2007.
Setting General practices in England.
Participants Data obtained from 8515 practices (99.3% of all practices) in year 1, 8264 (98.3%) in year 2, and 8192 (97.8%) in year 3.
Main outcome measures Blood pressure indicators and chronic disease prevalence estimates contained within the UK quality and outcomes framework; social deprivation scores for each practice, ethnicity data obtained from the 2001 national census; general practice characteristics.
Results In 2005, 82.3% of adults (n=52.8m) had an up to date blood pressure recording; by 2007, this proportion had risen to 88.3% (n=53.2m). Initially, there was a 1.7% gap between mean blood pressure recording levels in practices located in the least deprived fifth of communities compared with the most deprived fifth, but, three years later, this gap had narrowed to 0.2%. Achievement of target blood pressure levels in 2005 for practices located in the least deprived communities ranged from 71.0% (95% CI 70.4% to 71.6%) for diabetes to 85.1% (84.7% to 85.6%) for coronary heart disease; practices in the most deprived communities achieved 68.9% (68.4% to 69.5%) and 81.8 % (81.3% to 82.3%) respectively. Three years later, target achievement in the least deprived practices had risen to 78.6% (78.1% to 79.1%) and 89.4% (89.1% to 89.7%) respectively. Target achievement in the most deprived practices rose similarly, to 79.2% (78.8% to 79.6%) and 88.4% (88.2% to 88.7%) respectively. Similar changes were observed for the achievement of blood pressure targets in hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease.
Conclusions Since the reporting of performance indicators for primary care and the incorporation of pay for performance in 2004, blood pressure monitoring and control have improved substantially. Improvements in achievement have been accompanied by the near disappearance of the achievement gap between least and most deprived areas.
The existence of health inequalities between least and most socially deprived areas is now well established.
To use Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) indicators to explore the characteristics of primary care in deprived communities.
Design of study
Primary care in England.
QOF data were obtained for each practice in England in 2004–2005 and 2005–2006 and linked with census derived social deprivation data (Index of Multiple Deprivation scores 2004), national urbanicity scores and a database of practice characteristics. Data were available for 8480 practices in 2004–2005 and 8264 practices in 2005–2006. Comparisons were made between practices in the least and most deprived quintiles.
The difference in mean total QOF score between practices in least and most deprived quintiles was 64.5 points in 2004–2005 (mean score, all practices, 959.9) and 30.4 in 2005–2006 (mean, 1012.6). In 2005–2006, the QOF indicators displaying the largest differences between least and most deprived quintiles were: recall of patients not attending appointments for injectable neuroleptics (79 versus 58%, respectively), practices opening ≥45 hours/week (90 versus 74%), practices conducting ≥12 significant event audits in previous 3 years (93 versus 81 %), proportion of epileptics who were seizure free ≥12 months (77 versus 65%) and proportion of patients taking lithium with serum lithium within therapeutic range (90 versus 78%). Geographical differences were less in group and training practices.
Overall differences between primary care quality indicators in deprived and prosperous communities were small. However, shortfalls in specific indicators, both clinical and non-clinical, suggest that focused interventions could be applied to improve the quality of primary care in deprived areas.
primary care; quality indicators; social deprivation