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1.  Expanding access to coronary artery bypass surgery: who stands to gain? 
British Heart Journal  1995;73(2):129-133.
OBJECTIVE--To determine the perceptions of general practitioners (GPs) about the benefits of coronary artery bypass surgery, in terms of gains in life expectancy, for different groups of patients. DESIGN--A questionnaire survey of all GPs in Northern Ireland. SETTING--A survey conducted collaboratively by the departments of public health medicine in each of the four health boards in the province, serving a total population of 1.5 million. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--The median and mean gain in life expectancy perceived by groups of doctors for smoking and non-smoking male and female 55 year old patients. The percentage of 50 year old and 70 year old non-smoking patients considered likely to have their lives extended with bypass surgery. Differences were assessed using the Mann-Whitney U test for unpaired samples and the Wilcoxon signed rank tests for paired. RESULTS--541 GPs replied (response rate 56%). The median (and mean) perceived gain in life expectancy after cardiac surgery for non-smoking 55 year old subjects was 120 (104) months for men and 120 (112) months for women (z = 6.42; P < 0.0001; Wilcoxon signed rank test). For male and female smokers of the same age, the perceived gains were 48 (47) and 60 (52) months respectively (z = 6.72; P < 0.0001; Wilcoxon signed ranks test), both figures being significantly different than for non-smokers. The median (and mean) percentage of patients that the doctors considered would have their lives extended by bypass surgery was 70 (64) of every 100 "young" patients and 40 (42) of every 100 "old" patients, (z = 16.2; P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS--These results point to a significant overestimation of the benefits of coronary artery bypass surgery by GPs in Northern Ireland and to a need to develop guidelines for referral.
PMCID: PMC483778  PMID: 7696021
2.  Is choice of general practitioner important for patients having coronary artery investigations? 
Quality in Health Care  1994;3(1):17-22.
OBJECTIVE--To determine whether particular sociodemographic characteristics of patients with stable angina affected their general practitioners' (GPs') decisions to refer them for revascularisation assessment. DESIGN--Postal questionnaire survey. SETTING--Collaborative survey by the departments of public health medicine in each of the four health boards in Northern Ireland, serving a total population of 1.5 million. SUBJECTS--All (962) GPs. MAIN MEASURES--The relation between GPs' referral decisions and patients' age, sex, employment status, home circumstances, smoking habits, and obesity. RESULTS--541 GPs replied (response rate 56%). Most were "neutral" towards a patient's sex (428, 79%), weight (331, 61%), smoking habit (302, 56%), employment status (431, 80%), and home circumstances (408, 75%) in making decisions about referral. In assigning priority for surgery most were neutral towards the patient's sex (459, 85%), employment status (378, 70%), and home circumstances (295, 55%). However, most GPs (518, 95%) said that younger patients were more likely to be referred, and a significant minority were less likely to refer patients who smoked (202, 37%) and obese patients (175, 32%) and more likely to refer employed patients (97, 18%) and those with dependents (117, 22%) (compared with patients with otherwise comparable clinical characteristics); these views paralleled the priority which GPs assigned these groups. The stated likelihood of referral of young patients was independent of the GPs' belief in ability to benefit from revascularisation, but propensity to refer and perception of benefit were significantly associated for all other patient characteristics. CONCLUSION--GPs' weighting of certain characteristics in reaching decisions about referral for angiography is not uniform and may contribute to unequal access to revascularisation services for certain patient groups.
PMCID: PMC1055177  PMID: 10136255

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