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1.  Selecting long-term care facilities with high use of acute hospitalisations: issues and options 
Background
This paper considers approaches to the question “Which long-term care facilities have residents with high use of acute hospitalisations?” It compares four methods of identifying long-term care facilities with high use of acute hospitalisations by demonstrating four selection methods, identifies key factors to be resolved when deciding which methods to employ, and discusses their appropriateness for different research questions.
Methods
OPAL was a census-type survey of aged care facilities and residents in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2008. It collected information about facility management and resident demographics, needs and care. Survey records (149 aged care facilities, 6271 residents) were linked to hospital and mortality records routinely assembled by health authorities. The main ranking endpoint was acute hospitalisations for diagnoses that were classified as potentially avoidable. Facilities were ranked using 1) simple event counts per person, 2) event rates per year of resident follow-up, 3) statistical model of rates using four predictors, and 4) change in ranks between methods 2) and 3). A generalized mixed model was used for Method 3 to handle the clustered nature of the data.
Results
3048 potentially avoidable hospitalisations were observed during 22 months’ follow-up. The same “top ten” facilities were selected by Methods 1 and 2. The statistical model (Method 3), predicting rates from resident and facility characteristics, ranked facilities differently than these two simple methods. The change-in-ranks method identified a very different set of “top ten” facilities. All methods showed a continuum of use, with no clear distinction between facilities with higher use.
Conclusion
Choice of selection method should depend upon the purpose of selection. To monitor performance during a period of change, a recent simple rate, count per resident, or even count per bed, may suffice. To find high–use facilities regardless of resident needs, recent history of admissions is highly predictive. To target a few high-use facilities that have high rates after considering facility and resident characteristics, model residuals or a large increase in rank may be preferable.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-14-93
PMCID: PMC4118262  PMID: 25052433
Long-term care; Risk assessment; Hospitalization; Health services for the aged; facility selection; Research design
2.  Genome-wide protein QTL mapping identifies human plasma kallikrein as a post-translational regulator of serum uPAR levels 
The FASEB Journal  2014;28(2):923-934.
The soluble cleaved urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (scuPAR) is a circulating protein detected in multiple diseases, including various cancers, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease, where elevated levels of scuPAR have been associated with worsening prognosis and increased disease aggressiveness. We aimed to identify novel genetic and biomolecular mechanisms regulating scuPAR levels. Elevated serum scuPAR levels were identified in asthma (n=514) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; n=219) cohorts when compared to controls (n=96). In these cohorts, a genome-wide association study of serum scuPAR levels identified a human plasma kallikrein gene (KLKB1) promoter polymorphism (rs4253238) associated with serum scuPAR levels in a control/asthma population (P=1.17×10−7), which was also observed in a COPD population (combined P=5.04×10−12). Using a fluorescent assay, we demonstrated that serum KLKB1 enzymatic activity was driven by rs4253238 and is inverse to scuPAR levels. Biochemical analysis identified that KLKB1 cleaves scuPAR and negates scuPAR's effects on primary human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs) in vitro. Chymotrypsin was used as a proproteolytic control, while basal HBECs were used as a control to define scuPAR-driven effects. In summary, we reveal a novel post-translational regulatory mechanism for scuPAR using a hypothesis-free approach with implications for multiple human diseases.—Portelli, M. A., Siedlinski, M., Stewart, C. E., Postma, D. S., Nieuwenhuis, M. A., Vonk, J. M., Nurnberg, P., Altmuller, J., Moffatt, M. F., Wardlaw, A. J., Parker, S. G., Connolly, M. J., Koppelman, G. H., Sayers, I. Genome-wide protein QTL mapping identifies human plasma kallikrein as a post-translational regulator of serum uPAR levels.
doi:10.1096/fj.13-240879
PMCID: PMC3898658  PMID: 24249636
GWAS; proteolysis; respiratory disease; HBECs; cellular proliferation and wound repair
4.  Elderly Men Have Low Levels of Anti-Müllerian Hormone and Inhibin B, but with High Interpersonal Variation: A Cross-Sectional Study of the Sertoli Cell Hormones in 615 Community-Dwelling Men 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70967.
The Sertoli cells of the testes secrete anti-Müllerian hormone (Müllerian inhibiting Substance, AMH) and inhibin B (InhB). AMH triggers the degeneration of the uterine precursor in male embryos, whereas InhB is part of the gonadal-pituitary axis for the regulation of sperm production in adults. However, both hormones are also putative regulators of homeostasis, and age-related changes in these hormones may therefore be important to the health status of elderly men. The levels of AMH in elderly men are unknown, with limited information being available about age-related changes in InhB. We have therefore used ELISAs to measure Sertoli cell hormone levels in 3 cohorts of community-dwelling men in New Zealand. In total, 615 men were examined, 493 of which were aged 65 or older. Serum AMH and InhB levels inversely correlated with age in men older than 50 years (p<0.001) but not in the younger men. A minority of elderly men had undetectable levels of AMH and InhB. The variation in hormone levels between similarly aged men increased with the age of men. AMH and InhB partially correlated with each other as expected (r = 0.48, p<0.001). However, the ratio of the two Sertoli hormones varied significantly between men, with this variation increasing with age. Elderly men selected for the absence of cardiovascular disease had AMH levels similar to those of young men whereas their InhB levels did not differ from aged-matched controls. These data suggests that Sertoli cell number and function changes with age, but with the extent and nature of the changes varying between men.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070967
PMCID: PMC3733803  PMID: 23940675
5.  Ten years of tiotropium: clinical impact and patient perspectives 
Tiotropium bromide is an anticholinergic agent that has gained worldwide acceptance as a first-line, once daily maintenance therapy for patients with moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The purpose of this review is to synthesize the evidence base in the past 10 years on the development of tiotropium and its efficacy compared to other able interventions such as long-acting beta agonists (LABAs), as well as to assess its safety profile and its effects on health-related outcomes in patients with COPD. Treatment with tiotropium bromide has generally improved patients’ health-related quality of life, reduced the number of patients suffering from acute exacerbations, decreased the number of hospitalizations, improved dyspnea, and reduced adverse events compared to placebo. In the past decade, several studies have examined the safety and efficacy of tiotropium in comparison to placebo and to LABAs (salmeterol, formoterol, and indacaterol) over periods ranging from 3 months to 48 months of follow-up. Head-to-head comparisons of tiotropium 18 μg (once daily) with salmeterol 50 μg (twice daily) in well-controlled trials demonstrated that tiotropium was superior in reducing acute exacerbation events and in improving quality of life. In a few short-term studies, indacaterol was comparable to tiotropium in its efficacy in improving health-related outcomes. Although the safety record of tiotropium has been exemplary in comparison to placebo, anticholinergic events such as dry mouth can be encountered in some patients. While the long-term safety of tiotropium when delivered in the HandiHaler® has been well documented, its delivery using the Respimat® Soft Mist Inhaler™ was associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular complications, including increased mortality when compared to placebo. The exact mechanism for this is not known but is being investigated in a large multinational study that will evaluate the long-term safety of different doses of tiotropium delivered by the Respimat® soft mist inhaler versus the HandiHaler®. Further studies are required to investigate the efficacy and safety of tiotropium in comparison with novel LABAs such as indacaterol and vilanterol, and with other emerging novel anticholinergic agents such as aclidinium bromide and NVA237 (glycopyrronium bromide).
doi:10.2147/COPD.S28576
PMCID: PMC3600941  PMID: 23515335
bronchodilator; tiotropium; salmeterol; indacaterol; LABA; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
6.  Aged Residential Care Health Utilisation Study (ARCHUS): a randomised controlled trial to reduce acute hospitalisations from residential aged care 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:54.
Background
For residents of long term care, hospitalisations can cause distress and disruption, and often result in further medical complications. Multi-disciplinary team interventions have been shown to improve the health of Residential Aged Care (RAC) residents, decreasing the need for acute hospitalisation, yet there are few randomised controlled trials of these complex interventions. This paper describes a randomised controlled trial of a structured multi-disciplinary team and gerontology nurse specialist (GNS) intervention aiming to reduce residents’ avoidable hospitalisations.
Methods/Design
This Aged Residential Care Healthcare Utilisation Study (ARCHUS) is a cluster- randomised controlled trial (n = 1700 residents) of a complex multi-disciplinary team intervention in long-term care facilities. Eligible facilities certified for residential care were selected from those identified as at moderate or higher risk of resident potentially avoidable hospitalisations by statistical modelling. The facilities were all located in the Auckland region, New Zealand and were stratified by District Health Board (DHB).
Intervention
The intervention provided a structured GNS intervention including a baseline facility needs assessment, quality indicator benchmarking, a staff education programme and care coordination. Alongside this, three multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meetings were held involving a geriatrician, facility GP, pharmacist, GNS and senior nursing staff.
Outcomes
Hospitalisations are recorded from routinely-collected acute admissions during the 9-month intervention period followed by a 5-month follow-up period. ICD diagnosis codes are used in a pre-specified definition of potentially reducible admissions.
Discussion
This randomised-controlled trial will evaluate a complex intervention to increase early identification and intervention to improve the health of residents of long term care. The results of this trial are expected in early 2013.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN 12611000187943
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-54
PMCID: PMC3489701  PMID: 22974314
7.  Life and Living in Advanced Age: A Cohort Study in New Zealand -Te Puāwaitanga o Nga Tapuwae Kia Ora Tonu, LiLACS NZ: Study protocol 
BMC Geriatrics  2012;12:33.
Background
The number of people of advanced age (85 years and older) is increasing and health systems may be challenged by increasing health-related needs. Recent overseas evidence suggests relatively high levels of wellbeing in this group, however little is known about people of advanced age, particularly the indigenous Māori, in Aotearoa, New Zealand. This paper outlines the methods of the study Life and Living in Advanced Age: A Cohort Study in New Zealand. The study aimed to establish predictors of successful advanced ageing and understand the relative importance of health, frailty, cultural, social & economic factors to successful ageing for Māori and non-Māori in New Zealand.
Methods/design
A total population cohort study of those of advanced age. Two cohorts of equal size, Māori aged 80–90 and non-Māori aged 85, oversampling to enable sufficient power, were enrolled. A defined geographic region, living in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board areas of New Zealand, defined the sampling frame. Rūnanga (Māori tribal organisations) and Primary Health Organisations were subcontracted to recruit on behalf of the University. Measures - a comprehensive interview schedule was piloted and administered by a trained interviewer using standardised techniques. Socio-demographic and personal history included tribal affiliation for Māori and participation in cultural practices; physical and psychological health status used standardised validated research tools; health behaviours included smoking, alcohol use and nutrition risk; and environmental data included local amenities, type of housing and neighbourhood. Social network structures and social support exchanges are recorded. Measures of physical function; gait speed, leg strength and balance, were completed. Everyday interests and activities, views on ageing and financial interests complete the interview. A physical assessment by a trained nurse included electrocardiograph, blood pressure, hearing and vision, anthropometric measures, respiratory function testing and blood samples.
Discussion
A longitudinal study of people of advanced age is underway in New Zealand. The health status of a population based sample of older people will be established and predictors of successful ageing determined.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-12-33
PMCID: PMC3502153  PMID: 22747503
Advanced age; Successful ageing; Longitudinal study; Cohort; Indigenous health
8.  The role of ALOX5AP, LTA4H and LTB4R polymorphisms in determining baseline lung function and COPD susceptibility in UK smokers 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:173.
Background
We have previously shown evidence that polymorphisms within genes controlling leukotriene B4 (LTB4) production (ALOX5AP and LTA4H) are associated with asthma susceptibility in children. Evidence also suggests a potential role of LTB4 in COPD disease mechanisms including recruitment of neutrophils to the lung. The aim of the current study was to see if these SNPs and those spanning the receptor genes for LTB4 (LTB4R1 and LTB4R2) influence baseline lung function and COPD susceptibility/severity in smokers.
Methods
Eight ALOX5AP, six LTA4H and six LTB4R single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in a UK Smoking Cohort (n = 992). Association with baseline lung function (FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio) was determined by linear regression. Logistic regression was used to compare smoking controls (n = 176) with spirometry-defined COPD cases (n = 599) and to more severe COPD cases (GOLD stage 3 and 4, n = 389).
Results
No association with ALOX5AP, LTA4H or LTB4R survived correction for multiple testing. However, we showed modest association with LTA4H rs1978331C (intron 11) with increased FEV1 (p = 0.029) and with increased FEV1/FVC ratio (p = 0.020).
Conclusions
These data suggest that polymorphisms spanning ALOX5AP, LTA4H and the LTB4R locus are not major determinants of baseline lung function in smokers, but provide tentative evidence for LTA4H rs1978331C (intron 11) in determining baseline FEV1 and FEV1/FVC ratio in Caucasian Smokers in addition to our previously identified role in asthma susceptibility.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-12-173
PMCID: PMC3267686  PMID: 22206291
9.  Health equity in the New Zealand health care system: a national survey 
Introduction
In all countries people experience different social circumstances that result in avoidable differences in health. In New Zealand, Māori, Pacific peoples, and those with lower socioeconomic status experience higher levels of chronic illness, which is the leading cause of mortality, morbidity and inequitable health outcomes. Whilst the health system can enable a fairer distribution of good health, limited national data is available to measure health equity. Therefore, we sought to find out whether health services in New Zealand were equitable by measuring the level of development of components of chronic care management systems across district health boards. Variation in provision by geography, condition or ethnicity can be interpreted as inequitable.
Methods
A national survey of district health boards (DHBs) was undertaken on macro approaches to chronic condition management with detail on cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, stroke and diabetes. Additional data from expert informant interviews on program reach and the cultural needs of Māori and Pacific peoples was sought. Survey data were analyzed on dimensions of health equity relevant to strategic planning and program delivery. Results are presented as descriptive statistics and free text. Interviews were transcribed and NVivo 8 software supported a general inductive approach to identify common themes.
Results
Survey responses were received from the majority of DHBs (15/21), some PHOs (21/84) and 31 expert informants. Measuring, monitoring and targeting equity is not systematically undertaken. The Health Equity Assessment Tool is used in strategic planning but not in decisions about implementing or monitoring disease programs. Variable implementation of evidence-based practices in disease management and multiple funding streams made program implementation difficult. Equity for Māori is embedded in policy, this is not so for other ethnic groups or by geography. Populations that conventional practitioners find hard to reach, despite recognized needs, are often underserved. Nurses and community health workers carried a disproportionate burden of care. Cultural and diversity training is not a condition of employment.
Conclusions
There is a struggle to put equity principles into practice, indicating will without enactment. Equity is not addressed systematically below strategic levels and equity does not shape funding decisions, program development, implementation and monitoring. Equity is not incentivized although examples of exceptional practice, driven by individuals, are evident across New Zealand.
doi:10.1186/1475-9276-10-45
PMCID: PMC3216847  PMID: 22014211
health equity; Māori; cultural competency; health care system; chronic conditions; cardiovascular disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; congestive heart failure; stroke; diabetes
12.  PLAUR polymorphisms and lung function in UK smokers 
BMC Medical Genetics  2009;10:112.
Background
We have previously identified Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Receptor (PLAUR) as an asthma susceptibility gene. In the current study we tested the hypothesis that PLAUR single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) determine baseline lung function and contribute to the development of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in smokers.
Methods
25 PLAUR SNPs were genotyped in COPD subjects and individuals with smoking history (n = 992). Linear regression was used to determine the effects of polymorphism on baseline lung function (FEV1, FEV1/FVC) in all smokers. Genotype frequencies were compared in spirometry defined smoking controls (n = 176) versus COPD cases (n = 599) and COPD severity (GOLD stratification) using logistic regression.
Results
Five SNPs showed a significant association (p < 0.01) with baseline lung function; rs2302524(Lys220Arg) and rs2283628(intron 3) were associated with lower and higher FEV1 respectively. rs740587(-22346), rs11668247(-20040) and rs344779(-3666) in the 5'region were associated with increased FEV1/FVC ratio. rs740587 was also protective for COPD susceptibility and rs11668247 was protective for COPD severity although no allele dose relationship was apparent. Interestingly, several of these associations were driven by male smokers not females.
Conclusion
This study provides tentative evidence that the asthma associated gene PLAUR also influences baseline lung function in smokers. However the case-control analyses do not support the conclusion that PLAUR is a major COPD susceptibility gene in smokers. PLAUR is a key serine protease receptor involved in the generation of plasmin and has been implicated in airway remodelling.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-10-112
PMCID: PMC2784766  PMID: 19878584
13.  Transitional care for elderly people 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;331(7527):1271.
PMCID: PMC1289369  PMID: 16308404

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