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author:("eberl, Mark H")
1.  A Systematic Review of High Quality Diagnostic Tests for Chagas Disease 
Background
There is significant heterogeneity in reported sensitivities and specificities of diagnostic serological assays for Chagas disease, as might be expected from studies that vary widely according to setting, research design, antigens employed, and reference standard. The purpose of this study is to summarize the reported accuracy of serological assays and to identify sources of heterogeneity including quality of research design. To avoid associated spectrum bias, our analysis was limited to cohort studies.
Methods
We completed a search of PubMed, a bibliographic review of potentially relevant articles, and a review of articles identified by a study author involved in this area of research. Studies were limited to prospective cohort studies of adults published since 1985. Measures of diagnostic accuracy were pooled using a Der Simonian Laird Random Effects Model. A subgroup analysis and meta regression were employed to identify sources of heterogeneity. The QUADAS tool was used to assess quality of included studies and Begg's funnel plot was used to assess publication bias.
Results
Eighteen studies and 61 assays were included in the final analysis. Significant heterogeneity was found in all pre-determined subgroups. Overall sensitivity was 90% (95% CI: 89%–91%) and overall specificity was 98% (95% CI: 98%–98%).
Conclusion
Sensitivity and specificity of serological assays for the diagnosis of Chagas disease appear less accurate than previously thought. Suggestions to improve the accuracy of reporting include the enrollment of patients in a prospective manner, double blinding, and providing an explicit method of addressing subjects that have an indeterminate diagnosis by either the reference standard or index test.
Author Summary
Chagas disease, an infectious disease endemic to Latin America, is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. T. cruzi can be transmitted through blood transfusions, organ transplants, or from mother to fetus, although it is most commonly transmitted through insect vectors. Infections can remain silent for many years before manifesting as potentially fatal damage to the cardiac and/or digestive system. Diagnosis of Chagas disease during its chronic asymptomatic phase is crucial to preventing future infections with T. cruzi and is often performed using serological tests that detect antibodies in the blood. Because there is currently no gold standard for serological diagnostic tests, multiple forms of serologic testing are often used in conjunction. The purpose of this study was to compare reports on the accuracy of serological tests. After limiting studies by certain criteria, the authors found a lower estimate of accuracy than has previously been reported in the literature and suggest quality improvements that can be made to standardize future reports.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001881
PMCID: PMC3493394  PMID: 23145201
2.  Answering Physicians' Clinical Questions: Obstacles and Potential Solutions 
Objective: To identify the most frequent obstacles preventing physicians from answering their patient-care questions and the most requested improvements to clinical information resources.
Design: Qualitative analysis of questions asked by 48 randomly selected generalist physicians during ambulatory care.
Measurements: Frequency of reported obstacles to answering patient-care questions and recommendations from physicians for improving clinical information resources.
Results: The physicians asked 1,062 questions but pursued answers to only 585 (55%). The most commonly reported obstacle to the pursuit of an answer was the physician's doubt that an answer existed (52 questions, 11%). Among pursued questions, the most common obstacle was the failure of the selected resource to provide an answer (153 questions, 26%). During audiotaped interviews, physicians made 80 recommendations for improving clinical information resources. For example, they requested comprehensive resources that answer questions likely to occur in practice with emphasis on treatment and bottom-line advice. They asked for help in locating information quickly by using lists, tables, bolded subheadings, and algorithms and by avoiding lengthy, uninterrupted prose.
Conclusion: Physicians do not seek answers to many of their questions, often suspecting a lack of usable information. When they do seek answers, they often cannot find the information they need. Clinical resource developers could use the recommendations made by practicing physicians to provide resources that are more useful for answering clinical questions.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M1608
PMCID: PMC551553  PMID: 15561792
5.  Obstacles to answering doctors' questions about patient care with evidence: qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7339):710.
Objective
To describe the obstacles encountered when attempting to answer doctors' questions with evidence.
Design
Qualitative study.
Setting
General practices in Iowa.
Participants
9 academic generalist doctors, 14 family doctors, and 2 medical librarians.
Main outcome measure
A taxonomy of obstacles encountered while searching for evidence based answers to doctors' questions.
Results
59 obstacles were encountered and organised according to the five steps in asking and answering questions: recognise a gap in knowledge, formulate a question, search for relevant information, formulate an answer, and use the answer to direct patient care. Six obstacles were considered particularly salient by the investigators and practising doctors: the excessive time required to find information; difficulty modifying the original question, which was often vague and open to interpretation; difficulty selecting an optimal strategy to search for information; failure of a seemingly appropriate resource to cover the topic; uncertainty about how to know when all the relevant evidence has been found so that the search can stop; and inadequate synthesis of multiple bits of evidence into a clinically useful statement.
Conclusions
Many obstacles are encountered when asking and answering questions about how to care for patients. Addressing these obstacles could lead to better patient care by improving clinically oriented information resources.
What is already known on this topicDoctors are encouraged to search for evidence based answers to their questions about patient care but most go unansweredStudies have not defined the obstacles to answering questions in a systematic mannerA comprehensive description of such obstacles has not been presentedWhat this study addsFifty nine obstacles were found while attempting to answer clinical questions with evidence; six were particularly salientThe obstacles were comprehensively described and organised
PMCID: PMC99056  PMID: 11909789
6.  A taxonomy of generic clinical questions: classification study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2000;321(7258):429-432.
Objective
To develop a taxonomy of doctors' questions about patient care that could be used to help answer such questions.
Design
Use of 295 questions asked by Oregon primary care doctors to modify previously developed taxonomy of 1101 clinical questions asked by Iowa family doctors.
Setting
Primary care practices in Iowa and Oregon.
Participants
Random samples of 103 Iowa family doctors and 49 Oregon primary care doctors.
Main outcome measures
Consensus among seven investigators on a meaningful taxonomy of generic questions; interrater reliability among 11 individuals who used the taxonomy to classify a random sample of 100 questions: 50 from Iowa and 50 from Oregon.
Results
The revised taxonomy, which comprised 64 generic question types, was used to classify 1396 clinical questions. The three commonest generic types were “What is the drug of choice for condition x?” (150 questions, 11%); “What is the cause of symptom x?” (115 questions, 8%); and “What test is indicated in situation x?” (112 questions, 8%). The mean interrater reliability among 11 coders was moderate (κ=0.53, agreement 55%).
Conclusions
Clinical questions in primary care can be categorised into a limited number of generic types. A moderate degree of interrater reliability was achieved with the taxonomy developed in this study. The taxonomy may enhance our understanding of doctors' information needs and improve our ability to meet those needs.
PMCID: PMC27459  PMID: 10938054
7.  Analysis of questions asked by family physicians regarding patient care 
Western Journal of Medicine  2000;172(5):315-319.
Objectives To characterize the information needs of family physicians by collecting the questions they asked about patient care during consultations and to classify these in ways that would be useful to developers of knowledge bases. Design An observational study in which investigators visited physicians for two half-days and collected their questions. Taxonomies were developed to characterize the clinical topic and generic type of information sought for each question. Setting Eastern Iowa. Participants Random sample of 103 family physicians. Main outcome measures Number of questions posed, pursued, and answered; topic and generic type of information sought for each question; time spent pursuing answers; and information resources used. Results Participants asked a total of 1,101 questions. Questions about drug prescribing, obstetrics and gynecology, and adult infectious disease were most common, comprising 36% of the total. The taxonomy of generic questions included 69 categories; the three most common types, comprising 24% of all questions, were “What is the cause of symptom X?” “What is the dose of drug X?” and “How should I manage disease or finding X?” Answers to most questions (n = 702 [64%]) were not immediately pursued, but of those pursued, most (n = 318 [80%]) were answered. Physicians spent an average of less than 2 minutes pursuing an answer, and they used readily available print and human resources. Only two questions led to a formal literature search. Conclusions Family physicians in this study did not pursue answers to most of their questions. Questions about patient care can be organized into a limited number of generic types, which could help guide the efforts of knowledge-base developers.
PMCID: PMC1070879  PMID: 18751285
8.  Survival After In-Hospital Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation 
OBJECTIVE
To determine the rates of immediate survival and survival to discharge for adult patients undergoing in-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and to identify demographic and clinical variables associated with these outcomes.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS
The MEDLARS database of the National Library of Medicine was searched. In addition, the authors' extensive personal files and the bibliography of each identified study were searched for further studies. Two sets of inclusion criteria were used, minimal (any study of adults undergoing in-hospital cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and strict (included only patients from general ward and intensive care units, and adequately defined cardiopulmonary arrest and resuscitation). Each study was independently reviewed and abstracted in a nonblinded fashion by two reviewers. The data abstracted were compared, and any discrepancies were resolved by consensus discussion. For the subset of studies meeting the strict criteria, the overall rate of immediate survival was 40.7% and the rate of survival to discharge was 13.4%. The following variables were associated with failure to survive to discharge: sepsis on the day prior to resuscitation (odds ratio [OR] 31.3; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9, 515), metastatic cancer (OR 3.9; 95% CI 1.2, 12.6), dementia (OR 3.1; 95% CI 1.1, 8.8), African-American race (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.4, 5.6), serum creatinine level at a cutpoint of 1.5 mg/dL (OR 2.2; 95% CI 1.2, 3.8), cancer (OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.2, 3.0), coronary artery disease (OR 0.55; 95% CI 0.4, 0.8), and location of resuscitation in the intensive care unit (OR 0.51; 95% CI 0.4, 0.8).
CONCLUSIONS
When talking with patients, physicians can describe the overall likelihood of surviving discharge as 1 in 8 for patients who undergo cardiopulmonary resuscitation and 1 in 3 for patients who survive cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.1998.00244.x
PMCID: PMC1497044  PMID: 9844078
cardiopulmonary resuscitation; meta-analysis; resuscitation; prognosis
9.  Analysis of questions asked by family doctors regarding patient care 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7206):358-361.
Objectives
To characterise the information needs of family doctors by collecting the questions they asked about patient care during consultations and to classify these in ways that would be useful to developers of knowledge bases.
Design
Observational study in which investigators visited doctors for two half days and collected their questions. Taxonomies were developed to characterise the clinical topic and generic type of information sought for each question.
Setting
Eastern Iowa.
Participants
Random sample of 103 family doctors.
Main outcome measures
Number of questions posed, pursued, and answered; topic and generic type of information sought for each question; time spent pursuing answers; information resources used.
Results
Participants asked a total of 1101 questions. Questions about drug prescribing, obstetrics and gynaecology, and adult infectious disease were most common and comprised 36% of all questions. The taxonomy of generic questions included 69 categories; the three most common types, comprising 24% of all questions, were “What is the cause of symptom X?” “What is the dose of drug X?” and “How should I manage disease or finding X?” Answers to most questions (702, 64%) were not immediately pursued, but, of those pursued, most (318, 80%) were answered. Doctors spent an average of less than 2 minutes pursuing an answer, and they used readily available print and human resources. Only two questions led to a formal literature search.
Conclusions
Family doctors in this study did not pursue answers to most of their questions. Questions about patient care can be organised into a limited number of generic types, which could help guide the efforts of knowledge base developers.
Key messagesQuestions that doctors have about the care of their patients could help guide the content of medical information sources and medical trainingIn this study of US family doctors, participants frequently had questions about patient care but did not pursue answers to most questions (64%)On average, participants spent less than 2 minutes seeking an answer to a questionThe most common resources used to answer questions included textbooks and colleagues; formal literature searches were rarely performedThe most common generic questions were “What is the cause of symptom X?” “What is the dose of drug X?” and “How should I manage disease or finding X?”
PMCID: PMC28191  PMID: 10435959

Results 1-9 (9)