Multimorbidity has a negative impact on health-related quality of life (HRQL). Previous studies included only a limited number of conditions. In this study, we analyse the impact of a large number of conditions on HRQL in multimorbid patients without preselecting particular diseases. We also explore the effects of these conditions on the specific dimensions of HRQL.
Materials and Methods
This analysis is based on a multicenter, prospective cohort study of 3189 multimorbid primary care patients aged 65 to 85. The impact of 45 conditions on HRQL was analysed. The severity of the conditions was rated. The EQ-5D, consisting of 5 dimensions and a visual-analogue-scale (EQ VAS), was employed. Data were analysed using multiple ordinary least squares and multiple logistic regressions. Multimorbidity measured by a weighted count score was significantly associated with lower overall HRQL (EQ VAS), b = −1.02 (SE: 0.06). Parkinson’s disease had the most pronounced negative effect on overall HRQL (EQ VAS), b = −12.29 (SE: 2.18), followed by rheumatism, depression, and obesity. With regard to the individual EQ-5D dimensions, depression (OR = 1.39 to 3.3) and obesity (OR = 1.44 to 1.95) affected all five dimensions of the EQ-5D negatively except for the dimension anxiety/depression. Obesity had a positive effect on this dimension, OR = 0.78 (SE: 0.07). The dimensions “self-care”, OR = 4.52 (SE: 1.37) and “usual activities”, OR = 3.59 (SE: 1.0), were most strongly affected by Parkinson’s disease. As a limitation our sample may only represent patients with at most moderate disease severity.
The overall HRQL of multimorbid patients decreases with an increasing count and severity of conditions. Parkinson’s disease, depression and obesity have the strongest impact on HRQL. Further studies should address the impact of disease combinations which require very large sample sizes as well as advanced statistical methods.
In this article three research questions are addressed: (1) Is there an association between socioeconomic status (SES) and patient-reported outcomes in a cohort of multimorbid patients? (2) Does the association vary according to SES indicator used (income, education, occupational position)? (3) Can the association between SES and patient-reported outcomes (self-rated health, health-related quality of life and functional status) be (partly) explained by burden of disease?
Analyses are based on the MultiCare Cohort Study, a German multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study of multimorbid patients from general practice. We analysed baseline data and data from the first follow-up after 15 months (N = 2,729). To assess burden of disease we used the patients’ morbidity data from standardized general practitioner (GP) interviews based on a list of 46 groups of chronic conditions including the GP’s severity rating of each chronic condition ranging from marginal to very severe.
In the cross-sectional analyses SES was significantly associated with the patient-reported outcomes at baseline. Associations with income were more consistent and stronger than with education and occupational position. Associations were partly explained (17% to 44%) by burden of disease. In the longitudinal analyses only income (but not education and occupational position) was significantly related to the patient-reported outcomes at follow-up. Associations between income and the outcomes were reduced by 18% to 27% after adjustment for burden of disease.
Results indicate social inequalities in self-rated health, functional status and health related quality of life among older multimorbid patients. As associations with education and occupational position were inconsistent, these inequalities were mainly due to income. Inequalities were partly explained by burden of disease. However, even among patients with a similar disease burden, those with a low income were worse off in terms of the three patient-reported outcomes under study.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12939-015-0142-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Socioeconomic status; Patient-reported outcomes; Multimorbid patients; Burden of disease
Multimorbidity is a health issue mostly dealt with in primary care practice. As a result of their generalist and patient-centered approach, long-lasting relationships with patients, and responsibility for continuity and coordination of care, family physicians are particularly well placed to manage patients with multimorbidity. However, conflicts arising from the application of multiple disease oriented guidelines and the burden of diseases and treatments often make consultations challenging. To provide orientation in decision making in multimorbidity during primary care consultations, we developed guiding principles and named them after the Greek mythological figure Ariadne. For this purpose, we convened a two-day expert workshop accompanied by an international symposium in October 2012 in Frankfurt, Germany. Against the background of the current state of knowledge presented and discussed at the symposium, 19 experts from North America, Europe, and Australia identified the key issues of concern in the management of multimorbidity in primary care in panel and small group sessions and agreed upon making use of formal and informal consensus methods. The proposed preliminary principles were refined during a multistage feedback process and discussed using a case example. The sharing of realistic treatment goals by physicians and patients is at the core of the Ariadne principles. These result from i) a thorough interaction assessment of the patient’s conditions, treatments, constitution, and context; ii) the prioritization of health problems that take into account the patient’s preferences – his or her most and least desired outcomes; and iii) individualized management realizes the best options of care in diagnostics, treatment, and prevention to achieve the goals. Goal attainment is followed-up in accordance with a re-assessment in planned visits. The occurrence of new or changed conditions, such as an increase in severity, or a changed context may trigger the (re-)start of the process. Further work is needed on the implementation of the formulated principles, but they were recognized and appreciated as important by family physicians and primary care researchers.
Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/12/222.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-014-0223-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Comorbidity; Decision making; General practice; Goal-oriented care; Multimorbidity; Patient-centered care; Patient care planning; Patient preference; Primary care
Background. Depression is the most common type of mental disorder in Germany. It is associated with a high level of suffering for individuals and imposes a significant burden on society. The aim of this study was to estimate the depression related costs in Germany taking a societal perspective. Materials and Methods. Data were collected from the primary care monitoring for depressive patients trial (PRoMPT) of patients with major depressive disorder who were treated in a primary care setting. Resource utilisation and days of sick leave were observed and analysed over a 1-year period. Results. Average depression related costs of €3813 were calculated. Significant differences in total costs due to sex were demonstrated. Male patients had considerable higher total costs than female patients, whereas single cost categories did not differ significantly. Further, differences in costs according to severity of disease and age were observed. The economic burden to society was estimated at €15.6 billion per year. Conclusion. The study results show that depression poses a significant economic burden to society. There is a high potential for prevention, treatment, and patient management innovations to identify and treat patients at an early stage.
In primary care, patients with multiple chronic conditions are the rule rather than the exception. The Chronic Care Model (CCM) is an evidence-based framework for improving chronic illness care, but little is known about the extent to which it has been implemented in routine primary care. The aim of this study was to describe how multimorbid older patients assess the routine chronic care they receive in primary care practices in Germany, and to explore the extent to which factors at both the practice and patient level determine their views.
This cross-sectional study used baseline data from an observational cohort study involving 158 general practitioners (GP) and 3189 multimorbid patients. Standardized questionnaires were employed to collect data, and the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care (PACIC) questionnaire used to assess the quality of care received. Multilevel hierarchical modeling was used to identify any existing association between the dependent variable, PACIC, and independent variables at the patient level (socio-economic factors, weighted count of chronic conditions, instrumental activities of daily living, health-related quality of life, graded chronic pain, no. of contacts with GP, existence of a disease management program (DMP) disease, self-efficacy, and social support) and the practice level (age and sex of GP, years in current practice, size and type of practice).
The overall mean PACIC score was 2.4 (SD 0.8), with the mean subscale scores ranging from 2.0 (SD 1.0, subscale goal setting/tailoring) to 3.5 (SD 0.7, delivery system design). At the patient level, higher PACIC scores were associated with a DMP disease, more frequent GP contacts, higher social support, and higher autonomy of past occupation. At the practice level, solo practices were associated with higher PACIC values than other types of practice.
This study shows that from the perspective of multimorbid patients receiving care in German primary care practices, the implementation of structured care and counseling could be improved, particularly by helping patients set specific goals, coordinating care, and arranging follow-up contacts. Studies evaluating chronic care should take into consideration that a patient’s assessment is associated not only with practice-level factors, but also with individual, patient-level factors.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN89818205.
Chronic disease; Multimorbidity; Chronic care model; Assessment of care; Patient-centred care
Obesity and the accompanying increased morbidity and mortality risk is highly prevalent among older adults. As obese elderly might benefit from intentional weight reduction, it is necessary to determine associated and potentially modifiable factors on senior obesity. This cross-sectional study focuses on multi-morbid patients which make up the majority in primary care. It reports on the prevalence of senior obesity and its associations with lifestyle behaviors.
A total of 3,189 non-demented, multi-morbid participants aged 65–85 years were recruited in primary care within the German MultiCare-study. Physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and quantity and quality of nutritional intake were classified as relevant lifestyle factors. Body Mass Index (BMI, general obesity) and waist circumference (WC, abdominal obesity) were used as outcome measures and regression analyses were conducted.
About one third of all patients were classified as obese according to BMI. The prevalence of abdominal obesity was 73.5%. Adjusted for socio-demographic variables and objective and subjective disease burden, participants with low physical activity had a 1.6 kg/m2 higher BMI as well as a higher WC (4.9 cm, p<0.001). Current smoking and high alcohol consumption were associated with a lower BMI and WC. In multivariate logistic regression, using elevated WC and BMI as categorical outcomes, the same pattern in lifestyle factors was observed. Only for WC, not current but former smoking was associated with a higher probability for elevated WC. Dietary intake in quantity and quality was not associated with BMI or WC in either model.
Further research is needed to clarify if the huge prevalence discrepancy between BMI and WC also reflects a difference in obesity-related morbidity and mortality. Yet, age-specific thresholds for the BMI are needed likewise. Encouraging and promoting physical activity in older adults might a starting point for weight reduction efforts.
Sepsis sequelae include critical illness polyneuropathy, myopathy, wasting, neurocognitive deficits, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and chronic pain. Little is known howlong-term sequelae following hospital discharge are treated. The aim of our study is to determine the effect of a primary care-based, long-term program on health-related quality of life in sepsis survivors.
In a two-armed randomized multicenter interventional study, patients after sepsis (n = 290) will be assessed at 6, 12 and 24 months. Patients are eligible if severe sepsis or septic shock (ICD-10), at least two criteria of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), at least one organ dysfunction and sufficient cognitive capacity are present. The intervention comprises 1) discharge management, 2) training of general practitioners and patients in evidence-based care for sepsis sequelae and 3) telephone monitoring of patients. At six months, we expect an improved primary outcome (health-related quality of life/SF-36) and improved secondary outcomes such as costs, mortality, clinical-, psycho-social- and process-of-care measures in the intervention group compared to the control group.
This study evaluates a primary care-based, long-term program for patients after severe sepsis. Study results may add evidence for improved sepsis care management. General practitioners may contribute efficiently to sepsis aftercare.
U1111-1119-6345. DRKS00000741, CCT-NAPN-20875 (25 February 2011).
Severe sepsis; Sequelae; Critical illness; Primary health care; Aftercare
It is not well established how psychosocial factors like social support and depression affect health-related quality of life in multimorbid and elderly patients. We investigated whether depressive mood mediates the influence of social support on health-related quality of life.
Cross-sectional data of 3,189 multimorbid patients from the baseline assessment of the German MultiCare cohort study were used. Mediation was tested using the approach described by Baron and Kenny based on multiple linear regression, and controlling for socioeconomic variables and burden of multimorbidity.
Mediation analyses confirmed that depressive mood mediates the influence of social support on health-related quality of life (Sobel’s p < 0.001). Multiple linear regression showed that the influence of depressive mood (β = −0.341, p < 0.01) on health-related quality of life is greater than the influence of multimorbidity (β = −0.234, p < 0.01).
Social support influences health-related quality of life, but this association is strongly mediated by depressive mood. Depression should be taken into consideration in research on multimorbidity, and clinicians should be aware of its importance when caring for multimorbid patients.
Multimorbidity; Chronic medical conditions; Coping; Primary care; Family practice; Social support; Health-related quality of life; Depression; Elderly patients
Panic disorder and agoraphobia are debilitating and frequently comorbid anxiety disorders. A large number of patients with these conditions are treated by general practitioners in primary care. Cognitive behavioural exposure exercises have been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Practice team-based case management can improve clinical outcomes for patients with chronic diseases in primary care. The present study compares a practice team-supported, self-managed exposure programme for patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia in small general practices to usual care in terms of clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness.
This is a cluster randomised controlled superiority trial with a two-arm parallel group design. General practices represent the units of randomisation. General practitioners recruit adult patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia according to the International Classification of Diseases, version 10 (ICD-10). In the intervention group, patients receive cognitive behaviour therapy-oriented psychoeducation and instructions to self-managed exposure exercises in four manual-based appointments with the general practitioner. A trained health care assistant from the practice team delivers case management and is continuously monitoring symptoms and treatment progress in ten protocol-based telephone contacts with patients. In the control group, patients receive usual care from general practitioners. Outcomes are measured at baseline (T0), at follow-up after six months (T1), and at follow-up after twelve months (T2). The primary outcome is clinical severity of anxiety of patients as measured by the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI). To detect a standardised effect size of 0.35 at T1, 222 patients from 37 general practices are included in each group. Secondary outcomes include anxiety-related clinical parameters and health-economic costs.
Current Controlled Trials [http://ISCRTN64669297]
Panic disorder; Agoraphobia; Case management; Primary health care; General practice
The objective of this study was to describe and analyze the effects of depression on health care utilization and costs in a sample of multimorbid elderly patients.
This cross-sectional analysis used data of a prospective cohort study, consisting of 1,050 randomly selected multimorbid primary care patients aged 65 to 85 years. Depression was defined as a score of six points or more on the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15). Subjects passed a geriatric assessment, including a questionnaire for health care utilization. The impact of depression on health care costs was analyzed using multiple linear regression models. A societal perspective was adopted.
Prevalence of depression was 10.7%. Mean total costs per six-month period were €8,144 (95% CI: €6,199-€10,090) in patients with depression as compared to €3,137 (95% CI: €2,735-€3,538; p<0.001) in patients without depression. The positive association between depression and total costs persisted after controlling for socio-economic variables, functional status and level of multimorbidity. In particular, multiple regression analyses showed a significant positive association between depression and pharmaceutical costs.
Among multimorbid elderly patients, depression was associated with significantly higher health care utilization and costs. The effect of depression on costs was even greater than reported by previous studies conducted in less morbid patients.
Multimorbidity is a common phenomenon in primary care. Until now, no clinical guidelines for multimorbidity exist. For the development of these guidelines, it is necessary to know whether or not patients are aware of their diseases and to what extent they agree with their doctor. The objectives of this paper are to analyze the agreement of self-reported and general practitioner-reported chronic conditions among multimorbid patients in primary care, and to discover which patient characteristics are associated with positive agreement.
The MultiCare Cohort Study is a multicenter, prospective, observational cohort study of 3,189 multimorbid patients, ages 65 to 85. Data was collected in personal interviews with patients and GPs. The prevalence proportions for 32 diagnosis groups, kappa coefficients and proportions of specific agreement were calculated in order to examine the agreement of patient self-reported and general practitioner-reported chronic conditions. Logistic regression models were calculated to analyze which patient characteristics can be associated with positive agreement.
We identified four chronic conditions with good agreement (e.g. diabetes mellitus κ = 0.80;PA = 0,87), seven with moderate agreement (e.g. cerebral ischemia/chronic stroke κ = 0.55;PA = 0.60), seventeen with fair agreement (e.g. cardiac insufficiency κ = 0.24;PA = 0.36) and four with poor agreement (e.g. gynecological problems κ = 0.05;PA = 0.10).
Factors associated with positive agreement concerning different chronic diseases were sex, age, education, income, disease count, depression, EQ VAS score and nursing care dependency. For example: Women had higher odds ratios for positive agreement with their GP regarding osteoporosis (OR = 7.16). The odds ratios for positive agreement increase with increasing multimorbidity in almost all of the observed chronic conditions (OR = 1.22-2.41).
For multimorbidity research, the knowledge of diseases with high disagreement levels between the patients’ perceived illnesses and their physicians’ reports is important. The analysis shows that different patient characteristics have an impact on the agreement. Findings from this study should be included in the development of clinical guidelines for multimorbidity aiming to optimize health care. Further research is needed to identify more reasons for disagreement and their consequences in health care.
Agreement; Self-report; Physician report; Chronic diseases; Primary care; Multimorbidity
With increasing life expectancy the number of people affected by multimorbidity rises. Knowledge of factors associated with health-related quality of life in multimorbid people is scarce. We aimed to identify the factors that are associated with self-rated health (SRH) in aged multimorbid primary care patients.
Cross-sectional study with 3,189 multimorbid primary care patients aged from 65 to 85 years recruited in 158 general practices in 8 study centers in Germany. Information about morbidity, risk factors, resources, functional status and socio-economic data were collected in face-to-face interviews. Factors associated with SRH were identified by multivariable regression analyses.
Depression, somatization, pain, limitations of instrumental activities (iADL), age, distress and Body Mass Index (BMI) were inversely related with SRH. Higher levels of physical activity, income and self-efficacy expectation had a positive association with SRH. The only chronic diseases remaining in the final model were Parkinson’s disease and neuropathies. The final model accounted for 35% variance of SRH. Separate analyses for men and women detected some similarities; however, gender specific variation existed for several factors.
In multimorbid patients symptoms and consequences of diseases such as pain and activity limitations, as well as depression, seem to be far stronger associated with SRH than the diseases themselves. High income and self-efficacy expectation are independently associated with better SRH and high BMI and age with low SRH.
MultiCare Cohort study registration:ISRCTN89818205.
Quality of life; Self-assessment; Chronic disease; Depression; Pain; Functionally- impaired elderly; General practice
The aim of this study was to examine whether patients who received a multi-condition collaborative care intervention for chronic illnesses and depression had greater improvement in self-care knowledge and efficacy, and whether greater knowledge and self-efficacy is positively associated with improved target outcomes. A randomized controlled trial with 214 patients with comorbid depression and poorly controlled diabetes and/or coronary heart disease tested a 12-month team-based intervention that combined self-management support and collaborative care management. At 6 and 12 month outcomes the intervention group showed significant improvements over the usual care group in confidence in ability to follow through with medical regimens important to managing their conditions and to maintain lifestyle changes even during times of stress. Improvements in self care-efficacy were significantly related to improvements in depression, and early improvements in confidence to maintain lifestyle changes even during times of stress explained part of the observed subsequent improvements in depression.
self-efficacy; self-management; chronic illness care; collaborative care
The patients’ active participation in their medical care is important for patients with chronic diseases. Measurements of patient activation are needed for studies and in clinical practice. This study aims to validate the Patient Activation Measure 13 (PAM13-D) in German-speaking primary care patients. This international cross-sectional multicentre study enrolled consecutively patients from primary care practices in three German-speaking countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Patients completed the PAM13-D questionnaire. General Self-Efficacy scale (GSE) was used to assess convergent validity. Furthermore Cronbach’s alpha was performed to assess internal consistency. Exploratory factor analysis was used to evaluate the underlying factor structure of the items. We included 508 patients from 16 primary care practices in the final analysis. Results were internally consistent, with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.84. Factor analysis revealed one major underlying factor. The mean values of the PAM13-D correlated significantly (r = 0.43) with those of the GSE. The German PAM13 is a reliable and valid measure of patient activation. Thus, it may be useful in primary care clinical practice and research.
To analyze the impact of multimorbidity (MM) on health care costs taking into account data heterogeneity.
Data come from a multicenter prospective cohort study of 1,050 randomly selected primary care patients aged 65 to 85 years suffering from MM in Germany. MM was defined as co-occurrence of ≥3 conditions from a list of 29 chronic diseases. A conditional inference tree (CTREE) algorithm was used to detect the underlying structure and most influential variables on costs of inpatient care, outpatient care, medications as well as formal and informal nursing care.
Irrespective of the number and combination of co-morbidities, a limited number of factors influential on costs were detected. Parkinson’s disease (PD) and cardiac insufficiency (CI) were the most influential variables for total costs. Compared to patients not suffering from any of the two conditions, PD increases predicted mean total costs 3.5-fold to approximately € 11,000 per 6 months, and CI two-fold to approximately € 6,100. The high total costs of PD are largely due to costs of nursing care. Costs of inpatient care were significantly influenced by cerebral ischemia/chronic stroke, whereas medication costs were associated with COPD, insomnia, PD and Diabetes. Except for costs of nursing care, socio-demographic variables did not significantly influence costs.
Irrespective of any combination and number of co-occurring diseases, PD and CI appear to be most influential on total health care costs in elderly patients with MM, and only a limited number of factors significantly influenced cost.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN89818205
Multiple chronic conditions; Multimorbidity; Co-morbidity; Health care costs; Conditional inference trees; Statistical learning
Multimorbidity is a phenomenon with high burden and high prevalence in the elderly. Our previous research has shown that multimorbidity can be divided into the multimorbidity patterns of 1) anxiety, depression, somatoform disorders (ADS) and pain, and 2) cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. However, it is not yet known, how these patterns are influenced by patient characteristics. The objective of this paper is to analyze the association of socio-demographic variables, and especially socio-economic status with multimorbidity in general and with each multimorbidity pattern.
The MultiCare Cohort Study is a multicentre, prospective, observational cohort study of 3.189 multimorbid patients aged 65+ randomly selected from 158 GP practices. Data were collected in GP interviews and comprehensive patient interviews. Missing values have been imputed by hot deck imputation based on Gower distance in morbidity and other variables. The association of patient characteristics with the number of chronic conditions is analysed by multilevel mixed-effects linear regression analyses.
Multimorbidity in general is associated with age (+0.07 chronic conditions per year), gender (-0.27 conditions for female), education (-0.26 conditions for medium and -0.29 conditions for high level vs. low level) and income (-0.27 conditions per logarithmic unit). The pattern of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders shows comparable associations with a higher coefficient for gender (-1.29 conditions for female), while multimorbidity within the pattern of ADS and pain correlates with gender (+0.79 conditions for female), but not with age or socioeconomic status.
Our study confirms that the morbidity load of multimorbid patients is associated with age, gender and the socioeconomic status of the patients, but there were no effects of living arrangements and marital status. We could also show that the influence of patient characteristics is dependent on the multimorbidity pattern concerned, i.e. there seem to be at least two types of elderly multimorbid patients. First, there are patients with mainly cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, who are more often male, have an older age and a lower socio-economic status. Second, there are patients mainly with ADS and pain-related morbidity, who are more often female and equally distributed across age and socio-economic groups.
Care management programmes are an effective approach to care for high risk patients with complex care needs resulting from multiple co-occurring medical and non-medical conditions. These patients are likely to be hospitalized for a potentially "avoidable" cause. Nurse-led care management programmes for high risk elderly patients showed promising results. Care management programmes based on health care assistants (HCAs) targeting adult patients with a high risk of hospitalisation may be an innovative approach to deliver cost-efficient intensified care to patients most in need.
PraCMan is a cluster randomized controlled trial with primary care practices as unit of randomisation. The study evaluates a complex primary care practice-based care management of patients at high risk for future hospitalizations. Eligible patients either suffer from type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic heart failure or any combination. Patients with a high likelihood of hospitalization within the following 12 months (based on insurance data) will be included in the trial.
During 12 months of intervention patients of the care management group receive comprehensive assessment of medical and non-medical needs and resources as well as regular structured monitoring of symptoms. Assessment and monitoring will be performed by trained HCAs from the participating practices. Additionally, patients will receive written information, symptom diaries, action plans and a medication plan to improve self-management capabilities. This intervention is addition to usual care.
Patients from the control group receive usual care.
Primary outcome is the number of all-cause hospitalizations at 12 months follow-up, assessed by insurance claims data. Secondary outcomes are health-related quality of life (SF12, EQ5D), quality of chronic illness care (PACIC), health care utilisation and costs, medication adherence (MARS), depression status and severity (PHQ-9), self-management capabilities and clinical parameters. Data collection will be performed at baseline, 12 and 24 months (12 months post-intervention).
Practice-based care management for high risk individuals involving trained HCAs appears to be a promising approach to face the needs of an aging population with increasing care demands.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN56104508
Complex care management is seen as an approach to face the challenges of an ageing society with increasing numbers of patients with complex care needs. The Medical Research Council in the United Kingdom has proposed a framework for the development and evaluation of complex interventions that will be used to develop and evaluate a primary care-based complex care management program for chronically ill patients at high risk for future hospitalization in Germany.
Methods and design
We present a multi-method procedure to develop a complex care management program to implement interventions aimed at reducing potentially avoidable hospitalizations for primary care patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or chronic heart failure and a high likelihood of hospitalization. The procedure will start with reflection about underlying precipitating factors of hospitalizations and how they may be targeted by the planned intervention (pre-clinical phase). An intervention model will then be developed (phase I) based on theory, literature, and exploratory studies (phase II). Exploratory studies are planned that entail the recruitment of 200 patients from 10 general practices. Eligible patients will be identified using two ways of 'case finding': software based predictive modelling and physicians' proposal of patients based on clinical experience. The resulting subpopulations will be compared regarding healthcare utilization, care needs and resources using insurance claims data, a patient survey, and chart review. Qualitative studies with healthcare professionals and patients will be undertaken to identify potential barriers and enablers for optimal performance of the complex care management program.
This multi-method procedure will support the development of a primary care-based care management program enabling the implementation of interventions that will potentially reduce avoidable hospitalizations.
Pregnancy is a transition period in a woman's life characterized by increased worries and anxiety. The Cambridge Worry Scale (CWS) was developed to assess the content and extent of maternal worries in pregnancy. It has been increasingly used in studies over recent years. However, a German version has not yet been developed and validated.
The aim of this study was (1) to assess the extent and content of worries in pregnancy on a sample of women in Germany using a translated and adapted version of the Cambridge Worry Scale, and (2) to evaluate the psychometric properties of the German version.
We conducted a cross-sectional study and enrolled 344 pregnant women in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Women filled out structured questionnaires that contained the CWS, the Spielberger-State-Trait-Anxiety Inventory (STAI), as well as questions on their obstetric history. Antenatal records were also analyzed.
The CWS was well understood and easy to fill in. The major worries referred to the process of giving birth (CWS mean value 2.26) and the possibility that something might be wrong with the baby (1.99), followed by coping with the new baby (1.57), going to hospital (1.29) and the possibility of going into labour too early (1.28). The internal consistency of the scale (0.80) was satisfactory, and we found a four-factor structure, similar to previous studies. Tests of convergent validity showed that the German CWS represents a different construct compared with state and trait anxiety but has the desired overlap.
The German CWS has satisfactory psychometric properties. It represents a valuable tool for use in scientific studies and is likely to be useful also to clinicians.
Physician practical support (e.g. setting goals, pro-active follow-up) and communicative support (e.g., empathic listening, eliciting preferences) have been hypothesized to influence diabetes outcomes.
In a prospective observational study, patients rated physician communicative and practical support using a modified Health Care Climate Questionnaire. We assessed whether physicians' characteristic level of practical and communicative support (mean across patients) and each patients' deviation from their physician's mean level of support was associated with glycemic control outcomes. Glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) levels were measured at baseline and at follow-up, about 2 years after baseline.
We analysed 3897 patients with diabetes treated in nine primary care clinics by 106 physicians in an integrated health plan in Western Washington, USA. Physicians' average level of practical support (based on patient ratings of their provider) was associated with significantly lower HbA1c at follow-up, controlling for baseline HbA1c (p = .0401). The percentage of patients with "optimal" and "poor" glycemic control differed significantly across different levels of practical support at follow (p = .022 and p = .028). Communicative support was not associated with differences in HbA1c at follow-up.
This observational study suggests that, in community practice settings, physician differences in practical support may influence glycemic control outcomes among patients with diabetes.
Multimorbidity is a highly frequent condition in older people, but well designed longitudinal studies on the impact of multimorbidity on patients and the health care system have been remarkably scarce in numbers until today. Little is known about the long term impact of multimorbidity on the patients' life expectancy, functional status and quality of life as well as health care utilization over time. As a consequence, there is little help for GPs in adjusting care for these patients, even though studies suggest that adhering to present clinical practice guidelines in the care of patients with multimorbidity may have adverse effects.
The study is designed as a multicentre prospective, observational cohort study of 3.050 patients aged 65 to 85 at baseline with at least three different diagnoses out of a list of 29 illnesses and syndromes. The patients will be recruited in approx. 120 to 150 GP surgeries in 8 study centres distributed across Germany. Information about the patients' morbidity will be collected mainly in GP interviews and from chart reviews. Functional status, resources/risk factors, health care utilization and additional morbidity data will be assessed in patient interviews, in which a multitude of well established standardized questionnaires and tests will be performed.
The main aim of the cohort study is to monitor the course of the illness process and to analyse for which reasons medical conditions are stable, deteriorating or only temporarily present. First, clusters of combinations of diseases/disorders (multimorbidity patterns) with a comparable impact (e.g. on quality of life and/or functional status) will be identified. Then the development of these clusters over time will be analysed, especially with regard to prognostic variables and the somatic, psychological and social consequences as well as the utilization of health care resources. The results will allow the development of an instrument for prediction of the deterioration of the illness process and point at possibilities of prevention. The practical consequences of the study results for primary care will be analysed in expert focus groups in order to develop strategies for the inclusion of the aspects of multimorbidity in primary care guidelines.
Evidence-based guidelines have the potential to improve healthcare. However, their de-novo-development requires substantial resources – especially for complex conditions, and adaptation may be biased by contextually influenced recommendations in source guidelines. In this paper we describe a new approach to guideline development – the systematic guideline review method (SGR), and its application in the development of an evidence-based guideline for family physicians on chronic heart failure (CHF).
A systematic search for guidelines was carried out. Evidence-based guidelines on CHF management in adults in ambulatory care published in English or German between the years 2000 and 2004 were included. Guidelines on acute or right heart failure were excluded. Eligibility was assessed by two reviewers, methodological quality of selected guidelines was appraised using the AGREE instrument, and a framework of relevant clinical questions for diagnostics and treatment was derived. Data were extracted into evidence tables, systematically compared by means of a consistency analysis and synthesized in a preliminary draft. Most relevant primary sources were re-assessed to verify the cited evidence. Evidence and recommendations were summarized in a draft guideline.
Of 16 included guidelines five were of good quality. A total of 35 recommendations were systematically compared: 25/35 were consistent, 9/35 inconsistent, and 1/35 un-rateable (derived from a single guideline). Of the 25 consistencies, 14 were based on consensus, seven on evidence and four differed in grading. Major inconsistencies were found in 3/9 of the inconsistent recommendations. We re-evaluated the evidence for 17 recommendations (evidence-based, differing evidence levels and minor inconsistencies) – the majority was congruent. Incongruity was found where the stated evidence could not be verified in the cited primary sources, or where the evaluation in the source guidelines focused on treatment benefits and underestimated the risks. The draft guideline was completed in 8.5 man-months. The main limitation to this study was the lack of a second reviewer.
The systematic guideline review including framework development, consistency analysis and validation is an effective, valid, and resource saving-approach to the development of evidence-based guidelines.
This study was carried out to compare the HRQoL of patients in general practice with differing chronic diseases with the HRQoL of patients without chronic conditions, to evaluate the HRQoL of general practice patients in Germany compared with the HRQoL of the general population, and to explore the influence of different chronic diseases on patients' HRQoL, independently of the effects of multiple confounding variables.
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey including the SF-36, the EQ-5D and demographic questions was conducted in 20 general practices in Germany. 1009 consecutive patients aged 15–89 participated. The SF-36 scale scores of general practice patients with differing chronic diseases were compared with those of patients without chronic conditions. Differences in the SF-36 scale/summary scores and proportions in the EQ-5D dimensions between patients and the general population were analyzed. Independent effects of chronic conditions and demographic variables on the HRQoL were analyzed using multivariable linear regression and polynomial regression models.
The HRQoL for general practice patients with differing chronic diseases tended to show more physical than mental health impairments compared with the reference group of patients without. Patients in general practice in Germany had considerably lower SF-36 scores than the general population (P < 0.001 for all) and showed significantly higher proportions of problems in all EQ-5D dimensions except for the self-care dimension (P < 0.001 for all). The mean EQ VAS for general practice patients was lower than that for the general population (69.2 versus 77.4, P < 0.001). The HRQoL for general practice patients in Germany seemed to be more strongly affected by diseases like depression, back pain, OA of the knee, and cancer than by hypertension and diabetes.
General practice patients with differing chronic diseases in Germany had impaired quality of life, especially in terms of physical health. The independent impacts on the HRQoL were different depending on the type of chronic disease. Findings from this study might help health professionals to concern more influential diseases in primary care from the patient's perspective.
Chronic congestive heart failure (CHF) is a complex disease with rising prevalence, compromised quality of life (QoL), unplanned hospital admissions, high mortality and therefore high burden of illness. The delivery of care for these patients has been criticized and new strategies addressing crucial domains of care have been shown to be effective on patients' health outcomes, although these trials were conducted in secondary care or in highly organised Health Maintenance Organisations. It remains unclear whether a comprehensive primary care-based case management for the treating general practitioner (GP) can improve patients' QoL.
HICMan is a randomised controlled trial with patients as the unit of randomisation. Aim is to evaluate a structured, standardized and comprehensive complex intervention for patients with CHF in a 12-months follow-up trial.
Patients from intervention group receive specific patient leaflets and documentation booklets as well as regular monitoring and screening by a prior trained practice nurse, who gives feedback to the GP upon urgency. Monitoring and screening address aspects of disease-specific self-management, (non)pharmacological adherence and psychosomatic and geriatric comorbidity. GPs are invited to provide a tailored structured counselling 4 times during the trial and receive an additional feedback on pharmacotherapy relevant to prognosis (data of baseline documentation).
Patients from control group receive usual care by their GPs, who were introduced to guideline-oriented management and a tailored health counselling concept.
Main outcome measurement for patients' QoL is the scale physical functioning of the SF-36 health questionnaire in a 12-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes are the disease specific QoL measured by the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy questionnaire (KCCQ), depression and anxiety disorders (PHQ-9, GAD-7), adherence (EHFScBS and SANA), quality of care measured by an adapted version of the Patient Chronic Illness Assessment of Care questionnaire (PACIC) and NT-proBNP. In addition, comprehensive clinical data are collected about health status, comorbidity, medication and health care utilisation.
As the targeted patient group is mostly cared for and treated by GPs, a comprehensive primary care-based guideline implementation including somatic, psychosomatic and organisational aspects of the delivery of care (HICMAn) is a promising intervention applying proven strategies for optimal care.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN30822978.
Depression is a disorder with high prevalence in primary health care and a significant burden of illness. The delivery of health care for depression, as well as other chronic illnesses, has been criticized for several reasons and new strategies to address the needs of these illnesses have been advocated. Case management is a patient-centered approach which has shown efficacy in the treatment of depression in highly organized Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) settings and which might also be effective in other, less structured settings.
PRoMPT (PRimary care Monitoring for depressive Patients Trial) is a cluster randomised controlled trial with General Practice (GP) as the unit of randomisation. The aim of the study is to evaluate a GP applied case-management for patients with major depressive disorder. 70 GPs were randomised either to intervention group or to control group with the control group delivering usual care. Each GP will include 10 patients suffering from major depressive disorder according to the DSM-IV criteria. The intervention group will receive treatment based on standardized guidelines and monthly telephone monitoring from a trained practice nurse. The nurse investigates the patient's status concerning the MDD criteria, his adherence to GPs prescriptions, possible side effects of medication, and treatment goal attainment. The control group receives usual care – including recommended guidelines. Main outcome measure is the cumulative score of the section depressive disorders (PHQ-9) from the German version of the Prime MD Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-D). Secondary outcome measures are the Beck-Depression-Inventory, self-reported adherence (adapted from Moriskey) and the SF-36. In addition, data are collected about patients' satisfaction (EUROPEP-tool), medication, health care utilization, comorbidity, suicide attempts and days out of work.
The study comprises three assessment times: baseline (T0) , follow-up after 6 months (T1) and follow-up after 12 months (T2).
Depression is now recognized as a disorder with a high prevalence in primary care but with insufficient treatment response. Case management seems to be a promising intervention which has the potential to bridge the gap of the usually time-limited and fragmented provision of care. Case management has been proven to be effective in several studies but its application in the private general medical practice setting remains unclear.