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1.  Predictors of dropout in the German disease management program for type 2 diabetes 
Background
To improve and assess the effectiveness of disease management programs (DMPs), it is critical to understand how many people drop out of disease management programs and why.
Methods
We used routine data provided by a statutory health insurance fund from the regions North Rhine, North Wurttemberg and Hesse. As part of the German DMP for type 2 diabetes, the insurance fund received regular documentation of all members participating in the program. We followed 10,989 patients who enrolled in the DMP between July 2004 and December 2005 until the end of 2007 to study how many patients dropped out of the program. Dropout was defined based on the discontinuation of program documentation on a particular patient, excluding situations in which the patient died or left the insurance fund. Predictors of dropout, assessed at the time of program enrolment, were explored using logistic regression analysis.
Results
5.5% of the patients dropped out of the disease management program within the observation period. Predictors of dropout at the time of enrolment were: region; retirement status; the number of secondary diseases; presence of a disabling secondary disease; doctor's recommendations to stop smoking or to seek nutritional counselling; and the completion and outcome of the routine foot and eye exams. Different trends of dropout were observed among retired and employed patients: retired patients of old age, who possibly drop out of the program due to other health care priorities and employed people of younger age who have not yet developed many secondary diseases, but were recommended to change their lifestyle.
Conclusions
Overall, dropout rates for the German disease management programs for type 2 diabetes were low compared to other studies. Factors assessed at the time of program enrolment were predictive of later dropout and should be further studied to provide information for future program improvements.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-8
PMCID: PMC3330004  PMID: 22233930
2.  The Systematic Guideline Review: Method, rationale, and test on chronic heart failure 
Background
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).
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-74
PMCID: PMC2698839  PMID: 19426504
3.  Health-related quality of life among general practice patients with differing chronic diseases in Germany: Cross sectional survey 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:246.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-246
PMCID: PMC2515099  PMID: 18638419
4.  Colorectal cancer stage at diagnosis in migrants versus non-migrants (KoMigra): study protocol of a cross-sectional study in Germany 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:123.
Background
In Germany, about 20% of the total population have a migration background. Differences exist between migrants and non-migrants in terms of health care access and utilisation. Colorectal cancer is the second most common malignant tumour in Germany, and incidence, staging and survival chances depend, amongst other things, on ethnicity and lifestyle. The current study investigates whether stage at diagnosis differs between migrants and non-migrants with colorectal cancer in an area of high migration and attempts to identify factors that can explain any differences.
Methods/Design
Data on tumour and migration status will be collected for 1,200 consecutive patients that have received a new, histologically verified diagnosis of colorectal cancer in a high migration area in Germany in the previous three months. The recruitment process is expected to take 16 months and will include gastroenterological private practices and certified centres for intestinal diseases. Descriptive and analytical analysis will be performed: the distribution of variables for migrants versus non-migrants and participants versus non-participants will be analysed using appropriate χ2-, t-, F- or Wilcoxon tests. Multivariable, logistic regression models will be performed, with the dependent variable being the dichotomized stage of the tumour (UICC stage I versus more advanced than UICC stage I). Odds ratios and associated 95%-confidence intervals will be calculated. Furthermore, ordered logistic regression models will be estimated, with the exact stage of the tumour at diagnosis as the dependent variable. Predictors used in the ordered logistic regression will be patient characteristics that are specific to migrants as well as patient characteristics that are not. Interaction models will be estimated in order to investigate whether the effects of patient characteristics on stage of tumour at the time of the initial diagnosis is different in migrants, compared to non-migrants.
Discussion
An association of migration status or other socioeconomic variables with stage at diagnosis of colorectal cancer would be an important finding with respect to equal health care access among migrants. It would point to access barriers or different symptom appraisal and, in the long term, could contribute to the development of new health care concepts for migrants.
Trial registration
German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00005056.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-123
PMCID: PMC3939398  PMID: 24559172
Colorectal cancer; Cross-sectional; Observational study; Ethnicity; Hard-to-reach population; Health care access; Migrants
5.  How to improve drug dosing for patients with renal impairment in primary care - a cluster-randomized controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:91.
Background
Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) are at increased risk for inappropriate or potentially harmful prescribing. The aim of this study was to examine whether a multifaceted intervention including the use of a software programme for the estimation of creatinine clearance and recommendation of individual dosage requirements may improve correct dosage adjustment of relevant medications for patients with CKD in primary care.
Methods
A cluster-randomized controlled trial was conducted between January and December 2007 in small primary care practices in Germany. Practices were randomly allocated to intervention or control groups. In each practice, we included patients with known CKD and elderly patients (≥70 years) suffering from hypertension. The practices in the intervention group received interactive training and were provided a software programme to assist with individual dose adjustment. The control group performed usual care. Data were collected at baseline and at 6 months. The outcome measures, analyzed across individual patients, included prescriptions exceeding recommended maximum daily doses, with the primary outcome being prescriptions exceeding recommended standard daily doses by more than 30%.
Results
Data from 44 general practitioners and 404 patients are included. The intervention was effective in reducing prescriptions exceeding the maximum daily dose per patients, with a trend in reducing prescriptions exceeding the standard daily dose by more than 30%.
Conclusions
A multifaceted intervention including the use of a software program effectively reduced inappropriately high doses of renally excreted medications in patients with CKD in the setting of small primary care practices.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN02900734
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-91
PMCID: PMC3515431  PMID: 22953792
6.  Primary care management for optimized antithrombotic treatment [PICANT]: study protocol for a cluster-randomized controlled trial 
Background
Antithrombotic treatment is a continuous therapy that is often performed in general practice and requires careful safety management. The aim of this study is to investigate whether a best-practice model that applies major elements of case management and patient education, can improve antithrombotic management in primary healthcare in terms of reducing major thromboembolic and bleeding events.
Methods
This 24-month cluster-randomized trial will be performed with 690 adult patients from 46 practices. The trial intervention will be a complex intervention involving general practitioners, healthcare assistants, and patients with an indication for oral anticoagulation. To assess adherence to medication and symptoms in patients, as well as to detect complications early, healthcare assistants will be trained in case management and will use the Coagulation-Monitoring List (Co-MoL) to regularly monitor patients. Patients will receive information (leaflets and a video), treatment monitoring via the Co-MoL and be motivated to perform self-management. Patients in the control group will continue to receive treatment as usual from their general practitioners. The primary endpoint is the combined endpoint of all thromboembolic events requiring hospitalization and all major bleeding complications. Secondary endpoints are mortality, hospitalization, strokes, major bleeding and thromboembolic complications, severe treatment interactions, the number of adverse events, quality of anticoagulation, health-related quality of life, and costs. Further secondary objectives will be investigated to explain the mechanism by which the intervention is effective: patients’ assessment of chronic illness care, self-reported adherence to medication, general practitioners’ and healthcare assistants’ knowledge, and patients’ knowledge and satisfaction with shared decision making.
Practice recruitment is expected to take place between July and December 2012. Recruitment of eligible patients will start in July 2012. Assessment will occur at three time points: baseline and follow-up after 12 months and after 24 months.
Discussion
The efficacy and effectiveness of individual elements of the intervention, such as antithrombotic interventions, self-management concepts in orally anticoagulated patients, and the methodological tool of case management, have already been extensively demonstrated. This project foresees the combination of several proven instruments, as a result of which we expect to profit from a reduction in the major complications associated with antithrombotic treatment.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN41847489
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-79
PMCID: PMC3499320  PMID: 22929015
Oral anticoagulation; Best-practice model; Case management
7.  Primary care practice-based care management for chronically ill patients (PraCMan): study protocol for a cluster randomized controlled trial [ISRCTN56104508] 
Trials  2011;12:163.
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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).
Discussion
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.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN56104508
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-12-163
PMCID: PMC3141533  PMID: 21714883
8.  Development of a primary care-based complex care management intervention for chronically ill patients at high risk for hospitalization: a study protocol 
Background
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.
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-70
PMCID: PMC2949784  PMID: 20858242
9.  The German MultiCare-study: Patterns of multimorbidity in primary health care – protocol of a prospective cohort study 
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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.
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-145
PMCID: PMC3224741  PMID: 19671164
10.  Case management for the treatment of patients with major depression in general practices – rationale, design and conduct of a cluster randomized controlled trial – PRoMPT (Primary care Monitoring for depressive Patient's Trial) [ISRCTN66386086] – Study protocol 
BMC Public Health  2005;5:101.
Background
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.
Methods/Design
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).
Discussion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-5-101
PMCID: PMC1262729  PMID: 16207375

Results 1-10 (10)