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1.  Editor’s choice 
PMCID: PMC4031990  PMID: 24868045
2.  Self-management support for moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a pilot randomised controlled trial 
The British Journal of General Practice  2012;62(603):e687-e695.
Better self management could improve quality of life (QoL) and reduce hospital admissions in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), but the best way to promote it remains unclear.
To explore the feasibility, effectiveness and cost effectiveness of a novel, layperson-led, theoretically driven COPD self-management support programme.
Design and setting
Pilot randomised controlled trial in one UK primary care trust area.
Patients with moderate to severe COPD were identified through primary care and randomised 2:1 to the 7-week-long, group intervention or usual care. Outcomes at baseline, 2, and 6 months included self-reported health, St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), EuroQol, and exercise.
Forty-four per cent responded to GP invitation, 116 were randomised: mean (standard deviation [SD]) age 69.5 (9.8) years, 46% male, 78% had unscheduled COPD care in the previous year. Forty per cent of intervention patients completed the course; 35% attended no sessions; and 78% participants completed the 6-month follow-up questionnaire. Results suggest that the intervention may increase both QoL (mean EQ-5D change 0.12 (95% confidence interval [CI] = –0.02 to 0.26) higher, intervention versus control) and exercise levels, but not SGRQ score. Economic analyses suggested that with thresholds of £20 000 per quality-adjusted life-year gained, the intervention is likely to be cost-effective.
This intervention has good potential to meet the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence criteria for cost effectiveness, and further research is warranted. However, to make a substantial impact on COPD self-management, it will also be necessary to explore other ways to enable patients to access self-management education.
PMCID: PMC3459776  PMID: 23265228
pilot projects; pulmonary disease, chronic obstructive; randomised controlled trial; self-care; self-management; patient education as topic; primary health care
3.  DHCR7 mutations linked to higher vitamin D status allowed early human migration to Northern latitudes 
Vitamin D is essential for a wide range of physiological processes including immune function and calcium homeostasis. Recent investigations have identified candidate genes which are strongly linked to concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Since there is insufficient UVB radiation to induce year-round cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D at latitudes distant from the equator it is likely that these genes were subject to forces of natural selection. We used the fixation index (FST) to measure differences in allele frequencies in 993 individuals from ten populations to identify the presence of evolutionary selection in genes in the vitamin D pathway. We then explored the length of haplotypes in chromosomes to confirm recent positive selection.
We find evidence of positive selection for DHCR7, which governs availability of 7-dehydrocholesterol for conversion to vitamin D3 by the action of sunlight on the skin. We show that extended haplotypes related to vitamin D status are highly prevalent at Northern latitudes (Europe 0.72, Northeast Asia 0.41). The common DHCR7 haplotype underwent a recent selective sweep in Northeast Asia, with relative extended haplotype homozygosity of 5.03 (99th percentile). In contrast, CYP2R1, which 25-hydroxylates vitamin D, is under balancing selection and we found no evidence of recent selection pressure on GC, which is responsible for vitamin D transport.
Our results suggest that genetic variation in DHCR7 is the major adaptation affecting vitamin D metabolism in recent evolutionary history which helped early humans to avoid severe vitamin D deficiency and enabled them to inhabit areas further from the equator.
PMCID: PMC3708787  PMID: 23837623
Evolutionary selection; Vitamin D; DHCR7; Fixation index; Long range haplotype test
4.  Prenatal Vitamin D Supplementation and Child Respiratory Health: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66627.
Observational studies suggest high prenatal vitamin D intake may be associated with reduced childhood wheezing. We examined the effect of prenatal vitamin D on childhood wheezing in an interventional study.
We randomised 180 pregnant women at 27 weeks gestation to either no vitamin D, 800 IU ergocalciferol daily until delivery or single oral bolus of 200,000 IU cholecalciferol, in an ethnically stratified, randomised controlled trial. Supplementation improved but did not optimise vitamin D status. Researchers blind to allocation assessed offspring at 3 years. Primary outcome was any history of wheeze assessed by validated questionnaire. Secondary outcomes included atopy, respiratory infection, impulse oscillometry and exhaled nitric oxide. Primary analyses used logistic and linear regression.
We evaluated 158 of 180 (88%) offspring at age 3 years for the primary outcome. Atopy was assessed by skin test for 95 children (53%), serum IgE for 86 (48%), exhaled nitric oxide for 62 (34%) and impulse oscillometry of acceptable quality for 51 (28%). We found no difference between supplemented and control groups in risk of wheeze [no vitamin D: 14/50 (28%); any vitamin D: 26/108 (24%) (risk ratio 0.86; 95% confidence interval 0.49, 1.50; P = 0.69)]. There was no significant difference in atopy, eczema risk, lung function or exhaled nitric oxide between supplemented groups and controls.
Prenatal vitamin D supplementation in late pregnancy that had a modest effect on cord blood vitamin D level, was not associated with decreased wheezing in offspring at age three years.
Trial Registration ISRCTN68645785
PMCID: PMC3691177  PMID: 23826104
5.  Prevalence and impact of chronic widespread pain in the Bangladeshi and White populations of Tower Hamlets, East London 
Clinical Rheumatology  2013;32:1375-1382.
The prevalence and impact of chronic pain differ between ethnic groups. We report a study of the comparative prevalence and impact of chronic pain in Bangladeshi, British Bangladeshi and White British/Irish people. We posted a short questionnaire to a random sample of 4,480 patients registered with 16 general practices in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and conducted a longer questionnaire with patients in the waiting areas at those practices. We distinguished between Bangladeshi participants who were born in the UK or had arrived in the UK at the age of 14 or under (British Bangladeshi) and those who arrived in UK at the age of over 14 (Bangladeshi). We obtained 1,223/4,480 (27 %) responses to the short survey and 600/637 (94 %) to the long survey. From the former, the prevalence of chronic pain in the White, British Bangladeshi and Bangladeshi groups was 55, 54 and 72 %, respectively. The corresponding figures from the long survey were 49, 45 and 70 %. Chronic widespread pain was commoner in the Bangladeshi (16 %) than in the White (10 %) or British Bangladeshi (9 %) groups. People with chronic pain experienced poorer quality of life (odds ratio for scoring best possible health vs. good health (or good vs. poor health) 5.6 (95 % confidence interval 3.4 to 9.8)), but we found no evidence of differences between ethnic groups in the impact of chronic pain on the quality of life. Chronic pain is commoner and, of greater severity, in Bangladeshis than in Whites. On most measures in this study, British Bangladeshis resembled the Whites more than the Bangladeshis.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10067-013-2286-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3751214  PMID: 23719834
Chronic pain; Comparative prevalence; Ethnicity; Quality of life
6.  ‘The blue one takes a battering’ why do young adults with asthma overuse bronchodilator inhalers? A qualitative study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(2):e002247.
Overuse of short-acting bronchodilators is internationally recognised as a marker of poor asthma control, high healthcare use and increased risk of asthma death. Young adults with asthma commonly overuse short-acting bronchodilators. We sought to determine the reasons for overuse of bronchodilator inhalers in a sample of young adults with asthma.
Qualitative study using a purposive extreme case sample.
A large urban UK general practice.
Twenty-one adults with moderate asthma, aged 20–32 years. Twelve were high users of short-acting bronchodilators, nine were low users.
Asthma had a major impact on respondents’ lives, disrupting their childhood, family life and career opportunities. High users of short-acting bronchodilators had adapted poorly to having asthma and expressed anger at the restrictions they experienced. Overuse made sense to them: short-acting bronchodilators were a rapid, effective, cheap ‘quick-fix’ for asthma symptoms. High users had poorer control of asthma and held explanatory models of asthma which emphasised short-term relief via bronchodilation over prevention. Both high and low users held strong views about having to pay for asthma medication, with costs cited as a reason for not purchasing anti-inflammatory inhalers.
Young adults who were high users of short-acting bronchodilators had adapted poorly to having asthma and had poor asthma control. They gave coherent reasons for overuse. Strategies that might address high bronchodilator use in young adults include improving education to help young people accept and adapt to their illness, reducing stigmatisation and providing free asthma medication to encourage the use of anti-inflammatory inhalers.
PMCID: PMC3586109  PMID: 23427203
7.  Developing European guidelines for training care professionals in mental health promotion 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1114.
Although mental health promotion is a priority mental health action area for all European countries, high level training resources and high quality skills acquisition in mental health promotion are still relatively rare. The aim of the current paper is to present the results of the DG SANCO-funded PROMISE project concerning the development of European guidelines for training social and health care professionals in mental health promotion.
The PROMISE project brought together a multidisciplinary scientific committee from eight European sites representing a variety of institutions including universities, mental health service providers and public health organisations. The committee used thematic content analysis to filter and analyse European and international policy documents, scientific literature reviews on mental health promotion and existing mental health promotion programmes with regard to identifying quality criteria for training care professionals on this subject. The resulting PROMISE Guidelines quality criteria were then subjected to an iterative feedback procedure with local steering groups and training professionals at all sites with the aim of developing resource kits and evaluation tools for using the PROMISE Guidelines. Scientific committees also collected information from European, national and local stakeholder groups and professional organisations on existing training programmes, policies and projects.
The process identified ten quality criteria for training care professionals in mental health promotion: embracing the principle of positive mental health; empowering community stakeholders; adopting an interdisciplinary and intersectoral approach; including people with mental health problems; advocating; consulting the knowledge base; adapting interventions to local contexts; identifying and evaluating risks; using the media; evaluating training, implementation processes and outcomes. The iterative feedback process produced resource kits and evaluation checklists linked with each of these quality criteria in all PROMISE languages.
The development of generic guidelines based on key quality criteria for training health and social care professionals in mental health promotion should contribute in a significant way to implementing policy in this important area.
PMCID: PMC3553026  PMID: 23270332
Mental health promotion; Training; Best practice guidelines
8.  Impact of Asthma on Educational Attainment in a Socioeconomically Deprived Population: A Study Linking Health, Education and Social Care Datasets 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e43977.
Asthma has the potential to adversely affect children's school examination performance, and hence longer term life chances. Asthma morbidity is especially high amongst UK ethnic minority children and those experiencing social adversity, populations which also have poor educational outcomes. We tested the hypothesis that asthma adversely affects performance in national school examinations in a large cohort from an area of ethnic diversity and social deprivation.
Methods and Findings
With a novel method (using patient and address-matching algorithms) we linked administrative and clinical data for 2002–2005 for children in east London aged 5–14 years to contemporaneous education and social care datasets. We modelled children's performance in school examinations in relation to socio-demographic and clinical variables.
The dataset captured examination performance for 12,136 children who sat at least one national examination at Key Stages 1–3. For illustration, estimates are presented as percentage changes in Key Stage 2 results. Having asthma was associated with a 1.1% increase in examination scores (95%CI 0.4 to 1.7)%,p = 0.02. Worse scores were associated with Bangladeshi ethnicity −1.3%(−2.5 to −0.1)%,p = 0.03; special educational need −14.6%(−15.7 to −13.5)%,p = 0.02; mental health problems −2.5%(−4.1 to −0.9)%,p = 0.003, and social adversity: living in a smoking household −1.2(−1.7 to −0.6)%,p<0.001; living in social housing −0.8%(−1.3 to −0.2)% p = 0.01, and entitlement to free school meals −0.8%(−1.5 to −0.1)%,p<0.001.
Social adversity and ethnicity, but not asthma, are associated with poorer performance in national school examinations. Policies to improve educational attainment in socially deprived areas should focus on these factors.
PMCID: PMC3498297  PMID: 23155367
9.  Collaborative working within UK NHS secondary care and across sectors for COPD and the impact of peer review: qualitative findings from the UK National COPD Resources and Outcomes Project 
We investigated the effects on collaborative work within the UK National Health Service (NHS) of an intervention for service quality improvement: informal, structured, reciprocated, multidisciplinary peer review with feedback and action plans. The setting was care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Theory and methods
We analysed semi-structured interviews with 43 hospital respiratory consultants, nurses and general managers at 24 intervention and 11 control sites, as part of a UK randomised controlled study, the National COPD Resources and Outcomes Project (NCROP), using Scott's conceptual framework for action (inter-organisational, intra-organisational, inter-professional and inter-individual). Three areas of care targeted by NCROP involved collaboration across primary and secondary care.
Hospital respiratory department collaborations with commissioners and hospital managers varied. Analysis suggested that this is related to team responses to barriers. Clinicians in unsuccessful collaborations told ‘atrocity stories’ of organisational, structural and professional barriers to service improvement. The others removed barriers by working with government and commissioner agendas to ensure continued involvement in patients' care. Multidisciplinary peer review facilitated collaboration between participants, enabling them to meet, reconcile differences and exchange ideas across boundaries.
The data come from the first randomised controlled trial of organisational peer review, adding to research into UK health service collaborative work, which has had a more restricted focus on inter-professional relations. NCROP peer review may only modestly improve collaboration but these data suggest it might be more effective than top-down exhortations to change when collaboration both across and within organisations is required.
PMCID: PMC2948684  PMID: 20922063
collaboration; inter-organizational; inter-professional; quality improvement; respiratory disease
10.  How effective are expert patient (lay led) education programmes for chronic disease? 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2007;334(7606):1254-1256.
Considerable hyperbole has surrounded the UK expert patient programme, and it has received considerable funding—but will its impact meet expectations?
PMCID: PMC1892511  PMID: 17569933
11.  Facilitating the Recruitment of Minority Ethnic People into Research: Qualitative Case Study of South Asians and Asthma 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(10):e1000148.
Aziz Sheikh and colleagues report on a qualitative study in the US and the UK to investigate ways to bolster recruitment of South Asians into asthma studies, including making inclusion of diverse populations mandatory.
There is international interest in enhancing recruitment of minority ethnic people into research, particularly in disease areas with substantial ethnic inequalities. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis found that UK South Asians are at three times increased risk of hospitalisation for asthma when compared to white Europeans. US asthma trials are far more likely to report enrolling minority ethnic people into studies than those conducted in Europe. We investigated approaches to bolster recruitment of South Asians into UK asthma studies through qualitative research with US and UK researchers, and UK community leaders.
Methods and Findings
Interviews were conducted with 36 researchers (19 UK and 17 US) from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and ten community leaders from a range of ethnic, religious, and linguistic backgrounds, followed by self-completion questionnaires. Interviews were digitally recorded, translated where necessary, and transcribed. The Framework approach was used for analysis. Barriers to ethnic minority participation revolved around five key themes: (i) researchers' own attitudes, which ranged from empathy to antipathy to (in a minority of cases) misgivings about the scientific importance of the question under study; (ii) stereotypes and prejudices about the difficulties in engaging with minority ethnic populations; (iii) the logistical challenges posed by language, cultural differences, and research costs set against the need to demonstrate value for money; (iv) the unique contexts of the two countries; and (v) poorly developed understanding amongst some minority ethnic leaders of what research entails and aims to achieve. US researchers were considerably more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities, which appeared to a large extent to reflect the longer-term impact of the National Institutes of Health's requirement to include minority ethnic people.
Most researchers and community leaders view the broadening of participation in research as important and are reasonably optimistic about the feasibility of recruiting South Asians into asthma studies provided that the barriers can be overcome. Suggested strategies for improving recruitment in the UK included a considerably improved support structure to provide academics with essential contextual information (e.g., languages of particular importance and contact with local gatekeepers), and the need to ensure that care is taken to engage with the minority ethnic communities in ways that are both culturally appropriate and sustainable; ensuring reciprocal benefits was seen as one key way of avoiding gatekeeper fatigue. Although voluntary measures to encourage researchers may have some impact, greater impact might be achieved if UK funding bodies followed the lead of the US National Institutes of Health requiring recruitment of ethnic minorities. Such a move is, however, likely in the short- to medium-term, to prove unpopular with many UK academics because of the added “hassle” factor in engaging with more diverse populations than many have hitherto been accustomed to.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In an ideal world, everyone would have the same access to health care and the same health outcomes (responses to health interventions). However, health inequalities—gaps in health care and in health between different parts of the population—exist in many countries. In particular, people belonging to ethnic minorities in the UK, the US, and elsewhere have poorer health outcomes for several conditions than people belonging to the ethnic majority (ethnicity is defined by social characteristics such as cultural tradition or national origin). For example, in the UK, people whose ancestors came from the Indian subcontinent (also known as South Asians and comprising in the main of people of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi origin) are three times as likely to be admitted to hospital for asthma as white Europeans. The reasons underpinning ethnic health inequalities are complex. Some inequalities may reflect intrinsic differences between groups of people—some ethnic minorities may inherit genes that alter their susceptibility to a specific disease. Other ethnic health inequalities may arise because of differences in socioeconomic status or because different cultural traditions affect the uptake of health care services.
Why Was This Study Done?
Minority ethnic groups are often under-represented in health research, which could limit the generalizability of research findings. That is, an asthma treatment that works well in a trial where all the participants are white Europeans might not be suitable for South Asians. Clinicians might nevertheless use the treatment in all their patients irrespective of their ethnicity and thus inadvertently increase ethnic health inequality. So, how can ethnic minorities be encouraged to enroll into research studies? In this qualitative study, the investigators try to answer this question by talking to US and UK asthma researchers and UK community leaders about how they feel about enrolling ethnic minorities into research studies. The investigators chose to compare the feelings of US and UK asthma researchers because minority ethnic people are more likely to enroll into US asthma studies than into UK studies, possibly because the US National Institute of Health's (NIH) Revitalization Act 1993 mandates that all NIH-funded clinical research must include people from ethnic minority groups; there is no similar mandatory policy in the UK.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The investigators interviewed 16 UK and 17 US asthma researchers and three UK social researchers with experience of working with ethnic minorities. They also interviewed ten community leaders from diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic backgrounds. They then analyzed the interviews using the “Framework” approach, an analytical method in which qualitative data are classified and organized according to key themes and then interpreted. By comparing the data from the UK and US researchers, the investigators identified several barriers to ethnic minority participation in health research including: the attitudes of researchers towards the scientific importance of recruiting ethnic minority people into health research studies; prejudices about the difficulties of including ethnic minorities in health research; and the logistical challenges posed by language and cultural differences. In general, the US researchers were more positive than their UK counterparts about the importance and logistics of including ethnic minorities in health research. Finally, the investigators found that some community leaders had a poor understanding of what research entails and about its aims.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal a large gap between US and UK researchers in terms of policy, attitudes, practices, and experiences in relation to including ethnic minorities in asthma research. However, they also suggest that most UK researchers and community leaders believe that it is both important and feasible to increase the participation of South Asians in asthma studies. Although some of these findings may have been affected by the study participants sometimes feeling obliged to give “politically correct” answers, these findings are likely to be generalizable to other diseases and to other parts of Europe. Given their findings, the researchers warn that a voluntary code of practice that encourages the recruitment of ethnic minority people into health research studies is unlikely to be successful. Instead, they suggest, the best way to increase the representation of ethnic minority people in health research in the UK might be to follow the US lead and introduce a policy that requires their inclusion in such research.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Families USA, a US nonprofit organization that campaigns for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, has information about many aspects of minority health in the US, including an interactive game about minority health issues
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has a section on minority health
The UK Department of Health provides information on health inequalities and a recent report on the experiences of patients in Black and minority ethnic groups
The UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology also has a short article on ethnicity and health
Information on the NIH Revitalization Act 1993 is available
NHS Evidences Ethnicity and Health has a variety of policy, clinical, and research resources on ethnicity and health
PMCID: PMC2752116  PMID: 19823568
12.  The new tuberculosis 
PMCID: PMC2034167  PMID: 17263924
13.  Withdrawal of inhaled corticosteroids in people with COPD in primary care: a randomised controlled trial 
Respiratory Research  2007;8(1):93.
Guidelines recommend inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Most COPD patients are managed in primary care and receive ICS long-term and irrespective of severity. The effect of withdrawing ICS from COPD patients in primary care is unknown.
In a pragmatic randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in 31 practices, 260 COPD patients stopped their usual ICS (median duration of use 8 years) and were allocated to 500 mcg fluticasone propionate twice daily (n = 128), or placebo (n = 132). Follow-up assessments took place at three monthly intervals for a year at the patients' practice. Our primary outcome was COPD exacerbation frequency. Secondary outcomes were time to first COPD exacerbation, reported symptoms, peak expiratory flow rate and reliever inhaler use, and lung function and health related quality of life.
In patients randomised to placebo, COPD exacerbation risk over one year was RR: 1.11 (CI: 0.91–1.36). Patients taking placebo were more likely to return to their usual ICS following exacerbation, placebo: 61/128 (48%); fluticasone: 34/132 (26%), OR: 2.35 (CI: 1.38–4.05). Exacerbation risk whilst taking randomised treatment was significantly raised in the placebo group 1.48 (CI: 1.17–1.86). Patients taking placebo exacerbated earlier (median time to first exacerbation: placebo (days): 44 (CI: 29–59); fluticasone: 63 (CI: 53–74), log rank 3.81, P = 0.05) and reported increased wheeze. In a post-hoc analysis, patients with mild COPD taking placebo had increased exacerbation risk RR: 1.94 (CI: 1.20–3.14).
Withdrawal of long-term ICS in COPD patients in primary care increases risk of exacerbation shortens time to exacerbation and causes symptom deterioration. Patients with mild COPD may be at increased risk of exacerbation after withdrawal.
Trial Registration NCT00440687
PMCID: PMC2245934  PMID: 18162137
14.  Randomised controlled trial of a lay-led self-management programme for Bangladeshi patients with chronic disease 
Reducing the impact of chronic disease in minority ethnic groups is an important public health challenge. Lay-led education may overcome cultural and language barriers that limit the effectiveness of professionally–led programmes. We report the first randomised trial of a lay-led self-management programme — the Chronic Disease Self-Management Programme (CDSMP) (Expert Patient Programme) — in a south Asian group.
To determine the effectiveness of a culturally-adapted lay–led self-management programme for Bangladeshi adults with chronic disease.
Design of study
Randomised controlled trial.
Tower Hamlets, east London.
We recruited Bangladeshi adults with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease or arthritis from general practices and randomised them to the CDSMP or waiting-list control. Self-efficacy (primary outcome), self-management behaviour, communication with clinician, depression scores, and healthcare use were assessed by blinded interviewer-administered questionnaires in Sylheti before randomisation and 4 months later.
Of the 1363 people invited, 476 (34%) agreed to take part and 92% (439/476) of participants were followed up. The programme improved self-efficacy (difference: 0.67, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.08 to 1.25) and self-management behaviour (0.53; 95% CI = 0.01 to 1.06). In the 51% (121/238) of intervention participants attending three or more of the 6-weekly education sessions the programme led to greater improvements in self-efficacy (1.47; 95% CI = 0.50 to 1.82) and self-management behaviour (1.16; 95% CI = 0.50 to 1.82), and reduced HADS depression scores (0.64; 95% CI = 0.07 to 1.22). Communication and healthcare use were not significantly different between groups. The programme cost £123 (€181) per participant.
A culturally-adapted CDSMP improves self-efficacy and self-care behaviour in Bangladeshi patients with chronic disease. Effects on health status were marginal. Benefits were limited by moderate uptake and attendance.
PMCID: PMC1570787  PMID: 16281998
chronic disease; ethnic groups; self care
15.  Ethical principles and the rationing of health care: a qualitative study in general practice 
Researching sensitive topics, such as the rationing of treatments and denial of care, raises a number of ethical and methodological problems.
To describe the methods and findings from a number of focus group discussions that examined how GPs apply ethical principles when allocating scarce resources.
Design of study
A small-scale qualitative study involving purposive sampling, semi-structured interviews and focus groups.
Twenty-four GPs from two contrasting areas of London: one relatively affluent and one relatively deprived.
Initial interviews asked GPs to identify key resource allocation issues. The interviews were transcribed and themes were identified. A number of case studies, each illustrative of an ethical issue related to rationing, were written up in the form of vignettes. In focus group discussions, GPs were given a number of these vignettes to debate.
With respect to the ethical basis for decision making, the findings from this part of the study emphasised the role of social and psychological factors, the influence of the quality of the relationship between GPs and patients and confusion among GPs about their role in decision making.
The use of vignettes developed from prior interviews with GPs creates a non-threatening environment to discuss sensitive or controversial issues. The acceptance by GPs of general moral principles does not entail clarity of coherence of the application of these principles in practice.
PMCID: PMC1463218  PMID: 16105371
decision making; ethics; focus groups; healthcare rationing
16.  Effectiveness of innovations in nurse led chronic disease management for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: systematic review of evidence 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;331(7515):485.
Objective To determine the effectiveness of innovations in management of chronic disease involving nurses for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.
Data sources 24 electronic databases searched for English or Dutch language studies published between January 1980 and January 2005.
Review methods Included studies described inpatient, outpatient, and community based interventions for chronic disease management that were led, coordinated, or delivered by nurses. Hospital at home and early discharge schemes for acute exacerbations of COPD were excluded.
Results We identified nine relevant randomised controlled trials, most of which had some potential methodological flaws. All the interventions seemed to be variations on a case management model. The interventions described could be divided into brief (one month) and longer term (around a year) or more intensive interventions. Only two studies examined the effect of brief interventions, these found little evidence of any benefit. Meta-analysis of the long term interventions failed to detect any influence on mortality at 9-12 months' follow-up (Peto odds ratio 0.85, 95% confidence interval 0.58 to 1.26). There was evidence that the long term interventions had not improved patients' health related quality of life, psychological wellbeing, disability, or pulmonary function. The evidence on whether long term interventions reduced readmissions to hospital was equivocal, but the only study exclusively directed at patients on long term oxygen therapy reported a reduction in readmission. We identified several outcomes where little or no evidence was available; these included patients' satisfaction, self management skills, adherence with treatment recommendations, the likelihood of smoking cessation, and the effect of the interventions on carers.
Conclusion There is little evidence to date to support the widespread implementation of nurse led management interventions for COPD, but the data are too sparse to exclude any clinically relevant benefit or harm arising from such interventions.
PMCID: PMC1199024  PMID: 16093253
17.  Specialist nurse intervention to reduce unscheduled asthma care in a deprived multiethnic area: the east London randomised controlled trial for high risk asthma (ELECTRA) 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7432):144.
Objective To determine whether asthma specialist nurses, using a liaison model of care, reduce unscheduled care in a deprived multiethnic area.
Design Cluster randomised controlled trial.
Setting 44 general practices in two boroughs in east London.
Participants 324 people aged 4-60 years admitted to or attending hospital or the general practitioner out of hours service with acute asthma; 164 (50%) were South Asian patients, 108 (34%) were white patients, and 52 (16%) were from other, largely African and Afro-Caribbean, ethnicities.
Intervention Patient review in a nurse led clinic and liaison with general practitioners and practice nurses comprising educational outreach, promotion of guidelines for high risk asthma, and ongoing clinical support. Control practices received a visit promoting standard asthma guidelines; control patients were checked for inhaler technique.
Main outcome measures Percentage of participants receiving unscheduled care for acute asthma over one year and time to first unscheduled attendance.
Results Primary outcome data were available for 319 of 324 (98%) participants. Intervention delayed time to first attendance with acute asthma (hazard ratio 0.73, 95% confidence interval 0.54 to 1.00; median 194 days for intervention and 126 days for control) and reduced the percentage of participants attending with acute asthma (58% (101/174) v 68% (99/145); odds ratio 0.62, 0.38 to 1.01). In analyses of prespecified subgroups the difference in effect on ethnic groups was not significant, but results were consistent with greater benefit for white patients than for South Asian patients or those from other ethnic groups.
Conclusion Asthma specialist nurses using a liaison model of care reduced unscheduled care for asthma in a deprived multiethnic health district. Ethnic groups may not benefit equally from specialist nurse intervention.
PMCID: PMC314511  PMID: 14718266
18.  Boosting uptake of influenza immunisation: a randomised controlled trial of telephone appointing in general practice. 
BACKGROUND: Immunisation against influenza is an effective intervention that reduces serologically confirmed cases by between 60% and 70%. Almost all influenza immunisation in the UK is done within general practice. Current evidence on the effectiveness of patient reminders for all types of immunisation programmes is largely based on North American studies. AIM: To determine whether telephone appointments offered bygeneral practice receptionists increase the uptake of irfluenza immunisation among the registered population aged over 65 years in east London practices. DESIGN OF STUDY: Randomised controlled trial. SETTING: Three research general practices within the East London and Essex network of researchers (ELENoR). METHOD: Participants were 1,820 low-risk patients aged 65 to 74 years who had not previously been in a recall system for influenza immunisation at their general practice. The intervention, during October 2000, was a telephone call from the practice receptionist to intervention group households, offering an appointment for influenza immunisation at a nurse-run. clinic Main outcome measures were the numbers of individuals in each group receiving immunisation, and practice costs of a telephone-appointing programme. RESULTS: intention to treat analysis showed an immunisation rate in the control group of 44%, compared with 50% in the intervention group (odds ratio = 1.29, 95% confidence interval = 1.03 to 1.63). Of the patients making a telephone appointment, 88% recieved immunisation, while 22% of those not wanting an appointment went on to be immunised. In the controlgroup, income generated was 11.35 pounds per immunisation, for each additional immunisation in the intervention group the income was 5.20 pounds. The 'number needed to telephone' was 17. CONCLUSION: Uptake of influenza immunisation among the low-risk older population in inner-city areas can be boosted by around 6% using a simple intervention by receptionists. Immunisation rates in this low-risk group fell well short of the 60% government target. Improving immunisation rates will require a sustained public health campaign. Retaining the item-of-service payments to practices should support costs of practice-based interventions.
PMCID: PMC1314410  PMID: 12236273
19.  Influences on hospital admission for asthma in south Asian and white adults: qualitative interview study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2001;323(7319):962.
To explore reasons for increased risk of hospital admission among south Asian patients with asthma.
Qualitative interview study using modified critical incident technique and framework analysis.
Newham, east London, a deprived area with a large mixed south Asian population.
58 south Asian and white adults with asthma (49 admitted to hospital with asthma, 9 not admitted); 17 general practitioners; 5 accident and emergency doctors; 2 out of hours general practitioners; 1 asthma specialist nurse.
Main outcome measures
Patients' and health professionals' views on influences on admission, events leading to admission, general practices' organisation and asthma strategies, doctor-patient relationship, and cultural attitudes to asthma.
South Asian and white patients admitted to hospital coped differently with asthma. South Asians described less confidence in controlling their asthma, were unfamiliar with the concept of preventive medication, and often expressed less confidence in their general practitioner. South Asians managed asthma exacerbations with family advocacy, without systematic changes in prophylaxis, and without systemic corticosteroids. Patients describing difficulty accessing primary care during asthma exacerbations were registered with practices with weak strategies for asthma care and were often south Asian. Patients with easy access described care suggesting partnerships with their general practitioner, had better confidence to control asthma, and were registered with practices with well developed asthma strategies that included policies for avoiding hospital admission.
The different ways of coping with asthma exacerbations and accessing care may partly explain the increased risk of hospital admission in south Asian patients. Interventions that increase confidence to control asthma, confidence in the general practitioner, understanding of preventive treatment, and use of systemic corticosteroids in exacerbations may reduce hospital admissions. Development of more sophisticated asthma strategies by practices with better access and partnerships with patients may also achieve this.
What is already known on this topicSouth Asian patients with asthma are at increased risk of hospital admission with asthma compared with white patientsNo consistent differences in severity or prevalence of asthma, prescribed drugs, or asthma education have been described, and interventions to reduce admission rates in Asian patients have met with variable successWhat this study addsCompared with white patients, south Asian patients admitted to hospital with asthma had less confidence to control asthma, were unfamiliar with the concept of preventive medication, and had less confidence in their general practitionersSouth Asian patients managed asthma attacks through family advocacy and without systematic changes in prophylaxis and without systemic corticosteroidsPatients reporting difficulty in accessing primary care during attacks were often south Asian
PMCID: PMC59689  PMID: 11679384
21.  Effect of postal prompts to patients and general practitioners on the quality of primary care after a coronary event (POST): randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7197):1522-1526.
To determine whether postal prompts to patients who have survived an acute coronary event and to their general practitioners improve secondary prevention of coronary heart disease.
Randomised controlled trial.
52 general practices in east London, 44 of which had received facilitation of local guidelines for coronary heart disease.
328 patients admitted to hospital for myocardial infarction or unstable angina.
Postal prompts sent 2 weeks and 3 months after discharge from hospital. The prompts contained recommendations for lowering the risk of another coronary event, including changes to lifestyle, drug treatment, and making an appointment to discuss these issues with the general practitioner or practice nurse.
Main outcome measures
Proportion of patients in whom serum cholesterol concentrations were measured; proportion of patients prescribed β blockers (6 months after discharge); and proportion of patients prescribed cholesterol lowering drugs (1 year after discharge).
Prescribing of β bockers (odds ratio 1.7, 95% confidence interval 0.8 to 3.0, P>0.05) and cholesterol lowering drugs (1.7, 0.8 to 3.4, P>0.05) did not differ between intervention and control groups. A higher proportion of patients in the intervention group (64%) than in the control group (38%) had their serum cholesterol concentrations measured (2.9, 1.5 to 5.5, P<0.001). Secondary outcomes were significantly improved for consultations for coronary heart disease, the recording of risk factors, and advice given. There were no significant differences in patients’ self reported changes to lifestyle or to the belief that it is possible to modify the risk of another coronary event.
Postal prompts to patients who had had acute coronary events and to their general practitioners in a locality where guidelines for coronary heart disease had been disseminated did not improve prescribing of effective drugs for secondary prevention or self reported changes to lifestyle. The prompts did increase consultation rates related to coronary heart disease and the recording of risk factors in the practices. Effective secondary prevention of coronary heart disease requires more than postal prompts and the dissemination of guidelines.
Key messages Postal prompts to patients and their general practitioners about effective secondary prevention after a myocardial infarction did not improve the prescribing of cholesterol lowering drugs and β blockers The prompts did improve general practice recording of cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle advice given to patients, but they made no difference to patients’ reports of changes to lifestyle Other methods are needed to improve the quality of secondary prevention of coronary heart disease in general practice
PMCID: PMC27895  PMID: 10356008
22.  Using clinical guidelines 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7185):728-730.
PMCID: PMC1115154  PMID: 10074024

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