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1.  Sensitivity and specificity of Norwegian optometrists’ evaluation of diabetic retinopathy in single-field retinal images – a cross-sectional experimental study 
Background
In the working age group, diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of visual impairment. Regular eye examinations and early treatment of retinopathy can prevent visual loss, so screening for diabetic retinopathy is cost-effective. Dilated retinal digital photography with the additional use of ophthalmoscopy is the most effective and robust method of diabetic retinopathy screening. The aim of this study was to estimate the sensitivity and specificity of diabetic retinopathy screening when performed by Norwegian optometrists.
Methods
This study employed a cross-sectional experimental design. Seventy-four optometrists working in private optometric practice were asked to screen 14 single-field retinal images for possible diabetic retinopathy. The screening was undertaken using a web-based visual identification and management of ophthalmological conditions (VIMOC) examination. The images used in the VIMOC examination were selected from a population survey and had been previously examined by two independent ophthalmologists. In order to establish a “gold standard”, images were only chosen for use in the VIMOC examination if they had elicited diagnostic agreement between the two independent ophthalmologists. To reduce the possibility of falsely high specificity occurring by chance, half the presented images were of retinas that were not affected by diabetic retinopathy. Sensitivity and specificity for diabetic retinopathy was calculated with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results
The mean (95%CI) sensitivity for identifying eyes with any diabetic retinopathy was 67% (62% to 72%). The mean (95%CI) specificity for identifying eyes without diabetic retinopathy was 84% (80% to 89%). The mean (95%CI) sensitivity for identifying eyes with mild non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy or moderate non-proliferative diabetes was 54% (47% to 61%) and 100%, respectively. Only four optometrists (5%) met the required standard of at least 80% sensitivity and 95% specificity that has been previously set for diabetic retinopathy screening programmes.
Conclusions
The evaluation of retinal images for diabetic retinopathy by Norwegian optometrists does not meet the required screening standard of at least 80% sensitivity and 95% specificity. The introduction of measures to improve this situation could have implications for both formal optometric training and continuing optometric professional education.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-17
PMCID: PMC3562149  PMID: 23305337
Diabetic retinopathy; Optometrist; Sensitivity; Specificity; Retinal images; Case finding; Screening
2.  The Influence of Physician Communication Style on Overweight Patients’ Perceptions of Length of Encounter and Physician Being Rushed 
Family Medicine  2012;44(3):183-188.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
Little is known about how patients and physicians perceive time and the extent to which they perceive the physician being rushed during encounters. One aim of this paper is to examine whether patient and physician characteristics and physician communication influence patient perception of the duration of the encounter and their perception of physicians being rushed. Another aim is to examine the relationship between patient and physician perceptions of physicians feeling rushed.
METHODS
We audiorecorded 461 encounters of overweight or obese patients with 40 primary care physicians and included 320 encounters in which weight was discussed. We calculated time spent with physician and coded all communication about weight using the Motivational Interview Treatment Integrity scale (MITI). Patients completed post-visit questionnaires in which they reported the estimated duration of the encounter and how rushed they thought the physician was during the encounter. Physicians reported how rushed they felt.
RESULTS
Patients estimated encounters to be longer than they actually were by an average of 2.6 minutes (SD=11.0). When physicians used reflective statements when discussing weight, patients estimated the encounter to be shorter than when physicians did not use reflective statements (1.17 versus 4.56 minutes more than actual duration). Whites perceived the encounter as shorter than African Americans (1.45 versus 4.28 minutes more than actual duration). Physicians felt rushed in 66% of visits; however, most patients did not perceive this. Internists were perceived to be more rushed than family physicians.
CONCLUSIONS
There is wide variation in patients’ ability to estimate the length of time they spend with their physician. Some physician and patient characteristics were related to patient perceptions of the length of the encounter. Reflective statements might lead patients to perceive encounters as shorter. Physicians, especially family physicians, appear able to conceal that they are feeling rushed.
PMCID: PMC3363284  PMID: 22399481
3.  Physician Empathy and Listening: Associations with Patient Satisfaction and Autonomy 
Purpose
Motivational Interviewing (MI) is used to help patients change their behaviors. We sought to determine if physician use of specific MI techniques increases patient satisfaction with the physician and perceived autonomy.
Methods
We audio-recorded preventive and chronic care encounters between 40 primary care physicians and 320 of their overweight or obese patients. We coded use of MI techniques (eg, empathy, reflective listening). We assessed patient satisfaction and how much the patient felt the physician supported him or her to change. Generalized estimating equation models with logit links were used to examine associations between MI techniques and patient perceived autonomy and satisfaction.
Results
Patients whose physicians were rated as more empathic had higher rates of high satisfaction than patients whose physicians were less empathic (29% vs 11%; P = .004). Patients whose physicians made any reflective statements had higher rates of high autonomy support than those whose physicians did not (46% vs 30%; P = .006).
Conclusions
When physicians used reflective statements, patients were more likely to perceive high autonomy support. When physicians were empathic, patients were more likely to report high satisfaction with the physician. These results suggest that physician training in MI techniques could potentially improve patient perceptions and outcomes.
doi:10.3122/jabfm.2011.06.110025
PMCID: PMC3363295  PMID: 22086809
Counseling; Empathy; Patient Satisfaction; Reflective Listening
4.  Courteous but not curious: how doctors' politeness masks their existential neglect. A qualitative study of video-recorded patient consultations 
Journal of Medical Ethics  2011;37(11):650-654.
Objective
To study how doctors care for their patients, both medically and as fellow humans, through observing their conduct in patient–doctor encounters.
Design
Qualitative study in which 101 videotaped consultations were observed and analysed using a Grounded Theory approach, generating explanatory categories through a hermeneutical analysis of the taped consultations.
Setting
A 500-bed general teaching hospital in Norway.
Participants
71 doctors working in clinical non-psychiatric departments and their patients.
Results
The doctors were concerned about their patients' health and how their medical knowledge could be of service. This medical focus often over-rode other important aspects of the consultations, especially existential elements. The doctors actively directed the focus away from their patients' existential concerns onto medical facts and rarely addressed the personal aspects of a patient's condition, treating them in a biomechanical manner. At the same time, however, the doctors attended to their patients with courteousness, displaying a polite and friendly attitude and emphasising the relationship between them.
Conclusions
The study suggests that the main failing of patient–doctor encounters is not a lack of courteous manners, but the moral offence patients experience when existential concerns are ignored. Improving doctors' social and communication skills cannot resolve this moral problem, which appears to be intrinsically bound to modern medical practice. Acknowledging this moral offence would, however, be the first step towards minimising the effects thereof.
doi:10.1136/jme.2010.041988
PMCID: PMC3198010  PMID: 21610269
Applied and professional ethics; philosophy of medicine; professional—professional relationship
5.  Introducing PACS to the Late Majority. A Longitudinal Study 
The purpose of this study was to study whether the benefits from introducing a picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) reported by innovators and early adopters also can be achieved by a hospital belonging to the “late majority” and to see whether such benefits are sustained, using report turnaround time (RTAT) as an indicator. Activity-related data was retrieved from the radiology information system (RIS) over a 2-year period. The median RTAT for preliminary reports was initially reduced from 12 to 2 h then increased to 3 h. For final reports, the median RTAT was initially reduced from 23 to 13 h then gradually reverted back to 22 h. Innovators and early adopters demonstrate not only that positive results can be achieved but also the importance of involving key personnel. We believe that such involvement and the focus on wider organizational concerns are important when introducing PACS to the late majority, both for achieving and sustaining positive results.
doi:10.1007/s10278-008-9160-x
PMCID: PMC3043748  PMID: 18979133
Radiology information systems (RIS); radiology reporting; radiology workflow; PACS; cost effectiveness; medical informatics applications
6.  Does improved access to diagnostic imaging results reduce hospital length of stay? A retrospective study 
Background
One year after the introduction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support diagnostic imaging at our hospital, clinicians had faster and better access to radiology reports and images; direct access to Computed Tomography (CT) reports in the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) was particularly popular. The objective of this study was to determine whether improvements in radiology reporting and clinical access to diagnostic imaging information one year after the ICT introduction were associated with a reduction in the length of patients' hospital stays (LOS).
Methods
Data describing hospital stays and diagnostic imaging were collected retrospectively from the EMR during periods of equal duration before and one year after the introduction of ICT. The post-ICT period was chosen because of the documented improvement in clinical access to radiology results during that period. The data set was randomly split into an exploratory part used to establish the hypotheses, and a confirmatory part. The data was used to compare the pre-ICT and post-ICT status, but also to compare differences between groups.
Results
There was no general reduction in LOS one year after ICT introduction. However, there was a 25% reduction for one group - patients with CT scans. This group was heterogeneous, covering 445 different primary discharge diagnoses. Analyses of subgroups were performed to reduce the impact of this divergence.
Conclusion
Our results did not indicate that improved access to radiology results reduced the patients' LOS. There was, however, a significant reduction in LOS for patients undergoing CT scans. Given the clinicians' interest in CT reports and the results of the subgroup analyses, it is likely that improved access to CT reports contributed to this reduction.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-262
PMCID: PMC2944270  PMID: 20819224
7.  The need for better analysis of observational studies in orthopedics 
Acta Orthopaedica  2010;81(3):377-381.
Background and purpose
The conventional statistical methods employed in observational studies in orthopedics require the fundamental assumption that the outcomes are independent. However, fractures treated by the same surgeon cannot be regarded as being independent of each other and should be nested in the statistical analysis. If the effect on outcome of early rather than delayed surgery depends on the severity of the fracture, we have a case of interaction. This is rarely considered in orthopedic research, but could affect the conclusions drawn. The aim of this paper is to describe the concepts of multilevel modeling and interaction in orthopedics.
Patients and methods In a cohort of 112 patients with single supracondylar humerus fractures, 78 patients were examined clinically on average 4 years after surgery. The range of motion was measured and the global satisfaction was assessed. The results were used to compare traditional least-squares regression analysis with a 2-level model with interactions.
Results
We found that 25% of the variance in outcome could be attributed to between-surgeon variance. We identified an interaction between the surgeons' experience and the severity of the fractures that influenced the conclusions. The variable “number of pins” was not significant in the 2-level model (p = 0.07), while the ordinary least-squares analysis gave a result that was statistically significant (p = 0.01).
Interpretation
Researchers should consider the need for a 2-level model and the presence of interactions. Standard statistical methods might lead to wrong conclusions.
doi:10.3109/17453674.2010.487243
PMCID: PMC2876843  PMID: 20450454
8.  Implementing structured functional assessments in general practice for persons with long-term sick leave: a cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:31.
Background
The increasing attention on functional assessments in medical and vocational rehabilitation requires a focus change for the general practitioners (GP) into paying attention to patient resources, possibilities and coping instead of symptoms, problems and limitations. The GPs report difficulties in performing the requested explicit functional assessments. The purpose of this study was to implement a structured method in general practice for assessing functional ability in persons with long-term sick leave. The study aim was to evaluate intervention effects on important GP parameters; knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy towards functional assessments and knowledge about patient work factors.
Methods
Fifty-seven GPs were randomly assigned to an intervention or a control group. The intervention group GPs attended an introductory one-day work-shop and implemented structured functional assessments during an eight months intervention period. GP knowledge, GP attitudes, and GP self-efficacy towards functional assessments, as well as GP knowledge of patient work factors, were collected before, after and six months after the intervention period started. Evaluation score-sheets were filled in by both the intervention GPs and their patients immediately after the consultation to evaluate the GPs' knowledge of patient work factors.
Results
The intervention GPs reported increased knowledge (B: 0.56, 95% CI (0.19, 0.91)) and self-efficacy (B: 0.90, 95% CI (0.53, 1.26)) towards functional assessments, and increased knowledge about their patients' workplace (B: 0.75, 95% CI (0.35, 1.15)) and perceived stressors (B: 0.55, 95% CI (0.23, 0.88)) with lasting effects at the second follow-up. No intervention effect was seen in relation to GP attitudes. Both before and after the intervention, the GPs were most informed about physical stressors, and less about mental and work organisational stressors (Guttman's reproducibility coefficient: 0.95 and 1.00). After the consultation, both the intervention GPs and their patients reported that the GPs' knowledge about patient work factors had increased (GP B: 0.60 (95% CI: 0.42, 0.78); patient B: 0.50 (95% CI: 0.34, 0.66)).
Conclusion
Introducing and implementing structured functional assessments in general practice made the GPs capable to assess functional ability of their patients in a structured manner. Intervention effects of increased GP knowledge and GP self-efficacy sustained at the second follow-up.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-31
PMCID: PMC2688495  PMID: 19419575
9.  Care of vision and ocular health in diabetic members of a national diabetes organization: A cross-sectional study 
Background
Regular examination and early treatment of diabetic retinopathy can prevent visual loss. The aim of the study was to describe the care of vision and ocular health in people with diabetes in Norway.
Methods
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey of a random sample (n = 1,887) of the Norwegian Diabetic Associations' (NDA) members was carried out in 2005. Questions were asked about care of vision and ocular health, history of ocular disease and visual symptoms, general medical history and diabetes management. The study was approved by the Regional Committee for Medical Research Ethics.
Results
The response rate was 74%. Forty-four questionnaires with incomplete data regarding gender, age or type of diabetes were excluded, leaving 1352 cases (52% females) for analysis. 451 (33%) had type 1 and 901 (67%) had type 2 diabetes, the mean duration of diabetes was respectively, 22 (sd ± 14) and 10 (sd ± 9) years. In all 1,052 (78%) had their eyes examined according to guidelines and 1,169 (87%) confirmed to have received information about regular eye examinations. One in two recalled to have received such information from their general practitioner. To have received information about the importance of eye examinations (PR 3.1, 95% CI 2.4 to 4.0), and diabetes duration > 10 years (PR 1.2, 95% CI 1.2 to 1.3), were independently associated with reporting regular eye examinations. A history of diabetic retinopathy was reported by 178 (13%) responders, of which 101 (57%) reported a history of laser treatment. Responders who had regular eye examinations reported more frequently a history of diabetic retinopathy (19% vs. 5%, p < 0.001). The frequency of retinopathy was significantly higher in responders with reported HbA1c values above treatment target (23% vs. 13%, p = 0.001). However, in responders who were not regularly examined, there was no difference in reported frequency of retinopathy with regard to HbA1c level.
Conclusion
Eight out of ten diabetic members of the NDA had their eyes examined according to current guidelines and the majority was well informed about the risk of vision loss due to diabetes. The results indicate that the reported history of diabetic retinopathy likely underestimates the prevalence of retinopathy.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-159
PMCID: PMC2525638  PMID: 18655733
10.  A randomised comparison of a four- and a five-point scale version of the Norwegian Function Assessment Scale 
Background
There is variation in the number of response alternatives used within health-related questionnaires. This study compared a four-and a five-point scale version of the Norwegian Function Assessment Scale (NFAS) by evaluating data quality, internal consistency and validity.
Methods
All inhabitants in seven birth cohorts in the Ullensaker municipality of Norway were approached by means of a postal questionnaire. The NFAS was included as part of The Ullensaker Study 2004. The instrument comprises 39 items derived from the activities/participation component in the International Classification for Functioning, Disabilities and Health (ICF). The sample was computer-randomised to either the four-point or the five-point scale version.
Results
Both versions of the NFAS had acceptable response rates and good data quality and internal consistency. The five-point scale version had better data quality in terms of missing data, end effects at the item and scale level, as well as higher levels of internal consistency. Construct validity was acceptable for both versions, demonstrated by correlations with instruments assessing similar aspects of health and comparisons with groups of individuals known to differ in their functioning according to existing evidence.
Conclusion
Data quality, internal consistency and discriminative validity suggest that the five-point scale version should be used in future applications.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-6-14
PMCID: PMC2276196  PMID: 18279500
11.  Suspected retinopathies in Norwegian optometric practice with emphasis on patients with diabetes: a cross-sectional study 
Background
The scope of optometry differs worldwide. In Norway the vast majority of optometrists perform ophthalmoscopy as part of their routine examinations. The aim of this study was to describe the frequency of suspected retinopathies in patients seen for routine optometric examination and to determine how optometrists deal with these patients.
Methods
212 optometrists participated in a questionnaire survey and a practice registration during November 2004 – May 2005. In the practice registration, details for 20 consecutive patient encounters were recorded. Data were analysed by chi-square tests and multiple logistic regression.
Results
All optometrist stated that ocular history taking was an integrated part of their routine examination, while general health and diabetes history were routinely addressed by 59% and 42% of the optometrists, respectively. During the practice registration 4,052 patient encounters were recorded. Ophthalmoscopy was performed in 88% of the patients, of which 2% were dilated fundus examinations. Retinopathy was suspected in 106 patients, of whom 31 did not report a previous history of ocular or systemic disease. Old age (75+), hypertension and diabetes strongly predicted retinopathy with odds ratio (95% CI) of 6.4 (4.2 to 9.9), 3.8 (2.4 to 6.0) and 2.5 (1.4 to 4.7), respectively. Diabetic retinopathy was seen in 10% of diabetic patients and suspected in 0.2% of patients with no established history of diabetes. Retinopathy was not confirmed in 9 out 18 patients with a history of diabetic retinopathy; seven of these had undergone laser treatment. Out of the 106 patients with findings of retinopathy, 28 were referred to an ophthalmologist or a general practitioner (GP), written reports were sent to a GP in 16 cases, ten patients were urged to contact their GP for further follow up, while 52 were considered in need of routine optometric follow up only.
Conclusion
Optometric practice provides a low threshold setting for detecting cases of ocular disease and retinal manifestations of systemic disease in the population. At present diagnosis of retinopathy in Norwegian optometric practice is unreliable. There are potentials for improving the optometrists' routine examination, their patient management patterns and collaboration routines with medical doctors.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-8-38
PMCID: PMC2262885  PMID: 18261204
12.  Functional ability in a population: normative survey data and reliability for the ICF based Norwegian Function Assessment Scale 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:278.
Background
The increasing focus on functional ability assessments in relation to sickness absence necessitates the measurement of population functional levels. This study assessed the reliability of the Norwegian Function Assessment Scale (NFAS) and presents normative population data.
Methods
All inhabitants in seven birth cohorts in Ullensaker municipality in 2004 were approached by means of a postal questionnaire. The NFAS was included as part of The Ullensaker Study 2004. The instrument comprises 39 items derived from the activities/participation component in the International Classification for Functioning, Disabilities and Health (ICF). Based on the results of principal component analysis, these items comprise seven domains. Non-parametric tests for independent samples were used to compare subgroups. Internal consistency was assessed by Cronbach's alpha. Two-week test-retest reliability was assessed by total proportions of agreement, weighted kappa, and intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).
Results
The response rate was 54% (1620 persons) and 75.4% (101 persons) for the retest. Items had low levels of missing data. Test-retest reliability was acceptable with high proportions of absolute agreement; kappa and ICC values ranged from 0.38 to 0.83 and 0.79 to 0.83, respectively. No difficulty on all 39 functional activities was reported by 33.1% of respondents. Females, older persons and persons with lower levels of education reported more functional problems than their respective counterparts (p < 0.05). The age gradient was most evident for three of the physical domains. For females aged 24–56 and males aged 44–76, a clear education gradient was present for three of the physical domains and one mental domain after adjusting for age and gender.
Conclusion
This study presents population based normative data on functional ability, as measured by the NFAS. These data will serve as basis for the development of national population norms and are necessary for score interpretation. Data quality and test-retest reliability of the NFAS were acceptable.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-278
PMCID: PMC2222166  PMID: 17915025
13.  General practitioners’ relationship to sickness certification 
Objective
GPs’ role conflict in connection with sickness certification is widely accepted. The authors explored the relationship between GPs and this difficult task.
Design
Cross-sectional questionnaire study of experiences, attitudes, and management of sickness certification. Data were analysed by hierarchical cluster analysis.
Setting
Norway.
Subjects
Representative sample of 308 general practitioners from a nationwide panel established by the Research Institute of the Norwegian Medical Association.
Main outcome measures
Differentiation of response patterns regarding perceived burden, self-evaluation, doubt, permissiveness, opinions on whether sickness certification is a medical task, and sociopolitical attitude. Associations with hours of patient contact per week, number of sickness certifications per week, job satisfaction, degree of paternalism, and personality characteristics.
Results
Four groups evolved, one (12%) with low burden, high self-esteem, little doubt, and permissiveness, another (12%) with the opposite characteristics. They displayed similar sociopolitical attitudes. The third group (32%) was primarily characterized by a biomedical attitude, while the fourth represented a middle position in all dimensions. The first two groups differed on personality characteristics. There were no differences between groups regarding number of sickness certifications per week, job satisfaction, or degree of paternalism.
Conclusions
Prominent differences in experiences with sickness certification between groups of doctors exist. No evidence was found of associations between group-level GP differences and sickness certification rates.
doi:10.1080/02813430600879680
PMCID: PMC3389448  PMID: 17354155
Doctor behaviour; family practice; general practitioner; sickness certification; survey
14.  Acute bronchiolitis in infancy as risk factor for wheezing and reduced pulmonary function by seven years in Akershus County, Norway 
BMC Pediatrics  2005;5:31.
Background
Acute viral bronchiolitis is one of the most common causes of hospitalisation during infancy in our region with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) historically being the major causative agent. Many infants with early-life RSV bronchiolitis have sustained bronchial hyperreactivity for many years after hospitalisation and the reasons for this are probably multifactorial. The principal aim of the present study was to investigate if children hospitalised for any acute viral bronchiolitis during infancy in our region, and not only those due to RSV, had more episodes of subsequent wheezing up to age seven years and reduced lung function at that age compared to children not hospitalised for acute bronchiolitis during infancy. A secondary aim was to compare the hospitalised infants with proven RSV bronchiolitis (RS+) to the hospitalised infants with non-RSV bronchiolitis (RS-) according to the same endpoints.
Methods
57 infants hospitalised at least once with acute viral bronchiolitis during two consecutive winter seasons in 1993–1994 were examined at age seven years. An age-matched control group of 64 children, who had not been hospitalised for acute viral bronchiolitis during infancy, were recruited from a local primary school. Epidemiological and clinical data were collected retrospectively from hospital discharge records and through structured clinical interviews and physical examinations at the follow-up visit.
Results
The children hospitalised for bronchiolitis during infancy had decreased lung function, more often wheezing episodes, current medication and follow-up for asthma at age seven years than did the age matched controls. They also had lower average birth weight and more often first order family members with asthma. We did not find significant differences between the RSV+ and RSV- groups.
Conclusion
Children hospitalised for early-life bronchiolitis are susceptible to recurrent wheezing and reduced pulmonary function by seven years compared to age-matched children not hospitalised for early-life bronchiolitis. We propose that prolonged bronchial hyperreactivity could follow early-life RSV negative as well as RSV positive bronchiolitis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-5-31
PMCID: PMC1199604  PMID: 16109158
15.  Unhappy doctors? A longitudinal study of life and job satisfaction among Norwegian doctors 1994 – 2002 
Background
General opinion is that doctors are increasingly dissatisfied with their job, but few longitudinal studies exist. This study has been conducted to investigate a possible decline in professional and personal satisfaction among doctors by the turn of the century.
Methods
We have done a survey among a representative sample of 1 174 Norwegian doctors in 2002 (response rate 73 %) and compared the findings with answers to the same questions by (most of) the same doctors in 1994 and 2000. The main outcome measures were self reported levels of life satisfaction and job satisfaction according to the Job Satisfaction Scale (JSS).
Results
Most Norwegian doctors are happy. They reported an average life satisfaction of 5.21 in 1994 and 5.32 in 2002 on a scale from 1 (extremely dissatisfied) to 7 (extremely satisfied). Half of the respondents reported a very high level of general life satisfaction (a score of 6 or 7) while only one third said they would have reported this high level of satisfaction five years ago. The doctors thought that they had a higher level of job satisfaction than other comparable professional groups. The job satisfaction scale among the same doctors showed a significant increase from 1994 to 2002. Anaesthesiologists and internists reported a lower and psychiatrists and primary care doctors reported a higher level of job satisfaction than the average.
Conclusion
Norwegian doctors seem to have enjoyed an increasing level of life and job satisfaction rather than a decline over the last decade. This challenges the general impression of unhappy doctors as a general and worldwide phenomenon.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-5-44
PMCID: PMC1177945  PMID: 15943859
16.  Influence of social problems on management in general practice: multipractice questionnaire survey 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7150):28-32.
Objectives: To find how often social problems influence clinical management in general practice, how management is changed, and how the characteristics of patients, doctors, and the doctor-patient relationship influence this management.
Design: Multipractice survey of patients consulting general practitioners. Doctors completed a questionnaire for each patient.
Setting: General practices in Buskerud county, Norway.
Subjects: 1401 consecutive adult patients attending 89 general practitioners.
Main outcome measures: How often management of patients was influenced by different types of social problem and main reasons for consultation; frequency and intercorrelation of different types of management applied; odds ratios for social problems’ influence on management, controlled for by characteristics of doctors, patients, and their relationship.
Results: In 17% of all consultations the doctors’ knowledge of patients’ social problems influenced their management, stressful working conditions being the most frequent influencing type of problem. Knowledge of social problems influenced management more often when the doctor knew a patient well, but less often the longer a doctor had worked in a practice. When social problems influenced management, the commonest types of management offered were extra time for consultation (51%), advice (42%), authorisation of sick leave (28%), and prescription of a psychotropic drug (20%), while referral to community services was used in 2.6% of these consultations. Prescription of a psychotropic drug was positively correlated with use of extra time, and was made more often by female doctors.
Conclusions: Patients’ social problems influenced choice of management in at least a sixth of consultations. Prior knowledge of the patient, the doctor’s time in present practice, age and sex of the patient, and sex of the doctor significantly influenced management of patients.
Key messages We studied how patients’ social problems influenced their general practitioners’ management decisions In a sixth of consultations the doctors’ knowledge of social problems influenced management Extra time, advice, certifying a sick leave, and prescribing a psychotropic drug were the most common actions taken, while referral to other community services was seldom used Management was more often influenced by social problems if the doctor was recently established in the present practice or if the patient was well known to the doctor When influenced by social problems, female doctors prescribed a psychotropic drug three times as often as male doctors
PMCID: PMC28599  PMID: 9651266

Results 1-16 (16)