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1.  A pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial of early intervention for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by practice nurse-general practitioner teams: Study Protocol 
Background
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a leading cause of disability, hospitalization, and premature mortality. General practice is well placed to diagnose and manage COPD, but there is a significant gap between evidence and current practice, with a low level of awareness and implementation of clinical practice guidelines. Under-diagnosis of COPD is a world-wide problem, limiting the benefit that could potentially be achieved through early intervention strategies such as smoking cessation, dietary advice, and exercise. General practice is moving towards more structured chronic disease management, and the increasing involvement of practice nurses in delivering chronic care.
Design
A pragmatic cluster randomised trial will test the hypothesis that intervention by a practice nurse-general practitioner (GP) team leads to improved health-related quality of life and greater adherence with clinical practice guidelines for patients with newly-diagnosed COPD, compared with usual care. Forty general practices in greater metropolitan Sydney Australia will be recruited to identify patients at risk of COPD and invite them to attend a case finding appointment. Practices will be randomised to deliver either practice nurse-GP partnership care, or usual care, to patients newly-diagnosed with COPD.
The active intervention will involve the practice nurse and GP working in partnership with the patient in developing and implementing a care plan involving (as appropriate), smoking cessation, immunisation, pulmonary rehabilitation, medication review, assessment and correction of inhaler technique, nutritional advice, management of psycho-social issues, patient education, and management of co-morbidities.
The primary outcome measure is health-related quality of life, assessed with the St George’s Respiratory Questionnaire 12 months after diagnosis. Secondary outcome measures include validated disease-specific and general health related quality of life measures, smoking and immunisation status, medications, inhaler technique, and lung function. Outcomes will be assessed by project officers blinded to patients’ randomization groups.
Discussion
This study will use proven case-finding methods to identify patients with undiagnosed COPD in general practice, where improved care has the potential for substantial benefit in health and healthcare utilization. The study provides the capacity to trial a new model of team-based assessment and management of newly diagnosed COPD in Australian primary care.
Trial registration
ACTRN12610000592044\
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-83
PMCID: PMC3457839  PMID: 22958678
2.  What evidence is there to support skill mix changes between GPs, pharmacists and practice nurses in the care of elderly people living in the community? 
Background
Workforce shortages in Australia are occurring across a range of health disciplines but are most acute in general practice. Skill mix change such as task substitution is one solution to workforce shortages. The aim of this systematic review was to explore the evidence for the effectiveness of task substitution between GPs and pharmacists and GPs and nurses for the care of older people with chronic disease. Published, peer reviewed (black) and non-peer reviewed (grey) literature were included in the review if they met the inclusion criteria.
Results
Forty-six articles were included in the review. Task substitution between pharmacists and GPs and nurses and GPs resulted in an improved process of care and patient outcomes, such as improved disease control. The interventions were either health promotion or disease management according to guidelines or use of protocols, or a mixture of both. The results of this review indicate that pharmacists and nurses can effectively provide disease management and/or health promotion for older people with chronic disease in primary care. While there were improvements in patient outcomes no reduction in health service use was evident.
Conclusion
When implementing skill mix changes such as task substitution it is important that the health professionals' roles are complementary otherwise they may simply duplicate the task performed by other health professionals. This has implications for the way in which multidisciplinary teams are organised in initiatives such as the GP Super Clinics.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-6-23
PMCID: PMC2749853  PMID: 19744350
3.  A cluster randomised controlled trial of nurse and GP partnership for care of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 
Background
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a significant health problem worldwide. This randomised controlled trial aims at testing a new approach that involves a registered nurse working in partnership with patients, general practitioners (GPs) and other health professionals to provide care to patients according to the evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. The aim is to determine the impact of this partnership on the quality of care and patient outcomes.
Methods
A cluster randomised control trial design was chosen for this study. Randomisation occurred at practice level. GPs practising in South Western Sydney, Australia and their COPD patients were recruited for the study.
The intervention was implemented by nurses specifically recruited and trained for this study. Nurses, working in partnership with GPs, developed care plans for patients based on the Australian COPDX guidelines. The aim was to optimise patient management, improve function, prevent deterioration and enhance patient knowledge and skills. Control group patients received 'usual' care from their GPs.
Data collection includes patient demographic profiles and their co-morbidities. Spirometry is being performed to assess patients' COPD status and CO analyser to validate their smoking status. Patients' quality of life and overall health status are being measured by St George's Respiratory Questionnaire and SF-12 respectively. Other patient measures being recorded include health service use, immunisation status, and knowledge of COPD. Qualitative methods will be used to explore participants' satisfaction with the intervention and their opinion about the value of the partnership.
Analysis
Analysis will be by intention to treat. Intra-cluster (practice) correlation coefficients will be determined and published for all primary outcome variables to assist future research. The effect of the intervention on outcomes measured on a continuous scale will be estimated and tested using mixed model analysis of variance in which time and treatment group will be fixed effects and GP practice and subject nested within practice will be random effects. The effect of the intervention on the dichotomous variables (such as smoking status, patient knowledge) will be analysed using generalised estimating equations with a logistic link and a model structure that is analogous to that described above.
Trial registration
ACTRN012606000304538
doi:10.1186/1471-2466-8-8
PMCID: PMC2442044  PMID: 18519003

Results 1-3 (3)