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1.  The strength of primary care in Europe: an international comparative study 
The British Journal of General Practice  2013;63(616):e742-e750.
A suitable definition of primary care to capture the variety of prevailing international organisation and service-delivery models is lacking.
Evaluation of strength of primary care in Europe.
Design and setting
International comparative cross-sectional study performed in 2009–2010, involving 27 EU member states, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey.
Outcome measures covered three dimensions of primary care structure: primary care governance, economic conditions of primary care, and primary care workforce development; and four dimensions of primary care service-delivery process: accessibility, comprehensiveness, continuity, and coordination of primary care. The primary care dimensions were operationalised by a total of 77 indicators for which data were collected in 31 countries. Data sources included national and international literature, governmental publications, statistical databases, and experts’ consultations.
Countries with relatively strong primary care are Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and the UK. Countries either have many primary care policies and regulations in place, combined with good financial coverage and resources, and adequate primary care workforce conditions, or have consistently only few of these primary care structures in place. There is no correlation between the access, continuity, coordination, and comprehensiveness of primary care of countries.
Variation is shown in the strength of primary care across Europe, indicating a discrepancy in the responsibility given to primary care in national and international policy initiatives and the needed investments in primary care to solve, for example, future shortages of workforce. Countries are consistent in their primary care focus on all important structure dimensions. Countries need to improve their primary care information infrastructure to facilitate primary care performance management.
PMCID: PMC3809427  PMID: 24267857
benchmarking, Europe; delivery of health care; general practice; primary health care
2.  The european primary care monitor: structure, process and outcome indicators 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:81.
Scientific research has provided evidence on benefits of well developed primary care systems. The relevance of some of this research for the European situation is limited.
There is currently a lack of up to date comprehensive and comparable information on variation in development of primary care, and a lack of knowledge of structures and strategies conducive to strengthening primary care in Europe. The EC funded project Primary Health Care Activity Monitor for Europe (PHAMEU) aims to fill this gap by developing a Primary Care Monitoring System (PC Monitor) for application in 31 European countries. This article describes the development of the indicators of the PC Monitor, which will make it possible to create an alternative model for holistic analyses of primary care.
A systematic review of the primary care literature published between 2003 and July 2008 was carried out. This resulted in an overview of: (1) the dimensions of primary care and their relevance to outcomes at (primary) health system level; (2) essential features per dimension; (3) applied indicators to measure the features of primary care dimensions. The indicators were evaluated by the project team against criteria of relevance, precision, flexibility, and discriminating power. The resulting indicator set was evaluated on its suitability for Europe-wide comparison of primary care systems by a panel of primary care experts from various European countries (representing a variety of primary care systems).
The developed PC Monitor approaches primary care in Europe as a multidimensional concept. It describes the key dimensions of primary care systems at three levels: structure, process, and outcome level. On structure level, it includes indicators for governance, economic conditions, and workforce development. On process level, indicators describe access, comprehensiveness, continuity, and coordination of primary care services. On outcome level, indicators reflect the quality, and efficiency of primary care.
A standardized instrument for describing and comparing primary care systems has been developed based on scientific evidence and consensus among an international panel of experts, which will be tested to all configurations of primary care in Europe, intended for producing comparable information. Widespread use of the instrument has the potential to improve the understanding of primary care delivery in different national contexts and thus to create opportunities for better decision making.
PMCID: PMC2975652  PMID: 20979612
3.  The breadth of primary care: a systematic literature review of its core dimensions 
Even though there is general agreement that primary care is the linchpin of effective health care delivery, to date no efforts have been made to systematically review the scientific evidence supporting this supposition. The aim of this study was to examine the breadth of primary care by identifying its core dimensions and to assess the evidence for their interrelations and their relevance to outcomes at (primary) health system level.
A systematic review of the primary care literature was carried out, restricted to English language journals reporting original research or systematic reviews. Studies published between 2003 and July 2008 were searched in MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, King's Fund Database, IDEAS Database, and EconLit.
Eighty-five studies were identified. This review was able to provide insight in the complexity of primary care as a multidimensional system, by identifying ten core dimensions that constitute a primary care system. The structure of a primary care system consists of three dimensions: 1. governance; 2. economic conditions; and 3. workforce development. The primary care process is determined by four dimensions: 4. access; 5. continuity of care; 6. coordination of care; and 7. comprehensiveness of care. The outcome of a primary care system includes three dimensions: 8. quality of care; 9. efficiency care; and 10. equity in health. There is a considerable evidence base showing that primary care contributes through its dimensions to overall health system performance and health.
A primary care system can be defined and approached as a multidimensional system contributing to overall health system performance and health.
PMCID: PMC2848652  PMID: 20226084
4.  The Systematic Guideline Review: Method, rationale, and test on chronic heart failure 
Evidence-based guidelines have the potential to improve healthcare. However, their de-novo-development requires substantial resources – especially for complex conditions, and adaptation may be biased by contextually influenced recommendations in source guidelines. In this paper we describe a new approach to guideline development – the systematic guideline review method (SGR), and its application in the development of an evidence-based guideline for family physicians on chronic heart failure (CHF).
A systematic search for guidelines was carried out. Evidence-based guidelines on CHF management in adults in ambulatory care published in English or German between the years 2000 and 2004 were included. Guidelines on acute or right heart failure were excluded. Eligibility was assessed by two reviewers, methodological quality of selected guidelines was appraised using the AGREE instrument, and a framework of relevant clinical questions for diagnostics and treatment was derived. Data were extracted into evidence tables, systematically compared by means of a consistency analysis and synthesized in a preliminary draft. Most relevant primary sources were re-assessed to verify the cited evidence. Evidence and recommendations were summarized in a draft guideline.
Of 16 included guidelines five were of good quality. A total of 35 recommendations were systematically compared: 25/35 were consistent, 9/35 inconsistent, and 1/35 un-rateable (derived from a single guideline). Of the 25 consistencies, 14 were based on consensus, seven on evidence and four differed in grading. Major inconsistencies were found in 3/9 of the inconsistent recommendations. We re-evaluated the evidence for 17 recommendations (evidence-based, differing evidence levels and minor inconsistencies) – the majority was congruent. Incongruity was found where the stated evidence could not be verified in the cited primary sources, or where the evaluation in the source guidelines focused on treatment benefits and underestimated the risks. The draft guideline was completed in 8.5 man-months. The main limitation to this study was the lack of a second reviewer.
The systematic guideline review including framework development, consistency analysis and validation is an effective, valid, and resource saving-approach to the development of evidence-based guidelines.
PMCID: PMC2698839  PMID: 19426504
5.  Learning to prescribe – pharmacists' experiences of supplementary prescribing training in England 
The introduction of non-medical prescribing for professions such as pharmacy and nursing in recent years offers additional responsibilities and opportunities but attendant training issues. In the UK and in contrast to some international models, becoming a non-medical prescriber involves the completion of an accredited training course offered by many higher education institutions, where the skills and knowledge necessary for prescribing are learnt. Aims: to explore pharmacists' perceptions and experiences of learning to prescribe on supplementary prescribing (SP) courses, particularly in relation to inter-professional learning, course content and subsequent use of prescribing in practice.
A postal questionnaire survey was sent to all 808 SP registered pharmacists in England in April 2007, exploring demographic, training, prescribing, safety culture and general perceptions of SP.
After one follow-up, 411 (51%) of pharmacists responded. 82% agreed SP training was useful, 58% agreed courses provided appropriate knowledge and 62% agreed that the necessary prescribing skills were gained. Clinical examination, consultation skills training and practical experience with doctors were valued highly; pharmacology training and some aspects of course delivery were criticised. Mixed views on inter-professional learning were reported – insights into other professions being valued but knowledge and skills differences considered problematic. 67% believed SP and recent independent prescribing (IP) should be taught together, with more diagnostic training wanted; few pharmacists trained in IP, but many were training or intending to train. There was no association between pharmacists' attitudes towards prescribing training and when they undertook training between 2004 and 2007 but earlier cohorts were more likely to be using supplementary prescribing in practice.
Pharmacists appeared to value their SP training and suggested improvements that could inform future courses. The benefits of inter-professional learning, however, may conflict with providing profession-specific training. SP training may be perceived to be an instrumental 'stepping stone' in pharmacists' professional project of gaining full IP status.
PMCID: PMC2615422  PMID: 19061487
6.  Using a multi-method, user centred, prospective hazard analysis to assess care quality and patient safety in a care pathway 
Care pathways can be complex, often involving multiple care providers and as such are recognised as containing multiple opportunities for error. Prospective hazard analysis methods may be useful for evaluating care provided across primary and secondary care pathway boundaries. These methods take into account the views of users (staff and patients) when determining where potential hazards may lie. The aim of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of prospective hazard analysis methods when assessing quality and safety in care pathways that lie across primary and secondary care boundaries.
Development of a process map of the care pathway for patients entering into a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) supported discharge programme. Triangulation of information from: care process mapping, semi-structured interviews with COPD patients, semi-structured interviews with COPD staff, two round modified Delphi study and review of prioritised quality and safety challenges by health care staff.
Interview themes emerged under the headings of quality of care and patient safety. Quality and safety concerns were mostly raised in relation to communication, for example, communication with other hospital teams. The three highest ranked safety concerns from the modified Delphi review were: difficulties in accessing hospital records, information transfer to primary care and failure to communicate medication changes to primary care.
This study has demonstrated the feasibility of using mixed methods to review the quality and safety of care in a care pathway. By using multiple research methods it was possible to get a clear picture of service quality variations and also to demonstrate which points in the care pathway had real potential for patient safety incidents or system failures to occur. By using these methods to analyse one condition specific care pathway it was possible to uncover a number of hospital level problems. A number of safety challenges were systems related; these were therefore difficult to improve at care team level. Study results were used by National Health Service (NHS) stakeholders to implement solutions to problems identified in the review.
PMCID: PMC1925071  PMID: 17577401
8.  Developing primary care review criteria from evidence-based guidelines: coronary heart disease as a model. 
BACKGROUND: National Health Service (NHS) initiatives such as Clinical Governance, National Service Frameworks and the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) clinical guidelines programme create demand for tools to enable performance review by healthcare professionals. Ideally such tools should enable clinical teams to assess quality of care and highlight areas of good practice or where improvement is needed. They should also be able to be used to demonstrate progress towards goals and promote quality, while not unnecessarily increasing demand on limited resources or weakening professional control. AIM: To formulate and evaluate a method for developing, from clinical guidelines, evidence-based review criteria that are proritised, useful and relevant to general practices assessing quality of care for the primary care management of coronary heart disease (CHD). DESIGN OF STUDY: A two-stage study comprising, first, a review of available evidence-based guidelines for CHD and, second, the definition and prioritization of associated review criteria from the most highly rated guidelines. SETTING: Primary healthcare teams in England. METHODS: Using structured methods, evidence-based clinical guidelines for CHD were identified and appraised to ensure their suitability as the basis for developing review criteria. Recommendations common to a number of guidelines were priortszid by a panel of general practitioners to develop review criteria suitable for use in primary care. RESULTS: A standardised method has been developed for constructing evidence-based review criteria from clinical guidelines. A limited, prioritized set of review criteria was developed for the primary care management of CHD. This was distributed around the NHS through the Royal College of General Practitioners for use by primary care teams across the United Kingdom. CONCLUSION: Developing useful, evidence-based review criteria is not a straightforward process, partly because of a lack of consistency and clarity in guidelines currently available. A method was developed which accommodated these limitations and which can be applied to the development and evaluation of review criteria from guidelines for other conditions.
PMCID: PMC1314691  PMID: 15103876
12.  Computerized family practitioner committee records — a data base for general practitioners 
In the primary care environment the role of preventive medicine is assuming increasing importance and general practitioners need accurate and up-to-date information about their practice population. Computerization of family practitioner committee registers should provide a readily accessible data base from which data about groups of patients within the practice area can easily be extracted. This paper describes a study carried out in Northumberland, which set out to establish the type of information which would be of interest to general practitioners and how it could be produced.
It was found that a data base holding only registration data was of limited value to general practitioners, although useful for identifying target groups for screening programmes and showing demographic trends within the practice. The doctors felt that the inclusion of medical data would make the register a far more effective resource.
PMCID: PMC1711400  PMID: 3204546
13.  Providing census data for general practice. 1. Feasibility 
The availability of census data to general practice is limited by the form of publication, restricted access to computerized data and the technical difficulties of linking computerized information to a practice population. In a feasibility study it is shown how a population registered with a general practice may be linked through postcodes to computerized enumeration district data. Examples of the data available are discussed together with current problems of postcode/enumeration district mismatch. Suggestions are made for ensuring that general practitioners have access to the 1991 census data.
PMCID: PMC1711083  PMID: 3505285
14.  Providing census data for general practice. 2. Usefulness 
Computerized census data are described in relation to a general practice population. The previously published methods for scoring deprivation – underprivileged areas score and material deprivation score – are applied to the data. Wards and enumeration districts within a single practice area are ranked by both methods and examples show the wide variation in deprivation scores for enumeration districts within single wards. The value of these data to a general practice is discussed with particular reference to developing a profile of the practice and to planning prevention and anticipatory care.
PMCID: PMC1711041  PMID: 3505286
16.  Why do some women refuse rubella screening? 
The reasons why 250 women declined rubella antibody screening were elicited by a postal questionnaire. Responses are contrasted with those of women who accepted screening, and management implications for future programmes are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1972656  PMID: 6887092

Results 1-17 (17)