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1.  Has the Reform of the Japanese Healthcare Provision System Improved the Value in Healthcare? A Cost-Consequence Analysis of Organized Care for Hip Fracture Patients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0133694.
To assess the value of organized care by comparing the clinical outcomes and healthcare expenditure between the conventional Japanese “integrated care across specialties within one hospital” mode of providing healthcare and the prospective approach of “organized care across separate facilities within a community”.
Retrospective cohort study.
Two groups of hospitals were categorized according to healthcare delivery approach: the first group included 3 hospitals autonomously providing integrated care across specialties, and the second group included 4 acute care hospitals and 7 rehabilitative care hospitals providing organized care across separate facilities.
Patients aged 65 years and above who had undergone hip fracture surgery.
Regression models adjusting for patient characteristics and clinical variables were used to investigate the impact of organized care on the improvements to the mobility capability of patients before and after hospitalization and the differences in healthcare resource utilization.
The sample for analysis included 837 hip fracture surgery cases. The proportion of patients with either unchanged or improved mobility capability was not statistically associated with the healthcare delivery approaches. Total adjusted mean healthcare expenditure for integrated care and organized care were US$28,360 (95% confidence interval: 27,787-28,972) and US$21,951 (21,511-22,420), respectively, indicating an average increase of US$6,409 in organized care.
Our cost-consequence analysis underscores the need to further investigate the actual contribution of organized care to the provision of efficient and high-quality healthcare.
PMCID: PMC4514762  PMID: 26208322
2.  Assessment of the Validity and Internal Consistency of a Performance Evaluation Tool Based on the Japanese Version of the Modified Barthel Index for Elderly People Living at Home 
Journal of Physical Therapy Science  2014;26(12):1971-1974.
[Purpose] This study aimed to examine the validity and internal consistency of the Japanese version of a performance evaluation tool for activities of daily living (ADL) based on the modified Barthel Index (PET-MBI) among elderly people at home. [Subjects] The subjects were elderly people living at home in Japan. [Methods] A cross-sectional study was performed at five home care facilities for elderly people in Japan. ADL performance was evaluated for 128 participants using the PET-MBI, which included 10 self-care items. We used confirmatory factor analysis to estimate the factorial validity. We assessed data model fitness with the χ2 statistic, the Goodness of Fit Index (GFI), Adjusted Goodness of Fit Index (AGFI), and Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA). Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was used to determine the internal consistency. [Results] The mean age of the participants was 79.1±8.9 years. Among the 126 participants included in the analysis, 67 were women (53.2%). The single-factor model demonstrated a fair fit to the data, with the χ2 statistic = 74.9 (df =35), GFI = 0.88, AGFI = 0.81, and RMSEA = 0.096, and the path coefficients of each item ranged from 0.44 to 0.95. The alpha coefficient of the 10-item scale was 0.93. [Conclusion] The PET-MBI for elderly people at home was well validated.
PMCID: PMC4273070  PMID: 25540510
Activities of daily living; Internal consistency; Validity
3.  Reference Values and Age and Sex Differences in Physical Performance Measures for Community-Dwelling Older Japanese: A Pooled Analysis of Six Cohort Studies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99487.
To determine age- and sex-specific reference values for six physical performance measures, i.e. hand-grip strength, one-legged stance, and gait speed and step length at both usual and maximum paces, and to investigate age and sex differences in these measures among community-dwelling older Japanese adults.
We conducted a pooled analysis of data from six cohort studies collected between 2002 and 2011 as part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology-Longitudinal Interdisciplinary Study on Aging. The pooled analysis included cross-sectional data from 4683 nondisabled, community-dwelling adults aged 65 years or older (2168 men, 2515 women; mean age: 74.0 years in men and 73.9 years in women).
Unweighted simple mean (standard deviation) hand-grip strength, one-legged stance, usual gait speed, usual gait step length, maximum gait speed, and maximum gait step length were 31.7 (6.7) kg, 39.3 (23.0) s, 1.29 (0.25) m/s, 67.7 (10.0) cm, 1.94 (0.38) m/s, and 82.3 (11.6) cm, respectively, in men and 20.4 (5.0) kg, 36.8 (23.4) s, 1.25 (0.27) m/s, 60.8 (10.0) cm, 1.73 (0.36) m/s, and 69.7 (10.8) cm, respectively, in women. All physical performance measures showed significant decreasing trends with advancing age in both sexes (all P<0.001 for trend). We also constructed age- and sex-specific appraisal standards according to quintiles. With increasing age, the sex difference in hand-grip strength decreased significantly (P<0.001 for age and sex interaction). In contrast, sex differences significantly increased in all other measures (all P<0.05 for interactions) except step length at maximum pace.
Our pooled analysis yielded inclusive age- and sex-specific reference values and appraisal standards for major physical performance measures in nondisabled, community-dwelling, older Japanese adults. The characteristics of age-related decline in physical performance measures differed between sexes.
PMCID: PMC4055685  PMID: 24923425
4.  Prescribing Pattern of Anti-Parkinson Drugs in Japan: A Trend Analysis from 2005 to 2010 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99021.
Therapeutic options for Parkinson's disease mainly consist of L-dopa and dopamine agonists. However, in Japan, the product labeling of the ergot dopamine agonists, cabergoline and pergolide, was revised in April 2007 due to the risk of developing cardiac valvulopathy. Here, we describe the prescribing trends of anti-Parkinson drugs from 2005 through 2010 in Japan, and examined whether these trends changed after the drug safety measures in 2007.
Methods and Patients
We used medical claim data from January 2005 to December 2010 for Parkinson's disease patients older than 30 years who were prescribed anti-Parkinson drugs. We calculated the proportion of patients prescribed each drug for each year, and compared the proportions of first-line drugs prescribed before and after April 2007. We also examined the prescription variations of cabergoline/pergolide users one year before or after April 2007.
L-dopa was the most frequently prescribed drug for Parkinson's disease (2005, 58%; 2010, 51%). The proportion of patients prescribed ergot dopamine agonists markedly decreased and non-ergot dopamine agonists increased after 2007. Among first-line drugs, the proportion of non-ergot agents increased after April 2007. Among 54 cabergoline/pergolide users, 24 (44%) discontinued these drugs, nine of whom switched to non-ergot agents.
L-dopa was the mainstay of Parkinson's disease treatment between 2005 and 2010 in Japan. There was a decrease in ergot agents and an increase in non-ergot agents prescribed after the regulatory actions in 2007.
PMCID: PMC4048287  PMID: 24906013
5.  TEACCH-based group social skills training for children with high-functioning autism: a pilot randomized controlled trial 
Although social skills training programs for people with high-functioning autism (HFA) are widely practiced, the standardization of curricula, the examination of clinical effectiveness, and the evaluation of the feasibility of future trials have yet to be done in Asian countries. To compensate for this problem, a Japanese pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH)-based group social skills training for children with HFA and their mothers was conducted.
Eleven children with HFA, aged 5–6 years, and their mothers were randomly assigned to the TEACCH program (n=5) or a waiting-list control group (n=6). The program involved comprehensive group intervention and featured weekly 2-hour sessions, totaling 20 sessions over six months. The adaptive behaviors and social reciprocity of the children, parenting stress, and parent–child interactions were assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Parenting Stress Index (PSI), Beck depression inventory-II (BDI-II), and Interaction Rating Scale (IRS).
Through this pilot trial, the intervention and evaluation of the program has been shaped. There were no dropouts from the program and the mothers’ satisfaction was high. The outcome measurements improved more in the program group than in the control group, with moderate effect sizes (SDQ, 0.71; PSI, 0.58; BDI-II, 0.40; and IRS, 0.69). This pilot trial also implied that this program is more beneficial for high IQ children and mothers with low stress than for those who are not.
We have standardized the TEACCH program, confirmed the feasibility of a future trial, and successfully estimated the positive effect size. These findings will contribute to a larger trial in the future and to forthcoming systematic reviews with meta-analyses.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3850504  PMID: 24083413
Randomized controlled trial; Autism; Social skills training; TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication Handicapped Children)
6.  Practice patterns for lower respiratory tract infections in hospital patients with particular focus on bacteriological examinations and injection antibiotics use 
Various types of medical institutions perform treatments for lower respiratory tract infections. However, few studies have assessed and compared practice patterns across different medical institutions in Japan. To assess practice patterns for community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections among patients who needed hospitalization, we examined the use of injection antibiotics and the implementation of bacteriological examinations, and compared these across medical institutions. We then evaluated whether bacteriological examinations were being adequately implemented.
A cross-sectional study was conducted using a database of health insurance claims. Subjects were patients (≥16 years old) who received injection antibiotics to treat lower respiratory tract infections, and who were listed among 2004–2007 insurance claims data. For each type of antibiotic, we obtained the dose prescribed, the number of patients treated, and the frequency of bacteriological examinations.
A total of 1649 patients were evaluated. The implementation rate of Gram stain and sputum culture was 14% at clinics (<20 beds), approximately 30% at small hospitals (20–99 beds), and 40%–45% at medium-sized (100–499 beds) and large hospitals (≥500 beds). As a whole, beta-lactams were most frequently used, accounting for 80% of all antibiotics used. Among beta-lactams, penicillins comprised 25% of the total amount of drugs used at hospitals with ≥300 beds, but approximately 13% at clinics and small hospitals.
Practice patterns varied depending on the size of the medical institution. The implementation rate of bacteriological examinations was not high enough, especially at clinics and small hospitals.
PMCID: PMC3718841  PMID: 23898230
treatment pattern; medical institution size; variability; health insurance claims
7.  Internet Use for Health-Related Information via Personal Computers and Cell Phones in Japan: A Cross-Sectional Population-Based Survey 
The Internet is known to be used for health purposes by the general public all over the world. However, little is known about the use of, attitudes toward, and activities regarding eHealth among the Japanese population.
This study aimed to measure the prevalence of Internet use for health-related information compared with other sources, and to examine the effects on user knowledge, attitudes, and activities with regard to Internet use for health-related information in Japan. We examined the extent of use via personal computers and cell phones.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of a quasi-representative sample (N = 1200) of the Japanese general population aged 15–79 years in September 2007. The main outcome measures were (1) self-reported rates of Internet use in the past year to acquire health-related information and to contact health professionals, family, friends, and peers specifically for health-related purposes, and (2) perceived effects of Internet use on health care.
The prevalence of Internet use via personal computer for acquiring health-related information was 23.8% (286/1200) among those surveyed, whereas the prevalence via cell phone was 6% (77). Internet use via both personal computer and cell phone for communicating with health professionals, family, friends, or peers was not common. The Internet was used via personal computer for acquiring health-related information primarily by younger people, people with higher education levels, and people with higher household incomes. The majority of those who used the Internet for health care purposes responded that the Internet improved their knowledge or affected their lifestyle attitude, and that they felt confident in the health-related information they obtained from the Internet. However, less than one-quarter thought it improved their ability to manage their health or affected their health-related activities.
Japanese moderately used the Internet via personal computers for health purposes, and rarely used the Internet via cell phones. Older people, people with lower education levels, and people with lower household incomes were less likely to access the Internet via cell phone. The Internet moderately improved users’ health-related knowledge and attitudes but seldom changed their health-related abilities and activities. To encourage communication between health providers and consumers, it is important to improve eHealth literacy, especially in middle-aged people. It is also important to make adequate amendments to the reimbursement payment system and nationwide eHealth privacy and security framework, and to develop a collaborative relationship among industry, government, and academia.
PMCID: PMC3278096  PMID: 22169526
eHealth; email; cell phones; health literacy; information-seeking behavior; patient-provider communication
8.  Relationship between subjective fall risk assessment and falls and fall-related fractures in frail elderly people 
BMC Geriatrics  2011;11:40.
Objective measurements can be used to identify people with risks of falls, but many frail elderly adults cannot complete physical performance tests. The study examined the relationship between a subjective risk rating of specific tasks (SRRST) to screen for fall risks and falls and fall-related fractures in frail elderly people.
The SRRST was investigated in 5,062 individuals aged 65 years or older who were utilized day-care services. The SRRST comprised 7 dichotomous questions to screen for fall risks during movements and behaviours such as walking, transferring, and wandering. The history of falls and fall-related fractures during the previous year was reported by participants or determined from an interview with the participant's family and care staff.
All SRRST items showed significant differences between the participants with and without falls and fall-related fractures. In multiple logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, sex, diseases, and behavioural variables, the SRRST score was independently associated with history of falls and fractures. Odds ratios for those in the high-risk SRRST group (≥ 5 points) compared with the no risk SRRST group (0 point) were 6.15 (p < 0.01) for a single fall, 15.04 (p < 0.01) for recurrent falls, and 5.05 (p < 0.01) for fall-related fractures. The results remained essentially unchanged in subgroup analysis accounting for locomotion status.
These results suggest that subjective ratings by care staff can be utilized to determine the risks of falls and fall-related fractures in the frail elderly, however, these preliminary results require confirmation in further prospective research.
PMCID: PMC3167752  PMID: 21838891
9.  Declines in Physical Performance by Sex and Age Among Nondisabled Community-Dwelling Older Japanese During a 6-Year Period 
Journal of Epidemiology  2011;21(3):176-183.
Few studies have examined whether declines over time in hand-grip strength (HGS) and fast walking speed (FWS) differ by sex and age among non-Western community-dwelling older adults. This study aimed to quantify changes in HGS and FWS over the 6-year period from 1994 to 2000 and examine whether these changes differed by sex and baseline age among older individuals in a Japanese community.
We conducted a community-based prospective cohort study. The participants were 513 nondisabled men and women aged 67 to 91 years at the 1994 survey. Independent variables regarding time since baseline, in addition to various time-dependent and time-independent covariates, were obtained in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 2000. The outcome variables were HGS and FWS assessed at each survey. All data on independent and dependent variables that were collected at each survey were simultaneously analyzed using a linear mixed-effects model.
The linear mixed-effects model revealed significant declines in both HGS (−0.70 kg/year, P < 0.001) and FWS (−0.027 m/sec/year, P < 0.001) among nondisabled older participants who had analyzable data in any survey during the 6-year period. Sex was significantly associated with the rate of decline in HGS (P < 0.001), but not FWS (P = 0.211).
In this analysis of nondisabled older Japanese, a mixed-effects model confirmed a significant effect of aging on declines in HGS and FWS and showed that men had a significantly steeper decline in HGS than did women during a 6-year period.
PMCID: PMC3899406  PMID: 21368451
aged; aging; hand-grip strength; walking speed; longitudinal study
10.  Lag time in an incident reporting system at a university hospital in Japan 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2007;16(2):101-104.
Delays and underreporting limit the success of hospital incident reporting systems, but little is known about the causes or implications of delayed reporting.
Setting and methods
The authors examined 6880 incident reports filed by physicians and nurses for three years at a national university hospital in Japan and evaluated the lag time between each incident and the submission of a report.
Although physicians and nurses reported nearly equal numbers of events resulting in major injury (32 v 31), physicians reported far fewer minor incidents (430 v 6387) and far fewer incidents overall (462 v 6418). In univariate analyses, lag time was significantly longer for physicians than nurses (3.79 v 2.20 days; p<0.001). In multivariate analysis, physicians had adjusted reporting lag time 75% longer than nurses (p<0.001) and lag time for major injuries was 18% shorter than for minor injuries (p = 0.011). Adjusted lag time in 2002 and 2004 were 34% longer than in 2003 (p<0.001).
Physicians report fewer incidents than nurses and take longer to report them. Quantitative evaluation of lag time may facilitate improvements in incident reporting systems by distinguishing institutional obstacles to physician reporting from physicians' lesser willingness to report.
PMCID: PMC2653144  PMID: 17403754
11.  Why are physicians not persuaded by scientific evidence? A grounded theory interview study 
The government-led "evidence-based guidelines for cataract treatment" labelled pirenoxine and glutathione eye drops, which have been regarded as the standard care for cataracts in Japan, as lacking evidence of effectiveness, causing great upset among ophthalmologists and professional ophthalmology societies. This study investigated the reasons why such "scientific evidence of treatment effectiveness" is not easily accepted by physicians, and thus, why they do not change their clinical practices to reflect such evidence.
We conducted a qualitative study based on grounded theory to explore physicians' awareness of "scientific evidence" and evidence-supported treatment in relation to pirenoxine and glutathione eye drops, and to identify current barriers to the implementation of evidence-based policies in clinical practice. Interviews were conducted with 35 ophthalmologists and 3 general practitioners on their prescribing behaviours, perceptions of eye drop effectiveness, attitudes toward the eye drop guideline recommendations, and their perceptions of "scientific evidence."
Although few physicians believed that eye drops are remarkably effective, the majority of participants reported that they prescribed eye drops to patients who asked for them, and that such patients accounted for a considerable proportion of those with cataracts. Physicians seldom attempted to explain to patients the limitations of effectiveness or to encourage them to stop taking the eye drops. Physicians also acknowledged the benefits of prescribing such drugs, which ultimately outweighed any uncertainty of their effectiveness. These benefits included economic incentives and a desire to be appreciated by patients. Changes in clinical practice were considered to bring little benefit to physicians or patients. Government approval, rarity of side effects, and low cost of the drops also encouraged prescription.
Physicians occasionally provide treatment without expecting remarkable therapeutic effectiveness, as exemplified by the use of eye drops. This finding highlights that scientific evidence alone cannot easily change physicians' clinical practices, unless evidence-based practices are accepted by the general public and supported by health policy.
PMCID: PMC1555581  PMID: 16872522
12.  Impact of treatment policies on patient outcomes and resource utilization in acute cholecystitis in Japanese hospitals 
Although currently available evidence predominantly recommends early laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) for the treatment of acute cholecystitis, this strategy has not been widely adopted in Japan. Herein, we describe a hospital-based study of patients with acute cholecystitis in 9 Japanese teaching hospitals in order to evaluate the impact of different institutional strategies in treating acute cholecystitis on overall patient outcomes and medical resource utilization.
From an administrative database and chart review, we identified 228 patients diagnosed with acute cholecystitis who underwent cholecystectomy between April 2001 and June 2003. In order to examine the relationship between hospitals' propensity to perform LC and patient outcomes and/or medical resource utilization, we divided the hospitals into three groups according to the observed to expected ratio of performing LC (LC propensity), and compared the postoperative complication rate, length of hospitalization (LOS), and medical charges.
No hospital adopted the policy of early surgery, and the mean overall LOS among the subjects was 30.9 days. The use of laparoscopic surgery varied widely across the hospitals; the adjusted rates of LC to total cholecystectomies ranged from 9.5% to 77%. Although intra-operative complication rate was significantly higher among patients whom LC was initially attempted when compared to those whom OC was initially attempted (9.7% vs. 0%), there was no significant association between LC propensity and postoperative complication rates. Although the postoperative time to oral intake and postoperative LOS was significantly shorter in hospitals with high use of LC, the overall LOS did not differ among hospital groups with different LC propensities. Medical charges were not associated with LC propensity.
Under the prevailing policy of delayed surgery, in terms of the postoperative complication rate and medical resource utilization, our study did not show the superiority of LC in treating acute cholecystitis patients. The timing of surgery and discharge was mainly determined by the institutional policy in Japan, rather than by the clinical course of the patient; however, considering the substantially less postoperative pain and shorter recovery time of LC compared to OC, LC should be actively applied for the treatment of acute cholecystitis. If the policy of early surgery were universally applied, the advantage of LC over OC may be more clearly demonstrated.
PMCID: PMC1488841  PMID: 16569249

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