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author:("kala, Ruth")
1.  Provision of chlamydia testing, and training of primary health care staff about chlamydia testing, across four European countries 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(1):1147.
The objectives of this study were to describe and compare chlamydia testing provided by general practitioners (GPs) in four selected European countries with well-developed primary health care systems and high reported chlamydia rates; we aimed to compare contrasting countries where chlamydia testing is provided by GPs (England, Sweden) with countries where primary care chlamydia testing is absent or very limited (France, Estonia).
For data generation a structured questionnaire was developed and secondary data sources were searched. The questionnaire developed by the research team allowed a systematic approach to analysing chlamydia care (including testing in general practice) and the gathering of relevant data.
There were no significant differences in the burden of the disease or the type of general practice care provision in the study countries. In all four countries, testing for chlamydia (with nucleic acid amplification test, NAAT) is available in the public sector, a substantial proportion (>60%) of young people aged 16–25 years visit their general practitioner (GP) annually, and reimbursement for chlamydia testing costs to the relevant parties (GPs in England, Sweden and Estonia; and patients in France) by the national health insurance system or its equivalent.
In countries where chlamydia testing is provided by GPs (England, Sweden) a national strategy or plan on STI control that specifically mentions chlamydia was in force, chlamydia care guidelines for GPs were in place and STI management was more firmly established in the GP residency training curriculum, either formally (England) or informally (Sweden), than in the other countries.
Future research on the effectiveness of chlamydia screening (also in the context of general practice care) and program provision should reflect national needs and the prevention of complications.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1147) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4240879  PMID: 25374092
Chlamydia; Testing; Training; General practice; Europe
2.  Physical activity of Estonian family doctors and their counselling for a healthy lifestyle: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:48.
Physical activity offers major health benefits and counselling for it should be integrated into the medical consultation. Based on the literature, the personal health behaviour of the physician (including physical activity) is associated with his/her approach to counselling patients. Our hypothesis is that family doctors (FD) in Estonia are physically active and their recommendation to counsel patients with chronic diseases to use physical activity is high. The study was also interested in how FDs value physical activity among other important determinants of a healthy lifestyle, e.g. nutrition, non-consumption of alcohol, and non-smoking.
Physicians on the electronic list were contacted by e-mail and sent a questionnaire. The first part assessed physical activity by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) short form. Self-reported physical activity during one week was calculated as total physical activity in minutes per week (MET min/week). The second part of the questionnaire included questions about the counselling of patients with chronic disease concerning their physical activity and a healthy lifestyle. The study focused on female FDs because 95% of the FDs in Estonia are women and to avoid bias related to gender.
198 female FDs completed the questionnaire. 92% reported that they exercised over the past 7 days to a moderate or high level of physical activity. Analysis revealed no statistically significant relationship between the level of physical activity and general characteristics (age, living area, body mass index [BMI], time spent sitting). FDs reported that patients with heart problems, diabetes, and obesity seek their advice on physical activity more often than patients with depression. Over 94% of the FDs claimed that they counsel their patients with chronic diseases about exercising. According to the FDs' reports, the most important topic in counselling patients for a healthy lifestyle was physical activity.
This study showed that female FDs are physically active. The level of physical activity is not related to their age, BMI, living area, or time spent sitting. Also, FDs reported that promotion of physical activity is part of their everyday work.
PMCID: PMC2909965  PMID: 20565892
3.  Depression and musculoskeletal problems 
PMCID: PMC2605532  PMID: 19105917
4.  Patients with depressive disorder, their co-morbidity, visiting rate and disability in relation to self-evaluation of physical and mental health: a cross-sectional study in family practice 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:38.
High prevalence of depression among primary care patients has increased the need for more research in this field. The objectives of our study were to analyse how depressed patients evaluate their health; which co-morbid diseases are associated with depression; how depression influences the patients' consultation rate in family practice (FP); how disability is associated with depression; and how depression influences the patients' working ability.
A cross-sectional study, part of the PREDICT study. The study group was formed of 1094 consecutive patients from 23 FPs across Estonia, aged 18–75 years, attending a FP to consult the family doctor (FD). Occurrence of major depression during six months was estimated using the Depression Section of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. The medical records of all patients were analysed concerning co-morbid diseases, number of visits to the FD, and disability. Every patient filled in questionnaires to assess health-related risk factors for depression, and the SF-12 Health Survey to assess functioning and the perception of health.
Depression was found in 230 (21%) of the patients. Depressed patients reported less accomplishment owing to emotional problems (OR 1.80; 95% CI 1.18–2.72), being less careful as usual (OR 1.81; 95% CI 1.26–2.60), and having pain that extremely interfered with their normal work (OR 2.50; 95% CI 1.33–4.70) in comparison with non-depressed patients. Also depressed patients were more days on sick-leave (OR 1.00; 95% CI 1.00–1.01) than non-depressed patients. However, analysis of the medical records did not indicate that depressed patients consulted the FD more or had more co-morbid diagnoses than the non-depressed patients.
Depressed patients may have low self-reported functioning due to emotional problems, pain, and their working ability may have decreased; however, the patients of both groups have an equal number of co-morbid diagnoses and their consultation rate is similar.
PMCID: PMC2696418  PMID: 19486534
5.  Predictors of quality of life of patients with type 2 diabetes 
Researchers have shown that patients with type 2 diabetes have a lower quality of life than the general population and also somewhat lower than patients with other chronic diseases. Thus one of the most important outcomes of treatment is optimizing the quality of life of the patient. This study examines the factors that most strongly influence the quality of life of patients with type 2 diabetes.
200 patients with type 2 diabetes were studied in Estonia in 2004–2005. A patient blood sample, taken during a visit to the family doctor, was collected. The family doctor also provided data on each patient’s body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and medications for treatment of type 2 diabetes. Patients completed a SF-36 during a doctor visit, and also a special questionnaire which we provided to study their awareness about diabetes type 2.
The mean age of the respondents was 64.7 (±11.1) years and the mean duration of the diabetes was 7.5 (±1.8) years. Logistic regression analysis showed that quality of life was most significantly affected by awareness of the complications and risk-factors of diabetes, and by the age, duration of the disease, and BMI of the patient. Patients who were less aware had a significantly higher quality of life score (p < 0.001 in all cases). The age and BMI of the patients as well as the duration of the diabetes all lowered the score of the quality of life.
The results suggest that the main challenges for physicians in management of diabetes type 2 are modifying patient BMI and patient awareness.
PMCID: PMC2770386  PMID: 19920940
diabetes type 2; quality of life; SF-36; awareness of patients; body mass index
6.  Family medicine in the Baltic countries 
PMCID: PMC3406650  PMID: 18570002
7.  Family doctors' problems and motivating factors in management of depression 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:64.
Depression is a frequent psychiatric disorder, and depressive patient may be more problematic for the family doctors (FD) than a patient suffering from a somatic disease. Treatment of patients with depressive disorders is a relatively new task for Estonian FDs. The aim of our study was to find out the family doctors' attitudes to depression related problems, their readiness, motivating factors and problems in the treatment of depressive patients as well as the existence of relevant knowledge.
In 2002, altogether 500 FDs in Estonia were invited to take part in a tailor-made questionnaire survey, of which 205 agreed to participate.
Of the respondents 185(90%) considered management of depressive patients and their treatment to be the task of FDs. One hundred and eighty FDs (88%) were themselves ready to deal with depressed patients, and 200(98%) of them actually treated such patients. Commitment to the interests of the patients, better cooperation with successfully treated patients, the patients' higher confidence in FDs and disappearance of somatic complaints during the treatment of depression were the motivating factors for FDs. FDs listed several important problems interfering with their work with depressive patients: limited time for one patient, patients' attitudes towards the diagnosis of depression, doctors' difficulties to change the underlying causes of depression, discontinuation of the treatment due to high expenses and length. Although 115(56%) respondents maintained that they had sufficient knowledge for diagnostics and treatment of depression, 181(88%) were of the opinion that they needed additional training.
FDs are ready to manage patients who might suffer from depression and are motivated by good doctor-patient relationship. However, majority of them feel that they need additional training.
PMCID: PMC1635052  PMID: 17074079
8.  Family doctors' knowledge and self-reported care of type 2 diabetes patients in comparison to the clinical practice guideline: cross-sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:36.
It is widely believed that providing doctors with guidelines will lead to more effective clinical practice and better patient care. However, different studies have shown contradictory results in quality improvement as a result of guideline implementation. The aim of this study was to compare family doctors' knowledge and self-reported care of type 2 diabetes patients with recommendation standards of the clinical practice guideline.
In April 2003 a survey was conducted among family doctors in Estonia. The structured questionnaire focused on the knowledge and self-reported behavior of doctors regarding the guideline of type 2 diabetes. The demographic and professional data of the respondents was also provided.
Of the 354 questionnaires distributed, 163 were returned for a response rate of 46%. Seventy-six percent of the responded doctors stated that they had a copy of the guideline available while 24% reported that they did not. Eighty-three percent of the doctors considered it applicable and 79% reported using it in daily practice. The doctors tended to start treatment with medications and were satisfied with treatment outcomes at higher fasting blood glucose levels than the levels recommended in the guideline. Doctors' self-reported performance of the tests and examinations named in the guideline, which should be performed within a certain time limit, varied from overuse to underuse. Blood pressure, serum creatinine, eye examination and checking patients' ability to manage their diabetes were the best-followed items while glycosylated hemoglobin and weight reduction were the most poorly followed. Doctors' behavior was not related to the fact of whether they had the guideline available, whether they considered it applicable, or whether they actually used it.
Doctors' knowledge and self-reported behavior in patient follow-up of type 2 diabetes is very variable and is not related to the reported availability or usage of the guideline. Practice guidelines may be a useful source of information but they should not be overestimated.
PMCID: PMC1513575  PMID: 16776847
9.  Prediction of depression in European general practice attendees: the PREDICT study 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:6.
Prevention of depression must address multiple risk factors. Estimating overall risk across a range of putative risk factors is fundamental to prevention of depression. However, we lack reliable and valid methods of risk estimation. This protocol paper introduces PREDICT, an international research study to address this risk estimation.
This is a prospective study in which consecutive general practice attendees in six European countries are recruited and followed up after six and 12 months. Prevalence of depression is assessed at baseline and each follow-up point. Consecutive attendees between April 2003 and September 2004 who were aged 18 to 75 were asked to take part. The possibility of a depressive episode was assessed using the Depression Section of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. A selection of presumed risk factors was based on our previous work and a systematic review of the literature. It was necessary to evaluate the test-retest reliability of a number of risk factor questions that were developed specifically, or adapted, for the PREDICT study. In a separate reliability study conducted between January and November 2003, consecutive general practice attendees in the six participating European countries completed the risk factor items on two occasions, two weeks apart. The overall response rate at entry to the study was 69%. We exceeded our expected recruitment rate, achieving a total of 10,048 people in all. Reliability coefficients were generally good to excellent.
Response rate to follow-up in all countries was uniformly high, which suggests that prediction will be based on almost a full cohort. The results of our reliability analysis are encouraging and suggest that data collected during the course of PREDICT will have a satisfactory level of stability. The development of a multi-factor risk score for depression will lay the foundation for future research on risk reduction in primary care. Our data will also provide the necessary evidence base on which to develop and evaluate interventions to reduce the prevalence of depression.
PMCID: PMC1368984  PMID: 16409633
10.  Family doctors' involvement with families in Estonia 
BMC Family Practice  2004;5:24.
Family doctors should care for individuals in the context of their family. Family has a powerful influence on health and illness and family interventions have been shown to improve health outcomes for a variety of health problems. The aim of the study was to investigate the Estonian family doctors' (FD) attitudes to the patients' family-related issues in their work: to explore the degree of FDs involvement in family matters, their preparedness for management of family-related issues and their self-assessment of the ability to manage different family-related problems.
A random sample (n = 236) of all FDs in Estonia was investigated using a postal questionnaire. Altogether 151 FDs responded to the questionnaire (response rate 64%), while five of them were excluded as they did not actually work as FDs.
Of the respondents, 90% thought that in managing the health problems of patients FDs should communicate and cooperate with family members. Although most of the family doctors agreed that modifying of the health damaging risk factors (smoking, alcohol and drug abuse) of their patients and families is their task, one third of them felt that dealing with these problems is ineffective, or perceived themselves as poorly prepared or having too little time for such activities. Of the respondents, 58% (n = 83) were of the opinion that they could modify also relationship problems.
Estonian family doctors are favourably disposed to involvement in family-related problems, however, they need some additional training, especially in the field of relationship management.
PMCID: PMC526768  PMID: 15504236

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