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1.  Self-Management education for adults with poorly controlled epILEpsy (SMILE (UK)): a randomised controlled trial protocol 
BMC Neurology  2014;14:69.
Background
Teaching people with epilepsy to identify and manage seizure triggers, implement strategies to remember to take antiepileptic drugs, implement precautions to minimize risks during seizures, tell others what to do during a seizure and learn what to do during recovery may lead to better self-management. No teaching programme exists for adults with epilepsy in the United Kingdom although a number of surveys have shown patients want more information.
Methods/Design
This is a multicentre, pragmatic, parallel group randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a two-day Self-Management education for epILEpsy (SMILE (UK)), which was originally developed in Germany (MOSES).
Four hundred and twenty eight adult patients who attended specialist epilepsy outpatient clinics at 15 NHS participating sites in the previous 12 months, and who fulfil other eligibility criteria will be randomised to receive the intervention (SMILE (UK) course with treatment as usual- TAU) or to have TAU only (control). The primary outcome is the effect on patient reported quality of life (QoL). Secondary outcomes are seizure frequency and psychological distress (anxiety and depression), perceived impact of epilepsy, adherence to medication, management of adverse effects from medication, and improved self-efficacy in management (mastery/control) of epilepsy.
Within the trial there will be a nested qualitative study to explore users’ views of the intervention, including barriers to participation and the perceived benefits of the intervention. The cost-effectiveness of the intervention will also be assessed.
Discussion
This study will provide quantitative and qualitative evidence of the impact of a structured self management programme on quality of life and other aspects of clinical and cost effectiveness in adults with poorly controlled epilepsy.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN57937389.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-14-69
PMCID: PMC3976555  PMID: 24694207
Epilepsy; Seizures; Self-management education; Clinical trial; Quality of life
2.  Organ Donation Knowledge and Attitudes among Health Science Students in Greece: Emerging Interprofessional Needs 
Background: The impact of presumed consent on donation rates has been widely debated. In June 2013 Greece adopted a 'soft' presumed consent law for organ and tissue donation, where relatives' approval is sought prior to organ removal.
Aims: To report on the knowledge, attitudes and concerns of undergraduate students, enrolled in three health science disciplines, in regards to organ donation and presumed consent.
Methods: Undergraduate junior and senior health science students [medical (MS), nursing (NS) and medical laboratory students (MLS)] were recruited from higher education settings in Thessaly, Greece. Dichotomous questions, previously used, were adopted to assess knowledge, attitudes and concerns towards organ donation, together with questions regarding the recent presumed consent legislation.
Results: Three hundred seventy-one out of 510 students participated in the study (response rate: 72.7%). Only 3.6% of NS, 8.7% of MS and 3.2% of MLS carried a donor card. Although over 78% in all groups knew that it was possible to leave kidneys for transplant after death, only 10% to 39% considered themselves well-informed. NS were more likely to consider opting-out (21.5%), followed by MLS (17.9%) and MS (10.9%). Respondents were more likely to refuse organ removal upon death when expressing one of the following views: a) opposing a system making it lawful to take kidneys from an adult who has just died, unless forbidden while alive [Odds ratio (OR) 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 2.96 (1.48-5.93), p=0.002], b) worrying about their kidneys being removed after death [OR, 95% CI: 3.37 (1.75-6.49), p=<0.001] and c) believing that an intact body was needed after death [OR, 95% CI: 4.23 (2.15-8.31), p<0.001].
Conclusion: Health science students, soon to become healthcare professionals, demonstrated limited awareness in regards to the newly reformed organ donation system. Identified knowledge deficits and concerns could have far-reaching implications in terms of conveying a clear message and shaping the public's stand. The feasibility and effectiveness of a joint inter-professional curriculum on organ and tissue donation issues across all three health science disciplines, addressing common themes and concerns deserves further study.
doi:10.7150/ijms.8686
PMCID: PMC4003550  PMID: 24782654
organ donation; knowledge; attitudes; interprofessional; Greece
3.  What are effective approaches to increasing rates of organ donor registration among ethnic minority populations: a systematic review 
BMJ Open  2013;3(12):e003453.
Objectives
To identify effective interventions to increase organ donor registration and improve knowledge about organ donation among ethnic minorities in North America and the UK.
Design
Systematic review.
Data Sources
MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Cochrane Central searched up to November 2012, together with four trials databases and the grey literature.
Review methods
A systematic search followed by assessment of eligibility and quality. An interpretive and thematic approach to synthesis was undertaken. This examined the nature and delivery of interventions in relation to a range of outcomes: verified registration, changing knowledge and a measured shift towards greater readiness.
Results
18 studies were included in the review, comprising educational and mass media interventions. Mass media interventions alone reported no significant change in the intention or willingness to register. Educational interventions either alone or combined with mass media approaches were more effective in increasing registration rates, with a strong interpersonal component and an immediate opportunity to register identified as important characteristics in successful change.
Conclusions
Effective interventions need to be matched to the populations’ stage of readiness to register. Measured outcomes should include registration and shifts along the pathway towards this behavioural outcome.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003453
PMCID: PMC3884619  PMID: 24362010
4.  Development and evaluation of the feasibility and effects on staff, patients, and families of a new tool, the Psychosocial Assessment and Communication Evaluation (PACE), to improve communication and palliative care in intensive care and during clinical uncertainty 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:213.
Background
There are widespread concerns about communication and support for patients and families, especially when they face clinical uncertainty, a situation most marked in intensive care units (ICUs). Therefore, we aimed to develop and evaluate an interventional tool to improve communication and palliative care, using the ICU as an example of where this is difficult.
Methods
Our design was a phase I-II study following the Medical Research Council Guidance for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions and the (Methods of Researching End-of-life Care (MORECare) statement. In two ICUs, with over 1900 admissions annually, phase I modeled a new intervention comprising implementation training and an assessment tool. We conducted a literature review, qualitative interviews, and focus groups with 40 staff and 13 family members. This resulted in the new tool, the Psychosocial Assessment and Communication Evaluation (PACE). Phase II evaluated the feasibility and effects of PACE, using observation, record audit, and surveys of staff and family members. Qualitative data were analyzed using the framework approach. The statistical tests used on quantitative data were t-tests (for normally distributed characteristics), the χ2 or Fisher’s exact test (for non-normally distributed characteristics) and the Mann–Whitney U-test (for experience assessments) to compare the characteristics and experience for cases with and without PACE recorded.
Results
PACE provides individualized assessments of all patients entering the ICU. It is completed within 24 to 48 hours of admission, and covers five aspects (key relationships, social details and needs, patient preferences, communication and information status, and other concerns), followed by recording of an ongoing communication evaluation. Implementation is supported by a training program with specialist palliative care. A post-implementation survey of 95 ICU staff found that 89% rated PACE assessment as very or generally useful. Of 213 family members, 165 (78%) responded to their survey, and two-thirds had PACE completed. Those for whom PACE was completed reported significantly higher satisfaction with symptom control, and the honesty and consistency of information from staff (Mann–Whitney U-test ranged from 616 to 1247, P-values ranged from 0.041 to 0.010) compared with those who did not.
Conclusions
PACE is a feasible interventional tool that has the potential to improve communication, information consistency, and family perceptions of symptom control.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-213
PMCID: PMC3850793  PMID: 24083470
Palliative care; Communication; Uncertainty; Critical care unit; Intensive therapy unit; End-of-life care; Intensive care unit; Psychosocial
5.  Immigrant women’s experiences of postpartum depression in Canada: a protocol for systematic review using a narrative synthesis 
Systematic Reviews  2013;2:65.
Background
Literature documents that immigrant women in Canada have a higher prevalence of postpartum depression symptomatology than Canadian-born women. There exists a need to synthesize information on the contextual factors and social determinants of health that influence immigrant women’s reception of and behavior in accessing existing mental health services. Our research question is: what are the ethnoculturally defined patterns of help-seeking behaviors and decision-making and other predictive factors for therapeutic mental health care access and outcomes with respect to postpartum depression for immigrant women in Canada?
Methods/design
Our synthesis incorporates a systematic review using narrative synthesis of reports (peer- and non-peer reviewed) of empirical research and aims to provide stakeholders with perspectives on postpartum mental health care services as experienced by immigrant women. To reach this goal we are using integrated knowledge translation, thus partnering with key stakeholders throughout the planning, implementation and dissemination stages to ensure topic relevancy and impact on future practice and policy. The search and selection strategies draw upon established systematic review methodologies as outlined by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination and also incorporate guidelines for selection and appraisal of gray literature. Two search phases (a database and a gray literature phase) will identify literature for screening and final selection based on an inclusion/exclusion checklist. Quality appraisal will be performed using the tools produced by the Centre for Evidence Based Management. The narrative synthesis will be informed by Popay et al. (2006) framework using identified tools for each of its four elements. The integrated knowledge translation plan will ensure key messages are delivered in an audience-specific manner to optimize their impact on policy and practice change throughout health service, public health, immigration and community sectors.
Discussion
The narrative synthesis methodology will facilitate understandings and acknowledgement of the broader influences of theoretical and contextual variables, such as race, gender, socio-economic status, pre-migration history and geographical location. Our review aims to have a substantive and sustainable impact on health outcomes, practice, programs and/or policy in the context of postpartum mental health of immigrant women. PROSPERO registration number CRD42012003020.
doi:10.1186/2046-4053-2-65
PMCID: PMC3765819  PMID: 23965183
Narrative synthesis; Immigrant women; Postpartum depression; Maternity care experiences; Canada; Systematic review protocol
6.  Evaluating complex interventions in End of Life Care: the MORECare Statement on good practice generated by a synthesis of transparent expert consultations and systematic reviews 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:111.
Background
Despite being a core business of medicine, end of life care (EoLC) is neglected. It is hampered by research that is difficult to conduct with no common standards. We aimed to develop evidence-based guidance on the best methods for the design and conduct of research on EoLC to further knowledge in the field.
Methods
The Methods Of Researching End of life Care (MORECare) project built on the Medical Research Council guidance on the development and evaluation of complex circumstances. We conducted systematic literature reviews, transparent expert consultations (TEC) involving consensus methods of nominal group and online voting, and stakeholder workshops to identify challenges and best practice in EoLC research, including: participation recruitment, ethics, attrition, integration of mixed methods, complex outcomes and economic evaluation. We synthesised all findings to develop a guidance statement on the best methods to research EoLC.
Results
We integrated data from three systematic reviews and five TECs with 133 online responses. We recommend research designs extending beyond randomised trials and encompassing mixed methods. Patients and families value participation in research, and consumer or patient collaboration in developing studies can resolve some ethical concerns. It is ethically desirable to offer patients and families the opportunity to participate in research. Outcome measures should be short, responsive to change and ideally used for both clinical practice and research. Attrition should be anticipated in studies and may affirm inclusion of the relevant population, but careful reporting is necessitated using a new classification. Eventual implementation requires consideration at all stages of the project.
Conclusions
The MORECare statement provides 36 best practice solutions for research evaluating services and treatments in EoLC to improve study quality and set the standard for future research. The statement may be used alongside existing statements and provides a first step in setting common, much needed standards for evaluative research in EoLC. These are relevant to those undertaking research, trainee researchers, research funders, ethical committees and editors.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-111
PMCID: PMC3635872  PMID: 23618406
Palliative care; Terminal care; Research design; Methods; Evaluation studies; Review; Consensus
7.  Shifting towards an Opt-Out System in Greece: A General Practice Based Pilot Study 
New legislation in Greece towards presumed consent for organ donation, effective as of June 2013, has come at a critical moment. This pilot study aims to explore awareness, specific concerns and intentions about the new organ donation framework among patients attending Greek general practices in a rural and urban setting. Only 2.6% of respondents had a donor card, a mere 9.6% was aware of new legislation, whereas only 3.8% considered that the public had been adequately informed. Higher income respondents were more likely to be aware that they would be considered organ donors upon death, unless declared differently. Urban practice respondents were less likely to have previously discussed with a significant other their intentions in regards to presumed consent. One quarter of all respondents (22.4%) intended to carry out their right to prohibit organ removal upon death. Survey results reveal that organ donation reform has yet to be disseminated by the Greek society, underscoring the urgency for targeted information campaigns.
doi:10.7150/ijms.7027
PMCID: PMC3775113  PMID: 24046530
organ donation; presumed consent; opt-out; general practice; Greece
8.  Immigrant women’s experiences of maternity-care services in Canada: a protocol for systematic review using a narrative synthesis 
Systematic Reviews  2012;1:27.
Background
Canada’s diverse society and statutory commitment to multiculturalism means that the synthesis of knowledge related to the health care experiences of immigrants is essential to realize the health potential for future Canadians. Although concerns about the maternity experiences of immigrants in Canada are relatively new, recent national guidelines explicitly call for tailoring of services to user needs. We are therefore assessing the experiences of immigrant women in Canada accessing maternity-care services. We are focusing on: 1) accessibility and acceptability (as an important dimension of access) to maternity-care services as perceived and experienced by immigrant women, and 2) the birth and postnatal outcomes of these women.
Methods
The aim of this study is to use a narrative synthesis, incorporating both a systematic review using narrative synthesis of reports of empirical research (qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method designs), and a literature review of non-empirically based reports, both of which include ‘grey’ literature. The study aims to provide stakeholders with perspectives on maternity-care services as experienced by immigrant women. To achieve this, we are using integrated knowledge translation, partnering with key stakeholders to ensure topic relevancy and to tailor recommendations for effective translation into future policy and practice/programming. Two search phases and a three-stage selection process are being conducted (database search retrieved 1487 hits excluding duplicates) to provide evidence to contribute jointly to both the narrative synthesis and the non-empirical literature review. The narrative synthesis will be informed by the previous framework published in 2006 by Popay et al., using identified tools for each of its four elements. The non-empirical literature review will build upon the narrative-synthesis findings and/or identify omissions or gaps in the empirical research literature. The integrated knowledge translation plan will ensure that key messages are delivered in an audience-specific manner to optimize their effect on policy and practice change throughout the health service, and the public health, immigration and community sectors.
Discussion
Narrative-synthesis methods of systematic review facilitate understanding and acknowledgement of the broader influences of theoretical and contextual variables, such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and geographical location. They also enable understanding of the shaping of differences between reported outcomes and study designs related to childbearing populations, and the development and implementation of maternity services and health interventions across diverse settings.
PROSPERO registration
Number 2185.
doi:10.1186/2046-4053-1-27
PMCID: PMC3433387  PMID: 22651573
Narrative synthesis; Immigrant women; Maternity-care experiences; Canada; Study protocol; Mixed research design review
9.  Service use and costs for people with headache: a UK primary care study 
The Journal of Headache and Pain  2011;12(6):617-623.
This paper aims to estimate the service and social costs of headache presenting in primary care and to identify predictors of headache costs. Patients were recruited from GP practices in England and service use and lost employment recorded. Predictors of cost were identified using regression models. Service and social costs were available on 288 and 282 patients, respectively. Average service costs over 3 months were £117 whilst total costs (including lost production) were £582. Patients referred to neurologists had service costs that were £82 higher than those not referred (90% CI £36–£128). Costs including lost employment were higher by £150, but this was not significant (90% CI -£139–£439). The annual mean service and social costs, weighted to represent population rates of referral, were £468 and £2328, respectively. Higher costs were significantly related to pain. Age was linked to higher service costs and lower social costs. The figures extrapolated to the whole of the UK suggest £956 million due to service use and £4.8 billion including lost employment. These are likely to be underestimates because many people experiencing headaches do not consult their GP.
doi:10.1007/s10194-011-0362-0
PMCID: PMC3208040  PMID: 21744225
Economics; Costs analysis; Primary care; Headache
10.  Service use and costs for people with headache: a UK primary care study 
The Journal of Headache and Pain  2011;12(6):617-623.
This paper aims to estimate the service and social costs of headache presenting in primary care and to identify predictors of headache costs. Patients were recruited from GP practices in England and service use and lost employment recorded. Predictors of cost were identified using regression models. Service and social costs were available on 288 and 282 patients, respectively. Average service costs over 3 months were £117 whilst total costs (including lost production) were £582. Patients referred to neurologists had service costs that were £82 higher than those not referred (90% CI £36–£128). Costs including lost employment were higher by £150, but this was not significant (90% CI -£139–£439). The annual mean service and social costs, weighted to represent population rates of referral, were £468 and £2328, respectively. Higher costs were significantly related to pain. Age was linked to higher service costs and lower social costs. The figures extrapolated to the whole of the UK suggest £956 million due to service use and £4.8 billion including lost employment. These are likely to be underestimates because many people experiencing headaches do not consult their GP.
doi:10.1007/s10194-011-0362-0
PMCID: PMC3208040  PMID: 21744225
Economics; Costs analysis; Primary care; Headache
11.  Parental attitudes towards the management of asthma in ethnic minorities 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2007;92(12):1082-1087.
Objectives
Children from Indian and Pakistani (South Asian) and black minority groups have relatively high rates of attendance at accident and emergency (A&E) departments and admissions to hospital in the UK. We examine parents' beliefs and management of childhood asthma that possibly contribute to their greater use of hospital services.
Design
Questionnaire survey.
Setting
Three London hospitals serving multicultural communities with a high proportion of South Asian subjects.
Participants
Parent(s) accompanying 150 children aged 3–9 years with asthma attending asthma clinics and A&E departments.
Main outcome measures
White, South Asian and “other” ethnic group parents were compared regarding their children's symptoms and asthma in relation to why their children had developed asthma, use of asthma treatments, views about the prognosis of their children's asthma, and their feelings associated with stigma.
Results
South Asian more often than white parents stated that they did not give preventers to their children (odds ratio (OR) 0.30; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.12 to 0.75), that most drugs were “addictive” (OR 3.89; 95% CI 1.47 to 10.27), and that medicines could do more harm than good (OR 3.19; 95% CI 1.22 to 8.34). South Asian and “other” ethnic groups were more reluctant to tell others about their children's asthma (OR 0.11; 95% CI 0.01 to 1.06 and OR 0.06; 95% CI 0.01 to 0.65, respectively).
Conclusion
Cultural perspectives related to ethnicity are key factors in the understanding of asthma management. Health staff should give high priority to eliciting parents' beliefs regarding management of their children's asthma.
doi:10.1136/adc.2006.112037
PMCID: PMC2066074  PMID: 17284478
12.  Ethnicity and attitudes to deceased kidney donation: a survey in Barbados and comparison with Black Caribbean people in the United Kingdom 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:266.
Background
Black minority ethnic groups in the UK have relatively low rates of deceased donation and report a higher prevalence of beliefs that are regarded as barriers to donation. However there is little data from migrants' countries of origin. This paper examines community attitudes to deceased kidney donation in Barbados and compares the findings with a survey conducted in a disadvantaged multi-ethnic area of south London.
Methods
Questionnaires were administered at four public health centres in Barbados and at three private general practices. Adjusted odds ratios were calculated to compare attitudinal responses with a prior survey of 328 Caribbean and 808 White respondents in south London.
Results
Questionnaires were completed by 327 respondents in Barbados (93% response); 42% men and 58% women, with a mean age of 40.4 years (SD 12.6). The main religious groups were Anglican (29%) and Pentecostal (24%). Educational levels ranged from 18% not completing 5th form to 12% with university education. Attitudes to the notion of organ donation were favourable, with 73% willing to donate their kidneys after their death and only 5% definitely against this. Most preferred an opt-in system of donation. Responses to nine attitudinal questions identified 18% as having no concerns and 9% as having 4 or more concerns. The highest level of concern (43%) was for lack of confidence that medical teams would try as hard to save the life of a person who has agreed to donate organs. There was no significant association between age, gender, education or religion and attitudinal barriers, but greater knowledge of donation had some positive effect on attitudes. Comparison of attitudes to donation in south London and Barbados (adjusting for gender, age, level of education, employment status) indicated that a significantly higher proportion of the south London Caribbean respondents identified attitudinal barriers to donation.
Conclusions
Community attitudes in Barbados are favourable to deceased donation based on a system of informed consent. Comparison with south London data supports the hypothesis that the relatively high prevalence of negative attitudes to deceased donation among disadvantaged ethnic minorities in high income countries may reflect feelings of marginalisation and lack of belonging.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-266
PMCID: PMC2893092  PMID: 20492664
13.  Kidney organ donation: developing family practice initiatives to reverse inertia 
Background
Kidney transplantation is associated with greater long term survival rates and improved quality of life compared with dialysis. Continuous growth in the number of patients with kidney failure has not been matched by an increase in the availability of kidneys for transplantation. This leads to long waiting lists, higher treatment costs and negative health outcomes.
Discussion
Misunderstandings, public uncertainty and issues of trust in the medical system, that limit willingness to be registered as a potential donor, could be addressed by community dissemination of information and new family practice initiatives that respond to individuals' personal beliefs and concerns regarding organ donation and transplantation.
Summary
Tackling both personal and public inertia on organ donation is important for any community oriented kidney donation campaign.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-127
PMCID: PMC2881059  PMID: 20478042
14.  Attitudes to kidney donation among primary care patients in rural Crete, Greece 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:54.
Background
In Greece, there is limited research on issues related to organ donation, and the low rate of registration as donors requires explanation. This study reports the findings of a survey of knowledge and attitudes to kidney donation among primary care patients in rural Crete, Greece.
Methods
Two rural primary care settings in the island of Crete, Anogia Health Centre and Vrachasi Practice, were involved in a questionnaire survey. This was conducted among primary care patients (aged 18 years and over) with routine appointments, to assess their knowledge and attitudes to kidney donation. General practitioners (GPs) recruited patients and questionnaires were completed following the patients' medical consultation. Pearson's chi square tests were used and crude odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated in order to investigate into the possible associations between the respondents' knowledge, attitudes and specific concerns in relation to their socio-demographic features. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine differences by geographical location.
Results
The 224 (92.5%) of the 242 primary care attenders who were approached agreed to participate. Only 2.2% (5/224) of the respondents carried a donor card. Most participants (84.4%, 189/224) did not feel well informed about registering as a kidney donor. More than half of the respondents (54.3%, 121/223) were unwilling to register as a kidney donor and donate kidneys for transplant after death. Over a third of respondents (35.4%, 79/223) were not confident that medical teams would try as hard as possible to save the life of a person who has agreed to donate organs. People with a higher level of education were more likely to be willing to register as kidney donors [(OR: 3.3; 95% CI: 1.8–6.0), p < 0.001)] and to be less worried about their kidneys being removed after death [(OR: 0.3; 95% CI: 0.1–0.5), p < 0.001)] than those having a lower level of education.
Conclusion
Lack of knowledge and information regarding organ donation and negative attitudes related to registration as donors were the main findings of this study. Efforts should be based on targeting the attitudes to organ donation of individuals and population groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-54
PMCID: PMC2660320  PMID: 19208215
15.  Effect of social deprivation on blood pressure monitoring and control in England: a survey of data from the quality and outcomes framework 
Objective To determine levels of blood pressure monitoring and control in primary care and to determine the effect of social deprivation on these levels.
Design Retrospective longitudinal survey, 2005 to 2007.
Setting General practices in England.
Participants Data obtained from 8515 practices (99.3% of all practices) in year 1, 8264 (98.3%) in year 2, and 8192 (97.8%) in year 3.
Main outcome measures Blood pressure indicators and chronic disease prevalence estimates contained within the UK quality and outcomes framework; social deprivation scores for each practice, ethnicity data obtained from the 2001 national census; general practice characteristics.
Results In 2005, 82.3% of adults (n=52.8m) had an up to date blood pressure recording; by 2007, this proportion had risen to 88.3% (n=53.2m). Initially, there was a 1.7% gap between mean blood pressure recording levels in practices located in the least deprived fifth of communities compared with the most deprived fifth, but, three years later, this gap had narrowed to 0.2%. Achievement of target blood pressure levels in 2005 for practices located in the least deprived communities ranged from 71.0% (95% CI 70.4% to 71.6%) for diabetes to 85.1% (84.7% to 85.6%) for coronary heart disease; practices in the most deprived communities achieved 68.9% (68.4% to 69.5%) and 81.8 % (81.3% to 82.3%) respectively. Three years later, target achievement in the least deprived practices had risen to 78.6% (78.1% to 79.1%) and 89.4% (89.1% to 89.7%) respectively. Target achievement in the most deprived practices rose similarly, to 79.2% (78.8% to 79.6%) and 88.4% (88.2% to 88.7%) respectively. Similar changes were observed for the achievement of blood pressure targets in hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease.
Conclusions Since the reporting of performance indicators for primary care and the incorporation of pay for performance in 2004, blood pressure monitoring and control have improved substantially. Improvements in achievement have been accompanied by the near disappearance of the achievement gap between least and most deprived areas.
doi:10.1136/bmj.a2030
PMCID: PMC2590907  PMID: 18957697
16.  How do patients referred to neurologists for headache differ from those managed in primary care? 
Background
Headache is the neurological symptom most frequently presented to GPs and referred to neurologists, but little is known about how referred patients differ from patients managed by GPs.
Aim
To describe and compare headache patients managed in primary care with those referred to neurologists.
Design of study
Prospective study.
Setting
Eighteen general practices in south-east England.
Method
This study examined 488 eligible patients consulting GPs with primary headache over 7 weeks and 81 patients referred to neurologists over 1 year. Headache disability was measured by the Migraine Disability Assessment Score, headache impact by the Headache Impact Test, emotional distress by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and illness perception was assessed using the Illness Perception Questionnaire.
Results
Participants were 303 patients who agreed to participate. Both groups reported severe disability and very severe impact on functioning. Referred patients consulted more frequently than those not referred in the 3 months before referral (P = 0.003). There was no significant difference between GP-managed and referred groups in mean headache disability, impact, anxiety, depression, or satisfaction with care. The referred group were more likely to link an increased number of symptoms to their headaches (P = 0.01), to have stronger emotional representations of their headaches (P = 0.006), to worry more (P = 0.001), and were made anxious by their headache symptoms (P = 0.044).
Conclusion
Patients who consult for headache experience severe disability and impact, and up to a third report anxiety and/or depression. Referral is not related to clinical severity of headaches, but is associated with higher consultation frequency and patients' anxiety and concern about their headache symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2047014  PMID: 17504590
headache; migraine disorders; neurology; primary health care; referral and consultation
17.  Patient pressure for referral for headache: a qualitative study of GPs'referral behaviour 
Background
Headache accounts for up to a third of new specialist neurology appointments, although brain lesions are extremely rare and there is little difference in clinical severity of referred patients and those managed in primary care. This study examines influences on GPs' referral for headache in the absence of clinical indicators.
Design of study
Qualitative interview study.
Setting
Eighteen urban and suburban general practices in the South Thames area, London.
Method
Purposive sample comprising GPs with varying numbers of referrals for headache over a 12-month period. Semi-structured interviews with 20 GPs were audio taped. Transcripts were analysed thematically using a framework approach.
Results
All GPs reported observing patient anxiety and experiencing pressure for referral. Readiness to refer in response to pressure was influenced by characteristics of the consultation, including frequent attendance, communication problems and time constraints. GPs' accounts showed variations in individual's willingness or ‘resistance’ to refer, reflecting differences in clinical confidence in identifying risks of brain tumour, personal tolerance of uncertainty, views of patients' ‘right’ to referral and perceptions of the therapeutic value of referral. A further source of variation was the local availability of services, including GPs with a specialist interest and charitably-funded clinics.
Conclusion
Referral for headache is often the outcome of patient pressure interacting with GP characteristics, organisational factors and service availability. Reducing specialist neurological referrals requires further training and support for some GPs in the diagnosis and management of headache. To reduce clinical uncertainty, good clinical prediction rules for headache and alternative referral pathways are required.
PMCID: PMC2032697  PMID: 17244421
doctor–patient relationship; headache; patient anxiety; referral; qualitative
18.  Parents' attitudes to measles immunization 
A study of a cohort of children in Maidstone Health Authority examined the reasons for the failure to achieve targets for the uptake of measles immunization. Parents were interviewed before they were notified about measles immunization to determine their attitudes, beliefs and intentions regarding measles immunization and a further review was held with those whose child had no record of the immunization by the age of 20 months. The initial interview showed that most parents have a favourable attitude to measles immunization. However, many lacked knowledge, especially about valid contraindications, and claimed not to have received advice from a doctor or health visitor. The most common reasons for non-uptake of measles immunization were: the child had already had measles, concern about contraindications and delay owing to illness. This points to the importance of increasing doctors' and health visitors' knowledge of Department of Health and Social Security guidelines regarding valid contraindications and to the role of health visitors in promoting uptake. However there is also evidence that the gap between actual and target levels of uptake may be less than official figures suggest.
PMCID: PMC1710608  PMID: 3668921

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