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1.  ColonCancerCheck Primary Care Invitation Pilot project 
Canadian Family Physician  2013;59(12):e541-e549.
Abstract
Objective
To describe the perceptions of those who received invitations to the ColonCancerCheck Primary Care Invitation Pilot (the Pilot) about the mailed invitation, colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in general, and their specific screening experiences.
Design
Qualitative study with 6 focus group sessions, each 1.5 hours in length.
Setting
Hamilton, Ont; Ottawa, Ont; and Thunder Bay, Ont.
Participants
Screening-eligible adults, aged 50 years and older, who received a Pilot invitation for CRC screening.
Methods
The focus groups were conducted by a trained moderator and were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were analyzed using grounded-theory techniques facilitated by the use of electronic software.
Main findings
Key themes related to the invitation letter, the role of the family physician, direct mailing of the fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) kit, and alternate CRC screening promotion strategies were identified. Specifically, participants suggested the letter content should use stronger, more powerful language to capture the reader’s attention. The importance of the family physician was endorsed, although participants favoured clarification of the physician and program roles in the actual mailed invitation. Participants expressed support for directly mailing FOBT kits to individuals, particularly those with successful previous test completion, and for communication of both negative and positive screening results.
Conclusion
This study yielded a number of important findings including strategies to optimize letter content, support for directly mailed FOBT kits, and strategies to report results that might be highly relevant to other health programs where population-based CRC screening is being considered.
PMCID: PMC3860944  PMID: 24336559
2.  Exercise effects on adipokines and the IGF axis in men with prostate cancer treated with androgen deprivation: A randomized study 
Canadian Urological Association Journal  2013;7(11-12):E692-E698.
Background
Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) has significant deleterious effects on body composition that may be accompanied by unfavourable changes in adipokine levels. While exercise has been shown to improve a number of side effects associated with ADT for prostate cancer, no studies have assessed the effect of exercise on adiponectin and leptin levels, which have been shown to alter the mitogenic environment.
Methods:
Twenty-six men with prostate cancer treated with ADT were randomized to home-based aerobic exercise training or resistance exercise training for 24 weeks. Adiponectin, leptin, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3) were analyzed by ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay), in addition to physical activity volume, peak aerobic capacity, and anthropometric measurements, at baseline, 3 months and 6 months.
Results:
Resistance exercise significantly reduced IGF-1 after 3 months (p = 0.019); however, this change was not maintained at 6 months. At 6 months, IGFBP-3 was significantly increased compared to baseline for the resistance training group (p = 0.044). In an exploratory analysis of all exercisers, favourable changes in body composition and aerobic fitness were correlated with favourable levels of leptin, and favourable leptin:adiponectin and IGF-1:IGFBP-3 ratios at 3 and 6 months.
Conclusions:
Home-based exercise is correlated with positive changes in adipokine levels and the IGF-axis that may be related to healthy changes in physical fitness and body composition. While the improvements of adipokine markers appear to be more apparent with resistance training compared to aerobic exercise, these findings must be considered cautiously and require replication from larger randomized controlled trials to clarify the role of exercise on adipokines and IGF-axis proteins for men with prostate cancer.
doi:10.5489/cuaj.235
PMCID: PMC3840521  PMID: 24282459
3.  Accuracy of Self-Reported Screening Mammography Use: Examining Recall among Female Relatives from the Ontario Site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
ISRN Oncology  2013;2013:810573.
Evidence of the accuracy of self-reported mammography use among women with familial breast cancer risk is limited. This study examined the accuracy of self-reported screening mammography dates in a cohort of 1,114 female relatives of breast cancer cases, aged 26 to 73 from the Ontario site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Self-reported dates were compared to dates abstracted from imaging reports. Associations between inaccurate recall and subject characteristics were assessed using multinomial regression. Almost all women (95.2% at baseline, 98.5% at year 1, 99.8% at year 2) accurately reported their mammogram use within the previous 12 months. Women at low familial risk (OR = 1.77, 95% CI: 1.00–3.13), who reported 1 or fewer annual visits to a health professional (OR = 1.97, 95% CI: 1.15, 3.39), exhibited a lower perceived breast cancer risk (OR = 1.90, 95% CI: 1.15, 3.15), and reported a mammogram date more than 12 months previous (OR = 5.22, 95% CI: 3.10, 8.80), were significantly more likely to inaccurately recall their mammogram date. Women with varying levels of familial risk are accurate reporters of their mammogram use. These results present the first evidence of self-reported mammography recall accuracy among women with varying levels of familial risk.
doi:10.1155/2013/810573
PMCID: PMC3747415  PMID: 23984098
4.  Gender differences in attitudes impeding colorectal cancer screening 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:500.
Background
Colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) is the only type of cancer screening where both genders reduce risks by similar proportions with identical procedures. It is an important context for examining gender differences in disease-prevention, as CRCS significantly reduces mortality via early detection and prevention. In efforts to increase screening adherence, there is increasing acknowledgment that obstructive attitudes prevent CRCS uptake. Precise identification of the gender differences in obstructive attitudes is necessary to improve uptake promotion. This study randomly sampled unscreened, screening - eligible individuals in Ontario, employing semi-structured interviews to elicit key differences in attitudinal obstructions towards colorectal cancer screening with the aim of deriving informative differences useful in planning promotions of screening uptake.
Methods
N = 81 participants (49 females, 32 males), 50 years and above, with no prior CRCS, were contacted via random-digit telephone dialing, and consented via phone-mail contact. Altogether, N = 4,459 calls were made to yield N = 85 participants (1.9% response rate) of which N = 4 participants did not complete interviews. All subjects were eligible for free-of-charge CRCS in Ontario, and each was classified, via standard interview by CRCS screening decision-stage. Telephone-based, semi-structured interviews (SSIs) were employed to investigate gender differences in CRCS attitudes, using questions focused on 5 attitudinal domains: 1) Screening experience at the time of interview; 2) Barriers to adherence; 3) Predictors of Adherence; 4) Pain-anxiety experiences related to CRCS; 5) Gender-specific experiences re: CRCS, addressing all three modalities accessible through Ontario’s program: a) fecal occult blood testing; b) flexible sigmoidoscopy; c) colonoscopy.
Results
Interview transcript analyses indicated divergent themes related to CRCS for each gender: 1) bodily intrusion, 2) perforation anxiety, and 3) embarrassment for females and; 1) avoidant procrastination with underlying fatalism, 2) unnecessary health care and 3) uncomfortable vulnerability for males. Respondents adopted similar attitudes towards fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, and were comparable in decision stage across tests. Gender differences were neither closely tied to screening stage nor modality. Women had more consistent physician relationships, were more screening-knowledgeable and better able to articulate views on screening. Men reported less consistent physician relationships, were less knowledgeable and kept decision-making processes vague and emotionally distanced (i.e. at ‘arm’s length’).
Conclusions
Marked differences were observed in obstructive CRCS attitudes per gender. Females articulated reservations about CRCS-associated distress and males suppressed negative views while ambiguously procrastinating about the task of completing screening. Future interventions could seek to reduce CRCS-related stress (females) and address the need to overcome procrastination (males).
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-500
PMCID: PMC3672022  PMID: 23706029
5.  A pilot study of an exercise & cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for epithelial ovarian cancer patients 
Background
Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate of all gynaecologic cancers. Faced with poor prognoses, stressful treatment effects and a high likelihood of recurrence, survivors must confront significant physical and psychological morbidities that negatively impact health-related quality of life. Frequently reported side effects include cancer-related fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and psychological distress. Exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy interventions have counteracted such adverse effects in other cancer populations.
Objective
To investigate the feasibility and benefits of a 24-week home-based exercise intervention, coordinated with 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy (two sessions per month), developed for two types of patients diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer: 1) those undergoing primary treatment with adjuvant chemotherapy after primary surgery; 2) those on surveillance after completing treatment within the last 2 years.
Methods
Participants were recruited from the Gynaecologic Oncology Clinic. Eligible participants completed baseline assessments and were provided with home-based exercise equipment. Cognitive behavioral therapy was provided every other week for patients via telephone. Assessments were completed at baseline (T1), 3 months (T2) and 6 months (T3).
Results
19 of the 46 eligible patients approached were enrolled, with 7 patients in the treatment group and 12 in the surveillance group. There was a significant within group increase in peak VO2 from baseline to 6 months: F(2,16) = 5.531, p = 0.015, partial η2 = 0.409.
Conclusion
The combined 6-month exercise-cognitive behavioral therapy intervention was associated with significant increases in aerobic fitness in epithelial ovarian cancer patients assessed. These improvements were similar regardless of whether the patient was receiving chemotherapy or under surveillance.
doi:10.1186/1757-2215-6-21
PMCID: PMC3623735  PMID: 23557323
Ovarian cancer; Exercise; Cognitive behavioral therapy; Chemotherapy; Health-related quality of life; Epithelial ovarian cancer
6.  Canadian national surveys on pandemic influenza preparations: pre-pandemic and peri-pandemic findings 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:271.
Background
Prior to the 2009 H1N1 Influenza pandemic, public health authorities in Canada and elsewhere prepared for the future outbreak, partly guided by an ethical framework developed within the Canadian Program of Research on Ethics in a Pandemic (CanPREP). We developed a telephone-based survey based on that framework, which was delivered across Canada in late 2008. In June, 2009, the WHO declared pandemic Phase 6 status and from the subsequent October (2009) until May 2010, the CanPREP team fielded a second (revised) survey, collecting another 1,000 opinions from Canadians during a period of pre-pandemic anticipation and peri-pandemic experience.
Methods
Surveys were administered by telephone with random sampling achieved via random digit dialing. Eligible participants were adults, 18 years or older, with per province stratification approximating provincial percentages of national population. Descriptive results were tabulated and logistic regression analyses used to assess whether demographic factors were significantly associated with outcomes, and to identify divergences (between the pre-pandemic and intra-pandemic surveys).
Results
N = 1,029 interviews were completed from 1,986 households, yielding a gross response rate of 52% (AAPOR Standard Definition 3). Over 90% of subjects indicated the most important goal of pandemic influenza preparations was saving lives, with 41% indicating that saving lives solely in Canada was the highest priority and 50% indicating saving lives globally was the highest priority. About 90% of respondents supported the obligation of health care workers to report to work and face influenza pandemic risks excepting those with serious health conditions which that increased risks. Strong majorities favoured stocking adequate protective antiviral dosages for all Canadians (92%) and, if effective, influenza vaccinations (95%). Over 70% agreed Canada should provide international assistance to poorer countries for pandemic preparation, even if resources for Canadians were reduced.
Conclusions
Results suggest Canadians trust public health officials to make difficult decisions, providing emphasis is maintained on reciprocity and respect for individual rights. Canadians also support international obligations to help poorer countries and associated efforts to save lives outside the country, even if intra-national efforts are reduced.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-271
PMCID: PMC3627899  PMID: 23530550
Pandemic influenza; Canada; Survey research; Public health ethics; Bioethics; H1N1
7.  Adherence to breast and ovarian cancer screening recommendations for female relatives from the Ontario Site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
Objective
This study compares adherence to breast and ovarian cancer screening recommendations among a population cohort of women at familial risk to breast and/or ovarian cancer.
Methods
This cross-sectional study included 1039 first-degree female relatives without breast cancer identified from the Ontario site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry. We compared breast and ovarian cancer screening behaviours, using a telephone-administered questionnaire, among three groups of women defined by their familial risk (high; moderate; low) to breast and/or ovarian cancer. Associations between screening behaviours and familial risk were assessed using multinomial regression models adjusted by familial clustering.
Results
Women 40 to 49 years of age at moderate or high familial risk were significantly more likely to have had a screening mammogram within the past 12 months (OR: 2.80; 95% CI: 1.40-5.58), and women less than 50 years of age were more likely to have a clinical breast examination (OR: 1.84; 95% CI: 1.02-3.31) compared to women at low familial risk. Compared to women at low or moderate familial risk, women at high familial risk were significantly more likely to have ever had a genetic test for the BRCA 1/2 genes (OR: 2.67; 95% CI: 1.76-4.05).
Conclusions
Although the overall level of adherence among higher risk women is sub-optimal in the community, women at a higher familial risk are adhering more often to cancer screening recommendations than women at a lower familial risk.
doi:10.1097/CEJ.0b013e3283476217
PMCID: PMC3179806  PMID: 21691207
breast cancer; ovarian cancer; cancer screening; family history
8.  Predictors of Patient Self-Ratings of Quality of Life in Alzheimer’s Disease: Cross-Sectional Results from the Canadian Alzheimer’s Disease Quality of Life (CADQOL) Study 
Objectives
To assess whether the core symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) consistently predict patient self-rated quality of life (QOL) as assessed by a variety of QOL measures in a large national sample of AD patients.
Design
Cross-sectional.
Setting
Fifteen dementia and geriatric clinics across Canada.
Participants
Community-living patients with AD (n = 370) with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores > 10.
Measurements
Patients rated their QOL using two utility indexes, the EQ-5D, the Quality of Well-Being Scale, a global QOL visual analogue scale, and the disease-specific QOL-AD instrument. Cognition was assessed with the AD Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale and MMSE, function with the Disability Assessment for Dementia, and behavioral and psychological symptoms with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) and the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS). One-way analysis of variance and fully adjusted multiple linear regression were used to assess the relationship between core dementia symptoms and QOL ratings.
Results
The QOL measures had only small to moderate correlations with each other. For all QOL measures, patient ratings were significantly lower among patients with more depressive symptoms. In multivariable analyses, the GDS score was the only significant independent predictor of patient self-ratings for all four QOL measures.
Conclusions
Self-rated symptoms of depression were a consistent independent predictor of patient-rated QOL across diverse QOL measures, while performance-based measures of cognition and informant-based functional status were not. These findings confirm the importance of identifying and treating depression in patients with AD and endorse the use of measures of self-rated depressive symptoms and QOL as outcomes in AD clinical trials.
doi:10.1097/JGP.0b013e3182006a67
PMCID: PMC3267777  PMID: 21946804 CAMSID: cams2069
Alzheimer’s disease; dementia; quality of life; utility; depression
9.  Predictors of Family Caregiver Ratings of Patient Quality of Life in Alzheimer’s Disease: Cross-Sectional Results from the Canadian Alzheimer’s Disease Quality of Life (CADQOL) Study 
Objectives
To assess whether the core symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and caregiver factors consistently predict family caregiver ratings of patient quality of life (QOL) as assessed by a variety of QOL measures in a large national sample.
Design
Cross-sectional.
Setting
Fifteen dementia and geriatric clinics across Canada.
Participants
Family caregivers (n = 412) of community-living patients with AD of all severities.
Measurements
Caregiver ratings of patient QOL using three utility indexes, the EQ-5D, Quality of Well-Being Scale and Health Utilities Index, a global QOL visual analogue scale, a disease-specific measure, the QOL-AD, and a generic health status measure, the Short Form-36. Patient cognition was assessed with the AD Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale and Mini-Mental State Examination, function with the Disability Assessment for Dementia, and behavioral and psychological symptoms with the Neuropsychiatric Inventory and the Geriatric Depression Scale. Caregiver burden was assessed with the Zarit Burden Interview and caregiver depression with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale. One-way analysis of variance and fully adjusted multiple linear regression were used to assess the relationship between patient dementia symptom and caregiver variables with QOL ratings.
Results
In multivariable analyses, caregiver ratings of patient function and depressive symptoms were the only consistent independent predictors of caregiver-rated QOL across the QOL measures.
Conclusions
Caregiver ratings of patient function and depression were consistent independent predictors of caregiver-rated QOL using a spectrum of QOL measures, while measures of patient cognition and caregiver burden and depression were not. These findings support the continued use of caregiver ratings as an important source of information about patient QOL and endorse the inclusion in AD clinical trials of caregiver-rated measures of patient function, depression and QOL.
doi:10.1097/JGP.0b013e3182006a7f
PMCID: PMC3267778  PMID: 21946805 CAMSID: cams2070
Alzheimer’s disease; dementia; quality of life; utility; family caregiver; depression; function
10.  ColonCancerCheck Primary Care Invitation Pilot project 
Canadian Family Physician  2012;58(10):e570-e577.
Abstract
Objective
To determine family physician perspectives regarding the acceptability and effectiveness of 2 interventions—a targeted, mailed invitation for screening to patients, and family physician audit-feedback reports—and on the colorectal cancer (CRC) screening program generally. This information will be used to guide program strategies for increasing screening uptake.
Design
Qualitative study.
Setting
Ontario.
Participants
Family physicians (n = 65).
Methods
Seven 1-hour focus groups were conducted with family physicians using teleconferencing and Web-based technologies. Responses were elicited regarding family physicians’ perspectives on the mailing of invitations to patients, the content and design of the audit-feedback reports, the effect of participation in the pilot project on daily practice, and overall CRC screening program function.
Main findings
Key themes included strong support for both interventions and for the CRC screening program generally. Moderate support was found for direct mailing of fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) kits. Participants identified potential pitfalls if interventions were implemented outside of patient enrolment model practices. Participants expressed relatively strong support for colonoscopy as a CRC screening test but relatively weak support for FOBT.
Conclusion
Although the proposed interventions to increase the uptake of CRC screening were highly endorsed, concerns about their applicability to non–patient enrolment model practices and the current lack of physician support for FOBT will need to be addressed to optimize intervention and program effectiveness. Our study is highly relevant to other public health programs planning organized CRC screening programs.
PMCID: PMC3470535  PMID: 23064936
11.  Beliefs about optimal age and screening frequency predict breast screening adherence in a prospective study of female relatives from the Ontario Site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:518.
Background
Although few studies have linked cognitive variables with adherence to mammography screening in women with family histories of breast and/or ovarian cancer, research studies suggest cognitive phenomena can be powerful adherence predictors.
Methods
This prospective study included 858 women aged 30 to 71 years from the Ontario site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry with at least one first-degree relative diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer. Data on beliefs about breast cancer screening and use of mammography were obtained from annual telephone interviews spanning three consecutive years. Self-reported mammogram dates were confirmed with medical imaging reports. Associations between beliefs about breast cancer screening and adherence with annual mammography were estimated using polytomous logistic regression models corrected for familial correlation. Models compared adherers (N = 329) with late-screeners (N = 382) and never-screeners (N = 147).
Results
Women who believed mammography screening should occur annually were more likely to adhere to annual screening recommendations than women who believed it should happen less often (OR: 5.02; 95% CI: 2.97-8.49 for adherers versus late-screeners; OR: 6.82; 95% CI: 3.29-14.16 for adherers versus never-screeners). Women who believed mammography screening should start at or before age 50 (rather than after) (OR: 9.72; 95% CI: 3.26-29.02) were significantly more likely to adhere when compared with never-screeners.
Conclusions
Study results suggest that women with a family history of breast cancer should be strongly communicated recommendations about initial age of screening and screening intervals as related beliefs significantly predict adequate adherence.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-518
PMCID: PMC3432622  PMID: 22788119
Breast cancer; Breast screening; Family history; Beliefs; Adherence
12.  Influence of perceived breast cancer risk on screening behaviors of female relatives from the Ontario Site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
Background
Few studies have examined the influence of perceived risk on breast screening behaviors among women with an increased familial breast cancer risk.
Methods
This study included 1019 women aged 20 to 71 years from the Ontario site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry who had at least one first-degree relative diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer. Information was obtained from a self-administered questionnaire completed at the time of recruitment and a follow-up telephone questionnaire. The associations between breast screening behaviors and perceived risk of developing breast cancer, measured on both a numerical and Likert-type verbal scale, were estimated using logistic regression analyses.
Results
Women who rated their risk of developing breast cancer as greater than 50% compared to less than 50% were significantly more likely to have a screening mammogram within the last 12 months (OR: 1.91, 95% CI: 1.15 – 3.16). Women were significantly more likely to have a screening mammogram (OR: 1.82, 95% CI: 1.17 – 2.81) in the past 12 months if they rated their risk as above or much above average compared to same as average or below.
Conclusion
These findings may inform educational messages for improving risk communication of women at elevated familial breast cancer risk.
doi:10.1097/CEJ.0b013e3283447467
PMCID: PMC3104111  PMID: 21467941
Breast cancer; breast screening; family history; perceived risk
13.  Worry Is Good for Breast Cancer Screening: A Study of Female Relatives from the Ontario Site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry 
Journal of Cancer Epidemiology  2012;2012:545062.
Background. Few prospective studies have examined associations between breast cancer worry and screening behaviours in women with elevated breast cancer risks based on family history. Methods. This study included 901 high familial risk women, aged 23–71 years, from the Ontario site of the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Self-reported breast screening behaviours at year-one followup were compared between women at low (N = 305), medium (N = 433), and high (N = 163) levels of baseline breast cancer worry using logistic regression. Nonlinear relationships were assessed using likelihood ratio tests. Results. A significant non-linear inverted “U” relationship was observed between breast cancer worry and mammography screening (P = 0.034) for all women, where women at either low or high worry levels were less likely than those at medium to have a screening mammogram. A similar significant non-linear inverted “U” relationship was also found among all women and women at low familial risk for worry and screening clinical breast examinations (CBEs). Conclusions. Medium levels of cancer worries predicted higher rates of screening mammography and CBE among high-risk women.
doi:10.1155/2012/545062
PMCID: PMC3391896  PMID: 22792104
14.  Reactions to a targeted intervention to increase fecal occult blood testing among average-risk adults waiting for screening colonoscopy 
BACKGROUND:
Increasing demand combined with limited capacity has resulted in long wait times for average-risk adults referred for screening colonoscopy for colorectal cancer. Management of patients on these growing wait lists is an emerging clinical issue.
OBJECTIVE:
To inform the content and design of a mailed targeted invitation for patients to undergo annual fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) while awaiting colonoscopy.
METHODS:
Focus groups (FGs) with average-risk patients on a wait list for screening colonoscopy at a high-throughput academic outpatient colonoscopy facility were conducted. During each FG session, feedback regarding a range of materials under consideration for the planned intervention was elicited using a semistructured facilitator guide. The FG sessions were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using the constant comparative method to identify key themes.
RESULTS:
Findings from the three FGs (n=28) suggested that average-risk patients on a wait list for screening colonoscopy would be receptive to a targeted intervention recommending they undergo FOBT while waiting. Participants indicated that the invitation to undergo FOBT was an important acknowledgement that they were on an actively managed list, and that a mechanism to ensure that they were correctly triaged while waiting was in place. Several specific suggestions to improve the design of the targeted intervention were obtained.
CONCLUSIONS:
Results of the present study provide useful information for developing effective strategies to manage average-risk individuals facing long wait times for screening colonoscopy.
PMCID: PMC3115003  PMID: 21647457
Cancer screening; Colorectal cancer; Fecal occult blood tests; Focus groups
15.  A workshop report on HIV mHealth synergy and strategy meeting to review emerging evidence-based mHealth interventions and develop a framework for scale-up of these interventions 
mHealth is a term used to refer to mobile technologies such as personal digital assistants and mobile phones for healthcare. mHealth initiatives to support care and treatment of patients are emerging globally and this workshop brought together researchers, policy makers, information, communication and technology programmers, academics and civil society representatives for one and a half days synergy meeting in Kenya to review regional evidence based mHealth research for HIV care and treatment, review mHealth technologies for adherence and retention interventions in anti-retroviral therapy (ART) programs and develop a framework for scale up of evidence based mHealth interventions. The workshop was held in May 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya and was funded by the Canadian Global Health Research Initiatives (GHRI) and the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the end of the workshop participants came up with a framework to guide mHealth initiatives in the region and a plan to work together in scaling up evidence based mHealth interventions. The participants acknowledged the importance of the meeting in setting the pace for strengthening and coordinating mHealth initiatives and unanimously agreed to hold a follow up meeting after three months.
PMCID: PMC3240930  PMID: 22187619
mHealth; mobile phones; anti-retroviral therapy; adherence; retention
16.  A qualitative evaluation of strategies to increase colorectal cancer screening uptake 
Canadian Family Physician  2011;57(1):e7-e15.
Abstract
Objective
To obtain data that could be used to optimize the content and design of the targeted, mailed invitations that Ontario’s provincewide colorectal cancer (CRC) screening program plans to use to increase screening uptake; to identify other strategies to increase CRC screening uptake; and to describe the effects of this qualitative work on a subsequent quantitative pilot study.
Design
Qualitative study using semistructured focus groups.
Setting
Four different Ontario communities.
Participants
Six focus groups comprising a total of 62 participants.
Methods
Six focus groups were conducted in 4 different Ontario communities. For 3 of the communities, participants were recruited from the general population by a private marketing firm, using random-digit dialing, and received a small honorarium for participating. In Sault Ste Marie, participants were convenience samples recruited from a large primary care practice and were not offered compensation. Responses were elicited regarding various strategies for promoting CRC screening. Findings represent all responses observed as well as recommendations to program planners based on focus groups observations.
Main findings
Key themes identified included the importance of receiving a CRC screening invitation from one’s family physician; a desire for personalized, brief communications; and a preference for succinct information in mailed materials. Strong support was indicated for direct mailing of the CRC screening kit (fecal occult blood test). Our findings substantially influenced the final design and content of the envelope and letter to be mailed in the subsequent quantitative pilot study.
Conclusion
We report strong support from our focus groups for a succinct, personalized invitation for CRC screening from one’s own family physician. We have also shown that qualitative evaluation can be used to provide decision makers with pertinent and timely knowledge. Our study is highly relevant to other public health programs, particularly other Canadian jurisdictions planning organized CRC screening programs.
PMCID: PMC3024174  PMID: 21322288
17.  Physical activity and quality of life after radical prostatectomy 
Background:
There are significant post-surgical reductions in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in prostate cancer (PCa) patients undergoing radical prostatectomy (RP). Physical activity (PA) interventions have improved treatment outcomes for PCa patients undergoing radiation and hormone therapy, but PA effects have not previously been examined in the RP setting. This study examined the relationship between preoperative PA levels and postoperative HRQOL outcomes in PCa patients treated with RP.
Methods:
Sixty patients were interviewed regarding lifetime PA and completed preoperative (2 weeks prior to surgery) and postoperative (4 weeks after surgery) HRQOL questionnaires. Aerobic fitness testing was conducted on a subsample of 22 patients.
Results:
Higher levels of total past-year PA and occupational PA significantly correlated with lesser HRQOL declines from presurgery to 4 weeks post-surgery (Beta = −0.364, p = 0.037 and Beta = −0.243, p = 0.089, respectively) in models adjusted for age, postoperative questionnaire completion date, Gleason score and education. Past-year occupational PA was highly positively correlated with past-year total PA (r = 0.785, p < 0.001). Lifetime total PA was correlated with estimated VO2 max (r = 0.486, p = 0.026) in the 22 patients who were aerobically tested. Lifetime and past-year PA volumes were not correlated with waist circumference or body mass index.
Interpretation:
Declines in HRQOL after RP may be reduced in patients with higher preoperative levels of self-reported PA. These findings require further study with larger samples to confirm results. If confirmed, findings suggest exercise preoperatively may improve HRQOL outcomes after RP.
PMCID: PMC2874592  PMID: 20514281
18.  Canadian survey on pandemic flu preparations 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:125.
Background
The management of pandemic influenza creates public health challenges.
An ethical framework, 'Stand on Guard for Thee: ethical considerations in pandemic influenza preparedness' that served as a template for the World Health Organization's global consultation on pandemic planning, was transformed into a survey administered to a random sample of 500 Canadians to obtain opinions on key ethical issues in pandemic preparedness planning.
Methods
All framework authors and additional investigators created items that were pilot-tested with volunteers of both sexes and all socioeconomic strata. Surveys were telephone administered with random sampling achieved via random digit dialing (RDD). Eligible participants were adults, 18 years or older, with per province stratification equaling provincial percent of national population. Descriptive results were tabulated and logistic regression analyses were used to assess whether demographic factors were significantly associated with outcomes.
Results
5464 calls identified 559 eligible participants of whom 88.5% completed surveys. Over 90% of subjects agreed the most important goal of pandemic influenza preparations was saving lives, with 41% endorsing saving lives solely in Canada and 50% endorsing saving lives globally as the highest priority. Older age (OR = 8.51, p < 0.05) and current employment (OR = 9.48, p < 0.05) were associated with an endorsement of saving lives globally as highest priority. About 90% of respondents supported the obligation of health care workers to report to work and face influenza pandemic risks excepting those with a serious health condition that increased risks. Over 84% supported the government's provision of disability insurance and death benefits for health care workers facing elevated risk. Strong majorities favored stocking adequate protective antiviral dosages for all Canadians (92%) and, if effective, influenza vaccinations (95%). Over 70% agreed Canada should provide international assistance to poorer countries for pandemic preparation, even if resources for Canadians were reduced. While 92% of this group, believed provision should be 7 to 10% of all resources generated, 43% believed the provision should be greater than 10%.
Conclusions
Results suggest trust in public health officials to make difficult decisions, providing emphasis on reciprocity and respect for individual rights.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-125
PMCID: PMC2842233  PMID: 20219140
19.  The HAART cell phone adherence trial (WelTel Kenya1): a randomized controlled trial protocol 
Trials  2009;10:87.
Background
The objectives are to compare the effectiveness of cell phone-supported SMS messaging to standard care on adherence, quality of life, retention, and mortality in a population receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Nairobi, Kenya.
Methods and Design
A multi-site randomized controlled open-label trial. A central randomization centre provided opaque envelopes to allocate treatments. Patients initiating ART at three comprehensive care clinics in Kenya will be randomized to receive either a structured weekly SMS ('short message system' or text message) slogan (the intervention) or current standard of care support mechanisms alone (the control). Our hypothesis is that using a structured mobile phone protocol to keep in touch with patients will improve adherence to ART and other patient outcomes. Participants are evaluated at baseline, and then at six and twelve months after initiating ART. The care providers keep a weekly study log of all phone based communications with study participants.
Primary outcomes are self-reported adherence to ART and suppression of HIV viral load at twelve months scheduled follow-up. Secondary outcomes are improvements in health, quality of life, social and economic factors, and retention on ART. Primary analysis is by 'intention-to-treat'. Sensitivity analysis will be used to assess per-protocol effects. Analysis of covariates will be undertaken to determine factors that contribute or deter from expected and determined outcomes.
Discussion
This study protocol tests whether a novel structured mobile phone intervention can positively contribute to ART management in a resource-limited setting.
Trial Registration
Trial Registration Number: NCT00830622
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-10-87
PMCID: PMC2760542  PMID: 19772596
20.  Fecal occult blood testing 
Canadian Family Physician  2009;55(2):176-177.e4.
ABSTRACT
OBJECTIVE
To determine factors that influence awareness of, and readiness to undergo, fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.
DESIGN
Validated survey designed to ascertain respondents’ stages of decision making regarding CRC screening using FOBT.
SETTING
Ontario.
PARTICIPANTS
A total of 1013 people 50 years old and older drawn from all regions of the province using a random-digit dialing telephone protocol.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Awareness of FOBT and readiness to undergo it for screening for CRC.
RESULTS
Response rate was 69%. Results indicated that 54% of women and 45% of men had “heard of” FOBT, and 26% of women and 17% of men had heard of it but were still “not considering” FOBT screening. Only 17% of all respondents had “decided to have” FOBT screening. Demographic factors associated with having heard of FOBT were female sex, completion of college or higher education, and being married or living as married. Demographic factors associated with active consideration of FOBT among those who reported awareness of it were male sex and being married or living as married.
CONCLUSION
Many people seemed uninformed about FOBT and not ready to undertake this type of screening. Results of this survey could help guide strategies and develop programs to make eligible people aware of CRC screening using FOBT and to motivate them to undergo testing.
PMCID: PMC2642507  PMID: 19221081
22.  The efficiency and effectiveness of utilizing diagrams in interviews: an assessment of participatory diagramming and graphic elicitation 
Background
This paper focuses on measuring the efficiency and effectiveness of two diagramming methods employed in key informant interviews with clinicians and health care administrators. The two methods are 'participatory diagramming', where the respondent creates a diagram that assists in their communication of answers, and 'graphic elicitation', where a researcher-prepared diagram is used to stimulate data collection.
Methods
These two diagramming methods were applied in key informant interviews and their value in efficiently and effectively gathering data was assessed based on quantitative measures and qualitative observations.
Results
Assessment of the two diagramming methods suggests that participatory diagramming is an efficient method for collecting data in graphic form, but may not generate the depth of verbal response that many qualitative researchers seek. In contrast, graphic elicitation was more intuitive, better understood and preferred by most respondents, and often provided more contemplative verbal responses, however this was achieved at the expense of more interview time.
Conclusion
Diagramming methods are important for eliciting interview data that are often difficult to obtain through traditional verbal exchanges. Subject to the methodological limitations of the study, our findings suggest that while participatory diagramming and graphic elicitation have specific strengths and weaknesses, their combined use can provide complementary information that would not likely occur with the application of only one diagramming method. The methodological insights gained by examining the efficiency and effectiveness of these diagramming methods in our study should be helpful to other researchers considering their incorporation into qualitative research designs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-8-53
PMCID: PMC2527311  PMID: 18691410
23.  Endoscopic follow-up of positive fecal occult blood testing in the Ontario FOBT Project 
BACKGROUND:
The Ontario FOBT Project is a pilot study of fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) for colorectal cancer screening conducted among age-eligible volunteers (50 to 75 years) in 12 of 37 public health regions in Ontario.
METHODS:
Volunteers responded to invitations from primary care practitioners (PCPs) in six regions, and from public health programs in the remaining regions. FOBT collection kits were distributed from routine laboratory specimen collection sites, to which completed kits were returned. Results were sent to PCPs in all 12 regions, with copies sent to the study office at Cancer Care Ontario (Toronto, Ontario). Follow-up of positive results was at the discretion of the PCPs. The study files contained the unique Ontario Health Insurance Numbers, the date of the analyses, the number of satisfactory slides and the results for each slide. The Ontario Health Insurance Numbers were encrypted for each participant, and along with the study file, were linked to medical billing claims, hospital records and aggregate demographic data.
RESULTS:
Among participants with positive results (men 3.5% and women 2.2%), the median time from date of FOBT analysis to date of colonoscopy was 121 days among men and 202 days among women. At the end of follow-up, after positive FOBT (six to 17 months), 73% of men and 56% of women had proceeded to colonoscopy.
CONCLUSION:
Although colonoscopy appeared to be acceptable to the majority of participants with positive FOBT, accessibility problems was the likely explanation for lengthy intervals between the date of positive FOBT and its performance. Differences between the experiences of men and women require further investigation.
PMCID: PMC2658121  PMID: 17571172
Colonoscopy; Colorectal cancer; Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT); Screening
24.  Personal Digital Assistant Data Capture: The Future of Quality of Life Measurement in Prostate Cancer Treatment 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2007;3(3):115-120.
Purpose
This article examines the potential use of personal digital assistant (PDA) data capture systems for real-time linear monitoring of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in prostate cancer research and clinical care.
Methods
We discuss the benefits and potential issues of using PDA data capture in the clinical health care setting. In addition, we describe the development and potential use of a PDA data capture system specific to managing HRQOL in prostate cancer treatment.
Conclusion
Follow-up health care clinics require a practical and systematic process of HRQOL data capture and analysis. Traditional paper questionnaire data capture is problematic. Data manipulation required for clinical decision-making is impractical for patient feedback on same-day clinic visits. Furthermore, the process of transforming paper questionnaire data to analysis-quality data can compromise data integrity. In contrast, research findings confirm the acceptability, ease of use, and reliability of PDAs in capturing data across health care settings, including the collection of serial HRQOL data. The main concern for PDA capture systems is the ability to compare respondent's answers between the paper and PDA questionnaire. Other challenges included patients reporting a lack of computer literacy and/or poor eyesight, as well as initial start-up costs. If issues are successfully addressed, the use of a PDA data capture system, such as the PDA HRQOL system at Princess Margaret Hospital's Prostate Centre, allows for valid and economical data collection with the possibility of linear real-time measurement of changes in HRQOL. Accordingly, there appears to be significant potential for PDA data collection of serial HRQOL in prostate cancer clinic settings.
doi:10.1200/JOP.0732001
PMCID: PMC2793799  PMID: 20859395
25.  Serial personal digital assistant data capture of health-related quality of life: A randomized controlled trial in a prostate cancer clinic 
Background
In clinical and research practice linked to prostate cancer treatment, frequent monitoring of patient health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is essential. Practical and analytic limitations of paper questionnaire data capture may be overcome with the use of self-administered personal digital assistant (PDA) data collection. The objective of this study was to assess the reliability, validity, and feasibility of using PDA in place of paper versions of the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS), the Patient Oriented Prostate Cancer Utility Survey (PORPUS), and the International Index of Erectile Function-5 (IIEF-5) in a prostate cancer clinic setting.
Methods
152 participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: 1) paper followed by PDA survey; 2) PDA followed by paper survey; or 3) PDA followed by PDA survey. Evaluation included an assessment of data quality (internal consistency, test-retest reliability, response correlation, completeness of data), and feasibility (participation rates, time to completion, preference and difficultly/ease of using PDA).
Results
Internal consistency was similar for both PDA and paper applications. Test-retest reliability was confirmed for PDA repeated administration. Data from paper and PDA questionnaires were strongly correlated. Lower missed item rates were found in PDA administration. 82.8% of participants preferred using the PDA or had no preference. Mean difficulty/ease ratings indicated that participants found the PDA easy to use. Age did not significantly correlate with preference or difficulty.
Conclusion
The results confirm the adaptability of the IPSS, IIEF-5, and the PORPUS to PDA administration. Similarly, the findings of this study support the feasibility of using PDA technology for HRQOL serial data capture in the prostate cancer patient population.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-5-38
PMCID: PMC1936985  PMID: 17617906

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