More women are using Veterans’ Health Administration (VHA) Emergency Departments (EDs), yet VHA ED capacities to meet the needs of women are unknown.
We assessed VHA ED resources and processes for conditions specific to, or more common in, women Veterans.
Cross-sectional questionnaire of the census of VHA ED directors
Resources and processes in place for gynecologic, obstetric, sexual assault and mental health care, as well as patient privacy features, stratified by ED characteristics.
All 120 VHA EDs completed the questionnaire. Approximately nine out of ten EDs reported having gynecologic examination tables within their EDs, 24/7 access to specula, and Gonorrhea/Chlamydia DNA probes. All EDs reported 24/7 access to pregnancy testing. Fewer than two-fifths of EDs reported having radiologist review of pelvic ultrasound images available 24/7; one-third reported having emergent consultations from gynecologists available 24/7. Written transfer policies specific to gynecologic and obstetric emergencies were reported as available in fewer than half of EDs. Most EDs reported having emergency contraception 24/7; however, only approximately half reported having Rho(D) Immunoglobulin available 24/7. Templated triage notes and standing orders relevant to gynecologic conditions were reported as uncommon. Consistent with VHA policy, most EDs reported obtaining care for victims of sexual assault by transferring them to another institution. Most EDs reported having some access to private medical and mental health rooms. Resources and processes were found to be more available in EDs with more encounters by women, more ED staffed beds, and that were located in more complex facilities in metropolitan areas.
Although most VHA EDs have resources and processes needed for delivering emergency care to women Veterans, some gaps exist. Studies in non-VA EDs are required for comparison. Creative solutions are needed to ensure that women presenting to VHA EDs receive efficient, timely, and consistently high-quality care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-012-2327-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
veterans’ health; women’s health; emergency medicine; organization of care
To assess the impacts of the characteristics of quality improvement (QI) teams and their environments on team success in designing and implementing highquality, enduring depression care improvement programs in primary care (PC) practices.
Study Setting/Data Sources
Two nonprofit managed care organizations sponsored five QI teams tasked with improving care for depression in large PC practices. Data on characteristics of the teams and their environments is from observer process notes, national expert ratings, administrative data, and interviews.
Comparative formative evaluation of the quality and duration of implementation of the depression improvement programs developed by Central Teams (CTs) emphasizing expert design and Local Teams (LTs) emphasizing participatory local clinician design, and of the effects of additional team and environmental factors oneach type of team. Both types of teams depended upon local clinicians for implementation.
The CT intervention program designs were more evidence-based than those of LTs. Expert team leadership, support from local practice management, and support from local mental health specialists strongly influenced the development of successful team programs. The CTs and LTs were equally successful when these conditions could be met, but CTs were more successful than LTs in less supportive environments.
The LT approach to QI for depression requires high local support and expertise from primary care and mental health clinicians. The CT approach is more likely to succeed than the LT approach when local practice conditions are not optimal.
Quality improvement; depression; primary care; health care provider teams
The promise of widespread implementation of efficacious interventions across the cancer continuum into routine practice and policy has yet to be realized. Multilevel influences, such as communities and families surrounding patients or health-care policies and organizations surrounding provider teams, may determine whether effective interventions are successfully implemented. Greater recognition of the importance of these influences in advancing (or hindering) the impact of single-level interventions has motivated the design and testing of multilevel interventions designed to address them. However, implementing research evidence from single- or multilevel interventions into sustainable routine practice and policy presents substantive challenges. Furthermore, relatively few multilevel interventions have been conducted along the cancer care continuum, and fewer still have been implemented, disseminated, or sustained in practice. The purpose of this chapter is, therefore, to illustrate and examine the concepts underlying the implementation and spread of multilevel interventions into routine practice and policy. We accomplish this goal by using a series of cancer and noncancer examples that have been successfully implemented and, in some cases, spread widely. Key concepts across these examples include the importance of phased implementation, recognizing the need for pilot testing, explicit engagement of key stakeholders within and between each intervention level; visible and consistent leadership and organizational support, including financial and human resources; better understanding of the policy context, fiscal climate, and incentives underlying implementation; explication of handoffs from researchers to accountable individuals within and across levels; ample integration of multilevel theories guiding implementation and evaluation; and strategies for long-term monitoring and sustainability.
Meta-analyses show collaborative care models (CCMs) with nurse care management are effective for improving primary care for depression. This study aimed to develop CCM approaches that could be sustained and spread within Veterans Affairs (VA). Evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI) uses QI approaches within a research/clinical partnership to redesign care. The study used EBQI methods for CCM redesign, tested the effectiveness of the locally adapted model as implemented, and assessed the contextual factors shaping intervention effectiveness.
The study intervention is EBQI as applied to CCM implementation. The study uses a cluster randomized design as a formative evaluation tool to test and improve the effectiveness of the redesign process, with seven intervention and three non-intervention VA primary care practices in five different states. The primary study outcome is patient antidepressant use. The context evaluation is descriptive and uses subgroup analysis. The primary context evaluation measure is naturalistic primary care clinician (PCC) predilection to adopt CCM.
For the randomized evaluation, trained telephone research interviewers enrolled consecutive primary care patients with major depression in the evaluation, referred enrolled patients in intervention practices to the implemented CCM, and re-surveyed at seven months.
Interviewers enrolled 288 CCM site and 258 non-CCM site patients. Enrolled intervention site patients were more likely to receive appropriate antidepressant care (66% versus 43%, p = 0.01), but showed no significant difference in symptom improvement compared to usual care. In terms of context, only 40% of enrolled patients received complete care management per protocol. PCC predilection to adopt CCM had substantial effects on patient participation, with patients belonging to early adopter clinicians completing adequate care manager follow-up significantly more often than patients of clinicians with low predilection to adopt CCM (74% versus 48%%, p = 0.003).
Depression CCM designed and implemented by primary care practices using EBQI improved antidepressant initiation. Combining QI methods with a randomized evaluation proved challenging, but enabled new insights into the process of translating research-based CCM into practice. Future research on the effects of PCC attitudes and skills on CCM results, as well as on enhancing the link between improved antidepressant use and symptom outcomes, is needed.
Research-based queries about patients’ experiences often uncover suicidal thoughts. Human subjects review requires suicide risk management (SRM) protocols to protect patients, yet minimal information exists to guide researchers’ protocol development and implementation efforts. The purpose of this study was to examine the development and implementation of an SRM protocol employed during telephone-based screening and data collection interviews of depressed primary care patients. We describe an SRM protocol development process and employ qualitative analysis of de-identified documentation to characterize protocol-driven interactions between research clinicians and patients. Protocol development required advance planning, training, and team building. Three percent of screened patients evidenced suicidal ideation; 12% of these met protocol standards for study clinician assessment/intervention. Risk reduction activities required teamwork and extensive collaboration. Research-based SRM protocols can facilitate patient safety by (1) identifying and verifying local clinical site approaches and resources and (2) integrating these features into prevention protocols and training for research teams.
Depression; Patient safety; Suicide; Primary care; Research participants; Collaborative care
The evidence base for quality improvement (QI) interventions is expanding rapidly. The diversity of the initiatives and the inconsistency in labeling these as QI interventions makes it challenging for researchers, policymakers, and QI practitioners to access the literature systematically and to identify relevant publications.
We evaluated search strategies developed for MEDLINE (Ovid) and PubMed based on free text words, Medical subject headings (MeSH), QI intervention components, continuous quality improvement (CQI) methods, and combinations of the strategies. Three sets of pertinent QI intervention publications were used for validation. Two independent expert reviewers screened publications for relevance. We compared the yield, recall rate, and precision of the search strategies for the identification of QI publications and for a subset of empirical studies on effects of QI interventions.
The search yields ranged from 2,221 to 216,167 publications. Mean recall rates for reference publications ranged from 5% to 53% for strategies with yields of 50,000 publications or fewer. The 'best case' strategy, a simple text word search with high face validity ('quality' AND 'improv*' AND 'intervention*') identified 44%, 24%, and 62% of influential intervention articles selected by Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) experts, a set of exemplar articles provided by members of the Standards for Quality Improvement Reporting Excellence (SQUIRE) group, and a sample from the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care Group (EPOC) register of studies, respectively. We applied the search strategy to a PubMed search for articles published in 10 pertinent journals in a three-year period which retrieved 183 publications. Among these, 67% were deemed relevant to QI by at least one of two independent raters. Forty percent were classified as empirical studies reporting on a QI intervention.
The presented search terms and operating characteristics can be used to guide the identification of QI intervention publications. Even with extensive iterative development, we achieved only moderate recall rates of reference publications. Consensus development on QI reporting and initiatives to develop QI-relevant MeSH terms are urgently needed.
The term continuous quality improvement (CQI) is often used to refer to a method for improving care, but no consensus statement exists on the definition of CQI. Evidence reviews are critical for advancing science, and depend on reliable definitions for article selection.
As a preliminary step towards improving CQI evidence reviews, this study aimed to use expert panel methods to identify key CQI definitional features and develop and test a screening instrument for reliably identifying articles with the key features. We used a previously published method to identify 106 articles meeting the general definition of a quality improvement intervention (QII) from 9427 electronically identified articles from PubMed. Two raters then applied a six-item CQI screen to the 106 articles.
Per cent agreement ranged from 55.7% to 75.5% for the six items, and reviewer-adjusted intra-class correlation ranged from 0.43 to 0.62. ‘Feedback of systematically collected data’ was the most common feature (64%), followed by being at least ‘somewhat’ adapted to local conditions (61%), feedback at meetings involving participant leaders (46%), using an iterative development process (40%), being at least ‘somewhat’ data driven (34%), and using a recognised change method (28%). All six features were present in 14.2% of QII articles.
We conclude that CQI features can be extracted from QII articles with reasonable reliability, but only a small proportion of QII articles include all features. Further consensus development is needed to support meaningful use of the term CQI for scientific communication.
Continuous quality improvement; healthcare quality improvement; organisation; PDSA; research
We documented organizational costs for depression care quality improvement (QI) to develop an evidence-based, Veterans Health Administration (VA) adapted depression care model for primary care practices that performed well for patients, was sustained over time, and could be spread nationally in VA.
Data Sources and Study Setting
Project records and surveys from three multistate VA administrative regions and seven of their primary care practices.
We documented project time commitments and expenses for 86 clinical QI and 42 technical expert support team participants for 4 years from initial contact through care model design, Plan–Do–Study–Act cycles, and achievement of stable workloads in which models functioned as routine care. We assessed time, salary costs, and costs for conference calls, meetings, e-mails, and other activities.
Over an average of 27 months, all clinics began referring patients to care managers. Clinical participants spent 1,086 hours at a cost of $84,438. Technical experts spent 2,147 hours costing $197,787. Eighty-five percent of costs derived from initial regional engagement activities and care model design.
Organizational costs of the QI process for depression care in a large health care system were significant, and should be accounted for when planning for implementation of evidence-based depression care.
Quality improvement; depression; primary care
To evaluate the impact of a locally adapted evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI) approach to implementation of smoking cessation guidelines into routine practice.
Data Sources/Study Setting
We used patient questionnaires, practice surveys, and administrative data in Veterans Health Administration (VA) primary care practices across five southwestern states.
In a group-randomized trial of 18 VA facilities, matched on size and academic affiliation, we evaluated intervention practices’ abilities to implement evidence-based smoking cessation care following structured evidence review, local priority setting, quality improvement plan development, practice facilitation, expert feedback, and monitoring. Control practices received mailed guidelines and VA audit-feedback reports as usual care.
To represent the population of primary care-based smokers, we randomly sampled and screened 36,445 patients to identify and enroll eligible smokers at baseline (n = 1,941) and follow-up at 12 months (n = 1,080). We used computer-assisted telephone interviewing to collect smoking behavior, nicotine dependence, readiness to change, health status, and patient sociodemographics. We used practice surveys to measure structure and process changes, and administrative data to assess population utilization patterns.
Intervention practices adopted multifaceted EBQI plans, but had difficulty implementing them, ultimately focusing on smoking cessation clinic referral strategies. While attendance rates increased (p<.0001), we found no intervention effect on smoking cessation.
EBQI stimulated practices to increase smoking cessation clinic referrals and try other less evidence-based interventions that did not translate into improved quit rates at a population level.
Smoking cessation; quality of health care; veterans
Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur with pain and may affect treatment outcomes. Early identification of these co-occurring psychiatric conditions during routine pain screening may be critical for optimal treatment.
To determine aspects of pain related to psychological distress, and, among distressed patients, to determine whether pain factors are related to provider identification of distress.
Cross-sectional interview of primary care patients and their providers participating in a Veteran’s Administration HELP-Vets study.
A total of 528 predominately male Veterans
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS
We measured self-reported pain, including a 0-10 numeric rating scale and interference items from the Brief Pain Inventory. To evaluate distress, brief indicators of depression, anxiety and PTSD were combined. A substantial number of patients had psychological distress (41%), which was even higher (62%) among patients with moderate-severe current pain. Only 29% of those with distress reported talking to their provider about emotional problems during their visit. In multivariate analyses, other pain factors related to distress included interference with enjoyment of life and relationships with others, pain in multiple locations and joint pains. Prior diagnoses of depression and anxiety were also related to current distress. Only prior diagnosis and patient reported headaches and sleep interference because of pain were related to provider identification of distress.
VA patients with moderate-severe pain are at high risk for psychological distress, which often goes unrecognized. Providers need to be more vigilant to mental health problems in patients experiencing high pain levels. Targeted screening for co-occurring conditions is warranted.
targeted screening for pain and distress; depression; anxiety
Depression treatment requires close monitoring to achieve optimal, long-term control. Use of multiple sources of health care can affect coordination and continuity of treatment for depression.
To assess levels of non-Veterans Health Administration (VA) use among depressed primary care patients by service type and examine patient factors associated with non-VA use.
Cross-sectional comparison of dual and VA-only users among depressed primary care patients. Depression was defined as PHQ-9 ≥10.
Five hundred fifty depressed patients from the baseline sample of a group-randomized trial of collaborative care for depression in ten VA primary care practices.
VA and non-VA outpatient utilization for physical and emotional health problems in the prior 6 months, patient demographics, and co-morbid conditions. All measures were self-reported and obtained at the baseline interview.
Overall, 46.8% of VA depressed primary care patients utilized non-VA care. Dual users were more likely to use acute care services (emergency room or inpatient), especially for physical health problems. Dual users of physical health services had more total visits, but fewer VA visits than VA-only users, while dual users of emotional health services had fewer total and VA visits. Factors associated with dual use were urban clinic location, having other insurance coverage, and dissatisfaction with physical health care in general.
Almost half of depressed primary care patients used non-VA care, with most of their non-VA use for physical rather than emotional health problems. Care management strategies for depressed patients should include communication and coordination with non-VA providers.
dual use; depression; primary care; veterans
Collaborative care models for depression in primary care are effective and cost-effective, but difficult to spread to new sites. Translating Initiatives for Depression into Effective Solutions (TIDES) is an initiative to promote evidence-based collaborative care in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VHA). Social marketing applies marketing techniques to promote positive behavior change. Described in this paper, TIDES used a social marketing approach to foster national spread of collaborative care models.
TIDES social marketing approach
The approach relied on a sequential model of behavior change and explicit attention to audience segmentation. Segments included VHA national leadership, Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) regional leadership, facility managers, frontline providers, and veterans. TIDES communications, materials and messages targeted each segment, guided by an overall marketing plan.
Depression collaborative care based on the TIDES model was adopted by VHA as part of the new Primary Care Mental Health Initiative and associated policies. It is currently in use in more than 50 primary care practices across the United States, and continues to spread, suggesting success for its social marketing-based dissemination strategy.
Discussion and conclusion
Development, execution and evaluation of the TIDES marketing effort shows that social marketing is a promising approach for promoting implementation of evidence-based interventions in integrated healthcare systems.
Reduction in cervical cancer incidence and mortality is not only dependant on promoting cervical cancer screening but also on providing appropriate follow-up and treatment of abnormal cervical cytology.
The objective of this study was to determine variations in guideline adherence for women requiring abnormal cervical cytology follow-up.
Subjects of the study are women 18 years or older with an abnormal Pap test in 2000 within a large county healthcare system (n = 8,571).
Guideline adherence was determined by the presence or absence of the appropriate follow-up procedure within an acceptable time interval for each degree of cytological abnormality. Patients with no follow-up studies were deemed to be lost to follow-up.
Of study subjects, 18.5% were lost to follow-up care. Of the remaining 6,987 women, 60.3% received optimal care, 9.4% received suboptimal care, and 30.3% received poor care. Follow-up rates were higher for patients with higher degree of cytological abnormality (OR, 1.29, 95% CI, 1.17–1.42), older patients (OR, 1.03, 95% CI, 1.02–1.030) and those receiving the index Pap test at a larger healthcare facility (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.01–1.27). Receiving optimal care was positively correlated with higher degree of cytological abnormality (p < .0001) and larger facility size (p = .002). Regional variations in care demonstrated the largest cluster having the lowest lost to follow-up rate and the most optimal care.
A significant number of women with abnormal cervical cytology are receiving less than optimal care. Further studies are required to determine the specific healthcare delivery practices that need to be targeted to improve guideline adherence for follow-up of abnormal cytology.
cytology; quality of care; practice guidelines; cervical cancer
Little is known about effective strategies for disseminating and implementing complex clinical innovations across large healthcare systems. This paper describes processes undertaken and tools developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (MH-QUERI) to guide its efforts to partner with clinical leaders to prepare for national dissemination and implementation of collaborative care for depression.
An evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI) process was used to develop an initial set of goals to prepare the VA for national dissemination and implementation of collaborative care. The resulting product of the EBQI process is referred to herein as a "National Dissemination Plan" (NDP). EBQI participants included: a) researchers with expertise on the collaborative care model for depression, clinical quality improvement, and implementation science, and b) VA clinical and administrative leaders with experience and expertise on how to adapt research evidence to organizational needs, resources and capacity. Based on EBQI participant feedback, drafts of the NDP were revised and refined over multiple iterations before a final version was approved by MH-QUERI leadership. 'Action Teams' were created to address each goal. A formative evaluation framework and related tools were developed to document processes, monitor progress, and identify and act upon barriers and facilitators in addressing NDP goals.
The National Dissemination Plan suggests that effectively disseminating collaborative care for depression in the VA will likely require attention to: Guidelines and Quality Indicators (4 goals), Training in Clinical Processes and Evidence-based Quality Improvement (6 goals), Marketing (7 goals), and Informatics Support (1 goal). Action Teams are using the NDP as a blueprint for developing infrastructure to support system-wide adoption and sustained implementation of collaborative care for depression. To date, accomplishments include but are not limited to: conduct of a systematic review of the literature to update VA depression treatment guidelines to include the latest evidence on collaborative care for depression; training for clinical staff on TIDES (Translating Initiatives for Depression into Effective Solutions project) care; spread of TIDES care to new VA facilities; and integration of TIDES depression assessment tools into a planned update of software used in delivery of VA mental health services. Thus far, common barriers encountered by Action Teams in addressing NDP goals include: a) limited time to address goals due to competing tasks/priorities, b) frequent turnover of key organizational leaders/stakeholders, c) limited skills and training among team members for addressing NDP goals, and d) difficulty coordinating activities across Action Teams on related goals.
MH-QUERI has partnered with VA organizational leaders to develop a focused yet flexible plan to address key factors to prepare for national dissemination and implementation of collaborative care for depression. Early indications suggest that the plan is laying an important foundation that will enhance the likelihood of successful implementation and spread across the VA healthcare system.
Compared to those with depression alone, depressed patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience more severe psychiatric symptomatology and factors that complicate treatment.
To estimate PTSD prevalence among depressed military veteran primary care patients and compare demographic/illness characteristics of PTSD screen-positive depressed patients (MDD-PTSD+) to those with depression alone (MDD).
Cross-sectional comparison of MDD patients versus MDD-PTSD+ patients.
Six hundred seventy-seven randomly sampled depressed patients with at least 1 primary care visit in the previous 12 months. Participants composed the baseline sample of a group randomized trial of collaborative care for depression in 10 VA primary care practices in 5 states.
The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 assessed MDD. Probable PTSD was defined as a Primary Care PTSD Screen ≥ 3. Regression-based techniques compared MDD and MDD-PTSD+ patients on demographic/illness characteristics.
Thirty-six percent of depressed patients screened positive for PTSD. Adjusting for sociodemographic differences and physical illness comorbidity, MDD-PTSD+ patients reported more severe depression (P < .001), lower social support (P < .001), more frequent outpatient health care visits (P < .001), and were more likely to report suicidal ideation (P < .001) than MDD patients. No differences were observed in alcohol consumption, self-reported general health, and physical illness comorbidity.
PTSD is more common among depressed primary care patients than previously thought. Comorbid PTSD among depressed patients is associated with increased illness burden, poorer prognosis, and delayed response to depression treatment. Providers should consider recommending psychotherapeutic interventions for depressed patients with PTSD.
depression; PTSD; primary care; clinical practice guidelines
Previous studies testing continuous quality improvement (CQI) for depression showed no effects. Methods for practices to self-improve depression care performance are needed. We assessed the impacts of evidence-based quality improvement (EBQI), a modification of CQI, as carried out by 2 different health care systems, and collected qualitative data on the design and implementation process.
Evaluate impacts of EBQI on practice-wide depression care and outcomes.
Practice-level randomized experiment comparing EBQI with usual care.
Six Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and 3 Veterans Administration primary care practices randomly assigned to EBQI teams (6 practices) or usual care (3 practices). Practices included 245 primary care clinicians and 250,000 patients.
Researchers assisted system senior leaders to identify priorities for EBQI teams; initiated the manual-based EBQI process; and provided references and tools.
Five hundred and sixty-seven representative patients with major depression.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Appropriate treatment, depression, functional status, and satisfaction.
Depressed patients in EBQI practices showed a trend toward more appropriate treatment compared with those in usual care (46.0% vs 39.9% at 6 months, P = .07), but no significant improvement in 12-month depression symptom outcomes (27.0% vs 36.1% poor depression outcome, P = .18). Social functioning improved significantly (mean score 65.0 vs 56.8 at 12 months, P = .02); physical functioning did not.
Evidence-based quality improvement had perceptible, but modest, effects on practice performance for patients with depression. The modest improvements, along with qualitative data, identify potential future directions for improving CQI research and practice.
quality improvement; depression; continuous quality management; social function
The persistence of a large quality gap between what we know about how to produce high quality clinical care and what the public receives has prompted interest in developing more effective methods to get evidence into practice. Implementation research aims to supply such methods.
This article proposes a set of recommendations aimed at establishing a common understanding of what implementation research is, and how to foster its development.
We developed the recommendations in the context of a translation research conference hosted by the VA for VA and non-VA health services researchers.
Health care organizations, journals, researchers and academic institutions can use these recommendations to advance the field of implementation science and thus increase the impact of clinical and health services research on the health and health care of the public.
health services research; quality of care; implementation; organizational change; clinical practice
Increasingly, primary care practices include nurse practitioners (NPs) in their staffing mix to contain costs and expand primary care. To achieve these aims in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers (VAMCs), national policy endorsed involvement of NPs as primary care (PC) providers.
To evaluate the degree to which VAMCs incorporated NPs into PC practices between 1996 and 1999, and to identify the internal and external practice environment features associated with NP use.
We surveyed 131 PC directors of all VAMCs in 1996 and 1999 to ascertain the staffing and characteristics of the PC practice and parent organization (e.g., academic affiliation, level of physician staffing, use of managed care arrangements), and drew on previously published studies and HRSA State Health Workforce Profiles to characterize each practice's regional health care environment (e.g., geographic region, state NP practice laws, state managed care penetration). Using multivariate linear regression, we evaluate the contribution of these environmental and organizational factors on the number of NPs/10,000 PC patients in 1999, controlling for the rate of NP use in 1996.
From 1996–1999, NP use increased from 75 percent to 90 percent in VA PC practices. The mean number of NPs per practice increased by about 60 percent (2.0 versus 3.2; p<.001), while the rate of NPs/10,000 PC patients trended upward (2.2 versus 2.7; p=.09). Staffing of other primary care clinicians (e.g., physicians and physician assistants per practice) remained stable, while the NP-per-physician rate increased (0.2 versus 0.4; p<.001). After multivariate adjustment, greater reliance on managed-care-oriented provider education programs (p=.02), the presence of NP training programs (p=.05), and more specialty-trained physicians/10,000 PC patients (p=.09) were associated with greater NP involvement in primary care.
Staffing models in VA PC practices have, in fact, changed, with NPs having a greater presence. However, we found substantial practice-based variations in their use, suggesting that more research is needed to better understand how they have been integrated into practice and what impact their involvement has had on the VA's ability to achieve its restructuring goals.
Nurse practitioner; primary care staffing; practice characteristics; environmental characteristics
We aimed to determine optimal strategies for complete mortality ascertainment comparing death certificates and United States (US) Veterans Administration (VA) records.
We constructed a cohort of California veterans who died in fiscal year (FY) 2000 and used VA services the year before death. We determined decedent status using California death certificates linked to VA utilization data and the VA Beneficiary Identification and Records Locator System (BIRLS) death file. We compared the characteristics of decedents who would not have been identified by either single source (e.g., VA BIRLS alone or California death certificates alone) with the rest of the cohort.
A total of 8,813 veteran decedents were identified from both VA decedent files and death certificates. Of all decedents, 5,698 / 8,813 (65%) veterans were identified in both source files, but 2,426 / 8,813 (28%) decedents were not identified in VA BIRLS, and 689 / 8,813 (8%) were not identified in death certificates. Compared to the rest of the cohort, decedents whose mortality status was ascertained through either single source differed by race / ethnicity, marital status, and California residence. Clinically, veterans identified from either single source had less comorbidity and were less likely to have been users of VA inpatient or long term care, but equally or more likely to have been users of VA outpatient services.
As single sources, VA decedent files and death certificates each provided an incomplete record, and death ascertainment was improved by using both source files. Potential bias may vary depending on analytic interest.
To examine quality improvement (QI) implementation in nursing homes, its association with organizational culture, and its effects on pressure ulcer care.
Data Sources/Study Settings
Primary data were collected from staff at 35 nursing homes maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on measures related to QI implementation and organizational culture. These data were combined with information obtained from abstractions of medical records and analyses of an existing database.
A cross-sectional analysis of the association among the different measures was performed.
Data Collection/Extraction Methods
Completed surveys containing information on QI implementation, organizational culture, employee satisfaction, and perceived adoption of guidelines were obtained from 1,065 nursing home staff. Adherence to best practices related to pressure ulcer prevention was abstracted from medical records. Risk-adjusted rates of pressure ulcer development were calculated from an administrative database.
Nursing homes differed significantly (p<.001) in their extent of QI implementation with scores on this 1 to 5 scale ranging from 2.98 to 4.08. Quality improvement implementation was greater in those nursing homes with an organizational culture that emphasizes innovation and teamwork. Employees of nursing homes with a greater degree of QI implementation were more satisfied with their jobs (a 1-point increase in QI score was associated with a 0.83 increase on the 5-point satisfaction scale, p<.001) and were more likely to report adoption of pressure ulcer clinical guidelines (a 1-point increase in QI score was associated with a 28 percent increase in number of staff reporting adoption, p<.001). No significant association was found, though, between QI implementation and either adherence to guideline recommendations as abstracted from records or the rate of pressure ulcer development.
Quality improvement implementation is most likely to be successful in those VA nursing homes with an underlying culture that promotes innovation. While QI implementation may result in staff who are more satisfied with their jobs and who believe they are providing better care, associations with improved care are uncertain.
Quality improvement; quality of care; nursing homes; decubitus ulcers
This study examined whether depressed patients treated exclusively in primary care report less need for care and less acceptability of treatment options than those depressed patients treated in the specialty mental health setting after up to 6 months of treatment.
Forty-five community primary care practices.
A total of 881 persons with major depression who had received mental health services in the previous 6 months and who enrolled in 3 of the 4 Quality Improvement for Depression Collaboration Studies.
MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS
Patients were categorized into 1 of 2 groups: 1) having received mental health services exclusively from a primary care provider (45%), or 2) having received any services from a mental health specialist (55%) in the previous 6 months. Compared with patients who received care from mental health specialists, patients who received mental health services exclusively from primary care providers had 2.7-fold the odds (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.6 to 4.4) of reporting that no treatment was definitely acceptable and had 2.4-fold the odds (95% CI, 1.5 to 3.9) of reporting that evidence-based treatment options (antidepressant medication) were definitely not acceptable. These results were adjusted for demographic, social/behavioral, depression severity, and economic factors using multiple logistic regression analysis.
Patients with depression treated exclusively by primary care providers have attitudes and beliefs more averse to care than those seen by mental health specialists. These differences in attitudes and beliefs may contribute to lower quality depression care observed in comparisons of primary care and specialty mental health providers.
attitudes; depression; quality improvement
We sought to develop a more reliable structured implicit chart review instrument for use in assessing the quality of care for chronic disease and to examine if ratings are more reliable for conditions in which the evidence base for practice is more developed.
We conducted a reliability study in a cohort with patient records including both outpatient and inpatient care as the objects of measurement. We developed a structured implicit review instrument to assess the quality of care over one year of treatment. 12 reviewers conducted a total of 496 reviews of 70 patient records selected from 26 VA clinical sites in two regions of the country. Each patient had between one and four conditions specified as having a highly developed evidence base (diabetes and hypertension) or a less developed evidence base (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or a collection of acute conditions). Multilevel analysis that accounts for the nested and cross-classified structure of the data was used to estimate the signal and noise components of the measurement of quality and the reliability of implicit review.
For COPD and a collection of acute conditions the reliability of a single physician review was quite low (intra-class correlation = 0.16–0.26) but comparable to most previously published estimates for the use of this method in inpatient settings. However, for diabetes and hypertension the reliability is significantly higher at 0.46. The higher reliability is a result of the reviewers collectively being able to distinguish more differences in the quality of care between patients (p < 0.007) and not due to less random noise or individual reviewer bias in the measurement. For these conditions the level of true quality (i.e. the rating of quality of care that would result from the full population of physician reviewers reviewing a record) varied from poor to good across patients.
For conditions with a well-developed quality of care evidence base, such as hypertension and diabetes, a single structured implicit review to assess the quality of care over a period of time is moderately reliable. This method could be a reasonable complement or alternative to explicit indicator approaches for assessing and comparing quality of care. Structured implicit review, like explicit quality measures, must be used more cautiously for illnesses for which the evidence base is less well developed, such as COPD and acute, short-course illnesses.
We evaluated the effect of implementing quality improvement (QI) programs for depression, relative to usual care, on primary care clinicians' knowledge about treatment.
DESIGN AND METHODS
Matched primary care clinics (46) from seven managed care organizations were randomized to usual care (mailed written guidelines only) versus one of two QI interventions. Self-report surveys assessed clinicians' knowledge of depression treatments prior to full implementation (June 1996 to March 1997) and 18 months later. We used an intent-to-treat analysis to examine intervention effects on change in knowledge, controlling for clinician and practice characteristics, and the nested design.
One hundred eighty-one primary care clinicians.
The interventions included institutional commitment to QI, training local experts, clinician education, and training nurses for patient assessment and education. One intervention had resources for nurse follow-up on medication use (QI-meds) and the other had reduced copayment for therapy from trained, local therapists (QI-therapy).
Clinicians in the intervention group had greater increases compared with clinicians in the usual care group over 18 months in knowledge of psychotherapy (by 20% for QI-meds, P = .04 and by 33% for QI-therapy, P = .004), but there were no significant increases in medication knowledge. Significant increases in knowledge scores (P = .01) were demonstrated by QI-therapy clinicians but not clinicians in the QI-meds group. Clinicians were exposed to multiple intervention components.
Dissemination of QI programs for depression in managed, primary care practices improved clinicians' treatment knowledge over 18 months, but breadth of learning was somewhat greater for a program that also included active collaboration with local therapists.
primary care clinicians; depression; quality improvement; treatment knowledge; managed care
To determine patient and provider characteristics associated with increased risk of nondetection of mental health problems by primary care physicians.
Cross-sectional patient and physician surveys conducted as part of the Medical Outcomes Study.
We studied 19,309 patients and 349 internists and family physicians.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS
We counted “detection” of a mental health problem whenever physicians reported, in a postvisit survey, that they thought the patient had a mental health problem or that they had counseled or referred the patient for mental health. Key independent variables included patient self-reported demographic characteristics, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), depression diagnoses according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and physician demographics and proclivity to provide counseling for depression. Logistic regression analysis, adjusted for HRQOL, revealed physicians were less likely to detect mental health problems in African Americans (odds ratio [OR], 0.63; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.46 to 0.86), men (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.54 to 0.75), and patients younger than 35 years (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.44 to 0.84), and more likely to detect them in patients with diabetes (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0 to 1.8) or hypertension (OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1 to 1.6). In a model that included DSM-III diagnoses, odds of detection remained reduced for African Americans as well as for Hispanics (OR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.11 to 0.71), and patients with more-severe DSM-III diagnoses were more likely to be detected. Physician proclivity toward providing counseling for depression influenced the likelihood of detection.
Patients' race, gender, and coexisting medical conditions affected physician awareness of mental health problems. Strategies to improve detection of mental health problems among African Americans, Hispanics, and men should be explored and evaluated.
mental health; depression; primary care; race/ethnicity