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1.  Alcohol Problems as a Risk Factor for Post-Disaster Depressed Mood among U.S. Veterans 
Alcohol problems may impede adaptive, proactive responses to disaster-related injury and loss, thus prolonging the adverse impact of disasters on mental health. Previous work suggests that veterans of the U.S. armed forces have a relatively high prevalence of alcohol misuse and other psychiatric disorders. This is the first study to estimate the impact of pre-disaster alcohol problems on post-disaster depressed mood among veterans, using data that were collected before and after the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake. We assessed the impact of alcohol problems on post-disaster depressed mood in an existing clinical cohort of veterans who experienced the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that struck Northridge in January 1994. One-to-three months after the disaster, interviewers contacted participants by telephone to administer a follow-up questionnaire based on a survey that had been done pre-earthquake. Post-earthquake data were obtained on 1144 male veterans for whom there were pre-earthquake data. We tested a predictive path model of the relationships between latent variables for pre-disaster alcohol problems, functional limitations, and depressed mood on latent variables representing post-disaster “quake impact” and depressive mood. Results showed that veterans who had more alcohol problems before the earthquake experienced more earthquake-related harms and severely depressed mood after the earthquake, compared with those who had fewer alcohol problems. Programs serving veterans with a high prevalence of alcohol problems should consider designing disaster response protocols to locate and assist these patients in the aftermath of disasters.
doi:10.1037/a0030637
PMCID: PMC3604132  PMID: 23106638
alcohol; disasters; mental health; structural equation modeling; longitudinal studies
2.  Yield of Practice-Based Depression Screening In VA Primary Care Settings 
Background
Many patients who should be treated for depression are missed without effective routine screening in primary care (PC) settings. Yearly depression screening by PC staff is mandated in the VA, yet little is known about the expected yield from such screening when administered on a practice-wide basis.
Objective
We characterized the yield of practice-based screening in diverse PC settings, as well as the care needs of those assessed as having depression.
Design
Baseline enrollees in a group randomized trial of implementation of collaborative care for depression.
Participants
Randomly sampled patients with a scheduled PC appointment in ten VA primary care clinics spanning five states.
Measurements
PHQ-2 screening followed by the full PHQ-9 for screen positives, with standardized sociodemographic and health status questions.
Results
Practice-based screening of 10,929 patients yielded 20.1% positive screens, 60% of whom were assessed as having probable major depression based on the PHQ-9 (11.8% of all screens) (n = 1,313). In total, 761 patients with probable major depression completed the baseline assessment. Comorbid mental illnesses (e.g., anxiety, PTSD) were highly prevalent. Medical comorbidities were substantial, including chronic lung disease, pneumonia, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, cancer and stroke. Nearly one-third of the depressed PC patients reported recent suicidal ideation (based on the PHQ-9). Sexual dysfunction was also common (73.3%), being both longstanding (95.1% with onset >6 months) and frequently undiscussed and untreated (46.7% discussed with any health care provider in past 6 months).
Conclusions
Practice-wide survey-based depression screening yielded more than twice the positive-screen rate demonstrated through chart-based VA performance measures. The substantial level of comorbid physical and mental illness among PC patients precludes solo management by either PC or mental health (MH) specialists. PC practice- and provider-level guideline adherence is problematic without systems-level solutions supporting adequate MH assessment, PC treatment and, when needed, appropriate MH referral.
doi:10.1007/s11606-011-1904-5
PMCID: PMC3286554  PMID: 21975821
depression; screening; primary care; health care delivery; veterans
3.  Implementing collaborative care for depression treatment in primary care: A cluster randomized evaluation of a quality improvement practice redesign 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00105820
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-121
PMCID: PMC3219630  PMID: 22032247
4.  Targeting Primary Care Referrals to Smoking Cessation Clinics Does Not Improve Quit Rates: Implementing Evidence-Based Interventions into Practice 
Health Services Research  2008;43(5 Pt 1):1637-1661.
Objective
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.
Study Design
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.
Data Collection
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.
Principal Findings
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1111/j.1475-6773.2008.00865.x
PMCID: PMC2653889  PMID: 18522670
Smoking cessation; quality of health care; veterans
5.  Evaluation of the VIA® Blood Chemistry Monitor for Glucose in Healthy and Diabetic Volunteers 
Background
Manual methods of blood glucose monitoring are labor-intensive, costly, prone to error, and expose the caregiver to blood. The VIA® blood chemistry monitor for glucose can automatically measure plasma glucose (PG) every 5 minutes for 72 hours using blood sampled from a peripheral vein/artery or a central vein.
Methods
VIA performance was evaluated in eight normal and five type 1 diabetic (T1DM) subjects in 15 separate experiments. The VIA device was connected to a peripheral vein and reported a PG value every 5 minutes during each 510-minute experiment. Blood samples were collected manually every 10 minutes and assayed using a HemoCue® β-glucose analyzer (HC). Whole blood HC measurements were corrected to PG values. Paired HC/VIA measurements (n = 717) were analyzed.
Results
Mean PG was 90 ± 14 and 96 ± 12 mg/dl in normal subjects and 194 ± 64 and 173 ± 48 mg/dl in T1DM subject as measured by the HC and VIA, respectively. Clark error grid analysis revealed 86% points in zone A, 11% points in zone B, and 2% points in zone D. Linear regression analysis yielded the following equation: VIA = 0.732 × HC + 30.5 (r2 = 0.954). Residual analysis revealed a glucose-dependent bias between the HC and the VIA. VIA data were transformed using the linear regression equation to correct for bias. After the correction, the mean absolute relative difference between the VIA and the HC was less than 10%, and 99.6% of data were in zones A and B. The VIA was able to sample blood automatically every 5 minutes for more than 8 hours in the laboratory setting. On average, the VIA reported glucose values for 94% of the samples it attempted to obtain.
Conclusions
This study demonstrated that the VIA blood chemistry monitor for glucose can reliably sample blood frequently for a prolonged period of time safely and effectively in diabetic and nondiabetic volunteers. Agreement between the two devices was the closest at normal glucose concentrations. After correcting for a glucose-dependent bias between the devices, the MARD was consistently less than 10% for all glucose ranges.
PMCID: PMC2771480  PMID: 19885341
continuous glucose monitoring system; CGM; glucose sensor; VIA blood chemistry monitor for glucose; VIA glucose monitoring system; V-GLU1 glucose sensor
7.  Perceived Barriers to Weight Management in Primary Care—Perspectives of Patients and Providers 
Background
Despite the consequences of overweight and obesity, effective weight management is not occurring in primary care.
Objective
To identify beliefs about obesity that act as barriers to weight management in primary care by surveying both patients and providers and comparing their responses.
Design
Anonymous, cross-sectional, self-administered survey of patients and providers of a Veteran’s Administration Primary Care Clinic, distributed at the clinic site.
Subjects
Forty-eight Internal Medicine providers and 488 patients.
Measurements
Beliefs, attitudes, and experiences with weight management as well as demographic characteristics were collected through a questionnaire.
Results
Providers and patients differed significantly on many beliefs about weight. Providers were more likely than patients to perceive that patients lack self-control to stay on a diet and that fattening food in society and lack of time for exercise were prime factors in weight gain. They also expressed more interest in helping patients with weight management than patients desiring this. Patients were more likely to state that weight problems should be managed on one’s own, talking to a provider is not helpful, providers blame them for their weight problem, and that appointments contain sufficient time for weight discussion.
Conclusion
Providers and patients emphasize different barriers to weight management. Providers need to be aware of the beliefs that their patients hold to improve weight management discussions and interventions in primary care.
doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0125-4
PMCID: PMC1829430  PMID: 17372803
weight management; primary care; attitudes; beliefs; barriers
8.  Human subjects protection issues in QUERI implementation research: QUERI Series 
Background
Human Subjects protections approaches, specifically those relating to research review board oversight, vary throughout the world. While all are designed to protect participants involved in research, the structure and specifics of these institutional review boards (IRBs) can and do differ. This variation affects all types of research, particularly implementation research.
Methods
In 2001, we began a series of inter-related studies on implementing evidence-based collaborative care for depression in Veterans Health Administration primary care. We have submitted more than 100 IRB applications, amendments, and renewals, and in doing so, we have interacted with 13 VA and University IRBs across the United States (U.S.). We present four overarching IRB-related themes encountered throughout the implementation of our projects, and within each theme, identify key challenges and suggest approaches that have proved useful. Where applicable, we showcase process aids developed to assist in resolving a particular IRB challenge.
Results
There are issues unique to implementation research, as this type of research may not fit within the traditional Human Subjects paradigm used to assess clinical trials. Risks in implementation research are generally related to breaches of confidentiality, rather than health risks associated with traditional clinical trials. The implementation-specific challenges discussed are: external validity considerations, Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles, risk-benefit issues, the multiple roles of researchers and subjects, and system-level unit of analysis.
Discussion
Specific aspects of implementation research interact with variations in knowledge, procedures, and regulatory interpretations across IRBs to affect the implementation and study of best methods to increase evidence-based practice. Through lack of unambiguous guidelines and local liability concerns, IRBs are often at risk of applying both variable and inappropriate or unnecessary standards to implementation research that are not consistent with the spirit of the Belmont Report (a summary of basic ethical principles identified by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research), and which impede the conduct of evidence-based quality improvement research. While there are promising developments in the IRB community, it is incumbent upon implementation researchers to interact with IRBs in a manner that assists appropriate risk-benefit determinations and helps prevent the process from having a negative impact on efforts to reduce the lag in implementing best practices.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-3-10
PMCID: PMC2276514  PMID: 18279507
9.  The Utility of Adding Retrospective Medication Profiling to Computerized Provider Order Entry in an Ambulatory Care Population 
Background
We assessed whether medication safety improved when a medication profiling program was added to a computerized provider order entry system.
Design
Between June 2001 and January 2002 we profiled outpatients with potential prescribing errors using computerized retrospective drug utilization software. We focused primarily on drug interactions. Patients were randomly assigned either to Provider Feedback or to Usual Care. Subsequent adverse drug event (ADE) incidence and other outcomes, including ADE preventability and severity, occurring up to 1 year following the last profiling date were evaluated retrospectively by a pharmacist blinded to patient assignment.
Measurements
Data were abstracted using a study-designed instrument. An ADE was defined by an Adverse Drug Reaction Probability scale score of 1 or more. Statistical analyses included negative binomial regression for comparing ADE incidence.
Results
Of 913 patients in the analytic sample, 371 patients (41%) had one or more ADEs. Incidence, by individual, was not significantly different between Usual Care and Provider Feedback groups (37% vs. 45%; p = 0.06; Coefficient, 0.19; 95% CI: −0.008, 0.390). ADE severity was also similar. For example, 51% of ADEs in the Usual Care and 58% in the Provider Feedback groups involved symptoms that were not serious (95% CI for the difference, −15%, 2%). Finally, ADE preventability did not differ. For example, 16% in the Usual Care group and 17% in the Provider Feedback group had an associated warning (95% CI for the difference, −7 to 5%; p = 0.79).
Conclusion
Medications safety did not improve with the addition of a medication profiling program to an electronic prescribing system.
doi:10.1197/jamia.M2313
PMCID: PMC2244903  PMID: 17460134
10.  Perceived Barriers to Weight Management in Primary Care—Perspectives of Patients and Providers 
Background
Despite the consequences of overweight and obesity, effective weight management is not occurring in primary care.
Objective
To identify beliefs about obesity that act as barriers to weight management in primary care by surveying both patients and providers and comparing their responses.
Design
Anonymous, cross-sectional, self-administered survey of patients and providers of a Veteran’s Administration Primary Care Clinic, distributed at the clinic site.
Subjects
Forty-eight Internal Medicine providers and 488 patients.
Measurements
Beliefs, attitudes, and experiences with weight management as well as demographic characteristics were collected through a questionnaire.
Results
Providers and patients differed significantly on many beliefs about weight. Providers were more likely than patients to perceive that patients lack self-control to stay on a diet and that fattening food in society and lack of time for exercise were prime factors in weight gain. They also expressed more interest in helping patients with weight management than patients desiring this. Patients were more likely to state that weight problems should be managed on one’s own, talking to a provider is not helpful, providers blame them for their weight problem, and that appointments contain sufficient time for weight discussion.
Conclusion
Providers and patients emphasize different barriers to weight management. Providers need to be aware of the beliefs that their patients hold to improve weight management discussions and interventions in primary care.
doi:10.1007/s11606-007-0125-4
PMCID: PMC1829430  PMID: 17372803
weight management; primary care; attitudes; beliefs; barriers
11.  To Use or Not to Use 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2006;21(Suppl 3):S11-S18.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE
Effects of advances in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) women's health care on women veterans' health care decision making are unknown. Our objective was to determine why women veterans use or do not use VA health care.
DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS
Cross-sectional survey of 2,174 women veteran VA users and VA-eligible nonusers throughout southern California and southern Nevada.
MEASUREMENTS
VA utilization, attitudes toward care, and socio-demographics.
RESULTS
Reasons cited for VA use included affordability (67.9%); women's health clinic (WHC) availability (58.8%); quality of care (54.8%); and convenience (47.9%). Reasons for choosing health care in non-VA settings included having insurance (71.0%); greater convenience of non-VA care (66.9%); lack of knowledge of VA eligibility and services (48.5%); and perceived better non-VA quality (34.5%). After adjustment for socio-demographics, health characteristics, and VA priority group, knowledge deficits about VA eligibility and services and perceived worse VA care quality predicted outside health care use. VA users were less likely than non-VA users to have after-hours access to nonemergency care, but more likely to receive both general and gender-related care from the same clinic or provider, to use a WHC for gender-related care, and to consider WHC availability very important.
CONCLUSIONS
Lack of information about VA, perceptions of VA quality, and inconvenience of VA care, are deterrents to VA use for many women veterans. VA WHCs may foster VA use. Educational campaigns are needed to fill the knowledge gap regarding women veterans' VA eligibility and advances in VA quality of care, while VA managers consider solutions to after-hours access barriers.
doi:10.1111/j.1525-1497.2006.00369.x
PMCID: PMC1513176  PMID: 16637939
women's health services; ambulatory care/utilization; hospitals; veterans/utilization; health services accessibility; decision making; choice behavior
12.  Quality Improvement Implementation in the Nursing Home 
Health Services Research  2003;38(1 Pt 1):65-83.
Objective
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.
Study Design
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.
Principal Findings
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1111/1475-6773.00105
PMCID: PMC1360874  PMID: 12650381
Quality improvement; quality of care; nursing homes; decubitus ulcers

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