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1.  The effectiveness of non-pharmacological healthcare interventions for asthma management during pregnancy: a systematic review 
While reviews have been published on asthma management in pregnant women, none has examined the effectiveness of non-pharmacological healthcare interventions for optimizing asthma management in pregnant women. This systematic review aims to identify non-pharmacological healthcare interventions for optimizing asthma management during pregnancy and to examine their effects on maternal asthma control and neonatal outcomes.
The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, Cochrane Library), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (IPA) were searched. Two reviewers independently assessed the identified studies against the eligibility criteria and extracted relevant information. The effects of the intervention were assessed qualitatively.
Nine studies were identified, of which six were rejected according to the exclusion criteria. The three studies included in the final review described an education program, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and Fraction of exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) guided management of asthma in pregnant women. The PMR and FeNO-guided interventions showed significant improvements in maternal asthma control (lung function and quality of life) and neonatal outcomes (birth weight).
Further evidence from well-designed studies evaluating non-pharmacological healthcare interventions for optimizing asthma management in pregnant women is required.
PMCID: PMC3994784  PMID: 24642132
Asthma; Non-pharmacological; Interventions; Management; Pregnancy
2.  Stakeholder experiences with general practice pharmacist services: a qualitative study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(9):e003214.
To explore general practice staff, pharmacist and patient experiences with pharmacist services in Australian general practice clinics within the Pharmacists in Practice Study.
Qualitative study.
Two general practice clinics in Melbourne, Australia, in which pharmacists provided medication reviews, patient and staff education, medicines information and quality assurance services over a 6-month period.
Patients, practice staff and pharmacists.
Semi-structured telephone interviews with patients, focus groups with practice staff and semi-structured interviews and periodic narrative reports with practice pharmacists. Data were analysed thematically and theoretical frameworks used to explain the findings.
34 participants were recruited: 18 patients, 14 practice staff (9 general practitioners, 4 practice nurses, 1 practice manager) and 2 practice pharmacists. Five main themes emerged: environment; professional relationships and integration; pharmacist attributes; staff and patient benefits and logistical challenges. Participants reported that colocation and the interdisciplinary environment of general practice enabled better communication and collaboration compared to traditional community and consultant pharmacy services. Participants felt that pharmacists needed to possess certain attributes to ensure successful integration, including being personable and proactive. Attitudinal, professional and logistical barriers were identified but were able to be overcome. The findings were explained using D'Amour's structuration model of collaboration and Roger's diffusion of innovation theory.
This is the first qualitative study to explore the experiences of general practice staff, pharmacists and patients on their interactions within the Australian general practice environment. Participants were receptive of colocated pharmacist services, and various barriers and facilitators to integration were identified. Future research should investigate the feasibility and sustainability of general practice pharmacist roles.
PMCID: PMC3773653  PMID: 24030867
Primary Care; Qualitative Research; Health Services Administration & Management
3.  Multidisciplinary approach to management of maternal asthma (MAMMA [copyright]): the PROTOCOL for a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:1094.
Uncontrolled asthma during pregnancy is associated with the maternal hazards of disease exacerbation, and perinatal hazards including intrauterine growth restriction and preterm birth. Interventions directed at achieving better asthma control during pregnancy should be considered a high priority in order to optimise both maternal and perinatal outcomes. Poor compliance with prescribed asthma medications during pregnancy and suboptimal prescribing patterns to pregnant women have both been shown to be contributing factors that jeopardise asthma control. The aim is to design and evaluate an intervention involving multidisciplinary care for women experiencing asthma in pregnancy.
A pilot single-blinded parallel-group randomized controlled trial testing a Multidisciplinary Approach to Management of Maternal Asthma (MAMMA©) which involves education and regular monitoring. Pregnant women with asthma will be recruited from antenatal clinics in Victoria, Australia. Recruited participants, stratified by disease severity, will be allocated to the intervention or the usual care group in a 1:1 ratio. Both groups will be followed prospectively throughout pregnancy and outcomes will be compared between groups at three and six months after recruitment to evaluate the effectiveness of this intervention. Outcome measures include Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) scores, oral corticosteroid use, asthma exacerbations and asthma related hospital admissions, and days off work, preventer to reliever ratio, along with pregnancy and neonatal adverse events at delivery. The use of FEV1/FEV6 will be also investigated during this trial as a marker for asthma control.
If successful, this model of care could be widely implemented in clinical practice and justify more funding for support services and resources for these women. This intervention will also promote awareness of the risks of poorly controlled asthma and the need for a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to asthma management during pregnancy. This is also the first study to investigate the use of FEV1/FEV6 as a marker for asthma control during pregnancy.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12612000681853)
PMCID: PMC3536559  PMID: 23253481
Asthma; Pregnancy; Inhaled corticosteroids; Randomized controlled trial; Antenatal care; Intervention; Lung function tests; Multidisciplinary care
4.  Stability of Extemporaneously Prepared 0.5-Percent Caspofungin Eye Drops: a Potential Cost-Savings Exercise 
While the successful use of topical caspofungin for patients has been reported, topical caspofungin is not commercially available and its stability is unknown, limiting its usefulness in treating fungal keratitis. Caspofungin (0.5%) eye drops were aseptically prepared, and the concentrations were measured using a validated high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis. The preparations remained stable for 28 days under refrigerated condition but not at 25.0°C. Our study supports the cost-saving use of caspofungin eye drops in the clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC3370802  PMID: 22470114
5.  An exploration of the role of pharmacists within general practice clinics: the protocol for the pharmacists in practice study (PIPS) 
Medication-related problems are a serious concern in Australian primary care. Pharmacist interventions have been shown to be effective in identifying and resolving these problems. Collaborative general practitioner-pharmacist services currently available in Australia are limited and underused. Limitations include geographical isolation of pharmacists and lack of communication and access to patient information. Co-location of pharmacists within the general practice clinics is a possible solution. There have been no studies in the Australian setting exploring the role of pharmacists within general practice clinics.
The aim of this study is to develop and test a multifaceted practice pharmacist role in primary care practices to improve the quality use of medicines by patients and clinic staff.
This is a multi-centre, prospective intervention study with a pre-post design and a qualitative component. A practice pharmacist will be located in each of two clinics and provide short and long patient consultations, drug information services and quality assurance activities. Patients receiving long consultation with a pharmacist will be followed up at 3 and 6 months. Based on sample size calculations, at least 50 patients will be recruited for long patient consultations across both sites. Outcome measures include the number, type and severity of medication-related problems identified and resolved; medication adherence; and patient satisfaction. Brief structured interviews will be conducted with patients participating in the study to evaluate their experiences with the service. Staff collaboration and satisfaction with the service will be assessed.
This intervention has the potential to optimise medication use in primary care clinics leading to better health outcomes. This study will provide data about the effectiveness of the proposed model for pharmacist involvement in Australian general practice clinics, that will be useful to guide further research and development in this area.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12612000742875
PMCID: PMC3470952  PMID: 22876813
Pharmacists; Primary healthcare; General practice; Multidisciplinary; Family practice
6.  Experiences of community pharmacists involved in the delivery of a specialist asthma service in Australia 
The role of community pharmacists in disease state management has been mooted for some years. Despite a number of trials of disease state management services, there is scant literature into the engagement of, and with, pharmacists in such trials. This paper reports pharmacists’ feedback as providers of a Pharmacy Asthma Management Service (PAMS), a trial coordinated across four academic research centres in Australia in 2009. We also propose recommendations for optimal involvement of pharmacists in academic research.
Feedback about the pharmacists’ experiences was sought via their participation in either a focus group or telephone interview (for those unable to attend their scheduled focus group) at one of three time points. A semi-structured interview guide focused discussion on the pharmacists’ training to provide the asthma service, their interactions with health professionals and patients as per the service protocol, and the future for this type of service. Focus groups were facilitated by two researchers, and the individual interviews were shared between three researchers, with data transcribed verbatim and analysed manually.
Of 93 pharmacists who provided the PAMS, 25 were involved in a focus group and seven via telephone interview. All pharmacists approached agreed to provide feedback. In general, the pharmacists engaged with both the service and research components, and embraced their roles as innovators in the trial of a new service. Some experienced challenges in the recruitment of patients into the service and the amount of research-related documentation, and collaborative patient-centred relationships with GPs require further attention. Specific service components, such as the spirometry, were well received by the pharmacists and their patients. Professional rewards included satisfaction from their enhanced practice, and pharmacists largely envisaged a future for the service.
The PAMS provided pharmacists an opportunity to become involved in an innovative service delivery model, supported by the researchers, yet trained and empowered to implement the clinical service throughout the trial period and beyond. The balance between support and independence appeared crucial in the pharmacists’ engagement with the trial. Their feedback was overwhelmingly positive, while useful suggestions were identified for future academic trials.
PMCID: PMC3439711  PMID: 22709371
Pharmacy; Asthma; Disease management service; Experiences; Feedback
7.  Management of asthma in pregnant women by general practitioners: A cross sectional survey 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:121.
Poorly controlled asthma can lead to maternal and fetal complications. Despite the known risks of poorly controlled asthma during pregnancy and the need for stepping up therapy when appropriate, there are concerns that management is suboptimal in primary care.
Our objective was to investigate the management of asthma during pregnancy by general practitioners providing shared maternity care.
A pre-piloted, anonymous mail survey was sent to all general practitioners (n = 842) involved in shared maternity care at six maternity hospitals in Victoria, Australia. Respondents were asked about their perceived safety of individual asthma medications during pregnancy. Approach to asthma management during pregnancy was further explored using scenarios of pregnant women with stable and deteriorating asthma and poor medication adherence.
Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) were perceived to be the safest and were the preferred preventive medication in first trimester (74.1%), whilst leukotriene receptor antagonists were the least preferred (2.9%). A quarter (25.8%) of respondents would stop or decrease patients' ICS doses during pregnancy, even when their asthma was well controlled by current therapy. In addition, 12.1% of respondents were not sure how to manage deteriorating asthma during pregnancy and opted to refer to another health professional. Almost half the respondents (48.9%) reported encountering medication nonadherence during pregnancy.
A lack of confidence and/or knowledge among general practitioners in managing deteriorating asthma in pregnancy was observed despite a good understanding of the safety of asthma medications during pregnancy, compliance with evidence-based guidelines in the selection of preventive medications, and self reported good asthma knowledge.
PMCID: PMC3219736  PMID: 22047491
8.  A pharmacist-led intervention for increasing the uptake of Home Medicines Review (HMR) among residents of retirement villages (PHARMER): protocol for a cluster randomised controlled trial 
The majority of retirement village residents are at risk of medication misadventure. In a recent survey of retirement village residents in Victoria, two-thirds had at least one medication-related risk factor, and hence were eligible to receive a government-subsidised Home Medicines Review (HMR). However, only 6% of eligible residents had received a HMR in the previous 12 months. Reasons for the poor uptake of HMR, and interventions for improving HMR uptake, have been identified and developed with input from stakeholders. The trial will test the effect of Pharmacist-conducted HMR to Address the Risk of Medication-related Events in Retirement Villages (PHARMER) in improving the uptake of HMRs among retirement village residents.
This is a multicentre prospective cluster randomised controlled trial. Ten retirement villages in Victoria, Australia will be recruited for this trial. Retirement villages will be selected in consultation with the Residents of Retirement Villages Victoria Inc. (RRVV), based on geographical locations (e.g. northeast or southwest), size and other factors. Residents from selected villages will be recruited with the help of RRVV Resident Liaison Officers using a range of strategies. Randomisation will be by geographical location to minimise contamination. Participating villages and residents will be allocated to either Pharmacist Intervention Group (PIG) or Usual Care Group (UCG). Each group will include five retirement villages and will have at least 77 residents in total. The intervention (PHARMER) comprises educating residents regarding HMR, and using a risk assessment checklist by residents to notify their General Practitioners of their medication risk. Uptake of HMR and medication adherence will be assessed in both PIG and UCG at three and six months using telephone interviews and questionnaires.
This study is the first to develop and test an intervention to improve the uptake of HMR among Australian residents in retirement villages, with a view to decreasing medication risk. A multi-faceted interventional approach will be used as suggested by stakeholders. The trial is expected to be complete by late 2011 and results will be available in 2012.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12611000109909)
PMCID: PMC3215972  PMID: 22040307
9.  Penetration of Topically Administered 0.5-Percent Caspofungin Eye Drops into Human Aqueous Humor▿  
Ten participants attending elective anterior segment eye surgery received 0.5% caspofungin eye drops either 1 drop hourly for 4 h or 1 drop an hour before surgery. The eye drops were generally well tolerated. In the absence of inflammation or corneal abrasion, topical caspofungin does not achieve clinically relevant concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3067136  PMID: 21263052
10.  Rapid and Sensitive Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry Assay for Caspofungin in Human Aqueous Humor ▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2010;54(10):4467-4470.
A rapid, precise, and sensitive liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) method to quantify the caspofungin concentration in human aqueous humor was developed and validated. Sample preparation involved simple dilution of aqueous humor samples with acetonitrile. Azithromycin was the internal standard. Good linearity over 10 to 5,000 ng/ml was observed. The lower limit of quantification was 10 ng/ml. The intra- and interday accuracies (percent bias) were within 11%, while the intra- and interday precisions were within 6%.
PMCID: PMC2944625  PMID: 20660672
11.  Pharmacy Asthma Care Program (PACP) improves outcomes for patients in the community 
Thorax  2007;62(6):496-592.
Despite national disease management plans, optimal asthma management remains a challenge in Australia. Community pharmacists are ideally placed to implement new strategies that aim to ensure asthma care meets current standards of best practice. The impact of the Pharmacy Asthma Care Program (PACP) on asthma control was assessed using a multi‐site randomised intervention versus control repeated measures study design.
Fifty Australian pharmacies were randomised into two groups: intervention pharmacies implemented the PACP (an ongoing cycle of assessment, goal setting, monitoring and review) to 191 patients over 6 months, while control pharmacies gave their usual care to 205 control patients. Both groups administered questionnaires and conducted spirometric testing at baseline and 6 months later. The main outcome measure was asthma severity/control status.
186 of 205 control patients (91%) and 165 of 191 intervention patients (86%) completed the study. The intervention resulted in improved asthma control: patients receiving the intervention were 2.7 times more likely to improve from “severe” to “not severe” than control patients (OR 2.68, 95% CI 1.64 to 4.37; p<0.001). The intervention also resulted in improved adherence to preventer medication (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.08 to 3.30; p = 0.03), decreased mean daily dose of reliever medication (difference −149.11 μg, 95% CI −283.87 to −14.36; p = 0.03), a shift in medication profile from reliever only to a combination of preventer, reliever with or without long‐acting β agonist (OR 3.80, 95% CI 1.40 to 10.32; p = 0.01) and improved scores on risk of non‐adherence (difference −0.44, 95% CI −0.69 to −0.18; p = 0.04), quality of life (difference −0.23, 95% CI −0.46 to 0.00; p = 0.05), asthma knowledge (difference 1.18, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.63; p<0.01) and perceived control of asthma questionnaires (difference −1.39, 95% CI −2.44 to −0.35; p<0.01). No significant change in spirometric measures occurred in either group.
A pharmacist‐delivered asthma care programme based on national guidelines improves asthma control. The sustainability and implementation of the programme within the healthcare system remains to be investigated.
PMCID: PMC2117224  PMID: 17251316
12.  Clinical utility of voriconazole eye drops in ophthalmic fungal keratitis 
Fungal keratitis is one of the major causes of ophthalmic mycosis and is difficult to treat. The range of common antifungal agents available for fungal keratitis remains inadequate and is generally associated with poor clinical outcomes. Voriconazole is a new generation triazole antifungal agent. Only marketed in systemic formulation and, with broad-spectrum activity and high intraocular penetration, voriconazole has demonstrated effectiveness against fungal keratitis. Systemic voriconazole, however, is not without side effects and is costly. Voriconazole eye drops have been prepared extemporaneously and used for the treatment of ophthalmic fungal keratitis. The current article sought to review the literature for evidence related to the effectiveness and safety of topical voriconazole and its corneal penetration into the aqueous humor of the eye. The voriconazole eye drops used are typically of 1% concentration, well tolerated by the eye, and are stable. Despite existing evidence to suggest that the eye drops are effective in the treatment of fungal keratitis, more studies are needed, especially in relation to using the eye drops as first-line and stand-alone treatment, preparation of higher concentrations, and optimal dosing frequency.
PMCID: PMC2866570  PMID: 20463910
voriconazole; fungal keratitis; eye drops; corneal penetration
13.  Evaluation of a community pharmacy-based intervention for improving patient adherence to antihypertensives: a randomised controlled trial 
The majority of patients using antihypertensive medications fail to achieve their recommended target blood pressure. Poor daily adherence with medication regimens and a lack of persistence with medication use are two of the major reasons for failure to reach target blood pressure. There is no single intervention to improve adherence with antihypertensives that is consistently effective. Community pharmacists are in an ideal position to promote adherence to chronic medications. This study aims to test a specific intervention package that could be integrated into the community pharmacy workflow to enable pharmacists to improve patient adherence and/or persistence with antihypertensive medications - Hypertension Adherence Program in Pharmacy (HAPPY).
The HAPPY trial is a multi-centre prospective randomised controlled trial. Fifty-six pharmacies have been recruited from three Australian states. To identify potential patients, a software application (MedeMine CVD) extracted data from a community pharmacy dispensing software system (FRED Dispense®). The pharmacies have been randomised to either 'Pharmacist Care Group' (PCG) or 'Usual Care Group' (UCG). To check for 'Hawthorne effect' in the UCG, a third group of patients 'Hidden Control Group' (HCG) will be identified in the UCG pharmacies, which will be made known to the pharmacists at the end of six months. Each study group requires 182 patients. Data will be collected at baseline, three and six months in the PCG and at baseline and six months in the UCG. Changes in patient adherence and persistence at the end of six months will be measured using the self-reported Morisky score, the Tool for Adherence Behaviour Screening and medication refill data.
To our knowledge, this is the first research testing a comprehensive package of evidence-based interventions that could be integrated into the community pharmacy workflow to enable pharmacists to improve patient adherence and/or persistence with antihypertensive medications. The unique features of the HAPPY trial include the use of MedeMine CVD to identify patients who could potentially benefit from the service, control for the 'Hawthorne effect' in the UCG and the offer of the intervention package at the end of six months to patients in the UCG, a strategy that is expected to improve retention.
Trial Registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry ACTRN12609000705280
PMCID: PMC2829019  PMID: 20137091
14.  Prospective Open-Label Study of the Administration of Two-Percent Voriconazole Eye Drops▿  
Thirteen human subjects scheduled for elective anterior segment eye surgery received hourly 2% voriconazole eye drops 4 hours presurgery. No side effects were reported. Significantly, the voriconazole concentration in the aqueous humor of the eye was similar to that reported for the 1% voriconazole solution, suggestive of concentration-independent absorption.
PMCID: PMC2704690  PMID: 19433565
15.  Adherence to disease management programs in patients with COPD 
The management of COPD is complex and patient adherence to treatment recommendations is known to be poor. In this paper the methods used for evaluating adherence in COPD are compared. Self-reporting has satisfactory reliability and offers a cheap, simple and easy method for assessing adherent behaviors. Unlike the objective measures of adherence such as electronic monitoring, self-reporting helps in identifying the reasons for nonadherence, which in turn would be useful in addressing adherence issues.
Patients do not follow their treatment recommendations either intentionally or unintentionally. Intentional deviations are driven by patient beliefs and experiences about illness and treatment, which are in turn influenced by social and cultural factors. Unintentional deviations are often due to cognitive impairment and lack of routines. Factors associated with adherence in COPD have been explained using the Becker-Maiman model.
Strategies for overcoming nonadherence have to be formulated based on the nature and reasons for nonadherence. In the event of unintentional nonadherence, the use of adherence aids like Dosette boxes, calendar packs and reminders should be promoted. Understanding patient beliefs and experiences, patient education focusing on the pathology of COPD and the role of treatment, periodic monitoring and reinforcement are critical for overcoming the barriers of intentional nonadherence.
PMCID: PMC2695203  PMID: 18229563
adherence; COPD; intentional; unintentional; measure; factors
16.  A qualitative study of action plans for asthma 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;324(7344):1003.
To investigate the perspectives of patients with asthma on the use of an action plan and the implementation of this plan during an asthma attack that culminated in a visit to an emergency department.
Qualitative study.
Tertiary teaching hospital, suburban hospital, and rural hospital.
62 patients aged 18 to 69 years who presented to an emergency department with asthma over a two month period.
29 participants described having action plans given to them by their doctors. Most patients with action plans reinterpreted their plan from the perspective of their own experiences with asthma. 33 patients did not have an action plan, the most common reason being that they had not been given one by their doctor. Some occupational groups were significantly less likely to have been given an action plan by their doctor than others. Most patients with an action plan found them useful for management of their asthma.
Action plans were viewed positively by patients. Participants modified their prescribed plan according to their experience of asthma. To facilitate the implementation of a prescribed action plan, doctors need to acknowledge and include the patient's personal experience of their disease.
What is already known on this topicAction plans for the self management of asthma are standard and have been shown to improve patient outcomes and to protect against death from asthma when provided in written formFactors that enable patients with asthma to implement an action plan and their perspectives on the use of such plans have not been explored in an individual contextWhat this study addsMost patients with action plans found them usefulMost patients modified their plans according to their perceptions of severity and likely disease outcomeClinicians must engage with a patient's experience of asthma to facilitate the use of an action plan
PMCID: PMC102774  PMID: 11976240

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