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1.  Are Dutch patients willing to be seen by a physician assistant instead of a medical doctor? 
Background
The employment of physician assistants (PAs) is a strategy to improve access to care. Since the new millennium, a handful of countries have turned to PAs as a means to bridge the growing gap between the supply and demand of medical services. However, little is known about this new workforce entity from the patient’s perspective. The objective of this study was to assess the willingness of Dutch patients to be treated by a PA or a medical doctor (MD) under various time constraints and semi-urgent medical scenarios.
Methods
A total of 450 Dutch adults were recruited to act as surrogate patients. A convenience sample was drawn from patients in a medical office waiting room in a general hospital awaiting their appointments. Each participant was screened to be naive as to what a PA and a nurse practitioner are and then read a definition of a PA and an MD. One of three medical scenarios was assigned to the participants in a patterned 1-2-3 strategy. Patients were required to make a trade-off decision of being seen after 1 hour by a PA or after 4 hours by a doctor. This forced-choice method continued with the same patient two more times with 30 minutes and 4 hours and another one of 2 hours versus 4 hours for the PA and MD, respectively.
Results
Surrogate patients chose the PA over the MD 96 % to 98 % of the time (depending on the scenario). No differences emerged when analysed by gender, age, or parenthood status.
Conclusion
Willingness to be seen by a PA was tested a priori to determine whether surrogate Dutch patients would welcome this new health-care provider. The findings suggest that employing PAs, at least in concept, may be an acceptable strategy for improving access to care with this population.
doi:10.1186/1478-4491-10-28
PMCID: PMC3462730  PMID: 22947130
Physician assistants; Trade-off; Willingness
2.  Health status in routine clinical practice: validity of the clinical COPD questionnaire at the individual patient level 
Background
There is a growing interest to use health status or disease control questionnaires in routine clinical practice. However, the validity of most questionnaires is established using techniques developed for group level validation. This study examines a new method, using patient interviews, to validate a short health status questionnaire, the Clinical COPD Questionnaire (CCQ), at the individual patient level.
Methods
Patients with COPD who visited an outpatient clinic completed the CCQ before the consultation, and the specialist physician completed it after the consultation. After the consultation all patients had a semi-structured in-depth interview. The patients' CCQ scores were compared with those of the treating clinician, and with mean scores from 5 clinicians from a pool of 20 who scored the CCQ after reading the transcript of the in-depth interviews only. Agreement was assessed using Lin's concordance correlation coefficient (CCC), and Blant and Altman plots. Interviews with patients with low agreement were reviewed for possible explanations.
Results
A total of 44 COPD patients (32 male, mean age 66 years, FEV1 45% of predicted) participated. Agreement between the patients' CCQ scores and those of the treating clinicians (CCC = 0.87) and the mean score of the reviewing clinicians (CCC = 0.86) was very high. No systematic error was detected. No explanation for individuals with low agreement was found.
Conclusion
The validity of the CCQ on the individual patient level, as assessed by these methods, is good. Individual health status assessment with the CCQ is therefore sufficiently accurate to be used in routine clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-8-135
PMCID: PMC2996364  PMID: 21080960

Results 1-2 (2)