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1.  Evaluation of funding gastroenterology research in Canada illustrates the beneficial role of partnerships 
BACKGROUND:
Funders of health research in Canada seek to determine how their funding programs impact research capacity and knowledge creation.
OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the impact of a focused grants and award program that was cofunded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes, and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology; and to measure the impact of the Program on the career paths of funded researchers and assess the outcomes of research supported through the Program.
METHODS:
A survey of the recipients of grants and awards from 2000 to 2008 was conducted in 2012. The CIHR Funding Decisions database was searched to determine subsequent funding; a bibliometric citation analysis of publications arising from the Program was performed.
RESULTS:
Of 160 grant and award recipients, 147 (92%) completed the survey. With >$17.4 million in research funding, support was provided for 131 fellowship awards, seven career transition awards, and 22 operating grants. More than three-quarters of grant and award recipients continue to work or train in a research-related position. Combined research outputs included 545 research articles, 130 review articles, 33 book chapters and 11 patents. Comparative analyses indicate that publications supported by the funding program had a greater impact than other Canadian and international comparators.
CONCLUSIONS:
Continuity in support of a long-term health research funding partnership strengthened the career development of gastroenterology researchers in Canada, and enhanced the creation and dissemination of new knowledge in the discipline.
PMCID: PMC3915015  PMID: 24340317
CAG; CIHR; Gastroenterology; Inflammatory bowel disease; Research capacity
2.  The endoscopy Global Rating Scale – Canada: Development and implementation of a quality improvement tool 
BACKGROUND:
Increasing use of gastrointestinal endoscopy, particularly for colorectal cancer screening, and increasing emphasis on health care quality highlight the need for endoscopy facilities to review the quality of the service they offer.
OBJECTIVE:
To adapt the United Kingdom Global Rating Scale (UK-GRS) to develop a web-based and patient-centred tool to assess and improve the quality of endoscopy services provided.
METHODS:
Based on feedback from 22 sites across Canada that completed the UK endoscopy GRS, and integrating results of the Canadian consensus on safety and quality indicators in endoscopy and other Canadian consensus reports, a working group of endoscopists experienced with the GRS developed the GRS-Canada (GRS-C).
RESULTS:
The GRS-C mirrors the two dimensions (clinical quality and quality of the patient experience) and 12 patient-centred items of the UK-GRS, but was modified to apply to Canadian health care infrastructure, language and current practice. Each item is assessed by a yes/no response to eight to 12 statements that are divided into levels graded D (basic) through A (advanced). A core team consisting of a booking clerk, charge nurse and the physician responsible for the unit is recommended to complete the GRS-C twice yearly.
CONCLUSION:
The GRS-C is intended to improve endoscopic services in Canada by providing endoscopy units with a straightforward process to review the quality of the service they provide.
PMCID: PMC3731117  PMID: 23472242
Endoscopy; Global rating scale; GRS; Quality
4.  Point-of-care, peer-comparator colonoscopy practice audit: The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Quality Program – Endoscopy 
BACKGROUND
Point-of-care practice audits allow documentation of procedural outcomes to support quality improvement in endoscopic practice.
OBJECTIVE
To evaluate a colonoscopists’ practice audit tool that provides point-of-care data collection and peer-comparator feedback.
METHODS
A prospective, observational colonoscopy practice audit was conducted in academic and community endoscopy units for unselected patients undergoing colonoscopy. Anonymized colonoscopist, patient and practice data were collected using touchscreen smart-phones with automated data upload for data analysis and review by participants. The main outcome measures were the following colonoscopy quality indicators: colonoscope insertion and withdrawal times, bowel preparation quality, sedation, immediate complications and polypectomy, and biopsy rates.
RESULTS
Over a span of 16 months, 62 endoscopists reported on 1279 colonoscopy procedures. The mean cecal intubation rate was 94.9% (10th centile 84.2%). The mean withdrawal time was 8.8 min and, for nonpolypectomy colonoscopies, 41.9% of colonoscopists reported a mean withdrawal time of less than 6 min. Polypectomy was performed in 37% of colonoscopies. Independent predictors of polypectomy included the following: endoscopy unit type, patient age, interval since previous colonoscopy, bowel preparation quality, stable inflammatory bowel disease, previous colon polyps and withdrawal time. Withdrawal times of less than 6 min were associated with lower polyp removal rates (mean difference −11.3% [95% CI −2.8% to −19.9%]; P=0.01).
DISCUSSION
Cecal intubation rates exceeded 90% and polypectomy rates exceeded 30%, but withdrawal times were frequently shorter than recommended. There are marked practice variations consistent with previous observations.
CONCLUSION
Real-time, point-of-care practice audits with prompt, confidential access to outcome data provide a basis for targeted educational programs to improve quality in colonoscopy practice.
PMCID: PMC3027329  PMID: 21258663
Colonoscopy; Health care; Practice audit; Quality assurance; Quality indicators
6.  2009 Canadian Association of Gastroenterology educational needs assessment report 
The annual survey of Canadian Association of Gastroenterology (CAG) members’ educational needs was conducted via an online survey during April 2009. A total of 261 individuals completed the survey. Similar to previous years, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) topics – particularly Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC) therapeutics, and difficult IBD cases – were most in demand for future educational events. Other highly rated areas were endoscopic techniques and therapeutics, celiac disease, approach to gastrointestinal (GI) infections and live endoscopy. The two most popular educational formats were ‘Lectures/presentations streamed to computer/podcasts’ and ‘A CAG educational portal to on-line presentations, self-assessments and maintenance of certification (MainCert) point tracking’.
PMCID: PMC2732179  PMID: 19668802
7.  Rapport d’évaluation des besoins de formation de l’Association canadienne de gastro-entérologie 2009 
C’est en avril 2009 que l’Association canadienne de gastroentérologie a mené son plus récent sondage annuel en ligne auprès de ses membres afin de connaître leurs besoins en matière de formation. En tout, 261 personnes ont répondu au sondage. Comme lors des années précédentes, les sujets entourant les maladies inflammatoires de l’intestin (MII) et plus particulièrement, les traitements pour la maladie de Crohn et la colite ulcéreuse (CU), de même que les cas de MII rebelles, ont été les plus en demande pour les activités de formation à venir. Parmi les autres thèmes populaires, mention-nons les techniques et les traitements endoscopiques, la maladie cœliaque, la prise en charge des infections gastro-intestinales (IGI) et l’endoscopie en direct. Les deux types d’activités de formation les plus attrayantes ont été les conférences et les présentations en Webdiffusion et le portail didactique de l’ACG offrant des liens vers des présentations en ligne, des tests d’auto-évaluation et le suivi des crédits de maintien du certificat (MainCert).
PMCID: PMC2732181
10.  Access to specialist gastroenterology care in Canada: Comparison of wait times and consensus targets 
BACKGROUND:
Monitoring wait times and defining targets for care have been advocated to improve health care delivery related to cancer, heart, diagnostic imaging, joint replacements and sight restoration. There are few data on access to care for digestive diseases, although they pose a greater economic burden than cancer or heart disease in Canada. The present study compared wait times for specialist gastroenterology care with recent, evidence-based, consensus-defined benchmark wait times for a range of digestive diseases.
METHODS:
Total wait times from primary care referral to investigation were measured for seven digestive disease indications by using the Practice Audit in Gastroenterology program, and were benchmarked against consensus recommendations.
RESULTS:
Total wait times for 1903 patients who were undergoing investigation exceeded targets for those with probable cancer (median 26 days [25th to 75th percentiles eight to 56 days] versus target of two weeks); probable inflammatory bowel disease (101 days [35 to 209 days] versus two weeks); documented iron deficiency anemia (71 days [19 to 142 days] versus two months); positive fecal occult blood test (73 days [36 to 148 days] versus two months); dyspepsia with alarm symptoms (60 days [23 to 140 days] versus two months); refractory dyspepsia without alarm symptoms (126 days [42 to 225 days] versus two months); and chronic constipation and diarrhea (141 days [68 to 264 days] versus two months). A minority of patients were seen within target times: probable cancer (33% [95% CI 20% to 47%]); probable inflammatory bowel disease (12% [95% CI 1% to 23%]); iron deficiency anemia (46% [95% CI 37% to 55%]); positive occult blood test (41% [95% CI 28% to 54%]); dyspepsia with alarm symptoms (51% [95% CI 41% to 60%]); refractory dyspepsia without alarm symptoms (33% [95% CI 19% to 47%]); and chronic constipation and diarrhea (21% [95% CI 14% to 29%]).
DISCUSSION:
Total wait times for the seven indications exceeded the consensus targets; 51% to 88% of patients were not seen within the target wait time. Multiple interventions, including adoption of evidence-based management guidelines and provision of economic and human resources, are needed to ensure appropriate access to digestive health care in Canada. Outcomes can be evaluated by the ‘point-of-care’, practice audit methodology used for the present study.
PMCID: PMC2659137  PMID: 18299735
Access; Benchmark; Digestive disease; Health care; Recommendation; Target; Wait time
11.  Access to specialist gastroenterology care in Canada: The Practice Audit in Gastroenterology (PAGE) Wait Times Program 
BACKGROUND:
Canadian wait time data are available for the treatment of cancer and heart disease, as well as for joint replacement, cataract surgery and diagnostic imaging procedures. Wait times for gastroenterology consultation and procedures have not been studied, although digestive diseases pose a greater economic burden in Canada than cancer or heart disease.
METHODS:
Specialist physicians completed the practice audit if they provided digestive health care, accepted new patients and recorded referral dates. For patients seen for consultation or investigation over a one-week period, preprogrammed personal digital assistants were used to collect data including the main reason for referral, initial referral and consultation dates, procedure dates (if performed), personal and family history, and patient symptoms, signs and test results. Patient triaging, appropriateness of the referral and timeliness of care were noted.
RESULTS:
Over 10 months, 199 physicians recorded details of 5559 referrals, including 1903 visits for procedures. The distribution of total wait times (from referral to procedure) nationally was highly skewed at 91/203 days (median/75th percentile), with substantial interprovincial variation: British Columbia, 66/185 days; Alberta, 134/284 days; Ontario, 110/208 days; Quebec, 71/149 days; New Brunswick, 104/234 days; and Nova Scotia, 42/84 days. The percentage of physicians by province offering average-risk screening colonoscopy varied from 29% to 100%.
DISCUSSION:
Access to specialist gastroenterology care in Canada is limited by long wait times, which exceed clinically reasonable waits for specialist treatment. Although exhibiting some methodological limitations, this large practice audit sampling offers broadly generalized results, as well as a means to identify barriers to health care delivery and evaluate strategies to address these barriers, with the goals of expediting appropriate care for patients with digestive health disorders and ameliorating the personal and societal burdens imposed by digestive diseases.
PMCID: PMC2659136  PMID: 18299734
Access; Digestive diseases; Health care; Practice audit; Wait time
16.  Canadian consensus on medically acceptable wait times for digestive health care 
BACKGROUND:
Delays in access to health care in Canada have been reported, but standardized systems to manage and monitor wait lists and wait times, and benchmarks for appropriate wait times, are lacking. The objective of the present consensus was to develop evidence- and expertise-based recommendations for medically appropriate maximal wait times for consultation and procedures by a digestive disease specialist.
METHODS:
A steering committee drafted statements defining maximal wait times for specialist consultation and procedures based on the most common reasons for referral of adult patients to a digestive disease specialist. Statements were circulated in advance to a multidisciplinary group of 25 participants for comments and voting. At the consensus meeting, relevant data and the results of voting were presented and discussed; these formed the basis of the final wording and voting of statements.
RESULTS:
Twenty-four statements were produced regarding maximal medically appropriate wait times for specialist consultation and procedures based on presenting signs and symptoms of referred patients. Statements covered the areas of gastrointestinal bleeding; cancer confirmation and screening and surveillance of colon cancer and colonic polyps; liver, biliary and pancreatic disorders; dysphagia and dyspepsia; abdominal pain and bowel dysfunction; and suspected inflammatory bowel disease. Maximal wait times could be stratified into four possible acuity categories of 24 h, two weeks, two months and six months.
FUTURE DIRECTIONS:
Comparison of these benchmarks with actual wait times will identify limitations in access to digestive heath care in Canada. These recommendations should be considered targets for future health care improvements and are not clinical practice guidelines.
PMCID: PMC2659924  PMID: 16779459
Access; Benchmarks; Consensus; Health care; Wait list; Wait time

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