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1.  Medication compliance aids: a qualitative study of users' views 
Despite the rapid rise in the use of multicompartmental compliance aids (MCAs), little is known about the role they play in self-management of medication.
To explore the perceived benefits of MCAs for people using them to manage their own or a relative's medication.
Design of study
Qualitative study using in-depth interviews.
West Northumberland.
Recruitment was via posters and leaflets in general practices and community pharmacies. In-depth interviews were conducted using a topic guide.
Nineteen people were interviewed. Three overarching themes emerged in relation to medicine taking: disruption, organisation, and adherence, which impacted on control. The medication regime had caused disruption to their lives and this had led to the purchase of an MCA. The MCA enabled them to organise their medication, which they believed had improved the efficiency of medicine taking and saved time. Although the MCA did not prompt them to take their medication, they could see whether they had actually taken it or not, which alleviated their anxiety. To meet their individual needs and lifestyles, some had developed broader systems of medication management, incorporating the MCA. For a small cost – the initial outlay for the MCA and time spent loading it – they gained control over the management of their medication and their condition.
This group found the use of an MCA to be beneficial, but advice and support regarding how best to manage their medication and on the most appropriate design to suit their needs would be helpful.
PMCID: PMC3026148  PMID: 21276336
medication adherence; medication systems; qualitative research
2.  Systematic review of mass media interventions designed to improve public recognition of stroke symptoms, emergency response and early treatment 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:784.
Mass media interventions have been implemented to improve emergency response to stroke given the emergence of effective acute treatments, but their impact is unclear.
Systematic review of mass media interventions aimed at improving emergency response to stroke, with narrative synthesis and review of intervention development.
Ten studies were included (six targeted the public, four both public and professionals) published between 1992 and 2010. Only three were controlled before and after studies, and only one had reported how the intervention was developed. Campaigns aimed only at the public reported significant increase in awareness of symptoms/signs, but little impact on awareness of need for emergency response. Of the two controlled before and after studies, one reported no impact on those over 65 years, the age group at increased risk of stroke and most likely to witness a stroke, and the other found a significant increase in awareness of two or more warning signs of stroke in the same group post-intervention. One campaign targeted at public and professionals did not reduce time to presentation at hospital to within two hours, but increased and sustained thrombolysis rates. This suggests the campaign had a primary impact on professionals and improved the way that services for stroke were organised.
Campaigns aimed at the public may raise awareness of symptoms/signs of stroke, but have limited impact on behaviour. Campaigns aimed at both public and professionals may have more impact on professionals than the public. New campaigns should follow the principles of good design and be robustly evaluated.
PMCID: PMC3022856  PMID: 21182777
3.  Response to symptoms of stroke in the UK: a systematic review 
The English National Stroke Strategy suggests that there is a need to improve the response of patients and witnesses to the symptoms of acute stroke to increase rapid access to specialist care. We wished to review the evidence base regarding the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of stroke patients, witnesses and the public to the symptoms of stroke and the need for an urgent response at the onset of symptoms.
We conducted a systematic review of UK articles reporting empirical research on a) awareness of and response to the symptoms of acute stroke or TIA, and b) beliefs and attitudes about diagnosis, early treatment and consequences of acute stroke or TIA. Nine electronic databases were searched using a robust search strategy. Citations and abstracts were screened independently by two reviewers. Data were extracted by two researchers independently using agreed criteria.
11 studies out of 7144 citations met the inclusion criteria. Methods of data collection included: postal survey (n = 2); interview survey (n = 6); review of hospital documentation (n = 2) and qualitative interviews (n = 1). Limited data reveal a good level of knowledge of the two commonest stroke symptoms (unilateral weakness and speech disturbance), and of the need for an emergency response among the general public and at risk patients. Despite this, less than half of patients recognised they had suffered a stroke. Symptom recognition did not reduce time to presentation. For the majority, the first point of contact for medical assistance was a general practitioner.
There is an assumption that, in the UK, public knowledge of the symptoms of stroke and of the need for an emergency response is lacking, but there is little published research to support this. Public awareness raising campaigns to improve response to the symptoms of stroke therefore may not produce an increase in desired behaviours. Further research is needed to understand why people who experience or witness stroke symptoms frequently do not call emergency services.
PMCID: PMC2911429  PMID: 20529351
4.  Appropriate disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia: identifying the key behaviours of 'best practice' 
Despite growing evidence that many people with dementia want to know their diagnosis, there is wide variation in attitudes of professionals towards disclosure. The disclosure of the diagnosis of dementia is increasingly recognised as being a process rather than a one-off behaviour. However, the different behaviours that contribute to this process have not been comprehensively defined. No intervention studies to improve diagnostic disclosure in dementia have been reported to date. As part of a larger study to develop an intervention to promote appropriate disclosure, we sought to identify important disclosure behaviours and explore whether supplementing a literature review with other methods would result in the identification of new behaviours.
To identify a comprehensive list of behaviours in disclosure we conducted a literature review, interviewed people with dementia and informal carers, and used a consensus process involving health and social care professionals. Content analysis of the full list of behaviours was carried out.
Interviews were conducted with four people with dementia and six informal carers. Eight health and social care professionals took part in the consensus panel. From the interviews, consensus panel and literature review 220 behaviours were elicited, with 109 behaviours over-lapping. The interviews and consensus panel elicited 27 behaviours supplementary to the review. Those from the interviews appeared to be self-evident but highlighted deficiencies in current practice and from the panel focused largely on balancing the needs of people with dementia and family members. Behaviours were grouped into eight categories: preparing for disclosure; integrating family members; exploring the patient's perspective; disclosing the diagnosis; responding to patient reactions; focusing on quality of life and well-being; planning for the future; and communicating effectively.
This exercise has highlighted the complexity of the process of disclosing a diagnosis of dementia in an appropriate manner. It confirms that many of the behaviours identified in the literature (often based on professional opinion rather than empirical evidence) also resonate with people with dementia and informal carers. The presence of contradictory behaviours emphasises the need to tailor the process of disclosure to individual patients and carers. Our combined methods may be relevant to other efforts to identify and define complex clinical practices for further study.
PMCID: PMC2408568  PMID: 18452594
5.  Clinical research without consent in adults in the emergency setting: a review of patient and public views 
BMC Medical Ethics  2008;9:9.
In emergency research, obtaining informed consent can be problematic. Research to develop and improve treatments for patients admitted to hospital with life-threatening and debilitating conditions is much needed yet the issue of research without consent (RWC) raises concerns about unethical practices and the loss of individual autonomy. Consistent with the policy and practice turn towards greater patient and public involvement in health care decisions, in the US, Canada and EU, guidelines and legislation implemented to protect patients and facilitate acute research with adults who are unable to give consent have been developed with little involvement of the lay public. This paper reviews research examining public opinion regarding RWC for research in emergency situations, and whether the rules and regulations permitting research of this kind are in accordance with the views of those who ultimately may be the most affected.
Seven electronic databases were searched: Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Philosopher's Index, Age Info, PsychInfo, Sociological Abstracts and Web of Science. Only those articles pertaining to the views of the public in the US, Canada and EU member states were included. Opinion pieces and those not published in English were excluded.
Considering the wealth of literature on the perspectives of professionals, there was relatively little information about public attitudes. Twelve studies employing a range of research methods were identified. In five of the six questionnaire surveys around half the sample did not agree generally with RWC, though paradoxically, a higher percentage would personally take part in such a study. Unfortunately most of the studies were not designed to investigate individuals' views in any depth. There also appears to be a level of mistrust of medical research and some patients were more likely to accept an experimental treatment 'outside' of a research protocol.
There are too few data to evaluate whether the rules and regulations permitting RWC protects – or is acceptable to – the public. However, any attempts to engage the public should take place in the context of findings from further basic research to attend to the apparently paradoxical findings of some of the current surveys.
PMCID: PMC2390563  PMID: 18445261
6.  The development of a theory-based intervention to promote appropriate disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia 
The development and description of interventions to change professional practice are often limited by the lack of an explicit theoretical and empirical basis. We set out to develop an intervention to promote appropriate disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia based on theoretical and empirical work.
We identified three key disclosure behaviours: finding out what the patient already knows or suspects about their diagnosis; using the actual words 'dementia' or 'Alzheimer's disease' when talking to the patient; and exploring what the diagnosis means to the patient. We conducted a questionnaire survey of older peoples' mental health teams (MHTs) based upon theoretical constructs from the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) and Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) and used the findings to identify factors that predicted mental health professionals' intentions to perform each behaviour. We selected behaviour change techniques likely to alter these factors.
The change techniques selected were: persuasive communication to target subjective norm; behavioural modelling and graded tasks to target self-efficacy; persuasive communication to target attitude towards the use of explicit terminology when talking to the patient; and behavioural modelling by MHTs to target perceived behavioural control for finding out what the patient already knows or suspects and exploring what the diagnosis means to the patient. We operationalised these behaviour change techniques using an interactive 'pen and paper' intervention designed to increase intentions to perform the three target behaviours.
It is feasible to develop an intervention to change professional behaviour based upon theoretical models, empirical data and evidence based behaviour change techniques. The next step is to evaluate the effect of such an intervention on behavioural intention. We argue that this approach to development and reporting of interventions will contribute to the science of implementation by providing replicable interventions that illuminate the principles and processes underlying change.
PMCID: PMC2211296  PMID: 18093312
7.  Which factors explain variation in intention to disclose a diagnosis of dementia? A theory-based survey of mental health professionals 
For people with dementia, patient-centred care should involve timely explanation of the diagnosis and its implications. However, this is not routine. Theoretical models of behaviour change offer a generalisable framework for understanding professional practice and identifying modifiable factors to target with an intervention. Theoretical models and empirical work indicate that behavioural intention represents a modifiable predictor of actual professional behaviour. We identified factors that predict the intentions of members of older people's mental health teams (MHTs) to perform key behaviours involved in the disclosure of dementia.
Postal questionnaire survey.
Professionals from MHTs in the English National Health Service.
We selected three behaviours: Determining what patients already know or suspect about their diagnosis; using explicit terminology when talking to patients; and exploring what the diagnosis means to patients. The questionnaire was based upon the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), and exploratory team variables.
Main outcomes
Behavioural intentions.
Out of 1,269 professionals working in 85 MHTs, 399 (31.4%) returned completed questionnaires. Overall, the TPB best explained behavioural intention. For determining what patients already know, the TPB variables of subjective norm, perceived behavioural control and attitude explained 29.4% of the variance in intention. For the use of explicit terminology, the same variables explained 53.7% of intention. For exploring what the diagnosis means to patients, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control explained 48.6% of intention.
These psychological models can explain up to half of the variation in intention to perform key disclosure behaviours. This provides an empirically-supported, theoretical basis for the design of interventions to improve disclosure practice by targeting relevant predictive factors.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2042985  PMID: 17894893
8.  Explaining variation in GP referral rates for x-rays for back pain 
Despite the availability of clinical guidelines for the management of low back pain (LBP), there continues to be wide variation in general practitioners' (GPs') referral rates for lumbar spine x-ray (LSX). This study aims to explain variation in GPs' referral rates for LSX from their accounts of the management of patients with low back pain.
Qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 29 GPs with high and low referral rates for LSX in North East England. Thematic analysis used constant comparative techniques.
Common and divergent themes were identified among high- and low-users of LSX. Themes that were similar in both groups included an awareness of current guidelines for the use of LSX for patients with LBP and the pressure from patients and institutional factors to order a LSX. Differentiating themes for the high-user group included: a belief that LSX provides reassurance to patients that can outweigh risks, pessimism about the management options for LBP, and a belief that denying LSX would adversely affect doctor-patient relationships. Two specific differentiating themes are considered in more depth: GPs' awareness of their use of lumbar spine radiology relative to others, and the perceived risks associated with LSX radiation.
Several key factors differentiate the accounts of GPs who have high and low rates of referral for LSX, even though they are aware of clinical guideline recommendations. Intervention studies that aim to increase adherence to guideline recommendations on the use of LSX by changing the ordering behaviour of practitioners in primary care should focus on these factors.
PMCID: PMC1570475  PMID: 16884536

Results 1-8 (8)