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2.  A randomized controlled trial comparing in-person and wiki-inspired nominal group techniques for engaging stakeholders in chronic kidney disease research prioritization 
Background
Few studies have evaluated stakeholder engagement in chronic kidney disease (CKD) research prioritization. In this two-arm, parallel group randomized controlled trial, we sought to compare an in-person nominal group technique (NGT) approach with an online wiki-inspired alternative to determining the top 10 CKD research priorities, and to evaluate stakeholder engagement and satisfaction with each process.
Methods
Eligible participants included adults ≥18 years with access to a computer and Internet, high health literacy, and from one of the following stakeholder groups: patients with CKD not on dialysis, their caregivers, health care providers who care for patients with CKD, or CKD-related health policymakers. Fifty-six participants were randomized to a wiki-inspired modified NGT that occurred over 3 weeks vs. a 1-day in-person NGT workshop, informed by James Lind Alliance methodology, to determine the top 10 CKD-related research priorities. The primary outcome was the pairwise agreement between the two groups’ final top 10 ranked priorities, evaluated using Spearman’s correlation coefficient. Secondary outcomes included participant engagement and satisfaction and wiki tool usability.
Results
Spearman’s rho for correlation between the two lists was 0.139 (95 % confidence interval −0.543 to 0.703, p = 0.71), suggesting low correlation between the top 10 lists across the two groups. Both groups ranked the same item as the top research priority, with 5 of the top 10 priorities ranked by the wiki group within the top 10 for the in-person group. In comparison to the in-person group, participants from the wiki group were less likely to report: satisfaction with the format (73.7 vs.100 %, p = 0.011); ability to express their views (57.9 vs 96.0 %, p = 0.0003); and perception that they contributed meaningfully to the process (68.4 vs 84.0 %, p = 0.004).
Conclusions
A CKD research prioritization approach using an online wiki-like tool identified low correlation in rankings compared with an in-person approach, with less satisfaction and perceptions of active engagement. Modifications to the wiki-inspired tool are required before it can be considered a potential alternative to an in-person workshop for engaging patients in determining research priorities.
Trial registration
(ISRCTN18248625)
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12911-016-0351-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12911-016-0351-y
PMCID: PMC4995639  PMID: 27553026
Chronic kidney disease; Research priorities; Patient preferences; Wiki
3.  Development and implementation of an online clinical pathway for adult chronic kidney disease in primary care: a mixed methods study 
Background
Primary care physicians and other primary health care professionals from Alberta, Canada identified a clinical pathway as a potential tool to facilitate uptake of clinical practice guidelines for the diagnosis, management and referral of adults with chronic kidney disease. We describe the development and implementation of a chronic kidney disease clinical pathway (CKD-CP; www.ckdpathway.ca).
Methods
The CKD-CP was developed and implemented based on the principles of the Knowledge-To-Action Cycle framework. We used a mixed methods approach to identify the usability and feasibility of the CKD-CP. This included individual interviews, an online survey and website analytics, to gather data on barriers and facilitators to use, perceived usefulness and characteristics of users. Results are reported using conventional qualitative content analysis and descriptive statistics.
Results
Eighteen individual interviews were conducted with primary care physicians, nephrologists, pharmacists and nurse practitioners to identify themes reflecting both barriers and facilitators to integrating the CKD-CP into clinical practice. Themes identified included: communication, work efficiency and confidence. Of the 159 participants that completed the online survey, the majority (52 %) were first time CKD-CP users. Among those who had previously used the CKD-CP, 94 % agreed or strongly agreed that the pathway was user friendly, provided useful information and increased their knowledge and confidence in the care of patients with CKD. Between November 2014 and July 2015, the CKD-CP website had 10,710 visits, 67 % of which were new visitors. The 3 most frequently visited web pages were home, diagnose and medical management. Canada, Indonesia and the United States were the top 3 countries accessing the website during the 9 month period.
Conclusions
An interactive, online, point-of-care tool for primary care providers can be developed and implemented to assist in the care of patients with CKD. Our findings are important for making refinements to the CKD –CP website via ongoing discussions with end-users and the development team, along with continued dissemination using multiple strategies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12911-016-0350-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12911-016-0350-z
PMCID: PMC4989366  PMID: 27535555
Chronic Kidney Disease; Clinical pathway; Point-of-care tool; Knowledge-To-Action Cycle; Primary care; Online
4.  Perceptions of pediatric nephrologists regarding timing of dialysis initiation in children in Canada 
Background
Significant practice variation exists in Canada with respect to timing of dialysis initiation in children. In the absence of evidence to guide practice, physicians’ perceptions may significantly influence decision-making.
Objective
The objectives of this study are to (1) evaluate Canadian pediatric nephrologists’ perceptions regarding dialysis initiation in children with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and (2) determine the factors guiding practice that may contribute to practice variation across Canada.
Design
This study was a cross-sectional online survey.
Setting
This study was done in academic pediatric nephrology centers in Canada.
Participants
The participants of this study are pediatric nephrologists.
Measurements and methods
An anonymous web-based survey was administered to pediatric nephrologists in Canada to evaluate perspectives and practice patterns regarding timing of dialysis initiation. We also explored the importance of estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) vs. symptoms and the role of patient and provider factors influencing decisions.
Results
Thirty-five nephrologists (59 %) completed the survey. Most respondents care for advanced CKD patients in a multidisciplinary clinic (86 %) and no centers have a formal policy on timing of dialysis initiation. Seventy-five percent of centers follow <20 stage 4–5 CKD patients, and 9 % follow >30 patients. Discussions about dialysis initiation are generally informal (75 %) and the decision to start is made by the nephrologist (37 %) or a team (57 %). Fifty percent agreed GFR was important when deciding when to initiate dialysis, 41 % were neutral, and 9 % disagreed. Variability exists in the threshold that nephrologists considered early (vs. late) dialysis initiation: >20 (21 %), >15 (38 %), >12 (26 %), and >10 ml/min/1.73 m2 (12 %). Practitioners however typically start dialysis in asymptomatic patients at eGFRs of 7–9 (9 %), 10–11 (41 %), 12–14 (38 %), and 15–19 (6 %) ml/min/1.73 m2. Patient factors important in the decision to start dialysis for >90 % of nephrologists were fatigue, >10 % weight loss, nausea, increasing missed school, and awaiting a pre-emptive transplant. Age was only a factor for 56 %.
Limitations
This study has a 59 % response rate.
Conclusions
Variability exists in Canada regarding the importance and threshold of eGFR guiding the decision as to when to start dialysis in children, whereas patient symptoms are almost universally important to pediatric nephrologists’ decision-making. Additional studies evaluating outcomes of children starting dialysis earlier vs. later are needed to standardize decision-making and care for children with kidney failure.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40697-016-0123-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s40697-016-0123-8
PMCID: PMC4929756  PMID: 27375851
5.  Development of a conceptual framework for understanding financial barriers to care among patients with cardiovascular-related chronic disease: a protocol for a qualitative (grounded theory) study 
CMAJ Open  2016;4(2):E304-E308.
Background:
Patients with cardiovascular-related chronic diseases may face financial barriers to accessing health care, even in Canada, where universal health care insurance is in place. No current theory or framework is adequate for understanding the impact of financial barriers to care on these patients or how they experience financial barriers. The overall objective of this study is to develop a framework for understanding the role of financial barriers to care in the lives of patients with cardiovascular-related chronic diseases and the impact of such barriers on their health.
Methods:
We will perform an inductive qualitative grounded theory study to develop a framework to understand the effect of financial barriers to care on patients with cardiovascular-related chronic diseases. We will use semistructured interviews (face-to-face and telephone) with a purposive sample of adult patients from Alberta with at least 1 of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease or stroke. We will analyze interview transcripts in triplicate using grounded theory coding techniques, including open, focused and axial coding, following the principle of constant comparison. Interviews and analysis will be done iteratively to theoretical saturation. Member checking will be used to enhance rigour.
Interpretation:
A comprehensive framework for understanding financial barriers to accessing health care is instrumental for both researchers and clinicians who care for patients with chronic diseases. Such a framework would enable a better understanding of patient behaviour and nonadherence to recommended medical therapies and lifestyle modifications.
doi:10.9778/cmajo.20160030
PMCID: PMC4933648  PMID: 27398378
6.  Establishing a Canadian national clinical trials network for kidney disease: proceedings of a planning workshop 
Knowledge generation through randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is critical to advance the medical evidence base, inform decision-making, and improve care and outcomes. Unfortunately, nephrology has typically lagged behind other medical specialties in this regard. The establishment of formal clinical trial networks can facilitate the successful conduct of RCTs and has significantly increased the number of RCTs performed worldwide in other medical specialties. No such formal network of nephrology trialists exists in Canada. On April 24, 2014, the Canadian Kidney Knowledge Translation and Generation Network (CANN-NET) Clinical Trials Committee held a stakeholder engagement meeting to address this gap and improve the nephrology clinical trial landscape in Canada. The meeting was held in Vancouver in association with the 2014 Canadian Society of Nephrology Annual General Meeting and was co-sponsored by the Kidney Foundation of Canada and CANN-NET. Attendees included nephrologists from university- and non-university-affiliated nephrology practices, administrators, and representatives from the Kidney Foundation of Canada. Through structured presentations and facilitated group discussions, the group explored the extent to which nephrology trials are currently happening in Canada, barriers to leading or participating in larger investigator-initiated trials, and strategies to improve clinical trial output in nephrology in Canada. The themes and action items arising from this meeting are discussed.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40697-015-0080-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s40697-015-0080-7
PMCID: PMC4650502  PMID: 26583070
7.  Patients with chronic kidney disease and their intent to use electronic personal health records 
Background
Electronic personal health records (ePHRs) provide patients with access to their personal health information, aiming to inform them about their health, enhance self-management, and improve outcomes. Although they have been associated with improved health outcomes in several chronic diseases, the potential impact of ePHR use in chronic kidney disease (CKD) is unknown.
Objectives
We sought to understand perceptions of CKD patients about ePHRs, and describe characteristics associated with their expressed intent to use an ePHR.
Design
Self-administered paper based survey.
Setting
The study was conducted in Calgary, Alberta, Canada at a multidisciplinary CKD clinic from November 2013 to January 2014.
Participants
Patients with non-dialysis-dependent CKD.
Measurements
Demographics, perceived benefits, and drawbacks of ePHRs were obtained. A univariate analysis was used to assess for an association with the expressed intention to use an ePHR.
Methods
A patient survey was used to determine perceptions of ePHRs, and to identify factors that were associated with intention to use an ePHR.
Results
Overall 63 patients with CKD (76.2 % male, 55.6 % ≥65 years old) completed the survey. The majority (69.8 %) expressed their intent to use an ePHR. CKD patients over the age of 65 were less likely to intend to use an ePHR as compared to those aged <65 years (OR 0.22, 95 % CI: [0.06, 0.78]). Those with post-secondary education (OR 3.31, 95 % CI: [1.06, 10.41]) and Internet access (OR 5.70, 95 % CI: [1.64, 19.81]) were more likely to express their intent to use an ePHR. Perceived benefits of ePHR use included greater involvement in their own care (50.0 % indicated this), better access to lab results (75.8 %), and access to health information (56.5 %). Although 41.9 % reported concerns about privacy of health information, there was no association between these concerns and the intent to use an ePHR.
Limitations
Our results are limited by small study size and single centre location.
Conclusions
We found that patients with CKD expressed their intention to use ePHRs, and perceive benefits such as personal involvement in their health care and better access to lab results. Studies of CKD patients using ePHRs are needed to determine whether ePHR use improves patient outcomes.
doi:10.1186/s40697-015-0058-5
PMCID: PMC4465011  PMID: 26075082
Personal health record; Electronic personal health record; PHR; ePHR; Chronic kidney disease; Patient-centered care
8.  Methods for identifying 30 chronic conditions: application to administrative data 
Background
Multimorbidity is common and associated with poor clinical outcomes and high health care costs. Administrative data are a promising tool for studying the epidemiology of multimorbidity. Our goal was to derive and apply a new scheme for using administrative data to identify the presence of chronic conditions and multimorbidity.
Methods
We identified validated algorithms that use ICD-9 CM/ICD-10 data to ascertain the presence or absence of 40 morbidities. Algorithms with both positive predictive value and sensitivity ≥70% were graded as “high validity”; those with positive predictive value ≥70% and sensitivity <70% were graded as “moderate validity”. To show proof of concept, we applied identified algorithms with high to moderate validity to inpatient and outpatient claims and utilization data from 574,409 people residing in Edmonton, Canada during the 2008/2009 fiscal year.
Results
Of the 40 morbidities, we identified 30 that could be identified with high to moderate validity. Approximately one quarter of participants had identified multimorbidity (2 or more conditions), one quarter had a single identified morbidity and the remaining participants were not identified as having any of the 30 morbidities.
Conclusions
We identified a panel of 30 chronic conditions that can be identified from administrative data using validated algorithms, facilitating the study and surveillance of multimorbidity. We encourage other groups to use this scheme, to facilitate comparisons between settings and jurisdictions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12911-015-0155-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12911-015-0155-5
PMCID: PMC4415341  PMID: 25886580
Multimorbidity; Administrative data
9.  Trace element supplementation in hemodialysis patients: a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Nephrology  2015;16:52.
Background
People with kidney failure are often deficient in zinc and selenium, but little is known about the optimal way to correct such deficiency.
Methods
We did a double-blind randomized trial evaluating the effects of zinc (Zn), selenium (Se) and vitamin E added to the standard oral renal vitamin supplement (B and C vitamins) among hemodialysis patients in Alberta, Canada. We evaluated the effect of two daily doses of the new supplement (medium dose: 50 mg Zn, 75 mcg Se, 250 IU vitamin E; low dose: 25 mg Zn, 50 mcg Se, 250 IU vitamin E) compared to the standard supplement on blood concentrations of Se and Zn at 90 days (primary outcome) and 180 days (secondary outcome) as well as safety outcomes.
Results
We enrolled 150 participants. The proportion of participants with low zinc status (blood level <815 ug/L) did not differ between the control group and the two intervention groups at 90 days (control 23.9% vs combined intervention groups 23.9%, P > 0.99) or 180 days (18.6% vs 28.2%, P = 0.24). The proportion with low selenium status (blood level <121 ug/L) was similar for controls and the combined intervention groups at 90 days (32.6 vs 19.6%, P = 0.09) and 180 days (34.9% vs 23.5%, P = 0.17). There were no significant differences in the risk of adverse events between the groups.
Conclusions
Supplementation with low or medium doses of zinc and selenium did not correct low zinc or selenium status in hemodialysis patients. Future studies should consider higher doses of zinc (≥75 mg/d) and selenium (≥100 mcg/d) with the standard supplement.
Trial registration
Registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01473914)
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12882-015-0042-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12882-015-0042-4
PMCID: PMC4409771  PMID: 25884981
Hemodialysis; Selenium; Zinc
10.  A modified Delphi process to identify process of care indicators for the identification, prevention and management of acute kidney injury after major surgery 
Background
The outcomes of acute kidney injury (AKI) are well appreciated. However, valid indicators of high quality processes of care for AKI after major surgery are lacking.
Objectives
To identify indicators of high quality processes of care related to AKI prevention, identification, and management after major surgery.
Design
A three stage modified Delphi process.
Setting
The study was conducted in Alberta, Canada using an online format.
Participants
A panel of care providers from surgery, critical care, and nephrology.
Measurements
The degree of validity of candidate indicators were rated by panelists on a 7-point Likert scale that ranged from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”.
Methods
A focused literature review was performed to identify candidate indicators. A modified Delphi process, with three rounds, was used to obtain expert consensus on the validity of potential process of care quality indicators.
Results
Thirty-three physicians participated (6 from surgery, 10 from critical care, and 17 from nephrology). A list of 58 potential process of care quality indicators for AKI after surgery was generated including 28 indicators from the initial literature review and 30 indicators suggested by panelists. Following the third round of questioning, 40 process of care indicators were identified with a high level of agreement for face validity; 16 of these reached high consensus among all panelists.
Limitations
The consensus of panelists from Alberta, Canada may not be generalizable to other settings. The modified Delphi process did not focus on the feasibility of measuring these process indicators.
Conclusions
These indicators can be used to measure and improve the quality of care for AKI after major surgery.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40697-015-0047-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s40697-015-0047-8
PMCID: PMC4460967  PMID: 26060575
Acute kidney injury; Surgery; Quality indicators
11.  Hypoglycemia Associated With Hospitalization and Adverse Events in Older People 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(11):3585-3590.
OBJECTIVE
Little is known about the prognostic impact of hypoglycemia associated with hospitalization. We hypothesized that hospitalized hypoglycemia would be associated with increased long-term morbidity and mortality, irrespective of diabetes status.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We undertook a cohort study using linked administrative health care and laboratory databases in Alberta, Canada. From 1 January 2004 to 31 March 2009, we included all outpatients 66 years of age and older who had at least one serum creatinine and one A1C measured. To examine the independent association between hospitalized hypoglycemia and all-cause mortality, we used time-varying Cox proportional hazards (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR]), and for all-cause hospitalizations, we used Poisson regression (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR]).
RESULTS
The cohort included 85,810 patients: mean age 75 years, 51% female, and 50% had diabetes defined by administrative data. Overall, 440 patients (0.5%) had severe hypoglycemia associated with hospitalization and most (93%) had diabetes. During 4 years of follow-up, 16,320 (19%) patients died. Hospitalized hypoglycemia was independently associated with increased mortality (60 vs. 19% mortality for no hypoglycemia; aHR 2.55 [95% CI 2.25–2.88]), and this increased in a dose-dependent manner (aHR no hypoglycemia = 1.0 vs. one episode = 2.49 vs. one or more = 3.78, P trend <0.001). Hospitalized hypoglycemia was also independently associated with subsequent hospitalizations (aIRR no hypoglycemia = 1.0 vs. one episode = 1.90 vs. one or more = 2.61, P trend <0.001) and recurrent hypoglycemia (aHR no hypoglycemia = 1.0 vs. one episode = 2.45 vs. one or more = 9.66, P trend <0.001).
CONCLUSIONS
Older people who have an episode of hospitalized hypoglycemia are easily identified and at substantially increased risk of morbidity and mortality.
doi:10.2337/dc13-0523
PMCID: PMC3816904  PMID: 24089536
12.  Age modification of diabetes-related hospitalization among First Nations adults in Alberta, Canada 
Background
We sought to determine the modifying effects of age and multimorbidity on the association between First Nations status and hospitalizations for diabetes-specific ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSC).
Findings
We identified 183,654 adults with diabetes from Alberta Canada, and followed them for one year for the outcome of hospitalization or emergency department (ED) visit for a diabetes-specific ACSC. We used logistic regression to determine the association between First Nations status and the outcome, assessing for effect modification by age and multimorbidity with interaction terms. In a model adjusting for age, age2, baseline A1c, duration of diabetes, and multimorbidity, First Nations people were at greater risk than non-First Nations to experience a diabetes-specific hospitalization or ED visit (unadjusted odds ratio [OR] 3.74; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.45-4.07). After adjustment for relevant covariates, this association varied by age (interaction: p = 0.018): adjusted OR 3.94 (95% CI: 3.11-4.99) and 5.74 (95% CI: 3.36-9.80) for First Nations compared to non-First Nations at ages 30 and 80 years, respectively.
Conclusions
Compared with non-First Nations, older First Nations patients with diabetes are at greater risk for diabetes-specific hospitalizations. Older First Nations patients with diabetes should be given priority access to primary care services as they are at greatest risk for requiring hospitalization for stabilization of their condition.
doi:10.1186/1758-5996-6-108
PMCID: PMC4192759  PMID: 25309626
American indian; First Nations; Hospitalization; Diabetes mellitus; Risk adjustment
13.  Short‐Term Change in eGFR and Risk of Cardiovascular Events 
Background
Lower estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) on a single occasion is associated with risk of cardiovascular events; whether the degree of change in eGFR during a 1‐year period adds prognostic information is unknown.
Methods and Results
We included adults who had ≥2 outpatient eGFR measurements (≥6 months apart) during a 1‐year accrual period in Alberta, Canada. According to recent guidelines, we used a change in eGFR category (≥90, 60 to 89, 45 to 59, 30 to 44, 15 to 29, and <15 mL/min per 1.73 m2), and the presence/absence of a ≥25% change from baseline to classify participants into 5 groups: certain drop, uncertain drop, stable (no change), uncertain rise, and certain rise. We calculated adjusted rates of cardiovascular events (per 10 000 person‐years) for each group. We estimated the adjusted risks of cardiovascular events associated with each category of change in eGFR, in reference to stable kidney function. Among the 526 388 participants, 76.1% (n=400 560) had stable, 2.6% (n=13 668) had a certain drop, and 3.3% (n=17 499) had a certain rise in eGFR. Compared with participants with stable kidney function, adjusted risks of myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke were 27%, 51%, and 20% higher, respectively, for those with a certain drop in kidney function. After adjusting for the last eGFR at the end of the accrual period, the observed association diminished.
Conclusion
Clinically relevant changes in eGFR are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events. However, most of the apparent increase in risk can be accounted for by assessing comorbidity and baseline kidney function.
doi:10.1161/JAHA.114.000997
PMCID: PMC4323783  PMID: 25213565
Canada; cardiovascular diseases; clinical epidemiology; kidney function; short‐term change
14.  Improving prevention, early recognition and management of acute kidney injury after major surgery: results of a planning meeting with multidisciplinary stakeholders 
Purpose of review
Acute kidney injury (AKI) is common after major surgery, and is associated with morbidity, mortality, increased length of hospital stay, and high health care costs. Although recent guidelines for AKI provide recommendations for identification of patients at risk, monitoring, diagnosis, and management of AKI, there is lack of understanding to guide successful implementation of these recommendations into clinical practice.
Sources of information
We held a planning meeting with multidisciplinary stakeholders to identify barriers, facilitators, and strategies to implement recommendations for prevention, early identification, and management of AKI after major surgery. Barriers and facilitators to knowledge use for peri-operative AKI prevention and care were discussed.
Findings
Stakeholders identified barriers in knowledge (how to identify high-risk patients, what criteria to use for diagnosis of AKI), attitudes (self-efficacy in preventive care and management of AKI), and behaviors (common use of diuretics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, withholding of intravenous fluids, and competing time demands in peri-operative care). Educational, informatics, and organizational interventions were identified by stakeholders as potentially useful elements for future interventions for peri-operative AKI.
Limitation
Meeting participants were from a single centre.
Implications
The information and recommendations obtained from this stakeholder’s meeting will be useful to design interventions to improve prevention and early care for AKI after major surgery.
doi:10.1186/s40697-014-0020-y
PMCID: PMC4424428  PMID: 25960886
15.  A population-based study on care and clinical outcomes in remote dwellers with heavy proteinuria 
Kidney International Supplements  2013;3(2):254-258.
Patients with proteinuria are at high risk of cardiovascular and renal complications. Since this risk can be reduced by appropriate interventions, we hypothesized that remote dwellers, who are known to have lower access to health care, might have a higher risk of complications. Using a database of all adults with at least one measure of urine protein between May 2002 and March 2009, we examined the frequency of heavy proteinuria, quality of care delivery, and rates of adverse clinical outcomes across travel distance categories to the nearest nephrologist. Heavy proteinuria was defined by an albumin:creatinine ratio ⩾60 mg/mmol, protein:creatinine ratio ⩾100 mg/mmol, or protein ⩾2+ on dipstick urinalysis. Of 1,359,330 subjects in the study, 262,209 were remote dwellers. The overall prevalence of proteinuria was 2.3%, 2.9%, and 2.5% in those who live >200, 100.1–200, and 50.1–100 km, respectively, as compared to 1.5% in those who live within 50 km of the nearest nephrologist (P<0.001). Similarly, the prevalence of heavy proteinuria was increased among remote dwellers compared to urban dwellers (P=0.001 for trend). There were no differences in markers of good-quality care or the rate of adverse outcomes (all-cause mortality, heart failure, and renal outcomes) across distance categories. However, the rates of hospitalizations and stroke were significantly higher with increased distance from the nearest nephrologist (P<0.001and 0.02, respectively). In conclusion, heavy proteinuria was common in Alberta residents, especially in remote dwellers. Care seemed similar across distance categories of travel, but with higher risk of hospitalizations and stroke among remote dwellers. Further work is needed to understand the basis for the increased risk of hospitalizations and stroke.
doi:10.1038/kisup.2013.26
PMCID: PMC4089650  PMID: 25018993
adverse clinical outcomes; population; proteinuria; quality of care; remote dwellers
16.  Health Care Costs in People With Diabetes and Their Association With Glycemic Control and Kidney Function 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(5):1172-1180.
OBJECTIVE
To determine the association between laboratory-derived measures of glycemic control (HbA1c) and the presence of renal complications (measured by proteinuria and estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR]) with the 5-year costs of caring for people with diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We estimated the cumulative 5-year cost of caring for people with diabetes using a province-wide cohort of adults with diabetes as of 1 May 2004. Costs included physician visits, hospitalizations, ambulatory care (emergency room visits, day surgery, and day medicine), and drug costs for people >65 years of age. Using linked laboratory and administrative clinical and costing data, we determined the association between baseline glycemic control (HbA1c), proteinuria, and kidney function (eGFR) and 5-year costs, controlling for age, socioeconomic status, duration of diabetes, and comorbid illness.
RESULTS
We identified 138,662 adults with diabetes. The mean 5-year cost of diabetes in the overall cohort was $26,978 per patient, excluding drug costs. The mean 5-year cost for the subset of people >65 years of age, including drug costs, was $44,511 (Canadian dollars). Cost increased with worsening kidney function, presence of proteinuria, and suboptimal glycemic control (HbA1c >7.9%). Increasing age, Aboriginal status, socioeconomic status, duration of diabetes, and comorbid illness were also associated with increasing cost.
CONCLUSIONS
The cost of caring for people with diabetes is substantial and is associated with suboptimal glycemic control, abnormal kidney function, and proteinuria. Future studies should assess if improvements in the management of diabetes, assessed with laboratory-derived measurements, result in cost reductions.
doi:10.2337/dc12-0862
PMCID: PMC3631826  PMID: 23238665
17.  The Association of Income with Health Behavior Change and Disease Monitoring among Patients with Chronic Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94007.
Background
Management of chronic diseases requires patients to adhere to recommended health behavior change and complete tests for monitoring. While studies have shown an association between low income and lack of adherence, the reasons why people with low income may be less likely to adhere are unclear. We sought to determine the association between household income and receipt of health behavior change advice, adherence to advice, receipt of recommended monitoring tests, and self-reported reasons for non-adherence/non-receipt.
Methods
We conducted a population-weighted survey, with 1849 respondents with cardiovascular-related chronic diseases (heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke) from Western Canada (n = 1849). We used log-binomial regression to examine the association between household income and the outcome variables of interest: receipt of advice for and adherence to health behavior change (sodium reduction, dietary improvement, increased physical activity, smoking cessation, weight loss), reasons for non-adherence, receipt of recommended monitoring tests (cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure), and reasons for non-receipt of tests.
Results
Behavior change advice was received equally by both low and high income respondents. Low income respondents were more likely than those with high income to not adhere to recommendations regarding smoking cessation (adjusted prevalence rate ratio (PRR): 1.55, 95%CI: 1.09–2.20), and more likely to not receive measurements of blood cholesterol (PRR: 1.72, 95%CI 1.24–2.40) or glucose (PRR: 1.80, 95%CI: 1.26–2.58). Those with low income were less likely to state that non-adherence/non-receipt was due to personal choice, and more likely to state that it was due to an extrinsic factor, such as cost or lack of accessibility.
Conclusions
There are important income-related differences in the patterns of health behavior change and disease monitoring, as well as reasons for non-adherence or non-receipt. Among those with low income, adherence to health behavior change and monitoring may be improved by addressing modifiable barriers such as cost and access.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094007
PMCID: PMC3983092  PMID: 24722618
18.  An assessment of dialysis provider’s attitudes towards timing of dialysis initiation in Canada 
Background
Physicians’ perceptions and opinions may influence when to initiate dialysis.
Objective
To examine providers’ perspectives and opinions regarding the timing of dialysis initiation.
Design
Online survey.
Setting
Community and academic dialysis practices in Canada.
Participants
A nationally-representative sample of dialysis providers.
Measurements and Methods
Dialysis providers opinions assessing reasons to initiate dialysis at low or high eGFR. Responses were obtained using a 9-point Likert scale. Early dialysis was defined as initiation of dialysis in an individual with an eGFR greater than or equal to 10.5 ml/min/m2. A detailed survey was emailed to all members of the Canadian Society of Nephrology (CSN) in February 2013. The survey was designed and pre-tested to evaluate duration and ease of administration.
Results
One hundred and forty one (25% response rate) physicians participated in the survey. The majority were from urban, academic centres and practiced in regionally administered renal programs. Very few respondents had a formal policy regarding the timing of dialysis initiation or formally reviewed new dialysis starts (N = 4, 3.1%). The majority of respondents were either neutral or disagreed that late compared to early dialysis initiation improved outcomes (85-88%), had a negative impact on quality of life (89%), worsened AVF or PD use (84-90%), led to sicker patients (83%) or was cost effective (61%). Fifty-seven percent of respondents felt uremic symptoms occurred earlier in patients with advancing age or co-morbid illness. Half (51.8%) of the respondents felt there was an absolute eGFR at which they would initiate dialysis in an asymptomatic patient. The majority of respondents would initiate dialysis for classic indications for dialysis, such as volume overload (90.1%) and cachexia (83.7%) however a significant number chose other factors that may lead them to early dialysis initiation including avoiding an emergency (28.4%), patient preference (21.3%) and non-compliance (8.5%).
Limitations
25% response rate.
Conclusions
Although the majority of nephrologists in Canada who responded followed evidence-based practice regarding the timing of dialysis initiation, knowledge gaps and areas of clinical uncertainty exist. The implementation and evaluation of formal policies and knowledge translation activities may limit potentially unnecessary early dialysis initiation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2054-3581-1-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/2054-3581-1-3
PMCID: PMC4346295  PMID: 25780598
19.  Association between Drug Insurance Cost Sharing Strategies and Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Diseases: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e89168.
Background
Prescription drugs are used in people with hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease to manage their illness. Patient cost sharing strategies such as copayments and deductibles are often employed to lower expenditures for prescription drug insurance plans, but the impact on health outcomes in these patients is unclear.
Objective
To determine the association between drug insurance and patient cost sharing strategies on medication adherence, clinical and economic outcomes in those with chronic diseases (defined herein as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease).
Methods
Studies were included if they examined various cost sharing strategies including copayments, coinsurance, fixed copayments, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket expenditures. Value-based insurance design and reference based pricing studies were excluded. Two reviewers independently identified original intervention studies (randomized controlled trials, interrupted time series, and controlled before-after designs). MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and relevant reference lists were searched until March 2013. Two reviewers independently assessed studies for inclusion, quality, and extracted data. Eleven studies, assessing the impact of seven policy changes, were included: 2 separate reports of one randomized controlled trial, 4 interrupted time series, and 5 controlled before-after studies.
Findings
Outcomes included medication adherence, clinical events (myocardial infarction, stroke, death), quality of life, healthcare utilization, or cost. The heterogeneity among the studies precluded meta-analysis. Few studies reported the impact of cost sharing strategies on mortality, clinical and economic outcomes. The association between patient copayments and medication adherence varied across studies, ranging from no difference to significantly lower adherence, depending on the amount of the copayment.
Conclusion
Lowering cost sharing in patients with chronic diseases may improve adherence, but the impact on clinical and economic outcomes is uncertain.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089168
PMCID: PMC3965394  PMID: 24667163
20.  Access to primary care and other health care use among western Canadians with chronic conditions: a population-based survey 
CMAJ Open  2014;2(1):E27-E34.
Background
For adults with chronic conditions, access to primary care, including multidisciplinary care, is associated with better outcomes. Few studies have assessed barriers to such care. We sought to describe barriers to primary care, including care from allied health professionals, for adults with chronic conditions.
Methods
We surveyed western Canadians aged 40 years or older who had hypertension, diabetes, heart disease or stroke about access to primary care and other use of health care. Using log binomial regression, we determined the association between sociodemographic variables and several indicators of access to primary care and care from allied health professionals.
Results
Of the 2316 people who were approached, 1849 (79.8%) completed the survey. Most of the respondents (95.1%) had a regular medical doctor, but two-thirds (68.1%) did not have after-hours access. Only 6.1% indicated that allied health professionals were involved in their care, although most respondents (87.3%) indicated they would be willing to see a nurse practitioner if their primary care physician was not available. Respondents who were obese or less than 65 years of age were less likely to have a regular medical doctor. Individuals who had diabetes, lived in a rural area, were residents of Alberta or had poorer health were more likely to have allied health professionals involved in their care.
Interpretation
The survey results identified barriers to accessing primary care for people with chronic conditions. Opportunities for improving access to primary care may include greater involvement by allied health professionals, such as nurse practitioners.
doi:10.9778/cmajo.20130045
PMCID: PMC3985957  PMID: 25077122
21.  Renal outcomes associated with invasive versus conservative management of acute coronary syndrome: propensity matched cohort study 
The BMJ  2013;347:f4151.
Objectives To examine the association of early invasive management of acute coronary syndrome with adverse renal outcomes and survival, and to determine whether the risks or benefits of early invasive management differ in people with pre-existing chronic kidney disease.
Design Propensity score matched cohort study.
Setting Acute care hospitals in Alberta, Canada, 2004-09.
Participants 10 516 adults with non-ST elevation acute coronary syndrome.
Interventions Participants were stratified by baseline estimated glomerular filtration rate and matched 1:1 on their propensity score for early invasive management (coronary catheterisation within two days of hospital admission).
Main outcome measures Risks of acute kidney injury, kidney injury requiring dialysis, progression to end stage renal disease, and all cause mortality were compared between those who received early invasive treatment versus conservative treatment.
Results Of 10 516 included participants, 4276 (40.7%) received early invasive management. After using propensity score methods to assemble a matched cohort of conservative management participants with characteristics similar to those who received early invasive management (n=6768), early invasive management was associated with an increased risk of acute kidney injury (10.3% v 8.7%, risk ratio 1.18, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.36; P=0.019), but no difference in the risk of acute kidney injury requiring dialysis (0.4% v 0.3%, 1.20, 0.52 to 2.78; P=0.670). Over a median follow-up of 2.5 years, the risk of progression to end stage renal disease did not differ between the groups (0.3 v 0.4 events per 100 person years, hazard ratio 0.91, 95% confidence interval 0.55 to 1.49; P=0.712); however, early invasive management was associated with reduced long term mortality (2.4 v 3.4 events per 100 person years, 0.69, 0.58 to 0.82; P<0.001). These associations were consistent among people with pre-existing reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate and with alternate definitions for early invasive management.
Conclusions Compared with conservative management, early invasive management of acute coronary syndrome is associated with a small increase in risk of acute kidney injury but not dialysis or long term progression to end stage renal disease.
doi:10.1136/bmj.f4151
PMCID: PMC3702156  PMID: 23833076
22.  Correction: Colorectal Cancer Screening for Average-Risk North Americans: An Economic Evaluation 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(11):10.1371/annotation/0fd49c83-2c6d-42b5-a8c1-45a0aaedaa77.
doi:10.1371/annotation/0fd49c83-2c6d-42b5-a8c1-45a0aaedaa77
PMCID: PMC3559911
23.  Enrolment in primary care networks: impact on outcomes and processes of care for patients with diabetes 
Background:
Primary care networks are a newer model of primary care that focuses on improved access to care and the use of multidisciplinary teams for patients with chronic disease. We sought to determine the association between enrolment in primary care networks and the care and outcomes of patients with diabetes.
Methods:
We used administrative health care data to study the care and outcomes of patients with incident and prevalent diabetes separately. For patients with prevalent diabetes, we compared those whose care was managed by physicians who were or were not in a primary care network using propensity score matching. For patients with incident diabetes, we studied a cohort before and after primary care networks were established. Each cohort was further divided based on whether or not patients were cared for by physicians enrolled in a network. Our primary outcome was admissions to hospital or visits to emergency departments for ambulatory care sensitive conditions specific to diabetes.
Results:
Compared with patients whose prevalent diabetes is managed outside of primary care networks, patients in primary care networks had a lower rate of diabetes-specific ambulatory care sensitive conditions (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.75 to 0.87), were more likely to see an ophthalmologist or optometrist (risk ratio 1.19, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.21) and had better glycemic control (adjusted mean difference −0.067, 95% CI −0.081 to −0.052).
Interpretation:
Patients whose diabetes was managed in primary care networks received better care and had better clinical outcomes than patients whose condition was not managed in a network, although the differences were very small.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.110755
PMCID: PMC3273535  PMID: 22143232
24.  Economic evaluation of increasing population rates of cardiac catheterization 
Background
Increasing population rates of cardiac catheterization can lead to the detection of more people with high risk coronary disease and opportunity for subsequent revascularization. However, such a strategy should only be undertaken if it is cost-effective.
Methods
Based on data from a cohort of patients undergoing cardiac catheterization, and efficacy data from clinical trials, we used a Markov model that considered 1) the yield of high-risk cases as the catheterization rate increases, 2) the long-term survival, quality of life and costs for patients with high risk disease, and 3) the impact of revascularization on survival, quality of life and costs. The cost per quality-adjusted life year was calculated overall, and by indication, age, and sex subgroups.
Results
Increasing the catheterization rate was associated with a cost per QALY of CAN$26,470. The cost per QALY was most attractive in females with Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) ($20,320 per QALY gained), and for ACS patients over 75 years of age ($16,538 per QALY gained). However, there is significant model uncertainty associated with the efficacy of revascularization.
Conclusion
A strategy of increasing cardiac catheterization rates among eligible patients is associated with a cost per QALY similar to that of other funded interventions. However, there is significant model uncertainty. A decision to increase population rates of catheterization requires consideration of the accompanying opportunity costs, and careful thought towards the most appropriate strategy.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-324
PMCID: PMC3250945  PMID: 22115423
25.  A multi-region assessment of population rates of cardiac catheterization and yield of high-risk coronary artery disease 
Background
There is variation in cardiac catheterization utilization across jurisdictions. Previous work from Alberta, Canada, showed no evidence of a plateau in the yield of high-risk disease at cardiac catheterization rates as high as 600 per 100,000 population suggesting that the optimal rate is higher. This work aims 1) To determine if a previously demonstrated linear relationship between the yield of high-risk coronary disease and cardiac catheterization rates persists with contemporary data and 2) to explore whether the linear relationship exists in other jurisdictions.
Methods
Detailed clinical information on all patients undergoing cardiac catheterization in 3 Canadian provinces was available through the Alberta Provincial Project for Outcomes Assessment in Coronary Heart (APPROACH) disease and partner initiatives in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Population rates of catheterization and high-risk coronary disease detection for each health region in these three provinces, and age-adjusted rates produced using direct standardization. A mixed effects regression analysis was performed to assess the relationship between catheterization rate and high-risk coronary disease detection.
Results
In the contemporary Alberta data, we found a linear relationship between the population catheterization rate and the high-risk yield. Although the yield was slightly less in time period 2 (2002-2006) than in time period 1(1995-2001), there was no statistical evidence of a plateau. The linear relationship between catheterization rate and high-risk yield was similarly demonstrated in British Columbia and Nova Scotia and appears to extend, without a plateau in yield, to rates over 800 procedures per 100,000 population.
Conclusions
Our study demonstrates a consistent finding, over time and across jurisdictions, of linearly increasing detection of high-risk CAD as population rates of cardiac catheterization increase. This internationally-relevant finding can inform country-level planning of invasive cardiac care services.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-323
PMCID: PMC3252261  PMID: 22115358

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