Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer in Scotland and is usually advanced at diagnosis. Median time between symptom onset and consultation is 14 weeks, so an intervention to prompt earlier presentation could support earlier diagnosis and enable curative treatment in more cases.
To develop and optimise an intervention to reduce the time between onset and first consultation with symptoms that might indicate lung cancer.
Design and setting
Iterative development of complex healthcare intervention according to the MRC Framework conducted in Northeast Scotland.
The study produced a complex intervention to promote early presentation of lung cancer symptoms. An expert multidisciplinary group developed the first draft of the intervention based on theory and existing evidence. This was refined following focus groups with health professionals and high-risk patients.
First draft intervention components included: information communicated persuasively, demonstrations of early consultation and its benefits, behaviour change techniques, and involvement of spouses/partners. Focus groups identified patient engagement, achieving behavioural change, and conflict at the patient–general practice interface as challenges and measures were incorporated to tackle these. Final intervention delivery included a detailed self-help manual and extended consultation with a trained research nurse at which specific action plans were devised.
The study has developed an intervention that appeals to patients and health professionals and has theoretical potential for benefit. Now it requires evaluation.
early diagnosis; health services research; lung cancer; primary health care
To investigate the association between multimorbidity and Preference_Weighted Health Related Quality of Life (PW_HRQoL), a score that combines physical and mental functioning, and how this varies by socioeconomic deprivation and age.
The Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) is a cross-sectional representative survey of the general population which included the SF-12, a survey of HRQoL, for individuals 20 years and over.
For 7,054 participants we generated PW_HRQoL scores by running SF-12 responses through the SF-6D algorithm. The resulting scores ranged from 0.29 (worst health) to 1 (perfect health). Using ordinary least squares, we first investigated associations between scores and increasing counts of longstanding conditions, and then repeated for multimorbidity (2+ conditions). Estimates were made for the general population and quintiles of socioeconomic deprivation. For multimorbidity, the analyses were repeated stratifying the population by age group (20–44, 45–64, 65+).
45% of participants reported a longstanding condition and 18% reported multimorbidity. The presence of 1, 2, or 3+ longstanding conditions were associated with average reductions in PW_HRQoL scores of 0.081, 0.151 and 0.212 respectively. Reduction in scores associated with multimorbidity was 33% greater in the most deprived quintile compared to the least deprived quintile, with the biggest difference (80%) in the 20–44 age groups. There were no significant gender differences.
PW_HRQoL decreases markedly with multimorbidity, and is exacerbated by higher deprivation and younger age. There is a need to prioritise interventions to improve the HRQoL for (especially younger) adults with multimorbidity in deprived areas.
What Is Known?
Prevalence and premature onset of multimorbidity increases as socioeconomic position worsens. Previous studies have investigated the effect of multimorbidity on Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) on separate physical and mental health states. There is limited data on how HRQoL falls as the number of conditions increase, and how estimates vary across the general population.
Leaving physical and mental health as separate categories can inhibit assessment of overall HRQoL. The use of a Preference_Weighted Health Related Quality of Life (PW_HRQoL) score provides a single summary measure of overall health, by weighting mental and physical states by their perceived importance as part of overall HRQoL. The use of a single score enables a simple and consistent assessment of the impact of conditions and how this varies across the population. Economists term PW_HRQoL scores health utilities.
What this study adds?
This is the first study to estimate how the impact of multimorbidity on PW_HRQoL scores varies by age group and socioeconomic deprivation. Multimorbidity has a substantial negative impact on HRQoL which is most severe in areas of deprivation, especially in younger adults.
Measuring the burden of multimorbidity using PW_HRQoL provides consistency with how economists measure HRQoL; changes in which can be used in economic evaluation to assess the cost effectiveness of interventions.
Multimorbidity; Preference_Weighted Health Related Quality of Life (PW_HRQoL); Deprivation; Inequality
Despite the availability of evidence-based guidelines for managing allergic rhinitis in primary care, management of the condition in the United Kingdom (UK) remains sub-optimal. Its high prevalence and negative effects on quality of life, school performance, productivity and co-morbid respiratory conditions (in particular, asthma), and high health and societal costs, make this a priority for developing novel models of care. Recent Australian research demonstrated the potential of a community pharmacy-based ‘goal-focused’ intervention to help people with intermittent allergic rhinitis to self-manage their condition better, reduce symptom severity and improve quality of life. In this pilot study we will assess the transferability of the goal-focused intervention to a UK context, the suitability of the intervention materials, procedures and outcome measures and collect data to inform a future definitive UK randomized controlled trial (RCT).
A pilot cluster RCT with associated preliminary economic analysis and embedded qualitative evaluation. The pilot trial will take place in two Scottish Health Board areas: Grampian and Greater Glasgow & Clyde. Twelve community pharmacies will be randomly assigned to intervention or usual care group. Each will recruit 12 customers seeking advice or treatment for intermittent allergic rhinitis. Pharmacy staff in intervention pharmacies will support recruited customers in developing strategies for setting and achieving goals that aim to avoid/minimize triggers for, and eliminate/minimize symptoms of allergic rhinitis. Customers recruited in non-intervention pharmacies will receive usual care. The co-primary outcome measures, selected to inform a sample size calculation for a future RCT, are: community pharmacy and customer recruitment and completion rates; and effect size of change in the validated mini-Rhinoconjunctivitis Quality of Life Questionnaire between baseline, one-week and six-weeks post-intervention. Secondary outcome measures relate to changes in symptom severity, productivity, medication adherence and self-efficacy. Quantitative data about accrual, retention and economic measures, and qualitative data about participants’ experiences during the trial will be collected to inform the future RCT.
This work will lay the foundations for a definitive RCT of a community pharmacy-based ‘goal-focused’ self-management intervention for people with intermittent allergic rhinitis. Results of the pilot trial are expected to be available in April 2013.
Current Controlled Trials
Respiratory; Allergy; Community pharmacy; Self-care
The use of the Internet for peer-to-peer connection has been one of its most dramatic and transformational features. Yet this is a new field with no agreement on a theoretical and methodological basis. The scientific base underpinning this activity needs strengthening, especially given the explosion of web resources that feature experiences posted by patients themselves. This review informs a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (UK) research program on the impact of online patients’ accounts of their experiences with health and health care, which includes the development and validation of a new e-health impact questionnaire.
We drew on realist review methods to conduct a conceptual review of literature in the social and health sciences. We developed a matrix to summarize the results, which we then distilled from a wide and diverse reading of the literature. We continued reading until we reached data saturation and then further refined the results after testing them with expert colleagues and a public user panel.
We identified seven domains through which online patients’ experiences could affect health. Each has the potential for positive and negative impacts. Five of the identified domains (finding information, feeling supported, maintaining relationships with others, affecting behavior, and experiencing health services) are relatively well rehearsed, while two (learning to tell the story and visualizing disease) are less acknowledged but important features of online resources.
The value of first-person accounts, the appeal and memorability of stories, and the need to make contact with peers all strongly suggest that reading and hearing others’ accounts of their own experiences of health and illnesss will remain a key feature of e-health. The act of participating in the creation of health information (e.g., through blogging and contributing to social networking on health topics) also influences patients’ experiences and has implications for our understanding of their role in their own health care management and information.
e-health; review; theory; patients' experiences
Goal setting is considered ‘best practice’ in stroke rehabilitation; however, there is no consensus regarding the key components of goal setting interventions or how they should be optimally delivered in practice. We developed a theory-based goal setting and action planning framework (G-AP) to guide goal setting practice. G-AP has 4 stages: goal negotiation, goal setting, action planning & coping planning and appraisal & feedback. All stages are recorded in a patient-held record. In this study we examined the implementation, acceptability and perceived benefits of G-AP in one community rehabilitation team with people recovering from stroke.
G-AP was implemented for 6 months with 23 stroke patients. In-depth interviews with 8 patients and 8 health professionals were analysed thematically to investigate views of its implementation, acceptability and perceived benefits. Case notes of interviewed patients were analysed descriptively to assess the fidelity of G-AP implementation.
G-AP was mostly implemented according to protocol with deviations noted at the planning and appraisal and feedback stages. Each stage was felt to make a useful contribution to the overall process; however, in practice, goal negotiation and goal setting merged into one stage and the appraisal and feedback stage included an explicit decision making component. Only two issues were raised regarding G-APs acceptability: (i) health professionals were concerned about the impact of goal non-attainment on patient’s well-being (patients did not share their concerns), and (ii) some patients and health professionals found the patient-held record unhelpful. G-AP was felt to have a positive impact on patient goal attainment and professional goal setting practice. Collaborative partnerships between health professionals and patients were apparent throughout the process.
G-AP has been perceived as both beneficial and broadly acceptable in one community rehabilitation team; however, implementation of novel aspects of the framework was inconsistent. The regulatory function of goal non-attainment and the importance of creating flexible partnerships with patients have been highlighted. Further development of the G-AP framework, training package and patient held record is required to address the specific issues highlighted by this process evaluation. Further evaluation of G-AP is required across diverse community rehabilitation settings.
Stroke rehabilitation; Goal setting; Process evaluation; Multi-disciplinary team
Primary care increasingly deals with patients with multimorbidity, but relevant evidence-based interventions are scarce. Knowledge about multimorbidity over time is required to inform the development of effective interventions.
This review identifies prospective cohort studies of multimorbidity in primary care to determine: their nature, scope and key findings; the methodologies used; and gaps in knowledge.
Studies were identified by searching electronic databases, reviewing citations, and writing to authors. Searches were limited to adult populations with no restrictions on publication date or language. In total, 996 articles were identified and screened.
Of the 996 articles, six detailing five completed prospective cohort studies were selected as appropriate. Three of the studies were undertaken in the US and two in The Netherlands; none was nationally representative. The main focus of the studies was: healthcare utilisation and/or costs (n = 3); patients' physical functioning (n = 1); and risk factors for developing multimorbidity (n = 1). The conditions that were included varied widely. The findings of these studies showed that multimorbidity increased healthcare costs (n = 2), inpatient admission (n = 1), death rates (n = 1), and service use (n = 3), and reduced physical functioning (n = 1). One study identified psychosocial risk factors for multimorbidity. No study used random sampling, sample sizes were relatively small (414–3745 patients at baseline), and study duration was relatively short (1–4 years). No study focused on prevalence, treatment use, patient safety, service models, cultural or socioeconomic factors, and patient experience, and no study collected qualitative data.
Few longitudinal studies based in primary care have investigated multimorbidity. Further large, long-term prospective studies are required to inform healthcare commissioning, planning, and delivery.
chronic disease; multimorbidity; primary care; review
The prevalence of obesity in men is rising, but they are less likely than women to engage in existing weight management programmes. The potential of professional sports club settings to engage men in health promotion activities is being increasingly recognised. This paper describes the development and optimization of the Football Fans in Training (FFIT) programme, which aims to help overweight men (many of them football supporters) lose weight through becoming more active and adopting healthier eating habits.
The MRC Framework for the design and evaluation of complex interventions was used to guide programme development in two phases. In Phase 1, a multidisciplinary working group developed the pilot programme (p-FFIT) and used a scoping review to summarize previous research and identify the target population. Phase 2 involved a process evaluation of p-FFIT in 11 Scottish Premier League (SPL) clubs. Participant and coach feedback, focus group discussions and interviews explored the utility/acceptability of programme components and suggestions for changes. Programme session observations identified examples of good practice and problems/issues with delivery. Together, these findings informed redevelopment of the optimized programme (FFIT), whose components were mapped onto specific behaviour change techniques using an evidence-based taxonomy.
p-FFIT comprised 12, weekly, gender-sensitised, group-based weight management classroom and ‘pitch-side’ physical activity sessions. These in-stadia sessions were complemented by an incremental, pedometer-based walking programme. p-FFIT was targeted at men aged 35-65 years with body mass index ≥ 27 kg/m2. Phase 2 demonstrated that participants in p-FFIT were enthusiastic about both the classroom and physical activity components, and valued the camaraderie and peer-support offered by the programme. Coaches appreciated the simplicity of the key healthy eating and physical activity messages. Suggestions for improvements that were incorporated into the optimized FFIT programme included: more varied in-stadia physical activity with football-related components; post-programme weight management support (emails and a reunion session); and additional training for coaches in SMART goal setting and the pedometer-based walking programme.
The Football Fans in Training programme is highly acceptable to participants and SPL coaches, and is appropriate for evaluation in a randomised controlled trial.
Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are intended to reflect outcomes relevant to patients. They are increasingly used for healthcare quality improvement. To produce valid measures, patients should be involved in the development process but it is unclear whether this usually includes people with low literacy skills or learning disabilities. This potential exclusion raises concerns about whether these groups will be able to use these measures and participate in quality improvement practices.
Taking PROMs for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as an exemplar condition, our review determined the inclusion of people with low literacy skills and learning disabilities in research developing, validating, and using 12 PROMs for COPD patients. The studies included in our review were based on those identified in two existing systematic reviews and our update of this search.
People with low literacy skills and/or learning disabilities were excluded from the development of PROMs in two ways: explicitly through the participant eligibility criteria and, more commonly, implicitly through recruitment or administration methods that would require high-level reading and cognitive abilities. None of the studies mentioned efforts to include people with low literacy skills or learning disabilities.
Our findings suggest that people with low literacy skills or learning disabilities are left out of the development of PROMs. Given that implicit exclusion was most common, researchers and those who administer PROMs may not even be aware of this problem. Without effort to improve inclusion, unequal quality improvement practices may become embedded in the health system.
Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) are self-report measures of health status increasingly promoted for use in healthcare quality improvement. However people with low literacy skills or learning disabilities may find PROMs hard to complete. Our study investigated stakeholder views on the accessibility and use of PROMs to develop suggestions for more inclusive practice.
Taking PROMs recommended for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as an example, we conducted 8 interviews with people with low literacy skills and/or learning disabilities, and 4 focus groups with 20 health professionals and people with COPD. Discussions covered the format and delivery of PROMs using the EQ-5D and St George Respiratory Questionnaire as prompts. Thematic framework analysis focused on three main themes: Accessibility, Ease of Use, and Contextual factors.
Accessibility included issues concerning the questionnaire format, and suggestions for improvement included larger font sizes and more white space. Ease of Use included discussion about PROMs’ administration. While health professionals suggested PROMs could be completed in waiting rooms, patients preferred settings with more privacy and where they could access help from people they know. Contextual Factors included other challenges and wider issues associated with completing PROMs. While health professionals highlighted difficulties created by the system in managing patients with low literacy/learning disabilities, patient participants stressed that understanding the purpose of PROMs was important to reduce intimidation.
Adjusting PROMs’ format, giving an explicit choice of where patients can complete them, and clearly conveying PROMs’ purpose and benefit to patients may help to prevent inequality when using PROMs in health services.
Patient reported outcome measures; Quality improvement; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Low literacy; Learning disabilities
Long-standing randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence indicates that asthma action plans can improve patient outcomes. Internationally, however, these plans are seldom issued by professionals or used by patients/carers. To understand how the benefits of such plans might be realised clinically, we previously investigated barriers and facilitators to their implementation in a systematic review of relevant RCTs and synthesised qualitative studies exploring professional and patient/carer views. Our final step was to integrate these two separate studies.
First, a theoretical model of action plan implementation was proposed, derived from our synthesis of 19 qualitative studies, identifying elements which, if incorporated into future interventions, could promote their use. Second, 14 RCTs included in the quantitative synthesis were re-analysed to assess the extent to which these elements were present within their interventions (that is, ‘strong’, ‘weak’ or ‘no’ presence) and with what effect. Matrices charted each element’s presence and strength, facilitating analysis of element presence and action plan implementation.
Four elements (professional education, patient/carer education, (patient/carer and professional) partnership working and communication) were identified in our model as likely to promote asthma plan use. Thirteen interventions reporting increased action plan implementation contained all four elements, with two or more strongly present. One intervention reporting no effect on action plan implementation contained only weakly present elements. Intervention effectiveness was reported using a narrow range of criteria which did not fully reflect the four elements. For example, no study assessed whether jointly developed action plans increased use. Whilst important from the professional and patient/carer perspectives, the integral role of these elements in intervention delivery and their effect on study outcomes was under-acknowledged in these RCTs.
Our novel approach provides an evidence-base for future action plan interventions. Such interventions need to ensure all elements in our implementation model (patient/carer and professional education to support development of effective partnership working and communication) are strongly present within them and a wider range of criteria better reflecting the realities of clinical practice and living with asthma are used to measure their effectiveness. We now intend to test such a complex intervention using a cluster trial design.
Asthma action plans; Cross-study synthesis; Intervention development; Intervention reporting; Qualitative synthesis; Integration
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK. Patients with colorectal cancer spend most of their time in the community, but the role of primary care in their management and follow-up is unclear.
To explore colorectal cancer patients' experiences of psychosocial problems and their management in primary and specialist care.
Design and setting
Longitudinal qualitative study of participants recruited from three hospitals in the west of Scotland and interviewed in their own homes.
In-depth interviews with 24 participants with a new diagnosis of colorectal cancer, and then follow-up interviews 12 months later.
Participants' needs following a diagnosis for colorectal cancer included physical, psychological, and social issues. GPs played a key role in diagnosis, after which they were less involved. Participants valued GPs making unsolicited contact and offering support. Participants described being well supported by clinical nurse specialists who are expert in the illness, and who provide continuity of care and psychological support. A year after diagnosis, when there was less contact with GPs and clinical nurse specialists, participants still faced challenges associated with the ongoing impact of colorectal cancer
While some patients enjoyed straightforward recoveries from surgery, others experienced longer-term implications from their disease and treatment, particularly bowel-function issues, fatigue, anxiety, and sexual problems. The potential for primary care to contribute more to the ongoing care of colorectal cancer patients was identified.
colorectal neoplasms; follow-up studies; primary health care; qualitative research
Health professionals have an important role to play in the management of obesity, but may be unsure how to raise weight issues with patients. The societal stigma associated with excess weight means that weight status terms may be misunderstood, cause offence and risk upsetting patient-professional relationships. This study investigated the views of people who were overweight or obese on the acceptability of weight status terms and their potential to motivate weight loss when used by health professionals.
A qualitative study comprising 34 semi-structured interviews with men and women in their mid-to-late 30s and 50s who were overweight or obese and had recently been informed of their weight status. Thematic framework analysis was conducted to allow the systematic comparison of views by age, gender and apparent motivation to lose weight.
Although many people favoured 'Overweight' to describe their weight status, there were doubts about its effectiveness to motivate weight loss. Terms including 'BMI' ('Body Mass Index') or referring to the unhealthy nature of their weight were generally considered acceptable and motivational, although a number of men questioned the validity of BMI as an indicator of excess weight. Participants, particularly women, felt that health professionals should avoid using 'Fat'. Whilst response to 'Obese' was largely negative, people recognised that it could be appropriate in a health consultation. Some younger people, particularly those who appeared motivated to lose weight, felt 'Obese' could encourage weight loss, but it was also clear the term could provoke negative emotions if used insensitively.
Although most people who are overweight or obese accept that it is appropriate for health professionals to discuss weight issues with patients, there is great variation in response to the terms commonly used to describe excess weight. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to discussing weight status: some men and younger people may appreciate a direct approach, whilst others need to be treated more sensitively. It is therefore important that health professionals use their knowledge and understanding to select the terms that are most likely to be acceptable, but at the same time have most potential to motivate each individual patient.
Most households in the United Kingdom have Internet access, and health-related Internet use is increasing. The National Health Service (NHS) Direct website is the major UK provider of online health information.
Our objective was to identify the characteristics and motivations of online health information seekers accessing the NHS Direct website, and to examine the benefits and challenges of the health Internet.
We undertook an online questionnaire survey, offered to users of the NHS Direct website. A subsample of survey respondents participated in in-depth, semistructured, qualitative interviews by telephone or instant messaging/email. Questionnaire results were analyzed using chi-square statistics. Thematic coding with constant comparison was used for interview transcript analysis.
In total 792 respondents completed some or all of the survey: 71.2% (534/750 with data available) were aged under 45 years, 67.4% (511/758) were female, and 37.7% (286/759) had university-level qualifications. They sought information for themselves (545/781, 69.8%), someone else (172/781, 22.0%), or both (64/781, 8.2%). Women were more likely than men to seek help for someone else or both themselves and someone else (168/509 vs 61/242, χ2
2 = 6.35, P = .04). Prior consultation with a health professional was reported by 44.9% (346/770), although this was less common in younger age groups (<36 years) (χ2
1 = 24.22, P < .001). Participants aged 16 to 75 years (n = 26, 20 female, 6 male) were recruited for interview by telephone (n = 23) and instant messaging/email (n = 3). Four major interview themes were identified: motivations for seeking help online; benefits of seeking help in this way and some of the challenges faced; strategies employed in navigating online health information provision and determining what information to use and to trust; and specific comments regarding the NHS Direct website service. Within the motivation category, four concepts emerged: the desire for reassurance; the desire for a second opinion to challenge other information; the desire for greater understanding to supplement other information; and perceived external barriers to accessing information through traditional sources. The benefits clustered around three theme areas: convenience, coverage, and anonymity. Various challenges were discussed but no prominent theme emerged. Navigating online health information and determining what to trust was regarded as a “common sense” activity, and brand recognition was important. Specific comments about NHS Direct included the perception that the online service was integrated with traditional service provision.
This study supports a model of evolutionary rather than revolutionary change in online health information use. Given increasing resource constraints, the health care community needs to seek ways of promoting efficient and appropriate health service use, and should aim to harness the potential benefits of the Internet, informed by an understanding of how and why people go online for health.
information seeking behaviour; information seeking behaviour; internet; patient-provider communication; health services research
There is a growing ethical imperative to feedback research results to participants but there remains a striking lack of empirical research on how people respond to individualised feedback. We sought to explore longitudinal study participants' response to receiving individual written feedback of weight-related and blood results, and to consider the balance of harms against benefits.
A qualitative study with face-to-face and telephone interviews conducted with 50 men and women who had participated in the fifth and most recent wave of the cohort study 'West of Scotland Twenty-07' and received a feedback letter containing body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, cholesterol and glycated haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) results.
Expectations of, and response to, the feedback of their individual results varied. Whilst half of the participants were on the whole 'pleased' with their results or held neutral views, half reported negative responses such as 'shock' or 'concern', particularly in relation to the weight-related results. Participants who were overweight and obese used the most negative language about their results, with some being quite distressed and reporting feelings of powerlessness, low self-image and anxiety over future health. Nevertheless, some people reported having implemented lifestyle changes in direct response to the feedback, resulting in significant weight-loss and/or dietary improvements. Others reported being motivated to change their behaviour. Age and gender differences were apparent in these narratives of behaviour change.
The potential harm caused to some participants may be balanced against the benefit to others. More evaluation of the impact of the format, content and means of individualised feedback of research findings in non-trial studies is required given the growing ethical imperative to offer participants a choice of receiving their results, and the likelihood that a high percentage will choose to receive them.
Background. Frequent consulting is associated with multiple and complex social and health conditions. It is not known how the impact of multiple conditions, the ability to self-manage and patient perception of the GP consultation combines to influence consulting frequency.
Objective. To investigate reasons for frequent consultation among people with multiple morbidity but contrasting consulting rates.
Methods. Qualitative study with in-depth interviews in the west of Scotland. Participants were 23 men and women aged about 50 years with four or more chronic illnesses; 11 reported consulting seven or more times in the last year [the frequent consulters (FCs)] and 12, three or fewer times [the less frequent consulters (LFCs)]. The main outcome measures were the participants’ accounts of their symptoms, self-management strategies and reasons for consulting a GP.
Results. All participants used multiple self-management strategies. FCs described: more disruptive symptoms, which were resistant to self-management strategies; less access to fewer treatments and resources and more medical monitoring, for unstable conditions and drug regimens. The LFCs reported: less severe and more containable symptoms; accessing more efficacious self-management strategies and infrequent GP monitoring for stable conditions and routine drug regimens. All participants conveyed consulting as a ‘last resort’. However, the GP was seen as ‘ally’, for the FCs, and as ‘innocent bystander’, for the LFCs.
Conclusions. This qualitative investigation into the combined significance of multiple morbidities and self-management on the GP consultation suggests that current models of self-management might have limited potential to reduce utilization rates among this vulnerable group. Severity of symptoms, stability of condition and complexity of drug regimens combine to influence the availability of effective resources and influence frequency of GP consultations.
Frequent consulting; self-management; multiple chronic illness; qualitative
Heavy menstrual bleeding is a common symptom amongst women of reproductive age, yet questions remain about why some women experience this as a problem while others do not. We investigated the concerns of women who reported heavy menstrual bleeding on questionnaire.
A cross-sectional postal survey and qualitative interviews were carried out amongst a community-based sample of women in Lothian, Scotland. 906 women aged 25 to 44 reported heavy or very heavy periods in response to a postal survey of 2833 women registered with 19 general practices. Amongst those who had reported heavy menstrual bleeding, analysis was carried out of responses to the free text questionnaire item, "What bothers you most about your periods?" In addition, 32 of these women participated in qualitative interviews and their accounts were analysed to explore how menstrual symptoms and 'problems' with periods were experienced.
Even amongst this subgroup of women, selected on the basis of having reported their periods as heavy in the survey, pain was the aspect of their periods that 'most bothered' them, followed by heaviness, mood changes or tiredness, and irregularity or other issues of timing. Interviewees' accounts similarly suggested that a range of menstrual symptoms were problematic and some women did not disentangle which was worst. Judgements of periods as a problem were based on the impact of menstrual symptoms on daily life and this was contingent on social circumstances such as type of paid work and other responsibilities. Although women spoke readily of whether their periods were a problem, there was less clarity in accounts of whether or not menstrual loss was 'heavy'; women said they made judgements based on what was normal for them, degree of difficulty in containing blood loss and pattern of loss.
Women with heavy periods are bothered by a range of menstrual symptoms and their impact on everyday life. Clinical emphasis should be on clarifying the presenting problem and providing help and advice for this, as well as on excluding serious disease. Sometimes simple approaches, such as help with analgesia, may be all that is required.
Associations between symptom experience and mortality have rarely been investigated. One study has suggested that the number of symptoms people experience may be an important predictor of mortality. This novel and potentially important finding may have important implications but needs to be tested in other cohorts.
858 people aged around 58 years were interviewed by nurses in 1990/1 as part of the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study. They were asked about the presence of symptoms in the last month from a checklist of 33 symptoms. Measures of morbidity included symptom type (respiratory, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, mental health, neurological, systemic) and symptom summary measures looking at the number and impact of symptoms (total number; number participants tended to have; number participants did not tend to have; number which restricted usual activities; number which led to GP consultation). Hazard ratios for thirteen-year all-cause mortality were calculated for symptom types, symptom summary measures, and self-assessed health with and without adjustment.
On unadjusted analysis, and after adjusting for gender, socio-economic status and smoking, mortality was elevated in individuals reporting respiratory, systemic and mental health symptoms. After additional adjustment for chronic conditions and self-assessed health, only the association between mental health symptoms and mortality remained significant. On unadjusted analysis, and after adjusting for gender, socio-economic status and smoking, mortality was elevated in individuals with many (≥ 6) symptoms in four of the symptom summary measures examined. These relationships were no longer significant after additional adjustment for chronic conditions and self-assessed health. A clear trend of increasing mortality as self-assessed health became poorer was observed. This pattern remained statistically significant after adjustment for gender, socio-economic status, smoking, chronic conditions and the total number of symptoms experienced.
Symptoms often thought of as minor may have important consequences later in life especially for those reporting mental health-related symptoms or those experiencing many symptoms. In this study however, self-assessed health appeared to be a better predictor of mortality than the type or number of symptoms experienced, even when the tendency to have and impact of the symptoms were taken into account.
Personal continuity is a core value for family practice, but policy and performance targets emphasise other aspects of care, particularly waiting times for consultation. This study examined patient and general practitioner (GP) perceptions of the value of personal continuity and rapid access, and the relationship between them.
Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of 16 GPs and 32 patients in the Lothian region of Scotland, to identify whether, how, why and in which circumstances personal continuity and rapid access were valued.
From the patients' perspective, what mattered was 'access to appropriate care' depending on the problem to be dealt with. For a few patients, rapid access was the only priority. For most, rapid access was balanced against greater involvement in the consultation when seeing 'their' trusted doctor, which was particularly valued for chronic, complex and emotional problems. GPs focused on the value of personal continuity in the consultation for improving the diagnosis and management of the same kinds of problem. GPs did not perceive enabling access to be a core part of their work. There was little evidence that GPs routinely discussed with patients when or how personal continuity and access should be balanced.
'Access to appropriate care' from the patients' perspective is not fully addressed by GPs' focus on personal continuity, nor by performance targets focused only on speed of access. GPs need to make enabling access as much a part of their core values as personal continuity, and access targets need to be based on less simplistic measures that account for the appropriateness of care as well as speed of access.
General practitioners are being asked to retake responsibility for commissioning healthcare services. What can we learn from previous experience?
To investigate the set up and operation of a Managed Clinical Network for cardiac services and assess its impact on patient care.
This single case study used process evaluation with observational before and after comparison of indicators of quality of care and costs. The study was conducted in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland and used a three-level framework.
Process evaluation of the network set-up and operation through a documentary review of minutes; guidelines and protocols; transcripts of fourteen semi-structured interviews with health service personnel including senior managers, general practitioners, nurses, cardiologists and members of the public.
Outcome evaluation of the impact of the network through interrupted time series analysis of clinical data of 202 patients aged less than 76 years admitted to hospital with a confirmed myocardial infarction one-year pre and one-year post, the establishment of the network. The main outcome measures were differences between indicators of quality of care targeted by network protocols.
Economic evaluation of the transaction costs of the set-up and operation of the network and the resource costs of the clinical care of the 202 myocardial infarction patients from the time of hospital admission to 6 months post discharge through interrupted time series analysis. The outcome measure was different in National Health Service resource use.
Despite early difficulties, the network was successful in bringing together clinicians, patients and managers to redesign services, exhibiting most features of good network management. The role of the energetic lead clinician was crucial, but the network took time to develop and ‘bed down’. Its primary “modus operand” was the development of a myocardial infarction pathway and associated protocols. Of sixteen clinical care indicators, two improved significantly following the launch of the network and nine showed improvements, which were not statistically significant. There was no difference in resource use.
Discussion and conclusions
The Managed Clinical Network made a difference to ways of working, particularly in breaching traditional boundaries and involving the public, and made modest changes in patient care. However, it required a two-year “set-up” period. Managed clinical networks are complex initiatives with an increasing profile in health care policy. This study suggests that they require energetic leadership and improvements are likely to be slow and incremental.
clinical networks; disease management; integrated healthcare networks; managed care
Objective To examine attitudes towards drug use among middle aged respondents with high levels of chronic morbidity.
Design Qualitative study with detailed interviews.
Setting West of Scotland.
Participants 23 men and women aged about 50 years with four or more chronic illnesses.
Main outcome measure Participants' feelings about long term use of drugs to manage chronic multiple morbidity.
Results Drugs occupied a central place in the way people managed their comorbidities. Respondents expressed an aversion to taking drugs, despite acknowledging that they depended on drugs to live as “normal” a life as possible. Respondents expressed ambivalence to their drugs in various ways. Firstly, they adopted both regular and more flexible regimens and might adhere to a regular regimen in treating one condition (such as hypertension) while adopting a flexible regimen in relation to others, in response to their experience of symptoms or varying demands of their daily life. Secondly, they expressed reluctance to take drugs, but an inability to be free of them. Thirdly, drugs both facilitated performance of social roles and served as evidence of an inability to perform such roles.
Conclusions Insight into the considerable tension experienced by people managing complex drug regimens to manage multiple chronic illness may help medical carers to support self care practices among patients and to optimise concordance in their use of prescribed drugs.
BACKGROUND: General practitioners (GPs) in the United Kingdom have recently begun to adopt the use of telephone consultation during daytime surgery as a means of managing demand, particularly requests for same-day appointments. However, it is not known whether the strategy actually reduces GP workload. AIM: To investigate how the use of telephone consultations impacts on the management of requests for same-day appointments, on resource use, indicators of clinical care, and patient perceptions of consultations. DESIGN OF STUDY: Randomised controlled trial. SETTING: All patients (n = 388) seeking same-day appointments in each surgery in two urban practices (total population = 10,420) over a four-week period. METHOD: The primary outcome measure was use of doctor time for the index telephone or face-to-face consultation. Secondary outcomes were subsequent use of investigations and of services in the two-week period following consultation, frequency of blood pressure measurement and antibiotic prescriptions, and number of problems considered at consultation. Patient perceptions were measured by the Patient Enablement Instrument (PEI) and reported willingness to use telephone consultations in the future. RESULTS: Telephone consultations took less time (8.2 minutes versus 6.7 minutes; diff = 1.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.6 to 2.4, P = 0.002). Patients consulting by telephone reconsulted the GP more frequently in the two weeks that followed (0.6 consultations versus 0.4 consultations; diff = 0.2, 95% CI = 0.0 to 0.3, P = 0.01). Blood pressure was measured more often in the group of patients managed face-to-face (25/188 [13.3%] versus 12/181 [6.6%]; diff = 6.7%, 95% CI = 0.6% to 12.7%). There was no significant difference in patient perceptions or other secondary outcomes. CONCLUSION: Use of telephone consultations for same-day appointments was associated with time saving, and did not result in lower PEI scores. Possibly, however, this short-term saving was offset by higher re-consultation and less use of opportunistic health promotion.
To investigate the effect of patient information booklets on overall use of health services, on particular types of use, and on possible interactions between use, deprivation category of the area in which respondents live, and age. To investigate the possibility of a differential effect on health service use between two information booklets.
Randomised controlled trial of two patient information booklets (covering the management and treatment of minor illness).
20 general practices in Lothian, Scotland.
Random sample of patients from the community health index (n=4878) and of those contacting out of hours services (n=4530) in the previous 12 months in each of the study general practices.
Booklets were posted to participants in intervention groups (3288 were sent What Should I Do?; 3127 were sent Health Care Manual). Patients randomised to control group (2993) did not receive a booklet.
Main outcome measures
Use of health services audited from patients' general practice notes in 12 months after receipt of booklet.
Receipt of either booklet had no significant effect on health service use compared with a control group. However, nine out of ten matched practices allocated to receive Health Care Manual had reduced consultation rates compared with matched practices allocated to What Should I Do?
Widespread distribution of information booklets about the management of minor illness is unlikely to reduce demand for health services.
What is already known on this topicOne view of help seeking behaviour is that increasing demand for health services is associated with a lack of knowledge in the self management of minor illnessAn alternative view sees individuals responding reflexively to symptoms on the basis of information and advice from a wide range of sources and using their own experiencesWhat this study addsThe lack of effect on health service use indicates that widespread postal distribution of information booklets about the management of minor illness is unlikely to reduce demand for health services