Study objectives were to investigate the prevalence and causes of prescribing errors amongst foundation doctors (i.e. junior doctors in their first (F1) or second (F2) year of post-graduate training), describe their knowledge and experience of prescribing errors, and explore their self-efficacy (i.e. confidence) in prescribing.
A three-part mixed-methods design was used, comprising: prospective observational study; semi-structured interviews and cross-sectional survey. All doctors prescribing in eight purposively selected hospitals in Scotland participated. All foundation doctors throughout Scotland participated in the survey. The number of prescribing errors per patient, doctor, ward and hospital, perceived causes of errors and a measure of doctors' self-efficacy were established.
4710 patient charts and 44,726 prescribed medicines were reviewed. There were 3364 errors, affecting 1700 (36.1%) charts (overall error rate: 7.5%; F1:7.4%; F2:8.6%; consultants:6.3%). Higher error rates were associated with : teaching hospitals (p<0.001), surgical (p = <0.001) or mixed wards (0.008) rather thanmedical ward, higher patient turnover wards (p<0.001), a greater number of prescribed medicines (p<0.001) and the months December and June (p<0.001). One hundred errors were discussed in 40 interviews. Error causation was multi-factorial; work environment and team factors were particularly noted. Of 548 completed questionnaires (national response rate of 35.4%), 508 (92.7% of respondents) reported errors, most of which (328 (64.6%) did not reach the patient. Pressure from other staff, workload and interruptions were cited as the main causes of errors. Foundation year 2 doctors reported greater confidence than year 1 doctors in deciding the most appropriate medication regimen.
Prescribing errors are frequent and of complex causation. Foundation doctors made more errors than other doctors, but undertook the majority of prescribing, making them a key target for intervention. Contributing causes included work environment, team, task, individual and patient factors. Further work is needed to develop and assess interventions that address these.
Most individuals with lung cancer have symptoms for several months before presenting to their GP. Earlier consulting may improve survival.
To evaluate whether a theory-based primary care intervention increased timely consulting of individuals with symptoms of lung cancer.
Design and setting
Open randomised controlled trial comparing intervention with usual care in two general practices in north-east Scotland.
Smokers and ex-smokers aged ≥55 years were randomised to receive a behavioural intervention or usual care. The intervention comprised a single nurse consultation at participants’ general practice and a self-help manual. The main outcomes were consultations within target times for individuals with new chest symptoms (≤3 days haemoptysis, ≤3 weeks other symptoms) in the year after the intervention commenced, and intentions about consulting with chest symptoms at 1 and 6 months.
Two hundred and twelve participants were randomised and 206 completed the trial. The consultation rate for new chest symptoms in the intervention group was 1.19 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.92 to 1.53; P = 0.18) times higher than in the usual-care group and the proportion of consultations within the target time was 1.11 (95% CI = 0.41 to 3.03; P = 0.83) times higher. One month after the intervention commenced, the intervention group reported intending to consult with chest symptoms 31 days (95% CI = 7 to 54; P = 0.012) earlier than the usual care group, and at 6 months this was 25 days (95% CI = 1.5 to 48; P = 0.037) earlier.
Behavioural intervention in primary care shortened the time individuals at high risk of lung disease intended to take before consulting with new chest symptoms (the secondary outcome of the study), but increases in consultation rates and the proportions of consultations within target times were not statistically significant.
early detection of cancer; general practice; illness behaviour; lung neoplasms; randomised controlled trial
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
The Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) is a widely used patient reported outcome in osteoarthritis. An important, but frequently overlooked, aspect of validating health outcome measures is to establish if items exhibit differential item functioning (DIF). That is, if respondents have the same underlying level of an attribute, does the item give the same score in different subgroups or is it biased towards one subgroup or another. The aim of the study was to explore DIF in the Likert format WOMAC for the first time in a UK osteoarthritis population with respect to demographic, social, clinical and psychological factors.
The sample comprised a community sample of 763 people with osteoarthritis who participated in the Somerset and Avon Survey of Health. The WOMAC was explored for DIF by gender, age, social deprivation, social class, employment status, distress, body mass index and clinical factors. Ordinal regression models were used to identify DIF items.
After adjusting for age, two items were identified for the physical functioning subscale as having DIF with age identified as the DIF factor for 2 items, gender for 1 item and body mass index for 1 item. For the WOMAC pain subscale, for people with hip osteoarthritis one item was identified with age-related DIF. The impact of the DIF items rarely had a significant effect on the conclusions of group comparisons.
Overall, the WOMAC performed well with only a small number of DIF items identified. However, as DIF items were identified in for the WOMAC physical functioning subscale it would be advisable to analyse data taking into account the possible impact of the DIF items when weight, gender or especially age effects, are the focus of interest in UK-based osteoarthritis studies. Similarly for the WOMAC pain subscale in people with hip osteoarthritis it would be worthwhile to analyse data taking into account the possible impact of the DIF item when age comparisons are of primary interest.
Osteoarthritis; WOMAC; Psychometrics; Item bias; Differential item functioning; Measurement equivalence
In the field of implementation research, there is an increased interest in use of theory when designing implementation research studies involving behavior change. In 2003, we initiated a series of five studies to establish a scientific rationale for interventions to translate research findings into clinical practice by exploring the performance of a number of different, commonly used, overlapping behavioral theories and models. We reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the methods, the performance of the theories, and consider where these methods sit alongside the range of methods for studying healthcare professional behavior change.
These were five studies of the theory-based cognitions and clinical behaviors (taking dental radiographs, performing dental restorations, placing fissure sealants, managing upper respiratory tract infections without prescribing antibiotics, managing low back pain without ordering lumbar spine x-rays) of random samples of primary care dentists and physicians. Measures were derived for the explanatory theoretical constructs in the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), and Illness Representations specified by the Common Sense Self Regulation Model (CSSRM). We constructed self-report measures of two constructs from Learning Theory (LT), a measure of Implementation Intentions (II), and the Precaution Adoption Process. We collected data on theory-based cognitions (explanatory measures) and two interim outcome measures (stated behavioral intention and simulated behavior) by postal questionnaire survey during the 12-month period to which objective measures of behavior (collected from routine administrative sources) were related. Planned analyses explored the predictive value of theories in explaining variance in intention, behavioral simulation and behavior.
Response rates across the five surveys ranged from 21% to 48%; we achieved the target sample size for three of the five surveys. For the predictor variables, the mean construct scores were above the mid-point on the scale with median values across the five behaviors generally being above four out of seven and the range being from 1.53 to 6.01. Across all of the theories, the highest proportion of the variance explained was always for intention and the lowest was for behavior. The Knowledge-Attitudes-Behavior Model performed poorly across all behaviors and dependent variables; CSSRM also performed poorly. For TPB, SCT, II, and LT across the five behaviors, we predicted median R2 of 25% to 42.6% for intention, 6.2% to 16% for behavioral simulation, and 2.4% to 6.3% for behavior.
We operationalized multiple theories measuring across five behaviors. Continuing challenges that emerge from our work are: better specification of behaviors, better operationalization of theories; how best to appropriately extend the range of theories; further assessment of the value of theories in different settings and groups; exploring the implications of these methods for the management of chronic diseases; and moving to experimental designs to allow an understanding of behavior change.
Prescribing errors are a major source of morbidity and mortality and represent a significant patient safety concern. Evidence suggests that trainee doctors are responsible for most prescribing errors. Understanding the factors that influence prescribing behavior may lead to effective interventions to reduce errors. Existing investigations of prescribing errors have been based on Human Error Theory but not on other relevant behavioral theories. The aim of this study was to apply a broad theory-based approach using the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) to investigate prescribing in the hospital context among a sample of trainee doctors.
Semistructured interviews, based on 12 theoretical domains, were conducted with 22 trainee doctors to explore views, opinions, and experiences of prescribing and prescribing errors. Content analysis was conducted, followed by applying relevance criteria and a novel stage of critical appraisal, to identify which theoretical domains could be targeted in interventions to improve prescribing.
Seven theoretical domains met the criteria of relevance: “social professional role and identity,” “environmental context and resources,” “social influences,” “knowledge,” “skills,” “memory, attention, and decision making,” and “behavioral regulation.” From critical appraisal of the interview data, “beliefs about consequences” and “beliefs about capabilities” were also identified as potentially important domains. Interrelationships between domains were evident. Additionally, the data supported theoretical elaboration of the domain behavioral regulation.
In this investigation of hospital-based prescribing, participants’ attributions about causes of errors were used to identify domains that could be targeted in interventions to improve prescribing. In a departure from previous TDF practice, critical appraisal was used to identify additional domains that should also be targeted, despite participants’ perceptions that they were not relevant to prescribing errors. These were beliefs about consequences and beliefs about capabilities. Specifically, in the light of the documented high error rate, beliefs that prescribing errors were not likely to have consequences for patients and that trainee doctors are capable of prescribing without error should also be targeted in an intervention. This study is the first to suggest critical appraisal for domain identification and to use interview data to propose theoretical elaborations and interrelationships between domains.
Prescribing; Patient safety; Theoretical domains framework
Healthcare professional response rates to postal questionnaires are declining and this may threaten the validity and generalisability of their findings. Methods to improve response rates do incur costs (resources) and increase the cost of research projects. The aim of these randomised controlled trials (RCTs) was to assess whether 1) incentives, 2) type of reminder and/or 3) reduced response burden improve response rates; and to assess the cost implications of such additional effective interventions.
Two RCTs were conducted. In RCT A general dental practitioners (dentists) in Scotland were randomised to receive either an incentive; an abridged questionnaire or a full length questionnaire. In RCT B non-responders to a postal questionnaire sent to general medical practitioners (GPs) in the UK were firstly randomised to receive a second full length questionnaire as a reminder or a postcard reminder. Continued non-responders from RCT B were then randomised within their first randomisation to receive a third full length or an abridged questionnaire reminder. The cost-effectiveness of interventions that effectively increased response rates was assessed as a secondary outcome.
There was no evidence that an incentive (52% versus 43%, Risk Difference (RD) -8.8 (95%CI −22.5, 4.8); or abridged questionnaire (46% versus 43%, RD −2.9 (95%CI −16.5, 10.7); statistically significantly improved dentist response rates compared to a full length questionnaire in RCT A. In RCT B there was no evidence that a full questionnaire reminder statistically significantly improved response rates compared to a postcard reminder (10.4% versus 7.3%, RD 3 (95%CI −0.1, 6.8). At a second reminder stage, GPs sent the abridged questionnaire responded more often (14.8% versus 7.2%, RD −7.7 (95%CI −12.8, -2.6). GPs who received a postcard reminder followed by an abridged questionnaire were most likely to respond (19.8% versus 6.3%, RD 8.1%, and 9.1% for full/postcard/full, three full or full/full/abridged questionnaire respectively). An abridged questionnaire containing fewer questions following a postcard reminder was the only cost-effective strategy for increasing the response rate (£15.99 per response).
When expecting or facing a low response rate to postal questionnaires, researchers should carefully identify the most efficient way to boost their response rate. In these studies, an abridged questionnaire containing fewer questions following a postcard reminder was the only cost-effective strategy. An increase in response rates may be explained by a combination of the number and type of contacts. Increasing the sampling frame may be more cost-effective than interventions to prompt non-responders. However, this may not strengthen the validity and generalisability of the survey findings and affect the representativeness of the sample.
Although most people with Type 2 diabetes receive their diabetes care in primary care, only a limited amount is known about the quality of diabetes care in this setting. We investigated the provision and receipt of diabetes care delivered in UK primary care.
Postal surveys with all healthcare professionals and a random sample of 100 patients with Type 2 diabetes from 99 UK primary care practices.
326/361 (90.3%) doctors, 163/186 (87.6%) nurses and 3591 patients (41.8%) returned a questionnaire. Clinicians reported giving advice about lifestyle behaviours (e.g. 88% would routinely advise about calorie restriction; 99.6% about increasing exercise) more often than patients reported having received it (43% and 42%) and correlations between clinician and patient report were low. Patients’ reported levels of confidence about managing their diabetes were moderately high; a median (range) of 21% (3% to 39%) of patients reporting being not confident about various areas of diabetes self-management.
Primary care practices have organisational structures in place and are, as judged by routine quality indicators, delivering high quality care. There remain evidence-practice gaps in the care provided and in the self confidence that patients have for key aspects of self management and further research is needed to address these issues. Future research should use robust designs and appropriately designed studies to investigate how best to improve this situation.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) defines participation as a person’s performance in life situations, including the size of social networks, and satisfaction with social contacts. Stroke survivors are known to experience a reduction in the number of their social networks and contacts, which cannot be explained solely in terms of activity limitations caused by physical impairment. Problems of emotional processing, including impaired mood, emotion regulation and emotion perception, are known to occur following stroke and can detrimentally influence many aspects of social interaction and participation. The aim of this study is to investigate whether emotion processing impairments predict stroke survivors’ restricted social participation, independent of problems with activity limitation.
We aim to recruit 125 patients admitted to NHS Grampian with a confirmed diagnosis of stroke. All participants will be assessed on measures of emotion processing, social participation and activity limitation at approximately one month post stroke and again at approximately one year post stroke in order to assess change over time.
It is important to develop a greater understanding of the emotional factors which may underlie key social deficits in stroke recovery in an ageing population where stroke is one of the leading causes of severe, complex disability. This research may enable us to identify those who are risk of participation restriction and target them in the acute stroke phase of stroke so that adverse outcome is avoided and rehabilitation potential is fulfilled.
How people present symptoms to health services may influence the care they subsequently receive. Leventhal's Commonsense Model of Self-Regulation (CS-SRM) posits that individuals develop cognitive illness representations elaborated around five main components (identity, timeline, cause, consequences, and cure/control), coherence, and emotional representations.
To examine whether initial presentations to health services consist of the components of illness representation proposed by the CS-SRM.
Design and setting
A CS-SRM-based content analysis of calls to the Scottish national telephone advice service, NHS 24.
A random sample of callers to NHS 24 was identified. A quota sample of 60 consented to participate. Their consultations were transcribed verbatim. Responses to an initial open question regarding the reason for calling were identified and divided into ‘meaning units’. A coding schedule was developed using Leventhal's definitions of illness representations. Meaning units were coded independently by two researchers.
Fifty-nine eligible initial presentations contained between 1 and 13 coding units, (mean = 4). A total of 230 coding units were available for coding. Overall, 202 (88%) coding units were coded to at least one component of illness representation. All 59 (100%) participants made reference to identity, 26 (44%) to timeline, nine (15%) to cause, eight (14%) to consequences, 22 (37%) to cure/control, and 11 (19%) to the degree of coherence. Emotional representations were identified in six (10%) participants' presentations.
Leventhal's CS-SRM accounts for a large proportion of initial presentations to health services. Most people offer identity plus at least one additional component of illness representation. It may be necessary for clinicians to prompt remaining components to obtain a comprehensive understanding of patients' representations of illness.
consultation; symptoms; telephone triage
Interventions for dietary and physical activity changes in obese adults may be less effective for participants with additional obesity-related risk factors and co-morbidities than for otherwise healthy individuals. This study aimed to test the feasibility and acceptability of the recruitment, allocation, measurement, retention and intervention procedures of a randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve physical activity and dietary practices amongst obese adults with additional obesity related risk factors.
Pilot single centre open-labelled outcome assessor-blinded randomised controlled trial of obese (Body Mass Index (BMI)≥30 kg/m2) adults (age≥18 y) with obesity related co-morbidities such as type 2 diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance or hypertension. Participants were randomly allocated to a manual-based group intervention or a leaflet control condition in accordance to a 2∶1 allocation ratio. Primary outcome was acceptability and feasibility of trial procedures, secondary outcomes included measures of body composition, physical activity, food intake and psychological process measures.
Out of 806 potentially eligible individuals identified through list searches in two primary care general medical practices N = 81 participants (63% female; mean-age = 56.56(11.44); mean-BMI = 36.73(6.06)) with 2.35(1.47) co-morbidities were randomised. Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) was the only significant predictor of providing consent to take part in the study (higher chances of consent for invitees with lower levels of deprivation). Participant flowcharts, qualitative and quantitative feedback suggested good acceptance and feasibility of intervention procedures but 34.6% of randomised participants were lost to follow-up due to overly high measurement burden and sub-optimal retention procedures. Participants in the intervention group showed positive trends for most psychological, behavioural and body composition outcomes.
The intervention procedures were found to be acceptable and feasible. Attrition rates were unacceptably high and areas for improvements of trial procedures were identified.
Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly prevalent chronic illness and an important cause of avoidable mortality. Patients are managed by the integrated activities of clinical and non-clinical members of primary care teams. This study aimed to: investigate theoretically-based organisational, team, and individual factors determining the multiple behaviours needed to manage diabetes; and identify multilevel determinants of different diabetes management behaviours and potential interventions to improve them. This paper describes the instrument development, study recruitment, characteristics of the study participating practices and their constituent healthcare professionals and administrative staff and reports descriptive analyses of the data collected.
The study was a predictive study over a 12-month period. Practices (N = 99) were recruited from within the UK Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework. We identified six behaviours chosen to cover a range of clinical activities (prescribing, non-prescribing), reflect decisions that were not necessarily straightforward (controlling blood pressure that was above target despite other drug treatment), and reflect recommended best practice as described by national guidelines. Practice attributes and a wide range of individually reported measures were assessed at baseline; measures of clinical outcome were collected over the ensuing 12 months, and a number of proxy measures of behaviour were collected at baseline and at 12 months. Data were collected by telephone interview, postal questionnaire (organisational and clinical) to practice staff, postal questionnaire to patients, and by computer data extraction query.
All 99 practices completed a telephone interview and responded to baseline questionnaires. The organisational questionnaire was completed by 931/1236 (75.3%) administrative staff, 423/529 (80.0%) primary care doctors, and 255/314 (81.2%) nurses. Clinical questionnaires were completed by 326/361 (90.3%) primary care doctors and 163/186 (87.6%) nurses. At a practice level, we achieved response rates of 100% from clinicians in 40 practices and > 80% from clinicians in 67 practices. All measures had satisfactory internal consistency (alpha coefficient range from 0.61 to 0.97; Pearson correlation coefficient (two item measures) 0.32 to 0.81); scores were generally consistent with good practice. Measures of behaviour showed relatively high rates of performance of the six behaviours, but with considerable variability within and across the behaviours and measures.
We have assembled an unparalleled data set from clinicians reporting on their cognitions in relation to the performance of six clinical behaviours involved in the management of people with one chronic disease (diabetes mellitus), using a range of organisational and individual level measures as well as information on the structure of the practice teams and across a large number of UK primary care practices. We would welcome approaches from other researchers to collaborate on the analysis of this data.
Psychological models predict behaviour in a wide range of settings. The aim of this study was to explore the usefulness of a range of psychological models to predict the health professional behaviour 'referral for lumbar spine x-ray in patients presenting with low back pain' by UK primary care physicians.
Psychological measures were collected by postal questionnaire survey from a random sample of primary care physicians in Scotland and north England. The outcome measures were clinical behaviour (referral rates for lumbar spine x-rays), behavioural simulation (lumbar spine x-ray referral decisions based upon scenarios), and behavioural intention (general intention to refer for lumbar spine x-rays in patients with low back pain). Explanatory variables were the constructs within the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), Common Sense Self-Regulation Model (CS-SRM), Operant Learning Theory (OLT), Implementation Intention (II), Weinstein's Stage Model termed the Precaution Adoption Process (PAP), and knowledge. For each of the outcome measures, a generalised linear model was used to examine the predictive value of each theory individually. Linear regression was used for the intention and simulation outcomes, and negative binomial regression was used for the behaviour outcome. Following this 'theory level' analysis, a 'cross-theoretical construct' analysis was conducted to investigate the combined predictive value of all individual constructs across theories.
Constructs from TPB, SCT, CS-SRM, and OLT predicted behaviour; however, the theoretical models did not fit the data well. When predicting behavioural simulation, the proportion of variance explained by individual theories was TPB 11.6%, SCT 12.1%, OLT 8.1%, and II 1.5% of the variance, and in the cross-theory analysis constructs from TPB, CS-SRM and II explained 16.5% of the variance in simulated behaviours. When predicting intention, the proportion of variance explained by individual theories was TPB 25.0%, SCT 21.5%, CS-SRM 11.3%, OLT 26.3%, PAP 2.6%, and knowledge 2.3%, and in the cross-theory analysis constructs from TPB, SCT, CS-SRM, and OLT explained 33.5% variance in intention. Together these results suggest that physicians' beliefs about consequences and beliefs about capabilities are likely determinants of lumbar spine x-ray referrals.
The study provides evidence that taking a theory-based approach enables the creation of a replicable methodology for identifying factors that predict clinical behaviour. However, a number of conceptual and methodological challenges remain.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) proposes three main constructs, impairment (I), activity limitation (A) and participation restriction (P). The ICF model allows for all paths between the constructs to be explored, with significant paths likely to vary for different conditions. The relationships between I, A and P have been explored in some conditions but not previously in people with osteoarthritis prior to joint replacement. The aim of this paper is to examine these relationships using separate measures of each construct and structural equation modelling.
A geographical cohort of 413 patients with osteoarthritis about to undergo hip and knee joint replacement completed the Aberdeen measures of Impairment, Activity Limitation and Participation Restriction (Ab-IAP). Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test the three factor (I, A, P) measurement model. Structural equation modelling was used to explore the I, A and P pathways in the ICF model.
There was support from confirmatory factor analysis for the three factor I, A, P measurement model. The structural equation model had good fit [S-B Chi-square = 439.45, df = 149, CFI robust = 0.91, RMSEA robust = 0.07] and indicated significant pathways between I and A (standardised coefficient = 0.76 p < 0.0001) and between A and P (standardised coefficient = 0.75 p < 0.0001). However, the path between I and P was not significant (standardised coefficient = 0.01).
The significant pathways suggest that treatments and interventions aimed at reducing impairment, such as joint replacement, may only affect P indirectly, through A, however, longitudinal data would be needed to establish this.
This randomized controlled trial evaluated the therapeutic benefit of mental practice with motor imagery in stroke patients with persistent upper limb motor weakness. There is evidence to suggest that mental rehearsal of movement can produce effects normally attributed to practising the actual movements. Imagining hand movements could stimulate restitution and redistribution of brain activity, which accompanies recovery of hand function, thus resulting in a reduced motor deficit. Current efficacy evidence for mental practice with motor imagery in stroke is insufficient due to methodological limitations. This randomized controlled sequential cohort study included 121 stroke patients with a residual upper limb weakness within 6 months following stroke (on average <3 months post-stroke). Randomization was performed using an automated statistical minimizing procedure. The primary outcome measure was a blinded rating on the Action Research Arm test. The study analysed the outcome of 39 patients involved in 4 weeks of mental rehearsal of upper limb movements during 45-min supervised sessions three times a week and structured independent sessions twice a week, compared to 31 patients who performed equally intensive non-motor mental rehearsal, and 32 patients receiving normal care without additional training. No differences between the treatment groups were found at baseline or outcome on the Action Research Arm Test (ANCOVA statistical P = 0.77, and effect size partial η2 = 0.005) or any of the secondary outcome measures. Results suggest that mental practice with motor imagery does not enhance motor recovery in patients early post-stroke. In light of the evidence, it remains to be seen whether mental practice with motor imagery is a valid rehabilitation technique in its own right.
motor imagery; stroke; rehabilitation; motor recovery; plasticity; therapeutic benefit
The importance of behaviour change in improving health is illustrated by the increasing investment by funding bodies in the development and evaluation of complex interventions to change population, patient, and practitioner behaviours. The development of effective interventions is hampered by the absence of a nomenclature to specify and report their content. This limits the possibility of replicating effective interventions, synthesising evidence, and understanding the causal mechanisms underlying behaviour change. In contrast, biomedical interventions are precisely specified (e.g., the pharmacological 'ingredients' of prescribed drugs, their dose and frequency of administration). For most complex interventions, the precise 'ingredients' are unknown; descriptions (e.g., 'behavioural counseling') can mean different things to different researchers or implementers. The lack of a method for specifying complex interventions undermines the precision of evidence syntheses of effectiveness, posing a problem for secondary, as well as primary, research.
We aim to develop a reliable method of specifying intervention components ('techniques') aimed at changing behaviour.
The research will be conducted in three phases. The first phase will develop the nomenclature. We will refine a preliminary list of techniques and definitions. Using a formal consensus method, experts will then define the key attributes of each technique and how it relates to, and differs from, others. They will evaluate the techniques and their definitions until they achieve an agreed-upon list of clearly defined, nonredundant techniques. The second phase will test the nomenclature. Trained experts (primary researchers and systematic reviewers), equipped with a coding manual and guidance, will use the nomenclature to code published descriptions of complex interventions. Reliability between experts, over time, and across types of users will be assessed. We will assess whether using the nomenclature to write intervention descriptions enhances the clarity and replicability of interventions. The third phase will develop a web-based users' resource of clearly specified and nonredundant techniques, which will aid the scientific understanding of, and development of, effective complex interventions. Dissemination throughout the project will be through stakeholder meetings, targeted multidisciplinary workshops, conference presentation, journal publication, and publication in an interactive web-based platform (a Wiki).
The development of a reliable method of specifying intervention components aimed at changing behaviour will strengthen the scientific basis for developing, evaluating, and reporting complex interventions. It will improve the precision of evidence syntheses of effectiveness, thus enhancing secondary, as well as primary, research.
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the validity of the self-administered Aberdeen Measures of Impairment, Activity Limitation and Participation Restriction (Ab-IAP): by investigating how participants interpret and respond to questions using the cognitive interviewing technique.
Twenty patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip participated in a cognitive interview whilst completing the Ab-IAP. Interviews were conducted using the concurrent 'think aloud' design. All interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim and analysed (i) using a standardised classification scheme to identify four types of response problems and (ii) thematically using the constant comparative technique.
Participants used various response strategies when answering questions about impairment, activity limitations and participation restriction. Problems were judged to be present in 3.1% of participants' responses for the item Ab-IAP. Thematic analysis provided insight into the type and nature of problems people experienced when completing the Ab-IAP measures. The problems identified were mainly comprehension and response problems.
Participants had minimal difficulties completing the Ab-IAP; however those difficulties identified have prompted suggestions for improving the measures. The cognitive interviews produced results that were compatible with statistical analysis of the measures.. Cognitive interviewing was beneficial for testing the validity and acceptability of new Ab-IAP measures. The results demonstrates that the Ab-IAP, in addition to being theoretically-based and having good psychometric properties, elicits appropriate responses.
It is well documented that the translation of knowledge into clinical practice is a slow and haphazard process. This is no less true for dental healthcare than other types of healthcare. One common policy strategy to help promote knowledge translation is the production of clinical guidance, but it has been demonstrated that the simple publication of guidance is unlikely to optimise practice. Additional knowledge translation interventions have been shown to be effective, but effectiveness varies and much of this variation is unexplained. The need for researchers to move beyond single studies to develop a generalisable, theory based, knowledge translation framework has been identified.
For dentistry in Scotland, the production of clinical guidance is the responsibility of the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP). TRiaDS (Translation Research in a Dental Setting) is a multidisciplinary research collaboration, embedded within the SDCEP guidance development process, which aims to establish a practical evaluative framework for the translation of guidance and to conduct and evaluate a programme of integrated, multi-disciplinary research to enhance the science of knowledge translation.
Set in General Dental Practice the TRiaDS programmatic evaluation employs a standardised process using optimal methods and theory. For each SDCEP guidance document a diagnostic analysis is undertaken alongside the guidance development process. Information is gathered about current dental care activities. Key recommendations and their required behaviours are identified and prioritised. Stakeholder questionnaires and interviews are used to identify and elicit salient beliefs regarding potential barriers and enablers towards the key recommendations and behaviours. Where possible routinely collected data are used to measure compliance with the guidance and to inform decisions about whether a knowledge translation intervention is required. Interventions are theory based and informed by evidence gathered during the diagnostic phase and by prior published evidence. They are evaluated using a range of experimental and quasi-experimental study designs, and data collection continues beyond the end of the intervention to investigate the sustainability of an intervention effect.
The TRiaDS programmatic approach is a significant step forward towards the development of a practical, generalisable framework for knowledge translation research. The multidisciplinary composition of the TRiaDS team enables consideration of the individual, organisational and system determinants of professional behaviour change. In addition the embedding of TRiaDS within a national programme of guidance development offers a unique opportunity to inform and influence the guidance development process, and enables TRiaDS to inform dental services practitioners, policy makers and patients on how best to translate national recommendations into routine clinical activities.
Psychological models are used to understand and predict behaviour in a wide range of settings, but have not been consistently applied to health professional behaviours, and the contribution of differing theories is not clear. This study explored the usefulness of a range of models to predict an evidence-based behaviour -- the placing of fissure sealants.
Measures were collected by postal questionnaire from a random sample of general dental practitioners (GDPs) in Scotland. Outcomes were behavioural simulation (scenario decision-making), and behavioural intention. Predictor variables were from the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), Common Sense Self-regulation Model (CS-SRM), Operant Learning Theory (OLT), Implementation Intention (II), Stage Model, and knowledge (a non-theoretical construct). Multiple regression analysis was used to examine the predictive value of each theoretical model individually. Significant constructs from all theories were then entered into a 'cross theory' stepwise regression analysis to investigate their combined predictive value
Behavioural simulation - theory level variance explained was: TPB 31%; SCT 29%; II 7%; OLT 30%. Neither CS-SRM nor stage explained significant variance. In the cross theory analysis, habit (OLT), timeline acute (CS-SRM), and outcome expectancy (SCT) entered the equation, together explaining 38% of the variance. Behavioural intention - theory level variance explained was: TPB 30%; SCT 24%; OLT 58%, CS-SRM 27%. GDPs in the action stage had significantly higher intention to place fissure sealants. In the cross theory analysis, habit (OLT) and attitude (TPB) entered the equation, together explaining 68% of the variance in intention.
The study provides evidence that psychological models can be useful in understanding and predicting clinical behaviour. Taking a theory-based approach enables the creation of a replicable methodology for identifying factors that may predict clinical behaviour and so provide possible targets for knowledge translation interventions. Results suggest that more evidence-based behaviour may be achieved by influencing beliefs about the positive outcomes of placing fissure sealants and building a habit of placing them as part of patient management. However a number of conceptual and methodological challenges remain.
Studies included in a related systematic review used a variety of statistical methods to summarise clinical behaviour and to compare proxy (or indirect) and direct (observed) methods of measuring it. The objective of the present review was to assess the validity of these statistical methods and make appropriate recommendations.
Electronic bibliographic databases were searched to identify studies meeting specified inclusion criteria. Potentially relevant studies were screened for inclusion independently by two reviewers. This was followed by systematic abstraction and categorization of statistical methods, as well as critical assessment of these methods.
Fifteen reports (of 11 studies) met the inclusion criteria. Thirteen analysed individual clinical actions separately and presented a variety of summary statistics: sensitivity was available in eight reports and specificity in six, but four reports treated different actions interchangeably. Seven reports combined several actions into summary measures of behaviour: five reports compared means on direct and proxy measures using analysis of variance or t-tests; four reported the Pearson correlation; none compared direct and proxy measures over the range of their values. Four reports comparing individual items used appropriate statistical methods, but reports that compared summary scores did not.
We recommend sensitivity and positive predictive value as statistics to assess agreement of direct and proxy measures of individual clinical actions. Summary measures should be reliable, repeatable, capture a single underlying aspect of behaviour, and map that construct onto a valid measurement scale. The relationship between the direct and proxy measures should be evaluated over the entire range of the direct measure and describe not only the mean of the proxy measure for any specific value of the direct measure, but also the range of variability of the proxy measure. The evidence about the relationship between direct and proxy methods of assessing clinical behaviour is weak.
Adherence to therapies is a primary determinant of treatment success, yet the World Health Organisation estimate that only 50% of patients who suffer from chronic diseases adhere to treatment recommendations. In a previous project, we found that 30% of stroke patients reported sub-optimal medication adherence, and this was associated with younger age, greater cognitive impairment, lower perceptions of medication benefits and higher specific concerns about medication. We now wish to pilot a brief intervention aimed at (a) helping patients establish a better medication-taking routine, and (b) eliciting and modifying any erroneous beliefs regarding their medication and their stroke.
Thirty patients will be allocated to a brief intervention (2 sessions) and 30 to treatment as usual. The primary outcome will be adherence measured over 3 months using Medication Event Monitoring System (MEMS) pill containers which electronically record openings. Secondary outcomes will include self reported adherence and blood pressure.
This study shall also assess uptake/attrition, feasibility, ease of understanding and acceptability of this complex intervention.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN38274953
Blood transfusion is an essential part of healthcare and can improve patient outcomes. However, like most therapies, it is also associated with significant clinical risks. In addition, there is some evidence of overuse. Understanding the potential barriers and enablers to reduced prescribing of blood products will facilitate the selection of intervention components likely to be effective, thereby reducing the number of costly trials evaluating different implementation strategies. Using a theoretical basis to understand behaviours targeted for change will contribute to a 'basic science' relating to determinants of professional behaviour and how these inform the selection of techniques for changing behaviour. However, it is not clear which theories of behaviour are relevant to clinicians' transfusing behaviour. The aim of this study is to use a theoretical domains framework to identify relevant theories, and to use these theories to identify factors that predict the decision to transfuse.
The study involves two steps: interview study and questionnaire study. Using a previously identified framework, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with clinicians to elicit their views about which factors are associated with waiting and further monitoring the patient rather than transfusing red blood cells. Interviews will cover the following theoretical domains: knowledge; skills; social/professional role and identity; beliefs about capabilities; beliefs about consequences; motivation and goals; memory, attention, and decision processes; environmental context and resources; social influences; emotion; behavioural regulation; nature of the behaviour. The interviews will take place independently in Canada and the UK and involve two groups of physicians in each country (UK: adult and neonatal intensive care physicians; Canada: intensive care physicians and orthopaedic surgeons). We will: analyse interview transcript content to select relevant theoretical domains; use consensus processes to map these domains on to theories of behaviour; develop questionnaires based on these theories; and mail them to each group of physicians in the two countries. From our previous work, it is likely that the theories will include: theory of planned behaviour, social cognitive theory and the evidence-based strategy, implementation intention. The questionnaire data will measure predictor variables (theoretical constructs) and outcome variables (intention and clinical decision), and will be analysed using multiple regression analysis. We aim to achieve 150 respondents in each of the four groups for each postal survey.
Long term management of patients with Type 2 diabetes is well established within Primary Care. However, despite extensive efforts to implement high quality care both service provision and patient health outcomes remain sub-optimal. Several recent studies suggest that psychological theories about individuals' behaviour can provide a valuable framework for understanding generalisable factors underlying health professionals' clinical behaviour. In the context of the team management of chronic disease such as diabetes, however, the application of such models is less well established. The aim of this study was to identify motivational factors underlying health professional teams' clinical management of diabetes using a psychological model of human behaviour.
A predictive questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) investigated health professionals' (HPs') cognitions (e.g., beliefs, attitudes and intentions) about the provision of two aspects of care for patients with diabetes: prescribing statins and inspecting feet.
General practitioners and practice nurses in England and the Netherlands completed parallel questionnaires, cross-validated for equivalence in English and Dutch. Behavioural data were practice-level patient-reported rates of foot examination and use of statin medication. Relationships between the cognitive antecedents of behaviour proposed by the TPB and healthcare teams' clinical behaviour were explored using multiple regression.
In both countries, attitude and subjective norm were important predictors of health professionals' intention to inspect feet (Attitude: beta = .40; Subjective Norm: beta = .28; Adjusted R2 = .34, p < 0.01), and their intention to prescribe statins (Attitude: beta = .44; Adjusted R2 = .40, p < 0.01). Individuals' self-reported intention did not predict practice-level performance of either clinical behaviour.
Using the TPB, we identified modifiable factors underlying health professionals' intentions to perform two clinical behaviours, providing a rationale for the development of targeted interventions. However, we did not observe a relationship between health professionals' intentions and our proxy measure of team behaviour. Significant methodological issues were highlighted concerning the use of models of individual behaviour to explain behaviours performed by teams. In order to investigate clinical behaviours performed by teams it may be necessary to develop measures that reflect the collective cognitions of the members of the team to facilitate the application of these theoretical models to team behaviours.
Accurate measures of health professionals' clinical practice are critically important to guide health policy decisions, as well as for professional self-evaluation and for research-based investigation of clinical practice and process of care. It is often not feasible or ethical to measure behaviour through direct observation, and rigorous behavioural measures are difficult and costly to use. The aim of this review was to identify the current evidence relating to the relationships between proxy measures and direct measures of clinical behaviour. In particular, the accuracy of medical record review, clinician self-reported and patient-reported behaviour was assessed relative to directly observed behaviour.
We searched: PsycINFO; MEDLINE; EMBASE; CINAHL; Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials; science/social science citation index; Current contents (social & behavioural med/clinical med); ISI conference proceedings; and Index to Theses. Inclusion criteria: empirical, quantitative studies; and examining clinical behaviours. An independent, direct measure of behaviour (by standardised patient, other trained observer or by video/audio recording) was considered the 'gold standard' for comparison. Proxy measures of behaviour included: retrospective self-report; patient-report; or chart-review. All titles, abstracts, and full text articles retrieved by electronic searching were screened for inclusion and abstracted independently by two reviewers. Disagreements were resolved by discussion with a third reviewer where necessary.
Fifteen reports originating from 11 studies met the inclusion criteria. The method of direct measurement was by standardised patient in six reports, trained observer in three reports, and audio/video recording in six reports. Multiple proxy measures of behaviour were compared in five of 15 reports. Only four of 15 reports used appropriate statistical methods to compare measures. Some direct measures failed to meet our validity criteria. The accuracy of patient report and chart review as proxy measures varied considerably across a wide range of clinical actions. The evidence for clinician self-report was inconclusive.
Valid measures of clinical behaviour are of fundamental importance to accurately identify gaps in care delivery, improve quality of care, and ultimately to improve patient care. However, the evidence base for three commonly used proxy measures of clinicians' behaviour is very limited. Further research is needed to better establish the methods of development, application, and analysis for a range of both direct and proxy measures of behaviour.