The role of tonsillectomy in the management of adult tonsillitis remains uncertain and UK regional variation in tonsillectomy rates persists. Patients, doctors and health policy makers wish to know the costs and benefits of tonsillectomy against conservative management and whether therapy can be better targeted to maximise benefits and minimise risks of surgery, hence maximising cost-effective use of resources. NATTINA incorporates the first attempt to map current NHS referral criteria against other metrics of tonsil disease severity.
A UK multi-centre, randomised, controlled trial for adults with recurrent tonsillitis to compare the clinical and cost-effectiveness of tonsillectomy versus conservative management.
An initial feasibility study comprises qualitative interviews to investigate the practicality of the protocol, including willingness to randomise and be randomised. Approximately 20 otolaryngology staff, 10 GPs and 15 ENT patients will be recruited over 5 months in all 9 proposed main trial participating sites.
A 6-month internal pilot will then recruit 72 patients across 6 of the 9 sites. Participants will be adults with recurrent acute tonsillitis referred by a GP to secondary care. Randomisation between tonsillectomy and conservative management will be according to a blocked allocation method in a 1:1 ratio stratified by centre and baseline disease severity.
If the pilot is successful, the main trial will recruit a further 528 patients over 18 months in all 9 participating sites. All participants will be followed up for a total of 24 months, throughout which both primary and secondary outcome data will be collected. The primary outcome is the number of sore throat days experienced over the 24-month follow-up. The pilot and main trials include an embedded qualitative process evaluation.
NATTINA is designed to evaluate the relative effectiveness and efficiency of tonsillectomy versus conservative management in patients with recurrent sore throat who are eligible for surgery. Most adult tonsil disease and surgery has an impact on economically active age groups, with individual and societal costs through loss of earnings and productivity. Avoidance of unnecessary operations and prioritisation of those individuals likely to gain most from tonsillectomy would reduce costs to the NHS and society.
ISRCTN55284102, Date of Registration: 4 August 2014
Tonsillitis; Sore throat; Tonsillectomy; Surgery; Randomised controlled trial
In February 2009, the Department of Health in England launched the Face, Arm, Speech, and Time (FAST) mass media campaign, to raise public awareness of stroke symptoms and the need for an emergency response. We aimed to evaluate the impact of three consecutive phases of FAST using population-level measures of behaviour in England.
Interrupted time series (May 2007 to February 2011) assessed the impact of the campaign on: access to a national stroke charity's information resources (Stroke Association [SA]); emergency hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of stroke (Hospital Episode Statistics for England); and thrombolysis activity from centres in England contributing data to the Safe Implementation of Thrombolysis in Stroke UK database.
Before the campaign, emergency admissions (and patients admitted via accident and emergency [A&E]) and thrombolysis activity was increasing significantly over time, whereas emergency admissions via general practitioners (GPs) were decreasing significantly. SA webpage views, calls to their helpline and information materials dispatched increased significantly after phase one. Website hits/views, and information materials dispatched decreased after phase one; these outcomes increased significantly during phases two and three. After phase one there were significant increases in overall emergency admissions (505, 95% CI = 75 to 935) and patients admitted via A&E (451, 95% CI = 26 to 875). Significantly fewer monthly emergency admissions via GPs were reported after phase three (−19, 95% CI = −29 to −9). Thrombolysis activity per month significantly increased after phases one (3, 95% CI = 1 to 6), and three (3, 95% CI = 1 to 4).
Phase one had a statistically significant impact on information seeking behaviour and emergency admissions, with additional impact that may be attributable to subsequent phases on information seeking behaviour, emergency admissions via GPs, and thrombolysis activity. Future campaigns should be a0ccompanied by evaluation of impact on clinical outcomes such as reduced stroke-related morbidity and mortality.
Around 30% to 62% of older individuals fall each year, with adverse consequences of falls being by no means limited to physical injury and escalating levels of dependence. Many older individuals suffer from a variety of adverse psychosocial difficulties related to falling including fear, anxiety, loss of confidence and subsequent increasing activity avoidance, social isolation and frailty. Such ‘fear of falling’ is common and disabling, but definitive studies examining the effective management of the syndrome are lacking. Cognitive behavioural therapy has been trialed with some success in a group setting, but there is no adequately powered randomised controlled study of an individually based cognitive behavioural therapy intervention, and none using non-mental health professionals to deliver the intervention.
We are conducting a two-phase study examining the role of individual cognitive behavioural therapy delivered by healthcare assistants in improving fear of falling in older adults. In Phase I, the intervention was developed and taught to healthcare assistants, while Phase II is the pragmatic randomised controlled study examining the efficacy of the intervention in improving fear of falling in community-dwelling elders attending falls services. A qualitative process evaluation study informed by Normalization Process Theory is being conducted throughout to examine the potential promoters and inhibitors of introducing such an intervention into routine clinical practice, while a health economic sub-study running alongside the trial is examining the costs and benefits of such an approach to the wider health economy.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN78396615
Fear of falling; Falls; Elders; Community; Randomised controlled trial; Cognitive behavioural therapy; Complex intervention; Normalization process theory
New clinical research findings may require clinicians to change their behaviour to provide high-quality care to people with type 2 diabetes, likely requiring them to change multiple different clinical behaviours. The present study builds on findings from a UK-wide study of theory-based behavioural and organisational factors associated with prescribing, advising, and examining consistent with high-quality diabetes care.
To develop and evaluate the effectiveness and cost of an intervention to improve multiple behaviours in clinicians involved in delivering high-quality care for type 2 diabetes.
We will conduct a two-armed cluster randomised controlled trial in 44 general practices in the North East of England to evaluate a theory-based behaviour change intervention. We will target improvement in six underperformed clinical behaviours highlighted in quality standards for type 2 diabetes: prescribing for hypertension; prescribing for glycaemic control; providing physical activity advice; providing nutrition advice; providing on-going education; and ensuring that feet have been examined. The primary outcome will be the proportion of patients appropriately prescribed and examined (using anonymised computer records), and advised (using anonymous patient surveys) at 12 months. We will use behaviour change techniques targeting motivational, volitional, and impulsive factors that we have previously demonstrated to be predictive of multiple health professional behaviours involved in high-quality type 2 diabetes care. We will also investigate whether the intervention was delivered as designed (fidelity) by coding audiotaped workshops and interventionist delivery reports, and operated as hypothesised (process evaluation) by analysing responses to theory-based postal questionnaires. In addition, we will conduct post-trial qualitative interviews with practice teams to further inform the process evaluation, and a post-trial economic analysis to estimate the costs of the intervention and cost of service use.
Consistent with UK Medical Research Council guidance and building on previous development research, this pragmatic cluster randomised trial will evaluate the effectiveness of a theory-based complex intervention focusing on changing multiple clinical behaviours to improve quality of diabetes care.
Drooling saliva is a common problem in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. The negative consequences of drooling include skin breakdown, dehydration, and damage to clothing and equipment. Children and families often suffer social embarrassment due to drooling. There is no evidence about the relative effectiveness, side effect profiles or patient acceptability of the two medications most commonly used to reduce drooling - glycopyrronium and hyoscine. Consequently, there is no consensus or guideline to aid clinical decisions about which drug to use, and at what dose.
A multi-centre, randomised trial of treatment with glycopyrronium or hyoscine in children with problematic drooling and non-progressive neurodisability. Ninety children aged between 3 and 15 years who have never received medication for drooling will be stratified by severity of drooling and care centre. Randomisation to receive treatment with glycopyrronium or hyoscine will be computer generated from the trial randomisation website. Dose adjustment and side effect monitoring will occur via telephone consultation. Medication arm will be known to participants and clinicians but not the Trial Outcome Assessor.
The primary outcome measure is the Drooling Impact Scale score at four weeks, at which time all children will be on the maximum tolerated dose of their medication. Secondary outcome measures include change in Drooling Impact Scale score between baseline, 4, 12 and 52 weeks, change in Drooling Severity and Frequency Scale score and difference between groups in the Treatment Satisfaction Questionnaire for Medication score. A structured interview with children and young people of sufficient age, cognitive and communication ability will explore their perceptions of drooling and the effectiveness and acceptability of the medications.
The primary objective of the study is to identify whether glycopyrronium or hyoscine is more effective in treating drooling in children with non-progressive neurodisability. The study will also determine which medications at what doses are most acceptable and have fewest side effects. This information will be used to develop evidence based guidance to inform the medical treatment of drooling.
DRI trial registration
Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN75287237.
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA): 17136/0264/001-0003.
Randomised trial; Drooling; Neurodisability; Glycopyrronium; Hyoscine; Children; Treatment satisfaction; Drooling impact scale
Physical activity (PA) and nutrition are the cornerstones of diabetes management. Several reviews and meta-analyses report that PA independently produces clinically important improvements in glucose control in people with Type 2 diabetes. However, it remains unclear what the optimal strategies are to increase PA behaviour in people with Type 2 diabetes in routine primary care.
This study will determine whether an evidence-informed multifaceted behaviour change intervention (Movement as Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes) targeting both consultation behaviour of primary healthcare professionals and PA behaviour in adults with Type 2 diabetes is both acceptable and feasible in the primary care setting. An open pilot study conducted in two primary care practices (phase one) will assess acceptability, feasibility and fidelity. Ongoing feedback from participating primary healthcare professionals and patients will provide opportunities for systematic adaptation and refinement of the intervention and study procedures. A two-arm parallel group clustered pilot randomised controlled trial with patients from participating primary care practices in North East England will assess acceptability, feasibility, and fidelity of the intervention (versus usual clinical care) and trial processes over a 12-month period. Consultation behaviour involving fidelity of intervention delivery, diabetes and PA related knowledge, attitudes/beliefs, intentions and self-efficacy for delivering a behaviour change intervention targeting PA behaviour will be assessed in primary healthcare professionals. We will rehearse the collection of outcome data (with the focus on data yield and quality) for a future definitive trial, through outcome assessment at baseline, one, six and twelve months. An embedded qualitative process evaluation and treatment fidelity assessment will explore issues around intervention implementation and assess whether intervention components can be reliably and faithfully delivered in routine primary care.
Movement as Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes will address an important gap in the evidence-base, that is, the need for interventions to increase free-living PA behaviour in adults with Type 2 diabetes. The multifaceted intervention incorporates an online accredited training programme for primary healthcare professionals and represents, to the best of our knowledge, the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. This study will establish whether the multifaceted behavioural intervention is acceptable and feasible in routine primary care.
Movement as Medicine for Type 2 Diabetes (MaMT2D) was registered with Current Controlled Trials on the 14th January 2012: ISRCTN67997502. The first primary care practice was randomised on the 5th October 2012.
Open pilot; Randomised controlled trial; Behaviour change; Type 2 diabetes; Physical activity; Exercise; Fidelity; Primary care
Stroke imposes significant burdens on health services and society, and as such there is a growing need to assess the cost-effectiveness of stroke treatment to ensure maximum benefit is derived from limited resources. This study compared the cost-effectiveness of treating post-stroke upper limb spasticity with botulinum toxin type A plus an upper limb therapy programme against the therapy programme alone. Data on resource use and health outcomes were prospectively collected for 333 patients with post-stroke upper limb spasticity taking part in a randomized trial and combined to estimate the incremental cost per quality adjusted life year (QALY) gained of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy relative to therapy alone. The base case incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy was £93,500 per QALY gained. The probability of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy being cost-effective at the England and Wales cost-effectiveness threshold value of £20,000 per QALY was 0.36. The point estimates of the ICER remained above £20,000 per QALY for a range of sensitivity analyses, and the probability of botulinum toxin type A plus therapy being cost-effective at the threshold value did not exceed 0.39, regardless of the assumptions made.
botulinum toxin type A; stroke; upper limb spasticity; cost-effectiveness
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.
Childhood intermittent exotropia [X(T)] is a type of strabismus (squint) in which one eye deviates outward at times, usually when the child is tired. It may progress to a permanent squint, loss of stereovision and/or amblyopia (reduced vision). Treatment options for X(T) include eye patches, glasses, surgery and active monitoring. There is no consensus regarding how this condition should be managed, and even when surgery is the preferred option clinicians disagree as to the optimal timing. Reports on the natural history of X(T) are limited, and there is no randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence on the effectiveness or efficiency of surgery compared with active monitoring. The SamExo (Surgery versus Active Monitoring in Intermittent Exotropia) pilot study has been designed to test the feasibility of such a trial in the UK.
Design: an external pilot patient randomised controlled trial.
Setting: four UK secondary ophthalmology care facilities at Newcastle NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust, Sunderland Eye Infirmary, Moorfields Eye Hospital and York NHS Trust.
Participants: children aged between 6 months and 16 years referred with suspected and subsequently diagnosed X(T). Recruitment target is a total of 144 children over a 9-month period, with 120 retained by 9-month outcome visit.
Randomisation: permuted blocks stratified by collaborating centre, age and severity of X(T).
Interventions: initial clinical assessment; randomisation (eye muscle surgery or active monitoring); 3-, 6- and 9-month (primary outcome) clinical assessments; participant/proxy completed questionnaire covering time and travel costs, health services use and quality of life (Intermittent Exotropia Questionnaire); qualitative interviews with parents to establish reasons for agreeing or declining participation in the pilot trial.
Outcomes: recruitment and retention rates; nature and extent of participation bias; nature and extent of biases arising from crossover or loss to follow-up; reasons for agreeing/declining participation; variability of cure rates (to inform power calculations for a definitive RCT); completion rates of outcome measures.
The SamExo pilot trial will provide important pointers regarding the feasibility of a full RCT of immediate surgery versus deferred surgery/active monitoring. The results of this pilot, including differences in cure rates, will inform the design of a definitive RCT.
Intermittent exotropia; Divergent strabismus; Surgery; Feasibility studies; Pilot study; Randomised controlled trial; Children; Parents; Qualitative research
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.
Regular laboratory test monitoring of patient parameters offers a route for improving the quality of chronic disease care. We evaluated the effects of brief educational messages attached to laboratory test reports on diabetes care.
A programme of cluster randomised controlled trials was set in primary care practices in one primary care trust in England. Participants were the primary care practices' constituent healthcare professionals and patients with diabetes. Interventions comprised brief educational messages added to paper and electronic primary care practice laboratory test reports and introduced over two phases. Phase one messages, attached to Haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) reports, targeted glycaemic and cholesterol control. Phase two messages, attached to albumin:creatinine ratio (ACR) reports, targeted blood pressure (BP) control, and foot inspection. Main outcome measures comprised practice mean HbA1c and cholesterol levels, diastolic and systolic BP, and proportions of patients having undergone foot inspections.
Initially, 35 out of 37 eligible practices participated. Outcome data were available for a total of 8,690 patients with diabetes from 32 practices. The BP message produced a statistically significant reduction in diastolic BP (-0.62 mmHg; 95% confidence interval -0.82 to -0.42 mmHg) but not systolic BP (-0.06 mmHg, -0.42 to 0.30 mmHg) and increased the odds of achieving target BP control (odds ratio 1.05; 1.00, 1.10). The foot inspection message increased the likelihood of a recorded foot inspection (incidence rate ratio 1.26; 1.18 to 1.36). The glycaemic control message had no effect on mean HbA1c (increase 0.01%; -0.03 to 0.04) despite increasing the odds of a change in likelihood of HbA1c tests being ordered (OR 1.06; 1.01, 1.11). The cholesterol message had no effect (decrease 0.01 mmol/l, -0.04 to 0.05).
Three out of four interventions improved intermediate outcomes or process of diabetes care. The diastolic BP reduction approximates to relative reductions in mortality of 3% to 5% in stroke and 3% to 4% in ischaemic heart disease over 10 years. The lack of effect for other outcomes may, in part, be explained by difficulties in bringing about further improvements beyond certain thresholds of clinical performance.
Current Controlled Trials, ISRCTN2186314.
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.
GPs investigate approximately half of all infertile couples with semen analysis and endocrine blood tests. For assessment of tubal status, hysterosalpingography (HSG) is recommended as a first-line investigation for women not known to have comorbidities.
To test whether providing GPs with open access to HSG results in infertile couples progressing to a diagnosis and management plan sooner than with usual management.
Design of study
A pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial.
Seventy-one of 173 general practices in north-east England agreed to participate.
A total of 670 infertile couples presented to 33 intervention practices and 25 control practices over a 2-year period. Practices allocated to the intervention group had access to HSG for those infertile women who fulfilled predefined eligibility criteria. The primary outcome measure was the interval between presentation to the GP and the couple receiving a diagnosis and management plan.
An annual incidence of 0.8 couples per 1000 total population equated to each GP seeing an average of one or two infertile couples each year. Open access HSG was used for 9% of all infertile women who presented to the intervention practices during the study period. The time to reach a diagnosis and management plan for all infertile couples presenting was not affected by the availability of open access HSG (Cox regression hazard ratio = 0.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.7 to 1.1). For couples who reached a diagnosis and management plan, there was a non-significant difference in time to primary outcome for intervention versus control practices (32.5 weeks versus 30.5 weeks, mean difference 2.2 weeks, 95% CI = 1.6 to 6.1 weeks, P = 0.1). The intracluster correlation coefficient was 0.03 across all practices.
Providing GPs with open access to HSG had no effect on the time taken to reach a diagnosis and management plan for couples with infertility.
family practice; health services accessibility; hysterosalpingography; infertility; primary health care; randomised controlled trial
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.
Quality of care in general practice may be affected by the team climate perceived by its health and non-health professionals. Better team working is thought to lead to higher effectiveness and quality of care. However, there is limited evidence available on what affects team functioning and its relationship with quality of care in general practice. This study aimed to explore individual and practice factors that were associated with team climate, and to explore the relationship between team climate and quality of care.
Cross sectional survey of a convenience sample of 14 general practices and their staff in South Tyneside in the northeast of England. Team climate was measured using the short version of Team Climate Inventory (TCI) questionnaire. Practice characteristics were collected during a structured interview with practice managers. Quality was measured using the practice Quality and Outcome Framework (QOF) scores.
General Practitioners (GP) had a higher team climate scores compared to other professionals. Individual's gender and tenure, and number of GPs in the practice were significantly predictors of a higher team climate. There was no significant correlation between mean practice team climate scores (or subscales) with QOF scores.
The absence of a relationship between a measure of team climate and quality of care in this exploratory study may be due to a number of methodological problems. Further research is required to explore how to best measure team functioning and its relationship with quality of care.
Within implementation research, using theory-based approaches to understanding the behaviours of healthcare professionals and the quality of care that they reflect and designing interventions to change them is being promoted. However, such approaches lead to a new range of methodological and theoretical challenges pre-eminent among which are how to appropriately relate predictors of individual's behaviour to measures of the behaviour of healthcare professionals. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between the theory of planned behaviour proximal predictors of behaviour (intention and perceived behavioural control, or PBC) and practice level behaviour. This was done in the context of two clinical behaviours – statin prescription and foot examination – in the management of patients with diabetes mellitus in primary care. Scores for the predictor variables were aggregated over healthcare professionals using four methods: simple mean of all primary care team members' intention scores; highest intention score combined with PBC of the highest intender in the team; highest intention score combined with the highest PBC score in the team; the scores (on both constructs) of the team member identified as having primary responsibility for the clinical behaviour.
Scores on theory-based cognitive variables were collected by postal questionnaire survey from a sample of primary care doctors and nurses from northeast England and the Netherlands. Data on two clinical behaviours were patient reported, and collected by postal questionnaire survey. Planned analyses explored the predictive value of various aggregations of intention and PBC in explaining variance in the behavioural data.
Across the two countries and two behaviours, responses were received from 37 to 78% of healthcare professionals in 57 to 93% practices; 51% (UK) and 69% (Netherlands) of patients surveyed responded. None of the aggregations of cognitions predicted statin prescription. The highest intention in the team (irrespective of PBC) was a significant predictor of foot examination.
These approaches to aggregating individually-administered measures may be a methodological advance of theoretical importance. Using simple means of individual-level measures to explain team-level behaviours is neither theoretically plausible nor empirically supported; the highest intention was both predictive and plausible. In studies aiming to understand the behaviours of teams of healthcare professionals in managing chronic diseases, some sort of aggregation of measures from individuals is necessary. This is not simply a methodological point, but a necessary step in advancing the theoretical and practical understanding of the processes that lead to implementation of clinical behaviours within healthcare teams.
Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly prevalent chronic illness and is an important cause of avoidable mortality. Patients are managed by the integrated activities of clinical and non-clinical members of the primary care team. Studies of the quality of care for patients with diabetes suggest less than optimum care in a number of areas.
The aim of this study is to improve the quality of care for patients with diabetes cared for in primary care in the UK by identifying individual, team, and organisational factors that predict the implementation of best practice.
Participants will be clinical and non-clinical staff within 100 general practices sampled from practices who are members of the MRC General Practice Research Framework. Self-completion questionnaires will be developed to measure the attributes of individual health care professionals, primary care teams (including both clinical and non-clinical staff), and their organisation in primary care. Questionnaires will be administered using postal survey methods. A range of validated theories will be used as a framework for the questionnaire instruments. Data relating to a range of dimensions of the organisational structure of primary care will be collected via a telephone interview at each practice using a structured interview schedule. We will also collect data relating to the processes of care, markers of biochemical control, and relevant indicator scores from the quality and outcomes framework (QOF). Process data (as a proxy indicator of clinical behaviours) will be collected from practice databases and via a postal questionnaire survey of a random selection of patients from each practice. Levels of biochemical control will be extracted from practice databases. A series of analyses will be conducted to relate the individual, team, and organisational data to the process, control, and QOF data to identify configurations associated with high quality care.
UKCRN ref:DRN120 (ICPD)
Following a stroke, 55–75% of patients experience upper limb problems in the longer term. Upper limb spasticity may cause pain, deformity and reduced function, affecting mood and independence. Botulinum toxin is used increasingly to treat focal spasticity, but its impact on upper limb function after stroke is unclear.
The aim of this study is to evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of botulinum toxin type A plus an upper limb therapy programme in the treatment of post stroke upper limb spasticity.
Trial design : A multi-centre open label parallel group randomised controlled trial and economic evaluation.
Participants : Adults with upper limb spasticity at the shoulder, elbow, wrist or hand and reduced upper limb function due to stroke more than 1 month previously.
Interventions : Botulinum toxin type A plus upper limb therapy (intervention group) or upper limb therapy alone (control group).
Outcomes : Outcome assessments are undertaken at 1, 3 and 12 months. The primary outcome is upper limb function one month after study entry measured by the Action Research Arm Test (ARAT). Secondary outcomes include: spasticity (Modified Ashworth Scale); grip strength; dexterity (Nine Hole Peg Test); disability (Barthel Activities of Daily Living Index); quality of life (Stroke Impact Scale, Euroqol EQ-5D) and attainment of patient-selected goals (Canadian Occupational Performance Measure). Health and social services resource use, adverse events, use of other antispasticity treatments and patient views on the treatment will be compared. Participants are clinically reassessed at 3, 6 and 9 months to determine the need for repeat botulinum toxin type A and/or therapy.
Randomisation : A web based central independent randomisation service.
Blinding : Outcome assessments are undertaken by an assessor who is blinded to the randomisation group.
Sample size : 332 participants provide 80% power to detect a 15% difference in treatment successes between intervention and control groups. Treatment success is defined as improvement of 3 points for those with a baseline ARAT of 0–3 and 6 points for those with ARAT of 4–56.
National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment Programme.
Ipsen Ltd provide botulinum toxin type A (Dysport®).
Psychological theories of behaviour may provide a framework to guide the design of interventions to change professional behaviour. Behaviour change interventions, designed using psychological theory and targeting important motivational beliefs, were experimentally evaluated for effects on the behavioural intention and simulated behaviour of GPs in the management of uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection (URTI).
The design was a 2 × 2 factorial randomised controlled trial. A postal questionnaire was developed based on three theories of human behaviour: Theory of Planned Behaviour; Social Cognitive Theory and Operant Learning Theory. The beliefs and attitudes of GPs regarding the management of URTI without antibiotics and rates of prescribing on eight patient scenarios were measured at baseline and post-intervention. Two theory-based interventions, a "graded task" with "action planning" and a "persuasive communication", were incorporated into the post-intervention questionnaire. Trial groups were compared using co-variate analyses.
Post-intervention questionnaires were returned for 340/397 (86%) GPs who responded to the baseline survey. Each intervention had a significant effect on its targeted behavioural belief: compared to those not receiving the intervention GPs completing Intervention 1 reported stronger self-efficacy scores (Beta = 1.41, 95% CI: 0.64 to 2.25) and GPs completing Intervention 2 had more positive anticipated consequences scores (Beta = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.46 to 1.98). Intervention 2 had a significant effect on intention (Beta = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.41 to 1.38) and simulated behaviour (Beta = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.19 to 0.74).
GPs' intended management of URTI was significantly influenced by their confidence in their ability to manage URTI without antibiotics and the consequences they anticipated as a result of doing so. Two targeted behaviour change interventions differentially affected these beliefs. One intervention also significantly enhanced GPs' intentions not to prescribe antibiotics for URTI and resulted in lower rates of prescribing on patient scenarios compared to a control group. The theoretical frameworks utilised provide a scientific rationale for understanding how and why the interventions had these effects, improving the reproducibility and generalisability of these findings and offering a sound basis for an intervention in a "real world" trial.
Evidence shows that antibiotics have limited effectiveness in the management of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) yet GPs continue to prescribe antibiotics. Implementation research does not currently provide a strong evidence base to guide the choice of interventions to promote the uptake of such evidence-based practice by health professionals. While systematic reviews demonstrate that interventions to change clinical practice can be effective, heterogeneity between studies hinders generalisation to routine practice. Psychological models of behaviour change that have been used successfully to predict variation in behaviour in the general population can also predict the clinical behaviour of healthcare professionals. The purpose of this study was to design two theoretically-based interventions to promote the management of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) without prescribing antibiotics.
Interventions were developed using a systematic, empirically informed approach in which we: selected theoretical frameworks; identified modifiable behavioural antecedents that predicted GPs intended and actual management of URTI; mapped these target antecedents on to evidence-based behaviour change techniques; and operationalised intervention components in a format suitable for delivery by postal questionnaire.
We identified two psychological constructs that predicted GP management of URTI: "Self-efficacy," representing belief in one's capabilities, and "Anticipated consequences," representing beliefs about the consequences of one's actions. Behavioural techniques known to be effective in changing these beliefs were used in the design of two paper-based, interactive interventions. Intervention 1 targeted self-efficacy and required GPs to consider progressively more difficult situations in a "graded task" and to develop an "action plan" of what to do when next presented with one of these situations. Intervention 2 targeted anticipated consequences and required GPs to respond to a "persuasive communication" containing a series of pictures representing the consequences of managing URTI with and without antibiotics.
It is feasible to systematically develop theoretically-based interventions to change professional practice. Two interventions were designed that differentially target generalisable constructs predictive of GP management of URTI. Our detailed and scientific rationale for the choice and design of our interventions will provide a basis for understanding any effects identified in their evaluation.
For people with dementia, patient-centred care should involve timely explanation of the diagnosis and its implications. However, this is not routine. Theoretical models of behaviour change offer a generalisable framework for understanding professional practice and identifying modifiable factors to target with an intervention. Theoretical models and empirical work indicate that behavioural intention represents a modifiable predictor of actual professional behaviour. We identified factors that predict the intentions of members of older people's mental health teams (MHTs) to perform key behaviours involved in the disclosure of dementia.
Postal questionnaire survey.
Professionals from MHTs in the English National Health Service.
We selected three behaviours: Determining what patients already know or suspect about their diagnosis; using explicit terminology when talking to patients; and exploring what the diagnosis means to patients. The questionnaire was based upon the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), and exploratory team variables.
Out of 1,269 professionals working in 85 MHTs, 399 (31.4%) returned completed questionnaires. Overall, the TPB best explained behavioural intention. For determining what patients already know, the TPB variables of subjective norm, perceived behavioural control and attitude explained 29.4% of the variance in intention. For the use of explicit terminology, the same variables explained 53.7% of intention. For exploring what the diagnosis means to patients, subjective norm and perceived behavioural control explained 48.6% of intention.
These psychological models can explain up to half of the variation in intention to perform key disclosure behaviours. This provides an empirically-supported, theoretical basis for the design of interventions to improve disclosure practice by targeting relevant predictive factors.
Biomedical research constantly produces new findings, but these are not routinely incorporated into health care practice. Currently, a range of interventions to promote the uptake of emerging evidence are available. While their effectiveness has been tested in pragmatic trials, these do not form a basis from which to generalise to routine care settings. Implementation research is the scientific study of methods to promote the uptake of research findings, and hence to reduce inappropriate care. As clinical practice is a form of human behaviour, theories of human behaviour that have proved to be useful in other settings offer a basis for developing a scientific rationale for the choice of interventions.
The aims of this protocol are 1) to develop interventions to change beliefs that have already been identified as antecedents to antibiotic prescribing for sore throats, and 2) to experimentally evaluate these interventions to identify those that have the largest impact on behavioural intention and behavioural simulation.
The clinical focus for this work will be the management of uncomplicated sore throat in general practice. Symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections are common presenting features in primary care. They are frequently treated with antibiotics, and research evidence is clear that antibiotic treatment offers little or no benefit to otherwise healthy adult patients.
Reducing antibiotic prescribing in the community by the "prudent" use of antibiotics is seen as one way to slow the rise in antibiotic resistance, and appears safe, at least in children. However, our understanding of how to do this is limited.
Participants will be general medical practitioners. Two theory-based interventions will be designed to address the discriminant beliefs in the prescribing of antibiotics for sore throat, using empirically derived resources. The interventions will be evaluated in a 2 × 2 factorial randomised controlled trial delivered in a postal questionnaire survey. Two outcome measures will be assessed: behavioural intention and behavioural simulation.