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1.  Disinvestment policy and the public funding of assisted reproductive technologies: outcomes of deliberative engagements with three key stakeholder groups 
Background
Measures to improve the quality and sustainability of healthcare practice and provision have become a policy concern. In addition, the involvement of stakeholders in health policy decision-making has been advocated, as complex questions arise around the structure of funding arrangements in a context of limited resources. Using a case study of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), deliberative engagements with a range of stakeholder groups were held on the topic of how best to structure the distribution of Australian public funding in this domain.
Methods
Deliberative engagements were carried out with groups of ART consumers, clinicians and community members. The forums were informed by a systematic review of ART treatment safety and effectiveness (focusing, in particular, on maternal age and number of treatment cycles), as well as by international policy comparisons, and ethical and cost analyses. Forum discussions were transcribed and subject to thematic analysis.
Results
Each forum demonstrated stakeholders’ capacity to understand concepts of choice under resource scarcity and disinvestment, and to countenance options for ART funding not always aligned with their interests. Deliberations in each engagement identified concerns around ‘equity’ and ‘patient responsibility’, culminating in a broad preference for (potential) ART subsidy restrictions to be based upon individual factors rather than maternal age or number of treatment cycles. Community participants were open to restrictions based upon measures of body mass index (BMI) and smoking status, while consumers and clinicians saw support to improve these factors as part of an ART treatment program, as distinct from a funding criterion. All groups advocated continued patient co-payments, with measures in place to provide treatment access to those unable to pay (namely, equity of access).
Conclusions
Deliberations yielded qualitative, socially-negotiated evidence required to inform ethical, accountable policy decisions in the specific area of ART and health care more broadly. Notably, reductionist, deterministic characterizations of stakeholder ‘self-interest’ proved unfounded as each group sought to prioritise universal values (in particular, ‘equity’ and ‘responsibility’) over specific, within-group concerns. Our results - from an emotive case study in ART - highlight that evidence-informed disinvestment decision-making is feasible, and potentially less controversial than often presumed.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-204
PMCID: PMC4016640  PMID: 24885716
Australia; Evidence-based health policy; Deliberative methods; Discourse analysis; Disinvestment; Assisted reproductive technology
2.  Use of Web 2.0 to Recruit Australian Gay Men to an Online HIV/AIDS Survey 
Background
Continuous prevention efforts for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) are recommended among those men who have sex with men (MSM). Creative use of e-technologies coupled with a better understanding of social networks could lead to improved health interventions among this risk population.
Objective
The aims of the study were to (1) compare the impact of various advertising strategies on recruiting MSM participants to an online HIV/AIDS survey, and (2) explore the feasibility of using a social network service (SNS) for study advertising.
Methods
A cross-sectional online survey was conducted in 2009. South Australian men over 18 years were invited to participate if they had had sexual intercourse with men in the previous year. A short questionnaire was used to collect demographics and information on sexual behavior, HIV history, use of the Internet for dating purposes, and sources of health information. The survey was promoted in community settings and online, including advertisements through social networks.
Results
A total of 243 men completed the online survey during the 8-week data collection period. Online advertisements recruited 91.7% (220/240) of the sample. Conversely, traditional advertisements in the community recruited only 5.8% (14/240) of the sample. Ten volunteers were asked to advertise on their personal SNS application, but only 2 effectively did so. Only 18/240 (7.5%) of the respondents reported having learned of our study through the SNS application. In this sample, 19.3% (47/243) of participants had never been tested for HIV. Among the participants who had been tested, 12.8% (25/196) reported being HIV-positive. Regarding Internet use, 82.3% (200/243) of participants had dated online in the previous 6 months. Among the participants who had dated online, most (175/200, 87.5%) had found an Internet sexual partner and two-thirds (132/200, 66.0%) had had anal sex with these partner(s). Among men who had anal sex with an Internet partner, 68.2% (90/132) used a condom during sex.
Conclusions
The MSM participants in this study had high-risk profiles for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which highlights the need for ongoing health interventions among this group. In this study, the SNS marketing strategy did not appear to create a viral effect and it had a relatively poor yield.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1819
PMCID: PMC3510723  PMID: 23128646
Internet; advertising; HIV; Australia; homosexuality; male
3.  Smoking and primary total hip or knee replacement due to osteoarthritis in 54,288 elderly men and women 
Background
The reported association of smoking with risk of undergoing a total joint replacement (TJR) due to osteoarthritis (OA) is not consistent. We evaluated the independent association between smoking and primary TJR in a large cohort.
Methods
The electronic records of 54,288 men and women, who were initially recruited for the Second Australian National Blood Pressure study, were linked to the Australian Orthopaedic Association National Joint Replacement Registry to detect total hip replacement (THR) or total knee replacement (TKR) due to osteoarthritis. Competing risk regressions that accounted for the competing risk of death estimated the subhazard ratios for TJR. One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were undertaken to represent uncertainty in the classification of smoking exposure and socioeconomic disadvantage scores.
Results
An independent inverse association was found between smoking and risk of THR and TKR observed in both men and women. Compared to non-smokers, male and female smokers were respectively 40% and 30% less likely to undergo a TJR. This significant association persisted after controlling for age, co-morbidities, body mass index (BMI), physical exercise, and socioeconomic disadvantage. The overweight and obese were significantly more likely to undergo TJR compared to those with normal weight. A dose–response relationship between BMI and TJR was observed (P < 0.001). Socioeconomic status was not independently associated with risk of either THR or TKR.
Conclusion
The strengths of the inverse association between smoking and TJR, the temporal relationship of the association, together with the consistency in the findings warrant further investigation about the role of smoking in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis causing TJR.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-14-262
PMCID: PMC3844303  PMID: 24006845
Total joint replacement; Smoking; Socioeconomic status; Exposure misclassification; Sensitivity analysis
4.  Views and experiences of nurse practitioners and medical practitioners with collaborative practice in primary health care – an integrative review 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:132.
Background
This integrative review synthesises research studies that have investigated the perceptions of nurse practitioners and medical practitioners working in primary health care. The aggregation of evidence on barriers and facilitators to working collaboratively and experiences about the processes of collaboration is of value to understand success factors and factors that impede collaborative working relationships.
Methods
An integrative review, which used systematic review processes, was undertaken to summarise qualitative and quantitative studies published between 1990 and 2012. Databases searched were the Cochrane Library, the Joanna Briggs Institute Library, PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, Informit and ProQuest. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were assessed for quality. Study findings were extracted relating to a) barriers and facilitators to collaborative working and b) views and experiences about the process of collaboration. The findings were narratively synthesised, supported by tabulation.
Results
27 studies conducted in seven different countries met the inclusion criteria. Content analysis identified a number of barriers and facilitators of collaboration between nurse practitioners and medical practitioners. By means of data comparison five themes were developed in relation to perceptions and understanding of collaboration. Nurse practitioners and medical practitioners have differing views on the essentials of collaboration and on supervision and autonomous nurse practitioner practice. Medical practitioners who have a working experience with NPs express more positive attitudes towards collaboration. Both professional groups report concerns and negative experiences with collaborative practice but also value certain advantages of collaboration.
Conclusions
The review shows that working in collaboration is a slow progression. Exposure to working together helps to overcome professional hurdles, dispel concerns and provide clarity around roles and the meaning of collaboration of NPs and MPs. Guidelines on liability and better funding strategies are necessary to facilitate collaborative practice whether barriers lie in individual behaviours or in broader policies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-132
PMCID: PMC3846155  PMID: 24007269
Collaboration; Cooperative behaviour; Interprofessional relations; Attitude of health personnel; Nurse practitioners; Primary health care
5.  Home Videophones Improve Direct Observation in Tuberculosis Treatment: A Mixed Methods Evaluation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50155.
Background
The use of direct observation to monitor tuberculosis treatment is controversial: cost, practical difficulties, and lack of patient acceptability limit effectiveness. Telehealth is a promising alternative delivery method for improving implementation. This study aimed to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of a telehealth service delivering direct observation, compared to an in-person drive-around service.
Methodology/Principal Findings
The study was conducted within a community nursing service in South Australia. Telehealth patients received daily video calls at home on a desktop videophone provided by the nursing call center. A retrospective cohort study assessed the effectiveness of the telehealth and traditional forms of observation, defined by the proportion of missed observations recorded in case notes. This data was inputted to a model, estimating the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of telehealth. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with current patients, community nursing and Chest Clinic staff, concerning service acceptability, usability and sustainability. The percentage of missed observations for the telehealth service was 12.1 (n = 58), compared to 31.1 for the in-person service (n = 70). Most of the difference of 18.9% (95% CI: 12.2 – 25.4) was due to fewer pre-arranged absences. The economic analysis calculated the ICER to be AUD$1.32 (95% CI: $0.51 – $2.26) per extra day of successful observation. The video service used less staff time, and became dominant if implemented on a larger scale and/or with decreased technology costs. Qualitative analysis found enabling factors of flexible timing, high patient acceptance, staff efficiency, and Chest Clinic support. Substantial technical problems were manageable, and improved liaison between the nursing service and Chest Clinic was an unexpected side-benefit.
Conclusions/Significance
Home video observation is a patient-centered, resource efficient way of delivering direct observation for TB, and is cost-effective when compared with a drive-around service. Future research is recommended to determine applicability and effectiveness in other settings.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050155
PMCID: PMC3511425  PMID: 23226243
6.  Knowledge and beliefs about antibiotics among people in Yogyakarta City Indonesia: a cross sectional population-based survey 
Background
Misconceptions about antibiotic use among community members potentially lead to inappropriate use of antibiotics in the community. This population-based study was aimed at examining common knowledge and beliefs about antibiotic use of people in an urban area of Indonesia.
Methods
The population of the study was adults (over 18 years old) in Yogyakarta City. A cluster random sampling technique was applied (N = 640). Data were collected using a pre-tested questionnaire and analyzed using descriptive statistics and correlation.
Results
A total of 625 respondents was approached and 559 respondents completed the questionnaire (90% response rate). Out of 559 respondents, 283 (51%) are familiar with antibiotics. Out of 283 respondents who are familiar with antibiotics, more than half have appropriate knowledge regarding antibiotic resistance (85%), allergic reactions (70%), and their effectiveness for bacterial infections (76%). Half these respondents know that antibiotics ought not to be used immediately for fever (50%). More than half have incorrect knowledge regarding antibiotics for viral infections (71%). More than half believe that antibiotics can prevent illnesses from becoming worse (74%). Fewer than half believe that antibiotics have no side effects (24%), that antibiotics can cure any disease (40%), and that antibiotic powders poured onto the skin can quickly cure injuries (37%). Those who are uncertain with these beliefs ranged from 25% to 40%. Generally, these respondents have moderate knowledge; where the median is 3 with a range of 0 to 5 (out of a potential maximum of 5). Median of scores of beliefs is 13 (4 to 19; potential range: 4 to 20). The results of correlation analysis show that those with appropriate knowledge regarding antibiotics would also quite likely have more appropriate beliefs regarding antibiotics. The correlation is highest for those who are male, young participants, with higher education levels, and have a higher income level.
Conclusions
Misconceptions regarding antibiotic use exist among people in this study. Therefore, improving appropriate knowledge regarding antibiotic use is required.
doi:10.1186/2047-2994-1-38
PMCID: PMC3546903  PMID: 23176763
Knowledge; Beliefs; Antibiotics; Self medication
7.  Use of routine hospital morbidity data together with weight and height of patients to predict in-hospital complications following total joint replacement 
Background
Routinely collected data such as hospital morbidity data (HMD) are increasingly used in studying clinical outcomes among patients undergoing total joint replacement (TJR). These data are readily available and cover large populations. However, since these data were not originally collected for the purpose of health research, a rigorous assessment of their quality is required. We assessed the accuracy of the diagnosis of obesity in HMD and evaluated whether the augmentation of HMD with actual weight and height of patients could improve their ability to predict major in-hospital complications following total joint replacement in men.
Methods
The electronic records of 857 participants in the Health In Men Study (HIMS) who had had TJR were linked with Western Australia HMD. HMD-recorded diagnosis of obesity was validated using the actual weight and height obtained from HIMS. In-hospital major complications were modelled using multivariable logistic regressions that either included the actual weight and height or HMD-recorded obesity. Model discrimination was calculated using area under ROC curve.
Results
The HMD failed to detect 70% of the obese patients. Only 64 patients (7.5%) were recorded in HMD as obese although 216 (25%) were obese [BMI: ≥30kg/m2] (sensitivity: 0.2, positive predictive value: 0.7). Overall, 174 patients (20%) developed an in-hospital major complication which was significantly higher in the overweight and obese comparing with patients with normal weight. HMD-recorded obesity was not independently associated with major complications, whereas a dose–response relationship between weight and these complications was observed (P=0.004). Using the actual weight and height of the participants instead of HMD-recorded diagnosis of obesity improved model discrimination by 9%, with areas under ROC curve of: 0.69, 95% CI: 0.64-0.73 for the model with HMD-recorded obesity compared with 0.75, 95% CI: 0.70-0.79 for the model with actual weight and height, P<0.001.
Conclusion
Body weight is an important risk factor for in-hospital complications in patients undergoing TJR. HMD systems do not include weight and height as variables whose recording is mandatory. Augmenting HMD with patients’ weight and height may improve prediction of major complications following TJR. Our study suggests making these variables mandatory in any hospital morbidity data system.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-380
PMCID: PMC3528631  PMID: 23116422
8.  The ASTUTE Health study protocol: Deliberative stakeholder engagements to inform implementation approaches to healthcare disinvestment 
Background
Governments and other payers are yet to determine optimal processes by which to review the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of technologies and procedures that are in active use within health systems, and rescind funding (partially or fully) from those that display poor profiles against these parameters. To further progress a disinvestment agenda, a model is required to support payers in implementing disinvestment in a transparent manner that may withstand challenge from vested interests and concerned citizens. Combining approaches from health technology assessment and deliberative democratic theory, this project seeks to determine if and how wide stakeholder engagement can contribute to improved decision-making processes, wherein the views of both vested and non-vested stakeholders are seen to contribute to informing policy implementation within a disinvestment context.
Methods/design
Systematic reviews pertaining to illustrative case studies were developed and formed the evidence base for discussion. Review findings were presented at a series of deliberative, evidence-informed stakeholder engagements, including partisan (clinicians and consumers) and non-partisan (representative community members) stakeholders. Participants were actively facilitated towards identifying shared and dissenting perspectives regarding public funding policy for each of the case studies and developing their own funding models in response to the evidence presented. Policy advisors will subsequently be invited to evaluate disinvestment options based on the scientific and colloquial evidence presented to them, and to explore the value of this information to their decision-making processes with reference to disinvestment.
Discussion
Analysis of the varied outputs of the deliberative engagements will contribute to the methodological development around how to best integrate scientific and colloquial evidence for consideration by policy advisors. It may contribute to the legitimization of broad and transparent stakeholder engagement in this context. It is anticipated that decision making will benefit from the knowledge delivered through informed deliberation with engaged stakeholders, and this will be explored through interviews with key decision makers.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-101
PMCID: PMC3520863  PMID: 23088222
Public participation; User involvement; Disinvestment; Policy
9.  Planned Vaginal Birth or Elective Repeat Caesarean: Patient Preference Restricted Cohort with Nested Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(3):e1001192.
A study conducted in Australia provides new data on the outcomes for mother and baby associated with either planned vaginal birth, or elective repeat caesarean section following a previous caesarean section.
Background
Uncertainty exists about benefits and harms of a planned vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) compared with elective repeat caesarean (ERC). We conducted a prospective restricted cohort study consisting of a patient preference cohort study, and a small nested randomised trial to compare benefits and risks of a planned ERC with planned VBAC.
Methods and findings
2,345 women with one prior caesarean, eligible for VBAC at term, were recruited from 14 Australian maternity hospitals. Women were assigned by patient preference (n = 2,323) or randomisation (n = 22) to planned VBAC (1,225 patient preference, 12 randomised) or planned ERC (1,098 patient preference, ten randomised). The primary outcome was risk of fetal death or death of liveborn infant before discharge or serious infant outcome. Data were analysed for the 2,345 women (100%) and infants enrolled.
The risk of fetal death or liveborn infant death prior to discharge or serious infant outcome was significantly lower for infants born in the planned ERC group compared with infants in the planned VBAC group (0.9% versus 2.4%; relative risk [RR] 0.39; 95% CI 0.19–0.80; number needed to treat to benefit 66; 95% CI 40–200). Fewer women in the planned ERC group compared with women in the planned VBAC had a major haemorrhage (blood loss ≥1,500 ml and/or blood transfusion), (0.8% [9/1,108] versus 2.3% [29/1,237]; RR 0.37; 95% CI 0.17–0.80).
Conclusions
Among women with one prior caesarean, planned ERC compared with planned VBAC was associated with a lower risk of fetal and infant death or serious infant outcome. The risk of major maternal haemorrhage was reduced with no increase in maternal or perinatal complications to time of hospital discharge. Women, clinicians, and policy makers can use this information to develop health advice and make decisions about care for women who have had a previous caesarean.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN53974531
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Rates of caesarean section are rising around the world, particularly in high- and middle-income countries, where most women have a choice of how their baby is delivered. Historically, the obstetrician in charge of the woman's care made the decision on whether to perform an elective (planned) caesarean section based on medical criteria. For women who have had a previous caesarean section, typically, their options for mode of childbirth are either a trial of vaginal birth or an elective repeat caesarean section. The proportion of women attempting a vaginal birth after a previous caesarean section has been declining in many countries partly due to the variable chance of achieving a successful vaginal birth (reported between 56% and 80%) and partly because of negative reports of the risk of complications, both to the mother and the baby, of a having a vaginal delivery following a caesarean section. Consequently, the rates of repeat caesarean section have risen sharply, for example, currently 83% in Australia and almost 90% in the US.
Why Was This Study Done?
Both elective repeat caesarean section and subsequent vaginal delivery after a previous caesarean section have clinical risks and benefits. Most obviously, having a surgical procedure puts the woman having the repeat caesarean section at risk of surgical complications, especially if performed under a general anesthetic, and her baby may be at risk of respiratory complications. However, subsequent vaginal delivery following a previous caesarean section may put the mother at risk of bleeding severely enough to need a blood transfusion (more than 1,500 ml blood loss) and she may also be at increased risk of rupturing her uterus; and her baby may have an increased risk of dying or of becoming brain damaged due to lack of oxygen.
However, to date there have been no randomized controlled trials of elective repeat caesarean section versus vaginal delivery following a previous caesarean section to compare the health outcomes of mother and baby and a recent systematic review could draw no conclusions. So the researchers conducted this prospective cohort study based on patient preference (with a few women agreeing to be randomized to mode of delivery), to compare the health outcomes for mother and baby for elective repeat caesarean section versus vaginal delivery in women following a previous caesarean section.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 2002 and 2007, the researchers recruited 2,345 suitable women (that is, women who had one previous caesarean section, were currently 37 weeks pregnant with a single baby, and who were clinically able to have a vaginal delivery) from 14 maternity hospitals throughout Australia. A few women (22) agreed to be randomized to either mode of delivery but most women chose her preferred option. Then, depending on the woman's preferences for mode of birth, participating obstetricians either scheduled a date for an elective caesarean section (1,098 women) or assessed on-going suitability for the woman to have a planned vaginal delivery (1,225 women). However only 535 (43.2%) women who chose to have a vaginal birth were able to deliver this way because of failure to progress in labor or fetal distress: 334 of these women (27.0%) had to have an elective caesarean section and 368 women had to have an emergency caesarean section.
Although no women died, women who had a planned caesarean section experienced less severe bleeding than women who delivered vaginally. There were no infant deaths in those born by elective caesarean section but two unexplained stillbirths in the planned vaginal delivery group. There was also a reduced risk of nonfatal serious outcome before discharge from hospital for infants delivered by in the elective caesarean section. The researchers calculated that one infant death or near death would be prevented for every 66 elective caesarean sections performed in women who had a previous caesarean section.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in women who had delivered by a previous caesarean section delivering their next baby by planned caesarean section was associated with less infant death and better health outcomes for the mother before she was discharged from the hospital compared to women who had a subsequent vaginal delivery. This information can be used by women, clinicians, and policy makers in helping to make decisions about the mode of subsequent deliveries and best care for women who have had a previous caesarean section.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001192.
This study is linked to a PLoS Medicine Research Article by Fitzpatrick and colleagues and a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Catherine Spong
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has information sheets for patients on caesarean sections and on vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
Childbirth Connection, a US-based not-for-profit organization, provides information about caesarean sections and about vaginal birth after caesarean
The National Childbirth Trust, a UK charity, provides information for parents on all aspects of pregnancy and birth, including caesarean sections and vaginal birth after caesarean delivery
The UK charity Healthtalkonline has personal stories from women making decisions about birth after a caesarean section
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001192
PMCID: PMC3302845  PMID: 22427749
10.  Self medication with antibiotics in Yogyakarta City Indonesia: a cross sectional population-based survey 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:491.
Background
Self medication with antibiotics has become an important factor driving antibiotic resistance. This study investigated the period prevalence, patterns of use, and socio-demographic factors associated with self medication with antibiotics in Yogyakarta City Indonesia. This cross-sectional population-based survey used a pre-tested questionnaire which was self-administered to randomly selected respondents (over 18 years old) in Yogyakarta City Indonesia in 2010 (N = 625). Descriptive statistics, chi-square and logistic regression were applied.
Results
A total of 559 questionnaires were analyzed (response rate = 90%). The period prevalence of self medication with antibiotics during the month prior to the study was 7.3%. Amoxicillin was the most popular (77%) antibiotic for self medication besides ampicilline, fradiomisin-gramisidin, tetracycline, and ciprofloxacin to treat the following symptoms: the common-cold including cough and sore throat, headache, and other minor symptoms; with the length of use was mostly less than five days. Doctors or pharmacists were the most common source of information about antibiotics for self medication (52%). Antibiotics were usually purchased without prescription in pharmacies (64%) and the cost of the purchases was commonly less than US $1 (30%). Previous experience was reported to be the main reason for using non-prescribed antibiotics (54%). There were no socio-demographic variables significantly associated with the actual practice of using non-prescribed antibiotics. However, gender, health insurance, and marital status were significantly associated with the intent to self medicate with antibiotics (P < 0.05). Being male (Odds Ratio = 1.7 (1.2 - 2.6)) and having no health insurance (Odds Ratio = 1.5 (1.0 -2.3)) is associated with the intent to self medicate with antibiotics.
Conclusions
This study is the first population-based study of self-medication with antibiotics among the Indonesian population. Usage of non-prescribed antibiotics as well as intent of doing so is common across socio-demographic categories. Given the findings, factors influencing people's intentions to self medicate with antibiotics are required to be investigated to better understand such behavior. Impact of health insurance coverage on self medication with antibiotics should also be further investigated.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-491
PMCID: PMC3273454  PMID: 22078122
11.  Smokers' recall of Australian graphic cigarette packet warnings & awareness of associated health effects, 2005-2008 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:238.
Background
In 2006, Australia introduced graphic cigarette packet warnings. The new warnings include one of 14 pictures, many depicting tobacco-related pathology. The warnings were introduced in two sets; Set A in March and Set B from November. This study explores their impact on smokers' beliefs about smoking related illnesses. This study also examines the varying impact of different warnings, to see whether warnings with visceral images have greater impact on smokers' beliefs than other images.
Methods
Representative samples of South Australian smokers were interviewed in four independent cross-sectional omnibus surveys; in 2005 (n = 504), 2006 (n = 525), 2007 (n = 414) and 2008 (n = 464).
Results
Unprompted recall of new graphic cigarette warnings was high in the months following their introduction, demonstrating that smokers' had been exposed to them. Smokers also demonstrated an increase in awareness about smoking-related diseases specific to the warning messages. Warnings that conveyed new information and had emotive images demonstrated greater impact on recall and smokers' beliefs than more familiar information and less emotive images.
Conclusions
Overall graphic pack warnings have had the intended impact on smokers. Some have greater impact than others. The implications for policy makers in countries introducing similar warnings are that fresh messaging and visceral images have the greatest impact.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-238
PMCID: PMC3096906  PMID: 21496314
12.  Relationship of social factors including trust, control over life decisions, problems with transport and safety, to psychological distress in the community 
Purpose
Psychological distress encompasses anxiety and depression with the previous studies showing that psychological distress is unequally distributed across population groups. This paper explores the mechanisms and processes which may affect the distribution of psychological distress, including a range of individual and community level socioeconomic determinants.
Methods
Representative cross-sectional data was collected for respondents aged 16+ from July 2008 to June 2009, as a part of the South Australian Monitoring and Surveillance System (SAMSS) using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). Univariate and multivariate analyses (n = 5,763) were conducted to investigate the variables that were associated with psychological distress.
Results
The overall prevalence of psychological distress was 8.9%. In the multivariate model, females, those aged 16–49, respondents single with children, unable to work or unemployed, with a poorer family financial situation, earning $20,000 or less, feeling safe in their home some or none of the time, feeling as though they have less then total control over life decisions and sometimes experiencing problems with transport, were significantly more likely to experience psychological distress.
Conclusions
This paper has demonstrated the relationship between low-income, financial pressure, less than optimal safety and control, and high-psychological distress. It is important that the groups highlighted as vulnerable be targeted in policy, planning, and health promotion and prevention campaigns.
doi:10.1007/s00127-011-0354-z
PMCID: PMC3279646  PMID: 21350810
Psychological distress; Depression; Population survey; Lifestyle; Public health epidemiology
14.  Including the public in pandemic planning: a deliberative approach 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:501.
Background
Against a background of pandemic threat posed by SARS and avian H5N1 influenza, this study used deliberative forums to elucidate informed community perspectives on aspects of pandemic planning.
Methods
Two deliberative forums were carried out with members of the South Australian community. The forums were supported by a qualitative study with adults and youths, systematic reviews of the literature and the involvement of an extended group of academic experts and policy makers. The forum discussions were recorded with simultaneous transcription and analysed thematically.
Results
Participants allocated scarce resources of antiviral drugs and pandemic vaccine based on a desire to preserve society function in a time of crisis. Participants were divided on the acceptability of social distancing and quarantine measures. However, should such measures be adopted, they thought that reasonable financial, household and psychological support was essential. In addition, provided such support was present, the participants, in general, were willing to impose strict sanctions on those who violated quarantine and social distancing measures.
Conclusions
The recommendations from the forums suggest that the implementation of pandemic plans in a severe pandemic will be challenging, but not impossible. Implementation may be more successful if the public is engaged in pandemic planning before a pandemic, effective communication of key points is practiced before and during a pandemic and if judicious use is made of supportive measures to assist those in quarantine or affected by social isolation measures.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-501
PMCID: PMC2931476  PMID: 20718996
15.  A systematic review of economic analyses of telehealth services using real time video communication 
Background
Telehealth is the delivery of health care at a distance, using information and communication technology. The major rationales for its introduction have been to decrease costs, improve efficiency and increase access in health care delivery. This systematic review assesses the economic value of one type of telehealth delivery - synchronous or real time video communication - rather than examining a heterogeneous range of delivery modes as has been the case with previous reviews in this area.
Methods
A systematic search was undertaken for economic analyses of the clinical use of telehealth, ending in June 2009. Studies with patient outcome data and a non-telehealth comparator were included. Cost analyses, non-comparative studies and those where patient satisfaction was the only health outcome were excluded.
Results
36 articles met the inclusion criteria. 22(61%) of the studies found telehealth to be less costly than the non-telehealth alternative, 11(31%) found greater costs and 3 (9%) gave the same or mixed results. 23 of the studies took the perspective of the health services, 12 were societal, and one was from the patient perspective. In three studies of telehealth to rural areas, the health services paid more for telehealth, but due to savings in patient travel, the societal perspective demonstrated cost savings. In regard to health outcomes, 12 (33%) of studies found improved health outcomes, 21 (58%) found outcomes were not significantly different, 2(6%) found that telehealth was less effective, and 1 (3%) found outcomes differed according to patient group. The organisational model of care was more important in determining the value of the service than the clinical discipline, the type of technology, or the date of the study.
Conclusion
Delivery of health services by real time video communication was cost-effective for home care and access to on-call hospital specialists, showed mixed results for rural service delivery, and was not cost-effective for local delivery of services between hospitals and primary care.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-233
PMCID: PMC2927589  PMID: 20696073
16.  Weather and the Transmission of Bacillary Dysentery in Jinan, Northern China: A Time-Series Analysis 
Public Health Reports  2008;123(1):61-66.
SYNOPSIS
Objectives
This article aims to quantify the relationship between weather variations and bacillary dysentery in Jinan, a city in northern China with a temperate climate, to reach a better understanding of the effect of weather variations on enteric infections.
Methods
The weather variables and number of cases of bacillary dysentery during the period 1987–2000 has been studied on a monthly basis. The Spearman correlation between each weather variable and dysentery cases was conducted. Seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average (SARIMA) models were used to perform the regression analyses.
Results
Maximum temperature (one-month lag), minimum temperature (one-month lag), rainfall (one-month lag), relative humidity (without lag), and air pressure (one-month lag) were all significantly correlated with the number of dysentery cases in Jinan. After controlling for the seasonality, lag time, and long-term trend, the SARIMA model suggested that a 1°C rise in maximum temperature might relate to more than 10% (95% confidence interval 10.19, 12.69) increase in the cases of bacillary dysentery in this city.
Conclusion
Weather variations have already affected the transmission of bacillary dysentery in China. Temperatures could be used as a predictor of the number of dysentery cases in a temperate city in northern China. Public health interventions should be undertaken at this stage to adapt and mitigate the possible consequences of climate change in the future.
PMCID: PMC2099327  PMID: 18348481
17.  Non-response to a life course socioeconomic position indicator in surveillance: comparison of telephone and face-to-face modes 
Background
Measurement of socioeconomic position (SEP) over the life course in population health surveillance systems is important for examining differences in health and illness between different population groups and for monitoring the impact of policies and interventions aimed at reducing health inequities and intergenerational disadvantage over time. While face-to-face surveys are considered the gold standard of interviewing techniques, computer-assisted telephone interviewing is often preferred for cost and convenience. This study compared recall of parents' highest level of education in telephone and face-to-face surveys.
Methods
Questions about father's and mother's highest education level were included in two representative population health surveys of South Australians aged 18 years and over in Spring 2004. A random sample selected from the electronic white pages (EWP) responded to a computer-assisted telephone interview (n = 2999), and a multistage clustered area sample responded to a face-to-face interview (n = 2893). A subsample of respondents in the face-to-face sample who owned a telephone that was listed in the EWP (n = 2206) was also compared to the telephone interview sample.
Results
The proportion of respondents who provided information about their father's and mother's highest education level was significantly higher in the face-to-face interview (86.3% and 87.8%, respectively) than in the telephone interview (80.4% and 79.9%, respectively). Recall was also significantly higher in the subsample of respondents in the face-to-face interview who had a telephone that was listed in the EWP. Those with missing data for parents' education were more likely to be socioeconomically disadvantaged regardless of the survey mode.
Conclusion
While face-to-face interviewing obtained higher item response rates for questions about parents' education, survey mode did not appear to influence the factors associated with having missing data on father's or mother's highest education level.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-8-54
PMCID: PMC2527312  PMID: 18700038
18.  Challenges in Australian policy processes for disinvestment from existing, ineffective health care practices 
Background
Internationally, many health care interventions were diffused prior to the standard use of assessments of safety, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. Disinvestment from ineffective or inappropriately applied practices is a growing priority for health care systems for reasons of improved quality of care and sustainability of resource allocation. In this paper we examine key challenges for disinvestment from these interventions and explore potential policy-related avenues to advance a disinvestment agenda.
Results
We examine five key challenges in the area of policy driven disinvestment: 1) lack of resources to support disinvestment policy mechanisms; 2) lack of reliable administrative mechanisms to identify and prioritise technologies and/or practices with uncertain clinical and cost-effectiveness; 3) political, clinical and social challenges to removing an established technology or practice; 4) lack of published studies with evidence demonstrating that existing technologies/practices provide little or no benefit (highlighting complexity of design) and; 5) inadequate resources to support a research agenda to advance disinvestment methods. Partnerships are required to involve government, professional colleges and relevant stakeholder groups to put disinvestment on the agenda. Such partnerships could foster awareness raising, collaboration and improved health outcome data generation and reporting. Dedicated funds and distinct processes could be established within the Medical Services Advisory Committee and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to, a) identify technologies and practices for which there is relative uncertainty that could be the basis for disinvestment analysis, and b) conduct disinvestment assessments of selected item(s) to address existing practices in an analogous manner to the current focus on new and emerging technology. Finally, dedicated funding and cross-disciplinary collaboration is necessary to build health services and policy research capacity, with a focus on advancing disinvestment research methodologies and decision support tools.
Conclusion
The potential over-utilisation of less than effective clinical practices and the potential under-utilisation of effective clinical practices not only result in less than optimal care but also fragmented, inefficient and unsustainable resource allocation. Systematic policy approaches to disinvestment will improve equity, efficiency, quality and safety of care, as well as sustainability of resource allocation.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-4-23
PMCID: PMC2174492  PMID: 17973993
19.  Costs and consequences of treatment for mild gestational diabetes mellitus – evaluation from the ACHOIS randomised trial 
Background
Recommended best practice is that economic evaluation of health care interventions should be integral with randomised clinical trials. We performed a cost-consequence analysis of treating women with mild gestational diabetes mellitus by dietary advice, blood glucose monitoring and insulin therapy as needed compared with routine pregnancy care, using patient-level data from a multi-centre randomised clinical trial.
Methods
Women with a singleton pregnancy who had mild gestational diabetes diagnosed by an oral glucose-tolerance test between 24 and 34 weeks' gestation and their infants were included. Clinical outcomes and outpatient costs derived from all women and infants in the trial. Inpatient costs derived from women and infants attending the hospital contributing the largest number of enrolments (26.1%), and charges to women and their families derived from a subsample of participants from that hospital (in 2002 Australian dollars). Occasions of service and health outcomes were adjusted for maternal age, ethnicity and parity. Analysis of variance was used with bootstrapping to confirm results. Primary clinical outcomes were serious perinatal complications; admission to neonatal nursery; jaundice requiring phototherapy; induction of labour and caesarean delivery. Economic outcome measures were outpatient and inpatient costs, and charges to women and their families.
Results
For every 100 women with a singleton pregnancy and positive oral glucose tolerance test who were offered treatment for mild gestational diabetes mellitus in addition to routine obstetric care, $53,985 additional direct costs were incurred at the obstetric hospital, $6,521 additional charges were incurred by women and their families, 9.7 additional women experienced induction of labour, and 8.6 more babies were admitted to a neonatal nursery. However, 2.2 fewer babies experienced serious perinatal complication and 1.0 fewer babies experienced perinatal death. The incremental cost per additional serious perinatal complication prevented was $27,503, per perinatal death prevented was $60,506 and per discounted life-year gained was $2,988.
Conclusion
It is likely that the general public in high-income countries such as Australia would find reductions in perinatal mortality and in serious perinatal complications sufficient to justify additional health service and personal monetary charges. Over the whole lifespan, the incremental cost per extra life-year gained is highly favourable.
Trial Registration
Australian Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12606000294550
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-27
PMCID: PMC2241640  PMID: 17963528
20.  Birth after caesarean study – planned vaginal birth or planned elective repeat caesarean for women at term with a single previous caesarean birth: protocol for a patient preference study and randomised trial 
Background
For women who have a caesarean section in their preceding pregnancy, two care policies for birth are considered standard: planned vaginal birth and planned elective repeat caesarean. Currently available information about the benefits and harms of both forms of care are derived from retrospective and prospective cohort studies. There have been no randomised trials, and recognising the deficiencies in the literature, there have been calls for methodologically rigorous studies to assess maternal and infant health outcomes associated with both care policies.
The aims of our study are to assess in women with a previous caesarean birth, who are eligible in the subsequent pregnancy for a vaginal birth, whether a policy of planned vaginal birth after caesarean compared with a policy of planned repeat caesarean affects the risk of serious complications for the woman and her infant.
Methods/Design
Design: Multicentred patient preference study and a randomised clinical trial.
Inclusion Criteria: Women with a single prior caesarean presenting in their next pregnancy with a single, live fetus in cephalic presentation, who have reached 37 weeks gestation, and who do not have a contraindication to a planned VBAC.
Trial Entry & Randomisation: Eligible women will be given an information sheet during pregnancy, and will be recruited to the study from 37 weeks gestation after an obstetrician has confirmed eligibility for a planned vaginal birth. Written informed consent will be obtained. Women who consent to the patient preference study will be allocated their preference for either planned VBAC or planned, elective repeat caesarean. Women who consent to the randomised trial will be randomly allocated to either the planned vaginal birth after caesarean or planned elective repeat caesarean group.
Treatment Groups: Women in the planned vaginal birth group will await spontaneous onset of labour whilst appropriate. Women in the elective repeat caesarean group will have this scheduled for between 38 and 40 weeks.
Primary Study Outcome: Serious adverse infant outcome (death or serious morbidity).
Sample Size: 2314 women in the patient preference study to show a difference in adverse neonatal outcome from 1.6% to 3.6% (p = 0.05, 80% power).
Clinical Trial Registration
ISCTRN5397431
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-17
PMCID: PMC1988834  PMID: 17697343
21.  Antenatal screening for Group B Streptococcus: A diagnostic cohort study 
Background
A range of strategies have been adopted to prevent early onset Group B Streptococcal (EOGBS) sepsis, as a consequence of Group B Streptococcal (GBS) vertically acquired infection. This study was designed to provide a scientific basis for optimum timing and method of GBS screening in an Australian setting, to determine whether screening for GBS infection at 35–37 weeks gestation has better predictive values for colonisation at birth than screening at 31–33 weeks, to examine the test characteristics of a risk factor strategy and to determine the test characteristics of low vaginal swabs alone compared with a combination of perianal plus low vaginal swabs per colonisation during labour.
Methods
Consented women received vaginal and perianal swabs at 31–33 weeks gestation, 35–38 weeks gestation and during labour. Swabs were cultured on layered horse blood agar and inoculated into selective broth prior to analysis. Test characteristics were calculated with exact confidence intervals for a high risk strategy and for antenatal screening at 31–33 and 35–37 weeks gestation for vaginal cultures alone, perianal cultures alone and combined low vaginal and perianal cultures.
Results
The high risk strategy was not informative in predicting GBS status during labour. There is an unequivocal benefit for the identification of women colonised with GBS during labour associated with delaying screening until 36 weeks however the results for method of screening were less definitive with no clear advantage in using a combined low vaginal and perianal swabbing regimen over the use of a low vaginal swab alone.
Conclusion
This study can contribute to the development of prevention strategies in that it provides clear evidence for optimal timing of swabs. The addition of a perianal swab does not confer clear benefit. The quantification of advantages and disadvantages provided in this study will facilitate communication with clinicians and pregnant women alike.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-5-12
PMCID: PMC1190189  PMID: 16042773
22.  Effect of bottles, cups, and dummies on breast feeding in preterm infants: a randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;329(7459):193-198.
Objective To determine the effect of artificial teats (bottle and dummy) and cups on breast feeding in preterm infants.
Design Randomised controlled trial.
Setting Two large tertiary hospitals, 54 peripheral hospitals.
Participants 319 preterm infants (born at 23-33 weeks' gestation) randomly assigned to one of four groups: cup/no dummy (n = 89), cup/dummy (n = 72), bottle/no dummy (n = 73), bottle/dummy (n = 85). Women with singleton or twin infants < 34 weeks' gestation who wanted to breastfeed were eligible to participate.
Interventions Cup or bottle feeding occurred when the mother was unable to be present to breast feed. Infants randomised to the dummy groups received a dummy on entry into the trial.
Main outcome measures Full breast feeding (compared with partial and none) and any breast feeding (compared with none) on discharge home. Secondary outcomes: prevalence of breast feeding at three and six months after discharge and length of hospital stay.
Results 303 infants (and 278 mothers) were included in the intention to treat analysis. There were no significant differences for any of the study outcomes according to use of a dummy. Infants randomised to cup feeds were more likely to be fully breast fed on discharge home (odds ratio 1.73, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 2.88, P = 0.03), but had a longer length of stay (hazard ratio 0.71, 0.55 to 0.92, P = 0.01).
Conclusions Dummies do not affect breast feeding in preterm infants. Cup feeding significantly increases the likelihood that the baby will be fully breast fed at discharge home, but has no effect on any breast feeding and increases the length of hospital stay.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38131.675914.55
PMCID: PMC487729  PMID: 15208209
23.  Cerebral palsy and placental infection: a case-cohort study 
Background
The association between cerebral palsy in very preterm infants and clinical, histopathologic and microbiological indicators of chorioamnionitis, including the identification of specific micro-organisms in the placenta, was evaluated in a case-cohort study.
Methods
Children with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy at five years of age were identified from amongst participants in a long-term follow-up program of preterm infants. The comparison group was a subcohort of infants randomly selected from all infants enrolled in the program. The placentas were examined histopathologically for chorioamnionitis and funisitis, and the chorioamnionic interface was aseptically swabbed and comprehensively cultured for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, yeast and genital mycoplasmas. Associations between obstetric and demographic variables, indicators of chorioamnionitis and cerebral palsy status were examined by univariate analysis.
Results
Eighty-two infants with cerebral palsy were compared with the subcohort of 207 infants. Threatened preterm labor was nearly twice as common among the cases as in the subcohort (p < 0.01). Recorded clinical choroamnionitis was similar in the two groups and there was no difference in histopathologic evidence of infection between the two groups. E. coli was cultured from the placenta in 6/30 (20%) of cases as compared with 4/85 (5%) of subcohort (p = 0.01). Group B Streptococcus was more frequent among the cases, but the difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusions
The association between E. coli in the chorioamnion and cerebral palsy in preterm infants identified in this study requires confirmation in larger multicenter studies which include microbiological study of placentas.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-4-1
PMCID: PMC343280  PMID: 15005809
cerebral palsy; placenta; chorioamnionitis; Escherichia coli
24.  Assessing Personalized Medicines in Australia 
Medical Decision Making  2013;33(3):333-342.
Background. Since the mapping of the human genome in 2003, the development of biomarker targeted therapy and clinical adoption of “personalized medicine” has accelerated. Models for insurance subsidy of biomarker/test/drug packages (“codependent technologies” or technologies that work better together) are not well developed. Our aim was to create a framework to assess the safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of these technologies for a national coverage or reimbursement decision. Methods. We extracted information from assessments of recent Australian reimbursement applications that concerned genetic tests and treatments to identify items and evidence gaps considered important to the decision-making process. Relevant international regulatory and reimbursement guidance documents were also reviewed. Items addressing causality theory were included to help explain the relationship between biomarker and treatment. The framework was reviewed by policy makers and technical experts, prior to a public consultation process. Results. The framework consists of 5 components—context, clinical benefit, evidence translation, cost-effectiveness, and financial impact—and a checklist of 79 items. To determine whether the biomarker test, the drug, both, or neither should be subsidized, we considered it crucial to identify whether the biomarker is a treatment effect modifier or a prognostic factor. To aid in this determination, the framework explicitly allows the linkage of different types of evidence to examine whether targeting the biomarker varies the likely clinical benefit of the drug, and if so, to what extent. Conclusions. The first national framework to assess personalized medicine for coverage or reimbursement decisions has been developed and introduced and may be a suitable model for other health systems.
doi:10.1177/0272989X12452341
PMCID: PMC3757917  PMID: 22895559
personalized medicine; drug approval process; genetic testing; reimbursement mechanisms

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