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1.  Compliance with a time-out procedure intended to prevent wrong surgery in hospitals: results of a national patient safety programme in the Netherlands 
BMJ Open  2014;4(7):e005075.
To prevent wrong surgery, the WHO ‘Safe Surgery Checklist’ was introduced in 2008. The checklist comprises a time-out procedure (TOP): the final step before the start of the surgical procedure where the patient, surgical procedure and side/site are reviewed by the surgical team. The aim of this study is to evaluate the extent to which hospitals carry out the TOP before anaesthesia in the operating room, whether compliance has changed over time, and to determine factors that are associated with compliance.
Evaluation study involving observations.
Operating rooms of 2 academic, 4 teaching and 12 general Dutch hospitals.
A random selection was made from all adult patients scheduled for elective surgery on the day of the observation, preferably involving different surgeons and different procedures.
Mean compliance with the TOP was 71.3%. Large differences between hospitals were observed. No linear trend was found in compliance during the study period. Compliance at general and teaching hospitals was higher than at academic hospitals. Compliance decreased with the age of the patient, general surgery showed lower compliance in comparison with other specialties and compliance was higher when the team was focused on the TOP.
Large differences in compliance with the TOP were observed between participating hospitals which can be attributed at least in part to the type of hospital, surgical specialty and patient characteristics. Hospitals do not comply consistently with national guidelines to prevent wrong surgery and further implementation as well as further research into non-compliance is needed.
PMCID: PMC4091260  PMID: 24993761
2.  The ecometric properties of a measurement instrument for prospective risk analysis in hospital departments 
Safety management systems have been set up in healthcare institutions to reduce the number of adverse events. Safety management systems use a combination of activities, such as identifying and assessing safety risks in the organizational processes through retrospective and prospective risk assessments. A complementary method to already existing prospective risk analysis methods is Tripod, which measures latent risk factors in organizations through staff questionnaires. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether Tripod can be used as a method for prospective risk analysis in hospitals and whether it can assess differences in risk factors between hospital departments.
Tripod measures risk factors in five organizational domains: (1) Procedures, (2) Training, (3) Communication, (4) Incompatible Goals and (5) Organization. Each domain is covered by 15 items in the questionnaire. A total of thirteen departments from two hospitals participated in this study. All healthcare staff working in the participating departments were approached. The multilevel method ecometrics was used to evaluate the validity and reliability of Tripod. Ecometrics was needed to ensure that the differences between departments were attributable to differences in risk at the departmental level and not to differences between individual perceptions of the healthcare staff.
A total of 626 healthcare staff completed the questionnaire, resulting in a response rate of 61.7%. Reliability coefficients were calculated for the individual level and department level. At the individual level, reliability coefficients ranged from 0.78 to 0.87, at the departmental level they ranged from 0.55 to 0.73. Intraclass correlations at the departmental level ranged from 3.7% to 8.5%, which indicate sufficient clustering of answers within departments. At both levels the domains from the questionnaire were positively interrelated and all significant.
The results of this study show that Tripod can be used as a method for prospective risk analysis in hospitals. Results of the questionnaire provide information about latent risk factors in hospital departments. However, this study also shows that there are indications that the method is not sensitive enough to detect differences between hospital departments. Therefore, it is important to be careful when interpreting differences in potential risks between departments when using Tripod.
PMCID: PMC4233624  PMID: 24589240
Prospective risk; Prospective risk analysis; Risk factors; Ecometric; Patient safety; Adverse event; Hospitals
3.  The importance of illness duration, age at diagnosis and the year of diagnosis for labour participation chances of people with chronic illness: results of a nationwide panel-study in the Netherlands 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:803.
Compared to participation rates among general populations, participation of people with chronic illness in the labour market lags behind. This is undesirable, both from the perspective of individuals’ well-being as from a macro-economic perspective for western countries where concerns exist about labour supply and sustainability of social security in the near future. To help develop successful policy measures to prevent early drop-out and support reintegration, we aimed to gain insight into the role of three age related characteristics that may relate to labour participation chances of people with chronic illness: the duration of their illness, how old they were when the chronic disease was diagnosed and the historical year in which the diagnosis was established.
We analyzed data of one (first) measurement of several cohorts of people diagnosed with a somatic chronic disease, who (had) participated in the Dutch ‘National Panel of people with Chronic illness or Disability’ since 1998 (N = 4634 in total). Multi-level logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate random effects of the age at diagnosis and the year of diagnosis and fixed effects of illness duration on labour participation, while correcting for the effects of socio-demographic and disease characteristics and socio-economic indicators.
A significant part of the variation in labour participation among people with chronic illness relates to the age they had when they were diagnosed. Furthermore, a longer illness duration is significantly associated with a lower chance of being economically active. This is more the case for men than for women. Labour participation of cancer survivors depends on the phase of the illness they find themselves in. No evidence was found that the year in which the diagnosis was established matters for employment chances later in life.
Age at diagnosis and illness duration relate to chronically ill people’s chances to participate in the labour market, but how and how strong they relate to labour participation depend on gender and the type of chronic disease at stake. Prospective studies are needed to assess illness trajectories of specific diagnostic groups along with the development of their school and work careers.
PMCID: PMC3846917  PMID: 24007362
Chronic illness; Labour participation; Employment; Age; Illness duration
4.  Knowledge Claims, Jurisdictional Control and Professional Status: The Case of Nurse Prescribing 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77279.
Over the past decades, professional boundaries in health care have come under pressure, and the expansion of prescriptive authority to include nurses touches on issues of professional domains and interprofessional competition. Knowledge claims play an important role in achieving jurisdictional control. Knowledge can take on multiple forms, ranging from indeterminate to technical (I/T ratio) and from everyday to exclusive knowledge. To investigate the interrelatedness of jurisdiction, knowledge claims and professional status, we examine which knowledge claims were made by the medical and nursing professions in the Netherlands to secure or obtain, respectively, jurisdictional control over prescribing, and which form this knowledge took. The study is based on thirteen semi-structured stakeholder interviews and an extensive document analysis. We found that the nursing profession in its knowledge claims strongly emphasized the technicality and everyday knowledge character of the prescribing task, by asserting that nurses were already prescribing medicines, albeit on an illegal basis. Their second claim focused on the indeterminate knowledge skills of nurses and stated that nurse prescribing would do justice to nurses’ skills and expertise. This is a strong claim in a quest for (higher) professional status. Results showed that the medical profession initially proclaimed that prescribing should be reserved for doctors as it is a task requiring medical knowledge, i.e. indeterminate knowledge. Gradually, however, the medical profession adjusted its claims and tried to reduce nurse prescribing to a task almost exclusively based on technicality knowledge, among others by stating that nurses could prescribe in routine cases, which would generate little professional status. By investigating the form that professional knowledge claims took, this study was able to show the interconnectedness of jurisdictional control, knowledge claims and professional status. Knowledge claims are not mere rhetoric, but actively influence the everyday realities of professional status, interprofessional competition and jurisdictional division between professions.
PMCID: PMC3790745  PMID: 24124613
5.  Acceptance of selective contracting: the role of trust in the health insurer 
In a demand oriented health care system based on managed competition, health insurers have incentives to become prudent buyers of care on behalf of their enrolees. They are allowed to selectively contract care providers. This is supposed to stimulate competition between care providers and both increase the quality of care and contain costs in the health care system. However, health insurers are reluctant to implement selective contracting; they believe their enrolees will not accept this. One reason, insurers believe, is that enrolees do not trust their health insurer. However, this has never been studied. This paper aims to study the role played by enrolees’ trust in the health insurer on their acceptance of selective contracting.
An online survey was conducted among 4,422 people insured through a large Dutch health insurance company. Trust in the health insurer, trust in the purchasing strategy of the health insurer and acceptance of selective contracting were measured using multiple item scales. A regression model was constructed to analyse the results.
Trust in the health insurer turned out to be an important prerequisite for the acceptance of selective contracting among their enrolees. The association of trust in the purchasing strategy of the health insurer with acceptance of selective contracting is stronger for older people than younger people. Furthermore, it was found that men and healthier people accepted selective contracting by their health insurer more readily. This was also true for younger people with a low level of trust in their health insurer.
This study provides insight into factors that influence people’s acceptance of selective contracting by their health insurer. This may help health insurers to implement selective contracting in a way their enrolees will accept and, thus, help systems of managed competition to develop.
PMCID: PMC3850712  PMID: 24083663
Health insurer; Trust; Managed competition; Selective contracting
6.  Impact of remuneration on guideline adherence: Empirical evidence in general practice 
Background and objective. Changes in the Dutch GP remuneration system provided the opportunity to study the effects of changes in financial incentives on the quality of care. Separate remuneration systems for publicly insured patients (capitation) and privately insured patients (fee-for-service) were replaced by a combined system of capitation and fee-for-service for all in 2006. The effects of these changes on the quality of care in terms of guideline adherence were investigated. Design and setting. A longitudinal study from 2002 to 2009 using data from patient electronic medical records in general practice. A multilevel (patient and practice) approach was applied to study the effect of changes in the remuneration system on guideline adherence. Subjects. 21 421 to 39 828 patients from 32 to 52 general practices (dynamic panel of GPs). Main outcome measures. Sixteen guideline adherence indicators on prescriptions and referrals for acute and chronic conditions. Results. Guideline adherence increased between 2002 and 2008 by 7% for (formerly) publicly insured patients and 10% for (formerly) privately insured patients. In general, no significant differences in the trends for guideline adherence were found between privately and publicly insured patients, indicating the absence of an effect of the remuneration system on guideline adherence. Adherence to guidelines involving more time investment in terms of follow-up contacts was affected by changes in the remuneration system. For publicly insured patients, GPs showed a higher trend for guideline adherence for guidelines involving more time investment in terms of follow-up contacts compared with privately insured patients. Conclusion. The change in the remuneration system had a limited impact on guideline adherence.
PMCID: PMC3587301  PMID: 23330604
General practice; guideline adherence; quality of care; remuneration system; The Netherlands
7.  Type II diabetes patients in primary care: profiles of healthcare utilization obtained from observational data 
The high burden of diabetes for healthcare costs and their impact on quality of life and management of the disease have triggered the design and introduction of disease management programmes (DMPs) in many countries. The extent to which diabetes patients vary with regard to their healthcare utilisation and costs is largely unknown and could impact on the design of DMPs. The objectives of this study are to develop profiles based on both the diabetes-related healthcare utilisation and total healthcare utilisation in primary care, to investigate which patient and disease characteristics determine ‘membership’ of each profile, and to investigate the association between these profiles.
Data were used from electronic medical records of 6721 known type II diabetes patients listed in 48 Dutch general practices. Latent Class Analyses were conducted to identify profiles of healthcare and regression analyses were used to analyse the characteristics of the profiles.
For both diabetes-related healthcare utilisation and total healthcare utilisation three profiles could be distinguished: for the diabetes-related healthcare utilisation these were characterised as ‘high utilisation and frequent home visits’ (n=393), ‘low utilisation, GP only’ (n=3231) and ‘high utilisation, GP and nurse’ (n=3097). Profiles differed with respect to the patients’ age and type of medication; the oldest patients using insulin were dominant in the ‘high utilisation, GP and nurse’ profile. High total healthcare utilisation was not associated with high diabetes-related healthcare utilisation.
Healthcare utilisation of diabetes patients is heterogeneous. This challenges the development of distinguishable DMPs.
PMCID: PMC3570342  PMID: 23289605
Type II diabetes mellitus; Healthcare utilisation profiles; Primary care; Latent Class Analyses
8.  Variation in Hospital Length of Stay: Do Physicians Adapt Their Length of Stay Decisions to What Is Usual in the Hospital Where They Work? 
Health Services Research  2006;41(2):374-394.
To test the hypothesis that physicians who work in different hospitals adapt their length of stay decisions to what is usual in the hospital under consideration.
Data Sources
Secondary data were used, originating from the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS). SPARCS is a major management tool for assisting hospitals, agencies, and health care organizations with decision making in relation to financial planning and monitoring of inpatient and ambulatory surgery services and costs in New York state.
Study Design
Data on length of stay for surgical interventions and medical conditions (a total of seven diagnosis-related groups [DRGs]) were studied, to find out whether there is more variation between than within hospitals. Data (1999, 2000, and 2001) from all hospitals in New York state were used. The study examined physicians practicing in one hospital and physicians practicing in more than one hospital, to determine whether average length of stay differs according to the hospital of practice. Multilevel models were used to determine variation between and within hospitals. A t-test was used to test whether length of stay for patients of each multihospital physician differed from the average length of stay in each of the two hospitals.
Principal Findings
There is significantly (p<.05) more variation between than within hospitals in most of the study populations. Physicians working in two hospitals had patient lengths of stay comparable with the usual practice in the hospital where the procedure was performed. The proportion of physicians working in one hospital did not have a consistent effect for all DRGs on the variation within hospitals.
Physicians adapt to their colleagues or to the managerial demands of the particular hospital in which they work. The hospital and broader work environment should be taken into account when developing effective interventions to reduce variation in medical practice.
PMCID: PMC1702523  PMID: 16584454
Length of stay; variation; hospitals; multihospital physicians
9.  Minor surgery in general practice and effects on referrals to hospital care: Observational study 
Strengthening primary care is the focus of many countries, as national healthcare systems with a strong primary care sector tend to have lower healthcare costs. However, it is unknown to what extent general practitioners (GPs) that perform more services generate fewer hospital referrals. The objective of this study was to examine the association between the number of surgical interventions and hospital referrals.
Data were derived from electronic medical records of 48 practices that participated in the Netherlands Information Network of General Practice (LINH) in 2006-2007. For each care-episode of benign neoplasm skin/nevus, sebaceous cyst or laceration/cut it was determined whether the patient was referred to a medical specialist and/or minor surgery was performed. Multilevel multinomial regression analyses were used to determine the relation between minor surgery and hospital referrals on the level of the GP-practice.
Referral rates differed between diagnoses, with 1.0% of referrals for a laceration/cut, 8.2% for a sebaceous cyst and 10.2% for benign neoplasm skin/nevus. The GP practices performed minor surgery for a laceration/cut in 8.9% (SD:14.6) of the care-episodes, for a benign neoplasm skin/nevus in 27.4% (SD:14.4) of cases and for a sebaceous cyst in 26.4% (SD:13.8). GP practices that performed more minor surgery interventions had a lower referral rate for patients with a laceration/cut (-0.38; 95%CI:-0.60- -0.11) and those with a sebaceous cyst (-0.42; 95%CI:-0.63- -0.16), but not for people with benign neoplasm skin/nevus (-0.26; 95%CI:-0.51-0.03). However, the absolute difference in referral rate appeared to be relevant only for sebaceous cysts.
The effects of minor surgery vary between diagnoses. Minor surgery in general practice appears to be a substitute for specialist medical care only in relation to sebaceous cysts. Measures to stimulate minor surgery for sebaceous cysts may induce substitution.
PMCID: PMC3024924  PMID: 21205305
10.  Health-related behavior as a mechanism behind the relationship between neighborhood social capital and individual health - a multilevel analysis 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:116.
Although various studies have found a positive association between neighborhood social capital and individual health, the mechanism explaining this direct effect is still unclear. Neighborhood social capital is the access to resources that are generated by relationships between people in a friendly, well-connected and tightly knit neighborhood community. We expect that the resources generated by cohesive neighborhoods support and influence health -improving behaviors in daily life. We identify five different health-related behaviors that are likely to be affected by neighborhood social capital and test these behaviors separately as mediators.
The data set pertaining to individual health was taken from the 'health interview' in the 'Second Dutch national survey of general practice' (DNSGP-2, 2002). We combine these individual-level data with data from the 'Dutch housing demand survey' (WBO, 1998 and WoON, 2002) and statistical register information (1995-1999). Per neighborhood 29 WBO respondents, on average, had answered questions regarding social capital in their neighborhood. These variables have been aggregated to the neighborhood level by an ecometric methodology. In the main analysis, in which we tested the mediation, multilevel (ordered) logistic regressions were used to analyze 9253 adults (from the DNSGP-2 data set) from 672 Dutch neighborhoods. In the Netherlands, on average, neighborhoods (4-digit postcodes) comprise 4,000 inhabitants at highly variable population densities. Individual- and neighborhood-level controls have been taken into account in the analyses.
In neighborhoods with a high level of social capital, people are more physically active and more likely to be non-smokers. These behaviors have positive effects on their health. The direct effect of neighborhood social capital on health is significantly and strongly reduced by physical activity. This study does not support nutrition and sleep habits or moderate alcohol intake as possible explanations of the effects of neighborhoods on health.
This study is one of the first to test a mechanism explaining much of the direct effect of small-area social capital on individual health. Neighborhood interventions might be most successful at improving health if they stimulate both social interaction and physical activity.
PMCID: PMC3347984  PMID: 22325740
11.  Labour intensity of guidelines may have a greater effect on adherence than GPs' workload 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:74.
Physicians' heavy workload is often thought to jeopardise the quality of care and to be a barrier to improving quality. The relationship between these has, however, rarely been investigated. In this study quality of care is defined as care 'in accordance with professional guidelines'. In this study we investigated whether GPs with a higher workload adhere less to guidelines than those with a lower workload and whether guideline recommendations that require a greater time investment are less adhered to than those that can save time.
Data were used from the Second Dutch National survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2). This nationwide study was carried out between April 2000 and January 2002.
A multilevel logistic-regression analysis was conducted of 170,677 decisions made by GPs, referring to 41 Guideline Adherence Indicators (GAIs), which were derived from 32 different guidelines. Data were used from 130 GPs, working in 83 practices with 98,577 patients. GP-characteristics as well as guideline characteristics were used as independent variables. Measures include workload (number of contacts), hours spent on continuing medical education, satisfaction with available time, practice characteristics and patient characteristics. Outcome measure is an indicator score, which is 1 when a decision is in accordance with professional guidelines or 0 when the decision deviates from guidelines.
On average, 66% of the decisions GPs made were in accordance with guidelines. No relationship was found between the objective workload of GPs and their adherence to guidelines. Subjective workload (measured on a five point scale) was negatively related to guideline adherence (OR = 0.95). After controlling for all other variables, the variation between GPs in adherence to guideline recommendations showed a range of less than 10%.
84% of the variation in guideline adherence was located at the GAI-level. Which means that the differences in adherence levels between guidelines are much larger than differences between GPs. Guideline recommendations that require an extra time investment during the same consultation are significantly less adhered to: (OR = 0.46), while those that can save time have much higher adherence levels: OR = 1.55). Recommendations that reduce the likelihood of a follow-up consultation for the same problem are also more often adhered to compared to those that have no influence on this (OR = 3.13).
No significant relationship was found between the objective workload of GPs and adherence to guidelines. However, guideline recommendations that require an extra time investment are significantly less well adhered to while those that can save time are significantly more often adhered to.
PMCID: PMC2791751  PMID: 19943953
12.  Exploring the black box of quality improvement collaboratives: modelling relations between conditions, applied changes and outcomes 
Despite the popularity of quality improvement collaboratives (QICs) in different healthcare settings, relatively little is known about the implementation process. The objective of the current study is to learn more about relations between relevant conditions for successful implementation of QICs, applied changes, perceived successes, and actual outcomes.
Twenty-four Dutch hospitals participated in a dissemination programme based on QICs. A questionnaire was sent to 237 leaders of teams who joined 18 different QICs to measure changes in working methods and activities, overall perceived success, team organisation, and supportive conditions. Actual outcomes were extracted from a database with team performance indicator data. Multi-level analyses were conducted to test a number of hypothesised relations within the cross-classified hierarchical structure in which teams are nested within QICs and hospitals.
Organisational and external change agent support is related positively to the number of changed working methods and activities that, if increased, lead to higher perceived success and indicator outcomes scores. Direct and indirect positive relations between conditions and perceived success could be confirmed. Relations between conditions and actual outcomes are weak. Multi-level analyses reveal significant differences in organisational support between hospitals. The relation between perceived successes and actual outcomes is present at QIC level but not at team level.
Several of the expected relations between conditions, applied changes and outcomes, and perceived successes could be verified. However, because QICs vary in topic, approach, complexity, and promised advantages, further research is required: first, to understand why some QIC innovations fit better within the context of the units where they are implemented; second, to assess the influence of perceived success and actual outcomes on the further dissemination of projects over new patient groups.
PMCID: PMC2784742  PMID: 19919685
13.  QUALICOPC, a multi-country study evaluating quality, costs and equity in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:115.
The QUALICOPC (Quality and Costs of Primary Care in Europe) study aims to evaluate the performance of primary care systems in Europe in terms of quality, equity and costs. The study will provide an answer to the question what strong primary care systems entail and which effects primary care systems have on the performance of health care systems. QUALICOPC is funded by the European Commission under the "Seventh Framework Programme". In this article the background and design of the QUALICOPC study is described.
QUALICOPC started in 2010 and will run until 2013. Data will be collected in 31 European countries (27 EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey) and in Australia, Israel and New Zealand. This study uses a three level approach of data collection: the system, practice and patient. Surveys will be held among general practitioners (GPs) and their patients, providing evidence at the process and outcome level of primary care. These surveys aim to gain insight in the professional behaviour of GPs and the expectations and actions of their patients. An important aspect of this study is that each patient's questionnaire can be linked to their own GP's questionnaire. To gather data at the structure or national level, the study will use existing data sources such as the System of Health Accounts and the Primary Health Care Activity Monitor Europe (PHAMEU) database. Analyses of the data will be performed using multilevel models.
By its design, in which different data sources are combined for comprehensive analyses, QUALICOPC will advance the state of the art in primary care research and contribute to the discussion on the merit of strengthening primary care systems and to evidence based health policy development.
PMCID: PMC3206822  PMID: 22014310
14.  Differences between immigrant and non-immigrant groups in the use of primary medical care; a systematic review 
Studies on differences between immigrant and non-immigrant groups in health care utilization vary with respect to the extent and direction of differences in use. Therefore, our study aimed to provide a systematic overview of the existing research on differences in primary care utilization between immigrant groups and the majority population.
For this review PubMed, PsycInfo, Cinahl, Sociofile, Web of Science and Current Contents were consulted. Study selection and quality assessment was performed using a predefined protocol by 2 reviewers independently of each other. Only original, quantitative, peer-reviewed papers were taken into account. To account for this hierarchical structure, logistic multilevel analyses were performed to examine the extent to which differences are found across countries and immigrant groups. Differences in primary care use were related to study characteristics, strength of the primary care system and methodological quality.
A total of 37 studies from 7 countries met all inclusion criteria. Remarkably, studies performed within the US more often reported a significant lower use among immigrant groups as compared to the majority population than the other countries. As studies scored higher on methodological quality, the likelihood of reporting significant differences increased. Adjustment for health status and use of culture-/language-adjusted procedures during the data collection were negatively related to reporting significant differences in the studies.
Our review underlined the need for careful design in studies of differences in health care use between immigrant groups and the majority population. The results from studies concerning differences between immigrant and the majority population in primary health care use performed within the US might be interpreted as a reflection of a weaker primary care system in the US compared to Europe and Canada.
PMCID: PMC2689181  PMID: 19426567
15.  What part of the total care consumed by type 2 diabetes patients is directly related to diabetes? Implications for disease management programs 
Disease management programs (DMP) aim at improving coordination and quality of care and reducing healthcare costs for specific chronic diseases. This paper investigates to what extent total healthcare utilization of type 2 diabetes patients is actually related to diabetes and its implications for diabetes management programs.
Research design and methods
Healthcare utilization for diabetes patients was analyzed using 2008 self-reported data (n=316) and data from electronic medical records (EMR) (n=9023), and divided whether or not care was described in the Dutch type 2 diabetes multidisciplinary healthcare standard.
On average 4.3 different disciplines of healthcare providers were involved in the care for diabetes patients. Ninety-six percent contacted a GP-practice and 63% an ophthalmologist, 24% an internist, 32% a physiotherapist and 23% a dietician. Diabetes patients had on average 9.3 contacts with GP-practice of which 53% were included in the healthcare standard. Only a limited part of total healthcare utilization of diabetes patients was included in the healthcare standard and therefore theoretically included in DMPs.
Organizing the care for diabetics in a DMP might harm the coordination and quality of all healthcare for diabetics. DMPs should be integrated in the overall organization of care.
PMCID: PMC3280920  PMID: 22359520
diabetes; disease management program; healthcare standards
16.  Do decision support systems influence variation in prescription? 
Translating scientific evidence into daily practice is problematic. All kinds of intervention strategies, using educational and/or directive strategies, aimed at modifying behavior, have evolved, but have been found only partially successful. In this article the focus is on (computerized) decision support systems (DSSs). DSSs intervene in physicians' daily routine, as opposed to interventions that aim at influencing knowledge in order to change behavior. We examined whether general practitioners (GPs) are prescribing in accordance with the advice given by the DSS and whether there is less variation in prescription when the DSS is used.
Data were used from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP2), collected in 2001. A total of 82 diagnoses, 749811 contacts, 133 physicians, and 85 practices was included in the analyses. GPs using the DSS daily were compared to GPs who do not use the DSS. Multilevel analyses were used to analyse the data. Two outcome measures were chosen: whether prescription was in accordance with the advice of the DSS or not, and a measure of concentration, the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI).
GPs who use the DSS daily prescribe more according to the advice given in the DSS than GPs who do not use the DSS. Contradictory to our expectation there was no significant difference between the HHIs for both groups: variation in prescription was comparable.
We studied the use of a DSS for drug prescribing in general practice in the Netherlands. The DSS is based on guidelines developed by the Dutch College of General Practitioners and implemented in the Electronic Medical Systems of the GPs. GPs using the DSS more often prescribe in accordance with the advice given in the DSS compared to GPs not using the DSS. This finding, however, did not mean that variation is lower; variation is the same for GPs using and for GPs not using a DSS. Implications of the study are that DSSs can be used to implement guidelines, but that it should not be expected that variation is limited.
PMCID: PMC2662826  PMID: 19183464
17.  Is networking different with doctors working part-time? Differences in social networks of part-time and full-time doctors 
Part-time working is a growing phenomenon in medicine, which is expected to influence informal networks at work differently compared to full-time working. The opportunity to meet and build up social capital at work has offered a basis for theoretical arguments.
Twenty-eight teams of medical specialists in the Netherlands, including 226 individuals participated in this study. Interviews with team representatives and individual questionnaires were used. Data were gathered on three types of networks: relationships of consulting, communication and trust. For analyses, network and multilevel applications were used. Differences between individual doctors and between teams were both analysed, taking the dependency structure of the data into account, because networks of individual doctors are not independent. Teams were divided into teams with and without doctors working part-time.
Results and Discussion
Contrary to expectations we found no impact of part-time working on the size of personal networks, neither at the individual nor at the team level. The same was found regarding efficient reachability. Whereas we expected part-time doctors to choose their relations as efficiently as possible, we even found the opposite in intended relationships of trust, implying that efficiency in reaching each other was higher for full-time doctors. But we found as expected that in mixed teams with part-time doctors the frequency of regular communication was less compared to full-time teams. Furthermore, as expected the strength of the intended relationships of trust of part-time and full-time doctors was equally high.
From these findings we can conclude that part-time doctors are not aiming at efficiency by limiting the size of networks or by efficient reachability, because they want to contact their colleagues directly in order to prevent from communication errors. On the other hand, together with the growth of teams, we found this strategy, focussed on reaching all colleagues, was diminishing. And our data confirmed that formalisation was increasing together with the growth of teams.
PMCID: PMC2583974  PMID: 18834545
18.  Communication, advice exchange and job satisfaction of nursing staff: a social network analyses of 35 long-term care units 
The behaviour of individuals is affected by the social networks in which they are embedded. Networks are also important for the diffusion of information and the influence of employees in organisations. Yet, at the moment little is known about the social networks of nursing staff in healthcare settings. This is the first study that investigates informal communication and advice networks of nursing staff in long-term care. We examine the structure of the networks, how they are related to the size of units and characteristics of nursing staff, and their relationship with job satisfaction.
We collected social network data of 380 nursing staff of 35 units in group projects and psychogeriatric units in nursing homes and residential homes in the Netherlands. Communication and advice networks were analyzed in a social network application (UCINET), focusing on the number of contacts (density) between nursing staff on the units. We then studied the correlation between the density of networks, size of the units and characteristics of nursing staff. We used multilevel analyses to investigate the relationship between social networks and job satisfaction of nursing staff, taking characteristics of units and nursing staff into account.
Both communication and advice networks were negatively related to the number of residents and the number of nursing staff of the units. Communication and advice networks were more dense when more staff worked part-time. Furthermore, density of communication networks was positively related to the age of nursing staff of the units. Multilevel analyses showed that job satisfaction differed significantly between individual staff members and units and was influenced by the number of nursing staff of the units. However, this relationship disappeared when density of communication networks was added to the model.
Overall, communication and advice networks of nursing staff in long-term care are relatively dense. This fits with the high level of cooperation that is needed to provide good care to residents. Social networks are more dense in small units and are also shaped by characteristics of staff members. The results furthermore show that communication networks are important for staff's job satisfaction.
PMCID: PMC3133544  PMID: 21631936
19.  Physical activity as a possible mechanism behind the relationship between green space and health: A multilevel analysis 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:206.
The aim of this study was to investigate whether physical activity (in general, and more specifically, walking and cycling during leisure time and for commuting purposes, sports and gardening) is an underlying mechanism in the relationship between the amount of green space in people's direct living environment and self-perceived health. To study this, we first investigated whether the amount of green space in the living environment is related to the level of physical activity. When an association between green space and physical activity was found, we analysed whether this could explain the relationship between green space and health.
The study includes 4.899 Dutch people who were interviewed about physical activity, self-perceived health and demographic and socioeconomic background. The amount of green space within a one-kilometre and a three-kilometre radius around the postal code coordinates was calculated for each individual. Multivariate multilevel analyses and multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed at two levels and with controls for socio-demographic characteristics and urbanicity.
No relationship was found between the amount of green space in the living environment and whether or not people meet the Dutch public health recommendations for physical activity, sports and walking for commuting purposes. People with more green space in their living environment walked and cycled less often and fewer minutes during leisure time; people with more green space garden more often and spend more time on gardening. Furthermore, if people cycle for commuting purposes they spend more time on this if they live in a greener living environment. Whether or not people garden, the time spent on gardening and time spent on cycling for commuting purposes did not explain the relationship between green space and health.
Our study indicates that the amount of green space in the living environment is scarcely related to the level of physical activity. Furthermore, the amount of physical activity undertaken in greener living environments does not explain the relationship between green space and health.
PMCID: PMC2438348  PMID: 18544169
20.  Nurse prescribing of medicines in Western European and Anglo-Saxon countries: a systematic review of the literature 
A growing number of countries are introducing some form of nurse prescribing. However, international reviews concerning nurse prescribing are scarce and lack a systematic and theoretical approach. The aim of this review was twofold: firstly, to gain insight into the scientific and professional literature describing the extent to and the ways in which nurse prescribing has been realised or is being introduced in Western European and Anglo-Saxon countries; secondly, to identify possible mechanisms underlying the introduction and organisation of nurse prescribing on the basis of Abbott's theory on the division of professional labor.
A comprehensive search of six literature databases and seven websites was performed without any limitation as to date of publication, language or country. Additionally, experts in the field of nurse prescribing were consulted. A three stage inclusion process, consisting of initial sifting, more detailed selection and checking full-text publications, was performed independently by pairs of reviewers. Data were synthesized using narrative and tabular methods.
One hundred and twenty-four publications met the inclusion criteria. So far, seven Western European and Anglo-Saxon countries have implemented nurse prescribing of medicines, viz., Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK and the USA. The Netherlands and Spain are in the process of introducing nurse prescribing. A diversity of external and internal forces has led to the introduction of nurse prescribing internationally. The legal, educational and organizational conditions under which nurses prescribe medicines vary considerably between countries; from situations where nurses prescribe independently to situations in which prescribing by nurses is only allowed under strict conditions and supervision of physicians.
Differences between countries are reflected in the jurisdictional settlements between the nursing and medical professions concerning prescribing. In some countries, nurses share (full) jurisdiction with the medical profession, whereas in other countries nurses prescribe in a subordinate position. In most countries the jurisdiction over prescribing remains predominantly with the medical profession. There seems to be a mechanism linking the jurisdictional settlements between professions with the forces that led to the introduction of nurse prescribing. Forces focussing on efficiency appear to lead to more extensive prescribing rights.
PMCID: PMC3141384  PMID: 21619565
21.  The incidence, root-causes, and outcomes of adverse events in surgical units: implication for potential prevention strategies 
We need to know the scale and underlying causes of surgical adverse events (AEs) in order to improve the safety of care in surgical units. However, there is little recent data. Previous record review studies that reported on surgical AEs in detail are now more than ten years old. Since then surgical technology and quality assurance have changed rapidly. The objective of this study was to provide more recent data on the incidence, consequences, preventability, causes and potential strategies to prevent AEs among hospitalized patients in surgical units.
A structured record review study of 7,926 patient records was carried out by trained nurses and medical specialist reviewers in 21 Dutch hospitals. The aim was to determine the presence of AEs during hospitalizations in 2004 and to consider how far they could be prevented. Of all AEs, the consequences, responsible medical specialty, causes and potential prevention strategies were identified. Surgical AEs were defined as AEs attributable to surgical treatment and care processes and were selected for analysis in detail.
Surgical AEs occurred in 3.6% of hospital admissions and represented 65% of all AEs. Forty-one percent of the surgical AEs was considered to be preventable. The consequences of surgical AEs were more severe than for other types of AEs, resulting in more permanent disability, extra treatment, prolonged hospital stay, unplanned readmissions and extra outpatient visits. Almost 40% of the surgical AEs were infections, 23% bleeding, and 22% injury by mechanical, physical or chemical cause. Human factors were involved in the causation of 65% of surgical AEs and were considered to be preventable through quality assurance and training.
Surgical AEs occur more often than other types of AEs, are more often preventable and their consequences are more severe. Therefore, surgical AEs have a major impact on the burden of AEs during hospitalizations. These findings concur with the results from previous studies. However, evidence-based solutions to reduce surgical AEs are increasingly available. Interventions directed at human causes are recommended to improve the safety of surgical care. Examples are team training and the surgical safety checklist. In addition, specific strategies are needed to improve appropriate use of antibiotic prophylaxis and sustainable implementation of hygiene guidelines to reduce infections.
PMCID: PMC3127749  PMID: 21599915
22.  Understanding organisational development, sustainability, and diffusion of innovations within hospitals participating in a multilevel quality collaborative 
Between 2004 and 2008, 24 Dutch hospitals participated in a two-year multilevel quality collaborative (MQC) comprised of (a) a leadership programme for hospital executives, (b) six quality-improvement collaboratives (QICs) for healthcare professionals and other staff, and (c) an internal programme organisation to help senior management monitor and coordinate team progress. The MQC aimed to stimulate the development of quality-management systems and the spread of methods to improve patient safety and logistics. The objective of this study is to describe how the first group of eight MQC hospitals sustained and disseminated improvements made and the quality methods used.
The approach followed by the hospitals was described using interview and questionnaire data gathered from eight programme coordinators.
MQC hospitals followed a systematic strategy of diffusion and sustainability. Hospital quality-management systems are further developed according to a model linking plan-do-study-act cycles at the unit and hospital level. The model involves quality norms based on realised successes, performance agreements with unit heads, organisational support, monitoring, and quarterly accountability reports.
It is concluded from this study that the MQC contributed to organisational development and dissemination within participating hospitals. Organisational learning effects were demonstrated. System changes affect the context factors in the theory of organisational readiness: organisational culture, policies and procedures, past experience, organisational resources, and organisational structure. Programme coordinator responses indicate that these factors are utilised to manage spread and sustainability. Further research is needed to assess long-term effects.
PMCID: PMC3065434  PMID: 21385467
23.  Towards an organisation-wide process-oriented organisation of care: A literature review 
Many hospitals have taken actions to make care delivery for specific patient groups more process-oriented, but struggle with the question how to deal with process orientation at hospital level. The aim of this study is to report and discuss the experiences of hospitals with implementing process-oriented organisation designs in order to derive lessons for future transitions and research.
A literature review of English language articles on organisation-wide process-oriented redesigns, published between January 1998 and May 2009, was performed.
Of 329 abstracts identified, 10 articles were included in the study. These articles described process-oriented redesigns of five hospitals. Four hospitals tried to become process-oriented by the implementation of coordination measures, and one by organisational restructuring. The adoption of the coordination mechanism approach was particularly constrained by the functional structure of hospitals. Other factors that hampered the redesigns in general were the limited applicability of and unfamiliarity with process improvement techniques.
Due to the limitations of the evidence, it is not known which approach, implementation of coordination measures or organisational restructuring (with additional coordination measures), produces the best results in which situation. Therefore, more research is needed. For this research, the use of qualitative methods in addition to quantitative measures is recommended to contribute to a better understanding of preconditions and contingencies for an effective application of approaches to become process-oriented. Hospitals are advised to take the factors for failure described into account and to take suitable actions to counteract these obstacles on their way to become process-oriented organisations.
PMCID: PMC3035025  PMID: 21247491
24.  Striking variations in consultation rates with general practice reveal family influence 
The reasons why patients decide to consult a general practitioner vary enormously. While there may be individual reasons for this variation, the family context has a significant and unique influence upon the frequency of individuals' visits. The objective of this study was to explore which family factors can explain the differences between strikingly high, and correspondingly low, family consultation rates in families with children aged up to 21.
Data were used from the second Dutch national survey of general practice. This survey extracted from the medical records of 96 practices in the Netherlands, information on all consultations with patients during 2001. We defined, through multilevel analysis, two groups of families. These had respectively, predominantly high, and low, contact frequencies due to a significant family influence upon the frequency of the individual's first contacts. Binomial logistic regression analyses were used to analyse which of the family factors, related to shared circumstances and socialisation conditions, can explain the differences in consultation rates between the two groups of families.
In almost 3% of all families, individual consultation rates decrease significantly due to family influence. In 11% of the families, individual consultation rates significantly increase due to family influence. While taking into account the health status of family members, family factors can explain family consultation rates. These factors include circumstances such as their economic status and number of children, as well as socialisation conditions such as specific health knowledge and family beliefs. The chance of significant low frequencies of contact due to family influences increases significantly with factors such as, paid employment of parents in the health care sector, low expectations of general practitioners' care for minor ailments and a western cultural background.
Family circumstances can easily be identified and will add to the understanding of the health complaints of the individual patient in the consulting room. Family circumstances related to health risks often cannot be changed but they can illuminate the reasons for a visit, and mould strategies for prevention, treatment or recovery. Health beliefs, on the other hand, may be influenced by providing specific knowledge.
PMCID: PMC1784094  PMID: 17233891
25.  Ethnic minorities and prescription medication; concordance between self-reports and medical records 
Ethnic differences in health care utilisation are frequently reported in research. Little is known about the concordance between different methods of data collection among ethnic minorities. The aim of this study was to examine to which extent ethnic differences between self-reported data and data based on electronic medical records (EMR) from general practitioners (GPs) might be a validity issue or reflect a lower compliance among minority groups.
A cross-sectional, national representative general practice study, using EMR data from 195 GPs. The study population consisted of Dutch, Turks, Surinamese, Antilleans and Morrocans. Self-reported data were collected through face-to-face interviews and could be linked to the EMR of GPs. The main outcome measures were the level of agreement between annual prescribing rate based on the EMRs of GPs and the self-reported receipt and use of prescriptions during the preceding 14 days.
The pattern of ethnic differences in receipt and use of prescription medication depended on whether self-reported data or EMR data were used. Ethnic differences based on self-reports were not consistently reflected in EMR data. The percentage of agreement above chance between EMR data and self-reported receipt was in general relative low.
Ethnic differences between self-reported data and EMR data might not be fully perceived as a cross-cultural validity issue. At least for Moroccans and Turks, compliance with the prescribed medication by the GP is suggested not to be optimal.
PMCID: PMC1578560  PMID: 16970807

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