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author:("birnin, Erwin")
1.  Measuring Client Experiences in Maternity Care under Change: Development of a Questionnaire Based on the WHO Responsiveness Model 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0117031.
Maternity care is an integrated care process, which consists of different services, involves different professionals and covers different time windows. To measure performance of maternity care based on clients' experiences, we developed and validated a questionnaire.
Methods and Findings
We used the 8-domain WHO Responsiveness model, and previous materials to develop a self-report questionnaire. A dual study design was used for development and validation. Content validity of the ReproQ-version-0 was determined through structured interviews with 11 pregnant women (≥28 weeks), 10 women who recently had given birth (≤12 weeks), and 19 maternity care professionals. Structured interviews established the domain relevance to the women; all items were separately commented on. All Responsiveness domains were judged relevant, with Dignity and Communication ranking highest. Main missing topic was the assigned expertise of the health professional. After first adaptation, construct validity of the ReproQ-version-1 was determined through a web-based survey. Respondents were approached by maternity care organizations with different levels of integration of services of midwives and obstetricians. We sent questionnaires to 605 third trimester pregnant women (response 65%), and 810 women 6 weeks after delivery (response 55%). Construct validity was based on: response patterns; exploratory factor analysis; association of the overall score with a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), known group comparisons. Median overall ReproQ score was 3.70 (range 1–4) showing good responsiveness. The exploratory factor analysis supported the assumed domain structure and suggested several adaptations. Correlation of the VAS rating and overall ReproQ score (antepartum, postpartum) supported validity (r = 0.56; 0.59, p<0.001 Spearman's correlation coefficient). Pre-stated group comparisons confirmed the expected difference following a good vs. adverse birth outcome. Fully integrated organizations performed slightly better (median = 3.78) than less integrated organizations (median = 3.63; p<0.001). Participation rate of women with a low educational level and/or a non-western origin was low.
The ReproQ appears suitable for assessing quality of maternity care from the clients' perspective. Recruitment of disadvantaged groups requires additional non-digital approaches.
PMCID: PMC4324965  PMID: 25671310
2.  Validity of a questionnaire measuring the world health organization concept of health system responsiveness with respect to perinatal services in the dutch obstetric care system 
The concept of responsiveness, introduced by the World Health Organization (WHO), addresses non-clinical aspects of health service quality that are relevant regardless of provider, country, health system or health condition. Responsiveness refers to “aspects related to the way individuals are treated and the environment in which they are treated” during health system interactions. This paper assesses the psychometric properties of a newly developed responsiveness questionnaire dedicated to evaluating maternal experiences of perinatal care services, called the Responsiveness in Perinatal and Obstetric Health Care Questionnaire (ReproQ), using the eight-domain WHO concept.
The ReproQ was developed between October 2009 and February 2010 by adapting the WHO Responsiveness Questionnaire items to the perinatal care context. The psychometric properties of feasibility, construct validity, and discriminative validity were empirically assessed in a sample of Dutch women two weeks post partum.
A total of 171 women consented to participation. Feasibility: the interviews lasted between 20 and 40 minutes and the overall missing rate was 8%. Construct validity: mean Cronbach’s alphas for the antenatal, birth and postpartum phase were: 0.73 (range 0.57-0.82), 0.84 (range 0.66-0.92), and 0.87 (range 0.62-0.95) respectively. The item-own scale correlations within all phases were considerably higher than most of the item-other scale correlations. Within the antenatal care, birth care and post partum phases, the eight factors explained 69%, 69%, and 76% of variance respectively. Discriminative validity: overall responsiveness mean sum scores were higher for women whose children were not admitted. This confirmed the hypothesis that dissatisfaction with health outcomes is transferred to their judgement on responsiveness of the perinatal services.
The ReproQ interview-based questionnaire demonstrated satisfactory psychometric properties to describe the quality of perinatal care in the Netherlands, with the potential to discriminate between different levels of quality of care. In view of the relatively small sample, further testing and research is recommended.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0622-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4265356  PMID: 25465053
Responsiveness; Psychometric properties; Quality of care; Perinatal care
3.  Design and outline of the Healthy Pregnancy 4 All study 
Promotion of healthy pregnancies has gained high priority in the Netherlands because of the relatively unfavourable perinatal health outcomes. In response a nationwide study Healthy Pregnancy 4 All was initiated. This study combines public health and epidemiologic research to evaluate the effectiveness of two obstetric interventions before and during pregnancy: (1) programmatic preconception care (PCC) and (2) systematic antenatal risk assessment (including both medical and non-medical risk factors) followed by patient-tailored multidisciplinary care pathways. In this paper we present an overview of the study setting and outlines. We describe the selection of geographical areas and introduce the design and outline of the preconception care and the antenatal risk assessment studies.
A thorough analysis was performed to identify geographical areas in which adverse perinatal outcomes were high. These areas were regarded as eligible for either or both sub-studies as we hypothesised studies to have maximal effect there. This selection of municipalities was based on multiple criteria relevant to either the preconception care intervention or the antenatal risk assessment intervention, or to both. The preconception care intervention was designed as a prospective community-based cohort study. The antenatal risk assessment intervention was designed as a cluster randomised controlled trial – where municipalities are randomly allocated to intervention and control.
Optimal linkage is sought between curative and preventive care, public health, government, and social welfare organisations. To our knowledge, this is the first study in which these elements are combined.
PMCID: PMC4133626  PMID: 25080942
Cohort study; Randomized controlled trial; Preconception care; Antenatal care; Public health; Epidemiology; Pregnancy; Neighbourhood; Care pathway
4.  Diurnal Triglyceridemia in Relation to Alcohol Intake in Men 
Nutrients  2013;5(12):5114-5126.
Fasting and postprandial triglyceride concentrations largely depend on dietary and lifestyle factors. Alcohol intake is associated with triglycerides, but the effect of alcohol on diurnal triglyceridemia in a free living situation is unknown. During three days, 139 men (range: 18–80 years) measured their own capillary triglyceride (cTG) concentrations daily on six fixed time-points before and after meals, and the total daily alcohol intake was recorded. The impact of daily alcohol intake (none; low, <10 g/day; moderate, 10–30 g/day; high, >30 g/day) on diurnal triglyceridemia was analyzed by the incremental area under the cTG curve (∆cTG-AUC) reflecting the mean of the six different time-points. Fasting cTG were similar between the alcohol groups, but a trend of increased cTG was observed in men with moderate and high alcohol intake after dinner and at bedtime (p for trend <0.001) which persisted after adjustment for age, smoking and body mass index. The ∆cTG-AUC was significantly lower in males with low alcohol intake (3.0 ± 1.9 mmol·h/L) (n = 27) compared to males with no (7.0 ± 1.8 mmol·h/L) (n = 34), moderate (6.5 ± 1.8 mmol·h/L) (n = 54) or high alcohol intake (7.2 ± 2.2 mmol·h/L) (n = 24), when adjusted for age, smoking and body mass index (adjusted p value < 0.05). In males, low alcohol intake was associated with decreased diurnal triglyceridemia, whereas moderate and high alcohol intake was associated with increased triglycerides after dinner and at bed time.
PMCID: PMC3875928  PMID: 24352090
ethanol; lipemia; postprandial; triglyceride
5.  Erythrocyte-Bound Apolipoprotein B in Relation to Atherosclerosis, Serum Lipids and ABO Blood Group 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75573.
Erythrocytes carry apolipoprotein B on their membrane, but the determining factors of erythrocyte-bound apolipoprotein B (ery-apoB) are unknown. We aimed to explore the determinants of ery-apoB to gain more insight into potential mechanisms.
Subjects with and without CVD were included (N = 398). Ery-apoB was measured on fresh whole blood samples using flow cytometry. Subjects with ery-apoB levels ≤0.20 a.u. were considered deficient. Carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) was determined as a measure of (subclinical) atherosclerosis.
Mean ery-apoB value was 23.2% lower in subjects with increased CIMT (0.80±0.09 mm, N = 140) compared to subjects with a normal CIMT (0.57±0.08 mm, N = 258) (P = 0.007, adjusted P<0.001). CIMT and ery-apoB were inversely correlated (Spearman’s r: –0.116, P = 0.021). A total of 55 subjects (13.6%) were considered ery-apoB deficient, which was associated with a medical history of CVD (OR: 1.86, 95% CI 1.04–3.33; adjusted OR: 1.55; 95% CI 0.85–2.82). Discontinuation of statins in 54 subjects did not influence ery-apoB values despite a 58.4% increase in serum apolipoprotein B. Subjects with blood group O had significantly higher ery-apoB values (1.56±0.94 a.u.) when compared to subjects with blood group A (0.89±1.15 a.u), blood group B (0.73±0.1.12 a.u.) or blood group AB (0.69±0.69 a.u.) (P-ANOVA = 0.002).
Absence or very low values of ery-apoB are associated with clinical and subclinical atherosclerosis. While serum apolipoprotein B is not associated with ery-apoB, the ABO blood group seems to be a significant determinant.
PMCID: PMC3777967  PMID: 24069429
6.  Systemic Inflammation and Lung Function Impairment in Morbidly Obese Subjects with the Metabolic Syndrome 
Journal of Obesity  2013;2013:131349.
Background. Obesity and asthma are associated. There is a relationship between lung function impairment and the metabolic syndrome. Whether this relationship also exists in the morbidly obese patients is still unknown. Hypothesis. Low-grade systemic inflammation associated with the metabolic syndrome causes inflammation in the lungs and, hence, lung function impairment. Methods. This is cross-sectional study of morbidly obese patients undergoing preoperative screening for bariatric surgery. Metabolic syndrome was assessed according to the revised NCEP-ATP III criteria. Results. A total of 452 patients were included. Patients with the metabolic syndrome (n = 293) had significantly higher blood monocyte (mean 5.3 versus 4.9, P = 0.044) and eosinophil percentages (median 1.0 versus 0.8, P = 0.002), while the total leukocyte count did not differ between the groups. The FEV1/FVC ratio was significantly lower in patients with the metabolic syndrome (76.7% versus 78.2%, P = 0.032). Blood eosinophils were associated with FEV1/FVC ratio (adj. B −0.113, P = 0.018). Conclusion. Although the difference in FEV1/FVC ratio between the groups is relatively small, in this cross-sectional study, and its clinical relevance may be limited, these data indicate that the presence of the metabolic syndrome may influence lung function impairment, through the induction of relative eosinophilia.
PMCID: PMC3595660  PMID: 23509614
7.  Obstetrical outcome valuations by patients, professionals, and laypersons: differences within and between groups using three valuation methods 
Decision-making can be based on treatment preferences of the patient, the doctor, or by guidelines based on lay people's preferences. We compared valuations assigned by three groups: patients, obstetrical care professionals, and laypersons, for health states involving both mother and (unborn) child. Our aim was to compare the valuations of different groups using different valuation methods and complex obstetric health outcome vignettes that involve both maternal and neonatal outcomes.
Patients (n = 24), professionals (n = 30), and laypersons (n = 27) valued the vignettes using three valuation methods: visual analogue scale (VAS), time trade-off (TTO), and discrete choice experimentation (DCE). Each vignette covered five health attributes: maternal health ante partum, time between diagnosis and delivery, process of delivery, maternal outcome, and neonatal outcome. We used feasibility questionnaires, Generalization theory, test-retest reliability and within-group reliability to compare the valuation patterns between groups and methods. We assessed relative weights from each valuation method to test for consistency across groups.
Test-retest reliability was equal across groups, but different across methods: highest for VAS (ICC = 0.61-0.73), intermediate for TTO (ICC = 0.24-0.74) and lowest for DCE (kappa = 0.15-0.37). Within-group reliability was highest in all groups with VAS (ICC = 0.70-0.73), intermediate with DCE (kappa = 0.56-0.76) and lowest with TTO (ICC = 0.20-0.66). Effects of groups were smaller than effects of methods. Differences between groups were largest for severe health states.
Based on our results, decision making among laypersons should use TTO or DCE; patients should use VAS or TTO.
PMCID: PMC3226638  PMID: 22078302
health outcome valuation; preference; vignettes; psychometrics; pregnancy; obstetrics
8.  Contribution of Primary Pelvic Organ Prolapse to Micturition and Defecation Symptoms 
Objective. To investigate the contribution of Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) to micturition and defecation symptoms. Method. Cross-sectional study including 64 women presenting with POP symptoms and 50 controls without POP complaints. Subjects were evaluated using POP-Quantification system, Urinary Distress Inventory, and Defecation Distress Inventory. The MOS SF-36 health survey and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale were used to measure self-perceived health status and depressive symptoms, respectively. Results. POP in terms of POP-Q had a moderate impact on the symptom observing vaginal protrusion (explained variance 0.31). It contributed modestly to obstructive voiding and overactive bladder symptoms (explained variance 0.09, resp., 0.14) but not to urinary incontinence. Constipation was more likely explained by clinical depression than by pelvic floor defects (explained variance 0.13, resp., 0.05). Conclusion. Stage of POP and specific prolapse symptoms are associated but such a strong association does not exist between POP and micturition or defecation symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3182371  PMID: 21969831
9.  Economic evaluation of multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification and karyotyping in prenatal diagnosis: a cost-minimization analysis 
To assess the cost-effectiveness of Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification (MLPA, P095 kit) compared to karyotyping.
A cost-minimization analysis alongside a nationwide prospective clinical study of 4,585 women undergoing amniocentesis on behalf of their age (≥36 years), an increased risk following first trimester prenatal screening or parental anxiety.
Diagnostic accuracy of MLPA (P095 kit) was comparable to karyotyping (1.0 95% CI 0.999–1.0). Health-related quality of life did not differ between the strategies (summary physical health: mean difference 0.31, p = 0.82; summary mental health: mean difference 1.91, p = 0.22). Short-term costs were lower for MLPA: mean difference €315.68 (bootstrap 95% CI €315.63–315.74; −44.4%). The long-term costs were slightly higher for MLPA: mean difference €76.42 (bootstrap 95% CI €71.32–81.52; +8.6%). Total costs were on average €240.13 (bootstrap 95% CI €235.02–245.23; −14.9%) lower in favor of MLPA. Cost differences were sensitive to proportion of terminated pregnancies, sample throughput, individual choice and performance of tests in one laboratory, but not to failure rate or the exclusion of polluted samples.
From an economic perspective, MLPA is the preferred prenatal diagnostic strategy in women who undergo amniocentesis on behalf of their age, following prenatal screening or parental anxiety.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00404-011-1921-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3249153  PMID: 21594605
Prenatal diagnosis; Rapid aneuploidy detection; MLPA; Karyotyping; Costs; Cost-effectiveness analysis
10.  Maternal health-related quality of life after induction of labor or expectant monitoring in pregnancy complicated by intrauterine growth retardation beyond 36 weeks 
Quality of Life Research  2011;20(9):1427-1436.
Pregnancies complicated by intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) beyond 36 weeks of gestation are at increased risk of neonatal morbidity and mortality. Optimal treatment in IUGR at term is highly debated. Results from the multicenter DIGITAT (Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term) trial show that induction of labor and expectant monitoring result in equal neonatal and maternal outcomes for comparable cesarean section rates. We report the maternal health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) that was measured alongside the trial at several points in time.
Both randomized and non-randomized women were asked to participate in the HR-QoL study. Women were asked to fill out written validated questionnaires, covering background characteristics, condition-specific issues and the Short Form (SF-36), European Quality of Life (EuroQoL 6D3L), Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HADS), and Symptom Check List (SCL-90) at baseline, 6 weeks postpartum and 6 months postpartum. We compared the difference scores of all summary measures between the two management strategies by ANOVA. A repeated measures multivariate mixed model was defined to assess the effect of the management strategies on the physical (PCS) and mental (MCS) components of the SF-36. Analysis was by intention to treat.
We analyzed data of 361 randomized and 198 non-randomized patients. There were no clinically relevant differences between the treatments at 6 weeks or 6 months postpartum on any summary measures; e.g., on the SF-36 (PCS: P = .09; MCS: P = .48). The PCS and the MCS were below norm values at inclusion. The PCS improved over time but stayed below norm values at 6 months, while the MCS did not improve.
In pregnancies complicated by IUGR beyond 36 weeks, induction of labor does not affect the long-term maternal quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3195683  PMID: 21468753
Intrauterine growth retardation; Small for gestational age; Quality of life; Induction of labor; Expectant management
11.  Obtaining insurance after DNA diagnostics: a survey among hypertrophic cardiomyopathy mutation carriers 
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is a common hereditary heart disease associated with increased mortality. Disclosure of DNA test results may have social implications such as low access to insurance. In the Netherlands, insurance companies are restricted in the use of genetic information of their clients by the Medical Examination Act. A cross-sectional survey was used to assess the frequency and type of problems encountered by HCM mutation carriers applying for insurance, and associations with carriers' characteristics. The response rate was 86% (228/264). A total of 66 carriers (29%) applied for insurance of whom 39 reported problems (59%) during an average follow-up of 3 years since the DNA test result. More problems were encountered by carriers with manifest disease (P<0.001) and carriers with symptoms of HCM (P=0.049). Carriers identified after predictive DNA testing less frequently experienced problems (P=0.002). Three carriers without manifest HCM reported problems (5% of applicants). Frequently reported problems were higher premium (72%), grant access to medical records (62%), and complete rejection (33%). In conclusion, HCM mutation carriers frequently encounter problems when applying for insurances, often in the case of manifest disease, but the risk assessment of insurance companies is largely justified. Still, 5% of carriers encounter potentially unjustified problems, indicating the necessity to monitor the application of the existing laws and regulations by insurance companies and to educate counselees on the implications of these laws and regulations.
PMCID: PMC2987186  PMID: 19672285
hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; insurance; genetic testing
12.  Individual accumulation of heterogeneous risks explains perinatal inequalities within deprived neighbourhoods 
European Journal of Epidemiology  2011;26(2):165-180.
Dutch’ figures on perinatal mortality and morbidity are poor compared to EU-standards. Considerable within-country differences have been reported too, with decreased perinatal health in deprived urban areas. We investigated associations between perinatal risk factors and adverse perinatal outcomes in 7,359 pregnant women participating in population-based prospective cohort study, to establish the independent role, if any, for living within a deprived urban neighbourhood. Main outcome measures included perinatal death, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), prematurity, congenital malformations, Apgar at 5 min < 7, and pre-eclampsia. Information regarding individual risk factors was obtained from questionnaires, physical examinations, ultrasounds, biological samples, and medical records. The dichotomous Dutch deprivation indicator was additionally used to test for unexplained deprived urban area effects. Pregnancies from a deprived neighbourhood had an increased risk for perinatal death (RR 1.8, 95% CI [1.1; 3.1]). IUGR, prematurity, Apgar at 5 min < 7, and pre-eclampsia also showed higher prevalences (P < 0.05). Residing within a deprived neighbourhood was associated with increased prevalence of all measured risk factors. Regression analysis showed that the observed neighbourhood related differences in perinatal outcomes could be attributed to the increased risk factor prevalence only, without a separated role for living within a deprived neighbourhood. Women from a deprived neighbourhood had significantly more ‘possibly avoidable’ risk factors. To conclude, women from a socioeconomically deprived neighbourhood are at an increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Differences regarding possibly avoidable risk factors imply that preventive strategies may prove effective.
PMCID: PMC3043261  PMID: 21203801
Perinatal mortality; Prevention; Residence characteristics; Pregnancy; Risk factors
13.  Underutilization of prescribed drugs use among first generation elderly immigrants in the Netherlands 
In developed countries, health care utilization among immigrant groups differs where the dominant interpretation is unjustified overutilization due to lack of acculturation. We investigated utilization of prescribed drugs in native Dutch and various groups of immigrant elderly.
Cross-sectional study using data from the survey "Social Position, Health and Well-being of Elderly Immigrants" (the Netherlands, 2003). Ethnicity-matched interviewers conducted the survey among first generation immigrants aged 55 years and older. Outcome measure is self-reported use of prescribed drugs. Utilization is explained by need, and by enabling and predisposing factors, in particular acculturation; analysis is conducted by multiple logistic regression.
The study population consisted of immigrants from Turkey (n = 307), Morocco (n = 284), Surinam (n = 308) and the Netherlands Antilles (n = 300), and a native Dutch reference group (n = 304). Prevalence of diabetes mellitus (DM), COPD and musculoskeletal disorders was relatively high among immigrant elderly. Drug utilization in especially Turkish and Moroccan elderly with DM and COPD was relatively low. Drugs use for non-mental chronic diseases was explained by more chronic conditions (OR 2.64), higher age (OR 1.03), and modern attitudes on male-female roles (OR 0.74) and religiosity (OR 0.89). Ethnicity specific effects remained only among Turkish elderly (OR 0.42). Drugs use for mental health problems was explained by more chronic conditions (OR 1.43), better mental health (OR 0.95) and modern attitudes on family values (OR 0.59). Ethnicity specific effects remained only among Moroccan (OR 0.19) and Antillean elderly (OR 0.31). Explanation of underutilization of drugs among diseased with diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders are found in number of chronic diseases (OR 0.74 and OR 0.78) and regarding diabetes also in language proficiency (OR 0.66) and modern attitudes on male-female roles (OR 1.69).
Need and predisposing factors (acculturation) are the strongest determinants for drugs utilization among elderly immigrants. Significant drugs underutilization exists among migrants with diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders.
PMCID: PMC2901342  PMID: 20569456
14.  Ethnic background and differences in health care use: a national cross-sectional study of native Dutch and immigrant elderly in the Netherlands 
Immigrant elderly are a rapidly growing group in Dutch society; little is known about their health care use. This study assesses whether ethnic disparities in health care use exist and how they can be explained. Applying an established health care access model as explanatory factors, we tested health and socio-economic status, and in view of our research population we added an acculturation variable, elaborated into several sub-domains.
Cross-sectional study using data from the "Social Position, Health and Well-being of Elderly Immigrants" survey, conducted in 2003 in the Netherlands. The study population consisted of first generation immigrants aged 55 years and older from the four major immigrant populations in the Netherlands and a native Dutch reference group. The average response rate to the survey was 46% (1503/3284; country of origin: Turkey n = 307, Morocco n = 284, Surinam n = 308, the Netherlands Antilles n = 300, the Netherlands n = 304).
High ethnic disparities exist in health and health care utilisation. Immigrant elderly show a higher use of GP services and lower use of physical therapy and home care. Both self-reported health status (need factor) and language competence (part of acculturation) have high explanatory power for all types of health services utilisation; the additional impact of socio-economic status and education is low.
For all health services, health disparities among all four major immigrant groups in the Netherlands translate into utilisation disparities, aggravated by lack of language competence. The resulting pattern of systematic lower health services utilisation of elderly immigrants is a challenge for health care providers and policy makers.
PMCID: PMC2768713  PMID: 19814786
15.  Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification versus karyotyping in prenatal diagnosis: the M.A.K.E. study 
In the past 30 years karyotyping was the gold standard for prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal aberrations in the fetus. Traditional karyotyping (TKT) has a high accuracy and reliability. However, it is labor intensive, the results take 14–21 days, the costs are high and unwanted findings such as abnormalities with unknown clinical relevance are not uncommon. These disadvantages challenged the practice of karyotyping. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a new molecular genetic technique in prenatal diagnosis. Previous preclinical evidence suggests equivalence of MLPA and traditional karyotyping (TKT) regarding test performance.
The proposed study is a multicentre diagnostic substitute study among pregnant women, who choose to have amniocentesis for the indication advanced maternal age and/or increased risk following prenatal screening test. In all subjects, both MLPA and karyotyping will be performed on the amniotic fluid sample. The primary outcome is diagnostic accuracy. Secondary outcomes will be maternal quality of life, women's preferences and costs. Analysis will be intention to treat and per protocol analysis. Quality of life analysis will be carried out within the study population. The study aims to include 4500 women.
The study results are expected to help decide whether MLPA can replace traditional karyotyping for 'low-risk' pregnancies in terms of diagnostic accuracy, quality of life and women's preferences. This will be the first clinical study to report on all relevant aspects of the potential replacement.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN47252164
PMCID: PMC2405770  PMID: 18492228
16.  Sexuality and Body Image After Uterine Artery Embolization and Hysterectomy in the Treatment of Uterine Fibroids: A Randomized Comparison 
In this paper the effect of uterine artery embolization (UAE) on sexual functioning and body image is investigated in a randomized comparison to hysterectomy for symptomatic uterine fibroids. The EMbolization versus hysterectoMY (EMMY) trial is a randomized controlled study, conducted at 28 Dutch hospitals. Patients were allocated hysterectomy (n = 89) or UAE (n = 88). Two validated questionnaires (the Sexual Activity Questionnaire [SAQ] and the Body Image Scale [BIS]) were completed by all patients at baseline, 6 weeks, and 6, 12, 18, and 24 months after treatment. Repeated measurements on SAQ scores revealed no differences between the groups. There was a trend toward improved sexual function in both groups at 2 years, although this failed to reach statistical significance except for the dimensions discomfort and habit in the UAE arm. Overall quality of sexual life deteriorated in a minority of cases at all time points, with no significant differences between the groups (at 24 months: UAE, 29.3%, versus hysterectomy, 23.5%; p = 0.32). At 24 months the BIS score had improved in both groups compared to baseline, but the change was only significant in the UAE group (p = 0.009). In conclusion, at 24 months no differences in sexuality and body image were observed between the UAE and the hysterectomy group. On average, both after UAE and hysterectomy sexual functioning and body image scores improved, but significantly so only after UAE.
PMCID: PMC2039794  PMID: 17671809
Uterine artery embolization; Hysterectomy; Fibroid; Leiomyoma; Sexuality; Body image
17.  Induction of labour versus expectant monitoring in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at term: the HYPITAT trial 
Hypertensive disorders, i.e. pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia, complicate 10 to15% of all pregnancies at term and are a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. The only causal treatment is delivery. In case of preterm pregnancies conservative management is advocated if the risks for mother and child remain acceptable. In contrast, there is no consensus on how to manage mild hypertensive disease in pregnancies at term. Induction of labour might prevent maternal and neonatal complications at the expense of increased instrumental vaginal delivery rates and caesarean section rates.
Women with a pregnancy complicated by pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Women will be randomised to either induction of labour or expectant management for spontaneous delivery. The primary outcome of this study is severe maternal morbidity, which can be complicated by maternal mortality in rare cases. Secondary outcome measures are neonatal mortality and morbidity, caesarean and vaginal instrumental delivery rates, maternal quality of life and costs. Analysis will be by intention to treat. In total, 720 pregnant women have to be randomised to show a reduction in severe maternal complications of hypertensive disease from 12 to 6%.
This trial will provide evidence as to whether or not induction of labour in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia (nearly) at term is an effective treatment to prevent severe maternal complications.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN08132825.
PMCID: PMC1950708  PMID: 17662114
18.  Evaluating the discriminatory power of EQ-5D, HUI2 and HUI3 in a US general population survey using Shannon’s indices 
Quality of Life Research  2007;16(5):895-904.
To compare quantitatively the discriminatory power of the EQ-5D, HUI2 and HUI3 in terms of absolute and relative informativity, using Shannon’s indices.
EQ-5D and HUI2/3 data completed by a sample of the general adult US population (N = 3,691) were used. Five dimensions allowed head-to-head comparison of informativity: Mobility/Ambulation; Anxiety/Depression/Emotion; Pain/Discomfort (EQ-5D; HUI2; HUI3); Self-Care (EQ-5D; HUI2); and Cognition (HUI2; HUI3). Shannon’s index and Shannon’s Evenness index were used to assess absolute and relative informativity, both by dimension and by instrument as a whole.
Absolute informativity was highest for HUI3, with the largest differences in Pain/Discomfort and Cognition. Relative informativity was highest for EQ-5D, with the largest differences in Mobility/Ambulation and Anxiety/Depression/Emotion. Absolute informativity by instrument was consistently highest for HUI3 and lowest for EQ-5D, and relative informativity was highest for EQ-5D and lowest for HUI3.
Performance in terms of absolute and relative informativity of the common dimensions of the three instruments varies over dimensions. Several dimensions are suboptimal: Pain/Discomfort (EQ-5D) seems too crude with only 3 levels, and the level descriptions of Ambulation (HUI3) and Self-Care (HUI2) could be improved. In absence of a formal measure, Shannon’s indices provide useful measures for assessing discriminatory power of utility instruments.
PMCID: PMC1915610  PMID: 17294285
Health status; Methodology; Psychometrics; Population health; Health-related quality-of-life
19.  Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term: DIGITAT 
Around 80% of intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) infants are born at term. They have an increase in perinatal mortality and morbidity including behavioral problems, minor developmental delay and spastic cerebral palsy. Management is controversial, in particular the decision whether to induce labour or await spontaneous delivery with strict fetal and maternal surveillance. We propose a randomised trial to compare effectiveness, costs and maternal quality of life for induction of labour versus expectant management in women with a suspected IUGR fetus at term.
The proposed trial is a multi-centre randomised study in pregnant women who are suspected on clinical grounds of having an IUGR child at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks. After informed consent women will be randomly allocated to either induction of labour or expectant management with maternal and fetal monitoring. Randomisation will be web-based. The primary outcome measure will be a composite neonatal morbidity and mortality. Secondary outcomes will be severe maternal morbidity, maternal quality of life and costs. Moreover, we aim to assess neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral outcome at two years as assessed by a postal enquiry (Child Behavioral Check List-CBCL and Ages and Stages Questionnaire-ASQ). Analysis will be by intention to treat. Quality of life analysis and a preference study will also be performed in the same study population. Health technology assessment with an economic analysis is part of this so called Digitat trial (Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term). The study aims to include 325 patients per arm.
This trial will provide evidence for which strategy is superior in terms of neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, costs and maternal quality of life aspects. This will be the first randomised trial for IUGR at term.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register and ISRCTN-Register: ISRCTN10363217.
PMCID: PMC1933438  PMID: 17623077
20.  When outcome is a balance: methods to measure combined utility for the choice between induction of labour and expectant management in mild risk pregnancy at term 
When the primary and secondary outcomes of clinical studies yield ambiguous or conflicting recommendations, preference or valuation studies may help to overcome the decision problem. The present preference study is attached to two clinical studies (DIGTAT, ISRCT10363217; HYPITAT, ISRCT08132825) that evaluate induction of labour versus expectant management in term pregnancies with a mild risk profile. The purpose of the present study is to compare four methods of valuation/preference measurement.
Multidimensional health state descriptions ('vignettes') defined by attributes and levels are presented to different response groups: laypersons, (ex-) patients, and medical experts. Valuations/preferences are measured with the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Time Trade-Off (TTO), Willingness to Pay (WTP) and Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) techniques. These methods are compared in terms of feasibility, reliability and validity.
Anticipated results
By comparing the four techniques, we aim to answer (1) which of the techniques is most feasible, reliable and valid for use in multidimensional decision problems; (2) which of the techniques can be recommended for use in economic evaluations, and (3) do different response groups produce systematically different valuations, and if so, how can these be used to interpret preference results and to contribute to the development of clinical guidelines.
PMCID: PMC1949408  PMID: 17610715

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