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1.  The impact of eLearning on health professional educators’ attitudes to information and communication technology 
The use of information and communication technology (ICT) in health professional education is increasing rapidly. Health professional educators need to be responsive to health professionals’ information and communication technological needs; however, there is a paucity of information about educators’ attitudes to, and capabilities with, ICT.
Fifty-two health professional educators, enrolled in health professional education postgraduate studies, participated in an online subject with specific eLearning components requiring the use of ICT. They completed a pre- and postquestionnaire pertaining to ICT attitudes, confidence, and usage.
Participants reported significant increases in overall ICT confidence during the subject despite it being high at baseline (mean: 7.0 out of 10; P=0.02). Even with increased ICT confidence, there were decreases in the participants’ sense of ICT control when related to health professional education (P=0.002); whereas, the amount of time participants engaged with ICT devices was negatively correlated with the sense of ICT control (P=0.002). The effect of age and health discipline on ICT attitudes and confidence was not significant (P>0.05).
This study reports that health professional educators have perceptual deficits toward ICT. The impact of eLearning increased confidence in ICT but caused a reduction in participants’ sense of control of ICT. Health professional educators require more ICT training and support to facilitate better ICT integration in health professional education settings.
PMCID: PMC4319553
confidence; sense of control
2.  Unmet health care needs for persons with environmental sensitivity 
Studies of unmet health care needs have shown that women, people with poor health, and people with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to report having unmet health care needs. In this study, we examined the types of and reasons for unmet health care needs in 465 people with environmental sensitivities. A second area of inquiry involved negative reactions to general anesthesia. Results showed that the most common barriers to receiving care were the inability to find a provider who understands environmental sensitivities and a lack of accessibility due to chemical and electromagnetic exposures in health care environments. Lower income and poorer health (longer illness, a worsening or fluctuating course of illness, and a higher level of disability) were significantly correlated with the total number of reported unmet health care needs. Some people with environmental sensitivities reported having negative reactions to anesthesia of long duration; most common were nausea and vomiting, fatigue, and reduced cognitive ability.
PMCID: PMC4315542
environmental sensitivity; chemical sensitivity; electrohypersensitivity; chemical hypersensitivity; chemical intolerance; contested illness
3.  Nutritional self-care among a group of older home-living people in rural Southern Norway 
Older home-living people are an at-risk group for undernutrition, particularly those who are living alone. Lack of knowledge about healthy dietary habits, altered taste sensation, and declined health status are shown to be some of the factors related to undernutrition. The aims of this study were to explore how a small group of older people in Southern Norway perceived their nutritional self-care.
An exploratory qualitative approach, combined with a simple self-report questionnaire, was used. Five persons living in rural areas in Southern Norway, who in a former study were screened and found to be at risk for undernutrition, participated. Qualitative data assessed by means of individual self-care talks in the persons’ own homes were analyzed using directed content analysis. A simple self-report questionnaire containing demographic variables, two health-related questions, and the Nutritional Form For the Elderly (NUFFE-NO) instrument was filled out at baseline and 6 months after the self-care talks.
The qualitative data showed that the participants had adequate knowledge about healthy and nutritious diets. They were aware of and motivated to adapt their diet to their current state of health and to perform the necessary actions to maintain an optimal nutritional status and nutritional self-care.
Older people living at home are a diverse group. However, this study showed that they may have sufficient knowledge, willingness, and ability to perform nutritional self-care, even if they live alone and have several chronic illnesses and impaired health.
PMCID: PMC4315559
adapting; decision-making; knowledge; self-care talks
4.  Care coordination between specialty care and primary care: a focus group study of provider perspectives on strong practices and improvement opportunities 
Care coordination between the specialty care provider (SCP) and the primary care provider (PCP) is a critical component of safe, efficient, and patient-centered care. Veterans Health Administration conducted a series of focus groups of providers, from specialty care and primary care clinics at VA Medical Centers nationally, to assess 1) what SCPs and PCPs perceive to be current practices that enable or hinder effective care coordination with one another and 2) how these perceptions differ between the two groups of providers. A qualitative thematic analysis of the gathered data validates previous studies that identify communication as being an important enabler of coordination, and uncovers relationship building between specialty care and primary care (particularly through both formal and informal relationship-building opportunities such as collaborative seminars and shared lunch space, respectively) to be the most notable facilitator of effective communication between the two sides. Results from this study suggest concrete next steps that medical facilities can take to improve care coordination, using as their basis the mutual understanding and respect developed between SCPs and PCPs through relationship-building efforts.
PMCID: PMC4310270  PMID: 25653538
referral and consultation; interdepartmental relations; multidisciplinary communication; qualitative research
5.  Role of betaine in improving the antidepressant effect of S-adenosyl-methionine in patients with mild-to-moderate depression 
S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) is a common add-on treatment used to counteract depressive symptoms in subjects with mild-to-moderate depression, who are low responders to other antidepressant drugs. However, there is some concern about the possible impact of SAMe therapy on homocysteine levels. Betaine is known both to counteract high level of homocysteine in plasma and to increase liquor and plasma levels of SAMe, thus potentiating its effect.
To evaluate the role played by betaine, administered along with SAMe, in potentiating the antidepressive role played by SAMe administered as such.
The study enrolled 46 subjects with a diagnosis of mild-to-moderate depression according to the Beck Depression Inventory Scale II. All the subjects had a suboptimal control of their symptoms. After randomization, they were treated with adjunctive treatment with either Samyr® (enteric-coated SAMe) or DDM Metile® (enteric-coated SAMe plus betaine) for 90 days.
Both treatments acted similarly in improving symptoms such as anxiety, psychomotor agitation, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, physical efficiency, and somatization, but treatment with DDM Metile® determined better statistically significant results following a 90-day therapy. Tolerability and compliance were overlapping in both the treatments.
The association of SAMe plus betaine seemed to demonstrate more effectiveness than SAMe alone when administered as an add-on therapy to subjects, affected by mild-to-moderate depression, who were low responders to conventional antidepressants.
PMCID: PMC4303396  PMID: 25653537
DDM Metile®; Samyr®; Betaine; SAMe; mild-to-moderate depression; methyl donor
6.  Physicians’ experience adopting the electronic transfer of care communication tool: barriers and opportunities 
The purpose of this study was to assess physicians’ perceptions on a newly developed electronic transfer of care (e-TOC) communication tool and identify barriers and opportunities toward its adoption.
Participants and methods
The study was conducted in a tertiary care teaching center as part of a randomized controlled trial assessing the efficacy of an e-TOC communication tool. The e-TOC technology was developed through iterative consultation with stakeholders. This e-TOC summary was populated by acute care physicians (AcPs) and communicated electronically to community care physicians (CcPs). The AcPs consisted of attending physicians, resident trainees, and medical students rotating through the Medical Teaching Unit. The CcPs were health care providers caring for patients discharged from hospital to the community. AcPs and CcPs completed validated surveys assessing their experience with the newly developed e-TOC tool. Free text questions were added to gather general comments from both groups of physicians. Units of analysis were individual physicians. Data from the surveys were analyzed using mixed methods.
AcPs completed 138 linked pre- and post-rotation surveys. At post-rotation, each AcP completed an average of six e-TOC summaries, taking an average of 37 minutes per e-TOC summary. Over 100 CcPs assessed the quality of the TOC summaries, with an overall rating of 8.3 (standard deviation: 1.48; on a scale of 1–10). Thematic analyses revealed barriers and opportunities encountered by physicians toward the adoption of the e-TOC tool. While the AcPs highlighted issues with timeliness, usability, and presentation, the CcPs identified barriers accessing the web-based TOC summaries, emphasizing that the summaries were timely and the quality of information supported continuity of care.
Despite the barriers identified by both groups of physicians, the e-TOC communication tool was well received. Our experience can serve as a template for other health research teams considering the implementation of e-health technologies into health care systems.
PMCID: PMC4298297  PMID: 25609977
e-health; transition; summary; informatics
7.  Structured nursing communication on interdisciplinary acute care teams improves perceptions of safety, efficiency, understanding of care plan and teamwork as well as job satisfaction 
Efficient, accurate, and timely communication is required for quality health care and is strongly linked to health care staff job satisfaction. Developing ways to improve communication is key to increasing quality of care, and interdisciplinary care teams allow for improved communication among health care professionals. This study examines the patient- and family-centered use of structured interdisciplinary bedside rounds (SIBR) on an acute care for the elderly (ACE) unit in a 555-bed metropolitan community hospital. This mixed methods study surveyed 24 nurses, therapists, patient care assistants, and social workers to measure perceptions of teamwork, communication, understanding of the plan for the day, safety, efficiency, and job satisfaction. A similar survey was administered to a control group of 38 of the same staff categories on different units in the same hospital. The control group units utilized traditional physician-centric rounding. Significant differences were found in each category between the SIBR staff on the ACE unit and the control staff. Nurse job satisfaction is an important marker of retention and recruitment, and improved communication may be an important aspect of increasing this satisfaction. Furthermore, improved communication is key to maintaining a safe hospital environment with quality patient care. Interdisciplinary team rounds that take place at the bedside improve both nursing satisfaction and related communication markers of quality and safety, and may help to achieve higher nurse retention and safer patient care. These results point to the interconnectedness and dual benefit to both job satisfaction and patient quality of care that can come from enhancements to team communication.
PMCID: PMC4298312  PMID: 25609978
interprofessional teams; patient- and family-centered care; structured interdisciplinary bedside rounds; ACE unit; health care teams
8.  An intervention designed to improve sensory impairments in the elderly and indoor lighting in their homes: an exploratory randomized controlled trial 
Vision and hearing impairments in the elderly (aged over 80 years) and poor indoor lighting conditions in a home-care setting are risk factors for functional decline, reduced social participation, withdrawal, and accidents.
We aimed to evaluate the changes in vision, hearing, and lighting conditions in the homes of participants aged over 80 years after implementation of a clinical intervention.
We undertook an exploratory randomized, controlled experimental study of sensory impairments and lighting conditions in the homes of elderly aged over 80 years who received home care. The intervention group (IG) received advice and encouragement to improve their vision, hearing, and indoor lighting conditions in the home, with a 10-week follow-up period. The control group (CG) received their usual care and underwent the same vision and hearing tests but were provided no intervention.
Vision and hearing (self-assessed) and tested by Wilcoxon rank-sum test were significantly better (P=0.025 and P=0.008, respectively) in the IG after the intervention and follow-up. The test between the groups showed a significance of P=0.026 for visual acuity and P=0.098 for pure-tone average. The maximum and minimum lighting levels were significantly improved in the IG after the intervention (P=0.002 and P=0.039, respectively) but were unchanged in the CG.
Several of the IG participants did not follow all of the advice; however, among those who did, vision, hearing, and lighting conditions were all significantly improved. It appears that modest interventions have great potential for improving vision and hearing. Older patients in the home-care setting cannot be expected to take the necessary action to improve their sensory impairments by themselves. They require close monitoring, help from a specialist, and help to improve the indoor lighting conditions in their homes.
PMCID: PMC4295531
vision and hearing impairments; home lighting conditions; old people; home care
9.  Subdural porous and notched mini-grid electrodes for wireless intracranial electroencephalographic recordings 
Intracranial electroencephalography (EEG) studies are widely used in the presurgical evaluation of drug-refractory patients with partial epilepsy. Because chronic implantation of intracranial electrodes carries a risk of infection, hemorrhage, and edema, it is best to limit the number of electrodes used without compromising the ability to localize the epileptogenic zone (EZ). There is always a risk that an intracranial study may fail to identify the EZ because of suboptimal coverage. We present a new subdural electrode design that will allow better sampling of suspected areas of epileptogenicity with lower risk to patients.
Impedance of the proposed electrodes was characterized in vitro using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. The appearance of the novel electrodes on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was tested by placing the electrodes into a gel solution (0.9% NaCl with 14 g gelatin). In vivo neural recordings were performed in male Sprague Dawley rats. Performance comparisons were made using microelectrode recordings from rat cortex and subdural/depth recordings from epileptic patients. Histological examinations of rat brain after 3-week icEEG intracerebral electroencephalography (icEEG) recordings were performed.
The in vitro results showed minimum impedances for optimum choice of pure gold materials for electrode contacts and wire. Different attributes of the new electrodes were identified on MRI. The results of in vivo recordings demonstrated signal stability, 50% noise reduction, and up to 6 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) improvement as compared to commercial electrodes. The wireless icEEG recording system demonstrated on average a 2% normalized root-mean-square (RMS) deviation. Following the long-term icEEG recording, brain histological results showed no abnormal tissue reaction in the underlying cortex.
The proposed subdural electrode system features attributes that could potentially translate into better icEEG recordings and allow sampling of large of areas of epileptogenicity at lower risk to patients. Further validation for use in humans is required.
PMCID: PMC4266360  PMID: 25525368
epilepsy; seizure; monitoring; surgery; electrodes
10.  Web-based collaboration in individual care planning challenges the user and the provider roles – toward a power transition in caring relationships 
Background and objective
The Individual Care Plan (ICP) was introduced in Norway to meet new statutory requirements for user participation in health care planning, incorporating multidisciplinary and cross-sector collaboration. A web-based solution (electronic ICP [e-ICP]) was used to support the planning and documentation. The aim of this study was to investigate how web-based collaboration challenged user and professional roles.
Data were obtained from 15 semistructured interviews with users and eight with care professionals, and from two focus-group interviews with eight care professionals in total. The data were analyzed using systematic text condensation in a stepwise analysis model.
Users and care professionals took either a proactive or a reluctant role in e-ICP collaboration. Where both user and care professionals were proactive, the pairing helped to ensure that the planning worked well; so did pairings of proactive care professionals and reluctant users. Proactive users paired with reluctant care professionals also made care planning work, thanks to the availability of information and the users’ own capacity or willingness to conduct the planning. Where both parties were reluctant, no planning activities occurred.
Use of the e-ICP challenged the user–professional relationship. In some cases, a power transition took place in the care process, which led to patient empowerment. This knowledge might be used to develop a new understanding of how role function can be challenged when users and care professionals have equal access to health care documentation and planning tools.
PMCID: PMC4266327  PMID: 25525367
integrated care; patient participation; empowerment; role transition; system testing; web-based collaboration; Norway
11.  User involvement as sharing knowledge – an extended perspective in patient education 
Patient education is undergoing a paradigm shift in which the perspectives of patients are increasingly being incorporated into learning programs. Access to the users’ experience is now considered a prerequisite for the development of quality health services, but how this user experience is incorporated is somewhat unclear. The inclusion of experiential knowledge and user involvement can challenge professional authority, roles, and working methods because knowledge sharing is different from persuasion, professional explanation, and consent. Dialogue and collaboration between professionals and users are essential to effective user involvement; however, little is understood about the characteristics of their collaboration.
To describe characteristics of the collaboration between users and health professionals in developing, implementing, and evaluating patient education courses in hospitals.
Design, setting, and methods
A field study was conducted in three different hospitals. Data collection comprised open observations in meetings of 17 different collaboration groups with a total of 100 participants, and 24 interviews with users and professionals. The data analyses included both thematic and the Systematic Data Integration approach.
Two contrasting types of collaboration emerged from the analyses; knowledge sharing and information exchange. The first was characterized by mutual knowledge sharing, involvement, and reciprocal decision making. Characteristics of the second were the absence of dialogue, meagre exploration of the users’ knowledge, and decisions usually made by the professionals.
Collaboration between users and health personnel takes place in an asymmetric relationship. Mutual knowledge sharing was found to be more than the exchange of information and consultation and also to be a prerequisite for shared decision making. In developing patient education when users are involved the health professionals have the power and responsibility to ensure that knowledge sharing with users takes place.
PMCID: PMC4257108  PMID: 25489248
user involvement; patient education; professional–patient relations; knowledge sharing
12.  Public health service options for affordable and accessible noncommunicable disease and related chronic disease prevention and management 
Globally, nations are confronted with the challenge of providing affordable health services to populations with increasing levels of noncommunicable and chronic disease. Paradoxically, many nations can both celebrate increases in life expectancy and bemoan parallel increases in chronic disease prevalence. Simply put, despite living longer, not all of that time is spent in good health. Combined with factors such as rising levels of obesity and related noncommunicable disease, the demand for health services is requiring nations to consider new models of affordable health care. Given the level of disease burden, all staff, not just doctors, need to be part of the solution and encouraged to innovate and deliver better and more affordable health care, particularly preventative primary health care services. This paper draws attention to a range of exemplars to encourage and stimulate readers to think beyond traditional models of primary health service delivery. Examples include nurse-led, allied health-led, and student-led clinics; student-assisted services; and community empowerment models. These are reported for the interest of policy makers and health service managers involved in preventative and primary health service redesign initiatives.
PMCID: PMC4247142  PMID: 25473294
primary health care planning; community health care; nurse-led clinics; allied health personnel; health workforce
13.  Diabetes self-management education improves quality of care and clinical outcomes determined by a diabetes bundle measure 
The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of diabetes self-management education (DSME) in improving processes and outcomes of diabetes care as measured by a five component diabetes bundle and HbA1c, in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
A retrospective analysis was performed for adult T2DM patients who received DSME training in 2011–2012 from an accredited American Diabetes Association center at Intermountain Healthcare (IH) and had an HbA1c measurement within the prior 3 months and 2–6 months after completing their first DSME visit. Control patients were selected from the same clinics as case-patients using random number generator to achieve a 1 to 4 ratio. Case and control patients were included if 1) pre-education HbA1c was between 6.0%–14.0%; 2) their main provider was a primary care physician; 3) they met the national Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set criteria for inclusion in the IH diabetes registry. The IH diabetes bundle includes retinal eye exam, nephropathy screening or prescription of angiotensin converting enzyme or angiotensin receptor blocker; blood pressure <140/90 mmHg, LDL <100 mg/dL, HbA1c <8.0%.
DSME patients had a significant difference in achievement of the five element IH diabetes bundle and in HbA1c % compared to those without DSME. After adjusting for possible confounders in a multivariate logistic regression model, DSME patients had a 1.5 fold difference in improvement in their diabetes bundle and almost a 3 fold decline in HbA1c compared to the control group.
Standardized DSME taught within an IH American Diabetes Association center is strongly associated with a substantial improvement in patients meeting all five elements of a diabetes bundle and a decline in HbA1c beyond usual care. Given the low operating cost of the DSME program, these results strongly support the value adding benefit of this program in treating T2DM patients.
PMCID: PMC4247143  PMID: 25473293
diabetes; type 2 diabetes; HbA1c; bundle; diabetes education; DSME
14.  Men as caregivers of the elderly: support for the contributions of sons 
Emerging practice research on filial sources of health care support has indicated that there is a growing trend for sons to assume some responsibility for the health care needs of their aging parents. The purpose of this work is to propose that outcomes observed through a secondary analysis of data from a previous mixed methods research project, conducted with a sample of 60 elderly women residing in independent living centers, supports this concept in elder care. The present study is a retrospective interpretation utilizing the original database to examine the new question, “What specific roles do sons play in caregiving of their elderly mothers?” While daughters presently continue to emerge in existing health care studies as the primary care provider, there is a significant pattern in these data for older patients to depend upon sons for a variety of instrumental activities of daily living. As the baby-boomers age, there is more of cohort trend for their families to be smaller, adult daughters to be employed, and for adult children to be more geographically mobile. These factors may combine to make health care support networks more limited for the current aging population, challenging the elderly and their health care providers to revisit the cultural gender norms that are used to identify caregivers.
PMCID: PMC4234282  PMID: 25419142
sons as caregivers; male caregivers; aging parents; filial support; informal caregivers
15.  Five-year tracking of Plasmodium falciparum allele frequencies in a holoendemic area with indistinct seasonal transitions 
The renewed malaria eradication efforts require an understanding of the seasonal patterns of frequency of polymorphic variants in order to focus limited funds productively. Although cross-sectional studies in holoendemic areas spanning a single year could be useful in describing parasite genotype status at a given point, such information is inadequate in describing temporal trends in genotype polymorphisms. For Plasmodium falciparum isolates from Kisumu District Hospital, Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine-resistance transporter gene (Pfcrt-K76T) and P. falciparum multidrug resistance gene 1 (PfMDR1-N86Y), were analyzed for polymorphisms and parasitemia changes in the 53 months from March 2008 to August 2012. Observations were compared with prevailing climatic factors, including humidity, rainfall, and temperature.
Parasitemia (the percentage of infected red blood cells per total red blood cells) was established by microscopy for P. falciparum malaria-positive samples. P. falciparum DNA was extracted from whole blood using a Qiagen DNA Blood Mini Kit. Single nucleotide polymorphism identification at positions Pfcrt-K76T and PfMDR1-N86Y was performed using real-time polymerase chain reaction and/or sequencing. Data on climatic variables were obtained from
A total of 895 field isolates from 2008 (n=169), 2009 (n=161), 2010 (n=216), 2011 (n=223), and 2012 (n=126) showed large variations in monthly frequency of PfMDR1-N86Y and Pfcrt-K76T as the mutant genotypes decreased from 68.4%±15% and 38.1%±13% to 29.8%±18% and 13.3%±9%, respectively. The mean percentage of parasitemia was 2.61%±1.01% (coefficient of variation 115.86%; n=895). There was no correlation between genotype or parasitemia and climatic factors.
This study shows variability in the frequency of Pfcrt-K76T and PfMDR1-N86Y polymorphisms during the study period, bringing into focus the role of cross-sectional studies in describing temporal genotype trends. The lack of correlation between genotypes and climatic changes, especially precipitation, emphasizes the cost of investment in genotype change.
PMCID: PMC4227620  PMID: 25395861
PfMDR1-N86Y; Pfcrt-K76T; polymorphism; parasitemia
16.  Implementation of a collaborative care model for the treatment of depression and anxiety in a community health center: results from a qualitative case study 
The collaborative care model is a systematic approach to the treatment of depression and anxiety in primary care settings that involves the integration of care managers and consultant psychiatrists, with primary care physician oversight, to more proactively manage mental disorders as chronic diseases, rather than treating acute symptoms. While collaborative care has been shown to be more effective than usual primary care in improving depression outcomes in a number of studies, less is known about the factors that support the translation of this evidence-based intervention to real-world program implementation. The purpose of this case study was to examine the implementation of a collaborative care model in a community based primary care clinic that primarily serves a low-income, uninsured Latino population, in order to better understand the interdisciplinary relationships and the specific elements that might facilitate broader implementation.
An embedded single-case study design was chosen in order to thoroughly examine the components of one of several programs within a single organization. The main unit of analysis was semi-structured interviews that were conducted with seven clinical and administrative staff members. A grounded theory approach was used to analyze the interviews. Line-by-line initial coding resulted in over 150 initial codes, which were clustered together to rebuild the data into preliminary categories and then divided into four final categories, or main themes.
Four unique themes about how the implementation of a collaborative care model worked in this setting emerged from the interviews: organizational change, communication, processes and outcomes of the program, and barriers to implementation. Each main theme had a number of subthemes that provided a detailed description of the implementation process and how it was unique in this setting.
The results indicated that adequate training and preparation, acceptance and support from key personnel, communication barriers, tools for systematic follow-up and measurement, and organizational stability can significantly impact successful implementation. Further research is necessary to understand how organizational challenges may affect outcomes for patients.
PMCID: PMC4226460  PMID: 25395860
collaborative care; measurement based care; implementation; mental health; primary care
17.  Managing cardiovascular disease risk in patients treated with antipsychotics: a multidisciplinary approach 
The use of antipsychotic medication in the United States and throughout the world has greatly increased over the last fifteen years. These drugs have significant side effect burdens, many of them relating to cardiovascular health.
To review the available evidence on the major cardiovascular issues that arise in patients taking antipsychotic medication.
A PubMed literature review was performed to identify recent meta-analyses, review articles, and large studies. Further articles were identified through cited papers and based on expert consultation when necessary.
Clinical guidance on the following adverse effects and antipsychotics was reviewed: electrocardiogram (ECG) changes, (specifically, prolonged QT and risk of torsades de pointes), weight gain, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, and myocarditis. Specific attention was paid to monitoring guidelines and treatment options in the event of adverse events, including dose change, medication switch, or adjuvant therapy.
PMCID: PMC4222620  PMID: 25382979
schizophrenia; prolonged QT; increased mortality; weight gain; myocarditis
18.  Extended roles for allied health professionals: an updated systematic review of the evidence 
Internationally, health care services are under increasing pressure to provide high quality, accessible, timely interventions to an ever increasing aging population, with finite resources. Extended scope roles for allied health professionals is one strategy that could be undertaken by health care services to meet this demand. This review builds upon an earlier paper published in 2006 on the evidence relating to the impact extended scope roles have on health care services.
A systematic review of the literature focused on extended scope roles in three allied health professional groups, ie, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech pathology, was conducted. The search strategy mirrored an earlier systematic review methodology and was designed to include articles from 2005 onwards. All peer-reviewed published papers with evidence relating to effects on patients, other professionals, or the health service were included. All papers were critically appraised prior to data extraction.
A total of 1,000 articles were identified by the search strategy; 254 articles were screened for relevance and 21 progressed to data extraction for inclusion in the systematic review.
Literature supporting extended scope roles exists; however, despite the earlier review calling for more robust evaluations regarding the impact on patient outcomes, cost-effectiveness, training requirements, niche identification, or sustainability, there appears to be limited research reported on the topic in the last 7 years. The evidence available suggests that extended scope practice allied health practitioners could be a cost-effective and consumer-accepted investment that health services can make to improve patient outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4206389  PMID: 25342909
allied health professionals; extended scope practice
19.  Networks of trainees: examining the effects of attending an interdisciplinary research training camp on the careers of new obesity scholars 
Students training in obesity research, prevention, and management face the challenge of developing expertise in their chosen academic field while at the same time recognizing that obesity is a complex issue that requires a multidisciplinary and multisectoral approach. In appreciation of this challenge, the Canadian Obesity Network (CON) has run an interdisciplinary summer training camp for graduate students, new career researchers, and clinicians for the past 8 years. This paper evaluates the effects of attending this training camp on trainees’ early careers. We use social network analysis to examine the professional connections developed among trainee Canadian obesity researchers who attended this camp over its first 5 years of operation (2006–2010). We examine four relationships (knowing, contacting, and meeting each other, and working together) among previous trainees. We assess the presence and diversity of these relationships among trainees across different years and disciplines and find that interdisciplinary contact and working relationships established at the training camp have been maintained over time. In addition, we evaluate the qualitative data on trainees’ career trajectories and their assessments of the impact that the camp had on their careers. Many trainees report that camp attendance had a positive impact on their career development, particularly in terms of establishing contacts and professional relationships. Both the quantitative and the qualitative results demonstrate the importance of interdisciplinary training and relationships for career development in the health sciences.
PMCID: PMC4199836  PMID: 25336965
social network analysis; training; research collaboration; interdisciplinary
20.  Boundaries, gaps, and overlaps: defining roles in a multidisciplinary nephrology clinic 
This study aims to explore how health care professionals in a multidisciplinary chronic kidney disease clinic interact with one another, patients, families, and caregivers to expand understanding of how this increasingly common form of chronic disease management functions in situ. Nonparticipatory observations were conducted of 64 consultations between patients and health care professionals and end-of-day rounds at a multidisciplinary chronic kidney disease clinic. Key themes in our findings revolved around the question of boundaries between the health professions that were expected to work cooperatively within the clinic, between medical specialties in the management of complex patients, and between caregivers and patients. Understanding the importance of various professional roles and how they are allocated, either formally as part of care design or organically as a clinical routine, may help us understand how multidisciplinary care teams function in real life and help us identify gaps in practice. This study highlights two areas for further study and reflection: the effect of discrepancies in health information and the role of caregivers in patient care.
PMCID: PMC4199857  PMID: 25336966
clinical medicine; interprofessional relations; observation; qualitative research
21.  A matrix model for valuing anesthesia service with the resource-based relative value system 
The purpose of this study was to propose a new crosswalk using the resource-based relative value system (RBRVS) that preserves the time unit component of the anesthesia service and disaggregates anesthesia billing into component parts (preoperative evaluation, intraoperative management, and postoperative evaluation). The study was designed as an observational chart and billing data review of current and proposed payments, in the setting of a preoperative holing area, intraoperative suite, and post anesthesia care unit. In total, 1,195 charts of American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) physical status 1 through 5 patients were reviewed. No direct patient interventions were undertaken.
Spearman correlations between the proposed RBRVS billing matrix payments and the current ASA relative value guide methodology payments were strong (r=0.94–0.96, P<0.001 for training, test, and overall). The proposed RBRVS-based billing matrix yielded payments that were 3.0%±1.34% less than would have been expected from commercial insurers, using standard rates for commercial ASA relative value units and RBRVS relative value units. Compared with current Medicare reimbursement under the ASA relative value guide, reimbursement would almost double when converting to an RBRVS billing model. The greatest increases in Medicare reimbursement between the current system and proposed billing model occurred as anesthetic management complexity increased.
The new crosswalk correlates with existing evaluation and management and intensive care medicine codes in an essentially revenue neutral manner when applied to the market-based rates of commercial insurers. The new system more highly values delivery of care to more complex patients undergoing more complex surgery and better represents the true value of anesthetic case management.
PMCID: PMC4199848  PMID: 25336964
payment reform; billing; crosswalk
22.  Lennox–Gastaut syndrome: impact on the caregivers and families of patients 
Lennox–Gastaut syndrome (LGS) has a major impact on the health-related quality of life (HRQL) of the affected children as well as their caregivers. The primary caregiver in the family is generally the mother, with support from the father and siblings. The burden of care and the effects of the disease on the child necessitate adjustments in virtually all aspects of the lives of their family. These adjustments inevitably affect the physical, emotional, social, and financial health of the whole family. Numerous sources of support for families can help to ease the burden of care. Improvements in the treatment of LGS, in addition to helping the child with LGS, would likely help improve the HRQL of the family members. This pilot parent survey was designed to explore the impact of epilepsy on caregiver HRQL. Parents of children with epilepsy who had contacted the Epilepsy Information Service at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA, were sent questionnaires comprising open- and closed-ended questions. A total of 200 surveys were distributed, with a return rate of 48%. The results revealed that 74% of the parents believed that having a child with epilepsy brought them and their partner closer together. However, when the parents were asked to explain the manner in which epilepsy affected their families, answers included continuous stress, major financial distress, and lack of time to spend with other children. Information and resources for the families of children with LGS could help improve the HRQL of both the patients and their relatives.
PMCID: PMC4199842  PMID: 25336963
health-related quality of life; HRQL; epilepsy; relatives; siblings
23.  Willingness to pay for a new drug delivery in Parkinson patients 
The Swedish reimbursement system operates a system where prices are set based on the expected value to the consumer. This value can be measured using willingness to pay (WTP).
To assess Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients’ WTP for newly developed microtablets of levodopa in combination with a drug-delivering electronic device (M/E) compared to standard treatment with levodopa in combination with the COMT (catechol-O-methyl transferase)-inhibitor entacapone (L/e).
A total of 2,000 randomly included PD patients had a postal questionnaire covering demographics, disease-specific issues, views on medication and WTP in different hypothetical scenarios. The first scenario was M/E with no change in effects or side effects; the second scenario was M/E with same effect and less side effects; and the third scenario was M/E with improved effect and less side effects. These scenarios were coupled to different costs to choose from.
A total of 999 patients (50%) responded, mean age of 71 years and a mean PD duration of 9 years. Of all respondents, 50% preferred M/E before L/e in scenario one with increasing preference to scenario three. The average monthly WTP among all respondents in scenario one was SEK 230 and SEK 226 in L/e, both with an almost longitudinal doubling up to scenario three. Duration of PD-related symptoms, high education, and high medication intake implied a higher WTP in all scenarios in contrast to age, sex, and extra doses of levodopa.
WTP for M/E increased gradually with high medication intake and education as well as with expected increased reduction of PD symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4199841  PMID: 25336962
Parkinson’s disease; levodopa; microtablets; WTP
24.  Breast cancer in young women: special considerations in multidisciplinary care 
Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in females, and 5%–7% of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years of age. Breast cancer in the young has gained increased attention with an attempt to improve diagnosis and prognosis. Young patients tend to have different epidemiology, presenting with later stages and more aggressive phenotypes. Diagnostic imaging is also more difficult in this age group. Multidisciplinary care generally encompasses surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, and social workers. Other special considerations include reconstruction options, fertility, genetics, and psychosocial issues. These concerns enlarge the already diverse multidisciplinary team to incorporate new expertise, such as reproductive specialists and genetic counselors. This review encompasses an overview of the current multimodal treatment regimens and the unique challenges in treating this special population. Integration of diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life issues should be addressed and understood by each member in the interdisciplinary team in order to optimize outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4189712  PMID: 25300196
diagnosis; interdisciplinary; quality of life; treatment; premenopausal; fertility preservation
25.  Dental anxiety: a comparison of students of dentistry, biology, and psychology 
Dental anxiety is an important challenge for many patients and clinicians. It is thus of importance to know more about dental students’ own experiences with dental anxiety and their understanding of dental anxiety. The aim was to investigate differences in dental anxiety levels between dental students, psychology students, and biology students at a Norwegian university.
Materials and methods
A total of 510 students of dentistry, psychology, and biology at the University of Tromsø received a questionnaire consisting of the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale, demographic questions, and questions relating to their last visit to the dentist/dental hygienist; 169 students gave complete responses. Nonparametric tests were used to investigate differences between the student groups.
The respondents were 78% female and 22% male; their mean age was 24 years. The dental students showed a significantly lower degree of dental anxiety than the psychology (P<0.001) and biology students (P<0.001). A significant decrease in dental anxiety levels was found between novice and experienced dentistry students (P<0.001).
The dental students had less dental anxiety compared to psychology students and biology students. Experienced dental students also had less dental anxiety than novice dental students. This could indicate that the dentistry program structure at the university may influence dental anxiety levels.
Dental anxiety seemed to be less frequent in dentistry students compared to students of biology or clinical psychology. The practice-oriented dentistry education at the university might contribute to the differences in anxiety levels between new and experienced dentistry students.
PMCID: PMC4181736  PMID: 25285013
dentistry; Modified Dental Anxiety Scale; practice; training; education; questionnaire-study

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