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1.  Illness and medical and other expenditures: observations from western and eastern China 
Background
Illness and the medical expenditure that follows have a profound impact on the well-being of individuals and households. China is a huge country with significant regional differences. The goal of this study is to investigate the associations of illness and medical expenditure with other categories of household expenditures, with special attention paid to the differences in observations between the western and eastern regions.
Methods
A survey was conducted in six major cities in China, three in the east and three in the west, in 2011. Data on demographics, illness conditions, and medical and other expenditures were collected from 12,515 households.
Results
In the analysis of the associations of illness conditions and medical expenditure with demographics, multiple significant associations were observed, and there are differences between the eastern and western regions. In univariate analyses, illness conditions and medical expenditure were found as having significant associations with other categories of expenditures. In multivariate analyses adjusting for household and household head characteristics, few associations were observed, and there exist differences between the regions.
Conclusions
This study has provided empirical evidence on the associations of illness/medical expenditure with demographics and with other categories of expenditures. Differences across regions were observed in multiple aspects. The reasons underlying such differences are worth investigating further.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0730-6
PMCID: PMC4336723
Illness condition; Medical expenditure; Household expenditure; Cross-region difference; China
2.  A cross-sectional, population-based study of HIV physicians and outpatient health care use by people with HIV in Ontario 
Background
People with HIV are living longer and their care has shifted towards the prevention and management of comorbidities. However, little is known about who is providing their care. Our objective was to characterize the provision of HIV care in Ontario by physician specialty.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective population-based observational study using linked administrative databases in Ontario, Canada, a single payer health care system. All Ontarians with HIV were identified using a validated case ascertainment algorithm. We examined office-based health care visits for this cohort between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2012. Physician characteristics were compared between specialty groups. We stratified the frequency and distribution of physician care into three categories: (a) care by physician specialty (family physicians, internal medicine specialists, infectious disease specialists, and other specialists), (b) care based on physician caseload (low, medium or high categorized as ≤5, 6-49 or ≥50 HIV patients per physician), and (c) care that is related to HIV versus unrelated to HIV.
Results
Family physicians were older, graduated earlier, were more often female, and were the only group practicing in rural settings. Unlike other specialists, most family physicians (76.8%) had low-volume caseloads. There were 406,411 outpatient visits made by individuals with HIV; one-third were for HIV care. Family physicians provided the majority of care (53.6% of all visits and 53.9% of HIV visits). Internal medicine specialists provided 4.9% of all visits and 9.6% of HIV visits. Infectious disease specialists provided 12.5% of all visits and 32.7% of HIV visits. Other specialties provided 29.0% of visits; most of these (33.0%) were to psychiatrists.
Conclusions
The distribution of visits to physicians caring for HIV patients reveals different patterns of health care delivery by specialty and HIV caseload. Further research should delineate how specialties share care for this population and how different patterns relate to quality of care.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0723-5
PMCID: PMC4334842
Human immunodeficiency syndrome; Primary health care; Chronic disease; Comorbidity; Multimorbidity; Health services delivery
3.  An innovation for improving maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) service delivery in Jigawa State, northern Nigeria: a qualitative study of stakeholders’ perceptions about clinical mentoring 
Background
An effective capacity building process for healthcare workers is required for the delivery of quality health care services. Work-based training can be applied for the capacity building of health care workers while causing minimum disruption to service delivery within health facilities. In 2012, clinical mentoring was introduced into the Jigawa State Health System through collaboration between the Jigawa State Ministry of Health and the Partnership for Transforming Health Systems Phase 2 (PATHS2). This study evaluates the perceptions of different stakeholders about clinical mentoring as a strategy for improving maternal, newborn and child health service delivery in Jigawa State, northern Nigeria.
Methods
Interviews were conducted in February 2013 with different stakeholders within Jigawa State in Northern Nigeria. There were semi-structured interviews with 33 mentored health care workers as well as the health facility departmental heads for Obstetrics and Pediatrics in the selected clinical mentoring health facilities. In-depth interviews were also conducted with the clinical mentors and two senior government health officials working within the Jigawa State Ministry of Health. The qualitative data were audio-recorded; transcribed and thematically analysed.
Results
The study findings suggest that clinical mentoring improved service delivery within the clinical mentoring health facilities. Significant improvements in the professional capacity of mentored health workers were observed by clinical mentors, heads of departments and the mentored health workers. Best practices were introduced with the support of the clinical mentors such as appropriate baseline investigations for pediatric patients, the use of magnesium sulphate and misoprostol for the management of eclampsia and post-partum hemorrhage respectively. Government health officials indicate that clinical mentoring has led to more emphasis on the need for the provision of better quality health services.
Conclusion
Stakeholders report that the introduction of clinical mentoring into the Jigawa State health system gave rise to an improved capacity of the mentored health care workers to deliver better quality maternal, newborn and child health services. It is anticipated that with a scale up of clinical mentoring, health outcomes will also significantly improve across northern Nigeria.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0724-4
PMCID: PMC4335453
Clinical mentoring; Innovation; Service delivery; Qualitative research; Northern Nigeria
4.  Measuring organisational readiness for patient engagement (MORE): an international online Delphi consensus study 
Background
Widespread implementation of patient engagement by organisations and clinical teams is not a reality yet. The aim of this study is to develop a measure of organisational readiness for patient engagement designed to monitor and facilitate a healthcare organisation’s willingness and ability to effectively implement patient engagement in healthcare.
Methods
The development of the MORE (Measuring Organisational Readiness for patient Engagement) scale was guided by Weiner’s theory of organisational readiness for change. Weiner postulates that an organisation’s readiness is determined by both the willingness and ability to implement the change (i.e. in this context: patient engagement). A first version of the scale was developed based on a literature search and evaluation of pre-existing tools. We invited multi-disciplinary stakeholders to participate in a two-round online Delphi survey. Respondents were asked to rate the importance of each proposed item, and to comment on the proposed domains and items. Second round participants received feedback from the first round and were asked to re-rate the importance of the revised, new and unchanged items, and to provide comments.
Results
The first version of the scale contained 51 items divided into three domains: (1) Respondents’ characteristics; (2) the organisation’s willingness to implement patient engagement; and (3) the organisation’s ability to implement patient engagement. 131 respondents from 16 countries (health care managers, policy makers, clinicians, patients and patient representatives, researchers, and other stakeholders) completed the first survey, and 72 of them also completed the second survey. During the Delphi process, 34 items were reworded, 8 new items were added, 5 items were removed, and 18 were combined. The scale’s instructions were revised. The final version of MORE totalled 38 items; 5 on stakeholders, 13 on an organisation’s willingness to implement, and 20 on an organisation’s ability to implement patient engagement in healthcare.
Conclusions
The Delphi technique was successfully used to refine the scale’s instructions, domains and items, using input from a broad range of international stakeholders, hoping that MORE can be applied in a variety of healthcare contexts worldwide. Further assessment is needed to determine the psychometric properties of the scale.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0717-3
PMCID: PMC4334597
Patient engagement; Implementation; Organisational readiness; Willingness; Ability; Scale development; Delphi consensus procedure
5.  Historical account of the national health insurance formulation in Kenya: experiences from the past decade 
Background
Many Low-and-Middle-Income countries are considering reviewing their health financing systems to meet the principles of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). One financing mechanism, which has dominated UHC reforms, is the development of health insurance schemes. We trace the historical development of the National Health Insurance (NHI) policy, illuminate stakeholders’ perceptions on the design to inform future development of health financing policies in Kenya.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective policy analysis of the development of a NHI policy in Kenya using data from document reviews and seven in depth interviews with key stakeholders involved in the NHI design. Analysis was conducted using a thematic framework.
Results
The design of a NHI scheme was marked by complex interaction of the actor’s understanding of the design, proposed implementation strategies and the covert opposition of the reform due to several reasons. First, actor’s perception of the cost of the NHI design and its implication to the economy generated opposition. This was due to inadequate communication strategies to articulate the policy, leading to a vacuum of factual information flow to various players. Secondly, perceived fear of implications of the changes among private sector players threatened support and success gained. Thirdly, underlying mistrust associated with perceived lack of government’s commitment towards transparency and good governance affected active engagement of all key players dampening the spirit of collective bargain breeding opposition. Finally, some international actors perceived a clash of their role and that of international programs based on vertical approaches that were inherent in the health system.
Conclusion
The thrust towards UHC using NHI schemes should not only focus on the design of a viable NHI package but should also involve stakeholder engagements, devise ways of improving the health care system, enhance transparency and develop adequate governance structures to institutions mandated to provide leadership in the reform process to overcome covert opposition.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0692-8
PMCID: PMC4332452
Health insurance; Universal health care coverage; Policy Analysis
6.  Streamlined research funding using short proposals and accelerated peer review: an observational study 
Background
Despite the widely recognised importance of sustainable health care systems, health services research remains generally underfunded in Australia. The Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation (AusHSI) is funding health services research in the state of Queensland. AusHSI has developed a streamlined protocol for applying and awarding funding using a short proposal and accelerated peer review.
Method
An observational study of proposals for four health services research funding rounds from May 2012 to November 2013. A short proposal of less than 1,200 words was submitted using a secure web-based portal. The primary outcome measures are: time spent preparing proposals; a simplified scoring of grant proposals (reject, revise or accept for interview) by a scientific review committee; and progressing from submission to funding outcomes within eight weeks. Proposals outside of health services research were deemed ineligible.
Results
There were 228 eligible proposals across 4 funding rounds: from 29% to 79% were shortlisted and 9% to 32% were accepted for interview. Success rates increased from 6% (in 2012) to 16% (in 2013) of eligible proposals. Applicants were notified of the outcomes within two weeks from the interview; which was a maximum of eight weeks after the submission deadline. Applicants spent 7 days on average preparing their proposal. Applicants with a ranking of reject or revise received written feedback and suggested improvements for their proposals, and resubmissions composed one third of the 2013 rounds.
Conclusions
The AusHSI funding scheme is a streamlined application process that has simplified the process of allocating health services research funding for both applicants and peer reviewers. The AusHSI process has minimised the time from submission to notification of funding outcomes.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0721-7
PMCID: PMC4324047
7.  The effect of patient, provider and financing regulations on the intensity of ambulatory physical therapy episodes: a multilevel analysis based on routinely available data 
Background
Many studies have found considerable variations in the resource intensity of physical therapy episodes. Although they have identified several patient- and provider-related factors, few studies have examined their relative explanatory power. We sought to quantify the contribution of patients and providers to these differences and examine how effective Swiss regulations are (nine-session ceiling per prescription and bonus for first treatments).
Methods
Our sample consisted of 87,866 first physical therapy episodes performed by 3,365 physiotherapists based on referrals by 6,131 physicians. We modeled the number of visits per episode using a multilevel log linear regression with crossed random effects for physiotherapists and physicians and with fixed effects for cantons. The three-level explanatory variables were patient, physiotherapist and physician characteristics.
Results
The median number of sessions was nine (interquartile range 6–13). Physical therapy use increased with age, women, higher health care costs, lower deductibles, surgery and specific conditions. Use rose with the share of nine-session episodes among physiotherapists or physicians, but fell with the share of new treatments. Geographical area had no influence. Most of the variance was explained at the patient level, but the available factors explained only 4% thereof. Physiotherapists and physicians explained only 6% and 5% respectively of the variance, although the available factors explained most of this variance. Regulations were the most powerful factors.
Conclusion
Against the backdrop of abundant physical therapy supply, Swiss financial regulations did not restrict utilization. Given that patient-related factors explained most of the variance, this group should be subject to closer scrutiny. Moreover, further research is needed on the determinants of patient demand.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0686-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0686-6
PMCID: PMC4325958
Physical therapy; Episodes of care; Explained variation; Multilevel models; Crossed random effects
8.  A critique of the design, implementation, and delivery of a culturally-tailored self-management education intervention: a qualitative evaluation 
Background
Self-management education is at the forefront of addressing the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases. For those at greatest risk, such as minority-ethnic and/or socio-economically deprived groups, self-management education can be culturally-tailored to encourage behavioural change. Yet, the application of culturally appropriate material and expertise within health promotion services continues to be debated. We critique the design, implementation, and delivery of a culturally-tailored self-management intervention, with particular focus on the experiences of lay educators.
Methods
A mixed methods qualitative evaluation was undertaken to understand self-management service provision to culturally diverse communities (i.e. how components such as lay workers, group-based design, and culturally-appropriate educational material are intended to encourage behavioural change). We interviewed lay educators delivering the Chronic Disease Educator programme along with attendees, whilst observing workshops. Data were thematically analysed using a content-based constant comparison approach through a number of interpretative analytical stages.
Results
Lay educators felt part of the local community, relating to attendees from different races and ethnicities. However, lay educators faced challenges when addressing health beliefs and changing lifestyle practices. Culturally-tailored components aided communication, with educator’s cultural awareness leading to close relationships with attendees, while the group-based design facilitated discussions of the emotional impact of illness.
Conclusions
Lay educators bring with them a number of nuanced skills and knowledge when delivering self-management education. The development and training required for this role is inhibited by financial constraints at policy-level. The interpretation of being from the ‘community’ links with the identity and status of the lay role, overlapping notions of race, ethnicity, and language.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0712-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0712-8
PMCID: PMC4326406
Self-management; Education; Ethnicity; Lay; Culture
9.  Survey on patient safety climate in public hospitals in China 
Background
Patient safety climate has been recognized as a core determinant for improving safety in hospitals. Describing workforce perceptions of patient safety climate is an important part of safety climate management. This study aimed to describe staff’s perceptions of patient safety climate in public hospitals in Shanghai, China and to determine how perceptions of patient safety climate differ between different types of workers in the U.S. and China.
Methods
Survey of employees of 6 secondary, general public hospitals in Shanghai conducted during 2013 using a modified version of the U.S. Patient Safety Climate in Health Care Organizations (PSCHO) tool. The percentage of “problematic responses” (PPRs) was used to measure safety climate, and the PPRs were compared among employees with different job types, using χ2 tests and multivariate regression models.
Results
Perceptions of patient safety climate were relatively positive among hospital employees and similar to those of employees in U.S. hospitals along most dimensions. For workers in Chinese hospitals, the scales of “fear of blame” and “fear of shame” had the highest PPRs, whereas in the United States the scale of “fear of shame” had among the lowest PPRs. As in the United States, hospital managers in China perceived a more positive patient safety climate overall than other types of personnel.
Conclusions
“Fear of shame” and “fear of blame” may be important barriers to improvement of patient safety in Chinese hospitals. Research on the effect of patient safety climate on outcomes is necessary to implement effective polices to improve patient safety and quality outcomes in China.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0710-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0710-x
PMCID: PMC4326494
Patient safety; Public hospital; Hospital quality; China; Employee perception
10.  A population-based study of the extent of colorectal cancer screening in men with HIV 
Background
Because of the increased life-expectancy of persons with HIV, the need for age-appropriate colorectal cancer screening among these patients will increase. We examined rates of colorectal cancer screening among HIV-infected men aged 50 to 65 years.
Methods
We used Ontario’s administrative databases to identify all men between the ages of 50 and 65 years who were alive on April 1, 2007, and identified HIV-infected men using a validated case-finding algorithm. We excluded men with a history of colorectal cancer, anal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and any colorectal investigation in the preceding five-years, and used multivariable regression to compare rates of colorectal cancer screening between men with and without HIV during five years of follow-up.
Results
We identified 743,801 men between the ages of 50 and 65 years, of whom 1,432 (0.19%) were HIV-infected. The proportions of men with and without HIV who underwent any screening during the 5-year follow up period were 49.1% (95% CI 46.5% to 51.7%) and 41.4% (95% CI 41.3% to 41.5%), respectively. Compared with HIV-negative men, men with HIV had lower rates of fecal occult blood testing [adjusted rate ratio (aRR) 0.74; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.63 to 0.87] and barium-enema radiography (aRR 0.66; 95% CI 0.39 to 1.12), but higher rates of colonoscopy (aRR 1.24; 95% CI 1.13 to 1.37), flexible sigmoidoscopy (aRR 1.72; 95% CI 1.28 to 2.30) and rigid sigmoidoscopy (aRR 2.98; 95% CI 2.26 to 3.93).
Conclusion
As with the general population of men aged 50 to 65 years, less than half of the population of men with HIV received colorectal cancer screening. Strategies are required to improve uptake of this intervention.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0711-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0711-9
PMCID: PMC4318126  PMID: 25638206
HIV; Colonoscopy/utilization; Colorectal neoplasms/diagnosis; Population surveillance; Health services accessibility; Male
11.  Missed opportunities for brief intervention in tobacco control in primary care: patients’ perspectives from primary health care settings in India 
Background
World Health Organization has called for tobacco cessation to be integrated into primary care. Primary Health Centres (PHC) offer opportunities for tobacco-use screening and brief cessation advice but data on such activities in developing countries such as India are limited. The aim of this study was to investigate screening and brief intervention practices of health service providers in primary care.
Methods
This cross-sectional study was conducted in 2012 among 1,549 patients aged over 18 years visiting PHCs in 12 districts of two Indian states- Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Responses were collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Information was obtained on participants’ tobacco use status, reason(s) for seeking medical care, whether participants had been screened for and advised to quit tobacco use. The primary outcome was whether patients were screened during their visit to the PHC. Data analysis was performed using multi-level logistic regression.
Results
Less than one-third (447) of patients were screened for tobacco use during their visit to the PHC. People presenting with respiratory complaints were 84% more likely (OR: 1.84; 95% CI: 1.30 to 2.62) to be screened for tobacco use when compared to those with general ailments. Number of quit attempts in the past 12 months was strongly associated with the outcome of being screened for tobacco use, indicating that people who had more than 5 quit attempts were two times more likely to be screened for tobacco use than those who had never attempted to quit tobacco (OR: 1.99; 95% CI: 1.03 to 3.8). Among the 447 patients who were screened for tobacco use, only 136 reported to have been counselled and merely 67 patients received suggestions on ways to quit tobacco.
Conclusion
Our results show that opportunities for screening and providing tobacco use cessation advice were largely missed by the health service providers. Our study suggests that there is an urgent need to incorporate tobacco cessation interventions as part of standard practice so that all patients are given an opportunity to be asked about their tobacco use and to be given advice and counselling to quit tobacco.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0714-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0714-6
PMCID: PMC4318137  PMID: 25638245
12.  User experiences with clinical social franchising: qualitative insights from providers and clients in Ghana and Kenya 
Background
Clinical social franchising is a rapidly growing delivery model in private healthcare markets in low- and middle-income countries. Despite this growth, little is known about providers’ perceptions of the benefits and challenges of social franchising or clients’ reasons for choosing franchised facilities over other healthcare options. We examine these questions in the context of three social franchise networks in Ghana and Kenya.
Methods
We conducted in-depth interviews with a purposive sample of providers from the BlueStar Ghana, and Amua and Tunza networks in Kenya. We also conducted qualitative exit interviews with female clients who were leaving franchised facilities after a visit for a reproductive or child health reason. The total sample consists of 47 providers and 47 clients across the three networks.
Results
Providers perceived the main benefits of participation in a social franchise network to be training opportunities and access to a consistent supply of low-cost family planning commodities; few providers mentioned branding as a benefit of participation. Although most providers said that client flows for franchised services increased after joining the network, they did not associate this with improved finances for their facility. Clients overwhelmingly cited the quality of the client-provider relationship as their main motivation for attending the franchise facility. Recognition of the franchise brand was low among clients who were exiting a franchised facility.
Conclusions
The most important benefit of social franchise programs to both providers and their clients may have more to do with training on business practices, patient counseling and customer service, than with subsidies, technical input, branding or clinical support. This finding may lead to a reconsideration of how franchise programs interact with both their member clinics and the larger health-seeking communities they serve.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0709-3
PMCID: PMC4318163  PMID: 25638170
Clinical social franchise; Private sector; Provider experience; Client satisfaction; Provider choice; Ghana; Kenya
13.  The influence of an intermediate care hospital on health care utilization among elderly patients - a retrospective comparative cohort study 
Background
An intermediate care hospital (ICH) was established in a municipality in Central Norway in 2007 to improve the coordination of services and follow-up among elderly and chronically ill patients after hospital discharge. The aim of this study was to compare health care utilization by elderly patients in a municipality with an ICH to that of elderly patients in a municipality without an ICH.
Methods
This study was a retrospective comparative cohort study of all hospitalized patients aged 60 years or older in two municipalities. The data were collected from the national register of hospital use from 2005 to 2012, and from the local general hospital and two primary health care service providers from 2008 to 2012 (approx. 1,250 patients per follow-up year). The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA).
Results
The length of hospital stay decreased from the time the ICH was introduced and remained between 10% and 22% lower than the length of hospital stay in the comparative municipality for the next five years. No differences in the number of readmissions or admissions during one year follow-up after the index stay at the local general hospital or changes in primary health care utilization were observed. In the year after hospital discharge, the municipality with an ICH offered more hour-based care to elderly patients living at home (estimated mean = 234 [95% CI 215-252] versus 175 [95% CI 154-196] hours per person and year), while the comparative municipality had a higher utilization of long-term stays in nursing homes (estimated mean = 33.3 [95% CI 29.0-37.7] versus 21.9 [95% CI 18.0-25.7] days per person and year).
Conclusions
This study indicates that the introduction of an ICH rapidly reduces the length of hospital stay without exposing patients to an increased health risk. The ICH appears to operate as an extension of the general hospital, with only a minor impact on the pattern of primary health care utilization.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0708-4
PMCID: PMC4323014  PMID: 25638151
Intermediate care hospital; Hospital discharge; Health care utilization; Length of stay; Readmission; Primary health care; Elderly
14.  Who pays for and who benefits from health care services in Uganda? 
Background
Equity in health care entails payment for health services according to the capacity to pay and the receipt of benefits according to need. In Uganda, as in many African countries, although equity is extolled in government policy documents, not much is known about who pays for, and who benefits from, health services. This paper assesses both equity in the financing and distribution of health care benefits in Uganda.
Methods
Data are drawn from the most recent nationally representative Uganda National Household Survey 2009/10. Equity in health financing is assessed considering the main domestic health financing sources (i.e., taxes and direct out-of-pocket payments). This is achieved using bar charts and standard concentration and Kakwani indices. Benefit incidence analysis is used to assess the distribution of health services for both public and non-public providers across socio-economic groups and the need for care. Need is assessed using limitations in functional ability while socioeconomic groups are created using per adult equivalent consumption expenditure.
Results
Overall, health financing in Uganda is marginally progressive; the rich pay more as a proportion of their income than the poor. The various taxes are more progressive than out-of-pocket payments (e.g., the Kakwani index of personal income tax is 0.195 compared with 0.064 for out-of-pocket payments). However, taxes are a much smaller proportion of total health sector financing compared with out-of-pocket payments. The distribution of total health sector services benefitsis pro-rich. The richest quintile receives 19.2% of total benefits compared to the 17.9% received by the poorest quintile. The rich also receive a much higher share of benefits relative to their need. Benefits from public health units are pro-poor while hospital based care, in both public and non-public sectors are pro-rich.
Conclusion
There is a renewed interest in ensuring equity in the financing and use of health services. Based on the results in this paper, it would seem that in order to safeguard such equity, there is a need for policy that focuses on addressing the health needs of the poor while continuing to ensure that the burden of financing health services does not rest disproportionately on the poor.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0683-9
PMCID: PMC4324659  PMID: 25638215
Universal coverage; Equity in health financing; Benefit incidence analysis; Uganda
15.  Smoking cessation and care management for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder: a study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Background
Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness and mortality in the United States. Individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have smoking rates higher than that of others and fewer individuals with PTSD have quit smoking. This randomized controlled trial was designed to test the effectiveness of integrating telehealth care management and smoking cessation with motivational interviewing for Veterans with PTSD.
Methods/Design
All smokers with PTSD, regardless of their desire to quit, were invited to participate. Enrollment occurred between November 2009 and April 2013. Target enrollment was 120 participants. Enrolled participants were randomized to either the control group, receiving usual care including a telehealth PTSD program, with a device that delivered PTSD information and in-home care management, or the intervention group, which included (1) a telehealth PTSD program, (2) motivational interviewing-based smoking cessation curricula via the telehealth device, and (3) weekly motivational interviewing counseling phone calls. Outcomes are self-reported 24-hour quit attempts, progression along the stages of change and 7-day point prevalence quit smoking rates for the intervention group compared to usual care alone. Secondary outcomes include participants’ perception of care coordination, patient satisfaction with motivational interviewing, PTSD symptoms, pain, depression and quality of life.
Discussion
Motivational interviewing has been shown to increase readiness for change and smoking cessation care has been shown to be more successful when incorporated into in-person mental health care. Our study builds on previous studies. It integrates a written smoking cessation curriculum and phone-based motivational interviewing counseling into an established PTSD home telehealth care coordination program. This paper describes the design and methods of our randomized control trial.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT00908882, May 22, 2009.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0706-6
PMCID: PMC4325951  PMID: 25638351
Smoking cessation; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; PTSD; Telehealth; Motivational interviewing; Veteran
16.  The health literate health care organization 10 item questionnaire (HLHO-10): development and validation 
Background
While research on individual health literacy is steadily increasing, less attention has been paid to the context of care that may help to increase the patient’s ability to navigate health care or to compensate for their limited health literacy. In 2012, Brach et al. introduced the concept of health literate health care organizations (HLHOs) to describe the organizational context of care. This paper presents our effort in developing and validating an HLHO instrument.
Method
Ten items were developed to represent the ten attributes of HLHO (HLHO-10) based on a literature review, an expert workshop, a focus group discussion, and qualitative interviews. The instrument was applied in a key informant survey in 51 German hospitals as part of a larger study on patient information and training needs (PIAT-study). Item properties were analyzed and a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to test the instrument’s unidimensionality. To investigate the instrument’s predictive validity, a multilevel analysis was performed that used the HLHO-10 score to predict the adequacy of information provided to 1,224 newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients treated at the sample hospitals.
Results
Cronbach’s α of the resulting scale was 0.89. CFA verified the one-factor structure after allowing for the correlation for four pairs of error terms. In the multilevel model, HLHO-10 significantly predicted the adequacy of information as perceived by patients.
Conclusion
The instrument has satisfactory reliability and validity. It provides a useful tool to assess the degree to which health care organizations help patients to navigate, understand, and use information and services. Further validation should include participant observation in health care organizations and a sample that is not limited to breast cancer care.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0707-5
PMCID: PMC4332719  PMID: 25638047
Health literate health care organization; Instrument development; Health literacy; Hospitals; Cancer care
17.  Assessing willingness to pay for health care quality improvements 
Background
Contingent valuation (CV) is used to estimate the willingness to pay (WTP) of consumers for specific attributes to improve the quality of health care they received in three hospitals in Bangladesh.
Methods
Random sample of 252 patients were interviewed to measure their willingness to pay for seven specified improvements in the quality of delivered medical care. Partial tobit regression and corresponding marginal effects analysis were used to analyze the data and obtain WTP estimates.
Results
Patients are willing to pay more if their satisfaction with three attributes of care are increased. These are: a closer doctor-patient relationship, increased drug availability and increased chances of recovery. The doctor patient relationship is considered most important by patients and exhibited the highest willingness to pay.
Conclusions
This study provides important information to policy makers about the monetary valuation of patients for improvements in certain attributes of health care in Bangladesh.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0678-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0678-6
PMCID: PMC4332931  PMID: 25638204
Contingent valuation (CV); Willingness to pay (WTP); Health care; Quality attributes; Bangladesh; Classification code; I11; I18
18.  Having a family doctor was associated with lower utilization of hospital-based health services 
Background
Primary care in the United States and most countries in Asia are provided by a variety of doctors. However, effectiveness of such diversified primary care in gate-keeping secondary medical services is unknown. This study aimed to evaluate health services utilization rates of hospital emergency and admission services among people who used different primary care doctors in Hong Kong.
Method
This study was a population-based cross-sectional telephone survey using structured questionnaire on health services utilization rates and pattern in Hong Kong in 2007 to 2008. Information on the choice of primary care doctors, utilization rates and patterns of primary care service were collected. Poisson and logistic regression analyses were used to explore any differences in service utilization rates and patterns among people using different types of primary care doctors.
Results
Out of 3148 subjects who completed the survey, 1896 (60.2%) had regular primary care doctors, of whom 1150 (60.7%) regarded their regular doctors as their family doctors (RFD). 1157 (36.8%) of them did not use any regular doctors (NRD). Only 4.3% of the RFD group (vs 7.8% of other regular doctors (ORD) and 9.6% of NRD) visited emergency service and only 1.7% (vs 3.6% of ORD and 4.0% of NRD) were admitted to hospital for their last episode of illness. Regression analyses controlling for sociodemographics and health status confirmed that respondents having RFD were less likely to use emergency service than people who had NRD (OR 0.479) or ORD (OR 0.624) or being admitted to hospital (OR 0.458 vs NRD and 0.514 vs ORD) for their last episode of illness.
Conclusion
Primary care is the most effective in gate-keeping secondary care among people with regular family doctors. People without any regular primary care doctor were more likely to use emergency service as primary care. The findings supported a family doctor-led primary care model.
Trial registration number
ClinicalTrials.gov ID: NCT01422031.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0705-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0705-7
PMCID: PMC4312460  PMID: 25627936
Family doctor; Health utilization; Hospitalization; Emergency services; Chinese; Count data
19.  Patients’ perception of dignity in an Italian general hospital: a cross-sectional analysis 
Background
Dignity is related to a patient’s respect, privacy, information and autonomy. Maintaining dignity is defined as ethical goal of care. Although the importance of dignity has been widely recognized, there is limited research that investigates if dignity is really maintained in clinical practice and few studies have been conducted in acute hospital settings with adults across the age range. The aim of the study was to explore inpatients’ perception of dignity in an hospital setting.
Methods
This descriptive cross-sectional study was carried out in 10 medical and surgical wards of a General Hospital in Modena (Italy). We collected a purposive sample of 100 patients by selecting 10 participants from each ward who met following criteria: hospitalized for more than three days, at least 18 years old, not mentally ill, willing to participate and able to speak Italian. We developed a 15-item anonymous questionnaire divided into three sections: “physical privacy”, “information and autonomy”, “nurse-patients respectful interaction”.
Results
The percentages of positive (preserved dignity perception) were more frequent than negative (not preserved dignity perception) and no answers with a statistically significantly difference among the three sections (Pearson chi2 = 150.41, p < 0.0001). The frequency of positive or negative answers was statistically significantly related to the preservation of dignity according to the following questions (p < 0.005, multivariate logistic regression): “privacy to use the bathroom” and “respectful interaction”, as protective factors and “maintaining of body privacy”, “involvement in the care process”, “correct communication” as risk factors.
Conclusions
Dignity was quite but not completely maintained according to the standards expected by patients. According to patients’ views, privacy of the body during medical procedures and respectful nurse-patient interactions were preserved more than information and verbal communication. Listening to patients’ views on the specific factors they consider useful to maintaining their dignity can help in this process. Recognizing and focusing on these factors will help professionals to establish practical measures for preserving and promoting patients' dignity and providing more dignified care. Dignity should be extensively and systematically pursued as other important clinical goals.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0704-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0704-8
PMCID: PMC4312597  PMID: 25627836
20.  Innovation in health service delivery: integrating community health assistants into the health system at district level in Zambia 
Background
To address the huge human resources for health gap in Zambia, the Ministry of Health launched the National Community Health Assistant Strategy in 2010. The strategy aims to integrate community-based health workers into the health system by creating a new group of workers, called community health assistants (CHAs). However, literature suggests that the integration process of national community-based health worker programmes into health systems has not been optimal. Conceptually informed by the diffusion of innovations theory, this paper qualitatively aimed to explore the factors that shaped the acceptability and adoption of CHAs into the health system at district level in Zambia during the pilot phase.
Methods
Data gathered through review of documents, 6 focus group discussions with community leaders, and 12 key informant interviews with CHA trainers, supervisors and members of the District Health Management Team were analysed using thematic analysis.
Results
The perceived relative advantage of CHAs over existing community-based health workers in terms of their quality of training and scope of responsibilities, and the perceived compatibility of CHAs with existing groups of health workers and community healthcare expectations positively facilitated the integration process. However, limited integration of CHAs in the district health governance system hindered effective programme trialability, simplicity and observability at district level. Specific challenges at this level included a limited information flow and sense of programme ownership, and insufficient documentation of outcomes. The district also had difficulties in responding to emergent challenges such as delayed or non-payment of CHA incentives, as well as inadequate supervision and involvement of CHAs in the health posts where they are supposed to be working. Furthermore, failure of the health system to secure regular drug supplies affected health service delivery and acceptability of CHA services at community level.
Conclusion
The study has demonstrated that implementation of policy guidelines for integrating community-based health workers in the health system may not automatically guarantee successful integration at the local or district level, at least at the start of the process. The study reiterates the need for fully integrating such innovations into the district health governance system if they are to be effective.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0696-4
PMCID: PMC4314770  PMID: 25627456
Integration; Health innovations; Community-based health workers; Health system
21.  How to improve prescription of inhaled salbutamol by providing standardised feedback on administration: a controlled intervention pilot study with follow-up 
Background
The effectiveness of inhaled salbutamol in routine care depends particularly on prescribed dosage and applied inhalation technique. To achieve maximum effectiveness and to prevent drug-related problems, prescription and administration need to work in concert.
Methods
We performed a controlled intervention pilot study with 4 consecutive groups in a general paediatric unit and assessed problems in salbutamol prescribing and administration. Control group [i]: Routine care without additional support. First intervention group [ii]: We carried out a teaching session for nurses aimed at preventing problems in inhalation technique. Independently from this, a pharmacist counselled physicians on problems in salbutamol prescribing. Second intervention group [iii]: Additionally to the first intervention, physicians received standardised feedback on the inhalation technique. Follow-up group [iv]: Subsequently, without any delay after the second intervention group had been completed, sustainability of the measures was assessed. We performed the chi-square test to calculate the level of significance with p ≤ 0.05 to indicate a statistically significant difference for the primary outcome. As we performed multiple testing, an adjusted p ≤ 0.01 according to Bonferroni correction was considered as significant.
Results
We included a total of 225 patients. By counselling the physicians, we reduced the number of patients with problems from 55% to 43% (control [i] vs. first intervention [ii], n.s.). With additional feedback to physicians, this number was further reduced to 25% ([i] vs. [iii], p < 0.001). In the follow-up [iv], the number rose again to 48% (p < 0.01 compared to feedback group).
Conclusions
Teaching nurses, counselling physicians, and providing feedback on the quality of inhalation technique effectively reduced problems in salbutamol treatment. However, for success to be sustained, continuous support needs to be provided.
Trial registration
German Clinical Trials register: DRKS00006792.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0702-x
PMCID: PMC4314799  PMID: 25627678
Prescription; Administration; Salbutamol; Paediatric; Dosing; Inhalation
22.  Knowledge and perceptions of the intrauterine device among family planning providers in Nepal: a cross-sectional analysis by cadre and sector 
Background
Nepal has high unmet need for family planning and low use of intrauterine devices (IUDs). While clients’ attitudes toward the IUD are known in a variety of contexts, little is known about providers’ knowledge and perceptions of the IUD in developing countries. Nepal’s liberal IUD service provision policies allow the opportunity to explore provider knowledge and perceptions across cadres and sectors. This research contributes to an understanding of providers’ IUD perceptions in low-resource environments, and increases evidence for IUD task-sharing and private sector involvement.
Methods
A questionnaire was administered to 345 nurses and auxiliary nurse midwives (ANMs) affiliated with the private Mahila Swastha Sewa (MSS) franchise, public sector, or private non-franchise sector. All providers had been trained in TCu 380A IUD insertion and removal. The questionnaire captured providers’ IUD experience, knowledge, and perceived barriers to recommendation. Descriptive, multivariate linear, and multinomial logistic regression was conducted, comparing providers between cadre and sector.
Results
On average, providers answered 21.5 of 35 questions correctly, for a score of 61.4%. Providers scored the lowest on IUD medical eligibility, answering 5.9 of 14 questions correctly. Over 50% of providers were able to name the four side effects most frequently associated with the IUD; however, one-third of all providers found at least one of these side effects unacceptable. Adjusted results show that cadre does not significantly impact provider’s IUD knowledge scores or side effect perceptions. Public sector affiliation was associated with higher knowledge scores regarding personal characteristic eligibility and more negative perceptions of two normal IUD side effects. IUD knowledge is significantly associated with provider’s recent training and employment at multiple facilities, and side effect perceptions are significantly associated with client volume, range of family planning methods, and region.
Conclusions
Provider knowledge and attitudes towards IUD provision are similar across cadre and sector, supporting WHO task-sharing guidelines and validating Nepal’s family planning policies. However, overall provider knowledge is low. We recommend that providers need to receive further training and support to improve knowledge, manage side effects, and recognize women in periods of high unmet need - such as post-partum or post-abortion women - as suitable candidates for IUDs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0701-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0701-y
PMCID: PMC4322443  PMID: 25627578
Family planning; Nurse; Auxiliary nurse midwife; IUDs; Franchise; Public sector; Nepal; Task sharing
23.  Cost-effectiveness of the non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG): evidence from a cluster randomized controlled trial in Zambia and Zimbabwe 
Background
Obstetric hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal mortality, particularly in low resource settings where delays in obtaining definitive care contribute to high rates of death. The non-pneumatic anti-shock garment (NASG) first-aid device has been demonstrated to be highly cost-effective when applied at the referral hospital (RH) level. In this analysis we evaluate the incremental cost-effectiveness of early NASG application at the Primary Health Center (PHC) compared to later application at the RH in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Methods
We obtained data on health outcomes and costs from a cluster-randomized clinical trial (CRCT) and participating study hospitals. We translated health outcomes into disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) using standard methods. Econometric regressions estimated the contribution of earlier PHC NASG application to DALYs and costs, varying geographic covariates (country, referral hospital) to yield regression models best fit to the data. We calculated cost-effectiveness as the ratio of added costs to averted DALYs for earlier PHC NASG application compared to later RH NASG application.
Results
Overall, the cost-effectiveness of early application of the NASG at the primary health care level compared to waiting until arrival at the referral hospital was $21.78 per DALY averted ($15.51 in added costs divided by 0.712 DALYs averted per woman, both statistically significant). By country, the results were very similar in Zambia, though not statistically significant in Zimbabwe. Sensitivity analysis suggests that results are robust to a per-protocol outcome analysis and are sensitive to the cost of blood transfusions.
Conclusions
Early NASG application at the PHC for women in hypovolemic shock has the potential to be cost-effective across many clinical settings. The NASG is designed to reverse shock and decrease further bleeding for women with obstetric hemorrhage; therefore, women who have received the NASG earlier may be better able to survive delays in reaching definitive care at the RH and recover more quickly from shock, all at a cost that is highly acceptable.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0694-6
PMCID: PMC4322462  PMID: 25627322
Maternal mortality; Obstetric hemorrhage; Hypovolemic shock; Non-pneumatic anti-shock garment; NASG; Cost-effectiveness
24.  ‘Deep down in their heart, they wish they could be given some incentives’: a qualitative study on the changing roles and relations of care among home-based caregivers in Zambia 
Background
Across Sub-Saharan Africa, the roll-out of antiretroviral treatment (ART) has contributed to shifting HIV care towards the management of a chronic health condition. While the balance of professional and lay tasks in HIV caregiving has been significantly altered due to changing skills requirements and task-shifting initiatives, little attention has been given to the effects of these changes on health workers’ motivation and existing care relations.
Methods
This paper draws on a cross-sectional, qualitative study that explored changes in home-based care (HBC) in the light of widespread ART rollout in the Lusaka and Kabwe districts of Zambia. Methods included observation of HBC daily activities, key informant interviews with programme staff from three local HBC organisations (n = 17) and ART clinic staff (n = 8), as well as in-depth interviews with home-based caregivers (n = 48) and HBC clients (n = 31).
Results
Since the roll-out of ART, home-based caregivers spend less time on hands-on physical care and support in the household, and are increasingly involved in specialised tasks supporting their clients’ access and adherence to ART. Despite their pride in gaining technical care skills, caregivers lament their lack of formal recognition through training, remuneration or mobility within the health system. Care relations within homes have also been altered as caregivers’ newly acquired functions of monitoring their clients while on ART are met with some ambivalence. Caregivers are under pressure to meet clients and their families’ demands, although they are no longer able to provide material support formerly associated with donor funding for HBC.
Conclusions
As their responsibilities and working environments are rapidly evolving, caregivers’ motivations are changing. It is essential to identify and address the growing tensions between an idealized rhetoric of altruistic volunteerism in home-based care, and the realities of lay worker deployment in HIV care interventions that not only shift tasks, but transform social and professional relations in ways that may profoundly influence caregivers’ motivation and quality of care.
doi:10.1186/s12913-015-0685-7
PMCID: PMC4324023  PMID: 25627203
Home-based care; Community health workers; HIV; Motivation; Zambia
25.  Uterotonic use immediately following birth: using a novel methodology to estimate population coverage in four countries 
Background
Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH) is the leading cause of maternal mortality in developing countries. While incidence of PPH can be dramatically reduced by uterotonic use immediately following birth (UUIFB) in both community and facility settings, national coverage estimates are rare. Most national health systems have no indicator to track this, and community-based measurements are even more scarce. To fill this information gap, a methodology for estimating national coverage for UUIFB was developed and piloted in four settings.
Methods
The rapid estimation methodology consisted of convening a group of national technical experts and using the Delphi method to come to consensus on key data elements that were applied to a simple algorithm, generating a non-precise national estimate of coverage of UUIFB. Data elements needed for the calculation were the distribution of births by location and estimates of UUIFB in each of those settings, adjusted to take account of stockout rates and potency of uterotonics. This exercise was conducted in 2013 in Mozambique, Tanzania, the state of Jharkhand in India, and Yemen.
Results
Available data showed that deliveries in public health facilities account for approximately half of births in Mozambique and Tanzania, 16% in Jharkhand and 24% of births in Yemen. Significant proportions of births occur in private facilities in Jharkhand and faith-based facilities in Tanzania. Estimated uterotonic use for facility births ranged from 70 to 100%. Uterotonics are not used routinely for PPH prevention at home births in any of the settings. National UUIFB coverage estimates of all births were 43% in Mozambique, 40% in Tanzania, 44% in Jharkhand, and 14% in Yemen.
Conclusion
This methodology for estimating coverage of UUIFB was found to be feasible and acceptable. While the exercise produces imprecise estimates whose validity cannot be assessed objectively in the absence of a gold standard estimate, stakeholders felt they were accurate enough to be actionable. The exercise highlighted information and practice gaps and promoted discussion on ways to improve UUIFB measurement and coverage, particularly of home births. Further follow up is needed to verify actions taken. The methodology produces useful data to help accelerate efforts to reduce maternal mortality.
doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0667-1
PMCID: PMC4307135  PMID: 25609355
Uterotonic; Estimation; Postpartum hemorrhage (PPH); Delphi method; UUIFB

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