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1.  Effectiveness of knowledge translation tools addressing multiple high-burden chronic diseases affecting older adults: protocol for a systematic review alongside a realist review 
BMJ Open  2015;5(2):e007640.
Introduction
The burden of chronic disease is a global phenomenon, particularly among people aged 65 years and older. More than half of older adults have more than one chronic disease and their care is not optimal. Chronic disease management (CDM) tools have the potential to meet this challenge but they are primarily focused on a single disease, which fails to address the growing number of seniors with multiple chronic conditions.
Methods and analysis
We will conduct a systematic review alongside a realist review to identify effective CDM tools that integrate one or more high-burden chronic diseases affecting older adults and to better understand for whom, under what circumstances, how and why they produce their outcomes. We will search MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, AgeLine and the Cochrane Library for experimental, quasi-experimental, observational and qualitative studies in any language investigating CDM tools that facilitate optimal disease management in one or more high-burden chronic diseases affecting adults aged ≥65 years. Study selection will involve calibration of reviewers to ensure reliability of screening and duplicate assessment of articles. Data abstraction and risk of bias assessment will also be performed independently. Analysis will include descriptive summaries of study and appraisal characteristics, effectiveness of each CDM tool (meta-analysis if appropriate); and a realist programme theory will be developed and refined to explain the outcome patterns within the included studies.
Ethics and dissemination
Ethics approval is not required for this study. We anticipate that our findings, pertaining to gaps in care across high-burden chronic diseases affecting seniors and highlighting specific areas that may require more research, will be of interest to a wide range of knowledge users and stakeholders. We will publish and present our findings widely, and also plan more active dissemination strategies such as workshops with our key stakeholders.
Trial registration number
Our protocol is registered with PROSPERO (registration number CRD42014014489).
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-007640
PMCID: PMC4322198  PMID: 25649215
GENERAL MEDICINE (see Internal Medicine); INTERNAL MEDICINE
2.  Quality improvement strategies to optimise transition of patients with heart failure to independent living: protocol for a scoping review 
BMJ Open  2014;4(11):e005711.
Introduction
Heart failure (HF) is a leading reason for hospitalisation and readmissions to hospital, particularly among individuals older than 65 years of age. The prognosis of patients with HF is grim, with high rates of mortality risk and hospital readmissions. The transition period early after hospital discharge represents a window of opportunity to positively influence patient outcomes using quality improvement (QI) strategies. However, little is known about which QI interventions exist for early events of HF after discharge, so the main objective of our study is to conduct a scoping review of the literature to determine which QI strategies are effective for reducing hospital readmissions and mortality for patients with HF who transition from the hospital back into independent living. We will also investigate which elements contribute to effective QI strategies.
Methods and analysis
We will search the literature in MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and the Cochrane library for randomised controlled trials and systematic reviews evaluating QI interventions aimed at improving outcomes for patients with HF transitioning from the hospital back into the community. Two reviewers will independently apply our eligibility criteria at level 1 (abstract/title) and level 2 (full-text) screening; disagreements will be resolved through consensus. We will extract data in duplicate on study characteristics, population, setting, QI intervention and outcomes. We will synthesise results descriptively and explore QI elements to determine which aspect contributes to its impact. We will also consider synthesis of our data according to several conceptual frameworks such as Wagner's Chronic Care Model.
Discussion and dissemination
The findings of this scoping review will be used to determine which elements should comprise a QI intervention aimed at facilitating the transition of newly admitted patients with HF back into the community. We will disseminate our findings through publications, presentations as well as through a stakeholder meeting to generate key messages most relevant to each.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005711
PMCID: PMC4248100  PMID: 25431222
3.  A knowledge translation tool improved osteoporosis disease management in primary care: an interrupted time series analysis 
Background
Osteoporosis affects over 200 million people worldwide at a high cost to healthcare systems, yet gaps in management still exist. In response, we developed a multi-component osteoporosis knowledge translation (Op-KT) tool involving a patient-initiated risk assessment questionnaire (RAQ), which generates individualized best practice recommendations for physicians and customized education for patients at the point of care. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Op-KT tool for appropriate disease management by physicians.
Methods
The Op-KT tool was evaluated using an interrupted time series design. This involved multiple assessments of the outcomes 12 months before (baseline) and 12 months after tool implementation (52 data points in total). Inclusion criteria were family physicians and their patients at risk for osteoporosis (women aged ≥50 years, men aged ≥65 years). Primary outcomes were the initiation of appropriate osteoporosis screening and treatment. Analyses included segmented linear regression modeling and analysis of variance.
Results
The Op-KT tool was implemented in three family practices in Ontario, Canada representing 5 family physicians with 2840 age eligible patients (mean age 67 years; 76% women). Time series regression models showed an overall increase from baseline in the initiation of screening (3.4%; P < 0.001), any osteoporosis medications (0.5%; P = 0.006), and calcium or vitamin D (1.2%; P = 0.001). Improvements were also observed at site level for all the three sites considered, but these results varied across the sites. Of 351 patients who completed the RAQ unprompted (mean age 64 years, 77% women), the mean time for completing the RAQ was 3.43 minutes, and 56% had any disease management addressed by their physician. Study limitations included the inherent susceptibility of our design compared with a randomized trial.
Conclusions
The multicomponent Op-KT tool significantly increased osteoporosis investigations in three family practices, and highlights its potential to facilitate patient self-management. Next steps include wider implementation and evaluation of the tool in primary care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0109-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0109-9
PMCID: PMC4182792  PMID: 25252858
Knowledge translation; Clinical decision support; Chronic disease management; Primary care; Risk assessment; Osteoporosis; Interrupted time series analysis
4.  Anaphylaxis-related deaths in Ontario: a retrospective review of cases from 1986 to 2011 
Background
Examining deaths caused by anaphylaxis may help identify factors that may decrease the risk of these unfortunate events. However, information on fatal anaphylaxis is limited. The objectives of our study were to examine all cases of fatal anaphylaxis in Ontario to determine cause of death, associated features, co factors and trends in mortality. The identification of these factors is important for developing effective strategies to overcome gaps in monitoring and treatment of patients with food allergies and risk for anaphylaxis.
Methods
This was a retrospective case-series analysis of all causes of anaphylaxis-related deaths using data from the Ontario Coroner’s database between 1986 and 2011. Quantitative data (e.g. demographic) were analyzed using descriptive statistics and frequency analysis using SPSS. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis of grounded theory methodology.
Results
We found 92 deaths in the last 26 years related to anaphylaxis. Causes of death, in order of decreasing frequency, included food (40 cases), insect venom (30 cases), iatrogenic (16 cases), and idiopathic (6 cases). Overall, there appears to be a decline in the frequency of food related deaths, but an increase in iatrogenic causes of fatalities. We found factors associated with fatal anaphylaxis included: delayed epinephrine administration, asthma, allergy to peanut, food ingestion outside the home, and teenagers with food allergies.
Conclusions
Our findings indicate the need to improve epinephrine auto-injector use in acute reactions, particularly for teens and asthmatics with food allergies. In addition, education can be improved among food service workers and food industry in order to help food allergic patients avoid potentially fatal allergens. The increasing trend in iatrogenic related anaphylaxis is concerning, and requires monitoring and more investigation.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-10-38
PMCID: PMC4322510  PMID: 25670935
Anaphylaxis; Severe allergic reaction; Anaphylaxis mortality; Food allergy; Medication allergy; Adverse drug reaction; Venom allergy; Insect sting allergy; Iatrogenic anaphylaxis
6.  Benefits and barriers to participation in colorectal cancer screening: a protocol for a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e004508.
Introduction
Colorectal cancer (CRC) poses a serious health problem worldwide. While screening is effective in reducing CRC mortality, participation in screening tests is generally suboptimal and social inequities in participation are frequently reported. The goal of this review is to synthesise factors that influence an individual’s decision to participate in CRC screening, and to explore how those factors vary by sex, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
Data sources
A primary search of Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and a secondary search of grey literature and articles taken from references of included articles (from inception to July 2013).
Design
A systematic review and Meta-study synthesis of qualitative studies that address perceived benefits and barriers to participation in CRC screening tests among adults 50 years of age or older.
Review methods
The two-staged Meta-study methodology by Paterson will be used to conduct this review. In stage 1, similarities/differences, patterns and themes will be identified across three levels of analysis while preserving the context of original studies. In stage 2, synthesis will extend beyond the analysis to generate new theory of the phenomenon through a process called Meta-synthesis.
Discussion
This review offers to generate a framework to better understand benefits and barriers that affect decision-making to participate in CRC screening among different sectors of the population. This framework will be a relevant tool for policy makers in framing educational materials, for patient-centered communication, and for researchers interested in the science of equity. This review is registered in PROSPERO (registration number: CRD42013005025).
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-004508
PMCID: PMC3939661  PMID: 24578543
Qualitative Research; Social Medicine
7.  The development of a guideline implementability tool (GUIDE-IT): a qualitative study of family physician perspectives 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:19.
Background
The potential of clinical practice guidelines has not been realized due to inconsistent adoption in clinical practice. Optimising intrinsic characteristics of guidelines (e.g., its wording and format) that are associated with uptake (as perceived by their end users) may have potential. Using findings from a realist review on guideline uptake and consultation with experts in guideline development, we designed a conceptual version of a future tool called Guideline Implementability Tool (GUIDE-IT). The tool will aim to involve family physicians in the guideline development process by providing a process to assess draft guideline recommendations. This feedback will then be given back to developers to consider when finalizing the recommendations. As guideline characteristics are best assessed by end-users, the objectives of the current study were to explore how family physicians perceive guideline implementability, and to determine what components should comprise the final GUIDE-IT prototype.
Methods
We conducted a qualitative study with family physicians inToronto, Ontario. Two experienced investigators conducted one-hour interviews with family physicians using a semi-structured interview guide to 1) elicit feedback on perceptions on guideline implementability; 2) to generate a discussion in response to three draft recommendations; and 3) to provide feedback on the conceptual GUIDE-IT. Sessions were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. Data collection and analysis were guided by content analyses.
Results
20 family physicians participated. They perceived guideline uptake according to facilitators and barriers across 6 categories of guideline implementability (format, content, language, usability, development, and the practice environment). Participants’ feedback on 3 draft guideline recommendations were grouped according to guideline perception, cognition, and agreement. When asked to comment on GUIDE-IT, most respondents believed that the tool would be useful, but urged to involve “regular” or community family physicians in the process, and suggested that an online system would be the most efficient way to deliver it.
Conclusions
Our study identified facilitators and barriers of guideline implementability from the perspective of community and academic family physicians that will be used to build our GUIDE-IT prototype. Our findings build on current knowledge by showing that family physicians perceive guideline uptake mostly according to factors that are in the control of guideline developers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-19
PMCID: PMC4016596  PMID: 24476491
Guideline implementability; Family practice; Knowledge translation; Qualitative
8.  What do letters to the editor publish about randomized controlled trials? A cross-sectional study 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:414.
Background
To identify published letters to the editor (LTE) written in response to randomized controlled trials (RCTs), determine the topics addressed in the letters, and to examine if these topics were affected by the characteristics and results of the RCTs.
Methods
Comparative cross-sectional study of a representative sample of RCTs from a set of high-impact medical journals (BMJ, Lancet, NEJM, JAMA, and Annals of Internal Medicine). RCTs and their published LTE were searched from these 5 journals in 2007. Data were collected on RCTs and their characteristics (author affiliation, funding source, intervention, and effect on the primary outcome) and the topics addressed in published LTE related to these RCTs. Analysis included chi-square and regression analysis (RCT characteristics) and thematic analysis (LTE topics).
Results
Of 334 identified RCTs, 175 trials had at least one LTE. Of these, 381 published LTE were identified. Most RCTs, tested drug interventions (68%), were funded by government (54%) or industry (33%), and described an intervention that had a positive impact on the primary outcome (62%). RCT authors were primarily affiliated with an academic centre (78%). Ninety percent of the 623 LTE topics concerned methodological issues regarding the analysis, intervention, and population in the RCT. There was a significant association between funding source and impact on outcomes (p = 0.002) or type of intervention tested (p = 0.001) in these trials. Clinical and “Other” LTE topics were more likely to be published in response to a government funded RCT (p = 0.005 and p = 0.033, respectively); no other comparisons were significant.
Conclusions
This study showed that most LTE are about methodological topics, but found little evidence to support that these topics are affected by the characteristics or results of the RCTs. The lack of association may be explained by editorial censorship as a small proportion of LTE that are submitted are actually published.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-414
PMCID: PMC3852599  PMID: 24124753
Letters to the editor; Randomized controlled trials; Journalogy
9.  Making sense of complex data: a mapping process for analyzing findings of a realist review on guideline implementability 
Background
Realist reviews offer a rigorous method to analyze heterogeneous data emerging from multiple disciplines as a means to develop new concepts, understand the relationships between them, and identify the evidentiary base underpinning them. However, emerging synthesis methods such as the Realist Review are not well operationalized and may be difficult for the novice researcher to grasp. The objective of this paper is to describe the development of an analytic process to organize and synthesize data from a realist review.
Methods
Clinical practice guidelines have had an inconsistent and modest impact on clinical practice, which may in part be due to limitations in their design. This study illustrates the development of a transparent method for organizing and analyzing a complex data set informed by a Realist Review on guideline implementability to better understand the characteristics of guidelines that affect their uptake in practice (e.g., clarity, format). The data organization method consisted of 4 levels of refinement: 1) extraction and 2) organization of data; 3) creation of a conceptual map of guideline implementability; and 4) the development of a codebook of definitions.
Results
This new method is comprised of four steps: data extraction, data organization, development of a conceptual map, and operationalization vis-a-vis a codebook. Applying this method, we extracted 1736 guideline attributes from 278 articles into a consensus-based set of categories, and collapsed them into 5 core conceptual domains for our guideline implementability map: Language, Format, Rigor of development, Feasibility, Decision-making.
Conclusions
This study advances analysis methods by offering a systematic approach to analyzing complex data sets where the goals are to condense, organize and identify relationships.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-13-112
PMCID: PMC3848005  PMID: 24028286
10.  Development of two shortened systematic review formats for clinicians 
Background
Systematic reviews provide evidence for clinical questions, however the literature suggests they are not used regularly by physicians for decision-making. A shortened systematic review format is proposed as one possible solution to address barriers, such as lack of time, experienced by busy clinicians. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development process of two shortened formats for a systematic review intended for use by primary care physicians as an information tool for clinical decision-making.
Methods
We developed prototypes for two formats (case-based and evidence-expertise) that represent a summary of a full-length systematic review before seeking input from end-users. The process was composed of the following four phases: 1) selection of a systematic review and creation of initial prototypes that represent a shortened version of the systematic review; 2) a mapping exercise to identify obstacles described by clinicians in using clinical evidence in decision-making; 3) a heuristic evaluation (a usability inspection method); and 4) a review of the clinical content in the prototypes.
Results
After the initial prototypes were created (Phase 1), the mapping exercise (Phase 2) identified components that prompted modifications. Similarly, the heuristic evaluation and the clinical content review (Phase 3 and Phase 4) uncovered necessary changes. Revisions were made to the prototypes based on the results.
Conclusions
Documentation of the processes for developing products or tools provides essential information about how they are tailored for the intended user. One step has been described that we hope will increase usability and uptake of these documents to end-users.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-68
PMCID: PMC3691647  PMID: 23767771
Review literature as topic; Evidence-based medicine
11.  Experiencing a first food allergic reaction: a survey of parent and caregiver perspectives 
Background
Insufficient knowledge of food allergy and anaphylaxis has been identified by caregivers as an important barrier to coping, and a potential cause of fear and anxiety, particularly for those with children newly diagnosed with food allergy.
The purpose of the study was to better understand the experiences of caregivers of children with a first allergic reaction to food, and to identify any deficiencies in the information received at diagnosis.
Methods
A mixed-methods study consisting of an online survey administered to the Anaphylaxis Canada online registry (a patient support group database of approximately 10,000 members), and a follow-up qualitative interview with a subset of survey participants. Analysis consisted of frequency analysis (quantitative and qualitative data) and descriptive statistics to calculate proportions and means with standard deviations. Qualitative analyses were guided by the constant comparative method of grounded theory methodology.
Results
Of 293 survey respondents, 208 were eligible to complete the survey (first allergic reaction to food within 12 months of the study), and 184 respondents consented. Identified gaps included education about food allergy, anaphylaxis management, for example, how to use epinephrine auto- injectors, and coping strategies for fear and anxiety. The qualitative follow-up study supported these findings, yielding 3 major themes: 1) lack of provision of information following the episode on the recognition and management of food allergy related allergic reactions, 2) prolonged wait times for an allergist, and 3) significant family anxiety.
Conclusions
The online survey highlighted multiple deficiencies at diagnosis, findings which were supported by the follow up qualitative study. Results will inform the development of educational strategies for patients newly diagnosed with food allergy.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-9-18
PMCID: PMC3671211  PMID: 23718700
Anaphylaxis; Food allergy; Qualitative methods
12.  Impact of quality improvement strategies on the quality of life and well-being of individuals with spinal cord injury: a systematic review protocol 
Systematic Reviews  2013;2:14.
Background
After a spinal cord injury, quality of life, as well as the determinants of quality of life, has been widely assessed. However, to date, there have been no systematic reviews on the impact of quality improvement strategies, including self-management strategies, on the quality of life and well-being of individuals with a spinal cord injury. The current protocol outlines a strategy for a systematic review that aims to identify, assess, and synthesize evidence on the impact of quality improvement strategies on the quality of life and physical and psychological well-being of individuals with spinal cord injury.
Methods/Design
All study designs, except qualitative studies will be included. Studies reporting on quality improvement including audit and feedback, case management, team changes, electronic patient registries, clinician education, clinical reminders, facilitated relay of clinical information to clinicians, patient education, (promotion of) self-management, patient reminder systems, and continuous quality improvement among individuals with spinal cord injury will be included. The primary outcome is quality of life. The secondary outcomes are physical and psychological well-being. Studies will be included regardless of publication status, year of dissemination, or language of dissemination. Potentially relevant articles not written in English will be translated. We will search Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, and PsycINFO. The use of these databases will be supplemented by other data sources, including unpublished data. Two independent reviewers will conduct all levels of screening, data abstraction, and quality appraisal. Results will be grouped according to the target group of the varying quality improvement strategies (that is, health system, health-care professionals, or patients) and/or by any other noteworthy grouping variable, such as etiology of spinal cord condition or by sex. If deemed appropriate, a meta-analysis will be conducted.
Discussion
This systematic review will identify those quality improvement strategies aimed at the health system, health-care professionals, and patients that impact the quality of life and well-being of individuals with spinal cord injury. Knowledge and application of such quality improvement strategies may reduce inappropriate health-care utilization costs, such as acute care inpatient readmission in the years post injury. Prospero registry number: CRD42012003058.
doi:10.1186/2046-4053-2-14
PMCID: PMC3599324  PMID: 23432954
Quality of life; Well-being; Spinal cord injury; Quality improvement; Systematic review; Protocol
14.  What is the most appropriate knowledge synthesis method to conduct a review? Protocol for a scoping review 
Background
A knowledge synthesis attempts to summarize all pertinent studies on a specific question, can improve the understanding of inconsistencies in diverse evidence, and can identify gaps in research evidence to define future research agendas. Knowledge synthesis activities in healthcare have largely focused on systematic reviews of interventions. However, a wider range of synthesis methods has emerged in the last decade addressing different types of questions (e.g., realist synthesis to explore mediating mechanisms and moderators of interventions). Many different knowledge synthesis methods exist in the literature across multiple disciplines, but locating these, particularly for qualitative research, present challenges. There is a need for a comprehensive manual for synthesis methods (quantitative/qualitative or mixed), outlining how these methods are related, and how to match the most appropriate knowledge synthesis method to answer a research question. The objectives of this scoping review are to: 1) conduct a systematic search of the literature for knowledge synthesis methods across multi-disciplinary fields; 2) compare and contrast the different knowledge synthesis methods; and, 3) map out the specific steps to conducting the knowledge syntheses to inform the development of a knowledge synthesis methods manual/tool.
Methods
We will search relevant electronic databases (e.g., MEDLINE, CINAHL), grey literature, and discipline-based listservs. The scoping review will consider all study designs including qualitative and quantitative methodologies (excluding economic analysis or clinical practice guideline development), and identify knowledge synthesis methods across the disciplines of health, education, sociology, and philosophy. Two reviewers will pilot-test the screening criteria and data abstraction forms, and will independently screen the literature and abstract the data. A three-step synthesis process will be used to map the literature to our objectives.
Discussion
This project represents the first attempt to broadly and systematically identify, define and classify knowledge synthesis methods (i.e., less traditional knowledge synthesis methods). We anticipate that our results will lead to an accepted taxonomy for less traditional knowledge synthesis methods, and to the development and implementation of a methods manual for these reviews which will be relevant to a wide range of knowledge users, including researchers, funders, and journal editors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-12-114
PMCID: PMC3477082  PMID: 22862833
15.  490 Immunotherapy (IT) Training in Canada: Perspectives of Fellows-in-training on the First Immunotherapy Training Manual 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S172-S173.
Background
Allergen immunotherapy (IT) is a key component of allergy practice, however fellows state that there is inadequate IT exposure during their training. In response, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI) unveiled the first ever IT Training Manual for fellows-in-training at the annual 2010 CSACI meeting. The manual was distributed during a faculty-led teaching session. This was a pilot investigation to determine the perspectives of fellows in training about the IT training manual.
Methods
Canadian fellows-in-training in Allergy and Clinical Immunology (list derived from CSACI) were contacted via email to complete a survey (using survey monkey), both quantitative (Likert scales) and qualitative, to assess their opinion on the faculty-led session on IT and the IT Training Manual.
Results
Sixty-nine Canadian fellows-in-training were invited to complete the survey and 16 (23%). Fifty-four percent of 13 respondents were in their first year of fellowship. Seven respondents (58% of 12 respondents) attended the 2010 CSACI fellow-in-training session and received the IT Training Manual. One respondent commented that it was “more information than we've had in all of our fellowship!” The same 7 respondents “somewhat liked” or “liked” the large group format, but felt that the experience could be improved in the future with the addition of cased-based learning in smaller groups. One respondent commented that “as in intro, it was good in a larger setting.” All 7 respondents felt that their understanding of IT was positively impacted by the faculty-led session. Eighty-six percent of 7 respondents indicated that the Training Manual “somewhat impacted” to “very much impacted” their understanding of IT. One commenter stated that “it is the basis of my knowledge thus far.” Most respondents (86%) preferred the current paper booklet format of the IT Training Manual.
Conclusions
The results of this pilot survey demonstrate that some fellows-in-training found the faculty-led session on IT and the IT Training Manual useful. Future studies will help to further elucidate the utility of these 2 educational interventions.
doi:10.1097/01.WOX.0000411605.50432.2f
PMCID: PMC3512639
16.  491 Immunotherapy (IT) Training in Canada: Current Experience of Fellows-in-training 
Background
Allergen immunotherapy (IT) is a key component of allergy practice of allergy. Canadian fellows-in-training have expressed concern that they receive inadequate exposure to IT in their training programs.
Methods
Canadian fellows-in-training in Allergy and Clinical Immunology, identified through the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI), were contacted via email to complete a pilot survey (using survey monkey) to assess their exposure to, experience with, and comfort level in using IT.
Results
Sixty-nine Canadian fellows-in-training were invited to complete the survey and 16 (23%) completed at least part of the survey. Fifty-four percent of 13 respondents were in their first year of fellowship. Fifty percent of 12 respondents were internal medicine trained. Eighty-three percent of 12 respondents acknowledged exposure to IT during their training. Eighty percent of 10 respondents had previously written a prescription for IT; 71% and 43% of 7 respondents had written 1 to 5 prescriptions for aeroallergen and stinging venom IT, respectively. Only 50% of 12 respondents felt comfortable prescribing IT. The most common reason cited was lack of experience; however, one respondent wrote that he/she would feel uncomfortable prescribing IT without using the standardized hospital IT form. Sixty-seven percent of 12 respondents had previously administered IT to a patient. Sixteen percent of 12 respondents felt uncomfortable administering IT due to lack of experience. Fifty percent of 12 respondents had treated a patient having an allergic reaction to IT and 100% of these same respondents felt "somewhat comfortable" to "very comfortable" in responding to an allergic reaction to IT. Seventy-five percent of 12 respondents agreed that a formal clinical rotation in IT would be helpful.
Conclusions
The results of this pilot survey demonstrate that Canadian fellows-in-training in Allergy and Clinical Immunology are not receiving adequate exposure and training in IT. Future studies will help to explore this subject in more detail.
doi:10.1097/01.WOX.0000411606.27561.e2
PMCID: PMC3512924
18.  Evaluation of a clinical decision support tool for osteoporosis disease management: protocol for an interrupted time series design 
Background
Osteoporosis affects over 200 million people worldwide at a high cost to healthcare systems. Although guidelines on assessing and managing osteoporosis are available, many patients are not receiving appropriate diagnostic testing or treatment. Findings from a systematic review of osteoporosis interventions, a series of mixed-methods studies, and advice from experts in osteoporosis and human-factors engineering were used collectively to develop a multicomponent tool (targeted to family physicians and patients at risk for osteoporosis) that may support clinical decision making in osteoporosis disease management at the point of care.
Methods
A three-phased approach will be used to evaluate the osteoporosis tool. In phase 1, the tool will be implemented in three family practices. It will involve ensuring optimal functioning of the tool while minimizing disruption to usual practice. In phase 2, the tool will be pilot tested in a quasi-experimental interrupted time series (ITS) design to determine if it can improve osteoporosis disease management at the point of care. Phase 3 will involve conducting a qualitative postintervention follow-up study to better understand participants' experiences and perceived utility of the tool and readiness to adopt the tool at the point of care.
Discussion
The osteoporosis tool has the potential to make several contributions to the development and evaluation of complex, chronic disease interventions, such as the inclusion of an implementation strategy prior to conducting an evaluation study. Anticipated benefits of the tool may be to increase awareness for patients about osteoporosis and its associated risks and provide an opportunity to discuss a management plan with their physician, which may all facilitate patient self-management.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-77
PMCID: PMC3152529  PMID: 21781318
19.  Understanding the relationship between the perceived characteristics of clinical practice guidelines and their uptake: protocol for a realist review 
Background
Clinical practice guidelines have the potential to facilitate the implementation of evidence into practice, support clinical decision making, specify beneficial therapeutic approaches, and influence public policy. However, these potential benefits have not been consistently achieved. The limited impact of guidelines can be attributed to organisational constraints, the complexity of the guidelines, and the lack of usability testing or end-user involvement in their development. Implementability has been referred to as the perceived characteristics of guidelines that predict the relative ease of their implementation at the clinical level, but this concept is as yet poorly defined. The objective of our study is to identify guideline attributes that affect uptake in practice by considering evidence from four disciplines (medicine, psychology, management, human factors engineering) to determine the relationship between the perceived characteristics of recommendations and their uptake and to develop a framework of implementability.
Methods
A realist-review approach to knowledge synthesis will be used to understand attributes of guidelines (e.g., its text and content) and how changing these elements might impact clinical practice and clinical decision making. It also allows for the exploration of 'what works for whom, in what circumstances, and in what respects'. The realist review will be structured according to Pawson's five practical steps in realist reviews: (1) clarifying the scope of the review, (2) determining the search strategy, (3) ensuring proper article selection and study quality assessment, (4) extracting and organising data, and (5) synthesising the evidence and drawing conclusions. Data will be synthesised according to a two-stage analysis: (1) we will extract and define all relevant guideline attributes from the different disciplines, then create a shortlist of unique attributes and investigate their relationships with uptake, and (2) we will compare and contrast the attributes and guideline uptake within each and between the four disciplines to create a robust framework of implementability.
Discussion
Creating guidelines that are designed to maximise uptake may be a potentially effective and inexpensive way of increasing their impact. However, this is best achieved by a comprehensive framework to inform the design of guidelines drawing on a range of disciplines that study behaviour change. This study will use a customised realist-review approach to synthesising the literature to better understand and operationalise a complex and under-theorised concept.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-69
PMCID: PMC3224565  PMID: 21733160
20.  Usability evaluation of a clinical decision support tool for osteoporosis disease management 
Background
Osteoporosis affects over 200 million people worldwide at a high cost to healthcare systems. Although guidelines are available, patients are not receiving appropriate diagnostic testing or treatment. Findings from a systematic review of osteoporosis interventions and a series of focus groups were used to develop a functional multifaceted tool that can support clinical decision-making in osteoporosis disease management at the point of care. The objective of our study was to assess how well the prototype met functional goals and usability needs.
Methods
We conducted a usability study for each component of the tool--the Best Practice Recommendation Prompt (BestPROMPT), the Risk Assessment Questionnaire (RAQ), and the Customised Osteoporosis Education (COPE) sheet--using the framework described by Kushniruk and Patel. All studies consisted of one-on-one sessions with a moderator using a standardised worksheet. Sessions were audio- and video-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis consisted of a combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses.
Results
In study 1, physicians liked that the BestPROMPT can provide customised recommendations based on risk factors identified from the RAQ. Barriers included lack of time to use the tool, the need to alter clinic workflow to enable point-of-care use, and that the tool may disrupt the real reason for the visit. In study 2, patients completed the RAQ in a mean of 6 minutes, 35 seconds. Of the 42 critical incidents, 60% were navigational and most occurred when the first nine participants were using the stylus pen; no critical incidents were observed with the last six participants that used the touch screen. Patients thought that the RAQ questions were easy to read and understand, but they found it difficult to initiate the questionnaire. Suggestions for improvement included improving aspects of the interface and navigation. The results of study 3 showed that most patients were able to understand and describe sections of the COPE sheet, and all considered discussing the information with their physicians. Suggestions for improvement included simplifying the language and improving the layout.
Conclusions
Findings from the three studies informed changes to the tool and confirmed the importance of usability testing on all end users to reduce errors, and as an important step in the development process of knowledge translation interventions.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-96
PMCID: PMC3016442  PMID: 21143978
22.  Food allergy management from the perspective of patients or caregivers, and allergists: a qualitative study 
Background
Research has shown that the long term management of food allergy is suboptimal. Our study aims to provide direction for improvement, by evaluating food allergy management from the perspective of, food allergic patients or their caregivers, and allergists in selected outpatient settings in Ontario.
Methods
This two-part study included an anonymous questionnaire completed by patients or their caregivers in allergy clinics, and a qualitative interview with allergists. In Part A, food allergic patients or their caregivers were surveyed about information they received on food allergy, their level of confidence with self-management, and their learning needs. In Part B, allergists were interviewed about teaching priorities and the challenges and strategies that currently exist in food allergy management. The questionnaire was developed and piloted at the Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation-McMaster University Medical Center Site. Using convenience sampling, participants were recruited from 6 allergy clinics in 5 Ontario cities. Patients of any age with food allergy who were evaluated by an allergist were considered for inclusion. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and frequency analysis. Audio recorded interviews with allergists were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using content analysis of grounded theory methodology.
Results
Ninety-two food allergic families in the care of 6 allergists in Toronto, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, and Kingston participated in the study. Key areas requiring improvement in food allergy management were identified: 33% of families were not shown how to use an epinephrine auto-injector with a trainer, only 57% were asked to demonstrate an auto-injector, despite being on average at their 5th visit, and only about 30% felt very confident about when and how to give an auto-injector. Fifty percent of families did not receive sufficient information on medical identification and 21% did not receive information about support groups. Interviews with allergists revealed limitations in time and nursing resources.
Conclusions
Our study highlights the educational gaps and overall experiences of food allergic families in Ontario, and the challenges faced by the allergists managing them.
doi:10.1186/1710-1492-6-30
PMCID: PMC3002337  PMID: 21118534
24.  The trainees' perspective on developing an end-of-grant knowledge translation plan 
Background
Knowledge translation (KT) is a rapidly growing field that is becoming an integral part of research protocols.
Methods
This meeting report describes one group's experience at the 2009 KT Canada Summer Institute in developing an end-of-grant KT plan for a randomized control trial proposal.
Results
Included is a discussion of the process, challenges, and recommendations from the trainee's perspective in developing an end-of-grant KT plan.
Conclusion
New researchers should consider developing an end-of-grant KT plan with strategies that move beyond passive dissemination to incorporate innovative means of collaboration with the end user to craft the message, package the information, and share the research findings with end users.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-78
PMCID: PMC2967498  PMID: 20946679
25.  Development of a prototype clinical decision support tool for osteoporosis disease management: a qualitative study of focus groups 
Background
Osteoporosis affects over 200 million people worldwide, and represents a significant cost burden. Although guidelines are available for best practice in osteoporosis, evidence indicates that patients are not receiving appropriate diagnostic testing or treatment according to guidelines. The use of clinical decision support systems (CDSSs) may be one solution because they can facilitate knowledge translation by providing high-quality evidence at the point of care. Findings from a systematic review of osteoporosis interventions and consultation with clinical and human factors engineering experts were used to develop a conceptual model of an osteoporosis tool. We conducted a qualitative study of focus groups to better understand physicians' perceptions of CDSSs and to transform the conceptual osteoporosis tool into a functional prototype that can support clinical decision making in osteoporosis disease management at the point of care.
Methods
The conceptual design of the osteoporosis tool was tested in 4 progressive focus groups with family physicians and general internists. An iterative strategy was used to qualitatively explore the experiences of physicians with CDSSs; and to find out what features, functions, and evidence should be included in a working prototype. Focus groups were conducted using a semi-structured interview guide using an iterative process where results of the first focus group informed changes to the questions for subsequent focus groups and to the conceptual tool design. Transcripts were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using grounded theory methodology.
Results
Of the 3 broad categories of themes that were identified, major barriers related to the accuracy and feasibility of extracting bone mineral density test results and medications from the risk assessment questionnaire; using an electronic input device such as a Tablet PC in the waiting room; and the importance of including well-balanced information in the patient education component of the osteoporosis tool. Suggestions for modifying the tool included the addition of a percentile graph showing patients' 10-year risk for osteoporosis or fractures, and ensuring that the tool takes no more than 5 minutes to complete.
Conclusions
Focus group data revealed the facilitators and barriers to using the osteoporosis tool at the point of care so that it can be optimized to aid physicians in their clinical decision making.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-10-40
PMCID: PMC2914714  PMID: 20650007

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