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1.  Unwalkable Neighborhoods, Poverty, and the Risk of Diabetes Among Recent Immigrants to Canada Compared With Long-Term Residents 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(2):302-308.
OBJECTIVE
This study was designed to examine whether residents living in neighborhoods that are less conducive to walking or other physical activities are more likely to develop diabetes and, if so, whether recent immigrants are particularly susceptible to such effects.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study to assess the impact of neighborhood walkability on diabetes incidence among recent immigrants (n = 214,882) relative to long-term residents (n = 1,024,380). Adults aged 30–64 years who were free of diabetes and living in Toronto, Canada, on 31 March 2005 were identified from administrative health databases and followed until 31 March 2010 for the development of diabetes, using a validated algorithm. Neighborhood characteristics, including walkability and income, were derived from the Canadian Census and other sources.
RESULTS
Neighborhood walkability was a strong predictor of diabetes incidence independent of age and area income, particularly among recent immigrants (lowest [quintile 1 {Q1}] vs. highest [quintile 5 {Q5}] walkability quintile: relative risk [RR] 1.58 [95% CI 1.42–1.75] for men; 1.67 [1.48–1.88] for women) compared with long-term residents (Q1 to Q5) 1.32 [1.26–1.38] for men; 1.24 [1.18–1.31] for women). Coexisting poverty accentuated these effects; diabetes incidence varied threefold between recent immigrants living in low-income/low walkability areas (16.2 per 1,000) and those living in high-income/high walkability areas (5.1 per 1,000).
CONCLUSIONS
Neighborhood walkability was inversely associated with the development of diabetes in our setting, particularly among recent immigrants living in low-income areas.
doi:10.2337/dc12-0777
PMCID: PMC3554289  PMID: 22988302
2.  Density, Destinations or Both? A Comparison of Measures of Walkability in Relation to Transportation Behaviors, Obesity and Diabetes in Toronto, Canada 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85295.
The design of suburban communities encourages car dependency and discourages walking, characteristics that have been implicated in the rise of obesity. Walkability measures have been developed to capture these features of urban built environments. Our objective was to examine the individual and combined associations of residential density and the presence of walkable destinations, two of the most commonly used and potentially modifiable components of walkability measures, with transportation, overweight, obesity, and diabetes. We examined associations between a previously published walkability measure and transportation behaviors and health outcomes in Toronto, Canada, a city of 2.6 million people in 2011. Data sources included the Canada census, a transportation survey, a national health survey and a validated administrative diabetes database. We depicted interactions between residential density and the availability of walkable destinations graphically and examined them statistically using general linear modeling. Individuals living in more walkable areas were more than twice as likely to walk, bicycle or use public transit and were significantly less likely to drive or own a vehicle compared with those living in less walkable areas. Individuals in less walkable areas were up to one-third more likely to be obese or to have diabetes. Residential density and the availability of walkable destinations were each significantly associated with transportation and health outcomes. The combination of high levels of both measures was associated with the highest levels of walking or bicycling (p<0.0001) and public transit use (p<0.0026) and the lowest levels of automobile trips (p<0.0001), and diabetes prevalence (p<0.0001). We conclude that both residential density and the availability of walkable destinations are good measures of urban walkability and can be recommended for use by policy-makers, planners and public health officials. In our setting, the combination of both factors provided additional explanatory power.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085295
PMCID: PMC3891889  PMID: 24454837
3.  Association between socio-economic status and hemoglobin A1c levels in a Canadian primary care adult population without diabetes 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:7.
Background
Hgb A1c levels may be higher in persons without diabetes of lower socio-economic status (SES) but evidence about this association is limited; there is therefore uncertainty about the inclusion of SES in clinical decision support tools informing the provision and frequency of Hgb A1c tests to screen for diabetes. We studied the association between neighborhood-level SES and Hgb A1c in a primary care population without diabetes.
Methods
This is a retrospective study using data routinely collected in the electronic medical records (EMRs) of forty six community-based family physicians in Toronto, Ontario. We analysed records from 4,870 patients without diabetes, age 45 and over, with at least one clinical encounter between January 1st 2009 and December 31st 2011 and one or more Hgb A1c report present in their chart during that time interval. Residential postal codes were used to assign neighborhood deprivation indices and income levels by quintiles. Covariates included elements known to be associated with an increase in the risk of incident diabetes: age, gender, family history of diabetes, body mass index, blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting blood glucose.
Results
The difference in mean Hgb A1c between highest and lowest income quintiles was -0.04% (p = 0.005, 95% CI -0.07% to -0.01%), and between least deprived and most deprived was -0.05% (p = 0.003, 95% CI -0.09% to -0.02%) for material deprivation and 0.02% (p = 0.2, 95% CI -0.06% to 0.01%) for social deprivation. After adjustment for covariates, a marginally statistically significant difference in Hgb A1c between highest and lowest SES quintile (p = 0.04) remained in the material deprivation model, but not in the other models.
Conclusions
We found a small inverse relationship between Hgb A1c and the material aspects of SES; this was largely attenuated once we adjusted for diabetes risk factors, indicating that an independent contribution of SES to increasing Hgb A1c may be limited. This study does not support the inclusion of SES in clinical decision support tools that inform the use of Hgb A1c for diabetes screening.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-7
PMCID: PMC3890502  PMID: 24410794
4.  Feedback GAP: pragmatic, cluster-randomized trial of goal setting and action plans to increase the effectiveness of audit and feedback interventions in primary care 
Background
Audit and feedback to physicians is a commonly used quality improvement strategy, but its optimal design is unknown. This trial tested the effects of a theory-informed worksheet to facilitate goal setting and action planning, appended to feedback reports on chronic disease management, compared to feedback reports provided without these worksheets.
Methods
A two-arm pragmatic cluster randomized trial was conducted, with allocation at the level of primary care clinics. Participants were family physicians who contributed data from their electronic medical records. The ‘usual feedback’ arm received feedback every six months for two years regarding the proportion of their patients meeting quality targets for diabetes and/or ischemic heart disease. The intervention arm received these same reports plus a worksheet designed to facilitate goal setting and action plan development in response to the feedback reports. Blood pressure (BP) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) values were compared after two years as the primary outcomes. Process outcomes measured the proportion of guideline-recommended actions (e.g., testing and prescribing) conducted within the appropriate timeframe. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed.
Results
Outcomes were similar across groups at baseline. Final analysis included 20 physicians from seven clinics and 1,832 patients in the intervention arm (15% loss to follow up) and 29 physicians from seven clinics and 2,223 patients in the usual feedback arm (10% loss to follow up). Ten of 20 physicians completed the worksheet at least once during the study. Mean BP was 128/72 in the feedback plus worksheet arm and 128/73 in the feedback alone arm, while LDL was 2.1 and 2.0, respectively. Thus, no significant differences were observed across groups in the primary outcomes, but mean haemoglobin A1c was lower in the feedback plus worksheet arm (7.2% versus 7.4%, p<0.001). Improvements in both arms were noted over time for one-half of the process outcomes.
Discussion
Appending a theory-informed goal setting and action planning worksheet to an externally produced audit and feedback intervention did not lead to improvements in patient outcomes. The results may be explained in part by passive dissemination of the worksheet leading to inadequate engagement with the intervention.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00996645
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-142
PMCID: PMC3878579  PMID: 24341511
5.  Evaluating the impact of treatment for sleep/wake disorders on recovery of cognition and communication in adults with chronic TBI 
Brain Injury  2013;27(12):1364-1376.
Objective
To longitudinally examine objective and self-reported outcomes for recovery of cognition, communication, mood and participation in adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and co-morbid post-traumatic sleep/wake disorders.
Design
Prospective, longitudinal, single blind outcome study.
Setting
Community-based.
Participants
Ten adults with moderate–severe TBI and two adults with mild TBI and persistent symptoms aged 18–58 years. Six males and six females, who were 1–22 years post-injury and presented with self-reported sleep/wake disturbances with onset post-injury.
Interventions
Individualized treatments for sleep/wake disorders that included sleep hygiene recommendations, pharmacological interventions and/or treatments for sleep apnea with follow-up.
Main outcome measures
Insomnia Severity Index, Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories, Latrobe Communication Questionnaire, Speed and Capacity of Language Processing, Test of Everyday Attention, Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status, Daily Cognitive-Communication and Sleep Profile.
Results
Group analysis revealed positive trends in change for each measure and across sub-tests of all measures. Statistically significant changes were noted in insomnia severity, p = 0.0003; depression severity, p = 0.03; language, p = 0.01; speed of language processing, p = 0.007.
Conclusions
These results add to a small but growing body of evidence that sleep/wake disorders associated with TBI exacerbate trauma-related cognitive, communication and mood impairments. Treatment for sleep/wake disorders may optimize recovery and outcomes.
doi:10.3109/02699052.2013.823663
PMCID: PMC3809926  PMID: 24070180
Cognition; communication; mood; outcomes; sleep disorders; traumatic brain injury
6.  Female sex work interventions and changes in HIV and syphilis infection risks from 2003 to 2008 in India: a repeated cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2013;3(6):e002724.
Objectives
We examined if increased spending and coverage of female sex worker (FSW) interventions were associated with declines in HIV or syphilis risk among young pregnant women (as a proxy for new infections in the general population) in the high-burden southern states of India.
Design
Repeated cross-sectional analysis.
Setting
We used logistic regression to relate district-level spending, number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) treated, FSWs reached or condoms distributed to the declines in the annual risk of HIV and syphilis from 2003 to 2008 among prenatal clinic attendees in the four high-HIV burden states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
Participants
386 961 pregnant women aged 15–24 years (as a proxy for incident infections in the adult population).
Interventions
We examined National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) data on 868 FSW intervention projects implemented between 1995 and 2008.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
HIV or syphilis infection.
Results
HIV and syphilis prevalence declined substantially among young pregnant women. Each additional STI treated (per 1000 people) reduced the annual risk of HIV infection by −1.7% (95% CI −3.3 to −0.1) and reduced the annual risk of syphilis infection by −10.9% (95%CI −15.9 to −5.8). Spending, FSWs reached or condoms distributed did not reduce HIV risk, but each was significantly associated with reduced annual risk of syphilis infection. There were no major differences between the NACO-funded and Avahan-funded districts in the annual risk of either STI.
Conclusions
Targeted FSW interventions are associated with reductions in syphilis risk and STI treatment is associated with reduced HIV risk. Both more and less costly FSW interventions have comparable effectiveness.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002724
PMCID: PMC3686231  PMID: 23794571
Public Health; Infectious Diseases
8.  Diabetes Screening Among Immigrants 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(4):754-761.
OBJECTIVE
To examine diabetes screening, predictors of screening, and the burden of undiagnosed diabetes in the immigrant population and whether these estimates differ by ethnicity.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
A population-based retrospective cohort linking administrative health data to immigration files was used to follow the entire diabetes-free population aged 40 years and up in Ontario, Canada (N = 3,484,222) for 3 years (2004–2007) to determine whether individuals were screened for diabetes. Multivariate regression was used to determine predictors of having a diabetes test.
RESULTS
Screening rates were slightly higher in the immigrant versus the general population (76.0 and 74.4%, respectively; P < 0.001), with the highest rates in people born in South Asia, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Immigrant seniors (age ≥65 years) were screened less than nonimmigrant seniors. Percent yield of new diabetes subjects among those screened was high for certain countries of birth (South Asia, 13.0%; Mexico and Latin America, 12.1%; Caribbean, 9.5%) and low among others (Europe, Central Asia, U.S., 5.1–5.2%). The number of physician visits was the single most important predictor of screening, and many high-risk ethnic groups required numerous visits before a test was administered. The proportion of diabetes that remained undiagnosed was estimated to be 9.7% in the general population and 9.0% in immigrants.
CONCLUSIONS
Overall diabetes-screening rates are high in Canada’s universal health care setting, including among high-risk ethnic groups. Despite this finding, disparities in screening rates between immigrant subgroups persist and multiple physician visits are often required to achieve recommended screening levels.
doi:10.2337/dc11-1393
PMCID: PMC3308303  PMID: 22357181
9.  Modeling the Cumulative Effects of Social Exposures on Health: Moving beyond Disease-Specific Models 
The traditional explanatory models used in epidemiology are “disease specific”, identifying risk factors for specific health conditions. Yet social exposures lead to a generalized, cumulative health impact which may not be specific to one illness. Disease-specific models may therefore misestimate social factors’ effects on health. Using data from the Canadian Community Health Survey and Canada 2001 Census we construct and compare “disease-specific” and “generalized health impact” (GHI) models to gauge the negative health effects of one social exposure: socioeconomic position (SEP). We use logistic and multinomial multilevel modeling with neighbourhood-level material deprivation, individual-level education and household income to compare and contrast the two approaches. In disease-specific models, the social determinants under study were each associated with the health conditions of interest. However, larger effect sizes were apparent when outcomes were modeled as compound health problems (0, 1, 2, or 3+ conditions) using the GHI approach. To more accurately estimate social exposures’ impacts on population health, researchers should consider a GHI framework.
doi:10.3390/ijerph10041186
PMCID: PMC3709312  PMID: 23528813
social determinants; socioeconomic position; multinomial regression; multilevel modeling; health inequities
10.  Food Fortification and Decline in the Prevalence of Neural Tube Defects: Does Public Intervention Reduce the Socioeconomic Gap in Prevalence? 
Objective: A significant decline in the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTD) through food fortification has been reported. Questions remain, however, about the effectiveness of this intervention in reducing the gap in prevalence across socioeconomic status (SES). Study Design: Using health number and through record linkage, children born in Ontario hospitals between 1994 and 2009 were followed for the diagnosis of congenital anomalies. SES quintiles were assigned to each child using census information at the time of birth. Adjusted rates and multivariate models were used to compare trends among children born in different SES groups. Results: Children born in low SES areas had significantly higher rates of NTDs (RR = 1.25, CI: 1.14–1.37). Prevalence of NTDs among children born in low and high SES areas declined since food fortification began in 1999 although has started rising again since 2006. While the crude decline was greater in low SES areas, after adjustment for maternal age, the slope of decline and SES gap in prevalence rates remained unchanged overtime. Conclusions: While food fortification is successful in reducing the prevalence of NTDs, it was not associated with removing the gap between high and low SES groups.
doi:10.3390/ijerph10041312
PMCID: PMC3709319  PMID: 23538728
neural tube defects; food fortification; socioeconomic status; health disparities
11.  Is asthma a vanishing disease? A study to forecast the burden of asthma in 2022 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:254.
Background
Recent evidence regarding temporal trends of asthma burden has not been consistent, with some countries reporting decreases in prevalence of asthma. In Ontario, the province in Canada with the highest population, the prevalence of asthma rose at a rate of 0.5% per year between 1996 and 2005. These estimates were based on population-based health services use data spanning more than a decade and provide a powerful source to forecast the trends of asthma burden. The objective of this study was to use observed population trends data of asthma incidence and prevalence to forecast future disease burden.
Methods
The Ontario Asthma Surveillance Information System (OASIS) used health administrative databases to identify and track all individuals in the province with asthma. Individuals with asthma identified between April 1, 1996 and March 31, 2010 were included. Exponential smoothing models were applied to annual data to project incidence to the year 2022, prevalence was estimated by applying the cumulative projected incidence to the projected population.
Results
While asthma incidence is falling, the absolute number of prevalent cases will continue to rise. We projected that almost 1 in 8 individuals in Ontario will have asthma by the year 2022, suggesting that asthma will continue to be a major burden on individuals and the health care system.
Conclusions
These projections will help inform health care planners and decision-makers regarding resource allocation to optimize asthma outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-254
PMCID: PMC3626860  PMID: 23517452
12.  Unintended consequences of delisting routine eye exams on retinopathy screening for people with diabetes in Ontario, Canada 
Background:
Routine eye examinations for healthy adults aged 20–64 years were delisted from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan in 2004, but they continue to be insured for people with diabetes regardless of age. We sought to assess whether the delisting of routine eye examinations for healthy adults had the unintended consequence of decreasing retinopathy screening for adults with diabetes.
Methods:
We used administrative data to calculate eye examinations for people with diabetes ages 40–64 years and 65 years and older in each 2-year period from 1998 to 2010. We examined differences by sex, income, rurality and type of health care provider. We used segmented linear regression to assess the change in trend before and after 2004.
Results:
For people with diabetes aged 65 years and older, eye examinations rose gradually from 1998 to 2010, with no substantial change between 2004 and 2006. For people with diabetes aged 40–65 years, there was an 8.7% (95% confidence interval [CI] 6.3%–11.1%) decrease in eye examinations between 2004 and 2006. Results were similar for all population subgroups. Ophthalmologic examinations decreased steadily for both age groups during the study period, and there was a decline in optometry examinations for people ages 40–65 years after 2004.
Interpretation:
The delisting of routine eye examinations for healthy adults in Ontario had the unintended consequence of reducing publicly funded retinopathy screening for people with diabetes. More research is needed to understand whether patients are being charged for an insured service or to what degree misunderstanding has prevented patients from seeking care.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.120862
PMCID: PMC3576462  PMID: 23296581
13.  Does social disadvantage affect the validity of self-report for cervical cancer screening? 
Objective
The aim was to review the international literature on the validity of self-report of cervical cancer screening, specifically of studies that made direct comparisons among women with and without social disadvantage, based on race/ethnicity, foreign-born status, language ability, income, or education.
Method
The databases of Medline, EBM Reviews, and CINAHL from 1990 to 2011 were searched using relevant search terms. Articles eligible for data extraction documented the prevalence of cervical cancer screening based on both self-report and an objective measure for women both with and without at least one measure of social disadvantage. The report-to-record ratio, the ratio of the proportion of study subjects who report at least one screening test within a particular time frame to the proportion of study subjects who have a record of the same test within that time frame, was calculated for each subgroup.
Results
Five studies met the extraction criteria. Subgroups were based on race/ethnicity, education, and income. In all studies, and across all subgroups, report-to-record ratios were greater than one, indicative of pervasive over-reporting.
Conclusion
The findings suggest that objective measures should be used by policymakers, researchers, and public-health practitioners in place of self-report to accurately determine cervical cancer screening rates.
doi:10.2147/IJWH.S39556
PMCID: PMC3558311  PMID: 23378784
vulnerable populations; early detection of cancer; vaginal smears; Pap test; reproducibility of results; validity
15.  Cancer screening practices of cancer survivors 
Canadian Family Physician  2012;58(9):980-986.
Abstract
Objective
To describe cancer screening rates for cancer survivors and compare them with those for matched controls.
Design
Population-based, retrospective study with individuals linked across administrative databases.
Setting
Ontario.
Participants
Survivors of breast (n = 11 219), colorectal (n = 4348), or endometrial (n = 3473) cancer, or Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) (n = 2071) matched to general population controls. Survivors were those who had completed primary treatment and were on “well” follow-up. The study period was 4 years (1 to 5 years from the date of cancer diagnosis).
Main outcome measures
Never versus ever screened (in the 4-year study period) for breast cancer, colorectal cancer (CRC), and cervical cancer and never versus ever received (during the study period) a periodic health examination; rates were compared between cancer survivors and controls. Random effects models were used to estimate odds ratios and 95% CIs.
Results
Sixty-five percent of breast cancer survivors were never screened for CRC and 40% were never screened for cervical cancer. Approximately 50% of CRC survivors were never screened for breast or cervical cancer. Thirty-two percent of endometrial cancer survivors were never screened for breast cancer and 66% were never screened for CRC. Forty-four percent of HL survivors were never screened for breast cancer, 77% were never screened for CRC, and 32% were never screened for cervical cancer. Comparison with matched controls showed a mixed picture, with breast and endometrial cancer survivors more likely, and CRC and HL survivors less likely, than controls to be screened.
Conclusion
There is concern about the preventive care of cancer survivors despite frequent visits to both oncology specialists and family physicians during the “well” follow-up period.
PMCID: PMC3440276  PMID: 22972732
16.  Measuring data reliability for preventive services in electronic medical records 
Background
Improvements in the quality of health care services are often measured using data present in medical records. Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) contain potentially valuable new sources of health data. However, data quality in EMRs may not be optimal and should be assessed. Data reliability (are the same data elements being measured over time?) is a prerequisite for data validity (are the data accurate?). Our objective was to measure the reliability of data for preventive services in primary care EMRs during the transition to EMR.
Methods
Our data sources were randomly selected eligible patients’ medical records and data obtained from provincial administrative datasets. Eighteen community-based family physicians in Toronto, Ontario that implemented EMRs starting in 2006 participated in this study. We measured the proportion of patients eligible for a service (Pap smear, screening mammogram or influenza vaccination) that received the service. We compared the change in rates of selected preventive services calculated from the medical record audits with the change in administrative datasets.
Results
In the first year of EMR use (2006) services decreased by 8.7% more (95% CI −11.0%– − 6.4%, p < 0.0001) when measured through medical record audits as compared with administrative datasets. Services increased by 2.4% more (95% CI 0%–4.9%, p = 0.05) in the medical record audits during the second year of EMR use (2007).
Conclusion
There were differences between the change measured through medical record audits and administrative datasets. Problems could include difficulties with organizing new data entry processes as well as continued use of both paper and EMRs. Data extracted from EMRs had limited reliability during the initial phase of EMR implementation. Unreliable data interferes with the ability to measure and improve health care quality
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-116
PMCID: PMC3442990  PMID: 22583552
Measurement; Reliability; Validity; Electronic medical records; Preventive health services; Quality of health care; Primary medical care
17.  Implementation of electronic medical records 
Canadian Family Physician  2011;57(10):e381-e389.
Abstract
Objective
To study the effect of electronic medical record (EMR) implementation on preventive services covered by Ontario’s pay-for-performance program.
Design
Prospective double-cohort study.
Participants
Twenty-seven community-based family physicians.
Setting
Toronto, Ont.
Intervention
Eighteen physicians implemented EMRs, while 9 physicians continued to use paper records.
Main outcome measure
Provision of 4 preventive services affected by pay-for-performance incentives (Papanicolaou tests, screening mammograms, fecal occult blood testing, and influenza vaccinations) in the first 2 years of EMR implementation.
Results
After adjustment, combined preventive services for the EMR group increased by 0.7%, a smaller increase than that seen in the non-EMR group (P = .55, 95% confidence interval −2.8 to 3.9).
Conclusion
When compared with paper records, EMR implementation had no significant effect on the provision of the 4 preventive services studied.
PMCID: PMC3192104  PMID: 21998246
18.  Implementation of electronic medical records 
Canadian Family Physician  2011;57(10):e390-e397.
Abstract
Objective
To apply the diffusion-of-innovations theory to the examination of factors that are perceived by family physicians as influencing the implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs).
Design
Qualitative study with 2 focus groups 18 months after EMR implementation; participants also took part in a concurrent quantitative study examining EMR implementation and preventive services.
Setting
Toronto, Ont.
Participants
Twelve community-based family physicians.
Methods
We employed a semistructured interview guide. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim; 2 researchers independently categorized and coded the transcripts and then met to compare and contrast their findings, category mapping, and interpretations. Findings were then mapped to an existing theoretical framework.
Main findings
Multiple barriers to EMR implementation were described. These included lack of relative advantage for many processes, high complexity of the system, low compatibility with physician needs and past experiences, difficulty with adaptation of the EMR to the organization and adaptation of the organization to the EMR, and lack of organizational slack. Positive factors were the presence of a champion and relative advantages for some processes.
Conclusion
Early EMR implementation experience is consistent with theoretical concepts associated with implementation of innovations. A problematic implementation process helps to explain, at least in part, the lack of improvement in preventive services in our quantitative results.
PMCID: PMC3192105  PMID: 21998247
19.  Social disparities in the use of colonoscopy by primary care physicians in Ontario 
BMC Gastroenterology  2011;11:102.
Background
It is unclear if all persons in Ontario have equal access to colonoscopy. This research was designed to describe long-term trends in the use of colonoscopy by primary care physicians (PCPs) in Ontario, and to determine whether PCP characteristics influence the use of colonoscopy.
Methods
We conducted a population-based retrospective study of PCPs in Ontario between the years 1996-2005. Using administrative data we identified a screen-eligible group of patients aged 50-74 years in Ontario. These patients were linked to the PCP who provided the most continuous care to them during each year. We determined the use of any colonoscopy among these patients. We calculated the rate of colonoscopy for each PCP as the number of patients undergoing colonoscopies per 100 screen eligible patients. Negative binomial regression was used to identify factors associated with the rate of colonoscopy, using generalized estimating equations to account for clustering of patients within PCPs.
Results
Between 7,955 and 8,419 PCPs in Ontario per year (median age 43 years) had at least 10 eligible patients in their practices. The use of colonoscopy by PCPs increased sharply in Ontario during the study period, from a median rate of 1.51 [inter quartile range (IQR) 0.57-2.62] per 100 screen eligible patients in 1996 to 4.71 (IQR 2.70-7.53) in 2005. There was substantial variation between PCPs in their use of colonoscopy. PCPs who were Canadian medical graduates and with more years of experience were more likely to use colonoscopy after adjusting for their patient characteristics. PCPs were more likely to use colonoscopy if their patient populations were predominantly women, older, had more illnesses, and if their patients resided in less marginalized neighborhoods (lower unemployment, fewer immigrants, higher income, higher education, and higher English/French fluency).
Conclusions
There is substantial variation in the use of colonoscopy by PCPs, and this variation has increased as the overall use of colonoscopy increased over time. PCPs whose patients were more marginalized were less likely to use colonoscopy, suggesting that there are inequities in access.
doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-102
PMCID: PMC3206464  PMID: 21955593
20.  Diabetes screening with hemoglobin A1c prior to a change in guideline recommendations: prevalence and patient characteristics 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:91.
Background
In January 2010, the American Diabetes Association recommended the use of hemoglobin A1c (Hgb A1c) to screen and diagnose diabetes. This study explored the prevalence and clinical context of Hgb A1c tests done for non-diabetic primary care patients for the three years prior to the release of the new guidelines. We sought to determine the provision of tests in non-diabetic patients age 19 or over, patients age 45 and over (eligible for routine diabetes screening), the annual change in the rate of this screening test, and the patient characteristics associated with the provision of Hgb A1c screening.
Methods
We conducted a retrospective study using data routinely collected in Electronic Medical Records. The participants were thirteen community-based family physicians in Toronto, Ontario. We calculated the proportion of non diabetic patients who had at least one Hbg A1c done in three years. We used logistic generalized estimating equation with year treated as a continuous variable to test for a non-zero slope in yearly Hbg A1c provision. We modelled screening using multivariable logistic regression.
Results
There were 11,792 non-diabetic adults. Of these, 1,678 (14.2%; 95%CI 13.6%-14.9%) had at least one Hgb A1c test done; this was higher for patients 45 years of age or older (20.2%; 95% CI 19.3% - 21.2%). The proportion of non-diabetic patients with an A1c test increased from 5.2% in 2007 to 8.8% in 2009 (p < 0.0001 for presence of slope). Factors associated with significantly greater adjusted odds ratios of having the test done included increasing diastolic blood pressure, increasing fasting glucose, increasing body mass index, increasing age, as well as male gender and presence of hypertension, but not smoking status or LDL cholesterol. Patients living in the highest income quintile neighbourhoods had significantly lower odds ratios of having this test done than those in the lowest quintile (p < 0.001).
Conclusions
A large and increasing proportion of the non-diabetic patients we studied have had an Hgb A1c for screening prior to guidelines recommending the test for this purpose. Several risk factors for cardiovascular disease or diabetes were associated with the provision of the Hgb A1c. Early uptake of the test may represent appropriate utilization.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-91
PMCID: PMC3176161  PMID: 21864396
21.  Modeling factors influencing the demand for emergency department services in ontario: a comparison of methods 
Background
Emergency departments are medical treatment facilities, designed to provide episodic care to patients suffering from acute injuries and illnesses as well as patients who are experiencing sporadic flare-ups of underlying chronic medical conditions which require immediate attention. Supply and demand for emergency department services varies across geographic regions and time. Some persons do not rely on the service at all whereas; others use the service on repeated occasions. Issues regarding increased wait times for services and crowding illustrate the need to investigate which factors are associated with increased frequency of emergency department utilization. The evidence from this study can help inform policy makers on the appropriate mix of supply and demand targeted health care policies necessary to ensure that patients receive appropriate health care delivery in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The purpose of this report is to assess those factors resulting in increased demand for emergency department services in Ontario. We assess how utilization rates vary according to the severity of patient presentation in the emergency department. We are specifically interested in the impact that access to primary care physicians has on the demand for emergency department services. Additionally, we wish to investigate these trends using a series of novel regression models for count outcomes which have yet to be employed in the domain of emergency medical research.
Methods
Data regarding the frequency of emergency department visits for the respondents of Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) during our study interval (2003-2005) are obtained from the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS). Patients' emergency department utilizations were linked with information from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) which provides individual level medical, socio-demographic, psychological and behavioral information for investigating predictors of increased emergency department utilization. Six different multiple regression models for count data were fitted to assess the influence of predictors on demand for emergency department services, including: Poisson, Negative Binomial, Zero-Inflated Poisson, Zero-Inflated Negative Binomial, Hurdle Poisson, and Hurdle Negative Binomial. Comparison of competing models was assessed by the Vuong test statistic.
Results
The CCHS cycle 2.1 respondents were a roughly equal mix of males (50.4%) and females (49.6%). The majority (86.2%) were young-middle aged adults between the ages of 20-64, living in predominantly urban environments (85.9%), with mid-high household incomes (92.2%) and well-educated, receiving at least a high-school diploma (84.1%). Many participants reported no chronic disease (51.9%), fell into a small number (0-5) of ambulatory diagnostic groups (62.3%), and perceived their health status as good/excellent (88.1%); however, were projected to have high Resource Utilization Band levels of health resource utilization (68.2%). These factors were largely stable for CCHS cycle 3.1 respondents. Factors influencing demand for emergency department services varied according to the severity of triage scores at initial presentation. For example, although a non-significant predictor of the odds of emergency department utilization in high severity cases, access to a primary care physician was a statistically significant predictor of the likelihood of emergency department utilization (OR: 0.69; 95% CI OR: 0.63-0.75) and the rate of emergency department utilization (RR: 0.57; 95% CI RR: 0.50-0.66) in low severity cases.
Conclusion
Using a theoretically appropriate hurdle negative binomial regression model this unique study illustrates that access to a primary care physician is an important predictor of both the odds and rate of emergency department utilization in Ontario. Restructuring primary care services, with aims of increasing access to undersupplied populations may result in decreased emergency department utilization rates by approximately 43% for low severity triage level cases.
doi:10.1186/1471-227X-11-13
PMCID: PMC3175194  PMID: 21854606
22.  Troponin utilization in patients presenting with atrial fibrillation/flutter to the emergency department: retrospective chart review 
Background
There are few recommendations about the use of cardiac markers in the investigation and management of atrial fibrillation/flutter. Currently, it is unknown how many patients with atrial fibrillation/flutter undergo troponin testing, and how positive troponin results are managed in the emergency department. We sought to look at the emergency department troponin utilization patterns.
Methods
We performed a retrospective chart review of patients with atrial fibrillation/flutter presenting to the emergency department at three centers. Outcome measures included the rates of troponins ordered by emergency doctors, number of positive troponins, and those with positive troponins treated as acute coronary syndrome (ACS) by consulting services.
Results
Four hundred fifty-one charts were reviewed. A total of 388 (86%) of the patients had troponins ordered, 13.7% had positive results, and 4.9% were treated for ACS.
Conclusions
Troponin tests are ordered in a high percentage of patients with atrial fibrillation/flutter presenting to emergency departments. Five percent of our total patient cohort was diagnosed as having acute coronary syndrome by consulting services.
doi:10.1186/1865-1380-4-25
PMCID: PMC3126697  PMID: 21651774
23.  Predictors of low cervical cancer screening among immigrant women in Ontario, Canada 
BMC Women's Health  2011;11:20.
Background
Disparities in cervical cancer screening are known to exist in Ontario, Canada for foreign-born women. The relative importance of various barriers to screening may vary across ethnic groups. This study aimed to determine how predictors of low cervical cancer screening, reflective of sociodemographics, the health care system, and migration, varied by region of origin for Ontario's immigrant women.
Methods
Using a validated billing code algorithm, we determined the proportion of women who were not screened during the three-year period of 2006-2008 among 455 864 identified immigrant women living in Ontario's urban centres. We created eight identical multivariate Poisson models, stratified by eight regions of origin for immigrant women. In these models, we adjusted for various sociodemographic, health care-related and migration-related variables. We then used the resulting adjusted relative risks to calculate population-attributable fractions for each variable by region of origin.
Results
Region of origin was not a significant source of effect modification for lack of recent cervical cancer screening. Certain variables were significantly associated with lack of screening across all or nearly all world regions. These consisted of not being in the 35-49 year age group, residence in the lowest-income neighbourhoods, not being in a primary care patient enrolment model, a provider from the same region, and not having a female provider. For all women, the highest population-attributable risk was seen for not having a female provider, with values ranging from 16.8% [95% CI 14.6-19.1%] among women from the Middle East and North Africa to 27.4% [95% CI 26.2-28.6%] for women from East Asia and the Pacific.
Conclusions
To increase screening rates across immigrant groups, efforts should be made to ensure that women have access to a regular source of primary care, and ideally access to a female health professional. Efforts should also be made to increase the enrolment of immigrant women in new primary care patient enrolment models.
doi:10.1186/1472-6874-11-20
PMCID: PMC3121675  PMID: 21619609
24.  Does Time Since Immigration Modify Neighborhood Deprivation Gradients in Preterm Birth? A Multilevel Analysis 
Immigrants’ health is jointly influenced by their pre- and post-migration exposures, but how these two influences operate with increasing duration of residence has not been well-researched. We aimed to examine how the influence of maternal country of birth and neighborhood deprivation effects, if any, change over time since migration and how neighborhood effects among immigrants compare with those observed in the Canadian-born population. Birth data from Ontario hospital records (2002–2007) were linked with an official Canadian immigration database (1985–2000). The outcome measure was preterm birth. Neighborhoods were ranked according to a neighborhood deprivation index developed for Canadian urban areas and collapsed into tertiles of approximately equal size. Time since immigration was measured from the date of arrival to Canada to the date of delivery, ranging from 1 to 22 years. We used cross-classified random effect models to simultaneously account for the membership of births (N = 83,233) to urban neighborhoods (N = 1,801) and maternal countries of birth (N = 168). There were no differences in preterm birth between neighborhood deprivation tertiles among immigrants with less than 15 years of residence. Among immigrants with 15 years of stay or more, the adjusted absolute risk difference (ARD%, 95% confidence interval) between high-deprived (tertile 3) and low-deprived (tertile 1) neighborhoods was 1.86 (0.68, 2.98), while the ARD% observed among the Canadian-born (N = 314,237) was 1.34 (1.11, 1.57). Time since migration modifies the neighborhood deprivation gradient in preterm birth among immigrants living in Ontario cities. Immigrants reached the level of inequalities in preterm birth observed at the neighborhood level among the Canadian-born after 14 years of stay, but neighborhoods did not influence preterm birth among more recent immigrants, for whom the maternal country of birth was more predictive of preterm birth.
doi:10.1007/s11524-011-9569-2
PMCID: PMC3191215  PMID: 21503816
Neighborhoods; Immigrants; Urban; Preterm birth; Country of birth; Deprivation; Multilevel modeling
25.  Is there an impact of public smoking bans on self-reported smoking status and exposure to secondhand smoke? 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:146.
Background
Implementation of smoke free policies has potentially substantial effects on health by reducing secondhand smoke exposure. However little is known about whether the introduction of anti-smoking legislation translates into decreased secondhand smoke exposure. We examined whether smoking bans impact rates of secondhand smoke exposure in public places and rates of complete workplace smoking restriction.
Methods
Canadian Community Health Survey was used to obtain secondhand smoking exposure rates in 15 Ontario municipalities. Data analysis included descriptive summaries and 95% confidence intervals were calculated and compared across groups
Results
Across all studied municipalities, secondhand smoke exposure in public places decreased by 4.7% and workplace exposure decreased by 2.3% between the 2003 and 2005 survey years. The only jurisdiction to implement a full ban from no previous ban was also the only setting that experienced significant decreases in both individual exposure to secondhand smoke in a public place (-17.3%, 95% CI -22.8, -11.8) and workplace exposure (-18.1%, 95% CI -24.9, -11.3). Exposures in vehicles and homes declined in almost all settings over time.
Conclusions
Implementation of a full smoking ban was associated with the largest decreases in secondhand smoke exposure while partial bans and changes in existing bans had inconsistent effects. In addition to decreasing exposure in public places as would be expected from legislation, bans may have additional benefits by decreasing rates of current smokers and decreasing exposures to secondhand smoke in private settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-146
PMCID: PMC3064640  PMID: 21371305

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