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1.  Discussing prognosis and end-of-life care in the final year of life: a randomised controlled trial of a nurse-led communication support programme for patients and caregivers 
BMJ Open  2014;4(6):e005745.
Introduction
Timely communication about life expectancy and end-of-life care is crucial for ensuring good patient quality-of-life at the end of life and a good quality of death. This article describes the protocol for a multisite randomised controlled trial of a nurse-led communication support programme to facilitate patients’ and caregivers’ efforts to communicate about these issues with their healthcare team.
Methods and analysis
This NHMRC-sponsored trial is being conducted at medical oncology clinics located at/affiliated with major teaching hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Patients with advanced, incurable cancer and life expectancy of less than 12 months will participate together with their primary informal caregiver where possible. Guided by the self-determination theory of health-behaviour change, the communication support programme pairs a purpose-designed Question Prompt List (QPL—an evidence-based list of questions patients/caregivers can ask clinicians) with nurse-led exploration of QPL content, communication challenges, patient values and concerns and the value of early discussion of end-of-life issues. Oncologists are also cued to endorse patient and caregiver question asking and use of the QPL. Behavioural and self-report data will be collected from patients/caregivers approximately quarterly for up to 2.5 years or until patient death, after which patient medical records will be examined. Analyses will examine the impact of the intervention on patients’ and caregivers’ participation in medical consultations, their self-efficacy in medical encounters, quality-of-life, end-of-life care receipt and quality-of-death indicators.
Ethics and dissemination
Approvals have been granted by the human ethics review committee of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and governance officers at each participating site. Results will be reported in peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.
Trial registration number
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12610000724077.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-005745
PMCID: PMC4078787  PMID: 24969786
Communication; Cancer; End-of-life care; Advance care planning; Question prompt list; Caregivers
2.  Social capital in a lower socioeconomic palliative care population: a qualitative investigation of individual, community and civic networks and relations 
BMC Palliative Care  2014;13:30.
Background
Lower socioeconomic populations live and die in contexts that render them vulnerable to poorer health and wellbeing. Contexts of care at the end of life are overwhelmingly determined by the capacity and nature of formal and informal networks and relations to support care. To date, studies exploring the nature of networks and relations of support in lower socioeconomic populations at the end of life are absent. This qualitative study sought to identify the nature of individual, community and civic networks and relations that defined the contexts of care for this group.
Methods
Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 16 patients and 6 informal carers who identified that they had social and economic needs and were from a lower socioeconomic area. A social capital questionnaire identifying individual, community and civic networks and relations formed the interview guide. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed and analysed using framework analysis.
Results
Participants identified that individual and community networks and relations of support were mainly inadequate to meet care needs. Specifically, data revealed: (1) individual (informal caregivers) networks and relations were small and fragile due to the nature of conflict and crisis; (2) community trust and engagement was limited and shifted by illness and caregiving; (3) and formal care services were inconsistent and provided limited practical support. Some transitions in community relations for support were noted. Levels of civic and government engagement and support were overall positive and enabled access to welfare resources.
Conclusion
Networks and relations of support are essential for ensuring quality end of life care is achieved. Lower socioeconomic groups are at a distinct disadvantage where these networks and relations are limited, as they lack the resources necessary to augment these gaps. Understanding of the nature of assets and limitations, in networks and relations of support, is necessary to inform interventions to improve end of life care for lower socioeconomic populations.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-13-30
PMCID: PMC4067081  PMID: 24959101
Palliative care; End of life care; Lower socioeconomic; Social capital; Networks and relations
3.  Making progress: the role of cancer councils in Australia in indigenous cancer control 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:347.
Background
Indigenous Australians have poorer outcomes from cancer for a variety of reasons including poorer participation in screening programs, later diagnosis, higher rates of cancer with poor prognosis and poorer uptake and completion of treatment. Cancer prevention and support for people with cancer is part of the core business of the State and Territory Cancer Councils. To support sharing of lessons learned, this paper reports an environmental scan undertaken in 2010 in cancer councils (CCs) nationwide that aimed to support Indigenous cancer control.
Methods
The methods replicated the approach used in a 2006 environmental scan of Indigenous related activity in CCs. The Chief Executive Officer of each CC nominated individuals for interview. Interviews explored staffing, projects, programs and activities to progress cancer control issues for Indigenous Australians, through phone or face-to-face interviews. Reported initiatives were tabulated using predetermined categories of activity and summaries were returned to interviewees, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Subcommittee and Chief Executive Officers for verification.
Results
All CCs participated and modest increases in activity had occurred in most states since 2006 through different means. Indigenous staff numbers were low and no Indigenous person had yet been employed in smaller CCs; no CC had an Indigenous Board member and efforts at capacity building were often directed outside of the organisation. Developing partnerships with Indigenous organisations were ongoing. Acknowledgement and specific mention of Indigenous people in policy was increasing. Momentum increased following the establishment of a national subcommittee which increased the profile of Indigenous issues and provided collegial and practical support for those committed to reducing Indigenous cancer disparities. Government funding of “Closing the Gap” and research in the larger CCs have been other avenues for increasing knowledge and activity in Indigenous cancer control.
Conclusions
This environmental scan measured progress, allowed sharing of information and provided critical assessment of progress across areas of importance for increasing Indigenous cancer control. Structured examination of policies, institutional support systems, programs and interventions is a useful means of highlighting opportunities for progress with minority groups relevant for many organisations. Progress has occurred with momentum likely to increase in the future and benefit from commitment to long-term monitoring and sharing of achievements.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-347
PMCID: PMC4004461  PMID: 24725974
Cancer; Aboriginal; Indigenous; Environmental scan; Delivery of health care/*organization & administration; Health services accessibility; Neoplasms/*prevention & control
4.  Elements of effective palliative care models: a rapid review 
Background
Population ageing, changes to the profiles of life-limiting illnesses and evolving societal attitudes prompt a critical evaluation of models of palliative care. We set out to identify evidence-based models of palliative care to inform policy reform in Australia.
Method
A rapid review of electronic databases and the grey literature was undertaken over an eight week period in April-June 2012. We included policy documents and comparative studies from countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published in English since 2001. Meta-analysis was planned where >1 study met criteria; otherwise, synthesis was narrative using methods described by Popay et al. (2006).
Results
Of 1,959 peer-reviewed articles, 23 reported systematic reviews, 9 additional RCTs and 34 non-randomised comparative studies. Variation in the content of models, contexts in which these were implemented and lack of detailed reporting meant that elements of models constituted a more meaningful unit of analysis than models themselves. Case management was the element most consistently reported in models for which comparative studies provided evidence for effectiveness. Essential attributes of population-based palliative care models identified by policy and addressed by more than one element were communication and coordination between providers (including primary care), skill enhancement, and capacity to respond rapidly to individuals’ changing needs and preferences over time.
Conclusion
Models of palliative care should integrate specialist expertise with primary and community care services and enable transitions across settings, including residential aged care. The increasing complexity of care needs, services, interventions and contextual drivers warrants future research aimed at elucidating the interactions between different components and the roles played by patient, provider and health system factors. The findings of this review are limited by its rapid methodology and focus on model elements relevant to Australia’s health system.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-136
PMCID: PMC3986907  PMID: 24670065
Palliative care; Models of care; Rapid review; Case management; Home based care; Nursing homes; Specialist palliative care; Acute care; Emergency departments
5.  The evolution of nursing in Australian general practice: a comparative analysis of workforce surveys ten years on 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:52.
Background
Nursing in Australian general practice has grown rapidly over the last decade in response to government initiatives to strengthen primary care. There are limited data about how this expansion has impacted on the nursing role, scope of practice and workforce characteristics. This study aimed to describe the current demographic and employment characteristics of Australian nurses working in general practice and explore trends in their role over time.
Methods
In the nascence of the expansion of the role of nurses in Australian general practice (2003–2004) a national survey was undertaken to describe nurse demographics, clinical roles and competencies. This survey was repeated in 2009–2010 and comparative analysis of the datasets undertaken to explore workforce changes over time.
Results
Two hundred eighty four nurses employed in general practice completed the first survey (2003/04) and 235 completed the second survey (2009/10). Significantly more participants in Study 2 were undertaking follow-up of pathology results, physical assessment and disease specific health education. There was also a statistically significant increase in the participants who felt that further education/training would augment their confidence in all clinical tasks (p < 0.001). Whilst the impact of legal implications as a barrier to the nurses’ role in general practice decreased between the two time points, more participants perceived lack of space, job descriptions, confidence to negotiate with general practitioners and personal desire to enhance their role as barriers. Access to education and training as a facilitator to nursing role expansion increased between the two studies. The level of optimism of participants for the future of the nurses’ role in general practice was slightly decreased over time.
Conclusions
This study has identified that some of the structural barriers to nursing in Australian general practice have been addressed over time. However, it also identifies continuing barriers that impact practice nurse role development. Understanding and addressing these issues is vital to optimise the effectiveness of the primary care nursing workforce.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-52
PMCID: PMC3987204  PMID: 24666420
Practice nurse; Nursing workforce; Survey; Office nurse; General practice; Primary care, Australia
6.  Management of intra-abdominal hypertension and abdominal compartment syndrome: a review 
Patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) are at risk of developing of intra abdominal hypertension (IAH) and abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS).
Aim: This review seeks to define IAH and ACS, identify the aetiology and presentation of IAH and ACS, identify IAP measurement techniques, identify current management and discuss the implications of IAH and ACS for nursing practice. A search of the electronic databases was supervised by a health librarian. The electronic data bases Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL); Medline, EMBASE, and the World Wide Web was undertaken from 1996- January 2011 using MeSH and key words which included but not limited to: abdominal compartment syndrome, intra -abdominal hypertension, intra-abdominal pressure in adult populations met the search criteria and were reviewed by three authors using a critical appraisal tool. Data derived from the retrieved material are discussed under the following themes: (1) etiology of intra-abdominal hypertension; (2) strategies for measuring intra-abdominal pressure (3) the manifestation of abdominal compartment syndrome; and (4) the importance of nursing assessment, observation and interventions. Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) and abdominal compartment syndrome (ACS) have the potential to alter organ perfusion and compromise organ function.
doi:10.1186/1752-2897-8-2
PMCID: PMC3925290  PMID: 24499574
Intra-abdominal pressure; Intra-abdominal hypertension; Abdominal compartment syndrome; Abdominal perfusion pressure
7.  Rating and Ranking the Role of Bibliometrics and Webometrics in Nursing and Midwifery 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:135812.
Background. Bibliometrics are an essential aspect of measuring academic and organizational performance. Aim. This review seeks to describe methods for measuring bibliometrics, identify the strengths and limitations of methodologies, outline strategies for interpretation, summarise evaluation of nursing and midwifery performance, identify implications for metric of evaluation, and specify the implications for nursing and midwifery and implications of social networking for bibliometrics and measures of individual performance. Method. A review of electronic databases CINAHL, Medline, and Scopus was undertaken using search terms such as bibliometrics, nursing, and midwifery. The reference lists of retrieved articles and Internet sources and social media platforms were also examined. Results. A number of well-established, formal ways of assessment have been identified, including h- and c-indices. Changes in publication practices and the use of the Internet have challenged traditional metrics of influence. Moreover, measuring impact beyond citation metrics is an increasing focus, with social media representing newer ways of establishing performance and impact. Conclusions. Even though a number of measures exist, no single bibliometric measure is perfect. Therefore, multiple approaches to evaluation are recommended. However, bibliometric approaches should not be the only measures upon which academic and scholarly performance are evaluated.
doi:10.1155/2014/135812
PMCID: PMC3914409  PMID: 24550691
8.  The caregiving perspective in heart failure: a population based study 
Background
Heart failure (HF) is a frequent condition in the elderly and mortality is high. This study sought to describe the profile of those providing care in the community and their needs.
Methods
The South Australian Health Omnibus is an annual, random, face-to-face, cross sectional survey conducted within the state. Having standardized data to the whole population, the study describes the subset of the population who identify that they actively cared for someone at the end of life with HF in the five years before survey administration.
Results
Three hundred and seventy three respondents (2.0% of the whole population; 4.9% of caregivers) reported being a caregiver of someone with HF. There were 84 active caregivers (day-to-day or intermittent hands on caregivers) for people with HF. Mean age for caregivers for those with HF was much higher than other caregivers (55.7 vs 49.4; p < 0.001) with care lasting for an average of 48.9 months (SD 66.2). People caring for those with HF were far less likely to access specialist palliative care services (38.1% vs 60.9%; p < 0.0001) despite having much greater levels of unmet needs for physical care 28.3% vs 14.1%; p = 0.008).
Conclusion
Study findings suggest that there is a significant burden placed on caregivers for people with HF over extended periods in the community. There are differences in access to services for these caregivers compared to those dying from other conditions, particularly cancer.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-342
PMCID: PMC3847156  PMID: 24004964
Heart failure; Caregivers; Australia
9.  Assays to measure nuclear mechanics in interphase cells 
The nucleus is the characteristic hallmark of all eukaryotic cells. The physical properties of the nucleus reflect important biological characteristics, such as chromatin organization or nuclear envelope composition; they can also directly affect cellular function, for example, when cells pass through narrow constrictions, where the stiff nucleus may present a limiting factor. We present two complementary techniques to probe the mechanical properties of the nucleus. In the first, nuclear stiffness relative to the surrounding cytoskeleton is inferred from induced nuclear deformations during strain application to cells on an elastic substrate. In the second approach, nuclear deformability is deduced from the transit time through a perfusion-based microfabricated device with constrictions smaller than the size of the nucleus. These complementary methods, which can be applied to measure nuclear stiffness in large numbers of living adherent or suspended cells, can help identify important changes in nuclear mechanics associated with disease or development.
doi:10.1002/0471143030.cb2216s56
PMCID: PMC3605726  PMID: 22968843
Nucleus; microfluidics; cell/nuclear mechanics; deformation
10.  ‘Doing the hard yards’: carer and provider focus group perspectives of accessing Aboriginal childhood disability services 
Background
Despite a high prevalence of disability, Aboriginal Australians access disability services in Australia less than non-Aboriginal Australians with a disability. The needs of Aboriginal children with disability are particularly poorly understood. They can endure long delays in treatment which can impact adversely on development. This study sought to ascertain the factors involved in accessing services and support for Aboriginal children with a disability.
Methods
Using the focus group method, two community forums, one for health and service providers and one for carers of Aboriginal children with a disability, were held at an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) in the Sydney, metropolitan area of New South Wales, Australia. Framework analysis was applied to qualitative data to elucidate key issues relevant to the dimensions of access framework. Independent coding consistency checks were performed and consensus of analysis verified by the entire research team, several of whom represented the local Aboriginal community.
Results
Seventeen health and social service providers representing local area government and non-government-funded health and social service organisations and five carers participated in two separate forums between September and October 2011. Lack of awareness of services and inadequate availability were prominent concerns in both groups despite geographic proximity to a major metropolitan area with significant health infrastructure. Carers noted racism, insufficient or non-existent services, and the need for an enhanced role of ACCHSs and AHWs in disability support services. Providers highlighted logistical barriers and cultural and historical issues that impacted on the effectiveness of mainstream services for Aboriginal people.
Conclusions
Despite dedicated disability services in an urban community, geographic proximity does not mitigate lack of awareness and availability of support. This paper has enumerated a number of considerations to address provision of disability services in an urban Australian Aboriginal community including building expertise and specialist capacity within Aboriginal Health Worker positions and services.
Increasing awareness of services, facilitating linkages and referrals, eliminating complexities to accessing support, and working with families and Aboriginal community organisations within a framework of resilience and empowerment to ensure a relevant and acceptable model are necessary steps to improving support and care for Aboriginal children with a disability.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-326
PMCID: PMC3765087  PMID: 23958272
Childhood disability; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; Early intervention; Focus groups
11.  Barriers and facilitators to self-care in chronic heart failure: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies 
SpringerPlus  2013;2:320.
Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a costly condition that places large demands on self-care. Failure to adhere with self-care recommendations is common and associated with frequent hospitalization. Understanding the factors that enable or inhibit self-care is essential in developing effective health care interventions. This qualitative review was conducted to address the research question, "What are the barriers and facilitators to self-care among patients with CHF?” Electronic databases including Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus and Google scholar were searched. Articles were included if they were peer reviewed (1995 to 2012), in English language and investigated at least one contextual or individual factor impacting on self-care in CHF patients > 18years. The criteria defined by Kuper et al. including clarity and appropriateness of sampling, data collection and data analysis were used to appraise the quality of articles. Twenty-three articles met the inclusion criteria. Factors impacting on self-care were included factors related to symptoms of CHF and the self-care process; factors related to personal characteristics; and factors related to environment and self-care system. Important factors such as socioeconomic situation and education level have not been explored extensively and there were minimal data on the influence of age, gender, self-confidence and duration of disease. Although there is an emerging literature, further research is required to address the barriers and facilitators to self-care in patients with CHF in order to provide an appropriate guide for intervention strategies to improve self-care in CHF.
doi:10.1186/2193-1801-2-320
PMCID: PMC3727080  PMID: 23961394
Congestive heart failure; CHF; Self-management; Treatment adherence; Compliance; Self-care determinants; Qualitative review
12.  The Health of Women and Girls Determines the Health and Well-Being of Our Modern World: A White Paper From the International Council on Women’s Health Issues 
Health care for women international  2011;32(10):870-886.
The International Council on Women’s Health Issues (ICOWHI) is an international nonprofit association dedicated to the goal of promoting health, health care, and well-being of women and girls throughout the world through participation, empowerment, advocacy, education, and research. We are a multidisciplinary network of women’s health providers, planners, and advocates from all over the globe. We constitute an international professional and lay network of those committed to improving women and girl’s health and quality of life. This document provides a description of our organization mission, vision, and commitment to improving the health and well-being of women and girls globally.
doi:10.1080/07399332.2011.603872
PMCID: PMC3703826  PMID: 21919625
14.  In pursuit of certainty: can the systematic review process deliver? 
Background
There has been increasing emphasis on evidence-based approaches to improve patient outcomes through rigorous, standardised and well-validated approaches. Clinical guidelines drive this process and are largely developed based on the findings of systematic reviews (SRs). This paper presents a discussion of the SR process in providing decisive information to shape and guide clinical practice, using a purpose-built review database: the Cochrane reviews; and focussing on a highly prevalent medical condition: hypertension.
Methods
We searched the Cochrane database and identified 25 relevant SRs incorporating 443 clinical trials. Reviews with the terms ‘blood pressure’ or ‘hypertension’ in the title were included. Once selected for inclusion, the abstracts were assessed independently by two authors for their capacity to inform and influence clinical decision-making. The inclusions were independently audited by a third author.
Results
Of the 25 SRs that formed the sample, 12 provided conclusive findings to inform a particular treatment pathway. The evidence-based approaches offer the promise of assisting clinical decision-making through clarity, but in the case of management of blood pressure, half of the SRs in our sample highlight gaps in evidence and methodological limitations. Thirteen reviews were inconclusive, and eight, including four of the 12 conclusive SRs, noted the lack of adequate reporting of potential adverse effects or incidence of harm.
Conclusions
These findings emphasise the importance of distillation, interpretation and synthesis of information to assist clinicians. This study questions the utility of evidence-based approaches as a uni-dimensional approach to improving clinical care and underscores the importance of standardised approaches to include adverse events, incidence of harm, patient’s needs and preferences and clinician’s expertise and discretion.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-13-25
PMCID: PMC3586345  PMID: 23425307
Systematic review; Research-in-practice; Research implementation; Translational research; Evidence-based practice; Clinical decision-making
15.  Atrial fibrillation and thromboprophylaxis in heart failure: the need for patient-centered approaches to address adherence 
Atrial fibrillation is a common arrhythmia in heart failure and a risk factor for stroke. Risk assessment tools can assist clinicians with decision making in the allocation of thromboprophylaxis. This review provides an overview of current validated risk assessment tools for atrial fibrillation and emphasizes the importance of tailoring individual risk and the importance of weighing the benefits of treatment. Further, this review provides details of innovative and patient-centered methods for ensuring optimal adherence to prescribed therapy. Prior to initiating oral anticoagulant therapy, a comprehensive risk assessment should include evaluation of associated cardiogeriatric conditions, potential for adherence to prescribed therapy, frailty, and functional and cognitive ability.
doi:10.2147/VHRM.S39571
PMCID: PMC3551455  PMID: 23345982
stroke risk; heart failure; atrial fibrillation; anticoagulation; risk stratification; medication adherence
16.  Heart failure among Indigenous Australians: a systematic review 
Background
Cardiovascular diseases contribute substantially to the poor health and reduced life expectancy of Indigenous Australians. Heart failure is a common, disabling, progressive and costly complication of these disorders. The epidemiology of heart failure and the adequacy of relevant health service provision in Indigenous Australians are not well delineated.
Methods
A systematic search of the electronic databases PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, Cinahl Plus, Informit and Google Scholar was undertaken in April 2012 for peer-reviewed journal articles relevant to the topic of heart failure in Indigenous Australians. Additionally, a website search was done to identify other pertinent publications, particularly government reports.
Results
There was a paucity of relevant peer-reviewed research, and government reports dominated the results. Ten journal articles, 1 published conference abstract and 10 reports were eligible for inclusion. Indigenous Australians reportedly have higher morbidity and mortality from heart failure than their non-Indigenous counterparts (age-standardised prevalence ratio 1.7; age-standardised hospital separation ratio ≥3; crude per capita hospital expenditure ratio 1.58; age-adjusted mortality ratio >2). Despite the evident disproportionate burden of heart failure in Indigenous Australians, the accuracy of estimation from administrative data is limited by poor indigenous identification, inadequate case ascertainment and exclusion of younger subjects from mortality statistics. A recent journal article specifically documented a high prevalence of heart failure in Central Australian Aboriginal adults (5.3%), noting frequent undiagnosed disease. One study examined barriers to health service provision for Indigenous Australians in the context of heart failure.
Conclusions
Despite the shortcomings of available published data, it is clear that Indigenous Australians have an excess burden of heart failure. Emerging data suggest that undiagnosed cases may be common in this population. In order to optimise management and to inform policy, high quality research on heart failure in Indigenous Australians is required to delineate accurate epidemiological indicators and to appraise health service provision.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-99
PMCID: PMC3521206  PMID: 23116367
Heart failure; Australia; Indigenous; Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Cardiac failure; Cardiovascular; Heart disease
17.  Developing Targeted Health Service Interventions Using the PRECEDE-PROCEED Model: Two Australian Case Studies 
Nursing Research and Practice  2012;2012:279431.
Aims and Objectives. This paper provides an overview of the applicability of the PRECEDE-PROCEED Model to the development of targeted nursing led chronic illness interventions. Background. Changing health care practice is a complex and dynamic process that requires consideration of social, political, economic, and organisational factors. An understanding of the characteristics of the target population, health professionals, and organizations plus identification of the determinants for change are also required. Synthesizing this data to guide the development of an effective intervention is a challenging process. The PRECEDE-PROCEED Model has been used in global health care settings to guide the identification, planning, implementation, and evaluation of various health improvement initiatives. Design. Using a reflective case study approach, this paper examines the applicability of the PRECEDE-PROCEED Model to the development of targeted chronic care improvement interventions for two distinct Australian populations: a rapidly expanding and aging rural population with unmet palliative care needs and a disadvantaged urban community at higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Results. The PRECEDE-PROCEED Model approach demonstrated utility across diverse health settings in a systematic planning process. In environments characterized by increasing health care needs, limited resources, and growing community expectations, adopting planning tools such as PRECEDE-PROCEED Model at a local level can facilitate the development of the most effective interventions. Relevance to Clinical Practice. The PRECEDE-PROCEED Model is a strong theoretical model that guides the development of realistic nursing led interventions with the best chance of being successful in existing health care environments.
doi:10.1155/2012/279431
PMCID: PMC3407641  PMID: 22852076
18.  An online survey of Australian physicians reported practice with the off-label use of nebulised frusemide 
BMC Palliative Care  2012;11:6.
Background
Off-label prescribing is common in palliative care. Despite inconsistent reports of the benefit of nebulised frusemide for breathlessness, its use continues to be reported.
Methods
An online survey was emailed to 249 members of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine to estimate the use of nebulised frusemide for breathlessness by Australian physicians involved in palliative care in the previous 12 months.
Results
There were 52/249 (21%) respondents to the survey. The majority (44/52; 85%) had not prescribed nebulised frusemide in the previous 12 months. The most common (18/44; 43%) reason for not prescribing nebulised frusemide was a belief that there was not enough evidence to support its use. Whilst only a few respondents (8/52; 15%) reported having used nebulised frusemide, all that had used it thought there was at least some benefit in relieving breathlessness.
Conclusion
This report adds to the series of case studies reporting some benefit from nebulised frusemide in relieving breathlessnes.
doi:10.1186/1472-684X-11-6
PMCID: PMC3422185  PMID: 22546176
Nebulised frusemide; Online survey; Off-label use
19.  Home medicines reviews following acute coronary syndrome: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:30.
Background
Despite continual improvements in the management of acute coronary syndromes, adherence to guideline-based medications remains suboptimal. We aim to improve adherence with guideline-based therapy following acute coronary syndrome using an existing service that is provided by specifically trained pharmacists, called a Home Medicines Review. We have made two minor adjustments to target the focus of the existing service including an acute coronary syndrome specific referral letter and a training package for the pharmacists providing the service.
Methods/Design
We will be conducting a randomized controlled trial to compare the directed home medicines review service to usual care following acute coronary syndromes. All patients aged 18 to 80 years and with a working diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome, who are admitted to two public, acute care hospitals, will be screened for enrolment into the trial. Exclusion criteria will include: not being discharged home, documented cognitive decline, non-Medicare eligibility, and presence of a terminal malignancy. Randomization concealment and sequence generation will occur through a centrally-monitored computer program. Patients randomized to the control group will receive usual post-discharge care. Patients randomized to receive the intervention will be offered usual post-discharge care and a directed home medicines review at two months post-discharge. The study endpoints will be six and twelve months post-discharge. The primary outcome will be the proportion of patients who are adherent to a complete, guideline-based medication regimen. Secondary outcomes will include hospital readmission rates, length of hospital stays, changes in quality of life, smoking cessation rates, cardiac rehabilitation completion rates, and mortality.
Discussion
As the trial is closely based on an existing service, any improvements observed should be highly translatable into regular practice. Possible limitations to the success of the trial intervention include general practitioner approval of the intervention, general practitioner acceptance of pharmacists' recommendations, and pharmacists' ability to make appropriate recommendations. A detailed monitoring process will detect any barriers to the success of the trial. Given that poor medication persistence following acute coronary syndrome is a worldwide problem, the findings of our study may have international implications for the care of this patient group.
Trial registration
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000452998
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-13-30
PMCID: PMC3349589  PMID: 22463733
Acute coronary syndrome; Home medicines review; Medication adherence
20.  Caring for Others, but Not Themselves: Implications for Health Care Interventions in Women with Cardiovascular Disease 
Nursing Research and Practice  2011;2011:376020.
Cardiovascular disease is the largest killer of women internationally and women often suffer inferior outcomes following an acute cardiac event as compared to men. A gendered approach to investigating cardiovascular disease in women incorporates the unique social, cultural, and economic circumstances that being a woman brings to the health encounter. The multiple roles enacted by many women may be important factors in this health discrepancy. In order to more fully understand the impact of the roles of women on health, a questionnaire was administered to participants of the Heart Awareness for Women group cardiac rehabilitation program which assessed women's role perceptions followed by discussions. We found that caregiving can be both positive and negative. It gives a sense of purpose, meaning, and community connection as well as burden and conflict. Emphasis must be placed on promoting strategies in women to achieve a balance between caregiving responsibilities and prioritisation of cardiovascular health.
doi:10.1155/2011/376020
PMCID: PMC3169919  PMID: 21994825
21.  Not just bricks and mortar: planning hospital cancer services for Aboriginal people 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:62.
Background
Aboriginal people in Australia experience higher mortality from cancer compared with non-Aboriginal Australians, despite an overall lower incidence. A notable contributor to this disparity is that many Aboriginal people do not take up or continue with cancer treatment which almost always occurs within major hospitals.
Thirty in-depth interviews with urban, rural and remote Aboriginal people affected by cancer were conducted between March 2006 and September 2007. Interviews explored participants' beliefs about cancer and experiences of cancer care and were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded independently by two researchers. NVivo7 software was used to assist data management and analysis. Information from interviews relevant to hospital services including and building design was extracted.
Findings
Relationships and respect emerged as crucial considerations of participants although many aspects of the hospital environment were seen as influencing the delivery of care. Five themes describing concerns about the hospital environment emerged: (i) being alone and lost in a big, alien and inflexible system; (ii) failure of open communication, delays and inefficiency in the system; (iii) practicalities: costs, transportation, community and family responsibilities; (iv) the need for Aboriginal support persons; and (v) connection to the community.
Conclusions
Design considerations and were identified but more important than the building itself was the critical need to build trust in health services. Promotion of cultural safety, support for Aboriginal family structures and respecting the importance of place and community to Aboriginal patients are crucial in improving cancer outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-62
PMCID: PMC3068108  PMID: 21401923
22.  Smoking Cessation in Indigenous Populations of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States: Elements of Effective Interventions 
Indigenous people throughout the world suffer a higher burden of disease than their non-indigenous counterparts contributing to disproportionate rates of disability. A significant proportion of this disability can be attributed to the adverse effects of smoking. In this paper, we aimed to identify and discuss the key elements of individual-level smoking cessation interventions in indigenous people worldwide. An integrative review of published peer-reviewed literature was conducted. Literature on smoking cessation interventions in indigenous people was identified via search of electronic databases. Documents were selected for review if they were published in a peer-reviewed journal, written in English, published from 1990–2010, and documented an individual-level intervention to assist indigenous people to quit smoking. Studies that met inclusion criteria were limited to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA, despite seeking representation from other indigenous populations. Few interventions tailored for indigenous populations were identified and the level of detail included in evaluation reports was variable. Features associated with successful interventions were integrated, flexible, community-based approaches that addressed known barriers and facilitators to quitting smoking. More tailored and targeted approaches to smoking cessation interventions for indigenous populations are required. The complexity of achieving smoking cessation is underscored as is the need to collaboratively develop interventions that are acceptable and appropriate to local populations.
doi:10.3390/ijerph8020388
PMCID: PMC3084468  PMID: 21556193
tobacco; smoking cessation; indigenous; interventions
23.  Development of a heart failure filter for Medline: an objective approach using evidence-based clinical practice guidelines as an alternative to hand searching 
Background
Heart failure is a highly debilitating syndrome with a poor prognosis primarily affecting the elderly. Clinicians wanting timely access to heart failure evidence to provide optimal patient care can face many challenges in locating this evidence.
This study developed and validated a search filter of high clinical utility for the retrieval of heart failure articles in OvidSP Medline.
Methods
A Clinical Advisory Group was established to advise study investigators. The study set of 876 relevant articles from four heart failure clinical practice guidelines was divided into three datasets: a Term Identification Set, a Filter Development Set, and a Filter Validation Set. A further validation set (the Cochrane Validation Set) was formed using studies included in Cochrane heart failure systematic reviews. Candidate search terms were identified via word frequency analysis. The filter was developed by creating combinations of terms and recording their performance in retrieving items from the Filter Development Set. The filter's recall was then validated in both the Filter Validation Set and the Cochrane Validation Set. A precision estimate was obtained post-hoc by running the filter in Medline and screening the first 200 retrievals for relevance to heart failure.
Results
The four-term filter achieved a recall of 96.9% in the Filter Development Set; 98.2% in the Filter Validation Set; and 97.8% in the Cochrane Validation Set. Of the first 200 references retrieved by the filter when run in Medline, 150 were deemed relevant and 50 irrelevant. The post-hoc precision estimate was therefore 75%.
Conclusions
This study describes an objective method for developing a validated heart failure filter of high recall performance and then testing its precision post-hoc. Clinical practice guidelines were found to be a feasible alternative to hand searching in creating a gold standard for filter development. Guidelines may be especially appropriate given their clinical utility. A validated heart failure filter is now available to support health professionals seeking reliable and efficient access to the heart failure literature.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-12
PMCID: PMC3037346  PMID: 21272371
24.  Randomised controlled trial of ultrasonography in diagnosis of acute appendicitis, incorporating the Alvarado score 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2000;321(7266):919.
Objectives
To determine whether diagnosis by graded compression ultrasonography improves clinical outcomes for patients with suspected appendicitis.
Design
A randomised controlled trial comparing clinical diagnosis (control) with a diagnostic protocol incorporating ultrasonography and the Alvarado score (intervention group).
Setting
Single tertiary referral centre.
Participants
302 patients (age 5-82 years) referred to the surgical service with suspected appendicitis. 160 patients were randomised to the intervention group, of whom 129 underwent ultrasonography. Ultrasonography was omitted for patients with extreme Alvarado scores (1-3, 9, or 10) unless requested by the admitting surgical team.
Main outcome measures
Time to operation, duration of hospital stay, and adverse outcomes, including non-therapeutic operations and delayed treatment in association with perforation.
Results
Sensitivity and specificity of ultrasonography were measured at 94.7% and 88.9%, respectively. Patients in the intervention group who underwent therapeutic operation had a significantly shorter mean time to operation than patients in the control group (7.0 v 10.2 hours, P=0.016). There were no differences between groups in mean duration of hospital stay (53.4 v 54.5 hours, P=0.84), proportion of patients undergoing a non-therapeutic operation (9% v 11%, P=0.59) or delayed treatment in association with perforation (3% v 1%, P=0.45).
Conclusion
Graded compression ultrasonography is an accurate procedure that leads to the prompt diagnosis and early treatment of many cases of appendicitis, although it does not prevent adverse outcomes or reduce length of hospital stay.
PMCID: PMC27498  PMID: 11030676
25.  Patient Preferences and Willingness-To-Pay for a Home or Clinic Based Program of Chronic Heart Failure Management: Findings from the Which? Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58347.
Background
Beyond examining their overall cost-effectiveness and mechanisms of effect, it is important to understand patient preferences for the delivery of different modes of chronic heart failure management programs (CHF-MPs). We elicited patient preferences around the characteristics and willingness-to-pay (WTP) for a clinic or home-based CHF-MP.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A Discrete Choice Experiment was completed by a sub-set of patients (n = 91) enrolled in the WHICH? trial comparing home versus clinic-based CHF-MP. Participants provided 5 choices between hypothetical clinic and home-based programs varying by frequency of nurse consultations, nurse continuity, patient costs, and availability of telephone or education support. Participants (aged 71±13 yrs, 72.5% male, 25.3% NYHA class III/IV) displayed two distinct preference classes. A latent class model of the choice data indicated 56% of participants preferred clinic delivery, access to group CHF education classes, and lower cost programs (p<0.05). The remainder preferred home-based CHF-MPs, monthly rather than weekly visits, and access to a phone advice service (p<0.05). Continuity of nurse contact was consistently important. No significant association was observed between program preference and participant allocation in the parent trial. WTP was estimated from the model and a dichotomous bidding technique. For those preferring clinic, estimated WTP was ≈AU$9-20 per visit; however for those preferring home-based programs, WTP varied widely (AU$15-105).
Conclusions/Significance
Patient preferences for CHF-MPs were dichotomised between a home-based model which is more likely to suit older patients, those who live alone, and those with a lower household income; and a clinic-based model which is more likely to suit those who are more socially active and wealthier. To optimise the delivery of CHF-MPs, health care services should consider their patients’ preferences when designing CHF-MPs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058347
PMCID: PMC3591337  PMID: 23505491

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