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1.  Feather bedding and childhood asthma associated with house dust mite sensitisation: a randomised controlled trial 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  2011;96(6):541-547.
Introduction
Observational studies report inverse associations between the use of feather upper bedding (pillow and/or quilt) and asthma symptoms but there is no randomised controlled trial (RCT) evidence assessing the role of feather upper bedding as a secondary prevention measure.
Objective
To determine whether, among children not using feather upper bedding, a new feather pillow and feather quilt reduces asthma severity among house dust mite (HDM) sensitised children with asthma over a 1-year period compared with standard dust mite avoidance advice, and giving children a new mite-occlusive mattress cover.
Design
RCT.
Setting
The Calvary Hospital in the Australian Capital Territory and the Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales.
Patients
197 children with HDM sensitisation and moderate to severe asthma.
Intervention
New upper bedding duck feather pillow and quilt and a mite-occlusive mattress cover (feather) versus standard care and a mite-occlusive mattress cover (standard).
Main outcome measures
The proportion of children reporting four or more episodes of wheeze in the past year; an episode of speech-limiting wheeze; or one or more episodes of sleep disturbance caused by wheezing; and spirometry with challenge testing. Statistical analysis included multiple logistic and linear regression.
Results
No differences between groups were found for primary end points – frequent wheeze (OR 1.51, 95% CI 0.83 to 2.76, p=0.17), speech-limiting wheeze (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.32 to 1.48, p=0.35), sleep disturbed because of wheezing (OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.64 to 2.13, p=0.61) or for any secondary end points. Secondary analyses indicated the intervention reduced the risk of sleep being disturbed because of wheezing and severe wheeze to a greater extent for children who slept supine.
Conclusion
No differences in respiratory symptoms or lung function were observed 1 year after children with moderate–severe asthma and HDM sensitisation were given a mite-occlusive mattress cover and then received either feather upper bedding (pillow and quilt) or standard bedding care.
doi:10.1136/adc.2010.189696
PMCID: PMC3093241  PMID: 21451166
2.  Policy options to improve leadership of middle managers in the Australian residential aged care setting: a narrative synthesis 
Background
The prevalence of both chronic diseases and multi-morbidity increases with longer life spans. As Australia's population ages, the aged care sector is under increasing pressure to ensure that quality aged care is available. Key to responding to this pressure is leadership and management capability within the aged care workforce. A systematic literature review was conducted to inform the policy development necessary for the enhancement of clinical and managerial leadership skills of middle managers within residential aged care.
Methods
Using scientific journal databases, hand searching of specialist journals, Google, snowballing and suggestions from experts, 4,484 papers were found. After a seven-tiered culling process, we conducted a detailed review (narrative synthesis) of 153 papers relevant to leadership and management development in aged care, incorporating expert and key stakeholder consultations.
Results
• Positive staff experiences of a manager's leadership are critical to ensure job satisfaction and workforce retention, the provision of quality care and the well-being of care recipients, and potentially a reduction of associated costs.
• The essential attributes of good leadership for aged care middle management are a hands-on accessibility and professional expertise in nurturing respect, recognition and team building, along with effective communication and flexibility. However, successful leadership and management outcomes depend on coherent and good organisational leadership (structural and psychological empowerment).
• There is inadequate preparation for middle management leadership roles in the aged care sector and a lack of clear guidelines and key performance indicators to assess leadership and management skills.
• Theory development in aged care leadership and management research is limited. A few effective generic clinical leadership programs targeting both clinical and managerial leaders exist. However, little is known regarding how appropriate and effective they are for the aged care sector.
Conclusions
There is an urgent need for a national strategy that promotes a common approach to aged care leadership and management development, one that is sector-appropriate and congruent with the philosophy of person-centred care now predominant in the sector. The onus is on aged care industries as a whole and various levels of Government to make a concerted effort to establish relevant regulation, legislation and funding.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-190
PMCID: PMC2910696  PMID: 20602798
3.  The experience of living with chronic heart failure: a narrative review of qualitative studies 
Background
Chronic heart failure (CHF) is the leading cause of all hospitalisations and readmissions in older people, accounting for a large proportion of developed countries' national health care expenditure. CHF can severely affect people's quality of life by reducing their independence and ability to undertake certain activities of daily living, as well as affecting their psychosocial and economic capacity. This paper reports the findings of a systematic narrative review of qualitative studies concerning people's experience of living with CHF, aiming to develop a wide-ranging understanding of what is known about the patient experience.
Methods
We searched eight relevant electronic databases using the terms based on the diagnosis of 'chronic heart failure', 'heart failure' and 'congestive heart failure' and qualitative methods, with restrictions to the years 1990-May 2008. We also used snowballing, hand searching and the expert knowledge of the research team to ensure all relevant papers were included in the review. Of 65 papers collected less than half (n = 30) were found relevant for this review. These papers were subsequently summarised and entered into QSR NVivo7 for data management and analysis.
Results
The review has identified the most prominent impacts of CHF on a person's everyday life including social isolation, living in fear and losing a sense of control. It has also identified common strategies through which patients with CHF manage their illness such as sharing experiences and burdens with others and being flexible to changing circumstances.
Finally, there are multiple factors that commonly impact on patients' self care and self-management in the disease trajectory including knowledge, understanding and health service encounters. These health service encounters encompass access, continuity and quality of care, co-morbid conditions, and personal relationships.
Conclusions
The core and sub-concepts identified within this study provide health professionals, service providers, policy makers and educators with broad insights into common elements of people's experiences of CHF and potential options for improving their health and wellbeing. Future studies should focus on building a comprehensive picture of CHF through examination of differences between genders, and differences within age groups, socioeconomic groups and cultural groups.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-77
PMCID: PMC2851714  PMID: 20331904
4.  Challenges for co-morbid chronic illness care and policy in Australia: a qualitative study 
Background
In response to the escalating burden of chronic illness in Australia, recent health policies have emphasised the promotion of patient self-management and better preventive care. A notable omission from these policies is the acknowledgment that patients with chronic illness tend to have co-morbid conditions. Our objectives were: to identify the common challenges co-morbidity poses to patients and carers in their experiences of self-management; to detail the views and perceptions of health professionals about these challenges; and to discuss policy options to improve health care for people with co-morbid chronic illness. The method included semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 129 purposively sampled participants. Participants were people with Type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or chronic heart failure as well as carers and health care professionals. Content analysis of the interview data was conducted using NVivo7 software.
Results
Patients and their carers found co-morbidity influenced their capacity to manage chronic illness in three ways. First, co-morbidity created barriers to patients acting on risk factors; second, it complicated the process of recognising the early symptoms of deterioration of each condition, and third, it complicated their capacity to manage medication.
Conclusion
Findings highlight challenges that patients with multiple chronic conditions face in relation to preventive care and self-management. Future clinical policy initiatives need to move away from single illness orientation toward strategies that meet the needs of people with co-morbid conditions and strengthen their capacity to self-manage. These patients will benefit directly from specialised education and services that cater to the needs of people with clusters of co-morbidities.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-6-22
PMCID: PMC2745419  PMID: 19735576
5.  Proactive asthma care in childhood: general practice based randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2003;327(7416):659.
Objectives To assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a general practice based, proactive system of asthma care in children.
Design Randomised controlled trial with cluster sampling by general practice.
Setting General practices in the northern region of the Australian Capital Territory.
Participants 174 children with moderate to severe asthma who attended 24 general practitioners.
Intervention System of structured asthma care (the 3+ visit plan), with participating families reminded to attend the general practitioner.
Main outcome measures Process measures: rates for asthma consultations with general practitioner, written asthma plans, completion of the 3+ visit plan; clinical measures: rates for emergency department visits for asthma, days absent from school, symptom-free days, symptoms over the past year, activity limitation over the past year, and asthma drug use over the past year; spirometric lung function measures before and after cold air challenge.
Results Intervention group children had significantly more asthma related consultations (odds ratio for three or more asthma related consultations 3.8 (95% confidence interval 1.9 to 7.6; P = 0.0001), written asthma plans (2.2 (1.2 to 4.1); P = 0.01), and completed 3+ visit plans (24.2 (5.7 to 103.2); P = 0.0001) than control children and a mean reduction in measurements of forced expiratory volume in one second after cold air challenge of 2.6% (1.7 to 3.5); P = 0.0001) less than control children. The number needed to treat (benefit) for one additional written asthma action plan was 5 (3 to 41) children. Intervention group children had lower emergency department attendance rates for asthma (odds ratio 0.4 (0.2 to 1.04); P = 0.06) and less speech limiting wheeze (0.2 (0.1 to 0.4); P = 0.0001) than control children and were more likely to use a spacer (2.8 (1.6 to 4.7); P = 0.0001). No differences occurred in number of days absent from school or symptom-free day scores.
Conclusions Proactive care with active recall for children with moderate to severe asthma is feasible in general practice and seems to be beneficial.
PMCID: PMC196449  PMID: 14500440

Results 1-5 (5)