General practitioners (GPs) in Australia play a central role in the delivery of mental health care. This article describes the PULSAR (Principles Unite Local Services Assisting Recovery) Primary Care protocol, a novel mixed methods evaluation of a training intervention for GPs in recovery-oriented practice. The aim of the intervention is to optimize personal recovery in patients consulting study GPs for mental health issues.
The intervention mixed methods design involves a stepped-wedge cluster randomized controlled trial testing the outcomes of training in recovery-oriented practice, together with an embedded qualitative study to identify the contextual enablers and challenges to implementing recovery-oriented practice. The project is conducted in Victoria, Australia between 2013 and 2017. Eighteen general practices and community health centers are randomly allocated to one of two steps (nine months apart) to start an intervention comprising GP training in the delivery of recovery-oriented practice. Data collection consists of cross-sectional surveys collected from patients of participating GPs at baseline, and again at the end of Steps 1 and 2. The primary outcome is improvement in personal recovery using responses to the Questionnaire about the Process of Recovery. Secondary outcomes are improvements in patient-rated measures of personal recovery and wellbeing, and of the recovery-oriented practice they have received, using the INSPIRE questionnaire, the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, and the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. Participant data will be analyzed in the group that the cluster was assigned to at each study time point. Another per-protocol dataset will contain all data time-stamped according to the date of intervention received at each cluster site. Qualitative interviews with GPs and patients at three and nine months post-training will investigate experiences and challenges related to implementing recovery-oriented practice in primary care.
Recovery-oriented practice is gaining increasing prominence in mental health service delivery and the outcomes of such an approach within the primary care sector for the first time will be evaluated in this project. If findings are positive, the intervention has the potential to extend recovery-oriented practice to GPs throughout the community.
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (ACTRN12614001312639). Registered: 8 August 2014.
Recovery; Recovery-oriented Practice; Primary Care; General Practitioners; Mental Health; Psychiatry; Training; Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT); Complex Intervention
People living with diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) experience compromised quality of life. Consequently, it is critical to identify and understand factors influencing their health-related quality of life (HRQoL). This study examined factors associated with HRQoL among patients with diabetes and CKD.
A cross sectional study among adults with comorbid diabetes and CKD (eGFR <60 mL/min/1.73m2) recruited from renal and diabetes clinics of four large tertiary referral hospitals in Australia was performed. Each participant completed the Kidney Disease Quality of Life (KDQoL ™ -36) questionnaire, which is comprised of two composite measures of physical and mental health and 3 kidney disease specific subscales with possible scores ranging from 0 to 100 with higher values indicating better HRQoL. Demographic and clinical data were also collected. Regression analyses were performed to determine the relationship between HRQoL and potential predictor factors.
A total of 308 patients were studied with a mean age of 66.9 (SD = 11.0) years and 70% were males. Mean scores for the physical composite summary, mental composite summary, symptom/problem list, effects of kidney disease and burden of kidney disease scales were 35.2, 47.0, 73.8, 72.5 and 59.8 respectively. Younger age was associated with lower scores in all subscales except for the physical composite summary. Female gender, obese or normal weight rather than overweight, and smoking were all associated with lower scores in one or more subscales. Scores were progressively lower with more advanced stage of CKD (p<0.05) in all subscales except for the mental composite summary.
In patients with diabetes and CKD, younger age was associated with lower scores in all HRQoL subscales except the physical composite summary and female gender, obese or normal weight and more advanced stages of CKD were associated with lower scores in one or more subscales. Identifying these factors will inform the timely implementation of interventions to improve the quality of life of these patients.
Access to community-based primary health care (hereafter, ‘primary care’) is a priority in many countries. Health care systems have emphasized policies that help the community ‘get the right service in the right place at the right time’. However, little is known about organizational interventions in primary care that are aimed to improve access for populations in situations of vulnerability (e.g., socioeconomically disadvantaged) and how successful they are. The purpose of this scoping review was to map the existing evidence on organizational interventions that improve access to primary care services for vulnerable populations. Scoping review followed an iterative process. Eligibility criteria: organizational interventions in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries; aiming to improve access to primary care for vulnerable populations; all study designs; published from 2000 in English or French; reporting at least one outcome (avoidable hospitalization, emergency department admission, or unmet health care needs). Sources: Main bibliographic databases (Medline, Embase, CINAHL) and team members’ personal files. Study selection: One researcher selected relevant abstracts and full text papers. Theory-driven synthesis: The researcher classified included studies using (i) the ‘Patient Centered Access to Healthcare’ conceptual framework (dimensions and outcomes of access to primary care), and (ii) the classification of interventions of the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organization of Care. Using pattern analysis, interventions were mapped in accordance with the presence/absence of ‘dimension-outcome’ patterns. Out of 8,694 records (title/abstract), 39 studies with varying designs were included. The analysis revealed the following pattern. Results of 10 studies on interventions classified as ‘Formal integration of services’ suggested that these interventions were associated with three dimensions of access (approachability, availability and affordability) and reduction of hospitalizations (four/four studies), emergency department admissions (six/six studies), and unmet healthcare needs (five/six studies). These 10 studies included seven non-randomized studies, one randomized controlled trial, one quantitative descriptive study, and one mixed methods study. Our results suggest the limited breadth of research in this area, and that it will be feasible to conduct a full systematic review of studies on the effectiveness of the formal integration of services to improve access to primary care services for vulnerable populations.
Delivery of Health Care; Accessibility to Health Services; Vulnerable populations; Underserved populations; Organizational Interventions; Improve Access; Canada; Australia
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second commonest neurodegenerative disease in developed countries. Current treatment for PD is pharmacologically focused and can have significant side-effects. There is increasing interest in holistic approaches including mindfulness to help manage the challenges associated with living with PD. We hypothesised that there would be an improvement in PD associated function and wellbeing in participants after participating in a 6-week mindfulness-based lifestyle program, and that these improvements would be sustainable at 6 months. Our primary objective was to determine changes in function and wellbeing associated with PD.
An exploratory prospective, mixed-method, randomised control trial incorporating a before and after design with a waitlist control, with an embedded qualitative component was conducted in 2012–2013. Participants included community living adults with disability congruent to H&Y Stage 2 PD, aged 18–75, fluent in spoken and written English and able to attend at least four of six sessions of the program. Participants were randomised to the intervention or wait-list control groups at two locations. All participants in the wait-list control group eventually received the intervention. Two randomisation codes were created for each location. Allocation to the intervention or wait-list control was by random number generation. The program facilitator and participants were blinded to participant data.
Group 1 included 35 participants and group 2 (the waitlist control), 37. Data was analysed from 24 (group 1) and 33 (group 2) participants. The intervention group, compared to the waitlist control, showed a small improvement in function and wellbeing associated with PD immediately after the program (t-score = −0.59) and at 6-month post intervention (t-score = −1.42) as reported by the PDQ-39 SI. However this finding was not significant (p = 0.56 and 0.16 respectively). A small yet significant effect size (β = 0.23) in PDQ-39 ADL was reported in group 1 after 6-months post-intervention. This showed a positive improvement in the ADL as reported by group 1 after 6-months (t-score −1.8, p = 0.04). Four secondary measures are reported.
Our findings suggest mindfulness-based lifestyle programs have potential to assist participants in managing the ongoing difficulties associated with a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s disease. Importantly, our study shows promise for the long term benefits of such programs. Improvements to participant activities in daily living and mindfulness were retained at 6-months post intervention. A more definitive study should be conducted in a larger sample of PD patients to further explore these findings and their impact on reducing stress and anxiety in PD patients.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12612000440820, 17th April 2012.
Parkinson’s disease; Neurological disorder; Mindfulness; Group program; Meditation
Health-care for co-morbid diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) is often sub-optimal. To improve health-care, we explored the perspectives of general practitioners (GPs) and tertiary health-care professionals concerning key factors influencing health-care of diabetes and CKD.
A total of 65 health professionals were purposively sampled from Australia’s 2 largest cities to participate in focus groups and semi-structured interviews. Four focus groups were conducted with GPs who referred to 4 tertiary health services in Australia’s 2 largest cities, with 6 focus groups conducted with tertiary health-care professionals from the 4 tertiary health services. An additional 8 semi-structured interviews were performed with specialist physicians who were heads of diabetes and renal units. All discussions were facilitated by the same researcher, with discussions digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. All qualitative data was thematically analysed independently by 2 researchers.
Both GPs and tertiary health-care professionals emphasised the importance of primary care and that optimal health-care was an inter-play between patient self-management and primary health-care, with specialist tertiary health-care support. Patient self-management, access to specialty care, coordination of care and a preventive approach were identified as key factors that influence healthcare and require improvement. Both groups suggested that an integrated specialist diabetes-kidney service could improve care. Unit heads emphasised the importance of quality improvement activities.
GPs and tertiary health-care professionals emphasised the importance of patient self-management and primary care involvement in the health-care of diabetes and CKD. Supporting GPs with an accessible, multidisciplinary diabetes-renal health service underpinned by strong communication pathways, a preventive approach and quality improvement activities, may improve health-care and patient outcomes in co-morbid diabetes and CKD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12882-016-0262-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Qualitative; Focus groups; Multi-morbidity; Diabetes; Chronic kidney disease; Health-care; Health-care delivery; Primary care; Tertiary care
Improving access to primary healthcare (PHC) for vulnerable populations is important for achieving health equity, yet this remains challenging. Evidence of effective interventions is rather limited and fragmented. We need to identify innovative ways to improve access to PHC for vulnerable populations, and to clarify which elements of health systems, organisations or services (supply-side dimensions of access) and abilities of patients or populations (demand-side dimensions of access) need to be strengthened to achieve transformative change. The work reported here was conducted as part of IMPACT (Innovative Models Promoting Access-to-Care Transformation), a 5-year Canadian-Australian research program aiming to identify, implement and trial best practice interventions to improve access to PHC for vulnerable populations. We undertook an environmental scan as a broad screening approach to identify the breadth of current innovations from the field.
We distributed a brief online survey to an international audience of PHC researchers, practitioners, policy makers and stakeholders using a combined email and social media approach. Respondents were invited to describe a program, service, approach or model of care that they considered innovative in helping vulnerable populations to get access to PHC. We used descriptive statistics to characterise the innovations and conducted a qualitative framework analysis to further examine the text describing each innovation.
Seven hundred forty-four responses were recorded over a 6-week period. 240 unique examples of innovations originating from 14 countries were described, the majority from Canada and Australia. Most interventions targeted a diversity of population groups, were government funded and delivered in a community health, General Practice or outreach clinic setting. Interventions were mainly focused on the health sector and directed at organisational and/or system level determinants of access (supply-side). Few innovations were developed to enhance patients’ or populations’ abilities to access services (demand-side), and rarely did initiatives target both supply- and demand-side determinants of access.
A wide range of innovations improving access to PHC were identified. The access framework was useful in uncovering the disparity between supply- and demand-side dimensions and pinpointing areas which could benefit from further attention to close the equity gap for vulnerable populations in accessing PHC services that correspond to their needs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12939-016-0351-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Access; Primary healthcare; Vulnerable populations; Innovations; Environmental scan; Online survey
An emerging global problem that will change clinical management
A key aim of reforms to primary health care (PHC) in many countries has been to enhance interprofessional teamwork. However, the impact of these changes on practitioners has not been well understood.
To assess the impact of reform policies and interventions that have aimed to create or enhance teamwork on professional communication relationships, roles, and work satisfaction in PHC practices.
Collaborative synthesis of 12 mixed methods studies.
Primary care practices undergoing transformational change in three countries: Australia, Canada, and the USA, including three Canadian provinces (Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec).
We conducted a synthesis and secondary analysis of 12 qualitative and quantitative studies conducted by the authors in order to understand the impacts and how they were influenced by local context.
There was a diverse range of complex reforms seeking to foster interprofessional teamwork in the care of patients with chronic disease. The impact on communication and relationships between different professional groups, the roles of nursing and allied health services, and the expressed satisfaction of PHC providers with their work varied more within than between jurisdictions. These variations were associated with local contextual factors such as the size, power dynamics, leadership, and physical environment of the practice. Unintended consequences included deterioration of the work satisfaction of some team members and conflict between medical and nonmedical professional groups.
The variation in impacts can be understood to have arisen from the complexity of interprofessional dynamics at the practice level. The same characteristic could have both positive and negative influence on different aspects (eg, larger practice may have less capacity for adoption but more capacity to support interprofessional practice). Thus, the impacts are not entirely predictable and need to be monitored, and so that interventions can be adapted at the local level.
interprofessional care; primary health care; teamwork; research synthesis
To evaluate an intervention to improve implementation of guidelines for the prevention of chronic vascular disease.
32 urban general practices in 4 Australian states.
Stratified randomisation of practices.
122 general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses (PNs) were recruited at baseline and 97 continued to 12 months. 21 848 patient records were audited for those aged 40–69 years who attended the practice in the previous 12 months without heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic renal disease, cognitive impairment or severe mental illness.
The practice level intervention over 6 months included small group training of practice staff, feedback on audited performance, practice facilitation visits and provision of patient education and referral information.
Primary: 1. Change in proportion of patients aged 40–69 years with smoking status, alcohol intake, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), blood pressure (BP) recorded and for those aged 45–69 years with lipids, fasting blood glucose and cardiovascular risk in the medical record. 2. Change in the level of risk for each factor.
change in self-reported frequency and confidence of GPs and PNs in assessment.
Risk recording improved in the intervention but not the control group for WC (OR 2.52 (95% CI 1.30 to 4.91)), alcohol consumption (OR 2.19 (CI 1.04 to 4.64)), smoking status (OR 2.24 (1.17 to 4.29)) and cardiovascular risk (OR 1.50 (1.04 to 2.18)). There was no change in recording of BP, lipids, glucose or BMI and no significant change in the level of risk factors based on audit data. The confidence but not reported practices of GPs and PNs in the intervention group improved in the assessment of some risk factors.
This intervention was associated with improved recording of some risk factors but no change in the level of risk at the follow-up audit.
Trial registration number
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register (ANZCTR): ACTRN12612000578808, results.
PRIMARY CARE; PREVENTIVE MEDICINE; practice facilitation; chronic disease; quality improvement
Practice facilitation has been associated with meaningful improvements in disease prevention and quality of patient care. Using practice facilitation, the Improved Delivery of Cardiovascular Care (IDOCC) project aimed to improve the delivery of evidence-based cardiovascular care in primary care practices across a large health region. Our goal was to evaluate IDOCC’s impact on adherence to processes of care delivery.
A pragmatic stepped wedge cluster randomized trial recruiting primary care providers in practices located in Eastern Ontario, Canada (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00574808). Participants were randomly assigned by region to one of three steps. Practice facilitators were intended to visit practices every 3–4 (year 1—intensive) or 6–12 weeks (year 2—sustainability) to support changes in practice behavior. The primary outcome was mean adherence to indicators of evidence-based care measured at the patient level. Adherence was assessed by chart review of a randomly selected cohort of 66 patients per practice in each pre-intervention year, as well as in year 1 and year 2 post-intervention.
Eighty-four practices (182 physicians) participated. On average, facilitators had 6.6 (min: 2, max: 11) face-to-face visits with practices in year 1 and 2.5 (min: 0 max: 10) visits in year 2. We collected chart data from 5292 patients. After adjustment for patient and provider characteristics, there was a 1.9 % (95 % confidence interval (CI): −2.9 to −0.9 %) and 4.2 % (95 % CI: −5.7 to −2.6 %) absolute decrease in mean adherence from baseline to intensive and sustainability years, respectively.
IDOCC did not improve adherence to best-practice guidelines. Our results showed a small statistically significant decrease in mean adherence of questionable clinical significance. Potential reasons for this result include implementation challenges, competing priorities in practices, a broad focus on multiple chronic disease indicators, and use of an overall index of adherence. These results contrast with findings from previously reported facilitation trials and highlight the complexities and challenges of translating research findings into clinical practice.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0341-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Practice facilitation; Primary care; Cardiovascular health
Practice facilitation is a key component of quality improvement in primary healthcare. Studies have reported the effectiveness of practice facilitation in improving quality management and care delivery. However, little has been published about practice facilitators’ training, facilitation activities, and their perceived role in quality improvement in primary healthcare. This study examined practice facilitators’ training and the perceptions of the practice facilitator role in a provincial primary healthcare learning collaborative quality improvement initiative in Ontario, Canada.
Descriptive and qualitative methods were used to outline the practice facilitator training as well as to look into the experiences and perceptions of practice facilitators and primary healthcare teams regarding the practice facilitation role in quality improvement. Data collection included training artifacts, activity logs, self-reflection reports, and semi-structured interviews with practice facilitators and primary healthcare participants. Reflections and interviews were analyzed to identify the role of the practice facilitators from their own experience, and from the perspective of the participants. Descriptive statistics were used to learn about categories of facilitation activities undertaken and frequency of these activities.
Sixteen practice facilitators and seven family healthcare teams participated in the study. Practice facilitators received a two-day intensive training workshop and continued training. Their time was spent mostly working directly with participating teams, continued learning and training, communications and administration. They served as coaches, resource providers, enablers and motivators. Participating teams expressed satisfaction with the practice facilitator role, although they had hoped this position would provide onsite and hands-on support in conducting activities of quality improvement at the practice level.
Practice facilitators played a crucial role in the implementation of quality improvement in Ontario’s learning collaborative program. The practice facilitator role is perceived to be that of a coach, enabler and motivator. This study suggests that the practice facilitator successfully supported participating teams to undertake quality improvement activities in primary healthcare settings.
Practice facilitator; Quality improvement; Primary healthcare; Qualitative method
The transition between extended hospitalization and discharge home to community-living contexts for older adults is a critical time period. This transition can have an impact on the health outcomes of older adults such as increasing the risk for health outcomes like falls, functional decline and depression and anxiety. The aim of this work is to identify and understand why older adults experience symptoms of depression and anxiety post-discharge and what factors are associated with this. This is a mixed methods study of adults aged 65 years and over who experienced a period of hospitalization longer than two weeks and return to community-living post-discharge. Participants will complete a questionnaire at baseline and additional monthly follow-up questionnaires for six months. Anxiety and depression and their resulting behaviors are major public health concerns and are significant determinants of health and wellbeing among the ageing population. There is a critical need for research into the impact of an extended period of hospitalization on the health status of older adults post-discharge from hospital. This research will provide evidence that will inform interventions and services provided for older adults after they have been discharged home from hospital care.
hospitalization; older adult; anxiety; depression; community-living; post-discharge; health; wellbeing; falls
Expanding into new types of practice, such as family health teams, presents challenges for practising pharmacists. The Primary Care Pharmacy Specialty Network (PC-PSN) was established in 2007 to support collaboration among pharmacists working in primary care. The PC-PSN offers to its members a listserv (also referred to as an electronic mailing list) jointly hosted by the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists and the Canadian Pharmacists Association.
To characterize PC-PSN membership and participation in the listserv and to examine how the listserv is used by analyzing questions posted, concerns raised, and issues discussed.
Qualitative content analysis was used to examine 1 year of archived PC-PSN listserv posts from the year 2010. Two coders used NVivo software to classify the content of posts. Research team members reviewed and discussed the coding reports to confirm themes emerging from the data.
Overall, 129 people (52.9% of the 244 listserv members registered at the end of the calendar year) posted to the listserv during the study period. These participants worked in various practice settings, with over half residing in Ontario (68/129 [52.7%]). A total of 623 posts were coded. Agreement between coders, for a sample of posts from 10 users, was acceptable (kappa = 0.78). The listserv was used to share information on a diverse set of topics, to support decision-making and acquire solutions for complex problems, and as a forum for mentorship.
The qualitative content analysis of the PC-PSN listserv posts for the year 2010 showed that the listserv was a medium for information-sharing and for providing and receiving support, through mentorship from colleagues. Apparent learning needs included effective question-posing skills and application of evidence to individual patients.
pharmacy; listserv; social media; social networking; primary care; pharmacie; gestionnaire de liste de diffusion; médias sociaux; réseautage social; soins de santé primaires
To describe the models of practice used by nurse practitioners (NPs) and FPs in community health centres (CHCs), and to examine the roles of NPs and FPs in these models.
Cross-sectional study using an organizational survey completed by managers of the CHC sites, as well as administrative data on patient sociodemographic characteristics and encounter activities.
A total of 21 CHCs (13 main sites and 8 satellite sites) operating in eastern Ontario during the period from December 1, 2006, to November 30, 2008.
A total of 44 849 patients, 53 full-time equivalent FPs, and 41 full-time equivalent NPs.
Main outcome measures
Family physicians’ and NPs’ models of practice, the sociodemographic characteristics and medical profiles of patients who were treated in each model of practice, and FPs’ and NPs’ use of time.
Patients were attributed to 1 of 3 models of practice in CHCs based on the proportion of visits to FPs and NPs: FP care (53% of patients), NP care (29%), and shared care (18%). Patients who received care in the NP model of practice were younger and more likely to be female, be homeless, and not have postsecondary education. Patients who received care in the FP model of practice had more complex medical conditions (cardiovascular disease, mental illness, lung disease, and diabetes) and more annual visits. Patients who received care in the shared care model had intermediate profiles. Nurse practitioners performed more off-site care and walk-in visits. Family physicians and NPs spent a similar proportion of time performing various duties such as direct clinical care and administration tasks.
Although NPs mainly cared for their own patient panels (in the NP care model), they did share some patients with FPs and provide some care to patients under the FP model of practice. Patients who were cared for by FPs and NPs had quite different characteristics.
People with limited health literacy are more likely to be socioeconomically disadvantaged and have risk factors for preventable chronic diseases. General practice is the ideal setting to address these inequalities however these patients engage less in preventive activities and experience difficulties navigating health services.
This study aimed to compare primary care patients with and without sufficient health literacy in terms of their lifestyle risk factors, and explore factors associated with receiving advice and referral for these risk factors from their GPs.
A mailed survey of 739 patients from 30 general practices across four Australian states was conducted in 2012. Health literacy was measured using the Health Literacy Management Scale. Patients with a mean score of <4 within any domain were defined as having insufficient health literacy. Multilevel logistic regression was used to adjust for clustering of patients within practices.
Patients with insufficient health literacy (n = 351; 48%) were more likely to report being overweight or obese, and less likely to exercise adequately. Having insufficient health literacy increased a patient’s chance of receiving advice on diet, physical activity or weight management, and referral to and attendance at lifestyle modification programs. Not speaking English at home; being overweight or obese; and attending a small sized practice also increased patients’ chances of receiving advice on these lifestyle risks. Few (5%, n = 37) of all patients reported being referred to lifestyle modification program and of those around three-quarters had insufficient health literacy. Overweight or obese patients were more likely to be referred to lifestyle modification programs and patients not in paid employment were more likely to be referred to and attend lifestyle programs.
Patients with insufficient health literacy were more likely to report receiving advice and being referred by GPs to attend lifestyle modification. Although the number of patients referred from this sample was very low, these findings are positive in that they indicate that GPs are identifying patients with low health literacy and appropriately referring them for assistance with lifestyle modification. Future research should measure the effectiveness of these lifestyle programs for patients with low health literacy.
Health literacy; Obesity; Nutrition; Physical activity; Weight; Primary health care; Behavioural risk factors
Primary care providers are an important source of information regarding appropriate alcohol consumption. As early presentation to a provider for alcohol-related concerns is unlikely, it is important that providers are able to identify at-risk patients in order to provide appropriate advice. This study aimed to report the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of General Practitioner (GP) assessment of alcohol consumption compared to patient self-report, and explore characteristics associated with GP non-detection of at-risk status.
GP practices were selected from metropolitan and regional locations in Australia. Eligible patients were adults presenting for general practice care who were able to understand English and provide informed consent. Patients completed a modified AUDIT-C by touchscreen computer as part of an omnibus health survey while waiting for their appointment. GPs completed a checklist for each patient, including whether the patient met current Australian guidelines for at-risk alcohol consumption. Patient self-report and GP assessments were compared for each patient.
GPs completed the checklist for 1720 patients, yielding 1565 comparisons regarding alcohol consumption. The sensitivity of GPs’ detection of at-risk alcohol consumption was 26.5%, with specificity of 96.1%. Higher patient education was associated with GP non-detection of at-risk status.
GP awareness of which patients might benefit from advice regarding at-risk alcohol consumption appears low. Given the complexities associated with establishing whether alcohol consumption is ‘at-risk’, computer-based approaches to routine screening of patients are worthy of exploration as a method for prompting the provision of advice in primary care.
General practice; Alcohol; Detection; Accuracy; Sensitivity
Dementia is a growing problem, causing substantial burden for patients, their families, and society. General practitioners (GPs) play an important role in diagnosing and managing dementia; however, there are gaps between recommended and current practice. The aim of this study was to explore GPs’ reported practice in diagnosing and managing dementia and to describe, in theoretical terms, the proposed explanations for practice that was and was not consistent with evidence-based guidelines.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with GPs in Victoria, Australia. The Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) guided data collection and analysis. Interviews explored the factors hindering and enabling achievement of 13 recommended behaviours. Data were analysed using content and thematic analysis. This paper presents an in-depth description of the factors influencing two behaviours, assessing co-morbid depression using a validated tool, and conducting a formal cognitive assessment using a validated scale.
A total of 30 GPs were interviewed. Most GPs reported that they did not assess for co-morbid depression using a validated tool as per recommended guidance. Barriers included the belief that depression can be adequately assessed using general clinical indicators and that validated tools provide little additional information (theoretical domain of ‘Beliefs about consequences’); discomfort in using validated tools (‘Emotion’), possibly due to limited training and confidence (‘Skills’; ‘Beliefs about capabilities’); limited awareness of the need for, and forgetting to conduct, a depression assessment (‘Knowledge’; ‘Memory, attention and decision processes’). Most reported practising in a manner consistent with the recommendation that a formal cognitive assessment using a validated scale be undertaken. Key factors enabling this were having an awareness of the need to conduct a cognitive assessment (‘Knowledge’); possessing the necessary skills and confidence (‘Skills’; ‘Beliefs about capabilities’); and having adequate time and resources (‘Environmental context and resources’).
This is the first study to our knowledge to use a theoretical approach to investigate the barriers and enablers to guideline-recommended diagnosis and management of dementia in general practice. It has identified key factors likely to explain GPs’ uptake of the guidelines. The results have informed the design of an intervention aimed at supporting practice change in line with dementia guidelines, which is currently being evaluated in a cluster randomised trial.
Dementia; General practitioners (GPs); Cognitive assessment; Depression assessment; Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF); Guideline implementation
To describe patient-reported access to primary health care across 4 organizational models of primary care in Ontario, and to explore how access is associated with patient, provider, and practice characteristics.
One hundred thirty-seven randomly selected primary care practices in Ontario using 1 of 4 delivery models (fee for service, established capitation, reformed capitation, and community health centres).
Patients included were at least 18 years of age, were not severely ill or cognitively impaired, were not known to the survey administrator, had consenting providers at 1 of the participating primary care practices, and were able to communicate in English or French either directly or through a translator.
Main outcome measures
Patient-reported access was measured by a 4-item scale derived from the previously validated adult version of the Primary Care Assessment Tool. Questions were asked about physician availability during and outside of regular office hours and access to health information via telephone. Responses to the scale were normalized, with higher scores reflecting greater patient-reported access. Linear regressions were used to identify characteristics independently associated with access to care.
Established capitation model practices had the highest patient-reported access, although the difference in scores between models was small. Our multilevel regression model identified several patient factors that were significantly (P = .05) associated with higher patient-reported access, including older age, female sex, good-to-excellent self-reported health, less mental health disability, and not working. Provider experience (measured as years since graduation) was the only provider or practice characteristic independently associated with improved patient-reported access.
This study adds to what is known about access to primary care. The study found that established capitation models outperformed all the other organizational models, including reformed capitation models, independent of provider and practice variables save provider experience. This suggests that the capitation models might provide better access to care and that it might take time to realize the benefits of organizational reforms.
Despite controversy about the benefits of routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, rates of participation continue to rise. It is important to ensure that men are fully informed about the potential risks associated with this test. Little is known about the processes of shared decision making for PSA testing in the family practice setting. This study aimed to explore men’s experiences of PSA testing participation and risk disclosure for PSA testing.
A cross-sectional survey of male family practice attendees aged 40 years or older, with no previous history of prostate cancer, between June 2010 and November 2011. Questions related to whether participants had undertaken PSA testing or discussed this with their doctor over the past 5 years, whether the patient or doctor had initiated the discussion, reasons for undergoing testing, and whether their doctor had discussed particular risks associated with PSA testing.
Sixty-seven percent (215/320) of men recalled having a PSA test in the past five years. Of the respondents who reported not having a test, 14% had discussed it with their doctor. The main reasons for having a PSA test were doctor recommendation and wanting to keep up to date with health tests. Thirty-eight percent or fewer respondents reported being advised of each potential risk.
Despite debate over the benefits of routine PSA testing, a high proportion of male family practice attendees report undertaking this test. Risks associated with testing appear to be poorly disclosed by general practitioners. These results suggest the need to improve the quality of informed consent for PSA testing in the family practice setting.
Prostate cancer; Screening; Prostate specific antigen; Family practice
Refugees have many complex health care needs which should be addressed by the primary health care services, both on their arrival in resettlement countries and in their transition to long-term care. The aim of this narrative synthesis is to identify the components of primary health care service delivery models for such populations which have been effective in improving access, quality and coordination of care.
A systematic review of the literature, including published systematic reviews, was undertaken. Studies between 1990 and 2011 were identified by searching Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Scopus, Australian Public Affairs Information Service – Health, Health and Society Database, Multicultural Australian and Immigration Studies and Google Scholar. A limited snowballing search of the reference lists of all included studies was also undertaken. A stakeholder advisory committee and international advisers provided papers from grey literature. Only English language studies of evaluated primary health care models of care for refugees in developed countries of resettlement were included.
Twenty-five studies met the inclusion criteria for this review of which 15 were Australian and 10 overseas models. These could be categorised into six themes: service context, clinical model, workforce capacity, cost to clients, health and non-health services. Access was improved by multidisciplinary staff, use of interpreters and bilingual staff, no-cost or low-cost services, outreach services, free transport to and from appointments, longer clinic opening hours, patient advocacy, and use of gender-concordant providers. These services were affordable, appropriate and acceptable to the target groups. Coordination between the different health care services and services responding to the social needs of clients was improved through case management by specialist workers. Quality of care was improved by training in cultural sensitivity and appropriate use of interpreters.
The elements of models most frequently associated with improved access, coordination and quality of care were case management, use of specialist refugee health workers, interpreters and bilingual staff. These findings have implications for workforce planning and training.
Access; Coordination; Health care models; Primary health care; Quality of care; Refugee; Migrant; Immigrant; Health services evaluation
Although we are observing a general move towards larger primary care practices, surprisingly little is known about the influence of key components of practice organization on primary care. We aimed to determine the relationships between practice size, and revenue sharing agreements, and quality of care.
As part of a large cross sectional study, group practices were randomly selected from different primary care service delivery models in Ontario. Patient surveys and chart reviews were used to assess quality of care. Multilevel regressions controlled for patient, provider and practice characteristics.
Positive statistically significant associations were found between the logarithm of group size and access, comprehensiveness, and disease prevention. Negative significant associations were found between logarithm group size and continuity. No differences were found for chronic disease management and health promotion. Practices that shared revenues were found to deliver superior health promotion compared to those who did not. Interacting group size with the presence of a revenue-sharing arrangement had a negative impact on health promotion.
Despite the limitations of our study, our findings have provided preliminary evidence of the tradeoffs inherent with increasing practice size. Larger group size is associated with better access and comprehensiveness but worse continuity of care. Revenue sharing in group practices was associated with higher health promotion compared to sharing only common costs. Further work is required to better inform policy makers and practitioners as to whether the pattern revealed in larger practices mitigates any of the previously reported benefits of continuity of primary care. We found few benefits of revenue sharing – even then the effect of revenue sharing on health promotion seemed diminished in larger practices.
Group size; Quality measures; Revenue sharing
Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in developed countries. There is an increasing interest in the use of mindfulness-related interventions in the management of patients with a chronic disease. In addition, interventions that promote personal control, stress-management and other lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, assist in reducing disability and improving quality of life in people with chronic illnesses. There has been little research in this area for people with PD.
A prospective mixed-method randomised clinical trial involving community living adults with PD aged <76 years and with moderate disease severity (Hoehn and Yahr stage 2) PD. Participants will be randomised into the ESSENCE 6-week programme or a matched wait list control group. ESSENCE is a multifaceted, healthy lifestyle and mindfulness programme designed to improve quality of life. We aim to determine whether participation in a mindfulness and lifestyle programme could improve PD-related function and explore self-management related experiences and changing attitudes towards self-management. The outcome measures will include 5 self-administered questionnaires: PD function and well-being questionnaire (PDQ39), Health Behaviours, Mental health, Multidimensional locus of control, and Freiburg mindfulness inventory. An embedded qualitative protocol will include in-depth interviews with 12 participants before and after participation in the 6-week programme and a researcher will observe the programme and take notes.
Repeated measures of Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) will examine the outcome measures for any significant effects from the group allocation, age, sex, adherence score and attendance. Qualitative data will be analysed thematically. We will outline the benefits of, and barriers to, the uptake of the intervention.
This protocol has received ethics approval from the Monash University Human Research Ethics Committee project number CF11/2662–2011001553.
This is the first research of its kind in Australia involving a comprehensive, lifestyle-based programme for people with PD and has the potential to involve a broader range of providers than standard care. The findings will be disseminated through peer reviewed journals, primary care conferences in Australia as well as abroad and through the Parkinson's community.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) ACTRN12612000440820.
PRIMARY CARE; COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
Dementia is a common and complex condition. Evidence-based guidelines for the management of people with dementia in general practice exist; however, detection, diagnosis and disclosure of dementia have been identified as potential evidence-practice gaps. Interventions to implement guidelines into practice have had varying success. The use of theory in designing implementation interventions has been limited, but is advocated because of its potential to yield more effective interventions and aid understanding of factors modifying the magnitude of intervention effects across trials. This protocol describes methods of a randomised trial that tests a theory-informed implementation intervention that, if effective, may provide benefits for patients with dementia and their carers.
This trial aims to estimate the effectiveness of a theory-informed intervention to increase GPs’ (in Victoria, Australia) adherence to a clinical guideline for the detection, diagnosis, and management of dementia in general practice, compared with providing GPs with a printed copy of the guideline. Primary objectives include testing if the intervention is effective in increasing the percentage of patients with suspected cognitive impairment who receive care consistent with two key guideline recommendations: receipt of a i) formal cognitive assessment, and ii) depression assessment using a validated scale (primary outcomes for the trial).
The design is a parallel cluster randomised trial, with clusters being general practices. We aim to recruit 60 practices per group. Practices will be randomised to the intervention and control groups using restricted randomisation. Patients meeting the inclusion criteria, and GPs’ detection and diagnosis behaviours directed toward these patients, will be identified and measured via an electronic search of the medical records nine months after the start of the intervention. Practitioners in the control group will receive a printed copy of the guideline. In addition to receipt of the printed guideline, practitioners in the intervention group will be invited to participate in an interactive, opinion leader-led, educational face-to-face workshop. The theory-informed intervention aims to address identified barriers to and enablers of implementation of recommendations. Researchers responsible for identifying the cohort of patients with suspected cognitive impairment, and their detection and diagnosis outcomes, will be blind to group allocation.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12611001032943 (date registered 28 September, 2011).
The ratio of patients to physicians has long been used as a tool for measuring and planning healthcare resources in Canada. Some current changes in primary care, such as enrolment of patients with physicians, make this ratio easier to calculate, while others, such as changing practice structure, make it more complex to interpret. Based on information gleaned from a review of the literature, we argue that before panel size can be used as an accountability measure for individual physicians or practices in primary care, we must understand its relationship to quality and outcomes at individual and population levels, as well as the contextual factors that affect it.