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1.  The relationship between literacy and multimorbidity in a primary care setting 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:33.
Multimorbidity is now acknowledged as a research priority in primary care. The identification of risk factors and people most at risk is an important step in guiding prevention and intervention strategies. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between literacy and multimorbidity while controlling for potential confounders.
Participants were adult patients attending the family medicine clinic of a regional health centre in Saguenay (Quebec), Canada. Literacy was measured with the Newest Vital Sign (NVS). Multimorbidity was measured with the Disease Burden Morbidity Assessment (DBMA) by self-report. Information on potential confounders (age, sex, education and family income) was also collected. The association between literacy (independent variable) and multimorbidity was examined in bivariate and multivariate analyses. Two operational definitions of multimorbidity were used successively as the dependent variable; confounding variables were introduced into the model as potential predictors.
One hundred three patients (36 men) 19–83 years old were recruited; 41.8% had completed 12 years of school or less. Forty-seven percent of patients provided fewer than four correct answers on the NVS (possible low literacy) whereas 53% had four correct responses or more. Literacy and multimorbidity were associated in bivariate analyses (p < 0.01) but not in multivariate analyses, including age and family income.
This study suggests that there is no relationship between literacy and multimorbidity when controlling for age and family income.
PMCID: PMC3388951  PMID: 22536833
2.  Validation of the disease burden morbidity assessment by self-report in a French-speaking population 
The Disease Burden Morbidity Assessment (DBMA) is a self-report questionnaire used to estimate the disease burden experienced by patients. The aim of this study was to test and to measure the properties of the French translation of the DBMA (DBMA-Fv).
The original version of the DBMA was translated into French (Canadian) and first assessed during cognitive interviews. In the validation study, patients recruited during consecutive consultation periods completed the DBMA-Fv questionnaire while they were in the waiting room of a primary care setting (T1). Participants completed the same questionnaire mailed to their home two weeks later (T2). Concomitant validity of the DBMA-Fv was assessed using the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS). Patient medical records were reviewed to verify chronic diseases and past medical history.
Ninety-seven patients were recruited and 85 (88%) returned the mailed questionnaires; 5 (5.9%) were incomplete. DBMA-Fv scores of the 80 participants with a complete questionnaire at T2 ranged from 0 to 30 (median 5.5, mean 7.7, SD = 7.0). Test-retest reliability of the DBMA-Fv was high (ICC: 0.86, 95% CI: 0.79-0.92). The DBMA-Fv and the CIRS correlated moderately at T1 (r = 0.46, 95% CI: 0.26 - 0.62, p < 0.01) and T2 (r = 0.56, 95% CI: 0.38 - 0.70, p < 0.01). The mean (SD) sensitivity of patient reports of a condition in relation to chart review at T2 was 73.9 (8.4) (range 62.5% to 90%). The overall mean (SD) specificity was 92.2 (6.7) (range 77.6% to 98.6%).
The DBMA-Fv's properties are similar to its English counterpart as to its median sensitivity and specificity compared to chart reviews. It correlated moderately with an established index of multimorbidity. A high percentage of patients were able to complete the test correctly as a mail questionnaire and it showed high test-retest reliability.
PMCID: PMC3305524  PMID: 22333434
3.  Canadian guidelines for clinical practice: an analysis of their quality and relevance to the care of adults with comorbidity 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:74.
Clinical guidelines have been the subject of much criticism in primary care literature partly due to potential conflicts in their implementation among patients with multiple chronic conditions. We assessed the relevance of selected Canadian clinical guidelines on chronic diseases for patients with comorbidity and examined their quality.
We selected 16 chronic medical conditions according to their frequency of occurrence, complexity of treatment, and pertinence to primary care. Recent Canadian clinical guidelines (2004 - 2009) on these conditions, published in English or French, were retrieved. We assessed guideline relevance to the care of patients with comorbidity with a tool developed by Boyd and colleagues. Quality was assessed using the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE) instrument.
Regarding relevance, 56.2% of guidelines addressed treatment for patients with multiple chronic conditions and 18.8% addressed the issue for older patients. Fifteen guidelines (93.8%) included specific recommendations for patients with one concurrent condition; only three guidelines (18.8%) addressed specific recommendations for patients with two comorbid conditions and one for more than two concurrent comorbid conditions. Quality of the evaluated guidelines was good to very good in four out of the six domains measured using the AGREE instrument. The domains with lower mean scores were Stakeholder Involvement and Applicability.
The quality of the Canadian guidelines examined is generally good, yet their relevance for patients with two or more chronic conditions is very limited and there is room for improvement in this respect.
PMCID: PMC3146414  PMID: 21752267
4.  Prevalence estimates of multimorbidity: a comparative study of two sources 
Published prevalence studies on multimorbidity present diverse data collection methods, sources of data, targeted age groups, diagnoses considered and study populations, making the comparability of prevalence estimates questionable. The objective of this study was to compare prevalence estimates of multimorbidity derived from two sources and to examine the impact of the number of diagnoses considered in the measurement of multimorbidity.
Prevalence of multimorbidity was estimated in adults over 25 years of age from two separate Canadian studies: a 2005 survey of 26,000 respondents randomly selected from the general population and a 2003 study of 980 patients from 21 family practices. We estimated the prevalence of multimorbidity based on the co-occurrence of ≥ 2 and ≥ 3 diseases of the seven diseases listed in the general population survey. For primary care patients, we also estimated multimorbidity prevalence using an open list of chronic diseases.
Prevalence estimates were considerably higher for each age group in the primary care sample than in the general population. For primary care patients, the number of chronic diseases considered for estimates resulted in large differences, especially in younger age groups. The prevalence of multimorbidity increased with age in both study populations.
The prevalence of multimorbidity was substantially lower when estimated in a general population than in a family practice-based sample and was higher when the number of conditions considered increased.
PMCID: PMC2907759  PMID: 20459621
5.  Comorbidity and glycemia control among patients with type 2 diabetes in primary care 
Reports on the relationship between comorbidity and glycemia control in diabetic patients are conflicting and the method of measuring comorbidity varies widely among studies. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between diabetes control and comorbidity, taking into account all comorbidities and their severity, in a primary care setting. We performed a retrospective descriptive study based on chart review of 96 randomly selected type 2 diabetic patients. Comorbidity was measured with the cumulative illness rating scale (CIRS), an exhaustive comorbidity index. Diabetes was considered as controlled if the mean value of two measurements of glycosylated hemoglobin A (HbA1c) was less than 7%. Taking diabetes control as the dependent variable, its relationship with the CIRS score, age, sex, diabetes duration, and diabetes-related complications was explored. Diabetes control was not significantly related with the CIRS score, age, sex or diabetes severity. Diabetes duration was the only variable significantly related to diabetes control. Our study suggests that comorbidity measured with the CIRS in patients with type 2 diabetes is not a factor that prevents the achievement of a good glycemia control.
PMCID: PMC3052715  PMID: 21437154
glycemia control; type 2 diabetes mellitus; comorbidity; primary care
6.  Multimorbidity and quality of life: a closer look 
The presence of multiple chronic conditions is associated with lower health related quality of life (HRQOL). Disease severity also influences HRQOL. To analyse the effects of all possible combinations of single diseases along with their severity on HRQOL seems cumbersome. Grouping diseases and their severity in specific organ domains may facilitate the study of the complex relationship between multiple chronic conditions and HRQOL. The goal of this study was to analyse impaired organ domains that affect the most HRQOL of patients with multiple chronic conditions in primary care and their possible interactions.
We analysed data from 238 patients recruited from the clientele of 21 family physicians. We classified all chronic conditions along with the measure of their severity into the 14 organ domains of the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS). Patients also completed the 36-item Medical Outcomes Study questionnaire (SF-36). One-way analyses of variance were performed to study the relationship between the severity score for each CIRS domain and both physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) of HRQOL. Two-way analyses of variance were conducted to investigate the significance of possible organ domains interactions. Variables involved in significant bivariate relationships or interactions were candidates for inclusion in a multivariate model. Five additional variables were included in the multivariate model because of their possible confounding effect: perceived social support, age, education, perceived economic status and residual CIRS.
Significant differences in the PCS (p < 0.01) were found in 12 of the 14 CIRS organ domains. A significant difference in MCS was found only in the Psychiatric domain. In the multivariate analysis for the PCS, the CIRS domains Musculoskeletal, Neurological, and Psychiatric, had an independent direct impact on PCS while the Upper gastrointestinal, Vascular, Cardiac and Respiratory domains were involved in interactions. A multivariate model was not necessary for the mental component.
Vascular, Upper gastrointestinal and Musculoskeletal systems have strong negative effects on HRQOL. Among combinations of systems, the respiratory and cardiac combination is of particular concern because of a synergistic negative effect. This study paves the way for a future study with a bigger sample that could yield a model of wider generalizability.
PMCID: PMC2042974  PMID: 17683600
7.  Comparative assessment of three different indices of multimorbidity for studies on health-related quality of life 
Measures of multimorbidity are often applied to source data, populations or outcomes outside the scope of their original developmental work. As the development of a multimorbidity measure is influenced by the population and outcome used, these influences should be taken into account when selecting a multimorbidity index. The aim of this study was to compare the strength of the association of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) with three multimorbidity indices: the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS), the Charlson index (Charlson) and the Functional Comorbidity Index (FCI). The first two indices were not developed in light of HRQOL.
We used data on chronic diseases and on the SF-36 questionnaire assessing HRQOL of 238 adult primary care patients who participated in a previous study. We extracted all the diagnoses for every patient from chart review to score the CIRS, the FCI and the Charlson. Data for potential confounders (age, sex, self-perceived economic status and self-perceived social support) were also collected. We calculated the Pearson correlation coefficients (r) of the SF-36 scores with the three measures of multimorbidity, as well as the coefficient of determination, R2, while controlling for confounders.
The r values for the CIRS (range: -0.55 to -0.18) were always higher than those for the FCI (-0.47 to -0.10) and Charlson (-0.31 to -0.04) indices. The CIRS explained the highest percent of variation in all scores of the SF-36, except for the Mental Component Summary Score where the variation was not significant. Variations explained by the FCI were significant in all scores of SF-36 measuring physical health and in two scales evaluating mental health. Variations explained by the Charlson were significant in only three scores measuring physical health.
The CIRS is a better choice as a measure of multimorbidity than the FCI and the Charlson when HRQOL is the outcome of interest. However, the FCI may provide a good option to evaluate the physical aspect of HRQOL for the ease in its administration and scoring. The Charlson index may not be recommended as a measure of multimorbidity in studies related to either physical or mental aspects of HRQOL.
PMCID: PMC1310518  PMID: 16305743
8.  Assessing enablement in clinical practice: a systematic review of available instruments 
Rationale, aims and objectives
Enablement is an intervention by which the health care provider recognizes, promotes and enhances patients' ability to control their health and life. An abundant health literature suggests that enablement is associated with good outcomes. In this review, we aimed at identifying and comparing instruments that assess enablement in the health care context.
We conducted a systematic literature review using Medline, Embase, Cochrane, Cinahl and PsycINFO databases, 1980 through March 2009, with specific search strategy for each database. Citations were included if they reported: (1) development and/or validation of an instrument; (2) evaluation of enablement in a health care context; and (3) quantitative results following administration of the instrument. The quality of each main retained citation was assessed using a modified version of the Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy.
Of 3135 citations identified, 53 were retrieved for detailed evaluation. Four articles were included. Two instruments were found: the Patient Empowerment Scale (PES) and the Empowering Speech Practices Scale (ESPS). Both instruments assessed enablement in hospital setting, one from the inpatient's perspective (PES) and the other from both perspectives (ESPS).
Two instruments assess enablement in hospital setting. No instrument is currently available to assess enablement in an ambulatory care context.
PMCID: PMC3023028  PMID: 20727059
empowerment; enablement; instruments; professional practice; questionnaires; systematic review

Results 1-8 (8)