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1.  No consistent association between processes-of-care and health-related quality of life among patients with diabetes: a missing link? 
Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is considered a representative outcome in the evaluation of chronic disease management initiatives emphasizing patient-centered care. We evaluated the association between receipt of processes-of-care (PoC) for diabetes and HRQoL.
This cross-sectional study used self-reported data from non-institutionalized adults with diabetes in a Swiss canton. Outcomes were the physical/mental composites of the short form health survey 12 (SF-12) physical composite score, mental composite score (PCS, MCS) and the Audit of Diabetes-Dependent Quality of Life (ADDQoL). Main exposure variables were receipt of six PoC for diabetes in the past 12 months, and the Patient Assessment of Chronic Illness Care (PACIC) score. We performed linear regressions to examine the association between PoC, PACIC and the three composites of HRQoL.
Mean age of the 519 patients was 64.5 years (SD 11.3); 60% were male, 87% reported type 2 or undetermined diabetes and 48% had diabetes for over 10 years. Mean HRQoL scores were SF-12 PCS: 43.4 (SD 10.5), SF-12 MCS: 47.0 (SD 11.2) and ADDQoL: −1.6 (SD 1.6). In adjusted models including all six PoC simultaneously, receipt of influenza vaccine was associated with lower ADDQoL (β=−0.4, p≤0.01) and foot examination was negatively associated with SF-12 PCS (β=−1.8, p≤0.05). There was no association or trend towards a negative association when these PoC were reported as combined measures. PACIC score was associated only with the SF-12 MCS (β=1.6, p≤0.05).
PoC for diabetes did not show a consistent association with HRQoL in a cross-sectional analysis. This may represent an effect lag time between time of process received and health-related quality of life. Further research is needed to study this complex phenomenon.
PMCID: PMC4298028  PMID: 25621176
Patient-Oriented Research; Quality of Life; Chronic Disease Management; Clinical Care
2.  Trends of pre-hospital emergency medical services activity over 10 years: a population-based registry analysis 
The number of requests to pre-hospital emergency medical services (PEMS) has increased in Europe over the last 20 years, but epidemiology of PEMS interventions has little be investigated. The aim of this analysis was to describe time trends of PEMS activity in a region of western Switzerland.
Use of data routinely and prospectively collected for PEMS intervention in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland, from 2001 to 2010. This Swiss Canton comprises approximately 10% of the whole Swiss population.
We observed a 40% increase in the number of requests to PEMS between 2001 and 2010. The overall rate of requests was 35/1000 inhabitants for ambulance services and 10/1000 for medical interventions (SMUR), with the highest rate among people aged ≥ 80. Most frequent reasons for the intervention were related to medical problems, predominantly unconsciousness, chest pain respiratory distress, or cardiac arrest, whereas severe trauma interventions decreased over time. Overall, 89% were alive after 48 h. The survival rate after 48 h increased regularly for cardiac arrest or myocardial infarction.
Routine prospective data collection of prehospital emergency interventions and monitoring of activity was feasible over time. The results we found add to the understanding of determinants of PEMS use and need to be considered to plan use of emergency health services in the near future. More comprehensive analysis of the quality of services and patient safety supported by indicators are also required, which might help to develop prehospital emergency services and new processes of care.
PMCID: PMC4169798  PMID: 25209450
Pre-hospital emergency medical services; Epidemiology; Health Services; Public Health; Registers; Activity indicators
3.  Case management for frequent users of the emergency department: study protocol of a randomised controlled trial 
We devised a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of an intervention based on case management care for frequent emergency department users. The aim of the intervention is to reduce such patients’ emergency department use, to improve their quality of life, and to reduce costs consequent on frequent use. The intervention consists of a combination of comprehensive case management care and standard emergency care. It uses a clinical case management model that is patient-identified, patient-directed, and developed to provide high intensity services. It provides a continuum of hospital- and community-based patient services, which include clinical assessment, outreach referral, and coordination and communication with other service providers.
We aim to recruit, during the first year of the study, 250 patients who visit the emergency department of the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland. Eligible patients will have visited the emergency department 5 or more times during the previous 12 months. Randomisation of the participants to the intervention or control groups will be computer generated and concealed. The statistician and each patient will be blinded to the patient’s allocation. Participants in the intervention group (N = 125), additionally to standard emergency care, will receive case management from a team, 1 (ambulatory care) to 3 (hospitalization) times during their stay and after 1, 3, and 5 months, at their residence, in the hospital or in the ambulatory care setting. In between the consultations provided, the patients will have the opportunity to contact, at any moment, the case management team. Participants in the control group (N = 125) will receive standard emergency care only. Data will be collected at baseline and 2, 5.5, 9, and 12 months later, including: number of emergency department visits, quality of life (EuroQOL and WHOQOL), health services use, and relevant costs. Data on feelings of discrimination and patient’s satisfaction will also be collected at the baseline and 12 months later.
Our study will help to clarify knowledge gaps regarding the positive outcomes (emergency department visits, quality of life, efficiency, and cost-utility) of an intervention based on case management care.
Trial registration Identifier: NCT01934322.
PMCID: PMC4071797  PMID: 24938769
Randomised controlled trial; Case management; Emergency department; Frequent users; Quality of life
4.  Improving Blood Pressure Control Through Pharmacist Interventions: A Meta‐Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials 
Control of blood pressure (BP) remains a major challenge in primary care. Innovative interventions to improve BP control are therefore needed. By updating and combining data from 2 previous systematic reviews, we assess the effect of pharmacist interventions on BP and identify potential determinants of heterogeneity.
Methods and Results
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of pharmacist interventions on BP among outpatients with or without diabetes were identified from MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and CENTRAL databases. Weighted mean differences in BP were estimated using random effect models. Prediction intervals (PI) were computed to better express uncertainties in the effect estimates. Thirty‐nine RCTs were included with 14 224 patients. Pharmacist interventions mainly included patient education, feedback to physician, and medication management. Compared with usual care, pharmacist interventions showed greater reduction in systolic BP (−7.6 mm Hg, 95% CI: −9.0 to −6.3; I2=67%) and diastolic BP (−3.9 mm Hg, 95% CI: −5.1 to −2.8; I2=83%). The 95% PI ranged from −13.9 to −1.4 mm Hg for systolic BP and from −9.9 to +2.0 mm Hg for diastolic BP. The effect tended to be larger if the intervention was led by the pharmacist and was done at least monthly.
Pharmacist interventions – alone or in collaboration with other healthcare professionals – improved BP management. Nevertheless, pharmacist interventions had differential effects on BP, from very large to modest or no effect; and determinants of heterogeneity could not be identified. Determining the most efficient, cost‐effective, and least time‐consuming intervention should be addressed with further research.
PMCID: PMC4187511  PMID: 24721801
hypertension; pharmacist; prediction interval; systematic review; team‐based care
5.  Development and Content Validation of the Information Assessment Method for Patients and Consumers 
JMIR Research Protocols  2014;3(1):e7.
Online consumer health information addresses health problems, self-care, disease prevention, and health care services and is intended for the general public. Using this information, people can improve their knowledge, participation in health decision-making, and health. However, there are no comprehensive instruments to evaluate the value of health information from a consumer perspective.
We collaborated with information providers to develop and validate the Information Assessment Method for all (IAM4all) that can be used to collect feedback from information consumers (including patients), and to enable a two-way knowledge translation between information providers and consumers.
Content validation steps were followed to develop the IAM4all questionnaire. The first version was based on a theoretical framework from information science, a critical literature review and prior work. Then, 16 laypersons were interviewed on their experience with online health information and specifically their impression of the IAM4all questionnaire. Based on the summaries and interpretations of interviews, questionnaire items were revised, added, and excluded, thus creating the second version of the questionnaire. Subsequently, a panel of 12 information specialists and 8 health researchers participated in an online survey to rate each questionnaire item for relevance, clarity, representativeness, and specificity. The result of this expert panel contributed to the third, current, version of the questionnaire.
The current version of the IAM4all questionnaire is structured by four levels of outcomes of information seeking/receiving: situational relevance, cognitive impact, information use, and health benefits. Following the interviews and the expert panel survey, 9 questionnaire items were confirmed as relevant, clear, representative, and specific. To improve readability and accessibility for users with a lower level of literacy, 19 items were reworded and all inconsistencies in using a passive or active voice have been solved. One item was removed due to redundancy. The current version of the IAM4all questionnaire contains 28 items.
We developed and content validated the IAM4all in partnership with information providers, information specialists, researchers and representatives of information consumers. This questionnaire can be integrated within electronic knowledge resources to stimulate users’ reflection (eg, their intention to use information). We claim that any organization (eg, publishers, community organizations, or patient associations), can evaluate and improve their online consumer health information from a consumers’ perspective using this method.
PMCID: PMC3958673  PMID: 24550180
information use; information retrieval; push technology; consumer health information; consumer-centered outcomes; content validity
6.  General Practitioners Can Evaluate the Material, Social and Health Dimensions of Patient Social Status 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84828.
To identify which physician and patient characteristics are associated with physicians' estimation of their patient social status.
Cross-sectional multicentric survey.
Fourty-seven primary care private offices in Western Switzerland.
Random sample of 2030 patients ≥16, who encountered a general practitioner (GP) between September 2010 and February 2011.
Main measures
Primary outcome: patient social status perceived by GPs, using the MacArthur Scale of Subjective Social Status, ranging from the bottom (0) to the top (10) of the social scale.Secondary outcome: Difference between GP's evaluation and patient's own evaluation of their social status. Potential patient correlates: material and social deprivation using the DiPCare-Q, health status using the EQ-5D, sources of income, and level of education. GP characteristics: opinion regarding patients' deprivation and its influence on health and care.
To evaluate patient social status, GPs considered the material, social, and health aspects of deprivation, along with education level, and amount and type of income. GPs declaring a frequent reflexive consideration of their own prejudice towards deprived patients, gave a higher estimation of patients' social status (+1.0, p = 0.002). Choosing a less costly treatment for deprived patients was associated with a lower estimation (−0.7, p = 0.002). GP's evaluation of patient social status was 0.5 point higher than the patient's own estimate (p<0.0001).
GPs can perceive the various dimensions of patient social status, although heterogeneously, according partly to their own characteristics. Compared to patients' own evaluation, GPs overestimate patient social status.
PMCID: PMC3893170  PMID: 24454752
7.  Pharmacist Interventions to Improve Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(12):2706-2717.
This systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assesses the effect of pharmacist care on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors among outpatients with diabetes.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched. Pharmacist interventions were classified, and a meta-analysis of mean changes of blood pressure (BP), total cholesterol (TC), LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and BMI was performed using random-effects models.
The meta-analysis included 15 RCTs (9,111 outpatients) in which interventions were conducted exclusively by pharmacists in 8 studies and in collaboration with physicians, nurses, dietitians, or physical therapists in 7 studies. Pharmacist interventions included medication management, educational interventions, feedback to physicians, measurement of CVD risk factors, or patient-reminder systems. Compared with usual care, pharmacist care was associated with significant reductions for systolic BP (12 studies with 1,894 patients; −6.2 mmHg [95% CI −7.8 to −4.6]); diastolic BP (9 studies with 1,496 patients; −4.5 mmHg [−6.2 to −2.8]); TC (8 studies with 1,280 patients; −15.2 mg/dL [−24.7 to −5.7]); LDL cholesterol (9 studies with 8,084 patients; −11.7 mg/dL [−15.8 to −7.6]); and BMI (5 studies with 751 patients; −0.9 kg/m2 [−1.7 to −0.1]). Pharmacist care was not associated with a significant change in HDL cholesterol (6 studies with 826 patients; 0.2 mg/dL [−1.9 to 2.4]).
This meta-analysis supports pharmacist interventions—alone or in collaboration with other health care professionals—to improve major CVD risk factors among outpatients with diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3507563  PMID: 23173140
8.  Diabetes care in Switzerland: good, but perfectible: a population-based cross-sectional survey 
While Switzerland invests a lot of money in its healthcare system, little is known about the quality of care delivered. The objective of this study was to assess the quality of care provided to patients with diabetes in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland.
Cross-sectional study of 406 non-institutionalized adults with type 1 or 2 diabetes. Patients’ characteristics, diabetes and process of care indicators were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. Process indicators (past 12 months) included HbA1C check among HbA1C-aware patients, eye assessment by ophtalmologist, microalbuminuria check, feet examination, lipid test, blood pressure and weight measurement, influenza immunization, physical activity recommendations, and dietary recommendations. Item-by-item (each process of care indicator: percentage of patients having received it), composite (mean percentage of recommended care: sum of received processes of care / sum of possible recommended care), and all-or-none (percentage of patients receiving all specified recommended care) measures were computed.
Mean age was 64.4 years; 59% were men. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were reported by 18.2% and 68.5% of patients, respectively, but diabetes type remained undetermined for almost 20% of patients. Patients were treated with oral anti-diabetic drugs (50%), insulin (23%) or both (27%). Of 219 HbA1C-aware patients, 98% reported ≥ one HbA1C check during the last year. Also, ≥94% reported ≥ one blood pressure measurement, ≥ one weight measurement or lipid test, and 68%, 64% and 56% had feet examination, microalbuminuria check and eye assessment, respectively. Influenza immunization was reported by 62% of the patients.
The percentage of patients receiving all processes of care ranged between 14.2%-16.9%, and 46.6%-50.7%, when considering ten and four indicators, respectively. Ambulatory care utilization showed little use of multidisciplinary care, and low levels of participation in diabetes-education classes.
While routine processes-of-care were performed annually in most patients, diabetes-specific risk screenings, influenza immunization, physical activity and dietary recommendations were less often reported; this was also the case for multidisciplinary care and participation in education classes. There is room for diabetes care improvement in Switzerland. These results should help define priorities and further develop country-specific chronic disease management initiatives for diabetes.
PMCID: PMC3722105  PMID: 23800376
Healthcare quality; Diabetes; Cross-sectional study
9.  Partnership for fragility bone fracture care provision and prevention program (P4Bones): study protocol for a secondary fracture prevention pragmatic controlled trial 
Fractures associated with bone fragility in older adults signal the potential for secondary fracture. Fragility fractures often precipitate further decline in health and loss of mobility, with high associated costs for patients, families, society and the healthcare system. Promptly initiating a coordinated, comprehensive pharmacological bone health and falls prevention program post-fracture may improve osteoporosis treatment compliance; and reduce rates of falls and secondary fractures, and associated morbidity, mortality and costs.
This pragmatic, controlled trial at 11 hospital sites in eight regions in Quebec, Canada, will recruit community-dwelling patients over age 50 who have sustained a fragility fracture to an intervention coordinated program or to standard care, according to the site. Site study coordinators will identify and recruit 1,596 participants for each study arm. Coordinators at intervention sites will facilitate continuity of care for bone health, and arrange fall prevention programs including physical exercise. The intervention teams include medical bone specialists, primary care physicians, pharmacists, nurses, rehabilitation clinicians, and community program organizers.
The primary outcome of this study is the incidence of secondary fragility fractures within an 18-month follow-up period. Secondary outcomes include initiation and compliance with bone health medication; time to first fall and number of clinically significant falls; fall-related hospitalization and mortality; physical activity; quality of life; fragility fracture-related costs; admission to a long term care facility; participants’ perceptions of care integration, expectations and satisfaction with the program; and participants’ compliance with the fall prevention program. Finally, professionals at intervention sites will participate in focus groups to identify barriers and facilitating factors for the integrated fragility fracture prevention program.
This integrated program will facilitate knowledge translation and dissemination via the following: involvement of various collaborators during the development and set-up of the integrated program; distribution of pamphlets about osteoporosis and fall prevention strategies to primary care physicians in the intervention group and patients in the control group; participation in evaluation activities; and eventual dissemination of study results.
Study/trial registration
Clinical Trial.Gov NCT01745068
Study ID number
CIHR grant # 267395
PMCID: PMC3564742  PMID: 23343392
Fragility fracture; Osteoporosis; Fall prevention; Integrated program; Interorganizational collaboration; Canada; Controlled trial; Evaluation
11.  Learning from failure - rationale and design for a study about discontinuation of randomized trials (DISCO study) 
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) may be discontinued because of apparent harm, benefit, or futility. Other RCTs are discontinued early because of insufficient recruitment. Trial discontinuation has ethical implications, because participants consent on the premise of contributing to new medical knowledge, Research Ethics Committees (RECs) spend considerable effort reviewing study protocols, and limited resources for conducting research are wasted. Currently, little is known regarding the frequency and characteristics of discontinued RCTs.
Our aims are, first, to determine the prevalence of RCT discontinuation for specific reasons; second, to determine whether the risk of RCT discontinuation for specific reasons differs between investigator- and industry-initiated RCTs; third, to identify risk factors for RCT discontinuation due to insufficient recruitment; fourth, to determine at what stage RCTs are discontinued; and fifth, to examine the publication history of discontinued RCTs.
We are currently assembling a multicenter cohort of RCTs based on protocols approved between 2000 and 2002/3 by 6 RECs in Switzerland, Germany, and Canada. We are extracting data on RCT characteristics and planned recruitment for all included protocols. Completion and publication status is determined using information from correspondence between investigators and RECs, publications identified through literature searches, or by contacting the investigators. We will use multivariable regression models to identify risk factors for trial discontinuation due to insufficient recruitment. We aim to include over 1000 RCTs of which an anticipated 150 will have been discontinued due to insufficient recruitment.
Our study will provide insights into the prevalence and characteristics of RCTs that were discontinued. Effective recruitment strategies and the anticipation of problems are key issues in the planning and evaluation of trials by investigators, Clinical Trial Units, RECs and funding agencies. Identification and modification of barriers to successful study completion at an early stage could help to reduce the risk of trial discontinuation, save limited resources, and enable RCTs to better meet their ethical requirements.
PMCID: PMC3528626  PMID: 22928744
Randomized controlled trial; Trial discontinuation; Slow recruitment; Ethics committees; Trial protocols
12.  Development of mental disorders one year after exposure to psychosocial stressors; a cohort study in primary care patients with a physical complaint 
BMC Psychiatry  2012;12:120.
Mental disorders, common in primary care, are often associated with physical complaints. While exposure to psychosocial stressors and development or presence of principal mental disorders (i.e. depression, anxiety and somatoform disorders defined as multisomatoforme disorders) is commonly correlated, temporal association remains unproven. The study explores the onset of such disorders after exposure to psychosocial stressors in a cohort of primary care patients with at least one physical symptom.
The cohort study SODA (SOmatization, Depression and Anxiety) was conducted by 21 private-practice GPs and three fellow physicians in a Swiss academic primary care centre. GPs included patients via randomized daily identifiers. Depression, anxiety or somatoform disorders were identified by the full Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ), a validated procedure to identify mental disorders based on DSM-IV criteria. The PHQ was also used to investigate exposure to psychosocial stressors (before the index consultation and during follow up) and the onset of principal mental disorders after one year of follow up.
From November 2004 to July 2005, 1020 patients were screened for inclusion. 627 were eligible and 482 completed the PHQ one year later and were included in the analysis (77%). At one year, prevalence of principal mental disorders was 30/153 (19.6% CI95% 13.6; 26.8) for those initially exposed to a major psychosocial stressor and 26/329 (7.9% CI95% 5.2; 11.4) for those not. Stronger association exists between psychosocial stressors and depression (RR = 2.4) or anxiety (RR = 3.5) than multisomatoforme disorders (RR = 1.8). Patients who are “bothered a lot” (subjective distress) by a stressor are therefore 2.5 times (CI95% 1.5; 4.0) more likely to experience a mental disorder at one year. A history of psychiatric comorbidities or psychological treatment was not a confounding factor for developing a principal mental disorder after exposure to psychosocial stressors.
This primary care study shows that patients with physical complaints exposed to psychosocial stressors had a higher risk for developing mental disorders one year later. This temporal association opens the field for further research in preventive care for mental diseases in primary care patients.
PMCID: PMC3549739  PMID: 22906197
Primary health care; Longitudinal studies; Mental disorder; Psychosocial deprivation; Stress
13.  Coronary heart disease in primary care: accuracy of medical history and physical findings in patients with chest pain – a study protocol for a systematic review with individual patient data 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:81.
Chest pain is a common complaint in primary care, with coronary heart disease (CHD) being the most concerning of many potential causes. Systematic reviews on the sensitivity and specificity of symptoms and signs summarize the evidence about which of them are most useful in making a diagnosis. Previous meta-analyses are dominated by studies of patients referred to specialists. Moreover, as the analysis is typically based on study-level data, the statistical analyses in these reviews are limited while meta-analyses based on individual patient data can provide additional information. Our patient-level meta-analysis has three unique aims. First, we strive to determine the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for myocardial ischemia in primary care. Second, we investigate associations between study- or patient-level characteristics and measures of diagnostic accuracy. Third, we aim to validate existing clinical prediction rules for diagnosing myocardial ischemia in primary care. This article describes the methods of our study and six prospective studies of primary care patients with chest pain. Later articles will describe the main results.
We will conduct a systematic review and IPD meta-analysis of studies evaluating the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for diagnosing coronary heart disease in primary care. We will perform bivariate analyses to determine the sensitivity, specificity and likelihood ratios of individual symptoms and signs and multivariate analyses to explore the diagnostic value of an optimal combination of all symptoms and signs based on all data of all studies. We will validate existing clinical prediction rules from each of the included studies by calculating measures of diagnostic accuracy separately by study.
Our study will face several methodological challenges. First, the number of studies will be limited. Second, the investigators of original studies defined some outcomes and predictors differently. Third, the studies did not collect the same standard clinical data set. Fourth, missing data, varying from partly missing to fully missing, will have to be dealt with.
Despite these limitations, we aim to summarize the available evidence regarding the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for diagnosing CHD in patients presenting with chest pain in primary care.
Review registration
Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (University of York): CRD42011001170
PMCID: PMC3545850  PMID: 22877212
MeSH; Chest pain; Myocardial ischemia; Medical history taking; Sensitivity and specificity; Primary health care
14.  Development and validation of a clinical prediction rule for chest wall syndrome in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:74.
Chest wall syndrome (CWS), the main cause of chest pain in primary care practice, is most often an exclusion diagnosis. We developed and evaluated a clinical prediction rule for CWS.
Data from a multicenter clinical cohort of consecutive primary care patients with chest pain were used (59 general practitioners, 672 patients). A final diagnosis was determined after 12 months of follow-up. We used the literature and bivariate analyses to identify candidate predictors, and multivariate logistic regression was used to develop a clinical prediction rule for CWS. We used data from a German cohort (n = 1212) for external validation.
From bivariate analyses, we identified six variables characterizing CWS: thoracic pain (neither retrosternal nor oppressive), stabbing, well localized pain, no history of coronary heart disease, absence of general practitioner’s concern, and pain reproducible by palpation. This last variable accounted for 2 points in the clinical prediction rule, the others for 1 point each; the total score ranged from 0 to 7 points. The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was 0.80 (95% confidence interval 0.76-0.83) in the derivation cohort (specificity: 89%; sensitivity: 45%; cut-off set at 6 points). Among all patients presenting CWS (n = 284), 71% (n = 201) had a pain reproducible by palpation and 45% (n = 127) were correctly diagnosed. For a subset (n = 43) of these correctly classified CWS patients, 65 additional investigations (30 electrocardiograms, 16 thoracic radiographies, 10 laboratory tests, eight specialist referrals, one thoracic computed tomography) had been performed to achieve diagnosis. False positives (n = 41) included three patients with stable angina (1.8% of all positives). External validation revealed the ROC curve to be 0.76 (95% confidence interval 0.73-0.79) with a sensitivity of 22% and a specificity of 93%.
This CWS score offers a useful complement to the usual CWS exclusion diagnosing process. Indeed, for the 127 patients presenting CWS and correctly classified by our clinical prediction rule, 65 additional tests and exams could have been avoided. However, the reproduction of chest pain by palpation, the most important characteristic to diagnose CWS, is not pathognomonic.
PMCID: PMC3444903  PMID: 22866824
Chest pain; Primary care; Thoracic wall; Musculoskeletal system; Decision support techniques; Diagnosis
15.  Chronic disease management: a qualitative study investigating the barriers, facilitators and incentives perceived by Swiss healthcare stakeholders 
Chronic disease management has been implemented for some time in several countries to tackle the increasing burden of chronic diseases. While Switzerland faces the same challenge, such initiatives have only emerged recently in this country. The aim of this study is to assess their feasibility, in terms of barriers, facilitators and incentives to participation.
To meet our aim, we used qualitative methods involving the collection of opinions of various healthcare stakeholders, by means of 5 focus groups and 33 individual interviews. All the data were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was then performed and five levels were determined to categorize the data: political, financial, organisational/ structural, professionals and patients.
Our results show that, at each level, stakeholders share common opinions towards the feasibility of chronic disease management in Switzerland. They mainly mention barriers linked to the federalist political organization as well as to financing such programs. They also envision difficulties to motivate both patients and healthcare professionals to participate. Nevertheless, their favourable attitudes towards chronic disease management as well as the fact that they are convinced that Switzerland possesses all the resources (financial, structural and human) to develop such programs constitute important facilitators. The implementation of quality and financial incentives could also foster the participation of the actors.
Even if healthcare stakeholders do not have the same role and interest regarding chronic diseases, they express similar opinions on the development of chronic disease management in Switzerland. Their overall positive attitude shows that it could be further implemented if political, financial and organisational barriers are overcome and if incentives are found to face the scepticism and non-motivation of some stakeholders.
PMCID: PMC3483191  PMID: 22726820
Chronic disease; Disease management; Attitude; Patients; Health personnel; Qualitative research
17.  The 'help' question doesn't help when screening for major depression: external validation of the three-question screening test for primary care patients managed for physical complaints 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:114.
Major depression, although frequent in primary care, is commonly hidden behind multiple physical complaints that are often the first and only reason for patient consultation. Major depression can be screened by two validated questions that are easier to use in primary care than the full Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) criteria. A third question, called the 'help' question, improves the specificity without apparently decreasing the sensitivity of this screening procedure. We validated the abbreviated screening procedure for major depression with and without the 'help' question in primary care patients managed for a physical complaint.
This diagnostic accuracy study used data from the SODA (for 'SOmatisation Depression Anxiety') cohort study conducted by 24 general practitioners (GPs) in western Switzerland that included patients over 18 years of age with at least a single physical complaint at index consultation. Major depression was identified with the full Patient Health Questionnaire. GPs were asked to screen patients for major depression with the three screening questions 1 year after inclusion.
Of 937 patients with at least a single physical complaint, 751 were eligible 1 year after index consultation. Major depression was diagnosed in 69/724 (9.5%) patients. The sensitivity and specificity of the two-question method alone were 91.3% (95% CI 81.4 to 96.4) and 65.0% (95% CI 61.2 to 68.6), respectively. Adding the 'help' question decreased the sensitivity (59.4%; 95% CI 47.0 to 70.9) but improved the specificity (88.2%; 95% CI 85.4 to 90.5) of the three-question method.
The use of two screening questions for major depression was associated with high sensitivity and low specificity in primary care patients presenting a physical complaint. Adding the 'help' question improved the specificity but clearly decreased the sensitivity; when using the 'help' question, four out of ten patients with depression will be missed, compared to only one out of ten with the two-question method. Therefore, the 'help' question is not useful as a screening question, but may help discussing management strategies.
PMCID: PMC3213092  PMID: 22005130
18.  Improved accuracy of co-morbidity coding over time after the introduction of ICD-10 administrative data 
Co-morbidity information derived from administrative data needs to be validated to allow its regular use. We assessed evolution in the accuracy of coding for Charlson and Elixhauser co-morbidities at three time points over a 5-year period, following the introduction of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), coding of hospital discharges.
Cross-sectional time trend evaluation study of coding accuracy using hospital chart data of 3'499 randomly selected patients who were discharged in 1999, 2001 and 2003, from two teaching and one non-teaching hospital in Switzerland. We measured sensitivity, positive predictive and Kappa values for agreement between administrative data coded with ICD-10 and chart data as the 'reference standard' for recording 36 co-morbidities.
For the 17 the Charlson co-morbidities, the sensitivity - median (min-max) - was 36.5% (17.4-64.1) in 1999, 42.5% (22.2-64.6) in 2001 and 42.8% (8.4-75.6) in 2003. For the 29 Elixhauser co-morbidities, the sensitivity was 34.2% (1.9-64.1) in 1999, 38.6% (10.5-66.5) in 2001 and 41.6% (5.1-76.5) in 2003. Between 1999 and 2003, sensitivity estimates increased for 30 co-morbidities and decreased for 6 co-morbidities. The increase in sensitivities was statistically significant for six conditions and the decrease significant for one. Kappa values were increased for 29 co-morbidities and decreased for seven.
Accuracy of administrative data in recording clinical conditions improved slightly between 1999 and 2003. These findings are of relevance to all jurisdictions introducing new coding systems, because they demonstrate a phenomenon of improved administrative data accuracy that may relate to a coding 'learning curve' with the new coding system.
PMCID: PMC3170597  PMID: 21849089
ICD-10; Agreement; Administrative Data; Co-morbidity
19.  Experiences and needs of diabetic patients and healthcare professionals: a qualitative study in the canton of Vaud (Switzerland) 
To explore the needs and expectations of diabetic patients and healthcare professionals in the canton of Vaud.
Development and implementation of a diabetes cantonal program.
We conducted one focus group (FG) with diabetic patients and one with healthcare professionals (general practitioners, diabetologists, pharmacists, home healthcare managers, podologists) in each of the four health regions of the canton (n=8 FG). FGs were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim, and content analysis performed.
Results and conclusion
Perceived quality of diabetes care varies, depending on participants and regions considered. Participants describe a lack of collaboration and communication between professionals, problems linked to self-management education, and a lack of information on diabetes for the general population.
They propose to improve the quality of care by strengthening existing structures, by developing centralization of care and information, and by reinforcing teamwork and self-management education. They also suggest implementing information and prevention campaigns for the general population.
Diabetics and healthcare professionals express the need to develop a cantonal program at a local level and adapted to patients’ needs. For patients, such a program would represent an opportunity to have access to comprehensive care. For healthcare professionals, it would favor the development of teamwork and of local networks.
Participants point out similar problems and solutions, even if not similarly expressed. These results should help the development and implementation of a program adapted to the patients’ and professionals’ needs.
PMCID: PMC3184830
diabetes; chronic disease management; qualitative methods; Switzerland
20.  Oral vitamin B12 for patients suspected of subtle cobalamin deficiency: a multicentre pragmatic randomised controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:2.
Evidence regarding the effectiveness of oral vitamin B12 in patients with serum vitamin B12 levels between 125-200 pM/l is lacking. We compared the effectiveness of one-month oral vitamin B12 supplementation in patients with a subtle vitamin B12 deficiency to that of a placebo.
This multicentre (13 general practices, two nursing homes, and one primary care center in western Switzerland), parallel, randomised, controlled, closed-label, observer-blind trial included 50 patients with serum vitamin B12 levels between 125-200 pM/l who were randomized to receive either oral vitamin B12 (1000 μg daily, N = 26) or placebo (N = 24) for four weeks. The institution's pharmacist used simple randomisation to generate a table and allocate treatments. The primary outcome was the change in serum methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels after one month of treatment. Secondary outcomes were changes in total homocysteine and serum vitamin B12 levels. Blood samples were centralised for analysis and adherence to treatment was verified by an electronic device (MEMS; Aardex Europe, Switzerland). Trial registration: ISRCTN 22063938.
Baseline characteristics and adherence to treatment were similar in both groups. After one month, one patient in the placebo group was lost to follow-up. Data were evaluated by intention-to-treat analysis. One month of vitamin B12 treatment (N = 26) lowered serum MMA levels by 0.13 μmol/l (95%CI 0.06-0.19) more than the change observed in the placebo group (N = 23). The number of patients needed to treat to detect a metabolic response in MMA after one month was 2.6 (95% CI 1.7-6.4). A significant change was observed for the B12 serum level, but not for the homocysteine level, hematocrit, or mean corpuscular volume. After three months without active treatment (at four months), significant differences in MMA levels were no longer detected.
Oral vitamin B12 treatment normalised the metabolic markers of vitamin B12 deficiency. However, a one-month daily treatment with1000 μg oral vitamin B12 was not sufficient to normalise the deficiency markers for four months, and treatment had no effect on haematological signs of B12 deficiency.
PMCID: PMC3033340  PMID: 21232119
21.  Anemia and chronic kidney disease are potential risk factors for mortality in stroke patients: a historic cohort study 
BMC Nephrology  2010;11:27.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated to a higher stroke risk. Anemia is a common consequence of CKD, and is also a possible risk factor for cerebrovascular diseases. The purpose of this study was to examine if anemia and CKD are independent risk factors for mortality after stroke.
This historic cohort study was based on a stroke registry and included patients treated for a first clinical stroke in the stroke unit of one academic hospital over a three-year period. Mortality predictors comprised demographic characteristics, CKD, glomerular filtration rate (GFR), anemia and other stroke risk factors. GFR was estimated by means of the simplified Modification of Diet in Renal Disease formula. Renal function was assessed according to the Kidney Disease Outcomes Quality Initiative (K/DOQI)-CKD classification in five groups. A value of hemoglobin < 120 g/L in women and < 130 g/L in men on admission defined anemia. Kaplan-Meier survival curves and Cox models were used to describe and analyze one-year survival.
Among 890 adult stroke patients, the mean (Standard Deviation) calculated GFR was 64.3 (17.8) ml/min/1.73 m2 and 17% had anemia. Eighty-two (10%) patients died during the first year after discharge. Among those, 50 (61%) had K/DOQI CKD stages 3 to 5 and 32 (39%) stages 1 or 2 (p < 0.001). Anemia was associated with an increased risk of death one year after discharge (p < 0.001). After adjustment for other factors, a higher hemoglobin level was independently associated with decreased mortality one year after discharge [hazard ratio (95% CI) 0.98 (0.97-1.00)].
Both CKD and anemia are frequent among stroke patients and are potential risk factors for decreased one-year survival. The inclusion of patients with a first-ever clinical stroke only and the determination of anemia based on one single measure, on admission, constitute limitations to the external validity. We should investigate if an early detection and management of both CKD and anemia could improve survival in stroke patients.
PMCID: PMC2973927  PMID: 20950484
22.  How are "teaching the teachers" courses in evidence based medicine evaluated? A systematic review 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:64.
Teaching of evidence-based medicine (EBM) has become widespread in medical education. Teaching the teachers (TTT) courses address the increased teaching demand and the need to improve effectiveness of EBM teaching. We conducted a systematic review of assessment tools for EBM TTT courses. To summarise and appraise existing assessment methods for teaching the teachers courses in EBM by a systematic review.
We searched PubMed, BioMed, EmBase, Cochrane and Eric databases without language restrictions and included articles that assessed its participants. Study selection and data extraction were conducted independently by two reviewers.
Of 1230 potentially relevant studies, five papers met the selection criteria. There were no specific assessment tools for evaluating effectiveness of EBM TTT courses. Some of the material available might be useful in initiating the development of such an assessment tool.
There is a need for the development of educationally sound assessment tools for teaching the teachers courses in EBM, without which it would be impossible to ascertain if such courses have the desired effect.
PMCID: PMC2958160  PMID: 20920240
23.  Patients presenting with somatic complaints in general practice: depression, anxiety and somatoform disorders are frequent and associated with psychosocial stressors 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:67.
Mental disorders in primary care patients are frequently associated with physical complaints that can mask the disorder. There is insufficient knowledge concerning the role of anxiety, depression, and somatoform disorders in patients presenting with physical symptoms. Our primary objective was to determine the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and somatoform disorders among primary care patients with a physical complaint. We also investigated the relationship between cumulated psychosocial stressors and mental disorders.
We conducted a multicentre cross-sectional study in twenty-one private practices and in one academic primary care centre in Western Switzerland. Randomly selected patients presenting with a spontaneous physical complaint were asked to complete the self-administered Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) between November 2004 and July 2005. The validated French version of the PHQ allowed the diagnosis of mental disorders (DSM-IV criteria) and the analyses of exposure to psychosocial stressors.
There were 917 patients exhibiting at least one physical symptom included. The rate of depression, anxiety, and somatoform disorders was 20.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 17.4% to 22.7%), 15.5% (95% CI = 13.2% to 18.0%), and 15.1% (95% CI = 12.8% to 17.5%), respectively. Psychosocial stressors were significantly associated with mental disorders. Patients with an accumulation of psychosocial stressors were more likely to present anxiety, depression, or somatoform disorders, with an increase of 2.2 fold (95% CI = 2.0 to 2.5) for each additional stressor.
The investigation of mental disorders and psychosocial stressors among patients with physical complaints is relevant in primary care. Psychosocial stressors should be explored as potential epidemiological causes of mental disorders.
PMCID: PMC2945969  PMID: 20843358
24.  Predictive ability of an early diagnostic guess in patients presenting with chest pain; a longitudinal descriptive study 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:14.
The intuitive early diagnostic guess could play an important role in reaching a final diagnosis. However, no study to date has attempted to quantify the importance of general practitioners' (GPs) ability to correctly appraise the origin of chest pain within the first minutes of an encounter.
The validation study was nested in a multicentre cohort study with a one year follow-up and included 626 successive patients who presented with chest pain and were attended by 58 GPs in Western Switzerland. The early diagnostic guess was assessed prior to a patient's history being taken by a GP and was then compared to a diagnosis of chest pain observed over the next year.
Using summary measures clustered at the GP's level, the early diagnostic guess was confirmed by further investigation in 51.0% (CI 95%; 49.4% to 52.5%) of patients presenting with chest pain. The early diagnostic guess was more accurate in patients with a life threatening illness (65.4%; CI 95% 64.5% to 66.3%) and in patients who did not feel anxious (62.9%; CI 95% 62.5% to 63.3%). The predictive abilities of an early diagnostic guess were consistent among GPs.
The GPs early diagnostic guess was correct in one out of two patients presenting with chest pain. The probability of a correct guess was higher in patients with a life-threatening illness and in patients not feeling anxious about their pain.
PMCID: PMC2836993  PMID: 20170544
25.  Ruling out coronary heart disease in primary care patients with chest pain: a clinical prediction score 
BMC Medicine  2010;8:9.
Chest pain raises concern for the possibility of coronary heart disease. Scoring methods have been developed to identify coronary heart disease in emergency settings, but not in primary care.
Data were collected from a multicenter Swiss clinical cohort study including 672 consecutive patients with chest pain, who had visited one of 59 family practitioners' offices. Using delayed diagnosis we derived a prediction rule to rule out coronary heart disease by means of a logistic regression model. Known cardiovascular risk factors, pain characteristics, and physical signs associated with coronary heart disease were explored to develop a clinical score. Patients diagnosed with angina or acute myocardial infarction within the year following their initial visit comprised the coronary heart disease group.
The coronary heart disease score was derived from eight variables: age, gender, duration of chest pain from 1 to 60 minutes, substernal chest pain location, pain increasing with exertion, absence of tenderness point at palpation, cardiovascular risks factors, and personal history of cardiovascular disease. Area under the receiver operating characteristics curve was of 0.95 with a 95% confidence interval of 0.92; 0.97. From this score, 413 patients were considered as low risk for values of percentile 5 of the coronary heart disease patients. Internal validity was confirmed by bootstrapping. External validation using data from a German cohort (Marburg, n = 774) revealed a receiver operating characteristics curve of 0.75 (95% confidence interval, 0.72; 0.81) with a sensitivity of 85.6% and a specificity of 47.2%.
This score, based only on history and physical examination, is a complementary tool for ruling out coronary heart disease in primary care patients complaining of chest pain.
PMCID: PMC2832616  PMID: 20092615

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