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1.  Acute admissions to a community hospital - health consequences: a randomized controlled trial in Hallingdal, Norway 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:198.
Health care professionals in several countries are searching for alternatives to acute hospitalization. In Hallingdal, Norway, selected acute patients are admitted to a community hospital. The aim of this study was to analyse whether acute admission to a community hospital as an alternative to a general hospital had any positive or negative health consequences for the patients.
Patients intended for acute admission to the local community hospital were asked to join a randomized controlled trial. One group of the enrolled patients was admitted as planned (group 1, n = 33), while another group was admitted to the general hospital (group 2, n = 27). Health outcomes were measured by the Nottingham Extended Activity of Daily Living Questionnaire and by collection of data concerning specialist and community health care services in a follow-up year.
After one year, no statistical significant differences in the level of daily function was found between group 1 (admissions to the community hospital) and group 2 (admissions to the general hospital). Group 1 had recorded fewer in-patient days at hospitals and nursing homes, as well as lower use of home nursing, than group 2. For outpatient referrals, the trend was the opposite. However, the differences between the two groups were not at a 5% level of statistical significance.
No statistical significant differences at a 5% level were found related to health consequences between the two randomized groups. The study however, indicates a consistent trend of health benefits rather than risk from acute admissions to a community hospital, as compared to the general hospital. Emergency admission and treatment at a lower-level facility than the hospital thus appears to be a feasible solution for a selected group of patients.
Trial registration NCT01069107. Registered 2 April 2010.
PMCID: PMC4265486  PMID: 25491726
Patient admission; Emergency health services; General practitioners; Community hospital; Health care systems; Patient outcome assessments
3.  The choice of alternatives to acute hospitalization: a descriptive study from Hallingdal, Norway 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:87.
Hallingdal is a rural region in southern Norway. General practitioners (GPs) refer acutely somatically ill patients to any of three levels of care: municipal nursing homes, the regional community hospital or the local general hospital. The objective of this paper is to describe the patterns of referrals to the three different somatic emergency service levels in Hallingdal and to elucidate possible explanations for the differences in referrals.
Quantitative methods were used to analyse local patient statistics and qualitative methods including focus group interviews were used to explore differences in referral rates between GPs. The acute somatic admissions from the six municipalities of Hallingdal were analysed for the two-year period 2010–11 (n = 1777). A focus group interview was held with the chief municipal medical officers of the six municipalities. The main outcome measure was the numbers of admissions to the three different levels of acute care in 2010–11. Reflections of the focus group members about the differences in admission patterns were also analysed.
Acute admissions at a level lower than the local general hospital ranged from 9% to 29% between the municipalities. Foremost among the local factors affecting the individual doctor’s admission practice were the geographical distance to the different places of care and the GP’s working experience in the local community.
The experience from Hallingdal demonstrates that GPs use available alternatives to hospitalization but to varying degrees. This can be explained by socio-demographic factors and factors related to the medical reasons for admission. However, there are also important local factors related to the individual GP and the structural preparedness for alternatives in the community.
PMCID: PMC3698089  PMID: 23800090
General practice; Patient admissions; Referrals; Emergencies; Hospitalization; Community hospital; Intermediate care; Nursing homes
4.  Patient allocations in general practice in case of patients' preferences for gender of doctor and their unavailability 
BMC Research Notes  2011;4:112.
In some countries every citizen has the right to obtain a designated general practitioner. However, each individual may have preferences that cannot be fulfilled due to shortages of some kind. The questions raised in this paper are: To what extent can we expect that preferences are fulfilled when the patients "compete" for entry on the lists of practitioners? What changes can we expect under changing conditions? A particular issue explored in the paper is when the majority of women prefer a female doctor and there is a shortage of female doctors.
The analysis is done on the macro level by the so called gravity model and on the micro level by recent theories of benefit efficient population behaviour, partly developed by two of the authors. A major finding is that the number of patients wanting a doctor of the underrepresented gender is less important than the strength of their preferences as determining factor for the benefit efficient allocation.
We were able to generate valuable insights to the questions asked and to the dynamics of benefit efficient allocations. The approach is quite general and can be applied in a variety of contexts.
PMCID: PMC3088539  PMID: 21477281
5.  Observed communication skills: how do they relate to the consultation content? A nation-wide study of graduate medical students seeing a standardized patient for a first-time consultation in a general practice setting 
In this study, we wanted to investigate the relationship between background variables, communication skills, and the bio-psychosocial content of a medical consultation in a general practice setting with a standardized patient.
Final-year medical school students (N = 111) carried out a consultation with an actor playing the role of a patient with a specific somatic complaint, psychosocial stressors, and concerns about cancer. Based on videotapes, communication skills and consultation content were scored separately.
The mean level of overall communication skills had a significant impact upon the counts of psychosocial issues, the patient's concerns about cancer, and the information and planning parts of the consultation content being addressed. Gender and age had no influence upon the relationship between communication skills and consultation content.
Communication skills seem to be important for final-year students' competence in addressing sensitive psychosocial issues and patients' concerns as well as informing and planning with patients being representative for a fairly complex case in general practice. This result should be considered in the design and incorporation of communication skills training as part of the curriculum of medical schools.
PMCID: PMC2213643  PMID: 17996053
6.  Curriculum factors influencing knowledge of communication skills among medical students 
Communication training builds on the assumption that understanding of the concepts related to professional communication facilitates the training. We know little about whether students' knowledge of clinical communication skills is affected by their attendance of communication training courses, or to what degree other elements of the clinical training or curriculum design also play a role. The aim of this study was to determine which elements of the curriculum influence acquisition of knowledge regarding clinical communication skills by medical students.
The study design was a cross-sectional survey performed in the four Norwegian medical schools with different curricula, spring 2003. A self-administered questionnaire regarding knowledge of communication skills (an abridged version of van Dalen's paper-and-pencil test) was sent to all students attending the four medical schools. A total of 1801 (59%) students responded with complete questionnaires.
At the end of the 1st year of study, the score on the knowledge test was higher in students at the two schools running communication courses and providing early patient contact (mean 81%) than in the other two medical schools (mean 69–75%, P ≤ 0.001), with students studying a traditional curriculum scoring the lowest. Their scores increased sharply towards the end of the 3rd year, during which they had been subjected to extensive patient contact and had participated in an intensive communication course (77% vs. 72% the previous year, P ≤ 0.01). All students scored generally lower in academic years in which there was no communication training. However, at the end of the final year the difference between the schools was only 5% (81% vs. 86%, P ≤ 0.001).
The acquisition of knowledge regarding communication skills by medical students may be optimised when the training is given together with extensive supervised patient contact, especially if this teaching takes place in the initial years of the curriculum.
PMCID: PMC2089059  PMID: 17925041
7.  Chlamydia and gonorrhoea in pregnant Batswana women: time to discard the syndromic approach? 
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea are major causes of morbidity among women in developing countries. Both infections have been associated with pregnancy-related complications, and case detection and treatment in pregnancy is essential. In countries without laboratory support, the diagnosis and treatment of cervical infections is based on the syndromic approach. In this study we measured the prevalence of chlamydia and gonorrhoea among antenatal care attendees in Botswana. We evaluated the syndromic approach for the detection of cervical infections in pregnancy, and determined if risk scores could improve the diagnostic accuracy.
In a cross-sectional study, 703 antenatal care attendees in Botswana were interviewed and examined, and specimens were collected for the identification of C trachomatis, N gonorrhoeae and other reproductive tract infections. Risk scores to identify attendees with cervical infections were computed based on identified risk factors, and their sensitivities, specificities, likelihood ratios and predictive values were calculated.
The prevalence of chlamydia was 8%, and gonorrhoea was found in 3% of the attendees. Symptoms and signs of vaginal discharge did not predict cervical infection, and a syndromic approach failed to identify infected women. Age (youth) risk factor most strongly associated with cervical infection. A risk score with only sociodemographic factors had likelihood ratios equivalent to risk scores which incorporated clinical signs and microscopy results. However, all the evaluated risk scores were of limited value in the diagnosis of chlamydia and gonorrhoea. A cut-off set at an acceptable sensitivity to avoid infected antenatal care attendees who remained untreated would inevitably lead to considerable over-treatment.
Although in extensive use, the syndromic approach is unsuitable for diagnosing cervical infections in antenatal care attendees in Botswana. None of the evaluated risk scores can replace this management. Without diagnostic tests, there are no adequate management strategies for C trachomatis and N gonorrhoeae in pregnant women in Botswana, a situation which is likely to apply to other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Screening for cervical infections in pregnant women is an essential public health measure, and rapid tests will hopefully be available in developing countries within a few years.
PMCID: PMC1955709  PMID: 17437632
8.  Assessing medical students' attitudes towards learning communication skills – which components of attitudes do we measure? 
The Communication Skills Attitudes Scale (CSAS) created by Rees, Sheard and Davies and published in 2002 has been a widely used instrument for measuring medical students' attitudes towards learning communication skills. Earlier studies have shown that the CSAS mainly tests two dimensions of attitudes towards communication; positive attitudes (PAS) and negative attitudes (NAS). The objectives of our study are to explore the attitudes of Norwegian medical students towards learning communication skills, and to compare our findings with reports from other countries.
The CSAS questionnaire was mailed simultaneously to all students (n = 3055) of the four medical schools in Norway in the spring of 2003. Response from 1833 students (60.0%) were analysed by use of SPSS ver.12.
A Principal component analysis yielded findings that differ in many respects from those of earlier papers. We found the CSAS to measure three factors. The first factor describes students' feelings about the way communication skills are taught, whereas the second factor describes more fundamental attitudes and values connected to the importance of having communication skills for doctors. The third factor explores whether students feel that good communication skills may help them respecting patients and colleagues.
Our findings indicate that in this sample the CSAS measures broader aspects of attitudes towards learning communication skills than the formerly described two-factor model with PAS and NAS. This may turn out to be helpful for monitoring the effect of different teaching strategies on students' attitudes during medical school.
PMCID: PMC1851955  PMID: 17394673
9.  Clinical symptoms and signs in sore throat patients with large colony variant β-haemolytic streptococci groups C or G versus group A 
The role of large colony streptococci groups C or G as pathogen agents in sore throat has been questioned.
To analyse clinical features of patients with large colony streptococci groups C or G compared with patients with group A streptococci (GAS) and with negative cultures.
Design of study
Prospective study of patients with sore throat.
Two Norwegian general practices in Stokke and Kongsberg communities with 6500 patients.
Frequency of clinical features in the three patient categories including the four Centor criteria (fever, anterior cervical lymphadenopathy, tonsillar exudates, and lack of cough), degree of pain on swallowing, pharyngeal rubor, C-reactive protein (CRP) values, patient age between 3 and 14 years, and duration of symptoms before seeing the doctor. A logistic regression analysis to find independent predictors was performed.
Out of 306 patients with a sore throat, 244 were adults and 62 were children under 10 years old; 40% were men. One hundred and twenty-seven had GAS, 33 had streptococci groups C or G, and 146 had negative throat cultures. Forty-eight per cent of the GAS patients and 45% of the C or G patients met three or four of the Centor criteria. The logistic regression revealed that in patients with GAS considerable pain on swallowing, an age of 3–14 years and a duration of symptoms of ≤3 days or less were significantly associated with GAS infection in addition to the Centor criteria. The same results were found when all streptococci were analysed together, in addition elevated CRP was significant. In patients with streptococci group C or G an elevated CRP-value was significantly associated.
Patients with tonsillitis caused by streptococcus groups C or G have, to a large extent, the same clinical picture as patients with GAS. Large colony streptococci groups C and G should be considered as throat pathogens in line with GAS.
PMCID: PMC1463235  PMID: 16105370
bacteria; bacteriological culture; likelihood ratio; sensitivity and specificity; streptococcal infections; tonsillitis
10.  Predictors of job satisfaction among doctors, nurses and auxiliaries in Norwegian hospitals: relevance for micro unit culture 
To explore what domains of work are important for job satisfaction among doctors, nurses and auxiliaries and to discuss differences between professional groups in the perspective of micro team culture.
Cross-sectional survey data from hospital staff working clinically at inpatient hospital wards in Norway in 2000.
Linear regression models predicting job satisfaction for the three professions were compared. First, five domains of hospital work were examined for general job satisfaction. Based on the result of the first regression, five items concerning local leadership were explored in a second regression.
A total of 1814 doctors, nurses and auxiliaries working at 11 Norwegian hospitals responded (overall response rate: 65%). The only domain of work that significantly predicted high job satisfaction important for all groups was positive evaluation of local leadership. Both steps of analyses suggested that professional development is most important for doctors. For registered nurses, experiencing support and feedback from the nearest superior was the main explanatory variable for job satisfaction. Job satisfaction of auxiliaries was equally predicted by professional development and local leadership. The results are discussed and interpreted as reflections of cultural values, loyalties and motivation.
The professional values of medicine, the organizational and holistic skills of nurses and the practical experience of auxiliaries should all be valued in the building of interdependent micro teams.
PMCID: PMC1397856  PMID: 16483384
11.  Musculo-skeletal pain among 40- and 45-year olds in Oslo: differences between two socioeconomically contrasting areas, and their possible explanations 
The objective of the study was to compare the prevalence and severity of musculo-skeletal pain between two socioeconomically contrasting areas in Oslo, Norway, and to explore possible explanatory factors.
Questionnaire survey, carried out as part of The Oslo Health Study in 2000–2001. Data from 821 persons (40 and 45 year old) living in a less affluent inner city area (called east) were compared with 854 persons living in an affluent area of the city (called west). Bivariate comparisons (chi square test) and multiple regression analyses were performed to investigate differences between the samples.
61 % in east and 56 % in west (p < 0.05) reported pain/stiffness in muscles/joints during the last four weeks. 30 % in east versus 19 % in west (p < 0.001) reported extensive pain. The between area difference in extensive pain was partially explained by physical inactivity, mental health problems and being of non-Western origin.
Musculo-skeletal pain is reported by 55–60 % of middle aged persons in Oslo during a four week period, and must be considered a normal phenomenon. Poor social conditions, inactivity, mental health problems and being an immigrant imply increased risk of more severe symptoms with a concomitant demand of health care.
PMCID: PMC529299  PMID: 15494077
population survey; social inequalities in health; muskulo-skeletal disorders; mental health; immigrants
12.  The clinical diagnosis of acute purulent sinusitis in general practice--a review. 
Acute sinusitis is a common illness in primary care. Studies have demonstrated the difficulty of making the differential diagnosis of acute purulent sinusitis based on clinical evaluations alone. This leads to a significant overuse of antibiotics, which in turn may contribute to increased bacterial resistance. In most cases, GPs have to base their differential diagnosis of sinusitis on clinical signs and symptoms and examination of the patient. The aim of this review is to assess which clinical signs and symptoms can predict an acute purulent sinusitis, compared with accepted reference standards. A review of the literature was performed by looking at articles related to the diagnoses of acute sinusitis in general practice. The following search criteria were used: unselected general practice population; objective reference standard; and logistic regression to evaluate symptoms and signs independently associated with the diagnosis. Four studies were identified for further analysis. The following symptoms and signs were associated with acute purulent sinusitis: purulent secretion as a symptom experienced by the patient or as a sign demonstrated in the nasal cavity by the doctor; pain in the teeth; pain at bending forward, and two phases in the illness history. An elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate and increased C-reactive protein also contributed to the diagnosis. By use of the specified signs and symptoms the GP can increase the probability of correctly diagnosing an acute purulent sinusitis and reserve antibiotic prescription for these patients.
PMCID: PMC1314327  PMID: 12051216
17.  Influence of social problems on management in general practice: multipractice questionnaire survey 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7150):28-32.
Objectives: To find how often social problems influence clinical management in general practice, how management is changed, and how the characteristics of patients, doctors, and the doctor-patient relationship influence this management.
Design: Multipractice survey of patients consulting general practitioners. Doctors completed a questionnaire for each patient.
Setting: General practices in Buskerud county, Norway.
Subjects: 1401 consecutive adult patients attending 89 general practitioners.
Main outcome measures: How often management of patients was influenced by different types of social problem and main reasons for consultation; frequency and intercorrelation of different types of management applied; odds ratios for social problems’ influence on management, controlled for by characteristics of doctors, patients, and their relationship.
Results: In 17% of all consultations the doctors’ knowledge of patients’ social problems influenced their management, stressful working conditions being the most frequent influencing type of problem. Knowledge of social problems influenced management more often when the doctor knew a patient well, but less often the longer a doctor had worked in a practice. When social problems influenced management, the commonest types of management offered were extra time for consultation (51%), advice (42%), authorisation of sick leave (28%), and prescription of a psychotropic drug (20%), while referral to community services was used in 2.6% of these consultations. Prescription of a psychotropic drug was positively correlated with use of extra time, and was made more often by female doctors.
Conclusions: Patients’ social problems influenced choice of management in at least a sixth of consultations. Prior knowledge of the patient, the doctor’s time in present practice, age and sex of the patient, and sex of the doctor significantly influenced management of patients.
Key messages We studied how patients’ social problems influenced their general practitioners’ management decisions In a sixth of consultations the doctors’ knowledge of social problems influenced management Extra time, advice, certifying a sick leave, and prescribing a psychotropic drug were the most common actions taken, while referral to other community services was seldom used Management was more often influenced by social problems if the doctor was recently established in the present practice or if the patient was well known to the doctor When influenced by social problems, female doctors prescribed a psychotropic drug three times as often as male doctors
PMCID: PMC28599  PMID: 9651266

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