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1.  Evidence summaries (decision boxes) to prepare clinicians for shared decision-making with patients: a mixed methods implementation study 
Decision boxes (Dboxes) provide clinicians with research evidence about management options for medical questions that have no single best answer. Dboxes fulfil a need for rapid clinical training tools to prepare clinicians for clinician-patient communication and shared decision-making. We studied the barriers and facilitators to using the Dbox information in clinical practice.
We used a mixed methods study with sequential explanatory design. We recruited family physicians, residents, and nurses from six primary health-care clinics. Participants received eight Dboxes covering various questions by email (one per week). For each Dbox, they completed a web questionnaire to rate clinical relevance and cognitive impact and to assess the determinants of their intention to use what they learned from the Dbox to explain to their patients the advantages and disadvantages of the options, based on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB). Following the 8-week delivery period, we conducted focus groups with clinicians and interviews with clinic administrators to explore contextual factors influencing the use of the Dbox information.
One hundred clinicians completed the web surveys. In 54% of the 496 questionnaires completed, they reported that their practice would be improved after having read the Dboxes, and in 40%, they stated that they would use this information for their patients. Of those who would use the information for their patients, 89% expected it would benefit their patients, especially in that it would allow the patient to make a decision more in keeping with his/her personal circumstances, values, and preferences. They intended to use the Dboxes in practice (mean 5.6 ± 1.2, scale 1–7, with 7 being “high”), and their intention was significantly related to social norm, perceived behavioural control, and attitude according to the TPB (P < 0.0001). In focus groups, clinicians mentioned that co-interventions such as patient decision aids and training in shared decision-making would facilitate the use of the Dbox information. Some participants would have liked a clear “bottom line” statement for each Dbox and access to printed Dboxes in consultation rooms.
Dboxes are valued by clinicians. Tailoring of Dboxes to their needs would facilitate their implementation in practice.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-014-0144-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4201673  PMID: 25280742
Clinical practice guidelines; Knowledge translation; Decision support; Evidence-based practice; Barriers; Patient-centred care; User experience; Continuing professional development; Communication competency
2.  Electronic retrieval of health information by healthcare providers to improve practice and patient care 
The movement towards evidence-based practice makes explicit the need for access to current best evidence to improve health. Advances in electronic technologies have made health information more available, but does availability affect the rate of use of evidence in practice?
To assess the effectiveness of interventions intended to provide electronic retrieval (access to information) to health information by healthcare providers to improve practice and patient care.
Search methods
We obtained studies from computerized searches of multiple electronic bibliographic databases, supplemented by checking reference lists, and consultation with experts.
Selection criteria
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) including cluster randomized trials (CRCTs), controlled clinical trials (CCT), and interrupted time series analyses (ITS) of any language publication status examining interventions of effectiveness of electronic retrieval of health information by healthcare providers.
Data collection and analysis
Duplicate relevancy screening of searches, data abstraction and risk of bias assessment was undertaken.
Main results
We found two studies that examined this question. Neither study found any changes in professional behavior following an intervention that facilitated electronic retrieval of health information. There was some evidence of improvements in knowledge about the electronic sources of information reported in one study. Neither study assessed changes in patient outcomes or the costs of provision of the electronic resource and the implementation of the recommended evidence-based practices.
Authors’ conclusions
Overall there was insufficient evidence to support or refute the use of electronic retrieval of healthcare information by healthcare providers to improve practice and patient care.
PMCID: PMC4164913  PMID: 19588361
Databases, Bibliographic [utilization]; Evidence-Based Medicine [*statistics & numerical data]; Health Personnel [*statistics & numerical data]; Information Storage and Retrieval [*utilization]; Patient Care; Professional Practice [*standards]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Humans
3.  Facilitators and solutions for practicing optimal guided asthma self-management: The physician perspective 
To identify key solutions that facilitate the prescription of long-term asthma controller and provision of written self-management plans by physicians.
One hour individualized semistructured interviews were conducted with physicians. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed independently by two trained qualitative researchers. A taxonomy of facilitators (contemplated solutions) and experienced solutions was achieved by consensus within the research team.
Forty-two physicians (family physicians, pediatricians, emergency physicians, pulmonologists and allergists) were interviewed. The 867 facilitators and solutions, grouped in 10 categories, addressed three physician needs: support physicians in delivering optimal care (guideline dissemination, workplace culture, physician training and experience, physician attitudes toward optimal practice, tools and resources supporting physicians’ decision making); assist patients with following recommendations (patient characteristics, experiences and attitudes; physician behaviour; and tools and resources supporting patient self-management); and offer efficient services (reorganization of care; interprofessional patient management). Suggestions pertaining to the latter two categories were most frequently cited to optimize asthma management and use of self-management plans (eg, access to self-management plans; education by allied health care professionals). The most cited suggestions to support prescribing long-term controller pertained to physician behaviour (eg, involvement in patient education, personalization of prescriptions, feedback to patients of the benefits of long-term controller). The distribution of facilitators and solutions varied across specialties.
Physicians proposed multiple facilitators and solutions to support optimal practice, leading to the development of a novel taxonomy. Key suggestions varied across physician specialties and behaviours sought, emphasizing the need to carefully select the most promising knowledge translation interventions.
PMCID: PMC3956340  PMID: 23936888
Asthma; Facilitators; Guideline adherence; Knowledge translation; Solutions; Taxonomy
6.  Physician assessments of the value of therapeutic information delivered via e-mail 
Canadian Family Physician  2014;60(5):e258-e262.
Problem addressed
Although e-learning programs are popular and access to electronic knowledge resources has improved, raising awareness about updated therapeutic recommendations in practice continues to be a challenge.
Objective of program
To raise awareness about and document the use of therapeutic recommendations.
Program description
In 2010, family physicians evaluated e-Therapeutics (e-T) Highlights with a Web-based tool called the Information Assessment Method (IAM). The e-T Highlights consisted of information found in the primary care reference e-Therapeutics+. Each week, family physicians received an e-mail containing a link to 1 Highlight from a different chapter of e-Therapeutics+. Family physicians received continuing medical education credits for each Highlight they rated with the IAM. Of the 5346 participants, 85% of them were full-time or part-time practitioners. A total of 31 429 Highlights ratings were received in 2010 (median of 2 ratings per participant, range 1 to 49). Among participants who rated more than 2 Highlights, the median number of ratings was 7 (mean 11.9). The relevance of the information from individual Highlights varied widely; however, for 90% of the rated Highlights participants indicated total or partial relevance of the information for at least 1 patient. For 41% of rated Highlights, participants expected patient health benefits to result from implementing the recommendation, such as avoiding an unnecessary or inappropriate treatment, or a preventive intervention.
This continuing medical education program stimulated family physicians to rate therapeutic recommendations that were delivered weekly via e-mail. The process of rating e-T Highlights with the IAM raised awareness about treatment recommendations and documented self-reported use of this information in practice.
PMCID: PMC4020663  PMID: 24829020
7.  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
8.  Feasibility of a call-in centre to deliver colorectal cancer screening in primary care 
Canadian Family Physician  2013;59(12):e550-e557.
To evaluate the feasibility of a call-in centre to deliver colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in primary care through self-administered fecal occult blood testing (FOBT).
Four-month intervention study (September 2010 to January 2011) with randomly selected follow-up interviews.
The family medicine clinics of 3 hospitals in Montreal, Que.
Letters from doctors invited their patients to contact the call-in centre (N = 761). Eligible patients agreeing to FOBT were sent testing kits that could be returned by mail (N = 100). Randomly selected patients (N = 36) were interviewed to explore the reasons why they did not contact the call-in centre, or why they did or did not adhere to FOBT.
Main outcome measures
Feasibility was assessed by the proportions of patients who contacted the call-in centre, who were eligible for FOBT, and who adhered to FOBT; and by the time between invitation mail-out and contact with the call-in centre, initial telephone contact and receipt of the signed consent form, and FOBT kit mail-out and receipt of the kit by the laboratory. Hierarchical logistic regression evaluated the effect of patient characteristics on feasibility indicators, adjusting for clustering by physician and centre.
Of 761 patients (61.6% female, mean age 61.0 years), 250 (32.9%) contacted the call-in centre, of whom 100 (40.0%) were eligible for and consented to FOBT; 62 (62.0%) of these patients adhered to FOBT. Median (interquartile range) time from invitation mail-out to call-in centre contact was 21 (7 to 29) days, from initial telephone contact to receipt of the signed consent form was 24 (10 to 38) days, and from FOBT kit mail-out to receipt at the laboratory was 23 (18 to 32) days. With the exception of previous cancer diagnosis, patient characteristics were not associated with feasibility indicators. Of the 115 (46.0%) patients determined to be ineligible for FOBT screening, 111 (96.5%) were up to date with or already scheduled for screening.
Feasibility of the call-in centre was demonstrated. Targeting screening-eligible individuals or coupling a call-in service with another evidence-based CRC screening improvement strategy might further improve uptake of fecal testing.
PMCID: PMC3860945  PMID: 24336560
9.  In pursuit of a valid information assessment method for continuing education: a mixed methods study 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:137.
The Information Assessment Method (IAM) is a popular tool for continuing education and knowledge translation. After a search for information, the IAM allows the health professional to report what was the search objective, its cognitive impact, as well as any use and patient health benefit associated with the retrieved health information. In continuing education programs, professionals read health information, rate it using the IAM, and earn continuing education credit for this brief individual reflective learning activity. IAM items have been iteratively developed using literature reviews and qualitative studies. Thus, our research question was: what is the content validity of IAM items from the users’ perspective?
A two-step content validation study was conducted. In Step 1, we followed a mixed methods research design, and assessed the relevance and representativeness of IAM items. In this step, data from a longitudinal quantitative study and a qualitative multiple case study involving 40 family physicians were analyzed. In Step 2, IAM items were analyzed and modified based on a set of guiding principles by a multi-disciplinary expert panel.
The content validity of 16 IAM items was supported, and these items were not changed. Nine other items were modified. Three new items were added, including two that were extensions of an existing item.
A content validated version of the IAM (IAM 2011) is available for the continuing education of health professionals.
PMCID: PMC3842783  PMID: 24094046
Content validity; Continuing medical education; Health informatics; Information assessment method; Primary health care; Knowledge translation
10.  Barriers and facilitators to implementing Decision Boxes in primary healthcare teams to facilitate shared decisionmaking: a study protocol 
Decision Boxes are summaries of the most important benefits and harms of health interventions provided to clinicians before they meet the patient, to prepare them to help patients make informed and value-based decisions. Our objective is to explore the barriers and facilitators to using Decision Boxes in clinical practice, more precisely factors stemming from (1) the Decision Boxes themselves, (2) the primary healthcare team (PHT), and (3) the primary care practice environment.
A two-phase mixed methods study will be conducted. Eight Decision Boxes relevant to primary care, and written in both English and in French, will be hosted on a website together with a tutorial to introduce the Decision Box. The Decision Boxes will be delivered as weekly emails over a span of eight weeks to clinicians of PHTs (family physicians, residents and nurses) in five primary care clinics located across two Canadian provinces. Using a web-questionnaire, clinicians will rate each Decision Box with the Information Assessment Method (cognitive impacts, relevance, usefulness, expected benefits) and with a questionnaire based on the Theory of Planned Behavior to study the determinants of clinicians’ intention to use what they learned from that Decision Box in their patient encounter (attitude, social norm, perceived behavioral control). Web-log data will be used to monitor clinicians’ access to the website. Following the 8-week intervention, we will conduct semi-structured group interviews with clinicians and individual interviews with clinic administrators to explore contextual factors influencing the use of the Decision Boxes. Data collected from questionnaires, focus groups and individual interviews will be combined to identify factors potentially influencing implementation of Decision Boxes in clinical practice by clinicians of PHTs.
This project will allow tailoring of Decision Boxes and their delivery to overcome the specific barriers identified by clinicians of PHTs to improve the implementation of shared decision making in this setting.
PMCID: PMC3472191  PMID: 22867107
(3–10); Evidence-based practice; Continuing professional education; Risk communication; Patient-centered care; Counselling; Clinical topic summary; Decision support; Knowledge translation; Implementation science
11.  Decision boxes for clinicians to support evidence-based practice and shared decision making: the user experience 
This project engages patients and physicians in the development of Decision Boxes, short clinical topic summaries covering medical questions that have no single best answer. Decision Boxes aim to prepare the clinician to communicate the risks and benefits of the available options to the patient so they can make an informed decision together.
Seven researchers (including four practicing family physicians) selected 10 clinical topics relevant to primary care practice through a Delphi survey. We then developed two one-page prototypes on two of these topics: prostate cancer screening with the prostate-specific antigen test, and prenatal screening for trisomy 21 with the serum integrated test. We presented the prototypes to purposeful samples of family physicians distributed in two focus groups, and patients distributed in four focus groups. We used the User Experience Honeycomb to explore barriers and facilitators to the communication design used in Decision Boxes. All discussions were transcribed, and three researchers proceeded to thematic content analysis of the transcriptions. The coding scheme was first developed from the Honeycomb’s seven themes (valuable, usable, credible, useful, desirable, accessible, and findable), and included new themes suggested by the data. Prototypes were modified in light of our findings.
Three rounds were necessary for a majority of researchers to select 10 clinical topics. Fifteen physicians and 33 patients participated in the focus groups. Following analyses, three sections were added to the Decision Boxes: introduction, patient counseling, and references. The information was spread to two pages to try to make the Decision Boxes less busy and improve users’ first impression. To try to improve credibility, we gave more visibility to the research institutions involved in development. A statement on the boxes’ purpose and a flow chart representing the shared decision-making process were added with the intent of clarifying the tool’s purpose. Information about the risks and benefits according to risk levels was added to the Decision Boxes, to try to ease the adaptation of the information to individual patients.
Results will guide the development of the eight remaining Decision Boxes. A future study will evaluate the effect of Decision Boxes on the integration of evidence-based and shared decision making principles in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3533695  PMID: 22862935
Evidence-based medicine; User experience; Risk communication; Usability; Patient-centered care; Counselling; Clinical topic summary; Decision support; Knowledge translation; Communication design
12.  An Online Knowledge Resource and Questionnaires as a Continuing Pharmacy Education Tool to Document Reflective Learning 
Objective. To assess the use of an electronic knowledge resource to document continuing education activities and reveal educational needs of practicing pharmacists.
Methods. Over a 38-week period, 67 e-mails were sent to 6,500 Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) members. Each e-mail contained a link to an e-Therapeutics+ Highlight, a factual excerpt of selected content from an online drug and therapeutic knowledge resource. Participants were then prompted to complete a pop-up questionnaire.
Results. Members completed 4,140 questionnaires. Participants attributed the information they learned in the Highlights to practice improvements (50.4%), learning (57.0%), and motivation to learn more (57.4%).
Conclusions. Reading Highlight excerpts and completing Web-based questionnaires is an effective method of continuing education that could be easily documented and tracked, making it an effective tool for use with e-portfolios.
PMCID: PMC3386033  PMID: 22761523
continuing pharmacy education; electronic knowledge resource; e-portfolio; information assessment method; reflective learning
13.  Effect of a web-based chronic disease management system on asthma control and health-related quality of life: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2011;12:260.
Asthma is a prevalent and costly disease resulting in reduced quality of life for a large proportion of individuals. Effective patient self-management is critical for improving health outcomes. However, key aspects of self-management such as self-monitoring of behaviours and symptoms, coupled with regular feedback from the health care team, are rarely addressed or integrated into ongoing care. Health information technology (HIT) provides unique opportunities to facilitate this by providing a means for two way communication and exchange of information between the patient and care team, and access to their health information, presented in personalized ways that can alert them when there is a need for action. The objective of this study is to evaluate the acceptability and efficacy of using a web-based self-management system, My Asthma Portal (MAP), linked to a case-management system on asthma control, and asthma health-related quality of life.
The trial is a parallel multi-centered 2-arm pilot randomized controlled trial. Participants are randomly assigned to one of two conditions: a) MAP and usual care; or b) usual care alone. Individuals will be included if they are between 18 and 70, have a confirmed asthma diagnosis, and their asthma is classified as not well controlled by their physician. Asthma control will be evaluated by calculating the amount of fast acting beta agonists recorded as dispensed in the provincial drug database, and asthma quality of life using the Mini Asthma Related Quality of Life Questionnaire. Power calculations indicated a needed total sample size of 80 subjects. Data are collected at baseline, 3, 6, and 9 months post randomization. Recruitment started in March 2010 and the inclusion of patients in the trial in June 2010.
Self-management support from the care team is critical for improving chronic disease outcomes. Given the high volume of patients and time constraints during clinical visits, primary care physicians have limited time to teach and reinforce use of proven self-management strategies. HIT has the potential to provide clinicians and a large number of patients with tools to support health behaviour change.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN34326236.
PMCID: PMC3268749  PMID: 22168530
14.  Do Family Physicians Retrieve Synopses of Clinical Research Previously Read as Email Alerts? 
A synopsis of new clinical research highlights important aspects of one study in a brief structured format. When delivered as email alerts, synopses enable clinicians to become aware of new developments relevant for practice. Once read, a synopsis can become a known item of clinical information. In time-pressured situations, remembering a known item may facilitate information retrieval by the clinician. However, exactly how synopses first delivered as email alerts influence retrieval at some later time is not known.
We examined searches for clinical information in which a synopsis previously read as an email alert was retrieved (defined as a dyad). Our study objectives were to (1) examine whether family physicians retrieved synopses they previously read as email alerts and then to (2) explore whether family physicians purposefully retrieved these synopses.
We conducted a mixed-methods study in which a qualitative multiple case study explored the retrieval of email alerts within a prospective longitudinal cohort of practicing family physicians. Reading of research-based synopses was tracked in two contexts: (1) push, meaning to read on email and (2) pull, meaning to read after retrieval from one electronic knowledge resource. Dyads, defined as synopses first read as email alerts and subsequently retrieved in a search of a knowledge resource, were prospectively identified. Participants were interviewed about all of their dyads. Outcomes were the total number of dyads and their type.
Over a period of 341 days, 194 unique synopses delivered to 41 participants resulted in 4937 synopsis readings. In all, 1205 synopses were retrieved over an average of 320 days. Of the 1205 retrieved synopses, 21 (1.7%) were dyads made by 17 family physicians. Of the 1205 retrieved synopses, 6 (0.5%) were known item type dyads. However, dyads also occurred serendipitously.
In the single knowledge resource we studied, email alerts containing research-based synopses were rarely retrieved. Our findings help us to better understand the effect of push on pull and to improve the integration of research-based information within electronic resources for clinicians.
PMCID: PMC3278087  PMID: 22130465
Electronic mail; clinical email channels; information retrieval; physicians, family
15.  Developing and user-testing Decision boxes to facilitate shared decision making in primary care - a study protocol 
Applying evidence is one of the most challenging steps of evidence-based clinical practice. Healthcare professionals have difficulty interpreting evidence and translating it to patients. Decision boxes are summaries of the most important benefits and harms of diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive health interventions provided to healthcare professionals before they meet the patient. Our hypothesis is that Decision boxes will prepare clinicians to help patients make informed value-based decisions. By acting as primers, the boxes will enhance the application of evidence-based practices and increase shared decision making during the clinical encounter. The objectives of this study are to provide a framework for developing Decision boxes and testing their value to users.
We will begin by developing Decision box prototypes for 10 clinical conditions or topics based on a review of the research on risk communication. We will present two prototypes to purposeful samples of 16 family physicians distributed in two focus groups, and 32 patients distributed in four focus groups. We will use the User Experience Model framework to explore users' perceptions of the content and format of each prototype. All discussions will be transcribed, and two researchers will independently perform a hybrid deductive/inductive thematic qualitative analysis of the data. The coding scheme will be developed a priori from the User Experience Model's seven themes (valuable, usable, credible, useful, desirable, accessible and findable), and will include new themes suggested by the data (inductive analysis). Key findings will be triangulated using additional publications on the design of tools to improve risk communication. All 10 Decision boxes will be modified in light of our findings.
This study will produce a robust framework for developing and testing Decision boxes that will serve healthcare professionals and patients alike. It is the first step in the development and implementation of a new tool that should facilitate decision making in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3060840  PMID: 21385470
16.  Many family physicians will not manually update PDA software: an observational study 
Informatics in primary care  2009;17(4):225-230.
In a prospective study to explore connections between clinical information delivery and information retrieval, 41 Canadian family physicians searched an Electronic Knowledge Resource as needed for practice. Research software, called the Information Assessment Method prompted family physicians to report on the situational relevance, perceived cognitive impact, and application of their retrieved information hits. Both the Information Assessment Method and the Electronic Knowledge Resource needed periodic updating to properly address our research questions.
To determine the frequency of software updates when manual or semi-automatic approaches are used by family physicians.
Each family physician received a handheld computer (PDA) that ran the Windows Mobile 6 operating system. For technical reasons, the Information Assessment Method and the Electronic Knowledge Resource were accessed offline on PDA. To update the Electronic Knowledge Resource and the Information Assessment Method, family physicians were asked to synchronize their PDA to their PC. Updating the Information Assessment Method was a manual process, whereas updating the Electronic Knowledge Resource was semi-automatic.
We found: (1) about 25% of family physicians never or rarely updated PDA software on their own (2) a large number of software updates were never installed, and (3) the semi-automatic method was associated with a small increase in the proportion of installed software updates (58.9% versus 48.6% for the manual method).
When a wireless Internet connection is not used to update PDA software, sociotechnical issues complicate mobile data collection and data transfer.
PMCID: PMC2878612  PMID: 20359400 CAMSID: cams799
Computers handheld; software; family practice
17.  Combining classifiers for robust PICO element detection 
Formulating a clinical information need in terms of the four atomic parts which are Population/Problem, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome (known as PICO elements) facilitates searching for a precise answer within a large medical citation database. However, using PICO defined items in the information retrieval process requires a search engine to be able to detect and index PICO elements in the collection in order for the system to retrieve relevant documents.
In this study, we tested multiple supervised classification algorithms and their combinations for detecting PICO elements within medical abstracts. Using the structural descriptors that are embedded in some medical abstracts, we have automatically gathered large training/testing data sets for each PICO element.
Combining multiple classifiers using a weighted linear combination of their prediction scores achieves promising results with an f-measure score of 86.3% for P, 67% for I and 56.6% for O.
Our experiments on the identification of PICO elements showed that the task is very challenging. Nevertheless, the performance achieved by our identification method is competitive with previously published results and shows that this task can be achieved with a high accuracy for the P element but lower ones for I and O elements.
PMCID: PMC2891622  PMID: 20470429
18.  Association between risk factors for injurious falls and new benzodiazepine prescribing in elderly persons 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:1.
Benzodiazepines are frequently prescribed to elderly patients' despite concerns about adverse effects leading to injurious falls. Previous studies have not investigated the extent to which patients with pre-existing risk factors for falls are prescribed benzodiazepines. The objective of this study is to assess if some of the risk factors for falls are associated with new benzodiazepine prescriptions in elderly persons.
Using provincial administrative databases, elderly Quebec residents were screened in 1989 for benzodiazepine use and non-users were followed for up to 5 years. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate potential predictors of new benzodiazepine use among patient baseline characteristics.
In the 252,811 elderly patients who had no benzodiazepine prescription during the baseline year (1989), 174,444 (69%) never filled a benzodiazepine prescription and 78,367 (31%) filled at least one benzodiazepine prescription. In the adjusted analysis, several risk factors for falls were associated with statistically significant increases in the risk of receiving a new benzodiazepine prescription including the number of prescribing physicians seen at baseline (OR: 1.12; 95% CI 1.11–1.13), being female (OR: 1.20; 95% CI 1.18–1.22) or a diagnosis of arthritis (OR: 1.11; 95% CI 1.09–1.14), depression (OR: 1.42; 95% CI 1.35–1.49) or alcohol abuse (OR: 1.24; 95% CI 1.05–1.46). The strongest predictor for starting a benzodiazepine was the use of other medications, particularly anti-depressants (OR: 1.85; 95% CI 1.75–1.95).
Patients with pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of injurious falls are significantly more likely to receive a new prescription for a benzodiazepine. The strength of the association between previous medication use and new benzodiazepine prescriptions highlights an important medication safety issue.
PMCID: PMC2627814  PMID: 19126237
19.  A Randomized Trial of the Effectiveness of On-demand versus Computer-triggered Drug Decision Support in Primary Care 
Prescribing alerts generated by computerized drug decision support (CDDS) may prevent drug-related morbidity. However, the vast majority of alerts are ignored because of clinical irrelevance. The ability to customize commercial alert systems should improve physician acceptance because the physician can select the circumstances and types of drug alerts that are viewed. We tested the effectiveness of two approaches to medication alert customization to reduce prevalence of prescribing problems: on-physician-demand versus computer-triggered decision support. Physicians in each study condition were able to preset levels that triggered alerts.
This was a cluster trial with 28 primary care physicians randomized to either automated or on-demand CDDS in the MOXXI drug management system for 3,449 of their patients seen over the next 6 months.
The CDDS generated alerts for prescribing problems that could be customized by severity level. Prescribing problems included dosing errors, drug–drug, age, allergy, and disease interactions. Physicians randomized to on-demand activated the drug review when they considered it clinically relevant, whereas physicians randomized to computer-triggered decision support viewed all alerts for electronic prescriptions in accordance with the severity level they selected for both prevalent and incident problems. Data from administrative claims and MOXXI were used to measure the difference in the prevalence of prescribing problems at the end of follow-up.
During follow-up, 50% of the physicians receiving computer-triggered alerts modified the alert threshold (n = 7), and 21% of the physicians in the alert-on-demand group modified the alert level (n = 3). In the on-demand group 4,445 prescribing problems were identified, 41 (0.9%) were seen by requested drug review, and in 31 problems (75.6%) the prescription was revised. In comparison, 668 (10.3%) of the 6,505 prescribing problems in the computer-triggered group were seen, and 81 (12.1%) were revised. The majority of alerts were ignored because the benefit was judged greater than the risk, the interaction was known, or the interaction was considered clinically not important (computer-triggered: 75.8% of 585 ignored alerts; on-demand: 90% of 10 ignored alerts). At the end of follow-up, there was a significant reduction in therapeutic duplication problems in the computer-triggered group (odds ratio 0.55; p = 0.02) but no difference in the overall prevalence of prescribing problems.
Customization of computer-triggered alert systems is more useful in detecting and resolving prescribing problems than on-demand review, but neither approach was effective in reducing prescribing problems. New strategies are needed to maximize the use of drug decision support systems to reduce drug-related morbidity.
PMCID: PMC2442270  PMID: 18436904
20.  Impact of Research-based Synopses Delivered as Daily E-mail: A Prospective Observational Study 
We conducted a prospective observational study to (1) determine usage and construct validity of a method to gauge the cognitive impact of information derived from daily e-mail, and (2) describe self-reported impacts of research-based synopses (InfoPOEMs) delivered as e-mail. Ratings of InfoPOEMs using an Impact assessment scale provided (a) data on usage of the impact assessment method, (b) reports of impact by InfoPOEM and by doctor and (c) data for analysis of construct validity of the scale. Participants were family physicians or general practitioners who rated at least five InfoPOEMs delivered on e-mail. For each InfoPOEM rated, 0.1 continuing education credit was awarded by the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
Use of the impact assessment scale linked to a daily InfoPOEM was sustained during the 150-day study period. 1,007 participants submitted 61,493 reports of ‘cognitive impact’ by rating on average 61 InfoPOEMs (range 5–111). ‘I learned something new’ was most frequently reported. ‘I was frustrated as there was not enough information or nothing useful’ was the most frequently reported negative type of impact. The proportion of reports of ‘No Impact’ varied substantially across individual InfoPOEMs. Impact patterns suggested an 8 or 9-factor solution.
Our Impact assessment method facilitates knowledge transfer by promoting two-way exchange between providers of health information and family doctors. Providers of health information can use this method to better understand the impact of research-based synopses. Sustaining current practice and increasing knowledge about new developments in medicine are important outcomes arising from research-based synopses delivered as e-mail, in addition to practice change.
PMCID: PMC2274788  PMID: 18096905
21.  Systematically Assessing the Situational Relevance of Electronic Knowledge Resources: A Mixed Methods Study 
Electronic Knowledge Resources (EKRs) are increasingly used by physicians, but their situational relevance has not been systematically examined.
Systematically scrutinize the situational relevance of EKR-derived information items in and outside clinical settings.
Physicians use EKRs to accomplish four cognitive objectives (C1-4), and three organizational objectives (O1-3): (C1) Answer questions/solve problems/support decision-making in a clinical context; (C2) fulfill educational-research objectives; (C3) search for personal interest or curiosity; (C4) overcome limits of human memory; (O1) share information with patients, families, or caregivers; (O2) exchange information with other health professionals; (O3) plan-manage-monitor tasks with other health professionals.
Longitudinal mixed methods multiple case study: Cases were 17 residents’ critical searches for information, using a commercial EKR, during a 2-month block of family practice. Usage data were automatically recorded. Each “opened” item of information was linked to an impact assessment questionnaire, and 1,981 evaluations of items were documented. Interviews with residents were guided by log files, which tracked use and impact of EKR-derived information items. Thematic analysis identified 156 critical searches linked to 877 information items. For each case, qualitative data were assigned to one of the seven proposed objectives.
Residents achieved their search objectives in 85.9% of cases (situational relevance). Additional sources of information were sought in 52.6% of cases. Results support the seven proposed objectives, levels of comparative relevance (less, equally, more), and levels of stimulation of learning and knowledge (individual, organizational).
Our method of systematic assessment may contribute to user-based evaluation of EKRs.
PMCID: PMC1975787  PMID: 17600105
22.  The Development and Evaluation of an Integrated Electronic Prescribing and Drug Management System for Primary Care 
Objective: To develop and evaluate the acceptability and use of an integrated electronic prescribing and drug management system (MOXXI) for primary care physicians.
Design: A 20-month follow-up study of MOXXI (Medical Office of the XXIst Century) implementation in 28 primary care physicians and 13,515 consenting patients.
Measurement: MOXXI was developed to enhance patient safety by integrating patient demographics, retrieving active drugs from pharmacy systems, generating an automated problem list, and providing electronic prescription, stop order, automated prescribing problem alerts, and compliance monitoring functions. Evaluation of technical performance, acceptability, and use was conducted using audit trails, questionnaires, standardized tasks, and information from comprehensive health insurance databases.
Results: Perceived improvements in continuity of care and professional autonomy were associated with physicians' expected use of MOXXI. Physician speed in using MOXXI improved substantially in the first three months; however, only the represcribing function was faster using MOXXI than by handwritten prescription. Physicians wrote electronic prescriptions in 36.9 per 100 visits and reviewed the patient's drug profile in 12.6 per 100 visits. Physicians rated printed prescriptions, the current drug list, and the represcribing function as the most beneficial aspects of the system. Physicians were more likely to use the drug profile for patients who used more medication, made more emergency department visits, had more prescribing physicians, and lower continuity of care.
Conclusion: Primary care physicians believed an integrated electronic prescribing and drug management system would improve continuity of care, and they were more likely to use the system for patients with more complex, fragmented care.
PMCID: PMC1447542  PMID: 16357357
23.  Cognitive Impact Assessment of Electronic Knowledge Resources: A Mixed Methods Evaluation Study of a Handheld Prototype 
We recently proposed a new method to systematically assess the cognitive impact of knowledge resources on health professionals.
To describe promises and shortcomings of a handheld computer prototype of this method.
We developed an impact scale, and combined this scale with a Computerized Ecological Momentary Assessment technique.
We conducted a mixed methods evaluation study using a 7-item scale within a questionnaire linked to a commercial knowledge resource. Over two months of Family Medicine training, 17 residents assessed the impact of 1,981 information hits retrieved on handheld computer. From observations, log-reports, archives of hits and interviews, we examined issues associated with hardware, software and the questionnaire.
Fifteen residents found the questionnaire clearly written, and only one pointed to the questionnaire as a major reason for their low level of use of the resource. Residents reported technical problems (e.g. screen trouble) or limitations (e.g. limited tracking function) and socio-technical issues (e.g. software dependency).
Lessons from this study suggest improvements to guide future implementation of our method for assessing the cognitive impact of knowledge resources on health professionals.
PMCID: PMC1839687  PMID: 17238418
24.  A New Impact Assessment Method to Evaluate Knowledge Resources 
Methods to systematically measure the impact of knowledge resources on health professionals would enhance evaluation of these resources in the real world.
To propose a new impact assessment method.
We demonstrated the feasibility of combining a 4-level scale with Computerized Ecological Momentary Assessment (CEMA) for efficiently measuring the impact of a knowledge resource.
We critically reviewed the world literature regarding the impact of clinical information-retrieval technology on trainees and doctors, and retained 26 papers for qualitative content analysis.
Of those, 21 use a nominal scale (yes/no), none systematically measures the impact of searches for information outside of a laboratory setting, and none uses an ordinal scale. The literature supports the proposed levels of impact, and suggests a fifth level.
A new impact assessment method is proposed, which combines a 5-level revised scale and CEMA.
PMCID: PMC1560543  PMID: 16779112
25.  Cochrane reviews not so useful. 
PMCID: PMC2214109  PMID: 12371299

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