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1.  Low Back Pain in Primary Care: A Description of 1250 Patients with Low Back Pain in Danish General and Chiropractic Practice 
Study Design. Baseline description of a multicenter cohort study. Objective. To describe patients with low back pain (LBP) in both chiropractic and general practice in Denmark. Background. To optimize standards of care in the primary healthcare sector, detailed knowledge of the patient populations in different settings is needed. In Denmark, most LBP-patients access primary healthcare through chiropractic or general practice. Methods. Chiropractors and general practitioners recruited adult patients seeking care for LBP. Extensive baseline questionnaires were obtained and descriptive analyses presented separately for general and chiropractic practice patients, Mann-Whitney rank sum test and Pearson's chi-square test, were used to test for differences between the two populations. Results. Questionnaires were returned from 934 patients in chiropractic practice and 319 patients from general practice. Four out of five patients had had previous episodes, one-fourth were on sick leave, and the LBP considerably limited daily activities. The general practice patients were slightly older and less educated, more often females, and generally worse on all disease-related parameters than chiropractic patients. All differences were statistically significant. Conclusions. LBP in primary care was recurrent, causing sick leave and activity limitations. There were clear differences between the chiropractic and general practice populations in this study.
PMCID: PMC4236958  PMID: 25436149
2.  The Danish Symptom Cohort: Questionnaire and Feasibility in the Nationwide Study on Symptom Experience and Healthcare-Seeking among 100 000 Individuals 
Introduction. In order to develop strategies to prevent delay in diagnosis, it is important to gain knowledge of symptoms and healthcare-seeking processes in the population. This paper describes a combined survey and register-based study with (1) focus on development of a questionnaire concerning experience of symptoms and subsequent consequences and (2) feasibility of the study. Methods. The study is a nationwide cohort study of 100 000 individuals randomly selected from the Danish general population. A comprehensive questionnaire concerning experience of symptoms and subsequent consequences was developed. The methodological framework for the development included defining the domains to be measured, identification of previous items, scales and questionnaires in the literature, and pilot and field testing. Results. A total of five domains and 16 subdomains were defined covering the area of symptom experience, symptom characteristics, reaction in response to symptom experience, external factors, and personality characteristics with potential influence on the symptom experience. In total, 49 706 questionnaires were completed, yielding a response rate of 52.2%. Conclusion. We developed a comprehensive questionnaire used in a large combined survey and register-based study concerning experience of symptoms and subsequent consequences of symptom experiences. We succeeded in conducting a large survey providing the groundwork for The Danish Symptom Cohort.
PMCID: PMC4132324  PMID: 25147736
3.  Multiple perspectives on symptom interpretation in primary care research 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:167.
Assessment and management of symptoms is a main task in primary care. Symptoms may be defined as 'any subjective evidence of a health problem as perceived by the patient’. In other words, symptoms do not appear as such; symptoms are rather the result of an interpretation process. We aim to discuss different perspectives on symptom interpretation as presented in the disciplines of biomedicine, psychology and anthropology and the possible implications for our understanding of research on symptoms in relation to prevalence and diagnosis in the general population and in primary care.
Symptom experiences are embedded in a complex interplay between biological, psychological and cultural factors. From a biomedical perspective, symptoms are seen as possible indicators of disease and are characterized by parameters related to seriousness (e.g. appearance, severity, impact and temporal aspects). However, such symptom characteristics are rarely unambiguous, but merely indicate disease probability. In addition, the GP’s interpretation of presenting symptoms will also be influenced by other factors. From a psychological perspective, factors affecting interpretation are in focus (e.g. internal frame of reference, attention to sensations, illness perception and susceptibility to suggestion). These individual factors cannot stand alone either, but are influenced by the surroundings. Anthropological research suggests that personal experiences and culture form a continuous feedback relationship which influence when and how sensations are understood as symptoms of disease and acted upon.
The different approaches to symptom interpretation imply that we need to be cautious and conscious when interpreting survey findings that are based on symptom prevalence in the general population or in primary care. These findings will reflect a variety of interpretations of sensations, which are not equivalent to expressions of underlying disease. Furthermore, if diagnosis of disease is based exclusively on the presence of specific symptom characteristics, we may risk reinforcing a dualistic approach, including medicalisation of normal phenomena and devaluation of medically unexplained symptoms. Future research in primary care could gain from exploring symptoms as a generic phenomenon and raised awareness of symptom complexity.
PMCID: PMC4228340  PMID: 24188544
Symptom research; Signs and symptoms; Symptom assessment; Interdisciplinary studies; General practice; Medicine; Psychology; Anthropology
4.  Comparison of the medical students’ perceived self-efficacy and the evaluation of the observers and patients 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:49.
The accuracy of self-assessment has been questioned in studies comparing physicians’ self-assessments to observed assessments; however, none of these studies used self-efficacy as a method for self-assessment.
The aim of the study was to investigate how medical students’ perceived self-efficacy of specific communication skills corresponds to the evaluation of simulated patients and observers.
All of the medical students who signed up for an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) were included. As a part of the OSCE, the student performance in the “parent-physician interaction” was evaluated by a simulated patient and an observer at one of the stations. After the examination the students were asked to assess their self-efficacy according to the same specific communication skills.
The Calgary Cambridge Observation Guide formed the basis for the outcome measures used in the questionnaires.
A total of 12 items was rated on a Likert scale from 1–5 (strongly disagree to strongly agree).
We used extended Rasch models for comparisons between the groups of responses of the questionnaires. Comparisons of groups were conducted on dichotomized responses.
Eighty-four students participated in the examination, 87% (73/84) of whom responded to the questionnaire. The response rate for the simulated patients and the observers was 100%.
Significantly more items were scored in the highest categories (4 and 5) by the observers and simulated patients compared to the students (observers versus students: -0.23; SE:0.112; p=0.002 and patients versus students:0.177; SE:0.109; p=0.037). When analysing the items individually, a statistically significant difference only existed for two items.
This study showed that students scored their communication skills lower compared to observers or simulated patients. The differences were driven by only 2 of 12 items.
The results in this study indicate that self-efficacy based on the Calgary Cambridge Observation guide seems to be a reliable tool.
PMCID: PMC3706304  PMID: 23565905
Self-assessment; Self-efficacy; Calgary Cambridge observation guide; Communication skills training
5.  Impact of effectiveness information format on patient choice of therapy and satisfaction with decisions about chronic disease medication: the "Influence of intervention Methodologies on Patient Choice of Therapy (IMPACT)" cluster-randomised trial in general practice 
Risk communication is an integral part of shared decision-making in health care. In the context of interventions for chronic diseases it represents a particular challenge for all health practitioners. By using two different quantitative formats to communicate risk level and effectiveness of a cholesterol-lowering drug, we posed the research question: how does the format of risk information influence patients’ decisions concerning therapy, patients’ satisfaction with the communication as well as confidence in the decision. We hypothesise that patients are less prone to accept therapy when the benefits of long-term intervention are presented in terms of prolongation of life (POL) in months compared to the absolute risk reduction (ARR). We hypothesise that patients presented with POL will be more satisfied with the communication and confident in their decision, suggesting understanding of the time-related term.
In 2009 a sample of 328 general practitioners (GPs) in the Region of Southern Denmark was invited to participate in a primary care-based clinical trial among patients making real-life clinical decisions together with their GP. Interested GPs were cluster-randomised to inform patients about cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk and the effectiveness of statin therapy using either POL or ARR. The GPs attended a training session before informing their patients. Before training and after the trial period they received a questionnaire about their attitudes to risk communication and the use of numerical information. Patients’ redemptions of statin prescriptions will be registered in a regional prescription database to evaluate a possible association between redemption rates and effectiveness format. The Combined Outcome Measure for Risk Communication And Treatment Decision Making Effectiveness (COMRADE) questionnaire will be used to measure patients’ confidence and satisfaction with the risk communication immediately after the conversation with their GPs.
This randomised clinical trial compares the impact of two effectiveness formats on real-life risk communication between patients and GPs, including affective patient outcomes and actual choices about acceptance of therapy. Though we found difficulties in recruiting GPs, according to the study protocol we have succeeded in engaging sufficient GPs for the trial, enabling us to perform the planned analyses.
Trial registration Protocol Registration System
PMCID: PMC3599428  PMID: 23442351
RCT; Shared decision making; Risk communication; Prognosis; Absolute risk reduction; Prolongation of life; Cardiovascular disease; Primary prevention; Health behaviour; General practice
6.  Prevalence and management of patients using medication targeting obstructive lung disease: A cross-sectional study in primary healthcare in Greenland 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2013;72:10.3402/ijch.v72i0.20108.
The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalent use of drugs targeting obstructive lung diseases among adults aged 50 or above in Greenland and to assess the use of spirometry testing among these medication users.
Study design
Observational cross-sectional study based on reviews of electronic medical records.
The study was performed in the 6 largest primary healthcare clinics in Greenland, representing approximately 67.0% of the population in Greenland. Adults aged 50 years or above, who had at least one electronically prescribed drug targeting obstructive lung diseases within a 15-month time interval, were identified. We assessed whether a spirometry test was registered in their medical records within previous 2- and 4-year periods.
A total of 565 persons were identified. This corresponds to a prevalent medication use of 6.1% (565/9,023) among adults aged 50 years or above. Among these medication users, 14.1% (80/565) had a spirometry test performed within 2 years. Within the 4-year period this increased to 17.9% (101/565).
The use of medication targeting obstructive lung diseases in Greenland among adults aged 50 years or above is common. However, spirometry testing among medication users is low and interventions aiming to increase focus on spirometry testing should be integrated in the primary healthcare system.
PMCID: PMC3585771  PMID: 23467651
Greenland; Inuit; Arctic; chronic obstructive lung disease; primary healthcare; quality
7.  Associations between reporting of cancer alarm symptoms and socioeconomic and demographic determinants: a population-based, cross-sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2012;12:686.
Reporting of symptoms which may signal cancer is the first step in the diagnostic pathway of cancer diseases. Cancer alarm symptoms are common in the general population. Public awareness and knowledge of cancer symptoms are sparse, however, and many people do not seek medical help when having possible cancer symptoms. As social inequality is associated with cancer knowledge, cancer awareness, and information-seeking, our hypothesis is that social inequality may also exist in the general population with respect to reporting of cancer alarm symptoms. The aim of this study was to investigate possible associations between socioeconomic and demographic determinants and reporting of common cancer alarm symptoms.
A cross-sectional questionnaire survey was performed based on a stratified sample of the Danish general population. A total of 13 777 randomly selected persons aged 20 years and older participated. Our main outcome measures were weighted prevalence estimates of self-reporting one of the following cancer alarm symptoms during the preceding 12 months: a lump in the breast, coughing for more than 6 weeks, seen blood in urine, or seen blood in stool. Logistic regression models were used to calculate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals for the associations between each covariate and reporting of cancer alarm symptoms.
A total of 2 098 (15.7%) of the participants reported one or more cancer alarm symptoms within the preceding 12 months.
Women, subjects out of the workforce, and subjects with a cancer diagnosis had statistically significantly higher odds of reporting one or more cancer alarm symptoms. Subjects with older age and subjects living with a partner had lower odds of reporting one or more cancer alarm symptoms. When analysing the four alarm symptoms of cancer separately most tendencies persisted.
Socioeconomic and demographic determinants are associated with self-reporting of common cancer alarm symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3560107  PMID: 22914003
Breast cancer; Colorectal cancer; Cross-sectional survey; Lung cancer; Socioeconomic factors; Signs and symptoms; Urinary tract cancer
8.  Medication effectiveness may not be the major reason for accepting cardiovascular preventive medication: A population-based survey 
Shared decision-making and patients’ choice of interventions are areas of increasing importance, not least seen in the light of the fact that chronic conditions are increasing, interventions considered important for public health, and still non-acceptance of especially risk-reducing treatments of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) is prevalent. A better understanding of patients’ medication-taking behavior is needed and may be reached by studying the reasons why people accept or decline medication recommendations. The aim of this paper was to identify factors that may influence people’s decisions and reasoning for accepting or declining a cardiovascular preventive medication offer.
From a random sample of 4,000 people aged 40–59 years in a Danish population, 1,169 participants were asked to imagine being at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and being offered a preventive medication. After receiving ‘complete’ information about effectiveness of the medication they were asked whether they would accept medication. Finally, they were asked about reasons for the decision.
A total of 725 (67%) of 1,082 participants accepted the medication offer. Even quite large effects of medication (up to 8 percentage points absolute risk reduction) had a smaller impact on acceptance to medication than personal experience with cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, increasing age of the participant and living with a partner were significantly associated with acceptance. Some 45% of the respondents accepting justified their choice as being for health reasons, and they were more likely to be women, live alone, have higher income and higher education levels. Among those who did not accept the medication offer, 56% indicated that they would rather prefer to change lifestyle.
Medication effectiveness seems to have a moderate influence on people’s decisions to accept preventive medication, while factors such as personal experience with cardiovascular disease may have an equally strong or stronger influence, indicating that practitioners could do well to carefully identify the reasons for their patients’ treatment decisions.
PMCID: PMC3465182  PMID: 22873796
Decision-making; Risk assessment; Risk communication; Preventive health services; Primary prevention; Cardiovascular disease; Health behavior
9.  Prevalence of the use of antihypertensive medications in Greenland: a study of quality of care amongst patients treated with antihypertensive drugs 
International Journal of Circumpolar Health  2012;71:10.3402/ijch.v71i0.18834.
The primary objective was to estimate the prevalence of patients diagnosed with hypertension using the proxy marker of antihypertensive drug therapy in Greenland and to compare the prevalences within the 5 health regions in Greenland. The second objective was to review 2 quality indicators in antihypertensive care.
Study design
Observational and cross-sectional study reviewing electronic medical records.
Information about age and gender was collected from all patients receiving antihypertensive drug prescriptions within a 2-year period prior to the data extraction in January 2011. Only patients aged 20 or above were included. The age- and gender-specific prevalence of patients in antihypertensive treatment was calculated using the population as it was 1 January 2010 in Greenland as background population. A subsample consisting of patients in antihypertensive treatment aged 20 or above born within the first 5 days of each month was identified. Review of electronic medical records 1 year back in time (1 January 2010 onwards) was carried out and information on blood pressure obtained. The quality of care was evaluated with respect to 2 indicators: follow-up management and blood pressure level, respectively.
The total number of patients in treatment with antihypertensive drugs was 4,462 (1,998 males and 2,464 females) corresponding to a prevalence of 11.4% (4,462/39,231). The prevalence was higher among females than among males. The prevalence increased with age and differed among the 5 health regions. The percentage of patients in antihypertensive treatment with minimum 1 follow-up visit within 1 year (blood pressure measured and registered in a health clinic) was only 77.7%. Some 45% of patients in antihypertensive treatment achieved blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg.
Hypertension is a common disorder in Greenland. The quality of antihypertensive care is suboptimal and leaves room for improvement. A national strategy based on guidelines, use of electronic drug prescriptions and recording of blood pressures combined with continuous monitoring the quality is recommended in order to prevent complications of untreated hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3417658  PMID: 22957317
Greenland; Inuit; Arctic; hypertension; primary health care; quality
10.  Prevalence of cancer alarm symptoms: A population-based cross-sectional study 
To estimate the prevalence of alarm symptoms for breast, colorectal, urinary tract, and lung cancer in the general population.
Cross-sectional questionnaire survey.
The former County of Funen, Denmark, with 480 000 inhabitants.
A total of 13 777 randomly selected persons aged 20 years and older.
Main outcome measures
Prevalence estimates of having experienced cancer alarm symptoms during the past 12 months: a lump in the breast, blood in bowel movements, blood in urine, or coughing for more than six weeks. The number of alarm symptoms experienced within the past 12 months was also calculated.
With a response rate of 69%, 3.3% of responders (95% CI 2.9% to 3.7%) reported a lump in their breast, 5.7% (5.2% to 6.3%) reported blood in bowel movements, 2.2% (1.9% to 2.5%) reported blood in urine, and 6.5% (6.1% to 7.5%) reported coughing for more than six weeks within the past 12 months. Overall, 15.3% (95% confidence interval 14.3% to 16.3%) of the females and 12.7% (11.6% to 13.7%) of the males reported having experienced at least one cancer alarm symptom within the past 12 months.
Alarm symptoms of breast, colorectal, urinary tract, and lung cancer are common in the general population and approximately 15% of the population have experienced at least one of these cancer alarm symptom within the past 12 months.
PMCID: PMC3442327  PMID: 20698729
Breast cancer; colorectal cancer; cross-sectional survey; health surveys; lung cancer; signs and symptoms; urinary tract cancer

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