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1.  Perceived barriers and facilitators to increasing physical activity among people with musculoskeletal disorders: a qualitative investigation to inform intervention development 
Musculoskeletal conditions can impair people’s ability to undertake physical activity as they age. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate perceived barriers and facilitators to undertaking physical activity reported by patients accessing ambulatory hospital clinics for musculoskeletal disorders.
Patients and methods
A questionnaire with open-ended items was administered to patients (n=217, 73.3% of 296 eligible) from three clinics providing ambulatory services for nonsurgical treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. The survey included questions to capture the clinical and demographic characteristics of the sample. It also comprised two open-ended questions requiring qualitative responses. The first asked the participant to describe factors that made physical activity more difficult, and the second asked which factors made it easier for them to be physically active. Participants’ responses to the two open-ended questions were read, coded, and thematically analyzed independently by two researchers, with a third researcher available to arbitrate any unresolved disagreement.
The mean (standard deviation) age of participants was 53 (15) years; n=113 (52.1%) were male. A total of 112 (51.6%) participants reported having three or more health conditions; n=140 (64.5%) were classified as overweight or obese. Five overarching themes describing perceived barriers for undertaking physical activity were “health conditions”, “time restrictions”, “poor physical condition”, “emotional, social, and psychological barriers”, and “access to exercise opportunities”. Perceived physical activity facilitators were also aligned under five themes, namely “improved health state”, “social, emotional, and behavioral supports”, “access to exercise environment”, “opportunities for physical activities”, and “time availability”.
It was clear from the breadth of the data that meaningful supports and interventions must be multidimensional. They should have the capacity to address a variety of physical, functional, social, psychological, motivational, environmental, lifestyle, and other perceived barriers. It would appear that for such interventions to be effective, they should be flexible enough to address a variety of specific concerns.
PMCID: PMC4264601  PMID: 25584023
exercise; pain; comorbidity; lifestyle; sedentary; behavior
2.  Patients Undergoing Subacute Physical Rehabilitation following an Acute Hospital Admission Demonstrated Improvement in Cognitive Functional Task Independence 
The Scientific World Journal  2014;2014:810418.
Objective. This study investigated cognitive functioning among older adults with physical debility not attributable to an acute injury or neurological condition who were receiving subacute inpatient physical rehabilitation. Design. A cohort investigation with assessments at admission and discharge. Setting. Three geriatric rehabilitation hospital wards. Participants. Consecutive rehabilitation admissions (n = 814) following acute hospitalization (study criteria excluded orthopaedic, neurological, or amputation admissions). Intervention. Usual rehabilitation care. Measurements. The Functional Independence Measure (FIM) Cognitive and Motor items. Results. A total of 704 (86.5%) participants (mean age = 76.5 years) completed both assessments. Significant improvement in FIM Cognitive items (Z-score range 3.93–8.74, all P < 0.001) and FIM Cognitive total score (Z-score = 9.12, P < 0.001) occurred, in addition to improvement in FIM Motor performance. A moderate positive correlation existed between change in Motor and Cognitive scores (Spearman's rho = 0.41). Generalized linear modelling indicated that better cognition at admission (coefficient = 0.398, P < 0.001) and younger age (coefficient = −0.280, P < 0.001) were predictive of improvement in Motor performance. Younger age (coefficient = −0.049, P < 0.001) was predictive of improvement in FIM Cognitive score. Conclusions. Improvement in cognitive functioning was observed in addition to motor function improvement among this population. Causal links cannot be drawn without further research.
PMCID: PMC4270116  PMID: 25544961
3.  Reliability of a wellness inventory for use among adolescent females aged 12–14 years 
BMC Women's Health  2014;14:87.
The wellness construct has application in a number of fields including education, healthcare and counseling, particularly with regard to female adolescents. The effective measurement of wellness in adolescents can assist researchers and practitioners in determining lifestyle behaviors in which they are lacking. Behavior change interventions can then be designed which directly aid in the promotion of these areas.
The 5-Factor Wellness Inventory (designed to measure the Indivisible Self model of wellness) is a popular instrument for measuring the broad aspects of wellness amongst adolescents. The instrument comprises 97 items contributing to 17 subscales, five dimension scores, four context scores, total wellness score, and a life satisfaction index. This investigation evaluated the test-retest (intra-rater) reliability of the 5F-Wel instrument in repeated assessments (seven days apart) among adolescent females aged 12–14 years. Percentages of exact agreement for individual items, and the number of respondents who scored within ±5, ±7.5 and ±10 points for total wellness and the five summary dimension scores were calculated.
Overall, 46 (95.8%) participants responded with complete data and were included in the analysis. Item agreement ranged from 47.8% to 100% across the 97 items (median 69.9%, interquartile range 60.9%-73.9%). The percentage of respondents who scored within ±5, ±7.5 and ±10 points for total wellness at the re-assessment was 87.0%, 97.8% and 97.8% respectively. The percentage of respondents who scored within ±5, ±7.5 and ±10 for the domain scores at the reassessment ranged between 54.3-76.1%, 78.3-95.7% and 89.1-95.7% respectively across the five dimensions.
These findings suggest there was considerable variation in agreement between the two assessments on some individual items. However, the total wellness score and the five dimension summary scores remained comparatively stable between assessments.
PMCID: PMC4110524  PMID: 25043255
Wellness; Inventory; Reliability; Adolescent; Female; Test-retest
4.  Age, physical inactivity, obesity, health conditions, and health-related quality of life among patients receiving conservative management for musculoskeletal disorders 
Musculoskeletal conditions and insufficient physical activity have substantial personal and economic costs among contemporary aging societies. This study examined the age distribution, comorbid health conditions, body mass index (BMI), self-reported physical activity levels, and health-related quality of life of patients accessing ambulatory hospital clinics for musculoskeletal disorders. The study also investigated whether comorbidity, BMI, and self-reported physical activity were associated with patients’ health-related quality of life after adjusting for age as a potential confounder.
A cross-sectional survey was undertaken in three ambulatory hospital clinics for musculoskeletal disorders. Participants (n=224) reported their reason for referral, age, comorbid health conditions, BMI, physical activity levels (Active Australia Survey), and health-related quality of life (EQ-5D). Descriptive statistics and linear modeling were used to examine the associations between age, comorbidity, BMI, intensity and duration of physical activity, and health-related quality of life.
The majority of patients (n=115, 51.3%) reported two or more comorbidities. In addition to other musculoskeletal conditions, common comorbidities included depression (n=41, 18.3%), hypertension (n=40, 17.9%), and diabetes (n=39, 17.4%). Approximately one-half of participants (n=110, 49.1%) self-reported insufficient physical activity to meet minimum recommended guidelines and 150 (67.0%) were overweight (n=56, 23.2%), obese (n=64, 28.6%), severely obese (n=16, 7.1%), or very severely obese (n=14, 6.3%), with a higher proportion of older patients affected. A generalized linear model indicated that, after adjusting for age, self-reported physical activity was positively associated (z=4.22, P<0.001), and comorbidities were negatively associated (z=−2.67, P<0.01) with patients’ health-related quality of life.
Older patients were more frequently affected by undesirable clinical attributes of comorbidity, obesity, and physical inactivity. However, findings from this investigation are compelling for the care of patients of all ages. Potential integration of physical activity behavior change or other effective lifestyle interventions into models of care for patients with musculoskeletal disorders is worthy of further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4099103  PMID: 25031532
aging; comorbidity; physical activity; orthopedic; sedentary; overweight
5.  Radiographic imaging for traumatic ankle injuries: a demand profile and investigation of radiological reporting timeframes from an Australian tertiary facility 
Radiographic examinations of the ankle are important in the clinical management of ankle injuries in hospital emergency departments. National (Australian) Emergency Access Targets (NEAT) stipulate that 90 percent of presentations should leave the emergency department within 4 hours. For a radiological report to have clinical usefulness and relevance to clinical teams treating patients with ankle injuries in emergency departments, the report would need to be prepared and available to the clinical team within the NEAT 4 hour timeframe; before the patient has left the emergency department. However, little is known about the demand profile of ankle injuries requiring radiographic examination or time until radiological reports are available for this clinical group in Australian public hospital emergency settings.
This study utilised a prospective cohort of consecutive cases of ankle examinations from patients (n = 437) with suspected traumatic ankle injuries presenting to the emergency department of a tertiary hospital facility. Time stamps from the hospital Picture Archiving and Communication System were used to record the timing of three processing milestones for each patient’s radiographic examination; the time of image acquisition, time of a provisional radiological report being made available for viewing by referring clinical teams, and time of final verification of radiological report.
Radiological reports and all three time stamps were available for 431 (98.6%) cases and were included in analysis. The total time between image acquisition and final radiological report verification exceeded 4 hours for 404 (92.5%) cases. The peak demand for radiographic examination of ankles was on weekend days, and in the afternoon and evening. The majority of examinations were provisionally reported and verified during weekday daytime shift hours.
Provisional or final radiological reports were frequently not available within 4 hours of image acquisition among this sample. Effective and cost-efficient strategies to improve the support provided to referring clinical teams from medical imaging departments may enhance emergency care interventions for people presenting to emergency departments with ankle injuries; particularly those with imaging findings that may be challenging for junior clinical staff to interpret without a definitive radiological report.
PMCID: PMC4039056  PMID: 24883110
Ankle; Radiology; Radiograph; Reporting; Demand; X-ray; Emergency; Trauma; Orthopaedic; Fracture
6.  A survey of radiographers' confidence and self-perceived accuracy in frontline image interpretation and their continuing educational preferences 
The provision of a written comment on traumatic abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system detected by radiographers can assist referrers and may improve patient management, but the practice has not been widely adopted outside the United Kingdom. The purpose of this study was to investigate Australian radiographers' perceptions of their readiness for practice in a radiographer commenting system and their educational preferences in relation to two different delivery formats of image interpretation education, intensive and non-intensive.
A cross-sectional web-based questionnaire was implemented between August and September 2012. Participants included radiographers with experience working in emergency settings at four Australian metropolitan hospitals. Conventional descriptive statistics, frequency histograms, and thematic analysis were undertaken. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test examined whether a difference in preference ratings between intensive and non-intensive education delivery was evident.
The questionnaire was completed by 73 radiographers (68% response rate). Radiographers reported higher confidence and self-perceived accuracy to detect traumatic abnormalities than to describe traumatic abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system. Radiographers frequently reported high desirability ratings for both the intensive and the non-intensive education delivery, no difference in desirability ratings for these two formats was evident (z = 1.66, P = 0.11).
Some Australian radiographers perceive they are not ready to practise in a frontline radiographer commenting system. Overall, radiographers indicated mixed preferences for image interpretation education delivered via intensive and non-intensive formats. Further research, preferably randomised trials, investigating the effectiveness of intensive and non-intensive education formats of image interpretation education for radiographers is warranted.
PMCID: PMC4175834
Education; emergency; image interpretation; radiographers
7.  A stepped-wedge cluster randomised controlled trial for evaluating rates of falls among inpatients in aged care rehabilitation units receiving tailored multimedia education in addition to usual care: a trial protocol 
BMJ Open  2014;4(1):e004195.
Falls are the most frequent adverse event reported in hospitals. Approximately 30% of in-hospital falls lead to an injury and up to 2% result in a fracture. A large randomised trial found that a trained health professional providing individualised falls prevention education to older inpatients reduced falls in a cognitively intact subgroup. This study aims to investigate whether this efficacious intervention can reduce falls and be clinically useful and cost-effective when delivered in the real-life clinical environment.
A stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial will be used across eight subacute units (clusters) which will be randomised to one of four dates to start the intervention. Usual care on these units includes patient's screening, assessment and implementation of individualised falls prevention strategies, ongoing staff training and environmental strategies. Patients with better levels of cognition (Mini-Mental State Examination >23/30) will receive the individualised education from a trained health professional in addition to usual care while patient's feedback received during education sessions will be provided to unit staff. Unit staff will receive training to assist in intervention delivery and to enhance uptake of strategies by patients. Falls data will be collected by two methods: case note audit by research assistants and the hospital falls reporting system. Cluster-level data including patient's admissions, length of stay and diagnosis will be collected from hospital systems. Data will be analysed allowing for correlation of outcomes (clustering) within units. An economic analysis will be undertaken which includes an incremental cost-effectiveness analysis.
Ethics and dissemination
The study was approved by The University of Notre Dame Australia Human Research Ethics Committee and local hospital ethics committees.
The results will be disseminated through local site networks, and future funding and delivery of falls prevention programmes within WA Health will be informed. Results will also be disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and medical conferences.
Trial registration
The study is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials registry (ACTRN12612000877886).
PMCID: PMC3902351  PMID: 24430881
Geriatric Medicine; Health Economics
8.  Physical activity and health-related quality of life among physiotherapists: a cross sectional survey in an Australian hospital and health service 
Physiotherapists are a professional group with a high rate of attrition and at high risk of musculoskeletal disorders. The purpose of this investigation was to examine the physical activity levels and health-related quality of life of physiotherapists working in metropolitan clinical settings in an Australian hospital and health service. It was hypothesized that practicing physiotherapists would report excellent health-related quality of life and would already be physically active. Such a finding would add weight to a claim that general physical activity conditioning strategies may not be useful for preventing musculoskeletal disorders among active healthy physiotherapists, but rather, future investigations should focus on the development and evaluation of role specific conditioning strategies.
A questionnaire was completed by 44 physiotherapists from three inpatient units and three ambulatory clinics (63.7% response rate). Physical activity levels were reported using the Active Australia Survey. Health-related quality of life was examined using the EQ-5D instrument. Physical activity and EQ-5D data were examined using conventional descriptive statistics; with domain responses for the EQ-5D presented in a frequency histogram.
The majority of physiotherapists in this sample were younger than 30 years of age (n = 25, 56.8%) consistent with the presence of a high attrition rate. Almost all respondents exceeded minimum recommended physical activity guidelines (n = 40, 90.9%). Overall the respondents engaged in more vigorous physical activity (median = 180 minutes) and walking (median = 135 minutes) than moderate exercise (median = 35 minutes) each week. Thirty-seven (84.1%) participants reported no pain or discomfort impacting their health-related quality of life, with most (n = 35,79.5%) being in full health.
Physical-conditioning based interventions for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders among practicing physiotherapists may be better targeted to role or task specific conditioning rather than general physical conditioning among this physically active population. It is plausible that an inherent attrition of physiotherapists may occur among those not as active or healthy as therapists who cope with the physical demands of clinical practice. Extrapolation of findings from this study may be limited due to the sample characteristics. However, this investigation addressed the study objectives and has provided a foundation for larger scale longitudinal investigations in this field.
PMCID: PMC3896696  PMID: 24405934
Physical activity; Work related musculoskeletal disorders; Physiotherapists; Prevention; Injury; Attrition; Quality of life; Workforce; Australian
9.  Physiotherapists Have Accurate Expectations of Their Patients' Future Health-Related Quality of Life after First Assessment in a Subacute Rehabilitation Setting 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:340371.
Background. Expectations held by health professionals and their patients are likely to affect treatment choices in subacute inpatient rehabilitation settings for older adults. There is a scarcity of empirical evidence evaluating whether health professionals expectations of the quality of their patients' future health states are accurate. Methods. A prospective longitudinal cohort investigation was implemented to examine agreement (kappa coefficients, exact agreement, limits-of-agreement, and intraclass-correlation coefficients) between physiotherapists' (n = 23) prediction of patients' discharge health-related quality of life (reported on the EQ-5D-3L) and the actual health-related quality of life self-reported by patients (n = 272) at their discharge assessment (using the EQ-5D-3L). The mini-mental state examination was used as an indicator of patients' cognitive ability. Results. Overall, 232 (85%) patients had all assessment data completed and were included in analysis. Kappa coefficients (exact agreement) ranged between 0.37–0.57 (58%–83%) across EQ-5D-3L domains in the lower cognition group and 0.53–0.68 (81%–85%) in the better cognition group. Conclusions. Physiotherapists in this subacute rehabilitation setting predicted their patients' discharge health-related quality of life with substantial accuracy. Physiotherapists are likely able to provide their patients with sound information regarding potential recovery and health-related quality of life on discharge. The prediction accuracy was higher among patients with better cognition than patients with poorer cognition.
PMCID: PMC3853800  PMID: 24350262
10.  The health outcomes and costs of people attending an interdisciplinary chronic disease service in regional Australia: protocol for a longitudinal cohort investigation 
Rates of chronic disease are escalating around the world. To date health service evaluations have focused on interventions for single chronic diseases. However, evaluations of the effectiveness of new intervention strategies that target single chronic diseases as well as multimorbidity are required, particularly in areas outside major metropolitan centres where access to services, such as specialist care, is difficult and where the retention and recruitment of health professionals affects service provision.
This study is a longitudinal investigation with a baseline and three follow-up assessments comparing the health and health costs of people with chronic disease before and after intervention at a chronic disease clinic, in regional Australia. The clinic is led by students under the supervision of health professionals. The study will provide preliminary evidence regarding the effectiveness of the intervention, and evaluate the influence of a range of factors on the health outcomes and costs of the patients attending the clinic. Patients will be evaluated at baseline (intake to the service), and at 3-, 6-, and 12-months after intake to the service. Health will be measured using the SF-36 and health costs will be measured using government and medical record sources. The intervention involves students and health professionals from multiple professions working together to treat patients with programs that include education and exercise therapy programs for back pain, and Healthy Lifestyle programs; as well as individual consultations involving single professions.
Understanding the effect of a range of factors on the health state and health costs of people attending an interdisciplinary clinic will inform health service provision for this clinical group and will determine which factors need to be controlled for in future observational studies. Preliminary evidence regarding changes in health and health costs associated with the intervention will be a platform for future clinical trials of intervention effectiveness. The results will be of interest to teams investigating new chronic disease programs particularly for people with multimorbidity, and in areas outside major metropolitan centres.
Trial registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12611000724976
PMCID: PMC3852613  PMID: 24119303
Chronic disease; Multimorbidity; Interprofessional care; Rural health; Allied health services; Health costs; Health outcomes
11.  Protocol for a randomised blocked design study using telephone and text-messaging to support cardiac patients with diabetes: a cross cultural international collaborative project 
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rising internationally. Patients with diabetes have a higher risk of cardiovascular events accounting for substantial premature morbidity and mortality, and health care expenditure. Given healthcare workforce limitations, there is a need to improve interventions that promote positive self-management behaviours that enable patients to manage their chronic conditions effectively, across different cultural contexts. Previous studies have evaluated the feasibility of including telephone and Short Message Service (SMS) follow up in chronic disease self-management programs, but only for single diseases or in one specific population. Therefore, the aim of this study is to evaluate the feasibility and short-term efficacy of incorporating telephone and text messaging to support the care of patients with diabetes and cardiac disease, in Australia and in Taiwan.
A randomised controlled trial design will be used to evaluate a self-management program for people with diabetes and cardiac disease that incorporates the use of simple remote-access communication technologies. A sample size of 180 participants from Australia and Taiwan will be recruited and randomised in a one-to-one ratio to receive either the intervention in addition to usual care (intervention) or usual care alone (control). The intervention will consist of in-hospital education as well as follow up utilising personal telephone calls and SMS reminders. Primary short term outcomes of interest include self-care behaviours and self-efficacy assessed at baseline and four weeks.
If the results of this investigation substantiate the feasibility and efficacy of the telephone and SMS intervention for promoting self management among patients with diabetes and cardiac disease in Australia and Taiwan, it will support the external validity of the intervention. It is anticipated that empirical data from this investigation will provide valuable information to inform future international collaborations, while providing a platform for further enhancements of the program, which has potential to benefit patients internationally.
Trial registration
ACTRN 12611001196932.
PMCID: PMC3852414  PMID: 24106997
Cardiac; Diabetes; International collaboration; Protocol; Randomised controlled trials; Self-management; Telephone; Text-messaging
12.  The confidence of speech-language pathology students regarding communicating with people with aphasia 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:92.
Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that can present a significant barrier to patient involvement in healthcare decisions. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are viewed as experts in the field of communication. However, many SLP students do not receive practical training in techniques to communicate with people with aphasia (PWA) until they encounter PWA during clinical education placements.
This study investigated the confidence and knowledge of SLP students in communicating with PWA prior to clinical placements using a customised questionnaire. Confidence in communicating with people with aphasia was assessed using a 100-point visual analogue scale. Linear, and logistic, regressions were used to examine the association between confidence and age, as well as confidence and course type (graduate-entry masters or undergraduate), respectively. Knowledge of strategies to assist communication with PWA was examined by asking respondents to list specific strategies that could assist communication with PWA.
SLP students were not confident with the prospect of communicating with PWA; reporting a median 29-points (inter-quartile range 17–47) on the visual analogue confidence scale. Only, four (8.2%) of respondents rated their confidence greater than 55 (out of 100). Regression analyses indicated no relationship existed between confidence and students‘ age (p = 0.31, r-squared = 0.02), or confidence and course type (p = 0.22, pseudo r-squared = 0.03). Students displayed limited knowledge about communication strategies. Thematic analysis of strategies revealed four overarching themes; Physical, Verbal Communication, Visual Information and Environmental Changes. While most students identified potential use of resources (such as images and written information), fewer students identified strategies to alter their verbal communication (such as reduced speech rate).
SLP students who had received aphasia related theoretical coursework, but not commenced clinical placements with PWA, were not confident in their ability to communicate with PWA. Students may benefit from an educational intervention or curriculum modification to incorporate practical training in effective strategies to communicate with PWA, before they encounter PWA in clinical settings. Ensuring students have confidence and knowledge of potential communication strategies to assist communication with PWA may allow them to focus their learning experiences in more specific clinical domains, such as clinical reasoning, rather than building foundation interpersonal communication skills.
PMCID: PMC3702426  PMID: 23806028
Aphasia; Speech pathology; Students; Confidence; Communication; Training needs
13.  Cost effectiveness of patient education for the prevention of falls in hospital: economic evaluation from a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Medicine  2013;11:135.
Falls are one of the most frequently occurring adverse events that impact upon the recovery of older hospital inpatients. Falls can threaten both immediate and longer-term health and independence. There is need to identify cost-effective means for preventing falls in hospitals. Hospital-based falls prevention interventions tested in randomized trials have not yet been subjected to economic evaluation.
Incremental cost-effectiveness analysis was undertaken from the health service provider perspective, over the period of hospitalization (time horizon) using the Australian Dollar (A$) at 2008 values. Analyses were based on data from a randomized trial among n = 1,206 acute and rehabilitation inpatients. Decision tree modeling with three-way sensitivity analyses were conducted using burden of disease estimates developed from trial data and previous research. The intervention was a multimedia patient education program provided with trained health professional follow-up shown to reduce falls among cognitively intact hospital patients.
The short-term cost to a health service of one cognitively intact patient being a faller could be as high as A$14,591 (2008). The education program cost A$526 (2008) to prevent one cognitively intact patient becoming a faller and A$294 (2008) to prevent one fall based on primary trial data. These estimates were unstable due to high variability in the hospital costs accrued by individual patients involved in the trial. There was a 52% probability the complete program was both more effective and less costly (from the health service perspective) than providing usual care alone. Decision tree modeling sensitivity analyses identified that when provided in real life contexts, the program would be both more effective in preventing falls among cognitively intact inpatients and cost saving where the proportion of these patients who would otherwise fall under usual care conditions is at least 4.0%.
This economic evaluation was designed to assist health care providers decide in what circumstances this intervention should be provided. If the proportion of cognitively intact patients falling on a ward under usual care conditions is 4% or greater, then provision of the complete program in addition to usual care will likely both prevent falls and reduce costs for a health service.
Trial registration
Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trials Register: ACTRN12608000015347.
PMCID: PMC3668305  PMID: 23692953
Accidental falls; Cost effectiveness; Economic evaluation; Hospital; Prevention
14.  Factors influencing research engagement: research interest, confidence and experience in an Australian speech-language pathology workforce 
Recent initiatives within an Australia public healthcare service have seen a focus on increasing the research capacity of their workforce. One of the key initiatives involves encouraging clinicians to be research generators rather than solely research consumers. As a result, baseline data of current research capacity are essential to determine whether initiatives encouraging clinicians to undertake research have been effective. Speech pathologists have previously been shown to be interested in conducting research within their clinical role; therefore they are well positioned to benefit from such initiatives. The present study examined the current research interest, confidence and experience of speech language pathologists (SLPs) in a public healthcare workforce, as well as factors that predicted clinician research engagement.
Data were collected via an online survey emailed to an estimated 330 SLPs working within Queensland, Australia. The survey consisted of 30 questions relating to current levels of interest, confidence and experience performing specific research tasks, as well as how frequently SLPs had performed these tasks in the last 5 years.
Although 158 SLPs responded to the survey, complete data were available for only 137. Respondents were more confident and experienced with basic research tasks (e.g., finding literature) and less confident and experienced with complex research tasks (e.g., analysing and interpreting results, publishing results). For most tasks, SLPs displayed higher levels of interest in the task than confidence and experience. Research engagement was predicted by highest qualification obtained, current job classification level and overall interest in research.
Respondents generally reported levels of interest in research higher than their confidence and experience, with many respondents reporting limited experience in most research tasks. Therefore SLPs have potential to benefit from research capacity building activities to increase their research skills in order to meet organisational research engagement objectives. However, these findings must be interpreted with the caveats that a relatively low response rate occurred and participants were recruited from a single state-wide health service, and therefore may not be representative of the wider SLP workforce.
PMCID: PMC3637558  PMID: 23597184
15.  Life impact of ankle fractures: Qualitative analysis of patient and clinician experiences 
Ankle fractures are one of the more commonly occurring forms of trauma managed by orthopaedic teams worldwide. The impacts of these injuries are not restricted to pain and disability caused at the time of the incident, but may also result in long term physical, psychological, and social consequences. There are currently no ankle fracture specific patient-reported outcome measures with a robust content foundation. This investigation aimed to develop a thematic conceptual framework of life impacts following ankle fracture from the experiences of people who have suffered ankle fractures as well as the health professionals who treat them.
A qualitative investigation was undertaken using in-depth semi-structured interviews with people (n=12) who had previously sustained an ankle fracture (patients) and health professionals (n=6) that treat people with ankle fractures. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Each phrase was individually coded and grouped in categories and aligned under emerging themes by two independent researchers.
Saturation occurred after 10 in-depth patient interviews. Time since injury for patients ranged from 6 weeks to more than 2 years. Experience of health professionals ranged from 1 year to 16 years working with people with ankle fractures. Health professionals included an Orthopaedic surgeon (1), physiotherapists (3), a podiatrist (1) and an occupational therapist (1). The emerging framework derived from patient data included eight themes (Physical, Psychological, Daily Living, Social, Occupational and Domestic, Financial, Aesthetic and Medication Taking). Health professional responses did not reveal any additional themes, but tended to focus on physical and occupational themes.
The nature of life impact following ankle fractures can extend beyond short term pain and discomfort into many areas of life. The findings from this research have provided an empirically derived framework from which a condition-specific patient-reported outcome measure can be developed.
PMCID: PMC3517753  PMID: 23171034
16.  Use of Condition-Specific Patient-Reported Outcome Measures in Clinical Trials among Patients with Wrist Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review 
Advances in Orthopedics  2012;2012:273421.
Background. This paper aimed to identify condition-specific patient-reported outcome measures used in clinical trials among people with wrist osteoarthritis and summarise empirical peer-reviewed evidence supporting their reliability, validity, and responsiveness to change. Methods. A systematic review of randomised controlled trials among people with wrist osteoarthritis was undertaken. Studies reporting reliability, validity, or responsiveness were identified using a systematic reverse citation trail audit procedure. Psychometric properties of the instruments were examined against predefined criteria and summarised. Results. Thirteen clinical trials met inclusion criteria. The most common patient-reported outcome was the disabilities of the arm, shoulder, and hand questionnaire (DASH). The DASH, the Michigan Hand Outcomes Questionnaire (MHQ), the Patient Evaluation Measure (PEM), and the Patient-Reported Wrist Evaluation (PRWE) had evidence supporting their reliability, validity, and responsiveness. A post-hoc review of excluded studies revealed the AUSCAN Osteoarthritis Hand Index as another suitable instrument that had favourable reliability, validity, and responsiveness. Conclusions. The DASH, MHQ, and AUSCAN Osteoarthritis Hand Index instruments were supported by the most favourable empirical evidence for validity, reliability, and responsiveness. The PEM and PRWE also had favourable empirical evidence reported for these elements. Further psychometric testing of these instruments among people with wrist osteoarthritis is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3501800  PMID: 23193483
17.  Patients undergoing subacute rehabilitation have accurate expectations of their health-related quality of life at discharge 
Expectations held by patients and health professionals may affect treatment choices and participation (by both patients and health professionals) in therapeutic interventions in contemporary patient-centered healthcare environments. If patients in rehabilitation settings overestimate their discharge health-related quality of life, they may become despondent as their progress falls short of their expectations. On the other hand, underestimating their discharge health-related quality of life may lead to a lack of motivation to participate in therapies if they do not perceive likely benefit. There is a scarcity of empirical evidence evaluating whether patients’ expectations of future health states are accurate. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the accuracy with which older patients admitted for subacute in-hospital rehabilitation can anticipate their discharge health-related quality of life.
A prospective longitudinal cohort investigation of agreement between patients’ anticipated discharge health-related quality of life (as reported on the EQ-5D instrument at admission to a rehabilitation unit) and their actual self-reported health-related quality of life at the time of discharge from this unit was undertaken. The mini-mental state examination was used as an indicator of patients’ cognitive ability.
Overall, 232(85%) patients had all assessment data completed and were included in analysis. Kappa scores ranged from 0.42-0.68 across the five EQ-5D domains and two patient cognition groups. The percentage of exact correct matches within each domain ranged from 69% to 85% across domains and cognition groups. Overall 40% of participants in each cognition group correctly anticipated all of their self-reported discharge EQ-5D domain responses.
Patients admitted for subacute in-hospital rehabilitation were able to anticipate their discharge health-related quality of life on the EQ-5D instrument with a moderate level of accuracy. This finding adds to the foundational empirical work supporting joint treatment decision making and patient-centered models of care during rehabilitation following acute illness or injury. Accurate patient expectations of the impact of treatment (or disease progression) on future health-related related quality of life is likely to allow patients and health professionals to successfully target interventions to priority areas where meaningful gains can be achieved.
PMCID: PMC3495730  PMID: 22901009
18.  An evolving perspective on physical activity counselling by medical professionals 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:31.
Physical inactivity is a modifiable risk factor for many chronic conditions and a leading cause of premature mortality. An increasing proportion of adults worldwide are not engaging in a level of physical activity sufficient to prevent or alleviate these adverse effects. Medical professionals have been identified as potentially powerful sources of influence for those who do not meet minimum physical activity guidelines. Health professionals are respected and expected sources of advice and they reach a large and relevant proportion of the population. Despite this potential, health professionals are not routinely practicing physical activity promotion.
Medical professionals experience several known barriers to physical activity promotion including lack of time and lack of perceived efficacy in changing physical activity behaviour in patients. Furthermore, evidence for effective physical activity promotion by medical professionals is inconclusive. To address these problems, new approaches to physical activity promotion are being proposed. These include collaborating with community based physical activity behaviour change interventions, preparing patients for effective brief counselling during a consultation with the medical professional, and use of interactive behaviour change technology.
It is important that we recognise the latent risk of physical inactivity among patients presenting in clinical settings. Preparation for improving patient physical activity behaviours should commence before the consultation and may include physical activity screening. Medical professionals should also identify suitable community interventions to which they can refer physically inactive patients. Outsourcing the majority of a comprehensive physical activity intervention to community based interventions will reduce the required clinical consultation time for addressing the issue with each patient. Priorities for future research include investigating ways to promote successful referrals and subsequent engagement in comprehensive community support programs to increase physical activity levels of inactive patients. Additionally, future clinical trials of physical activity interventions should be evaluated in the context of a broader framework of outcomes to inform a systematic consideration of broad strengths and weaknesses regarding not only efficacy but cost-effectiveness and likelihood of successful translation of interventions to clinical contexts.
PMCID: PMC3438055  PMID: 22524484
19.  A randomized controlled trial of an enhanced interdisciplinary community based group program for people with Parkinson's disease: study rationale and protocol 
Neurology International  2012;4(1):e3.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive, chronic neurodegenerative disorder for which there is no known cure. Physical exercise programs may be used to assist with the physical management of PD. Several studies have demonstrated that community based physical therapy programs are effective in reducing physical aspects of disability among people with PD. While multidisciplinary therapy interventions may have the potential to reduce disability and improve the quality of life of people with PD, there is very limited clinical trial evidence to support or refute the use of a community based multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary programs for people with PD. A two group randomized trial is being undertaken within a community rehabilitation service in Brisbane, Australia. Community dwelling adults with a diagnosis of Idiopathic Parkinson's disease are being recruited. Eligible participants are randomly allocated to a standard exercise rehabilitation group program or an intervention group which incorporates physical, cognitive and speech activities in a multi-tasking framework. Outcomes will be measured at 6-week intervals for a period of six months. Primary outcome measures are the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and the Timed Up and Go (TUG) cognitive test. Secondary outcomes include changes in health related quality of life, communication, social participation, mobility, strength and balance, and carer burden measures. This study will determine the immediate and long-term effectiveness of a unique multifocal, interdisciplinary, dual-tasking approach to the management of PD as compared to an exercise only program. We anticipate that the results of this study will have implications for the development of cost effective evidence based best practice for the treatment of people with PD living in the community.
PMCID: PMC3349958  PMID: 22593807
Parkinson's disease; rehabilitation; clinical protocol; allied health.
20.  Work related musculoskeletal disorders amongst therapists in physically demanding roles: qualitative analysis of risk factors and strategies for prevention 
Physiotherapy and occupational therapy are two professions at high risk of work related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMD). This investigation aimed to identify risk factors for WRMD as perceived by the health professionals working in these roles (Aim 1), as well as current and future strategies they perceive will allow them to continue to work in physically demanding clinical roles (Aim 2).
A two phase exploratory investigation was undertaken. The first phase included a survey administered via a web based platform with qualitative open response items. The second phase involved four focus group sessions which explored topics obtained from the survey. Thematic analysis of qualitative data from the survey and focus groups was undertaken.
Overall 112 (34.3%) of invited health professionals completed the survey; 66 (58.9%) were physiotherapists and 46 (41.1%) were occupational therapists. Twenty-four health professionals participated in one of four focus groups. The risk factors most frequently perceived by health professionals included: work postures and movements, lifting or carrying, patient related factors and repetitive tasks. The six primary themes for strategies to allow therapists to continue to work in physically demanding clinical roles included: organisational strategies, workload or work allocation, work practices, work environment and equipment, physical condition and capacity, and education and training.
Risk factors as well as current and potential strategies for reducing WRMD amongst these health professionals working in clinically demanding roles have been identified and discussed. Further investigation regarding the relative effectiveness of these strategies is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3038991  PMID: 21266039
21.  Reference bias: presentation of extreme health states prior to eq-vas improves health-related quality of life scores. a randomised cross-over trial 
Clinical practice and clinical research has made a concerted effort to move beyond the use of clinical indicators alone and embrace patient focused care through the use of patient reported outcomes such as health-related quality of life. However, unless patients give consistent consideration to the health states that give meaning to measurement scales used to evaluate these constructs, longitudinal comparison of these measures may be invalid. This study aimed to investigate whether patients give consideration to a standard health state rating scale (EQ-VAS) and whether consideration of good and poor health state descriptors immediately changes their self-report.
A randomised crossover trial was implemented amongst hospitalised older adults (n = 151). Patients were asked to consider descriptions of extremely good (Description-A) and poor (Description-B) health states. The EQ-VAS was administered as a self-report at baseline, after the first descriptors (A or B), then again after the remaining descriptors (B or A respectively). At baseline patients were also asked if they had considered either EQ-VAS anchors.
Overall 106/151 (70%) participants changed their self-evaluation by ≥5 points on the 100 point VAS, with a mean (SD) change of +4.5 (12) points (p < 0.001). A total of 74/151 (49%) participants did not consider the best health VAS anchor, of the 77 who did 59 (77%) thought the good health descriptors were more extreme (better) then they had previously considered. Similarly 85/151 (66%) participants did not consider the worst health anchor of the 66 who did 63 (95%) thought the poor health descriptors were more extreme (worse) then they had previously considered.
Health state self-reports may not be well considered. An immediate significant shift in response can be elicited by exposure to a mere description of an extreme health state despite no actual change in underlying health state occurring. Caution should be exercised in research and clinical settings when interpreting subjective patient reported outcomes that are dependent on brief anchors for meaning.
Trial Registration
Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (#ACTRN12607000606482)
PMCID: PMC3014890  PMID: 21126374
22.  Response shift, recall bias and their effect on measuring change in health-related quality of life amongst older hospital patients 
Assessments of change in subjective patient reported outcomes such as health-related quality of life (HRQoL) are a key component of many clinical and research evaluations. However, conventional longitudinal evaluation of change may not agree with patient perceived change if patients' understanding of the subjective construct under evaluation changes over time (response shift) or if patients' have inaccurate recollection (recall bias). This study examined whether older adults' perception of change is in agreement with conventional longitudinal evaluation of change in their HRQoL over the duration of their hospital stay. It also investigated this level of agreement after adjusting patient perceived change for recall bias that patients may have experienced.
A prospective longitudinal cohort design nested within a larger randomised controlled trial was implemented. 103 hospitalised older adults participated in this investigation at a tertiary hospital facility. The EQ-5D utility and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores were used to evaluate HRQoL. Participants completed EQ-5D reports as soon as they were medically stable (within three days of admission) then again immediately prior to discharge. Three methods of change score calculation were used (conventional change, patient perceived change and patient perceived change adjusted for recall bias). Agreement was primarily investigated using intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) and limits of agreement.
Overall 101 (98%) participants completed both admission and discharge assessments. The mean (SD) age was 73.3 (11.2). The median (IQR) length of stay was 38 (20-60) days. For agreement between conventional longitudinal change and patient perceived change: ICCs were 0.34 and 0.40 for EQ-5D utility and VAS respectively. For agreement between conventional longitudinal change and patient perceived change adjusted for recall bias: ICCs were 0.98 and 0.90 respectively. Discrepancy between conventional longitudinal change and patient perceived change was considered clinically meaningful for 84 (83.2%) of participants, after adjusting for recall bias this reduced to 8 (7.9%).
Agreement between conventional change and patient perceived change was not strong. A large proportion of this disagreement could be attributed to recall bias. To overcome the invalidating effect of response shift (on conventional change) and recall bias (on patient perceived change) a method of adjusting patient perceived change for recall bias has been described.
PMCID: PMC2912788  PMID: 20618978
23.  Telephone reliability of the Frenchay Activity Index and EQ-5D amongst older adults 
Older adults may find it problematic to attend hospital appointments due to the difficulty associated with travelling to, within and from a hospital facility for the purpose of a face-to-face assessment. This study aims to investigate equivalence between telephone and face-to-face administration for the Frenchay Activities Index (FAI) and the Euroqol-5D (EQ-5D) generic health-related quality of life instrument amongst an older adult population.
Patients aged >65 (n = 53) who had been discharged to the community following an acute hospital admission underwent telephone administration of the FAI and EQ-5D instruments seven days prior to attending a hospital outpatient appointment where they completed a face-to-face administration of these instruments.
Overall, 40 subjects' datasets were complete for both assessments and included in analysis. The FAI items had high levels of agreement between the two modes of administration (item kappa's ranged 0.73 to 1.00) as did the EQ-5D (item kappa's ranged 0.67–0.83). For the FAI, EQ-5D VAS and EQ-5D utility score, intraclass correlation coefficients were 0.94, 0.58 and 0.82 respectively with paired t-tests indicating no significant systematic difference (p = 0.100, p = 0.690 and p = 0.290 respectively).
Telephone administration of the FAI and EQ-5D instruments provides comparable results to face-to-face administration amongst older adults deemed to have cognitive functioning intact at a basic level, indicating that this is a suitable alternate approach for collection of this information.
PMCID: PMC2695435  PMID: 19476656
24.  Evaluation of the effect of patient education on rates of falls in older hospital patients: Description of a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Geriatrics  2009;9:14.
Accidental falls by older patients in hospital are one of the most commonly reported adverse events. Falls after discharge are also common. These falls have enormous physical, psychological and social consequences for older patients, including serious physical injury and reduced quality of life, and are also a source of substantial cost to health systems worldwide. There have been a limited number of randomised controlled trials, mainly using multifactorial interventions, aiming to prevent older people falling whilst inpatients. Trials to date have produced conflicting results and recent meta-analyses highlight that there is still insufficient evidence to clearly identify which interventions may reduce the rate of falls, and falls related injuries, in this population.
Methods and design
A prospective randomised controlled trial (n = 1206) is being conducted at two hospitals in Australia. Patients are eligible to be included in the trial if they are over 60 years of age and they, or their family or guardian, give written consent. Participants are randomised into three groups. The control group continues to receive usual care. Both intervention groups receive a specifically designed patient education intervention on minimising falls in addition to usual care. The education is delivered by Digital Video Disc (DVD) and written workbook and aims to promote falls prevention activities by participants. One of the intervention groups also receives follow up education training visits by a health professional. Blinded assessors conduct baseline and discharge assessments and follow up participants for 6 months after discharge. The primary outcome measure is falls by participants in hospital. Secondary outcome measures include falls at home after discharge, knowledge of falls prevention strategies and motivation to engage in falls prevention activities after discharge. All analyses will be based on intention to treat principle.
This trial will examine the effect of a single intervention (specifically designed patient education) on rates of falls in older patients in hospital and after discharge. The results will provide robust recommendations for clinicians and researchers about the role of patient education in this population. The study has the potential to identify a new intervention that may reduce rates of falls in older hospital patients and could be readily duplicated and applied in a wide range of clinical settings.
Trial Registration
PMCID: PMC2688498  PMID: 19393046

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