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1.  Skin lesions suspected of malignancy: an increasing burden on general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:29.
Background
Skin cancer is believed to impose a heavy burden on healthcare services, but the burden of skin lesions suspected of malignancy on primary healthcare has never been evaluated. Therefore the aim of this study was to determine the demand for care in general practice due to these suspected skin lesions (i.e. lesions that are suspected of malignancy by either the patient or the GP).
Methods
Registry study based on data (2001–2010) from the Registration Network Groningen. This is a general practice registration network in the northern part of the Netherlands with an average annual population of approximately 30,000 patients. All patient contacts are coded according to the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC). Consultations for skin lesions suspected of malignancy were selected according to the assigned ICPC codes. Subsequently, the number of consultations per year and the annual percent change in number of contacts (using the JoinPoint regression program) were calculated and analysed. Additionally, the percentage of patients referred to secondary care or receiving minor surgery within one year after the first contact were calculated.
Results
From 2001 onwards we found an annual increase in demand for care due to skin lesions suspected of malignancy of 7.3% (p < 0.01) and in 2010 the benign:malignant ratio was 10:1. In total 13.0% of the patients were referred and after 2006, minor surgery was performed on 31.2% of the patients. Most surgeries and referrals took place within 30 days.
Conclusions
Suspected skin lesions impose an increasing burden on primary healthcare and most likely on healthcare costs as well. General practitioners should therefore be trained in diagnosing skin lesions suspected of malignancy, as a high diagnostic accuracy can save lives in the case of melanoma, and may also prevent unnecessary, costly, excisions and referrals to secondary healthcare.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-29
PMCID: PMC3930756  PMID: 24517098
Skin Neoplasms; Family practice; Physicians; Family; Netherlands; Referral and consultation; Surgical procedures; Minor
2.  Are lower urinary tract symptoms in men associated with cardiovascular diseases in a primary care population: a registry study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:9.
Background
Although lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) seem to be related to cardiovascular disease (CVD) in men, it is unclear whether this relationship is unbiased. In order to investigate this relationship, we used longitudinal data for establishing the possible predictive value of LUTS for the development of CVD in a primary care population.
Methods
We performed a registry study using data from the Registration Network Groningen (RNG). All data from men aged 50 years and older during the study period from 1 January 1998 up to 31 December 2008 were collected. Cox proportional hazard regression analysis was used to determine the association between the proportions of CVD (outcome) and LUTS in our population.
Results
Data from 6614 men were analysed. The prevalence of LUTS increased from 92/1000 personyears (py) in 1998 up to 183/1000 py in 2008. For cardiovascular diseases the prevalence increased from 176/1000 py in 1998 up to 340/1000 py in 2008. The incidence numbers were resp. 10.2/1000 py (1998) and 5.1/1000 py (2008) for LUTS, and 12.9/1000 py (1998) and 10.4/1000 py (2008) for CVD. Of all men, 23.2% reported CVD (41.1% in men with LUTS vs 19.5% in men without LUTS, p < 0.01). The hazard ratio of LUTS for cardiovascular events, compared to no LUTS, in the adjusted multivariate model, was 0.921(95% CI: 0.824 - 1.030; p = 0.150).
Conclusion
Based on the results, LUTS is not a factor that must be taken into account for the early detection of CVD in primary care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-9
PMCID: PMC3898227  PMID: 24422708
3.  Which patient and treatment factors are related to successful cardiovascular risk score reduction in general practice? Results from a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:123.
Background
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death. It is important to identify patient and treatment factors that are related to successful cardiovascular risk reduction in general practice. This study investigates which patient and treatment factors are related to changes in cardiovascular risk estimation, expressed as the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) 10 year risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Methods
179 general practice patients with mild-moderately elevated cardiovascular risk followed a one-year programme which included structured lifestyle and medication treatment by practice nurses, with or without additional self-monitoring. From the patient and treatment data collected as part of the “Self-monitoring and Prevention of RIsk factors by Nurse practitioners in the region of Groningen” randomized controlled trial (SPRING-RCT), the contribution of patient and treatment factors to the change in SCORE was analysed with univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results
In multivariate analyses with multiple patient and treatment factors, only SCORE at baseline, and addition of or dose change in lipid lowering or antihypertensive medications over the course of the study were significantly related to change in SCORE.
Conclusions
Our analyses support the targeting of treatment at individuals with a high SCORE at presentation. Lipid lowering medication was added or changed in only 12% of participants, but nevertheless was significantly related to ΔSCORE in this study population. Due to the effect of medication in this practice-based project, the possible additional effect of the home monitoring devices, especially for individuals with no indication for medication, may have been overshadowed.
Trial registration
trialregister.nl NTR2188
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-123
PMCID: PMC3765386  PMID: 23968366
Primary health care; Arteriosclerosis; Cardiovascular diseases; Prevention and control; Self-management; Risk factors
4.  Survival of stroke patients after introduction of the ‘Dutch Transmural Protocol TIA/CVA’ 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:74.
Background
Earlier research showed that healthcare in stroke could be better organized, aiming for improved survival and less comorbidity. Therefore, in 2004 the Dutch College of General Practitioners (NHG) and the Dutch Association of Neurology (NVN) introduced the ‘Dutch Transmural Protocol TIA/CVA’ (the LTA) to improve survival, minimize the risk of stroke recurrence, and increase quality of life after stroke. This study examines whether survival improved after implementation of the new protocol, and whether there was an increase in contacts with the general practitioner (GP)/nurse practitioner, registration of comorbidity and prescription of medication.
Methods
From the primary care database of the Registration Network Groningen (RNG) two cohorts were composed: one cohort compiled before and one after introduction of the LTA. Cohort 1 (n = 131, first stroke 2001–2002) was compared with cohort 2 (n = 132, first stroke 2005–2006) with regard to survival and the secondary outcomes.
Results
Comparison of the two cohorts showed no significant improvement in survival. In cohort 2, the number of contacts with the GP was significantly lower and with the nurse practitioner significantly higher, compared with cohort 1. All risk factors for stroke were more prevalent in cohort 2, but were only significant for hypercholesterolemia. In both cohorts more medication was prescribed after stroke, whereas ACE inhibitors were prescribed more frequently only in cohort 2.
Conclusion
No major changes in survival and secondary outcomes were apparent after introduction of the LTA. Although, there was a small improvement in secondary prevention, this study shows that optimal treatment after introduction of the LTA has not yet been achieved.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-74
PMCID: PMC3680245  PMID: 23734793
Stroke; Survival; General practice; Healthcare; Prevention
5.  Cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular risk management by practice nurses in primary care 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:148.
Background
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is largely preventable and prevention expenditures are relatively low. The randomised controlled SPRING-trial (SPRING-RCT) shows that cardiovascular risk management by practice nurses in general practice with and without self-monitoring both decreases cardiovascular risk, with no additional effect of self-monitoring. For considering future approaches of cardiovascular risk reduction, cost effectiveness analyses of regular care and additional self-monitoring are performed from a societal perspective on data from the SPRING-RCT.
Methods
Direct medical and productivity costs are analysed alongside the SPRING-RCT, studying 179 participants (men aged 50–75 years, women aged 55–75 years), with an elevated cardiovascular risk, in 20 general practices in the Netherlands. Standard cardiovascular treatment according to Dutch guidelines is compared with additional counselling based on self-monitoring at home (pedometer, weighing scale and/ or blood pressure device) both by trained practice nurses. Cost-effectiveness is evaluated for both treatment groups and patient categories (age, sex, education).
Results
Costs are €98 and €187 per percentage decrease in 10-year cardiovascular mortality estimation, for the control and intervention group respectively. In both groups lost productivity causes the majority of the costs. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio is approximately €1100 (95% CI: -5157 to 6150). Self-monitoring may be cost effective for females and higher educated participants, however confidence intervals are wide.
Conclusions
In this study population, regular treatment is more cost effective than counselling based on self-monitoring, with the majority of costs caused by lost productivity.
Trial registration
Trialregister.nl identifier: http://NTR2188
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-148
PMCID: PMC3599815  PMID: 23418958
Cost-effectiveness; Arteriosclerosis; Cardiovascular diseases; Primary health care; Prevention and control; Self-management
6.  Cardiovascular screening in general practice in a low SES area 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:117.
Background
Lower social economic status (SES) is related to an elevated cardiovascular (CV) risk. A pro-active primary prevention CV screening approach in general practice (GP) might be effective in a region with a low mean SES. This approach, supported by a regional GP laboratory, was investigated on feasibility, attendance rate and proportion of persons identified with an elevated risk.
Methods
In a region with a low mean SES, men and women aged ≥50/55 years, respectively, were invited for cardiovascular risk profiling, based on SCORE 10-year risk of fatal cardiovascular disease and additional risk factors (family history, weight and end organ damage). Screening was performed by laboratory personnel, at the GP practice. Treatment advice was based on Dutch GP guidelines for cardiovascular risk management. Response rates were compared to those in five other practices, using the same screening method.
Results
521 persons received invitations, 354 (68%) were interested, 33 did not attend and 43 were not further analysed because of already known diabetes/cardiovascular disease. Eventually 278 risk profiles were analysed, of which 60% had a low cardiovascular risk (SCORE-risk <5%). From the 40% participants with a SCORE-risk ≥5%, 60% did not receive medication yet for hypertension/hypercholesterolemia. In the other five GPs response rates were comparable to the currently described GP.
Conclusion
Screening in GP in a low SES area, performed by a laboratory service, was feasible, resulted in high attendance, and identification and treatment advice of many new persons at risk for cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-117
PMCID: PMC3564938  PMID: 23228012
General practice; Socio-economic status (SES); Cardiovascular risk management; Screening
7.  Discontinuation of reimbursement of benzodiazepines in the Netherlands: does it make a difference? 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:111.
Background
In an attempt to control chronic benzodiazepine use and its costs in the Netherlands, health care insurance reimbursement of this medication was stopped on January 1st 2009. This study investigates whether benzodiazepine prescriptions issued by general practitioners changed during the first two years following implementation of this regulation.
Methods
Registry study based on data from all benzodiazepine users derived from the Registration Network Groningen. This general practice-based research network collects longitudinal data on the primary care administered to about 30,000 patients. Based on the number of quarterly accumulated prescription days, a comparison was made of benzodiazepine prescriptions issued between 2007/2008 and 2009/2010. Also investigated was which type of user (i.e. short-term or long-term) showed the most change.
Results
Information on benzodiazepine prescriptions among 5,200 patients from 16 consecutive trimesters between 2007 and 2010 was available for analysis. A significant reduction in prescription days was observed between 2007/2008 and 2009/2010. Overall, an estimated 1.73 (CI:-1.94 to -1.53; p<0.001) days were less prescribed per trimester after the termination of reimbursement. In particular, short-term users experienced a reduction in prescription days in 2009 and 2010. The number of long-term users decreased by 2.3%, while the number of individuals that did not use increased by 4.2%.
Conclusions
A total reduction of almost 14 prescription days was observed over eight trimesters after implementation of the regulation to terminate the reimbursement of benzodiazepines. Short-term users were mainly responsible for this reduction in prescription days in 2009 and 2010. Although long-term users did not alter their benzodiazepine use in 2009 and 2010, the number of long-term users decreased slightly.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-111
PMCID: PMC3534512  PMID: 23170874
8.  Prostate specific antigen testing policy worldwide varies greatly and seems not to be in accordance with guidelines: a systematic review 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:100.
Background
Prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing is widely used, but guidelines on follow-up are unclear.
Methods
We performed a systematic review of the literature to determine follow-up policy after PSA testing by general practitioners (GPs) and non-urologic hospitalists, the use of a cut-off value for this policy, the reasons for repeating a PSA test after an initial normal result, the existence of a general cut-off value below which a PSA result is considered normal, and the time frame for repeating a test.
Data sources. MEDLINE, Embase, PsychInfo and the Cochrane library from January 1950 until May 2011.
Study eligibility criteria. Studies describing follow-up policy by GPs or non-urologic hospitalists after a primary PSA test, excluding urologists and patients with prostate cancer. Studies written in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian or Spanish were included. Excluded were studies describing follow-up policy by urologists and follow-up of patients with prostate cancer. The quality of each study was structurally assessed.
Results
Fifteen articles met the inclusion criteria. Three studies were of high quality. Follow-up differed greatly both after a normal and an abnormal PSA test result. Only one study described the reasons for not performing follow-up after an abnormal PSA result.
Conclusions
Based on the available literature, we cannot adequately assess physicians’ follow-up policy after a primary PSA test. Follow-up after a normal or raised PSA test by GPs and non-urologic hospitalists seems to a large extent not in accordance with the guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-100
PMCID: PMC3528621  PMID: 23052017
Prostate specific antigen; PSA; Follow-up; General practitioners; Non-urologic hospitalists; Guidelines; Systematic review
9.  Randomized controlled trial on cardiovascular risk management by practice nurses supported by self-monitoring in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:90.
Background
Treatment goals for cardiovascular risk management are generally not achieved. Specialized practice nurses are increasingly facilitating the work of general practitioners and self-monitoring devices have been developed as counseling aid. The aim of this study was to compare standard treatment supported by self-monitoring with standard treatment without self-monitoring, both conducted by practice nurses, on cardiovascular risk and separate risk factors.
Methods
Men aged 50–75 years and women aged 55–75 years without a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes, but with a SCORE 10-year risk of cardiovascular mortality ≥5% and at least one treatable risk factor (smoking, hypertension, lack of physical activity or overweight), were randomized into two groups. The control group received standard treatment according to guidelines, the intervention group additionally received pro-active counseling and self-monitoring (pedometer, weighing scale and/ or blood pressure device). After one year treatment effect on 179 participants was analyzed.
Results
SCORE risk assessment decreased 1.6% (95% CI 1.0–2.2) for the control group and 1.8% (1.2–2.4) for the intervention group, difference between groups was .2% (−.6–1.1). Most risk factors tended to improve in both groups. The number of visits was higher and visits took more time in the intervention group (4.9 (SD2.2) vs. 2.6 (SD1.5) visits p < .001 and 27 (P25 –P75:20–33) vs. 23 (P25 –P75:19–30) minutes/visit p = .048).
Conclusions
In both groups cardiovascular risk decreased significantly after one year of treatment by practice nurses. No additional effect of basing the pro-active counseling on self-monitoring was found, despite the extra time investment.
Trial registration
trialregister.nl NTR2188
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-90
PMCID: PMC3503756  PMID: 22947269
Primary health care; Arteriosclerosis; Cardiovascular diseases; Prevention and control; Self-management; Risk factors
10.  A prospective observational study of quality of diabetes care in a shared care setting: trends and age differences (ZODIAC-19) 
BMJ Open  2012;2(4):e001387.
Objective
The Zwolle Outpatient Diabetes project Integrating Available Care (ZODIAC) study was initiated in 1998 to investigate the effects of shared care for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in the Netherlands, and to reduce the number of diabetes-related complications. Benchmarking the performance of diabetes care was and is an important aspect of this study. We aimed to investigate trends in diabetes care, within the ZODIAC study for a wide variety of quality indicators during a long follow-up period (1998–2008), with special interest for different age groups.
Design
Prospective observational cohort study.
Setting
Primary care, Zwolle, The Netherlands.
Participants
Patients with T2DM.
Methods
A dataset of quality measures was collected annually during the patient's visit to the practice nurse or general practitioner. Linear time trends from 1998 to 2008 were estimated using linear mixed models in which we adjusted for age and gender. Age was included in the model as a categorical variable: for each follow-up year all participants were categorised into the categories <60, 60–75 and >75 years. Differences in trends between the age categories were investigated by adding an interaction term to the model.
Results
The number of patients who were reported to participate increased in the period 1998–2008 from 1622 to 27 438. All quality indicators improved in this study, except for body mass index. The prevalence albuminuria decreased in an 11-year-period from 42% to 21%. No relevant differences between the trends for the three age categories were observed. During all years of follow-up, mean blood pressure and body mass index were the lowest and highest, respectively, in the group of patients <60 years (data not shown).
Conclusions
Quality of diabetes care within the Dutch ZODIAC study, a shared care project, has considerably improved in the period 1998–2008. There were no relevant differences between trends across various age categories.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001387
PMCID: PMC3432849  PMID: 22936821
11.  Quality of life of elderly ischaemic stroke patients one year after thrombolytic therapy. A comparison between patients with and without thrombolytic therapy 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:61.
Background
An observational study to examine whether thrombolytic therapy in stroke patients realizes better quality of life outcomes compared to patients without thrombolytic therapy one year after stroke. We also examined whether daily functioning, mental functioning and activities improved after thrombolytic treatment.
Methods
A total of 88 stroke patients were interviewed at home one year post-stroke. Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) was assessed using the RAND-36, disability with the Barthel Index, depression and anxiety with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and a questionnaire about patient way of life was completed. People aged under 60, moving to a nursing home or with a haemorrhage were excluded.
Results
The thrombolysis group (TG) had more severe stroke (higher NIHSS) scores and were younger than the group without thrombolytic therapy (WTG). The primary outcome was HRQOL, which was high and nearly identical in both groups, however the TG had significantly better HRQOL for the ‘mental health’ and ‘vitality’ scales. Patients who stopped or reduced their hobbies because of stroke had a significantly worse HRQOL.
One year after stroke, more patients in the TG were totally or severely ADL dependent (12% TG and 0% WTG, p = 0.022). The level of dependence decreased in the TG (p = 0.042) and worsened in the WTG (p < 0.001) after one year. Being more dependent is related to diminishing daily occupations in both groups. In the TG the level of dependence had less impact on visiting family and friends and going on holiday. The prevalence of anxiety disorder and depression was low compared to other studies and there is no significant difference between the two groups.
Conclusion
No major differences in the primary outcome (HRQOL) could be found between the two groups. In addition, no essential difference could be found in mental functioning and participation. We expected that patients undergoing thrombolytic therapy would have worse quality of life because of the greater initial severity of their stroke. Therefore, thrombolytic therapy seems to be of great importance in achieving better quality of life in ischemic stroke patients who respond to this therapy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-61
PMCID: PMC3444943  PMID: 22835054
12.  Outcomes for depression and anxiety in primary care and details of treatment: a naturalistic longitudinal study 
BMC Psychiatry  2011;11:180.
Background
There is little evidence as to whether or not guideline concordant care in general practice results in better clinical outcomes for people with anxiety and depression. This study aims to determine possible associations between guideline concordant care and clinical outcomes in general practice patients with depression and anxiety, and identify patient and treatment characteristics associated with clinical improvement.
Methods
This study forms part of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA).
Adult patients, recruited in general practice (67 GPs), were interviewed to assess DSM-IV diagnoses during baseline assessment of NESDA, and also completed questionnaires measuring symptom severity, received care, socio-demographic variables and social support both at baseline and 12 months later. The definition of guideline adherence was based on an algorithm on care received. Information on guideline adherence was obtained from GP medical records.
Results
721 patients with a current (6-month recency) anxiety or depressive disorder participated. While patients who received guideline concordant care (N = 281) suffered from more severe symptoms than patients who received non-guideline concordant care (N = 440), both groups showed equal improvement in their depressive or anxiety symptoms after 12 months. Patients who (still) had moderate or severe symptoms at follow-up, were more often unemployed, had smaller personal networks and more severe depressive symptoms at baseline than patients with mild symptoms at follow-up. The particular type of treatment followed made no difference to clinical outcomes.
Conclusion
The added value of guideline concordant care could not be demonstrated in this study. Symptom severity, employment status, social support and comorbidity of anxiety and depression all play a role in poor clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-11-180
PMCID: PMC3288826  PMID: 22099636
13.  The Influence of Overweight/Obesity on Patient-Perceived Physical Functioning and Health-Related Quality of Life After Primary Total Hip Arthroplasty 
Obesity Surgery  2011;22(4):523-529.
Background
Overweight/obesity in patients after total hip arthroplasty (THA) is a growing problem and is associated with postoperative complications and a negative effect on functional outcome. The objective of this study is to determine to what extent overweight/obesity is associated with physical functioning and health-related quality of life 1 year after primary THA.
Methods
A retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data from 653 patients who had undergone a primary THA was conducted. Physical functioning, health-related quality of life, body mass index (BMI), comorbidity, and postoperative complications were assessed by means of a questionnaire and from medical records. To determine to what extent overweight/obesity is associated with physical functioning and health-related quality of life after THA, a structural equation model (SEM) analysis was conducted.
Results
The association of BMI corrected for age, gender, complications, and comorbidity with physical functioning is −0.63. This means that an increase in 1 kg/m2 BMI leads to a reduction of 0.63 points in the physical functioning score as measured with the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (100-point scale). The prevalence of complications or comorbidity leads to a reduction of, respectively, 5.63 and 7.25 (one or two comorbidities) and 14.50 points in the case of more than two comorbidities on the physical functioning score. The same pattern is observed for health-related quality of life.
Conclusions
The influence of overweight/obesity on physical functioning and health-related quality of life is low. The impact of complications and comorbidity is considerable. Refusing a patient a THA solely on the basis of overweight or obesity does not seem justified.
doi:10.1007/s11695-011-0483-1
PMCID: PMC3297740  PMID: 21800224
Obesity; Total hip arthroplasty; Quality of life; Physical functioning
14.  Time spent in primary care for hip osteoarthritis patients once the diagnosis is set: a prospective observational study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:48.
Background
Previous research on time to referral to orthopaedic surgery has predominantly used hip complaints as starting point instead of the moment the diagnosis of osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip is established, therefore little is known about the length of time a patient diagnosed with hip OA stays under the care of a general practitioner (GP). No knowledge on factors of influence on this time period is available either. Aim of this study was thus to determine the time an incident hip OA patient stays in the care of a GP until referral to an orthopaedic department. Influencing factors were also analyzed.
Methods
A prospective observational study was conducted based on data over a 10-year period from a general practice-based registration network (17 GPs, > 30,000 patients registered yearly). Patients with the diagnosis of hip OA were included. A survival analysis was used to determine time until referral to an orthopaedic department, and to determine factors of influence on this time.
Results
Of 391 patients diagnosed with hip OA, 121 (31%) were referred; average survival time until referral was 82.0 months (95% CI 76.6-87.5). Less contact with the GP for hip complaints before the diagnosis of hip OA was established resulted in a decreased time to referral.
Conclusions
The results of this study show that patients with hip OA were under the care of a general practitioner, and thus in primary care, for a considerable amount of time once the diagnosis of hip OA was established.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-48
PMCID: PMC3123196  PMID: 21663608
15.  Referral of patients with depression to mental health care by Dutch general practitioners: an observational study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:41.
Background
Depression is a common illness, often treated in primary care. Guidelines provide recommendations for referral to mental health care. Several studies investigated determinants of referral, none investigated guideline criteria as possible determinants.
We wanted to evaluate general practitioner's referral of depressed patients to mental health care and to what extent this is in agreement with (Dutch) guideline recommendations.
Methods
We used data of primary care respondents from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety with major depressive disorder in the past year (n = 478). We excluded respondents with missing data (n = 134). Referral data was collected from electronic patient files between 1 year before and after baseline and self report at baseline and 1-year follow-up. Logistic regression was used to describe association between guideline referral criteria (e.g. perceived need for psychotherapy, suicide risk, severe/chronic depression, antidepressant therapy failure) and referral.
Results
A high 58% of depressed patients were referred. Younger patients, those with suicidal tendency, chronic depression or perceived need for psychotherapy were referred more often. Patients who had used ≥2 antidepressants or with chronic depression were more often referred to secondary care. Referred respondents met on average more guideline criteria for referral. However, only 8-11% of variance was explained.
Conclusion
The majority of depressed patients were referred to mental health care. General practitioners take guideline criteria into account in decision making for referral of depressed patients to mental health care. However, other factors play a part, considering the small percentage of variance explained. Further research is necessary to investigate this.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-41
PMCID: PMC3119074  PMID: 21615899
16.  Structured diabetes care leads to differences in organization of care in general practices: the healthcare professional and patient perspective 
Background
Care for patients with chronic diseases is challenging and requires multifaceted interventions to appropriately coordinate the entire treatment process. The effect of such interventions on clinical outcomes has been assessed, but evidence of the effect on organization of care is scarce.
The aim is to assess the effect of structured diabetes care on organization of care from the perspective of patients and healthcare professionals in routine practice, and to ascertain whether this effect persists
Methods
In a quasi-experimental study the effect of structured care (SC) was compared with care-as-usual (CAU). Questionnaires were sent to healthcare professionals (SC n = 31; CAU n = 11) and to patients (SC n = 301; CAU n = 102). A follow-up questionnaire was sent after formal support of the intervention ended (2007).
Results
SC does have an effect on the organization of care. More cooperation between healthcare professionals, less referrals to secondary care and more education were reported in the SC group as compared to the CAU group. These changes were found both at the healthcare professional and at the patient level. Organizational changes remained after formal support for the intervention support had ended.
Conclusion
According to patients and healthcare professionals, structured care does have a positive effect on the organization of care. The use of these two sources of information is important, not only to assess the value of changes in care for the patient and the healthcare provider but also to ascertain the validity of the results found.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-113
PMCID: PMC3116472  PMID: 21600064
diabetes mellitus; quality of healthcare; patient care team; patient education
17.  Perceived wellbeing of patients one year post stroke in general practice - recommendations for quality aftercare 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:42.
Background
Annually, 41,000 people in the Netherlands have strokes. This has multiple physical and psychosocial consequences. Most patients return home after discharge from hospital. Quality aftercare by general practitioners is important to support patients at home. The purpose of this study is to examine the wellbeing of patients who returned home immediately after discharge from hospital, one year post stroke, in comparison with the general Dutch population of the same age and to determine factors that could influence wellbeing.
Methods
All the stroke patients from the Department of Neurology, Martini Hospital Groningen in the period November 2006 to October 2007 were included. People aged under 65 years or with haemorrhaging were excluded. All the patients (N = 57) were interviewed at home using the following questionnaires: Barthel Index, SF-36, HADS, CSI and a questionnaire about their way of life.
Results
31% of the patients in this study experienced a decrease in functional status after one year. Nevertheless, there was no significant difference between the median Barthel Index value at discharge from hospital and one year post stroke. ADL independence correlated with a better quality of life. The health-related quality of life was high. Stroke patients have almost the same quality of life as the 'average' Dutch elderly population. Where patients can no longer fully participate in society, their perceived quality of life is also lower. In this study there is an indication of a high prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders in stroke patients. This negatively affects the quality of life a year after stroke. Although caregiver strain was low for the partners of stroke patients, a reduced quality of life is correlated to greater burden.
Conclusions
This study provides valuable insight into the wellbeing of patients living at home one year post stroke. Physical functioning and quality of life are comparable to the general population of the same age, but improvements in mental functioning can be envisaged. In addition, more attention should be paid to maintaining the patients' activities. The wellbeing of these stroke patients could be increased further if greater attention is paid to these aspects of life. This seems to be applicable to general practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-42
PMCID: PMC3080803  PMID: 21453512
18.  Most Antidepressant Use in Primary Care Is Justified; Results of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e14784.
Background
Depression is a common illness, often treated in primary care. Many studies have reported undertreatment with antidepressants in primary care. Recently, some studies also reported overtreatment with antidepressants. The present study was designed to assess whether treatment with antidepressants in primary care is in accordance with current guidelines, with a special focus on overtreatment.
Methodology
We used baseline data of primary care respondents from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) (n = 1610). Seventy-nine patients with treatment in secondary care were excluded. We assessed justification for treatment with antidepressant according to the Dutch primary care guidelines for depression and for anxiety disorders. Use of antidepressants was based on drug-container inspection or, if unavailable, on self-report. Results were recalculated to the original population of primary care patients from which the participants in NESDA were selected (n = 10,677).
Principal Findings
Of 1531 included primary care patients, 199 (13%) used an antidepressant, of whom 188 (94.5%) (possibly) justified. After recalculating these numbers to the original population (n = 10,677), we found 908 (95% CI 823 to 994) antidepressant users. Forty-nine (95% CI 20 to 78) of them (5.4%) had no current justification for an antidepressant, but 27 of them (54.5%) had a justified reason for an antidepressant at some earlier point in their life.
Conclusions
We found that overtreatment with antidepressants in primary care is not a frequent problem. Too long continuation of treatment seems to explain the largest proportion of overtreatment as opposed to inappropriate initiation of treatment.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0014784
PMCID: PMC3066192  PMID: 21479264
19.  Role of the general practitioner during the active breast cancer treatment phase: an analysis of health care use 
Supportive Care in Cancer  2011;20(4):705-714.
Purpose
Little is known about the actual involvement of the general practitioner (GP) during the active breast cancer treatment phase. Therefore, this study explored (disease-specific) primary health care use among women undergoing active treatment for breast cancer compared with women without breast cancer.
Methods
A total of 185 women with a first diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer between 1998 and 2007 were identified in the primary care database of the Registration Network Groningen and matched with a reference population of 548 women without breast cancer on birth year and GP.
Results
Since diagnosis, patients with breast cancer had twice as many face-to-face contacts compared with women from the reference population (median 6.0 vs 3.0/year, Mann–Whitney (M-W) test p < 0.001). The median number of drug prescriptions and referrals was also significantly higher among patients than among the reference population (11.0 vs 7.0/year, M-W test p < 0.001 and 1.0 vs 0.0/year, M-W test p < 0.001). More patients than women from the reference population had face-to-face contacts or were prescribed drugs for reasons related to breast cancer and its treatment, including gastrointestinal problems, psychological reasons and endocrine therapy.
Conclusions
During the active breast cancer treatment phase, GPs are involved in the management of treatment-related side effects and psychological symptoms, as well as in the administration of endocrine therapy. Based on the findings of this study, interventions across the primary/secondary interface can be planned to improve quality of life and other outcomes in patients undergoing breast cancer treatment.
doi:10.1007/s00520-011-1133-9
PMCID: PMC3297746  PMID: 21437780
Breast cancer; Health care utilisation; General practice; Active treatment phase; Primary care database
20.  Characteristics of general practice care: What do senior citizens value? A qualitative study 
BMC Geriatrics  2010;10:80.
Background
In view of the increasing number of senior citizens in our society who are likely to consult their GP with age-related health problems, it is important to identify and understand the preferences of this group in relation to the non-medical attributes of GP care. The aim of this study is to improve our understanding about preferences of this group of patients in relation to non-medical attributes of primary health care. This may help to develop strategies to improve the quality of care that senior citizens receive from their GP.
Methods
Semi-structured interviews (N = 13) with senior citizens (65-91 years) in a judgement sample were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The analysis was conducted according to qualitative research methodology and the frame work method.
Results
Continuity of care providers, i.e. GP and practice nurses, GPs' expertise, trust, free choice of GP and a kind open attitude were highly valued. Accessibility by phone did not meet the expectations of the interviewees. The interviewees had difficulties with the GP out-of-office hours services. Spontaneous home visits were appreciated by some, but rejected by others. They preferred to receive verbal information rather than collecting information from leaflets. Distance to the practice and continuity of caregiver seemed to conflict for respondents.
Conclusions
Preferences change in the process of ageing and growing health problems. GPs and their co-workers should be also aware of the changing needs of the elderly regarding non-medical attributes of GP care. Meeting their needs regarding non-medical attributes of primary health care is important to improve the quality of care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2318-10-80
PMCID: PMC2984451  PMID: 21044316
21.  Perceived need for mental health care and barriers to care in the Netherlands and Australia 
Purpose
This study of Australian and Dutch people with anxiety or depressive disorder aims to examine people’s perceived needs and barriers to care, and to identify possible similarities and differences.
Methods
Data from the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Well-Being and the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety were combined into one data set. The Perceived Need for Care Questionnaire was taken in both studies. Logistic regression analyses were performed to check if similarities or differences between Australia and the Netherlands could be observed.
Results
In both countries, a large proportion had unfulfilled needs and self-reliance was the most frequently named barrier to receive care. People from the Australian sample (N = 372) were more likely to perceive a need for medication (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.3–2.5), counselling (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.0–2.0) and practical support (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.2–2.7), and people’s overall needs in Australia were more often fully met compared with those of the Dutch sample (N = 610). Australians were more often pessimistic about the helpfulness of medication (OR 3.8; 95% CI 1.4–10.7) and skills training (OR 3.0; 95% CI 1.1–8.2) and reported more often financial barriers for not having received (enough) information (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.1–5.5) or counselling (OR 5.9; 95% CI 2.9–11.9).
Conclusions
In both countries, the vast majority of mental health care needs are not fulfilled. Solutions could be found in improving professionals’ skills or better collaboration. Possible explanations for the found differences in perceived need and barriers to care are discussed; these illustrate the value of examining perceived need across nations and suggest substantial commonalities of experience across the two countries.
doi:10.1007/s00127-010-0266-3
PMCID: PMC3173635  PMID: 20686887
Mental disorders; International comparison; Mental health surveys; Anxiety; Depression
22.  Patient Factors Associated with Guideline-concordant Treatment of Anxiety and Depression in Primary Care 
Objective
To identify associations of patient characteristics (predisposing, enabling and need factors) with guideline-concordant care for anxiety and depression in primary care.
Design
Analysis of data from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA).
Participants
Seven hundred and twenty-one patients with a current anxiety or depressive disorder, recruited from 67 general practitioners (GPs), were included.
Measures
Diagnoses according to the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) were made using a structured and widely validated assessment. Socio-demographic and enabling characteristics, severity of symptoms, disability, (under treatment for) chronic somatic conditions, perceived need for care, beliefs and evaluations of care were measured by questionnaires. Actual care data were derived from electronic medical records. Criteria for guideline-concordant care were based on general practice guidelines, issued by the Dutch College of General Practitioners.
Results
Two hundred and eighty-one (39%) patients received guideline-concordant care. High education level, accessibility of care, comorbidity of anxiety and depression, and severity and disability scores were positively associated with receiving guideline-concordant care in univariate analyses. In multivariate multi-level logistic regression models, significant associations with the clinical need factors disappeared. Positive evaluations of accessibility of care increased the chance (OR = 1.31; 95%−CI = 1.05–1.65; p = 0.02) of receiving guideline-concordant care, as well as perceiving any need for medication (OR = 2.99; 95%−CI = 1.84–4.85; p < 0.001), counseling (OR = 2.25; 95%−CI = 1.29–3.95; p = 0.005) or a referral (OR = 1.83; 95%−CI = 1.09–3.09; p = 0.02). A low educational level decreased the odds (OR = 0.33; 95%−CI = 0.11–0.98; p = 0.04) of receiving guideline-concordant care.
Conclusions
This study shows that education level, accessibility of care and patients’ perceived needs for care are more strongly associated with the delivery of guideline-concordant care for anxiety or depression than clinical need factors. Initiatives to improve GPs’ communication skills around mental health issues, and to improve recognition of people suffering from anxiety disorders, could increase the number of patients receiving treatment for depression and anxiety in primary care.
doi:10.1007/s11606-009-1216-1
PMCID: PMC2881973  PMID: 20049547
depression; psychology; guidelines; primary care; patient-centered care
23.  Does burnout among doctors affect their involvement in patients' mental health problems? A study of videotaped consultations 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:60.
Background
General practitioners' (GPs') feelings of burnout or dissatisfaction may affect their patient care negatively, but it is unknown if these negative feelings also affect their mental health care. GPs' available time, together with specific communication tools, are important conditions for providing mental health care. We investigated if GPs who feel burnt out or dissatisfied with the time available for their patients, are less inclined to encourage their patients to disclose their distress, and have shorter consultations, in order to gain time and energy. This may result in less psychological evaluations of patients' complaints.
Methods
We used 1890 videotaped consultations from a nationally representative sample of 126 Dutch GPs to analyse GPs' communication and the duration of their consultations. Burnout was subdivided into emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced accomplishment. Multilevel regression analyses were used to investigate which subgroups of GPs differed significantly.
Results
GPs with feelings of exhaustion or dissatisfaction with the available time have longer consultations compared to GPs without these feelings. Exhausted GPs, and GPs with feelings of depersonalisation, talk more about psychological or social topics in their consultations. GPs with feelings of reduced accomplishment are an exception: they communicate less affectively, are less patient-centred and have less eye contact with their patients compared to GPs without reduced accomplishment.
We found no relationship between GPs' feelings of burnout or dissatisfaction with the available time and their psychological evaluations of patients' problems.
Conclusion
GPs' feelings of burnout or dissatisfaction with the time available for their patients do not obstruct their diagnosis and awareness of patients' psychological problems. On the contrary, GPs with high levels of exhaustion or depersonalisation, and GPs who are dissatisfied with the available time, sometimes provide more opportunities to discuss mental health problems. This increases the chance that appropriate care will be found for patients with mental health problems. On the other hand, these GPs are themselves more likely to retire, or risk burnout, because of their dissatisfaction. Therefore these GPs may benefit from training or personal coaching to decrease the chance that the process of burnout will get out of hand.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-60
PMCID: PMC2754435  PMID: 19706200
24.  A survey of Dutch GPs’ attitudes towards help seeking and follow-up care for relatives bereaved by suicide 
Family Practice  2009;26(5):372-376.
Background. Relatives who are bereaved by suicide likely consult their GP when they feel the need for professional help. GPs may play a key role in establishing who is at risk for adverse consequences of the loss as they are familiar with relatives’ possible psychiatric vulnerabilities. The availability of evidence-based services for relatives of suicide victims is limited. Successful implementation of services needs analysis of key factors considered critical in the achievement of changes. We investigated GPs’ management of help requests of relatives bereaved by suicide and examined determinants of GPs willingness to refer for evidence-based follow-up care.
Methods. A cross-sectional survey among 488 GPs in the northern part of The Netherlands.
Results. A 44% response was achieved (n = 214) during the last 3 years, 38 (18%) were exposed to suicide, 21 (10%) to help requests without being exposed to suicide and 52 (24%) to both suicide and help requests. Out of 106 requests, 69 (65%) were handled by the GP; 60 (57%) were either directly or additionally referred, principally for mental health care. Suicide exposure and female gender were associated with the doctor's perception that follow-up care following a loss through suicide is useful. The perception that help is useful increased the likelihood of GPs’ referral for evidence-based follow-up care.
Conclusions. GPs support the availability of evidence-based follow-up care for relatives of suicide victims. To modify GPs’ key role in referring relatives for it, GPs should be well informed of its usefulness and to whom.
doi:10.1093/fampra/cmp046
PMCID: PMC2743735  PMID: 19654100
25.  The effects of exercise and weight loss in overweight patients with hip osteoarthritis: design of a prospective cohort study 
Background
Hip osteoarthritis (OA) is recognised as a substantial source of disability, with pain and loss of function as principal symptoms. An aging society and a growing number of overweight people, which is considered a risk factor for OA, contribute to the growing number of cases of hip OA. In knee OA patients, exercise as a single treatment is proven to be very effective towards counteracting pain and physical functionality, but the combination of weight loss and exercise is demonstrated to be even more effective. Exercise as a treatment for hip OA patients is also effective, however evidence is lacking for the combination of weight loss and exercise. Consequently, the aim of this study is to get a first impression of the potential effectiveness of exercise and weight loss in overweight patients suffering from hip OA.
Methods/Design
This is a prospective cohort study. Patients aged 25 or older, overweight (BMI > 25) or obese (BMI > 30), with clinical and radiographic evidence of OA of the hip and able to attend exercise sessions will be included. The intervention is an 8-month exercise and weight-loss lifestyle program. Main goal is to increase aerobic capacity, lose weight and stimulate a low-calorie and active lifestyle. Primary outcome is self-reported physical functioning. Secondary outcomes include pain, stiffness, health-related quality of life and habitual activity level. Weight loss in kilograms and percentage of fat-free mass will also be measured.
Discussion
The results of this study will give a first impression of potential effectiveness of exercise and weight loss as a combination program for patients with OA of the hip. Once this program is proven to be effective it may lead to postponing the moment of total hip replacement.
Trial Registration number
NTR1053
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-10-24
PMCID: PMC2649885  PMID: 19236692

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