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1.  Room for improvement: noise on a maternity ward 
For mothers who have just given birth, the postpartum hospital stay is meant to promote an environment where resting, healing and bonding can take place. New mothers, however, face many interruptions throughout the day including multiple visitors and noise caused by medical equipment, corridor conversations and intercom announcements. This paper argues that disruptions and noise on a maternity ward are detrimental to the healing process for new mothers and their newborns and healthcare decision-makers need to act to improve the environment for these patients. This paper also provides recommendations on how to reduce the noise levels, or at least control the noise on a maternity ward, through the implementation of a daily quiet time.
Hospital disruptions and its negative health effects in particular for new mothers and their children are illustrated in this paper. Hospital noise and interruptions act as a stressor for both new mothers and staff, and can lead to sleep deprivation and detrimental cardiovascular health effects. Sleep deprivation is associated with a number of negative mental and physical health consequences such as decreased immune function, vascular dysfunction and increased sympathetic cardiovascular modulation. Sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of postpartum mental health disorders in new mothers. Some efforts have been made to reduce the disruptions experienced by these patients within a hospital setting. For example, the introduction of a daily quiet time is one way of controlling noise levels and interruptions, however, these have mostly been implemented in intensive care units.
Noise and disruptions are a significant problem during postpartum hospital stay. Healthcare institutions are responsible for patient-centered care; a quiet time intervention promises to contribute to a safe, healing environment in hospitals.
PMCID: PMC4253989  PMID: 25432130
Health services research; Hospital; Maternity ward; Health care delivery; Health quality and safety
2.  Lifestyle factors and multimorbidity: a cross sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:686.
Lifestyle factors have been associated mostly with individual chronic diseases. We investigated the relationship between lifestyle factors (individual and combined) and the co-occurrence of multiple chronic diseases.
Cross-sectional analysis of results from the Program of Research on the Evolution of a Cohort Investigating Health System Effects (PRECISE) in Quebec, Canada. Subjects aged 45 years and older. A randomly-selected cohort in the general population recruited by telephone. Multimorbidity (3 or more chronic diseases) was measured by a simple count of self-reported chronic diseases from a list of 14. Five lifestyle factors (LFs) were evaluated: 1) smoking habit, 2) alcohol consumption, 3) fruit and vegetable consumption, 4) physical activity, and 5) body mass index (BMI). Each LF was given a score of 1 (unhealthy) if recommended behavioural targets were not achieved and 0 otherwise. The combined effect of unhealthy LFs (ULFs) was evaluated using the total sum of scores.
A total of 1,196 subjects were analyzed. Mean number of ULFs was 2.6 ± 1.1 SD. When ULFs were considered separately, there was an increased likelihood of multimorbidity with low or high BMI [Odd ratio (95% Confidence Interval): men, 1.96 (1.11-3.46); women, 2.57 (1.65-4.00)], and present or past smoker [men, 3.16 (1.74-5.73)]. When combined, in men, 4-5 ULFs increased the likelihood of multimorbidity [5.23 (1.70-16.1)]; in women, starting from a threshold of 2 ULFs [1.95 (1.05-3.62)], accumulating more ULFs progressively increased the likelihood of multimorbidity.
The present study provides support to the association of lifestyle factors and multimorbidity.
PMCID: PMC4096542  PMID: 24996220
Multimorbidity; Lifestyle factors; Smoking habit; Alcohol consumption; Fruit and vegetable consumption; Physical activity; Body mass index
4.  Providing high-quality care in primary care settings 
Canadian Family Physician  2014;60(5):e281-e289.
To gain a deeper understanding of how primary care (PC) practices belonging to different models manage resources to provide high-quality care.
Multiple-case study embedded in a cross-sectional study of a random sample of 37 practices.
Three regions of Quebec.
Health care professionals and staff of 5 PC practices.
Five cases showing above-average results on quality-of-care indicators were purposefully selected to contrast on region, practice size, and PC model. Data were collected using an organizational questionnaire; the Team Climate Inventory, which was completed by health care professionals and staff; and 33 individual interviews. Detailed case histories were written and thematic analysis was performed.
Main findings
The core common feature of these practices was their ongoing effort to make trade-offs to deliver services that met their vision of high-quality care. These compromises involved the same 3 areas, but to varying degrees depending on clinic characteristics: developing a shared vision of high-quality care; aligning resource use with that vision; and balancing professional aspirations and population needs. The leadership of the physician lead was crucial. The external environment was perceived as a source of pressure and dilemmas rather than as a source of support in these matters.
Irrespective of their models, PC practices’ pursuit of high-quality care is based on a vision in which accessibility is a key component, balanced by appropriate management of available resources and of external environment expectations. Current PC reforms often create tensions rather than support PC practices in their pursuit of high-quality care.
PMCID: PMC4020666  PMID: 24829023
5.  Patient-reported confidence in primary healthcare: are there disparities by ethnicity or language? 
BMJ Open  2014;4(2):e003884.
To examine whether confidence in primary healthcare (PHC) differs among ethnic–linguistic groups and which PHC experiences are associated with confidence.
A cross-sectional study where patient surveys were administered using random digit dialling. Regression models identify whether ethnic–linguistic group remains significantly associated with confidence in PHC.
British Columbia, Canada.
Main outcome measures
Confidence in PHC measured using a 0–10 scale, where a higher score indicates increased confidence in the ability to get needed PHC services.
Community-dwelling adults in the following ethnic–linguistic groups: English-speaking Chinese, Chinese-speaking Chinese, English-speaking South Asians, Punjabi-speaking South Asians and English-speakers of presumed European descent.
Based on a sample of 1211 respondents, confidence in PHC differed by ethnicity and the ability to speak English. Most of the differences in confidence by ethnic–linguistic group can be explained by various aspects of care experience. Patient experiences associated with lower confidence in PHC were: if care was received outside Canada, having to wait months to see their regular doctor and rating the quality of healthcare as good or fair/poor. Better patient experiences of their doctor being concerned about their feelings and being respectful and if they found wait times acceptable were associated with higher levels of confidence in PHC. The final regression model explained 30% of the variance.
Improving the delivery of PHC services through positive interactions between patients and their usual provider and acceptability of wait times are examples of how the PHC system can be strengthened.
PMCID: PMC3939667  PMID: 24568960
Primary Care; Health Services Administration & Management
6.  Characteristics of primary care practices associated with high quality of care 
No primary practice care model has been shown to be superior in achieving high-quality primary care. We aimed to identify the organizational characteristics of primary care practices that provide high-quality primary care.
We performed a cross-sectional observational study involving a stratified random sample of 37 primary care practices from 3 regions of Quebec. We recruited 1457 patients who had 1 of 2 chronic care conditions or 1 of 6 episodic care conditions. The main outcome was the overall technical quality score. We measured organizational characteristics by use of a validated questionnaire and the Team Climate Inventory. Statistical analyses were based on multilevel regression modelling.
The following characteristics were strongly associated with overall technical quality of care score: physician remuneration method (27.0; 95% confidence interval [CI] 19.0–35.0), extent of sharing of administrative resources (7.6; 95% CI 0.8–14.4), presence of allied health professionals (15.3; 95% CI 5.4–25.2) and/or specialist physicians (19.6; 95% CI 8.3–30.9), the presence of mechanisms for maintaining or evaluating competence (7.7; 95% CI 3.0–12.4) and average organizational access to the practice (4.9; 95% CI 2.6–7.2). The number of physicians (1.2; 95% CI 0.6–1.8) and the average Team Climate Inventory score (1.3; 95% CI 0.1–2.5) were modestly associated with high-quality care.
We identified a common set of organizational characteristics associated with high-quality primary care. Many of these characteristics are amenable to change through practice-level organizational changes.
PMCID: PMC3761041  PMID: 23877669
7.  Transforming primary healthcare by including the stakeholders involved in delivering care to people living in poverty: EQUIhealThY study protocol 
Ensuring access to timely and appropriate primary healthcare for people living in poverty is an issue facing all countries, even those with universal healthcare systems. The transformation of healthcare practices and organization could be improved by involving key stakeholders from the community and the healthcare system in the development of research interventions. The aim of this project is to stimulate changes in healthcare organizations and practices by encouraging collaboration between care teams and people living in poverty. Our objectives are twofold: 1) to identify actions required to promote the adoption of professional practices oriented toward social competence in primary care teams; and 2) to examine factors that would encourage the inclusion of people living in poverty in the process of developing social competence in healthcare organizations.
This study will use a participatory action research design applied in healthcare organizations. Participatory research is an increasingly recognized approach that is helpful for involving the people for whom the research results are intended. Our research team consists of 19 non-academic researchers, 11 academic researchers and six partners. A steering committee composed of academic researchers and stakeholders will have a decision-making role at each step, including knowledge dissemination and recommendations for new interventions. In this project we will adopt a multiphase approach and will use a variety of methods, including photovoice, group discussions and interviews.
The proposed study will be one of only a few using participatory research in primary care to foster changes aimed at enhancing quality and access to care for people living in poverty. To our knowledge this will be the first study to use photovoice in healthcare organizations to promote new interventions. Our project includes partners who are targeted for practice changes and improvements in delivering primary care to persons living in poverty. By involving knowledge users, including service recipients, our study is more likely to produce a transformation of professional practices and encourage healthcare organizations to take into account the needs of persons living in poverty.
PMCID: PMC3610178  PMID: 23497400
Participatory research; Poverty; Primary care; Photovoice; Knowledge transfer
8.  Validation of Instruments to Evaluate Primary Healthcare from the Patient Perspective: Overview of the Method 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):31-46.
Patient evaluations are an important part of monitoring primary healthcare reforms, but there is little comparative information available to guide evaluators in the choice of instruments or to determine their relevance for Canada.
To compare values and the psychometric performances of validated instruments thought to be most pertinent to the Canadian context for evaluating core attributes of primary healthcare.
Among validated instruments in the public domain, we selected six: the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS); the Primary Care Assessment Tool – Short Form (PCAT-S); the Components of Primary Care Index (CPCI); the first version of the EUROPEP (EUROPEP-I); the Interpersonal Processes of Care Survey, version II (IPC-II); and part of the Veterans Affairs National Outpatient Customer Satisfaction Survey (VANOCSS). We mapped subscales to operational definitions of attributes. All were administered to a sample of adult service users balanced by English/French language (in Nova Scotia and Quebec, respectively), urban/rural residency, high/low education and overall care experience. The sample was recruited from previous survey respondents, newspaper advertisements and community posters. We used common factor analysis to compare our factor resolution for each instrument to that of the developers.
Our sample of 645 respondents was approximately balanced by design variables, but considerable effort was required to recruit low-education and poor-experience respondents. Subscale scores are statistically different by excellent, average and poor overall experience, but interpersonal communication and respectfulness scores were the most discriminating of overall experience. We found fewer factors than did the developers, but when constrained to the number of expected factors, our item loadings were largely similar to those found by developers. Subscale reliability was equivalent to or higher than that reported by developers.
These instruments perform similarly in the Canadian context to their original development context, and can be used with confidence. Interpersonal and respectfulness scores are most discriminating of excellent, average or poor overall experience and are crucial dimensions of patient evaluations.
PMCID: PMC3399433  PMID: 23205034
9.  Relational Continuity from the Patient Perspective: Comparison of Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):124-138.
The operational definition of relational continuity is “a therapeutic relationship between a patient and one or more providers that spans various healthcare events and results in accumulated knowledge of the patient and care consistent with the patient's needs.”
To examine how well relational continuity is measured in validated instruments that evaluate primary healthcare from the patient's perspective.
645 adults with at least one healthcare contact in the previous 12 months responded to six instruments that evaluate primary healthcare. Five subscales map to relational continuity: the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS, two subscales), the Primary Care Assessment Tool – Short Form (PCAT-S) and the Components of Primary Care Index (CPCI, two subscales). Scores were normalized for descriptive comparison. Exploratory and confirmatory (structural equation modelling) factor analysis examined fit to operational definition, and item response theory analysis examined item performance on common constructs.
All subscales load reasonably well on a single factor, presumed to be relational continuity, but the best model has two underlying factors corresponding to (1) accumulated knowledge of the patient and (2) relationship that spans healthcare events. Some items were problematic even in the best model. The PCAS Contextual Knowledge subscale discriminates best between different levels of accumulated knowledge, but this dimension is also captured well by the CPCI Accumulated Knowledge subscale and most items in the PCAT-S Ongoing Care subscale. For relationship-spanning events, the items' content captures concentration of care in one doctor; this is captured best by the CPCI Preference for Regular Provider subscale and, to a lesser extent, by the PCAS Visit-Based Continuity subscale and one relevant item in the PCAT-S Ongoing Care subscale. But this dimension correlates only modestly with percentage of reported visits to the personal doctor. The items function as yes/no rather than ordinal options, and are especially informative for poor concentration of care.
These subscales perform well for key elements of relational continuity, but do not capture consistency of care. They are more informative for poor relational continuity.
PMCID: PMC3399435  PMID: 23205040
10.  Accessibility from the Patient Perspective: Comparison of Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):94-107.
The operational definition of first-contact accessibility is “the ease with which a person can obtain needed care (including advice and support) from the practitioner of choice within a time frame appropriate to the urgency of the problem”; accommodation is “the way healthcare resources are organized to accommodate a wide range of patients' abilities to contact healthcare providers and reach healthcare services, that is to say telephone services, flexible appointment systems, hours of operation, and walk-in periods.”
To compare how well accessibility is measured in validated subscales that evaluate primary healthcare from the patient's perspective.
645 adults with at least one healthcare contact in the previous 12 months responded to six instruments that evaluate primary healthcare with four subscales that measure accessibility: the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS), the Primary Care Assessment Tool – Short Form (PCAT-S, two subscales) and the first version of the EUROPEP (EUROPEP-I). Scores were normalized to a 0-to-10 scale for descriptive comparison. Exploratory and confirmatory (structural equation modelling) factor analysis examined fit to operational definition, and item response theory analysis examined item performance on common constructs.
The subscales demonstrate similar psychometric measures to those reported by developers. The PCAT-S First-Contact Utilization subscale does not fit the accessibility construct. The remaining three subscales load reasonably onto a single factor, presumed to be accessibility, but the best-fitting model has two factors: “timeliness of obtaining needed care” (PCAT-S First-Contact Access, some EUROPEP-I items) and “how resources are organized to accommodate clients” (PCAS Organizational Access and most of EUROPEP-I organization of care). Items in the PCAS and PCAT-S subscales have good discriminability.
Only three of the four subscales measure accessibility; all are appropriate for use in Canada. The PCAT-S First-Contact Access subscale is the best measure for first-contact accessibility, and PCAS Organizational Accessibility has good metric properties and measures for accommodation.
PMCID: PMC3399437  PMID: 23205038
11.  Respectfulness from the Patient Perspective: Comparison of Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):167-179.
Respectfulness is one measurable and core element of healthcare responsiveness. The operational definition of respectfulness is “the extent to which health professionals and support staff meet users' expectations about interpersonal treatment, demonstrate respect for the dignity of patients and provide adequate privacy.”
To examine how well respectfulness is captured in validated instruments that evaluate primary healthcare from the patient's perspective, whether or not their developers had envisaged these as representing respectfulness.
645 adults with at least one healthcare contact with their own regular doctor or clinic in the previous 12 months responded to six instruments, two subscales that mapped to respectfulness: the Interpersonal Processes of Care, version II (IPC-II, two subscales) and the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS). Additionally, there were individual respectfulness items in subscales measuring other attributes in the Components of Primary Care Index (CPCI) and the first version of the EUROPEP (EUROPEP-I). Scores were normalized for descriptive comparison. Exploratory and confirmatory (structural equation modelling) factor analyses examined fit to operational definition.
Respectfulness scales correlate highly with one another and with interpersonal communication. All items load adequately on a single factor, presumed to be respectfulness, but the best model has three underlying factors corresponding to (1) physician's interpersonal treatment (eigenvalue=13.99), (2) interpersonal treatment by office staff (eigenvalue=2.13) and (3) respect for the dignity of the person (eigenvalue=1.16). Most items capture physician's interpersonal treatment (IPC-II Compassionate, Respectful Interpersonal Style, IPC-II Hurried Communication and PCAS Interpersonal Treatment). The IPC-II Interpersonal Style (Disrespectful Office Staff) captures treatment by staff, but only three items capture dignity.
Various items or subscales seem to measure respectfulness among currently available validated instruments. However, many of these items related to other constructs, such as interpersonal communication. Further studies should aim at developing more refined measures – especially for privacy and dignity – and assess the relevance of the broader concept of responsiveness.
PMCID: PMC3399438  PMID: 23205043
12.  Comprehensiveness of Care from the Patient Perspective: Comparison of Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):154-166.
Comprehensiveness relates both to scope of services offered and to a whole-person clinical approach. Comprehensive services are defined as “the provision, either directly or indirectly, of a full range of services to meet most patients' healthcare needs”; whole-person care is “the extent to which a provider elicits and considers the physical, emotional and social aspects of a patient's health and considers the community context in their care.” Among instruments that evaluate primary healthcare, two had subscales that mapped to comprehensive services and to the community component of whole-person care: the Primary Care Assessment Tool – Short Form (PCAT-S) and the Components of Primary Care Index (CPCI, a limited measure of whole-person care).
To examine how well comprehensiveness is captured in validated instruments that evaluate primary healthcare from the patient's perspective.
645 adults with at least one healthcare contact in the previous 12 months responded to six instruments that evaluate primary healthcare. Scores were normalized for descriptive comparison. Exploratory and confirmatory (structural equation modelling) factor analysis examined fit to operational definition, and item response theory analysis examined item performance on common constructs.
Over one-quarter of respondents had missing responses on services offered or doctor's knowledge of the community. The subscales did not load on a single factor; comprehensive services and community orientation were examined separately. The community orientation subscales did not perform satisfactorily. The three comprehensive services subscales fit very modestly onto two factors: (1) most healthcare needs (from one provider) (CPCI Comprehensive Care, PCAT-S First-Contact Utilization) and (2) range of services (PCAT-S Comprehensive Services Available). Individual item performance revealed several problems.
Measurement of comprehensiveness is problematic, making this attribute a priority for measure development. Range of services offered is best obtained from providers. Whole-person care is not addressed as a separate construct, but some dimensions are covered by attributes such as interpersonal communication and relational continuity.
PMCID: PMC3399439  PMID: 23205042
13.  Interpersonal Communication from the Patient Perspective: Comparison of Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):108-123.
The operational definition of interpersonal communication is “the ability of the provider to elicit and understand patient concerns, to explain healthcare issues and to engage in shared decision-making if desired.”
To examine how well interpersonal communication is captured in validated instruments that evaluate primary healthcare from the patient's perspective.
645 adults with at least one healthcare contact in the previous 12 months responded to instruments that evaluate primary healthcare. Eight subscales measure interpersonal communication: the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS, two subscales); the Components of Primary Care Index (CPCI, one subscale); the first version of the EUROPEP (EUROPEP-I); and the Interpersonal Processes of Care Survey, version II (IPC-II, four subscales). Scores were normalized for descriptive comparison. Exploratory and confirmatory (structural equation) factor analysis examined fit to operational definition, and item response theory analysis examined item performance.
Items not pertaining to interpersonal communication were removed from the EUROPEP-I. Most subscales are skewed positively. Normalized mean scores are similar across subscales except for IPC-II Patient-Centred Decision-Making and IPC-II Hurried Communication. All subscales load reasonably well on a single factor, presumed to be interpersonal communication. The best model has three underlying factors corresponding to eliciting (eigenvalue = 26.56), explaining (eigenvalue = 2.45) and decision-making (eigenvalue = 1.34). Both the PCAS Communication and the EUROPEP-I Clinical Behaviour subscales capture all three dimensions. Individual subscales within IPC-II measure each sub-dimension.
The operational definition is well reflected in the available measures, although shared decision-making is poorly represented. These subscales can be used with confidence in the Canadian context to measure this crucial aspect of patient-centred care.
PMCID: PMC3399440  PMID: 23205039
14.  What Patients Tell Us about Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments: Response Formats, Bad Questions and Missing Pieces 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):66-78.
Instruments have been developed that measure consumer evaluations of primary healthcare using different approaches, formats and questions to measure similar attributes. In 2004 we concurrently administered six validated instruments to adults and conducted discussion groups to explore how well the instruments allowed patients to express their healthcare experience and to get their feedback about questions and formats.
We held 13 discussion groups (n=110 participants): nine in metropolitan, rural and remote areas of Quebec; four in metropolitan and rural Nova Scotia. Participants noted critical incidents in their healthcare experience over the previous year, then responded to all six instruments under direct observation and finally participated in guided discussions for 30 to 40 minutes. The instruments were: the Primary Care Assessment Survey; the Primary Care Assessment Tool; the Components of Primary Care Index; the EUROPEP; the Interpersonal Processes of Care Survey; and part of the Veterans Affairs National Outpatient Customer Satisfaction Survey. Two team members analyzed discussion transcripts for content.
While respondents appreciated consistency in response options, they preferred options that vary to fit the question. Likert response scales functioned best; agreement scales were least appreciated. Questions that average experience over various providers or over many events diluted the capacity to detect critical negative or positive incidents. Respondents tried to answer all questions but stressed that they were not able to report accurately on elements outside their direct experience or in the provider's world. They liked short questions and instruments, except where these compromise clarity or result in crowded formatting. All the instruments were limited in their capacity to report on the interface with other levels of care.
Each instrument has strengths and weaknesses and could be marginally improved, but respondents accurately detected their intent and use. Their feedback offers insight for instrument development.
PMCID: PMC3399441  PMID: 23205036
15.  Management Continuity from the Patient Perspective: Comparison of Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):139-153.
Management continuity, operationally defined as “the extent to which services delivered by different providers are timely and complementary such that care is experienced as connected and coherent,” is a core attribute of primary healthcare. Continuity, as experienced by the patient, is the result of good care coordination or integration.
To provide insight into how well management continuity is measured in validated coordination or integration subscales of primary healthcare instruments.
Relevant subscales from the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS), the Primary Care Assessment Tool – Short Form (PCAT-S), the Components of Primary Care Instrument (CPCI) and the Veterans Affairs National Outpatient Customer Satisfaction Survey (VANOCSS) were administered to 432 adult respondents who had at least one healthcare contact with a provider other than their family physician in the previous 12 months. Subscales were examined descriptively, by correlation and factor analysis and item response theory analysis. Because the VANOCSS elicits coordination problems and is scored dichotomously, we used logistic regression to examine how evaluative subscales relate to reported problems.
Most responses to the PCAS, PCAT-S and CPCI subscales were positive, yet 83% of respondents reported having one or more problems on the VANOCSS Overall Coordination subscale and 41% on the VANOCSS Specialist Access subscale. Exploratory factor analysis suggests two distinct factors. The first (eigenvalue=6.98) is coordination actions by the primary care physician in transitioning patient care to other providers (PCAS Integration subscale and most of the PCAT-S Coordination subscale). The second (eigenvalue=1.20) is efforts by the primary care physician to create coherence between different visits both within and outside the regular doctor's office (CPCI Coordination subscale). The PCAS Integration subscale was most strongly associated with lower likelihood of problems reported on the VANOCSS subscales.
Ratings of management continuity correspond only modestly to reporting of coordination problems, possibly because they rate only the primary care physician, whereas patients experience problems across the entire system. The subscales were developed as measures of integration and provider coordination and do not capture the patient's experience of connectedness and coherence.
PMCID: PMC3399442  PMID: 23205041
17.  An Overview of Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Item Response Analysis Applied to Instruments to Evaluate Primary Healthcare 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):79-92.
This paper presents an overview of the analytic approaches that we used to assess the performance and structure of measures that evaluate primary healthcare; six instruments were administered concurrently to the same set of patients. The purpose is (a) to provide clinicians, researchers and policy makers with an overview of the psychometric methods used in this series of papers to assess instrument performance and (b) to articulate briefly the rationale, the criteria used and the ways in which results can be interpreted. For illustration, we use the case of instrument subscales evaluating accessibility. We discuss (1) distribution of items, including treatment of missing values, (2) exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis to identify how items from different subscales relate to a single underlying construct or sub-dimension and (3) item response theory analysis to examine whether items can discriminate differences between individuals with high and low scores, and whether the response options work well. Any conclusion about the relative performance of instruments or items will depend on the type of analytic technique used. Our study design and analytic methods allow us to compare instrument subscales, discern common constructs and identify potentially problematic items.
PMCID: PMC3399444  PMID: 23205037
18.  Canadian Experts' Views on the Importance of Attributes within Professional and Community-Oriented Primary Healthcare Models 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):21-30.
The aim of this study was to rate the importance of primary healthcare (PHC) attributes in evaluations of PHC organizational models in Canada.
Using the Delphi process, we conducted a consensus consultation with 20 persons recognized by peers as Canadian PHC experts, who rated the importance of PHC attributes within professional and community-oriented models of PHC.
Attributes rated as essential to all models were designated core attributes: first-contact accessibility, comprehensiveness of services, relational continuity, coordination (management) continuity, interpersonal communication, technical quality of clinical care and clinical information management. Overall, while all were important, non-core attributes – except efficiency/productivity – were rated as more important in community-oriented than in professional models. Attributes rated as essential for community-oriented models were equity, client/community participation, population orientation, cultural sensitivity and multidisciplinary teams.
Evaluation tools should address core attributes and be customized in accordance with the specific organizational models being evaluated to guide health reforms.
PMCID: PMC3399445  PMID: 23205033
19.  Differential Item Functioning in Primary Healthcare Evaluation Instruments by French/English Version, Educational Level and Urban/Rural Location 
Healthcare Policy  2011;7(Spec Issue):47-65.
Evaluating the extent to which groups or subgroups of individuals differ with respect to primary healthcare experience depends on first ruling out the possibility of bias.
To determine whether item or subscale performance differs systematically between French/English, high/low education subgroups and urban/rural residency.
A sample of 645 adult users balanced by French/English language (in Quebec and Nova Scotia, respectively), high/low education and urban/rural residency responded to six validated instruments: the Primary Care Assessment Survey (PCAS); the Primary Care Assessment Tool – Short Form (PCAT-S); the Components of Primary Care Index (CPCI); the first version of the EUROPEP (EUROPEP-I); the Interpersonal Processes of Care Survey, version II (IPC-II); and part of the Veterans Affairs National Outpatient Customer Satisfaction Survey (VANOCSS). We normalized subscale scores to a 0-to-10 scale and tested for between-group differences using ANOVA tests. We used a parametric item response model to test for differences between subgroups in item discriminability and item difficulty. We re-examined group differences after removing items with differential item functioning.
Experience of care was assessed more positively in the English-speaking (Nova Scotia) than in the French-speaking (Quebec) respondents. We found differential English/French item functioning in 48% of the 153 items: discriminability in 20% and differential difficulty in 28%. English items were more discriminating generally than the French. Removing problematic items did not change the differences in French/English assessments. Differential item functioning by high/low education status affected 27% of items, with items being generally more discriminating in high-education groups. Between-group comparisons were unchanged. In contrast, only 9% of items showed differential item functioning by geography, affecting principally the accessibility attribute. Removing problematic items reversed a previously non-significant finding, revealing poorer first-contact access in rural than in urban areas.
Differential item functioning does not bias or invalidate French/English comparisons on subscales, but additional development is required to make French and English items equivalent. These instruments are relatively robust by educational status and geography, but results suggest potential differences in the underlying construct in low-education and rural respondents.
PMCID: PMC3399446  PMID: 23205035
20.  Supporting parents of preschool children in adopting a healthy lifestyle 
BMC Nursing  2012;11:12.
Childhood obesity is a public health epidemic. In Canada 21.5% of children aged 2–5 are overweight, with psychological and physical consequences for the child and economic consequences for society. Parents often do not view their children as overweight. One way to prevent overweight is to adopt a healthy lifestyle (HL). Nurses with direct access to young families could assess overweight and support parents in adopting HL. But what is the best way to support them if they do not view their child as overweight? A better understanding of parents’ representation of children’s overweight might guide the development of solutions tailored to their needs.
This study uses an action research design, a participatory approach mobilizing all stakeholders around a problem to be solved. The general objective is to identify, with nurses working with families, ways to promote HL among parents of preschoolers. Specific objectives are to: 1) describe the prevalence of overweight in preschoolers at vaccination time; 2) describe the representation of overweight and HL, as reported by preschoolers’ parents; 3) explore the views of nurses working with young families regarding possible solutions that could become a clinical tool to promote HL; and 4) try to identify a direction concerning the proposed strategies that could be used by nurses working with this population. First, an epidemiological study will be conducted in vaccination clinics: 288 4–5-year-olds will be weighed and measured. Next, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with 20 parents to describe their representation of HL and their child’s weight. Based on the results from these two steps, by means of a focus group nurses will identify possible strategies to the problem. Finally, focus groups of parents, then nurses and finally experts will give their opinions of these strategies in order to find a direction for these strategies. Descriptive and correlational statistical analyses will be done on the quantitative survey data using SPSS. Qualitative data will be analyzed using Huberman and Miles’ (2003) approach. NVivo will be used for the analysis and data management.
The anticipated benefits of this rigorous approach will be to identify and develop potential intervention strategies in partnership with preschoolers’ parents and produce a clinical tool reflecting the views of parents and nurses working with preschoolers’ parents.
PMCID: PMC3489519  PMID: 22852762
Overweight; Childhood; Preschool; Parental opinion; Health promotion; Action research
21.  Mapping the coverage of attributes in validated instruments that evaluate primary healthcare from the patient perspective 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:20.
Primary healthcare in developed countries is undergoing important reforms, and these require evaluation strategies to assess how well the population's expectations are being met. Although numerous instruments are available to evaluate primary healthcare (PHC) from the patient perspective, they do not all measure the same range of constructs. To analyze the extent to which important PHC attributes are covered in validated instruments measuring quality of care from the patient perspective.
We systematically identified validated instruments from the literature and by consulting experts. Using a Delphi consensus-building process, Canadian PHC experts identified and operationally defined 24 important PHC attributes. One team member mapped instrument subscales to these operational definitions; this mapping was then independently validated by members of the research team and conflicts were resolved by the PHC experts.
Of the 24 operational definitions, 13 were evaluated as being best measured by patients, 10 by providers, three by administrative databases and one by chart audits (some being best measured by more than one source). Our search retained 17 measurement tools containing 118 subscales. After eliminating redundancies, we mapped 13 unique measurement tools to the PHC attributes. Accessibility, relational continuity, interpersonal communication, management continuity, respectfulness and technical quality of clinical care were the attributes widely covered by available instruments. Advocacy, management of clinical information, comprehensiveness of services, cultural sensitivity, family-centred care, whole-person care and equity were poorly covered.
Validated instruments to evaluate PHC quality from the patient perspective leave many important attributes of PHC uncovered. A complete assessment of PHC quality will require adjusting existing tools and/or developing new instruments.
PMCID: PMC3353250  PMID: 22423617
Primary healthcare; Quality of healthcare; Qualitative analysis; Measurement instruments
22.  Validation of the disease burden morbidity assessment by self-report in a French-speaking population 
The Disease Burden Morbidity Assessment (DBMA) is a self-report questionnaire used to estimate the disease burden experienced by patients. The aim of this study was to test and to measure the properties of the French translation of the DBMA (DBMA-Fv).
The original version of the DBMA was translated into French (Canadian) and first assessed during cognitive interviews. In the validation study, patients recruited during consecutive consultation periods completed the DBMA-Fv questionnaire while they were in the waiting room of a primary care setting (T1). Participants completed the same questionnaire mailed to their home two weeks later (T2). Concomitant validity of the DBMA-Fv was assessed using the Cumulative Illness Rating Scale (CIRS). Patient medical records were reviewed to verify chronic diseases and past medical history.
Ninety-seven patients were recruited and 85 (88%) returned the mailed questionnaires; 5 (5.9%) were incomplete. DBMA-Fv scores of the 80 participants with a complete questionnaire at T2 ranged from 0 to 30 (median 5.5, mean 7.7, SD = 7.0). Test-retest reliability of the DBMA-Fv was high (ICC: 0.86, 95% CI: 0.79-0.92). The DBMA-Fv and the CIRS correlated moderately at T1 (r = 0.46, 95% CI: 0.26 - 0.62, p < 0.01) and T2 (r = 0.56, 95% CI: 0.38 - 0.70, p < 0.01). The mean (SD) sensitivity of patient reports of a condition in relation to chart review at T2 was 73.9 (8.4) (range 62.5% to 90%). The overall mean (SD) specificity was 92.2 (6.7) (range 77.6% to 98.6%).
The DBMA-Fv's properties are similar to its English counterpart as to its median sensitivity and specificity compared to chart reviews. It correlated moderately with an established index of multimorbidity. A high percentage of patients were able to complete the test correctly as a mail questionnaire and it showed high test-retest reliability.
PMCID: PMC3305524  PMID: 22333434
23.  Availability of Healthcare Resources, Positive Ratings of the Care Experience and Extent of Service Use: An Unexpected Relationship 
Healthcare Policy  2011;6(3):46-56.
Two main avenues are advocated to improve the capability of healthcare systems to satisfy the public's needs and expectations: more resources and better organization. This paper sheds some light on this debate. It assesses the extent to which patients' positive rating of their healthcare experience and the extent to which they use services are related to the availability of healthcare resources. Findings indicate that patients' evaluations of their care experience and use of services were higher when the availability of resources was either limited or average. In no case were positive ratings of services and greater use of them associated with greater resource availability. Thus, simply adding resources runs the risk of diminishing, rather than improving, users' healthcare experience.
PMCID: PMC3082387  PMID: 22294991
24.  Management continuity in local health networks 
Patients increasingly receive care from multiple providers in a variety of settings. They expect management continuity that crosses boundaries and bridges gaps in the healthcare system. To our knowledge, little research has been done to assess coordination across organizational and professional boundaries from the patients’ perspective. Our objective was to assess whether greater local health network integration is associated with management continuity as perceived by patients.
We used the data from a research project on the development and validation of a generic and comprehensive continuity measurement instrument that can be applied to a variety of patient conditions and settings. We used the results of a cross-sectional survey conducted in 2009 with 256 patients in two local health networks in Quebec, Canada. We compared four aspects of management continuity between two contrasting network types (highly integrated vs. poorly integrated).
The scores obtained in the highly integrated network are better than those of the poorly integrated network on all dimensions of management continuity (coordinator role, role clarity and coordination between clinics, and information gaps between providers) except for experience of care plan.
Some aspects of care coordination among professionals and organizations are noticed by patients and may be valid indicators to assess care coordination.
PMCID: PMC3429137  PMID: 22977427
management continuity; patient perspective; coordination of care
25.  Consultation with cardiologists for persons with new-onset chronic heart failure: A population-based study 
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology  2009;25(12):690-694.
It is recommended that persons recently diagnosed with heart failure consult with a specialist in heart failure.
To determine whether patients who were diagnosed with new-onset chronic heart failure (CHF) by a noncardiologist consulted with a cardiologist, and identify the factors associated with delayed consultation.
Physician reimbursement administrative data were obtained for all adults with suspected new-onset CHF in the year 2000 in Quebec, defined operationally as a physician visit for CHF (based on the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision diagnostic codes), with no previous physician visit code for CHF in the preceding three years. Among those first diagnosed by a noncardiologist, Cox regression modelling was used to identify patient and physician characteristics associated with time to cardiology consultation.
Of the 13,523 persons coded as having incident CHF, 54.9% consulted a cardiologist within the next 2.5 to 3.5 years, and 67.4% were seen by an internist or cardiologist. Older patients, women, and those with lower comorbidity and socioeconomic status had significantly longer times to cardiology consultation.
The data suggest that many patients with suspected new-onset CHF do not receive prompt cardiology care, as stipulated by current recommendations. Equity of access for women and those with lower socioeconomic status appears to be problematic.
PMCID: PMC2807830  PMID: 19960128
Congestive heart failure; Health policy; Referral to cardiologists

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