People with limited health literacy are more likely to be socioeconomically disadvantaged and have risk factors for preventable chronic diseases. General practice is the ideal setting to address these inequalities however these patients engage less in preventive activities and experience difficulties navigating health services.
This study aimed to compare primary care patients with and without sufficient health literacy in terms of their lifestyle risk factors, and explore factors associated with receiving advice and referral for these risk factors from their GPs.
A mailed survey of 739 patients from 30 general practices across four Australian states was conducted in 2012. Health literacy was measured using the Health Literacy Management Scale. Patients with a mean score of <4 within any domain were defined as having insufficient health literacy. Multilevel logistic regression was used to adjust for clustering of patients within practices.
Patients with insufficient health literacy (n = 351; 48%) were more likely to report being overweight or obese, and less likely to exercise adequately. Having insufficient health literacy increased a patient’s chance of receiving advice on diet, physical activity or weight management, and referral to and attendance at lifestyle modification programs. Not speaking English at home; being overweight or obese; and attending a small sized practice also increased patients’ chances of receiving advice on these lifestyle risks. Few (5%, n = 37) of all patients reported being referred to lifestyle modification program and of those around three-quarters had insufficient health literacy. Overweight or obese patients were more likely to be referred to lifestyle modification programs and patients not in paid employment were more likely to be referred to and attend lifestyle programs.
Patients with insufficient health literacy were more likely to report receiving advice and being referred by GPs to attend lifestyle modification. Although the number of patients referred from this sample was very low, these findings are positive in that they indicate that GPs are identifying patients with low health literacy and appropriately referring them for assistance with lifestyle modification. Future research should measure the effectiveness of these lifestyle programs for patients with low health literacy.
Health literacy; Obesity; Nutrition; Physical activity; Weight; Primary health care; Behavioural risk factors
To describe and evaluate the effectiveness of tailored intervention on village doctor’s use of electronic health records (EHR) in rural community health services in less developed areas.
Ten townships were selected. In each township, two similar health service station (CHSS) were chosen. One was randomly as allocated to the intervention group, the other to the control group. Over six monthly visits, a structured on-site intervention including education, supervision and technical support was provided to village doctors in the intervention group tailored to their needs. The Control group received no visits. A sample of 20 families from each CHSS was randomly chosen. An online evaluation of each family’s EHR was conducted by the investigators at baseline and at the end of the 6 month intervention.
In the intervention group, the proportion of households with complete records increased: basic personal information from 2.6% to 32.5%, (Z = -15.099, P = 0.000) and health education records from 0.3% to 1.6% (Z = -4.459, P = 0.000). Similarly at baseline none of the 80 elders had her records. This increased in the intervention group to 16.4% recorded in part and 37.0% in full (Z = -7.480, P = 0.000). The proportion of complete health management records for children aged 1 to 2 years and 3 to 6 years increased from 28.6% and 33.3% to 66.7% and 74.2% respectively (the difference of children group 3 to 6 years of age was statistically significant, Z = -3.860, p = 0.000). The proportion of complete basic clinic records in the intervention group increased from 7.6% to 13.9% (Z = -3.252, P = 0.001). There were no significant differences in the control group.
The pilot study showed that a on-site education, supervision and technical support tailored to their needs was associated with improvements in village doctors use of EHR. This model is worthy of implementation in other rural areas.
EHR; Village doctors; Pilot study; Personalized intervention; Rural areas
To evaluate the impact of a model of rural community health service (CHS) on the use and acceptability of primary healthcare services.
Two adjacent rural counties in China.
5842 residents in 2009 and 3807 in 2010 from 980 households in 7 intervention townships and 49 villages; 2232 residents in 2009 and 2315 in 2010 from 628 households in 3 comparison townships and 9 villages. All residents were approached to participate, with no significant differences in age or sex between groups.
Multilevel intervention in 2009 including training rural practitioners, encouraging clinic improvements, providing clinical guidelines, standards and subsidies.
Surveys of community members from randomly sampled households in 2009 and 2010.
Primary outcome measures
Satisfaction with and utilisation of outpatient and public health services.
Factor analysis confirmed two components of satisfaction. Univariate and multilevel analysis was used.
Satisfaction scores for intervention county respondents increased from 21.4 (95% CI 21.1 to 21.7) to 22.1 (95% CI 21.7 to 22.4) with no change in comparison area. In multilevel analysis, satisfaction with patient-centred care was associated with chronic disease, shorter waiting times and county. Satisfaction with clinic environment and cost was associated with female gender, shorter waiting times but not county. The proportion of children receiving immunisation in intervention village clinics increased from 42.5% (95% CI 27.9% to 47.1%) to 59.2% (95% CI 53.8% to 64.6%) whereas this decreased in comparison villages (16.5%; 95% CI 10.3% to 22.7% to 6.0%; 95% CI 1.3% to 10.7%). Antenatal visits increased in intervention villages (from 69.0%, 95% CI 65.8% to 73.1% to 75.8%, 95% CI 72.2% to 79.4%) with no change in comparison villages.
Introduction of a CHS model adapted to economically less-developed rural areas was associated with some improvements in satisfaction with care and use of some village-based public health services. Further research is needed to determine its public health impact and application to other areas.
Primary Care; Public Health
Health Impact Assessment (HIA) involves assessing how proposals may alter the determinants of health prior to implementation and recommends changes to enhance positive and mitigate negative impacts. HIAs growing use needs to be supported by a strong evidence base, both to validate the value of its application and to make its application more robust. We have carried out the first systematic empirical study of the influence of HIA on decision-making and implementation of proposals in Australia and New Zealand. This paper focuses on identifying whether and how HIAs changed decision-making and implementation and impacts that participants report following involvement in HIAs.
We used a two-step process first surveying 55 HIAs followed by 11 in-depth case studies. Data gathering methods included questionnaires with follow-up interview, semi-structured interviews and document collation. We carried out deductive and inductive qualitative content analyses of interview transcripts and documents as well as simple descriptive statistics.
We found that most HIAs are effective in some way. HIAs are often directly effective in changing, influencing, broadening areas considered and in some cases having immediate impact on decisions. Even when HIAs are reported to have no direct effect on a decision they are often still effective in influencing decision-making processes and the stakeholders involved in them. HIA participants identify changes in relationships, improved understanding of the determinants of health and positive working relationships as major and sustainable impacts of their involvement.
This study clearly demonstrates direct and indirect effectiveness of HIA influencing decision making in Australia and New Zealand. We recommend that public health leaders and policy makers should be confident in promoting the use of HIA and investing in building capacity to undertake high quality HIAs. New findings about the value HIA stakeholders put on indirect impacts such as learning and relationship building suggest HIA has a role both as a technical tool that makes predictions of potential impacts of a policy, program or project and as a mechanism for developing relationships with and influencing other sectors. Accordingly when evaluating the effectiveness of HIAs we need to look beyond the direct impacts on decisions.
Health impact assessment; Effectiveness; Evaluation
Refugees have many complex health care needs which should be addressed by the primary health care services, both on their arrival in resettlement countries and in their transition to long-term care. The aim of this narrative synthesis is to identify the components of primary health care service delivery models for such populations which have been effective in improving access, quality and coordination of care.
A systematic review of the literature, including published systematic reviews, was undertaken. Studies between 1990 and 2011 were identified by searching Medline, CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Scopus, Australian Public Affairs Information Service – Health, Health and Society Database, Multicultural Australian and Immigration Studies and Google Scholar. A limited snowballing search of the reference lists of all included studies was also undertaken. A stakeholder advisory committee and international advisers provided papers from grey literature. Only English language studies of evaluated primary health care models of care for refugees in developed countries of resettlement were included.
Twenty-five studies met the inclusion criteria for this review of which 15 were Australian and 10 overseas models. These could be categorised into six themes: service context, clinical model, workforce capacity, cost to clients, health and non-health services. Access was improved by multidisciplinary staff, use of interpreters and bilingual staff, no-cost or low-cost services, outreach services, free transport to and from appointments, longer clinic opening hours, patient advocacy, and use of gender-concordant providers. These services were affordable, appropriate and acceptable to the target groups. Coordination between the different health care services and services responding to the social needs of clients was improved through case management by specialist workers. Quality of care was improved by training in cultural sensitivity and appropriate use of interpreters.
The elements of models most frequently associated with improved access, coordination and quality of care were case management, use of specialist refugee health workers, interpreters and bilingual staff. These findings have implications for workforce planning and training.
Access; Coordination; Health care models; Primary health care; Quality of care; Refugee; Migrant; Immigrant; Health services evaluation
The process of initiating and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviours is complex, includes a number of distinct phases and is not static. Theoretical models of behaviour change consider psychological constructs such as intention and self efficacy but do not clearly consider the role of stress or psychological distress. General practice based interventions addressing lifestyle behaviours have been demonstrated to be feasible and effective however it is not clear whether general practitioners (GPs) take psychological health into consideration when discussing lifestyle behaviours. This qualitative study explores GPs’ and patients’ perspectives about the relationship between external stressors, psychological distress and maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviours.
Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 16 patients and 5 GPs. Transcripts from the interviews were thematically analysed and a conceptual model developed to explain the relationship between external stressors, psychological distress and healthly lifestyle behaviours.
Participants were motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle however they described a range of external factors that impacted on behaviour in both positive and negative ways, either directly or via their impact on psychological distress. The impact of external factors was moderated by coping strategies, beliefs, habits and social support. In some cases the process of changing or maintaining healthy behaviour also caused distress. The concept of a threshold level of distress was evident in the data with patients and GPs describing a certain level of distress required before it negatively influenced behaviour.
Maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviours is complex and constantly under challenge from external stressors. Practitioners can assist patients with maintaining healthy behaviour by providing targeted support to moderate the impact of external stressors.
Outcomes for colorectal cancer patients vary significantly. Compared to other countries, Australia has a good record with patient outcomes, yet there is little information available on the referral pathway. This paper explores the views of Australian patients and their experiences of referral for colorectal cancer treatment following diagnosis; the aim was to improve our understanding of the referral pathway and guide the development of future interventions.
A purposive sampling strategy was used, recruiting 29 patients representing urban and rural areas from 3 Australian states who participated in 4 focus groups. Seven patients provided individual interviews to supplement the data. Recordings were transcribed verbatim, data was coded with NVivo software and analysed thematically before deductive analysis.
Four aspects of the referral process were identified by patients, namely detection/diagnosis, referral for initial treatment/specialist care, the roles of the GP/specialist, and the patient’s perceived involvement in the process. The referral process was characterised by a lack of patient involvement, with few examples of shared decision-making and few examples of limited choice. However, patients did not always feel they had the knowledge to make informed decisions. Information exchange was highly valued by patients when it occurred, and it increased their satisfaction with the process. Other factors mediating care included the use of the public versus private health system, the quality of information exchange (GP to specialist and GP to patient), continuity of care between GP and specialist, and the extent of information provision when patients moved between specialist and GP care.
Patients described poor GP continuity, ad hoc organisational systems and limited information exchange, at both interpersonal and inter-organisational levels, all leading to sub-optimal care. Implementation of a system of information feedback to GPs and engagement with them might improve information exchange for patients, enabling them to be more involved in improved referral outcomes.
Colorectal neoplasm; Referral and consultation; Patients; Qualitative research
The aims of this study were to explore the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a large sample of Australian chronically-ill patients (type 2 diabetes and/or hypertension/ischaemic heart disease), to investigate the impact of characteristics of patients and their general practitioners on their HRQoL and to examine clinically significant differences in HRQoL among males and females.
This was a cross-sectional study with 193 general practitioners and 2181 of their chronically-ill patients aged 18 years or more using the standard Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) version 2. SF-12 physical component score (PCS-12) and mental component score (MCS-12) were derived using the standard US algorithm. Multilevel regression analysis (patients at level 1 and general practitioners at level 2) was applied to relate PCS-12 and MCS-12 to patient and general practitioner (GP) characteristics.
Employment was likely to have a clinically significant larger positive effect on HRQoL of males (regression coefficient (B) (PCS-12) = 7.29, P < 0.001, effect size = 1.23 and B (MCS-12) = 3.40, P < 0.01, effect size = 0.55) than that of females (B(PCS-12) = 4.05, P < 0.001, effect size = 0.78 and B (MCS-12) = 1.16, P > 0.05, effect size = 0.16). There was a clinically significant difference in HRQoL among age groups. Younger men (< 39 years) were likely to have better physical health than older men (> 59 years, B = −5.82, P < 0.05, effect size = 0.66); older women tended to have better mental health (B = 5.62, P < 0.001, effect size = 0.77) than younger women. Chronically-ill women smokers reported clinically significant (B = −3.99, P < 0.001, effect size = 0.66) poorer mental health than women who were non-smokers. Female GPs were more likely to examine female patients than male patients (33% vs. 15%, P < 0.001) and female patients attending female GPs reported better physical health (B = 1.59, P < 0.05, effect size = 0.30).
Some of the associations between patient characteristics and SF-12 physical and/or mental component scores were different for men and women. This finding underlines the importance of considering these factors in the management of chronically-ill patients in general practice. The results suggest that chronically ill women attempting to quit smoking may need more psychological support. More quantitative studies are needed to determine the association between GP gender and patient gender in relation to HRQoL.
Quality of life; Patient and physician characteristics; SF-12 version 2; Physical component score; Mental component score; Multilevel regression analysis
Despite being at high risk, disadvantaged patients may be less likely to receive preventive care in general practice. This study aimed to explore self-reported preventive care received from general practitioners and the factors associated with this by healthy New South Wales (NSW) residents aged 45–74 years.
A self-completed questionnaire was sent to 100,000 NSW residents in the 45 and Up cohort study. There was a 60% response rate. After exclusions there were 39,964 participants aged 45–74 years who did not report cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Dichotomised outcome variables were participant report of having had a clinical assessment of their blood pressure (BP), blood cholesterol (BC) or blood glucose (BG), or received advice to eat less high fat food, eat more fruit and vegetables or be more physically active from their GP in the last 12 months. Independent variables included socio-demographic, lifestyle risk factors, health status, access to health care and confidence in self-management.
Most respondents reported having had their BP (90.6%), BC (73.9%) or BG (69.4%) assessed. Fewer reported being given health advice to (a)eat less high fat food (26.6%), (b) eat more fruit and vegetables (15.5%) or (c) do more physical activity (19.9%). The patterns of association were consistent with recognised need: participants who were older, less well educated or overweight were more likely to report clinical assessments; participants who were overseas born, of lower educational attainment, less confident in their own self-management, reported insufficient physical activity or were overweight were more likely to report receiving advice. However current smokers were less likely to report clinical assessments; and rural and older participants were less likely to receive diet or physical activity advice.
This study demonstrated a gap between reported clinical assessments and preventive advice. There was evidence for inverse care for rural participants and smokers, who despite being at higher risk of health problems, were less likely to report receiving preventive care. This suggests the need for greater effort to promote preventive care for these groups in Australian general practice.
Previous research suggests that lifestyle intervention for the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are effective, however little is known about factors affecting participation in such programs. This study aims to explore factors influencing levels of participation in a lifestyle modification program conducted as part of a cluster randomized controlled trial of CVD prevention in primary care.
This concurrent mixed methods study used data from the intervention arm of a cluster RCT which recruited 30 practices through two rural and three urban primary care organizations. Practices were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 16) and control (n = 14) groups. In each practice up to 160 eligible patients aged between 40 and 64 years old, were invited to participate. Intervention practice staff were trained in lifestyle assessment and counseling and referred high risk patients to a lifestyle modification program (LMP) consisting of two individual and six group sessions over a nine month period. Data included a patient survey, clinical audit, practice survey on capacity for preventive care, referral and attendance records at the LMP and qualitative interviews with Intervention Officers facilitating the LMP. Multi-level logistic regression modelling was used to examine independent predictors of attendance at the LMP, supplemented with qualitative data from interviews with Intervention Officers facilitating the program.
A total of 197 individuals were referred to the LMP (63% of those eligible). Over a third of patients (36.5%) referred to the LMP did not attend any sessions, with 59.4% attending at least half of the planned sessions. The only independent predictors of attendance at the program were employment status - not working (OR: 2.39 95% CI 1.15-4.94) and having high psychological distress (OR: 2.17 95% CI: 1.10-4.30). Qualitative data revealed that physical access to the program was a barrier, while GP/practice endorsement of the program and flexibility in program delivery facilitated attendance.
Barriers to attendance at a LMP for CVD prevention related mainly to external factors including work commitments and poor physical access to the programs rather than an individuals’ health risk profile or readiness to change. Improving physical access and offering flexibility in program delivery may enhance future attendance. Finally, associations between psychological distress and attendance rates warrant further investigation.
Preventive health care; Lifestyle modification; Attendance rates; Reach; Primary care; Family practice; Chronic disease prevention
Interest in how to implement evidence-based practices into routine health care has never been greater. Primary care faces challenges in managing the increasing burden of chronic disease in an ageing population. Reliable prescriptions for translating knowledge into practice, however, remain elusive, despite intense research and publication activity. This study seeks to explore this dilemma in general practice by challenging the current way of thinking about healthcare improvement and asking what can be learned by looking at change through a complexity lens.
This paper reports the local level of an embedded case study of organisational change for better chronic illness care over more than a decade. We used interviews, document review and direct observation to explore how improved chronic illness care developed in one practice. This formed a critical case to compare, using pattern matching logic, to the common prescription for local implementation of best evidence and a rival explanation drawn from complexity sciences interpreted through modern sociology and psychology.
The practice changed continuously over more than a decade to deliver better chronic illness care in line with research findings and policy initiatives – re-designing care processes, developing community linkages, supporting patient self-management, using guidelines and clinical information systems, and integrating nurses into the practice team. None of these improvements was designed and implemented according to an explicit plan in response to a documented gap in chronic disease care. The process that led to high quality chronic illness care exhibited clear complexity elements of co-evolution, non-linearity, self-organisation, emergence and edge of chaos dynamics in a network of agents and relationships where a stable yet evolving way of organizing emerged from local level communicative interaction, power relating and values based choices.
The current discourse of implementation science as planned system change did not match organisational reality in this critical case of improvement in general practice. Complexity concepts translated in human terms as complex responsive processes of relating fit the pattern of change more accurately. They do not provide just another fashionable blueprint for change but inform how researchers, policymakers and providers participate in improving healthcare.
General practice; Quality improvement; Complexity; Organisational change
The risk factors for chronic disease, smoking, poor nutrition, hazardous alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and weight (SNAPW) are common in primary health care (PHC) affording opportunity for preventive interventions. Community nurses are an important component of PHC in Australia. However there has been little research evaluating the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions in routine community nursing practice. This study aimed to address this gap in our knowledge.
The study was a quasi-experimental trial involving four generalist community nursing (CN) services in New South Wales, Australia. Two services were randomly allocated to an ‘early intervention’ and two to a ‘late intervention’ group. Nurses in the early intervention group received training and support in identifying risk factors and offering brief lifestyle intervention for clients. Those in the late intervention group provided usual care for the first 6 months and then received training. Clients aged 30–80 years who were referred to the services between September 2009 and September 2010 were recruited prior to being seen by the nurse and baseline self-reported data collected. Data on their SNAPW risk factors, readiness to change these behaviours and advice and referral received about their risk factors in the previous 3 months were collected at baseline, 3 and 6 months. Analysis compared changes using univariate and multilevel regression techniques.
804 participants were recruited from 2361 (34.1%) eligible clients. The proportion of clients who recalled receiving dietary or physical activity advice increased between baseline and 3 months in the early intervention group (from 12.9 to 23.3% and 12.3 to 19.1% respectively) as did the proportion who recalled being referred for dietary or physical activity interventions (from 9.5 to 15.6% and 5.8 to 21.0% respectively). There was no change in the late intervention group. There a shift towards greater readiness to change in those who were physically inactive in the early but not the comparison group. Clients in both groups reported being more physically active and eating more fruit and vegetables but there were no significant differences between groups at 6 months.
The study demonstrated that although the intervention was associated with increases in advice and referral for diet or physical activity and readiness for change in physical activity, this did not translate into significant changes in lifestyle behaviours or weight. This suggests a need to facilitate referral to more intensive long-term interventions for clients with risk factors identified by primary health care nurses.
Primary health care; Lifestyle behaviours; Smoking; Nutrition; Alcohol; Physical activity; Community nursing
This paper presents the evaluation of “Moving On”, a generic self-management program for people with a chronic illness developed by Arthritis NSW. The program aims to help participants identify their need for behaviour change and acquire the knowledge and skills to implement changes that promote their health and quality of life.
A prospective pragmatic randomised controlled trial involving two group programs in community settings: the intervention program (Moving On) and a control program (light physical activity). Participants were recruited by primary health care providers across the north-west region of metropolitan Sydney, Australia between June 2009 and October 2010. Patient outcomes were self-reported via pre- and post-program surveys completed at the time of enrolment and sixteen weeks after program commencement. Primary outcomes were change in self-efficacy (Self-efficacy for Managing Chronic Disease 6-Item Scale), self-management knowledge and behaviour and perceived health status (Self-Rated Health Scale and the Health Distress Scale).
A total of 388 patient referrals were received, of whom 250 (64.4%) enrolled in the study. Three patients withdrew prior to allocation. 25 block randomisations were performed by a statistician external to the research team: 123 patients were allocated to the intervention program and 124 were allocated to the control program.
97 (78.9%) of the intervention participants commenced their program. The overall attrition rate of 40.5% included withdrawals from the study and both programs. 24.4% of participants withdrew from the intervention program but not the study and 22.6% withdrew from the control program but not the study. A total of 62 patients completed the intervention program and follow-up evaluation survey and 77 patients completed the control program and follow-up evaluation survey.
At 16 weeks follow-up there was no significant difference between intervention and control groups in self-efficacy; however, there was an increase in self-efficacy from baseline to follow-up for the intervention participants (t=−1.948, p=0.028). There were no significant differences in self-rated health or health distress scores between groups at follow-up, with both groups reporting a significant decrease in health distress scores. There was no significant difference between or within groups in self-management knowledge and stage of change of behaviours at follow-up. Intervention group attenders had significantly higher physical activity (t=−4.053, p=0.000) and nutrition scores (t=2.315, p= 0.01) at follow-up; however, these did not remain significant after adjustment for covariates. At follow-up, significantly more participants in the control group (20.8%) indicated that they did not have a self-management plan compared to those in the intervention group (8.8%) (X2=4.671, p=0.031). There were no significant changes in other self-management knowledge areas and behaviours after adjusting for covariates at follow-up.
The study produced mixed findings. Differences between groups as allocated were diluted by the high proportion of patients not completing the program. Further monitoring and evaluation are needed of the impact and cost effectiveness of the program.
Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN12609000298213
Self-management; Primary health care; Self-efficacy; Chronic illness
Access is central to the performance of health care systems around the world. However, access to health care remains a complex notion as exemplified in the variety of interpretations of the concept across authors. The aim of this paper is to suggest a conceptualisation of access to health care describing broad dimensions and determinants that integrate demand and supply-side-factors and enabling the operationalisation of access to health care all along the process of obtaining care and benefiting from the services.
A synthesis of the published literature on the conceptualisation of access has been performed. The most cited frameworks served as a basis to develop a revised conceptual framework.
Here, we view access as the opportunity to identify healthcare needs, to seek healthcare services, to reach, to obtain or use health care services, and to actually have a need for services fulfilled. We conceptualise five dimensions of accessibility: 1) Approachability; 2) Acceptability; 3) Availability and accommodation; 4) Affordability; 5) Appropriateness. In this framework, five corresponding abilities of populations interact with the dimensions of accessibility to generate access. Five corollary dimensions of abilities include: 1) Ability to perceive; 2) Ability to seek; 3) Ability to reach; 4) Ability to pay; and 5) Ability to engage.
This paper explains the comprehensiveness and dynamic nature of this conceptualisation of access to care and identifies relevant determinants that can have an impact on access from a multilevel perspective where factors related to health systems, institutions, organisations and providers are considered with factors at the individual, household, community, and population levels.
Access to healthcare; Accessibility; Utilisation of health services; Availability
Lifestyle risk factors like smoking, nutrition, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity (SNAP) are the main behavioural risk factors for chronic disease. Primary health care is an appropriate setting to address these risk factors in individuals. Generalist community health nurses (GCHNs) are uniquely placed to provide lifestyle interventions as they see clients in their homes over a period of time. The aim of the paper is to examine the impact of a service-level intervention on the risk factor management practices of GCHNs.
The trial used a quasi-experimental design involving four generalist community nursing services in NSW, Australia. The services were randomly allocated to either an intervention group or control group. Nurses in the intervention group were provided with training and support in the provision of brief lifestyle assessments and interventions. The control group provided usual care. A sample of 129 GCHNs completed surveys at baseline, 6 and 12 months to examine changes in their practices and levels of confidence related to the management of SNAP risk factors. Six semi-structured interviews and four focus groups were conducted among the intervention group to explore the feasibility of incorporating the intervention into everyday practice.
Nurses in the intervention group became more confident in assessment and intervention over the three time points compared to their control group peers. Nurses in the intervention group reported assessing physical activity, weight and nutrition more frequently, as well as providing more brief interventions for physical activity, weight management and smoking cessation. There was little change in referral rates except for an improvement in weight management related referrals. Nurses’ perception of the importance of ‘client and system-related’ barriers to risk factor management diminished over time.
This study shows that the intervention was associated with positive changes in self-reported lifestyle risk factor management practices of GCHNs. Barriers to referral remained. The service model needs to be adapted to sustain these changes and enhance referral.
Primary health care; Community nursing; Lifestyle risk factor management; Barriers
There are significant gaps in the implementation and uptake of evidence-based guideline recommendations for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes in Australian general practice. This study protocol describes the methodology for a cluster randomised trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a model that aims to improve the implementation of these guidelines in Australian general practice developed by a collaboration between researchers, non-government organisations, and the profession.
We hypothesise that the intervention will alter the behaviour of clinicians and patients resulting in improvements of recording of lifestyle and physiological risk factors (by 20%) and increased adherence to guideline recommendations for: the management of CVD and diabetes risk factors (by 20%); and lifestyle and physiological risk factors of patients at risk (by 5%). Thirty-two general practices will be randomised in a 1:1 allocation to receive either the intervention or continue with usual care, after stratification by state. The intervention will be delivered through: small group education; audit of patient records to determine preventive care; and practice facilitation visits adapted to the needs of the practices. Outcome data will be extracted from electronic medical records and patient questionnaires, and qualitative evaluation from provider and patient interviews.
We plan to disseminate study findings widely and directly inform implementation strategies by governments, professional bodies, and non-government organisations including the partner organisations.
Primary care; Family medicine; Guidelines; Preventive care; Cardiovascular disease
Although primary health care (PHC) is a key component of all health care systems, services are not always readily available, accessible or affordable. This systematic review examines effective strategies to enhance access to best practice processes of PHC in three domains: chronic disease management, prevention and episodic care.
An extensive search of bibliographic data bases to identify peer and non-peer reviewed literature was undertaken. Identified papers were screened to identify and classify intervention studies that measured the impact of strategies (singly or in combination) on change in use or the reach of services in defined population groups (evaluated interventions).
The search identified 3,148 citations of which 121 were intervention studies and 75 were evaluated interventions. Evaluated interventions were found in all three domains: prevention (n = 45), episodic care (n = 19), and chronic disease management (n = 11). They were undertaken in a number of countries including Australia (n = 25), USA (n = 25), and UK (n = 15). Study quality was ranked as high (31% of studies), medium (61%) and low (8%). The 75 evaluated interventions tested a range of strategies either singly (n = 46 studies) or as a combination of two (n = 20) or more strategies (n = 9). Strategies targeted both health providers and patients and were categorised to five groups: practice re-organisation (n = 43 studies), patient support (n = 29), provision of new services (n = 19), workforce development (n = 11), and financial incentives (n = 9). Strategies varied by domain, reflecting the complexity of care needs and processes. Of the 75 evaluated interventions, 55 reported positive findings with interventions using a combination of strategies more likely to report positive results.
This review suggests that multiple, linked strategies targeting different levels of the health care system are most likely to improve access to best practice PHC. The proposed changes in the structure of PHC in Australia may provide opportunities to investigate the factors that influence access to best practice PHC and to develop and implement effective, evidence based strategies to address these.
Primary health care; Family practice; Health services needs and demand; Health services accessibility; Diabetes mellitus; Papanicolaou test; After-hours care; Appointments and schedules; Continuity of patient care; English language
Cardiovascular disease accounts for a large burden of disease, but is amenable to prevention through lifestyle modification. This paper examines patient and practice predictors of referral to a lifestyle modification program (LMP) offered as part of a cluster randomised controlled trial (RCT) of prevention of vascular disease in primary care.
Data from the intervention arm of a cluster RCT which recruited 36 practices through two rural and three urban primary care organisations were used. In each practice, 160 eligible high risk patients were invited to participate. Practices were randomly allocated to intervention or control groups. Intervention practice staff were trained in screening, motivational interviewing and counselling and encouraged to refer high risk patients to a LMP involving individual and group sessions. Data include patient surveys; clinical audit; practice survey on capacity for preventive care; referral records from the LMP. Predictors of referral were examined using multi-level logistic regression modelling after adjustment for confounding factors.
Of 301 eligible patients, 190 (63.1%) were referred to the LMP. Independent predictors of referral were baseline BMI ≥ 25 (OR 2.87 95%CI:1.10, 7.47), physical inactivity (OR 2.90 95%CI:1.36,6.14), contemplation/preparation/action stage of change for physical activity (OR 2.75 95%CI:1.07, 7.03), rural location (OR 12.50 95%CI:1.43, 109.7) and smaller practice size (1–3 GPs) (OR 16.05 95%CI:2.74, 94.24).
Providing a well-structured evidence-based lifestyle intervention, free of charge to patients, with coordination and support for referral processes resulted in over 60% of participating high risk patients being referred for disease prevention. Contrary to expectations, referrals were more frequent from rural and smaller practices suggesting that these practices may be more ready to engage with these programs.
Preventive health care; General practice; Health behaviour; Lifestyle modification; Referral
To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions used in primary care to improve health literacy for change in smoking, nutrition, alcohol, physical activity and weight (SNAPW).
A systematic review of intervention studies that included outcomes for health literacy and SNAPW behavioral risk behaviors implemented in primary care settings.
We searched the Cochrane Library, Johanna Briggs Institute, Medline, Embase, CINAHL, Psychinfo, Web of Science, Scopus, APAIS, Australasian Medical Index, Google Scholar, Community of Science and four targeted journals (Patient Education and Counseling, Health Education and Behaviour, American Journal of Preventive Medicine and Preventive Medicine).
Study inclusion criteria: Adults over 18 years; undertaken in a primary care setting within an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country; interventions with at least one measure of health literacy and promoting positive change in smoking, nutrition, alcohol, physical activity and/or weight; measure at least one outcome associated with health literacy and report a SNAPW outcome; and experimental and quasi-experimental studies, cohort, observational and controlled and non-controlled before and after studies.
Papers were assessed and screened by two researchers (JT, AW) and uncertain or excluded studies were reviewed by a third researcher (MH). Data were extracted from the included studies by two researchers (JT, AW). Effectiveness studies were quality assessed. A typology of interventions was thematically derived from the studies by grouping the SNAPW interventions into six broad categories: individual motivational interviewing and counseling; group education; multiple interventions (combination of interventions); written materials; telephone coaching or counseling; and computer or web based interventions. Interventions were classified by intensity of contact with the subjects (High ≥ 8 points of contact/hours; Moderate >3 and <8; Low ≤ 3 points of contact hours) and setting (primary health, community or other).
Studies were analyzed by intervention category and whether significant positive changes in SNAPW and health literacy outcomes were reported.
52 studies were included. Many different intervention types and settings were associated with change in health literacy (73% of all studies) and change in SNAPW (75% of studies). More low intensity interventions reported significant positive outcomes for SNAPW (43% of studies) compared with high intensity interventions (33% of studies). More interventions in primary health care than the community were effective in supporting smoking cessation whereas the reverse was true for diet and physical activity interventions.
Group and individual interventions of varying intensity in primary health care and community settings are useful in supporting sustained change in health literacy for change in behavioral risk factors. Certain aspects of risk behavior may be better handled in clinical settings while others more effectively in the community. Our findings have implications for the design of programs.
Health literacy; Behavioral risk factors
People with low health literacy may not have the capacity to self-manage their health and prevent the development of chronic disease through lifestyle risk factor modification. The aim of this narrative synthesis is to determine the effectiveness of primary healthcare providers in developing health literacy of patients to make SNAPW (smoking, nutrition, alcohol, physical activity and weight) lifestyle changes.
Studies were identified by searching Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Joanna Briggs Institute, Psychinfo, Web of Science, Scopus, APAIS, Australian Medical Index, Community of Science and Google Scholar from 1 January 1985 to 30 April 2009. Health literacy and related concepts are poorly indexed in the databases so a list of text words were developed and tested for use. Hand searches were also conducted of four key journals. Studies published in English and included males and females aged 18 years and over with at least one SNAPW risk factor for the development of a chronic disease. The interventions had to be implemented within primary health care, with an aim to influence the health literacy of patients to make SNAPW lifestyle changes. The studies had to report an outcome measure associated with health literacy (knowledge, skills, attitudes, self efficacy, stages of change, motivation and patient activation) and SNAPW risk factor.
The definition of health literacy in terms of functional, communicative and critical health literacy provided the guiding framework for the review.
52 papers were included that described interventions to address health literacy and lifestyle risk factor modification provided by different health professionals. Most of the studies (71%, 37/52) demonstrated an improvement in health literacy, in particular interventions of a moderate to high intensity.
Non medical health care providers were effective in improving health literacy. However this was confounded by intensity of intervention. Provider barriers impacted on their relationship with patients.
Capacity to provide interventions of sufficient intensity is an important condition for effective health literacy support for lifestyle change. This has implications for workforce development and the organisation of primary health care.
Health literacy; Lifestyle risk factor modification; Primary health care
This paper examines the opportunity and need for lifestyle interventions for patients attending generalist community nursing services in Australia. This will help determine the scope for risk factor management within community health care by generalist community nurses (GCNs).
This was a quasi-experimental study conducted in four generalist community nursing services in NSW, Australia. Prior to service contacts, clients were offered a computer-assisted telephone interview to collect baseline data on socio-demographics, health conditions, smoking status, physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, height and weight, fruit and vegetable intake and 'readiness-to-change' for lifestyle risk factors.
804 clients participated (a response rate of 34.1%). Participants had higher rates of obesity (40.5% vs 32.1%) and higher prevalence of multiple risk factors (40.4% vs 29.5%) than in the general population. Few with a SNAPW (Smoking-Nutrition-Alcohol-Physical-Activity-Weight) risk factor had received advice or referral in the previous 3 months. The proportion of clients identified as at risk and who were open to change (i.e. contemplative, in preparation or in action phase) were 65.0% for obese/overweight; 73.8% for smokers; 48.2% for individuals with high alcohol intake; 83.5% for the physically inactive and 59.0% for those with poor nutrition.
There was high prevalence of lifestyle risk factors. Although most were ready to change, few clients recalled having received any recent lifestyle advice. This suggests that there is considerable scope for intervention by GCNs. The results of this trial will shed light on how best to implement the lifestyle risk factor management in routine practice.
The Health Improvement and Prevention Study (HIPS) study aims to evaluate the capacity of general practice to identify patients at high risk for developing vascular disease and to reduce their risk of vascular disease and diabetes through behavioural interventions delivered in general practice and by the local primary care organization.
HIPS is a stratified randomized controlled trial involving 30 general practices in NSW, Australia. Practices are randomly allocated to an 'intervention' or 'control' group. General practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses (PNs) are offered training in lifestyle counselling and motivational interviewing as well as practice visits and patient educational resources. Patients enrolled in the trial present for a health check in which the GP and PN provide brief lifestyle counselling based on the 5As model (ask, assess, advise, assist, and arrange) and refer high risk patients to a diet education and physical activity program. The program consists of two individual visits with a dietician or exercise physiologist and four group sessions, after which patients are followed up by the GP or PN. In each practice 160 eligible patients aged between 40 and 64 years are invited to participate in the study, with the expectation that 40 will be eligible and willing to participate. Evaluation data collection consists of (1) a practice questionnaire, (2) GP and PN questionnaires to assess preventive care attitudes and practices, (3) patient questionnaire to assess self-reported lifestyle behaviours and readiness to change, (4) physical assessment including weight, height, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and blood pressure, (5) a fasting blood test for glucose and lipids, (6) a clinical record audit, and (7) qualitative data collection. All measures are collected at baseline and 12 months except the patient questionnaire which is also collected at 6 months. Study outcomes before and after the intervention is compared between intervention and control groups after adjusting for baseline differences and clustering at the level of the practice.
This study will provide evidence of the effectiveness of a primary care intervention to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in general practice patients. It will inform current policies and programs designed to prevent these conditions in Australian primary health care.
People use emergency department services for a wide variety of health complaints, many of which could be handled outside hospitals. Many frequent readmissions are due to problems with chronic disease and are preventable. We postulated that patient related factors such as the type of condition, demographic factors, access to alternative services outside hospitals and patient preference for hospital or non-hospital services would influence readmissions for chronic disease. This study aimed to explore the link between frequent readmissions in chronic disease and these patient related factors.
A retrospective analysis was performed on emergency department data collected from a regional hospital in NSW Australia in 2008. Frequently readmitted patients were defined as those with three or more admissions in a year. Clinical, service usage and demographic patient characteristics were examined for their influence on readmissions using multivariate analysis.
The emergency department received about 20,000 presentations a year involving some 16,000 patients. Most patients (80%) presented only once. In 2008 one hundred and forty four patients were readmitted three or more times in a year. About 20% of all presentations resulted in an admission. Frequently readmitted patients were more likely to be older, have an urgent Triage classification, present with an unplanned returned visit and have a diagnosis of neurosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dyspnoea or chronic heart failure. The chronic ambulatory care sensitive conditions were strongly associated with frequent readmissions. Frequent readmissions were unrelated to gender, time, day or season of presentation or country of birth.
Multivariate analysis of routinely collected hospital data identified that the factors associated with frequent readmission include the type of condition, urgency, unplanned return visit and age. Interventions to improve patient uptake of chronic disease management services and improving the availability of alternative non-hospital services should reduce the readmission rate in chronic disease patients.
This paper describes the development and implementation of an intervention to facilitate teamwork between general practice and outside allied and community health services and providers.
A review of organizational theory and a qualitative study of 9 practices was used to design an intervention which was applied in four Divisions of General Practice and 26 urban practices. Clinical record review and qualitative interviews with participants were used to determine the key lessons from its implementation.
Facilitating teamwork across organizational boundaries was very challenging. The quality of the relationship between professionals was of key importance. This was enabled by joint education and direct communication between providers. Practice nurses were key links between general practices and allied and community health services.
Current arrangements for Team Care planning provide increased opportunities for access to allied health. However the current paper based system is insufficient to build relationships or effectively share roles as part of a patient care team. Facilitation is feasible but constrained by barriers to communication and trust.
Lifestyle risk factors, in particular smoking, nutrition, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity (SNAP) are the main behavioural risk factors for chronic disease. Primary health care (PHC) has been shown to be an effective setting to address lifestyle risk factors at the individual level. However much of the focus of research to date has been in general practice. Relatively little attention has been paid to the role of nurses working in the PHC setting. Community health nurses are well placed to provide lifestyle intervention as they often see clients in their own homes over an extended period of time, providing the opportunity to offer intervention and enhance motivation through repeated contacts. The overall aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of a brief lifestyle intervention delivered by community nurses in routine practice on changes in clients' SNAP risk factors.
The trial uses a quasi-experimental design involving four generalist community nursing services in NSW Australia. Services have been randomly allocated to an 'early intervention' group or 'late intervention' (comparison) group. 'Early intervention' sites are provided with training and support for nurses in identifying and offering brief lifestyle intervention for clients during routine consultations. 'Late intervention site' provide usual care and will be offered the study intervention following the final data collection point. A total of 720 generalist community nursing clients will be recruited at the time of referral from participating sites. Data collection consists of 1) telephone surveys with clients at baseline, three months and six months to examine change in SNAP risk factors and readiness to change 2) nurse survey at baseline, six and 12 months to examine changes in nurse confidence, attitudes and practices in the assessment and management of SNAP risk factors 3) semi-structured interviews/focus with nurses, managers and clients in 'early intervention' sites to explore the feasibility, acceptability and sustainability of the intervention.
The study will provide evidence about the effectiveness and feasibility of brief lifestyle interventions delivered by generalist community nurses as part of routine practice. This will inform future community nursing practice and PHC policy.