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1.  Patient Choice for Older People in English NHS Primary Care: Theory and Practice 
ISRN Family Medicine  2014;2014:742676.
In the English National Health Service (NHS), patients are now expected to choose the time and place of treatment and even choose the actual treatment. However, the theory on which patient choice is based and the implementation of patient choice are controversial. There is evidence to indicate that attitudes and abilities to make choices are relatively sophisticated and not as straightforward as policy developments suggest. In addition, and surprisingly, there is little research on whether making individual choices about care is regarded as a priority by the largest NHS patient group and the single largest group for most GPs—older people. This conceptual paper examines the theory of patient choice concerning accessing and engaging with healthcare provision and reviews existing evidence on older people and patient choice in primary care.
PMCID: PMC4041268  PMID: 24967329
2.  Reasons for non- use of condoms and self- efficacy among female sex workers: a qualitative study in Nepal 
BMC Women's Health  2011;11:42.
Heterosexual contact is the most common mode of transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in Nepal and it is largely linked to sex work. We assessed the non-use of condoms in sex work with intimate sex partners by female sex workers (FSWs) and the associated self-efficacy to inform the planning of STI/HIV prevention programmes in the general population.
This paper is based on a qualitative study of Female Sex Workers (FSWs) in Nepal. In-depth interviews and extended field observation were conducted with 15 FSWs in order to explore issues of safe sex and risk management in relation to their work place, health and individual behaviours.
The main risk factor identified for the non-use of condoms with intimate partners and regular clients was low self efficacy. Non-use of condoms with husband and boyfriends placed them at risk of STIs including HIV. In addition to intimidation and violence from the police, clients and intimate partners, clients' resistance and lack of negotiation capacity were identified as barriers in using condoms by the FSWs.
This study sheds light on the live and work of FSWs in Nepal. This information is relevant for both the Government of Nepal and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) to help improve the position of FSWs in the community, their general well-being and to reduce their risks at work.
PMCID: PMC3206429  PMID: 21943102
3.  Utilisation of sexual health services by female sex workers in Nepal 
The Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) in 2006 showed that more than half (56%) of the women with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, in Nepal sought sexual health services. There is no such data for female sex workers (FSWs) and the limited studies on this group suggest they do not even use routine health services. This study explores FSWs use of sexual health services and the factors associated with their use and non-use of services.
This study aimed to explore the factors associated with utilisation of sexual health services by FSWs in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, and it used a mixed-method approach consisting of an interviewer administered questionnaire-based survey and in-depth interviews.
The questionnaire survey, completed with 425 FSWs, showed that 90% FSWs self-reported sickness, and (30.8%) reported symptoms of STIs. A quarter (25%) of those reporting STIs had never visited any health facilities especially for sexual health services preferring to use non-governmental clinics (72%), private clinics (50%), hospital (27%) and health centres (13%). Multiple regression analysis showed that separated, married and street- based FSWs were more likely to seek health services from the clinics or hospitals. In- depth interviews with 15 FSWs revealed that FSWs perceived that personal, structural and socio-cultural barriers, such as inappropriate clinic opening hours, discrimination, the judgemental attitude of the service providers, lack of confidentiality, fear of public exposure, and higher fees for the services as barriers to their access and utilisation of sexual health services.
FSWs have limited access to information and to health services, and operate under personal, structural and socio-cultural constraints. The 'education' to change individual behaviour, health worker and community perceptions, as well as the training of the health workers, is necessary.
PMCID: PMC3107775  PMID: 21501473
4.  Understanding effects of armed conflict on health outcomes: the case of Nepal 
Conflict and Health  2010;4:20.
There is abundance of literature on adverse effects of conflict on the health of the population. In contrast to this, sporadic data in Nepal claim improvements in most of the health indicators during the decade-long armed conflict (1996-2006). However, systematic information to support or reject this claim is scant. This study reviews Nepal's key health indicators before and after the violent conflict and explores the possible factors facilitating the progress.
A secondary analysis has been conducted of two demographic health surveys-Nepal Family Health Survey (NFHS) 1996 and Nepal Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2006; the latter was supplemented by a study carried out by the Nepal Health Research Council in 2006.
The data show Nepal has made progress in 16 out of 19 health indicators which are part of the Millennium Development Goals whilst three indicators have remained static. Our analysis suggests a number of conflict and non-conflict factors which may have led to this success.
The lessons learnt from Nepal could be replicable elsewhere in conflict and post-conflict environments. A nationwide large-scale empirical study is needed to further assess the determinants of Nepal's success in the health sector at a time the country experienced a decade of armed conflict.
PMCID: PMC3003631  PMID: 21122098
5.  Women's autonomy in household decision-making: a demographic study in Nepal 
Reproductive Health  2010;7:15.
How socio-demographic factors influence women's autonomy in decision making on health care including purchasing goods and visiting family and relatives are very poorly studied in Nepal. This study aims to explore the links between women's household position and their autonomy in decision making.
We used Nepal Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2006, which provided data on ever married women aged 15-49 years (n = 8257). The data consists of women's four types of household decision making; own health care, making major household purchases, making purchase for daily household needs and visits to her family or relatives. A number of socio-demographic variables were used in multivariable logistic regression to examine the relationship of these variables to all four types of decision making.
Women's autonomy in decision making is positively associated with their age, employment and number of living children. Women from rural area and Terai region have less autonomy in decision making in all four types of outcome measure. There is a mixed variation in women's autonomy in the development region across all outcome measures. Western women are more likely to make decision in own health care (1.2-1.6), while they are less likely to purchase daily household needs (0.6-0.9). Women's increased education is positively associated with autonomy in own health care decision making (p < 0.01), however their more schooling (SLC and above) shows non-significance with other outcome measures. Interestingly, rich women are less likely to have autonomy to make decision in own healthcare.
Women from rural area and Terai region needs specific empowerment programme to enable them to be more autonomous in the household decision making. Women's autonomy by education, wealth quintile and development region needs a further social science investigation to observe the variations within each stratum. A more comprehensive strategy can enable women to access community resources, to challenge traditional norms and to access economic resources. This will lead the women to be more autonomous in decision making in the due course.
PMCID: PMC2914657  PMID: 20630107
6.  The role of mothers-in-law in antenatal care decision-making in Nepal: a qualitative study 
Antenatal care (ANC) has been recognised as a way to improve health outcomes for pregnant women and their babies. However, only 29% of pregnant women receive the recommended four antenatal visits in Nepal but reasons for such low utilisation are poorly understood. As in many countries of South Asia, mothers-in-law play a crucial role in the decisions around accessing health care facilities and providers. This paper aims to explore the mother-in-law's role in (a) her daughter-in-law's ANC uptake; and (b) the decision-making process about using ANC services in Nepal.
In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 purposively selected antenatal or postnatal mothers (half users, half non-users of ANC), 10 husbands and 10 mothers-in-law in two different (urban and rural) communities.
Our findings suggest that mothers-in-law sometime have a positive influence, for example when encouraging women to seek ANC, but more often it is negative. Like many rural women of their generation, all mothers-in-law in this study were illiterate and most had not used ANC themselves. The main factors leading mothers-in-law not to support/encourage ANC check ups were expectations regarding pregnant women fulfilling their household duties, perceptions that ANC was not beneficial based largely on their own past experiences, the scarcity of resources under their control and power relations between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. Individual knowledge and social class of the mothers-in-law of users and non-users differed significantly, which is likely to have had an effect on their perceptions of the benefits of ANC.
Mothers-in-law have a strong influence on the uptake of ANC in Nepal. Understanding their role is important if we are to design and target effective community-based health promotion interventions. Health promotion and educational interventions to improve the use of ANC should target women, husbands and family members, particularly mothers-in-law where they control access to family resources.
PMCID: PMC2910658  PMID: 20594340
7.  Using a realist approach to evaluate smoking cessation interventions targeting pregnant women and young people 
This paper describes a study protocol designed to evaluate a programme of smoking cessation interventions targeting pregnant women and young people living in urban and rural locations in Northeast Scotland. The study design was developed on so-called 'realist' evaluation principles, which are concerned with the implementation of interventions as well as their outcomes.
A two-phased study was designed based on the Theory of Change (TOC) using mixed methods to assess both process and outcome factors. The study was designed with input from the relevant stakeholders. The mixed-methods approach consists of semi-structured interviews with planners, service providers, service users and non-users. These qualitative interviews will be analysed using a thematic framework approach. The quantitative element of the study will include the analysis of routinely collected data and specific project monitoring data, such as data on service engagement, service use, quit rates and changes in smoking status.
The process of involving key stakeholders was conducted using logic modelling and TOC tools. Engaging stakeholders, including those responsible for funding, developing and delivering, and those intended to benefit from interventions aimed at them, in their evaluation design, are considered by many to increase the validity and rigour of the subsequent evidence generated. This study is intended to determine not only the components and processes, but also the possible effectiveness of this set of health interventions, and contribute to the evidence base about smoking cessation interventions aimed at priority groups in Scotland. It is also anticipated that this study will contribute to the ongoing debate about the role and challenges of 'realist' evaluation approaches in general, and the utility of logic modelling and TOC approaches in particular, for evaluation of complex health interventions.
PMCID: PMC2843700  PMID: 20178559
8.  Factors associated with self-reported first sexual intercourse in Scottish adolescents 
BMC Research Notes  2009;2:42.
There is continuing concern about high pregnancy rates and increasing numbers of sexually transmitted infections being detected in Scottish adolescents. Consistent evidence about factors associated with risky sexual behaviours, including early first sexual intercourse, may help to identify adolescents at risk and help improve interventions. This study aimed to provide detailed analysis of the evidence of the associations between individual factors and early sexual intercourse using cross-sectional questionnaire data from 4,379 Scottish adolescents who participated in a sexual health intervention evaluation.
Multivariate secondary analysis showed that aspects of family and school life such as decreasing parental monitoring (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.24–1.70) and decreasing enjoyment of school (OR 2.55, 95% CI 2.15–3.03) were associated with reporting previous sexual intercourse. Furthermore, females were more likely to report previous sexual intercourse than males (OR 1.48, 95% CI 1.14–1.91). Several factors commonly used to inform sexual health intervention design, such as socioeconomic status, self-esteem and religion, were not independently associated.
These results contribute to the evidence base for the association of several factors with early initiation of sexual activity. The findings suggest that interventions aiming to delay first intercourse may need to consider targeting aspects of individuals' connection to their school and family. Furthermore, the results do not support the need to consider socio-economic background, religion or self-esteem of the individuals in intervention design.
PMCID: PMC2666752  PMID: 19298653
9.  Clinical governance and research ethics as barriers to UK low-risk population-based health research? 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:396.
Since the Helsinki Declaration was introduced in 1964 as a code of practice for clinical research, it has generally been agreed that research governance is also needed in the field of public health and health promotion research. Recently, a range of factors led to the development of more stringent bureaucratic procedures, governing the conduct of low-risk population-based health research in the United Kingdom.
Our paper highlights a case study of the application process to medical research ethics committees in the United Kingdom for a study of the promotion of physical activity by health care providers. The case study presented here is an illustration of the challenges in conducting low-risk population-based health research.
Our mixed-methods approach involved a questionnaire survey of and semi-structured interviews with health professionals (who were all healthy volunteers). Since our study does not involve the participation of either patients or the general population, one would expect the application to the relevant research ethics committees to be a formality. This proved not to be the case!
Research ethics committees could be counter-productive, rather than protecting the vulnerable in the research process, they can stifle low-risk population-based health research. Research ethics in health services research is first and foremost the responsibility of the researcher(s), and we need to learn to trust health service researchers again. The burden of current research governance regulation to address the perceived ethical problems is neither appropriate nor adequate. Senior researchers/academics need to educate and train students and junior researchers in the area of research ethics, whilst at the same time reducing pressures on them that lead to unethical research, such as commercial funding, inappropriate government interference and the pressure to publish.
We propose that non-invasive low-risk population-based health studies such as face-to-face interviews with health and social care professionals or postal questionnaire studies with patients on non-sensitive topics are given a waiver or a light touch review. We suggest that this can be achieved through a two-staged ethics application process. The first stage starts with a one or two-page outline application which ethics committees can use as the basis to grant a waiver or request a full application.
PMCID: PMC2612000  PMID: 19040750
10.  The use of Traditional Medicine by Ghanaians in Canada 
Research into health and health-care seeking behaviour amongst immigrant populations suggests that culturally-based behaviours change over time towards those prevalent in the host culture. Such acculturation of immigrant groups occurs as part of the interaction of immigrants with mainstream culture. This study examined the acculturation of Ghanaian immigrants in Greater Toronto Area (Canada) focusing particularly on attitudes towards and usage of Ghanaian traditional medicine (TRM).
The study used both quantitative and qualitative methods. Structured questionnaire interviews were conducted with a sample of Ghanaians in active collaboration with the Ghanaian-Canadian Association in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). A total of 512 questionnaire interviews were conducted. In addition, three focus groups of nine participants each were conducted with a sub-sample of Ghanaians in Canada.
Both the questionnaire and the focus groups indicated that nearly 73% of the Ghanaian immigrants in Canada have a positive attitude toward Ghanaian TRM. This is in comparison with less than 30% who have changed their attitude for various reasons. Some of the attraction of TRM lies in its holistic origin. Ghanaians in the GTA have been pursuing 'integration' and 'assimilation' in their acculturation in Canada. Some have given up or modified some of their attitudes and opinions toward TRM to embrace the 'modern' or 'civilized' way of living.
There is the need for health care providers and other stakeholders to be aware of the influence of religion on African immigrants during their acculturation process. Although modernity is said to be founded on the 'ruthless undermining of tradition', there is no evidence to suggest that Ghanaian traditional religion has been undermined to such an extent that there is a major change in attitudes towards TRM.
PMCID: PMC2446384  PMID: 18558002
11.  Health and lifestyle of Nepalese migrants in the UK 
The health status and lifestyle of migrants is often poorer than that of the general population of their host countries. The Nepalese represent a relatively small, but growing, immigrant community in the UK, about whom very little is known in term of public health. Therefore, our study examined the health and lifestyle of Nepalese migrants in the UK.
A cross-sectional survey of Nepalese migrants in UK was conducted in early 2007 using a postal, self-administered questionnaire in England and Scotland (n = 312), and telephone interviews in Wales (n = 15). The total response rate was 68% (327 out of 480). Data were analyzed to establish whether there are associations between socio-economic and lifestyle factors. A multivariate binary logistic regression was applied to find out independent effect of personal factors on health status.
The majority of respondents was male (75%), aged between 30 and 45 (66%), married or had a civil partner (83%), had university education (47%) and an annual family income (69%) ranging from £5,035 to £33,300. More than one third (39%) of the respondents have lived in the UK for 1 to 5 years and approximately half (46%) were longer-term residents. Most (95%) were registered with a family doctor, but only 38% with a dentist. A low proportion (14%) of respondents smoked but more than half (61%) consumed alcohol. More than half (57%) did not do regular exercises and nearly one fourth (23%) of respondents rated their health as poor. Self reported 'good' health status of the respondents was independently associated with immigration status and doing regular exercise
The self reported health status and lifestyle, health seeking behaviour of Nepalese people who are residing in UK appears to be good. However, the overall regular exercise and dentist registration was rather poor. Health promotion, especially aimed at Nepalese migrants could help encourage them to exercise regularly and assist them to register with a dentist.
PMCID: PMC2432045  PMID: 18500980
12.  Key health promotion factors among male members of staff at a higher educational institution: A cross-sectional postal survey 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:58.
Men's lifestyles are generally less healthy than women's. This study identifies associations between health-related behaviour in different groups of men working in a Higher Education (HE) institution. In addition, men were asked whether they regarded their health-related behaviours as a concern. This article highlights smoking, consumption of alcohol and physical activity as most common men's health-related lifestyle behaviours.
A descriptive cross-sectional survey was conducted among all male staff employed by a Higher Education institute in Scotland using a postal self-completed questionnaire. A total of 1,335 questionnaires were distributed and 501 were returned completed (38% return rate). The data were analysed using SPSS 13.0 for Windows.
Less than 10% currently smoked and almost 44% of these smokers were light smokers. Marital status, job title, consumption of alcohol and physical activity level were the major factors associated with smoking behaviour. Men in manual jobs were far more likely to smoke. Nearly all (90%) consumed alcohol, and almost 37% had more than recommended eight units of alcohol per day at least once a week and 16% had more than 21 units weekly. Younger men reported higher amount of units of alcohol on their heaviest day and per week. Approximately 80% were physically active, but less than 40% met the current Government guidelines for moderate physical activity. Most men wanted to increase their activity level.
There are areas of health-related behaviour, which should be addressed in populations of this kind. Needs assessment could indicate which public health interventions would be most appropriately aimed at this target group. However, the low response rate calls for some caution in interpreting our findings.
PMCID: PMC2270269  PMID: 18269744
13.  A systematic review of school-based sexual health interventions to prevent STI/HIV in sub-Saharan Africa 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:4.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic remains of global significance and there is a need to target (a) the adolescent age-groups in which most new infections occur; and (b) sub-Saharan Africa where the greatest burden of the epidemic lies. A focused systematic review of school-based sexual health interventions in sub-Saharan Africa to prevent HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in this age group was therefore conducted.
Searches were conducted in Medline, Embase, Cinahl and PsychINFO according to agreed a priori criteria for studies published between 1986 and 2006. Further searches were conducted in UNAIDS and WHO (World Health Organization) websites, and 'Google'. Relevant journals were hand-searched and references cited in identified articles were followed up.
Data extraction and quality assessment was carried out on studies selected for full text appraisal, and results were analysed and presented in narrative format.
Some 1,020 possible titles and abstracts were found, 23 full text articles were critically appraised, and 12 articles (10 studies) reviewed, reflecting the paucity of published studies conducted relative to the magnitude of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Knowledge and attitude-related outcomes were the most associated with statistically significant change. Behavioural intentions were more difficult to change and actual behaviour change was least likely to occur. Behaviour change in favour of abstinence and condom use appeared to be greatly influenced by pre-intervention sexual history.
There is a great need in sub-Saharan Africa for well-evaluated and effective school-based sexual health interventions.
PMCID: PMC2248569  PMID: 18179703
14.  Utilisation of postnatal care among rural women in Nepal 
Postnatal care is uncommon in Nepal, and where it is available the quality is often poor. Adequate utilisation of postnatal care can help reduce mortality and morbidity among mothers and their babies. Therefore, our study assessed the utilisation of postnatal care at a rural community level.
A descriptive, cross-sectional study was carried out in two neighbouring villages in early 2006. A total of 150 women who had delivered in the previous 24 months were asked to participate in the study using a semi-structured questionnaire.
The proportion of women who had received postnatal care after delivery was low (34%). Less than one in five women (19%) received care within 48 hours of giving birth. Women in one village had less access to postnatal care than women in the neighbouring one. Lack of awareness was the main barrier to the utilisation of postnatal care.
The woman's own occupation and ethnicity, the number of pregnancies and children and the husband's socio-economic status, occupation and education were significantly associated with the utilisation of postnatal care.
Multivariate analysis showed that wealth as reflected in occupation and having attended antenatal are important factors associated with the uptake of postnatal care. In addition, women experiencing health problems appear strongly motivated to seek postnatal care.
The postnatal care has a low uptake and is often regarded as inadequate in Nepal. This is an important message to both service providers and health-policy makers. Therefore, there is an urgent need to assess the actual quality of postnatal care provided. Also there appears to be a need for awareness-raising programmes highlighting the availability of current postnatal care where this is of sufficient quality.
PMCID: PMC2075509  PMID: 17767710
15.  A qualitative study of an integrated maternity, drugs and social care service for drug-using women 
The care of drug-using pregnant women is a growing health and social care concern in many countries. A specialist clinic was established offering multidisciplinary care and advice to pregnant drug users in and around Aberdeen (UK) in 1997. The majority of women stabilise and reduce their drug use. By determining the needs and views of the women more appropriate services and prevention strategies may be developed. There has been little research conducted in this area and none in Scotland.
This is a qualitative study that aimed to gain an understanding of the experiences of women drug users, seeking and receiving prenatal care and drug services from a specialist clinic. Twelve women participated in semi-structured one-to-one interviews.
The women preferred the multidisciplinary clinic (one-stop shop) to traditional prenatal care centred within General Practice. The relationships of the clients to the range of Clinic professionals and in hospital were explored as well as attitudes to Clinic care. The study participants attributed success in reducing their drug use to the combination of different aspects of care of the multi-agency clinic, especially the high level prenatal support. It is this arrangement of all aspects of care together that seem to produce better outcomes for mother and child than single care elements delivered separately. Some women reported that their pregnancy encouraged them to rapidly detoxify due to the guilt experienced. The most important aspects of the Clinic care were found to be non-judgemental attitude of staff, consistent staff, high level of support, reliable information and multi-agency integrated care.
There is an impetus for women drug users to change lifestyle during pregnancy. The study highlighted a need for women to have access to reliable information on the effects of drugs on the baby.
Further research is required to determine whether positive outcomes related to clinic attendance in the prenatal period are sustained in the postnatal period. Early referral to a specialist clinic is of benefit to the women, as they reported to receive more appropriate care, especially in relation to their drug use. A greater awareness of needs of the pregnant drug user could help the design of more effective prevention strategies.
PMCID: PMC1501044  PMID: 16772022
16.  Avoidance as a strategy of (not) coping: qualitative interviews with carers of Huntington's Disease patients 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:38.
Since Huntington's Disease (HD) is a familial disease with an average onset in the mid-thirties, one might expect that spousal carers are concerned with providing care for off-spring who may turn out to be affected.
This study involved ten face-to-face interviews with carers of spouses affected by HD in Northeast Scotland. Carers were recruited through two channels: a genetic clinic and the Scottish Huntington's Association (SHA). Interviews were conducted in carers' own homes. A thematic analysis of the transcripts was conducted.
Although carers did worry about their children, they did not envisage being involved in their care. Many avoided talking about the disease, both within and outwith their family; this may have greatly reduced the level of support provided by family members. Conversely, avoidance was often accompanied by symptom-spotting. For example, several people had given up driving, before they were incapable of doing so. The explanation appears to be that they avoided getting into situations in which HD may express itself.
Support meetings seem to be valued amongst patients with other serious diseases and their carers, however, although all participants had had contact with the SHA, only one regularly attended meetings. It was felt that seeing others with HD provided a constant reminder of the possible effect of HD on the wider family, which seemed to outweigh the benefit of attending. Overall, the analysis highlighted 'avoidance' as a key theme.
Many denied symptoms of HD in their spouses, pre-diagnosis. All had pretended at some point that it was not happening, through ignoring early signs and 'obvious' symptoms. Some partners had refused to go to the doctor until it was no longer possible to deny symptoms. Formal health and social care seemed to play a very small role compared to informal care arrangements.
PMCID: PMC1236919  PMID: 16162290

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