Diagnosing serious infections in children is challenging, because of the low incidence of such infections and their non-specific presentation early in the course of illness. Prediction rules are promoted as a means to improve recognition of serious infections. A recent systematic review identified seven clinical prediction rules, of which only one had been prospectively validated, calling into question their appropriateness for clinical practice. We aimed to examine the diagnostic accuracy of these rules in multiple ambulatory care populations in Europe.
Four clinical prediction rules and two national guidelines, based on signs and symptoms, were validated retrospectively in seven individual patient datasets from primary care and emergency departments, comprising 11,023 children from the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium. The accuracy of each rule was tested, with pre-test and post-test probabilities displayed using dumbbell plots, with serious infection settings stratified as low prevalence (LP; <5%), intermediate prevalence (IP; 5 to 20%), and high prevalence (HP; >20%) . In LP and IP settings, sensitivity should be >90% for effective ruling out infection.
In LP settings, a five-stage decision tree and a pneumonia rule had sensitivities of >90% (at a negative likelihood ratio (NLR) of < 0.2) for ruling out serious infections, whereas the sensitivities of a meningitis rule and the Yale Observation Scale (YOS) varied widely, between 33 and 100%. In IP settings, the five-stage decision tree, the pneumonia rule, and YOS had sensitivities between 22 and 88%, with NLR ranging from 0.3 to 0.8. In an HP setting, the five-stage decision tree provided a sensitivity of 23%. In LP or IP settings, the sensitivities of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guideline for feverish illness and the Dutch College of General Practitioners alarm symptoms ranged from 81 to 100%.
None of the clinical prediction rules examined in this study provided perfect diagnostic accuracy. In LP or IP settings, prediction rules and evidence-based guidelines had high sensitivity, providing promising rule-out value for serious infections in these datasets, although all had a percentage of residual uncertainty. Additional clinical assessment or testing such as point-of-care laboratory tests may be needed to increase clinical certainty. None of the prediction rules identified seemed to be valuable for HP settings such as emergency departments.
clinical prediction rules; serious infection in children; external validation; NICE guidelines feverish illness; Yale Observation Scale; diagnostic accuracy
To study the prevalence and risk markers of diabetes mellitus and intermediate hyperglycaemia (IH) in Kisantu, a semirural town in Bas-Congo province, The Democratic Republic of Congo.
A cross-sectional population-based survey.
A modified WHO STEPwise strategy was used. Capillary glycaemia was measured for fasting plasma glucose and 2-h-postload glucose. Both WHO/IDF (International Diabetes Federation) 2006 and American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2003 diagnostic criteria for diabetes and IH were used.
1898 subjects aged ⩾ 20 years.
Response rate was 93.7%. Complete data were available for 1759 subjects (86.9%). Crude and standardised (for Doll and UN population) prevalence of diabetes were 4.8% and 4.0–4.2%. Crude IH prevalence was 5.8% (WHO/IDF) and 14.2% (ADA). Independent risk markers for diabetes (p<0.01) were male (OR 2.5), age 50–69 years (OR 2.6), family history (OR 3.5), waist (OR 4.1) and alcohol consumption (OR 0.36). In receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, prediction of diabetes was slightly better by waist than body mass index (BMI). IH defined according to WHO/IDF was associated with BMI (OR 2.6, p<0.001). IH defined according to ADA was associated (p<0.05) with waist (OR 1.4), education level (OR 1.6), BMI (OR 2.4) and physical activity (OR 0.7).
Current prevalence of diabetes in DR Congo exceeds IDF projections for 2030. The lower glucose threshold used by ADA almost triples impaired fasting glucose prevalence compared to WHO/IDF criteria. The high proportion of disorders of glycaemia made up by IH suggests the early stages of a diabetes epidemic.
Intermediate Hyperglycaemia; Prevalence; Population Based Survey; Sub-Saharan Africa, Dr Congo
This study assesses and compares prevalence of psychological and behavioral symptoms in a Belgian sample of people with and without dementia.
A total of 228 persons older than 65 years with dementia and a group of 64 non-demented persons were assessed using the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) in 2004.
Within the group without dementia, the most frequent symptoms were depression, agitation, and irritability. Within the group with dementia, the most common symptoms were depression, irritability, apathy, and agitation. Prevalence of delusions (P < 0.05), hallucinations (P < 0.05), anxiety (P < 0.05), agitation (P < 0.05), apathy (P < 0.01), aberrant motor behavior (P < 0.01), and eating disorders (P < 0.05) were significantly higher in the group with dementia.
Depression, elation, irritability, disinhibition, and sleeping disorders are not specific to dementia. Agitation, apathy, anxiety, and delusions are more frequent in dementia but were not specific to the dementia group because their prevalence rates were close to 10% in the group without dementia. Hallucinations, aberrant motor behavior, and eating disorders are specific to dementia. The distinction between specific and nonspecific symptoms may be useful for etiological research on biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
behavior; behavior disorders; epidemiology; dementia; psychiatric symptoms; neuropsychiatry
Objective. To compare the occurrence of pre-existing and subsequent comorbidity among older cancer patients (≥60 years) with older non-cancer patients. Material and Methods. Each cancer patient (n = 3835, mean age 72) was matched with four non-cancer patients in terms of age, sex, and practice. The occurrence of chronic diseases was assessed cross-sectionally (lifetime prevalence at time of diagnosis) and longitudinally (incidence after diagnosis) for all cancer patients and for breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer patients separately. Cancer and non-cancer patients were compared using logistic and Cox regression analysis. Results. The occurrence of the most common pre-existing and incident chronic diseases was largely similar in cancer and non-cancer patients, except for pre-existing COPD (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.06–1.37) and subsequent venous thrombosis in the first two years after cancer diagnosis (HR 4.20, 95% CI 2.74–6.44), which were significantly more frequent (P < 0.01) among older cancer compared to non-cancer patients. Conclusion. The frequency of multimorbidity in older cancer patients is high. However, apart from COPD and venous thrombosis, the incidence of chronic diseases in older cancer patients is similar compared to non-cancer patients of the same age, sex, and practice.
Chest pain is a common complaint in primary care, with coronary heart disease (CHD) being the most concerning of many potential causes. Systematic reviews on the sensitivity and specificity of symptoms and signs summarize the evidence about which of them are most useful in making a diagnosis. Previous meta-analyses are dominated by studies of patients referred to specialists. Moreover, as the analysis is typically based on study-level data, the statistical analyses in these reviews are limited while meta-analyses based on individual patient data can provide additional information. Our patient-level meta-analysis has three unique aims. First, we strive to determine the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for myocardial ischemia in primary care. Second, we investigate associations between study- or patient-level characteristics and measures of diagnostic accuracy. Third, we aim to validate existing clinical prediction rules for diagnosing myocardial ischemia in primary care. This article describes the methods of our study and six prospective studies of primary care patients with chest pain. Later articles will describe the main results.
We will conduct a systematic review and IPD meta-analysis of studies evaluating the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for diagnosing coronary heart disease in primary care. We will perform bivariate analyses to determine the sensitivity, specificity and likelihood ratios of individual symptoms and signs and multivariate analyses to explore the diagnostic value of an optimal combination of all symptoms and signs based on all data of all studies. We will validate existing clinical prediction rules from each of the included studies by calculating measures of diagnostic accuracy separately by study.
Our study will face several methodological challenges. First, the number of studies will be limited. Second, the investigators of original studies defined some outcomes and predictors differently. Third, the studies did not collect the same standard clinical data set. Fourth, missing data, varying from partly missing to fully missing, will have to be dealt with.
Despite these limitations, we aim to summarize the available evidence regarding the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for diagnosing CHD in patients presenting with chest pain in primary care.
Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (University of York): CRD42011001170
MeSH; Chest pain; Myocardial ischemia; Medical history taking; Sensitivity and specificity; Primary health care
We conducted a genome-wide association study on 969 bladder cancer cases and 957 controls from Texas. For fast-track validation, we evaluated 60 SNPs in three additional US populations and validated the top SNP in nine European populations. A missense variant (rs2294008) in the PSCA gene showed consistent association with bladder cancer in US and European populations. Combining all subjects (6,667 cases, 39,590 controls), the overall P-value was 2.14 × 10−10 and the allelic odds ratio was 1.15 (95% confidence interval 1.10–1.20). rs2294008 alters the start codon and is predicted to cause truncation of nine amino acids from the N-terminal signal sequence of the primary PSCA translation product. In vitro reporter gene assay showed that the variant allele significantly reduced promoter activity. Resequencing of the PSCA genomic region showed that rs2294008 is the only common missense SNP in PSCA. Our data identify rs2294008 as a new bladder cancer susceptibility locus.
In Belgium, bladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer in males (5.2%) and the sixth most frequent cause of death from cancer in males (3.8%). Previous epidemiological studies have consistently reported that selenium concentrations were inversely associated with the risk of bladder cancer. This suggests that selenium may also be suitable for chemoprevention of recurrence.
The SELEBLAT study opened in September 2009 and is still recruiting all patients with non-invasive transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder on TURB operation in 15 Belgian hospitals. Recruitment progress can be monitored live at http://www.seleblat.org. Patients are randomly assigned to selenium yeast (200 μg/day) supplementation for 3 years or matching placebo, in addition to standard care. The objective is to determine the effect of selenium on the recurrence of bladder cancer. Randomization is stratified by treatment centre. A computerized algorithm randomly assigns the patients to a treatment arm. All study personnel and participants are blinded to treatment assignment for the duration of the study.
The SELEnium and BLAdder cancer Trial (SELEBLAT) is a phase III randomized, placebo-controlled, academic, double-blind superior trial.
This is the first report on a selenium randomized trial in bladder cancer patients.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00729287
Selenium; Bladder cancer; Transitional Cell Carcinoma; Chemoprevention; Randomized clinical trial; Urology
Cost-effective health care depends on high-quality triage. The most challenging aspect of triage, which GPs confront on a regular basis, is diagnosing rare but serious disease. Failure to shoulder any risk in this situation overloads the health system and subjects patients to unnecessary investigation. Adopting too high a risk threshold leads to missed cases, late diagnosis, and sometimes avoidable death. It also undermines the credibility of primary care practitioners. Quantification of diagnostic risk suggests there is a potential risk gap between the maximum certainty with which GPs can assess the risk of serious disease at presentation and the minimum certainty required by many health systems for further investigation or hospital referral. Physician gut-feeling and diagnostic safety netting are often employed to fill the gap. Neither strategy is well defined or well supported by evidence. It should be possible to reduce the diagnostic risk gap cost-effectively by adopting more explicit diagnostic algorithms and providing better GP access to new diagnostic technologies. It is also essential, given the decreasing experience of triage clinicians employed in a number of countries, that a teachable evidence base is constructed for gut feeling and diagnostic safety netting. However, this construction of an evidence base requires very large-scale studies, and the global primary care research community remains small. The challenge therefore needs to be met by urgent and effective international collaboration.
diagnoses and examinations; diagnostic techniques and procedures; gut feeling; low-incidence diseases; safety netting
Psychotic conditions and especially schizophrenia, have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Many studies are performed in specialized settings with a strong focus on schizophrenia. Somatic comorbidity after psychosis is studied, using a general practice comorbidity registration network.
Hazard ratios are presented resulting from frailty models to assess the risk of subsequent somatic disease after a diagnosis of psychosis compared to people without psychosis matched on practice, age and gender. Diseases studied are cancer, physical trauma, diabetes mellitus, gastrointestinal disorders, joint disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, general infections, metabolic disorders other than diabetes, hearing and vision problems, anemia, cardiovascular disease, alcohol abuse, lung disorders, mouth and teeth problems, sexually transmitted diseases.
Significant higher risks after a diagnosis of psychosis were found for the emergence of diabetes, physical trauma, gastrointestinal disorders, alcohol abuse, chronic lung disease and teeth and mouth problems. With regard to diabetes, by including the type of antipsychotic medication it is clear that the significant overall effect was largely due to the use of atypical antipsychotic medication. No significant higher risk was seen for cancer, joint conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, general infections, other metabolic conditions, hearing/vision problems, anaemia, cardiovascular disease or diabetes, in case no atypical antipsychotic medication was used.
Significantly higher morbidity rates for some somatic conditions in patients with psychosis are apparent. People with a diagnosis of psychosis benefit from regular assessments for the emergence of somatic disorders and risk factors, including diabetes in case of atypical antipsychotic medication.
Cancer is mainly a disease of older patients. In older cancer patients, additional endpoints such as quality of survival and daily functioning might be considered equally relevant as overall or disease free survival. However, these factors have been understudied using prospective designs focussing on older cancer patients. Therefore, this study will focus on the impact of cancer, ageing, and their interaction on the long-term wellbeing of older cancer patients.
This study is an observational cohort study. We aim to recruit 720 cancer patients above 70 years with a new diagnosis of breast, prostate, lung or gastrointestinal cancer and two control groups: one control group of 720 patients above 70 years without a previous diagnosis of cancer and one control group of 720 cancer patients between 50 - 69 years newly diagnosed with breast, prostate, lung or gastrointestinal cancer. Data collection will take place at inclusion, after six months, after one year and every subsequent year until death or end of the study. Data will be collected through personal interviews (consisting of socio-demographic information, general health information, a comprehensive geriatric assessment, quality of life, health locus of control and a loneliness scale), a handgrip test, assessment of medical records, two buccal swabs and a blood sample from cancer patients (at baseline). As an annex study, caregivers of the participants will be recruited as well. Data collection for caregivers will consist of a self-administered questionnaire examining depression, coping, and burden.
This extensive data collection will increase insight on how wellbeing of older cancer patients is affected by cancer (diagnosis and treatment), ageing, and their interaction. Results may provide new insights, which might contribute to the improvement of care for older cancer patients.
Assessment of risk for serious cardiovascular outcome after syncope is difficult.
To determine the incidence of first syncope in primary care. To investigate the relation between syncope and serious cardiovascular (CV) outcome and serious injury.
Retrospective cohort study using data from the Intego general practice-based registration network, collecting data from 55 general practices (90 GP's). All patients with a first syncope from 1994 to 2008 were included; five participants without syncope were matched for age and gender for every patient with syncope. The main outcome measures were incidence of first syncope by age and gender and one year risk of serious CV outcome or injury after syncope.
2785 patients with syncope and 13909 matched patients without syncope were included. The overall incidence of a first syncope was 1.91 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 1.83-1.98). The incidence was higher in females (2.42 (95% CI 2.32-2.55) per 1000 person-years) compared to males (1.4 (95% CI 1.32-1.49) per 1000 person-years) and follows a biphasic pattern according to age: a first peak at the age of 15-24 years is followed by a sharp rise above the age of 45. One year serious outcome after syncope was recorded in 12.3% of patients. Increasing age (HR 1.04 (1.03-1.04)), CV comorbidity (HR 3.48 (95% CI 2.48-4.90) and CV risk factors (HR 1.65 (95% CI 1.24-2.18) are associated with serious outcome. Cox regression, adjusting for age, gender, CV comorbidity and risk factors, showed that syncope was an independent risk factor for serious CV outcome or injury (HR 3.99 (95% CI 3.44-4.63)). The other independent risk factors were CV comorbidity (HR 1.81 (95% CI 1.51-2.17)) and age (HR 1.03 (95% CI 1.03-1.04)).
Incidence rate of first syncope in primary care was 1.91 per 1000 person-years. One year risk of serious outcome after syncope was 12.3%. Increasing age, CV comorbidity and risk factors are associated with serious outcome. Compared to a control group, syncope on itself is an independent risk factor for serious outcome (adjusted for age, gender, CV comorbidity and risk factors).
Syncope; risk assessment; primary health care
From both clinical experience and research we learned that in complex progressive disorders such as dementia, diagnosis includes multiple steps, each with their own clinical and research characteristics.
Diagnosing starts with a trigger phase in which the GP gradually realizes that dementia may be emerging. This is followed by a disease-oriented diagnosis and subsequently a care -oriented diagnosis. In parallel the GP should consider the consequences of this process for the caregiver and the interaction between both. As soon as a comprehensive diagnosis and care plan are available, monitoring follows.
We propose to split the diagnostic process into four diagnostic steps, followed by a monitoring phase. We recommend to include these steps when designing studies on screening, diagnosis and monitoring of patients with dementia and their families.
We aimed to investigate the effect of dietary intake of micronutrients that are metabolized and excreted via the urinary tract on bladder cancer risk.
A semi-quantitative 322 item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) was used to collect dietary data from 200 bladder cancer cases and 386 control subjects participating in the Belgian case–control study on bladder cancer risk. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using unconditional logistic regression adjusting for age, sex, smoking characteristics, occupational exposures, and energy intake.
We observed a positive association between calcium intake and bladder cancer (OR: 1.77; 95% CI: 1.00–3.15; p-trend = 0.049) and increased odds, although not statistically significant, for highest tertile of phosphorus intake (OR: 1.82; 95% CI: 0.95–3.49; p-trend = 0.06). We identified possible modification of the effects of both calcium and phosphorus by level of magnesium intake. Increased odds of bladder cancer were also observed for participants with highest intake of phosphorus and lowest intake of vitamin D (OR: 4.25; 95% CI: 1.44–12.55) and among older participants with the highest intakes of calcium (OR: 1.90; 95% CI: 1.08–3.36) and phosphorus (OR: 2.02; 95% CI: 1.05–3.92).
The positive associations we observed between bladder cancer and intake of calcium and phosphorus require confirmation by other studies. The balances between inter-related micronutrients also warrant further examination.
Bladder cancer; Micronutrients; Calcium; Vitamin D
Background. Patients presenting with chest pain have a 5% chance of experiencing a coronary event. These patients are at risk of mortality and should be recognized and referred to secondary care.
Aim. To determine the relationship between referral type and mortality in patients with chest pain.
Methods. The design of the study is an observational study. The setting of the study is a sentinel network of general practices in Belgium, covering 1.6% of the total population. The subjects are 1558 consecutive patients consulting with chest pain in 2003. Descriptive analyses report the standardized mortality ratios. We used the Belgian population of 1999 as the reference population and as the standard population.
Results. The standardized mortality ratios of 3 days were 151.0 [95% confidence interval (CI): 82.3–250.3] for the urgent referred group, 45.5 (95% CI: 12.4–116.0) for non-urgent and 13.6 (95% CI: 1.7–49.4) for the non-referred group. The standardized ratios of 1 month were, respectively, 27.6 (95% CI: 18.0–40.4), 6.7 (95% CI: 2.5–14.6) and 4.7 (95% CI: 1.9–9.7). The standardized ratios of 2–12 months were normal for the urgent referral group (1.3; 95% CI: 0.7–2.2) and for the non-urgent referral group (1.0; 95% CI: 0.5–1.9) and even less in the non-referred group (0.4; 95% CI: 0.2–0.9).
Conclusions. Mortality in the first 3 days and first month after consulting for chest pain is very high. There is a marked trend in mortality according to the referral type—urgently referred, non-urgently referred and not referred—suggesting risk stratification by the GP. After 1 month, mortality normalizes for all groups, suggesting that the surviving patients are well treated and the condition causing the chest pain no longer influences survival compared to the general population.
Chest pain; morality rate; primary health care; referral and consultation; standardized ratios
Objective. Caring for a patient with cognitive decline has an important impact on the general well-being of family caregivers. Although highly appreciated, interventions in dementia home care remain mainly ineffective in terms of well-being. Consequently, in spite of an extensive support system, abrupt ending of home care remains more rule than exception. Method. The hypothesis was that the intervention of a care counselor, coordinating care in quasi-unstructured way during one year, will alleviate caregivers' feelings of depression. The study population was composed of community-dwelling patients with cognitive decline. A care counselor was at the exclusive disposal of the intervention group. Primary outcome measure was caregiver depression. Results. Finally, depression was 6.25 times less frequent in the intervention group. The actual intervention appeared minimal with only ten applications for more support followed by only three interventions effectively carried out. Although caregivers felt burdened and depressed, formal support remained stable. On the other hand, the availability of the care counselor made caregivers feel less depressed with the same amount of support. Conclusion. Carers do not always need to be surrounded with more professionals, but they want to feel more supported. In terms of policy, this could have some important implications.
Computerized morbidity registration networks might serve as early warning systems in a time where natural epidemics such as the H1N1 flu can easily spread from one region to another.
In this contribution we examine whether general practice based broad-spectrum computerized morbidity registration networks have the potential to act as a valid surveillance instrument of frequently occurring diseases. We compare general practice based computerized data assessing the frequency of influenza-like illness (ILI) and acute respiratory infections (ARI) with data from a well established case-specific sentinel network, the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme (EISS). The overall frequency and trends of weekly ILI and ARI data are compared using both networks.
Detection of influenza-like illness and acute respiratory illness occurs equally fast in EISS and the computerized network. The overall frequency data for ARI are the same for both networks, the overall trends are similar, but the increases and decreases in frequency do not occur in exactly the same weeks. For ILI, the overall rate was slightly higher for the computerized network population, especially before the increase of ILI, the overall trend was almost identical and the increases and decreases occur in the same weeks for both networks.
Computerized morbidity registration networks are a valid tool for monitoring frequent occurring respiratory diseases and the detection of sudden outbreaks.
Prompt diagnosis of an acute coronary syndrome is very important and urgent referral to a hospital is imperative because fast treatment can be life-saving and increase the patient's life expectancy and quality of life. The aim of our study was to identify GPs' reasons for referring or not referring patients presenting with chest pain.
In a semi-structured interview, 21 GPs were asked to describe why they do or do not refer a patient presenting with chest pain. Interviews were taped, transcribed and qualitatively analysed.
Histories of 21 patients were studied. Six were not referred, seven were referred to a cardiologist and eight to the emergency department. GPs' reasons for referral were background knowledge about the patient, patient's age and cost-benefit estimation, the perception of a negative attitude from the medical rescue team, recent patient contact with a cardiologist without detection of a coronary disease and the actual presentation of signs and symptoms, gut feeling, clinical examination and ECG results.
This study suggests that GPs believe they do not exclusively use the 'classical' signs and symptoms in their decision-making process for patients presenting with chest pain. Background knowledge about the patient, GPs' personal ideas and gut feeling are also important.
A range of self-tests on body materials has become available to the general public, but the extent of their use has hardly been studied. This study examined how many people use diagnostic self-tests on body materials such as blood or urine, as well as the type of tests that are used, and factors associated with their use.
Cross-sectional survey. Participants were recruited from an existing Dutch Internet panel of 12,529 persons, and information was collected by means of a structured Internet-based questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to assess correlates of self-test use.
Response to the survey was 63%. Sixteen percent of the respondents said they had ever used at least one self-test, with a mean of 2.1 tests per self-tester. The most frequently reported self-tests were those for diabetes and cholesterol. Self-testers generally reported lower health status and had a higher BMI than non-testers. On the other hand, they were more likely to engage in health-related behaviour such as the use of dietary supplements and homeopathic medicine.
Self-testing proved to be relatively prevalent among Dutch Internet users. We therefore think that it is essential to develop appropriate information for consumers, health care providers and policymakers, about the pros and cons of self-testing and specific self-tests. More test-specific research is needed.
Prompt diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction or acute coronary syndrome is very important.
A systematic review was conducted to determine the accuracy of 10 important signs and symptoms in selected and non-selected patients.
Design of study
Using MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, tracing references, and by contacting experts, studies were sought out that described one of the 10 signs and symptoms on one or both conditions. Studies were excluded if they were not based on original data. Validity was assessed using QUADAS and all data were pooled using a random effects model.
Sixteen of the 28 included studies were about patients who were non-selected. In this group, absence of chest-wall tenderness on palpation had a pooled sensitivity of 92% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 86 to 96) for acute myocardial infarction and 94% (95% CI = 91 to 96) for acute coronary syndrome. Oppressive pain followed with a pooled sensitivity of 60% (95% CI = 55 to 66) for acute myocardial infarction. Sweating had the highest pooled positive likelihood ratio (LR+), namely 2.92 (95% CI = 1.97 to 4.23) for acute myocardial infarction. The other pooled LR+ fluctuated between 1.05 and 1.49. Negative LRs (LR−) varied between 0.98 and 0.23. Absence of chest-wall tenderness on palpation had a LR− of 0.23 (95% CI = 0.18 to 0.29).
Based on this meta-analysis it was not possible to define an important role for signs and symptoms in the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction or acute coronary syndrome. Only chest-wall tenderness on palpation largely ruled out acute myocardial infarction or acute coronary syndrome in low-prevalence settings.
diagnostic meta-analysis; myocardial ischemia; signs and symptoms
To identify the attitudes and perspectives of the family physician towards the caregivers of demented relatives and to describe the caregivers’ satisfaction.
The studied population consisted of dementia family and their general practitioners.
Main outcome measures
Outcome measures were the generic tasks and skills of the general practitioner to improve home care from the perspective of the family caregiver. Caregivers were assessed on satisfaction regarding the care provided by their general practitioner.
The general practitioner is aware of his/her skills and limits in all aspects of dementia care and his/her role towards the family caregiver. They also acknowledged the importance of an adequate diagnostic process, but they felt uncomfortable disclosing the diagnosis to both the patient and the caregiver. They reported having more confidence in treatment matters than in diagnostic stages. Caregivers’ reports on the attitude of their general practitioner in the diagnostic process were rated from helpful to poorly empathized. General practitioners found themselves to be highly involved in dementia home care, but caregivers rated their involvement to be insufficient. The lack of appropriate communication skills of general practitioners was also not appreciated by the caregivers. A lack of time and reward was considered by the general practitioner to be a major obstacle in dementia care.
The key role of general practitioners as care providers and care planners is consolidated by the family caregivers’ confidence in their skills. Clear guidelines from early diagnosis to adequate referrals should improve the ability of the general practitioner to support these time and energy-consuming home-care situations. Intervention studies addressing the gaps in the skills of the general practitioners in dementia home care management could be helpful in supporting the family caregiver.
Dementia; family physician; family practice; general practice; general practitioner
Serious infections in children (sepsis, meningitis, pneumonia, pyelonephritis, osteomyelitis, and cellulitis) are associated with considerable mortality and morbidity. In children with an acute illness, the primary care physician uses signs and symptoms to assess the probability of a serious infection and decide on further management.
To analyse the diagnostic accuracy of signs and symptoms, and to create a multivariable triage instrument.
Design of study
A prospective diagnostic accuracy study.
Primary care in Belgium.
Children aged 0–16 years with an acute illness for a maximum of 5 days were included consecutively. Signs and symptoms were recorded and compared to the final outcome of these children (a serious infection for which hospitalisation was necessary). Accuracy was analysed bivariably. Multivariable triage instruments were constructed using classification and regression tree (CART) analysis.
A total of 3981 children were included in the study, of which 31 were admitted to hospital with a serious infection (0.78%). Accuracy of signs and symptoms was fairly low. Classical textbook signs (meningeal irritation impaired peripheral circulation) had high specificity. The primary classification tree consisted of five knots and had sensitivity of 96.8% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 83.3 to 99.9), specificity 88.5% (95% CI = 87.5 to 89.5), positive predictive value 6.2% (95% CI = 4.2 to 8.7), and negative predictive value 100.0% (95% CI = 99.8 to 100.0), by which a serious infection can be excluded in children testing negative on the tree. The sign paramount in all trees was the physician's statement ‘something is wrong’.
Some individual signs have high specificity. A serious infection can be excluded based on a limited number of signs and symptoms.
child; sensitivity and specificity; serious infections; signs and symptoms; triage
General Practitioners (GPs) play a central role in controlling an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, i.e. cholesterol levels in serum. In the past few decades different studies have been published on the effect of treating hyperlipidemia with statins. Guidelines for treatment have been adopted. We investigated the consequences on the practice of GPs screening cholesterol levels and on the timing of starting statin prescription.
For this descriptive study, data from the Intego database were used, composed with data from the electronic medical records (EMR) of 47 general practices in Flanders. GPs had not received special instructions for testing specific patients. For each patient the mean cholesterol level per year was calculated. A patient belonged to the group with lipid-lowering drugs if there was at least one prescription of the drug in a year in his EMR. Mixed model linear regression models were used to quantify the effect of covariates on total cholesterol values.
In the period 1994–2003 total cholesterol was tested in 47,254 out of 139,148 different patients. Twelve percent of those tested took lipid-lowering medication. The proportion of patients with at least one cholesterol test a year, increased over a period of ten years in all age groups, but primarily for those over the age of 65.
The mean cholesterol level decreased in the treated as well as in the non-treated group. Of the patients with a cardiovascular antecedent who were on lipid-lowering drugs in 2003, 56% had a cholesterol level ≤ 199 mg/dl, 31% between 200–239 and 13% over 240 mg/dl.
The indications for testing and treating cholesterol levels broadened considerably in the period examined. In 2003 cholesterol was tested in many more patients and patients were already treated at lower cholesterol values than in previous years. Comparisons of cholesterol levels over different years should therefore be interpreted with caution as they are a reflection of changes in medical care, and not necessarily of efficacy of treatment.
This study examined time trends in the incidence of peptic ulcers and oesophagitis, and the prescription of acid-inhibiting drugs in the period 1994–2003. Data were retrieved from records in general practices in Flanders, Belgium. The incidence of duodenal ulcers decreased by two-thirds and the incidence of gastric ulcers halved, the incidence of oesophagitis initially increased and decreased slowly later on. In 10 years the proportion of patients taking proton-pump inhibitors rose sixfold while the proportion taking H2 antagonists remained stable.
anti-ulcer agents; epidemiology; family practice; oesophagitis; peptic ulcer
The authors tested the hypothesis that depression is a possible factor influencing the course of cancer by reviewing prospective epidemiological studies and calculating summary relative risks.
Studies were identified by computerized searches of Medline, Embase and PsycINFO. as well as manual searches of reference lists of selected publications. Inclusion criteria were cohort design, population-based sample, structured measurement of depression and outcome of cancer known for depressed and non-depressed subjects
Thirteen eligible studies were identified. Based on eight studies with complete crude data on overall cancer, our summary relative risk (95% confidence interval) was 1.19 (1.06–1.32). After adjustment for confounders we pooled a summary relative risk of 1.12 (0.99–1.26).
No significant association was found between depression and subsequent breast cancer risk, based on seven heterogeneous studies, with or without adjustment for possible confounders. Subgroup analysis of studies with a follow-up of ten years or more, however, resulted in a statistically significant summary relative risk of 2.50 (1.06–5.91).
No significant associations were found for lung, colon or prostate cancer.
This review suggests a tendency towards a small and marginally significant association between depression and subsequent overall cancer risk and towards a stronger increase of breast cancer risk emerging many years after a previous depression.
Do doctors really need to establish an etiological diagnosis each time a patient presents? Or might it often be more effective to treat simply on the basis of symptoms and signs alone, relying on research and on our experience of outcomes for patients who presented in similar ways in the past?
At a time of increase health care costs especially in pharmaceuticals and expensive diagnostic tests, this article uses examples from recent research to address this question. Our examples come from general practice, because that is where doctors frequently see patients presenting with a yet undifferentiated disease which is consequently difficult to diagnose. The examples include respiratory tract infections, low back pain and shoulder pain. Finally we discuss the 'something is wrong' feeling.
We conclude that, in addition to diagnostic research, a renewed focus on prognostic research is needed.