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1.  PRImary care Streptococcal Management (PRISM) study: identifying clinical variables associated with Lancefield group A β-haemolytic streptococci and Lancefield non-Group A streptococcal throat infections from two cohorts of patients presenting with an acute sore throat 
BMJ Open  2013;3(10):e003943.
To assess the association between features of acute sore throat and the growth of streptococci from culturing a throat swab.
Diagnostic cohort.
UK general practices.
Patients aged 5 or over presenting with an acute sore throat. Patients were recruited for a second cohort (cohort 2, n=517) consecutively after the first (cohort 1, n=606) from similar practices.
Main outcome
Predictors of the presence of Lancefield A/C/G streptococci.
The clinical score developed from cohort 1 had poor discrimination in cohort 2 (bootstrapped estimate of area under the receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curve (0.65), due to the poor validity of the individual items in the second data set. Variables significant in multivariate analysis in both cohorts were rapid attendance (prior duration 3 days or less; multivariate adjusted OR 1.92 cohort, 1.67 cohort 2); fever in the last 24 h (1.69, 2.40); and doctor assessment of severity (severely inflamed pharynx/tonsils (2.28, 2.29)). The absence of coryza or cough and purulent tonsils were significant in univariate analysis in both cohorts and in multivariate analysis in one cohort. A five-item score based on Fever, Purulence, Attend rapidly (3 days or less), severely Inflamed tonsils and No cough or coryza (FeverPAIN) had moderate predictive value (bootstrapped area under the ROC curve 0.73 cohort 1, 0.71 cohort 2) and identified a substantial number of participants at low risk of streptococcal infection (38% in cohort 1, 36% in cohort 2 scored ≤1, associated with a streptococcal percentage of 13% and 18%, respectively). A Centor score of ≤1 identified 23% and 26% of participants with streptococcal percentages of 10% and 28%, respectively.
Items widely used to help identify streptococcal sore throat may not be the most consistent. A modified clinical scoring system (FeverPAIN) which requires further validation may be clinically helpful in identifying individuals who are unlikely to have major pathogenic streptococci.
PMCID: PMC3808825  PMID: 24163209
Primary Care
2.  Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain: economic evaluation 
Objective An economic evaluation of therapeutic massage, exercise, and lessons in the Alexander technique for treating persistent back pain.
Design Cost consequences study and cost effectiveness analysis at 12 month follow-up of a factorial randomised controlled trial.
Participants 579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain recruited from primary care.
Interventions Normal care (control), massage, and six or 24 lessons in the Alexander technique. Half of each group were randomised to a prescription for exercise from a doctor plus behavioural counselling from a nurse.
Main outcome measures Costs to the NHS and to participants. Comparison of costs with Roland-Morris disability score (number of activities impaired by pain), days in pain, and quality adjusted life years (QALYs). Comparison of NHS costs with QALY gain, using incremental cost effectiveness ratios and cost effectiveness acceptability curves.
Results Intervention costs ranged from £30 for exercise prescription to £596 for 24 lessons in Alexander technique plus exercise. Cost of health services ranged from £50 for 24 lessons in Alexander technique to £124 for exercise. Incremental cost effectiveness analysis of single therapies showed that exercise offered best value (£61 per point on disability score, £9 per additional pain-free day, £2847 per QALY gain). For two-stage therapy, six lessons in Alexander technique combined with exercise was the best value (additional £64 per point on disability score, £43 per additional pain-free day, £5332 per QALY gain).
Conclusions An exercise prescription and six lessons in Alexander technique alone were both more than 85% likely to be cost effective at values above £20 000 per QALY, but the Alexander technique performed better than exercise on the full range of outcomes. A combination of six lessons in Alexander technique lessons followed by exercise was the most effective and cost effective option.
PMCID: PMC3272680  PMID: 19074232
3.  Does perceived financial strain predict depression among young women? Longitudinal findings from the Southampton Women's Survey 
Background Social and financial environment has an influence on the incidence of depression. We studied perceived financial strain as a risk factor for development of depression among a large cohort of young women in Southampton, UK.
Methods We recruited a large number of young women in Southampton in the Southampton Women's Survey, a longitudinal study looking at factors influencing the health of women and their offspring. Women were asked to complete a baseline questionnaire, which included the GHQ-12 (an assessment of mental health), as well as questions on perceived financial strain and past history of depression. They were followed up two years later through their general practitioner (GP) records for evidence of incident mental illness.
Results A total of 7020 women completed the baseline questionnaire including the GHQ-12. Of these, 5237 (74.6%) had records available for follow-up. Among those developing depression, there was a higher proportion receiving benefits, and a higher level of perceived financial strain. There were also modest elevations in perceived stress, and poorer levels of educational attainment. Among women not depressed at baseline, and with no previous history of depression, those in receipt of state benefits at baseline had a significantly elevated risk of developing the disorder – hazard ratio 1.61 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13–2.3). The risk associated with perceived financial strain was 2.16 (95% CI 1.14–4.11), but this did not remain statistically significant after adjustment was made for receipt of benefits, educational qualification, and perceived stress.
Conclusion Financial hardship as evidenced by receipt of benefits is a strong independent predictor for the development of depression. Although perception of financial strain is also a predictor for incident depression, the risk associated with this subjective characteristic does not remain significantly elevated after adjustment. Future studies of the aetiology of depression should incorporate ascertainment of actual financial status.
PMCID: PMC2777551  PMID: 22477842
depression; finance; women
5.  Randomised controlled factorial trial of dietary advice for patients with a single high blood pressure reading in primary care 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7447):1054.
Objective To assess the effect of brief interventions during the “watchful waiting” period for hypertension.
Design Factorial trial.
Setting General practice.
Methods 296 patients with blood pressure > 160/90 mm Hg were randomised to eight groups defined by three factors: an information booklet; low sodium, high potassium salt; prompt sheets for high fruit, vegetable, fibre; and low fat.
Main outcome measures Blood pressure (primary outcome); secondary outcomes of diet, weight, and dietary biomarkers (urinary sodium:potassium (Na:K) ratio; carotenoid concentrations).
Results Blood pressure was not affected by the booklet (mean difference (diastolic blood pressure) at one month 0.2, 95% confidence interval 1.6 to 2.0), salt (0.13; 1.7 to 2.0), or prompts (0.52; 1.3 to 2.4). The salt decreased Na:K ratio (difference 0.32; 0.08 to 0.56, P = 0.01), and the prompts helped control weight (difference 0.39 (0.85 to 0.05) kg at one month, P = 0.085; 1.2 (0.1 to 2.25) kg at six months, P = 0.03). Among those with lower fruit and vegetable consumption (< 300 g per day), prompts increased fruit and vegetable consumption and also carotenoid concentrations (difference 143 (16 to 269) mmol/l, P < 0.03) but did not decrease blood pressure.
Conclusion During watchful waiting, over and above the effect of brief advice and monitoring, an information booklet, lifestyle prompts, and low sodium salt do not reduce blood pressure. Secondary analysis suggests that brief interventions—particularly lifestyle prompts—can make useful changes in diet and help control weight, which previous research indicates are likely to reduce the long term risk of stroke.
PMCID: PMC403849  PMID: 15082472
7.  Comparison of agreement between different measures of blood pressure in primary care and daytime ambulatory blood pressure 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7358):254.
To assess alternatives to measuring ambulatory pressure, which best predicts response to treatment and adverse outcome.
Three general practices in England.
Validation study.
Patients with newly diagnosed high or borderline high blood pressure; patients receiving treatment for hypertension but with poor control.
Main outcome measures
Overall agreement with ambulatory pressure; prediction of high ambulatory pressure (>135/85 mm Hg) and treatment thresholds.
Readings made by doctors were much higher than ambulatory systolic pressure (difference 18.9 mm Hg, 95% confidence interval 16.1 to 21.7), as were recent readings made in the clinic outside research settings (19.9 mm Hg,17.6 to 22.1). This applied equally to treated patients with poor control (doctor v ambulatory 21.4 mm Hg, 17.3 to 25.4). Doctors' and recent clinic readings ranked systolic pressure poorly compared with ambulatory pressure and other measurements (doctor r=0.46; clinic 0.47; repeated readings by nurse 0.60; repeated self measurement 0.73; home readings 0.75) and were not specific at predicting high blood pressure (doctor 26%; recent clinic 15%; nurse 72%; patient in surgery 81%; home 60%), with poor likelihood ratios for a positive test (doctor 1.2; clinic 1.1; nurse 2.1, patient in surgery 4.7; home 2.2). Nor were doctor or recent clinic measures specific in predicting treatment thresholds.
The “white coat” effect is important in diagnosing and assessing control of hypertension in primary care and is not a research artefact. If ambulatory or home measurements are not available, repeated measurements by the nurse or patient should result in considerably less unnecessary monitoring, initiation, or changing of treatment. It is time to stop using high blood pressure readings documented by general practitioners to make treatment decisions.
What is already known on this topicProspective studies indicate that ambulatory blood pressure is a much better predictor of adverse outcome and response to treatment than readings made by a doctorPreliminary evidence suggests that measurements by doctors are likely to be higher than those made by nurses, technicians, or patientsNo study has compared all the available measures in a typical primary care setting with ambulatory blood pressure in patients with newly diagnosed and established hypertensionWhat this study addsThe white coat effect associated with measurements by doctors is not an artefact of research studies; it applies equally in primary care and for both initial diagnosis and assessment of controlIf ambulatory measurement is not possible, repeated measurement by a nurse or by the patient will result in much less unnecessary treatment or change in treatment for high blood pressure
PMCID: PMC117640  PMID: 12153923
8.  Medical Applications of a Spatial Data Management System 
Spatial Data Management (SDMS) is a technique for organizing, viewing and manipulating information by representing it as pictograms and positioning these pictograms in a spatial framework. SDMS can provide uniform access to data from conventional databases, user-created graphical spaces and selected computer-based medical tools. This paper describes the design of the current SDMS and explores two applications in medical care to which SDMS is particularly well-suited — medical administration and management of medical information. When SDMS techniques are applied to resource scheduling, the resulting system assists medical administrators to anticipate and plan for patient flow, staffing levels, and resource utilization. When applied to the management of medical information, SDMS provides a unified interface to diverse patient care and medical history databases.
PMCID: PMC2581290
9.  Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (ATEAM) for chronic and recurrent back pain 
Objective To determine the effectiveness of lessons in the Alexander technique, massage therapy, and advice from a doctor to take exercise (exercise prescription) along with nurse delivered behavioural counselling for patients with chronic or recurrent back pain.
Design Factorial randomised trial.
Setting 64 general practices in England.
Participants 579 patients with chronic or recurrent low back pain; 144 were randomised to normal care, 147 to massage, 144 to six Alexander technique lessons, and 144 to 24 Alexander technique lessons; half of each of these groups were randomised to exercise prescription.
Interventions Normal care (control), six sessions of massage, six or 24 lessons on the Alexander technique, and prescription for exercise from a doctor with nurse delivered behavioural counselling.
Main outcome measures Roland Morris disability score (number of activities impaired by pain) and number of days in pain.
Results Exercise and lessons in the Alexander technique, but not massage, remained effective at one year (compared with control Roland disability score 8.1: massage -0.58, 95% confidence interval -1.94 to 0.77, six lessons -1.40, -2.77 to -0.03, 24 lessons -3.4, -4.76 to -2.03, and exercise -1.29, -2.25 to -0.34). Exercise after six lessons achieved 72% of the effect of 24 lessons alone (Roland disability score -2.98 and -4.14, respectively). Number of days with back pain in the past four weeks was lower after lessons (compared with control median 21 days: 24 lessons -18, six lessons -10, massage -7) and quality of life improved significantly. No significant harms were reported.
Conclusions One to one lessons in the Alexander technique from registered teachers have long term benefits for patients with chronic back pain. Six lessons followed by exercise prescription were nearly as effective as 24 lessons.
Trial registration National Research Register N0028108728.
PMCID: PMC3272681  PMID: 18713809
10.  Clinical score and rapid antigen detection test to guide antibiotic use for sore throats: randomised controlled trial of PRISM (primary care streptococcal management) 
Objective To determine the effect of clinical scores that predict streptococcal infection or rapid streptococcal antigen detection tests compared with delayed antibiotic prescribing.
Design Open adaptive pragmatic parallel group randomised controlled trial.
Setting Primary care in United Kingdom.
Patients Patients aged ≥3 with acute sore throat.
Intervention An internet programme randomised patients to targeted antibiotic use according to: delayed antibiotics (the comparator group for analyses), clinical score, or antigen test used according to clinical score. During the trial a preliminary streptococcal score (score 1, n=1129) was replaced by a more consistent score (score 2, n=631; features: fever during previous 24 hours; purulence; attends rapidly (within three days after onset of symptoms); inflamed tonsils; no cough/coryza (acronym FeverPAIN).
Outcomes Symptom severity reported by patients on a 7 point Likert scale (mean severity of sore throat/difficulty swallowing for days two to four after the consultation (primary outcome)), duration of symptoms, use of antibiotics.
Results For score 1 there were no significant differences between groups. For score 2, symptom severity was documented in 80% (168/207 (81%) in delayed antibiotics group; 168/211 (80%) in clinical score group; 166/213 (78%) in antigen test group). Reported severity of symptoms was lower in the clinical score group (−0.33, 95% confidence interval −0.64 to −0.02; P=0.04), equivalent to one in three rating sore throat a slight versus moderate problem, with a similar reduction for the antigen test group (−0.30, −0.61 to −0.00; P=0.05). Symptoms rated moderately bad or worse resolved significantly faster in the clinical score group (hazard ratio 1.30, 95% confidence interval 1.03 to 1.63) but not the antigen test group (1.11, 0.88 to 1.40). In the delayed antibiotics group, 75/164 (46%) used antibiotics. Use of antibiotics in the clinical score group (60/161) was 29% lower (adjusted risk ratio 0.71, 95% confidence interval 0.50 to 0.95; P=0.02) and in the antigen test group (58/164) was 27% lower (0.73, 0.52 to 0.98; P=0.03). There were no significant differences in complications or reconsultations.
Conclusion Targeted use of antibiotics for acute sore throat with a clinical score improves reported symptoms and reduces antibiotic use. Antigen tests used according to a clinical score provide similar benefits but with no clear advantages over a clinical score alone.
Trial registration ISRCTN32027234
PMCID: PMC3805475  PMID: 24114306

Results 1-10 (10)