Antibiotic use and concomitant resistance are increasing. Literature reviews do not unambiguously indicate which interventions are most effective in improving antibiotic prescribing practice.
To assess the effectiveness of physician-targeted interventions aiming to improve antibiotic prescribing for respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in primary care, and to identify intervention features mostly contributing to intervention success.
Design and setting
Analysis of a set of physician-targeted interventions in primary care.
A literature search (1990–2009) for studies describing the effectiveness of interventions aiming to optimise antibiotic prescription for RTIs by primary care physicians. Intervention features were extracted and effectiveness sizes were calculated. Association between intervention features and intervention success was analysed in multivariate regression analysis.
This study included 58 studies, describing 87 interventions of which 60% significantly improved antibiotic prescribing; interventions aiming to decrease overall antibiotic prescription were more frequently effective than interventions aiming to increase first choice prescription. On average, antibiotic prescription was reduced by 11.6%, and first choice prescription increased by 9.6%. Multiple interventions containing at least ‘educational material for the physician’ were most often effective. No significant added value was found for interventions containing patient-directed elements. Communication skills training and near-patient testing sorted the largest intervention effects.
This review emphasises the importance of physician education in optimising antibiotic use. Further research should focus on how to provide physicians with the relevant knowledge and tools, and when to supplement education with additional intervention elements. Feasibility should be included in this process.
antibiotics; primary health care; education; respiratory tract infection
To reduce the spread of antibiotic resistance, there is a pressing need for worldwide implementation of effective interventions to promote more prudent prescribing of antibiotics for acute LRTI. This study is a process analysis of the GRACE/INTRO trial of a multifactorial intervention that reduced antibiotic prescribing for acute LRTI in six European countries. The aim was to understand how the interventions were implemented and to examine effects of the interventions on general practitioners’ (GPs’) and patients’ attitudes.
GPs were cluster randomised to one of three intervention groups or a control group. The intervention groups received web-based training in either use of the C-reactive protein (CRP) test, communication skills and use of a patient booklet, or training in both. GP attitudes were measured before and after the intervention using constructs from the Theory of Planned Behaviour and a Website Satisfaction Questionnaire. Effects of the interventions on patients were assessed by a post-intervention questionnaire assessing patient enablement, satisfaction with the consultation, and beliefs about the risks and need for antibiotics.
GPs in all countries and intervention groups had very positive perceptions of the intervention and the web-based training, and felt that taking part had helped them to reduce prescribing. All GPs perceived reducing prescribing as more important and less risky following the intervention, and GPs in the communication groups reported increased confidence to reduce prescribing. Patients in the communication groups who received the booklet reported the highest levels of enablement and satisfaction and had greater awareness that antibiotics could be unnecessary and harmful.
Our findings suggest that the interventions should be broadly acceptable to both GPs and patients, as well as feasible to roll out more widely across Europe. There are also some indications that they could help to engender changes in GP and patient attitudes that will be helpful in the longer-term, such as increased awareness of the potential disadvantages of antibiotics and increased confidence to manage LRTI without them. Given the positive effects of the booklet on patient beliefs and attitudes, it seems logical to extend the use of the patient booklet to all patients.
Prescribing; Antibiotics; Resistance; Questionnaires
Management of pharyngitis is commonly based on features which are thought to be associated with Lancefield group A beta-haemolytic streptococci (GABHS) but it is debatable which features best predict GABHS. Non-group A strains share major virulence factors with group A, but it is unclear how commonly they present and whether their presentation differs.
To assess the incidence and clinical variables associated with streptococcal infections.
Design and setting
Prospective diagnostic cohort study in UK primary care.
The presence of pathogenic streptococci from throat swabs was assessed among patients aged ≥5 years presenting with acute sore throat.
Pathogenic streptococci were found in 204/597 patients (34%, 95% CI = 31 to 38%): 33% (68/204) were non-group A streptococci, mostly C (n = 29), G (n = 18) and B (n = 17); rarely D (n = 3) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (n = 1). Patients presented with similar features whether the streptococci were group A or non-group A. The features best predicting A, C or G beta-haemolytic streptococci were patient’s assessment of severity (odds ratio [OR] for a bad sore throat 3.31, 95% CI = 1.24 to 8.83); doctors’ assessment of severity (severely inflamed tonsils OR 2.28, 95% CI = 1.39 to 3.74); absence of a bad cough (OR 2.73, 95% CI = 1.56 to 4.76), absence of a coryza (OR 1.54, 95% CI = 0.99 to 2.41); and moderately bad or worse muscle aches (OR 2.20, 95% CI = 1.41 to 3.42).
Non-group A strains commonly cause streptococcal sore throats, and present with similar symptomatic clinical features to group A streptococci. The best features to predict streptococcal sore throat presenting in primary care deserve revisiting.
pharyngitis; primary care; tonsillitis; streptococcus
To assess the association between features of acute sore throat and the growth of streptococci from culturing a throat swab.
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.
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.
Outpatients with acute cough who expect, hope for or ask for antibiotics may be more unwell, benefit more from antibiotic treatment, and be more satisfied with care when they are prescribed antibiotics. Clinicians may not accurately identify those patients.
To explore whether patient views (expecting, hoping for or asking for antibiotics) are associated with illness presentation and resolution, whether patient views are accurately perceived by clinicians, and the association of all these factors with antibiotic prescribing and patient satisfaction with care.
Prospective observational study of 3402 adult patients with acute cough presenting in 14 primary care networks. Correlations and associations tested with multilevel logistic regression and McNemar ‘s tests, and Cohen’s Kappa, positive agreement (PA) and negative agreement (NA) calculated as appropriate.
1,213 (45.1%) patients expected, 1,093 (40.6%) hoped for, and 275 (10.2%) asked for antibiotics. Clinicians perceived 840 (31.3%) as wanting to be prescribed antibiotics (McNemar’s test, p<0.05). Their perception agreed modestly with the three patient views (Kappa’s = 0.29, 0.32 and 0.21, PA’s = 0.56, 0.56 and 0.33, NA’s = 0.72, 0.75 and 0.82, respectively). 1,464 (54.4%) patients were prescribed antibiotics. Illness presentation and resolution were similar for patients regardless their views. These associations were not modified by antibiotic treatment. Patient expectation and hope (OR:2.08, 95% CI:[1.48,2.93] and 2.48 [1.73,3.55], respectively), and clinician perception (12.18 [8.31,17.84]) were associated with antibiotic prescribing. 2,354 (92.6%) patients were satisfied. Only those hoping for antibiotics were less satisfied when antibiotics were not prescribed (0.39 [0.17,0.90]).
Patient views about antibiotic treatment were not useful for identifying those who will benefit from antibiotics. Clinician perceptions did not match with patient views, but particularly influenced antibiotic prescribing. Patients were generally satisfied with care, but those hoping for but not prescribed antibiotics were less satisfied. Clinicians need to more effectively elicit and address patient views about antibiotics.
High-volume prescribing of antibiotics in primary care is a major driver of antibiotic resistance. Education of physicians and patients can lower prescribing levels, but it frequently relies on highly trained staff. We assessed whether internet-based training methods could alter prescribing practices in multiple health-care systems.
After a baseline audit in October to December, 2010, primary-care practices in six European countries were cluster randomised to usual care, training in the use of a C-reactive protein (CRP) test at point of care, in enhanced communication skills, or in both CRP and enhanced communication. Patients were recruited from February to May, 2011. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN99871214.
The baseline audit, done in 259 practices, provided data for 6771 patients with lower-respiratory-tract infections (3742 [55·3%]) and upper-respiratory-tract infections (1416 [20·9%]), of whom 5355 (79·1%) were prescribed antibiotics. After randomisation, 246 practices were included and 4264 patients were recruited. The antibiotic prescribing rate was lower with CRP training than without (33% vs 48%, adjusted risk ratio 0·54, 95% CI 0·42–0·69) and with enhanced-communication training than without (36% vs 45%, 0·69, 0·54–0·87). The combined intervention was associated with the greatest reduction in prescribing rate (CRP risk ratio 0·53, 95% CI 0·36–0·74, p<0·0001; enhanced communication 0·68, 0·50–0·89, p=0·003; combined 0·38, 0·25–0·55, p<0·0001).
Internet training achieved important reductions in antibiotic prescribing for respiratory-tract infections across language and cultural boundaries.
European Commission Framework Programme 6, National Institute for Health Research, Research Foundation Flanders.
Delayed antibiotic prescribing is promoted as a strategy to reduce antibiotic consumption, but its use and its effect on antibiotic consumption in routine care is poorly described.
To quantify delayed antibiotic prescribing in adults presenting in primary care with acute cough/lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), duration of advised delay, consumption of delayed antibiotics, and factors associated with consumption.
Design and setting
Prospective observational cohort in general practices in 14 primary care networks in 13 European countries.
GPs recorded clinical features and antibiotic prescribing for adults presenting with an acute infective illness with cough as the dominant symptom. Patients recorded their consumption of antibiotics from any source during the 28-day follow up.
Two hundred and ten (6.3%) of 3368 patients with usable consultation data were prescribed delayed antibiotics. The median recommended delay period was 3 days. Seventy-five (44.4%) of the 169 with consumption data consumed the antibiotic course and a further 18 (10.7%) took another antibiotic during the study period. 50 (29.6%) started their delayed course on the day of prescription. Clinician diagnosis of upper respiratory tract/viral infection and clinician’s perception of patient’s wanting antibiotics were associated with less consumption of the delayed prescription. Patient’s wanting antibiotics was associated with greater consumption.
Delayed antibiotic prescribing was used infrequently for adults presenting in general practice with acute cough/LRTI. When used, the effect on antibiotic consumption was less than found in most trials. There are opportunities for standardising the intervention and promoting wider uptake.
anti-bacterial agents; cough; respiratory tract infections; medication adherence; primary health care
Children with respiratory tract infections are the single most frequent patient group to make use of primary care health care resources. The use of antibiotics remains highly prevalent in young children, but can lead to antimicrobial resistance as well as reinforcing the idea that parents should re-consult for similar symptoms. One of the main drivers of indiscriminate antimicrobial use is the lack of evidence for, and therefore uncertainty regarding, which children are at risk of poor outcome. This paper describes the protocol for the TARGET cohort study, which aims to derive and validate a clinical prediction rule to identify children presenting to primary care with respiratory tract infections who are at risk of hospitalisation.
The TARGET cohort study is a large, multicentre prospective observational study aiming to recruit 8,300 children aged ≥3 months and <16 years presenting to primary care with a cough and respiratory tract infection symptoms from 4 study centres (Bristol, London, Oxford and Southampton). Following informed consent, symptoms, signs and demographics will be measured. In around a quarter of children from the Bristol centre, a single sweep, dual bacterial-viral throat swab will be taken and parents asked to complete a symptom diary until the child is completely well or for 28 days, whichever is sooner. A review of medical notes including clinical history, re-consultation and hospitalisations will be undertaken. Multivariable logistic regression will be used to identify the independent clinical predictors of hospitalisation as well as the prognostic significance of upper respiratory tract microbes. The clinical prediction rule will be internally validated using various methods including bootstrapping.
The clinical prediction rule for hospitalisation has the potential to help identify a small group of children for hospitalisation and a much larger group where hospitalisation is very unlikely and antibiotic prescribing would be less warranted. This study will also be the largest natural history study to date of children presenting to primary care with acute cough and respiratory tract infections, and will provide important information on symptom duration, re-consultations and the microbiology of the upper respiratory tract.
Cohort study; Children; Respiratory tract infections (RTIs); Primary care; Protocol; Throat swab
Decisions regarding the hospitalisation of nursing home residents may present a difficult dilemma for GPs. There are pressures to admit very frail patients with exacerbations of illness even though such frailty may limit the possible health gains. As ‘gatekeepers’ to NHS, GPs are expected to make best use of resources and may be criticised for ‘inappropriate’ admissions. Little is understood about the influences on GPs as they make such decisions
To explore GPs views on factors influencing decisions on admitting frail nursing home residents to hospital.
Design and setting
A purposive sample of 21 GPs from two counties in the South of England.
Data from semi-structured, one-to-one interviews with GPs were analysed using thematic analysis following principles of the constant comparative method.
This study suggests that while clinical assessment, perceived benefits and risks of admission, and patients’ and relatives’ preferences are key factors in determining admissions, other important factors influencing decision making include medico-legal concerns, communications, capability of nursing homes and GP workload. These factors were also perceived by GPs as influencing the feasibility of keeping patients in the nursing home when this was clinically appropriate. Key areas suggested by GPs to improve practice were improving communication (particularly informational continuity), training and support for nursing staff, and peer support for GPs. Local initiatives to address these issues were very variable.
Developing a systematic palliative care approach to address poor documentation and communication, the capability of nursing homes, and medico-legal concerns has the potential to improve decision-making regarding hospital admissions.
decision making; general practice; geriatrics; nursing homes; palliative care
Most patients with depression are managed in general practice. In deprived areas, depression is more common and poorer outcomes have been reported.
To compare general practice consultations and early outcomes for patients with depression living in areas of high or low socioeconomic deprivation.
Design and setting
Secondary data analysis of a prospective observational study involving 25 GPs and 356 consultations in deprived areas, and 20 GPs and 303 consultations in more affluent areas, with follow-up at 1 month.
Validated measures were used to (a) objectively assess the patient centredness of consultations, and (b) record patient perceptions of GP empathy.
PHQ-9 scores >10 (suggestive of caseness for moderate to severe depression) were significantly more common in deprived than in affluent areas (30.1% versus 18.5%, P<0.001). Patients with depression in deprived areas had more multimorbidity (65.4% versus 48.2%, P<0.05). Perceived GP empathy and observer-rated patient-centred communication were significantly lower in consultations in deprived areas. Outcomes at 1 month were significantly worse (persistent caseness 71.4% deprived, 43.2% affluent, P = 0.01). After multilevel multiregression modelling, observer-rated patient centredness in the consultation was predictive of improvement in PHQ-9 score in both affluent and deprived areas.
In deprived areas, patients with depression are more common and early outcomes are poorer compared with affluent areas. Patient-centred consulting appears to improve early outcome but may be difficult to achieve in deprived areas because of the inverse care law and the burden of multimorbidity.
depression; multimorbidity; patient-centredness; primary care; socioeconomic status
Current evidence-based guidelines for low back pain (LBP) recommend multiple diverse approaches to treatment and suggest considering patient preferences when formulating a treatment plan.
To explore patient preferences and to identify patients’ beliefs about LBP treatments.
Design and setting
Qualitative study using focus groups in primary care in South-West England.
Thirteen focus groups were organised with a purposive sample of 75 adults with LBP. Group discussions of LBP treatments were facilitated, audiorecorded, and the verbatim transcripts thematically analysed.
Eight themes were identified, four related to treatment beliefs and four to seeking treatment. Treatment beliefs comprised participants’ expectations and appraisals of specific treatments, which were underpinned by four distinct dimensions: credibility, effectiveness, concerns and individual fit. Treatment beliefs were expressed in the broader context of treatment seeking: participants’ primary concern was to obtain a clear explanation of their LBP which went beyond a diagnostic label and provided an understanding of the cause(s) of their LBP. They described engaging in self-management activities and claimed they were willing to try anything if it might help them. Participants wanted an empathic and expert practitioner who could deliver a suitable treatment (or refer them on to someone else) and help them to negotiate the challenges of the healthcare system.
These findings highlight the importance of helping patients develop coherent illness representations about their LBP before trying to engage them in treatment-decisions, uptake, or adherence. Addressing patients’ illness and treatment perceptions in clinical practice could improve shared decision making and patient outcomes.
back pain; health knowledge, attitudes, practice; illness behaviour; patient preference; primary health care; qualitative research
Non-adherence to acute antibiotic prescriptions is poorly described and may impact on clinical outcomes, healthcare costs, and interpretation of research. It also results in leftover antibiotics that could be used inappropriately.
To describe adherence to antibiotics prescribed for adults presenting with acute cough in primary care, factors associated with non-adherence, and associated recovery.
Design and setting
Prospective observational cohort study in general practices in 14 European primary care networks.
GPs recorded patient characteristics and prescribing decisions for adults with acute cough or clinical presentation suggestive of lower respiratory tract infection. Patients recorded antibiotic consumption and daily symptoms over 28 days. Rates of adherence to prescribed antibiotics were assessed, and factors associated with non-adherence were identified using logistic regression. Recovery was compared using a Cox proportional hazards model.
Of 2520 patients prescribed immediate or no antibiotics at the index consultation, 282 (11.2%) took an antibiotic during the follow-up period that was not prescribed for them at the index consultation. Of these, 38.1% had no reconsultations during this period. Prior duration of symptoms, antibiotic treatment duration, antibiotic choice, and primary care network were all associated with adherence. There was no difference in time to recovery between those who were prescribed antibiotics at the index consultation and were fully adherent, partially adherent, and non-adherent.
Non-adherence to antibiotics for acute cough or lower respiratory tract infection is common. Duration of treatment, choice of antibiotic, and setting were associated with adherence but adherence to treatment was not associated with differences in recovery.
anti-bacterial agents; cough; general practice; medication adherence; respiratory tract infections.
Respiratory tract infections are an important burden in primary care and it’s known that they are usually self-limited and that antibiotics only alter its course slightly. This together with the alarming increase of bacterial resistance due to increased use of antimicrobials calls for a need to consider strategies to reduce their use. One of these strategies is the delayed prescription of antibiotics.
Multicentric, parallel, randomised controlled trial comparing four antibiotic prescribing strategies in acute non-complicated respiratory tract infections. We will include acute pharyngitis, rhinosinusitis, acute bronchitis and acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (mild to moderate). The therapeutic strategies compared are: immediate antibiotic treatment, no antibiotic treatment, and two delayed antibiotic prescribing (DAP) strategies with structured advice to use a course of antibiotics in case of worsening of symptoms or not improving (prescription given to patient or prescription left at the reception of the primary care centre 3 days after the first medical visit).
Delayed antibiotic prescription has been widely used in Anglo-Saxon countries, however, in Southern Europe there has been little research about this topic. The DAP trial wil evaluate two different delayed strategies in Spain for the main respiratory infections in primary care.
This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number http://NCT01363531.
Delayed antibiotic prescription; Respiratory infections; Family medicine; Pharyngitis; Acute tonsillitis; Rhinosinusitis; Acute bronchitis; Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Many patients with IBS suffer on-going symptoms. The evidence base is poor for IBS drugs but they are widely prescribed and advised in Guidelines. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be helpful, but availability is poor in the NHS. We developed a web-based CBT self-management programme (Regul8) in partnership with patients and trialled it and common IBS medications in an exploratory factorial RCT to test trial procedures and provide information for a larger trial.
Patients, 16 to 60 years, with IBS symptoms fulfilling Rome III criteria were recruited via GP practices and randomised to over-encapsulated mebeverine, methylcellulose or placebo for 6 weeks and to 1 of 3 website conditions: Regul8 with a nurse telephone session and email support, Regul8 with minimal email support, or no website.
135 patients recruited from 26 GP practices. Mean IBS SSS score 241.9 (sd 87.7), IBS-QOL 64 (sd 20) at baseline. 91% follow-up at 12 weeks. Mean IBS SSS decreased by 35 points from baseline to 12 weeks. There was no significant difference in IBS SSS or IBS-QOL score between medication or website groups at 12 weeks, or in medication groups at 6 weeks, or IBS-QOL in website groups at 6 weeks. However, IBS SSS at 6 weeks was lower in the No website group than the website groups (IBS SSS no website =162.8 (95% CI 137.4-188.3), website 197.0 (172.4 - 221.7), Website + telephone support 208.0 (183.1-233.0) p = 0.037).
Enablement and Subjects Global Assessment of relief (SGA) were significantly improved in the Regul8 groups compared to the non-website group at 12 weeks (Enablement = 0 in 56.8% of No website group, 18.4% website, 10.5% Website + support, p = 0.001) (SGA; 32.4% responders in No website group, 45.7% website group, 63.2% website + support group, p = 0.035).
This exploratory study demonstrates feasibility and high follow-up rates and provides information for a larger trial. Primary outcomes (IBS SS and IBS QOL) did not reach significance at 6 or 12 weeks, apart from IBS SSS being lower in the no-website group at 6 weeks - this disappeared by 12 weeks. Improved Enablement suggests patients with access to the Regul8 website felt better able to cope with their symptoms than the non-website group. Improved SGA score in the Regul8 groups may indicate some overall improvement not captured on other measures.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier (NCT number): NCT00934973.
Irritable bowel syndrome; Cognitive behavioural therapy; Web-based intervention; Self-management; Primary care
Childhood eczema causes significant impact on quality of life for some families, yet non-concordance with treatment is common.
To explore parents' and carers' views of childhood eczema and its treatment.
Design and setting
Qualitative interview study in primary care in the south of England.
Carers of children aged ≤5 years with a recorded diagnosis of eczema, who reported that eczema was still a problem, were invited to participate. Thirty-one parents were interviewed from 28 families.
Many parents expressed frustration with both medical care and prescribed treatments. They felt their child's suffering was not ‘taken seriously’, and experienced messages about a ‘trial and error’ prescribing approach and assurance that their child would ‘grow out of it’ as a further ‘fobbing off’, or dismissal. Many carers were ambivalent about eczema treatments, mainly topical corticosteroids but also emollients. Dietary exclusions as a potential cure were of interest to most families, although they perceived healthcare professionals as uninterested in this. Families varied in the extent to which they felt able to manage eczema and the length of time taken to gain control. In some instances, this was linked to not understanding advice or receiving conflicting advice from different healthcare providers.
Poor concordance with treatments seems unsurprising in the presence of such dissonance between carers' and healthcare providers' agendas. Acknowledging the impact of the condition, greater attention to how key messages are delivered and addressing carers' treatment beliefs are likely to improve engagement with effective self-care.
atopic dermatitis; child; eczema; medication adherence; primary health care; qualitative research
Self-monitoring of hypertension with self-titration of antihypertensives (self-management) results in lower systolic blood pressure for at least one year. However, few people in high risk groups have been evaluated to date and previous work suggests a smaller effect size in these groups. This trial therefore aims to assess the added value of self-management in high risk groups over and above usual care.
The targets and self-management for the control of blood pressure in stroke and at risk groups (TASMIN-SR) trial will be a pragmatic primary care based, unblinded, randomised controlled trial of self-management of blood pressure (BP) compared to usual care. Eligible patients will have a history of stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes or chronic kidney disease and will be recruited from primary care. Participants will be individually randomised to either usual care or self-management. The primary outcome of the trial will be difference in office SBP between intervention and control groups at 12 months adjusted for baseline SBP and covariates. 540 patients will be sufficient to detect a difference in SBP between self-management and usual care of 5 mmHg with 90% power. Secondary outcomes will include self-efficacy, lifestyle behaviours, health-related quality of life and adverse events. An economic analysis will consider both within trial costs and a model extrapolating the results thereafter. A qualitative analysis will gain insights into patients’ views, experiences and decision making processes.
The results of the trial will be directly applicable to primary care in the UK. If successful, self-management of blood pressure in people with stroke and other high risk conditions would be applicable to many hundreds of thousands of individuals in the UK and beyond.
Hypertension; Self-management; Stroke, Diabetes; Coronary heart disease; Chronic kidney disease; Primary care
GPs do not have the confidence to identify patients at increased genetic risk. A specialist primary care clinical genetics service could support GPs with referral and provide local clinics for their patients.
To test whether primary care genetic-led genetics education improves both non-cancer and cancer referral rates, and primary care-led genetics clinics improve the patient pathway.
Design and setting
Cluster-randomised factorial trial in 73 general practices in the south of England.
Practices randomised to receive case scenario based seminar (intervention) or not (control), and referred patients a primary (intervention) or secondary (control) care genetic counsellor (GC)-led appointment. Outcome measures: GP referral and clinic attendance rates (primary), appropriate cancer and case scenario referral rates, patient satisfaction, clinic costs, and case management (secondary).
Eighty-nine and 68 referrals made by 36 intervention and 37 control practices respectively. There was a trend towards an overall higher referral rate among educated GPs (referral rate ratio [RRR] 1.34, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.89 to 2.02; P = 0.161), and they made more appropriate cancer referrals (RRR 2.36, 95% CI = 1.07 to 5.24; P = 0.035). No indication of difference in clinic attendance rates (odds ratio 0.91, 95% CI = 0.43 to 1.95; P = 0.802) or patient satisfaction (P = 0.189). Patients spent 49% less travelling (£3.60 versus £6.62; P<0.001) and took 33% less time (39.7 versus 57.7 minutes; P<0.001) to attend a primary than secondary care appointment; 83% of GC-managed appointments met the 18-week referral to treatment, NHS target.
An integrated primary care genetics service both supports GPs in appropriate cancer referral and provides care in the right place by the right person.
appropriate referral; cancer genetic referrals; clinical genetics services; genetic counsellors; GP education; primary care
Self-management of hypertension, comprising self-monitoring of blood pressure with self-titration of medication, improves blood pressure control, but little is known regarding the views of patients undertaking it.
To explore patients’ views of self-monitoring blood pressure and self-titration of antihypertensive medication.
Design and setting
Qualitative study embedded within the randomised controlled trial TASMINH2 (Telemonitoirng and Self Management in the Control of Hypertension) trial of patient self-management of hypertension from 24 general practices in the West Midlands.
Taped and transcribed semi-structured interviews with 23 intervention patients were used. Six family members were also interviewed. Analysis was by a constant comparative method.
Patients were confident about self-monitoring and many felt their multiple home readings were more valid than single office readings taken by their GP. Although many patients self-titrated medication when required, others lacked the confidence to increase medication without reconsulting with their GP. Patients were more comfortable with titrating medication if their blood pressure readings were substantially above target, but were reluctant to implement such a change if readings were borderline. Many planned to continue self-monitoring after the study finished and report home readings to their GP, but few wished to continue with a self-management plan.
Participants valued the additional information and many felt confident in both self-monitoring blood pressure and self-titrating medication. The reluctance to change medication for borderline readings suggests behaviour similar to the clinical inertia seen for physicians in analogous circumstances. Additional support for those lacking in confidence to implement prearranged medication changes may allow more patients to undertake self-management.
family practice; hypertension; qualitative research; self blood pressure monitoring
Interventions to promote prudent antibiotic prescribing by general practitioners (GPs) have often only been developed for use in one country. We aimed to develop an intervention which would be appropriate to implement in multiple European countries in order to offer greater benefit to practice whilst using fewer resources. The INTRO (INternet TRaining for antibiOtic use) intervention needed to deliver training to GPs in the use of C-Reactive Protein (CRP) near patient tests to help diagnose acute cough and in communication skills to help explain prescribing decisions to patients. We explored GPs’ views on the initial version of INTRO to test acceptability and potentially increase applicability for use in multiple countries before the start of a randomised trial.
30 GPs from five countries (Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain), were interviewed using a “think aloud” approach. GPs were asked to work through the intervention and discuss their views on the content and format in relation to following the intervention in their own practice. GPs viewed the same intervention but versions were created in five languages. Data were coded using thematic analysis.
GPs in all five countries reported the view that the intervention addressed an important topic, was broadly acceptable and feasible to use, and would be a useful tool to help improve clinical practice. However, GPs in the different countries identified aspects of the intervention that did not reflect their national culture or healthcare system. These included perceived differences in communication style used in the consultation, consultation length and the stage of illness at which patient typically presented.
An online intervention to support evidence-based use of antibiotics is acceptable and feasible to implement amongst GPs in multiple countries. However, tailoring of the intervention to suit national contexts was necessary by adding local information and placing more emphasis on the fact that GPs could select the communication skills they wished to use in practice. Using think aloud methods to complement the development of interventions is a powerful method to identify regional contextual barriers to intervention implementation.
Primary health care; Behaviour change intervention; Implementation; Attitude of health personnel; Qualitative research
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is common in children, and may cause serious illness and recurrent symptoms. However, obtaining a urine sample from young children in primary care is challenging and not feasible for large numbers. Evidence regarding the predictive value of symptoms, signs and urinalysis for UTI in young children is urgently needed to help primary care clinicians better identify children who should be investigated for UTI. This paper describes the protocol for the Diagnosis of Urinary Tract infection in Young children (DUTY) study. The overall study aim is to derive and validate a cost-effective clinical algorithm for the diagnosis of UTI in children presenting to primary care acutely unwell.
DUTY is a multicentre, diagnostic and prospective observational study aiming to recruit at least 7,000 children aged before their fifth birthday, being assessed in primary care for any acute, non-traumatic, illness of ≤ 28 days duration. Urine samples will be obtained from eligible consented children, and data collected on medical history and presenting symptoms and signs. Urine samples will be dipstick tested in general practice and sent for microbiological analysis. All children with culture positive urines and a random sample of children with urine culture results in other, non-positive categories will be followed up to record symptom duration and healthcare resource use. A diagnostic algorithm will be constructed and validated and an economic evaluation conducted.
The primary outcome will be a validated diagnostic algorithm using a reference standard of a pure/predominant growth of at least >103, but usually >105 CFU/mL of one, but no more than two uropathogens.
We will use logistic regression to identify the clinical predictors (i.e. demographic, medical history, presenting signs and symptoms and urine dipstick analysis results) most strongly associated with a positive urine culture result. We will then use economic evaluation to compare the cost effectiveness of the candidate prediction rules.
This study will provide novel, clinically important information on the diagnostic features of childhood UTI and the cost effectiveness of a validated prediction rule, to help primary care clinicians improve the efficiency of their diagnostic strategy for UTI in young children.
Urinary Tract Infection; Children; Primary care; Point-of-care-test; Dipstick test; Near-patient testing; Diagnosis; Economic models
There is variation in antibiotic prescribing for lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in primary care that does not benefit patients. This study aims to investigate clinicians' accounts of clinical influences on antibiotic prescribing decisions for LRTI to better understand variation and identify opportunities for improvement.
Multi country qualitative interview study. Semi-structured interviews using open-ended questions and a patient scenario. Data were subjected to five-stage analytic framework approach (familiarisation, developing a thematic framework from the interview questions and emerging themes, indexing, charting and mapping to search for interpretations), with interviewers commenting on preliminary reports.
80 primary care clinicians randomly selected from primary care research networks based in nine European cities.
Clinicians reported four main individual clinical factors that guided their antibiotic prescribing decision: auscultation, fever, discoloured sputum and breathlessness. These were considered alongside a general impression of the patient derived from building a picture of the illness course, using intuition and familiarity with the patient. Comorbidity and older age were considered main risk factors for poor outcomes. Clinical factors were similar across networks, apart from C reactive protein near patient testing in Tromsø. Clinicians developed ways to handle diagnostic and management uncertainty through their own clinical routines.
Clinicians emphasised the importance of auscultation, fever, discoloured sputum and breathlessness, general impression of the illness course, familiarity with the patient, comorbidity, and age in informing their antibiotic prescribing decisions for LRTI. As some of these factors may be overemphasised given the evolving evidence base, greater standardisation of assessment and integration of findings may help reduce unhelpful variation in management. Non-clinical influences will also need to be addressed.
Clinicians' accounts of clinical influences on antibiotic prescribing decisions for LRTI.
Understand variation and identify opportunities for improvement.
Clinicians reported four main clinical factors that guided their antibiotic prescribing decision: auscultation findings, fever, discoloured sputum and breathlessness. Clinical factors were similar across networks, apart from C reactive protein near patient testing used in Tromsø.
These clinical factors were considered alongside a general impression of the patient derived from consideration of illness course, intuition and familiarity with the patient.
Clinicians developed ways to handle diagnostic and management uncertainty through their own clinical routines.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study to use semi-structured qualitative interviews to capture clinicians' views about LRTI management across a broad range of contrasting European countries.
The clinicians who participated were affiliated to a research network so may not have been representative of all general practitioners in their country.
Qualitative interviews gather reports of behaviour and attitude rather than actual behaviour, but by allowing clinicians to introduce and elaborate on themes spontaneously, we were able to gain an impression of the themes that held most prominence to the clinicians themselves.
A variety of interventions have been developed to promote a more prudent use of antibiotics by implementing clinical guidelines. It is not yet clear which are most acceptable and feasible for implementation across a wide range of contexts. Previous research has been confined mainly to examining views of individual interventions in a national context.
To explore GPs' views and experiences of strategies to promote a more prudent use of antibiotics, across five countries.
Design and setting
Qualitative study using thematic and framework analysis in general practices in Belgium, France, Poland, Spain, and the UK.
Fifty-two semi-structured interviews explored GPs' views and experiences of strategies aimed at promoting a more prudent use of antibiotics. Interviews were carried out in person or over the telephone, transcribed verbatim, and translated into English where necessary for analysis.
Themes were remarkably consistent across the countries. GPs had a preference for interventions that allowed discussion and comparison with local colleagues, which helped them to identify how their practice could improve. Other popular components of interventions included the use of near-patient tests to reduce diagnostic uncertainty, and the involvement of other health professionals to increase their responsibility for prescribing.
The study findings could be used to inform future interventions to improve their acceptability to GPs. Consistency in views across countries indicates the potential for development of an intervention that could be implemented on a European scale.
antibacterial agents; attitude of health personnel; guideline adherence; qualitative research; primary health care