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1.  Helen Lester: an appreciation 
PMCID: PMC3662438  PMID: 23735392
2.  Objectively Assessed Physical Activity and Subsequent Health Service Use of UK Adults Aged 70 and Over: A Four to Five Year Follow Up Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97676.
To examine the associations between volume and intensity of older peoples' physical activity, with their subsequent health service usage over the following four to five years.
Study Design
A prospective cohort design using baseline participant characteristics, objectively assessed physical activity and lower limb function provided by Project OPAL (Older People and Active Living). OPAL-PLUS provided data on numbers of primary care consultations, prescriptions, unplanned hospital admissions, and secondary care referrals, extracted from medical records for up to five years following the baseline OPAL data collection.
Participants and Data Collection
OPAL participants were a diverse sample of 240 older adults with a mean age of 78 years. They were recruited from 12 General Practitioner surgeries from low, middle, and high areas of deprivation in a city in the West of England. Primary care consultations, secondary care referrals, unplanned hospital admissions, number of prescriptions and new disease diagnoses were assessed for 213 (104 females) of the original 240 OPAL participants who had either consented to participate in OPAL-PLUS or already died during the follow-up period.
In regression modelling, adjusted for socio-economic variables, existing disease, weight status, minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day predicted subsequent numbers of prescriptions. Steps taken per day and MVPA also predicted unplanned hospital admissions, although the strength of the effect was reduced when further adjustment was made for lower limb function.
Community-based programs are needed which are successful in engaging older adults in their late 70s and 80s in more walking, MVPA and activity that helps them avoid loss of physical function. There is a potential for cost savings to health services through reduced reliance on prescriptions and fewer unplanned hospital admissions.
PMCID: PMC4035293  PMID: 24866573
3.  Domestic violence: knowledge, attitudes, and clinical practice of selected UK primary healthcare clinicians 
The British Journal of General Practice  2012;62(602):e647-e655.
Domestic violence affects one in four women and has significant health consequences. Women experiencing abuse identify doctors and other health professionals as potential sources of support. Primary care clinicians agree that domestic violence is a healthcare issue but have been reluctant to ask women if they are experiencing abuse.
To measure selected UK primary care clinicians’ current levels of knowledge, attitudes, and clinical skills in this area.
Design and setting
Prospective observational cohort in 48 general practices from Hackney in London and Bristol, UK.
Administration of the Physician Readiness to Manage Intimate Partner Violence Survey (PREMIS), comprising five sections: responder profile, background (perceived preparation and knowledge), actual knowledge, opinions, and practice issues.
Two hundred and seventy-two (59%) clinicians responded. Minimal previous domestic violence training was reported by participants. Clinicians only had basic knowledge about domestic violence but expressed a positive attitude towards engaging with women experiencing abuse. Many clinicians felt poorly prepared to ask relevant questions about domestic violence or to make appropriate referrals if abuse was disclosed. Forty per cent of participants never or seldom asked about abuse when a woman presented with injuries. Eighty per cent said that they did not have an adequate knowledge of local domestic violence resources. GPs were better prepared and more knowledgeable than practice nurses; they also identified a higher number of domestic violence cases.
Primary care clinicians’ attitudes towards women experiencing domestic violence are generally positive but they only have basic knowledge of the area. Both GPs and practice nurses need more comprehensive training on assessment and intervention, including the availability of local domestic violence services.
PMCID: PMC3426604  PMID: 22947586
cross-sectional studies; domestic violence; primary health care; women
4.  Psychological advocacy toward healing (PATH): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:221.
Domestic violence and abuse (DVA), defined as threatening behavior or abuse by adults who are intimate partners or family members, is a key public health and clinical priority. The prevalence of DVA in the United Kingdom and worldwide is high, and its impact on physical and mental health is detrimental and persistent. There is currently little support within healthcare settings for women experiencing DVA. Psychological problems in particular may be difficult to manage outside specialist services, as conventional forms of therapy such as counseling that do not address the violence may be ineffective or even harmful. The aim of this study is to assess the overall effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a novel psychological intervention tailored specifically for survivors of DVA and delivered by domestic violence advocates based in third-sector organizations.
Methods and study design
This study is an open, pragmatic, parallel group, individually randomized controlled trial. Women ages 16 years and older experiencing domestic violence are being enrolled and randomly allocated to receive usual DVA agency advocacy support (control) or usual DVA agency support plus psychological intervention (intervention). Those in the intervention group will receive eight specialist psychological advocacy (SPA) sessions weekly or fortnightly, with two follow-up sessions, 1 month and then 3 months later. This will be in addition to any advocacy support sessions each woman receives. Women in the control group will receive usual DVA agency support but no additional SPA sessions. The aim is to recruit 250 women to reach the target sample size. The primary outcomes are psychological well-being and depression severity at 1 yr from baseline, as measured by the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation–Outcome Measure (CORE-OM) and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), respectively. Secondary outcome measures include anxiety, posttraumatic stress, severity and frequency of abuse, quality of life and cost-effectiveness of the intervention. Data from a subsample of women in both groups will contribute to a nested qualitative study with repeat interviews during the year of follow-up.
This study will contribute to the evidence base for management of the psychological needs of women experiencing DVA. The findings will have important implications for healthcare commissioners and providers, as well as third sector specialist DVA agencies providing services to this client group.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3718639  PMID: 23866771
5.  A pilot randomised controlled trial of cognitive behavioural therapy for antenatal depression 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:33.
Few trials have evaluated the effectiveness of psychological treatment in improving depression by the end of pregnancy. This is the first pilot randomised controlled trial (RCT) of individual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) looking at treating depression by the end of pregnancy. Our aim was to assess the feasibility of delivering a CBT intervention modified for antenatal depression during pregnancy.
Women in North Bristol, UK between 8–18 weeks pregnant were recruited through routine contact with midwives and randomised to receive up to 12 sessions of individual CBT in addition to usual care or to continue with usual care only. Women were eligible for randomisation if they screened positive on a 3-question depression screen used routinely by midwives and met ICD-10 criteria for depression assessed using the clinical interview schedule – revised version (CIS-R). Two CBT therapists delivered the intervention. Follow-up was at 15 and 33 weeks post-randomisation when assessments of mental health were made using measures which included the CIS-R.
Of the 50 women assessed for the trial, 36 met ICD-10 depression criteria and were randomised: 18 to the intervention and 18 to usual care. Thirteen of the 18 (72%) women who were allocated to receive the intervention completed 9 or more sessions of CBT before the end of pregnancy. Follow-up rates at 15 and 33 weeks post-randomisation were higher in the group who received the intervention (89% vs. 72% at 15 weeks and 89% vs. 61% at 33 weeks post-randomisation). At 15 weeks post-randomisation (the end of pregnancy), there were more women in the intervention group (11/16; 68.7%) who recovered (i.e. no longer met ICD-10 criteria for depression), than those receiving only usual care (5/13; 38.5%).
This pilot trial shows the feasibility of conducting a large RCT to assess the effectiveness of CBT for treating antenatal depression before the end of pregnancy. The intervention could be delivered during the antenatal period and there was some evidence to suggest that it could be effective.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3666914  PMID: 23339584
Randomised controlled trial; Antenatal depression; Cognitive behavioural therapy; Pregnancy
6.  The effectiveness of exercise as a treatment for postnatal depression: study protocol 
Postnatal depression can have a substantial impact on the woman, the child and family as a whole. Thus, there is a need to examine different ways of helping women experiencing postnatal depression; encouraging them to exercise may be one way. A meta analysis found some support for exercise as an adjunctive treatment for postnatal depression but the methodological inadequacy of the few small studies included means that it is uncertain whether exercise reduces symptoms of postnatal depression. We aim to determine whether a pragmatic exercise intervention that involves one-to-one personalised exercise consultations and telephone support plus usual care in women with postnatal depression, is superior to usual care only, in reducing symptoms of postnatal depression.
We aim to recruit 208 women with postnatal depression in the West Midlands. Recently delivered women who meet the ICD-10 diagnosis for depression will be randomised to usual care plus exercise or usual care only. The exercise intervention will be delivered over 6 months. The primary outcome measure is difference in mean Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale score between the groups at six month follow-up. Outcome measures will be assessed at baseline and at six and 12 month post randomisation.
Findings from the research will inform future clinical guidance on antenatal and postnatal mental health, as well as inform practitioners working with postnatal depression.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC3449184  PMID: 22682671
Exercise; Postnatal depression
7.  Involving patients with depression in research: survey of patients' attitudes to participation 
The British Journal of General Practice  2011;61(585):e134-e141.
Clinicians report barriers to involving their patients in mental health research and have concerns that participation may have negative effects.
To investigate patients' views on participating in a primary care randomised controlled trial (RCT) comparing two antidepressant drugs.
Design of study
Cross-sectional survey.
General practices, England.
Six hundred and one trial participants were surveyed about their reasons for, and experience of, participating.
The questionnaire was completed by 252/601 (42%) participants. The most influential factors determining participation were: wanting to help others with depression (94%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 90 to 97%) of responders rated this as ‘important’ or ‘very important’); friendly researchers (94%, 95% CI = 90 to 96%); and interest in the research (88%, 95% CI = 83 to 91%). Most were glad they took part and would consider participating in future research. Ninety-six per cent (95% CI = 92 to 98%) reported that their confidence in their GP had increased or remained unchanged since referral. Qualitative analysis of free-text responses indicated that patients found participation beneficial and liked: being altruistic, doing something positive, feeling supported by the researchers, and having time to talk. Many gained understanding of their depression and valued feedback on their progress. A minority reported negative views, which commonly related to taking antidepressants, and answering questionnaires.
GPs have a vital role in facilitating patient involvement in research but report barriers to referring depressed patients to RCTs. However, this data suggests that patients are willing to participate and many find this beneficial. Understanding attitudes to participation in mental health research is a crucial step in designing trials that are more acceptable to patients and GPs. This will strengthen the evidence for therapeutic approaches in primary care.
PMCID: PMC3063041  PMID: 21439170
depression; general practice; patient participation; qualitative research; randomised controlled trials
8.  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
9.  Getting out and about in older adults: the nature of daily trips and their association with objectively assessed physical activity 
A key public health objective is increasing health-enhancing physical activity (PA) for older adults (OAs). Daily trip frequency is independently associated with objectively assessed PA volumes (OAs). Little is known about correlates and these trips' transport mode, and how these elements relate to PA. Purpose: to describe the frequency, purpose, and travel mode of daily trips in OAs, and their association with participant characteristics and objectively-assessed PA.
Participants (n = 214, aged 78.1 SD 5.7 years), completed a seven-day trips log recording daily-trip frequency, purpose and transport mode. Concurrently participants wore an accelerometer which provided mean daily steps (steps·d-1), and minutes of moderate to vigorous PA (MVPA·d-1). Participants' physical function (PF) was estimated and demographic, height and weight data obtained.
Trip frequency was associated with gender, age, physical function, walking-aid use, educational attainment, number of amenities within walking distance and cars in the household. Participants reported 9.6 (SD 4.2) trips per week (trips·wk-1). Most trips (61%) were by car (driver 44%, passenger 17%), 30% walking or cycling (active) and 9% public transport/other. Driving trips·wk-1 were more common in participants who were males (5.3 SD 3.6), well-educated (5.0 SD 4.3), high functioning (5.1 SD 4.6), younger (5.6 SD 4.9), affluent area residents (5.1 SD 4.2) and accessing > one car (7.2 SD 4.7). Active trips·wk-1 were more frequent in participants who were males (3.4 SD 3.6), normal weight (3.2 SD 3.4), not requiring walking aids (3.5 SD 3.3), well-educated (3.7 SD 0.7), from less deprived neighbourhoods (3.9 SD 3.9) and with ≥ 8 amenities nearby (4.4 SD 3.8).
Public transport, and active trip frequency, were significantly associated with steps·d-1 (p < 0.001), even after adjustment for other trip modes and potential confounders. Public transport, active, or car driving trips were independently associated with minutes MVPA·d-1 (p < 0.01).
Daily trips are associated with objectively-measured PA as indicated by daily MVPA and steps. Public transport and active trips are associated with greater PA than those by car, especially as a car passenger. Strategies encouraging increased trips, particularly active or public transport trips, in OAs can potentially increase their PA and benefit public health.
PMCID: PMC3213209  PMID: 22018626
10.  The prevalence of suicidal ideation identified by the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in postpartum women in primary care: findings from the RESPOND trial 
1 Abstract
1.1 Background
Suicide is a leading cause of perinatal maternal deaths in industrialised countries but there has been little research to investigate prevalence or correlates of postpartum suicidality. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale is widely used in primary and maternity services to screen for perinatal depressive disorders, and includes a question on suicidal ideation (question 10). We aimed to investigate the prevalence, persistence and correlates of suicidal thoughts in postpartum women in the context of a randomised controlled trial of treatments for postnatal depression.
1.2 Methods
Women in primary care were sent postal questionnaires at 6 weeks postpartum to screen for postnatal depression before recruitment into an RCT. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was used to screen for postnatal depression and in those with high levels of symptoms, a home visit with a standardised psychiatric interview was carried out using the Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised version (CIS-R). Other socio-demographic and clinical variables were measured, including functioning (SF12) and quality of the marital relationship (GRIMS). Women who entered the trial were followed up for 18 weeks.
1.3 Results
9% of 4,150 women who completed the EPDS question relating to suicidal ideation reported some suicidal ideation (including hardly ever); 4% reported that the thought of harming themselves had occurred to them sometimes or quite often. In women who entered the randomised trial and completed the EPDS question relating to suicidal ideation (n = 253), suicidal ideation was associated with younger age, higher parity and higher levels of depressive symptoms in the multivariate analysis. Endorsement of 'yes, quite often' to question 10 on the EPDS was associated with affirming at least two CIS-R items on suicidality. We found no association between suicidal ideation and SF-12 physical or mental health or the EPDS total score at 18 weeks.
1.4 Conclusions
Healthcare professionals using the EPDS should be aware of the significant suicidality that is likely to be present in women endorsing 'yes, quite often' to question 10 of the EPDS. However, suicidal ideation does not appear to predict poor outcomes in women being treated for postnatal depression.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN16479417.
PMCID: PMC3161003  PMID: 21812968
11.  Primary care Identification and Referral to Improve Safety of women experiencing domestic violence (IRIS): protocol for a pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:54.
Domestic violence, which may be psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional, is a major public health problem due to the long-term health consequences for women who have experienced it and for their children who witness it. In populations of women attending general practice, the prevalence of physical or sexual abuse in the past year from a partner or ex-partner ranges from 6 to 23%, and lifetime prevalence from 21 to 55%. Domestic violence is particularly important in general practice because women have many contacts with primary care clinicians and because women experiencing abuse identify doctors and nurses as professionals from whom they would like to get support. Yet health professionals rarely ask about domestic violence and have little or no training in how to respond to disclosure of abuse.
This protocol describes IRIS, a pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial with the general practice as unit of randomisation. Our trial tests the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a training and support programme targeted at general practice teams. The primary outcome is referral of women to specialist domestic violence agencies. Forty-eight practices in two UK cities (Bristol and London) are randomly allocated, using minimisation, into intervention and control groups. The intervention, based on an adult learning model in an educational outreach framework, has been designed to address barriers to asking women about domestic violence and to encourage appropriate responses to disclosure and referral to specialist domestic violence agencies. Multidisciplinary training sessions are held with clinicians and administrative staff in each of the intervention practices, with periodic feedback of identification and referral data to practice teams. Intervention practices have a prompt to ask about abuse integrated in the electronic medical record system. Other components of the intervention include an IRIS champion in each practice and a direct referral pathway to a named domestic violence advocate.
This is the first European randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve the health care response to domestic violence. The findings will have the potential to inform training and service provision.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC2825222  PMID: 20122266
13.  The risk of colorectal cancer with symptoms at different ages and between the sexes: a case-control study 
BMC Medicine  2009;7:17.
Colorectal cancer is generally diagnosed following a symptomatic presentation to primary care. Although the presenting features of the cancer are well described, the risks they convey are less well known. This study aimed to quantify the risk of cancer for different symptoms, across age groups and in both sexes.
This was a case-control study using pre-existing records in a large electronic primary care database. Cases were patients aged 30 years or older with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer between January 2001 and July 2006, matched to seven controls by age, sex and practice. All features of colorectal cancer recorded in the 2 years before diagnosis were identified. Features independently associated with cancer were identified using multivariable conditional logistic regression, and their risk of cancer quantified.
We identified 5477 cases, with 38,314 age, sex and practice-matched controls. Six symptoms and two abnormal investigations (anaemia and microcytosis) were independently associated with colorectal cancer. The positive predictive values of symptoms were: rectal bleeding, positive predictive value for a male aged ≥ 80 years 4.5% (95% confidence interval 3.5, 5.9); change in bowel habit 3.9% (2.8, 5.5); weight loss 0.8% (0.5, 1.3); abdominal pain 1.2% (1.0, 1.4); diarrhoea 1.2% (1.0, 1.5) and constipation 0.7% (0.6, 0.8). Positive predictive values were lower in females and younger patients. Only 27% of patients had reported either of the two higher risk symptoms.
Most symptomatic colorectal cancers present with only a low-risk symptom. There is a need to find a method of identifying those at highest risk of cancer from the large number presenting with such symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2675533  PMID: 19374736
14.  Designing a 'NHS friendly' complementary therapy service: A qualitative case study 
Provision of complementary therapy services within the NHS is scarce and contested. However, their adoption may be more likely in a service model that is designed to the specifications of clinicians and Primary Care Trust (PCT) managers. Our objective was to identify the features of a 'NHS friendly' service to inform service designers who wish to develop NHS complementary therapy services.
Using a case study approach, two sites offering complementary therapies on NHS premises were studied using interview and documentary data. We conducted interviews with 20 NHS professionals, including PCT managers and clinicians. We used descriptive content analysis to analyse interview data. We collected and analysed documentation, such as referral data, funding bids and evaluations, to compare reported and documented behaviour.
Ideally, a 'NHS friendly' complementary therapy service should offer a limited number of therapies for a specific condition for high priority patient populations (e.g. acupuncture for addictions). In this service model, the therapies should be perceived to have 'good' evidence for conditions where there are 'effectiveness gaps' (i.e. current treatments are limited). The service should be evaluated and regularly promoted. Inter-professional relationships would flourish through opportunities for informal contact and formal interactions, such as observations of consultations. However, the service should include gatekeeper mechanisms to control demand and avoid picking up 'unmet need' (i.e. individuals currently not accessing NHS services). The complementary therapy service should pay for itself and reduce NHS costs elsewhere, such as hospital admissions.
The service design model identified in this study is problematic. For example, it is contradictory to provide specific interventions for specific conditions within a holistic healthcare framework. It is difficult to avoid providing for 'unmet need' while concurrently filling 'effectiveness gaps'. In addition, demonstrating the impact of a community service on reducing hospital admissions is challenging. Those seeking to establish a NHS complementary therapy service might be well-advised to meet as many of the criteria of a 'NHS friendly' model as possible, recognising that its full realisation may be impossible. However, during periods of innovation and financial security, some relaxation of expectations may occur.
PMCID: PMC2529289  PMID: 18699999
16.  Young adults' perceptions of GPs as a help source for mental distress: a qualitative study 
Few young adults with mental disorder seek help from a GP.
To explore young adults' perceptions of GPs as a source of help for mental distress.
Design of study
Qualitative interviews.
Bristol and surrounding areas, UK.
Males and females aged 16–24 years screened as ‘cases’ with probable mental disorder (GHQ [General Health Questionnaire]-12 score≥4) or describing past episodes of mental disorder (n = 23) were sampled purposively according to help-seeking behaviour. Semi-structured interviews explored help-seeking choices. Transcripts were analysed using thematic, constant comparison and case study analysis.
Most young adults did not value or recognise GPs as a source of help for mental disorder or distress. They thought that GPs deal exclusively with physical illness, lack training in mental health, are unable to provide ‘talking’ therapy, and may be dismissive of those consulting with mental distress. A prescription for antidepressants was seen as the most likely outcome of a consultation, but young adults wished to avoid this and so rarely consulted. Encounters with GPs could challenge or reinforce these perceptions.
Negative perceptions about the value of consulting a GP for mental distress may explain low rates of help-seeking among young adults, including those with severe distress. Young people require a better understanding of GPs' role. It is also necessary to address evidence reported elsewhere that some GPs also experience uncertainties about what they can offer within the constraints of primary care.
PMCID: PMC1934052  PMID: 17132380
adolescent; health behaviour; mental disorders; patient acceptance of healthcare; qualitative research
17.  Deciding who gets treatment for depression and anxiety: a study of consecutive GP attenders 
Most research has focused on recognition by GPs of the common mental disorders: depression and anxiety. However, less is known about the factors that determine whether patients with those disorders that are recognised receive any active treatment.
To investigate factors associated with receiving active treatment among consecutive attenders identified by GPs as having a common mental disorder.
Data were collected as part of a cluster randomised controlled trial in 30 general practices in the south of Bristol, UK, on the impact of mental health guidelines in primary care.
We studied 439 consecutive general practice attenders aged 16–64 years who were given a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or chronic mixed anxiety and depression by their GP. The main outcome measure was the provision of any active treatment, whether pharmacological or psychological, for these disorders. Patient, GP, and practice level data, including sociodemographic, clinical, and administrative data were explored as predictors in a logistic regression model. Huber White variance estimates were used to account for hierarchical clustering.
Of those patients identified as having a common mental disorder by the GP, 54% were offered active treatment. Higher symptom score, as measured by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) (odds ratio [OR] = 1.09; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.06 to 1.13; P<0.001) and being male (OR = 1.54; 95% CI = 1.13 to 2.09; P = 0.006), were both associated with an increased likelihood of being offered active treatment. Patients with anxiety (OR = 0.24; 95% = CI 0.14 to 0.41; P<0.001), or chronic mixed anxiety/depression (OR = 0.41; 95% CI = 0.23 to 0.73; P = 0.003) were less likely to be offered active treatment than those considered to have depression.
When deciding to offer active treatment for common mental disorders, GPs appear to be influenced by the severity of symptoms rather than their ‘understandability’ in relation to recent life stresses or the social context of distress. Further research is needed to investigate why men are more likely and those with an anxiety disorder less likely, to be offered active treatment.
PMCID: PMC1570785  PMID: 16282000
anxiety; common mental disorder; depression; general practitioners; primary care; treatment
18.  Complementary therapy use by patients and parents of children with asthma and the implications for NHS care: a qualitative study 
Patients are increasingly using complementary therapies, often for chronic conditions. Asthma is the most common chronic condition in the UK. Previous research indicates that some asthma patients experience gaps in their NHS care. However, little attention has been given to how and why patients and parents of children with asthma use complementary therapies and the implications for NHS care.
Qualitative study, comprising 50 semi-structured interviews with a purposeful sample of 22 adults and 28 children with asthma (plus a parent), recruited from a range of NHS and non-NHS settings in Bristol, England. Data analysis was thematic, drawing on the principles of constant comparison.
A range of complementary therapies were being used for asthma, most commonly Buteyko breathing and homeopathy. Most use took place outside of the NHS, comprising either self-treatment or consultation with private complementary therapists. Complementary therapies were usually used alongside not instead of conventional asthma treatment. A spectrum of complementary therapy users emerged, including "committed", "pragmatic" and "last resort" users. Motivating factors for complementary therapy use included concerns about conventional NHS care ("push factors") and attractive aspects of complementary therapies ("pull factors"). While participants were often uncertain whether therapies had directly helped their asthma, breathing techniques such as the Buteyko Method were most notably reported to enhance symptom control and enable reduction in medication. Across the range of therapies, the process of seeking and using complementary therapies seemed to help patients in two broad ways: it empowered them to take greater personal control over their condition rather than feel dependant on medication, and enabled exploration of a broader range of possible causes of their asthma than commonly discussed within NHS settings.
Complementary therapy use reflects patients' and parents' underlying desire for greater self-care and need of opportunities to address some of their concerns regarding NHS asthma care. Self-management of chronic conditions is increasingly promoted within the NHS but with little attention to complementary therapy use as one strategy being used by patients and parents. With their desire for self-help, complementary therapy users are in many ways adopting the healthcare personas that current policies aim to encourage.
PMCID: PMC1538997  PMID: 16776833
19.  Factors influencing help seeking in mentally distressed young adults: a cross-sectional survey. 
BACKGROUND: Young adults, especially men, are among those least likely to consult healthcare professionals when mentally distressed or suicidal. AIMS: To investigate the help-seeking behaviours of mentally distressed young adults. Design of study: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Bristol and surrounding areas, including inner-city, suburban and urban locations. METHOD: A questionnaire was sent to a sample of 3004 young adults aged 16-24 years. This assessed probable mental disorder (using the 12-item general health questionnaire [GHQ-12]), suicidal thoughts (GHQ-28 suicide subscale), and help-seeking behaviours. RESULTS: Most responders who were assessed as having probable mental disorders (GHQ "cases") had not sought help. Help seeking was more common in female GHQ cases than male cases (34.8% and 21.8%,respectively; P = 0.003) and women with suicidal thoughts more commonly sought help than men with suicidal thoughts (41.6% and 30.9%, respectively; P = 0.15). Small proportions of male and female GHQ cases (7.5% and 8.9%, respectively; P = 0.6), and less than one in five responders with suicidal thoughts, had consulted a general practitioner. In more female than male cases, help was sought from family and friends (30.7% and 18.4%, respectively; P = 0.004). GHQ score was the strongest predictor of help seeking. Men had a higher threshold of severity at which they would seek help than women. Recent experience of suicidal thoughts appeared to be a stronger predictor of formal help seeking in mentally distressed women than mentally distressed men. CONCLUSION: Distressed young adults are reluctant to seek help. Men are particularly unlikely to do so unless severely distressed and tend not to seek lay support. Sex differences in help seeking may be important in understanding the high suicide rate for men.
PMCID: PMC1314848  PMID: 15113490
20.  Falls and the use of health services in community-living elderly people. 
Falls are common and often preventable in older people. This short report describes substantial unmet need in relation to falls. Although falling, nearly falling, fear of falling, and activity restriction are common, many people do not seek assistance from healthcare professionals. Only 2% of those who had attended their general practioner (GP), a casualty department, or had been admitted to hospital after a fall were taking drugs to protect against osteoporosis. People who have fallen or are at a risk of falling need to be identified, and local policies and information regarding treatment for osteoporosis are needed.
PMCID: PMC1314445  PMID: 12434962
21.  Impact of NHS walk-in centres on the workload of other local healthcare providers: time series analysis 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2003;326(7388):532.
To assess the impact of NHS walk-in centres on the workload of local accident and emergency departments, general practices, and out of hours services.
Time series analysis in walk-in centre sites with no-treatment control series in matched sites.
Walk-in centres and matched control towns without walk-in centres in England.
20 accident and emergency departments, 40 general practices, and 14 out of hours services within 3 km of a walk-in centre or the centre of a control town.
Main outcome measures
Mean number (accident and emergency departments) or rate (general practices and out of hours services) of consultations per month in the 12 month periods before and after an index date.
A reduction in consultations at emergency departments (–175 (95% confidence interval –387 to 36) consultations per department per month) and general practices (–19.8 (−53.3 to 13.8) consultations per 1000 patients per month) close to walk-in centres became apparent, although these reductions were not statistically significant. Walk-in centres did not have any impact on consultations on out of hours services.
It will be necessary to assess the impact of walk-in centres in a larger number of sites and over a prolonged period, to determine whether they reduce the demand on other local NHS providers.
What is already known on this topicOne of the objectives for NHS walk-in centres was to reduce demand on other NHS services, particularly general practitioners' services and accident and emergency departmentsStudies of walk-in centres in North America have indicated that such centres do not reduce demand on other healthcare servicesStudies of minor injuries units in the United Kingdom (which have some similarities with walk-in centres) indicate that these units substitute mainly for consultations in accident and emergency departmentsWhat this study addsThe data imply that walk-in centres may moderate the increasing demand on general practice and reduce the number of consultations in accident and emergency departmentsThe high level of background variability in consultation rates means that any impact of a walk-in centre is not statistically significantTo draw robust conclusions about the impact of walk-in centres on other health providers will require study of a large number of sites over an extended period of time
PMCID: PMC150465  PMID: 12623914
23.  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

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