Primary healthcare in developed countries is undergoing important reforms, and these require evaluation strategies to assess how well the population's expectations are being met. Although numerous instruments are available to evaluate primary healthcare (PHC) from the patient perspective, they do not all measure the same range of constructs. To analyze the extent to which important PHC attributes are covered in validated instruments measuring quality of care from the patient perspective.
We systematically identified validated instruments from the literature and by consulting experts. Using a Delphi consensus-building process, Canadian PHC experts identified and operationally defined 24 important PHC attributes. One team member mapped instrument subscales to these operational definitions; this mapping was then independently validated by members of the research team and conflicts were resolved by the PHC experts.
Of the 24 operational definitions, 13 were evaluated as being best measured by patients, 10 by providers, three by administrative databases and one by chart audits (some being best measured by more than one source). Our search retained 17 measurement tools containing 118 subscales. After eliminating redundancies, we mapped 13 unique measurement tools to the PHC attributes. Accessibility, relational continuity, interpersonal communication, management continuity, respectfulness and technical quality of clinical care were the attributes widely covered by available instruments. Advocacy, management of clinical information, comprehensiveness of services, cultural sensitivity, family-centred care, whole-person care and equity were poorly covered.
Validated instruments to evaluate PHC quality from the patient perspective leave many important attributes of PHC uncovered. A complete assessment of PHC quality will require adjusting existing tools and/or developing new instruments.
Primary healthcare; Quality of healthcare; Qualitative analysis; Measurement instruments
The aim of this study was to analyse the clinical decision making strategies of GPs with regard to the whole range of problems encountered in everyday work.
A prospective questionnaire study was carried through, where 16 General practitioners in Sweden registered consecutively 378 problems in 366 patients.
68.3% of the problems were registered as somatic, 5.8% as psychosocial and 25.9% as both somatic and psychosocial. When the problem was characterised as somatic the main emphasis was most often on the symptoms only, and when the problem was psychosocial main emphasis was given to the person. Immediate, inductive, decision-making contrary to gradual, analytical, was used for about half of the problems. Immediate decision-making was less often used when problems were registered as both somatic and psychosocial and focus was on both the symptoms and the person. When immediate decision-making was used the GPs were significantly more often certain of their identification of the problem and significantly more satisfied with their consultation. Rules of thumb in consultations registered as somatic with emphasis on symptoms only did not include any reference to the individual patient. In consultations registered as psychosocial with emphasis on the person, rules of thumb often included reference to the patient as a known person.
The decision-making (immediate or gradual) registered by the GPs seemed to have been adjusted on the symptom or on the patient as a person. Our results indicate that the GPs seem to recognise immediately both problems and persons, hence the quintessence of the expert skill of the GP as developed through experience.
The Patient Enablement Instrument (PEI), which has been used to evaluate core ingredients in primary care consultations, has been proposed as a means of moving beyond patient satisfaction evaluations. The aim of the present study was to examine the reliability and applicability of the PEI to the Swedish context.
The original PEI was translated to Swedish and included in a questionnaire that was given to consecutively scheduled patients in four primary care settings. Respondents completed identical questionnaires immediately after a consultation, as well as two days and two weeks later. The analysis focused on internal reliability, test-retest reliability and internal construct validity.
Mean PEI scores declined significantly between baseline (3.48, SD 3.21) and the first follow-up questionnaire (3.06, SD 3.37). All three questionnaires showed high internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha >0.85). Test-retest showed moderate agreement for all questions when comparing baseline and the first follow-up (kappa 0.54-0.65) and greater consistency between the two follow-up questionnaires (kappa 0.65-0.75). A large proportion of respondents characterized at least one of the questions as irrelevant (39%).
The Swedish version of the PEI instrument has high internal consistency and moderate to good reliability. It can be used in research but is not recommended as a measure of quality of care. The instrument could benefit from further development and validity testing.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12875-015-0242-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Consultation; Enabling factors; Patient-centred care; Primary care; Patient evaluation
Further research on effective interventions for patients with peristent Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms (MUPS) in general practice is needed. Prevalence estimates of such patients are conflicting, and other descriptive knowledge is needed for development and evaluation of effective future interventions. In this study, we aimed to estimate the consultation prevalence of patients with persistent MUPS in general practice, including patients’ characteristics and symptom pattern, employment status and use of social benefits, and the general practitioners’ (GPs) management strategy.
During a four-week period the participating Norwegian GPs (n = 84) registered all consultations with patients who met a strict definition of MUPS (>3 months duration and function loss), using a questionnaire with simple tick-off questions. Analyses were performed with descriptive statistics for all variables and split analysis on gender and age.
The GPs registered 526 patients among their total of 17 688 consultations, giving a consultation prevalence of persistent MUPS of 3%. The mean age of patients was 46 years, and 399 (76%) were women. The most frequent group of symptoms was musculoskeletal problems, followed by asthenia/fatigue. There was no significant gender difference in symptom pattern. Almost half of the patients were currently working (45%), significantly more men. The major GP management strategy was supportive counseling.
A consultation prevalence rate of 3% implies that patients with persistent MUPS are common in general practice. Our study disclosed heterogeneity among the patients such as differences in employment status, which emphasizes the importance of personalized focus rather than unsubstantiated stereotyping of “MUPS patients” as a group.
Prevalence; Cross-sectional studies; Somatoform disorders; Employment; Primary health care
Chest pain is a common complaint in primary care, with coronary heart disease (CHD) being the most concerning of many potential causes. Systematic reviews on the sensitivity and specificity of symptoms and signs summarize the evidence about which of them are most useful in making a diagnosis. Previous meta-analyses are dominated by studies of patients referred to specialists. Moreover, as the analysis is typically based on study-level data, the statistical analyses in these reviews are limited while meta-analyses based on individual patient data can provide additional information. Our patient-level meta-analysis has three unique aims. First, we strive to determine the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for myocardial ischemia in primary care. Second, we investigate associations between study- or patient-level characteristics and measures of diagnostic accuracy. Third, we aim to validate existing clinical prediction rules for diagnosing myocardial ischemia in primary care. This article describes the methods of our study and six prospective studies of primary care patients with chest pain. Later articles will describe the main results.
We will conduct a systematic review and IPD meta-analysis of studies evaluating the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for diagnosing coronary heart disease in primary care. We will perform bivariate analyses to determine the sensitivity, specificity and likelihood ratios of individual symptoms and signs and multivariate analyses to explore the diagnostic value of an optimal combination of all symptoms and signs based on all data of all studies. We will validate existing clinical prediction rules from each of the included studies by calculating measures of diagnostic accuracy separately by study.
Our study will face several methodological challenges. First, the number of studies will be limited. Second, the investigators of original studies defined some outcomes and predictors differently. Third, the studies did not collect the same standard clinical data set. Fourth, missing data, varying from partly missing to fully missing, will have to be dealt with.
Despite these limitations, we aim to summarize the available evidence regarding the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs for diagnosing CHD in patients presenting with chest pain in primary care.
Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (University of York): CRD42011001170
MeSH; Chest pain; Myocardial ischemia; Medical history taking; Sensitivity and specificity; Primary health care
In order to proceed from a paper based registration to a surveillance system that is based on extraction of electronic health records (EHR), knowledge is needed on the number and representativeness of sentinel GPs using a government-certified EHR system and the quality of EHR data for research, expressed in the compliance rate with three criteria: recording of home visits, use of prescription module and diagnostic subject headings.
Data were collected by annual postal surveys between 2005 and 2009 among all sentinel GPs. We tested relations between four key GP characteristics (age, gender, language community, practice organisation) and use of a certified EHR system by multivariable logistic regression. The relation between EHR software package, GP characteristics and compliance with three quality criteria was equally measured by multivariable logistic regression.
A response rate of 99% was obtained. Of 221 sentinel GPs, 55% participated in the surveillance without interruption from 2005 onwards, i.e. all five years, and 78% were participants in 2009. Sixteen certified EHR systems were used among 91% of the Dutch and 63% of the French speaking sentinel GPs. The EHR software package was strongly related to the community and only one EHR system was used by a comparable number of sentinel GPs in both communities. Overall, the prescription module was always used and home visits were usually recorded. Uniform subject headings were only sometimes used and the compliance with this quality criterion was almost exclusively related to the EHR software package in use.
The challenge is to progress towards a sentinel network of GPs delivering care-based data that are (partly) extracted from well performing EHR systems and still representative for Belgian general practice.
The high rate of antibiotic prescriptions general practitioners (GPs) make for respiratory tract infections (RTI) are often explained by non-medical reasons e.g. an effort to meet patient expectations. Additionally, it is known that GPs to some extent believe in the necessity of antibiotic treatment in patients with assumed bacterial infections and therefore attempt to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections by history taking and physical examination. The influence of patient complaints and physical examination findings on GPs' prescribing behaviour was mostly investigated by indirect methods such as questionnaires.
Direct, structured observation during a winter "cough an cold period" in 30 (single handed) general practices. All 273 patients with symptoms of RTI (age above 14, median 37 years, 51% female) were included.
The most frequent diagnoses were 'uncomplicated upper RTI/common cold' (43%) followed by 'bronchitis' (26%). On average, 1.8 (95%-confidence interval (CI): 1.7–2.0) medicines per patient were prescribed (cough-and-cold preparations in 88% of the patients, antibiotics in 49%). Medical predictors of antibiotic prescribing were pathological findings in physical examination such as coated tonsils (odds ratio (OR) 15.4, 95%-CI: 3.6–66.2) and unspecific symptoms like fatigue (OR 3.1, 95%-CI 1.4–6.7), fever (OR 2.2, 95%-CI: 1.1–4.5) and yellow sputum (OR 2.1, 95%-CI: 1.1–4.1). Analysed predictors explained 70% of the variance of antibiotic prescribing (R2 = 0,696). Efforts to reduce antibiotic prescribing, e.g. recommendations for self-medication, counselling on home remedies or delayed antibiotic prescribing were rare.
Patient complaints and pathological results in physical examination were strong predictors of antibiotic prescribing. Efforts to reduce antibiotic prescribing should account for GPs' beliefs in those (non evidence based) predictors. The method of direct observation was shown to be accepted both by patients and GPs and offered detailed insights into the GP-patient-interaction.
Acute cough is a common problem in general practice and is often caused by a self-limiting, viral infection. Nonetheless, antibiotics are often prescribed in this situation, which may lead to unnecessary side effects and, even worse, the development of antibiotic resistant microorganisms worldwide. This study assessed the role of point-of-care C-reactive protein (CRP) testing and other predictors of antibiotic prescription in patients who present with acute cough in general practice.
Patient characteristics, symptoms, signs, and laboratory and X-ray findings from 348 patients presenting to 39 general practitioners with acute cough, as well as the GPs themselves, were recorded by fourth-year medical students during their three-week clerkships in general practice. Patient and clinician characteristics of those prescribed and not-prescribed antibiotics were compared using a mixed-effects model.
Of 315 patients included in the study, 22% were prescribed antibiotics. The two groups of patients, those prescribed antibiotics and those treated symptomatically, differed significantly in age, demand for antibiotics, days of cough, rhinitis, lung auscultation, haemoglobin level, white blood cell count, CRP level and the GP’s license to self-dispense antibiotics. After regression analysis, only the CRP level, the white blood cell count and the duration of the symptoms were statistically significant predictors of antibiotic prescription.
The antibiotic prescription rate of 22% in adult patients with acute cough in the Swiss primary care setting is low compared to other countries. GPs appear to use point-of-care CRP testing in addition to the duration of clinical symptoms to help them decide whether or not to prescribe antibiotics.
Acute cough; Antibiotics; Primary care of Switzerland; Point-of-care CRP testing
The aim here was to explore trends in patient satisfaction with primary health care and its accessibility and continuity, and to explore whether through reforms and improvements some of the essential goals had been achieved over a 14-year period of time in Finland.
Nine questionnaire surveys were conducted over a period of 14 years among patients attending within one week in the 65 health centres in the Tampere University Hospital catchment area. A total of 147,394 responded out of a sample of 333,648 patients. The response rate varied yearly from 53% to 37%.
Patient satisfaction with care in Finnish health centres decreased by nearly 9 percentage units from 1998 to 2011. The fall-off was most marked in the age-group over 64 years. There was a 20 percentage unit’s reduction in ease of access as reported by patients. Respondents also reported that the continuity of care had deteriorated.
Despite major reforms in Finnish health care policy, patients seem to be less satisfied. Our findings challenge both Finnish authorities and GPs to improve the accessibility and continuity of care in primary health services.
Accessibility; Continuity; Patient satisfaction; Primary health care; Questionnaire survey
Women presenting with symptoms of acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) are often prescribed antibiotics. However, in 25 to 50% of symptomatic women not taking antibiotics, symptoms recover spontaneously within one week. It is not known how many women are prepared to delay antibiotic treatment. We investigated how many women presenting with UTI symptoms were willing to delay antibiotic treatment when asked by their general practitioner (GP).
From 18 April 2006 until 8 October 2008, in a prospective cohort study, patients were recruited in 20 GP practices in and around Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Healthy, non-pregnant women who contacted their GP with painful and/or frequent micturition for no longer than seven days registered their symptoms and collected urine for urinalysis and culture. GPs were requested to ask all patients if they were willing to delay antibiotic treatment, without knowing the result of the culture at that moment. After seven days, patients reported whether their symptoms had improved and whether they had used any antibiotics.
Of 176 women, 137 were asked by their GP to delay antibiotic treatment, of whom 37% (51/137) were willing to delay. After one week, 55% (28/51) of delaying women had not used antibiotics, of whom 71% (20/28) reported clinical improvement or cure. None of the participating women developed pyelonephritis.
More than a third of women with UTI symptoms are willing to delay antibiotic treatment when asked by their GP. The majority of delaying women report spontaneous symptom improvement after one week.
Urinary tract infections; General practice; Antibiotics; Delayed treatment; Natural course
Primary health care systems are designed to provide comprehensive patient care. However, the ICD 9 coding system used for billing purposes in Canada neither characterizes nor captures the scope of clinical practice or complexity of physician-patient interactions. This study aims to describe the content of primary care clinical encounters and examine the limitations of using administrative data to capture the content of these visits. Although a number of U.S studies have described the content of primary care encounters, this is the first Canadian study to do so.
Study-specific data collection forms were completed by 16 primary care physicians in community health and family practice clinics in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The data collection forms were completed immediately following the patient encounter and included patient and visit characteristics, such as primary reason for visit, topics discussed, actions taken, degree of complexity as well as diagnosis and ICD-9 codes.
Data was collected for 760 patient encounters. The diagnostic codes often did not reflect the dominant topic of the visit or the topic requiring the most amount of time. Physicians often address multiple problems and provide numerous services thus increasing the complexity of care.
This is one of the first Canadian studies to critically analyze the content of primary care clinical encounters. The data allowed a greater understanding of primary care clinical encounters and attests to the deficiencies of singular ICD-9 coding which fails to capture the comprehensiveness and complexity of the primary care encounter. As primary care reform initiatives in the U.S and Canada attempt to transform the way family physicians deliver care, it becomes increasingly important that other tools for structuring primary care data are considered in order to help physicians, researchers and policy makers understand the breadth and complexity of primary care.
Primary care; ICD-9 code; Office visit; Topic; Action
Patients attending general practices receive only about sixty per cent of the preventive services that are indicated for them. This pilot study explores patient acceptability and perceived utility of automatically generated prevention summary and reminder sheets provided to patients immediately before consultations with their general practitioners.
Adult patients attending a general practitioner in a practice in Adelaide and a general practitioner in a practice in Melbourne, Australia for consultations in January and February 2009 received automatically-generated prevention summary and reminder sheets that highlighted indicated preventive activities that were due to be performed, and that encouraged the patient to discuss these with the general practitioner in the consultation. Patients completed a post-consultation questionnaire and were interviewed about their experience of receiving the sheets.
Sixty patients, median age 53 years (interquartile range 40-74) years, and 58% female, were recruited. Seventy eight per cent of patients found the sheets clear and easy to understand, 75% found them very or quite useful, 72% reported they had addressed with their general practitioner all of the preventive activities that were listed on the sheets as being due to be performed. A further 13% indicated that they had addressed most or some of the activities. 78% of patients said that they would like to keep receiving the sheets. Themes emerging from interviews with patients included: patient knowledge was enhanced; patient conceptions of health and the GP consultation were broadened; the consultation was enhanced; patient pro-activity was encouraged; patients were encouraged to plan their health care; the intervention was suitable for a variety of patients.
Most patients reported that they found the prevention summary and reminder sheets acceptable and useful. The actual increase in performance of preventive activities that may result from this new intervention needs to be tested in randomised controlled trials.
The intuitive early diagnostic guess could play an important role in reaching a final diagnosis. However, no study to date has attempted to quantify the importance of general practitioners' (GPs) ability to correctly appraise the origin of chest pain within the first minutes of an encounter.
The validation study was nested in a multicentre cohort study with a one year follow-up and included 626 successive patients who presented with chest pain and were attended by 58 GPs in Western Switzerland. The early diagnostic guess was assessed prior to a patient's history being taken by a GP and was then compared to a diagnosis of chest pain observed over the next year.
Using summary measures clustered at the GP's level, the early diagnostic guess was confirmed by further investigation in 51.0% (CI 95%; 49.4% to 52.5%) of patients presenting with chest pain. The early diagnostic guess was more accurate in patients with a life threatening illness (65.4%; CI 95% 64.5% to 66.3%) and in patients who did not feel anxious (62.9%; CI 95% 62.5% to 63.3%). The predictive abilities of an early diagnostic guess were consistent among GPs.
The GPs early diagnostic guess was correct in one out of two patients presenting with chest pain. The probability of a correct guess was higher in patients with a life-threatening illness and in patients not feeling anxious about their pain.
Do doctors really need to establish an etiological diagnosis each time a patient presents? Or might it often be more effective to treat simply on the basis of symptoms and signs alone, relying on research and on our experience of outcomes for patients who presented in similar ways in the past?
At a time of increase health care costs especially in pharmaceuticals and expensive diagnostic tests, this article uses examples from recent research to address this question. Our examples come from general practice, because that is where doctors frequently see patients presenting with a yet undifferentiated disease which is consequently difficult to diagnose. The examples include respiratory tract infections, low back pain and shoulder pain. Finally we discuss the 'something is wrong' feeling.
We conclude that, in addition to diagnostic research, a renewed focus on prognostic research is needed.
We explored experiences of depression diagnosis and treatment amongst multimorbid patients referred to a metropolitan multidisciplinary outpatient clinic to identify commonalities across this patient group.
Patients with two or more chronic conditions and a diagnosis of depression participated in semi-structured interviews that were digitally recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis was performed on the transcriptions.
Multimorbid patients attributed depressive symptoms to the loss of ‘normal’ roles and functionality and struggled to reconcile the depression diagnosis with their sense of identity. Beliefs about themselves and depression affected their receptivity to diagnosis and intervention strategies. These included prescribed interventions, such as psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy, and patient-developed strategies.
Functional and social role losses present a clear context in which GPs should raise the subject of mood, with the situational attribution of depression suggesting that psychotherapy, which is rarely offered, should be prioritised in these circumstances.
Depression; Multimorbidity; Chronic illness and disease; Patient experiences; Qualitative interviews
Chest pain is a common complaint and reason for consultation in primary care. Traditional textbooks still assign pain localization a certain discriminative role in the differential diagnosis of chest pain. The aim of our study was to synthesize pain drawings from a large sample of chest pain patients and to examine whether pain localizations differ for different underlying etiologies.
We conducted a cross-sectional study including 1212 consecutive patients with chest pain recruited in 74 primary care offices in Germany. Primary care providers (PCPs) marked pain localization and radiation of each patient on a pictogram. After 6 months, an independent interdisciplinary reference panel reviewed clinical data of every patient, deciding on the etiology of chest pain at the time of patient recruitment. PCP drawings were entered in a specially designed computer program to produce merged pain charts for different etiologies. Dissimilarities between individual pain localizations and differences on the level of diagnostic groups were analyzed using the Hausdorff distance and the C-index.
Pain location in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) did not differ from the combined group of all other patients, including patients with chest wall syndrome (CWS), gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) or psychogenic chest pain. There was also no difference in chest pain location between male and female CHD patients.
Pain localization is not helpful in discriminating CHD from other common chest pain etiologies.
Chest pain; Pain localization; Coronary heart disease
Organisational problems contribute to many errors in healthcare delivery. Our objective was to identify the most important organisational items in primary care which could be targeted by programs to improve patient safety.
A web-based survey was undertaken in an international panel of 65 experts on patient safety from 20 countries. They were asked to rate 52 patient safety items on a five-point Likert scale which regards importance of each item for use for educational interventions to improve patient safety.
The following 7 organizational items were regarded ‘extremely important’ by more than 50% of the experts: the use of sterile equipment with small surgical procedures (63%), the availability of adequate emergency drugs in stock (60%), regular cleaning of facilities (59%), the use of sterile surgical gloves when recommended (57%), the availability of at least one adequately trained staff member to deal with collapse and need for resuscitation (56%), adequate information handover when a patient is discharged from the hospital (56%) and periodically training of GPs in basic life support and other medical emergencies (53%).
Seven organisational items were consistently prioritized; other items may be relevant in specific countries only. The logical next step is to develop and evaluate interventions targeted at these items.
Patient safety; Primary care; Audit; Feedback; Prospective risk analysis
General practitioners (GPs) and patients find it difficult to talk about risk of future disease, especially when patients have asymptomatic conditions, and treatment options are unlikely to cause immediate perceptible improvements in well-being. Further studies in risk communication training are needed. Aim:1) to systematically develop, describe and evaluate a complex intervention comprising a training programme for GPs in risk communication and shared decision-making, 2) to evaluate the effect of the training programme on real-life consultations between GPs and patients with high cholesterol levels, and 3) to evaluate patients' reactions during and after the consultations.
The effect of the complex intervention, based around a training programme, will be evaluated in a cluster-randomised controlled trial with an intervention group and an active control group with 40 GPs and 280 patients in each group.
The GPs will receive a questionnaire at baseline and after 6 months about attitudes towards risk communication and cholesterol-reducing medication. After each consultation with a participating high cholesterol-patient, the GPs will complete a questionnaire about decision satisfaction (Provider Decision Process Assessment Instrument). The patients will receive a questionnaire at baseline and after 3 and 6 months. It includes questions about adherence to chosen treatment (Morisky Compliance Scale), self-rated health (SF-12), enablement (Patient Enablement Instrument), and risk communication and decision-making effectiveness (COMRADE Scale). Prescriptions, contacts to the health services, and cholesterol level will be drawn from the registers.
In each group, 12 consultations will be observed and tape-recorded. The patients from these 24 consultations will be interviewed immediately after the consultation and re-interviewed after 6 months.
Eight purposefully selected GPs from the intervention group will be interviewed in a focus group 6 months after participation in the training programme.
The process and context of the RISAP-study will be investigated in detail using an action research approach, in order to analyse adaptation of the intervention model to the specific context.
This study aims at providing GPs and patients with a firm basis for active deliberation about preventive treatment options, with a view to optimising adherence to chosen treatment.
ClinicalTrials.gov Protocol Registration System NCT01187056
Computerized morbidity registration networks might serve as early warning systems in a time where natural epidemics such as the H1N1 flu can easily spread from one region to another.
In this contribution we examine whether general practice based broad-spectrum computerized morbidity registration networks have the potential to act as a valid surveillance instrument of frequently occurring diseases. We compare general practice based computerized data assessing the frequency of influenza-like illness (ILI) and acute respiratory infections (ARI) with data from a well established case-specific sentinel network, the European Influenza Surveillance Scheme (EISS). The overall frequency and trends of weekly ILI and ARI data are compared using both networks.
Detection of influenza-like illness and acute respiratory illness occurs equally fast in EISS and the computerized network. The overall frequency data for ARI are the same for both networks, the overall trends are similar, but the increases and decreases in frequency do not occur in exactly the same weeks. For ILI, the overall rate was slightly higher for the computerized network population, especially before the increase of ILI, the overall trend was almost identical and the increases and decreases occur in the same weeks for both networks.
Computerized morbidity registration networks are a valid tool for monitoring frequent occurring respiratory diseases and the detection of sudden outbreaks.
Next to other GP characteristics, diagnostic labelling (the proportion of acute respiratory tract (RT) episodes to be labelled as infections) probably contributes to a higher volume of antibiotic prescriptions for acute RT episodes. However, it is unknown whether there is an independent association between diagnostic labelling and the volume of prescribed antibiotics, or whether diagnostic labelling is associated with the number of presented acute RT episodes and consequently with the number of antibiotics prescribed per patient per year.
Data were used from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2) with 163 GPs from 85 Dutch practices, serving a population of 359,625 patients. Data over a 12 month period were analysed by means of multiple linear regression analysis. Main outcome measure was the volume of antibiotic prescriptions for acute RT episodes per 1,000 patients.
The incidence was 236.9 acute RT episodes/1,000 patients. GPs labelled about 70% of acute RT episodes as infections, and antibiotics were prescribed in 41% of all acute RT episodes. A higher incidence of acute RT episodes (beta 0.67), a stronger inclination to label episodes as infections (beta 0.24), a stronger endorsement of the need of antibiotics in case of white spots in the throat (beta 0.11) and being male (beta 0.11) were independent determinants of the prescribed volume of antibiotics for acute RT episodes, whereas diagnostic labelling was not correlated with the incidence of acute RT episodes.
Diagnostic labelling is a relevant factor in GPs' antibiotic prescribing independent from the incidence of acute RT episodes. Therefore, quality assurance programs and postgraduate courses should emphasise to use evidence based prognostic criteria (e.g. chronic respiratory co-morbidity and old age) as an indication to prescribe antibiotics in stead of single inflammation signs or diagnostic labels.
The speed of diagnosis impacts on prognosis and survival in all types of cancer. In most cases survival and prognosis are significantly worse in rural and remote Australian populations who have less access to diagnostic and therapeutic services than metropolitan communities in this country. Research suggests that in general delays in diagnosis were a factor of misdiagnosis, the confounding effect of existing conditions and delayed or misleading investigation of symptoms. The aim of this study is to further explore the factors that impact on the speed of diagnosis in rural Western Australia with direct reference to General Practitioners (GPs) working in this setting.
The methodology consisted of a structured discussion of specific cases. GPs based in two rural locations in Western Australia were asked to identify up to eight clinical cases for discussion. A diversity of cases was requested encompassing those with timely and delayed diagnosis of cancer. Focus groups were held with the practitioners to identify which factors under six headings delayed or facilitated the diagnosis in each case. A structured summary of the discussion was relayed to a wider group of GPs to seek additional views or comments on specific factors that impact on the speed of cancer diagnosis in rural and remote locations in Australia.
A number of factors affecting the speed of diagnosis were identified: the demographic shift towards a frailer and older population, presenting with multiple and complex diseases, increases the challenge to identify early cancer symptoms; seasonal and demanding work patterns leading to procrastination in presenting for medical care; unhelpful scheduling of specialist appointments; and the varying impact of informal networks and social relationships.
Within the limitations of this study we have generated a number of hypotheses that require formal evaluation: (1) GPs working within informal professional and social networks are better informed about their patients' health needs and have an advantage in making early diagnosis; (2) Despite the other differences in the population characteristics decentralising services would improve the prospect for timely diagnosis; and (3) Careful coordination of specialist appointments would improve the speed of diagnosis for rural patients.
Missed appointments are a common occurrence in primary care in the UK, yet little is known about the reasons for them, or the consequences of missing an appointment. This paper aims to determine the reasons for missed appointments and whether patients who miss an appointment subsequently consult their general practitioner (GP). Secondary aims are to compare psychological morbidity, and the previous appointments with GPs between subjects and a comparison group.
Postal questionnaire survey and prospective medical notes review of adult patients missing an appointment and the comparison group who attended appointments over a three week period in seven general practices in West Yorkshire.
Of the 386 who missed appointments 122 (32%) responded. Of the 386 in the comparison group 223 (58%) responded, resulting in 23 case-control matched pairs with complete data collection. Over 40% of individuals who missed an appointment and participated said that they forgot the appointment and a quarter said that they tried very hard to cancel the appointment or that it was at an inconvenient time. A fifth reported family commitments or being too ill to attend. Over 90% of the patients who missed an appointment subsequently consulted within three months and of these nearly 60% consulted for the stated problem that was going to be presented in the missed consultation. The odds of missing an appointment decreased with increasing age and were greater among those who had missed at least one appointment in the previous 12 months. However, estimates for comparisons between those who missed appointments and the comparison group were imprecise due to the low response rate.
Patients who miss appointments tend to cite practice factors and their own forgetfulness as the main reasons for doing so, and most attend within three months of a missed appointment. This study highlights a number of implications for future research. More work needs to be done to engage people who miss appointments into research in a meaningful way.
Medical and technological progress has led to increased numbers of diagnostic tests, some of them inducing high financial costs. In Germany, high-cost diagnostic imaging is performed by a medical specialist after referral by a general practitioner (GP) or specialist in primary care. The aim of this study was to evaluate the physicians' perceived usefulness of high-cost diagnostic imaging in patients with different clinical conditions.
Thirty-four GPs, one neurologist and one orthopaedic specialist in ambulatory care from a Medical Quality Network documented 234 referrals concerning 97 MRIs, 96 CTs-scan and 41 intracardiac catheters in a three month period. After having received the test results, they indicated if these were useful for diagnosis and treatment of the patient.
The physicians' perceived usefulness of tests was lowest in suspected cerebral disease (40% of test results were seen as useful), cervical spine problems (64%) and unexplained abdominal complaints (67%). The perceived usefulness was highest in musculoskeletal symptoms (94%) and second best in cardiological diseases (82%).
The perceived usefulness of high-cost diagnostic imaging was lower in unexplained complaints than in specific diseases. Interventions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of test ordering should focus on clinical decision making in conditions where GPs perceived low usefulness.
Research in General Practice requires the participation of General practitioners (GPs). In Germany there is little tradition of research in this field, and GPs are not used to be participants in research. Little is known about German GPs attitudes towards research. Therefore the aim of our study was to assess the willingness of German General Practitioners to participate in primary care research and their attitude towards research in general practice. The results should enable a more successful approach to GPs in further studies.
Cross sectional study using semi-structured interviews with a random sample of 76 General Practitioners who participate in the teaching of medical students at the University of Heidelberg.
Despite little experience, over 85 % of GPs appreciated research in their field. Important reasons for scepticism about research were the gap between theoretical research and practical work of GPs and the domination of research by specialists. Main barriers for participation are clinical workload, administrative overload and the newly introduced Disease Management Programs. The highest motivation for GPs to participate in research emanates from the will to substantiate their quality of care with solid research data.
Financial incentives and personal support e.g. with study nurses are certainly necessary to establish a research culture and to overcome main barriers against participation. The most successful approach to motivate GPs to participate is to convince them that research documents their quality of care. This data may reflect the facts on which the financial resources are provided in the future health care system.
Family physicians (FPs) play an important role in cancer control. While FPs' attitudes towards, and use of guidelines in general have been explored, no study has looked at the needs of FPs with respect to guidelines for the continuum of cancer control. The objective of this study was to understand which guideline topics FPs consider important.
Five group interviews were conducted by telephone with FPs from across Ontario, Canada. Transcripts were analyzed inductively. Content analysis identified emergent themes. Themes are illustrated by representative quotes taken from the transcripts.
The main areas where FPs felt guidelines were needed most included screening – a traditional area of responsibility for FPs – and treatment and follow-up – areas where they felt they lacked the knowledge to best support patients. Confusion over best practice when faced with conflicting guidelines varied according to disease site. FPs defined good guideline formats; the most often cited forms of presentation were tear-off sheets to use interactively with patients, or a binder. Computer-based dissemination was acknowledged as the best way of widely distributing material that needs frequent updates. However, until computer use is a common aspect of practice, mail was considered the most viable method of dissemination. Guidelines designed for use by patients were supported by FPs.
Preferred guideline topics, format, dissemination methods and role of patient guidelines identified by FPs in this study reflect the nature of their practice situations. Guideline developers and those supporting use of evidence-based guidelines (e.g., Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control) have a responsibility to ensure that FPs are provided with the resources they identify as important, and to provide them in a format that will best support their use.