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1.  Nurse-led telecoaching of people with type 2 diabetes in primary care: rationale, design and baseline data of a randomized controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:24.
Background
Despite the efforts of the healthcare community to improve the quality of diabetes care, about 50% of people with type 2 diabetes do not reach their treatment targets, increasing the risk of future micro-and macro-vascular complications. Diabetes self-management education has been shown to contribute to better disease control. However, it is not known which strategies involving educational programs are cost-effective. Telehealth applications might support chronic disease management. Transferability of successful distant patient self-management support programs to the Belgian setting needs to be confirmed by studies of a high methodological quality. “The COACH Program” was developed in Australia as target driven educational telephone delivered intervention to support people with different chronic conditions. It proved to be effective in patients with coronary heart disease after hospitalization. Clinical and cost-effectiveness of The COACH Program in people with type 2 diabetes in Belgium needs to be assessed.
Methods/Design
Randomized controlled trial in patients with type 2 diabetes. Patients were selected based on their medication consumption data and were recruited by their sickness fund. They were randomized to receive either usual care plus “The COACH Program” or usual care alone. The study will assess the difference in outcomes between groups. The primary outcome measure is the level of HbA1c. The secondary outcomes are: Total Cholesterol, LDL-Cholesterol, HDL-Cholesterol, Triglycerides, Blood Pressure, body mass index, smoking status; proportion of people at target for HbA1c, LDL-Cholesterol and Blood Pressure; self-perceived health status, diabetes-specific emotional distress and satisfaction with diabetes care. The follow-up period is 18 months. Within-trial and modeled cost-utility analyses, to project effects over life-time horizon beyond the trial duration, will be undertaken from the perspective of the health care system if the intervention is effective.
Discussion
The study will enhance our understanding of the potential of telehealth in diabetes management in Belgium. Research on the clinical effectiveness and the cost-effectiveness is essential to support policy makers in future reimbursement and implementation decisions.
Trial registration
Belgian number: B322201213625. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01612520
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-24
PMCID: PMC3922086  PMID: 24495633
Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Telenursing; RCT; Economic analysis
2.  Incident somatic comorbidity after psychosis: results from a retrospective cohort study based on Flemish general practice data 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:132.
Background
Psychotic conditions and especially schizophrenia, have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Many studies are performed in specialized settings with a strong focus on schizophrenia. Somatic comorbidity after psychosis is studied, using a general practice comorbidity registration network.
Methods
Hazard ratios are presented resulting from frailty models to assess the risk of subsequent somatic disease after a diagnosis of psychosis compared to people without psychosis matched on practice, age and gender. Diseases studied are cancer, physical trauma, diabetes mellitus, gastrointestinal disorders, joint disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, general infections, metabolic disorders other than diabetes, hearing and vision problems, anemia, cardiovascular disease, alcohol abuse, lung disorders, mouth and teeth problems, sexually transmitted diseases.
Results
Significant higher risks after a diagnosis of psychosis were found for the emergence of diabetes, physical trauma, gastrointestinal disorders, alcohol abuse, chronic lung disease and teeth and mouth problems. With regard to diabetes, by including the type of antipsychotic medication it is clear that the significant overall effect was largely due to the use of atypical antipsychotic medication. No significant higher risk was seen for cancer, joint conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, general infections, other metabolic conditions, hearing/vision problems, anaemia, cardiovascular disease or diabetes, in case no atypical antipsychotic medication was used.
Conclusion
Significantly higher morbidity rates for some somatic conditions in patients with psychosis are apparent. People with a diagnosis of psychosis benefit from regular assessments for the emergence of somatic disorders and risk factors, including diabetes in case of atypical antipsychotic medication.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-132
PMCID: PMC3248871  PMID: 22126584
3.  Incidence and outcome of first syncope in primary care: A retrospective cohort study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:102.
Background
Assessment of risk for serious cardiovascular outcome after syncope is difficult.
Objectives
To determine the incidence of first syncope in primary care. To investigate the relation between syncope and serious cardiovascular (CV) outcome and serious injury.
Methods
Retrospective cohort study using data from the Intego general practice-based registration network, collecting data from 55 general practices (90 GP's). All patients with a first syncope from 1994 to 2008 were included; five participants without syncope were matched for age and gender for every patient with syncope. The main outcome measures were incidence of first syncope by age and gender and one year risk of serious CV outcome or injury after syncope.
Results
2785 patients with syncope and 13909 matched patients without syncope were included. The overall incidence of a first syncope was 1.91 per 1000 person-years (95% CI 1.83-1.98). The incidence was higher in females (2.42 (95% CI 2.32-2.55) per 1000 person-years) compared to males (1.4 (95% CI 1.32-1.49) per 1000 person-years) and follows a biphasic pattern according to age: a first peak at the age of 15-24 years is followed by a sharp rise above the age of 45. One year serious outcome after syncope was recorded in 12.3% of patients. Increasing age (HR 1.04 (1.03-1.04)), CV comorbidity (HR 3.48 (95% CI 2.48-4.90) and CV risk factors (HR 1.65 (95% CI 1.24-2.18) are associated with serious outcome. Cox regression, adjusting for age, gender, CV comorbidity and risk factors, showed that syncope was an independent risk factor for serious CV outcome or injury (HR 3.99 (95% CI 3.44-4.63)). The other independent risk factors were CV comorbidity (HR 1.81 (95% CI 1.51-2.17)) and age (HR 1.03 (95% CI 1.03-1.04)).
Conclusions
Incidence rate of first syncope in primary care was 1.91 per 1000 person-years. One year risk of serious outcome after syncope was 12.3%. Increasing age, CV comorbidity and risk factors are associated with serious outcome. Compared to a control group, syncope on itself is an independent risk factor for serious outcome (adjusted for age, gender, CV comorbidity and risk factors).
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-102
PMCID: PMC3191330  PMID: 21951825
Syncope; risk assessment; primary health care
4.  Computerized general practice based networks yield comparable performance with sentinel data in monitoring epidemiological time-course of influenza-like illness and acute respiratory illness 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:24.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
Computerized morbidity registration networks are a valid tool for monitoring frequent occurring respiratory diseases and the detection of sudden outbreaks.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-24
PMCID: PMC2856540  PMID: 20307266
5.  The attitude of Belgian social insurance physicians towards evidence-based practice and clinical practice guidelines 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:64.
Background
Evidence-based medicine has broadened its scope and is starting to reach insurance medicine. Although still in its initial stages, physicians in the area of insurance medicine should keep up-to-date with the evidence on various diseases in order to correctly assess disability and to give appropriate advice about health care reimbursement. In order to explore future opportunities of evidence-based medicine to improve daily insurance medicine, there is a need for qualitative studies to better understand insurance physicians' perceptions of EBM. The present study was designed to identify the attitude of insurance physicians towards evidence-based medicine and clinical practice guidelines, and to determine their ability to access, retrieve and appraise the health evidence and the barriers for applying evidence to practice.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey study was carried out among all Dutch-speaking insurance physicians employed at one of the six Belgian social insurance sickness funds and at the National Institute of Disability and Health care Insurance (n = 224). Chi-square tests were used to compare nominal and ordinal variables. Student's t-tests, ANOVA, Mann-Whitney and Kruskal-Wallis were used to compare means of continuous variables for different groups.
Results
The response rate was 48.7%. The majority of respondents were positive towards evidence-based medicine and clinical practice guidelines. Their knowledge of EBM was rather poor. Perceived barriers for applying evidence to practice were mainly time and lack of EBM skills.
Conclusion
Although the majority of physicians were positive towards EBM and welcomed more guidelines, the use of evidence and clinical practice guidelines in insurance medicine is low at present. It is in the first place important to eradicate the perceived inertia which limits the use of EBM and to further investigate the EBM principles in the context of insurance medicine. Available high-quality evidence-based resources (at the moment mainly originating from other medical fields) need to be structured in a way that is useful for insurance physicians and global access to this information needs to be ensured.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-64
PMCID: PMC2745368  PMID: 19740436
6.  GPs' reasons for referral of patients with chest pain: a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:55.
Background
Prompt diagnosis of an acute coronary syndrome is very important and urgent referral to a hospital is imperative because fast treatment can be life-saving and increase the patient's life expectancy and quality of life. The aim of our study was to identify GPs' reasons for referring or not referring patients presenting with chest pain.
Methods
In a semi-structured interview, 21 GPs were asked to describe why they do or do not refer a patient presenting with chest pain. Interviews were taped, transcribed and qualitatively analysed.
Results
Histories of 21 patients were studied. Six were not referred, seven were referred to a cardiologist and eight to the emergency department. GPs' reasons for referral were background knowledge about the patient, patient's age and cost-benefit estimation, the perception of a negative attitude from the medical rescue team, recent patient contact with a cardiologist without detection of a coronary disease and the actual presentation of signs and symptoms, gut feeling, clinical examination and ECG results.
Conclusion
This study suggests that GPs believe they do not exclusively use the 'classical' signs and symptoms in their decision-making process for patients presenting with chest pain. Background knowledge about the patient, GPs' personal ideas and gut feeling are also important.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-55
PMCID: PMC2731044  PMID: 19646225
7.  Serious infections in children: an incidence study in family practice 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:23.
Background
Information on the incidence of serious infections in children in general practice is scarce. However, estimates on the incidence of disease are important for several reasons, for example to assess the burden of disease or as a basis of diagnostic research. We therefore estimated the incidence of serious infections in general practice in Belgium.
Methods
Intego is a morbidity registration network, in which 51 general practitioners continuously register all diagnoses and additional data in their electronic medical records. Serious infections were defined as pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, pyelonephritis and osteomyelitis. Incidences are calculated for the period of 1998 to 2002, per 1000 patients in the yearly contact group, which is the group of patients that consulted their GP at least once that year, and in the practice population, which is the estimated true population of that practice.
Results
The incidence of all infectious diseases peaks in children between 0 and 4 years, with 1731 infections per 1000 children per year in the yearly contact group. Incidence drops with increasing age: 972 infections per 1000 children per year in children between 5 and 9 years old, and 732 in children between 10 and 14 years old. The same decline in incidence is observed in the subgroup of serious infections: 21 infections per 1000 children per year in children between 0 and 4 years, 12 in children between 5 and 9 years and 5 in children between 10 and 14 years. The results for the estimated practice population are respectively 17, 9 and 4 serious infections per 1000 children per year.
Conclusion
In contrast to the total incidence of acute infections, serious infections are rare, around 1% per year. Children younger than 4 years old have the highest risk for serious infections, and incidences of some infections are different for boys and girls.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-7-23
PMCID: PMC1435901  PMID: 16569232
8.  Implementing evidence-based medicine in general practice: a focus group based study 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:37.
Background
Over the past years concerns are rising about the use of Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) in health care. The calls for an increase in the practice of EBM, seem to be obstructed by many barriers preventing the implementation of evidence-based thinking and acting in general practice. This study aims to explore the barriers of Flemish GPs (General Practitioners) to the implementation of EBM in routine clinical work and to identify possible strategies for integrating EBM in daily work.
Methods
We used a qualitative research strategy to gather and analyse data. We organised focus groups between September 2002 and April 2003. The focus group data were analysed using a combined strategy of 'between-case' analysis and 'grounded theory approach'. Thirty-one general practitioners participated in four focus groups. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit participants.
Results
A basic classification model documents the influencing factors and actors on a micro-, meso- as well as macro-level. Patients, colleagues, competences, logistics and time were identified on the micro-level (the GPs' individual practice), commercial and consumer organisations on the meso-level (institutions, organisations) and health care policy, media and specific characteristics of evidence on the macro-level (policy level and international scientific community). Existing barriers and possible strategies to overcome these barriers were described.
Conclusion
In order to implement EBM in routine general practice, an integrated approach on different levels needs to be developed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-37
PMCID: PMC1253510  PMID: 16153300
9.  Signs and symptoms in children with a serious infection: a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:36.
Background
Early diagnosis of serious infections in children is difficult in general practice, as incidence is low, patients present themselves at an early stage of the disease and diagnostic tools are limited to signs and symptoms from observation, clinical history and physical examination. Little is known which signs and symptoms are important in general practice. With this qualitative study, we aimed to identify possible new important diagnostic variables.
Methods
Semi-structured interviews with parents and physicians of children with a serious infection. We investigated all signs and symptoms that were related to or preceded the diagnosis. The analysis was done according to the grounded theory approach. Participants were recruited in general practice and at the hospital.
Results
18 children who were hospitalised because of a serious infection were included. On average, parents and paediatricians were interviewed 3 days after admittance of the child to hospital, general practitioners between 5 and 8 days after the initial contact.
The most prominent diagnostic signs in seriously ill children were changed behaviour, crying characteristics and the parents' opinion. Children either behaved drowsy or irritable and cried differently, either moaning or an inconsolable, loud crying. The parents found this illness different from previous illnesses, because of the seriousness or duration of the symptoms, or the occurrence of a critical incident. Classical signs, like high fever, petechiae or abnormalities at auscultation were helpful for the diagnosis when they were present, but not helpful when they were absent.
Conclusion
behavioural signs and symptoms were very prominent in children with a serious infection. They will be further assessed for diagnostic accuracy in a subsequent, quantitative diagnostic study.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-36
PMCID: PMC1215482  PMID: 16124874

Results 1-9 (9)