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1.  Implementing cardiometabolic health checks in general practice: a qualitative process evaluation 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:132.
A stepwise screening approach for the detection and management of cardiometabolic disease is proposed in various primary care guidelines. The aim of this study was to explore the implementation of a cardiometabolic health check as perceived by the involved caregivers and patients.
Qualitative process evaluation of the implementation of a cardiometabolic screening programme in a multidisciplinary primary healthcare centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in which 1270 patients had participated. We explored the caregivers’ experiences though focus group discussions and collected patients’ experiences through a written questionnaire containing two open-ended questions. We analyzed our data using a thematic content analysis based on grounded theory principles.
Five general practitioners, three practice nurses and five medical receptionists participated in the focus groups. Additionally we collected experiences of 657 (52% of 1270) participating patients through an open-ended questionnaire.
GPs were enthusiastic about offering a health check and preferred systematic screening over case-finding, both in terms of yield and workload. The level of patient participation was high and most participants were enthusiastic about the health check being offered by their GP. Despite their enthusiasm, the GPs realized that they lacked experience in the design and implementation of a structured, large-scale prevention programme. This resulted in suboptimal instruction of the involved practice nurses and medical receptionists. The recruitment strategy was unnecessarily aggressive. There were shortcomings in communicating the outcomes of the health check to the patients and there was no predefined follow-up programme. Based on our findings we developed a checklist that can be used by designers of similar health checks.
A number of fundamental issues may arise when GPs organize a systematic screening programme in their practice. These issues are related to the preparation of the involved staff, the importance of integration with everyday clinical practice, the approach of healthy patients and the provision of adequate follow-up programmes. The identified challenges and recommendations can be taken into account during future screening programmes.
PMCID: PMC4097043  PMID: 24998671
Primary health care; General practice; Cardiovascular disease; Diabetes; Kidney disease; Mass screening
2.  Ultrasound-diagnosed disorders in shoulder patients in daily general practice: a retrospective observational study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:115.
Ultrasound imaging (US) is considered an accurate and widely available method to diagnose subacromial disorders. Yet, the frequency of the specific US-diagnosed shoulder disorders of patients with shoulder pain referred from general practice is unknown. We set out to determine the frequency of specific US-diagnosed shoulder disorders in daily practice in these patients and to investigate if the disorders detected differ between specific subgroups based on age and duration of pain.
A predefined selection of 240 ultrasound reports of patients with shoulder pain (20 reports for each month in 2011) from a general hospital (Orbis Medical Centre Sittard-Geleen, The Netherlands) were descriptively analysed. Inclusion criteria were: (i) referral from general practice, (ii) age ≥18 years, and (iii) unilateral shoulder examination. Subgroups were created for age (<65 years and ≥65 years) and duration of pain (acute or subacute (<12 weeks) and chronic (≥12 weeks)). The occurrence of each specific disorder is expressed as absolute and relative frequencies.
With 29%, calcific tendonitis was the most frequently diagnosed disorder, followed by subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis (12%), tendinopathy (11%), partial-thickness tears (11%), full-thickness tears (8%) and AC-osteoarthritis (0.4%). For 40% of patients, no disorders were found on US. Significantly more full thickness-tears were found in the ≥65 years group. ‘No disorders’ was reported significantly more often in the <65 years group. The supraspinatus tendon was the most frequently affected tendon (72%).
Calcific tendonitis is the most common US-diagnosed disorder affecting patients in general practice, followed by subacromial-subdeltoid bursitis, tendinopathy, partial- and full-thickness tears and AC-osteoarthritis. Full-thickness tears were diagnosed significantly more frequently in patients ≥65 years, while ‘no disorders’ was more frequently reported in patients <65 years. Our findings imply that patients can be stratified into diagnostic subgroups, allowing more tailored treatment than currently applied.
PMCID: PMC4057656  PMID: 24916105
Shoulder; Shoulder impingement syndrome; Rotator cuff; Ultrasound; General practice
3.  What challenges hamper Kenyan family physicians in pursuing their family medicine mandate? A qualitative study among family physicians and their colleagues 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:32.
Since 2005, Kenyan medical universities have been training general practitioners, providing them with clinical, management, teaching and research skills, in order to enhance access to and quality of health care services for the Kenyan population. This study assesses what expectations family physicians, colleagues of family physicians and policy makers have of family medicine, what expectations family physicians live up to and which challenges they face.
Family physicians were observed and interviewed about their expectations and challenges concerning family medicine. Expectations among their colleagues were assessed through focus group discussions. Policy makers’ expectations were assessed by analysing the governmental policy on family medicine and a university’s curriculum.
Roles perceived for and performed by family physicians included providing comprehensive care, health care management, teaching, and to a lesser extent community outreach and performing research. Challenges faced by family physicians were being posted in situations where they are regarded as just another type of specialist, lack of awareness of the roles of family physicians among colleagues, lack of time, lack of funds and inadequate training.
The ministry’s posting policy has to be improved to ensure that family physicians have a chance to perform their intended roles. Creating an environment in which family physicians can function best requires more effort to enlighten other players in the health care system, like colleagues and policy makers, about the roles of family physicians.
PMCID: PMC3418556  PMID: 22536801
4.  How do people respond to self-test results? A cross-sectional survey 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:77.
Self-tests, tests on medical conditions that can be performed by consumers without consulting a doctor first, are frequently used. Nevertheless, there are concerns about the safety of self-testing, as it may delay diagnosis and appropriate treatment in the case of inappropriate use of the test, or false-negative results. It is unclear whether self-tests stimulate appropriate follow-up behaviour. Our aim was to examine the frequency of self-test use, consumers' response to self-test results in terms of their confidence in the result, reassurance by the test result, and follow-up behaviour.
A two step cross-sectional survey was designed. A random sample of 6700 Internet users in an existing Internet panel received an online questionnaire on the use of self-tests. Self-tests were defined as tests on body materials, initiated by consumers with the aim to diagnose a disease or risk factor. A second questionnaire on consumers' response to self-test results was sent to the respondents that were identified as a self-tester in the first questionnaire (n = 703).
18.1% (799/4416) of the respondents had ever performed a self-test, the most frequently used tests being those for diabetes (5.3%), kidney disease (4.9%), cholesterol (4.5%), urinary tract infection (1.9%) and HIV/AIDS and Chlamydia (both 1.6%). A total of 78.1% of the testers with a normal test result and 81.4% of those with an abnormal result reported confidence in this result. Almost all (95.6%) of the testers with a normal result felt reassured. After a normal result, 78.1% did not take any further action and 5.8% consulted a doctor. The corresponding figures after an abnormal test result were 9.3% and 72.2%, respectively.
Respondents who had performed a self-test seemed to base their follow-up behaviour on the result of the test. They had confidence in the test result, and were often reassured by a normal result. After an abnormal result, most self-testers sought medical care. Because consumers seem to trust the self-test results, further research should focus on the development of consumer information addressing indications for performing a self-test, the validity of self-tests and appropriate interpretation of and management after a test.
PMCID: PMC2964597  PMID: 20942917
5.  Doctor-patient communication with people with intellectual disability - a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:82.
People with intellectual disability (ID) expressed dissatisfaction with doctor-patient communication and mentioned certain preferences for this communication (our research). Since many people with ID in the Netherlands have recently moved from residential care facilities to supported accommodations in the community, medical care for them was transferred from ID physicians (IDPs) to general practitioners (GPs) in the vicinity of the new accommodation. We addressed the following research question: 'What are the similarities and differences between the communication preferences of people with ID and the professional criteria for doctor-patient communication by GPs?'
A focus group meeting and interviews were used to identify the preferences of 12 persons with ID for good communication with their GP; these were compared with communication criteria used to assess trainee GPs, as described in the MAAS-Global manual.
Eight preferences for doctor-patient communication were formulated by the people with ID. Six of them matched the criteria used for GPs. Improvements are required as regards the time available for consultation, demonstrating physical examinations before applying them and triadic communication.
People with ID hold strong views on communication with their doctors during consultations. GPs, people with ID and their support workers can further fine-tune their communication skills.
PMCID: PMC2806856  PMID: 20017938
6.  Improving management of patients with acute cough by C-reactive protein point of care testing and communication training (IMPAC3T): study protocol of a cluster randomised controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:15.
Most antibiotic prescriptions for acute cough due to lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in primary care are not warranted. Diagnostic uncertainty and patient expectations and worries are major drivers of unnecessary antibiotic prescribing. A C-reactive protein (CRP) point of care test may help GPs to better guide antibiotic treatment by ruling out pneumonia in cases of low test results. Alternatively, enhanced communication skills training to help clinicians address patients' expectations and worries could lead to a decrease in antibiotic prescribing, without compromising clinical recovery, while enhancing patient enablement. The aim of this paper is to describe the design and methods of a study to assess two interventions for improving LRTI management in general practice.
This cluster randomised controlled, factorial trial will introduce two interventions in general practice; point of care CRP testing and enhanced communication skills training for LRTI. Twenty general practices with two participating GPs per practice will recruit 400 patients with LRTI during two winter periods. Patients will be followed up for at least 28 days. The primary outcome measure is the antibiotic prescribing rate. Secondary outcomes are clinical recovery, cost-effectiveness, use of other diagnostic tests and medical services (including reconsultation), and patient enablement.
This trial is the first cluster randomised trial to evaluate the influence of point of care CRP testing in the hands of the general practitioner and enhanced communication skills, on the management of LRTI in primary care. The pragmatic nature of the study, which leaves treatment decisions up to the responsible clinicians, will enhance the applicability and generalisability of findings. The factorial design will allow conclusion to be made about the value of CRP testing on its own, communication skills training on its own, and the two combined. Evaluating a biomedical and communication based intervention ('hard' and 'soft' technologies) together in this way makes this trial unique in its field.
PMCID: PMC1847819  PMID: 17394651
7.  General practitioners apply the usual care for shoulder complaints better than expected – analysis of videotaped consultations 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:13.
The education and activation program (EAP) is a newly developed intervention to prevent the development of chronic shoulder complaints (SCs). Trained general practitioners (GPs) administer the EAP. The EAP addresses inadequate cognitions and maladaptive behavior related to the SCs. The effect of the EAP is evaluated in a randomized clinical trial.
The aim of the present study is to use videotaped consultations to study (1) the performance of trained GPs administering the EAP and (2) the presence of key features of the EAP already embedded in usual care (UC).
Five trained GPs were videotaped while treating a standardized patient with EAP. Additionally, five GPs administering UC were videotaped. Two blinded observers evaluated the videotapes in relation to key features of the EAP which were scored on the EAP checklist.
The mean total score on the EAP checklist was 4.7 (SD = 2.9) for the UC group and 7.1 (SD = 2.1) for the EAP group. Neither group reached a score higher than 8, which was considered to reflect an acceptable number of key EAP features.
Our comparison of the presence of key features of EAP shows that the UC and EAP groups differed less than was expected. GPs in the UC group performed above expectation, with a mean total score of 4.7. Moreover, the low number of key features present in the EAP group may very well have led to a reduced effectiveness of the EAP. The results of this study can be used to optimize the training of GPs using the EAP.
PMCID: PMC1851963  PMID: 17394636
8.  Why do patients want to have their blood tested? A qualitative study of patient expectations in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:75.
General practitioners often take their impression of patients' expectations into account in their decision to have blood tests done. It is commonly recommended to involve patients in decision-making during consultations. The study aimed to obtain detailed information on patients' expectations about blood tests.
Qualitative study among patients in waiting rooms of general practices. Each patient was presented with a short questionnaire about their preferences in terms of diagnostics. Patients who would like blood tests to be done were interviewed.
Fifty-seven (26%) of the 224 respondents wanted blood tests. Twenty-two were interviewed. Patients overestimated the qualities of blood tests. Favourable test results were regarded as proof of good health. Patients regarded blood tests as a useful instrument to screen for serious disorders, and were confirmed in this belief by people in their social environment and by the media. Many patients expected their GP to take an active test ordering approach, though some indicated that they might be convinced if their GP proposed a wait-and-see policy.
GPs' perceptions about patient expectations seem justified: patients appear to have high hopes for testing as a diagnostic tool. They expect diagnostic certainty without mistakes and a proof of good health. The question is whether it would be desirable to remove patients' misconceptions, allowing them to participate in policy decisions on the basis of sound information, or whether it would be better to leave the misconceptions uncontested, in order to retain the 'magic' of additional tests and reassure patients. We expect that clarifying the precise nature of patients' expectations by the GP may be helpful in creating a diagnostic strategy that satisfies both patients and GPs. GPs will have to balance the benefits of reassuring their patients by means of blood tests which may be unnecessary against the benefits of avoiding unnecessary tests. Further research is needed into the effects of different types of patient information and the effects of testing on satisfaction and anxiety.
PMCID: PMC1769380  PMID: 17166263
9.  The added value of C-reactive protein to clinical signs and symptoms in patients with obstructive airway disease: results of a diagnostic study in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:28.
To evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of clinical signs and symptoms, C-reactive protein (CRP) and spirometric parameters and determine their interrelation in patients suspected to have an obstructive airway disease (OAD) in primary care.
In a cross sectional diagnostic study, 60 adult patients coming to the general practitioner (GP) for the first-time with complaints suspicious for obstructive airway disease (OAD) underwent spirometry. Peak expiratory flow (PEF)-variability within two weeks was determined in patients with inconspicuous spirometry. Structured medical histories were documented and CRP was measured. The reference standard was the Tiffeneau ratio (FEV1/VC) in spirometry and the PEF-variability. OAD was diagnosed when FEV1/VC ≤ 70% or PEF-variability > 20%.
37 (62%) patients had OAD. The best cut-off value for CRP was found at 2 mg/l with a diagnostic odds ratio (OR) of 4.4 (95% CI 1.4–13.8). Self-reported wheezing was significantly related with OAD (OR 3.4; CI 1.1–10.3), whereas coughing was inversely related (OR 0.2; CI 0.1–0.7). The diagnostic OR of CRP increased when combined with dyspnea (OR 8.5; 95% CI 1.7–42.3) or smoking history (OR 8.4; 95% CI 1.5–48.9). CRP (p = 0.004), FEV1 (p = 0.001) and FIV1 (p = 0.023) were related with the severity of dyspnea. CRP increased with the number of cigarettes, expressed in pack years (p = 0.001).
The diagnostic accuracy of clinical signs and symptoms was low. The diagnostic accuracy of CRP improved in combination with dyspnea and smoking history. Due to their coherence with the severity of dyspnea and number of cigarettes respectively, CRP and spirometry might allow risk stratification of patients with OAD in primary care. Further studies need to be done to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC1479349  PMID: 16670014
10.  Blood test ordering for unexplained complaints in general practice: the VAMPIRE randomised clinical trial protocol. [ISRCTN55755886] 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:20.
General practitioners (GPs) frequently order blood tests when they see patients presenting with unexplained complaints. Due to the low prevalence of serious pathology in general practice, the risk of false-positive test results is relatively high. This may result in unnecessary further testing, leading to unfavourable effects such as patient anxiety, high costs, somatisation and morbidity. A policy of watchful waiting is expected to lower both the number of patients to be tested and the risk of false-positive test results, without missing serious pathology. However, many general practitioners experience barriers when trying to postpone blood testing by watchful waiting. The objectives of this study are (1) to determine the accuracy of blood tests in patients presenting with unexplained complaints in terms of detecting pathology, (2) to determine the accuracy of a watchful waiting strategy and (3) to determine the effects of a quality improvement strategy to promote the postponement of blood test ordering by GPs for patients with unexplained complaints.
General practices are randomised over three groups. Group 1 is instructed to order blood tests immediately, group 2 to apply a watchful waiting policy and group 3 also to postpone testing, but supported by our quality improvement strategy. The trial consists of two sub-studies: a diagnostic study at patient level (group 1 versus groups 2 and 3) and a quality improvement study at GP level (group 2 versus group 3). The diagnostic strategy to be used involves of both customary and innovative tests. The quality improvement strategy consists of two small-group meetings and a practice outreach visit. Patient follow-up ends at 12 months after the initial consultation. Primary outcome measures are the accuracy and added value of blood tests for detecting pathology, the effect of a 4-week postponement of test ordering on the blood test characteristics and the quantity of tests ordered. Secondary outcome measures are the course of complaints, quality of life, satisfaction with care, anxiety of patients and practitioners, determinants of physicians' behaviour, health care utilisation and costs.
The innovative aspect of this trial is that it combines a clinical-epidemiological study and a quality of care study.
PMCID: PMC1538993  PMID: 16553955
11.  Evaluation of an education and activation programme to prevent chronic shoulder complaints: design of an RCT [ISRCTN71777817] 
About half of all newly presented episodes of shoulder complaints (SC) in general practice are reported to last for at least six months. Early interventions aimed at the psychological and social determinants of SC are not common in general practice, although such interventions might prevent the development of chronic SC.
The Education and Activation Programme (EAP) consists of an educational part and a time-contingent activation part. The aim of the EAP is to provide patients with the proper cognitions by means of education, and to stimulate adequate behaviour through advice on activities of daily living.
The article describes the design of a randomised clinical trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of an EAP in addition to usual care, compared to usual care only, in the prevention of chronic SC after six months. It also describes the analysis of the cost and effect balance. Patients suffering from SC for less than three months are recruited in general practice and through open recruitment. A trained general practitioner or a trained therapist administers the EAP.
Primary outcome measures are patient-perceived recovery, measured by self-assessment on a seven-point scale, and functional limitations in activities of daily living. Questionnaires are used to study baseline measures, prognostic measures, process measures and outcome measures.
The inclusion of patients in the study lasted until December 31st 2003. Data collection is to end in June 2004.
PMCID: PMC551606  PMID: 15715914

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