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1.  Diagnostic accuracy of the STRATIFY clinical prediction rule for falls: A systematic review and meta-analysis 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:76.
Background
The STRATIFY score is a clinical prediction rule (CPR) derived to assist clinicians to identify patients at risk of falling. The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to determine the overall diagnostic accuracy of the STRATIFY rule across a variety of clinical settings.
Methods
A literature search was performed to identify all studies that validated the STRATIFY rule. The methodological quality of the studies was assessed using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies tool. A STRATIFY score of ≥2 points was used to identify individuals at higher risk of falling. All included studies were combined using a bivariate random effects model to generate pooled sensitivity and specificity of STRATIFY at ≥2 points. Heterogeneity was assessed using the variance of logit transformed sensitivity and specificity.
Results
Seventeen studies were included in our meta-analysis, incorporating 11,378 patients. At a score ≥2 points, the STRATIFY rule is more useful at ruling out falls in those classified as low risk, with a greater pooled sensitivity estimate (0.67, 95% CI 0.52–0.80) than specificity (0.57, 95% CI 0.45 – 0.69). The sensitivity analysis which examined the performance of the rule in different settings and subgroups also showed broadly comparable results, indicating that the STRATIFY rule performs in a similar manner across a variety of different ‘at risk’ patient groups in different clinical settings.
Conclusion
This systematic review shows that the diagnostic accuracy of the STRATIFY rule is limited and should not be used in isolation for identifying individuals at high risk of falls in clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-76
PMCID: PMC3460792  PMID: 22870921
Falls assessment; STRATIFY; Sensitivity and specificity; Systematic review; Meta-analysis
2.  Predicting acute uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women: a systematic review of the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:78.
Background
Acute urinary tract infections (UTI) are one of the most common bacterial infections among women presenting to primary care. However, there is a lack of consensus regarding the optimal reference standard threshold for diagnosing UTI. The objective of this systematic review is to determine the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs in women presenting with suspected UTI, across three different reference standards (102 or 103 or 105 CFU/ml). We also examine the diagnostic value of individual symptoms and signs combined with dipstick test results in terms of clinical decision making.
Methods
Searches were performed through PubMed (1966 to April 2010), EMBASE (1973 to April 2010), Cochrane library (1973 to April 2010), Google scholar and reference checking.
Studies that assessed the diagnostic accuracy of symptoms and signs of an uncomplicated UTI using a urine culture from a clean-catch or catherised urine specimen as the reference standard, with a reference standard of at least ≥ 102 CFU/ml were included. Synthesised data from a high quality systematic review were used regarding dipstick results. Studies were combined using a bivariate random effects model.
Results
Sixteen studies incorporating 3,711 patients are included. The weighted prior probability of UTI varies across diagnostic threshold, 65.1% at ≥ 102 CFU/ml; 55.4% at ≥ 103 CFU/ml and 44.8% at ≥ 102 CFU/ml ≥ 105 CFU/ml. Six symptoms are identified as useful diagnostic symptoms when a threshold of ≥ 102 CFU/ml is the reference standard. Presence of dysuria (+LR 1.30 95% CI 1.20-1.41), frequency (+LR 1.10 95% CI 1.04-1.16), hematuria (+LR 1.72 95%CI 1.30-2.27), nocturia (+LR 1.30 95% CI 1.08-1.56) and urgency (+LR 1.22 95% CI 1.11-1.34) all increase the probability of UTI. The presence of vaginal discharge (+LR 0.65 95% CI 0.51-0.83) decreases the probability of UTI. Presence of hematuria has the highest diagnostic utility, raising the post-test probability of UTI to 75.8% at ≥ 102 CFU/ml and 67.4% at ≥ 103 CFU/ml. Probability of UTI increases to 93.3% and 90.1% at ≥ 102 CFU/ml and ≥ 103 CFU/ml respectively when presence of hematuria is combined with a positive dipstick result for nitrites. Subgroup analysis shows improved diagnostic accuracy using lower reference standards ≥ 102 CFU/ml and ≥ 103 CFU/ml.
Conclusions
Individual symptoms and signs have a modest ability to raise the pretest-risk of UTI. Diagnostic accuracy improves considerably when combined with dipstick tests particularly tests for nitrites.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-78
PMCID: PMC2987910  PMID: 20969801
3.  The external validity of published randomized controlled trials in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2009;10:5.
Background
A criticism of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) in primary care is that they lack external validity, participants being unrepresentative of the wider population. Our aim was to determine whether published primary care-based RCTs report information about how the study sample is assembled, and whether this is associated with RCT characteristics.
Methods
We reviewed RCTs published in four primary care journals in the years 2001–2004. Main outcomes were: (1) eligibility fraction (proportion eligible of those screened), (2) enrolment fraction (proportion randomised of those eligible), (3) recruitment fraction (proportion of potential participants actually randomised), and (4) number of patients needed to be screened (NNS) in order to randomize one participant.
Results
A total of 148 RCTs were reviewed. One hundred and three trials (70%) reported the number of individuals assessed by investigators for eligibility, 119 (80%) reported the number eligible for participation, and all reported the actual number recruited. The median eligibility fraction was 83% (IQR 40% to 100%), and the median enrolment fraction was 74% (IQR 49% to 92%). The median NNS was 2.43, with some trials reportedly recruiting every patient or practice screened for eligibility, and one trial screening 484 for each patient recruited. We found no association between NNS and journal, trial size, multi- or single-centre, funding source or type of intervention. There may be associations between provision of sufficient recruitment data for the calculation of NNS and funding source and type of intervention.
Conclusion
RCTs reporting recruitment data in primary care suggest that once screened for eligibility and found to match inclusion criteria patients are likely to be randomized. This finding needs to be treated with caution as it may represent inadequate identification or reporting of the eligible population. A substantial minority of RCTs did not provide sufficient information about the patient recruitment process.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-5
PMCID: PMC2632986  PMID: 19152681
4.  Measuring the financial burden of acute cough in pre-school children: a cost of illness study 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:10.
Background
Context: Acute cough is a very common symptom presentation among children in primary care and is usually due to respiratory infection, yet its cost is unknown. An estimate of the cost to healthcare providers and parents would aid budgetary decision-making, and provide an insight into the need for interventions to reduce the burden. Purpose: To estimate the cost per child per episode, and the annual population cost in the UK, of acute cough in pre-school children presenting to primary care.
Methods
Design: Incidence and prevalence-based cost-of-illness study from the perspectives of the UK NHS and of parents and caregivers. Setting: 11 general practices in Bristol, UK. Subjects: 121 children without known asthma aged 3 to 59 months presenting for the first time with an acute (≤ 28 days) cough.
Results
Mean cost per episode to the NHS: £27.43 (95% CI: £24.38 – £30.49). Mean cost per episode to parents and carers: £14.77 (£4.90 – £24.65). Annual cost to the NHS in the UK: at least £31.5 m (95% CI: £28.0 m – £35.0 m).
Conclusion
The cost burden on the healthcare provider of acute cough in pre-school children is substantial; the majority of this cost arises from consultations with general practitioners. Parents experience some personal cost through travel and expenditure on over-the-counter preparations, and may suffer significantly if loss of earnings is experienced. There is scope for evaluating interventions designed to reduce this burden.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-10
PMCID: PMC2253540  PMID: 18237423
5.  The inter-observer agreement of examining pre-school children with acute cough: a nested study 
Background
The presence of clinical signs have implications for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the inter-observer agreement of clinical signs in pre-school children presenting to primary care.
Methods
A nested study comparing two clinical assessments within a prospective cohort of 256 pre-school children with acute cough recruited from eight general practices in Leicestershire, UK. We examined agreement (using kappa statistics) between unstandardised and standardised clinical assessments of tachypnoea, chest signs and fever.
Results
Kappa values were poor or fair for all clinical signs (range 0.12 to 0.39) with chest signs the most reliable.
Conclusions
Primary care clinicians should be aware that clinical signs may be unreliable when making diagnosis, prognosis and treatment decisions in pre-school children with cough. Future research should aim to further our understanding of how best to identify abnormal clinical signs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-5-4
PMCID: PMC387826  PMID: 15102326

Results 1-5 (5)