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1.  Health Alliance for prudent antibiotic prescribing in patients with respiratory tract infections (HAPPY AUDIT) -impact of a non-randomised multifaceted intervention programme 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:52.
Excessive use of antibiotics is worldwide the most important reason for development of antimicrobial resistance. As antibiotic resistance may spread across borders, high prevalence countries may serve as a source of bacterial resistance for countries with a low prevalence. Therefore, bacterial resistance is an important issue with a potential serious impact on all countries. Initiatives have been taken to improve the quality of antibiotic prescribing in primary care, but only few studies have been designed to determine the effectiveness of multifaceted strategies across countries with different practice setting. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of a multifaceted intervention targeting general practitioners (GPs) and patients in six countries with different health organization and different prevalence of antibiotic resistance.
GPs from two Nordic countries, two Baltic Countries and two Hispano-American countries registered patients with respiratory tract infections (RTIs) in 2008 and 2009. After first registration they received individual prescriber feedback and they were offered an intervention programme that included training courses, clinical guidelines, posters for waiting rooms, patient brochures and access to point of care tests (Strep A and C-Reactive Protein). Antibiotic prescribing rates were compared before and after the intervention.
A total of 440 GPs registered 47011 consultations; 24436 before the intervention (2008) and 22575 after the intervention (2009). After the intervention, the GPs significantly reduced the percentage of consultations resulting in an antibiotic prescription. In patients with lower RTI the GPs in Lithuania reduced the prescribing rate by 42%, in Russia by 25%, in Spain by 25%, and in Argentina by 9%. In patients with upper RTIs, the corresponding reductions in the antibiotic prescribing rates were in Lithania 20%, in Russia 15%, in Spain 9%, and in Argentina 5%.
A multifaceted intervention programme targeting GPs and patients and focusing on improving diagnostic procedures in patients with RTIs may lead to a marked reduction in antibiotic prescribing. The pragmatic before-after design used may suffer from some limitations and the reduction in antibiotic prescribing could be influenced by factors not related to the intervention.
PMCID: PMC3146837  PMID: 21689406
2.  Health Alliance for Prudent Prescribing, Yield and Use of Antimicrobial Drugs in the Treatment of Respiratory Tract Infections (HAPPY AUDIT) 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:29.
Excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics is considered to be the most important reason for development of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. As antibiotic resistance may spread across borders, high prevalence countries may serve as a source of bacterial resistance for countries with a low prevalence. Therefore, bacterial resistance is an important issue with a potential serious impact on all countries.
The majority of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are treated in general practice. Most infections are caused by virus and antibiotics are therefore unlikely to have any clinical benefit. Several intervention initiatives have been taken to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics in primary health care, but the effectiveness of these interventions is only modest. Only few studies have been designed to determine the effectiveness of multifaceted strategies in countries with different practice setting. The aim of this study is to evaluate the impact of a multifaceted intervention targeting general practitioners (GPs) and patients in six countries with different prevalence of antibiotic resistance: Two Nordic countries (Denmark and Sweden), two Baltic Countries (Lithuania and Kaliningrad-Russia) and two Hispano-American countries (Spain and Argentina).
HAPPY AUDIT was initiated in 2008 and the project is still ongoing. The project includes 15 partners from 9 countries. GPs participating in HAPPY AUDIT will be audited by the Audit Project Odense (APO) method. The APO method will be used at a multinational level involving GPs from six countries with different cultural background and different organisation of primary health care. Research on the effect of the intervention will be performed by analysing audit registrations carried out before and after the intervention. The intervention includes training courses on management of RTIs, dissemination of clinical guidelines with recommendations for diagnosis and treatment, posters for the waiting room, brochures to patients and implementation of point of care tests (Strep A and CRP) to be used in the GPs'surgeries.
To ensure public awareness of the risk of resistant bacteria, media campaigns targeting both professionals and the public will be developed and the results will be published and widely disseminated at a Working Conference hosted by the World Association of Family Doctors (WONCA-Europe) at the end of the project period.
HAPPY AUDIT is an EU-financed project with the aim of contributing to the battle against antibiotic resistance through quality improvement of GPs' diagnosis and treatment of RTIs through development of intervention programmes targeting GPs, parents of young children and healthy adults. It is hypothesized that the use of multifaceted strategies combining active intervention by GPs will be effective in reducing prescribing of unnecessary antibiotics for RTIs and improving the use of appropriate antibiotics in suspected bacterial infections.
PMCID: PMC2877004  PMID: 20416034
3.  Differences in referral rates to specialised health care from four primary health care models in Klaipeda, Lithuania 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:63.
Lithuanian primary health care (PHC) is undergoing changes from the systems prevalent under the Soviet Union, which ensured free access to specialised health care. Currently four different PHC models work in parallel, which offers the opportunity to study their respective effect on referral rates. Our aim was to investigate whether there were differences in referrals rates from different Lithuanian PHC models in Klaipeda after adjustment for co-morbidity.
The population listed with 18 PHC practices serving inhabitants in Klaipeda city and region (250 070 inhabitants). Four PHC models: rural state-owned family medicine practices, urban privately owned family medicine practices, state-owned polyclinics and privately owned polyclinics. Information on listed patients and referrals during 2005 from each PHC practice in Klaipeda was obtained from the Lithuanian State Sickness Fund database. The database records included information on age, gender, PHC model, referrals and ICD 10 diagnoses. The Johns Hopkins ACG Case-Mix system was used to study co-morbidity. Referral rates from different PHC models were studied using Poisson regression models.
Patients listed with rural state-owned family medicine practices had a significantly lower referral rate to specialised health care than those in the other three PHC models. An increasing co-morbidity level correlated with a higher physician- to self-referral ratio.
Family medicine practices located in rural-, but not in urban areas had significantly lower referral rates to specialised health care. It could not be established whether this was due to organisation, training of physicians or financing, but suggests there is room for improving primary health care in urban areas. Patient's place of residence and co morbidity level were the most important factors for referral rate. We also found that gatekeeping had an effect on the referral pattern with respect to co-morbidity level, so that those with a physician referral were more likely to have had higher co-morbidity.
PMCID: PMC2612663  PMID: 19032796
4.  The perceived meaning of a (w)holistic view among general practitioners and district nurses in Swedish primary care: a qualitative study 
The definition of primary care varies between countries. Swedish primary care has developed from a philosophic viewpoint based on quality, accessibility, continuity, co-operation and a holistic view. The meaning of holism in international literature differs between medicine and nursing. The question is, if the difference is due to different educational traditions. Due to the uncertainties in defining holism and a holistic view we wished to study, in depth, how holism is perceived by doctors and nurses in their clinical work. Thus, the aim was to explore the perceived meaning of a holistic view among general practitioners (GPs) and district nurses (DNs).
Seven focus group interviews with a purposive sample of 22 GPs and 20 nurses working in primary care in two Swedish county councils were conducted. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using qualitative content analysis.
The analysis resulted in three categories, attitude, knowledge, and circumstances, with two, two and four subcategories respectively. A professional attitude involves recognising the whole person; not only fragments of a person with a disease. Factual knowledge is acquired through special training and long professional experience. Tacit knowledge is about feelings and social competence. Circumstances can either be barriers or facilitators. A holistic view is a strong motivator and as such it is a facilitator. The way primary care is organised can be either a barrier or a facilitator and could influence the use of a holistic approach. Defined geographical districts and care teams facilitate a holistic view with house calls being essential, particularly for nurses. In preventive work and palliative care, a holistic view was stated to be specifically important. Consultations and communication with the patient were seen as important tools.
'Holistic view' is multidimensional, well implemented and very much alive among both GPs and DNs. The word holistic should really be spelt 'wholistic' to avoid confusion with complementary and alternative medicine. It was obvious that our participants were able to verbalise the meaning of a 'wholistic' view through narratives about their clinical, every day work. The possibility to implement a 'wholistic' perspective in their work with patients offers a strong motivation for GPs and DNs.
PMCID: PMC1828160  PMID: 17346340
5.  The meaning of quality work from the general practitioner's perspective: an interview study 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:60.
The quality of health care and its costs have been a subject of considerable attention and lively discussion. Various methods have been introduced to measure, assess, and improve the quality of health care. Many professionals in health care have criticized quality work and its methods as being unsuitable for health care. The aim of the study was to obtain a deeper understanding of the meaning of quality work from the general practitioner's perspective.
Fourteen general practitioners, seven women and seven men, were interviewed with the aid of a semi-structured interview guide about their experience of quality work. The interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data collection and analysis were guided by a phenomenological approach intended to capture the essence of the statements.
Two fundamentally different ways to view quality work emerged from the statements: A pronounced top-down perspective with elements of control, and an intra-profession or bottom-up perspective. From the top-down perspective, quality work was described as something that infringes professional freedom. From the bottom-up perspective the statements described quality work as a self-evident duty and as a professional attitude to the medical vocation, guided by the principles of medical ethics. Follow-up with a bottom-up approach is best done in internal processes, with the profession itself designing structures and methods based on its own needs.
The study indicates that general practitioners view internal follow-up as a professional obligation but external control as an imposition. This opposition entails a difficulty in achieving systematism in follow-up and quality work in health care. If the statutory standards for systematic quality work are to gain a real foothold, they must be packaged in such a way that general practitioners feel that both perspectives can be reconciled.
PMCID: PMC1624837  PMID: 17052342

Results 1-5 (5)