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1.  Coding of procedures documented by general practitioners in Swedish primary care-an explorative study using two procedure coding systems 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:2.
Procedures documented by general practitioners in primary care have not been studied in relation to procedure coding systems. We aimed to describe procedures documented by Swedish general practitioners in electronic patient records and to compare them to the Swedish Classification of Health Interventions (KVÅ) and SNOMED CT.
Procedures in 200 record entries were identified, coded, assessed in relation to two procedure coding systems and analysed.
417 procedures found in the 200 electronic patient record entries were coded with 36 different Classification of Health Interventions categories and 148 different SNOMED CT concepts. 22.8% of the procedures could not be coded with any Classification of Health Interventions category and 4.3% could not be coded with any SNOMED CT concept. 206 procedure-concept/category pairs were assessed as a complete match in SNOMED CT compared to 10 in the Classification of Health Interventions.
Procedures documented by general practitioners were present in nearly all electronic patient record entries. Almost all procedures could be coded using SNOMED CT.
Classification of Health Interventions covered the procedures to a lesser extent and with a much lower degree of concordance. SNOMED CT is a more flexible terminology system that can be used for different purposes for procedure coding in primary care.
PMCID: PMC3276441  PMID: 22230095
2.  Predictors of stable return-to-work in non-acute, non-specific spinal pain: low total prior sick-listing, high self prediction and young age. A two-year prospective cohort study 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:53.
Non-specific spinal pain (NSP), comprising back and/or neck pain, is one of the leading disorders in long-term sick-listing. During 2000-2004, 125 Swedish primary-care patients with non-acute NSP, full-time sick-listed 6 weeks-2 years, were included in a randomized controlled trial to compare a cognitive-behavioural programme with traditional primary care. This prospective cohort study is a re-assessment of the data from the randomized trial with the 2 treatment groups considered as a single cohort. The aim was to investigate which baseline variables predict a stable return-to-work during a 2-year period after baseline: objective variables from function tests, socioeconomic, subjective and/or treatment variables. Stable return-to-work was a return-to-work lasting for at least 1 month from the start of follow-up.
Stable return-to-work was the outcome variable, the above-mentioned factors were the predictive variables in multiple-logistic regression models, one per follow-up at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after baseline. The factors from univariate analyzes with a p-value of at most .10 were included. The non-significant variables were excluded stepwise to yield models comprising only significant factors (p < .05). As the comparatively few cases made it risky to associate certain predictors with certain time-points, we finally considered the predictors which were represented in at least 3 follow-ups. They are presented with odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals.
Three variables qualified, all of them represented in 3 follow-ups: Low total prior sick-listing (including all diagnoses) was the strongest predictor in 2 follow-ups, 18 and 24 months, OR 4.8 [1.9-12.3] and 3.8 [1.6-8.7] respectively, High self prediction (the patients' own belief in return-to-work) was the strongest at 12 months, OR 5.2 [1.5-17.5] and Young age (max 44 years) the second strongest at 18 months, OR 3.5 [1.3-9.1].
In primary-care patients with non-acute NSP, the strong predictors of stable return-to-work were 2 socioeconomic variables, Low total prior sick-listing and Young age, and 1 subjective variable, High self-prediction. Objective variables from function tests and treatment variables were non-predictors. Except for Young age, the predictors have previously been insufficiently studied, and so our study should widen knowledge within clinical practice.
Trial registration
Trial registration number for the original trial NCT00488735.
PMCID: PMC2919451  PMID: 20646286
3.  Knowledge of stroke risk factors among primary care patients with previous stroke or TIA: a questionnaire study 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:47.
Survivers of stroke or transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) are at risk of new vascular events. Our objective was to study primary health care patients with stroke/TIA regarding their knowledge about risk factors for having a new event of stroke/TIA, possible associations between patient characteristics and patients' knowledge about risk factors, and patients' knowledge about their preventive treatment for stroke/TIA.
A questionnaire was distributed to 240 patients with stroke/TIA diagnoses, and 182 patients (76%) responded. We asked 13 questions about diseases/conditions and lifestyle factors known to be risk factors and four questions regarding other diseases/conditions ("distractors"). The patients were also asked whether they considered each disease/condition to be one of their own. Additional questions concerned the patients' social and functional status and their drug use. The t-test was used for continuous variables, chi-square test for categorical variables, and a regression model with variables influencing patient knowledge was created.
Hypertension, hyperlipidemia and smoking were identified as risk factors by nearly 90% of patients, and atrial fibrillation and diabetes by less than 50%. Few patients considered the distractors as stroke/TIA risk factors (3-6%). Patients with a family history of cardiovascular disease, and patients diagnosed with carotid stenosis, atrial fibrillation or diabetes, knew these were stroke/TIA risk factors to a greater extent than patients without these conditions. Atrial fibrillation or a family history of cardiovascular disease was associated with better knowledge about risk factors, and higher age, cerebral haemorrhage and living alone with poorer knowledge. Only 56% of those taking anticoagulant drugs considered this as intended for prevention, while 48% of those taking platelet aggregation inhibitors thought this was for prevention.
Knowledge about hypertension, hyperlipidemia and smoking as risk factors was good, and patients who suffered from atrial fibrillation or carotid stenosis seemed to be well informed about these conditions as risk factors. However, the knowledge level was low regarding diabetes as a risk factor and regarding the use of anticoagulants and platelet aggregation inhibitors for stroke/TIA prevention. Better teaching strategies for stroke/TIA patients should be developed, with special attention focused on diabetic patients.
PMCID: PMC2894756  PMID: 20550690
4.  General practitioners' reasoning when considering the diagnosis heart failure: a think-aloud study 
Diagnosing chronic heart failure is difficult, especially in mild cases or early in the course of the disease, and guidelines are not easily implemented in everyday practice. The aim of this study was to investigate general practitioners' diagnostic reasoning about patients with suspected chronic heart failure in comparison with recommendations in European guidelines.
Think-aloud technique was used. Fifteen general practitioners reasoned about six case vignettes, representing authentic patients with suspected chronic heart failure. Information about each case was added successively in five steps. The general practitioners said their thoughts aloud while reasoning about the probability of the patient having chronic heart failure, and tried to decide about the diagnosis. Arguments for and against chronic heart failure were analysed and compared to recommendations in guidelines.
Information about ejection fraction was the most frequent diagnostic argument, followed by information about cardiac enlargement or pulmonary congestion on chest X-ray. However, in a third of the judgement situations, no information about echocardiography was utilized in the general practitioners' diagnostic reasoning. Only three of the 15 doctors used information about a normal electrocardiography as an argument against chronic heart failure. Information about other cardio-vascular diseases was frequently used as a diagnostic argument.
The clinical information was not utilized to the extent recommended in guidelines. Some implications of our study are that 1) general practitioners need more information about how to utilize echocardiography when diagnosing chronic heart failure, 2) guidelines ought to give more importance to information about other cardio-vascular diseases in the diagnostic reasoning, and 3) guidelines ought to treat the topic of diastolic heart failure in a clearer way.
PMCID: PMC546006  PMID: 15651996
5.  The role of guidelines and the patient's life-style in GPs' management of hypercholesterolaemia 
Recent Swedish and joint European guidelines on hyperlipidaemia stress the high coronary risk for patients with already established arterio-sclerotic disease (secondary prevention) or diabetes. For the remaining group, calculation of the ten-year risk for coronary events using the Framingham equation is suggested. There is evidence that use of and adherence to guidelines is incomplete and that tools for risk estimations are seldom used. Intuitive risk estimates are difficult and systematically biased. The purpose of the study was to examine how GPs use knowledge of guidelines in their decisions to recommend or not recommend a cholesterol-lowering drug and the reasons for their decisions.
Twenty GPs were exposed to six case vignettes presented on a computer. In the course of six screens, successively more information was added to the case. The doctors were instructed to think aloud while processing the cases (Think-Aloud Protocols) and finally to decide for or against drug treatment. After the six cases they were asked to describe how they usually reason when they meet patients with high cholesterol values (Free-Report Protocols). The two sets of protocols were coded for cause-effect relations that were supposed to reflect the doctors' knowledge of guidelines. The Think-Aloud Protocols were also searched for reasons for the decisions to prescribe or not to prescribe.
According to the protocols, the GPs were well aware of the importance of previous coronary heart disease and diabetes in their decisions. On the other hand, only a few doctors mentioned other arterio-sclerotic diseases like stroke and peripheral artery disease as variables affecting their decisions. There were several instances when the doctors' decisions apparently deviated from their knowledge of the guidelines. The arguments for the decisions in these cases often concerned aspects of the patient's life-style like smoking or overweight- either as risk-increasing factors or as alternative strategies for intervention.
Coding verbal protocols for knowledge and for decision arguments seems to be a valuable tool for increasing our understanding of how guidelines are used in the on treatment of hypercholesterolaemia. By analysing arguments for treatment decisions it was often possible to understand why departures from the guidelines were made. While the need for decision support is obvious, the current guidelines may be too simple in some respects.
PMCID: PMC394323  PMID: 15113452
6.  Heart failure diagnosis in primary health care: clinical characteristics of problematic patients. A clinical judgement analysis study 
BMC Family Practice  2003;4:12.
Early detection of chronic heart failure has become increasingly important since the introduction of effective treatment. However, clinical diagnosis of heart failure is known to be difficult, especially in mild cases or early in the course of the disease. The purpose of this study is to analyse how patient characteristics contribute to difficulties in diagnosing systolic heart failure.
Design: A Clinical Judgement Analysis study of 40 case vignettes based on authentic patients, including relevant clinical data except echocardiography. Setting: Primary health care and two cardiology outpatient clinics in Stockholm. Subjects: 70 participants with different types of clinical experience; 27 specialists in general practice, 22 cardiologists, and 21 medical students. Main outcome measures: The assessed probability of heart failure for each case vignette, and the disagreement between the participants. The number of clinical variables (cues) indicative of heart failure in the case vignettes.
The ten case vignettes with the least diverging assessments more often had increased relative cardiac volume and atrial fibrillation. No further specific clinical patterns could be found in subgroups of the case vignettes. The ten case vignettes with the most diverging assessments were those with an intermediate number of clinical variables. The case vignettes with the least diverging assessments more often represented patients with cardiac enlargement and atrial fibrillation.
Diagnosing mild heart failure is difficult, as these patients are not easy to characterise. In our study, a larger number of positive cues resulted in more diagnostic conformity among the participants, and the most important information was cardiac enlargement. The importance of more objective diagnostic methods in diagnosing suspected cases of heart failure should be emphasised.
PMCID: PMC222938  PMID: 14498999

Results 1-6 (6)