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1.  Comparison of physician referral and insurance claims data-based risk prediction as approaches to identify patients for care management in primary care: an observational study 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:157.
Background
Primary care-based care management (CM) could reduce hospital admissions in high-risk patients. Identification of patients most likely to benefit is needed as resources for CM are limited. This study aimed to compare hospitalization and mortality rates of patients identified for CM either by treating primary care physicians (PCPs) or predictive modelling software for hospitalization risk (PM).
Methods
In 2009, a cohort of 6,026 beneficiaries of a German statutory health insurance served as a sample for patient identification for CM by PCPs or commercial PM (CSSG 0.8, Verisk Health). The resulting samples were compared regarding hospitalization and mortality rates in 2010 and in the two year period before patient selection. No CM-intervention was delivered until the end of 2010 and PCPs were blinded for the assessment of hospitalization rates.
Results
In 2010, hospitalization rates of PM-identified patients were 80% higher compared to PCP-identified patients. Mortality rates were also 8% higher in PM-identified patients if compared to PCP-identified patients (10% vs. 2%). The hospitalization rate of patients independently identified by both PM and PCPs was numerically between PM- and PCP-identified patients. Time trend between 2007 and 2010 showed decreasing hospitalization rates in PM-identified patients (−15% per year) compared to increasing rates in PCP-identified patients (+34% per year).
Conclusions
PM identified patients with higher hospitalization and mortality rates compared to PCP-referred patients. But the latter showed increasing hospitalization rates over time thereby suggesting that PCPs may be able to predict future deterioration in patients with relatively good current health status. These patients may most likely benefit from preventive services like CM.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-157
PMCID: PMC3856595  PMID: 24138411
Decision support techniques; Case finding; Case management; Disease management; Primary care; Multimorbidity; Avoidable hospitalization; Prediction
2.  Practice assistants in primary care in Germany – associations with organizational attributes on job satisfaction 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:110.
Background
Job satisfaction and organizational attributes in primary care teams are important issues as they affect clinical outcomes and the quality of health care provided. As practice assistants are an integral part of these teams it is important to gain insight into their views on job satisfaction and organizational attributes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the job satisfaction of practice assistants and the organizational attributes within their general practices in Germany and to explore the existence of possible associations.
Methods
This observational study was based on a job satisfaction survey and measurement of organizational attributes in general practices in the German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Job satisfaction was measured with the 10-item ‘Warr-Cook-Wall job satisfaction scale’. Organizational attributes were evaluated with the 21-items ‘survey of organizational attributes for primary care’ (SOAPC). Linear regression analyses were performed in which each of SOAPC scales and the overall score of SOAPC was treated as outcome variables.
Results
586 practice assistants out of 794 respondents (73.8%) from 234 general practices completed the questionnaire. Practice assistants were mostly satisfied with their colleagues and least of all satisfied with their income and recognition for their work. The regression analysis showed that ‘freedom of working method’ and ‘recognition of work’, the employment status of practice assistants and the mode of practice were almost always significantly associated with each subscale and overall score of SOAPC.
Conclusions
Job satisfaction is highly associated with different aspects of organizational attributes for primary care (‘communication’, ‘decision-making’ and ‘stress’). Consequently, improved job satisfaction could lead to a better-organized primary care team. This implication should be investigated directly in further intervention studies with a special focus on improving the recognition for work and income.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-110
PMCID: PMC3750430  PMID: 23915225
General practice; Practice assistant; Organizational attributes; Job satisfaction; Primary health care
3.  Evaluation of job satisfaction of practice staff and general practitioners: an exploratory study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:137.
Background
Primary care teams' job satisfaction is an important issue in quality of care. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the job satisfaction of general practitioners (GPs) and non-physician staff and to explore the elements that may impact on overall job satisfaction for GPs and non-physician staff separately.
Methods
The study was based on data from the European Practice Assessment and used an observational design. Job satisfaction was measured with the 10-items Warr-Cook-Wall questionnaire with 7-point-Likert scales. Job satisfaction of GPs and non-physician staff was compared and impact on overall job satisfaction was analysed with stepwise linear regression analyses for both samples separately.
Results
The study population consisted of 2878 non-physician staff (mean age: 38 years) and 676 GPs (mean age: 50 years). The actual mean working time per week of GPs was 50.0 hours and of practice staff 26.0 hours. Both were satisfied with colleagues and fellow workers (mean = 5.99 and mean = 6.18 respectively) and mostly dissatisfied with their income (mean = 4.40 and mean = 4.79 respectively). For GPs the opportunity to use their abilities (β = 0.638) and for non-physician staff recognition for their work (β = 0.691) showed the highest scores of explained variance (R2 = 0.406 and R2 = 0.477 respectively) regarding overall job satisfaction.
Conclusions
Non-physician staff evaluate their job satisfaction higher than GPs except recognition for work. Job satisfaction of members of primary care teams is important because poor satisfaction is associated with suboptimal healthcare delivery, poor clinical outcomes and higher turnover of staff.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-137
PMCID: PMC3271038  PMID: 22151354
4.  Becoming a general practitioner - Which factors have most impact on career choice of medical students? 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:25.
Background
In Germany, there is a shortage of young physicians in several specialties, the situation of general practitioners (GP) being especially precarious. The factors influencing the career choice of German medical students are poorly understood. This study aims to identify factors influencing medical students' specialty choice laying a special focus on general practice.
Methods
The study was designed as a cross-sectional survey. In 2010, students at the five medical schools in the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg (Germany) filled out an online-questionnaire. On 27 items with 5-point Likert scales, the students rated the importance of specified individual and occupational aspects. Furthermore, students were asked to assign their intended medical specialty.
Results
1,299 students participated in the survey. Thereof, 1,114 students stated a current choice for a specialty, with 708 students choosing a career in one of the following 6 specialties: internal medicine, surgery, gynaecology and obstetrics, paediatrics, anaesthetics and general practice. Overall, individual aspects ('Personal ambition', 'Future perspective', 'Work-life balance') were rated as more important than occupational aspects (i.e. 'Variety in job', 'Job-related ambition') for career choice. For students favouring a career as a GP individual aspects and the factor 'Patient orientation' among the occupational aspects were significantly more important and 'Job-related ambition' less important compared to students with other specialty choices.
Conclusions
This study confirms that future GPs differ from students intending to choose other specialties particularly in terms of patient-orientation and individual aspects such as personal ambition, future perspective and work-life balance. Improving job-conditions in terms of family compatibility and work-life balance could help to increase the attractiveness of general practice. Due to the shortage of GPs those factors should be made explicit at an early stage at medical school to increase the number of aspirants for general practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-25
PMCID: PMC3112095  PMID: 21549017
5.  Does GPs' self-perception of their professional role correspond to their social self-image? - A qualitative study from Germany 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:10.
Background
There is a decline in the relative numbers of general practitioners in Germany. Earlier research showed that the professional relationship between general practitioners and specialists is overshadowed by conflicts which could influence medical students not to choose a career in general practice. The aim of the study is to analyse potential discrepancies between general practitioners' self-perception of their professional role and their social self-image in relation to medical specialists and to identify potential barriers that might prevent medical students from becoming a general practitioner.
Methods
A qualitative study design consisting of 16 interviews with general practitioners was chosen. Data analysis was carried out using the qualitative content analysis by Philipp Mayring.
Results
There is a discrepancy between general practitioners' professional self-perception and how they perceive they are viewed by specialists. General practitioners communicate a positive self-perception of their professional role. While general practitioners think that specialists in outpatient care have a positive view on general practice, it is assessed to be negative by specialists working in hospitals and as medical teachers.
Conclusion
The negatively influenced social self-image may originate particularly from "badmouthing" general practitioners at universities and in hospitals. "Badmouthing" demonstrates the importance of the consideration of psychological aspects in medical teachers and hospital specialists acting as role models. Negative comments should be considered as an important factor in influencing medical students and trainees' career choices. These aspects should be more integrated in future medical education curricula.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-10
PMCID: PMC2834633  PMID: 20132534
6.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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%.
Results
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).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-7-28
PMCID: PMC1479349  PMID: 16670014
7.  How can the practice nurse be more involved in the care of the chronically ill? The perspectives of GPs, patients and practice nurses 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:14.
Background
A well established "midlevel" of patient care, such as nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants, exits in many countries like the US, Canada, and Australia.
In Germany, however there is only one kind of profession assisting the physician in practices, the practice nurse. Little is known about the present involvement of practice nurses in patients' care in Germany and about the attitudes of GPs, assistants and patients concerning an increased involvement. The aim of our study was to get qualitative information on the extent to which practice nurses are currently involved in the treatment of patients and about possibilities of increased involvement as well as on barriers of increased involvement.
Methods
We performed qualitative, semi-structured interviews with 20 GPs, 20 practice nurses and 20 patients in the Heidelberg area. The interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed and content-analysed with ATLAS.ti.
Results
Practice nurses are only marginally involved in the treatment of patients. GPs as well as patients were very sceptical about increased involvement in care. Patients were sceptical about nurses' professional background and feared a worsening of the patient doctor relationship. GPs also complained about the nurses' deficient education concerning medical knowledge. They feared a lack of time as well as a missing reimbursement for the efforts of an increased involvement. Practice nurses were mostly willing to be more involved, regarding it as an appreciation of their role. Important barriers were lack of time, overload with administrative work, and a lack of professional knowledge.
Conclusion
Practice nurses were only little involved in patient care. GPs were more sceptical than patients regarding an increased involvement. One possible area, accepted by all interviewed groups, was patient education as for instance dietary counselling. New treatment approaches as the chronic care model will require a team approach which currently only marginally exists in the German health care system. Better medical education of practice nurses is indispensable, but GPs also have to accept that they cannot fulfil the requirement of future care alone.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-7-14
PMCID: PMC1475585  PMID: 16515692
8.  Physicians perceived usefulness of high-cost diagnostic imaging studies: results of a referral study in a German medical quality network 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:22.
Background
Medical and technological progress has led to increased numbers of diagnostic tests, some of them inducing high financial costs. In Germany, high-cost diagnostic imaging is performed by a medical specialist after referral by a general practitioner (GP) or specialist in primary care. The aim of this study was to evaluate the physicians' perceived usefulness of high-cost diagnostic imaging in patients with different clinical conditions.
Methods
Thirty-four GPs, one neurologist and one orthopaedic specialist in ambulatory care from a Medical Quality Network documented 234 referrals concerning 97 MRIs, 96 CTs-scan and 41 intracardiac catheters in a three month period. After having received the test results, they indicated if these were useful for diagnosis and treatment of the patient.
Results
The physicians' perceived usefulness of tests was lowest in suspected cerebral disease (40% of test results were seen as useful), cervical spine problems (64%) and unexplained abdominal complaints (67%). The perceived usefulness was highest in musculoskeletal symptoms (94%) and second best in cardiological diseases (82%).
Conclusion
The perceived usefulness of high-cost diagnostic imaging was lower in unexplained complaints than in specific diseases. Interventions to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of test ordering should focus on clinical decision making in conditions where GPs perceived low usefulness.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-22
PMCID: PMC1174867  PMID: 15941483
9.  General practitioners' attitudes towards research in primary care: qualitative results of a cross sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2004;5:31.
Background
Research in General Practice requires the participation of General practitioners (GPs). In Germany there is little tradition of research in this field, and GPs are not used to be participants in research. Little is known about German GPs attitudes towards research. Therefore the aim of our study was to assess the willingness of German General Practitioners to participate in primary care research and their attitude towards research in general practice. The results should enable a more successful approach to GPs in further studies.
Methods
Cross sectional study using semi-structured interviews with a random sample of 76 General Practitioners who participate in the teaching of medical students at the University of Heidelberg.
Results
Despite little experience, over 85 % of GPs appreciated research in their field. Important reasons for scepticism about research were the gap between theoretical research and practical work of GPs and the domination of research by specialists. Main barriers for participation are clinical workload, administrative overload and the newly introduced Disease Management Programs. The highest motivation for GPs to participate in research emanates from the will to substantiate their quality of care with solid research data.
Conclusions
Financial incentives and personal support e.g. with study nurses are certainly necessary to establish a research culture and to overcome main barriers against participation. The most successful approach to motivate GPs to participate is to convince them that research documents their quality of care. This data may reflect the facts on which the financial resources are provided in the future health care system.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-5-31
PMCID: PMC545488  PMID: 15613246

Results 1-9 (9)