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1.  From pharmaco-therapy to pharmaco-prevention: trends in prescribing to older adults in Ontario, Canada, 1997-2006 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:75.
The developed world is undergoing a demographic transition with greater numbers of older adults and higher rates of chronic disease. Most elder care is now provided by primary care physicians, who prescribe the majority of medications taken by these patients. Despite these significant trends, little is known about population-level prescribing patterns to primary care patients aged 65+.
We conducted a population-based retrospective cohort study to examine 10-year prescribing trends among family physicians providing care to patients aged 65+ in Ontario, Canada.
Both crude number of prescription claims and prescription rates (i.e., claims per person) increased dramatically over the 10-year study period. The greatest change was in prescribing patterns for females aged 85+. Dramatic increases were observed in the prescribing of preventive medications, such as those to prevent osteoporosis (+2,347%) and lipid-lowering agents (+697%). And lastly, the number of unique classes of medications prescribed to older persons has increased, with the proportion of older patients prescribed more than 10 classes of medications almost tripling during the study period.
Prescribing to older adults by family physicians increased substantially during the study period. This raises important concerns regarding quality of care, patient safety, and cost sustainability. It is evident that further research is urgently needed on the health outcomes (both beneficial and harmful) associated with these dramatic increases in prescribing rates.
PMCID: PMC2958963  PMID: 20929561
2.  Chaperone use during intimate examinations in primary care: postal survey of family physicians 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:52.
Physicians have long been advised to have a third party present during certain parts of a physical examination; however, little is known about the frequency of chaperone use for those specific intimate examinations regularly performed in primary care. We aimed to determine the frequency of chaperone use among family physicians across a variety of intimate physical examinations for both male and female patients, and also to identify the factors associated with chaperone use.
Questionnaires were mailed to a randomly selected sample of 500 Ontario members of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. Participants were asked about their use of chaperones when performing a variety of intimate examinations, namely female pelvic, breast, and rectal exams and male genital and rectal exams.
276 of 500 were returned (56%), of which 257 were useable. Chaperones were more commonly used with female patients than with males (t = 9.09 [df = 249], p < 0.001), with the female pelvic exam being the most likely of the five exams to be attended by a chaperone (53%). As well, male physicians were more likely to use chaperones for examination of female patients than were female physicians for the examination of male patients. Logistic regression analyses identified two independent factors – sex of physician and availability of a nurse – that were significantly associated with chaperone use. For female pelvic exam, male physicians were significantly more likely to report using a chaperone (adjusted Odds Ratio [OR] 40.62, 95% confidence interval [CI] 16.91–97.52). Likewise, having a nurse available also significantly increased the likelihood of a chaperone being used (adjusted OR 6.92, 95% CI 2.74–17.46). This pattern of results was consistent across the other four exams. Approximately two-thirds of respondents reported using nurses as chaperones, 15% cited the use of other office staff, and 10% relied on the presence of a family member.
Clinical practice concerning the use of chaperones during intimate exams continues to be discordant with the recommendations of medical associations and medico-legal societies. Chaperones are used by only a minority of Ontario family physicians. Chaperone use is higher for examinations of female patients than of male patients and is highest for female pelvic exams. The availability of a nurse in the clinic to act as a chaperone is associated with more frequent use of chaperones.
PMCID: PMC1360073  PMID: 16371153
3.  Patients' perspectives on taking warfarin: qualitative study in family practice 
BMC Family Practice  2004;5:15.
Despite the well-documented benefits of using warfarin to prevent stroke, physicians remain reluctant to initiate therapy, and especially so with the elderly owing to the higher risk of hemorrhage. Prior research suggests that patients are more accepting of the risk of bleeding than are physicians, although there have been few qualitative studies. The aim of this study was to employ qualitative methods to investigate the experience and perspective of individuals taking warfarin.
We conducted face-to-face interviews with 21 older patients (12 male, 9 female) who had been taking warfarin for a minimum of six months. Participants were patients at a family practice clinic situated in a large, tertiary care teaching hospital. We used a semistructured interview guide with four main thematic areas: decision-making, knowledge/education, impact, and satisfaction. Data were analysed according to the principles of content analysis.
Results and Discussion
Participants tended to have minimal input into the decision to initiate warfarin therapy, instead relying in great part on physicians' expertise. There appeared to be low retention of information received regarding the therapy; half the patients in our sample possessed only a superficial level of understanding of the risks and benefits. This notwithstanding, participants reported a high level of satisfaction with the care provided and a low level of impact on their day-to-day lives.
Minimal patient involvement in the initial decision and modest knowledge did not appear to diminish satisfaction with warfarin management. At the same time, care providers exert a tremendous influence on the initiation of warfarin therapy and should strive to incorporate patient preferences and expectations into the decision-making process.
PMCID: PMC509246  PMID: 15268764
Anticoagulation; Family Practice; Patient Preference; Primary Care; Qualitative Research
4.  The nexus of evidence, context, and patient preferences in primary care: postal survey of Canadian family physicians 
BMC Family Practice  2003;4:13.
Evidence-based medicine is gaining prominence in primary care. This study sought to examine the relationships among family physicians' attitudes toward EBM, contextual factors, and clinical decision-making and to investigate the factors that contribute to 'contrary to evidence' clinical decisions.
A postal survey mailed to a random sample of Canadian family physicians, stratified by age, gender, and practice setting. The main outcome measures were respondents' attitudes toward evidence-based medicine and preferred treatment option in four simulated clinical scenarios with wording randomly varied.
Canadian family physicians report positive attitudes toward EBM, believe that EBM improves patient care, and agree that research findings are useful in the day-to-day management of patients. The scenario study showed that physicians were strongly influenced by a patient demanding/requesting either a screening test (adjusted Odds Ratio [OR] 5.15, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.9 to 9.2 for demand mammogram; adjusted OR 3.11, 95% CI 1.7 to 5.6 for request mammogram) or a diagnostic test (adjusted OR 3.95, 95% CI 2.1 to 7.5 for demand lumbar spine x-ray; adjusted OR 2.08, 95% CI 1.1 to 4.1 for request x-ray). This relationship did not hold for the treatment scenario (prescribing antibiotics for acute bronchitis) where hours of practice (adjusted OR 3.5, 95% CI 1.1 to 11.7 for 50+ hours practice; adjusted OR 1.79, 95% CI 1.0 to 3.2 for 20–49 hours practice) and type of practice (adjusted OR 2.22, 95% CI 1.3 to 3.7 for solo practice) were significant. 80% of respondents reported teaching breast self-examination with female physicians twice as likely as males (adjusted OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.2 to 3.8).
Canadian family physicians are favourably disposed to the precepts of evidence-based medicine; however, patient expectations and practice characteristics can influence physicians such that decisions are taken that are broadly contrary to evidence. Recently revised models of EBM emphasizing the importance of patient preferences and the clinical context appear to reflect more accurately the clinical reality of primary care physicians.
PMCID: PMC212556  PMID: 14505494
5.  Evidence-based medicine in primary care: qualitative study of family physicians 
The objectives of this study were: a) to examine physician attitudes to and experience of the practice of evidence-based medicine (EBM) in primary care; b) to investigate the influence of patient preferences on clinical decision-making; and c) to explore the role of intuition in family practice.
Qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews of 15 family physicians purposively selected from respondents to a national survey on EBM mailed to a random sample of Canadian family physicians.
Participants mainly welcomed the promotion of EBM in the primary care setting. A significant number of barriers and limitations to the implementation of EBM were identified. EBM is perceived by some physicians as a devaluation of the 'art of medicine' and a threat to their professional/clinical autonomy. Issues regarding the trustworthiness and credibility of evidence were of great concern, especially with respect to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. Attempts to become more evidence-based often result in the experience of conflicts. Patient factors exert a powerful influence on clinical decision-making and can serve as trumps to research evidence. A widespread belief that intuition plays a vital role in primary care reinforced views that research evidence must be considered alongside other factors such as patient preferences and the clinical judgement and experience of the physician.
Primary care physicians are increasingly keen to consider research evidence in clinical decision-making, but there are significant concerns about the current model of EBM. Our findings support the proposed revisions to EBM wherein greater emphasis is placed on clinical expertise and patient preferences, both of which remain powerful influences on physician behaviour.
PMCID: PMC165430  PMID: 12740025

Results 1-5 (5)