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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.  Oral vitamin B12 therapy in the primary care setting: a qualitative and quantitative study of patient perspectives 
Although oral replacement with high doses of vitamin B12 is both effective and safe for the treatment of B12 deficiency, little is known about patients' views concerning the acceptability and effectiveness of oral B12. We investigated patient perspectives on switching from injection to oral B12 therapy.
This study involved a quantitative arm using questionnaires and a qualitative arm using semi-structured interviews, both to assess patient views on injection and oral therapy. Patients were also offered a six-month trial of oral B12 therapy. One hundred and thirty-three patients who receive regular B12 injections were included from three family practice units (two hospital-based academic clinics and one community health centre clinic) in Toronto.
Seventy-three percent (63/86) of respondents were willing to try oral B12. In a multivariate analysis, patient factors associated with a "willingness to switch" to oral B12 included being able to get to the clinic in less than 30 minutes (OR 9.3, 95% CI 2.2–40.0), and believing that frequent visits to the health care provider (OR 5.4, 95% CI 1.1–26.6) or the increased costs to the health care system (OR 16.7, 95% CI 1.5–184.2) were disadvantages of injection B12. Fifty-five patients attempted oral therapy and 52 patients returned the final questionnaire. Of those who tried oral therapy, 76% (39/51) were satisfied and 71% (39/55) wished to permanently switch. Factors associated with permanently switching to oral therapy included believing that the frequent visits to the health care provider (OR 35.4, 95% CI 2.9–432.7) and travel/parking costs (OR 8.7, 95% CI 1.2–65.3) were disadvantages of injection B12. Interview participants consistently cited convenience as an advantage of oral therapy.
Switching patients from injection to oral B12 is both feasible and acceptable to patients. Oral B12 supplementation is well received largely due to increased convenience. Clinicians should offer oral B12 therapy to their patients who are currently receiving injections, and newly diagnosed B12-deficient patients who can tolerate and are compliant with oral medications should be offered oral supplementation.
PMCID: PMC554115  PMID: 15723708
4.  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
5.  Lack of chart reminder effectiveness on family medicine resident JNC-VI and NCEP III guideline knowledge and attitudes 
BMC Family Practice  2004;5:14.
The literature demonstrates that medical residents and practicing physicians have an attitudinal-behavioral discordance concerning their positive attitudes towards clinical practice guidelines (CPG), and the implementation of these guidelines into clinical practice patterns.
A pilot study was performed to determine if change in a previously identified CPG compliance factor (accessibility) would produce a significant increase in family medicine resident knowledge and attitude toward the guidelines. The primary study intervention involved placing a summary of the Sixth Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC VI) and the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (NCEP III) CPGs in all patient (>18 yr.) charts for a period of three months. The JNC VI and NCEP III CPGs were also distributed to each Wayne State family medicine resident, and a copy of each CPG was placed in the preceptor's area of the involved clinics. Identical pre- and post- intervention questionnaires were administered to all residents concerning CPG knowledge and attitude.
Post-intervention analysis failed to demonstrate a significant difference in CPG knowledge. A stastically significant post-intervention difference was found in only on attitude question. The barriers to CPG compliance were identified as 1) lack of CPG instruction; 2) lack of critical appraisal ability; 3) insufficient time; 4) lack of CPG accessibility; and 5) lack of faculty modeling.
This study demonstrated no significant post intervention changes in CPG knowledge, and only one question that reflected attitude change. Wider resident access to dedicated clinic time, increased faculty modeling, and the implementation of an electronic record/reminder system that uses a team-based approach are compliance factors that should be considered for further investigation. The interpretation of CPG non-compliance will benefit from a causal matrix focused on physician knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Recent findings in resident knowledge-behavior discordance may direct the future investigation of physician CPG non-compliance away from generalized barrier research, and toward the development of information that maximizes the sense of individual practitioner urgency and certainty.
PMCID: PMC471552  PMID: 15236663
6.  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
7.  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
8.  Long term benzodiazepine use for insomnia in patients over the age of 60: discordance of patient and physician perceptions 
The aim of this study was to determine and compare patients' and physicians' perceptions of benefits and risks of long term benzodiazepine use for insomnia in the elderly.
A cross-sectional study (written survey) was conducted in an academic primary care group practice in Toronto, Canada. The participants were 93 patients over 60 years of age using a benzodiazepine for insomnia and 25 physicians comprising sleep specialists, family physicians, and family medicine residents. The main outcome measure was perception of benefit and risk scores calculated from the mean of responses (on a Likert scale of 1 to 5) to various items on the survey.
The mean perception of benefit score was significantly higher in patients than physicians (3.85 vs. 2.84, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.69, 1.32). The mean perception of risk score was significantly lower in patients than physicians (2.21 vs. 3.63, p < 0.001, 95% CI 1.07, 1.77).
There is a significant discordance between older patients and their physicians regarding the perceptions of benefits and risks of using benzodiazepines for insomnia on a long term basis. The challenge is to openly discuss these perceptions in the context of the available evidence to make collaborative and informed decisions.
PMCID: PMC113266  PMID: 12019038
9.  Is there a clinically significant gender bias in post-myocardial infarction pharmacological management in the older (>60) population of a primary care practice? 
Differences in the management of coronary artery disease between men and women have been reported in the literature. There are few studies of potential inequalities of treatment that arise from a primary care context. This study investigated the existence of such inequalities in the medical management of post myocardial infarction in older patients.
A comprehensive chart audit was conducted of 142 men and 81 women in an academic primary care practice. Variables were extracted on demographic variables, cardiovascular risk factors, medical and non-medical management of myocardial infarction.
Women were older than men. The groups were comparable in terms of cardiac risk factors. A statistically significant difference (14.6%: 95% CI 0.048–28.7 p = 0.047) was found between men and women for the prescription of lipid lowering medications. 25.3% (p = 0.0005, CI 11.45, 39.65) more men than women had undergone angiography, and 14.4 % (p = 0.029, CI 2.2, 26.6) more men than women had undergone coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
Women are less likely than men to receive lipid-lowering medication which may indicate less aggressive secondary prevention in the primary care setting.
PMCID: PMC111196  PMID: 12015819

Results 1-9 (9)