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1.  Effectiveness of an implementation strategy for a breastfeeding guideline in Primary Care: cluster randomised trial 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:144.
The protection and promotion of breastfeeding is considered a priority in Europe where only 22% of infants less than 6 months old are exclusively breastfed. In Spain this percentage reaches 24.8% but in our city it falls to 18.26%. Various studies emphasise that the improvement of these results should be based upon the training of health professionals. Following the recommendations of a breastfeeding guide can modify the practice of health professionals and improve results with respect to exclusively or predominatly breastfed children at 6 months of age.
This study involves a community based cluster randomized trial in primary healthcare centres in Leganés (Madrid, Spain). The project aims to determine whether the use of an implementation strategy (including training session, information distribution, opinion leader) of a breastfeeding guideline in primary care is more effective than usual diffusion.
The number of patients required will be 240 (120 in each arm). It will be included all the mothers of infants born during the study period (6 months) who come to the health centre on the first visit of the child care programme and who give their consent to participate. The main outcome variable is the exclusive o predominant breastfeeding at 6 moths of age..
Main effectiveness will be analyzed by comparing the percentage of infants with exclusive or predominant breastfeeding at 6 months between the intervention group and the control group. All statistical tests will be performed with intention to treat. Logistic regression with random effects will be used to adjust for prognostic factors. Confounding factors or factors that might alter the effect recorded will be taken into account in this analysis.
Strategies need to be found which facilitate the giving of effective advice on breastfeeding by professionals and which provide support to women during the breastfeeding period. By applying the guide's recommendations, clinical variability can be reduced and the care received by patients can be improved.
Trial registration
The trial was registered with, number NCT01474096
PMCID: PMC3339325  PMID: 22208800
2.  Guidelines on acute gastroenteritis in children: a critical appraisal of their quality and applicability in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:134.
Reasons for poor guideline adherence in acute gastroenteritis (AGE) in children in high-income countries are unclear, but may be due to inconsistency between guideline recommendations, lack of evidence, and lack of generalizability of the recommendations to general practice. The aim of this study was to assess the quality of international guidelines on AGE in children and investigate the generalizability of the recommendations to general practice.
Guidelines were retrieved from websites of professional medical organisations and websites of institutes involved in guideline development. In addition, a systematic search of the literature was performed. Articles were selected if they were a guideline, consensus statement or care protocol.
Eight guidelines met the inclusion criteria, the quality of the guidelines varied. 242 recommendations on diagnosis and management were found, of which 138 (57%) were based on evidence.
There is a large variety in the classification of symptoms to different categories of dehydration. No signs are generalizable to general practice.
It is consistently recommended to use hypo-osmolar ORS, however, the recommendations on ORS-dosage are not evidence based and are inconsistent. One of 14 evidence based recommendations on therapy of AGE is based on outpatient research and is therefore generalizable to general practice.
The present study shows considerable variation in the quality of guidelines on AGE in children, as well as inconsistencies between the recommendations. It remains unclear how to asses the extent of dehydration and determine the preferred treatment or referral of a young child with AGE presenting in general practice.
PMCID: PMC3331832  PMID: 22136388
3.  Assessing Asthma control in UK primary care: Use of routinely collected prospective observational consultation data to determine appropriateness of a variety of control assessment models 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:105.
Assessing asthma control using standardised questionnaires is recommended as good clinical practice but there is little evidence validating their use within primary care. There is however, strong empirical evidence to indicate that age, weight, gender, smoking, symptom pattern, medication use, health service resource use, geographical location, deprivation, and organisational issues, are factors strongly associated with asthma control. A good control measure is therefore one whose variation is most explained by these factors.
Eight binary (Yes = poor control, No = good control) models of asthma control were constructed from a large UK primary care dataset: the Royal College of Physicians 3-Questions (RCP-3Qs); the Jones Morbidity Index; three composite measures; three single component models. Accounting for practice clustering of patients, we investigated the effects of each model for assessing control. The binary models were assessed for goodness-of-fit statistics using Pseudo R-squared and Akaikes Information Criteria (AIC), and for performance using Area Under the Receiver Operator Characteristic (AUROC). In addition, an expanded RCP-3Q control scale (0-9) was derived and assessed with linear modelling. The analysis identified which model was best explained by the independent variables and thus could be considered a good model of control assessment.
1,205 practices provided information on 64,929 patients aged 13+ years. The RCP-3Q model provided the best fit statistically, with a Pseudo R-squared of 18%, and an AUROC of 0.79. By contrast, the composite model based on the GINA definition of controlled asthma had a higher AIC, an AUROC of 0.72, and only 10% variability explained. In addition, although the Peak Expiratory Flow Rate (PEFR) model had the lowest AIC, it had an AUROC of 71% and only 6% of variability explained. However, compared with the RCP-3Qs binary model, the linear RCP-3Q Total Score Model (Scale 0-9), was found to be a more robust 'tool' for assessing asthma control with a lower AIC (28,6163) and an R-squared of 33%.
In the absence of a gold standard for assessing asthma control in primary care, the results indicate that the RCP-3Qs is an effective control assessment tool but, for maximum effect, the expanded scoring model should be used.
PMCID: PMC3196897  PMID: 21958349
4.  General practitioner characteristics and delay in cancer diagnosis. a population-based cohort study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:100.
Delay in cancer diagnosis may have serious prognostic consequences, and some patients experience delays lasting several months. However, we have no knowledge whether such delays are associated with general practitioner (GP) characteristics. The aim of the present study was to analyse whether GP and practice characteristics are associated with the length of delay in cancer diagnosis.
The study was designed as a population-based cohort study. The setting was the County of Aarhus, Denmark (640,000 inhabitants). Participants include 334 GPs and their 1,525 consecutive, newly diagnosed cancer patients. During one year (September 2004 to August 2005), patients with incident cancer were enrolled from administrative registries. GPs completed questionnaires on the patients' diagnostic pathways and on GP and practice characteristics. Delay was categorised as patient-related (more than 60 days), doctor-related (more than 30 days) and system-related (more than 90 days). The associations between delay and characteristics were assessed in a logistic regression model using odds ratios (ORs).
No GP characteristics (seniority, practice organization, list size, participation in continuing medical education, job satisfaction and level of burnout) were associated with doctor delay. Patients of female GPs more often had a short patient delay than patients of male GPs (OR 0.44, 95% confidence interval (95%CI) 0.28 to 0.71). Patients whose GPs provided many services (OR 0.66, 95%CI 0.44 to 0.95) and patients attending GPs with little former knowledge of their patients (OR 0.68, 95%CI 0.47 to 0.99) more often experienced a short system delay than patients attending GPs with less activity and more knowledge of their patients. Patients listed with a female GP more often experienced a long system delay than patients of male GPs (OR 1.50, 95%CI 1.02 to 2.21). Finally, patients with low GP-reported compliance more often experienced a long system delay (OR 1.73, 95%CI 1.07 to 2.80) than patients with higher compliance.
GP characteristics were not statistically significantly associated with doctor delay. However, some GP characteristics were associated with patient and system delay, which indicates that these factors may be important for understanding patient delay (e.g. perceived GP accessibility and the GP-patient relationship) and system delay (e.g. the GP's experience and opportunities for referring and coordinating diagnostic work-up).
PMCID: PMC3191468  PMID: 21943310
Cancer diagnosis; delay; GP characteristics; Denmark; family practice
5.  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
6.  General practitioner advice on physical activity: Analyses in a cohort of older primary health care patients (getABI) 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:26.
Although the benefits of physical activity for health and functioning are recognized to extend throughout life, the physical activity level of most older people is insufficient with respect to current guidelines. The primary health care setting may offer an opportunity to influence and to support older people to become physically active on a regular basis. Currently, there is a lack of data concerning general practitioner (GP) advice on physical activity in Germany. Therefore, the aim of this study was to evaluate the rate and characteristics of older patients receiving advice on physical activity from their GP.
This is a cross-sectional study using data collected at 7 years of follow-up of a prospective cohort study (German epidemiological trial on ankle brachial index, getABI). 6,880 unselected patients aged 65 years and above in the primary health care setting in Germany were followed up since October 2001. During the 7-year follow-up telephone interview, 1,937 patients were asked whether their GP had advised them to get regular physical activity within the preceding 12 months. The interview also included questions on socio-demographic and lifestyle variables, medical conditions, and physical activity. Logistic regression analysis (unadjusted and adjusted for all covariables) was used to examine factors associated with receiving advice. Analyses comprised only complete cases with regard to the analysed variables. Results are expressed as odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Of the 1,627 analysed patients (median age 77; range 72-93 years; 52.5% women), 534 (32.8%) stated that they had been advised to get regular physical activity. In the adjusted model, those more likely to receive GP advice on physical activity were men (OR [95% CI] 1.34 [1.06-1.70]), patients suffering from pain (1.43 [1.13-1.81]), coronary heart disease and/or myocardial infarction (1.56 [1.21-2.01]), diabetes mellitus (1.79 [1.39-2.30]) or arthritis (1.37 [1.08-1.73]), and patients taking a high (> 5) number of medications (1.41 [1.11-1.80]).
The study revealed a relatively low rate of older primary health care patients receiving GP advice on physical activity. GPs appeared to focus their advice on patients with chronic medical conditions. However, there are likely to be many more patients who would benefit from advice.
PMCID: PMC3115873  PMID: 21569227
aged; physical activity; family physicians; primary health care; chronic disease; public health
7.  The influence of self-owned home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) on primary care patients with hypertension: A qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:143.
Home blood pressure monitoring (HBPM) is gaining popularity among hypertensive patients. This study aimed to explore the influence of self-initiated HBPM on primary care patients with hypertension.
Six in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted, taking into consideration the experiences of 24 primary care patients with hypertension. These patients had been using HBPM as part of their hypertension management. The overriding influences were grouped under themes which emerged from analyzing the data using the grounded theory approach.
There are both positive and negative influences of self-initiated HBPM. Patients used the readings of their HBPM to decide on many aspects of their hypertension management. The HBPM readings both influenced their adherence to diet and exercise and provided certain reassurance when they experienced symptoms. In addition, the act of discussing their HBPM readings with their health care providers resulted in an enhanced doctor-patient therapeutic relationship. Nevertheless, HBPM created confusion at times in some patients, particularly with regard to the target blood pressure level and the need for medication. This led to some patients making their own medical decisions based on their own standards.
HBPM is becoming an integral part of hypertension management. Primary care patients who self-initiated HBPM reported being more self-efficacious, but lack of participation and guidance from their doctors created confusion, and hindered the true benefit of HBPM.
PMCID: PMC3271963  PMID: 22208768
8.  Improving accuracy of medication identification in an older population using a medication bottle color symbol label system 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:142.
The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate and refine an adjuvant system of color-specific symbols that are added to medication bottles and to assess whether this system would increase the ability of patients 65 years of age or older in matching their medication to the indication for which it was prescribed.
This study was conducted in two phases, consisting of three focus groups of patients from a family medicine clinic (n = 25) and a pre-post medication identification test in a second group of patient participants (n = 100). Results of focus group discussions were used to refine the medication label symbols according to themes and messages identified through qualitative triangulation mechanisms and data analysis techniques. A pre-post medication identification test was conducted in the second phase of the study to assess differences between standard labeling alone and the addition of the refined color-specific symbols. The pre-post test examined the impact of the added labels on participants' ability to accurately match their medication to the indication for which it was prescribed when placed in front of participants and then at a distance of two feet.
Participants appreciated the addition of a visual aid on existing medication labels because it would not be necessary to learn a completely new system of labeling, and generally found the colors and symbols used in the proposed labeling system easy to understand and relevant. Concerns were raised about space constraints on medication bottles, having too much information on the bottle, and having to remember what the colors meant. Symbols and colors were modified if they were found unclear or inappropriate by focus group participants. Pre-post medication identification test results in a second set of participants demonstrated that the addition of the symbol label significantly improved the ability of participants to match their medication to the appropriate medical indication at a distance of two feet (p < 0.001) and approached significant improvement when placed directly in front of participants (p = 0.07).
The proposed medication symbol label system provides a promising adjunct to national efforts in addressing the issue of medication misuse in the home through the improvement of medication labeling. Further research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of the labeling system in real-world settings.
PMCID: PMC3282670  PMID: 22206490
Medication labeling; medication errors; medication adherence
9.  What factors affect patients' recall of general practitioners' advice? 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:141.
In order for patients to adhere to advice, provided by family doctors, they must be able to recall it afterwards. However, several studies have shown that most patients do not fully understand or memorize it. The aim of this study was to determine the influence of demographic characteristics, education, amount of given advice and the time between consultations on recalled advice.
A prospective survey, lasting 30 months, was conducted in an urban family practice in Slovenia. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify the risk factors for poorer recall.
250 patients (87.7% response rate) received at least one and up to four pieces of advice (2.4 ± 0.8). A follow-up consultation took place at 47.4 ± 35.2 days. The determinants of better recall were high school (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.15-0.99, p = 0.049) and college education (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.10-1.00, p = 0.050), while worse recall was determined by number of given instructions three or four (OR 26.1, 95% CI 3.15-215.24, p = 0.002; OR 56.8, 95% CI 5.91-546.12, p < 0.001, respectively) and re-test interval: 15-30 days (OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.06-10.13, p = 0.040), 31-60 days (OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.28-8.07, p = 0.013) and more than 60 days (OR 2.5, 95% CI 1.05-6.02, p = 0.038).
Education was an important determinant factor and warrants further study. Patients should be given no more than one or two instructions in a consultation. When more is needed, the follow-up should be within the next 14 days, and would be of a greater benefit to higher educated patients.
PMCID: PMC3264522  PMID: 22204743
10.  Obesity management and continuing medical education in primary care: results of a Swiss survey 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:140.
The worldwide increase in obesity is becoming a major health concern. General practitioners (GPs) play a central role in managing obesity. We aimed to examine Swiss GPs self-reported practice in diagnosis and treatment of obesity with a special focus on the performance of waist measurement.
A structured self-reported questionnaire was mailed to 323 GPs recruited from four urban physician networks in Switzerland. Measures included professional experience, type of practice, obesity-related continuing medical education (CME) and practice in dealing with obesity such as waist measurement. We assessed the association between the performance of waist measurement and obesity-related CME by multivariate ordered logistic regression controlling for GP characteristics as potential confounders.
A total of 187 GPs responded to the questionnaire. More than half of the GPs felt confident in managing obesity. The majority of the GPs (73%) spent less than 4 days in the last 5 years on obesity-related CME. More than half of GPs gave advice to reduce energy intakes (64%), intakes of high caloric and alcoholic drinks (56%) and to increase the physical activity (78%). Half of the GPs seldom performed waist measurement and documentation. The frequency of obesity-related CME was independently associated with the performance of waist measurement when controlled for GPs' characteristics by multivariate ordered logistic regression.
The majority of GPs followed guideline recommendations promoting physical activity and dietary counselling. We observed a gap between the increasing evidence for waist circumference assessment as an important measure in obesity management and actual clinical practice. Our data indicated that specific obesity-related CME might help to reduce this gap.
PMCID: PMC3268101  PMID: 22192159
11.  Disease management for co-morbid depression and anxiety in diabetes mellitus: design of a randomised controlled trial in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:139.
Depression and anxiety are common co-morbid health problems in patients with type 2 diabetes. Both depression and anxiety are associated with poor glycaemic control and increased risk of poor vascular outcomes and higher mortality rates. Results of previous studies have shown that in clinical practice, treatment of depression and anxiety is far from optimal as these symptoms are frequently overlooked and undertreated.
This randomised controlled trial will examine the effectiveness of a disease management programme treating symptoms of depression and anxiety in primary care patients with Type 2 diabetes. Patients will be randomized on patient level in 1:1 ratio. Random block sizes of 2 and 4 are used. The disease management programme consists of screening, stepped treatment and monitoring of symptoms (n = 80). This will be compared to care as usual (n = 80).
The disease management model for co-morbid depression and anxiety in primary care patients with diabetes is expected to result in reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, improved quality of life, reduced diabetes specific distress and improved glyceamic control, compared to care as usual.
Trial Registration
Dutch Trial Register NTR2626
PMCID: PMC3260091  PMID: 22171804
diabetes; depression; anxiety; primary care; study protocol; randomised controlled trial; disease management; stepped care; psychological intervention
12.  Identifying context factors explaining physician's low performance in communication assessment: an explorative study in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:138.
Communication is a key competence for health care professionals. Analysis of registrar and GP communication performance in daily practice, however, suggests a suboptimal application of communication skills. The influence of context factors could reveal why communication performance levels, on average, do not appear adequate. The context of daily practice may require different skills or specific ways of handling these skills, whereas communication skills are mostly treated as generic. So far no empirical analysis of the context has been made. Our aim was to identify context factors that could be related to GP communication.
A purposive sample of real-life videotaped GP consultations was analyzed (N = 17). As a frame of reference we chose the MAAS-Global, a widely used assessment instrument for medical communication. By inductive reasoning, we analyzed the GP behaviour in the consultation leading to poor item scores on the MAAS-Global. In these cases we looked for the presence of an intervening context factor, and how this might explain the actual GP communication behaviour.
We reached saturation after having viewed 17 consultations. We identified 19 context factors that could potentially explain the deviation from generic recommendations on communication skills. These context factors can be categorized into doctor-related, patient-related, and consultation-related factors.
Several context factors seem to influence doctor-patient communication, requiring the GP to apply communication skills differently from recommendations on communication. From this study we conclude that there is a need to explicitly account for context factors in the assessment of GP (and GP registrar) communication performance. The next step is to validate our findings.
PMCID: PMC3262758  PMID: 22166064
13.  Evaluation of job satisfaction of practice staff and general practitioners: an exploratory study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:137.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3271038  PMID: 22151354
14.  Measuring the burden of herpes zoster and post herpetic neuralgia within primary care in rural Crete, Greece 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:136.
Research has indicated that general practitioners (GPs) have good clinical judgment in regards to diagnosing and managing herpes zoster (HZ) within clinical practice in a country with limited resources for primary care and general practice. The objective of the current study was to assess the burden of HZ and post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) within rural general practices in Crete, Greece.
The current study took place within a rural setting in Crete, Greece during the period of November 2007 to November 2009 within the catchment area in which the Cretan Rural Practice-based Research Network is operating. In total 19 GP's from 14 health care units in rural Crete were invited to participate, covering a total turnover patient population of approximately 25, 000 subjects. For the purpose of this study an electronic record database was constructed and used as the main tool for monitoring HZ and PHN incidence. Stress related data was also collected with the use of the Short Anxiety Screening Test (SAST).
The crude incidence rate of HZ was 1.4/1000 patients/year throughout the entire network of health centers and satellite practices, while among satellite practices alone it was calculated at 1.3/1000 patients/year. Additionally, the standardised incidence density within satellite practices was calculated at 1.6/1000 patients/year. In regards to the stress associated with HZ and PHN, the latter were found to have lower levels of anxiety, as assessed through the SAST score (17.4 ± 3.9 vs. 21.1 ± 5.7; p = 0.029).
The implementation of an electronic surveillance system was feasible so as to measure the burden of HZ and PHN within the rural general practice setting in Crete.
PMCID: PMC3266196  PMID: 22145678
15.  Knowledge, attitudes, practices, and barriers reported by patients receiving diabetes and hypertension primary health care in Barbados: a focus group study 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:135.
Deficiencies in the quality of diabetes and hypertension primary care and outcomes have been documented in Barbados. This study aimed to explore the knowledge, attitudes and practices, and the barriers faced by people with diabetes and hypertension in Barbados that might contribute to these deficiencies.
Five structured focus groups were conducted for randomly selected people with diabetes and hypertension.
Twenty-one patients (5 diabetic, 5 hypertensive, and 11 with both diseases) with a mean age of 59 years attended 5 focus group sessions.
Patient factors that affected care included the difficulty in maintaining behaviour change. Practitioner factors included not considering the "whole person" and patient expectations, and not showing enough respect for patients. Health care system factors revolved around the amount of time spent accessing care because of long waiting times in public sector clinics and pharmacies. Society related barriers included the high cost and limited availability of appropriate food, the availability of exercise facilities, stigma of disease and difficulty taking time off work.
Attendees were not familiar with guidelines for diabetes and hypertension management, but welcomed a patient version detailing a place to record results, the frequency of tests, and blood pressure and blood glucose targets. Appropriate education from practitioners during consultations, while waiting in clinic, through support and education groups, and for the general public through the schools, mass media and billboards were recommended.
Primary care providers should take a more patient centred approach to the care of those with diabetes and hypertension. The care system should provide better service by reducing waiting times. Patient self-management could be encouraged by a patient version of care guidelines and greater educational efforts.
PMCID: PMC3282655  PMID: 22136415
16.  Child and adolescent mental health care in Dutch general practice: time trend analyses 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:133.
Because most children and adolescents visit their general practitioner (GP) regularly, general practice is a useful setting in which child and adolescent mental health problems can be identified, treated or referred to specialised care. Measures to strengthen Dutch primary mental health care have stimulated cooperation between primary and secondary mental health care and have led to an increase in the provision of social workers and primary care psychologists. These measures may have affected GPs' roles in child and adolescent mental health care. This study aims to investigate the identification and treatment of child and adolescent mental health problems in general practice over a five-year period (2004-2008).
Data of patients aged 0-18 years (N ranging from 37716 to 73432) were derived from electronic medical records of 42-82 Dutch general practices. Time trends in the prevalence of recorded mental health problems, prescriptions for psychotropic medication, and referrals to primary and secondary mental health care were analysed.
In 2008, 6.6% of children and 7.5% of adolescents were recorded as having mental health problems; 15.2% of these children and 29.4% of these adolescents were prescribed psychotropic medication; 18.9% of these children and 22.9% of these adolescents were referred, mainly to secondary mental health care. Between 2004 and 2008, the percentages of children (chi-square: 22.06; p < 0.001) and adolescents (chi-square: 9.15; p = 0.003) who were diagnosed with mental health problems increased. An increase was also found in the percentage of children who were prescribed psychostimulants (chi-square: 8.29; p = 0.004). Prescriptions for antidepressants decreased over time in both age groups (children: chi-square: 6.80; p = 0.009; adolescents: chi-square: 13.52; p < 0.001). The percentages of children who were referred to primary (chi-square: 6.98; p = 0.008) and secondary mental health care (chi-square: 5.76; p = 0.02) increased over the years, whereas no significant increase was found for adolescents.
Although GPs' identification of mental health problems and referrals to primary mental health care have increased, most referrals are still made to secondary care. To further strengthen primary mental health care, effective short-term interventions for child and adolescent mental health problems that can be applied in general practice need to be developed.
PMCID: PMC3267656  PMID: 22133283
17.  A mobile phone application for the assessment and management of youth mental health problems in primary care: a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:131.
Over 75% of mental health problems begin in adolescence and primary care has been identified as the target setting for mental health intervention by the World Health Organisation. The mobiletype program is a mental health assessment and management mobile phone application which monitors mood, stress, coping strategies, activities, eating, sleeping, exercise patterns, and alcohol and cannabis use at least daily, and transmits this information to general practitioners (GPs) via a secure website in summary format for medical review.
We conducted a randomised controlled trial in primary care to examine the mental health benefits of the mobiletype program. Patients aged 14 to 24 years were recruited from rural and metropolitan general practices. GPs identified and referred eligible participants (those with mild or more mental health concerns) who were randomly assigned to either the intervention group (where mood, stress, and daily activities were monitored) or the attention comparison group (where only daily activities were monitored). Both groups self-monitored for 2 to 4 weeks and reviewed the monitoring data with their GP. GPs, participants, and researchers were blind to group allocation at randomisation. Participants completed pre-, post-, and 6-week post-test measures of the Depression, Anxiety, Stress Scale and an Emotional Self Awareness (ESA) Scale.
Of the 163 participants assessed for eligibility, 118 were randomised and 114 participants were included in analyses (intervention group n = 68, comparison group n = 46). Mixed model analyses revealed a significant group by time interaction on ESA with a medium size of effect suggesting that the mobiletype program significantly increases ESA compared to an attention comparison. There was no significant group by time interaction for depression, anxiety, or stress, but a medium to large significant main effect for time for each of these mental health measures. Post-hoc analyses suggested that participation in the RCT lead to enhanced GP mental health care at pre-test and improved mental health outcomes.
Monitoring mental health symptoms appears to increase ESA and implementing a mental health program in primary care and providing frequent reminders, clinical resources, and support to GPs substantially improved mental health outcomes for the sample as a whole.
Trial Registration NCT00794222.
PMCID: PMC3247177  PMID: 22123031
18.  Incident somatic comorbidity after psychosis: results from a retrospective cohort study based on Flemish general practice data 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:132.
Psychotic conditions and especially schizophrenia, have been associated with increased morbidity and mortality. Many studies are performed in specialized settings with a strong focus on schizophrenia. Somatic comorbidity after psychosis is studied, using a general practice comorbidity registration network.
Hazard ratios are presented resulting from frailty models to assess the risk of subsequent somatic disease after a diagnosis of psychosis compared to people without psychosis matched on practice, age and gender. Diseases studied are cancer, physical trauma, diabetes mellitus, gastrointestinal disorders, joint disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, general infections, metabolic disorders other than diabetes, hearing and vision problems, anemia, cardiovascular disease, alcohol abuse, lung disorders, mouth and teeth problems, sexually transmitted diseases.
Significant higher risks after a diagnosis of psychosis were found for the emergence of diabetes, physical trauma, gastrointestinal disorders, alcohol abuse, chronic lung disease and teeth and mouth problems. With regard to diabetes, by including the type of antipsychotic medication it is clear that the significant overall effect was largely due to the use of atypical antipsychotic medication. No significant higher risk was seen for cancer, joint conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, general infections, other metabolic conditions, hearing/vision problems, anaemia, cardiovascular disease or diabetes, in case no atypical antipsychotic medication was used.
Significantly higher morbidity rates for some somatic conditions in patients with psychosis are apparent. People with a diagnosis of psychosis benefit from regular assessments for the emergence of somatic disorders and risk factors, including diabetes in case of atypical antipsychotic medication.
PMCID: PMC3248871  PMID: 22126584
19.  A cluster randomised pragmatic trial applying Self-determination theory to type 2 diabetes care in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:130.
Treatment recommendations for prevention of type 2 diabetes complications often require radical and life-long health behaviour changes. Observational studies based on Self-determination theory (SDT) propose substantial factors for the maintenance of behaviour changes and concomitant well-being, but experimental research is needed to develop and evaluate SDT-based interventions. The aims of this paper were to describe
1) the design of a trial assessing the effectiveness of a training course for practice-nurses in autonomy support on patient-perceived motivation, HbA1, cholesterol, and well-being among a diabetes population,
2) the actual intervention to a level of detail that allows its replication, and
3) the connection between SDT recommendations for health care-provider behaviour and the content of the training course.
The study is a cluster-randomised pragmatic trial including 40 Danish general practices with nurse-led diabetes consultations, and the associated diabetes population. The diabetes population was identified by registers (n = 4034).
The intervention was a 16-hour course with interactive training for practice nurses. The course was delivered over 4 afternoons at Aarhus University and one 1/2 hour visit to the practice by one of the course-teachers over a period of 10 months (0, 2, 5, 10 mths.). The intervention is depicted by a PaT Plot showing the timeline and the characteristics of the intervention components.
Effectiveness of the intervention will be assessed on the diabetes populations with regard to well-being (PAID, SF-12), HbA1c- and cholesterol-levels, perceived autonomy support (HCCQ), type of motivation (TSRQ), and perceived competence for diabetes care (PCD) 15-21 months after the core course; the completion of the second course afternoon. Data will be retrieved from registers and by questionnaires.
Challenges and advantages of the pragmatic design are discussed. In a real-world setting, this study will determine the impact on motivation, HbA1c, cholesterol, and well-being for people with diabetes by offering a training course in autonomy support to practice-nurses from general practices with nurse-led consultations.
Trial registration NCT01187069
PMCID: PMC3233508  PMID: 22111524
20.  The epidemiology and natural history of depressive disorders in Hong Kong's primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:129.
Depressive disorders are commonly managed in primary care and family physicians are ideally placed to serve as central providers to these patients. Around the world, the prevalence of depressive disorders in patients presenting to primary care is between 10-20%, of which around 50% remain undiagnosed. In Hong Kong, many barriers exist preventing the optimal treatment and management of patients with depressive disorders. The pathways of care, the long term outcomes and the factors affecting prognosis of these patients requires closer examination.
The aim of this study is to examine the prevalence, incidence and natural history of depressive disorders in primary care and the factors influencing diagnosis, management and outcomes using a cross-sectional study followed by a longitudinal cohort study.
Doctors working in primary care settings across Hong Kong have been invited to participate in this study. On one day each month over twelve months, patients in the doctor's waiting room are invited to complete a questionnaire containing items on socio-demography, co-morbidity, family history, previous doctor-diagnosed mental illness, recent mental and other health care utilization, symptoms of depression and health-related quality of life. Following the consultation, the doctors provide information regarding presenting problem, whether they think the patient has depression, and if so, whether the diagnosis is new or old, and the duration of the depressive illness if not a new diagnosis. If the doctor detects a depressive disorder, they are asked to provide information regarding patient management. Patients who consent are followed up by telephone at 2, 12, 26 and 52 weeks.
The study will provide information regarding cross-sectional prevalence, 12 month incidence, remission rate, outcomes and factors affecting outcomes of patients with depressive disorders in primary care. The epidemiology, outcomes, pathways of care, predictors for prognosis and service needs for primary care patients with depressive disorders will be described and recommendations made for policy and service planning.
PMCID: PMC3233512  PMID: 22112248
21.  Do guidelines on first impression make sense? Implementation of a chest pain guideline in primary care: a systematic evaluation of acceptance and feasibility 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:128.
Most guidelines concentrate on investigations, treatment, and monitoring instead of patient history and clinical examination. We developed a guideline that dealt with the different aetiologies of chest pain by emphasizing the patient's history and physical signs. The objective of this study was to evaluate the guideline's acceptance and feasibility in the context of a practice test.
The evaluation study was nested in a diagnostic cross-sectional study with 56 General Practitioners (GPs) and 862 consecutively recruited patients with chest pain. The evaluation of the guideline was conducted in a mixed method design on a sub-sample of 17 GPs and 282 patients. Physicians' evaluation of the guideline was assessed via standardized questionnaires and case record forms. Additionally, practice nursing staff and selected patients were asked for their evaluation of specific guideline modules. Quantitative data was analyzed descriptively for frequencies, means, and standard deviations. In addition, two focus groups with a total of 10 GPs were held to gain further insights in the guideline implementation process. The data analysis and interpretation followed the standards of the qualitative content analysis.
The overall evaluation of the GPs participating in the evaluation study regarding the recommendations made in the chest pain guideline was positive. A total of 14 GPs were convinced that there was a need for this kind of guideline and perceived the guideline recommendations as useful. While the long version was partially criticized for a perceived lack of clarity, the short version of the chest pain guideline and the heart score were especially appreciated by the GPs. However, change of clinical behaviour as consequence of the guideline was inconsistent. While on a concrete patient related level, GPs indicated to have behaved as the guideline recommended, the feedback on a more general level was heterogeneous. Several suggestions to improve guideline implementation were made by participating physicians. Due to the small number of practice nursing staff evaluating the flowchart and patients remembering the patient leaflet, no valid results regarding the flowchart and patient leaflet modules could be reported.
Overall, the participating GPs perceived the guideline recommendations as useful to increase awareness and to reflect on diagnostic issues. Although behaviour change in consequence of the guideline was not reported on a general level, guidelines on history taking and the clinical examination may serve an important conservative and practical function in a technology driven environment. Further research to increase the implementation success of the guideline should be undertaken.
PMCID: PMC3267789  PMID: 22103603
22.  Treatment of depressive disorders in primary care - protocol of a multiple treatment systematic review of randomized controlled trials 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:127.
Several systematic reviews have summarized the evidence for specific treatments of primary care patients suffering from depression. However, it is not possible to answer the question how the available treatment options compare with each other as review methods differ. We aim to systematically review and compare the available evidence for the effectiveness of pharmacological, psychological, and combined treatments for patients with depressive disorders in primary care.
To be included, studies have to be randomized trials comparing antidepressant medication (tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), hypericum extracts, other agents) and/or psychological therapies (e.g. interpersonal psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, behavioural therapy, short dynamically-oriented psychotherapy) with another active therapy, placebo or sham intervention, routine care or no treatment in primary care patients in the acute phase of a depressive episode. Main outcome measure is response after completion of acute phase treatment. Eligible studies will be identified from available systematic reviews, from searches in electronic databases (Medline, Embase and Central), trial registers, and citation tracking. Two reviewers will independently extract study data and assess the risk of bias using the Cochrane Collaboration's corresponding tool. Meta-analyses (random effects model, inverse variance weighting) will be performed for direct comparisons of single interventions and for groups of similar interventions (e.g. SSRIs vs. tricyclics) and defined time-windows (up to 3 months and above). If possible, a global analysis of the relative effectiveness of treatments will be estimated from all available direct and indirect evidence that is present in a network of treatments and comparisons.
Practitioners do not only want to know whether there is evidence that a specific treatment is more effective than placebo, but also how the treatment options compare to each other. Therefore, we believe that a multiple treatment systematic review of primary-care based randomized controlled trials on the most important therapies against depression is timely.
PMCID: PMC3226438  PMID: 22085705
23.  Evaluation of the implementation of an integrated primary care network for prevention and management of cardiometabolic risk in Montréal 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:126.
The goal of this project is to evaluate the implementation of an integrated and interdisciplinary program for prevention and management of cardiometabolic risk (PCMR). The intervention is based on the Chronic Care Model. The study will evaluate the implementation of the PCMR in 6 of the 12 health and social services centres (CSSS) in Montréal, and the effects of the PCMR on patients and the practice of their primary care physicians up to 40 months following implementation, as well as the sustainability of the program. Objectives are: 1-to evaluate the effects of the PCMR and their persistence on patients registered in the program and the practice of their primary care physicians, by implementation site and degree of exposure to the program; 2-to assess the degree of implementation of PCMR in each CSSS territory and identify related contextual factors; 3-to establish the relationships between the effects observed, the degree of PCMR implementation and the related contextual factors; 4-to assess the impact of the PCMR on strengthening local services networks.
The evaluation will use a mixed design that includes two complementary research strategies. The first strategy is similar to a quasi-experimental "before-after" design, based on a quantitative approach; it will look at the program's effects and their variations among the six territories. The effects analysis will use data from a clinical database and from questionnaires completed by participating patients and physicians. Over 3000 patients will be recruited. The second strategy corresponds to a multiple case study approach, where each of the six CSSS constitutes a case. With this strategy, qualitative methods will set out the context of implementation using data from semi-structured interviews with program managers. The quantitative data will be analyzed using linear or multilevel models complemented with an interpretive approach to qualitative data analysis.
Our study will identify contextual factors associated with the effectiveness, successful implementation and sustainability of such a program. The contextual information will enable us to extrapolate our results to other contexts with similar conditions.
Trial registration NCT01326130
PMCID: PMC3282661  PMID: 22074614
24.  Effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing in improving lipid level in patients with dyslipidemia assisted by general practitioners: Dislip-EM study protocol 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:125.
The non-pharmacological approach to cholesterol control in patients with hyperlipidemia is based on the promotion of a healthy diet and physical activity. Thus, to help patients change their habits, it is essential to identify the most effective approach. Many efforts have been devoted to explain changes in or adherence to specific health behaviors. Such efforts have resulted in the development of theories that have been applied in prevention campaigns, and that include brief advice and counseling services. Within this context, Motivational Interviewing has proven to be effective in changing health behaviors in specific cases. However, more robust evidence is needed on the effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing in treating chronic pathologies -such as dyslipidemia- in patients assisted by general practitioners. This article describes a protocol to assess the effectiveness of MI as compared with general practice (brief advice), with the aim of improving lipid level control in patients with dyslipidemia assisted by a general practitioner.
An open, two-arm parallel, multicentre, cluster, controlled, randomized, clinical trial will be performed. A total of 48-50 general practitioners from 35 public primary care centers in Spain will be randomized and will recruit 436 patients with dyslipidemia. They will perform an intervention based either on Motivational Interviewing or on the usual brief advice. After an initial assessment, follow-ups will be performed at 2, 4, 8 and 12 months. Primary outcomes are lipid levels (total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides) and cardiovascular risk. The study will assess the degree of dietary and physical activity improvement, weight loss in overweight patients, and adherence to treatment guidelines.
Motivational interview skills constitute the primary strategies GPs use to treat their patients. Having economical, simple, effective and applicable techniques is essential for primary care professionals to help their patients change their lifestyle and improve their health. This study will provide scientific evidence on the effectiveness of Motivational interviewing, and will be performed under strict control over the data collected, ensuring the maintenance of therapeutic integrity.
Trials Registration (NCT01282190).
PMCID: PMC3238296  PMID: 22054017
25.  Opportunities for primary and secondary prevention of excess gestational weight gain: General Practitioners' perspectives 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:124.
The impact of excess gestational weight gain (GWG) on maternal and child health outcomes is well documented. Understanding how health care providers view and manage GWG may assist with influencing healthy gestational weight outcomes. This study aimed to assess General Practitioner's (GPs) perspectives regarding the management and assessment of GWG and to understand how GPs can be best supported to provide healthy GWG advice to pregnant women.
Descriptive qualitative research methods utilising semi - structured interview questions to assess GPs perspectives and management of GWG. GPs participating in shared antenatal care in Geelong, Victoria and Sydney, New South Wales were invited to participate in semi - structured, individual interviews via telephone or in person. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data was analysed utilising thematic analysis for common emerging themes.
Twenty eight GPs participated, 14 from each state. Common themes emerged relating to awareness of the implications of excess GWG, advice regarding weight gain, regularity of gestational weighing by GPs, options for GPs to seek support to provide healthy lifestyle behaviour advice and barriers to engaging pregnant women about their weight. GPs perspectives concerning excess GWG were varied. They frequently acknowledged maternal and child health complications resulting from excess GWG yet weighing practices and GWG advice appeared to be inconsistent. The preferred support option to promote healthy weight was referral to allied health practitioners yet GPs noted that cost and limited access were barriers to achieving this.
GPs were aware of the importance of healthy GWG yet routine weighing was not standard practice for diverse reasons. Management of GWG and perspectives of the issue varied widely. Time efficient and cost effective interventions may assist GPs in ensuring women are supported in achieving healthy GWG to provide optimal maternal and infant health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3258202  PMID: 22050899
General Practitioner; Gestational weight gain; Pregnancy; Qualitative; Antenatal

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