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1.  Outcome and patients' satisfaction after functional treatment of acute lateral ankle injuries at emergency departments versus family doctor offices 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:69.
Background
In some Western countries, more and more patients seek initial treatment even for minor injuries at emergency units of hospitals. The initial evaluation and treatment as well as aftercare of these patients require large amounts of personnel and logistical resources, which are limited and costly, especially if compared to treatment by a general practitioner. In this study, we investigated whether outsourcing from our level 1 trauma center to a general practitioner has an influence on patient satisfaction and compliance.
Methods
This prospective, randomized study, included n = 100 patients who suffered from a lateral ankle ligament injury grade I-II (16, 17). After radiological exclusion of osseous lesions, the patients received early functional treatment and were shown physical therapy exercises to be done at home, without immobilization or the use of stabilizing ortheses. The patients were randomly assigned into two groups of 50 patients each: Group A (ER): Follow-up and final examination in the hospital's emergency unit. Group B (GP): Follow-up by general practitioner, final examination at hospital's emergency unit. The patients were surveyed regarding their satisfaction with the treatment and outcome of the treatment.
Results
Female and male patients were equally represented in both groups. The age of the patients ranged from 16 – 64 years, with a mean age of 34 years (ER) and 35 years (GP). 98% (n = 98) of all patients were satisfied with their treatment, and 93% (n = 93) were satisfied with the outcome. For these parameters no significant difference between the two groups could be noted (p = 0.7406 and 0.7631 respectively). 39% of all patients acquired stabilizing ortheses like ankle braces (Aircast, Malleoloc etc.) on their own initiative. There was a not significant tendency for more self-acquired ortheses in the group treated by general practicioners (p = 0,2669).
Conclusion
Patients who first present at the ER with a lateral ankle ligament injury grade I-II can be referred to a general practitioner for follow-up treatment without affecting patient satisfaction regarding treatment and treatment outcome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-69
PMCID: PMC2631016  PMID: 19105803
2.  Responses to language barriers in consultations with refugees and asylum seekers: a telephone survey of Irish general practitioners 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:68.
Background
Refugees and asylum seekers experience language barriers in general practice. Qualitative studies have found that responses to language barriers in general practice are ad hoc with use of both professional interpreters and informal interpreters (patients' relatives or friends). However, the scale of the issues involved is unknown. This study quantifies the need for language assistance in general practice consultations and examines the experience of, and satisfaction with, methods of language assistance utilized.
Methods
Data were collected by telephone survey with general practitioners in a regional health authority in Ireland between July-August 2004. Each respondent was asked a series of questions about consulting with refugees and asylum seekers, the need for language assistance and the kind of language assistance used.
Results
There was a 70% (n = 56/80) response rate to the telephone survey. The majority of respondents (77%) said that they had experienced consultations with refugees and asylum seekers in which language assistance was required. Despite this, general practitioners in the majority of cases managed without an interpreter or used informal methods of interpretation. In fact, when given a choice general practitioners would more often choose informal over professional methods of interpretation despite the fact that confidentiality was a significant concern.
Conclusion
The need for language assistance in consultations with refugees and asylum seekers in Irish general practice is high. General practitioners rely on informal responses. It is necessary to improve knowledge about the organisational contexts that shape general practitioners responses. We also recommend dialogue between general practitioners, patients and interpreters about the relative merits of informal and professional methods of interpretation so that general practitioners' choices are responsive to the needs of patients with limited English.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-68
PMCID: PMC2637872  PMID: 19102735
3.  Three years follow-up of screen-detected diabetic and non-diabetic subjects: who is better off? The ADDITION Netherlands study 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:67.
Background
People with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia might be at risk of lacking adequate control for cardiovascular risk factors. Our aim was to determine the extent of health care utilization and provision in primary care and to evaluate the risk of cardiovascular disease in persons with an elevated risk score in a stepwise diabetes screening programme.
Methods
A total of 56,978 non-diabetic patients, aged 50–70 years, from 79 practices in the Netherlands were invited to participate in a screening programme starting with a questionnaire. Those with an elevated score, underwent further glucose testing. Screened participants with type 2 diabetes (n = 64), impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) (n = 62), impaired fasting glucose (IFG) (n = 86), and normal glucose tolerance (NGT) (n = 142) were compared after three years regarding use of medication, care provider encounters and occurrence of CVD.
Results
In all glucose regulation categories cardiovascular medication was prescribed more frequently during follow-up with the strongest increase in diabetic patients. Number of practice visits was higher in diabetic patients compared to those in the other categories. Glucose, lipids, and blood pressure were measured most frequently in diabetic patients. Numbers of cardiovascular events in participants with NGT, IFG, IGT and diabetes were 16.7, 32.6, 17.3 and 15.7 per 1,000 person-years (non significant), respectively.
Conclusion
After three years of follow-up, screened non-diabetic participants with an elevated risk score had cardiovascular event rates comparable with diabetic patients. Screened non-diabetic persons are at risk of lacking optimal control for cardiovascular risk factors while screen-detected diabetic patients were controlled adequately.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-67
PMCID: PMC2626593  PMID: 19087327
4.  The role of the General Practitioner in weight management in primary care – a cross sectional study in General Practice 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:66.
Background
Obesity has become a global pandemic, considered the sixth leading cause of mortality by the WHO. As gatekeepers to the health system, General Practitioners are placed in an ideal position to manage obesity. Yet, very few consultations address weight management. This study aims to explore reasons why patients attending General Practice appointments are not engaging with their General Practitioner (GP) for weight management and their perception of the role of the GP in managing their weight.
Methods
In February 2006, 367 participants aged between 17 and 64 were recruited from three General Practices in Melbourne to complete a waiting room self – administered questionnaire. Questions included basic demographics, the role of the GP in weight management, the likelihood of bringing up weight management with their GP and reasons why they would not, and their nominated ideal person to consult for weight management. Physical measurements to determine weight status were then completed. The statistical methods included means and standard deviations to summarise continuous variables such as weight and height. Sub groups of weight and questionnaire answers were analysed using the χ2 test of significant differences taking p as < 0.05.
Results
The population sample had similar obesity co-morbidity rates to the National Heart Foundation data. 74% of patients were not likely to bring up weight management when they visit their GP. Negative reasons were time limitation on both the patient's and doctor's part and the doctor lacking experience. The GP was the least likely person to tell a patient to lose weight after partner, family and friends. Of the 14% that had been told by their GP to lose weight, 90% had cardiovascular obesity related co-morbidities. GPs (15%) were 4th in the list of ideal persons to manage weight after personal trainer
Conclusion
Patients do not have confidence in their GPs for weight management, preferring other health professionals who may lack evidence based training. Concurrently, GPs target only those with obesity related co-morbidities. Further studies evaluating GPs' opinions about weight management, effective strategies that can be implemented in primary care and the co-ordination of the team approach need to be done.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-66
PMCID: PMC2614998  PMID: 19077319
5.  What are the roles involved in establishing and maintaining informational continuity of care within family practice? A systematic review 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:65.
Background
Central to establishing continuity of care is the development of a relationship between doctor and patient/caregiver. Transfer of information between these parties facilitates the development of continuity in general; and specifically informational continuity of care. We conducted a systematic review of published literature to gain a better understanding of the roles that different parties – specifically doctors, patients, family caregivers, and technology – play in establishing and maintaining informational continuity of care within family practice.
Methods
Relevant published articles were sought from five databases. Accepted articles were reviewed and appraised in a consistent way. Fifty-six articles were retained following title and abstract reviews. Of these, 28 were accepted for this review.
Results
No articles focused explicitly on the roles involved in establishing or maintaining informational continuity of care within family practice. Most informational continuity of care literature focused on the transfer of information between settings and not at the first point of contact. Numerous roles were, however, were interpreted using the data extracted from reviewed articles. Doctors are responsible for record keeping, knowing patients' histories, recalling accumulated knowledge, and maintaining confidentiality. Patients are responsible for disclosing personal and health details, transferring information to other practitioners (including new family doctors), and establishing trust. Both are responsible for developing a relationship of trust. Technology is an important tool of informational continuity of care through holding important information, providing search functions, and providing a space for recorded information. There is a significant gap in our knowledge about the roles that family caregivers play.
Conclusion
The number of roles identified and the interrelationships between them indicates that establishing and maintaining informational continuity of care within family practice is a complex and multifaceted process. This synthesis of roles provided serves as an important resource for continuity of care researchers in general, for the development of continuity of care quality indicators, and for the practice of family medicine.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-65
PMCID: PMC2626592  PMID: 19068124
6.  Optimizing the diagnostic work-up of acute uncomplicated urinary tract infections 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:64.
Background
Most diagnostic tests for acute uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) have been previously studied in so-called single-test evaluations. In practice, however, clinicians use more than one test in the diagnostic work-up. Since test results carry overlapping information, results from single-test studies may be confounded. The primary objective of the Amsterdam Cystitis/Urinary Tract Infection Study (ACUTIS) is to determine the (additional) diagnostic value of relevant tests from patient history and laboratory investigations, taking into account their mutual dependencies. Consequently, after suitable validation, an easy to use, multivariable diagnostic rule (clinical index) will be derived.
Methods
Women who contact their GP with painful and/or frequent micturition undergo a series of possibly relevant tests, consisting of patient history questions and laboratory investigations. Using urine culture as the reference standard, two multivariable models (diagnostic indices) will be generated: a model which assumes that patients attend the GP surgery and a model based on telephone contact only. Models will be made more robust using the bootstrap. Discrimination will be visualized in high resolution histograms of the posterior UTI probabilities and summarized as 5th, 10th, 25th 50th, 75th, 90th, and 95th centiles of these, Brier score and the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (ROC) with 95% confidence intervals. Using the regression coefficients of the independent diagnostic indicators, a diagnostic rule will be derived, consisting of an efficient set of tests and their diagnostic values.
The course of the presenting complaints is studied using 7-day patient diaries. To learn more about the natural history of UTIs, patients will be offered the opportunity to postpone the use of antibiotics.
Discussion
We expect that our diagnostic rule will allow efficient diagnosis of UTIs, necessitating the collection of diagnostic indicators with proven added value. GPs may use the rule (preferably after suitable validation) to estimate UTI probabilities for women with different combinations of test results. Finally, in a subcohort, an attempt is made to identify which indicators (including antibiotic treatment) are useful to prognosticate recovery from painful and/or frequent micturition.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-64
PMCID: PMC2607275  PMID: 19063737
7.  Differences in referral rates to specialised health care from four primary health care models in Klaipeda, Lithuania 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:63.
Background
Lithuanian primary health care (PHC) is undergoing changes from the systems prevalent under the Soviet Union, which ensured free access to specialised health care. Currently four different PHC models work in parallel, which offers the opportunity to study their respective effect on referral rates. Our aim was to investigate whether there were differences in referrals rates from different Lithuanian PHC models in Klaipeda after adjustment for co-morbidity.
Methods
The population listed with 18 PHC practices serving inhabitants in Klaipeda city and region (250 070 inhabitants). Four PHC models: rural state-owned family medicine practices, urban privately owned family medicine practices, state-owned polyclinics and privately owned polyclinics. Information on listed patients and referrals during 2005 from each PHC practice in Klaipeda was obtained from the Lithuanian State Sickness Fund database. The database records included information on age, gender, PHC model, referrals and ICD 10 diagnoses. The Johns Hopkins ACG Case-Mix system was used to study co-morbidity. Referral rates from different PHC models were studied using Poisson regression models.
Results
Patients listed with rural state-owned family medicine practices had a significantly lower referral rate to specialised health care than those in the other three PHC models. An increasing co-morbidity level correlated with a higher physician- to self-referral ratio.
Conclusion
Family medicine practices located in rural-, but not in urban areas had significantly lower referral rates to specialised health care. It could not be established whether this was due to organisation, training of physicians or financing, but suggests there is room for improving primary health care in urban areas. Patient's place of residence and co morbidity level were the most important factors for referral rate. We also found that gatekeeping had an effect on the referral pattern with respect to co-morbidity level, so that those with a physician referral were more likely to have had higher co-morbidity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-63
PMCID: PMC2612663  PMID: 19032796
8.  The management of non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) in Australian general practice: bridging the evidence-practice gap. A national, representative postal survey 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:62.
Background
General practitioners (GPs) are ideally placed to bridge the widely noted evidence-practice gap between current management of NVAF and the need to increase anticoagulant use to reduce the risk of fatal and disabling stroke in NVAF. We aimed to identify gaps in current care, and asked GPs to identify potentially useful strategies to overcome barriers to best practice.
Methods
We obtained contact details for a random sample of 1000 GPs from a national commercial data-base. Randomly selected GPs were mailed a questionnaire after an advance letter. Standardised reminders were administered to enhance response rates. As part of a larger survey assessing GP management of NVAF, we included questions to explore GPs' risk assessment, estimates of stroke risk and GPs' perceptions of the risks and benefits of anticoagulation with warfarin. In addition, we explored GPs' perceived barriers to the wider uptake of anticoagulation, quality control of anticoagulation and their assessment of strategies to assist in managing NVAF.
Results
596 out of 924 eligible GPs responded (64.4% response rate). The majority of GPs recognised that the benefits of warfarin outweighed the risks for three case scenarios in which warfarin is recommended according to Australian guidelines. In response to a hypothetical case scenario describing a patient with a supratherapeutic INR level of 5, 41.4% of the 596 GPs (n = 247) and 22.0% (n = 131) would be "highly likely" or "likely", respectively, to cease warfarin therapy and resume at a lower dose when INR levels are within therapeutic range. Only 27.9% (n = 166/596) would reassess the patient's INR levels within one day of recording the supratherapeutic INR. Patient contraindications to warfarin was reported to "usually" or "always" apply to the patients of 40.6% (n = 242/596) of GPs when considering whether or not to prescribe warfarin. Patient refusal to take warfarin "usually" or "always" applied to the patients of 22.3% (n = 133/596) of GPs. When asked to indicate the usefulness of strategies to assist in managing NVAF, the majority of GPs (89.1%, n = 531/596) reported that they would find patient educational resources outlining the benefits and risks of available treatments "quite useful" or "very useful". Just under two-thirds (65.2%; n = 389/596) reported that they would find point of care INR testing "quite" or "very" useful. An outreach specialist service and training to enable GPs to practice stroke medicine as a special interest were also considered to be "quite" or "very useful" by 61.9% (n = 369/596) GPs.
Conclusion
This survey identified gaps, based on GP self-report, in the current care of NVAF. GPs themselves have provided guidance on the selection of implementation strategies to bridge these gaps. These results may inform future initiatives designed to reduce the risk of fatal and disabling stroke in NVAF.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-62
PMCID: PMC2611987  PMID: 19014560
9.  Improved persistence and adherence to diuretic fixed-dose combination therapy compared to diuretic monotherapy 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:61.
Background
Diuretics are recommended as initial treatment for hypertension. Several studies have suggested suboptimal persistence and adherence to thiazide diuretic monotherapy; this study compared patient persistence and adherence with hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) monotherapy to fixed-dose combinations containing HCTZ.
Methods
Patients with at least one prescription claim during 2001 to 2003 for either HCTZ or one of the following fixed-dose combinations: angiotensin-receptor blockers/HCTZ (ARB/HCTZ), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor/HCTZ (ACEI/HCTZ), or beta blockers/HCTZ (BB/HCTZ) were identified. Patients were required to be continuously benefit-eligible six months pre- and one year post-index date, and to have no prescription claims for any antihypertensive therapy six months prior to the index date. Patients were followed for one year to assess persistence, medication possession ratio (MPR), adherence (MPR >80%), and proportion of days covered (PDC) with initial antihypertensive therapy. Logistic regression was used to calculate adjusted odds ratios for persistence, adherence and PDC, adjusted for age, gender, business segment, RxRisk disease categories, average co-pay and concurrent cardiovascular-related medication utilization.
Results
The study cohort consisted of 48,212 patients; 72.5% used HCTZ, 13.2% ACEI/HCTZ, 9.3% ARB/HCTZ, and 5.0% BB/HCTZ. Mean age was 53.7 years and 66.5% were female. A significantly lower proportion of patients using HCTZ (29.9%) remained persistent with therapy at 12 months compared with ARB/HCTZ (52.6%; OR = 0.37, CI = 0.36, 0.38), ACEI/HCTZ (51.4%; OR = 0.38, CI = 0.37, 0.39), and BB/HCTZ (51.9%; OR = 0.38, 0.37, 0.40). Similarly, PDC was lower for HCTZ patients (32.5%) as compared to ARB/HCTZ (53.7%; OR = 0.39, CI = 0.37, 0.40), ACEI/HCTZ (50.9%; OR = 0.42, CI = 0.40, 0.43), and BB/HCTZ (51.3%; OR = 0.44, CI 0.42, 0.45). MPR was also significantly lower for HCTZ patients as compared to those using fixed-dose combination therapies.
Conclusion
Initiating HCTZ fixed-dose combination therapy with an ACEI, ARB, or BB was associated with greater persistence and adherence as compared to HCTZ monotherapy. Further research is needed to determine the relationship between improved persistence and adherence with blood pressure control.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-61
PMCID: PMC2588442  PMID: 18990240
10.  Ischemic heart disease and primary care: identifying gender-related differences. An observational study 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:60.
Background
Gender-related differences are seen in multiple aspects of both health and illness. Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is a pathology in which diagnostic, treatment and prognostic differences are seen between sexes, especially in the acute phase and in the hospital setting. The objective of the present study is to analyze whether there are differences between men and women when examining associated cardiovascular risk factors and secondary pharmacological prevention in the primary care setting.
Methods
Retrospective descriptive observational study from January to December of 2006, including 1907 patients diagnosed with ischemic heart disease in the city of Lleida, Spain. The clinical data were obtained from computerized medical records and pharmaceutical records of medications dispensed in pharmacies with official prescriptions. Data was analyzed using bivariate descriptive statistical analysis as well as logistic regression.
Results
There were no gender-related differences in screening percentages for arterial hypertension, diabetes, obesity, dyslipemia, and smoking. A greater percentage of women were hypertensive, obese and diabetic compared to men. However, men showed a tendency to achieve control targets more easily than women, with no statistically significant differences. In both sexes cardiovascular risk factors control was inadequate, between 10 and 50%. For secondary pharmaceutical prevention, the percentages of prescriptions were greater in men for anticoagulants, beta-blockers, lipid-lowering agents and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin II receptor blockers, with age group variations up to 10%. When adjusting by age and specific diagnoses, differences were maintained for anticoagulants and lipid-lowering agents.
Conclusion
Screening of cardiovascular risk factors was similar in men and women with IHD. Although a greater percentage of women were hypertensive, diabetic or obese, their management of risk factors tended to be worse than men. Overall, a poor control of cardiovascular risk factors was noted.
Taken as a whole, more men were prescribed secondary prevention drugs, with differences varying by age group and IHD diagnosis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-60
PMCID: PMC2584632  PMID: 18973693
11.  Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of sublingual immunotherapy in children with house dust mite allergy in primary care: study design and recruitment 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:59.
Background
For respiratory allergic disorders in children, sublingual immunotherapy has been developed as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy is more convenient, has a good safety profile and might be an attractive option for use in primary care. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study was designed to establish the efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy with house dust mite allergen compared to placebo treatment in 6 to18-year-old children with allergic rhinitis and a proven house dust mite allergy in primary care. Described here are the methodology, recruitment phases, and main characteristics of the recruited children.
Methods
Recruitment took place in September to December of 2005 and 2006. General practitioners (in south-west Netherlands) selected children who had ever been diagnosed with allergic rhinitis. Children and parents could respond to a postal invitation. Children who responded positively were screened by telephone using a nasal symptom score. After this screening, an inclusion visit took place during which a blood sample was taken for the RAST test.
Results
A total of 226 general practitioners invited almost 6000 children: of these, 51% was male and 40% <12 years of age. The target sample size was 256 children; 251 patients were finally included. The most frequent reasons given for not participating were: absence or mildness of symptoms, absence of house dust mite allergy, and being allergic to grass pollen or tree pollen only. Asthma symptoms were reported by 37% of the children. Of the enrolled children, 71% was sensitized to both house dust mite and grass pollen. Roughly similar proportions of children were diagnosed as being sensitized to one, two, three or four common inhalant allergens.
Conclusion
Our study was designed in accordance with recent recommendations for research on establishing the efficacy of sublingual immunotherapy; 98% of the target sample size was achieved. This study is expected to provide useful information on sublingual immunotherapy with house dust mite allergen in primary care. The results on efficacy and safety are expected to be available by 2010.
Trial registration
the trial is registered as ISRCTN91141483 (Dutch Trial Register)
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-59
PMCID: PMC2577674  PMID: 18937864
12.  Lifestyle counseling in hypertension-related visits – analysis of video-taped general practice visits 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:58.
Background
The general practitioner (GP) can play an important role in promoting a healthy lifestyle, which is especially relevant in people with an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases due to hypertension. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine the frequency and content of lifestyle counseling about weight loss, nutrition, physical activity, and smoking by GPs in hypertension-related visits. A distinction was made between the assessment of lifestyle (gathering information or measuring weight or waist circumference) and giving lifestyle advice (giving a specific advice to change the patient's behavior or referring the patient to other sources of information or other health professionals).
Methods
For this study, we observed 212 video recordings of hypertension-related visits collected within the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice in 2000/2001.
Results
The mean duration of visits was 9.8 minutes (range 2.5 to 30 minutes). In 40% of the visits lifestyle was discussed (n = 84), but in 81% of these visits this discussion lasted shorter than a quarter of the visit. An assessment of lifestyle was made in 77 visits (36%), most commonly regarding body weight and nutrition. In most cases the patient initiated the discussion about nutrition and physical activity, whereas the assessment of weight and smoking status was mostly initiated by the GP. In 35 visits (17%) the GP gave lifestyle advice, but in only one fifth of these visits the patient's motivation or perceived barriers for changing behavior were assessed. Supporting factors were not discussed at all.
Conclusion
In 40% of the hypertension-related visits lifestyle topics were discussed. However, both the frequency and quality of lifestyle advice can be improved.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-58
PMCID: PMC2577675  PMID: 18854020
13.  Reducing unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics for acute cough: Adaptation of a leaflet aimed at Turkish immigrants in Germany 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:57.
Background
The reduction in the number of unnecessary prescriptions of antibiotics has become one of the most important objectives for primary health care. German GPs report that they are under "pressure to prescribe" antibiotics particularly in consultations with Turkish immigrants. And so a qualitative approach was used to learn more about the socio-medical context of Turkish patients in regard to acute coughs. A German leaflet designed to improve the doctor-patient communication has been positively tested and then adapted for Turkish patients.
Methods
The original leaflet was first translated into Turkish. Then 57 patients belonging to 8 different GPs were interviewed about the leaflet using a semi-standardised script. The material was audio recorded, fully transcribed, and analysed by three independent researchers. As a first step a comprehensive content analysis was performed. Secondly, elements crucial to any Turkish version of the leaflet were identified.
Results
The interviews showed that the leaflets' messages were clearly understood by all patients irrespective of age, gender, and educational background. We identified no major problems in the perception of the translated leaflet but identified several minor points which could be improved. We found that patients were starting to reconsider their attitudes after reading the leaflet.
Conclusion
The leaflet successfully imparted relevant and new information to the target patients. A qualitative approach is a feasible way to prove general acceptance and provides additional information for its adaptation to medico-cultural factors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-57
PMCID: PMC2577089  PMID: 18847464
14.  The accuracy of symptoms, signs and diagnostic tests in the diagnosis of left ventricular dysfunction in primary care: A diagnostic accuracy systematic review 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:56.
Background
To assess the accuracy of findings from the clinical history, symptoms, signs and diagnostic tests (ECG, CXR and natriuretic peptides) in relation to the diagnosis of left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD) in a primary care setting.
Methods
Diagnostic accuracy systematic review, we searched Medline (1966 to March 2008), EMBASE (1988 to March 2008), Central, Cochrane and ZETOC using a diagnostic accuracy search filter. We included cross-sectional or cohort studies that assess the diagnostic utility of clinical history, symptoms, signs and diagnostic tests, against a reference standard of echocardiography. We calculated pooled positive and negative likelihood ratios and assessed heterogeneity using the I2 index.
Results
24 studies incorporating 10,710 patients were included. The median prevalence of LVSD was 29.9% (inter-quartile range 14% to 37%). No item from the clinical history or symptoms provided sufficient diagnostic information to "rule in" or "rule out" LVSD. Displaced apex beat shows a convincing diagnostic effect with a pooled positive likelihood ratio of 16.0 (8.2–30.9) but this finding occurs infrequently in patients. ECG was the most widely studied diagnostic test, the negative likelihood ratio ranging from 0.06 to 0.6. Natriuretic peptide results were strongly heterogeneous, with negative likelihood ratios ranging from 0.02 to 0.80.
Conclusion
Findings from the clinical history and examination are insufficient to "rule in" or "rule out" a diagnosis of LVSD in primary care settings. BNP and ECG measurement appear to have similar diagnostic utility and are most useful in "ruling out" LVSD with a normal test result when the probability of LVSD is in the intermediate range.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-56
PMCID: PMC2569936  PMID: 18842141
15.  Is there a need for a GP consultant at a university hospital? 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:55.
Background
Patients in hospital can develop complaints unrelated to the condition they are admitted for. The treating specialist will then call upon a co-specialist who is specialized in the clinical picture associated with the new complaint. For such a complaint, the GP is usually the first contact, when the patient is not in hospital. Normally specialists only encounter patients GPs have selected for referral. The risk of the specialist overestimating the predictive value of 'unselected' complaints and symptoms of a serious condition is high. This may lead to an overuse of diagnostic treatments. Such treatments weigh more heavily on the patient, cause inadequate use of hospital facilities and, as a consequence, generate higher costs.
Because of these considerations, we wished to investigate if there is a need for the GP as a consultant for new complaints during hospital admittance.
Method
The files of a random sample of patients who had an interdisciplinary consultation during their stay in hospital were judged by an expertpanel whether the consultation fitted the expertise of a GP.
Results
In 28 out of 84 files the consultation fitted the expertise of a GP; most cases concerned a specific condition that is not part of the specialist's expertise, most frequently dermatological problems. In a minority of cases the specialist is confronted with a clinical problem with symptoms of which the cause is not clear, for example fever.
Conclusion
Generally, the consultations concern serious, often very complex conditions, i.e. cases that should be assessed by a specialist. Nevertheless, the expert panel's judgment of the interdisciplinary consultations shows that in more than half of the dermatological cases and in a limited number of consultations by a specialist of internal medicine and geriatrics the problems fit the GP's expertise.
Given the morbidity in academic hospitals we suppose that the results of a similar study in a peripheral hospital might even show more perspective for a GP consultant. These results offer sufficient arguments to start a pilotstudy into the role of a GP consultant in hospital.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-55
PMCID: PMC2564948  PMID: 18823571
16.  Italian network for obesity and cardiovascular disease surveillance: A pilot project 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:53.
Background
Also in Mediterranean countries, which are considered a low risk population for cardiovascular disease (CVD), the increase in body mass index (BMI) has become a public health priority. To evaluate the feasibility of a CVD and obesity surveillance network, forty General Practitioners (GPs) were engaged to perform a screening to assess obesity, cardiovascular risk, lifestyle habits and medication use.
Methods
A total of 1,046 women and 1,044 men aged 35–74 years were randomly selected from GPs' lists stratifying by age decade and gender. Anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were performed by GPs using standardized methodologies. BMI was computed and categorized in normal weight (BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m2), overweight (BMI 25.0–29.9 kg/m2) and obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). Food frequency (per day: fruits and vegetables; per week: meat, cheese, fish, pulses, chocolate, fried food, sweet, wholemeal food, rotisserie food and sugar drink) and physical activity (at work and during leisure time) were investigated through a questionnaire. CVD risk was assessed using the Italian CUORE Project risk function.
Results
The percentage of missing values was very low. Prevalence of overweight was 34% in women and 50% in men; prevalence of obesity was 23% in both men and women. Level of physical activity was mostly low or very low. BMI was inversely associated with consumption of pulses, rotisserie food, chocolate, sweets and physical activity during leisure time and directly associated with consumption of meat. Mean value of total cardiovascular risk was 4% in women and 11% in men. One percent of women and 16% of men were at high cardiovascular risk (≥ 20% in 10 years). Normal weight persons were four times more likely to be at low risk than obese persons.
Conclusion
This study demonstrated the feasibility of a surveillance network of GPs in Italy focusing on obesity and other CVD risk factors. It also provided information on lifestyle habits, such as diet and physical activity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-53
PMCID: PMC2569935  PMID: 18823526
17.  Setting up a Paediatric Rapid Access Outpatient Unit: Views of general practice teams 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:54.
Background
Rapid Access Outpatient Units (RAOUs) have been suggested as an alternative to hospital inpatient units for the management of some acutely unwell children. These units can provide ambulatory care, delivered close to home, and may prevent unnecessary hospital admission. There are no qualitative data on the views of primary care practitioners regarding these types of facilities. The aim of the study was to explore the opinions of primary care practitioners regarding a newly established RAOU.
Methods
The RAOU was established locally at a district general hospital when inpatient beds were closed and moved to an inpatient centre, based six miles away at the tertiary teaching hospital.
Qualitative, practice based group interviews with primary care practitioners (general practitioners (GPs), nurse practitioners and practice nurses) on their experiences of the RAOU. The data collection consisted of three practice based interviews with 14 participants. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic content analysis was used to evaluate the data.
Results
There was positive feedback regarding ease of telephone access for referral, location, and the value of a service staffed by senior doctors where children could be observed, investigated and discharged quickly. There was confusion regarding the referral criteria for the assessment unit and where to send certain children. A majority of the practitioners felt the utility of the RAOU was restricted by its opening hours. Most participants felt they lacked sufficient information regarding the remit and facilities of the unit and this led to some uneasiness regarding safety and long term sustainability.
Conclusion
Practitioners considered that the RAOU offered a rapid senior opinion, flexible short term observation, quick access to investigations and was more convenient for patients. There were concerns regarding opening hours, safety of patients and lack of information about the unit's facilities. There was confusion about which children should be sent to the unit. This study raises questions regarding policy in regard to the organisation of paediatric services. It highlights that when establishing alternative services to local inpatient units, continual communication and engagement of primary care is essential if the units are to function effectively.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-54
PMCID: PMC2566556  PMID: 18823553
18.  Leaders, leadership and future primary care clinical research 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:52.
Background
A strong and self confident primary care workforce can deliver the highest quality care and outcomes equitably and cost effectively. To meet the increasing demands being made of it, primary care needs its own thriving research culture and knowledge base.
Methods
Review of recent developments supporting primary care clinical research.
Results
Primary care research has benefited from a small group of passionate leaders and significant investment in recent decades in some countries. Emerging from this has been innovation in research design and focus, although less is known of the effect on research output.
Conclusion
Primary care research is now well placed to lead a broad re-vitalisation of academic medicine, answering questions of relevance to practitioners, patients, communities and Government. Key areas for future primary care research leaders to focus on include exposing undergraduates early to primary care research, integrating this early exposure with doctoral and postdoctoral research career support, further expanding cross disciplinary approaches, and developing useful measures of output for future primary care research investment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-52
PMCID: PMC2565662  PMID: 18822178
19.  Familiarity between patient and general practitioner does not influence the content of the consultation 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:51.
Background
Personal continuity in general practice is considered to be a prerequisite of high quality patient care based on shared knowledge and mutual understanding. Not much is known about how personal continuity is reflected in the content of GP – patient communication. We explored whether personal continuity of care influences the content of communication during the consultation.
Methods
Personal continuity was defined as the degree of familiarity between GP and patient, rated by both the GP and the patient. 394 videotaped consultations between GPs and patients aged 18 years and older were analyzed. GP – patient communication was evaluated with an observation checklist, which rated the following topics of conversation: (1) medical issues, (2) psychological themes, and (3) the social environment of the patient. For each of these topics we coded whether or not it received attention, and was built upon prior knowledge. Data were analyzed using multilevel logistic regression analyses.
Results
No relationship was found between GP – patient familiarity and the discussion of medical issues, psychological themes, or the social environment of the patient. But if the patient and the GP knew each other very well, the GP more often displayed prior knowledge with the topic in question. Few patient and GP characteristics were associated with differences in content of communication.
Conclusion
Given the relatively small sample size, we carefully conclude that familiarity between a GP and a patient does not influence the content of the communication (medical issues, psychological themes nor topics relating to the social environment). This is remarkable because we expected that familiarity would 'open up the communication' for more psychological and social themes. GPs seem to have the communication skills to put both familiar and non-familiar patients at ease enabling them to freely raise any issue they think necessary.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-51
PMCID: PMC2566977  PMID: 18816369
20.  Ambivalence related to potential lifestyle changes following preventive cardiovascular consultations in general practice: A qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:50.
Background
Motivational interviewing approaches are currently recommended in primary prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in general practice in Denmark, based on an empirical and multidisciplinary body of scientific knowledge about the importance of motivation for successful lifestyle change among patients at risk of lifestyle related diseases. This study aimed to explore and describe motivational aspects related to potential lifestyle changes among patients at increased risk of CVD following preventive consultations in general practice.
Methods
Individual interviews with 12 patients at increased risk of CVD within 2 weeks after the consultation. Grounded theory was used in the analysis.
Results
Ambivalence related to potential lifestyle changes was the core motivational aspect in the interviews, even though the patients rarely verbalised this experience during the consultations. The patients experienced ambivalence in the form of conflicting feelings about lifestyle change. Analysis showed that these feelings interacted with their reflections in a concurrent process. Analysis generated a typology of five different ambivalence sub-types: perception, demand, information, priority and treatment ambivalence.
Conclusion
Ambivalence was a common experience in relation to motivation among patients at increased risk of CVD. Five different ambivalence sub-types were found, which clinicians may use to explore and resolve ambivalence in trying to aid patients to adopt lifestyle changes. Future research is needed to explore whether motivational interviewing and other cognitive approaches can be enhanced by exploring ambivalence in more depth, to ensure that lifestyle changes are made and sustained. Further studies with a wider range of patient characteristics are required to investigate the generalisability of the results.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-50
PMCID: PMC2564947  PMID: 18789155
21.  Discussions about preventive services: a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:49.
Background
Elderly minority patients are less likely to receive influenza vaccination and colorectal cancer screening than are other patients. Communication between primary care providers (PCPs) and patients may affect service receipt.
Methods
Encounters between 7 PCPs and 18 elderly patients were observed and audiotaped at 2 community health centers. Three investigators coded transcribed audiotapes and field notes. We used qualitative analysis to identify specific potential barriers to completion of preventive services and to highlight examples of how physicians used patient-centered communication and other facilitation strategies to overcome those barriers.
Results
Sharing of power and responsibility, the use of empathy, and treating the patient like a person were all important communication strategies which seemed to help address barriers to vaccination and colonoscopy. Other potential facilitators of receipt of influenza vaccine included (1) cultural competence, (2) PCP introduction of the discussion, (3) persistence of the PCP (revisiting the topic throughout the visit), (4) rapport and trust between the patient and PCP, and (5) PCP vaccination of the patient. PCP persistence as well as rapport and trust also appeared to facilitate receipt of colorectal cancer screening.
Conclusion
Several communications strategies appeared to facilitate PCP communications with older patients to promote acceptance of flu vaccination and colorectal cancer screening. These strategies should be studied with larger samples to determine which are most predictive of compliance with prevention recommendations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-49
PMCID: PMC2551594  PMID: 18768086
22.  Changes in the pattern of service utilisation and health problems of women, men and various age groups following a destructive disaster: a matched cohort study with a pre-disaster assessment 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:48.
Objectives
Female gender and young age are known risk factors for psychological morbidity after a disaster, but this conclusion is based on studies without a pre-disaster assessment. The aim of this study in family practice was to investigate if these supposed risk factors would still occur in a study design with a pre-disaster measurement.
Methods
A matched cohort study with pre-disaster (one year) and post-disaster (five years) data. Community controls (N = 3164) were matched with affected residents (N = 3164) on gender, age and socioeconomic status. Main outcome measures were utilization rates measured by family practice attendances and psychological, musculoskeletal and digestive health problems as registered by the family practitioner using the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC).
Results
Affected residents of female and male gender and in five age groups all showed increases in utilization rates in the first post-disaster year and in psychological problems when compared to their pre-disaster baseline levels. The increases showed no statistically significant changes, however, between women and men and between all age groups.
Conclusion
Gender and age did not appear to be disaster-related risk factors in this study in family practice with a pre-disaster base line assessment, a comparison group and using existing registries. Family practitioners should not focus specifically on these risk groups.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-48
PMCID: PMC2553410  PMID: 18755036
23.  Testing for allergic disease: Parameters considered and test value 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:47.
Background
Test results for allergic disease are especially valuable to allergists and family physicians for clinical evaluation, decisions to treat, and to determine needs for referral.
Methods
This study used a repeated measures design (conjoint analysis) to examine trade offs among clinical parameters that influence the decision of family physicians to use specific IgE blood testing as a diagnostic aid for patients suspected of having allergic rhinitis. Data were extracted from a random sample of 50 family physicians in the Southeastern United States. Physicians evaluated 11 patient profiles containing four clinical parameters: symptom severity (low, medium, high), symptom length (5, 10, 20 years), family history (both parents, mother, neither), and medication use (prescribed antihistamines, nasal spray, over-the-counter medications). Decision to recommend specific IgE testing was elicited as a "yes" or "no" response. Perceived value of specific IgE blood testing was evaluated according to usefulness as a diagnostic tool compared to skin testing, and not testing.
Results
The highest odds ratios (OR) associated with decisions to test for allergic rhinitis were obtained for symptom severity (OR, 12.11; 95%CI, 7.1–20.7) and length of symptoms (OR, 1.46; 95%CI, 0.96–2.2) with family history having significant influence in the decision. A moderately positive association between testing issues and testing value was revealed (β = 0.624, t = 5.296, p ≤ 0.001) with 39% of the variance explained by the regression model.
Conclusion
The most important parameters considered when testing for allergic rhinitis relate to symptom severity, length of symptoms, and family history. Family physicians recognize that specific IgE blood testing is valuable to their practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-47
PMCID: PMC2532998  PMID: 18727827
24.  General practitioners' views on reattribution for patients with medically unexplained symptoms: a questionnaire and qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:46.
Background
The successful introduction of new methods for managing medically unexplained symptoms in primary care is dependent to a large degree on the attitudes, experiences and expectations of practitioners. As part of an exploratory randomised controlled trial of reattribution training, we sought the views of participating practitioners on patients with medically unexplained symptoms, and on the value of and barriers to the implementation of reattribution in practice.
Methods
A nested attitudinal survey and qualitative study in sixteen primary care teams in north-west England. All practitioners participating in the trial (n = 74) were invited to complete a structured survey. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a purposive sub-sample of survey respondents, using a structured topic guide. Interview transcripts were used to identify key issues, concepts and themes, which were grouped to construct a conceptual framework: this framework was applied systematically to the data.
Results
Seventy (95%) of study participants responded to the survey. Survey respondents often found it stressful to work with patients with medically unexplained symptoms, though those who had received reattribution training were more optimistic about their ability to help them. Interview participants trained in reattribution (n = 12) reported that reattribution increased their confidence to practice in a difficult area, with heightened awareness, altered perceptions of these patients, improved opportunities for team-building and transferable skills. However general practitioners also reported potential barriers to the implementation of reattribution in routine clinical practice, at the level of the patient, the doctor, the consultation, diagnosis and the healthcare context.
Conclusion
Reattribution training increases practitioners' sense of competence in managing patients with medically unexplained symptoms. However, barriers to its implementation are considerable, and frequently lie outside the control of a group of practitioners generally sympathetic to patients with medically unexplained symptoms and the purpose of reattribution. These findings add further to the evidence of the difficulty of implementing reattribution in routine general practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-46
PMCID: PMC2533666  PMID: 18713473
25.  Experiences in managing problematic crystal methamphetamine use and associated depression in gay men and HIV positive men: in-depth interviews with general practitioners in Sydney, Australia 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:45.
Background
This paper describes the experiences of Australian general practitioners (GPs) in managing problematic crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) use among two groups of male patients: gay men and HIV positive men.
Methods
Semi-structured qualitative interviews with GPs with HIV medication prescribing rights were conducted in Sydney, Adelaide and a rural-coastal town in New South Wales between August and October 2006. Participants were recruited from practices with high caseloads of gay and HIV positive men.
Results
Sixteen GPs were recruited from seven practices to take part in interviews. Participants included 14 male GPs and two female GPs, and the number of years each had been working in HIV medicine ranged from two to 24. Eleven of the GPs who were based in Sydney raised the issue of problematic crystal meth use in these two patient populations. Five key themes were identified: an increasing problem; associations with depression; treatment challenges; health services and health care; workforce issues.
Conclusion
Despite study limitations, key implications can be identified. Health practitioners may benefit from broadening their understandings of how to anticipate and respond to problematic levels of crystal meth use in their patients. Early intervention can mitigate the impact of crystal meth use on co-morbid mental illness and other health issues. Management of the complex relationships between drug use, depression, sexuality and HIV can be addressed following a 'stepped care' approach. General practice guidelines for the management of crystal meth use problems should address specific issues associated with gay men and HIV positive men. GPs and other health practitioners must appreciate drug use as a social practice in order to build trust with gay men to encourage full disclosure of drug use. Education programs should train health practitioners in these issues, and increased resourcing provided to support the often difficult task of caring for people who use crystal meth. Greater resourcing of acute care and referral services can shift the burden away from primary care and community services. Further investigation should consider whether these findings are reproducible in other general practice settings, the relationship between depression, drug use and HIV medication, and challenges facing the HIV general practice workforce in Australia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-9-45
PMCID: PMC2529282  PMID: 18702829

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