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1.  Recently enlisted patients in general practice use more health care resources 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:64.
Background
The continuity of care is one of the cornerstones of general practice. General practitioners find personal relationships with their patients important as they enable them to provide a higher quality of care. A long-lasting relationship with patients is assumed to be a prior condition for attaining this high quality. We studied the differences in use of care between recently enlisted patients and those patients who have been enlisted for a longer period.
Methods
104 general practices in the Netherlands participated the study. We performed a retrospective cohort study in which patients who have been enlisted for less than 1 year (n = 10,102) were matched for age, sex and health insurance with patients who have been enlisted for longer in the same general practice. The two cohorts were compared with regard to the number of contacts with the general practice, diagnoses, rate of prescribing, and the referral rate in a year. These variables were chosen as indicators of differences in the use of care.
Results
In the year following their enlistment, a higher percentage of recently enlisted patients had at least one contact with the practice, received a prescription or was referred. They also had a higher probability of receiving a prescription for an antibiotic. Furthermore, they had a higher mean number of contacts and referrals, but not a higher mean number of prescriptions.
Conclusion
Recently enlisted patients used more health care resources in the first year after their enlistment compared to patients enlisted longer. This could not be explained by differences in health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-64
PMCID: PMC2235863  PMID: 18047642
2.  Does training family physicians in shared decision making promote optimal use of antibiotics for acute respiratory infections? Study protocol of a pilot clustered randomised controlled trial 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:65.
Background
In North America, although it varies according to the specific type of acute respiratory infections (ARI), use of antibiotics is estimated to be well above the expected prevalence of bacterial infections. The objective of this pilot clustered randomized controlled trial (RCT) is to assess the feasibility of a larger clustered RCT aiming at evaluating the impact of DECISION+, a continuing professional development (CPD) program in shared decision making, on the optimal use of antibiotics in the context of ARI.
Methods/design
This pilot study is a cluster RCT conducted with family physicians from Family Medicine Groups (FMG) in the Quebec City area, Canada. Participating FMG are randomised to an immediate DECISION+ group, a CPD program in shared decision making, (experimental group), or a delayed DECISION+ group (control group). Data collection involves recruiting five patients consulting for ARI per physician from both study groups before (Phase 1) and after (Phase 2) exposure of the experimental group to the DECISION+ program, and after exposure of the control group to the DECISION+ program (Phase 3). The primary outcome measures to assess the feasibility of a larger RCT include: 1) proportion of contacted FMG that agree to participate; 2) proportion of recruited physicians who participate in the DECISION+ program; 3) level of satisfaction of physicians regarding DECISION+; and 4) proportion of missing data in each data collection phase. Levels of agreement of the patient-physician dyad on the Decisional Conflict Scale and physicians' prescription profile for ARI are performed as secondary outcome measures.
Discussion
This study protocol is informative for researchers and clinicians interested in designing and/or conducting clustered RCT with FMG regarding training of physicians in shared decision making.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00354315
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-65
PMCID: PMC2234396  PMID: 18047643
3.  Primary care management of diabetes in a low/middle income country: A multi-method, qualitative study of barriers and facilitators to care 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:63.
Background
The management of patients with diabetes mellitus is complex. Some research has been done in developed countries to attempt to determine the factors that influence quality of care of patients with diabetes: Factors thus far postulated are usually categorised into patient, clinician and organisational factors. Our study sought to discover the main barriers and facilitators to care in the management of diabetes in primary care in a low/middle income country.
Methods
A qualitative study, based on reflexive ethnography using participant observation, semi-structured interviews of clinicians (10) and group interviews with paramedical staff (4) and patients (12) in three purposively sampled health centres, along with informal observation and discussions at over 50 other health centres throughout Tunisia. A content analysis of the data was performed.
Results
Over 400 potential barriers or facilitators to care of patients with diabetes in primary care in Tunisia emerged. Overall, the most common cited factor was the availability of medication at the health centre. Other frequently observed organisational factors were the existence of chronic disease clinics and clinicians workload. The most commonly mentioned health professional factor was doctor motivation. Frequently cited patient factors were financial issues, patient education and compliance and attendance issues. There were notable differences in the priority given to the various factors by the researcher, physicians, paramedical staff and the patients.
Conclusion
We have discovered a large number of potential barriers and facilitators to care that may potentially be influencing the care of patients with diabetes within primary care in Tunisia, a low/middle income country. An appreciation and understanding of these factors is essential in order to develop culturally appropriate interventions to improve the care of people with diabetes.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-63
PMCID: PMC2186326  PMID: 17996084
4.  Anxiety and panic fear in adults with asthma: prevalence in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:62.
Background
Patients may find it difficult to distinguish between the symptoms of anxiety and those of asthma. Findings are equivocal on whether there is a specific link between anxiety and asthma. The aims of this study were to i) to identify the prevalence of anxiety, depression and panic fear in adults with asthma compared with that of the general population ii) to investigate whether there is a specific relationship between asthma and anxiety.
Methods
An epidemiological survey of 872 adults with a diagnosis of asthma identified from six General Practices in Sheffield, England. Community postal survey using self-completion questionnaire.
Results
The response rate was 59%. People with asthma had higher mean Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) anxiety scores than UK norms with a higher proportion above the clinical cut-off. Mean HADS depression scores were significantly higher than UK norms and norms for a general population sample of people registered with the same practice. These effects were age-related with the relationship between asthma and psychological distress most marked over the age of 45. The prevalence of asthma-specific panic fear was 15.7%.
Conclusion
A significant minority of people have high levels of panic fear (as measured by the Asthma Symptom Checklist) associated with asthma. However, in adults with asthma there is also high prevalence of both generalised anxiety and depression (as measured by the HADS), suggesting that the link of anxiety to asthma may be part of a broader relationship between psychological distress and chronic disease rather than a specific one.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-62
PMCID: PMC2174924  PMID: 17963505
5.  Self-rated health, symptoms of depression and general symptoms at 3 and 12 months after a first-ever stroke: a municipality-based study in Sweden 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:61.
Background
Self-rated health is an important indicator of quality of life as well as a good predictor of future health. The purpose of the study was to follow up the self-rated health and the prevalence of symptoms of depression and general symptoms in a population of first-ever stroke patients 3 and 12 months after stroke.
Methods
All patients surviving their first-ever stroke and residing in Nacka municipality in Stockholm County Council were included using a multiple overlapping search strategy during an 18-month period (n = 187). Our study group comprised the 145 patients who survived the first 3 months after stroke. Three and 12 months after their stroke, the patients were assessed regarding self-rated health and general symptoms using parts of the Göteborg Quality of Life Instrument (GQLI), and regarding symptoms of depression using the Montgomery Asberg Depression Scale (MADRS-S).
Results
Self-rated health was rated as very good or rather good by 62% at 3 months after stroke and by 78% at 12 months after stroke. More than half of the patients suffered from symptoms of depression, with no significant improvement at 12 months. The most common general symptoms at 3 months after stroke were fatigue, sadness, pain in the legs, dizziness and irritability. Fatigue and sadness were still common at 12 months. Twelve months after stroke the prevalences of crying easily, irritability, impaired concentration, nausea and loss of weight were significantly lower.
Conclusion
The majority of patients rated their health as rather good or very good at 3 and 12 months after stroke. However, the majority suffered from fatigue and from symptoms of depression after both 3 and 12 months. In continued care of stroke survivors, it is important to consider the fact that many patients who rate their health as good may nevertheless have symptoms of depression, and some of them may benefit from anti-depressive treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-61
PMCID: PMC2174472  PMID: 17941995
6.  Use of aspirin for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in diabetic patients in an ambulatory care setting in Spain 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:60.
Background
This study was conducted in order to determine the use of aspirin and to assess the achievement of therapeutic targets in diabetic patients according to primary (PP) or secondary prevention (SP).
Methods
This is a retrospective, observational study including patients ≥18 years with diabetes mellitus followed in four primary care centers. Measurements included demographics, use of aspirin and/or anticoagulant drugs, co-morbidities, clinical parameters and proportion of patient at therapeutic target (TT). Descriptive statistics, chi-square test and logistic regression model were used for significance.
Results
A total of 4,140 patients were analyzed, 79.1% (95% confidence intervals [CI]: 77.7–80.5%) in PP and 20.9% (95% CI: 18.2–23.7%) in SP. Mean age was 64.1 (13.8) years, and 49.3% of patient were men (PP: 46.3, SP: 60.7, p = 0.001). Aspirin was prescribed routinely in 20.8% (95% CI: 19.4–22.2%) in PP and 60.8% (95% CI: 57.6–64.0%) in SP. Proportion of patient at TT was 48.0% for blood pressure and 59.8% for cholesterol. Use of aspirin was associated to increased age [OR = 1.01 (95% CI: 1.00–1.02); p = 0.011], cardiovascular-risk factors [OR = 1.14 (95% CI: 1.03–1.27); p = 0.013], LDL-C [OR = 1.42 (95% CI: 1.06–1.88); p = 0.017] and higher glycated hemoglobin [OR = 1.51 (95% CI: 1.22–1.89); p = 0.000] were covariates associated to the use of aspirin in PP.
Conclusion
Treatment with aspirin is underused for PP in patients with diabetes mellitus in Primary Care. Achievement of TT should be improved.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-60
PMCID: PMC2100057  PMID: 17941978
7.  Prevalence of risk factors for diabetic foot complications 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:59.
Background
Foot complications are common in diabetic patients and are considered one of the most expensive diabetes (DM) complications to treat. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors for foot complications among diabetic patients in Al-Ain district, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Methods
The study was part of a general cross-sectional survey carried out to assess the prevalence of DM complications in Al-Ain district, UAE. A sample of 513 diabetic patients with a mean age of 53 years (SD: ± 13) were randomly selected during 2003/2004. All completed an interviewer-administered questionnaire and underwent medical assessment including foot examination and assessment of presence of peripheral neuropathy (PN) and peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
Results
Forty nine percent of the study populations were diagnosed to have DM without presenting with symptoms of diabetes and 35% had hypertension. The majority (86%) had type 2 DM. Of the total sample, 39% (95% CI: 35.1-43.7%) had PN and 12% (95% CI: 8.8–14.4%) had PVD. There were no cases of amputation and only one case had previous history of lower extremity ulceration. Significant risk factors for PN and PVD were: male gender, poor level of education, UAE nationality, increased duration of diabetes, type 2 DM, presence of hypertension and microalbuminuria (MA).
Conclusion
Despite the low prevalence of foot ulceration and amputation among the study population, nevertheless, a substantial proportion had potential risk factors for foot complications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-59
PMCID: PMC2174471  PMID: 17927826
8.  A randomised controlled trial of the effects of a web-based PSA decision aid, Prosdex. Protocol 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:58.
Background
Informed decision making is the theoretical basis in the UK for men's decisions about Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer testing. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of a web-based PSA decision-aid, Prosdex, on informed decision making in men. The objective is to assess the effect of Prosdex on six specific outcomes: (i) knowledge of PSA and prostate cancer-related issues – the principal outcome of the study; (ii) attitudes to testing; (iii) decision conflict; (iv) anxiety; (v) intention to undergo PSA testing; (vi) uptake of PSA testing. In addition, a mathematical simulation model of the effects of Prosdex will be developed.
Methods
A randomised controlled trial with four groups: two intervention groups, one viewing Prosdex and the other receiving a paper version of the site; two control groups, the second controlling for the potential Hawthorn effect of the questionnaire used with the first control group. Men between the ages of 50 and 75, who have not previously had a PSA test, will be recruited from General Practitioners (GPs) in Wales, UK. The principal outcome, knowledge, and four other outcome measures – attitudes to testing, decision conflict, anxiety and intention to undergo testing – will be measured with an online questionnaire, used by men in three of the study groups. Six months later, PSA test uptake will be ascertained from GP records; the online questionnaire will then be repeated. These outcomes, and particularly PSA test uptake, will be used to develop a mathematical simulation model, specifically to consider the impact on health service resources.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trial: ISRCTN48473735.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-58
PMCID: PMC2075498  PMID: 17916259
9.  The impact of general practitioner morale on patient satisfaction with care: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:57.
Background
The association between stress and morale among general practitioners (GP) is well documented. However, the impact of GP stress or low morale on patient care is less clear. GPs in the UK now routinely survey patients about the quality of their care including organizational issues and consultation skills and the General Practice Assessment Questionnaire (GPAQ) is widely used for this purpose. We aimed to see if there was a relationship between doctor morale as measured by a validated instrument, the Morale Assessment in General Practice Index (MAGPI) and scores in the GPAQ.
Methods
All GPs in Lothian, Scotland who were collecting GPAQ data were approached and asked to complete the MAGPI. Using an anonymised linkage system, individual scores on the MAGPI were linked to the doctors' GPAQ scores. Levels of association between the scores were determined by calculating rank correlations at the level of the individual doctor. Hypothesised associations between individual MAGPI and GPAQ items were also assessed.
Results
276 of 475 GPs who were approached agreed to complete a MAGPI questionnaire and successfully collected anonymous GPAQ data from an average of 49.6 patients. There was no significant correlation between the total MAGPI score and the GPAQ communication or enablement scale. There were weak correlations between "control of work" in the MAGPI scale and GPAQ items on waiting times to see doctors (r = 0.24 p < 0.01). Doctors who perceived that their patients viewed them negatively also scored lower on individual communication, accessibility and continuity of care GPAQ items.
Conclusion
This study showed no relationship between overall GP morale and patient perception of performance. There was a weak relationship between patients' perceptions ofquality and doctors' beliefs about their workload and whether patients value them. Further research is required to elucidate the complex relationship between workload, morale and patients' perception of care.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-57
PMCID: PMC2072947  PMID: 17903255
10.  Are different groups of patients with stroke more likely to be excluded from the new UK general medical services contract? A cross-sectional retrospective analysis of a large primary care population 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:56.
Background
In April 2004, an incentive based contract was introduced to UK primary care. An important element of the new contract is the ability to exclude individuals from quality indicators for a variety of reasons (known as 'exception reporting'). Exception of patients with stroke or TIA from the recording and achievement of quality indicators may have important consequences in terms of stroke recurrence and mortality.
Methods
A cross-sectional retrospective analysis of anonymised patient data was performed using 312 Scottish primary care practices.
Results
Patients recorded as unsuitable for inclusion in the contract were more likely to be female (odds ratio (OR) 1.51, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.36–1.68), older (>75 years:OR 3.15, 95%CI 2.69–3.69), and have dementia (OR 4.40, 95%CI 3.57–5.43) when compared to those patients without such a code. Patients were less likely to be older (>75 years:OR 0.70, 95%CI 0.56–0.87) and were more likely to be from the most deprived areas of Scotland (Quintile 5: OR 2.02, 95%CI 1.50–2.70) if they refused to attend for review or did not reply to letters asking for attendance at primary care clinics. Patients with multiple co-morbidities were more likely to have exclusions for achieving diagnostic clinical targets such as cholesterol control (3 or more co-morbidities: OR 3.37, 95%CI 2.50–4.50).
Conclusion
Scottish practices have appeared to use exception reporting appropriately by excluding patients who are older or have dementia. However, younger or more socio-economically deprived patients were more likely to be recorded as having refused to attend for review or not replying to letters asking for attendance at primary care clinics. It is important for primary care practices to identify and monitor these individuals so that all patients fully benefit from the implementation of an incentive based contract and receive appropriate clinical care to prevent stroke recurrence, further disability and mortality.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-56
PMCID: PMC2048961  PMID: 17900351
11.  Diagnostic labelling as determinant of antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract episodes in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:55.
Background
Next to other GP characteristics, diagnostic labelling (the proportion of acute respiratory tract (RT) episodes to be labelled as infections) probably contributes to a higher volume of antibiotic prescriptions for acute RT episodes. However, it is unknown whether there is an independent association between diagnostic labelling and the volume of prescribed antibiotics, or whether diagnostic labelling is associated with the number of presented acute RT episodes and consequently with the number of antibiotics prescribed per patient per year.
Methods
Data were used from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice (DNSGP-2) with 163 GPs from 85 Dutch practices, serving a population of 359,625 patients. Data over a 12 month period were analysed by means of multiple linear regression analysis. Main outcome measure was the volume of antibiotic prescriptions for acute RT episodes per 1,000 patients.
Results
The incidence was 236.9 acute RT episodes/1,000 patients. GPs labelled about 70% of acute RT episodes as infections, and antibiotics were prescribed in 41% of all acute RT episodes. A higher incidence of acute RT episodes (beta 0.67), a stronger inclination to label episodes as infections (beta 0.24), a stronger endorsement of the need of antibiotics in case of white spots in the throat (beta 0.11) and being male (beta 0.11) were independent determinants of the prescribed volume of antibiotics for acute RT episodes, whereas diagnostic labelling was not correlated with the incidence of acute RT episodes.
Conclusion
Diagnostic labelling is a relevant factor in GPs' antibiotic prescribing independent from the incidence of acute RT episodes. Therefore, quality assurance programs and postgraduate courses should emphasise to use evidence based prognostic criteria (e.g. chronic respiratory co-morbidity and old age) as an indication to prescribe antibiotics in stead of single inflammation signs or diagnostic labels.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-55
PMCID: PMC2039734  PMID: 17883832
12.  Do general practitioners adhere to the guideline on infectious conjunctivitis? Results of the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:54.
Background
In 1996 the guideline 'The Red Eye' was first published by the Dutch College of General Practitioners. The extent to which general practitioners adhere to this guideline is unclear. Recently, data on the management of infectious conjunctivitis by general practitioners became available from the Second Dutch National Survey of General Practice. We measured the age-specific incidence of infectious conjunctivitis, described its management by Dutch general practitioners, and then compared these findings with the recommendations made in the guideline.
Methods
In 2001, over a 12-month period, data from all patient contacts with 195 general practitioners were taken from electronic medical records. Registration was episode-oriented; all consultations dealing with the same health problem were grouped into disease episodes. Data concerning all episodes of infectious conjunctivitis (ICPC-code F70 and sub codes) were analysed.
Results
Over one year, 5,213 new and recurrent episodes of infectious conjunctivitis were presented to general practitioners from a population of N = 375,899, resulting in an overall incidence rate of 13.9 per 1000 person-years, varying from more than 80/1000 py in children up to one-year old, to less than 12/1000 py in children over the age of 4. Topical ophthalmic ointments were prescribed in 87% of the episodes, of which 80% was antibiotic treatment. Fusidic acid gel was most frequently prescribed (69%). In most episodes general practitioners did not adhere to the guideline.
Conclusion
In 2001, the management of infectious conjunctivitis by Dutch general practitioners was not in accordance with the recommendations of the consensus-based guideline published five years previously, despite its wide distribution. In 2006 this guideline was revised. Its successful implementation requires more than distribution alone. Probably the most effective way to achieve this is by following a model for systemic implementation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-54
PMCID: PMC2034564  PMID: 17868475
13.  The necessary shift from diagnostic to prognostic research 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:53.
Background
Do doctors really need to establish an etiological diagnosis each time a patient presents? Or might it often be more effective to treat simply on the basis of symptoms and signs alone, relying on research and on our experience of outcomes for patients who presented in similar ways in the past?
Discussion
At a time of increase health care costs especially in pharmaceuticals and expensive diagnostic tests, this article uses examples from recent research to address this question. Our examples come from general practice, because that is where doctors frequently see patients presenting with a yet undifferentiated disease which is consequently difficult to diagnose. The examples include respiratory tract infections, low back pain and shoulder pain. Finally we discuss the 'something is wrong' feeling.
Summary
We conclude that, in addition to diagnostic research, a renewed focus on prognostic research is needed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-53
PMCID: PMC2034563  PMID: 17854488
14.  Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) for late-life depression in general practice: uptake and satisfaction by patients, therapists and physicians 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:52.
Background
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is recommended in most depression treatment guidelines and proved to be a suitable treatment for elderly depressed patients. Despite the favorable results of IPT in research populations, the dissemination to general practice is surprisingly limited. Little is known about uptake and satisfaction when this therapy is introduced into real-life general practice.
Methods
Motivation and evaluation of patients, GPs and therapists were recorded and organizational barriers described alongside a randomized controlled trial. IPT, given by mental health workers, was compared with usual general practitioner (GP) care. Included were patients (≥55 years) who met the DSM-IV criteria for major depressive disorder.
Results
Patients were motivated for the psychotherapy intervention: of the 205 eligible patients, 143 (70%) entered the study, and of the 69 patients who were offered IPT, 77% complied with the treatment. IPT proved to be an attractive therapy for patients as well as for therapists from mental health organizations. General practitioners evaluated the intervention positively afterwards, mainly because of the time-limited and structured approach. Organizational barriers: no IPT therapists were available; an IPT trainer and supervisor had to be trained and training materials had to be developed and translated. Additionally, there was a lack of office space in some general practices; for therapists from private practices it was not feasible to participate because of financial reasons. IPT was superior to usual care in patients with moderate to severe depression.
Conclusion
As we succeeded in delivering IPT in primary care practice, and as IPT was superior to usual care, there are grounds to support the implementation of IPT for depressed elderly patients within general practice, as long as the practices have room for the therapists and financial barriers can be overcome. Consolidation may be achieved by making this intervention available through practice nurses or community psychiatric nurses who deliver IPT as part of a more comprehensive depression management program.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-52
PMCID: PMC2077866  PMID: 17854480
15.  Chest wall syndrome among primary care patients: a cohort study 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:51.
Background
The epidemiology of chest pain differs strongly between outpatient and emergency settings. In general practice, the most frequent cause is the chest wall pain. However, there is a lack of information about the characteristics of this syndrome. The aims of the study are to describe the clinical aspects of chest wall syndrome (CWS).
Methods
Prospective, observational, cohort study of patients attending 58 private practices over a five-week period from March to May 2001 with undifferentiated chest pain. During a one-year follow-up, questionnaires including detailed history and physical exam, were filled out at initial consultation, 3 and 12 months. The outcomes were: clinical characteristics associated with the CWS diagnosis and clinical evolution of the syndrome.
Results
Among 24 620 consultations, we observed 672 cases of chest pain and 300 (44.6%) patients had a diagnosis of chest wall syndrome. It affected all ages with a sex ratio of 1:1. History and sensibility to palpation were the keys for diagnosis. Pain was generally moderate, well localised, continuous or intermittent over a number of hours to days or weeks, and amplified by position or movement. The pain however, may be acute. Eighty-eight patients were affected at several painful sites, and 210 patients at a single site, most frequently in the midline or a left-sided site. Pain was a cause of anxiety and cardiac concern, especially when acute. CWS coexisted with coronary disease in 19 and neoplasm in 6. Outcome at one year was favourable even though CWS recurred in half of patients.
Conclusion
CWS is common and benign, but leads to anxiety and recurred frequently. Because the majority of chest wall pain is left-sided, the possibility of coexistence with coronary disease needs careful consideration.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-51
PMCID: PMC2072948  PMID: 17850647
16.  A qualitative study of primary care clinicians' views of treating childhood obesity 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:50.
Background
The prevalence of childhood obesity is rising and the UK Government have stated a commitment to addressing obesity in general. One method has been to include indicators relating to obesity within the GP pay-for-performance Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) contract. This study aimed to explore general practitioners' and practice nurses' views in relation to their role in treating childhood obesity.
Methods
We interviewed eighteen practitioners (twelve GPs and six nurses) who worked in general practices contracting with Rotherham Primary Care Trust. Interviews were face to face and semi structured. The transcribed data were analysed using framework analysis.
Results
GPs and practice nurses felt that their role was to raise the issue of a child's weight, but that ultimately obesity was a social and family problem. Time constraint, lack of training and lack of resources were identified as important barriers to addressing childhood obesity. There was concern that the clinician-patient relationship could be adversely affected by discussing what was often seen as a sensitive topic. GPs and practice nurses felt ill-equipped to tackle childhood obesity given the lack of evidence for effective interventions, and were sceptical that providing diet and exercise advice would have any impact upon a child's weight.
Conclusion
GPs and practice nurses felt that their role in obesity management was centred upon raising the issue of a child's weight, and providing basic diet and exercise advice. Clinicians may find it difficult to make a significant impact on childhood obesity while the evidence base for effective management remains poor. Until the lack of effective interventions is addressed, implementing additional targets (for example through the QOF) may not be effective.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-50
PMCID: PMC2008193  PMID: 17767720
17.  The sensitivity and specificity of four questions (HARK) to identify intimate partner violence: a diagnostic accuracy study in general practice 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:49.
Background
Intimate partner violence (IPV) including physical, sexual and emotional violence, causes short and long term ill-health. Brief questions that reliably identify women experiencing IPV who present in clinical settings are a pre-requisite for an appropriate response from health services to this substantial public health problem. We estimated the sensitivity and specificity of four questions (HARK) developed from the Abuse Assessment screen, compared to a 30-item abuse questionnaire, the Composite Abuse Scale (CAS).
Methods
We administered the four HARK questions and the CAS to women approached by two researchers in general practice waiting rooms in Newham, east London. Inclusions: women aged more than 17 years waiting to see a doctor or nurse, who had been in an intimate relationship in the last year. Exclusions: women who were accompanied by children over four years of age or another adult, too unwell to complete the questionnaires, unable to understand English or unable to give informed consent.
Results
Two hundred and thirty two women were recruited. The response rate was 54%. The prevalence of current intimate partner violence, within the last 12 months, using the CAS cut off score of ≥3, was 23% (95% C.I. 17% to 28%) with pre-test odds of 0.3 (95% C.I. 0.2 to 0.4). The receiver operator characteristic curve demonstrated that a HARK cut off score of ≥1 maximises the true positives whilst minimising the false positives. The sensitivity of the optimal HARK cut-off score of ≥1 was 81% (95% C.I. 69% to 90%), specificity 95% (95% C.I. 91% to 98%), positive predictive value 83% (95% C.I. 70% to 91%), negative predictive value 94% (95% C.I. 90% to 97%), likelihood ratio 16 (95% C.I. 8 to 31) and post-test odds 5.
Conclusion
The four HARK questions accurately identify women experiencing IPV in the past year and may help women disclose abuse in general practice. The HARK questions could be incorporated into the electronic medical record in primary care to prompt clinicians to ask about recent partner violence and to encourage disclosure by patients. Future research should test the effectiveness of HARK in clinical consultations.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-49
PMCID: PMC2034562  PMID: 17727730
18.  Experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in general practice: a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:48.
Background
There has been much debate regarding the refugee health situation in the UK. However most of the existing literature fails to take account of the opinions of refugees themselves. This study was established to determine the views of asylum seekers and refugees on their overall experiences in primary care and to suggest improvements to their care.
Methods
Qualitative study of adult asylum seekers and refugees who had entered the UK in the last 10 years. The study was set in Barnet Refugee Walk in Service, London. 11 Semi structured interviews were conducted and analysed using framework analysis.
Results
Access to GPs may be more difficult for failed asylum seekers and those without support from refugee agencies or family. There may be concerns amongst some in the refugee community regarding the access to and confidentiality of professional interpreters. Most participants stated their preference for GPs who offered advice rather than prescriptions. The stigma associated with refugee status in the UK may have led to some refugees altering their help seeking behaviour.
Conclusion
The problem of poor access for those with inadequate support may be improved by better education and support for GPs in how to provide for refugees. Primary Care Trusts could also supply information to newly arrived refugees on how to access services. GPs should be aware that, in some situations, professional interpreters may not always be desired and that instead, it may be advisable to reach a consensus as to who should be used as an interpreter. A better doctor-patient experience resulting from improvements in access and communication may help to reduce the stigma associated with refugee status and lead to more appropriate help seeking behaviour. Given the small nature of our investigation, larger studies need to be conducted to confirm and to quantify these results.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-48
PMCID: PMC2001193  PMID: 17711587
19.  Information from the Internet and the doctor-patient relationship: the patient perspective – a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:47.
Background
Both doctors and patients may perceive the Internet as a potential challenge to existing therapeutic relationships. Here we examine patients' views of the effect of the Internet on their relationship with doctors.
Methods
We ran 8 disease specific focus groups of between 2 and 8 respondents comprising adult patients with diabetes mellitus, ischaemic heart disease or hepatitis C.
Results
Data are presented on (i) the perceived benefits and (ii) limitations of the Internet in the context of the doctor-patient relationship, (iii) views on sharing information with doctors, and (iv) the potential of the Internet for the future. Information from the Internet was particularly valued in relation to experiential knowledge.
Conclusion
Despite evidence of increasing patient activism in seeking information and the potential to challenge the position of the doctor, the accounts here do not in any way suggest a desire to disrupt the existing balance of power, or roles, in the consultation. Patients appear to see the Internet as an additional resource to support existing and valued relationships with their doctors. Doctors therefore need not feel challenged or threatened when patients bring health information from the Internet to a consultation, rather they should see it as an attempt on the part of the patient to work with the doctor and respond positively.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-47
PMCID: PMC2041946  PMID: 17705836
20.  Out-of-hours demand for GP care and emergency services: patients' choices and referrals by general practitioners and ambulance services 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:46.
Background
Over the last five years, Dutch provision of out-of-hours primary health care has shifted from practice-based services towards large-scale general practitioner (GP) cooperatives. Only few population-based studies have been performed to assess the out-of-hours demand for GP and emergency care, including the referral patterns to the Accident and Emergency Department (AED) by GPs and ambulance services.
Method
During two four-month periods (five-year interval), a prospective cross-sectional study was performed for a Dutch population of 62,000 people. Data were collected on all patient contacts with one GP cooperative and three AEDs bordering the region.
Results
Overall, GPs handled 88% of all out-of-hours contacts (275/1000 inhabitants/year), while the AED dealt with the remaining 12% of contacts (38/1000 inhabitants/year). Within the AED, the self-referrals represented a substantial number of contacts (43%), although within the total out-of-hours demand they only represented 5% of all contacts. Self-referrals were predominantly young adult males presenting with an injury, nineteen percent of whom had a fracture. Compared to self-referrals, patients who were referred by the GP or brought in by the ambulance services were generally older and were more frequently admitted for both injury and non-injury (p < 0.01 for all differences).
Conclusion
The GP cooperative deals with the large majority of out-of-hours problems presented. Within the total demand, self-referrals constitute a stable, yet small group of patients, many of whom seem to have made a reasonable choice to attend the AED. The GPs and the ambulance services appear to be effectively selecting the problems that are presented to the AED.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-46
PMCID: PMC2082275  PMID: 17672915
21.  Peer support in type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial in primary care with parallel economic and qualitative analyses: pilot study and protocol 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:45.
Background
Diabetes is a chronic illness, which requires the individual to assume responsibility for their own care with the aim of maintaining glucose and blood pressure levels as close to normal as possible. Traditionally self-management training for diabetes has been delivered in a didactic manner. In recent times alternatives to the traditional delivery of diabetes care have been investigated, for example, the concept of peer support which emphasises patient rather than professional domination. This paper describes the pilot study and protocol for a study that aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a peer support intervention for people with type 2 diabetes in a primary care setting.
Methods/Design
A pilot study was conducted to access the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial of a peer support intervention. We used the MRC Framework for the evaluation of complex interventions. Elements of the intervention were defined and the study protocol was finalized. In this cluster randomised controlled trial twenty general practices are assigned to control and intervention groups. Each practice compiles a diabetes register and randomly selects 21 patients. All practices implement a standardised diabetes care system. In the intervention group all practices recruit three peer supporters. The peer supporters are trained to conduct nine group meetings in their general practice over a period of two years. Each meeting has a structured component. The primary outcomes are blood pressure, total cholesterol, HBA1c and the Diabetes Well-being score. In addition to biophysical, psychosocial, economic and health service utilization data peer supporter activity and qualitative data are collected.
Discussion
Peer support is a complex intervention and evaluating such an intervention presents challenges to researchers. This study will evaluate whether a peer support programme for patients with type 2 diabetes improves biophysical and psychosocial outcomes and whether it is an acceptable, cost effective intervention in the primary care setting.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42541690
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-45
PMCID: PMC1950508  PMID: 17672892
22.  Views on sick-listing practice among Swedish General Practitioners – a phenomenographic study 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:44.
Background
The number of people on sick-leave started to increase in Sweden and several other European countries towards the end of the 20th century. Physicians play an important role in the sickness insurance system by acting as gate-keepers. Our aim was to explore how General Practitioners (GPs) view their sick-listing commission and sick-listing practice.
Methods
Semi-structured interviews with 19 GPs in 17 Primary Health Care settings in four mid-Sweden counties. Interview transcripts were analysed with phenomenographic approach aiming to uncover the variation in existing views regarding the respondents' sick-listing commission and practice.
Results
We found large qualitative differences in the GPs' views on sick-listing. The sick-listing commission was experienced to come either from society or from patients, with no responsibility for societal interests, or as an integration of these two views. All the GPs were aware of a possible conflict between the interests of society and patients. While some expressed feelings of strong conflict, others seemed to have solved the conflict, at least partly, between these two loyalties.
Some GPs experienced carrying the full responsibility to decide whether a patient would get monetary sick-leave benefits or not and they were not comfortable with this situation. Views on the physician's and the patient's responsibility in sick-listing and rehabilitation varied from a passive to an empowering role of the physician.
GPs expressing a combination of less inclusive views of the different aspects of sick-listing experienced strong conflict and appeared to feel distressed in their sick-listing role. Some GPs described how they had changed from less to more inclusive views.
Conclusion
The clearer understanding of the different views on sick-listing generated in this study can be used in educational efforts to improve physicians' sick-listing practices, benefiting GPs' work situation as well as their patients' well-being. The GP's role as a gatekeeper in the social security system needs further exploration. Our findings could be used to develop a questionnaire to measure the distribution of different views in a wider population of GPs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-44
PMCID: PMC1988796  PMID: 17663793
23.  Process evaluation for complex interventions in primary care: understanding trials using the normalization process model 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:42.
Background
The Normalization Process Model is a conceptual tool intended to assist in understanding the factors that affect implementation processes in clinical trials and other evaluations of complex interventions. It focuses on the ways that the implementation of complex interventions is shaped by problems of workability and integration.
Method
In this paper the model is applied to two different complex trials: (i) the delivery of problem solving therapies for psychosocial distress, and (ii) the delivery of nurse-led clinics for heart failure treatment in primary care.
Results
Application of the model shows how process evaluations need to focus on more than the immediate contexts in which trial outcomes are generated. Problems relating to intervention workability and integration also need to be understood. The model may be used effectively to explain the implementation process in trials of complex interventions.
Conclusion
The model invites evaluators to attend equally to considering how a complex intervention interacts with existing patterns of service organization, professional practice, and professional-patient interaction. The justification for this may be found in the abundance of reports of clinical effectiveness for interventions that have little hope of being implemented in real healthcare settings.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-42
PMCID: PMC1950872  PMID: 17650326
24.  Exploring men's and women's experiences of depression and engagement with health professionals: more similarities than differences? A qualitative interview study 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:43.
Background
It is argued that the ways in which women express emotional distress mean that they are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, while men's relative lack of articulacy means their depression is hidden. This may have consequences for communicating with health professionals. The purpose of this analysis was to explore how men and women with depression articulate their emotional distress, and examine whether there are gender differences or similarities in the strategies that respondents found useful when engaging with health professionals.
Methods
In-depth qualitative interviews with 22 women and 16 men in the UK who identified themselves as having had depression, recruited through general practitioners, psychiatrists and support groups.
Results
We found gender similarities and gender differences in our sample. Both men and women found it difficult to recognise and articulate mental health problems and this had consequences for their ability to communicate with health professionals. Key gender differences noted were that men tended to value skills which helped them to talk while women valued listening skills in health professionals, and that men emphasised the importance of getting practical results from talking therapies in their narratives, as opposed to other forms of therapy which they conceptualised as 'just talking'. We also found diversity among women and among men; some respondents valued a close personal relationship with health professionals, while others felt that this personal relationship was a barrier to communication and preferred 'talking to a stranger'.
Conclusion
Our findings suggest that there is not a straightforward relationship between gender and engagement with health professionals for people with depression. Health professionals need to be sensitive to patients who have difficulties in expressing emotional distress and critical of gender stereotypes which suggest that women invariably find it easy to express emotional distress and men invariably find it difficult. In addition it is important to recognise that, for a minority of patients, a personal relationship with health professionals can act as a barrier to the disclosure of emotional distress.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-43
PMCID: PMC1941733  PMID: 17650340
25.  Diagnosis of depression among adolescents – a clinical validation study of key questions and questionnaire 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:41.
Background
The objective of the study is to improve general practitioners' diagnoses of adolescent depression. Major depression is ranked fourth in the worldwide disability impact.
Method/Design
Validation of 1) three key questions, 2) SCL-dep6, 3) SCL-10, 4) 9 other SCL questions and 5) WHO-5 in a clinical study among adolescents. The Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) is to be used as the gold standard interview. The project is a GP multicenter study to be conducted in both Norway and Denmark. Inclusion criteria are age (14–16) and fluency in the Norwegian and Danish language. A number of GPs will be recruited from both countries and at least 162 adolescents will be enrolled in the study from the patient lists of the GPs in each country, giving a total of at least 323 adolescent participants.
Discussion
The proportion of adolescents suffering from depressive disorders also seems to be increasing worldwide. Early interventions are known to reduce this illness. The earlier depression can be identified in adolescents, the greater the advantage. Therefore, we hope to find a suitable questionnaire that could be recommended for GPs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-41
PMCID: PMC1947987  PMID: 17626643

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