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1.  General Practitioners' views on the provision of nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion 
Background
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and a new drug, bupropion, are licensed in several countries as aids to smoking cessation. General practitioners (GPs) play a crucial role in recommending or prescribing these medications. In the UK there has been discussion about whether the medications should be reimbursable by the National Health Service (NHS). This study assessed English GPs' attitudes towards reimbursement of NRT and bupropion.
Methods
Postal survey of a randomly selected national sample of GPs; 376 GPs completed the questionnaire after one reminder; effective response rate: 53%. There was no difference between the responses of GPs who responded to the initial request and those who responded only after a reminder suggesting minimal bias due to non-response.
Results
Attitudes of GPs were remarkably divided on most issues relating to the medications. Forty-three percent thought that bupropion should not be on NHS prescription while 42% thought that it should be (15% did not know); Fifty percent thought that NRT should not be on NHS prescription while 42% thought it should be (8% did not know). Requiring that smokers attend behavioural support programmes to be eligible to receive the medications on NHS prescription made no appreciable difference to the GPs' views. GPs were similarly divided on whether having the medications reimbursable would add unacceptably to their workload or offer a welcome opportunity to discuss smoking with their patients. A principal components analysis of responses to the individual questions on NRT and bupropion revealed that GPs' attitudes could be understood in terms of a single 'pro-con' dimension accounting for 53% of the total variance which made no distinction between the two medications.
Conclusions
GPs in England appear to be divided in their attitudes to medications to aid smoking cessation and appear not to discriminate in their views between different types of medication or different aspects of their use. This suggests that their attitudes are generated by quite fundamental values. Addressing these values may be important in encouraging GPs to adhere more closely to national and international guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-2-6
PMCID: PMC59675  PMID: 11701091
2.  In what extent anemia coexists with cognitive impairment in elderly: a cross-sectional study in Greece 
Background
A project aimed at studying the frequency of dementia and depression in the catchment area of the Health Centre of Chrissoupolis (HCCh), Northern Greece, was carried out. This paper reports the association between AD and anemia among the elderly participants in this Greek study.
Methods
Eligible participants were people 65 years or over who were (a) living in the Elderly People's Home (all 48 subjects included); (b) visiting the Open Center for Elderly People during a 20 workday period (75 subjects) and (c) visiting the HCCh for routine medical care. The Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) was used in assessing the cognitive capacity of the participants. Blood was drawn for serum hematocrit, vitamin B12 and folate determination.
Results
The prevalence proportions of possible cognitive impairment among anemic and non-anemic males were 55.6% and 34.4%, respectively (X2 = 5.8, d.f. = 1, p = 0.016). The corresponding proportions in females were 47.5% and 40.1 % (X2 = 1.1, d.f. = 1, p = 0.305). Using logistic regression analysis, age-group (≥ 80 yrs), type of Institute, vitamin B12 and anemia had significant independent associations with possible cognitive impairment.
Conclusions
Anemia is a frequent finding in elderly and it may be a risk factor for dementia, but the extent of the associated deterioration of cognitive impairment or the relation with AD is not known. GPs should be aware of this coexistence and recommend for screening, assaying and treating elderly people.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-2-5
PMCID: PMC59691  PMID: 11707152
3.  Understanding childhood asthma in focus groups: perspectives from mothers of different ethnic backgrounds 
Background
Diagnosing childhood asthma is dependent upon parental symptom reporting but there are problems in the use of words and terms. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare understandings of childhood 'asthma' by mothers from three different ethnic backgrounds who have no personal experience of diagnosing asthma. A better understanding of parents' perceptions of an illness by clinicians should improve communication and management of the illness.
Method
Sixty-six mothers living in east London describing their ethnic backgrounds as Bangladeshi, white English and black Caribbean were recruited to 9 focus groups. Discussion was semi-structured. Three sessions were conducted with each ethnic group. Mothers were shown a video clip of a boy with audible wheeze and cough and then addressed 6 questions. Sessions were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Responses were compared within and between ethnic groups.
Results
Each session, and ethnic group overall, developed a particular orientation to the discussion. Some mothers described the problem using single signs, while others imitated the sound or made comparisons to other illnesses. Hereditary factors were recognised by some, although all groups were concerned with environmental triggers. Responses about what to do included 'normal illness' strategies, use of health services and calls for complementary treatment. All groups were concerned about using medication every day. Expectations about the quality of life were varied, with recognition that restrictions may be based on parental beliefs about asthma, rather than asthma itself.
Conclusion
Information from these focus groups suggests mothers know a great deal about childhood asthma even though they have no personal experience of it. Knowledge of how mothers from these ethnic backgrounds perceive asthma may facilitate doctor – patient communication with parents of children experiencing breathing difficulties.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-2-4
PMCID: PMC58588  PMID: 11667951
4.  S-carboxymethylcysteine in the treatment of glue ear: quantitative systematic review 
Objective
To establish the clinical relevance of S-carboxymethylcysteine in the treatment of glue ear in children using measures approximating those saving a child from operation for grommet insertion.
Data sources
Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, reference lists and reviews were used for randomised controlled trials comparing S-carboxymethylcysteine with placebo. Seven trials involving 283 children and 146 ears were found.
Review methods
Studies were randomised, double-blind comparisons of S-carboxymethylcysteine (any dose and duration) with placebo in otitis media with effusion. Quality of trial reporting and validity of methods were assessed and used in sensitivity analysis. Main outcomes were relative benefit and number-needed-to-treat to prevent one grommet operation compared with placebo.
Results
Successful outcomes were obtained in 17% of children given placebo (range 5% to 38% in individual studies) and in 35% of children given S-carboxymethylcysteine (range 22 to 80%). For combined data (children and ears) the relative benefit was 2.0 (95%CI 1.4 to 2.8) and number-needed-to-treat 5.5 (95% confidence interval 3.8 to 9.8). Pooled data from trials of higher reporting quality (4/7) or methodological validity (3/7) tended to have lower efficacy but were not statistically different from those of lower quality or validity.
Conclusion
S-carboxymethylcysteine is effective in the treatment of children with glue ear. For every five or six children treated with S-carboxymethylcysteine over one to three months, one will not undergo surgery for grommet insertion who would have done had they been given placebo. The confidence in this conclusion is limited because studies included relatively few children.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-2-3
PMCID: PMC57002  PMID: 11580867
5.  High serum alkaline phosphatase levels, a study in 181 Thai adult hospitalized patients 
Background
Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an important enzyme mainly derived from the liver, bones and in lesser amounts from intestines, placenta, kidneys and leukocytes. An increase in ALP levels in the serum is frequently associated with a variety of diseases. This study was done in order to determine the diseases associated with a high ALP level among Thai adult hospitalized patients.
Method
A review was made of medical records of inpatients with high ALP level above 1000 IU/L in King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thailand from January 1999 to December 1999. Excluded were cases of (a) patients who have bone involvements with malignancies, (b) pediatric patients younger than 15 years old and c) HIV-seropositive patients.
Results
A total of 181 hospitalized patients with eligible medical records were identified (96 males and 85 females, mean age 49.4 ± 16.1 years). Their ALP levels ranging from 1,001 to 3,067 IU/L, these patients were divided into four groups.
Conclusion
High serum ALP levels in hospitalized patients were commonly found in three major groups having obstructive biliary diseases, infiltrative liver disease and sepsis. The study results were in accordance with previous reports in developed countries. Nonetheless, cholangiocarcionoma and some tropical diseases unique to our setting were also detected in these cases. where there was a marked elevation of serum ALP.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-2-2
PMCID: PMC55333  PMID: 11545676
6.  Practice and professional development plans (PPDPs): results of a feasibility study 
Background
Dissatisfaction with uniprofessional education structures as a means of improving the quality of healthcare has led to proposals to develop ways of integrating professional learning and organisational development.
Aims
Test the feasibility of introducing practice and professional development plans using a centrally sponsored project in Wales.
Design
Qualitative observational study.
Study sample
All 541 practices in Wales were alerted to the project and invited to apply. A selection process was suggested to Health Authorities but not always efficiently conducted: 23 practices were selected and 18 participated in the process.
Method
Central funding was made available to health authorities. The project framework was designed by an educational department and conceptualised as the development of personal portfolios linked to one key organisation change in each practice, facilitated by external consultants who would typically hold workshops or other events. An independent researcher using non-participant observation techniques at workshops and practices undertook documentary analysis and fieldwork in four health authorities.
Results
Difficulties were encountered with the process of implementing the project: marketing and practice selection inconsistencies delayed the work and it was difficult to recruit practices into the project. The lack of experienced individuals to do the work and practitioner suspicion about perceived 'management' agendas were significant problems. After initial hesitancies most practices appreciated the value of developing wider ownership and commitment to proposed practice changes. Organisations found it difficult to support individual completion of the personal portfolio component of the plans. The ability to develop systems for clinical services was dependent on having already established a culture of effective teamwork in the organisation.
Conclusions
This work supports the view that organisational development has considerable potential for bringing about effective change, and individual contributions could form a valuable component of personal portfolios. We believe that the existing structures in education and management in the health service are not yet able to support these processes. Evidence from the fields of risk management and quality improvement all point to the need to develop effective organisational systems and the results of this feasibility study indicate that alternative models of sustaining organisational development need careful evaluation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-2-1
PMCID: PMC31343  PMID: 11299046

Results 1-6 (6)