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1.  Obstetrical outcome valuations by patients, professionals, and laypersons: differences within and between groups using three valuation methods 
Background
Decision-making can be based on treatment preferences of the patient, the doctor, or by guidelines based on lay people's preferences. We compared valuations assigned by three groups: patients, obstetrical care professionals, and laypersons, for health states involving both mother and (unborn) child. Our aim was to compare the valuations of different groups using different valuation methods and complex obstetric health outcome vignettes that involve both maternal and neonatal outcomes.
Methods
Patients (n = 24), professionals (n = 30), and laypersons (n = 27) valued the vignettes using three valuation methods: visual analogue scale (VAS), time trade-off (TTO), and discrete choice experimentation (DCE). Each vignette covered five health attributes: maternal health ante partum, time between diagnosis and delivery, process of delivery, maternal outcome, and neonatal outcome. We used feasibility questionnaires, Generalization theory, test-retest reliability and within-group reliability to compare the valuation patterns between groups and methods. We assessed relative weights from each valuation method to test for consistency across groups.
Results
Test-retest reliability was equal across groups, but different across methods: highest for VAS (ICC = 0.61-0.73), intermediate for TTO (ICC = 0.24-0.74) and lowest for DCE (kappa = 0.15-0.37). Within-group reliability was highest in all groups with VAS (ICC = 0.70-0.73), intermediate with DCE (kappa = 0.56-0.76) and lowest with TTO (ICC = 0.20-0.66). Effects of groups were smaller than effects of methods. Differences between groups were largest for severe health states.
Conclusion
Based on our results, decision making among laypersons should use TTO or DCE; patients should use VAS or TTO.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-93
PMCID: PMC3226638  PMID: 22078302
health outcome valuation; preference; vignettes; psychometrics; pregnancy; obstetrics
2.  Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification versus karyotyping in prenatal diagnosis: the M.A.K.E. study 
Background
In the past 30 years karyotyping was the gold standard for prenatal diagnosis of chromosomal aberrations in the fetus. Traditional karyotyping (TKT) has a high accuracy and reliability. However, it is labor intensive, the results take 14–21 days, the costs are high and unwanted findings such as abnormalities with unknown clinical relevance are not uncommon. These disadvantages challenged the practice of karyotyping. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) is a new molecular genetic technique in prenatal diagnosis. Previous preclinical evidence suggests equivalence of MLPA and traditional karyotyping (TKT) regarding test performance.
Methods/Design
The proposed study is a multicentre diagnostic substitute study among pregnant women, who choose to have amniocentesis for the indication advanced maternal age and/or increased risk following prenatal screening test. In all subjects, both MLPA and karyotyping will be performed on the amniotic fluid sample. The primary outcome is diagnostic accuracy. Secondary outcomes will be maternal quality of life, women's preferences and costs. Analysis will be intention to treat and per protocol analysis. Quality of life analysis will be carried out within the study population. The study aims to include 4500 women.
Discussion
The study results are expected to help decide whether MLPA can replace traditional karyotyping for 'low-risk' pregnancies in terms of diagnostic accuracy, quality of life and women's preferences. This will be the first clinical study to report on all relevant aspects of the potential replacement.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN47252164
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-8-18
PMCID: PMC2405770  PMID: 18492228
3.  Induction of labour versus expectant monitoring in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at term: the HYPITAT trial 
Background
Hypertensive disorders, i.e. pregnancy induced hypertension and preeclampsia, complicate 10 to15% of all pregnancies at term and are a major cause of maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. The only causal treatment is delivery. In case of preterm pregnancies conservative management is advocated if the risks for mother and child remain acceptable. In contrast, there is no consensus on how to manage mild hypertensive disease in pregnancies at term. Induction of labour might prevent maternal and neonatal complications at the expense of increased instrumental vaginal delivery rates and caesarean section rates.
Methods/Design
Women with a pregnancy complicated by pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks will be asked to participate in a multi-centre randomised controlled trial. Women will be randomised to either induction of labour or expectant management for spontaneous delivery. The primary outcome of this study is severe maternal morbidity, which can be complicated by maternal mortality in rare cases. Secondary outcome measures are neonatal mortality and morbidity, caesarean and vaginal instrumental delivery rates, maternal quality of life and costs. Analysis will be by intention to treat. In total, 720 pregnant women have to be randomised to show a reduction in severe maternal complications of hypertensive disease from 12 to 6%.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence as to whether or not induction of labour in women with pregnancy induced hypertension or mild preeclampsia (nearly) at term is an effective treatment to prevent severe maternal complications.
Trial Registration
The protocol is registered in the clinical trial register number ISRCTN08132825.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-14
PMCID: PMC1950708  PMID: 17662114
4.  Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term: DIGITAT 
Background
Around 80% of intrauterine growth restricted (IUGR) infants are born at term. They have an increase in perinatal mortality and morbidity including behavioral problems, minor developmental delay and spastic cerebral palsy. Management is controversial, in particular the decision whether to induce labour or await spontaneous delivery with strict fetal and maternal surveillance. We propose a randomised trial to compare effectiveness, costs and maternal quality of life for induction of labour versus expectant management in women with a suspected IUGR fetus at term.
Methods/design
The proposed trial is a multi-centre randomised study in pregnant women who are suspected on clinical grounds of having an IUGR child at a gestational age between 36+0 and 41+0 weeks. After informed consent women will be randomly allocated to either induction of labour or expectant management with maternal and fetal monitoring. Randomisation will be web-based. The primary outcome measure will be a composite neonatal morbidity and mortality. Secondary outcomes will be severe maternal morbidity, maternal quality of life and costs. Moreover, we aim to assess neurodevelopmental and neurobehavioral outcome at two years as assessed by a postal enquiry (Child Behavioral Check List-CBCL and Ages and Stages Questionnaire-ASQ). Analysis will be by intention to treat. Quality of life analysis and a preference study will also be performed in the same study population. Health technology assessment with an economic analysis is part of this so called Digitat trial (Disproportionate Intrauterine Growth Intervention Trial At Term). The study aims to include 325 patients per arm.
Discussion
This trial will provide evidence for which strategy is superior in terms of neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, costs and maternal quality of life aspects. This will be the first randomised trial for IUGR at term.
Trial registration
Dutch Trial Register and ISRCTN-Register: ISRCTN10363217.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-12
PMCID: PMC1933438  PMID: 17623077
5.  When outcome is a balance: methods to measure combined utility for the choice between induction of labour and expectant management in mild risk pregnancy at term 
Background
When the primary and secondary outcomes of clinical studies yield ambiguous or conflicting recommendations, preference or valuation studies may help to overcome the decision problem. The present preference study is attached to two clinical studies (DIGTAT, ISRCT10363217; HYPITAT, ISRCT08132825) that evaluate induction of labour versus expectant management in term pregnancies with a mild risk profile. The purpose of the present study is to compare four methods of valuation/preference measurement.
Methods
Multidimensional health state descriptions ('vignettes') defined by attributes and levels are presented to different response groups: laypersons, (ex-) patients, and medical experts. Valuations/preferences are measured with the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Time Trade-Off (TTO), Willingness to Pay (WTP) and Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE) techniques. These methods are compared in terms of feasibility, reliability and validity.
Anticipated results
By comparing the four techniques, we aim to answer (1) which of the techniques is most feasible, reliable and valid for use in multidimensional decision problems; (2) which of the techniques can be recommended for use in economic evaluations, and (3) do different response groups produce systematically different valuations, and if so, how can these be used to interpret preference results and to contribute to the development of clinical guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-10
PMCID: PMC1949408  PMID: 17610715

Results 1-5 (5)