A chiropractic service arrangement for musculoskeletal complaints in industry: a pilot study. (1/1298)

Chiropractic services are commonly used by workers with musculoskeletal problems, especially low back and neck complaints. Research into the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of this approach is, however, difficult to design without prior pilot studies. This study followed 32 workers with these complaints attending one such service and used five measures of outcome over a 6-month period. These measured pain (VAS), disability (FLP), quality of life (SF-36), perceived benefit and satisfaction with care. Additionally, sickness costs to the companies were recorded over two years encompassing the study period. Treatment utilization was also monitored. Over half the population were chronic sufferers. The effect sizes were large for pain and for seven out of eight dimensions of the SF-36 questionnaire at 6-month follow-up, although not for disability (FLP). High levels of satisfaction and perceived improvement were reported and sickness costs to the companies fell. However, the sample size in this pilot study was small and did not include controls. We would, therefore, recommend a full cost-effectiveness study incorporating a randomized trial in this area.  (+info)

Women's interest in vaginal microbicides. (2/1298)

CONTEXT: Each year, an estimated 15 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV, occur in the United States. Women are not only at a disadvantage because of their biological and social susceptibility, but also because of the methods that are available for prevention. METHODS: A nationally representative sample of 1,000 women aged 18-44 in the continental United States who had had sex with a man in the last 12 months were interviewed by telephone. Analyses identified levels and predictors of women's worry about STDs and interest in vaginal microbicides, as well as their preferences regarding method characteristics. Numbers of potential U.S. microbicide users were estimated. RESULTS: An estimated 21.3 million U.S. women have some potential current interest in using a microbicidal product. Depending upon product specifications and cost, as many as 6.0 million women who are worried about getting an STD would be very interested in current use of a microbicide. These women are most likely to be unmarried and not cohabiting, of low income and less education, and black or Hispanic. They also are more likely to have visited a doctor for STD symptoms or to have reduced their sexual activity because of STDs, to have a partner who had had other partners in the past year, to have no steady partner or to have ever used condoms for STD prevention. CONCLUSIONS: A significant minority of women in the United States are worried about STDs and think they would use vaginal microbicides. The development, testing and marketing of such products should be expedited.  (+info)

Raising the bar: the use of performance guarantees by the Pacific Business Group on Health. (3/1298)

In 1996 the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) negotiated more than two dozen performance guarantees with thirteen of California's largest health maintenance organizations (HMOs) on behalf the seventeen large employers in its Negotiating Alliance. The negotiations put more than $8 million at risk for meeting performance targets with the goal of improving the performance of all health plans. Nearly $2 million, or 23 percent of the premium at risk, was refunded to the PBGH by the HMOs for missed targets. The majority of plans met their targets for satisfaction with the health plan and physicians, as well as cesarean section, mammography, Pap smear, and prenatal care rates. However, eight of the thirteen plans missed their targets for childhood immunizations, refunding 86 percent of the premium at risk.  (+info)

Clinicians' satisfaction with a hospital blood transfusion service: a marketing analysis of a monopoly supplier. (4/1298)

One of the objectives of the NHS reforms is to improve customer focus within the health service. In a study to assess the quality of customer service provided by the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Blood Transfusion Service a 19 item questionnaire survey of the main clinical users of the service was performed to ascertain their satisfaction, measured on a 5 point anchored scale, with important aspects of the service, including medical consultation, diagnostic services, blood and blood components or products and their delivery, and general satisfaction with the service. Of 122 clinicians in medical and surgical disciplines in five hospitals in Edinburgh, 72 (59%) replied. Fourteen (22%) indicated dissatisfaction with any aspect of the medical consultation service, owing to inadequate follow up of clinical contacts and unsatisfactory routing of incoming calls. Diagnostic services were criticised for the presentation, communication, and interpretation of results. The restricted availability of whole blood, the necessity to order platelets and plasma through the duty blood transfusion service doctor, and the use of a group and screen policy, attracted criticism from a small number of clinicians. Ten of 68 respondents expressed dissatisfaction with delivery of blood and components to the wards and theatres. The findings indicate that the clinicians served by this blood transfusion service are largely satisfied with the service. Changes are being implemented to improve reporting of laboratory results and measures taken to improve liaison with clinicians.  (+info)

Diabetes care: who are the experts? (5/1298)

OBJECTIVES: To identify issues that patients and professionals consider important in diabetes care and differences in their priorities for care and to determine patients' and professionals' judgements of the relative importance of their chosen priorities. DESIGN: Structured group interviews using the nominal group technique. SETTING: Five district health authorities on Tyneside. SUBJECTS: Five nominal groups: expert (seven), non-expert (seven) health care professionals; insulin dependent (four), non-insulin dependent patients (eight); and carers of diabetic patients (eight). MAIN MEASURES: Items important in diabetes care to each nominal group (themes of care), ranked into a series of "top 10" items for each group, and allocated a score according to relative importance to individual members; scores were standardised by individual weighting and group weighting for comparison within and between groups. RESULTS: Patients and professionals agreed that information given to patients, interaction between professionals and patients, patient autonomy, and access were important for good diabetes care, but the importance assigned to each differed. Thus the professionals emphasised empathy and aspects of good communication and patients the desire to know enough to live a "normal" life. Differences were also found within the patient groups; these related to changes in patients' needs at specific points in the development of their illness and in their orientations to care. CONCLUSION: Patients differ from professionals in their orientation to diabetes care, and they can, and should, be involved in setting priorities for care. Since these priorities are dynamic further work is needed to explore the nature of patient satisfaction with diabetes care.  (+info)

Involving consumers in assessing service quality: benefits of using a qualitative approach. (6/1298)

Although important to users, practice standards rarely incorporate users' views of care provided. These views are a valuable source of information, even though there are limits to their value. To improve the standards of care in a 20 bed hospital elderly care unit caring for acute medical conditions a qualitative approach was used. Patients' and carers' perceptions of care and problems with the process of care in the unit were elicited with a specially designed semistructured interview schedule in 83 separate tape recorded interviews with a research nurse in patients' homes. In all, 50 patients and 35 carers were interviewed between 6 June 1991 and 28 May 1992. Of the 50 patients, 33 were female; seven patients were aged less than 80 years, 16, 80-85; 21, 86-90; and six over 90. A total of 16 patients lived with spouses or other carers, two with non-carers, and 32 lived alone, 18 of whom received informal care. Content analysis of the interviews disclosed patients' and carers' general satisfaction with individualised professional care and planning of follow up services on discharge but dissatisfaction in the lack of information about and involvement in treatment and care and about specific staff notes. These findings have prompted remedial changes in clinical practice in the unit; they have also formed the structure of a criterion based survey of practice. The authors conclude that the qualitative approach suited elderly users and also provided the basis for the findings to be incorporated into a continuous audit cycle through a process of feedback and standard setting.  (+info)

The privatization of health care in three Latin American social security systems. (7/1298)

Most Latin American social security institutes are direct providers of medical care services to their beneficiaries. As many of the institutes have developed serious financial problems over the course of the last decade and a half, they have come under increasing attack for (a) exacerbating inequalities in access to and use of health care, (b) further heightening the geographic overconcentration of services, (c) focusing a disproportionate amount of resources on high technology, curative care to the near total exclusion of primary health care, and (d) being administratively top heavy and, more generally, inefficient. In the past few years, many Latin American countries have begun searching for methods to ameliorate these problems. This paper analyzes three recent efforts, all of which involve some degree of privatization: (1) El Salvador's partial privatization of specialty physician outpatient consultations, (2) Peru's minor surgery and its decentralized ambulatory care programme, and (3) Nicaragua's "administrative services only' approach wherein social security beneficiaries choose to join a certified public or private provider organization for one year, and, on behalf of the individual, social security pays the organization a fixed, annual, per capita fee to provide all health care for the enrollee. The paper also identifies political and technical considerations, as well as health care market characteristics that have shaped these efforts and that condition their likelihood of success, including: the size, composition, level of capacity utilization, degree of organization and geographic distribution of private sector resources; relative prices in the private vis-a-vis the public sector; and the size and nature of the private health insurance market. Other Latin American countries would do well to examine these factors and characteristics before embarking on efforts to reform their own social security health care delivery systems.  (+info)

Satisfaction with telephone advice from an accident and emergency department: identifying areas for service improvement. (8/1298)

OBJECTIVES: Members of the public often telephone general practice, accident and emergency departments, and other health services for advice. However, satisfaction related to telephone consultation has received relatively little attention. This study aimed to describe the views of callers to an accident and emergency department who expressed any element of dissatisfaction about their telephone consultation. This was part of a larger study intended to help identify areas for service improvement. METHODS: A telephone consultation record form was used to document details of advice calls made to the accident and emergency department over a three month period. Callers who provided a telephone number were followed up within 72 hours. The interviews were tape recorded, transcribed, and explored using content analysis for emerging themes related to dissatisfaction. RESULTS: 203 callers were contacted within 72 hours of their call, of which 197 (97%) agreed to participate. 11 (5.6%) expressed global dissatisfaction, and a further 34 (17%) callers expressed at least one element of dissatisfaction at some point during the interview. Sources of dissatisfaction fell into four broad categories, each of which included more specific aspects of dissatisfaction: 36 (80%) callers were dissatisfied with advice issues, 31 (69%) with process aspects, such as the interpersonal skills of the staff member who took the call, 23 (51%) due to lack of acknowledgement of physical or emotional needs, and 11 (24%) due to access problems. CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the findings of other work and identifies three issues for particular consideration in improving the practice of telephone consultation: (a) training of health professionals at both undergraduate and specialist levels should cover telephone communication skills, (b) specific attention needs to be given to ensuring that the information and advice given over the phone is reliable and consistent, and (c) organisational change is required, including the introduction of departmental policies for telephone advice which should become the subject of regular audit.  (+info)