Do studies of the nature of cases mislead about the reality of cases? A response to Pattison et al.
This article questions whether many are misled by current case studies. Three broad types of style of case study are described. A stark style, based on medical case studies, a fictionalised style in reaction, and a personal statement made in discussion groups by an original protagonist. Only the second type fits Pattison's category. Language remains an important issue, but to be examined as the case is lived in discussion rather than as a potentially reductionist study of the case as text. (+info)
Effect of discussion and deliberation on the public's views of priority setting in health care: focus group study.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the extent to which people change their views about priority setting in health care as a result of discussion and deliberation. DESIGN: A random sample of patients from two urban general practices was invited to attend two focus group meetings, a fortnight apart. SETTING: North Yorkshire Health Authority. SUBJECTS: 60 randomly chosen patients meeting in 10 groups of five to seven people. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Differences between people's views at the start of the first meeting and at the end of the second meeting, after they have had an opportunity for discussion and deliberation, measured by questionnaires at the start of the first meeting and the end of the second meeting. RESULTS: Respondents became more reticent about the role that their views should play in determining priorities and more sympathetic to the role that healthcare managers play. About a half of respondents initially wanted to give lower priority to smokers, heavy drinkers, and illegal drug users, but after discussion many no longer wished to discriminate against these people. CONCLUSION: The public's views about setting priorities in health care are systematically different when they have been given an opportunity to discuss the issues. If the considered opinions of the general public are required, surveys that do not allow respondents time or opportunity for reflection may be of doubtful value. (+info)
The dangers of managerial perversion: quality assurance in primary health care.
The promotion of primary health care (PHC) at the Alma Ata conference has been followed by a variety of managerial initiatives in support of the development of PHC. One of the more promising vehicles has been the implementation of quality assurance mechanisms. This paper reviews recent examples of this genre and argues that the thrust of both primary health care and quality assurance are in danger of being distorted by a rather antiquated approach to management. (+info)
Nurses' participation in audit: a regional study.
OBJECTIVES: To find out to what extent nurses were perceived to be participating in audit, to identify factors thought to impede their involvement, and to assess progress towards multidisciplinary audit. RESEARCH DESIGN: Qualitative. METHODS: Focus groups and interviews. PARTICIPANTS: Chairs of audit groups and audit support staff in hospital, community and primary health care and audit leads in health authorities in the North West Region. RESULTS: In total 99 audit leads/support staff in the region participated representing 89% of the primary health care audit groups, 80% of acute hospitals, 73% of community health services, and 59% of purchasers. Many audit groups remain medically dominated despite recent changes to their structure and organisation. The quality of interprofessional relations, the leadership style of the audit chair, and nurses' level of seniority, audit knowledge, and experience influenced whether groups reflected a multidisciplinary, rather than a doctor centred approach. Nurses were perceived to be enthusiastic supporters of audit, although their active participation in the process was considered substantially less than for doctors in acute and community health services. Practice nurses were increasingly being seen as the local audit enthusiasts in primary health care. Reported obstacles to nurses' participation in audit included hierarchical nurse and doctor relationships, lack of commitment from senior doctors and managers, poor organisational links between departments of quality and audit, work load pressures and lack of protected time, availability of practical support, and lack of knowledge and skills. Progress towards multidisciplinary audit was highly variable. The undisciplinary approach to audit was still common, particularly in acute services. Multidisciplinary audit was more successfully established in areas already predisposed towards teamworking or where nurses had high involvement in decision making. Audit support staff were viewed as having a key role in helping teams to adopt a collaborative approach to audit. CONCLUSION: Although nurses were undertaking audit, and some were leading developments in their settings, a range of structural and organisational, interprofessional and intraprofessional factors was still impeding progress. If the ultimate goal of audit is to improve patient care, the obstacles that make it difficult for nurses to contribute actively to the process must be acknowledged and considered. (+info)
The effects of group size and group economic factors on collaboration: a study of the financial performance of rural hospitals in consortia.
STUDY QUESTIONS: To determine factors that distinguish effective rural hospital consortia from ineffective ones in terms of their ability to improve members' financial performance. Two questions in particular were addressed: (1) Do large consortia have a greater collective impact on their members? (2) Does a consortium's economic environment determine the degree of collective impact on members? DATA SOURCES AND STUDY SETTING: Based on the hospital survey conducted during February 1992 by the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital-Based Rural Health Care project of rural hospital consortia. The survey data were augmented with data from Medicare Cost Reports (1985-1991), AHA Annual Surveys (1985-1991), and other secondary data. STUDY DESIGN: Dependent variables were total operating profit, cost per adjusted admission, and revenue per adjusted admission. Control variables included degree of group formalization, degree of inequality of resources among members (group asymmetry), affiliation with other consortium group(s), individual economic environment, common hospital characteristics (bed size, ownership type, system affiliation, case mix, etc.), year (1985-1991), and census region dummies. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: All dependent variables have a curvilinear association with group size. The optimum group size is somewhere in the neighborhood of 45. This reveals the benefits of collective action (i.e., scale economies and/or synergy effects) and the issue of complexity as group size increases. Across analyses, no strong evidence exists of group economic environment impacts, and the environmental influences come mainly from the local economy rather than from the group economy. CONCLUSION: There may be some success stories of collaboration among hospitals in consortia, and consortium effects vary across different collaborations. RELEVANCE/IMPACT: When studying consortia, it makes sense to develop a typology of groups based on some performance indicators. The results of this study imply that government, rural communities, and consortium staff and steering committees should forge the consortium concept by expanding membership in order to gain greater financial benefits for individual hospitals. (+info)
Introducing a quality improvement programme to primary healthcare teams.
OBJECTIVES: To evaluate a programme in which quality improvement was facilitated, based on principles of total quality management, in primary healthcare teams, and to determine its feasibility, acceptability, effectiveness, and the duration of its effect. METHOD: Primary healthcare teams in Leicestershire (n = 147) were invited to take part in the facilitated programme. The programme comprised seven team meetings, led by a researcher, plus up to two facilitated meetings of quality improvement subgroups, appointed by each team to consider specific quality issues. OUTCOME MEASURES: To assess the effect and feasibility of the programme on improving the quality of care provided, the individual quality improvement projects undertaken by the teams were documented and opportunities for improvement were noted at each session by the facilitator. The programme's acceptability was assessed with questionnaires issued in the final session to each participant. To assess the long term impact on teams, interviews with team members were conducted 3 years after the programme ended. RESULTS: 10 of the 27 teams that initially expressed interest in the programme agreed to take part, and six started the programme. Of these, five completed their quality improvement projects and used several different quality tools, and three completed all seven sessions of the programme. The programme was assessed as appropriate and acceptable by the participants. Three years later, the changes made during the programme were still in place in three of the six teams. Four teams had decided to undertake the local quality monitoring programme, resourced and supported by the Health Authority. CONCLUSIONS: The facilitated programme was feasible, acceptable, and effective for a few primary healthcare teams. The outcomes of the programme can be sustained. Research is needed on the characteristics of teams likely to be successful in the introduction and maintenance of quality improvement programmes. (+info)
Food refusal in prisoners: a communication or a method of self-killing? The role of the psychiatrist and resulting ethical challenges.
Food refusal occurs for a variety of reasons. It may be used as a political tool, as a method of exercising control over others, at either the individual, family or societal level, or as a method of self-harm, and occasionally it indicates possible mental illness. This article examines the motivation behind hunger strikes in prisoners. It describes the psychiatrist's role in assessment and management of prisoners by referring to case examples. The paper discusses the assessment of an individual's competence to commit suicide by starvation, legal restraints to intervention, practical difficulties and associated ethical dilemmas. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most prisoners who refuse food are motivated by the desire to achieve an end rather than killing themselves, and that hunger-strike secondary to mental illness is uncommon. Although rarely required, the psychiatrist may have an important contribution to make in the management of practical and ethical difficulties. (+info)
Bioethics of the refusal of blood by Jehovah's Witnesses: Part 3. A proposal for a don't-ask-don't-tell policy.
Of growing concern over Jehovah's Witnesses' (JWs) refusal of blood is the intrusion of the religious organisation into its members' personal decision making about medical care. The organisation currently may apply severe religious sanctions to JWs who opt for certain forms of blood-based treatment. While the doctrine may be maintained as the unchangeable "law of God", the autonomy of individual JW patients could still be protected by the organisation modifying its current policy so that it strictly adheres to the right of privacy regarding personal medical information. The author proposes that the controlling religious organisation adopt a "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy, which assures JWs that they would neither be asked nor compelled to reveal personal medical information, either to one another or to the church organisation. This would relieve patients of the fear of breach of medical confidentiality and ensure a truly autonomous decision on blood-based treatments without fear of organisational control or sanction. (+info)