Information exchange in an epilepsy forum on the World Wide Web.
The Partners Healthcare Epilepsy Service hosts an epilepsy 'Webforum'. In this paper, we describe our observations regarding who uses it, what kind of information is exchanged, how much misinformation is present and how we can better serve our patients. We examined a sample of 155 posts to the forum and 342 responses to those posts. The individual making the post and the type of questions were categorized. We also determined whether any information was objectively inaccurate. The principal users were care-givers (49%) and patients (34%). Eighty percent of the primary posts were questions. Answers were given largely by patients (38%) and care-givers (34%). The most commonly asked questions were about treatment options (31%) and the natural history of the illness (28%). In 20% of the questions, the user incidentally remarked that a health-care provider had not met their information needs. Six percent of the information was objectively inaccurate. The Web can serve as an effective means for the exchange of information between individuals with a common medical condition. We found that a small amount of misinformation is exchanged and that health-care providers are sometimes perceived as unable or unwilling to supply important health-related information. (+info)
An audit of distribution and use of guidelines for management of head injury.
Ensuring effective distribution of guidelines is an important step towards their implementation. To examine the effectiveness of dissemination of a guidelines card on management of head injury and determine its usefulness to senior house officers (SHOs), a questionnaire survey was performed in May 1990, after distribution of the cards in induction packs for new doctors and at postgraduate lectures and displaying the guidelines in accident and emergency departments and wards. A further survey, in March 1992, assessed the impact of modifying the distribution. All (175) SHOs working in general surgery, accident and emergency medicine, orthopaedics, and neurosciences on 1 February 1990 in 19 hospitals including two neurosurgical units in Northern region were sent self completion questionnaires about awareness, receipt, use, and perceived usefulness of the guidelines. 131 of 163(80%) SHOs in post responded (median response from hospitals 83% (range 50%-100%)). Over three quarters (103, 79%) of SHOs were aware of the guidelines and 82(63%) had ever possessed a guidelines card. Only 36(44%) acquired the card in the induction pack. 92%(98/107) found them useful and 81% (89/110) referred to them to some extent. Owning and carrying the card and referring to guidelines were associated with departmental encouragement to use the guidelines. Increasing the displays of guidelines in wards and departments and the supply of cards to consultants in accident and emergency medicine as a result of this survey did not increase the number of SHOs who received cards (52/83, 63%), but more (71/83, 86%) were aware of the guidelines. The guidelines were welcomed by SHOs and used in treating patients with head injury, but their distribution requires improvement. Increased use of the guidelines may be achieved by introducing other distribution methods and as a result of encouragement by senior staff. (+info)
Developing countries' health expenditure information: what exists and what is needed?
In the past decade, the scarcity of financial resources for the health sector has increasingly led countries to take stock of national health resources used, review allocation patterns, assess the efficiency of existing resource use, and study health financing options. The primary difficulties in undertaking these analyses have been 1) the lack of information on health expenditures and 2) not using existing information to improve the planning and management of health sector resources. The principle sources of available health expenditure information are reported by organizations such as the World Bank, WHO, UNICEF and OECD. Special studies and non-routine information are a second major source of information. This existing data has a number of difficulties, including being sporadic, inconsistency, inclusion of only national level public expenditure, high opportunity and maintenance costs, quantitative and qualitative differences across countries, and validity and interpretability problems. Reliable health expenditure data would be useful not only for in-country, national purposes, but also for cross-national comparisons and for development agencies. Country uses of health expenditure data include policy formulation and planning and management, while international uses would facilitate examination of cross-national comparisons, reviews of existing programmes and identification of funding priorities. Collaborative efforts between countries and international development agencies, as well as between agencies, are needed to establish guidelines for health expenditure data sets. This development must ensure that the resulting information is of direct benefit to countries, as well as to agencies. Results of such collaborative efforts may include a set of standardized methodologies and tools; standardized national health accounts for developing countries; and training to enhance national capabilities to actively use the information. The opportunities for such collaboration are unique with the issuance of the World Development Report 1993, to build on this work in clearly identifying what is needed and proposing a standardized data set and the tools necessary to regularly and economically gather such data. (+info)
Comparison of patients' needs for information on prostate surgery with printed materials provided by surgeons.
OBJECTIVES: To identify strengths, weaknesses, and omissions in existing leaflets and factsheets on prostatectomy given by surgeons to patients. DESIGN: Comparison of content of leaflets and factsheets with patients' needs and discontents in a questionnaire survey as part of the national prostatectomy audit. SETTING: All NHS and independent hospitals performing prostatectomy in four health regions. SUBJECTS: 87 surgeons, 53 of whom used printed material to inform patients about their operations; a total of 25 different factsheets being used. 5361 men undergoing prostatectomy were sent a closed response questionnaire about their treatment; 4226 men returned it completed. A random sample of 2000 patients was asked for further comments, of whom 807 supplied pertinent comments. MAIN MEASURES: Content of the 25 factsheets compared with patients' needs identified in the questionnaires. RESULTS: Much of the information distributed had considerable shortcomings: it lacked uniformity in form and content, topics of relevance to patients were omitted, terminology was often poor, and patients' experience was at variance with what their surgeons said. For example, only one factsheet discussed the potential consequences of malignancy. Patients wanted more information on prostate cancer (1250(29%)) and some thought that the explanation of biopsy results was inadequate (29(4%)). Only six factsheets discussed the possible changes in sexual sensation after transurethral resection of the prostate, stating that patients would feel no change. However, 1490(35%) patients reported a change and 500(12%) were worried about it. CONCLUSION: Current standards of printed information do not meet the needs and requirements of patients undergoing prostatectomy. (+info)
Practice guidelines in Finland: availability and quality.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the quantity, quality, and availability of practice guidelines currently used in Finland. DESIGN: Cross sectional survey. METHODS: Guidelines from 1989 to 1995 were collected through a database search, through hand searches of the two Finnish general medical journals, and through an inquiry into hospitals, health centres, and medical societies. The content and source of evidence for guidelines was assessed. RESULTS: 719 practice guidelines were found. 578 guidelines (80%) were retrieved by the inquiry, the database search identified 27 (4%) and hand searches 106 (15%). There were 150 guidelines (21%) developed nationally, 120 (17%) regionally, and 449 (62%) locally. The structure and quality of evidence supporting the guidelines was variable and only two guidelines were based on meta-analysis. The references were significantly more often (P < 0.001) documented in the national guidelines (n = 129, 86%) than in the regional or local guidelines (n = 65, 11%). CONCLUSIONS: There are many ways of disseminating guidelines and it may be difficult for end users to find the appropriate guidelines. Sources of evidence were seldom documented in the regional and local guidelines and even some national guidelines lacked all references. More attention should be paid to documenting the level of evidence, structuring the guidelines, and creating optimal strategies for development and dissemination of guidelines. (+info)
AIDS information needs: conceptual and content analyses of questions asked of AIDS information hotlines.
Dissemination of accurate information about HIV is an essential element of national AIDS prevention strategies and AIDS telephone hotlines serve a vital function in providing such information. In this study, questions asked of two AIDS information hotlines were collected and examined to determine the AIDS information needs of the general public. Questions asked of local AIDS lines in Houston and Milwaukee (N = 1611) were independently classified into 30 content areas, with two independent raters achieving 94% agreement. The content areas were organized for analysis into 11 broader information domains. Questions about HIV antibody testing were the most frequently asked (27%), followed by questions about sexual transmission of HIV (16%), HIV-related symptoms (16%) and situations that do not confer risk for HIV infection (14%). Content analyses suggested that individuals were motivated to call hotlines by fears of contracting HIV from actual risk behaviors or to dismiss concerns about contracting HIV through casual modes. Many individuals had information needs related to their own personal experiences that could not be addressed through media campaigns or other means of mass public health education. Results suggest that HIV information dissemination to the public through hotlines and other means of direct health education serves both preventive and destigmatizing functions. (+info)
Reform follows failure: II. Pressure for change in the Lebanese health sector.
This paper describes how, against a background of growing financial crisis, pressure for reform is building up in the Lebanese health care system. It describes the various agendas and influences that played a role. The Ministry of Health, backed by some international organizations, has started taking the lead in a reform that addresses both the way care is delivered and the way it is financed. The paper describes the interventions made to prepare reform. The experience in Lebanon shows that this preparation is a process of muddling through, experimentation and alliance building, rather than the marketing of an overall coherent blueprint. (+info)
Impact of national immunization days on polio-related knowledge and practice of urban women in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh began to hold National Immunization Days (NIDs) from 1995 as part of the country's goal to eradicate poliomyelitis by the turn of the century. The NIDs brought together government agencies, the media, voluntary organisations and individual volunteers in social mobilization and service delivery activities. This paper assesses the impact of the first two polio NIDs in terms of the immunization coverage and change in knowledge about the disease among women living in Dhaka city, the capital of the country. Data were collected through pre- and post-NID cross-sectional surveys in a sample of one area of Dhaka city which included slum and non-slum households. Knowledge data were collected from 525 women with at least one child aged less than five years. The oral polio vaccine (OPV) coverage during NIDs was obtained from 720 children. Knowledge of polio as a vaccine preventable disease increased after NIDs among both slum and non-slum women. The knowledge gap between the two groups was significantly reduced. Field workers, who regularly visit women at their homes to promote health and family planning services, were the main source of information for the slum women while television was cited as the most important source of information by non-slum women. The study revealed that 88% of children under five years received at least one dose of oral polio vaccine (OPV) during NIDs, and 67% received two stipulated doses with no significant differences between slum (65%) and non-slum (69%) groups. In addition, 68% of the children contacted during the NIDs were given vitamin A supplementation. The study suggests that strategies like NID can be effectively used to tap into community resources and to generate political commitments for health programmes. (+info)