A randomized trial of the use of patient self-assessment data to improve community practices.
OBJECTIVE: Because of time constraints in the office environment, problems of concern to elderly patients may not be raised during clinic visits. To facilitate communication about geriatric health problems, we examined the impact of a strategy that used patient self-assessment data to improve community practices. DESIGN: Twenty-two primary care practices were randomized to participate in the intervention strategy (intervention practices) or to provide usual care (usual care practices). SETTING: Primary care practices in 16 towns in New Hampshire (total, 45 physicians). PATIENTS: 1651 patients 70 years of age or older. INTERVENTION: All patients received a mailed survey that asked about their health problems and about how well these problems were being addressed by their physicians. In the intervention practices, these data were used to generate a customized letter that directed the patient to specific sections in an 80-page modified version of the National Institute on Aging's Age Pages and were summarized and communicated to the patient's physician. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Change from baseline in patients' overall assessment of health care. RESULTS: In 8 of 11 intervention practices, patients felt that their care had improved over the 2-year study period. This improvement occurred in only 1 of 11 usual care practices (P = 0.003). Patients in intervention practices reported receiving significantly more help with physical function, fall prevention, and assistance for memory problems. Self-assessed health status did not differ in the two groups. CONCLUSION: A standard, easy-to-implement strategy to improve the quality of provider--patient interactions can improve the satisfaction of older patients cared for in community practices. (+info)
Screening mammography rates by specialty of the usual care physician.
CONTEXT: Although Medicare began paying for screening mammography in 1991, utilization among enrollees has been low. PRACTICE PATTERN EXAMINED: The relation between the specialty of the usual care physician and the proportion of women 65 years of age and older receiving mammography. DATA SOURCE: 100% Medicare Part B claims for 186,526 female enrollees residing in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont during 1993 and 1994. RESULTS: Among women of the target screening age (65 to 69 years), 55.4%, received mammography during the 2-year period. The highest rates of mammography were observed in women whose usual care physician was a gynecologist (77.9%; 95% CI, 75.8 to 79.9), followed by those treated by an internist (67.1%; CI, 66.5 to 67.7), family practitioner (58.1%; CI, 57.4 to 58.9), general practitioner (47.4%; CI, 45.4 to 49.5), and other specialists (41.3%; CI, 40.1 to 42.5). The lowest rates were observed in women who had no physician visits during the 2-year period (9.5%; CI, 8.7 to 10.4). Although screening rates were lower in women aged 70 years and older, a similar pattern was observed. CONCLUSIONS: The probability of a Medicare enrollee's receiving screening mammography is strongly influenced by the specialty of her usual care physician. Covering a preventive service does not guarantee its use. (+info)
Surgical treatment of early breast cancer: what would surgeons choose for themselves?
CONTEXT: Although breast-conserving surgery (BCS) is less invasive than mastectomy and results in similar survival, many women eligible for BCS continue to undergo mastectomy. Whether the persistent use of mastectomy means that women do not understand their options or reflects an informed preference is unknown. OBJECTIVE: To learn which treatment surgeons would choose when asked to imagine that they themselves had early-stage breast cancer. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SAMPLE: Convenience sample of 40 staff and resident surgeons attending surgical grand rounds at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 1998. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Choice of BCS or mastectomy for the treatment of stage I breast cancer. RESULTS: Twenty-six male and 14 female surgeons participated in the survey. Half chose BCS and half chose mastectomy for treatment of their hypothetical early-stage breast cancer. Results did not differ by the sex of the surgeon. CONCLUSION: Even after being reminded of the equivalent 10-year survival statistics, half of the surgeons surveyed said that they would choose mastectomy over BCS for themselves. The assumption that BCS is the "right" choice for early-stage breast cancer may be unwarranted because many patients may have an informed preference for mastectomy. (+info)
An outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica O:8 infections associated with pasteurized milk.
In October 1995, an outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica O:8 infections occurred in the Upper Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire. Ten patients were identified, median age 9 years (range, 6 months-44 years). Three patients were hospitalized; 1 underwent an appendectomy. Consumption of bottled pasteurized milk from a local dairy was associated with illness (matched odds ratio undefined; lower 95% confidence interval, 1.9). No deficiencies in pasteurization procedures or equipment were detected. Y. enterocolitica O:8 was isolated from 1 raw-milk sample and from a fecal sample from 1 dairy pig. The route of contamination was not determined; this outbreak likely resulted from postpasteurization contamination of milk. Dairy pigs were the most likely source of contamination. Milk bottles were likely contaminated by rinsing with untreated well water prior to filling or by other environmental routes. Educating dairy owners about Y. enterocolitica and postpasteurization contamination is necessary to prevent further outbreaks. (+info)
Helping women quit smoking: results of a community intervention program.
OBJECTIVES: This intervention was implemented to reduce the prevalence of cigarette smoking among women. METHODS: We used community organization approaches to create coalitions and task forces to develop and implement a multicomponent intervention in 2 counties in Vermont and New Hampshire, with a special focus on providing support to help women quit smoking. Evaluation was by pre-intervention and post-intervention random-digit-dialed telephone surveys in the intervention counties and the 2 matched comparison counties. RESULTS: In the intervention counties, compared with the comparison counties, the odds of a woman being a smoker after 4 years of program activities were 0.88 (95% confidence interval = 0.78, 1.00) (P = .02, 1-tailed); women smokers' perceptions of community norms about women smoking were significantly more negative (P = .002, 1-tailed); and the quit rate in the past 5 years was significantly greater (25.4% vs 21.4%; P = .02, 1-tailed). Quit rates were significantly higher in the intervention counties among younger women (aged 18 to 44 years); among women with household annual incomes of $25,000 or less; and among heavier smokers (those who smoked 25 or more cigarettes daily). CONCLUSIONS: In these rural counties, community participation in planning and implementing interventions was accompanied by favorable changes in women's smoking behavior. (+info)
Suspected brucellosis case prompts investigation of possible bioterrorism-related activity--New Hampshire and Massachusetts, 1999.
Brucella species, particularly B. melitensis and B. suis, are potential agents of biological terrorism (1,2). This report describes the public health and law enforcement assessment of a suspected case of brucellosis in a woman, in which the atypical clinical presentation and suspicious circumstances surrounding the case raised the possibility of biological terrorism. Although the investigation did not identify evidence of biological terrorism, the safe resolution of the case illustrates the value of integrated clinical, public health, and law enforcement biological terrorism preparedness and response. (+info)
Limb malformations and abnormal sex hormone concentrations in frogs.
Declines in amphibian populations, and amphibians with gross malformations, have prompted concern regarding the biological status of many anuran species. A survey of bullfrogs, Rana catesbeiana, and green frogs, Rana clamitans, conducted in central and southern New Hampshire showed malformed frogs at 81% of the sites sampled (13 of 16 sites). Brain gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and the synthesis of androgens and estradiol, hormones essential to reproductive processes, were measured from limb-malformed and normal (no limb malformation) frogs. Normal frogs had significantly higher concentrations (nearly 3-fold) of in vitro produced androgens and of brain GnRH than malformed frogs. Because most malformations are thought to occur during development, we propose that environmental factors or endocrine-disrupting chemicals that may cause developmental abnormalities also act during early development to ultimately cause abnormally reduced GnRH and androgen production in adult frogs. The consequences of reduced GnRH and androgens on anuran reproductive behavior and population dynamics are unknown but certainly may be profound and warrant further research. (+info)
Favourite movie stars, their tobacco use in contemporary movies, and its association with adolescent smoking.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the relation between adolescents' favourite movie stars, the portrayal of tobacco use by those stars in contemporary motion pictures, and adolescent smoking. DESIGN AND SETTING: 632 students (sixth to 12th grade, ages 10-19 years) from five rural New England public schools completed a voluntary, self administered survey in October 1996. The survey assessed tobacco use, other variables associated with adolescent smoking, and favourite movie star. In addition, tobacco use by 43 selected movie stars was measured in films between 1994 and 1996. OUTCOME MEASURES: Students were categorised into an ordinal five point index (tobacco status) based on their smoking behaviour and their smoking susceptibility: non-susceptible never smokers, susceptible never smokers, non-current experimenters, current experimenters, and smokers. We determined the adjusted cumulative odds of having advanced smoking status based on the amount of on-screen tobacco use by their favourite film star. RESULTS: Of the 43 stars, 65% used tobacco at least once, and 42% portrayed smoking as an essential character trait in one or more films. Stars who smoked more than twice in a film were considered smokers. For adolescents whose favourite stars smoked in only one film, the odds of being higher on the smoking index was 0.78 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53 to 1.15). For adolescents whose favourite stars smoked in two films, the odds of being higher on the smoking index was 1.5 (95% CI 1.01 to 2.32). For adolescents whose favourite stars smoked in three or more films (Leonardo DiCaprio, Sharon Stone, John Travolta), the odds of being higher on the smoking index was 3.1 (95% CI 1.34 to 7.12). Among never smokers (n = 281), those who chose stars who were smokers in three or more films were much more likely to have favourable attitudes toward smoking (adjusted odds ratio 16.2, 95% CI 2.3 to 112). CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents who choose movie stars who use tobacco on-screen are significantly more likely to have an advanced smoking status and more favourable attitudes toward smoking than adolescents who choose non-smoking stars. This finding supports the proposition that the portrayal of tobacco use in contemporary motion pictures, particularly by stars who are admired by adolescents, contributes to adolescent smoking. (+info)