Comparison of active and cancer registry-based follow-up for breast cancer in a prospective cohort study.
The authors compared the relative effectiveness of two distinct follow-up designs in prospective cohort studies--the active approach, based on direct contact with study subjects, and the passive approach, based on record linkages with population-based cancer registries--utilizing available information from the New York University Women's Health Study (WHS) and the New York State Cancer Registry (NYSCR). The analyses were limited to breast cancer cases identified during the period 1985-1992, for which follow-up was considered reasonably complete by both the WHS and the NYSCR. Among 12,947 cohort members who reported a New York State address, 303 pathologically confirmed cases were identified through active follow-up and 284 through record linkage. Sixty-three percent of cancers were identified by both sources, 21% by the WHS only, and 16% by the NYSCR only. The agreement was appreciably better for invasive cancers. The percentage of cases identified only by the NYSCR was increased among subjects whose active follow-up was incomplete, as well as among nonwhites, obese patients, and parous patients. This suggests that relying on either type of follow-up alone may introduce certain biases in evaluating risk factors for breast cancer. Combining both approaches appears to be a better strategy in prospective cohort studies. (+info)
Morphological adaptation to thermal stress in a marine fish, Fundulus heteroclitus.
Populations of Fundulus heteroclitus (Cyprinodontidae), a coastal marine fish, were studied in control and artificially heated environments on the north shore of Long Island to determine patterns of variation in morphology and the extent to which this variation reflected adaptation to environmental characteristics. Principal components and discriminant function analyses were used to analyze variation in and among seventeen morphological characters. Fishes living in water artificially heated by a power plant exhibited marked divergence from control populations in head morphology, and convergence with a population sampled at more southern latitudes. Hence, these differences were interpreted as adaptations to warm environments. Greater morphological variation is detected at the heated locality than at control localities, and this may be partially due to a breakdown in developmental homeostasis, and partially due to selection favoring phenotypes that are rare in this environment. (+info)
Disease management interventions to improve outcomes in congestive heart failure.
This study is part of a planned 24-month, multicenter, longitudinal comparison of a comprehensive congestive heart failure (CHF) disease management program and was designed to determine effectiveness after 12 months of implementation. The impact of interventions such as telemonitoring of patients, post-hospitalization follow-up, and provider education on selected primary outcomes (hospital admission and readmission rates, length of stay, total hospital days, and emergency room utilization) in a managed care setting was evaluated. Subjects in the study included all participants in the managed care plan, as well as 149 selected program participants. The effects of the program were analyzed for pure CHF and CHF-related diagnoses, with outcomes for the third quarter of 1996 (postintervention follow-up) being compared with those for the third quarter of 1995 (preintervention baseline). Overall, the data demonstrated significantly reduced admission and readmission rates for patients with the pure CHF diagnosis. Among the entire CHF patient population, the third quarter admission rate declined 63% (P = 0.00002), and the 30-day and 90-day readmission rates declined 75% (P = 0.02) and 74% (P = 0.004), respectively. Among program participants with pure CHF diagnoses, the 30-day readmission rate was reduced to 0, and an 83% reduction occurred for both the third quarter admission (P = 0.008) and 90-day readmission (P = 0.06) rates. In addition, the average length of stay for patients with CHF-related diagnoses was significantly reduced among both plan participants (P = 0.03) and program participants (P = 0.001). Reductions were also seen in total hospital days and emergency room utilization. These data thus indicate that a comprehensive disease management program can reduce healthcare utilization not only among CHF patients in the program but also among the entire managed care plan population. (+info)
Longer hospital length of stay is not related to better clinical outcomes in congestive heart failure.
Efforts to reduce hospital lengths of stay (LOS) are prevalent, despite limited understanding of the clinical impact of duration of hospitalization. Thus, we sought to evaluate the clinical relevance of LOS in congestive heart failure (CHF) by studying its relationship to inpatient and post-discharge outcomes among individuals with this disorder. Ten acute care community hospitals in New York State participated in this investigation. The study population consisted of 1,402 consecutive patients, predominantly elderly, who were hospitalized for evaluation and treatment of moderately severe or severe CHF. The patients' medical records were abstracted by trained personnel immediately after hospital discharge. Patients were followed forward for six month's time to track death and readmission rates, as well as functional status, quality of life, and satisfaction. Mean LOS for the group was 7.9 +/- 9.2 days. Longer LOS had a neutral or negative association with patient outcomes. Specifically, longer LOS was linked to a higher adjusted mortality rate during the index hospitalization, as well as a greater adjusted risk of death during the post-discharge period. Moreover, longer LOS was associated with worse post-discharge functional class and a trend for less patient satisfaction with their physicians' care. We conclude that death becomes more prevalent and functional measures decline in association with prolonged hospital stays for heart failure. Although these findings may be of use in planning management strategies, they offer no proof that reducing the costs of care will improve clinical outcomes in CHF. (+info)
Improving access to disability benefits among homeless persons with mental illness: an agency-specific approach to services integration.
OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated a joint initiative of the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve access to Social Security disability benefits among homeless veterans with mental illness. METHODS: Social Security personnel were colocated with VA clinical staff at 4 of the VA's Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) programs. Intake assessment data were merged with SSA administrative data to determine the proportion of veterans who filed applications and who received disability awards at the 4 SSA-VA Joint Outreach Initiative sites (n = 6709) and at 34 comparison HCHV sites (n = 27 722) during the 2 years before and after implementation of the program. RESULTS: During the 2 years after the initiative began, higher proportions of veterans applied for disability (18.9% vs 11.1%; P < .001) and were awarded benefits (11.4% vs 7.2%, P < .001) at SSA-VA Joint Initiative sites. CONCLUSION: A colocation approach to service system integration can improve access to disability entitlements among homeless persons with mental illness. Almost twice as many veterans were eligible for this entitlement as received it through a standard outreach program. (+info)
Variations in primary care physician referral rates.
OBJECTIVE: To examine primary care physician referral rate variations, including their extent and their stability over time and across diagnostic categories. DATA SOURCES: 1995/1996 claims data for adult patients from a large Independent Practitioner Association (IPA) model managed care organization (MCO) in the Rochester, NY metropolitan area. The IPA includes over 95 percent of area primary care physicians (PCPs), and the MCO includes over 50 percent area residents. STUDY DESIGN: Referral rates (patients referred to and seen by specialists one or more times/patients seen by PCP/year) were developed for the PCPs (457 general practitioners, family physicians, and internists) in the MCO, including observed referral rates, expected referral rates based on case-mix adjustment across the whole sample, physician-specific case mix-adjusted referral rates (empirical Bayes estimates), and diagnostic category-specific case mix-adjusted referral rates. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Wide variations in observed referral rates (0.01-0.69 patients referred/patients seen/year) were attenuated relatively little by case-mix adjustment and persisted in case mix-adjusted empirical Bayes estimates (0.02-0.65). The year-to-year case mix-adjusted referral rate correlation was .90. Correlations of case mix adjusted-referral rates across diagnostic categories were moderate (r=.46-.67). CONCLUSIONS: PCP referral rates exhibit wide variations that are independent of case mix, remain stable over time, and are generalizable across diagnostic categories. Understanding this physician practice variation and its relationship to costs and outcomes is critical to evaluating the effect of current efforts to reduce PCP referral rates. (+info)
Developing quality measures for adolescent care: validity of adolescents' self-reported receipt of preventive services.
OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate the feasibility of directly surveying adolescents about the content of preventive health services they have received and to assess the validity of adolescent self-reported recall. DATA SOURCES/SETTING: Audiotaped encounters, telephone interviews, and chart reviews with 14-21 year olds being seen for preventive care visits at 15 pediatric and family medicine private practices, teaching hospital clinics, and health centers. DESIGN: 537 adolescents presenting for well visits were approached, 400 (75 percent) consented, 374 (94 percent) were audiotaped, and 354 (89 percent) completed telephone interviews either two to four weeks or five to seven months after their visits. Audiotapes were coded for screening and counseling across 34 preventive service content areas. Intraobserver reliability (Cohen's kappa) ranged from 0.45 for talking about peers to 0.94 for discussing tobacco. The sensitivity and specificity of the adolescent self-reports were assessed using the audiotape coding as the gold standard. RESULTS: Almost all adolescents surveyed (94 percent) remembered having had a preventive care visit, 93 percent identified the site of care, and most (84 percent) identified the clinician they had seen. There was wide variation in the prevalence of screening, based on the tape coding. Adolescent self-report was moderately or highly sensitive and specific at two weeks and six months for 24 of 34 screening and counseling items, including having discussed: weight, diet, body image, exercise, seatbelts, bike helmet use, cigarettes/smoking, smokeless tobacco, alcohol, drugs, steroids, sex, sexual orientation, birth control, condoms, HIV, STDs, school, family, future plans, emotions, suicidality, and abuse. Self-report was least accurate for blood pressure/cholesterol screening, immunizations, or for having discussed fighting, violence, weapon carrying, sleep, dental care, friends, or over-the-counter drug use. CONCLUSION: Adolescents' self-report of the care they have received is a valid method of determining the content of preventive health service delivery. Although recall of screening and counseling is more accurate within two to four weeks after preventive care visits, adolescents can report accurately on the care they had received five to seven months after the preventive health care visits occurred. (+info)
Impact of new guidelines on physicians' ordering of preoperative tests.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the number of preoperative tests ordered for elective ambulatory surgery patients during the 2 years before and the 2 years after the establishment of new hospital testing guidelines. MEASUREMENTS: The patterns of preoperative testing by surgeons and a medical consultant during the 2 years before and the 2 years after the establishment of new guidelines at one orthopedic hospital were reviewed. All tests ordered preoperatively were determined by review of medical records. Preoperative medical histories, physical examinations, and comorbidities were obtained according to a protocol by the medical consultant (author). Perioperative complications were determined by review of intraoperative and postoperative events, which also were recorded according to a protocol. MAIN RESULTS: A total of 640 patients were enrolled, 361 before and 279 after the new guidelines. The mean number of tests decreased from 8.0 before to 5.6 after the new guidelines ( p =.0001) and the percentage decrease for individual tests varied from 23% to 44%. Except for patients with more comorbidity and patients receiving general anesthesia, there were decreases across all patient groups. In multivariate analyses only time of surgery (before or after new guidelines), age, and type of surgery remained statistically significant ( p =.0001 for all comparisons). Despite decreases in surgeons' ordering of tests, the medical consultant did not order more tests after the new guidelines ( p =.60) The majority of patients had no untoward events intraoperatively and postoperatively throughout the study period, with only 6% overall requiring admission to the hospital after surgery, mainly for reasons not related to abnormal tests. Savings from charges totaled $34,000 for the patients in the study. CONCLUSIONS: Although there was variable compliance among physicians, new hospital guidelines were effective in reducing preoperative testing and did not result in increases in untoward perioperative events or in test ordering by the medical consultant. (+info)