Time for a change? The process of lengthening booking intervals in general practice.
Longer booking intervals between appointments in general practice are generally seen as 'a good thing', and have a strong 'evidence base' to support them. Changing to longer booking intervals is regarded as a pipe dream by many general practitioners (GPs). This paper reports the process and outcomes of a change to longer booking intervals in one practice, identifies the key elements of the change, and examines lessons learned for the practice, to help other practices to do similarly. The most important factor in bringing about change was the influence of facilitation by outside parties; first, by management consultants who identified solutions to the practice's problems, and secondly, by recruitment to a research study. Other outside influences were an awareness of the success of other practices in changing to 10-minute booking intervals, and the increasing 'evidence base' to support such change. Internal influences on the process were a desire to change as a result a perception that the practice was under-performing, and the stress associated with this. As a result of the change, the number of doctor consultations fell and the number of nurse consultations rose, fewer patients reconsulted, and marginal improvements were reported on doctor and patient satisfaction. Other practices may benefit from such change; the use of management consultants as facilitators may instigate such change. (+info)
Randomized controlled trial of teaching practice nurses to carry out structured assessments of patients receiving depot antipsychotic injections.
BACKGROUND: A third of patients with schizophrenia are out of contact with secondary services. Many of these patients receive maintenance medication as depot antipsychotics from practice nurses, most of whom have negligible training in mental health. AIM: To examine the impact of a structured assessment on the process of care and clinical status of schizophrenia patients by practice nurses who received a one-day training course. METHOD: All identified patients were randomly allocated to structured assessments and outcome, measured by the number of assessments and the changes in care recorded in primary care notes. A comprehensive assessment of clinical and social functioning and level of unmet need in intervention and control patients was carried out after one year by an independent researcher. RESULTS: A high rate of consultation and clinical need in this patient group was demonstrated. Practice nurses were more diligent in carrying out assessments than general practitioners (GPs), but there was no impact on treatment patterns or clinical outcome. CONCLUSIONS: Structured assessments by practice nurses are feasible with this patient group, but training, targeted at both nurses and GPs, is needed if this intervention is to translate into health gain. (+info)
Attitudes toward cost-containment features of managed care: differences among patient subgroups.
OBJECTIVE: To analyze the extent to which personal characteristics and circumstances affect attitudes toward cost-containment aspects of managed care. STUDY DESIGN: A national probability sample component of the 1994 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Access to Care Survey. METHODS: Telephone and in-person survey follow-up of 3480 persons who completed the 1993 National Health Interview Survey. Findings on respondents' attitudes toward three principal cost-saving features of managed care are reported. These features are choosing physicians from insurance company lists (LIST), accessing specialists through referrals only (SPECIALIST), and seeing a nurse sometimes instead of a physician (NURSE). Data were categorized and analyzed by different population subgroups. RESULTS: Respondents were divided almost equally in terms of how much they minded healthcare features of managed care, with approximately one third minding a lot, one third minding a little, and one third minding not at all. However, slightly more people minded LIST (42%) and NURSE (39%) features a lot. The respondent subgroups with the lowest proportion "minding a lot" were the uninsured poor and those already in managed care. Those groups minding the most were the elderly, those in fee-for-service plans, persons in poor health, and those with ischemic heart disease. CONCLUSIONS: Acceptance of managed care cost-containment features varies by consumer characteristics. Those who have the most to gain financially by cost-containment features and the least to lose in terms of their access to care mind the managed care features the least. Persons who object most strongly are those who are not financially constrained and who are in poor health. (+info)
Randomized trial of nurse-assisted strategies for smoking cessation in primary care.
BACKGROUND: Brief advice to stop smoking from general practitioners (GPs) has been repeatedly shown to increase smoking cessation by a small, but measurable amount. Some studies have suggested that adding more intensive interventions to brief advice may increase its effectiveness, but it is unclear whether this is true in general practice. AIMS: To determine whether brief advice from a doctor together with counselling and follow-up from a trained practice nurse is more effective than brief advice alone in helping people to stop smoking. METHODS: The design was a randomized controlled trial. Four hundred and ninety-seven general practice patients aged older than 18 years and smoking at least one cigarette per day in six general practices in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire were randomized to one of two interventions: brief verbal or written advice from a GP plus extended counselling and follow-up from a trained practice nurse; brief advice from a GP alone. The primary outcome was sustained abstinence from smoking at three and 12 months. A secondary outcome was forward movement in the stages of change cycle. RESULTS: The proportion showing sustained abstinence was 3.6% in the extended counselling group, and 4.4% in the brief advice group (difference = -0.8%; 95% confidence interval = -4.3% to 2.6%). Seventy-four (30%) of those randomized to extended counselling actually took up this offer. No significant progression in stages of change was detected between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: In unselected general practice patients who smoke, brief advice from a GP combined with intensive intervention and follow-up by a practice nurse is no more effective than brief advice alone. (+info)
Trained nurses can obtain satisfactory bone marrow aspirates and trephine biopsies.
AIMS: To assess the feasibility of training nurse practitioners to perform bone marrow aspiration and trephine biopsy, and to compare the quality of these samples with those obtained by medical staff. METHODS: A retrospective audit was undertaken of nurse practitioner and medical staff performance in bone marrow procedures in a busy haematology day unit. RESULTS: Nurse practitioners fared favourably in comparison with medical staff in performing bone marrow trephine biopsies, with mean biopsy lengths of 11 mm and 10.7 mm respectively. However, only 78% of the smears obtained by the nurses were judged technically satisfactory, compared with 91% prepared by doctors. This discrepancy was thought to be due largely to the quality of slide spreading. CONCLUSIONS: With motivated staff and a structured educational and training programme it is possible for nurse practitioners to perform the techniques of bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, and obtain specimens of satisfactory quality, thus improving efficiency of the haematology day unit and increasing quality of patient care. (+info)
Anxiety amongst women with mild dyskaryosis: costs of an educational intervention.
BACKGROUND: A randomized controlled trial in primary care investigated whether a structured educational intervention had an impact on the psychological morbidity associated with a 6-month period of surveillance for mild dyskaryosis. In the context of high levels of sustained distress, and few differences in terms of objective measures of anxiety, the intervention led to a greater proportion of women who were comfortable with a 6-month interval before their next smear test. OBJECTIVE. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the implications to general practices and the NHS, in terms of both costs and numbers of patient contacts, of a change from current policy to one of actively inviting all women with mild dyskaryosis to consult the practice nurse for the intervention. METHODS: We conducted a pragmatic, cluster-randomized controlled trial, comparing the intervention with standard care. The setting was general practices in Avon and South Glamorgan, UK. The subjects were women under surveillance following their first ever mildly dyskaryotic cervical smear result. The main outcome measures were as follows. Costs were reported according to randomization group, from the viewpoint of general practices and the NHS. The main elements which were costed were those attributable to production of the package and training in its use, and the costs of consultations subsequent to the woman receiving her smear test result. In addition, since in practice the intervention might be applied in different circumstances to those prevailing in the trial, a sensitivity analysis was performed to assess the costs of the educational package as realistically as possible. RESULTS: Almost twice as many women in the intervention group compared with the control group visited their practice to discuss their result. From the perspective of the practices, a change from current policy to the intervention policy led to potential (negligible) savings of around pound sterling 3.50 per partner per year. From the NHS perspective, the intervention would lead to slightly increased costs of between pound sterling 1000 and pound sterling 2500 per year for an area performing 60000 tests per year. CONCLUSIONS: It is both feasible and acceptable for practice nurses to deliver the educational package. Moreover, from the perspective of a practice, the policy is effectively cost-neutral. The main implication for general practices is the change in the pattern of care provided: fewer women consulted their GP about their smear result and many more, following active encouragement, consulted the practice nurse. (+info)
Problem Knowledge Couplers: reengineering evidence-based medicine through interdisciplinary development, decision support, and research.
The rapid growth of medical knowledge is creating a demand for new ways of providing information in support of evidence-based medical practice. Problem Knowledge Couplers are a clinical decision support software tool that offer a new approach to this growing problem. Couplers are developed through a collaboration among clinicians, informaticians, and librarians. They recognize that functionality must be predicated upon combining unique patient information, gleaned through relevant structured question sets, with the appropriate knowledge found in the world's peer-reviewed medical literature. Two pilot studies indicate that couplers can meet the gold standards of decision making within both a primary care and a specialty practice. Issues remain about how to best integrate Problem Knowledge Couplers into clinical practice and whether large-scale outcomes research will support the findings of pilot studies. However, Problem Knowledge Couplers represent a promising approach that might portend a new model for health care delivery in the next millennium. (+info)
Nurse-mediated serum cholesterol reduction and health locus of control--a device for targeting health promotion?
Varying intensities of nurse-mediated health education advice were administered to subjects over a three-month period. Mean serum total cholesterol was calculated for each group at the outset and completion of the study. A multidimensional health locus of control (MHLC) scales questionnaire was self-completed by subjects at the outset. A highly significant association between internality and reduction in serum total cholesterol in the high-intensity intervention group was observed. The completion of a MHLC scale questionnaire may assist health professionals in identifying which subjects may most benefit from high-intensity health education advice when raised serum total cholesterol is prevalent. (+info)