Computer use by general practitioners in Scotland.
BACKGROUND: Despite the widespread adoption by general practitioners (GPs) of desktop computers, there has been very little evaluation of the way in which the computer is actually used during consultations and the way in which it affects patient satisfaction. AIM: To ascertain the extent to which the computer is used in the consultation and to investigate the possible relationship between computer use and patient satisfaction. METHOD: Six GPs completed a short questionnaire about the extent to which they use the computer during surgeries. Eighty-four consultations from the surgeries of these GPs were video recorded. Patient satisfaction data on these 84 patients were collected at the time of the surgery using the previously validated Consultation Satisfaction Questionnaire. RESULTS: All six GPs stated that they usually used the computer during consultations. However, video observation revealed that the computer was used in just 51% of surgeries. The proportion of time that the computer was used for varied from 0.03 to 0.4, with a mean value of 0.12. The commonest function for which the computer was used was prescribing. The consultations in which the computer was used (CU) were on average 148 seconds longer than the non-computerized consultations (NCU). There was no difference in patient satisfaction between the two groups. CONCLUSION: Despite this group of GPs having a self-declared interest in the use of computers, the extent to which the computer was used was much lower than expected from the GPs' self-reported use. This may be partly explained by the fact that using the computer takes up valuable time within the consultation and does not appear to contribute to patient satisfaction. If desktop computers are to be used to their full potential in general practice, more work is required to evaluate their impact on the consultation process itself. (+info
Out-of-hours service in Denmark: the effect of a structural change.
BACKGROUND: In Denmark, the provision of out-of-hours care by general practitioners (GPs) was reformed at the start of 1992. Rota systems were replaced locally by county-based services. The new out-of-hours service resulted in a considerable reduction in the total number of GPs on call. AIM: To describe how the patients experienced the change from a satisfaction point of view, and how the pattern of patient contact and the fee for GPs changed with the new system. METHOD: The county of Funen was chosen as the geographical area where data were collected. A questionnaire measuring patient satisfaction was posted before the change, immediately after the change, and three years later to a random selection of patients who had been in contact with the out-of-hours service within two weeks before the mailing date. All primary care services for the Danish population are stored in a database (National Health Service Registry). From this continuously updated database, the contact pattern and the fee for GPs were extracted for 1991, 1992, and 1995. RESULTS: The total number of patient contacts was reduced by 16% in the first year, but by only 6% three years later. Three years after the change, there were more than twice as many telephone consultations as before the change, and there were only a third as many home visits. After three years, the GPs' fees were reduced by 20%. There was a significant decrease in patient satisfaction, although the overall level remained high. This decrease was lower three years after the change than immediately after the new system was introduced. CONCLUSION: The new service had a major cost-effectiveness benefit, but there was a price to pay in patient satisfaction. (+info
Good health care: patient and professional perspectives.
Many health needs assessment exercises are professionally led, employing complex epidemiological methods. An alternative method that gives valuable information about patient preferences is a forced-choice questionnaire, which this study used in five practices in the West of Scotland. In each practice, patient-centred care was the most highly valued attribute of service provision. (+info
Development of the physical therapy outpatient satisfaction survey (PTOPS).
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The purposes of this 3-phase study were (1) to identify the underlying components of outpatient satisfaction in physical therapy and (2) to develop a test that would yield reliable and valid measurements of these components. SUBJECTS: Three samples, consisting of 177, 257, and 173 outpatients from 21 facilities, were used in phases 1, 2, and 3, respectively. METHODS AND RESULTS: In phase 1, principal component analyses (PCAs), reliability checks, and correlations with social desirability scales were used to reduce a pool of 98 items to 32 items. These analyses identified a 5-component model of outpatient satisfaction in physical therapy. The phase 2 PCA, with a revised pool of 48 items, indicated that 4 components rather than 5 components represented the best model and resulted in the 34-item Physical Therapy Outpatient Satisfaction Survey (PTOPS). Factor analyses conducted with phase 2 and phase 3 data supported this conclusion and provided evidence for the internal validity of the PTOPS scores. The 4-component scales were labeled "Enhancers," "Detractors," "Location," and "Cost." Responses from subsamples of phase 3 subjects provided evidence for validity of scores in that the PTOPS components of "Enhancers," "Detractors," and "Cost" appeared to differentiate overtly satisfied patients from overtly dissatisfied patients. "Location" and "Enhancer" scores discriminated subjects with excellent attendance at scheduled physical therapy sessions from those with poor attendance. CONCLUSION AND DISCUSSION: In this study, we identified components of outpatient satisfaction in physical therapy and used them to develop a test that would yield valid and reliable measurements of these components. (+info
Evaluation of lidocaine as an analgesic when added to hypertonic saline for sclerotherapy.
PURPOSE: The efficacy of sclerosing agents for the treatment of telangiectasias and reticular veins is well established. The injection of these agents is often associated with pain, and it is not uncommon for sclerotherapists to include lidocaine with the sclerosants in an attempt to reduce the pain associated with treatment. However, there are concerns that this may reduce the overall efficacy of the treatment because of dilution of the sclerosant. Patient comfort and overall outcome associated with treatment using HS with lidocaine (LIDO) versus that using HS alone was compared. METHODS: Forty-two patients were prospectively entered into the study and randomized blindly to sclerotherapy with 23.4% HS or 19% LIDO. Study subjects and treating physicians were blinded to the injection solution used. Injection sites were chosen for veins ranging in size from 0.1 to 3 mm. Photographs of the area to be treated were taken, and the patients rated their pain. They were then observed at regular intervals for four months, and clinical data was collected. Thirty-five subjects completed the full follow-up period, and photographs of the injected area were taken again. Three investigators blinded to the treatment assignment then evaluated the photographs and scored the treatment efficacy according to a standardized system. RESULTS: In the HS group, 61.9% (13 of 21) patients rated their pain as none or mild, whereas 90.5% (19 of 21) of patients in the LIDO group had no or mild discomfort. This difference is significant, with a P value of.034. There was no difference in the overall efficacy of treatment between the two groups. The groups had similar rates of vein thrombosis and skin necrosis. CONCLUSION: Although lidocaine is often used with sclerosing agents, there are no previous reports in the literature to evaluate its effectiveness in reducing the pain experienced by the patient. In this study, patients receiving LIDO experienced significantly less discomfort at the time of injection than patients who received HS alone. There were no differences in the effectiveness of treatment or in the incidence of complications between the two groups. (+info
Relief of obstructive pelvic venous symptoms with endoluminal stenting.
PURPOSE: To select patients for percutaneous transluminal stenting of chronic postthrombotic pelvic venous obstructions (CPPVO), we evaluated the clinical symptoms in a cohort of candidates and in a series of successfully treated patients. METHODS: The symptoms of 42 patients (39 women) with CPPVO (38 left iliac; average history, 18 years) were recorded, and the venous anatomy was studied by means of duplex scanning, subtraction venography, and computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Successfully stented patients were controlled by means of duplex scanning and assessment of symptoms. RESULTS: The typical symptoms of CPPVO were reported spontaneously by 24% of patients and uncovered by means of a targeted interview in an additional 47%. Of 42 patients, 15 had venous claudication, four had neurogenic claudication (caused by dilated veins in the spinal canal that arise from the collateral circulation), and 11 had both symptoms. Twelve patients had no specific symptoms. Placement of a stent was found to be technically feasible in 25 patients (60%), was attempted in 14 patients, and was primarily successful in 12 patients. One stent occluded within the first week. All other stents were fully patent after a mean of 15 months (range, 1 to 43 months). Satisfaction was high in the patients who had the typical symptoms, but low in those who lacked them. CONCLUSION: Venous claudication and neurogenic claudication caused by venous collaterals in the spinal canal are typical clinical features of CPPVO. We recommend searching for these symptoms, because recanalization by means of stenting is often feasible and rewarding. (+info
Reduced health-related quality of life among Hodgkin's disease survivors: a comparative study with general population norms.
BACKGROUND: Late complications after curative treatment of Hodgkin's disease are of special relevance because most of the cured are young adults. The aims of the present study were: (1) to compare health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in Hodgkin's disease (HD) survivors with normative data from the general Norwegian population and (2) to examine the relations between disease/treatment characteristics and HRQOL in the HD survivors. PATIENTS AND METHODS: 459 HD survivors aged 19-74 years (mean 44.0, SD 11.8) treated at the Norwegian Radium Hospital 1971-1991 were approached in 1994 and compared to norms from 2214 subjects approached in 1996. The norms are representative of the general Norwegian population. HRQOL was assessed by the Short Form 36 (SF-36), which measures HRQOL in eight separate scales (0 = worst health state, 100 = best health state). RESULTS: The HD survivors had lower scores than the normal controls on all scales after adjustment for age, gender and educational levels. Statistically significant differences (P < 0.01) were found in general health (10.4), physical functioning (6.1), role limitations (physical, 9.3), physical functioning (3.6) and in vitality (4.7). Patients with disease stage IB-IIB had the lowest scores on all scales. The differences in relation to stage/substage reached statistical significance (P < 0.01) in physical functioning and in role limitations (physical). Time since diagnosis, types of primary treatment or having relapsed were not associated with statistically significant differences in HRQOL. CONCLUSION: Long-term HD survivors have poorer HRQOL, primarily in physical health, than the general Norwegian population. (+info
Psychosocial impact of genetic testing in familial medullary-thyroid carcinoma: a multicentric pilot-evaluation.
BACKGROUND: Many crucial problems are associated with the diagnosis of inherited cancer susceptibility. One of the most important is related to the psychosocial consequences of the knowledge by the patients and their relatives of their own genetical status. Little data are available in the literature, mainly from studies including small numbers of selected and motivated patients. PATIENTS AND METHODS: From January till December 1997, we studied the psychometric and quality of life parameters of 77 subjects followed in two French specialized centers. These subjects had been treated for either sporadic or familial or were at risk for medullary thyroid carcinoma. All patients had previously attended genetic counselling with detection of germline Ret-mutations, were informed on their own genetic risk, had good short-term prognosis and performance status and did not receive recent cancer treatment. Each patient was invited to answer two questionnaires, the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS) and the subjective quality of life profile (SQLP). RESULTS: We report herein the descriptive results of this study (HADS and SQLP scores and distributions) and describe the individual clinical covariates that might explain the observed differences between subgroups of individuals. Although psychometric scores appeared similar in these subgroups, quality of life scores were lower in Ret-mutation carriers. Genetically-predisposed patients were less satisfied and expressed more expectations for favourable change in their quality of life. CONCLUSION: This finding suggests a high level of frustration and latent unsatisfaction related either to the management of the genetic information given by the clinicians and its psychosocial consequences or simply to the knowledge of the genetic risk of cancer. Further studies on the individual consequences of genetic testing, information delivery and when necessary psychotherapeutic interventions, are needed to insure the quality of presymptomatic genetic testing in this field of oncology. (+info