(1/6616) Physician advice and individual behaviors about cardiovascular disease risk reduction--seven states and Puerto Rico, 1997.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) (e.g., heart disease and stroke) is the leading cause of death in the United States and accounted for 959,227 deaths in 1996. Strategies to reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke include lifestyle changes (e.g., eating fewer high-fat and high-cholesterol foods) and increasing physical activity. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommend that, as part of a preventive health examination, all primary-care providers counsel their patients about a healthy diet and regular physical activity. AHA also recommends low-dose aspirin use as a secondary preventive measure among persons with existing CVD. To determine the prevalence of physician counseling about cardiovascular health and changes in individual behaviors, CDC analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for seven states and Puerto Rico. This report summarizes the results of that analysis, which indicate a lower prevalence of counseling and behavior change among persons without than with a history of heart disease or stroke. (+info
(2/6616) Randomised controlled trial of effect of feedback on general practitioners' prescribing in Australia.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect on general practitioners' prescribing of feedback on their levels of prescribing. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial. SETTING: General practice in rural Australia. PARTICIPANTS: 2440 full time recognised general practitioners practising in non-urban areas. INTERVENTION: Two sets of graphical displays (6 months apart) of their prescribing rates for 2 years, relative to those of their peers, were posted to participants. Data were provided for five main drug groups and were accompanied by educational newsletters. The control group received no information on their prescribing. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Prescribing rates in the intervention and control groups for the five main drug groups, total prescribing and potential substitute prescribing and ordering before and after the interventions. RESULTS: The intervention and control groups had similar baseline characteristics (age, sex, patient mix, practices). Median prescribing rates for the two groups were almost identical before and after the interventions. Any changes in prescribing observed in the intervention group were also seen in the control group. There was no evidence that feedback reduced the variability in prescribing nor did it differentially affect the very high or very low prescribers. CONCLUSIONS: The form of feedback evaluated here-mailed, unsolicited, centralised, government sponsored, and based on aggregate data-had no impact on the prescribing levels of general practitioners. (+info
(3/6616) A comparison of three methods of setting prescribing budgets, using data derived from defined daily dose analyses of historic patterns of use.
BACKGROUND: Prescribing matters (particularly budget setting and research into prescribing variation between doctors) have been handicapped by the absence of credible measures of the volume of drugs prescribed. AIM: To use the defined daily dose (DDD) method to study variation in the volume and cost of drugs prescribed across the seven main British National Formulary (BNF) chapters with a view to comparing different methods of setting prescribing budgets. METHOD: Study of one year of prescribing statistics from all 129 general practices in Lothian, covering 808,059 patients: analyses of prescribing statistics for 1995 to define volume and cost/volume of prescribing for one year for 10 groups of practices defined by the age and deprivation status of their patients, for seven BNF chapters; creation of prescribing budgets for 1996 for each individual practice based on the use of target volume and cost statistics; comparison of 1996 DDD-based budgets with those set using the conventional historical approach; and comparison of DDD-based budgets with budgets set using a capitation-based formula derived from local cost/patient information. RESULTS: The volume of drugs prescribed was affected by the age structure of the practices in BNF Chapters 1 (gastrointestinal), 2 (cardiovascular), and 6 (endocrine), and by deprivation structure for BNF Chapters 3 (respiratory) and 4 (central nervous system). Costs per DDD in the major BNF chapters were largely independent of age, deprivation structure, or fundholding status. Capitation and DDD-based budgets were similar to each other, but both differed substantially from historic budgets. One practice in seven gained or lost more than 100,000 Pounds per annum using DDD or capitation budgets compared with historic budgets. The DDD-based budget, but not the capitation-based budget, can be used to set volume-specific prescribing targets. CONCLUSIONS: DDD-based and capitation-based prescribing budgets can be set using a simple explanatory model and generalizable methods. In this study, both differed substantially from historic budgets. DDD budgets could be created to accommodate new prescribing strategies and raised or lowered to reflect local intentions to alter overall prescribing volume or cost targets. We recommend that future work on setting budgets and researching prescribing variations should be based on DDD statistics. (+info
(4/6616) 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
(5/6616) Clinical experience and choice of drug therapy for human immunodeficiency virus disease.
To determine if providers experienced in the management of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease preferred different treatment regimens than providers with less experience, we analyzed data from a national survey of primary care providers' preferred regimens for the management of 30 HIV-related medical conditions. We mailed questionnaires to 999 correct addresses of providers in > 20 cities in the United States in May 1996. We received 524 responses (response rate, 52%). We found a statistically significant association between the number of HIV-infected patients cared for by the provider and the likelihood that the provider would report prescribing highly active antiretroviral therapy and multidrug combinations for treatment of opportunistic infections. Providers with few HIV-infected patients were substantially less likely to report using new therapeutic regimens or new diagnostic tools. We concluded that the preferred regimens of experienced providers are more likely to be consistent with the latest information on treatment for HIV disease than are those of less experienced providers. (+info
(6/6616) Practice patterns, case mix, Medicare payment policy, and dialysis facility costs.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of case mix, practice patterns, features of the payment system, and facility characteristics on the cost of dialysis. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: The nationally representative sample of dialysis units in the 1991 U.S. Renal Data System's Case Mix Adequacy (CMA) Study. The CMA data were merged with data from Medicare Cost Reports, HCFA facility surveys, and HCFA's end-stage renal disease patient registry. STUDY DESIGN: We estimated a statistical cost function to examine the determinants of costs at the dialysis unit level. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The relationship between case mix and costs was generally weak. However, dialysis practices (type of dialysis membrane, membrane reuse policy, and treatment duration) did have a significant effect on costs. Further, facilities whose payment was constrained by HCFA's ceiling on the adjustment for area wage rates incurred higher costs than unconstrained facilities. The costs of hospital-based units were considerably higher than those of freestanding units. Among chain units, only members of one of the largest national chains exhibited significant cost savings relative to independent facilities. CONCLUSIONS: Little evidence showed that adjusting dialysis payment to account for differences in case mix across facilities would be necessary to ensure access to care for high-cost patients or to reimburse facilities equitably for their costs. However, current efforts to increase dose of dialysis may require higher payments. Longer treatments appear to be the most economical method of increasing the dose of dialysis. Switching to more expensive types of dialysis membranes was a more costly means of increasing dose and hence must be justified by benefits beyond those of higher dose. Reusing membranes saved money, but the savings were insufficient to offset the costs associated with using more expensive membranes. Most, but not all, of the higher costs observed in hospital-based units appear to reflect overhead cost allocation rather than a difference in real resources devoted to treatment. The economies experienced by the largest chains may provide an explanation for their recent growth in market share. The heterogeneity of results by chain size implies that characterizing units using a simple chain status indicator variable is inadequate. Cost differences by facility type and the effects of the ongoing growth of large chains are worthy of continued monitoring to inform both payment policy and antitrust enforcement. (+info
(7/6616) Reactions to medical abortion among providers of surgical abortion: an early snapshot.
(8/6616) Voluntary euthanasia under control? Further empirical evidence from The Netherlands.
Nineteen ninety-six saw the publication of a major Dutch survey into euthanasia in the Netherlands. This paper outlines the main statistical findings of this survey and considers whether it shows that voluntary euthanasia is under effective control in the Netherlands. The paper concludes that although there has been some improvement in compliance with procedural requirements, the practice of voluntary euthanasia remains beyond effective control. (+info