A performance-based lottery to improve residential care and training by institutional staff.
Two experiments were conducted on four units of a residential facility for the multiply-handicapped retarded in an attempt to improve daily care and training services. Experiment I compared the effects of two procedures in maintaining the work performance of attendants, using an A-B design on two units. One procedure consisted of implementing specific staff-resident assignments, the other consisted of allowing attendants who had met performance criteria to be eligible for a weekly lottery in which they could win the opportunity to rearrange their days off for the following week. Results showed that the lottery was a more effective procedure as measured by the per cent of time attendants engaged in predefined target behaviors, and by their frequency of task completion in several areas of resident care. Experiment II replicated and extended these results to the area of work quality on two additional units, using a multiple-baseline design. The performance lottery was found to be an effective econimical procedure that could be implemented by supervisory staff on a large scale. (+info
A decade of caring for drug users entirely within general practice.
BACKGROUND: The government encourages general practitioners (GPs) to become involved in caring for drug users. However, in some areas of the country, including Bedford, secondary care support is inadequate. GPs in these areas have to decide how to cope with such patients entirely within general practice. AIM: To assess the characteristics and quality of care given without secondary care support to drug users by one practice in Bedford over a decade. METHOD: A search was made of the practice computer for all patients with a problem title of 'addiction drug' between 1986 and 1995. The age, sex, social characteristics, and drug history were recorded. RESULTS: One hundred and ninety-two patients were found, of which 155 took part in the practice programme; i.e. they consulted more than three times. Forty-three patients (37%) who took part and were prescribed Methadone were prescribed this drug as ampoules. Sixty-three patients (40.6%) who took part in the programme stopped using drugs. Thirty-two (33.6%) of the Methadone users became abstinent. A higher proportion of women (13-48%) than men (19-27.7%) stopped using Methadone (P = 0.019). Among patients who had a stable lifestyle, a higher proportion had been prescribed ampoules than mixture (22 out of 28: 78.6%; P = 0.001). Similarly, of those who had a job, eight out of 11 (72%; P = 0.037) had been prescribed methadone ampoules. Two-thirds of all patients prescribed amphetamines stopped using drugs. CONCLUSION: Long-term care of drug users entirely within general practice is feasible. Among those prescribed methadone ampoules, a higher than average proportion had stable lifestyles and had a stable job. (+info
Women patients' preferences for female or male GPs.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate general preferences to see a male or female GP either some or all of the time, and specific preferences to see a female primary health care (PHC) worker for individual health issues; to compare these preferences with reported consultation behaviour; and to explore women's evaluations of the quality of PHC services in relation to their preferences and consultation behaviour. METHOD: Results are reported on 881 women aged 16-65 years who had consulted their GP in the previous 6 months. Logistical regression analysis was undertaken to evaluate whether a general preference to see another woman is more important than specific women's health issues in determining why some women regularly choose to consult a female GP. RESULTS: General preference was 2.6 times more important than specific health issues in predicting choice of a female GP in a mixed-sex practice. Nearly a half (49.1 %) of women attending male-only practices stated that they wanted to see a female GP in at least some circumstances, compared with 63.8% of women in mixed-sex practices. In total, 65.5% of the sample stated that there was at least one specific health issue for which they would only want to be seen by a woman PHC worker. The most positive evaluations of the quality of GP services were made by women normally seeing a male GP in mixed-sex practices and the least positive evaluations were given by women in male-only GP practices CONCLUSIONS: In order to meet women's expressed preferences, every GP practice should have at least one female GP available at least some of the time and every GP practice should employ a female PHC worker. (+info
Physician management in primary care.
Minimal explicit consensus criteria in the management of patients with four indicator conditions were established by an ad hoc committee of primary care physicians practicing in different locations. These criteria were then applied to the practices of primary care physicians located in a single community by abstracting medical records and obtaining questionnaire data about patients with the indicator conditions. A standardized management score for each physician was used as the dependent variable in stepwise regression analysis with physician/practice and patient/disease characteristics as the candidate independent variables. For all physicians combined, the mean management scores were high, ranging from .78 to .93 for the four conditions. For two of the conditions, care of the normal infant and pregnant woman, the management scores were better for pediatricians and obstetricians respectively than for family physicians. For the other two conditions, adult onset diabetes and congestive heart failure, there were no differences between the management scores of family physicians and internists. Patient/disease characteristics did not contribute significantly to explaining the variation in the standardized management scores. (+info
Raising the bar: the use of performance guarantees by the Pacific Business Group on Health.
In 1996 the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) negotiated more than two dozen performance guarantees with thirteen of California's largest health maintenance organizations (HMOs) on behalf the seventeen large employers in its Negotiating Alliance. The negotiations put more than $8 million at risk for meeting performance targets with the goal of improving the performance of all health plans. Nearly $2 million, or 23 percent of the premium at risk, was refunded to the PBGH by the HMOs for missed targets. The majority of plans met their targets for satisfaction with the health plan and physicians, as well as cesarean section, mammography, Pap smear, and prenatal care rates. However, eight of the thirteen plans missed their targets for childhood immunizations, refunding 86 percent of the premium at risk. (+info
Is health insurance in Greece in need of reform?
This paper aims to assess the relationship between insurance contributions and health benefits in Greece by using information from sickness funds' accounts. The paper argues that the fragmentation of social health insurance, and the particular ways in which sickness funds' financial services are organized, are a major source of inequity and are grossly inefficient. The survival of these systems in the 1990s cannot be explained except on grounds of inertia and corporate resistance. (+info
Use of laboratory testing for genital chlamydial infection in Norway.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the use of laboratory tests for genital chlamydial infection in Norway. DESIGN: Questionnaire survey of general practitioners' practice in chlamydial testing, retrospective survey of laboratory records, 1986-91, and prospective study of testing in one laboratory during four weeks. SETTING: All 18 microbiological laboratories in Norway (4.2 million population), including one serving all doctors in Vestfold county (0.2 million population). SUBJECTS: 302 general practitioners. MAIN MEASURES: GPs' routine practice, methods used for testing, 1986-91, and sex specific and age group specific testing in 1991. RESULTS: 201(69%) GPs replied to the questionnaire: 101(51%) would test all women younger than 25 years at routine pelvic examination, 107(54%) all girls at first pelvic examination, 131(66%) all pregnant women, and 106(54%) all men whose female partner had urogenital complaints. Nationwide in 1986, 122,000 tests were performed (2.9 per 100 population); 10% were positive and 51% were cell culture tests. In 1991, 341,000 tests were performed (8.0 per 100 population); 4.5% were positive and 15% were cell culture tests. 13,184 tests were performed in Vestfold in 1991 (6.6 per 100 population). The age group specific rates (per 100 population) among women were: age 15-19 years, 22.0(95% confidence interval 18.2 to 25.8); 20-24 years, 47.2(42.1 to 52.3); 25-29 years, 42.3(37.1 to 47.5); 30-34 years, 29.8(25.4 to 34.2); and 35-39 years, 12.5(9.5 to 15.5). CONCLUSIONS: GPs use liberal indications for testing. The dramatic increase in testing, especially by enzyme immunoassays, in populations with a low prevalence of infection results in low cost effectiveness and low predictive value of positive tests, which in women over 29 years is estimated as 17-36%. IMPLICATIONS: Doctors should be educated about the limitations of enzyme immunoassays in screening low prevalence populations, and laboratories should apply a confirmatory test to specimens testing positive with such assays. (+info
Clinical guidelines: proliferation and medicolegal significance.
Guidelines seeking to influence and regulate clinical activity are currently gaining a new cultural ascendancy on both sides of the Atlantic. Statutory agencies may be charged with developing clinical guidelines, and civil courts, in deciding actions in negligence, could be influenced by standards of care expressed in guideline statements. Clinical guidelines are not accorded unchallengeable status: they have been subject to careful scrutiny by British and American courts to establish their authenticity and relevance. In the United States, compliance with clinical guidelines cannot be used as a defence against liability if a physician's conduct is held to have been negligent, and third party organisations can be held liable if their clinical guidelines are found to be a contributory cause of patient harm. Guidelines have not usurped the role of the expert witness in court. The importance the law attaches to customary practice means that atypical or bizarre guidelines are unlikely to be accepted as embodying a legally required standard of clinical care. (+info