Developing a plan for primary health care facilities in Soweto, South Africa. Part I: Guiding principles and methods. (1/293)

The new political era in South Africa offers unique opportunities for the development of more equitable health care policies. However, resource constraints are likely to remain in the foreseeable future, and efficiency therefore remains an important concern. This article describes the guiding principles and methods used to develop a coherent and objective plan for comprehensive primary health care facilities in Soweto. The article begins with an overview of the context within which the research was undertaken. Problems associated with planning in transition are highlighted, and a participatory research approach is recommended as a solution to these problems. The article goes on to describe how the research methods were developed and applied in line with the principles of participatory research. The methods were essentially rapid appraisal techniques which included group discussions, detailed checklists, observation, record reviews and the adaptation of international and local guidelines for service planning. It is suggested that these methods could be applied to other urban areas in South Africa and elsewhere, and that they are particularly appropriate in periods of transition when careful facilitation of dialogue between stakeholders is required in tandem with the generation of rapid results for policy-makers.  (+info)

Factors affecting bargaining outcomes between pharmacies and insurers. (2/293)

OBJECTIVE: To model the bargaining power of pharmacies and insurers in price negotiations and test whether it varies with characteristics of the pharmacy, insurer, and pharmacy market. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: Data from four sources. Pharmacy/insurer transactions were taken from Medstat's universe of 6.8 million pharmacy claims in their 1994 Marketscan database. Sources Informatics, Inc. supplied a three-digit zip code-level summary database containing pharmacy payments and self-reported costs for retail (cash-paying) customers for the top 200 pharmaceutical products by prescription size in 1994. The National Council of Prescription Drug Programs supplied their 1994 pharmacy database. Zip code-level socioeconomic and commercial information was taken from Bureau of the Census' 1990 Summary Tape File 3B and 1994 Zip Code Business Patterns database. STUDY DESIGN: The provider/insurer bargaining model first employed in Brooks, Dor, and Wong (1997, 1998) was adapted to the circumstances surrounding pharmacy and insurer bargaining. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: The units of observation in this study were single Medstat claims for each unique insurer/pharmacy combination in the database for selected pharmaceutical products. The four products selected varied in the conditions they treat, whether they are used to treat chronic or acute conditions, and by their sales volume. Used in the analysis were 9,758 Zantac, 2,681 Humulin, 3,437 Mevacor, and 1,860 Dilantin observations. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We find statistically significant variation in pharmacy bargaining power. Pharmacy bargaining power varies significantly across markets, insurers, and pharmacy types. With respect to market structure, pharmacy bargaining power is negatively related to pharmacies per capita and pharmacies per employer and positively related to pharmacy concentration at higher concentration levels. In addition, the higher the percentage of independent pharmacies in an area, the lower the pharmacy bargaining power. With respect to socioeconomic conditions, pharmacy bargaining power is higher in areas with lower per capita income and higher rates of public assistance. CONCLUSIONS: The bargaining power of pharmacies in contract negotiations with insurers varies considerably with exogenous factors. Local area pharmacy ownership concentration enhances pharmacy bargaining. As a result, anti-trust law prohibiting the collective bargaining of independent pharmacies with insurers leaves independents at a disadvantage with respect to chains.  (+info)

Managing external resources in the health sector: are there lessons for SWAps (sector-wide approaches)? (3/293)

Drawing on the case studies presented in this issue, from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa, and examples from other countries, this paper asks what general conclusions can be drawn about the management of external resources, and specifically what lessons could inform the future implementation of sector-wide approaches (SWAps) in the health sector. Factors constraining the management of aid by ministries of health are grouped under three themes: context and timing, institutional capacities and the interplay of power and influence in negotiations over aid. Two factors, often underplayed, were found to be important in facilitating management of resources: the inter-relationship of formal and informal relationships, and the extent to which incremental changes are tolerated. The main conclusion is that coordination and management of external resources is inherently unstable, involving a changing group of actors, many of whom enjoy considerable autonomy, but who need each other to materialize their often somewhat different goals. Managing aid is not a linear process, but is subject to set-backs and crises, although it can also produce positive spin-offs unexpectedly. It is highly dependent on institutional and systemic issues within both donor and recipient environments. In promoting sector-wide approaches the key will be to recognize context-specific conditions in each country, to find ways of building capacity in ministries of health to develop and own the future vision of the health sector, and to negotiate a realistic package that is explicit in its agreed objectives. The paper ends with identifying crucial actions that will enable ministries of health to take the lead role in developing and implementing SWAps.  (+info)

From psycho-social theory to sustainable classroom practice: developing a research-based teacher-delivered sex education programme. (4/293)

This paper describes the development of a theoretically based sex education programme currently undergoing a randomized controlled trial in the UK. It considers some of the practical difficulties involved in translating research-based conclusions into acceptable, replicable and potentially effective classroom lessons. The discussion acknowledges that the implications of social psychological research and the requirements of rigorous evaluation may conflict with accepted principles inherent in current sex education practice. It also emphasizes that theoretical ideas must be carefully embedded in lessons which are informed by an awareness of classroom culture, and the needs and skills of teachers. For example, the use of same-sex student groups to reflect on the gendered construction of sexuality may be problematic. Materials must be tailored to recipients' circumstances, which may require substituting for limited experience with the use of detailed scripts and scenarios. Furthermore, role-play techniques for sexual negotiation that work elsewhere may not be effective in the UK. The use of trigger video sessions and other techniques are recommended. Finally, the problems involved in promoting condom-related skills are discussed. The paper concludes that, if an intervention is to be sustainable beyond the research stage, it must be designed to overcome such problems while remaining theoretically informed.  (+info)

Police as contributors to Healthy Communities: Aiken, South Carolina. (5/293)

In Aiken, South Carolina, community policing has led to numerous innovative programs that have contributed to a healthy community. The MOMS and COPS (Managing Our Maternity System with Community Oriented Policing System) program has played a significant part in the county's 50% decrease in infant mortality since 1989 and contributed to Aiken's designation as an All-America City in 1997. Other programs include a mentoring program for at-risk teen girls; instant crime reporting with donated cellular phones; seminars for seniors to alert them to scams and common crimes; demolition of unsafe homes; free installation of smoke detectors; a child ID program; and parental education on child brain development.  (+info)

Mediation training enhances conflict management by healthcare personnel. (6/293)

OBJECTIVES: Mediation training can prepare healthcare professionals to manage conflict effectively in today's changing healthcare system. The primary purpose of the study was to measure the perceived comfort level of healthcare professionals with conflict before and after mediation training and to determine the extent to which mediation principles were applied within and outside the work setting. Secondary objectives were to observe firsthand transfer of skills and to identify subjects' perceptions of the impact of mediation training. STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional, descriptive experimental design was used. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Over a 3-year period, 173 healthcare personnel, chosen from a community not-for-profit hospital, a health maintenance organization, a managed care insurance company, and a skilled nursing rehabilitation setting, received 25 hours of mediation training; of the personnel who underwent training, 130 participated in the pre- and posttraining survey. A Likert scale with a Cronbach alpha of .82 was used to measure perceived differences in comfort level with conflict before and after the training intervention. RESULTS: The comfort level of healthcare personnel with conflict increased significantly (P < .01 or P < .001) for all groups of participants after training. The mean pretraining score was 5.92, compared with a mean score of 7.57 after training. Active listening, summarizing, and reframing were the mediation skills most often used by participants after training. Skills were transferred to interactions with patients and peers, and participants noted that they were able to intervene successfully early in problem cases. CONCLUSIONS: Mediation training significantly increased healthcare workers' comfort level with conflict, and the skills were transferable to the healthcare workplace. Mediation training in healthcare settings can help resolve conflicts with clients at an early stage and prevent progression to costly litigation.  (+info)

The evaluation of a mental health facilitator in general practice: effects on recognition, management, and outcome of mental illness. (7/293)

BACKGROUND: Facilitation uses personal contact between the facilitator and the professional to encourage good practice and better service organisation. The model has been applied to physical illness but not to psychiatric disorders. AIM: To determine if a non-specialist facilitator can improve the recognition, management, and outcome of psychiatric illness presenting to general practitioners (GPs). METHOD: Six practices were visited over an 18-month period by a facilitator whose activities included providing guidelines and organising training initiatives. Six other practices acted as controls. Recognition (identification index of family doctors), management (psychotropic prescribing, psychological consultations with the GP, specialist mental health treatment, and the use of medical interventions and investigations), and patient outcome at four months were assessed before and after intervention. RESULTS: The mean identification index of facilitator GPs rose from 0.51 to 0.64 following intervention, while that of the control GPs fell from 0.67 to 0.59 (P = 0.046). The facilitator had no detectable effect on management or patient outcome. CONCLUSIONS: The facilitator improved recognition of psychiatric illness by GPs. Generic facilitators can be trained to take on a mental health role; however, the failure to achieve more fundamental changes in treatment and outcome implies that facilitator intervention requires development.  (+info)

What triggers requests for ethics consultations? (8/293)

OBJECTIVES: While clinical practice is complicated by many ethical dilemmas, clinicians do not often request ethics consultations. We therefore investigated what triggers clinicians' requests for ethics consultation. DESIGN: Cross-sectional telephone survey. SETTING: Internal medicine practices throughout the United States. PARTICIPANTS: Randomly selected physicians practising in internal medicine, oncology and critical care. MAIN MEASUREMENTS: Socio-demographic characteristics, training in medicine and ethics, and practice characteristics; types of ethical problems that prompt requests for consultation, and factors triggering consultation requests. RESULTS: One hundred and ninety of 344 responding physicians (55%) reported requesting ethics consultations. Physicians most commonly reported requesting ethics consultations for ethical dilemmas related to end-of-life decision making, patient autonomy issues, and conflict. The most common triggers that led to consultation requests were: 1) wanting help resolving a conflict; 2) wanting assistance interacting with a difficult family, patient, or surrogate; 3) wanting help making a decision or planning care, and 4) emotional triggers. Physicians who were ethnically in the minority, practised in communities under 500,000 population, or who were trained in the US were more likely to request consultations prompted by conflict. CONCLUSIONS: Conflicts and other emotionally charged concerns triggers consultation requests more commonly than other cognitively based concerns. Ethicists need to be prepared to mediate conflicts and handle sometimes difficult emotional situations when consulting. The data suggest that ethics consultants might serve clinicians well by consulting on a more proactive basis to avoid conflicts and by educating clinicians to develop mediation skills.  (+info)