Nivel – Research for better care
Recent publications
Background A high percentage of people dying at home, and a low percentage of people being admitted to hospital and dying there are regarded as indicators of appropriate care at the end of life. However, performance standards for these quality indicators are often lacking, which makes it difficult to state whether an indicator score falls between the ranges of good or poor quality care. The aim of this study was to assess quality indicators concerning place of death and hospital care utilization in people with diseases relevant for palliative care, and to establish best practice performance standards based on indicator scores in 31 regions in the Netherlands. Methods A retrospective nationwide population-based observational study was conducted, using routinely collected administrative data concerning persons who died in 2017 in the Netherlands with underlying causes relevant for palliative care ( N = 109,707). Data from four registries were linked for analysis. Scores on eight quality indicators concerning place of death and hospital care utilization were calculated, and compared across 31 healthcare insurance regions to establish relative benchmarks. Results On average, 36.4% of the study population died at home (range between regions 30.5%-42.6%) and 20.4% in hospital (range 16.6%-25.5%). Roughly half of the population who received hospital care at any time in the last year of life were found to (also) receive hospital care in the last month of life. In the last month, 32.0% of the study population were admitted to hospital (range 29.4-36.4%), 5.3% to an Intensive Care Unit (range 3.2-6.9%) and 23.9% visited an Emergency Department (range 21.0-27.4%). In the same time period, less than 1% of the study population was resuscitated in hospital or received tube or intravenous feeding in hospital. Conclusions The variation between regions points towards opportunities for practice improvement. The best practice performance standards as set in this study serve as ambitious but attainable targets for those regions that currently do not meet the standards. Policymakers, healthcare providers and researchers can use the suggested performance standards to further analyze causes of variance between regions and develop and test interventions that can improve practice.
Background Palliative care for persons experiencing homelessness who reside in social service facilities is often late or lacking. A threefold intervention was implemented to improve palliative care for this population by increasing knowledge and collaboration between social service and palliative care professionals. This consultation service comprised: 1) consultations between social service professionals and palliative care professionals; 2) multidisciplinary meetings involving these professionals; and 3) training of these professionals. This study aims to evaluate the perceived added value of this threefold consultation service in three regions in the Netherlands. Methods A mixed-methods evaluation study using structured questionnaires for consultants, requesting consultants, and attendees of multidisciplinary meetings, semi-structured group and individual interviews with social service and palliative care professionals involved, weekly diaries filled out by consultants, and an implementation diary. Qualitative data were analyzed following the principles of thematic analysis. Quantitative data were analyzed descriptively. Results Thirty-four consultations, 22 multidisciplinary meetings and 9 training sessions were studied during the implementation period of 21 months. Social service professionals made up the majority of all professionals reached by the intervention. In all regions the intervention was perceived to have added value for collaboration and networks of social service and palliative care professionals (connecting disciplines reciprocally and strengthening collaborations), the competences of especially social service professionals involved (competency in palliative care provision, feeling emotionally supported in complex situations), and the quality and timing of palliative care (more focus on quality of life and dying, advance care planning and looking ahead, and greater awareness of death and palliative care). Conclusions The threefold consultation service particularly helps social service professionals connect with palliative care professionals. It helps them to identify palliative care needs in good time and to provide qualitatively better palliative care to persons experiencing homelessness.
This narrative review aims to examine the value of addressing mental disorders as part of the care of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes in terms of four components of precision medicine. First, we review the empirical literature on the role of common mental disorders in the development and outcomes of diabetes (precision prevention and prognostics). We then review interventions that can address mental disorders in individuals with diabetes or at risk of diabetes (precision treatment) and highlight recent studies that have used novel methods to individualise interventions, in person and through applications, based on mental disorders. Additionally, we discuss the use of detailed assessment of mental disorders using, for example, mobile health technologies (precision monitoring). Finally, we discuss future directions in research and practice and challenges to addressing mental disorders as a factor in precision medicine for diabetes. This review shows that several mental disorders are associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and its complications, while there is suggestive evidence indicating that treating some mental disorders could contribute to the prevention of diabetes and improve diabetes outcomes. Using technologically enabled solutions to identify mental disorders could help individuals who stand to benefit from particular treatments. However, there are considerable gaps in knowledge and several challenges to be met before we can stratify treatment recommendations based on mental disorders. Overall, this review demonstrates that addressing mental disorders as a facet of precision medicine could have considerable value for routine diabetes care and has the potential to improve diabetes outcomes. Graphical abstract
Purpose To describe colon cancer patients’ needs and how healthcare providers respond to these needs during routine follow-up consultations in hospital. Methods A multicenter qualitative observational study, consisting of follow-up consultations by surgeons and specialized oncology nurses. Consultations were analyzed according to Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences. Patients’ questions, cues, and concerns were derived from the data and categorized into supportive care domains. Responses of healthcare providers were defined as providing or reducing space for disclosure. Patient satisfaction with care was measured with a short questionnaire. Results Consultations with 30 patients were observed. Questions typically centered around the health system and information domain (i.e., follow-up schedule and test results; 92%). Cues and concerns were mostly associated with the physical and daily living domain (i.e., experiencing symptoms and difficulties resuming daily routine; 43%), followed by health system and information (i.e., miscommunication or lack of clarity about follow-up; 28%), and psychological domain (i.e., fear of recurrence and complications; 28%). Problems in the sexuality domain hardly ever arose (0%). Healthcare providers provided space to talk about half of the cues and concerns (54%). Responses to cancer-related versus unrelated problems were similar. Overall, the patients were satisfied with the information and communication received. Conclusions Colon cancer patients express various needs during consultations. Healthcare providers respond to different types of needs in a similar fashion. We encourage clinicians to discuss all supportive care domains, including sexuality, and provide space for further disclosure. General practitioners are trained to provide holistic care and could play a greater role.
Purpose Insights into the severity of co-existing symptoms can help in identifying breast cancer survivors in need of symptom management. We aimed to identify subgroups of breast cancer survivors based on patterns of symptom severity, and characteristics associated with these subgroups. Methods We selected surgically treated stage I–III breast cancer survivors 1–5 years post-diagnosis from the Netherlands Cancer Registry (N = 876). We assessed experienced severity of fatigue, nausea, pain, dyspnea, insomnia, appetite, constipation, diarrhea, and emotional and cognitive symptoms through the EORTC-QLQ-C30 Quality of Life Questionnaire on a scale of 0–100. We determined subgroups of survivors using latent class cluster analyses (LCA) based on severity of co-existing symptoms and compared their mean severity to the age-matched female reference population to interpret clinical relevance. We assessed subgroup characteristics by multinomial logistic regression analyses. Results From 404 respondents (46%), three subgroups of survivors with distinct symptom severity were identified: low severity (n = 116, 28.7%), intermediate severity (n = 224, 55.4%), and high severity (n = 59, 14.6%). The low subgroup reported lower symptom severity than the general population; the intermediate subgroup reported a similar symptom severity, although scores for fatigue, insomnia, and cognitive symptoms were worse (small-medium clinical relevance). The high subgroup had worse symptom severity (medium-large clinical relevance). Compared to the intermediate subgroup, one (RRR: 2.75; CI: 1.22–6.19; p = 0.015) or more (RRR: 9.19; CI: 3.70–22.8; p = < 0.001) comorbidities were significantly associated with the high subgroup. We found no associated treatment characteristics. Conclusion We identified distinct subgroups of breast cancer survivors based on symptom severity, underlining the relevance of further exploring personalized follow-up strategies.
Overweight and obesity in children are an increasing public health problem. Health literacy (HL) is a determinant of obesity and body mass index (BMI) rates in adults, but few studies have addressed the impact of children’s own HL on their weight and lifestyle. In this study, we aim to assess the impact of Dutch children’s HL on (1) their BMI z-score, (2) dietary behaviour, and (3) the amount of physical activity (PA) they engage in. A sample of 139 children (age 8–11 years) filled out a digital questionnaire, including an HL measurement instrument and questions regarding their food intake and PA. Furthermore, the height and weight of the children were measured, and background information was collected using a parental questionnaire. Multiple regression revealed a significant positive relation between children’s HL and their PA. No significant association between children’s HL and their BMI z-score or dietary behaviour was found. HL of children in primary school thus has an impact on some aspects of children’s lifestyle, although more research in a larger, more diverse sample is needed to further investigate this.
Background Guideline adherence is generally high in Dutch general practices. However, the prescription of insulins to type 2 diabetes mellitus patients is often not in line with the guideline, which recommends NPH insulin as first choice and discourages newer insulins. This qualitative study aimed to identify the reasons why primary care healthcare professionals prescribe insulins that are not recommended in guidelines. Methods Digital focus groups with primary care practitioners were organised. A topic list was developed, based on reasons for preferred insulins obtained from literature and a priori expert discussions. The discussions were video and audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and coded with a combination of inductive and deductive codes. Codes were categorized into an existing knowledge, attitudes and behaviour model for guideline non-adherence. Results Four focus groups with eleven general practitioners, twelve practice nurses, six pharmacists, four diabetes nurses and two nurse practitioners were organised. The prescription of non-recommended insulins was largely driven by argumentation in the domain of attitudes. Lack of agreement with the guideline was the most prominent category. Most of those perspectives did not reflect disagreement with the guideline recommendations in general, but were about advantages of non-recommended insulins, which led, according to the healthcare professionals, to better applicability of those insulins to specific patients. The belief that guideline-recommended insulins were less effective, positive experience with other insulins and marketing from pharmaceutical companies were also identified as attitude-related barriers to prescribe guideline-recommended insulins. One additional category in the domain of attitudes was identified, namely the lack of uniformity in policy between healthcare professionals in the same practice. Only a small number of external barriers were identified, focusing on patient characteristics that prevented the use of recommended insulins, the availability of contradictory guidelines and other, mostly secondary care, healthcare providers initiating non-recommended insulins. No knowledge-related barriers were identified. Conclusions The prescription of non-recommended insulins in primary care is mostly driven by lack of agreement with the guideline recommendations and different interpretation of evidence. These insights can be used for the development of interventions to stimulate primary care practitioners to prescribe guideline-recommended insulins.
Aim: To compare the societal financial costs and quality of life (QoL) of untreated patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and treated patients identified because they presented symptoms or were identified by early testing (sibling or newborn screening). Method: Data from two different sources were used: data collected prospectively in untreated patients from 2016 to 2018 and data collected during a prospective follow-up study from 2018 to 2021. Patients or their caregiver completed a questionnaire that included questions on direct medical and non-medical costs, indirect non-medical costs, and health-related QoL. Results: Data (median; range) were available for 149 patients (93 untreated - 10 years; 2 years-59 years), 42 patients (6 years 3 months; 9 months-58 years) treated after presenting with symptoms, and 14 patients (1 year 7 months; 5 months-2 years) treated after early diagnosis. Total costs were lower in untreated patients due to the high cost of drugs used in treated patients. Costs were lower for treated patients who were identified by early testing than for treated patients identified because they presented with symptoms. In all groups, patients with two SMN2 copies had higher costs than those with more copies. Interpretation: Early patient identification and treatment offer the opportunity to reduce the total societal costs of SMA where treatments are available for presymptomatic and postsymptomatic patients.
The Attachment and Biobehavioral Catchup intervention potentially offsets psychosocial risks facing dyads in which children have intellectual disability or developmental delays. In this single-case multiple-baseline study the efficacy of this intervention was tested across three such South African families. Maternal sensitivity, attachment security, and child affect regulation were measured weekly during a baseline and intervention period, using the Ainsworth Maternal Sensitivity Scales, Attachment Q-sort and salivary cortisol, respectively. Furthermore, post-intervention interviews invited parents’ and intervenors’ evaluations of the intervention. Visual analysis broadly indicated improvement in maternal sensitivity and attachment security across subjects over time following the introduction of the intervention, although randomisation tests were not statistically significant. Effects on affect regulation were not clearly observed and may have been influenced by case-specific variables. Parent-participants and intervenors also identified particularly helpful contributions from the intervention. Findings underscore the importance of individual-level effects evaluation, especially when implementing interventions outside the original population.
Background: Treatment choices for individual patients with an inborn bleeding disorder are increasingly challenging due to increasing options and rising costs for society. We have initiated an integrated interdisciplinary national research programme. Objectives: The SYMPHONY consortium strives to orchestrate personalized treatment in patients with an inborn bleeding disorder, by unravelling the mechanisms behind inter-individual variations of bleeding phenotype. Patients: The SYMPHONY consortium will investigate patients with an inborn bleeding disorder, both diagnosed and not yet diagnosed. Results: Research questions are categorized under the themes: 1) Diagnosis; 2) Treatment; and 3) Fundamental research and consist of workpackages addressing specific domains. Importantly, collaborations between patients and talented researchers from different areas of expertise promise to augment the impact of the SYMPHONY consortium, leading to unique interactions and intellectual property. Conclusions: SYMPHONY will perform research on all aspects of care, treatment individualization in patients with inborn bleeding disorders as well as diagnostic innovations and results of molecular genetics and cellular model technology with regard to the hemostatic process. We believe that these research investments will lead to health care innovations with long-term clinical and societal impact. This consortium has been made possible by a governmental, competitive grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) within the framework of the NWA-ORC Call grant agreement NWA.1160.18.038.
We aimed to systematically assess the measurement properties of diabetes-specific patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) for measuring physical functioning, one of the core outcomes, in adults with type 2 diabetes.We performed a systematic literature search for PROMs or subscales measuring physical function that were validated to at least some extent in EMBASE and MEDLINE. Measurement properties were evaluated according to the COSMIN guideline for systematic reviews of PROMs.In total 21 articles were included, describing 12 versions of 7 unique diabetes-specific PROMs or subscales measuring physical functioning. In general, there were few high-quality studies on measurement properties of PROMs measuring physical functioning in adults with type 2 diabetes. The Dependence/Daily Life subscale of the Diabetic Foot Ulcer Scale-Short Form (DFS-SF) and the Impact of Weight on Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire (IWADL) were most extensively evaluated. Both had sufficient ratings for aspects of content validity, although with mostly very low-quality evidence. Sufficient ratings for structural validity, internal consistency, and reliability were also found for both instruments, but responsiveness was rated inconsistent for both instruments. The other PROMs or subscales often had insufficient aspects of content validity, or their unidimensionality could not be confirmed.This systematic review showed that the Dependence/Daily Life subscale of the DFS-SF and the IWADL could be used to measure physical functioning in people with type 2 diabetes in research or clinical practice, while keeping the limitations of these instruments in mind. The measurement properties that have not been evaluated extensively for these PROMs should be evaluated in future studies.The study protocol was registered in the PROSPERO database, number CRD42021234890.
Throughout life people with profound intellectual and multiple disability (PIMD) are likely to experience multiple complex and life-threatening conditions, creating a need for decision-making about end-of-life care and support. Due to communication challenges, people with PIMD are likely to depend on others to articulate their will and preferences. To date, research focussed on end-of-life care and support needs for people with intellectual and developmental disability has largely centred on the needs of people with milder disability. This chapter focusses instead on people with PIMD, describing the multiple palliative care challenges, including acknowledging, interpreting and acting on expressions of will and preference. The chapter highlights the importance of acknowledging and responding to non-symbolic communication and provides case examples of how the person with PIMD can be placed at the centre of decision-making. The chapter includes reflection questions and resources.
Identification of non-adherence to antihypertensive drugs is crucial to improve resistant hypertension (RH). For this measuring drug levels is the most reliable method. The primary objective of this analysis is to determine whether drug levels measured with a dried blood spot (DBS) sampling method combined with personalized feedback leads to a decrease in prevalence of RH after 3 and 6 months due to an increase in adherence. This is a multi-center single-blinded randomized controlled trial (RHYME-RCT, NL6736). Patients went to an eligibility visit, where DBS sampling and a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure measurement (ABPM) was performed simultaneously. Patients with a daytime systolic blood pressure (SBP) > 135 and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) > 85 mmHg were randomized to standard treatment (control) or intervention. The intervention was performed by the treating physician and included information on drug levels and a personalized feedback conversation based on a feedback tool. The follow-up period was one year and included visits at 3, 6 and 12 months after the eligibility visit. At each visit an ABPM and DBS were performed. A total of 78 patients (mean age of 59 ± 11 years, 75.6% male) with at least six months of follow-up were included. The prevalence of RH decreased from 100% in both arms to 60.0% in the intervention arm (p < 0.001, n = 35) and 58.1% in the control arm (p < 0.001, n = 43) after 6 months of follow-up. Adherence rates also improved over time, but only significantly improved in the intervention group after 3 months (p = 0.020). Furthermore, no statistically significant differences were found after six months between the two groups in the degree of RH (p = 0.868), SBP (p = 0.759) or adherence (p = 0.841). Measuring blood pressure and drug levels led to a decrease in the prevalence of RH. However, this improvement could not be linked to the actual intervention or improvement of adherence. Note: In June 2022 data from the 12 months follow-up will also be complete and presented.
Background: Older adults are particularly prone to the development of poor appetite and undernutrition. Possibly, this is partly due to the aged gut microbiota. We aimed to evaluate the gut microbiota in relation to both poor appetite and undernutrition in community-dwelling older adults. Furthermore, we studied the causal effects of the microbiota on body weight and body composition by transferring faecal microbiota from cohort participants into germ-free mice. Methods: First, we conducted a cross-sectional cohort study of 358 well-phenotyped Dutch community-dwelling older adults from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Data collection included body measurements, a faecal and blood sample, as well as extensive questionnaires on appetite, dietary intake, and nutritional status. Appetite was assessed by the Council of Nutrition Appetite Questionnaire (CNAQ) and undernutrition was defined by either a low body mass index (BMI) (BMI < 20 kg/m2 if <70 years or BMI < 22 kg/m2 if ≥70 years) or >5% body weight loss averaged over the last 2 years. Gut microbiota composition was determined with 16S rRNA sequencing. Next, we transferred faecal microbiota from 12 cohort participants with and without low BMI or recent weight loss into a total of 41 germ-free mice to study the potential causal effects of the gut microbiota on host BMI and body composition. Results: The mean age (range) of our cohort was 73 (65-93); 58.4% was male. Seventy-seven participants were undernourished and 21 participants had poor appetite (CNAQ < 28). A lower abundance of the genus Blautia was associated with undernutrition (log2 fold change = -0.57, Benjamini-Hochberg-adjusted P = 0.008), whereas higher abundances of taxa from Lachnospiraceae, Ruminococcaceae UCG-002, Parabacteroides merdae, and Dorea formicigenerans were associated with poor appetite. Furthermore, participants with poor appetite or undernutrition had reduced levels of faecal acetate (P = 0.006 and 0.026, respectively). Finally, there was a trend for the mice that received faecal microbiota from older adults with low BMI to weigh 1.26 g less after 3 weeks (P = 0.086) and have 6.13% more lean mass (in % body weight, P = 0.067) than the mice that received faecal microbiota from older adults without low BMI or recent weight loss. Conclusions: This study demonstrates several associations of the gut microbiota with both poor appetite and undernutrition in older adults. Moreover, it is the first to explore a causal relation between the aged gut microbiota and body weight and body composition in the host. Possibly, microbiota-manipulating strategies will benefit older adults prone to undernutrition.
Age‐related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the principal causes of irreversible visual impairment in the older adult population. Recent evidence indicates that there are signs of undertreatment and overtreatment, underdiagnosis and insufficient information provision in AMD care. Shared decision‐making (SDM) can aid information sharing between patients and health professionals and enhances high‐quality care. This research aimed to gain insight into patients' and professionals' views on SDM in AMD care. Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with 20 patients with AMD and 19 health professionals in June and July 2020. Participants were recruited through hospitals, professional and patient associations and (social) networks. Sample representativeness was ensured in terms of sociodemographic and disease characteristics for patients, and profession‐related characteristics for health professionals. Interviews were analysed according to a predetermined coding framework. Although SDM is receiving attention in AMD care, health professionals and patients experienced barriers in making shared decisions. The most common barriers reported included limitations in treatment options, time constraints, strict treatment guidelines and patients' comorbidity. Furthermore, most patients indicated that they were not (fully) informed about all aspects of AMD trajectory, such as the possibility to discontinue therapy or the long‐term and invasive character of treatment. Some patients expressed the need for a more empathic and person‐centred communication style from their health professional. The concerns raised by patients and health professionals suggest that there is room for improvement in delivery of SDM in AMD care. Findings from this study indicate that information provision and communication can be improved.
Rationale The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and consequent lockdown measures have had a large impact on people's lives. Recent evidence suggests that self-rated health (SRH) scores remained relatively stable or increased during the pandemic. Objective For the current project, we examine potential changes in the variance decomposition of SRH before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands. Methods We analyse data from the Netherlands Twin Register to examine pre-pandemic SRH scores (N = 16,127), pandemic SRH scores (N = 17,451), and SRH difference scores (N = 7464). Additionally, we perform bivariate genetic analyses to estimate genetic and environmental variance components in pre-pandemic and pandemic SRH, and estimate the genetic correlation to assess potential gene-environment interaction. Results The majority of the sample (66.7%) reported the same SRH before and during the pandemic, while 10.8% reported a decrease, and 22.5% an increase. Individuals who reported good/excellent SRH before the pandemic were most likely to report unchanged SRH during the pandemic, and individuals with bad/mediocre/reasonable SRH more often reported increased SRH. The bivariate longitudinal genetic model reveals no significant change in variance decomposition of SRH from before to during the pandemic, with a heritability estimate of 45% (CI 36%–52%). We found that the genetic correlation could be constrained to 1, and a moderate unique environmental correlation (rE = 0.49, CI = 0.37 to 0.60). Conclusions We theorize that the increases in SRH are explained by uninfected individuals evaluating their health more positively than under normal circumstances (partly through social comparison with infected individuals), rather than actual improvements. As the same genes are expressed under different environmental exposures, these results imply no evidence for gene-environment interaction. While different environmental factors might influence SRH at the two time-points, the influence of environmental factors does not become relatively more important during the pandemic.
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123 members
Mark Nielen
  • General Practice
Jozien M Bensing
  • Communication in health care
Robert A Verheij
  • NIVEL Primary Care Database
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Utrecht, Netherlands
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http://www.nivel.nl