[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is only limited empirical evidence about the effectiveness of opinion leaders as health care change agents.
To test the feasibility of identifying, and the characteristics of, opinion leaders using a sociometric instrument and a self-designating instrument in different professional groups within the UK National Health Service.
Postal questionnaire survey.
All general practitioners, practice nurses and practice managers in two regions of Scotland. All physicians and surgeons (junior hospital doctors and consultants) and medical and surgical nursing staff in two district general hospitals and one teaching hospital in Scotland, as well as all Scottish obstetric and gynaecology, and oncology consultants.
Using the sociometric instrument, the extent of social networks and potential coverage of the study population in primary and secondary care was highly idiosyncratic. In contrast, relatively complex networks with good coverage rates were observed in both national specialty groups. Identified opinion leaders were more likely to have the expected characteristics of opinion leaders identified from diffusion and social influence theories. Moreover, opinion leaders appeared to be condition-specific. The self-designating instrument identified more opinion leaders, but it was not possible to estimate the extent and structure of social networks or likely coverage by opinion leaders. There was poor agreement in the responses to the sociometric and self-designating instruments.
The feasibility of identifying opinion leaders using an off-the-shelf sociometric instrument is variable across different professional groups and settings within the NHS. Whilst it is possible to identify opinion leaders using a self-designating instrument, the effectiveness of such opinion leaders has not been rigorously tested in health care settings. Opinion leaders appear to be monomorphic (different leaders for different issues). Recruitment of opinion leaders is unlikely to be an effective general strategy across all settings and professional groups; the more specialised the group, the more opinion leaders may be a useful strategy.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2006 · Implementation Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a complex disorder influenced by numerous risk factors, and occurs frequently in at-risk hospitalized patients. Because appropriate prevention with thromboprophylaxis is underused, we wanted to create an electronic tool to provide a simple risk assessment and suggest appropriate prophylaxis.
To develop the risk matrix, iterative rating of odds ratios was performed for 60 predisposing VTE risk factors, using analytical methods that account for multiple risk factors in a single patient and their non-independence. For exposing risk factors, a single score was assigned to each set of factors, both medical (25 items) and surgical conditions (144 items). A CART regression model was used to integrate the risk scales into a 4-level measure of overall risk. The validity of the level of risk and the appropriateness of 11 different prophylactic approaches was assessed using the RAND/UCLA appropriateness method and validated by expert opinion ratings (n=1998) on sample case scenarios (n=108).
Correlation between the level of risk calculated by the risk matrix and that offered by expert opinion for individual surgical and medical clinical cases was high (65% and 70%, respectively). The matrix over-estimated the level of risk, compared with that offered by expert opinion, in 28% and 20% of surgical and medical cases, respectively, but the appropriate prophylaxis suggested was no different. Between-expert agreement on the appropriateness of the prophylaxis recommendations was high (90-94% of indications).
This computer-based electronic tool for individualized assessment of venous thromboembolic risk successfully identified both the perceived risk of thrombosis and the appropriate prophylactic approach for medical and surgical patients.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most patients with colorectal liver metastases present to general surgeons and oncologists without a specialist interest in their management. Since treatment strategy is frequently dependent on the response to earlier treatments, our aim was to create a therapeutic decision model identifying appropriate procedure sequences.
We used the RAND Corporation/University of California, Los Angeles Appropriateness Method (RAM) assessing strategies of resection, local ablation and chemotherapy. After a comprehensive literature review, an expert panel rated appropriateness of each treatment option for a total of 1,872 ratings decisions in 252 cases. A decision model was constructed, consensus measured and results validated using 48 virtual cases, and 34 real cases with known outcomes.
Consensus was achieved with overall agreement rates of 93.4 to 99.1%. Absolute resection contraindications included unresectable extrahepatic disease, more than 70% liver involvement, liver failure, and being surgically unfit. Factors not influencing treatment strategy were age, primary tumor stage, timing of metastases detection, past blood transfusion, liver resection type, pre-resection carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and previous hepatectomy. Immediate resection was appropriate with adequate radiologically-defined resection margins and no portal adenopathy; other factors included presence of < or = 4 or > 4 metastases and unilobar or bilobar involvement. Resection was appropriate postchemotherapy, independent of tumor response in the case of < or = 4 metastases and unilobar liver involvement. Resection was appropriate only for > 4 metastases or bilobar liver involvement, after tumor shrinkage with chemotherapy. When possible, resection was preferred to local ablation.
The results were incorporated into a decision matrix, creating a computer program (OncoSurge). This model identifies individual patient resectability, recommending optimal treatment strategies. It may also be used for medical education.
No preview · Article · Oct 2005 · Journal of Clinical Oncology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lack of consensus on the meaning of eHealth has led to uncertainty among academics, policymakers, providers and consumers. This project was commissioned in light of the rising profile of eHealth on the international policy agenda and the emerging UK National Programme for Information Technology (now called Connecting for Health) and related developments in the UK National Health Service.
To map the emergence and scope of eHealth as a topic and to identify its place within the wider health informatics field, as part of a larger review of research and expert analysis pertaining to current evidence, best practice and future trends.
Multiple databases of scientific abstracts were explored in a nonsystematic fashion to assess the presence of eHealth or conceptually related terms within their taxonomies, to identify journals in which articles explicitly referring to eHealth are contained and the topics covered, and to identify published definitions of the concept. The databases were Medline (PubMed), the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Science Citation Index (SCI), the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), the Cochrane Database (including Dare, Central, NHS Economic Evaluation Database [NHS EED], Health Technology Assessment [HTA] database, NHS EED bibliographic) and ISTP (now known as ISI proceedings). We used the search query, "Ehealth OR e-health OR e*health". The timeframe searched was 1997-2003, although some analyses contain data emerging subsequent to this period. This was supplemented by iterative searches of Web-based sources, such as commercial and policy reports, research commissioning programmes and electronic news pages. Definitions extracted from both searches were thematically analyzed and compared in order to assess conceptual heterogeneity.
The term eHealth only came into use in the year 2000, but has since become widely prevalent. The scope of the topic was not immediately discernable from that of the wider health informatics field, for which over 320000 publications are listed in Medline alone, and it is not explicitly represented within the existing Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) taxonomy. Applying eHealth as narrative search term to multiple databases yielded 387 relevant articles, distributed across 154 different journals, most commonly related to information technology and telemedicine, but extending to such areas as law. Most eHealth articles are represented on Medline. Definitions of eHealth vary with respect to the functions, stakeholders, contexts and theoretical issues targeted. Most encompass a broad range of medical informatics applications either specified (eg, decision support, consumer health information) or presented in more general terms (eg, to manage, arrange or deliver health care). However the majority emphasize the communicative functions of eHealth and specify the use of networked digital technologies, primarily the Internet, thus differentiating eHealth from the field of medical informatics. While some definitions explicitly target health professionals or patients, most encompass applications for all stakeholder groups. The nature of the scientific and broader literature pertaining to eHealth closely reflects these conceptualizations.
We surmise that the field -- as it stands today -- may be characterized by the global definitions suggested by Eysenbach and Eng.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2005 · Journal of Medical Internet Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Scenarios alert policymakers and stakeholders to emerging problems and provide a reference point for long-term strategic planning. To be useful, scenarios have to be both scientifically credible and policy-relevant. A wide range of perceptions have to be taken into account in the scenario-building process – as policymaking is not or no longer characterised by 'the choice' of 'the policymaker' and policymaking processes have become more and more open. The question is how to deal with divergent perceptions and interests. The traditional scenario approach does not address these issues – it was originally designed for authorative top-down planning. In this paper, we explore, based on two case studies, what demands a multi-actor policy setting puts on the scenario-building process.
No preview · Article · Jan 2005 · International Journal of Technology Policy and Management
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical practice guidelines quickly become outdated. One reason they might not be updated as often as needed is the expense of collecting expert judgment regarding the evidence. The RAND-UCLA Appropriateness Method is one commonly used method for collecting expert opinion. We tested whether a less expensive, mail-only process could substitute for the standard in-person process normally used.
We performed a 4-way replication of the appropriateness panel process for coronary revascularization and hysterectomy, conducting 3 panels using the conventional in-person method and 1 panel entirely by mail. All indications were classified as inappropriate or not (to evaluate overuse), and coronary revascularization indications were classified as necessary or not (to evaluate underuse). Kappa statistics were calculated for the comparison in ratings from the 2 methods.
Agreement beyond chance between the 2 panel methods ranged from moderate to substantial. The kappa statistic to detect overuse was 0.57 for coronary revascularization and 0.70 for hysterectomy. The kappa statistic to detect coronary revascularization underuse was 0.76. There were no cases in which coronary revascularization was considered inappropriate by 1 method, but necessary or appropriate by the other. Three of 636 (0.5%) hysterectomy cases were categorized as inappropriate by 1 method but appropriate by the other.
The reproducibility of the overuse and underuse assessments from the mail-only compared with the conventional in-person conduct of expert panels in this application was similar to the underlying reproducibility of the process. This suggests a potential role for updating guidelines using an expert judgment process conducted entirely through the mail.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To assess the appropriateness of and variation in intention-to-treat decisions in the management of depression in the Netherlands.
Mailed survey with 22 paper cases (vignettes) based on a population study.
A random sample from four professional groups in the Dutch mental healthcare system.
264 general practitioners, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and clinical psychologists.
Each vignette contained information on a number of patient characteristics taken from three national depression guidelines. The distribution of patient characteristics was based on data from a population study. Respondents were asked to choose the best treatment option and the best treatment setting. For each vignette we examined which of the selected treatments was appropriate according to the recommendations of the three published Dutch clinical guidelines and a panel of experts.
31% of all intention-to-treat decisions were not consistent with the guidelines. Overall, less severe depression, alcohol abuse, psychotic features, and lack of social resources were related to more inappropriate judgements. There was considerable variation between the professional groups: psychiatrists made more appropriate choices than the other professions although they had the highest rate of overtreatment.
There is sufficient variation in the intentions to treat depression to give it priority in quality assessment and guideline development. Efforts to achieve appropriate care should focus on treatment indications, referral patterns, and overtreatment.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2002 · Quality and Safety in Health Care
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Drug use is an increasing problem in Portugal. In response, following the advice of a select committee, the Portuguese government has recently issued a number of laws implementing a strong harm-reductionistic orientation. The flagship of these laws is the decriminalization of the use and possession for use of drugs. Use and possession for use are now only administrative offenses; no distinction is made between different types of drugs (hard vs. soft drugs) or whether consumption is private or in public. Although most people favor decriminalization in principle, doubts have been expressed about the way the law will be implemented because the law only sets a framework for those communities that wish to undertake such activities--it is an enabling law. This has led to a considerable lack of clarity and increases the risk of dissimilarity of implementation in different parts of the country. The future will show the effects.
No preview · Article · Jul 2002 · The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study deals with pharmacotherapeutical issues in pediatrics. The overall impression is that large lacunae exist in research on the pharmacological treatment of children. Most drugs are not studied in a pediatrics population before market introduction, while there are several important differences in drug use and effects between adults and children. Examples -include: - Medication efficacy and safety has usually been tested on adults, but effects are unknown with children as subjects. Pediatric clinical trials are subject to many restrictions (ethics, practical guidelines) - Differences in distribution and elimination of drugs between adults and children, and lack of knowledge about pharmacokinetics and -dynamics - Differences in dose, frequency and route of administration - Differences in compliance and non-compliance - Differences in (tracking of) side effects and adverse reactions due to medications. The Dutch Health Care Insurance Board (abbreviated CVZ for its Dutch name) recognizes the need for research on medications in children. It has issued a study, to be conducted by RAND Europe, to prioritize medications for clinical research in children. The need for researching the use of medication by children has several aspects and involves the expertise of different medical professionals. This project focuses on the following questions: - To what extent do medical professionals face and recognize problems concerning the use of medication by children? - Which concerns exist among these professionals regarding the use of medication by children? - How can these concerns be translated into priorities for research? - Which Organizational structure is needed to give direction to future research? The literature review serves as an inventory to areas of discussion and controversy in the main disease fields of pediatrics.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We convened a multinational panel to develop appropriateness criteria for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) and coronary artery bypass graft (CABG). To assess the applicability of these criteria, we applied them to patients referred for coronary revascularization. Finally, to understand how multinational criteria may differ from criteria developed by a panel of physicians from one country, we compared the appropriateness ratings using the multinational panel's criteria and those made using similar criteria previously developed by a panel of Dutch physicians.
We conducted a prospective survey and review of the medical records of 2363 consecutive patients presenting with chronic stable angina or following a myocardial infarction who were referred for PTCA (n=1137) or CABG (n= 1226) at ten Dutch hospitals performing coronary revascularization. Appropriateness was measured using two sets of criteria developed by: (1) a Dutch panel of cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons in 1991; and (2) a similarly composed European panel in 1998.
More PTCA referrals were rated inappropriate by Dutch criteria compared with multinational criteria among both patients with chronic stable angina (34.8 versus 6.1%; P< 0.001) and those with a recent myocardial infarction (28.1 versus 0.9%; P< 0.001). Among those patients referred for bypass surgery, the Dutch criteria judged a greater proportion of cases inappropriate than multinational criteria did for patients with chronic stable angina (3.7 versus 1.5%, P< 0.001). The proportion of cases rated inappropriate for bypass surgery among patients following a myocardial infarction was similar between the two panels (3.9 versus 2.4%, respectively; P=0.40). After reclassifying the data for two of the clinical factors used in the appropriateness criteria (lesion morphology and intensity of medical therapy) based on evidence that appeared in the literature after the Dutch panel met, we found no significant differences between the Dutch and multinational panels' appropriateness ratings.
While fewer cases were judged inappropriate using the multinational criteria compared with the Dutch criteria, the differences in ratings were related primarily to the clinical factors used by each panel. These findings support the review of appropriateness criteria, and other forms of clinical guidelines, to ensure that they are current with the clinical evidence before using them to assess clinical care. Developing such criteria using a multinational panel, in contrast to multiple single country panels, would be a more efficient use of resources.
Full-text · Article · May 2002 · International Journal for Quality in Health Care
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Focus groups were formerly associated with market research but have recently gained some measure of social scientific respectability. In this article, I briefly recapitulate the history of focus groups and then examine their role in 4 (2 Dutch, 2 American) policy research projects. In each case, the focus groups provided an understanding of the interests and values of different stakeholder groups and per-mitted the analysts to predict the groups’ reactions to policy alternatives. This served to link the focus groups to the underlying policy problem, to set the policy issues in their appropriate context, to take due account of the technical complexities of the situation, and to orient toward integrating the results of the focus groups with the other tools used in the policy analysis. The four cases shared a “spiral” model approach to focus groups, in which the discussion moves from generic to specific toward the object of focus rather than tackling it directly. This permits both a breadth and depth of perspective and helps avoid posturing. I conclude that focus groups provide a value for policy analysis because they enable participant stakeholders to become part of the process, help uncover misunderstandings that conceal underlying agreements among stakeholders, and uncover potential problems of implementation.
Preview · Article · Nov 2001 · Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is no empirical evidence on the sensitivity and specificity of methods to identify the possible overuse and underuse of medical procedures. To estimate the sensitivity and specificity of the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method. Parallel three-way replication of the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method for each of two procedures, coronary revascularization and hysterectomy. Maximum likelihood estimates of the sensitivity and specificity of the method for each procedure. These values were then used to re-calculate past estimates of overuse and underuse, correcting for the error rate in the appropriateness method. The sensitivity of detecting overuse of coronary revascularization was 68% (95% confidence interval 60-76%) and the specificity was 99% (98-100%). The corresponding values for hysterectomy were 89% (85-94%) and 86% (83-89%). The sensitivity and specificity of detecting the underuse of coronary revascularization were 94% (92-95%) and 97% (96-98%), respectively. Past applications of the appropriateness method have overestimated the prevalence of the overuse of hysterectomy, underestimated the prevalence of the overuse of the coronary revascularization, and provided true estimates of the underuse of revascularization. The sensitivity and specificity of the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method vary according to the procedure assessed and appear to estimate the underuse of procedures more accurately than their overuse.
No preview · Article · Nov 2001 · Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Over the last decade, a number of organisations have developed clinical guidelines, typically at a national level, in order to increase appropriate health care. This raises the question as to whether it is possible to develop guidelines, applicable on the national level, at an international level. In order to examine this, we compared the appropriateness criteria for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia ratings developed by two panels, one a single-nationality (Dutch) panel, the other a multinational (European) panel. The panels, both consisting of experienced urologists, used a modified Delphi process to rate 1152 indications for the most common treatments (surgery, alpha-blocker, finasteride and watchful waiting) on a nine-point scale. This article describes the similarities and differences between the ratings produced by the panels. The appropriateness ratings were identical for 84% of the indications (kappa=0.76). The difference in the scores for individual indications was zero in 41% of indications and less than or equal to two in 99% of indications. This study provides strong evidence that a multinational panel can deliver essentially the same appropriateness ratings for BPH as a national panel. Developing appropriateness criteria on an international level may result in significant savings and may help contribute to the reduction of undesirable practice variation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Appropriateness criteria are frequently used to assess quality of care. However, assessing care in one country with criteria developed in another may be misleading. One approach to measuring care across countries would be to develop common standards using physicians from different countries and specialties.
To identify the degree to which appropriateness ratings for coronary revascularization developed by a multinational panel differ by panelist specialty and nationality.
A 13-member panel of cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists from the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom was convened to rate the appropriateness of 842 indications for percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) and coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG) on a 1 (extremely inappropriate) to 9 (extremely appropriate) scale.
Mean appropriateness ratings by panelist specialty and nationality.
Surgeons' mean ratings for PTCA indications ranged from 0.64 points lower than the corresponding ratings of the cardiologists for acute myocardial infarction indications to 1.22 points lower for chronic stable angina indications. Conversely, their ratings for bypass surgery indications ranged from 0.59 points higher for chronic stable angina indications to 0.69 points higher for unstable angina indications. Although Spanish panelists' ratings were significantly higher than the mean for 3 of the 4 clinical conditions treated by PTCA, their ratings were similar for bypass surgery indications. No specific patterns were observed in the ratings of the panelists from the other countries.
These findings support the use of physicians from multiple specialties on appropriateness panels because they represent more divergent views than physicians from a single specialty. Finding no systematic difference in beliefs regarding the appropriateness of PTCA and CABG among physicians from different countries will require confirmation before multinational panels supplant single country panels in future studies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To perform a systematic analysis of clinical expertise on treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) suggestive of benign prostatic obstruction (BPO)) and to investigate the usefulness of these data in further guideline development.
A modified Delphi method was used to analyse the opinions of a panel of 15 European urologists on the appropriateness of 4 common treatments for 1,152 "indications" (hypothetical cases) for LUTS suggestive of BPO. Each indication consisted of a unique combination of 9 diagnostic variables, found to be relevant in treatment choice in previous research. The study population was restricted to patients for whom current guidelines do not provide clear indications on the most appropriate treatment. The panellists individually rated the appropriateness of three active treatments (surgery, alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists, finasteride) using a 9-point scale, all in comparison with "watchful waiting". Aggregate panel judgements were calculated from individual ratings for each indication (appropriate, inappropriate, and uncertain). The relationship between diagnostic characteristics and panel opinions was analysed using logistic regression methods. The results were compared to those of an identical panel study including 12 Dutch urologists.
Strong agreement existed for 42.5% of the indications, while strong disagreement was found in only 0.1%. For patients who had not previously been treated for LUTS, surgery was considered appropriate in 44% of the indications. For alpha(1)-adrenoceptor antagonists and finasteride these percentages were 56 and 6 respectively. Strong contra-indications were found only for finasteride (34%). Logistic regression analysis demonstrated consistent panel opinions, indicating a strong cumulative impact of almost all diagnostic variables on the panel judgement "appropriate". The figures on appropriateness were highly comparable to the results of the Dutch study (overall agreement 84%, kappa 0,76). A computer program was constructed to facilitate the implementation and evaluation of the panel recommendations in daily clinical practice.
Given the consistency of the panel opinions, the results may be useful in complementing evidence-based guidelines for LUTS suggestive of BPO in the grey area of treatment choice.
No preview · Article · Feb 2001 · European Urology