[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most Western health systems remain single illness orientated despite the growing prevalence of multi-morbidity. Identifying how much time people with multiple chronic conditions spend managing their health will help policy makers and health service providers make decisions about areas of patient need for support. This article presents findings from an Australian study concerning the time spent on health related activity by older adults (aged 50 years and over), most of whom had multiple chronic conditions. A recall questionnaire was developed, piloted, and adjusted. Sampling was undertaken through three bodies; the Lung Foundation Australia (COPD sub-sample), National Diabetes Services Scheme (Diabetes sub-sample) and National Seniors Australia (Seniors sub-sample). Questionnaires were mailed out during 2011 to 10,600 older adults living in Australia. 2540 survey responses were received and analysed. Descriptive analyses were completed to obtain median values for the hours spent on each activity per month. The mean number of chronic conditions was 3.7 in the COPD sub-sample, 3.4 in the Diabetes sub-sample and 2.0 in the NSA sub-sample. The study identified a clear trend of increased time use associated with increased number of chronic conditions. Median monthly time use was 5-16 hours per month overall for our three sub-samples. For respondents in the top decile with five or more chronic conditions the median time use was equivalent to two to three hours per day, and if exercise is included in the calculations, respondents spent from between five and eight hours per day: an amount similar to full-time work. Multi-morbidity imposes considerable time burdens on patients. Ageing is associated with increasing rates of multi-morbidity. Many older adults are facing high demands on their time to manage their health in the face of decreasing energy and mobility. Their time use must be considered in health service delivery and health system reform.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aim:
A decline in asthma prevalence from 2000 to 2005 was reported previously. The objective is to examine the temporal trends for the prevalence of obesity and other childhood disorders and consider the extent to which associations between asthma and other co-morbidities can be accounted for by body mass index.
Serial cross-sectional surveys of primary school entrants (n = 18,999) in the Australian Capital Territory between 2001 and 2005 were used. Asthma, recent respiratory symptoms and diabetes data were extracted from parental reports. Anthropometric measurements were obtained from health assessments by school nurses. Child obesity was defined using the age and sex-specific Cole criteria. Time trends for the prevalence of obesity and other disorders, and the association between 'current asthma' and co-morbidities were analysed using multiple logistic regression and other analyses.
Obesity prevalence was 5.24% in 2001 decreasing to 3.60% in 2005 (test of linear trend P = 0.02). Overweight (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.30 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16, 1.46), P < 0.001) and obese (AOR 1.36 (95% CI 1.13, 1.62), P = 0.001) children were more likely to report 'asthma ever'. Children with diabetes (AOR 9.35 (95% CI 3.11, 28.12, P < 0.001)) and attention deficit (AOR 3.39 (95% CI 2.04, 5.64), P < 0.001) were more likely to report 'current asthma'.
The pattern of association with co-morbidities was different for asthma and obesity. The temporal decline/plateau effect in 'current asthma' could not be explained by concurrent body mass index changes. The decline in obesity was largely driven by the 2005 findings. Longer term trends need to be evaluated further.
No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose:
People living with chronic illness report spending a lot of time managing their health, attempting to balance the demands of their illness/es with other activities. This study was designed to measure the time older people with chronic illness spend on specific health-related activities. Key methods: Data were collected in 2010 using a national survey of people aged 50 years and over selected from the membership of National Seniors Australia, the Diabetes Services Scheme and The Lung Foundation. Respondents provided recall data on time used for personal health care, non-clinical health activity; and health service interactions.
While most people with a chronic illness spend on average less than 30 minutes a day on health-related activities, the highest decile of respondents averaged at least 2 hours each day. People with COPD report the highest expenditure of time. The greatest amount of time was spent on daily personal health care activities.
For a minority of people with chronic illness, time demands for health-related activities can be so great that other activities must be affected. Some time demands are amenable to system interventions that would result in a more patient-centered organisation of care.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aim. To measure the association between infant feeding practices and parent-reported nut allergy in school entrant children. Method. The Kindergarten Health Check Questionnaire was delivered to all 110 Australian Capital Territory (ACT) primary schools between 2006 and 2009. Retrospective analyses were undertaken of the data collected from the kindergarten population. Results. Of 15142 children a strong allergic reaction to peanuts and other nuts was reported in 487 (3.2%) and 307 (3.9%), children, respectively. There was a positive association between parent reported nut allergy and breast feeding (OR = 1.53; 1.11-2.11) and having a regular general practitioner (GP) (OR = 1.42; 1.05-1.92). A protective effect was found in children who were fed foods other than breast milk in the first six months (OR = 0.71; 0.60-0.84). Conclusion. Children were at an increased risk of developing a parent-reported nut allergy if they were breast fed in the first six months of life.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2012 · International Journal of Pediatrics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Antibiotic resistance in the community, including transfer between bacteria, is a growing concern for clinicians. Acne is commonly treated in general practice, sometimes with antibiotics. The aim of this study is to measure the rate of carriage of antibiotic resistant Propionibacterium acnes 10 years apart in general practice and the relationship of resistance to type of treatment, as well potential effects on other flora.
Patients (N = 215) with acne presenting to Australian Capital Territory and south-eastern New South Wales general practices were swabbed for P. acnes in 1997-1998 and 2007. Clinical details were collected with questionnaires. In 2007 swabs were also taken for Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae. GP's diagnostic classification of acne was tested using a set of standard photographs.
Resistant P. acnes was isolated from 20 patients (9%) and the proportion that was resistant was the same in 1997-1998 and in 2007. Antibiotic use, particularly topical, was associated with P. acnes resistance. Resistance rates declined with the time elapsed since ceasing antibiotics. Use of retinoids was associated with a decreased chance of growing P. acnes (P = 0.008) but not with decreased resistance. Simultaneous resistance with S. aureus was not detected, but only in 30 patients was S. aureus isolated.
P. acnes resistance was similar in 1997-1998 and in 2007.The chance of a patient carrying a resistant strain of P. acnes is significantly greater with recent exposure to antibiotics, and clinicians should limit prescribing where possible. Resistance disappears rapidly after ceasing antibiotics. Cross resistance with other organisms was not detected in this study.
Full-text · Article · May 2012 · Australasian Journal of Dermatology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Evidence remains unclear as to whether folic acid (FA) and vitamin B-12 supplementation is effective in reducing depressive symptoms.
The objective was to determine whether oral FA + vitamin B-12 supplementation prevented cognitive decline in a cohort of community-dwelling older adults with elevated psychological distress.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a completely crossed 2 × 2 × 2 factorial design comprising daily oral 400 μg FA + 100 μg vitamin B-12 supplementation (compared with placebo), physical activity promotion, and depression literacy with comparator control interventions for reducing depressive symptoms was conducted in 900 adults aged 60-74 y with elevated psychological distress (Kessler Distress 10-Scale; scores >15). The 2-y intervention was delivered in 10 modules via mail with concurrent telephone tracking calls. Main outcome measures examined change in cognitive functioning at 12 and 24 mo by using the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status-Modified (TICS-M) and the Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone (processing speed); the Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly was administered at 24 mo.
FA + vitamin B-12 improved the TICS-M total (P = 0.032; effect size d = 0.17), TICS-M immediate (P = 0.046; d = 0.15), and TICS-M delayed recall (P = 0.013; effect size d = 0.18) scores at 24 mo in comparison with placebo. No significant changes were evident in orientation, attention, semantic memory, processing speed, or informant reports.
Long-term supplementation of daily oral 400 μg FA + 100 μg vitamin B-12 promotes improvement in cognitive functioning after 24 mo, particularly in immediate and delayed memory performance. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00214682.
Preview · Article · Dec 2011 · American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is little published on provider continuity in Australian general practice and none on its effect on inequality of care for children.
Questionnaire administered to parents of the ACT Kindergarten Health Screen asking the name of their child's usual GP and practice address between 2001 and 2008.
Parents of 30,789 children named 433 GPs and 141 practices. In each year, an average of 77% of parents could name both the GP and the practice, an average of 11% of parents could name only the practice, and an average of 12% of parents could name neither. In each year, 25% of parents could not name a usual GP for children of Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander descent, or children born outside of Australia, compared to 10% of all other children (p = < 0.0001). The frequency of GPs displaying continuity of care varied over time with 19% of GPs being present in the ACT in only one year and 39% of GPs being present in every year over the eight years of study. GPs displayed two different forms of transience either by working in more than one practice in each year (5% of GPs), or by not being present in the ACT region from one year to the next (15% of GPs). Fewer parents nominated transient GPs as their child's GP compared to choosing GPs who displayed continuity (p < 0.001).
Many GPs (39%) were reported to provide continuity of care for in the ACT region and some GPs (20%) displayed transient care. Indigenous children or children born outside of Australia had less equity of access to a nominated GP than all other children. Such inequity might disappear if voluntary registration of children was adopted in Australian general practice.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2011 · BMC Family Practice
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe how Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) chronic disease (CD) item claims vary by sociodemographic and health characteristics in people with heart disease, asthma or diabetes.
A cross-sectional analysis of linked unit-level MBS and survey data from the first 102,934 participants enrolled in the 45 and Up Study, a large-scale cohort study in New South Wales, who completed the baseline survey between January 2006 and July 2008.
Claim for any general practitioner CD item within 18 months before enrolment, ascertained from MBS records.
The proportion of individuals making claims for MBS CD items was 18.5% for asthma, 22.3% for heart disease, and 44.9% for diabetes. Associations between participant characteristics and a claim for a CD item showed similar patterns across the three diseases. For heart disease and asthma, people most likely to claim a CD item were women, older, of low income and education levels, with multiple chronic conditions, fair or poor self-rated health, obesity and low physical activity levels. The pattern of claims was slightly different for participants with diabetes in that there was no significant association with number of chronic conditions, smoking or physical activity.
Many individuals with self-reported CD do not claim CD items. People with diabetes and individuals with greatest need based on health, socioeconomic and lifestyle risk factors are the most likely to claim CD items.
No preview · Article · Aug 2011 · The Medical journal of Australia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigates health professionals' reactions to patients' perceptions of health issues - a little-researched topic vital to the reform of the care of chronic illness.
Focus groups were undertaken with doctors, nurses, allied health staff and pharmacists (n = 88) in two Australian urban regions. The focus groups explored responses to patient experiences of chronic illness (COPD, Diabetes, CHF) obtained in an earlier qualitative study. Content analysis was undertaken of the transcripts assisted by NVivo7 software.
Health professionals and patients agreed on general themes: that competing demands in self-management, financial pressure and co-morbidity were problems for people with chronic illness. However where patients and carers focused on their personal challenges, health professionals often saw the patient experience as a series of failures relating to compliance or service fragmentation. Some saw this as a result of individual shortcomings. Most identified structural and attitudinal issues. All saw the prime solution as additional resources for their own activities. Fee for service providers (mainly doctors) sought increased remuneration; salaried professionals (mainly nurses and allied health professionals) sought to increase capacity within their professional group.
Professionals focus on their own resources and the behaviour of other professionals to improve management of chronic illness. They did not factor information from patient experience into their views about systems improvement. This inability to identify solutions beyond their professional sphere highlights the limitations of an over-reliance on the perspectives of health professionals. The views of patients and carers must find a stronger voice in health policy.
No preview · Article · Mar 2011 · Health expectations: an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Across the globe the emphasis on roles and responsibilities of primary care teams is under scrutiny. This paper begins with a review of general practice financing in Australia, and how nurses are currently funded. We then examine the influence on funding structures on the role of the nurse. We set out three dilemmas for policy-makers in this area: lack of an evidence base for incentives, possible untoward impacts on interdisciplinary functioning, and the substitution/enhancement debate.
This three year, multimethod study undertook rapid appraisal of 25 general practices and year-long studies in seven practices where a change was introduced to the role of the nurse. Data collected included interviews with nurses (n = 36), doctors (n = 24), and managers (n = 22), structured observation of the practice nurse (51 hours of observation), and detailed case studies of the change process in the seven year-long studies.
Despite specific fee-for-service funding being available, only 6% of nurse activities generated such a fee. Yet the influence of the funding was to focus nurse activity on areas that they perceived were peripheral to their roles within the practice.
Interprofessional relationships and organisational climate in general practices are highly influential in terms of nursing role and the ability of practices to respond to and utilise funding mechanisms. These factors need to be considered, and the development of optimal teamwork supported in the design and implementation of further initiatives that financially support nursing in general practice.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · BMC Health Services Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Five years ago Australia, and the world, placed itself on heightened alert for pandemic influenza, based on concerns about the potential spread of the avian influenza virus. This prompted a flurry of preparation activity involving general practice, with information from various sources; government, colleges and divisions of general practice.
To assess how general practitioners and practice nurses perceive this information, practice nurses and general practitioners were interviewed as part of a larger project exploring the role of the Australian general practice sector in an influenza pandemic. Results were validated by two focus groups and scenario sessions.
Participants perceived that non-government organisations rarely gave useful information during a pandemic outbreak. Local divisions were perceived as having a practical and useful role, providing hands-on support to practices during a pandemic outbreak. Our participants did not perceive any coordination in the delivery of information sent by all the organisations involved in a pandemic response and therefore rejected our second hypothesis.
More planning needs to go into the coordinated response of the general practice sector to a pandemic, and such a response should include the support of local Divisions, both as a conduit for information and to assist practices to develop response plans.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2011 · Australian health review: a publication of the Australian Hospital Association
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To review the literature on different models of clinical governance and to explore their relevance to Australian primary health care, and their potential contributions on quality and safety.
25 electronic databases, scanning reference lists of articles and consultation with experts in the field. We searched publications in English after 1999, but a search of the German language literature for a specific model type was also undertaken. The grey literature was explored through a hand search of the medical trade press and websites of relevant national and international clearing houses and professional or industry bodies. 11 software packages commonly used in Australian general practice were reviewed for any potential contribution to clinical governance.
19 high-quality studies that assessed outcomes were included.
All abstracts were screened by one researcher, and 10% were screened by a second researcher to crosscheck screening quality. Studies were reviewed and coded by four reviewers, with all studies being rated using standard critical appraisal tools such as the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology checklist. Two researchers reviewed the Australian general practice software. Interviews were conducted with 16 informants representing service, regional primary health care, national and international perspectives.
Most evidence supports governance models which use targeted, peer-led feedback on the clinician's own practice. Strategies most used in clinical governance models were audit, performance against indicators, and peer-led reflection on evidence or performance.
The evidence base for clinical governance is fragmented, and focuses mainly on process rather than outcomes. Few publications address models that enhance safety, efficiency, sustainability and the economics of primary health care. Locally relevant clinical indicators, the use of computerised medical record systems, regional primary health care organisations that have the capacity to support the uptake of clinical governance at the practice level, and learning from the Aboriginal community-controlled sector will help integrate clinical governance into primary care.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · The Medical journal of Australia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe the health service attendance patterns of urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Aboriginal) Australians and make comparisons with those of the general Australian population.
General practitioner-completed survey of all attendances over two separate 2-week periods in 2006 at an urban Aboriginal health service in Canberra, which provides services for about 3500 patients per annum.
Standardised attendance ratios (SARs) for a range of health problems, using patients attending Australian general practice for the same reasons as the reference population.
Patients attending the Aboriginal health service were significantly younger than the Australian general practice patient reference population. The most common conditions managed were psychological, encompassing substance misuse; psychological problems accounted for 24% of all attendances. Patients attending the Aboriginal health service had higher rates of attendance for psychological conditions (SAR, 2.14; 95% CI, 2.01-2.28), endocrine conditions (SAR, 2.44; 95% CI, 2.29-2.60) and neurological conditions (SAR, 2.90; 95% CI, 2.71-3.09), as well as for circulatory, digestive and male and female genital conditions, than the reference population. Patients attending the Aboriginal health service had significantly lower attendance rates than the Australian population for respiratory illnesses, and conditions related to eyes or ears.
At this urban Aboriginal health service, attendance patterns reflected complex health care needs that are different from those expected of a population of this age. Urban Aboriginal health service attendance appears to reflect significant ill health among the patients, aligning more with Aboriginal health statistics nationally rather than health statistics for urban non-Aboriginal Australians.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2010 · The Medical journal of Australia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The increasing prevalence of chronic disease is a driver of health system reform in most economically advanced nations. A consistent theme within these reforms is building greater patient-centredness into the health care delivery. This study aims to develop an in-depth understanding of the experience of patients and family carers affected by chronic illness that will be the basis on which to propose policy and health system interventions that are patient-centred. Participants struggled with the ongoing tasks of balancing their lives with the increasing demands and intrusion of chronic illness. Their attempts to achieve a balance were seriously hampered by fragmented services, complexity in navigating health services, relationships with health professionals and others, and co-morbidity. Future policy directions include designing models of care and infrastructure that enable patients and their family carers to balance life and illness, and aligning patient-centred care not only within health services but also with community and social support services.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2010 · Australian Journal of Primary Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe and compare how men and health professionals perceive men's health and health care.
A qualitative study with an inductive thematic analysis of transcripts from three sequential sets of focus groups. The first set included groups totalling 21 general practitioners and 10 practice nurses; the second set with a group of 12 men under 25 years and a group of 10 older men over 35 years; and the third set with the original groups of health professionals. Datasets were analysed individually, sequentially and comparatively for men's and health professionals' beliefs about health and health care.
In the initial focus groups, health professionals reported system, structural, and attitudinal barriers inhibiting men attending general practice. Men reported broad-based health beliefs and, despite reluctance to seek formal health care, men value general practice care and want recognition of their preferred consulting styles. In the final focus groups, researchers fed-back analysis of the health professionals' and men's focus group data with the aim of encouraging further focussed men's health initiatives. However, there was a general lack of enthusiasm from health professionals to do more than what was being done already.
Despite men and health professionals recognising the importance of men's health, there is general unwillingness on the part of both men and health professionals, for different reasons, to engage with men's health care in general practice. Understanding how men view health and health care delivery has the potential to inform alternative approaches in general practice care.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Journal of primary health care
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In response to the escalating burden of chronic illness in Australia, recent health policies have emphasised the promotion of patient self-management and better preventive care. A notable omission from these policies is the acknowledgment that patients with chronic illness tend to have co-morbid conditions. Our objectives were: to identify the common challenges co-morbidity poses to patients and carers in their experiences of self-management; to detail the views and perceptions of health professionals about these challenges; and to discuss policy options to improve health care for people with co-morbid chronic illness. The method included semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 129 purposively sampled participants. Participants were people with Type 2 diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or chronic heart failure as well as carers and health care professionals. Content analysis of the interview data was conducted using NVivo7 software.
Patients and their carers found co-morbidity influenced their capacity to manage chronic illness in three ways. First, co-morbidity created barriers to patients acting on risk factors; second, it complicated the process of recognising the early symptoms of deterioration of each condition, and third, it complicated their capacity to manage medication.
Findings highlight challenges that patients with multiple chronic conditions face in relation to preventive care and self-management. Future clinical policy initiatives need to move away from single illness orientation toward strategies that meet the needs of people with co-morbid conditions and strengthen their capacity to self-manage. These patients will benefit directly from specialised education and services that cater to the needs of people with clusters of co-morbidities.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2009 · Australia and New Zealand Health Policy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Care plans are a decade-old program for coordinating care of patients with chronic illness. The program currently involves Team Care Arrangements (TCAs), which require all providers to agree on all management decisions contained in the plan. By contrast, conventional referral processes leave it to providers to exercise their judgement about the other providers to be involved. TCA requirements make coordination unwieldy and lack an evidentiary basis. More importantly, although care plans were introduced to encourage general practitioners to shift from an episodic to a global approach, they do not necessarily do this. The care plan objective would be better served by the development of comprehensive patient summaries.
Preview · Article · Aug 2009 · The Medical journal of Australia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To describe the evolving roles of practice nurses in Australia and the impact of nurses on general practice function.
Multimethod research in two substudies: (a) a rapid appraisal based on observation, photographs of workspaces, and interviews with nurses, doctors and managers in 25 practices in Victoria and New South Wales, conducted between September 2005 and March 2006; and (b) naturalistic longitudinal case studies of introduced change in seven practices in Victoria, NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia, conducted between January 2007 and March 2008.
We identified six roles of nurses in general practice: patient carer, organiser, quality controller, problem solver, educator and agent of connectivity. Although the first three roles are appreciated as nursing strengths by both nurses and doctors, doctors tended not to recognise nurses' educator and problem solver roles within the practice. Only 21% of the clinical activities undertaken by nurses were directly funded through Medicare. The role of the nurse as an agent of connectivity, uniting the different workers within the practice organisation, is particularly notable in small and medium-sized practices, and may be a key determinant of organisational resilience.
Nursing roles may be enhanced through progressive broadening of the scope of the patient care role, fostering the nurse educator role, and addressing barriers to role enhancement, such as organisational inexperience with interprofessional work and lack of a career structure. In adjusting the funding structure for nurses, care should be taken not to create perverse incentives to limit nurses' clinical capacity or undermine the flexibility that gives practice nursing much of its value for nurses and practices.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · The Medical journal of Australia