General Practice - Research Publications

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    Misconceptions and the Acceptance of Evidence-based Nonsurgical Interventions for Knee Osteoarthritis. A Qualitative Study
    Bunzli, S ; O'Brien, P ; Ayton, D ; Dowsey, M ; Gunn, J ; Choong, P ; Manski-Nankervis, J-A (LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS, 2019-09-01)
    BACKGROUND: In contrast to best practice guidelines for knee osteoarthritis (OA), findings from several different healthcare settings have identified that nonsurgical treatments are underused and TKA is overused. Empirical evidence and qualitative observations suggest that patients' willingness to accept nonsurgical interventions for knee OA is low. A qualitative investigation of why patients may feel that such interventions are of little value may be an important step toward increasing their use in the treatment of knee OA QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: This qualitative study was embedded in a larger study investigating patient-related factors (beliefs/attitudes toward knee OA and its treatment) and health-system related factors (access, referral pathways) known to influence patients' decisions to seek medical care. In this paper we focus on the patient-related factors with the aim of exploring why patients may feel that nonsurgical interventions are of little value in the treatment of knee OA. METHODS: A cross-sectional qualitative study was conducted in a single tertiary hospital in Australia. Patients with endstage knee OA on the waiting list for TKA were approached during their preadmission appointment and invited to participate in one-to-one interviews. As prescribed by the qualitative approach, data collection and data analysis were performed in parallel and recruitment continued until the authors agreed that the themes identified would not change through interviews with subsequent participants, at which point, recruitment stopped. Thirty-seven patients were approached and 27 participated. Participants were 48% female; mean age was 67 years. Participants' beliefs about knee OA and its treatment were identified in the interview transcripts. Beliefs were grouped into five belief dimensions: identity beliefs (what knee OA is), causal beliefs (what causes knee OA), consequence beliefs (what the consequences of knee OA are), timeline beliefs (how long knee OA lasts) and treatment beliefs (how knee OA can be controlled). RESULTS: All participants believed that their knee OA was "bone on bone" (identity beliefs) and most (> 14 participants) believed it was caused by "wear and tear" (causal beliefs). Most (> 14 participants) believed that loading the knee could further damage their "vulnerable" joint (consequence beliefs) and all believed that their pain would deteriorate over time (timeline beliefs). Many (>20 participants) believed that physiotherapy and exercise interventions would increase pain and could not replace lost knee cartilage. They preferred experimental and surgical treatments which they believed would replace lost cartilage and cure their knee pain (treatment beliefs). CONCLUSIONS: Common misconceptions about knee OA appear to influence patients' acceptance of nonsurgical, evidence-based treatments such as exercise and weight loss. Once the participants in this study had been "diagnosed" with "bone-on-bone" changes, many disregarded exercise-based interventions which they believed would damage their joint, in favor of alternative and experimental treatments, which they believed would regenerate lost knee cartilage. Future research involving larger, more representative samples are needed to understand how widespread these beliefs are and if/how they influence treatment decisions. In the meantime, clinicians seeking to encourage acceptance of nonsurgical interventions may consider exploring and targeting misconceptions that patients hold about the identity, causes, consequences, timeline, and treatment of knee OA. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level II, prognostic study.
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    Exploring comorbid depression and physical health trajectories: A case-based computational modelling approach
    Castellani, B ; Griffiths, F ; Rajaram, R ; Gunn, J (WILEY, 2018-12-01)
    While comorbid depression/physical health is a major clinical concern, the conventional methods of medicine make it difficult to model the complexities of this relationship. Such challenges include cataloguing multiple trends, developing multiple complex aetiological explanations, and modelling the collective large-scale dynamics of these trends. Using a case-based complexity approach, this study engaged in a richly described case study to demonstrate the utility of computational modelling for primary care research. N = 259 people were subsampled from the Diamond database, one of the largest primary care depression cohort studies worldwide. A global measure of depressive symptoms (PHQ-9) and physical health (PCS-12) were assessed at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months and then annually for a total of 7 years. Eleven trajectories and 2 large-scale collective dynamics were identified, revealing that while depression is comorbid with poor physical health, chronic illness is often low dynamic and not always linked to depression. Also, some of the cases in the unhealthy and oscillator trends remain ill without much chance of improvement. Finally, childhood abuse, partner violence, and negative life events are greater amongst unhealthy trends. Computational modelling offers a major advance for health researchers to account for the diversity of primary care patients and for developing better prognostic models for team-based interdisciplinary care.
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    Chlamydia trachomatis Incidence and Re-Infection among Young Women - Behavioural and Microbiological Characteristics
    Walker, J ; Tabrizi, SN ; Fairley, CK ; Chen, MY ; Bradshaw, CS ; Twin, J ; Taylor, N ; Donovan, B ; Kaldor, JM ; McNamee, K ; Urban, E ; Walker, S ; Currie, M ; Birden, H ; Bowden, F ; Gunn, J ; Pirotta, M ; Gurrin, L ; Harindra, V ; Garland, SM ; Hocking, JS ; Ojcius, DM (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-05-25)
    BACKGROUND: This study aimed to estimate rates of chlamydia incidence and re-infection and to investigate the dynamics of chlamydia organism load in prevalent, incident and re-infections among young Australian women. METHODS: 1,116 women aged 16 to 25 years were recruited from primary care clinics in Australia. Vaginal swabs were collected at 3 to 6 month intervals for chlamydia testing. Chlamydia organism load was measured by quantitative PCR. RESULTS: There were 47 incident cases of chlamydia diagnosed and 1,056.34 person years of follow up with a rate of 4.4 per 100 person years (95% CI: 3.3, 5.9). Incident infection was associated with being aged 16 to 20 years [RR = 3.7 (95%CI: 1.9, 7.1)], being employed [RR = 2.4 (95%CI: 1.1, 4.9)] and having two or more new sex partners [RR = 5.5 (95%CI: 2.6, 11.7)]. Recent antibiotic use was associated with a reduced incidence [RR:0.1 (95%CI: 0.0, 0.5)]. There were 14 re-infections with a rate of 22.3 per 100 person years (95%CI: 13.2, 37.6). The median time to re-infection was 4.6 months. Organism load was higher for prevalent than incident infections (p<0.01) and for prevalent than re-infections (p<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: Chlamydia is common among young women and a high proportion of women are re-infected within a short period of time, highlighting the need for effective partner treatment and repeat testing. The difference in organism load between prevalent and incident infections suggests prevalent infection may be more important for ongoing transmission of chlamydia.
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    A shared-care model of obesity treatment for 3-10 year old children: Protocol for the HopSCOTCH randomised controlled trial
    Wake, M ; Lycett, K ; Sabin, MA ; Gunn, J ; Gibbons, K ; Hutton, C ; McCallum, Z ; York, E ; Stringer, M ; Wittert, G (BMC, 2012-03-28)
    BACKGROUND: Despite record rates of childhood obesity, effective evidence-based treatments remain elusive. While prolonged tertiary specialist clinical input has some individual impact, these services are only available to very few children. Effective treatments that are easily accessible for all overweight and obese children in the community are urgently required. General practitioners are logical care providers for obese children but high-quality trials indicate that, even with substantial training and support, general practitioner care alone will not suffice to improve body mass index (BMI) trajectories. HopSCOTCH (the Shared Care Obesity Trial in Children) will determine whether a shared-care model, in which paediatric obesity specialists co-manage obesity with general practitioners, can improve adiposity in obese children. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial nested within a cross-sectional BMI survey conducted across 22 general practices in Melbourne, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: Children aged 3-10 years identified as obese by Centers for Disease Control criteria at their family practice, and randomised to either a shared-care intervention or usual care. INTERVENTION: A single multidisciplinary obesity clinic appointment at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, followed by regular appointments with the child's general practitioner over a 12 month period. To support both specialist and general practice consultations, web-based shared-care software was developed to record assessment, set goals and actions, provide information to caregivers, facilitate communication between the two professional groups, and jointly track progress. OUTCOMES: Primary - change in BMI z-score. Secondary - change in percentage fat and waist circumference; health status, body satisfaction and global self-worth. DISCUSSION: This will be the first efficacy trial of a general-practitioner based, shared-care model of childhood obesity management. If effective, it could greatly improve access to care for obese children. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12608000055303.
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    The association between intimate partner violence, alcohol and depression in family practice
    Gilchrist, G ; Hegarty, K ; Chondros, P ; Herrman, H ; Gunn, J (BMC, 2010-09-27)
    BACKGROUND: Depressive symptoms, intimate partner violence and hazardous drinking are common among patients attending general practice. Despite the high prevalence of these three problems; the relationship between them remains relatively unexplored. METHODS: This paper explores the association between depressive symptoms, ever being afraid of a partner and hazardous drinking using cross-sectional screening data from 7667 randomly selected patients from a large primary care cohort study of 30 metropolitan and rural general practices in Victoria, Australia. The screening postal survey included the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, the Fast Alcohol Screening Test and a screening question from the Composite Abuse Scale on ever being afraid of any intimate partner. RESULTS: 23.9% met criteria for depressive symptoms. A higher proportion of females than males (20.8% vs. 7.6%) reported ever being afraid of a partner during their lifetime (OR 3.2, 95%CI 2.5 to 4.0) and a lower proportion of females (12%) than males (25%) were hazardous drinkers (OR 0.4; 95%CI 0.4 to 0.5); and a higher proportion of females than males (20.8% vs. 7.6%) reported ever being afraid of a partner during their lifetime (OR 3.2, 95%CI 2.5 to 4.0). Men and women who had ever been afraid of a partner or who were hazardous drinkers had on average higher depressive symptom scores than those who had never been afraid or who were not hazardous drinkers. There was a stronger association between depressive symptoms and ever been afraid of a partner compared to hazardous drinking for both males (ever afraid of partner; Diff 6.87; 95% CI 5.42, 8.33; p < 0.001 vs. hazardous drinking in last year; Diff 1.07, 95% CI 0.21, 1.94; p = 0.015) and females (ever afraid of partner; Diff 5.26; 95% CI 4.55, 5.97; p < 0.001 vs. hazardous drinking in last year; Diff 2.23, 95% CI 1.35, 3.11; p < 0.001), even after adjusting for age group, income, employment status, marital status, living alone and education level. CONCLUSIONS: Strategies to assist primary care doctors to recognise and manage intimate partner violence and hazardous drinking in patients with depression may lead to better outcomes from management of depression in primary care.
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    'The difference in determinants of Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycoplasma genitalium in a sample of young Australian women'
    Walker, J ; Fairley, CK ; Bradshaw, CS ; Tabrizi, SN ; Chen, MY ; Twin, J ; Taylor, N ; Donovan, B ; Kaldor, JK ; McNamee, K ; Urban, E ; Walker, S ; Currie, M ; Birden, H ; Bowden, F ; Gunn, J ; Pirotta, M ; Gurrin, L ; Harindra, V ; Garland, S ; Hocking, JS (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2011-02-01)
    BACKGROUND: Differences in the determinants of Chlamydia trachomatis ('chlamydia') and Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) genital infection in women are not well understood. METHODS: A cohort study of 16 to 25 year old Australian women recruited from primary health care clinics, aimed to determine chlamydia and MG prevalence and incidence. Vaginal swabs collected at recruitment were used to measure chlamydia and MG prevalence, organism-load and chlamydia-serovar a cross-sectional analysis undertaken on the baseline results is presented here. RESULTS: Of 1116 participants, chlamydia prevalence was 4.9% (95% CI: 2.9, 7.0) (n = 55) and MG prevalence was 2.4% (95% CI: 1.5, 3.3) (n = 27). Differences in the determinants were found - chlamydia not MG, was associated with younger age [AOR:0.9 (95% CI: 0.8, 1.0)] and recent antibiotic use [AOR:0.4 (95% CI: 0.2, 1.0)], and MG not chlamydia was associated with symptoms [AOR:2.1 (95% CI: 1.1, 4.0)]. Having two or more partners in last 12 months was more strongly associated with chlamydia [AOR:6.4 (95% CI: 3.6, 11.3)] than MG [AOR:2.2 (95% CI: 1.0, 4.6)] but unprotected sex with three or more partners was less strongly associated with chlamydia [AOR:3.1 (95%CI: 1.0, 9.5)] than MG [AOR:16.6 (95%CI: 2.0, 138.0)]. Median organism load for MG was 100 times lower (5.7 × 104/swab) than chlamydia (5.6 × 106/swab) (p < 0.01) and not associated with age or symptoms for chlamydia or MG. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate significant chlamydia and MG prevalence in Australian women, and suggest that the differences in strengths of association between numbers of sexual partners and unprotected sex and chlamydia and MG might be due to differences in the transmission dynamics between these infections.
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    Maximising retention in a longitudinal study of genital Chlamydia trachomatis among young women in Australia
    Walker, J ; Fairley, CK ; Urban, E ; Chen, MY ; Bradshaw, C ; Walker, SM ; Donovan, B ; Tabrizi, SN ; McNamee, K ; Currie, M ; Pirotta, M ; Kaldor, J ; Gurrin, LC ; Birden, H ; Harindra, V ; Bowden, FJ ; Garland, S ; Gunn, JM ; Hocking, JS (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2011-03-09)
    BACKGROUND: Cohort studies are an important study design however they are difficult to implement, often suffer from poor retention, low participation and bias. The aims of this paper are to describe the methods used to recruit and retain young women in a longitudinal study and to explore factors associated with loss to follow up. METHODS: The Chlamydia Incidence and Re-infection Rates Study (CIRIS) was a longitudinal study of Australian women aged 16 to 25 years recruited from primary health care clinics. They were followed up via the post at three-monthly intervals and required to return questionnaires and self collected vaginal swabs for chlamydia testing. The protocol was designed to maximise retention in the study and included using recruiting staff independent of the clinic staff, recruiting in private, regular communication with study staff, making the follow up as straightforward as possible and providing incentives and small gifts to engender good will. RESULTS: The study recruited 66% of eligible women. Despite the nature of the study (sexual health) and the mobility of the women (35% moved address at least once), 79% of the women completed the final stage of the study after 12 months. Loss to follow up bias was associated with lower education level [adjusted hazard ratio (AHR): 0.7 (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.5, 1.0)], recruitment from a sexual health centre as opposed to a general practice clinic [AHR: 1.6 (95% CI: 1.0, 2.7)] and previously testing positive for chlamydia [AHR: 0.8 (95% CI: 0.5, 1.0)]. No other factors such as age, numbers of sexual partners were associated with loss to follow up. CONCLUSIONS: The methods used were considered effective for recruiting and retaining women in the study. Further research is needed to improve participation from less well-educated women.
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    Women's evaluation of abuse and violence care in general practice: a cluster randomised controlled trial (weave)
    Hegarty, KL ; Gunn, JM ; O'Doherty, LJ ; Taft, A ; Chondros, P ; Feder, G ; Astbury, J ; Brown, S (BMC, 2010-01-02)
    BACKGROUND: Intimate partner abuse (IPA) is a major public health problem with serious implications for the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of women, particularly women of child-bearing age. It is a common, hidden problem in general practice and has been under-researched in this setting. Opportunities for early intervention and support in primary care need to be investigated given the frequency of contact women have with general practice. Despite the high prevalence and health consequences of abuse, there is insufficient evidence for screening in primary care settings. Furthermore, there is little rigorous evidence to guide general practitioners (GPs) in responding to women identified as experiencing partner abuse. This paper describes the design of a trial of a general practice-based intervention consisting of screening for fear of partner with feedback to GPs, training for GPs, brief counselling for women and minimal practice organisational change. It examines the effect on women's quality of life, mental health and safety behaviours. METHODS/DESIGN: weave is a cluster randomised controlled trial involving 40 general practices in Victoria, Australia. Approximately 500 women (16-50 years) seen by the GP in the previous year are mailed a short lifestyle survey containing an item to screen for IPA. Women who indicate that they were afraid of a partner/ex-partner in the last year and provide contact details are invited to participate. Once baseline data are collected, GPs are randomly assigned to either a group involving healthy relationship and responding to IPA training plus inviting women for up to 6 sessions of counselling or to a group involving basic education and usual care for women. Outcomes will be evaluated by postal survey at 6 and 12 months following delivery of the intervention. There will be an economic evaluation, and process evaluation involving interviews with women and GPs, to inform understanding about implementation and outcomes. DISCUSSION: The weave trial responds to an urgent need for more evidence on what can be achieved in primary care with regard to responding to women who experience IPA. It will provide important knowledge about the effectiveness of a brief method of screening, professional IPA training program and brief counselling for women. TRIAL REGISTRATION: [ACTRN12608000032358].
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    The challenges of real-world implementation of web-based shared care software: the HopSCOTCH Shared-Care Obesity Trial in Children
    Lycett, K ; Wittert, G ; Gunn, J ; Hutton, C ; Clifford, SA ; Wake, M (BMC, 2014-07-24)
    BACKGROUND: E-health initiatives hold promise to improve shared-care models of health care. In 2008-2011 we developed and trialled web-based software to facilitate a randomised trial of a shared-care approach for childhood obesity involving General Practitioners (GPs) working with tertiary specialists. We describe the software's development, implementation and evaluation, and make recommendations for future e-health initiatives. The web-based software was designed with the goals of allowing both GPs and specialists to communicate and review patient progress; integrating with existing GP software; and supporting GPs to deliver the structured intervention. Specifically, we aimed to highlight the challenges inherent in this process, and report on the extent to which the software ultimately met its implementation and user aims. METHODS: The study was conducted at the Royal Children's Hospital and 22 general practices across Melbourne, Australia. Participants comprised 30 GPs delivering the shared-care intervention. Outcomes included the following. (1) GPs' pre-specified software requirements: transcribed from two focus groups and analysed for themes using content analysis. (2) Software implementation and performance based on the experience of the research team and GPs. (3) GP users' evaluation collected via questionnaire. (4) Software usage collected via GP questionnaire and qualified through visual inspection of the software meta-data. RESULTS: Software implementation posed difficult and at times disabling technological barriers (e.g. out-dated hardware, poor internet connections). The software's speed and inability to seamlessly link with day-to-day software was a source of considerable frustration. Overall, GPs rated software usability as poor, although most (68%) felt that the structure and functionality of the software was useful. Recommendations for future e-health initiatives include thorough scoping of IT systems and server speed, testing across diverse environments, automated pre-requisite checks and upgrades of processors/memory where necessary, and user-created usernames and passwords. CONCLUSIONS: GPs are willing to embrace novel technologies to support their practice. However, implementation remains challenging mainly for technical reasons, and this precludes further evaluation of potential user-specific barriers. These findings could inform future e-health ventures into shared-care, and highlight the need for an appropriate infrastructure. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: ACTRN126080000553.
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    Interprofessional teamwork innovations for primary health care practices and practitioners: evidence from a comparison of reform in three countries
    Harris, MF ; Advocat, J ; Crabtree, BF ; Levesque, J-F ; Miller, WL ; Gunn, JM ; Hogg, W ; Scott, CM ; Chase, SM ; Halma, L ; Russell, GM (DOVE MEDICAL PRESS LTD, 2016-01-01)
    CONTEXT: A key aim of reforms to primary health care (PHC) in many countries has been to enhance interprofessional teamwork. However, the impact of these changes on practitioners has not been well understood. OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of reform policies and interventions that have aimed to create or enhance teamwork on professional communication relationships, roles, and work satisfaction in PHC practices. DESIGN: Collaborative synthesis of 12 mixed methods studies. SETTING: Primary care practices undergoing transformational change in three countries: Australia, Canada, and the USA, including three Canadian provinces (Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec). METHODS: We conducted a synthesis and secondary analysis of 12 qualitative and quantitative studies conducted by the authors in order to understand the impacts and how they were influenced by local context. RESULTS: There was a diverse range of complex reforms seeking to foster interprofessional teamwork in the care of patients with chronic disease. The impact on communication and relationships between different professional groups, the roles of nursing and allied health services, and the expressed satisfaction of PHC providers with their work varied more within than between jurisdictions. These variations were associated with local contextual factors such as the size, power dynamics, leadership, and physical environment of the practice. Unintended consequences included deterioration of the work satisfaction of some team members and conflict between medical and nonmedical professional groups. CONCLUSION: The variation in impacts can be understood to have arisen from the complexity of interprofessional dynamics at the practice level. The same characteristic could have both positive and negative influence on different aspects (eg, larger practice may have less capacity for adoption but more capacity to support interprofessional practice). Thus, the impacts are not entirely predictable and need to be monitored, and so that interventions can be adapted at the local level.