General Practice - Research Publications

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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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    St John's wort use in Australian general practice patients with depressive symptoms: their characteristics and use of other health services
    Pirotta, M ; Densley, K ; Forsdike, K ; Carter, M ; Gunn, J (BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2014-06-26)
    BACKGROUND: While depression is frequently managed by general practitioners, often patients self-manage these symptoms with alternative therapies, including St John's wort (SJW). We tested whether use of SJW was associated with different patterns of conventional and complementary health service use, strategies used for management of depression, or user dissatisfaction with or lack of trust in their general practitioner or clinic overall. METHODS: Secondary analysis of data collected from an Australian population screened for a longitudinal cohort study of depression. Main outcome measures were CES-D for depressive symptoms, satisfaction with their general practitioner (GPAQ), Trust in Physician scale, self-report of health services usage and strategies used to manage depression, stress or worries. RESULTS: Response rate was 7667/17,780 (43.1%). Of these, 4.3% (320/7,432) had used SJW in the past 12 months (recent 'SJW users'). SJW users were significantly more likely to be depressed and to have a higher CES-D score. There were no statistically significant differences between recent SJW users and non-SJW users in satisfaction with their general practice or in trust in their general practitioner (GP) when adjusted for multiple factors. SJW users were significantly more likely to use all health services, whether conventional or complementary, as well as other strategies used for mental health care. SJW users were also more likely to consider themselves the main carer for their depression. CONCLUSIONS: Primary care attendees with symptoms of depression who use SJW appear not to be rejecting conventional medicine. Rather, they may be proactive care seekers who try both conventional and complementary strategies to manage their depressive symptoms. If GPs enquire and find that their depressed patients are using SJW, this may indicate that they might explore for unrelieved symptoms of depression and also consider the issue of potential for interactions between SJW and other medicines.
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    Improving Population-Level Maternal Health: A Hard Nut to Crack? Long Term Findings and Reflections on a 16-Community Randomised Trial in Australia to Improve Maternal Emotional and Physical Health after Birth [ISRCTN03464021]
    Small, R ; Watson, L ; Gunn, J ; Mitchell, C ; Brown, S ; Coyne, J (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2014-02-28)
    BACKGROUND: Community level interventions to improve maternal and child health have been supported and well evaluated in resource poor settings, but less so in developed countries. PRISM--Program of Resources, Information and Support for Mothers--was a primary care and community-based cluster-randomised trial in sixteen municipalities in Victoria, Australia, which aimed to reduce depression in mothers and improve their physical health. The aim of this paper is to report the longer term outcomes of PRISM and to reflect on lessons learned from this universal community intervention to improve maternal health. METHODS: Maternal health outcome data in PRISM were collected by postal questionnaire at six months and two years. At two years, the main outcome measures included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and the SF-36. Secondary outcome measures included the Experience of Motherhood Scale (EOM) and the Parenting Stress Index (PSI). A primary intention to treat analysis was conducted, adjusting for the randomisation by cluster. RESULTS: 7,169/18,424 (39%) women responded to the postal questionnaire at two years -3,894 (40%) in the intervention arm and 3,275 (38%) in the comparison arm. Respondents were mostly representative on available population data comparisons. There were no differences in depression prevalence (EPDS≥13) between the intervention and comparison arms (13.4% vs 13.1%; ORadj = 1.06, 95%CI 0.91-1.24). Nor did women's mental health (MCS: 48.6 vs 49.1) or physical health scores (PCS: 49.1 vs 49.0) on the SF-36 differ between the trial arms. CONCLUSION: Improvement in maternal mental and physical health outcomes at the population level in the early years after childbirth remains a largely unmet challenge. Despite the lack of effectiveness of PRISM intervention strategies, important lessons about systems change, sustained investment and contextual understanding of the workability of intervention strategies can be drawn from the experience of PRISM. Trial Registration. Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN03464021.
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    Selecting those to refer for joint replacement: Who will likely benefit and who will not?
    Dowsey, MM ; Gunn, J ; Choong, PFM (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2014-02-01)
    Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the 10 most disabling diseases in developed countries and worldwide estimates are that 10% of men and 18% of women aged over 60 years have symptomatic OA, including moderate and severe forms. Total joint replacement (TJR) is considered the most effective treatment for end-stage OA in those who have exhausted available conservative interventions. The demand for TJR is continually rising due to the ageing population; in the United States, more than 1 million TJRs were performed in 2010 and the number of procedures is projected to exceed 4 million in the US by 2030. It has been estimated that of all hip and knee replacements performed, approximately one quarter of the patients may be considered inappropriate candidates. Predicting who will benefit from TJR and who will not would seem critical in terms of containing the current and projected expenditure as well as improving satisfaction in TJR recipients. Few formal predictive tools are available to aid referring clinicians to determine those likely to be good or poor responders to surgery and current available tools tend to focus on disease severity alone with little consideration of risk factors that may predict a poor outcome or impede an effective response to surgery. This review examines the tools available to assist with assessing appropriateness for TJR; investigates the modifiable risk factors associated with poor outcome; and identifies areas for future research in selecting those appropriate for joint replacement.
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    Primary care monitoring of depressive symptoms in young people
    Hetrick, S ; Simmons, M ; Sanci, LA ; Gunn, J (ROYAL AUSTRALIAN COLLEGE GENERAL PRACTITIONERS, 2014-03-01)
    BACKGROUND: Monitoring depressive symptoms and suicidality is essential in the management of depression in young people, yet routine monitoring is rare. This qualitative study sought to explore the experiences and beliefs of general practitioners about factors associated with monitoring youth depression in primary care settings. METHODS: Two focus groups with general practitioners (n = 12) were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. A semi-structured interview schedule was used. RESULTS: In the primary care setting, monitoring was perceived as part of a continuum of care that begins with screening and diagnosis and as beneficial mostly in regards to informing treatment planning. Benefits and risks were reported, along with challenges and facilitators. DISCUSSION: Monitoring youth depression in primary care settings is perceived as both beneficial and potentially risky. Monitoring tools need to inform treatment planning, be brief and fit within existing electronic software used by general practitioners.
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    Characteristics of People Who Use Telephone Counseling: Findings from Secondary Analysis of a Population-Based Study
    Bassilios, B ; Harris, M ; Middleton, A ; Gunn, J ; Pirkis, J (Springer Verlag, 2014-09-19)
    The characteristics of people who use telephone counseling are not well understood. This secondary analysis used data from a nationally representative community survey of 8,841 Australian adults to compare callers and non-callers to telephone counseling services. Callers have a poorer clinical profile, including a higher risk of suicide, than people who do not use telephone counseling. They also use a variety of other mental health services. Repeat calls are associated with anxiety disorders, receipt of mental health care from general practitioners, and social disadvantage. All callers have a potential need for telephone counseling and further population studies that distinguish between telephone services intended to provide crisis (one-off) and ongoing counseling are warranted.
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    Systematic review of research into frequent callers to crisis helplines
    Middleton, A ; Gunn, J ; Bassilios, B ; Pirkis, J (SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD, 2014-03-01)
    We conducted a systematic review of research into callers making multiple calls to crisis helplines. Two databases were searched, identifying 561 articles from 1960 until 2012, of which 63 were relevant. Twenty-one articles from 19 separate studies presented empirical data about callers making multiple calls to crisis helplines. Of the 19 studies, three were intervention studies, five were surveys of callers and 11 were call record audits. Most studies were conducted in the USA and defined frequent callers as people making two or more calls. Frequent callers were more likely to be male and unmarried compared to other callers. There were no reported differences between frequent callers and other callers with regard to age, mental health conditions or suicidality. Three studies tested interventions designed to better manage frequent callers. These studies, even though small, reported reductions in the number of calls made by frequent callers. Suggested techniques for responding to frequent callers included: limiting the number and duration of calls allowed, assigning a specific counsellor, implementing face to face contact, the service initiating contact with the caller instead of waiting for callers to contact the service, providing short term anxiety and depression treatment programmes by telephone, and creating a specific management plan for each frequent caller. Future work requires robust study design methods using larger sample sizes and validated measurements.
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    Improving chlamydia knowledge should lead to increased chlamydia testing among Australian general practitioners: a cross-sectional study of chlamydia testing uptake in general practice
    Yeung, A ; Temple-Smith, M ; Spark, S ; Guy, R ; Fairley, CK ; Law, M ; Wood, A ; Smith, K ; Donovan, B ; Kaldor, J ; Gunn, J ; Pirotta, M ; Carter, R ; Hocking, J (BMC, 2014-11-07)
    BACKGROUND: Female general practitioners (GPs) have higher chlamydia testing rates than male GPs, yet it is unclear whether this is due to lack of knowledge among male GPs or because female GPs consult and test more female patients. METHODS: GPs completed a survey about their demographic details and knowledge about genital chlamydia. Chlamydia testing and consultation data for patients aged 16-29 years were extracted from the medical records software for each GP and linked to their survey responses. Chi-square tests were used to determine differences in a GP's knowledge and demographics. Two multivariable models that adjusted for the gender of the patient were used to investigate associations between a GP and their chlamydia testing rates - Model 1 included GPs' characteristics such as age and gender, Model 2 excluded these characteristics to specifically examine any associations with knowledge. RESULTS: Female GPs were more likely than male GPs to know when to re-test a patient after a negative chlamydia test (18.8% versus 9.7%, p = 0.01), the correct symptoms suggestive of PID (80.5% versus 67.8%, p = 0.01) and the correct tests for diagnosing PID (57.1% versus 42.6%, p = 0.01). Female GPs tested 6.5% of patients, while male GPs tested 2.2% (p < 0.01). Model 1 found factors associated with chlamydia testing were being a female GP (OR = 2.5, 95% CI: 1.9, 3.3) and working in a metropolitan clinic (OR = 3.2; 95% CI: 2.4, 4.3). Model 2 showed that chlamydia testing increased as knowledge of testing guidelines improved (3-5 correct answers - AOR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.0, 4.2; 6+ correct answers - AOR = 2.9, 95% CI: 1.4, 6.2). CONCLUSIONS: Higher rates of chlamydia testing are strongly associated with GPs who are female, based in a metropolitan clinic and among those with more knowledge of the recommended guidelines. Improving chlamydia knowledge among male GPs may increase chlamydia testing.
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    G-protein beta 3 subunit genetic variation moderates five-year depressive symptom trajectories of primary care attendees
    Bousman, CA ; Potiriadis, M ; Everall, IP ; Gunn, JM (ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, 2014-08-20)
    BACKGROUND: Genetic variation in the G-protein β3 subunit (GNB3) has previously been associated with gene splicing that has been further linked to increased signal transduction and major depressive disorder. However, the effect of GNB3 genetic variation on depressive symptom trajectories is currently unknown. The aim of the present study is to examine whether genetic variation in GNB3 moderates depressive symptom trajectories among 301 primary care attendees enrolled in the Diagnosis, Management and Outcomes of Depression in Primary Care (diamond) prospective cohort study. METHODS: Depressive symptoms were assessed using three measures: (1) DSM-IV criteria, (2) Primary Care Evaluation of Mental Disorders Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), and (3) Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD). DSM-IV criteria were measured at baseline, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months post-baseline, whereas, PHQ-9 and CESD measurements were taken at baseline, 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months post-baseline. Two haplotype-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms [rs5443 (C825T) and rs5440] spanning the GNB3 gene including ~1Kb upstream and downstream of the gene boundaries were genotyped. RESULTS: Five-year PHQ-9 and CESD depressive symptom trajectories were moderated by rs5440. Carriers of the rs5440 GG genotype had more favourable depressive symptom trajectories compared to AG or AA genotype carriers. The rs5443 polymorphism did not moderate depressive symptom trajectories, regardless of the measure used. LIMITATIONS: Generalizability to depressed populations outside of the primary care setting may be limited. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide novel evidence suggesting genetic variation in the 5-prime region of GNB3 moderates depressive symptom trajectories among primary care attendees.
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    'Less like a drug than a drug': The use of St John's wort among people who self-identify as having depression and/or anxiety symptoms
    Pirotta, M ; Willis, K ; Carter, M ; Forsdike, K ; Newton, D ; Gunn, J (CHURCHILL LIVINGSTONE, 2014-10-01)
    OBJECTIVE: St John's wort (SJW) is one of the most commonly used complementary medicines (CM) for the self-treatment of depression which can be accessed with or without health professional advice. While there is evidence to support its effectiveness in depression it has potential for serious side effects and interactions with many pharmaceuticals and herbs. Despite the potential risks, we know little about consumer perspectives on the use of SJW. Our research aimed to understand, from their own perspective, how and why people use SJW for management of self-identified 'depression, stress or worries'. DESIGN: A qualitative design, focusing on understanding the reasons for SJW use. A purposive sampling strategy was used to recruit 41 people who self-identified as having used SJW for 'depression stress or worries' from the community in Melbourne, Australia. In-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted. Interviews were taped, transcribed and analysed thematically. RESULTS: Three themes emerged as to why participants used SJW - ease of access of SJW, perceptions of effectiveness and safety of SJW enabling control over its use, and the perceived benefits of using a natural product. Generally, participants did not reserve use of SJW only for mild depressive symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: People use many self-care strategies to manage symptoms of depression, including more severe symptoms. While there is often a preference for more natural approaches like SJW, people experiment and continue to use what they perceive is most effective for them.