Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 393
Implementing a national diabetes prevention programme in England: lessons learned.
(BioMed Central, 2019-12-23)
BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes mellitus is preventable through lifestyle intervention. Diabetes prevention programmes (DPPs) aim to deliver prevention-based behaviour change interventions to reduce incidence. Such programmes vary from usual primary care in terms of where, how, and by whom they are delivered. Implementation is therefore likely to face new commissioning, incentive and delivery challenges. We report on the implementation of a national DPP in NHS England, and identify lessons learned in addressing the implementation challenges. METHODS: In 2017/18, we conducted 20 semi-structured telephone interviews covering 16 sampled case sites with the designated lead(s) responsible for local implementation of the programme. Interviews explored the process of implementation, including organisation of the programme, expectations and attitudes to the programme, funding, target populations and referral and clinical pathways. We drew on constant comparative methods to analyse the data and generate over-arching themes. We complemented our qualitative data with a survey focused on variation in the financial incentives used across sites to ensure usual primary care services recruited patients to new providers. RESULTS: We identified five over-arching areas of learning for implementing this large-scale programme: 1) managing new providers; 2) promoting awareness of services; 3) recruiting patients; 4) incentive payments; and 5) mechanisms for sharing learning. In general, tensions appeared to be caused by a lack of clear roles/responsibilities between hierarchical actors, and lack of communication. Both local sites and the national NHS coordination team gained experience through learning by doing. Initial tensions with roles and expectations have been worked out during implementation. CONCLUSIONS: Implementing a national disease prevention programme is a major task, and one that will be increasingly faced by health systems globally as they aim to adjust to demand pressures. We provide practical learning opportunities for the wider uptake and sustainability of prevention programmes. Future implementers might wish to define clear responsibilities for each actor prior to implementation, ensure early engagement with new providers, offer mechanisms/forums for sharing learning, generate evidence and provide advice on incentive payments, and prioritise public and professional awareness of the programme.
Using quality indicators to predict inspection ratings: cross-sectional study of general practices in England
(Royal College of General Practitioners, 2020-01-20)
Background The Care Quality Commission regulates, inspects, and rates general practice providers in England. Inspections are costly and infrequent, and are supplemented by a system of routine quality indicators, measuring patient satisfaction and the management of chronic conditions. These indicators can be used to prioritise or target inspections. Aim To determine whether this set of indicators can be used to predict the ratings awarded in subsequent inspections. Design and setting This cross-sectional study was conducted using a dataset of 6860 general practice providers in England. Method The indicators and first-inspection ratings were used to build ordered logistic regression models to predict inspection outcomes on the four-level rating system (‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’, and ‘inadequate’) for domain ratings and the ‘overall’ rating. Predictive accuracy was assessed using the percentage of correct predictions and a measure of agreement (weighted κ). Results The model correctly predicted 79.7% of the ‘overall’ practice ratings. However, 78.8% of all practices were rated ‘good’ on ‘overall’, and the weighted κ measure of agreement was very low (0.097); as such, predictions were little more than chance. This lack of predictive power was also found for each of the individual domain ratings. Conclusion The poor power of performance of these indicators to predict subsequent inspection ratings may call into question the validity and reliability of the indicators, inspection ratings, or both. A number of changes to the way data relating to performance indicators are collected and used are suggested to improve the predictive value of indicators. It is also recommended that assessments of predictive power be undertaken prospectively when sets of indicators are being designed and selected by regulators.
Designing and using incentives to support recruitment and retention in clinical trials: a scoping review and a checklist for design.
(BioMed Central, 2019-11-09)
BACKGROUND: Recruitment and retention of participants are both critical for the success of trials, yet both remain significant problems. The use of incentives to target participants and trial staff has been proposed as one solution. The effects of incentives are complex and depend upon how they are designed, but these complexities are often overlooked. In this paper, we used a scoping review to 'map' the literature, with two aims: to develop a checklist on the design and use of incentives to support recruitment and retention in trials; and to identify key research topics for the future. METHODS: The scoping review drew on the existing economic theory of incentives and a structured review of the literature on the use of incentives in three healthcare settings: trials, pay for performance, and health behaviour change. We identified the design issues that need to be considered when introducing an incentive scheme to improve recruitment and retention in trials. We then reviewed both the theoretical and empirical evidence relating to each of these design issues. We synthesised the findings into a checklist to guide the design of interventions using incentives. RESULTS: The issues to consider when designing an incentive system were summarised into an eight-question checklist. The checklist covers: the current incentives and barriers operating in the system; who the incentive should be directed towards; what the incentive should be linked to; the form of incentive; the incentive size; the structure of the incentive system; the timing and frequency of incentive payouts; and the potential unintended consequences. We concluded the section on each design aspect by highlighting the gaps in the current evidence base. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight how complex the design of incentive systems can be, and how crucial each design choice is to overall effectiveness. The most appropriate design choice will differ according to context, and we have aimed to provide context-specific advice. Whilst all design issues warrant further research, evidence is most needed on incentives directed at recruiters, optimal incentive size, and testing of different incentive structures, particularly exploring repeat arrangements with recruiters.
Driving Precision Policy Responses to Child Health and Developmental Inequities.
(Mary Ann Liebert Inc, 2019)
The growing evidence base on the extent of and opportunities to reduce inequities in children's health and development still lacks the specificity to inform clear policy decisions. A new phase of research is needed that builds on contemporary directions in precision medicine to develop precision policy making; with the aim to redress child inequities. This would include identifying effective interventions and their ideal time point(s), duration, and intensity to maximize impact. Drawing on existing data sources and innovations in epidemiology and biostatistics would be key. The economic and social gains that could be achieved from reducing child inequities are immense.
Anatomy of a demand shock: Quantitative analysis of crowding in hospital emergency departments in Victoria, Australia during the 2009 influenza pandemic
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-09-24)
OBJECTIVE: An infectious disease outbreak such as the 2009 influenza pandemic is an unexpected demand shock to hospital emergency departments (EDs). We analysed changes in key performance metrics in (EDs) in Victoria during this pandemic to assess the impact of this demand shock. DESIGN AND SETTING: Descriptive time-series analysis and longitudinal regression analysis of data from the Victorian Emergency Minimum Dataset (VEMD) using data from the 38 EDs that submit data to the state's Department of Health and Human Services. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Daily number of presentations, influenza-like-illness (ILI) presentations, daily mean waiting time (time to first being seen by a doctor), daily number of patients who did-not-wait and daily number of access-blocked patients (admitted patients with length of stay >8 hours) at a system and hospital-level. RESULTS: During the influenza pandemic, mean waiting time increased by up to 25%, access block increased by 32% and did not wait presentations increased by 69% above pre-pandemic levels. The peaks of all three crowding variables corresponded approximately to the peak in admitted ILI presentations. Longitudinal fixed-effects regression analysis estimated positive and statistically significant associations between mean waiting times, did not wait presentations and access block and ILI presentations. CONCLUSIONS: This pandemic event caused excess demand leading to increased waiting times, did-not-wait patients and access block. Increases in admitted patients were more strongly associated with crowding than non-admitted patients during the pandemic period, so policies to divert or mitigate low-complexity non-admitted patients are unlikely to be effective in reducing ED crowding.
Impact of the Manchester Glaucoma Enhanced Referral Scheme on NHS costs
(BMJ Publishing Group, 2019-09-01)
Objectives: Glaucoma filtering schemes such as the Manchester Glaucoma Enhanced Referral Scheme (GERS) aim to reduce the number of false positive cases referred to Hospital Eye Services. Such schemes can also have wider system benefits, as they may reduce waiting times for other patients. However, previous studies of the cost consequences and wider system benefits of glaucoma filtering schemes are inconclusive. We investigate the cost consequences of the Manchester GERS. Design: Observational study. Methods: A cost analysis from the perspective of the National Health Service (NHS) was conducted using audit data from the Manchester GERS. Results: 2405 patients passed through the Manchester GERS from April 2013 to November 2016. 53.3% were not referred on to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (MREH). Assuming an average of 2.3 outpatient visits to MREH were avoided for each filtered patient, the scheme saved the NHS approximately £2.76 per patient passing through the scheme. Conclusion: Our results indicate that glaucoma filtering schemes have the potential to reduce false positive referrals and costs to the NHS.
Cost-Effectiveness of a School-Based Social and Emotional Learning Intervention: Evidence from a Cluster-Randomised Controlled Trial of the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies Curriculum.
(Springer Verlag, 2020-04-01)
BACKGROUND: School-based social and emotional learning interventions can improve wellbeing and educational attainment in childhood. However, there is no evidence on their effects on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) or on their cost effectiveness. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to evaluate the cost effectiveness of the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) curriculum. METHODS: A prospective economic evaluation was conducted alongside a cluster-randomised controlled trial of the PATHS curriculum implemented in the Greater Manchester area of England. In total, 23 schools (n = 2676 children) were randomised to receive PATHS, and 22 schools (n = 2542 children) were randomised to continue with usual practice. A UK health service perspective and a 2-year time horizon were used. HRQoL data were collected prospectively from all children in the trial via the Child Health Utility Nine-Dimension questionnaire. Micro-costing was undertaken to estimate the intervention costs. Missing data were imputed using multiple imputation. RESULTS: The mean incremental cost of the PATHS curriculum compared with usual practice was £32.01 per child, and mean incremental quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) were positive (0.0019; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.0009-0.0029). Assuming a willingness-to-pay threshold of £20,000 per QALY, the expected incremental net benefit of introducing the PATHS curriculum was £5.56 per child (95% CI - 14.68 to 25.81), and the probability of cost effectiveness was 84%. However, this probability fell to 0% when intervention costs included teacher's salary costs. CONCLUSION: The PATHS curriculum has the potential to be cost effective at standard UK willingness-to-pay thresholds. However, the sensitivity of the cost-effectiveness estimates to key assumptions means decision makers should seek further information before allocating scarce public resources. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN85087674.
The effect of cash transfers on mental health - new evidence from South Africa.
(BioMed Central, 2020-04-03)
BACKGROUND: Mental health and poverty are strongly interlinked. There is a gap in the literature on the effects of poverty alleviation programmes on mental health. We aim to fill this gap by studying the effect of an exogenous income shock generated by the Child Support Grant, South Africa's largest Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) programme, on mental health. METHODS: We use biennial data on 10,925 individuals from the National Income Dynamics Study between 2008 and 2014. We exploit the programme's eligibility criteria to estimate instrumental variable Fixed Effects models. RESULTS: We find that receiving the Child Support Grant improves adult mental health by 0.822 points (on a 0-30 scale), 4.1% of the sample mean. CONCLUSION: Our findings show that UCT programmes have strong mental health benefits for the poor adult population.
Validation of the SF12 mental and physical health measure for the population from a low-income country in sub-Saharan Africa.
(BioMed Central, 2020-03-18)
INTRODUCTION: The Short Form Survey 12-item (SF12) mental and physical health version has been applied in several studies on populations from Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the SF12 has not been computed and validated for these populations. We address in this paper these gaps in the literature and use a health intervention example in Malawi to show the importance of our analysis for health policy. METHODS: We firstly compute the weights of the SF12 physical and mental health measure for the Malawian population using principal component analysis on a sample of 2838 adults from wave four (2006) of Malawian Longitudinal Study of Aging (MLSFH). We secondly test the construct validity of our computed and the US-population weighted SF12 measures using regression analysis and Fixed Effect estimation on waves four, seven (2012) and eight (2013) of the MLSFH. Finally, we use a Malawian cash transfer programme to exemplify the implications of using US- and Malawi-weighted SF12 mental health measures in policy evaluation. RESULTS: We find that the Malawian SF12 health measure weighted by our computed Malawian population weights is strongly associated with other mental health measures (Depression:-0.501, p = < 0.001; Anxiety:-1.755; p = < 0.001) and shows better construct validity in comparison to the US-weighted SF12 mental health component (rs = 0.675 versus rs = 0.495). None of the SF12 measures shows strong associations with other measures of physical health. The estimated average effect of the cash transfer is significant when using the Malawi-weighted SF12 mental health measure (treatment effect: 1.124; p = < 0.1), but not when using the US-weighted counterpart (treatment effect: 1.129; p > 0.1). The weightings affect the size of the impacts across mental health quantiles suggesting that the weighting scheme matters for empirical health policy analysis. CONCLUSION: Mental health shows more pronounced associations with the physical health dimension in a Low-Income Country like Malawi compared to the US. This is important for the construct validity of the SF12 health measures and has strong implications in health policy analysis. Further analysis is required for the physical health dimension of the SF12.
The CATFISH study protocol: an evaluation of a water fluoridation scheme
BACKGROUND: Tooth decay is the commonest disease of childhood. We have known for over 90 years that fluoride can prevent tooth decay; it is present in nearly all toothpastes and can be provided in mouthwashes, gels and varnishes. The oldest method of applying fluoride is via the water supply at a concentration of 1 part per million. The two most important reviews of water fluoridation in the United Kingdom (the York Review and MRC Report on water fluoridation and health) concluded that whilst there was evidence to suggest water fluoridation provided a benefit in caries reduction, there was a need to improve the evidence base in several areas. METHODS/DESIGN: This study will use a natural experiment to assess the incidence of caries in two geographical areas, one in which the water supply is returned to being fluoridated following a discontinuation of fluoridation and one that continues to have a non-fluoridated water supply. The oral health of two discrete study populations will be evaluated - those born 9 months after the water fluoridation was introduced, and those who were in their 1st year of school after the introduction of fluoridated water. Both populations will be followed prospectively for 5 years using a census approach in the exposed group along with matched numbers recruitment in a non-exposed control. Parents of the younger cohort will complete questionnaires every 6 months with child clinical examination at ages 3 and 5, whilst the older cohort will have clinical examinations only, at approximately 5, 7 and 11 years old. DISCUSSION: This project provides a unique opportunity to conduct a high quality evaluation of the reintroduction of a water fluoridation scheme, which satisfies the inclusion criteria stipulated by the York systematic review and can address the design issues identified in the MRC report. The research will make a major contribution to the understanding of the costs and effects of water fluoridation in the UK in the 21st Century. Its findings will help inform UK policy on this important public health intervention and may have a significant impact on public health policy in other developed countries. There is currently true equipoise in relation to the effectiveness of water fluoridation in contemporary populations and while the biological plausibility is well established, there is a need to examine impact on the changing epidemiological status of dental decay.
Estimating causal effects: considering three alternatives to difference-in-differences estimation
Difference-in-differences (DiD) estimators provide unbiased treatment effect estimates when, in the absence of treatment, the average outcomes for the treated and control groups would have followed parallel trends over time. This assumption is implausible in many settings. An alternative assumption is that the potential outcomes are independent of treatment status, conditional on past outcomes. This paper considers three methods that share this assumption: the synthetic control method, a lagged dependent variable (LDV) regression approach, and matching on past outcomes. Our motivating empirical study is an evaluation of a hospital pay-for-performance scheme in England, the best practice tariffs programme. The conclusions of the original DiD analysis are sensitive to the choice of approach. We conduct a Monte Carlo simulation study that investigates these methods' performance. While DiD produces unbiased estimates when the parallel trends assumption holds, the alternative approaches provide less biased estimates of treatment effects when it is violated. In these cases, the LDV approach produces the most efficient and least biased estimates.
Stick or twist? Career decision-making during contractual uncertainty for NHS junior doctors
(BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2017-01-01)
OBJECTIVES: To examine the extent, and nature, of impact on junior doctors' career decisions, of a proposed new contract and the uncertainty surrounding it. DESIGN: Mixed methods. Online survey exploring: doctors' future training intentions; their preferred specialty training (ST) programmes; whether they intended to proceed immediately to ST; and other plans. Linked qualitative interviews to explore more fully how and why decisions were affected. SETTING: Doctors (F2s) in second year of Foundation School (FS) Programmes in England. PARTICIPANTS: Invitations sent by FSs. Open to all F2s November 2015-February 2016. All FSs represented. Survey completed by 816 F2s. Sample characteristics broadly similar to national F2 cohort. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportions of doctors intending to proceed to ST posts in the UK, to defer or to exit UK medicine. Proportion of doctors indicating changes in training and career plans as a result of the contract and/or resulting uncertainty. Distribution of changes across training programmes. Explanations of these intentions from interviews and free text comments. RESULTS: Among the responding junior doctors, 20% indicated that issues related to the contract had prompted them to switch specialty and a further 20% had become uncertain about switching specialty. Switching specialty choice was more prevalent among those now choosing a community-based, rather than hospital-based specialty. 30% selecting general practice had switched choice because of the new contract. Interview data suggests that doctors felt they had become less valued or appreciated in the National Health Service and in society more broadly. CONCLUSIONS: Doctors reported that contract-related issues have affected their career plans. The most notable effect is a move away from acute to community-based specialities, with the former perceived as more negatively affected by the proposed changes. It is concerning that young doctors feel undervalued, and this requires further investigation.