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עמוד בית
Wed, 19.06.24

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February 2013
T. Freud, M. Sherf, E. Battat, D. Vardy and P. Shvartzman
 Background: Opioids are considered a cornerstone in the treatment of cancer pain.

Objectives: To assess opioid use during a 6 year period (2001–2006) among cancer patients served by Clalit Health Services, the largest health management organization in Israel.

Methods: Purchasing data of opioids authorized for use in Israel were obtained from the computerized databases of Clalit for the period 2001–2006. Patients' demographic and cancer morbidity data were extracted. The data were analyzed by translating the purchased opioids (fentanyl patch, oxycodone, buprenorphine, methadone, hydromorphone) to oral morphine equivalents (OME).

Results: During the study period 182,066 Clalit members were diagnosed with cancer; 58,443 (32.1%) of them died and 31,628 (17.3%) purchased opioids at least once. In 2001, 7.5% of Clalit cancer patients purchased opioids at least once within 5 years of the initial diagnosis. Between 2002 and 2006 this percentage increased consistently, reaching 9.9% in 2006. The average daily dose of opioids increased from 104.1 mg OME in the year 2001 to 115.2 mg OME in 2006 (11% increase). The average duration of opioid purchasing was 5.0 ± 8.3 months (range 1–84 months, median 2). During the study period 19,426 cancer patients who purchased opioids at least once died; only 14.3% (3274) were still alive 2 years after their first opioid prescription.

Conclusions: Opioid purchasing increased during the study period, especially during the final months of life. Children (0–18 years old) and elderly male patients (≥ 65 years) began opioid treatment later compared to other age groups. Only a few patients had an opioid early enough to relieve their pain. 

January 2013
U. Yoel, T. Abu-Hammad, A. Cohen, A. Aizenberg, D. Vardy and P. Shvartzman
 Background: The rate of adherence to treatment for diabetes mellitus (DM), hypertension (HTN) and lipid metabolic disorder (LMD) is significantly lower in the Bedouin population compared with the Jewish population in southern Israel.

Objectives: To investigate the reasons for non-adherence associated with cardiovascular risk factors among Bedouins.

Methods: We identified Bedouin patients with HTN, DM or LMD from medical records and randomly selected 443 high adherent and 403 low adherent patients. Using trained interviewers we conducted in-depth structured interviews regarding knowledge and attitudes to chronic illness and its treatment, health services evaluation, and socio-demographic factors.

Results: The study population included 99 high and 101 low adherent patients. More low adherent patients agreed that traditional therapy can replace prescribed medications for DM, HTN or LMD (47% vs. 26%, P < 0.01), and 10% used only traditional medications. Also, more low adherent patients believed that the side effects of prescribed drugs are actually worse than the disease itself (65% vs. 47%, P < 0.05), and 47% cited this as a reason for discontinuing drug treatment (47% vs. 31%, P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that in this minority population the basis for non-adherence derives directly from patients' perceptions of chronic disease and drug treatment. A focused intervention should emphasize the importance of early evidence-based drug therapy with open patient-physician dialogue on the meaning of chronic disease and the side effects of prescribed drugs.

January 2009
H. Gilutz, L. Novack, P. Shvartzman, J. Zelingher, D.Y. Bonneh, Y. Henkin, M. Maislos, R. Peleg, Z. Liss, G. Rabinowitz, D. Vardy, D. Zahger, R. Ilia, N. Leibermann and A. Porath

Background: Dyslipidemia remains underdiagnosed and undertreated in patients with coronary artery disease. The Computer-based Clinical Decision Support System provides an opportunity to close these gaps.

Objectives: To study the impact of computerized intervention on secondary prevention of CAD[1].

Methods: The CDSS[2] was programmed to automatically detect patients with CAD and to evaluate the availability of an updated lipoprotein profile and treatment with lipid-lowering drugs. The program produced automatic computer-generated monitoring and treatment recommendations. Adjusted primary clinics were randomly assigned to intervention (n=56) or standard care arms (n=56). Reminders were mailed to the primary medical teams in the intervention arm every 4 months updating them with current lipid levels and recommendations for further treatment. Compliance and lipid levels were monitored. The study group comprised all patients with CAD who were alive at least 3 months after hospitalization.

Results: Follow-up was available for 7448 patients with CAD (median 19.8 months, range 6–36 months). Overall, 51.7% of patients were adequately screened, and 55.7% of patients were compliant with treatment recommended to lower lipid level. A significant decrease in low density lipoprotein levels was observed in both arms, but was more pronounced in the intervention arm: 121.9 ± 34.2 vs. 124.3 ± 34.6 mg/dl (P < 0.02). A significantly lower rate of cardiac rehospitalizations was documented in patients who were adequately treated with lipid-lowering drugs, 37% vs. 40.9% (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: This initial assessment of our data represent a real-world snapshot where physicians and CAD patients often do not adhere to clinical guidelines, presenting a major obstacle to implementing effective secondary prevention. Our automatic computerized reminders system substantially facilitates adherence to guidelines and supports wide-range implementation.

[1] CAD = coronary artery disease

[2] CDSS = clinical decision support system

September 2007
O. Tamir, R. Peleg, J. Dreiher, T. Abu-Hammad, Y. Abu Rabia, M. Abu Rashid, A. Eisenberg, D. Sibersky, A. Kazanovich, E. Khalil, D. Vardy and P. Shvartzman

Background: Until three decades ago coronary heart disease and stroke were considered rare in the Israeli Bedouin population. Today, this population shows increasing high prevalence compared to the Jewish population.

Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of diagnosed cardiovascular risk factors among the Bedouin (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia), and to assess compliance with follow-up tests and drug treatment.

Methods: The study included all listed patients aged 20 years and older in eight clinics in major Bedouin towns, and in two large teaching clinics in Beer Sheva (Jewish population). Risk factor data were extracted from the clinics' computerized databases. For those diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes or dyslipidemia, drug purchasing data were collected from the pharmacy database to determine compliance with treatment, and from the central laboratory mainframe (HbA1c and low density lipoprotein-cholesterol) to evaluate follow-up and control.

Results: A significantly higher prevalence of diabetes in all age groups was found in the Bedouin population compared to the Jewish population; age-adjusted results show a prevalence of 12% vs. 8% respectively (P < 0.001). The prevalence of dyslipidemia and age-adjusted hypertension was lower among Bedouins (5.8% vs. 18.2%, P < 0.01 and 17% vs. 21%, P < 0.001 respectively). Two-thirds of hypertensive Bedouin patients and 72.9% of diabetic Bedouin patients were not compliant with treatment. For dyslipidemia only 10.4% of the Bedouins were compliant compared with 28.2% in the Jewish population (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Compliance with drug therapy and follow-up tests was found to be a major problem in the Bedouin population.

August 2006
D.A. Vardy, T. Freud, P. Shvartzman, M. Sherf, O. Spilberg, D. Goldfarb and S. Mor-Yosef
 Background: Full medical coverage may often result in overuse. Cost-sharing and the introduction of a co-payment have been shown to cause a reduction in the use of medical services.

Objectives: To assess the effects of the recently introduced co-payment for consultant specialist services on patients' utilization of these services in southern Israel.

Methods: Computerized utilization data on specialists' services for 6 months before and 6 months after initiation of co-payment were retrieved from the database of Israel's largest health management organization.

Results: A decrease of 4.5% was found in the total number of visits to Soroka Medical Center outpatient clinics and of 6.8% to community-based consultants. An increase of 20.1% was noted in the number of non-actualized visits at the outpatient clinics. A decrease of 6.2% in new visits was found in the hospital outpatient clinics and of 6.5% in community clinics. A logistic regression model showed that the residents of development towns and people aged 75+ and 12–34 were more likely not to keep a prescheduled appointment.

Conclusion: After introduction of a modest co-payment, a decrease in the total number of visits to specialists with an increase in "no-shows" was observed. The logistic regression model suggests that people of lower socioeconomic status are more likely not to keep a prescheduled appointment.

August 2000
Alex Zvulunov MD, Evgeny Medvedovsky MD, Amnon Biton MD, Shulamit Horowitz PhD and Daniel Vardy MD, MSc

Background: The frequent coexistence of two or more sexually transmitted diseases in one patient has been reported in non-dermatological literature, mostly in languages other than English. Identification of Ureaplasma urealyticum, Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycoplasma hominis in men with other STDs is important, since these bacteria have been implicated in a variety of diseases such as non-gonococcal urethritis, premature rupture of fetal membranes, and infertility in female sexual partners of these patients.

Objective: To assess the frequency of concomitant STD, particularly urethral colonization of U. urealyticum, C. trachomatis and M. hominis, in men consulting for suspected STD-related symptoms.

Methods: All patients attending our dermatology clinic for STD-related symptoms during a 12 month period in 1996–97 underwent systematic clinical and laboratory screening for syphilis, gonorrhea, NGU, prostatitis, genital herpes simplex infection, Condyloma acuminatum, urethral carriage of U. urealyticum, C. trachomatis and M. hominis, as well as serological screening for HIV, and hepatitis B and C infections.

Results: A total of 169 men with STD-related symptoms were enrolled in the study. The following clinical diagnoses were established: NGU in 109 men, C. acuminatum in 40, genital herpes simplex in 10, prostatitis in 7, latent syphilis in 6, primary syphilis in 1, and Behcet’s disease in 1. No clinical evidence of STD was found in 13 patients. Of the 169 patients, 39 (23%) had two or more concomitant STDs, of whom 27 (69%) had C. acuminatum associated with one or more of the urethral pathogens. A positive U. urealyticum culture was found in 67.5% (27/40) of the men with C. acuminatum as compared to 42% (40/96) among the patients with NGU who did not have C. acuminatum (P=0.004, X2 test). Conversely, the prevalence of C. acuminatum among patients positive for U. urealyticum was significantly higher than the prevalence among those who were negative – 27/75 (36%) vs. 13/94 (14%), P<0.0009, X2 test. About half of the U. urealyticum-positive patients with C. acuminatum had no clinical signs or symptoms of urethritis.

Conclusion: Our findings suggest that patients with C. acuminatum should be assessed for U. urealyticum carriage and, when identified, their sexual contacts should be actively sought and treated.



* Dr. Zvulunov is now with the Department of Pediatrics, Joseftal Hospital, Eilat, Israel.

STDs = sexually transmitted diseases

NGU = non-gonococcal urethritis

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