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עמוד בית
Mon, 15.07.24

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September 2009
. Giveon, J. Yaphe, I. Hekselman, S. Mahamid and D. Hermoni

Background: The internet has transformed the patient-physician relationship by empowering patients with information. Because physicians are no longer the primary gatekeepers of medical information, shared decision making is now emerging as the hallmark of the patient-physician relationship.

Objectives: To assess the reactions of primary care physicians to encounters in which patients present information obtained from the internet (e-patients) and to examine the influence of the physicians' personal and demographic characteristics on their degree of satisfaction with e-patients.

Methods: A questionnaire was developed to assess physician attitudes to e-patients, their knowledge and utilization of the internet, and their personal and professional characteristics. Family physicians in central Israel were interviewed by telephone and in person at a continuing medical education course.

Results: Of the 100 physicians contacted by phone, 93 responded to the telephone interviews and 50 physicians responded to the questionnaire in person. There was an 85% response rate. The mean age of respondents was 49 years. Most physicians were born in Israel, with a mean seniority of 22 years. Most had graduated in Eastern Europe, were not board certified and were employees of one of the four health management organizations in Israel. Most physicians responded positively when data from the internet were presented to them by patients (81%). A number of respondents expressed discomfort in such situations (23%). No association was found between physician satisfaction in relationships with patients and comfort with data from the internet presented by patients.

Conclusions: Physicians in this sample responded favorably to patients bringing information obtained online to the consultation. Though it may be difficult to generalize findings from a convenience sample, Israeli family physicians appear to have accepted internet use by patients.


April 2006
O. Bronshtein, V. Katz, T. Freud and R. Peleg

Background: Physicians in the community work on a tight and often pressured schedule; verbal and non-verbal techniques to terminate the patient-physician encounter are therefore necessary.

Objectives: To characterize ways of terminating the encounter.

Methods: Using a structured questionnaire we observed seven family physicians and nine consultants and recorded patient-physician encounters to assess techniques for terminating the encounter.

Results: In all, 320 encounters were recorded, 179 (55.9%) by consultants and 141 (44.1%) by family physicians. The mean duration of the encounters was 9.02 ± 5.34 minutes. The mean duration of encounters with family physicians was longer than consultants (10.39 vs. 7.93 minutes, P < 0.001). In most cases the encounter ended with the patient receiving printed documentation from the physician (no difference between family physicians and consultants). Consultants were more likely to end the encounter with a positive concluding remark such as “feel good” or “be well” (P < 0.01). There was no single occasion where termination of the encounter was initiated by the patient.

Conclusions: Giving a printed document to the patient appears to be perceived by both patients and physicians as an accepted way to end an encounter. Another good way to end the encounter is a positive greeting such as “feel good” or “be well.”

October 2005
S. Vinker, S. Nakar, R. Ram. A. Lustman and E. Kitai.
 Background: Good care of the diabetic patient reduces the incidence of long-term complications. Treatment should be interdisciplinary; in the last decade a debate has raged over how to optimize treatment and how to use the various services efficiently.

Objectives: To evaluate the quality of care of diabetic patients in primary care and diabetes clinics in the community in central Israel.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study of a random sample of 209 diabetic patients in a district of the largest health management organization in Israel. Patients were divided into two groups – those treated only by their family physician and those who had attended diabetes clinics. Data included social demographics, medications, risk factors, quality of follow-up, laboratory tests, quality of diabetes control and blood pressure control, and complications of diabetes.

Results: Of the 209 patients 38% were followed by a diabetes clinic and 62% by a family physician. Patients attending the specialist clinic tended to be younger (P = 0.01) and more educated (P = 0.017). The duration of their diabetes was longer (P < 0.01) and they had more diabetic microvascular complications (P = 0.001). The percentage of patients treated with insulin was higher among the diabetes clinic patients (75% vs. 14%, P = 0.0001). More patients with nephropathy received angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in the diabetes clinic (94% vs. 68%, P = 0.02). Follow-up in the specialist clinic as compared to by the family physician was better in the areas of foot examination (P < 0.01), fundus examination (P = 0.0001), and hemoglobin A1c testing (P = 0.01). On a regression model only fundus examination, foot examination and documentation of smoking status were significantly better in the diabetes clinic (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: There is still a large gap between clinical guidelines and clinical practice. Joint treatment of diabetes patients between the family physician and the diabetes specialist may be a proposed model to improve follow-up and diabetes control. This model of treatment should be checked in a prospective study.

August 2004
T. Kushnir, C. Levhar and A. Herman Cohen

Background: Burnout is a professional occupational disease that puts both physicians and patients at risk. Triggered by the increase in burnout levels among physicians, the European Forum of Medical Associations and the World Health Organization issued a statement in March 2003 expressing serious concerns about the situation, urging all national medical associations to increase awareness of the problem, monitor it and study its causes in order to develop preventive strategies.

Objectives: To compare burnout levels in two separate samples of primary care physicians measured in the mid-1990s, with burnout levels in a similar but small and independent sample, assessed in 2001; and to outline the theoretical bases of burnout.

Methods: Altogether, 508 primary care physicians employed by Clalit Health Services responded anonymously to a self-report questionnaire. The samples were not representative and included family physicians, pediatricians and clinic directors.

Results: Burnout levels were significantly higher in the 2001 sample than in the mid-1990s samples, especially among clinic directors.

Conclusions: Despite methodologic limitations of the study, the findings suggest that burnout levels may be increasing among primary care physicians in Israel. This may be due to substantial increases in workload and role conflicts, following implementation of the Health Insurance Law and Patients’ Rights Act. Because these findings are consistent with the trend in Europe, this situation cannot be ignored, and systematic studies of burnout among all medical specialties should be carried out to uncover current sources of the syndrome and to devise measures of prevention and treatment.

October 2003
E. Leibovitz, D. Gavish, D. Dicker, R.J. Viskoper, C. Yosefi, for the iBPC Program

Background: The Israeli Blood Pressure Control program was initiated to enhance the control of modifiable risk factors among high risk hypertensive patients followed by general practitioners in Israel.

Objective: To report the baseline results of the state of the treatment regarding blood pressure management, lipid and glucose control as well as obesity and smoking cessation among the patients.

Methods: Hypertensive patients were screened in 30 general practice clinics supervised by family medicine specialists seeing 1,000–5,000 patients each. Between 50 and 250 hypertensive patients were diagnosed at each participating clinic. Blood pressure levels, body mass index, lipid and glucose levels, as well as target organ damage and medications were recorded for all patients.

Results: Of the 4,948 patients registered, 2,079 were males (42%). Mean age was 64.8 ± 12. Blood pressure control was achieved in only 33.1% of total hypertensive patients. Low density lipoprotein control was achieved in 31.1% of all patients, and glucose control in only 28.5%% of diabetic patients (glucose < 126 mg/dl); 20.7% of the diabetics had glucose levels above 200 mg/dl. In this group of patients 38.9% were obese (BMI[1] >30 kg/m2). While there were more obese females than males (48.0% vs. 35.6%), no difference was found in blood pressure, lipid or glucose control between the genders.

Conclusion: Risk factor management of hypertensive patients attending general practice clinics in Israel is not optimal, especially among those with diabetes or in need of secondary prevention measures. A long-term intervention program for high risk patients in the community is needed to improve the current situation.

[1] BMI = body mass index

October 2002
Mark J. Yaffe, MD, CM, M, MCISc, CCFP, FCFP and Jacqueline Klvana, MD, CM, CCFP

Background: Eldercare often necessitates the presence of a family caregiver at the senior's visit to a doctor’s office. Studies indicate that some caregivers are not satisfied with these encounters or with as An understanding of the dynamics of these complex interactions is required.

Objectives: To explore family physicians’ attitudes to interfacing family caregivers of the elderly, to identify factors within the family patient-caregiver encounters in the office setting that for physicians,  to ascertain factors that might be problematic for physicians, to ascertain factors that might contribute to doctors’ behaviors and concerns, and to propose possible solutions for optimizing the outcomes of these visits.

Method: A questionnaire for self-administration was mailed to 200 family physicians in Montreal, Canada who are affiliated with two community secondary care and one tertiary care hospital and involved in geriatric office practice. The survey focused on family physician attitudes, concerns and observations on the interactions among themselves, elderly patients and their family caregivers during office visits.

Results: A total of 142 completed questionnaires were returned with a 71% response rate. Most family doctors felt that it was their responsibility to respond to caregiver concerns (90.6%) and that they were generally meeting their needs (94.2%). In contrast, 81% found this activity stressful and that as few as three such encounters per day were sufficient to generate stress. Causes of stress included: a) concern regarding misdiagnosis, b) different agendas or conflicting responses of patient and caregiver to doctors’ suggestions, and c) reluctance of the elderly or the caregiver to use community resources. A common physician strategy was reliance on acquired professional experience to solving problems of the elderly or of their caregivers.

Conclusions: Despite the stress involved, physicians are interested in assisting caregivers in the management of the elderly. Many doctors lack adequate knowledge about or confidence in community resources. Clinicians may require enhanced skills in conflict resolution necessary to achieve optimal outcomes.

September 2002
Yaron Niv, MD and Shlomo Birkenfield, MD

Background: Guidelines are important for keeping family physicians informed of the constant developments in many fields of medicine.

Objectives: To compare the knowledge of gastroenterologists and family physicians regarding the diagnosis and treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease in order to determine the need for expert guidelines.

Methods: A 25 item questionnaire on the definition, diagnosis and treatment of GERD[1] was presented to 35 gastroenterologists and 35 family physicians. Each item was rated on a four point scale from 1 = highly recommended to 4 = not recommended. A voting system was used for each group on separate occasions. The proportions of correct answers according to the level of recommendation were compared between the groups.

Results: The groups' responses agreed on only 4 of the 25 items; differences between the remaining 21 were all statistically significant. For 14 items, 70% of the gastroenterologists chose the grade 1 recommendation, whereas more than 70% of the family physicians chose mostly grade 2.

Conclusions: The gap in knowledge on gastroesophageal reflux disease between gastroenterologists and family physicians is significant and may have a profound impact on diagnosis and treatment. Clear and accurate guidelines may improve patient evaluation in the community.

[1] GERD = gastroesophageal reflux disease

June 2002
Shlomo Vinker, MD, Sasson Nakar, MD, Elliot Rosenberg, MD, MPH and Eliezer Kitai, MD

Background: Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in Israel. Unfortunately, compliance  with annual fecal occult blood testing is very low.

Objective: To assess the effectiveness of interventions to increase FOBT[1] screening in primary care clinics in Israel.

Methods: A prospective, randomized study included all 50–75 year old enrollees of six family physicians in two primary care clinics. The register of two physicians, one from each clinic, was allocated to one of three groups. Two FOBT reminder strategies were tested: a physician reminder (753 patients), and a patient reminder that was either a phone call (312 patients) or a letter (337 patients). The control group (913 patients) of physicians continued administering their regular level of care. The main outcome measure was the percentage of patients undergoing FOBT screening in each study arm at the conclusion of the one year study period.

Results: In the intervention groups 14.3% (201/1,402) were screened using the FOBT over the course of the study year. Using an intent-to-screen analysis, the screening rate in the physician and patient reminder groups was significantly higher than in the control group(16.5 and 11.9%,vs. 1.2% respectively, P < 0.0001). Phone reminders were significantly more efective as compared to letters (14.7 vs. 9.2%, P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Our study has shown the benefit of various FOBT reminder systems, especially those centered around the family physician. Further research should focus on this area, in conjunction with other novel approaches.


[1] FOBT = fecal occult blood testing

December 2001
Martine Granek-Catarivas, MD

Background: Family physicians coordinate the care of their patients and follow them in a longitudinal manner. Do they have a role to play while their patients are hospitalized? Does the system of care expect them to play a role, and how does it support or integrate it?

Objectives: To discuss the various models of relations between hospital and primary care physicians in the world as compared to those in Israel.

Method: Short cases are reported describing the author’s personal experiences and difficulties encountered in a family practice.

Discussion: Identifying and defining problems encountered, as well as their origin and development within the history and evolution of the system of delivery of care in Israel, will lead to some suggestions for a possible solution. Maturation of the system, especially education of the junior staff within the hospital system, is still needed to facilitate the hospital-physician relationship.

Conclusion: More active participation of the family physician offers added value to patients’ management during their hospital stay and is welcomed by them. The full implementation of a system promoting continuity of care requires further attempts at developing suitable models of cooperation between hospital and family physicians.

Sophia Eilat-Tsanani MD, Mordechai Sorek MD, Nir Gay MD, Ora Chaimovitch MD, Lev Kulton MD and Hava Tabenkin MD MSc

Background: Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women in Israel and throughout the world. Israeli women aged 50–75 years are advised to undergo a mammographic screening examination every 2 years. However, the lack of a structured referral system is reflected in the low utilization rate of mammography.

Objectives: To describe an innovative program in which family physicians in an urban clinic developed a model framework for referrals, coordinated with radiologists and surgeons, aimed at increasing compliance among women referred for mammography.

Methods: A community-based study was conducted, outside of the regular reception hours, in a neighborhood practice with a population of 527 women aged 50–75. A referral system under the supervision of family physicians was designed, and the women received appointments for mammography at specified days and hours. The results of the examination were sent to the physician who used dedicated time to continue the diagnostic and/or therapeutic process, as appropriate. At the physician’s instructions a research assistant contacted the women who did not keep their appointments and scheduled a second appointment.

Results: In 1993, the year prior to the study, when women referred themselves for mammography, the utilization rate was 9%. During the study year the utilization rate was 77%. Women born in Europe or America had higher compliance rates than women born in Asia or Africa (81% vs. 72%, respectively). Married women were more compliant than unmarried women (81% vs. 70%, respectively). No correlation was found between compliance and age, family history of cancer in general, or breast cancer in particular. Six new cases of breast cancer were detected.

Conclusions: The initiative of family physicians increased the utilization of mammography among women under their care. Family physicians allocated time outside of their regular reception hours for the program. A relatively large number of new malignancies were found, but this impression should be confirmed or negated by a large-scale study using the same methods.

October 2000
Stanley Rabin PhD, Ernesto Kahan MD MPH, Simon Zalewsky MD, Barbara Rabin MA, Michael Hertz MD, Ofra Mehudar BA and Eliezer Kitai MD

Background: *Previous descriptive studies have demonstrated the problematic nature of physicians' attitudes toward battered women. However, little empirical research has been done in the field, especially among the various medical specialties.

Objectives: To compare the approach and feelings of competence regarding the care of battered women between primary care and non-primary care physicians. The non-primary care physicians who are likely to encounter battered women in the ambulatory setting are gynecologists and orthopedists.

Methods: A self-report questionnaire formulated for this study was mailed to a random sample of 400 physicians working in ambulatory clinics of the two main health maintenance organizations in Israel (300 primary care physicians, 50 gynecologists and 50 orthopedists).

Results: In both physician groups, treating battered women tended to evoke more negative emotional states than treating patients with infectious disease. The most prevalent mood state related to the management of battered women was anger at her situation. Primary care physicians experienced more states of tension and confusion than non-primary care physicians and had lower perceived self-efficacy and self-competence in dealing with battered women.

Conclusions: Though both physician groups exhibited negative feelings when confronting battered women, the stronger emotion of the primary care physicians may indicate greater sensitivity and personal awareness. We believe that more in-service training should be introduced to help physicians at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels to cope both emotionally and professionally with these patients.

March 2000
Shlomo Vinker MD, Sasson Nakar MD, Michael A. Weingarten BM BCh, and members of the Israeli General Practice Research Network

Background: Most countries today are experiencing an accelerated pace of population aging. The management of the elderly housebound patient presents a special challenge to the family physician.

Objectives: To investigate a series of home visits to housebound patients, the therapeutic procedures used, the equipment needed, and the diagnostic conclusions reached.

Methods: The details of 379 consecutive home visits to housebound patients were recorded by 91 family doctors serving 125,000 patients in Israel.

Results: The average age of the patients was 76.1 years. The vast majority of the visits were during office hours (94%). In 24.1% it was the doctor who decided to make the home visit on his/her own initiative. The most common initial reason for a home visit was undefined general symptoms, but the doctor was usually able to arrive at a more specific diagnosis after the visit. Medications were prescribed in 59.1% of the visits, and in 23.5% the medication was administered directly by the physician. The commonest drugs used were analgesics and antibiotics. In 19.3% of visits no action at all, other than examination and counseling, was undertaken. The equipment needed included prescription pads (73%), a stethoscope (81%), sphygmomanometer (74.9%), and otoscope/torch (30.6%). Only 15% of visits resulted in referral to hospital.

Conclusions: Home visits to housebound patients serve as a support to caregivers, provide diagnostic information, and help the family with the decision as to when hospitalization is appropriate. The specific medical cause for the patient being housebound had little effect on the process of home visiting.

December 1999
Eliezer Kitai MD, Talma Kushnir PhD, Michael Herz MD, Shmuel Melamed MD, Dorit Vigiser PhD and M. Granek MD
Background: Physicians need a professional environment that is conducive to efficient and satisfying work. Little has been published about the effect of work structure on the satisfaction that family physicians derive from their work.

Objectives: To assess the structure and the positive and negative job components of family physicians in Israel, as well as the effect of these components on their satisfaction with their work.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to a random selection of members of the Israel Society of Family Physicians (n=225).

Results: Altogether 183 questionnaires were returned. Specialist family doctors, practice medical directors and salaried doctors were involved in more activities than non-specialist doctors, trainees and self-employed doctors. Overall satisfaction was highest for specialists and lowest for non-specialists. Work overload, insufficient resources and abundant paperwork were most frequently cited as negative work components. The opportunity to utilize medical knowledge, challenging work and work variety scored highest as positive components.

Conclusions: The more professionally active physicians were also the more satisfied. Clinical work and teaching provided the most satisfaction, while administrative work and lack of time were the main causes of dissatisfaction.



* This article is dedicated to the memory of our dear friend, Dr. michael Herz, who contributed to the writing of it.

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