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עמוד בית
Sat, 20.07.24

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August 2001
Liat Lubish, MD, Shragit Greenberg, MD, Michael Friger and Pesach Shvartzman, MD

Background: Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent malignancies in women, yet one of the most treatable. Early detection is essential to obtain the desired remission and longevity. Numerous studies have shown that periodic screen­ing for breast cancer can reduce mortality by 20-30%.

Objective: To assess the rates, compliance, character­istics as well as barriers in women regarding mammography screening.

Methods: The study group comprised a random sample of 702 women aged 50 or older from 5914 eligible women in two teaching clinics in southern Israel. Phone interviews using structured questionnaires were conducted.

Results: The mean age of the study population was 61 years. The vast majority of the women were not born in Israel. Sixty-three percent of the women had undergone a mammo­graphy screening, 48% in the past 2 years. Monthly self-breast examinations were performed by 12% of the women in the last 2 years. Significant factors associated with undergoing mammography were: more than 7 years since immigration, married, a higher education level, adequate knowledge about breast cancer and mammography, presence of past or current cancer, and cancer in relatives. The main reasons for not being screened was no referral (54%) and a lack of knowledge about breast cancer and mammography (19%) - conditions easily remedied by physician counseling.

Conclusion: The study suggests that promotional efforts should be concentrated on new immigrants and on less educated and unmarried women.

June 2001
Haim Reuveni, MD, Shifra Shvarts, PhD, Joachim Meyer, PhD, Asher Elhayany, MD, MPA and Dan Greenberg, MSc

Background: On 1 January 1995 a new mandatory National Health Insurance Law was enacted in Israel, The new law fostered competition among the four major Israeli healthcare providers (HMO5 or sick funds) already operating in the market due to the possibility that an unlimited number of patients and the relative budget share would shift among the HMOs. This led them to launch advertising campaigns to attract new members.

Objectives: To examine newspaper advertising activities during the early stages of healthcare market reform in Israel.

Methods: Advertising efforts were reviewed during a study period of 24 months (July 1994 to June 1996). Advertisements were analyzed in terms of marketing strategy, costs and quality of information.

Results: During the study period 412 newspaper adver­tisements were collected. The total advertising costs by all HMOs was approximately US$4 million in 1996 prices. Differences were found in marketing strategy, relative adver­tising costs, contents and priorities among the HMOs.

Conclusions: The content of HMO5 newspaper advertis­ing was consistent with their marketing strategy. The mes­sages met the criteria of persuasive advertising in that they cultivated interest in the HMOs but did not provide meaningful information about them. Future developments in this area should include consensus guidelines for advertising activities of HMOs in Israel, instruction concerning the content of messages, and standardization of criteria to report on HMO performance.

May 2001
Manfred S. Green, MD, PhD, Gali Aharonowitz, MD, Tamy Shohat, MD, MPH, Rachel Levine, MD, Emilia Anis, MD, MPH and Paul E. Slater, MD, MPH

Background: Between 1970 and 1979, there was an increase in the incidence of viral hepatitis in Israel with a shift of peak incidence to an older age in the Jewish population, followed by a declining trend during the early 1980s. In July 1999 universal immunization of infants against hepatitis A was introduced.

Objective: To evaluate the chan-ges in the epidemiology of viral hepatitis A in Israel during the past decade.

Methods: Viral hepatitis is a notifiable disease in Israel and cases are reported to the regional health offices, which in turn provide summary reports to the Ministry of Health's Department of Epidemiology. The data in this study were derived from the summary reports and from results of seroprevalence studies.

Results: Following the increase in the incidence of reported viral hepatitis (mainly due to type A) between 1970 and 1979, the rates then stabilized and around 1984 began to decline until 1992. Since then there has been a slight increase. Whereas until 1987 the rates were consistently higher in the Jewish population. since then they are higher in the Arab population. The shift in the peak age-specific incidence from the 1-4 to the 5-9 year age group observed in the Jewish population around 1970 occurred 20 years later in the Arab population. The previously described seasonality is no longer evident. Recent seroprevalence studies indicate that by age 18 years only about 30-40% of the Jewish population have anti-hepatitis A antibodies.

Conclusions: The decline in the incidence of hepatitis probably reflects the changing socioeconomic condition occurring at different times in the two major population groups. Since hepatitis A accounts for almost all the acute viral hepatitis in Israel, the universal vaccination of infants introduced in 1999 should substantially lower the morbidity within the next few years.

November 2000
Shmuel Fennig, MD, Dan Yuval, PhD, Miriam Greenstein, Stanley Rabin, PhD and Michael Weingarten, MA, BM, BCh

Background: The aim of family medicine is to provide patients with comprehensive care within the biopsychosocial model. High job satisfaction is necessary to attract physicians to this specialty

Objective: To compare job satisfaction levels between primary physicians with training in family medicine and physicians without specialty training.

Methods: A self-report questionnaire, the "Task Profiles of General Practitioners in Europe," was mailed to a stratified random sample of 664 primary care physicians in Israel. The response rate was 77.6%. Bivariate and logistic regression procedures were used to analyze the data.

Results: Physicians with training in family medicine were less satisfied with the rewards for their work than general practitioners with no formal specialization in family medicine. Satisfaction with the intrinsic aspects of the work was found to be equal. Women and rural physicians were more satisfied than men and urban physicians.

Conclusion: Measures should be taken by health maintenance organizations to increase the level of job satisfaction of specialist-certified family physicians to avoid a crisis in the profession.
 

Maher Dagash, MD, Farid Nakhoul, MD, Deeb Daoud, MD, Tony Hayek, MD and Jacob Green, MD
October 2000
Zalmzn Kaufman MSc, Irit Cohen-Manheim MSc and Manfred S. Green MD MPH PhD

Background: Although influenza is usually a mild self-limiting disease it can cause serious complications in high risk groups. The economic costs of influenza are large due to the burden on the health system and absenteeism from work. There is evidence that the vaccine is underused in groups targeted for vaccination.

Objectives: To estimate: a) the compliance rate with the influenza vaccination in Israel during the winter seasons of 1998/1999 and 1999/2000, b) the role of health care personnel and the media in influencing compliance, and c) the reasons for lack of compliance in the elderly.      

Methods: Two national population-based random telephone surveys of 1,500 households were performed during October 1999 and January 2000 to survey influenza vaccination compliance prior to the winters of 1998/1999 and 1999/2000 respectively. Each survey was performed during four successive evenings. The response rate was 78.1% for the first survey and 79.1% for the second.

Results: Vaccination compliance was similar in both surveys. The average rate of vaccination was 6% for the population under 65 years and 50% for the population of 65 years and above. The overall vaccination rate was around 10%. The family physician was the main authority to recommend the vaccination, followed by the community nurse. Absence of recommendation and lack of faith in the efficacy of the vaccine were the main reasons for non-compliance.

Conclusion: Compliance rates with influenza vaccine in targeted groups in Israel remain relatively low. Health care personnel should be more involved in promoting the vaccine.
 

April 2000
Click on the icon on the upper right hand side for the article by Joseph Barr, MD, Matitiahu Berkovitch, MD, Hagit Matras, MA, Eran Kocer, MD, Revital Greenberg and Gideon Eshel, MD, published in IMAJ. IMAJ 2000; 2; April; 278-281

Background: For centuries talismans and amulets have been used in many cultures for their legendary healing powers.

Methods: We asked the parents of every child (Jews and Arabs) admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit over a 2 month period to complete a questionnaire, which included demographic data on the patient and the family, the use of talismans or other folk medicine practices, and the perception of the effects of these practices on the patient’s well-being. A different questionnaire was completed by the ICU staff members on their attitude toward the use of amulets.

Results: Thirty percent of the families used amulets and talismans in the ICU, irrespective of the socioeconomic status of the family or the severity of the patient’s illness. Amulets and talismans were used significantly more by religious Jews, by families with a higher parental educational level, and where the hospitalized child was very young. The estimated frequency of amulet use by the children’s families, as perceived by the staff, was significantly higher than actual use reported by the parents. In Jewish families the actual use of amulets was found to be 30% compared to the 60% rate estimated by the medical staff; while in Moslem families the actual use was zero compared to the staff’s estimation of about 36%. Of the 19 staff members, 14 reported that the use of amulets seemed to reduce the parents' anxiety, while 2 claimed that amulet use sometimes interfered with the staff’s ability to carry out medical treatment.  

Conclusions: The use of talismans in a technologically advanced western society is more frequent than may have been thought. Medical and paramedical personnel dealing with very ill patients should be aware of the emotional and psychological implications of such beliefs and practices on patients and their families.

__________________________________

ICU = intensive care unit

March 2000
Amos M. Yinnon MD, Yitzhack Skorohod MD, Yechiel Schlesinger MD and Alan Greenberg BPharm MRPharmS

Background: Cefuroxime is a second-generation cephalosporin antibiotic used widely for the treatment of various infections.

Objectives: To assess the appropriateness of cefuroxime usage as well as the long-term impact of re-feeding the results to prescribing physicians.

Methods: Drug utilization evaluation involved three data-collecting periods, each comprising 6 weeks, during which all patients receiving cefuroxime were evaluated. Results of phase I were distributed to all physicians in a newsletter and departmental lectures; phase II was announced and conducted 6 months later. An identical phase III was unannounced and conducted one year after phase II. The study included all patients receiving cefuroxime during the three phases. The main outcome measure was appropriateness of initiation, and continuation beyond 3 days, of empirical treatment. Appropriateness was determined according to a prepared list of indications based on the literature and the hospital's protocols.

Results: Cefuroxime was initiated appropriately in 104 of 134 patients (78%) in phase I, in 85 of 100 (85%) in phase II, and in 93 of 100 (93%) in phase III (P<0.001). Cefuroxime was continued appropriately after 3 days in 58/134 (43%), 57/100 (57%) and 70/100 (70%) respectively (P<0.001). The total number of appropriate treatment days out of all treatment days increased from 516 of 635 (81%) in phase I, to 450 of 510 (88%) in phase II, to 485 of 509 (95%) in phase III (P<0.001). The principal reason for cefuroxime usage was community-acquired respiratory tract infection.

Conclusion: Drug utilization evaluation may provide valuable data on the usage of a particular drug. This information, once re-fed to physicians, may improve utilization of the particular drug. This positive effect may be prolonged beyond the immediate period of observation.

Tamy Shohat MD, Manfred S. Green MD PhD, Orly Nakar MD, Ami Ballin MD, Poriya Duvdevani PhD, Avital Cohen MD and Mordechai Shohat MD

Background: In trials comparing different formulations of measles vaccine, excess non-specific mortality occurred in female children who received high titer vaccine. These findings suggest a gender-specific effect of measles vaccine.

Objectives: To determine whether gender differences exist in the rates of adverse reactions and morbidity in the month following immunization with measles-containing vaccine, and to evaluate whether there is a gender-specific association between the humoral immune response to measles vaccination and post-vaccination morbidity.

Methods: Parents completed questionnaires on the health status of 755 infants aged 15-20 months, during the month preceding and the month following the measles-mumps-rubella vaccination. Blood samples were tested for measles antibody titers in a subsample of 237 infants.

Results: After controlling background morbidity in the infants, the relative risk of fever and rash following vaccination was 2.35 in females and 1.36 in males. The geometric mean antibody titers against measles were similar in both sexes and there was no significant association between antibody titer and post-vaccination morbidity in either sex.

Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate higher rates of adverse effects in females following vaccination with MMR vaccine, irrespective of the humoral response. This study emphasizes the need to consider possible gender differences when evaluating new vaccines.

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MMR= measles-mumps-rubella

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