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עמוד בית
Tue, 16.07.24

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September 2015
Uri Yoel MD, Jacob Gopas PhD, Janet Ozer PhD, Roni Peleg MD and Pesach Shvartzman MD

Background: In recent years several reports have been published describing dogs’ ability to detect, by scent, patients with cancer. This ability is based on the sniffing of volatile organic elements that are secreted by malignant cells, react to them. 

Objectives: To evaluate the ability of trained dogs to detect (i) breast cancer cell cultures (MCF7) compared to the control pseudo-normal keratinocyte cell line (HaCaT), and then (ii) melanoma (BG) and (iii) type 2 epithelial lung carcinoma (A549) malignant cell cultures to which they were not previously exposed in the course of their training.

Methods: Cell cultures were prepared in a standard manner. Two Belgian Shepherd dogs were trained and then tested in a single-blind test (for dogs and trainers) on their ability to detect the "target specimen," a MCF7 breast cancer cell culture. Following this, the ability of the dogs to detect cancer cell cultures that they were not previously exposed to (i.e., A549, BG) was tested. In each test round, four specimens placed in identical blocks were arranged in a line with one meter between them: one target specimen (MCF7, A549, BG), two control specimens (HaCaT), and a sample containing cell culture medium only.

Results: The two dogs picked out all the target specimens of MCF7 breast cancer cell cultures that they were trained to detect (10/10) as well as all the target specimens that they were not previously exposed to [A549 (5/5) and BG (5/5)], but did not pick out the control specimens or the cell culture medium. Thus, the sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for both dogs were 100%.

Conclusions: The results of this study support the assumption that cancer cells have a unique odor pattern, and that this odor pattern is common to different types of cancer.

 

August 2013
L. Goldberg, J. Dreiher, M. Friger, A. Levin and P. Shvartzman
 Background: The Qassam rocket attacks on southern Israel during the years 2000–2007 created a unique situation of life under a continuous threat. The effect of this unique situation on health services utilization has not been previously evaluated.

Objectives: To evaluate health utilization patterns in two primary care clinics in southern Israel: one under continuous attacks of Qassam rockets as compared with a similar clinic not under a rocket threat.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study in two primary care clinics in southern Israel, with 11,630 persons listed in the two clinics during the entire study period. The primary outcome measures were total annual number of visits per person to the clinic and for specific diagnoses, and the number of drug prescriptions issued, emergency room (ER) visits, hospitalization days, cardiac catheterizations and coronary bypass surgeries.

Results: In both clinics there was an increase over time in the mean annual number of visits per person. During the years of severe attacks there was an increase in visits with a chief complaint of depression and anxiety and an increase in the number of anxiolytic prescriptions in the study clinic compared with the control. During the same period there was a decrease in the number of ER visits in the study clinic compared with the control.

Conclusions: The population under continuous life-threatening events showed more depression and anxiety problems. Under severe bombardment, the residents prefer not to leave home, unless necessary.

 

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.

February 2012
V. Semionov, Y. Singer and P. Shvartzman

Background: The prevalence and severity of the most troublesome symptoms in terminally ill patients are well known and have been studied in many settings. However, these symptoms change during the course of advanced disease.

Objectives: To evaluate the range and trajectory of symptoms in the final stage of life as measured a month prior to death.

Methods: Patients with an expected prognosis of less than 6 months were recruited for the study. Excluded were non-Hebrew or Russian speakers, and patients with a diagnosis of brain tumor or with cognitive impairment. A structured questionnaire was used to interview patients and their caregivers at home every 2 weeks until death. We present a comparison analysis of 45 patients who completed both interviews 2 and 4 weeks before death.

Results: There were five symptoms (fatigue, pain, reduced well-being, lack of appetite, somnolence) that were reported most frequently, occurring in more than 70% of the patients. Most of the symptoms showed a worsening trend towards death.

Conclusions: Assessing the presence and severity of symptoms as a guide to start or modify treatment is recommended. Knowledge of how symptoms change in the final stage of life could better assist in the management of resources and could help patients and their families in their final preparations.

November 2011
A. Mashal, A. Katz and P. Shvartzman

Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in adults and is associated with increased mortality and morbidity.

Objectives: To characterize patients diagnosed with AF in primary care clinics in southern Israel.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study in 14 primary care clinics of the largest health insurance fund in Israel, reviewing the electronic medical records of adults aged ≥ 25 years diagnosed with AF. The prevalence, evaluation, antithrombotic treatment and treatments for rate control/rhythm control were analyzed.

Results: We retrieved the records of 995 patients with a diagnosis of AF; the prevalence of AF was 1.5% (2.5% aged ≥ 45 years). The patients’ mean age was 73.5 ± 1.4 years and 55.3% were female. Vitamin K antagonist (VKA) was prescribed for 591 patients (59%), of whom 8.5% had no international normalized ratio follow-up tests for at least 3 months before our review. Among patients in the VKA treatment group the risk for thromboembolic events was considered to be high, moderate and low in 22% (n=131), 66% (n=391) and 12% (n=69), respectively. Patients with a low Congestive Hypertension Age Diabetes Stroke (CHADS2) score (odds ratio = 0.555, 95% confidence interval 0.357–0.862) and patients who did not receive VKA (OR[1] = 0.601, 95% CI[2] 0.459–0.787) received significantly less rate-control treatment. Of the patients with a low CHADS2 score (< 1) 52.7% received VKA treatment, and 39.4% with a high CHADS2 score (≥ 3) did not receive VKA. A positive correlation between anticoagulation and rate or rhythm control was found.

Conclusions: The prevalence and age distribution of AF in southern Israel are similar to findings in the western world. Many of the patients did not receive appropriate antithrombotic prophylaxis.






[1] OR = odds ratio



[2] CI = confidence interval


November 2009
A. Neville, Z. Liss, A. Lahad, B. Porter and P. Shvartzman

Background: Low back pain is a common problem managed by primary care physicians and orthopedic specialists.

Objectives: To evaluate the outcome of new LBP[1] episodes in patients who chose to visit either an orthopedist or a general practitioner.

Methods: All patients visiting the orthopedist or physician during the study period were screened for a new complaint of LBP. After the initial visit the patients were interviewed by phone by means of a structured questionnaire, with a follow-up interview one month later. The study was performed at Clalit Health Services primary care and consultation clinics. A random sample of 125 GPs[2] and 17 orthopedists were chosen. Consecutively recruited were 166 patients who visited the GP and 75 the orthopedist. The main outcome measures evaluated were perceived complaint severity and degree of disturbance to everyday functioning, problem resolution, and health services utilization.

Results: Patients who decided to first visit the orthopedist indicated a higher disturbance to everyday functioning (75% vs. 70%, P < 0.01), were invited for further follow-up visits (6% vs. 51%, P < 0.05) and had more computed tomography and bone scans (20 vs. 3%, P < 0.001 and 9 vs. 2%, P < 0.05, respectively). Health status after one month showed that patients who chose the GP were more likely to have their problem solved (36 vs. 17%, P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Symptom resolution for a new LBP complaint was significantly higher in patients who decided on the GP, even when controlling for severity of illness and degree of disturbance to everyday functioning.






[1] LBP = low back pain



[2] GP = general practitioner


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


October 2008
A. Neville, R. Peleg, Y. Singer, M. Sherf and P. Shvartzman

Background: The prevalence of chronic pain in the general population ranges from 10% to over 40%, depending on the definition and the population studied. No large study has been conducted in Israel.

Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of patients with chronic pain, and characterize them in a large community random sample.

Methods: We conducted a survey of Clalit Health Services members, interviewing them by phone. A random sample of 4063 Clalit members, 25 years or older and Hebrew speakers, were screened for chronic pain, defined as: any pain or discomfort that in the last 6 months has persisted continuously or intermittently for more than 3 months.

Results: Eight percent (n=325) refused to participate. Of the 3738 included in the study, 1722 (46%) reported chronic pain in at least one site. Most of the patients were over 50 years old (62%) (mean age 56 ± 16, range 27–97 years). Women suffered significantly more than men, as did those who were older, less educated and born in Israel and Eastern Europe. Prevalent painful sites were the back (32%), limbs (17%) and head (13%). More than a third reported severe pain and impaired life activities. Only 4.8% of the patients suffering from chronic pain were referred to pain specialists and 11% used complementary medicine. A logistic regression model showed that women and patients with lower education level were the only significant variables predicting higher life impact index and higher pain severity.

Conclusions: We found a high prevalence of chronic pain in the study population. Chronic pain causes severe disturbance to quality of life. A low rate of referral to pain specialists and complementary medicine was observed.

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 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.

July 2001
Pesach Shvartzman, MD, Howard Tandeter, MD, Aya Peleg, MD, Hava Tabenkin, MD, Nakar Sasson, MD and Jeffrey Borkan, MD, PhD

Background: Lower urinary tract symptoms are highly prevalent in older men, have been shown to affect men’s quality of life, and may be associated with more serious outcomes.

Objectives: To determine the prevalence of LUTS among men aged 50 years or older registered at family practice centers in Israel and to assess the effect of these complaints on different aspects of their life.

Methods: In a random sample cohort of men aged 50 years and older, fluent in Hebrew, drawn from those registered in four family clinics in Israel, patients identified with LUTS were interviewed by phone using a structured questionnaire.

Results: The prevalence of LUTS in our study was 21%. Less than a third of these patients had low severity LUTS (28%), 59% were rated moderate, and 13% had severe symptoms. Age had a positive correlation with the severity of LUTS, and increasing severity of symptoms had a negative effect on the daily function and quality of life of patients.

Conclusions: Our community-based study shows that LUTS is a common finding among men above the age of 50 (21%) and has a significant negative effect on their quality of life and daily function. Knowledge of these data should make primary care physicians more aware of this common problem and thus improve the treatment and quality of life of these patients by better identification and prompt treatment.

September 2000
Pesach Shvartzman, MD, Elena Rivkind, MD, Anat Neville, MBA, Michael Friger, PhD and Ami D. Sperber, MD, MSPH,

Background: First-degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients are the largest groups of individuals at increased risk for colorectal cancer.

Objective: To assess the knowledge, attitudes and behavior to disease prevention and colorectal cancer screening among first-degree relatives of colon cancer patients.

Methods: A descriptive, point-prevalence epidemiological study was conducted among 215 first-degree relatives of survivors of colorectal cancer in the southern (Negev) region of Israel. Variables included perceived health status, knowledge about cancer screening, compliance rates with colorectal cancer screening, and interest in participation in early detection programs in the future.

Results: The mean age of the respondents was 47.9111.2 years, and 54% were males. Only 58 (27%) remembered having been encouraged to undergo an early detection test. In the previous year only 15% underwent fecal occult blood tests, while 9% had a barium enema and 14% an endoscopic examination of the colon by sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. A total of 49% of the asymptomatic respondents were unaware of recommendations for screening, and only 38.3% expressed any interest in participating in early detection programs in the future. Only 19% of respondents over the age of 50 and 8% of respondents over age 60 were interested in participating compared with 49% under the age of 50 (P0.0001).

Conclusion: A minority of first-degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients reported having been counseled to undergo screening, although most had seen their family physician in the previous 3 years. Primary care physicians should be more active in informing at-risk patients and encouraging them to undergo periodic screening.

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