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עמוד בית
Thu, 13.06.24

Search results

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

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.


May 2008
M. Shani, J. Dresner, and S. Vinker.

Background: The introduction of more potent statins such as atorvastatin and rosuvastatin in Israel was accompanied by massive advertising about their superiority.

Objectives: To assess the need for switching therapy from older statins to more potent ones among diabetic patients with uncontrolled hypercholesterolemia.

Methods: Data on all diabetic patients over 30 years old attending two urban clinics were extracted and analyzed. For each patient we checked the last low density lipoprotein-cholesterol measurements for the year 2006, the brand and the dose of cholesterol-lowering medications, prescriptions and actual purchasing over a 4 month period prior to the last LDL-C[1] measurement, and whether treatment changes were necessary to achieve the LDL-C target (100 mg/dl or 70 mg/dl).

Results: The study population comprised 630 patients, age 66.7 ± 12.6 years, of whom 338 (53.6%) were women. Of the 533 (84.6%) patients whose LDL-C was measured in 2006, 45 (8.1%) had levels < 70 mg/dl and 184 (33.3%) had levels of 70 mg/dl < LDL-C < 100 m/dl.  The reasons for LDL-C > 100 mg/dl were patients not prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs (38.3%), partial compliance (27.2%), and under-dosage of statins (15.4%); only 7.7% needed to switch to a more potent statin. Reasons for LDL-C > 70 mg/dl were patients not prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs (34.3%), partial compliance (22.0%), and under-dosage of statins (26.6%); only 8.7% needed to switch to a more potent statin.

Conclusions: Only a small minority of diabetic patients with uncontrolled hypercholesterolemia need one of the potent statins as the next treatment step. More emphasis on compliance and dose adjustment is needed to achieve the target LDL-C level.

[1] LDL-C = low density lipoprotein-cholesterol

November 2007
J. Meyerovitch, R. Goldman, H. Avner-Cohen, F. Antebi and M. Sherf

Background: The prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents in the western world has increased dramatically.

Objective: To assess the efficiency of routine childhood obesity screening by primary physicians in the pediatric population in Israel and the utilization of health services by overweight children.

Methods: The electronic medical records of children aged 60–83 months registered in 39 pediatric primary care centers between January 2001 and October 2004 (n=21,799) were reviewed. Those in whom height and weight were documented during a clinic visit (index visit) were classified as overweight, at risk of overweight, and normal weight by body mass index percentiles. The number of visits to the pediatrician, laboratory tests and health care costs 12 months after the index visit were calculated.

Results: Anthropomorphic measurements were performed in 1556 of the 15,364 children (10.1%) who visited the clinic during the study period. Of these, 398 (25.6%) were overweight, 185 (11.9%) were at risk of overweight, and 973 (62.5%) were normal weight. Children in the first two groups visited the clinic slightly more often than the third group, but the differences was not statistically significant (P = 0.12), and had significantly more laboratory tests than the rest of the children visiting the clinics (P = 0.053). Health care costs were 6.6% higher for the overweight than the normal-weight children.

Conclusions: Electronic medical records are a useful tool for population-based health care assessments. Current screening for obesity in children during routine care in Israel is insufficient and additional education of community pediatricians in diagnosis and intervention is urgently needed.


September 2007
K. Thomas, J. Yaphe and A. Matalon

Background: Smoking continues to be the most significant preventable  cause of morbidity and early mortality in the developed world. Primary care physicians are not fufilling their potentially vital and effective role regarding tobacco use and dependence.

Objectives: To evaluate current primary care physician practise in promoting smoking cessation.

Methods: This observational study evaluated physician recording of smoking status by analysis of patients’ electronic medical records. The 126 primary care physicians were based in 23 Tel Aviv clinics treating 144, 811 patients. We also assessed additional physician anti-smoking activities by telephone questionnaire of 178 randomly selected patients.

Results: Analysis of the EMRs[1] revealed that an average of 4.4% of patients per physician were recorded as smokers (as compared to a known smoking rate in this patient population of 24%). Male physicians recorded a significantly higher proportion of their patients as smokers in the EMR compared to female physicians (P < 0.05). A non-significantly higher rate of recording smokers was found in doctors who had completed postgraduate specialization in family medicine as compared to non-specialists. The questionnaire results show that 41% of patients interviewed recalled being asked if they smoked and 31% of smoking patients had been advised to quit. A non-significantly higher proportion of male as compared to female patients reported being questioned if they smoked, and if they were smokers, being advised to quit.

Conclusions: This study shows low rates of physician intervention to promote smoking cessation. It appears that a large proportion of the primary care physicians surveyed do not follow recommendations to promote smoking cessation among their patients. Intervention among adolesent smokers was particularly inadequate. Further action is needed to improve the performance of physicians in aiding smoking cessation.

[1] EMR = electronic medical record

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 2007
G. Geulayov, J. Lipsitz, R. Sabar and R. Gross

Background: Depression is a leading cause of morbidity, disability and health care utilization. It is commonly encountered in primary care settings yet is often missed or suboptimally managed.

Objective: To summarize studies conducted in Israel on the prevalence of depression in primary care settings, its correlates, and predictors of treatment and outcome, and to discuss their implications for clinical practice and public health policy.

Methods: An electronic search was conducted using the MEDLINE and PsychINFO databases. The inclusion criteria were original studies that assessed aspects of depression in a population aged 18 or older, were conducted in primary care settings in Israel, and with sufficient detailed description of depression-related measures, study sample and outcome measures. Twelve articles reporting results from 7 studies met these criteria.

Results: The prevalence of current depression in primary care varied considerably across studies: 1.6–5.9% for major depression, 1.1–5.4% for minor depression, 14.3–24% for depressive symptoms. Depression was consistently related to female gender and few years of education, and was associated with disability, decreased quality of life, and increased health-related expenditure. Many cases of depression were undiagnosed and most patients had persistent depression or achieved only partial remission.

Conclusions: Depression represents a serious challenge for the primary health care system in Israel. Greater efforts should be focused on screening and treating depression in primary care. However, the studies reviewed here used different methodologies and assessed different aspects of depression, and, therefore, should be generalized cautiously. Systematic research on the prevalence, correlates and management of depression in primary care, with emphasis on collaborative care models, is strongly needed to inform research, clinicians and health care policy makers.


July 2007
O.Kalter-Leibovici, A.Atamna, F.Lubin, G.Alpert, M.Gillon Keren, H.Murad A.Chetrit, D.Goffer, S.Eilat-Adar, and U.Goldbourt

Background: Arabs in Israel have high morbidity and mortality from diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity is a risk factor for both conditions.

Objectives: To investigate the prevalence of obesity (body mass index > 30 kg/m2), subjects' knowledge and behaviors, and their reports on practices of health-care professionals regarding body weight among Arabs and Jews.

Methods: The study participants (n=880) were randomly sampled from the urban population of the Hadera district in Israel. Data on demographic, socioeconomic and lifestyle characteristics; reports on height, current body weight and body weight at the age of 18 years; knowledge and behavior; and health-care professionals' practices with regard to body weight were obtained by interview. Anthropometric measurements were performed subsequently.

Results: Information on BMI[1] was available on 868 participants (49% Arabs, 49% women, median age 46 years). Although the median BMI did not differ significantly between Arabs and Jews at age 18, the prevalence of current obesity was 52% in Arab women compared to 31% in Jewish women (P < 0.001), and 25% in Arab men compared to 23% in Jewish men (P = 0.6). On multivariate analysis, obesity was significantly associated with age, BMI at the age of 18 years, leisure time physical activity and cigarette smoking, but not with ethnicity. Fewer Arabs reported measuring their body weight and Arab women were less frequently advised to maintain an active lifestyle.

Conclusions: The high prevalence of obesity among Arab women may be explained by lifestyle characteristics. Prevention of obesity in Arabs should be directed at women and should start preferably before adulthood.

[1] BMI = body mass index

February 2007
D. Heymann, Y. Shilo, A. Tirosh, L. Valinsky, S. Vinker

Background: In 2003 a total of 43 soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces committed suicide; only 20% of them were known to the IDF[1] mental health services. Somatic symptoms are often the only presentation of emotional distress during the primary care visit and may be the key to early identification and treatment.

Objectives: To examine whether the information in the medical records of soldiers can be used to identify those suffering from anxiety, affective or somatoform disorder.

Methods: We conducted a case-control study using the information in the electronic medical records of soldiers who during their 3 year service developed affective disorder, anxiety, or somatoform disorder. A control group was matched for recruitment date, type of unit and occupation in the service, and the Performance Prediction Score. The number and reasons for physician visits were collated.

Results: The files of 285 soldiers were examined: 155 cases and 130 controls. The numbers of visits (mean SD) during the 3 and 6 month periods in the case and control groups were 4.7 ± 3.3 and 7.1 ± 5.0, and 4.1 ± 2.9 and 5.9 ± 4.6 respectively. The difference was statistically significant only for the 6 month period (P < 0.05). The variables that remained significant, after stepwise multivariate regression were the Performance Prediction Score and the presenting complaints of back pain and diarrhea.

Conclusions: These findings may spur the development of a computer-generated warning for the primary care physician who will then be able to interview his or her patient appropriately and identify mental distress earlier. 

[1] IDF = Israel Defense Force

September 2006
N. Roguin Maor, S. Sayag, R. Dahan and D. Hermoni

Background: Israeli youth lead 27 western countries in dieting. The prevalence of eating disorders has been rising in the last 30 years, causing social problems and medical complications.

Objectives: To examine the prevalence of eating disorders among high school students in a region in northern Israel (Misgav) and to examine the relationship between the parents' employment status and the subject’s eating disorder.

Methods: A structured questionnaire was administered to collect demographic data. The short version of the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) was used to evaluate the subject’s attitudes toward and preoccupation with food, dieting, eating, physical appearance, and personal control over eating.

Results: Of 360 students approached, 283 (78%) completed the self-report EAT-26. One of every 5 females and one in every 20 males had an abnormal eating attitude. The rate of pathologic EAT-26[1] results, 20.8%, falls within the high range of similar community-based samples of female adolescents. There were no differences in EAT-26 score between students with an employed or unemployed mother; however, there was a trend for higher EAT-26 scores among those whose father was unemployed (21.4% vs. 12.7%, c2  = 0.14).

Conclusions: The findings support our hypothesis of a relatively high rate of abnormal eating attitudes (as reflected by high EAT-26 score) in this population. Another possible risk factor is having an unemployed father, which warrants further research and attention. Our next step is to introduce an intervention program in the school and to study its effect.

[1] EAT-26 = Eating Attitudes Test

June 2006
R. Rosenberg, S. Vinker, J. Yaphe and S. Nakar
 Background: Maintaining a death register and holding staff discussions about patients who died can aid the physician in audit and research, which will lead to improved care of the terminally ill and the bereaved and to the development of prevention strategies. These issues are important for students and residents as well.

Objectives: To review the value of mortality-case discussions in primary care clinics, particularly teaching clinics.

Methods: The clinic death register, instituted in 1998, includes age, gender, cause of death, place of death, relevant illnesses, and support provided to the patient before the death. In the half-yearly sessions, the data are reviewed, and individual cases that had an emotional impact on the staff, or information that can bring about changes in future care are discussed by the clinic staff and trainees.

Results: In our clinic 233 deaths occurred during a 6 year period (1998–2003). The crude all-cause mortality rate was 7.1/1000. The median age was 80 years old. Neoplastic causes were slightly more frequent than cardiovascular causes of death. Only 15% died at home; 20% lived alone and 70% lived with a spouse or family members before the death. Topics discussed in the mortality review meetings include identifying pre-suicidal patients, when to hospitalize the sick elderly, dealing with the anger of bereaved families, and ensuring proper home care for terminal patients.

Conclusions: We recommend keeping a death register and conducting mortality review sessions in order to improve the quality of care, emotional support of the staff, and training students and residents about the complex issues surrounding the death of patients.

S. Eilat-Tsanani, A. Merom, S. Romano, A. Reshef, I. Lavi and H. Tabenkin
 Background: Postpartum depression is a well-known phenomenon that occurs in about 10% of births and affects the quality of life of the mother as well as the family. As in other cases of depression, under-diagnosis of PPD[1] may keep patients from getting proper care and increase their physical and emotional distress.

Objectives: To identify patients with PPD and to describe their consultation patterns with primary care physicians for themselves and their babies.

Methods: Using a telephone survey and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale questionnaire we identified PPD in a sample of women who gave birth in HaEmek Medical Center. We also assessed the extent to which the women consulted with family physicians, gynecologists and/or pediatricians.

Results: The survey included 574 women, of whom 9.9% were diagnosed with PPD. There was a higher rate of PPD among Arab compared to Jewish women, among women with a prior history of depression, among women whose pregnancy was unplanned, among those who described the course of pregnancy as “difficult,” and among women who described their general health as “not good.” Women with PPD consulted more with family physicians and pediatricians. The reasons for the consultations are physical and emotional. There were cases of somatization manifested directly by the mother or indirectly through the baby.

Conclusions: Women with PPD have higher consultation rates than those without. By asking a few simple questions it is possible to identify a significant proportion of women with PPD.


[1] PPD = postpartum depression

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.”

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