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עמוד בית
Thu, 13.06.24

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September 2005
D. Golan, M. Zagetzki and S. Vinker
Background: Acute respiratory viral infections are minor self-limited diseases. Studies have shown that patients with ARVI[1] can be treated as effectively by non-physician practitioners as by physicians.

Objectives: To examine whether a military medic, using a structured questionnaire and an algorithm, can appropriately triage patients to receive over-the-counter medications and refer more complicated cases to a physician.

Methods: The study group comprised 190 consecutive soldiers who presented to a military primary care clinic with symptoms of ARVI. Using a questionnaire, a medic recorded the patient's history and measured oral temperature, pulse rate and blood pressure. All patients were referred to a doctor. Physicians were “blind” to the medic’s anamnesis and to the algorithm diagnosis. We compared the medic’s anamnesis and therapeutic decisions to those of the doctors.

Results: Patients were young (21.1 ± 3.7 years) and generally healthy (93% without background illness). They usually had a minor disease (64% without fever), which was mostly diagnosed as viral ARVI (83% of cases). Ninety-nine percent were also examined by a physician. According to the patients' data, the medics showed high overall agreement with the doctors (83–97.9%). The proposed algorithm could have saved 37% of referrals to physicians, with a sensitivity of 95.2%. Had the medics been allowed to examine the pharynx for an exudate, the sensitivity might have been 97.6%.

Conclusions: Medics, equipped with a questionnaire and algorithm but without special training and without performing a physical examination, can appropriately triage patients and thereby reduce the number of referrals to physicians.

________________

[1] ARVI = acute respiratory viral infection

June 2005
M.A. Abdul-Ghani, J. Kher, N. Abbas and T. Najami
 Background: Type 2 diabetes is usually associated with obesity, and both conditions are frequently detected in the Arab population in Israel. Recent studies have demonstrated that diabetes can be prevented by a change in lifestyle.

Objective: To assess the prevalence of diabetes in an Arab community, the contribution of obesity to diabetes development, and the therapeutic potential of a preventive program.

Methods: Data were obtained from the medical files of diagnosed diabetes patients attending a primary care clinic in an Arab village in northern Israel.

Results: Type 2 diabetes was diagnosed in 323 patients of whom 63% were women. The prevalence of diabetes below age 65 years was significantly higher among women than men. Diabetic women were younger than men at diagnosis (48.27 vs. 59.52 respectively) and were found to have higher body mass index (34.35 vs. 30.04 respectively) at diagnosis. The age at diagnosis of diabetes was strongly correlated with BMI[1] (r = 0.97, P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Women of Arab origin are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to men. Obesity in women seems to be associated with higher diabetes risk as well as earlier appearance of the disease. Therefore, they will have the disease for longer and, consequently, a higher risk for complications.


 





[1] BMI = body mass index


March 2005
E. Zimlichman, D. Mandel, F.B. Mimouni, S. Vinker, I. Kochba, Y. Kreiss and A. Lahad
Background: The health system of the medical corps of the Israel Defense Force is based primarily upon primary healthcare. In recent years, health management organizations have considered the primary care physician responsible for assessing the overall health needs of the patient and, accordingly, introduced the term “gatekeeper.”

Objectives: To describe and analyze how PCPs[1] in the IDF[2] view their roles as primary care providers and to characterize how they perceive the quality of the medical care that they provide.

Methods: We conducted a survey using a questionnaire that was mailed or faxed to a representative sample of PCPs. The questionnaire included demographic background, professional background, statements on self-perception issues, and ranking of roles as a PCP in the IDF.

Results: Statements concerning commitment to the patient were ranked higher than statements concerning commitment to the military organization. Most physicians perceive the quality of the medical care service that they provide as high; they also stated that they do not receive adequate continuous medical education.

Conclusions: Our survey shows that PCPs in the IDF, like civilian family physicians, perceive their primary obligation as serving the needs of their patients but are yet to take on the full role of “gatekeepers” in the IDF’s healthcare system. We conclude that the Medical Corps should implement appropriate steps to ensure that PCPs are prepared to take on a more prominent role as “gatekeepers” and providers of high quality primary medical care.

__________________

[1] PCP = primary care physician

[2] IDF = Israel Defense Force

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.
 

February 2004
A.D. Heymann, J. Azuri, E. Kokia, S.M. Monnickendam, M. Shapiro and G. Shalev

The complexity of medical problems is a well-recognized phenomenon. In the presence of economic and cultural restrictions, medical decision-making can be particularly challenging. This paper outlines a system of analysis and decision-making for solving such problems, and briefly describes a case study in which the method was used to analyze the case of antibiotic overprescribing in a large health maintenance organization. The purpose of the study was to determine if a technique for problem-solving in the field of engineering could be applied to the complex problems facing primary care. The method is designated Systematic Inventive Thinking and consists of a three-step procedure: problem reformulation, general search-strategy selection, and an application of idea-provoking techniques. The problem examined is the over-prescribing of antibiotics by general practitioners working in Maccabi Healthcare Services, an HMO[1] serving one and a half million patients in Israel. The group of healthcare professionals involved in the discussions generated 117 ideas for improving antibiotic use. Six of these ideas were then implemented in a national campaign in the winter of 2000/1 and 2001/2. During this period, a significant reduction in per-visit antibiotic purchasing was observed for influenza visits (from 79.2 per 1,000 to 58.1 per 1,000, P < .0001), but not for other categories of visits. The SIT[2] methodology is a useful technique for problem-solving and idea generation within the medical framework.






[1] HMO = health maintenance organization



[2] SIT = systemic inventive thinking


May 2003
A. Lahad, V. Anshelevitz, M. Sonnenblick and T. Dwolatzky

Background: With the aging of the population and the increase in the number of elderly patients under the care of primary care physicians in the community, it is essential that the physician be aware of the preventive medicine recommendations for this group of patients. Accepted evidence-based guidelines have been developed for the older patient and adherence to these guidelines may play a significant role in decreasing morbidity and mortality in the elderly.

Objectives: To determine whether elderly patients in community clinics are aware of the preventive medicine practices that are relevant and available to them, and to assess which factors influence their decision to use such interventions. Of particular interest was to evaluate the role of the doctor-patient relationship on the degree of patient compliance with preventive procedures.

Methods: Patients attending community clinics of the Clalit Health Services in Jerusalem were interviewed. Background information was obtained and the patients were questioned regarding the use of the following preventive medicine recommendations: screening for occult blood in the stool, testing of vision and hearing, influenza and pneumococcal immunization, thyroid-stimulating hormone testing, digital rectal examination for prostate cancer, and calcium supplementation. The patients were questioned regarding the use of aspirin or oral anticoagulation where relevant. Factors influencing their level of compliance were examined.

Results: The study group comprised 205 patients with an average age of 74.5 years. Overall the rates of compliance were high, with 78% undergoing visual assessment, 87% fecal occult blood testing, and 81% influenza immunization. Pneumococcal immunization had been administered to 49% of those interviewed and 56% had their hearing tested. Digital rectal examination had been performed in 45% of patients. Calcium supplementation was used in 60% of patients. Almost all the patients (91–100%) noted that the physician had initiated the procedure and that non-compliance was due to patient preferences. Of the 172 patients who were assumed to benefit from aspirin use, 153 (89%) used the medication, and 87% of 23 patients with atrial fibrillation were on chronic anticoagulation.

Conclusions: A high level of compliance with preventive medicine recommendations was found among this group of elderly patients. The doctor-patient relationship had a positive effect on the patients' compliance.
 

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


July 2002
Adi Yagur, MD, Alexander Grinshpoon, MD and Alexander Ponizovsky, MD, PhD

Background: The threat to the individual’s physical integrity and well-being as well as to those of significant others, the disruption of normal patterns of life, and property losses make wartime a highly stressful condition.

Objectives: To assess the level of psychological distress in primary care attenders in a district of Jerusalem (Gilo) that experienced long-term exposure to gunfire.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire exploring emotional distress (anxiety and depression symptoms), fire exposure, patterns of help-seeking behavior, and prescription of sedative or hypnotic drugs was administered to a sample of 125 consecutive attenders to a general practitioner during a 10 week period in the autumn of 2001. Eighty-four attenders residing in Gilo were compared with 41 attenders residing in neighborhoods that had not been under fire. T-tests and Mann-Whitney two-sample tests were used to determine statistical significance of differences.

Results: The mean distress score was significantly higher among the Gilo residents than among their counterparts in other neighborhoods (1.1 ± 0.8 vs. 0.8 ± 0.5, t = 1.73, P <0.01); 15.5% of the former reported probable clinically significant distress. Emotional distress was associated with periods of intensive gunfire exposure, psychological care-seeking behavior, and the prescription of sedative or hypnotic drugs. No significant differences in distress levels were found between those living in zones of Gilo that were at differential gunfire risk, nor between those whose houses and cars were or were not damaged.

Conclusions: War-related life events would seem to be associated with elevated emotional distress. A motivated primary care physician could easily and reliably ascertain the attenders’ psychological status and identify those requiring psychological support. These identification and intervention stages are facilitated if the specialized services are community-based.

June 2002
E. Michael Sarrell, MD, Avigdor Mandelberg, MD, Herman Avner Cohen, MD and Ernesto Kahan, MD, MPH

Background: Primary care physicians' adherence to accepted asthma guidelines is necessary for the proper care of asthma patients.

Objectives: To investigate the compliance of primary care physicians with clinical guidelines for asthma treatment and their participation in related educational programs, and to evaluate the influence of their employment status.

Methods: A questionnaire was administered to a random sample of 1,000 primary care practitioners (pediatricians and family physicians) in Israel.

Results: The response rate was 64%. Of the physicians who participated, 473 (75%) had read and consulted the guidelines but only 192 (29%) had participated in an educational program on asthma management in the last 12 months. The younger the responding physician (fewer years in practice), the more likely his/her attendance in such a program (P<0.0001). After consulting the guidelines 189 physicians (40%) had modified their treatment strategies. Significantly more self-employed than salaried physicians had read the guidelines and participated in educational programs; physicians who were both self-employed and salaried fell somewhere between these groups. This trend was not influenced by years in practice.

Conclusions: All primary care physicians should update their knowledge more often. The publication of guidelines on asthma must be followed by their proper dissemination and utilization. Our study suggests that major efforts should be directed at the population of employed physicians.

December 2001
Hava Tabenkin MD, Revital Gross, Shuli Bramli Greenberg, Dov Steinmetz MD and Asher Elhayany MD MP

Background: The rapidly increasing costs of healthcare pose a major challenge to many governments, particularly those of developed countries. Health policy makers in some Western European countries have adopted the policy of a strong primary healthcare system, partly due to their recognition of the value of primary care medicine as a means to restrain costs while maintaining the quality and equity of healthcare services. In these countries there is a growing comprehension that the role of the family physician should be central, with responsibility for assessing the overall health needs of the individual, for coordination of medical care and, as the primary caregiver, for most of the individual’s medical problems in the framework of the family and the community.

Objectives: To describe primary care physicians in Israel from their own perception, health policy makers' opinion on the role PCPs should play, and patients' view on their role as gatekeepers.

Methods: The study was based on three research tools: a) a questionnaire mailed to a representative sample of all PCPs employed by the four sick funds in Israel in 1997, b) in-depth semi-structured interviews with key professionals and policy makers in the healthcare system, and c) a national telephone survey of a random representative sample of patients conducted in 1997.

Results: PCPs were asked to rank the importance of 12 primary functions. A total of 95% considered coordination of all patient care to be a very important function, but only 43% thought that weighing economic considerations in patient management is important, and 30.6% thought that 24 hour responsibility for patients is important. Also, 60% of PCPs have undergone specialty training and 94% thought that this training is essential. With regard to the policy makers, most preferred highly trained PCPs (board-certified family physicians, pediatricians and internists) and believed they should play a central role in the healthcare system, acting as coordinators, highly accessible and able to weigh cost considerations. Yet, half opposed a full gatekeeper model. They also felt that the general population has lost faith in PCPs, and that most have a low status and do not have adequate training. Regarding the patients’ viewpoint, 40% preferred that the PCP function as their “personal physician” coordinating all aspects of their care and fully in charge of their referrals; 30% preferred self-referral to sub-specialists, and 19% preferred their PCP to coordinate their care but wanted to be able to refer themselves to specialists.

Conclusions: In order to maintain high quality primary care, it is important that all PCPs have board certification. In addition, PCP training systems should emphasize preventive medicine, health promotion, health economy, and cost-effectiveness issues. Efforts should be make to render PCPs a central role in the healthcare system by gradually implementing the elements of the gatekeeper model through incentives rather than regulations.
 

Mirta Grynbaum MD, Aya Biderman MD, Amalia Levy PhD MPH and Selma Petasne-Weinstock MD

Background: Domestic violence is a prevalent problem with serious consequences, including a 30% risk of death. The lifetime prevalence ranges from 21 to 34%, with 8–14% of them reporting abuse in the previous year. The incidence seen in primary care practice is about 8%. Despite this high rate, domestic violence is under-diagnosed in primary care.

Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of domestic violence among women visiting a primary care center, to characterize them and to evaluate a screening tool.

Methods: A brief anonymous questionnaire (in Hebrew and Russian) for self-completion was used as a screening tool. During October 1998 we distributed the questionnaires in a primary care clinic in Beer Sheva to all women aged 18–60 years whose health permitted their participation. A woman was considered at high risk for domestic violence when she gave a positive answer to at least one of the three questions related to violence. The risk factors for domestic violence were calculated by odds ratio with 95% confidence intervals.

Results: The response rate was 95.7%. We found 41 women (30.8%) at high risk for violence. Women preferred talking about this issue with their family physician. Women at highest risk were older than 40 years, had emigrated from the former Soviet Union during the last 10 years, were living alone, and were unemployed. None of the women visited the Domestic Violence Center during the study period and 2 months thereafter. Only three women tore off the address and phone number of the center that were attached to the questionnaire.

Conclusions: The anonymous questionnaire was well accepted and had a high compliance rate. Its disadvantages are that respondents must be literate and that it permits the woman to continue with her “secret-keeping” behavior. A high prevalence of domestic violence among women visiting a primary care clinic should convince family physicians to be more active in diagnosing the problem accurately among their patients, providing treatment and preventing further deterioration and possible danger. Further effort should be directed at improving the clinic staff's ability to detect domestic violence among patients, and in developing management programs in the health system to help combat domestic violence.

Yaacov Fogelman MD and Ernesto Kahan MD MPH

Background: The prevalence of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and its pharmacologic treatment have increased dramatically in the past decade in the United States and Britain. We examined the use of methylphenidate hydrochloride for the treatment of ADHD in children in northern Israel.

Methods: We evaluated all prescriptions for methylphenidate filled in 1999 for children aged 5–18 years residing in northern Israel who were insured by Clalit Health Services, a health maintenance organization that covers approximately 70% of the population.

Results: Methylphenidate was prescribed to 1.45% of the children in northern Israel in 1999, an increase of 20% in the overall prevalence of methylphenidate use since 1992. Eighty-two percent were boys. The rate of prescription varied widely by type of settlement, from 0.2% in Arab cities and towns to 5.7% in kibbutzim. Primary care physicians wrote 78% of all the prescriptions.

Conclusions: The increase in methylphenidate use was much smaller in northern Israel than in most other developed regions and countries. More efforts at diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit disorders may need to be directed at Arab populations and those with inadequate medical services.

Asher Elhayany, MD

One of the most important issuesfor a country, its population and doctors is the effective use of its health system. The tremendous waste of resources. To combat this, and at the same time ensure that medical quality plays a role when making decisions on interventions, it is essential to equip doctors and clinic directors with information on the quality of the medical care they are providing. In order to assist clinic directors in maitaining medical quality, Clalit Health Services has developed comparative medical indices enabling doctors to compare their performance to that of their colleagues, as well as to the standard and their performance over time. The development of an index to evaluate the quality of medical treatment offered in clinics provides doctors and the health system with an essential tool to lessen the existing variation among doctors and to enhance and evaluate performance.

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