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עמוד בית
Mon, 15.07.24

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April 2021
Michal Vinker-Shuster MD, Ephraim S. Grossman PhD, and Yonatan Yeshayahu MD

Background: The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) social-distancing strategy, including 7 weeks of strict lockdown, enabled an extraordinary test of stay-at-home regulations, which forced a sedentary lifestyle on all children and adolescents.

Objectives: To assess the lockdown effect on pediatric weight.

Methods: A retrospective-prospective cohort study at our hospital’s pediatric outpatient clinics following the COVID-19 lockdown. Patients aged 0–18 years visiting the clinic were weighed and previous weight and other clinical data were collected from the medical charts. Weight-percentile-for-age standardization was calculated according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization growth tables. Pre- and post-lockdown weight-percentiles-for-age were compared using paired t-test. Multivariate analysis was conducted using linear regression model.

Results: The study was comprised of 229 patients; 117/229 (51.1%) were boys, 60/229 (26.2%) aged under 6 years. Total mean weight-percentile was significantly higher following the lockdown (40.44 vs. 38.82, respectively, P = 0.029). Boys had a significant post-lockdown weight-percentile rise (37.66 vs. 34.42, P = 0.014), whereas girls had higher baseline pre-quarantine weight-percentile of 43.42, which did not change. Patients younger than 6 years had a significant increase in weight-percentiles (39.18 vs. 33.58, P = 0.021). In multivariate analysis these correlations were preserved.

Conclusions: A general weight gain among children was noted, especially in boys during the lockdown, with substantial effect under the age of 6 years. This collateral side-effect should be considered in further quarantine regulations

September 2012
E. Kitai, G. Blumberg, D. Levy, A. Golan-Cohen, and S. Vinker

Background: Fatigue is a common complaint in primary care and has a broad differential diagnosis, making the approach complex and often ineffective.


Objectives: To follow the course of adults without a significant known background disease who complain of fatigue for the first time, and to characterize the family physician’s approach.


Methods: The study population comprised a random sample of 299 patients aged 18–45 who presented with fatigue as a first-time single complaint to their family physician. Excluded were patients with chronic diseases or states that may include signs of fatigue. We analyzed the index encounter data, the diagnostic and laboratory tests, the medications prescribed and the one year clinical outcome.

Results: Seventy percent were women, average age 30.5 years, and 69% had no known co-morbidities; 57% of the patients were physically examined at the first visit and most (78.6%) were sent for laboratory analysis. Five percent of laboratory tests were positive. Eighty patients (26.8%) were given a specific diagnosis, with the leading diagnoses being anemia and infectious diseases; 18.7% were given sick leave at the first visit. Fatigue was more common in early summer.


Conclusions: The majority of young healthy patients complaining of fatigue are not diagnosed with an organic physiological disorder. Many of the study patients were sent for laboratory tests but in most cases these tests were not contributory to the diagnosis or management. It seems likely that the most efficient strategy would be watchful follow-up with a minimum of testing.


 
February 2010
S. Vinker, E. Zohar, R. Hoffman and A. Elhayany

Background: Most data on the incidence of rheumatic fever come from hospital records. We presumed that there may be cases of RF[1] that do not require hospitalization, especially in countries with high quality community health care. 

Objectives: To explore the incidence and characteristics of RF using community-based data. 

Methods: A retrospective descriptive study was conducted among the members (more than 450,000) of the Clalit Health Services, Central district, during 2000–2005. The electronic medical files of members up to 40 years old with a diagnosis of RF in hospital discharge letters or during community clinic visits were retrieved. Patients with a first episode of RF according to the modified Jones criteria were included.

Results: There were 44 patients with a first episode of RF. All patients were under the age of 29. The annual incidence among patients aged 0–30 years was 3.2:100,000; the highest incidence was among children aged 5–14 years (7.5:100,000), and in males the incidence was 2.26 times higher than in females. The incidence was higher among patients from large families, of non-Jewish ethnicity, and from rural areas. Twenty-five percent of the patients were both diagnosed and treated in an ambulatory care setting.

Conclusions: Although the incidence of RF in the western world and in Israel is low, the disease still occurs and mainly affects children. Any future estimates of disease incidence should take into account that RF is becoming an ambulatorily treated disease.  






[1] RF = rheumatoc fever


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


May 2007
S. Vinker, V. Elihayu and J. Yaphe

Background: The patient package insert, an information leaflet included by law in the packaging of prescription drugs, contains information for the user on the specific medication.

Objectives: To explore how patient information leaflets influence patient anxiety and adherence.

Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted in the practices of 15 family physicians. All patients receiving a new prescription for antibiotics, analgesics or antihypertensives were included. Physicians completed a questionnaire containing demographic data, assessment of the patient’s anxiety, a prediction about adherence to the treatment, and response to the information leaflet. Patients were contacted by telephone for a follow-up structured interview. Patients' reactions to the information leaflet, adherence to treatment, and use of other sources of information on medication were assessed.

Results: The study group comprised 200 patients. The patient information leaflet was read by 103 of them (51.5%). A higher educational level and a chronic medication were associated with reading the leaflet (P = 0.02 and 0.01 respectively). In 36 (34.9%), an increase in anxiety was reported after reading the leaflet. Among those who read the leaflet, 9.7% had decreased adherence. Patients who stated that reading the leaflet caused anxiety were more likely to reduce their use of the medication – 7/36 (19.5%) vs. 3/67 (4.5%), P = 0.01.

Conclusions: The proportion of patients reading the drug information leaflet is about 50%, lower than that found in previous studies. Reading the leaflet did not greatly affect adherence but aroused anxiety and decreased adherence in some patients.
 

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


January 2007
E. Kitai, S. Vinker, L. Halperin, A. Meidan and E. Grossman

Background: Recently the Joint National Committee (7th report) introduced the term “pre-hypertension.” Little is known on its prevalence in the general population.

Objectives: To assess the prevalence of pre-hypertension in a large national cohort.

Methods: We analyzed the database of all ≥ 18 year old members of Leumit Health Services, one of the four health management organizations in Israel, from which we retrieved the recorded blood pressure levels. Pre-hypertension was defined according to the JNC-7[1] criteria.

Results: Of the 426,033 subjects 18.6% had a diagnosis of hypertension or used antihypertensive medications. Only 40.8% of the other 346,799 subjects had had their BP[2] measured in the preceding 2 years. BP recording rates were higher in females than in males (45.1% vs. 36.3%) and higher in elderly subjects than in young subjects (56% aged 66–75 years vs. 32% aged 18–25). Pre-hypertension was observed in 80,625 (23.2%) of the 346,799 while only 56,113 (16.2%) had normal BP records. The prevalence of pre-hypertension increased with age (13.3% aged 18–25 vs. 44.8% aged 66–75), and was more prevalent in men than in women (24.0% vs. 22.5%).

Conclusions: BP levels among young people are low, even though the prevalence of pre-hypertension in this population may be high. Thus, more emphasis should be given to routine BP measurements and confirmation of the findings in all age groups.






[1] JNC-7 = Joint National Committee 7th report



[2] BP = blood pressure


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.

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.

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

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

January 2003
S. Vinker, Y. Yogev, E. Kitai, A. Ben Haroush and B. Kaplan

Background: Menopause affects women's health and well-being, but their knowledge of proper care and maintenance is uncertain.

Objective: To assess the attitude and approach of the healthy, low risk, postmenopausal population in Israel to personal healthcare and menopause.

Methods: The study population comprised 500 menopausal women attending community outpatient primary care clinics. All women completed a 20-item questionnaire covering personal healthcare habits, lifestyle, knowledge about menopause, and attitude and approach to menopause and use of hormone replacement therapy.

Results: The patients' mean body mass index was 25.8 ± 4.1 kg/m2; more than half the women were overweight, 28% percent engaged in regular sports activity, nd 11.2% smoked; 74% had a positive attitude towards their age; 60% underwent yearly screening mammography; 74% have had Pap smear and 86% had lipid profile measurements during the last year; self-examination of the breast was regularly performed by only 49%. HRT[1] is currently being used by 27% and had been used in the past by another 16%. The primary reasons for stopping therapy were irregular bleeding in 38% and apparent ineffectiveness in 35%. There was a positive significant correlation between level of education and both undergoing regular medical screening and engaging in regular sports activity. HRT current utilization was negatively associated with age and being a housewife.

Conclusions: A relatively high percentage of the study population safeguards its health and regularly uses HRT. We believe that stronger efforts are needed in Israel to promote good healthcare habits and positive attitudes toward menopause and HRT use.






[1] HRT = hormone replacement therapy


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
Shlomo M. Monnickendam MD, Shlomo Vinker MD, Simon Zalewski MD, Orli Cohen MD and Eliezer Kitai MD, and Research Group of the Department of Family Medicine, Tel Aviv University

Background: Patients’ consent to being part of medical education is often taken for granted, both in primary and secondary care. Formal consent procedures are not used routinely during teaching and patients are not always aware of teaching activities.

Objective: To investigate patients’ attitudes and expectations on issues of consent regarding participation in teaching in general practice, and the influence of a student’s presence on the consultation.

Methods: The study took place in 46 teaching practices during the sixth year clinical internship in family medicine. Patients completed questionnaires at the end of 10 consecutive eligible consultations. The questionnaire contained data on the willingness to participate in teaching, the preferred consent procedure and the effects of the student’s presence. The doctors were asked to estimate the sociodemographic level in their clinic area.

Results: A total of 375 questionnaires were returned; the response rate was not affected by the clinic’s sociodemographic level. Overall, 67% of the patients had come into contact with students in the past; 3.2% of the participants objected to the presence of a student during the consultation; 15% would insist on advance notification of the presence of a student, and another 13.9% would request it; 4% stated that the presence of students had a detrimental influence on the physical examination and history; and 33.6% would refuse to be examined by a student without the doctor’s presence.

Conclusion: Most patients agreed to have a student present during the consultation; some would like prior notification; a minority refused the student’s presence. A large minority would refuse to be examined without the tutor’s presence. Our findings need to be taken into account when planning clinical clerkships.

Sasson Nakar MD, Shlomo Vinker MD, Eliezer Kitai MD, Eli Wertman MD and Michael Weingarten MD

Background: Migration leads to changes in almost all areas of life including health. But how far are health beliefs also preserved, and how far are they affected by the process of acculturation to the host society?

Objectives: To examine the difference between behavior and attitudes towards conventional and traditional medicine among elderly Yemenite immigrants.

Methods: A community-based study was conducted in the Yemenite neighborhoods in the city of Rehovot. All inhabitants of Yemenite origin over the age of 70 were identified from the population register, excluding those who were institutionalized or demented. Social work students interviewed them at home. The questionnaire inquired after health problems in the preceding month. For each of these problems, the respondent was asked whether any mode of treatment had been employed – Yemenite folk remedies, conventional medical care, or other. Their attitudes towards Yemenite folk medicine and conventional medicine were recorded. Socioeconomic data included their current age, age at immigration, year of immigration, marital status, gender, religiosity, and education.

Results: A total of 326 elderly people were identified who fulfilled the selection criteria, of whom 304 (93%) agreed to be interviewed. Of these, 276 (91%) reported at least one health problem in the preceding month, providing 515 problems of which 349 (68%) were reported to a conventional medical doctor while 144 (28%) were treated by popular folk remedies. Fifty-nine problems (11.5%) were treated by specifically Yemenite traditional remedies, mostly by the respondents themselves (38/59) rather than by a traditional healer. Immigrants who arrived in Israel over the age of 30 years, as compared to respondents who immigrated at an earlier age and grew up in Israel, were more likely to use traditional Yemenite remedies (24.4% vs. 8.2%, P<0.005).

Conclusion: Aged Yemenite Jews in Israel prefer modern medicine. The earlier the immigrant arrived in Israel, the more positive the attitude towards modern medicine and the less use made of traditional Yemenite healing.

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