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Category Archives: Intervention

Is it possible to improve drug prescription in primary care patients with multimorbidity and polypharmacy by implementing the Ariadne principles in clinical practice?

By Alexandra Prados Torres
This is the question that Multi-PAP is trying to answer.
Multi-PAP is a coordinated multicentre project aimed at designing and measuring the effectiveness of a complex intervention in primary care for improving drug prescription in multimorbid patients compared to usual care. The intervention is based on the Ariadne principles designed by Muth et al. in 2014, and consists of two components: training of General Practitioners (GP) and GP-patient interviews.
Training of physicians has been conceived as a 4-weeks massive online open course (MOOC) designed by a multidisciplinary team with emphasis in multimorbidity, polypharmacy, medication appropriateness and adherence, and the Ariadne principles and tools for their implementation in clinical practice. During GP-patient interviews that will be conducted over a month, physicians are expected to put into practice the knowledge acquired during the training.
To measure the effectiveness of this intervention, Multi-PAP is conducting a pragmatic cluster randomized clinical trial (RCT) in primary care health centres in three regions in Spain (Aragon, Madrid and Andalusia). The unit of randomization is the family physician (N=80), and the unit of analysis is the patient. The study population is conformed by 400 patients (200 per study arm) aged 65–74 years with multimorbidity (defined as presence of 3 or more chronic diseases) and polypharmacy (defined as 5 or more drugs prescribed in ≥3 months). The intervention is based on the implementation of the Ariadne principles (GP training and GP-patient interviews) and it is compared to usual care. The main outcomes, to be measured at months 6 and 12, are: MAI score, health services use, quality of life, pharmacotherapy and adherence to treatment, and clinical and socio-demographic variables.
This project is justified by the need to provide evidence concerning interventions on primary care patients with polypharmacy and multimorbidity, conducted in the context of routine clinical practice, and involving young-old patients with significant potential for preventing negative health outcomes.
This RCT is registered in Clinicaltrials.gov (NCT02866799). Accessible at:
The full-text protocol of Multi-PAP RCT is accessible at: http://rdcu.be/rErC

The CARE Plus study

By Stewart Mercer

Scotland’s wide inequalities in health are well known, and despite having ‘universal coverage’ of healthcare through the NHS, the inverse care law remains an important issue (see work from our group published last year http://bjgp.org/keyword/inverse-care-law)
Our previous research also demonstrated how the inverse care law operates at the level of GPs. Routine consultations in poor areas of Scotland -despite higher levels of patient illness and thus need – are shorter, leave patients with complex needs feeling less enabled, and are associated with greater GP stress when compared with consultations in richer areas.
More recently, in a large prospective study of videoed-consultations, we demonstrated that due to the continuing existence of the inverse care law, GPs in deprived areas have less time to be patient-centred and patients have worse outcomes from the consultations.
In our new paper, the CARE Plus study, which was recently published in BMC Medicine https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-016-0634-2 we tested the feasibility of carrying out a cluster RCT of a whole system intervention to improve quality of life of primary care patients with multimorbidity living in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation and measured indications of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.
As Principal Investigator, I led the study with fellow academics at the Universities of Glasgow and Dundee, funded by the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office. This was a programme of research called ‘Living Well with Multimorbidty’. The CARE Plus study focused on patients with multiple complex problems (multimorbidity), since these patients have the highest needs.
In usual consultations, GPs, nurses and patients all struggle to adequately manage the problems of multimorbidity in the context of high deprivation.
We initially co-developed and optimised the intervention over a period of 2-3 years (http://chi.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/04/22/1742395316644304) and then randomised 8 general practices serving patients in areas of very high socioeconomic deprivation to either the CARE Plus intervention or to ‘usual care’. The intervention was a complex one, and took a ‘whole-system approach’ which involved substantially longer consultations with the GPs; training and support for the practitioners; and additional ‘self-management’ support for the patients. GPs identified patients with multimorbidity who they felt would benefit more time for an empathic, holistic approach and to agree a plan of action, with follow-up and continuity of care.
On average, patients were in their early 50s with around five chronic conditions each. Compared with the control group, patients in the CARE Plus group had significantly better outcomes for some aspects of well-being and quality of life at 6 and 12 months. Importantly, the intervention was highly cost-effective.
The study demonstrated that it is possible to conduct a high quality cluster RCT in very deprived areas; all of the practices who agreed to take part stayed in the study, and we achieved follow-up rates on the patients in both arms of the trial of 88% at 12 months. However, it should be noted that this was an exploratory trial of 152 patients in 8 practices; a definitive trial is now warranted.

OPTIMAL, a promising intervention to improve outcomes for people with multimorbidity

By Jess Garvey, Deirdre Connolly and Susan Smith

We investigated the effectiveness of an occupational therapy led self-management support programme, OPTIMAL, designed to address the challenges of living with multiple chronic conditions or multimorbidity in a primary care setting. We conducted a pragmatic feasibility randomised controlled trial including fifty participants with multimorbidity recruited from family practice and primary care settings in Dublin in Ireland. OPTIMAL is a six-week community-based programme, led by occupational therapy facilitators and focuses on problems associated with managing multimorbidity. The primary outcome was frequency of activity participation. Secondary outcomes included self-perception of, satisfaction with and ability to perform daily activities, independence in activities of daily living, anxiety and depression, self-efficacy, health-related quality of life, self-management support, healthcare utilisation and individualised goal attainment. Outcomes were collected within two weeks of intervention completion.
At immediate post intervention follow-up we found significant improvements in frequency of activity participation, measured using the Frenchay Activities Index, for the intervention group compared to the control group (Adjusted Mean Difference at follow up 4.22. 95% Confidence Interval 1.59-6.85). There were also significant improvements in perceptions of activity performance and satisfaction, self-efficacy, independence in daily activities and quality of life. Additionally, the intervention group demonstrated significantly higher levels of goal achievement, following the intervention. No significant differences were found between the two groups in anxiety, depression, self-management scores or healthcare utilisation.
OPTIMAL significantly improved frequency of activity participation, self-efficacy and quality of life for patients with multimorbidity. Further work is required to test the sustainability of these effects over time but this study indicates that it is a promising intervention that can be delivered in primary care and community settings.
Full details of this article can be found at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2296/16/59/abstract
We would welcome contact and collaboration with other researchers looking to test the feasibility and effectiveness of the OPTIMAL programme in other healthcare settings.

Take a stand on complexity and gain a better understanding of the roles of professionals in care coordination!

By Anne Doessing

We recently published a scoping study addressing two issues: what are the conditions of care coordination for patients with multimorbidity; and which factors promote or inhibit care coordination in provider organizations and among healthcare professionals [1].
The central theme emerging was complexity: The specific medical conditions of patients with multimorbidity are highly complex as is the organization of care delivery.
What are the implications for care coordination then? One approach is to reduce complexity and the other is to embrace complexity. Either way, future research in care coordination interventions in multimorbidity must take a more explicit stand on complexity.
In the included studies there was a significant lack of clarity regarding the role of different professionals in care coordination. It is unclear what role the various health professions play in care coordination, what coordination tasks different professions perform and whether some professions are more suited for care coordination than others. Also, it is unclear how different organizations and sectors affect the coordination carried out by different professions.
The research on care coordination interventions for patients with multimorbidity seems to focus on organizing healthcare without paying much attention to the role of professions in frontline care coordination. However, this ought to be a prerequisite for the development of care coordination interventions.
Therefore there is a need for more research to uncover the role of different professions in care coordination. This must comprehend both their actions and the health professionals’ own understanding of their role in care coordination.
Perhaps some of the failures of existing care coordination interventions can be explained by the fact that the specific delegation of coordination is at odds with the health professionals’ own understanding of their professional domain?

The complete article can be accessed at: http://www.jcomorbidity.com/index.php/test/article/view/39

1: Doessing A, Burau V. Care coordination of multimorbidity: a scoping study. J Comorbidity 2015;5:15-28

PACE in MM Website Launched

By Martin Fortin and Moira Stewart

The research team PACE in MM “Patient-Centred Innovations for Persons with Multimorbidity” is happy to report its website (www. paceinmm.recherche.usherbrooke.ca) is now online in both French and English.  The site outlines the PACE in MM research goals, objectives and research plan.

Visitors to the site are able to view the governance, type and structure of Committees within the team as well as review the research team members.  A glossary of key terms related to the topic areas of PACE in MM is presented.
This resource will also allow visitors to keep updated on current news and events.  A special section for output and activities will be updated regularly outlining presentations, publications, and meetings.  A link to other helpful resources has also been developed.
If you have any suggestions or feedback for the website please send your comments to Research Coordinators, Tarek and Louisa.



Improving care for patients with multimorbidity

By Chris Salisbury

Although there is a fairly clear sense of direction about how care needs to change for patients with multimorbidity, there have been few rigorous studies of new approaches.
Researchers from the Universities of Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Dundee, in partnership with the NHS and the Royal College of General Practitioners, have obtained funding for the ‘3D’ study to improve whole person care. This is an ambitious multi-centre cluster randomised trial of a new approach to improve the management of patients with multimorbidity in general practice, led by Professor Chris Salisbury. Funding of £1.78 million study has been obtained from the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) through its Health Services and Delivery Research (HS&DR) Programme.

Following a pilot and optimisation study in 4 general practices, 32 practices will be recruited to the main trial and randomised to receive the new intervention or continue usual care. The intervention is designed to address the problems of illness burden (poor quality of life, depression) treatment burden (multiple unco-ordinated appointments, polypharmacy, poor primary/secondary care co-ordination) and lack of patient-centred care (low continuity, disregard of patients’ priorities) experienced by patients with multimorbidity.
Patients with multimorbidity will be identified and offered longer appointments with the same GP and nurse whenever possible, to maximise continuity of care. Instead of separate reviews of each of their long term conditions, patients will be invited for a comprehensive ‘3D’ health review every 6 months designed to cover all of their health issues. This will focus on identifying their main concerns and priorities to improve their quality of life, as well as seeking to improve disease control (Dimensions of health). The patients’ Drug regime will be reviewed and simplified, seeking to improve medication adherence.  The clinician will check for and treat Depression. In order to improve integration of care, the practice will have a linked ‘general physician’ at the local hospital.
The aim is to recruit 1382 multimorbid patients into the trial and follow them up for 12 months. The primary outcome is the patient’s quality of life, with secondary outcomes including measures of disease control, the burden of illness and treatment, and measures of patient centred care. A parallel process evaluation using mixed methods will explore how the intervention is implemented and achieves its effects and how it could be improved. Through an economic evaluation we will compare the costs and benefits of the intervention from different perspectives and determine whether it is cost-effective. Further information is available from the study website at http://www.bristol.ac.uk/3d-study.

The integration of physician-patient-nurse collaboration for patients with multimorbidity seen in a Family Medicine Group setting: A pilot study

By Tarek Bouhali

A Family medicine group (FMG) is a group of family physicians who work in close cooperation with nurses to offer health care services to registered individuals. On average, a FMG serves 15,000 people, and involves 10 doctors and two nurses [1]. This new form of group practice based on patient-centered approaches leads to interprofessional collaboration.

Interprofessional collaboration usually involves two disciplines or professionals, who interact continuously in a joint effort to solve or explore common issues. This approach involves active patient participation, gives priority to his/her goals and values, and establishes mechanisms for continuous communication among health care providers. Working within such a structure requires a redefinition of the physician-nurse partnership. Evidence-based interprofessional collaboration should involve intra-disciplinary and interdisciplinary participation in clinical decision making, and encourages the contribution of all professionals [2]. A number of studies has highlighted the need to redefine inter-professional collaboration to include the patient as participant as his/her perspective has been missing so far [2-4].

In this regard, the present pilot study aims to:

1) clarify the expectations of physicians, patients, and nurses involved in a collaborative approach;

2) identify the elements of collaboration that are prioritized by the participating professionals;

3) document the experience of collaboration among physicians, nurses and patients;

4) assess the feasibility of using generic outcome measures;

5) collect preliminary data on the variability of results and their sensitivity to changes in patients with multimorbidity.

Patients included in this study are adults (40 to 65 years) with at least two chronic diseases from two FMGs in the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region (Quebec, Canada). Two family physicians and two nurses from each FMG will form four physician-nurse teams. Ten patients will be recruited among each of the participating physician’s practice, for a total of 40 patients.

Physicians and nurses will take part in a training session on physician-patient-nurse collaboration. They will then participate in individual interviews to express their expectations (T0), and discuss strategies and tools used to make collaboration more relevant and responsive to patients with multiple chronic conditions at two other times (T1 and T2).

Two evaluations are planned for patients: before the first visit (T0), and 24 weeks later (T2). Before starting the collaborative process (T0), patients will be invited to participate in a focus group to clarify their expectations. Patients met at T0 will be asked to participate in a second focus group at T2 to discuss elements of satisfaction or dissatisfaction regarding physician-patient-nurse collaboration. At T0 and T2, they will be asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire on quality of life, self-efficacy, functional level, process of care and the achievement of personal goals.

Interprofessional collaboration in patient care has the potential to lead to positive impacts on the process of patient empowerment and self-efficacy. It can also contribute to an improvement in patients’ quality of life and a decrease in their level of psychological distress. Their perception of health care quality should improve as well. This pilot study will allow us to define the form that may take the intervention and methodological elements of a subsequent larger demonstration project.

1.         Commissaire à la santé et au bien-être. Rapport d’appréciation de la performance du système de santé et de services sociaux 2009: État de situation portant sur le système de santé et de services sociaux sur sa première ligne de soins. Québec; 2009.
2.         Juanita Barrett, Vernon Curran, Lindsay Glynn. Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF) Synthesis: Interprofessional Collaboration and Quality Primary Healthcare, December 2007. http://www.chsrf.ca/Migrated/PDF/ResearchReports/CommissionedResearch/SynthesisReport_E_rev4_FINAL.pdf)
3.         Beaulieu M-D, Denis JL, D’ Amour D, et al. L’implantation des Groupes de médecine de famille : un défi de la réorganisation de la pratique et de la collaboration interprofessionnelle. Montréal: Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF); 2006. (http://www.chsrf.ca/migrated/pdf/pastprograms/beaulieu_final.pdf )
4.         Ivy Oandasan, G.Ross Baker, et al. Teamwork in Healthcare: Promoting effective teamwork in healthcare in Canada. Canadian Health Services Research Foundation (CHSRF). Ottawa: FCRSS; 2006. (http://www.chsrf.ca/Migrated/PDF/ResearchReports/CommissionedResearch/teamwork-synthesis-report_e.pdf )

Adaptation, implementation and evaluation of an intervention involving the integration of chronic disease rehabilitation services into primary care

(Funded by: Pfizer-FRSQ-MSSS Chronic Disease Fund)

 By Martin Fortin and Maud-Christine Chouinard


Aging is associated with an increasing number of chronic diseases (CD) which represents a challenge for the healthcare system [1-2]. While traditional health care funding and management are mainly designed to address acute health conditions, the bulk of health funds is allocated to patients with CD [3]. The Chronic Care Model (CCM) suggested a multi-component remodeling of CD services to improve patient outcomes [4]. To meet the complex and ongoing needs of patients with CD, rehabilitation has been advocated as a key feature of primary care [5]. Moreover, patients with multimorbidity represent a greater challenge to primary healthcare as they are associated with high healthcare costs and poor compliance to treatment and recommendations [6-7]. In the presence of multimorbidity, health care providers acting in primary care face difficulties in applying guidelines and in maintaining continuity of care. To prevent potential health care system gaps in quality, efficiency, and effectiveness, primary care physicians have to play a gatekeeping role in the management of multimorbid patients and should be assisted in CCM integration and application. Consequently, decision makers and physicians have to look to evidence-based practice guidelines to improve the quality of care and to manage the allocation of resources as efficiently as possible[8].

In this regard, we aim to establish a clinical intervention that will adapt and permanently integrate rehabilitation services into primary care settings and to develop objective tools to assess the adaptation and implementation of this intervention in eight primary care practices in the Saguenay region (Quebec, Canada), in order to ensure the sustainability of interventions beyond the rehabilitation period. More specifically, the intervention will aim to clinically operationalize the mechanisms and tools necessary for the delivery of integrated CD services, promoting continuity of care in response to the needs expressed by stakeholders and to deploy rehabilitation services adapted to the realities of various primary care settings.

The evaluation of the implementation will be conducted using descriptive qualitative methods, while the evaluation of the effects will be based on a combination of experimental designs: randomized trial using a delayed intervention arm (n=326), a before and after design with repeated measures (n=163), and a quasi-experimental design using a comparative cohort (n=326). The qualitative evaluation will be based on focus groups and individual interviews before, during and after the implementation with various stakeholders (decision makers, primary care professionals, rehabilitation professionals and patients). Assessment of effects on patients will use self-administered questionnaires measuring chronic disease self-efficacy, health education impacts, health behaviors, quality of life, and psychological well-being.

Patients included in this study will be referred by their primary care provider and have to present at least one of the conditions for which rehabilitation is currently available (or their risk factors): diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, COPD, asthma. Total disease burden will be assessed for each patient. Data collected from participants will be analyzed in three steps according to a qualitative content analysis procedure to identify emerging themes and trends: coding, sorting of text content and analysis. In addition, the analysis will focus on shedding light on: (1) the interaction between the implementation context and the intervention on the effects obtained; (2) contextual determinants of the changes that occurred from various perspectives on organizational change, including political, structural, psychological and organizational models.

In the short-term, we are expecting improved patient self-efficacy, empowerment and self-management. In the long-term, this should result in a reduction of their risk factors, with an improvement in quality of life and psychological distress. At the organization level, the project should lead to a coordinated service delivery, improved patient follow-up mechanisms and enhanced interprofessional collaboration.

Multimorbidity represents a crucial step in the process of adaptation of evidence-based medicine to the primary care reality. Among patients with CD, those presenting multimorbidity show high levels of health care utilization. It is important to increase our understanding of primary care needs in rehabilitation services and the characteristics of conceptual models of interventional approaches designed for patients followed up by family physicians. In conclusion, the integration of specialized rehabilitation services at the point of care in primary care practices is a promising innovation in care delivery that needs to be thoroughly evaluated.

1. Fried, L.P., Epidemiology of aging. Epidemiol Rev, 2000. 22(1): p. 95-106.
2. WHO, Chronic disease risk factors. 2003.
3. Mirolla, M., The cost of chronic disease in Canada The Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, 2008.
4. Wagner, E.H., et al., Improving chronic illness care: translating evidence into action. Health Aff (Millwood), 2001. 20(6): p. 64-78.
5. McColl, M.A., Structural determinants of access to health services for people with disabilities. Disability and social policy in Canada. 2nd ed.. Toronto: Captus Pr;, 2006: p. 293–313.
6. DiMatteo, M.R., et al., Patient adherence and medical treatment outcomes: a meta-analysis. Med Care, 2002. 40(9): p. 794-811.
7. Hughes, C.M., Medication non-adherence in the elderly: how big is the problem? Drugs Aging, 2004. 21(12): p. 793-811.
8. Wagner, E.H., B.T. Austin, and M. Von Korff, Organizing care for patients with chronic illness. Milbank Q, 1996. 74(4): p. 511-44.

Training clinicians in the management of multimorbidity

By Susan Smith

In considering designing appropriate interventions to improve outcomes for patients with multimorbidity, we are beginning to look at ways of training clinicians in the management of these patients. Our specific intervention is being directed towards GPs or family practitioners. Is anyone aware of any training materials that have been or are being developed for training clinicians? We may focus it around improved medicines management but could also look at case based learning. I would really welcome any comments from others working in the field.