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Emergency admissions to hospital are a major financial burden on health services. In one area of the United Kingdom (UK), we evaluated a predictive risk stratification tool (PRISM) designed to support primary care practitioners to identify and manage patients at high risk of admission. We assessed the costs of implementing PRISM and its impact on health services costs. At the same time as the study, but independent of it, an incentive payment (‘QOF’) was introduced to encourage primary care practitioners to identify high risk patients and manage their care.
We conducted a randomized stepped wedge trial in thirty-two practices, with cluster-defined control and intervention phases, and participant-level anonymized linked outcomes. We analysed routine linked data on patient outcomes for 18 months (February 2013 – September 2014). We assigned standard unit costs in pound sterling to the resources utilized by each patient. Cost differences between the two study phases were used in conjunction with differences in the primary outcome (emergency admissions) to undertake a cost-effectiveness analysis.
We included outcomes for 230,099 registered patients. We estimated a PRISM implementation cost of GBP0.12 per patient per year.
Costs of emergency department attendances, outpatient visits, emergency and elective admissions to hospital, and general practice activity were higher per patient per year in the intervention phase than control phase (adjusted δ = GBP76, 95 percent Confidence Interval, CI GBP46, GBP106), an effect that was consistent and generally increased with risk level.
Despite low reported use of PRISM, it was associated with increased healthcare expenditure. This effect was unexpected and in the opposite direction to that intended. We cannot disentangle the effects of introducing the PRISM tool from those of imposing the QOF targets; however, since across the UK predictive risk stratification tools for emergency admissions have been introduced alongside incentives to focus on patients at risk, we believe that our findings are generalizable.
A predictive risk stratification tool (PRISM) to estimate a patient's risk of an emergency hospital admission in the following year was trialled in general practice in an area of the United Kingdom. PRISM's introduction coincided with a new incentive payment (‘QOF’) in the regional contract for family doctors to identify and manage the care of people at high risk of emergency hospital admission.
Alongside the trial, we carried out a complementary qualitative study of processes of change associated with PRISM's implementation. We aimed to describe how PRISM was understood, communicated, adopted, and used by practitioners, managers, local commissioners and policy makers. We gathered data through focus groups, interviews and questionnaires at three time points (baseline, mid-trial and end-trial). We analyzed data thematically, informed by Normalisation Process Theory (1).
All groups showed high awareness of PRISM, but raised concerns about whether it could identify patients not yet known, and about whether there were sufficient community-based services to respond to care needs identified. All practices reported using PRISM to fulfil their QOF targets, but after the QOF reporting period ended, only two practices continued to use it. Family doctors said PRISM changed their awareness of patients and focused them on targeting the highest-risk patients, though they were uncertain about the potential for positive impact on this group.
Though external factors supported its uptake in the short term, with a focus on the highest risk patients, PRISM did not become a sustained part of normal practice for primary care practitioners.
Scientists in basic research and epidemiology deliver messages to policy makers. Effective population based strategies then require people trained and competent in the discipline of Public Health Nutrition (PHN). Since 1997, a European Master's Programme in PHN has been undergoing planning and implementation with the aid of funding from the European Commission (DGV). PHN is used as a broad term covering Nutrition and Physical Activity as well as Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.
The partners in this project are academic departments from 17 countries. The students will undertake core modules and electives for a year and a half, followed by a research project for six months. In order to set up formalised procedures for the evaluation of the quality assurance of individual modules from across Europe, a quality assurance system has been set up.
The academic year 1999–2000 will allow an opportunity for Universities and Institutes to start new modules, to develop other modules, assess the movement of students between modules, tackle funding issues and allow further marketing of the programme. Future activities include strengthening of the European Network for Public Health Nutrition (ENPHN), the establishment of a consortium with universities, the co-ordination of programme activities with other European Master's Programmes in Public Health, and the incorporation of new Member States from Eastern Europe.
We can look forward to a new brand of professionals, who are truly European in their training, but who also have an integrated view of nutrition and physical activity, health promotion and disease prevention and who are prepared for policy making, action planning, implementation and evaluation.
For the majority of European adults, who neither smoke nor drink excessively, the most significant controllable risk factors affecting their long-term health are what they eat, and how physically active they are.
Scientists are supposed to clarify to policy makers and health professionals the usefulness of their health messages. However, to be able to do that, a more detailed understanding is needed of the basic mechanisms behind the effects on health of diet and physical activity and, especially, the two in combination. Further, better methods for assessment of nutrition and physical activity in the population have to be developed, and more and better baseline data have to be collected. Increased and more efficient interventions are then needed. People trained and competent in the new discipline of Public Health Nutrition are required.
Through the stimulating support that the European Commission, as well as other national and international partners, are presently giving to the development of Public Health Nutrition across Europe, we can hope for an increased mobility, networking and understanding between European nutrition and physical activity professionals. This will most likely result in greater and better policy making, strategy development, implementation and evaluation. We now have a great possibility to develop the integrated field of preventive nutrition and health enhancing physical activity.
The purpose of this review is to provide guidance on the development, validation and use of food-frequency questionnaires (FFQs) for different study designs. It does not include any recommendations about the most appropriate method for dietary assessment (e.g. food-frequency questionnaire versus weighed record).
A comprehensive search of electronic databases was carried out for publications from 1980 to 1999. Findings from the review were then commented upon and added to by a group of international experts.
Recommendations have been developed to aid in the design, validation and use of FFQs. Specific details of each of these areas are discussed in the text.
FFQs are being used in a variety of ways and different study designs. There is no gold standard for directly assessing the validity of FFQs. Nevertheless, the outcome of this review should help those wishing to develop or adapt an FFQ to validate it for its intended use.
Effective population-based strategies require people trained and
competent in the discipline of Public Health Nutrition. Since 1997,
a European Master's Programme in Public Health Nutrition has been
undergoing planning and implementation, by establishing initial
quality assurance systems with the aid of funding from the European
Commission (DG SANCO/F3). Partners from 17 European countries have
been involved in the process. A European Network of Public Health
Nutrition has been developed and accredited by the European
The aim of this paper is to highlight the importance of an
evidence-based approach to the development, implementation and
evaluation of policies aimed at improving nutrition-related health
in the population. Public Health Nutrition was established to
realise a population-level approach to the prevention of the major
nutrition-related health problems world-wide. The scope is broad and
integrates activity from local, national, regional and international
levels. The aim is to inform and develop coherent and effective
policies that address the key rate-limiting steps critical to
improving nutrition-related public health. This paper sets out the
rationale for an evidence-based approach to Public Health Nutrition
developed under the umbrella of the European Network for Public
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