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Currently, network meta-analyses (NMAs) are the only technique that allow us to compare and rank numerous treatments across trials. Evidence produced by NMAs relies on pooled data from both direct and indirect comparisons within studies. Consequently, NMAs are invaluable tools for informing clinical guidelines.
Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) is a national initiative designed to encourage patient-clinician discussions about the appropriate, evidence-based use of medical tests, procedures and treatments. The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians’ (CAEP) Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) working group developed and released ten recommendations relevant to Emergency Medicine in June 2015 (items 1–5) and October 2016 (items 6–10). In November 2016, the CAEP CWC working group developed a process for updating the recommendations. This process involves: 1) Using GRADE to evaluate the quality of evidence, 2) reviewing relevant recommendations on an ad hoc basis as new evidence emerges, and 3) reviewing all recommendations every five years. While the full review of the CWC recommendations will be performed in 2020, a number of high-impact studies were published after our initial launch that prompted an ad hoc review of the relevant three of our ten recommendations prior to the full review in 2020. This paper describes the results of the CAEP CWC working group's ad hoc review of three of our ten recommendations in light of recent publications.
Free movement of patients has been criticised from the moment that the first patient cases reached the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’). The moving patient supposedly increases consumerism, reduces national solidarity, and has a negative impact on the quality of healthcare provided in some Member States. This article challenges the empirical foundations of such criticisms. An empirical analysis of all patient cases before the CJEU shows that a significant number of patients required urgent treatment, that their medical condition was life-threatening, and that they were supported by their treating doctor in seeking treatment in another Member State. Moreover, free movement of patient cases regularly lead to positive changes to national healthcare systems. Therefore, the negative attitude towards free movement of patients should be reconsidered. Patients, doctors, and lawyers must think more strategically about how free movement can be used to improve the quality of healthcare in the EU.
Innovation Conept: Evidence-based medicine (EBM), including literature search skills, is an objective of the Emergency Medicine (EM) residency curriculum. Traditional teaching of this topic utilized a classroom-based, librarian-lead session that presented an overview of many search engines. Feedback from past sessions indicated that learners retained little after the session. To be effective, EBM needs to be brought to the bedside. We created a session to engage EM residents and improve their efficiency in literature searching during an EM shift. Methods: We conducted a needs assessment among EM residents in our program. In response to this and to maximize impact of teaching, we created an EBM workshop on literature searching that used a flipped classroom approach and high-fidelity simulation. The session was designed for a small group (12 junior residents), with the goals of being interactive, engaging and practice-relevant. Feedback was collected on the simulation experience. Curriculum, Tool or Material: With a librarian, we created a brief list of EM-relevant databases. It included tips for searching and links to the corresponding sites / apps. Students received the list 7 days prior and were instructed to set up the resources on their smartphones. Pre-readings also covered the hierarchy of evidence and formulating a good clinical (PICO) question. All students participated in the high-fidelity simulation, with one volunteer leader. The case involved a stable patient. Residents proceeded with initial case assessment until they faced a management decision that required a literature search. All residents participated on their smart phones. Collectively, it took 5 minutes to find a study that adequately addressed the clinical question. The patient was managed accordingly and symptoms resolved. Feedback on the simulation was abundantly positive. Students found it engaging, practical and realistic. It helped them learn to efficiently search the literature while managing a stable patient. Conclusion: Using a multi-modal teaching strategy that includes simulation makes teaching EBM literature searching more interesting, engaging and applicable to EM practice. Future work will look at creating further sessions to reinforce and promote retention of key concepts and integrate them into EM practice.
This article aims to do two things. First, it argues that moralization of health occurs not only at the practical level of individual healthcare choices and health states, but also at the conceptual level of health itself. This is most evident in cases where the concept of health is presumed to possess the property of “overridingness” when compared to competing values and norms, that is, when it is treated as taking precedence over other values and norms it may come into conflict with. Second, the article makes a case for being critically skeptical of specific deployments of the concept of health when it has been moralized in this way. In such cases, what typically results is that some other personal value/norm, or set of values/norms, held by the individual is treated as intrinsically at odds with the concept of health, which is presumed, uncritically, to be superior, often because it is taken to be free-standing and self-justifying. Yet, a growing body of evidence-based research suggests that the role played by dimensions of personal meaningfulness in the quality of individuals’ overall health is quite underappreciated. It is useful to think of these dimensions of personal meaning and significance as representing the individual’s values. Thus, taking these data more seriously ought to lead to a reevaluation of the moralization of health at the conceptual level. In the first place, it is not obvious that if the concept of health runs afoul of other values/norms held by an individual, the latter should automatically yield. In the second place, they suggest that other values/norms held by an individual are not necessarily intrinsically opposed to the concept of health, but in fact may go a good distance in support of it.
Important ear problems can affect the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. Globally, the greatest burden of disease is due to ear conditions that are associated with otorrhoea and hearing loss.
This study reviewed the literature on the prevention and treatment of common ear conditions that are most relevant to settings with high rates of ear disease and limited resources. The grading of recommendations assessment, development and evaluation (‘GRADE’) approach was utilised to assess interventions.
Accurate diagnosis of ear disease is challenging. Much of the preventable burden of ear disease is associated with otitis media. Nine otitis media interventions for which there is moderate to high certainty of effect were identified. While most interventions only provide modest benefit, the impact of treatment is more substantial in children with acute otitis media with perforation and chronic suppurative otitis media.
Disease prevention through good hygiene practices, breastfeeding, reducing smoke exposure, immunisation and limiting noise exposure is recommended. Children with acute otitis media with perforation, chronic suppurative otitis media, complications of otitis media, and significant hearing loss should be prioritised for medical treatment.
Currently, 564,000 Canadians are living with dementia. This number will continue to rise as the population ages. Family physicians play an integral role in the diagnosis and management of dementia patients. Although studies have looked at family physician perspectives on dementia care in the urban setting, much less is known about challenges in rural areas. This study aimed to explore rural family physicians’ experiences in caring for patients with dementia in rural Alberta, Canada. We conducted three semi-structured focus groups with 16 family physicians to evaluate barriers and facilitators to providing care to persons with dementia in three rural communities. We developed focus group questions based on the theoretical domains framework (TDF) and analysed them using a framework approach. Physician capabilities, opportunities, and motivations appear to play important roles in caring for these patients. These research findings can be used to advance quality of care for rural dementia patients.
The application of evidence-informed practice in emergency medicine (EM) is critical to improve the quality of patient care. EM is a specialty with a broad knowledge base making it daunting for a junior resident to know where to begin the acquisition of evidence-based knowledge. Our study’s objective was to formulate a list of “top papers” in the field of EM using a Delphi approach to achieve an expert consensus.
Participants were recruited from all 14 specialty EM programs across Canada by a nomination process by the program directors. The modified Delphi survey consisted of three study rounds, each round sent out via email. The study tool was piloted first with McMaster University’s specialty EM residents. During the first round, participants individually listed top papers relevant to EM. During the two subsequent rounds, participants ranked the papers listed in the first round, with a chance to adjust ranking based on group responses.
A total of eight EM specialty programs responded with 30 responses across the three rounds. There were 119 studies suggested in the first round, and, by the third round, a consensus of>70% agreement was reached to generate the final list of 29 studies.
We produced, via an expert consensus, a list of top studies relevant for Canadian EM physicians in training. It can be used as an educational resource for junior residents as they transition into practice.
Introduction: Much of the research presented at conference meetings never go on to be published in peer-reviewed literature, thereby limiting the dispersion of these findings to a larger audience. We sought to assess if this was true with regard to CAEP meetings, by establishing the publication rate and factors correlated with publication of CAEP abstracts in peer-reviewed journals from 2013-2017. Methods: We conducted a scoping review that included all CAEP abstracts from 2013-2017, obtained through the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. Two reviewers screened and extracted data from all abstracts individually, with any conflicts resolved by a third reviewer. Data extracted from abstracts included province of authors, sample size, study design, the presence of statistically positive or negative findings, status of publication, date of acceptance to a journal, and journal of publication. Databases searched for publication status included MEDLINE, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library and Ovid Health Star. A level of evidence (LOE) was assigned using the 2011 Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine criteria. Results: All abstracts (1090) from 2014-2017 have been analyzed thus far. Inter-rater agreement for data extraction was high ( value 0.85). 17.1% (186/1090) of abstracts presented at the conference had a corresponding full text publication in the peer-reviewed literature. Articles were published in 102 different journals, with the greatest number of publications in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine (CJEM) (15.1%, 28/186), followed by Academic Emergency Medicine (10.2%, 19/186). The mean time to publication was 51 weeks (95% CI 43,59). 30.6% (57/186) of published abstracts had statistically positive findings, while 10.8% (20/186) had negative findings. A significant difference was present between publication findings and publication status (p<0.0001, chi-squared). 68.8% (128/186) of published articles were of level III evidence. A statistical difference was found between LOE and publication status (p<0.0001, chi-squared). Conclusion: A large number of abstracts presented at CAEP are presently unpublished. There may be a publication bias in the literature as a greater number of studies with positive findings have been published. Additionally, two-thirds of studies published are of level III evidence. An increasing emphasis should be placed in publishing studies with higher levels of evidence, and more studies with negative findings.
Introduction: The CAEP annual meeting presents the latest evidence for clinical practice, but there has not yet been an appraisal of the abstracts presented at this conference. Therefore, we sought to evaluate the level of evidence of research presented at the annual meeting, and assess for trends over a five-year period (2013-2017). Methods: We conducted a scoping review that included all CAEP abstracts from 2013-2017, obtained through the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. Two reviewers assessed eligibility and extracted data from abstracts individually, with conflicts resolved by a third reviewer. Qualitative research was excluded. Extracted data included type of presentation (ex. oral, poster), sample size, study design and type of study (therapeutic, prognostic, diagnostic, education, quality improvement, or systems-wide/economic analyses research). A level of evidence (LOE) was assigned using the 2011 Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine criteria. Results: Abstracts from 2014-2017 have been analyzed thus far, 1090 of which were eligible and 990 included. Inter-rater agreement for screening and data extraction was high ( value 0.87 and 0.84 respectively). Systems-wide/economic analyses research was the predominant type of study (28.6%, 283/990), followed by therapeutic (19.9%, 197/990) and education (19.9%, 195/990). The mean LOE was 2.81 (95% CI 2.77,2.85). The highest proportion of studies were of level III evidence (77.7%, 769/990), followed by level II (9.6%, 95/990) and level I evidence (7.8%, 77/990). 72.1% (124/172) of all level I and II abstracts were presented in 2016 and 2017. A significant change in LOE between years was evident (p<0.0001, chi-squared). The greatest proportion of level I and II abstracts were lightning oral (41.9%, 72/172), followed by posters (36.0%, 62/172). The best average LOE was observed for lightning oral (2.64, 95% CI 2.56, 2.72), with the poorest average LOE witnessed for moderated posters (2.90, 95% CI 2.83, 2.97). A significant difference was present in mean LOE between types of presentations (p<0.0001, one-sided ANOVA). Conclusion: The majority of abstracts were level III evidence. The lightning oral sessions had the greatest proportion of level I and II evidence presented. Recent years of the conference have also seen the presentation of a greater number of level I and II evidence, which may suggest a shift towards generating and disseminating higher level evidence in emergency medicine.
Objectives: Value assessment frameworks have gained prominence recently in the context of U.S. healthcare. Such frameworks set out a series of factors that are considered in funding decisions. The UK's National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is an established health technology assessment (HTA) agency. We present a novel application of text analysis that characterizes NICE's Technology Appraisals in the context of the newer assessment frameworks and present the results in a visual way.
Methods: A total of 243 documents of NICE's medicines guidance from 2007 to 2016 were analyzed. Text analysis was used to identify a hierarchical set of decision factors considered in the assessments. The frequency of decision factors stated in the documents was determined and their association with terms related to uncertainty. The results were incorporated into visual representations of hierarchical factors.
Results: We identified 125 decision factors, and hierarchically grouped these into eight domains: Clinical Effectiveness, Cost Effectiveness, Condition, Current Practice, Clinical Need, New Treatment, Studies, and Other Factors. Textual analysis showed all domains appeared consistently in the guidance documents. Many factors were commonly associated with terms relating to uncertainty. A series of visual representations was created.
Conclusions: This study reveals the complexity and consistency of NICE's decision-making processes and demonstrates that cost effectiveness is not the only decision-criteria. The study highlights the importance of processes and methodology that can take both quantitative and qualitative information into account. Visualizations can help effectively communicate this complex information during the decision-making process and subsequently to stakeholders.
Systematic reviews have developed over the past 40 years as a method for integrating findings from the available studies relating to clinical problems and interventions into one publication. Systematic reviews employ a variety of data analytic techniques including meta-analysis, which combines treatment effects across disparate studies in order to produce a truer estimate of treatment effect. The Cochrane Collaboration was established in order to facilitate access to high-quality evidence and specifies stringent guidelines for the production of systematic reviews. A Cochrane Systematic Review (CSR) includes consideration of the risk-of-bias of the selected studies in reaching conclusions. A recent CSR is used as an example to demonstrate the process of conducting a CSR, the data analytic methods employed and the assumptions made when employing these methods. There is a discussion of issues the reader will need to be aware of when considering the findings of a CSR and how this might differ from other systematic reviews including some consideration of how CSRs apply to the brain impairment literature.
High-quality trials have the potential to influence clinical practice.
Ten otolaryngology journals with the highest 2011 impact factors were selected and publications from 2010 were extracted. From all medical journals, the 20 highest impact factor journals were selected, and publications related to otolaryngology for 2010 and 2011 were extracted. For all publications, the reporting quality and risk of bias were assessed.
The impact factor was 1.8–2.8 for otolaryngology journals and 6.0–101.8 for medical journals. Of 1500 otolaryngology journal articles, 262 were therapeutic studies; 94 had a high reporting quality and 5 a low risk of bias. Of 10 967 medical journal articles, 76 were therapeutic studies; 57 had a high reporting quality and 8 a low risk of bias.
Reporting quality was high for 45 per cent of otolaryngology-related publications and 9 per cent met quality standards. General journals had higher impact factors than otolaryngology journals. Reporting quality was higher and risk of bias lower in general journals than in otolaryngology journals. Nevertheless, 76 per cent of articles in high impact factor journals carried a high risk of bias. Better reported and designed studies are the goal, with less risk of bias, especially in otolaryngology journals.
Objectives: The translation of research findings into policy and practice is crucially dependent on the applicability of such findings in a given decision-making context. We explored in a case study whether a generic consultation guide to assess the applicability of a health technology could be rapidly deployed and deliver useful insights.
Methods: A consultation guide based on the context and implementation for complex interventions (CICI) framework was developed and piloted to assess the applicability of reinforced home-based palliative care in three European countries. Individual consultations in England and Germany and a panel discussion in Poland were completed.
Results: Various barriers may hinder successful implementation of reinforced home-based palliative care in the three countries. Whilst the experts across all countries emphasized the lack of funding along with organization and structure as major barriers, information varied by country for many of the other identified barriers and facilitators. Participants in the pilot study provided positive feedback in terms of understanding the topic and purpose of the consultation, and both individual and panel consultations could be easily implemented.
Conclusions: In this case study, the consultation guide presented a pragmatic, ready-to-use tool to assess the applicability of a health technology. As shown here, it can be used in a generic manner without discrete empirical information on the technology in question or, ideally, makes use of specific information collected as part of a HTA. Further studies are needed to validate this guide and apply it to other types of health technologies and more diverse decision-making contexts.
Objectives: The healthcare transformation program in Turkey has shown its success with improvements in important health indicators, increased access to healthcare services and expansion of coverage to all citizens. Turkey has been relatively able to bear the burdens associated with this due to rapid economic growth. The need for health technology assessment (HTA) was believed as a result of the expansion of coverage, pressure of new technologies, and increased expenditures. This study outlines the background and current formalization of HTA and shares the current use of HTA in decision making, while summarizing the transformation of the Turkish healthcare system for developing a high-quality, equal, and accessible care system.
Methods: We reviewed and analyzed policy changes in the Turkish healthcare system, universal health coverage, healthcare expenditures, and pricing and reimbursement policies to identify the changes leading to HTA. We reviewed existing HTA functions in Turkey and outlined their activities. Finally, we outlined a set of major challenges for HTA in Turkey over the next decade.
Results: HTA was formalized in Turkey in 2012–2013 with three national HTA structures and one hospital-based HTA unit. These functions currently run independent from each other. There are three major challenges in this country for HTA in the next decade: clarification of the assessment scope and methods, building a strong supporting system for HTA, and defining the role of HTA in the future vision of Turkish healthcare policy.
Conclusion: HTA, despite challenges, has a good opportunity to develop further with clear action plans and strong political will.
It is increasingly essential for medical researchers to be literate in statistics, but the requisite degree of literacy is not the same for every statistical competency in translational research. Statistical competency can range from ‘fundamental’ (necessary for all) to ‘specialized’ (necessary for only some). In this study, we determine the degree to which each competency is fundamental or specialized.
We surveyed members of 4 professional organizations, targeting doctorally trained biostatisticians and epidemiologists who taught statistics to medical research learners in the past 5 years. Respondents rated 24 educational competencies on a 5-point Likert scale anchored by ‘fundamental’ and ‘specialized.’
There were 112 responses. Nineteen of 24 competencies were fundamental. The competencies considered most fundamental were assessing sources of bias and variation (95%), recognizing one’s own limits with regard to statistics (93%), identifying the strengths, and limitations of study designs (93%). The least endorsed items were meta-analysis (34%) and stopping rules (18%).
We have identified the statistical competencies needed by all medical researchers. These competencies should be considered when designing statistical curricula for medical researchers and should inform which topics are taught in graduate programs and evidence-based medicine courses where learners need to read and understand the medical research literature.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders and identifying effective treatment strategies is crucial for the control of depression. Well-conducted systematic reviews (SRs) and meta-analyses can provide the best evidence for supporting treatment decision-making. Nevertheless, the trustworthiness of conclusions can be limited by lack of methodological rigour. This study aims to assess the methodological quality of a representative sample of SRs on depression treatments.
A cross-sectional study on the bibliographical and methodological characteristics of SRs published on depression treatments trials was conducted. Two electronic databases (the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects) were searched for potential SRs. SRs with at least one meta-analysis on the effects of depression treatments were considered eligible. The methodological quality of included SRs was assessed using the validated AMSTAR (Assessing the Methodological Quality of Systematic Reviews) tool. The associations between bibliographical characteristics and scoring on AMSTAR items were analysed using logistic regression analysis.
A total of 358 SRs were included and appraised. Over half of included SRs (n = 195) focused on non-pharmacological treatments and harms were reported in 45.5% (n = 163) of all studies. Studies varied in methods and reporting practices: only 112 (31.3%) took the risk of bias among primary studies into account when formulating conclusions; 245 (68.4%) did not fully declare conflict of interests; 93 (26.0%) reported an ‘a priori’ design and 104 (29.1%) provided lists of both included and excluded studies. Results from regression analyses showed: more recent publications were more likely to report ‘a priori’ designs [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09–1.57], to describe study characteristics fully (AOR 1.16, 95% CI 1.06–1.28), and to assess presence of publication bias (AOR 1.13, 95% CI 1.06–1.19), but were less likely to list both included and excluded studies (AOR 0.86, 95% CI 0.81–0.92). SRs published in journals with higher impact factor (AOR 1.14, 95% CI 1.04–1.25), completed by more review authors (AOR 1.12, 95% CI 1.01–1.24) and SRs on non-pharmacological treatments (AOR 1.62, 95% CI 1.01–2.59) were associated with better performance in publication bias assessment.
The methodological quality of included SRs is disappointing. Future SRs should strive to improve rigour by considering of risk of bias when formulating conclusions, reporting conflict of interests and authors should explicitly describe harms. SR authors should also use appropriate methods to combine the results, prevent language and publication biases, and ensure timely updates.
Replicability of findings is an essential prerequisite of research. For both basic and clinical research, however, low replicability of findings has recently been reported. Replicability may be affected by research biases not sufficiently controlled for by the existing research standards. Several biases such as researcher allegiance or selective reporting are well-known for affecting results. For psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy research, specific additional biases may affect outcome (e.g. therapist allegiance, therapist effects or impairments in treatment implementation). For meta-analyses further specific biases are relevant. In psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy research these biases have not yet been systematically discussed in the context of replicability. Using a list of 13 biases as a starting point, we discuss each bias's impact on replicability. We illustrate each bias by selective findings of recent research, showing that (1) several biases are not yet sufficiently controlled for by the presently applied research standards, (2) these biases have a pernicious effect on replicability of findings. For the sake of research credibility, it is critical to avoid these biases in future research. To control for biases and to improve replicability, we propose to systematically implement several measures in psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy research, such as adversarial collaboration (inviting academic rivals to collaborate), reviewing study design prior to knowing the results, triple-blind data analysis (including subjects, investigators and data managers/statisticians), data analysis by other research teams (crowdsourcing), and, last not least, updating reporting standards such as CONSORT or the Template for Intervention Description and Replication (TIDieR).