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Barriers and Facilitators to the Integration of Depression Services in Primary Care in Vietnam: A Mixed Methods Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-08-16
Abstract: 

Background  Although the prevalence of depression in Vietnam is on par with global rates, services for depression are limited. The government of Vietnam has prioritized enhancing depression care through primary healthcare (PHC) and efforts are currently underway to test and scale-up psychosocial interventions throughout the country. With these initiatives in progress, it is important to understand implementation factors that might influence the successful integration of depression services into PHC. As the implementers of these new interventions, primary care providers (PHPs) are well placed to provide important insight into implementation factors affecting the integration of depression services into PHC. This mixed-methods study examines factors at the individual, organizational and structural levels that may act as barriers and facilitators to the integration of depression services into PHC in Vietnam from the perspective of PHPs.

Methods  Data collection took place in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2014. We conducted semi-structured interviews with PHPs (n = 30) at commune health centres and outpatient clinics in one rural and one urban district of Hanoi. Theoretical thematic analysis was used to analyse interview data. We administered an online survey to PHPs at n = 150 randomly selected communes across Hanoi. N = 226 PHPs responded to the survey. We used descriptive statistics to describe the study variables acting as barriers and facilitators and used a chi-square test of independence to indicate statistically significant (p < .05) associations between study variables and the profession, location and gender of PHPs.

Results  Individual-level barriers include low level of knowledge and familiarity with depression among PHPs. Organizational barriers include low resource availability in PHC and low managerial discretion. Barriers at the structural level include limited mental health training among all PHPs and the existing programmatic structure of PHC in Vietnam, which sets mental health apart from general services. Facilitators at the individual level include positive attitudes among PHPs towards people with depression and interest in undergoing enhanced training in depression service delivery.

Conclusions  While facilitating factors at the individual level are encouraging, considerable barriers at the structural level must be addressed to ensure the successful integration of depression services into PHC in Vietnam.

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Article
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Standardising Costs or Standardising Care? Qualitative Evaluation of the Implementation and Impact of a Hospital Funding Reform in Ontario, Canada

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-08-03
Abstract: 

Background  Since 2011, the Government of Ontario, Canada, has phased in hospital funding reforms hoping to encourage standardised, evidence-based clinical care processes to both improve patient outcomes and reduce system costs. One aspect of the reform – quality-based procedures (QBPs) – replaced some of each hospital’s global budget with a pre-set price per episode of care for patients with specific diagnoses or procedures. The QBP initiative included publication and dissemination of a handbook for each of these diagnoses or procedures, developed by an expert technical group. Each handbook was intended to guide hospitals in reducing inappropriate variation in patient care and cost by specifying an evidence-based episode of care pathway. We explored whether, how and why hospitals implemented these episode of care pathways in response to this initiative.

Methods  We interviewed key informants at three levels in the healthcare system, namely individuals who conceived and designed the QBP policy, individuals and organisations supporting QBP adoption, and leaders in five case-study hospitals responsible for QBP implementation. Analysis involved an inductive approach, incorporating framework analysis to generate descriptive and explanatory themes from data.

Results  The 46 key informants described variable implementation of best practice episode of care pathways across QBPs and across hospitals. Handbooks outlining evidence-based clinical pathways did not address specific barriers to change for different QBPs nor differences in hospitals’ capacity to manage change. Hospitals sometimes found it easier to focus on containing and standardising costs of care than on implementing standardised care processes that adhered to best clinical practices.

Conclusion  Implementation of QBPs in Ontario’s hospitals depended on the interplay between three factors, namely complexity of changes required, internal capacity for organisational change, and availability and appropriateness of targeted external facilitators and supports to manage change. Variation in these factors across QBPs and hospitals suggests the need for more tailored and flexible implementation supports designed to fit all elements of the policy, rather than one-size-fits-all handbooks alone. Without such supports, hospitals may enact quick fixes aimed mainly at preserving budgets, rather than pursue evidence- and value-based changes in care management. Overestimating hospitals’ change management capacity increases the risk of implementation failure.

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Article
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Longitudinal Within-host Evolution of HIV Nef-mediated CD4, HLA and SERINC5 Downregulation Activity: A Case Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-01-09
Abstract: 

The HIV accessory protein Nef downregulates the viral entry receptor CD4, the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-A and -B molecules, the Serine incorporator 5 (SERINC5) protein and other molecules from the infected cell surface, thereby promoting viral infectivity, replication and immune evasion. The nef locus also represents one of the most genetically variable regions in the HIV genome, and nef sequences undergo substantial evolution within a single individual over the course of infection. Few studies however have simultaneously characterized the impact of within-host nef sequence evolution on Nef protein function over prolonged timescales. Here, we isolated 50 unique Nef clones by single-genome amplification over an 11-year period from the plasma of an individual who was largely naïve to antiretroviral treatment during this time. Together, these clones harbored nonsynonymous substitutions at 13% of nef’s codons. We assessed their ability to downregulate cell-surface CD4, HLA and SERINC5 and observed that all three Nef functions declined modestly over time, where the reductions in CD4 and HLA downregulation (an average of 0.6% and 2.0% per year, respectively) achieved statistical significance. The results from this case study support all three Nef activities as being important to maintain throughout untreated HIV infection, but nevertheless suggest that, despite nef’s mutational plasticity, within-host viral evolution can compromise Nef function, albeit modestly, over prolonged periods.

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Article
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“I Didn’t Have to Prove to Anybody That I Was a Good Candidate”: A Case Study Framing International Bariatric Tourism by Canadians as Circumvention Tourism

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-02
Abstract: 

Background  Medical tourism is a practice where patients travel internationally to purchase medical services. Medical tourists travel abroad for reasons including costly care, long wait times for care, and limited availability of desired procedures stemming from legal and/or regulatory restrictions. This paper examines bariatric (weight loss) surgery obtained abroad by Canadians through the lens of ‘circumvention tourism’ – typically applied to cases of circumvention of legal barriers but here applied to regulatory circumvention. Despite bariatric surgery being available domestically through public funding, many Canadians travel abroad to obtain these surgeries in order to circumvent barriers restricting access to this care. Little, however, is known about why these barriers push some patients to obtain these surgeries abroad and the effects of this circumvention.

Methods  Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted with 20 former Canadian bariatric tourists between February and May of 2016. Interview questions probed patients’ motivations for seeking care abroad, as well as experiences with attempting to obtain care domestically and internationally. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and then thematically analyzed.

Results  Three key barriers to access were identified: (1) structural barriers resulting in limited locally available options; (2) strict body mass index cut-off points to qualify for publicly-funded surgery; and (3) the extended wait-time and level of commitment required of the mandatory pre-operative program in Canada. It was not uncommon for participants to experience a combination, if not all, of these barriers.

Conclusions  Collectively, these barriers restricting domestic access to bariatric care in Canada may leave Canadian patients with a sense that their health care system is not adequately addressing their specific health care needs. In circumventing these barriers, patients may feel empowered in their health care opportunities; however, significant concerns are raised when patients bypass protections built into the health system. Given the practical limitations of a publicly funded health care system, these barriers to care are likely to persist. Health professionals and policy makers in Canada should consider these barriers in the future when examining the implications medical tourism for bariatric surgery holds for Canadians.

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Article
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A Critical Examination of Empowerment Discourse in Medical Tourism: The Case of the Dental Tourism Industry in Los Algodones, Mexico

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-20
Abstract: 

Background  Medical tourism is a term used to describe the phenomenon of individuals intentionally traveling across national borders to privately purchase medical care. The medical tourism industry has been portrayed in the media as an “escape valve” providing alternative care options as a result of vast economic asymmetries between the global north and global south and the flexible regulatory environment in which care is provided to medical tourists. Discourse suggesting the medical tourism industry necessarily enhances access to medical care has been employed by industry stakeholders to promote continued expansion of the industry; however, it remains unknown how this discourse informs industry practices on the ground. Using case study methodology, this research examines the perspectives and experiences of industry stakeholders working and living in a dental tourism industry site in northern Mexico to develop a better understanding of the ways in which common discourses of the industry are taken up or resisted by various industry stakeholders and the possible implications of these practices on health equity.

Results  Interview discussions with a range of industry stakeholders suggest that care provision in this particular location enables international patients to access high quality dental care at more affordable prices than typically available in their home countries. However, interview participants also raised concerns about the quality of care provided to medical tourists and poor access to needed care amongst local populations. These concerns disrupt discourses about the positive health impacts of the industry commonly circulated by industry stakeholders positioned to profit from these unjust industry practices.

Conclusions  We argue in this paper that elite industry stakeholders in our case site took up discourses of medical tourism as enhancing access to care in ways that mask health equity concerns for the industry and justify particular industry activities despite health equity concerns for these practices. This research provides new insight into the ways in which the medical tourism industry raises ethical concern and the structures of power informing unethical practices.

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Article
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Prevention: Reaching more kids

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020
Abstract: 

Background: Effective prevention programs are particularly crucial to reduce the number of children in need of mental health treatment services. Yet despite growing research evidence on effective programs, prevention efforts remain modest in many jurisdictions.  Given the high levels of unmet needs, reaching more children is a priority. One approach is to identify prevention options that are more self-directed and less reliant on direct provision by practitioners, such as online programming and self-help tools.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify randomized control trials (RCTs) evaluating self-directed prevention interventions. Applying our inclusion criteria, we accepted eight RCTs evaluating seven prevention interventions.

Results: The seven self-directed interventions prevented or reduce symptoms of the five most common childhood mental concerns — anxiety, ADHD, problematic substance use, behaviour problems and depression. These interventions assisted children and youth across a range of ages, from the preschool years to the teens.

Conclusions: Strong research evidence supports the use of self-directed prevention interventions as part of the continuum of care for the most common childhood mental health concerns. Including these types of interventions in overall service planning can enable providers to reach many more children, youth and families, in turn potentially lowering the need for treatment. Comprehensive children’s mental health plans should therefore include these kinds of prevention programs.

Impact of New Rapid Transit on Physical Activity: A Meta-analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-03-11
Abstract: 

New rapid transit investments have been motivated by environmental, economic, and health benefits. Given transit's potential to increase active travel, recent research leverages transit changes for natural experiment studies to examine physical activity outcomes. We aimed to quantify the association size, critically examine existing literature, and make recommendations for future studies to advance research and policies on active travel, transportation, and physical activity. Studies of physical activity impacts following transit interventions were systematically reviewed using seven health and transport databases (May–July 2017). Two investigators extracted data on sample size, intervention, pre- and post-intervention physical activity, and relevant measurement information. Inconsistency of results and estimated overall mean physical activity change post-intervention were assessed. Forest plots were created from physical activity change in each study using a general variance-based random effects model. Of 18 peer-reviewed articles examining health behaviors, 15 addressed physical activity and five were natural experiment studies with pre- and post- intervention measurements. Studies varied by intervention, duration, outcome measurement, sampling location, and spatial method. Q (201) and I2 (98%) indicated high study heterogeneity. Among these five studies, after transit interventions, total physical activity decreased (combined mean - 80.4 min/week, 95% CI - 157.9, −2.9), but transport-related physical activity increased (mean 6.7 min/week, 95% CI - 10.1, 23.5). Following new transit infrastructure, total physical activity may decline but transport-related physical activity may increase. Positive transit benefits were location, sociodemographic, or activity-specific. Future studies should address context, ensure adequate follow-up, utilize controls, and consider non-residential environments or participants.

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Article
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Predictors of Facebook User Engagement With Health-Related Content for Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men: Content Analysis

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-04-06
Abstract: 

Background: Social media is used by community-based organizations (CBOs) to promote the well-being of gay and bisexual men (GBM). However, few studies have quantified which factors facilitate the diffusion of health content tailored for sexual minorities.

Objective: The aim of this study was to identify post characteristics that can be leveraged to optimize the health promotion efforts of CBOs on Facebook.

Methods: The Facebook application programming interface was used to collect 5 years’ of posts shared across 10 Facebook pages administered by Vancouver-based CBOs promoting GBM health. Network analysis assessed basic indicators of network structure. Content analyses were conducted using informatics-based approaches. Hierarchical negative binomial regression of post engagement data was used to identify meaningful covariates of engagement.

Results: In total, 14,071 posts were shared and 21,537 users engaged with these posts. Most users (n=13,315) engaged only once. There was moderate correlation between the number of posts and the number of CBOs users engaged with (r=.53, P<.001). Higher user engagement was positively associated with positive sentiment, sharing multimedia, and posting about pre-exposure prophylaxis, stigma, and mental health. Engagement was negatively associated with asking questions, posting about dating, and sharing posts during or after work (versus before).

Conclusions: Results highlight the existence of a core group of Facebook users who facilitate diffusion. Factors associated with greater user engagement present CBOs with a number of strategies for improving the diffusion of health content.

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Article
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The Fundamental Association Between Mental Health and Life Satisfaction: Results from Successive Waves of a Canadian National Survey

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-03-12
Abstract: 

Background: A self-reported life satisfaction question is routinely used as an indicator of societal well-being. Several studies support that mental illness is an important determinant for life satisfaction and improvement of mental healthcare access therefore could have beneficial effects on a population’s life satisfaction. However, only a few studies report the relationship between subjective mental health and life satisfaction. Subjective mental health is a broader concept than the presence or absence of psychopathology. In this study, we examine the strength of the association between a self-reported mental health question and self-reported life satisfaction, taking into account other relevant factors.

Methods: We conducted this analysis using successive waves of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) collected between 2003 and 2012. Respondents included more than 400,000 participants aged 12 and over. We extracted information on self-reported mental health, socio-demographic and other factors and examined correlation with self-reported life satisfaction using a proportional ordered logistic regression.

Results: Life satisfaction was strongly associated with self-reported mental health, even after simultaneously considering factors such as income, general health, and gender. The poor-self-reported mental health group had a particularly low life satisfaction. In the fair-self-reported mental health category, the odds of having a higher life satisfaction were 2.35 (95% CI 2.21 to 2.50) times higher than the odds in the poor category. In contrast, for the “between 60,000 CAD and 79,999 CAD” household income category, the odds of having a higher life satisfaction were only 1.96 (95% CI 1.90 to 2.01) times higher than the odds in the “less than 19,999 CAD” category.

Conclusions: Subjective mental health contributes highly to life satisfaction, being more strongly associated than other selected previously known factors. Future studies could be useful to deepen our understanding of the interplay between subjective mental health, mental illness and life satisfaction. This may be beneficial for developing public health policies that optimize mental health promotion, illness prevention and treatment of mental disorders to enhance life satisfaction in the general population.

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Article
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Low-level Lead Exposure and Mortality in US Adults: A Population-based Cohort Study

Peer reviewed: 
Yes, item is peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-03-12
Abstract: 

Background: Lead exposure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease mortality, but the number of deaths in the USA attributable to lead exposure is poorly defined. We aimed to quantify the relative contribution of environmental lead exposure to all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, and ischaemic heart disease mortality.

Methods: Our study population comprised a nationally representative sample of adults aged 20 years or older who were enrolled in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) between 1988 and 1994 and followed up to Dec 31, 2011. Participants had completed a medical examination and home interview and had results for concentrations of lead in blood, cadmium in urine, and other relevant covariates. Individuals were linked with the National Death Index. This study presents extended follow-up of an earlier analysis.

Findings: We included 14289 adults in our study. The geometric mean concentration of lead in blood was 2·71 µg/dL (geometric SE 1·31). 3632 (20%) participants had a concentration of lead in blood of at least 5 µg/dL (≥0·24 μmol/L). During median follow-up of 19·3 years (IQR 17·6–21·0), 4422 people died, 1801 (38%) from cardiovascular disease and 988 (22%) from ischaemic heart disease. An increase in the concentration of lead in blood from 1·0 µg/dL to 6·7 µg/dL (0·048 μmol/L to 0·324 μmol/L), which represents the tenth to 90th percentiles, was associated with all-cause mortality (hazard ratio 1·37, 95% CI 1·17–1·60), cardiovascular disease mortality (1·70, 1·30–2·22), and ischaemic heart disease mortality (2·08, 1·52–2·85). The population attributable fraction of the concentration of lead in blood for all-cause mortality was 18·0% (95% CI 10·9–26·1), which is equivalent to 412000 deaths annually. Respective fractions were 28·7% (15·5–39·5) for cardiovascular disease mortality and 37·4% (23·4–48·6) for ischaemic heart disease mortality, which correspond to 256000 deaths a year from cardiovascular disease and 185000 deaths a year from ischaemic heart disease.

Interpretation: Low-level environmental lead exposure is an important, but largely overlooked, risk factor for cardiovascular disease mortality in the USA. A comprehensive strategy to prevent deaths from cardiovascular disease should include efforts to reduce lead exposure.

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Article
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