The UK Medical Research Council’s widely used guidance for developing and evaluating complex interventions has been replaced by a new framework, commissioned jointly by the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research, which takes account of recent developments in theory and methods and the need to maximise the efficiency, use, and impact of research.
Objective To evaluate the effectiveness and costs of a multifaceted flexible educational programme aimed at reducing antibiotic dispensing at the practice level in primary care.Design Randomised controlled trial with general practices as the unit of randomisation and analysis. Clinicians and researchers were blinded to group allocation until after randomisation.Setting 68 general practices with about 480 000 patients in Wales, United Kingdom.Participants 34 practices were randomised to receive the educational programme and 34 practices to be controls. 139 clinicians from the intervention practices and 124 from control practices had agreed to participate before randomisation. Practice level data covering all the clinicians in the 68 practices were analysed.Interventions Intervention practices followed the Stemming the Tide of Antibiotic Resistance (STAR) educational programme, which included a practice based seminar reflecting on the practices’ own dispensing and resistance data, online educational elements, and practising consulting skills in routine care. Control practices provided usual care.Main outcome measures Total numbers of oral antibiotic items dispensed for all causes per 1000 practice patients in the year after the intervention, adjusted for the previous year’s dispensing. Secondary outcomes included reconsultations, admissions to hospital for selected causes, and costs.Results The rate of oral antibiotic dispensing (items per 1000 registered patients) decreased by 14.1 in the intervention group but increased by 12.1 in the control group, a net difference of 26.1. After adjustment for baseline dispensing rate, this amounted to a 4.2% (95% confidence interval 0.6% to 7.7%) reduction in total oral antibiotic dispensing for the year in the intervention group relative to the control group (P=0.02). Reductions were found for all classes of antibiotics other than penicillinase-resistant penicillins but were largest and significant individually for phenoxymethylpenicillins (penicillin V) (7.3%, 0.4% to 13.7%) and macrolides (7.7%, 1.1% to 13.8%). There were no significant differences between intervention and control practices in the number of admissions to hospital or in reconsultations for a respiratory tract infection within seven days of an index consultation. The mean cost of the programme was £2923 (€3491, $4572) per practice (SD £1187). There was a 5.5% reduction in the cost of dispensed antibiotics in the intervention group compared with the control group (−0.4% to 11.4%), equivalent to a reduction of about £830 a year for an average intervention practice.Conclusion The STAR educational programme led to reductions in all cause oral antibiotic dispensing over the subsequent year with no significant change in admissions to hospital, reconsultations, or costs.Trial registration ISRCT No 63355948.
Objective To establish whether an interactive booklet on respiratory tract infections in children reduces reconsultation for the same illness episode, reduces antibiotic use, and affects future consulting intentions, while maintaining parental satisfaction with care.Design Pragmatic cluster randomised controlled trial. Setting 61 general practices in Wales and England.Participants 558 children (6 months to 14 years) presenting to primary care with an acute respiratory tract infection (7 days or less). Children with suspected pneumonia, asthma or a serious concomitant illness, or needing immediate hospital admission were excluded. Three withdrew and 27 were lost to follow-up, leaving 528 (94.6%) with main outcome data.Interventions Clinicians in the intervention group were trained in the use of an interactive booklet on respiratory tract infections and asked to use the booklet during consultations with recruited patients (and provide it as a take home resource). Clinicians in the control group conducted their consultations as usual.Main outcome measures The proportion of children who attended a face-to-face consultation about the same illness during the two week follow-up period. Secondary outcomes included antibiotic prescribing, antibiotic consumption, future consulting intentions, and parental satisfaction, reassurance, and enablement.Results Reconsultation occurred in 12.9% of children in the intervention group and 16.2% in the control group (absolute risk reduction 3.3%, 95% confidence interval −2.7% to 9.3%, P=0.29). Using multilevel modelling (at the practice and individual level) to account for clustering, no significant difference in reconsulting was noted (odds ratio 0.75; 0.41 to 1.38). Antibiotics were prescribed at the index consultation to 19.5% of children in the intervention group and 40.8% of children in the control group (absolute risk reduction 21.3%, 95% confidence interval 13.7 to 28.9), P<0.001). A significant difference was still present after adjusting for clustering (odds ratio 0.29; 0.14 to 0.60). There was also a significant difference in the proportion of parents who said they would consult in the future if their child developed a similar illness (odds ratio 0.34; 0.20 to 0.57). Satisfaction, reassurance, and parental enablement scores were not significantly different between the two groups.Conclusions Use of a booklet on respiratory tract infections in children within primary care consultations led to important reductions in antibiotic prescribing and reduced intention to consult without reducing satisfaction with care.Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN46104365
Observed effect sizes for clinical outcomes suggest the structured exercise program has benefit for persons with HD; larger scale trials are warranted.Video Abstract available (see Video, Supplemental Digital Content 1, http://links.lww.com/JNPT/A60) for more insights from the authors.
Background The Medical Research Council published the second edition of its framework in 2006 on developing and evaluating complex interventions. Since then, there have been considerable developments in the field of complex intervention research. The objective of this project was to update the framework in the light of these developments. The framework aims to help research teams prioritise research questions and design, and conduct research with an appropriate choice of methods, rather than to provide detailed guidance on the use of specific methods. Methods There were four stages to the update: (1) gap analysis to identify developments in the methods and practice since the previous framework was published; (2) an expert workshop of 36 participants to discuss the topics identified in the gap analysis; (3) an open consultation process to seek comments on a first draft of the new framework; and (4) findings from the previous stages were used to redraft the framework, and final expert review was obtained. The process was overseen by a Scientific Advisory Group representing the range of relevant National Institute for Health Research and Medical Research Council research investments. Results Key changes to the previous framework include (1) an updated definition of complex interventions, highlighting the dynamic relationship between the intervention and its context; (2) an emphasis on the use of diverse research perspectives: efficacy, effectiveness, theory-based and systems perspectives; (3) a focus on the usefulness of evidence as the basis for determining research perspective and questions; (4) an increased focus on interventions developed outside research teams, for example changes in policy or health services delivery; and (5) the identification of six ‘core elements’ that should guide all phases of complex intervention research: consider context; develop, refine and test programme theory; engage stakeholders; identify key uncertainties; refine the intervention; and economic considerations. We divide the research process into four phases: development, feasibility, evaluation and implementation. For each phase we provide a concise summary of recent developments, key points to address and signposts to further reading. We also present case studies to illustrate the points being made throughout. Limitations The framework aims to help research teams prioritise research questions and design and conduct research with an appropriate choice of methods, rather than to provide detailed guidance on the use of specific methods. In many of the areas of innovation that we highlight, such as the use of systems approaches, there are still only a few practical examples. We refer to more specific and detailed guidance where available and note where promising approaches require further development. Conclusions This new framework incorporates developments in complex intervention research published since the previous edition was written in 2006. As well as taking account of established practice and recent refinements, we draw attention to new approaches and place greater emphasis on economic considerations in complex intervention research. We have introduced a new emphasis on the importance of context and the value of understanding interventions as ‘events in systems’ that produce effects through interactions with features of the contexts in which they are implemented. The framework adopts a pluralist approach, encouraging researchers and research funders to adopt diverse research perspectives and to select research questions and methods pragmatically, with the aim of providing evidence that is useful to decision-makers. Future work We call for further work to develop relevant methods and provide examples in practice. The use of this framework should be monitored and the move should be made to a more fluid resource in the future, for example a web-based format that can be frequently updated to incorporate new material and links to emerging resources. Funding This project was jointly funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (Department of Health and Social Care 73514).
Though a link between sexual victimization and alcohol use has been well documented, the mechanisms underlying this relationship remain unclear. The current study used path analysis to examine the role of self-reported levels of psychological distress and the function of alcohol use as indirect pathways between adult sexual assault and alcohol use. Participants were 318 undergraduate female victims and nonvictims of adult sexual assault. Results showed that a history of sexual assault was associated with increased psychological distress, which in turn contributed to alcohol use via negative reinforcement. Taken together, these findings provided support for the hypothesis that women who have been sexually assaulted consume alcohol, in part, to self-medicate. The implications for future research are discussed.
Objectives To evaluate the effect of training primary care health professionals in behaviour change counselling on the proportion of patients self reporting change in four risk behaviours (smoking, alcohol use, exercise, and healthy eating).Design Cluster randomised trial with general practices as the unit of randomisation.Setting General practices in Wales.Participants 53 general practitioners and practice nurses from 27 general practices (one each at all but one practice) recruited 1827 patients who screened positive for at least one risky behaviour.Intervention Behaviour change counselling was developed from motivational interviewing to enable clinicians to enhance patients’ motivation to change health related behaviour. Clinicians were trained using a blended learning programme called Talking Lifestyles.Main outcome measures Proportion of patients who reported making beneficial changes in at least one of the four risky behaviours at three months.Results 1308 patients from 13 intervention and 1496 from 14 control practices were approached: 76% and 72% respectively agreed to participate, with 831 (84%) and 996 (92%) respectively screening eligible for an intervention. There was no effect on the primary outcome (beneficial change in behaviour) at three months (362 (44%) v 404 (41%), odds ratio 1.12 (95% CI 0.90 to 1.39)) or on biochemical or biometric measures at 12 months. More patients who had consulted with trained clinicians recalled consultation discussion about a health behaviour (724/795 (91%) v 531/966 (55%), odds ratio 12.44 (5.85 to 26.46)) and intended to change (599/831 (72%) v 491/996 (49%), odds ratio 2.88 (2.05 to 4.05)). More intervention practice patients reported making an attempt to change (328 (39%) v 317 (32%), odds ratio 1.40 (1.15 to 1.70)), a sustained behaviour change at three months (288 (35%) v 280 (28%), odds ratio 1.36 (1.11 to 1.65)), and reported slightly greater improvements in healthy eating at three and 12 months, plus improved activity at 12 months. Training cost £1597 per practice.Discussion Training primary care clinicians in behaviour change counselling using a brief blended learning programme did not increase patients reported beneficial behaviour change at three months or improve biometric and a biochemical measure at 12 months, but it did increase patients’ recollection of discussing behaviour change with their clinicians, intentions to change, attempts to change, and perceptions of having made a lasting change at three months. Enduring behaviour change and improvements in biometric measures are unlikely after a single routine consultation with a clinician trained in behaviour change counselling without additional intervention.Trial registration ISRCTN 22495456
Antimicrobial resistance is only one of a range of important influences on GPs decisions whether or not to prescribe an antibiotic and is not the most immediate. These influences all need to be taken into account when promoting a more cautious use of antibiotics in primary care. More information from microbiologist colleagues about local resistance would be clinically useful, but on its own, may paradoxically influence some GPs to prescribe newer, broader spectrum agents more often.
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