Health Services and Delivery Research

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ISSN / EISSN : 2050-4349 / 2050-4357
Total articles ≅ 331
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, , Elizabeth Biswell, , , , James Fuller, , Nigel Hewett, Alan Kilmister, et al.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-186;

Background In 2013, 70% of people who were homeless on admission to hospital were discharged back to the street without having their care and support needs addressed. In response, the UK government provided funding for 52 new specialist homeless hospital discharge schemes. This study employed RAMESES II (Realist And Meta-narrative Evidence Syntheses: Evolving Standards) guidelines between September 2015 and 2019 to undertake a realist evaluation to establish what worked, for whom, under what circumstances and why. It was hypothesised that delivering outcomes linked to consistently safe, timely care transfers for homeless patients would depend on hospital discharge schemes implementing a series of high-impact changes (resource mechanisms). These changes encompassed multidisciplinary discharge co-ordination (delivered through clinically led homeless teams) and ‘step-down’ intermediate care. These facilitated time-limited care and support and alternative pathways out of hospital for people who could not go straight home. Methods The realist hypothesis was tested empirically and refined through three work packages. Work package 1 generated seven qualitative case studies, comparing sites with different types of specialist homeless hospital discharge schemes (n = 5) and those with no specialist discharge scheme (standard care) (n = 2). Methods of data collection included interviews with 77 practitioners and stakeholders and 70 people who were homeless on admission to hospital. A ‘data linkage’ process (work package 2) and an economic evaluation (work package 3) were also undertaken. The data linkage process resulted in data being collected on > 3882 patients from 17 discharge schemes across England. The study involved people with lived experience of homelessness in all stages. Results There was strong evidence to support our realist hypothesis. Specialist homeless hospital discharge schemes employing multidisciplinary discharge co-ordination and ‘step-down’ intermediate care were more effective and cost-effective than standard care. Specialist care was shown to reduce delayed transfers of care. Accident and emergency visits were also 18% lower among homeless patients discharged at a site with a step-down service than at those without. However, there was an impact on the effectiveness of the schemes when they were underfunded or when there was a shortage of permanent supportive housing and longer-term care and support. In these contexts, it remained (tacitly) accepted practice (across both standard and specialist care sites) to discharge homeless patients to the streets, rather than delay their transfer. We found little evidence that discharge schemes fired a change in reasoning with regard to the cultural distance that positions ‘homeless patients’ as somehow less vulnerable than other groups of patients. We refined our hypothesis to reflect that high-impact changes need to be underpinned by robust adult safeguarding. Strengths and limitations To our knowledge, this is the largest study of the outcomes of homeless patients discharged from hospital in the UK. Owing to issues with the comparator group, the effectiveness analysis undertaken for the data linkage was limited to comparisons of different types of specialist discharge scheme (rather than specialist vs. standard care). Future work There is a need to consider approaches that align with those for value or alliance-based commissioning where the evaluative gaze is shifted from discrete interventions to understanding how the system is working as a whole to deliver outcomes for a defined patient population. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 17. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
, , Beth Hall, , , Lynne Williams, , , Candida Lovell-Smith, John Gallanders, et al.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-104;

Background As people age and accumulate long-term conditions, their physical activity and physical function declines, resulting in disability and loss of independence. Primary care is well placed to empower individuals and communities to reduce this decline; however, the best approach is uncertain. Objectives To develop a programme theory to explain the mechanisms through which interventions improve physical activity and physical function in people with long-term conditions in different primary care contexts, and to co-design a prototype intervention. Data sources Systematic literature searches of relevant databases with forwards and backwards citation tracking, grey literature searches and further purposive searches were conducted. Qualitative data were collected through workshops and interviews. Design Realist evidence synthesis and co-design for primary care service innovation. Setting Primary care in Wales and England. Participants Stakeholders included people with long-term conditions, primary care professionals, people working in relevant community roles and researchers. Methods The realist evidence synthesis combined evidence from varied sources of literature with the views, experiences and ideas of stakeholders. The resulting context, mechanism and outcome statements informed three co-design workshops and a knowledge mobilisation workshop for primary care service innovation. Results Five context, mechanism and outcome statements were developed. (1) Improving physical activity and function is not prioritised in primary care (context). If the practice team culture is aligned to the elements of physical literacy (mechanism), then physical activity promotion will become routine and embedded in usual care (outcome). (2) Physical activity promotion is inconsistent and unco-ordinated (context). If specific resources are allocated to physical activity promotion (in combination with a supportive practice culture) (mechanism), then this will improve opportunities to change behaviour (outcome). (3) People with long-term conditions have varying levels of physical function and physical activity, varying attitudes to physical activity and differing access to local resources that enable physical activity (context). If physical activity promotion is adapted to individual needs, preferences and local resources (mechanism), then this will facilitate a sustained improvement in physical activity (outcome). (4) Many primary care practice staff lack the knowledge and confidence to promote physical activity (context). If staff develop an improved sense of capability through education and training (mechanism), then they will increase their engagement with physical activity promotion (outcome). (5) If a programme is credible with patients and professionals (context), then trust and confidence in the programme will develop (mechanism) and more patients and professionals will engage with the programme (outcome). A prototype multicomponent intervention was developed. This consisted of resources to nurture a culture of physical literacy, materials to develop the role of a credible professional who can promote physical activity using a directory of local opportunities and resources to assist with individual behaviour change. Limitations Realist synthesis and co-design is about what works in which contexts, so these resources and practice implications will need to be modified for different primary care contexts. Conclusions We developed a programme theory to explain how physical activity could be promoted in primary care in people with long-term conditions, which informed a prototype intervention. Future work A future research programme could further develop the prototype multicomponent intervention and assess its acceptability in practice alongside existing schemes before it is tested in a feasibility study to inform a future randomised controlled trial. Study registration This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42018103027. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 16. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
, , , Michael Davidson, Graziella Favarato, , Terry Harper, , Hameed Khan, , et al.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-122;

Background For people in mental health crisis, acute day units provide daily structured sessions and peer support in non-residential settings as an alternative to crisis resolution teams. Objectives To investigate the provision, effectiveness, intervention acceptability and re-admission rates of acute day units. Design Work package 1 – mapping and national questionnaire survey of acute day units. Work package 2.1 – cohort study comparing outcomes during a 6-month period between acute day unit and crisis resolution team participants. Work package 2.2 – qualitative interviews with staff and service users of acute day units. Work package 3 – a cohort study within the Mental Health Minimum Data Set exploring re-admissions to acute care over 6 months. A patient and public involvement group supported the study throughout. Setting and participants Work package 1 – all non-residential acute day units (NHS and voluntary sector) in England. Work packages 2.1 and 2.2 – four NHS trusts with staff, service users and carers in acute day units and crisis resolution teams. Work package 3 – all individuals using mental health NHS trusts in England. Results Work package 1 – we identified 27 acute day units in 17 out of 58 trusts. Acute day units are typically available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., providing a wide range of interventions and a multidisciplinary team, including clinicians, and having an average attendance of 5 weeks. Work package 2.1 – we recruited 744 participants (acute day units, n = 431; crisis resolution teams, n = 312). In the primary analysis, 21% of acute day unit participants (vs. 23% of crisis resolution team participants) were re-admitted to acute mental health services over 6 months. There was no statistically significant difference in the fully adjusted model (acute day unit hazard ratio 0.78, 95% confidence interval 0.54 to 1.14; p = 0.20), with highly heterogeneous results between trusts. Acute day unit participants had higher satisfaction and well-being scores and lower depression scores than crisis resolution team participants. The health economics analysis found no difference in resource use or cost between the acute day unit and crisis resolution team groups in the fully adjusted analysis. Work package 2.2 – 36 people were interviewed (acute day unit staff, n = 12; service users, n = 21; carers, n = 3). There was an overwhelming consensus that acute day units are highly valued. Service users found the high amount of contact time and staff continuity, peer support and structure provided by acute day units particularly beneficial. Staff also valued providing continuity, building strong therapeutic relationships and providing a variety of flexible, personalised support. Work package 3 – of 231,998 individuals discharged from acute care (crisis resolution team, acute day unit or inpatient ward), 21.4% were re-admitted for acute treatment within 6 months, with women, single people, people of mixed or black ethnicity, those living in more deprived areas and those in the severe psychosis care cluster being more likely to be re-admitted. Little variation in re-admissions was explained at the trust level, or between trusts with and trusts without acute day units (adjusted odds ratio 0.96, 95% confidence interval 0.80 to 1.15). Limitations In work package 1, some of the information is likely to be incomplete as a result of trusts’ self-reporting. There may have been recruitment bias in work packages 2.1 and 2.2. Part of the health economics analysis relied on clinical Health of the Nations Outcome Scale ratings. The Mental Health Minimum Data Set did not contain a variable identifying acute day units, and some covariates had a considerable number of missing data. Conclusions Acute day units are not provided routinely in the NHS but are highly valued by staff and service users, giving better outcomes in terms of satisfaction, well-being and depression than, and no significant differences in risk of re-admission or increased costs from, crisis resolution teams. Future work should investigate wider health and care system structures and the place of acute day units within them; the development of a model of best practice for acute day units; and staff turnover and well-being (including the impacts of these on care). Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 18. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-162;

Background More effective ways of managing symptoms of chronic and terminal illness enable patients to be cared for, and to die, at home. This requires patients and family caregivers to manage complex medicines regimens, including powerful painkillers that can have serious side effects. Little is known about how patients and family caregivers manage the physical and emotional work of managing medicines in the home or the support that they receive from health-care professionals and services. Objective To investigate how patients with serious and terminal illness, their family caregivers and the health-care professionals manage complex medication regimens and routines of care in the domestic setting. Design A qualitative study involving (1) semistructured interviews and group discussions with 40 health-care professionals and 21 bereaved family caregivers, (2) 20 patient case studies with up to 4 months’ follow-up and (3) two end-of-project stakeholder workshops. Setting This took place in Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire, UK. Results As patients’ health deteriorated, family caregivers assumed the role of a care co-ordinator, undertaking the everyday work of organising and collecting prescriptions and storing and administering medicines around other care tasks and daily routines. Participants described the difficulties of navigating a complex and fragmented system and the need to remain vigilant about medicines prescribed, especially when changes were made by different professionals. Access to support, resilience and coping capacity are mediated through the resources available to patients, through the relationships that they have with people in their personal and professional networks, and, beyond that, through the wider connections – or disconnections – that these links have with others. Health-care professionals often lacked understanding of the practical and emotional challenges involved. All participants experienced difficulties in communication and organisation within a health-care system that they felt was complicated and poorly co-ordinated. Having a key health professional to support and guide patients and family caregivers through the system was important to a good experience of care. Limitations The study achieved diversity in the recruitment of patients, with different characteristics relating to the type of illness and socioeconomic circumstances. However, recruitment of participants from ethnically diverse and disadvantaged or hard-to-reach populations was particularly challenging, and we were unable to include as many participants from these groups as had been originally planned. Conclusions The study identified two key and inter-related areas in which patient and family caregiver experience of managing medicines at home in end-of-life care could be improved: (1) reducing work and responsibility for medicines management and (2) improving co-ordination and communication in health care. It is important to be mindful of the need for transparency and open discussion about the extent to which patients and family caregivers can and should be co-opted as proto-professionals in the technically and emotionally demanding tasks of managing medicines at the end of life. Future work Priorities for future research include investigating how allocated key professionals could integrate and co-ordinate care and optimise medicines management; the role of domiciliary home care workers in supporting medicines management in end-of-life care; patient and family perspectives and understanding of anticipatory prescribing and their preferences for involvement in decision-making; the experience of medicines management in terminal illness among minority, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach patient groups; and barriers to and facilitators of increased involvement of community pharmacists in palliative and end-of-life care. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 14. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-84;

Background For systematic reviews to be rigorous, deliverable and useful, they need a well-defined review question. Scoping for a review also requires the specification of clear inclusion criteria and planned synthesis methods. Guidance is lacking on how to develop these, especially in the context of undertaking rapid and responsive systematic reviews to inform health services and health policy. Objective This report describes and discusses the experiences of review scoping of three commissioned research centres that conducted evidence syntheses to inform health and social care organisation, delivery and policy in the UK, between 2017 and 2020. Data sources Sources included researcher recollection, project meeting minutes, e-mail correspondence with stakeholders and scoping searches, from allocation of a review topic through to review protocol agreement. Methods We produced eight descriptive case studies of selected reviews from the three teams. From case studies, we identified key issues that shape the processes of scoping and question formulation for evidence synthesis. The issues were then discussed and lessons drawn. Findings Across the eight diverse case studies, we identified 14 recurrent issues that were important in shaping the scoping processes and formulating a review’s questions. There were ‘consultative issues’ that related to securing input from review commissioners, policy customers, experts, patients and other stakeholders. These included managing and deciding priorities, reconciling different priorities/perspectives, achieving buy-in and engagement, educating the end-user about synthesis processes and products, and managing stakeholder expectations. There were ‘interface issues’ that related to the interaction between the review team and potential review users. These included identifying the niche/gap and optimising value, assuring and balancing rigour/reliability/relevance, and assuring the transferability/applicability of study evidence to specific policy/service user contexts. There were also ‘technical issues’ that were associated with the methods and conduct of the review. These were choosing the method(s) of synthesis, balancing fixed and fluid review questions/components/definitions, taking stock of what research already exists, mapping versus scoping versus reviewing, scoping/relevance as a continuous process and not just an initial stage, and calibrating general compared with specific and broad compared with deep coverage of topics. Limitations As a retrospective joint reflection by review teams on their experiences of scoping processes, this report is not based on prospectively collected research data. In addition, our evaluations were not externally validated by, for example, policy and service evidence users or patients and the public. Conclusions We have summarised our reflections on scoping from this programme of reviews as 14 common issues and 28 practical ‘lessons learned’. Effective scoping of rapid, responsive reviews extends beyond information exchange and technical procedures for specifying a ‘gap’ in the evidence. These considerations work alongside social processes, in particular the building of relationships and shared understanding between reviewers, research commissioners and potential review users that may be reflective of consultancy, negotiation and co-production models of research and information use. Funding This report has been based on work commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research (HSDR) programme as three university-based evidence synthesis centres to inform the organisation, delivery and commissioning of health and social care; at the University of Exeter (NIHR 16/47/22), the University of Sheffield (NIHR 16/47/17) and the University of York (NIHR 16/47/11). This report was commissioned by the NIHR HSDR programme as a review project (NIHR132708) within the NIHR HSDR programme. This project was funded by the NIHR HSDR programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 15. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
, , Chris Beet, Amunpreet Boyal, , Michael Clancy, , , , , et al.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-166;

Background NHS England’s 7-day services policy comprised 10 standards to improve access to quality health care across all days of the week. Six standards targeted hospital specialists on the assumption that their absence caused the higher mortality associated with weekend hospital admission: the ‘weekend effect’. The High-intensity Specialist-Led Acute Care (HiSLAC) collaboration investigated this using the implementation of 7-day services as a ‘natural experiment’. Objectives The objectives were to determine whether or not increasing specialist intensity at weekends improves outcomes for patients undergoing emergency hospital admission, and to explore mechanisms and cost-effectiveness. Design This was a two-phase mixed-methods observational study. Year 1 focused on developing the methodology. Years 2–5 included longitudinal research using quantitative and qualitative methods, and health economics. Methods A Bayesian systematic literature review from 2000 to 2017 quantified the weekend effect. Specialist intensity measured over 5 years used self-reported annual point prevalence surveys of all specialists in English acute hospital trusts, expressed as the weekend-to-weekday ratio of specialist hours per 10 emergency admissions. Hospital Episode Statistics from 2007 to 2018 provided trends in weekend-to-weekday mortality ratios. Mechanisms for the weekend effect were explored qualitatively through focus groups and on-site observations by qualitative researchers, and a two-epoch case record review across 20 trusts. Case-mix differences were examined in a single trust. Health economics modelling estimated costs and outcomes associated with increased specialist provision. Results Of 141 acute trusts, 115 submitted data to the survey, and 20 contributed 4000 case records for review and participated in qualitative research (involving interviews, and observations using elements of an ethnographic approach). Emergency department attendances and admissions have increased every year, outstripping the increase in specialist numbers; numbers of beds and lengths of stay have decreased. The reduction in mortality has plateaued; the proportion of patients dying after discharge from hospital has increased. Specialist hours increased between 2012/13 and 2017/18. Weekend specialist intensity is half that of weekdays, but there is no relationship with admission mortality. Patients admitted on weekends are sicker (they have more comorbid disease and more of them require palliative care); adjustment for severity of acute illness annuls the weekend effect. In-hospital care processes are slightly more efficient at weekends; care quality (errors, adverse events, global quality) is as good at weekends as on weekdays and has improved with time. Qualitative researcher assessments of hospital weekend quality concurred with case record reviewers at trust level. General practitioner referrals at weekends are one-third of those during weekdays and have declined further with time. Limitations Observational research, variable survey response rates and subjective assessments of care quality were compensated for by using a difference-in-difference analysis over time. Conclusions Hospital care is improving. The weekend effect is associated with factors in the community that precede hospital admission. Post-discharge mortality is increasing. Policy-makers should focus their efforts on improving acute and emergency care on a ‘whole-system’ 7-day approach that integrates social, community and secondary health care. Future work Future work should evaluate the role of doctors in hospital and community emergency care and investigate pathways to emergency admission and quality of care following hospital discharge. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 13. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-218;

Background Most deaths still take place in hospital; cost-effective commissioning of end-of-life resources is a priority. This review provides clarity on the effectiveness of hospital-based specialist palliative care. Objectives The objectives were to assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of hospital-based specialist palliative care. Population Adult patients with advanced illnesses and their unpaid caregivers. Intervention Hospital-based specialist palliative care. Comparators Inpatient or outpatient hospital care without specialist palliative care input at the point of entry to the study, or community care or hospice care provided outside the hospital setting (usual care). Primary outcomes Patient health-related quality of life and symptom burden. Data sources Six databases (The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, PsycINFO and CareSearch), clinical trial registers, reference lists and systematic reviews were searched to August 2019. Review methods Two independent reviewers screened, data extracted and assessed methodological quality. Meta-analysis was carried out using RevMan (The Cochrane Collaboration, The Nordic Cochrane Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark), with separate synthesis of qualitative data. Results Forty-two randomised controlled trials involving 7779 participants (6678 patients and 1101 unpaid caregivers) were included. Diagnoses of participants were as follows: cancer, 21 studies; non-cancer, 14 studies; and mixed cancer and non-cancer, seven studies. Hospital-based specialist palliative care was offered in the following models: ward based (one study), inpatient consult (10 studies), outpatient (six studies), hospital at home or hospital outreach (five studies) and multiple settings that included hospital (20 studies). Meta-analyses demonstrated significant improvement favouring hospital-based specialist palliative care over usual care in patient health-related quality of life (10 studies, standardised mean difference 0.26, 95% confidence interval 0.15 to 0.37; I 2 = 3%) and patient satisfaction with care (two studies, standardised mean difference 0.36, 95% confidence interval 0.14 to 0.57; I 2 = 0%), a significant reduction in patient symptom burden (six studies, standardised mean difference –0.26, 95% confidence interval –0.41 to –0.12; I 2 = 0%) and patient depression (eight studies, standardised mean difference –0.22, 95% confidence interval –0.34 to –0.10; I 2 = 0%), and a significant increase in the chances of patients dying in their preferred place (measured by number of patients with home death) (seven studies, odds ratio 1.63, 95% confidence interval 1.23 to 2.16; I 2 = 0%). There were non-significant improvements in pain (four studies, standardised mean difference –0.16, 95% confidence interval –0.33 to 0.01; I 2 = 0%) and patient anxiety (five studies, mean difference –0.63, 95% confidence interval –2.22 to 0.96; I 2 = 76%). Hospital-based specialist palliative care showed no evidence of causing serious harm. The evidence on mortality/survival and cost-effectiveness was inconclusive. Qualitative studies (10 studies, 322 participants) suggested that hospital-based specialist palliative care was beneficial as it ensured personalised and holistic care for patients and their families, while also fostering open communication, shared decision-making and respectful and compassionate care. Limitation In almost half of the included randomised controlled trials, there was palliative care involvement in the control group. Conclusions Hospital-based specialist palliative care may offer benefits for person-centred outcomes including health-related quality of life, symptom burden, patient depression and satisfaction with care, while also increasing the chances of patients dying in their preferred place (measured by home death) with little evidence of harm. Future work More studies are needed of populations with non-malignant diseases, different models of hospital-based specialist palliative care, and cost-effectiveness. Study registration This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42017083205. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 12. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
Jennie Lister, , , , , , , Catherine Hewitt, , , et al.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-194;

Background People with severe mental illness experience poorer health outcomes than the general population. Diabetes contributes significantly to this health gap. Objectives The objectives were to identify the determinants of diabetes and to explore variation in diabetes outcomes for people with severe mental illness. Design Under a social inequalities framework, a concurrent mixed-methods design combined analysis of linked primary care records with qualitative interviews. Setting The quantitative study was carried out in general practices in England (2000–16). The qualitative study was a community study (undertaken in the North West and in Yorkshire and the Humber). Participants The quantitative study used the longitudinal health records of 32,781 people with severe mental illness (a subset of 3448 people had diabetes) and 9551 ‘controls’ (with diabetes but no severe mental illness), matched on age, sex and practice, from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (GOLD version). The qualitative study participants comprised 39 adults with diabetes and severe mental illness, nine family members and 30 health-care staff. Data sources The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (GOLD) individual patient data were linked to Hospital Episode Statistics, Office for National Statistics mortality data and the Index of Multiple Deprivation. Results People with severe mental illness were more likely to have diabetes if they were taking atypical antipsychotics, were living in areas of social deprivation, or were of Asian or black ethnicity. A substantial minority developed diabetes prior to severe mental illness. Compared with people with diabetes alone, people with both severe mental illness and diabetes received more frequent physical checks, maintained tighter glycaemic and blood pressure control, and had fewer recorded physical comorbidities and elective admissions, on average. However, they had more emergency admissions (incidence rate ratio 1.14, 95% confidence interval 0.96 to 1.36) and a significantly higher risk of all-cause mortality than people with diabetes but no severe mental illness (hazard ratio 1.89, 95% confidence interval 1.59 to 2.26). These paradoxical results may be explained by other findings. For example, people with severe mental illness and diabetes were more likely to live in socially deprived areas, which is associated with reduced frequency of health checks, poorer health outcomes and higher mortality risk. In interviews, participants frequently described prioritising their mental illness over their diabetes (e.g. tolerating antipsychotic side effects, despite awareness of harmful impacts on diabetes control) and feeling overwhelmed by competing treatment demands from multiple morbidities. Both service users and practitioners acknowledged misattributing physical symptoms to poor mental health (‘diagnostic overshadowing’). Limitations Data may not be nationally representative for all relevant covariates, and the completeness of recording varied across practices. Conclusions People with severe mental illness and diabetes experience poorer health outcomes than, and deficiencies in some aspects of health care compared with, people with diabetes alone. Future work These findings can inform the development of targeted interventions aimed at addressing inequalities in this population. Study registration National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Central Portfolio Management System (37024); and NCT03534921. Funding This project was funded by the NIHR Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 10. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-116;

Background An underperforming doctor puts patient safety at risk. Remediation is an intervention intended to address underperformance and return a doctor to safe practice. Used in health-care systems all over the world, it has clear implications for both patient safety and doctor retention in the workforce. However, there is limited evidence underpinning remediation programmes, particularly a lack of knowledge as to why and how a remedial intervention may work to change a doctor’s practice. Objectives To (1) conduct a realist review of the literature to ascertain why, how, in what contexts, for whom and to what extent remediation programmes for practising doctors work to restore patient safety; and (2) provide recommendations on tailoring, implementation and design strategies to improve remediation interventions for doctors. Design A realist review of the literature underpinned by the Realist And MEta-narrative Evidence Syntheses: Evolving Standards quality and reporting standards. Data sources Searches of bibliographic databases were conducted in June 2018 using the following databases: EMBASE, MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, PsycINFO, Education Resources Information Center, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts, and Health Management Information Consortium. Grey literature searches were conducted in June 2019 using the following: Google Scholar (Google Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA), OpenGrey, NHS England, North Grey Literature Collection, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Evidence, Electronic Theses Online Service, Health Systems Evidence and Turning Research into Practice. Further relevant studies were identified via backward citation searching, searching the libraries of the core research team and through a stakeholder group. Review methods Realist review is a theory-orientated and explanatory approach to the synthesis of evidence that seeks to develop programme theories about how an intervention produces its effects. We developed a programme theory of remediation by convening a stakeholder group and undertaking a systematic search of the literature. We included all studies in the English language on the remediation of practising doctors, all study designs, all health-care settings and all outcome measures. We extracted relevant sections of text relating to the programme theory. Extracted data were then synthesised using a realist logic of analysis to identify context–mechanism–outcome configurations. Results A total of 141 records were included. Of the 141 studies included in the review, 64% related to North America and 14% were from the UK. The majority of studies (72%) were published between 2008 and 2018. A total of 33% of articles were commentaries, 30% were research papers, 25% were case studies and 12% were other types of articles. Among the research papers, 64% were quantitative, 19% were literature reviews, 14% were qualitative and 3% were mixed methods. A total of 40% of the articles were about junior doctors/residents, 31% were about practicing physicians, 17% were about a mixture of both (with some including medical students) and 12% were not applicable. A total of 40% of studies focused on remediating all areas of clinical practice, including medical knowledge, clinical skills and professionalism. A total of 27% of studies focused on professionalism only, 19% focused on knowledge and/or clinical skills and 14% did not specify. A total of 32% of studies described a remediation intervention, 16% outlined strategies for designing remediation programmes, 11% outlined remediation models and 41% were not applicable. Twenty-nine context–mechanism–outcome configurations were identified. Remediation programmes work when they develop doctors’ insight and motivation, and reinforce behaviour change. Strategies such as providing safe spaces, using advocacy to develop trust in the remediation process and carefully framing feedback create contexts in which psychological safety and professional dissonance lead to the development of insight. Involving the remediating doctor in remediation planning can provide a perceived sense of control in the process and this, alongside correcting causal attribution, goal-setting, destigmatising remediation and clarity of consequences, helps motivate doctors to change. Sustained change may be facilitated by practising new behaviours and skills and through guided reflection. Limitations Limitations were the low quality of included literature and limited number of UK-based studies. Future work Future work should use the recommendations to optimise the delivery of existing remediation programmes for doctors in the NHS. Study registration This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42018088779. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 11. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
, Judith Charlton, , , , , Caroline Burgess, Lisa McDermott, , , et al.
Health Services and Delivery Research, Volume 9, pp 1-126;

Background The threat of antimicrobial resistance has led to intensified efforts to reduce antibiotic utilisation, but serious bacterial infections are increasing in frequency. Objectives To estimate the risks of serious bacterial infections in association with lower antibiotic prescribing and understand stakeholder views with respect to safe antibiotic reduction. Design Mixed-methods research was undertaken, including a qualitative interview study of patient and prescriber views that informed a cohort study and a decision-analytic model, using primary care electronic health records. These three work packages were used to design an application (app) for primary care prescribers. Data sources The Clinical Practice Research Datalink. Setting This took place in UK general practices. Participants A total of 706 general practices with 66.2 million person-years of follow-up from 2002 to 2017 and antibiotic utilisation evaluated for 671,830 registered patients. The qualitative study included 31 patients and 30 health-care professionals from primary care. Main outcome measures Sepsis and localised bacterial infections. Results Patients were concerned about antimicrobial resistance and the side effects, as well as the benefits, of antibiotic treatment. Prescribers viewed the onset of sepsis as the most concerning potential outcome of reduced antibiotic prescribing. More than 40% of antibiotic prescriptions in primary care had no coded indication recorded across both Vision® and EMIS® practice systems. Antibiotic prescribing rates varied widely between general practices, but there was no evidence that serious bacterial infections were less frequent at higher prescribing practices (adjusted rate ratio for 20% increase in prescribing 1.03, 95% confidence interval 1.00 to 1.06; p = 0.074). The probability of sepsis was lower if an antibiotic was prescribed at an infection consultation, and the number of antibiotic prescriptions required to prevent one episode of sepsis (i.e. the number needed to treat) decreased with age. For those aged 0–4 years, the number needed to treat was 29,773 (95% uncertainty interval 18,458 to 71,091) in boys and 27,014 (95% uncertainty interval 16,739 to 65,709) in girls. For those aged > 85 years, the number needed to treat was 262 (95% uncertainty interval 236 to 293) in men and 385 (95% uncertainty interval 352 to 421) in women. Frailty was associated with a greater risk of sepsis and a smaller number needed to treat. For severely frail patients aged 55–64 years, the number needed to treat was 247 (95% uncertainty interval 156 to 459) for men and 343 (95% uncertainty interval 234 to 556) for women. At all ages, the probability of sepsis was greatest for urinary tract infection, followed by skin infection and respiratory tract infection. The numbers needed to treat were generally smaller for the period 2014–17, when sepsis was diagnosed more frequently. The results are available using an app that we developed to provide primary care prescribers with stratified risk estimates during infection consultations. Limitations Analyses were based on non-randomised comparisons. Infection episodes and antibiotic prescribing are poorly documented in primary care. Conclusions Antibiotic treatment is generally associated with lower risks, but the most serious bacterial infections remain infrequent even without antibiotic treatment. This research identifies risk strata in which antibiotic prescribing can be more safely reduced. Future work The software developed from this research may be further developed and investigated for antimicrobial stewardship effect. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research programme and will be published in full in Health Services and Delivery Research; Vol. 9, No. 9. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
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