Items in AFP with MESH term: Primary Health Care
ABSTRACT: The simple request for a sick note can disguise important medical, psychologic or social issues. Disability may be influenced by social and cultural factors as well as by patient expectations. Assessment of impairment and subsequent disability is best made on the basis of objective data by use of a biopsychosocial model to ensure that the expression of disability does not mask other unaddressed psychologic or social issues. Enabling prolonged disability in such a situation can be a dysfunctional physician response to a maladaptive process. The physician's role is to treat the condition, to fulfill the appropriate role of patient advocate, to facilitate health (including resumption of activity), to offer proactive advice on the basis of prognosis, to be familiar with the patient's social obligations and resources and to provide education about the therapeutic benefits of returning to optimal function. This factual, medical-based approach offers an effective preventive strategy that will save many patients from unnecessary disability and morbidity.
ABSTRACT: Obesity is a complex, multifactorial condition in which excess body fat may put a person at health risk. National data indicate that the prevalence of obesity in the United States is increasing in children and adults. Reversing these trends requires changes in individual behavior and the elimination of societal barriers to healthy lifestyle choices. Basic treatment of overweight and obese patients requires a comprehensive approach involving diet and nutrition, regular physical activity, and behavioral change, with an emphasis on long-term weight management rather than short-term extreme weight reduction. Physicians and other health professionals have an important role in promoting preventive measures and encouraging positive lifestyle behaviors, as well as identifying and treating obesity-related comorbidities. Health professionals also have a role in counseling patients about safe and effective weight loss and weight maintenance programs. Recent evidence-based guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, as well as recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists/American College of Endocrinology, American Obesity Association, U.S. Clinical Preventive Services Task Force, Institute of Medicine, and World Health Organization can be consulted for information and guidance on the identification and management of overweight and obese patients.
ABSTRACT: Depression is a common psychiatric disorder in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Primary care physicians, not mental health professionals, treat the majority of patients with symptoms of depression. Persons who are depressed have feelings of sadness, loneliness, irritability, worthlessness, hopelessness, agitation, and guilt that may be accompanied by an array of physical symptoms. A diagnosis of major depression requires that symptoms be present for two weeks or longer. Identifying patients with depression can be difficult in busy primary care settings where time is limited, but certain depression screening measures may help physicians diagnose the disorder. Patients who score above the predetermined cut-off levels on the screening measures should be interviewed more specifically for a diagnosis of a depressive disorder and treated within the primary care physician's scope of practice or referred to a mental health subspecialist as clinically indicated. Targeted screening in high-risk patients such as those with chronic diseases, pain, unexplained symptoms, stressful home environments, or social isolation, and those who are postnatal or elderly may provide an alternative approach to identifying patients with depression.
ABSTRACT: Eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are significant causes of morbidity and mortality among adolescent females and young women. Eating disorders are associated with devastating medical and psychologic consequences, including death, osteoporosis, growth delay, and developmental delay. Prompt diagnosis is linked to better outcomes. A good medical history is the most powerful tool. Simple screening questions, such as "Do you think you should be dieting?" can be integrated into routine visits. Physical findings such as low body mass index, amenorrhea, bradycardia, gastrointestinal disturbances, skin changes, and changes in dentition can help detect eating disorders. Laboratory studies can help diagnose these conditions and exclude underlying medical conditions. The family physician can play an important role in diagnosing these illnesses and can coordinate the multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, nutritionists, and other professionals to successfully treat patients with eating disorders.
ABSTRACT: Patients with necrotizing soft tissue infections often present initially to family physicians. These infections must be detected and treated rapidly to prevent loss of limb or a fatal outcome. Unfortunately, necrotizing soft tissue infections have no pathognomonic signs. Patients may present with some evidence of cellulitis, vesicles, bullae, edema, crepitus, erythema, and fever. They also may complain of pain that seems out of proportion to the physical findings; as the infection progresses, their pain may decrease. Magnetic resonance imaging and laboratory findings such as acidosis, anemia, electrolyte abnormalities, coagulopathy, and an elevated white blood cell count may provide clues to the diagnosis. No single organism or combination of organisms is consistently responsible for necrotizing soft tissue infections. Most infections are polymicrobial, with both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria frequently present. Fungal infections also have been reported. Generally, bacterial and toxin-related effects converge to cause skin necrosis, shock, and multisystem organ failure. Aggressive debridement of infected tissues is critical to management. Antimicrobial therapy is important but remains secondary to the removal of diseased and necrotic tissues.
Approaching the Suicidal Patient - Article
ABSTRACT: The suicide of a patient can be devastating to the family and to the family physician. The patient's death may shake the physician's confidence, undermine any willingness to work with patients with a mental illness, and provoke professional and legal review. In an attempt to help the family physician prevent suicide, this article reviews known risk factors and offers a strategy for assessing these factors in individual patients. The authors outline interventions that fit the existing level of risk and provide suggestions for the physician in the event of a completed suicide.
ABSTRACT: Healthy eating and increased physical activity can prevent or delay diabetes and its complications. Techniques that facilitate adherence to these lifestyle changes can be adapted to primary care. Often, the patient's readiness to work toward change must be developed gradually. To prepare patients who are reluctant to change, it is effective to assess and address their conviction and confidence. Patients facing the long-term task of making lifestyle changes benefit from assistance in setting highly specific behavior-outcome goals and short-term behavior targets. Individualization is achieved by tailoring these goals and targets to the patient's preferences and progress, building the patient's confidence in small steps, and implementing more intensive interventions according to a stepped-care model. At each office visit, physician follow-up of the patient's self-monitored goals and targets enhances motivation and allows further customization of the plan. A coaching approach can be used to encourage positive choices, develop self-sufficiency, and assist the patient in identifying and overcoming barriers. More intensive intervention using a team approach maximizes adherence.
ABSTRACT: Obstructive sleep apnea should be suspected in patients who are overweight snore loudly, and have chronic daytime sleepiness. The diagnosis of sleep apnea may be confirmed by sleep laboratory studies. Patients' symptoms and the frequency of respiratory events on laboratory testing are important factors in determining the severity of disease. In patients with mild sleep apnea, conservative treatment measures include getting sufficient sleep, abstaining from the use of alcohol and sedatives, losing weight, and avoiding the supine position during sleep. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most consistently effective treatment for clinically significant obstructive sleep apnea. In general, heavier patients with thicker necks require higher pressure settings. As patients age or gain weight, additional pressure may be necessary. Bilevel pressure machines or machines that slowly ramp up the pressure may increase patient acceptance of CPAP therapy. Complications of CPAP use include nasal dryness and congestion, claustrophobia, facial skin abrasions, air leaks, and conjunctivitis. Strategies to improve patient compliance include allowing patients to try a number of masks to find the most comfortable fit, adding humidification, treating nasal disease and, most importantly, providing close follow-up and encouragement. Oral appliances are inconsistently effective in the management of obstructive sleep apnea but may be an option in patients with mild disease who cannot tolerate CPAP. Palatal surgery often decreases snoring but may not reduce the occurrence of sleep apnea. Patients with severe disease and intolerance of CPAP may be candidates for more invasive surgical procedures. Supplemental oxygen and drug therapy may have limited, adjunctive roles in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.
Management of Genital Warts - Article
ABSTRACT: Genital warts caused by human papillomavirus infection are encountered commonly in primary care. Evidence guiding treatment selection is limited, but treatment guidelines recently have changed. Biopsy, viral typing, acetowhite staining, and other diagnostic measures are not routinely required. The goal of treatment is clearance of visible warts; some evidence exists that treatment reduces infectivity, but there is no evidence that treatment reduces the incidence of cervical and genital cancer. The choice of therapy is based on the number, size, site, and morphology of lesions, as well as patient preferences, cost, convenience, adverse effects, and clinician experience. Patient-applied therapy such as imiquimod cream or podofilox is increasingly recommended. Podofilox, imiquimod, surgical excision, and cryotherapy are the most convenient and effective options. Fluorouracil and interferon are no longer recommended for routine use. The cost per successful treatment course is approximately dollars 200 to dollars 300 for podofilox, cryotherapy, electrodesiccation, surgical excision, laser treatment, and the loop electrosurgical excision procedure.
Tick-Borne Disease - Article
ABSTRACT: Tick-borne diseases in the United States include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, babesiosis, Colorado tick fever, and relapsing fever. It is important for family physicians to consider these illnesses when patients present with influenza-like symptoms. A petechial rash initially affecting the palms and soles of the feet is associated with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, whereas erythema migrans (annular macule with central clearing) is associated with Lyme disease. Various other rashes or skin lesions accompanied by fever and influenza-like illness also may signal the presence of a tick-borne disease. Early, accurate diagnosis allows treatment that may help prevent significant morbidity and possible mortality. Because 24 to 48 hours of attachment to the host are required for infection to occur, early removal can help prevent disease. Treatment with doxycycline or tetracycline is indicated for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and relapsing fever. In patients with clinical findings suggestive of tick-borne disease, treatment should not be delayed for laboratory confirmation. If no symptoms follow exposure to tick bites, empiric treatment is not indicated. The same tick may harbor different infectious pathogens and transmit several with one bite. Advising patients about prevention of tick bites, especially in the summer months, may help prevent exposure to dangerous vector-borne diseases.