Screening and prevention in Swiss primary care: a systematic review
David Eisner, Marco Zoller, Thomas Rosemann, Carola A Huber, Nina Badertscher, Ryan Tandjung
Institute for General Practice and Health Services Research, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Background and objectives: Prevention is a challenging area of primary care. In Switzerland, little is known about attitudes to and performance of screening and prevention services in general practice. To implement prevention services in primary care it is important to know about not only potential facilitators but also barriers. Primary care encompasses the activities of general practitioners, including those with particular interest and/or specializations (eg, pediatrics, gynecology). The aim of this study was to review all studies with a focus on prevention services which have been conducted in Switzerland and to reveal barriers and facilitators for physicians to participate in any preventive measures.
Methods: The Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE and BIOSIS were searched from January 1990 through December 2010. Studies focussing on preventive activities in primary care settings were selected and reviewed. The methodological quality of the identified studies was classified according to the guidelines in the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT) statement.
Results: We identified 49 studies including 45 descriptive studies and four randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Twelve studies addressed the prevention of epidemics, eleven out of them vaccinations. Further studies focused on lifestyle changes, physical activity counselling, smoking cessation, cardiovascular prevention and cancer screening. Perceived lack of knowledge/training and lack of time were the most commonly stated barriers. Motivation, feasibility and efficiency were the most frequently reported supporting factors for preventive activities. The methodological quality was weak, only one out of four RCTs met the applied quality criteria.
Conclusion: Most studies focussing on screening and prevention activities in primary care addressed vaccination, lifestyle modification or cardiovascular disease prevention. Identified barriers and facilitators indicate a need for primary-care-adapted education and training which are easy to handle, time-saving and reflect the specific needs of general practitioners. If new prevention programs are to be implemented in general practices, RCTs of high methodological quality are needed to assess their impact.
Keywords: disease prevention, primary care, Switzerland, epidemic, screening, education, descriptive study
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