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Healthcare, Volume 9, Issue 12 (December 2021) – 160 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Same-sex female couples who wish to become pregnant can choose donor insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF)—a technique intended for infertility. We investigate data from the UK Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, the only available worldwide on lesbian couples’ choices. IVF is increasing in absolute numbers and relative proportions compared to licensed donor insemination for UK same-sex female couples. As IVF has greater human and financial costs, policies should not encourage it as the first choice for fertile women requiring sperm. Commercial transactions are taking place where fertile lesbians receive cut-price, and arguably unnecessary, IVF in exchange for selling their eggs to be used for infertile customers. If women are not told about the efficacy of fresh vs. frozen semen, and the risks of egg ‘sharing’ or intra-couple donation, exploitation becomes possible. View this paper
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Article
Motives for the Use or Not of Protective Equipment for the Recreational Practice of Skiing and Snowboarding in Spanish Winter Stations
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1767; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121767 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 433
Abstract
The objective of this research was to analyze the motives for using or not using protections by recreational ski and snowboard athletes, specifically regarding gender and age in the winter resorts of Sierra Nevada and Alto Campoo (Spain). A total of 520 users [...] Read more.
The objective of this research was to analyze the motives for using or not using protections by recreational ski and snowboard athletes, specifically regarding gender and age in the winter resorts of Sierra Nevada and Alto Campoo (Spain). A total of 520 users participated in Sierra Nevada (n = 306 (58,8%)) and Alto Campoo (n = 214 (42.2%)); 257 of them were men (49.4%) and 263 (50.6%) were women; from 6 to 50 years old; classified by 4 stages of development (Childhood (n = 106 (20.4%); Teenagers (n = 110 (21.2%); Young adults (n = 101 (19.4%); Adults (n = 203 (39.0%)). For the data collection an ad hoc questionnaire was used (socio-demographic data, use/no use of protection, motives for the use). The data revealed that 76.5% used protections equipment, with the women being more likely to use protective equipment than men. Regarding age, young adults and adults were the ones using less protection. In relation to the motives of using protective equipment, security was the main motive for using it, while the reason to avoid using it was, most of the time, discomfort. Additionally, the childhood and teenager groups were the ones who reported, as motivation, family obligation, showing the importance of the influence of the parents. Full article
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Article
Towards a Mathematical Model for the Viral Progression in the Pharynx
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1766; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121766 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 370
Abstract
In this work, a comprehensive model for the viral progression in the pharynx has been developed. This one-dimension model considers both Fickian diffusion and convective flow coupled with chemical reactions, such as virus population growth, infected and uninfected cell accumulation as well as [...] Read more.
In this work, a comprehensive model for the viral progression in the pharynx has been developed. This one-dimension model considers both Fickian diffusion and convective flow coupled with chemical reactions, such as virus population growth, infected and uninfected cell accumulation as well as virus clearance. The effect of a sterilizing agent such as an alcoholic solution on the viral progression in the pharynx was taken into account and a parametric analysis for the effect of kinetic rate parameters on virus propagation was made. Moreover, different conditions caused by further medical treatment, such as a decrease in virus yield per infected cell, were examined. It is shown that the infection fails to establish by decreasing the virus yield per infected cell. It is believed that this work could be used to further investigate the medical treatment of viral progression in the pharynx. Full article
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Article
Multidomain Social Determinants of Depressive Symptoms for the Elderly with Chronic Diseases: Evidence from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1765; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121765 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 389
Abstract
Elderly individuals with chronic diseases (CDs) have a much higher risk of mental disorders, especially depression. This study aimed to identify the multidomain social determinants of occurrence and degree of depressive symptoms for the Chinese elderly with CDs. Data of 3438 elderly individuals [...] Read more.
Elderly individuals with chronic diseases (CDs) have a much higher risk of mental disorders, especially depression. This study aimed to identify the multidomain social determinants of occurrence and degree of depressive symptoms for the Chinese elderly with CDs. Data of 3438 elderly individuals (aged over 60 years) with CDs were drawn from the fourth wave of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study implemented in 2018. Logistic regression was used to describe associations with the occurrence of depressive symptoms within and across multidomain social determinants (demographic, economic, neighborhood, environmental, and social and cultural). The Shapley value decomposition method was used to measure the relative importance of variables of the five domains. A quantile regression model was used to test how the effects of social factors vary across different points of depression score distributions. Approximately 40.1% of Chinese elderly individuals with CDs reported depressive symptoms. Respondents who were female, had a low income, experienced a disability, lived in rural areas, and were not engaged in work had a higher probability of suffering from depressive symptoms. Conversely, increased age, being covered by social security and being well-educated had a protective effect. Data also showed that the effects of these associated factors varied across different points of depression score distributions. The fact that socially disadvantaged people are more vulnerable to severe depressive symptoms implies that psychological health services and intervention strategies should target this population. Full article
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Review
The Preventive Effect of Dysphagia Screening on Pneumonia in Acute Stroke Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1764; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121764 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 334
Abstract
(1) Background: Dysphagia is common in acute stroke patients and is a major risk factor for aspiration pneumonia. We investigated whether the early detection of dysphagia in stroke patients through screening could prevent the development of pneumonia and reduce mortality; (2) Methods: We [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Dysphagia is common in acute stroke patients and is a major risk factor for aspiration pneumonia. We investigated whether the early detection of dysphagia in stroke patients through screening could prevent the development of pneumonia and reduce mortality; (2) Methods: We searched the PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Scopus databases for relevant studies published up to November 2021. We included studies that performed dysphagia screening in acute stroke patients and evaluated whether it could prevent pneumonia and reduce mortality rates. The methodological quality of individual studies was evaluated using the Risk Of Bias In Non-randomized Studies of Interventions tool, and publication bias was evaluated by the funnel plot and Egger’s test; (3) Results: Of the 6593 identified studies, six studies met the inclusion criteria for analysis. The screening group had a significantly lower incidence of pneumonia than the nonscreening group did (odds ratio (OR), 0.60; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.42 to 0.84; p = 0.003; I2, 66%). There was no significant difference in mortality rate between the two groups (OR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.33 to 1.13; p = 0.11; I2, 93%); (4) Conclusions: Early screening for dysphagia in acute stroke patients can prevent the development of pneumonia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Consequences of Stroke)
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Article
Self-Directed Learning versus Problem-Based Learning in Korean Nurse Education: A Quasi-Experimental Study
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1763; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121763 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 316
Abstract
Effective teaching methods are vital for cultivating advanced professional skills in nurses and equipping them with the necessary training. Problem-based learning (PBL) and self-directed learning (SDL) have been consistently used in nurse education. Therefore, their effects on nursing students’ academic performance warrant comparison. [...] Read more.
Effective teaching methods are vital for cultivating advanced professional skills in nurses and equipping them with the necessary training. Problem-based learning (PBL) and self-directed learning (SDL) have been consistently used in nurse education. Therefore, their effects on nursing students’ academic performance warrant comparison. This study compared the effects of PBL and SDL on an adult nursing university curriculum. Participants in this quasi-experimental study with a pre-post non-equivalent control group design were 106 third-year nursing students divided into the PBL and SDL groups. Data collection, conducted from April to June 2019, included a pre-test before an eight-week intervention, followed by a post-test. Changes in the scores of each group were analyzed for learning motivation, self-directed learning ability, self-efficacy, learning confidence, learning satisfaction, and academic performance using paired and independent t-tests. The PBL group scored higher on learning motivation, self-directed learning ability, and academic performance than the SDL group. Based on these results, the PBL method was more effective than the SDL method in an adult nursing curriculum. To maximize the learning effect in adult nursing education, it is necessary to apply SDL education, including the PBL method, with a clearer learning process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Nursing)
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Article
Adaptation to Change Questionnaire for Nurses: Validation and New Needs in the Context of COVID-19
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1762; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121762 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 465
Abstract
Background: The worldwide pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has challenged healthcare systems and the professionals who work in them. This challenge involves strong changes to which nurses have had to quickly adapt. Emotional and cognitive–behavioral factors influence the capacity for adaptation to [...] Read more.
Background: The worldwide pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has challenged healthcare systems and the professionals who work in them. This challenge involves strong changes to which nurses have had to quickly adapt. Emotional and cognitive–behavioral factors influence the capacity for adaptation to change. Based on this model, the objective of this study was to validate the Adaptation to Change Questionnaire (ADAPTA-10) for identifying professionals in a population of nurses who have problems adapting to adverse situations such as those caused by COVID-19. Methods: This study was performed with a sample of 351 nurses. (3) Results: The ADAPTA-10 questionnaire was found to have good psychometric properties, and to be an effective, useful tool for nurses in research and clinical practice. The two-dimensional structure proposed in the original model was confirmed. Scales are also provided by sex for evaluation of adaptation to change; the highest scores on the emotional component were among nurses who had not personally encountered the virus. Conclusions: This instrument will be able to detect of the needs for adaptation to the new reality associated with COVID-19, as well as other situations in which nurses are immersed that demand adaptation strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19)
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Article
The Role of Music Therapy for Children Undergoing Cancer Treatment in Singapore
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1761; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121761 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 654
Abstract
The aim of this study was to explore the benefits of music therapy (MT) for children with cancer over the course of their treatment in an acute paediatric hospital setting in Singapore. Twenty-five children undergoing cancer treatment received MT sessions as part of [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to explore the benefits of music therapy (MT) for children with cancer over the course of their treatment in an acute paediatric hospital setting in Singapore. Twenty-five children undergoing cancer treatment received MT sessions as part of a multidisciplinary team rehabilitation intervention from March 2017 to January 2020. A total of 37 individualised goals were developed by the music therapist for the cohort. Goals were scored via the Goal Attainment Scale at 3-month intervals up to 1 year. Descriptive statistics and correlation analysis were used to evaluate the findings. The rate of goal achievement was 89.2% over 180 MT sessions (M = 7.20, SD = 6.45). Children diagnosed with brain tumours had the highest frequency of MT sessions (M = 9.11, SD = 7.79). Most of the goals targeted the regulation of mood and morale through music. There was a positive correlation found between goals and sessions (rs = 0.56, p = 0.004). Age of the children was not correlated with the number of sessions received (rs= −0.19, p = 0.354). MT has been found to be an accessible and effective intervention in addressing functional and emotional goals for children across all ages who are undergoing cancer treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer in Human Health and Healthcare)
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Article
Effects of Personal Ability and Social Welfare on the Health of Rural-to-Urban Elderly Migrants: An Empirical Analysis from Jiangsu Province, China
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1760; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121760 - 20 Dec 2021
Viewed by 327
Abstract
This study aims to discuss the relationship between personal endowment and social welfare on the health status of the rural-to-urban elderly migrants. It constructed the theoretical framework of the health vulnerability of rural-to-urban elderly migrants. The health status of rural-to-urban elderly migrants was [...] Read more.
This study aims to discuss the relationship between personal endowment and social welfare on the health status of the rural-to-urban elderly migrants. It constructed the theoretical framework of the health vulnerability of rural-to-urban elderly migrants. The health status of rural-to-urban elderly migrants was divided into three dimensions: physical health, mental health, and social adaptation. A total of 658 rural-to-urban elderly migrants in 12 cities of Jiangsu province were selected as samples for empirical test and analyzed the influence of individual endowments and social welfare on the health status of rural-to-urban elderly migrants and their differences. The result shows that personal ability affects the social adaptation ability of rural-to-urban elderly migrants, and social welfare has a significant influence on the physical and mental health of rural-to-urban elderly migrants. Lacking the learning ability of rural-to-urban elderly migrants in sample areas is the main factor that leads to their low social adaptation ability and the unequal social welfare and public services restricting the physiological and mental health status of rural-to-urban elderly migrants. Full article
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Article
A Qualitative Study on the Care Experience of Emergency Department Nurses during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1759; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121759 - 19 Dec 2021
Viewed by 524
Abstract
Background: The rapid spread of the disease has severely impacted healthcare systems around the world. There is a lack of evidence related to the care experience of emergency department nurses. Objective: To understand the care experience and thoughts of emergency department nurses during [...] Read more.
Background: The rapid spread of the disease has severely impacted healthcare systems around the world. There is a lack of evidence related to the care experience of emergency department nurses. Objective: To understand the care experience and thoughts of emergency department nurses during the COVID-19 epidemic. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to recruit 16 emergency department nurses from a medical center, and a semi-structured interview was used for data collection. The enrollment period was from 28 July 2021 to 30 October 2021. Thematic content analysis was used for data analysis. Results: The care experiences of emergency department nurses during the COVID-19 epidemic can be classified into three themes and six sub-themes. Theme 1: I am the gatekeeper; theme 2: Care and environment challenges: difficulties with equipment and environment, managing patient’s and family members’ emotions, insufficient manpower of care; theme 3: Conflicting emotions: worrying about being infected or transmitting the disease, needs of effective support and empathy, and lack of understanding and discrimination towards the occupation. Conclusion: Emergency department nurses adhered to professional awareness and responsibility during the epidemic and play a critical role in epidemic prevention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Topic Burden of COVID-19 in Different Countries)
Article
Comparison of Mean Glandular Dose between Full-Field Digital Mammography and Digital Breast Tomosynthesis
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1758; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121758 - 19 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 489
Abstract
Early detection of breast cancer is diagnosed using mammography, the gold standard in breast screening. However, its increased use also provokes radiation-induced breast malignancy. Thus, monitoring and regulating the mean glandular dose (MGD) is essential. The purpose of this study was to determine [...] Read more.
Early detection of breast cancer is diagnosed using mammography, the gold standard in breast screening. However, its increased use also provokes radiation-induced breast malignancy. Thus, monitoring and regulating the mean glandular dose (MGD) is essential. The purpose of this study was to determine MGD for full-field digital mammography (FFDM) and digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) in the radiology department of a single centre. We also analysed the exposure factors as a function of breast thickness. A total of 436 patients underwent both FFDM and DBT. MGD was auto calculated by the mammographic machine for each projection. Patients’ data included compressed breast thickness (CBT), peak kilovoltage (kVp), milliampere-seconds (mAs) and MGD (mGy). Result analysis showed that there is a significant difference in MGD between the two systems, namely FFDM and DBT. However, the MGD values in our centre were comparable to other centres, as well as the European guideline (<2.5 mGy) for a standard breast. Although DBT improves the clinical outcome and quality of diagnosis, the risk of radiation-induced carcinogenesis should not be neglected. Regular quality control testing on mammography equipment must be performed for dose monitoring in women following a screening mammography in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Patient Care Assessment)
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Article
The Mediation Effect of Health Literacy on Social Support with Exchange and Depression in Community-Dwelling Middle-Aged and Older People in Taiwan
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1757; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121757 - 19 Dec 2021
Viewed by 425
Abstract
The proportion of the world’s population that are over 60 years old is increasing rapidly. The physical and mental health of older people is affected by depression. Health literacy is a major determinant of health and healthcare for the aging; middle-aged and older [...] Read more.
The proportion of the world’s population that are over 60 years old is increasing rapidly. The physical and mental health of older people is affected by depression. Health literacy is a major determinant of health and healthcare for the aging; middle-aged and older people with high health literacy are more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and control or manage their chronic diseases. Therefore, this study explored the relationship between health literacy, social support with exchange, and depression, in middle-aged and older adults in the community, using data from the 2015 Taiwan Longitudinal Study on Aging (TLSA) database. Of the 7636 participants, 1481 (19.4%) were middle-aged or older persons with depression symptoms. We found age, gender, and education level to be significantly related to health literacy status, social support with exchange, and depression. Health literacy was positively correlated with depression and social exchange in social support with exchange, whereas the emotional support component of social support with exchange was negatively correlated with depression. Regression-based process analysis was used to verify the mediation effect of health literacy. Our results indicated that when health literacy was entered into the regression model (a × b path), the effect of social exchange on depression was insignificant (c′ = −0.01, p = 0.84), indicating a complete mediation effect. These findings suggest that improving health literacy may offset the impact of social support with exchange on depression, and lead to the mitigation of depression in middle-aged and older people in Taiwanese communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Promotion of Health and Exercise)
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Article
Confinement by COVID-19 and Degree of Mental Health of a Sample of Students of Health Sciences
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1756; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121756 - 19 Dec 2021
Viewed by 406
Abstract
Background: In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, most countries have taken important measures to control the spread of the virus, such as population confinement and the closure of universities. Objective: The main objective of this study is to evaluate how the situation [...] Read more.
Background: In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, most countries have taken important measures to control the spread of the virus, such as population confinement and the closure of universities. Objective: The main objective of this study is to evaluate how the situation resulting from COVID-19 has affected the mental health of a group of health sciences students. Material and Methods: This is a cross-sectional, descriptive, observational study with a sample of 160 people, conducted through an online survey of final-year students of dentistry, nursing and medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Barcelona. Results: A total of 82.4% of students reported having suffered stress, anxiety and distress due to the pandemic situation, and 83.10% of participants are worried about not knowing when the academic year will restart. Conclusions: Confinement has negatively affected the mental health of students. Full article
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Article
Real-Time Tracking of Human Neck Postures and Movements
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1755; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121755 - 19 Dec 2021
Viewed by 432
Abstract
Improper neck postures and movements are the major causes of human neck-related musculoskeletal disorders. To monitor, quantify, analyze, and detect the movements, remote and non-invasive based methods are being developed for prevention and rehabilitation. The purpose of this research is to provide a [...] Read more.
Improper neck postures and movements are the major causes of human neck-related musculoskeletal disorders. To monitor, quantify, analyze, and detect the movements, remote and non-invasive based methods are being developed for prevention and rehabilitation. The purpose of this research is to provide a digital platform for analyzing the impact of human neck movements on the neck musculoskeletal system. The secondary objective is to design a rehabilitation monitoring system that brings accountability in the treatment prescribed, which is shown in the use-case model. To record neck movements effectively, a Smart Neckband integrated with the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) was designed. The initial task was to find a suitable position to locate the sensors embedded in the Smart Neckband. IMU-based real-world kinematic data were captured from eight research subjects and were used to extract kinetic data from the OpenSim simulation platform. A Random Forest algorithm was trained using the kinetic data to predict the neck movements. The results obtained correlated with the novel idea proposed in this paper of using the hyoid muscles to accurately detect neck postures and movements. The innovative approach of integrating kinematic data and kinetic data for analyzing neck postures and movements has been successfully demonstrated through the efficient application in a rehabilitation use case with about 95% accuracy. This research study presents a robust digital platform for the integration of kinematic and kinetic data that has enabled the design of a context-aware neckband for the support in the treatment of neck musculoskeletal disorders. Full article
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Article
To Work or Not to Work, That Is the Question: The Psychological Impact of the First COVID-19 Lockdown on the Elderly, Healthcare Workers, and Virtual Workers
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1754; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121754 - 18 Dec 2021
Viewed by 383
Abstract
The spread of COVID-19 created a state of emergency all over the world and played a big role in the decline of the mental health of citizens. The context of the workplace became an important variable in the impact of the lockdown on [...] Read more.
The spread of COVID-19 created a state of emergency all over the world and played a big role in the decline of the mental health of citizens. The context of the workplace became an important variable in the impact of the lockdown on individuals. In this study, we deepened the categories of healthcare workers (HWs), virtual workers (VWs), and the elderly, along with their emotional approach to this emergency. A sample of 257 participants (ElderlyN = 62; HWsN = 104; VWsN = 91) completed: a semi-structured interview on their experience during lockdown via telephone; an online survey with a sociodemographic questionnaire; the Difficulties in Emotional Regulation Scale (DERS); and the Post-Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). Linguistic measures of the Referential Process were utilized to code the interviews. An independent ANOVA explored the variability among groups. The results show more affective language in the Elderly (M = 0.0310, SD = 0.0070) and a growth in spirituality (M = 4.16, SD = 3.17). HWs displayed a higher PTGI (M = 56.84, SD = 20.29), while VWs displayed a lower PTGI (M = 50.02, SD = 21.05). Moreover, VWs presented higher scores in Impulse on the DERS (M = 11.67, SD = 5.05) and a more cognitive/abstract narration (Reflection IREF M = 0.0260, SD = 0.0071; Reorganization IWRRL M = 0.5419, SD = 0.0032; Referential Activity IWRAD M = 0.4978, SD = 0.0029). This study aims to take the work context into consideration to create focused interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19)
Article
Testing Kissick’s Iron Triangle—Structural Equation Modeling Analysis of a Practical Theory
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1753; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121753 - 18 Dec 2021
Viewed by 401
Abstract
Background/Purpose: The purpose of this research is to determine if the tradeoffs that Kissick proposed among cost containment, quality, and access remain as rigidly interconnected as originally conceived in the contemporary health care context. Although many have relied on the Kissick model to [...] Read more.
Background/Purpose: The purpose of this research is to determine if the tradeoffs that Kissick proposed among cost containment, quality, and access remain as rigidly interconnected as originally conceived in the contemporary health care context. Although many have relied on the Kissick model to advocate for health policy decisions, to our knowledge the model has never been empirically tested. Some have called for policy makers to come to terms with the premise of the Kissick model tradeoffs, while others have questioned the model, given the proliferation of quality-enhancing initiatives, automation, and information technology in the health care industry. One wonders whether these evolutionary changes alter or disrupt the originality of the Kissick paradigms themselves. Methods: Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to evaluate the Kissick hypothetical relationships among the unobserved constructs of cost, quality, and access in hospitals for the year 2018. Hospital data were obtained from Definitive Healthcare, a subscription site that contains Medicare data as well as non-Medicare data for networks, hospitals, and clinics (final n = 2766). Results: Reporting significant net effects as defined by our chosen study variables, we find that as quality increases, costs increase, as access increases, quality increases, and as access increases, costs increase. Policy and Practice Implications: Our findings lend continued relevance to a balanced approach to health care policy reform efforts. Simultaneously bending the health care cost curve, increasing access to care, and advancing quality of care is as challenging now as it was when the Kissick model was originally conceived. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Health Policy)
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Article
Factors Influencing Self-Reported Medication Use in the Survey of Health Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) Dataset
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1752; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121752 - 18 Dec 2021
Viewed by 352
Abstract
The validity of self-reported medication use in epidemiological studies is an important issue in healthcare research. Here we investigated factors influencing self-reported medication use for multiple diagnoses in the seventh wave of the Survey of Health Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) dataset [...] Read more.
The validity of self-reported medication use in epidemiological studies is an important issue in healthcare research. Here we investigated factors influencing self-reported medication use for multiple diagnoses in the seventh wave of the Survey of Health Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) dataset in n = 77,261 participants (ages: mean = 68.47, standard deviation = 10.03 years). The influence of mental, physical, and sociodemographic parameters on medication self-report was analyzed with logistic regressions and mediation models. Depression, memory function, and polypharmacy influenced the self-report of medication use in distinct disorders to varying degrees. In addition, sociodemographic factors, knowledge about diagnosis, the presence of several chronic illnesses, and restrictions of daily instrumental activities explained the largest proportion of variance. In the mediation model, polypharmacy had an indirect effect via depression and memory on self-reported medication use. Factors influencing medication self-report vary between different diagnoses, highlighting the complexity of medication knowledge. Therefore, it is essential to assess the individual parameters and their effect on medication behavior. Relying solely on medication self-reports is insufficient, as there is no way to gage their reliability. Thus, self-reported medication intake should be used with caution to indicate the actual medication knowledge and use. Full article
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Article
Regional Adolescent Obesity and Overweight Status in Korea from 2018–2019: Comparison between Two Data Sources
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1751; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121751 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 368
Abstract
Difference in the regional adolescent obesity level may cause a notable health inequality between regions since it significantly affects adulthood health status. This study examined 2018 and 2019 regional obesity and overweight status of adolescents aged 12 to 18 by comparing two cross [...] Read more.
Difference in the regional adolescent obesity level may cause a notable health inequality between regions since it significantly affects adulthood health status. This study examined 2018 and 2019 regional obesity and overweight status of adolescents aged 12 to 18 by comparing two cross sectional population-based data sources, the Korea Youth Risk Behavior Web-based Survey (KYRBS) and the National Student Health Examination (NSHE). Prevalence was estimated by calculating weighted percentages and 95% confidence intervals. Correlations in the relative rankings of each municipality were determined by computing Spearman correlation coefficients (rs), and prevalence discrepancies between the data sources were visualized by simple correlation graphs. The geographical distributions of adolescent obesity and overweight status showed no perfect concordances between the data sources regardless of sexes and survey years. For adolescent obesity status, there were significant difference between the least and the most obese regions and rs levels were fair to good with p-values less than 0.05, but the correlation graphs indicated body mass index (BMI) underreporting in the KYRBS. For adolescent overweight status, no significant similarities were defined between the data. These results can be used as a basis for the establishment of related policies. Full article
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Article
Factors Associated with Out-of-Pocket Health Expenditure in Polish Regions
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1750; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121750 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 364
Abstract
Out-of-pocket (OOP) payments are perceived as the most regressive means of health financing. Using the panel-data approach and region-aggregated data from Statistics Poland, this research investigated associations between socio-economic factors and OOP health spending in 16 Polish regions for the period 1999–2019. The [...] Read more.
Out-of-pocket (OOP) payments are perceived as the most regressive means of health financing. Using the panel-data approach and region-aggregated data from Statistics Poland, this research investigated associations between socio-economic factors and OOP health spending in 16 Polish regions for the period 1999–2019. The dependent variable was real (inflation-adjusted) monthly OOP health expenditure per person in Polish households. Potential independent variables included economic, labour, demographic, educational, health, environmental, and lifestyle measures based on previous research. A set of panel-data estimators was used in regression models. The factors that were positively associated with OOP health spending were disposable income, the proportions of children (aged 0–9) and elderly (70+ years) in the population, healthcare supply (proxied by physicians’ density), air pollution, and tobacco and alcohol expenditure. On the other hand, the increased unemployment rate, life expectancy at age 65, mortality rate, and higher sports participation were all related to lower OOP health spending. The results may guide national strategies to improve health-care allocations and offer additional financial protection for vulnerable groups, such as households with children and elderly members. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health Economics & Finance and Global Public Health)
Review
A Bibliometric Analysis of Atopic Dermatitis Research over the Past Three Decades and Future Perspectives
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1749; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121749 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 494
Abstract
Atopic dermatitis (AD) has been increasing in prevalence over the past few decades; however, AD has never been analyzed using a bibliometric approach. We searched for AD studies in the dermatology and allergy category of the Web of Science and SCOPUS databases using [...] Read more.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) has been increasing in prevalence over the past few decades; however, AD has never been analyzed using a bibliometric approach. We searched for AD studies in the dermatology and allergy category of the Web of Science and SCOPUS databases using the keywords “atopic dermatitis”, “eczema”, and “atopy”. In total, 53,460 documents were retrieved. We analyzed annual publication trends and performed keyword and co-authorship network analyses. The annual number of AD publications has increased over the years. Asthma, food allergies, the skin barrier, IgE, and epidemiology have received extensive attention. The keywords ‘allergic rhinitis’, ‘child(ren)’, ‘quality of life’, and ‘probiotics’ have become more commonly used in recent years. AD research has been led by only a few countries, such as the USA, Germany, and the UK, and longstanding research topics such as asthma, allergy, and the immune system continue to be important. We suggest that global collaborations, research in developing countries, and research that is more holistic (thus exploring how genes, the immune system, the environment, and the microbiome together impact AD) are necessary. Full article
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Article
How Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Effect Dental Patients? An Italian Observational Survey Study
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1748; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121748 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 373
Abstract
The primary aim of this observational survey study was to assess patients’ attitudes toward clinical dental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic; the secondary aim was to evaluate patients’ attitudes towards oral health by maintaining an appropriate lifestyle and oral hygiene at home. The [...] Read more.
The primary aim of this observational survey study was to assess patients’ attitudes toward clinical dental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic; the secondary aim was to evaluate patients’ attitudes towards oral health by maintaining an appropriate lifestyle and oral hygiene at home. The questionnaire was developed using Google Forms. The questionnaire consisted of three parts: Part A—geographic, demographic, and personal data; Part B—patients’ attitude toward oral health selfcare and lifestyle; Part C—patients’ attitude toward dental practice. This survey, conducted during the months of November and December 2020, enrolled 1135 subjects throughout Italy. All data were statistically analyzed. COVID-19 has changed patients’ approach to dental procedures. Most of the people interviewed lived in families, and their greatest fear was infecting a family member. Restrictive measures forced people to stay at home, which led to an increased consumption of various types of food, including cariogenic foods. People said they felt safe when they went to the dentist, but they also paid special attention to measures to prevent contagion. Among the measures that should be introduced in similar situations in the future, people wanted telemedicine, a phone recall, and the possible use of video clips for home oral care instructions. Full article
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Article
Correlation between the Mandibular Lingula Position and Some Anatomical Landmarks in Cone Beam CT
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1747; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121747 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 330
Abstract
Background: the position of the mandibular lingula (Li) affects the success rate of the inferior alveolar nerve block (IANB) and ramus osteotomies. This study evaluated the position of the Li, to investigate the anatomical relationship between the Li and some anatomical measurements using [...] Read more.
Background: the position of the mandibular lingula (Li) affects the success rate of the inferior alveolar nerve block (IANB) and ramus osteotomies. This study evaluated the position of the Li, to investigate the anatomical relationship between the Li and some anatomical measurements using cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). Methods: 201 hemimandibular CBCTs of 111 patients (43 males and 68 females; 18 to 88 years old) were retrospectively evaluated. The Li location was determined from the lingula tip to: the occlusal plane, the anterior and posterior borders of the mandibular ramus, the lower border of the mandible, the distal surface of the mandibular second molar, and the mandibular notch. We evaluated the correlations between the Li and the anteroposterior diameter of the mandibular ramus; the vertical distance between condyle and mandibular angle; the mesial–distal diameter of the first, second, and third mandibular molar, the intercanine distance, the intermolar distances among the first, second, and third mandibular molars; the distance between the intermolar line of the first molar and midline, and the length of the mandibular body. Results: the vertical distance of the Li from the occlusal plane was 11.22 ± 4.27 mm. Some parameters significantly correlated with the anatomical measurements taken into consideration. Conclusions: the present study provides new information concerning the Li and mandibular anatomy in the Italian population. Moreover, by correlating some anatomic measurements to the Li position, the localization of the Li is made possible, indirectly through the measurement of some distances between anatomical landmarks. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dentistry, Oral Health and Maxillofacial Surgery)
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Article
Physicians’ Experience with COVID-19 Vaccination: A Survey Study
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1746; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121746 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 566
Abstract
Background: COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy remains high in the general population and is the main determinant of low vaccination rates and of the fourth pandemic wave severity in Romania. Additional information is needed to raise awareness over vaccine efficiency and the safety profile. Objective: [...] Read more.
Background: COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy remains high in the general population and is the main determinant of low vaccination rates and of the fourth pandemic wave severity in Romania. Additional information is needed to raise awareness over vaccine efficiency and the safety profile. Objective: To assess self-reported experience related to COVID-19 vaccination in Romanian physicians. Design, Setting, and Participants: A cross-sectional, self-administered questionnaire-based survey, distributed online in the period 24 March to 24 May 2021. The survey included 30 cascade questions with skip logic filters. All physicians included filled in the questionnaire voluntarily and anonymously. Not all respondents filled in all questions. Main outcome and measure: Primary outcomes addressed were related to the COVID-19 vaccine safety profile. Results: 407/467 (87.15%) of the respondents’ physicians were fully vaccinated, mostly with the Pfizer—BioNTech (Comirnaty)—BNT162b2 vaccine, with the peak of immunization in January 2021, with almost four-fifths of the study participants. Regarding COVID-19, almost 20% physicians had the infection and one declared COVID-19 re-infection. A number of 48/420 (11.42%) and 47/419 (11.22%) of the vaccinated physicians did not report any side effects after the first or second vaccine dose. However, most of the side effects reported were minor. Only 50/360 (13.88%) physicians reported the vaccine side effects on the dedicated online national platform. Approximately 40% respondents checked the anti-spike SARS-CoV2 antibodies’ titer after complete vaccination, of which two cases reported indeterminate levels. Lower anti-spike SARS-CoV2 antibodies’ titer of 100–1000 times the laboratory limit was more frequent in naive physicians (36.95% versus 14.28%, p = 0.012), moderate titers were similar, while very high levels, more than 10,000 times laboratory limit, were more frequent in physicians with previous COVID-19 infection (2.17% versus 42.85%, p < 0.001). Conclusions and relevance: In this cross-sectional survey study on the COVID-19 vaccination among Romanian physicians, we describe a safety vaccination profile among Romanian physicians. Full article
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Article
The Association between Chronic Hemodialysis and Toe Pinch Force in Japanese Patients: Cross-Sectional Study
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1745; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121745 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 340
Abstract
The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the effect of chronic hemodialysis on toe pinch force (TPF). A total of 37 chronic hemodialysis patients without type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) (age: 69.4 ± 11.8 years, duration of hemodialysis: 3.5 ± 3.4 [...] Read more.
The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to investigate the effect of chronic hemodialysis on toe pinch force (TPF). A total of 37 chronic hemodialysis patients without type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) (age: 69.4 ± 11.8 years, duration of hemodialysis: 3.5 ± 3.4 years) were enrolled in this study. The TPF in chronic hemodialysis patients without T2DM was compared with that in 34 apparently healthy participants and 37 chronic hemodialysis patients with T2DM. There was no significant difference in clinical profiles between healthy participants and chronic hemodialysis patients with and without T2DM. The TPF in chronic hemodialysis patients without T2DM was lower compared with that in healthy participants (2.70 ± 1.05 kg vs. 3.34 ± 0.99 kg, p = 0.025). In addition, the TPF in patients with T2DM was even lower compared with that in patients without T2DM (2.12 ± 1.01 kg vs. 2.70 ± 1.05 kg, p = 0.042). This study showed a dramatic reduction in TPF in chronic hemodialysis patients, especially in those with T2DM. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of a Non-Face-to-Face Multidisciplinary Health Care Model in a Population with Rheumatoid Arthritis Vulnerable to COVID-19 in a Health Emergency Situation
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1744; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121744 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 412
Abstract
This study evaluated a non-face-to-face-multidisciplinary consultation model in a population with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an analytical observational study of a prospective cohort with simple random sampling. RA patients were followed for 12 weeks (Jul–Oct 2020). Two groups [...] Read more.
This study evaluated a non-face-to-face-multidisciplinary consultation model in a population with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an analytical observational study of a prospective cohort with simple random sampling. RA patients were followed for 12 weeks (Jul–Oct 2020). Two groups were included: patients in telemedicine care (TM), and patients in the usual face-to-face care (UC). Patients could voluntarily change the care model (transition model (TR)). Activity of disease, quality of life, disability, therapeutic adherence, and self-care ability were analyzed. Bivariate analysis was performed. A qualitative descriptive exploratory study was conducted. At the beginning, 218 adults were included: (109/TM-109/UC). The groups didn’t differ in general characteristics. At the end of the study, there were no differences in TM: (n = 71). A significant (p < 0.05) decrease in adherence, and increase in self-care ability were found in UC (n = 18) and TR (n = 129). Seven patients developed COVID-19. Four categories emerged from the experience of the subjects in the qualitative assessment (factors present in communication, information and communication technologies management, family support and interaction, and adherence to treatment). The telemedicine model keeps RA patients stable without major differences compared to the usual care or mixed model. Full article
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Article
Is the Severity of Cervical Foraminal Stenosis Related to the Severity and Sidedness of Symptoms?
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1743; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121743 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 317
Abstract
(1) Background: Cervical foraminal stenosis (CFS) is a common cause of axial neck and arm pain. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between the severity of CFS and clinical symptoms in terms of severity and sidedness. (2) Methods: We [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Cervical foraminal stenosis (CFS) is a common cause of axial neck and arm pain. The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between the severity of CFS and clinical symptoms in terms of severity and sidedness. (2) Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 75 consecutive patients with degenerative CFS. We graded 900 foramina from C3–4 to T1–2 using Park’s grading system. We collected visual analogue scale (VAS) and neck disability index (NDI) values from the neck and both arms. We analyzed the relationships with CFS grades and total number. We defined four types of left/right dominance of CFS (none, left-dominant, right-dominant, and both) by comparing left and right sides using total counts and maximal grade of CFS, respectively. We compared arm pain sidedness (no arm pain, left-only, right only, and bilateral) among different left and right CFS dominance types. (3) Results: Mean neck and left and right arm VAS scores were 4.4 ± 2.5, 4.9 ± 1.6, and 4.6 ± 2.0, respectively. The mean total NDI was 16.0 ± 8.0. The CFS grade at C3–4 and total count were correlated with neck VAS. Arm VAS was also correlated with CFS grade and total counts. Total NDI score was not correlated with radiological parameters. The presence and sidedness of arm pain were significantly different between left and right CFS dominance groups divided by total count of grade 2 and 3 CFS. (4) Conclusions: The CFS grade and total count were correlated with neck and arm VAS. Arm pain occurred more frequently on the side with more grade 2 and 3 CFS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Assessment and Treatment for Healthcare of the Musculoskeletal System)
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Article
Self-Participation Experiences among Well-Adapted Hemodialysis Patients
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1742; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121742 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 358
Abstract
A successful self-participation experience empowers patients to adapt to living with hemodialysis. However, few studies regarding the subjective experiences of such patient participation have been conducted. This study’s purpose was to describe hemodialysis patients’ perspectives on integrating hemodialysis into a new life regarding [...] Read more.
A successful self-participation experience empowers patients to adapt to living with hemodialysis. However, few studies regarding the subjective experiences of such patient participation have been conducted. This study’s purpose was to describe hemodialysis patients’ perspectives on integrating hemodialysis into a new life regarding self-participation experience. A qualitative study using the grounded theory method was applied. Thirty-two well-adaptive hemodialysis Taiwanese patients attended in-depth interviews. “Integrating hemodialysis into a new life journey” was identified as the core category guiding the entire self-participation experience of hemodialysis patients. The three antecedent themes were “Sense of worthlessness”, “Life is still worth living”, and “Friendly and joyful atmosphere of the hemodialysis room”. Once the patients went through the three antecedent themes, they gradually began making efforts to participate more fully in their hemodialysis. Within this participation experience, the hemodialysis patients exhibited these four interactive themes: “Overcoming one’s predicament”, “Integrating self-care skills into my life”, “Resuming previous roles and tasks”, and “Adapting to independent living”. Finally, most adaptive patients master the hemodialysis life. Encouraging patients to discover that their life is worth living and providing a friendly and joyful atmosphere in hemodialysis units are the keys to facilitating patients’ self-participation more fully. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Health Care and Services for Elderly Population)
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Review
The European Health Union: European Union’s Concern about Health for All. Concepts, Definition, and Scenarios
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1741; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121741 - 17 Dec 2021
Viewed by 464
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic brought visibility and intensified the discussions on the European Union’s (EU) health mandate. The proposals of the European Commission (EC) to move towards a European Health Union (EHU) can be seen as a starting point towards more integration in health. [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought visibility and intensified the discussions on the European Union’s (EU) health mandate. The proposals of the European Commission (EC) to move towards a European Health Union (EHU) can be seen as a starting point towards more integration in health. However, the definition of what the EHU will look like is not clear. This paper searches to find a common definition, and/or features for this EHU through a systematic literature review performed in May 2021. “European Union’s concern about health for all” is suggested as a definition. The main drivers identified to develop an EHU are: surveillance and monitoring, crisis preparedness, funding, political will, vision of public health expenditures, population’s awareness and interest, and global health. Based on these findings, five scenarios were developed: making a full move towards supranational action; improving efficiency in the actual framework; more coordination but no real change; in a full intergovernmentalism direction; and fragmentation of the EU. The scenarios show that the development of a EHU is possible inside the current legal framework. However, it will rely on increased coordination and has a focus on cross-border health threats. Any development will be strongly linked to political choices from Member States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Healthcare System Recovery Post COVID-19)
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Review
Online Health Information Seeking Behavior: A Systematic Review
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1740; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121740 - 16 Dec 2021
Viewed by 538
Abstract
The last five years have seen a leap in the development of information technology and social media. Seeking health information online has become popular. It has been widely accepted that online health information seeking behavior has a positive impact on health information consumers. [...] Read more.
The last five years have seen a leap in the development of information technology and social media. Seeking health information online has become popular. It has been widely accepted that online health information seeking behavior has a positive impact on health information consumers. Due to its importance, online health information seeking behavior has been investigated from different aspects. However, there is lacking a systematic review that can integrate the findings of the most recent research work in online health information seeking, and provide guidance to governments, health organizations, and social media platforms on how to support and promote this seeking behavior, and improve the services of online health information access and provision. We therefore conduct this systematic review. The Google Scholar database was searched for existing research on online health information seeking behavior between 2016 and 2021 to obtain the most recent findings. Within the 97 papers searched, 20 met our inclusion criteria. Through a systematic review, this paper identifies general behavioral patterns, and influencing factors such as age, gender, income, employment status, literacy (or education) level, country of origin and places of residence, and caregiving role. Facilitators (i.e., the existence of online communities, the privacy feature, real-time interaction, and archived health information format), and barriers (i.e., low health literacy, limited accessibility and information retrieval skills, low reliable, deficient and elusive health information, platform censorship, and lack of misinformation checks) to online health information seeking behavior are also discovered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Social Media and Public Health)
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Article
Patients’ Perceptions and Satisfaction with the Outpatient Telemedicine Clinics during COVID-19 Era in Saudi Arabia: A Cross-Sectional Study
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1739; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121739 - 16 Dec 2021
Viewed by 457
Abstract
Successful implementation of virtual healthcare depends immensely on patients’ perceptions and satisfaction. This cross-sectional study assessed patients’ perceptions of, and factors associated with, poor and average satisfaction with the outpatient telemedicine clinics in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This questionnaire-based survey was [...] Read more.
Successful implementation of virtual healthcare depends immensely on patients’ perceptions and satisfaction. This cross-sectional study assessed patients’ perceptions of, and factors associated with, poor and average satisfaction with the outpatient telemedicine clinics in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This questionnaire-based survey was conducted among 720 patients who attended outpatient telemedicine clinics from different regions of the KSA. Of the sample studied, 54.7% of the participants had high satisfaction and the most common disadvantage perceived by patients was technical issues (53.1%), followed by fewer personal interactions (30.4%). Around 75% of the participants desired to use telemedicine services even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Logistic regression analysis revealed that age group more than 40 years (OR = 1.59; 95% CI = 1.04–2.44, p = 0.031), education less than university level (OR = 1.68; 95% CI = 1.07–2.15, p = 0.025), and first-time participants (OR = 3.28; 95% CI = 2.32–4.65, p < 0.001) were significantly associated with poor and average satisfaction ratings. The concerned authorities must make targeted action plans to circumvent the disadvantages perceived by patients accessing telemedicine. Furthermore, a multicenter, exploratory study that compares the virtual clinic with other telemedicine services in the KSA is warranted. Full article
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Article
Interocular Symmetry Analysis of Corneal Elevation Using the Fellow Eye as the Reference Surface and Machine Learning
Healthcare 2021, 9(12), 1738; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/healthcare9121738 - 16 Dec 2021
Viewed by 499
Abstract
Unilateral corneal indices and topography maps are routinely used in practice, however, although there is consensus that fellow-eye asymmetry can be clinically significant, symmetry studies are limited to local curvature and single-point thickness or elevation measures. To improve our current practices, there is [...] Read more.
Unilateral corneal indices and topography maps are routinely used in practice, however, although there is consensus that fellow-eye asymmetry can be clinically significant, symmetry studies are limited to local curvature and single-point thickness or elevation measures. To improve our current practices, there is a need to devise algorithms for generating symmetry colormaps, study and categorize their patterns, and develop reference ranges for new global discriminative indices for identifying abnormal corneas. In this work, we test the feasibility of using the fellow eye as the reference surface for studying elevation symmetry throughout the entire corneal surface using 9230 raw Pentacam files from a population-based cohort of 4613 middle-aged adults. The 140 × 140 matrix of anterior elevation data in these files were handled with Python to subtract matrices, create color-coded maps, and engineer features for machine learning. The most common pattern was a monochrome circle (“flat”) denoting excellent mirror symmetry. Other discernible patterns were named “tilt”, “cone”, and “four-leaf”. Clustering was done with different combinations of features and various algorithms using Waikato Environment for Knowledge Analysis (WEKA). Our proposed approach can identify cases that may appear normal in each eye individually but need further testing. This work will be enhanced by including data of posterior elevation, thickness, and common diagnostic indices. Full article
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