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Is untargeted outreach visiting in primary care effective? A pragmatic randomized controlled trial

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Martin Eccles, Dr Nick Steen


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Background: There is increasing evidence that clinical guidelines can lead to improvements in clinical care. However, they are not self-implementing. Outreach visits may improve prescribing behaviour. Methods: Within a before-and-after pragmatic randomized controlled trial, involving all general practices in one health district, routine methods were used to distribute guidelines for management of Helicobacter pylori eradication. Intervention practices were offered a visit and the conduct of an audit by a pharmacist trained in the techniques of outreach visiting. The intervention was evaluated using level three Prescribing Analysis and Cost (PACT) data for metronidazole and omeprazole for the two 12 month periods around the introduction of the guidelines. Results: Of the 38 intervention practices 19 accepted an outreach visit and three accepted the offer of an audit. There was a significant increase in omeprazole use during the study of 0.24 [95 per cent confidence interval (CI) +0.19 to +0.29] dose units per year but no effect from the offer [-0.02 (95 per cent CI -0.12 to +0.08) dose units] or acceptance of a visit [-0.03 (95 per cent CI -0.15 to +0.08) dose units]. The results for metronidazole were similar, with an increase in use of 0.028 (95 per cent CI +0.018 to +0.038) dose units per year. The effect of the intervention was a non-significant change in prescribing of -0.005 (95 per cent CI -0.025 to +0.015) dose units. Accepting a visit had little effect on prescribing: a change of 0.003 (95 per cent CI -0,021 to +0.027) dose units. Conclusions: The routine use of untargeted outreach visiting is probably nota worthwhile strategy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hall L, Eccles M, Barton R, Steen N, Campbell M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Public Health Medicine

Year: 2001

Volume: 23

Issue: 2

Pages: 109-113

Print publication date: 01/01/2001

ISSN (print): 0957-4832

ISSN (electronic): 1741-3850

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/23.2.109

PubMed id: 11450926


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