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1.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
A gap exists between evidence and practice regarding the management of cardiovascular risk factors. This gap could be narrowed if systematically developed clinical practice guidelines were effectively implemented in clinical practice. We evaluated the effects of a tailored intervention to support the implementation of systematically developed guidelines for the use of antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized trial comparing a tailored intervention to passive dissemination of guidelines in 146 general practices in two geographical areas in Norway. Each practice was randomized to either the tailored intervention (70 practices; 257 physicians) or control group (69 practices; 244 physicians). Patients started on medication for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia during the study period and all patients already on treatment that consulted their physician during the trial were included. A multifaceted intervention was tailored to address identified barriers to change. Key components were an educational outreach visit with audit and feedback, and computerized reminders linked to the medical record system. Pharmacists conducted the visits. Outcomes were measured for all eligible patients seen in the participating practices during 1 y before and after the intervention. The main outcomes were the proportions of (1) first-time prescriptions for hypertension where thiazides were prescribed, (2) patients assessed for cardiovascular risk before prescribing antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs, and (3) patients treated for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia for 3 mo or more who had achieved recommended treatment goals.
The intervention led to an increase in adherence to guideline recommendations on choice of antihypertensive drug. Thiazides were prescribed to 17% of patients in the intervention group versus 11% in the control group (relative risk 1.94; 95% confidence interval 1.49–2.49, adjusted for baseline differences and clustering effect). Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
Our tailored intervention had a significant impact on prescribing of antihypertensive drugs, but was ineffective in improving the quality of other aspects of managing hypertension and hypercholesterolemia in primary care.
Editors' Summary
An important issue in health care is “getting research into practice,” in other words, making sure that, when evidence from research has established the best way to treat a disease, doctors actually use that approach with their patients. In reality, there is often a gap between evidence and practice.
  An example concerns the treatment of people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or high cholesterol. These are common conditions, and both increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Research has shown that the risks can be lowered if patients with these conditions are given drugs that lower blood pressure (antihypertensives) and drugs that lower cholesterol. There are many types of these drugs now available. In many countries, the health authorities want family doctors (general practitioners) to make better use of these drugs. They want doctors to prescribe them to everyone who would benefit, using the type of drugs found to be most effective. When there is a choice of drugs that are equally effective, they want doctors to use the cheapest type. (In the case of antihypertensives, an older type, known as thiazides, is very effective and also very cheap, but many doctors prefer to give their patients newer, more expensive alternatives.) Health authorities have issued guidelines to doctors that address these issues. However, it is not easy to change prescribing practices, and research in several countries has shown that issuing guidelines has only limited effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted—in two parts of Norway—to compare the effects on prescribing practices of what they called the “passive dissemination of guidelines” with a more active approach, where the use of the guidelines was strongly promoted and encouraged.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They worked with 146 general practices. In half of them the guidelines were actively promoted. The remaining were regarded as a control group; they were given the guidelines but no special efforts were made to encourage their use. It was decided at random which practices would be in which group; this approach is called a randomized controlled trial. The methods used to actively promote use of the guidelines included personal visits to the practices by pharmacists and use of a computerized reminder system. Information was then collected on the number of patients who, when first treated for hypertension, were prescribed a thiazide. Other information collected included whether patients had been properly assessed for their level of risk (for strokes and heart attacks) before antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs were given. In addition, the researchers recorded whether the recommended targets for improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol level had been reached.
Only 11% of those patients visiting the control group of practices who should have been prescribed thiazides, according to the guidelines, actually received them. Of those seen by doctors in the practices where the guidelines were actively promoted, 17% received thiazides. According to statistical analysis, the increase achieved by active promotion is significant. Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even in the active promotion group, the great majority of patients (83%) were still not receiving treatment according to the guidelines. However, active promotion of guidelines is more effective than simply issuing the guidelines by themselves. The study also demonstrates that it is very hard to change prescribing practices. The efforts made here to encourage the doctors to change were considerable, and although the results were significant, they were still disappointing. Also disappointing is the fact that achievement of treatment goals was no better in the active-promotion group. These issues are discussed further in a Perspective about this study (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030229).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• The Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians has a page on heart disease
• The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia's pages on heart diseases and vascular diseases
• Information from NHS Direct (UK National Health Service) about heart attack and stroke
• Another PLoS Medicine article has also addressed trends in thiazide prescribing
Passive dissemination of management guidelines for hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia was compared with active promotion. Active promotion led to significant improvement in antihypertensive prescribing but not other aspects of management.
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
2.  How Evidence-Based Are the Recommendations in Evidence-Based Guidelines? 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e250.
Treatment recommendations for the same condition from different guideline bodies often disagree, even when the same randomized controlled trial (RCT) evidence is cited. Guideline appraisal tools focus on methodology and quality of reporting, but not on the nature of the supporting evidence. This study was done to evaluate the quality of the evidence (based on consideration of its internal validity, clinical relevance, and applicability) underlying therapy recommendations in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
Methods and Findings
A cross-sectional analysis of cardiovascular risk management recommendations was performed for three different conditions (diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and hypertension) from three pan-national guideline panels (from the United States, Canada, and Europe). Of the 338 treatment recommendations in these nine guidelines, 231 (68%) cited RCT evidence but only 105 (45%) of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. RCT-based evidence was downgraded most often because of reservations about the applicability of the RCT to the populations specified in the guideline recommendation (64/126 cases, 51%) or because the RCT reported surrogate outcomes (59/126 cases, 47%).
The results of internally valid RCTs may not be applicable to the populations, interventions, or outcomes specified in a guideline recommendation and therefore should not always be assumed to provide high-quality evidence for therapy recommendations.
From an analysis of cardiovascular risk-management recommendations in guidelines produced by pan-national panels, McAlister and colleagues concluded that fewer than half were based on high-quality evidence.
Editors' Summary
Until recently, doctors largely relied on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with high blood pressure (hypertension), for example, the doctor had to decide whether to recommend lifestyle changes or to prescribe drugs to reduce the blood pressure. If he or she chose the latter, he or she then had to decide which drug to prescribe, set a target blood pressure, and decide how long to wait before changing the prescription if this target was not reached. But, over the past decade, numerous clinical practice guidelines have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations to help doctors make treatment decisions like these. For each guideline, experts have searched the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluated the quality of that evidence, and then made recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
The recommendations made in different clinical practice guidelines vary, in part because they are based on evidence of varying quality. To help clinicians decide which recommendations to follow, some guidelines indicate the strength of their recommendations by grading them, based on the methods used to collect the underlying evidence. Thus, a randomized clinical trial (RCT)—one in which patients are randomly allocated to different treatments without the patient or clinician knowing the allocation—provides higher-quality evidence than a nonrandomized trial. Similarly, internally valid trials—in which the differences between patient groups are solely due to their different treatments and not to other aspects of the trial—provide high-quality evidence. However, grading schemes rarely consider the size of studies and whether they have focused on clinical or so-called “surrogate” measures. (For example, an RCT of a treatment to reduce heart or circulation [“cardiovascular”] problems caused by high blood pressure might have death rate as a clinical measure; a surrogate endpoint would be blood pressure reduction.) Most guidelines also do not consider how generalizable (applicable) the results of a trial are to the populations, interventions, and outcomes specified in the guideline recommendation. In this study, the researchers have investigated the quality of the evidence underlying recommendations for cardiovascular risk management in nine evidence-based clinical practice guides using these additional criteria.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted the recommendations for managing cardiovascular risk from the current US, Canadian, and European guidelines for the management of diabetes, abnormal blood lipid levels (dyslipidemia), and hypertension. They graded the quality of evidence for each recommendation using the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) grading scheme, which considers the type of study, its internal validity, its clinical relevance, and how generally applicable the evidence is considered to be. Of 338 evidence-based recommendations, two-thirds were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, but only half of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. The evidence underlying 64 of the guideline recommendations failed to achieve a high CHEP grade because the RCT data were collected in a population of people with different characteristics to those covered by the guideline. For example, a recommendation to use spironolactone to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension was based on an RCT in which the participants initially had congestive heart failure with normal blood pressure. Another 59 recommendations were downgraded because they were based on evidence from RCTs that had not focused on clinical measures of effectiveness.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that although most of the recommendations for cardiovascular risk management therapies in the selected guidelines were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, less than one-third were based on high-quality evidence applicable to the populations, treatments, and outcomes specified in guideline recommendations. A limitation of this study is that it analyzed a subset of recommendations in only a few guidelines. Nevertheless, the findings serve to warn clinicians that evidence-based guidelines are not necessarily based on high-quality evidence. In addition, they emphasize the need to make the evidence base underlying guideline recommendations more transparent by using an extended grading system like the CHEP scheme. If this were done, the researchers suggest, it would help clinicians apply guideline recommendations appropriately to their individual patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• Wikipedia contains pages on evidence-based medicine and on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
• The National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on US national guidelines
• The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
• Information is available on the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) (in French and English)
• See information on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) working group, an organization that has developed an grading scheme similar to the CHEP scheme (in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian)
PMCID: PMC1939859  PMID: 17683197
3.  A Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing the Effects of Counseling and Alarm Device on HAART Adherence and Virologic Outcomes 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000422.
Michael Chung and colleagues show that intensive early adherence counseling at HAART initiation resulted in sustained, significant impact on adherence and virologic treatment failure, whereas use of an alarm device had no effect.
Behavioral interventions that promote adherence to antiretroviral medications may decrease HIV treatment failure. Antiretroviral treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa confront increasing financial constraints to provide comprehensive HIV care, which include adherence interventions. This study compared the impact of counseling and use of an alarm device on adherence and biological outcomes in a resource-limited setting.
Methods and Findings
A randomized controlled, factorial designed trial was conducted in Nairobi, Kenya. Antiretroviral-naïve individuals initiating free highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the form of fixed-dose combination pills (d4T, 3TC, and nevirapine) were randomized to one of four arms: counseling (three counseling sessions around HAART initiation), alarm (pocket electronic pill reminder carried for 6 months), counseling plus alarm, and neither counseling nor alarm. Participants were followed for 18 months after HAART initiation. Primary study endpoints included plasma HIV-1 RNA and CD4 count every 6 months, mortality, and adherence measured by monthly pill count. Between May 2006 and September 2008, 400 individuals were enrolled, 362 initiated HAART, and 310 completed follow-up. Participants who received counseling were 29% less likely to have monthly adherence <80% (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.49–1.01; p = 0.055) and 59% less likely to experience viral failure (HIV-1 RNA ≥5,000 copies/ml) (HR 0.41; 95% CI 0.21–0.81; p = 0.01) compared to those who received no counseling. There was no significant impact of using an alarm on poor adherence (HR 0.93; 95% CI 0.65–1.32; p = 0.7) or viral failure (HR 0.99; 95% CI 0.53–1.84; p = 1.0) compared to those who did not use an alarm. Neither counseling nor alarm was significantly associated with mortality or rate of immune reconstitution.
Intensive early adherence counseling at HAART initiation resulted in sustained, significant impact on adherence and virologic treatment failure during 18-month follow-up, while use of an alarm device had no effect. As antiretroviral treatment clinics expand to meet an increasing demand for HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa, adherence counseling should be implemented to decrease the development of treatment failure and spread of resistant HIV.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials gov NCT00273780
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Adherence to HIV treatment programs in poor countries has long been cited as an important public health concern, especially as poor adherence can lead to drug resistance and inadequate treatment of HIV. However, two factors have recently cast doubt on the poor adherence problem: (1) recent studies have shown that adherence is high in African HIV treatment programs and often better than in Western HIV clinics. For example, in a meta-analysis of 27 cohorts from 12 African countries, adequate adherence was noted in 77% of subjects compared to only 55% among 31 North America cohorts; (2) choice of antiretroviral regimens may impact on the development of antiretroviral resistance. In poor countries, most antiretroviral regimens contain non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), such as nevirapine or efavirenz, which remain in the patient's circulation for weeks after single-dose administration. This situation means that such patients may not experience antiretroviral resistance unless they drop below 80% adherence—contrary to the more stringent 95% plus adherence levels needed to prevent resistance in regimens based on unboosted protease inhibitors—ultimately, off-setting some treatment lapses in resource-limited settings where NNRTI-based regimens are widely used.
Why Was This Study Done?
Given that adherence may not be as crucial an issue as previously thought, antiretroviral treatment programs in sub-Saharan Africa may be spending scarce resources to promote adherence to the detriment of some potentially more effective elements of HIV treatment and management programs. Although many treatment programs currently include adherence interventions, there is limited quality evidence that any of these methods improve long-term adherence to HIV treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to identify adherence interventions that are inexpensive and proven to be effective in resource-limited settings. As adherence counseling is already widely implemented in African HIV treatment programs and inexpensive alarm devices are thought to also improve compliance, the researchers compared the impact of adherence counseling and the use of an alarm device on adherence and biological outcomes in patients enrolled in HIV programs in rural Kenya.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 400 eligible patients (newly diagnosed with HIV, never before taken antiretroviral therapy, aged over 18 years) to four arms: (1) adherence counseling alone; (2) alarm device alone; (3) both adherence counseling and alarm device together; and (4) a control group that received neither adherence counseling nor alarm device. The patients had blood taken to record baseline CD4 count and HIV-1 RNA and after starting HIV treatment, returned to the study clinic every month with their pill bottles for the study pharmacist to count and recorded the number of pills remaining in the bottle, and to receive another prescription. Patients were followed up for 18 months and had their CD4 count and HIV-1 RNA measured at 6, 12, and 18 months.
Patients receiving adherence counseling were 29% less likely to experience poor adherence compared to those who received no counseling. Furthermore, those receiving intensive early adherence counseling were 59% less likely to experience viral failure. However, there was no significant difference in mortality or significant differences in CD4 counts at 18 months follow-up between those who received counseling and those who did not. There were no significant differences in adherence, time to viral failure, mortality, or CD4 counts in patients who received alarm devices compared to those who did not.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study suggest that intensive adherence counseling around the time of HIV treatment initiation significantly reduces poor adherence and virologic treatment failure, while using an alarm device has no effect. Therefore, investment in careful counseling based on individual needs at the onset of HIV treatment initiation, appears to have sustained benefit, possibly through strengthening the relationship between the health care provider and patient through communication, education, and trust. Interactive adherence counseling supports the bond between the clinic and the patient and may result in fewer patients needing to switch to expensive second-line medications and, possibly, may help to decrease the spread of resistant HIV. These findings define an adherence counseling protocol that is effective and are highly relevant to other HIV clinics caring for large numbers of patients in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
UNAIDS provides information about HIV treatment strategies
The American Public Health Association has information about adherence to HIV treatment regimens
The US Department of Health and Human Services has information for patients about adherence to HIV treatment
The World Health Organization provides information about HIV treatment pharmacovigilance
PMCID: PMC3046986  PMID: 21390262
4.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
5.  Pharmacy Refill Adherence Compared with CD4 Count Changes for Monitoring HIV-Infected Adults on Antiretroviral Therapy 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(5):e109.
World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for monitoring HIV-infected individuals taking combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) in resource-limited settings recommend using CD4+ T cell (CD4) count changes to monitor treatment effectiveness. In practice, however, falling CD4 counts are a consequence, rather than a cause, of virologic failure. Adherence lapses precede virologic failure and, unlike CD4 counts, data on adherence are immediately available to all clinics dispensing cART. However, the accuracy of adherence assessments for predicting future or detecting current virologic failure has not been determined. The goal of this study therefore was to determine the accuracy of adherence assessments for predicting and detecting virologic failure and to compare the accuracy of adherence-based monitoring approaches with approaches monitoring CD4 count changes.
Methodology and Findings
We conducted an observational cohort study among 1,982 of 4,984 (40%) HIV-infected adults initiating non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor-based cART in the Aid for AIDS Disease Management Program, which serves nine countries in southern Africa. Pharmacy refill adherence was calculated as the number of months of cART claims submitted divided by the number of complete months between cART initiation and the last refill prior to the endpoint of interest, expressed as a percentage. The main outcome measure was virologic failure defined as a viral load > 1,000 copies/ml (1) at an initial assessment either 6 or 12 mo after cART initiation and (2) after a previous undetectable (i.e., < 400 copies/ml) viral load (breakthrough viremia). Adherence levels outperformed CD4 count changes when used to detect current virologic failure in the first year after cART initiation (area under the receiver operating characteristic [ROC] curves [AUC] were 0.79 and 0.68 [difference = 0.11; 95% CI 0.06 to 0.16; χ2 = 20.1] respectively at 6 mo, and 0.85 and 0.75 [difference = 0.10; 95% CI 0.05 to 0.14; χ2 = 20.2] respectively at 12 mo; p < 0.001 for both comparisons). When used to detect current breakthrough viremia, adherence and CD4 counts were equally accurate (AUCs of 0.68 versus 0.67, respectively [difference = 0.01; 95% CI −0.06 to 0.07]; χ2 = 0.1, p > 0.5). In addition, adherence levels assessed 3 mo prior to viral load assessments were as accurate for virologic failure occurring approximately 3 mo later as were CD4 count changes calculated from cART initiation to the actual time of the viral load assessments, indicating the potential utility of adherence assessments for predicting future, rather than simply detecting current, virologic failure. Moreover, combinations of CD4 count and adherence data appeared useful in identifying patients at very low risk of virologic failure.
Pharmacy refill adherence assessments were as accurate as CD4 counts for detecting current virologic failure in this cohort of patients on cART and have the potential to predict virologic failure before it occurs. Approaches to cART scale-up in resource-limited settings should include an adherence-based monitoring approach.
Analyzing pharmacy and laboratory records from 1,982 patients beginning HIV therapy in southern Africa, Gregory Bisson and colleagues find medication adherence superior to CD4 count changes in identifying treatment failure.
Editors' Summary
Globally, more than 30 million people are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Combinations of antiretroviral drugs that hold HIV in check (viral suppression) have been available since 1996. Unfortunately, most of the people affected by HIV/AIDS live in developing countries and cannot afford these expensive drugs. As a result, life expectancy has plummeted and economic growth has reversed in these poor countries since the beginning of the AIDS pandemic. Faced with this humanitarian crisis, the lack of access to HIV treatment was declared a global health emergency in 2003. Today, through the concerted efforts of governments, international organizations, and funding bodies, about a quarter of the HIV-positive people in developing and transitional countries who are in immediate need of life-saving, combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) receive the drugs they need.
Why Was This Study Done?
To maximize the benefits of cART, health-care workers in developing countries need simple, affordable ways to monitor viral suppression in their patients—a poor virologic response to cART can lead to the selection of drug-resistant HIV, rapid disease progression, and death. In developed countries, virologic response is monitored by measuring the number of viral particles in patients' blood (viral load) but this technically demanding assay is unavailable in most developing countries. Instead, the World Health Organization recommends that CD4+ T cell (CD4) counts be used to monitor patient responses to cART in resource-limited settings. HIV results in loss of CD4 cells (a type of immune system cell), so a drop in a patient's CD4 count often indicates virologic failure (failure of treatment to suppress the virus). However, falling CD4 counts are often a result of virologic failure and therefore monitoring CD4 counts for drops is unlikely to prevent virologic failure from occurring. Rather, falling CD4 counts are often used only to guide a change to new medicines, which may be even more expensive or difficult to take. On the other hand “adherence lapses”—the failure to take cART regularly—often precede virologic failure, so detecting them early provides an opportunity for improvement in adherence that could prevent virologic failure. Because clinics that dispense cART routinely collect data that can be used to calculate adherence, in this study the researchers investigate whether assessing adherence might provide an alternative, low-cost way to monitor and predict virologic failure among HIV-infected adults on cART.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The Aid for AIDS Disease Management Program provides cART to medical insurance fund subscribers in nine countries in southern Africa. Data on claims for antiretroviral drugs made through this program, plus CD4 counts assessed at about 6 or 12 months after initiating cART, and viral load measurements taken within 45 days of a CD4 count, were available for nearly 2,000 HIV-positive adults who had been prescribed a combination of HIV drugs including either efavirenz or nevirapine. The researchers defined adherence as the number of months of cART claims submitted divided by the number of complete months between cART initiation and the last pharmacy refill before a viral load assessment was performed. Virologic failure was defined in two ways: as a viral load of more than 1,000 copies per ml of blood 6 or 12 months after cART initiation, or as a rebound of viral load to similar levels after a previously very low reading (breakthrough viremia). The researchers' statistical analysis of these data shows that at 6 and 12 months after initiation of cART, adherence levels indicated virologic failure more accurately than CD4 count changes. For breakthrough viremia, both measurements were equally accurate. Adherence levels during the first 3 months of cART predicted virologic failure at 6 months as accurately as did CD4 count changes since cART initiation. Finally, the combination of adherence levels and CD4 count changes accurately identified patients at very low risk of virologic failure.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that adherence assessments (based in this study on insurance claims for pharmacy refills) can identify the patients on cART who are at high and low risk of virologic failure at least as accurately as CD4 counts. In addition, they suggest that adherence assessments could be used for early identification of patients at high risk of virologic failure, averting the health impact of treatment failure and the cost of changing to second-line drug regimens. Studies need to be done in other settings (in particular, in public clinics where cART is provided without charge) to confirm the generalizability of these findings. These finding do not change that fact that monitoring CD4 counts plays an important role in deciding when to start cART or indicating when cART is no longer protecting the immune system. But, write the researchers, systematic monitoring of adherence to cART should be considered as an alternative to CD4 count monitoring in patients who are receiving cART in resource-limited settings or as a way to direct the use of viral load testing where feasible.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is discussed further in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by David Bangsberg
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including an article about adherence to antiretroviral therapy
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS in Africa and on providing AIDS drug treatment for millions
The World Health Organization provides information about universal access to HIV treatment (in several languages) and on its recommendations for antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection in adults and adolescents
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on global efforts to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2386831  PMID: 18494555
6.  Implementing the 2009 Institute of Medicine recommendations on resident physician work hours, supervision, and safety 
Long working hours and sleep deprivation have been a facet of physician training in the US since the advent of the modern residency system. However, the scientific evidence linking fatigue with deficits in human performance, accidents and errors in industries from aeronautics to medicine, nuclear power, and transportation has mounted over the last 40 years. This evidence has also spawned regulations to help ensure public safety across safety-sensitive industries, with the notable exception of medicine.
In late 2007, at the behest of the US Congress, the Institute of Medicine embarked on a year-long examination of the scientific evidence linking resident physician sleep deprivation with clinical performance deficits and medical errors. The Institute of Medicine’s report, entitled “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety”, published in January 2009, recommended new limits on resident physician work hours and workload, increased supervision, a heightened focus on resident physician safety, training in structured handovers and quality improvement, more rigorous external oversight of work hours and other aspects of residency training, and the identification of expanded funding sources necessary to implement the recommended reforms successfully and protect the public and resident physicians themselves from preventable harm.
Given that resident physicians comprise almost a quarter of all physicians who work in hospitals, and that taxpayers, through Medicare and Medicaid, fund graduate medical education, the public has a deep investment in physician training. Patients expect to receive safe, high-quality care in the nation’s teaching hospitals. Because it is their safety that is at issue, their voices should be central in policy decisions affecting patient safety. It is likewise important to integrate the perspectives of resident physicians, policy makers, and other constituencies in designing new policies. However, since its release, discussion of the Institute of Medicine report has been largely confined to the medical education community, led by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
To begin gathering these perspectives and developing a plan to implement safer work hours for resident physicians, a conference entitled “Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety: What will it take to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations?” was held at Harvard Medical School on June 17–18, 2010. This White Paper is a product of a diverse group of 26 representative stakeholders bringing relevant new information and innovative practices to bear on a critical patient safety problem. Given that our conference included experts from across disciplines with diverse perspectives and interests, not every recommendation was endorsed by each invited conference participant. However, every recommendation made here was endorsed by the majority of the group, and many were endorsed unanimously. Conference members participated in the process, reviewed the final product, and provided input before publication. Participants provided their individual perspectives, which do not necessarily represent the formal views of any organization.
In September 2010 the ACGME issued new rules to go into effect on July 1, 2011. Unfortunately, they stop considerably short of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations and those endorsed by this conference. In particular, the ACGME only applied the limitation of 16 hours to first-year resident physicans. Thus, it is clear that policymakers, hospital administrators, and residency program directors who wish to implement safer health care systems must go far beyond what the ACGME will require. We hope this White Paper will serve as a guide and provide encouragement for that effort.
Resident physician workload and supervision
By the end of training, a resident physician should be able to practice independently. Yet much of resident physicians’ time is dominated by tasks with little educational value. The caseload can be so great that inadequate reflective time is left for learning based on clinical experiences. In addition, supervision is often vaguely defined and discontinuous. Medical malpractice data indicate that resident physicians are frequently named in lawsuits, most often for lack of supervision. The recommendations are: The ACGME should adjust resident physicians workload requirements to optimize educational value. Resident physicians as well as faculty should be involved in work redesign that eliminates nonessential and noneducational activity from resident physician dutiesMechanisms should be developed for identifying in real time when a resident physician’s workload is excessive, and processes developed to activate additional providersTeamwork should be actively encouraged in delivery of patient care. Historically, much of medical training has focused on individual knowledge, skills, and responsibility. As health care delivery has become more complex, it will be essential to train resident and attending physicians in effective teamwork that emphasizes collective responsibility for patient care and recognizes the signs, both individual and systemic, of a schedule and working conditions that are too demanding to be safeHospitals should embrace the opportunities that resident physician training redesign offers. Hospitals should recognize and act on the potential benefits of work redesign, eg, increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved quality of care, and resident physician and attending job satisfactionAttending physicians should supervise all hospital admissions. Resident physicians should directly discuss all admissions with attending physicians. Attending physicians should be both cognizant of and have input into the care patients are to receive upon admission to the hospitalInhouse supervision should be required for all critical care services, including emergency rooms, intensive care units, and trauma services. Resident physicians should not be left unsupervised to care for critically ill patients. In settings in which the acuity is high, physicians who have completed residency should provide direct supervision for resident physicians. Supervising physicians should always be physically in the hospital for supervision of resident physicians who care for critically ill patientsThe ACGME should explicitly define “good” supervision by specialty and by year of training. Explicit requirements for intensity and level of training for supervision of specific clinical scenarios should be providedCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should use graduate medical education funding to provide incentives to programs with proven, effective levels of supervision. Although this action would require federal legislation, reimbursement rules would help to ensure that hospitals pay attention to the importance of good supervision and require it from their training programs
Resident physician work hours
Although the IOM “Sleep, supervision and safety” report provides a comprehensive review and discussion of all aspects of graduate medical education training, the report’s focal point is its recommendations regarding the hours that resident physicians are currently required to work. A considerable body of scientific evidence, much of it cited by the Institute of Medicine report, describes deteriorating performance in fatigued humans, as well as specific studies on resident physician fatigue and preventable medical errors.
The question before this conference was what work redesign and cultural changes are needed to reform work hours as recommended by the Institute of Medicine’s evidence-based report? Extensive scientific data demonstrate that shifts exceeding 12–16 hours without sleep are unsafe. Several principles should be followed in efforts to reduce consecutive hours below this level and achieve safer work schedules. The recommendations are: Limit resident physician work hours to 12–16 hour maximum shiftsA minimum of 10 hours off duty should be scheduled between shiftsResident physician input into work redesign should be actively solicitedSchedules should be designed that adhere to principles of sleep and circadian science; this includes careful consideration of the effects of multiple consecutive night shifts, and provision of adequate time off after night work, as specified in the IOM reportResident physicians should not be scheduled up to the maximum permissible limits; emergencies frequently occur that require resident physicians to stay longer than their scheduled shifts, and this should be anticipated in scheduling resident physicians’ work shiftsHospitals should anticipate the need for iterative improvement as new schedules are initiated; be prepared to learn from the initial phase-in, and change the plan as neededAs resident physician work hours are redesigned, attending physicians should also be considered; a potential consequence of resident physician work hour reduction and increased supervisory requirements may be an increase in work for attending physicians; this should be carefully monitored, and adjustments to attending physician work schedules made as needed to prevent unsafe work hours or working conditions for this group“Home call” should be brought under the overall limits of working hours; work load and hours should be monitored in each residency program to ensure that resident physicians and fellows on home call are getting sufficient sleepMedicare funding for graduate medical education in each hospital should be linked with adherence to the Institute of Medicine limits on resident physician work hours
Moonlighting by resident physicians
The Institute of Medicine report recommended including external as well as internal moonlighting in working hour limits. The recommendation is: All moonlighting work hours should be included in the ACGME working hour limits and actively monitored. Hospitals should formalize a moonlighting policy and establish systems for actively monitoring resident physician moonlighting
Safety of resident physicians
The “Sleep, supervision and safety” report also addresses fatigue-related harm done to resident physicians themselves. The report focuses on two main sources of physical injury to resident physicians impaired by fatigue, ie, needle-stick exposure to blood-borne pathogens and motor vehicle crashes. Providing safe transportation home for resident physicians is a logistical and financial challenge for hospitals. Educating physicians at all levels on the dangers of fatigue is clearly required to change driving behavior so that safe hospital-funded transport home is used effectively. Fatigue-related injury prevention (including not driving while drowsy) should be taught in medical school and during residency, and reinforced with attending physicians; hospitals and residency programs must be informed that resident physicians’ ability to judge their own level of impairment is impaired when they are sleep deprived; hence, leaving decisions about the capacity to drive to impaired resident physicians is not recommendedHospitals should provide transportation to all resident physicians who report feeling too tired to drive safely; in addition, although consecutive work should not exceed 16 hours, hospitals should provide transportation for all resident physicians who, because of unforeseen reasons or emergencies, work for longer than consecutive 24 hours; transportation under these circumstances should be automatically provided to house staff, and should not rely on self-identification or request
Training in effective handovers and quality improvement
Handover practice for resident physicians, attendings, and other health care providers has long been identified as a weak link in patient safety throughout health care settings. Policies to improve handovers of care must be tailored to fit the appropriate clinical scenario, recognizing that information overload can also be a problem. At the heart of improving handovers is the organizational effort to improve quality, an effort in which resident physicians have typically been insufficiently engaged. The recommendations are: Hospitals should train attending and resident physicians in effective handovers of careHospitals should create uniform processes for handovers that are tailored to meet each clinical setting; all handovers should be done verbally and face-to-face, but should also utilize written toolsWhen possible, hospitals should integrate hand-over tools into their electronic medical records (EMR) systems; these systems should be standardized to the extent possible across residency programs in a hospital, but may be tailored to the needs of specific programs and services; federal government should help subsidize adoption of electronic medical records by hospitals to improve signoutWhen feasible, handovers should be a team effort including nurses, patients, and familiesHospitals should include residents in their quality improvement and patient safety efforts; the ACGME should specify in their core competency requirements that resident physicians work on quality improvement projects; likewise, the Joint Commission should require that resident physicians be included in quality improvement and patient safety programs at teaching hospitals; hospital administrators and residency program directors should create opportunities for resident physicians to become involved in ongoing quality improvement projects and root cause analysis teams; feedback on successful quality improvement interventions should be shared with resident physicians and broadly disseminatedQuality improvement/patient safety concepts should be integral to the medical school curriculum; medical school deans should elevate the topics of patient safety, quality improvement, and teamwork; these concepts should be integrated throughout the medical school curriculum and reinforced throughout residency; mastery of these concepts by medical students should be tested on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) stepsFederal government should support involvement of resident physicians in quality improvement efforts; initiatives to improve quality by including resident physicians in quality improvement projects should be financially supported by the Department of Health and Human Services
Monitoring and oversight of the ACGME
While the ACGME is a key stakeholder in residency training, external voices are essential to ensure that public interests are heard in the development and monitoring of standards. Consequently, the Institute of Medicine report recommended external oversight and monitoring through the Joint Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The recommendations are: Make comprehensive fatigue management a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal; fatigue is a safety concern not only for resident physicians, but also for nurses, attending physicians, and other health care workers; the Joint Commission should seek to ensure that all health care workers, not just resident physicians, are working as safely as possibleFederal government, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, should encourage development of comprehensive fatigue management programs which all health systems would eventually be required to implementMake ACGME compliance with working hours a “ condition of participation” for reimbursement of direct and indirect graduate medical education costs; financial incentives will greatly increase the adoption of and compliance with ACGME standards
Future financial support for implementation
The Institute of Medicine’s report estimates that $1.7 billion (in 2008 dollars) would be needed to implement its recommendations. Twenty-five percent of that amount ($376 million) will be required just to bring hospitals into compliance with the existing 2003 ACGME rules. Downstream savings to the health care system could potentially result from safer care, but these benefits typically do not accrue to hospitals and residency programs, who have been asked historically to bear the burden of residency reform costs. The recommendations are: The Institute of Medicine should convene a panel of stakeholders, including private and public funders of health care and graduate medical education, to lay down the concrete steps necessary to identify and allocate the resources needed to implement the recommendations contained in the IOM “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety” report. Conference participants suggested several approaches to engage public and private support for this initiativeEfforts to find additional funding to implement the Institute of Medicine recommendations should focus more broadly on patient safety and health care delivery reform; policy efforts focused narrowly upon resident physician work hours are less likely to succeed than broad patient safety initiatives that include residency redesign as a key componentHospitals should view the Institute of Medicine recommendations as an opportunity to begin resident physician work redesign projects as the core of a business model that embraces safety and ultimately saves resourcesBoth the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services should take the Institute of Medicine recommendations into consideration when promulgating rules for innovation grantsThe National Health Care Workforce Commission should consider the Institute of Medicine recommendations when analyzing the nation’s physician workforce needs
Recommendations for future research
Conference participants concurred that convening the stakeholders and agreeing on a research agenda was key. Some observed that some sectors within the medical education community have been reluctant to act on the data. Several logical funders for future research were identified. But above all agencies, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the only stakeholder that funds graduate medical education upstream and will reap savings downstream if preventable medical errors are reduced as a result of reform of resident physician work hours.
PMCID: PMC3630963  PMID: 23616719
resident; hospital; working hours; safety
7.  Guideline adherence and health outcomes in diabetes mellitus type 2 patients: a cross-sectional study 
The complex disease of diabetes mellitus type 2 (T2DM) requires a high standard of quality of care. Clinical practice guidelines define norms for diabetes care that ensure regular monitoring of T2DM patients, including annual diagnostic tests. This study aims to quantify guideline adherence in Dutch general practices providing care to T2DM patients and explores the association between guideline adherence and patients’ health outcomes.
In this cross-sectional study, we studied 363 T2DM patients in 32 general practices in 2011 and 2012. Guideline adherence was measured by comparing structure and process indicators of care with recommendations in the national diabetes care guideline. Health outcomes included biomedical measures and health behaviours. Data was extracted from medical records. The association between guideline adherence and health outcomes was analysed using hierarchical linear and logistic regression models.
Guideline adherence varied between different recommendations. For example 53% of the practices had a system for collecting patient experience feedback, while 97% had a policy for no-show patients. With regard to process indicators of care, guideline adherence was below 50% for foot, eye and urine albumin examination and high (>85%) for blood pressure, HbA1c and smoking behaviour assessment. Although guideline adherence varied considerably between practices, after adjusting for patient characteristics we found guideline adherence not to be associated with patients’ health outcomes.
Guideline adherence in Dutch general practices offering diabetes care was not optimal. Despite considerable variations between general practices, we found no clear relationship between guideline adherence and health outcomes. More research is needed to better understand the relationship between guideline adherence and health outcomes, specifically for guidelines that are based on limited scientific evidence.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0669-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4312465  PMID: 25608447
Integrated care; Diabetes mellitus; Guideline adherence; Measurement of quality of care; Health outcomes
8.  The Potential Impact of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention among Men Who Have Sex with Men and Transwomen in Lima, Peru: A Mathematical Modelling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001323.
Gabriela Gomez and colleagues developed a mathematical model of the HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men and transwomen in Lima, Peru to explore whether HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis could be a cost-effective addition to existing HIV prevention strategies.
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the use of antiretroviral drugs by uninfected individuals to prevent HIV infection, has demonstrated effectiveness in preventing acquisition in a high-risk population of men who have sex with men (MSM). Consequently, there is a need to understand if and how PrEP can be used cost-effectively to prevent HIV infection in such populations.
Methods and Findings
We developed a mathematical model representing the HIV epidemic among MSM and transwomen (male-to-female transgender individuals) in Lima, Peru, as a test case. PrEP effectiveness in the model is assumed to result from the combination of a “conditional efficacy” parameter and an adherence parameter. Annual operating costs from a health provider perspective were based on the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interim guidelines for PrEP use. The model was used to investigate the population-level impact, cost, and cost-effectiveness of PrEP under a range of implementation scenarios. The epidemiological impact of PrEP is largely driven by programme characteristics. For a modest PrEP coverage of 5%, over 8% of infections could be averted in a programme prioritising those at higher risk and attaining the adherence levels of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Initiative study. Across all scenarios, the highest estimated cost per disability-adjusted life year averted (uniform strategy for a coverage level of 20%, US$1,036–US$4,254) is below the World Health Organization recommended threshold for cost-effective interventions, while only certain optimistic scenarios (low coverage of 5% and some or high prioritisation) are likely to be cost-effective using the World Bank threshold. The impact of PrEP is reduced if those on PrEP decrease condom use, but only extreme behaviour changes among non-adherers (over 80% reduction in condom use) and a low PrEP conditional efficacy (40%) would adversely impact the epidemic. However, PrEP will not arrest HIV transmission in isolation because of its incomplete effectiveness and dependence on adherence, and because the high cost of programmes limits the coverage levels that could potentially be attained.
A strategic PrEP intervention could be a cost-effective addition to existing HIV prevention strategies for MSM populations. However, despite being cost-effective, a substantial expenditure would be required to generate significant reductions in incidence.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Without a vaccine, the only ways to halt the global HIV epidemic are prevention strategies that reduce transmission of the HIV virus. Up until recently, behavioral strategies such as condom use and reduction of sexual partners have been at the center of HIV prevention. In the past few years, several biological prevention measures have also been shown to be effective in reducing (though not completely preventing) HIV transmission. These include male circumcision, treatment for prevention (giving antiretroviral drugs to HIV-infected people, before they need it for their own health, to reduce their infectiousness) and pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP), in which HIV-negative people use antiretroviral drugs to protect themselves from infection. One PrEP regimen (a daily pill containing two different antiretrovirals) has been shown in a clinical trial to reduce new infections by 44% in of men who have sex with men (MSM). In July 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved this PrEP regimen to reduce the risk of HIV infection in uninfected men and women who are at high risk of HIV infection and who may engage in sexual activity with HIV-infected partners. The approval makes it clear that PrEP needs to be used in combination with safe sex practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
Clinical trials have shown that PrEP can reduce HIV infections among participants, but they have not examined the consequences PrEP could have at the population level. Before decision-makers can decide whether to invest in PrEP programs, they need to know about the costs and benefits at the population level. Besides the price of the drug itself, the costs include HIV testing before starting PrEP, as well as regular tests thereafter. The health benefits of reducing new HIV infections are calculated in “disability-adjusted life years” (or DALYs) averted. One DALY is equal to one year of healthy life lost. Other benefits include future savings in lifelong HIV/AIDS treatment for every person whose infection is prevented by PrEP.
This study estimates the potential costs and health benefits of several hypothetical PrEP roll-out scenarios among the community of MSM in Lima, Peru. The scientists chose this community because many of the participants in the clinical trial that showed that PrEP can reduce infections came from this community, and they therefore have some knowledge on how PrEP affects HIV infection rates and behavior in this population. Because the HIV epidemic in Lima is concentrated among MSM, similar to most of Latin America and several other developed countries, the results might also be relevant for the evaluation of PrEP in other places.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their scenarios, the researchers looked at “high coverage” and “low coverage” scenarios, in which 20% and 5% of uninfected individuals use PrEP, respectively. They also divided the MSM community into those at lower risk of becoming infected and those at higher risk. The latter group consisted of transwomen at higher risk (transsexuals and transvestites with many sexual partners) and male sex workers. In a “uniform coverage” scenario, PrEP is equally distributed among all MSM. “Prioritized scenarios” cover transwomen at higher risk and sex workers preferentially. Two additional important factors for the estimated benefits are treatment adherence (i.e., whether people take the pills they have been prescribed faithfully over long periods of time even though they are not sick) and changes in risk behavior (i.e., whether the perceived protection provided by PrEP leads to more unprotected sex).
The cost estimates for PrEP included the costs of the drug itself and HIV tests prior to PrEP prescription and at three-month intervals thereafter, as well as outreach and counseling services and condom and lubricant promotion and provision.
To judge whether under the various scenarios PrEP is cost-effective, the researchers applied two commonly used but different cost-effectiveness thresholds. The World Health Organization's WHO-CHOICE initiative considers an intervention cost-effective if its cost is less than three times the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita per DALY averted. For Peru, this means an intervention should cost less than US$16,302 per DALY. The World Bank has more stringent criteria: it considers an intervention cost-effective for a middle-income country like Peru if it costs less than US$500 per DALY averted.
The researchers estimate that PrEP is cost-effective in Lima's MSM population for most scenarios by WHO-CHOICE guidelines. Only scenarios that prioritize PrEP to those most likely to become infected (i.e., transwomen at higher risk and sex workers) are cost-effective (and only barely) by the more stringent World Bank criteria. If the savings on antiretroviral drugs to treat people with HIV (those who would have become infected without PrEP) are included in the calculation, most scenarios become cost-effective, even under World Bank criteria.
The most cost-effective scenario, namely, having a modest coverage of 5%, prioritizing PrEP to transwomen at higher risk and sex workers, and assuming fairly high adherence levels among PrEP recipients, is estimated to avert about 8% of new infections among this community over ten years.
What Do these Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that under some circumstances, PrEP could be a cost-effective tool to reduce new HIV infections. However, as the researchers discuss, PrEP is expensive and only partly effective. Moreover, its effectiveness depends on two behavioral factors—adherence to a strict drug regimen and continued practicing of safe sex—both of which remain hard to predict. As a consequence, PrEP alone is not a valid strategy to prevent new HIV infections. It needs instead to be considered as one of several available tools. If and when PrEP is chosen as part of an integrated prevention strategy will depend on the specific target population, the overall funds available, and how well its cost-effectiveness compares with other prevention measures.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
NAM/aidsmap provides basic information about HIV/AIDS, summaries of recent research findings on HIV care and treatment, and a section on PrEP
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including HIV prevention
AVAC Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention provides up-to-date information on HIV prevention, including PrEP
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has information on PrEP
The World Health Organization has a page on its WHO-CHOICE criteria for cost-effectiveness
PMCID: PMC3467261  PMID: 23055836
9.  Guidelines, Editors, Pharma And The Biological Paradigm Shift 
Mens Sana Monographs  2007;5(1):27-30.
Private investment in biomedical research has increased over the last few decades. At most places it has been welcomed as the next best thing to technology itself. Much of the intellectual talent from academic institutions is getting absorbed in lucrative positions in industry. Applied research finds willing collaborators in venture capital funded industry, so a symbiotic growth is ensured for both.
There are significant costs involved too. As academia interacts with industry, major areas of conflict of interest especially applicable to biomedical research have arisen. They are related to disputes over patents and royalty, hostile encounters between academia and industry, as also between public and private enterprise, legal tangles, research misconduct of various types, antagonistic press and patient-advocate lobbies and a general atmosphere in which commercial interest get precedence over patient welfare.
Pharma image stinks because of a number of errors of omission and commission. A recent example is suppression of negative findings about Bayer's Trasylol (Aprotinin) and the marketing maneuvers of Eli Lilly's Xigris (rhAPC). Whenever there is a conflict between patient vulnerability and profit motives, pharma often tends to tilt towards the latter. Moreover there are documents that bring to light how companies frequently cross the line between patient welfare and profit seeking behaviour.
A voluntary moratorium over pharma spending to pamper drug prescribers is necessary. A code of conduct adopted recently by OPPI in India to limit pharma company expenses over junkets and trinkets is a welcome step.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPG) are considered important as they guide the diagnostic/therapeutic regimen of a large number of medical professionals and hospitals and provide recommendations on drugs, their dosages and criteria for selection. Along with clinical trials, they are another area of growing influence by the pharmaceutical industry. For example, in a relatively recent survey of 2002, it was found that about 60% of 192 authors of clinical practice guidelines reported they had financial connections with the companies whose drugs were under consideration. There is a strong case for making CPGs based not just on effectivity but cost effectivity. The various ramifications of this need to be spelt out. Work of bodies like the Appraisal of Guidelines Research and Evaluation (AGREE) Collaboration and Guidelines Advisory Committee (GAC) are also worth a close look.
Even the actions of Foundations that work for disease amelioration have come under scrutiny. The process of setting up ‘Best Practices’ Guidelines for interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and clinicians has already begun and can have important consequences for patient care. Similarly, Good Publication Practice (GPP) for pharmaceutical companies have also been set up aimed at improving the behaviour of drug companies while reporting drug trials
The rapidly increasing trend toward influence and control by industry has become a concern for many. It is of such importance that the Association of American Medical Colleges has issued two relatively new documents - one, in 2001, on how to deal with individual conflicts of interest; and the other, in 2002, on how to deal with institutional conflicts of interest in the conduct of clinical research. Academic Medical Centers (AMCs), as also medical education and research institutions at other places, have to adopt means that minimize their conflicts of interest.
Both medical associations and research journal editors are getting concerned with individual and institutional conflicts of interest in the conduct of clinical research and documents are now available which address these issues. The 2001 ICMJE revision calls for full disclosure of the sponsor's role in research, as well as assurance that the investigators are independent of the sponsor, are fully accountable for the design and conduct of the trial, have independent access to all trial data and control all editorial and publication decisions. However the findings of a 2002 study suggest that academic institutions routinely participate in clinical research that does not adhere to ICMJE standards of accountability, access to data and control of publication.
There is an inevitable slant to produce not necessarily useful but marketable products which ensure the profitability of industry and research grants outflow to academia. Industry supports new, not traditional, therapies, irrespective of what is effective. Whatever traditional therapy is supported is most probably because the company concerned has a product with a big stake there, which has remained a ‘gold standard’ or which that player thinks has still some ‘juice’ left.
Industry sponsorship is mainly for potential medications, not for trying to determine whether there may be non-pharmacological interventions that may be equally good, if not better. In the paradigm shift towards biological psychiatry, the role of industry sponsorship is not overt but probably more pervasive than many have realised, or the right thinking may consider good, for the health of the branch in the long run.
An issue of major concern is protection of the interests of research subjects. Patients agree to become research subjects not only for personal medical benefit but, as an extension, to benefit the rest of the patient population and also advance medical research.
We all accept that industry profits have to be made, and investment in research and development by the pharma industry is massive. However, we must also accept there is a fundamental difference between marketing strategies for other entities and those for drugs.
The ultimate barometer is patient welfare and no drug that compromises it can stand the test of time. So, how does it make even commercial sense in the long term to market substandard products? The greatest mistake long-term players in industry may make is try to adopt the shady techniques of the upstart new entrant. Secrecy of marketing/sales tactics, of the process of manufacture, of other strategies and plans of business expansion, of strategies to tackle competition are fine business tactics. But it is critical that secrecy as a tactic not extend to reporting of research findings, especially those contrary to one's product.
Pharma has no option but to make a quality product, do comprehensive adverse reaction profiles, and market it only if it passes both tests.
Why does pharma adopt questionable tactics? The reasons are essentially two:
What with all the constraints, a drug comes to the pharmacy after huge investments. There are crippling overheads and infrastructure costs to be recovered. And there are massive profit margins to be maintained. If these were to be dependent only on genuine drug discoveries, that would be taking too great a risk.Industry players have to strike the right balance between profit making and credibility. In profit making, the marketing champions play their role. In credibility ratings, researchers and paid spokes-persons play their role. All is hunky dory till marketing is based on credibility. When there is nothing available to make for credibility, something is projected as one and marketing carried out, in the calculated hope that profits can accrue, since profit making must continue endlessly. That is what makes pharma adopt even questionable means to make profits.
Essentially, there are four types of drugs. First, drugs that work and have minimal side-effects; second, drugs which work but have serious side-effects; third, drugs that do not work and have minimal side-effects; and fourth, drugs which work minimally but have serious side-effects. It is the second and fourth types that create major hassles for industry. Often, industry may try to project the fourth type as the second to escape censure.
The major cat and mouse game being played by conscientious researchers is in exposing the third and fourth for what they are and not allowing industry to palm them off as the first and second type respectively. The other major game is in preventing the second type from being projected as the first. The third type are essentially harmless, so they attract censure all right and some merriment at the antics to market them. But they escape anything more than a light rap on the knuckles, except when they are projected as the first type.
What is necessary for industry captains and long-term players is to realise:
Their major propelling force can only be producing the first type. 2. They accept the second type only till they can lay their hands on the first. 3. The third type can be occasionally played around with to shore up profits, but never by projecting them as the first type. 4. The fourth type are the laggards, real threat to credibility and therefore do not deserve any market hype or promotion.
In finding out why most pharma indulges in questionable tactics, we are lead to some interesting solutions to prevent such tactics with the least amount of hassles for all concerned, even as both profits and credibility are kept intact.
PMCID: PMC3192391  PMID: 22058616
Academia; Pharmaceutical Industry; Clinical Practice Guidelines; Best Practice Guidelines; Academic Medical Centers; Medical Associations; Research Journals; Clinical Research; Public Welfare; Pharma Image; Corporate Welfare; Biological Psychiatry; Law Suits Against Industry
10.  Adherence to physiotherapy clinical guideline acute ankle injury and determinants of adherence: a cohort study 
Clinical guidelines are considered important instruments to improve quality in health care. In physiotherapy, insight in adherence to guidelines is limited. Knowledge of adherence is important to identify barriers and to enhance implementation. Purpose of this study is to investigate the ability to adherence to recommendations of the guideline Acute ankle injury, and to identify patient characteristics that determine adherence to the guideline.
Twenty-two physiotherapists collected data of 174 patients in a prospective cohort study, in which the course of treatment was systematically registered. Indicators were used to investigate adherence to recommendations. Patient characteristics were used to identify prognostic factors that may determine adherence to the guideline. Correlation between patient characteristics and adherence to outcome-indicators (treatment sessions, functioning of patient, accomplished goals) was calculated using univariate logistic regression. To calculate explained variance of combined patient characteristics, multivariate analysis was performed.
Adherence to individual recommendations varied from 71% to 100%. In 99 patients (57%) the physiotherapists showed adherence to all indicators. Adherence to preset maximum of six treatment sessions for patients with severe ankle injury was 81% (132 patients).
The odds to receive more than six sessions were statistically significant for three patient characteristics: females (OR:3.89; 95%CI: 1.41–10.72), recurrent sprain (OR: 6.90; 95%CI: 2.34 – 20.37), co-morbidity (OR: 25.92; 95% CI: 6.79 – 98.93). All factors together explained 40% of the variance. Inclusion of physiotherapist characteristics in the regression model showed that work-experience reduced the odds to receive more than six sessions (OR: 0.2; 95%CI: 0.06 – 0.77), and increased explained variance to 45%.
Adherence to the clinical guideline Acute ankle sprain showed that the guideline is applicable in daily practice. Adherence to the guideline, even in a group of physiotherapists familiar with the guideline, showed possibilities for improvement. The necessity to exceed the expected number of treatment sessions may be explained by co-morbidity and recurrent sprains. It is not clear why female patients were treated with more sessions. Experience of the physiotherapist reduced the number of treatment sessions. Quality indicators may be used for audit and feedback as part of the implementation strategy.
PMCID: PMC1885796  PMID: 17519040
11.  Children with Severe Malnutrition: Can Those at Highest Risk of Death Be Identified with the WHO Protocol? 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e500.
With strict adherence to international recommended treatment guidelines, the case fatality for severe malnutrition ought to be less than 5%. In African hospitals, fatality rates of 20% are common and are often attributed to poor training and faulty case management. Improving outcome will depend upon the identification of those at greatest risk and targeting limited health resources. We retrospectively examined the major risk factors associated with early (<48 h) and late in-hospital death in children with severe malnutrition with the aim of identifying admission features that could distinguish a high-risk group in relation to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.
Methods and Findings
Of 920 children in the study, 176 (19%) died, with 59 (33%) deaths occurring within 48 h of admission. Bacteraemia complicated 27% of all deaths: 52% died before 48 h despite 85% in vitro antibiotic susceptibility of cultured organisms. The sensitivity, specificity, and likelihood ratio of the WHO-recommended “danger signs” (lethargy, hypothermia, or hypoglycaemia) to predict early mortality was 52%, 84%, and 3.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.2 to 5.1), respectively. In addition, four bedside features were associated with early case fatality: bradycardia, capillary refill time greater than 2 s, weak pulse volume, and impaired consciousness level; the presence of two or more features was associated with an odds ratio of 9.6 (95% CI = 4.8 to 19) for early fatality (p < 0.0001). Conversely, the group of children without any of these seven features, or signs of dehydration, severe acidosis, or electrolyte derangements, had a low fatality (7%).
Formal assessment of these features as emergency signs to improve triage and to rationalize manpower resources toward the high-risk groups is required. In addition, basic clinical research is necessary to identify and test appropriate supportive treatments.
A retrospective examination of major risk factors associated with in-hospital deaths in children with severe malnutrition has identified admission features that could help distinguish those at highest risk.
Editors' Summary
Severe malnutrition is thought to be responsible, at least in part, for a large proportion of the many millions of deaths every year among children below the age of five years. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed guidelines for management of the severely malnourished child in the hospital. These guidelines outline ten initial steps for routine care, followed by treatment of associated conditions and rehabilitation. However, death rates among children admitted to hospital with severe malnutrition are worryingly high, commonly 20% or sometimes even higher. Many hospitals have reported that following introduction of the WHO guidelines, the death rates have been cut, but not to a level that the WHO defines as acceptable (5% or lower).
Why Was This Study Done?
In the region where this study was done, an area on the coast of Kenya, East Africa, malnutrition is very common. The local hospital, Kilifi District Hospital, currently reports a death rate of approximately 19% among children admitted with severe malnutrition, even with implementation of the WHO guidelines. A group of researchers based at the hospital wanted to see if they could identify those children who were most likely to die. Their aim was to see which aspects of the children's medical condition put them at highest risk. This information would be useful in ensuring that high-risk children received the most appropriate care.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied all severely malnourished children over three months of age who were admitted to the Kilifi District Hospital between September 2000 and June 2002. The children were treated according to the WHO guidelines, and the research group collected data on the condition of the children after treatment (their “outcomes”), as well as for relevant clinical signs and symptoms. The study involved 920 children, of whom 176 died in hospital (a death rate of 19%). They then examined the data to see which characteristics on admission were associated with early death (less than 48 h) and later deaths. They found that four clinical features, which could be easily ascertained at the bedside on admission, were associated with a large proportion of the early deaths. These four signs were slow heart rate, weak pulse volume, depressed consciousness level, and a delayed capillary refilling time (as tested by pressing a fingernail bed to blanche the finger, releasing it, and observing the time taken to reperfuse the capillaries—or recolor the nailbed). The researchers proposed that these findings, together with a number of other features that were associated with the later deaths could be used to identify three groups of patients differing in their need for emergency care: a high-risk group (with any of the four signs listed above, or hypoglycemia, and among whom mortality was 34%); a moderate-risk group (among whom mortality was 23%); and a low-risk group (mortality 7%).
What Do These Findings Mean?
First, the death rate amongst these children was very high even though WHO guidelines were used to guide management. The signs reported here as indicators of poor outcome may prove useful in future in identifying high-risk individuals to ensure they receive the right treatment. However, the indicators proposed here would need further evaluation before current guidelines for treatment of the severely malnourished child could be changed.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• Information on severe malnutrition is available from the World Health Organization
• Management guidelines from the WHO can also be downloaded in many languages
• UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, provides relevant resources and statistics as well as information about its programs addressing malnutrition worldwide
• Information from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on acute malnutrition worldwide and MSF's response to current emergencies
PMCID: PMC1716191  PMID: 17194194
12.  Adherence to guidelines and protocols in the prehospital and emergency care setting: a systematic review 
A gap between guidelines or protocols and clinical practice often exists, which may result in patients not receiving appropriate care. Therefore, the objectives of this systematic review were (1) to give an overview of professionals’ adherence to (inter)national guidelines and protocols in the emergency medical dispatch, prehospital and emergency department (ED) settings, and (2) to explore which factors influencing adherence were described in studies reporting on adherence. PubMed (including MEDLINE), CINAHL, EMBASE and the Cochrane database for systematic reviews were systematically searched. Reference lists of included studies were also searched for eligible studies. Identified articles were screened on title, abstract and year of publication (≥1990) and were included when reporting on adherence in the eligible settings. Following the initial selection, articles were screened full text and included if they concerned adherence to a (inter)national guideline or protocol, and if the time interval between data collection and publication date was <10 years. Finally, articles were assessed on reporting quality. Each step was undertaken by two independent researchers. Thirty-five articles met the criteria, none of these addressed the emergency medical dispatch setting or protocols. Median adherence ranged from 7.8-95% in the prehospital setting, and from 0-98% in the ED setting. In the prehospital setting, recommendations on monitoring came with higher median adherence percentages than treatment recommendations. For both settings, cardiology treatment recommendations came with relatively low median adherence percentages. Eight studies identified patient and organisational factors influencing adherence. The results showed that professionals’ adherence to (inter)national prehospital and emergency department guidelines shows a wide variation, while adherence in the emergency medical dispatch setting is not reported. As insight in influencing factors for adherence in the emergency care settings is minimal, future research should identify such factors to allow the development of strategies to improve adherence and thus improve quality of care.
PMCID: PMC3599067  PMID: 23422062
Emergency medical technicians [MeSH]; Emergency medical services [MeSH]; Emergency medicine [MeSH]; Emergency nursing [MeSH]; Guideline adherence [MeSH]
13.  Hypertension guidelines and their effects on the health system 
Hypertension guidelines, which have existed for many years and primarily used in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, are now becoming an issue in Germany. Strong efforts are presently underway for a German version comparable to the guidelines developed for the mentioned countries. The development of guidelines is a part of the implementation system of guidelines in Germany. It covers the mode of operation of the AWMF (work community of the scientific medical subject companies) with the clearinghouse for guidelines (CLA) and the cooperation with the centre for medical quality (ÄZQ).
In the HTA report the real use of the hypertension guidelines shall be investigated for Germany from the development trends and further possibilities of use according to a medical applicability. Economic issues and an optimisation of use are also discussed.
The following questions shall be answered in particular:
How much are the guidelines used concerning hypertension? Can effects (or their influence) be established on the medical procedures? Are there statements available about costs and cost effectiveness? Are there recommendations for further use?
To answer these questions, a comprehensive literature search was done. No empirical investigation was carried out. From this enquiry 206 articles were checked in detail but not all of them were available in full text.
Only those publications which directly dealt with high blood pressure guidelines or articles with a direct reference to the topic have been considered in the HTA report.
Publications concerning screening or methods of prevention, medical studies of the hypertension syndrome without a direct reference to guidelines and publications concerned with putting guidelines into action were excluded.
After an analysis of the selected literature addressing the topic of hypertension guidelines, it was evident that the use of these guidelines cannot be gathered from existing literature at the present time. One can assume from international studies with analogical reasoning that these are confessed and have a high level of acceptance in the medical community. Unfortunately the actual usage is not represented satisfactorily in the scientific literature.
The effects of the guidelines on the medical procedures seem to be very strongly individual and the analyses to the compliance show at least an observable effect within the last few years. No publications could be found for the cost effectiveness of the guidelines.
The actual compliance with guidelines seems to be in relation with the duration of the professional practice. It seems the shorter the professional practice takes place, the stronger the guidelines are adhered.
At present, there are only a few notes for the German health service regarding the actual effect of the hypertonus guidelines. However, the reason is not that the effect would not be possibly strong but at the methodical challenge to evaluate the sustaining effects of the application of the hypertonus guidelines. For this reason the literature is very rare regarding this topic.
For Germany it can be derived by analogical reasoning from foreign studies that guidelines will facilitate a more and more essential contribution to the design of the health system. Considering that primarily younger physicians accepted guidelines mode, the further construction, update and implementation of guidelines are essential, particularly with regard to the quality assurance. Straight guidelines can express a standard of the quality of a health system as a benchmark. The existence of guidelines or the lack thereof is considered also as a quality indicator of a health system at the organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD).
Guidelines should be evaluated - especially the hypertonus guideline. Also further development and implementation should be emphasised. Methodically oriented work to the approach is pretty recent.
It is undeniable that guidelines represent a very essential and important contribution for the successful dealing with significant morbidity problems in a health system.
The fact that primarily younger doctors more frequently adopt, employ and adhere to guidelines leads to the assumption that expected sustainability for practical use will increase. Furthermore intensified use of guidelines can be considered in the "mainstream" of the development of the public health system also in an international perspective.
Not one single publication contradicts that a further acquirement, update and distribution of guidelines for the use of practices is necessary. The importance of the guideline is also not questioned in any article.
PMCID: PMC3011314  PMID: 21289932
14.  Generalizability of guidelines and physicians' adherence. Case study on the Sixth Joint National Commitee's guidelines on hypertension 
BMC Public Health  2003;3:24.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPG) are thought to be an effective tool in improving efficiency and outcomes of clinical practice. Physicians' adherence to guidelines is reported to be poor. We evaluated the relationship between generalizability of guidelines on hypertension and physicians' adherence to guidelines' recommendations for pharmacological treatment.
We used the Sixth Joint National Committee's (JNC VI) guidelines on hypertension to evaluate our hypothesis. We evaluated the evidence from controlled clinical trials on which the JNC VI bases its recommendation, and compared the population enrolled in those trials with the American hypertensive population. Data on this population came from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey III.
Twenty-three percent of the NHANES population had a diagnosis of hypertension, 11% had hypertension requiring drug treatment according to the JNC VI. Only half of the population requiring treatment would have been enrolled in at least two trials. Rate of adherence to CPG was 69%. We found a weak association between generalizability and physicians' adherence to guidelines. Baseline risk was the major determinant of the decision to treat.
JNC VI guidelines may not be generalizable to their target population. We found a relatively poor adherence rate to these guidelines. Failing of completely taking into account the clinical characteristics of the patients may be partly responsible for this lack of adherence.
PMCID: PMC183849  PMID: 12873353
15.  Clinical testing patterns and cost implications of variation in the evaluation of chronic kidney disease among U.S. physicians 
Clinical practice guidelines were established to improve the diagnosis and management of chronic kidney disease (CKD), but the extent, determinants, and cost implications of guideline adherence and variation in adherence have not been evaluated.
Study Design
Cross-sectional survey
Settings & Participants
Nationally representative sample of 301 U.S. primary care physicians and nephrologists
Provider and patient characteristics
Outcomes & Measurements
Guideline adherence was assessed as present if physicians recommended at least 5 of 6 clinical tests prescribed by the National Kidney Foundation-Kidney Disease Outcomes and Quality Initiative (KDOQI) guidelines for a hypothetical patient with newly identified CKD. We also assessed patterns and cost of additional non-recommended tests for the initial clinical evaluation of CKD.
Most of the 86 family medicine, 89 internal medicine, and 126 nephrology physicians practiced greater than 10 years (54%), were in non-academic practices (76%), spent greater than 80% of their time performing clinical duties (78%), and correctly estimated kidney function (73%). Overall, 35% of participants were guideline adherent. Compared to nephrologists, internal medicine and family physicians had lower odds of adherence for all recommended testing (Odds Ratio (OR) [95% CI]:0.6[0.3–1.1] and 0.3[0.1–0.6], respectively). Participants practicing greater than 10 years had lower odds of ordering all recommended testing compared to participants practicing less than 10 years (OR[95% CI]: 0.5[0.3–0.9]). Eighty-five percent of participants recommended additional tests, which resulted in a 23% increased total per patient cost of the clinical evaluation.
Recommendations for a hypothetical case scenario may differ from that of actual patients.
Adherence to the recommended clinical testing for the diagnosis and management of CKD was poor and additional testing was associated with substantially increased cost of the clinical evaluation. Improved clarity, dissemination, and uptake of existing guidelines are needed to improve quality and decrease costs of care for patients with CKD.
PMCID: PMC2714476  PMID: 19371991
chronic kidney disease; primary care providers; guidelines; KDOQI; cost
16.  Swedish general practitioners’ attitudes towards treatment guidelines – a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15(1):3.
Drug therapy in primary care is a challenge for general practitioners (GPs) and the prescribing decision is influenced by several factors. GPs obtain drug information in different ways, from evidence-based sources, their own or others’ experiences, or interactions with opinion makers, patients or colleagues. The need for objective drug information sources instead of drug industry-provided information has led to the establishment of local drug and therapeutic committees. They annually produce and implement local treatment guidelines in order to promote rational drug use. This study describes Swedish GPs’ attitudes towards locally developed evidence-based treatment guidelines.
Three focus group interviews were performed with a total of 17 GPs working at both public and private primary health care centres in Skåne in southern Sweden. Transcripts were analysed by conventional content analysis. Codes, categories and themes were derived from data during the analysis.
We found two main themes: GP-related influencing factors and External influencing factors. The first theme emerged when we put together four main categories: Expectations and perceptions about existing local guidelines, Knowledge about evidence-based prescribing, Trust in development of guidelines, and Beliefs about adherence to guidelines. The second theme included the categories Patient-related aspects, Drug industry-related aspects, and Health economic aspects. The time-saving aspect, trust in evidence-based market-neutral guidelines and patient safety were described as key motivating factors for adherence. Patient safety was reported to be more important than adherence to guidelines or maintaining a good patient-doctor relationship. Cost containment was perceived both as a motivating factor and a barrier for adherence to guidelines. GPs expressed concerns about difficulties with adherence to guidelines when managing patients with drugs from other prescribers. GPs experienced a lack of time to self-inform and difficulties managing direct-to-consumer drug industry information.
Patient safety, trust in development of evidence-based recommendations, the patient-doctor encounter and cost containment were found to be key factors in GPs’ prescribing. Future studies should explore the need for transparency in forming and implementing guidelines, which might potentially increase adherence to evidence-based treatment guidelines in primary care.
PMCID: PMC4276045
Qualitative research; Focus groups; Guidelines; Attitudes; Primary care; GPs; Adherence; Drug therapy
17.  Effect of an Educational Toolkit on Quality of Care: A Pragmatic Cluster Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(2):e1001588.
In a pragmatic cluster-randomized trial, Baiju Shah and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of printed educational materials for clinician education focusing on cardiovascular disease screening and risk reduction in people with diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Printed educational materials for clinician education are one of the most commonly used approaches for quality improvement. The objective of this pragmatic cluster randomized trial was to evaluate the effectiveness of an educational toolkit focusing on cardiovascular disease screening and risk reduction in people with diabetes.
Methods and Findings
All 933,789 people aged ≥40 years with diagnosed diabetes in Ontario, Canada were studied using population-level administrative databases, with additional clinical outcome data collected from a random sample of 1,592 high risk patients. Family practices were randomly assigned to receive the educational toolkit in June 2009 (intervention group) or May 2010 (control group). The primary outcome in the administrative data study, death or non-fatal myocardial infarction, occurred in 11,736 (2.5%) patients in the intervention group and 11,536 (2.5%) in the control group (p = 0.77). The primary outcome in the clinical data study, use of a statin, occurred in 700 (88.1%) patients in the intervention group and 725 (90.1%) in the control group (p = 0.26). Pre-specified secondary outcomes, including other clinical events, processes of care, and measures of risk factor control, were also not improved by the intervention. A limitation is the high baseline rate of statin prescribing in this population.
The educational toolkit did not improve quality of care or cardiovascular outcomes in a population with diabetes. Despite being relatively easy and inexpensive to implement, printed educational materials were not effective. The study highlights the need for a rigorous and scientifically based approach to the development, dissemination, and evaluation of quality improvement interventions.
Trial Registration NCT01411865 and NCT01026688
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Clinical practice guidelines help health care providers deliver the best care to patients by combining all the evidence on disease management into specific recommendations for care. However, the implementation of evidence-based guidelines is often far from perfect. Take the example of diabetes. This common chronic disease, which is characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood, impairs the quality of life of patients and shortens life expectancy by increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases (conditions that affect the heart and circulation) and other life-threatening conditions. Patients need complex care to manage the multiple risk factors (high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high levels of fat in the blood) that are associated with the long-term complications of diabetes, and they need to be regularly screened and treated for these complications. Clinical practice guidelines for diabetes provide recommendations on screening and diagnosis, drug treatment, and cardiovascular disease risk reduction, and on helping patients self-manage their disease. Unfortunately, the care delivered to patients with diabetes frequently fails to meet the standards laid down in these guidelines.
Why Was This Study Done?
How can guideline adherence and the quality of care provided to patients be improved? A common approach is to send printed educational materials to clinicians. For example, when the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) updated its clinical practice guidelines in 2008, it mailed educational toolkits that contained brochures and other printed materials targeting key themes from the guidelines to family physicians. In this pragmatic cluster randomized trial, the researchers investigate the effect of the CDA educational toolkit that targeted cardiovascular disease screening and treatment on the quality of care of people with diabetes. A pragmatic trial asks whether an intervention works under real-life conditions and whether it works in terms that matter to the patient; a cluster randomized trial randomly assigns groups of people to receive alternative interventions and compares outcomes in the differently treated “clusters.”
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned family practices in Ontario, Canada to receive the educational toolkit in June 2009 (intervention group) or in May 2010 (control group). They examined outcomes between July 2009 and April 2010 in all patients with diabetes in Ontario aged over 40 years (933,789 people) using population-level administrative data. In Canada, administrative databases record the personal details of people registered with provincial health plans, information on hospital visits and prescriptions, and physician service claims for consultations, assessments, and diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. They also examined clinical outcome data from a random sample of 1,592 patients at high risk of cardiovascular complications. In the administrative data study, death or non-fatal heart attack (the primary outcome) occurred in about 11,500 patients in both the intervention and control group. In the clinical data study, the primary outcome―use of a statin to lower blood fat levels―occurred in about 700 patients in both study groups. Secondary outcomes, including other clinical events, processes of care, and measures of risk factor control were also not improved by the intervention. Indeed, in the administrative data study, some processes of care outcomes related to screening for heart disease were statistically significantly worse in the intervention group than in the control group, and in the clinical data study, fewer patients in the intervention group reached blood pressure targets than in the control group.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the CDA cardiovascular diseases educational toolkit did not improve quality of care or cardiovascular outcomes in a population with diabetes. Indeed, the toolkit may have led to worsening in some secondary outcomes although, because numerous secondary outcomes were examined, this may be a chance finding. Limitations of the study include its length, which may have been too short to see an effect of the intervention on clinical outcomes, and the possibility of a ceiling effect—the control group in the clinical data study generally had good care, which left little room for improvement of the quality of care in the intervention group. Overall, however, these findings suggest that printed educational materials may not be an effective way to improve the quality of care for patients with diabetes and other complex conditions and highlight the need for a rigorous, scientific approach to the development, dissemination, and evaluation of quality improvement interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health care professionals, and the general public (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information (including some personal stories) for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes, the commonest form of diabetes
The Canadian Diabetes Association also provides information about diabetes for patients (including some personal stories about living with diabetes) and health care professionals; its latest clinical practice guidelines are available on its website
The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides general information about clinical guidelines and about health care quality standards in the UK
The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality aims to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans (information in English and Spanish); the US National Guideline Clearinghouse is a searchable database of clinical practice guidelines
The International Diabetes Federation provides information about diabetes for patients and health care professionals, along with international statistics on the burden of diabetes
PMCID: PMC3913553  PMID: 24505216
18.  Guideline-adherent initial intravenous antibiotic therapy for hospital-acquired/ventilator-associated pneumonia is clinically superior, saves lives and is cheaper than non guideline adherent therapy 
Hospital-acquired pneumonia (HAP) often occurring as ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is the most frequent hospital infection in intensive care units (ICU). Early adequate antimicrobial therapy is an essential determinant of clinical outcome. Organisations like the German PEG or ATS/IDSA provide guidelines for the initial calculated treatment in the absence of pathogen identification. We conducted a retrospective chart review for patients with HAP/VAP and assessed whether the initial intravenous antibiotic therapy (IIAT) was adequate according to the PEG guidelines
Materials and methods
We collected data from 5 tertiary care hospitals. Electronic data filtering identified 895 patients with potential HAP/VAP. After chart review we finally identified 221 patients meeting the definition of HAP/VAP. Primary study endpoints were clinical improvement, survival and length of stay. Secondary endpoints included duration of mechanical ventilation, total costs, costs incurred on the intensive care unit (ICU), costs incurred on general wards and drug costs.
We found that 107 patients received adequate initial intravenous antibiotic therapy (IIAT) vs. 114 with inadequate IIAT according to the PEG guidelines. Baseline characteristics of both groups revealed no significant differences and good comparability. Clinical improvement was 64% over all patients and 82% (85/104) in the subpopulation with adequate IIAT while only 47% (48/103) inadequately treated patients improved (p < 0.001). The odds ratio of therapeutic success with GA versus NGA treatment was 5.821 (p < 0.001, [95% CI: 2.712-12.497]). Survival was 80% for the total population (n = 221), 86% in the adequately treated (92/107) and 74% in the inadequately treated 'subpopulation (84/114) (p = 0.021). The odds ratio of mortality for GA vs. NGA treatment was 0.565 (p = 0.117, [95% CI: 0.276-1.155]). Adequately treated patients had a significantly shorter length of stay (LOS) (23.9 vs. 28.3 days; p = 0.022), require significantly less hours of mechanical ventilation (175 vs. 274; p = 0.001), incurred lower total costs (EUR 28,033 vs. EUR 36,139, p = 0.006) and lower ICU-related costs (EUR 13,308 vs. EUR 18,666, p = 0.003).
Drug costs for the hospital stay were also lower (EUR 4,069 vs. EUR 4,833) yet not significant. The most frequent types of inadequate therapy were monotherapy instead of combination therapy, wrong type of penicillin and wrong type of cephalosporin.
These findings are consistent with those from other studies analyzing the impact of guideline adherence on survival rates, clinical success, LOS and costs. However, inadequately treated patients had a higher complicated pathogen risk score (CPRS) compared to those who received adequate therapy. This shows that therapy based on local experiences may be sufficient for patients with low CPRS but inadequate for those with high CPRS. Linear regression models showed that single items of the CPRS like extrapulmonary organ failure or late onset had no significant influence on the results.
Guideline-adherent initial intravenous antibiotic therapy is clinically superior, saves lives and is less expensive than non guideline adherent therapy. Using a CPRS score can be a useful tool to determine the right choice of initial intravenous antibiotic therapy. the net effect on the German healthcare system per year is estimated at up to 2,042 lives and EUR 125,819,000 saved if guideline-adherent initial therapy for HAP/VAP were established in all German ICUs.
PMCID: PMC3352003  PMID: 21813372
19.  Characteristics of effective clinical guidelines for general practice. 
BACKGROUND: The use of clinical guidelines in general practice is often limited. Research on barriers to guideline adherence usually focuses on attitudinal factors. Factors linked to the guideline itself are much less studied. AIM: To identify characteristics of effective clinical guidelines for general practice, and to explore whether these differ between therapeutic and diagnostic recommendations. DESIGN OF STUDY: Analysis of performance data from an audit study of 200 general practitioners (GPs) in The Netherlands conducted in 1997. SETTING: Panel of 12 GPs in The Netherlands who were familiar with guideline methodology. METHOD: A set of 12 attributes, including six potential facilitators and six potential barriers to guideline use, was formulated. The panel assessed the presence of these attributes in 96 guideline recommendations formulated by the Dutch College of General Practitioners. The attributes of recommendations with high compliance rates (70% to 100%) were compared with those with low compliance rates (0% to 60%). RESULTS: Recommendations with high compliance rates were to a lesser extent those requiring new skills (7% compared with 22% in recommendations with low compliance rates), were less often part of a complex decision tree (12% versus 25%), were more compatible with existing norms and values in practice (87% versus 76%), and more often supported with evidence (47% versus 31%). For diagnostic recommendations, the ease of applying them and the potential (negative) reactions of patients were more relevant than for therapeutic recommendations. CONCLUSION: To bridge the gap between research and practice, the evidence as well as the applicability should be considered when formulating recommendations. If the recommendations are not compatible with existing norms and values, not easy to follow or require new knowledge and skills, appropriate implementation strategies should be designed to ensure change in daily practice.
PMCID: PMC1314503  PMID: 12569898
20.  Perceived barriers to guideline adherence: A survey among general practitioners 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:98.
Despite considerable efforts to promote and support guideline use, adherence is often suboptimal. Barriers to adherence vary not only across guidelines but also across recommendations within guidelines. The aim of this study was to assess the perceived barriers to guideline adherence among GPs by focusing on key recommendations within guidelines.
We conducted a cross-sectional electronic survey among 703 GPs in the Netherlands. Sixteen key recommendations were derived from four national guidelines. Six statements were included to address the attitudes towards guidelines in general. In addition, GPs were asked to rate their perceived adherence (one statement) and the perceived barriers (fourteen statements) for each of the key recommendations, based on an existing framework.
264 GPs (38%) completed the questionnaire. Although 35% of the GPs reported difficulties in changing routines and habits to follow guidelines, 89% believed that following guidelines leads to improved patient care. Perceived adherence varied between 52 and 95% across recommendations (mean: 77%). The most perceived barriers were related to external factors, in particular patient ability and behaviour (mean: 30%) and patient preferences (mean: 23%). Lack of applicability of recommendations in general (mean: 22%) and more specifically to individual patients (mean: 25%) were also frequently perceived as barriers. The scores on perceived barriers differed largely between recommendations [minimum range 14%; maximum range 67%].
Dutch GPs have a positive attitude towards the NHG guidelines, report high adherence rates and low levels of perceived barriers. However, the perceived adherence and perceived barriers varied largely across recommendations. The most perceived barriers across recommendations are patient related, suggesting that current guidelines do not always adequately incorporate patient preferences, needs and abilities. It may be useful to provide tools such as decision aids, supporting the flexible use of guidelines to individual patients in practice.
PMCID: PMC3197492  PMID: 21939542
21.  Impact of remuneration on guideline adherence: Empirical evidence in general practice 
Background and objective. Changes in the Dutch GP remuneration system provided the opportunity to study the effects of changes in financial incentives on the quality of care. Separate remuneration systems for publicly insured patients (capitation) and privately insured patients (fee-for-service) were replaced by a combined system of capitation and fee-for-service for all in 2006. The effects of these changes on the quality of care in terms of guideline adherence were investigated. Design and setting. A longitudinal study from 2002 to 2009 using data from patient electronic medical records in general practice. A multilevel (patient and practice) approach was applied to study the effect of changes in the remuneration system on guideline adherence. Subjects. 21 421 to 39 828 patients from 32 to 52 general practices (dynamic panel of GPs). Main outcome measures. Sixteen guideline adherence indicators on prescriptions and referrals for acute and chronic conditions. Results. Guideline adherence increased between 2002 and 2008 by 7% for (formerly) publicly insured patients and 10% for (formerly) privately insured patients. In general, no significant differences in the trends for guideline adherence were found between privately and publicly insured patients, indicating the absence of an effect of the remuneration system on guideline adherence. Adherence to guidelines involving more time investment in terms of follow-up contacts was affected by changes in the remuneration system. For publicly insured patients, GPs showed a higher trend for guideline adherence for guidelines involving more time investment in terms of follow-up contacts compared with privately insured patients. Conclusion. The change in the remuneration system had a limited impact on guideline adherence.
PMCID: PMC3587301  PMID: 23330604
General practice; guideline adherence; quality of care; remuneration system; The Netherlands
22.  Effectiveness of disseminating consensus management recommendations for ulcer bleeding: a cluster randomized trial 
International guidelines for the management of nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding have not been widely adopted in clinical practice. We sought to determine whether a national, multifaceted intervention could improve adherence to guidelines, especially for patients at high risk of nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
In this randomized trial, we stratified hospitals by region and size and allocated sites to either the control or experimental group. Health care workers in the experimental group were given published guidelines, generic algorithms, stratification scoring systems and written reminders and attended multidisciplinary guideline education groups and case-based workshops. These interventions were implemented over a 12-month period after randomization, with performance feedback and benchmarking. The primary outcome of adherence rates to key guidelines in endoscopic and pharmacologic management, determined by chart review, was adjusted according to site characteristics and possible within-site dependencies. We also report the rates of adherence to other recommendations.
Forty-three sites were randomized to the experimental (n = 21) or control (n = 22) groups. In our primary analysis, we compared patients before (experimental group: n = 402 patients; control group: n = 424 patients) and after (experimental group: n = 361 patients; control group: n = 389 patients) intervention. Patient-level analysis revealed no significant difference in adherence rates to the guidelines after the intervention (experimental group: 9.8%; control group: 4.8%; p = 0.99) after adjustment for the rate of adherence before the intervention (experimental group: 13.2%; control group: 7.1%). The adherence rates to other guidelines were similar and decreased over time, varying between 5% and 93%.
This national knowledge translation–based trial suggests poor adherence to guidelines on nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Adherence was not improved by an educational intervention, which highlights both the complexity and poor predictability of attempting to alter the behaviour of health care providers (Trial registration:, no. MCT-88113).
PMCID: PMC3576461  PMID: 23318399
23.  Disparities in Ovarian Cancer Care Quality and Survival According to Race and Socioeconomic Status 
The relationship between racial and socioeconomic status (SES) disparities and the quality of epithelial ovarian cancer care and survival outcome are unclear.
A population-based analysis of National Cancer Data Base (NCDB) records for invasive primary epithelial ovarian cancer diagnosed in the period from 1998 to 2002 was done using data from patients classified as white or black. Adherence to National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guideline care was defined by stage-appropriate surgical procedures and recommended chemotherapy. The main outcome measures were differences in adherence to NCCN guidelines and overall survival according to race and SES and were analyzed using binomial logistic regression and multilevel survival analysis.
A total of 47 160 patients (white = 43 995; black = 3165) were identified. Non-NCCN-guideline-adherent care was an independent predictor of inferior overall survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.43, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.38 to 1.47). Demographic characteristics independently associated with a higher likelihood of not receiving NCCN guideline-adherent care were black race (odds ratio [OR] = 1.36, 95% CI = 1.25 to 1.48), Medicare payer status (OR = 1.20, 95% CI = 1.12 to 1.28), and not insured payer status (OR = 1.33, 95% CI = 1.19 to 1.49). After controlling for disease and treatment-related variables, independent racial and SES predictors of survival were black race (HR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.22 to 1.36), Medicaid payer status (HR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.20 to 1.38), not insured payer status (HR = 1.32, 95% CI = 1.20 to 1.44), and median household income less than $35 000 (HR = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.02 to 1.11).
These data highlight statistically and clinically significant disparities in the quality of ovarian cancer care and overall survival, independent of NCCN guidelines, along racial and SES parameters. Increased efforts are needed to more precisely define the patient, provider, health-care system, and societal factors leading to these observed disparities and guide targeted interventions.
PMCID: PMC3691950  PMID: 23539755
24.  Patterns of Care in Community-Based Oncology Practices for Anemia Associated With Myelosuppressive Chemotherapy 
Journal of Oncology Practice  2009;5(5):236-243.
Use of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents in the treatment of myelosuppresive chemotherapy–induced anemia has been shown to increase hemoglobin levels and reduce the need for transfusions in patients with cancer.
Adherence to anemia guidelines may improve patient outcomes. The objectives of this retrospective analysis were to examine baseline guideline adherence and patient characteristics associated with receiving treatment for chemotherapy-induced anemia (CIA) in community-based oncology practices.
National guidelines at time of data collection, including those from ASCO, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and McKesson Corporation (San Francisco, CA), were used to measure adherence. Guidelines recommended treatment with erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs) or transfusions when hemoglobin (Hb) levels were less than 11 g/dL or from 11 to 12 g/dL with presence of anemia symptoms or risk factors for development of symptomatic anemia. Medical records of patients age 18 years or older receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy between June 2005 and August 2006 for multiple solid tumors, Hodgkin's lymphoma, or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at 47 oncology practices were abstracted.
There were 2,874 patients receiving chemotherapy (mean age, 62 years; 66% female). The most common malignancies were breast cancer (36.5%), non–small-cell lung cancer (19%), and colorectal cancer (18%). Treatment patterns in 2,175 (75.7%) of 2,874 patients followed guideline recommendations. In 310 patients (10.8%), treatment was not initiated when guidelines recommended it, and in 389 patients (13.5%), treatment initiated was inconsistent with guideline recommendations. Among patients for whom treatment was recommended, prior chemotherapy and lower Hb levels were associated with higher likelihood of receiving treatment. Patients with colorectal, breast, and head and neck cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were less likely than patients with other cancers to receive CIA treatment.
The majority of patients received treatment consistent with guidelines. Cancer type, prior chemotherapy, and lower Hb levels were associated with receiving CIA treatment among patients for whom treatment was recommended.
PMCID: PMC2790673  PMID: 20856735
25.  Use of the World Wide Web to Implement Clinical Practice Guidelines: A Feasibility Study 
Important efforts have been invested in the past few years in the development of quality clinical guidelines. However, the means for the effective dissemination of guidelines to practicing physicians have not been determined. Several studies have examined the possibilities offered by the World Wide Web (the Web), but studies examining the implementation of clinical guidelines in actual practice are clearly lacking.
This study assessed the potential of the Web to implement clinical practice guidelines in actual clinical settings. It also documents the obstacles perceived by the physicians in their use of guidelines on the Internet to determine the role that the Web can play in the implementation of guidelines in practice.
Two guidelines were developed using a standardized panel method and made available via the Web. One concerned indications for low-back surgery and the other dealt with indications for upper and lower digestive endoscopies. To identify obstacles to their use in clinical practice, 20 physicians were asked to consult the guidelines during consultations with patients. Answers were collected using 3 different questionnaires.
Questionnaires were completed for consultations involving 213 patients. Less than 50% of the physicians have direct access to the Internet in their examination room. For 75%, the use of the guidelines was easy and the time required to consult them acceptable (3.4 minutes on average, or 12% of the time spent with the patient). The fear that use of such guidelines might interfere with the physician-patient relationship was mentioned as a reason for not consulting the guidelines for 27 consultations. Taking into account their experience with the Web, 75% of the physicians considered that the Web has a great or very-great potential for the dissemination of guidelines and 78% indicated that they would use such guidelines if they became generally available for clinical questions that concerned them. Only 3 physicians had consulted guidelines on the Web prior to this study.
The acceptance of use of clinical practice guidelines via the Web is high. The main limits to further use of such Web-based guidelines seem to be the lack of a computer connection in the physician's office or examining room and the fear that use of such guidelines might interfere with the physician-patient relationship. Though most participants appreciate the considerable potential of the Web for disseminating guidelines, only a small handful regularly use guidelines available on the Web. There are still numerous obstacles to the regular use of guidelines in clinical practice, some related to the physicians, others to the guidelines themselves.
PMCID: PMC1550559  PMID: 12857668
Practice guidelines; Internet; decision support systems, clinical; appropriateness of care; quality of health care; back pain; laminectomy; endoscopy

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