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Is untargeted educational outreach visiting delivered by pharmaceutical advisers effective in primary care? A pragmatic randomized controlled trial

Author(s): Eccles Martin | Steen Ian | Whitty Paula | Hall Lesley

Journal: Implementation Science
ISSN 1748-5908

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 23;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Abstract Background There is increasing evidence that clinical guidelines can lead to improvements in clinical care. However, they are not self-implementing. While educational outreach visits may improve prescribing behaviour, the effectiveness of routine delivery of these visits by existing pharmaceutical advisers is unknown. Methods Within a pragmatic randomized controlled trial, involving all general practices in two primary care trusts (PCTs), routine methods were used to distribute guidelines for the choice of antidepressants for the management of depression. Intervention practices were offered two visits (most accepted only one) by their PCT pharmaceutical adviser who had been trained in the techniques of outreach visiting. Intervention practices were visited regardless of whether they had prior problems with prescribing ('untargeted' visits). The intervention was evaluated using level three prescribing analysis and cost (PACT) data for antidepressant drugs for the six months during which the intervention was delivered and the subsequent twelve months. Results Across the 72 study practices there was no significant impact of the intervention on usage of any group of antidepressant drugs. Conclusion The routine use of untargeted educational outreach visiting delivered by existing pharmaceutical advisers may not be a worthwhile strategy. Trial registration NCT00393536
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