Intensive support to improve clinical decision making in cardiovascular care: a randomised controlled trial in general practice

B D Frijling, C M Lobo, M E J L Hulscher, R P Akkermans, B B van Drenth, A Prins, J C van der Wouden, R P T M Grol

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of feedback reports combined with outreach visits from trained non-physicians on the clinical decision making of general practitioners (GPs) in cardiovascular care.

DESIGN: Pragmatic cluster controlled trial with randomisation of practices to support (intervention group) or no special attention (control group); analysis after 2 years.

SETTING: 124 general practices in The Netherlands.


MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Compliance rates for 12 evidence-based indicators for the management of patients with hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, angina pectoris, or heart failure. The evaluation relied on the prospective recording of patient encounters by the participating GPs.

RESULTS: The GPs reported 30 101 clinical decisions at baseline and 22 454 decisions after the intervention. A significant improvement was seen for five of the 12 indicators: assessment of risk factors in patients with hypercholesterolaemia (odds ratio 2.04; 95% CI 1.44 to 2.88) or angina pectoris (3.07; 1.08 to 8.79), provision of information and advice to patients with hypercholesterolaemia (1.58, 1.17 to 2.13) or hypertension (1.55, 1.35 to 1.77), and checking for clinical signs of deterioration in patients with heart failure (4.11, 2.17 to 7.77). Single handed practices, non-training practices, and practices with older GPs gained particular benefit from the intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: Intensive support from trained non-physicians can alter certain aspects of the clinical decision making of GPs in cardiovascular care. The effect is small and the strategy needs further development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-7
Number of pages7
JournalQuality and Safety in Health Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases/complications
  • Decision Making
  • Family Practice/education
  • Feedback
  • Guideline Adherence/statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia/complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'/statistics & numerical data

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