Changing prescribing behaviour through the mail

October 25, 2004

Colin Dormuth and colleagues present research in this issue of CMAJ showing the effect that a series of letters from a trusted source on evidence-based drug therapy had prescribing behaviour of physicians.

While a systematic review in The Cochrane Library concluded that printed education materials for health care professionals had negligible impact, the authors point out that effect of regular and expected printed educational materials on physician prescribing behaviour has not been studied. The study by Dormuth and colleagues determined that, while no single letter made a statistically significant difference, the overall impact of 12 letters made a big difference.

In their study of 499 physicians from 24 local health areas in British Columbia , physicians in the control group (n=241) received letters 3-8 months after physicians in the intervention group (n=258). The authors found that the probability of prescribing a drug recommended in a letter rather than another drug in the same class increased by 30% in the 3 months after that letter was mailed relative to the preceding 3 months.
-end-
p. 1057 Effect of periodic letters on evidence-based drug therapy on prescribing behaviour: a randomized trial.
-- C.R. Dormuth et al.

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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