Research news: January 2012
Arch Intern Med2011;171:1910-7
Improving doctors’ performance enough to have a clinically meaningful effect on patients’ health is notoriously difficult. Many more or less intensive interventions have been tried, with only modest success. The latest—a carefully designed web based programme of education for primary care doctors in the US—had no discernible impact on patients with heart disease, although it did (just) encourage participating doctors to prescribe significantly more β blockers.
Only half the doctors in this cluster randomised trial used the comprehensive resource available to them. Those who did use the site visited it fewer than four times over 18 months and completed a mean of three modules out of eight. The authors also blame a strong performance by doctors from control clinics, who were given links to a variety of guidelines instead.
Secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, the focus of this trial, is one of the most important goals in