Strategies to reduce the use of low-value medical tests in primary care: a systematic review
SourceBritish Journal of General Practice, 70, 701, (2020), pp. e858-e865
Article / Letter to editor
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British Journal of General Practice
SubjectRadboudumc 18: Healthcare improvement science RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
BACKGROUND: It is recognised that medical tests are overused in primary care; however, it is unclear how best to reduce their use. AIM: To identify which strategies are effective in reducing the use of low-value medical tests in primary care settings. DESIGN AND SETTING: Systematic review. METHOD: The databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Rx for Change were searched (January 1990 to November 2019) for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that evaluated strategies to reduce the use of low-value medical tests in primary care settings. Two reviewers selected eligible RCTs, extracted data, and assessed their risk of bias. RESULTS: Of the 16 RCTs included in the review, 11 reported a statistically significant reduction in the use of low-value medical tests. The median of the differences between the relative reductions in the intervention and control arms was 17% (interquartile range 12% to 24%). Strategies using reminders or audit/feedback showed larger reduction than those without these components (22% versus 14%, and 22% versus 13%, respectively) and patient-targeted strategies showed larger reductions than those not targeted at patients (51% versus 17%). Very few studies investigated the sustainability of the effect, adverse events, cost-effectiveness, or patient-reported outcomes related to reducing the use of low-value tests. CONCLUSION: This review indicates that it is possible to reduce the use of low-value medical tests in primary care, especially by using multiple components including reminders, audit/feedback, and patient-targeted interventions. To implement these strategies widely in primary care settings, more research is needed not only to investigate their effectiveness, but also to examine adverse events, cost-effectiveness, and patient-reported outcomes.
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