A multi-faceted strategy to improve the use of national fertility guidelines; a cluster-randomized controlled trial
until further notice
SourceHuman Reproduction, 26, 4, (2011), pp. 817-826
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
Epidemiology, Biostatistics & HTA
SubjectNCEBP 12: Human Reproduction; NCEBP 12: Human Reproduction ONCOL 5: Aetiology, screening and detection; NCEBP 3: Implementation Science; NCEBP 4: Quality of hospital and integrated care; NCEBP 4: Quality of hospital and integrated care ONCOL 4: Quality of Care; NCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health; NCEBP 2: Evaluation of complex medical interventions ONCOL 5: Aetiology, screening and detection; NCEBP 3: Implementation Science
BACKGROUND Proper use of clinical practice guidelines can decrease variation in care between settings. However, actual use of fertility guidelines is suboptimal and in need of improvement. Hence, a cluster-randomized controlled trial was designed to study the effects of two strategies to implement national Dutch guidelines on comprehensive fertility care. METHODS Sixteen fertility clinics participated in the trial. A minimal, professional-oriented implementation strategy of audit and feedback was tested versus a maximal multi-faceted strategy that was both professional and patient oriented. The extent of adherence to guideline recommendations, reflected in quality indicator scores, was the primary outcome measure. To gain an insight into unwanted side effects, patient anxiety and depression scores were gathered as secondary outcomes. Data collection encompassed medical record search, patient and professional questionnaires. RESULTS A total of 1499 couples were included at baseline and 1396 at the after-measurement. No overall significant improvement in indicator scores was found for either strategy [odds ratios ranging from 0.23 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.06-0.95) to 6.66 (95% CI: 0.33-132.8]. Secondary outcomes did not differ significantly for both groups, although selected anxiety scores appeared lower in the maximal intervention group. Process evaluation of the trial revealed positive patient experiences with the intervention material [e.g. an increased understanding of their doctor's treatment policy (61%), an increased ability to ask questions about the treatment (61%)]. Professionals' appreciation of intervention elements varied, and execution of the multi-faceted strategy appeared incomplete. DISCUSSION Absence of an intervention effect may be due to the nature of the strategies, incomplete execution or flaws in study design. Process evaluation data raise the question of whether professionals should be the only stakeholder responsible for guideline implementation. This study therefore contributes to an increased understanding of fertility guideline implementation in general, and the role of patients in particular.
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