Helping physicians to improve their drug prescribing practices was the central focus of this project, which sought to use data from two programs to achieve that goal: a national practice-based learning program and PharmaNet, British Columbia’s on-line pharmacy database. The project evaluated the impact of education on prescribing for four health conditions: hypertension, type II diabetes mellitus, otitis media, and congestive heart failure. Researchers developed two educational aids that were given to randomly selected family physicians whose prescribing practices were compared with those of colleagues who were receiving different materials. The study’s findings are complex and at times contradictory. The hypertension trial, for example, led to a significant increase in prescriptions for first-line drugs, but other health conditions showed no change. Less than 5 per cent of participants said they intended to improve their prescribing in all four health conditions. Nonetheless, PharmaNet proved to be a powerful tool for providing physicians with individualized prescribing feedback on certain conditions.
This project was supported by the Health Transition Fund, which was created in 1997 to provide support for evidence-based decision-making in health care reform by supporting pilot and evaluation projects which test innovative approaches to health care delivery. The views expressed herein do no necessarily represent the official policy of federal, provincial, or territorial governments.