This national project tested the feasibility of a Canada-wide drug utilization review as well as a continuing medical education (CME) component for primary care physicians concerning appropriate benzodiazepine prescribing. The inappropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines in the elderly has been well documented. All eight provinces with medical schools have adopted their own approach to the issue. Ontario and Quebec were able to identify physicians with potentially inappropriate patterns of prescribing and to tailor education efforts to these individuals on a confidential basis. Interventions in the provinces included seminars, the mailing of written material, and patient education handouts. Four provinces also used academic detailing. Two provinces used interactive small-group CME. The thrust of the initiative in all locations was non-coercive and educational. At the time of reporting, follow-up analysis had been completed only in Newfoundland and Ontario; Newfoundland showed no major change in group prescribing data, and Ontario showed a very modest decline in individual prescriptions to seniors.
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.