Safer Prescribing: A Trial of Education, Informatics, and Financial Incentives

Tobias Dreischulte, Peter Donnan, Aileen Grant, Adrian Hapca, Colin McCowan, Bruce Guthrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND High-risk prescribing and preventable drug-related complications are common in primary care. We evaluated whether the rates of high-risk prescribing by primary care clinicians and the related clinical outcomes would be reduced by a complex intervention. METHODS In this cluster-randomized, stepped-wedge trial conducted in Tayside, Scotland, we randomly assigned participating primary care practices to various start dates for a 48-week intervention comprising professional education, informatics to facilitate review, and financial incentives for practices to review patients' charts to assess appropriateness. The primary outcome was patient-level exposure to any of nine measures of high-risk prescribing of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or selected antiplatelet agents (e.g., NSAID prescription in a patient with chronic kidney disease or coprescription of an NSAID and an oral anticoagulant without gastroprotection). Prespecified secondary outcomes included the incidence of related hospital admissions. Analyses were performed according to the intention-to-treat principle, with the use of mixed-effect models to account for clustering in the data. RESULTS A total of 34 practices underwent randomization, 33 of which completed the study. Data were analyzed for 33,334 patients at risk at one or more points in the preintervention period and for 33,060 at risk at one or more points in the intervention period. Targeted high-risk prescribing was significantly reduced, from a rate of 3.7% (1102 of 29,537 patients at risk) immediately before the intervention to 2.2% (674 of 30,187) at the end of the intervention (adjusted odds ratio, 0.63; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.57 to 0.68; P

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1064
Number of pages12
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2016


  • Acute Kidney Injury
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Education, Pharmacy
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage
  • Heart Failure
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Inappropriate Prescribing
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Medical Informatics
  • Physicians, Primary Care
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Scotland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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