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      Behavior change interventions and policies influencing primary healthcare professionals’ practice—an overview of reviews

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          There is a plethora of interventions and policies aimed at changing practice habits of primary healthcare professionals, but it is unclear which are the most appropriate, sustainable, and effective. We aimed to evaluate the evidence on behavior change interventions and policies directed at healthcare professionals working in primary healthcare centers.


          Study design: overview of reviews.

          Data source: MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase (Ovid), The Cochrane Library (Wiley), CINAHL (EbscoHost), and grey literature (January 2005 to July 2015).

          Study selection: two reviewers independently, and in duplicate, identified systematic reviews, overviews of reviews, scoping reviews, rapid reviews, and relevant health technology reports published in full-text in the English language.

          Data extraction and synthesis: two reviewers extracted data pertaining to the types of reviews, study designs, number of studies, demographics of the professionals enrolled, interventions, outcomes, and authors’ conclusions for the included studies. We evaluated the methodological quality of the included studies using the AMSTAR scale. For the comparative evaluation, we classified interventions according to the behavior change wheel (Michie et al.).


          Of 2771 citations retrieved, we included 138 reviews representing 3502 individual studies. The majority of systematic reviews (91%) investigated behavior and practice changes among family physicians. Interactive and multifaceted continuous medical education programs, training with audit and feedback, and clinical decision support systems were found to be beneficial in improving knowledge, optimizing screening rate and prescriptions, enhancing patient outcomes, and reducing adverse events. Collaborative team-based policies involving primarily family physicians, nurses, and pharmacists were found to be most effective. Available evidence on environmental restructuring and modeling was found to be effective in improving collaboration and adherence to treatment guidelines. Limited evidence on nurse-led care approaches were found to be as effective as general practitioners in patient satisfaction in settings like asthma, cardiovascular, and diabetes clinics, although this needs further evaluation. Evidence does not support the use of financial incentives to family physicians, especially for long-term behavior change.


          Behavior change interventions including education, training, and enablement in the context of collaborative team-based approaches are effective to change practice of primary healthcare professionals. Environmental restructuring approaches including nurse-led care and modeling need further evaluation. Financial incentives to family physicians do not influence long-term practice change.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-016-0538-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 141

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          Changing provider behavior: an overview of systematic reviews of interventions.

          Increasing recognition of the failure to translate research findings into practice has led to greater awareness of the importance of using active dissemination and implementation strategies. Although there is a growing body of research evidence about the effectiveness of different strategies, this is not easily accessible to policy makers and professionals. To identify, appraise, and synthesize systematic reviews of professional educational or quality assurance interventions to improve quality of care. An overview was made of systematic reviews of professional behavior change interventions published between 1966 and 1998. Forty-one reviews were identified covering a wide range of interventions and behaviors. In general, passive approaches are generally ineffective and unlikely to result in behavior change. Most other interventions are effective under some circumstances; none are effective under all circumstances. Promising approaches include educational outreach (for prescribing) and reminders. Multifaceted interventions targeting different barriers to change are more likely to be effective than single interventions. Although the current evidence base is incomplete, it provides valuable insights into the likely effectiveness of different interventions. Future quality improvement or educational activities should be informed by the findings of systematic reviews of professional behavior change interventions.
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            Effects of quality improvement strategies for type 2 diabetes on glycemic control: a meta-regression analysis.

            There have been numerous reports of interventions designed to improve the care of patients with diabetes, but the effectiveness of such interventions is unclear. To assess the impact on glycemic control of 11 distinct strategies for quality improvement (QI) in adults with type 2 diabetes. MEDLINE (1966-April 2006) and the Cochrane Collaboration's Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group database, which covers multiple bibliographic databases. Eligible studies included randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trials and controlled before-after studies that evaluated a QI intervention targeting some aspect of clinician behavior or organizational change and reported changes in glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) values. Postintervention difference in HbA1c values were estimated using a meta-regression model that included baseline glycemic control and other key intervention and study features as predictors. Fifty randomized controlled trials, 3 quasi-randomized trials, and 13 controlled before-after trials met all inclusion criteria. Across these 66 trials, interventions reduced HbA(1c) values by a mean of 0.42% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.29%-0.54%) over a median of 13 months of follow-up. Trials with fewer patients than the median for all included trials reported significantly greater effects than did larger trials (0.61% vs 0.27%, P = .004), strongly suggesting publication bias. Trials with mean baseline HbA1c values of 8.0% or greater also reported significantly larger effects (0.54% vs 0.20%, P = .005). Adjusting for these effects, 2 of the 11 categories of QI strategies were associated with reductions in HbA(1c) values of at least 0.50%: team changes (0.67%; 95% CI, 0.43%-0.91%; n = 26 trials) and case management (0.52%; 95% CI, 0.31%-0.73%; n = 26 trials); these also represented the only 2 strategies conferring significant incremental reductions in HbA1c values. Interventions involving team changes reduced values by 0.33% more (95% CI, 0.12%-0.54%; P = .004) than those without this strategy, and those involving case management reduced values by 0.22% more (95% CI, 0.00%-0.44%; P = .04) than those without case management. Interventions in which nurse or pharmacist case managers could make medication adjustments without awaiting physician authorization reduced values by 0.80% (95% CI, 0.51%-1.10%), vs only 0.32% (95% CI, 0.14%-0.49%) for all other interventions (P = .002). Most QI strategies produced small to modest improvements in glycemic control. Team changes and case management showed more robust improvements, especially for interventions in which case managers could adjust medications without awaiting physician approval. Estimates of the effectiveness of other specific QI strategies may have been limited by difficulty in classifying complex interventions, insufficient numbers of studies, and publication bias.
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              Interventions that can reduce inappropriate prescribing in the elderly: a systematic review.

              Inappropriate prescribing of medicines may lead to a significant risk of an adverse drug-related event. In particular, prescribing may be regarded as inappropriate when alternative therapy that is either more effective or associated with a lower risk exists to treat the same condition. This review aims to identify interventions and strategies that can significantly reduce inappropriate prescribing in the elderly. The review is based on a search of electronic databases using synonyms of keywords such as 'elderly', 'interventions', 'optimized prescribing' and 'inappropriate prescribing' to identify reported interventions intended to improve inappropriate prescribing in the elderly. A total of 711 articles published in English were retrieved and considered. Of these, 24 original studies, involving 56 to 124,802 participants, met the inclusion criteria and were included in the systematic review. In 16 studies, the statistical power used to assess the impact of the intervention was >90% at a significance level of alpha=0.05. Various interventions were included in this study, such as educational interventions, medication reviews, geriatricians' services, multidisciplinary teams, computerized support systems, regulatory policies and multi-faceted approaches. Because of variability in assessment methodologies, mixed responses were found for education interventions aimed at improving inappropriate prescribing. For example, some studies did not assess what data were required to define whether a given level of intervention would be adequate, and others did not consider how many participants would be needed to demonstrate that a significant difference existed. Each of the three computerized support system interventions reported produced a significant enhancement in both prescribing and dispensing practices. Pharmacist interventions in community and hospital settings were evaluated in seven studies. However, variable criteria were used, with two studies using the Medication Appropriateness Index, another two studies using self-designed criteria for inappropriate prescribing, and the remaining three studies using Beers' criteria. A difficulty in assessing studies involving nursing home residents is that both consultant pharmacists and onsite pharmacist services may be involved, and, in one of the studies, only the role of the consultant pharmacist was considered. One of the most effective interventions appeared to be multidisciplinary case conferences involving a geriatrician, which resulted in a number of examples of reduced inappropriate prescribing in both community and hospital settings. As the effect of regulatory policies as an intervention is dependent on the target population involved, the effectiveness of this type of intervention was variable. Different strategies may be useful in reducing inappropriate prescribing in the elderly. It is not clear whether combined strategies undertaken simultaneously have a synergistic effect.

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                +1 204-594-5360 ,
                Implement Sci
                Implement Sci
                Implementation Science : IS
                BioMed Central (London )
                5 January 2017
                5 January 2017
                : 12
                [1 ]College of Pharmacy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
                [2 ]Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
                [3 ]George & Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation, Winnipeg, MB Canada
                [4 ]Information Specialist Consultant, Ottawa, Canada
                [5 ]Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
                [6 ]Department of Haematology and Medical Oncology, CancerCare Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
                [7 ]Department of Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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