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Kullgren JT, Krupka E, Schachter A, Linden A, Miller J, Acharya Y, Alford J, Duffy R, Adler-Milstein J. Precommitting to choose wisely about low-value services: a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial. BMJ quality & safety. 2018 May 1; 27(5):355-364.
BACKGROUND: Little is known about how to discourage clinicians from ordering low-value services. Our objective was to test whether clinicians committing their future selves (ie, precommitting) to follow recommendations with decision supports could decrease potentially low-value orders. METHODS: We conducted a 12-month stepped wedge cluster randomised trial among 45 primary care physicians and advanced practice providers in six adult primary care clinics of a US community group practice.Clinicians were invited to precommit to recommendations against imaging for uncomplicated low back pain, imaging for uncomplicated headaches and unnecessary antibiotics for acute sinusitis. Clinicians who precommitted received 1-6 months of point-of-care precommitment reminders as well as patient education handouts and weekly emails with resources to support communication about low-value services.The primary outcome was the difference between control and intervention period percentages of visits with potentially low-value orders. Secondary outcomes were differences between control and intervention period percentages of visits with possible alternate orders, and differences between control and 3-month postintervention follow-up period percentages of visits with potentially low-value orders. RESULTS: The intervention was not associated with a change in the percentage of visits with potentially low-value orders overall, for headaches or for acute sinusitis, but was associated with a 1.7% overall increase in alternate orders (p = 0.01). For low back pain, the intervention was associated with a 1.2% decrease in the percentage of visits with potentially low-value orders (p = 0.001) and a 1.9% increase in the percentage of visits with alternate orders (p = 0.007). No changes were sustained in follow-up. CONCLUSION: Clinician precommitment to follow recommendations was associated with a small, unsustained decrease in potentially low-value orders for only one of three targeted conditions and may have increased alternate orders. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT02247050; Pre-results.