Laboratory services play an important role in screening, diagnosing and managing patients within primary care. Use of laboratory tests is increasing and evidence suggests that overuse is a feature of this increase. Our aim was to assess the effect of enhanced feedback of requesting rates and brief educational reminder messages on the number of laboratory tests requested by primary care physicians.

The study was a cluster randomised controlled trial using a 2x2 factorial design involving 85 primary care practices, (370 general practitioners) who request all laboratory tests from one regional centre. The interventions were: quarterly feedback of practice requesting rates for nine laboratory tests, enhanced with educational messages (enhanced feedback); brief educational reminder messages added to the test result reports for nine laboratory tests. The main outcome was the number of targeted tests requested during the intervention months.

Enhanced feedback of requesting rates and brief educational reminder messages, alone and in combination are effective strategies for reducing test requesting in primary care. Both strategies are feasible within most laboratory settings.





Thomas,R. E.; Croal,B. L.; Ramsay,C. R.; Eccles,M. P.; Grimshaw,J. M. Effect of enhanced feedback and brief educational reminder messages on laboratory test requesting in primary care: a cluster randomised trial, 2006, Lancet, 367, 9527, pp1990 - 1996, ISSN/ISBN: 0140-6736