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J Eval Clin Pract. 2004 Aug;10(3):439-45.

Resource effects of training general practitioners in risk communication skills and shared decision making competences.

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University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, Wales, UK.



Involving patients more in decisions about their own care requires doctors to be trained in effective ways of communicating information and in developing competences to negotiate levels of patient involvement which are most appropriate for each case. The aim of this study was to determine the cost of such training and identify which service resource variables are subsequently affected.


An explanatory cluster randomized crossover trial was carried out which involved training general practitioners (GPs) in the use of risk communication (RC) tools, shared decision making (SDM) competences or both. Continuing care by GPs of patients with one of four chronic conditions (menopausal symptoms, menorrhagia, atrial fibrillation, prostatism) was reviewed before and after training. Cost of training was assessed by prospective monitoring of resources used. Data on prescribing, referrals and investigations were collected via questionnaires to participating practitioners. Data on follow-up GP consultations were extracted from medical records. Three two-level logistic models were performed to investigate the probability of training having an effect on prescribing, referrals and investigations ordered at the review consultation.


Training cost pound 1218 per practitioner which increased the cost of a consultation by pound 2.89. Training in SDM or combined with RC significantly affected the probability of a prescription being issued to women with menopausal symptoms and menorrhagia (although RC on its own had no effect) but did not significantly affect prescribing for patients with prostatism or atrial fibrillation. It did not significantly affect the probability of investigations, referrals or follow-up GP visits for any of the conditions.


Unless training has a major influence on consultation length, it is unlikely to have any major impacts on cost.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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