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Am J Med. 2005 May;118(5):521-8.

Group versus individual academic detailing to improve the use of antihypertensive medications in primary care: a cluster-randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, 133 Brookline Avenue 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



To compare group versus individual academic detailing to increase diuretic or beta-blocker use in hypertension.


We conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial in a large health maintenance organization. Subjects (N=9820) were patients with newly treated hypertension in the year preceding the intervention (N=3692), the 9 months following the intervention (N=3556), and the second year following intervention (N=2572). We randomly allocated 3 practice sites to group detailing (N=227 prescribers), 3 to individual detailing (N=235 prescribers), and 3 to usual care (N=319 prescribers). Individual detailing entailed a physician-educator meeting individually with clinicians to address barriers to prescribing guideline-recommended medications. The group detailing intervention incorporated the same social marketing principles in small groups of clinicians.


In the first year following the intervention, the rates of diuretic or beta-blocker use increased by 13.2% in the group detailing practices, 12.5% in the individual detailing practices, and 6.2% in the usual care practices. As compared with usual care practices, diuretic or beta-blocker use was more likely in group detailing practices (adjusted odds ratio (OR), 1.40; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.11 - 1.76) and individual detailing practices (adjusted OR, 1.30; 95% CI, 0.95 - 1.79). Neither intervention affected blood pressure control. Two years following this single-visit intervention, there was still a trend suggesting a persistent effect of individual (OR, 1.22; 95% CI, 0.92 - 1.62), but not group, detailing (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.80 - 1.39), as compared with usual care.


Both group and individual academic detailing improved antihypertensive prescribing over and above usual care but may require reinforcement to sustain improvements.

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