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J R Coll Gen Pract. 1989 May;39(322):182-6.

Randomized controlled trial of small group education on the outcome of chronic asthma in general practice.


The effectiveness of small group education of general practitioners in the management of asthma was evaluated by randomized controlled trial. The outcome measure was the asthma morbidity of the general practitioners' own patients. Following random selection from the list of one family practitioner committee in suburban London, the 27 participating general practitioners were allocated randomly to one of two educational groups or to a control group. The educational intervention comprised eight meetings at which the management of chronic asthma was discussed and attempts made to devise agreed strategies for care. The two educational groups devised different strategies. Asthma morbidity was assessed by postal questionnaires to patients before the intervention and on five further occasions at six-monthly intervals over two and a half years. Of 454 patients who entered the study 338 completed the sixth and final assessment. The degree of morbidity experienced by the patients and their reported use of asthma specific drugs was considerable and was notably constant over the period of study. There was no difference in morbidity between the three groups at the outset and no effect of the intervention could be demonstrated. In this educational intervention the participating general practitioners were not informed about the morbidity and drug use reported by their patients. This information may be crucial if small groups are to be used to design and implement effective strategies for care. It would appear that small group education of general practitioners in the form reported here is not effective in reducing morbidity from chronic asthma.

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