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Med Care. 1996 Aug;34(8):760-6.

Evaluation of physician intervention letters.

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University of Texas College of Pharmacy, Austin 78712-1074, USA.



The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 requires that Medicaid Agencies perform drug utilization review (DUR). The Texas Medicaid Agency, in cooperation with the Texas DUR Board, have chosen to mail intervention letters to physicians with patient profiles that indicate possible inappropriate use of medications. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of intervention letters indicating duplicative anti-ulcer medications.


Analysis of Medicaid prescription claims produced 335 patient profiles involving concurrent therapy. Physicians for 174 patients were selected randomly to receive an intervention letter, a response form, and a stamped envelope. The remaining patients served as a control group.


A 71.2% response rate was obtained. Of these responses, 48.9% agreed with the letter and 19.1% disagreed with the letter. Profiles generated 6 months after the letters were sent indicated that 47.7% of the patients in the experimental group were still on concurrent therapy compared with 64.4% of patients in the control group (P = 0.007).


The high response rate to the letter, the moderately high agreement with the letters, and the statistically significant reduction of duplicative therapy in the experimental group indicate that intervention letters can be an effective way to change prescribing. Future research is needed to assess the effects of educational intervention letters for other drug categories, for other populations, and for longer periods of time; and the effect these changes may have on true patient outcomes.

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