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Putting New Medical Guidelines Into Practice Often Difficult

But face-to-face education spurred many docs to prescribe recommended treatments, study found

FRIDAY, May 28 (HealthDay News) -- After taking part in a face-to-face program designed to review current research and guidelines, doctors made small improvements in the way they prescribed medicine for patients with high blood pressure, a new study reports.

"Ensuring that important clinical trial findings are reflected in the practices of community physicians remains a substantial challenge," the authors of the study wrote. Research indicates that many recommendations "diffuse into widespread community use only slowly and then incompletely. This failure to put scientific findings into practice not only compromises societal return on clinical trial investment but also weakens the scientific basis of clinical care."

The study, led by Dr. Randall Stafford of Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., examined what happened after 147 "investigator-educators" made presentations to groups of doctors about the state-of-the-art guidelines in regard to high blood pressure medications. Between 2004 and 2007, they reached out to 18,524 doctors.

In particular, the educators focused on a major clinical trial and two sets of national guidelines that recommend the prescription of medications called thiazide-type diuretics to reduce blood pressure.

The researchers found that doctors in counties that the investigators visited appeared to be more likely to prescribe certain blood pressure medications as recommended, with 8.7 percent prescribing the thiazide-type diuretics compared to 3.9 percent in the general population.

The study, published in the May 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, was supported by a contract from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

More information

To learn more about high blood pressure, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Medical Association, news release, May 24, 2010

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