PURPOSE: Patients' lack of adherence to medical regimens frustrates many practicing physicians. This study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of a combined continuing medical education intervention in increasing physicians' adherence-enhancing skills and improving hypercholesterolemic patients' health. METHOD: A prospective, randomized, controlled trial was designed using a nested cohort of 28 community physicians throughout Alabama and 222 of their hypercholesterolemic outpatients. The intervention, carried out in 1998, consisted of three interactive case audio-conferences plus chart reminders. Physicians' learning was measured by unannounced standardized patients, and patients' health by serum cholesterol levels, weight, knowledge of hypercholesterolemia, self-reported dietary habits, and health status. RESULTS: No significant difference was found in the numbers of physician adherence-enhancing strategies, although the number did increase within the treatment group. There were significant differences in the intervention group's patients' knowledge of cholesterol management (p = .008) and significant reductions in their self-reported consumption of dietary fats (p = .002). A significant difference was found in the serum cholesterol level of men in the intervention group nine months after the intervention (p = .02). CONCLUSION: Combining a series of interactive case audio-conferences with chart reminders shows promise in increasing physicians' adherence-enhancing strategies. In chronic disease management, the problem of enhancing adherence remains complex.
Created Date: 14 January 2000; Completed Date: 14 January 2000; Revised Date: 18 December 2000
© 1999 Association of American Medical Colleges