How to Change Docs? Send Them a Letter. The New JAMA Psychiatry Paper on Prescribing

Sep 20, 2018
Author: 
David Gratzer

"How do we get doctors to practice better medicine?

Here’s a simple idea: what if we send them a sternly written letter? In this week’s Reading, we consider a paper by Columbia University’s Adam Sacarny and his co-authors who did just that. Targeting primary care physicians who were heavily prescribing quetiapine (or Seroquel), they looked at the effects of letters written by government officials, comparing prescribing habits of these physicians with their peers. The result? In the new JAMA Psychiatry paper, they find that prescriptions of quetiapine dropped markedly.

A little nudge, better care?

The core of the idea is that a nudge – that is, the behavioural economic idea of a positive reinforcement and/or an indirect suggestion – can change outcomes. In this Reading, we consider doctors and nudges (and behavioural economics). We also look at a recent study on opioid prescribing, also involving letters."

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