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Individual variations in treatment decisions by Swedish rheumatologists regarding biological drugs for rheumatoid arthritis
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Health Care Analysis. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Health Care Analysis. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Health Care Analysis. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Health Care Analysis. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
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2015 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, ISSN 0300-9742, E-ISSN 1502-7732, Vol. 44, no 4, 265-270 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: In Sweden, reports indicate surprisingly large regional variation in prescription of biological drugs, despite a growing number of clinical studies describing their beneficial effects and guidelines by professional organizations and agencies. Our objective was to ascertain whether there is also variation between individual rheumatologists in prescribing biologics to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to evaluate reasons for treatment choices.

Methods: Ten hypothetical patient cases were constructed and presented to 26 rheumatologists in five regions in Sweden. The cases were based on actual cases and were thoroughly elaborated by a senior rheumatologist and pre-tested in a pilot study. The respondents were asked whether they would treat the patients with a biological agent (YES/NO) and to explain their decisions.

Results: The response rate was 26/105; 25%. Treatment choices varied considerably between the rheumatologists, some prescribing biologics to 9/10 patients and others to 2/10. In five of the ten hypothetical cases, approximately half of the respondents would prescribe biologics. No regions with particularly high or low prescription were identified. Both the decision to prescribe biologics, as well as not to prescribe, were mainly motivated by medical reasons. Some rheumatologists also referred to lifestyle-related factors or social function of the patient.

Conclusion: The choice of initiation of biologics varied substantially among rheumatologists presented with hypothetical patient cases, and there were also disparities between rheumatologists practising at the same clinic. Treatment choices were primarily motivated by medical reasons. This situation raises concerns about a lack of consensus in RA treatment strategies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Informa Healthcare, 2015. Vol. 44, no 4, 265-270 p.
National Category
Clinical Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-113301DOI: 10.3109/03009742.2014.997286ISI: 000359960100002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-113301DiVA: diva2:780935
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Diffusion, implementation and consequences of new health technology: The cases of biological drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and the Swedish national guidelines
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Diffusion, implementation and consequences of new health technology: The cases of biological drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and the Swedish national guidelines
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Improvements in health technology raise hopes for better patient outcomes and a more efficient delivery of health care. However, the processes of diffusion and implementation of new health technology have been shown to be complicated and to pose a number of challenges for the healthcare sector. Many at tempts have been made to influence and manage the introduction and diffusion of health technology. One prominent example is the Swedish nat ional guidelines that aim at influencing both clinical and political decision - making in the health sector.

The overall aim of this thesis is to describe and analyze the factors influencing the diffusion and economic consequences of the introduction of a new technology with large variations in use, and to explore the process of implementation of nationally produced guidelines as an instrument for improv ing effectiveness and equity. The empirical focus is kept on the biological drugs (bDMARDs) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), since they implied a substantial treatment change when they were first int roduced and they are relatively costly; and on the national guidelines for cardiac care, since they were the first nat ional guidelines, hence allowing a long-term perspect ive in the exploration of their implementat ion.

Paper I presents a register study that uses data from national and regional registries on healt hcare use and work disability of patients with RA and shows that there was a 32 percent increase in the total fixed cost of RA during 1990-2010, mainly after the introduct ion of bDMARDs. Paper II shows that choosing to initiate treatment with bDMARDs varied substantially among 26 rheumatologists presented with hypothetical patient cases, and that there were also disparities between rheumatologists practicing in the same clinic. Paper III presents data from the Swedish Rheumatology Quality Register covering 4010 patients with RA, and shows that when using multivariate logistic regression to adjust for patient characterist ics, disease activity and t he physician’s local context, physician preference was an import ant predict or for prescription of bDMARDs. Paper IV is a qualitative study about prescribing decisions, showing that a constellat ion of various factors and their interact ion influenced the prescribing decisions according to the 26 interviewed rheumatologists. The factors included the individual rheumatologist ’s experiences and perceptions of t he evidence, the structure of the department including responsibility for costs, peer pressure, political and administrative influences, and participat ion in clinical trials. The patient as an actor emerged as an important factor. Paper V is a longitudinal qualitat ive study exploring the responses among four Swedish county councils to the national guidelines for cardiac care through 155 interviews with politicians, administ rators and clinical managers. The results show that unilateral responses to the national guidelines within the county councils have been rare, but there have been at tempts to compromise and to at tain a balance between multiple constituents. There are examples of local information meetings, the use of the national guidelines in local healthcare programs, and performing audits with the national guidelines as a base. However, performing explicit prioritizat ion as advised in the NGCC is rarely found. Over t ime, however, a more systematic use of the national guidelines has been noted.

In conclusion, the diffusion of new health technology is influenced by a wide array of factors both at individual and organizational levels, as well as their interact ion. The diffusion resulted in large economic consequences and unequal access due to variations also at clinical level. Moreover, given that healthcare decision-making is influenced by many different factors, the simple influx of evidence-based guidelines will unlikely result in automat ic implementat ion. At tempts to influence healthcare decisions need to have a systems perspect ive and to account for the interact ion of factors between different actors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2015. 104 including Appendix A and B p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1431
National Category
Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-113306 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-113306 (DOI)978-91-7519-177-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-02-06, Berzeliussalen, Ingång 65, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2015-01-15 Last updated: 2016-03-02Bibliographically approved

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Kalkan, AlminaHallert, EvaCarlsson, PerRoback, KerstinSjöwall, Christopher

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