Does 'peer coaching' increase GP capacity to promote informed decision making about PSA screening? A cluster randomised trial

Melina Gattellari, Neil Donnelly, Nicholas Taylor, Matthew Meerkin, Geoffrey Hirst, Jeanette E Ward
Family Practice 2005, 22 (3): 253-65

BACKGROUND: Very little effort has been directed to enable GPs to better informed decisions about PSA screening among their male patients.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate an innovative programme designed to enhance GPs' capacity to promote informed decision making by male patients about PSA screening.

METHODS: The study design was a cluster randomised controlled trial set in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state. 277 GPs were recruited through a major pathology laboratory. The interventions were three telephone-administered 'peer coaching' sessions integrated with educational resources for GPs and patients and the main outcome measures were: GP knowledge; perceptions of patient involvement in informed decision making; GPs' own decisional conflict; and perceptions of medicolegal risk.

RESULTS: Compared with GPs allocated to the control group, GPs allocated to our intervention gained significantly greater knowledge about PSA screening and related information [Mean 6.1 out of 7; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 5.9-6.3 versus 4.8; 95% CI = 4.6-5.0; P < 0.001]. They were less likely to agree that patients should remain passive when making decisions about PSA screening [Odds ratio (OR) = 0.11; 95% CI = 0.04-0.31; P < 0.001]. They perceived less medicolegal risk when not acceding to an 'uninformed' patient request for a PSA test (OR = 0.31; 95% CI 0.19-0.51). They also demonstrated lower levels of personal decisional conflict about the PSA screening (Mean 25.4; 95% CI 24.5-26.3 versus 27.8; 95% CI 26.6-29.0; P = 0.0002).

CONCLUSION: A 'peer coaching' programme, supplemented by education materials, holds promise as a strategy to equip GPs to facilitate informed decision making amongst their patients.

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