Survey of the impact of randomised clinical trials on surgical practice in France. French Associations for Research in Surgery (AURC and ACAPEM). Association Universitaire de Recherche en Chirurgie. Association des Chirurgiens de l'Assistance Publique pour l'Evaluation Médicale

Eur J Surg. 1999 Feb;165(2):87-94. doi: 10.1080/110241599750007243.


Objective: To evaluate the impact of randomised clinical trials (RCT) on decision-making and therapeutic policies among general and gastrointestinal surgeons in France.

Design: Telephone questionnaire.

Setting: Multicentre study, France.

Subjects: A random sample of 152 surgeons, mean (SD) age 50 (8) years. INTERVENTIONS AND MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Surgeons were asked 12 questions about their knowledge of RCT and how trials were conducted; influence of RCT on their treatment policies; means of obtaining information about treatments; how they evaluated their own results; whether they were willing to take part in RCT; and personal details including age, speciality, and type of practice. Surgeons were stratified according to age and type of practice.

Results: 148 questionnaires were suitable for analysis. 83 surgeons (56%) were under 50 years old, 38 (26%) were exclusively gastrointestinal surgeons, 82 (56%) worked in private practice, and 36 (24%) worked in teaching and university hospitals. The rest undertook mixed duties. When asked to say where they obtained their knowledge about antibiotics, 91 (61%) referred to RCT; these were mainly hospital-based, gastrointestinal, and younger surgeons. Asked to name a RCT-based policy, 81 (55%) gave medical rather than operative examples. 80 (54%) had already participated in a RCT; 79 (53%) said that they were willing to participate in a RCT that included random allocation of patients (there were no statistically significant differences in answers according to speciality or type of practice, although younger surgeons answered "yes" to both questions). Specialised journals were the main source of information for 115 (78%), and surgeons read a mean of 40 issues/year. 142 (96%) read journals in French and 66 (45%) in English, but this number fell to 10 (15%) of the 65 surgeons aged 50 or more. Personal experience was considered a more important source of therapeutic knowledge by older and specialist surgeons. 109 surgeons (74%) recalled patients during the first month postoperatively to evaluate their results.

Conclusions: French surgeons, particularly those aged 50 or over, are not well informed about the nature, conduct, and value of RCT. Most of their information is acquired through reading and attending scientific meetings and congresses. Surgeons tended to attach more importance to the fame of the author than to the conduct of the study. The overall impact of RCT was weak among the surgeons questioned.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • France
  • General Surgery*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*