A qualitative study of increasing beta-blocker use after myocardial infarction: Why do some hospitals succeed?

JAMA. 2001 May;285(20):2604-11. doi: 10.1001/jama.285.20.2604.


Context: Based on evidence that beta-blockers can reduce mortality in patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), many hospitals have initiated performance improvement efforts to increase prescription of beta-blockers at discharge. Determination of the factors associated with such improvements may provide guidance to hospitals that have been less successful in increasing beta-blocker use.

Objectives: To identify factors that may influence the success of improvement efforts to increase beta-blocker use after AMI and to develop a taxonomy for classifying such efforts.

Design, setting, and participants: Qualitative study in which data were gathered from in-depth interviews conducted in March-June 2000 with 45 key physician, nursing, quality management, and administrative participants at 8 US hospitals chosen to represent a range of hospital sizes, geographic regions, and changes in beta-blocker use rates between October 1996 and September 1999.

Main outcome measures: Initiatives, strategies, and approaches to improve care for patients with AMI.

Results: The interviews revealed 6 broad factors that characterized hospital-based improvement efforts: goals of the efforts, administrative support, support among clinicians, design and implementation of improvement initiatives, use of data, and modifying variables. Hospitals with greater improvements in beta-blocker use over time demonstrated 4 characteristics not found in hospitals with less or no improvement: shared goals for improvement, substantial administrative support, strong physician leadership advocating beta-blocker use, and use of credible data feedback.

Conclusions: This study provides a context for understanding efforts to improve care in the hospital setting by describing a taxonomy for classifying and evaluating such efforts. In addition, the study suggests possible elements of successful efforts to increase beta-blocker use for patients with AMI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiology Service, Hospital / standards*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy*
  • Myocardial Infarction / prevention & control
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care*
  • Total Quality Management
  • United States


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists