Objectives: Although ablation therapy may be useful in the treatment of Barrett's esophagus. evidence of effectiveness is scarce, and little is known about current utilization of ablation. We aimed to determine whether the use of ablation was increasing in a cohort of gastroenterologists, and to identify physician beliefs and characteristics associated with ablation use.
Methods: We surveyed a national sample of gastroenterologists about ablation use, with an 18-month follow-up. The self-administered instrument included questions about demographic characteristics, attitudes about ablation therapy, and prior experience with ablation. Case scenarios were also included. We used logistic regression to identify factors associated with the use of ablation in patients with Barrett's esophagus.
Results: Two hundred seventy-nine (50.3% of those eligible) responded to the baseline survey. Few agreed that ablation lowers the risk of adenocarcinoma (15%) or is supported by the medical literature (19%). However, 25% of respondents reportedly had used ablation at baseline, and this increased to 36% in the follow-up survey (p = 0.0003). The use of ablation was significantly associated with physician age greater than 54 yr (odds ratio [OR] = 2.77, 95% CI = 1.04-7.37) and the belief that ablation was used by colleagues (OR = 13.27, 95% CI = 4.44-39.64) or decreases medical costs (OR = 5.07, 95% CI = 1.00-25.74).
Conclusions: Although few gastroenterologists agreed that ablation is effective, a significant proportion had adopted its use. There was a significant increase in ablation use during our study period, and the characteristic that was most strongly associated with ablation use was the belief that colleagues used it.