Background: Adequate care for patients with cardiovascular risks requires an adequate practice organization. Educational outreach visits are a promising approach to modifying professional behavior. We aimed to assess whether the quality of cardiovascular preventive care in general practice can be improved through a comprehensive intervention implemented by an educational outreach visitor.
Methods: After baseline measurements, general practices (n = 124) in the southern half of The Netherlands were randomly allocated to either intervention or control group. The intervention, based on the educational outreach model, comprised 15 practice visits over a period of 21 months and addressed a large number of issues around task delegation, availability of instruments and patient leaflets, record-keeping, and follow-up routines. Twenty-one months after the start of the intervention, postintervention measurements were performed. The difference between ideal and actual practice in each aspect of organizing preventive care was defined as a deficiency score. Primary outcome measure was the difference in deficiency scores before and after the intervention.
Results: All practices completed both baseline and postintervention measurements. The difference in change between intervention and control group adjusted for baseline was statistically significant (P < 0.001) for each aspect of organizing preventive care. The largest absolute improvement was found for the number of preventive tasks performed by the practice assistant.
Conclusions: This study showed that a comprehensive intervention implemented by outreach visitors was effective in improving organization of cardiovascular preventive care in general practice.