Objective: To evaluate a multifaceted intervention involving intensive academic detailing for general practitioners (GPs) to improve recruitment of women for cervical screening.
Methods: We conducted a cluster randomisation trial involving 39 general practices in inner-metropolitan Sydney. GPs' knowledge, propensity to an opportunistic approach, competence and confidence were assessed by self-report before and after the intervention. To measure GP behaviour, recall of an opportunistic discussion about cervical screening was determined in cross-sectional samples of female patients at baseline (n = 1,090) and post-test (n = 1,062).
Results: Knowledge improved marginally in both groups but there were no changes in other GP self-reported measures. At post-test, women attending GPs in the intervention group were no more likely than those in the control group to recall an opportunistic inquiry about their cervical screening status (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.40-1.08). Women in the intervention group who were overdue for cervical screening were no more likely than their control group counterparts at post-test to recall advice about cervical screening (OR 2.16, 95% CI 0.75-6.14) or written information (OR 0.34, 95% CI 0.04-26.5).
Conclusions: Intensive academic detailing does not improve an opportunistic approach to cervical screening in general practice.
Implications for public health practice: In an evidence-based climate, implementation of academic detailing as a strategy to improve cervical screening rates in general practice would be premature.