Background: The percentage of patients receiving long-term treatment with acid suppressive drugs, mainly proton pump inhibitors, is higher than the prevalence of diseases that are commonly accepted as the proper indication for long-term proton pump inhibitor use.
Aim: To evaluate whether a patient-directed intervention (direct mail) reduced the prescription of antisecretory medication for dyspepsia in general practice.
Methods: A cluster-randomized trial was performed. One hundred and thirteen chronic users of proton pump inhibitors were recruited by 20 general practitioners. An unsolicited information leaflet was sent to patients that suggested stopping or reducing the use of proton pump inhibitors. The number of patients who stopped or reduced proton pump inhibitor use was measured at 12 and 20 weeks after the intervention. Secondary outcome measures were dyspepsia symptom severity and perceived quality of life measured at 12 weeks after the intervention.
Results: Fourteen of the 59 (24%) intervention group patients stopped or reduced their use of proton pump inhibitors, compared with three of the 45 (7%) control group patients (relative risk ratio 3.56; CI 95%: 1.088-11.642). Dyspepsia symptom severity and quality of life did not change.
Conclusions: A simple patient-directed intervention reduced the volume of long-term prescriptions of proton pump inhibitors in patients with dyspepsia.