Background: Many doctors unnecessarily prescribe gastroprotective strategies to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs users at low risk of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-related gastrointestinal complications.
Aim: To identify factors that predict the overuse of gastroprotective strategies in low-risk non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug users.
Methods: We distributed a questionnaire to family doctors and general internists consisting of a clinical vignette describing a low-risk hypothetical patient with osteoarthritis who was a candidate for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy. Respondents were asked whether they would prescribe this patient a gastroprotective strategy and to estimate the annual risk of that patient developing a gastrointestinal complication with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use. Respondents inappropriately recommending a gastroprotective strategy were compared with respondents who opted not to use gastroprotection.
Results: We received 340 responses (response rate of 28.3%), of which 278 supplied analysable data. Thirty-five percent of respondents inappropriately recommended a gastroprotective strategy for the low-risk subject. Inappropriate prescribers were significantly more likely to overestimate the risk of gastrointestinal complications with traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and this was strongly predictive of gastroprotective strategy recommendation in logistic regression.
Conclusions: Many doctors inappropriately recommend gastroprotective strategies in low-risk non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug users. Improving doctors' awareness of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-associated gastrointestinal risks may lead to a decrease in inappropriate utilization of gastroprotective strategies in low-risk patients.