Objectives: As part of a public health campaign promoting prudent antibiotic use to combat bacterial resistance in southeastern France, a multidisciplinary group organized peer-conducted educational outreach (academic detailing) visits to all the community-based general practitioners and pediatricians in the district. The visits, which took place in 2000 and were repeated in 2003, were intended to provide epidemiological data and professional guidelines to these doctors.
Method: A group of local experts created special academic detailing sheets based on French and international recommendations. Peers with similar experience received special training in the relevant scientific material and in communications skills and then visited the local physicians and discussed the detailing sheets.
Results: The project contacted 95% of the target doctors (1079/1174 in 2000 and 1119/1135 in 2003), 94% (1024/1079 and 1042/1119, respectively) of whom agreed to be visited. The visitors reported positive feedback in over 80% of cases. Many of the visited doctors showed keen interest that led to ongoing dialogue, including participation in a regional influenza surveillance program. A sample of the visited doctors received a questionnaire to evaluate the method in 2001: 93% of the responders endorsed the method and 92% requested for more recommendations and guidelines.
Discussion: Carefully prepared individual academic detailing visits conducted by peers succeeded in visiting nearly all the physicians in the district twice, two years apart, and provided them with useful support for implementing important guidelines in everyday practice. This method can be used to improve cooperation between healthcare providers and improve the quality of health care in France.