Background: Although numerous therapies have been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of myocardial infarction and/or death in patients with coronary disease, these therapies are under-used and this gap contributes to sub-optimal patient outcomes. To increase the uptake of proven efficacious therapies in patients with coronary disease, we designed a multifaceted quality improvement intervention employing patient-specific reminders delivered at the point-of-care, with one-page treatment guidelines endorsed by local opinion leaders ("Local Opinion Leader Statement"). This trial is designed to evaluate the impact of these Local Opinion Leader Statements on the practices of primary care physicians caring for patients with coronary disease. In order to isolate the effects of the messenger (the local opinion leader) from the message, we will also test an identical quality improvement intervention that is not signed by a local opinion leader ("Unsigned Evidence Statement") in this trial.
Methods: Randomized trial testing three different interventions in patients with coronary disease: (1) usual care versus (2) Local Opinion Leader Statement versus (3) Unsigned Evidence Statement. Patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease after cardiac catheterization (but without acute coronary syndromes) will be randomly allocated to one of the three interventions by cluster randomization (at the level of their primary care physician), if they are not on optimal statin therapy at baseline. The primary outcome is the proportion of patients demonstrating improvement in their statin management in the first six months post-catheterization. Secondary outcomes include examinations of the use of ACE inhibitors, anti-platelet agents, beta-blockers, non-statin lipid lowering drugs, and provision of smoking cessation advice in the first six months post-catheterization in the three treatment arms. Although randomization will be clustered at the level of the primary care physician, the design effect is anticipated to be negligible and the unit of analysis will be the patient.
Discussion: If either the Local Opinion Leader Statement or the Unsigned Evidence Statement improves secondary prevention in patients with coronary disease, they can be easily modified and applied in other communities and for other target conditions.