Rationale and objectives: It is difficult to keep control over prescribing behaviour in general practice. The purpose of this study was to assess the initial effects of a behaviour independent financial incentive on the volume of drug prescribing of general practitioners (GPs).
Design: 2-Year Controlled Before After study with an intervention region and a concurrent control region.
Setting and participants: GPs in two regions in the Netherlands (n = 119 and n = 118).
Intervention: A financial incentive for prescribing according to local guidelines on specific drugs or drug categories. The financial incentive consisted of a non-recurrent, behaviour-independent allowance.
Main outcome measure: Change in the number of prescriptions for 10 targeted drugs or drug groups.
Results: Significant changes were seen only in three types of antibiotics and in recommended gastric medicines. In almost all cases, effects were temporary.
Conclusion: Behaviour independent financial incentives can be a help in changing prescription behaviour of GPs, but effects are small-scale and temporary.