Objective: To examine the impact of audit and feedback on antipsychotic prescribing for schizophrenia outpatients over 4.5 years.
Methods: Clinical files in three mental health services caring for outpatients in Auckland, New Zealand were reviewed at two time-points (March 2000, October 2004). After the first audit, feedback was provided to all three services. Baseline prescribing variations between services were found for antipsychotic combinations and second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) prescribing, in particular clozapine. In two services audit and feedback continued with two interim reviews (October 2001, March 2003). Specific feedback and interventions targeting clozapine use were introduced in both services. No further audit or feedback occurred in the third service until the final audit. Data were collected (patient characteristics, diagnosis, antipsychotic treatment) and analysed at each audit.
Results: Three prescribing variables (antipsychotic monotherapy, SGA and clozapine use) were consistent with practice recommendations at the final audit (85.7%, 82.7% and 34.5% respectively) and had changed in the desired direction for all three services over the 4.5 years. At baseline there were differences between the three services. One service had baseline prescribing variables closest to recommendations, was actively involved in audit, and improved further. The second service, also actively involved in audit had baseline prescribing variables further from recommendations but improved the most. The service not involved in continuing audit and feedback made smaller changes, and SGA and clozapine use at endpoint were significantly lower despite at baseline being comparable to the service which improved the most.
Conclusions: This study found audit and feedback to be an effective intervention in closing the gap between recommended and routine clinical practice for antipsychotic prescribing in schizophrenia.