Background and aims: Clinical inertia is considered a major barrier to better care. We assessed its prevalence, predictors and associations with the intermediate outcomes of diabetes care.
Materials and methods: Baseline and follow-up data of a Dutch randomized controlled trial on the implementation of a locally adapted guideline were used. The study involved 30 general practices and 1283 patients. Treatment targets differed between study groups [HbA1c <or= 8.0% and blood pressure (BP) < 140/85% versus HbA1c <or= 8.5% and BP < 150/85]. Clinical inertia was defined as the failure to intensify therapy when indicated. A complete medication profile of all participating patients was obtained.
Results: In the intervention and control group, the percentages of patients with poor diabetes or lipid control who did not receive treatment intensification were 45% and 90%, approximately. More control group patients with BP levels above target were confronted with inertia (72.7% versus 63.3%, P < 0.05). In poorly controlled hypertensive patients, inertia was associated with the height of systolic BP at baseline [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.98, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98-0.99] and the frequency of BP control (adjusted OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.81-0.99). If a practice nurse managed these patients, clinical inertia was less common (adjusted OR 0.12, 95% CI 0.02-0.91). In both study groups, cholesterol decreased significantly more in patients who received proper treatment intensification.
Conclusion: GPs were more inclined to control blood glucose levels than BP or cholesterol levels. Inertia in response to poorly controlled high BP was less common if nurses assisted GPs.