Randomised clinical trial: a 'nudge' strategy to modify endoscopic sedation practice

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2011 Jul;34(2):229-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04703.x. Epub 2011 May 17.


Background: In behavioural economics, a 'nudge' describes configuration of a choice to encourage a certain action without taking away freedom of choice.

Aim: To determine the impact of a 'nudge' strategy - prefilling either 3mL or 5mL syringes with midazolam - on endoscopic sedation practice.

Methods: Consecutive patients undergoing sedation for EGD or colonoscopy were enrolled. On alternate weeks, midazolam was prefilled in either 3mL or 5mL syringes. Preprocedure sedation was administered by the endoscopist to achieve moderate conscious sedation; dosages were at the discretion of the endoscopist. Meperidine was not prefilled.

Results: Overall, 120 patients received sedation for EGD [59 (5mL), 61 (3mL)] and 86 patients were sedated for colonoscopy [38 (5mL), 48 (3mL)]. For EGDs, average midazolam dose was significantly higher in the 5-mL group (5.2mg) vs. 3-mL group (3.3mg), (P<0.0001); for colonoscopies, average midazolam dose was also significantly higher in the 5-mL group (5.1mg) vs. 3-mL group (3.3mg), (P<0.0001). There was no significant difference in mean meperidine dose (42.1mg vs. 42.8mg, P=0.9) administered to both colonoscopy groups. No adverse sedation-related events occurred; no patient required reversal of sedation.

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that 'nudge' strategies may hold promise in modifying endoscopic sedation practice. Further research is required to explore the utility of 'nudges' in impacting other aspects of endoscopic practice.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care
  • Colonoscopy
  • Conscious Sedation / methods*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage*
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Midazolam / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients / psychology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Midazolam