Background: Many patients unnecessarily receive proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) drugs long term with significant financial and safety implications. Educating, empowering and supporting patients to self-manage their symptoms can lead to significant and sustained reductions in PPI prescribing. We aimed to implement a programme to reduce inappropriate PPI prescribing.
Method: Eligible patients in one general medical practice in rural Scotland were invited for participation between November 2008 and February 2010. Patients attended special nurse advisor clinics, completed dyspepsia questionnaires, received information, formulated self-management plans and were offered flexible support.
Results: Of the study population, 437/2883 (15%) were prescribed PPIs. Of these, 166 (38%) were judged eligible for participation. After 12 months, 138/157 (83%) had reduced or stopped their PPIs, while 19/157 (11%) had reverted. The estimated annual net saving in the prescribing budget was ?3180.67. Self-reported understanding of symptom self-management increased from 6/20 (30%) to 18/20 (90%) patients after participation in the programme.
Conclusion: A patient-centred programme delivered by a specialist nurse significantly reduced PPI prescribing with financial and potential therapeutic benefits. The vast majority of eligible patients were able to 'step down and off' or 'step off' PPI use after 12 months without any complications or deteriorating symptom control. Further research with larger cohorts of practices and patients is needed to develop a feasible, acceptable and effective programme if similar benefits are to be achieved for primary care in general.