Objective: The purpose of this project was to conduct an overview of existing systematic reviews to evaluate the effectiveness of reminders in changing professional behavior in clinical settings.
Materials and methods: Relevant systematic reviews of reminder interventions were identified through searches in MEDLINE, EMBASE, DARE and the Cochrane Library in conjunction with a larger project examining professional behavioral change interventions. Reviews were appraised using AMSTAR, a validated tool for assessing the quality of systematic reviews. As most reviews only reported vote counting, conclusions about effectiveness for each review were based on a count of positive studies. If available, we also report effect sizes. Conclusions were based on the findings from higher quality and current systematic reviews.
Results: Thirty-five reviews were eligible for inclusion in this overview. Ten reviews examined the effectiveness of reminders generally, 5 reviews focused on specific health care settings, 14 reviews concentrated on specific behaviors and 6 reviews addressed specific patient populations. The quality of the reviews was variable (median = 3, range = 1 to 8). Seven reviews had AMSTAR scores >5 and were considered in detail. Five of these seven reviews demonstrated positive effects of reminders in changing provider behavior. Few reviews used quantitative pooling methods; in one high quality and current review, the overall observed effects were moderate with an absolute median improvement in performance of 4.2% (IQR: 0.5% to 6.6%).
Discussion: The results support that modest improvements can occur with the use of reminders. The effect size is consistent with other interventions that have been used to improve professional behavior.
Conclusion: Reminders appear effective in improving different clinical behaviors across a range of settings.