Rheumatologists' guideline adherence in rheumatoid arthritis: a randomised controlled study on electronic decision support, education and feedback

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2018 Jan-Feb;36(1):21-28. Epub 2017 Jun 5.


Objectives: To assess the effects of education, feedback and a computerised decision support system (CDSS) versus education and feedback alone on rheumatologists' rheumatoid arthritis (RA) guideline adherence.

Methods: A single-centre, randomised controlled pilot study was performed among clinicians (rheumatologists, residents and physician assistants; n=20) working at the study centre, with a 1:1 randomisation of included clinicians. A standardized sum score (SSS) on guideline adherence was used as the primary outcome (patient level). The SSS was calculated from 13 dichotomous indicators on quality of RA monitoring, treatment and follow-up. The randomised controlled design was combined with a before-after design in the control group to assess the effect education and feedback alone.

Results: Twenty clinicians (mean age 44.3±10.9 years; 55% female) and 990 patients (mean age 62 ± 13 years; 69% female; 72% rheumatoid factor and/or anti-CCP positive) were included. Addition of CDSS to education and feedback did not result in significant better quality of RA care than education and feedback alone (SSS difference 0.02; 95%-CI -0.04 to 0.08; p=0.60). However, before/after comparison showed that education and feedback alone resulted in a significant increase in the SSS from 0.58 to 0.64 (difference 0.06; 95%-CI 0.02 to 0.11; p<0.01).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that CDSS did not have added value with regard to guideline adherence, whereas education and feedback can lead to a small but significant improvement of guideline adherence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical / standards*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards*
  • Female
  • Formative Feedback*
  • Guideline Adherence / standards*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / standards*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Pilot Projects
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • Quality Improvement / standards
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care / standards
  • Rheumatologists / education
  • Rheumatologists / standards*
  • Rheumatology / education
  • Rheumatology / standards*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome