Effectiveness of a peer-mediated educational intervention in improving general practitioner diagnostic assessment and management of dementia: a cluster randomised controlled trial

BMJ Open. 2018 Aug 17;8(8):e021125. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-021125.


Objective: Test effectiveness of an educational intervention for general practitioners (GPs) on quality of life and depression outcomes for patients.

Design: Double-blind, cluster randomised controlled trial.

Setting: General practices in Australia between 2007 and 2010.

Participants: General practices were randomly allocated to the waitlist (n=37) or intervention (n=66) group, in a ratio of 1:2. A total of 2030 (1478 intervention; 552 waitlist) community-dwelling participants aged 75 years or older were recruited via 168 GPs (113 intervention; 55 waitlist).

Interventions: A practice-based academic detailing intervention led by a peer educator that included: (1) training in use of the GP assessment of cognition dementia screening instrument; (2) training in diagnosis and management based on Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Dementia Guidelines; (3) addressing GPs' barriers to dementia diagnosis; and (4) a business case outlining a cost-effective dementia assessment approach.

Outcome measures: Primary outcome measures were patient quality of life and depression; secondary outcome measures were: (1) sensitivity and specificity of GP identification of dementia; (2) referral to medical specialists and/or support services; (3) patient satisfaction with care; and (4) carer quality of life, depression and satisfaction with care.

Results: The educational intervention had no significant effect on patient quality of life or depression scores after 12 months. There were however improvements in secondary outcome measures including sensitivity of GP judgement of dementia (p=0.002; OR 6.0, 95% CI 1.92 to 18.73), satisfaction with GP communication for all patients (p=0.024; mean difference 2.1, 95% CI 0.27 to 3.93) and for patients with dementia (p=0.007; mean difference 7.44, 95% CI 2.02 to 12.86) and enablement of carers (p=0.0185; mean difference 24.77, 95% CI 4.15 to 45.40).

Conclusion: Practice-based academic detailing did not improve patient quality of life or depression scores but did improve detection of dementia in primary care and patient satisfaction with GP communication.

Trial registration number: ACTRN12607000117415; Pre-results.

Keywords: dementia; geriatric medicine; primary care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Australia
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Clinical Audit
  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / therapy
  • Depression / therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Peer Group*
  • Quality of Life
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Sensitivity and Specificity

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12607000117415