Physician Education Ups Communication for New Meds

Patients rate the new medication information transfer higher for docs in intervention group

THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- A physician-targeted education session improves physician communication about newly-prescribed medications, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Derjung M. Tarn, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues conducted a controlled clinical trial involving 256 patients in three primary care practices to assess an intervention designed to improve physician-patient communication about newly prescribed medications. The intervention involved a one-hour physician-targeted interactive education session encouraging communication about five aspects regarding a new prescription, as well as a handout for patients listing these five elements.

The researchers found that 113 new medications were prescribed to 82 patients by 27 physicians. For medications prescribed by physicians in the intervention group, the mean Medication Communication Index (MCI) was 3.95, which was significantly higher than for physicians in the control group (2.86). This association was independent of medication type. In the intervention group, counseling about three of the five components of the MCI was significantly higher, as were patient ratings of the transfer of information pertaining to new medications. Higher MCI scores correlated significantly with improved patient ratings about information relating to new prescriptions, independent of intervention or control group.

"This study shows that a brief, practical intervention can improve physician communication about a newly prescribed medication in ways that affect patients," the authors write. "The intervention should be tested for its clinical impact."

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