Effect of Panel Composition on Physician Ratings of Appropriateness of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Surgery

Elucidating Differences Between Multispecialty Panel Results and Specialty Society Recommendations

Published in: Health Policy, v. 42, no. 1, Oct. 1997, p. 67-81

Posted on RAND.org on October 01, 1997

by Jeph Herrin, Jeff A. Etchason, James P. Kahan, Robert H. Brook, David J. Ballard

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate how the composition of multispecialty physician panels is associated with both the summary ratings assigned by such panels and the agreement of such panels with the recommendations of specialty societies. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: We examined the final ratings assigned by a nine-member multispecialty RAND Corporation physician panel regarding indications for abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery and the recommendations of a specialty society representing vascular surgeons who perform the same surgery. STUDY DESIGN: The panel was retrospectively divided into two sub-panels, one composed of the three vascular surgeons on the panel and the other composed of the six remaining physicians. We analyzed the two sub-panels' rating patterns with respect to each other and with respect to concurrent guidelines generated by the Joint Council of the Society of Vascular Surgery and the North American Chapter of the International Society for Cardiovascular Surgery. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Of the 782 indications considered by the panel for appropriateness, the vascular surgeons had an average of mean ratings for appropriateness of 5.1, significantly higher than the 4.5 average of the other physicians. Across the 221 indications considered by the panel for necessity, the vascular surgeons had an average of mean necessity ratings of 6.8, significantly higher than the 5.8 average of the other physicians. The vascular surgeons' rankings of agreement with the guidelines of the Joint Council were significantly higher than those of the physician panelists from other specialties. CONCLUSIONS: statements of clinical appropriateness and necessity produced by summarizing ratings assigned to indications by expert panel members may disguise marked underlying disagreements among well-defined groups of practitioners within these panels. In the case of abdominal aortic aneurysm management, these disagreements within the RAND panel explain the marked discrepancy between the RAND multidisciplinary panel ratings and the recommendations issued by vascular surgeon professional societies.

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