Teaching Systems-Based Practice to Primary Care Physicians to Foster Routine Implementation of Evidence-Based Depression Care

Published in: Academic Medicine, v. 82, no. 2, Feb. 2007, p. 168-175

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2006

by Scott E. Sherman, John Fotiades, Lisa V. Rubenstein, Stuart C. Gilman, Susan Vivell, Edmund Chaney, Elizabeth Yano, Bradford Felker

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Although health care organizations seeking to improve quality often must change the system for delivering care, there is little available evidence on how to educate staff and providers about this change. As part of a 2002-2003 Veterans Health Administration multisite project using collaborative care to improve the management of depression, the authors implemented the Translating Initiatives for Depression into Effective Solutions (TIDES) program. Five steps were followed for teaching systems-based practice: (1) determine providers' educational needs (through administrative data, expert opinion, and provider discussion), (2) develop educational materials (based on needs assessed), (3) help each of seven sites develop an educational intervention, (4) implement the intervention, and (5) monitor the intervention's effectiveness. Sites relied primarily on passive educational strategies. There was variable implementation of the different components (e.g., lecture, educational outreach). No site chose to write up its education plan, as was suggested. The authors thus suggest that the educational model was successful at identifying providers' needs and creating appropriate materials, because the program was not advertised in other ways and because almost all providers referred patients to the program. However, the educational model was only partially successful at getting sites to develop and implement an educational plan, although provider behavior did change. Overall, the program was somewhat effective at teaching systems-based practice. The authors believe the best way to enhance effectiveness is to build education into the system rather than rely on a separate system for education.

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