The Impact of a Heart Failure EducationalProgram for Physicians Varies Based Upon Physician Specialty

Linda G. Park, Denis Mahar, Richard E. Shaw, Kathleen Dracup


Background: Beta blocker (BB) doses are often suboptimal in heart failure (HF) management. Differences in BB management patterns may exist between physicians in family medicine (FM) and internal medicine (IM). The aims of this study were to compare: 1) BB doses and prescription patterns; and 2) health care utilization rates in patients cared for by all primary care physicians compared to an historical control group after an educational program on HF management. A subgroup analysis was performed between patients cared for by FM and IM physicians. A secondary aim was to assess physician knowledge scores and satisfaction.

Methods: A historically controlled study was conducted among low-income, underserved HF patients (mean age 54.1 13.1, males 70%, mean ejection fraction 28.2 9.8%). Statistical methods included linear mixed models and Fishers exact tests to assess prescription patterns of BB dosing and health care utilization rates (all cause and HF related hospitalizations, emergency department use and clinic visits).

Results: Among 135 patients (experimental N = 81 and control N = 54), a linear mixed model test of group by time interaction showed no difference in BB dosage (t = -0.12, P = 0.91). FM physicians prescribed significant changes in BB doses compared to IM physicians (P = 0.04), had higher numbers of clinic visits (P = 0.03) and reported greater satisfaction with the program.

Conclusions: There was no difference in BB titration rates following an HF training intervention for physicians compared to historical controls. However, FM physicians had a greater change in prescribing practices compared to IM physicians. Educational programs targeting FM physicians may benefit HF patients and could potentially lead to greater adherence to clinical guidelines related to BB use and address gaps in providing HF care.

J Clin Med Res. 2014;6(3):173-183


Heart failure; Beta blocker; Primary care physician; Internal medicine; Family medicine; Practice variation; Education

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