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Open Access Research article

Reasons of general practitioners for not prescribing lipid-lowering medication to patients with diabetes: a qualitative study

Elisabeth AB1, Petra Denig23*, Ton van Vliet14 and Janny H Dekker134

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Practice, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

2 Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

3 Share Graduate School for Health Research, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

4 Academic General Practice, Groningen, The Netherlands

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BMC Family Practice 2009, 10:24  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-10-24

Published: 21 April 2009

Abstract

Background

Lipid-lowering medication remains underused, even in high-risk populations. The objective of this study was to determine factors underlying general practitioners' decisions not to prescribe such drugs to patients with type 2 diabetes.

Methods

A qualitative study with semi-structured interviews using real cases was conducted to explore reasons for not prescribing lipid-lowering medication after a guideline was distributed that recommended the use of statins in most patients with type 2 diabetes. Seven interviews were conducted with general practitioners (GPs) in The Netherlands, and analysed using an analytic inductive approach.

Results

Reasons for not-prescribing could be divided into patient and physician-attributed factors. According to the GPs, some patients do not follow-up on agreed medication and others object to taking lipid-lowering medication, partly for legitimate reasons such as expected or perceived side effects. Furthermore, the GPs themselves perceived reservations for prescribing lipid-lowering medication in patients with short life expectancy, expected compliance problems or near goal lipid levels. GPs sometimes postponed the start of treatment because of other priorities. Finally, barriers were seen in the GPs' practice organisation, and at the primary-secondary care interface.

Conclusion

Some of the barriers mentioned by GPs seem to be valid reasons, showing that guideline non-adherence can be quite rational. On the other hand, treatment quality could improve by addressing issues, such as lack of knowledge or motivation of both the patient and the GP. More structured management in general practice may also lead to better treatment.