Adoption of Choosing Wisely Recommendations Slow to Catch On

Clinical question: Have the Choosing Wisely campaign recommendations led to changes in practice?

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Background: The Choosing Wisely campaign aims to reduce the incidence of low-value care by providing evidence-based recommendations for common clinical situations. The rate of adoption of these recommendations is unknown.

Study design: Retrospective review.

Setting: Anthem insurance members.

Synopsis: The study examined the claims data from 25 million Anthem insurance members to compare the rate of services that were targeted by seven Choosing Wisely campaign recommendations before and after the recommendations were published in 2012.

Investigators found the incidence of two of the services declined after the Choosing Wisely recommendations were published; the other five services remained stable or increased slightly. Furthermore, the declines were statistically significant but not a marked absolute difference, with the incidence of head imaging in patients with uncomplicated headaches going down to 13.4% from 14.9% and the use of cardiac imaging in the absence of cardiac disease declining to 9.7% from 10.8%.

The main limitations are the narrow population of Anthem insurance members and the lack of specific data that could help answer why clinical practice has not changed, but that could be the aim of future studies.

Bottom line: Choosing Wisely recommendations have not been adopted on a population level; widespread implementation likely will require financial incentives, provider-level data feedback, and systems interventions.

Citation: Rosenberg A, Agiro A, Gottlieb M, et al. Early trends among seven recommendations from the Choosing Wisely campaign. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(12):1913-1920. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.5441.

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