Abstract

Background: This project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative educational intervention in enhancing clinical decision making related to the management of hypertension in general practice. The relatively low level of uptake of clinical practice guidelines by clinicians is widely recognised as a problem that impacts on clinical outcomes. This project addresses this problem with a focus on hypertension guidelines. Hypertension is the most frequently managed problem in general practice but evidence suggests that management of Hypertension in general practice is sub-optimal.

Methods/design: This study will explore the effectiveness of an educational intervention named the ‘Guideline Enhancement Tool (GET)’. The intervention is designed to guide clinicians through a systematic process of considering key decision points related to the management of hypertension and provides a mechanism for clinicians to engage with the hypertension clinical guidelines. The intervention will be administered within the Australian General Practice Training program, via one of the regional training providers. Two cohorts of trainees will participate as the intervention and delayed intervention groups. This process is expected to improve clinicians’ engagement with the hypertension guidelines in particular, and enhance their clinical reasoning abilities in general. The effectiveness of the intervention in improving clinical reasoning will be evaluated using the ‘Script Concordance Test’.

Discussion: The study design presented in this protocol aims to achieve two major outcomes. Firstly, the trial and evaluation of the educational intervention can lead to the development of a validated clinical education strategy that can be used in GP training to enhance the decision-making processes related to the management of hypertension. This has the potential to be adapted to other clinical conditions and training programs and can benefit clinicians in their clinical decision-making. Secondly, the study explores features that influence the effective use of clinical practice guidelines. The study thus addresses a significant problem in clinical education.

Keywords

clinical decision marking, clinical reasoning, clinical practice guidelines, general practice training, clinical education

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