Test ordering by GP trainees Effects of an educational intervention on attitudes and intended practice

Simon Morgan, Andy Morgan, Rohan Kerr, Amanda Tapley, Stat Parker Magin

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the effectiveness of an educational intervention on test-ordering attitudes and intended practice of GP trainees, and any associations between changes in test ordering and trainee characteristics. 

Design: Preworkshop and postworkshop survey of attitudes to test ordering, intended test-ordering practices for 3 clinical scenarios (fatigue, screening, and shoulder pain), and tolerance for uncertainty. 

Setting: Three Australian regional general practice training providers. 

Participants: General practice trainees (N = 167). 

Intervention: A 2-hour workshop session and an online module. 

Main outcome measures: Proportion of trainees who agreed with attitudinal statements before and after the workshop; proportion of trainees who would order tests, mean number of tests ordered, and number of appropriate and inappropriate tests ordered for each scenario before and after the workshop. 

Results: Of 167 trainees, 132 (79.0%) completed both the preworkshop and postworkshop questionnaires. A total of 122 trainees attended the workshop. At baseline, 88.6% thought that tests can harm patients, 84.8% believed overtesting was a problem, 72.0% felt pressured by patients, 52.3% believed that tests would reassure patients, and 50.8% thought that they were less likely to be sued if they ordered tests. There were desirable changes in all attitudes after the workshop. Before the workshop, the mean number of tests that trainees would have ordered was 4.4, 4.8, and 1.5 for the fatigue, screening, and shoulder pain scenarios, respectively. After the workshop there were decreases in the mean number of both appropriate tests (decrease of 0.94) and inappropriate tests (decrease of 0.24) in the fatigue scenario; there was no change in the mean number of appropriate tests and a decrease in inappropriate tests (decrease of 0.76) in the screening scenario; and there was an increase in the proportion of trainees who would appropriately not order tests in the shoulder pain scenario. There were no significant associations between changes in test ordering and trainee demographic characteristics or tolerance for uncertainty subscale scores. 

Conclusion: General practice trainees have conflicting attitudes to test ordering and demonstrate nonrational test ordering in 3 common scenarios. A workshop on rational test ordering led to desirable changes in attitudes and more rational intended test ordering. Our findings inform the development of appropriate educational interventions that address nonrational testing in family medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-741
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Family Physician
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016

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