OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of outreach visits by trained nurse facilitators on the organisation of services used to prevent cardiovascular disease. To identify the characteristics of general practices that determined success. DESIGN: A non-randomised controlled trial of two methods of implementing guidelines to organise prevention of cardiovascular disease: an innovative outreach visit method compared with a feedback method. The results in both groups were compared with data from a control group. SETTING AND SUBJECTS: 95 general practices in two regions in The Netherlands. INTERVENTIONS: Trained nurse facilitators visited practices, focusing on solving problems in the organisation of prevention. They applied a four step model in each practice. The number of visits depended on the needs of the practice team. The feedback method consisted of the provision of a feedback report with advice specific to each practice and standardised instructions. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The proportion of practices adhering to 10 different guidelines. Guidelines were on the detection of patients at risk, their follow up, the registration of preventive activities, and teamwork within the practice. RESULTS: Outreach visits were more effective than feedback in implementing guidelines to organise prevention. Within the group with outreach visits, the increase in the number of practices adhering to the guidelines was significant for six out of 10 guidelines. Within the feedback group, a comparison of data before and after intervention showed no significant differences. Partnerships and practices with a computer changed more. CONCLUSION: Outreach visits by trained nurse facilitators proved to be effective in implementing guidelines within general practices, probably because their help was practical and designed for the individual practice, guided by the wishes and capabilities of the practice team.
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