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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care

About the Academic Detailing Project

This project ended in September 2013.


The Academic Detailing project delivers evidence-based research findings from the Effective Health Care (EHC) Program to health care professionals. Trained clinician consultants visit physicians, pharmacists, nurses, other clinicians, and health care system decisionmakers nationwide to share unbiased, noncommercial information about medications and other therapeutic options with the goal of improving patient care.

The Participants

Primary care clinicians are the main audience for the Academic Detailing project because they diagnose and treat the majority of chronic health conditions researched through the EHC Program. The Academic Detailing project’s consultants are expected to visit 1,300 primary care clinician sites (including the offices of internists, family practitioners, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) and 200 health system sites (including hospitals, integrated health systems, and health plans) across the country. Each participating clinician and health care system will be visited 6 times over a 3-year period for a total of approximately 9,000 visits. Each visit covers research findings from the EHC Program’s comparative effectiveness reviews.

To reach the most clinicians, and therefore affect the most patients, the Academic Detailing project visits clinician and health system sites in the most populous metropolitan statistical areas. The project also considers the availability of the clinicians and referrals from other clinicians.

The Details

During each visit, the consultant presents findings of a specific comparative effectiveness review from the EHC Program. The consultant discusses only the evidence presented in the review and does not provide clinical recommendations or guidelines.

Academic Detailing topics are chosen based on their prevalence among the U.S. population and their relevance for primary care clinicians. General topics include diabetes, heart and blood vessel conditions, mental health, and muscle, bone, and joint conditions. AHRQ’s inventory of research findings will support the development of six successive Academic Detailing presentations.

  • Topic 1– Premixed Insulin Analogues: A Comparison With Other Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes
  • Topic 2– Comparing Medications for Adults With Type 2 Diabetes
  • Topic 3– ACEIs, ARBs, or DRI for Adults With Hypertension
  • Topics 4 through 6 – heart and blood vessel conditions, mental health and muscle, bone, and joint conditions

The information presented during each visit is accredited for continuing education through the clinician’s specific accrediting association. After each visit, participants receive a link to the EHC Program’s continuing education Web page to take a post-test for certification.

The Consultants

The Academic Detailing project employs 13 clinicians in 4 regions, subdivided into 14 territories, across the contiguous 48 States. The clinician consultants include medical doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and nurses trained to present the research findings.

A Coordinated Effort in Translation, Dissemination, and Implementation

To complement the evidence translation and dissemination efforts undertaken by the John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Science, funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are supporting four dissemination and implementation projects from September 2010 to September 2013: The National Initiative for Promoting Evidence-Based Health Information, Regional Partnership Development Offices, Online Continuing Education, and Academic Detailing. In addition, a separate Systematic Dissemination Program Evaluation project not only develops metrics and collects data for measuring the impact of each project, but also provides continuous feedback for ongoing project improvements. The Academic Detailing contract was awarded to Total Therapeutic Management, Inc.

Building on the translation products developed by the Eisenberg Center, these projects enhance the Effective Health Care Program’s capacity to promote the use of evidence-based health information and improve health care outcomes. Target audiences include consumers, patients, and caregivers; individual clinicians and their professional organizations; hospitals and integrated health systems; businesses and business organizations; academicians and researchers; Quality Improvement Organizations; policymakers; and advocates for better patient care. Special emphasis is placed on reaching priority populations, including minorities, seniors, low-income individuals, and people with limited access to health care.