Objective: To determine if an evidence-based implementation (EBI) strategy could lead to the successful implementation of guidelines for the management of adult asthma in a large rural ED.
Methods: This was a pre- and post-intervention trial, comparing data for seven clinical indicators from a study hospital and a control hospital. Retrospective pre-intervention audits were conducted at the study hospital for 3 months (1 April-30 June 2004) and the control hospital for 4 months (1 March-30 June 2004). The effect of an EBI to implement established guidelines for the management of asthma at the study hospital was compared with the effect of a mail-out of guideline booklets and wall charts to the control hospital. Post-intervention audits were then performed at both hospitals. Sustainability of the EBI was gauged by 12 month follow-up data at the study hospital.
Results: There were 55 presentations of adult asthma at the study hospital in the pre-intervention phase and 67 post-intervention. The corresponding numbers for the control hospital were 51 and 42, respectively. Following the EBI there were significant improvements at the study hospital for the documentation of severity (27-99%, P <0.01), use of spirometry (38-84%, P <0.01), medication delivery via spacer device (0-26%, P <0.01), use of systemic steroids (66-84% P <0.05), use of written short-term asthma plans (14-82%, P <0.01), reduction of ipratropium use in mild asthma (43-16%, P <0.05) and reduction in antibiotic use in afebrile asthmatics (37-6%, P <0.01). For the control hospital there was a significant increase in spirometry use from 2% to 40% (P <0.01). For seven clinical indicators combined, compliance with the guideline increased from 38% to 79.1% (P <0.01) at the study hospital, whereas there was no change at the control hospital, 44.3% to 43% (P = 0.75) There were 68 presentations at 12 month follow up at the study hospital and compliance with the seven clinical indicators was 78.2%.
Conclusion: An EBI significantly improved compliance at the study hospital with no improvement noted in the control hospital. These improvements were maintained at 12 month follow up. An EBI can lead to significant improvements in the management of asthma at a large rural referral hospital ED and might have implications for hospitals with similar roles and profiles.