Promoting better use of the PSA test in general practice: Randomized controlled trial of educational strategies based on outreach visits and mailout

D Weller*, F May, D Rowett, A Esterman, C Pinnock, S Nicholson, J Doust, C Silagy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer is controversial. Demand for PSA testing is likely to rise in the UK, Australia and other western countries. Primary care needs to develop appropriate strategies to respond to this demand.

Objectives. Our aim was to compare the effectiveness of educational outreach visits (EOVs) and mailout strategies targeting PSA testing in Australian primary care.

Methods. A randomized controlled trial was conducted in general practices in southern Adelaide. The main outcome measures at baseline, 6 months and 12 months post-intervention were PSA testing rates and GP knowledge in key areas relating to prostate cancer and PSA testing.

Results. The interventions were able to demonstrate a change in clinical practice. In the 6 months post-intervention, median PSA testing rate in the EOV group was significantly lower than in the postal group, which in turn was significantly lower than the control group (P <0.001). Statistically significant differences were not, however, maintained in the 6-12 month post-intervention period. The EOV group, at 6 months follow-up, had a significantly greater proportion of 'correct' responses than the control group to questions about prostate cancer treatment effectiveness (P = 0.004) and endorsement of PSA screening by professional bodies (P = 0.041).

Conclusions. Primary care has a central role in PSA testing for prostate cancer. Clinical practice in this area is receptive to evidence-based interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-661
Number of pages7
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes

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