Competing demands or clinical inertia: The case of elevated glycosylated hemoglobin

Michael L. Parchman, Jacqueline A. Pugh, Raquel L. Romero, Krista W. Bowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations

Abstract

PURPOSE: This study aimed to examine the contribution of competing demands to changes in hypoglycemic medications and to return appointment intervals for patients with type 2 diabetes and an elevated glycosylated hemoglobin (A 1c) level. METHODS: We observed 211 primary care encounters by adult patients with type 2 diabetes in 20 primary care clinics and documented changes in hypoglycemic medications. Competing demands were assessed from length of encounter, number of concerns patients raised, and number of topics brought up by the clinician. Days to the next scheduled appointment were obtained at patient checkout. Recent A1c values and dates were determined from the chart. RESULTS: Among patients with an A1c level greater than 7%, each additional patient concern was associated with a 49% (95% confidence interval, 35%-60%) reduction in the likelihood of a change in medication, independent of length of the encounter and most recent level of A1c. Among patients with an A1c level greater than 7% and no change in medication, for every additional minute of encounter length, the time to the next scheduled appointment decreased by 2.8 days (P = .001). Similarly, for each additional 1% increase in A1c level, the time to the next scheduled appointment decreased by 8.6 days (P = .001). CONCLUSIONS: The concept of clinical inertia is limited and does not fully characterize the complexity of primary care encounters. Competing demands is a principle for constructing models of primary care encounters that are more congruent with reality and should be considered in the design of interventions to improve chronic disease outcomes in primary care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-201
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of family medicine
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2007

Keywords

  • Ambulatory care
  • Diabetes mellitus, type 2
  • Health care delivery
  • Health services research
  • Hemoglobin A, glycosylated
  • Office visits
  • Practice-based research networks
  • Primary care
  • Quality of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

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