Identifying and de-implementing low-value care in primary care: the GP's perspective-a cross-sectional survey

Rudolf Bertijn Kool*, Eva W. Verkerk, Lieke J. A. Winnemuller, Tjerk Wiersma, Gert P. Westert, Jaco S. Burgers, Simone A. van Dulmen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


ObjectiveGeneral practitioners have an important role in reducing low-value care as gatekeepers of the health system. The aim of this study was to assess the experiences of Dutch general practitioners regarding low-value care and to identify their needs to decrease low-value primary care.DesignWe performed a cross-sectional study.ParticipantsWe sent a survey to 500 general practitioners.SettingPrimary care in the Netherlands.Primary and secondary outcomesThe survey contained questions about the provision of low-value care and on clinical cases about lumbosacral spine X-rays in patients with low back pain and vitamin B-12 laboratory tests without an evidence-based indication. We also asked general practitioners what they needed to reduce low-value care.ResultsA total of 182 general practitioners (37%) responded. 67% indicated that low-value care practices are regularly provided in general practice. 57% of the general practitioners have seen negative consequences of low-value care, in particular side effects of medication. The most provided low-value care practices are medication prescriptions such as antibiotics and laboratory tests such as vitamin B-12 tests. The most reported drivers are patient-related. General practitioners want to maintain a good relationship with their patients by offering their patients an intervention instead of watchful waiting. Lack of time also plays a major role. In order to reduce low-value care, general practitioners suggested that educating patients on the value of tests and treatments might help. Supporting general practitioners and other healthcare professionals with clear guidelines as well as having more time for consultation were also mentioned by general practitioners.ConclusionGeneral practitioners are aware of providing unnecessary care despite their role as gatekeepers and have reasons for this. They need support in order to change their practice. This support might consist of better education of healthcare professionals and providing more time for consultation. Local and national media, such as websites and television, could be used to educate patients while guidelines could support professionals in reducing low-value care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number037019
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2020


  • health policy
  • quality in health care
  • protocols & guidelines
  • organisation of health services
  • primary care

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