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Brian E. Lacy, PhD, MD, and colleagues evaluated physician-prescribing practices in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and their findings were recently reported in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology (July 2005). Questionnaires were designed to elicit demographic data (age, sex, degree, specialty, practice setting, years in practice, community served) and information relating to the evaluation and treatment of GERD. Randomly selected healthcare professionals included practicing gastroenterologists, internists, and family physicians in Maryland.
Completed, returned questionnaires (n = 214) were nearly equally distributed among the 3 specialty groups. A total of 82% of the respondents were male; 60% had practiced more than 15 years, and 6% had practiced 4 years or fewer. It was found that age, specialty, number of years in practice, and practice setting significantly influence how physicians evaluate and treat patients with GERD. For example, older physicians prescribe more proton pump inhibitors, specialists are more likely to recommend upper endoscopy, family physicians request a barium swallow more often, and physicians in the academic setting are more likely to use step-down therapy.