Objective: To investigate specialists' influence on prescribing by general practitioners. Method: A focus group study of 35 GPs. Setting: Hunter Urban Division of General Practice, New South Wales. Results: Although GPs thought specialists had only a small influence on their prescribing overall, it was substantial in some clinical areas, in complex conditions and conditions seen infrequently. Specialists were seen as authoritative and unbiased. Local specialists were particularly influential. Specialist influence came from seeing how specialists managed patients, clinical meetings, and specific verbal advice. It influenced the prescribing of new drugs, selection of drugs within a class and sometimes changed established prescribing practices. Discussion: Interventions to change GPs' prescribing practices should address the importance of specialist influence, and not focus on GPs alone.
Australian Family Physician Vol. 32, Issue 7, p. 573-576