Comparison of Intended Scope of Practice for Family Medicine Residents With Reported Scope of Practice Among Practicing Family Physicians

Importance  Narrowing of the scope of practice of US family physicians has been well documented. Proposed reasons include changing practice patterns as physicians age, employer restrictions, or generational choices. Determining components of care that remain integral to the practice of family medicine may be informed by assessing gaps between the intended scope of practice of residents and actual scope of practice of family physicians.

Objective  To compare intended scope of practice for American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) initial certifiers at residency completion with self-reported actual scope of practice of recertifying family physicians.

Design and Participants  Cross-sectional data were collected from a practice demographic questionnaire completed by all individuals applying to take the ABFM Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians examination. Initial certifiers reported intentions and recertifiers reported actual provision of specific clinical activities. All physicians who registered for the 2014 ABFM Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians examination were included: 3038 initial certifiers and 10 846 recertifiers.

Exposures  Initially certifying physicians vs recertifying physicians.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The Scope of Practice for Primary Care score (scope score), a psychometric scale, was calculated for each physician and ranged from 0 to 30, with higher numbers equating to broader scope of practice. Recertifiers were categorized by decades in practice.

Results  The final sample included 13 884 family physicians and, because the questionnaire was a required component of the examination application, there was a 100% response rate. Mean scope score was significantly higher for initial certifier intended practice compared with recertifying physicians’ reported actual practices (17.7 vs 15.5; difference, 2.2 [95% CI, 2.1-2.3]; P < .001). Compared with recertifiers, initial certifiers were more likely to report intending to provide all clinical services asked except pain management; this included obstetric care (23.7% vs 7.7%; difference, 16.0% [95% CI, 14.4%-17.6%]; P < .001), inpatient care (54.9% vs 33.5%; difference, 21.4% [95% CI, 19.4%-23.4%]; P < .001), and prenatal care (50.2% vs 9.9%; difference, 40.3 [95% CI, 38.5%-42.2%]; P < .001). Similar differences from initial certifiers were present when comparisons were limited to recertifiers in practice for only 1 to 10 years.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this study of family physicians taking ABFM examinations, graduating family medicine residents reported an intention to provide a broader scope of practice than that reported by current practitioners. This pattern suggests that these differences are not generational, but whether they are due to limited practice support, employer constraints, or other causes remains to be determined.

Anastasia J. Coutinho et al, JAMA. 2015;314(22):2364-2372. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13734.

Stepped care for depression and anxiety in visually impaired older adults: multicentre randomised controlled trial

Study question Is stepped care compared with usual care effective in preventing the onset of major depressive, dysthymic, and anxiety disorders in older people with visual impairment (caused mainly by age related eye disease) and subthreshold depression and/or anxiety?

Methods 265 people aged ≥50 were randomly assigned to a stepped care programme plus usual care (n=131) or usual care only (n=134). Supervised occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists from low vision rehabilitation organisations delivered the stepped care programme, which comprised watchful waiting, guided self help based on cognitive behavioural therapy, problem solving treatment, and referral to a general practitioner. The primary outcome was the 24 month cumulative incidence (seven measurements) of major depressive dysthymic and/or anxiety disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, and generalised anxiety disorder). Secondary outcomes were change in symptoms of depression and anxiety, vision related quality of life, health related quality of life, and adaptation to vision loss over time up to 24 months’ follow-up.

Study answer and limitations 62 participants (46%) in the usual care group and 38 participants (29%) from the stepped care group developed a disorder. The intervention was associated with a significantly reduced incidence (relative risk 0.63, 95% confidence interval 0.45 to 0.87; P=0.01), even if time to the event was taken into account (adjusted hazard ratio 0.57, 0.35 to 0.93; P=0.02). The number needed to treat was 5.8 (3.5 to 17.3). The dropout rate was fairly high (34.3%), but rates were not significantly different for the two groups, indicating that the intervention was as acceptable as usual care. Participants who volunteered and were selected for this study might not be representative of visually impaired older adults in general (responders were significantly younger than non-responders), thereby reducing the generalisability of the outcomes.

What this study adds Stepped care seems to be a promising way to deal with depression and anxiety in visually impaired older adults. This approach could lead to standardised strategies for the screening, monitoring, treatment, and referral of visually impaired older adults with depression and anxiety.

Funding, competing interests, data sharing Funded by ZonMw InZicht, the Dutch Organisation for Health Research and Development-InSight Society. There are no competing interests. Full dataset and statistical code are available from the corresponding author.

Study NTR3296.

Hilde P A van der Aa et al, BMJ 2015;351:h6127



Antenatal blood pressure for prediction of pre-eclampsia, preterm birth, and small for gestational age babies: development and validation in two general population cohorts

Study question Can routine antenatal blood pressure measurements between 20 and 36 weeks’ gestation contribute to the prediction of pre-eclampsia and its associated adverse outcomes?

Methods This study used repeated antenatal measurements of blood pressure from 12 996 women in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to develop prediction models and validated these in 3005 women from the Southampton Women’s Survey (SWS). A model based on maternal early pregnancy characteristics only (BMI, height, age, parity, smoking, existing and previous gestational hypertension and diabetes, and ethnicity) plus initial mean arterial pressure was compared with a model additionally including current mean arterial pressure, a model including the deviation of current mean arterial pressure from a stratified normogram, and a model including both at different gestational ages from 20-36 weeks.

Study answer and limitations The addition of blood pressure measurements from 28 weeks onwards improved prediction models compared with use of early pregnancy risk factors alone, but they contributed little to the prediction of preterm birth or small for gestational age. Though multiple imputation of missing data was used to increase the sample size and minimise selection bias, the validation sample might have been slightly underpowered as the number of cases of pre-eclampsia was just below the recommended 100. Several risk factors were self reported, potentially introducing measurement error, but this reflects how information would be obtained in clinical practice.

What this study adds The addition of routinely collected blood pressure measurements from 28 weeks onwards improves predictive models for pre-eclampsia based on blood pressure in early pregnancy and other characteristics, facilitating a reduction in scheduled antenatal care.

Funding, competing interests, data sharing UK Wellcome Trust, US National Institutes of Health, and UK Medical Research Council. Other funding sources for authors are detailed in the full online paper. With the exceptions of CM-W, HMI, and KMG there were no competing interests.

Corrie Macdonald-Wallis et al, BMJ 2015;351:h5948


Efficacy, safety, and tolerability of augmentation pharmacotherapy with aripiprazole for treatment-resistant depression in late life: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial


Treatment-resistant major depression is common and potentially life-threatening in elderly people, in whom little is known about the benefits and risks of augmentation pharmacotherapy. We aimed to assess whether aripiprazole is associated with a higher probability of remission than is placebo.


We did a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial at three centres in the USA and Canada to test the efficacy and safety of aripiprazole augmentation for adults aged older than 60 years with treatment-resistant depression (Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale [MADRS] score of ≥15). Patients who did not achieve remission during a pre-trial with venlafaxine extended-release (150–300 mg/day) were randomly assigned (1:1) to the addition of aripiprazole (target dose 10 mg [maximum 15 mg] daily) daily or placebo for 12 weeks. The computer-generated randomisation was done in blocks and stratified by site. Only the database administrator and research pharmacists had knowledge of treatment assignment. The primary endpoint was remission, defined as an MADRS score of 10 or less (and at least 2 points below the score at the start of the randomised phase) at both of the final two consecutive visits, analysed by intention to treat. This trial is registered with, number NCT00892047.


From July 20, 2009, to Dec 30, 2013, we recruited 468 eligible participants, 181 (39%) of whom did not remit and were randomly assigned to aripiprazole (n=91) or placebo (n=90). A greater proportion of participants in the aripiprazole group achieved remission than did those in the placebo group (40 [44%] vs 26 [29%] participants; odds ratio [OR] 2·0 [95% CI 1·1–3·7], p=0·03; number needed to treat [NNT] 6·6 [95% CI 3·5–81·8]). Akathisia was the most common adverse effect of aripiprazole (reported in 24 [26%] of 91 participants on aripiprazole vs 11 [12%] of 90 on placebo). Compared with placebo, aripiprazole was also associated with more Parkinsonism (15 [17%] of 86 vs two [2%] of 81 participants), but not with treatment-emergent suicidal ideation (13 [21%] of 61 vs 19 [29%] of 65 participants) or other measured safety variables.


In adults aged 60 years or older who do not achieve remission from depression with a first-line antidepressant, the addition of aripiprazole is effective in achieving and sustaining remission. Tolerability concerns include the potential for akathisia and Parkinsonism.


National Institute of Mental Health, UPMC Endowment in Geriatric Psychiatry, Taylor Family Institute for Innovative Psychiatric Research, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.

Association between use of warfarin with common sulfonylureas and serious hypoglycemic events: retrospective cohort analysis

Study question Is warfarin use associated with an increased risk of serious hypoglycemic events among older people treated with the sulfonylureas glipizide and glimepiride?

Methods This was a retrospective cohort analysis of pharmacy and medical claims from a 20% random sample of Medicare fee for service beneficiaries aged 65 years or older. It included 465 918 beneficiaries with diabetes who filled a prescription for glipizide or glimepiride between 2006 and 2011 (4 355 418 person quarters); 71 895 (15.4%) patients also filled a prescription for warfarin (416 479 person quarters with warfarin use). The main outcome measure was emergency department visit or hospital admission with a primary diagnosis of hypoglycemia in person quarters with concurrent fills of warfarin and glipizide/glimepiride compared with the rates in quarters with glipizide/glimepiride fills only, Multivariable logistic regression was used to adjust for individual characteristics. Secondary outcomes included fall related fracture and altered consciousness/mental status.

Summary answer and limitations In quarters with glipizide/glimepiride use, hospital admissions or emergency department visits for hypoglycemia were more common in person quarters with concurrent warfarin use compared with quarters without warfarin use (294/416 479 v 1903/3 938 939; adjusted odds ratio 1.22, 95% confidence interval 1.05 to 1.42). The risk of hypoglycemia associated with concurrent use was higher among people using warfarin for the first time, as well as in those aged 65-74 years. Concurrent use of warfarin and glipizide/glimepiride was also associated with hospital admission or emergency department visit for fall related fractures (3919/416 479 v 20 759/3 938 939; adjusted odds ratio 1.47, 1.41 to 1.54) and altered consciousness/mental status (2490/416 479 v 14 414/3 938 939; adjusted odds ratio 1.22, 1.16 to 1.29). Unmeasured factors could be correlated with both warfarin use and serious hypoglycemic events, leading to confounding. The findings may not generalize beyond the elderly Medicare population.

What this study adds A substantial positive association was seen between use of warfarin with glipizide/glimepiride and hospital admission/emergency department visits for hypoglycemia and related diagnoses, particularly in patients starting warfarin. The findings suggest the possibility of a significant drug interaction between these medications.

Funding, competing interests, data sharing JAR and DPG receive support from the National Institute on Aging, the Commonwealth Fund, and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California. ABJ receives support from the NIH Office of the Director. No additional data are available.

John A Romley et al, BMJ 2015;351:h6223


HbA1c overtesting and overtreatment among US adults with controlled type 2 diabetes, 2001-13: observational population based study

Study question What is the extent and effect of excessive testing for glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) among adults with controlled type 2 diabetes?

Methods A retrospective analysis of data from a national administrative claims database included commercially insured individuals in the USA, 2001-13. Study patients were aged 18 years or older, had type 2 diabetes with stable glycemic control (two consecutive tests showing HbA1c<7.0% within 24 months), did not use insulin, had no history of severe hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, and were not pregnant. HbA1c testing frequency was measured within 24 months after the second (index) HbA1c test, and classified as guideline recommended (≤2 times/year), frequent (3-4 times/year), and excessive (≥5 times/year). Changes in treatment regimen were ascertained within three months of the index test.

Study answer and limitations Of 31 545 patients in the study cohort (mean age 58 years; mean index HbA1c 6.2%), HbA1c testing frequency was excessive in 6% and frequent in 55%. Despite good glycemic control at baseline, treatment was further intensified by addition of glucose lowering drugs or insulin in 8.4% of patients (comprising 13%, 9%, and 7% of those tested excessively, frequently, and per guidelines, respectively; P<0.001). Compared with guideline recommended testing, excessive testing was associated with treatment intensification (odds ratio 1.35 (95% confidence interval 1.22 to 1.50)). Excessive testing rates remained unchanged in 2001-08, but fell significantly after 2009. The odds of excessive testing was 46% lower in 2011 than in 2001-02. The study population is not representative of all US patients with type 2 diabetes because it was restricted to commercially insured adults with stable and controlled diabetes not receiving insulin treatment. The study design did not capture the underuse of HbA1c testing.

What this study adds In this US cohort of adults with stable and controlled type 2 diabetes, more than 60% received too many HbA1c tests, a practice associated with potential overtreatment with hypoglycemic drugs. Excessive testing contributes to the growing problem of waste in healthcare and increased patient burden in diabetes management.

Funding, competing interests, data sharing NDS and RGM are funded partly by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R18HS18339) and AcademyHealth Delivery System Science Fellowship (2013), respectively. No competing interests declared. Additional data are available from

Rozalina G McCoy et al, BMJ 2015;351:h6138


Comparative benefits and harms of second generation antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapies in initial treatment of major depressive disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis

Study question What are the benefits and harms of second generation antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs) in the initial treatment of a current episode of major depressive disorder in adults?

Methods This was a systematic review including qualitative assessment and meta-analyses using random and fixed effects models. Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Library, the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, PsycINFO, and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature were searched from January1990 through January 2015. The 11 randomized controlled trials included compared a second generation antidepressant CBT. Ten trials compared antidepressant monotherapy with CBT alone; three compared antidepressant monotherapy with antidepressant plus CBT.

Summary answer and limitations Meta-analyses found no statistically significant difference in effectiveness between second generation antidepressants and CBT for response (risk ratio 0.91, 0.77 to 1.07), remission (0.98, 0.73 to 1.32), or change in 17 item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score (weighted mean difference, −0.38, −2.87 to 2.10). Similarly, no significant differences were found in rates of overall study discontinuation (risk ratio 0.90, 0.49 to 1.65) or discontinuation attributable to lack of efficacy (0.40, 0.05 to 2.91). Although more patients treated with a second generation antidepressant than receiving CBT withdrew from studies because of adverse events, the difference was not statistically significant (risk ratio 3.29, 0.42 to 25.72). No conclusions could be drawn about other outcomes because of lack of evidence. Results should be interpreted cautiously given the low strength of evidence for most outcomes. The scope of this review was limited to trials that enrolled adult patients with major depressive disorder and compared a second generation antidepressant with CBT, and many of the included trials had methodological shortcomings that may limit confidence in some of the findings.

What this study adds Second generation antidepressants and CBT have evidence bases of benefits and harms in major depressive disorder. Available evidence suggests no difference in treatment effects of second generation antidepressants and CBT, either alone or in combination, although small numbers may preclude detection of small but clinically meaningful differences.

Funding, competing interests, data sharing This project was funded under contract from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality by the RTI-UNC Evidence-based Practice Center. Detailed methods and additional information are available in the full report, available at

Halle R Amick et al, BMJ 2015;351:h6019