Association of Dissemination of an Educational Communication Tool With Docusate Administration

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A clear message and call to action can affect the use of a medication with limited efficacy.


To assess the association of the dissemination of an educational document about the lack of efficacy of docusate with docusate administration and whether changing docusate administration was associated with a change in administration of comparable laxatives.

Design, Setting, and Participants

In this quasi-experimental, pre-post study of all acute care and continuing care facilities serviced by Alberta Health Services in Alberta, Canada, an interrupted time series analysis was performed to examine the association of an educational communication tool with docusate administration from June 1, 2014, through May 31, 2016.


A Drugs & Therapeutics Backgrounder was disseminated to all pharmacists in December 2014. Backgrounders are academic detailing tools to assist pharmacists in supporting drug stewardship and are supplemented by online, interactive webinars.

Main Outcomes and Measures

This study examined whether a decrease in docusate administration across the organization occurred after release of the backgrounder. Messaging in the backgrounder stated that, unless clinically necessary, docusate should not be replaced by another medication. This study assessed whether that message was accepted by measuring administration of comparable laxatives. Study medication administration is reported as defined daily doses (DDDs) per 1000 inpatient-days (PDs). Rates were compared for the 6 months before the intervention and 3, 6, 12, and 18 months after intervention.


Among the 111 acute care facilities (8500 beds) and 24 000 long-term care beds of the Alberta Health Services, predicted docusate administration decreased from preintervention (474 DDDs/1000 PDs) to 3 months (321 DDDs/1000 PDs; 95% CI, 304-465 DDDs/1000 PDs), 6 months (296 DDDs/1000 PDs; 95% CI, 277-456 DDDs/1000 PDs), 12 months (251 DDDs/1000 PDs; 95% CI, 207-499 DDDs/1000 PDs), and 18 months (214 DDDs/1000 PDs; 95% CI, 148-536 DDDs/1000 PDs). Administration of the comparable laxatives did not statistically significantly change (preintervention: 627 DDDs/1000 PDs; 18 months after intervention: 702 DDDs/1000 PDs; 95% CI, 295-694 DDDs/1000 PDs; P = .13).

Conclusions and Relevance

A communication document supported by live presentations was associated with decreased administration of docusate up to 6 months, with a leveling of the association after 1 year. Significant systemic change can be achieved without extensive and complex interventions if the evidence and messaging are aligned.

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