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Clinician perceptions of behavioral economic strategies to increase utilization of lung-protective ventilation

Annals of the American Thoracic Society December 1, 2019

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Research Areas


RATIONALE: Lung-protective ventilation (LPV) improves outcomes in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and has also shown benefits in patients without ARDS. Despite this evidence, LPV use remains low.

OBJECTIVES: To understand clinicians’ perceptions of using behavioral economic strategies to improve rates of LPV use.

METHODS: We conducted semistructured interviews of clinicians across seven intensive care units within a university health system. We purposefully sampled clinicians of different professional backgrounds and experience levels. Each interview included descriptions of three of five strategies grounded in behavioral economic theory designed to facilitate clinicians’ use of LPV: 1) an order set autopopulated with LPV settings (“default”), 2) an order set providing a choice between autopopulated LPV settings and open-ended order entry for alternative settings (“active choice”), 3) requirement of written justification if settings other than LPV were ordered or documented (“accountable justification”), 4) automated ARDS identification and clinician prompting (“alert”), and 5) provision of clinicians’ and their peers’ individual rates of LPV use (“peer comparison”). Descriptions were followed by open-ended questions to elicit perceptions about advantages, disadvantages, and acceptability. Initial interview transcripts were reviewed by two investigators to develop a thematic codebook, which was refined iteratively with the use of constant comparative methods.

RESULTS: We completed 17 interviews of physicians, nurse practitioners, and respiratory therapists. Strategies that prepopulated settings (default, active choice, and accountable justification) were perceived as providing benefit by reducing workloads and serving as cognitive prompts. The default and active choice strategies were more acceptable than accountable justification, which was perceived as potentially frustrating due to workflow impedance. The alert strategy was met with concerns about alert accuracy and alarm fatigue. The peer comparison strategy led to concerns about timing and fear of punitive measures. Participants believed that the default and active choice strategies would be highly acceptable, whereas few interviewees thought the alert would be acceptable. The active choice strategy was most consistently identified as potentially highly effective.

CONCLUSIONS: Behavioral economic strategies have great potential as acceptable and potentially effective strategies to increase the use of LPV.


National Heart, Lung,and Blood Institute (NHLBI)