To determine whether endoscopists and general internists agreed with the characterization of appropriateness for endoscopy of various clinical scenarios, as previously reported by the RAND Corporation.
All endoscopists in western Canada and a random sample of general internists who did not perform endoscopy.
Questionnaires were sent to 179 endoscopists in western Canada who were asked to rate the 53 scenarios for endoscopy on a nine-point scale ranging from most appropriate to most inappropriate. A similar questionnaire was sent to 39 general internists practising in the province of Alberta.
Response rate was 72% of endoscopists (n = 128) and 64% of general internists (n = 25). Among the endoscopists, there was agreement with the RAND classification for 32 scenarios. All 18 indications previously thought to be appropriate were considered to be appropriate. However, endoscopists agreed with only six of 16 equivocal and eight of 19 indications considered inappropriate. Discrepancies were reviewed by five experienced endoscopists and most appeared to be related to a concern regarding possible malignancy linked in part with the definition of failure to respond to medical therapy; and to a refusal to request a barium meal before endoscopy. Among general internists, there was agreement with RAND in 26 scenarios. When the appropriateness rankings of endoscopists and general internists were compared, there was agreement in 40 of 53 scenarios. Significant discrepancies in ratings were identified in scenarios in which barium studies were described as being normal, known or not done.
The equivocal and inappropriate ratings developed by the RAND Corporation are not uniformly accepted by the endoscopy community or general internists. Use of the RAND indications for assessing quality assurance can be challenged.