Clinician-Level Variation in Three Measures Representing Overuse Based on the American Geriatrics Society Choosing Wisely Statement

Theresa A. Rowe*, Tiffany Brown, Ji Young Lee, Jeffrey A. Linder, Mark W. Friedberg, Jason N. Doctor, Daniella Meeker, Jody D. Ciolino, Stephen D. Persell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Importance: The extent of clinician-level variation in the overuse of testing or treatment in older adults is not well understood. Objective: To examine clinician-level variation for three new measures of potentially inappropriate use of medical services in older adults. Design: Retrospective analysis of overall means and clinician-level variation in performance on three new measures. Subjects: Adults aged 65 years and older who had office visits with outpatient primary or immediate care clinicians within a single academic medical center health system between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. Measures: Two electronic clinical quality measures representing potentially inappropriate use of medical services in older adults: prostate-specific antigen testing against guidelines (PSA) in men aged 76 and older; urinalysis or urine culture for non-specific reasons in women aged 65 and older; and one intermediate outcome measure: hemoglobin A1c less than 7.0 in adults aged 75 and older with diabetes mellitus treated with insulin or oral hypoglycemic medication. Results: Sixty-nine clinicians and 2009 patients contributed observations to the PSA measure, 144 clinicians and 5933 patients contributed to the urinalysis/urine culture measure, and 42 clinicians and 665 patients contributed to the diabetes measure. Meaningful clinician-level performance variation was greatest for the PSA measure (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] = 0.27), followed by the urinalysis/urine culture measure (ICC = 0.18), and the diabetes measure (ICC = 0.024). The range of possible overuse across clinician quartiles was 8–54% for the PSA measure, 3–35% for the urinalysis/urine culture measure, and 13–49% for the diabetes measure. The odds ratios of overuse in the highest quartile compared with the lowest for the PSA, urinalysis/urine culture, and diabetes measures were 99.3 (95% CI 43 to 228), 15.7 (10 to 24), and 6.0 (3.3 to 11), respectively. Conclusions: Within the same health system, rates of potential overuse in elderly patients varied greatly across clinicians, particularly for the process measures examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1797-1802
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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