This study states that Systematic strategies promoting quality of care in general practice are yet under-represented in several European countries. This interventional study assessed whether a combined intervention (self-audit, benchmarking, quality circles) improved quality of care in Salzburg, Austria and South Tyrol, Italy. The present publication reports the Italian results. We developed quality indicators for general practice in a consensus process based on pre-existing quality programmes. The indicators addressed diagnosis and treatment regarding eight common chronic conditions. Improvements concerned process and intermediate outcome indicators particularly between baseline and the first follow-up. Performance was relatively low at baseline and improved considerably, mainly in the first study period. The intervention investigated in this study can serve as a model for future quality programmes. A customized electronic health record for the implementation of this intervention as well as standardized and consistent documentation by GPs is a prerequisite. Use of a limited set of quality indicators (QIs) and regular QI modification is probably advisable to increase the benefits. Long-term prospective studies should investigate the impact of QI-based interventions on end-result outcomes.


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