Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 40, Issue 1, January-February 2011

Why haven’t I changed that? Therapeutic inertia in general practice

Patrick D Byrnes
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There are multiple gaps between evidence and practice in our health system. The relatively new concept of ‘therapeutic inertia’ is useful to understand why these gaps persist. It is defined as ‘failure of healthcare providers to initiate or intensify therapy when indicated’ and ‘recognition of the problem, but failure to act’.
This article explores the development of therapeutic inertia and its causes, and other concepts useful in closing gaps in general practice, including addressing emotional decisional making by doctors.
Clinical inertia is the original term used to describe gaps in practice; and therapeutic inertia is now used interchangeably with it. The author illustrates his practice’s approach to overcoming therapeutic inertia. The National Institute for Clinical Studies was set up in Australia to get the best available evidence from health and medical research into everyday practice to help close these gaps.

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