School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care

Postgraduate research profiles


Brett Montgomery

Phone: (+61 4) 9449 5152
Fax: (+61 8) 9384 6238


Start date

Feb 2007

Submission date

Feb 2011

Brett Montgomery

Brett Montgomery profile photo


An interview-based study of the decision to prescribe statins in general practice


In this project, I will explore general practitioners’ decision-making about the prescribing of statins and the factors that influence this decision-making.

I am interviewing general practitioners in Australia and Ireland. I will use semi-structured interviews with GPs to obtain data, which will be analysed with established qualitative methods in order to generate theories about the prescribing process and the influences thereon.

Why my research is important

The prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease is a challenge for health systems worldwide. “Statin” drugs (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors) have a major role in the pharmacological reduction of cardiovascular risk. They are among the most heavily prescribed and costly medications in many health systems, including Australia and Ireland.

Much of this prescribing occurs in general practice. In the past two decades a succession of large clinical trials has shown benefits of statins for various cardiovascular outcomes for an expanding group of potential patients.

However, as these trials have evolved to study populations at lower absolute cardiovascular risk, the absolute benefits demonstrated have diminished and therefore questions of cost-effectiveness and safety have become more prominent in the discourse about appropriate prescribing.

As general practice is the environment in which most of these statins are prescribed, it is important to understand the prescribing decision-making process of general practitioners. This understanding may help us to understand barriers to effective prescribing, limits to the translation of evidence into practice, how we may measure the quality of prescribing, and perhaps inform the design of future interventions to optimise prescribing.

Similar qualitative studies have been performed elsewhere, almost exclusively in the environment of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. There have been no such studies in Australia or the Republic of Ireland, which are health care environments that differ substantially from the UK NHS in terms of funding, organisation and prescribing policy.


  • PHCRED Researcher Development Program Fellowship


School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care

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