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Self-Reported Changes in Providers' Hormone Therapy Prescribing and Counseling Practices After the Women's Health Initiative

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Prescribing and counseling practices in hormone therapy (HT) since publication of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) trials have changed. Our objective was to compare changes by practice field and region.


Between December 2005 and May 2006, we mailed surveys to 938 practitioners from two large integrated health systems in the Northeastern and Northwestern United States. We received 736 responses and excluded 144 who do not prescribe/counsel about HT, leaving 592. Data included prescriber characteristics, knowledge about HT trials, and self-reported HT counseling and prescribing changes. We compared provider characteristics and HT counseling and prescribing by region and practice field (obstetrician/gynecology [OB/GYN] or primary care).


Respondents included 79 OB/GYNs and 513 primary care providers. OB/GYNs were more likely, than primary care providers to consider themselves experts regarding the Heart and Estrogen/progestin Replacement Study (HERS) and WHI trials (30.4% vs. 8.2%, p < 0.001). The majority (87%) were cautious about HT use, especially primary care providers (p < 0.01 compared to OB/GYNs). Respondents reported prescribing less oral unopposed estrogen (64%) and combination estrogen/progestin (81%) post-WHI. OB/GYNs were less likely to report decreases in oral unopposed estrogen use (p = 0.006). Use of lower-dose and transdermal products (low-dose estrogen, vaginal estrogen, estradiol vaginal ring) increased, especially by OB/GYNs.


Our study highlights numerous HT prescribing and counseling differences between primary care and OB/GYN providers. Reasons for these differences are unknown but may be related to self-reported WHI/HERS knowledge. HT formulations used in the WHI trials are being replaced by low-dose and alternate formulations. Studies to support this practice are needed.

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