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Pharmaceutical policies: effects of financial incentives for prescribers

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, August 2015
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (92nd percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (67th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
20 tweeters


29 Dimensions

Readers on

239 Mendeley
1 CiteULike
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Pharmaceutical policies: effects of financial incentives for prescribers
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, August 2015
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd006731.pub2
Pubmed ID

Arash Rashidian, Amir-Houshang Omidvari, Yasaman Vali, Heidrun Sturm, Andrew D Oxman


The proportion of total healthcare expenditures spent on drugs has continued to grow in countries of all income categories. Policy-makers are under pressure to control pharmaceutical expenditures without adversely affecting quality of care. Financial incentives seeking to influence prescribers' behaviour include budgetary arrangements at primary care and hospital settings (pharmaceutical budget caps or targets), financial rewards for target behaviours or outcomes (pay for performance interventions) and reduced benefit margin for prescribers based on medicine sales and prescriptions (pharmaceutical reimbursement rate reduction policies). This is the first update of the original version of this review. To determine the effects of pharmaceutical policies using financial incentives to influence prescribers' practices on drug use, healthcare utilisation, health outcomes and costs (expenditures). We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (searched 29/01/2015); MEDLINE, Ovid SP (searched 29/01/2015); EMBASE, Ovid SP (searched 29/01/2015); International Network for Rational Use of Drugs (INRUD) Bibliography (searched 29/01/2015); National Health Service (NHS) Economic Evaluation Database (searched 29/01/2015); EconLit - ProQuest (searched 02/02/2015); and Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index, Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Web of Knowledge (citation search for included studies searched 10/02/2015). We screened the reference lists of relevant reports and contacted study authors and organisations to identify additional studies. We included policies that intend to affect prescribing by means of financial incentives for prescribers. Included in this category are pharmaceutical budget caps or targets, pay for performance and drug reimbursement rate reductions and other financial policies, if they were specifically targeted at prescribing or drug utilisation. Policies in this review were defined as laws, rules, regulations and financial and administrative orders made or implemented by payers such as national or local governments, non-government organisations, private or social insurers and insurance-like organisations. One of the following outcomes had to be reported: drug use, healthcare utilisation, health outcomes or costs. The study had to be a randomised or non-randomised trial, an interrupted time series (ITS) analysis, a repeated measures study or a controlled before-after (CBA) study. At least two review authors independently assessed eligibility for inclusion of studies and risks of bias using Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care (EPOC) criteria and extracted data from the included studies. For CBA studies, we reported relative effects (e.g. adjusted relative change). The review team re-analysed all ITS results. When possible, the review team also re-analysed CBA data as ITS data. Eighteen evaluations (six new studies) of pharmaceutical policies from six high-income countries met our inclusion criteria. Fourteen studies evaluated pharmaceutical budget policies in the UK (nine studies), two in Germany and Ireland and one each in Sweden and Taiwan. Three studies assessed pay for performance policies in the UK (two) and the Netherlands (one). One study from Taiwan assessed a reimbursement rate reduction policy. ITS analyses had some limitations. All CBA studies had serious limitations. No study from low-income or middle-income countries met the inclusion criteria.Pharmaceutical budgets may lead to a modest reduction in drug use (median relative change -2.8%; low-certainty evidence). We are uncertain of the effects of the policy on drug costs or healthcare utilisation, as the certainty of such evidence has been assessed as very low. Effects of this policy on health outcomes were not reported. Effects of pay for performance policies on drug use and health outcomes are uncertain, as the certainty of such evidence has been assessed as very low. Effects of this policy on drug costs and healthcare utilisation have not been measured. Effects of the reimbursement rate reduction policy on drug use and drug costs are uncertain, as the certainty of such evidence has been assessed as very low. No included study assessed the effects of this policy on healthcare utilisation or health outcomes. Administration costs of the policies were not reported in any of the included studies. Although financial incentives are considered an important element in strategies to change prescribing patterns, limited evidence of their effects can be found. Effects of policies, including pay for performance policies, in improving quality of care and health outcomes remain uncertain. Because pharmaceutical policies have uncertain effects, and because they might cause harm as well as benefit, proper evaluation of these policies is needed. Future studies should consider the impact of these policies on health outcomes, drug use and overall healthcare expenditures, as well as on drug expenditures.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 20 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 239 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 2 <1%
Brazil 2 <1%
Sweden 1 <1%
India 1 <1%
Indonesia 1 <1%
United States 1 <1%
Unknown 231 97%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 54 23%
Researcher 46 19%
Student > Ph. D. Student 27 11%
Student > Bachelor 16 7%
Student > Doctoral Student 15 6%
Other 46 19%
Unknown 35 15%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 73 31%
Social Sciences 24 10%
Nursing and Health Professions 23 10%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 17 7%
Economics, Econometrics and Finance 16 7%
Other 42 18%
Unknown 44 18%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 21. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 01 August 2019.
All research outputs
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Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Altmetric has tracked 15,833,692 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 93rd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,300 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 23.5. This one has done well, scoring higher than 75% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 236,920 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 92% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 256 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 67% of its contemporaries.