A new Cochrane Database review finds that while there’s a lot of chatter about the success of retail clinics, hard data on their effectiveness has yet to materialize. Chen et al, searched CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, and six other databases, as well as two trial registers, and conducted reference checking and citations searching, looking for any trials and controlled before–after studies. While they acknowledge “retail clinics have become popular alternatives to traditional physician offices and emergency rooms for people with low-acuity illnesses,” they found no data that assess the quality of care and patient satisfaction. They also observe that the clinics “have been controversial” (in the medical profession). Their literature search turned up 6,587 citations, of which 65 were considered to be potentially relevant. Further review of those eliminated all but 12 articles; independent author review ultimately resulted in their exclusion, as well.

Researchers Find Talk is Cheap in Assessing Retail Clinic Success
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