Educational Outreach Visits (a.k.a. Academic Detailing)

Principal Investigator: Thomas J. Van Hoof, M.D., Ed.D.

Brief Overview

Educational outreach visits (a provider-mediated intervention) consist of a trained person visiting a provider in her/his practice setting with information designed to improve the quality of patient care.  Often, the information brought to the practice is performance assessment and feedback of patient care data with peer and benchmark comparisons.  Based on a discussion of the data and the system of care within the practice or setting, the outreach worker can help the provider select appropriate interventions and (on subsequent visits) overcome common barriers to these interventions.


Health care providers, including both organizations and individual clinicians.

Core Components of Intervention

  • Mode of Delivery and Duration:  The content of the innovation is data and improvement strategies concerning any clinical area; the number and duration of visits varies based on need and resources.
  • Setting:  Educational outreach visits have been used in all settings of care, but primary care clinics and practices are most common.
  • Theoretical Basis:  Diffusion of innovations (Rogers, 2003).
  • Materials Available:  None


The most recent Cochrane Review of educational outreach  (both as a single intervention and as part of a multifaceted strategy) identified the intervention as one that has a small but consistent effect on prescribing behavior and one that has a small to modest effect on other types of clinician behavior.

Implementation History

A Connecticut-based group of researchers has applied educational outreach visits to quality improvement efforts in primary care (see Meehan et al., 2009; Van Hoof & Meehan, 2012).

Contact Info

Thomas J. Van Hoof, M.D., Ed.D.
School of Nursing
University of Connecticut
231 Glenbrook Road, Unit 2026
Storrs, CT 06269-2026
Phone: 860.486. 0575