Tests, treatments, and procedures for healthcare providers and consumers to question
Australia's peak health professional colleges, societies and associations have developed lists of recommendations of the tests, treatments, and procedures that healthcare providers and consumers should question.
Each recommendation is based on the latest available evidence. Importantly, they are not prescriptive but are intended as guidance to start a conversation about what is appropriate and necessary.
As each situation is unique, healthcare providers and consumers should use the recommendations to collaboratively formulate an appropriate healthcare plan together.
The Thoracic Society of Australia and New ZealandVisit page
In 2018 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians worked with a Lead Fellow nominated by The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) to review evidence for 12 paediatric thoracic recommendations on low-value care in paediatric thoracic medicine. These recommendations were the subject of email discussions and deliberation by members of the Paediatric Special Interest Group (SIG) of the TSANZ. They were further discussed at a workshop held at a meeting of the Asia Pacific Society of Respirology in 2017, which included TSANZ members. Based on the feedback provided at this workshop and through email discussions with members of the SIG, four were removed and two of the original 12 were considered for inclusion in the final recommendations with overwhelming support. Members of the Paediatric SIG were then invited to choose three out of the remaining six through an email based poll. This served as the basis for final recommendations, which were further refined and developed through successive drafts based on the input of the Lead Fellow, the results of consultation with other specialty groups and the views of the TSANZ Board.
In 2020 TSANZ worked with RACP’s Policy & Advocacy team as part of the Evolve program to develop a long list of low-value practices and interventions that pertain to the specialty. Through extensive research and redrafting under the guidance of the TSANZ Central Office and members of the TSANZ Board, the list was condensed to the top-5 recommendations for reducing low-value practices in adult thoracic medicine. After several rounds of internal consultations and revisions, the list of recommendations was subject to an extensive review process that involved key College societies with an interest in or professional engagement with thoracic medicine.
Per usual processes, the recommendations were then consulted with other medical colleges through Choosing Wisely Australia. Feedback received in the consultations led to further work and refinements by Policy & Advocacy and TSANZ, which approved these top-5 recommendations.
Faculty of Pain Medicine, ANZCAVisit page
The Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM), ANZCA established a working group to develop a preliminary list of pain medicine related practices that were identified, using current clinical evidence, as having possible limited benefit, no benefit or which may potentially cause harm to patients. An online survey tool was used to survey all FPM fellows and trainees inviting them to rank these recommendations and to provide any comment related to them. This engagement facilitated consensus and informed the Fellows and trainees about FPM’s involvement with the Choosing Wisely campaign.
FPM's final list of 5 Choosing Wisely recommendations reflects those that were the most broadly supported by the clinicians and which were considered to be the most relevant to community practice.
FPM Board directed that a poll of the fellowship be conducted to assess support for a sixth Choosing Wisely recommendation regarding the role of medicinal cannabis in chronic non-cancer pain treatment. The survey question was very similar to the final wording of the recommendation, and was supported by 79% of the fellows who responded (more than 25% of the active fellowship).
The final draft wording of the recommendation, explanation and list of key references was then approved by the Board and sent to Choosing Wisely for consideration by the Representative Panel. Feedback obtained from that consultation was then collated and discussed at the following Board meeting before some minor amendments were made to clarify the explanation section of the recommendation.
The Royal College of Pathologists of AustralasiaVisit page
- Do not perform PSA testing for prostate cancer screening in men with no symptoms and whose life expectancy is less than 7 years.
Restrict the use of serum tumour marker tests to the monitoring of a cancer known to produce these markers. There may be a role, however, for tumour marker measurement in the initial investigation and assessment of high risk or symptomatic individuals.
A list of ten items was compiled after reviewing international literature associated with the Choosing Wisely campaign in Northern America. The College’s advisory committees were canvassed for further relevant evidence based literature and their expert opinions were sought.
The ten items were then adopted as a College Position Statement titled ‘Inappropriate Pathology Requesting’. This list was then sent to RCPA Fellows and Trainees based in Australia to rank the top five tests to include in the Australian Choosing Wisely initiative. The five items selected were approved by both the RCPA's Board of Professional Practice and Quality and the RCPA Board of Directors.
The Royal Australian College of General PractitionersVisit page
Recommendations 1 - 5 (April 2015)
All RACGP members were invited, and five GPs selected, to join the Choosing Wisely panel. They raised 28 issues, researched these and voted on a shortlist of 10. The voting for this shortlist was based on the amount of supporting evidence available, the degree of importance for patients, and the frequency of the test or treatment being used by Australian GPs. Opinion from the entire College membership was then sought via online survey, to choose five of the shortlisted 10. Additional free-text comment was encouraged, with good response rates. This national vote determined the final five topics.
Following an NPS Representatives meeting, two on that list were found to duplicate other Colleges' choices, and it was felt the RACGP could endorse these rather than replicate them. Therefore the next two highest voted options were selected instead.
Recommendations 6-10 (March 2016)
The RACGP Working Group established for Wave 1 of Choosing Wisely identified 32 candidate topics for Wave 2, then shortlisted fifteen, spread across four categories – screening, imaging, pathology and treatment. The shortlisting criteria were: quality of supporting evidence; importance for patients; and number of Australian GPs using the test or treatment. A dedicated workshop was held at the RACGP Annual Scientific Meeting, ‘GP15’, and the entire RACGP membership was asked to vote for their ‘top five’ via online survey. Additional free-text comment was encouraged, with good response rates. The top five topics from this national vote were written up by the Working Group and reviewed by the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of RadiologistsVisit page
- Don’t routinely use more than one fraction for palliation of non-complex bone metastases.
- Don't routinely add adjuvant whole-brain radiation therapy to stereotactic radiosurgery for limited brain metastases.
- Don’t initiate whole-breast radiation therapy as a part of breast conservation therapy in women age ≥50 years with early-stage invasive breast cancer without considering shorter treatment schedules.
- Don’t initiate management of low risk prostate cancer without discussing active surveillance.
Clinical radiology recommendations 1-6 (April 2015)
A team of five Lead Radiologists were nominated to guide RANZCR's Choosing Wisely contribution. These Lead Radiologists analysed previous work completed by RANZCR, in particular a series of Education Modules for Appropriate Imaging Referrals.
These modules had been developed from an extensive evidence base and with multiple stakeholder input. Using the evidence from the Education Modules, the Lead Radiologists developed a draft recommendations list, which was then further developed and endorsed by RANZCR's Quality and Safety Committee, before being circulated to the RANZCR membership for consultation with a request for alternative recommendations. Member feedback was reviewed by the Lead Radiologists prior to ratification of the final recommendations by the Faculty of Clinical Radiology Council. The final six items selected were those that were felt to meet the goals of Choosing Wisely, i.e. those which are frequently requested or which might expose patients to unnecessary radiation.
Due to the fundamental role of diagnostic imaging in supporting diagnosis across the healthcare system, RANZCR worked closely with other Colleges throughout the project via the Advisory Panel. Following identification of two common recommendations with the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, it was agreed by both Colleges to present these items jointly.
Radiation oncology recommendations 7-10 (September 2021)
Recommendations relating to radiation oncology from the Choosing Wisely and Choosing Wisely Canada were circulated around the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Council to determine which recommendations were applicable to the Australian and New Zealand context. The selected recommendations were then put to the Quality Improvement and Economics and Workforce Committees, with each being asked to rank the recommendations. The five highest ranked recommendations were then put to the radiation oncology membership for consultation prior to being formally approved by the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Council. Recommendations 7-10 are adapted from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) 2013 and 2014 lists. Recommendation 11 is adapted from Choosing Wisely Canada’s Oncology list. Each organisation was approached for—and subsequently granted—approval to adapt these recommendations as part of the Choosing Wisely Australia campaign.
This initial list has now been reviewed with recommendations 7, 8 & 10 remaining unchanged, recommendation 9 has been updated based on the advice of the Faculty of Radiation Oncology Quality Improvement Committee and Recommendation 11 has been replaced based on the feedback of the Quality Improvement Committee and the Policy and Advocacy team.
The Endocrine Society of AustraliaVisit page
The Medical Affairs sub-committee of the Endocrine Society of Australia (ESA) collaborated with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to compile a list of 44 possible low-value interventions using desktop research.
The list was examined and refined down to 8 interventions: comprising 6 that were deemed sufficiently common or important to warrant consideration and two additional practices identified by the committee. A review of the evidence for these 8 was completed and circulated to the whole ESA membership for feedback via an on-line survey. Based on the results of the survey, which attracted 146 respondents, a top 5 was identified.
Medical Oncology Group of AustraliaVisit page
- Do not routinely offer pharmacological venous thromboembolism (VTE) prophylaxis to ambulatory outpatients who are undergoing oncological treatment.
- Do not perform routine cancer screening, or surveillance for a new primary cancer, in the majority of patients with metastatic disease.
Avoid tests (biomarkers and imaging) for recurrent cancer in previously treated asymptomatic patients unless there is evidence that early detection of recurrence can improve survival or quality of life; including avoiding surveillance testing (biomarkers) or imaging (PET, CT and radionuclide bone scans) for asymptomatic individuals who have been treated for breast cancer with curative intent.
- Do not perform serum tumour marker tests except to evaluate or monitor a cancer known to produce these markers.
- Avoid cytotoxic chemotherapy in patients with advanced cancer who are unlikely to benefit from chemotherapy (ECOG performance status 3 or 4) and continue to focus on symptom relief and palliative care.
An Evolve working group of MOGA members was established and compiled an initial list of 79 potentially low-value tests, treatments, and other clinical practices in medical oncology, drawing on the results of a desktop review and clinical experience. Anonymised email feedback on the list was collated and analysed and the initial list was reduced to 64 items. These were divided into seven categories, ranging from ‘Diagnosis and staging’ to ‘Therapy’. An online survey allowed members of the working group to anonymously choose the top six or the top three from each category (depending on the number in the category). From this, a list of the top-28 items was then presented to the MOGA Executive Committee. Following anonymised email feedback, this list was further reduced to 24 items. Each member of the Committee was invited to nominate their top-12 of these. Responses were consolidated and a list of 11 items compiled, which served as the basis of a final online survey, to which the entire MOGA membership was invited to respond. Respondents assigned a score of 1 to 5 for each item based on their level of agreement with each. Scores for each item were averaged and the top-5 list produced.
Haematology Society of Australia and New ZealandVisit page
- Do not perform baseline or routine surveillance CT scans or bone marrow biopsy in patients with asymptomatic early stage chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
- Limit surveillance computed tomography (CT) scans in asymptomatic patients with confirmed complete remission following curative intent treatment for aggressive lymphoma – except for patients on a clinical trial
The Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand (HSANZ) council, which includes 9 state representatives, convened to form the working group to produce a ‘top 5’ list for haematology.
Drawing on the list produced by the American and Canadian Societies of Haematology, the working group compiled a list of 5 clinical practices in haematology which may be overused, inappropriate or of limited effectiveness in a given clinical context.
This list was then sent out to all HSANZ members seeking feedback on whether these items fully captured the concerns of clinicians in an Australasian haematology medicine context and if not, whether any items should be omitted and/or new items added.
The criteria used to rate the practices were strength of evidence, significance in haematology and whether haematologists could make a difference in influencing the incidence of the practice in question.
Feedback on the items and the recommendations was received from 11 institutional haematology departments (following intradepartmental consultation) as well as an additional 10 individuals.
Based on these responses, the top 5 items were selected and finalised.
Human Genetics Society of AustralasiaVisit page
A preliminary list was developed by the Lead Fellow which was then distributed to all the clinical geneticists in Australia who are all members of the Australasian Association of Clinical Geneticists (AACG), a special interest group of the HGSA. Following feedback the topic was revisited at a meeting of this group during the annual scientific conference of the HGSA, after which the list was finalised.
Gastroenterological Society of AustraliaVisit page
- Do not undertake faecal occult blood testing in patients who report rectal bleeding, or require investigation for iron deficiency or gastrointestinal symptoms
- Do not perform a follow-up endoscopy less than three years after two consecutive findings of no dysplasia from endoscopies with appropriate four quadrant biopsies for patients diagnosed with Barrett’s Oesophagus.
The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) initially engaged its members through its regular online communications, sharing the aims of the EVOLVE initiative, as well as background information on the US and Canadian versions of Choosing Wisely. Members were provided with a copy of the five recommendations made by the American Gastroenterology Association. GESA also consulted externally, with the EVOLVE Lead Fellow addressing the GUT club and the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Group on the initiative. All members of GESA were invited to submit proposed items for the Top 5 list. The GESA Council reviewed all items before reaching consensus on the recommended final list. A review of the evidence for the shortlisted items was then undertaken and the final list and its rationales were signed off by the GESA Council in May 2016.
Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine & the Australasian Chapter of Palliative MedicineVisit page
Fellows from the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine and Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine (ANZSPM/AChPM) convened a working group to produce an EVOLVE list for palliative medicine. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) assisted this working group in compiling a list of 15 clinical practices in palliative medicine which may be overused, inappropriate or of limited effectiveness in a given clinical context based on a desktop review of similar work done overseas.
This list was then sent out to all ANZSPM and AChPM members, seeking feedback on whether the items fully captured the concerns of clinicians in an Australasian palliative medicine context and if not, whether any items should be omitted and/or new items added. 40 responses to this email were received. Based on these, 3 items were removed leaving a shortlist of 12. An online survey was then sent to all ANZSPM and AChPM members asking respondents to rate each item against three criteria from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest), and to nominate any additional practices worthy of consideration.
The criteria used to rate the practices were strength of evidence, significance in palliative care and whether palliative care physicians could make a difference in influencing the incidence of the practice in question. Based on the 114 responses to this survey, the top 5 were selected.