Understanding the Context of High- and Low-Testosterone Prescribing Facilities in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA): a Qualitative Study

Guneet K. Jasuja*, Ryann L. Engle, Avy Skolnik, Adam J. Rose, Alexandra Male, Joel I. Reisman, Barbara G. Bokhour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Inappropriate testosterone use and variations in testosterone prescribing patterns exist in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) despite the presence of clinical guidelines. Objective: We examined system and clinician factors that contribute to patterns of potentially inappropriate testosterone prescribing in VHA. Design: Qualitative study using a positive deviance approach to understand practice variation in high- and low-testosterone prescribing sites. Participants: Twenty-two interview participants included primary care and specialty clinicians, key opinion leaders, and pharmacists at 3 high- and 3 low-testosterone prescribing sites. Approach: Semi-structured phone interviews were conducted, transcribed, and coded using a priori theoretical constructs and emergent themes. Case studies were developed for each site and a cross-case matrix was created to evaluate variation across high- and low-prescribing sites. Key Results: We identified four system-level domains related to variation in testosterone prescribing: organizational structures and processes specific to testosterone prescribing, availability of local guidance on testosterone prescribing, well-defined dissemination process for local testosterone polices, and engagement in best practices related to testosterone prescribing. Two clinician-level domains were also identified, specifically, structured initial testosterone prescribing process and specified follow-up testosterone prescribing process. High- and low-testosterone prescribing sites systematically varied in the four system-level domains, while the clinician-level domains looked similar across all sites. The third high-prescribing site was unusual in that it exhibited the four domains similar to the 3 low-prescribing sites at the time of our visit. This site had greatly reduced its prescribing of testosterone in the interim. Conclusions: Findings suggest that local organizational factors play an important role in influencing prescribing. Sites have the potential to transform their utilization patterns by providing access to specialty care expertise, an electronic health record-based system to facilitate guideline-concordant prescribing, well-defined dissemination processes for information, guidance from multiple sources, and clarity regarding best practices for prescribing.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2467-2474
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Society of General Internal Medicine (This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply).


  • prescribing
  • qualitative
  • system factors
  • testosterone


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