Research Article

Hormone replacement therapy in general practice: a survey of doctors in the MRC's general practice research framework.

BMJ 1991; 302 doi: (Published 01 June 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;302:1317
  1. H C Wilkes,
  2. T W Meade
  1. MRC Epidemiology and Medical Care Unit, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex.


    OBJECTIVES--To survey current prescribing practice for hormone replacement therapy among general practitioners and to elicit their views on the role of hormone replacement therapy in the prevention of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease; to determine whether they would participate in randomised controlled trials to evaluate the long term beneficial and adverse effects of hormone replacement therapy. DESIGN--Postal questionnaires to general practitioners throughout the United Kingdom. PARTICIPANTS--1268 general practitioners in the Medical Research Council's general practice research framework. RESULTS--1081 (85%) doctors in 220 (95%) practices responded. The doctors were currently prescribing hormone replacement therapy to an estimated 9% of their female patients aged 40 to 64, and 55% of doctors were prescribing opposed hormone replacement therapy (oestrogen plus progestogen) to more patients than a year previously. Over half the doctors would consider prescribing hormone replacement therapy for prevention of osteoporosis (670, 62%) and cardiovascular disease (611, 57%) to asymptomatic women. Overall, 79% of the doctors (851) would definitely or probably consider entering women who have had a hysterectomy into a randomised controlled trial comparing unopposed (oestrogen only) hormone replacement therapy with opposed hormone replacement therapy; 49% (524) would enter patients with a uterus into such a trial. Among a subsample, 85% (180/210) would consider entering patients without menopausal symptoms into a trial comparing hormone replacement therapy with no treatment (unopposed in patients who have had a hysterectomy, opposed in those with a uterus). CONCLUSION--There is considerable uncertainty among general practitioners as to the balance of beneficial and harmful effects of hormone replacement therapy in the long term, particularly relating to its use for prevention of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Most of these doctors would be prepared to participate in randomised controlled trials to determine the long term effects of this increasingly widely used treatment.