NPS Media Releases – 1. Tricks of the Trade 2. Diagnostic Approach to Fatigue


An article in the latest edition of Australian Prescriber looks at the controversies of promoting drugs to doctors.
While direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs is prohibited in Australia, drugs are advertised to healthcare professionals. Author Paul Biegler, Adjunct research fellow at the Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, dissects the content of advertisements. 

The author’s research examines non-propositional content (for example, imagery that features fun activities, happy people or pleasing scenery), in which the advertiser aims to encourage good feelings about a product.    

‘The concern is that non-propositional content could lead health professionals to believe a drug is more beneficial or safer than the evidence suggests.’
Dr Biegler hopes that raising the issue in Australian Prescriber will encourage further thought and research. He encourages health professionals to analyse claims being made in advertisements for prescription drugs.

“If advertising of medicines to health professionals is to be properly regulated, research that quantifies the persuasive impact of non-propositional content is needed.”

Other articles in this issue include:

To read the full article ‘Tricks of the trade in drug promotion and others, see



The latest NPS MedicineWise interactive case study Fatigue: a diagnostic approach is now available online and has been based on a clinical scenario common in general practice.
The case study focuses on a 35-year-old female patient presenting with symptoms of fatigue and gives participants the opportunity to apply a diagnostic approach for three different presentations. Completion of the case study attracts continuing professional development (CPD) points for GPs, pharmacists and nurses.  

NPS MedicineWise clinical adviser Dr Andrew Boyden says the new online case study offers the opportunity to reflect on clinical decision making skills when a patient presents with fatigue.

“Understanding what a patient means by the term fatigue is a challenge in itself. People lead busy lives and it can be difficult to identify what is normal and what is indicative of a significant disorder,” says Dr Boyden.

“People presenting with fatigue are often sent for testing on their initial presentation. As there is no specific test for fatigue investigations need to be used selectively, keeping in mind the clinical context.”

In the Australian general practice setting, fatigue presents at a rate of 1.4 per 100 encounters. The case study is underpinned by the key principles outlined in the Fatigue: diagnostic approach in primary care* guideline published by Therapeutic Guidelines.
Case study participants are able to work through the clinical scenario with interactive questions and receive immediate feedback based on their responses.
The case study is easily accessible on a computer, smart phone or tablet and can be continued between different devices. It includes expert commentary and is designed to reflect clinical practice.

The case study covers several concepts including:

*  conditions commonly associated with fatigue

*  addressing psychosocial factors

*  use of clinical history, physical examination and pre-test probabilities to inform decisions on the  appropriate use of pathology testing in the initial diagnostic approach for fatigue

* identifying situations where watchful waiting is appropriate for patients presenting with fatigue

*  exploring techniques to manage patient expectations about pathology testing

*  implementing a systematic diagnostic approach to manage patients with fatigue within the therapeutic guidelines.

NPS MedicineWise case studies are free, continuing professional development activities for GPs, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals. Case studies are also recognised for the Quality Prescribing Incentive (QPI) of the Practice Incentives Program (PIP). For more information about the case study please go to and


* Australian Therapeutic Guidelines can be accessed at            


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