Introduction The French cystic fibrosis (CF) practice recommendations were published at the end of 2002. They advise each patient to be checked up at least once every 3 months in a reference centre for cystic fibrosis.
Objective To describe the activity of the four reference centres in the Rhône-Alpes area and the patients' follow-up.
Methods All patients with cystic fibrosis consulting one of the four CF centres between 1996 and 2005 were retrospectively included. All outpatient visits were recorded and classified according to (i) patient and year; and (ii) month and year. The two series were assessed graphically to determine a transition threshold, that is, the 2 consecutive years between which practices differed the most.
Results A total of 616 patients were included, representing 17 594 outpatient visits. The average number of visits per patient increased from 3.7 in 1996 to 5.0 in 2005, the graphical representation showed a sharp change between 2000 and 2001. Among patients with less than 4 visits in 2000, 88 of them visited a centre 4 times or more in 2001 (44%).
The annual number of outpatient visits went from 1035 to 2420. The monthly average number of outpatient visits was 86 in 1996 and 202 in 2005. The graphical representation of activity also showed a sharp change from 2001.
Conclusion We showed that the implementation of guidelines occurred the year before its official publication. We also showed that the growth of this implementation was sharp rather than gradual.