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1.  Guidelines on uncomplicated urinary tract infections are difficult to follow: perceived barriers and suggested interventions 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:51.
Background
Urinary tract infections (UTI) are among the most common health problems seen in general practice. Evidence-based guidelines on UTI are available, but adherence to these guidelines varies widely among practitioners for reasons not well understood. The aim of this study was to identify the barriers to the implementation of a guideline on UTI perceived by Dutch general practitioners (GPs) and to explore interventions to overcome these barriers.
Methods
A focus group study, including 13 GPs working in general practices in the Netherlands, was conducted. Key recommendations on diagnosis and treatment of uncomplicated UTI were selected from the guideline. Barriers to guideline adherence and possible interventions to address these barriers were discussed. The focus group session was audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Barriers were classified according to an existing framework.
Results
Lack of agreement with the recommendations, unavailable and inconvenient materials (i.e. dipslides), and organisational constraints were perceived as barriers for the diagnostic recommendations. Barriers to implementing the treatment recommendations were lack of applicability and organisational constraints related to the availability of drugs in pharmacies. Suggested interventions were to provide small group education to GPs and practice staff members, to improve organisation and coordination of care in out of hour services, to improve the availability of preferred dosages of drugs, and to pilot-test guidelines regionally.
Conclusions
Despite sufficient knowledge of the recommendations on UTI, attitudinal and external barriers made it difficult to follow them in practice. The care concerning UTI could be optimized if these barriers are adequately addressed in implementation strategies. The feasibility and success of these strategies could be improved by involving the target group of the guideline in selecting useful interventions to address the barriers to implementation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-51
PMCID: PMC2908068  PMID: 20584276
2.  Perceived barriers to guideline adherence: A survey among general practitioners 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:98.
Background
Despite considerable efforts to promote and support guideline use, adherence is often suboptimal. Barriers to adherence vary not only across guidelines but also across recommendations within guidelines. The aim of this study was to assess the perceived barriers to guideline adherence among GPs by focusing on key recommendations within guidelines.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional electronic survey among 703 GPs in the Netherlands. Sixteen key recommendations were derived from four national guidelines. Six statements were included to address the attitudes towards guidelines in general. In addition, GPs were asked to rate their perceived adherence (one statement) and the perceived barriers (fourteen statements) for each of the key recommendations, based on an existing framework.
Results
264 GPs (38%) completed the questionnaire. Although 35% of the GPs reported difficulties in changing routines and habits to follow guidelines, 89% believed that following guidelines leads to improved patient care. Perceived adherence varied between 52 and 95% across recommendations (mean: 77%). The most perceived barriers were related to external factors, in particular patient ability and behaviour (mean: 30%) and patient preferences (mean: 23%). Lack of applicability of recommendations in general (mean: 22%) and more specifically to individual patients (mean: 25%) were also frequently perceived as barriers. The scores on perceived barriers differed largely between recommendations [minimum range 14%; maximum range 67%].
Conclusions
Dutch GPs have a positive attitude towards the NHG guidelines, report high adherence rates and low levels of perceived barriers. However, the perceived adherence and perceived barriers varied largely across recommendations. The most perceived barriers across recommendations are patient related, suggesting that current guidelines do not always adequately incorporate patient preferences, needs and abilities. It may be useful to provide tools such as decision aids, supporting the flexible use of guidelines to individual patients in practice.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-98
PMCID: PMC3197492  PMID: 21939542
3.  Developing a questionnaire to identify perceived barriers for implementing the Dutch physical therapy COPD clinical practice guideline 
Background
Clinical practice guidelines have been developed to assist healthcare practitioners in clinical decision making. Publication of clinical practice guidelines does not automatically lead to their uptake and barrier identification has been recognized as an important step in implementation planning. This study aimed at developing a questionnaire to identify perceived barriers for implementing the Dutch COPD guideline for physical therapists and its recommended measurement instruments.
Methods
An overall questionnaire, based on two existing questionnaires, was constructed to identify barriers and facilitators for implementing the COPD guideline. The construct of the questionnaire was assessed in a cross-sectional study among 246 chest physical therapists. Factor analysis was conducted to explore underlying dimensions. Psychometric properties were analyzed using Cronbach’s alpha. Barriers and facilitators were assessed using descriptive statistics.
Results
Some 139 physical therapists (57%) responded. Factor analysis revealed 4-factor and 5-factor solutions with an explained variance of 36% and 39% respectively. Cronbach’s alpha of the overall questionnaire was 0.90, and varied from 0.66 to 0.92 for the different factors. Underlying domains of the 5-factor solution were characterized as: attitude towards using measurement instruments, knowledge and skills of the physical therapist, applicability of the COPD guideline, required investment of time & money, and patient characteristics. Physical therapists showed a positive attitude toward using the COPD guideline. Main barriers for implementation were required time investment and financial constraints.
Conclusions
The construct of the questionnaire revealed relevant underlying domains for the identification of barriers and facilitators for implementing the COPD guideline. The questionnaire allowed for tailoring to the target group and may be used across health care professionals as basis for in-depth analysis of barriers to specific recommendations in guidelines. The results of the questionnaire alone do not provide sufficient information to inform the development of an implementation strategy. The infrastructure for developing the guideline can be used for addressing key barriers by the guideline development group, using the questionnaire as well as in-depth analysis such as focus group interviews. Further development of methods for prospective identification of barriers and consequent tailoring of implementation interventions is required.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-159
PMCID: PMC3645972  PMID: 23631555
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Data collection tools; Guideline; Physical therapy; Pulmonary rehabilitation
4.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
Background
A gap exists between evidence and practice regarding the management of cardiovascular risk factors. This gap could be narrowed if systematically developed clinical practice guidelines were effectively implemented in clinical practice. We evaluated the effects of a tailored intervention to support the implementation of systematically developed guidelines for the use of antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized trial comparing a tailored intervention to passive dissemination of guidelines in 146 general practices in two geographical areas in Norway. Each practice was randomized to either the tailored intervention (70 practices; 257 physicians) or control group (69 practices; 244 physicians). Patients started on medication for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia during the study period and all patients already on treatment that consulted their physician during the trial were included. A multifaceted intervention was tailored to address identified barriers to change. Key components were an educational outreach visit with audit and feedback, and computerized reminders linked to the medical record system. Pharmacists conducted the visits. Outcomes were measured for all eligible patients seen in the participating practices during 1 y before and after the intervention. The main outcomes were the proportions of (1) first-time prescriptions for hypertension where thiazides were prescribed, (2) patients assessed for cardiovascular risk before prescribing antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs, and (3) patients treated for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia for 3 mo or more who had achieved recommended treatment goals.
The intervention led to an increase in adherence to guideline recommendations on choice of antihypertensive drug. Thiazides were prescribed to 17% of patients in the intervention group versus 11% in the control group (relative risk 1.94; 95% confidence interval 1.49–2.49, adjusted for baseline differences and clustering effect). Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
Conclusions
Our tailored intervention had a significant impact on prescribing of antihypertensive drugs, but was ineffective in improving the quality of other aspects of managing hypertension and hypercholesterolemia in primary care.
Editors' Summary
Background.
An important issue in health care is “getting research into practice,” in other words, making sure that, when evidence from research has established the best way to treat a disease, doctors actually use that approach with their patients. In reality, there is often a gap between evidence and practice.
  An example concerns the treatment of people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or high cholesterol. These are common conditions, and both increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Research has shown that the risks can be lowered if patients with these conditions are given drugs that lower blood pressure (antihypertensives) and drugs that lower cholesterol. There are many types of these drugs now available. In many countries, the health authorities want family doctors (general practitioners) to make better use of these drugs. They want doctors to prescribe them to everyone who would benefit, using the type of drugs found to be most effective. When there is a choice of drugs that are equally effective, they want doctors to use the cheapest type. (In the case of antihypertensives, an older type, known as thiazides, is very effective and also very cheap, but many doctors prefer to give their patients newer, more expensive alternatives.) Health authorities have issued guidelines to doctors that address these issues. However, it is not easy to change prescribing practices, and research in several countries has shown that issuing guidelines has only limited effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted—in two parts of Norway—to compare the effects on prescribing practices of what they called the “passive dissemination of guidelines” with a more active approach, where the use of the guidelines was strongly promoted and encouraged.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They worked with 146 general practices. In half of them the guidelines were actively promoted. The remaining were regarded as a control group; they were given the guidelines but no special efforts were made to encourage their use. It was decided at random which practices would be in which group; this approach is called a randomized controlled trial. The methods used to actively promote use of the guidelines included personal visits to the practices by pharmacists and use of a computerized reminder system. Information was then collected on the number of patients who, when first treated for hypertension, were prescribed a thiazide. Other information collected included whether patients had been properly assessed for their level of risk (for strokes and heart attacks) before antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs were given. In addition, the researchers recorded whether the recommended targets for improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol level had been reached.
Only 11% of those patients visiting the control group of practices who should have been prescribed thiazides, according to the guidelines, actually received them. Of those seen by doctors in the practices where the guidelines were actively promoted, 17% received thiazides. According to statistical analysis, the increase achieved by active promotion is significant. Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even in the active promotion group, the great majority of patients (83%) were still not receiving treatment according to the guidelines. However, active promotion of guidelines is more effective than simply issuing the guidelines by themselves. The study also demonstrates that it is very hard to change prescribing practices. The efforts made here to encourage the doctors to change were considerable, and although the results were significant, they were still disappointing. Also disappointing is the fact that achievement of treatment goals was no better in the active-promotion group. These issues are discussed further in a Perspective about this study (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030229).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134.
• The Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians has a page on heart disease
• The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia's pages on heart diseases and vascular diseases
• Information from NHS Direct (UK National Health Service) about heart attack and stroke
• Another PLoS Medicine article has also addressed trends in thiazide prescribing
Passive dissemination of management guidelines for hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia was compared with active promotion. Active promotion led to significant improvement in antihypertensive prescribing but not other aspects of management.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
5.  Swedish general practitioners’ attitudes towards treatment guidelines – a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15(1):3.
Background
Drug therapy in primary care is a challenge for general practitioners (GPs) and the prescribing decision is influenced by several factors. GPs obtain drug information in different ways, from evidence-based sources, their own or others’ experiences, or interactions with opinion makers, patients or colleagues. The need for objective drug information sources instead of drug industry-provided information has led to the establishment of local drug and therapeutic committees. They annually produce and implement local treatment guidelines in order to promote rational drug use. This study describes Swedish GPs’ attitudes towards locally developed evidence-based treatment guidelines.
Methods
Three focus group interviews were performed with a total of 17 GPs working at both public and private primary health care centres in Skåne in southern Sweden. Transcripts were analysed by conventional content analysis. Codes, categories and themes were derived from data during the analysis.
Results
We found two main themes: GP-related influencing factors and External influencing factors. The first theme emerged when we put together four main categories: Expectations and perceptions about existing local guidelines, Knowledge about evidence-based prescribing, Trust in development of guidelines, and Beliefs about adherence to guidelines. The second theme included the categories Patient-related aspects, Drug industry-related aspects, and Health economic aspects. The time-saving aspect, trust in evidence-based market-neutral guidelines and patient safety were described as key motivating factors for adherence. Patient safety was reported to be more important than adherence to guidelines or maintaining a good patient-doctor relationship. Cost containment was perceived both as a motivating factor and a barrier for adherence to guidelines. GPs expressed concerns about difficulties with adherence to guidelines when managing patients with drugs from other prescribers. GPs experienced a lack of time to self-inform and difficulties managing direct-to-consumer drug industry information.
Conclusions
Patient safety, trust in development of evidence-based recommendations, the patient-doctor encounter and cost containment were found to be key factors in GPs’ prescribing. Future studies should explore the need for transparency in forming and implementing guidelines, which might potentially increase adherence to evidence-based treatment guidelines in primary care.
doi:10.1186/s12875-014-0199-0
PMCID: PMC4276045
Qualitative research; Focus groups; Guidelines; Attitudes; Primary care; GPs; Adherence; Drug therapy
6.  Barriers and facilitators to implement shared decision making in multidisciplinary sciatica care: a qualitative study 
Background
The Dutch multidisciplinary sciatica guideline recommends that the team of professionals involved in sciatica care and the patient together decide on surgical or prolonged conservative treatment (shared decision making [SDM]). Despite this recommendation, SDM is not yet integrated in sciatica care. Existing literature concerning barriers and facilitators to SDM implementation mainly focuses on one discipline only, whereas multidisciplinary care may involve other barriers and facilitators, or make these more complex for both professionals and patients. Therefore, this qualitative study aims to identify barriers and facilitators perceived by patients and professionals for SDM implementation in multidisciplinary sciatica care.
Methods
We conducted 40 semi-structured interviews with professionals involved in sciatica care (general practitioners, physical therapists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, and orthopedic surgeons) and three focus groups among patients (six to eight per group). The interviews and focus groups were audiotaped and transcribed in full. Reported barriers and facilitators were classified according to the framework of Grol and Wensing. The software package Atlas.ti 7.0 was used for analysis.
Results
Professionals reported 53 barriers and 5 facilitators, and patients 35 barriers and 18 facilitators for SDM in sciatica care. Professionals perceived most barriers at the level of the organizational context, and facilitators at the level of the individual professional. Patients reported most barriers and facilitators at the level of the individual professional. Several barriers and facilitators correspond with barriers and facilitators found in the literature (e.g., lack of time, motivation) but also new barriers and facilitators were identified. Many of these new barriers mentioned by both professionals and patients were related to the multidisciplinary setting, such as lack of visibility, lack of trust in expertise of other disciplines, and lack of communication between disciplines.
Conclusions
This study identified barriers and facilitators for SDM in the multidisciplinary sciatica setting, by both professionals and patients. It is clear that more barriers than facilitators are perceived for implementation of SDM in sciatica care. Newly identified barriers and facilitators are related to the multidisciplinary care setting. Therefore, an effective implementation strategy of SDM in a multidisciplinary setting such as in sciatica care should focus on these barriers and facilitators.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-8-95
PMCID: PMC3765956  PMID: 23968140
Sciatica; Lumbar radicular syndrome; Implementation strategy; Shared decision making; Barriers and facilitators; Multidisciplinary; Patients; Professionals; Providers
7.  Acceptance and perceived barriers of implementing a guideline for managing low back in general practice 
Background
Implementation of guidelines in clinical practice is difficult. In 2003, the German College of General Practitioners and Family Physicians (DEGAM) released an evidence-based guideline for the management of low back pain (LBP) in primary care. The objective of this study is to explore the acceptance of guideline content and perceived barriers to implementation.
Methods
Seventy-two general practitioners (GPs) participating in quality circles within the framework of an educational intervention study for guideline implementation evaluated the LBP-guideline and its practicability with a standardised questionnaire. In addition, statements of group discussions were recorded using the metaplan technique and were incorporated in the discussion.
Results
Most GPs agree with the guideline content but believe that guideline stipulations are not congruent with patient wishes. Non-adherence to the guideline and contradictory information for patients by other professionals (e.g., GPs, orthopaedic surgeons, physiotherapists) are important barriers to guideline adherence. Almost half of the GPs have no access to recommended multimodal pain programs for patients with chronic LBP.
Conclusion
Promoting adherence to the LBP guideline requires more than enhancing knowledge about evidence-based management of LBP. Public education and an interdisciplinary consensus are important requirements for successful guideline implementation into daily practice. Guideline recommendations need to be adapted to the infrastructure of the health care system.
Trial registration
BMBF Grant Nr. 01EM0113. FORIS (database for research projects in social science) Reg #: 20040116 [25].
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-3-7
PMCID: PMC2275295  PMID: 18257923
8.  How Evidence-Based Are the Recommendations in Evidence-Based Guidelines? 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e250.
Background
Treatment recommendations for the same condition from different guideline bodies often disagree, even when the same randomized controlled trial (RCT) evidence is cited. Guideline appraisal tools focus on methodology and quality of reporting, but not on the nature of the supporting evidence. This study was done to evaluate the quality of the evidence (based on consideration of its internal validity, clinical relevance, and applicability) underlying therapy recommendations in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
Methods and Findings
A cross-sectional analysis of cardiovascular risk management recommendations was performed for three different conditions (diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and hypertension) from three pan-national guideline panels (from the United States, Canada, and Europe). Of the 338 treatment recommendations in these nine guidelines, 231 (68%) cited RCT evidence but only 105 (45%) of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. RCT-based evidence was downgraded most often because of reservations about the applicability of the RCT to the populations specified in the guideline recommendation (64/126 cases, 51%) or because the RCT reported surrogate outcomes (59/126 cases, 47%).
Conclusions
The results of internally valid RCTs may not be applicable to the populations, interventions, or outcomes specified in a guideline recommendation and therefore should not always be assumed to provide high-quality evidence for therapy recommendations.
From an analysis of cardiovascular risk-management recommendations in guidelines produced by pan-national panels, McAlister and colleagues concluded that fewer than half were based on high-quality evidence.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Until recently, doctors largely relied on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with high blood pressure (hypertension), for example, the doctor had to decide whether to recommend lifestyle changes or to prescribe drugs to reduce the blood pressure. If he or she chose the latter, he or she then had to decide which drug to prescribe, set a target blood pressure, and decide how long to wait before changing the prescription if this target was not reached. But, over the past decade, numerous clinical practice guidelines have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations to help doctors make treatment decisions like these. For each guideline, experts have searched the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluated the quality of that evidence, and then made recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
The recommendations made in different clinical practice guidelines vary, in part because they are based on evidence of varying quality. To help clinicians decide which recommendations to follow, some guidelines indicate the strength of their recommendations by grading them, based on the methods used to collect the underlying evidence. Thus, a randomized clinical trial (RCT)—one in which patients are randomly allocated to different treatments without the patient or clinician knowing the allocation—provides higher-quality evidence than a nonrandomized trial. Similarly, internally valid trials—in which the differences between patient groups are solely due to their different treatments and not to other aspects of the trial—provide high-quality evidence. However, grading schemes rarely consider the size of studies and whether they have focused on clinical or so-called “surrogate” measures. (For example, an RCT of a treatment to reduce heart or circulation [“cardiovascular”] problems caused by high blood pressure might have death rate as a clinical measure; a surrogate endpoint would be blood pressure reduction.) Most guidelines also do not consider how generalizable (applicable) the results of a trial are to the populations, interventions, and outcomes specified in the guideline recommendation. In this study, the researchers have investigated the quality of the evidence underlying recommendations for cardiovascular risk management in nine evidence-based clinical practice guides using these additional criteria.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted the recommendations for managing cardiovascular risk from the current US, Canadian, and European guidelines for the management of diabetes, abnormal blood lipid levels (dyslipidemia), and hypertension. They graded the quality of evidence for each recommendation using the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) grading scheme, which considers the type of study, its internal validity, its clinical relevance, and how generally applicable the evidence is considered to be. Of 338 evidence-based recommendations, two-thirds were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, but only half of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. The evidence underlying 64 of the guideline recommendations failed to achieve a high CHEP grade because the RCT data were collected in a population of people with different characteristics to those covered by the guideline. For example, a recommendation to use spironolactone to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension was based on an RCT in which the participants initially had congestive heart failure with normal blood pressure. Another 59 recommendations were downgraded because they were based on evidence from RCTs that had not focused on clinical measures of effectiveness.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that although most of the recommendations for cardiovascular risk management therapies in the selected guidelines were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, less than one-third were based on high-quality evidence applicable to the populations, treatments, and outcomes specified in guideline recommendations. A limitation of this study is that it analyzed a subset of recommendations in only a few guidelines. Nevertheless, the findings serve to warn clinicians that evidence-based guidelines are not necessarily based on high-quality evidence. In addition, they emphasize the need to make the evidence base underlying guideline recommendations more transparent by using an extended grading system like the CHEP scheme. If this were done, the researchers suggest, it would help clinicians apply guideline recommendations appropriately to their individual patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040250.
• Wikipedia contains pages on evidence-based medicine and on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
• The National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on US national guidelines
• The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
• Information is available on the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) (in French and English)
• See information on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) working group, an organization that has developed an grading scheme similar to the CHEP scheme (in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040250
PMCID: PMC1939859  PMID: 17683197
9.  Characteristics of effective clinical guidelines for general practice. 
BACKGROUND: The use of clinical guidelines in general practice is often limited. Research on barriers to guideline adherence usually focuses on attitudinal factors. Factors linked to the guideline itself are much less studied. AIM: To identify characteristics of effective clinical guidelines for general practice, and to explore whether these differ between therapeutic and diagnostic recommendations. DESIGN OF STUDY: Analysis of performance data from an audit study of 200 general practitioners (GPs) in The Netherlands conducted in 1997. SETTING: Panel of 12 GPs in The Netherlands who were familiar with guideline methodology. METHOD: A set of 12 attributes, including six potential facilitators and six potential barriers to guideline use, was formulated. The panel assessed the presence of these attributes in 96 guideline recommendations formulated by the Dutch College of General Practitioners. The attributes of recommendations with high compliance rates (70% to 100%) were compared with those with low compliance rates (0% to 60%). RESULTS: Recommendations with high compliance rates were to a lesser extent those requiring new skills (7% compared with 22% in recommendations with low compliance rates), were less often part of a complex decision tree (12% versus 25%), were more compatible with existing norms and values in practice (87% versus 76%), and more often supported with evidence (47% versus 31%). For diagnostic recommendations, the ease of applying them and the potential (negative) reactions of patients were more relevant than for therapeutic recommendations. CONCLUSION: To bridge the gap between research and practice, the evidence as well as the applicability should be considered when formulating recommendations. If the recommendations are not compatible with existing norms and values, not easy to follow or require new knowledge and skills, appropriate implementation strategies should be designed to ensure change in daily practice.
PMCID: PMC1314503  PMID: 12569898
10.  Implementing clinical guidelines in psychiatry: a qualitative study of perceived facilitators and barriers 
BMC Psychiatry  2010;10:8.
Background
Translating scientific evidence into daily practice is complex. Clinical guidelines can improve health care delivery, but there are a number of challenges in guideline adoption and implementation. Factors influencing the effective implementation of guidelines remain poorly understood. Understanding of barriers and facilitators is important for development of effective implementation strategies. The aim of this study was to determine perceived facilitators and barriers to guideline implementation and clinical compliance to guidelines for depression in psychiatric care.
Methods
This qualitative study was conducted at two psychiatric clinics in Stockholm, Sweden. The implementation activities at one of the clinics included local implementation teams, seminars, regular feedback and academic detailing. The other clinic served as a control and only received guidelines by post. Data were collected from three focus groups and 28 individual, semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was used to identify themes emerging from the interview data.
Results
The identified barriers to, and facilitators of, the implementation of guidelines could be classified into three major categories: (1) organizational resources, (2) health care professionals' individual characteristics and (3) perception of guidelines and implementation strategies. The practitioners in the implementation team and at control clinics differed in three main areas: (1) concerns about control over professional practice, (2) beliefs about evidence-based practice and (3) suspicions about financial motives for guideline introduction.
Conclusions
Identifying the barriers to, and facilitators of, the adoption of recommendations is an important way of achieving efficient implementation strategies. The findings of this study suggest that the adoption of guidelines may be improved if local health professionals actively participate in an ongoing implementation process and identify efficient strategies to overcome barriers on an organizational and individual level. Getting evidence into practice and implementing clinical guidelines are dependent upon more than practitioners' motivation. There are factors in the local context, e.g. culture and leadership, evaluation, feedback on performance and facilitation, -that are likely to be equally influential.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-10-8
PMCID: PMC2822755  PMID: 20089141
11.  The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis: an electronic guideline implementability appraisal 
Background
Clinical guidelines are intended to improve healthcare. However, even if guidelines are excellent, their implementation is not assured. In subfertility care, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) guidelines have been inventoried, and their methodological quality has been assessed. To improve the impact of the ESHRE guidelines and to improve European subfertility care, it is important to optimise the implementability of guidelines. We therefore investigated the implementation barriers of the ESHRE guideline with the best methodological quality and evaluated the used instrument for usability and feasibility.
Methods
We reviewed the ESHRE guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis to assess its implementability. We used an electronic version of the guideline implementability appraisal (eGLIA) instrument. This eGLIA tool consists of 31 questions grouped into 10 dimensions. Seven items address the guideline as a whole, and 24 items assess the individual recommendations in the guideline. The eGLIA instrument identifies factors that influence the implementability of the guideline recommendations. These factors can be divided into facilitators that promote implementation and barriers that oppose implementation. A panel of 10 experts from three European countries appraised all 36 recommendations of the guideline. They discussed discrepancies in a teleconference and completed a questionnaire to evaluate the ease of use and overall utility of the eGLIA instrument.
Results
Two of the 36 guideline recommendations were straightforward to implement. Five recommendations were considered simply statements because they contained no actions. The remaining 29 recommendations were implementable with some adjustments. We found facilitators of the guideline implementability in the quality of decidability, presentation and formatting, apparent validity, and novelty or innovation of the recommendations. Vaguely defined actions, lack of facilities, immeasurable outcomes, and inflexibility within the recommendations formed barriers to implementation. The eGLIA instrument was generally useful and easy to use. However, assessment with the eGLIA instrument is very time-consuming.
Conclusions
The ESHRE guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis could be improved to facilitate its implementation in daily practice. The eGLIA instrument is a helpful tool for identifying obstacles to implementation of a guideline. However, we recommend a concise version of this instrument.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-7
PMCID: PMC3034686  PMID: 21247418
12.  Identifying barriers and tailoring interventions to improve the management of urinary tract infections and sore throat: a pragmatic study using qualitative methods 
Background
Theories of behaviour change indicate that an analysis of factors that facilitate or impede change is helpful when trying to influence professional practice. The aim of this study was to identify barriers to implementing evidence-based guidelines for urinary tract infection and sore throat in general practice in Norway, and to tailor interventions to address these barriers.
Methods
We used a checklist to identify barriers and possible interventions to address these in an iterative process that included a review of the literature, brainstorming, focus groups, a pilot study, small group discussions and interviews.
Results
We identified at least one barrier for each category. Both guidelines recommended increased use of telephone consultations and reduced use of laboratory tests, and the barriers and the interventions were similar for the two guidelines. The complexity of changing routines involving patients, general practitioners and general practitioner assistants, loss of income with telephone consultations, fear of overlooking serious disease, perceived patient expectations and lack of knowledge about the evidence for the guidelines were the most prominent barriers. The interventions that were tailored to address these barriers included support for change processes in the practices, increasing the fee for telephone consultations, patient information leaflets and computer-based decision support and reminders.
Conclusion
A systematic approach using qualitative methods helped identify barriers and generate ideas for tailoring interventions to support the implementation of guidelines for the management of urinary tract infections and sore throat. Lack of resources limited our ability to address all of the barriers adequately.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-3-3
PMCID: PMC150569  PMID: 12622873
13.  Barriers to guideline implementation and educational needs of general practitioners regarding heart failure: a qualitative study 
Objectives: A clinical practice guideline (CPG) contains specifically developed recommendations that can serve physicians as a decision aid in evidence-based practice. The implementation of heart failure (HF) CPGs represents a challenge in general practice. As part of the development of a tailored curriculum, aim of this study was to identify barriers of guideline adherence and needs for medical education (CME) in HF care.
Methods: We conducted a modified focus group with elements of a workshop of three hours duration. Thirteen GPs collected and discussed together and parallel in smaller groups barriers of guideline implementation. Afterwards they performed a needs assessment for a tailored CME curriculum for chronic HF. The content of the discussions was analysed qualitatively according to Mayring and categorised thematically.
Results: Barriers of guideline adherence were found in the following areas: doctor: procedural knowledge (knowledge gaps), communicative and organisational skills (e.g. time management) and attitude (dissatisfaction with time-money-relation). Patients: individual case-related problems (multimorbidity, psychiatric comorbidity, expectations and beliefs). Doctor and patient: Adherence and barriers of communication. Main measures for improvement of care concerned the areas of the identified barriers of guideline adherence with the focus on application-oriented training of the abovementioned procedural knowledge and skills, but also the supply of tools (like patient information leaflets) and patient education.
Conclusion: For a CME-curriculum for HF tailored to the needs of GPs, a comprehensive educational approach seems necessary. It should be broad-based and include elements of knowledge and skills to be addressed and trained case-related. Additional elements should include support in the implementation of organisational processes in the practice and patient education.
doi:10.3205/zma000816
PMCID: PMC3374142  PMID: 22737201
heart failure; family practice; clinical practice guidelines; qualitative research; continuing medical education
14.  Physicians Report Barriers to Deliver Best Practice Care for Asplenic Patients: A Cross-Sectional Survey 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17302.
Background
Current management of asplenic patients is not in compliance with best practice standards, such as defined by the British Committee for Standards in Haematology. To improve quality of care, factors inhibiting best practice care delivery need to be identified first. With this study, we aimed to identify and quantify physicians' barriers to adhere to best practice management of asplenic patients in the Netherlands.
Methods and Principal Findings
A cross-sectional survey, preceded by multiple focus group discussions, was performed among Dutch physicians responsible for prevention of infections in asplenic patients, including specialists (of Internal medicine and Surgery) and general practitioners (GPs). Forty seven GPs and seventy three hospital specialists returned the questionnaire, yielding response rates of 47% and 36,5% respectively. Physicians reported several barriers to deliver best practice. For both GPs and specialists, the most frequently listed barriers were: poor patient knowledge (>80% of hospital specialists and GPs) and lack of clarity about which physician is responsible for the management of asplenic patients (50% of Internists, 46% of Surgeons, 55% of GPs). Both GPs and hospital specialists expressed to experience a lack of mutual trust: specialists were uncertain whether the GP would follow their advice given on patient discharge (33–59%), whereas half of GPs was not convinced that specialists' discharge letters contained the correct recommendations. Almost all physicians (>90%) indicated that availability of a national guideline would improve adherence to best practice, especially if accessible online.
Conclusion
This study showed that, in accordance with reports on international performance, care delivery for asplenic patients in the Netherlands is suboptimal. We identified and quantified perceived barriers by physicians that prevent adherence to post-splenectomy guidelines for the first time. Better transmural collaboration and better informed patients are likely to improve the quality of care of the asplenic patient population. A national, online-available guideline is urgently required.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017302
PMCID: PMC3053367  PMID: 21423748
15.  Challenges of disseminating clinical practice guidelines in a weak health system: the case of HIV and infant feeding recommendations in Tanzania 
Background
Clinical guidelines aim to improve patient outcomes by providing recommendations on appropriate healthcare for specific clinical conditions. Scientific evidence produced over time leads to change in clinical guidelines, and a serious challenge may emerge in the process of communicating the changes to healthcare practitioners and getting new practices adopted. There is very little information on the major barriers to implementing clinical guidelines in low-income settings. Looking at how continual updates to clinical guidelines within a particular health intervention are communicated may shed light on the processes at work. The aim of this paper is to explore how the content of a series of diverging infant feeding guidelines have been communicated to managers in the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV Programme (PMTCT) with the aim of generating knowledge about both barriers and facilitating factors in the dissemination of new and updated knowledge in clinical guidelines in the context of weak healthcare systems.
Methods
A total of 22 in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions were conducted in 2011. All informants were linked to the PMTCT programme in Tanzania. The informants included managers at regional and district levels and health workers at health facility level.
Results
The informants demonstrated partial and incomplete knowledge about the recommendations. There was lack of scientific reasoning behind various infant feeding recommendations. The greatest challenges to the successful communication of the infant feeding guidelines were related to slowness of communication, inaccessible jargon-ridden English language in the manuals, lack of summaries, lack of supportive supervision to make the guidelines comprehensible, and the absence of a reading culture.
Conclusion
The study encountered substantial gaps in knowledge about the diverse HIV and infant feeding policies. These gaps were partly related to the challenges of communicating the clinical guidelines. There is a need for caution in assuming that important changes in guidelines for clinical practice can easily be translated to and implemented in local programme settings, not least in the context of weak healthcare systems.
doi:10.1186/s13006-014-0024-3
PMCID: PMC4300161  PMID: 25606050
Clinical guidelines; Communication challenges; Healthcare system; The PMTCT programme; Tanzania
16.  Barriers and facilitators to the implementation of clinical practice guidelines: A cross-sectional survey among physicians in Estonia 
Background
In an era when an increasing amount of clinical information is available to health care professionals, the effective implementation of clinical practice guidelines requires the development of strategies to facilitate the use of these guidelines. The objective of this study was to assess attitudes towards clinical practice guidelines, as well as the barriers and facilitators to their use, among Estonian physicians. The study was conducted to inform the revision of the clinical practice guideline development process and can provide inspiration to other countries considering the increasing use of evidence-based medicine.
Methods
We conducted an online survey of physicians to assess resource, system, and attitudinal barriers. We also asked a set of questions related to improving the use of clinical practice guidelines and collected free-text comments. We hypothesized that attitudes concerning guidelines may differ by gender, years of experience and practice setting. The study population consisted of physicians from the database of the Department of Continuing Medical Education of the University of Tartu. Differences between groups were analyzed using the Kruskal-Wallis non-parametric test.
Results
41% (497/1212) of physicians in the database completed the questionnaire, comprising more than 10% of physicians in the country. Most respondents (79%) used treatment guidelines in their daily clinical practice. Lack of time was the barrier identified by the most physicians (42%), followed by lack of medical resources for implementation (32%). The majority of physicians disagreed with the statement that guidelines were not accessible (73%) or too complicated (70%). Physicians practicing in outpatient settings or for more than 25 years were the most likely to experience difficulties in guideline use. 95% of respondents agreed that an easy-to-find online database of guidelines would facilitate use.
Conclusions
Use of updated evidence-based guidelines is a prerequisite for the high-quality management of diseases, and recognizing the factors that affect guideline compliance makes it possible to work towards improving guideline adherence in clinical practice. In our study, physicians with long-term clinical experience and doctors in outpatient settings perceived more barriers, which should be taken into account when planning strategies in improving the use of guidelines. Informed by the results of the survey, leading health authorities are making an effort to develop specially designed interventions to implement clinical practice guidelines, including an easily accessible online database.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-455
PMCID: PMC3532376  PMID: 23234504
Clinical practice guidelines; Implementation; Estonia; World health organization; Barriers; Facilitators
17.  The development of a guideline implementability tool (GUIDE-IT): a qualitative study of family physician perspectives 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:19.
Background
The potential of clinical practice guidelines has not been realized due to inconsistent adoption in clinical practice. Optimising intrinsic characteristics of guidelines (e.g., its wording and format) that are associated with uptake (as perceived by their end users) may have potential. Using findings from a realist review on guideline uptake and consultation with experts in guideline development, we designed a conceptual version of a future tool called Guideline Implementability Tool (GUIDE-IT). The tool will aim to involve family physicians in the guideline development process by providing a process to assess draft guideline recommendations. This feedback will then be given back to developers to consider when finalizing the recommendations. As guideline characteristics are best assessed by end-users, the objectives of the current study were to explore how family physicians perceive guideline implementability, and to determine what components should comprise the final GUIDE-IT prototype.
Methods
We conducted a qualitative study with family physicians inToronto, Ontario. Two experienced investigators conducted one-hour interviews with family physicians using a semi-structured interview guide to 1) elicit feedback on perceptions on guideline implementability; 2) to generate a discussion in response to three draft recommendations; and 3) to provide feedback on the conceptual GUIDE-IT. Sessions were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. Data collection and analysis were guided by content analyses.
Results
20 family physicians participated. They perceived guideline uptake according to facilitators and barriers across 6 categories of guideline implementability (format, content, language, usability, development, and the practice environment). Participants’ feedback on 3 draft guideline recommendations were grouped according to guideline perception, cognition, and agreement. When asked to comment on GUIDE-IT, most respondents believed that the tool would be useful, but urged to involve “regular” or community family physicians in the process, and suggested that an online system would be the most efficient way to deliver it.
Conclusions
Our study identified facilitators and barriers of guideline implementability from the perspective of community and academic family physicians that will be used to build our GUIDE-IT prototype. Our findings build on current knowledge by showing that family physicians perceive guideline uptake mostly according to factors that are in the control of guideline developers.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-19
PMCID: PMC4016596  PMID: 24476491
Guideline implementability; Family practice; Knowledge translation; Qualitative
18.  Do guidelines on first impression make sense? Implementation of a chest pain guideline in primary care: a systematic evaluation of acceptance and feasibility 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:128.
Background
Most guidelines concentrate on investigations, treatment, and monitoring instead of patient history and clinical examination. We developed a guideline that dealt with the different aetiologies of chest pain by emphasizing the patient's history and physical signs. The objective of this study was to evaluate the guideline's acceptance and feasibility in the context of a practice test.
Methods
The evaluation study was nested in a diagnostic cross-sectional study with 56 General Practitioners (GPs) and 862 consecutively recruited patients with chest pain. The evaluation of the guideline was conducted in a mixed method design on a sub-sample of 17 GPs and 282 patients. Physicians' evaluation of the guideline was assessed via standardized questionnaires and case record forms. Additionally, practice nursing staff and selected patients were asked for their evaluation of specific guideline modules. Quantitative data was analyzed descriptively for frequencies, means, and standard deviations. In addition, two focus groups with a total of 10 GPs were held to gain further insights in the guideline implementation process. The data analysis and interpretation followed the standards of the qualitative content analysis.
Results
The overall evaluation of the GPs participating in the evaluation study regarding the recommendations made in the chest pain guideline was positive. A total of 14 GPs were convinced that there was a need for this kind of guideline and perceived the guideline recommendations as useful. While the long version was partially criticized for a perceived lack of clarity, the short version of the chest pain guideline and the heart score were especially appreciated by the GPs. However, change of clinical behaviour as consequence of the guideline was inconsistent. While on a concrete patient related level, GPs indicated to have behaved as the guideline recommended, the feedback on a more general level was heterogeneous. Several suggestions to improve guideline implementation were made by participating physicians. Due to the small number of practice nursing staff evaluating the flowchart and patients remembering the patient leaflet, no valid results regarding the flowchart and patient leaflet modules could be reported.
Conclusions
Overall, the participating GPs perceived the guideline recommendations as useful to increase awareness and to reflect on diagnostic issues. Although behaviour change in consequence of the guideline was not reported on a general level, guidelines on history taking and the clinical examination may serve an important conservative and practical function in a technology driven environment. Further research to increase the implementation success of the guideline should be undertaken.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-128
PMCID: PMC3267789  PMID: 22103603
19.  Barriers and enablers to implementing multiple stroke guideline recommendations: a qualitative study 
Background
Translating evidence into practice is an important final step in the process of evidence-based practice. Medical record audits can be used to examine how well practice compares with published evidence, and identify evidence-practice gaps. After providing audit feedback to professionals, local barriers to practice change can be identified and targetted with focussed behaviour change interventions. This study aimed to identify barriers and enablers to implementing multiple stroke guideline recommendations at one Australian stroke unit.
Methods
A qualitative methodology was used. A sample of 28 allied health, nursing and medical professionals participated in a group or individual interview. These interviews occurred after staff had received audit feedback and identified areas for practice change. Questions focused on barriers and enablers to implementing guideline recommendations about management of: upper limb sensory impairments, mobility including sitting balance; vision; anxiety and depression; neglect; swallowing; communication; education for stroke survivors and carers; advice about return to work and driving. Qualitative data were analysed for themes using theoretical domains described by Michie and colleagues (2005).
Results
Six group and two individual interviews were conducted, involving six disciplines. Barriers were different across disciplines. The six key barriers identified were: (1) Beliefs about capabilities of individual professionals and their discipline, and about patient capabilities (2) Beliefs about the consequences, positive and negative, of implementing the recommendations (3) Memory of, and attention to, best practices (4) Knowledge and skills required to implement best practice; (5) Intention and motivation to implement best practice, and (6) Resources. Some barriers were also enablers to change. For example, occupational therapists required new knowledge and skills (a barrier), to better manage sensation and neglect impairments while physiotherapists generally knew how to implement best-practice mobility rehabilitation (an enabler).
Conclusions
Findings add to current knowledge about barriers to change and implementation of multiple guideline recommendations. Major challenges included sexuality education and depression screening. Limited knowledge and skills was a common barrier. Knowledge about specific interventions was needed before implementation could commence, and to maintain treatment fidelity. The provision of detailed online intervention protocols and manuals may help clinicians to overcome the knowledge barrier.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-323
PMCID: PMC3751701  PMID: 23958136
Translational research; Implementation; Quality improvement
20.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): Economic Evaluation of an Intervention to Improve Professional Practice 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e216.
Background
Interventions designed to narrow the gap between research findings and clinical practice may be effective, but also costly. Economic evaluations are necessary to judge whether such interventions are worth the effort. We have evaluated the economic effects of a tailored intervention to support the implementation of guidelines for the use of antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs. The tailored intervention was evaluated in a randomized trial, and was shown to significantly increase the use of thiazides for patients started on antihypertensive medication, but had little or no impact on other outcomes. The increased use of thiazides was not expected to have an impact on health outcomes.
Methods and Findings
We performed cost-minimization and cost-effectiveness analyses on data from a randomized trial involving 146 general practices from two geographical areas in Norway. Each practice was randomized to either the tailored intervention (70 practices; 257 physicians) or control group (69 practices; 244 physicians). Only patients that were being started on antihypertensive medication were included in the analyses. A multifaceted intervention was tailored to address identified barriers to change. Key components were an educational outreach visit with audit and feedback, and computerized reminders. Pharmacists conducted the visits. A cost-minimization framework was adopted, where the costs of intervention were set against the reduced treatment costs (principally due to increased use of thiazides rather than more expensive medication). The cost-effectiveness of the intervention was estimated as the cost per additional patient being started on thiazides. The net annual cost (cost minimization) in our study population was US$53,395, corresponding to US$763 per practice. The cost per additional patient started on thiazides (cost-effectiveness) was US$454. The net annual savings in a national program was modeled to be US$761,998, or US$540 per practice after 2 y. In this scenario the savings exceeded the costs in all but two of the sensitivity analyses we conducted, and the cost-effectiveness was estimated to be US$183.
Conclusions
We found a significant shift in prescribing of antihypertensive drugs towards the use of thiazides in our trial. A major reason to promote the use of thiazides is their lower price compared to other drugs. The cost of the intervention was more than twice the savings within the time frame of our study. However, we predict modest savings over a 2-y period.
Editors' Summary
Background
The importance of bridging the gap between research and practice, and the need to improve the prescribing practices of family doctors (general practitioners), is discussed in the Editors' Summary for an article related to this one (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134). However, measures to improve prescribing practice can be expensive. Economic evaluations are necessary to judge whether such measures are worth the effort.
Doctors in a Norwegian study, described in the related article, were encouraged to make more use of drugs belonging to the thiazide “family” to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Thiazides are cheaper than other antihypertensive drugs and in the average patient at least as effective. Increasing their use should therefore save health services money, but not reduce the effectiveness of the treatment of hypertension. The study found that measures to actively encourage doctors to follow prescribing guidelines did increase the use of thiazides, but only by a small amount.
Why Was This Study Done?
After having found that active promotion of guidelines can make a difference, the researchers wanted to know whether the cost of the efforts they made to encourage doctors to follow the guidelines were justified by the savings made by increased use of the cheaper drugs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They calculated the money saved where the prescribing guidelines were actively promoted, and then worked out what this would amount to if the same were done in all the family practices in Norway. They found that the cost of promoting the guidelines was greater than the savings achieved during the course of their study, which lasted one year. However, their calculations show that after two years the money saved would have exceeded the costs. After that, the savings would increase every year.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As far as this particular example of prescribing practice is concerned, although active promotion of guidelines increased costs in the short term, it will soon produce savings. This will not always be the case; efforts to change prescribing practice may sometimes involve the use of more effective but costlier drugs. Improving the care of patients must always be the main aim, but encouraging doctors to follow recommended guidelines on the prescribing of drugs can sometimes reduce costs, too. These issues are discussed further in a Perspective about this study (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030229).
A significant increase in prescribing of thiazides, in preference to more expensive antihypertensives, resulted from active promotion of guidelines. The cost of the intervention was greater than the saving during the study period. Modest savings are predicted after two years.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030216
PMCID: PMC1472698  PMID: 16737349
21.  Barriers to optimal antibiotic use for community‐acquired pneumonia at hospitals: a qualitative study 
Quality & Safety in Health Care  2007;16(2):143-149.
Background
Physician adherence to key recommendations of guidelines for community‐acquired pneumonia (CAP) is often not optimal. A better understanding of factors influencing optimal performance is needed to plan effective change.
Methods
The authors used semistructured interviews with care providers in three Dutch medium‐sized hospitals to qualitatively study and understand barriers to appropriate antibiotic use in patients with CAP. They discussed recommendations about the prescription of empirical antibiotic therapy that adheres to the guidelines, timely administration of antibiotics, adjusting antibiotic dosage to accommodate decreased renal function, switching and streamlining therapy, and blood and sputum culturing. The authors then classified the barriers each recommendation faced into categories using a conceptual framework (Cabana).
Results
Eighteen interviews were performed with residents and specialists in pulmonology and internal medicine, with medical microbiologists and a clinical pharmacist. Two additional multidisciplinary small group interviews which included nurses were performed. Each guideline recommendation elicited a different type of barrier. Regarding the choice of guideline‐adherent empirical therapy, treating physicians said that they worried about patient outcome when prescribing narrow‐spectrum antibiotic therapy. Regarding the timeliness of antibiotic administration, barriers such as conflicting guidelines and organisational factors (for example, delayed laboratory results, antibiotics not directly available, lack of time) were reported. Not streamlining therapy after culture results became available was thought to be due to the physicians' attitude of “never change a winning team”.
Conclusions
Efforts to improve the use of antibiotics for patients with CAP should consider the range of barriers that care providers face. Each recommendation meets its own barriers. Interventions to improve adherence should be tailored to these factors.
doi:10.1136/qshc.2005.017327
PMCID: PMC2653154  PMID: 17403764
22.  Chiropractic quality assurance: standards and guidelines 
Chiropractic quality assurance involves development of both clinical guidelines and standards. Confusion generated by poor differentiation of guidelines from standards contributes to mistrust of the guideline development process. Guidelines are considered to be recommendations that allow for flexibility and individual patient differences. Standards are more binding and require a high level of supporting evidence. While guidelines serve as educational tools to improve the quality of practice, standards that outline minimum competency are used more as administrative tools on which to base policy. Barriers to development of clinical guidelines and standards include fear that they will create prescriptive “cookbook” practice, and the distrust that guidelines are developed primarily for cost containment. Clinicians also criticize guidelines developed by academics that don't relate to practice, and those based on evidence that lacks clinical relevance. Conflicting guidelines perceived to be based on strong bias or conflict of interest are also suspect. To reduce barriers to acceptance and implementation, guidelines should be inclusive, patient-centered, and based on a variety of evidence and clinical experience.
PMCID: PMC2505001
chiropractic; quality assurance; guidelines; standards; evidence-based; patient-centered; informed consent
23.  Hypertension guidelines and their effects on the health system 
Introduction
Hypertension guidelines, which have existed for many years and primarily used in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, are now becoming an issue in Germany. Strong efforts are presently underway for a German version comparable to the guidelines developed for the mentioned countries. The development of guidelines is a part of the implementation system of guidelines in Germany. It covers the mode of operation of the AWMF (work community of the scientific medical subject companies) with the clearinghouse for guidelines (CLA) and the cooperation with the centre for medical quality (ÄZQ).
In the HTA report the real use of the hypertension guidelines shall be investigated for Germany from the development trends and further possibilities of use according to a medical applicability. Economic issues and an optimisation of use are also discussed.
Question
The following questions shall be answered in particular:
How much are the guidelines used concerning hypertension? Can effects (or their influence) be established on the medical procedures? Are there statements available about costs and cost effectiveness? Are there recommendations for further use?
Methodology
To answer these questions, a comprehensive literature search was done. No empirical investigation was carried out. From this enquiry 206 articles were checked in detail but not all of them were available in full text.
Only those publications which directly dealt with high blood pressure guidelines or articles with a direct reference to the topic have been considered in the HTA report.
Publications concerning screening or methods of prevention, medical studies of the hypertension syndrome without a direct reference to guidelines and publications concerned with putting guidelines into action were excluded.
Results
After an analysis of the selected literature addressing the topic of hypertension guidelines, it was evident that the use of these guidelines cannot be gathered from existing literature at the present time. One can assume from international studies with analogical reasoning that these are confessed and have a high level of acceptance in the medical community. Unfortunately the actual usage is not represented satisfactorily in the scientific literature.
The effects of the guidelines on the medical procedures seem to be very strongly individual and the analyses to the compliance show at least an observable effect within the last few years. No publications could be found for the cost effectiveness of the guidelines.
The actual compliance with guidelines seems to be in relation with the duration of the professional practice. It seems the shorter the professional practice takes place, the stronger the guidelines are adhered.
Discussion
At present, there are only a few notes for the German health service regarding the actual effect of the hypertonus guidelines. However, the reason is not that the effect would not be possibly strong but at the methodical challenge to evaluate the sustaining effects of the application of the hypertonus guidelines. For this reason the literature is very rare regarding this topic.
For Germany it can be derived by analogical reasoning from foreign studies that guidelines will facilitate a more and more essential contribution to the design of the health system. Considering that primarily younger physicians accepted guidelines mode, the further construction, update and implementation of guidelines are essential, particularly with regard to the quality assurance. Straight guidelines can express a standard of the quality of a health system as a benchmark. The existence of guidelines or the lack thereof is considered also as a quality indicator of a health system at the organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD).
Conclusion
Guidelines should be evaluated - especially the hypertonus guideline. Also further development and implementation should be emphasised. Methodically oriented work to the approach is pretty recent.
It is undeniable that guidelines represent a very essential and important contribution for the successful dealing with significant morbidity problems in a health system.
The fact that primarily younger doctors more frequently adopt, employ and adhere to guidelines leads to the assumption that expected sustainability for practical use will increase. Furthermore intensified use of guidelines can be considered in the "mainstream" of the development of the public health system also in an international perspective.
Not one single publication contradicts that a further acquirement, update and distribution of guidelines for the use of practices is necessary. The importance of the guideline is also not questioned in any article.
PMCID: PMC3011314  PMID: 21289932
24.  Barriers to implementation of the HIV guidelines in the IMCI algorithm among IMCI trained health workers in Zambia 
BMC Pediatrics  2010;10:93.
Background
Zambia adopted integrated management of Childhood illnesses (IMCI) in 1995 and a number of adaptations have been made to the generic WHO/UNICEF IMCI guidelines to better conform to Zambia's health service needs. One significant adaptation is the incorporation of HIV guidelines into the IMCI algorithm. Since 2004, health workers that have undergone IMCI case management training have also received training in HIV assessment. During initial follow-up visits in 11 districts 90 health workers were assessed in 2007 to determine their adherence to the IMCI algorithm. The assessment showed that 97% of the health workers assessed did not review or mention the HIV guidelines even though they had received HIV training as part of IMCI. This study aimed to explore reasons for non-adherence to HIV guidelines in the IMCI algorithm and make recommendations on how this can be improved.
Methods
Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to collect information from eligible health workers. Forty (40) health workers were randomly selected from among those who received initial follow-up visits between March 2007 and January 2008. The health workers were selected from eight districts in four provinces of Zambia. Qualitative data was collected using Focus group discussion and key informant interviews
Results
83% of the respondents said they had no difficulties in following the HIV adapted IMCI guidelines. 17% said they had difficulties. Of those who admitted having difficulties (60%) had difficulties in HIV assessment. Interesting, prompting and focus group discussions revealed that most respondents actually had difficulties in HIV assessment but could not admit it readily. Some barriers that contributed to non-adherence to the guidelines included lack of time due to inadequate staffing, lack of privacy in the health facilities and HIV related stigma from both caregivers and health workers. Frequent use of guidelines and supervision appeared to re-enforce adherence to the guidelines.
Conclusion
The findings in this study suggest that training in HIV adapted IMCI guidelines is not sufficient to enable health workers to actually use their knowledge in their daily practice. Barriers may exist which prevent them from adhering to the guidelines. Addressing these barriers is critical in increasing the uptake of paediatric ART in Zambia
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-10-93
PMCID: PMC3023733  PMID: 21167016
25.  Diabetes and hypertension guidelines and the primary health care practitioner in Barbados: knowledge, attitudes, practices and barriers-a focus group study 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:96.
Background
Audits have shown numerous deficiencies in the quality of hypertension and diabetes primary care in Barbados, despite distribution of regional guidelines. This study aimed to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes and practices, and the barriers faced by primary care practitioners in Barbados concerning the recommendations of available diabetes and hypertension guidelines.
Methods
Focus groups using a moderator's manual were conducted at all 8 public sector polyclinics, and 5 sessions were held for private practitioners.
Results
Polyclinic sessions were attended by 63 persons (17 physicians, 34 nurses, 3 dieticians, 3 podiatrists, 5 pharmacists, and 1 other), and private sector sessions by 20 persons (12 physicians, 1 nurse, 3 dieticians, 2 podiatrists and 2 pharmacists).
Practitioners generally thought they gave a good quality of care. Commonwealth Caribbean Medical Research Council 1995 diabetes and 1998 hypertension guidelines, and the Ministry of Health 2001 diabetes protocol had been seen by 38%, 32% and 78% respectively of polyclinic practitioners, 67%, 83%, and 33% of private physicians, and 25%, 0% and 38% of non-physician private practitioners. Current guidelines were considered by some to be outdated, unavailable, difficult to remember and lacking in advice to tackle barriers. Practitioners thought that guidelines should be circulated widely, promoted with repeated educational sessions, and kept short. Patient oriented versions of the guidelines were welcomed.
Patient factors causing barriers to ideal outcome included denial and fear of stigma; financial resources to access an appropriate diet, exercise and monitoring equipment; confusion over medication regimens, not valuing free medication, belief in alternative medicines, and being unable to change habits. System barriers included lack of access to blood investigations, clinic equipment and medication; the lack of human resources in polyclinics; and an uncoordinated team approach. Patients faced cultural barriers with regards to meals, exercise, appropriate body size, footwear, medication taking, and taking responsibility for one's health; and difficulty getting time off work to attend clinic.
Conclusions
Guidelines need to be promoted repeatedly, and implemented with strategies to overcome barriers. Their development and implementation must be guided by input from all providers on the primary health care team.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-96
PMCID: PMC3014884  PMID: 21129180

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