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1.  Improving the recruitment activity of clinicians in randomised controlled trials: a systematic review 
BMJ Open  2012;2(1):e000496.
Background
Poor recruitment to randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is a widespread problem. Provision of interventions aimed at supporting or incentivising clinicians may improve recruitment to RCTs.
Objectives
To quantify the effects of strategies aimed at improving the recruitment activity of clinicians in RCTs, complemented with a synthesis of qualitative evidence related to clinicians' attitudes towards recruiting to RCTs.
Data sources
A systematic review of English and non-English articles identified from: The Cochrane Library, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, Ovid PsycINFO, Ebsco CINAHL, Index to Theses and Open SIGLE from 2001 to March 2011. Additional reports were identified through citation searches of included articles.
Study eligibility criteria
Quantitative studies were included if they evaluated interventions aimed at improving the recruitment activity of clinicians or compared recruitment by different groups of clinicians. Information about host trial, study design, participants, interventions, outcomes and host RCT was extracted by one researcher and checked by another. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were assessed for quality using a standardised tool, the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Qualitative studies were included if they investigated clinicians' attitudes to recruiting patients to RCTs. All results/findings were extracted, and content analysis was carried out. Overarching themes were abstracted, followed by a metasummary analysis. Studies that met the inclusion criteria were assessed for quality using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme qualitative checklist.
Data extraction
Data extraction was carried out by one researcher using predefined data fields, including study quality indicators, and verified by another.
Results
Eight quantitative studies were included describing four interventions and a comparison of recruiting clinicians. One study was rated as strong, one as moderate and the remaining six as weak when assessed for quality using the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool. Effective interventions included the use of qualitative research to identify and overcome barriers to recruitment, reduction of the clinical workload associated with participation in RCTs and the provision of extra training and protected research time. Eleven qualitative studies were identified, and eight themes were abstracted from the data: understanding of research, communication, perceived patient barriers, patient–clinician relationship, effect on patients, effect on clinical practice, individual benefits for clinicians and methods associated with successful recruitment. Metasummary analysis identified the most frequently reported subthemes to be: difficulty communicating trial methods, poor understanding of research and priority given to patient well-being. Overall, the qualitative studies were found to be of good quality when assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme checklist.
Conclusions
There were few high-quality trials that tested interventions to improve clinicians' recruitment activity in RCTs. The most promising intervention was the use of qualitative methods to identify and overcome barriers to clinician recruitment activity. More good quality studies of interventions are needed to add to the evidence base. The metasummary of qualitative findings identified understanding and communicating RCT methods as a key target for future interventions to improve recruitment. Reinforcement of the potential benefits, both for clinicians and for their patients, could also be a successful factor in improving recruitment. A bias was found towards investigating barriers to recruitment, so future work should also encompass a focus on successfully recruiting trials.
Article summary
Article focus
A systematic review to identify and synthesise evidence of evaluations of interventions aimed at improving clinician recruitment activity in RCTs, and evidence of clinicians' attitudes towards recruiting to RCTs.
Key messages
Evidence-based recruitment interventions aimed at supporting/incentivising clinicians are necessary for future RCTs to recruit successfully. However, evidence of successful interventions is currently limited, and interventions are being used that have limited evidential grounding. The most promising intervention identified by this review was the use of qualitative methods embedded in host RCTs to define appropriate methods, targeted at clinicians, relevant to the context of the individual studies.
The review of qualitative evidence identified a number of themes relating to clinicians' attitudes towards recruitment to RCTs. The metasummary isolated targets for future interventions aimed at improving clinicians' recruitment activity. Of particular interest were communication of trial methods, education to remove misunderstanding of trial methods and reinforcement of the potential benefits of RCTs, both for clinicians and for their patients.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Strengths
This review encompasses both quantitative and qualitative evidence regarding clinician involvement in recruiting to RCTs. As such, it highlights the available evidence, successful and unsuccessful interventions, areas of uncertainty and also targets for the design of future interventions.
Qualitative data were managed and synthesised according to a set methodology and are therefore a step beyond simple narrative review. Qualitative metasummary can be the final product of a synthesis project or used as the initial step in a metasynthesis project. The purpose of qualitative metasummary was to determine how frequently each abstracted thematic finding occurred in the included studies. Qualitative metasummary is appropriate for synthesising studies that are thematic summaries or surveys of data.
Limitations
The quality of evidence varied, and the review includes a wide range of study designs, making comparisons of interventions difficult. It is clear that RCTs of trial recruitment interventions are perceived to be difficult to carry out, so other study designs are commonly used. RCTs of recruitment interventions should be encouraged in order to increase the quality of currently available evidence.
Methodological challenges included designing a broad search to encompass qualitative and quantitative research, quality assessment of various quantitative study designs by one set of criteria and standardising the data extraction and synthesis of qualitative evidence. There are no set guidelines regarding the synthesis of qualitative and quantitative evidence, but it is clear that for many review questions limiting the included study designs would lead to empty reviews.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000496
PMCID: PMC3253423  PMID: 22228729
2.  Women's Access and Provider Practices for the Case Management of Malaria during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001688.
Jenny Hill and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of women’s access and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case-management policy of malaria during pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
WHO recommends prompt diagnosis and quinine plus clindamycin for treatment of uncomplicated malaria in the first trimester and artemisinin-based combination therapies in subsequent trimesters. We undertook a systematic review of women's access to and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case management policy for malaria in pregnant women.
Methods and Findings
We searched the Malaria in Pregnancy Library, the Global Health Database, and the International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs Bibliography from 1 January 2006 to 3 April 2014, without language restriction. Data were appraised for quality and content. Frequencies of women's and healthcare providers' practices were explored using narrative synthesis and random effect meta-analysis. Barriers to women's access and providers' adherence to policy were explored by content analysis using NVivo. Determinants of women's access and providers' case management practices were extracted and compared across studies. We did not perform a meta-ethnography. Thirty-seven studies were included, conducted in Africa (30), Asia (4), Yemen (1), and Brazil (2). One- to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy, of whom treatment was sought by >85%. Barriers to access among women included poor knowledge of drug safety, prohibitive costs, and self-treatment practices, used by 5%–40% of women. Determinants of women's treatment-seeking behaviour were education and previous experience of miscarriage and antenatal care. Healthcare provider reliance on clinical diagnosis and poor adherence to treatment policy, especially in first versus other trimesters (28%, 95% CI 14%–47%, versus 72%, 95% CI 39%–91%, p = 0.02), was consistently reported. Prescribing practices were driven by concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost. Determinants of provider practices were access to training and facility type (public versus private). Findings were limited by the availability, quality, scope, and methodological inconsistencies of the included studies.
Conclusions
A systematic assessment of the extent of substandard case management practices of malaria in pregnancy is required, as well as quality improvement interventions that reach all providers administering antimalarial drugs in the community. Pregnant women need access to information on which anti-malarial drugs are safe to use at different stages of pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasite, kills about 600,000 people every year. Most of these deaths occur among young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but pregnant women and their unborn babies are also vulnerable to malaria. Infection with malaria during pregnancy can cause severe maternal anemia, miscarriages, and preterm births, and kills about 10,000 women and 100,000 children each year. Since 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that uncomplicated malaria (an infection that causes a fever but does not involve organ damage or severe anemia) should be treated with quinine and clindamycin if it occurs during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy and with an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) if it occurs during the second or third trimester; ACTs should be used during the first trimester only if no other treatment is immediately available because their safety during early pregnancy has not been established. Since 2010, WHO has also recommended that clinical diagnosis of malaria should be confirmed before treatment by looking for parasites in patients' blood (parasitology).
Why Was This Study Done?
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in pregnancy in regions where malaria is always present (endemic regions) is extremely important, yet little is known about women's access to the recommended interventions for malaria in pregnancy or about healthcare providers' adherence to the WHO case management guidelines. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies, the researchers explore the factors that affect women's access to treatment and healthcare provider practices for case management of malaria during pregnancy. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic. Meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies. A qualitative study collects non-quantitative data such as reasons for refusing an intervention, whereas a qualitative study collects numerical data such as the proportion of a population receiving an intervention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 37 studies (mostly conducted in Africa) that provided data on the range of healthcare providers visited, antimalarials used, and the factors influencing the choice of healthcare provider and medicines among pregnant women seeking treatment for malaria and/or the type and quality of diagnostic and case management services offered to them by healthcare providers. The researchers explored the data in these studies using narrative synthesis (which summarizes the results from several qualitative studies) and content analysis (which identifies key themes within texts). Among the studies that provided relevant data, one-quarter to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy. More than 85% of the women who reported a malaria episode during pregnancy sought some form of treatment. Barriers to access to WHO-recommended treatment among women included poor knowledge about drug safety, and the use of self-treatment practices such as taking herbal remedies. Factors that affected the treatment-seeking behavior of pregnant women (“determinants”) included prior use of antenatal care, education, and previous experience of a miscarriage. Among healthcare providers, reliance on clinical diagnosis of malaria was consistently reported, as was poor adherence to the treatment policy. Specifically, 28% and 72% of healthcare providers followed the treatment guidelines for malaria during the first and second/third trimesters of pregnancy, respectively. Finally, the researchers report that concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost drove the prescribing practices of the healthcare providers, and that the determinants of provider practices included the type (cadre) of heathcare worker, access to training, and whether they were based in a public or private facility.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal important limitations in the implementation of the WHO policy on the treatment of malaria in pregnancy across many parts of Africa and in several other malaria endemic regions. Notably, they show that women do not uniformly seek care within the formal healthcare system and suggest that, when they do seek care, they may not be given the appropriate treatment because healthcare providers frequently fail to adhere to the WHO diagnostic and treatment guidelines. Although limited by the sparseness of data and by inconsistencies in study methodologies, these findings nevertheless highlight the need for further systematic assessments of the extent of substandard case management of malaria in pregnancy in malaria endemic countries, and the need to develop interventions to improve access to and delivery of quality case management of malaria among pregnant women.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001688.
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages) and on malaria in pregnancy; the 2010 Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria are available; the World Malaria Report 2013 provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria; a personal story about malaria in pregnancy is available
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy and provides links to the consortium's publications and an online library on malaria in pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001688
PMCID: PMC4122360  PMID: 25093720
3.  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
4.  Patient and public attitudes to and awareness of clinical practice guidelines: a systematic review with thematic and narrative syntheses 
Background
Clinical practice guidelines are typically written for healthcare providers but there is increasing interest in producing versions for the public, patients and carers. The main objective of this review is to identify and synthesise evidence of the public’s attitudes towards clinical practice guidelines and evidence-based recommendations written for providers or the public, together with their awareness of guidelines.
Methods
We included quantitative and qualitative studies of any design reporting on public, patient (and their carers) attitudes and awareness of guidelines written for providers or patients/public. We searched electronic databases including MEDLINE, PSYCHINFO, ERIC, ASSIA and the Cochrane Library from 2000 to 2012. We also searched relevant websites, reviewed citations and contacted experts in the field. At least two authors independently screened, abstracted data and assessed the quality of studies. We conducted a thematic analysis of first and second order themes and performed a separate narrative synthesis of patient and public awareness of guidelines.
Results
We reviewed 5415 records and included 26 studies (10 qualitative studies, 13 cross sectional and 3 randomised controlled trials) involving 24 887 individuals. Studies were mostly good to fair quality. The thematic analysis resulted in four overarching themes: Applicability of guidelines; Purpose of guidelines for patient; Purpose of guidelines for health care system and physician; and Properties of guidelines. Overall, participants had mixed attitudes towards guidelines; some participants found them empowering but many saw them as a way of rationing care. Patients were also concerned that the information may not apply to their own health care situations. Awareness of guidelines ranged from 0-79%, with greater awareness in participants surveyed on national guideline websites.
Conclusion
There are many factors, not only formatting, that may affect the uptake and use of guideline-derived material by the public. Producers need to make clear how the information is relevant to the reader and how it can be used to make healthcare improvements although there were problems with data quality. Awareness of guidelines is generally low and guideline producers cannot assume that the public has a more positive perception of their material than of alternative sources of health information.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-321
PMCID: PMC4119247  PMID: 25064372
Clinical practice guidelines; Patient; Public; Attitudes; Awareness
5.  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
6.  Understanding the relationship between the perceived characteristics of clinical practice guidelines and their uptake: protocol for a realist review 
Background
Clinical practice guidelines have the potential to facilitate the implementation of evidence into practice, support clinical decision making, specify beneficial therapeutic approaches, and influence public policy. However, these potential benefits have not been consistently achieved. The limited impact of guidelines can be attributed to organisational constraints, the complexity of the guidelines, and the lack of usability testing or end-user involvement in their development. Implementability has been referred to as the perceived characteristics of guidelines that predict the relative ease of their implementation at the clinical level, but this concept is as yet poorly defined. The objective of our study is to identify guideline attributes that affect uptake in practice by considering evidence from four disciplines (medicine, psychology, management, human factors engineering) to determine the relationship between the perceived characteristics of recommendations and their uptake and to develop a framework of implementability.
Methods
A realist-review approach to knowledge synthesis will be used to understand attributes of guidelines (e.g., its text and content) and how changing these elements might impact clinical practice and clinical decision making. It also allows for the exploration of 'what works for whom, in what circumstances, and in what respects'. The realist review will be structured according to Pawson's five practical steps in realist reviews: (1) clarifying the scope of the review, (2) determining the search strategy, (3) ensuring proper article selection and study quality assessment, (4) extracting and organising data, and (5) synthesising the evidence and drawing conclusions. Data will be synthesised according to a two-stage analysis: (1) we will extract and define all relevant guideline attributes from the different disciplines, then create a shortlist of unique attributes and investigate their relationships with uptake, and (2) we will compare and contrast the attributes and guideline uptake within each and between the four disciplines to create a robust framework of implementability.
Discussion
Creating guidelines that are designed to maximise uptake may be a potentially effective and inexpensive way of increasing their impact. However, this is best achieved by a comprehensive framework to inform the design of guidelines drawing on a range of disciplines that study behaviour change. This study will use a customised realist-review approach to synthesising the literature to better understand and operationalise a complex and under-theorised concept.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-69
PMCID: PMC3224565  PMID: 21733160
7.  Guidelines for the management of people with foot health problems related to rheumatoid arthritis: a survey of their use in podiatry practice 
Background
In the last decade there has been a significant expansion in the body of knowledge on the effects of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) on the foot and the management of these problems. Aligned with this has been the development of specialist clinical roles for podiatrists. However, despite being recommended by national guidelines, specialist podiatrists are scarce. In order to inform non-specialist podiatrists of the appropriate interventions for these foot problems, management guidelines have been developed and disseminated by a group of specialist podiatrists. The aim of this survey was to investigate the use of these guidelines in clinical practice.
Method
Following ethical approval an online questionnaire survey was carried out. The questions were formulated from a focus group and comprised fixed response and open response questions. The survey underwent cognitive testing with two podiatrists before being finalised. An inductive approach using thematic analysis was used with the qualitative data.
Results
245 questionnaires were completed (128–non-specialist working in the private sector, 101 non–specialists working in the NHS and 16 specialist podiatrists). Overall, 97% of the non-specialists (n = 222) had not heard of the guidelines. The non-specialists identified other influences on their management of people with RA, such as their undergraduate training and professional body branch meetings. Three main themes emerged from the qualitative data: (i) the benefits of the foot health management guidelines, (ii) the barriers to the use of guidelines generally and (iii) the features of useable clinical guidelines.
Conclusions
This study has revealed some crucial information about podiatrists’ level of engagement with the foot health management guidelines and the use of guidelines in general. Specifically, the non-specialist podiatrists were less likely to use the foot health management guidelines than the specialist podiatrists. The positive aspects were that for the specialist practitioners, the guidelines helped them to identify their professional development needs and for the few non-specialists that did use them, they enabled appropriate referral to the rheumatology team for foot health management. The barriers to their use included a lack of understanding of the risk associated with managing people with RA and that guidelines can be too long and detailed for use in clinical practice. Suggestions are made for improving the implementation of foot health guidelines.
doi:10.1186/1757-1146-6-23
PMCID: PMC3701509  PMID: 23777809
Guidelines; Rheumatoid Arthritis; Foot Health; Podiatry
8.  Why Do Women Not Use Antenatal Services in Low- and Middle-Income Countries? A Meta-Synthesis of Qualitative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(1):e1001373.
In a synthesis of 21 qualitative studies representing the views of more than 1,230 women from 15 countries, Kenneth Finlayson and Soo Downe examine the reasons why many women in low- and middle-income countries do not receive adequate antenatal care.
Background
Almost 50% of women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) don't receive adequate antenatal care. Women's views can offer important insights into this problem. Qualitative studies exploring inadequate use of antenatal services have been undertaken in a range of countries, but the findings are not easily transferable. We aimed to inform the development of future antenatal care programmes through a synthesis of findings in all relevant qualitative studies.
Methods and Findings
Using a predetermined search strategy, we identified robust qualitative studies reporting on the views and experiences of women in LMICs who received inadequate antenatal care. We used meta-ethnographic techniques to generate themes and a line-of-argument synthesis. We derived policy-relevant hypotheses from the findings. We included 21 papers representing the views of more than 1,230 women from 15 countries. Three key themes were identified: “pregnancy as socially risky and physiologically healthy”, “resource use and survival in conditions of extreme poverty”, and “not getting it right the first time”. The line-of-argument synthesis describes a dissonance between programme design and cultural contexts that may restrict access and discourage return visits. We hypothesize that centralised, risk-focused antenatal care programmes may be at odds with the resources, beliefs, and experiences of pregnant women who underuse antenatal services.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that there may be a misalignment between current antenatal care provision and the social and cultural context of some women in LMICs. Antenatal care provision that is theoretically and contextually at odds with local contextual beliefs and experiences is likely to be underused, especially when attendance generates increased personal risks of lost family resources or physical danger during travel, when the promised care is not delivered because of resource constraints, and when women experience covert or overt abuse in care settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Although maternal deaths worldwide have almost halved since 1990, according to the latest figures, every day roughly 800 women and adolescent girls still die from the complications of pregnancy or childbirth: in 2010, 287,000 women died during or following pregnancy and childbirth, with almost all of these deaths (99%) occurring in low-resource settings. Most maternal deaths are avoidable, as the interventions to prevent or manage the most common complications (severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and unsafe abortion) are well known. Furthermore, many of these complications can be prevented, detected, or treated during antenatal care visits with trained health workers.
Why Was This Study Done?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a minimum of four antenatal visits per pregnancy, but according to WHO figures, between 2005 and 2010 only 53% of pregnant women worldwide attended the recommended four antenatal visits; in low-income countries, this figure was a disappointing 36%. Unfortunately, despite huge international efforts to promote and provide antenatal care, there has been little improvement in these statistics over the past decade. It is therefore important to investigate the reasons for poor antenatal attendance and to seek the views of users of antenatal care. In this study, the researchers combined studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that included women's views on antenatal care in a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies (qualitative research uses techniques, such as structured interviews, to gather an in-depth understanding of human behaviour, and a meta-synthesis combines and interprets information across studies, contexts, and populations).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched several medical, sociological, and psychological databases to find appropriate qualitative studies published between January 1980 and February 2012 that explored the antenatal care experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of women from LMICs who had chosen to access antenatal care late (after 12 weeks' gestation), infrequently (less than four times), or not at all. The researchers included 21 studies (out of the 2,997 initially identified) in their synthesis, representing the views of 1,239 women from 15 countries (Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Gambia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda) who were either interviewed directly or gave their opinion as part of a focus group.
The researchers identified three main themes. The first theme reflects women's views that pregnancy is a healthy state and so saw little reason to visit health professionals when they perceived no risk to their well-being—the researchers called this theme, “pregnancy as socially contingent and physiologically healthy.” The second theme relates to women's limited financial resources, so that even when antenatal care was offered free of charge, the cost of transport to get there, the loss of earnings associated with the visit, and the possibility of having to pay for medicines meant that women were unable to attend—the researchers called this theme “resource use and survival in conditions of extreme poverty.” The third theme the researchers identified related to women's views that the antenatal services were inadequate and that the benefits of attending did not outweigh any potential harms. For example, pregnant women who initially recognized the benefits of antenatal care were often disappointed by the lack of resources they found when they got there and, consequently, decided not to return. The researchers called this theme “not getting it right the first time.”
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that there may be a misalignment between the principles that underpin the provision of antenatal care and the beliefs and socio-economic contexts of pregnant women in LMICs, meaning that even high-quality antenatal care may not be used by some pregnant women unless their views and concerns are addressed. The themes identified in this meta-synthesis could provide the basis for a new approach to the design and delivery of antenatal care that takes local beliefs and values and resource availability into account. Such programs might help ensure that antenatal care meets pregnant women's expectations and treats them appropriately so that they want to regularly attend antenatal care.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001373.
Wikipedia describes antenatal care (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The World Health Organization has a wealth of information relating to pregnancy, including antenatal care
The UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has evidence-based guidelines on antenatal care
The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood has a series of web pages and links relating to respectful maternity care in LMICs
International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics is an international organization with connections to various maternity initiatives in LMICs
International Confederation of Midwives has details of the Millennium Development Goals relating to maternity care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001373
PMCID: PMC3551970  PMID: 23349622
9.  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
10.  A systematic review protocol: social network analysis of tobacco use 
Systematic Reviews  2014;3:85.
Background
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the world. Evidence indicates that behaviours such as tobacco use can influence social networks, and that social network structures can influence behaviours. Social network analysis provides a set of analytic tools to undertake methodical analysis of social networks. We will undertake a systematic review to provide a comprehensive synthesis of the literature regarding social network analysis and tobacco use. The review will answer the following research questions: among participants who use tobacco, does social network structure/position influence tobacco use? Does tobacco use influence peer selection? Does peer selection influence tobacco use?
Methods
We will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systemic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and search the following databases for relevant articles: CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature); Informit Health Collection; PsycINFO; PubMed/MEDLINE; Scopus/Embase; Web of Science; and the Wiley Online Library. Keywords include tobacco; smoking; smokeless; cigarettes; cigar and ‘social network’ and reference lists of included articles will be hand searched. Studies will be included that provide descriptions of social network analysis of tobacco use.
Qualitative, quantitative and mixed method data that meets the inclusion criteria for the review, including methodological rigour, credibility and quality standards, will be synthesized using narrative synthesis. Results will be presented using outcome statistics that address each of the research questions.
Discussion
This systematic review will provide a timely evidence base on the role of social network analysis of tobacco use, forming a basis for future research, policy and practice in this area. This systematic review will synthesise the evidence, supporting the hypothesis that social network structures can influence tobacco use. This will also include exploring the relationship between social network structure, social network position, peer selection, peer influence and tobacco use across all age groups, and across different demographics. The research will increase our understanding of social networks and their impact on tobacco use, informing policy and practice while highlighting gaps in the literature and areas for further research.
doi:10.1186/2046-4053-3-85
PMCID: PMC4134108  PMID: 25108616
Protocol; systematic review; tobacco use; smoking; social networks
11.  Use of handheld computers in clinical practice: a systematic review 
Background
Many healthcare professionals use smartphones and tablets to inform patient care. Contemporary research suggests that handheld computers may support aspects of clinical diagnosis and management. This systematic review was designed to synthesise high quality evidence to answer the question; Does healthcare professionals’ use of handheld computers improve their access to information and support clinical decision making at the point of care?
Methods
A detailed search was conducted using Cochrane, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Science and Social Science Citation Indices since 2001. Interventions promoting healthcare professionals seeking information or making clinical decisions using handheld computers were included. Classroom learning and the use of laptop computers were excluded. Two authors independently selected studies, assessed quality using the Cochrane Risk of Bias tool and extracted data. High levels of data heterogeneity negated statistical synthesis. Instead, evidence for effectiveness was summarised narratively, according to each study’s aim for assessing the impact of handheld computer use.
Results
We included seven randomised trials investigating medical or nursing staffs’ use of Personal Digital Assistants. Effectiveness was demonstrated across three distinct functions that emerged from the data: accessing information for clinical knowledge, adherence to guidelines and diagnostic decision making. When healthcare professionals used handheld computers to access clinical information, their knowledge improved significantly more than peers who used paper resources. When clinical guideline recommendations were presented on handheld computers, clinicians made significantly safer prescribing decisions and adhered more closely to recommendations than peers using paper resources. Finally, healthcare professionals made significantly more appropriate diagnostic decisions using clinical decision making tools on handheld computers compared to colleagues who did not have access to these tools. For these clinical decisions, the numbers need to test/screen were all less than 11.
Conclusion
Healthcare professionals’ use of handheld computers may improve their information seeking, adherence to guidelines and clinical decision making. Handheld computers can provide real time access to and analysis of clinical information. The integration of clinical decision support systems within handheld computers offers clinicians the highest level of synthesised evidence at the point of care. Future research is needed to replicate these early results and to identify beneficial clinical outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1472-6947-14-56
PMCID: PMC4099138  PMID: 24998515
Handheld computers; Smartphone; Information-seeking behaviour; Evidence-based practice; Knowledge translation; Clinical decision support systems; Clinical guidelines; Diagnostic decision making
12.  Why don't physicians adhere to guideline recommendations in practice? An analysis of barriers among Dutch general practitioners 
Background
Despite wide distribution and promotion of clinical practice guidelines, adherence among Dutch general practitioners (GPs) is not optimal. To improve adherence to guidelines, an analysis of barriers to implementation is advocated. Because different recommendations within a guideline can have different barriers, in this study we focus on key recommendations rather than guidelines as a whole, and explore the barriers to implementation perceived by Dutch GPs.
Methods
A qualitative study using six focus groups was conducted, in which 30 GPs participated, with an average of seven per session. Fifty-six key recommendations were derived from twelve national guidelines. In each focus group, barriers to the implementation of the key recommendations of two clinical practice guidelines were discussed. Focus group discussions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data was analysed by using an existing framework of barriers.
Results
The barriers varied largely within guidelines, with each key recommendation having a unique pattern of barriers. The most perceived barriers were lack of agreement with the recommendations due to lack of applicability or lack of evidence (68% of key recommendations), environmental factors such as organisational constraints (52%), lack of knowledge regarding the guideline recommendations (46%), and guideline factors such as unclear or ambiguous guideline recommendations (43%).
Conclusion
Our study findings suggest a broad range of barriers. As the barriers largely differ within guidelines, tailored and barrier-driven implementation strategies focusing on key recommendations are needed to improve adherence in practice. In addition, guidelines should be more transparent concerning the underlying evidence and applicability, and further efforts are needed to address complex issues such as comorbidity in guidelines. Finally, it might be useful to include focus groups in continuing medical education as an innovative medium for guideline education and implementation.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-54
PMCID: PMC2734568  PMID: 19674440
13.  Psychosocial Factors That Shape Patient and Carer Experiences of Dementia Diagnosis and Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001331.
A systematic review of qualitative studies conducted by Frances Bunn and colleagues identifies and describes the experiences of patients and caregivers on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia.
Background
Early diagnosis and intervention for people with dementia is increasingly considered a priority, but practitioners are concerned with the effects of earlier diagnosis and interventions on patients and caregivers. This systematic review evaluates the qualitative evidence about how people accommodate and adapt to the diagnosis of dementia and its immediate consequences, to guide practice.
Methods and Findings
We systematically reviewed qualitative studies exploring experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia, and their carers, around diagnosis and the transition to becoming a person with dementia. We searched PubMed, PsychINFO, Embase, CINAHL, and the British Nursing Index (all searched in May 2010 with no date restrictions; PubMed search updated in February 2012), checked reference lists, and undertook citation searches in PubMed and Google Scholar (ongoing to September 2011). We used thematic synthesis to identify key themes, commonalities, barriers to earlier diagnosis, and support identified as helpful. We identified 126 papers reporting 102 studies including a total of 3,095 participants. Three overarching themes emerged from our analysis: (1) pathways through diagnosis, including its impact on identity, roles, and relationships; (2) resolving conflicts to accommodate a diagnosis, including the acceptability of support, focusing on the present or the future, and the use or avoidance of knowledge; and (3) strategies and support to minimise the impact of dementia. Consistent barriers to diagnosis include stigma, normalisation of symptoms, and lack of knowledge. Studies report a lack of specialist support particularly post-diagnosis.
Conclusions
There is an extensive body of qualitative literature on the experiences of community-dwelling individuals with dementia on receiving and adapting to a diagnosis of dementia. We present a thematic analysis that could be useful to professionals working with people with dementia. We suggest that research emphasis should shift towards the development and evaluation of interventions, particularly those providing support after diagnosis.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Dementia is a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer disease is the most common type of dementia. People with dementia usually have problems with two or more cognitive functions—thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment. Dementia is rare before the age of 65, but about a quarter of people over 85 have dementia. Because more people live longer these days, the number of patients with dementia is increasing. It is estimated that today between 40 and 50 million people live with dementia worldwide. By 2050, this number is expected to triple.
One way to study what dementia means to patients and their carers (most often spouses or other family members) is through qualitative research. Qualitative research aims to develop an in-depth understanding of individuals' experiences and behavior, as well as the reasons for their feelings and actions. In qualitative studies, researchers interview patients, their families, and doctors. When the studies are published, they usually contain direct quotations from interviews as well as summaries by the scientists who designed the interviews and analyzed the responses.
Why Was This Study Done?
This study was done to better understand the experiences and attitudes of patients and their carers surrounding dementia diagnosis. It focused on patients who lived and were cared for within the community (as opposed to people living in senior care facilities or other institutions). Most cases of dementia are progressive, meaning symptoms get worse over time. Diagnosis often happens at an advanced stage of the disease, and some patients never receive a formal diagnosis. This could have many possible reasons, including unawareness or denial of symptoms by patients and people close to them. The study was also trying to understand barriers to early diagnosis and what type of support is useful for newly diagnosed patients and carers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a systematic search for published qualitative research studies that reported on the experience, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes surrounding dementia diagnosis. They identified and reviewed 102 such studies. Among the quotations and summaries of the individual studies, they looked for prominent and recurring themes. They also compared and contrasted the respective experiences of patients and carers.
Overall, they found that the complexity and variety of responses to a diagnosis of dementia means that making the diagnosis and conveying it to patients and carers is challenging. Negative connotations associated with dementia, inconsistent symptoms, and not knowing enough about the signs and symptoms were commonly reported barriers to early dementia diagnosis. It was often the carer who initiated the search for help from a doctor, and among patients, willingness and readiness to receive a diagnosis varied. Being told one had dementia had a big impact on a patient's identity and often caused feelings of loss, anger, fear, and frustration. Spouses had to adjust to increasingly unequal relationships and the transition to a role as carer. The strain associated with this often caused health problems in the carers as well. On the other hand, studies examining the experience of couples often reported that they found ways to continue working together as a team.
Adjusting to a dementia diagnosis is a complex process. Initially, most patients and carers experienced conflicts, for example, between autonomy and safety, between recognizing the need for help but reluctance to accept it, or between living in the present and dealing with anxiety about and preparing for the future. As these were resolved and as the disease progressed, the attitudes of patients and carers towards dementia often became more balanced and accepting. Many patients and their families adopted strategies to cope with the impact of dementia on their lives in order to manage the disease and maintain some sort of normal life. These included practical strategies involving reminders, social strategies such as relying on family support, and emotional strategies such as using humor. At some point many patients and carers reported that they were able to adopt positive mindsets and incorporate dementia in their lives.
The studies also pointed to an urgent need for support from outside the family, both right after diagnosis and subsequently. General practitioners and family physicians have important roles in helping patients and carers to get access to information, social and psychological support, and community care. The need for information was reported to be ongoing and varied, and meeting it required a variety of sources and formats. Key needs for patients and carers mentioned in the studies include information on financial aids and entitlements early on, and continued access to supportive professionals and specialists.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Qualitative studies to date on how patients and carers respond to a diagnosis of dementia provide a fairly detailed picture of their experiences. The summary provided here should help professionals to understand better the challenges patients and carers face around the time of diagnosis as well as their immediate and evolving needs. The results also suggest that future research should focus on the development and evaluation of ways to meet those needs.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331.
Wikipedia has pages on dementia and qualitative research (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Alzheimer Europe, an umbrella organization of 34 Alzheimer associations from 30 countries across Europe, has a page on the different approaches to research
The UK Department of Health has pages on dementia, including guidelines for carers of people with dementia
MedlinePlus also has information about dementia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001331
PMCID: PMC3484131  PMID: 23118618
14.  Patient Adherence to Tuberculosis Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(7):e238.
Background
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and has received considerable attention in recent years, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where it is closely associated with HIV/AIDS. Poor adherence to treatment is common despite various interventions aimed at improving treatment completion. Lack of a comprehensive and holistic understanding of barriers to and facilitators of, treatment adherence is currently a major obstacle to finding effective solutions. The aim of this systematic review of qualitative studies was to understand the factors considered important by patients, caregivers and health care providers in contributing to TB medication adherence.
Methods and Findings
We searched 19 electronic databases (1966–February 2005) for qualitative studies on patients', caregivers', or health care providers' perceptions of adherence to preventive or curative TB treatment with the free text terms “Tuberculosis AND (adherence OR compliance OR concordance)”. We supplemented our search with citation searches and by consulting experts. For included studies, study quality was assessed using a predetermined checklist and data were extracted independently onto a standard form. We then followed Noblit and Hare's method of meta-ethnography to synthesize the findings, using both reciprocal translation and line-of-argument synthesis. We screened 7,814 citations and selected 44 articles that met the prespecified inclusion criteria. The synthesis offers an overview of qualitative evidence derived from these multiple international studies. We identified eight major themes across the studies: organisation of treatment and care; interpretations of illness and wellness; the financial burden of treatment; knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about treatment; law and immigration; personal characteristics and adherence behaviour; side effects; and family, community, and household support. Our interpretation of the themes across all studies produced a line-of-argument synthesis describing how four major factors interact to affect adherence to TB treatment: structural factors, including poverty and gender discrimination; the social context; health service factors; and personal factors. The findings of this study are limited by the quality and foci of the included studies.
Conclusions
Adherence to the long course of TB treatment is a complex, dynamic phenomenon with a wide range of factors impacting on treatment-taking behaviour. Patients' adherence to their medication regimens was influenced by the interaction of a number of these factors. The findings of our review could help inform the development of patient-centred interventions and of interventions to address structural barriers to treatment adherence.
From a systematic review of qualitative research, Munro and coauthors found that a range of interacting factors can lead to patients deciding not to complete their course of tuberculosis treatment.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year nearly nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection, usually of the lungs—and about two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with active tuberculosis sneeze or cough. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several strong antibiotics daily for at least six months but many patients fail to complete this treatment because the drugs have unpleasant side-effects and the treatment is complicated. In addition, people often feel better soon after starting treatment so they stop taking their tablets before all the bacteria in their body are dead. Poor treatment adherence (poor compliance) means that people remain infectious for longer and are more likely to relapse and die. It also contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis. To help people complete their treatment, the World Health Organization recommends a strategy known as DOTS (directly observed treatment, short course). As part of this strategy, a health worker or a tuberculosis treatment supporter—a person nominated by the health worker and the patient—watches the patient take his/her antibiotics.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although DOTS has contributed to improved tuberculosis control, better patient compliance is needed to halt the global tuberculosis epidemic. Treatment adherence is a complex behavioral issue and improving treatment outcomes for tuberculosis (and for other diseases) requires a full understanding of the factors that prevent people taking medicines correctly and those that help them complete their treatment. In this study, the researchers have done a systematic review (a study in which the medical literature is surveyed and appraised using defined methods to reach a consensus view on a specific question) of qualitative studies that asked patients, carers, and health workers which factors contributed to adherence to tuberculosis treatment. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data so, for example, a qualitative study on tuberculosis treatment might ask people how the treatment made them feel whereas a quantitative study might count bacteria in patient samples.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched electronic databases and reference lists for qualitative studies on adherence to tuberculosis treatments and also consulted experts on tuberculosis treatment. They carefully read the 44 published papers that met their predefined inclusion criteria and then used a method called “meta-ethnography” to compare the factors (themes) associated with good or bad adherence in the different studies and to synthesize (reach) a consensus view of which factors influence adherence to tuberculosis treatment. The researchers identified eight major factors associated with adherence to treatment. These included: health service factors such as the organization of treatment and care; social context (family, community and household influences); and the financial burden of treatment. Finally, the researchers interpreted the themes that emerged from the studies to build a simple model that proposes that adherence to tuberculosis treatment is influenced by four interacting sets of factors—structural factors (including poverty and gender discrimination), social context factors, health service factors, and personal factors (including attitudes towards treatment and illness).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this systematic review of qualitative research on patient adherence to tuberculosis treatment are inevitably limited by the quality and scope of the original research. Consequently, further studies into patients' understanding of tuberculosis and its treatment are needed. Nevertheless, the findings and the model proposed by the researchers indicate that patients often take their tuberculosis medications under very difficult conditions and that they cannot control many of the factors that prevent them taking their drugs. So, although current efforts to improve adherence to tuberculosis treatments emphasize instilling a willingness to take their medications into patients, this systematic review suggests that more must be done to address how factors such as poverty and gender affect treatment adherence and to tailor support systems to patients' needs. Most importantly, it indicates that future interventions should involve patients more in the decisions made about their treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040238.
MedlinePlus has an encyclopedia page on tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
See the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease fact sheet on tuberculosis
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a variety of fact sheets and other information resources on tuberculosis
World Health Organization has produced the 2007 Global Tuberculosis Control report (in English with key findings in French and Spanish), information on DOTS (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese), and A Guide for Tuberculosis Treatment Supporters
See the brief guide to systematic reviews, published by the British Medical Journal
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040238
PMCID: PMC1925126  PMID: 17676945
15.  A systematic scoping review of adherence to reporting guidelines in health care literature 
Background
Reporting guidelines have been available for the past 17 years since the inception of the Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials statement in 1996. These guidelines were developed to improve the quality of reporting of studies in medical literature. Despite the widespread availability of these guidelines, the quality of reporting of medical literature remained suboptimal. In this study, we assess the current adherence practice to reporting guidelines; determine key factors associated with better adherence to these guidelines; and provide recommendations to enhance adherence to reporting guidelines for future studies.
Methods
We undertook a systematic scoping review of systematic reviews of adherence to reporting guidelines across different clinical areas and study designs. We searched four electronic databases (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Web of Science, Embase, and Medline) from January 1996 to September 2012. Studies were included if they addressed adherence to one of the following guidelines: Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT), Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA), Quality of Reporting of Meta-analysis (QUOROM), Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomized Designs (TREND), Meta-analysis Of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) and Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE). A protocol for this study was devised. A literature search, data extraction, and quality assessment were performed independently by two authors in duplicate. This study reporting follows the PRISMA guidelines.
Results
Our search retrieved 5159 titles, of which 50 were eligible. Overall, 86.0% of studies reported suboptimal levels of adherence to reporting guidelines. Factors associated with better adherence included journal impact factor and endorsement of guidelines, publication date, funding source, multisite studies, pharmacological interventions and larger studies.
Conclusion
Reporting guidelines in the clinical literature are important to improve the standards of reporting of clinical studies; however, adherence to these guidelines remains suboptimal. Action is therefore needed to enhance the adherence to these standards. Strategies to enhance adherence include journal editorial policies endorsing these guidelines.
doi:10.2147/JMDH.S43952
PMCID: PMC3649856  PMID: 23671390
scoping; systematic; review; adherence; reporting; guidelines
16.  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
17.  Healthcare professionals' intentions to use clinical guidelines: a survey using the theory of planned behaviour 
Background
Finnish clinical guidelines are evolving toward integration of knowledge modules into the electronic health record in the Evidence-Based Medicine electronic Decision Support project. It therefore became important to study which factors affect professionals' intention to use clinical guidelines generally in their decision-making on patient care. A theory-based approach is a possible solution to explore determinants of professionals' behaviour. The study's aim was to produce baseline information for developers and implementers by using the theory of planned behaviour.
Methods
A cross-sectional internet-based survey was carried out in Finnish healthcare organisations within three hospital districts. The target population (n = 2,252) included physicians, nurses, and other professionals, of whom 806 participated. Indicators of the intention to use clinical guidelines were observed by using a theory-based questionnaire. The main data analysis was done by means of multiple linear regressions.
Results
The results indicated that all theory-based variables--the attitude toward the behaviour, the subjective norm, and the perceived behaviour control--were important factors associated with the professionals' intention to use clinical practice guidelines for their area of specialisation in the decisions they would make on the care of patients in the next three months. In addition, both the nurse and the physician factors had positive (p < 0.01) effects on this intention in comparison to other professionals. In the similar models for all professions, the strongest factor for the physicians was the perceived behaviour control, while the key factor for the nurses and the other professionals was the subjective norm. This means that context- and guideline-based factors either facilitate or hinder the intention to use clinical guidelines among physicians and, correspondingly, normative beliefs related to social pressures do so for nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Conclusions
The results confirm suggestions that the theory of planned behaviour is a suitable theoretical basis for implementing clinical guidelines in healthcare practices. Our new finding was that, in general, profession had an effect on intention to use clinical guidelines in patient care. Therefore, the study reaffirms the general contention that different strategies need to be in place when clinical guidelines are targeted at different professional groups.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-5-51
PMCID: PMC2902417  PMID: 20587021
18.  Why are physicians not persuaded by scientific evidence? A grounded theory interview study 
Background
The government-led "evidence-based guidelines for cataract treatment" labelled pirenoxine and glutathione eye drops, which have been regarded as the standard care for cataracts in Japan, as lacking evidence of effectiveness, causing great upset among ophthalmologists and professional ophthalmology societies. This study investigated the reasons why such "scientific evidence of treatment effectiveness" is not easily accepted by physicians, and thus, why they do not change their clinical practices to reflect such evidence.
Methods
We conducted a qualitative study based on grounded theory to explore physicians' awareness of "scientific evidence" and evidence-supported treatment in relation to pirenoxine and glutathione eye drops, and to identify current barriers to the implementation of evidence-based policies in clinical practice. Interviews were conducted with 35 ophthalmologists and 3 general practitioners on their prescribing behaviours, perceptions of eye drop effectiveness, attitudes toward the eye drop guideline recommendations, and their perceptions of "scientific evidence."
Results
Although few physicians believed that eye drops are remarkably effective, the majority of participants reported that they prescribed eye drops to patients who asked for them, and that such patients accounted for a considerable proportion of those with cataracts. Physicians seldom attempted to explain to patients the limitations of effectiveness or to encourage them to stop taking the eye drops. Physicians also acknowledged the benefits of prescribing such drugs, which ultimately outweighed any uncertainty of their effectiveness. These benefits included economic incentives and a desire to be appreciated by patients. Changes in clinical practice were considered to bring little benefit to physicians or patients. Government approval, rarity of side effects, and low cost of the drops also encouraged prescription.
Conclusion
Physicians occasionally provide treatment without expecting remarkable therapeutic effectiveness, as exemplified by the use of eye drops. This finding highlights that scientific evidence alone cannot easily change physicians' clinical practices, unless evidence-based practices are accepted by the general public and supported by health policy.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-92
PMCID: PMC1555581  PMID: 16872522
19.  Interactions between Non-Physician Clinicians and Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(11):e1001561.
In a systematic review of studies of interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry, Quinn Grundy and colleagues found that many of the issues identified for physicians' industry interactions exist for non-physician clinicians.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
With increasing restrictions placed on physician–industry interactions, industry marketing may target other health professionals. Recent health policy developments confer even greater importance on the decision making of non-physician clinicians. The purpose of this systematic review is to examine the types and implications of non-physician clinician–industry interactions in clinical practice.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE and Web of Science from January 1, 1946, through June 24, 2013, according to PRISMA guidelines. Non-physician clinicians eligible for inclusion were: Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, Physician Assistants, pharmacists, dieticians, and physical or occupational therapists; trainee samples were excluded. Fifteen studies met inclusion criteria. Data were synthesized qualitatively into eight outcome domains: nature and frequency of industry interactions; attitudes toward industry; perceived ethical acceptability of interactions; perceived marketing influence; perceived reliability of industry information; preparation for industry interactions; reactions to industry relations policy; and management of industry interactions. Non-physician clinicians reported interacting with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Clinicians across disciplines met with pharmaceutical representatives regularly and relied on them for practice information. Clinicians frequently received industry “information,” attended sponsored “education,” and acted as distributors for similar materials targeted at patients. Clinicians generally regarded this as an ethical use of industry resources, and felt they could detect “promotion” while benefiting from industry “information.” Free samples were among the most approved and common ways that clinicians interacted with industry. Included studies were observational and of varying methodological rigor; thus, these findings may not be generalizable. This review is, however, the first to our knowledge to provide a descriptive analysis of this literature.
Conclusions
Non-physician clinicians' generally positive attitudes toward industry interactions, despite their recognition of issues related to bias, suggest that industry interactions are normalized in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. Industry relations policy should address all disciplines and be implemented consistently in order to mitigate conflicts of interest and address such interactions' potential to affect patient care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Making and selling health care goods (including drugs and devices) and services is big business. To maximize the profits they make for their shareholders, companies involved in health care build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, organizing educational meetings, providing samples of their products, giving gifts, and holding sponsored events. These relationships help to keep physicians informed about new developments in health care but also create the potential for causing harm to patients and health care systems. These relationships may, for example, result in increased prescription rates of new, heavily marketed medications, which are often more expensive than their generic counterparts (similar unbranded drugs) and that are more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than long-established drugs. They may also affect the provision of health care services. Industry is providing an increasingly large proportion of routine health care services in many countries, so relationships built up with physicians have the potential to influence the commissioning of the services that are central to the treatment and well-being of patients.
Why Was This Study Done?
As a result of concerns about the tension between industry's need to make profits and the ethics underlying professional practice, restrictions are increasingly being placed on physician–industry interactions. In the US, for example, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act now requires US manufacturers of drugs, devices, and medical supplies that participate in federal health care programs to disclose all payments and gifts made to physicians and teaching hospitals. However, other health professionals, including those with authority to prescribe drugs such as pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and nurse practitioners are not covered by this legislation or by similar legislation in other settings, even though the restructuring of health care to prioritize primary care and multidisciplinary care models means that “non-physician clinicians” are becoming more numerous and more involved in decision-making and medication management. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers examine the nature and implications of the interactions between non-physician clinicians and industry.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 published studies that examined interactions between non-physician clinicians (Registered Nurses, nurse prescribers, midwives, pharmacists, Physician Assistants, and dieticians) and industry (corporations that produce health care goods and services). They extracted the data from 16 publications (representing 15 different studies) and synthesized them qualitatively (combined the data and reached word-based, rather than numerical, conclusions) into eight outcome domains, including the nature and frequency of interactions, non-physician clinicians' attitudes toward industry, and the perceived ethical acceptability of interactions. In the research the authors identified, non-physician clinicians reported frequent interactions with the pharmaceutical and infant formula industries. Most non-physician clinicians met industry representatives regularly, received gifts and samples, and attended educational events or received educational materials (some of which they distributed to patients). In these studies, non-physician clinicians generally regarded these interactions positively and felt they were an ethical and appropriate use of industry resources. Only a minority of non-physician clinicians felt that marketing influenced their own practice, although a larger percentage felt that their colleagues would be influenced. A sizeable proportion of non-physician clinicians questioned the reliability of industry information, but most were confident that they could detect biased information and therefore rated this information as reliable, valuable, or useful.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These and other findings suggest that non-physician clinicians generally have positive attitudes toward industry interactions but recognize issues related to bias and conflict of interest. Because these findings are based on a small number of studies, most of which were undertaken in the US, they may not be generalizable to other countries. Moreover, they provide no quantitative assessment of the interaction between non-physician clinicians and industry and no information about whether industry interactions affect patient care outcomes. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that industry interactions are normalized (seen as standard) in clinical practice across non-physician disciplines. This normalization creates the potential for serious risks to patients and health care systems. The researchers suggest that it may be unrealistic to expect that non-physician clinicians can be taught individually how to interact with industry ethically or how to detect and avert bias, particularly given the ubiquitous nature of marketing and promotional materials. Instead, they suggest, the environment in which non-physician clinicians practice should be structured to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of interactions with industry.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by James S. Yeh and Aaron S. Kesselheim
The American Medical Association provides guidance for physicians on interactions with pharmaceutical industry representatives, information about the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, and a toolkit for preparing Physician Payments Sunshine Act reports
The International Council of Nurses provides some guidance on industry interactions in its position statement on nurse-industry relations
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice website, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion.
The Institute of Medicine's Report on Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The University of California, San Francisco, Office of Continuing Medical Education offers a course called Marketing of Medicines
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001561
PMCID: PMC3841103  PMID: 24302892
20.  Experiences and barriers to implementation of clinical practice guideline for depression in Korea 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:150.
Background
Clinical guidelines can improve health-care delivery, but there are a number of challenges in adopting and implementing the current practice guidelines for depression. The aim of this study was to determine clinical experiences and perceived barriers to the implementation of these guidelines in psychiatric care.
Methods
A web-based survey was conducted with 386 psychiatric specialists to inquire about experiences and attitudes related to the depression guidelines and barriers influencing the use of the guidelines. Quantitative data were analyzed, and qualitative data were transcribed and coded manually.
Results
Almost three quarters of the psychiatrists (74.6%) were aware of the clinical guidelines for depression, and over half of participants (55.7%) had had clinical experiences with the guidelines in practice. The main reported advantages of the guidelines were that they helped in clinical decision making and provided informative resources for the patients and their caregivers. Despite this, some psychiatrists were making treatment decisions that were not in accordance with the depression guidelines. Lack of knowledge was the main obstacle to the implementation of guidelines assessed by the psychiatrists. Other complaints addressed difficulties in accessing the guidelines, lack of support for mental health services, and general attitudes toward guideline necessity. Overall, the responses suggested that adding a summary booklet, providing teaching sessions, and improving guidance delivery systems could be effective tools for increasing depression guideline usage.
Conclusion
Individual barriers, such as lack of awareness and lack of familiarity, and external barriers, such as the supplying system, can affect whether physicians’ implement the guidelines for the treatment of depression in Korea. These findings suggest that further medical education to disseminate guidelines contents could improve public health for depression.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-150
PMCID: PMC3681685  PMID: 23705908
Depressive disorder; Practice guidelines; Health care surveys; Questionnaires
21.  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
22.  An exploration of how guideline developer capacity and guideline implementability influence implementation and adoption: study protocol 
Background
Practice guidelines can improve health care delivery and outcomes but several issues challenge guideline adoption, including their intrinsic attributes, and whether and how they are implemented. It appears that guideline format may influence accessibility and ease of use, which may overcome attitudinal barriers of guideline adoption, and appear to be important to all stakeholders. Guideline content may facilitate various forms of decision making about guideline adoption relevant to different stakeholders. Knowledge and attitudes about, and incentives and capacity for implementation on the part of guideline sponsors may influence whether and how they develop guidelines containing these features, and undertake implementation. Examination of these issues may yield opportunities to improve guideline adoption.
Methods
The attributes hypothesized to facilitate adoption will be expanded by thematic analysis, and quantitative and qualitative summary of the content of international guidelines for two primary care (diabetes, hypertension) and institutional care (chronic ulcer, chronic heart failure) topics. Factors that influence whether and how guidelines are implemented will be explored by qualitative analysis of interviews with individuals affiliated with guideline sponsoring agencies.
Discussion
Previous research examined guideline implementation by measuring rates of compliance with recommendations or associated outcomes, but this produced little insight on how the products themselves, or their implementation, could be improved. This research will establish a theoretical basis upon which to conduct experimental studies to compare the cost-effectiveness of interventions that enhance guideline development and implementation capacity. Such studies could first examine short-term outcomes predictive of guideline utilization, such as recall, attitude toward, confidence in, and adoption intention. If successful, then long-term objective outcomes reflecting the adoption of processes and associated patient care outcomes could be evaluated.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-4-36
PMCID: PMC3224968  PMID: 19573246
23.  Guidelines; from foe to friend? Comparative interviews with GPs in Norway and Denmark 
Background
GPs follow clinical guidelines to varying degrees across practices, regions and countries, but a review study of GPs' attitudes to guidelines found no systematic variation in attitudes between studies from different countries. However, earlier qualitative studies on this topic are not necessarily comparable. Hence, there is a lack of empirical comparative studies of GP's attitudes to following clinical guidelines. In this study we reproduce a Norwegian focus group study of GPs' general attitudes to national clinical guidelines in Denmark and conduct a comparative analysis of the findings.
Methods
A strategic sample of GP's in Norway (27 GPs) and Denmark (18 GPs) was interviewed about their attitudes to guidelines, and the interviews coded and compared for common themes and differences.
Results
Similarities dominated the comparative material, but the analysis also revealed notable differences in attitudes between Norwegian and the Danish GPs. The most important difference was related to GP's attitudes to clinical guidelines that incorporated economic evaluations. While the Norwegian GPs were sceptical to guidelines that incorporated economic evaluation, the Danish GPs regarded these guidelines as important and legitimate. We suggest that the differences could be explained by the history of guideline development in Norway and Denmark respectively. Whereas government guidelines for rationing services were only newly introduced in Norway, they have been used in Denmark for many years.
Conclusion
Comparative qualitative studies of GPs attitudes to clinical guidelines may reveal cross-national differences relating to the varying histories of guideline development. Further studies are needed to explore this hypothesis.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-10-17
PMCID: PMC2827473  PMID: 20078891
24.  Practice Guidelines and Measurement: State-of-the-Science 
Nursing outlook  2003;51(2):65-69.
Background
Restructuring of the health care system has exposed widespread evidence of practice variability and has highlighted the benefits associated with nurses embracing interdisciplinary, best practice solutions to health care delivery. Clinical practice guidelines have emerged as a valuable interdisciplinary evidenced-based tool.
Purpose
This article explores the state of the science of guideline measurement and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of measurement approaches.
Method
A computerized search of Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Health and Psychosocial Instruments, Medline, and PubMed for the search term “practice guidelines” was combined with the following key words: attitudes, adherence, effect, impact, instrument, and measurement.
Discussion
Measurement issues identified in this analysis are related to the manner in which guidelines are written and the lack of a standard methodology for measurement.
Conclusions
The challenge remains to establish sound measures of adherence and impact while controlling for confounding variables. Questions remain as to the format of practice guidelines to best grant autonomy while offering recommendations that are clear and measurable.
PMCID: PMC3107711  PMID: 12712141
25.  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

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