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1.  Why don't physicians adhere to guideline recommendations in practice? An analysis of barriers among Dutch general practitioners 
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.
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.
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%).
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.
PMCID: PMC2734568  PMID: 19674440
2.  Identifying barriers and tailoring interventions to improve the management of urinary tract infections and sore throat: a pragmatic study using qualitative methods 
Theories of behaviour change indicate that an analysis of factors that facilitate or impede change is helpful when trying to influence professional practice. The aim of this study was to identify barriers to implementing evidence-based guidelines for urinary tract infection and sore throat in general practice in Norway, and to tailor interventions to address these barriers.
We used a checklist to identify barriers and possible interventions to address these in an iterative process that included a review of the literature, brainstorming, focus groups, a pilot study, small group discussions and interviews.
We identified at least one barrier for each category. Both guidelines recommended increased use of telephone consultations and reduced use of laboratory tests, and the barriers and the interventions were similar for the two guidelines. The complexity of changing routines involving patients, general practitioners and general practitioner assistants, loss of income with telephone consultations, fear of overlooking serious disease, perceived patient expectations and lack of knowledge about the evidence for the guidelines were the most prominent barriers. The interventions that were tailored to address these barriers included support for change processes in the practices, increasing the fee for telephone consultations, patient information leaflets and computer-based decision support and reminders.
A systematic approach using qualitative methods helped identify barriers and generate ideas for tailoring interventions to support the implementation of guidelines for the management of urinary tract infections and sore throat. Lack of resources limited our ability to address all of the barriers adequately.
PMCID: PMC150569  PMID: 12622873
3.  Randomised controlled trial of nitrofurantoin versus placebo in the treatment of uncomplicated urinary tract infection in adult women. 
BACKGROUND: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common and have been treated with apparent success with antimicrobials for many years. However, there is a paucity of placebo-controlled clinical trials. AIM: To measure the symptomatic and bacteriological short-term effect of nitrofurantoin treatment versus placebo, in the treatment of uncomplicated UTI in adult non-pregnant women. DESIGN OF STUDY: Randomised placebo-controlled trial in general practice. SETTING: Non-pregnant women, aged between 15 and 54 years old, consulting a general practitioner for symtoms suggestive of uncomplicated lower UTI and with pyuria (positive for leucocyte esterase test). METHOD: A dipslide was inoculated in first-void midstream urine and sent for examinion. The patients were randomised to receive nitrofurantoin 100 mg or placebo four times daily for three days. After three, seven, and 14 days a new dipslide was inoculated and symptoms of UTI were checked or improvement of symptoms and bacteriuria. RESULTS: Of 166 women consulting with symptoms suggestive for UTI, 78 had pyuia and agreed to participate in the study (the clinically suspected UTI group); of these, 40 received nitrofurantoin and 38 received placebo. The result for combined symptomatic improvement and cure after three days was 27/35 in the nitrofurantoin group and 19/35 in the placebo group (c2 with Yates' correction P = 0.008; number needed to treat [NNT] = 4.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.3 to 79). After seven days, combined improvement and cure was observed in 30/34 and 17/33 respectively (P = 0.003, NNT = 2.7, 95% CI = 1.8 to 6.0). At inclusion, 56 women had bacteriuria of > or = 10(5) CFU/ml (the bacteriologically proven UTI group). Of these, 29 received nitrofurantoin and 27 received placebo. After three days the bacteriological cure was 21/26 in the treatment group, compared with 5/25 in the placebo group (P < 0.001; NNT = 1.6, 95% CI= 1.2 to 2.6). After seven days the bacteriological cure rate was 17/23 in the intervention group and 9/22 in the placebo group (P = 0.05, NNT = 3, 95% CI = 1.7 to 17). CONCLUSION: In women with bacteriologically proven UTI, nitrofurantoin was significantly more effective than placebo in achieving bacteriological cure and symptomatic relief in just three days; this was still present after seven days. In patients with clinically suspected UTI the symptomatic effect was statistically significant after
PMCID: PMC1314413  PMID: 12236276
4.  Barriers to the implementation of preconception care guidelines as perceived by general practitioners: a qualitative study 
Despite strong evidence of the benefits of preconception interventions for improving pregnancy outcomes, the delivery and uptake of preconception care and periconceptional folate supplementation remain low. General practitioners play a central role in the delivery of preconception care. Understanding general practitioners’ perceptions of the barriers and enablers to implementing preconception care allows for more appropriate targeting of quality improvement interventions. Consequently, the aim of this study was to examine the barriers and enablers to the delivery and uptake of preconception care guidelines from general practitioners’ perspective using theoretical domains related to behaviour change.
We conducted a qualitative study using focus groups consisting of 22 general practitioners who were recruited from three regional general practice support organisations. Questions were based on the theoretical domain framework, which describes 12 domains related to behaviour change. General practitioners’ responses were classified into predefined themes using a deductive process of thematic analysis.
Beliefs about capabilities, motivations and goals, environmental context and resources, and memory, attention and decision making were the key domains identified in the barrier analysis. Some of the perceived barriers identified by general practitioners were time constraints, the lack of women presenting at the preconception stage, the numerous competing preventive priorities within the general practice setting, issues relating to the cost of and access to preconception care, and the lack of resources for assisting in the delivery of preconception care guidelines. Perceived enablers identified by general practitioners included the availability of preconception care checklists and patient brochures, handouts, and waiting room posters outlining the benefits and availability of preconception care consultations.
Our study has identified some of the barriers and enablers to the delivery and uptake of preconception care guidelines, as perceived by general practitioners. Relating these barriers to a theoretical domain framework provides a clearer understanding of some of the psychological aspects that are involved in the behaviour of general practitioners towards the delivery and uptake of preconception care. Further research prioritising these barriers and the theoretical domains to which they relate to is necessary before a methodologically rigorous intervention can be designed, implemented, and evaluated.
PMCID: PMC3565953  PMID: 23368720
Preconception care; Focus groups; Family practice; Practice guideline; Barrier analysis
5.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
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.
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
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
• 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.
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
6.  Developing a questionnaire to identify perceived barriers for implementing the Dutch physical therapy COPD clinical practice guideline 
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3645972  PMID: 23631555
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); Data collection tools; Guideline; Physical therapy; Pulmonary rehabilitation
7.  Effect of a Stewardship Intervention on Adherence to Uncomplicated Cystitis and Pyelonephritis Guidelines in an Emergency Department Setting 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87899.
To evaluate adherence to uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTI) guidelines and UTI diagnostic accuracy in an emergency department (ED) setting before and after implementation of an antimicrobial stewardship intervention.
The intervention included implementation of an electronic UTI order set followed by a 2 month period of audit and feedback. For women age 18 – 65 with a UTI diagnosis seen in the ED with no structural or functional abnormalities of the urinary system, we evaluated adherence to guidelines, antimicrobial use, and diagnostic accuracy at baseline, after implementation of the order set (period 1), and after audit and feedback (period 2).
Adherence to UTI guidelines increased from 44% (baseline) to 68% (period 1) to 82% (period 2) (P≤.015 for each successive period). Prescription of fluoroquinolones for uncomplicated cystitis decreased from 44% (baseline) to 14% (period 1) to 13% (period 2) (P<.001 and P = .7 for each successive period). Unnecessary antibiotic days for the 200 patients evaluated in each period decreased from 250 days to 119 days to 52 days (P<.001 for each successive period). For 40% to 42% of cases diagnosed as UTI by clinicians, the diagnosis was deemed unlikely or rejected with no difference between the baseline and intervention periods.
A stewardship intervention including an electronic order set and audit and feedback was associated with increased adherence to uncomplicated UTI guidelines and reductions in unnecessary antibiotic therapy and fluoroquinolone therapy for cystitis. Many diagnoses were rejected or deemed unlikely, suggesting a need for studies to improve diagnostic accuracy for UTI.
PMCID: PMC3912125  PMID: 24498394
8.  Supporting the improvement and management of prescribing for urinary tract infections (SIMPle): protocol for a cluster randomized trial 
Trials  2013;14:441.
The overuse of antimicrobials is recognized as the main selective pressure driving the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance in human bacterial pathogens. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are among the most common infections presented in primary care and empirical antimicrobial treatment is currently recommended. Previous research has identified that a substantial proportion of Irish general practitioners (GPs) prescribe antimicrobials for UTIs that are not in accordance with the Guidelines for Antimicrobial Prescribing in Primary Care in Ireland. The aim of this trial is to design, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a complex intervention on GP antimicrobial prescribing and adult (18 years of age and over) patients’ antimicrobial consumption when presenting with a suspected UTI.
The Supporting the Improvement and Management of Prescribing for urinary tract infections (SIMPle) study is a three-armed intervention with practice-level randomization. Adult patients presenting with suspected UTIs in primary care will be included in the study.
The intervention integrates components for both GPs and patients. For GPs the intervention includes interactive workshops, audit and feedback reports and automated electronic prompts summarizing recommended first-line antimicrobial treatment and, for one intervention arm, a recommendation to consider delayed antimicrobial treatment. For patients, multimedia applications and information leaflets are included. Thirty practices will be recruited to the study; laboratory data indicate that 2,038 patients will be prescribed an antimicrobial in the study. The primary outcome is a change in prescribing of first-line antimicrobials for UTIs in accordance with the Guidelines for Antimicrobial Prescribing in Primary Care in Ireland. The study will take place over 15 months with a six-month intervention period. Data will be collected through a remote electronic anonymized data-extraction system, a text-messaging system and GP and patient interviews and surveys. The intervention will be strengthened by the implementation of a social marketing framework and an economic evaluation.
Trial registration
This intervention is registered at, ID NCT01913860.
PMCID: PMC3880352  PMID: 24359543
Antimicrobial; Intervention; Prescribing; Primary care; Social marketing; Urinary tract infection
9.  Management of children's urinary tract infections in Dutch family practice: a cohort study 
Optimal clinical management of childhood urinary tract infections (UTI) potentiates long-term positive health effects. Insight into the quality of care in Dutch family practices for UTIs was limited, particularly regarding observation periods of more than a year. Our aim was to describe the clinical management of young children's UTIs in Dutch primary care and to compare this to the national guideline recommendations.
In this cohort study, all 0 to 6-year-old children with a diagnosed UTI in 2001 were identified within the Netherlands Information Network of General Practitioners (LINH), which comprises 120 practices. From the Dutch guideline on urinary tract infections, seven indicators were derived, on prescription, follow-up, and referral.
Of the 284 children with UTI who could be followed for three years, 183 (64%) were registered to have had one cystitis episode, 52 (18%) had two episodes, and 43 (15%) had three or more episodes. Another six children were registered to have had one or two episodes of acute pyelonephritis. Overall, antibiotics were prescribed for 66% of the children having had ≤ 3 cystitis episodes, two-thirds of whom received the antibiotics of first choice. About 30% of all episodes were followed up in general practice. Thirty-eight children were referred (14%), mostly to a paediatrician (76%). Less than one-third of the children who should have been referred was actually referred.
Treatment of childhood UTIs in Dutch family practice should be improved with respect to prescription, follow-up, and referral. Quality improvement should address the low incidence of urinary tract infections in children in family practice.
PMCID: PMC1829394  PMID: 17355617
10.  Systematic tailoring for the implementation of guideline recommendations for anxiety and depressive disorders in general practice: perceived usefulness of tailored interventions 
BMC Family Practice  2013;14:94.
The uptake of guideline recommendations in general practice can potentially be improved by designing implementation interventions that are tailored to prospectively identify barriers. However, there is insufficient evidence regarding the most effective and efficient approaches to tailoring. Our study provides an insight into the usefulness of tailored interventions to prospectively identified barriers affecting the uptake of guideline recommendations for anxiety and depressive disorders experienced by general practitioners (GPs) in their local context.
A qualitative study was conducted, in which 23 GPs gave informed consent and 14 finally participated. To explore the barriers affecting the uptake of guideline recommendations, a face-to-face interview was conducted with each GP to generate a personalised list. In response to this list, interventions were tailored to remove the barriers experienced by the GPs. To examine the perceived usefulness of the tailored interventions, telephone interviews were conducted after one year and coded through thematic coding. The analysis was descriptive in nature.
The most frequently perceived barriers were: a lack of knowledge and skills, no agreement on guideline recommendations, negative outcome expectancy, low self-efficacy, no consensus with patients, and a lack of information about treatments provided by mental health professionals, together with waiting lists. The tailored interventions ‘peer group supervision’ and ‘individualised telephone consultations’ were perceived as useful by most GPs. Besides the tailored interventions, a perceived benefit of using a self-rating scale, measuring depressive and anxiety symptoms, and the idea of delivering better patient care, were supportive in the uptake of guideline recommendations.
Our findings suggest that tailoring interventions to prospectively identified barriers, affecting the uptake of guideline recommendations for anxiety and depressive disorders, as perceived by GPs, may enhance the implementation of these guideline recommendations.
PMCID: PMC3726506  PMID: 23826887
Anxiety disorders; Depressive disorders; Primary care; Implementation; Tailored interventions; Guidelines; Qualitative research
11.  Barriers and facilitators to the implementation of clinical practice guidelines: A cross-sectional survey among physicians in Estonia 
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3532376  PMID: 23234504
Clinical practice guidelines; Implementation; Estonia; World health organization; Barriers; Facilitators
12.  Acceptance and perceived barriers of implementing a guideline for managing low back in general practice 
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.
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.
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.
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].
PMCID: PMC2275295  PMID: 18257923
13.  Barriers to guideline implementation and educational needs of general practitioners regarding heart failure: a qualitative study 
Objectives: A clinical practice guideline (CPG) contains specifically developed recommendations that can serve physicians as a decision aid in evidence-based practice. The implementation of heart failure (HF) CPGs represents a challenge in general practice. As part of the development of a tailored curriculum, aim of this study was to identify barriers of guideline adherence and needs for medical education (CME) in HF care.
Methods: We conducted a modified focus group with elements of a workshop of three hours duration. Thirteen GPs collected and discussed together and parallel in smaller groups barriers of guideline implementation. Afterwards they performed a needs assessment for a tailored CME curriculum for chronic HF. The content of the discussions was analysed qualitatively according to Mayring and categorised thematically.
Results: Barriers of guideline adherence were found in the following areas: doctor: procedural knowledge (knowledge gaps), communicative and organisational skills (e.g. time management) and attitude (dissatisfaction with time-money-relation). Patients: individual case-related problems (multimorbidity, psychiatric comorbidity, expectations and beliefs). Doctor and patient: Adherence and barriers of communication. Main measures for improvement of care concerned the areas of the identified barriers of guideline adherence with the focus on application-oriented training of the abovementioned procedural knowledge and skills, but also the supply of tools (like patient information leaflets) and patient education.
Conclusion: For a CME-curriculum for HF tailored to the needs of GPs, a comprehensive educational approach seems necessary. It should be broad-based and include elements of knowledge and skills to be addressed and trained case-related. Additional elements should include support in the implementation of organisational processes in the practice and patient education.
PMCID: PMC3374142  PMID: 22737201
heart failure; family practice; clinical practice guidelines; qualitative research; continuing medical education
14.  Perceived barriers to guideline adherence: A survey among general practitioners 
BMC Family Practice  2011;12:98.
Despite considerable efforts to promote and support guideline use, adherence is often suboptimal. Barriers to adherence vary not only across guidelines but also across recommendations within guidelines. The aim of this study was to assess the perceived barriers to guideline adherence among GPs by focusing on key recommendations within guidelines.
We conducted a cross-sectional electronic survey among 703 GPs in the Netherlands. Sixteen key recommendations were derived from four national guidelines. Six statements were included to address the attitudes towards guidelines in general. In addition, GPs were asked to rate their perceived adherence (one statement) and the perceived barriers (fourteen statements) for each of the key recommendations, based on an existing framework.
264 GPs (38%) completed the questionnaire. Although 35% of the GPs reported difficulties in changing routines and habits to follow guidelines, 89% believed that following guidelines leads to improved patient care. Perceived adherence varied between 52 and 95% across recommendations (mean: 77%). The most perceived barriers were related to external factors, in particular patient ability and behaviour (mean: 30%) and patient preferences (mean: 23%). Lack of applicability of recommendations in general (mean: 22%) and more specifically to individual patients (mean: 25%) were also frequently perceived as barriers. The scores on perceived barriers differed largely between recommendations [minimum range 14%; maximum range 67%].
Dutch GPs have a positive attitude towards the NHG guidelines, report high adherence rates and low levels of perceived barriers. However, the perceived adherence and perceived barriers varied largely across recommendations. The most perceived barriers across recommendations are patient related, suggesting that current guidelines do not always adequately incorporate patient preferences, needs and abilities. It may be useful to provide tools such as decision aids, supporting the flexible use of guidelines to individual patients in practice.
PMCID: PMC3197492  PMID: 21939542
15.  Detection of Intracellular Bacterial Communities in Human Urinary Tract Infection 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e329.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common bacterial infections and are predominantly caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). While UTIs are typically considered extracellular infections, it has been recently demonstrated that UPEC bind to, invade, and replicate within the murine bladder urothelium to form intracellular bacterial communities (IBCs). These IBCs dissociate and bacteria flux out of bladder facet cells, some with filamentous morphology, and ultimately establish quiescent intracellular reservoirs that can seed recurrent infection. This IBC pathogenic cycle has not yet been investigated in humans. In this study we sought to determine whether evidence of an IBC pathway could be found in urine specimens from women with acute UTI.
Methods and Findings
We collected midstream, clean-catch urine specimens from 80 young healthy women with acute uncomplicated cystitis and 20 asymptomatic women with a history of UTI. Investigators were blinded to culture results and clinical history. Samples were analyzed by light microscopy, immunofluorescence, and electron microscopy for evidence of exfoliated IBCs and filamentous bacteria. Evidence of IBCs was found in 14 of 80 (18%) urines from women with UTI. Filamentous bacteria were found in 33 of 80 (41%) urines from women with UTI. None of the 20 urines from the asymptomatic comparative group showed evidence of IBCs or filaments. Filamentous bacteria were present in all 14 of the urines with IBCs compared to 19 (29%) of 66 samples with no evidence of IBCs (p < 0.001). Of 65 urines from patients with E. coli infections, 14 (22%) had evidence of IBCs and 29 (45%) had filamentous bacteria, while none of the gram-positive infections had IBCs or filamentous bacteria.
The presence of exfoliated IBCs and filamentous bacteria in the urines of women with acute cystitis suggests that the IBC pathogenic pathway characterized in the murine model may occur in humans. The findings support the occurrence of an intracellular bacterial niche in some women with cystitis that may have important implications for UTI recurrence and treatment.
Analyzing urine specimens from women with bladder infections, Scott Hultgren and colleagues find evidence for intracellular bacterial communities, which have been associated with recurrent urinary tract infections in mice.
Editors' Summary
Every year, nearly 10 million people in the United States—mainly women—consult their doctors because of a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs occur when bacteria living in the gut—usually Escherichia coli—get transferred to the opening of the urethra (the tube through which urine leaves the body), as may occur during sexual intercourse. From here, the bacteria can move into the bladder (the muscular sac that stores urine until it is excreted) where they can multiply and cause cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). If cystitis is untreated, the bacteria can move further up the urinary tract and infect the kidneys (which make urine). Symptoms of UTIs include pain when urinating, frequent and intense urges to urinate, and cloudy urine. UTIs are diagnosed by looking for bacteria and white blood cells (that fight infection) in the urine; the usual treatment is a short course of antibiotics.
Why Was This Study Done?
Half the women who get a UTI will have another attack within a year, often caused by the same bacterial strain. It is generally thought that these strains persist in the gut and reinfect the urinary tract, but recent animal studies suggest an additional explanation. In mice, E. coli strains that cause UTIs can invade the cells lining the bladder. Here, they replicate and form so-called intracellular bacterial communities (IBCs). Many of the infected cells fall off the bladder's surface into the urine, but IBCs also release bacteria, many of which have a long, slender filamentous appearance (E. coli usually have a simple rod-like shape). Immune system cells normally kill bacteria in the urine but cannot deal with filamentous bacteria. In mice, these bacteria can then reinfect the lining of the bladder and establish long-lasting intracellular reservoirs of bacteria that are protected from antibiotics and probably from the host immune system. If this IBC cycle occurs in people, it might explain why some UTIs recur and might suggest ways to manage these recurrences. In this study, therefore, the researchers have investigated whether there is an IBC cycle in women.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected urine from 80 young women with cystitis and from 20 women with no symptoms who had had cystitis previously. They identified the type of bacteria in each sample and looked for IBCs and filamentous bacteria using light microscopy, electron microscopy, and a technique called immunofluorescence. None of the women without cystitis had IBCs or filamentous bacteria in their urine, but IBCs were found in nearly 1 in 5, and filamentous bacteria were in nearly half, of urine samples from the women with cystitis. All the urine samples that contained IBCs also contained filamentous bacteria. All of the women with IBCs and most of them with filamentous bacteria had E coli infections. Finally, the women with IBCs and filamentous bacteria in their urine had higher bacterial counts in their urine and had symptoms of cystitis for slightly longer than those without.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the IBC cycle identified in mice occurs in at least some women with UTIs and may be associated with infections caused by E. coli. Because only one urine sample was collected from each woman, the cycle may be more common than these findings suggest. That is, in some cases the sample may have been taken at a time when there were no IBCs or filamentous bacteria in the urine. Also, because samples were taken at only one point in time, this study does not show whether intracellular bacteria persist and contribute to recurrent UTIs in women, as they appear to do in mice. To provide more information about the IBC cycle in people and its clinical relevance, additional studies are needed to examine whether there are any associations between the presence of IBCs and filamentous bacteria and treatment responses and recurrence, and to examine what is actually happening in the bladder during UTI. Until such studies are done, the clinical implications of the current findings remain uncertain. However, one possibility is that the presence of IBCs and filamentous bacteria in urine might identify people who would benefit from longer treatment with antibiotics or treatment with antibiotics that kill bacteria inside human cells.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains pages on urinary tract infection, on cystitis, and on recurrent cystitis (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the UK National Health Service Direct health encyclopedia on urinary tract infections and on cystitis
The US National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse provides information on urinary tract infections (in English and Spanish)
Information is available from the American Urological Association on urinary tract infections in adults
PMCID: PMC2140087  PMID: 18092884
Respiratory Medicine  2011;106(3):374-381.
Despite efforts to disseminate guidelines for managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), adherence to COPD guidelines remains suboptimal. Barriers to adhering to guidelines remain poorly understood.
Clinicians from two general medicine practices in New York City were surveyed to identify barriers to implementing seven recommendations from the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) guidelines. Barriers assessed included unfamiliarity, disagreement, low perceived benefit, low self-efficacy, and time constraints. Exact conditional regression was used to identify barriers independently associated with non-adherence.
The survey was completed by 154 clinicians. Adherence was lowest to referring patients with a forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) <80% predicted to pulmonary rehabilitation (5%); using FEV1 to guide management (12%); and ordering pulmonary function tests (PFTs) in smokers (17%). Adherence was intermediate to prescribing inhaled corticosteroids when FEV1 <50% predicted (41%) and long-acting bronchodilators when FEV1 <80% predicted (54%). Adherence was highest for influenza vaccination (90%) and smoking cessation counseling (91%). In unadjusted analyses, low familiarity with the guidelines, low self-efficacy, and time constraints were significantly associated with non-adherence to ≥2 recommendations. In adjusted analyses, low self-efficacy was associated with less adherence to prescribing inhaled corticosteroids (OR: 0.28; 95% CI: 0.10, 0.74) and time constraints were associated with less adherence to ordering PFTs in smokers (OR: 0.31; 95% CI: 0.08, 0.99).
Poor familiarity with recommendations, low self-efficacy, and time constraints are important barriers to adherence to COPD guidelines. This information can be used to develop tailored interventions to improve guideline adherence.
PMCID: PMC3377746  PMID: 22000501
COPD; guidelines; adherence; primary care
17.  How general practitioners manage children with urinary tract infection: an audit in the former Northern Region. 
BACKGROUND: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in childhood are common and may be difficult to diagnose because of non-specific symptoms and technical problems with urine collection. Active management is important because UTIs may cause permanent renal scarring in young children. AIM: To determine how general practitioners (GPs) manage children with suspected UTIs. METHOD: A postal questionnaire to 494 GPs in the former Northern Region (a random selection of 26.2%) asking how they manage children with suspected UTI and their perception of their training needs. RESULTS: A total of 333 (67.4%) GPs replied. On weekdays, up to 22.9% of GPs treated children who had symptoms suggestive of UTI without collecting a diagnostic urine sample, and up to 64.8% did so at weekends. Urine collection was satisfactory in 73.2% of boys and girls aged under one year, but in only 50.4% of older boys and 48.0% of older girls, caused in part by the use of unreliably 'cleaned' potties in the older group. On weekdays, up to 87.2% of GPs culture the urine, but up to 4.8% use dipsticks as the sole diagnostic test; at weekends, only up to 58.6% culture urines, and up to 19.1% rely on dipsticks alone. Up to 11.0% of GPs examine urine under a microscope for bacteria to test for UTI on weekdays and at weekends. Up to 23.8% of GPs who collect urines on weekdays wait for a positive culture result before starting antibiotics. At weekends, only 3.9% of GPs build in this delay to treatment, mainly because far fewer take urine samples at all. GPs refer younger children for diagnostic imaging more readily than older ones, and boys more readily than girls at all ages. Although virtually all GPs refer all children under five years, some still do so only after recurrent infections. Over half the GPs wanted more training in managing UTI in children. CONCLUSION: There is a wide variation in clinical practice by GPs. Some always appropriately collect and test urine samples, treat without delay and refer for imaging after one proven UTI. Some never collect urines, treat blindly and refer only young infants with recurrent UTIs. Many vary their standards of practice from weekdays to weekends. The provision for GPs of clear, local, practical guidelines, drawn up between paediatricians and GPs and backed up with study days, might produce a consistent improvement in standards.
PMCID: PMC1313004  PMID: 9219406
18.  Cluster randomised controlled trial of tailored interventions to improve the management of urinary tract infections in women and sore throat 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7360):367.
To assess the effectiveness of tailored interventions to implement guidelines for urinary tract infections in women and sore throat.
Unblinded, cluster randomised pretest-post-test trial.
142 general practices in Norway.
72 practices received interventions to implement guidelines for urinary tract infection and 70 practices received interventions to implement guidelines for sore throat, serving as controls for each other. 59 practices in the urinary tract infection group and 61 practices in the sore throat group completed the study. Outcomes were measured in 16 939 consultations for sore throat and 9887 consultations for urinary tract infection.
Interventions were developed to overcome identified barriers to implementing the guidelines. The main components of the tailored interventions were patient educational material, computer based decision support and reminders, an increase in the fee for telephone consultations, and interactive courses for general practitioners and practice assistants.
Main outcome measures
Changes in rates of use of antibiotics, laboratory tests, and telephone consultations.
Patients in the sore throat group were 3% less likely to receive antibiotics after the intervention. Women with symptoms of urinary tract infection in the intervention group were 5.1% less likely to have a laboratory test ordered. No significant differences were found between the groups for the other outcomes. Large variation was found across the included practices in the rates of antibiotic prescription, use of laboratory tests and telephone consultations, and in the extent of change for all three outcome measures.
Passively delivered, complex interventions targeted at identified barriers to change had little effect in changing practice.
What is already known on this topicInterventions to change professional practice have small to moderate effects at bestMultifaceted interventions targeted at identified barriers to change are more likely to be effective for implementing guidelines than a simple intervention selected by chanceWhat this study addsLarge variation exists in the extent of change before and after the delivery of tailored interventions to support implementing guidelinesRigorous methods are needed to evaluate interventions to change practiceWith passively delivered, complex interventions targeted at identified barriers there was only a 3% decrease in antibiotic prescribing for sore throat and a 5% decrease in test use for urinary tract infection in women
PMCID: PMC117890  PMID: 12183309
19.  Implementing clinical guidelines in psychiatry: a qualitative study of perceived facilitators and barriers 
BMC Psychiatry  2010;10:8.
Translating scientific evidence into daily practice is complex. Clinical guidelines can improve health care delivery, but there are a number of challenges in guideline adoption and implementation. Factors influencing the effective implementation of guidelines remain poorly understood. Understanding of barriers and facilitators is important for development of effective implementation strategies. The aim of this study was to determine perceived facilitators and barriers to guideline implementation and clinical compliance to guidelines for depression in psychiatric care.
This qualitative study was conducted at two psychiatric clinics in Stockholm, Sweden. The implementation activities at one of the clinics included local implementation teams, seminars, regular feedback and academic detailing. The other clinic served as a control and only received guidelines by post. Data were collected from three focus groups and 28 individual, semi-structured interviews. Content analysis was used to identify themes emerging from the interview data.
The identified barriers to, and facilitators of, the implementation of guidelines could be classified into three major categories: (1) organizational resources, (2) health care professionals' individual characteristics and (3) perception of guidelines and implementation strategies. The practitioners in the implementation team and at control clinics differed in three main areas: (1) concerns about control over professional practice, (2) beliefs about evidence-based practice and (3) suspicions about financial motives for guideline introduction.
Identifying the barriers to, and facilitators of, the adoption of recommendations is an important way of achieving efficient implementation strategies. The findings of this study suggest that the adoption of guidelines may be improved if local health professionals actively participate in an ongoing implementation process and identify efficient strategies to overcome barriers on an organizational and individual level. Getting evidence into practice and implementing clinical guidelines are dependent upon more than practitioners' motivation. There are factors in the local context, e.g. culture and leadership, evaluation, feedback on performance and facilitation, -that are likely to be equally influential.
PMCID: PMC2822755  PMID: 20089141
20.  Provider Adherence to Implementation of Clinical Practice Guidelines for Neurogenic Bowel in Adults With Spinal Cord Injury 
Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) have been published on a number of topics in spinal cord injury (SCI) medicine. Research in the general medical literature shows that the distribution of CPGs has a minimal effect on physician practice without targeted implementation strategies. The purpose of this study was to determine (a) whether dissemination of an SCI CPG improved the likelihood that patients would receive CPG recommended care and (b) whether adherence to CPG recommendations could be improved through a targeted implementation strategy. Specifically, this study addressed the “Neurogenic Bowel Management in Adults with Spinal Cord Injury” Clinical Practice Guideline published in March 1998 by the Consortium for Spinal Cord Medicine
CPG adherence was determined from medical record review at 6 Veterans Affairs SCI centers for 3 time periods: before guideline publication (T1), after guideline publication but before CPG implementation (T2), and after targeted CPG implementation (T3). Specific implementation strategies to enhance guideline adherence were chosen to address the barriers identified by SCI providers in focus groups before the intervention.
Overall adherence to recommendations related to neurogenic bowel did not change between T1 and T2 (P = not significant) but increased significantly between T2 and T3 (P < 0.001) for 3 of 6 guideline recommendations. For the other 3 guideline recommendations, adherence rates were noted to be high at T1.
While publication of the CPG alone did not alter rates of provider adherence, the use of a targeted implementation plan resulted in increases in adherence rates with some (3 of 6) CPG recommendations for neurogenic bowel management.
PMCID: PMC1808267  PMID: 16869086
Spinal cord injuries; Neurogenic bowel; Practice guidelines; Consensus guidelines; Patient education
21.  Health worker perspectives on barriers to delivery of routine tuberculosis diagnostic evaluation services in Uganda: a qualitative study to guide clinic-based interventions 
Studies of the quality of tuberculosis (TB) diagnostic evaluation of patients in high burden countries have generally shown poor adherence to international or national guidelines. Health worker perspectives on barriers to improving TB diagnostic evaluation are critical for developing clinic-level interventions to improve guideline implementation.
We conducted structured, in-depth interviews with staff at six district-level health centers in Uganda to elicit their perceptions regarding barriers to TB evaluation. Interviews were transcribed, coded with a standardized framework, and analyzed to identify emergent themes. We used thematic analysis to develop a logic model depicting health system and contextual barriers to recommended TB evaluation practices. To identify possible clinic-level interventions to improve TB evaluation, we categorized findings into predisposing, enabling, and reinforcing factors as described by the PRECEDE model, focusing on potentially modifiable behaviors at the clinic-level.
We interviewed 22 health center staff between February 2010 and November 2011. Participants identified key health system barriers hindering TB evaluation, including: stock-outs of drugs/supplies, inadequate space and infrastructure, lack of training, high workload, low staff motivation, and poor coordination of health center services. Contextual barrier challenges to TB evaluation were also reported, including the time and costs borne by patients to seek and complete TB evaluation, poor health literacy, and stigma against patients with TB. These contextual barriers interacted with health system barriers to contribute to sub-standard TB evaluation. Examples of intervention strategies that could address these barriers and are related to PRECEDE model components include: assigned mentors/peer coaching for new staff (targets predisposing factor of low motivation and need for support to conduct job duties); facilitated workshops to implement same day microscopy (targets enabling factor of patient barriers to completing TB evaluation), and recognition/incentives for good TB screening practices (targets low motivation and self-efficacy).
Our findings suggest that health system and contextual barriers work together to impede TB diagnosis at health centers and, if not addressed, could hinder TB case detection efforts. Qualitative research that improves understanding of the barriers facing TB providers is critical to developing targeted interventions to improve TB care.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0668-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4307676  PMID: 25609495
Tuberculosis; Qualitative research; Diagnosis; Barriers; Provider behavior; PRECEDE
22.  Randomised controlled trial of tailored interventions to improve the management of anxiety and depressive disorders in primary care 
Anxiety and depressive disorders are highly prevalent disorders and are mostly treated in primary care. The management of these disorders by general practitioners is not always consistent with prevailing guidelines because of a variety of factors. Designing implementation strategies tailored to prospectively identified barriers could lead to more guideline-recommended care. Although tailoring of implementation strategies is promoted in practice, little is known about the effect on improving the quality of care for the early recognition, diagnosis, and stepped care treatment allocation in patients with anxiety or depressive disorders in general practice. This study examines whether the tailored strategy supplemented with training and feedback is more effective than providing training and feedback alone.
In this cluster randomised controlled trial, a total of 22 general practices will be assigned to one of two conditions: (1) training, feedback, and tailored interventions and (2) training and feedback. The primary outcome measure is the proportion of patients who have been recognised to have anxiety and/or depressive disorder. The secondary outcome measures in patients are severity of anxiety and depressive symptoms, level of functioning, expectation towards and experience with care, quality of life, and economic costs. Measures are taken after the start of the intervention at baseline and at three- and six-month follow-ups. Secondary outcome measures in general practitioners are adherence to guideline-recommended care in care that has been delivered, the proportion of antidepressant prescriptions, and number of referrals to specialised mental healthcare facilities. Data will be gathered from the electronic medical patient records from the patients included in the study. In a process evaluation, the identification of barriers to change and the relations between prospectively identified barriers and improvement interventions selected for use will be described, as well as the factors that influence the provision of guideline-recommended care.
It is hypothesised that the adherence to guideline recommendations will be improved by designing implementation interventions that are tailored to prospectively identified barriers in the local context of general practitioners. Currently, there is insufficient evidence on the most effective and efficient approaches to tailoring, including how barriers should be identified and how interventions should be selected to address the barriers.
Trial registration
PMCID: PMC3161882  PMID: 21777463
23.  The design of the SAFE or SORRY? study: a cluster randomised trial on the development and testing of an evidence based inpatient safety program for the prevention of adverse events 
Patients in hospitals and nursing homes are at risk of the development of, often preventable, adverse events (AEs), which threaten patient safety. Guidelines for prevention of many types of AEs are available, however, compliance with these guidelines appears to be lacking. Besides general barriers that inhibit implementation, this non-compliance is associated with the large number of guidelines competing for attention. As implementation of a guideline is time-consuming, it is difficult for organisations to implement all available guidelines. Another problem is lack of feedback about performance using quality indicators of guideline based care and lack of a recognisable, unambiguous system for implementation. A program that allows organisations to implement multiple guidelines simultaneously may facilitate guideline use and thus improve patient safety.
The aim of this study is to develop and test such an integral patient safety program that addresses several AEs simultaneously in hospitals and nursing homes. This paper reports the design of this study.
Methods and design
The patient safety program addresses three AEs: pressure ulcers, falls and urinary tract infections. It consists of bundles and outcome and process indicators based on the existing evidence based guidelines. In addition it includes a multifaceted tailored implementation strategy: education, patient involvement, and a computerized registration and feedback system. The patient safety program was tested in a cluster randomised trial on ten hospital wards and ten nursing home wards. The baseline period was three months followed by the implementation of the patient safety program for fourteen months. Subsequently the follow-up period was nine months. Primary outcome measure was the incidence of AEs on every ward. Secondary outcome measures were the utilization of preventive interventions and the knowledge of nurses regarding the three topics. Randomisation took place on ward level. The results will be analysed separately for hospitals and nursing homes.
Major challenges were the development of the patient safety program including a digital registration and feedback system and the implementation of the patient safety program.
Trial registration
Trial registration: ID [NCT00365430]
PMCID: PMC2675519  PMID: 19338655
24.  Diabetes and hypertension guidelines and the primary health care practitioner in Barbados: knowledge, attitudes, practices and barriers-a focus group study 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:96.
Audits have shown numerous deficiencies in the quality of hypertension and diabetes primary care in Barbados, despite distribution of regional guidelines. This study aimed to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes and practices, and the barriers faced by primary care practitioners in Barbados concerning the recommendations of available diabetes and hypertension guidelines.
Focus groups using a moderator's manual were conducted at all 8 public sector polyclinics, and 5 sessions were held for private practitioners.
Polyclinic sessions were attended by 63 persons (17 physicians, 34 nurses, 3 dieticians, 3 podiatrists, 5 pharmacists, and 1 other), and private sector sessions by 20 persons (12 physicians, 1 nurse, 3 dieticians, 2 podiatrists and 2 pharmacists).
Practitioners generally thought they gave a good quality of care. Commonwealth Caribbean Medical Research Council 1995 diabetes and 1998 hypertension guidelines, and the Ministry of Health 2001 diabetes protocol had been seen by 38%, 32% and 78% respectively of polyclinic practitioners, 67%, 83%, and 33% of private physicians, and 25%, 0% and 38% of non-physician private practitioners. Current guidelines were considered by some to be outdated, unavailable, difficult to remember and lacking in advice to tackle barriers. Practitioners thought that guidelines should be circulated widely, promoted with repeated educational sessions, and kept short. Patient oriented versions of the guidelines were welcomed.
Patient factors causing barriers to ideal outcome included denial and fear of stigma; financial resources to access an appropriate diet, exercise and monitoring equipment; confusion over medication regimens, not valuing free medication, belief in alternative medicines, and being unable to change habits. System barriers included lack of access to blood investigations, clinic equipment and medication; the lack of human resources in polyclinics; and an uncoordinated team approach. Patients faced cultural barriers with regards to meals, exercise, appropriate body size, footwear, medication taking, and taking responsibility for one's health; and difficulty getting time off work to attend clinic.
Guidelines need to be promoted repeatedly, and implemented with strategies to overcome barriers. Their development and implementation must be guided by input from all providers on the primary health care team.
PMCID: PMC3014884  PMID: 21129180
25.  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
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.
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
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
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)
PMCID: PMC4122360  PMID: 25093720

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