Clinicians adopting evidence based guidelines: a case study with thromboprophylaxis

Publisher:
BioMed Central Ltd.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
BMC Health Services Research, 2011, 11 pp. 240 - 250
Issue Date:
2011-01
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Background: Venous Thromboembolism (VTE) is a cause of hospital mortality and managing its morbidity is associated with significant expenditure. Uptake of evidenced based guideline recommendations intended to prevent VTE in hospital settings is sub-optimal. This study was conducted to explore clinicians' attitudes and the clinical environment in which they work to understand their reluctance to adopt VTE prophylaxis guidelines. Methods: Between February and November 2009, 40 hospital employed doctors from 2 Australian metropolitan hospitals were interviewed in depth. Qualitative data were analysed according to thematic methodology. Results: Analysis of interviews revealed that barriers to evidence based practice include i) the fragmented system of care delivery where multiple members of teams and multiple teams are responsible for each patient's care, and in the case of VTE, where everyone shares responsibility and no-one in particular is responsible; ii) the culture of practice where team practice is tailored to that of the team head, and where medicine is considered an 'art' in which guidelines should be adapted to each patient rather than applied universally. Interviewees recommend clear allocation of responsibility and reminders to counteract VTE risk assessment being overlooked. Conclusions: Senior clinicians are the key enablers for practice change. They will need to be convinced that guideline compliance adds value to their patient care. Then with the support of systems in the organisation designed to minimize the effects of care fragmentation, they will drive practice changes in their teams. We believe that evidence based practice is only possible with a coordinated program that addresses individual, cultural and organisational constraints.
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