The role of clinical opinion leaders in guideline implementation and quality improvement

Chest. 2000 Aug;118(2 Suppl):24S-32S. doi: 10.1378/chest.118.2_suppl.24s.


Background: The lag between the publication of clinical and health-services research and the application of this information is substantial and delays health-care improvement. A wide range of corrective strategies are being used to address this issue.

Objectives: Evolution in the use of significant opinion leaders is described. Hospital quality improvement projects, undertaken by the Healthcare Education and Research Foundation (HERF), are used to illustrate the roles assumed by clinical opinion leaders. Specific theoretical frameworks are reviewed that are fundamental to successful implementation of opinion leader strategies, as well as key research on the use of clinical opinion leaders.

Results: Over the past 12 years, HERF has identified the need to address not only the information needs of clinicians and organizations but also the social and organizational factors that interfere with the application of research and guidelines. The complexity of this task cannot be underestimated. However, armed with well-developed guidelines and the opportunity to work within structured guideline implementation programs with well-defined objectives and systematically applied methods, HERF's experience suggest local clinicians and communities can meet this challenge.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / administration & dosage
  • Aged
  • Aspirin / administration & dosage
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Drug Utilization
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Health Services Research / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Physician's Role*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Quality of Health Care*


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Aspirin