[Individual and collective facilitators of and barriers to the use of clinical practice guidelines by physicians: a literature review]

Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique. 2003 Feb;51(1 Pt 1):65-80.
[Article in French]


Background: The effectiveness of Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG) diffusion to physicians depends on local barriers or facilitators related to the CPG, to the individual clinician and the professional context. Our project aimed to retrieve, by a literature review, all the facilitators of and barriers to physician's adherence to CPG and propose a classification of these barriers and facilitators.

Method: A comprehensive review of the literature. We searched in Medline, Healthstar, Current contents, Cochrane library databases, consulted experts in the domain of CPG implementation and reviewed study bibliography to retrieve all original reports studying facilitators of and barriers to physician's adherence to CPG (inclusion criteria). The article selection followed a two stepped procedure: first, quick reading of the retrieved articles, then reading in depth of the potentially appropriate articles.

Results: Fifty nine studies published between 1986 and 2001 were eligible. The majority (29 studies) used a quantitative design, having studied the statistical association between some a priori defined barriers or facilitators (collected by questionnaires or by record audits) and CPG use. The others have used a qualitative design (barriers and facilitators collected through qualitative methods or open-ended questions in questionnaires) (21 studies) or a mixed design (qualitative and quantitative) (8 studies). Study samples sizes ranked between 10 and 1878 physicians. The CPG were mostly about prevention or curative care. The retrieved barriers or facilitators were classified into three categories: 1) the CPG characteristics (form, compatibility, trialability, scientific basis, observability, adaptability, legal implications) (27 articles), 2) the physician characteristics (knowledge about CPG, attitude and agreement to CPG, psychological and socio-demographic and economic characteristics, job satisfaction, training) (38 articles), 3) the physician environment (divided into 3a the physician human environment--the patient influence and the pairs influence (16 articles)--and 3b the physician organizational environment--the internal environment and the external environment (33 articles).

Conclusion: The interpretation of the results is hampered by the absence of previous conceptual framework of the barriers or facilitators and by the absence of multifactorial analysis.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Physician's Role
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*