A lack of awareness of the "best" current practice is frequently cited as a major barrier to the practice of evidence-based medicine. The purpose of this study was to survey Canadian anesthesiologists to determine their knowledge and practices associated with prophylactic perioperative beta blockade, a therapy that has been widely discussed in the literature and has the potential for a significant positive impact on patient outcomes. We sent questionnaires to 1234 members of the Canadian Anesthesiologists' Society. The overall response rate was 54%. Ninety-five percent of respondents were aware of the perioperative beta blocker literature, and of these, 93% agreed that beta blockers were beneficial in patients with known coronary artery disease (CAD). Fifty-seven percent reported always or usually administering prophylactic beta blockers in patients with known CAD, and 34% of these regular users continued therapy beyond the early postoperative period. Only 9% of respondents reported that a formal protocol existed at their facility. This study suggests that barriers to the translation of research to practice were not related to a lack of awareness of the current best evidence. With respect to perioperative beta blockers, controversies within the literature as well as practical considerations may be greater barriers to implementation of best evidence.
Implications: This survey found that anesthesiologists were aware of and supported the use of prophylactic perioperative beta blockers in patients with risk factors or known coronary artery disease; however, only 57% frequently prescribed perioperative beta blockers. A lack of awareness of the current "best" evidence was not a barrier to use.