How to implement change in clinical practice

Paediatr Respir Rev. 2003 Dec;4(4):340-6. doi: 10.1016/s1526-0542(03)00092-7.


Changing clinical practice is a major challenge. It is not acceptable simply to send out a new clinical guideline or care pathway and expect there to be a change in practice. This paper addresses the problems associated with the development of a clinical guideline and sets out a clear strategy for dissemination, implementation and evaluation in a way that should promote the successful change of practice. The first section examines the development of the guideline. National or international guidelines may well exist but local adaptation and refinement of those guidelines are required, along with a local summary document. Valid, reproducible, evidence-based, clear, logical, easily accessible guidelines need to be available after widespread local, multi-professional consultation. Second, prior to dissemination, there needs to be promotion among all the health professionals and families involved with the change in practice. Appropriate educational and multi-disciplinary interventions, highlighting and informing in workshops and preparing people for the changes are recommended. Recognising the barriers to implementation and change and addressing these locally is important. Once the guideline has been disseminated and implemented and the change in practice has occurred, full evaluation and ongoing audit of the changes in practice are required to sustain the changes.

MeSH terms

  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care / standards