Background: Evidence-based practice is one of the most important underlying principles in modern health care. In the United Kingdom, successive governments have highlighted the fact that a quality health service is built upon the use of best evidence. Health professionals are becoming more accountable within clinical governance structures for the care they provide. The need to use robust research findings effectively is a critical component of their role. However, studies show that a number of barriers prevent the effective use of best available evidence.
Aim: This study aimed to identify barriers to evidence-based practice in primary care.
Method: A specially designed questionnaire was used to gather respondents' perceptions of the barriers to evidence-based practice. Data were collected in 2000/2001.
Findings: Findings show that general practitioners (GPs) ranked barriers differently to community nurses. GPs believed that the most significant barriers to using evidence in practice were: the limited relevance of research to practice, keeping up with all the current changes in primary care, and the ability to search for evidence-based information. In contrast, the most significant barriers to the identified by community nurses were poor computer facilities, poor patient compliance and difficulties in influencing changes within primary care. This suggests that these two groups may require different strategies for barrier removal.
Conclusions: Identifying barriers is just the first step to addressing issues surrounding the use of evidence-based practice. Extra resources will be needed if these barriers are to be tackled. However, if the resultant change improves the health and wellbeing of people and communities, then the extra costs would be offset by more efficient use of services.