Outcomes of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines: a systematic review

Int J Technol Assess Health Care. 2004 Fall;20(4):427-33. doi: 10.1017/s026646230400131x.


Objectives: This study aimed to investigate whether evidence-based clinical practice in health care improves outcomes for patients, personnel, and/or organizations.

Methods: A systematic review of studies was conducted with various quantitative and qualitative methods up to the Spring of 2002. Protocols were used in quality assessment. Data synthesis is descriptive in a narrative form.

Results: Of 305 assessed articles, eight studies were included. The outcomes in the included studies were related to the experiences of patients and personnel and to organization concerning changed patient care and resource utilization. Because the included studies are heterogeneous in design, focus of research area, and scientific quality, the scientific foundation for the findings is weak. There is some support that evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, when put to use, improve outcomes (i) for patients--less likelihood of showing worsening of skin condition and disruption of skin condition improves more rapidly for infants; (ii) for personnel--support in daily work situation; and (iii) for organizations--decreased admission rates and length of stay, less resource utilization and reduced costs.

Conclusions: There is a need for further research as the findings are based on a rather limited number of studies. There is a tendency toward support for the idea that outcomes improve for patients, personnel, or organizations if clinical practice in health care is evidence-based, that is, if evidence-based clinical practice guidelines are used, although these findings could be specific to the settings and context of the studies reported in this systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Economics, Hospital
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / economics
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / standards*
  • Patients
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*