Objectives: Although practice guidelines are effective in assisting providers with clinical decision making, ineffective implementation strategies often prevent their use in practice. This study aimed to understand physician preferences for guideline format, placement, content, evidence, and learning strategies in different clinical environments.
Subjects and methods: Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 500 randomly selected physicians from 4 major US health systems who were involved in the treatment of patients with acute myocardial infarction or pediatric asthma. Paired sample t tests and Tukey's method of comparisons determined the relative ranking of physicians' guideline implementation preferences.
Results: Physicians preferred guidelines located on the front of the patient chart, in palm pilots, or in progress notes and presented as flow charts/flow diagrams, algorithms, or preprinted orders that contain strategies to minimize readmits/encourage self-management and immediate treatment flows. Discussions with colleagues and continuing medical education are the most effective strategies for encouraging guideline use, and randomized controlled trials remain the most persuasive medical evidence.
Conclusions: Health care organizations must align guideline implementation efforts with physician preferences to encourage utilization. The results of this study reveal systematic physician preferences for guideline implementation that can be applied to clinical settings to encourage guideline use by physicians.