Background: Strategies to implement change in health professional performance have variable impact. A potential explanation is that the barriers to implementation are different in different settings and at different times. Change may be more likely if the strategies were specifically chosen to address the identified barriers.
Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of strategies tailored to address specific, identified barriers to change in professional performance.
Search strategy: We searched the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group (EPOC) specialised register and pending files until end of December 2002. English language articles only were included.
Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that reported objectively measured professional practice or health care outcomes in which at least one group received an intervention designed (or tailored) to address prospectively identified barriers to change.
Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed quality. We also contacted study authors to obtain any missing information. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were undertaken.
Main results: We included 15 studies. For Comparison 1 (an intervention tailored to address identified barriers to change compared to no intervention or an intervention(s) not tailored to the barriers), there was no consistency in the results and the effect sizes varied both across and within studies.A meta-regression of a subset of the included studies, using a classical approach estimated a combined OR of 2.18 (95% CI: 1.09, 4.34), p = 0.026 in favour of tailored interventions. However, when a Bayesian approach was taken, meta-regression gave a combined OR of 2.27 (95% Credible Interval: 0.92, 4.75), which was not statistically significant.
Authors' conclusions: Interventions tailored to prospectively identify barriers may improve care and patient outcomes. However, from the studies included in this review, we were unable to determine whether the barriers were valid, which were the most important barriers, whether all barriers were identified and if they had been addressed by the intervention chosen. Based on the evidence presented in this review, the effectiveness of tailored interventions remains uncertain and more rigorous trials (including process evaluations) are needed. Further research needs to address explicitly the questions of identifying and addressing barriers.