Objectives: To evaluate 1) barriers to clinical guideline use and 2) the relationship between guideline use and inpatient outcomes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: 1) Four focus groups of specific health professions (n = 30), from three metropolitan hospitals, and interview of 99 medical officers (MOs), linked to 349 admissions, both guided by behavioural modelling theory; 2) association between guideline use and patient outcomes (length of hospital stay > or = 14 days, and readmission within 28 or 90 days) was evaluated in a cohort of 405 COPD patients.
Results: 1) In focus groups, nurses and allied health professionals emphasized facilitation issues including paperwork duplication and time limitations as barriers, but considered improved patient care outcomes as the major guideline use determinant. There were similar findings in junior MOs (nonconsultants) by both focus group and interview, with the addition of a need for a sense of ownership. Senior MOs (consultants) greatly emphasized sense of ownership. Barriers to guideline use varied between types of units. Behavioural modelling explained 49% of the variation in intention to use the guideline for MOs. For nonconsultants, habit and intention were significantly associated with extent of guideline use. 2) Patient outcomes: guideline use was not associated with length of stay or readmission.
Conclusions: 1) Guideline implementation should address issues relevant to different health professions, units and seniority of profession. 2) Guideline use was not associated with reductions in readmission or length of stay.