From recommendation to action: psychosocial factors influencing physician intention to use Health Technology Assessment (HTA) recommendations

Implement Sci. 2006 Mar 31;1:8. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-1-8.


Background: Evaluating the impact of recommendations based upon health technology assessment (HTA) represents a challenge for both HTA agencies and healthcare policy-makers. Using a psychosocial theoretical framework, this study aimed at exploring the factors affecting physician intention to adopt HTA recommendations. The selected recommendations were prioritisation systems for patients on waiting lists for two surgical procedures: hip and knee replacement and cataract surgery.

Methods: Determinants of physician intention to use HTA recommendations for patient prioritisation were assessed by a questionnaire based upon the Theory of Interpersonal Behaviour. A total of 96 physicians from two medical specialties (ophthalmology and orthopaedic surgery) responded to the questionnaire (response rate 44.2%). A multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed to assess differences between medical specialties on the set of theoretical variables. Given the main effect difference between specialties, two regression models were tested separately to assess the psychosocial determinants of physician intention to use HTA recommendations for the prioritisation of patients on waiting lists for surgical procedures.

Results: Factors influencing physician intention to use HTA recommendations differ between groups of specialists. Intention to use the prioritisation system for patients on waiting lists for cataract surgery among ophthalmologists was related to attitude towards the behaviour, social norms, as well as personal normative beliefs. Intention to use HTA recommendations for patient prioritisation for hip and knee replacement among orthopaedic surgeons was explained by: perception of conditions that facilitated the realisation of the behaviour, personal normative beliefs, and habit of using HTA recommendations in clinical work.

Conclusion: This study offers a model to assess factors influencing the intention to adopt recommendations from health technology assessment into professional practice. Results identify determinant factors that should be considered in the elaboration of strategies to support the implementation of evidence-based practice, with respect to emerging health technologies and modalities of practice. However, it is important to emphasise that behavioural determinants of evidence-based practice vary according to the specific technology considered. Evidence-based implementation of HTA recommendations, as well as other evidence-based practices, should build on a theoretical understanding of the complex forces that shape the practice of healthcare professionals.