Background: Clinical practice guidelines are intended to improve patient care and outcomes. Controversy exists about the utility of guidelines and doctors' attitudes toward them. The purpose of the survey was to determine Ontario doctors' attitudes toward practice guidelines in general, awareness of, and attitudes about, Cancer Care Ontario's Practice Guideline Initiative and the evidence-based guidelines it produces, self-reported use of guidelines and, factors related to guideline use.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional, self-administered postal survey of 1034 Ontario doctors who treat cancer. Main outcome measures were attitudes toward practice guidelines in general, attitudes towards those developed by Cancer Care Ontario's Practice Guideline Initiative, and self-reported use of practice guidelines.
Findings: A total of 520 doctors responded producing a 57% survey response rate. Ontario doctors are quite positive about practice guidelines in general and those developed by Cancer Care Ontario. Forty-four per cent reported using guidelines routinely or most of the time. Positive attitudes towards guidelines in general and the Ontario cancer guidelines specifically were related to more frequent reported use of guidelines. Other factors related to frequent reported use of guidelines included being a medical oncologist, treating gynaecological cancers and not other types of cancers.
Interpretation: Ontario doctors have positive attitudes toward practice guidelines and report frequent use of them. By understanding the relationship between doctors' perceptions of specific guidelines and their subsequent adherence to them, guideline developers will be better positioned to produce quality evidence-based guidelines that doctors will find acceptable, and therefore, be more predisposed to use.