The effectiveness of clinical guideline implementation strategies--a synthesis of systematic review findings

J Eval Clin Pract. 2008 Oct;14(5):888-97. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2008.01014.x.


Objective: To establish the effectiveness of clinical guideline implementation strategies. Data sources/study setting Systematic reviews in full text, English language, 1987-2007, reporting any measure of clinical process change or cost-benefit analysis.

Study design: Overview of secondary evidence

Data collection/extraction methods: Independent critical appraisal using AMSTAR, primary author undertaking all data extraction using a purpose-built form. Principal findings We identified 144 potential papers, from which 33 systematic reviews were included. These reflected 714 primary studies involving 22 512 clinicians, in a range of health care settings. Implementation strategies were varied, rarely comparable, with variable outcomes. Effective implementation strategies included multifaceted interventions, interactive education and clinical reminder systems. Didactic education and passive dissemination strategies were ineffective. Cost-effectiveness studies were rare.

Conclusions: Successful guideline implementation strategies should be multifaceted, and actively engage clinicians throughout the process.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Clinical Audit
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Critical Pathways
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Education, Continuing / organization & administration
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / education
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / organization & administration
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination* / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic* / standards
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Reminder Systems
  • Research Design