Barriers and enablers to implementing multiple stroke guideline recommendations: a qualitative study

BMC Health Serv Res. 2013 Aug 19;13:323. doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-13-323.


Background: Translating evidence into practice is an important final step in the process of evidence-based practice. Medical record audits can be used to examine how well practice compares with published evidence, and identify evidence-practice gaps. After providing audit feedback to professionals, local barriers to practice change can be identified and targetted with focussed behaviour change interventions. This study aimed to identify barriers and enablers to implementing multiple stroke guideline recommendations at one Australian stroke unit.

Methods: A qualitative methodology was used. A sample of 28 allied health, nursing and medical professionals participated in a group or individual interview. These interviews occurred after staff had received audit feedback and identified areas for practice change. Questions focused on barriers and enablers to implementing guideline recommendations about management of: upper limb sensory impairments, mobility including sitting balance; vision; anxiety and depression; neglect; swallowing; communication; education for stroke survivors and carers; advice about return to work and driving. Qualitative data were analysed for themes using theoretical domains described by Michie and colleagues (2005).

Results: Six group and two individual interviews were conducted, involving six disciplines. Barriers were different across disciplines. The six key barriers identified were: (1) Beliefs about capabilities of individual professionals and their discipline, and about patient capabilities (2) Beliefs about the consequences, positive and negative, of implementing the recommendations (3) Memory of, and attention to, best practices (4) Knowledge and skills required to implement best practice; (5) Intention and motivation to implement best practice, and (6) Resources. Some barriers were also enablers to change. For example, occupational therapists required new knowledge and skills (a barrier), to better manage sensation and neglect impairments while physiotherapists generally knew how to implement best-practice mobility rehabilitation (an enabler).

Conclusions: Findings add to current knowledge about barriers to change and implementation of multiple guideline recommendations. Major challenges included sexuality education and depression screening. Limited knowledge and skills was a common barrier. Knowledge about specific interventions was needed before implementation could commence, and to maintain treatment fidelity. The provision of detailed online intervention protocols and manuals may help clinicians to overcome the knowledge barrier.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality Improvement
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical