Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a complex chronic lung disease characterised by progressive fixed airflow limitation and acute exacerbations that frequently require hospitalisation. Evidence-based clinical guidelines for the diagnosis and management of COPD are now widely available. However, the uptake of these COPD guidelines in clinical practice is highly variable, as is the case for many other chronic disease guidelines. Studies have identified many barriers to implementation of COPD and other guidelines, including factors such as lack of familiarity with guidelines amongst clinicians and inadequate implementation programs. Several methods for enhancing adherence to clinical practice guidelines have been evaluated, including distribution methods, professional education sessions, electronic health records (EHR), point of care reminders and computer decision support systems (CDSS). Results of these studies are mixed to date, and the most effective ways to implement clinical practice guidelines remain unclear. Given the significant resources dedicated to evidence-based medicine, effective dissemination and implementation of best practice at the patient level is an important final step in the process of guideline development. Future efforts should focus on identifying optimal methods for translating the evidence into everyday clinical practice to ensure that patients receive the best care.
Keywords: Pulmonary disease; chronic obstructive; clinical practice guidelines; evidence-based practice; health services.