Academic Journals Database
Disseminating quality controlled scientific knowledge

Incorporating clinical guidelines through clinician decision-making

Author(s): Falzer Paul | Moore Brent | Garman D Melissa

Journal: Implementation Science
ISSN 1748-5908

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 13;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background It is generally acknowledged that a disparity between knowledge and its implementation is adversely affecting quality of care. An example commonly cited is the failure of clinicians to follow clinical guidelines. A guiding assumption of this view is that adherence should be gauged by a standard of conformance. At least some guideline developers dispute this assumption and claim that their efforts are intended to inform and assist clinical practice, not to function as standards of performance. However, their ability to assist and inform will remain limited until an alternative to the conformance criterion is proposed that gauges how evidence-based guidelines are incorporated into clinical decisions. Methods The proposed investigation has two specific aims to identify the processes that affect decisions about incorporating clinical guidelines, and then to develop ad test a strategy that promotes the utilization of evidence-based practices. This paper focuses on the first aim. It presents the rationale, introduces the clinical paradigm of treatment-resistant schizophrenia, and discusses an exemplar of clinician non-conformance to a clinical guideline. A modification of the original study is proposed that targets psychiatric trainees and draws on a cognitively rich theory of decision-making to formulate hypotheses about how the guideline is incorporated into treatment decisions. Twenty volunteer subjects recruited from an accredited psychiatry training program will respond to sixty-four vignettes that represent a fully crossed 2 × 2 × 2 × 4 within-subjects design. The variables consist of criteria contained in the clinical guideline and other relevant factors. Subjects will also respond to a subset of eight vignettes that assesses their overall impression of the guideline. Generalization estimating equation models will be used to test the study's principal hypothesis and perform secondary analyses. Implications The original design of phase two of the proposed investigation will be changed in recognition of newly published literature on the relative effectiveness of treatments for schizophrenia. It is suggested that this literature supports the notion that guidelines serve a valuable function as decision tools, and substantiates the importance of decision-making as the means by which general principles are incorporated into clinical practice.
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