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Potential facilitators and barriers to adopting standard treatment guidelines in clinical practice: An Indian context

Sangeeta Sharma (Department of Neuropsychopharmacology, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, Delhi, India)
Ajay Pandit (Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi, Delhi, India)
Fauzia Tabassum (Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, New Delhi, India)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 18 April 2017




The purpose of this paper is to assess medicines information sources accessed by clinicians, if sources differed in theory and practice and to find out the barriers and facilitators to effective guideline adoption.


In all, 183 doctors were surveyed. Barriers and facilitators were classified as: communication; potential adopters; innovation; organization characteristics and environmental/social/economic context.


Most of the clinicians accessed multiple information sources including standard treatment guidelines, but also consulted seniors/colleagues in practice. The top three factors influencing clinical practice guideline adoption were innovation characteristics, environmental context and individual characteristics. The respondents differed in the following areas: concerns about flexibility offered by the guideline; denying patients’ individuality; professional autonomy; insights into gaps in current practice and evidence-based practice; changing practices with little or no benefit. Barriers included negative staff attitudes/beliefs, guideline integration into organizational structures/processes, time/resource constraints. Fearing third parties (government and insurance companies) restricting medicines reimbursement and poor liability protection offered by the guidelines emerged as the barriers. Facilitators include aligning organizational structures/processes with the innovation; providing leadership support to guide diffusion; increasing awareness and enabling early innovation during pre/in-service training, with regular feedback on outcomes and use.

Practical implications

Guideline adoption in clinical practice is partly within doctors’ control. There are other key prevailing factors in the local context such as environmental, social context, professional and organizational culture affecting its adoption. Organizational policy and accreditation standards necessitating adherence can serve as a driver.


This survey among clinicians, despite limitations, gives helpful insights. While favourable attitudes may be helpful, clinical adoption could be improved more effectively by targeting barriers.



Sharma, S., Pandit, A. and Tabassum, F. (2017), "Potential facilitators and barriers to adopting standard treatment guidelines in clinical practice: An Indian context", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 285-298.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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