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Fam Pract. 2001 Aug;18(4):359-63.

Why do GPs not implement evidence-based guidelines? A descriptive study.

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  • 1Bradford Health Authority, Victoria Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire BD18 3LD, UK.



There is an acknowledged gap between research findings and their implementation in clinical practice despite the existence of effective educational interventions.


Our aim was to identify what is impeding GPs from pursuing currently recognized good practice and implementing evidence-based guidelines in their management of hypertension in the elderly.


We carried out a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews conducted during focus group outreach visits to 34 GPs from nine practices in Merseyside involved in an educational programme designed to improve the management of hypertension in the elderly.


Several barriers to the implementation of evidence-based guidelines in the management of hypertension in the elderly were identified. These included: doubts about the applicability of trial data to particular patients; the poor adherence of GPs to practice protocols; ageist attitudes of some GPs; the effect of time pressure and financial considerations making the subject a low priority; the absence of an effective computer system; and the absence of an educational mentor. All participants demonstrated a very positive attitude to practice-based education. They also welcomed external audit data, which compared their performance with that of other practices. Single-handed GPs were particularly enthusiastic about this approach as it provided them with the peer pressure they lacked.


In order to bridge the gap between research and practice, educators need to address the various 'barriers to change' amongst practitioners.

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