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Aust Health Rev. 2005 Feb;29(1):94-104.

Clinical pathways in 17 European Union countries: a purposive survey.

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School of Medicine, University of NSW, Kensington 2052, Australia.


We undertook a survey of clinical pathways across the 25 European Union countries, Australia. Fifty-one questionnaires were completed by largely self-selected experts from 17 countries. Respondents reported that pathways were important and were becoming increasingly widely used (although the rate of progress was highly variable). One important constraint was reported to be a cultural aversion among doctors that arises at least in part from the implication that pathways require multidisciplinary teamwork which will prejudice medical autonomy. In other words, pathways challenge clinical professional sub-cultures. Other constraints included lack of encouragement by external parties, such as purchasers, with limited financial support for pathway development and implementation and service purchasing that did not reward care providers who use pathways. The obvious implication of the survey is that more needs to be done to achieve a common understanding of pathways. In spite of the large quantity of published papers, survey respondents reported that there are many health professionals who have only a superficial understanding at best.

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