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Jt Comm J Qual Improv. 2001 Jan;27(1):42-53.

Can practice guidelines be transported effectively to different settings? Results from a multicenter interventional study.

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Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut, Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, USA.



Although clinical guidelines have become increasingly popular as a means to reduce variation in care, increase efficiency, and improve patient outcomes, little is known about their effectiveness when they are transported outside their original setting, or about the factors that influence their successful translation into clinical practice. This study assessed whether a clinical guideline for low-risk chest pain patients, implemented with a standardized protocol, could be effectively transported to five hospital settings.


In a prospective, interventional trial, a standardized protocol for low-risk chest pain was implemented at each site. A total of 553 consecutively hospitalized low-risk patients with chest pain were enrolled during a 3-month baseline period followed by a standardized 6-month intervention period. During the intervention period, each patient's physician was contacted about eligibility for discharge within the specified 2-day guideline period. Guideline adherence (discharged within 48 hours) and postdischarge patient outcomes were measured. Local guideline champions were interviewed about their implementation experience.


Guideline adherence during the intervention period ranged from 61% to 100%, with only two sites achieving significant increases of > or = 10% from the baseline values. Guideline implementation did not affect clinical outcomes or patient satisfaction. Implementation factors such as preexisting hospital environment, implementation team staffing, and the rapid identification and resolution of barriers may influence the successful translation of guidelines into practice.


Even with a standardized implementation protocol, consistent results across institutions were not obtained when a clinical guideline for chest pain was implemented beyond its original setting. These findings demonstrate the importance of understanding the local factors that influence guideline implementation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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