Physician knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding a widely implemented guideline

Marcia M. Ward, Thomas E. Vaughn, Tanya Uden-Holman, Bradley N. Doebbeling, William R. Clarke, Robert F. Woolson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Rationale, aims and objectives Although clinical practice guidelines have been promoted widely, there is considerable concern that physicians have not incorporated them into their practice. Models suggest that a 'knowledge-attitude-behaviour' sequence is important in modifying physician practice patterns. To address this, we examined physicians' knowledge of, attitudes towards and compliance with a widely implemented guideline - the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) smoking cessation guideline. Methods A survey was mailed to a random sample of physicians at 128 veterans health administration facilities, which had implemented the guideline 2 years previously. Results Completed surveys were received from 879 physicians (50.3% response rate). Only 26% of physicians reported receiving a copy or summary of the guideline, 44% reported little or no familiarity with it, 42% did not know if they agreed with it, 40% did not know if they complied with it and 46% did not know if it was effective. However, a high percentage of physicians reported that they always or usually explain the health risks of smoking (86%) and that they always or usually suggest that their smoking patients stop (94%). Conclusions In spite of little familiarity with the guideline, the responding physicians reported practice patterns consistent With adherence to it. Knowledge is only one of a spectrum of barriers that affects physician adherence to guidelines. There are numerous opportunities for health care organizations to overcome the barriers to physician adoption of clinical practice guidelines in their day-to-day practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-162
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambulatory care
  • Attitudes counselling
  • Guideline adherence
  • Knowledge
  • Physician's practice patterns
  • Practice guidelines
  • Smoking cessation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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