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Barriers and enablers for the implementation of clinical practice guidelines in China: a mixed-method study

13 Sep 2019


The aim of this study was to explore perspectives and reasoning of medical staff from Class A tertiary hospitals about the factors hindering and facilitating the uptake and use of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) during medical procedures.


Mixed-method research study to collect and analyse both quantitative and qualitative data.


Class A tertiary hospitals in China.


The inclusion criteria for the questionnaire survey and qualitative research were (1) medical practitioners and (2) years of practice: above 5 years in a tertiary hospital.


Questionnaires were distributed to medical staff in 11 cities to collect quantitative data. Frequency and ranking of barriers and enablers were analysed. Spearman correlations were computed to explore the correlation between years of practice, professional title ranking and educational background with self-reported guideline adherence. Using a constructivist grounded theory method, qualitative data were generated via in-depth face-to-face interviews with Chinese medical practitioners.


A total of 359 medical practitioners were surveyed and 32 medical practitioners interviewed in 11 cities. Higher frequency and higher ranking of barriers all converged on ‘lack of access’, ‘less convenient’, ‘lack of applicability’ and ‘lack of evidence from Chinese sample’. Higher frequency and higher ranking of enablers converged on ‘Short formats presentation’, ‘Utilisation of various media’, ‘Information visualisation’ and ‘Linking to patient electronic medical records’. There were no relationships between characteristics of respondents with self-reported adherence. This research produced a theoretical understanding of the experience of medical practitioners when using guidelines. Themes identified were as follows: existing intrinsic flaws in guidelines, deficient or incomplete system mechanism and being ambiguous.


Our findings provide a comprehensive and culturally sensitive perspective in understanding guideline implementation in China. Strategies addressing those barriers should be further discussed and researched in the future.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open