Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been shown to improve processes of care and health outcomes, but there is often a discrepancy between recommendations for care and clinical practice. This study sought to explore general practitioner (GP) attitudes towards CPGs, in general and specifically for osteoarthritis (OA), with the implications for translating OA care into practice. A self-administered questionnaire was conducted in January 2013 with a sample of 228 GPs in New South Wales and South Australia. Seventy-nine GPs returned questionnaires (response rate 35%). Nearly all GPs considered that CPGs support decision-making in practice (94%) and medical education (92%). Very few respondents regarded CPGs as a threat to clinical autonomy, and most recognised that individual patient circumstances must be taken into account. Shorter CPG formats were preferred over longer and more comprehensive formats, with preferences being evenly divided among respondents for short, 2-3-page summaries, flowcharts or algorithms and single page checklists. GPs considered accessibility to CPGs to be important, and electronic formats were popular. Familiarity and use of The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners OA Guideline was poor, with most respondents either not aware of it (30%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 27 - 41%), had never used it (19%; 95% CI 12 - 29%) or rarely used it (34%; 95% CI 25-45%). If CPGs are to assist with the translation of evidence into practice, they must be easily accessible and in a format that encourages use.
- evidence-based medicine
- primary care