Which strategies support the effective use of clinical practice guidelines and clinical quality registry data to inform health service delivery? A systematic review.

Dempsey K, Ferguson C, Walczak A, Middleton S, Levi C, Morton RL; Australian Health Research Alliance (AHRA) Health System Improvement and Sustainability Working Group members. Syst Rev. 2022 Nov 9;11(1):237. doi: 10.1186/s13643-022-02104-1. PMID: 36352475; PMCID: PMC9644489.


Background: Empirical evidence suggests data and insights from the clinical practice guidelines and clinical quality registries are not being fully utilised, leaving health service managers, clinicians and providers without clear guidance on how best to improve healthcare delivery. This lack of uptake of existing research knowledge represents low value to the healthcare system and needs to change.

Methods: Five electronic databases (MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Cochrane Central and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews) were systematically searched. Included studies were published between 2000 and 2020 reporting on the attributes, evidence usage and impact of clinical practice guidelines and clinical quality registries on health service delivery.

Results: Twenty-six articles including one randomised controlled trial, eight before-and-after studies, eight case studies/reviews, five surveys and four interview studies, covering a wide range of medical conditions and conducted in the USA, Australia and Europe, were identified. Five complementary strategies were derived to maximise the likelihood of best practice health service delivery: (1) feedback and transparency, (2) intervention sustainability, (3) clinical practice guideline adherence, (4) productive partnerships and (5) whole-of-team approach.

Conclusion: These five strategies, used in context-relevant combinations, are most likely to support the application of existing high-quality data, adding value to health service delivery. The review highlighted the limitations of study design in opportunistic registry studies that do not produce clear, usable evidence to guide changes to health service implementation practices. Recommendations include exploration of innovative methodologies, improved coordination of national registries and the use of incentives to encourage guideline adherence and wider dissemination of strategies used by successful registries.