Open Access Research article

Primary health care staff’s opinions about changing routines in practice: a cross-sectional study

Siw Carlfjord* and Karin Festin

Author Affiliations

Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine, Linköping University, Linköping SE-581 83, Sweden

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BMC Family Practice 2014, 15:2  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-2

Published: 7 January 2014



In health care organizations, there is a mutual interest from politicians, managers, practitioners and patients that the best available care is provided. Efforts are made to translate new knowledge and evidence-based practices into routine care, but there are a number of obstacles to this translation process. Factors related to the new practice as well as factors related to the implementation process are important, but there is still a knowledge gap regarding how to achieve effective implementation. The aim of the present study was to assess opinions about practice change among staff in primary health care (PHC), focusing on factors related to a new practice and factors related to the implementation process.


A questionnaire was sent to 470 staff members at 22 PHC centres where a new tool for lifestyle intervention had recently been implemented. Thirteen items regarding the characteristics of the new practice and nine items regarding the implementation process were to be judged from not at all important to very important. A factor analysis was performed, and statistical analysis was done using the Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric test.


Four factors regarding the characteristics of the new practice were identified. Most important was Objective characteristics, followed by Evidence base, Subjectively judged characteristics and Organizational level characteristics. Two factors were identified regarding the implementation process: Bottom-up strategies were judged most important and Top-down strategies less important. The most important single items regarding characteristics were “easy to use” and “respects patient privacy”, and the most important implementation process item was “information about the new practice”. Nurses differed most from the other professionals, and judged the factors Evidence base and Organizational level characteristics more important than the others. Staff with more than 10 years experience in their profession judged the Evidence base factor more important than those who were less experienced.


To incorporate new practices in PHC, objective characteristics of the new practice and the evidence base should be considered. Use of bottom-up strategies for the implementation process is important. Different opinions according to profession, gender and years in practice should be taken into account when planning the implementation.

Primary health care; Implementation; Staff opinions; Change