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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines in hospitals in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand: values, requirements and barriers

Tari J Turner

Author Affiliations

Monash Institute of Health Services Research, Monash University, Monash Medical Centre, Clayton, Victoria, Australia

BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:235  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-235

Published: 15 December 2009



Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines support clinical decision-making by making recommendations to guide clinical practice. These recommendations are developed by integrating the expertise of a multidisciplinary group of clinicians with the perspectives of consumers and the best available research evidence. However studies have raised concerns about the quality of guideline development, and particularly the link between research and recommendations. The reasons why guideline developers are not following the established development methods are not clear.

We aimed to explore the barriers to developing evidence-based guidelines in eleven hospitals in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, so as to better understand how evidence-based guideline development could be facilitated in these settings. The research aimed to identify the value clinicians place on guidelines, what clinicians want in guidelines developed in hospital settings and what factors limit rigorous evidence-based guideline development in these settings.


Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were undertaken with senior and junior healthcare providers (nurses, midwives, doctors, allied health) from the maternal and neonatal services of the eleven participating hospitals. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and a thematic analysis undertaken.


Ninety-three individual, 25 pair and eleven group interviews were conducted. Participants were clear that they want guidelines that are based on evidence and updated regularly. They were also clear that there are major barriers to this. Most of the barriers were shared across countries, and included lack of time, lack of skills in finding, appraising and interpreting evidence, lack of access to relevant evidence and difficulty arranging meetings and achieving consensus.

Barriers that were primarily identified in Australian hospitals include cumbersome organisational processes and a feeling that guidelines are being developed for bureaucratic ends. Barriers that were primarily identified in South East Asian hospitals include difficulty accessing evidence due to limited resources available for computers, internet and journal subscriptions and limited skills in computing and English.


The clinicians in these eleven very different hospitals want evidence-based guidelines. However they are frustrated by guideline development processes that are enormously time, skill and resource intensive. They feel strongly that "there's got to be a better way".

The fact that the great majority of the identified barriers were shared across settings may provide an opportunity to develop a more pragmatic way of developing guidelines that can be applied in many contexts.