Using a clinical practice guideline to measure physician practice: Translating a guideline for the management of heart failure

Paul A. James, Timothy M. Cowan, Robin P. Graham, Barbara A. Majeroni, Chester H. Fox, Carlos R. Jaén

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Effective clinical practice guidelines should improve clinical outcomes, and measures of physician use of clinical practice guidelines should correlate with improved outcomes. This study translates a clinical practice guideline on heart failure into review criteria to measure physician performance and the effectiveness of the clinical practice guideline. Methods: A panel of 11 family physicians and 1 cardiologist systematically reviewed the clinical practice guideline for its clinical importance, educational relevance, and evaluative appropriateness. Then a subset of 4 family physicians rigorously applied each recommendation to established criteria for measurability and developed an evaluation tool useful in medical record review. Results: The heart failure clinical practice guideline was found to be an excellent educational tool. Using it to measure physician performance, however, was limited to diagnostic tests and drug prescribing. Of 45 recommendations, 5 fulfilled criteria for measurability; 1 recommendation had A-level evidence, whereas 2 recommendations had B-level and 2 had C-level evidence. Conclusion: This study illustrates the logistic issues and challenges in developing a measure of physician adherence to clinical practice guidelines. Medical record review is inadequate to measure many recommendations. Physician use of this clinical practice guideline must be evaluated as an intermediate step to measuring the effectiveness of clinical practice guidelines based on patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-212
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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