The Canadian Nutrition Support Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs), published in 2003, were designed to improve nutrition support practices in intensive care units (ICUs). However, their impact to date has been modest. This study aimed to identify important barriers and enablers to implementation of these guidelines.
Case studies were completed at 4 Canadian ICUs. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 7 key informants at each site. During the interviews, the key informants were asked about their perceptions of the barriers and enablers to implementation of the Canadian Nutrition Support CPGs. Interview transcripts were analyzed qualitatively, using a framework approach.
Resistance to change, lack of awareness, lack of critical care experience, clinical condition of the patient, resource constraints, a slow administrative process, workload, numerous guidelines, complex recommendations, paucity of evidence, and outdated guidelines were cited as the main barriers to guideline implementation. Agreement of the ICU team, easy access to the guidelines, ease of application, incorporation into daily routine, education and training, the dietitian as an opinion leader, and open discussion were identified as the primary enabling factors. Although consistent across all sites, the influence of these factors seemed to differ by site and profession.
Our findings suggest that implementation of the Canadian Nutrition Support CPGs is profoundly complex and is determined by practitioner, patient, institutional, and guideline factors. Further research is required to quantify the impact of each barrier and enabler and the mechanism by which they influence guideline adherence.
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been hailed as a useful method of translating evidence into practice. Several CPGs have been published that provide recommendations for feeding patients in the intensive care unit (ICU). Despite a rigorous development process and active dissemination of these guidelines, their impact on nutrition practice has been modest. The purpose of this study was to develop a comprehensive framework for understanding adherence to nutrition CPGs in the critical care setting.
Multiple case studies were completed at 4 Canadian ICUs. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 7 key informants at each ICU site who were asked about their perceptions and attitudes toward guidelines in general and the Canadian Critical Care Nutrition CPGs specifically. Interview transcripts and related documents were analyzed qualitatively using a framework approach.
The 5 key components of the developed framework were characteristics of the CPGs, the implementation process, institutional factors, provider intent, and the clinical condition of the patient. These key themes encapsulate numerous itemized factors that contribute to guideline adherence either as barriers or enablers.
Adherence to nutrition CPGs is determined by a complex interaction of multiple factors that act as barriers or enablers. The comprehensive framework for adherence to CPGs in the ICU attempts to elucidate this process and provides a useful template for future research. Future quality improvement initiatives should assess local barriers to change and design interventions to overcome these barriers.