The use of guidelines for dissemination of “best practice” in primary care of patients with eating disorders




A number of sets of clinical guidelines have been developed for the treatment of eating-disordered patients. This study aimed to measure adherence to such guidance among family physicians working in primary care settings.


In the wake of the publication of national guidelines for “best practice,” family physicians in a large but diverse geographical region of the UK (population of 6.4 million) were approached and asked to complete a two-stage survey.


Only 4% of these clinicians report using published guidelines or protocols, and none used the national guidelines that were available. Nor were these clinicians using the spirit of the guidelines, as there was little correspondence between recommended and actual treatment behavior.


These findings suggest that specialist eating disorders services should not rely on guidelines to ensure the dissemination of best practice for these patients in primary care. Alternative means of dissemination are needed, and suggestions are made. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2007