Practice nurses’ intentions to use clinical guidelines


  • Suezann Puffer BSc,

  • Arash Rashidian MD

Suezann Puffer,
Department of Health Sciences,
Seebohm Rowntree Building,
University of York,
York Y010 5DD,


Background.  Evidence indicates that, although nurses are increasingly using clinical guidelines to ensure higher quality of care, there is a wide variance in their adherence to them. The utility of the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) has not been previously investigated in explaining this variance in community nursing.

Aim.  This paper reports a study whose primary aim was to examine the utility of the TPB in explaining variations in practice nurses’ intentions to offer smoking cessation advice in accordance with coronary heart disease guidelines.

Methods.  A cross-sectional survey using a postal questionnaire was carried out. A 52-item questionnaire was administered to 48 practice nurses in England. The questionnaire was designed to assess the components of the TPB, and included measures of intentions to offer smoking cessation advice, self-reported past behaviour, attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural controls (PBCs), behavioural beliefs and evaluations, normative beliefs and motivation to comply, and control beliefs and evaluations.

Results.  The TPB explained up to 40% of variance in intentions to offer smoking cessation advice. Attitudes and PBCs were the most important predictors of intention. Among other elements of the TPB, indirect attitudes and indirect PBCs made significant positive contributions to explaining variance in intention.

Discussion.  Future trials of interventions to increase practice nurses’ adherence to clinical guidelines could attempt to address the elements identified in this study as important factors. Further studies are required to examine the utility of the TPB in predicting practice nurses’ behaviour.