Implementing Clinical Practice Guidelines in occupational therapy practice: Recommendations from the research evidence


  • Mary Stergiou-Kita MSc, BSc OT Reg (Ont.), Graduate student.

Mary Stergiou-Kita, Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science, University of Toronto, 160-500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada. Email:


Background: Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) are prominent tools in evidence-based practice which integrate research evidence, clinical expertise and client input to develop recommendations for specific clinical circumstance. With the push to use research evidence in health care, it is anticipated that occupational therapists will become increasingly involved in implementing CPGs in practice. The research evidence has revealed several factors that can affect guideline uptake, and a variety of strategies that can facilitate implementation.

Methods: This narrative review examines the health-related literature in CPGs to answer the following questions. Based on the research evidence, (i) what are the factors that may influence guideline implementation? (ii) What implementation strategies may enhance guideline implementation?

Results: Factors within the guideline itself (e.g. quality, complexity and clarity), within the practitioner (e.g. experience, perceptions and beliefs), the patient (e.g. expectations and preferences) and the practice context (e.g. resource availability, organisational culture and opinion leaders) can all affect implementation success. Currently, there is no conclusive evidence to support the use of one implementation strategy over another, in all situations. The choice of implementation strategy must take into account the guideline to be implemented, the practice context and the anticipated challenges to implementation.

Conclusions: By understanding the factors that can influence implementation and the strategies for successful implementation, occupational therapists will be better prepared to implement guidelines. Recommendations to assist with guideline uptake and implementation are provided.