What hospitals need to know about guidelinesA mixed-method analysis of guideline implementation in Dutch hospitals

Louise H. K. Blume*, Nico J. H. W. van Weert, Jamiu O. Busari, Annemiek M. V. Stoopendaal, Diana M. J. Delnoij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Rationale, aims and objectivesThis study provides insight into how Dutch hospitals ensure that guidelines are used in practice and identifies what key messages other hospitals can learn from existing practices. We examine current practices in handling compliance and, therefore, focus on hospitals that reported that they do not experience problems in the implementation of guidelines.

MethodA survey of Dutch hospital boards and 9 semistructured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 3 hospitals. Interviews were held with 3 representatives of each hospital, specifically, with a member of the board of directors, a member of the executive medical staff, and the manager of the quality and safety department.

ResultsHospitals find guidelines necessary and useful. Hospitals have the power to improve implementation if boards of directors and medical staff are committed, intrinsically motivated, cooperate with each other, and use guidelines pragmatically. Even then, they prioritize guidelines, as resources are scarce. Despite their good work, all hospitals in this study appeared to struggle to adhere to guidelines.

ConclusionsIf hospitals experience problems with guideline implementation, they tend to focus more on external expectations, leading to defensive behaviour. Hospitals that do not experience implementation problems focus more on integrating guidelines into their own policies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1266-1273
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • compliance
  • external demands
  • guidelines
  • hospitals
  • implementation
  • regulations
  • requirements
  • standardization

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