Background There is an emerging knowledge base on the effectiveness of strategies to close the knowledge-practice gap. However, less is known about how attributes of an innovation and other contextual and situational factors facilitate and impede an innovation's adoption. The Healthy Heart Kit (HHK) is a risk management and patient education resource for the prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and promotion of cardiovascular health. Although previous studies have demonstrated the HHK's content validity and practical utility, no published study has examined physicians' uptake of the HHK and factors that shape its adoption. Objectives Conceptually informed by Rogers' Diffusion of Innovation theory, and Theory of Planned Behaviour, this study had two objectives: (1) to determine if specific attributes of the HHK as well as contextual and situational factors are associated with physicians' intention and actual usage of the HHK kit; and (2), to determine if any contextual and situational factors are associated with individual or environmental barriers that prevent the uptake of the HHK among those physicians who do not plan to use the kit. Methods A sample of 153 physicians who responded to an invitation letter sent to all family physicians in the province of Alberta, Canada were recruited for the study. Participating physicians were sent a HHK, and two months later a study questionnaire assessed primary factors on the physicians' clinical practice, attributes of the HHK (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, observability), confidence and control using the HHK, barriers to use, and individual attributes. All measures were used in path analysis, employing a causal model based on Rogers' Diffusion of Innovations Theory and Theory of Planned Behaviour. Results 115 physicians (follow up rate of 75%) completed the questionnaire. Use of the HHK was associated with intention to use the HHK, relative advantage, and years of experience. Relative advantage and the observability of the HHK benefits were also significantly associated with physicians' intention to use the HHK. Physicians working in solo medical practices reported experiencing more individual and environmental barriers to using the HHK. Conclusion The results of this study suggest that future information innovations must demonstrate an advantage over current resources and the research evidence supporting the innovation must be clearly visible. Findings also suggest that the innovation adoption process has a social element, and collegial interactions and discussions may facilitate that process. These results could be valuable for knowledge translation researchers and health promotion developers in future innovation adoption planning.