BackgroundThe uptake of complex clinical decision support systems (CDSS) in daily practice remains low, despite the proven potential to reduce medical errors and to improve the quality of care. To improve successful implementation of a complex CDSS this study aims to identify the factors that hinder, or alleviate the acceptance of, clinicians toward the use of a complex CDSS for treatment allocation of patients with chronic low back pain.MethodsWe tested a research model in which the intention to use a CDSS by clinicians is influenced by the perceived usefulness; this usefulness, in turn is influenced by the perceived service benefits and perceived service risks. An online survey was created to test our research model and the data was analysed using Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling. The study population consisted of clinicians. The online questionnaire started with demographic questions and continued with a video animation of the complex CDSS followed by the set of measurement items. The online questionnaire ended with two open questions enquiring the reasons to use and not use, a complex CDSS.ResultsNinety-eight participants (46% general practitioners, 25% primary care physical therapists, and 29% clinicians at a rehabilitation centre) fully completed the questionnaire. Fifty-two percent of the respondents were male. The average age was 48 years (SD ± 12.2). The causal model suggests that perceived usefulness is the main factor contributing to the intention to use a complex CDSS. Perceived service benefits and risks are both significant antecedents of perceived usefulness and perceived service risks are affected by the perceived threat to autonomy and trusting beliefs, particularly benevolence and competence.ConclusionsTo improve the acceptance of complex CDSSs it is important to address the risks, but the main focus during the implementation phase should be on the expected improvements in patient outcomes and the overall gain for clinicians. Our results will help the development of complex CDSSs that fit more into the daily clinical practice of clinicians.