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Prioritizing guideline recommendations for implementation: a systematic, consumer-inclusive process with a case study using the Australian Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management

  • Lynch, Elizabeth A.1, 2, 3
  • Lassig, Chris4
  • Turner, Tari5
  • Churilov, Leonid6
  • Hill, Kelvin4
  • Shrubsole, Kirstine7, 8, 9
  • 1 Flinders University, Sturt Campus, Adelaide, SA, 5001, Australia , Adelaide (Australia)
  • 2 University of Adelaide, Level 4 AHMS Building, Adelaide, 5005, Australia , Adelaide (Australia)
  • 3 NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Stroke Rehabilitation and Brain Recovery, 245 Burgundy St, Heidelberg, VIC, 3084, Australia , Heidelberg (Australia)
  • 4 Stroke Foundation, Level 7/461 Bourke St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000, Australia , Melbourne (Australia)
  • 5 Cochrane Australia, Level 4/553 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne, VIC, 3004, Australia , Melbourne (Australia)
  • 6 University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia , Parkville (Australia)
  • 7 Southern Cross University, Bilinga, QLD, 4225, Australia , Bilinga (Australia)
  • 8 The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, Australia , Brisbane (Australia)
  • 9 Centre of Research Excellence in Aphasia Recovery and Rehabilitation, Bundoora, Australia , Bundoora (Australia)
Published Article
Health Research Policy and Systems
BioMed Central
Publication Date
May 22, 2021
DOI: 10.1186/s12961-021-00734-w
Springer Nature


BackgroundImplementation of evidence-based care remains a key challenge in clinical practice. Determining “what” to implement can guide implementation efforts. This paper describes a process developed to identify priority recommendations from clinical guidelines for implementation, incorporating the perspectives of both consumers and health professionals. A case study is presented where the process was used to prioritize recommendations for implementation from the Australian Stroke Clinical Guidelines.MethodsThe process was developed by a multidisciplinary group of researchers following consultation with experts in the field of implementation and stroke care in Australia. Use of the process incorporated surveys and facilitated workshops. Survey data were analysed descriptively; responses to ranking exercises were analysed via a graph theory-based voting system.ResultsThe four-step process to identify high-priority recommendations for implementation comprised the following: (1) identifying key implementation criteria, which included (a) reliability of the evidence underpinning the recommendation, (b) capacity to measure change in practice, (c) a recommendation–practice gap, (d) clinical importance and (e) feasibility of making the recommended changes; (2) shortlisting recommendations; (3) ranking shortlisted recommendations and (4) reaching consensus on top priorities.The process was applied to the Australian Stroke Clinical Guidelines between February 2019 and February 2020. Seventy-five health professionals and 16 consumers participated. Use of the process was feasible. Three recommendations were identified as priorities for implementation from over 400 recommendations.ConclusionIt is possible to implement a robust process which involves consumers, clinicians and researchers to systematically prioritize guideline recommendations for implementation. The process is generalizable and could be applied in clinical areas other than stroke and in different geographical regions to identify implementation priorities. The identification of three clear priority recommendations for implementation from the Australian Stroke Clinical Guidelines will directly inform the development and delivery of national implementation strategies.

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