Disease Management & Health Outcomes

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 85–90 | Cite as

Promoting the Implementation of Best-Practice Guidelines Using a Matrix Tool

Focus on Cancer Care
  • Karen LuxfordEmail author
  • David Hill
  • Richard Bell
Original Research Article



Internationally, numerous clinical practice guidelines have been developed and disseminated with the intention of improving patient care. Research indicates that to improve practice in accord with clinical evidence, change is required by individual clinicians and teams of clinicians as well as at an organizational and policy level. A matrix framework has been developed by the Australian Cancer Network’s Guideline Implementation Steering Committee, using the theory of innovation adoption. The matrix is based on the characteristics of innovations that favor rapid adoption and wide acceptance. Within this construct, new clinical guidelines are equated to an ‘innovation’. The objective of the present study was to pilot this matrix tool to assess its usefulness for individuals and organizations aiming to develop strategies to promote guideline implementation in cancer care.


The matrix was piloted at a workshop with 50 attendees, primarily colorectal surgeons and oncologists. Six key areas relating to guidelines were included in the matrix: (i) compatibility with current practice; (ii) relative advantage over current practice; (iii) observability of outcomes; (iv) trialability; (v) simplicity of use; and (vi) perceived barriers. Three examples of guideline recommendations for the management of colorectal cancer were used during the pilot, covering evidence about best clinical care and psychosocial support: (i) people with high-risk rectal cancer should be referred for consideration of adjuvant preoperative or postoperative radiotherapy in a multidisciplinary setting; (ii) people with resected Dukes’ C (i.e. node-positive) colon cancer should be referred for consideration of adjuvant therapy in a multidisciplinary setting; and (iii) psychosocial interventions should be a component of care as they can improve the quality of life in patients with cancer. After discussion of the guideline examples, the attendees completed matrix tool forms to document their perceptions regarding the consistency of current practice with the example guidelines and barriers to practice change. Quantitative responses were assessed by frequency analysis and qualitative responses were assessed by thematic analysis.


There was consistency in the perceived views of workshop attendees around the six key areas included in the matrix. The perceived barriers that were highlighted by the respondents included the lack of available resources (staff, equipment, and funding); lack of multidisciplinary clinics, referral processes, and access to appropriate services; and lack of knowledge of benefit. Perceived facilitators of change included lead clinicians, consumer advocates, government, service administration, professional colleges, and cancer organizations.


The pilot process indicated that the matrix is a tool that could be of use to groups and individuals aiming to develop targeted change strategies to promote evidence-based practice improvement.


Implementation Strategy Psychosocial Intervention Guideline Recommendation Health Service Delivery Guideline Implementation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank the Colorectal Group of the Victorian Cooperative Oncology Group for piloting the matrix tool, and Susan Fitzpatrick (The Cancer Council Victoria) and Fiona Booth (National Breast Cancer Centre) for assistance with collation of the resultant data.

The authors did not receive any funding to assist with preparation of this study and have no conflict of interest related to the contents of the study.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Breast Cancer CentreSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.The Cancer Council VictoriaMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Cancer ServicesBarwon HealthGeelongAustralia

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