Availability and implementation of guidelines in European child primary health care: how can we improve?

Paul L. Kocken, Nicole M.C. van Kesteren, Renate van Zoonen, Sijmen A. Reijneveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Clinical guidelines are important for providing high-quality child primary health care. We aimed to assess the availability, use and achieved delivery of guidelines in the European Union (EU). METHODS: We used a case study design to ascertain expert views on guidelines in six countries representing the EU. The experts completed an online questionnaire (response 49%), asking about their perception of guideline availability and implementation regarding three topics that represent prevention and care, i.e. vaccination, assessment of mental health and asthma care. RESULTS: According to the respondents all countries had guidelines available for asthma care. For vaccination and mental health assessment respondents agreed to a lesser degree that guidelines were available. Implementation of guidelines for vaccination was mostly perceived as intended, but implementation of the guidelines for mental health assessment and asthma care was limited. Notable barriers were complexity of performance, and lack of training of professionals and of financial resources. Important facilitators for guideline implementation were the fit with routine practice, knowledge and skills of professionals and policy support. We found no clear relationship of guideline availability and implementation with type of child primary health care system of countries, but strong governance and sufficient financial resources seemed important for guideline availability. CONCLUSIONS: Availability and implementation of clinical guidelines in child primary health care vary between EU countries. Implementation conditions can be strongly improved by adequate training of professionals, stronger governance and sufficient financial resources as facilitating factors. This can yield major gains in child health across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-676
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2022

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Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.

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