Research Article

Effects of feedback of information on clinical practice: a review.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: (Published 17 August 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:398
  1. M Mugford,
  2. P Banfield,
  3. M O'Hanlon
  1. National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.


    OBJECTIVE--To establish what is known about the role of feedback of statistical information in changing clinical practice. DESIGN--Review of 36 studies of interventions entailing the use of statistical information for audit or practice review, which used a formal research design. SUBJECTS--Papers identified from computer searches of medical and health service management publications, of which 36 describing studies of interventions designed to influence clinical care and including information feedback from clinical or administrative data systems were reviewed. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Evidence for effect of information feedback on change in clinical practice. RESULTS--Information feedback was most likely to influence clinical practice if it was part of strategy to target decision makers who had already agreed to review their practice. A more direct effect was discernable if the information was presented close to the time of decision making. The questions of the optimum layout and quantity of information were not addressed; the 36 papers were insufficient for defining good formats for information to be used for audit or quality assurance. CONCLUSIONS--Given the cost of information processing and the current emphasis on closing the audit loop in the health services, it is important that the use of information in the audit process should be critically evaluated.