International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care

Special Section: Technology Assessment and the Alteration of Medical Practices

When Does Information Change Practitioners' Behavior?

David E. Kanousea1 and Itzhak Jacobya2

a1 The RAND Corporation

a2 National Institutes of Health

Abstract

Programs that disseminate information to health care practitioners often do so partly to encourage appropriate changes in practice. However, merely providing information is seldom enough to accomplish such changes. If information transfer programs are to influence practice, they must be designed to maximize the conditions facilitating change. Reliance on a diffusion model for thinking about how information reaches practitioners has led researchers to over-emphasize the importance of exposure to information and ignore other factors that determine whether change will occur, such as practitioners' motivation to change, the context in which clinical decisions are made, and how information is presented. The fact that successful dissemination will not necessarily produce change also has implications for how information transfer programs should be monitored and evaluated.