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      Towards understanding the de-adoption of low-value clinical practices: a scoping review


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          Low-value clinical practices are common in healthcare, yet the optimal approach to de-adopting these practices is unknown. The objective of this study was to systematically review the literature on de-adoption, document current terminology and frameworks, map the literature to a proposed framework, identify gaps in our understanding of de-adoption, and identify opportunities for additional research.


          MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, the Cochrane Database of Abstracts and Reviews of Effects, and CINAHL Plus were searched from 1 January 1990 to 5 March 2014. Additional citations were identified from bibliographies of included citations, relevant websites, the PubMed ‘related articles’ function, and contacting experts in implementation science. English-language citations that referred to de-adoption of clinical practices in adults with medical, surgical, or psychiatric illnesses were included. Citation selection and data extraction were performed independently and in duplicate.


          From 26,608 citations, 109 were included in the final review. Most citations (65 %) were original research with the majority (59 %) published since 2010. There were 43 unique terms referring to the process of de-adoption—the most frequently cited was “disinvest” (39 % of citations). The focus of most citations was evaluating the outcomes of de-adoption (50 %), followed by identifying low-value practices (47 %), and/or facilitating de-adoption (40 %). The prevalence of low-value practices ranged from 16 % to 46 %, with two studies each identifying more than 100 low-value practices. Most articles cited randomized clinical trials (41 %) that demonstrate harm (73 %) and/or lack of efficacy (63 %) as the reason to de-adopt an existing clinical practice. Eleven citations described 13 frameworks to guide the de-adoption process, from which we developed a model for facilitating de-adoption. Active change interventions were associated with the greatest likelihood of de-adoption.


          This review identified a large body of literature that describes current approaches and challenges to de-adoption of low-value clinical practices. Additional research is needed to determine an ideal strategy for identifying low-value practices, and facilitating and sustaining de-adoption. In the meantime, this study proposes a model that providers and decision-makers can use to guide efforts to de-adopt ineffective and harmful practices.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0488-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          An evidence-based practice guideline for the peer review of electronic search strategies.

          Complex and highly sensitive electronic literature search strategies are required for systematic reviews; however, no guidelines exist for their peer review. Poor searches may fail to identify existing evidence because of inadequate recall (sensitivity) or increase the resource requirements of reviews as a result of inadequate precision. Our objective was to create an annotated checklist for electronic search strategy peer review. A systematic review of the library and information retrieval literature for important elements in electronic search strategies was conducted, along with a survey of individuals experienced in systematic review searching. Six elements with a strong consensus as to their importance in peer review were accurate translation of the research question into search concepts, correct choice of Boolean operators and of line numbers, adequate translation of the search strategy for each database, inclusion of relevant subject headings, and absence of spelling errors. Seven additional elements had partial support and are included in this guideline. This evidence-based guideline facilitates the improvement of search quality through peer review, and thus the improvement in quality of systematic reviews. It is relevant for librarians/information specialists, journal editors, developers of knowledge translation tools, research organizations, and funding bodies.
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              A decade of reversal: an analysis of 146 contradicted medical practices.

              To identify medical practices that offer no net benefits. We reviewed all original articles published in 10 years (2001-2010) in one high-impact journal. Articles were classified on the basis of whether they addressed a medical practice, whether they tested a new or existing therapy, and whether results were positive or negative. Articles were then classified as 1 of 4 types: replacement, when a new practice surpasses standard of care; back to the drawing board, when a new practice is no better than current practice; reaffirmation, when an existing practice is found to be better than a lesser standard; and reversal, when an existing practice is found to be no better than a lesser therapy. This study was conducted from August 1, 2011, through October 31, 2012. We reviewed 2044 original articles, 1344 of which concerned a medical practice. Of these, 981 articles (73.0%) examined a new medical practice, whereas 363 (27.0%) tested an established practice. A total of 947 studies (70.5%) had positive findings, whereas 397 (29.5%) reached a negative conclusion. A total of 756 articles addressing a medical practice constituted replacement, 165 were back to the drawing board, 146 were medical reversals, 138 were reaffirmations, and 139 were inconclusive. Of the 363 articles testing standard of care, 146 (40.2%) reversed that practice, whereas 138 (38.0%) reaffirmed it. The reversal of established medical practice is common and occurs across all classes of medical practice. This investigation sheds light on low-value practices and patterns of medical research. Published by Elsevier Inc.

                Author and article information

                BMC Med
                BMC Med
                BMC Medicine
                BioMed Central (London )
                6 October 2015
                6 October 2015
                : 13
                [ ]Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T1Y 6J4 Canada
                [ ]Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4Z6 Canada
                [ ]Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1T8 Canada
                [ ]Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4Z6 Canada
                © Niven et al. 2015

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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