A Critical Care Clinician Survey Comparing Attitudes and Perceived Barriers to Low Tidal Volume Ventilation with Actual Practice

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Rationale:Low-Vt ventilation lowers mortality in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) but is underused. Little is known about clinician attitudes toward and perceived barriers to low-Vt ventilation use and their association with actual low-Vt ventilation use.Objectives:The objectives of this study were to assess clinicians' attitudes toward and perceived barriers to low-Vt ventilation (Vt <6.5 ml/kg predicted body weight) in patients with ARDS, to identify differences in attitudes and perceived barriers among clinician types, and to compare attitudes toward and perceived barriers to actual low-Vt ventilation use in patients with ARDS.Methods:We conducted a survey of critical care physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists at four non-ARDS Network hospitals in the Chicago region. We compared survey responses with performance in a cohort of 362 patients with ARDS.Results:Survey responses included clinician attitudes toward and perceived barriers to low-Vt ventilation use. We also measured low-Vt ventilation initiation by these clinicians in 347 patients with ARDS initiated after ARDS onset as well as correlation with clinician attitudes and perceived barriers. Of 674 clinicians surveyed, 467 (69.3%) responded. Clinicians had positive attitudes toward and perceived few process barriers to ARDS diagnosis or initiation of low-Vt ventilation. Physicians had more positive attitudes and perceived fewer barriers than nurses or respiratory therapists. However, use of low-Vt ventilation by all three clinician groups was low. For example, whereas physicians believed that 92.5% of their patients with ARDS warranted treatment with low-Vt ventilation, they initiated low-Vt ventilation for a median (interquartile range) of 7.4% (0 to 14.3%) of their eligible patients with ARDS. Clinician attitudes and perceived barriers were not correlated with low-Vt ventilation initiation.Conclusions:Clinicians had positive attitudes toward low-Vt ventilation and perceived few barriers to using it, but attitudes and perceived process barriers were not correlated with actual low-Vt ventilation use, which was low. Implementation strategies should be focused on examining other issues, such as ARDS recognition and process solutions, to improve low-Vt ventilation use.

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