Do guidelines improve clinical practice? – a national survey on surveillance colonoscopies

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BackgroundColonoscopic services are increasingly being utilized in surveillance of conditions predisposing to colorectal cancers (CRC). The ACPGBI/BSG guidelines are the most commonly followed recommendations. Numerous retrospective studies have shown poor compliance with them. We conducted a national survey of colonoscopic practitioners investigating attitudes, awareness and implementation of surveillance guidelines.MethodA postal questionnaire was sent to a random population of 250 ACPGBI and 200 BSG members. Questions assessed practice as regards colorectal polyp surveillance, family screening and surveillance for past history of CRC.ResultsThe ACPGBI/BSG guidelines were the most commonly followed recommendations. Only 17.2% of practitioners used the criteria that would ensure accurate implementation of guidelines for colorectal adenoma surveillance. With regards to familial surveillance for CRC, 53.5% respondents assessed familial risk accurately, while 69.3% recommended surveillance incorrectly. A total of 48.8% of ACPGBI members recommended five yearly colonoscopies following curative treatment for CRC.ConclusionThis study has revealed the widespread ignorance of guidelines, which will potentially translate into the gross over utilization of colonoscopic resources. Strategies to improve and audit guideline implementation must be integral to guideline formation. Methods to improve accurate guideline implementation need to be explored.

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