Identifying and classifying indicators affected by performing clinical pathways in hospitals: a scoping review

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To analyse the evidence regarding indicators affected by clinical pathways (CPW) in hospitals and offer suggestions for conducting comprehensive systematic reviews.


We conducted a systematic scoping review and searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Web of Science, Scopus, OVID, Science Direct, ProQuest, EMBASE and PubMed. We also reviewed the reference lists of included studies. The criteria for inclusion of studies included experimental and quasi-experimental studies, implementing CPW in secondary and tertiary hospitals and investigating at least one indicator. Quality of included studies was assessed by two authors independently using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program for clinical trials and cohort studies and the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Tool for Quasi-Experimental Studies.


Forty-seven out of 2191 studies met the eligibility and inclusion criteria. The majority of included studies had pretest–posttest quasi-experimental design and had been done in developed countries, especially the United States. The investigation of evidence resulted in identifying 62 indicators which were classified into three categories: input indicators, process and output indicators and outcome indicators. Outcome indicators were more frequent than other indicators. Complication rate, hospital costs and length of hospital stay were dominant in their own category. Indicators such as quality of life and adherence to guidelines have been considered in studies that were done in recent years.


Implementing CPW can affect different types of indicators such as input, process, output and outcome indicators, although outcome indicators capture more attention than other indicators. Patient-related indicators were dominant outcome indicators, whereas professional indicators and organizational factors were considered less extensively.

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