Research Outlines Key Factors Influencing the Adoption of New Evidence Into Medical Practice

Washington, DC (July 10, 2013)—Research published today in the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research outlines influential factors that impact how quickly new medical evidence is adopted and put into practice by health care decision-makers.

“We’ve seen firsthand that when a celebrity like Angelina Jolie talks about breast cancer and genetics, people are listening and want to take action,” said National Pharmaceutical Council Chief Science Officer Robert Dubois, MD, PhD. “And while media attention is an important factor in the adoption of health care information, it isn’t the only one. Scientific issues, economic drivers, and the level of patient involvement in their therapy also play key roles.”

The research, “When Is Evidence Sufficient for Decision Making? A Framework for Understanding the Pace of Evidence Adoption and Application,” was written by Dr. Dubois, Michael Lauer, MD, Director, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, and Eleanor Perfetto, PhD, MS, formerly of Pfizer Inc. and now at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

According to the Institute of Medicine, it takes an average of 17 years for new data, or evidence, to become part of routine care. Using three well-documented cases in which new information was disseminated to the public—statins, drug-eluting stents and bone marrow transplantation for breast cancer—the authors developed a framework to determine which factors were most influential in changing clinical practice. Their framework includes the following considerations:

  • Validity, reliability, and maturity of the science: Is the current understanding of the particular condition and its treatment understood well enough so that new information can be taken into account?
  • Economic drivers that might influence adoption: Who is paying for the treatment? Is it being reimbursed? What marketing or detailing efforts were influential?
  • Rapid (or slow) incorporation into practice guidelines: How quickly—or slowly—were the results accepted by groups that develop guidelines?
  • Communication: Are the results being amplified by major media outlets, celebrities or social media?
  • Patients’ and providers’ ability to apply results to their needs: Can patients or providers apply published evidence to their decisions?

With billions of dollars being spent on comparative effectiveness research, the framework can be useful in helping organizations consider how to translate and disseminate research findings, noted Dr. Dubois. “It is important to consider the critical factors that affect adoption and help to optimize the pace with which new treatments and findings are brought into routine clinical practice,” he said.  

NPC will host a webinar to discuss the research and a related white paper developed by IMS Health on July 31, 2013, from 1 pm – 2 pm ET. Register for the webinar on NPC's website.

About the National Pharmaceutical Council:

The National Pharmaceutical Council is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of good evidence and science, and to fostering an environment in the United States that supports medical innovation. Founded in 1953 and supported by the nation’s major research-based pharmaceutical companies, NPC focuses on research development, information dissemination, and education on the critical issues of evidence, innovation and the value of medicines for patients. For more information, visit and follow NPC on Twitter @npcnow.