Barriers and enablers to implementing and using clinical decision support systems for chronic diseases: A qualitative systematic review and meta-aggregation

Winnie Chen, Claire Maree O’Bryan, Gillian Gorham, Kirsten Howard, Bhavya Balasubramanya, Patrick Coffey, Asanga Abeyaratne, Alan Cass

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

104 Downloads (Pure)


Clinical decision support (CDS) is increasingly used to facilitate chronic disease care. Despite increased availability of electronic health records and the ongoing development of new CDS technologies, uptake of CDS into routine clinical settings is inconsistent. This qualitative systematic review seeks to synthesise healthcare provider experiences of CDS—exploring the barriers and enablers to implementing, using, evaluating, and sustaining chronic disease CDS systems.

A search was conducted in Medline, CINAHL, APA PsychInfo, EconLit, and Web of Science from 2011 to 2021. Primary research studies incorporating qualitative findings were included if they targeted healthcare providers and studied a relevant chronic disease CDS intervention. Relevant CDS interventions were electronic health record-based and addressed one or more of the following chronic diseases: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension, and hypercholesterolaemia. Qualitative findings were synthesised using a meta-aggregative approach.

Thirty-three primary research articles were included in this qualitative systematic review. Meta-aggregation of qualitative data revealed 177 findings and 29 categories, which were aggregated into 8 synthesised findings. The synthesised findings related to clinical context, user, external context, and technical factors affecting CDS uptake. Key barriers to uptake included CDS systems that were simplistic, had limited clinical applicability in multimorbidity, and integrated poorly into existing workflows. Enablers to successful CDS interventions included perceived usefulness in providing relevant clinical knowledge and structured chronic disease care; user confidence gained through training and post training follow-up; external contexts comprised of strong clinical champions, allocated personnel, and technical support; and CDS technical features that are both highly functional, and attractive.

This systematic review explored healthcare provider experiences, focussing on barriers and enablers to CDS use for chronic diseases. The results provide an evidence-base for designing, implementing, and sustaining future CDS systems. Based on the findings from this review, we highlight actionable steps for practice and future research.

Trial registration
PROSPERO CRD42020203716
Original languageEnglish
Article number81
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Barriers and enablers to implementing and using clinical decision support systems for chronic diseases: A qualitative systematic review and meta-aggregation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this