Adherence to American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Clinical Practice Guidelines: A Systematic Review.

Journal Article (Systematic Review;Journal Article)


Clinical practice guidelines synthesize and disseminate the best available evidence to guide clinical decisions and increase high-quality care. Since 2004, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNSF) has published 16 guidelines. The objective of this review was to evaluate clinicians' adherence to these guidelines' recommendations as measured in the literature.

Data sources

We searched PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science on August 29, 2019, for studies published after June 1, 2004.

Review methods

We systematically identified peer-reviewed studies in English that reported clinician adherence to AAO-HNSF guideline recommendations. Two authors independently reviewed and abstracted study characteristics, including publication date, population, sample size, guideline adherence, and risk of bias.


The search yielded 385 studies. We excluded 331 studies during title/abstract screening and 32 more after full-text review. The remaining 22 studies evaluated recommendations from 8 of the 16 guidelines. The Otitis Media with Effusion, Polysomnography, Tonsillectomy, and Sinusitis guidelines were studied most. Study designs included retrospective chart reviews (7, 32%), clinician surveys (7, 32%), and health care database analyses (8, 36%). Studies reported adherence ranging from 0% to 99.8% with a mean of 56%. Adherence varied depending on the recommendation evaluated, type of recommendation, clinician type, and clinical setting. Adherence to the polysomnography recommendations was low (8%-65.3%). Adherence was higher for the otitis media with effusion (76%-90%) and tonsillectomy (43%-98.9%) recommendations.


Adherence to recommendations in the AAO-HNSF guidelines varies widely. These findings highlight areas for further guideline dissemination, research about guideline adoption, and quality improvement.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ryan, MA; Leu, GR; Boss, EF; Raynor, EM; Walsh, JM

Published Date

  • October 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 163 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 626 - 644

PubMed ID

  • 32450772

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-6817

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0194-5998

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0194599820922155


  • eng