Understanding thoracic surgeons' perceptions of administrative database analyses and guidelines in clinical decision-making

Kimberly A. Shemanski, Albert Farias, Dustin Lieu, Anthony W. Kim, Sean Wightman, Scott M. Atay, Robert J. Canter, Elizabeth A. David

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study explored cardiothoracic surgeons' perceptions of health services research and practice guidelines, particularly how both influence providers' clinical decision-making. Methods: A trained interviewer conducted open-ended, semistructured phone interviews with cardiothoracic surgeons across the United States. The interviews explored surgeons' experiences with lung cancer treatment and their perceptions of health services research and guidelines. Researchers coded the transcribed interviews using conventional content analysis. Interviews continued until thematic saturation was reached. Results: The 27 surgeons interviewed mostly were general thoracic surgeons (23/27) who attend tumor board weekly (21/27). Five themes relating to physician perceptions of health services research and guidelines emerged. Databases analyses' inherent selection bias and perceived deficit of pertinent clinical variables made providers skeptical of using these studies as primary decision drivers; however, providers thought that database analyses are useful to supplement other data and drive future research. Likewise, providers generally felt that although guidelines provide a useful framework, they often have difficulty applying guidelines to individual patients. An analysis of provider characteristics revealed that younger physicians in practice for fewer years appeared more likely to report using guidelines, and physicians who were aged 50 years or more and not purely academic surgeons appeared to find database analyses less impactful. Conclusions: Health services research, including database analyses, comprise much of the surgical literature; however, this study suggests that perceptions of database analyses and guidelines are mixed and questions whether thoracic surgeons routinely use either to inform their decisions. Researchers must address how to present compelling data to influence clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • guidelines
  • non-small cell lung cancer
  • qualitative research
  • retrospective database analyses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding thoracic surgeons' perceptions of administrative database analyses and guidelines in clinical decision-making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this