What promotes surgeon practice change? A scoping review of innovation adoption in surgical practice

Natalia A. Arroyo, Thomas Gessert, Mary Hitchcock, Michael Tao, Cara Damico Smith, Caprice Greenberg, Sara Fernandes-Taylor, David O. Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: The goal of this scoping review was to summarize the literature on facilitators and barriers to surgical practice change. This information can inform research to implement best practices and evaluate new surgical innovations. Background: In an era of accelerated innovations, surgeons face the difficult decision to either acknowledge and implement or forgo new advances. Although changing surgical practice to align with evidence is an imperative of health systems, evidence-based guidelines have not translated into consistent change. The literature on practice change is limited and has largely focused on synthesizing information on methods and trials to evaluate innovative surgical interventions. No reviews to date have grounded their analysis within an implementation science framework. Methods: A systematic review of the literature on surgical practice change was performed. Abstracts and full-text articles were reviewed for relevance using inclusion and exclusion criteria and data were extracted from each article. Cited facilitators and barriers were then mapped across domains within the implementation science Theoretical Domains Framework and expanded to the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, and Behavior model. Results: Components of the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, and Behavior model were represented across the Theoretical Domains Framework domains and acted as both facilitators and barriers to practice change depending on the circumstances. Domains that most affected surgical practice change, in order, were: opportunity (environmental context and resources and social influences), capability (knowledge and skills), and motivation (beliefs about consequences and reinforcement). Conclusions: Practice change is predicated on a conducive environment with adequate resources, but once that is established, the surgeon’s individual characteristics, including skills, motivation, and reinforcement determine the likelihood of successful change. Deficiencies in the literature underscore the need for further study of resource interventions and the role of surgical team dynamics in the adoption of innovation. A better understanding of these areas is needed to optimize our ability to disseminate and implement best practices in surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-482
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Innovation
  • Practice change
  • Scoping review
  • Surgeon behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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