Identifying Guideline-Practice Gaps to Optimize Evaluation and Management for Patients With Syncope

Susan Smyth, Vedant Gupta, Mark Williams, Amy Cowley, Matthew Sirrine, Hilary Surratt, Romil Chadha, Seth Stearley, Vikas Bhalla, Jing Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Syncope is a common and complex symptom that requires efficient evaluation to determine the cause. Recent guidelines focus on high-value testing, but a systematic evaluation of their implementation has not been performed. To this end, we used a mixed-methods approach of surveys, chart reviews, and focus groups to understand current practices relating to the diagnosis and management of patients with syncope and to identify barriers and facilitators to the implementation of guideline-supported recommendations. Surveys were distributed to 1500 providers in the specialties of hospital medicine, cardiology, emergency medicine, and family medicine, and 175 responses were received. Knowledge of class I and III guideline recommendations were assessed with the use of clinical vignettes, which were answered correctly 60%-80% of the time. Chart reviews focused on patient history and testing for syncope. Per the guidelines, < 50% of charts met criteria for bare minimum history and physical examination. Based on the documentation, 25% of echocardiograms and 90% of neurologic testing obtained would not have been appropriate per the guidelines. Self-reported and actual practice patterns were similar in rates of testing. Our results indicate that there remains a gap between guideline-directed management and actual practice for syncope. Focus groups revealed barriers across multiple levels of care that need to be addressed to improve care. Our findings emphasize the need for proactive strategies to improve syncope testing practices, potentially saving millions of dollars in the health care system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)500-503
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Journal of Cardiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Canadian Cardiovascular Society

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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