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Effectiveness of personal letters to healthcare professionals in changing professional behaviours: a systematic review protocol

Lookup NU author(s): Louis Goffe, Dr Mei Yee TangORCiD, Fiona Beyer, Professor Falko Sniehotta



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021, The Author(s). Background: Letters are regularly sent by healthcare organisations to healthcare professionals to encourage them to take action, change practice or implement guidance. However, whether letters are an effective tool in delivering a change in healthcare professional behaviour is currently uncertain. In addition, there are currently no evidence-based guidelines to support health providers and authorities with advice on how to formulate the communication, what information and behaviour change techniques to include in order to optimise the potential effect on the behaviour of the receivers. To address this research gap, we seek to inform such guidance through this systematic review, which aims to provide comprehensive evidence of the effectiveness of personal letters to healthcare professionals in changing their professional behaviours. Methods/design: A comprehensive literature search of published and unpublished studies (the grey literature) in electronic databases will be conducted to identify randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that meet our inclusion criteria. We will include RCTs evaluating the effectiveness of personal letters to healthcare professionals in changing professional behaviours. The primary outcome will be behavioural change. The search will be conducted in five electronic databases (from their inception onwards): MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, the Cochrane Library and CINAHL. We will also conduct supplementary searches in Google Scholar, hand search relevant journals, and conduct backward and forward citation searching for included studies and relevant reviews. A systematic approach to searching, screening, reviewing and data extraction will be applied in accordance with the process recommended by the Cochrane Collaboration. Two researchers will examine titles, abstracts, full-texts for eligibility independently. Risk of bias will be assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 (RoB 2) tool for randomised controlled trials. Disagreements will be resolved by a consensus procedure. Discussion: Health policy makers across government are expected to benefit from being able to increase compliance in clinical settings by applying theories of behaviour to design of policy communications. The synthesised findings will be disseminated through peer-reviewed publication. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42020167674

Publication metadata

Author(s): Grimani A, Goffe L, Tang MY, Beyer F, Sniehotta FF, Vlaev I

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Systematic Reviews

Year: 2021

Volume: 10

Online publication date: 02/04/2021

Acceptance date: 26/03/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2046-4053

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s13643-021-01650-4

PubMed id: 33794987