Bayesian networks in healthcare: What is preventing their adoption?

Evangelia Kyrimi, Kudakwashe Dube, Norman Fenton, Ali Fahmi, Mariana Raniere Neves, William Marsh, Scott McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There has been much research effort expended toward the use of Bayesian networks (BNs) in medical decision-making. However, because of the gap between developing an accurate BN and demonstrating its clinical usefulness, this has not resulted in any widespread BN adoption in clinical practice. This paper investigates this problem with the aim of finding an explanation and ways to address the problem through a comprehensive literature review of articles describing BNs in healthcare. Based on the literature collection that has been systematically narrowed down from 3810 to 116 most relevant articles, this paper analyses the benefits, barriers and facilitating factors (BBF) for implementing BN-based systems in healthcare using the ITPOSMO-BBF framework. A key finding is that works in the literature rarely consider barriers and even when these were identified they were not connected to facilitating factors. The main finding is that the barriers can be grouped into: (1) data inadequacies; (2) clinicians’ resistance to new technologies; (3) lack of clinical credibility; (4) failure to demonstrate clinical impact; (5) absence of an acceptable predictive performance; and (6) absence of evidence for model’s generalisability. The facilitating factors can be grouped into: (1) data collection improvements; (2) software and technological improvements; (3) having interpretable and easy to use BN-based systems; (4) clinical involvement in the development or review of the model; (5) investigation of model’s clinical impact; (6) internal validation of the model’s performance; and (7) external validation of the model. These groupings form a strong basis for a generic framework that could be used for formulating strategies for ensuring BN-based clinical decision-support system adoption in frontline care settings. The output of this review is expected to enhance the dialogue among researchers by providing a deeper understanding for the neglected issue of BN adoption in practice and promoting efforts for implementing BN-based systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102079
JournalArtificial Intelligence in Medicine
Early online date3 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Adoption
  • Bayesian networks
  • Healthcare
  • Implementation


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