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1.  Evaluating the use of the appropriateness method in the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Clinical Practice Guideline Development process. 
Health Services Research  1996;31(4):453-468.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the feasibility of the appropriateness method in the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) Clinical Practice Guideline Development process, and to compare the results of the appropriateness method with those obtained using evidence tables and an informal consensus method. SETTING: AHCPR Low Back Problems Clinical Practice Guideline. DESIGN: Two different group process methods with the same panel of experts were used in observational comparison of results of and satisfaction with guideline development. DATA COLLECTION: Practice guideline statements were created for topics using the conventional AHCPR method; then six months later new guideline statements for four topics were created using the appropriateness method. Panelist satisfaction with each process and resulting set of guideline statements was assessed. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Results of the appropriateness method for TENS, discography, and traction showed no disagreement among panel members and no appropriate indications for their use in the patient scenarios considered. These results are qualitatively similar to the guideline statements produced using evidence tables and informal consensus. Clinical practice guideline statements about electro-diagnostics created from appropriateness ratings were much more clinically specific than those created using evidence tables and informal consensus. Neither informal consensus building nor the appropriateness method was clearly preferred by a majority of panelists. CONCLUSIONS: It is feasible to use the appropriateness method in the AHCPR Clinical Practice Guideline Development process, and in some instances it produces more clinically specific guideline statements than does informal consensus.
PMCID: PMC1070131  PMID: 8885858
2.  Smoking Cessation in Primary Care Clinics 
To document smoking cessation rates achieved by applying the 1996 Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) smoking cessation guidelines for primary care clinics, compare these quit rates with historical results, and determine if quit rates improve with an additional motivational intervention that includes education as well as spirometry and carbon monoxide measurements.
Randomized clinical trial.
Two university-affiliated community primary care clinics.
Two hundred five smokers with routinely scheduled appointments.
All smokers were given advice and support according to AHCPR guidelines. Half of the subjects received additional education with spirometry and carbon monoxide measurements.
Quit rate was evaluated at 9-month follow-up. Eleven percent of smokers were sustained quitters at follow-up. Sustained quit rate was no different for intervention and control groups (9% vs 14%; [OR] 0.6; 95%[CI] 0.2, 1.4). Nicotine replacement therapy was strongly associated with sustained cessation (OR 6.7; 95% CI 2.3, 19.6). Subjects without insurance were the least likely to use nicotine replacement therapy (p = .05). Historical data from previously published studies showed that 2% of smokers quit following physician advice, and additional support similar to AHCPR guidelines increased the quit rate to 5%.
The sustained smoking cessation rate achieved by following AHCPR guidelines was 11% at 9 months, which compares favorably with historical results. Additional education with spirometry did not improve the quit rate. Nicotine replacement therapy was the strongest predictor of cessation, yet was used infrequently owing to cost. These findings support the use of AHCPR guidelines in primary care clinics, but do not support routine spirometry for motivating patients similar to those studied here.
PMCID: PMC1496767  PMID: 10571715
clinical trial; smoking cessation; AHCPR guidelines; spirometry; nicotine replacement therapy
3.  Computerizing guidelines to improve care and patient outcomes: the example of heart failure. 
Increasing amounts of medical knowledge, clinical data, and patient expectations have created a fertile environment for developing and using clinical practice guidelines. Electronic medical records have provided an opportunity to invoke guidelines during the everyday practice of clinical medicine to improve health care quality and control costs. In this paper, efforts to incorporate complex guidelines [those for heart failure from the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR)] into a network of physicians' interactive microcomputer workstations are reported. The task proved difficult because the guidelines often lack explicit definitions (e.g., for symptom severity and adverse events) that are necessary to navigate the AHCPR algorithm. They also focus more on errors of omission (not doing the right thing) than on errors of commission (doing the wrong thing) and do not account for comorbid conditions, concurrent drug therapy, or the timing of most interventions and follow-up. As they stand, the heart failure guidelines give good general guidance to individual practitioners, but cannot be used to assess quality or care without extensive "translation" into the local environment. Specific recommendations are made so that future guidelines will prove useful to a wide range of prospective users.
PMCID: PMC116272  PMID: 7496881
4.  Improving the use of research evidence in guideline development: 1. Guidelines for guidelines 
The World Health Organization (WHO), like many other organisations around the world, has recognised the need to use more rigorous processes to ensure that health care recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. This is the first of a series of 16 reviews that have been prepared as background for advice from the WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research to WHO on how to achieve this.
We reviewed the literature on guidelines for the development of guidelines.
We searched PubMed and three databases of methodological studies for existing systematic reviews and relevant methodological research. We did not conduct systematic reviews ourselves. Our conclusions are based on the available evidence, consideration of what WHO and other organisations are doing and logical arguments.
Key questions and answers
We found no experimental research that compared different formats of guidelines for guidelines or studies that compared different components of guidelines for guidelines. However, there are many examples, surveys and other observational studies that compared the impact of different guideline development documents on guideline quality.
What have other organizations done to develop guidelines for guidelines from which WHO can learn?
• Establish a credible, independent committee that evaluates existing methods for developing guidelines or that updates existing ones.
• Obtain feedback and approval from various stakeholders during the development process of guidelines for guidelines.
• Develop a detailed source document (manual) that guideline developers can use as reference material.
What should be the key components of WHO guidelines for guidelines?
• Guidelines for guidelines should include information and instructions about the following components: 1) Priority setting; 2) Group composition and consultations; 3) Declaration and avoidance of conflicts of interest; 4) Group processes; 5) Identification of important outcomes; 6) Explicit definition of the questions and eligibility criteria ; 7) Type of study designs for different questions; 8) Identification of evidence; 9) Synthesis and presentation of evidence; 10) Specification and integration of values; 11) Making judgments about desirable and undesirable effects; 12) Taking account of equity; 13) Grading evidence and recommendations; 14) Taking account of costs; 15) Adaptation, applicability, transferability of guidelines; 16) Structure of reports; 17) Methods of peer review; 18) Planned methods of dissemination & implementation; 19) Evaluation of the guidelines.
What have other organizations done to implement guidelines for guidelines from which WHO can learn?
• Obtain buy-in from regions and country level representatives for guidelines for guidelines before dissemination of a revised version.
• Disseminate the guidelines for guidelines widely and make them available (e.g. on the Internet).
• Develop examples of guidelines that guideline developers can use as models when applying the guidelines for guidelines.
• Ensure training sessions for those responsible for developing guidelines.
• Continue to monitor the methodological literature on guideline development.
PMCID: PMC1665445  PMID: 17118181
5.  How Evidence-Based Are the Recommendations in Evidence-Based Guidelines? 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e250.
Treatment recommendations for the same condition from different guideline bodies often disagree, even when the same randomized controlled trial (RCT) evidence is cited. Guideline appraisal tools focus on methodology and quality of reporting, but not on the nature of the supporting evidence. This study was done to evaluate the quality of the evidence (based on consideration of its internal validity, clinical relevance, and applicability) underlying therapy recommendations in evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
Methods and Findings
A cross-sectional analysis of cardiovascular risk management recommendations was performed for three different conditions (diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and hypertension) from three pan-national guideline panels (from the United States, Canada, and Europe). Of the 338 treatment recommendations in these nine guidelines, 231 (68%) cited RCT evidence but only 105 (45%) of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. RCT-based evidence was downgraded most often because of reservations about the applicability of the RCT to the populations specified in the guideline recommendation (64/126 cases, 51%) or because the RCT reported surrogate outcomes (59/126 cases, 47%).
The results of internally valid RCTs may not be applicable to the populations, interventions, or outcomes specified in a guideline recommendation and therefore should not always be assumed to provide high-quality evidence for therapy recommendations.
From an analysis of cardiovascular risk-management recommendations in guidelines produced by pan-national panels, McAlister and colleagues concluded that fewer than half were based on high-quality evidence.
Editors' Summary
Until recently, doctors largely relied on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with high blood pressure (hypertension), for example, the doctor had to decide whether to recommend lifestyle changes or to prescribe drugs to reduce the blood pressure. If he or she chose the latter, he or she then had to decide which drug to prescribe, set a target blood pressure, and decide how long to wait before changing the prescription if this target was not reached. But, over the past decade, numerous clinical practice guidelines have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations to help doctors make treatment decisions like these. For each guideline, experts have searched the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluated the quality of that evidence, and then made recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
The recommendations made in different clinical practice guidelines vary, in part because they are based on evidence of varying quality. To help clinicians decide which recommendations to follow, some guidelines indicate the strength of their recommendations by grading them, based on the methods used to collect the underlying evidence. Thus, a randomized clinical trial (RCT)—one in which patients are randomly allocated to different treatments without the patient or clinician knowing the allocation—provides higher-quality evidence than a nonrandomized trial. Similarly, internally valid trials—in which the differences between patient groups are solely due to their different treatments and not to other aspects of the trial—provide high-quality evidence. However, grading schemes rarely consider the size of studies and whether they have focused on clinical or so-called “surrogate” measures. (For example, an RCT of a treatment to reduce heart or circulation [“cardiovascular”] problems caused by high blood pressure might have death rate as a clinical measure; a surrogate endpoint would be blood pressure reduction.) Most guidelines also do not consider how generalizable (applicable) the results of a trial are to the populations, interventions, and outcomes specified in the guideline recommendation. In this study, the researchers have investigated the quality of the evidence underlying recommendations for cardiovascular risk management in nine evidence-based clinical practice guides using these additional criteria.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted the recommendations for managing cardiovascular risk from the current US, Canadian, and European guidelines for the management of diabetes, abnormal blood lipid levels (dyslipidemia), and hypertension. They graded the quality of evidence for each recommendation using the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) grading scheme, which considers the type of study, its internal validity, its clinical relevance, and how generally applicable the evidence is considered to be. Of 338 evidence-based recommendations, two-thirds were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, but only half of these RCT-based recommendations were based on high-quality evidence. The evidence underlying 64 of the guideline recommendations failed to achieve a high CHEP grade because the RCT data were collected in a population of people with different characteristics to those covered by the guideline. For example, a recommendation to use spironolactone to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension was based on an RCT in which the participants initially had congestive heart failure with normal blood pressure. Another 59 recommendations were downgraded because they were based on evidence from RCTs that had not focused on clinical measures of effectiveness.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that although most of the recommendations for cardiovascular risk management therapies in the selected guidelines were based on evidence collected in internally valid RCTs, less than one-third were based on high-quality evidence applicable to the populations, treatments, and outcomes specified in guideline recommendations. A limitation of this study is that it analyzed a subset of recommendations in only a few guidelines. Nevertheless, the findings serve to warn clinicians that evidence-based guidelines are not necessarily based on high-quality evidence. In addition, they emphasize the need to make the evidence base underlying guideline recommendations more transparent by using an extended grading system like the CHEP scheme. If this were done, the researchers suggest, it would help clinicians apply guideline recommendations appropriately to their individual patients.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• Wikipedia contains pages on evidence-based medicine and on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
• The National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on US national guidelines
• The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
• Information is available on the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP) (in French and English)
• See information on the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) working group, an organization that has developed an grading scheme similar to the CHEP scheme (in English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian)
PMCID: PMC1939859  PMID: 17683197
6.  Improving the use of research evidence in guideline development: 16. Evaluation 
The World Health Organization (WHO), like many other organisations around the world, has recognised the need to use more rigorous processes to ensure that health care recommendations are informed by the best available research evidence. This is the last of a series of 16 reviews that have been prepared as background for advice from the WHO Advisory Committee on Health Research to WHO on how to achieve this.
We reviewed the literature on evaluating guidelines and recommendations, including their quality, whether they are likely to be up-to-date, and their implementation. We also considered the role of guideline developers in undertaking evaluations that are needed to inform recommendations.
We searched PubMed and three databases of methodological studies for existing systematic reviews and relevant methodological research. We did not conduct systematic reviews ourselves. Our conclusions are based on the available evidence, consideration of what WHO and other organisations are doing and logical arguments.
Key questions and answers
Our answers to these questions were informed by a review of instruments for evaluating guidelines, several studies of the need for updating guidelines, discussions of the pros and cons of different research designs for evaluating the implementation of guidelines, and consideration of the use of uncertainties identified in systematic reviews to set research priorities.
How should the quality of guidelines or recommendations be appraised?
• WHO should put into place processes to ensure that both internal and external review of guidelines is undertaken routinely.
• A checklist, such as the AGREE instrument, should be used.
• The checklist should be adapted and tested to ensure that it is suitable to the broad range of recommendations that WHO produces, including public health and health policy recommendations, and that it includes questions about equity and other items that are particularly important for WHO guidelines.
When should guidelines or recommendations be updated?
• Processes should be put into place to ensure that guidelines are monitored routinely to determine if they are in need of updating.
• People who are familiar with the topic, such as Cochrane review groups, should do focused, routine searches for new research that would require revision of the guideline.
• Periodic review of guidelines by experts not involved in developing the guidelines should also be considered.
• Consideration should be given to establishing guideline panels that are ongoing, to facilitate routine updating, with members serving fixed periods with a rotating membership.
How should the impact of guidelines or recommendations be evaluated?
• WHO headquarters and regional offices should support member states and those responsible for policy decisions and implementation to evaluate the impact of their decisions and actions by providing advice regarding impact assessment, practical support and coordination of efforts.
• Before-after evaluations should be used cautiously and when there are important uncertainties regarding the effects of a policy or its implementation, randomised evaluations should be used when possible.
What responsibility should WHO take for ensuring that important uncertainties are addressed by future research when the evidence needed to inform recommendations is lacking?
• Guideline panels should routinely identify important uncertainties and research priorities. This source of potential priorities for research should be used systematically to inform priority-setting processes for global research.
PMCID: PMC1702533  PMID: 17156460
7.  Barriers between guidelines and improved patient care: an analysis of AHCPR's Unstable Angina Clinical Practice Guideline. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. 
Health Services Research  1999;34(1 Pt 2):377-389.
OBJECTIVES: To describe common barriers that limit the effect of guidelines on patient care, with emphasis on recommendations for triage in the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) Unstable Angina Clinical Practice Guideline. DATA SOURCES: Previously reported results from a prospective clinical study of 10,785 patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with symptoms suggestive of acute cardiac ischemia. STUDY DESIGN: Design is an analysis of the AHCPR guideline with regard to recognized barriers in guideline implementation. Presentation of hypothetical scenarios to ED physicians was used to determine interrater reliability in applying the guideline to assess risk and to make triage decisions. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The AHCPR guideline's triage recommendations demonstrate (1) poor interobserver reliability in interpretation by ED physicians; (2) limited applicability of recommendations for outpatient management (applies to 6 percent of patients presenting to the ED with unstable angina); (3) incomplete specifications of exceptions that may require deviation from guideline recommendations; (4) unexpected effects on medical care by significantly increasing the demand for limited intensive care beds; and (5) unknown effects on patient outcomes. In addition, analysis of the guideline highlights the need to address organizational barriers, such as administrative policies that conflict with guideline recommendations and the need to adapt the guideline to conform to local systems of care. CONCLUSIONS: Careful analysis of guideline attributes, projected effect on medical care, and organizational factors reveal several barriers to successful guideline implementation that should be addressed in the design of future guideline-based interventions.
PMCID: PMC1089008  PMID: 10199682
8.  Hypertension guidelines and their effects on the health system 
Hypertension guidelines, which have existed for many years and primarily used in the USA, Canada and Great Britain, are now becoming an issue in Germany. Strong efforts are presently underway for a German version comparable to the guidelines developed for the mentioned countries. The development of guidelines is a part of the implementation system of guidelines in Germany. It covers the mode of operation of the AWMF (work community of the scientific medical subject companies) with the clearinghouse for guidelines (CLA) and the cooperation with the centre for medical quality (ÄZQ).
In the HTA report the real use of the hypertension guidelines shall be investigated for Germany from the development trends and further possibilities of use according to a medical applicability. Economic issues and an optimisation of use are also discussed.
The following questions shall be answered in particular:
How much are the guidelines used concerning hypertension? Can effects (or their influence) be established on the medical procedures? Are there statements available about costs and cost effectiveness? Are there recommendations for further use?
To answer these questions, a comprehensive literature search was done. No empirical investigation was carried out. From this enquiry 206 articles were checked in detail but not all of them were available in full text.
Only those publications which directly dealt with high blood pressure guidelines or articles with a direct reference to the topic have been considered in the HTA report.
Publications concerning screening or methods of prevention, medical studies of the hypertension syndrome without a direct reference to guidelines and publications concerned with putting guidelines into action were excluded.
After an analysis of the selected literature addressing the topic of hypertension guidelines, it was evident that the use of these guidelines cannot be gathered from existing literature at the present time. One can assume from international studies with analogical reasoning that these are confessed and have a high level of acceptance in the medical community. Unfortunately the actual usage is not represented satisfactorily in the scientific literature.
The effects of the guidelines on the medical procedures seem to be very strongly individual and the analyses to the compliance show at least an observable effect within the last few years. No publications could be found for the cost effectiveness of the guidelines.
The actual compliance with guidelines seems to be in relation with the duration of the professional practice. It seems the shorter the professional practice takes place, the stronger the guidelines are adhered.
At present, there are only a few notes for the German health service regarding the actual effect of the hypertonus guidelines. However, the reason is not that the effect would not be possibly strong but at the methodical challenge to evaluate the sustaining effects of the application of the hypertonus guidelines. For this reason the literature is very rare regarding this topic.
For Germany it can be derived by analogical reasoning from foreign studies that guidelines will facilitate a more and more essential contribution to the design of the health system. Considering that primarily younger physicians accepted guidelines mode, the further construction, update and implementation of guidelines are essential, particularly with regard to the quality assurance. Straight guidelines can express a standard of the quality of a health system as a benchmark. The existence of guidelines or the lack thereof is considered also as a quality indicator of a health system at the organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD).
Guidelines should be evaluated - especially the hypertonus guideline. Also further development and implementation should be emphasised. Methodically oriented work to the approach is pretty recent.
It is undeniable that guidelines represent a very essential and important contribution for the successful dealing with significant morbidity problems in a health system.
The fact that primarily younger doctors more frequently adopt, employ and adhere to guidelines leads to the assumption that expected sustainability for practical use will increase. Furthermore intensified use of guidelines can be considered in the "mainstream" of the development of the public health system also in an international perspective.
Not one single publication contradicts that a further acquirement, update and distribution of guidelines for the use of practices is necessary. The importance of the guideline is also not questioned in any article.
PMCID: PMC3011314  PMID: 21289932
9.  Threats to Validity in the Design and Conduct of Preclinical Efficacy Studies: A Systematic Review of Guidelines for In Vivo Animal Experiments 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001489.
The vast majority of medical interventions introduced into clinical development prove unsafe or ineffective. One prominent explanation for the dismal success rate is flawed preclinical research. We conducted a systematic review of preclinical research guidelines and organized recommendations according to the type of validity threat (internal, construct, or external) or programmatic research activity they primarily address.
Methods and Findings
We searched MEDLINE, Google Scholar, Google, and the EQUATOR Network website for all preclinical guideline documents published up to April 9, 2013 that addressed the design and conduct of in vivo animal experiments aimed at supporting clinical translation. To be eligible, documents had to provide guidance on the design or execution of preclinical animal experiments and represent the aggregated consensus of four or more investigators. Data from included guidelines were independently extracted by two individuals for discrete recommendations on the design and implementation of preclinical efficacy studies. These recommendations were then organized according to the type of validity threat they addressed. A total of 2,029 citations were identified through our search strategy. From these, we identified 26 guidelines that met our eligibility criteria—most of which were directed at neurological or cerebrovascular drug development. Together, these guidelines offered 55 different recommendations. Some of the most common recommendations included performance of a power calculation to determine sample size, randomized treatment allocation, and characterization of disease phenotype in the animal model prior to experimentation.
By identifying the most recurrent recommendations among preclinical guidelines, we provide a starting point for developing preclinical guidelines in other disease domains. We also provide a basis for the study and evaluation of preclinical research practice.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The development process for new drugs is lengthy and complex. It begins in the laboratory, where scientists investigate the causes of diseases and identify potential new treatments. Next, promising interventions undergo preclinical research in cells and in animals (in vivo animal experiments) to test whether the intervention has the expected effect and to support the generalization (extension) of this treatment–effect relationship to patients. Drugs that pass these tests then enter clinical trials, where their safety and efficacy is tested in selected groups of patients under strictly controlled conditions. Finally, the government bodies responsible for drug approval review the results of the clinical trials, and successful drugs receive a marketing license, usually a decade or more after the initial laboratory work. Notably, only 11% of agents that enter clinical testing (investigational drugs) are ultimately licensed.
Why Was This Study Done?
The frequent failure of investigational drugs during clinical translation is potentially harmful to trial participants. Moreover, the costs of these failures are passed onto healthcare systems in the form of higher drug prices. It would be good, therefore, to reduce the attrition rate of investigational drugs. One possible explanation for the dismal success rate of clinical translation is that preclinical research, the key resource for justifying clinical development, is flawed. To address this possibility, several groups of preclinical researchers have issued guidelines intended to improve the design and execution of in vivo animal studies. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the authors identify the experimental practices that are commonly recommended in these guidelines and organize these recommendations according to the type of threat to validity (internal, construct, or external) that they address. Internal threats to validity are factors that confound reliable inferences about treatment–effect relationships in preclinical research. For example, experimenter expectation may bias outcome assessment. Construct threats to validity arise when researchers mischaracterize the relationship between an experimental system and the clinical disease it is intended to represent. For example, researchers may use an animal model for a complex multifaceted clinical disease that only includes one characteristic of the disease. External threats to validity are unseen factors that frustrate the transfer of treatment–effect relationships from animal models to patients.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 26 preclinical guidelines that met their predefined eligibility criteria. Twelve guidelines addressed preclinical research for neurological and cerebrovascular drug development; other disorders covered by guidelines included cardiac and circulatory disorders, sepsis, pain, and arthritis. Together, the guidelines offered 55 different recommendations for the design and execution of preclinical in vivo animal studies. Nineteen recommendations addressed threats to internal validity. The most commonly included recommendations of this type called for the use of power calculations to ensure that sample sizes are large enough to yield statistically meaningful results, random allocation of animals to treatment groups, and “blinding” of researchers who assess outcomes to treatment allocation. Among the 25 recommendations that addressed threats to construct validity, the most commonly included recommendations called for characterization of the properties of the animal model before experimentation and matching of the animal model to the human manifestation of the disease. Finally, six recommendations addressed threats to external validity. The most commonly included of these recommendations suggested that preclinical research should be replicated in different models of the same disease and in different species, and should also be replicated independently.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This systematic review identifies a range of investigational recommendations that preclinical researchers believe address threats to the validity of preclinical efficacy studies. Many of these recommendations are not widely implemented in preclinical research at present. Whether the failure to implement them explains the frequent discordance between the results on drug safety and efficacy obtained in preclinical research and in clinical trials is currently unclear. These findings provide a starting point, however, for the improvement of existing preclinical research guidelines for specific diseases, and for the development of similar guidelines for other diseases. They also provide an evidence-based platform for the analysis of preclinical evidence and for the study and evaluation of preclinical research practice. These findings should, therefore, be considered by investigators, institutional review bodies, journals, and funding agents when designing, evaluating, and sponsoring translational research.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US Food and Drug Administration provides information about drug approval in the US for consumers and for health professionals; its Patient Network provides a step-by-step description of the drug development process that includes information on preclinical research
The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) provides information about all aspects of the scientific evaluation and approval of new medicines in the UK; its My Medicine: From Laboratory to Pharmacy Shelf web pages describe the drug development process from scientific discovery, through preclinical and clinical research, to licensing and ongoing monitoring
The STREAM website provides ongoing information about policy, ethics, and practices used in clinical translation of new drugs
The CAMARADES collaboration offers a “supporting framework for groups involved in the systematic review of animal studies” in stroke and other neurological diseases
PMCID: PMC3720257  PMID: 23935460
10.  246 Assessment of the Quality of Methodological Rigour and Reporting of Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Allergic Rhinitis—Qugar Study 
The World Allergy Organization Journal  2012;5(Suppl 2):S97-S98.
To assess the methodological rigour and transparency of reporting in clinical practice guidelines for the management of allergic rhinitis (AR).
We systematically searched MEDLINE, TRIP database (including the National Guidelines Clearinghouse) and professional society websites for guidelines about the management of AR published after the year 2000. We assumed that older guidelines would no longer influence current clinical practice. If the guideline was updated after 2000 we assessed the most recent version. We included all guidelines published in English and endorsed by an international or national government agency or professional group, irrespective of country of origin or publication status. Two reviewers independently screened search results using predefined eligibility criteria and assessed the rigour of development and reporting of included guidelines using the AGREE II instrument (
Our search revealed 432 records of which 34 full text articles were assessed for eligibility. Nine documents fulfilled our criteria–3 international and 6 national guidelines from Japan, Singapore, South Africa, UK and the USA. Overall methodological rigour and reporting of guidelines about the management of AR was variable—from fulfilling most AGREE II criteria to almost none. There was no association between the methodological rigour and time of publication or the target scope of the guideline (national versus international). Across all guidelines the most rigorously reported domain was “clarity of presentation” (median score 53%), mainly due to fair presentation of different management options (item 16), followed by “scope and purpose” (median score 42%). The least rigorously addressed was “applicability” domain with median score of 2% across all guidelines. Median scores for domains “stakeholder involvement”, “rigour of development” and editorial independence” were 17%, 15% and 25%, respectively. The ARIA guidelines (2010 update) achieved the highest scores in 5 out of 6 domains and the lowest score on any domain was 60%.
Guideline users should be aware of the variability in quality of development and reporting of guidelines for the management of AR. They should choose higher quality guidelines to inform their practice. For many guidelines there is much room for improvement, in particular in the domains of applicability and implementation.
PMCID: PMC3512885
11.  Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections Among HIV-Exposed and HIV-Infected Children: Recommendations from CDC, the National Institutes of Health, the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, and the American Academy of Pediatrics 
This report updates and combines into one document earlier versions of guidelines for preventing and treating opportunistic infections (OIs) among HIV-exposed and HIV-infected children, last published in 2002 and 2004, respectively. These guidelines are intended for use by clinicians and other health-care workers providing medical care for HIV-exposed and HIV-infected children in the United States. The guidelines discuss opportunistic pathogens that occur in the United States and one that might be acquired during international travel (i.e., malaria). Topic areas covered for each OI include a brief description of the epidemiology, clinical presentation, and diagnosis of the OI in children; prevention of exposure; prevention of disease by chemoprophylaxis and/or vaccination; discontinuation of primary prophylaxis after immune reconstitution; treatment of disease; monitoring for adverse effects during treatment; management of treatment failure; prevention of disease recurrence; and discontinuation of secondary prophylaxis after immune reconstitution. A separate document about preventing and treating of OIs among HIV-infected adults and postpubertal adolescents (Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents) was prepared by a working group of adult HIV and infectious disease specialists.
The guidelines were developed by a panel of specialists in pediatric HIV infection and infectious diseases (the Pediatric Opportunistic Infections Working Group) from the U.S. government and academic institutions. For each OI, a pediatric specialist with content-matter expertise reviewed the literature for new information since the last guidelines were published; they then proposed revised recommendations at a meeting at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in June 2007. After these presentations and discussions, the guidelines underwent further revision, with review and approval by the Working Group, and final endorsement by NIH, CDC, the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society (PIDS), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The recommendations are rated by a letter that indicates the strength of the recommendation and a Roman numeral that indicates the quality of the evidence supporting the recommendation so readers can ascertain how best to apply the recommendations in their practice environments.
An important mode of acquisition of OIs, as well as HIV infection among children, is from their infected mother; HIV-infected women coinfected with opportunistic pathogens might be more likely than women without HIV infection to transmit these infections to their infants. In addition, HIV-infected women or HIV-infected family members coinfected with certain opportunistic pathogens might be more likely to transmit these infections horizontally to their children, resulting in increased likelihood of primary acquisition of such infections in the young child. Therefore, infections with opportunistic pathogens might affect not just HIV-infected infants but also HIV-exposed but uninfected infants who become infected by the pathogen because of transmission from HIV-infected mothers or family members with coinfections. These guidelines for treating OIs in children therefore consider treatment of infections among all children, both HIV-infected and uninfected, born to HIV-infected women.
Additionally, HIV infection is increasingly seen among adolescents with perinatal infection now surviving into their teens and among youth with behaviorally acquired HIV infection. Although guidelines for postpubertal adolescents can be found in the adult OI guidelines, drug pharmacokinetics and response to treatment may differ for younger prepubertal or pubertal adolescents. Therefore, these guidelines also apply to treatment of HIV-infected youth who have not yet completed pubertal development.
Major changes in the guidelines include 1) greater emphasis on the importance of antiretroviral therapy for preventing and treating OIs, especially those OIs for which no specific therapy exists; 2) information about the diagnosis and management of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndromes; 3) information about managing antiretroviral therapy in children with OIs, including potential drug--drug interactions; 4) new guidance on diagnosing of HIV infection and presumptively excluding HIV infection in infants that affect the need for initiation of prophylaxis to prevent Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) in neonates; 5) updated immunization recommendations for HIV-exposed and HIV-infected children, including hepatitis A, human papillomavirus, meningococcal, and rotavirus vaccines; 6) addition of sections on aspergillosis; bartonella; human herpes virus-6, −7, and −8; malaria; and progressive multifocal leukodystrophy (PML); and 7) new recommendations on discontinuation of OI prophylaxis after immune reconstitution in children. The report includes six tables pertinent to preventing and treating OIs in children and two figures describing immunization recommendations for children aged 0--6 years and 7--18 years.
Because treatment of OIs is an evolving science, and availability of new agents or clinical data on existing agents might change therapeutic options and preferences, these recommendations will be periodically updated and will be available at
PMCID: PMC2821196  PMID: 19730409
12.  Comparison of international guideline programs to evaluate and update the Dutch program for clinical guideline development in physical therapy 
Clinical guidelines are considered important instruments to improve quality in health care. Since 1998 the Royal Dutch Society for Physical Therapy (KNGF) produced evidence-based clinical guidelines, based on a standardized program. New developments in the field of guideline research raised the need to evaluate and update the KNGF guideline program.
Purpose of this study is to compare different guideline development programs and review the KNGF guideline program for physical therapy in the Netherlands, in order to update the program.
Six international guideline development programs were selected, and the 23 criteria of the AGREE Instrument were used to evaluate the guideline programs. Information about the programs was retrieved from published handbooks of the organizations. Also, the Dutch program for guideline development in physical therapy was evaluated using the AGREE criteria. Further comparison the six guideline programs was carried out using the following elements of the guideline development processes: Structure and organization; Preparation and initiation; Development; Validation; Dissemination and implementation; Evaluation and update.
Compliance with the AGREE criteria of the guideline programs was high. Four programs addressed 22 AGREE criteria, and two programs addressed 20 AGREE criteria. The previous Dutch program for guideline development in physical therapy lacked in compliance with the AGREE criteria, meeting only 13 criteria.
Further comparison showed that all guideline programs perform systematic literature searches to identify the available evidence. Recommendations are formulated and graded, based on evidence and other relevant factors. It is not clear how decisions in the development process are made. In particular, the process of translating evidence into practice recommendations can be improved.
As a result of international developments and consensus, the described processes for developing clinical practice guidelines have much in common. The AGREE criteria are common basis for the development of guidelines, although it is not clear how final decisions are made. Detailed comparison of the different guideline programs was used for updating the Dutch program. As a result the updated KNGF program complied with 22 AGREE criteria. International discussion is continuing and will be used for further improvement of the program.
PMCID: PMC2228296  PMID: 18036215
13.  Community-Based Care for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes 
Executive Summary
In June 2008, the Medical Advisory Secretariat began work on the Diabetes Strategy Evidence Project, an evidence-based review of the literature surrounding strategies for successful management and treatment of diabetes. This project came about when the Health System Strategy Division at the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care subsequently asked the secretariat to provide an evidentiary platform for the Ministry’s newly released Diabetes Strategy.
After an initial review of the strategy and consultation with experts, the secretariat identified five key areas in which evidence was needed. Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these five areas: insulin pumps, behavioural interventions, bariatric surgery, home telemonitoring, and community based care. For each area, an economic analysis was completed where appropriate and is described in a separate report.
To review these titles within the Diabetes Strategy Evidence series, please visit the Medical Advisory Secretariat Web site,,
Diabetes Strategy Evidence Platform: Summary of Evidence-Based Analyses
Continuous Subcutaneous Insulin Infusion Pumps for Type 1 and Type 2 Adult Diabetics: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Behavioural Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Bariatric Surgery for People with Diabetes and Morbid Obesity: An Evidence-Based Summary
Community-Based Care for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Home Telemonitoring for Type 2 Diabetes: An Evidence-Based Analysis
Application of the Ontario Diabetes Economic Model (ODEM) to Determine the Cost-effectiveness and Budget Impact of Selected Type 2 Diabetes Interventions in Ontario
The objective of this report is to determine the efficacy of specialized multidisciplinary community care for the management of type 2 diabetes compared to usual care.
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Diabetes (i.e. diabetes mellitus) is a highly prevalent chronic metabolic disorder that interferes with the body’s ability to produce or effectively use insulin. The majority (90%) of diabetes patients have type 2 diabetes. (1) Based on the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), intensive blood glucose and blood pressure control significantly reduce the risk of microvascular and macrovascular complications in type 2 diabetics. While many studies have documented that patients often do not meet the glycemic control targets specified by national and international guidelines, factors associated with glycemic control are less well studied, one of which is the provider(s) of care.
Multidisciplinary approaches to care may be particularly important for diabetes management. According guidelines from the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), the diabetes health care team should be multi-and interdisciplinary. Presently in Ontario, the core diabetes health care team consists of at least a family physician and/or diabetes specialist, and diabetes educators (registered nurse and registered dietician).
Increasing the role played by allied health care professionals in diabetes care and their collaboration with physicians may represent a more cost-effective option for diabetes management. Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses have examined multidisciplinary care programs, but these have either been limited to a specific component of multidisciplinary care (e.g. intensified education programs), or were conducted as part of a broader disease management program, of which not all were multidisciplinary in nature. Most reviews also do not clearly define the intervention(s) of interest, making the evaluation of such multidisciplinary community programs challenging.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
What is the evidence of efficacy of specialized multidisciplinary community care provided by at least a registered nurse, registered dietician and physician (primary care and/or specialist) for the management of type 2 diabetes compared to usual care? [Henceforth referred to as Model 1]
What is the evidence of efficacy of specialized multidisciplinary community care provided by at least a pharmacist and a primary care physician for the management of type 2 diabetes compared to usual care? [Henceforth referred to as Model 2]
Inclusion Criteria
English language full-reports
Published between January 1, 2000 and September 28, 2008
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), systematic reviews and meta-analyses
Type 2 diabetic adult population (≥18 years of age)
Total sample size ≥30
Describe specialized multidisciplinary community care defined as ambulatory-based care provided by at least two health care disciplines (of which at least one must be a specialist in diabetes) with integrated communication between the care providers.
Compared to usual care (defined as health care provision by non-specialist(s) in diabetes, such as primary care providers; may include referral to other health care professionals/services as necessary)
≥6 months follow-up
Exclusion Criteria
Studies where discrete results on diabetes cannot be abstracted
Predominantly home-based interventions
Inpatient-based interventions
Outcomes of Interest
The primary outcomes for this review were glycosylated hemoglobin (rHbA1c) levels and systolic blood pressure (SBP).
Search Strategy
A literature search was performed on September 28, 2008 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published between January 1, 2000 and September 28, 2008. Abstracts were reviewed by a single reviewer and, for those studies meeting the eligibility criteria, full-text articles were obtained. Reference lists were also examined for any additional relevant studies not identified through the search. Articles with unknown eligibility were reviewed with a second clinical epidemiologist, then a group of epidemiologists until consensus was established. The quality of evidence was assessed as high, moderate, low or very low according to GRADE methodology.
Given the high clinical heterogeneity of the articles that met the inclusion criteria, specific models of specialized multidisciplinary community care were examined based on models of care that are currently being supported in Ontario, models of care that were commonly reported in the literature, as well as suggestions from an Expert Advisory Panel Meeting held on January 21, 2009.
Summary of Findings
The initial search yielded 2,116 unique citations, from which 22 RCTs trials and nine systematic reviews published were identified as meeting the eligibility criteria. Of these, five studies focused on care provided by at least a nurse, dietician, and physician (primary care and/or specialist) model of care (Model 1; see Table ES 1), while three studies focused on care provided by at least a pharmacist and primary care physician (Model 2; see Table ES 2).
Based on moderate quality evidence, specialized multidisciplinary community care Model 2 has demonstrated a statistically and clinically significant reduction in HbA1c of 1.0% compared with usual care. The effects of this model on SBP, however, are uncertain compared with usual care, based on very-low quality evidence. Specialized multidisciplinary community care Model 2 has demonstrated a statistically and clinically significant reduction in both HbA1c of 1.05% (based on high quality evidence) and SBP of 7.13 mm Hg (based on moderate quality evidence) compared to usual care. For both models, the evidence does not suggest a preferred setting of care delivery (i.e., primary care vs. hospital outpatient clinic vs. community clinic).
Summary of Results of Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Multidisciplinary Care Model 1
Mean change from baseline to follow-up between intervention and control groups
Summary of Results of Meta-Analyses of the Effects of Multidisciplinary Care Model 2
Mean change from baseline to follow-up between intervention and control groups
PMCID: PMC3377524  PMID: 23074528
14.  Guidelines for randomized clinical trial protocol content: a systematic review 
Systematic Reviews  2012;1:43.
All randomized clinical trials (RCTs) require a protocol; however, numerous studies have highlighted protocol deficiencies. Reporting guidelines may improve the content of research reports and, if developed using robust methods, may increase the utility of reports to stakeholders. The objective of this study was to systematically identify and review RCT protocol guidelines, to assess their characteristics and methods of development, and to compare recommendations.
We conducted a systematic review of indexed literature (MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Methodology Register from inception to September 2010; reference lists; related article features; forward citation searching) and a targeted search of supplementary sources, including a survey of major trial funding agencies in six countries. Records were eligible if they described a content guideline in English or French relevant to RCT protocols. Guidelines were excluded if they specified content for protocols for trials of specific procedures or conditions or were intended to assess trial quality. We extracted guideline characteristics and methods. Content was mapped for a subset of guidelines that described development methods or had institutional endorsement.
Forty guidelines published in journals, books and institutional reports were included in the review; seven were specific to RCT protocols. Only eight (20%) described development methods which included informal consensus methods, pilot testing and formal validation; no guideline described all of these methods. No guideline described formal consensus methods or a systematic retrieval of empirical evidence to inform its development. The guidelines included a median of 23 concepts per guideline (interquartile range (IQR) = 14 to 34; range = 7 to 109). Among the subset of guidelines (n = 23) for which content was mapped, approximately 380 concepts were explicitly addressed (median concepts per guideline IQR = 31 (24,80); range = 16 to 150); most concepts were addressed in a minority of guidelines.
Existing guidelines for RCT protocol content varied substantially in their recommendations. Few reports described the methods of guideline development, limiting comparisons of guideline validity. Given the importance of protocols to diverse stakeholders, we believe a systematically developed, evidence-informed guideline for clinical trial protocols is needed.
PMCID: PMC3533811  PMID: 23006870
Randomized controlled trials; Systematic review; Protocols; Clinical trials; Reporting guideline; SPIRIT initiative
15.  Epidemiology and Reporting Characteristics of Systematic Reviews 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e78.
Systematic reviews (SRs) have become increasingly popular to a wide range of stakeholders. We set out to capture a representative cross-sectional sample of published SRs and examine them in terms of a broad range of epidemiological, descriptive, and reporting characteristics, including emerging aspects not previously examined.
Methods and Findings
We searched Medline for SRs indexed during November 2004 and written in English. Citations were screened and those meeting our inclusion criteria were retained. Data were collected using a 51-item data collection form designed to assess the epidemiological and reporting details and the bias-related aspects of the reviews. The data were analyzed descriptively. In total 300 SRs were identified, suggesting a current annual publication rate of about 2,500, involving more than 33,700 separate studies including one-third of a million participants. The majority (272 [90.7%]) of SRs were reported in specialty journals. Most reviews (213 [71.0%]) were categorized as therapeutic, and included a median of 16 studies involving 1,112 participants. Funding sources were not reported in more than one-third (122 [40.7%]) of the reviews. Reviews typically searched a median of three electronic databases and two other sources, although only about two-thirds (208 [69.3%]) of them reported the years searched. Most (197/295 [66.8%]) reviews reported information about quality assessment, while few (68/294 [23.1%]) reported assessing for publication bias. A little over half (161/300 [53.7%]) of the SRs reported combining their results statistically, of which most (147/161 [91.3%]) assessed for consistency across studies. Few (53 [17.7%]) SRs reported being updates of previously completed reviews. No review had a registration number. Only half (150 [50.0%]) of the reviews used the term “systematic review” or “meta-analysis” in the title or abstract. There were large differences between Cochrane reviews and non-Cochrane reviews in the quality of reporting several characteristics.
SRs are now produced in large numbers, and our data suggest that the quality of their reporting is inconsistent. This situation might be improved if more widely agreed upon evidence-based reporting guidelines were endorsed and adhered to by authors and journals. These results substantiate the view that readers should not accept SRs uncritically.
Data were collected on the epidemiological, descriptive, and reporting characteristics of recent systematic reviews. A descriptive analysis found inconsistencies in the quality of reporting.
Editors' Summary
In health care it is important to assess all the evidence available about what causes a disease or the best way to prevent, diagnose, or treat it. Decisions should not be made simply on the basis of—for example—the latest or biggest research study, but after a full consideration of the findings from all the research of good quality that has so far been conducted on the issue in question. This approach is known as “evidence-based medicine” (EBM). A report that is based on a search for studies addressing a clearly defined question, a quality assessment of the studies found, and a synthesis of the research findings, is known as a systematic review (SR). Conducting an SR is itself regarded as a research project and the methods involved can be quite complex. In particular, as with other forms of research, it is important to do everything possible to reduce bias. The leading role in developing the SR concept and the methods that should be used has been played by an international network called the Cochrane Collaboration (see “Additional Information” below), which was launched in 1992. However, SRs are now becoming commonplace. Many articles published in journals and elsewhere are described as being systematic reviews.
Why Was This Study Done?
Since systematic reviews are claimed to be the best source of evidence, it is important that they should be well conducted and that bias should not have influenced the conclusions drawn in the review. Just because the authors of a paper that discusses evidence on a particular topic claim that they have done their review “systematically,” it does not guarantee that their methods have been sound and that their report is of good quality. However, if they have reported details of their methods, then it can help users of the review decide whether they are looking at a review with conclusions they can rely on. The authors of this PLoS Medicine article wanted to find out how many SRs are now being published, where they are being published, and what questions they are addressing. They also wanted to see how well the methods of SRs are being reported.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They picked one month and looked for all the SRs added to the main list of medical literature in that month. They found 300, on a range of topics and in a variety of medical journals. They estimate that about 20% of reviews appearing each year are published by the Cochrane Collaboration. They found many cases in which important aspects of the methods used were not reported. For example, about a third of the SRs did not report how (if at all) the quality of the studies found in the search had been assessed. An important assessment, which analyzes for “publication bias,” was reported as having been done in only about a quarter of the cases. Most of the reporting failures were in the “non-Cochrane” reviews.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The authors concluded that the standards of reporting of SRs vary widely and that readers should, therefore, not accept the conclusions of SRs uncritically. To improve this situation, they urge that guidelines be drawn up regarding how SRs are reported. The writers of SRs and also the journals that publish them should follow these guidelines.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
An editorial discussing this research article and its relevance to medical publishing appears in the same issue of PLoS Medicine
A good source of information on the evidence-based approach to medicine is the James Lind Library
The Web site of the Cochrane Collaboration is a good source of information on systematic reviews. In particular there is a newcomers' guide and information for health care “consumers”. From this Web site, it is also possible to see summaries of the SRs published by the Cochrane Collaboration (readers in some countries can also view the complete SRs free of charge)
Information on the practice of evidence-based medicine is available from the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
PMCID: PMC1831728  PMID: 17388659
16.  Chiropractic clinical practice guideline: evidence-based treatment of adult neck pain not due to whiplash 
To provide an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the chiropractic cervical treatment of adults with acute or chronic neck pain not due to whiplash. This is a considerable health concern considered to be a priority by stakeholders, and about which the scientific information was poorly organized.
Cervical treatments: manipulation, mobilization, ischemic pressure, clinic- and home-based exercise, traction, education, low-power laser, massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, pillows, pulsed electromagnetic therapy, and ultrasound.
The primary outcomes considered were improved (reduced and less intrusive) pain and improved (increased and easier) ranges of motion (ROM) of the adult cervical spine.
An “extraction” team recorded evidence from articles found by literature search teams using 4 separate literature searches, and rated it using a Table adapted from the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine. The searches were 1) Treatment; August, 2003, using MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED, MANTIS, ICL, The Cochrane Library (includes CENTRAL), and EBSCO, identified 182 articles. 2) Risk management (adverse events); October, 2004, identified 230 articles and 2 texts. 3) Risk management (dissection); September, 2003, identified 79 articles. 4) Treatment update; a repeat of the treatment search for articles published between September, 2003 and November, 2004 inclusive identified 121 articles.
To enable the search of the literature, the authors (Guidelines Development Committee [GDC]) regarded chiropractic treatment as including elements of “conservative” care in the search strategies, but not in the consideration of the range of chiropractic practice. Also, knowledge based only on clinical experience was considered less valid and reliable than good-caliber evidence, but where the caliber of the relevant evidence was low or it was non-existent, unpublished clinical experience was considered to be equivalent to, or better than the published evidence.
The expected benefits from the recommendations include more rapid recovery from pain, impairment and disability (improved pain and ROM). The GDC identified evidence-based pain benefits from 10 unimodal treatments and more than 7 multimodal treatments. There were no pain benefits from magnets in necklaces, education or relaxation alone, occipital release alone, or head retraction-extension exercise combinations alone. The specificity of the studied treatments meant few studies could be generalized to more than a minority of patients.
Adverse events were not addressed in most studies, but where they were, there were none or they were minor. The theoretic harm of vertebral artery dissection (VAD) was not reported, but an analysis suggested that 1 VAD may occur subsequent to 1 million cervical manipulations.
Costs were not analyzed in this guideline, but it is the understanding of the GDC that recommendations limiting ineffective care and promoting a more rapid return of patients to full functional capacity will reduce patient costs, as well as increase patient safety and satisfaction.
For simplicity, this version of the guideline includes primarily data synthesized across studies (evidence syntheses), whereas the technical and the interactive versions of this guideline ( also include relevant data from individual studies (evidence extractions).
The GDC developed treatment, risk-management and research recommendations using the available evidence. Treatment recommendations addressing 13 treatment modalities revolved around a decision algorithm comprising diagnosis (or assessment leading to diagnosis), treatment and reassessment. Several specific variations of modalities of treatment were not recommended.
For adverse events not associated with a treatment modality, but that occur in the clinical setting, there was evidence to recommend reconsideration of treatment options or referral to the appropriate health services. For adverse events associated with a treatment modality, but not a known or observable risk factor, there was evidence to recommend heightened vigilance when a relevant treatment is planned or administered. For adverse events associated with a treatment modality and predicted by an observable risk factor, there was evidence to recommend absolute contraindications, and requirements for treatment modality modification or caution to minimize harm and maximize benefit. For managing the theoretic risk of dissection, there was evidence to recommend a systematic risk-management approach. For managing the theoretic risk of stroke, there was support to recommend minimal rotation in administering any modality of upper-cervical spine treatment, and to recommend caution in treating a patient with hyperhomocysteinemia, although the evidence was especially ambiguous in both of these areas.
Research recommendations addressed the poor caliber of many of the studies; the GDC concluded that the scientific base for chiropractic cervical treatment of neck pain was not of sufficient quality or scope to “cover” current chiropractic practice comprehensively, although this should not suggest other disciplines are more evidence-based.
This guideline was authored by the 10 members of the GDC (Elizabeth Anderson-Peacock, Jean-Sébastien Blouin, Roland Bryans, Normand Danis, Andrea Furlan, Henri Marcoux, Brock Potter, Rick Ruegg, Janice Gross Stein, Eleanor White) based on the work of 3 literature search teams and an evidence extraction team, and in light of feedback from a commentator (Donald R Murphy), a 5-person review panel (Robert R Burton, Andrea Furlan, Richard Roy, Steven Silk, Roy Till), a 6-person Task Force (Grayden Bridge, H James Duncan, Wanda Lee MacPhee, Bruce Squires, Greg Stewart, Dean Wright), and 2 national profession-wide critiques of complete drafts. Two professional editors with extensive guidelines experience were contracted (Thor Eglington, Bruce P Squires). Key contributors to the guideline included individuals with specialties or expert knowledge in chiropractic, medicine, research processes, literature analysis processes, clinical practice guideline processes, protective association affairs, regulatory affairs, and the public interest. This guideline has been formally peer reviewed.
PMCID: PMC1839918  PMID: 17549134
chiropractic; guideline; evidence-based; neck pain
17.  Adherence of hip and knee arthroplasty studies to RSA standardization guidelines 
Acta Orthopaedica  2014;85(5):447-455.
Background and purpose
Guidelines for standardization of radiostereometry (RSA) of implants were published in 2005 to facilitate comparison of outcomes between various research groups. In this systematic review, we determined how well studies have adhered to these guidelines.
We carried out a literature search to identify all articles published between January 2000 and December 2011 that used RSA in the evaluation of hip or knee prosthesis migration. 2 investigators independently evaluated each of the studies for adherence to the 13 individual guideline items. Since some of the 13 points included more than 1 criterion, studies were assessed on whether each point was fully met, partially met, or not met.
153 studies that met our inclusion criteria were identified. 61 of these were published before the guidelines were introduced (2000–2005) and 92 after the guidelines were introduced (2006–2011). The methodological quality of RSA studies clearly improved from 2000 to 2011. None of the studies fully met all 13 guidelines. Nearly half (43) of the studies published after the guidelines demonstrated a high methodological quality and adhered at least partially to 10 of the 13 guidelines, whereas less than one-fifth (11) of the studies published before the guidelines had the same methodological quality. Commonly unaddressed guideline items were related to imaging methodology, determination of precision from double examinations, and also mean error of rigid-body fitting and condition number cutoff levels.
The guidelines have improved methodological reporting in RSA studies, but adherence to these guidelines is still relatively low. There is a need to update and clarify the guidelines for clinical hip and knee arthroplasty RSA studies.
PMCID: PMC4164860  PMID: 24954489
18.  Effective interventions to facilitate the uptake of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening: an implementation guideline 
Appropriate screening may reduce the mortality and morbidity of colorectal, breast, and cervical cancers. Several high-quality systematic reviews and practice guidelines exist to inform the most effective screening options. However, effective implementation strategies are warranted if the full benefits of screening are to be realized. We developed an implementation guideline to answer the question: What interventions have been shown to increase the uptake of cancer screening by individuals, specifically for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers?
A guideline panel was established as part of Cancer Care Ontario's Program in Evidence-based Care, and a systematic review of the published literature was conducted. It yielded three foundational systematic reviews and an existing guidance document. We conducted updates of these reviews and searched the literature published between 2004 and 2010. A draft guideline was written that went through two rounds of review. Revisions were made resulting in a final set of guideline recommendations.
Sixty-six new studies reflecting 74 comparisons met eligibility criteria. They were generally of poor to moderate quality. Using these and the foundational documents, the panel developed a draft guideline. The draft report was well received in the two rounds of review with mean quality scores above four (on a five-point scale) for each of the items. For most of the interventions considered, there was insufficient evidence to support or refute their effectiveness. However, client reminders, reduction of structural barriers, and provision of provider assessment and feedback were recommended interventions to increase screening for at least two of three cancer sites studied. The final guidelines also provide advice on how the recommendations can be used and future areas for research.
Using established guideline development methodologies and the AGREE II as our methodological frameworks, we developed an implementation guideline to advise on interventions to increase the rate of breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening. While advancements have been made in these areas of implementation science, more investigations are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3222606  PMID: 21958602
19.  Towards a standardised approach for evaluating guidelines and guidance documents on palliative sedation: study protocol 
BMC Palliative Care  2014;13:34.
Sedation in palliative care has received growing attention in recent years; and so have guidelines, position statements, and related literature that provide recommendations for its practice. Yet little is known collectively about the content, scope and methodological quality of these materials.
According to research, there are large variations in palliative sedation practice, depending on the definition and methodology used. However, a standardised approach to comparing and contrasting related documents, across countries, associations and governmental bodies is lacking. This paper reports on a protocol designed to enable thorough and systematic comparison of guidelines and guidance documents on palliative sedation.
Methods and design
A multidisciplinary and international group of palliative care researchers, identified themes and clinical issues on palliative sedation based on expert consultations and evidence drawn from the EAPC (European Association of Palliative Care) framework for palliative sedation and AGREE II (Appraisal Guideline Research and Evaluation) instrument for guideline assessment. The most relevant themes were selected and built into a comprehensive checklist. This was tested on people working closely with practitioners and patients, for user-friendliness and comprehensibility, and modified where necessary. Next, a systematic search was conducted for guidelines in English, Dutch, Flemish, or Italian. The search was performed in multiple databases (PubMed, CancerLit, CNAHL, Cochrane Library, NHS Evidence and Google Scholar), and via other Internet resources. Hereafter, the final version of the checklist will be used to extract data from selected literature, and the same will be compiled, entered into SPSS, cleaned and analysed systematically for publication.
We have together developed a comprehensive checklist in a scientifically rigorous manner to allow standardised and systematic comparison. The protocol is applicable to all guidelines on palliative sedation, and the approach will contribute to rigorous and systematic comparison of international guidelines on any challenging topic such as this. Results from the study will provide valuable insights into common core elements and differences between the selected guidelines, and the extent to which recommendations are derived from, or match those in the EAPC framework. The outcomes of the study will be disseminated via peer-reviewed journals and directly to appropriate audiences.
PMCID: PMC4099031  PMID: 25028571
Palliative sedation; Practice guidelines; Content analysis; Comparative research; Study protocol
20.  Canadian Thoracic Society 2012 guideline update: Diagnosis and management of asthma in preschoolers, children and adults 
In 2010, the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) published a Consensus Summary for the diagnosis and management of asthma in children six years of age and older, and adults, including an updated Asthma Management Continuum. The CTS Asthma Clinical Assembly subsequently began a formal clinical practice guideline update process, focusing, in this first iteration, on topics of controversy and/or gaps in the previous guidelines.
Four clinical questions were identified as a focus for the updated guideline: the role of noninvasive measurements of airway inflammation for the adjustment of anti-inflammatory therapy; the initiation of adjunct therapy to inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) for uncontrolled asthma; the role of a single inhaler of an ICS/long-acting beta2-agonist combination as a reliever, and as a reliever and a controller; and the escalation of controller medication for acute loss of asthma control as part of a self-management action plan. The expert panel followed an adaptation process to identify and appraise existing guidelines on the specified topics. In addition, literature searches were performed to identify relevant systematic reviews and randomized controlled trials. The panel formally assessed and graded the evidence, and made 34 recommendations.
The updated guideline recommendations outline a role for inclusion of assessment of sputum eosinophils, in addition to standard measures of asthma control, to guide adjustment of controller therapy in adults with moderate to severe asthma. Appraisal of the evidence regarding which adjunct controller therapy to add to ICS and at what ICS dose to begin adjunct therapy in children and adults with poor asthma control supported the 2010 CTS Consensus Summary recommendations. New recommendations for the adjustment of controller medication within written action plans are provided. Finally, priority areas for future research were identified.
The present clinical practice guideline is the first update of the CTS Asthma Guidelines following the Canadian Respiratory Guidelines Committee’s new guideline development process. Tools and strategies to support guideline implementation will be developed and the CTS will continue to regularly provide updates reflecting new evidence.
PMCID: PMC3373283  PMID: 22536582
Asthma; Clinical practice guideline; Management
21.  Systematic assessment of the quality of osteoporosis guidelines 
Numerous agencies have developed clinical practice guidelines for the management of postmenopausal osteoporosis. The study objective was to conduct a systematic assessment of the quality of osteoporosis guidelines produced since 1998.
Guidelines were identified by searching MEDLINE (1998+), the world wide web, known guideline developer websites, bibliographies of retrieved guidelines, and through consultation with content experts. Each guideline was then assessed by three independent appraisers using the 'Appraisal Instrument for Clinical Guidelines' (version 1) by Cluzeau.
We identified 26 unique guidelines from 1998–2001 and 21 met our inclusion criteria. Of the 21 guidelines reviewed, 8 were developed by medical societies, 6 by national groups, 6 by government agencies, and 1 by an international group. Twelve of the guidelines were published, 7 were organizational reports, and 2 were accessible only from the web. Half or more of the 20 items assessing the rigor of guideline development were met by 15% (median quality score 23%, range 5–80%, (95% CI 16.5, 34.7)), 81% met at least half of the 12 items assessing guideline content and context (median score 58%, range 17–83%, (95% CI 50.8, 65.5)), and none met half or more of the items assessing guideline application (median score 0%, range 0–47%, (95% CI -0.5 to 12.6)). Eight guidelines described the method used to assess the strength of evidence, and in 6 there was an explicit link between recommendations and the supporting evidence. Ten guidelines were judged not suitable for use in practice, 10 were acceptable with modification, and one was acceptable for use without modification.
The methodological quality of current osteoporosis guidelines is low, although their scores for clinical content were higher. Virtually no guidelines covered dissemination issues. Few guidelines were judged as acceptable for use in their current format.
PMCID: PMC126217  PMID: 12174195
22.  Treatment of depression in cancer patients 
Current Oncology  2007;14(5):180-188.
What is the efficacy of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments for major depression and other depressive disorders in cancer populations?
Depression occurs at an increased rate in medically ill populations, including patients with cancer. In the general population, depression has been shown to be responsive to structured forms of psychotherapy and to pharmacologic interventions. The Supportive Care Guidelines Group conducted a systematic review of the evidence for the effectiveness of those therapies in patients with depression and cancer and developed the present clinical practice guideline based on that review and on expert consensus.
Outcomes of interest included symptomatic response to treatment, discontinuation rate of treatment, adverse effects, and quality of life.
Clinical recommendations were developed by the Supportive Care Guidelines Group based on a systematic review of the published literature through June 2005, feedback obtained from Ontario health care providers on the draft recommendations, the Report Approval Panel (rap) of Cancer Care Ontario’s Program in Evidence-Based Care, and expert consensus.
The systematic review of the literature included eleven trials (seven of pharmacologic agents and four of non-pharmacologic interventions). Feedback received from 44 responding health care providers and the rap on the draft recommendations was addressed and documented in the guideline.
Among providers, 82% agreed with the draft recommendations as stated, 68% agreed that the report should be approved as a practice guideline, and 73% indicated that they would be likely to use the guideline in their own practice.
Practice Guideline
These recommendations apply to adult cancer patients with a diagnosis of major depression or other non-bipolar depressive disorders. They do not address the treatment of non-syndromal depressive symptoms, for which specific antidepressant treatment is not usually indicated. The guideline is intended both for oncology health professionals and for mental health professionals engaged in the treatment of cancer patients. Expert consensus was central to the development of the guideline recommendations because of limited evidence in cancer patients.
Treatment of pain and other reversible physical symptoms should be instituted before or with initiation of specific antidepressant treatment.
Antidepressant medications should be considered for the treatment of moderate-to-severe major depression in cancer patients. Current evidence does not support the relative superiority of one pharmacologic treatment over another, nor the superiority of pharmacologic treatment over psychosocial interventions. The choice of an antidepressant should be informed by individual medication and patient factors: the side effect profiles of the medication, tolerability of treatment (including the potential for interaction with other current medications), response to prior treatment, and patient preference.
Cancer patients diagnosed with major depression may benefit from a combined modality approach that includes both psychosocial and pharmacologic interventions. Psychosocial treatment approaches that may be of value include those that provide information and support and those that address any combination of emotional, cognitive, and behavioural factors.
Qualifying Statements
Referral to a mental health specialist is appropriate when the diagnosis of depression is unclear, when the syndrome is severe, when patients do not respond to treatment, or when other complicating factors that may affect the choice of treatment are present.
Although care has been taken in the preparation of the information contained in this guideline, any person seeking to apply or to consult the guideline is expected to use independent medical judgment in the context of individual clinical circumstances or to seek out the supervision of a qualified clinician.
PMCID: PMC2002483  PMID: 17938701
Practice guideline; depression; treatment; cancer
23.  Epidermal growth factor receptor targeted therapy in stages III and IV head and neck cancer 
Current Oncology  2010;17(3):37-48.
What are the benefits associated with the use of anti–epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-egfr) therapies in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (hnscc)? Anti-egfr therapies of interest included cetuximab, gefitinib, lapatinib, zalutumumab, erlotinib, and panitumumab.
Head-and-neck cancer includes malignant tumours arising from a variety of sites in the upper aerodigestive tract. The most common histologic type is squamous cell carcinoma, and most common sites are the oral cavity, the oropharynx, the hypopharynx, and the larynx. Worldwide, hnscc is the sixth most common neoplasm, and despite advances in therapy, long-term survival in hnscc patients is poor. Primary surgery followed by chemoradiation, or primary chemoradiation, are the standard treatment options for patients with locally advanced (stages iii–ivb) hnscc; however, meta-analytic data indicate that the benefit of concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy disappears in patients over the age of 70 years.
Cetuximab is a monoclonal antibody approved for use in combination with radiation in the treatment of patients with untreated locally advanced hnscc and as monotherapy for patients with recurrent or metastatic (stage ivc) hnscc who have progressed on platinum-based therapy.
Given the interest in anti-egfr agents in advanced hnscc, the Head and Neck Cancer Disease Site Group (dsg) of Cancer Care Ontario’s Program in Evidence-Based Care (pebc) chose to systematically review the literature pertaining to this topic so as to develop evidence-based recommendations for treatment.
Outcomes of interest included overall and progression-free survival, quality of life, tumour response rate and duration, and the toxicity associated with the use of anti-egfr therapies.
The medline, embase, and Cochrane Library databases, the American Society of Clinical Oncology online conference proceedings, the Canadian Medical Association InfoBase, and the National Guidelines Clearinghouse were systematically searched to locate primary articles and practice guidelines. The reference lists from relevant review articles were searched for additional trials. All evidence was reviewed, and that evidence informed the development of the clinical practice guideline. The resulting recommendations were approved by the Report Approval Panel of the pebc, and by the Head and Neck Cancer dsg. An external review by Ontario practitioners completed the final phase of the review process. Feedback from all parties was incorporated to create the final practice guideline.
The electronic search identified seventy-four references that were reviewed for inclusion. Only four phase iii trials met the inclusion criteria for the present guideline. No practice guidelines, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses were found during the course of the literature search.
The randomized controlled trials (rcts) involved three distinct patient populations: those with locally advanced hnscc being treated for cure, those with incurable advanced recurrent or metastatic hnscc being treated with first-line platinum-based chemotherapy, and those with incurable advanced recurrent or metastatic hnscc who had disease progression despite, or who were unsuitable for, first-line platinum-based chemotherapy.
Practice Guideline
These recommendations apply to adult patients with locally advanced (nonmetastatic stages iii–ivb) or recurrent or metastatic (stage ivc) hnscc.
Platinum-based chemoradiation remains the current standard of care for treatment of locally advanced hnscc.
In patients with locally advanced hnscc who are medically unsuitable for concurrent platinumbased chemotherapy or who are over the age of 70 years (because concurrent chemotherapy does not appear to improve overall survival in this patient population), the addition of cetuximab to radical radiotherapy should be considered to improve overall survival, progression-free survival, and time to local recurrence.
Cetuximab in combination with platinum-based combination chemotherapy is superior to chemotherapy alone in patients with recurrent or metastatic hnscc, and is recommended to improve overall survival, progression-free survival, and response rate.
The role of anti-egfr therapies in the treatment of locally advanced hnscc is currently under study in large randomized trials, and patients with hnscc should continue to be offered clinical trials of novel agents aimed at improving outcomes.
Qualifying Statements
Chemoradiation is the current standard of care for patients with locally advanced hnscc, and to date, there is no evidence that compares cetuximab plus radiotherapy with chemoradiation, or that examines whether the addition of cetuximab to chemoradiation is of benefit in these patients. However, five ongoing trials are investigating the effect of the addition of egfr inhibitors concurrently with, before, or after chemoradiotherapy; those trials should provide direction about the best integration of cetuximab into standard treatment.
In patients with recurrent or metastatic hnscc who experience progressive disease despite, or who are unsuitable for, first-line platinum-based chemotherapy, gefitinib at doses of 250 mg or 500 mg daily, compared with weekly methotrexate, did not increase median overall survival [hazard ratio (hr): 1.22; 96% confidence interval (ci): 0.95 to 1.57; p = 0.12 (for 250 mg daily vs. weekly methotrexate); hr: 1.12; 95% ci: 0.87 to 1.43; p = 0.39 (for 500 mg daily vs. weekly methotrexate)] or objective response rate (2.7% for 250 mg and 7.6% for 500 mg daily vs. 3.9% for weekly methotrexate, p > 0.05). As compared with methotrexate, gefitinib was associated with an increased incidence of tumour hemorrhage (8.9% for 250 mg and 11.4% for 500 mg daily vs. 1.9% for weekly methotrexate).
PMCID: PMC2880902  PMID: 20567625
Head-and-neck cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; egfr inhibitors; overall survival; progression-free survival; tumour response rate
24.  Routine primary care management of acute low back pain: adherence to clinical guidelines 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(6):589-594.
One of the major challenges for general practitioners is to manage individuals with acute low back pain appropriately to reduce the risk of chronicity. A prospective study was designed to assess the actual management of acute low back pain in one primary care setting and to determine whether existing practice patterns conform to published guidelines. Twenty-four family physicians from public primary care centers of the Basque Health Service in Bizkaia, Basque Country (Spain), participated in the study. A total of 105 patients aged 18–65 years presenting with acute low back pain over a 6-month period were included. Immediately after consultation, a research assistant performed a structured clinical interview. The patients’ care provided by the general practitioner was compared with the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) guidelines and guidelines issued by the Royal College of General Practitioners. The diagnostic process showed a low rate of appropriate use of history (27%), physical examination (32%), lumbar radiographs (31%), and referral to specialized care (33%). Although the therapeutic process showed a relatively high rate of appropriateness in earlier mobilization (77%) and educational advice (65%), only 23% of patients were taught about the benign course of back pain. The study revealed that management of acute low back pain in the primary care setting is far from being in conformance with published clinical guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3467992  PMID: 14605973
Low back pain; Primary health care; Physicians, family; Practice guidelines
25.  Clinical Practice Guidelines and Consensus Statements in Oncology – An Assessment of Their Methodological Quality 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110469.
Consensus statements and clinical practice guidelines are widely available for enhancing the care of cancer patients. Despite subtle differences in their definition and purpose, these terms are often used interchangeably. We systematically assessed the methodological quality of consensus statements and clinical practice guidelines published in three commonly read, geographically diverse, cancer-specific journals. Methods Consensus statements and clinical practice guidelines published between January 2005 and September 2013 in Current Oncology, European Journal of Cancer and Journal of Clinical Oncology were evaluated. Each publication was assessed using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) rigour of development and editorial independence domains. For assessment of transparency of document development, 7 additional items were taken from the Institute of Medicine’s standards for practice guidelines and the Journal of Clinical Oncology guidelines for authors of guidance documents.
Consensus statements and clinical practice guidelines published between January 2005 and September 2013 in Current Oncology, European Journal of Cancer and Journal of Clinical Oncology were evaluated. Each publication was assessed using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) rigour of development and editorial independence domains. For assessment of transparency of document development, 7 additional items were taken from the Institute of Medicine's standards for practice guidelines and the Journal of Clinical Oncology guidelines for authors of guidance documents.
Thirty-four consensus statements and 67 clinical practice guidelines were evaluated. The rigour of development score for consensus statements over the three journals was 32% lower than that of clinical practice guidelines. The editorial independence score was 15% lower for consensus statements than clinical practice guidelines. One journal scored consistently lower than the others over both domains. No journals adhered to all the items related to the transparency of document development. One journal’s consensus statements endorsed a product made by the sponsoring pharmaceutical company in 64% of cases.
Guidance documents are an essential part of oncology care and should be subjected to a rigorous and validated development process. Consensus statements had lower methodological quality than clinical practice guidelines using AGREE II. At a minimum, journals should ensure that that all consensus statements and clinical practice guidelines adhere to AGREE II criteria. Journals should consider explicitly requiring guidelines to declare pharmaceutical company sponsorship and to identify the sponsor’s product to enhance transparency.
PMCID: PMC4201546  PMID: 25329669

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