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1.  The GuideLine Implementability Appraisal (GLIA): development of an instrument to identify obstacles to guideline implementation 
Clinical practice guidelines are not uniformly successful in influencing clinicians' behaviour toward best practices. Implementability refers to a set of characteristics that predict ease of (and obstacles to) guideline implementation. Our objective is to develop and validate a tool for appraisal of implementability of clinical guidelines.
Indicators of implementability were identified from the literature and used to create items and dimensions of the GuideLine Implementability Appraisal (GLIA). GLIA consists of 31 items, arranged into 10 dimensions. Questions from 9 of the 10 dimensions are applied individually to each recommendation of the guideline. Decidability and Executability are critical dimensions. Other dimensions are Global, Presentation and Formatting, Measurable Outcomes, Apparent Validity, Flexibility, Effect on Process of Care, Novelty/Innovation, and Computability. We conducted a series of validation activities, including validation of the construct of implementability, expert review of content for clarity, relevance, and comprehensiveness, and assessment of construct validity of the instrument. Finally, GLIA was applied to a draft guideline under development by national professional societies.
Evidence of content validity and preliminary support for construct validity were obtained. The GLIA proved to be useful in identifying barriers to implementation in the draft guideline and the guideline was revised accordingly.
GLIA may be useful to guideline developers who can apply the results to remedy defects in their guidelines. Likewise, guideline implementers may use GLIA to select implementable recommendations and to devise implementation strategies that address identified barriers. By aiding the design and operationalization of highly implementable guidelines, our goal is that application of GLIA may help to improve health outcomes, but further evaluation will be required to support this potential benefit.
PMCID: PMC1190181  PMID: 16048653
2.  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
3.  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
4.  Canadian Thoracic Society: Presenting a new process for clinical practice guideline production 
A key mandate of the Canadian Thoracic Society (CTS) is to promote evidence-based respiratory care through clinical practice guidelines (CPGs). To improve the quality and validity of the production, dissemination and implementation of its CPGs, the CTS has revised its guideline process and has created the Canadian Respiratory Guidelines Committee to oversee this process. The present document outlines the basic methodological tools and principles of the new CTS guideline production process. Important features include standard methods for choosing and formulating optimal questions and for finding, appraising, and summarizing the evidence; use of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system for rating the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations; use of the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation instrument for quality control during and after guideline development and for appraisal of other guidelines; use of the ADAPTE process for adaptation of existing guidelines to the local context; and use of the GuideLine Implementability Appraisal tool to augment implementability of guidelines. The CTS has also committed to develop guidelines in new areas, an annual guideline review cycle, and a new formal process for dissemination and implementation. Ultimately, it is anticipated that these changes will have a significant impact on the quality of care and clinical outcomes of individuals suffering from respiratory diseases across Canada.
PMCID: PMC2807796  PMID: 20011719
Clinical practice guideline; Evidence-based medicine; Guideline adherence; Practice guidelines
5.  Role of morphologic characteristics of the uterine septum in the prediction and prevention of abnormal healing outcomes after hysteroscopic metroplasty 
Human Reproduction (Oxford, England)  2014;29(7):1420-1431.
Can morphologic measurements (width, length and surface area) of the uterine septum predict healing-dependent abnormal anatomic results [ARs; residual septum (RS) and intrauterine adhesions in other locations (IUA-OLs)] after complete hysteroscopic metroplasty (HM)?
Significant predictors of ARs are the septal width and, to a lesser extent, septal surface area.
Anatomic results after hysteroscopic metroplasty have very large variation. A RS >1 cm and IUA-OLs can aggravate reproductive outcomes, resulting in the need for reoperation. New criteria for diagnosing a uterine septum according to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy (ESGE) have been suggested (ESHRE-ESGE criteria). Autocross-linked hyaluronic acid gel (autocross-linked polysaccharide) has an antiadhesive effect.
A prospective, observational cohort study was performed with 96 women consecutively enrolled between 2007 and 2012.
Women who had uterine septum and previous miscarriage or infertility presented for evaluation at a university hospital, private hospital or private medical center were included. Preoperative septal width, length and surface area were determined with three-dimensional sonohysterography. Women were treated by hysteroscopy in a standardized manner with three- or four-dimensional transrectal ultrasound guidance (complete resection). Patients received either no adhesion barrier (49 patients) or adhesion barrier with autocross-linked polysaccharide (47 patients). Anatomic results were assessed with three-dimensional sonohysterography and second-look hysteroscopy. Healing-dependent ARs were reported using both American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) criterion of RS length >1 cm (ASRM>1 cm criterion) and ESHRE-ESGE criteria. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to identify predictors of RS, IUA-OLs and ARs.
In patients who had no adhesion barrier, ARs were diagnosed in 11 of 49 patients (23%) using the ASRM > 1 cm criterion and in 20 of 49 patients (41%) using the ESHRE-ESGE criteria for RS [odds ratio (OR)ESHRE-ESGE:ASRM, 2.4, P = 0.05]. In the patients who had autocross-linked polysaccharide, ARsASRM > 1 cm were diagnosed in 2 of 47 patients (4%) and ARsESHRE-ESGE in 4 of 47 patients (9%). RSESHRE-ESGE was diagnosed significantly more often than RSASRM > 1 cm 19 of 96 (20%) versus 5 of 96 (5%) in all patients (ORESHRE-ESGE:ASRM > 1 cm = 4.5, P < 0.01). In patients who had no adhesion barrier, logistic regression with ASRM > 1 cm and ESHRE-ESGE criteria showed that the width and surface area were predictors of ARs. Models adjusted by patient group confirmed the significance of width as a predictor of ARsASRM > 1 cm [OR for width, 3.5 (P < 0.01); OR for group, 0.22 (P < 0.01)], width as a predictor of ARsESHRE-ESGE [OR for width, 2.2 (P < 0.01); OR for group, 0.26 (P < 0.01)] and surface area as a predictor of ARsASRM > 1 cm [OR for surface area, 1.5 (P < 0.01)]; OR for group, 0.32 (P < 0.01). In patients who had autocross-linked polysaccharide, these predictors were not significant. Receiver-operating characteristic curves showed cutoff values for ARsASRM > 1 cm (septal width, 3.42 cm; septal surface area, 4.68cm2) and ARsESHRE-ESGE (septal width, 3.42 cm; septal surface area, 3.51cm2).
Patients were enrolled in the adhesion barrier group in a time-dependent, consecutive and non-randomized manner.
A wide septum and large surface area may be indications for adhesion barrier. The use of autocross-linked polysaccharide reduces the risk of ARs. The ESHRE-ESGE criteria may cause greater frequency of recognition of RS than the ASRM > 1 cm criterion, which could result in more frequent reoperations with use of the ESHRE-ESGE criteria, possibly without any significant effect on reproductive performance.
This work was supported by Jagiellonian University (grant no. K/ZDS/003821). The authors have no competing interest to declare.
PMCID: PMC4059338  PMID: 24838703
septate uterus; intrauterine adhesions; classification system; autocross-linked hyaluronic acid gel; three-dimensional sonohysterography
6.  The quantity and quality of clinical practice guidelines for the management of depression in primary care in the UK. 
BACKGROUND: Despite research evidence that guidelines can improve patient care, concerns remain over their cost-effectiveness. This is particularly so when there is a proliferation of guidelines for the same condition. Faced with differing recommendations, users will wish to make informed decisions on which guideline to follow. In creating a guideline appraisal instrument we have assessed guidelines developed in the United Kingdom (UK) for the management of a range of disorders including depression in primary care. AIM: To identify the number of UK clinical guidelines for the management of depression in primary care and to describe their quality and clinical content. METHOD: A survey was undertaken to identify all depression guidelines developed in the UK between January 1991 and January 1996. All guidelines produced by national organizations and a random sample of local guidelines were appraised using a validated instrument by six assessors: a national expert in the disease area, a general practitioner, a public health physician, a hospital consultant, a nurse specializing in the disease area, and a researcher on guideline methodology. The clinical content of each guideline was then assessed by one of the researchers (RB) according to a defined framework. RESULTS: Forty-five depression guidelines were identified. While there was a considerable range in the quality of the six national and three local guidelines appraised, at a group level their performance was similar to guidelines for other diseases. Clinical recommendations tended to reflect the joint consensus statement produced by the Royal College of General Practitioners and Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1992. The most obvious difference was in the style in which the guidelines were written and presented. CONCLUSION: A 'national template' was the starting place for most guidelines. Steps need to be taken to ensure that these templates are based on the best possible research evidence and professional opinion. Local clinicians should concentrate on effective dissemination and implementation strategies, rather than creating new guidelines.
PMCID: PMC1313373  PMID: 10343424
7.  Improving the implementation of tailored expectant management in subfertile couples: protocol for a cluster randomized trial 
Prognostic models in reproductive medicine can help to identify subfertile couples who would benefit from fertility treatment. Expectant management in couples with a good chance of natural conception, i.e., tailored expectant management (TEM), prevents unnecessary treatment and is therefore recommended in international fertility guidelines. However, current implementation is not optimal, leaving room for improvement. Based on barriers and facilitators for TEM that were recently identified among professionals and subfertile couples, we have developed a multifaceted implementation strategy. The goal of this study is to assess the effects of this implementation strategy on the guideline adherence on TEM.
In a cluster randomized trial, 25 clinics and their allied practitioners units will be randomized between the multifaceted implementation strategy and care as usual. Randomization will be stratified for in vitro fertilization (IVF) facilities (full licensed, intermediate/no IVF facilities). The effect of the implementation strategy, i.e., the percentage guideline adherence on TEM, will be evaluated by pre- and post-randomization data collection. Furthermore, there will be a process and cost evaluation of the strategy. The implementation strategy will focus on subfertile couples and their care providers i.e., general practitioners (GPs), fertility doctors, and gynecologists. The implementation strategy addresses three levels: patient level: education materials in the form of a patient information leaflet and a website; professional level: audit and feedback, educational outreach visit, communication training, and access to a digital version of the prognostic model of Hunault on a website; organizational level: providing a protocol based on the guideline. The primary outcome will be the percentage guideline adherence on TEM. Additional outcome measures will be treatment-, patient-, and process-related outcome measures.
This study will provide evidence about the effectiveness and costs of a multifaceted implementation strategy to improve guideline adherence on TEM.
Trial registration
http://www.trialregister.nlNTR3405. This study is sponsored by ZonMW.
PMCID: PMC3680105  PMID: 23688282
8.  What is the quality of drug therapy clinical practice guidelines in Canada? 
The Canadian Medical Association maintains a national online database of clinical practice guidelines developed, endorsed or reviewed by Canadian organizations within 5 years of the current date. This study was designed to identify and describe guidelines in the database that make recommendations related to the use of drug therapy, and to assess their quality using a standardized guideline appraisal instrument.
Drug therapy guidelines in the database were identified with the use of search terms and hand searching. Descriptive information about the developers, endorsement by other organizations, publication status, disease and drug focus was abstracted. Each guideline was independently assessed by 3 appraisers (a physician, a pharmacist and a methodologist) with the use of the Appraisal Instrument for Clinical Guidelines. Conditions were classified according to the tenth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
We identified 217 drug therapy guidelines produced or reviewed from 1994 to 1998. Guideline developers included national organizations (47.0%), paragovernment organizations (39.6%) and professional associations (30.9%); 31.3% of the guidelines were published, and 10.6% stated drug company sponsorship. The most common conditions addressed by the guidelines were infections and parasitic diseases (39.6%), neoplasms (11.5%) and diseases of the circulatory system (11.5%). Drugs most commonly cited were anti-infective agents (42.9%), antiviral agents (15.2%) and cardiovascular drugs (16.1%). Eleven organizations produced 176 (81.1%) of the guidelines. In all, 14.7% of the guidelines met half or more of the 20 items assessing rigour of guideline development on the appraisal instrument (mean quality score 30.0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 27.5%–32.6%]), 61.8% met half or more of the 12 items assessing guideline context and content (mean score 57.0% [95% CI 54.6%–59.3%]), and none met half or more of the 5 items assessing guideline application (mean score 5.6% [95% CI 4.7%–6.5%]). Overall, 64.6% of the guidelines were recommended with modification by at least 2 of the 3 appraisers, 9.2% were recommended without change, and 26.3% were not recommended. The quality of the guidelines assessed varied significantly by developer, publication status and drug company sponsorship. No substantial improvement in guideline quality was observed over the 5-year study period.
Developers of Canadian drug therapy guidelines are producing guidelines that are often perceived to be clinically useful to physicians and pharmacists, although the methods (or the description of the methods) by which they are developed need to be more rigorous and thorough.
PMCID: PMC81282  PMID: 11501454
9.  A mixed methods pilot study with a cluster randomized control trial to evaluate the impact of a leadership intervention on guideline implementation in home care nursing 
Foot ulcers are a significant problem for people with diabetes. Comprehensive assessments of risk factors associated with diabetic foot ulcer are recommended in clinical guidelines to decrease complications such as prolonged healing, gangrene and amputations, and to promote effective management. However, the translation of clinical guidelines into nursing practice remains fragmented and inconsistent, and a recent homecare chart audit showed less than half the recommended risk factors for diabetic foot ulcers were assessed, and peripheral neuropathy (the most significant predictor of complications) was not assessed at all.
Strong leadership is consistently described as significant to successfully transfer guidelines into practice. Limited research exists however regarding which leadership behaviours facilitate and support implementation in nursing.
The purpose of this pilot study is to evaluate the impact of a leadership intervention in community nursing on implementing recommendations from a clinical guideline on the nursing assessment and management of diabetic foot ulcers.
Two phase mixed methods design is proposed (ISRCTN 12345678). Phase I: Descriptive qualitative to understand barriers to implementing the guideline recommendations, and to inform the intervention. Phase II: Matched pair cluster randomized controlled trial (n = 4 centers) will evaluate differences in outcomes between two implementation strategies. Primary outcome: Nursing assessments of client risk factors, a composite score of 8 items based on Diabetes/Foot Ulcer guideline recommendations.
Intervention: In addition to the organization's 'usual' implementation strategy, a 12 week leadership strategy will be offered to managerial and clinical leaders consisting of: a) printed materials, b) one day interactive workshop to develop a leadership action plan tailored to barriers to support implementation; c) three post-workshop teleconferences.
This study will provide vital information on which leadership strategies are well received to facilitate and support guideline implementation. The anticipated outcomes will provide information to assist with effective management of foot ulcers for people with diabetes.
By tracking clinical outcomes associated with guideline implementation, health care administrators will be better informed to influence organizational and policy decision-making to support evidence-based quality care. Findings will be useful to inform the design of future multi-centered trials on various clinical topics to enhance knowledge translation for positive outcomes.
Trial Registration
Current Control Trials ISRCTN06910890
PMCID: PMC2631597  PMID: 19077199
10.  The ESHRE/ESGE consensus on the classification of female genital tract congenital anomalies†,‡ 
Human Reproduction (Oxford, England)  2013;28(8):2032-2044.
What classification system is more suitable for the accurate, clear, simple and related to the clinical management categorization of female genital anomalies?
The new ESHRE/ESGE classification system of female genital anomalies is presented.
Congenital malformations of the female genital tract are common miscellaneous deviations from normal anatomy with health and reproductive consequences. Until now, three systems have been proposed for their categorization but all of them are associated with serious limitations.
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and the European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy (ESGE) have established a common Working Group, under the name CONUTA (CONgenital UTerine Anomalies), with the goal of developing a new updated classification system. A scientific committee (SC) has been appointed to run the project, looking also for consensus within the scientists working in the field.
The new system is designed and developed based on (i) scientific research through critical review of current proposals and preparation of an initial proposal for discussion between the experts, (ii) consensus measurement among the experts through the use of the DELPHI procedure and (iii) consensus development by the SC, taking into account the results of the DELPHI procedure and the comments of the experts. Almost 90 participants took part in the process of development of the ESHRE/ESGE classification system, contributing with their structured answers and comments.
The ESHRE/ESGE classification system is based on anatomy. Anomalies are classified into the following main classes, expressing uterine anatomical deviations deriving from the same embryological origin: U0, normal uterus; U1, dysmorphic uterus; U2, septate uterus; U3, bicorporeal uterus; U4, hemi-uterus; U5, aplastic uterus; U6, for still unclassified cases. Main classes have been divided into sub-classes expressing anatomical varieties with clinical significance. Cervical and vaginal anomalies are classified independently into sub-classes having clinical significance.
The ESHRE/ESGE classification of female genital anomalies seems to fulfill the expectations and the needs of the experts in the field, but its clinical value needs to be proved in everyday practice.
The ESHRE/ESGE classification system of female genital anomalies could be used as a starting point for the development of guidelines for their diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3712660  PMID: 23771171
female tract; classification system; anatomy
11.  The ESHRE–ESGE consensus on the classification of female genital tract congenital anomalies 
Gynecological Surgery  2013;10(3):199-212.
The new ESHRE/ESGE classification system of female genital anomalies is presented, aiming to provide a more suitable classification system for the accurate, clear, correlated with clinical management and simple categorization of female genital anomalies. Congenital malformations of the female genital tract are common miscellaneous deviations from normal anatomy with health and reproductive consequences. Until now, three systems have been proposed for their categorization, but all of them are associated with serious limitations. The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and the European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy (ESGE) have established a common Working Group, under the name CONUTA (CONgenital UTerine Anomalies), with the goal of developing a new updated classification system. A scientific committee has been appointed to run the project, looking also for consensus within the scientists working in the field. The new system is designed and developed based on: (1) scientific research through critical review of current proposals and preparation of an initial proposal for discussion between the experts, (2) consensus measurement among the experts through the use of the DELPHI procedure and (3) consensus development by the scientific committee, taking into account the results of the DELPHI procedure and the comments of the experts. Almost 90 participants took part in the process of development of the ESHRE/ESGE classification system, contributing with their structured answers and comments. The ESHRE/ESGE classification system is based on anatomy. Anomalies are classified into the following main classes, expressing uterine anatomical deviations deriving from the same embryological origin: U0, normal uterus; U1, dysmorphic uterus; U2, septate uterus; U3, bicorporeal uterus; U4, hemi-uterus; U5, aplastic uterus; U6, for still unclassified cases. Main classes have been divided into sub-classes expressing anatomical varieties with clinical significance. Cervical and vaginal anomalies are classified independently into sub-classes having clinical significance. The ESHRE/ESGE classification of female genital anomalies seems to fulfil the expectations and the needs of the experts in the field, but its clinical value needs to be proved in everyday practice. The ESHRE/ESGE classification system of female genital anomalies could be used as a starting point for the development of guidelines for their diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3718988  PMID: 23894234
ESHRE; ESGE; Female genital tract congenital anomalies; ESHRE/ESGE classification system; DELPHI procedure
12.  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
13.  Evidence-based guidelines in the evaluation of work disability: an international survey and a comparison of quality of development 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:349.
In social insurance, the evaluation of work disability is becoming stricter as priority is given to the resumption of work, which calls for a guarantee of quality for these evaluations. Evidence-based guidelines have become a major instrument in the quality control of health care, and the quality of these guidelines' development can be assessed using the AGREE instrument. In social insurance medicine, such guidelines are relatively new. We were interested to know what guidelines have been developed to support the medical evaluation of work disability and the quality of these guidelines.
Five European countries that were reported to use guidelines were approached, using a recent inventory of evaluations of work disability in Europe. We focused on guidelines that are disease-oriented and formally prescribed in social insurance medicine. Using the AGREE instrument, these guidelines were appraised by two researchers. We asked two experts involved in guideline development to indicate if they agreed with our results and to provide explanations for insufficient scores.
We found six German and sixteen Dutch sets of disease-oriented guidelines in official use. The AGREE instrument was applicable, requiring minor adaptations. The appraisers reached consensus on all items. Each guideline scored well on 'scope and purpose' and 'clarity and presentation'. The guidelines scored moderately on 'stakeholder involvement' in the Netherlands, but insufficiently in Germany, due mainly to the limited involvement of patients' representatives in this country. All guidelines had low scores on 'rigour of development', which was due partly to a lack of documentation and of existing evidence. 'Editorial independence' and 'applicability' had low scores in both countries as a result of how the production was organised.
Disease-oriented guidelines in social insurance medicine for the evaluation of work disability are a recent phenomenon, so far restricted to Germany and the Netherlands. The AGREE instrument is suitably applicable to assess the quality of guideline development in social insurance medicine, but some of the scoring rules need to be adapted to the context of social insurance. Existing guidelines do not meet the AGREE criteria to a sufficient level. The way patients' representatives can be involved needs further discussion. The guidelines would profit from more specific recommendations and, for providing evidence, more research is needed on the functional capacity of people with disabilities.
PMCID: PMC2754463  PMID: 19765295
14.  European Hernia Society guidelines on the treatment of inguinal hernia in adult patients 
Hernia  2009;13(4):343-403.
The European Hernia Society (EHS) is proud to present the EHS Guidelines for the Treatment of Inguinal Hernia in Adult Patients. The Guidelines contain recommendations for the treatment of inguinal hernia from diagnosis till aftercare. They have been developed by a Working Group consisting of expert surgeons with representatives of 14 country members of the EHS. They are evidence-based and, when necessary, a consensus was reached among all members. The Guidelines have been reviewed by a Steering Committee. Before finalisation, feedback from different national hernia societies was obtained. The Appraisal of Guidelines for REsearch and Evaluation (AGREE) instrument was used by the Cochrane Association to validate the Guidelines. The Guidelines can be used to adjust local protocols, for training purposes and quality control. They will be revised in 2012 in order to keep them updated. In between revisions, it is the intention of the Working Group to provide every year, during the EHS annual congress, a short update of new high-level evidence (randomised controlled trials [RCTs] and meta-analyses). Developing guidelines leads to questions that remain to be answered by specific research. Therefore, we provide recommendations for further research that can be performed to raise the level of evidence concerning certain aspects of inguinal hernia treatment. In addition, a short summary, specifically for the general practitioner, is given. In order to increase the practical use of the Guidelines by consultants and residents, more details on the most important surgical techniques, local infiltration anaesthesia and a patient information sheet is provided. The most important challenge now will be the implementation of the Guidelines in daily surgical practice. This remains an important task for the EHS. The establishment of an EHS school for teaching inguinal hernia repair surgical techniques, including tips and tricks from experts to overcome the learning curve (especially in endoscopic repair), will be the next step. Working together on this project was a great learning experience, and it was worthwhile and fun. Cultural differences between members were easily overcome by educating each other, respecting different views and always coming back to the principles of evidence-based medicine. The members of the Working Group would like to thank the EHS board for their support and especially Ethicon for sponsoring the many meetings that were needed to finalise such an ambitious project.
PMCID: PMC2719730  PMID: 19636493
15.  Development and validation of an international appraisal instrument for assessing the quality of clinical practice guidelines: the AGREE project 
Background: International interest in clinical practice guidelines has never been greater but many published guidelines do not meet the basic quality requirements. There have been renewed calls for validated criteria to assess the quality of guidelines.
Objective: To develop and validate an international instrument for assessing the quality of the process and reporting of clinical practice guideline development.
Methods: The instrument was developed through a multi-staged process of item generation, selection and scaling, field testing, and refinement procedures. 100 guidelines selected from 11 participating countries were evaluated independently by 194 appraisers with the instrument. Following refinement the instrument was further field tested on three guidelines per country by a new set of 70 appraisers.
Results: The final version of the instrument contained 23 items grouped into six quality domains with a 4 point Likert scale to score each item (scope and purpose, stakeholder involvement, rigour of development, clarity and presentation, applicability, editorial independence). 95% of appraisers found the instrument useful for assessing guidelines. Reliability was acceptable for most domains (Cronbach's alpha 0.64–0.88). Guidelines produced as part of an established guideline programme had significantly higher scores on editorial independence and, after the publication of a national policy, had significantly higher quality scores on rigour of development (p<0.005). Guidelines with technical documentation had higher scores on that domain (p<0.0001).
Conclusions: This is the first time an appraisal instrument for clinical practice guidelines has been developed and tested internationally. The instrument is sensitive to differences in important aspects of guidelines and can be used consistently and easily by a wide range of professionals from different backgrounds. The adoption of common standards should improve the consistency and quality of the reporting of guideline development worldwide and provide a framework to encourage international comparison of clinical practice guidelines.
PMCID: PMC1743672  PMID: 12571340
16.  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
17.  Women's Access and Provider Practices for the Case Management of Malaria during Pregnancy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(8):e1001688.
Jenny Hill and colleagues conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of women’s access and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case-management policy of malaria during pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
WHO recommends prompt diagnosis and quinine plus clindamycin for treatment of uncomplicated malaria in the first trimester and artemisinin-based combination therapies in subsequent trimesters. We undertook a systematic review of women's access to and healthcare provider adherence to WHO case management policy for malaria in pregnant women.
Methods and Findings
We searched the Malaria in Pregnancy Library, the Global Health Database, and the International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs Bibliography from 1 January 2006 to 3 April 2014, without language restriction. Data were appraised for quality and content. Frequencies of women's and healthcare providers' practices were explored using narrative synthesis and random effect meta-analysis. Barriers to women's access and providers' adherence to policy were explored by content analysis using NVivo. Determinants of women's access and providers' case management practices were extracted and compared across studies. We did not perform a meta-ethnography. Thirty-seven studies were included, conducted in Africa (30), Asia (4), Yemen (1), and Brazil (2). One- to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy, of whom treatment was sought by >85%. Barriers to access among women included poor knowledge of drug safety, prohibitive costs, and self-treatment practices, used by 5%–40% of women. Determinants of women's treatment-seeking behaviour were education and previous experience of miscarriage and antenatal care. Healthcare provider reliance on clinical diagnosis and poor adherence to treatment policy, especially in first versus other trimesters (28%, 95% CI 14%–47%, versus 72%, 95% CI 39%–91%, p = 0.02), was consistently reported. Prescribing practices were driven by concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost. Determinants of provider practices were access to training and facility type (public versus private). Findings were limited by the availability, quality, scope, and methodological inconsistencies of the included studies.
A systematic assessment of the extent of substandard case management practices of malaria in pregnancy is required, as well as quality improvement interventions that reach all providers administering antimalarial drugs in the community. Pregnant women need access to information on which anti-malarial drugs are safe to use at different stages of pregnancy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasite, kills about 600,000 people every year. Most of these deaths occur among young children in sub-Saharan Africa, but pregnant women and their unborn babies are also vulnerable to malaria. Infection with malaria during pregnancy can cause severe maternal anemia, miscarriages, and preterm births, and kills about 10,000 women and 100,000 children each year. Since 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that uncomplicated malaria (an infection that causes a fever but does not involve organ damage or severe anemia) should be treated with quinine and clindamycin if it occurs during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy and with an artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) if it occurs during the second or third trimester; ACTs should be used during the first trimester only if no other treatment is immediately available because their safety during early pregnancy has not been established. Since 2010, WHO has also recommended that clinical diagnosis of malaria should be confirmed before treatment by looking for parasites in patients' blood (parasitology).
Why Was This Study Done?
Prompt diagnosis and treatment of malaria in pregnancy in regions where malaria is always present (endemic regions) is extremely important, yet little is known about women's access to the recommended interventions for malaria in pregnancy or about healthcare providers' adherence to the WHO case management guidelines. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods studies, the researchers explore the factors that affect women's access to treatment and healthcare provider practices for case management of malaria during pregnancy. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic. Meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies. A qualitative study collects non-quantitative data such as reasons for refusing an intervention, whereas a qualitative study collects numerical data such as the proportion of a population receiving an intervention.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 37 studies (mostly conducted in Africa) that provided data on the range of healthcare providers visited, antimalarials used, and the factors influencing the choice of healthcare provider and medicines among pregnant women seeking treatment for malaria and/or the type and quality of diagnostic and case management services offered to them by healthcare providers. The researchers explored the data in these studies using narrative synthesis (which summarizes the results from several qualitative studies) and content analysis (which identifies key themes within texts). Among the studies that provided relevant data, one-quarter to three-quarters of women reported malaria episodes during pregnancy. More than 85% of the women who reported a malaria episode during pregnancy sought some form of treatment. Barriers to access to WHO-recommended treatment among women included poor knowledge about drug safety, and the use of self-treatment practices such as taking herbal remedies. Factors that affected the treatment-seeking behavior of pregnant women (“determinants”) included prior use of antenatal care, education, and previous experience of a miscarriage. Among healthcare providers, reliance on clinical diagnosis of malaria was consistently reported, as was poor adherence to the treatment policy. Specifically, 28% and 72% of healthcare providers followed the treatment guidelines for malaria during the first and second/third trimesters of pregnancy, respectively. Finally, the researchers report that concerns over side effects and drug safety, patient preference, drug availability, and cost drove the prescribing practices of the healthcare providers, and that the determinants of provider practices included the type (cadre) of heathcare worker, access to training, and whether they were based in a public or private facility.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal important limitations in the implementation of the WHO policy on the treatment of malaria in pregnancy across many parts of Africa and in several other malaria endemic regions. Notably, they show that women do not uniformly seek care within the formal healthcare system and suggest that, when they do seek care, they may not be given the appropriate treatment because healthcare providers frequently fail to adhere to the WHO diagnostic and treatment guidelines. Although limited by the sparseness of data and by inconsistencies in study methodologies, these findings nevertheless highlight the need for further systematic assessments of the extent of substandard case management of malaria in pregnancy in malaria endemic countries, and the need to develop interventions to improve access to and delivery of quality case management of malaria among pregnant women.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages) and on malaria in pregnancy; the 2010 Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria are available; the World Malaria Report 2013 provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria; a personal story about malaria in pregnancy is available
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy and provides links to the consortium's publications and an online library on malaria in pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC4122360  PMID: 25093720
18.  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
19.  Methodological Rigour and Transparency of Clinical Practice Guidelines Developed by Neurology Professional Societies in Croatia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69877.
Clinical practice guidelines are systematically created documents that summarize knowledge and assist in delivering high-quality medicine by identifying evidence that supports best clinical care. They are produced not only by international professional groups but also by local professionals to address locally-relevant clinical practice. We evaluated the methodological rigour and transparency of guideline development in neurology formulated by professionals in a local medical community.
We analyzed clinical guidelines in neurology publicly available at the web-site of the Physicians’ Assembly in Croatia in 2012: 6 guidelines developed by Croatian authors and 1 adapted from the European Federation of Neurological Societies. The quality was assessed by 2 independent evaluators using the AGREE II instrument. We also conducted a search of the Cochrane Library to identify potential changes in recommendation from Cochrane systematic reviews included in guideline preparation.
The methodological quality of the guidelines greatly varied across different domains. „Scope and Purpose” and „Clarity of Presentation“ domains received high scores (100% [95% confidence interval (CI) 98.5–100] and 97% [77.9–100], respectively), the lowest scores were in “Stakeholder Involvement“ (19% [15.5–34.6]) and “Editorial Independence” (0% [0–19.2]). Conclusions of 3 guidelines based on Cochrane systematic reviews were confirmed in updated versions and one update provided new information on the effectiveness of another antidepressant. Two Cochrane reviews used in guidelines were withdrawn and split into new reviews and their findings are now considered to be out of date.
Neurological guidelines used in Croatia differ in structure and their methodological quality. We recommend to national societies and professional groups to develop a more systematic and rigorous approach to the development of the guidelines, timely inclusion of best evidences and an effort to involve target users and patients in the guideline development procedures.
PMCID: PMC3716699  PMID: 23894555
20.  A framework for assessing Health Economic Evaluation (HEE) quality appraisal instruments 
Health economic evaluations support the health care decision-making process by providing information on costs and consequences of health interventions. The quality of such studies is assessed by health economic evaluation (HEE) quality appraisal instruments. At present, there is no instrument for measuring and improving the quality of such HEE quality appraisal instruments. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to establish a framework for assessing the quality of HEE quality appraisal instruments to support and improve their quality, and to apply this framework to those HEE quality appraisal instruments which have been subject to more scrutiny than others, in order to test the framework and to demonstrate the shortcomings of existing HEE quality appraisal instruments.
To develop the quality assessment framework for HEE quality appraisal instruments, the experiences of using appraisal tools for clinical guidelines are used. Based on a deductive iterative process, clinical guideline appraisal instruments identified through literature search are reviewed, consolidated, and adapted to produce the final quality assessment framework for HEE quality appraisal instruments.
The final quality assessment framework for HEE quality appraisal instruments consists of 36 items organized within 7 dimensions, each of which captures a specific domain of quality. Applying the quality assessment framework to four existing HEE quality appraisal instruments, it is found that these four quality appraisal instruments are of variable quality.
The framework described in this study should be regarded as a starting point for appraising the quality of HEE quality appraisal instruments. This framework can be used by HEE quality appraisal instrument producers to support and improve the quality and acceptance of existing and future HEE quality appraisal instruments. By applying this framework, users of HEE quality appraisal instruments can become aware of methodological deficiencies inherent in existing HEE quality appraisal instruments. These shortcomings of existing HEE quality appraisal instruments are illustrated by the pilot test.
PMCID: PMC3507835  PMID: 22894708
21.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
A gap exists between evidence and practice regarding the management of cardiovascular risk factors. This gap could be narrowed if systematically developed clinical practice guidelines were effectively implemented in clinical practice. We evaluated the effects of a tailored intervention to support the implementation of systematically developed guidelines for the use of antihypertensive and cholesterol-lowering drugs for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cluster-randomized trial comparing a tailored intervention to passive dissemination of guidelines in 146 general practices in two geographical areas in Norway. Each practice was randomized to either the tailored intervention (70 practices; 257 physicians) or control group (69 practices; 244 physicians). Patients started on medication for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia during the study period and all patients already on treatment that consulted their physician during the trial were included. A multifaceted intervention was tailored to address identified barriers to change. Key components were an educational outreach visit with audit and feedback, and computerized reminders linked to the medical record system. Pharmacists conducted the visits. Outcomes were measured for all eligible patients seen in the participating practices during 1 y before and after the intervention. The main outcomes were the proportions of (1) first-time prescriptions for hypertension where thiazides were prescribed, (2) patients assessed for cardiovascular risk before prescribing antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs, and (3) patients treated for hypertension or hypercholesterolemia for 3 mo or more who had achieved recommended treatment goals.
The intervention led to an increase in adherence to guideline recommendations on choice of antihypertensive drug. Thiazides were prescribed to 17% of patients in the intervention group versus 11% in the control group (relative risk 1.94; 95% confidence interval 1.49–2.49, adjusted for baseline differences and clustering effect). Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
Our tailored intervention had a significant impact on prescribing of antihypertensive drugs, but was ineffective in improving the quality of other aspects of managing hypertension and hypercholesterolemia in primary care.
Editors' Summary
An important issue in health care is “getting research into practice,” in other words, making sure that, when evidence from research has established the best way to treat a disease, doctors actually use that approach with their patients. In reality, there is often a gap between evidence and practice.
  An example concerns the treatment of people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or high cholesterol. These are common conditions, and both increase the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. Research has shown that the risks can be lowered if patients with these conditions are given drugs that lower blood pressure (antihypertensives) and drugs that lower cholesterol. There are many types of these drugs now available. In many countries, the health authorities want family doctors (general practitioners) to make better use of these drugs. They want doctors to prescribe them to everyone who would benefit, using the type of drugs found to be most effective. When there is a choice of drugs that are equally effective, they want doctors to use the cheapest type. (In the case of antihypertensives, an older type, known as thiazides, is very effective and also very cheap, but many doctors prefer to give their patients newer, more expensive alternatives.) Health authorities have issued guidelines to doctors that address these issues. However, it is not easy to change prescribing practices, and research in several countries has shown that issuing guidelines has only limited effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted—in two parts of Norway—to compare the effects on prescribing practices of what they called the “passive dissemination of guidelines” with a more active approach, where the use of the guidelines was strongly promoted and encouraged.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They worked with 146 general practices. In half of them the guidelines were actively promoted. The remaining were regarded as a control group; they were given the guidelines but no special efforts were made to encourage their use. It was decided at random which practices would be in which group; this approach is called a randomized controlled trial. The methods used to actively promote use of the guidelines included personal visits to the practices by pharmacists and use of a computerized reminder system. Information was then collected on the number of patients who, when first treated for hypertension, were prescribed a thiazide. Other information collected included whether patients had been properly assessed for their level of risk (for strokes and heart attacks) before antihypertensive or cholesterol-lowering drugs were given. In addition, the researchers recorded whether the recommended targets for improvement in blood pressure and cholesterol level had been reached.
Only 11% of those patients visiting the control group of practices who should have been prescribed thiazides, according to the guidelines, actually received them. Of those seen by doctors in the practices where the guidelines were actively promoted, 17% received thiazides. According to statistical analysis, the increase achieved by active promotion is significant. Little or no differences were found for risk assessment prior to prescribing and for achievement of treatment goals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Even in the active promotion group, the great majority of patients (83%) were still not receiving treatment according to the guidelines. However, active promotion of guidelines is more effective than simply issuing the guidelines by themselves. The study also demonstrates that it is very hard to change prescribing practices. The efforts made here to encourage the doctors to change were considerable, and although the results were significant, they were still disappointing. Also disappointing is the fact that achievement of treatment goals was no better in the active-promotion group. These issues are discussed further in a Perspective about this study (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030229).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• The Web site of the American Academy of Family Physicians has a page on heart disease
• The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia's pages on heart diseases and vascular diseases
• Information from NHS Direct (UK National Health Service) about heart attack and stroke
• Another PLoS Medicine article has also addressed trends in thiazide prescribing
Passive dissemination of management guidelines for hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia was compared with active promotion. Active promotion led to significant improvement in antihypertensive prescribing but not other aspects of management.
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
22.  A Multifaceted Intervention to Implement Guidelines and Improve Admission Paediatric Care in Kenyan District Hospitals: A Cluster Randomised Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001018.
Philip Ayieko and colleagues report the outcomes of a cluster-randomized trial carried out in eight Kenyan district hospitals evaluating the effects of a complex intervention involving improved training and supervision for clinicians. They found a higher performance of hospitals assigned to the complex intervention on a variety of process of care measures, as compared to those receiving the control intervention.
In developing countries referral of severely ill children from primary care to district hospitals is common, but hospital care is often of poor quality. However, strategies to change multiple paediatric care practices in rural hospitals have rarely been evaluated.
Methods and Findings
This cluster randomized trial was conducted in eight rural Kenyan district hospitals, four of which were randomly assigned to a full intervention aimed at improving quality of clinical care (evidence-based guidelines, training, job aides, local facilitation, supervision, and face-to-face feedback; n = 4) and the remaining four to control intervention (guidelines, didactic training, job aides, and written feedback; n = 4). Prespecified structure, process, and outcome indicators were measured at baseline and during three and five 6-monthly surveys in control and intervention hospitals, respectively. Primary outcomes were process of care measures, assessed at 18 months postbaseline.
In both groups performance improved from baseline. Completion of admission assessment tasks was higher in intervention sites at 18 months (mean = 0.94 versus 0.65, adjusted difference 0.54 [95% confidence interval 0.05–0.29]). Uptake of guideline recommended therapeutic practices was also higher within intervention hospitals: adoption of once daily gentamicin (89.2% versus 74.4%; 17.1% [8.04%–26.1%]); loading dose quinine (91.9% versus 66.7%, 26.3% [−3.66% to 56.3%]); and adequate prescriptions of intravenous fluids for severe dehydration (67.2% versus 40.6%; 29.9% [10.9%–48.9%]). The proportion of children receiving inappropriate doses of drugs in intervention hospitals was lower (quinine dose >40 mg/kg/day; 1.0% versus 7.5%; −6.5% [−12.9% to 0.20%]), and inadequate gentamicin dose (2.2% versus 9.0%; −6.8% [−11.9% to −1.6%]).
Specific efforts are needed to improve hospital care in developing countries. A full, multifaceted intervention was associated with greater changes in practice spanning multiple, high mortality conditions in rural Kenyan hospitals than a partial intervention, providing one model for bridging the evidence to practice gap and improving admission care in similar settings.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN42996612
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
In 2008, nearly 10 million children died in early childhood. Nearly all these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries—half were in Africa. In Kenya, for example, 74 out every 1,000 children born died before they reached their fifth birthday. About half of all childhood (pediatric) deaths in developing countries are caused by pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Deaths from these common diseases could be prevented if all sick children had access to quality health care in the community (“primary” health care provided by health centers, pharmacists, family doctors, and traditional healers) and in district hospitals (“secondary” health care). Unfortunately, primary health care facilities in developing countries often lack essential diagnostic capabilities and drugs, and pediatric hospital care is frequently inadequate with many deaths occurring soon after admission. Consequently, in 1996, as part of global efforts to reduce childhood illnesses and deaths, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) introduced the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) strategy. This approach to child health focuses on the well-being of the whole child and aims to improve the case management skills of health care staff at all levels, health systems, and family and community health practices.
Why Was This Study Done?
The implementation of IMCI has been evaluated at the primary health care level, but its implementation in district hospitals has not been evaluated. So, for example, interventions designed to encourage the routine use of WHO disease-specific guidelines in rural pediatric hospitals have not been tested. In this cluster randomized trial, the researchers develop and test a multifaceted intervention designed to improve the implementation of treatment guidelines and admission pediatric care in district hospitals in Kenya. In a cluster randomized trial, groups of patients rather than individual patients are randomly assigned to receive alternative interventions and the outcomes in different “clusters” of patients are compared. In this trial, each cluster is a district hospital.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned eight Kenyan district hospitals to the “full” or “control” intervention, interventions that differed in intensity but that both included more strategies to promote implementation of best practice than are usually applied in Kenyan rural hospitals. The full intervention included provision of clinical practice guidelines and training in their use, six-monthly survey-based hospital assessments followed by face-to-face feedback of survey findings, 5.5 days training for health care workers, provision of job aids such as structured pediatric admission records, external supervision, and the identification of a local facilitator to promote guideline use and to provide on-site problem solving. The control intervention included the provision of clinical practice guidelines (without training in their use) and job aids, six-monthly surveys with written feedback, and a 1.5-day lecture-based seminar to explain the guidelines. The researchers compared the implementation of various processes of care (activities of patients and doctors undertaken to ensure delivery of care) in the intervention and control hospitals at baseline and 18 months later. The performance of both groups of hospitals improved during the trial but more markedly in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. At 18 months, the completion of admission assessment tasks and the uptake of guideline-recommended clinical practices were both higher in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals. Moreover, a lower proportion of children received inappropriate doses of drugs such as quinine for malaria in the intervention hospitals than in the control hospitals.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that specific efforts are needed to improve pediatric care in rural Kenya and suggest that interventions that include more approaches to changing clinical practice may be more effective than interventions that include fewer approaches. These findings are limited by certain aspects of the trial design, such as the small number of participating hospitals, and may not be generalizable to other hospitals in Kenya or to hospitals in other developing countries. Thus, although these findings seem to suggest that efforts to implement and scale up improved secondary pediatric health care will need to include more than the production and dissemination of printed materials, further research including trials or evaluation of test programs are necessary before widespread adoption of any multifaceted approach (which will need to be tailored to local conditions and available resources) can be contemplated.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
WHO provides information on efforts to reduce global child mortality and on Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI); the WHO pocket book “Hospital care for children contains guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources (available in several languages)
UNICEF also provides information on efforts to reduce child mortality and detailed statistics on child mortality
The iDOC Africa Web site, which is dedicated to improving the delivery of hospital care for children and newborns in Africa, provides links to the clinical guidelines and other resources used in this study
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
23.  A critical review of guidelines for low back pain treatment 
European Spine Journal  2005;15(5):543-553.
Main problem: Little is known about the methodological quality of guidelines for low back pain treatment. We evaluated the methods used by the developers according to established standards. Methods: PubMed, guideline databases, and the World Wide Web were used to identify guidelines. Seventeen guidelines met the inclusion criteria: interventions for low back pain stated, recommendations based on or explicitly linked to evidence, and English version available. Guidelines were evaluated independently by two appraisers using a practical tool for this purpose, Users’ Guides to the Medical Literature, and the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) instrument. Results: Thirteen guidelines (76%) specified the most important therapies applied, but only nine (53%) included a complete description of the target population. Explicit processes to identify, select, and combine evidence were described in only six guidelines (35%). Few guidelines (3; 18%) explicitly considered all main outcomes when formulating therapeutic recommendations, and none contained a process to determine the relative value of different outcomes. Methodological criteria for grading the strength of the recommendations varied, and were often insufficiently specified. None of the guidelines assessed the impact of uncertainty associated with the evidence and values used. According to AGREE the quality score was highest for the scope and purpose, and clarity and presentation domains, and lowest for editorial independence and applicability. With regard to the recommendations, there was consensus for some of the interventions for acute pain (analgesics and NSAIDs, maintaining physical activity, and avoiding excessive bed rest), but explicit recommendations were lacking or ambiguous for 41% of the interventions. Most of the guidelines did not contemplate specific recommendations for chronic pain. Conclusions: A small number of the available guidelines for low back pain treatment achieved acceptable results for specific quality criteria. In general, the methods to develop the guidelines’ therapeutic recommendations need to be more rigorous, more explicit and better explained. In addition, greater importance should be placed on the recommendations for chronic pain.
PMCID: PMC3489347  PMID: 16217664
Low back pain; Guidelines; Practice guidelines; Quality assurance; Health care
24.  The Systematic Guideline Review: Method, rationale, and test on chronic heart failure 
Evidence-based guidelines have the potential to improve healthcare. However, their de-novo-development requires substantial resources – especially for complex conditions, and adaptation may be biased by contextually influenced recommendations in source guidelines. In this paper we describe a new approach to guideline development – the systematic guideline review method (SGR), and its application in the development of an evidence-based guideline for family physicians on chronic heart failure (CHF).
A systematic search for guidelines was carried out. Evidence-based guidelines on CHF management in adults in ambulatory care published in English or German between the years 2000 and 2004 were included. Guidelines on acute or right heart failure were excluded. Eligibility was assessed by two reviewers, methodological quality of selected guidelines was appraised using the AGREE instrument, and a framework of relevant clinical questions for diagnostics and treatment was derived. Data were extracted into evidence tables, systematically compared by means of a consistency analysis and synthesized in a preliminary draft. Most relevant primary sources were re-assessed to verify the cited evidence. Evidence and recommendations were summarized in a draft guideline.
Of 16 included guidelines five were of good quality. A total of 35 recommendations were systematically compared: 25/35 were consistent, 9/35 inconsistent, and 1/35 un-rateable (derived from a single guideline). Of the 25 consistencies, 14 were based on consensus, seven on evidence and four differed in grading. Major inconsistencies were found in 3/9 of the inconsistent recommendations. We re-evaluated the evidence for 17 recommendations (evidence-based, differing evidence levels and minor inconsistencies) – the majority was congruent. Incongruity was found where the stated evidence could not be verified in the cited primary sources, or where the evaluation in the source guidelines focused on treatment benefits and underestimated the risks. The draft guideline was completed in 8.5 man-months. The main limitation to this study was the lack of a second reviewer.
The systematic guideline review including framework development, consistency analysis and validation is an effective, valid, and resource saving-approach to the development of evidence-based guidelines.
PMCID: PMC2698839  PMID: 19426504
25.  The development of a guideline implementability tool (GUIDE-IT): a qualitative study of family physician perspectives 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:19.
The potential of clinical practice guidelines has not been realized due to inconsistent adoption in clinical practice. Optimising intrinsic characteristics of guidelines (e.g., its wording and format) that are associated with uptake (as perceived by their end users) may have potential. Using findings from a realist review on guideline uptake and consultation with experts in guideline development, we designed a conceptual version of a future tool called Guideline Implementability Tool (GUIDE-IT). The tool will aim to involve family physicians in the guideline development process by providing a process to assess draft guideline recommendations. This feedback will then be given back to developers to consider when finalizing the recommendations. As guideline characteristics are best assessed by end-users, the objectives of the current study were to explore how family physicians perceive guideline implementability, and to determine what components should comprise the final GUIDE-IT prototype.
We conducted a qualitative study with family physicians inToronto, Ontario. Two experienced investigators conducted one-hour interviews with family physicians using a semi-structured interview guide to 1) elicit feedback on perceptions on guideline implementability; 2) to generate a discussion in response to three draft recommendations; and 3) to provide feedback on the conceptual GUIDE-IT. Sessions were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. Data collection and analysis were guided by content analyses.
20 family physicians participated. They perceived guideline uptake according to facilitators and barriers across 6 categories of guideline implementability (format, content, language, usability, development, and the practice environment). Participants’ feedback on 3 draft guideline recommendations were grouped according to guideline perception, cognition, and agreement. When asked to comment on GUIDE-IT, most respondents believed that the tool would be useful, but urged to involve “regular” or community family physicians in the process, and suggested that an online system would be the most efficient way to deliver it.
Our study identified facilitators and barriers of guideline implementability from the perspective of community and academic family physicians that will be used to build our GUIDE-IT prototype. Our findings build on current knowledge by showing that family physicians perceive guideline uptake mostly according to factors that are in the control of guideline developers.
PMCID: PMC4016596  PMID: 24476491
Guideline implementability; Family practice; Knowledge translation; Qualitative

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