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1.  Inclusion of Ethical Issues in Dementia Guidelines: A Thematic Text Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(8):e1001498.
Background
Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) aim to improve professionalism in health care. However, current CPG development manuals fail to address how to include ethical issues in a systematic and transparent manner. The objective of this study was to assess the representation of ethical issues in general CPGs on dementia care.
Methods and Findings
To identify national CPGs on dementia care, five databases of guidelines were searched and national psychiatric associations were contacted in August 2011 and in June 2013. A framework for the assessment of the identified CPGs' ethical content was developed on the basis of a prior systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Thematic text analysis and a 4-point rating score were employed to assess how ethical issues were addressed in the identified CPGs. Twelve national CPGs were included. Thirty-one ethical issues in dementia care were identified by the prior systematic review. The proportion of these 31 ethical issues that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% to 77%, with a median of 49.5%. National guidelines differed substantially with respect to (a) which ethical issues were represented, (b) whether ethical recommendations were included, (c) whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and (d) to what extent the ethical issues were explained.
Conclusions
Ethical issues were inconsistently addressed in national dementia guidelines, with some guidelines including most and some including few ethical issues. Guidelines should address ethical issues and how to deal with them to help the medical profession understand how to approach care of patients with dementia, and for patients, their relatives, and the general public, all of whom might seek information and advice in national guidelines. There is a need for further research to specify how detailed ethical issues and their respective recommendations can and should be addressed in dementia guidelines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors’ Summary
Background
In the past, doctors tended to rely on their own experience to choose the best treatment for their patients. Faced with a patient with dementia (a brain disorder that affects short-term memory and the ability tocarry out normal daily activities), for example, a doctor would use his/her own experience to help decide whether the patient should remain at home or would be better cared for in a nursing home. Similarly, the doctor might have to decide whether antipsychotic drugs might be necessary to reduce behavioral or psychological symptoms such as restlessness or shouting. However, over the past two decades, numerous evidence-based clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) have been produced by governmental bodies and medical associations that aim to improve standards of clinical competence and professionalism in health care. During the development of each guideline, experts search the medical literature for the current evidence about the diagnosis and treatment of a disease, evaluate the quality of that evidence, and then make recommendations based on the best evidence available.
Why Was This Study Done?
Currently, CPG development manuals do not address how to include ethical issues in CPGs. A health-care professional is ethical if he/she behaves in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the medical profession. More specifically, medical professionalism is based on a set of binding ethical principles—respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance (the “do no harm” principle), and justice. In particular, CPG development manuals do not address disease-specific ethical issues (DSEIs), clinical ethical situations that are relevant to the management of a specific disease. So, for example, a DSEI that arises in dementia care is the conflict between the ethical principles of non-malfeasance and patient autonomy (freedom-to-move-at-will). Thus, healthcare professionals may have to decide to physically restrain a patient with dementia to prevent the patient doing harm to him- or herself or to someone else. Given the lack of guidance on how to address ethical issues in CPG development manuals, in this thematic text analysis, the researchers assess the representation of ethical issues in CPGs on general dementia care. Thematic text analysis uses a framework for the assessment of qualitative data (information that is word-based rather than number-based) that involves pinpointing, examining, and recording patterns (themes) among the available data.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 12 national CPGs on dementia care by searching guideline databases and by contacting national psychiatric associations. They developed a framework for the assessment of the ethical content in these CPGs based on a previous systematic review of ethical issues in dementia care. Of the 31 DSEIs included by the researchers in their analysis, the proportion that were explicitly addressed by each CPG ranged from 22% (Switzerland) to 77% (USA); on average the CPGs explicitly addressed half of the DSEIs. Four DSEIs—adequate consideration of advanced directives in decision making, usage of GPS and other monitoring techniques, covert medication, and dealing with suicidal thinking—were not addressed in at least 11 of the CPGs. The inclusion of recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs ranged from 10% of DSEIs covered in the Swiss CPG to 71% covered in the US CPG. Overall, national guidelines differed substantially with respect to which ethical issues were included, whether ethical recommendations were included, whether justifications or citations were provided to support recommendations, and to what extent the ethical issues were clearly explained.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that national CPGs on dementia care already address clinical ethical issues but that the extent to which the spectrum of DSEIs is considered varies widely within and between CPGs. They also indicate that recommendations on how to deal with DSEIs often lack the evidence that health-care professionals use to justify their clinical decisions. The researchers suggest that this situation can and should be improved, although more research is needed to determine how ethical issues and recommendations should be addressed in dementia guidelines. A more systematic and transparent inclusion of DSEIs in CPGs for dementia (and for other conditions) would further support the concept of medical professionalism as a core element of CPGs, note the researchers, but is also important for patients and their relatives who might turn to national CPGs for information and guidance at a stressful time of life.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498.
Wikipedia contains a page on clinical practice guidelines (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Guideline Clearinghouse provides information on national guidelines, including CPGs for dementia
The Guidelines International Network promotes the systematic development and application of clinical practice guidelines
The American Medical Association provides information about medical ethics; the British Medical Association provides information on all aspects of ethics and includes an essential tool kit that introduces common ethical problems and practical ways to deal with them
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about dementia, including a personal story about dealing with dementia
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about dementia and about Alzheimers disease, a specific type of dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK Nuffield Council on Bioethics provides the report Dementia: ethical issues and additional information on the public consultation on ethical issues in dementia care
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001498
PMCID: PMC3742442  PMID: 23966839
2.  Improving the use of research evidence in guideline development: 1. Guidelines for guidelines 
Background
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.
Objectives
We reviewed the literature on guidelines for the development of guidelines.
Methods
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-4-13
PMCID: PMC1665445  PMID: 17118181
3.  Improving the use of research evidence in guideline development: 16. Evaluation 
Background
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.
Objectives
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.
Methods
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.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-4-28
PMCID: PMC1702533  PMID: 17156460
4.  Developing a checklist for guideline implementation planning: review and synthesis of guideline development and implementation advice 
Background
Developers, users and others have requested or advocated for guidance on how to plan for, and implement guidelines concurrent to their development given that existing resources are lacking such information. The purpose of this research was to develop a guideline implementation planning checklist.
Methods
Documents that described or evaluated the processes of planning or undertaking implementation were identified in several publications that had systematically identified such resources, and by searching medical literature databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE). Data that described implementation planning; how to develop guideline versions or tools that would support user implementation; and options and mechanisms for disseminating or implementing guidelines were independently extracted from eligible documents by the principal investigator and a trained research assistant. Data were integrated to create a unique list of guideline implementation planning processes and considerations.
Results
Thirty-five documents were eligible. Of these, 16 (45.7%) provided sparse information on implementation planning, 25 (71.4%) mentioned different versions or tools for implementation, and 30 (85.7%) listed options for dissemination or implementation. None provided instructions for operationalizing implementation strategies. Data were integrated into a multi-item Guideline Implementation Planning Checklist including considerations for implementation planning (12), development of implementation tools (8), types of implementation tools (12), and options for dissemination (11) and implementation (12).
Conclusions
Developers or users can apply the Guideline Implementation Planning Checklist to prepare for and/or undertake guideline implementation. Further development of the checklist is warranted to elaborate on all components. In ongoing research, we will consult with the international guideline community to do so. At the same time, guideline implementation is complex, so developers and users would benefit from training, and by including knowledge translation experts and brokers on implementation planning committees.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0205-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13012-015-0205-5
PMCID: PMC4329197
Guidelines; Implementation
5.  Scaling Up the 2010 World Health Organization HIV Treatment Guidelines in Resource-Limited Settings: A Model-Based Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000382.
Rochelle Walensky and colleagues use a model-based analysis to examine which of the 2010 WHO antiretroviral therapy guidelines should be implemented first in resource-limited settings by ranking them according to survival, cost-effectiveness, and equity.
Background
The new 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) HIV treatment guidelines recommend earlier antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation (CD4<350 cells/µl instead of CD4<200 cells/µl), multiple sequential ART regimens, and replacement of first-line stavudine with tenofovir. This paper considers what to do first in resource-limited settings where immediate implementation of all of the WHO recommendations is not feasible.
Methods and Findings
We use a mathematical model and local input data to project clinical and economic outcomes in a South African HIV-infected cohort (mean age = 32.8 y, mean CD4 = 375/µl). For the reference strategy, we assume that all patients initiate stavudine-based ART with WHO stage III/IV disease and receive one line of ART (stavudine/WHO/one-line). We rank—in survival, cost-effectiveness, and equity terms—all 12 possible combinations of the following: (1) stavudine replacement with tenofovir, (2) ART initiation (by WHO stage, CD4<200 cells/µl, or CD4<350 cells/µl), and (3) one or two regimens, or lines, of available ART. Projected life expectancy for the reference strategy is 99.0 mo. Considering each of the guideline components separately, 5-y survival is maximized with ART initiation at CD4<350 cells/µl (stavudine/<350/µl/one-line, 87% survival) compared with stavudine/WHO/two-lines (66%) and tenofovir/WHO/one-line (66%). The greatest life expectancies are achieved via the following stepwise programmatic additions: stavudine/<350/µl/one-line (124.3 mo), stavudine/<350/µl/two-lines (177.6 mo), and tenofovir/<350/µl/two-lines (193.6 mo). Three program combinations are economically efficient: stavudine/<350/µl/one-line (cost-effectiveness ratio, US$610/years of life saved [YLS]), tenofovir/<350/µl/one-line (US$1,140/YLS), and tenofovir/<350/µl/two-lines (US$2,370/YLS).
Conclusions
In settings where immediate implementation of all of the new WHO treatment guidelines is not feasible, ART initiation at CD4<350 cells/µl provides the greatest short- and long-term survival advantage and is highly cost-effective.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Since 1981, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has killed more than 25 million people, and about 33 million people (30 million of them in low- and middle-income countries) are now infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS. HIV destroys immune system cells (including CD4 cells, a type of lymphocyte), leaving infected individuals susceptible to other infections (so-called opportunistic infections). Early in the AIDS epidemic, most people with HIV died within 10 years of infection. Then, in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART)—a combination of several powerful antiretroviral drugs—was developed. Now, in resource-rich countries, clinicians care for people with HIV by prescribing ART regimens tailored to each individual's needs. They also regularly measure the amount of virus in their patients' blood, test for antiretroviral-resistant viruses, and monitor the health of their patients' immune systems through regular CD4 cell counts. As a result, the life expectancy of patients with HIV in developed countries has dramatically improved.
Why Was This Study Done?
Initially, resource-limited countries could not afford to provide ART for their populations, and the life expectancy of HIV-positive people remained low. Now, through the concerted efforts of governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other international agencies, more than a third of the people in low- and middle-income countries who need ART are receiving it. However, many without access are still in need of ART, and ART programs in developing countries follow a public-health approach rather than an individualized approach. That is, drug regimens, clinical decision-making, and disease monitoring are all standardized and follow recommendations in the 2006 WHO ART guidelines. This year (2010), these guidelines were revised. The guidelines now recommend the following: earlier ART initiation—when the CD4 count falls below 350/µl of blood, instead of below 200/µl as in the 2006 guidelines; the provision of sequential ART regimens instead of a single regimen; and the replacement of the antiretroviral drug stavudine with tenofovir, a less toxic but more expensive drug, in first-line ART regimens. However, many resource-limited countries are still struggling to implement the 2006 guidelines, so which of these new recommendations should be prioritized? Here, the researchers use a mathematical model to address this question.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The Cost Effectiveness of AIDS Complications (CEPAC)–International model simulates the natural history and treatment of HIV disease. The researchers entered South African clinical and cost data for HIV treatment into this model and then used it to project survival and costs in a hypothetical group of South African HIV-positive patients under alternative guideline prioritization scenarios. The reference strategy for the simulations (denoted as “stavudine/WHO/one-line”) assumed that patients (with a mean CD4 count of 375/µl) began a single stavudine-based ART regimen when they developed WHO stage III/IV HIV disease (i.e., when patients develop multiple opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia). When the new guideline recommendations were considered separately, ART initiation at CD4<350/µl (stavudine/<350/µl/one-line) maximized five-year survival. Stepwise adjustment from the reference strategy (which had a life expectancy 99.0 months) through strategies of stavudine/<350/µl/one-line (a projected life expectancy of 124.3 months), stavudine/<350/µl/two-lines (177.6 months), and tenofovir/<350/µl/two-lines (193.6 months) produced the greatest improvements in life expectancy. Finally, strategies of stavudine/<350/µl/one-line, tenofovir/<350/µl/one-line, and tenofovir/<350µl/two-lines produced incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of US$610, US$1,140, and US$2,370 per year of life saved, respectively.
What Do These Findings Mean?
As with all mathematical models, the accuracy of these findings are dependent on the assumptions included in the model and on the data populating it. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that, where resources are limited and immediate implementation of all the new WHO recommendations is impossible, ART initiation at a CD4 count of less than 350/µl would provide the greatest survival advantage and would be very cost-effective. In countries that are already initiating ART at this threshold and that have access to CD4 monitoring, a switch from stavudine to tenofovir would further increase survival and would also be cost-effective. Finally, although access to second-line ART regimen would provide more clinical benefits than access to tenofovir, the cost of this change in strategy would be substantially greater. Importantly, these findings should help to avoid the complete dismissal of the revised WHO guidelines on the basis of cost and should help policy makers adjust their ART program strategies to maximize their clinical benefits and cost effectiveness.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000382.
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV/AIDS in South Africa and on HIV/AIDS treatment and care (in English and Spanish)
WHO provides information about universal access to AIDS treatment (in English, French, and Spanish); its 2010 ART guidelines can be downloaded
More information on the CEPAC model is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000382
PMCID: PMC3014084  PMID: 21209794
6.  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.
Background
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%]).
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001018
PMCID: PMC3071366  PMID: 21483712
7.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001489.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001489
PMCID: PMC3720257  PMID: 23935460
8.  Rational Prescribing in Primary Care (RaPP): A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Tailored Intervention 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e134.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background.
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134.
• 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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030134
PMCID: PMC1472695  PMID: 16737346
9.  “More bang for the buck”: exploring optimal approaches for guideline implementation through interviews with international developers 
Background
Population based studies show that guidelines are underused. Surveys of international guideline developers found that many do not implement their guidelines. The purpose of this research was to interview guideline developers about implementation approaches and resources.
Methods
Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with representatives of guideline development agencies identified in the National Guideline Clearinghouse and sampled by country, type of developer, and guideline clinical indication. Participants were asked to comment on the benefits and resource implications of three approaches for guideline implementation that varied by responsibility: developers, intermediaries, or users.
Results
Thirty individuals from seven countries were interviewed, representing government (n = 12) and professional (n = 18) organizations that produced guidelines for a variety of clinical indications. Organizations with an implementation mandate featured widely inconsistent funding and staffing models, variable approaches for choosing promotional strategies, and an array of dissemination activities. When asked to choose a preferred approach, most participants selected the option of including information within guidelines that would help users to implement them. Given variable mandate and resources for implementation, it was considered the most feasible approach, and therefore most likely to have impact due to potentially broad use.
Conclusions
While implementation approaches and strategies need not be standardized across organizations, the findings may be used by health care policy makers and managers, and guideline developers to generate strategic and operational plans that optimize implementation capacity. Further research is needed to examine how to optimize implementation capacity by guideline developers, intermediaries and users.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-404
PMCID: PMC3561165  PMID: 23153052
Guideline development; Guideline implementation; Qualitative research
10.  How can we improve guideline use? A conceptual framework of implementability 
Background
Guidelines continue to be underutilized, and a variety of strategies to improve their use have been suboptimal. Modifying guideline features represents an alternative, but untested way to promote their use. The purpose of this study was to identify and define features that facilitate guideline use, and examine whether and how they are included in current guidelines.
Methods
A guideline implementability framework was developed by reviewing the implementation science literature. We then examined whether guidelines included these, or additional implementability elements. Data were extracted from publicly available high quality guidelines reflecting primary and institutional care, reviewed independently by two individuals, who through discussion resolved conflicts, then by the research team.
Results
The final implementability framework included 22 elements organized in the domains of adaptability, usability, validity, applicability, communicability, accommodation, implementation, and evaluation. Data were extracted from 20 guidelines on the management of diabetes, hypertension, leg ulcer, and heart failure. Most contained a large volume of graded, narrative evidence, and tables featuring complementary clinical information. Few contained additional features that could improve guideline use. These included alternate versions for different users and purposes, summaries of evidence and recommendations, information to facilitate interaction with and involvement of patients, details of resource implications, and instructions on how to locally promote and monitor guideline use. There were no consistent trends by guideline topic.
Conclusions
Numerous opportunities were identified by which guidelines could be modified to support various types of decision making by different users. New governance structures may be required to accommodate development of guidelines with these features. Further research is needed to validate the proposed framework of guideline implementability, develop methods for preparing this information, and evaluate how inclusion of this information influences guideline use.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-6-26
PMCID: PMC3072935  PMID: 21426574
11.  An Electronic Clinical Decision Support Tool to Assist Primary Care Providers in Cardiovascular Disease Risk Management: Development and Mixed Methods Evaluation 
Background
Challenges remain in translating the well-established evidence for management of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk into clinical practice. Although electronic clinical decision support (CDS) systems are known to improve practitioner performance, their development in Australian primary health care settings is limited.
Objectives
Study aims were to (1) develop a valid CDS tool that assists Australian general practitioners (GPs) in global CVD risk management, and (2) preliminarily evaluate its acceptability to GPs as a point-of-care resource for both general and underserved populations.
Methods
CVD risk estimation (based on Framingham algorithms) and risk-based management advice (using recommendations from six Australian guidelines) were programmed into a software package. Tool validation: Data from 137 patients attending a physician’s clinic were analyzed to compare the tool’s risk scores with those obtained from an independently programmed algorithm in a separate statistics package. The tool’s management advice was compared with a physician’s recommendations based on a manual review of the guidelines. Field test: The tool was then tested with 21 GPs from eight general practices and three Aboriginal Medical Services. Customized CDS-based recommendations were generated for 200 routinely attending patients (33% Aboriginal) using information extracted from the health record by a research assistant. GPs reviewed these recommendations during each consultation. Changes in CVD risk factor measurement and management were recorded. In-depth interviews with GPs were conducted.
Results
Validation testing: The tool’s risk assessment algorithm correlated very highly with the independently programmed version in the separate statistics package (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.999). For management advice, there were only two cases of disagreement between the tool and the physician. Field test: GPs found 77% (153/200) of patient outputs easy to understand and agreed with screening and prescribing recommendations in 72% and 64% of outputs, respectively; 26% of patients had their CVD risk factor history updated; 73% had at least one CVD risk factor measured or tests ordered. For people assessed at high CVD risk (n = 82), 10% and 9%, respectively, had lipid-lowering and BP-lowering medications commenced or dose adjustments made, while 7% newly commenced anti-platelet medications. Three key qualitative findings emerged: (1) GPs found the tool enabled a systematic approach to care; (2) the tool greatly influenced CVD risk communication; (3) successful implementation into routine care would require integration with practice software, minimal data entry, regular revision with updated guidelines, and a self-auditing feature. There were no substantive differences in study findings for Aboriginal Medical Services GPs, and the tool was generally considered appropriate for use with Aboriginal patients.
Conclusion
A fully-integrated, self-populating, and potentially Internet-based CDS tool could contribute to improved global CVD risk management in Australian primary health care. The findings from this study will inform a large-scale trial intervention.
doi:10.2196/jmir.1258
PMCID: PMC2802562  PMID: 20018588
Decision support systems; clinical; cardiovascular diseases; physicians, family; Aborigines, Australian
12.  Guidelines on anticoagulant treatment in atrial fibrillation in Great Britain: variation in content and implications for treatment. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;316(7130):509-513.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the content of guidelines on the use of anticoagulant treatment in patients with atrial fibrillation and the impact of variations in guidelines on treatment. DESIGN: Postal survey of guidelines, semistructured interview with lead developers of guidelines, and application of guidelines to patient sample. SUBJECTS: 15 lead developers of the 20 guidelines identified in the postal survey were interviewed. 100 patients over 65 with atrial fibrillation to whom the guidelines were applied. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Evaluation of guidelines and the methods of dissemination, implementation, review, and evaluation; proportion of patients recommended for anticoagulant treatment by each guideline; and level of agreement between guidelines. RESULTS: There was considerable variation in whether anticoagulant treatment was recommended for subjects (range 13% to 100%, kappa = 0.12). Guidelines varied greatly in advice on treatment by age, the use of echocardiography, and the target value or range of the international normalised ratio (8 of the 20 guidelines included values unlikely to be effective). Development was unsystematic; evidence based approaches were rarely used, 9 of the 15 lead developers had developed the guidelines themselves, and the 6 guidelines developed by groups relied on informal consensus. Methods to support effective dissemination, implementation, and evaluation were limited. CONCLUSION: The widespread non-systematic production of guidelines has led to considerable variation with implications for the quality of care and clinical decision making. There is a need for a central, well funded programme of guideline development to ensure that valid guidelines are produced and disseminated.
PMCID: PMC2665660  PMID: 9501712
13.  An Evaluation of Web-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Managing Problems Associated with Cannabis Use 
Background
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit substance, and multiple treatment options and avenues exist for managing its use. There has been an increase in the development of clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) to improve standards of care in this area, many of which are disseminated online. However, little is known about the quality and accessibility of these online CPGs.
Objective
The purpose of study 1 was to determine the extent to which cannabis-related CPGs disseminated online adhere to established methodological standards. The purpose of study 2 was to determine if treatment providers are familiar with these guidelines and to assess their perceived quality of these guidelines.
Methods
Study 1 involved a systematic search using the Google Scholar search engine and the National Drugs Sector Information Service (NDSIS) website of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia (ADCA) to identify CPGs disseminated online. To be included in the current study, CPGs needed to be free of charge and provide guidance on psychological interventions for reducing cannabis use. Four trained reviewers independently assessed the quality of the 7 identified guidelines using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE II) tool. Study 2 assessed 166 Australian cannabis-use treatment providers’ (mean age = 45.47 years, SD 12.14) familiarity with and opinions of these 7 guidelines using an online survey. Treatment providers were recruited using online advertisements that directed volunteers to a link to complete the survey, which was posted online for 6 months (January to June 2012). Primary study outcomes included quality scores and rates of guideline familiarity, guideline use, and discovery methods.
Results
Based on the AGREE II, the quality of CPGs varied considerably. Across different reporting domains, adherence to methodological standards ranged from 0% to 92%. Quality was lowest in the domains of rigor of development (50%), applicability (46%), and editorial independence (30%). Although examination of AGREE II domain scores demonstrated that the quality of the 7 guidelines could be divided into 3 categories (high quality, acceptable to low quality, and very low quality), review of treatment providers’ quality perceptions indicated all guidelines fell into 1 category (acceptable quality). Based on treatment providers’ familiarity with and usage rates of the CPGs, a combination of peer/colleagues, senior professionals, workshops, and Internet dissemination was deemed to be most effective for promoting cannabis use CPGs. Lack of time, guideline length, conflicts with theoretical orientation, and prior content knowledge were identified as barriers to guideline uptake.
Conclusions
Developers of CPGs should improve their reporting of development processes, conflicts of interest, and CPGs’ applicability to practice, while remaining cognizant that long guidelines may deter implementation. Treatment providers need to be aware that the quality of cannabis-related CPGs varies substantially.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2319
PMCID: PMC3799569  PMID: 23249447
Cannabis; Marijuana Abuse; Addiction; Psychotherapy; Standards; Information Dissemination; Health Plan Implementation; Internet
14.  Improving the use of research evidence in guideline development: 3. Group composition and consultation process 
Background
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 third 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.
Objective
In this review we address the composition of guideline development groups and consultation processes during guideline development.
Methods
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
What should be the composition of a WHO-panel that is set up to develop recommendations?
The existing empirical evidence suggests that panel composition has an impact on the content of the recommendations that are made. There is limited research evidence to guide the exact composition of a panel. Based on logical arguments and the experience of other organisations we recommend the following:
• Groups that develop guidelines or recommendations should be broadly composed and include important stakeholders such as consumers, health professionals that work within the relevant area, and managers or policy makers.
• Groups should include or have access to individuals with the necessary technical skills, including information retrieval, systematic reviewing, health economics, group facilitation, project management, writing and editing.
• Groups should include or have access to content experts.
• To work well a group needs an effective leader, capable of guiding the group in terms of the task and process, and capable of facilitating collaboration and balanced contribution from all of the group members.
• Because many group members will not be familiar with the methods and processes that are used in developing recommendations, groups should be offered training and support to help ensure understanding and facilitate active participation.
What groups should be consulted when a panel is being set up?
We did not identify methodological research that addressed this question, but based on logical arguments and the experience of other organisations we recommend that as many relevant stakeholder groups as practical should be consulted to identify suitable candidates with an appropriate mix of perspectives, technical skills and expertise, as well as to obtain a balanced representation with respect to regions and gender.
What methods should WHO use to ensure appropriate consultations?
We did not find any references that addressed issues related to this question. Based on logical arguments and the experience of other organisations we believe that consultations may be desirable at several stages in the process of developing guidelines or recommendations, including:
• Identifying and setting priorities for guidelines and recommendations
• Commenting on the scope of the guidelines or recommendations
• Commenting on the evidence that is used to inform guidelines or recommendations
• Commenting on drafts of the guidelines or recommendations
• Commenting on plans for disseminating and supporting the adaptation and implementation of the guidelines or recommendations.
• Key stakeholder organisations should be contacted directly whenever possible.
• Consultation processes should be transparent and should encourage feedback from interested parties.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-4-15
PMCID: PMC1702349  PMID: 17134482
15.  What Guidance Are Researchers Given on How to Present Network Meta-Analyses to End-Users such as Policymakers and Clinicians? A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113277.
Introduction
Network meta-analyses (NMAs) are complex methodological approaches that may be challenging for non-technical end-users, such as policymakers and clinicians, to understand. Consideration should be given to identifying optimal approaches to presenting NMAs that help clarify analyses. It is unclear what guidance researchers currently have on how to present and tailor NMAs to different end-users.
Methods
A systematic review of NMA guidelines was conducted to identify guidance on how to present NMAs. Electronic databases and supplementary sources were searched for NMA guidelines. Presentation format details related to sample formats, target audiences, data sources, analysis methods and results were extracted and frequencies tabulated. Guideline quality was assessed following criteria developed for clinical practice guidelines.
Results
Seven guidelines were included. Current guidelines focus on how to conduct NMAs but provide limited guidance to researchers on how to best present analyses to different end-users. None of the guidelines provided reporting templates. Few guidelines provided advice on tailoring presentations to different end-users, such as policymakers. Available guidance on presentation formats focused on evidence networks, characteristics of individual trials, comparisons between direct and indirect estimates and assumptions of heterogeneity and/or inconsistency. Some guidelines also provided examples of figures and tables that could be used to present information.
Conclusions
Limited guidance exists for researchers on how best to present NMAs in an accessible format, especially for non-technical end-users such as policymakers and clinicians. NMA guidelines may require further integration with end-users' needs, when NMAs are used to support healthcare policy and practice decisions. Developing presentation formats that enhance understanding and accessibility of NMAs could also enhance the transparency and legitimacy of decisions informed by NMAs.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0113277
PMCID: PMC4269433  PMID: 25517510
16.  The guideline implementability research and application network (GIRAnet): an international collaborative to support knowledge exchange: study protocol 
Background
Modifying the format and content of guidelines may facilitate their use and lead to improved quality of care. We reviewed the medical literature to identify features desired by different users and associated with guideline use to develop a framework of implementability and found that most guidelines do not contain these elements. Further research is needed to develop and evaluate implementability tools.
Methods
We are launching the Guideline Implementability Research and Application Network (GIRAnet) to enable the development and testing of implementability tools in three domains: Resource Implications, Implementation, and Evaluation. Partners include the Guidelines International Network (G-I-N) and its member guideline developers, implementers, and researchers. In phase one, international guidelines will be examined to identify and describe exemplar tools. Indication-specific and generic tools will populate a searchable repository. In phase two, qualitative analysis of cognitive interviews will be used to understand how developers can best integrate implementability tools in guidelines and how health professionals use them for interpreting and applying guidelines. In phase three, a small-scale pilot test will assess the impact of implementability tools based on quantitative analysis of chart-based behavioural outcomes and qualitative analysis of interviews with participants. The findings will be used to plan a more comprehensive future evaluation of implementability tools.
Discussion
Infrastructure funding to establish GIRAnet will be leveraged with the in-kind contributions of collaborating national and international guideline developers to advance our knowledge of implementation practice and science. Needs assessment and evaluation of GIRAnet will provide a greater understanding of how to develop and sustain such knowledge-exchange networks. Ultimately, by facilitating use of guidelines, this research may lead to improved delivery and outcomes of patient care.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-26
PMCID: PMC3338081  PMID: 22471937
Guidelines; Guideline development; Guideline implementation; Research networks; Knowledge exchange
17.  WHO Essential Medicines Policies and Use in Developing and Transitional Countries: An Analysis of Reported Policy Implementation and Medicines Use Surveys 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(9):e1001724.
Kathleen Holloway and David Henry evaluate whether countries that report having implemented WHO essential medicines policies have higher quality use of medicines.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Suboptimal medicine use is a global public health problem. For 35 years the World Health Organization (WHO) has promoted essential medicines policies to improve quality use of medicines (QUM), but evidence of their effectiveness is lacking, and uptake by countries remains low. Our objective was to determine whether WHO essential medicines policies are associated with better QUM.
Methods and Findings
We compared results from independently conducted medicines use surveys in countries that did versus did not report implementation of WHO essential medicines policies. We extracted survey data on ten validated QUM indicators and 36 self-reported policy implementation variables from WHO databases for 2002–2008. We calculated the average difference (as percent) for the QUM indicators between countries reporting versus not reporting implementation of specific policies. Policies associated with positive effects were included in a regression of a composite QUM score on total numbers of implemented policies. Data were available for 56 countries. Twenty-seven policies were associated with better use of at least two percentage points. Eighteen policies were associated with significantly better use (unadjusted p<0.05), of which four were associated with positive differences of 10% or more: undergraduate training of doctors in standard treatment guidelines, undergraduate training of nurses in standard treatment guidelines, the ministry of health having a unit promoting rational use of medicines, and provision of essential medicines free at point of care to all patients. In regression analyses national wealth was positively associated with the composite QUM score and the number of policies reported as being implemented in that country. There was a positive correlation between the number of policies (out of the 27 policies with an effect size of 2% or more) that countries reported implementing and the composite QUM score (r = 0.39, 95% CI 0.14 to 0.59, p = 0.003). This correlation weakened but remained significant after inclusion of national wealth in multiple linear regression analyses. Multiple policies were more strongly associated with the QUM score in the 28 countries with gross national income per capita below the median value (US$2,333) (r = 0.43, 95% CI 0.06 to 0.69, p = 0.023) than in the 28 countries with values above the median (r = 0.22, 95% CI −0.15 to 0.56, p = 0.261). The main limitations of the study are the reliance on self-report of policy implementation and measures of medicine use from small surveys. While the data can be used to explore the association of essential medicines policies with medicine use, they cannot be used to compare or benchmark individual country performance.
Conclusions
WHO essential medicines policies are associated with improved QUM, particularly in low-income countries.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The widespread availability of effective medicines, particularly those used to treat infectious diseases, has been largely responsible for a doubling in the average global life expectancy over the past century. However, the suboptimal use (overuse and underuse) of medicines is an ongoing global public health problem. The unnecessary use of medicines (for example, the use of antibiotics for sore throats caused by viruses) needlessly consumes scarce resources and has undesirable effects such as encouraging the emergence of antibiotic resistance. Conversely, underuse deprives people of the undisputed benefits of many medicines. Since 1977, to help optimize medicine use, the World Health Organization (WHO) has advocated the concept of “essential medicines” and has developed policies to promote the quality use of medicines (QUM). Essential medicines are drugs that satisfy the priority needs of the human population and that should always be available to communities in adequate amounts of assured quality, in the appropriate dosage forms, and at an affordable price. Policies designed to promote QUM include recommendations that medicines should be free at the point of care and that all health care professionals should be educated about the WHO list of essential medicines (which is revised every two years) throughout their careers.
Why Was This Study Done?
Surveys of WHO member countries undertaken in 2003 and 2007 suggest that the implementation of WHO policies designed to promote QUM is patchy. Moreover, little is known about whether these policies are effective, particularly in middle- and low-income countries. For most of these countries, it is not known whether any of the policies affect validated QUM indicators such as the percentage of patients prescribed antibiotics (a lower percentage indicates better use of medicines) or the percentage of patients treated in compliance with national treatment guidelines (a higher percentage indicates better use of medicines). Here, the researchers analyze data from policy implementation questionnaires and medicine use surveys to determine whether implementation of WHO essential medicines policies is associated with improved QUM in low- and middle-income countries.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted data on ten validated QUM indicators and on implementation of 36 policy variables from WHO databases for 2002–2008 and compared the average differences for the QUM indicators between low- and middle-income countries that did versus did not report implementation of specific WHO policies for QUM. Among 56 countries for which data were available, 27 policies were associated with improved QUM. Four policies were particularly effective, namely, doctors' undergraduate training in standard treatment guidelines, nurses' undergraduate training in standard treatment guidelines, the existence of a ministry of health department promoting the rational use of medicines, and the provision of essential medicines free to all patients at point of care. The researchers also analyzed correlations between how many of the 27 effective policies were implemented in a country and a composite QUM score. As national wealth increased, both the composite QUM score of a country and the reported number of policies implemented by the country increased. There was also a positive correlation between the numbers of policies that countries reported implementing and their composite QUM score. Finally, the implementation of multiple policies was more strongly associated with the composite QUM score in countries with a gross national income per capita below the average for the study countries than in countries with a gross national income above the average.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that between 2002 and 2008, the reported implementation of WHO essential medicines policies was associated with better QUM across low- and middle-income countries. These findings also reveal a positive correlation between the number of policies that countries report implementing and their QUM. Notably, this correlation was strongest in the countries with the lowest per capita national wealth levels, which underscores the importance of essential medicines policies in low-income countries. Because of the nature of the data available to the researchers, these findings do not show that the implementation of WHO policies actually causes improvements in QUM. Moreover, the age of the data, the reliance on self-report of policy implementation, and the small sample sizes of the medicine use surveys may all have introduced some inaccuracies into these findings. Nevertheless, overall, these findings suggest that WHO should continue to develop its medicine policies and to collect data on medicine use as part of its core functions.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001724.
The World Health Organization provides information about essential medicines; its latest lists of essential medicines are available on the Internet; information about WHO policies to improve the quality use of medicines is also available (in several languages)
The International Network for the Rational Use of Drugs designs, tests, and disseminates effective strategies to improve the way drugs are prescribed, dispensed, and used, particularly in resource-poor countries
The essentialdrugs.org website helps health care professionals, researchers, and policy makers obtain and discuss current information on essential drugs, policy, program activities, education, and training (available in several languages); the website is run by Satellife, which aims to use technology to connect health workers in resource-limited countries to each other and to up-to-date clinical and public health content
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001724
PMCID: PMC4165598  PMID: 25226527
18.  Reporting Guidelines for Survey Research: An Analysis of Published Guidance and Reporting Practices 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(8):e1001069.
Carol Bennett and colleagues review the evidence and find that there is limited guidance and no consensus on the optimal reporting of survey research.
Background
Research needs to be reported transparently so readers can critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of the design, conduct, and analysis of studies. Reporting guidelines have been developed to inform reporting for a variety of study designs. The objective of this study was to identify whether there is a need to develop a reporting guideline for survey research.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a three-part project: (1) a systematic review of the literature (including “Instructions to Authors” from the top five journals of 33 medical specialties and top 15 general and internal medicine journals) to identify guidance for reporting survey research; (2) a systematic review of evidence on the quality of reporting of surveys; and (3) a review of reporting of key quality criteria for survey research in 117 recently published reports of self-administered surveys. Fewer than 7% of medical journals (n = 165) provided guidance to authors on survey research despite a majority having published survey-based studies in recent years. We identified four published checklists for conducting or reporting survey research, none of which were validated. We identified eight previous reviews of survey reporting quality, which focused on issues of non-response and accessibility of questionnaires. Our own review of 117 published survey studies revealed that many items were poorly reported: few studies provided the survey or core questions (35%), reported the validity or reliability of the instrument (19%), defined the response rate (25%), discussed the representativeness of the sample (11%), or identified how missing data were handled (11%).
Conclusions
There is limited guidance and no consensus regarding the optimal reporting of survey research. The majority of key reporting criteria are poorly reported in peer-reviewed survey research articles. Our findings highlight the need for clear and consistent reporting guidelines specific to survey research.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Surveys, or questionnaires, are an essential component of many types of research, including health, and usually gather information by asking a sample of people questions on a specific topic and then generalizing the results to a larger population. Surveys are especially important when addressing topics that are difficult to assess using other approaches and usually rely on self reporting, for example self-reported behaviors, such as eating habits, satisfaction, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, opinions. However, the methods used in conducting survey research can significantly affect the reliability, validity, and generalizability of study results, and without clear reporting of the methods used in surveys, it is difficult or impossible to assess these characteristics and therefore to have confidence in the findings.
Why Was This Study Done?
This uncertainty in other forms of research has given rise to Reporting Guidelines—evidence-based, validated tools that aim to improve the reporting quality of health research. The STROBE (STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology) Statement includes cross-sectional studies, which often involve surveys. But not all surveys are epidemiological, and STROBE does not include methods' and results' reporting characteristics that are unique to surveys. Therefore, the researchers conducted this study to help determine whether there is a need for a reporting guideline for health survey research.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified any previous relevant guidance for survey research, and any evidence on the quality of reporting of survey research, by: reviewing current guidance for reporting survey research in the “Instructions to Authors” of leading medical journals and in published literature; conducting a systematic review of evidence on the quality of reporting of surveys; identifying key quality criteria for the conduct of survey research; and finally, reviewing how these criteria are currently reported by conducting a review of recently published reports of self-administered surveys.
The researchers found that 154 of the 165 journals searched (93.3%) did not provide any guidance on survey reporting, even though the majority (81.8%) have published survey research. Only three of the 11 journals that provided some guidance gave more than one directive or statement. Five papers and one Internet site provided guidance on the reporting of survey research, but none used validated measures or explicit methods for development. The researchers identified eight papers that addressed the quality of reporting of some aspect of survey research: the reporting of response rates; the reporting of non-response analyses in survey research; and the degree to which authors make their survey instrument available to readers. In their review of 117 published survey studies, the researchers found that many items were poorly reported: few studies provided the survey or core questions (35%), reported the validity or reliability of the instrument (19%), discussed the representativeness of the sample (11%), or identified how missing data were handled (11%). Furthermore, (88 [75%]) did not include any information on consent procedures for research participants, and one-third (40 [34%]) of papers did not report whether the study had received research ethics board review.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Overall, these results show that guidance is limited and consensus lacking about the optimal reporting of survey research, and they highlight the need for a well-developed reporting guideline specifically for survey research—possibly an extension of the guideline for observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE)—that will provide the structure to ensure more complete reporting and allow clearer review and interpretation of the results from surveys.
Additional Information
Please access these web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001069.
More than 100 reporting guidelines covering a broad spectrum of research types are indexed on the EQUATOR Networks web site
More information about STROBE is available on the STROBE Statement web site
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001069
PMCID: PMC3149080  PMID: 21829330
19.  Experiences and barriers to implementation of clinical practice guideline for depression in Korea 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:150.
Background
Clinical guidelines can improve health-care delivery, but there are a number of challenges in adopting and implementing the current practice guidelines for depression. The aim of this study was to determine clinical experiences and perceived barriers to the implementation of these guidelines in psychiatric care.
Methods
A web-based survey was conducted with 386 psychiatric specialists to inquire about experiences and attitudes related to the depression guidelines and barriers influencing the use of the guidelines. Quantitative data were analyzed, and qualitative data were transcribed and coded manually.
Results
Almost three quarters of the psychiatrists (74.6%) were aware of the clinical guidelines for depression, and over half of participants (55.7%) had had clinical experiences with the guidelines in practice. The main reported advantages of the guidelines were that they helped in clinical decision making and provided informative resources for the patients and their caregivers. Despite this, some psychiatrists were making treatment decisions that were not in accordance with the depression guidelines. Lack of knowledge was the main obstacle to the implementation of guidelines assessed by the psychiatrists. Other complaints addressed difficulties in accessing the guidelines, lack of support for mental health services, and general attitudes toward guideline necessity. Overall, the responses suggested that adding a summary booklet, providing teaching sessions, and improving guidance delivery systems could be effective tools for increasing depression guideline usage.
Conclusion
Individual barriers, such as lack of awareness and lack of familiarity, and external barriers, such as the supplying system, can affect whether physicians’ implement the guidelines for the treatment of depression in Korea. These findings suggest that further medical education to disseminate guidelines contents could improve public health for depression.
doi:10.1186/1471-244X-13-150
PMCID: PMC3681685  PMID: 23705908
Depressive disorder; Practice guidelines; Health care surveys; Questionnaires
20.  Improving the use of research evidence in guideline development: 11. Incorporating considerations of cost-effectiveness, affordability and resource implications 
Background
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 11th 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.
Objectives
We reviewed the literature on incorporating considerations of cost-effectiveness, affordability and resource implications in guidelines and recommendations.
Methods
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
When is it important to incorporate cost-effectiveness, resource implications and affordability considerations in WHO guidelines (which topics)?
• For cost-effectiveness:
The need for cost/effectiveness information should be dictated by the specific question, of which several may be addressed in a single guideline. It is proposed that the indications for undertaking a cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) could be a starting point for determining which recommendation(s) in the guideline would benefit from such analysis.
• For resource implications/affordability:
The resource implications of each individual recommendation need to be considered when implementation issues are being discussed.
How can cost-effectiveness, resource implications and affordability be explicitly taken into account in WHO guidelines?
• For cost-effectiveness:
∘ If data are available, the ideal time to consider cost-effectiveness is during the evidence gathering and synthesizing stage. However, because of the inconsistent availability of CEAs and the procedural difficulty associated with adjusting results from different CEAs to make them comparable, it is also possible for cost-effectiveness to be considered during the stage of developing recommendations.
∘ Depending on the quantity and quality and relevance of the data available, such data can be considered in a qualitative way or in a quantitative way, ranging from a listing of the costs to a modelling exercise. At the very least, a qualitative approach like a commentary outlining the economic issues that need to be considered is necessary. If a quantitative approach is to be used, the full model should be transparent and comprehensive.
• For resource implications/affordability:
∘ Resource implications, including health system changes, for each recommendation in a WHO guideline should be explored. At the minimum, a qualitative description that can serve as a gross indicator of the amount of resources needed, relative to current practice, should be provided.
How does one provide guidance in contextualizing guideline recommendations at the country level based on considerations of cost-effectiveness, resource implications and affordability?
• All models should be made available and ideally are designed to allow for analysts to make changes in key parameters and reapply results in their own country.
• In the global guidelines, scenarios and extensive sensitivity/uncertainty analysis can be applied.
Resource implications for WHO
• From the above, it is clear that guidelines development groups will need a health economist. There is need to ensure that this is included in the budget for guidelines and that there is in-house support for this as well.
doi:10.1186/1478-4505-4-23
PMCID: PMC1764011  PMID: 17147813
21.  Addressing implementation challenges during guideline development – a case study of Swedish national guidelines for methods of preventing disease 
Background
Many of the world’s life threatening diseases (e.g. cancer, heart disease, stroke) could be prevented by eliminating life-style habits such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use. Incorporating evidence-based research on methods to change unhealthy lifestyle habits in clinical practice would be equally valuable. However gaps between guideline development and implementation are well documented, with implications for health care quality, safety and effectiveness. The development phase of guidelines has been shown to be important both for the quality in guideline content and for the success of implementation. There are, however, indications that guidelines related to general disease prevention methods encounter specific barriers compared to guidelines that are diagnosis-specific. In 2011 the Swedish National board for Health and Welfare launched guidelines with a preventive scope. The aim of this study was to investigate how implementation challenges were addressed during the development process of these disease preventive guidelines.
Methods
Seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with members of the guideline development management group. Archival data detailing the guideline development process were also collected and used in the analysis. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis as the analytical framework.
Results
The study identified several strategies and approaches that were used to address implementation challenges during guideline development. Four themes emerged from the analysis: broad agreements and consensus about scope and purpose; a formalized and structured development procedure; systematic and active involvement of stakeholders; and openness and transparency in the specific guideline development procedure. Additional factors concerning the scope of prevention and the work environment of guideline developers were perceived to influence the possibilities to address implementation issues.
Conclusions
This case study provides examples of how guideline developers perceive and approach the issue of implementation during the development and early launch of prevention guidelines. Models for guideline development could benefit from an initial assessment of how the guideline topic, its target context and stakeholders will affect the upcoming implementation.
doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0672-4
PMCID: PMC4308005  PMID: 25608684
Clinical practice guidelines; Development process; Evidence-based public health; Implementation; Disease prevention; Lifestyle change
22.  Diabetes and hypertension guidelines and the primary health care practitioner in Barbados: knowledge, attitudes, practices and barriers-a focus group study 
BMC Family Practice  2010;11:96.
Background
Audits have shown numerous deficiencies in the quality of hypertension and diabetes primary care in Barbados, despite distribution of regional guidelines. This study aimed to evaluate the knowledge, attitudes and practices, and the barriers faced by primary care practitioners in Barbados concerning the recommendations of available diabetes and hypertension guidelines.
Methods
Focus groups using a moderator's manual were conducted at all 8 public sector polyclinics, and 5 sessions were held for private practitioners.
Results
Polyclinic sessions were attended by 63 persons (17 physicians, 34 nurses, 3 dieticians, 3 podiatrists, 5 pharmacists, and 1 other), and private sector sessions by 20 persons (12 physicians, 1 nurse, 3 dieticians, 2 podiatrists and 2 pharmacists).
Practitioners generally thought they gave a good quality of care. Commonwealth Caribbean Medical Research Council 1995 diabetes and 1998 hypertension guidelines, and the Ministry of Health 2001 diabetes protocol had been seen by 38%, 32% and 78% respectively of polyclinic practitioners, 67%, 83%, and 33% of private physicians, and 25%, 0% and 38% of non-physician private practitioners. Current guidelines were considered by some to be outdated, unavailable, difficult to remember and lacking in advice to tackle barriers. Practitioners thought that guidelines should be circulated widely, promoted with repeated educational sessions, and kept short. Patient oriented versions of the guidelines were welcomed.
Patient factors causing barriers to ideal outcome included denial and fear of stigma; financial resources to access an appropriate diet, exercise and monitoring equipment; confusion over medication regimens, not valuing free medication, belief in alternative medicines, and being unable to change habits. System barriers included lack of access to blood investigations, clinic equipment and medication; the lack of human resources in polyclinics; and an uncoordinated team approach. Patients faced cultural barriers with regards to meals, exercise, appropriate body size, footwear, medication taking, and taking responsibility for one's health; and difficulty getting time off work to attend clinic.
Conclusions
Guidelines need to be promoted repeatedly, and implemented with strategies to overcome barriers. Their development and implementation must be guided by input from all providers on the primary health care team.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-11-96
PMCID: PMC3014884  PMID: 21129180
23.  Do guidelines influence the implementation of health programs? — Uganda’s experience 
Background
A guideline contains processes and procedures intended to guide health service delivery. However, the presence of guidelines may not guarantee their implementation, which may be a result of weaknesses in the development process. This study was undertaken to describe the processes of developing health planning, services management, and clinical guidelines within the health sector in Uganda, with the goal of understanding how these processes facilitate or abate the utility of guidelines.
Methods
Qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to collect and analyze data. Data collection was undertaken at the levels of the central Ministry of Health, the district, and service delivery. Qualitative methods included review of documents, observations, and key informant interviews, as well as quantitative aspects included counting guidelines. Quantitative data were analyzed with Microsoft Excel, and qualitative data were analyzed using deductive content thematic analysis.
Results
There were 137 guidelines in the health sector, with programs related to Millennium Development Goals having the highest number (n = 83). The impetus for guideline development was stated in 78% of cases. Several guidelines duplicated content, and some conflicted with each other. The level of consultation varied, and some guidelines did not consider government-wide policies and circumstances at the service delivery level. Booklets were the main format of presentation, which was not tailored to the service delivery level. There was no framework for systematic dissemination, and target users were defined broadly in most cases. Over 60% of guidelines available at the central level were not available at the service delivery level, but there were good examples in isolated cases. There was no framework for systematic monitoring of use, evaluation, and review of guidelines. Suboptimal performance of the supervision framework that would encourage the use of guidelines, assess their utilization, and provide feedback was noted.
Conclusions
Guideline effectiveness is compromised by the development process. To ensure the production of high-quality guidelines, efforts must be employed at the country and regional levels. The regional level can facilitate pooling resources and expertise in knowledge generation, methodology development, guideline repositories, and capacity building. Countries should establish and enforce systems and guidance on guideline development.
doi:10.1186/1748-5908-7-98
PMCID: PMC3534441  PMID: 23068082
Guidelines; Implementation; Health services; Planning; Management; Uganda
24.  From policy to practice: implementation of physical activity and food policies in schools 
Purpose
Public policies targeting the school setting are increasingly being used to address childhood obesity; however, their effectiveness depends on their implementation. This study explores the factors which impeded or facilitated the implementation of publicly mandated school-based physical activity and nutrition guidelines in the province of British Columbia (BC), Canada.
Methods
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 50 school informants (17 principals - 33 teacher/school informants) to examine the factors associated with the implementation of the mandated Daily Physical Activity (DPA) and Food and Beverage Sales in Schools (FBSS) guidelines. Coding used a constructivist grounded theory approach. The first five transcripts and every fifth transcript thereafter were coded by two independent coders with discrepancies reconciled by a third coder. Data was coded and analysed in the NVivo 9 software. Concept maps were developed and current theoretical perspectives were integrated in the later stages of analysis.
Results
The Diffusion of Innovations Model provided an organizing framework to present emergent themes. With the exception of triability (not relevant in the context of mandated guidelines/policies), the key attributes of the Diffusion of Innovations Model (relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, and observability) provided a robust framework for understanding themes associated with implementation of mandated guidelines. Specifically, implementation of the DPA and FBSS guidelines was facilitated by perceptions that they: were relatively advantageous compared to status quo; were compatible with school mandates and teaching philosophies; had observable positive impacts and impeded when perceived as complex to understand and implement. In addition, a number of contextual factors including availability of resources facilitated implementation.
Conclusions
The enactment of mandated policies/guidelines for schools is considered an essential step in improving physical activity and healthy eating. However, policy makers need to: monitor whether schools are able to implement the guidelines, support schools struggling with implementation, and document the impact of the guidelines on students’ behaviors. To facilitate the implementation of mandated guidelines/policies, the Diffusion of Innovations Model provides an organizational framework for planning interventions. Changing the school environment is a process which cannot be undertaken solely by passive means as we know that such approaches have not resulted in adequate implementation.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-71
PMCID: PMC3681662  PMID: 23731803
Physical education; Physical activity; Nutrition; School policies; School guidelines; Implementation; Uptake; Barriers; Facilitators; Qualitative
25.  Hypertension guidelines and their effects on the health system 
Introduction
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.
Question
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?
Methodology
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.
Results
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.
Discussion
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).
Conclusion
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

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