Clinical practice guidelines: the need for greater transparency in formulating recommendations.
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A recently published critique of a set of Australian clinical practice guidelines (CPG) highlighted problematic issues in guideline development concerning conflicts of interest of guideline panellists, validity and strength of recommendations, and involvement of end users and external stakeholders. Management of financial or intellectual conflicts of interest requires: full disclosure; limitations on industry or agency financial support during guideline development; a representative panel that includes conflict-free members; and only conflict-free panellists to be involved in drafting guideline recommendations. Guideline panels should consider adopting the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system to assist in determining the validity and strength of recommendations. Guideline panels should seek formal feedback from external stakeholders and end users. Enacting such policies aims to lend greater transparency and credibility to CPG, limit protracted and unhelpful interpretive debates, and promote wider use of CPG.
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