Clinical Practice Guidelines: Tools to Support High Quality Patient Care
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Clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) are systematically-developed statements aimed to assist decision-making relevant to the clinical encounter, to inform clinical policy, and to strengthen health care systems. The development of a CPG begins with the identification of a problem for which evidence-informed guidance is required. Interdisciplinary panels work to craft - and then execute - a protocol that will serve as a blueprint for the development process. It includes the scope of the project; who is involved and how they will function; the specific systematic review and consensus methods that will be used to ensure quality recommendations and to mitigate bias. CPGs should undergo a formal review of relevant stakeholders and results of this review, actions taken by the panel, and the final recommendations should be documented in the final CPG report. Dissemination activities, including the use of social media platforms, and more purposefully designed implementation activities are required to optimize the adoption of recommendations. Methods to keep recommendations current are required to ensure on-going validity and credibility of the recommendations. Two tools, AGREE II, and the AGREE REX, provide quality criteria related to the whole CPG development process and the CPG recommendations, respectively. The AGREE II is comprised of 23 items within 6 CPG quality domains: scope and purpose, stakeholder involvement, rigor, clarity of presentation, applicability, and editorial independence. The AGREE REX is comprised of 9 items within 3 CPG Recommendation quality domains: clinical applicability, values and preferences, and implementability. CPGs are important tools to an overall quality agenda.
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