Assessment of health systems guidance using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation – Health Systems (AGREE-HS) instrument
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Health systems guidance (HSG) documents contain systematically developed statements or recommendations intended to address a health system challenge. The concept of HSG is fairly new and considerable effort has been undertaken to build tools to support the contextualization of recommendations. One example is the Appraisal of Guidelines for REsearch and Evaluation - Health Systems (AGREE-HS), created by international stakeholders and researchers, to assist in the development, reporting and evaluation of HSG. Here, we present the quality appraisal of 85 HSG documents published from 2012 to 2017 using the AGREE-HS. The AGREE-HS consists of five items (Topic, Participants, Methods, Recommendations, and Implementability), which are scored on a 7-point response scale (1=lowest quality; 7=highest quality). Overall, AGREE-HS item scores were highest for the 'Topic' and 'Recommendations' items (means above the mid-point of 4), while the 'Participants', 'Methods', and 'Implementability' items received lower scores. Documents without a specific health focus and those authored by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence group, achieved higher AGREE-HS overall scores than their comparators. No statistically significant changes in overall scores were observed over time. This is the first time that the AGREE-HS has been applied, providing a current quality status report of HSG and identifying where improvements in HSG development and reporting can be made.
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