Laboratory medicine practice guidelines (LMPGs) are an important part of clinical laboratory medicine. The Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II (AGREE II) instrument has been developed to evaluate the process of practice-guideline development and the quality of reporting. We assessed the applicability of AGREE II in assessing the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry (NACB) LMPGs.
The NACB website was searched for all available LMPGs up to December 2011. Two independent appraisers used the AGREE II instrument to assess each LMPG identified by the search. Quality was assessed across 6 domains (scope and purpose, stakeholder involvement, rigor of development, clarity of presentation, applicability, and editorial independence), comprising a total of 23 items and 2 overall assessments, each scored on a 7-point scale (1, strongly disagree, to 7, strongly agree). All scores were expressed as AGREE II calculated percentages (100% indicates that all items scored 7 by all appraisers).
Eleven LMPGs were identified. All of the LMPGs provided some information seen as applicable to clinical practice by the appraisers. Only 5 of the LMPGs had overall scores ≥50%, with a median score of 42% (range: 8%–92%). Individual domain scores varied considerably from 0% to 100%. One guideline achieved a very high score on the instrument.
The AGREE II instrument is applicable and useful to evaluate LMPGs. All domains were evaluated as being useful to assess LMPGs, some were addressed well (e.g., clarity of presentation), whereas others could be improved (e.g., applicability).