Challenges of Guidelines: A Look at the Systematic Review of Clinical Guidelines Related to the Care of Individuals With Cerebral Palsy
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This essay is an invited commentary on the report "Systematic Review of Clinical Guidelines Related to Care of Individuals With Cerebral Palsy as Part of the World Health Organization Efforts to Develop a Global Package of Interventions for Rehabilitation" published in this journal. As a blinded reviewer of the original and revised versions of this interesting article, I was stimulated to reflect on several ideas about "clinical guidelines" and to take the opportunity to share concerns I have long held and that this article identified. Having said that, the thoughts expressed are mine alone and should not be ascribed to the authors of the article that provoked them. The case I offer is that guidelines may in some ways risk being outdated, insofar as they are crafted based on what we already know from research done in "earlier" times and with different conceptual frameworks than we now apply. I use the example of 20th century concerns about spasticity to illustrate my argument. I also suggest that they may be too prescriptive and restrictive. Instead, I raise for consideration the idea that we should turn the guidelines process on its head and use best available valid data to build toward contextualized problem-focused approaches to issues that are relevant to the individuals for whom they are meant to be useful- in this case, individuals with cerebral palsy, their families, and the service providers who work with them. It is my hope that these ideas stimulate discussion and reflection.
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