New methods facilitated the process of prioritizing questions and health outcomes in guideline development Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background

    Health guideline development requires sequential prioritization of the guideline topic, questions, and health outcomes. In this paper we report on new approaches for prioritizing questions and outcomes in guidelines.


    Ten guideline panels on venous thromboembolism rated potential guideline questions on a 9-point scale according to their overall importance and 6 criteria: common in practice, uncertainty in practice, variation in practice, new evidence available, cost consequences, not previously addressed. We randomized panelists to rate one potential question with and without the 6 criteria. Panelists rated importance of outcomes, defined with health outcome descriptors (HODs), using a 9-point scale, and health utility of outcomes on a visual analogue scale.


    Of 469 potential questions identified, 72.5% were rated as important but not of high priority, and 25.4% as high priority. Each criterion was significantly associated with the overall importance rating. The overall importance rating means were 5.96 (SD 2.38) and 6.53 (SD 2.45) (P = 0.25) for those randomized to rate questions with and without the criteria, respectively. The mean importance rating for 121 outcomes was 6.01 (SD 1.25), with 35.5% rated as critical for decision-making. Panelists provided health utility ratings for 127 outcomes, with a minimum mean rating of 0.12 (SD 0.10) and maximum of 0.91 (SD 0.15).


    Our structured process provided information to help explain perspectives of question importance, to facilitate panels' outcome prioritization, and to facilitate decision-making in guideline development.

publication date

  • March 2022