Classifying recommendations for clinical practice guidelines

Pediatrics. 2004 Sep;114(3):874-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2004-1260.


Clinical practice guidelines are intended to improve the quality of clinical care by reducing inappropriate variations, producing optimal outcomes for patients, minimizing harm, and promoting cost-effective practices. This statement proposes an explicit classification of recommendations for clinical practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to promote communication among guideline developers, implementers, and other users of guideline knowledge, to improve consistency, and to facilitate user understanding. The statement describes 3 sequential activities in developing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines and related policies: 1) determination of the aggregate evidence quality in support of a proposed recommendation; 2) evaluation of the anticipated balance between benefits and harms when the recommendation is carried out; and 3) designation of recommendation strength. An individual policy can be reported as a "strong recommendation," "recommendation," "option," or "no recommendation." Use of this classification is intended to improve consistency and increase the transparency of the guideline-development process, facilitate understanding of AAP clinical practice guidelines, and enhance both the utility and credibility of AAP clinical practice guidelines.

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine / classification*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards
  • Humans
  • Organizational Policy
  • Pediatrics
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic* / standards
  • Societies, Medical / organization & administration
  • United States