Background: Guidelines translate best evidence into best practice. A well-crafted guideline promotes quality by reducing health-care variations, improving diagnostic accuracy, promoting effective therapy, and discouraging ineffective-or potentially harmful-interventions. Despite a plethora of published guidelines, methodology is often poorly defined and varies greatly within and among organizations.
Purpose: This manual describes the principles and practices used successfully by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery to produce quality-driven, evidence-based guidelines using efficient and transparent methodology for action-ready recommendations with multidisciplinary applicability. The development process, which allows moving from conception to completion in 12 months, emphasizes a logical sequence of key action statements supported by amplifying text, evidence profiles, and recommendation grades that link action to evidence.
Conclusions: As clinical practice guidelines become more prominent as a key metric of quality health care, organizations must develop efficient production strategies that balance rigor and pragmatism. Equally important, clinicians must become savvy in understanding what guidelines are-and are not-and how they are best utilized to improve care. The information in this manual should help clinicians and organizations achieve these goals.