High quantity and variable quality of guidelines for acute pancreatitis: a systematic review

Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul;105(7):1466-76. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2010.137.


Objectives: Several clinical guidelines exist for acute pancreatitis, with varying recommendations. The aim of this study was to determine the quality of guidelines for acute pancreatitis.

Methods: A literature search identified relevant guidelines, which were then reviewed to determine their document format and scope and the presence of endorsement by a professional body. The quality of guidelines was determined using the validated Grilli, Shaneyfelt, and AGREE instruments.

Results: Twenty-one of the 30 guidelines analyzed were endorsed by professional bodies. Median quality scores were as follows: Grilli, 2; Shaneyfelt, 13; and AGREE, 50. Guideline quality did not improve over time. Guidelines endorsed by a professional body had higher scores than those without official endorsement. Guidelines with tables, a recommendations summary, evidence grading, and audit goals had significantly higher scores than guidelines lacking those features.

Conclusions: The many clinical guidelines for acute pancreatitis range widely in quality. Guidelines developed by professional bodies, and those with tables, a recommendations summary, evidence grading, and audit goals, are of higher quality. Further research is required to determine whether guideline quality alters clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Gastroenterology / standards*
  • Humans
  • Pancreatitis / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*