Schizophrenia guidelines across the world: a selective review and comparison

Int Rev Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;23(4):379-87. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2011.606801.


Treatment guidelines provide evidence-based recommendations to assist practitioners in specific clinical situations. They are a major tool to assure and enhance treatment quality and to overcome existing disparities. However, guideline quality itself varies and needs to be considered. Based on a former review, schizophrenia guidelines with high methodological quality were identified and examined regarding updated versions. Five guidelines were selected, of which three updates have been newly evaluated with the AGREE instrument. In addition, clinical content regarding seven core topics in schizophrenia treatment decisions was compared. Guideline quality on average is good, with highest AGREE scores for the NICE guideline. Updating of the German guideline resulted in noticeable quality improvements. Regarding content, recommendations largely correspond in five areas across guidelines, whereas discrepancies or vagueness exist in two areas due to newly emerging (drug choice) or still restricted evidence (duration of antipsychotic treatment). There are increasing efforts to develop guidelines with improved quality. Also, there is a need to equalize and improve healthcare quality across countries. Since many formal and content-related issues are 'universal', development of trans-national guidelines seems indicated. Nevertheless, core guideline recommendations should be adapted to regional conditions using available tools for adaptation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / statistics & numerical data
  • Healthcare Disparities / standards
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / standards*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards*
  • Schizophrenia / rehabilitation
  • Schizophrenia / therapy*